Home for the Holidays: How to Evaluate if a Senior Needs Help

October 30, 2017

Evaluate senior needs

Are you concerned that your senior loved one may be need some assistance? These guidelines will help you objectively evaluate the situation.

Most of us want to make sure our parents, grandparents, and other senior loved ones are well taken care of as they grow older. But how can you evaluate when a senior you love needs extra help if they don’t ask for it?

This generation of elders is known for being fiercely independent. So it’s important to remember they might be reluctant to admit they need a little extra help.

Like many of us, seniors want to remain as independent as they can for as long as possible. That’s why you probably shouldn’t wait for an older loved one to ask for help, especially if they think it might require moving from the home they’ve lived in for years.

How can you evaluate your senior loved one’s circumstances? And decide if it’s time to talk with them about personal care support or help with household chores and tasks?

If you’re headed home for the holidays, plan to spend a little time assessing the situation.

How to Tell if a Senior Loved One Needs a Little Extra Help

There are almost always telltale signs that a senior is in need of help. Here are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for if you’re wondering how well your senior loved one is managing.

Environmental Signs a Senior Needs Support

We’ll start with a few signs to watch for in your senior loved one’s environment that might indicate they are struggling.

Begin by taking a good, honest look around their house and yard when you visit. If you notice some of the following, it might be time to consider a little assistance.

  • A messy house, including dirty dishes, clutter, overflowing trash and an overall inattention to cleanliness
  • Frequent, unpleasant odors in the home – these can be a sign of emotional, physical, or cognitive decline
  • The exterior of the house and/or the yard seem to be in a state of disrepair
  • Scratches or holes in the walls, which can indicate mobility problems

Physical Signs

Next, let’s have a look at physical signs that may indicate your senior loved one might need extra help.

  • A persistently disheveled appearance might suggest a senior is experiencing physical or emotional difficulties
  • Frequent, unexplained bruises or scrapes on your senior loved one’s body can be a strong indicator of physical struggles, especially falls
  • Unintended weight loss or weight gain might be a sign of nutrition problems, physical illness, or depression

Cognitive and Emotional Signs

Then there are warning signs that the problems might stem from a decline in cognition or emotional wellness, such as:

  • Persistent forgetfulness can be a sign of dementia, especially if the senior has trouble remembering important appointments, names, and social activities.
  • Confusion and/or difficulty keeping track of time are both warning signs of cognitive decline.
  • Consistent agitation and frequent mood changes are often symptoms of deteriorating mental or emotional health.
  • Be especially wary if the agitation or mood swings seem to worsen as it grows later in the day. This may be evidence of something called Sundowner’s Syndrome. Sundowners is common among people with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Marked or sudden changes in their daily routine, including sleep problems or withdrawing from favorite hobbies and social groups can all be signals that something is awry.

What to Do if Your Senior Loved One Needs Help

We know you’re devoted to your senior loved ones and want to do what’s best for them. You wouldn’t be here seeking this type of information if you didn’t. The best approach is to remain calm but begin to take action.

Use a calendar to document your concerns and the dates they occurred on. It will help you begin to spot trends. This is also good information to share with your senior loved one’s physician when you call to schedule an appointment for your family member.

And, yes, scheduling a wellness visit with their primary care physician is important if you suspect a problem with an older loved one.

And remember that we’re always here to help.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a tour of our Legacy Senior Living communities.

5 Questions to Ask on a Senior Living Community Tour

October 2, 2017

Assisted living checklist

Asking questions is an important part of finding the right senior living community for your loved one. This list will help you make the most of your assisted living tour.

Deciding what type of care is the best fit for an older loved one can feel like an overwhelming decision to make. The truth is, senior care isn’t a topic many people talk about. So when families begin their search for the right senior living community, they often struggle to understand the different levels of care and what each one offers.

Then there are the difficult emotions that are involved in the search for care: guilt, fear, and the seemingly endless uncertainty. There’s also the possibility of intense debate or disagreement among family members. Throw in the financial considerations and logistics of a move, and you might end up in a situation where life seems to be changing at the speed of light.

Taking time to learn more about each option is important. And that includes knowing what questions to ask each potential care provider that you visit.

5 Questions to Ask on a Senior Living Community Tour

We’ve compiled a list of five important questions to ask as you are taking a tour of an assisted living community. This list can help you organize your efforts and reduce some of the stress and uncertainty.

Now let’s talk about at the questions you will want to ask.

  1. What’s available?

First, find out what apartments or suites will be available within the time frame that your loved one has to relocate. Also, find out if the community has a waiting list. If they do have one, ask how long it is.

  1. How much privacy and independence is there?

Ask about the level of privacy and independence your loved one will have if they choose to live in this community. Will they have a private room or apartment? Is seating at meal times assigned or are they free to sit where they want? Privacy and independence are big concerns for most seniors, so don’t hesitate to explore every detail surrounding these issues.

  1. What type of events and activities are offered?

Ask for detailed information about social activities, outings and coordinated events. One of the main reasons you’re probably considering a senior community is to ensure that your  loved one has companionship and ample opportunities for stimulation and fun. So at some point during the tour, ask about the frequency and variety of social activities the community offers. See if the community has a few past months of activity calendars you can review.

  1. What’s included in the fees?

Ask what is and is not included in the senior living community’s monthly fee. It’s very important that you understand exactly what your fees cover and what services will cost extra. Asking what isn’t included can help you avoid unwelcomed surprises on the first bill.

  1. What safety precautions and staffing are in place?

Ask about any safety and security concerns you might have. Find out if the bathrooms and common areas are equipped with the necessary handrails and any other aids your loved one might need. Inquire about which hospital the community uses in emergency situations. Finally, ask how the community is staffed during business hours, after hours and on weekends.

In addition to the questions above, the AARP maintains a handy checklist that will provide you with a very detailed list of what to look for during your tour.

We love questions at Legacy Senior Living!

The senior living experts at Legacy are always happy to answer questions about senior living. So please don’t hesitate to contact us with yours! When you call, be sure to ask about our Commitment to People. It’s one of the programs that exemplifies our dedication to helping older adults thrive at any age.

Spread the Word: It’s National Senior Citizens’ Day

August 21, 2017

Senior Couple with surfboard smiling on beachAugust 21st is National Senior Citizens’ Day. While this day doesn’t get quite the fanfare enjoyed by the more glamorous and well-known holidays, it deserves recognition nevertheless.

Older adults play an important role in every culture by providing a type of wisdom, talent, and knowledge that’s hard to come by without the benefit of age. August 21st is designated as a time for the nation to collectively recognize the contributions our older generations have made—and will continue to make.

Spreading the Word about National Senior Citizens’ Day

To help you spread the word about National Senior Citizens’ Day, here are some inspiring older adults whose amazing accomplishments will bring you a renewed respect for your older friends and family. Use their stories to raise awareness by casually slipping them into conversation this week.

5 People Who Rocked the World after the Age of 65

Here’s a short list of 5 older adults who are impressive on every level.

  1. Nelson Mandela, Elected President of South Africa (age 75)

Nelson Mandela’s accomplishments range far and wide, but perhaps the crowning achievement of his career was being elected President of South Africa’s first post-apartheid government.

  1. Benjamin Franklin, Signed the Declaration of Independence (age 70)

Not only did this founding father pen his name to that famous document, but eleven years later, at age 81, he signed an equally famous document: the Constitution of the United States.

  1. Ronald Reagan, Elected President of the USA (age 69)

President Reagan was the oldest person ever elected President of the United States. He was also, coincidentally, the president who proclaimed National Senior Citizens’ Day! A member of the ‘greatest generation’, President Reagan did his country proud and served us all in numerous ways.

  1. Colonel Sanders, Founded KFC (age 65)

You can blame a measly Social Security check for the invention of this fast food giant. Love it or hate it, KFC is an American institution, and it never would have come about if Colonel Sanders hadn’t been looking for a way to supplement his Social Security and live better in his retirement years.

