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Senior Assisted Living Blog

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 31, 2016

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory and behavior. While it mostly affects older adults, it can appear in people who are in their 40s and 50s.

It is estimated that approximately 5.3 million Americans suffer from this terrible disease. It is a progressive disease, in that it worsens over time.

At first, an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may suffer mild memory loss. Over time, sadly, dementia symptoms worsen and individuals lose their ability to carry on a conversation or perform tasks that used to be handled with ease.

While currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment for symptoms is available. Medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine can, for a limited time, treat symptoms such as memory loss and confusion.

In addition to medicine, some researchers believe that the onset of advanced symptoms can be delayed through exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Other research has shown that some patients benefited cognitively with art and music therapy.

Like with other diseases, early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is important. While the onset of the disease cannot be stopped or reversed, early diagnosis gives a patient a better chance of benefiting from treatment.

Early diagnosis also gives the patient and his or her family more time to plan for the future and allows the patient to be involved in decisions about care, transportation, living options, and financial and legal matters.

Planning is important because of the significant amount of care that is needed for an individual with Alzheimer’s.

Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease will help bring understanding and might give people the ability to spot signs of the disease.

Famous past leaders like Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s and his willingness to share his diagnosis helped people understand that the disease does not discriminate.

He expressed hope that by sharing his story, it would help build a constructive national conversation and a clearer understanding of people affected by this awful disease.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s, visit To learn about Alzheimer’s Care, contact Spring Arbor.


Considering Senior Living - Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, October 20, 2016

The line between independent living and assisted living isn’t hard and fast. A spectrum of services means individuals can search for the level of assistance that suits their needs and goals of living as independently as possible.

The No. 1 tip that experts in senior living offer on the topic is to plan ahead. Doing so can help one stay in one’s own home longer or retain more independence and control over housing and other decisions.

We often think, ‘This could never happen to me,’ and we always procrastinate. You have to be proactive.

Being proactive can mean everything from downsizing one’s belongings sooner rather than later to exploring senior living options. The goal is to ensure such decisions aren’t made hastily later on, with little time for consideration and preparation.

At the same time, it’s important to inform family members, such as one’s children, about these decisions and plans.

Depending on where an individual lives resources for remaining independent vary. Some areas have publicly funded and private for-pay transportation options, for example, and some have active networks of volunteers ready to assist those who no longer can drive.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recommends planning ahead, for example by familiarizing oneself with local transportation options before such services are needed.

Additionally, improving or prolonging one’s mobility and flexibility is a key part of staying independent.

Senior living complexes are another option for individuals seeking out such resources, whether they choose to live in independent living or assisted living apartments. In addition to dining and linen services, transportation and other daily chores or living needs that these facilities can help with, they sometimes connect residents with other groups and organizations.

For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor.


Recognizing Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 17, 2016

Have you ever gone into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, and then forgot what you went into the kitchen for? You see dirty dishes, start to tidy up, take something out of the freezer for dinner, then try to remember why you came into the kitchen to begin with? This is a normal part of functioning and aging.

Dementia, on the other hand, means going into the kitchen to make coffee and not remembering the steps or how to operate the coffee maker.

Warning signs of dementia include memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty in completing familiar tasks, confusion with time and place, decreased or poor judgment, challenges in planning or solving problems and withdrawal from work or social activities.

Early diagnosis is the key. It’s important to get a diagnosis. What you are experiencing may not even be dementia. It might be something that can be fixed. If a dementia diagnosis is made, there is still some time to improve diet and exercise habits, the earlier the better as these can improve the quality of life. If a diagnosis is made early, there is still time to make or review financial, health care and end-of-life plans. It is possible to make decisions for care that can be carried out as the dementia progresses. Most importantly early diagnosis means there is still time to do the things you like and want to do. This may be traveling, spending time with family, volunteering, or running a marathon. Medications are available to moderate symptoms and provide time to do the things you enjoy. The medication does not, however, alter the course of the disease.

People in early stages of the disease have learned to live with memory loss and still maintain productive lives with family and friends. It is important to gather with other people with memory loss for support, to share experiences and identify needs to maintain engagement in order to contribute to family and community.

For more information on memory loss and dementia care, contact Spring Arbor.


Finding an Assisted Living Facility Takes Time – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, October 14, 2016

If a family has made the decision to move an elderly loved one into an assisted living facility, the next decision is just as important: which one to choose?

Choosing a facility is a decision that only can be made by family, but some questions to ask when researching and visiting an assisted living home can help to make an informed decision.

Often, the No. 1 question is how much it will cost.

If you haven’t looked at assisted living before, seeing the price is kind of a sticker shock.

The first question families should ask is whether the facility has levels of care and if those levels require an additional cost.

Are there levels that define the care acuity, such as if they need assistance showering, going on the toilet or assistance dressing. Some facilities do have extra charges.

A lot of families ask about Medicaid coverage for assisted living. There are Medicaid-accepted assisted living facilities, but not all facilities will take Medicaid, so it is important to ask at each location.

Another question that is asked a lot is about activities and how residents are transported to off-site activities. Ask to see activity calendars and food menus.

