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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Considering Long-Term Care

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 24, 2019

Spring Arbor, NC, VALong-term care is for people who need daily living assistance and/or skilled medical care. The main types of long-term care facilities are assisted living centers and nursing homes. Long-term senior care is also integrated with residency in select retirement communities.

Assisted Living Centers

Assisted living centers are also called personal care homes. Traditionally they’re for people who don’t need skilled nurses, but do need help with personal care tasks such as brushing their teeth and showering. Memory care (specialized caregiving for dementia patients) is available in some personal care homes. Some of these facilities are combined with nursing homes to provide what’s called “a continuum of care.” Nursing homes add skilled medical care.

1. How do people pay for assisted living?

People tend to pay for assisted living with more than one funding source. Spending a few hours with a geriatric planner (or estate planner) could be very valuable.

2. How old are the residents in assisted living centers?

People of all ages might need assisted living, so assisted living centers have different population profiles. Some personal care homes operated by the VA, for instance, are multigenerational and serve soldiers as young as 18.

State laws provide age guidelines for assisted care centers meant especially for seniors. Common age minimums are 55, 62 and 65.

3. What pets are allowed?

Finding an assisted living center that accepts pets is tricky, but an increasing number of assisted living centers are pet-friendly, especially to cats and small dogs. Some offer pet care services such as grooming and walking.

4. How independent are the residents of assisted living centers?

Residents of assisted living centers generally need support with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs) such as getting out of bed, using the toilet or taking a bath. In facilities tailored for memory care, patients get 24-hour supervision for safety against wandering and other dementia-related risks.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.


Questions to Ask Memory Care Centers

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 21, 2019
Spring Arbor, NC, VA

Touring memory care centers, it's best to collect facts and also trust your intuition or “gut feeling.” Here are questions to ask when you visit a facility.

How is the memory care center secured?

This question relates not so much to safety from intrusion, but a resident's safety against exiting the facility. Protecting the residents against “exit-seeking behaviors” is a main benefit of a memory care center. Most facilities have their entrances locked 24/7 and keep any elevators for staff and visitors carefully monitored as well. In some facilities each resident wears a bracelet with an electronic sensor. Additionally a resident can have a personal security alarm on his or her bed and/or wheelchair. A personal security alarm can alert a staff member in case a patient tries to stand up without remembering that they require assistance.

When do residents get exercise and fresh air?

Memory care homes need to guard against exiting, but ideally the residents have a secure outdoor area for getting fresh air and recreation. Circular paths for walking, both inside the facility and outdoors, are common in the best facilities for dementia patients.

Does the facility have structured daily activities?

Structured activities led by skilled nurses and therapists can greatly improve a person's quality of life. In the best facilities each day has a full programming calendar. For example, residents might get art therapy, bake bread and cookies, sing, and visit with a therapy dog. The facilitated activities are designed to help keep residents' minds active and lessen symptoms of decline. This sort of memory care might also help slow the progression of dementia.

Are psychiatric and psychological services provided?

Many memory care centers have staff or visiting specialists to help with residents' psychological needs on a one-on-one basis. These caregivers can provide therapy and help patients establish or adjust a medication regimen as their disease changes.

Do physicians and other medical specialists visit the facility?

Such visits can make life easier by eliminating the patient's need for transportation to a clinic.

What training do the caregivers receive?

Ideally a registered nurse will be on duty 24 hours/day, as residents could have medical emergencies at any time. Ask for the hours of skilled nursing, and also ask about the training that personal caregivers receive. What are the criteria for getting hired? How are staff trained once hired?

What is the ratio of staff to residents?

Memory care costs more than standard nursing home care partly because a higher ratio of staff to residents is needed for safety and comfort. Ask for the staffing ratios for daytime and night.

Does each resident have a customized care plan? Alzheimer's and related diseases develop differently for everyone, so the best care for dementia patients is highly personalized. It's also good to ask whether residents are grouped by cognitive level.

What is the discharge policy?

Residents of a senior facility, like residents of any mainstream apartment complex, can be evicted. This might happen if the resident becomes physically aggressive or otherwise disrupts the community. With memory care patients, disruptive behaviors are more likely regardless of the residents' temperaments when they were more “themselves.” Be sure to ask how the staff is trained to respond in case your loved one or another resident exhibits disruptive behaviors, and get a full understanding of the center's policies for discharge.

What type of care is the facility unable to provide?

Understanding the center's criteria for involuntary discharge can help you understand what sort of care they cannot provide. Also be sure to understand whether they'll be able to continue caring for your loved one if he or she becomes bedridden or needs to use a wheelchair. Some patients would also benefits from Parkinson's therapy and other specific care options.

For more information, contact us.


Garden Therapy for Memory Care Residents

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 14, 2019
Spring Arbor, NC, VA

At Spring Arbor Senior Living, our philosophy is to make every day special for our residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. As a result, we are always discovering new and invigorating ways to engage and stimulate our residents. Our Gardening Therapy program is a prime example!

Research shows that access to the outdoors and physical activity are both extremely beneficial for adults living with memory loss. Our Gardening Therapy program exercises the mind and body and stimulates the senses. Gardening has many other benefits such as lowering blood pressure and stress levels, building confidence, creating a sense of purpose and more.

Signature programs such as Gardening Therapy bring unparalleled quality and dignity to the lives of our residents while simultaneously inspiring confidence, trust and peace of mind for loved ones. Our Coordinators treat each resident as an extension of their own families and are committed to providing them with a high quality of life.

It’s how you live that matters and this philosophy applies to our memory care residents. Learn more about Spring Arbor’s innovative programs by contacting us


Alzheimer's Disease Signs and Symptoms

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Spring Arbor, NC, VA

Alzheimer's disease attacks the brain, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer's is a form of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

What are the symptoms?

Memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms, along with a gradual decline of other intellectual and thinking abilities, called cognitive functions, and changes in personality or behavior.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, language deterioration, impaired ability to mentally manipulate visual information, poor judgment, confusion, restlessness and mood swings. Eventually Alzheimer's destroys cognition, personality, and the ability to function. The early symptoms, which include forgetfulness and loss of concentration, are often missed because they resemble natural signs of aging, rather than warning signs that indicate something more serious is at work.

Who gets it?

It usually begins after age 65 and the risk increases with age. About one-third of people age 85 and older have the disease. AD is a progressive condition, but its course can vary widely. It damages the brain, which in turn can result in complications that lead to death, such as trouble swallowing, increased risk of choking, aspiration and increased susceptibility to infection. The time course of the disease varies by individual, ranging from five to 20 years.

What are the stages?

Dementia symptoms gradually increase in severity over a number of years. The disease advances in stages, progressing from mild forgetfulness and cognitive impairment to widespread loss of mental abilities. Generally, as the disease goes on, symptoms are more easily noticed and become more serious. Forgetfulness escalates and begins interfering with daily life and activities.

The early stages are almost unnoticeable. A person can function independently, drive and participate in social activities with little to no difficulty. Within a few years, friends and family will most likely begin to notice the person has a hard time remembering names or uses the wrong words when speaking.

The moderate stages usually last the longest period of time. Your loved one may become easily frustrated or angered and not want to participate in normal daily activities such as bathing or getting dressed. Those in the middle stages may forget how to do simple tasks like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They also begin to have problems speaking, comprehending others when they are speaking, and reading or writing. Changes in sleep patterns become noticeable and disruptive as well. Actual personality changes may take place.

In advanced Alzheimer's, people become dependent on others for every aspect of their care, including basic activities of daily living. Many patients lose the ability to respond to their environment. Memory and cognitive skills will almost disappear as they lose awareness of their surroundings and recent experiences. Communicating will become nearly impossible, and the risk of infection increases dramatically.

Later on, people with AD may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, patients require total care and supervision, often around the clock for their safety.

How does it affect the brain?

The "clumps" that develop in brain tissue are called amyloid plaques and the tangles are called neurofibrillary tangles. These plaques and tangles in the brain are the prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells, and are considered telltale signs of this disease.

Microscopic changes in the brain begin long before the first signs of memory loss, though. Cellular degeneration occurs, especially in pathways and areas of the brain that are vital to memory and other mental abilities. There also are lower levels of some of the chemicals in the brain that carry complex messages back and forth between nerve cells. The disease disrupts normal thinking and memory by blocking these messages.

How is it diagnosed?

AD often goes unrecognized or undiagnosed in the early stages because the first symptoms are often viewed as normal effects of aging. For proper diagnosis, doctors use a series of tests and tools to evaluate thinking, behavior and physical function because there is no single scale that can definitively diagnose the disease.

