Should I Consider Moving to Independent Living Before I Need Assisted Living?

Should I Consider Moving to Independent Living Before I Need Assisted Living?

Many seniors feel there is no real reason to move into a senior living community unless they need the services and support of assisted living. Their thinking is that as long as they are healthy and mobile, they should continue to live in their own home. They may feel a move to a senior living community is essentially the same as “surrendering.”

There are thousands upon thousands of seniors in independent living communities who will happily dispel that line of thinking. Aside from health considerations, there are definitely some solid reasons to relocate before you actually need assisted living.

1. You lose the constant, nagging worries and the expense of home maintenance.
Take a look around your home. Is everything in good repair, or are there small signs of neglect and deterioration? If you see those signs, that may mean you no longer have the desire or the energy to keep your home in tip-top shape. Perhaps it’s time to move, before your home investment begins to lose value. And a big plus…housekeeping is also included or available in independent living communities.

2. Everyday transportation challenges are overcome.
Maybe your driving isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe you’ve found yourself spending longer in the car to get to the grocery store and pharmacy along with the places you can buy things that are essential to your lifestyle. Either way, an independent living community can radically shrink the distances you have to travel. Combined with access to hair salons, libraries, and other essential services, you may not even need a vehicle.

3. Cooking becomes optional.
Are you tired of cooking? Residents of senior living communities often say that the food is the best part. If you’ve become bored with cooking and cleaning up afterwards, and understand that a steady diet of take-out is probably not meeting your nutritional needs, you will love that delicious meals are included or available in independent living communities.

4. Your social life may blossom.
Are you beginning to feel more and more isolated? Has your circle of friends diminished and does your datebook have several blank pages? Maybe it’s time to make new friends. And one of the best places to make those new friends is at an independent living community.

First of all, the residents already living there are your peer group, which means no more buddying-up to the young couple who moved in next door. Second of all, the social amenities and activities at most independent living communities are second to none. You’ll not only find companionship, but exercise classes, card games, painting classes, movie nights, lunch and dinner outings, music, dancing, and much more.

If you can’t make friends here, you can’t make friends.

5. The transition to assisted living is easier.
You’ve already made the “senior living decision” and probably discovered it was one of the best choices you’ve ever made. If at some point you need it, assisted living is the next step on the journey. Think of it as independent living with more personal services. In assisted living, you can continue to enjoy many of the activities and conveniences you’ve experienced in independent living, and now you know how fulfilling the senior living experience can be.

You may not fully understand this until you’ve made the move, but with independent living, you don’t give up your freedom and independence  you improve it! Independent living can translate to more convenience, enjoyment, peace-of-mind, and yes…independence, than you’ve experienced in a long time.

Downsizing Tips for Transitioning to Senior Living Apartments

Downsizing Tips for Transitioning to Senior Living Apartments

Downsizing to a smaller senior apartment on your own or at a senior living community is multi-step process. If you are moving from your own home, you’ll need to ready it for selling, weed out furniture you no longer want, possibly purchase furniture that fits your smaller space, and find creative ways to make the most of your new square footage.

Plan Ahead

Cut down on stress by preparing well in advance. Depending on the amount of furniture you have and your local housing market, this could be a few months to a few years from the time you actually move out. That means starting the planning process at least 2-3 months down the road. This time frame can be used to sell or donate furniture, measure your current furniture to see how it fits in your new space, and purchase new items as necessary.

Declutter

Ideally, you should begin decluttering your home well before the packing process. You’ll probably notice a lot of stuff you didn’t even know you owned. While some decisions may be easy (that ragged pair of slippers definitely should go in the trash), others require some thought. You might own a few items simply because of abandoned goals. That treadmill in the basement might have once served a purpose, but now it’s become a handy place to hang your clothes. The upside to a senior living community is that you’ll most likely have access to fitness center, so there’s no more need for your own heavy workout equipment. Do you have books that you’ve never read? Donate them and take advantage of the library instead. Use your space for items that you’ll actually use, not remnants of your abandoned resolutions.

Get Rid of Your Items

Once you’ve figured out which pieces need to go, you’ll need to decide whether you want to sell, donate, or put items in storage.

Sell
Your standard, run-of-the-mill items can be sold at garage sales or through online marketplaces. Ideally, you’ll want to set up your garage sale during neighborhood-wide or city-wide garage sale events. If you’re selling online, be sure to include thorough descriptions of your items with size, color, age, exact price, etc. New clothing that has designer labels can typically be sold at consignment stores. Remember that you’re selling these items because you won’t have room for them anymore ⎯ don’t turn down low offers just because of pride. Your end goal is to have all your unwanted items gone by the time you move.

