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Senior Living Memory Care Richmond VA Blog

Alzheimer’s: Dealing with the Issue of Driving

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 02, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADriving calls for quick reaction time and fast decision making. This is why a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia will eventually become unable to drive. Dealing with the issue early on can help ease the transition.

Caregivers should take time to discuss the issue in a caring way, understanding how unhappy the person may be to admit that he or she has reached this stage.

A person with some memory loss may be able to drive safely sometimes. But, he or she may not be able to react quickly when faced with a surprise on the road. Someone could get hurt or killed. If the person's reaction time slows, you need to stop the person from driving.

Here are some other things to know about driving and memory loss:

The person may be able to drive short distances on local streets during the day but may not be able to drive safely at night or on a freeway. If this is the case, then limit the times and places the person can drive.

Some people with memory problems decide on their own not to drive, while others may deny they have a problem.

Signs that the person should stop driving include new dents and scratches on the car. You may also notice that the person takes a long time to do simple errands and cannot explain why, which may indicate that he or she got lost.

Here are some ways to stop people with Alzheimer's disease from driving:

Try talking about your concerns with the person.

Take him or her to get a driving test.

Ask your doctor to tell him or her to stop driving. The doctor can write, "Do not drive" on a prescription pad, and you can show this to the person. Hide the car keys, move the car, take out the distributor cap, or disconnect the battery.

Find out about services that help people with disabilities get around their community. These services may include free or low-cost buses, taxi service, and carpools.

If the person with Alzheimer's disease won't stop driving, ask your state Department of Motor Vehicles about a medical review or contact the person's physician.

For information on Alzheimer's and Dementia care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.


Herald Dispatch

Avoid Disagreements on the Best Care for Parents

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAIn most sibling relationships there have no doubt been disagreements over the years. So it will be no surprise when there are different ideas on the best way to help aging parents.

According to a study, 7 in 10 caregivers said other family members had pitched in from time to time. But only 1 in 10 reported that the responsibility was shared equally or without conflict.

Experts say that when faced with important caregiving decisions, siblings often slip back into old family roles causing heated discussions and arguments. However, the experience of caring for an elderly parent can actually foster a closeness between brothers and sisters. Here's how:

1. Call a family meeting before a crisis occurs. If your parent's health deteriorates rapidly, there will be tough issues that you don't want to deal with under pressure. Look for signs of decline: Unpaid bills; missed appointments; a dirty or cluttered home; disheveled appearance. These are all red flags that it's time to get together. Plan to meet at least once a week so everyone is up-to-date on what's happening and what's needed.

2. Have an open mind. Leave childhood labels and emotional baggage at the door: You may be the oldest, but that doesn't mean you know more than the youngest who may live down the street from the parents. If at any point the conversation gets heated, table the discussion for 30 minutes and begin again.

3. Define each person's role but keep it fluid. Usually whoever lives closest to an aging parent, or has fewer work and family obligations, will take on the most caregiving duties. But there are many other jobs to do. Who's going to pay bills? Go grocery shopping and clean the bathroom? Schedule doctor appointments, social activities and other important visits?

4. Consider hiring a mediator. How to pay for care is often a trigger for tension. These arguments must be resolved since they affect so many other decisions: Where the person will live, whether a particular medical intervention is needed and whether a housekeeper is affordable. You'll need to sift through information on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance policies to figure out what services are covered and by whom. If conversations quickly become confrontations, a therapist, social worker, clergyman or attorney with experience dealing with these issues can keep ideas flowing and focused on goals.

5. Show your gratitude. Be a sounding board for the primary caregiver and each other and check in regularly to show your support and appreciation. Offer whatever assistance you can. Visit often to relieve the primary caregiver.

For information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.



Assisted Living and Finding the Right Level of Care

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 14, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAYour parent or loved on is getting older. Now is the time to discuss the possibility of assisted living with family members. One of the most difficult decisions a family faces is when to move an elderly family member into specialized housing.

How to start the search can be overwhelming, but if you follow certain steps, the search can be more manageable.

One of the first questions you must answer is what kind of care your family member needs.

There are essentially four different levels of care offered by senior living communities, and it’s important to understand what each offers.

Independent living is for seniors who don’t require assistance. Independent living is usually offered in either apartment or cottage settings and generally includes meals, housekeeping and social events.

Assisted living is for seniors needing assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating.

Memory support/dementia care is for seniors with cognitive decline because of Alzheimer’s or other diseases.

Skilled nursing care is for seniors in the end stage of life who require care 24 hours a day.

