Celebrating the Holidays in Assisted Living

Celebrating the Holidays in Assisted Living

Celebrating the Holidays with Seniors Residing in Assisted Living or Memory Care

Holidays in assisted living & memory care communities can still be fun, festive, and meaningful even if it means embracing new traditions. The holidays are about spending quality time with people you care about. Older adults in assisted living will feel loved and included when you find ways to bring the holiday spirit to them. Remind yourself that what’s most important is celebrating together in a way that works for the current situation.

To help you find ways to celebrate, we’ve outlined answers to three typical questions that can arise.

  • Should I bring mom home to celebrate with the rest of the family?

If mom doesn’t have dementia and you can handle her physical needs and transportation, going to the family home would be a great way to celebrate the holidays. Before deciding, talk with her to see how she feels about it. She may be concerned about getting too tired or needing help with personal care. Reassure her by explaining how her needs can be met. If she’s feeling shy or afraid that she’ll be a burden during a fun time, remind her of how much the family is looking forward to seeing her.

If your mom does have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive impairments, it may be disorienting to take her out of a familiar environment. Staff members who know her well may help you decide what would work best. Some people with dementia enjoy festive events, but others are easily rattled by changes in routine, loud noises, or crowds. If your mom is likely to get agitated, it might be better to have a quiet mini-celebration in her room or just have a regular visit.

  • My dad has dementia. This year, he doesn’t even seem to know that it’s the holidays. Will he even know or care if we celebrate with him?

Even if your dad doesn’t seem engaged with the world, he’ll still enjoy spending time with you and family. You may or may not want to take him out of assisted living, depending on how well he usually does with outings. If he typically enjoys going out, then it may be a good idea. If not, turn the visit into a festive occasion if that’s likely to bring him joy.

It’s a perfect time to reminisce over old photos, sing along or listen to holiday music, or admire cheerful decorations. Unless he becomes agitated or upset by activities or change in routine, seeing you in the holiday spirit will likely brighten his day.

  • What activities can I do to celebrate the holidays with someone in memory care?

If your loved one has dementia, a low-key approach to the holidays may work better. Overstimulating holiday activities or busy decorations could be confusing or cause agitation. Start with a few simple decorations and smaller groups of visitors and see how things go. You can always add more or take some away, depending on the reaction.

For seniors with cognitive impairment, find creative ways to help them take part in family celebrations. Reassure your older adult that they won’t be forgotten or abandoned by telling them when you’ll celebrate with them.

Try these festive activity suggestions:

  • Decorate their apartment/room together. Get a mini tree, use garland to make a tree-shaped outline on the wall and tape ornaments onto it. Put a few decorative items around the room, or hang a wreath on the door
  • Help them think of and purchase gifts for kids and grandkids and wrap them together.
  • Arrange a family visit and open presents together it’s more fun when the whole group has presents to open
  • For family members living far away, arrange video chats so they can virtual visitors
  • Accompany them to a holiday event or meal hosted by the community at which they reside
  • Sing along with or listen to holiday songs together
  • Watch a holiday-themed movie
  • Work on a holiday-themed puzzle or a fun coloring page

Holiday Visits with Seniors – Things to Look For

Holiday Visits with Seniors – Things to Look For

Long-Distance Caregivers: Things to Look for During Holiday Visits with Seniors

In a recent study conducted by the National Alliance of Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, 15 percent of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members live an hour or more away from their care recipient. This means that a significant number of caregivers rely on regular telephone conversations and check-ins by other closer-living relatives to gauge an aging loved one’s well-being.

Unfortunately, age-related decline can happen quickly, and in many cases, seniors are skilled at concealing new and worsening problems. For many of these families, holiday visits are the only opportunity for them to observe their loved one in person, so it’s important to pay close attention to their physical and mental health and their living situation.

During this year’s holiday gatherings, be sure to look for the following warning signs that a loved one may need some extra help.

Weight Loss
One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. Possible causes could be cancer, dementia, or depression. Seniors may also experience reduced energy, which can make it challenging to shop for and prepare a nutritious meal as well as clean up afterwards. Furthermore, all this effort can seem especially unnecessary if they live and eat alone. Certain medications and aging in general can also change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concerns and schedule a doctor’s visit to address the issue.

Changes in Balance & Mobility
Pay close attention to the way your loved one moves and how they walk. A reluctance to walk, changes in gait or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint, muscle, or neurological problems. If your loved one is unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, which can cause severe injury or worse. If you notice changes in their mobility and coordination, make an appointment with their doctor to discuss options to keep them safe and mobile, such as pain management, physical therapy, and mobility aids.

Emotional Well-Being
Keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s moods and behavior. You can’t always gauge someone’s emotional state over the telephone, even if you speak on a daily basis. Look for signs of anxiety, including withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, and changes in basic home maintenance and personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator of dementia or other physical ailments like dehydration, which often happens to elders in the winter months and can be serious. If you notice sudden odd behavior in your loved one, such as confusion or agitation, be sure to seek medical attention. These are common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is prevalent in seniors and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment
Attention must also be paid to a senior’s surroundings. For instance, if your loved one has always been a stickler for neatness and paying bills promptly, but you discover excess clutter and piles of unopened mail while visiting, it indicates a problem. Take a walk-through of their home while you’re visiting to see if they are keeping their house to the usual standards. Be aware that sometimes the signs of trouble are a bit more subtle. Scorched cookware could indicate that your loved one forgets food on the stove or in the oven, and an overflowing clothes hamper could mean they don’t have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. Be sure to check the expiration dates on their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Also make sure they’re taking their medications as prescribed. You know your loved one and their habits best, so go with your gut if something seems off.

How to Handle Signs of Decline
While you may want to keep things light during the holiday season, do take this opportunity to address any red flags you observe. Collect any necessary information while you are in town to avoid any added frustration and confusion in the event of a crisis down the road.

The Initial Conversation
First, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one about their present circumstances and any concerns you may have. Suggest making an appointment with their primary care physician for a complete health assessment. The results of this evaluation will help you both determine what the next possible steps are may be necessary to keep your loved one safe, happy, and healthy.

