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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Moving into a Senior Community is a Huge Decision – Greensboro, N C

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Spring Arbor, Assisted Living CommunityYou have finally decided to make the move out of your home and are considering relocating to a senior community. Your children may have finally convinced you that you need a different style of living, or maybe you just got tired of mowing grass, fixing toilets, washing windows and shoveling snow.

Others move out of their homes into some type of long-term care facility due to a physical or cognitive chronic disability or decline that arises suddenly.

Whatever the reason, moving out of your home is a significant change on many levels, including financial, physical and emotional. Given the high stakes, let’s look at some things to look out for and how to help make this transition smoother.

1. The planned transition: "Retirement community" is a term used very loosely to describe a variety of living situations. Some communities only offer one level of care, such as independent living, personal care or assisted living. Others offer a variety of care settings so the person can age in place from independent living through skilled nursing care and/or memory support on the same campus.

Continuing care retirement community is a special term under the law that allows a resident to “buy in” to a care plan for his or her lifetime, so that the risk of increased care costs is shifted to the community and away from the resident.

When beginning this transition, it is important to visit and investigate various communities ahead of a crisis and get a feel for how life would be there. A prospective resident should consider the types of assistance offered, what is included in the monthly fee and what types of additional services are charged a la carte.

Inevitably, there is a pile of complex documents that will need to be reviewed before signing.

When buying into a community, there is usually a substantial upfront fee. There are various options to choose from which give the resident the right to a refund of a portion of the entrance fee or none of the entrance fee. It is important to consult with an elder law attorney as well as the resident's financial planner to figure out the best option to finance the entrance fee and future care costs. Whether or not the prospective resident has long-term care insurance can become a critical element.

In addition, residents need to be aware of rights and liabilities under the contract and whether they would ever have to move out of the community and under what circumstances.

2. The crisis admission: Unfortunately, many people end up in a long-term care facility as the result of an acute medical event. Typically, after a hospital stay, a person is given several choices for discharge to a long-term care facility.

This selection should be made carefully because the facility could end up being the place this person lives for the rest of his or her life.

Generally, health insurance such as Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans will cover the cost of rehabilitation in the long-term care facility for the first several weeks. After this coverage disappears, the resident will need to figure out how to afford to pay for care.

In either scenario, it is extremely important for those involved in the decision-making and admission process to obtain the advice of an attorney before signing any contracts. It is important to understand terms such as "responsible party" and what that means as far as financial obligations for adult children as well as people who are acting under the authority of a power of attorney and/or health care directive.

Whether it’s a gradual transition from home to a retirement community or an unexpected medical event, these are significant life changes that impact the resident as well as his or her family. It is important to understand the options and consequences before signing on the bottom line.

For more information on senior living communities, contact Spring Arbor.


How to Downsize Your Home – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 21, 2016

Spring Arbor, downsizingMany in the baby boom generation have been clinging to their big family homes, despite equity gains that have occurred in many areas due to the improving economy.

We’re not yet seeing a dramatic trend toward downsizing. But despite the desire of many boomers to hang on to their family homes indefinitely, an increasing number will soon change their minds or be forced to downsize, however reluctantly, due to medical, financial or family issues.

Very often it takes a triggering event, like a major health problem, to cause people to sell a home they’ve owned for many years.

Whether you’re a homeowner who’s excited to downsize or you’re doing so involuntarily, the emotions can be intense.

It is very difficult it is for those to disconnect from any residence where they’ve lived for a lengthy time, even if doing so by choice.

Part of the problem for downsizers is that the moving process is inherently disruptive to their habits and patterns of living.

It’s fascinating how we humans are wired emotionally and bond to the places where we live.

Here are a few pointers for downsizers:

1. Seek an ally to help you begin the downsizing process.

It can take up to 24 hours of work to de-clutter the average-sized room. To avoid becoming sidetracked, many home sellers need an ally to help them view their possessions objectively and let go of things they can’t take with them when they move.

When you have to downsize, your whole life is upside-down. It’s tremendously stressful. So it’s good to have someone there with you to help you stay focused and create an organized strategy.

2. Ask family members if they want some of your memorabilia.

Older downsizers often hang onto nostalgic items they believe their grown children might want someday. But many parents believe their offspring will want many more things than they do, including their childhood storybooks and elementary school sports trophies.