  1. Diana Nyad, Swam from Cuba to Florida (age 64)

She wasn’t quite 65, but we’ll let that slide. Diana Nyad became the first person to make the swim from Cuba to Florida without the comfort and safety of a shark cage. Though she did have a team of protective shark divers around her, we think it’s still very impressive!

Legacy Senior Living Salutes Older Americans

While not everyone is setting world records or changing the world after the age of 65, these older Americans show us all that we should never let age stand in our way. We hope you take this to heart and strike up some great conversations this week, especially on August 21.

Here at Legacy Senior Living, we honor older adults every day, in every way we can. We consider it an honor to serve and care for the generation that helped build the nation we all live in today. It’s written into our mission statement and lived out in everything we do in all our communities throughout the Southeast. If you’re currently looking for a senior living community, please consider a Legacy community near you.

Fill out the handy contact form on our website to learn more or to schedule a private tour!

The Value-based Benefits of Assisted Living

July 31, 2017

Value of Senior LivingIf you’re comparing costs with various assisted living communities, keep in mind it’s a complex comparison. Some intangible benefits are hard to price.

With the United States edging toward becoming an older population, conversations about long-term care will become ever more critical. Naturally, price is a chief concern among family members and their senior loved ones, so comparison shopping is important.

Keep in mind that it’s hard to put a price on some of the benefits of assisted living.

At the very least, assisted living communities provide seniors with housekeeping, dining, activities and some basic care services.  That’s just a foundation, however.

Building thriving communities that help seniors live their best life takes a whole lot more than weekly laundry service and meals in the dining room. There are a lot of value-based benefits, too.

What are ‘Value-Based’ Benefits?

If you were to write down your monthly outgoing cash flow, you’d probably notice a lot of expenses for house upkeep. Even if you don’t do any renovations, there are still bills to pay for property insurance, property taxes, and the inevitable repair jobs that arise when you own your own home.

Maintaining a car isn’t cheap, either. Even grocery prices these days are skyrocketing. Can you believe that, in some areas of the country, milk is approaching $5 per gallon? And meat prices are up more than 75 percent in some places.

These are just a few of the expenses that disappear if you choose to move to an assisted living community.

Then there’s also the cost of lawn care and the expense of transportation. Add to that everything else that’s included in the cost of assisted living, and suddenly you will see comparing costs is a much more complex process.

More Value-Based Benefits

When seniors need help with medication or personal care, or if they need 24-hour access to a caregiver, who steps in? Family members can help but even if they can manage, they’ll need a break sometimes. Caregiver stress is common in family members who’ve dedicated their lives to caring for a senior loved one.

In an assisted living community, those services are included, too. Round-the-clock access to caregivers is provided, along with the daily help each resident requires. Not all plans are alike, however, so always be sure to find out if some services cost extra.

The Hidden Value of Assisted Living

Aside from not having to pay for groceries, pay for a vehicle, and maintain a home, residents of assisted living communities enjoy a whole host of hidden benefits.

After moving to a senior living community, some residents feel relieved. Many of the frustrations and stress of daily living have disappeared. They are free from many chores and tasks that had become too burdensome living at home.

The convenience of living at their new community allows them the independence and energy to flourish and thrive.

Simply interacting with folks their own age every day is another plus for many seniors. They have the chance to connect, share, laugh, and make new friends. Staying social is one way for older Americans to remain healthy, active, and engaged. Consider this an added health benefit.

Tour an Assisted Living Community to Learn More About Value-Added Benefits

At Legacy Senior Living, residents at our assisted living communities enjoy a comfortable, homelike lifestyle that more than meets their daily needs. There are certified and licensed staff on hand around the clock to make sure every resident receives the care and attention they need. There are exciting activities, regular assistance with daily tasks, and home-cooked meals served in beautiful dining rooms.

Want to know more?

Call Legacy Senior Living and ask to schedule a free tour of an assisted living community near you. We’d love to show you around!

Working as a Partner with the Staff at a Loved One’s Assisted Living

June 26, 2017

A feeling of community is essential in assisted living. Here’s what you can do to help create one.

How do you define “community”?

The best care occurs when a strong network of people work together. If you think about it, that’s one way to define the word “community.” In assisted living, family members are considered part of the community too.

