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Senior Living Memory Care Richmond VA Blog

Talk About Assisted Living Before it is Needed

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

The decision on an assisted living home to spend your twilight years in– or finding a place for a loved one – is crucial.

During your decision making process you need to be armed with a lot of information. It’s a big decision to make, and oftentimes people are forced into making it quickly. There may be a loved one being discharged from a hospital who needs to be admitted to assisted living. It is very important to consider what is geographically close, but the second most important thing to look at are the inspections, reviews and ratings.

Inspections are done so that families can see specific issues. Ratings and reviews can be found online, and references help as well. But, while you can investigate online, nothing replaces an in-person visit.

No amount of information that is found in writing will substitute for a visit in person to an assisted facility. Family members need to look for themselves and speak to other residents and family members for the best source on the quality of care and life in the nursing home.

As the population ages, and health care allows people to live longer, nursing homes face new challenges.

From a regulatory standpoint, and because of the aging population senior care homes of today have typically older, more frail residents than they did 15 years ago.

One of the biggest indicators for the quality of assisted living is the time staff spends with residents. The most concrete research shows higher staffing associated with higher quality care.

Families should check to see the nurse-to-resident ratio for the facility for all shifts, especially the night shift.

However, try to address the question of assisted living communities before the need arises. The more time you have to find a home, the better you and your loved one will feel. The best thing families can do is to plan ahead. Typically, long-term care is not discussed by family members, parents, grandparents, until it’s a crisis situation. The best thing for the kids and loved ones is to have these conversations. The information is out there, it’s just key for folks to discuss it before they need to take their next step.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.

Choosing an Assisted Living Community in Richmond, VA

Darren Kincaid - Thursday, March 21, 2019
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

Families have plenty of questions when it comes to planning the care for their older relatives. Additionally, as news of problematic senior care increases, it is perceived as an even more daunting task. It is important that you know how to choose the right assisted living community in Richmond, VA for your loved one. On the top of the list of priorities should be ensuring that the Senior Living home you are considering is licensed and that the employees are properly trained.

Directors of reputable senior care homes will always say that, when choosing a senior care facility, there is one thing that should be checked out before anything else. You do not want to put a parent or loved one in an assisted living facility that is not licensed. Unfortunately, those are becoming more and more common.

Other than ensuring that the assisted living facility is licensed, a family member should stop by the home at regular intervals to see the level of care that is provided before you make your decision. But stopping by regularly is not enough. Loved ones should stop by at different times of day, and during meals just to look around.

Additionally, loved ones should find out what types and levels of training caregivers have received. In particular, Alzheimer’s care and other forms of dementia care require very specific training. Spring Arbor and The Oaks are assisted living residences. We feel that one of the most important things to consider when choosing an assisted living residence is the quality of people who will serve you.

For more information on assisted living residences in Richmond, VA contact Spring Arbor.

Find the Best Senior Living Community for Your Loved One

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA

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.

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. For more information on senior living, contact Spring Arbor - link to locations page.

Questions to Ask About Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Spring Arbor, Assisted Living in Richmond, VA

When 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 ten suggested questions.

Questions Related to the Home / Facility

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

Questions Related to the People

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

Questions Related to the Safety

  • Is staff there around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured?
  • Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms?
  • 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.
  • Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways?
  • Are the hallways and doorways wide sufficient for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?

Questions Related to the Amenities

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

Other Considerations / Questions

  • Is there a meal menu and can choose when to eat? Do the menu selections vary from day to day?
  • Ask to see the facility's licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • If a resident becomes more disabled can the facility accommodate those needs?
  • Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.
  • What are the move-out criteria? When might a senior be asked to leave?

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


What you Need to Know about Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 07, 2019
Spring Arbor Senior Living - Assisted Living in Richmond, VA

What do people want to know about assisted living facilities?

Residents of assisted living facilities and their families and those considering moving into one were asked the questions below. Here are their answers:

What is assisted living?

In general, it is a residential care facility that provides some services but is not licensed as a skilled nursing facility. But that covers a broad range of assistance and standards.

What services can I expect to get?

They may range from little more than group meals in a dining hall, housekeeping, and a pull cord in the bathroom to full-blown dementia care. Here are some questions you need to ask of the assisted living homes you are considering: Is there a nurse on duty 24/7? Is a doctor available? Know what the facility is really capable of providing. Just because a home says it provides dementia care doesn’t mean it knows how to do this well.

What will quality of life be like?

Can people eat when they want, and with the people they choose? Are there activities of interest? Do other residents seem active and engaged?

