5 Ways to Prevent the Blues When You Are a Caregiver

January 21, 2020

Protecting your mental health is vital when you are a caregiver. These five tips can help.

Caring for a senior is rewarding work. It often gives the family elder and the caregiver an opportunity to reconnect and reminiscence. Adult children frequently move a loved one into their home, at least on a temporary basis, to make it easier to care for them. That time together may lead to memories that last a lifetime.

It’s important, however, not to overlook the tough aspects of caregiving. When you are responsible for another person’s health and well-being, the stress can be significant. So can the physical and emotional demands. If the senior has difficulty leaving the home, caregivers may find themselves feeling isolated and alone.

The pressures of the caregiving role may lead you to develop the blues, or a more serious case of depression. Finding ways to look after your mental health and emotional well-being is essential.

Practicing Healthy Self-Care While You Are a Caregiver

  • Eat well

When you are run down from juggling too many responsibilities, it’s not just your physical health that deteriorates. Your mental health may also suffer. That’s just one of the many reasons caregivers need to stick to a healthy diet. While it might not seem possible when your schedule is already overbooked, eating a well-balanced diet will give you the energy you need to be a better caregiver.

This is an area where friends and family can pitch in. Lotsa Helping Hands makes it easy for loved ones to sign up to deliver meals to you. If you aren’t comfortable with that, consider using a home-delivered meal service like Sun Basket, Silver Cuisine, or Hello Fresh.

  • Laugh

The old adage that laughter is the best medicine is a truthful one, especially when you are a caregiver. By staying in touch with people who make you laugh and boost your spirits, you may be able to prevent the caregiver blues or a bout with depression. In-person visits, at least once or twice a month, are best. In between, you can use video chat services or FaceTime to enjoy more meaningful talks with friends.

  • See the doctor

Family caregivers are notorious for neglecting their own health. If you’ve gotten away from having an annual physical and staying on track with important screenings, schedule an appointment with your doctor today. When you visit them, make sure to explain that you are a caregiver under considerable stress.

  • Exercise

Don’t make the mistake of equating being busy with exercising. While caregivers usually have full schedules, they need to make time for exercise to avoid a health crisis. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and tai chi offer both mental and physical benefits. It may be easier to work exercise in to your day if you break it up into 10- or 15-minute sessions two or three times a day.

  • Accept help

Caregivers often feel that no one else will provide a loved one with the kind of care they can. This may lead them to turn down offers of help and to not explore professional senior care options. It’s vital to understand, however, that no one can do it all alone. Having a few hours of time to yourself will make you a better parent, spouse, employee, and caregiver. One solution to consider is respite care in an assisted living community. The senior will enjoy the same services as long-term residents, giving the caregiver time to take a break.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

Respite care is often a great way to get to know an assisted living community. It gives the senior an opportunity to see if the community is a good fit while giving a weary caregiver time to relax and restore their own well-being. If you are a caregiver for a senior who lives in the Southeast, we invite you to visit a Legacy Senior Living community near you to learn more about our services.

Preventing Holiday Depression When You Are a Caregiver

December 16, 2019

Are you a caregiver struggling to navigate the holidays? This information may help.

Caregivers and depression

For family caregivers, the “most wonderful time of the year” might be anything but. Juggling caregiving duties with a family, career, and the holidays can add up to too much stress. For some caregivers, it can lead to a case of the blues or a more serious diagnosis of depression. Understanding what may be triggering the downward turn in your emotions may help you figure out what to do to prevent it.

Here are a few common reasons caregivers and seniors experience holiday blues and depression:

  • Unrealistic expectations: The role of caregiver is a demanding one. When you add the hectic pace of the holidays to the mix, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.
  • Missing out: It can be isolating to be a caregiver for a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease or another health condition that makes it unsafe for them to stay alone. This is especially true when friends and family members are gathering to celebrate the season.
  • Unresolved grief: Adult children often take on the role of primary caregiver for one parent after the death of another. The demands of caring for a loved one whose health is declining can prevent you from having time to process the grief of losing another beloved family member.
  • Lack of sunlight: Cold winter days may make it tough for a caregiver to get out into the sunlight. For some, a lack of exposure to the sun can lead to a medical condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a serious health issue that often requires medical intervention.

