There may never be one defining event that alerts you to schedule a tour of an assisted living community, but there are often more subtle signs that can let you know you're heading in that direction.
In life, there really is no "ideal" time for what matters most. Whether you're trying to find the perfect moment to get married, have kids, relocate or switch jobs, there won't be some ringing alarm clock letting you know when to make your move.
The same concept applies to determining when to move a senior parent to assisted living. There may never be one defining event that alerts you to schedule a tour of the surrounding senior communities, but there are signs that can let you know you're heading in that direction. Here are a few to watch out for:
1. Your senior parent needs assistance with daily activities
If you've gone to your parent's house and realized he or she is still wearing pajamas at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, this is an indication that the senior needs help with daily living activities. As the National Institutes of Health explained, assisted living communities help residents with tasks like dressing, eating and bathing. However, the seniors still maintain some level of independence.
While wearing the same outfit twice in row isn't the end of the world, this habit has implications for the senior's hygiene and overall well-being. You want to ensure your parent has fresh clothes and bathes regularly to remain healthy. Additionally, being provided with monitored meals may allow your parent to eat more nutritional foods. According to the NIH, a well-balanced diet can help seniors stave off conditions like Type 2 diabetes, anemia, heart disease and bone loss.
"Falling is the No. 1 cause of traumatic brain injuries in seniors."
2. Your loved one has fallen
When kids fall, they may end up with scraped knees, but they can usually hop right back up. Older adults can't recovery quite as quickly, and taking a tumble comes with serious risks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a serious injury, like head trauma, will occur in 1 in 5 senior falls. In fact, falling is the No. 1 cause of traumatic brain injuries in adults age 65 and older.
Falling doesn't only cause problems for a senior's well-being; it can also inhibit his or her lifestyle. As the CDC noted, older adults may be afraid to fall again, so they avoid remaining active, which can lead to further health decline.
Assisted living communities are built with seniors in mind. That means there will be less of a risk for tripping over clutter in the hallway, and bathrooms are often equipped with railings. Not only might this help prevent the issue from recurring, but it can also offer peace of mind. You certainly don't want your parent sitting inside all day out of fear of getting injured.
3. You've noticed the older adult may need memory care
Many assisted living communities offer memory care, which can be beneficial for seniors experiencing cognitive decline. Remember, serious forgetfulness is not a normal part of aging. That is, leaving their phone at home while running to the grocery might not be cause for concern for older adults, but repeatedly asking the same questions or inability to focus generally raise red flags.
Assisted living communities are beneficial because they can prevent the dangerous repercussions of some of dementia's side effects. For example, those with this condition may wander. The Alzheimer's Association advised families of at-risk individuals to keep a close eye on the senior or put devices on the doors that alert you when they are opened. Assisted living communities can provide both supervision and security.
4. The older adult wants more social opportunities
One of the greatest perks for residents of assisted living communities is the opportunity to socialize. Often, seniors at home are limited to whom they can interact with - perhaps a few friendly neighbors if they're lucky. Assisted living communities, on the other hand, organize exercise classes, outings and community events in addition to supplying a space for residents to hang out.
Spending time with friends and participating in fun activities don't just enhance a senior's quality of life but can also protect their well-being. According to the University of Rochester Medical School, staying social may reduce older adults' risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers.
5. You've become stressed as the caregiver
Your well-being is important, and being a stressed-out caregiver isn't doing your loved one any favors. You might have hesitations about putting your parent in an assisted living community. However, it's important to look at the big picture of the situation. Consider all the benefits your loved one gains by moving and how your family dynamic will change for the better.
You love your parent and want the best for him or her, and keeping all your options open will help you do just that. Assisted living communities provide the perfect balance of care and independence.Read in 4 minutes
Everyday occurrences can easily lead to everyday negativities. And everyday negativities can just as easily lead to unnecessary frustration for you and for the person in your care. Why not try speaking positively?
Caregivers, have you noticed how often what you say may be demeaning to the person in your care, even though you don’t mean to make them feel bad? Everyday occurrences can easily lead to everyday negativities. And everyday negativities can just as easily lead to unnecessary frustration for you and for the person in your care.
Here are some examples of how to incorporate Positive Speak into your daily conversation that will lift the spirits and self-esteem of the person in your care (or at least keep them from feeling bad):
It’s easy to refer to adult diapers by their brand names, or to actually call them diapers. Imagine how they feel about needing to wear them. Instead, try saying this:
The person in your care may not realize that their favorite clothes need washing. It’s possible that the exercise of changing their clothes can be taxing on them. Instead try saying this:
The person in your care may not be in the mood for what you served, or they may not really be hungry. Try asking them how you can get them to eat by saying this:
When someone is dependent upon you for their every need, they oftentimes cause a lot of clutter through no fault of their own.
The person in your care didn’t get to where he or she is overnight. Their current situation comes with their history, and it’s not hard to remind them of the negative aspects of their personality. Try to embrace their stubbornness by deflecting their behavior.
What other ways can you engage in positive speak with the person in your care to encourage a brighter situation?Read in about 3 minutes
Caregivers, if you live a short distance away from the person in your care and not under the same roof, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to do and when to do it. You may also be confronted with resistance to your help by the person in your care.
Caregivers, if you live a short distance away from the person in your care and not under the same roof, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to do and when to do it. You may also be confronted with resistance to your help by the person in your care.
To be sure you’re doing everything that person needs, take a moment to create a plan that will help both of you.
Chances are the person in your care is someone you dearly love, and it’s easy to overlook that fact when you’re rushing around perhaps stopping by after work or in between picking up the kids from school and getting them to music lessons to practice. Make the most of your visits by going beyond just dropping in from time to time. Instead, sit down and visit with them. Tell them how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you in the past. Describe events and moments where you felt your cup overflowing with their love. This exercise will be a reminder to you of the person he or she once was and, despite their situation, still is.
Be sure you have frequent conversations with the person in your care about what’s going on with them. Have there been any changes in their level of pain, emotional stability and medications? Ask them how these things are affecting them. Discuss options for easing pain, whether more frequent visits will help with emotional stability, or whether medication adjustments are necessary. If you find yourself arguing because they are resisting your suggestions, validate their feelings. Tell them that you understand how difficult their situation must be. Ask them what they think will help.
While you’re at it, talk about what’s going on with you. Let them know how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally. You’d be surprised at how much they care about you and welcome the opportunity to help ease some of your burdens.
Pay close attention to changes in the person in your care. Pick one day a week and write down your observations in a journal so that from week to week you can compare your notes to alert you to subtle changes that are occurring. Is it taking longer to eat, dress, or walk from one room to the other? Are they eating well? Is their hearing diminishing? Are they showing signs of memory loss?
If you determine the person in your care needs more help, make arrangements. Schedule doctor visits to address medical and emotional issues. Readjust your schedule or enlist the help of others to spend more time with them. Line up meal deliveries, visiting pets for “fur” therapy, physical therapy/massage appointments and visits by relatives and friends.Read in 2 minutes
It is important to understand home health care cost so you and your family can budget accordingly.
Many people benefit from home health services. This method of care allows seniors to spend their retirement years at home and for those facing disabilities to live a higher quality lifestyle. However, home health services come at a price, and it's important to understand cost so you and your family can budget accurately.
Generally speaking, this avenue of care is less expensive than long-term services from a medical facility. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one month of care in an assisted living community would cost about $3,293 for a one-bedroom unit. Meanwhile, rates for home health services fall far below that. Learn more about prices to determine which route is right for you:
"Patients typically pay $21 per hour for a home health aide."
Home health aide services
Home health aide services involve a caretaker coming to your home to help with a variety of daily living activities. As AARP explained, while these individuals haven't gone through medical school, they must have training and pass a competency test to serve in this position. As such, they can help with basic needs like administering medication and checking vital signs.
According to the HHS, patients typically pay $21 per hour for a home health aide, though this varies depending on the organization, where you live and the services required. Even if you used this service for four hours each day with the aforementioned rate, the monthly cost would still be less than that for assisted living. Additionally, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare may cover the cost of home health aides who provide intermittent or part-time services.
Hospice provides end-of-life care for individuals who have six or less months to live, focusing on symptom and pain management. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Health Affairs, this home service has a high price - costing more than $10,000 a month. However, under original Medicare, individuals pay nothing for this service, except for co-pays for prescription drugs.
In some regards, homemaker services that involve laundry, cooking and cleaning are related to a person's health and well-being. For instance, people with disabilities or arthritis may not be able to tackle these chores on their own. However, even under a doctor's recommendation, Medicare won't cover homemaker services. According to the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, customers pay $19 per hour.
These rates reflect averages, and what you pay depends on many factors. Thoroughly research your provider to ensure you get the best service at an optimal price.Read in 2 minutes
As a family caregiver, you may also hold another job outside of the home. Here are a few suggestions that may help you balance both jobs.
As a family caregiver, you may also hold another job outside of the home. And the threat of losing your job due to chronic tardiness or unforeseen absences can create a legitimate fear that adds yet one more level of stress to your already hectic life. Here are a few suggestions that may help you balance both jobs.
Keep communication lines open with your boss
Avoid complaining and talking about your loved one at work
Divvy up responsibilities with family and friends
Being a caregiver can be overwhelming, and worrying that you’re spending too much time away from work can make your caregiving responsibilities even more difficult. Think about what tasks you do that someone else might be able to do in your place. Make a list of what you do for your loved one and think about who might be able to take on those tasks for you. Here is a sample list you might consider:
Manage your time
Shorten the time you spend at the doctor’s office.
Start applying these tips today to help you remain gainfully employed while you are balancing your caregiver responsibilities.Read in 3 minutes
Does your senior parent need a home health aide? Here's what you can expect.
Many seniors are choosing to "age in place," or live at home during their retirement years. This popular option allows folks to remain involved in their communities and enjoy the comforts of their own homes. However, for some older adults, living independently has its challenges, so they often solicit home health services. If your parent is entertaining the idea of hiring a home health aide, here's what you can expect:
Overview of services
As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained, you need a doctor's approval to start home health services, so be sure you communicate with your parent's physicians about long-term care options. It's also important to have a thorough understanding of the type of services home health care staff provides. According to CMS, these professionals perform the following duties:
That said, the services provided vary depending on the client's needs. For instance, an older adult with limited mobility may receive help bathing and dressing. Meanwhile, home health aides may also assist with meal preparation and grocery shopping.
"Home health services vary depending on the client's needs."
The selection process
Once you, your parent and the overseeing physician have determined that home health services are the right fit, you'll need to select the right home health organization or aide. The doctor should provide a list of local home health services, but it's important to do some research of your own to find the best team or person possible.
Once you've narrowed down your selection, you and your parent should go through an interview process. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advised care seekers read any literature about the organizations and their services, such as the providers' "Patient Bill of Rights," before conducting interviews. When you do have a sit-down with potential care takers, ask about rules on the family's involvement in decision-making, employee training, financing the service, what documentation aides take and emergency protocol.
An adjustment period
Bringing in a home health aide is a major transition. All of a sudden, your parent has a stranger in his or her home, helping the individual dress, bathe and eat. Ensuring you use the same home health aide each day will make the transition easier. It will also help the client and provider build that necessary trust for an effective relationship. Of course, this isn't always possible - home health aides may need time off - but you can voice your concerns about remaining consistent.
Listen to the senior's concerns and feedback to evaluate whether the caregiver is the right fit. Just keep in mind that it may take only a few days or as long as several weeks for your loved one to become comfortable with the home health aide.Read in 2 minutes
Learn more about what you can expect if your senior parent was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Having older parents means your family's life is full of changes. From shifting dynamics of responsibility to relocating homes, transition simply comes with time, and health is no exception. Alzheimer's disease, a condition marked by memory and thinking impairments, predominantly affects seniors. According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, approximately 5.1 million Americans have this disease, and a person's risk increases with age. If a doctor has diagnosed your loved one with Alzheimer's disease, here's what you can expect:
You'll see more changes down the road
As the Alzheimer's Association explained, this condition is progressive, meaning it gets worse with time. How quickly this occurs varies on an individual basis. Post-diagnosis life spans range anywhere from four to 20 years, which creates a lot of uncertainty. Your parent's doctor can provide more insight into his or her unique condition.
Your parent's memory won't be what it once was
According to the Mayo Clinic, those with mild dementia as a result of Alzheimer's disease often forget things they just learned. For example, your loved one may repeat questions because he or she forgot your original answer. Memory gaps may also cause the senior to lose things - you may spend a few extra minutes looking for his or her wallet before leaving the house, or you'll find the TV remote in another room.
You know how frustrating it is to misplace something, so it's important to remain patient and help the senior search for lost items. Additionally, when it's especially important they remember information - like details from a doctor - ask if you can accompany your parent to the appointment so that you can take notes.
Home management will become more challenging
In addition to memory loss, dementia can also lead to poor decision making. As Reader's Digest explained, the cognitive decline can make it difficult for your parent to manage his or her finances and pay bills. You certainly wouldn't want to see your loved one's water or electricity turned off because of a missed payment, so consider lending a hand with these tasks.
Day-to-day duties may also become more difficult. For instance, your parent may select a winter coat to wear when it's 80 degrees outsides. In these cases, you may benefit from hiring a home health aide to assist with responsibilities like dressing and running errands. Even if the senior can still care for him or herself with eating and bathing, for instance, you can hire someone to drive your parent places, pick up groceries or let the dog out, among other tasks.
Seniors may forget to pick up milk at the grocery store or to return your phone call, but serious memory problems are not a normal part of aging. If you suspect your older loved one has dementia, speak with his or her doctor. Additionally, remember that an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis is an adjustment for everyone. Your parent is likely going through an array of emotions knowing he or she has this condition, and it's important to show love and support.Read in 2 minutes
Whether you're making plans for your aging parent or another senior loved one, you're now tasked with transitioning the individual into hospice care.
Caring for an older family member involves any number of major transitions. If you're reading this, you've likely already moved from the home to assisted living to skilled nursing. Now, whether you're making plans for your aging parent or another senior loved one, you're tasked with transitioning the individual into hospice care. Navigating these shifts can be challenging in terms of knowing what next steps to take and simply handling all the emotions they come with.
Every end-of-life care experience is unique, but there are common steps people take when acquiring hospice services for their senior loved ones. Here are a few you may encounter:
Deciding whether end-of-life care is right for the older adult
Before you help your senior loved one through this transition, you'll have to decide whether using hospice care is the best move. Many families are hesitant to say yes to hospice because they may view sending mom or dad to end-of-life care as giving up on the person. This is far from the truth. In fact, utilizing hospice's unique care services may give your senior loved one exactly what he or she needs to remain happy and comfortable.
Patients with a life expectancy of six months are typically the ones who use hospice. However, there's no set-in-stone criteria, and sometimes hospice can be suitable for other patients. Ultimately, it may help to look at the progress of your loved one's health. For example, if your mom has dementia and doesn't want to eat and spends most of her time sleeping, she may benefit from hospice care. Perhaps your dad has made several trips to the emergency room, and his quality of life and health are diminishing equally. He, too, may require hospice care.
Unfortunately, there may never be a "right" time to move the older adult to hospice care, but earlier is generally better than later. Additionally, the staff at the skilled nursing center can help you identify signs that the individual requires end-of-life care, and hospice typically begins with a referral from a physician.
"Hospice is used to enhance the quality of a patient's remaining life."
