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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Steps Families Should Take to Find Support or Care Providers for Alzheimer's-Affected Loved Ones?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, October 08, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAIt is often difficult to navigate the various support services and providers and to discern what is best for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Caregivers should think about particular needs of their loved ones and specific concerns they have about their care. Some concerns could include how the affected person can live as independently as possible; financial capabilities for care; days/times the caregiver needs help; in-home vs. long-term care; and providers' reputation and quality of care.

Having so many choices and decisions can be a time-consuming process for the caregiver, but research and recommendations from friends and family can assist in locating and securing the most appropriate services for a loved one.

Alzheimer's Services has a database of health care providers and services with contacts and phone numbers which can help reduce a lot of leg work. Also, caregivers can enlist the help of a geriatric care manager, who specializes in finding the resources available and most accommodating in the community for the affected individual and the family.

In any case, it is a good idea for caregivers to start looking for resources before the tasks become too overwhelming and burdensome; it becomes more challenging to make decisions during a time of crisis.

When looking at resources, caregivers should call and/or conduct interviews with the agencies and take notes on all the exchanges, including the contact's name and specific services the agency can provide. It is also important to ask questions about Medicare or Medicaid eligibility, long-term care coverage, and/or veterans benefits to gain a better understanding of financial resources that may be available.

Caregivers should be proactive in their search and assertive with health care providers in ascertaining their specific needs.

Some services available through state programs may require you to be placed on a waiting list since the demand for existing Alzheimer's-related services has increased while funding for some service programs had decreased. In that respect, it would be very advantageous to anticipate the needs of a loved one ahead of time and to complete the process to be placed on the waiting list. These actions might minimize the length of the waiting period.

Holding a family meeting to filter through available services and to select what services match a loved one's needs can help the primary caregiver in the arduous decision-making tasks. Once a plan is made and services confirmed, the caregiver can feel more assured of the future care of their loved one with the disease.

For more information on Alzheimer's Care, contact Spring Arbor.


Gardening Therapy for Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAAt Spring Arbor, our philosophy is to make every day special for our residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Our care providers are dedicated to providing a high quality of life for all residents through a range of activities to exercise both the mind and the body. Our residents are encouraged to rekindle old interests or develop new ones. As a result, we are always discovering new and invigorating ways to engage and stimulate our residents. We’re excited to begin offering gardening therapy for memory care residents!

Research shows that access to the outdoors and physical activity can be extremely beneficial for adults living with memory loss. That is why we are so excited to add gardening to our educational and training programs at our memory care residence. Our staff participated in a two-day training program to find ways for gardening to become a weekly activity for all the residents. With instruction from a Horticultural Therapist, staff learned how to bring nature to our Cottage residents through gardening and the stimulating sensory opportunities that we create in our residences.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, gardening demonstrates several benefits for those with dementia including:

  • Gardening Therapy for Memory Care ResidentsProvides great exercise for the mind and body
  • Creates a sense of purpose
  • Lowers stress and blood pressure levels
  • Reduces aggression in those who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia
  • Builds confidence by allowing the resident to experience success
  • Helps recall long-term memories of gardening

We’re excited to offer this program as one more example of our vision “To improve the world and how people live by creating meaningful experiences and places of great distinction.” To learn more about Spring Arbor Memory Care, contact us.


Assisted Living Communities Need to Keep Residents Active and Engaged

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VAOne of the challenges for senior living communities is helping residents maintain physical strength and to stay engaged in everyday life activities. Inspired by existing HHHunt wellness initiatives, our Senior Living team members developed a new wellness program tailored specifically to residents in Spring Arbor assisted living communities. The Wise & Well program helps residents keep their brain engaged and their body active!

How does it work? Spring Arbor is partnering with local rehab providers in each market to develop a customized plan for each resident who wants to participate in the program. What differentiates Wise & Well from other senior living initiatives is the local focus and holistic approach that includes physical fitness and core/balance strengthening, brain fitness, mind/body classes, health education lectures and even games and contests and fun incentives.

Top priorities for many seniors who participate in Wise & Well include developing core strength and improving balance and ambulation to help minimize falls. “The wellness programming is about empowering our residents to stay as independent as possible and in control of their lives.

We'd like to share the success of a Spring Arbor resident who had a Below Average fitness score (compared to others her age) in September 2017 and after six months enrollment in Wise & Well had progressed to an Average fitness score. Another resident is experiencing far fewer falls since beginning regular fitness programming in the Fall. He never misses exercise class and with his increase in strength and endurance, is once again able to regularly participate in his favorite community outings!

The program was introduced in Fall 2017 to three communities. Since its rollout, these communities have seen the Wise & Well program positively impact their residents and improve resident quality of life. Six more Spring Arbor communities have now begun wellness programming and the plan is for all communities to have Wise & Well in place before the end of 2018.

“This program has been a life-affirming success and we’re excited to continue introducing it to all of our Spring Arbor communities and residents,” added Stempel. “After all, when you feel good, you’re much more likely to be active and involved in the life of your community.”

We truly believes it’s how you live that matters and part of enjoying an enhanced quality of life means staying active and engaged. We’re excited to see the Wise & Well program expand! For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


Knowing When It's Time for Care

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 21, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NCKnowing when to make the move to senior living can be confusing because sometimes life is bumpy for everybody, at every age. How do we know if the concerns are definitively age-related and it’s time for an even more support?

What to Watch For

One sign that it is time for assisted living is when typical household logistics become overly burdensome, like basic cleaning, yard maintenance and even taking care of plants. Maybe moving around the house gets to be difficult, especially if there are stairs. And when driving stops feeling totally safe. Also, it’s possible hygiene tasks start slipping. Lastly, keep an eye on too much time spent in their favorite chair – like long sleeps. We all like to be comfy, but it’s a problem to stay in a cozy place to the detriment of things that need to get done around here.

Another sign that maybe it’s time for a move is a shift in memory sharpness. Maybe your loved one got lost in a familiar place. Maybe they are missing medications, or perhaps too many scheduled doctor visits get forgotten. Perhaps the electricity bill slips by without getting paid. There could be an increase of excuses for things forgotten, and rise of frustration about being confused. And have meals been missed regularly? These are all normal occurrences when people age and it just means it’s time for more help.

Also, watch out for choices to isolate. We need our people! Although, sometimes when challenges pile up, we shy away. Maybe visits with friends happen less often, or there’s a withdrawal from social activities that used to be fun. Or even an increase of complaints about socializing.

Lastly, consider shifts in emotional regulation. Is there an increased use of alcohol or pain pills? Have you noticed extreme decisions? Maybe there’s been an over accumulation of consumer items that makes you think of hoarding or other obsessive patterns.

If you see any of these things going on with your loved one, contact Spring Arbor.


National Assisted Living Week Celebrates Family

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 14, 2018

Spring Arbor, SC, NC, VA, TNIt’s National Assisted Living Week and we’re excited to celebrate families and caregivers, our wonderful residents and their loved ones! ​Established by the National Center for Assisted Living more than two decades ago, National Assisted Living Week provides a special opportunity to recognize the important role of assisted living in America.

We believe in the power of family and that family includes the people who care for us. That’s why our Spring Arbor team members focus on personalized and compassionate care. Those team members become an extension of our residents’ families. Everyone has the right to live, love and discover enjoyment in each day, regardless of the abilities that have been lost to dementia. Everything we do is built around this understanding, from daily activities to specialized art and music programs to the healthy and delicious food served. After all, HHHunt is guided by the philosophy that it’s how you live that matters.

So, how can you celebrate National Assisted Living Week? It’s easy! We encourage you to thank someone you know who cares for seniors. A simple message of kindness – whether in person, on the phone, with a card or even in a text message – can be powerful. Thank you for all you do!

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


Questions to Ask Memory Care Homes

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 10, 2018
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SCTouring memory care residences, it’s best to collect facts and also trust your intuition or “gut feeling.” Here are questions to ask when you visit a home.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. You might also want your loved one to live at a facility that uses sight, sound, and other senses for memory therapy. Some patients would also benefits from Parkinson’s therapy and other specific care options.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.


How to Find the Best Senior Living

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Spring Arbor, SC, NC, VA, TN Transitioning a loved one to a senior living community can be a difficult decision. We understand this dilemma and that is why the experts at our Spring Arbor communities are here to help! With so many senior living choices and communities available, how do you select the best option for your loved one?

Finding the right community takes time and research. Below are some questions to ask when visiting a senior living community to help you make an informed decision:

What type of daily activities and events are planned?

Speak to the Activities Director to learn more about their approach to mental stimulation and social interaction, as both are important factors in sustaining positive mental health. Ask for a copy of their monthly calendar to see what types of activities are offered on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. In addition, ask about their community amenities and what makes this senior living community different from all the others.

How do you make residents and loved ones feel welcome?

Look closely at the community and people as you tour. Do the residents and team members look happy? Do they smile and say hello? It’s important to be observant and take the time to talk to residents and team members about their experience at the community.

Is your community up-to-date on annual inspections?

Check that the community has a valid license, history of state inspections and website information – including how often it’s updated. In the United States, individual care communities are licensed through the state’s department of health. The department of health can provide background information as well as any violations and/or complaints.

Are there financial benefits that my loved one is qualified for at your community?

If you have never considered long-term senior care before, seeing the price may instantly shock you. According to Forbes, the median annual cost of long-term senior living care was $45,000 in 2017. However, there are many financial benefits for which your loved one may qualify. For example, veterans are eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit and many seniors qualify for Medicare. It is important to research to see if you or a loved one qualifies for any financial resources.

Senior Living

We believe it’s how you live that matters, and in the end, it’s about the care, the teamwork of the staff, and the overall happiness of residents in senior living communities that matter. A couple of great resources to learn more about searching for senior care is the National Council on Aging, Where You Live Matters, and contact Spring Arbor.


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.