While many assume it’s normal to feel a little blue when they are struggling to manage the demands of caregiving, it’s important to know that depression is not a normal sign of caregiver stress.

Common Warning Signs of Depression

The most common symptoms of depression at any time of year, including the holidays, are:

  • Feelings of sadness that persist for a few weeks or more
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes
  • Fatigue that doesn’t improve with a good night’s rest
  • Easily triggered crying spells
  • Change in disposition or frequent mood swings
  • Feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
  • Unintentional weight gain or loss
  • Problems with sleep, including sleeping too much or too little
  • Shortened attention span or inability to concentrate

If more than one or two of these symptoms describe your current situation, you might have the holiday blues or a more serious case of depression.

Beating the Holiday Blues

To help boost your mood, try the following interventions:

  • Use respite care at an assisted living community so you have time to join in the holiday festivities.
  • Take advantage of technologies like video chat and social media to stay connected to friends and family.
  • Pay careful attention to your diet. Eating healthy foods and avoiding alcoholic beverages that may exacerbate symptoms of depression might help.
  • Be kind to yourself. Accept that when you are a caregiver, it is essential to lower your expectations for the holidays and avoid putting unrealistic pressure on yourself.
  • Ask for help. Caregivers aren’t always good about asking for or accepting assistance. Give yourself permission to do both so you have more time to focus on engaging in activities that bring you joy.
  • Talk with your physician about using a sun lamp to help overcome the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. They are designed to mimic the sun’s rays and boost mental health.

If your symptoms don’t resolve, call your physician. While it may be difficult to admit you need help, getting the medical attention you need is important.

Legacy Senior Living Respite Care

Respite is a short-term care solution that gives family caregivers an opportunity to take a break. Your senior loved one can be our guest and enjoy the same care, services, and amenities as our long-term residents.

Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!

Honoring Those Who Provide Care during Family Caregivers Month

November 4, 2019

November is National Family Caregivers Month. This information will help family caregivers find ways to manage their many responsibilities.

If you or someone you know is caring for an aging parent and their own family, you know a member of the “sandwich generation.” These caregivers juggle the responsibilities of both their younger and senior loved ones. About 60% of sandwich generation caregivers also work outside the home.

For family caregivers, this combination often leads to overbooked days and sleepless nights. To honor those who take on this role, November has been designated as National Family Caregivers Month. This year’s theme, “Caregiving Around the Clock,” shines the spotlight on the around-the-clock challenges family caregivers experience.

Coping with the Challenges of Family Caregiving

Studies show people involved in caring for several generations of their family suffer from higher rates of headaches, digestive problems, back pain, and depression. The stress and frantic pace of their days can also weaken their immune system. This puts them at higher risk for colds and the flu.

Finding positive ways to manage the demands of caregiving is essential to protecting caregivers’ physical and mental health. Here are a few suggestions to explore if you or someone you know is a sandwich generation caregiver:

  • Ask for and accept help:

    Caregivers sometimes hesitate to accept help. One of the best ways a caregiver can protect their health and ability to support those they love is understanding no one can do it alone. Accept help when it is offered. If no one offers, ask.

  • Connect with respite providers:

    Another option to consider is respite care. There are a variety of senior care organizations that provide short-term support, including assisted living communities and home care agencies. Some churches also have friendly visitor programs whereby volunteers visit homebound seniors.

  • Practice healthy self-care:

    This may seem unrealistic when you are overwhelmed with the responsibilities of sandwich generation caregiving, but self-care is vital. A healthy diet, exercise, and sleep are essential. So is staying on track with your own medical appointments and routine screenings.

  • Join a support group:

    No one understands the unique challenges of caring for several generations of your family like a fellow sandwich generation caregiver. By joining an online caregiver support group, you can ask for and share insights about managing the job.

  • Explore convenience services:

    In recent years, a variety of convenience services have made their way into even the most rural communities. From curbside grocery pick-up to home-delivered meal programs, there are a variety of ways caregivers can simplify their days. Think about the tasks that eat away at your schedule and explore avenues for handling them. Your local agency on aging might have services in place to help. Call to learn more about programs like lawn care, transportation, and Meals on Wheels.

