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Checklist: Questions to ask an assisted living community

Checklist: Questions to ask an assisted living community

Here are some things to ask and contemplate when choosing an assisted living community. Make sure you take your time, ask many detailed questions and if possible, try to bring a trusted friend or family member with you during a visit or consultation.

Cost and contracts

Services and needs

Community layout and maintenance



Checklist: Questions to ask an assisted living community. Care.com. Retrieved from https://www.care.com/c/questions-ask-assisted-living-facility/.

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The Advantages of Independent Living Communities for Family Caregivers

The Advantages of Independent Living Communities for Family Caregivers

As the population continues to age, the need for senior living communities is becoming increasingly important. According to Zippia, 1.25 million Americans lived in senior communities in 2020, with that number expected to triple by 2050. 

These communities offer a range of benefits for seniors, including access to healthcare, socialization opportunities, and other assistance. It’s not just seniors with medical needs who live in such communities. Active seniors can find company and programming that will fill their days while housekeeping, laundry, cooking and more are taken care of.

Senior care communities give peace of mind and significant benefits to family caregivers, too. While active seniors don’t need as much care, family members can be burdened by their growing needs as their loved one ages. If they’re already in a senior Independent Living community, a senior’s needs can be met by a caring, experienced staff.

Why Seniors and Their Caregivers Should Consider Independent Living

Caring for senior family members is a growing trend. About 39 million Americans served as an unpaid caregiver for someone 50 or older in 2020, according to MSD Manuals. This is also a time-consuming activity. On average, this caregiving averages about 24 hours per week, and that tally goes over 40 hours about 20% of the time for those caring for seniors with greater needs.

Add financial expenses, stress, fatigue and more, and it’s apparent that being available for even healthy, active seniors can be difficult. This is why seniors and their families should discuss the reasons for moving into an Independent Living community.

Find out some of the benefits of Independent Living communities for active seniors and their family caregivers. 

12 Ways Independent Living Helps Seniors and Families

1. Access to Resources

Senior living communities often have a range of resources available to seniors and their families, such as support groups, educational programs, and community events. These resources can be invaluable for family caregivers who may be struggling with the emotional and practical challenges of caregiving.

2. Better Communication

Caregiving can sometimes lead to strained relationships and communication breakdowns between seniors and their family caregivers. Senior living communities can facilitate improved communication between family members and provide a neutral environment where conflicts can be resolved more effectively.

3. Enhanced Health and Wellness

Many Independent Living communities offer a range of health and wellness programs, such as exercise classes and health screenings. This can help seniors to stay active and engaged, as well as maintain their physical and mental health.

4. Greater Independence

Communities allow seniors to maintain a greater degree of independence and autonomy, which can be beneficial for both seniors and their family caregivers. Seniors may feel more fulfilled and empowered, while family caregivers may feel less burdened by their responsibilities.

5. Help with Transitions

Senior living communities can provide support for seniors during transitional periods, such as after a hospitalization or following a move to a new location. Family caregivers can rest assured that their loved ones are receiving the care and support they need during these challenging times.

6. Increased Social Interaction

Independent Living communities give seniors the opportunity to interact with other seniors and participate in social activities and events. This can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which are common among seniors who live alone.

7. Less Stress

Family caregivers often face significant stress and burden while caring for their loved ones. They may have to balance caregiving responsibilities with work and other personal commitments, which can be overwhelming. Senior living communities offer a respite from these responsibilities, allowing family caregivers to focus on their own needs and well-being.

8. Lower Financial Burden

The cost of caregiving can be significant, especially if a family caregiver has to take time off work or hire a professional caregiver. Senior living communities may offer cost-effective solutions that can reduce the financial burden of caregiving, allowing family caregivers to allocate their resources towards other expenses.

9. Peace of Mind

Family caregivers often worry about their loved ones’ safety and well-being when they are not around. Senior living communities provide 24/7 care and supervision, ensuring that seniors are safe and well-cared for at all times. This can provide family caregivers with peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones are in good hands.

10. Round-the-Clock Care

Senior living communities have trained professionals who can provide round-the-clock care and support to seniors, which can be a growing need even for active seniors as they age. Family caregivers can rest assured that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care from trained professionals who are equipped to manage any health or medical issues.

11. Reduced Caregiving Responsibilities

Independent Living communities provide a range of services and amenities that can help to reduce the caregiving responsibilities of family members. This can include assistance with housekeeping, meal preparation, medication management, and transportation, among others.

12. Support for Caregivers

Senior living communities offer a built-in support network for both seniors and their families. Family caregivers can connect with others who are going through similar experiences, and seniors can form friendships and social connections with their peers. These social connections can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness for both seniors and their caregivers.


The Advantages of Independent Living Communities for Family Caregivers. Senior Lifestyle. Retrieved from https://www.seniorlifestyle.com/resources/blog/independent-living-family-caregivers/.