Diagnostic tests may include the Clock Drawing test, the Mini-Mental Stage Examination (MMSE) and the Functional Assessment Staging test (FAST). In addition to these tests, the doctor may also conduct a medical and family health history, a routine physical exam, an exam that tests physical sensation controlled by the central nervous system, a brain scan, a neuropsychological evaluation, and interviews with family members and friends.

However, the only definite way to diagnose this disease is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in the person's brain tissue. To inspect brain tissue, though, doctors usually must wait until they do an autopsy. Therefore, doctors can only make a diagnosis of "possible" or "probable" Alzheimer's disease while the person is still alive. At specialized medical centers, doctors are able to correctly diagnose the disease up to 90 percent of the time.

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


Checklist and Tips on Finding a Good Assisted Living Community

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 07, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

Choosing an assisted living community is challenging.

Moving your older adult to assisted living is an incredibly difficult choice. Deciding when to make the transition is tough, but once that’s resolved, finding the right place is the next challenge.

The biggest question is how to find a good assisted living community. You want to find the best fit for their lifestyle and personality as well as make sure they’ll be well-cared for. That means looking at your older adult’s budget, visiting places, and comparing all the options to arrive at the best choice.

To make the process easier, we found a useful free guide that summarizes key information and has a handy checklist that helps you find the right assisted living community for your older adult.

Checklist for choosing a senior living community

Looking at facilities is an overwhelming process; there’s a lot that can be accidentally overlooked. The checklist puts the most important questions at your fingertips. We recommend browsing the entire guide, but you could also go straight to the checklist in the last section.

Click here to view the guide and checklist.

How to use the assisted living review checklist

The checklist goes beyond the usual questions about assisted living services. It helps you notice the “little things” that can be easy to miss as a casual visitor. These are the important details that give you an idea of what life is truly like there and how good the care really is.

Checklist questions we thought were most useful:

  • Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
  • Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
  • Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed?
  • Does the community conduct criminal background checks on employees?
  • Does the community train staff on elder abuse and neglect? Is there a policy for reporting suspected abuse?
  • What are the most common reasons why a resident may be asked to move out of the community?

Bottom line

Every older adult has different needs. It’s best to evaluate each against what’s most important for their specific situation. This guide and checklist help you organize your thoughts, notice important details, and compare one community against another.

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


Does Insurance Cover Alzheimer's Care?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 03, 2019
Spring Arbor, SC, NC, VA, TN

Private and government insurance programs may pay for some of the costs of Alzheimer's Care.

One in eight individuals 65 and older suffers from Alzheimer's disease -- quite a sobering statistic for the growing number of baby boomers crossing that age threshold. And the costs can be an overwhelming financial burden.

Private and government insurance programs may cover some costs. Here's a primer on your options.


Many people are shocked to discover that Medicare does not cover the long-term custodial care that Alzheimer's patients need. Custodial care is the non-medical care associated with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.

Medicare does cover limited care in a nursing facility or at home. For home care, the patient must require skilled-nursing care or physical or occupational therapy to help with the recovery from an illness or injury -- not to help an Alzheimer's patient with daily-living activities. One of the most difficult situations is when a loved one needs personal or custodial home care, but Medicare will only cover that if there is some type of skilled-care need.

At-home services in most cases can be provided for fewer than seven days each week or less than eight hours each day over a period of 21 days or less. Limited custodial care could be provided during these visits -- perhaps if an Alzheimer's patient treated by a registered nurse for a broken hip needs help bathing. Medicare pays the cost of a skilled-nursing facility, but only to provide continuing treatment following a hospital stay of at least three days. Skilled care in a facility is limited to 100 days.

While Medicare offers little by way of custodial care, it does provide diagnostic and medical treatment that Alzheimer's patients need. The new annual wellness physical exam, which is free and part of the health care law, includes testing for cognitive impairment. This is a critical, yet hardly known, provision.

Alzheimer's patients and their families need to carefully choose a Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan or private Medicare Advantage plan. Alzheimer's medications are generally covered under Part D, but plans vary regarding co-payments. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to compare the total costs of your drugs under each policy. The Alzheimer's Association offers a guide about coverage for common Alzheimer's drugs.

If you choose an Advantage plan, make sure your neurologist and other physicians you see often are covered as in-network providers. Otherwise, you will pay higher out-of-pocket costs. You can compare Advantage plans by using the Plan Finder.

