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Senior Assisted Living Blog

North Carolina is One of the Best States To Retire – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCMany of us long for a retirement that will feel like going on a permanent vacation. But before we buy that beach bungalow, box up our stuff and break out the Costco-sized wine spritzers, a reality check may be in order.

Bankrate’s latest ranking of the best and worst states to retire finds the fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement may have drawbacks as we face aging issues and our savings dwindle. Retiree meccas like Florida and Arizona don’t come close to cracking our top 10.

#20 North Carolina

Many do want to retire somewhere else - It’s no myth that many people dream of moving in retirement. A new Bankrate survey shows that 47% of Americans would consider relocating when they retire. Higher-earning households and younger people are more likely to say so than everyone else.

According to our poll, Americans’ priorities for a retirement haven suggest they’re giving a lot of thought to practical considerations like cost of living and health care.

How we rate the states

To rank the states according to what people say they want in retirement, we pull together data on these eight criteria:

  • Cost of living
  • Healthcare quality
  • Crime
  • Cultural vitality
  • Weather
  • Taxes
  • Senior citizens’ overall well-being
  • The prevalence of other seniors

Two of our categories are new: cultural vitality (whether residents can find fun stuff to do) and the prevalence of other seniors (whether it would be easy to find other retirees to hang out with).

We weight the factors based on the importance they were given in our survey.

For more information on assisted living in Greensboro, NC, contact Spring Arbor.


'Smart' Senior Living System Implemented at 5 Spring Arbor Communities

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Arbor, NC, MDResidents at five of HHHunt's Spring Arbor senior living communities now can control their apartment thermostats and lighting, share photos and messages with friends and family members, check the weather, play games, sign up for community events and more from tablet devices that are part of K4Connect's K4Community platform.

Two Spring Arbor communities in the Raleigh, NC, market had been testing the system for the past two years, Rich Williams, senior vice president of Spring Arbor told McKnight's Senior Living.

K4Connect “really jumped in with both feet and spent a lot of time in our communities, getting to know the residents' daily routine, what frail seniors in their 70s and 80s are doing on a daily basis, what their capabilities are, what the expectations are, how the families interact, how the employees interact — the whole A to Z issues as it pertains to the life of a resident in independent living and assisted living,” he said.

Before the recent rollout, K4 enhanced the platform based its observations and the feedback it received during the pilot, Williams added.

Families also can be part of the K4Community by logging onto the platform through a dedicated portal managed by K4, he said. Spring Arbor educates residents and families on how to use the technology and its potential benefits as part of the communities' wellness and activities programming.

“What a lot of people forget in independent living and assisted living is that residents come in because they have some sort of healthcare need,” Williams said. “Medication management, meals, housekeeping services — all those things on a daily basis are good things that really improve their health and well-being, but what you forget about is the social interaction piece.”

In addition enabling residents to control their thermostats and lights and communicate with family members, he said, the platform has increased socialization among residents.

“They're sharing moments of joy with other residents, and that really stimulates all of the residents, and they all start being socially interactive with each other through this common platform that they're using with friends and family outside of the community,” Williams said.

Residents even have set up friendly competitions related to the number of steps they take every day, he said, explaining that they wear pedometers and the tablets keep track of their steps. “It provides a little bit of fun while at the same time getting some real wellness and therapeutic activity happening,” Williams said.

Residents also share photos from family with staff members, creating another opportunity for employees to bond with residents, he said. “It creates job satisfaction for our teammates as well as the socialization piece for residents and family members,” Williams said.

Just as important, the technology includes a safety component; through dashboards, staff members can monitor who is using the tablets, he said. “If we start seeing signs of lack of use, then we can look into that and make sure there's nothing else going on that's impacting that resident's ability to use it,” Williams said. “You never know — they could be avoiding it because they're scared of it, or they could be avoiding it because they're not feeling well.”

And staff can monitor movement via bed sensors. “If we're seeing the resident getting up frequently at night, that could mean a sleep disorder or UTI or some other thing that might be going on that's prohibiting them from getting a good night's sleep, which is very important to their health and well-being,” he said.

The integrated reporting and management system also enables staff members to access data that provide building management insights. Accommodating the new technology wasn't cheap, Williams said. Spring Arbor had to update its older buildings, he explained.

“The thermostats need to be changed out to have the wireless capability, light switches need to be changed out to dimmer switches, light bulbs need to be changed out to dimmable bulbs and that sort of thing,” Williams said. Also, he added, Wi-Fi needed to be upgraded to ensure that residents are able to use the tablets in all areas of the building.

“It's not a cheap investment, but we see it as part of the amenities package that we offer with the monthly rent,” Williams said.

“The feedback has been very, very positive from residents who have fully engaged with it. ...and the families really love it that it's there to use,” he added, noting that residents especially like the ability to see photos shared by family members.

The five communities in which Spring Arbor has implemented the platform are in North Carolina and Maryland. The company has plans to expand the rollout to four additional communities in Virginia and North Carolina in the coming months. Spring Arbor has a total of 22 communities.

“We have been extremely excited by the resident response at each of the Spring Arbors,” Scott Moody, CEO and chief client advocate of K4Connect, said in a statement.

For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor.


Finding Senior Living Options with Levels of Care – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCFinding the right senior living option takes research, thought and time. As you venture off to seek different options, it’s a good idea to consider how many moves will actually have to take place through your golden years.

