Why More & More Seniors Are Preferring Senior Living Communities

Why More & More Seniors Are Preferring Senior Living Communities

Today’s senior communities can range from homelike to the luxury of a high-end hotel. One thing that they don’t feel like is institutional. Most seniors who have moved to an independent or assisted living community report that they definitely prefer life at their new home vs. living alone in their own home.

Here are some common reasons why:

1. An End to Stressful Driving
Driving can become more stressful as we age and our driving abilities may not be what they once were either. For these reasons, many residents prefer to take advantage of the access to transportation offered by assisted living communities. There’s no need to rely on a car any longer, although parking is typically available for residents who still drive.

2. Better Food
There are many seniors who are used to living alone and may not currently be eating right. At senior living communities, residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meal preparation. Instead, they can enjoy a fine dining experience every day of the week. The food tastes good, alternative meals are almost always offered and special diets can ordinarily be accommodated. It’s common for new residents, who had been eating poorly before they moved, to experience improvements in their health and well-being just from having access to three square meals per day.

3. Feeling Like Myself Again
Living alone, we may not be able to participate in activities and games we enjoyed, that were fun and helped keep us sharp. But senior communities offer a wealth of opportunities to keep us engaged. This can include activities like favorite card games, chess, cribbage, or even Nintendo Wii and corn hole bag toss. Engaging reading and discussion groups, classes, and lectures on a myriad of topics are also available.

4. Feeling Safe
Residents can rest easy knowing that they are secured from ne’er-do-wells. Furthermore, residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the emergency response systems that are in each apartment, or in many cases on the resident’s person as safety pendant. This alleviates fears about falling and becoming trapped for hours or even days, a scenario that’s all too common for senior’s residing alone. Certainly, there are seniors who live alone and are just fine. While senior communities aren’t for everyone, there is without a doubt vast numbers of seniors living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations who would benefit immensely from life in a senior community.

5. Improved Family Relationships
Older folks frequently become dependent on their grown children, or other close family members, for help of all kinds. Unnatural role reversals can strain relationships and foster unhealthy feelings of resentment, both by parents and their children. Younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers and are able to assure that time with their older loved one is high-quality and meaningful. Older residents are glad to return to the role of family matriarch or patriarch and often pleased that their grown children no longer have to “parent the parent.”

6. New Friends
Older adults who live alone often become isolated, which is unhealthy at any age. At senior communities, individuals can make new friends and share meals with each other. On the other hand, persons who are more introverted appreciate that their privacy is respected, but are still glad to have folks around.

7. No Stress Home Maintenance or Yard Work
Keeping up a home is hard, especially for those persons who have developed physical ailments. Mowing the lawn, shoveling/blowing snow, pulling weeds, vacuuming — these become things of the past. If you are a green thumb, many communities have gardens or raised planters that allows you to “adopt” a garden.

8. Vanquishing Boredom
Residents need never be bored at a senior living community. There’s something for everyone. All kinds of activities and entertainment are offered, both on-site and in the local community. Entertainment can range from visiting musicians and performers, to day trips that might include local landmarks, forays into nature, or just an outing to a local park.

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which affect memory and other cognitive abilities, can create anger, anxiety, confusion and fear for a person living with the disease. It doesn’t help that explaining and reasoning with person dementia probably won’t ease their frustration.

An approach called “redirection” however, frequently helps. Redirection is a technique that is used to shift a distressed person’s attention away from the situation that is causing anger, anxiety, fear, or dangerous and unsafe behavior to a more pleasant emotion or situation.

How to Redirect a Parent or Senior Loved One

It’s happening again. Even though you’ve explained many times to mom, who has dementia, that she can’t call her sister Marie, who passed away five years ago, mom insists on calling her right now.

To make matters worse, she’s become agitated, even paranoid. “What have you done with Marie? Why won’t you let me call her?” mom asks. At this point, you are at a total loss as to what to do to calm her down.

When a person has dementia, he or she is unable to process information like they used to. That’s because dementia’s impairments aren’t restricted to memory loss. Those diseases also compromise the “executive functioning” capabilities of insight, judgment and reasoning. As a result, your loved one with dementia can be incapable of telling the difference between a hallucination and reality. Trying to explain why that person’s perceived reality isn’t true is pointless. Such an explanation can escalate already strong emotions.