Long-term-care insurance

These policies provide coverage for the custodial care that Alzheimer's patients usually need. Benefits typically kick in if the patient needs help with at least two activities of daily living or if a doctor provides evidence of cognitive impairment. Because most people with Alzheimer's receive care in their own homes, look carefully at the policy's home-care requirements. Typically, a patient must wait 60 or 90 days before benefits begin. But policies differ on when the clock starts ticking, which could be a big headache for caregivers.

For example, some policies start the 60-day waiting period on the day the doctor certifies the cognitive impairment -- and benefits kick in 60 days later. But other policies count only the days a patient receives care from a qualified caregiver during the waiting period. If the caregiver visits two days a week, the policy only counts those two visits toward the 60-day waiting period -- and benefits won't kick in for 30 weeks. In the meantime, the family has to pick up the tab for the caregiver.

Before you hire a caregiver, check the policy's fine print on the type of caregiver the company will cover. Some policies pay for any caregiver who is not a family member, while others only pay for licensed caregivers who work for an agency. Some families who hire an unlicensed caregiver later discover that the caregiver doesn't qualify under the policy.

Don't expect a policy to pick up round-the-clock home care. Daily coverage is based on the daily benefit. A policy with a $200 daily benefit, for example, will likely cover the cost of eight to ten hours of a home health aide. If a family caregiver can't fill in the gap, a nursing home may be a better option.

You can't use more than your daily benefit in a day, but you can stretch your daily benefit over longer periods. Say you choose a benefit period of three years, at $200 a day. If you only use $100 a day, your coverage can last for six years. Some policies cover adult day care, which can cost a lot less than daily caregivers. Many adult day services specialize in care for those with Alzheimer's disease and similar disorders.


This program, whose costs are shared by federal and state governments, is the primary payer of long-term-care services for the elderly. Unlike Medicare, it provides custodial care for Alzheimer's patients. Custodial care typically is provided in Medicaid-eligible nursing homes, but many states' Medicaid programs now pay for home care and sometimes adult day care or care in assisted-living facilities.

The downside: You need to be virtually impoverished to qualify. Many people end up qualifying after spending their retirement savings on care. While state laws differ, generally you can't have more than $2,000 in countable assets, including investments. A spouse who lives at home can generally keep about $113,000. You're allowed to keep your home, car and assets in certain kinds of trusts.

To protect more of your assets, you can buy a state-approved long-term-care policy that is "partnership" eligible. The policy would allow you to qualify for Medicaid without having to spend almost all of your money first. For example, if you buy a partnership policy that covers $200,000 of care, you would pay out of pocket until you have $200,000 left and still qualify for Medicaid. Go to the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information to see if your state allows these policies.

Disability benefits

Individuals who develop Alzheimer's while they're still working may be eligible for some coverage from disability insurance, either through an employer or an individual policy. Their cognitive impairment can quickly reach a point where they can no longer maintain gainful employment. Most policies tend to end benefits at age 65, but rules vary by policy so it's worth checking.

The benefits triggers will depend on the policy's definition of disability. Some policies will make a partial payout if a newly diagnosed worker needs to cut back to part-time and will pay more if the worker needs to leave the job.

Individuals with early-onset Alzheimer's could qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they can't work. Early-onset Alzheimer's disease is on the government's "compassionate allowance" list of conditions subject to fast-track benefits approval. When you reach full Social Security retirement age, your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits.

Other sources of help

If you have a life insurance policy, you may qualify to withdraw most of the death benefit while you're still alive if your doctor certifies that you have less than two years to live. The accelerated death benefit could help pay for care.

Some veterans may be eligible for help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA may provide custodial care at home, in adult day-care centers and in VA nursing homes for veterans who pass strict eligibility tests. Disabled lower-income vets may be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits of up to $20,448 for an individual or $24,440 for married veterans. To qualify, a veteran must have wartime service and be unable to perform personal functions, such as bathing and dressing.

For more information, Spring Arbor.


Ways to Celebrate Father's Day When Dad Has Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 31, 2019
Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NC

When your father is living with dementia, you often struggled with how to approach Father’s Day. Even though they often don't know what day it is, it's important to to celebrate and honor a father.