Donate
Your easiest option is to load your unwanted items into your car and drop them off at a thrift store. Not only are you potentially helping out someone in need, but you’re also making your job easier! Some charities will even come pick up your items for you if you can’t make the drive yourself. Locally, Goodwill Stores, Hope Gospel Mission, Bethesda Thrift Shop, and Savers are good donation options.

Store
If you’re on the fence about an item, put it in storage for six months instead of moving it into your apartment in your senior living community. If you haven’t thought about the item in the six months that it’s been collecting dust, it’s time to move on. You can find a storage unit near you and decide if the price of the storage unit is worth it.

Antiques
Some items may be worth a pretty penny, so any items that are rare, old, or collectible should be set aside for appraisal or research. Once you’ve established a price point, you can try selling them online through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist, or selling to an antique mall. It may be worth the drive to sell your items to an antique mall in a larger or wealthier city. Keep in mind though that fine china, silverware, and that special china hutch may not necessarily appeal to collectors. Do your research before tying to sell your antiques.

Measure Twice

One of the worst things that can happen during a move is mismeasurements. A couch that can’t squeeze through a door frame or a coffee table that takes up half the room, can represent a real problem. You can prevent these mini-catastrophes from happening in the first place by measuring your furniture and floor plan TWICE before you move. You’ll want to pay particular attention to your bed, sofa, and any other large items that will need to fit through several doorways.

If there isn’t a floor plan for your new residence available online, ask if you can go in and take some measurements yourself. Having a floor plan will help you visualize where windows and doors are when you’re making furniture purchases or planning where furniture will go.

Figure Out In-Home Storage

Once you come to terms with the fact that you’ll have less storage space in your new senior living apartment, the next step is to take inventory of the storage space you will have and determine which items are worth keeping. Keep in mind that many retirement communities offer residents small storage spaces.

When it comes to closet space, realize that if you are transitioning from a walk-in closet to a smaller closet, you may want to hang up clothing items that are in season. Other items can go in the bottom drawer of a dresser or be stored in the top shelf of your closet. Also, using shoe cubbies can help keep your smaller space organized.

Your new senior apartment may have fewer kitchen cupboards. If so, you’ll need to go through and choose your must-haves. Having more than one set of silverware isn’t necessary if you won’t be hosting many meals in your home. Luckily, many senior living communities like The Classic offer restaurant-style dining, with up to three chef-prepared meals a day.

Storage Containers
The best storage containers are stackable, see-through, and made of plastic. That way, you can stack vertically to accommodate your smaller space and easily identify which container you want to remove from the stack. It never hurts to label either.

Tips for Interior Design and Furnishing Small Spaces

Small-space living means you can enjoy shared senior living community living without all the maintenance. And in your private senior living apartment, you can dedicate time to personalizing your senior living apartment space. The following are some interior design tips to make the most of our new apartment.

  • Don’t worry about fitting all your activities into a small apartment. Most retirement communities will have common spaces for hobbies like sewing, painting, woodworking, and more.
  • Purchase furniture that’s multi-functional like a multi-sided book shelf that also works as a coffee table.
  • Use folding chairs that you can bring out when you have guests.
  • Make sure your furnishings are even-toned to make your smaller senior apartment seem more spacious.
  • Use high-mounted elements, like bookcases and cabinets.
  • Use a large china cabinet or hutch to store food if your apartment doesn’t have a pantry.
  • Make the most of movable pieces. Invest in utility carts with wheels so you can shuffle items around as needed.
  • Avoid clutter by storing knickknacks in drawers or…throwing them out.
  • Go for quality over quantity. Find statement pieces that will make the room pop.
  • Invest in ottomans with tops that lift to store blankets and pillows.

Moving into a senior living community gives you more opportunities to visit your new neighbors and cuts down on home maintenance. Plus, you’ll have extra money to spend on new hobbies.

Considering Moving Loved Ones to a Senior Living Community During Covid-19 Pandemic?

Considering Moving Loved Ones to a Senior Living Community During Covid-19 Pandemic?

To some extent, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly everyone’s daily lives across the United States. Seniors have been especially affected due to their increased risk of contracting a serious case of the virus.
 
If you have an older loved one, COVID-19 may put you in a tough situation due to their increased health risk. Seniors need to be even more diligent about social distancing than the rest of the population. This distancing can make it difficult to determine how to handle your loved one’s care while also keeping them safe, especially if they require daily assistance or care.
 
Senior living environments like The Classic that offer independent living as well as assisted living level of services are still the best option for many individuals. Considering the enhanced safety measures senior living communities like The Classic are taking, moving to a senior community may make more sense than living alone and not getting adequate care.

Determining the Appropriate Care Options

Coronavirus spreads easily from person to person, a phenomenon known as “community spread,” which makes apartment complexes and senior living communities an environment in which the virus can thrive. This may make some people hesitant to move their loved one into an assisted living facility right now, even if their loved one needs care.

While senior living communities are implementing strict health and safety measures to prevent community spread, it may be harder to implement the same kinds of policies in your own home. For example, if your elderly loved one lives with you, someone who lives in the home could pick up the virus while running errands and unknowingly pass the virus to your older loved one. Or, if the senior’s main family caregiver gets sick, the family may need to choose whether to potentially pass the illness onto their older loved one or leave their loved one temporarily without care. Additionally, seniors who live alone will most likely be completely isolated for the foreseeable future as people follow social distancing guidelines. This can present dangers for both physical and mental health.

When you consider the steps that senior communities are taking, such as enacting strict social distancing rules and other safety protocols, and the fact that residents don’t need to leave for essentials, your loved one may be safer there right now. Senior living communities also have several caregivers on staff, ensuring that residents will not have to go without care in the event that someone on the staff is unable to work during the virus outbreak.

Who is a Good Fit for Residential Care During Coronavirus?

If your loved one is not currently living in a residential care facility, you may have put plans to move on hold for now. But for many seniors, a senior living community is still the right choice. In general, the following people are good candidates for senior living:

• Seniors who need regular assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, or dressing
• Seniors who live alone and have a medical condition that may require urgent attention
• Seniors who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another form of memory impairment, as this can make it difficult to follow hygiene protocols
• Seniors living with any family members who are unable to social distance or isolate such as medical professionals, grocery workers, etc.
• Seniors who live with any family member who has traveled internationally in the last two weeks
• Seniors who live in a home with other people who are not isolating, and the senior does not have their own bedroom and/or bathroom where they can isolate

Proper Precautions for Senior Living Communities

The following are a few of the steps many senior living communities like The Classic are taking to protect their residents. It’s important to note that you should always follow the latest guidance from the CDC and local government directives and be sure that you are taking action on reliable information directly from the source.

Visitor Restrictions

At the present time, most senior living communities in Wisconsin continue to have a “no family visitor” policy, whereby family members are not allowed to enter the facility. An exception does allow for no more than 3-4 family visitors to be present on a “move-in” day to help a parent or relative place his/her personal belongings. Visitors must have their temperature taken, complete a short medical questionnaire, and be masked at all times. Also, up to 2-3 family members can be present during an “end-of-life” scenario.

Staff screenings and health requirements

Staff are screened on a daily basis and are being instructed to stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus or the cold, flu, or any other illness. Since most workers in senior living communities spend time with many different residents throughout the day, if a staff member is sick, the likelihood of them passing the illness along to multiple recipients is high. It is especially important that staff do not work when there’s any chance that they may be sick and could introduce an illness to the facility. Work policies have been adjusted to allow for more flexibility in missing work.

Postponing activities and limiting access to communal spaces

Because residents live in apartment-style units and tend to eat, relax, and congregate in communal areas, it can be difficult to implement social distancing in senior care communities. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, most communities have either totally postponed or altered group activities for the foreseeable future and have closed common areas like dining rooms. In lieu of closed dining areas, most communities are offering “room service” or some form of “grab ‘n go” dining. Most communities are requiring residents to wear a facemask if he/she is outside of their apartment. In addition, high traffic areas are disinfected multiple times each day and increased placement of hand sanitizer stations is typical.

Resident assessments

Facilities are regularly screening residents for any symptoms of coronavirus, specifically respiratory distress. Daily screening can help facilities catch any cases of coronavirus early and prevent further community spread.

What Exactly is Memory Care?

What Exactly is Memory Care?

Though many assisted living facilities have memory care units on the premises, the two forms of care are not synonymous with one another. Memory care is a more comprehensive type of senior care as it caters specifically to individuals who live with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other types of memory problems. Memory care units generally have 24-hour supervised care within a standalone wing or on another floor of an assisted living facility. The physical layouts of dementia care units are designed to be easy to navigate around, which minimizes the likelihood of wandering. Dementia care units have dedicated programs intended to delay the progression of dementia among their residents.

If your elderly loved one lives with memory problems that hinder their ability to perform the activities of daily living (bathing, eating, medication management, toileting, dressing, and other self-maintenance tasks), it may be time to consider moving them into a memory care unit.

