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The Positive Truth About Assisted Living Communities

  
  
  

assisted living communitiesMoving your loved ones to an assisted living community can be a time of worry and confusion, but most of these concerns turn out to be unfounded. When you research assisted living communities, you will quickly find that they are not all the same, but the good ones stand apart from the rest. Assisted living communities should help you find the peace of mind you need, and here are some examples of why a move to such a community can be a very positive change.

Appropriate Care

When seniors need care, it is not a "one-size-fits-all" kind of situation. Some seniors need far more medical intervention on a regular basis, while others are nearly completely independent with only minimal needs for help. Assisted living communities make a real effort to evaluate the needs of their individual residents and make sure that each has the most appropriate care.

Comforts of Home

Many seniors love to garden and tend to the yard, and family members might fear that life in an assisted living community will mean those opportunities for meaningful outdoor work will be lost. But that doesn't have to be the case, especially in high quality communities. Gardening provides a uniquely helpful form of relaxation and comfort, as well as making it abundantly clear to everyone that assisted living communities have the personal touch that feels like home.

Friendship and Community

Most people find it more difficult to make new friends as they get older, but numerous studies have shown that maintaining close friendships is key to staying healthy for as long as possible. Assisted living facilities have the kind of built-in social structure that makes it easier for residents to find new friends. You don't need to worry about your loved ones being lonely and isolated in an assisted living community, because they are more likely to make new friends in such a setting.

Having worries about how well your loved one will adapt to moving to an assisted living community is normal, but you can rest assured that it is more likely to be an upgrade in living conditions. When they no longer have to spend time isolated, dealing with yard work and with sporadic medical attention, their quality of life will almost certainly improve if you choose the right place. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you feel better by taking good care of your loved ones.

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15 Conversation Techniques for Connecting with a Loved One who has Dementia

  
  
  

conversation techniquesOne primary symptom of dementia and its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, is the gradual loss of communication ability. Dementia slowly damages communication centers within the brain; changes may include difficulty in maintaining a train of thought during conversation, finding the right words, frequent repetition, using the wrong words, talking less, or inventing new words.

Ultimately, a loved one who has dementia will need round-the-clock care, either at home or in a specialized memory care community staffed by experts in personalized dementia care and communication methods.

It’s important for everyone interacting with a loved one who has dementia to learn new ways to communicate. Here are 15 tips from the Alzheimer’s Association.

  1. Don’t correct or criticize. This might be the most important tip for anyone dealing with dementia patients. Especially in early disease stages, it’s natural for a spouse or child to want to correct a verbal miscue. However, when you tell a loved one who has dementia that what they’ve said is incorrect, it only adds to their sense of anxiety and confusion.

  2. Redirect, don’t correct. When mom repeats the same story within a short time period, don’t complain that you just heard this story 5 minutes ago. Instead, use a technique followed by many memory care professionals. Redirect your loved one to a new topic or new activity.

  3. Speak slowly and calmly. Try to select simple, direct words and phrases.

  4. Never argue. When dad makes a statement you don’t agree with, don’t argue with him, as it will only heighten his agitation and anxiety level.

  5. Avoid interrupting. Doing so may cause people with dementia to lose their train of thought. Besides, didn’t your mom teach you that it’s rude to interrupt?

  6. Allow her to interrupt you. A loved one who has dementia is struggling to communicate, so when she talks, it’s a good thing; let mom interrupt you.

  7. Be patient and supportive. Listen and respond with compassion. Smile at dad even if you don’t fully understand what he’s saying. Put yourself in his shoes and treat him the way you’d like to be treated.

  8. Look for the feelings underlying the words. Mom might struggle to find the right word, but the feelings that she’s attempting to express could be significant. Maybe she’s in pain, so listen for her tone of voice and observe facial cues.

  9. Identify yourself. It’s sad, but true. There will likely come a time when your loved one doesn’t recognize you. When you see dad or mom, say your name.

  10. Make eye contact. Speak to your loved one at eye level and keep eye contact steady. People with dementia still pick up non-verbal cues and our eyes are part of our communication language.

  11.  Allow time for response. In today’s digital age, we expect instant communication. Set aside this notion, and allow time for your loved one to respond.

  12. Encourage non-verbal communication. All behaviors are a form of communication, so find new ways to talk to your loved one who has dementia, such as pointing or facial gestures.

  13. Limit distractions. Talk to mom in a quiet spot; turn down the TV or radio.

  14. Use direct and clear statements. Don’t use vague words to describe something. For example, say, “here is your water,” not “here it is.”

  15. Speak in a comforting tone. Help put your loved one at ease by speaking in tones that comfort and relax.

Follow these strategies and you’ll help both yourself and your loved one better understand each other. What communication tools work for you?

25 Questions for Evaluating Memory Care Communities

4 Ways to Connect Deeply With a Loved One Who Has Dementia

  
  
  

helping relatives with memory careOne of the most heartbreaking things about having a loved one with dementia is that they seem like a shell of their former selves. Connecting with a loved one who has dementia can be frustrating and sad, because their functionality and alertness can vary from day to day. Sometimes they will have moments in which they don't remember important events, confuse people in the present with people from the past, such as deceased family members, and may even forget who you are. Although these moments are very difficult for you as the loved one, it doesn't mean that you have to give up all hope. There are still many options for connecting with a loved one who has dementia.

Choose a Community that Offers Brain Fitness

Even though progressive decline is a classic hallmark of dementia, that doesn't mean that you have to resign yourself to the thought that there is nothing you can do to help. When you choose a good dementia care community, something you should look for is the existence of regular brain fitness activities. Brain fitness activities include puzzles and games that sharpen cognitive skills, as well as physical exercise and yoga. Managing dementia should ideally involve the mind and the body.

Employ Art and Music

Art and music aren't just hobbies and pastimes. When it comes to helping with memory issues like dementia, multiple studies have shown that art and music have remarkable effects in helping seniors to remember events from their past and to be more alert and aware in the present. While art and music cannot cure dementia, they do make connecting with a loved one who has dementia more feasible. High quality dementia care programs should offer art programs as a means of brain therapy and to provide a better quality of life.

Change Your Approach

Connecting with a loved one who has dementia requires a willingness to consider different forms of communication. According to the Alzheimer's Association, it's important to remain patient, especially because people who have dementia tend to repeat themselves frequently or may have incorrect memories. If you try to correct them and point out that their facts are wrong, they may become agitated and even aggressive. It's important to shift your focus to the feelings they are trying to convey and not get hung up on the specifics of the facts.

Choose Conversation Topics Well

Many people with dementia are easily confused, and it can be challenging to find conversation topics to discuss with them. But choosing your conversation topics well can actually increase the chances of having a pleasant discussion and can even improve the odds of them being more mentally lucid. Keep conversation topics simple and easy to understand and avoid complicated topics. Asking them about their childhood can often bring out memories and makes them happy, in addition to allowing them to speak with more alertness.

Contact us today for how we can work with you to help your loved one who has dementia.

25 Questions for Evaluating Memory Care Communities

5 Questions to Ask Before Joining an Assisted Living Community

  
  
  

senior care evaluationKnowing that you need to join an assisted living community is a major decision. Because most of us have little, if any, experience with facing this situation, it's not uncommon to feel confused and a little worried. That's normal. But you don't have to continue to experience uncertainty and worry. Much like making other major decisions, you can set your mind at ease when you do the right research and ask the right questions.

#1 What Does the Activity Director Do?

In a good community, the activity director works hard to keep life interesting for the residents. Life in an assisted living community shouldn't be boring and doesn't have to be. But all communities are not created equal, and you might have to dig a little for information so that you can make an accurate comparison between one facility and another. Assisted living communities should offer a variety of fun and appropriate activities, including mental and physical activities and customized options tailored to each individual. It's important to ask about the activities a community offers to its residents, and use caution if they don't have a lot to tell you.

