Individual autonomy is one of the most important qualities a person can possess when they reach a certain age. Making the decision to move to a senior living community instills many with resignation; rather than making the choice because it will enhance their time of life, they worry it will steal their independence. In countering this common misconception, StoryPoint Senior Living developed its entire philosophy for residents.
StoryPoint Senior Living works to design each resident’s experience around the individual, their capabilities, and their interests. With independent and enhanced living options, StoryPoint differs from most assisted living communities and nursing facilities. Jeannie Nowarita, Community Specialist for StoryPoint Chesterton, explained that personal choice is at the heart of their organization.
“I think the thing that makes StoryPoint unique, the main thing, is that we reach potential residents at a point that they’re able to choose, which is a lot different from skilled nursing and assisted living communities,” she said. “We serve a different demographic than assisted living and skilled nursing communities, which have more limited options.”
When people consider making the transition to a senior living community, some of them dwell on the idea that they’re downsizing to make their lives more manageable. At StoryPoint, rightsizing is a more fitting term, not just in terms of space but in lifestyle.
“I think people think that, as they get older, they have to turn to assisted living. We’re called an unlicensed community, where we have the ability for a resident to make the choice to rightsize and come and get an apartment when it’s right for them,” Nowarita said.
In apartments, residents have the option to bring in their own furniture, artwork, and miscellaneous home decor, making their living space personalized rather than generalized.
“We want residents to be able to choose the things that are important to them and what they want to let go of, rather than making that decision for them. That’s key,” Nowarita said.
Those same decisions apply to daily routines and activities.
“Another key [at StoryPoint] is the ability to focus more on what you want to do and less on what you don’t want to do,” Nowarita said. “For instance, there are people who come to our community who absolutely hate cooking. If they don’t have to cook another day in their life, that’s a win for them. We have an executive chef who cooks gourmet meals for residents—we’re not talking hospital grade food, we’re talking delicious food.”
StoryPoint builds residents’ culinary experiences around them, crafting menus around each resident’s input, feedback, and dietary requests. Partnerships to secure locally sourced and fresh ingredients keep rotating menus exciting.
“On the flip side of that,” Nowarita said, “we have people who love to cook and be able to eat what they cook. Our chef does cooking demos and special cooking demonstrations during holidays to give residents a chance to come into the gourmet kitchen, watch the chef prepare the meal, and try it themselves.”
StoryPoint’s Executive Chef demonstrates a mix of residents’ favorites along with enticing new dishes. For residents who have other interests, StoryPoint offers a wealth of activities.
“We have activities for all different interests. For example, we have a lot of residents who love to make art, and they can choose if they want to participate when we host group art activities,” Nowarita said. “They also get to decide, ‘Do I want to keep these things, or give them to the community?’”
Nowarita gave a perfect example of an art-making venture at StoryPoint Chesterton with a more meaningful outcome. A recent group activity allowed residents to create paintings for the first responders and essential employees working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff members and residents signed the paintings and wrote thank you notes on their gifts of artwork.
And when it comes to times free from the restrictions of a global virus, residents have the option to either take advantage of StoryPoint Chesterton’s transportation services or drive their own vehicles to visit shops, breweries and wineries, plays and musicals, museums, and other options for entertainment. The absence of traveling restrictions is another key, distinguishing factor between StoryPoint and assisted living or skilled nursing facilities.
“Some residents may hate driving and never want to do it again, and so they can take advantage of our transportation. And when they do, we’re not telling them, ‘You can only do these things,’ we’re saying, ‘Here are all the things you can do—choose what you’d like,’” Nowarita said.
Just because residents who come to StoryPoint are in the perfect place to make independent decisions to rightsize, doesn’t mean StoryPoint isn’t right for those who need more assistance.
“StoryPoint allows residents to age in place. They have freedom to have outside home care professionals, physical and occupational therapists, and skilled nurses come right to the building,” Nowarita said. “Residents can up their level of care as needed. Someone can stay in our community all the way up to hospice and end-of-life care. We have quite a few residents who have dementia, and they’re able to keep their independence in place because we’re structured and give them reminders of the things they love and the things they need to stay happy and thriving.”
Nowarita takes particular pride in this aspect of StoryPoint, and in the community’s care for both residents and their families.
“I’m just so passionate about our model, I love it. I feel like we fit a niche that isn’t anywhere else in the area, one that gives people so much freedom and the ability to stay as independent as possible, for as long as possible,” she said.
She explained how one of her colleagues, executive director Courtney Fokianos, is dedicated to showering love on her residents and their families. It’s her number-one focus, Nowarita said, and one that makes StoryPoint Chesterton even more of a distinguished presence in the Region.
“Seniors often feel invisible; I hear that a lot from them. When they come to our community, they feel seen for who they are and what they love,” Nowarita said. “Here, residents are very valued, seen, heard, respected. That makes us different, and it makes us special.”
To learn more about rightsizing options at StoryPoint Chesterton, visit https://www.storypoint.com/chesterton-in/.