What can you do to make sure you’re part of the equation?

Here are four ways you can work to become part of the assisted living community where your senior loved one lives. Each one is a variation on the idea of working as a partner with the staff. As you’ll find out below, partnerships are crucial when it comes to forming a healthy, happy community.

How to Work with the Caregivers at a Loved One’s Senior Living Community

  1. Help Staff Get to Know Your Loved One

By visiting regularly and chatting with staff, you’re helping them do their job. The more staff knows and understands your loved one, the better. In fact, opening up to staff about your loved one’s life may mean you’re paving the road for a better experience for everyone.

Knowing cultural backgrounds, for example, may help staff understand your senior loved one’s preferences and behavior.

Studies have shown that when staff members know a resident well, they experience multiple benefits themselves. They’re better able to handle daily challenges they encounter on the job, for example.

Knowing the history, family background, and life story of your loved one helps staff paint a complete picture of your loved one. That’s important because it helps them connect and relate. Stronger connections and better relationships can lead to a more home-like experience for your loved one.

  1. Be a Good Listener

Family members should be good listeners, too. The same research mentioned above showed that good communication and collaboration is a two-way street. When you heed the advice and follow the recommendations of the assisted living staff, you’re not just helping your loved one. You’re helping the staff too.

In fact, having good relationships with families is tied to higher job satisfaction among nursing assistants, say researchers.

  1. Give Feedback

The best assisted living communities are always looking for ways to improve the lives of their residents. Working with families is part of how they go about achieving those goals.

The feedback that staff receives during casual encounters with family members is invaluable. What they can learn about your loved one from you supplements what they know from formal assessments and care conferences.

  1. Focus on Community

The bottom line here is that by following recommendations, giving productive feedback, and helping staff get to know your loved one, you’re contributing to job satisfaction. When people like their jobs, they’re less likely to quit. Long-term staff who love their jobs form the foundation of a strong community for your loved one.

At Legacy Senior Living, family members, staff, and residents work together to create a supportive environment for all who live and work in our community. That’s how the strongest communities are created, and that’s our goal.

We encourage family members to reach out at all times. That goes for our new friends as well. If you’re reading about Legacy Senior Living for the first time, it’s nice to meet you. Please know that you are welcome to call, email, or visit at any time to learn more about how we build a sense of community for seniors.

What Families of Veterans Should Know About the Aid & Attendance Benefit

May 29, 2017

Important benefits for veterans

Do you know about an important benefit for veterans? It’s called the Aid & Attendance Benefit and it may help your loved one pay for assisted living.

Veterans of war sometimes return home to completely changed environments. Some may even suffer trauma as a result of their dedication and patriotism. Recognizing the sacrifices they’ve made is an important part of the very fabric of our nation, and as such, there’s important veteran benefit we’d like you to know about.

It’s called the Aid & Attendance Benefit. If you are the family member of a veteran, finding out if your loved one is eligible can help relieve some of the worries about how to pay for the cost of assisted living or nursing home care.

This is a special pension benefit administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It helps pay for assisted living expenses or nursing home costs, if certain criteria are met.

What You Need to Know About Aid & Attendance Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a helpful page on their website that contains everything you need to know about the Aid & Attendance Benefit. But here’s a quick summary of the program:

  • The A&A benefit is only available to veterans and their surviving spouses if the veteran meets eligibility requirements for a VA pension, which include having served at least 90 days of active duty service. At least one day must have been during wartime.
  • In addition, to receive a pension, a veteran must be at least 65 years old or be totally and permanently disabled (which can include living in a nursing home or receiving skilled nursing care). Other qualifying criteria include receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
  • The veteran and/their surviving spouse must also meet one of the following four conditions:
    • they are bedridden
    • they live in a nursing home due to mental or physical problems
    • they are blind or nearly blind
    • they require the aid of another person to perform everyday living tasks (dressing, bathing, feeding, adjusting to prosthetics, toileting, and protecting yourself from everyday hazards in a normal environment)

A few additional but important details to know are:

  • This benefit is separate from and in addition to a veteran’s monthly pension and disability compensation.
  • Veterans apply through the same VA regional office where they filed a claim for their VA pension or by you writing to the Pension Management Center in your state.