  • Be realistic:

    Finally, set realistic expectations for yourself. It is okay to scale back traditional celebrations into more manageable ones. For example, while you might want to host an elaborate holiday dinner, a potluck might be better.

At Legacy Senior Living, we know the vital role respite can play in supporting a caregiver. Our respite guests enjoy the same care, services, and amenities as our long-term residents. We extend an open invitation for you to visit us and learn more. Call the Legacy community nearest you to set up a time.

Ideas for Working Exercise into a Busy Caregiver Day

October 21, 2019

Caregivers often make their own health a low priority. It can lead to a health crisis. These tips can help busy caregivers find time to exercise.

Here are tips for exercising as a caregiver

Finding time for self-care isn’t easy when you are a busy family caregiver. Depending on how much care your relative needs and how far away they live, making time to exercise three or four days a week might seem unrealistic. The reality is, caregivers need to think of exercise as a necessity and not a luxury.

There is considerable evidence to show that caregivers who don’t take care of themselves end up experiencing a health crisis. Ask yourself, who will be able to care for your senior loved one if that happens? Fortunately, there are easy ways to work exercise into a busy caregiver’s schedule.

Exercise Tips for Family Caregivers

1. Master desk aerobics

If you work outside the home, as many family caregivers do, finding time to exercise can be even more difficult. Getting creative during the workday can help. If you spend even part of your day at a desk, try exercising from a seated position. Under the desk bike pedal exercisers are an option to explore. Desk aerobics can help build strength and flexibility. You might also want to consider replacing your desk chair with an exercise ball, at least for part of the workday.

2. Change your habits

In the course of a busy day, most of us look for ways to get things done quickly. From looking for the nearest parking spot to taking the elevator instead of climbing the stairs, our lifestyles are built around convenience. When you are trying to work more exercise into your day, however, convenience should take a back seat.

Whenever you can do so safely, park far away from the door. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and maybe go up and down them a few extra times. Do a few squats or lunges when you are on the phone or drying your hair in the morning. The goal is to find small ways to take more steps or engage in a little exercise throughout the day.

3. Exercise with your senior loved one

Exercising with the family member you are caring for is another option. Talk with their physician about what types of exercise are a good fit for them. Chair yoga, walking, hand weights, resistance bands, and swimming are a few to consider. If you enjoy bike riding, purchasing an adult tricycle might be a way for your older loved one to safely join you for a spin around the neighborhood.

4. Divide and conquer to meet exercise goals

Physicians often suggest adults set a goal of 150 minutes of exercise each week. For a busy caregiver, that can sound overwhelming. The good news is even 10 or 15 minutes of exercise at a time can yield the same results as working out for longer periods of time.

Take a look at your schedule each day and look for times you can work in short periods of exercise. It might be a 15-minute yoga session before you take your morning shower or 20 minutes on a recumbent bike while you are watching the evening news.

Respite for the Weary Caregiver

If your caregiving duties have you feeling worn out and stressed out, there is a short-term care solution you might want to consider. Respite at an assisted living community gives your loved one a safe place to stay while you take a break.

Legacy communities offer respite for a few days or a few weeks. You can take advantage of this type of care as often as you need to. Respite guests enjoy the same level of care and the same type of services as long-term residents. Call the community nearest you to learn more or schedule a tour!

Overcoming Caregiver Isolation and Staying Connected

September 9, 2019

If your role as a caregiver has left you feeling lonely and isolated, these tips can help you find balance again.

Caregiver isolation

Becoming a caregiver for an older family member can be rewarding. Providing one-on-one support to someone who cared for you as a child may allow the two of you to build meaningful memories during what is often a difficult time. The downside of family caregiving, however, is that it can be isolating, especially if the senior has challenges that make it tough for them to leave the house.

How Do Caregivers Become Isolated?

While it usually doesn’t happen overnight, caregivers often find themselves isolated and alone as time goes on. It usually starts gradually. The caregiver gives up a few favorite hobbies or social organizations they just don’t have time for. As the senior loved one’s condition worsens, the family member gives up more and more. They often fail to realize how lonely they’ve become until considerable time has passed.