Identify Supportive Resources
If possible, visit your local Department of Aging office. In the Eau Claire area, this would be the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Their office is located in the Eau Claire County Courthouse complex in Eau Claire. They are an excellent contact for information on resources and services available in the area. While it may be more difficult to arrange a face-to-face meeting with one of their Options Counselors during the holidays, it is still worth reaching out or leaving a message by phone at either: 715-839-4735 or 888-338-4636. You can also visit their website at: https://www.co.eau-claire.wi.us/departments/departments-a-k/aging-disability-resource-center to research the services they offer.

Sit down with your loved one to create a current list of people they interact with on a regular basis. This list should include friends, neighbors, and clergy who you trust to keep an eye on your loved one and you can contact in the event of an emergency. Double-check their addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses, and…be sure to share your own contact information with them.

Prepare a To-Do List
Now is the time to begin compiling a To-Do List that can be implemented over a period of future visits. There are three categories to this list: medical, financial, and legal.

Medical: You’ll want to develop a complete medical record for your loved one, including their health conditions, prescriptions, and their doctors’ names and contact information. This is extremely helpful for you to have on file, and your loved one can keep a condensed copy on hand for both routine appointments and medical emergencies. Have you arranged to have a health care Power of Attorney (POA)? Information regarding this document as it pertains to Wisconsin residents can be found at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms/advdirectives/f00085.pdf.

Financial: A financial list should contain all of a loved one’s property ownership, debts, income, expenses, and bank account and credit card information. This list will help minimize confusion and ensure all their bills are paid on time.

Legal: The legal aspect of this To-Do List is possibly the most important. There are vital documents that must be obtained to ensure you can access your loved one’s medical information, make health and financial decisions in case they become incapacitated and administer their estate. If they have not already done so, it is crucial for your loved one to meet with an attorney to draw up medical and financial power of attorney (POA) documents and a will. You should have access these documents and other important information, such as their social security number, Medicare information, insurance policies, the deed to their home (if applicable), and their driver’s license (if he/she is still driving).

All of these preparations may seem excessive, but it is better to be over-prepared then caught off guard when a loved one’s care needs suddenly increase. Throughout this process, remember to empower them to control their own life as much as possible. You may receive some resistance, but remind your loved one that sharing this information and pursuing supportive resources will enable them to remain independent and safe in their own home and give you added peace of mind as you return home from your holiday visit.

The Holiday Season: A Great Opportunity to Make Important Decisions for Your Elderly Parents

For many families, the upcoming holiday season is a time for coming together and a time for reflection. For adult children, these aspects of the season can often make for some tough situations. We may realize upon seeing our parents after a long absence that their health is not what it used to be. Realizing you need to come up with a strategy for caring for elderly parents is never an easy feat, but it is the first important step in facing a reality that nearly all of us will encounter as we ourselves get older.

A Role Reversal

The role reversal that caring for aging parents imposes on us and our loved ones can be difficult. However, with the right outlook and the help of advice on caring for elderly parents, you can make the necessary adjustments a little bit easier on you and your family.

When you’re first encountering this role reversal it can be, above all, strange for the parties on both sides. Some parents, having cared in different ways for you your whole life, may put up some resistance to this time of change. With this in mind, when your family is discussing caring for elderly parents, the most important thing might be to approach all conversations and conflicts with a heavy dose of patience. Every family is different, and the amount of difficulty involved in stepping up your role in caring for aging parents can vary widely. You should consider the situation for what it is…a process, not a single moment. With patience and perseverance, you can find the best solution for taking care of your parents based on their individual needs.

Where To Start

Every process of course has a starting point. And when it comes to caring for aging parents, this process needs to start with a realistic, group conversation that involves your family members and seeks input from both children and parents. Another source of tension in caring for elderly parents can be the process of sorting out the roles of different siblings. While it may be stressful, it is important to involve everyone. In the end, the degree of commitment in caring for aging parents may vary from sibling to sibling. However, without involving them in the conversation, you will never know how they feel about the situation. As hard as it may be to discuss certain things, using this time of year when your family may all get together in one place can be much easier than when you have all gone back to your busy lives.

Ask The Experts

Your family does not have to make this decision on its own, of course. Consider connecting with experts in your community and seek out their advice. Talk to your parent’s physician, staff at a local senior living community, an elder care attorney, as well as friends who have been in this situation before. Take in all this advice that you can about possible care options, so that you can be sure your family arrives at the right, well-informed decision for your parent(s).

You Can Do This!

By beginning with a level-headed conversation during this season, you can start down the road towards caring for your elderly parents to the best of your ability. Based on your parents’ individual health, consider their options for senior living and care including all willing parties that you can this holiday season. With the right, patient approach, you can help ensure the best outcome for all involved.

Why You Should Visit a Senior Living Community During the Holidays

The holidays are traditionally a time of year when families get together to celebrate. In many cases, when loved ones are disbursed across the country, this is often the first time all year when the family is reunited. For adult children returning home to visit a senior loved one, the changes they see in their family member’s appearance can sometimes be shocking. They may be unprepared for how much an aging parent has been struggling.

Even when families talk on the phone several times a week, an aging parent may be unwilling to open up about the problems they are experiencing. It’s not unusual for us to talk with panicked families throughout the holiday season who are in a frantic search to find a senior living community while they are home. Even at that, many families are reluctant to discuss the issue or bring their loved one(s) by for a visit during the holidays.

Surprisingly, the holidays can be an ideal time to visit a senior living community like The Classic. From the festive décor, the jam-packed schedule of events, the holiday season in a senior living community is very lively!

Why Visit The Classic During the Holidays?

While adult children may feel like the holidays are a terrible time of the year to talk about moving to a senior living community, the opposite might actually be true.

Below are a few reasons you should consider touring The Classic when you visit your senior loved one this holiday season.

Family Input: Because families are often together during the holidays, it can be an ideal time to discuss senior care options and to visit communities together.

Enjoy the Festivities: The Classic is especially lively and festive during the holidays. Youth groups visit to entertain, school choirs perform, and the halls are decked! The whole spirit of our community can be very appealing to a senior who may be feeling isolated living alone at home.

Beat the Rush: January is often a very popular month for families to visit and tour senior living communities. You can beat the rush by exploring your options and… if The Classic is deemed as your loved one’s destination, getting your deposit in and getting on our wait list will guarantee that you will get a call from us sooner when a unit becomes available.

How to Have “The Talk” With Your Aging Loved One

Wondering how to start the conversation with an aging parent about a sensitive topic? Whether you need to talk about moving to a senior living community, giving up driving, or bringing in help, knowing which words to use and to avoid can improve the odds of moving towards a solution.

A good place to start is to first realize there are typically two fundamental personality types of parents:

  • those with whom you have a relationship in which you can be very straightforward and they welcome your ideas and feedback and,
  • those who tend to be more self-conscious or private and don’t welcome these kinds of discussions and may even find it somewhat insulting.

You should also be fully aware that even if in the past, your parent was sharing and receptive, this can change due to aging-related issues like depression, creeping dementia, lowered self-esteem, or other frustrations. On the other hand, a close-lipped parent may be relieved to talk because he or she is worried as well.

What to say about sensitive subjects can also be tricky because both parties typically have different goals. Adult children want to solve the problem and move on. Their parents, however, want foremost to maintain a sense of control and dignity in a time of their life that can be marked by many losses. Your goal in how to have “the talk”: Balance both sides’ needs by moving forward slowly and with care.

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Do Some Homework

Before you say a word, take some time to collect information and research possible solutions. Ultimately, the goal is to problem-solve together through a dialogue with your parent rather than trying to dictate the solution or attempt to convince through arguments. If you gather facts first, you’ll be able to help in a way that’s better informed and less stressful for everyone.

Health Issues

Observe what specific kinds of limitations you’re seeing. Trouble climbing stairs? Cooking? Managing finances? Grooming? Thinking in terms of specifics helps you to figure out the best solutions, as well as accurately describe any concerns to any outside resources and to your parent.

Driving

Make it a point to personally observe your parent drive while looking for potential signs of unsafe driving. Research alternate transportation services in your parent’s area or explore other ways he or she might get around without a personal auto.

In-Home Care

Closely observes what activities your parent are having trouble with. Look around the house for concrete signs that he or she may not be doing well living independently. Start to research sources of in-home care help and associated costs.

Moving/Senior Living Communities

Check out a few places on your own so you have concrete examples to talk about. If you live a long distance away, read reviews about various options and if possible, make an appointment to tour them when you’re there. Don’t think of it as being “sneaky,” as it can actually be less anxiety-provoking for your parent if you present them with options you’ve already checked out. And…you can also make them feel empowered by going through the whole list of choices together if he or she prefers.

Test the Waters

Before you start the conversation, take time to get a sense of whether your parent is open to it. You can do this by first introducing an unthreatening related topic. This can be done by phone before a visit, or if you see your parent often, in a separate visit. This isn’t yet the time for hot-button topics, criticism, or anything contentious. Keep things positive and generalized. Does he or she respond openly? Defensively? Evasively? This will give you the important insight into how to proceed.

Say something like:

  • “How’s the house? It must be hard to keep this place in good shape.”
  • “How’s your health? What’s the doctor saying these days?”
  • “How’s the car? Still driving to where you need to go?”

If your parent sounds interested, say something like:

  • “Is there some way I can be helpful?”
  • “Yes, I can see why that would bother you. Let’s talk about it more when I see you.”

Even if in a “test-the-waters” chat, your parent sounds receptive to discussing a tough issue, it’s usually best not to plunge in yet. In this first talk, you should be looking to simply float the issue, not problem-solve. You want to show in a respectful way that you can be a helpful, non-judgmental resource.

If he or she asks you, “What should I do?” say something like:

  • “I’ll be there soon. Let’s work on it together then.”
  • “What are your thoughts? Give me some time to think about that too.”

What not to say:

  • “Yep, that’s a problem. I’m going to do X and Y to take care of that for you.”
  • “Sounds to me like it’s finally time to move to an assisted living place.”
  • “You sound confused. I’m going to call your doctor.”

Choose the Best Messenger

What if your parent resists any talk about his or her future? Pause to consider whether this conversation is best had by another person. A neutral third-party such as a doctor, family friend, clergy can perhaps be better suited to bring up tricky topics like driving or whether to continue living independently. These people can lay the same groundwork, explaining what seems to be wrong and suggesting options for fixing it, without risking a strained relationship in the way an adult child does when a parent is especially resistant or feels manipulated.

Set the Right Tone So you’ve done some homework and have a sense of how ready (or indifferent) your parent is. How do you take the plunge? Plan to start the conversation on a different day from your test-the-waters chat. This conversation should be done in person if at all possible as it feels less threatening or overbearing, and more natural. Make sure you are not critical the minute you walk in the door. Focus on connecting and having fun while also using some time to observe. While you may be on a mission to resolve the problem, you’ll have a more ready audience if you first take the time to enjoy one another’s company before diving in.

Try opening with compliments by saying something like:

  • “I like how you’ve…”
  • “Wow, looks like…”

Look for an Opening The best time to segue into a serious conversation is when your parent brings it up first and asks for your help. If that fails to occur, look for an opportunity when everyone is relaxed. Then take the plunge and describe what you’re seeing.

If a direct approach feels welcome, say something like:

  • “I see the steps are a problem for you and you almost fell this morning. Is that happening a lot?”
  • “It looks like you’re having trouble getting off the couch, and you seem a little lonely and mixed up when you’re tired. You know they say that people do a lot better where there’s a lot of activity going on, and things to enjoy.”
  • “Mom said you got another ticket, and I noticed the rear fender of the car is dented again. What do you think is going on?”

If an indirect approach seems like a better strategy, say something like:

  • “I read about this man in the paper who lost control of his car and killed some kids on the sidewalk. He was about your age. It made me think we should consider what’s in your best interests with the car now.”
  • “Lauren’s parents just sold their house on Elm Street and moved to a retirement community. You should have heard her mom rave about not having to do any more yard work.”
  • “Remember Jack, my friend who became a doctor? He told me that his whole family has living wills and I’m thinking we should all do that too.”

What not to say:

  • “The house was a mess last time I was there. You need a housekeeper!”
  • “Mom…dad looks awful! We need to go to the doctor when I get there, because you obviously are having trouble looking after him.”
  • “When are you going to give up driving? I heard you had another accident.”

Listen and Follow Your Parent’s Cues

Use reflexive listening an effective communication technique for difficult conversations. Rephrase what your parent says, as a way of playing back that you understand making your parent feel supported and then move the conversation forward.

Say something like:

  • “I hear you saying… but it’s also worth thinking about this…”
  • “Yes, I agree that… on the other hand…”
  • “I know you’re really worried about… Me, too but if X doesn’t happen…”
  • “That sounds upsetting for you… Have you thought about…?”

Realize that some older adults can’t articulate the real issue. They may shy from change, perhaps because they fear what it would be like or they lack the energy to deal with it. Often they avoid making a change not because of their own preferences but because they worry about upsetting someone else.

If she’s anxious, say something like:

  • “You’re right that moving is big hassle. But we’ll help you sort and pack and you won’t have to do much. We’ll set up your new bedroom to look just like this one.”
  • “I know we’ve always spent the holidays in this house, but we’d love to have Thanksgiving at our house this year. You can make your special pies there without having to worry about all the getting ready or cleaning up.”
  • “You may call them ugly old grab bars, and that’s what they used to be. But I was reading how universal design is really trendy, attractive home design right now.”

Find ways to be reassuring. Talk up the positives or stress how the solution is good for everyone.

If she’s resistant, say something like:

  • “Bob says he’ll pick you up for Breakfast Club every morning so you won’t have to miss it, and I’ll get your groceries.”
  • “Let’s make a list of pros and cons.”

To help with resistance, focus on the solution. Or, look for the underlying cause. Some people push back for a specific unmentioned reason, which may be emotional, physical, or cognitive. Maybe Dad doesn’t want to talk about moving because he thinks he can’t afford it. Maybe Mom lacks the cognitive ability to realize she can’t live alone. If the person is very resistant, the most successful person to have the conversation is not usually the adult child. A family friend or physician may have better luck.

If she’s interested or agreeable, say something like:

  • “What would it mean to you if you stopped driving/had someone to cook meals/moved?”
  • “What would be the most difficult thing about….?”
  • “Let’s make a list of what you can do about this.”
  • “Let’s think through the pros and cons of each situation.”
  • “Why don’t you try doing X for a couple of months and see how it works for you?”

The goal is to encourage more input and to keep the discussion positive and collaborative. If you want a parent to consider an assisted living option, one methodology is to casually drive by the best place you’ve identified through prior research and suggest dropping in together to have a look. Better yet, if you have a logical excuse, such as visiting a friend’s parent, stopping to see a “friend” who works there, or…participating in an activity or meal you’ve prearranged. Make sure it’s a place you’ve prescreened so that you’re fairly certain your parent will find things to like. Even if there is not much choice, lay out the options along with their pros and cons, strategize solutions to the biggest problems, and let your parent draw his or her own conclusion (assuming dementia is not an issue).

Let It Percolate Awhile

Whatever you do, don’t launch an aggressive “sell” on your favorite option the minute you get back home or the next time you talk. And don’t push for making a decision right away. Try not to even hint or nag at first.

What Not To Say:

  • “I hope you’ve been thinking about our idea of bringing in some help.”
  • “So…about selling your car have you done anything about that yet?”
  • “Wasn’t that place we saw nice? We need to get you out of here!”

Be Ready to Continue the Conversation at Any Time If your parent mentions the conversation at all, use this as a wedge to revisit the matter in a supportive way.

If he or she offers something positive, say something like:

  • “Yes, I could see you being happy there. What do you think it would be like to live there? Let’s think about what we’d have to do to make that happen I can help.”

If he or she expresses a concern:

Take this as a positive sign that he or she is at least aware of the issue and thinking about it. Go over the facts as well as the solutions again in a nonthreatening way.

If he or she says something negative: Don’t fall into the trap of an argument. Be patient and try to get at the underlying concern. Is it fear of running out of money? Is it a feeling that admitting help is necessary is also admitting failure of some kind? Look for ways to address and support the concern. As an example, maybe you give a weekly cleaning service as a Mother’s Day gift, “because I don’t know what else to get you and you deserve to be treated like a queen.”

Test the Waters (Again)

After some time passes, if your loved one doesn’t give you an opening, you can try bringing up the issue again in a test-the-waters way.

Say something like:

  • “How’s the car?”
  • “What did the doctor say?”

Know When to Bring In Help

Total resistance means it’s time for a third party (not the adult child) to try. This conversation may need to be more direct. It may have include a discussion of the risks and the possibility that if they don’t voluntarily give something up, for instance, their driver’s license or residence, there is a risk that others will take over because of the dangers involved and that they may have less say in what comes next. They can be told it’s better to work on it voluntarily with someone who loves them and only wants to help them get what they need. If the issue is critical and the person still won’t make a safe choice, it may be time to get a family doctor and lawyer involved to evaluate competency and, if appropriate, activate a Power of Attorney (POA) or appoint a guardian who can make safe choices on the person’s behalf.

Make It Clear You’re Comfortable With Any Decision

If your parent is of sound mind but just making decisions that you disagree with (not endangering ones), all you can do is continue the conversation in a positive way. Any choices are ultimately his or hers. You may not like the choice, or you may end up needing to revisit the matter at a later date. What you can do is remain upbeat and supportive, even if you’re frustrated or worried. This keeps a welcome sounding board as your parent moves, however slowly, toward resolution. Remember that transitions involve an ongoing dialogue. Difficult as that first conversation about a sensitive topic is, it’s only the first of many you’re like to have as you strategize your way towards a solution that everyone can feel better about.  

Senior Living Communities – Not the Nursing Home Feel of Yesterday

Senior Living Communities – Not the Nursing Home Feel of Yesterday

If you haven’t visited a senior living community in a while, you may have some misconceptions as senior communities have changed significantly over the last few years.

Why Seniors are Gravitating More Than Ever Toward Senior Living Communities

Today’s senior communities range from homelike to the luxury of a high-end hotel, and they definitely don’t feel institutional.

Most seniors who have moved to independent or assisted living communities report that they prefer life at their new home to living alone.

Here are some common reasons why:

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  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 opt to take advantage of transportation services often offered by senior living communities. There is no need to rely on a car any longer, although parking (including heated, parking garages) are often available for residents who still drive.

  1. Better Food

Many seniors who are used to living alone, may not currently be eating right. At many senior living communities, residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meal preparation if they so choose. Instead, they can enjoy a fine dining experience every day of the week with many communities offering chef-prepared meals. The food tastes good, alternative meals are almost always offered and special diet needs 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.

  1. Feeling Like Myself Again

Living alone, we may not be able to participate in activities and games we enjoyed, that were both fun and helped keep us sharp. Today’s senior communities offer a wealth of opportunities to keep us engaged. This can include favorite games like bridge, chess, and assorted board games. Engaging reading groups, fascinating classes and lectures are often regularly available as well.

  1. Feeling Safe

Residents can rest easy knowing they are secured from people who may do them harm. Furthermore, residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the emergency response systems that are in each apartment, or can even include safety pendants that can be worn by the resident. 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 doing just fine. It is a well-known reality however that vast numbers of seniors are living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations who would benefit immensely from life in a senior community.

  1. 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 the parents and their children. Once seniors move to a senior community, younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers and are able to assure time spent 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 are often pleased that their grown children no longer have “parent the parent.”

  1. New Friends

Older adults who live alone often become isolated, which is unhealthy at any age. At senior communities, people can make new friends and share meals with one another. Those persons who are more introverted can still benefit since while their privacy is respected, they still have more peace of mind knowing there are several other people around.

  1. 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, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, even vacuuming, can become things of the past. With all of these laborious concerns being taken care of by staff at a community, all those worries vanish.

  1. Vanquishing Boredom

Residents need never be bored at a senior living community, since there is typically something of interest for everyone. All kinds of activities and entertainment are offered, both on-site and through access to the local community. Entertainment can range from visiting musicians and performers, to day trips to local landmarks.

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Stages of Alzheimer’s: What to Expect

One vexing thing about Alzheimer’s, especially in the beginning, is how its effects differ from person to person. The individual you’re caring for might not experience every symptom or behavioral change, and the disease’s timetable can vary. A particular Alzheimer’s stage may last years longer for one person than for another, and symptoms can be experienced at earlier or later stages. Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, however, it always starts with mild symptoms and gradually worsens as time moves on.

Mild (Early-Stage) Alzheimer’s Disease

During this first Alzheimer’s stage, someone with the disease is likely to continue his or her usual activities, with Alzheimer’s-related changes being written off as “getting older,” “stress,” being “tired,” or just “simple mistakes.”

Memory: Memory lapses are typically the first sign, often years ahead of later symptoms. At this stage, it’s common to forget things more often or have trouble remembering details about even familiar topics. Of special difficulty will be recalling recent events and people met later in life, as well as learning and retaining new information. That’s why asking repetitive questions is a hallmark of the disease, as is writing notes to oneself about things like where the car is parked. It’s also common to repeat comments and stories within minutes without realizing it. At the same time, long-term memory, such as childhood recollections, may remain fairly detailed.

Communication and Social Skills: Someone with Alzheimer’s may have trouble finding the right word. Often people in this early Alzheimer’s stage are aware that something is amiss, though they may not be sure what’s wrong. They tend to shy from situations where they feel put on the spot or vulnerable to embarrassing mistakes, such as social outings, time with friends, or even telephone conversations.

Everyday Life: At this stage, they’re easily confused and distracted. They may find it hard to keep track of the time and miss appointments or favorite TV programs. Abstract thinking and making sound judgments become more difficult. They may lose the initiative to participate in activities that were once desirable (hobbies, a job) or routine (cooking, writing checks). They may misplace objects regularly or store them in unusual places, then forget where they put them.

Personality: Someone at this stage may seem to be acting unlike his or her old self. They may become irritable or angry when disease symptoms are disruptive or embarrassing. Mood swings are common and usually stem from frustration.

Other: You’ll notice “good” days where the person you’re concerned about seems unchanged and “bad” days when he or she is having trouble coping — especially in situations that are new, unusual, or otherwise stressful. At this stage, it’s common to get lost, leave a stove burner on, lock one’s self out of the car or house, or experience other such incidents.

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Moderate (Middle-Stage) Alzheimer’s Disease

Symptoms characteristic of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease now become more evident as they worsen, become more frequent, and are harder to “cover up.”

Memory: Repetitive statements and questions are very common and they occur within minutes of each other.

Communication and Social Skills: As ongoing memory lapses combine with greater difficulty in tracking conversations and contributing meaningfully to them, some people become more timid socially and more apprehensive about speaking up. Others become less inhibited and demonstrate less tact in social situations. In this Alzheimer’s stage, it becomes common to confuse people, especially if they resemble one another (like a mother and daughter). Cognitive impairment and declining hand coordination affect written communication; someone who once wrote letters and sent birthday cards no longer is interested. Many middle-stage Alzheimer’s sufferers stop reading. Even previously favorite TV programs may be too hard to follow.

Everyday Life: Expect more difficulty with abstract thinking and with making good judgments. He or she may have trouble following written directions, such as cooking from a recipe or filling out a form. (Verbal instructions are more challenging, and problems with them are usually evident earlier). Even routine, familiar activities that involve a sequence of steps, such as brushing one’s teeth or getting dressed, may be difficult to complete. Someone who’s still driving is at increased risk because of disorientation, decreased coordination, problems judging spatial relationships, and slower response times. Failing judgment makes him or her vulnerable to poor decisions regarding safety, health, or finances. Personality: Mood changes and personality alterations become more obvious, especially late in the day or when he or she is tired. They may become distrustful of loved ones, including you, or they may make unfounded accusations. Anxiety is common and is sometimes expressed by rummaging through drawers, aggressive behavior, yelling, or wandering through or away from the house. Hallucinations or delusions occur. Depression is a risk, often characterized by changes in appetite and sleep habits (he or she may be a lot hungrier or less hungry than usual, for example…or sleep much more or less than usual. Other: During middle-stage Alzheimer’s, it’s common to get disoriented in familiar environments as well as unfamiliar ones. Unplanned or new activities can be especially troubling. The sense of smell may be less sensitive, and incontinence becomes more common.