Finding the right place ensures that each transition in care is going to be convenient for you and your family. As we age, it’s natural to need increased levels of care to accommodate your individual needs.

Ensure peace of mind knowing that you have access to a full transition in care every step of the way, no matter the intensity of level of care that is required. As you discover the benefits of a health care campus, you may find that a continuum of care is extended; and includes both services and basic mechanisms that involve health care coordination.

The array of services and settings include care coordination, planning, management, housing options, skilled nursing, outpatient services, inpatient services, physicians, on-site registered nurse, assisted living, independent living, and home health services.

A continuity of health care maximizes each individual’s independence, and overall functioning, while increasing quality of life. For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


GV News

What is Dementia and Can I Prevent It? Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Arbor, Alzheimer's Disease, Richmond, VAWhat is dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and well-known type; however, “dementia is a blanket term that describes multiple different conditions that cause cognitive impairment. In all cases, the patient experiences memory loss and the inability to care for themselves eventually, but each type of dementia has its own specific set of symptoms.

Vascular dementia: Occurs as a result of vascular compromise such as stroke

Lewy Body dementia: Occurs as a result of nerve cell abnormalities

Frontotemporal dementia: Occurs after damage has been sustained to the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain, commonly from traumatic head injuries

*Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other types of nerve cell diseases also can cause dementia.

Unlike other types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by unknown factors. However, it’s most closely tied to age. By the time someone is 80 years old, they have a 50 percent chance of showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Can I prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a number that could rise to 16 million by 2050. It’s a very costly disease that requires full-time memory care. The burdens it places on the health care industry and families affected are astronomical.

While the mechanism in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s is unknown, the most common risk factors are age, family history and a medical history of heart problems, which affect blood flow to the brain. Without a cure, it’s vital that people take steps toward prevention.

Steps to help decrease your risk

  • Do the following throughout your lifetime:
  • Decrease heart stressors.
  • Be proactive about treating/preventing heart disease and diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, decrease alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
  • Maintain daily physical activity.
  • Avoid medications that can affect brain and memory function. These include some sleep medications and frequent use of antihistamines.
  • Keep the brain active by engaging in problem-solving, puzzles, languages, reading and writing.
  • Remain socially active.
  • Avoid processed foods and seek brain-healthy foods such as almonds and walnuts.

Coping with a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

Alzheimer’s is a family disease. It affects people in varying ways, and coping with a close family member who is experiencing cognitive decline can be very difficult.

The most important fact to remember is that they’re not doing it on purpose, and they’re not crazy. They need support and patience. You cannot change the disease; you can help by adapting to it as best you can.

Use “therapeutic lies” when necessary. For example, if a patient with Alzheimer’s is continually asking about his deceased mother, you don’t need to correct him. It may be OK to tell him his mother will call later, or that she left a loving message earlier. Reminding the patient that his loved one is deceased will only upset and confuse him, and it’s not helpful to attempt to reacquaint him with reality in these instances.

It is important that family members fight feelings of guilt if they need to put their loved one in a care home. If it has to be done, it has to be done. Your health and emotional wellness are important too.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

Excerpts -

Planning for Assisted Living – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 07, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCMaking the decision for yourself or for a loved one to move into an assisted living community can be a very difficult decision. It can feel additionally overwhelming trying to find the community that is right for you or your loved one’s care needs, preferences and more.

Here are some of the “most frequently asked questions” that are encountered.

Start the Senior Living Conversation before Crisis Mode

Most incoming calls to senior living communities come in a form of a crisis. Many people do not want to give up their autonomy or their home, but then find themselves in a situation when they begin needing more help than family or friends can provide. Family members usually initiate these calls. Adult children often wish they had been proactive in preparing their parents for a change in their living situation. Waiting causes more stress on them, as well as on the family. Engage in open communication with your loved one regarding their thoughts on how they see themselves living their lives as they age. Also, try to be realistic. Staying home alone may not always be an option, even with in-home care.

One of the most important reasons to start the senior living conversation early is to help begin the transition out of the home. Conversations should include what items in their home have sentimental or monetary value. Also, ask your loved one what aspects of their living they would like to maintain as they move to a new home. What will they miss the most? Do they value their space, and may like to have a garage or large apartment? What does independence look like to them? Do they have strong social circles? These questions are important to ask when finding the perfect living situation for your loved one.

Get on a Waiting List if Needed

The second most common question is availability. Most calls are received from family members when their loved one needs to move in immediately. That can be challenging for any assisted living community to accommodate, as a room may not be available. Be proactive and get on a waiting list before you find yourself in a crisis situation. Especially if you find the perfect assisted living facility that meets you and your loved ones needs.

Learn About Assisted Living Payment Options

It is a common myth that Medicare pays for assisted living. This is not the case. The cost of care can be high. Start looking at finances to see if your parents can afford a higher level of care. Sit down with the administrators of assisted living facilities early in your search to discuss viable payment options.

If your loved one decides to stay in his/her home, there are many resources in the community to help make that possible. These resources can help you with transportation, food, medical care, companionship, respite care and more. Contact the Area Agency on Aging and use their knowledge as a resource guide for your care needs. The goal for thosewho work in the senior living environment or have aging loved in ones is to ensure that individuals have the best care possible, with little impact on their quality of life. Understanding what “quality of life” means to you or your loved one is an important factor in determining the ideal living situation.

For more information on assisted living for your loved ones, contact Spring Arbor.