Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

Helping a Senior Loved One with Downsizing

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

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

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

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

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

Does Your Senior Loved One Need to Downsize?

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

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

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

When Clutter Gets Out of Control

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

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

Tips for Talking to Your Parents about Downsizing

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

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

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

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

Communicating With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimers

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

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

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

How to Communicate With Someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

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

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

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

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

Ways to Act Around Someone With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

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

Here are some tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Say to Say to Someone With Alzheimer’s

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

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

DO

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

DON’T

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

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

Remember to Be Patient

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

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

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

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

When Should You Move Your Parent to Memory Care?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things You Should Do and Things You Shouldn’t Do When Moving Your Loved One to Memory Care

Things You Should Do and Things You Shouldn’t Do When Moving Your Loved One to Memory Care

There are many different ways that families handle communicating with their loved one about a move to memory care. The most successful plan will be designed to meet your loved one’s needs. Some family members don’t tell the person they are going to move, knowing this could create undue anxiety. Other families are completely honest with their loved one about the need for “more care” and they have their loved one actively participate in their move. However you decide to handle the communication, make sure that all family members are on the same page and keep in mind the following guidelines:

DON’T keep reminding your loved one they are moving if it makes them anxious. You might try telling them once, in a matter of fact manner, to see how they process things. If it stresses them out to talk about a move, don’t keep bringing it up.

DO reassure the person that he/she will be getting more help. Because of their dementia, they may bring up the same concerns or fears over and over. Let the person voice their concerns, and be understanding in your replies. For example, “I can see why you’re worried about that. We’ll figure it out.”

DON’T pull your loved one into the details of the planning and packing process. Don’t ask them to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. With memory loss, decision making and any process with multiple steps will present challenges. If you don’t already know which objects or knick-knacks are most important to your loved one, spend time observing what things around their home they use and enjoy on a regular basis.

DO consider working with a move manager. A great example comes from a family who had one daughter take mom out for a morning of shopping followed by lunch, while the other daughter was assisting the move manager. The move manager set up the new apartment to look almost identical to the room in the old house where mom spent most of her time. When they brought mom into her new apartment, she knew something was different, but she felt very much at home right away.

DON’T overpack. Memory care apartments are small for a reason — large spaces with lots of “stuff” can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for people with memory loss. A smaller space with a manageable amount of items in it eases the mind. Again, pay attention to what your loved one actually uses throughout the day and bring just what he or she needs. If your loved one misses something, you can always bring it later. A person with dementia often picks something up, puts it down, and then forgets where it is. Save yourself the heartache of a missing wallet or priceless family heirloom by not bringing these types of items to the new memory care apartment.

DON’T get started too late in the day. Try to get the move done so that your loved one is settled in their new apartment by 2 or 3 p.m. at the latest. As the day progresses, we all get tired, but a person with dementia will not cope as well as the rest of us. Enlist more moving help if you need the extra hands to be finished by 2 p.m. — it will make the transition smoother.

DO remember that people usually adjust quite well to their new environment. Remember, though, that it could take around 2-4 weeks to adjust to their new community. Be reassured in knowing the staff in the memory care facility are there to help your loved one settle into a comfortable routine. Because the new environment (not only the apartment but also the programming and the structure of the day) is designed to fit the needs of a person with dementia care, you will start to notice your family member be more at ease than they were before the move. When your focus returns to your relationship with your loved one, rather than the details of day to day caregiving, you will also be more content, knowing you have made the right decision.

Siblings: Stop Fighting over Senior Care for Your Parents

Siblings: Stop Fighting over Senior Care for Your Parents

Does this family scenario sound familiar? An ever-helpful, younger sibling lives a short distance from her elderly parents and for quite a while now has been spending an increasing amount of time as caregiver for her mother and father. An older sister lives several states away and is for the most part a “non-participant” in her parents care — both physically and psychologically. The older sister often has feelings of guilt for being so removed from her family, but at the same time, neither her parents or her sister typically ask for any help. In the rare instances when the younger sister reaches out, it doesn’t take long for them to disagree on how a certain situation should be handled.

It can be difficult for families who have never gotten along to make decisions together, especially when there are multiple siblings with varying beliefs, caregiving styles, and personalities. A recent article in Forbes magazine, states that 61% of sibling caregivers feel they don’t get the support they need from their siblings. Watching our parents decline can make us more emotional, irrational, and volatile. And…there’s something else: it can often remind us that we’re next in line.