Here are some ideas:

Reminiscing over Favorite Foods

Arranged to eat in the care community’s private dining area and bring in a meal featuring your father's current favorites and some gems from the past. As you eat, talk about meals past. Inspired by the familiar tastes, smells and textures

Naming His Tunes

Seniors often liked to dance with their spouses. Print out song lyrics and sing some of their old standards.

Scrapbooking Life Stories

Created a story scrapbook that incorporates highlights and photos from your father's life, along with a meaningful storyline that captures the essence of his life story. Read from the book, using the stories as conversational catalysts. You will all enjoy remembering all his adventures and your many shared experiences.

Celebrating Special Qualities and Life Lessons

Sit together and talk about some of your father's many stellar qualities.

Just being together is wonderful. And taking time to really celebrate your father with a tender mixture of food, photos, stories, and affirmations will be pure magic.

For information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


Essential Documents to Prepare Before Alzheimer's Sets In

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

Prepare these documents, and update older ones, while you still have the decision-making capacity to do so.

Advance-planning documents can help ensure that all your financial and medical wishes are carried out to the letter. This is especially important when Alzheimer's disease and dementia come into play. It's essential to draw up these documents -- and update older ones -- while you still have the decision-making capacity to do so. If you don't have the appropriate documents, a court may step in and appoint a guardian for you. Because of the differences in state law and the complexities involved in ensuring that your instructions are airtight, see a lawyer for help in drawing up these documents.

Power of attorney for finances.

This legal document allows another person to manage your finances on your behalf. Naming a competent, trustworthy agent is essential. Many seniors designate a family member for this task. You can build in checks and balances by requiring that the agent provide a periodic accounting to a third party, such as another relative or a lawyer. Or you can require that another individual sign off on any gifts of your property.

Powers of attorney should state the agent's authority to handle specific investment accounts, annuities and other assets -- details that aren't included in some off-the-shelf documents. Make sure the power of attorney is "durable," meaning that the agent's powers continue when the person creating the power of attorney becomes incapacitated.

Living trust.

This document can provide detailed guidelines on how your property should be managed if you become incapacitated. You transfer your investments, real estate and other assets into the trust and name yourself as trustee, so you maintain control of the property. You also name one or more successor trustees to manage the property if you become incapacitated, and you include detailed instructions on how the money should be used if you are hospitalized or need long-term care.

After you die, the trust allows the successor trustee to transfer your property to your beneficiaries without having to go through probate. If you have a living trust, you still need a financial power of attorney to manage transactions that may fall outside the scope of the trust, such as dealing with credit card accounts. To provide checks and balances, it's best to name different individuals as your living trust's successor trustee and as your agent under a power of attorney.

Health care directives.

A living will documents your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment. Some states combine the living will with a health care power of attorney in one form.

The health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You also can include specific instructions on how your agent should make your health care decisions. Laws governing these documents can vary from state to state.

Also, seniors looking to include more details in their advance directives might consider the Five Wishes form, which meets legal requirements in more than 40 states. The form, available at, allows users to designate a health care proxy and outline the care they want under various medical scenarios.

Standard will.

The will identifies the individual's beneficiaries, who will receive the assets in the estate. It also names the executor, the person who manages the estate. The executor will have no legal authority until the person dies. Separately, individuals must designate beneficiaries of their retirement plans on the plan documents themselves; naming beneficiaries for retirement-plan assets in a will is not legally binding.

Letter of instruction.

This document will provide your family the financial and other information they need if you become incapacitated. At the very least, the letter should list all of your investment accounts, insurance policies, loans, cemetery plot records, real estate holdings, military benefits, overseas assets and even frequent-flier memberships. It should also provide the location of important documents and the names of key contacts, such as your lawyer, financial adviser and insurance agent. Make sure to include the computer passwords for all of your online accounts.

Your letter also could direct heirs to cancel club memberships and to call current and past employers regarding company benefits and stock options. Include funeral instructions and information you would like in your obituary. You can place all of the documents in a binder.

Special needs trust.

This trust is set up to provide for an incapacitated spouse if the well caregiver dies first. The amount put in the trust will be based on the expected cost of care over the individual's lifetime. Such trusts are drafted so that the assets are not considered to belong to the disabled person. That protects eligibility for certain government benefits, such as Medicaid benefits for nursing-home care, without requiring the ill patient to first spend down all assets. Assets could be spent on extras, such as special therapies, a geriatric care manager or a private nursing-home room. A trustee would make spending decisions.