It is common for family members to feel guilty about placing a senior in an assisted living facility and they often look for a facility that is modern looking and high end. Don’t let guilt cause families to worry too much about superficial aspects of the building, however you do want a nice building that is light, airy, modern, has a good feel, and is well-maintained.

It’s about the care, the teamwork of the staff, and the care given to the resident. Don’t worry about a place that is 20 years old compared to a new building down the street.

As much research as possible should be done before reaching a decision, including going online to a reputable source, talking to organizations such as the National Council on Aging and visiting local senior centers.

Take as much time as you possibly can, both when researching online and hopefully when spending time in the community itself. It’s not a decision to rush into and you should be as best prepared as you can.

Also do spot checks of the facility.

After seeing the facility, stop back in and see how it is again. Look behind the door. A lot of time, if you schedule a tour, there’s a specific activity going on, but you don’t know what’s going on at say 6:15 p.m. on a Tuesday. Do a spot check, do two of them and have another family member go, too.

Also, take as long as needed on a tour. Don’t let the community decide how long the tour is. You should go in with your own time frame.

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


Baby Boomers are Redefining Senior Living – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Today's American seniors are used to living in a world that caters to them. All their lives, they've been able to purchase exactly what they needed, when they needed it, and they expect similar accommodations as they move into the later years of their lives. Better yet, they have a larger discretionary income than any previous generation, which means that they have the means to pay for the services they want.

Each day, more than 10,000 individuals hit the age of 65. These baby boomers are redefining the face of senior living every day with their improved definition of life after retirement.

The healthcare and social assistance sectors are now among the largest in the United States, and thanks to baby boomers reaching retirement age, the number of physicians needed for elderly care likely will double or triple in the coming years. These changes are expected to significantly alter senior services and care for generations to come.

For years, baby boomers have denied that they are going to get old. Now, the defiant generation finally is thinking about the future — especially where and how to live.

Below are some finding on the various senior living industries and the expected effects of this generation of retirees.

Assisted living and skilled nursing

With so many more seniors in America, the demand for high-quality assisted living and skilled nursing never has been greater. For today's senior, the move to a senior living community isn't about medical necessity; it's about a choice of lifestyle.

Many assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities now make it their aim to appeal to this new generation of seniors, adding amenities and programs that appeal to different lifestyles or that accommodate a wider range of hobbies and activities. Currently, nursing homes are funded primarily by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, but shifts in policy indicate that more residents will be paying for their own care, just as most independent living and assisted living residents do — meaning that the nursing homes have to be able to measure up.

Baby boomers can't be offered a one-size-fits-all solution. The baby boom generation invented the idea of mass customization, and that's what its members are looking for in an assisted living community or SNF. They're expected to begin critically assessing senior living and nursing homes, lobbying for improved services and care — and more privacy. In nursing homes, for instance, experts assert, boomers will demand availability and responsiveness from physicians and insist on having a psychiatrist on staff to watch for signs of depression. In addition, many will emphasize integrated recreation with qualified counselors and activities that stimulate the mind and body. In short, baby boomers are looking for high-quality services and care that fit all of their needs, and they won't settle for less.

Continuing care retirement / life plan communities

Thanks to the changing trends and new needs of baby boomers, continuing care retirement / life plan communities are considering how to redefine their services for the future.

Baby boomers have an overall mindset of “I'm too young to live in a place like this.” The benefits and luxuries often seen at life plan communities — full-size gyms, trained chefs who have studied at top cooking schools, numerous activities, interiors that have been decorated by professionals — are designed to provide independence and all the amenities and social activities that baby boomers could ask for while still leaving them with the security that assisted living and nursing home care will be available if it is needed.

Outside of life plan communities, many multimillion dollar independent living communities have been built to accommodate the wants and needs of the new generation of seniors. This group tends to embrace an active retirement, with many boomers planning a move to age-focused communities while they can still enjoy themselves, instead of waiting until a move is medically necessary. Today's 55-and-older communities feature everything from entertainment areas with video games and computers to state-of-the-art gyms with personal trainers and activities.

Aging in place

More and more seniors are choosing to age in place, remaining at home (wherever home is, including independent and assisted living apartments) as long as they are physically able to do so. In their minds, aging in place allows for more freedom, safety and comfort while promoting healing, giving aging adults continuing control over their own lives, and creating a healthier and happier lifestyle. The senior can remain in his or her existing community and reduce fears that independence is being lost.

The aging-in-place movement has opened up a variety of needs and services. Single-family homes often must be redesigned to accommodate seniors' increased health needs. They need technology and medical services that consider both their needs and their wants. Those include accommodations for in-home caregiving, principles of green building, and eliminating preconceptions that aging in place needs to be like living in a hospital.

Of course, independent and assisted living apartments designed with older adults in mind are built with necessary features or are built in a way that more easily can accommodate features that residents may desire.

Many other “silver industries” also have arisen: certified aging-in place specialists, geriatric care managers, senior relocation specialists, senior concierge services, home healthcare agencies and a vast array of technology services. As technology improves, many individuals predict more services steadily being offered to allow seniors to remain at home even longer.

It's an exciting time for seniors.  They have access to a vast amount of information online, and they're taking advantage of it to acquire the services that they want and need for themselves.

For more information on luxurious senior living communities and assisted living apartments where you can age in place, contact Spring Arbor.