What’s Next for Senior Care in Kalamazoo?

Senior Care in Kalamazoo, Michigan, including Assisted Living and Memory Care, has changed drastically in the last few months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the state starts to open back up again, what does that mean for senior care?

The senior population is one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus. Many assisted living and senior care residency locations where hit hard by the virus.

Why are Vibrant Life’s numbers of positive cases so low?

How to Keep Covid-19 Out of Senior Care in Kalamazoo

Strict guidelines, proactive testing, and community education are the three top things that will keep Covid-19 number down.

Strict Guidelines

Rules and protocol must remain very strict — even as other types of businesses like restaurants, retail stores, salons, etc. start to invite the public in again. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Vibrant Life has been at the forefront of executing safety measures and we plan on continuing a very cautious and proactive approach.

Please check out What We Are Doing to keep you Safe, Healthy, and Vibrant During Covid-19 for a complete list of all the changes, protocols, and safety measures we have in place.

Proactive Testing

Vibrant Life has provided more testing for our staff and residents than most. Proactive testing is still unusual in the State of Michigan but Vibrant Life is doing it.  The State mandate requires testing of all residents of nursing homes and weekly testing of nursing home staff. This is problematic because not all senior care is considered “nursing homes.” In fact, Vibrant Life is not – we are categorized as assisted living. Therefore, the mandate does not apply us. Even so, we are testing. 

We now know that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic. Unfortunately, it is during the asymptomatic period when they are most contagious. This is why testing often is important. 

Vibrant Life follows all mandatory guidelines plus non-mandatory guidelines as appropriate for each community. We believe in doing what is right and what is working, not just the bare minimum defined in a mandate. 

Our staff is tested regularly even though we aren’t technically required to. 

Senior Care Community Education and Support

Vibrant Life created an innovative coalition between our senior communities, physicians, local hospitals and local health departments to enact pre-testing, and subsequent monitoring of Covid-19 positive residents. These coalitions have prevented the spread of the virus to others throughout the community.

In addition, we created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video,“If You Don’t Get It, You Might Spread It” to educate people on preventing the spread of the virus. This was shared with our communities and also made available for all assisted living and senior care facilities to use in order to educate their staff and residents. 

What is Happening Specifically with Senior Care in Kalamazoo

Our New Friends Memory Care and senior care location in Kalamazoo, fortunately has had no positive tests of any resident or staff.  We proactively tested everyone a few weeks ago and have had no positive tests.  Congratulations to all the staff at New Friends for socially distancing, having great infection control, and not bringing in the virus from the community. This is no small feat and a huge success. 

We are also excited to announce that our very own Laurel Space is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association‘s ECHO program, which aims to enhance the long-term care community’s ability to respond to emergencies, such as COVID-19.

There are only FIVE communities in Michigan who were accepted to this program and Vibrant Life is one of them. The ECHO program uses video conferencing technology to connect dementia care experts with leaders from assisted living communities.

The five-week program explores topics within the Alzheimer’s Association Emergency Preparedness: Caring for persons living with dementia in a long-term or community-based care setting.

The series will focus on emergency preparedness to equip communities for COVID-19 and other emergencies. Participating communities develop case presentations about challenges to receive real-time feedback from peers and experts.

What’s Next?

The next steps will likely be limited outdoor meetings with loved ones. Visitors will continue to be screened and have their temperature taken before they can participate. Family members and their loved one who is a resident of Vibrant Life will be able to meet outside for a limited amount of time while practicing safe social distancings. Short walks or sitting outside will be allowed.

Dormant Positive Testing

People who have had the virus sometimes test positive for a long time – up to 60 days and beyond. This can be the case for people who were symptomatic or asymptomatic.  The professionals are beginning to think that even when someone recovers from the virus, it can lay dormant in the body. This can result in a positive test, but it may not be active in a person’s body. 

They think it may not be transferrable or contagious at that time either.  When someone tests positive, and is not in the hospital, we put them in our Covid-positive units.  They would return from the units to their suites when they test negative.  So, if they keep testing positive, that would be a problem.  We will keep conferring with our physicians and health departments as we deal with this issue on an individual basis. 

We are very happy to report that each positive resident who recovered and moved out of the Covid unit has not re-tested as positive since. 

Interested In Learning More?

Our location in Kalamazoo is accepting new residents at this time. We offer virtual tours of all of our locations. We also schedule virtual meetings to answer all of your questions and provide information on the process for moving in a new resident. Please contact us (269) 372-6100 or visit our website for more information.

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Memory Care in Kalamazoo: Options for Dementia

Are you looking for Memory Care in Kalamazoo, Michigan or surrounding areas? The good news is that you have options, even though it is never an easy decision to make for a loved one.

If you are struggling with this decision or aren’t sure if it is the right time, we encourage to you read When Is It Time for Assisted Living?

The very fact that you are researching this possibility means that it is time for some sort of senior care or assisted living. We speak with many families on a weekly basis who are in the same place you are right now. The question really isn’t “Is it time?” but rather, “What level of care is needed at this time?

Note: During this difficult time of quarantine and Covid-19, there are many precautions and additional things to consider. Please read Assisted Living & Memory Care in Kalamazoo Coronavirus Updates and Information for information about specific changes and new protocols. Later in this article we address some very creative solutions to combating dementia and Alzheimer’s during this time of isolation.

Memory Care in Kalamazoo: Things to considermemory care in kalamazoo

When someone starts experiencing dementia it is a confusing time for the whole family. Each case is unique and the rate of progression is different for each person. However, in all cases there comes a time when it just isn’t safe for the person to live alone or to be left alone for any significant amount of time.

This is why it is so important to choose an assisted living residence that has several different levels of care. This is often referred to as aging in place. Your loved one can move in at the level that makes sense for where they are today and can easily transition to more care as they need it. Unfortunately, with dementia and memory care later in life, people will generally decline. They will need more care at some point.

It is also really important that they have a stable and familiar environment as their dementia progresses. Lots of moves and changes will make a difficult situation even harder, so aging in place in a really important consideration.

The Different Levels of Memory Care in Kalamazoo

memory care in kalamazoo

The best kind of memory care provides compassionate care and 24-hour supervision in a comfortable environment that feels like home.

Unlike most memory care communities, at Vibrant Life’s New Friends Assisted Living and Memory Care Kalamazoo location, our memory care/dementia program has three different levels of care.

  1. Early-stage memory care
  2. Middle stage memory care
  3. Later stage memory care

We have three “lodges” all right next to each other on the same campus and look virtually exactly the same.  A person generally will be able to stay in their same room and lodge as time goes on, but occasionally they do move to another lodge.  However the rooms look identical. In this way we make all the transitions as smooth as possible.

Residents mostly interact with other residents who are at the same level so they are with people most similar to them. All of our Carefriends are specially trained to provide the highest quality of care  in a respectful, dignified and loving way. Our staff works with each resident and their families to determine what level of cognition they have when they first come to us. We also all work as a team to decide when and if  it becomes beneficial to move to different level of care and potentially different memory care “lodge.”

Our personalized care plans encompass everything from assistance with everyday activities like grooming and dining to programming that encourages hobbies and relationship building.

Music and Memory Care in Kalamazoo tic-toc choir

Music is a very big part of the culture at all of the Vibrant Life communities. We use it every day to provide peace and joy. The Music Program here is second to none and utilizes the latest research and developments in how music helps with dementia. Click here to find out more.

RelatedThe Science Behind Music Therapy to Combat Dementia

Our Tic-Toc Choir has gained local fame with their music video “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me” and a documentary that was made about the choir called The Spirit of Caring. Check them out!

How Has Covid-19 Coronavirus Changed Assisted Living in Kalamazoo?

Isolation is hard on everyone but it is especially hard on those dealing with dementia. We are finding new and creative ways to keep our residents engaged and active while still maintaining safety measures. Here a few things we are doing:

  • Eating in doorways. Now that our residents are isolated to their rooms we set up tray tables in their doorways during meal times. This allows them to see each other and socialize.  We also call bingo and provided music and singing this way, too.
  • More 1 on 1 time with staff. Both the staff and residents are enjoying getting to know each other better.
  • Video Calls. We are utilizing Zoom and Facetime for our residents to connect with family. Many people have reported that they are communicating even more now than before the pandemic due to this technology.
  • Physical Activity. Many people with dementia and memory issues tend to wander. We are allowing our ambulatory residents individual time to walk around the community and go outside when weather permits. They always have a staff member with them and this helps with restlessness.
  • Staff Pictures on Shirts. All of our staff wear face masks at all times, which can make it hard for our residents to recognize them and ready their lips. Some of our staff have started to put a large picture of themselves on the front of their shirts. This has really helped.

Would You Like More Information?

Vibrant Life is providing Virtual Tours of all 4 of our locations. If you or a loved one is in need of assisted living, senior living, or memory care, we can provide the answers and resources to answer your questions.

You can visit our website for information on each community. For information specific to New Friends in Kalamazoo, please click here or call  (269)372-6100 to speak with our Director of Admissions and Community Relations.

We are also updating our site regularly with any new information about coronavirus that is urgent or helpful to our staff, families, residents, and the community in general. You can find that information here.

Additional Resources

Musical Minute – Social Distancing with Song!

Message to Families of Vibrant Life Senior Living Residents from Dean Solden

New PSA Music Video – IF YOU DON’T GET IT, YOU MIGHT SPREAD IT, by Dean Solden

Hello everyone,

During this difficult time, we all need to find some ways to let off some steam, and get some stress release. As many of you know, music helps me, as I am also as professional musician, besides being Founder of Vibrant Life and a part of the Management Team.

A few weeks ago, late at night, I wrote a tune called, If you don’t get it, you might spread it.  It was originally intended for our young staff, who early on in the virus crisis, were still learning the ropes about social distancing, hand washing and staying at home.  It evolved into a general message to the public.

I did an original “home-video” version.  Now, with the help of some friends across the country, mostly done in our home studios, we have made a more professional version of the song.  You can find it on youtube, and you can find it right here.

Please pass this on to any person or group you feel still needs the reminder.  It also may help you move your feet around a bit!

Enjoy, stay home, and stay safe,

Dean Solden, Founder, Vibrant Life Senior Living

deansoldenmusic.com     deansolden.vibrantlife@gmail.com


Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me

New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir. The group is receiving national attention, with a recent mini-documentary created by Direct Supply out of Milwaukee, entitled, “The Spirit of Caring.” Musical Director and New Friends and Vibrant Life founder, professional musician, Dean Solden wrote the song for the residents of the community, inspired by their “ferocious will to live and still be themselves, and not be defined by their dementia.” The music video helps de-sensitize the concept of people having dementia, especially those with early cognitive or memory care issues.

Meet 3 Members of the Tic-Toc Choir

With the World Premier of our very own Tic-Toc Choir just around the corner, we thought it would be nice to catch up with a few of the performers and get to know them a bit better.

Related: Red Carpet World Premier of Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video

Reminder: New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir and is receiving national attention. Their showcase video is titled, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me.”

Meet Some Stars of the Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Sandy

Sandy was a delight to interview with lively talk about her involvement in the choir, her love of music, and life as a young woman.

“Dean is a great man and his personality is so sweet. It’s because of him that we (the choir) want to do a good job. He is interested in all of us, which is so important.”

Sandy’s love for the choir is evident whenever she talks about it. She became quite animated when talking about her younger years. Sandy has lived in Michigan her entire life. She grew up near Kalamazoo as the youngest of four girls. Her father left the family when she was just four years old. Sandy’s mother worked hard raising her daughters and teaching them to work hard too. Sandy helped her sister with her paper route, later worked in an ice cream parlor, and eventually started a 30 year career at UpJohns.

Sandy sang in her church choir and loves traditional hymns along with many types of music. Country is one of her favorite genres.

When asked if she had any words of wisdom for younger generations, Sandy said, “Get along and have a good time. Do something you enjoy.”

Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Katie

Katie loves all kinds of music and is an expert at animal impressions. She enjoys the Tic-Toc Choir and singing with her friends.

She spent her career as a nurse and has one son, one daughter, and grandchildren. When asked about her favorite food, Katie had a hard time narrowing it down but admitted she prefers salty over sweet.

At Vibrant Life, Katie also enjoys arts and crafts and her favorite spot is sitting in the dining area with friends and keeping an eye on what is going on outside.

Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Linda

Linda has fond memories of producing the music video and also enjoys being in the choir. Her favorite Christmas carol is, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.” With a gleam in her eye, she admitted her favorite type of music is Rock n’ Roll. The more toe tapping, the better!

Linda is very proud of her sons, one of which is a police officer in Battle Creek and the other lives in Florida and is the father to her granddaughter Gabby. Her favorite hobby is light gardening where she can spend time outside in nice weather.

Words of wisdom: “Roll with the punches!”


Find Out More

Stay tuned for more information about this wonderful and popular choir. Please join us at our world premier featuring the video, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me” and a performance from the choir. You don’t want to miss it.


Vibrant Life Mission

Vibrant Life Senior Living’s mission and core principles emphasize respect, care, and empowering each person to live a fulfilling life through meaningful relationships and continued access to the stimulating activities that make life worth living.

For more information about or organization or to schedule a visit please call: (734)535-7442

Red Carpet World Premier of Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video

Are you ready for the Red Carpet World Premier of the ONLY Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video?

What an amazing way to close out the decade!

New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir and is receiving national attention. Their showcase video is titled, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me.

Musical Director and New Friends and Vibrant Life founder, professional musician, Dean Solden wrote the song for the residents of the community, inspired by their “ferocious will to live and still be themselves, and not be defined by their dementia.”  The music video helps desensitize the concept of people having dementia, especially those with early cognitive or memory care issues. 

This event is our way of celebrating these wonderfully talented seniors.

Event Details

Please visit our Facebook Event for more details. 


WHERE: The Jolliffe Theatre Space at the Epic Center in downtown, Kalamazoo (359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 205, Kalamazoo, MI  49006)

COST:  The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP. Call Jenny Palmer at 269-372-6100 or email  jpalmer@newfriendsmemorycare.com

DETAILS: This heart-warming event will feature residents of New Friends Memory Care, formally dressed, walking on the red-carpet at Kalamazoo’s Jolliffe Theatre Space at the Epic Center, (something they never expected) as they and the audience will watch the premier of their music video, Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me,  as well as a the Mini-documentary, The Spirit of Caring. There will also be a performance by the New Friends Memory Care Tic-Toc choir and a discussion with the audience about music and dementia.  This event will also be the formal launch of the music video on social media. 

About Vibrant Life and New Friends Memory Care

Our History

Vibrant Life Senior Living Communities opened in 1997.  We are dedicated to the belief that seniors can continue to enjoy a vibrant life and have a purpose despite any physical or cognitive decline.

We currently have four locations:

Vibrant Life Temperance

New Friends Memory Care and Assisted Living

The Lodges of Durand

Vibrant Life Senior Living Superior Township

Our Mission

Vibrant Life Senior Living’s mission and core principles emphasize respect, care, and empowering each person to live a fulfilling life. We focus on meaningful relationships and continued access to the stimulating activities that make life worth living.

Contact Us Today!

Memory Care Music Video

Dean Solden joins Shelley Irwin and a panel of distinguished guests on WGVU’s Family Health Matters

WGVU Family Health Matters Season 19 Episode 5 Dean Solden in Panel Discussion regarding Alzheimer's and DementiaDean Solden joins Shelley Irwin and a panel of distinguished guests on WGVU’s Family Health Matters to discuss important Alzheimers and Dementia topics, including:

  • When should I look at assisted living for my Mom or Dad?
  • What trends do professionals see in Dementia care?
  • How can I recognize Alzheimers or Dementia?
  • How do Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities spend their days with the people who live there?
  • What does it mean to care for the caregiver?