Typically, Mom and Dad hang on to things the kids don’t really want.  Downsizers should ask grown children what items they value.

3. Make a memory book with photos of your place.

4. Give away functional items you can’t take with you.

As they plow through their property room by room, most downsizers encounter many items that crowd their space. Whenever possible, donations of serviceable items to a nonprofit institution that will put them to good use. For instance, you could donate unused musical instruments to a school serving low-income families.

It can be incredibly rewarding to know your excess belongings will meet the needs of others rather than get tossed in the trash.

For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor.

The Pueblo Cheiftan

Caregiver Dementia – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

For years, we’ve read that Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. That’s not entirely true.

The leading cause is “caregiver dementia,” which strikes an estimated 100 million overwhelmed and stressed-out caregivers worldwide. The term was used initially in the 1980s, and while not an official medical diagnosis, it includes symptoms such as disorientation, forgetfulness and depression.

Stressful conditions produce high levels of the hormone cortisol, which, over time, may contribute to memory loss. Think about it: You’re working long hours, you see no end in sight and you’re exhausted. Who can think straight under those conditions?

A 2010 Utah study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society of 1,221 couples tracked for 12 years found that seniors caring for a husband or wife with dementia had six times the risk of getting dementia as members of the general population. Surprisingly, men were most susceptible, facing double that risk.

Some Dementias Are Reversible

Even undiagnosed urinary tract infections may lead to sudden behavior changes such as confusion, agitation, withdrawal or delirium.

Medicines will also have varying effects, as we grow older. As we age, our liver and kidneys don’t work as efficiently resulting in a buildup over time of unprocessed medications. These chemicals become toxic leading to dementia symptoms or delirium.

Which leaves us with caregiver dementia.

Until caregivers are able to take proactive steps to overcome feelings of hopelessness resulting from the stress of caring for another person, they’ll continue to endure embarrassing and even scary moments.

Caregivers Will Overcome

The onset of caregiver dementia is real and it strikes primary caregivers. Those who heed the call and take action will survive.

But there’s more to being a caregiver than just surviving. We need to apply both legs of our “caring” and “giving” nature to overcome and thrive. We start with a break. As little as a five-minute respite can make all the difference. Ultimately, we’ll need help. Today, caregivers have a variety of options to choose from, including in-home and adult day care, residential care and assisted living. The only other cure is to stop caregiving, and this is not an option for many.

For more information on Alzheimer’s Care for loved ones, contact Spring Arbor.

US News - Health

Caring for Yourself While Caring for Someone With Alzheimer’s is Important – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 11, 2016

It is important to remember just how important it is for caregivers to care for themselves and participate in activities that bring them joy.

Why is this important? Because caregiver burnout is real and can inadvertently lead to losing the very person providing care due to their own neglected health, financial strains and other accompanying problems. In a recent study, caregiver "strain" was associated with a 63% increased mortality risk, even after controlling for presence of cardiovascular disease and sociodemographic factors. Caregivers might even be at higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than non-caregivers.

According to 2015 figures, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the 5th leading cause of death for Americans over age 65. With an increase in the number of diagnoses comes an increase in the need for care provided by caregivers. In 2015 alone, 15 million Americans dedicated over 18 billion hours and provided $221.3 billion worth of caregiving services. Yet, when asked to spend just a few dollars or hours on their own care, caregivers often initially react with resistance.

In recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, here is advice on how to avoid burnout and minimize caregiver-related stress.

Caregivers have found these tips helpful:

  • Seek help, whether it's professional or informal from family, friends or religious institutions. You don’t have to do this alone.
  • Connect with your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or similar organizations to inquire about caregiver resources, like grants to pay for respite programs.
  • If employed, speak with your HR department and ask about family or other leave policies. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 can be used to secure time to care for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • Let go of little details (e.g. your mom wants to wear rain boots on a sunny day) and celebrate small victories (e.g. she is dressed and arrives for an appointment). This is a point I emphasize often; in the daily life of an Alzheimer’s caregiver, letting go of what one thinks should be happening will reduce stress.
  • Choose an enjoyable activity as effortless as ordering a cup of coffee. Say, “Will I have a small, medium or large?”

Commit to one small thing daily, a medium monthly and a large annually.

  • Small: Take a 15-minute walk, listen to music or practice meditation.
  • Medium: Go out for a meal/movie, secure reliable help, say yes to family/friends offering to help or attend support group meetings.
  • Large: Book a day at the spa, secure a stay at a respite program for your loved one or go on a cruise.

Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s has been described by caregivers as "‘my honor; my job." Our job, in addition to helping the patient diagnosed with dementia, is making sure caregivers don’t forget their care.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


US News - Health

Reasons All Senior Living Communities Should Offer Memory Care Services - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 07, 2016

As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, senior living providers are realizing that residents who are not necessarily considered to have cognitive impairment may very well need some level of memory care and related assistance. As such, is memory care becoming a necessary component of all seniors housing and care facilities? A look at current development trends coupled with rapidly changing demographics suggests the answer is yes.

1. Demographics. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight people aged more than 65 years has some form of dementia. Further, nearly half of seniors aged 85 or more years and older have it. Compounding this trend is the fact that by 2030, the population of seniors is expected to double, reaching 74 million.

2. Industry trends. According to a survey of nearly 300 leaders at seniors housing and care facilities, a majority of respondents (61%) believed that Alzheimer's/memory care would experience the most growth in 2016 as compared with the rest of the acuity spectrum.

3. Medical and technological advances. As medical advances and technology continue to develop, seniors have the ability to be cared for at home, or take care of themselves, for a longer amount of time than in the past. Therefore, by the time potential residents think about moving into senior living communities, it often is because they don't have another option. Older adults increasingly are choosing senior living communities as a last resort once they no longer can remain at home. Thus, the acuity level of seniors entering these communities has increased significantly from where it has been historically. In many cases, seniors are forced to enter communities due to memory care-related issues such as wandering or loss of mental cognition.

4. Financial opportunity. Seniors housing and care providers that fail to provide memory care services stand to lose residents to competitors that do. If a resident at an assisted living community begins to need memory support services but the community does not offer it, then the resident likely will have to move to a new community. Or, if the resident stays, then expenses to care for him or her will be much higher than for a typical assisted living resident, thus negatively affecting a company's bottom line.

5. No time to waste. Caring for higher-acuity residents is not simple. Providing memory care-related services necessitates increased staff training and labor costs, as well as increased regulatory oversight. The training and development of staff is a critical component to success in the memory care segment, and those operators that are ahead of the curve in this respect will benefit in the future.

Spring Arbor assisted living offers memory care as well. For more information, contact us.


How to Decide on a Home for Your Retirement – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 04, 2016

Members of the baby boom generation are now moving into their 60s and approaching retirement – a process that brings with it a host of confusing choices and decisions. For many, the first question is often, “Where will I live when I retire?”

Most healthy retirees begin by taking some time to study their options and make a plan. Here are some of the many options.

1. Stay where you are. People who love their home, their neighborhood and their friends may decide to stay – at least, until there’s a good reason to move. But it’s important to be realistic. A big family home can become a burden to its residents as they age. But many empty nesters have hired expert remodelers to adapt their home to make it easy to use and maintain. Stairs often become a problem, but moving the master bedroom and the laundry room to the ground floor can be part of a solution that gives such retirees many more years in the home they love.

2. Downsize. If the current home isn’t easily adaptable, it may make sense to look around for a smaller, newer home – one designed to be easy to live in and take care of. Many retirees look for such homes in one of the two varieties of age-restricted communities: those where most residents are age 55 or older, or those where everyone is 62 or older. And other suitable homes can be found in all-age communities. And don’t forget apartment or condo living – a perfect option for retirees who don’t want to worry about home maintenance, or who plan to spend a lot of time traveling.

3. Stay nearby, move to an area near adult children and grandchildren or head for a better climate. Research shows that most retirees who move prefer to stay nearby, either in the same town, the same county or the same state. But others look at the move as a liberating opportunity to do something completely different. Some even retire to another country, where the cost of living is lower. Younger retirees often consider moving to communities that focus on an active lifestyle, with enhanced opportunities for continuing education, cultural events or physical fitness programs that foster continuing wellness. In the past, people looked to the sunny Southern states for such communities. But these days, smart builders are locating such active-adult communities even in Northern states.

4. Plan for a smooth transition. Another choice for those who like to plan ahead is a community that offers many living situations. Most have independent cottages or apartments for active younger residents, assisted living options for residents who need some help, and skilled nursing care for residents who become frail or ill. In such a community, a resident can move from one to another with a minimum of disruption.

For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor.