Tax Deductions and Assisted Living

May 4, 2021

Tax season is in full swing. Normally, Tax Day is April 15, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the date has been pushed back to May 17, 2021. Figuring out what deductions individuals residing in assisted living facilities qualify for can be confusing. To help, the IRS has broken residents into two groups:

  1. Individuals, which include you, your spouse, or a dependent, in a nursing facility primarily for medical care.
  2. Individuals who live in assisted living but are there primarily for non-medical reasons.

The deductions these two groups receive differ. For group A, the IRS says the entire cost of their stay is tax-deductible. This includes meals and lodging. When it comes to group B, this is not the case. For those individuals, the cost of their medical care is tax-deductible, but the costs of their room and food are not. One thing that is the same for both groups, however, according to the IRS, is “the total of all allowable medical expenses must be reduced by 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.”, which was founded by elder law attorney Harry S. Margolis, put things into easier-to-understand terms. They explained that for assisted living expenses to be considered tax-deductible, the individual has to be certified as chronically ill, which can be defined in one of two ways.

  1. The individual cannot perform at least two daily activities like eating, bathing, using the restroom, transferring from bed to wheelchair, or changing clothes without assistance.
  2. The individual needs supervision because of cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

The source added that to receive these deductions, a care plan prescribed by a licensed healthcare professional detailing personal care services must be in place for the individual. If you or your family member is not considered chronically ill, our teams at our facilities can help you figure out what part of your bill can be considered as medical costs.

When claiming a loved one in an assisted living facility as a dependent, the IRS says to reference Publication 502 which provides information about medical and dental expenses. This document goes into detail about exactly what expenses and whose expenses can be included when you are figuring out your tax deductions. The IRS gave three qualifiers to determine if you can count your loved one as a dependent.

  1. The loved one must fall into one of these categories:
    1. Son, daughter, stepchild, or foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild),
    2. Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, or a son or daughter of any of them,
    3. Father, mother, or an ancestor or sibling of either of them (for example, your grandmother, grandfather, aunt, or uncle)
    4. Stepbrother, stepsister, stepfather, stepmother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
    5. Any other person (other than your spouse) who lived with you all year as a member of your household if your relationship didn’t violate local law
  2. They have to be “U.S. citizens or nationals or a resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico.”
  3. You provided more than half of their support for the year. (Source)

If you shared your loved one’s expenses with others, then you should abide by a Multiple Support Agreement. The IRS defines this as “when two or more people provide more than half of a person’s support, but no one alone provides more than half.” A tax professional can help you determine what part of their support you can receive a deduction for.

There are many questions you may ask yourself when trying to decide what constitutes a medical expense when it comes to assisted living. Tax professionals can help answer any additional questions you may have as you navigate the world of taxes.

The Sandwich Generation

February 16, 2021

A father responsible for shuttling his teenage daughter to dance class at 3pm and making sure his aging mother makes it to her doctor appointment at 3:30pm. A mother working over-time to ensure she can meet the financial needs of her growing family that includes twin toddlers and her 70-year-old father-in-law. Do these scenarios sound familiar? You may have friends who have experienced this type of family life, or you may be in the thick of it yourself. The mother and father featured in these scenarios are part of The Sandwich Generation, a generation of adults caring for both children and aging adults at the same time.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 15% of adults aged 40-59 were providing financial support to both a child and parent aged 65+. As the many adults who comprise the Sandwich Generation would likely tell you, support doesn’t just come in the form of finances — but in physical and emotional care as well. Let’s dive into the different ways support from the Sandwich Generation may manifest itself.

Financial Support

The financial aspect of supporting an aging loved one and young children can’t be ignored. In America, the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 was $233,610 in 2020. When you add an aging loved one who may not have a source of income to that, your costs increase — many times in unexpected ways. Some families move into a larger house so their loved ones can have their own space. One parent may quit their own job to focus on caring for their family full-time. For many families, the financial aspect is well worth it. And the simple fact is, those families may be better equipped to handle the financial burden than others.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some families struggle to find the extra room in their budget as expenses increase. In some cases, members of the Sandwich Generation are postponing their own retirements due to the financial stress of caring for two generations.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s an important factor to plan for if you’re considering taking on the responsibility of caregiver or financial supporter of your loved one. If you’re considering becoming a loved one’s caretaker in the future, experts recommend starting the conversation about finances now so that you’re prepared when the time comes.

Physical Support

In many cases where an aging adult needs regular hands-on care, family members step in to provide that care and support. Some may have the needed experience to provide this care, some may be learning as they go. The stress of that learning curve can’t be denied. It’s difficult to watch someone you love lose the physical capabilities they once had, especially when compounded with the everyday stresses of raising a family.

The level of physical support also depends heavily on the health of the aging adult. Some adults may need someone to drive them to the doctor, where other adults may need hands-on help with daily activities like dressing or bathing, or even care for advanced conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Going into caring for an aging loved one, have an honest conversation with yourself and your family about what level of care you’re equipped to provide.

Emotional Support

The aging process brings up questions of spirituality, love, and loss. These are big feelings, and your loved one may need a steady hand to help navigate them. For many in the Sandwich Generation, they become the emotional support for their loved ones, helping them cope as their life changes. This, on top of serving as the emotional support for children ranging from toddlers to teenagers, can leave little time for these adults to care for their own mental health or their other relationships. In a survey from the New York Times, 25 percent of respondents who are caretakers for aging loved ones said they had made sacrifices in their romantic relationships.

If you’re caring for a loved one — or considering it — take the steps now to care for your own mental health and to understand the questions that might come up as your loved one ages. Our blog is a wealth of information on aging and may answer questions or give you ideas about how best to care for your loved one.

If you’re currently part of the Sandwich Generation, know that there is support for you. If you think you may become a financial, physical, or emotional supporter for a loved one in the future, we hope this helps you as you prepare for that journey.

Find more information about caring for aging loved ones on our blog:

Living Facilities: Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health

January 26, 2021

This blog is Part Two in our blog series where we’re discussing different types of assisted living. In Part 1, we talked about independent living, assisted living, and respite care. In Part 2, we’ll dive into memory care, nursing homes, and home health. 

Living Facilities: Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health

In our first blog in this series about care facilities, we talked about the differences between independent living, assisted living, and respite care, plus who would be a good candidate for each. With this series, our hope is that you will gain a solid understanding of the types of care available to you or your loved one, and you’ll be equipped to make the best possible decision for the next step. To further your understanding, we’re going to dive into the differences between three more types of care: memory care, nursing homes, and home health.

Memory Care

What are the key characteristics of a memory care community? 

Memory care communities provide a safe, structured environment for those with memory conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. While many memory care communities offer services similar to assisted living facilities, their team members are specially trained to navigate the concerns specific to memory conditions like cognitive engagement or management of behavioral symptoms.

For many families, a memory care community offers a peace of mind that their loved ones are being supported in a home equipped to care for their individual needs.

Who would be a good candidate for a memory care community?

Individuals who need assistance with day-to-day care like cooking or bathing may be good fits for an assisted living facility, but if your loved one is struggling with forgetfulness or has been given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a memory care community may be a better fit.

Some families choose to bring their loved ones into their homes to care for them, but Alzheimer’s and dementia can often require specialized training that a family member, through no fault of their own, simply might not possess. If a family caregiver gets to the point where they feel ill-equipped to navigate the unique challenges that come along with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a memory care facility may be the best solution.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s memory care communities here:

Nursing Homes

What are the key characteristics of a nursing home? 

Similar to an assisted living facility, a nursing home offers services like medication management, life enrichment, and assistance with daily activities like bathing and dressing. The key difference is that a nursing home offers more robust medical care and is usually staffed by skilled nurses.

Who would be a good candidate for a nursing home?

If your loved one requires more round-the-clock care, a nursing home may be the best option for them. Many families who choose nursing homes have loved ones living with complex health conditions who need an advanced level of medical care.

Home Health

What are the key characteristics of home health? 

Home health is a type of care offered in an individual’s home, often with the goal of helping the patient regain independence, aid in recovery after a hospital discharge, or help maintain health for a senior who wishes to remain in their home.

Home health caregivers aid patients through services ranging from medication management to healthcare coordination between the patients, their doctor, or any other caregiver supporting them.

Who would be a good candidate for home health?

Home health is a great option for those who need an extra hand with day-to-day living but wish to maintain independence in their own home. It offers families peace of mind that their loved ones — especially those who live alone — will have an additional set of eyes watching over their health and safety.


If you’re researching the best step for yourself or your aging loved one, you have a big decision ahead of you. If you read Part One of this series, you may have already asked yourself these questions. No matter where you are in your search, we always recommend these two simple questions when trying to decide on the best fit:

  • What are my (or my loved one’s) basic needs?
  • What are my (or my loved one’s) goals for this next stage of life?

One of the ways we can fulfill our mission is by honoring you and your aging loved ones, and that starts with supporting you in your decision making process. We’re here as a resource. To talk to one of our experienced team members, contact us here:

To refresh on Part One of this series where we discussed independent living, assisted living, and respite care, follow this link:

The Difference between Assisted and Independent Living

January 11, 2021

This blog is part of a two-part series where we’ll discuss different types of assisted living. In Part 1, we’ll discuss Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Respite Care. In Part 2, we’ll dive into Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health.

Living Facilities: What’s the difference between independent, assisted, and respite care?

Whether you’re looking for the next step in your retirement or you’re searching for a safe, active place for your aging loved one to call home, you’ll find a few different options. From assisted living to respite care, the amount of options can be overwhelming — especially when you’re trying to make a big decision. How are they different? Which is the best fit for you or your loved one? In this two-part blog series, we’re going to lay out each type of living facility and who might be a good candidate to make it their home.

Independent Living

What are the key characteristics of an independent living community?

Independent living communities give seniors the freedom and opportunity to pursue their passions and hobbies by minimizing daily responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home maintenance. At these communities, seniors are able to travel freely without worrying about who will mow the lawn. They can host friends without having to vacuum the living room. They can foster new friendships and learn new skills through the robust activities calendar put together by the community.

Along with freedom from the burden of home ownership comes a safe, secure environment where they know they’ll be cared for as they age. Services like bathing assistance and health checks are available for those who may need an extra hand.

Who would be a good candidate for an independent living community?

Active seniors who don’t need regular, hands-on care could benefit from life at an independent living community. Seniors who feel isolated at home may discover a new community and get much-need social stimulation.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s independent living communities here:

Assisted Living

What are the key characteristics of an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities go a step beyond independent living communities, in that they offer a more advanced level of care and assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, sticking to a medicine schedule, and getting to doctor’s appointments. For the health and safety of its residents, assisted living communities have licensed and certified caregivers available 24 hours a day.

Assisted living communities generally offer the same opportunities for social engagement as independent living communities, though the activities may be tailored to their residents’ activity level. For example, exercise at an independent living facility may use weights and have a strengthening element, where exercise at an assisted living facility may focus more on movement.

For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, many assisted living communities offer specialized care to support your loved one through cognitive engagement or managing behavioral symptoms in addition to the regular services of the community.

Who would be a good candidate for an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities could be an ideal home for your aging loved ones who need assistance with daily activities but still desire an active, social life. If you feel your loved one isn’t safe at home alone anymore, whether because of issues stemming from Alzheimer’s or a physical inability to manage life at home, an assisted living community could be a sanctuary for them — and give the whole family peace of mind.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s assisted living communities here:

Respite Care

What are the key characteristics of respite care? 

When you think of respite care, think of an all-inclusive vacation. It’s short-term, and every need will be taken care of. Respite care is similar to assisted living, in that it offers help with daily activities such as cooking and dressing, in addition to a calendar full of social activities. The one big difference is that it’s short-term.

Who would be a good candidate for respite care?

Many families choose respite care when a loved one is returning from being hospitalized and needs an extra set of hands. Respite care also provides an opportunity for people who are serving as the primary caregiver for an aging loved one to refresh and recharge — something that’s needed and deserved when you’ve taken on the rewarding but taxing role of caregiver.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s respite care services here:

Understanding the differences between each type of senior community is essential when making a big life decision. We encourage you to ask yourself these two simple questions when trying to decide on the best fit:

  • What are my (or my loved one’s) basic needs?
  • What are my (or my loved one’s) goals for this next stage of life?

No matter what you decide, know that we’re here for you as a resource. If you’d like to talk things over with one of our experienced team members, you can contact us here:

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll dig into the differences between Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health.

Having Difficult Conversations about Finances with your Aging Loved Ones

November 2, 2020

Religion, politics, finances. These are three things you never, ever discuss in polite company. Or at least that’s what our mamas taught us. But what happens when your mother, brother, or uncle starts to show signs of aging and an inability to effectively manage their personal finances? How do you know they have enough left in their retirement funds to pay for assisted living? How can you ensure they aren’t taken advantage of by those who might prey on the more vulnerable? These difficult conversations need to happen to ensure everyone is on the same page about the reality of your loved one’s financial situation.

We have some tips to navigate what has the potential to be an uncomfortable conversation, as well as red flags to watch out for in financial records.

The Conversation

  • Treat your loved one with dignity. Remember that they once had a successful career, managed their household, and planned for retirement — all without your help. Be gentle when bringing this up. Let them maintain their independence. Come at it from a place of care and desire to help rather than a place of superiority.
  • Be proactive instead of reactive. Plan to have a conversation about finances before it’s needed. If an event like forgetting to pay the mortgage or making an unusually large donation to a charitable organization occurs, the conversation will likely happen under duress. Instead, set aside time with your loved one now to have a calm, strategic conversation where everyone has their wits about them.
  • Make a list of documents you might need. Getting a well-rounded look at your loved one’s finances will likely involve looking at bank accounts, 401ks, investments, properties, inheritance documents, and more. For many seniors (and for many people, in general!), out of sight means out of mind, so create a list of needed documents and accounts to collect before your sit-down, otherwise they might not think to include things like investment properties or stocks.
  • Make Assisted Living part of your conversation. Assisted living is an investment in seniors’ physical, social, and mental health, but it is something that many need to plan for financially. If your loved one has a long-term care insurance plan, it’s possible they’ll have coverage for assisted living through their plan. If not, you’ll want to have an open, honest dialogue about the costs associated with assisted living and if they’re prepared financially for that.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

  • Letters from collections agencies. This serves as a sign that your loved one may be forgetting to make payments or may not have the funds available to make those payments.
  • Hard to find bank statements. If bank statements can’t be easily found, it’s likely that the accounts aren’t being regularly monitored.
  • Large payments to charitable organizations, political groups, churches, or individuals. While it’s not always the case, seniors who make large payments like this could possibly be the victims of subtle persuasion, or worse, a scam.

While they do have the potential to be uncomfortable, conversations about your aging loved ones’ finances can also be an exciting look into their future and their next life adventure.

For more information and resources about supporting your loved one as they age, including topics on dementia and assisted living, visit our website at

Decorating for Safety with Aging Loved Ones

October 25, 2020

Home is where the heart is. We know that to be true, so it’s no surprise that we want our homes to be a reflection of us.

Many of our aging loved ones can walk us through every corner of their homes, carefully explaining the trinkets purchased while traveling, the achievements framed on the walls, and the tokens of love gifted by friends and family. We adore hearing these stories, and these items give our loved ones physical reminders of a life well lived.

As our loved ones age, it’s imperative that we’re mindful of the potential danger an item can create in a home. Whether something is a tripping hazard or could easily tip over, we have some tips and tricks for stabilizing furniture, reducing clutter, and keeping aging people safe in their homes.

Anchor Furniture to Walls

As we age, we start to lose our balance. When walking through a home, it’s not uncommon to grab hold of a piece of furniture for support or stability. To ensure a piece of furniture that once provided stability doesn’t come tumbling down, anchor things like bookshelves, dressers, or console tables to the walls. The good news about this task is that you’re doing double-duty safety prep for when grandbabies come to visit!

Secure Cords

A long cord from the lamp to the outlet across the room is the epitome of a tripping hazard. Securing cords to the wall will decrease the likelihood of a foot getting caught beneath them. There are many products on the market — from tape to clips — that will help you in this process.

Swap Fire-Burning Candles with Battery-Powered Candles or Diffusers

Who doesn’t love a good candle? They offer warmth and delightful smells to a room. However, live flames? Not the safest option. Reduce fire hazards by swapping out fire-burning candles with battery-powered candles. If your loved one lights candles for the scents, consider investing in an oil diffuser to fill the room with fragrances like lavender or eucalyptus. Bonus: Essential oils are touted to have health benefits, too!

Go from High to Low

Many of the accidents we hear about were caused because something was placed out of reach. One quick solution? Go low. Move kitchen items to lower cabinets, move cosmetics to countertops, and move favorite books to lower bookshelves. If it’s a regularly-used item, make sure it’s well within reach.

Remove Clutter

Maybe the biggest thing we can do to help our loved ones move around their homes with ease? Reduce clutter.

Famed organizer Marie Kondo lives by the motto, “Does it bring you joy?” Move around your loved one’s home with them room by room and minimize clutter by asking them the million-dollar question. If it doesn’t bring them joy, it may be time to find a new home for that item. _______________________________________________________________________

Keeping your aging loved one safe and happy in their home is a balance. It may require tough conversations and a little elbow grease. At the end of the day, if they’re safe, the work will have been worth it.

Celebrating a Socially-Distant Halloween

October 12, 2020

As children, Halloween is one of our favorite nights of the year. As adults, the joy on a child’s face when they’re dressed up as their favorite superhero, Ninja Turtle, or princess, pumped full of sugar from the candy they just can’t wait to eat until they get home, is truly unforgettable. And the best part? Grandparents get to enjoy the costumes and candy and then send the kids home with their parents before they hit their sugar high.

As we’ve already experienced with so many holidays and special occasions in 2020, Halloween will look a little different this year. Especially for grandparents who make their home in a senior living community, visitor restrictions are tight, which means they likely won’t be able to celebrate the holiday in person.

To help amp up the fun and make the most of this festive occasion, we’ve put together a list of socially-distant activities to help you include your elderly loved ones in the holiday hoopla.

Have a Zoom Costume Parade

Hop on a Zoom call with all the grandkids, cousins, and friends of the family for a costume parade! Give each trick-or-treater one minute to explain their costume and why they chose it. The little ones will love having another opportunity to show off their costumes, and their grandparents will get to join in on the smiles — and maybe even learn about the cool new superheroes on the block!

Drop off your loved one’s favorite candy

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? Drop off a bag of Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite candy with a note letting them know you’re thinking about them.

Plan a time to watch your favorite spooky movie at the same time

There’s nothing quite like watching a spooky movie right as the weather starts to cool down and fall makes its big entrance. Since you can’t have an in-person movie night, schedule a night to watch the same movie from afar. You can snuggle up on the couch and feel like your loved one is right there with you — because they’ll be doing the same thing!

Here are some spooky movies we love to watch year after year:

  • Hocus Pocus
  • Dracula (the 1931 original!)
  • Beetlejuice

Send them some festive Halloween gear

You’re never too old to play dress-up! Our residents love to dress up in festive holiday wear, and you can help us make sure they’re dressed to impress. We love these Halloween headbands and light-up Jack-O-Lantern necklaces from Amazon.

Have the grandkids decorate a pumpkin to display in their room 

This one gives you a fun activity to do with your kiddos AND a way to brighten your loved one’s day. Carve or paint a pumpkin together to display in Grandma/Grandpa’s room. This article from Good Housekeeping lists 65 cute pumpkin decorating ideas. Which one is your favorite? ___________________________________________________________________

Choose one, choose all, or choose something that isn’t even listed here. The most important thing is including your aging loved ones in the holiday cheer!