Steps to Consider When Redirecting a Loved One With Dementia

It is possible to find ways to still stay connected to your loved one with dementia so they don’t feel that you’re trying to bully or push — which can easily backfire. Instead, try to understand that your loved one’s anxiety, fear, or other emotion probably stems from frustration or feeling out of control. For example, a person with dementia may ask the same question again and again because they have trouble processing the answer.

Fortunately, redirection can sometimes alleviate frustration for both the person with dementia and their family caregiver.

The following tips provide advice on how to redirect a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia:
 

  1. Assess the environment.
  2. Is the room too hot or cold, but your loved one can’t find the words to express that? Is the space calm and comforting or noisy? Sometimes, it’s the environment itself that needs redirection.

  3. Don’t try to explain or reason.
  4. If mom keeps pushing furniture against a door and insists that someone is trying to break in, explaining that no one is attempting to get in probably won’t ease her fear. Instead, try responding to the emotions behind the actions. You don’t have to say, “I believe this is happening,” but you can say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” You might also say, “Mom, I really want you to feel safe. How can I help you feel safe?” In this scenario, you realize what is causing your loved one’s agitation and redirect her feelings from a place of insecurity to one of security because she feels like you finally believe her and are on her side.

  5. Go outside.
  6. Try to step outside for some fresh air and a change of environment if you can. Light and sunshine are healthy and help redirect the brain.

  7. Keep it simple.
  8. Try to keep conversations simple and direct. For example, if the person resists bathing, instead of saying, “I need you to come to the bathroom so you can take a bath and shave and I can wash your hair,” a simple “Dad, we’re going to the bathroom” is easier to comprehend. Asking for one thing at a time helps keep things simple.

  9. Use bridge phrases to put the focus back on the person.
  10. If Mom won’t eat and says she’s not hungry, you don’t have to push. Instead, try a ‘bridge phrase’ that moves the conversation to a different place. For example, you can tell Mom how much you always loved her fried chicken and ask her if she remembers how the house used to smell while it cooked or how she prepared the meal. Then a little later, maybe return with, “hey, how about we both have a bite of this sandwich?”

  11. Use touch to calm and focus.
  12. Not everyone with dementia feels comforted by touch. However, if the person is okay with it, touching that person’s arm or shoulder or gently hold their hand can be comforting and grounding. With redirection, keep in mind that one technique may work fine one time but not the next, so it’s a good idea to have several options on hand. The whole idea of redirection is that you want the person to feel cared about and listened to and make sure they’re in a safe situation.

     
    If you or your loved one are considering a memory care facility, learn more about Eau Claire memory care here. Our professional memory care team can answer your questions and help you navigate your situation.

Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

The prospect of downsizing can be a difficult one for seniors facing the move to an assisted living facility. A lifetime of memories associated with possessions can be daunting to wade through for families and caregivers.

But, rest assured, there are ways to help ease the transition for your senior loved one.

Downsizing is an inevitable part of moving to a new residence: taking old clothes to Goodwill, throwing away that leaf blower that hasn’t worked in five years, and getting rid of all the things you’ve accumulated that your family no longer needs.

But, downsizing can be particularly wrenching for the elderly, who may find it overwhelming to think about letting go of the items they’ve gathered over a lifetime. If a senior loved one is faced with a move to assisted living where there may be less storage space, that clutter in the closet may turn into a stubborn roadblock — or even a justification to resist moving.

This can mean a tough conversation for family caregivers, who are usually the ones faced with confronting their parents about downsizing. Fortunately, there are strategies you can follow to make the process easier, even if a senior loved one has a more serious hoarding issue.

Does Your Senior Loved One Need to Downsize?

Getting rid of longtime possessions we’ve grown attached to isn’t easy for anyone, but for our elderly loved ones, it can feel like giving up cherished memories, especially if they are faced with leaving a long-term home on top of it all.