In addition, there are senior living communities and assisted living homes that offer multiple levels of care on the same campus in what is called a continuing care retirement community.

A senior living community will want to assess your loved one’s needs before they move in because one of the most difficult things for family members is to be objective about is the condition that their parents are in.

Here are other steps you should follow in choosing the correct senior housing:

Start early. Even if you think you won’t need senior care for a long time, learning about local communities and their pricing and amenities can make it easier when you decide to move you loved one. Also, there are advantages to moving into senior housing before there’s a crisis.

Visit the communities. This is critical. There’s no better way to get to know a community than spending time there. When you visit, use your senses: sight, smell and hearing.

Also, notice whether residents are clean and how the staff interacts with them. Do they treat them with respect and kindness?

Vary your visits. Visit the place at least twice. If you visit on a weekend, you will get an idea of how the place operates without a lot of management staff there. If you visit during a meal, you will see more of the people who actually live there. You will notice if the staff is very helpful.

When you visit, talk with the families of residents to get their insights.

Understand the costs. Some assisted living communities charge a monthly fee that includes things such as bathing, dressing and dispensing medication, while others charge a base fee and charge extra for “however much care you need.” That may include having meals brought to your home or getting assistance to get to the dining room.

Determine which fee structure best fits your needs and budget. You should also ask: How does the community decide on increases in monthly fees? Does it cap yearly increases?

Ask about health care. Be sure to inquire about how the senior living community will handle your loved one’s medical needs. What hospital will you go to if they call 911.

Are your loved one’s doctors and hospitals within the range of the senior community’s transportation services?

The bottom line is to trust your instincts when deciding on a place for your family member. And never move your loved one into a place that makes you uneasy or doesn’t feel safe.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.


Dallas News

Assisted Living: Mistakes to Avoid When Searching

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAWhen families and seniors select an assisted living community, it’s a life changing decision. It can be such an intimidating choice that many families come down with analysis paralysis and postpone a decision out of fear of making the wrong choice.

Fortunately, the decision becomes easier as you expand your knowledge. It can be equally helpful to know exactly what not to do.

Learn more about eight common mistakes families make when searching for assisted living and how to avoid them:

1. Not Being Realistic About Current or Future Needs

It’s important to balance optimism with a dose of realism. Be realistic about you or your loved one’s current care needs as well as their anticipated needs. Ideally, you will choose a community that is equipped to provide care now and in the future, as loved ones age.

Too often, families come to us for assistance after initially choosing a facility that was not capable of offering the level of services required. Melissa Pratt, A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisor in Boise, Idaho, says, “Take a look at the health issues that your parent has and ask the doctor what support they will need in the future. It’s better to have a community that can handle those future needs rather than having to move your parent to another community in the near future.”

Moving a loved one from facility to facility is not only burdensome and costly to your family, it can also be emotionally and physically detrimental to the senior, particularly when that senior dementia, which can make adapting to changes especially difficult.

2. Judging a Book by its Cover

Sometimes families assume a community is right for their loved one because it has a high price and lavish features, but later realize fancy furniture and beautiful landscaping are not telltale indicators of quality care. They often find that they need to move their loved one to another community, one that’s, perhaps, less shiny but more appropriate in terms of care or atmosphere. Luxury senior living does not necessarily equate to quality senior care. A beautiful, modern and upscale facility is just as prone to oversights and errors as a community that looks a little dated. Quality of care is not something you can discern just by driving past a community to see how green the lawn is, or by poking your head in the lobby-door to gauge the ambiance and whether or not it smells nice.

Longtime A Place for Mom Advisor, Dovid Grossman, who assists families in Chicago says, “Remember to trust your intuition. After doing all the comparison and analysis you can, trust you gut instinct about which option is right.” Experts also suggest that you take time during your visits, if you have the opportunity, to speak privately with residents and staff about their level of satisfaction. Happy staff are caring staff, and a community full of cheerful residents is always a good sign.

Also look into the official backgrounds of the communities that you are exploring. The office of your local Long-term Care Ombudsman (which you can locate at can tell you about documented issues or problems that local communities have had in the past so that you don’t mistakenly choose a community with a history of substandard care or egregious violations.

Before committing to a long-term contract, you might also consider arranging a temporary respite stay at communities your family is exploring. Some communities even offer no-cost trial stays to qualified prospective residents.