Celebrating Milestones During COVID

September 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life. From wearing a mask in the grocery store to distancing ourselves from the public, we’ve picked up new habits that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. For the elderly population, life has changed even more. Many seniors already struggle with isolation, and the pandemic has exacerbated that struggle. In fact, a recent study done by The Lancet found that social disconnection puts older adults at greater risk of depression and anxiety. (Source)

We want to keep our elderly loved ones safe, but also want them to know that we are still with them — even when we can’t be physically present. In today’s blog, we’re going to talk about celebrating milestones in a COVID-friendly way. Whether a birthday or a clean bill of health from the doctor, how can we let our loved ones know we’re thinking of them?

Here’s a list of ways to show your socially-distant love.

Give Them a Call on FaceTime

Seeing a familiar face in a time of social distancing can do so much good for the soul — both for our senior loved ones AND for us. For more information about our visitation access and virtual visits, please click here to learn more!

Commission a Piece of Art from a Grandchild

We don’t need to tell you how much grandparents love their grandchildren, and this gift does double-duty because it lets them know the whole family is thinking about them. Plus, it’s free! Ask your little artist to imagine what Grandma or Grandpa looked like as a child and draw it. What’s their favorite activity to do together? What’s Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite musician or type of music? Giving them a prompt that’s about time spent together will make the gift even more special.

Drop Off Some Flowers

Does your loved one have a favorite flower? Are you growing a flower or herb in your garden that you think they would love? Whatever your plant of choice, our residents love getting a little dose of nature in their rooms. Write out what you’re dropping off and why it made you think of them. Did your mom carry Peonies in her wedding bouquet? Does your dad love to eat fresh basil with his tomatoes? Letting them know that you were thinking of them is the most important part of this gift.

While visitors are still restricted for safety reasons, we’ll happily accept packages at the door.

Cook Them Their Favorite Meal

Even better — cook a serving for yourself too, then enjoy it together over FaceTime! While visitors are still not allowed in unless medically necessary, you can still enjoy a meal with your loved one through the beauty of technology. Cook up a meal, put a portion in a to-go container, drop it at our door, and schedule a FaceTime call with our office so that you can enjoy it together. Oh, and don’t forget the candles if it’s a birthday you’re celebrating!

Meal ideas:

  • Their favorite childhood meal
  • A dish from an exotic destination they’ve always dreamed of
  • A dish from your favorite vacation together
  • A sweet treat from their favorite bakery in their hometown

Start Working on a Virtual Scrapbook

If there are things you’ve always wondered about your loved ones, now is the time to ask! Record their responses so that you can archive them for future generations.

A few places to start:

  • Did they serve in the military? Which branch? Where were they stationed?
  • What was their first job? First car? First concert?
  • How did they meet their spouse?


We know these ideas won’t substitute for the power of a good hug, but they will hopefully serve as simple ways to let your senior loved ones know you’re thinking about them. Small gestures can make a big impact!

If you’d like to know more about creative ways we’re safely connecting our residents with their loved ones, you can reach out to our individual communities. Their information can be found here.


4 Ways to Have Quality Conversations During COVID-19

August 25, 2020

Communication is one of the cornerstones for the care of the elderly, especially for a loved one who may not fully understand what’s happening in our world at the moment. With additional restrictions on in-person visits, finding ways to connect and converse regularly with older folks is more critical now than ever. Fortunately, technology is making this easier. But technology isn’t limited to simply calling and hearing a familiar voice, and it’s not the only way to stay in touch.

Here are some ways you can have quality connections as a family while being away from loved ones during COVID-19.

1. Host a group conversation through video chat

A phone call from a family member is great. A video call from the whole family? Even better. Services like Zoom and Google Hangout have made it easy to “get together.” These and similar platforms also make it easy for multiple people to share time together.  Staff can help residents get set up with computers and tablets, and scheduling reminders is easy through shared calendars and alerts.