Severe (Late-Stage) Alzheimer’s Disease

By this final Alzheimer’s stage, it’s common to be bedridden and completely dependent on others, as the person can no longer reason or manage the most basic self-care.

Memory: As memory problems worsen, they begin to affect recollections from even the distant past. He or she may no longer recognize even close family members, including a spouse or children. He or she may not even recognize his or her own self when looking at photos or in the mirror and may consistently forget to take medicine and do everyday tasks like tooth brushing.

Communication and Social Skills: As language skills decline, many people at this stage speak nonsensically. They may make strange sounds, hum, or moan. Or they might cease to speak altogether. It’s likely by now that the person you’re caring for is quite socially withdrawn and has abandoned many previously enjoyed and familiar activities.

Everyday Life: Even relatively simple, necessary activities, such as eating and taking care of personal hygiene, require assistance. Both gross motor skills, (walking and sitting up) and fine motor skills (buttoning a shirt, holding a spoon) are affected. Falls and injuries are a risk as coordination and depth perception decline. Repetitive movements and actions are common. Someone at this stage spends a lot of time sleeping.

Personality: Because the changes have become so marked, he or she may seem nothing like his or her old self. Sometimes jolly people turn crotchety, while formerly stern people may become docile and benign. By the last stages of Alzheimer’s, many people express no emotions at all.

Other: Monitoring health, nutrition, and safety as well as general caretaking is now a round-the-clock task. He or she may lose significant weight (because eating is difficult) and acquire infections or fall ill easily (because of general weakness). People weakened by this final Alzheimer’s stage more often die from another health problem (pneumonia, secondary infection, cancer) than they do from Alzheimer’s itself.  

Telltale Signs it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

The decision to help an aging adult move out of a current home is a complex one both emotionally and practically. Above all, you want the person to be safe and well. There are many factors that can play into you’re feeling more confident about whether circumstances suggest your loved one should no longer be living alone.

Although every situation is different, reviewing the following signs listed below will give you valuable information in helping make a decision.

  • Big-Picture Signs

Keep the big red flags in mind. Certain situations make it more obvious that it’s wise to start thinking about alternate living arrangements.

Look for:

Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a fall, have a medical scare, or get in a fender bender (or worse)? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as people get older, the odds rise of them happening again.

A slow recovery. How did the person you’re caring for weather the most recent illness (for example, a flu or bad cold)? Was he or she able and willing to seek medical care when needed, or did last winter’s cold develop into untreated bronchitis?

A chronic health condition that’s worsening. Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or abruptly, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help.

Increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).  ADLs and IADLs are the skills needed to live independently dressing, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, managing medications, etc. Doctors, social workers, and other geriatric experts evaluate them as part of a functional assessment, which is one way to get an expert’s view of the situation. Difficulties with ADLs and IADLs can sometimes be remedied by bringing in more in-home help.

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  • Up-Close Signs

Give your loved one a big hug. Clues aren’t always visible from a distance…especially when you don’t see the person every day, you might learn more through touch.

Look for:

Noticeable weight loss. Does the person feel thinner? Does clothing look and feel looser? Many conditions, from depression to cancer, can cause weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting out to shop or remembering how to cook (or to eat) can lose weight. Also be sure to check the refrigerator and observe meal-prep skills.

Seemingly more frail. Do you sense anything “different” about the person’s strength and stature when you hug? Can your loved one rise easily from a chair? Does she or he seem unsteady or unable to balance? Compare these observations to the last time you were together.

Noticeable weight gain. Common causes include an injury slowing the person down, diabetes, and dementia (when someone doesn’t remember eating, he or she may indulge in meals and snacks all day long). Someone with money troubles may choose fewer fresh foods and more packaged goods or dried pasta and bread.

Strange body odor. Unfortunately, a close hug can also reveal changes in personal hygiene habits. Causes range from memory trouble to depression to other physical ailments.

Changes in appearance. Does the person’s hair and makeup look normal? Are their clothes clean? Someone known for crisply ironed shirts who’s now in a stained sweatshirt may lack the dexterity for buttons or may have lost the strength for managing an ironing board and iron. A formerly clean-shaven man with an unkempt beard may be forgetting to shave (or forgetting how to shave).

  • Social Signs

Think realistically about the person’s social connections. Social circles tend to shrink with age, which can have health and safety implications.

Look for:

Signs of active friendships. Does your loved one still get together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors, or participate in religious activities or other group events? Does he or she talk about others or keep a calendar of appointments? Lack of companionship is associated with depression and heart problems in older adults. If friends have died or move away, moving to a place where other people are around could be lifesaving.

Signs that your loved one has cut back on activities and interests. Is a hobby area abandoned? Has a club membership been given up? A library card gone unused? There are many reasons people cut back, but dropping out of everything and showing very little interest in previously frequent involvements, is a red flag for depression.

Days spent without leaving the house. This sometimes happens because the person can no longer drive or is afraid to take public transportation alone and lacks a companion to come along. While many older adults fear being “locked away” in a retirement home, many such facilities offer regular outings that may keep them more mobile and active, not less.

Someone who checks in on a regular basis. If not you or another family member, who does this? Is your loved one willing to consider a home-safety alarm system, a personal alarm system, or a daily calling service?

A plan for a worst-case scenario. If there’s a fire, flood, or some other major natural disaster, is someone on standby to assist? Does your loved one understand the plan?

  • Money Signs

Rifle through the mail. Your loved one’s mail can offer an often-overlooked clue to how he or she is managing money a common early warning sign of a cognitive trouble.

Look for:

Snowdrifts of mail in various places. Finding lots of mail scattered around raises concerns about how bills, insurance, and other matters are being managed. (Piles of mail are also a potential safety concern due to a tripping hazard).

Unopened personal mail. Everybody skips junk mail, but few of us can ignore a good old-fashioned, hand-addressed letter.

Unopened bills. This can indicate that your loved one is having difficulty managing finances one of the most common first signs of dementia.

Letters from banks, creditors, or insurers. Routine business letters aren’t worrisome. But it’s alarming if they’re referring to overdue payments, overdrawn balances, recent accidents, or other concerning events.

Thank-you messages from charities. Older adults are often vulnerable to scammers. Even those who have always been fiscally prudent are vulnerable if they’re having trouble with thinking skills (a common sign of Alzheimer’s disease). Some charities hit up givers over and over, and your loved one may not remember having donated the first time.

Lots of crisp, unread magazines. The person may unknowingly have repeat-renewal subscriptions that he or she doesn’t need.

  • Driving Signs

Take a drive with your loved one behind the wheel, if he or she is still driving. Often, the ability to drive is practically a requirement for living independently in our culture (or the arrangement of alternate transportation options).

Look for:

Nicks or dents on the car. Notice the car body as you get in or out. Damage marks can be signs of careless driving.

Whether the person promptly fastens his or her seat belt. Even people with mild dementia usually follow the basics of driving. It’s obviously worrisome if he or she is forgetting this step.

Tension, preoccupation, or being easily distracted. The person may turn off the radio, for example, or be unwilling to engage in conversation while driving. He or she may avoid certain routes, highway driving, or driving at night and in rain a safe kind of self-policing, but also signals of changing ability.

Warning lights. Check out the dashboard as you ride along. Does the car have sufficient oil, gas, antifreeze, windshield-wiper fluid?

  • Kitchen Signs

Go through the kitchen, from the refrigerator, to cupboards, to the oven. Because people spend so much time in this room, you can learn a lot.

Look for:

Stale or expired foods. We all buy more than we need. Look for signs that food is not only old but that is unnoticed. For example, mold, sour milk that’s still used, or expiration dates that are well past due.

Multiples of the same item. Ten bottles of ketchup? More cereal than can be eaten in a year. Multiples often reveal that the shopper can’t remember from one store trip to the next what’s in stock at home.

A freezer full of TV dinners. Your loved one may buy them for convenience sake, but frozen dinners tend not to make for a healthy diet. If there’s not much fresh food in the house (because it’s too hard for the person to procure or cook), your loved one might be ready to have help with meal prep or delivery services.

Broken appliances. Check them all: stove, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, toaster any device you know your loved one uses (or used to use) routinely.

Signs of fire. Are stove knobs charred? Pot bottoms badly singed? Do any potholders have burned edges? Also look for a discharged fire extinguisher, smoke detectors that have been disassembled, or boxes of baking soda near the stove. Accidents happen. Ask for the story behind what you see. Accidental fires are a common home danger for older adults.

Increase use of take-out for simpler cooking. A change in physical or mental abilities might explain a downshift to simpler recipes or food choices.

  • Around-the-House Signs

Look around the living areas. Sometime the most obvious sign is hard to see because we become so used to it.

Look for:

Lots of clutter. An inability to throw anything away may be a sign of a neurological or physical issue. Obviously, it’s more worrisome for a person who has been consistently neat vs. a chronic slob. Papers or pet toys strewn about the floor represent a definite tripping hazard.

Signs of lax housekeeping. Spills that haven’t been cleaned up are a common sign of dementia, meaning the person most likely is lacking the follow-through to be tidy. Keep an eye out for cobwebs, bathroom mold, thick dust, or other signs of slackness. Physical limitations can mean your loved one needs housekeeping help or a living situation where this is taken care of for him or her.

Bathroom grime and clutter. A common scenario: Your loved one makes an effort to tidy up living areas, but overlooks the bathroom. Or the guest bath is clean, but not the one the person uses all the time such as a master bathroom.

  • Pet Care and Plant Care Signs

Be sure to check out how other living things in the home are faring. An ability to take care of pets and plants goes along with self-care.

Look for:

Plants that are dying, dead, or have just disappeared. Most of us have seen plants go brown sometimes. Keep an eye out for chronic neglect especially in a former plant-lovers home.

Animals that don’t seem well attended to. Common problems include: dogs with long nails, cat litter boxes that haven’t been changed lately, or dead fish in the fish tank. Poor grooming, overfeeding, and underfeeding are other red flags.

  • Home Maintenance Signs

Walk around the yard. Yard maintenance…or lack of it…can yield clues that your loved one isn’t faring as well at home along anymore.

Look for:

Signs of neglect. Look for discolored siding or ceilings that might indicate a leak, gutters choked with leaves, broken windows or fences, dirty windows.

Newspapers in the bushes. Are papers being delivered but ignored? Sometimes people pick up those they see on a driveway or front steps, but not those that may land in the yard.

Mail piled up in the mailbox. Go out and check. Surplus mail is an indication that your loved one isn’t retrieving it regularly.

  • Get Help Looking for Signs

Get the input of others who know your loved one in order to collect a fuller picture of reality. Gently probing about what others think isn’t nosy, you’re simply being loving, concerned, and proactive.

Look for:

Input from those in your loved one’s circle of acquaintances. Talk to old friends and close relatives to get their sense of how the person is faring. Listen for stories that hint that the person doesn’t get out much. Comments such as, “She doesn’t come over anymore.” Or “She quit book club,” are potential red flags. Also pay attention to comments that indicate ongoing concerns, like “Has he had that heart test yet?” or “We were worried the day the ambulance came.”

Medical insight. With appropriate permission, your loved one’s primary doctor may share your concerns about his or her patient’s safety at home or they may be able to alleviate those concerns or suggest where to get a home assessment.

A second opinion. A social worker or professional geriatric care manager visits older adults’ homes and does informal evaluation. While your loved one may initially resist the notion of a “total stranger” checking on them, try pitching it as a professional (and neutral) second opinion, or…ask the doctor to “prescribe “ it. Some people wind up sharing doubts or vulnerabilities with a sympathetic, experienced stranger that they normally would by very reluctant to admit to their own adult children or family.