How to Choose Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 17, 2019

When a loved one with dementia can no longer live at home, you may want to seek out a residential facility that specializes in memory care. But how do you know if a facility offers more than just a fancy label and a premium price tag?

Spring Arbor, SC, NC, VA, TN

Memory care units, sometimes called special care units, are often housed within an assisted-living or skilled-nursing facility. At their best, they can offer staff extensively trained in caring for people with dementia, individualized care that minimizes the use of dangerous psychotropic drugs, a home-like environment and activities that improve residents’ quality of life. But at their worst, they may offer little more than a locked door. There are no consistent standards for memory care.

If you’re considering memory care for a loved one, you need to go beyond the label to find out exactly what services are being offered at the facility. That means making multiple visits to each facility on your short list, studying staff interactions with residents, talking to residents’ families, and asking a host of questions about staff training, daily routines, methods of dealing with challenging behavior and other issues.

To start your search for a facility, first focus on the one factor that patient advocates say can all but guarantee better outcomes: proximity to family and friends. The task is not just to choose a good facility, “but also being there on a regular basis and being very involved,” says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Do In-Person Research

When you have narrowed down your choices, make multiple visits to each facility—including unscheduled visits at night or on weekends, when the staff is more likely to be stretched thin. Is the facility clean? Does the food look appetizing and taste good? Is there adequate staff to assist those who need help eating? Are there residents calling out who are being ignored?

Ask about the staff-to-resident ratio and the level of staff turnover. Memory care facilities should have at least one staff member for every five residents. If you don’t have that, you end up with people placed in front of the television. If there’s a high level of staff turnover, that’s a very bad sign, because people with dementia tend to respond better to familiar routines and consistent caregivers. Ask about the type and amount of training the staff receives, both initially and on an annual basis.

Look for signs that the facility is responding to individual residents’ needs—not forcing them into a fixed routine.

Make sure the facility offers activities that can keep your loved one engaged—even at night, when many dementia sufferers are awake.

Ask how the facility responds to residents who may wander or become aggressive. If the answer is locked doors and antipsychotic drugs, that’s a red flag. Facilities should have a circular corridor, an enclosed outdoor area or other spaces that let residents roam freely. And they should provide enough individual attention to detect hunger, pain and other common triggers for aggression, rather than resorting to drugs.

Because transitions can be unsettling for dementia sufferers, make sure that your loved one will be able to remain at the facility for the foreseeable future. In some states, assisted-living facilities can’t provide complex medical care, so residents who need skilled nursing may have to leave—or the facility may contract with a home health nurse to provide care, at additional cost. Ask what health conditions might require your loved one to leave the facility or move to a higher—and more expensive—level of care within the facility. And find out if the facility accepts Medicaid. If not, a resident who runs out of money may be forced to move.

To be sure a facility has been treating residents well, talk with family members of residents at different stages of dementia about their experience with the facility. For memory care units housed within skilled-nursing facilities, go to and click “find nursing homes” to see star ratings for a nursing home’s health inspections, staffing and other measures. If the unit is within an assisted-living facility, contact the state licensing agency (which is often the state health department) for information on inspection reports and any sanctions against the facility.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.


Tips for Finding the Best Senior Living Care Near You

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 13, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

As we get older, there are those of us who can’t safely handle all our daily tasks without senior care. When this time comes, the best move is to start considering different senior living facilities to find a new place to call home.This is not an easy decision, as there aren’t many people who want to leave their homes and it’s quite a commitment to make the move.

The happiness of you or your loved one is very important. Most seniors are at least a little resistant to leaving home to move to a senior-assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility or nursing home at first. But if you spend some time finding the best fit, this transition will be less stressful, and your long-term happiness is much more likely.

Figure Out What Level Of Service You Need

When considering senior living facilities, you’ll first need to determine exactly what services and support you require. Write down anything you need help with right now. No matter how small and insignificant it may be, everything is important. Then, think about what you may need help with in the future. Although you may not need help with some daily tasks today, you may really need that help in the next few years.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70 percent of individuals over 65 years of age need some form of long-term care.Once you have this list written down, you should start looking at the different forms of senior living facilities to find which one best matches your needs. Here’s a short summary of the most common types of senior living facilities:

Independent Senior Living Facilities

These homes remove the burden of owning your own home so that you can focus on your interests and your health, both emotionally and physically. They also offer plenty of opportunities to make new friends.