2. Make hands-free communication easy for the elderly with Facebook Portal and Amazon Echo Show

There’s nothing more frustrating to older folks than technology that is hard to work. Take all the hassle out with great products like Facebook Portal and Amazon Echo Show. You can help them set reminders and get video calls from friends and family. Voice commands are simple and will help residents look forward to and enjoy the conversations.

3. Let them experience a tour or journey

While there’s no substitute for “actually being there,” they can still see the world through your eyes. Facetime while on a hike to give a glimpse of the views. Strap a GoPro to the grandkids’ bike for a virtual ride along. Record family gatherings, create trip slideshows, or even recorded personal messages celebrating milestones will help your loved ones feel included in special events and occasions. If you’re really tech savvy, adding in recorded commentary allows more family members to help tell about the experience.

4. Snail mail, personal notes, and artwork

Getting mail is still a thrilling and personal experience, no matter what your age. Cards, letters, and personal notes are always appreciated. Let their friends know how to get in touch with your loved ones and how much a note would make their day. Want to get younger children involved? Have your kids draw pictures or create a painting of what they’ve done recently or what they’re looking forward to doing with their grandparent when you can be together again.

These uncertain times make in-person visits hard or impossible, but finding alternative ways to communicate makes staying close to loved ones a little more bearable. Check with facility workers on additional ways they are helping residents stay in contact with families. Reaching out regularly can boost their spirits and help them stay connected to family and friends.

Social Distancing and Older Relatives

July 23, 2020

Social distancing has dramatically changed how we interact with others, especially older relatives. While taking care of ourselves is important, looking out for aging parents and loved ones is more critical than ever. The risk of social isolation is higher without regular visitors and normal activities happening. This can lead to a lower immunity, decreased mental health, and a significant deterioration in the quality of life of older generations. Keeping older adults active is no doubt more challenging, but not impossible. Here are some keys to consider as you care for your loved ones either in your home or from a distance.

Cover the basics

Staying active begins with making sure all of their basic needs have been met. Keeping in touch with older loved ones about any changes in instructions on social distancing and any other COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control will help you make better decisions and help everyone avoid misinformation.

Ask directly about things like hydration and nutrition. Check that they have all of their medications and prescriptions up to date. If your relative has been undergoing any kind of physical or occupational therapy, ask the therapist how they are progressing and if they need to pause or delay other things until they’re ready. It’s also a good idea to ask the therapist about their health and the health of the people they work with. Knowing the general condition as well as the limits of your loved ones will help you and the care providers make the best calls together.

General Exercise

Senior living facilities, local gyms, or senior centers offer regular group exercise classes that may be unavailable during this time. Talk to the staff about other options to get them up and moving. Regular walks outside are still permitted. If able to do so, yoga and tai chi can help your loved ones relax and stay active. Even simple stretching is great to get them up and moving, with the side effect of mood boosting!

Gardening and Crafting

Simply getting outside daily does wonders for all of us. Make sure there are safe and open areas for older adults to sit and walk around. Gardening and other activities can work both the body and the mind. Some hobbies normally done indoors can be moved outside. While inside, crafting, painting, knitting, and crocheting can keep the brain active and the hands moving.

Utilize Technology

Most local health departments are limiting the number of people in groups and encouraging only critical face-to-face interactions. Fortunately, technology helps lift some of these limits and allows us to connect in new and beneficial ways. Regular phone and video calls from family and friends can do wonders to lift their spirits, especially in these confusing times. Having grandkids write letters is great for both young and old. Sharing stories and showing old pictures and videos is another great way to connect and care for the elderly. You might even consider a family workout over a video conference!

There are many other ways that care providers may have already implemented to keep older adults active. This generation has lived through some hard and difficult times, and it’s important to remind them frequently that even though there are many unknowns, this will pass. It’s important to be cautious, but even more important is to remember that care isn’t limited during this time, just a little different.