This isn’t just a matter of the occasional senior citizen not wanting to give up the mementos. In fact, it’s quite common. A recent study looked at survey data from 22,000 participants and found that about 30% of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months. Yet…more than half of the respondents in all age categories believed they had too many belongings. As an example, 56% of those aged 50 to 59 and 62% of those 70 to 79 reported having more things than they needed.

For these folks the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past, and their memories.

When Clutter Gets Out of Control

Sometimes it isn’t so easy to convince your loved one that they have too much stuff. If their collection of belongings is actually impairing their everyday functioning and threatening their health or that of others, they may be suffering from an elderly hoarding disorder.

It’s important to note that if you know of someone who is having trouble letting go of personal possessions and is distressed at the thought of discarding them, that alone may not constitute elderly hoarding behavior. However, if a person’s clutter is so extreme that their living space is unusable, unsanitary, or hazardous, or if they are exhibiting symptoms like self-neglect and social withdrawal, it may be time to consider whether they have Diogenes Syndrome (elderly hoarding disorder) and whether they should move into assisted living.

Tips for Talking to Your Parents about Downsizing

Whether you suspect your loved one has senior hoarding issues, or they simply have too much stuff for a small assisted living apartment, broaching the topic of downsizing can be a scary thought. You might be wondering, how can I ask mom and dad to give up so many memories they obviously cherish, and risk upsetting them?

Enlisting trusted friends and family to help your loved one clear their clutter can be an enormous help. Having others around to share memories with can make the process less painful, for one thing. It can also make it less overwhelming and time-consuming as seniors can easily be daunted by the size of the task, or feel physically incapable. Sometimes, though, the situation is so dire that professional help is warranted. Senior move managers can help the elderly downsize their possessions and are experts at helping with the transition into senior living.

The end result can be a hassle-free transition and a much lighter load.

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

How Do I Talk to My Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s?

It’s indescribably painful to witness the deterioration of a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. As the disease progresses, we see minor forgetfulness morph into severe impairment, eventually causing communication to become a problem. In some situations, a memory care facility may be a needed option for individuals.

Knowing how to communicate and connect with our loved ones who suffer from forms of cognitive impairment is important as the disease progresses.

How to Communicate With Someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in 10 Americans have a family member with Alzheimer’s, and one in three know someone with the disease. Since people are living longer, more and more Americans are suffering from memory disorders — which means every family is likely to be affected at some point.

Learning techniques about how to act and what to say to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can help families emotionally connect with their loved ones. As with any brain disorder, there are special approaches involved with communication.

You can’t be judgmental or critical to aging loved ones who suffer from memory impairment or dementia, and asking detailed questions is probably not the best idea. When all else fails, ask open-ended questions and keep the conversation going smoothly. Help your loved one feel comfortable as the human connection is the most powerful.

Listed below are some strategies to help you and your aging loved ones maintain a positive relationship, despite Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Ways to Act Around Someone With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

If you want to meaningfully connect with your loved one who suffers from memory impairment, you have to set the mood.

Here are some tips:

1) Avoid distractions. Create a comfortable ambiance that doesn’t have a lot of stimuli so that your loved one can focus all their mental energy on the conversation.

2) Be a good listener. Not your head and interact with your loved one’s conversation. If you don’t understand something, politely ask open-ended questions.

3) Don’t criticize. Be compassionate and do not try to correct your loved one if they are inaccurate. Feel free to go along with their delusions and misstatements to see where the conversation takes you.

4) Use a calm voice and warm tone. Don’t be condescending and don’t use heightened emotion. Speak clearly using a calm manner.

5) Use names. Avoid pronouns and refer to people by their names. Be sure to greet your loved one with their name.

6) Use nonverbal cues. Keep eye contact and smile around your loved one. Maintaining an inviting demeanor will help your loved one stay at ease, and comfortable body language can help your loved one recognize that you are someone familiar, even if they don’t recognize or remember exactly who you are.

