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Senior Assisted Living Blog

How to Prepare to Downsize Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Friday, August 24, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADownsizing your home isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. Couples usually hatch a plan well before they start the process.

Preparing for the eventual move takes time. Part of downsizing means clearing the clutter that has accumulated over the years. That process should begin well before the move, at least six months and as long as year, and preferably soon after the last of the children depart for their own lives.

Plan ahead. Clean out the closet. Have your kids come and help. Focus on things that matter and get rid of things you don't need.

Memories of good times had at the home may keep an older couple attached to the larger home longer than needed. Real estate advisers recommend taking photos of the old home, or just gather a photo album — hard copies or digital — to lessen the anxiety over the transition.

Downsizing can lead to fewer expenses

Lowering expenses is another major reason for downsizing. A smaller space will usually trim monthly utility expenses or eliliminate them completely. Additionally, by downsizing the property tax bill could be also be trimmed or eliminated, depending on your choice of community.

Many Baby Boomers are trimming their floor space or moving to one-story structures.

There are other advantages to downsizing other than skipping the stairs.

Is your home mortgage-free? If it is, you may be able to downsize, and pull some money out of the transaction.

Should you rent or buy your home?

Then there's another determination: To rent to to buy? Much depends on individual circumstance, projected retirement income and personal choice.

Renting and owning have their unique advantages and disadvantages.

For many older adults, homeownership represents a vital safety net.

At the same time, homeowners face the physical demands and financial burden of maintaining their properties. More significantly, owners must pay property taxes, insurance costs, and association fees if applicable.

Should you move where your grandkids are?

The most difficult part of the downsizing decision: Do you move away from the community in which you've made a large part of your life?

Whether mature homeowners remain in the region or depart for other areas is usually determined by where the children and grandchildren are located.

A sellers market exists in a large portion of the region, with inventory of available home down 20 percent in the past year. This makes buying more challenging and senior communities more enticing to many.

If priced correctly, a home could bring multiple offers.

For more information on downsizing, contact Spring Arbor.


Who Needs Memory Care? Ten Questions to Think About

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SCWhen symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementia first appear, they might be mistaken for normal aging. When symptoms progress, caregivers might be unsure about whether memory care is needed. It’s important to know that early intervention can lessen symptoms and delay progression of the disease. Medication and other therapies can help people live at home safely and comfortably for longer. Visiting a primary care doctor about the symptoms can be life-changing. Eventually though, a person with dementia will probably need 24-hour supervision. This usually becomes essential for their own well-being and the safety of others.

Here are questions to consider if you’re wondering whether a loved one should move to a memory care home.

  1. Has he or she gotten lost in previously familiar territory, as when taking a walk in their neighborhood or running errands?
  2. Can your loved one state their phone number and address in case they need help returning home?
  3. Does the person forget to lock their doors, making themselves vulnerable to crime?
  4. Have they forgotten to turn off a stove or other potentially dangerous appliance?
  5. In case of fire, do you believe he or she would handle the situation safely?
  6. Has your loved one’s level of personal care declined? For example, are they “not themselves” in terms of bathing, dressing or eating?
  7. Is he or she taking medications as scheduled? Are you confident they’ll take the correct dosages?
  8. Has he or she become uncharacteristically suspicious or fearful of others?
  9. As a caregiver, are you risking your own health? Are your caregiving duties interfering too much with your other responsibilities?
  10. Could your family pay for the amount of skilled in-home care or adult day care required? A limited amount of respite care could be available for free or at low cost. If extensive help is needed though, a memory care facility could be more affordable.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


Questions to Ask About Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Monday, August 13, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SCWhen touring an assisted living center, you’ll be on the lookout for standards of cleanliness and personal interaction. Eating a meal at the facility can be a great way to start gaining an insider’s view — so if possible, arrange an interview over lunch or dinner at the facility. It’s also helpful to observe a class or facilitated social activity. Here are some suggested questions.

Questions Related to the Home / Facility

  1. How many people live at the home? What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
  2. Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor?
  3. What are the apartment and room choices? Do you have a full apartment with kitchen?
  4. Do you have a private bath? Will you share an apartment?
  5. Does the residence have its own dog or cat? Can residents bring their own pets? What are the restrictions with pets?
  6. Can residents bring their own furniture and decor? What furnishings are provided?
  7. Is there a separate thermostat in your room? Is there plenty of natural lighting?
  8. What is the view like? Is there enough closet and storage space? Are kitchen cabinets easy to reach?

Questions Related to the People

  1. Talk to the residents and staff? Does the staff seem to genuinely care?
  2. Would you enjoy sharing meals with the residents? Do you share common interests?
  3. Are the residents somewhat independent? Is there social activity in the common areas?
  4. Do the residents seem happy?

Questions Related to the Safety

  1. Is staff there around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured?
  2. Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms?
  3. Are registered nurses on staff? What are their hours? If an RN isn’t on duty 24/7, it’s important to know the center’s protocol in case of nighttime emergencies.
  4. Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways?
  5. Are the hallways and doorways wide sufficient for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?

Questions Related to the Amenities

  1. Is there a monthly events calendar posted? Are the spiritual services on-site?
  2. Does the facility have a space for outdoor recreation? If so, make sure that the area looks inviting but is guarded against trespassers.
  3. Are there transportation schedules for errands and medical appointments?
  4. What social activities, classes and field trips are facilitated by the staff?
  5. Crafts room? Computers and printers? Massage therapy? Swimming pool? Convenience shop?
  6. Is the community near a beauty/hair salon and barber? Library? Grocery store? Movies? Mall?