#2 Do You Like the Executive Director?

Believe it or not, the director is not just a faceless member of the administration. Although you may not see him or her often, the executive director sets a lot of the stage for the entire tone of an assisted living community. You should take the time to interview the executive director during your tour of the assisted living community and ask several questions, including what his or her philosophy of care is for the community, how he or she takes accountability for the daily function of the facility and about the state health survey data.

#3 Are Your Comfortable with the Staff?

It's important to meet the staff at an assisted living facility, because those are the people who would be taking care of your loved one every day. You should feel comfortable in the presence in the staff and feel like you can trust them to take good care of your loved one. The members of the staff should be welcoming and kind. Make sure you find out how they handle everyday situations and how they interpret the facility's policies. You should also get a good idea about daily schedules and which situations they consider to be emergencies that need your involvement.

#4 What are their Communication Plans?

How well the facility communicates with families will matter a great deal. Finding out about the communication policies is one of the most crucial steps you should take in making your decision to choose an assisted living community. You need to feel like you are a partner with the staff at the assisted living community and the best way to achieve that is through open communication.

#5 Are the Other Residents Happy?

There will always be some people who don't get along in any environment, but you can still get a good idea about how well residents are cared for based on how happy they appear and how they interact with each other. Because the other residents of the community will be a second family for your loved one, it's important that the social environment looks welcoming. 

When you are ready to look for an assisted living community for your loved one, you need to ask the right questions so that you can find the place that feels like home. Contact us today to see how we can be the care partner that you need. 

25 Questions for Evaluating Memory Care Communities

4 Key Signs It's Time to Join an Assisted Living Community

  
  
  

assisted living community informationMaking the decision to join an assisted living community is rarely easy. Most people highly value their independence and therefore may delay the transition to living in a community as long as possible. Many of us may also fear the whole concept of moving our parents into such a community, because we project our own worries about loss of independence onto them. But it is possible to wait too long to move our loved ones into a home that is more appropriate for them. Here are some of the signs you should look for to help you realize when it's time for your loved one to join an assisted living community.

#1. Medical Needs are Requiring More Attention

Many senior adults start to develop more medical issues over time. As your loved one becomes less capable of fully caring for him or herself, the situation gets more challenging. For a while, you may be able to get by with home care provided by visiting nurses. However, eventually as care is needed on a basis around the clock, instead of only a short period each day, it can be overwhelming and can become too difficult to manage without more help. Dementia is a particularly difficult diagnosis that nearly always requires constant help and is far beyond the scope of what most families can provide. Moving to an assisted living community is often the right decision when more medical care is needed.

#2. Activities of Daily Living are Difficult

The hallmark of being independent is being able to provide for one's own activities of daily living. Some of the daily living activities that are important to be able to perform include cooking, doing laundry, paying bills on time and maintaining personal hygiene. When these activities become too difficult, it's a strong sign that your loved one may need more help on an ongoing basis and moving to an assisted living community would be a good choice.

#3. Your Ability to Help is Limited

In earlier generations, families were able to take in their senior relatives and care for them. Many people today still feel like some subconscious pressure on themselves to provide that care for their own parents. But life today is far different than it was in those earlier days, and few people are able to provide that amount of care anymore. For one thing, previous generations often had one parent at home full-time, and many of today's families have two working adults. Adults today are also working for many more years and postpone retirement far beyond what they once did, and families often live in completely different states. A geriatric care manager can help you to make the decision if you are struggling with it or if there are intense disagreements between you and a sibling about how to handle the care for your parent.

#4. The Family Home is Too Hard to Maintain

Most of us accumulate a lot of possessions over the years, and if your loved one is still in the same house where you grow up, it was designed to accommodate a growing family. But having a lot of belongings and a large home requires a lot of maintenance, which can become increasingly difficult as we get older. Rightsizing means deciding which possessions are still necessary and how much space we really need. Fewer possessions and a smaller space can help create a simpler life.

Contact us today for how we can help you decide when it's the right time for your loved one to move to an assisted living community.

25 Questions for Evaluating Memory Care Communities

What Does an “All-Inclusive” Assisted Living Community Really Mean?

  
  
  

What an all inclusive assisted living community meansYou have many options when choosing an assisted living community or memory care center for your loved one, which is great until you start realizing just how many options you have. Sometimes, too many options can be overwhelming and it may be difficult to adequately compare one to another and feel confident that you’re making the best decision. Through your evaluation process of various communities, you may encounter the words “all-inclusive,” and wonder what that actually means. Different communities might vary slightly in their definitions of what this includes, but in general, all-inclusive should include the following services, programs and amenities for residents.  

Residential Communities

Assisted living communities, all-inclusive or not, should include, at a minimum, clean, well-cared-for housing and grounds for residents to enjoy.  All-inclusive assisted living communities should take it a step further by also including:

  • A thoughtfully appointed apartment with options to furnish it yourself with your loved one’s furniture from home, or a fully furnished apartment with everything your loved one needs
  • The community should be operated by highly-qualified experts with a leadership team that possesses a vast amount of experience and knowledge
  • Three chef-prepared meals, plus snacks every day
  • Therapeutic diets with the ability to accommodate special dietary needs if necessary
  • Weekly housekeeping, laundry, linens, and on-going facility maintenance

Personal Care

An all-inclusive community should offer a variety of personal care assistance that can be customized depending on the needs of each resident. A well-trained, 24-hour care staff should include services such as:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Mobility
  • Medication administration

Medical Services

Residents enter assisted living communities in various stages of medical and personal needs. All-inclusive communities should offer a variety of personalized medical care to match the needs of each resident. These services should include:

  • In-room and remote mobile personal emergency response systems with timely staff response
  • The scheduling of and transportation to off-site medical appointments
  • An in-house pharmacy and medication management system
  • Ongoing medical and nursing care plans by a Medical Director and Director of Nursing

Activities

Because it’s so important for seniors to remain active and stimulated, an all-inclusive community should offer activities for senior residents that include the following services:

  • Fun on-site activities for assisted living residents and exciting trips
  • Opportunities for community and family events and get-togethers
  • Regular physical exercise opportunities and brain fitness activities
  • Access to on-site physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapies

All-inclusive memory care centers should also include additional options, activities and services tailored specifically for the needs of seniors afflicted with dementia and Alzeheimer’s disease.

By fully assessing the capabilities and services of the assisted living communities you are evaluating you can have the peace of mind of knowing your loved one is not alone, is safe, and is receiving compassionate care in a warm, clean, and inviting home. All of our assisted living communities in Georgia and Tennessee include the above services and more. If you need more guidelines to help you choose an assisted living community or if you would like more information or a tour of one of our nine locations, please visit our assisted living communities page.

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How Assisted Living Communities Stay Active in Summer Months

  
  
  

Summer Activities for Seniors at Assisted Living CommunitiesSummer is one of the best times of the year for outdoor living and soaking up the sun. But summer also brings hot weather, which can be dangerous for certain people, including seniors. Hot summer weather can be risky for seniors who live alone, but it can be more enjoyable when compassionate and talented caregivers know the appropriate way to help them beat the heat. Here are some of the ways that assisted living communities can keep your loved ones safe and happy in the warmer months of the year.

Go Outside in the Morning

Getting regular exercise is an important part of staying happy and healthy at any age. Getting some fresh air is also crucial to boosting your mood and avoiding cabin fever. But exercising outdoors during the summer can dramatically increase the risk of getting overheated and causing problems like heat stroke. This risk can be minimized by going out to exercise early in the morning, before the heat of the day. Activities like walking, biking and yoga are gentle and effective, and can be safely performed in any environment, including in the great outdoors.

Stay Hydrated

The most important key for people of any age when it comes to surviving summer and beating the heat is to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine, which can not only cause insomnia and agitation, but can also contribute to dehydration. Make sure that you and loved ones drink more water than normal during the hottest days of summer. It can be difficult to make sure that you drink enough water, and can be even more difficult for seniors to do so, particularly when memory issues are involved. The high quality staff at your parent's assisted living facility will be sure your parents are getting enough water to avoid the risks of dehydration.

Stay Cool

Air conditioning isn't just a nice luxury when it comes to senior health; it's absolutely essential. A lot of older homes don't have air conditioning, and even seniors whose homes have air conditioning may avoid keeping their homes cool enough because they want to be frugal and conservative. Assisted living facilities have a great quality of life, including comfortable, air conditioned rooms and communal areas. We help make sure that your parents stay cool, no matter the weather. 

Work Out in the Water

You can combine exercise and cooling off, all at the same time. Working out in the pool is great exercise, especially for people who are dealing with old injuries and issues like back pain. Assisted living staff can help your loved ones work out in water and cool down while they're also getting enough exercise to stay healthy. It's really the ideal summer activity!

Most people think that winter is the only season that can be risky for seniors, but summer requires some active management, too. When you choose the right assisted living community, you will have more peace of mind because you won't have to worry about whether or not your parents are safe and well cared for. Contact us today to learn more about how we are your partner in treating your loved ones as well as you would.

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5 Ways to Evaluate the Staff of an Assisted Living Community

  
  
  

How to Evaluate the Staff of an Assisted Living CommunityWhen it comes to taking care of mom and dad in their senior years, you want somebody who would treat them as well as you do. But when you realize that you need some help taking care of them and it's time to look into an assisted living community, you know that quality of care varies widely from one facility to the next. Here's what to look for when you evaluate the staff of an assisted living community.

Patient and Pleasant

You should get a good sense of the facility staff right from your very first impression. The staff should never make you feel rushed when you take a tour of the facility, and they should always patiently answer all of your questions. Choosing an assisted living facility for one of the most important people in your life is a very big decision and you should always feel like the staff cares about you and your loved ones.

Community Builder

The best caregivers at an assisted living community will have a compassionate and caring attitude. Community should be the key word here when you're thinking about finding the right facility, and a strong sense of community doesn't just happen by accident. Staff should be working hard to create a high quality place to live, where daily activities keep residents active and happy.

Good Communicators

The staff of an assisted living community are your eyes and ears when you can't be there, and you're counting on them to keep you updated about how your loved one is doing. That's why you want to make sure the staff has a plan for good communication with you, especially when you're dealing with issues like dementia care.

Cares about Residents

Great staff members will interact warmly with the residents and know them by name. Your loved one isn't just a number and shouldn't be treated like one! You want to be told exactly what happens in the community and how the residents spend their days. If you get a sense that the staff is trying to hide something, you definitely need to keep looking for a facility where they're open and upfront.

Prepared for Emergencies

Medical care needs are an occasional reality in assisted living communities, and this is one of the most important aspects in choosing the right facility. You want to be absolutely certain that the staff is adequately trained and has a clear, well defined protocol for how to handle emergencies. The staff should be able to tell you how they react to emergencies and be able to give you examples of the protocol. There is no possible compromise when it comes to the ability to meet medical care needs, especially in cases of emergency.

A good assisted living community is supposed to offer all the comforts of home and the staff should care as much as you do. But the facility and staff should be able to go a step beyond what you can do at home, so you want to look for a warm, welcoming facility with competent and caring staff. Contact us to see what we have to offer.

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The 4 First Symptoms and Behaviors of Dementia

  
  
  

First 4 Symptoms and Behaviors of DementiaIt can be devastating when seniors develop dementia. Their needs for dementia care become so profound. But contrary to what you might believe, dementia doesn't have a sudden onset. In general, most people can point to certain first signs in their senior loved ones that were early indicators of dementia.

1. Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the earliest signs for most patients with dementia. Research refers to this type of memory loss as "Specific Cognitive Decline" and new studies suggest that this is strongly linked to later development of dementia. This kind of memory loss is specific, too: affected seniors are more likely to have difficulty remembering recent events, names and faces of people and finding the right words in conversation.