What to Say to Say to Someone With Alzheimer’s

People who suffer from memory impairment have trouble expressing emotions and thoughts, and also have trouble understanding others. Even if you think your loved one has become a shell of a person and is no longer there — they are. You just have to figure out a different way to reach them and know what to say to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides several “do’s” and “don’ts” for effective communications:

DO

  • Accept the blame when something’s wrong (even if it’s a fantasy)
  • Agree with them or distract them to a different subject or activity
  • Allow plenty of time for comprehension…then triple it
  • Avoid insistence — try again later
  • Be cheerful, patient, and reassuring
  • Eliminate “but” from your vocabulary, substitute “nevertheless”
  • Give short, one sentence explanations
  • Go with the flow
  • Have patience
  • Leave the room, if necessary, to avoid confrontations
  • Practice 100% forgiveness
  • Repeat instructions of sentences exactly the same way
  • Respond to the feelings rather than the words
  • Speak clearly and naturally
  • Talk about one thing at a time

DON’T

  • Don’t argue
  • Don’t confront
  • Don’t question about recent memory
  • Don’t try to reason
  • Don’t remind them that they forget
  • Don’t take it personally

It’s also important to recognize what you are up against. Memory disorders continue to get worse with time, so your loved one will not improve; and you have to accept that. You need to have patience and make the conversation as pleasant as possible.

Remember to Be Patient

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The human brain is very complex and your loved one will have both bad days and good days. Learning to be patient with these behavioral variances is key. Knowing how to act around someone with Alzheimer’s or how to help someone with Alzheimer’s will only go so far.

Be kind and remember your loved one for their good times. Above all else, be loving and respectful, as they need you now more than ever.

To learn more about how to communicate effectively with a loved one with dementia, consider contacting the Eau Claire Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) or visit their website at: Eau Claire County Dementia Coalition. The ADRC has a wealth of information about coping with dementia. They also offer dementia-related support groups that you can attend. The Classic actually hosts one of the groups on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Click here for information about memory care in Eau Claire.

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

There could come a time when your parent with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia will need more memory care than can be provided at home. During the middle and late stages of dementia, sometimes 24-hour supervision is required to ensure the person’s safety.  As dementia progresses further, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.

Making the decision to move a parent into a specialized memory care environment may be difficult, as it is tough to suddenly be faced with a decision that makes it feel like YOU are now in a parental role.  But it is important to consider whether or not it is possible to continue to provide the level of memory care needed in the person’s home.

The questions below, from the Alzheimer’s Association website, are ones to consider when determining if a move to residential memory care is a good option:
Is my mom or dad becoming unsafe in her or his current home? Is he/she getting lost in the neighborhood, or in the home itself?  Are you worried about the person wandering at night? Is crossing the street safely an issue?

Is the health of my parent, my own health, or the health of my other parent at risk?  This is a major consideration.  Caregiver stress can be deadly.  There are caregivers who actually die before their loved ones, because they are determined to do it all and once promised the person “they would never have to move to a home.”  Please consider that this is a situation neither party was thinking about when that promise was made.  You want to be able to be the daughter, or the son, or you want your other parent to be the wife, or the husband to the person with dementia. Being in the caregiver role can easily drain all energy from your rightful role.

Are my parent’s care needs beyond my physical abilities or the abilities of my other parent?  A doctor’s opinion might come in handy here, so that you, the son or daughter, have some professional backup for your own assessment of the situation.

Am I or is my other parent becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?Staff members who work with persons with dementia are trained to not take things personally, to answer repeated questions patiently, and to empathize even in the midst of challenging situation. It is typically very difficult, especially at first, for family members to adjust to the changes in their loved one.

Am I neglecting work or family responsibilities in the process of caring for my mom or dad?  If you are not sure who you can talk to about any of the issues listed here, this, do not hesitate to call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour help line as you wrestle with this or any dementia-related issue:  1-800-272-3900.

Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit my parent? Sometimes the person will flourish in an environment where there is more structure and interaction with others.  A lack of structure and routine is wearing and stressful for the person with dementia. Sometimes people adjust surprisingly quickly to a new environment, because they have less time on their own in which to become confused about what should happen next.  Others take longer to get used to a new routine.  Most people seem to settle in within 3-4 weeks.

Even if you plan ahead for a move, making this transition to a memory care facility can be incredibly stressful.  You may have an abundance of conflicting emotions.  You may feel relieved and guilty at the same time. These feelings are common. Regardless of where you choose to have the person cared for, it’s good to keep your focus on making sure your parent’s needs are well met.
Please see http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp for additional information.