How much will it cost? Many assisted living facilities change by levels of service, or tiers. The more care you need, the higher the fee. Be sure you understand the details up front.

What is the most important thing to know?

It is all about the aides. Forget about the wood paneling and fresh flowers in the lobby. When you visit assisted living, watch the interaction between staff and residents. Do the aides know the residents by name? Do they seem rushed or do they spend time to chat with residents? What are staffing levels like, especially at night?

Choosing to move, or to move a loved one, into an assisted living facility is a big and emotional step. It is important to take the time and ask questions.

For more information on assisted living residences, contact Spring Arbor.

Excerpts - Caring for Our Parents

Top 4 Balance Exercises for Seniors

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 01, 2019

You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down the stairs. It also helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way.

Tai Chi

Balance is important to help you perform many of your daily activities and prevent falls. Research has shown that tai chi can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older people. In tai chi, which is sometimes called “moving meditation,” you work to improve your balance by moving your body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply. Other benefits from practicing tai chi include:

  • improvements in bone and heart health
  • easing of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis
  • better sleep
  • improvements in overall wellness

Balance Walk

Good balance helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way.

  1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Heel-to-Toe Walk

  1. Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down stairs.
  2. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  3. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  4. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps.

Stand on One Foot

WHAT YOU NEED: Sturdy chair

You can do this exercise while waiting for the bus or standing in line at the grocery. For an added challenge, you can modify the exercise to improve your balance.

  1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
  2. Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
  5. Repeat 10-15 more times with each leg.

As you progress in your exercise routine, try adding the following challenges to help your balance even more:

  • Start by holding on to a sturdy chair with both hands for support.
  • When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand.
  • With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all.
  • If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the balance exercises with your eyes closed

Watch this video to see how it’s done:

If you have any questions regarding the exercise programs at Spring Arbor, contact a senior living community near you.


Finding the Right Senior Living Community for Loved Ones with Dementia or Alzheimer's

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 07, 2019

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VACaring for loved ones as they age can become increasingly difficult as their needs grow. This is especially true for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Many people struggle when searching for the right senior living community for their parent or loved one. It’s more than just finding a community that is comfortable and safe. You want to ensure that your loved one receives personalized and compassionate care tailored to his or her specific needs.

Memory care communities need to meet the specific needs of individuals with various forms of dementia. A secure environment needs to be created with an inviting, open floor plan to give residents freedom to move and socially interact with one another in a comfortable, home-like setting. Outdoor spaces should be accessible and secure for outdoor walks or gardening. Staff should be carefully selected and trained to provide individualized care tailored to each resident. These team members truly brighten the days of residents and improve their lives.

Spring Arbor offers comfort and peace of mind by beginning with a family consultation to learn all we can about your loved one. Using this information, we create a Personalized Care Plan, which focuses on personal care, social activities, and life experiences. This approach allows our dedicated team to provide a customized daily schedule for your loved one, ensuring each day is a quality day that includes a balance of one-on-one and group activities that promote independence, dignity, and social interaction.

At HHHunt, we believe it’s how you live that matters and that philosophy applies to every season of life. Regardless of age and ability, we strive to provide meaningful experiences for all our residents. Our goal is to help each resident function at the highest level possible for as long as possible.

We invite you to learn more and schedule a tour to experience the difference for yourself. Contact us.


Gift Ideas for People with Dementia and Memory Loss

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 10, 2018

Spring Arbor - VAYou did not mention gifts, but here are a few suggestions of great gifts for people living with dementia that you can pass along to family and friends:

  • An Ipod filled with all her favorite music and a set of comfortable headphones
  • Framed enlargements of old family pictures
  • Scrapbooks of your Mom’s life, work and awards
  • Photo albums of fun family activities
  • Taped religious readings, sermons or poetry
  • Scented lotions with a promise of a back rub
  • A music box
  • A favorite dessert baked just for her
  • Promise to take her to visit her house of worship
  • A drive to see the holiday lights at night
  • New pillow, sheets or comforter
  • Soft lap blanket or throw
  • Large print books
  • Soft fuzzy nightwear or slippers
  • A leisurely stroll through a favorite place, mall, park, or some place of meaning from her past, if possible
  • A holiday decoration for her door
  • A Memory Box filled with mementos of interest to her
  • Large piece, fewer pieces, adult jigsaw puzzles
  • Easy-to-fasten clothing
  • Window garden for her to work on in the winter months
  • Video of family

And remember, Santa, during this season and throughout the year, the love and support you give your loved one throughout the year is the greatest gift.

For more information on aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.


Red Flags During Holiday Visits With Aging Parents

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 30, 2018
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

Of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members, 15% live an hour or more away from their care recipient. This means that a significant number of caregivers rely on regular telephone conversations and check-ins by other closer-living relatives to gauge an aging loved one’s well-being.

Unfortunately, age-related decline can happen quickly, and in many cases, seniors are skilled at concealing new and worsening problems. For many of these families, holiday visits are the only opportunity for them to observe a senior in person, so it’s important to pay close attention to their physical and mental health and their living situation.

During this year’s holiday gatherings, be sure to look for the following warning signs that a loved one may need some extra help or assisted living.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. Possible causes could be cancer, dementia or depression. Seniors may also experience reduced energy, which can make it challenging to shop for and prepare a nutritious meal and clean up afterwards. Furthermore, all this effort can seem especially unnecessary if they live and eat alone. Certain medications and aging in general can also change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concerns and schedule a doctor’s appointment to address the issue.

Changes in Balance and Mobility

Pay close attention to the way your loved one moves and how they walk. A reluctance to walk, changes in gait or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint, muscle or neurological problems. If your loved one is unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, which can cause severe injury or worse. If you notice changes in their mobility and coordination, make an appointment with their doctor to discuss options to keep them safe and mobile, such as pain management, physical therapy and mobility aids.

Emotional Well-Being

Keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s moods and behavior. You can’t always gauge someone’s emotional state over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Look for signs of depression and anxiety, including withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, and changes in basic home maintenance and personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator of dementia or other physical ailments like dehydration, which often happens to elders in the winter months and can be serious. If you notice sudden odd behavior in your loved one, such as confusion or agitation, be sure to seek medical attention. These are common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is prevalent in seniors and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to a senior’s surroundings. For instance, if your loved one has always been a stickler for neatness and paying bills promptly, but you discover excess clutter and piles of unopened mail while visiting, it indicates a problem. Take a walk-through of their home while you’re visiting to see if they are keeping their house to the usual standards. Be aware that sometimes the signs of trouble are a bit subtler. Scorched cookware could indicate that your loved one forgets food on the stove or in the oven, and an overflowing hamper could mean they don’t have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. Check the expiration dates on their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications and try to determine if they’re taking their medications as prescribed. You know your loved one and their habits best, so go with your gut if something seems off.

Next week, tune in for our blog on How to Handle Signs of Decline.

For more information on caring for aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.


Aging Parents: What to Look for During the Holidays

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 19, 2018
Spring Arbor Living - Assisted Living

When families live far away from one another, the holidays may be the only opportunity that long-distance caregivers and family members have to personally observe older relatives. Age-related decline can happen quickly. Family members who haven't seen their aging loved one since last year may be shocked at what they see: a formerly healthy father looking frail, or a mom whose home was once well-kept now in disarray.

Changes That Indicate the Need to Take Action

For those who have relied on regular telephone conversations and assessment by other closer-living relatives to gauge aging parents' well-being, the upcoming holiday visit may be revealing. Absence – even for a short period – often allows us to observe a situation through new eyes.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. The cause could be as serious as cancer, dementia, heart failure or depression. Or it could be related to a lack of energy to cook for a loved one or just themselves, the waning ability to read the fine print on food labels or difficulty cleaning utensils and cookware. Certain medications and aging in general can change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concern and schedule a doctor's visit to address the issue.


Pay close attention to the way your parent moves, and in particular how they walk. A reluctance to walk or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint or muscle problems or more serious afflictions. And if unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, a serious problem that can cause severe injury or worse.

Emotional Well-Being

Beware of obvious and subtle changes in your loved ones' emotional well-being. You can't always gauge someone's spirits over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Take note for signs of depression, including withdrawal from activities with others, sleep patterns, lost of interest in hobbies, lack of basic home maintenance or personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator not only of depression, but also of dementia or other physical ailments including dehydration, a serious condition sometimes overlooked in elders in the winter months. If you notice sudden odd behavior with your loved one, be sure to seek medical attention as it could be a urinary tract infection which is prevalent in elders and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to surroundings. For instance, your parent may have always been a stickler for neatness or for paying bills promptly. If you discover excess or unsafe clutter and mail that has piled up, a problem may exist. Also, keep an eye out for less obvious indications for concern. Scorched cookware, for example, could be a sign that your parent forgets if the stove is on. An overflowing hamper could mean he or she doesn't have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. And by all means, check prescriptions and medication bottles for expiration dates; and make note of all prescriptions your family member takes and place that information in your personal files as well as the elder's wallet in case of an emergency.

For information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.