3. Choosing a Community to Match Your Tastes Instead of Your Parent’s

Thomas Bierlein, A Place for Mom’s Director of Partner Services, told us about another common pitfall families should avoid. “Often the adult child chooses the place that they like most instead of thinking about what their loved one likes. For example, new chandeliers and a wonderful heated pool when Mom’s house is homey and she never liked swimming.”

Obviously, we encourage families to get their older loved ones as involved as possible in the decisions making process, but if your loved one is too frail or too afflicted with memory loss to participate in the decision making process or to visit communities with you, carefully consider his or her personality and preferences rather than your own as you weigh the options.

4. Overplaying the Importance of Proximity

Another mistake that Bierlein has seen families make is overemphasizing the importance of finding the closest community possible.

He told us, “Sometimes the adult child chooses the nearest community based on the intention of visiting their parent every day, even though another community one mile further away may be a much better fit. Remember that your parent will be engaged in many activities at the community and that visiting every day is usually an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself. Go with the best fit.”

5. Making a Decision Too Quickly

Earlier we noted that some families become so overwhelmed with the choice that they need to make that they don’t make a decision at all. But sometimes, families do the opposite. They are in such a rush to resolve a difficult crisis that they choose the very first open room they find in the very first facility they visit, which is probably even less effective than choosing randomly.

We recommend that families visit at least three communities before making a decision so that they can form a clear picture of the options that are available, how communities differ from one another, and what makes each community unique. After all, in order to make a good choice you need options.

6. Choosing a Community Appropriate for the Parent of Yesteryear Instead of the Parent of Today

In her book for caregivers, A Place for Mom’s spokesperson, Joan Lunden, described a mistake that she made as she searched for care for her mother with advanced dementia, “I first moved my mom into a fancy-schmancy assisted living facility. In my mind, it was a beautiful place where my mom belonged. I thought she would be able to go downstairs to the dining room and be a social butterfly with other Sacramento seniors and then retreat to a beautifully decorated apartment where she could entertain friends. The problem with my well-meaning plan was that I was making arrangements for the mom that I used to know, and not who she had become. My mom now couldn’t remember who people were, would get frightened when taken downstairs to the dining hall, and was afraid of being left alone in an apartment.”

It might be similarly misguided for a family to choose a golf oriented senior community for a father who loved the game when he was younger but now has Alzheimer’s and arthritis and hasn’t played the game in years.

7. Not Reading the Fine Print

Assisted living contracts are relatively straightforward, at least compared to other legal documents, but they still can contain confusing legalese, or involve additional fees that aren’t completely apparent. Some families are caught unprepared by fees or price increases that they would have been aware of had they reviewed their contract.

Assisted living communities have many different types of pricing structures. Make sure you understand yours. Some communities charge one fee for room and board, and a separate fee for care. A community might charge $2,500 per month for the apartment and the meals, and an additional $1,500 per month for personal care. Other communities charge individually for each service or they may rank the level of care that a resident needs on a scale, with care costs based on the level of care the nursing staff determines is needed. Some communities don’t charge a care fee at all, but instead provide an “all inclusive” pricing model whereby resident’s fees are not dependent on the care needed. At a community with all inclusive pricing, a frail resident who requires a high level of care has the same fees as a resident who is mostly or even entirely independent.

In addition to the care fees that many communities charge, when you’re reviewing your contract you may also encounter a one-time entrance fee, a fee for laundry service, medical supplies, medication delivery and so on. Furthermore, communities generally raise their prices at an approximate annual rate of 5%, which is actually twice the rate of inflation. Unless your contract clearly specifies a rent freeze or “locked rate,” your fees increase each time you renew your contract. If there is anything about the contract that you don’t understand or that concerns you, consider reviewing it with an elder attorney.

8. Going In It Alone

Many people pride themselves on their independent spirit, but when making a decision this big, it’s usually wise to gather multiple perspectives on your senior housing options. Get feedback from as many people as possible: friends who have gone through the process, your loved one’s care management team, a geriatric care manager and a Senior Living Advisor.

In Joan Lunden’s account of her search for care for her mother, she relates how, after initially choosing an inappropriate community, she found the perfect home with the help of an advisor, “…I was fortunate to secure the help of a ‘senior advocate,’ a knowledgeable professional who could answer all my questions and who could show me the residential care facilities in the area. This made all the difference in the world. I highly recommend obtaining the services of a senior advocate or eldercare advisor to help you navigate this journey. This kind of professional can help save you hours of time and stress by narrowing your choices to the places that meet your specific needs. They help families evaluate issues such as care requirements, finances, and amenity preferences.”