Selecting a hospice care service
You have two main options when selecting the type of hospice for your loved one: You can either use a facility's services or opt for in-home care, which is the more common route. Families who are unable to be at home with the senior typically use a facility's hospice services, such as a hospital or a skilled nursing center. When using hospice services at home, on the other hand, a family member, will typically serve as the primary caregiver.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, each patient is assigned an interdisciplinary team, which includes a volunteer, registered nurse, home health aide, social worker and chaplain. You may use a referral from your loved one's skilled nursing team, word-of-mouth from a friend or even online reviews to help you select the ideal team.
The Hospice Patients Alliance elaborated on each person's role in delivering care to your loved one.
Changes in the senior's well-being
Hospice is used to enhance the quality of a patient's remaining life. As such, it's not meant to improve the individual's health. Rather, you may see the senior's well-being further decline. As HelpGuide explained, fatigue, confusion, labored breathing and loss of appetite are all common symptoms hospice patient's experience. The older adult's health care team will work to address these issues and make your loved one as comfortable as possible.
As a caregiver, you and the person in your care may not be able or have the time to spend hours in line. See whether you are eligible to vote early or by absentee ballot.
Caregivers, we’re over halfway through the primary season for the 2016 election, and casting your vote in the general election is, of course, very important.
With so much at stake, predictions are that voter turnout will be enormous on Election Day. As a caregiver, you and the person in your care may not be able or have the time to spend hours in line. Some states provide early voting at the polls (which can sometimes mean long lines as well). In many states you might be able to apply for an absentee ballot for yourself and the person in your care.
Each state and the District of Columbia have different rules and regulations about early or absentee voting. To see whether you are eligible to vote early or by absentee ballot:
For your loved ones who reside in independent living, assisted care or a skilled nursing home, ask the administrator to set up an absentee voter application event. Your local government or the League of Women Voters are often willing to help with such events.
Fill out your absentee voter application now so you don’t lose out on exercising your right to vote for our next president.Read in one minute
As your parents age, managing family dynamics can be challenging, which is especially true if your mom and dad need extra care.
As your parents age, managing family dynamics can be challenging. Mom and Dad once called the shots, but as an adult, it's your turn to make those tough decisions. This is especially true if you notice changes in your parents' health and that they may benefit from moving to an assisted living community.
Sharing your perspective with your parents and encouraging them to make the transition will not be easy. However, it's a necessary step if you care about their well-being. Here are some tips to get that important conversation started:
Have an open discussion
Never approach the subject as if you've made a final decision about your parents moving to assisted living. This automatically puts your mom and dad on the defense, making them more likely to resist the transition.
Instead, explain your perspective. Say something like "I'm worried about your safety if you stay at home, especially with going up and down the stairs. I think moving to an assisted living community would provide the care you need." This way, your parents know you're coming from a good place and will be more open to the idea.
Look at the facts
Highlight the specific reasons you think this transition will be beneficial for everyone, which may involve reviewing senior health facts. Take falling, for example. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 million seniors are sent to the emergency room for fall-related injuries each year, and your parents' could be among them. If the underlying reason, which may be anything from declining vision to dizziness, isn't treated, your parents are at risk for recurrent falls and potentially fatal injuries. At an assisted living community, health care professionals could monitor the residents, determine a cause for a fall and make adjustments to prevent it from recurring.
Otherwise, use real-life situations as examples. Perhaps your mom has difficulty getting dressed each day. Maybe your dad can't drive anymore. These are all aspects with which assisted living nurses can help.
Focus on the positives
While encouraging your parents to move to an assisted living facility likely stems from safety and health concerns, this transition can also provide them with a more enjoyable lifestyle overall. These locales have come a long way over the years. Assisted living communities encourage their residents to remain active and social, which is beneficial for both their health and happiness. Your parents will have access to group exercise classes, outings at the park, volunteer opportunities and community involvement.
Invite your parents on a tour of some of the assisted living communities. They'll have a chance to speak with staff and other residents to get a first-hand look at all the amenities and unique lifestyle these spaces offer.
It might take several conversations before you get your parents on board with your idea. Patience is extremely important, as you want your parents to enter the transition with a positive mindset.Read in 2 minutes