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Fresh Air Vital for Living, Healing

16 Jul 2012
Bonnie Sandler S.W., The Senior Times – July 2012

Montreal has its share of hot and humid days, but most summer days offer enjoyable weather. On those days, residents of care facilities or care floors in residences should have access to the outdoors.

When visiting care residences, you may be shown lovely terraces and garden areas, but it’s sometimes hard to assess how well the areas are used. You must ask questions to determine whether your loved one will enjoy fresh air when the weather permits.

One lady at a local residence decided dancing was called for at a BBQ. Photo: Bonnie Sandler
Ask for a summer activity schedule. If the residence offers different levels of care, such as autonomous, assisted living and full care, you will need to carefully review the schedule to assess whether these activities are offered to all residents. In a “care only” residence, it will be easier to understand the use of outdoor facilities since the activities are not divided among residents on different levels of care.

If shopping for a residence during nice weather, pay attention to the number of residents outdoors and whether they are engaged in an activity with staff. Are there shaded and appealing areas? Are drinks provided? Is there music? Supervision? If there are only a handful of people outdoors, ask why. Is it a staffing issue? If the residence does not have enough staff to provide adequate supervision, access to the outdoors might be limited.

Residents fortunate enough to have loved ones in Montreal may enjoy a walk during visits.

Residents of care facilities or care floors are not always able to express their needs or desires, so staff should have a good understanding of each person and encourage and assist those who would benefit from being outside. It is not always important to have an organized activity; sitting outdoors with music can be an enjoyable activity in itself.

I asked staff at a residence about a walking club for my client, who is in good physical shape but not able to take walks on his own. I was told that it would take up too much of one staff person’s time to accommodate just a few people. But the recreation director might have assumed that there was little interest, instead of asking residents or their families. I advised the family to consider hiring a private companion for walks.

One of the small family residences that I work with has a large swing in the front of the home which, in nice weather, is usually full. The manager has told me that as much as she has tried to use the backyard garden, residents enjoy sitting in the front of the home where they can see the lively street action. The smiling faces of the residents say it all.

Residents enjoyed fresh air, change of scenery, fun food and good music during a facility’s BBQ. One lady decided that dancing was in order. Breathing fresh air is not a luxury. It should be a given.


Bonnie Sandler

Residential Real Estate Broker, Housing Consultant for Seniors

514 497-3775