More than half of seniors (53 percent) nationally said a sense of connection—being close to friends and family—is important, according to a survey from the American Council on Aging. That connection
is fostered in a community such as Harmony of Chantilly, where residents are surrounded by people with similar interests and schedules.
“Living in an apartment would have meant everyone goes out to work except for a few retired people,” said Anne Avery, who moved to Harmony of Chantilly three years ago. “There would be no opportunities to get together.”
Activities at Harmony of Chantilly include art, live music, a happy hour every other week, exercise classes, dinner theater, lunch and shopping trips, crochet and knitting groups, and a card club, Avery said. Regular outings to museums, lunch, and shopping are also on the schedule.
One popular activity is a mystery lunch trip where residents sign up for a lunch outing but don’t know where they’re going, said executive director Tahir Majeed, who is also a physician.
Residents have time for these activities because they have left the worries of home maintenance, household chores, and cooking behind and stepped into a world of modern, luxurious living
at the award-winning Harmony of Chantilly. Here, they have delicious dining, premium services, state-of-the-art security services, top-quality care, and flexible living options.
“I was attracted by the fact that it was a very modern building when I moved in three years ago,” said Avery. “We have high ceilings, lots of windows, a well-equipped kitchen, up-to-date lighting and other fixtures, pastel colors, underground parking, and ample surface parking. I have a wonderful kitchen with wrap-around granite counters on two sides, a pantry, a dishwasher, a stainless-steel refrigerator with freezer, and a microwave above the stove.”
“I really like having so much light,” Avery said. “Our windows are really nice. I have a sliding glass door to a balcony. There are people here who really enjoy the balcony and have their sliding glass doors open a lot.”
Home sizes at Harmony of Chantilly range from two-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot apartments, to cozy studios with 350 square feet. Living options at Harmony locate independent living close— perhaps 50 to 150 feet away—to assisted living and memory care, allowing spouses to remain nearby, and all residents can easily maintain friendships as they move through the continuum of care, said Majeed.
Security is a key consideration. In memory care, all the doors have maglocks, ensuring residents cannot leave without help, Majeed said. In assisted and independent living, all the doors have locks with a code, and overall, only one entrance is open and the concierge monitors that entrance, he said. Cameras in common areas also monitor activity, he said.
Beyond each home are shared spaces designed to foster the family community feel with a pub, a bistro, an art studio, libraries, a theater room, a card room, and a technology room, said Margaret Cabell, chief sales and marketing officer for Harmony Senior Services.
In independent living, one meal per day is included in the rent, and most residents choose dinner both for the food and the opportunity
to socialize, Avery said. Residents can make up missed meals by the end of the month. Menu selections include Bananas Foster pancakes, bacon or sausage, choice of eggs, and fresh fruit. Lunch might include cream of tomato soup, a classic Cobb salad, and crab cakes, he said. Dinner options include beef burgers, seafood catch of the day, Italian specialties, and cooking demonstrations by the chef, Majeed said.
The key to winning the hearts and minds of senior living community residents and their families is ensuring the facility has a great staff that communicates clearly, knows personal details about residents, and makes them feel like they are part of a community, according to a survey by J.D.Power.
“Residents love to tell me about the people,” Cabell said. “Our residents may have faced some isolation prior to moving in. Their children have grown up and sometimes moved away. Neighbors and friends have moved away. I hear a lot about how they feel part of a family here. Residents connect quickly with each other and our associates, and they feel at home. They look out for each other.”
Concierge Gloria Marazzi helps foster that feeling. “I really love and enjoy the residents,” Marazzi said. “They’re so sweet, all of them.”
Fellow employees see her as a mother figure while residents see her as a bonus daughter.
Marazzi is willing to help residents get in groceries, close their blinds, open bottles, make appointments—whatever is needed. She also helps fellow staff members with paperwork, for example filing insurance claims.
“I feel like I have a big family here,” Marazzi said. “The time goes by so fast every day.”
Although fairly new, the community has won several awards. The chef won Harmony’s dining service award, scoring first out of more than
36 other Harmony communities. The Chantilly location also won the company’s outstanding community award this spring. Though not specifically an award, the community was issued a three-year license from the Virginia Department of Health based on inspections showing not even one deficiency, Majeed said.
“I certainly enjoy working here,” Majeed said. “We have the best team at Harmony of Chantilly.” •