“When siblings squabble over who will care for mom or dad, or refuse to help one another with caregiving tasks, the problem often isn’t about the caregiving itself, but rather conflicts and power struggles that may have existed since childhood.”

What Siblings Disagree Over

Why the sibling strife? You name it!

Caregiving Arrangements
Live-in, live out, or family help? Should technology be utilized to remind parents to take their medications and alert you if they don’t? Who will dispense medications, interview caregivers, or oversee the whole process?

Disparities and Inequities

Is each sibling pulling his or her own weight (money, tasks, and/or time)? Is the hometown child, or daughter saddled with more responsibility and resentful of out-of-town siblings?

Family Possessions
Who gets what when a parent downsizes or moves or after a death?

Finances and Money
How should the money be spent? Will there be expenses over caregiving and who handles finances if mom or dad is no longer oversee things?

Independence and Safety
Who will think about asking the parent to give up those car keys if it becomes necessary? Who will ensure fall prevention, especially if the parent is living alone?

Living Arrangements
Should dad stay in the family home or is too isolating, unrealistic, or unsafe? If not, where should he go?

Medical Decisions
Who makes sensitive decisions when there are differences of opinion about the end of life or treatment?

Ways to Take Action to Avoid Conflict

To head off conflict down the road, it’s important, while the initial dialogue can be difficult, for siblings to try to have open conversation early on about their roles, even though their parents are still younger and/or healthier.

It’s quite typical for one sibling to handle emotional and lifestyle issues, while the other can be in charge of medical decisions. Financial decisions can go either way. Sometimes one sibling takes the lead for those concerns, while with other families, it’s a joint decision.

Use the following strategies if you’re trying to stop an ongoing struggle with siblings over senior care:

Be empathetic. Be understanding of your siblings’ circumstances, of your parents’, and of your own. It’s a stressful time for everyone.

Divvy up responsibilities according to each person’s strengths. Let them choose what they want to tackle, e.g. communicating with doctors, paying bills online, or researching housing options.

Don’t expect a miracle! If your sister was always selfish, she may not change. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to get her to pitch in.

Hold your tongue. How important is it if you and your brother don’t do everything the same way? Unless it’s a safety issue, button up!

Just ask! Have your parents participate in decision-making, or at least let them weigh in, if it’s realistic.

Keep everyone in the loop. There are now websites that let family members collect all the information in one place (from caregiving and medical to tasks that need to get done) and log in any time. Convene regular family conferences, preferably in person, or otherwise via conference calls, Facetime® or Skype®.

Spell out your needs. Maybe a sibling should know what you need, but maybe they have no clue. Perhaps they think you don’t want help.

Time Out! If an issue becomes contentious, take a break, calm yourself, then address the topic at another time. Apologize if it’s warranted.

Vent appropriately. Visit a caregiving forum or website, learn how others have handled tough situations. Call a friend. See a therapist or talk to clergy. Just know that there are professionals available to help families untangle issues relating to aging parents and help all parties make decisions.

How Does My Role as a Caregiver Change When My Loved One Moves to Assisted Living?

How Does My Role as a Caregiver Change  When My Loved One Moves to Assisted Living?

As an adult child who has possibly been involved in the primary care of a senior parent, your loved one’s move to an assisted living community will undoubtedly create a lifestyle change that not only affects your mother or father but you as well. You must now entrust the majority of their care to assisted living staff. The primary question most people placed in this scenario ask is, “will the facility provide the same level of care and love to my parent?”

Included in this article are tips on how you can avoid distance and distrust and take a more cooperative approach with your senior loved one’s assisted living staff.

Your assisted living staff will be better able to do their jobs if you and your parent bring them into the fold and treat them as active and welcome participants in your senior loved one’s care moving forward.

There are a number of reasons to take this approach:

In can increase your trust in the care your loved one is receiving.
It’s natural for family members to worry about the quality of care a senior will receive in a new assisted living community. The best way to put your fears to rest is to get to know the staff and regularly ask for updates.

It’s not uncommon for adult children to be worried that a move to assisted living can potentially have a negative impact on their loved one. More often than not, however, the exact opposite occurs. With days filled with various activities, a close watch on his/her medications, a proper and monitored diet, an assisted living environment typically allows individuals to thrive.

When you know your loved one is in good hands, you can let go of some of the stress and worry you feel about their care.

The assisted living staff will be a big part of you and your senior loved one’s lives.
For as long as your parent or senior loved one lives in assisted living, staff will become the main people in charge of helping them with activities of daily living (ADLs) like getting dressed and taking their medications.

They’ll also be some of the main social contacts your loved one has in between your visits and will become the familiar faces you see every time you’re there.

Your lives will be better if you stay on good terms with your loved one’s assisted living staff and make an effort to get to know them.

You have the knowledge they can use to provide more personalized care.
While you need assisted living staff to help with your senior loved one’s care, they also need you in order to do their jobs as well as possible. Taking the time to know one’s interest and life story has always been a key to helping carry out individualized care plans. Having open and frequent communications with family members and friends allows staff to get an inside look into the lives of our residents.

Your loved one’s care needs, personality, and preferences are all unique. The more you interact and openly communicate with assisted living staff, the better they’ll understand the person they’re taking care of and how to best treat them.

You need regular updates on anything that changes — and so do they.
As your parent or senior loved one ages, their needs inevitably change. You want to know sooner rather than later when that happens and you want to make sure that assisted living staff knows as well.

The best way for everyone involved in your loved one’s care to stay aware and on top of all changes is by keeping the lines of communication open. When you notice something different about their behavior when they’re home for a visit, make sure you let the staff know so they can make any needed changes to the care routine.

Also, regularly ask assisted living staff about any changes they notice so you can advise on how best to handle them and know to bring them up with the doctor if needed.

Ways to Create a Successful Senior Care Team

Knowing you should treat assisted living staff as part of the senior care team isn’t the same as actively doing so.

To successfully treat your loved one’s care as a team effort you can all contribute to, here are a few important tips:

Be respectful of them.
Working in an assisted living community is hard work. Be careful not to take out any of the difficult feelings you may have about your loved one’s condition on the staff. Communicate respectfully and always remember that you’re talking to people with an active interest in making sure your loved one stays as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Initiate regular contact.
Whether it’s through talking to them during frequent visits or making regular emails or phone calls, make sure you proactively communicate with assisted living staff. It gives you the chance to get to know them and shows them you’re interested in constant updates on your love one’s cares. Families should never be surprised about changes in their loved one’s condition. Regular communication keeps everyone in the loop and ensures you’re all on the same page about what your loved one needs and how to provide it.

Work together for better for better senior care.
As you already know, taking care of an aging senior is a lot of hard work, and it’s too often thankless work. You can make the lives of your loved one’s assisted care team easier and improve the quality of care your family member receives at the same time by actively embracing the people working with your loved one. Treat them like a part of the team and get to know them as human beings.

How to Handle Caregiver Guilt after Moving Parents into Senior Living

How to Handle Caregiver Guilt after Moving Parents into Senior Living

Family caregivers face a complicated mix of emotions while caring for parents and seniors loved ones —and the least useful of them all is guilt. In addition to taking away energy and time that you can’t afford, guilt can also keep you from making the best decision for your parents. In many instances, that decision involves handing a loved one’s care over to a skilled professional, rather than continuing to carry the full burden yourself.

For many caregivers, one of the biggest hurdles to making that decision is giving yourself permission to feel okay about it. Below is a list of reasons why moving parents into senior living may be best:

Assisted and senior living staff have a specific set of skills needed to care for your loved one.
Unless you’re a gerontologist or nurse by profession, you are not specifically trained in how best to care for an aging senior. The people who work in senior living know more about how to handle the various types of help seniors need than many loved ones do. While there are always ways you’ll know your parents better than a staff member, there are still skills they’re able to bring to the table that you don’t have.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, the care you provide will suffer.
Concern for your health isn’t just about you. If you’re sick or stressed out all the time, you’re not able to provide your loved ones with the level of care they need. To be there for your parents in the way they need, you need your health — both mental and physical.

Senior living communities can spread the care around so no one person is overwhelmed.
If you’ve been doing all the work of caregiving on your own, then by now you know well how unrealistic it is for one person to shoulder the entire burden. Balancing the responsibilities of your own life and being a full-time caregiver for your parents at the same time can be ultra-stressful. Senior living communities have a number of staff who work different shifts, so the work is spread around. That doesn’t mean they don’t still work very hard, but they’re able to keep the workload a little more manageable than one person trying to do everything.

Senior living communities provide more access to medical professionals.
Unless you’re a medical professional yourself, you won’t be as good at recognizing changes in your parents’ health or know how to address them as a licensed doctor or nurse will. Senior living communities typically have nurses on staff — meaning your parents will have regular access to someone with extensive medical knowledge.

Senior living communities provide resources and social activities one person can’t.
As seniors age, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay social and the lack of social opportunities can contribute to depression. While having you around is better than being isolated, one person can’t be someone’s whole social world. One of the big benefits that senior living communities provide is easy access to a larger social circle. Your parents can make new friends and easily see them every day, without the difficulty of traveling to meet them. Senior living communities also schedule regular activities, such as fitness classes, men’s and women’s book clubs, and cooking classes — all things that keep your parents active, without putting any more work on your plate.

Trying to do too much is bad for your health.
This is a very important point to acknowledge. Caregiving can take a real toll on your health. Trying to do too much work without enough rest can weaken your immune system and cause you to start facing more serious health issues. If caring for your parents requires helping move them in ways you find physically taxing, that can cause you injuries as well. What happens to you and your parents if you break a bone or pull a muscle trying to take care of them? You both suffer and they’re likely to end up in the care of professional anyway.

Ways to Minimize Your Feelings of Guilt

You may still struggle with guilt or feeling like a failure if you hand care over to someone else. It is a perfectly normal way to feel. There are, however, a few steps that you can take to help you work through those feelings:

Find the best possible senior living community.
Spend time researching senior living communities in your area so you get a feel for your options. Visit the ones that look like the best fit for your parents and spend time talking to the people that live and work there. If you know the home your parents move into has folks they’ll get along, as well as staff who are well-qualified to care for them, then you can move them there with more confidence you’re making the right decision.

Go to therapy.
If you still have lingering guilt that’s negatively affecting your life, consider finding a good therapist. Having someone you can talk to about your feelings will help you work through them. Trained therapists are also equipped with actionable strategies for dealing with guilt or other negative feelings.

Help them make their new residence their own.
An apartment in a senior living community will inevitably feel different than a home, but you can still find ways to make it more comfortable for your parents. Help them pick out decorations and family photographs or mementos that will make the space more theirs. Make it a project you do together. It gives you a way to spend time together during the transition and will have a lasting influence on their time in a senior living community.

Visit often.
Moving parents to senior living doesn’t mean you’ll stop seeing them all the time. You can visit as often as you want and you should! If the community is close to where you live, commit to coming by every week or more. If it’s a little further, commit to visits in person as often as you can manage and if possible utilize Skype or Face Time calls in the interim. Make sure your parents know the move won’t get in the way of your relationship with each other.

Taking care of parents is a big job and you simply might not be the best person for it. Finding the right senior living community to trust with the job will improve your and your parents’ lives.

How Assisted Living Communities Help Prevent Repeated Trips to the Emergency Room

How Assisted Living Communities Help Prevent Repeated Trips to the Emergency Room

Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take more trips to the emergency room. In fact, one recent study involving Medicare beneficiaries found that 60% emergency room visits were potentially preventable. This same study also found that 25% of hospital admissions were preventable.

Seniors go to the ER for a variety of reasons including upper respiratory infections and falls. Even though Medicare Part A and Part B will cover some of the expense, going into the emergency room still costs a lot of money. Many seniors with Medicare still pay a copay and 20% of the overall medical bill.

Assisted living communities provide services that help seniors avoid repeated trips to the emergency room. By choosing a community with the right services, your loved one could avoid the expense and discomfort of injuries that require emergency medical treatments.

Assisted Living Communities Are Designed to Prevent Falls

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four seniors has a fall each year. After the first time you fall, your chance of falling doubles. That puts seniors in jeopardy of:
• Injuring their heads
• Breaking their hips and other bones
• Getting traumatic brain injuries
When an older person falls, serious injuries can happen. Assisted living communities are designed to prevent falls that could hurt your loved one. Unlike most homes, assisted living facilities have equipment such as:
• Handrails in hallways and stairwells
• Grab bars in bathrooms
• Entrance ramps that make walking up an incline easier

Many communities also have on-site programs and sessions that focus on maintaining strength and balance. The more seniors train, the less likely they are to fall. Combining safety equipment with exercise classes can prevent the falls that often force seniors to visit the ER.

Detecting Illness Early Prevents Emergency Room Visits

Respiratory illnesses lead to a large percentage of emergency room visits. When older adults get colds, the flu, pneumonia, or other respiratory illnesses, they require immediate medical attention that can save their lives.

Unfortunately, many seniors try to dismiss early symptoms because they don’t want to go to the hospital. Their loved ones may also ignore symptoms until they become extreme.

Seniors at assisted living communities have regular contacts aides and nurses that know how to spot the early signs of illness. By noticing the signs of respiratory and other types of sicknesses, seniors can schedule appointments with their normal doctors instead of going to the ER. As a result, they get to save money, avoid severe symptoms, and improve their health by maintaining regular contact with their physicians.

Exercise Classes Can Delay Many Illnesses

Older adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. They also need to participate in muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

Many assisted living communities have exercise classes that help residents reach these goals. Classes may include chair yoga, walking, and gentle stretching.

By getting enough exercise, seniors can delay many of the illnesses that require ER visits. Aerobic activity, for instance lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Paired with nutritious meals, seniors can also avoid conditions like diabetes, which can lead to sudden symptoms that need immediate medical attention.

Proper Nutrition Keeps Seniors Healthy So They Can Avoid Illness

Everyone needs good nutrition to lead healthy lives. Eating a balanced diet, however, becomes even more important as people age.

An adequate diet for seniors needs to include ample amounts of:
• Calcium and vitamin D to improve bone health and prevent breaks
• Vitamin B12 that plays a role in cognition, energy, and preventing heart disease
• Potassium that helps regulate blood pressure

Without these and other nutrients, seniors become more susceptible to sudden changes in health. Assisted living communities provide the well-balanced meals to keep residents healthy. That way, they avoid long-term illnesses and trips to the ER.

Assisted Living Facilities Provide Around-the-Clock Observation

Many assisted living facilities give seniors the privacy that they need to live independently. Even though the residents get to enjoy their freedom, they always have access to the staff when they need help. In effect, this means that seniors benefit from around-the-clock observation that helps them avoid ER visits.

Having support from trained staff members helps seniors avoid potentially dangerous situations. For instance, a senior living alone at home might take the risk of climbing a step ladder to reach a high shelf. One wrong step could cause a serious injury. At an assisted living community, residents can ask staff members to help them with tasks instead of putting themselves in danger.

Around-the-clock observation also helps the staff and family members notice symptoms of illness as they progress. If a senior starts skipping meals, for instance, the staff will notice and check in on the person. Seniors that live alone don’t have other people to recognize behavioral changes. That often forces them to call an ambulance when small illnesses become significant.

Sometimes, seniors do indeed need to go to the emergency room. No amount of prevention can prevent every fall and sudden illness. You can, however, lower your loved one’s risk of needed emergency medical services by choosing a well-staffed assisted living community with the right services.

Why Assisted Living Has Become a Better Option for Seniors

Why Assisted Living Has Become a Better Option for Seniors

As baby boomers continue to retire in record numbers, an ever-increasing group of adult children are facing the question of how to handle their parents changing health needs. Many also face an even more urgent request from their parents… “please don’t put me in a home!” The problem is when mom and dad start to need more daily care, it can put pressure on caregivers and strain relationships in the family.

It continues to become increasingly important for adult children to consider how assisted living could be a much better option than living at home when it comes to social life for seniors — especially for their overall quality of life and wellness.

Seniors in Assisted Living vs. Home Care

In a residential community, where there is 24-hour access to personal care, as well as nutrition and wellness services designed specifically for older adults, seniors can enjoy social contact, security, and support while still maintaining their independence.

Assisted living is a great intermediate step for seniors who need more help than the family can provide at home, but who don’t the need round-the-clock medical care of a nursing facility. Listed below are eight compelling reasons to consider assisted living for the health and quality of life of your parents or senior loved ones.

A safe living environment.
For seniors to remain living safely at home, a wide range of home modifications might be needed if their physical health begins to decline — such as shower railings and medial alert systems, just to name a couple — and the expenses can quickly add up. Assisted living facilities like The Classic at Hillcrest Greens are designed for mobility and accessibility, helping seniors avoid falls and accidents and providing rapid access to assistance.

Access to fitness and physical activity.
With access to various gym equipment, group exercises classes, led by trained fitness personnel well-versed in the needs of older adults, assisted living communities offer opportunities for physical fitness that go far beyond what family caregivers can easily provide at home.

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

Housekeeping and transportation.
Keeping the house clean, getting to appointments and social engagements, making sure any medications are being taken properly…these are the typical day-to-day responsibilities that often fall on caregivers when a senior parent is living at home, whether they live alone or with the family. The vast majority of these burdens are relieved when older adults reside in assisted living, as the community generally includes upkeep and housekeeping in the monthly rent cost, and many facilities also offer transportation services. As an example, The Classic is contracted locally with Abby Vans for providing transportation to appointments, etc.

