Waters of Oakdale - Building a thriving senior community

Waters of Oakdale
Waters of Oakdale
The restaurant also features a fireplace, piano and scenic view, along with homemade, organic menu items.
The restaurant also features a fireplace, piano and scenic view, along with homemade, organic menu items.
Residents socialize around a puzzle before dinner.
Residents socialize around a puzzle before dinner.

For many senior citizens, making the transition from the home they raised their family in to a senior living community can be daunting.

Arline "Spike" Kenow, 89, knows the feeling well. After her husband died, she moved into an apartment at the Waters of Oakdale, where she wouldn't have to worry about the grind of household upkeep and cooking because cleaning, concierge and salon services are all offered in-house.

Better yet, her new home comes equipped with round-the-clock patient care services to insure she'll always receive the care she needs in the comfort of her new home.

The Waters invested in the registered nurse model, employing nurses who are capable of administering care on the spot. For some, this is nothing more than a brief check-in. Those in need of more specialized care are invited to live in the Memory Care and Enhanced Care units.

Whatever a resident's level of care, Judy Peters, corporate director of health and wellbeing, says all caregivers practice nursing from a holistic perspective, which is person-centered and relationship-based. Rather than focusing on a patient's weaknesses (which is common practice in more clinical settings), caregivers at the Waters focus on each individual patient's strengths. This allows them to administer care in a way that is more compassionate and empowering.

"We focus on a person's story," Peters says. "We recognize that people who are in their 70s, 80s, 90s don't get to that age unless they've done something right. We try to bring that to the forefront in everything we do."

In an effort to honor each resident's unique vision for how they'd like to live their life, staff members are willing to accommodate a number of requests — everything from owning pets to helping install personal possessions such as period lighting or furniture in residents' apartments.

"It's a very close-knit community," says Lia Hamilton, director of community relations. "Residents move in and find like-minded people and make these connections."

Kenow has been welcoming new residents into the community since the building opened in October, and enjoys taking advantage of all the activities the wellbeing center has to offer — from guest speakers and ice cream socials to exercise classes and the 3 p.m. happy hour, where residents, staff and family members mingle every Wednesday.

"I go up and ride the bikes," she says, noting one of her favorite new pastimes. "I have a little competition going with one of the other gals. She bikes for at least 30 minutes. So surely I can too!"

Hamilton says the Waters maintains a number of key partnerships that support residents' overall health and wellbeing.

"We try to provide a sense of purpose in our residents' day," Hamilton says. That's spelled out in the Waters' activity calendar, crafted with guidance from the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing.

While looking at the wellbeing model pictured at the top — a pie chart comprised of equal parts environment, health, relationships, security, purpose and community — a Mary Kay representative came up to Kenow to deliver a lipstick she had purchased at the Mary Kay product sampling event the previous week.

When the ladies asked her where she was planning on wearing her latest shade of pink, Kenow laughed as she told them they could see it at her next special destination: bingo night.

Fast Facts
• Waters of Oakdale is the fourth Waters community
• The new building has 92 apartments, currently at about 40 percent capacity.
• Residents benefit from 4:1 staffing ratios, with 24-hour care provided by registered nurses.
• Motto: “Building communities that thrive.”



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