Here are two more reasons a family caregiver may become isolated:

  • Sense of obligation: Adult children and spouses who are caregivers might feel a strong sense of obligation when it comes to taking care of their family member. This leads them to think no one else can provide the quality of care their loved one needs and deserves. Even if other family members offer to help, they may decline the assistance.
  • Not familiar with senior care: Some family caregivers don’t realize how many senior care options are available in their area. While most know about nursing homes, fewer are familiar with respite care, adult day centers, and assisted living communities. Short-term care, also known as respite care, at an assisted living community can give a weary caregiver an opportunity to take a break for a week or so. It also allows them to test out the community and see if it is a good fit for the senior to move to on a long-term basis.

If you are a family caregiver who is battling loneliness and isolation, we have a few suggestions for helping you reconnect.

3 Ways to Regain Balance When You Are a Caregiver

  1. Investigate senior care options: Most caregivers are surprised to discover how many senior care options are available in their own neighborhood. If you aren’t familiar with them, a great place to start learning more is the local area agency on aging. This nonprofit agency designed to address the needs of older adults often maintains connections with senior living communities and transportation services.
  2. Reconnect with friends and loved ones: Having a strong social network is good for your mental and physical well-being. If you’ve lost touch with your support system while you’ve been busy caregiving, make a list of individuals you want to reconnect with. Call one or two people a day to catch up. Let them know you have missed them and that the responsibilities of caregiving are the reason you’ve been out-of-touch. Try to plan something fun—away from the duties of caregiving—once or twice a month. Discuss quick ways you can stay connected when caregiving duties are at their peak, such as text messaging, social media, and video chat.
  3. Join a support group: Connecting with fellow caregivers who understand the challenges you face can also decrease the loneliness you might be experiencing. There are probably support groups that meet in your local area at libraries, senior centers and assisted living communities. If it is more convenient to connect online, the Family Caregiver Alliance has a host of support groups you can explore.

One final suggestion is to try not to feel guilty if you take time out from caregiving to enjoy your life. It is a fairly common emotion for caregivers to struggle with. “Advice for Overcoming Caregiver Guilt and Finding Peace” has some solid tips for managing it.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

If you would like to learn more about day-stay programs at communities in the southeast, we invite you to call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you. With locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, there is likely a community near you.

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

August 12, 2019

An online caregiver support group can help adult children and family members find ways to manage the challenges they face.

Being a caregiver for a senior loved one can be a rewarding experience. Whether it is helping a grandparent get back on their feet after a serious illness or caring for an aging parent whose health is declining, caregiving creates a sense of purpose. Knowing you are making a difference in the life of someone you love is gratifying, but with it also comes natural challenges.

Over the long term, caregiving can become physically and emotionally exhausting. As the demands of the role increase, it’s common for a caregiver to feel fatigued, overwhelmed, and isolated from their old life. The emotional side of watching a loved one’s health deteriorate is also difficult.

Because the demands of caring for a family member are so unique, caregivers may feel alone in their struggles. While friends may empathize, they don’t always understand the challenges. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, between 40 and 70 percent of family caregivers find themselves battling depression caused by their caregiving situation.

One way to manage the rollercoaster of emotions and challenges that come with caregiving is by connecting with peers. Joining a caregiver support group allows you to do just that.

The Role of Caregiver Support Groups

Support groups give caregivers a judgement-free place to discuss their fears and frustrations, as well as seek advice from those who may have found a solution to a particular caregiver challenge. Some people might want a group that meets in person at a local church or assisted living care community. Other caregivers may feel more comfortable with the anonymity of an online support group.

The 24/7 accessibility of online support groups makes it easier for busy caregivers to participate. Caregivers can post questions or challenges in chat forums or on message boards any time of day or night.

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

If you’d like to connect with an online caregiver support group, here are a few to explore:

  • AlzConnected: This popular support forum is hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association. It gives dementia caregivers access to a wide variety of resources, in addition to message boards and chat rooms. This resource offers support to both adults with dementia and to family members who are caring for them.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: A comprehensive caregiver resource site, Family Caregiver Alliance also hosts unmoderated support groups for caregivers. Explore the options and find one with members who share issues and concerns similar to yours.
  • CareGiving.com: Another site to investigate and connect with fellow caregivers is CareGiving.com. Their resources and forums cover a variety of topics ranging from where to buy adult briefs at the best price to how to know when it’s time for a move to a senior living community.

Each of these resources can help you find a peer group where you can share the highs and lows of caring for a loved one.

Tour Legacy Senior Living and Meet Our Caregivers

At Legacy Senior Living communities, you will find some of the most experienced, compassionate caregivers in the industry. We invite you to visit and learn more about our process for screening and training caregivers. Call (423) 478-8071 to set up a time!

The Unique Challenges of Caregiving for a Grandparent

July 8, 2019

Caregiving for a Grandparent

When the topic of family caregiving comes up, most of us picture a spouse or adult child as the caregiver, not a grandchild. As our population continues to age, however, an increasing number of grandchildren are taking on this role. In fact, estimates are one-in-twelve grandchildren in the US have assumed the role of caregiver.

In 2015, the National Alliance and AARP conducted research on the topic of caregiving for grandparents. They found that 5.3 million adult grandchildren were caregiving for a grandparent. This represents 10% of the family caregiver population. While most are happy to help provide care for a grandparent, they often encounter different types of challenges than other caregivers.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver for a grandparent, these tips might be useful.

4 Meaningful Tips for Providing Care to a Grandparent

  1. Don’t give up your own life: While caregiving for a grandparent who cared for you is important and rewarding work, don’t put your own life on hold. Stay in touch with friends, and make a point of sticking with college or career plans. Ask for and accept help when you need it.
  2. Develop good stress-management skills: Caregiving is stressful and physically exhausting at any age, but especially for younger adults. Adding to that is the emotional stress that comes from watching a grandparent’s health decline. Grandchildren may also struggle to manage college life or early career demands with caregiving duties. Young adults might not have the life experience to develop healthy coping skills. Exploring stress-reducing activities, like meditating, journaling, swimming, or yoga, might be beneficial. It’s also important to learn to recognize and avoid unhealthy coping methods including overeating, smoking, or consuming too much alcohol.
  3. Learn about respite care: No one can do it alone when it comes to caregiving. If no one else in the family can help with caregiving duties, consider utilizing respite care. This short-term care option gives an older adult a safe place to stay at an assisted living community for a few days or weeks.
  4. Connect with a support group: While non-caregiving friends may be able to sympathize, it’s hard for them to understand a caregiver’s life. The peer to peer support of fellow caregivers is best. Some grandchildren might prefer an in-person support group, and others may want to connect with an online support group. Your local agency on aging might help you find one to attend in your local area. If you’d prefer an online support group, The Family Caregiver Alliance and ALZ Connected are two resources to consider.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

If you are a caregiver for a grandparent and you are feeling weary and overwhelmed, respite care might be the solution. Your senior loved one can stay at a Legacy Senior Living community while you restore your sense of well-being. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

Helpful Hints for Managing Caregiver Stress

June 10, 2019

Helpful Hints for Managing Caregiver Stress

Managing caregiver stress is vital to staying healthy and avoiding a crisis of your own. These tips will help you do just that.

As our population continues to gray, more spouses and adult children find themselves stepping into the role of caregiver. Sometimes it is short term while the senior recovers from a hospital stay. Many times, however, it is because the older adult has a medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Juggling caregiver responsibilities with career and family can be difficult. It is important that caregivers learn to recognize the early signs of caregiver overload and know what to do about it. Unfortunately, busy caregivers who fail to do so may end up experiencing a health crisis of their own.

8 Common Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress

Here are some of the most common signs that a caregiver is under too much stress:

  1. Cries or becomes tearful easily
  2. Frequently gets angry or overreacts
  3. Unintended weight gain or weight loss
  4. Develops unhealthy coping behaviors (smoking, drinking)
  5. Sleeps too much or too little
  6. Withdraws from friends and family
  7. Loses interest in favorite hobbies and pastimes
  8. Suffers from headaches, stomach problems, or frequent colds

Taking steps to manage stress before it causes a serious health crisis is important. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

Healthy Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress

When it feels like caregiver stress is beginning to take over your life, a few of these tips may help you get back on track:

  • Respite care: Explore respite care options in your local community. Home care agencies and assisted living communities typically offer short-term support when a caregiver needs a break. An adult day program may also help.
  • Friendly visitors: Some nonprofit organizations, churches, and synagogues have friendly visitor programs that can be lifesaving for caregivers. Volunteers pay visits to homebound seniors to spend time with them. They may just talk and share or they come to read or do crafts. Your local agency on aging can help you locate a friendly visitor program near you.
  • Eat well: When you are pressed for time, it’s easier to grab fast food or rely on convenience foods. Most aren’t very healthy. When your diet is poor, your immune system can become compromised. For a caregiver, a cold or bout with the flu can be especially problematic. If you can’t find time to cook and freeze meals once a week, consider meal delivery services. Silver Cuisine and Sun Basket deliver healthy, pre-cooked meals directly to your door.
  • Exercise: Daily physical activity does more than keep you fit. It also helps manage stress. If your schedule won’t allow for 30 minutes of exercise, you can break these minutes down and still get the same benefit. For example, a 15-minute walk in the morning and a 15-minute bike ride in the afternoon will net the same rewards as 30 continuous minutes of either activity.
  • Journaling: Getting your feelings down on paper frees your mind from carrying a difficult emotional load. It often helps you find solutions to caregiving issues. Journaling to Help Manage Caregiver Stress can give you some ideas for how to get started.

Our final tip is to try to accept that, despite your best efforts, there are times when a senior loved one is better off living in an assisted living community. From a thoughtfully designed environment to a wide variety of life enrichment programs, assisted living helps seniors live their best quality of life.

Call Legacy Senior Living at (423) 478-8071 to learn more!

Home Safety Checklist for Caregivers of Older Adults

May 9, 2019

If you are concerned a senior’s home isn’t safe, this home safety checklist can help you conduct an assessment. From fall hazards to lighting, here’s what to look for.

If you spent time at an older loved one’s home during your spring holiday, you may have wondered if they are safe living alone. Family members often find themselves trying to evaluate a senior’s home for safety. Making that determination is tough when you aren’t sure what you should be looking for.

That’s why we put together this home safety checklist. We hope it will help families identify potential problem spots around a senior loved one’s home. From in-home fall hazards to lighting concerns, here’s what caregivers should look for when conducting a safety assessment.

Safety Risks to Identify in a Senior’s Home

General security concerns:       

  • Do exterior doors and windows have working locks?
  • Is a home security system with signs displayed prominently to discourage break-ins?
  • Are flashlights strategically placed throughout the home including on the bedside table, on a table near the senior’s favorite spot in the living area, and in the basement?
  • Does the senior have two or more cordless phones so they can keep one with them at all times?
  • Is there a process for making sure the proper dosage of each medication is taken at the right time?

Potential fall hazards:   

  • Is the area surrounding the senior’s favorite spot to sit in the living room free from clutter and tripping hazards?
  • Are grab bars in place near the bedside, tub, and toilet?
  • Are cords secure and out of the way so as not to create a fall risk?
  • Is the home free from throw rugs that can be a trip-and-fall hazard?
  • Does the senior have nonskid slippers or shoes to wear around the house?
  • Are transitions between rooms level and in good condition?
  • Is adequate lighting present in all areas of the home, but especially near stairs and in bathrooms?
  • Are night-lights strategically placed in locations that the senior uses most often, such as the pathways to the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom?
  • Does the senior have a walk-in tub or shower with a seat?
  • If needed, does the bathroom have a raised toilet seat?

Stairways and steps:

  • Are stairways well lit with on-off switches at both the top and bottom?
  • Are railings strong enough for an adult to pull themselves up with?
  • Is the stairway free from clutter that could cause a fall?
  • Are treads or carpeting on each step secure and level?

Fire and carbon monoxide safety:     

  • Does each level of the house have at least one working smoke detector?
  • Is a smoke detector located right outside the room the senior sleeps in?
  • Does the home have a carbon monoxide detector?
  • Is the furnace inspected twice each year?
  • Does the senior have a light-weight, easy-to-use fire extinguisher in the kitchen?
  • Are dials on the stove accessible without needing to reach over burners?