Staying Fit With Age-Related Pain: Top 5 Tips for Older Adults

Staying Fit With Age-Related Pain: Top 5 Tips for Older Adults

Chances are, you’ve heard someone say use it or lose it—a timeless phrase that broadly applies to many things in life: The milk in your refrigerator. Money in a flexible spending account. Your brain. Your physical fitness.

Speaking of physical fitness: Because these four words are so often associated with staying in shape, you also likely know how much fitness matters—and that it doesn’t just happen on its own. In order to keep your heart, lungs, muscles, and bones functioning well, you need to exercise them nearly every day. Otherwise, like the milk you forgot about in the back of the fridge, they can deteriorate over time.

“The evidence is clear: getting enough exercise, and the right kinds of exercise, can keep you stronger and healthier as you age,” said Susan Stiles, PhD, Senior Director of Healthy Aging at NCOA. “But if you live with osteoarthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain, exercise isn’t simply a matter of rallying yourself off the couch and signing up for a fitness class.”

In other words, mind over matter doesn’t work when your knees hurt, your hips ache, or your back is stiff.

The benefits of staying fit with age-related pain

Still, Stiles cautioned, you shouldn’t use pain as a free pass to avoid exercising altogether.

Leia Rispoli, M.D., a double-board-certified interventional pain management specialist and physiatrist, agrees.

“From a physical perspective, enjoying an appropriate exercise routine is beneficial in so many different ways, especially as we age,” Dr. Rispoli explained. “As long as the exercise isn’t posing an excessive risk of injury, it can provide cardiovascular maintenance, good musculoskeletal and bone health, and in some respects, provide injury prevention.”

Even if your mobility is limited by degenerative joint disease—or if you haven’t exercised in a while for other reasons—you can safely rebuild a conditioning routine.

Why you should create a conditioning exercise routine

1. To maintain your independence

It’s easy to take the activities of daily living for granted. That’s why it’s important to understand that many of them depend on having enough strength, flexibility, and balance to do them safely, and for many years. Lifting a bag of groceries, getting into and out of the car, mowing the lawn, walking the dog, and opening a jar of pickles each requires mobility and coordination. When it comes to living in your own home on your own terms, the time you devote to exercise is time well spent.

Exercise is important for several reasons, says Andrew Walker, director of Health and Well-Being for the National Senior Games Association.

“It’s important to maintain mobility for activities of daily living and basic functional movements,” Walker said. “Aging does not have to be equivalent to complete loss of function. All forms of movement decrease the speed in which we lose function and extend our time of healthy living and quality of life.”

2. To boost your longevity

Research conducted by Harvard University suggests that humans are meant to be more active with age, not less. While the biological reasons behind this are complex, the investigators’ conclusions are simple: “physical activity later in life shifts energy away from processes that can compromise health and toward mechanisms in the body that extend it.” In other words, exercise helps the body repair itself. It also lowers the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and more.

3. To reduce your pain

When something hurts in your body, the very idea of exercise can seem overwhelming—or impossible. But inactivity can quickly lead to a cycle of more pain, lost physical function, and decreased motivation to get and stay moving. Safe and appropriate exercise can help address some of the underlying causes of pain, including excess body weight, strength imbalances, and poor alignment. Exercise also positively affects some neurotransmitters and receptors involved in the pain response.

But exercise doesn’t stop at pain, according to Walker. “Recent research shows that exercise and movement reduce dementia and the impact of Parkinson’s disease,” he said. “Most leading health promotion and well-being organizations agree that each week adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity is recommended.”

How to stay fit with age-related pain

“It is absolutely possible,” explained NCOA’s Stiles, “even if you live with chronic conditions that cause you pain. And it’s never too late to start an exercise program.”

“I actually find that my most active patients tend to be in the least amount of pain or at least have the best ability to manage their pain,” Dr. Rispoli added. “Most age-related pain is caused by wear and tear. Although we can’t reverse the aging process, we can definitely help preserve and protect what’s left, or even slow degeneration progression by keeping strong supportive muscles, and keeping an appropriate, healthy weight. Stronger muscles and weight management are two basic and yet key factors that reduce stress on joints and bones, and can definitely help with many age-related pains.”

5 steps to get stronger and healthier as you age

1. Talk to your doctor

Regardless of whether or not you currently experience any pain, be sure to check with your primary health care provider before beginning a fitness program (or adding to an existing one). “I would ask my doctor for a referral to a physical therapist for a fitness assessment,” Walker said. “(There’s also a) Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) tab (on NSGA.com where) you will find sections that address all the key aspects of fitness for sport or health.”

Consulting a physical therapist for expert advice on the types of exercises that are best for you isn’t a bad idea. Physical therapists help patients to better manage pain, and support recovery from injury. They also have the skills to educate and empower patients to prevent injury and manage or prevent chronic disease. Physical therapists can also help you improve your balance. This can include creating a program for you to improve your strength, balance, and reaction time.

