Taylor Smith enriches the lives of seniors!
Since she was a little girl, Taylor Smith has known her life’s path was to serve others. “I just wanted to help people but didn’t know how to do that in an educational degree sense,” says the life enrichment director at Corso Atlanta, a retirement and assisted living community in Buckhead. “I tried studying nursing, but I wasn’t scientific enough. I then tried business and was bored to tears.”
So, at 18, Smith chose a career in ministry. For 12 years, she worked at a church in North Georgia, where she lives, serving her community in homeless shelters, clothing closets and food pantries.
“When I was 30, I felt the Lord call me out of this megachurch world. A friend of mine had a great opportunity at a senior living residential community where I had done volunteer work,” Smith says.
Nine years later, that work led her to Corso Atlanta, where her job is to enrich the lives of all residents. Here, we talk with her about what that means.
What does a life enrichment director do?
Quite simply put, I create environments and opportunities for people to connect, form relationships and thrive at any stage of their lives. When a new resident moves in, I meet with the family and the resident to get to know the person first and establish a connection and understand their goals for themselves and their abilities—physically, emotionally and mentally. I am trying to build community within a community so I can tailor activities to that specific person to create realistic and comfortable situations for them to gain independence and thrive.
How is this job unique?
The foundation of this job is love and passion for people. All people. Life is messy; people are messy; you have to be prepared and sometimes dive into family dynamics. Some people come into senior living grieving from a spouse’s death or losing their home. Even if they have chosen this, it can be overwhelming to make that transition. You have to meet them where they are.
What are the most spirit-enriching activities for senior citizens?
The most enriching activity is something that is purposeful. I make sure our residents can take the focus off of themselves and their own lives and put it on giving back to others. We have done work with various local charities, such as The Sandwich Project, The Salvation Army, Atlanta Mission and, our favorite, Atlanta Humane Society, where residents make enrichment toys for dogs and cats. We also do a school supply drive for Backpack for Kids. Pet therapy is incredible, too. Companiontrained Labradors come in and spend time with our residents.
How can one stay young at heart?
You can’t stop dreaming. Have goals. Try something new. Laugh and don’t take life so seriously. Find the humor in the season that you’re in.
What types of wellness activities do you personally enjoy?
Anything outside—hiking, forest bathing. When you go outside, it opens you up to how vast the world is and [gives you a chance to] to pause for a moment, slow down, enjoy the sunshine, look around, look up, use all your senses and take time to be quiet and still.
PHOTO: Joann Vitelli
Managing Editor and Wellness Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Blogger at Badass + Healthy.