FORT MYERS, Fla. ( June 19 , 2013)

According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, more than one million senior adults currently live in assisted living communities. But locating and evaluating a facility can be a daunting task.

To help these individuals in their search for information about assisted living, Shell Point created a team of experienced assisted living specialists, McKenzie Millis and Vivian Ciulla, who offer guidelines that define what consumers can expect from an assisted living community as well as suggestions for locating communities and a checklist of questions to use when visiting and evaluating a potential new home for a loved one.

“When Shell Point introduced The Springs last year as its third assisted living facility within the community, we were overwhelmed with inquiries from the local community and recognized very quickly that people are searching for information,” said Rita Southern, director of assisted living and resident services for Shell Point. “Some of the inquiries we received were from people seeking information for themselves; however, the majority of people we talked to were the sons or daughters of senior adults who were concerned about their parents and their increasing need for daily assistance.”

Assisted Living is the long-term care option that combines housing, support services, and health care, as needed, and is an excellent choice for seniors seeking an independent lifestyle, while also receiving the help they need with daily activities. Assisted living is appropriate for someone who needs some level of assistance with everyday activities, such as meals, medication management, transportation, or bathing. Communities typically offer dining, as well as social and wellness activities designed to support a well-rounded lifestyle in a residential setting. Some residents may suffer from Alzheimer’s or other memory disorders, or they may need assistance with mobility, incontinence, or other challenges.

“The needs of each individual should be carefully considered when selecting the appropriate assisted living facility,” said Southern. “That’s where our assisted living specialists, McKenzie and Vivian, can be of best use.”

McKenzie Millis, Shell Point’s assisted living marketing specialist, is a Southwest Florida native and joined Shell Point Retirement Community in 2005. She offers a comprehensive background in multiple aspects of retirement living regarding how services and programs designed specifically for seniors can dramatically impact and improve quality of life. Millis is particularly attuned to the Southwest Florida community as it relates to seniors and is an active member of the Florida Assisted Living Association; The Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce; CAMEO; American Business Women’s Association; and Zonta, where she serves as a board member at large. She is a Communications graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University.

Vivian Ciulla is the assisted living resident relations manager for Shell Point Retirement Community’s three assisted living facilities: Kings Crown, The Arbor, and The Springs. Ciulla’s experience as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, coupled with Core Training for Assisted Living Facilities Certification, allows her an especially informed perspective on all aspects of the transitioning senior lifestyle. Ciulla has been with Shell Point since 2000, and she has a diverse understanding of the organization from working in a variety of departments including pharmacy, resident relations, and case management. Ciulla brings eight years of experience in assisted living and a passion for improving the lives of the elderly with the services and care that assisted living provides.

“Many adults often find themselves in the unique role of caring for not only their own children, but for their parents as well. These individuals have numerous questions about the services provided and want to know when it is the right time to consider assisted living as an option,” said Ciulla. “For instance, it is likely that they have visited a number of assisted living residences, but often they don’t know which guidelines to use and are unable to distinguish the unique differences between various facilities. Financial concerns are often at the top of the list, and consumers sometimes don’t understand how assisted living fits into veterans benefits, Medicaid, private insurance, or other reimbursement programs. We can help them evaluate each community, discuss the various fee structures or costs, and determine which is best able to meet their specific needs.”

Together, McKenzie Millis and Vivian Ciulla are available to help senior adults and their family members learn the facts and weigh the benefits of assisted living for themselves or a loved one and can be reached by calling 239-454-2077.

The location of The Springs at the entrance to Shell Point is less than two miles from the Sanibel Island causeway. This location, plus Shell Point’s comprehensive resident activities and healthcare services, are just some of the many benefits that residents of the facility enjoy. The Springs comprehensive monthly rate (excluding personal laundry), helps residents and their families plan for the most effective use of their resources. This new assisted living option provides the added security of access to the network of quality health care services provided by the Shell Point healthcare team, when and if those services are needed. The facility’s amenities and services include a heated swimming pool, exercise facilities, transportation, dining, 24-hour healthcare staffing, and a professional activities leader who coordinates high-quality events and activities, educational and entertainment programs, and opportunities for socialization and personal growth.

Shell Point Retirement Community is a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community located in Fort Myers just off Summerlin Road and McGregor Boulevard, two miles before the Sanibel causeway. Shell Point has received national accreditation from CARF-CCAC, and is a nationally recognized leader in the retirement industry. The community offers retirement living in a resort-style environment with an 18-hole championship golf course that is open to the public, deep water boating access with free boat dockage, and recreational and fitness facilities. To learn more about Shell Point, visit us at or call 1-800-780-1131.

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