2. Mood Changes

If your loved one was always cheerful and positive, it can be a sign of a bigger problem on the horizon if suddenly they're depressed and agitated on a frequent basis. Although depression can be common in seniors for several reasons, it's important to watch for these signs and seek appropriate medical care right away. When people get dementia care as early as possible, it can significantly slow down decline and improve the outcomes. If you want your loved ones to be mentally sharp for as long as possible, don't just brush off "bad moods" when they seem to be part of a personality change rather than an isolated incident.

3. Problems with Performing Tasks

During our working lives, most of us are organized and capable of performing even complex tasks, although to varying degrees based on the individual. But it's not inevitable that having trouble with these tasks has to happen as we get older. If simple tasks like balancing a checkbook or following a recipe are suddenly difficult, when they used to be manageable, that may be an early sign of dementia.

4. Poor Self Care

Sudden loss of attention to keeping up with self care tasks, like taking regular showers and grooming, can also be an early indicator of dementia. It can be a symptom of depression as well, so it's important to pay attention to this sign and see if it coincides with other evidence of possible cognitive problems.

Getting The Right Help

Even though dementia can be a worrisome sign, it doesn't have to cause panic. If you're noticing the early signs of cognitive decline in your loved one, that should be a strong motivator to seek out high quality dementia care as soon as possible. Quality dementia care providers will work with you to develop a plan for appropriate treatments, which may include not only adequate supervision, but also art, therapy, social outings and spiritual resources. You should never feel overwhelmed by the needs for appropriate dementia care when you have a good team on your side.

You should take it seriously when you notice the early signs of dementia, but don't feel like you have to deal with it alone. Contact us and we'll show you how the right care plan for your loved one can give you real peace of mind.  

25 Questions for Evaluating Memory Care Communities

10 Questions For Evaluating Tennessee Senior Living Health Care

  
  
  

10 Questions for Evaluating Tennessee Senior Living Health CareBefore you make any decisions about which Tennessee senior living community would be the best for your loved one, try to visit as many communities as possible and follow a few commonsense suggestions to make the best possible decision:   

  • Schedule a tour at each location and visit your top choices more than once, at different times of day
  • Talk to residents and key administration and staff
  • Ask your friends, physician, co-workers and neighbors if they have knowledge and opinions about the various communities
  • Invite trusted family and/or friends along when you tour so you have another set of eyes and ears
  • Take detailed notes and photos, if you wish, at each location so you can sit quietly and evaluate the options later
  • Ask to sit down for a meal to assess the food and service quality of the dining room

10 Health Care Queries

While Tennessee senior living communities don’t provide medical care per se, they are obligated to ensure that their residents have good access to health care, either on or off-site. If your loved one is in Tennessee assisted living, these communities must, under state law, ensure that their resident’s medical and other needs are safely and effectively met.

The health care needs of your loved one are probably one of the biggest motivators for a move to senior living. So, it’s critical for you to ask at least these 10 questions so you understand whether the community is equipped to capably manage and coordinate your loved ones’ medical needs, including medication management and potential future healthcare requirements.

  1. Are there health checks available such as glucose monitoring, weight changes?
  2. If there’s no nurse available, do nurses regularly visit or are available on-call?
  3. What health care providers routinely visit and what type of services are offered?
  4. How does the senior community facilitate your loved ones’ access to local healthcare and/or social services?
  5. Is someone available to help schedule appointments and/or transport residents to medical appointments?
  6. Under what conditions would senior care staff phone 911, a physician or family members?
  7. If my loved one is experiencing unusual pain or discomfort, is there a physician on call or on staff who can see him or her as needed?
  8. What is the policy regarding medication management? What procedures exist for administering medication to residents?
  9. Are residents allowed to self-administer medications, and if so, how does the senior living staff determine that capability?
  10. What kind of assistance is offered for those needing wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive mobility devices?

Finding the right Tennessee senior living community requires lots of research, time and effort. But your loved ones are worth it, aren’t they?

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