Other Considerations / Questions

  1. Is there a meal menu and can choose when to eat? Do the menu selections vary from day to day?
  2. Ask to see the facility’s licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.
  3. Ask to see a copy of the resident agreement which spells out the facility’s obligations. And it will list the charge of items that are extra like laundry service. How close are you to friends and relatives? Are they allowed to stay overnight?
  4. What is the staff to patient ratio? A good ratio for fairly independent residents is 1 to 15. In some smaller facilities, the staff will perform all the duties while in larger communities there is a separation. What is the staff turnover rate? Rates in the double digits could indicate a problem.
  5. If a resident becomes more disabled can the facility accommodate those needs?
  6. Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.
  7. What are the move-out criteria? When might a senior be asked to leave?

For more information on assisted living or memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


Signs Your Loved One May Need Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 09, 2018

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCBelow is a checklist of things to look for next time you visit your parent to help determine if there are physical or mobility problems where assisted living could help. If you think your family member may be dealing with cognitive issues or memory-loss check out the checklist on recognizing potential mental impairment issues.

1. Does your family member's skin feel soft and have a normal color?

Dry, cracked skin can be a sign of dehydration. Prolonged dehydration can have serious consequences for the elderly. Skin should feel supple and not appear red or irritated. Also, be on the lookout for unusual tearing or bruising. Wounds heal more slowly with age and put seniors at greater risk for infection. Bruising may indicate balance or vision problems - your family member may be bumping into furniture or doors they can't see.

2. Can your family member see clearly?

Vision loss can be a significant barrier to remaining independent. Your family member may no longer be able to drive safely which impacts their ability to go food shopping or attend doctor's appointments. They may no longer be able to read their medications and may not be taking their medications in the right dosages. Pay attention to whether a senior can read street signs or labels or are able to read newspaper or books.

3. Can your family member hear you?

Loss of hearing can significantly decrease a senior's quality of life. Hearing aids may be required for the senior to understand instructions from doctors or pharmacists, or even more importantly, hear smoke or fire alarms. When you speak with your family member, are they able to understand you at a normal tone of voice? Do they respond if you call them and their back is turned toward you? Many hearing-impaired seniors read lips as a way of communicating which can sometimes mask problems.

4. Is there food in the refrigerator?

The amount of healthy, fresh food in the home is a good indicator of whether a senior is well nourished and able to accomplish basic tasks such as cooking and grocery shopping. You should check to see if the refrigerator or pantry is well stocked with nutritious items, and that containers have current expiration dates. Make sure food does not smell bad or have mold growing on it. You should determine if your family member can properly navigate the kitchen and safely handle potentially hazardous appliances.

5. Are medications current and being taken regularly?

Mixing up or not taking prescribed medications can severely impact a senior's health. Take note of the number of medications and whether or not they are prescribed by several physicians. Risk of taking the wrong medication increases with a higher number of medications or doctors. Check to make sure the medications are not expired. This could indicate that your family member has not been keeping their regular doctor's appointments. Professional assisted care can help prevent potentially devastating mix-ups and make sure your family member is attending their scheduled appointments.

If, after analyzing the situation, you feel that your loved one may need assisted living services, there are many long-term care options available which will allow them to remain independent within a safe setting.

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


Making Downsizing Easier

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 02, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SCAs homeowners near retirement age, downsizing becomes a more frequent discussion. The idea of selling your larger home and moving into something more manageable and financially friendly is appealing. But, there is also a fair amount of apprehension — probably because you’ve heard horror stories of downsizing gone wrong.

To make sure your experience is a successful one, avoid these common mistakes.

Not Planning Ahead

Downsizing requires a lot of physical and mental energy. Anyone over age 50 should start thinking through their future plans sooner, rather than later.

Many homeowners are forced to downsize after a major life event...maybe the death of a spouse or a sudden health issue. These events are stressful enough without adding in a complicated move.

Remember that downsizing effectively comes down to time and thoughtful consideration. If you don’t plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time, you’ll end up making mistakes.

Cleaning Out Your Possessions All At Once

It’s not likely that you’ll be able to fit everything you own into your new home. As part of the planning process, make sure to leave yourself time to critically go through your belongings. The key to is to purge things you don’t need without getting rid of things you do need. This sounds simple, but for many of us it’s not.

Keep any items you currently use or use seasonally, and sell or give away items that no longer have a practical purpose. To make it easy, follow the one-year rule: if you haven’t used a particular item in the last year, you’re unlikely to use it at all.

Also, look carefully at the layout and space in your new home to determine what furniture pieces will work. For instance, you may be able to keep your dining room table, but the accompanying hutch probably won’t fit in the new space. It’s better to make these big decisions before you move so you don’t end up paying to haul or store extra furniture.

Prioritize comfort over things. It will be impossible to enjoy your new home when it’s crammed full of ill-fitting possessions.

Decluttering is definitely a difficult and emotional task for many homeowners because so many possessions involve memories. To make it a bit easier, consider giving items to friends and family. It can be comforting knowing cherished belongings are going to someone you love. For anything left over, schedule a pickup with an organization like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which accepts donated furniture and then sells it and uses the proceeds to build homes for those in need.

Not Considering Lifestyle

A big mistake many transitional buyers make is not considering their needs and lifestyle. Imagine that you get all settled into your new place only to find out you can no longer take part in the hobbies you love, or you realize that amenities you were used to are now farther away. This already difficult and emotional move will soon become a very negative experience.

Not Setting Expectations for Children

The downsizing process can often be just as emotional for adult children as it is for the homeowners, especially if they grew up in the home. Convissor says every family dynamic is different, but he’s had several experiences with clients whose children were resistant to the change.

Start the conversation with them early, and involve them in the process as much as possible. But, be careful not to let their emotions about the house stop you from making the right decision for your future.

For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor.