Premier Senior Living...
Because it's how you live that Matters

Senior Assisted Living Blog

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.


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.


What You Need to Know: Basic Facts About Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 30, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SCIt’s important to know that “assisted living” is an industry term. It isn’t strictly defined, and there’s great variety in terms of assisted daily living services provided. For example, some but not all assisted living centers have 24/7 nurse staffing. The following facts about assisted living can help you understand the diversity. The more you know about possible differences from place to place, the better your odds of making a great move.

1. Cost is usually a top concern whenever people hunt for housing. Here’s a good basic fact: Assisted living generally costs much less than nursing home care.

In 2016 the licensing group CareScout compared costs using data they collected from 4,400 geographic regions of the US. They report than on average, the cost of assisted living per month was about $3,600. Nursing home care was more than double at around $7,700 for a private room and $6,800 for a shared room. Of course, $3,600 /month isn’t small change for most — but if the price looks intimidating, stay strong. Prices vary by region and the services needed. Also, individuals and families find many ways to pay for assisted living without draining their resources.

2. Services with assisted living vary from place to place. The US lacks a nationwide or federal definition for assisted living, and state governments all have different industry regulations. Many states issue more than one type of license for assisted living facilities, resulting in different levels of care being allowed. Licensing also matters for payment to be covered by Medicaid, private insurance and other sources. Facilities with the most advanced licenses may provide advanced medical care when a resident becomes bedridden or has symptoms of dementia. Others might need the resident to transfer to a nursing home, hire a personal nurse, or choose in-home healthcare. Main categories of assisted daily living services (ADLs) are:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Medication Management
  • Meal Services
  • Transportation

Residents might also get help with housekeeping needs such as dishwashing, laundry and vacuuming. Examples of specialty services that might cost extra are hairdressing, physical therapy, memory therapy, and help with scheduling appointments. Besides providing personal care services, most independent living centers facilitate social groups and outings. With all kinds of activities, there’s something for everyone! Educational activities such as art classes and computer lessons are offered too. Generally the larger the assisted living community, the more activities it sponsors.

3. Memory care is an option at select assisted living centers. If you or a loved one is in an early stage of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, then choosing an assisted care facility might be your best option in terms of stretching your money and allowing a longer period of independent living. Staff at specially licensed centers can help delay the progression of dementia with various therapies. They can also help minimize or prevent common dementia-related challenges such as wandering and anxiety. When the condition becomes advanced, it might be possible to live at the same facility, but in a different area with secured doors and other special accommodations.

4. Culture or “personality” matters. The US has thousands of assisted living facilities and no two are quite alike…

  • In some the decor is formal; in others it’s relaxed.
  • Some are very small communities and others have hundreds of residents.
  • Depending on the property’s layout, and also the local climate, residents might tend to spend lots of time outdoors, or else tend to stay inside. And of course residents bring different cultures along. When you search for assisted living centers, you can find homes that tend to attract residents from specific ethnic backgrounds, language groups, religious affiliations and so forth. Lately as more baby boomers are moving to assisted living, we’re seeing more and more “special interest” communities too. Residents are brought together by shared interests in areas as diverse as art, golf, LGBT issues, vegetarianism and community service.

5. Pets are welcome in many independent living communities. Sometimes animal care services such as grooming and dog walking are available for an extra charge. Some communities have their own “mascot” dogs and cats. When animal companions are allowed, generally there are restrictions about the size or breed. Homes have different policies about aquariums, birds and other “pet issues” — so before choosing an assisted care facility, verify that the pet policy fits your preferences.

For more information on assisted living contact Spring Arbor.