2. Start slowly

It’s always a good idea to ease into physical activity, especially if you’ve been away from it for a while. And avoid “pushing through the pain,” which is a popular form of exercise advice that’s poorly informed, said Stiles. If you have osteoarthritis, avoid exercises that strain your joints, and try to stay away from specific areas that hurt.

3. Find your motivation

When you’re busy, tired, or achy, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. Whether you schedule a regular “workout date” with a friend, set specific goals and reward yourself for meeting them, or resolve to try one new activity each week or month, t’s easier to prioritize exercise when you’re motivated.

4. Try what works

Finding activities you enjoy will help you stick with them, Stiles says. It may take a little trial and error, but the time investment is well worth it. For well-rounded fitness, be sure to get a combination of these three types of exercises:

  • Strength: Weight training helps keep your bones strong and your muscles healthy. If you don’t have access to a gym, or don’t own dumbbells, don’t worry: bodyweight exercises and resistance bands are a great alternative. Try searching “online workouts” for suggestions and guidance.
  • Flexibility: Keeping your muscles flexible leads to better balance, posture, and overall physical functioning: all of which are important to maintaining independence as you age. It reduces your risk of falls and fall-related injury, eases joint pain, and helps you better perform daily activities. Try gentle yoga or tai chi to get started.
  • Endurance: It’s important to strengthen your heart and lungs, too: not only does it help prevent cardiovascular disease, but endurance exercises may help reduce pain and stiffness if you have degenerative joint disease like osteoarthritis.3 Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike are great options.
5. Rest

Recovery time is just as important to your fitness as active exercise. Resting helps your body repair itself and prevents injury and pain from overuse. Limit weight training to every second or third day, and always listen to your body. Being a little tired and sore is normal, but if something truly hurts, stop. Ask your doctor before resuming your routine.

The bottom line

No matter what decade of life you’re in, exercise can slow the aging process—and it’s never too late to start. Even if you live with rheumatoid or degenerative arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other conditions that lead to chronic pain, staying fit is possible with the right modifications and advice from your health care professional.

“I think the overall, overarching advice is to go slow, not treat your body like you were 25, but—instead—really pay attention to things that hurt. If your body’s telling you that something is bothering you, really listen,” said Dr. Rispoli. “That said, there’s a tendency for people to become more sedentary [as they age] and feel more limited and down. Exercise not only has the power to bring people together, but it also keeps us moving when we need it most.”


Staying Fit With Age-Related Pain: Top 5 Tips for Older Adults. National Council on Aging (NCOA). Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/article/staying-fit-with-age-related-pain-top-5-tips-for-older-adults.

What is Memory Care?

What is Memory Care?

When your aging loved one reaches the stage that caring for them at home no longer seems sustainable, you’ll find many different categories of senior living options. Trying to figure out which one is the right choice for your loved one can be challenging, so it helps to understand just what to expect of each type of senior care facility available.

Memory care is one of the most specialized types of senior living facilities you’ll find. With nearly 44 million seniors currently living with Alzheimer’s, many assisted living homes and nursing homes have branched into providing the specialized care required for patients with memory problems.

As any caregiver with experience taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia knows, many of the needs and challenges that arise are distinct. Memory care takes all those unique needs into account.

What Makes Memory Care Different?

As with other types of assisted living facilities, memory care homes will offer the same assistance with the daily tasks of life, such as providing meals, dispensing medications, and helping seniors get dressed and bathed each day. Where they differ is in providing additional services and care particular to the needs of patients with memory issues.

Staff members are specially trained.

Staff members at a memory care facility are trained in what to expect from patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and know the particular types of care they need. They’ll provide all those same assisted living services that staff at other facilities do, but will do it with the special concerns and challenges of the illness your loved one has top of mind.

More stringent security measures are put in place.

Alzheimer’s patients are prone to wandering. If they’re able to, they’ll walk right out the door and keep walking – endlessly looking for a place in their memory they may or may not ever find. Memory care facilities are therefore designed to make leaving difficult (except for those with permission to come and go (like you and other family members interested in visiting). Often the doors to leave will require a code or you’ll need to be let out by a staff member.

Activities are planned with the needs of memory care patients in mind.

The activities that a memory care facility plans for their patients will be designed to keep them calm, avoid confusion, and wherever possible, help them remember old hobbies and interests that keep them connected to the life and identity they struggle to remember.

How Do I Know if Memory Care is Right for My Loved One?

If you’re not sure yet whether your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, but you’re starting to expect that it’s a possibility, take a look at the most common Alzheimer’s symptoms to look out for. It never hurts to bring up your concerns with a trusted doctor to see what they have to say.

If your loved one already has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, then you should consider seeking out a memory care facility specifically. If they’re not showing serious symptoms yet and you feel they could still live comfortably in an independent living or assisted care facility, that could still be an option at this point. But you want to consider now whether moving them in a year or two will be a stressful or confusing enough experience that it’s better to choose the facility now that they’re likely to need within a couple of years.