Home exterior safety risks:

  • Are exterior steps and stairways in good repair?
  • Do outdoor stairs have strong handrails?
  • Do exterior doors and walkways have working motion lights?
  • Are the driveway and sidewalks free from cracks and crevices that can lead to trip-and-fall accidents?
  • Is a winter snow and ice removal plan in place for older adults who live in colder climates?

If you find your senior’s home presents too many safety concerns, it may be time to consider a change. An independent or assisted living community can be an option to consider. Call (423) 478-8071 today to learn more!

What Questions Should You Ask During an Assisted Living Community Tour?

April 8, 2019

right questions

Asking the right questions is an important part of choosing an assisted living community. These tips will help you know what to ask.

When families begin to explore assisted living communities for a senior loved one, knowing the right questions to ask is important. While a beautiful lobby and plush grounds are nice features, making an informed decision requires learning more about the community’s quality of care and how it operates.

Here are nine questions you’ll want to ask each assisted living community you are considering.

9 Questions to Ask When Touring an Assisted Living Community

  1. How does the community recruit, screen, and train its caregivers?

Quality care is dependent upon having experienced, compassionate caregivers. Ask questions that help you determine how team members are recruited and screened.

It’s also important to learn more about the community’s training program. After the initial orientation and training period, what else is done to help team members continue to learn and grow as professionals?

  1. Pay attention to relationships

This tip is more of an observation than a question, but it’s an important factor in making a solid decision. As you are touring an assisted living community, pay close attention to the relationships and interactions between staff and residents. Do residents seem happy and engaged? Do staff members know residents and family members’ names? Facial expressions and body language can tell a story so it’s essential to pay attention.

  1. What is the community’s staff turnover rate?

Caring for older adults isn’t easy, physically or emotionally. That’s why the staff turnover rate is higher in assisted living and memory care communities than in independent living properties. A staff turnover rate that is too high, however, may be a sign that an assisted living community isn’t well-managed.

Remember, when staff turnover is low, residents, caregivers, and families have an opportunity to get to know and trust one another. This promotes stronger continuity of care.

  1. How many caregivers are there for residents?

The caregiver-to-resident ratio is an important factor in providing quality care. When an assisted living community is well staffed, caregivers have ample time to spend with each resident. Staff members are also able to detect small changes in health and intervene early when they aren’t rushed.

  1. What happens if a resident needs more care?

Sometimes a senior’s needs change after they move to an assisted living community. Make certain you ask what will happen if your loved one needs more assistance. Can they get more help at the community or will they need to move again? Moving can be difficult at any age, but especially so for an older adult with declining health.

  1. What does the monthly fee include?

Every assisted living community prices their services differently. This can make it difficult for families to compare the cost of one assisted living community with another. Ask for a detailed list of what is included in the monthly fee. Just as important, ask what additional expenses you should expect each month.

  1. How often do monthly fees increase?

Expenses associated with operating an assisted living community increase each year. Caregivers earn raises, the cost of groceries goes up, as do supplies, insurance expenses, and utilities. Make sure you understand how much rates typically increase and how often. Also, ask how much notice your family will be given before rates go up.

  1. Where can you see a copy of the community’s state survey results?

Every state regulates assisted living communities differently, but they all conduct surveys to ensure that rules are being followed. Ask the sales person or the executive director where you can review the community’s state survey results. Some states publish them online to make it easier for consumers to gain access.

  1. What documents will you be required to sign?

Before you leave the community, ask for copies of the documents you would be required to sign should your loved one decide to live there. Then take time to review them and make a list of follow-up questions. You’ll want to make sure you know how deposits are handled, how much notice you will need to give if your family member wants to move again, and other financial details. Some families find it helpful to have an attorney review the documents and point out any potential concerns.

Talking to a Senior about Moving

If you’ve been putting off having a conversation with your senior loved one about moving, know that you aren’t alone. Many adult children view this topic as a tough one to handle.

We created “6 Tips for Talking about Assisted Living with a Senior” to help families like yours. You’ll find suggestions for everything from what words to use to how to handle resistance. You can also call Legacy Senior Living at 423-478-8071 with any questions about assisted living!