If you do find that your loved one is living in an inappropriate senior community, don’t be afraid to admit that you may have made the wrong decision. It’s better to pivot and make a change rather than digging into a situation that isn’t going to work out in the long run.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.


A Place for Mom

Habits to Lower Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAA recent study showed that simple activities like cooking, cleaning washing the dishes and exercise are associated with a decreased Alzheimer's disease risk, even among people who are age 80 and older.

People who were the least active each day were two times more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, compared with people who were the most active.

Speak Two Languages

Being bilingual could strengthen your brainpower and protect against dementia. The anticipation of having to speak one of two language at any given time forces the brain to run continually, and results in an experience that helps avoid a mental conflict between languages.

Consume Curcumin

Research in flies suggests that the main compound in turmeric, called curcumin, could have powers against Alzheimer's.

A study suggested that curcumin may work by reducing the amount of oligomers, which are the "precursor" forms of amyloid plaques in the brain.

Do Puzzles

Doing some puzzles and playing games every day could ward off mental decline. Also, life-long reading and game-playing could decrease beta amyloid levels in the brain, which are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.


Elderly people who walk six to nine miles a week could decrease their risk of dementia and brain functioning problems.

in a study, researchers found that people who walked the most had a halved risk of developing the brain problems as people who walked the least in the study.

People age 65 and older who regularly exercise have a decreased risk of vascular dementia.

Eat Your Fish And Nuts

It has been found that eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts and chicken) is linked with lower levels of beta-amyloid protein, which is linked with Alzheimer's disease.

Drink Green Tea

Green tea could have powers against Alzheimer's disease. When green tea is digested, the released compounds have protective effects against Alzheimer's.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.


Huffington Post

Richmond, VA: One of the Best Places to Live in America!

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 01, 2017

Spring Arbor Assisted Living, Richmond, VAWhen deciding where to live during your golden years, many factors are in the eye of the beholder, such as climate, politics, or proximity to extended family.

Other aspects are coveted by nearly everybody: affordable housing, access to well-paying jobs, a low cost of living, and quality healthcare. In its recently released ranking of the best places to live in America, U.S. News & World Report gathered data on these crucial components for the 100 most populous US cities.

They then categorized the data into five indexes for each city — job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration — to definitively rank these major metro areas.

Scores for "value," a blend of annual household income and cost of living, and "quality of life," which accounts for crime, college readiness, commute, and other factors, are included below on a 10-point scale, as well as the city’s population and median annual salary.

28. Richmond, Virginia

Population: 1,234,058
Median annual salary: $47,060
Quality of life: 6.7
Overall value: 7.3

Ripe with American history, Richmond is home to significant historical sites, like the church where Patrick Henry gave the famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech. It's also home to a slew of more modern attractions, including museums, concert venues, restaurants, and two universities: Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.


Alzheimer’s Caregiving Impacts the Work Force - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAIn most businesses in America, the odds are that some of the employees are or have been caretakers for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. This responsibility can impact their work and emotional well-being.

A new poll reveals that 15% of American workers are current or former caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a number that can have wide-reaching effects on work force retention and productivity.

The new poll showed that only 47% of these caregivers were able to maintain their employment while providing care for the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient. This figure shows that the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia on the American work force “simply astounding.”

Caring for a loved one with dementia is an incredible responsibility, and that responsibility obviously has serious consequences on an individual's ability to maintain employment and perform as a professional.

One in eight Americans age 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease, while millions more have another form of dementia. The prevalence of dementia is expanding rapidly as the U.S. population ages. By 2025, the number of people living with Alzheimer's will rise to an estimated 6.7 million – a 30% increase from 2012. Additionally, 15 million people in the U.S. currently provide unpaid care for someone with dementia.

Support Your Caregiver Employees

Caregiving responsibilities significantly affect an individual's ability to perform job responsibilities. Among those who work, or worked, while also providing care:

  • 69% had to modify their schedules.
  • 32% had to take a leave of absence.
  • 26% changed jobs for a less-demanding role.
  • 20% saw their work performance suffer to the point of possible dismissal.
  • 69% said that caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia strained their family finances.
  • 90% characterized their caregiving as emotionally stressful.

This data is a big red flag for business owners. These diseases impact the productivity of one out of every seven American workers right now. That ratio will only increase. Getting support programs in place to help these people cope with the emotional and physical tolls of providing care are decisions that will directly affect the bottom line - and the impact will be greater tomorrow than it is today.

If you need assistance caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond.