General Assisted Care Services

Safety and well-being is a top priority for all assisted living communities. This is true regardless of whether they cater specifically to dementia care residents or not. A quality senior living facility should offer these primary care services:

• Help with ADLs, such as feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, grooming, and ambulating
• Three daily meals
• Housekeeping services
• Transportation

Services That Are Specific to Memory Care

Aside from ensuring the safety of their residents, the main objective of dementia care facilities is to slow the progression of memory loss. To achieve this goal, dementia care units offer both standard senior living services in addition to the following:

Safety for wandering or confused residents

• 24-hour supervision
• Secured and/or alarmed premises
• Emergency call systems

Specifically, trained staff

• Medication management
• Nursing staff

Structured Environment

• Cognitive therapies that include music, art, and reminiscence are proven to enhance brain function, communication and social interaction in memory care patients
• Gardens, which help dementia patients feel less trapped
• Health and exercise programs
• Socialization activities

Goals & Benefits of Memory Care

Memory Care is the fastest growing segment of senior care, and for a good reason it offers more than assisted living by providing an improved quality of life, despite the circumstances. In addition to keeping seniors safe and promoting their mental and physical well-being, memory care units offer residents a variety of services that actively work against their memory loss.

Memory Care units have reported other substantial improvements in their residents’ overall quality of life. Some of the more notable enhancements are as follows:
• Decreased falls and injuries
• Reduced need for medications and reduction in medication-related side effects
• Fewer violent episodes
• Fewer emergency room visits
• Increased independence and social interaction
• Enhanced nutrition and reduction in vitamin deficiencies

Comparing Memory Care to Other Types of Long-Term Care

 

Memory Care vs. Assisted Living

Though many assisted living communities have memory care units, assisted living care and memory care are not the same. In assisted living communities, residents are no longer able to perform ADLs on their own due to a progressive impairment. In an assisted living facility, your loved one would receive housing, support services, and health care as needed, as well as medication management, transportation, and if necessary, round-the-clock care.

Memory care differs from assisted living due to the fact that memory care comes with more restrictive, 24-hour supervision. The staff’s training in a memory care unit are also more comprehensive and detailed. Additionally, the physical layouts are designed to better suit the needs of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Assisted living communities are not federally regulated. However, memory care units are federally regulated in 23 states.

Memory Care vs. Skilled Nursing

Like some assisted living facilities, select skilled nursing homes also have memory care units. However, the care offered at skilled nursing homes is directed toward rehabilitation patients or those who do not require long-term care. Staff at these facilities may include speech-language pathologists, audiologists, rehabilitation specialists and physical therapists, among others. The staff ins memory care units, on the other hand, are specifically trained to meet the needs of persons with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other types of memory problems.

Memory Care vs. Residential Care

Residential care homes provide housing, meal services and help with activities of daily living. These facilities, also known as board and care homes, cater to small groups of adults. Though some offer part-time medical care, it is not the primary focus of this type of senior living community.

Signs It’s Time for Memory Care

Deciding to transition an aging loved one to a senior living facility can be tough. However, memory care may be decision to thoughtfully consider. If you need help relieving your guilt over transitioning your elderly parent into a memory care unit, ask yourself the following questions:
• Does your loved one experience incontinence or need help toileting?
• Does your loved one need help with eating?
• Does your loved one need ongoing medical attention, e.g. colostomy care or dialysis?
• Does your loved one require diabetic care?
• Does your loved one wander?
• Does your loved one show aggression or other behavioral issues?
• Does your loved one need 24/7 supervision?
• Is your loved one experiencing Sundowner’s Syndrome?
• What is your loved one’s level mobility? Does he or she walk independently or require a walker or wheelchair?
• Is your loved one getting lost in familiar territory?
• Does your loved one know his or her phone number and address?
• Does he or she forget to lock or shut doors?
• Is he or she forgetting to turn off stove burners or the oven?
• Have you seen a decline in personal hygiene or appearance?
• Is your loved one able to manage his or her own meds?
• Is he or she increasingly suspicious or paranoid?
• Does your loved one experience short term memory loss?
• Does your loved one substitute words that make no sense or forget everyday words, such as “fork” or “toothbrush?”
• Does he or she seem disoriented, even in familiar environments?
• Does your loved one experience delusions or seems depressed?
• Does your loved one have unexplained weight loss?
• Has your loved one forgotten how to perform the most basic of daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking?
• Has your loved one become withdrawn?
• Does he or she continuously misplace objects or have to retrace his or her steps?
• Has caregiving for your loved one become too much?