How Do I Find the Right Memory Care Facility?

Do a search to find what memory care homes are located close to you. Once you’ve identified your closest options:

  • Research what they offer – find out what services and amenities are available and consider if they cover your loved one’s needs (and wants).
  • Read the reviews – what other people say about their experiences will give you a good idea of what to expect.
  • Check the cost – memory care can get expensive – you have to weigh what you want for your loved one against what your family can afford. Check to see if the facilities you’re considering take Medicare or your insurance, as that can make a big difference in your out-of-pocket costs.
  • Visit in person – once you’ve narrowed down your options, pay each home a visit to see how you like it. Ask lots of questions to get a better idea of what they offer, how the home is run, and whether it’s right for your loved one’s care.

Moving your loved one into a senior care facility is never easy, but in many cases it’s the best choice for both you and them. Making sure you find the home that’s the best fit for their needs can make the transition much easier on everyone.  

References: Hicks, Kristen. (2015, September). What is Memory Care. SeniorAdvisor.com. Retrieved from https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2015/09/what-is-memory-care/.

Is It Time To Get Your Parents (Or You) Some Help?

Is It Time To Get Your Parents (Or You) Some Help?

Knowing when to ask for help can be surprisingly tough for family caregivers. That’s because all of us like to see ourselves as capable, and most of us adapt pretty quickly to less-than-ideal situations so we think we’re doing fine even when we’re not.

Fortunately, there are some clear signs that it’s time to get help for your folks and for yourself. Some are “yellow flags” that your parents may need a checkup or extra help from time to time. Some are hard indicators that your folks need full-time care. Others are signs that you need a helping hand to maintain your own health:

When Your Parents May Need Help

If you’re wondering if your folks are doing okay at home, watch for changes in their behavior, household and social life. These changes don’t have to dramatic. Small deviations from the way your parents have always done things are the first flags letting you know they may need help. Here are some examples.

  1. Changes in your parent’s housekeeping.

If your parent used to keep a neat home, but now you notice layers of dust, grubby floors or unwashed laundry piling up, something has changed. Mobility issues can cause anyone to slack off their chores. So can cognitive decline and depression. Vision changes can cause older adults to miss the expiration dates on food packages or new infestations of small pests like ants and pantry moths.

Possible solutions: You parent may need a checkup, extra help from family caregivers, mobility aids, new glasses, weekly visits from a house cleaner or other help.

  1. Changes in your Dad’s or Mom’s eating habits.

Most of us would rather not cook an elaborate dinner for one, but sometimes making even a simple healthy meal can be a challenge. If your parents are losing weight or leaving their food uneaten, try to find out why. Again, depression, mobility issues or vision changes can cause your parents to go for what’s easy instead of what’s healthy — or forget to eat altogether. Illnesses and medications can affect appetite, too, so try to get your folks to the doctor if you notice they’re not eating well.

Possible solutions: Your parents may need a grocery or prepared meal delivery, medical checkup or weekly homemaking help to plan menus, prepare or shop for meals. If your parents have a limited income and no one nearby to help with meals, contact the local Area Agency on Aging and Meals on Wheels to find out what services are available.

  1. Changes in your parents’ pets.

Pets can be a good indicator of how your folks are doing. If Fido’s coat and nails are now going ungroomed or the litterbox is consistently overdue for a cleanout, mobility or mood may be the cause.

Possible solutions: Help your parents keep track of their pet’s vet needs through an app like PetDesk, hire a pet-sitter to help with cleanup and walks, or arrange for regular doggie daycare for grooming and playtime.

  1. Changes in your parents’ social lives.

One of the hardest things about aging in place is maintaining a network of friends as everyone grows older. One of my great-aunts, in her early 90s, told me she was bored living at home in her small seaside town because she’d “outlived everyone I knew here.” For her, moving into assisted living was the boost she needed to recover her extroverted, upbeat outlook and make new friends. If your parents have gone from weekly church attendance and lunches with friends to sitting at home, the cause could be physical, emotional, cognitive, trouble driving—or a dwindling social network.

Possible solutions: Your folks may need new social opportunities. Many cities have senior centers where older adults go to enjoy movies, board games, fitness classes, and civic and political discussions. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at dozens of colleges around the US offer weekly lectures and seminars for students over 50 for a yearly fee. And every state has free or discounted college course options for older adults.

  1. Changes in your parents’ driving habits.

Driving is a lifeline for most suburban and rural residents, and giving it up can be traumatic unless you help them make alternate transportation plans. We have an entire post on knowing when it’s time for your folks to stop driving, how to get them to agree and how to help them stay active without a car.

  1. Unopened mail.

Stacks of unopened mail are a bigger warning than they might seem. Often, unopened mail means unpaid bills, which can mean a financial mess that needs sorting out. If your parents have friends and relatives who still practice the fine art of letter writing, unopened personal mail can be a sign of cognitive problems or depression. Learn more signs that your parents may need help with their finances.

Possible solutions: Help your folks go paperless and automate their bill payments, offer to help them sort out any problems with late payments and see if they need help reading letters or writing replies.

When Your Parent Definitely Needs Help

If the changes above are yellow flags that your folks might need a hand, these next things are red flags that indicate your folks need help right away to keep them and the people around them safe.

When these situations arise it’s time to talk to your parents, their caregivers and doctor to decide if the solution is more extensive help at home or a move to a senior community:

  1. Aggressive or violent behavior.

This type of behavior toward caregivers, family members, friends or neighbors is a sign that the caregiving situation needs to change, for everyone’s safety.

  1. Falls.

Falls are also a danger sign, especially if they’re happening often, if you suspect your parent is concealing them from you, or if he or she lives alone or in a house with stairs or on a steep lot.

  1. Fires.

If your folks are accidentally starting cooking or electrical fires, it’s time for round-the-clock supervision to prevent a tragedy.

  1. Forgetting medication often or taking it incorrectly.

Forgetting medication or not taking medication correctly can lead to falls, hospitalizations or overdoses.

  1. Wandering.

Seniors who wander need round-the-clock supervision to stay safe.

These scenarios can indicate issues like advancing dementia, medication problems or undiagnosed infections (UTIs are notorious for sparking odd behavior in older adults), which is why it’s important to get your folks to their doctor and have a conversation about what to do next.

When You’re Experiencing Caregiver Burnout

Sometimes it may feel like your folks are fine, it’s just that you can’t keep up with everything they need. It can be tempting to try to take on all the caregiving responsibilities yourself or to assume that you can’t delegate any of them, but that’s not always the most effective approach.

These are signs that it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to bring in help from family members, friends or paid helpers:

  1. Caregiver illness.

Even the most capable caregivers can catch the flu or sprain an ankle. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a backup caregiver you can call on short notice. Line up a couple of other family members, good friends or a home health agency ahead of time so you won’t have to worry about your folks when you need a few days to recuperate. Learn more about respite care options.

  1. Lack of certain skills.

At some point, you may need to know how to change the dressing on a wound, check for signs of infection, give insulin injections or take blood pressure accurately. Ask your parent’s doctor, nurse or a hired home health aide to show you what you need to know. If you can, ask them to watch you practice so you’ll have more confidence that you’re doing it right. You can also explore these other resources for caregiver training.

  1. Not enough time.

Try as you might, you really can’t be two (or more) places at the same time and most of us could use a couple extra hours in each day. If you feel like you’re having to choose between caring for your children or parents, it’s time get others to pitch in by cooking meals, running errands or tackling other caregiving chores.

Remember, caregiver burnout is a serious health condition that happens when caregivers don’t have enough support, training or time for self-care. Caregiver burnout can lead to anxiety, depression and poor health, and in some cases, to self-harm. Signs that you have burnout and need help right away include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Avoiding family and friends
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Loss of interest in things you used to like to do
  • More frequent illnesses
  • Problems remembering things and concentrating
  • Sleep problems and exhaustion
  • The desire to hurt yourself or your parent
  • Use of alcohol, illicit drugs or pills

If you ever think you’re at risk of acting out — toward yourself or your parent — get help right away, either by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 to talk to a counselor, calling 911 to ask for a mental health officer, or calling a friend to take you to the nearest emergency room.

If you feel the other symptoms of caregiver burnout, it’s time to ask for more help from your family and friends. It’s also time to make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your stress level, schedule and what you can do to protect your health. You can also call 211 to ask about eldercare and family programs in your area.

Caregiver burnout symptoms are also your cue to take a look at your diet, exercise and stress-management habits.

Are you able to make time to eat healthy meals, get some exercise each day and have at least a few minutes to yourself? If not, it may be time to get in-home respite care or to look into adult day programs to give your parents good care while you take care of yourself.

It’s not always easy to know when to ask for help for yourself and your parents, but in general, it’s wise to err on the side of caution. Explore the care programs in your area and remember that your friends and family may be happy to help if you’ll let them know what you need.

References: Kelly-Barton, C. (2018, March 20). Time to Get Your Parents Some Help? SeniorAdvisor.com. Retrieved from https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2018/03/time-to-get-your-parents-some-help/

The Assisted Living Affect

The Assisted Living Effect

The Assisted Living Effect:

Better Health and Happiness

Many seniors resist assisted living by stating that they “don’t want to be in a home,” but often, education about the many assisted living options available today, in addition to touring the communities, can help families and their elderly loved ones choose the best option for their unique situations.

In fact, research has shown that assisted living often trumps living alone as communities have expanded their market by providing fun dining, retirement, socialization and other services.

The Assisted Living Effect:

Improved Health and Happiness

As we age, our living situations change. Assisted living is a great option for seniors who need more help with activities of daily living (ADLs) than the family can provide at home and for seniors who need more socialization.

Other reasons to consider moving into assisted living to improve the health and quality of life of your loved one include:

  1. Chef-prepared nutritious meals.

Senior nutrition is a big problem as many seniors are malnourished these days. Assisted living offers nutritious, often chef-prepared cuisine catered for specific medical conditions and elderly needs. Residents are served three meals a day tailored to the changing health needs of seniors and some luxury communities even offer luxury dining.

  1. Help with activities of daily living.

Family caregivers are also generally responsible for helping with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and eating when a senior loved one 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 tenets of assisted living is helping older adults with these ADLs so that they can continue to function as independently as possible.

  1. Intellectual stimulation.

Communities offer many opportunities for learning, such as computer classes, book clubs, art classes, gardening and more. Some communities are even located near a college so that residents can take advantage of nearby campus resources, including courses and cultural offerings.

  1. No stress of housekeeping or transportation.

Keeping up with daily chores, housekeeping and appointments is often stressful for not only seniors, but also their family. The vast majority of these burdens are relieved in assisted living ad the community offers housekeeping and transportation services.

  1. Physical activity and fitness.

Many assisted living communities offer gym equipment, exercise classes and even personal trainers to help with physical therapy and elder fitness.

  1. 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 expensive. Assisted living is designed for mobility and accessibility while also offering expert care and medical attention, if needed.

  1. Social activity.

Living at home can be isolating, especially if the senior lives alone. It can be difficult for the elderly to maintain their social relationships when they are retired. Assisted living offers socialization through planned activities and outings, such as field trips, dancing and cultural events. Daily living in the common areas also offers fun and socialization for seniors.

Transitioning to Assisted Living

Making the decision to move to assisted living is now much easier since families have learned the benefits of senior health and happiness. The information in this Senior Living Planning Guide also offers a helpful resource to answer questions.

Be prepared to have a family conversation and support your aging loved one emotionally through this new journey. Try not to allow the emotional and logistical challenges of finding senior living overwhelm you.

Remember that a trusted Senior Living Advisor is also available to answer questions or help you in your search to find the perfect new home for your aging parent.

References: Burm, C. (2018, September 28). The Assisted Living Effect. SeniorAdvisor.com. Retrieved from https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2018/09/the-assisted-living-effect/

What is Independent Living

What is Independent Living?

When people think about moving out of their home and into a Life Care Community, they often picture something that feels institutional and impersonal. Independent living is so much more than that.

What Independent Living Is

Life Care Communities, sometimes called retirement communities, allow older adults to maintain the independence of living at home, while gaining the benefits of being surrounded by other active community members. While not all independent living communities are specifically for older adults, many of them are available exclusively to people age 55 and up.

Independent living facilities do not offer the same level of care that assisted living. They’re meant for older adults that can take care of themselves, but appreciate maintenance free living and social opportunities.

Life Care Communities take many forms. They commonly offer apartments that can be rented. In some cases, independent living options are part of a continuum of care that make it easy for older adults to get higher levels of care as their needs change.

In short, independent living in most Life Care Communities provide older adults an option to live on their own, while in close proximity to a community of other older adults and services.

The Benefits of Independent Living

As nice as the comforts of your own home are, a move to an independent living within a Life Care Community offers a lot of attractive benefits:

  • No more home maintenance. Keeping your lawn mowed. Fixing every little thing that breaks. Taking care of a house is expensive and difficult. In independent living, someone else takes care of most of that stuff.
  • Easy access to social activities. Life Care Communities typically offer a wide array of activities for residents. Things like movie nights, crafts, and trips to local museums keep residents active and experiencing new things.
  • A new community. After retirement – and especially after you lose the ability to drive – loneliness and social isolation can become serious issues for older adults that stay in their home. Those that make the move to independent living immediately tap into a large community of new friends.
  • Greater accessibility. Most houses aren’t built to be especially accessible for anyone that has trouble getting around. As you get older, you may find moving through your own house becomes much more of a challenge. Independent living is  designed with ease of accessibility top of mind, since they’re built specifically for seniors.
  • Easy meals. If you love cooking, most independent living facilities offer apartments or homes with a kitchen so you can keep up with the habit. But for those that don’t like cooking, or that like the option of having a break every once in a while, retirement communities also offer meal options to save you the trouble.
  • Increased safety. One of the big reasons a lot of older adults end up moving out of their homes is due to the concern of family members. If you live alone as you age, a simple fall can become life threatening. In independent living, there are always people around to help out and many security precautions put in place to keep residents safe.

Is Independent Living Right For You?

In spite of the list of benefits, many people still prefer to stay in the home they’re used to. Deciding whether or not independent living is the best choice for you really depends on your particular circumstances and those of your family.

If your loved ones are pushing for a move to a Life Care Community because they worry about your safety, you might consider checking out those that are in your community before dismissing the idea out of hand. Most older adults that move into independent living appreciate the activities, the close proximity to friends, and the ease of maintenance and responsibilities it offers once they’re there.

How to Find an Independent Living Community

If you do decide to consider independent living, the next step is to find the right community for you. You can do a search for a listing of all the independent living communities in your area and see how they stack up in terms of amenities, features, and cost. You can also read a collection of reviews from current and previous residents and their loved ones that will give you an idea of what to expect from each one.

All that information can help you narrow down your search to the top few options nearby. Before making a definite decision, you should pay each of your top choices a visit. You can see how the apartments or homes look, meet with some of the current residents, and get a feel for the overall atmosphere of the place.

If you find the right spot, it can quickly come to feel like home. You can keep your independence, but embrace an easier, more active life.

Reference: Hicks, K. (2016, July 25). What is Independent Living? SeniorAdvisor.com. Retrieved from https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2016/07/what-is-independent-living/


Finding The Best Senior Care Option For Mom And Dad

Finding The Best Senior Care Option For A Loved One

How to find the right solution while still keeping the peace.

You may have noticed your parents slowing down a little over the last months or years. Maybe they’re getting a little more forgetful. Maybe their current living situation isn’t working as well for them as it once did. Whether they recognize it or not, it may be time to start taking steps toward solutions that offer the help they need in ways that still allow them to retain as much independence as possible.

There are a number of these potential solutions in your area, but figuring out the difference between them and what each option means for your older parent or loved one isn’t always crystal clear. 

So, here’s a quick rundown of senior care living options, along with the general set of needs and limitations each solution covers. This list moves along the continuum between giving your parent the most independence possible (at the top) to providing the most intimate care.

Your loved one still maintains full control of their property and choices, but they get the small amount of help they need, when they need it.

At-Home Help

This option offers your parent or loved one the most amount of freedom and flexibility. They remain in their home and do most things themselves. At the same time, they also partner with a service that sends team members over to help with more difficult tasks like washing the windows, running errands, picking up groceries, or regular activities of daily life. Most of these services operate on an appointment schedule. Your parent still maintains full control of their property and choices, but they get the small amount of help they need when they need it.

In-Home Nursing Care

This option allows your parent to stay home while a trained companion attends to them. This option is good for situations where family members are able to provide a lot of the upkeep and maintenance on the property but need to outsource activities of daily living with your loved ones care to a professional. This option also has a number of intensity levels. Companions may stop regularly or may maintain one companion there at all times, operating in shifts. Your loved one is able to stay at home and still get the professional care they need.

Independent Living

Independent living gives your parents a great deal of control over their lives, but within a smaller, more easily managed environment where help is available 24/7 if and when the need arises. At Brethren Care Village, our independent living environments include both well-appointed apartments and condominium-style units. Residents move and live independently, but don’t have the responsibility of maintaining a much larger property. The “big chores”–mowing, landscaping, snow removal,etc.–are all taken care of. At the same time, if anything ever happens, professional medical and emergency staff are just moments away.

That level of familiarity, convenience, and connection goes a long way in easing your parent’s mind.

Assisted Living

Assisted living options generally combine the benefits of independent living with a little more hands-on help. Residents maintain their freedom but have all the help they need right on hand. Residents generally eat, do recreational activities, and spend time socializing with their fellow assisted living friends. This is a great option for parents with mild to moderate medical and/or mobility issues who still have a lot of life left to live.

Short-term Rehabilitation

If your parent recently experienced a serious medical event and needs a safe, convenient, and fully-staffed place to get back on their feet, short-term nursing care is a great option. Helpful, caring nurses and staff are on hand to help them recover and get back on their feet.

Long-term Rehabilitation

Similar to short-term nursing care, but for a longer period of time, this option is the right one if your parent can no longer take care of themselves. They get all the care they need in a loving, safe environment with attention from trained medical staff, so you can rest easy knowing that they are in good hands at all times.

Memory Care

Memory care is for people with moderate memory impairments. Conditions may include–but aren’t limited to–dementia and Alzheimer’s. Each memory care facility is structured differently, but at Brethren Care Village, our Bradford Houses offer both privacy and all the benefits of communal living. Trained staff work together with residents. Enriching their lives is a primary objective; schedules and activities are geared around this goal.

No matter what your parent or older loved one might need in terms of the next stage in their care, one thing to consider is continuity. 

Many senior care facilities offer one or more of these care services and environments. What sets Brethren Care Village apart, though, is the presence of all of them. You can choose Brethren Care Village to help your mom clean her windows twice a year and maintain that single relationship long after she’s ready for long-term nursing or memory care. That level of familiarity, convenience, and connection goes a long way in easing your parent’s mind and ensuring their comfort throughout the rest of their lives.

Top 5 Reasons Your Parents Resist Assisted Living

Top 5 reasons older adults resist a long term care setting

How to make the right decision at the right time.

