At TreVista Senior Living, an assisted-living and memory care center in Antioch, fostering a family atmosphere is at the heart of the business’s mission.
“Our philosophy is to have a family environment to promote our residents’ independence while giving them a quality of life and monitoring health and safety,” said Sonya Smith, TreVista executive director and geriatric nurse. “We treat everyone like family, so they don’t feel institutionalized.”
Smith noted each resident has their own apartment and the staff offers a wide range of assistance, from making sure seniors are safe while getting in and out of the shower or helping with medications to providing activities the individual once enjoyed to help stimulate memories. Those at TreVista also work to make sure there are opportunities for residents to remain a part of their local community.
“TreVista is greatly involved with our local community,” said Smith, adding the center sponsors the Antioch, Pittsburg and Brentwood chambers of commerce and residents participate in local events. “We work to make sure our residents feel connected. Whether it’s a car show or a parade, it really means a lot to our residents to have that connection.”
For loved ones with memory challenges, Smith recommends that family members learn to recognize signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in order to make the appropriate plans for long-term care. According to Alzheimer’s Association, early symptoms can include difficulty completing once-familiar tasks, challenges solving problems, trouble understanding images or spatial relationships, changes in mood and personality, memory loss that disrupts daily life, among others. Smith expanded on this concept of memory loss in aging individuals.
“As we age, there’s what we call the ‘normal aging process,’” she said. “We’re going to be more forgetful — it just comes with aging. But when you start noticing things that are red flags, things that make you think, ‘That doesn’t seem like Mom’ — not just losing the keys, but they left the water running, or accidentally ran into the curb with the car, or they get lost — getting plans in place sooner rather than later is beneficial.”
Smith recommended family members form plans A, B and C and learn about a variety of places that offer care.
“We all offer similar services, but each community is different,” she said. “Much like how some friends’ houses are more welcoming than others, you’ll want to look into that personal experience of each home.”
Smith recognized the transition in living situations to be difficult for not only the individual but also the family members observing the progression of the illness, which is why creating a family environment for the senior is a top priority for TreVista. Community members have recognized this family feeling.
“I was very impressed with the facility and all that it offers! It’s family-friendly,” wrote Vicki Easterday in an online review. “They encourage family members to come visit their loved ones as often as they can, eat with them whenever they can and even enjoy their activities room (painting, games, etc.) with a family fun night! I would recommend them highly!”
For Smith, becoming a geriatric nurse stems from her passion to help others and also the personal experience of watching her great-grandmother change before her eyes due to Alzheimer’s disease.
“I remember (my great-grandmother) being very classy and wearing high heels every day. Her hair was always put together, her lipstick on — driving the newest Cadillac out there,” Smith said with a fond chuckle. “When she started declining, she lived with it for three years. She was nonverbal a lot; we had to help her eat. We really tried to be there for her. I remember one time when I was with her, she wasn’t yelling but expressing herself with noises. I held her hand and looked in her eyes — and you can see it in their eyes. She looked at me like ‘help.’ The music was on, and I said, ‘Let’s dance, Grandma,’ and we just danced. It’s those simple things of remembering that, whatever illness it is, it’s important to remember that they’re not their illness; they are a human being with memories in their life and a legacy to still share.”
In terms of finances, Smith explained that even though assisted living is paid for through private funds, the staff will help families understand options and play an active role in finding the right resources, such as long-term care insurance or benefits available for veterans.
“To be able to work with our families and residents and be there to help them and not focusing just on their disease but on them as a person and their legacy and sharing those memories at times and looking at photos with them — that is the best reward,” Smith said. “We are blessed to have this opportunity that families trust us to be there and share in the memories; it’s very dear to my heart because that is somebody’s family.”
TreVista is located at 3950 Lone Tree Way, in Antioch. For more information, visit www.trevista-antioch.com or call 925-470-3395.