If, after looking over your list, you determine that your overall health is just fine and there’s no need for help with the normal daily tasks, one of these places could be a great fit.

Assisted Senior Living Facilities

By assisting you with daily tasks, home maintenance, and transportation, these communities allow you continue living independently, but with a little more help. If you’re having trouble managing your medications, dealing with mobility issues, struggling to get dressed or worry about getting in and out of the bath, you should consider an assisted living facility.

Skilled Nursing Care (Nursing Home Facilities)

These places can provide continuous skilled nursing care for those with complex health issues or those recovering from an injury or surgery. If your health issues are becoming more complex or your needs require full-time care, these facilities may offer the best choice for you.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities Or “CCRCs” (Life Plan Communities)

CCRCs are a fairly new idea, but they offer a great option for many seniors. Residents at these senior living facilities benefit from a full continuum of care including memory care, skilled nursing, independent living services and assisted living services.

By providing all of these options in the same community, they allow seniors to enjoy their independence now, but still have access to levels of care they may need in the future.

Make Safety A Priority

Whether you’re looking at care options for yourself or a loved one, safety should always be a priority. This means security from the world outside the facility and from internal concerns. There is really no price tag on the preservation of well-being, especially when it comes to old age.Here are a few ways to help you find a safe senior living facility:

Take A Look at State Records

While they may make a place look great, clean common areas and green gardens do not reflect the safety of the facility. Mistreatment and wrongdoing typically happens when no one is looking for the best way to check for these issues are by looking at state records.

Records of reprimands, offenses, and crimes among senior living facilities can be found at state offices that focus on senior care. These records can give you a “background check” as you search for the right place for you.

Talk to The Staff and Current Residents

During a visit to one of these senior living facilities, you should take the opportunity to talk with staff members and current residents about what it is like there. They may be more willing to open up about their experiences than you would think. Even if you’re nervous to ask the residents, it is important to know if they feel completely safe and comfortable. You need to take all actions possible to uncover issues before you commit to a place and learn the hard way.

Get A Breakdown of Security Policies and Features

You can find out about a facility’s security features by asking the administrator or director. While you speak with this leader of the facility, you can also ask them about resident complaints and hiring policies. If you or your loved one has special medical needs, you should also make sure they will receive regular, highly-skilled care to address these needs as a safety precaution.

Costs And Income

Although senior living homes can be expensive, most people are surprised at how affordable it can be when compared to the costs of owning a home. Either way, it is important to crunch some numbers before you get too far along in the process of finding a new home.Take a look at how much it costs you (or your loved one) to live in your own home.

Even if the mortgage has already been paid-off, the list of expenses can be quite long. From utilities, taxes, groceries, and entertainment to continuous home maintenance and age-related renovations, the costs can add up quickly. If you have any current medical costs or expenses associated with home health care, those should also be included in your calculations.

After that, consider your financial resources. Include your assets and income sources like surviving spouse benefits, veteran’s benefits, retirement investments, pensions and long-term care insurance. You can then combine all of this information by adding up financial resources and expenses that will no longer occur to create a budget.

Then you’ll know what you can afford when it comes to senior living facilities.If the numbers still aren’t adding up, you can look into federal aid programs like Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Low-Income Housing credits and other government-provided options.

Tour The Facility

After all of this research, you’ve already got a big head start on finding the best senior living facilities near you. However, you should never make a big decision like this one based solely on Internet research. The only way to truly understand which facility will be best for you is to take a tour.

Start by calling each facility on your shortened list. They should be accustomed to helping people set up tours of the facilities. Once you arrive, make sure that you walk the whole facility including the resident’s rooms. And as we mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to talk to some of the current residents and staff members to hear their opinion.

You would never want to buy a house without doing a walk-through first, so you shouldn’t commit to a senior living facility before a tour either. You need to be completely confident that the facility will be a comfortable place that will support the overall happiness of you or your loved one.

So you’ve done all the research, taken tours, and asked for professional help. Are you still struggling to find the best senior living facility for you? The truth is you could spend the rest of your days stressing over this decision, but, at the end of the day, your gut feeling should help you make the final commitment.

Don’t be swayed by shiny marketing strategies and sales pitches. Trust all of the work you’ve done and don’t ignore your instincts.

For more information contact Spring Arbor.