If you answered yes to a handful or more of the above questions, it may be time to talk to your loved one and family members about memory care.

Technology for Seniors in Assisted Living

Technology for Seniors in Assisted Living

Even though seniors may have a lower rate of technology adoption than any other age group, people 55 and older continue to become more digitally connected. According to Pew Research, about 40% of seniors now own smartphones, which is a significant increase from the number of those who died a few years ago and…Internet adoption has risen steadily as well. Today, many assisted living communities, like The Classic, offer Wi-Fi and other technology programs to help seniors make the most of technology. There are many methods that allow your loved ones to improve their use of technology and improve their connectivity and overall well-being while they enjoy life in an assisted living community.

Big Screen Televisions

Today’s big screen TVs come with incredibly detailed pictures, and they’re a perfect addition to your loved one’s living area in an assisted living community. The larger view offered by a big screen is easier for seniors to see, and it’s easy to adjust the sound to accommodate any hearing loss. For seniors that don’t get the chance to travel often, watching travel shows on a large screen can make them feel like they’re going abroad themselves and larger screens are also perfect for senior exercise videos, game shows, and more.

Tablets

Tablets, whether they’re iPads or other similar devices, are lightweight and feature easy-to-use touchscreens. Seniors can use them to play games promoting brain fitness or install apps that make it easy to keep track of health information. Video chat apps can be used on tablets to stay in touch with loved ones, too. These devices actually make reading books more enjoyable since it’s easy to adjust the font size for each individual’s needs. With so many great apps available today, seniors can do everything from viewing photos to learning a new language with the help of a tablet.

Skype, Facetime, and Other Video Messaging Applications

Skype, Facetime, and other video messaging apps help increase interaction with loved ones and friends across the miles, which can keep seniors from feeling isolated and lonely. Maintaining social connections later in life decreases the risk of depression and improves overall physical and emotional well-being. Communicating with family becomes easy with video messaging applications, allowing seniors to see people in real time. Not only can these apps be used on computers, but they’re also available for tablets and smartphones as well.

Beyond offering an excellent method of face-to-face communication, this technology can keep seniors from feeling left out from big family events they can’t attend. For example, someone can use Skype or similar applications to stream a wedding to an aging loved one live, so they don’t miss out on those special memories.

The current Covid-19 situation is a perfect opportunity for seniors to utilize video technology. As the world tries to adapt to the new social realities imposed by COVID-19, it is essential that older adults continue to feel connected to loved ones, friends, and caregivers around them. Regular routines can be altered to include technology. For instance, families can use Skype to enable an older relative to join them for dinner or read bedtime stories. It is also a great time for bonding, especially if a grandchild offers to talk to their grandparents through setting up a Skype account so they can see one another.

Video and Computer Games

Video games and computer games aren’t just for young people as many seniors enjoy them too. Not only are they a lot of fun, but recent studies have found that playing video games may help ward off mild cognitive impairment in seniors. Learning new things by 3-D video games engages the hippocampus of the brain. Some games, such as games played with a Wii Fit, can be used to improve physical health, while others promote social interaction in aging adults. Virtual reality (VR) and altered reality (AR) games and experiences also provide benefits for seniors. With VR, seniors have the ability to visit locations across the world, which allows them to enjoy other places and cultures from home.

Using Social Media to Stay in Touch

Social media sites like Facebook, Google+, and Instagram also offer a great way to stay in touch. Research shows that nearly half of seniors that use the Internet use social networking sites like Facebook. Aging adults can check in with family members, easily see photos, and stay up-to-date on family news by using social media.

Continuing Learning Online

With the help of the Internet, seniors can also continue their education online from their assisted living community. Lifelong learning comes with many benefits, such as improved mental well-being, better health, and an increase in self-efficacy. Having the technology of the Internet at their fingertips makes it easy for aging adults to keep learning, whether they want to take actual college courses, learn a language, or learn a new hobby. Seniors can sign up for college classes with many different online universities, or if they want to go for the free route, sites like edX offer college-level courses free-of-charge. For learning new languages, sign language, or even an exciting new hobby like knitting, YouTube is packed with helpful how-to videos that make if fun and easy to pick up a new skill.

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology, from medical alert systems to fitness trackers, offers many benefits for seniors residing on an assisted living property. Fitness tracking devices like bracelets or watches make it easy for aging adults to stay active by keeping track of their steps, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep activity, and more. Medical alert systems can be worn as bracelets or necklaces and set up to alert to alert assisted living staff members and/or family members if the button is pushed by the wearer.