No matter the reasons for beginning the process of looking for an assisted living solution for your parents–health concerns, a general decline in memory, a loss of motor skills, or any one of a hundred other things–they may be resistant to the change.

Which makes sense, of course. They’ve lived independently for the majority of their lives, whether alone or with a spouse. It’s not an easy thing to feel like you can no longer do what you once took for granted. 

Losing your independence is very, very hard.

But at some point, the reality of the situation will win out. And for many families, assisted living is a great option. Or, it may seem that way to everyone except the person it affects the most.

Here are a few things to think about when helping a parent or elderly loved one make the transition to assisted living.

At some point, the reality of the situation will win out.

1. Recognize their feelings

Moving from the family home into assisted or nursing care isn’t something most of us want to think about, let alone actually do. So, recognize these feelings in your loved ones. 

Independence, after all, is a basic need. And empathy goes a long way.

2. Cleary define their needs

What can your loved ones still do? What do they need help with? What resources are available to them? Is it a case of family members being able to pick up the slack here or there, or is the situation such that professional care needs to play a part in the solution? You’ll need to know all of this information in order to make a decision about–and then present your argument for–what steps need to happen next.

3. Approach the process systematically

Before presenting your older parent with the idea of helping them transition to their next living environment, focus on the end results. The solutions. Don’t come at them with just the problems or vague ideas about what might come next. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, you probably aren’t in a position where their feelings won’t at least come into play, so do your homework, search the web, ask around, and, in general, do a lot of legwork upfront before the idea is presented. 

You don’t have to have all the answers. But having an understanding of what’s involved will help you encourage and support future decisions.

4. Present options

No one wants to be forced into anything. 

Even if the option is perfect in every single way, it’s human nature to balk at the idea if you feel like there’s no other choice in the matter. Come up with a series of options and present them clearly. If at all possible, the final choice should be theirs.

5. Small steps

It’s often the case that even if things do happen and changes need to be made in your parent’s care structure, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Maybe they can stay in their house for months or years longer with a little help from an in-home care companion. Or, maybe independent living within a smaller, safer environment is the right choice.

This step isn’t an argument for letting things drag on and postponing the inevitable. Instead, it’s all about recognizing the appropriate steps you can take throughout the transition from taking care of themselves and others to being taken care of by loving, skilled, compassionate professionals.

No matter what situation you and your parent might find yourselves in when it comes to their future, remember: empathy and kindness are key. Put yourself in their shoes. See things from their perspective. 

Then, when you find the right solution, the chances of everyone being happy with the outcome are far more likely.

Top 3 Senior Care Tour Tips

Top 3 Senior Care Tour Tips

How to tell which senior care facility is the best fit for your loved one’s needs.

Your parent or elderly loved one needs to be in an environment where they can receive another level of professional care than they’re getting now. But, as you do your research and begin touring assisted living or nursing care facilities in your community, you realize something very quickly.

Not all senior care facilities are created equal. But how do you know for sure which one is the best fit for your loved one’s needs?

The first thing to consider, of course, is whether the senior care facility meets all the requirements–location, financial/insurance considerations, level of care, etc.

But, if those boxes are checked, how do you begin the winnowing process from there?

Here are three tips to keep in mind as you tour senior care facilities.

Not all senior care facilities are created equal.

During your tour, observe the little things.

1. White Glove It

On old sitcoms, they’d pit an exceptionally fastidious person with one who might define their sense of style as something closer to “sloppy.” At some point in the narrative, the messier of the two is made to clean a room. Upon finishing, the neater member of the odd couple would walk around the room, don a white glove, and run a brilliant finger over an isolated stretch of mantle or along the bottom of the coffee table. They’re checking to see how thorough a job was done.

That’s an extreme example, but relevant. During your tour, while you shouldn’t go barging into places you don’t belong, observe the little things. Are things kept clean? Is the air generally fresh? Do they take care of the small things like cracks in the corners, spots on the plates, or the general tidiness of the nurse’s scrubs?  If they pay attention to the small things, then you’ll know they are also far more likely to do what’s necessary when taking care of your loved one.

2. Resident Faces

This seems simple enough, but it’s an important point: do the residents look happy? Do they look like they are well taken care of? Of course, it would be too much to ask if every resident was walking or wheeling around with a big smile on their face at all times. But, you can get a sense of things by observing the general demeanor and behavior of those who are already living in an environment where you’re considering placing your loved one. If they don’t look like they want to be there, that might be a clue you want to notice–and retain for the future.

3. Ask Around

No matter what the tour guide or c-level administrators of a senior care facility say, you’ll get a better sense of the place by pulling a nurse or staff aid aside and asking what life is like inside. A good question to ask is, would you put your grandma here? Most of the time, the answers you’ll get will be authentic and honest.

Taking a tour is a critical part of deciding on a senior care environment for your parent or loved one. And utilizing these three tips should give you a good start on making the final decision and ensuring they’re well-taken care of, both now and into the future.