Veterans Wall of Honor at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, we recognize the sacrifice our veterans have made in many ways. At each of our locations throughout the country, you will find a dedicated space we call the ‘Veterans Wall of Honor’.

Each branch of the military is commemorated and each resident veteran is honored with a picture on that wall. It’s a wonderful way for our residents to feel proud of their community and the place they live. Interested in learning more on how we foster community at all our senior living locations? Call us. We’d love to schedule a time for you to stop by for a personal tour!

Gardening for Your Health: Easy Ways for Seniors to Keep Growing

April 17, 2017

Gardening on a hill

Growing your own vegetables or flowers can be one of the great joys of life. But for seniors who love gardening, the tasks involved can become challenging. Whether it’s handling large bags of potting soil or keeping up with the weeds, some of the activities of gardening can make older adults feel like they’ve taken on too much with this year’s crop.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Making Gardening Enjoyable for Seniors

Seniors don’t have to give up gardening just because they can no longer lift 40-pound bags of soil or bend down to pull all the weeds. There are lots of things caregivers like you can do to support an older gardener.

From planning the garden to finding the right tools, you can help your loved one enjoy his or her hobby for years to come. And the health benefits are clear. Gardening helps your senior loved one stay fit.

Here are some tips for making gardening a little less burdensome and a little more enjoyable for the older gardeners in your life.

1. Plan the Layout of the Garden

Gardening experts advise carefully planning out the layout of a senior’s garden to minimize the work it takes to care for plants. The number one way to do this is to group similar plants together. Plants that need a lot of water, for example, should all be located in the same area to make watering time easier. Another example: plants that need a lot of attention (i.e. deadheading or frequent harvesting) should be grown next to one another so if your loved one is kneeling down, they can reach all the plants at once.

Consider Raised Beds or Container Gardening

Raised beds offer the benefit of removing the “stooping” factor from gardening. Seniors with low back pain will especially appreciate them. When the plants are at waist level, everything gets easier: planting, tending, weeding, and harvesting.

The same goes for container gardening. Containers can be placed anywhere in the garden, on the patio or even indoors if your loved one can’t always get outside.

Another alternative for gardening with back pain is to use the Juice Plus+® Tower Garden. The Tower Garden is an innovative vertical aeroponic gardening system that uses only water, no dirt. Each Legacy facility utilizes the Juice Plus+® Tower Garden and have had positive results.

Choose the Right Plants

Another way to minimize the work involved with gardening is to choose low-maintenance plants. Less frequent watering, fertilizing, and weeding means less work. Choosing pest-resistant plants will also cut down on maintenance.

Look Into Gardening Tools & Technology That Can Help

A few products and tools that can make gardening more senior-friendly include:

  1. Drip irrigation systems. Before you protest about the expense, it may help to know that modern systems are very affordable. There are setup costs, of course, but the value to your senior loved one means it will more than pay for itself. After all, dragging a heavy garden hose around the garden is tiresome and difficult for anyone, no matter what age they might be.
  2. Garden Wheels. Ditch the wheelbarrow. A garden cart can help your loved one tote his or her tools and materials around the garden. The cart can be pushed or pulled with minimal physical effort, unlike a wheelbarrow which requires some lifting.
  3. Time-Release fertilizer. If you’re using raised beds or containers, the best way to feed your plants is by simply inserting time-released fertilizer pellets into the soil. They allow you to simply “set and forget”.
  4. Polymer Crystals. This idea is similar to the fertilizer pellets. These crystals release water to plant roots over time, removing some of the hassles of regular watering.

 

Active Lifestyles at Legacy Senior Living

If your senior loved one is enjoying an active lifestyle where gardening plays a role, he or she may be interested in independent living options.

Residents who live in independent living communities can enjoy their hobbies and an active lifestyle without the burden and stress of traditional home ownership. And gardeners can still enjoy their favorite hobby in our raised beds and tower gardens!

If you’d like to know more, we’d be happy to answer your questions. Call us or find us online to schedule a private tour!