A senior living community with purpose | SteamboatToday.com

A senior living community with purpose

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Residents at Casey's Pond enjoy exciting, enriching lives

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Casey's Pond

A typical day at Casey's Pond in Steamboat Springs might start with a walk around the pond or coffee with friends followed by painting a canvas or riding a bike on local trails. What the day surely won't entail is cleaning, laundry or shoveling snow — unless you want to, of course.

Whether you're sick of mowing the lawn and just want an easier living situation, or you're unable to do the things you used to do, this type of senior living community offers residents a range of services that seek to provide residents with the highest quality of life imaginable.

And you don't have to give up any independence or freedom, either. That's part of the thinking behind the Eden Alternative philosophy, for which the culture at Casey's Pond is modeled.

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"The Eden Alternative is really all about eliminating the institutional model of care and services — the regimented, paternalistic sterile settings where older adults have little choice or independence — and replacing it with a culture where people have choices, make their own decisions, have purpose and roles to play in the community," said Jill Vitale-Aussem, Vice President of Consulting Services for Capella Living Solutions, which manages Casey's Pond. "The Eden Alternative balances receiving care with the ability to give back, which is crucial to overall well being. Purpose and being needed are essential at every age."


Casey's Pond culture focuses on what seniors can do rather than what they can't do. When the basic needs such as housekeeping, transportation and meals are provided, residents can focus on doing the things they enjoy.

"We have a resident-driven culture here that takes away that stigma of being in a senior community," said Melissa Lahay, Director of Sales and Marketing at Casey's Pond.
One of the apartments, for example, has been transformed into a creative arts center thanks to the passion for the arts of several residents. Now residents can sculpt, paint, carve wood, sew or do other crafts either in a group setting or on their own, Lahay said.

"That was all driven by the residents and what they wanted," she said.

Vitale-Aussem said the Eden Alternative is about looking forward in life. Rather than ask residents who they were or what they did in their lives, this philosophy focuses on the gifts and passions they'll bring to the community and what they hope to do next with their lives.

"No matter what the setting, older adults can become institutionalized, and start seeing only the limitations of being older or having physical or cognitive challenges," she said. "The Eden Alternative focuses on possibilities and growth."

Living long, fulfilling lives

Another philosophy model at Casey's Pond is Blue Zones, which Lifestyle Director Cathy Reese said complements the Eden Alternative and vice versa. Blue Zones is a concept based on research and the book, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer,” by Dan Buettner that says the world's geographic areas with the longest living residents share nine specific traits — they have purpose, move naturally, routinely down shift to eliminate stress, stop eating when they're 80 percent full, favor a plant-based diet, drink alcohol moderately and regularly, feel a sense of belonging, put their families first and socialize with others who also practice these healthy habits. (Visit bluezones.com for more information about this research or Buettner's books.)

Reese said there's a wonderful "wine at 5" happy hour social every day for residents who want it, and activities that help manage stress are increasingly part of the daily calendar, such as a class on breathing and mindful movement, or creative arts time that allows for relaxing, meaningful time spent together.

"We don't stop growing until we die — the lifestyle here is about continued growth, good social engagement and we expose residents to these lifestyle philosophies and never force anything on them, Reese said. "Blue Zones is not just about living longer, it's about living well."

Eden Alternative and Blue Zones principles

Casey’s Pond operates under two different sets of guiding philosophies. The Eden Alternative strives to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom through strong relationships, spontaneity, meaningful activities, independence and growth, among other methods.

Blue Zones is a concept based on the nine healthy habits shared by people who have lived longest in certain geographic areas around the world: Move naturally, have purpose, unwind from stress, don’t overeat, eat a majority of plant-based foods, drink wine or alcohol moderately and regularly, have a sense of belonging, put loved ones first, and socialize with others who practice healthy habits.

Casey’s Pond open house

Casey’s Pond is celebrating a new neighborhood within its community with an open house and tour on Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. The Cove is a new neighborhood on the first floor that offers efficiency apartments, a more affordable living option for those who prefer to dine and socialize outside of their residences. These 10 studio apartments are available to both independent and assisted living residents.

For more information, visit http://www.caseyspond.org or call 970-439-2295. The tour is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.