Assisted Living: Starting the Conversation – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Spring Arbor, Assisted living in Richmond, VASeeing your parent’s decline is upsetting, especially since it is mostly beyond your control. The final decision about what’s next is ultimately up to the person who will be moving or receiving care,  but it’s up to you to make peace with the fact that your loved one is aging.

Choose action.

Aging and all that accompanies it is inevitable. Too many people waffle in denial, avoid difficult decisions, and quickly find themselves in crisis situations. Making choices in a crisis is far from ideal.

Knowing when to start the search for care is not a hard science. There is no flow chart that says, “If a loved one has A, or shows signs of B, choose C.” Some wait too long, while others jump the gun, suggesting an Alzheimer’s unit the moment a loved one leaves the stove on or misplaces a house key.

The best approach? If you are concerned about a parent or parents, talk to them right away. Share your concerns with compassion, respect, and sensitivity.

Next, establish their preferences (i.e., in-home care or assisted living? small, family-like community setting or large, resort-style campus? a place close to the grandkids or a return to her hometown?). Then, discuss all possibilities before things get worse. The situation may get better, and if it does, you’ll know exactly what to do in the future.

If you have siblings, set up a time that you can all talk together, but make sure parents' wishes are honored above all.

Get a sense for what might be the most appropriate level of care and always let your loved one’s preferences guide the search.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.


When an Aging Parent Does Not Want to Move – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spring Arbor, Assisted Living, Richmond, VAIt can often be very difficult when a parent in need of care refuses to leave their home. There are no magic strategies or tricks for persuading an aging parent to move, but adult children should ask their parent to "indulge" them by visiting an assisted living facility in Richmond, VA.

One psychologist says, "most of us are more likely to change our position and lifestyle if such a transformation is of our own choosing.” “Placed under duress to change, we typically resist, regardless of the soundness of the other person's advice."

And when a parent continually refuses to entertain the idea of moving? The child needs to back off for the time being. But don't give up; seek other ways to raise the issue again.

Unfortunately, sometimes things have to get worse to get better. It may take the parent falling, being spooked, or having the electricity turned off because they forgot to pay the bills for the realization to dawn that they can no longer safely reside in their home. Even then, it may take the strong urgings of health care providers and extended family members for the parent to accept the inevitable.

If the parent begins to show signs of warming up to the topic, you need to emphasize the parent's right of self-determination but also urge action. Structure the conversation in the following way:

Tell your parent: 'I can't make decisions about how you should run your life. It would make me feel better, though, if we could go together to look at some possible assisted living facilities so that you're better informed about what choices are available. Would you be willing to humor me in that way?

If there is a willingness on the parent's part to visit an assisted living residence, you should proceed immediately to set up visits at local senior care homes and point out that most of these facilities will allow an aged individual to try living in them for a week or a month before the person has to decide whether to sell his house and stay in the facility or return home. Experts say that can be the extra bit of comfort that can make the difference for many hesitant seniors.

For more information on assisted living homes, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond.


How Families Can Prepare for Alzheimers Care – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 19, 2017

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VAAlzheimer’s disease is challenging for everyone; for the person diagnosed and for the loved ones who will be caring for them. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is difficult, but with knowledge and support you can better navigate and determine eventual Alzheimer’s care options.

Early stage Alzheimer’s care preparations

It is better to do some Alzheimer’s care preparations sooner rather than later. At first, it may be hard to consider these questions because it means you have to think about your loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. But being prepared early provides a smoother transition for everyone. Include the person with Alzheimer’s in the decision-making process as much as possible or at least try to act on what their wishes would be.

Questions to consider in preparing for Alzheimer’s and dementia care:

Who will make healthcare and/or financial decisions when the person is no longer able to do so? If your loved one is still lucid enough, getting their wishes down on paper means they’ll be preserved and respected by all members of the family. Consider meeting with an elder law attorney to best understand your options. You’ll want to consider power of attorney, both for finances and for healthcare. If the person has already lost capacity, you may need to apply for guardianship/conservatorship.

How will care needs be met? Sometimes other family members assume that a spouse or nearest family member can take on caregiving, but that is not always the case. Caregiving becomes more challenging over time. The person will eventually need round-the-clock care. Communication is essential to make sure that the needs of the Alzheimer’s patient are met, and that the caregiver has the support to meet those needs.

Where will the person live? Is their home appropriate, or is it difficult to access or make safe for later? If the person is currently living alone or far from any family or other support, it may be necessary to relocate or consider a facility with more support.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care facilities, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.