  • Caregivers’ Signs

Finally, realize that some of the information you collect is intangible it has to do with feelings and emotions, and the stress levels of everyone involved.

Look for:

How you’re doing. While the decision for your loved one to remain in his/her home is not primarily about you the son, daughter, grandchild, caregiver your own exhaustion can be a good gauge of a decline in older adults’ ability to care for themselves. Keeping someone at home can require lots of hands-on support or care coordination, and this is time-consuming. If your loved one’s need for care is just plain wearing you out, or…if a spouse or children are feeling the collective strain of your caregiving activities, these are major signs that it’s time to start looking at other options.

Your loved one’s emotional state. Safety is crucial, of course, but so is emotional well-being. If someone living alone is riddled with anxieties or increasingly lonely, then that may tip the scales toward a move not solely based on health and safety reasons. If your loved one has a full life, a close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving, it’s worth exploring as many in-home care options as possible before raising stress levels by pressing a move from a beloved home.

If on the other hand, your loved one is showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time for a talk. Broach the subject of where to live in a neutral way and you may find that your loved one harbors the same fears for current and future safety and security that you do. Find out what your loved one fears most about moving and about staying before launching into your own worries and what you think ought to be done.

Seniors Find Better Health & Happiness with Assisted Living

While many aging parents are wary of leaving their family home to move into assisted living, the truth is that a senior living community could be better than living at home when it comes to quality of life, social life, and overall wellness.

Adult children who notice that mom and dad are needing more care may question how to handle their parents’ changing health needs. Inevitably, the day comes to assess whether our parents need more than they have in their family home environment.

Benefits of Senior Living

Many seniors are resistant to assisted living, often stating that they don’t want to be put in a “home!” However, a little education about the wonderful senior living communities and options available today, in addition to touring communities like The Classic, can help families and their senior loved ones choose the best option for their unique situations.

In fact, research shows that aging parents and seniors prefer assisted living over other types of care, as these communities have expanded their market by providing fun convenience, retirement, and socialization services.

Better Health & Happiness Are a Way of Life in Assisted Living

Senior living is a great step for seniors who need more socialization and help with daily needs than the family can provide at home.

There are many types of senior living care. As an example, The Classic offers assisted living and independent living as well as memory care all on one campus. Each of these options can offer entertainment, fitness, and living arrangements for the stage parents may need.

Listed below are a few compelling reasons why Assisted Living at The Classic can contribute to better health and quality of life for a senior loved one.

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  • Chef-Prepared, Nutritious Meals

Assisted Living offers nutritious, chef-prepared cuisine that can be catered for specific medical conditions and needs. Residents are served three meals a day and can be tailored to their changing health needs.

  • Help With Daily Living

When a senior loved one lives at home, family caregivers are also generally responsible for helping with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and eating. In other cases, the family or the senior themselves must bear the cost of a home care aide. Both of these options can cause strain on the family. In contrast, one of the most basic benefits of assisted living is helping older adults with these ADLs so that they can continue to function as independently as possible.

  • Intellectual Stimulation

Offered at The Classic are many opportunities for learning, such as book clubs, cooking presentations, gardening, and more.

  • No Stress of Housekeeping and Transportation

Keeping up with appointments, daily chores, and housekeeping are often stressful for not only seniors, but also family members. The vast majority of these burdens are relieved for Assisted Living residents at The Classic as weekly housekeeping and transportation services through Abby Vans is offered.

  • Physical Activity and Fitness

The Classic offers regularly scheduled exercise sessions led by trained instructors as well as access to gym equipment in the Fitness Studio.

  • Safe Living Environment

Often, home modifications and in-home care are required for a safe living environment in the family home, which can be very costly. Assisted living is designed for accessibility and mobility, while offering expert care and medical attention if needed.

  • Social Activity

Living at home can be isolating. Seniors often find it difficult to maintain their social relationships when they are retired. Assisted living offers socialization through planned activities and outings, such as cultural events and field trips. Daily living in the common areas also offers fun and socialization for seniors.

Transitioning to Assisted Living

Don’t all the emotional and logistical challenges of finding senior living overwhelm you. Making the decision to move to an Assisted Living community is becoming much easier as families are increasingly learning more about the benefits and services offered at communities like The Classic.

Five Helpful Tips for Moving Your Senior Parent

Five Helpful Tips for Moving Your Senior Parent

Moving a senior parent can be a major challenge. Not only can emotions often be highly charged, but the complicated logistics of deciding how and when to conduct a move to senior living can add even more pressure to already difficult experience.

Here are five tips to give you and your senior parent peace of mind before, during, and after your move:

  • Deal with one room at a time.

Trying to facilitate an entire move at once can feel overwhelming, especially when that move involves possessions acquired over a lifetime. To make things easier, organize and pack one room at a time, starting with the smallest or least-used room. Taking care of that first room will give you and your parent a sense of completion and help you maintain optimism throughout the rest of your packing.

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  • Find capable moving help.

While family and friends are often willing to help load and unload, it’s often worth hiring help on moving day. College students are often happy to work a few hours for a fraction of the cost of a full-service moving company and their energy and strength can make everyone feel better about what will almost certainly be an emotionally difficult day.

  • Focus on the positive.

Transitions almost always come with some sadness. That’s okay. Give yourself and your parent a moment to pay respects to the life they’ve lived but consistently think about the possibilities of life going forward. Help your parent remember that it’s never too late to meet new people, start a new hobby, or learn a new skill. With some gentle persistence and a little imagination, moving can be an amazing new beginning for your parents and your family.

  • Get a head start.

It’s easy to underestimate the time it will take to prepare for the move. Beyond the time to actually gather supplies and pack, you need time with your parent to consider what to keep and what to let go. We recommend starting to organize your move at least six weeks before your moving day. Having plenty of time to make decisions really helps manage everyone’s emotions.

  • Let go what you can.

Letting go of possessions can be difficult, but reducing the number of things you have to pack will make moving day go so much more smoothly. Take time to help your parent decide which things they own that are no longer useful or don’t bring them joy. Donating to charities can bring a sense of moral purpose that makes letting go of things easier to do.