Independence.
Being able to maintain one’s independence is rewarding in and of itself — and sometimes that requires accepting a bit of help now and then. Assisted living helps seniors care for themselves while also offering access to an active and rewarding lifestyle. At the same time, when families no longer bear sole responsibility for meeting all of their loved one’s needs, it can reduce everyone’s stress level and even improve family relationships. The time that adult children spend with their senior parents can then become truly meaningful quality time.

Intellectual stimulation.
Activities at assisted living communities can be cultural, social, and spiritual. Many facilities offer guest lectures from visiting scholars and professionals. If a community is located near a college or university, residents can often take advantage of campus resources, including courses and cultural events.

Opportunities for social activity.
Living at home can be isolating, particularly if a senior resides alone. It can be difficult for the elderly to maintain their social relationships when they are no longer working. In an assisted living setting, residents can easily socialize with peers while participating in any number of structured or non-structured activities.

Supervised nutrition.
It can be very difficult to supervise senior nutrition at home. Seniors living alone may find it unappealing to cook for one, and it’s challenging for family caregivers to monitor whether their loved ones are receiving the necessary nutrients. In assisted living, residents are served three meals a day tailored to the changing health needs of older adults.

Seniors Biggest Fears About Senior Living

Seniors Biggest Fears About Senior Living

If society is to be believed, senior living is where you go when you have no one else to care for you, and is an unavoidable fate when you can’t take care of yourself any more. The truth is, the vast majority of our fears of senior living are inaccurate.

In recent years, baby boomers have reinvented what senior living really means. There is a wide range of state-of-the-art senior housing, from assisted living for those who need day-to-day help, to independent living for more active adults. These options all aim to provide seniors with a lifestyle tailored to their individual interests and needs, while also offering the necessary care to remain mentally, physically, and socially healthy.

Have you found your aging parent to have major anxiety about moving into senior living? To follow is a list of biggest fears along with some advice that may help you address his/her misconceptions or concerns:

“I’ll be bored.”
With the activities and amenities offered by today’s senior living communities, there’s pretty much no excuse to be bored. Today’s senior housing market offers everything from field trips and outdoor excursions to fitness and personal enrichment classes.

“I’ll drain all my finances.”
Yes, senior living can seem financially daunting, but if you’re already thinking about how to afford the care, you’re ahead of the game. With savvy financial planning, and maybe a little help from Social Security or VA benefits, senior living can sometimes come out to be the same cost as living at home.

“I’m afraid I won’t receive the best care for me.”
There’s far, far more to senior living than the stereotype of adult children dropping off their elderly parents with random strangers. When it’s time to move to senior living, the process of decision-making is one that should involve the entire family, and your older loved one should be just as comfortable with their new home as you are moving them there. Good senior living communities are staffed by professionals who are experts in senior care and can offer more advanced care if it’s called for.

“I will get old and sicker faster.”
Whether you’re old or young, it’s being alone or isolated that leads to anxiety and depression, while the social contact a senior community provides is key to better health and quality of life. If a senior loved one is already ill — with Alzheimer’s disease, for example — memory care offers daily stimulation, planned activities and customized care, all of which can actually slow down the progress of an illness or even improve health and behavior.

“I will lose my independence.”
While some seniors fear that senior living is equal to a loss of independence, the truth is in fact much the opposite. If you choose assisted living, you’ll have help with cleaning, cooking, and other chores that only become more onerous over time. What senior living offers is greater freedom with the precious time you do have. To make that time happy and rewarding, communities provide ample opportunity for social activities on-site as well as transportation around the area when you need it.

“I won’t be able to control my daily activities or life.”
Moving to a new residence, letting go of long-held habits of daily life — these are often realities of getting older, but they can be difficult and require major adjustment. Take your loved one’s concerns seriously and don’t minimize their feelings. The fact is, assisted living can be a necessary and freeing step for both seniors and their families. If it is already too difficult for a senior to care for herself independently, or for caregivers to provide the necessary help, then assisted living may be a good option. The emphasis is on safety and security, but also independence and privacy, enabling each resident to have the care they need without compromising individual dignity.

“People will forget about me.”
It’s natural to worry about being alone, especially if you define yourself by those relationships you value. However, moving into senior living doesn’t mean you’ll lose those relationships. In fact, you just might value them even more. At the same time, a senior community provides new venues for social contact, not to mention onsite help when there’s an emergency.