Spring Cleaning & Downsizing with a Michigan Senior

Spring Cleaning & Downsizing with a Michigan Senior

Spring cleaning is a ritual many adult children and seniors tackle together every year. If you are a Michigan caregiver trying to encourage an older loved one to move to a senior living community this year, spring cleaning might also include downsizing.

The logistics of helping a parent or other senior loved one prepare for a move may be overwhelming. Helping them decide what to take with them to their new home and what to do with everything that is left can be a challenge. This is especially true of this generation of seniors because typically didn’t move a lot. Many have been in their same home for decades. Spending that much time in the same home often means they have accumulated a lot of possessions. Parting with them can be difficult.

Downsizing Tips for Michigan Seniors

Here are a few suggestions that can help you and the older adult you love downsize their home in preparation for a move to a senior living community:

  1. Plot the Layout: If you already know what senior living community your loved one will be moving to, ask the staff for a copy of the apartment’s floor plan. Make sure you have the dimensions for each room. It will help you figure out what furniture will fit and what will need to find a new home or be donated.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Unless your aging parent or senior loved one is in the midst of a crisis and needs to move quickly, try to work on downsizing over a period of weeks or months. It will be less stressful for you and your senior loved one.
  3. Organizing and Sorting: When downsizing means sorting through a lot of old treasures and belongings, it can be tough to stay organized and on track. It is usually best to begin in the rooms where your senior loved one spends the least amount of time. Label boxes or bins with “Keep,” “To Determine,” “Donate,” “Family” and “Trash.” As you work your way through a room, place items in one of these five boxes.
  4. Document the Memories: If your older family member will be parting with some of their favorite belongings, create scrapbook or video as a keepsake. Include photos or video of how their home looked before you started downsizing, pictures of their favorite roses and any other special places around their home. It might also help to include photos or video of how the belongings they gave to family or friends look in their new home.

Our final piece of advice is to spend extra time preparing for the actual day of the move. Create a “Moving Day Survival Kit” full of the items you will need right away. Include valuables, important papers, and medications in the box or suitcase. It should also include toiletries, a coffee pot and supplies to make it, and personal care items. This should stay with you at all times on moving day and not given to the movers to transport.


Heritage Senior Communities is pleased to announce that our newest independent living community is open in Holland, Michigan. The Village at Appledorn West offers adults over the age of 55 one- and two-bedroom apartments. An assisted living community will also be opening on the campus later this spring.

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Tips to Help Michigan Seniors Stay Safe After a Fall

Tips to Help Michigan Seniors Stay Safe After a Fall

The statistics on older adults and falls are frightening. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors. One in three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Once a senior experiences a fall, they are more likely to fall again. Experts believe the key to fall prevention is a combination of strength training, balance exercises, and vision health. Creating a safe environment is also important.

Advice for Adult Children in Michigan

Here are a few steps adult children of Michigan seniors can take to help their loved one prevent another fall:
1. Have a Home Evaluation: Throw rugs, uneven stair treads, extension cords and cluttered hallways are a just a few of the hazards older adults may encounter in their own home. Our best advice is to hire an occupational therapist or a physical therapist to conduct an in-home safety assessment. Your family physician may need to write an order or make a referral for this service.
2. Get Physical: Older adults are often afraid that exercising will increase their odds of falling. But maintaining physical strength, flexibility and balance are among the best ways to prevent falls. Talk with your aging loved one and their physician to determine what type of exercise may be best for them. One to consider is Go4Life developed by the National Institute on Aging. The program that includes a variety of tools, guides and DVDs you can order at no cost.
3. Schedule an Eye Exam: Vision problems can lead to falls. Encourage your older family member to schedule an appointment with a board certified Ophthalmologist. They can help detect potential vision problems and make recommendations for treatment.
4. Encourage Compliance: The majority of falls and injuries seniors experience occur at home. But home is the place they are least likely to use their cane or walker. Encourage your senior to be complaint with whatever assistive devices their physician has recommended for them even when they feel safe in their own home.

We hope these tips help you find ways to prevent your Michigan senior loved one from experiencing another fall. To learn more about fall prevention, we encourage you to read Debunking the Myths about Older Adult Falls developed by The National Council on Aging.


Heritage Senior Communities newest community is now open in Holland, Michigan. The Village at Appledorn West offers adults over the age of 55 one- and two-bedroom apartments. An assisted living community on the same campus will open its doors to new residents later this spring.

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Is Assisted Living an Option for People with Parkinson’s?

Is Assisted Living an Option for People with Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that can strike in adults as young as 30. Estimates are that nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year. Because people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are often in the prime of their life, the burden it places on families can be considerable. The caregiving spouse often works outside the home and has young children to care for. Trying to provide assistance to a loved one with PD and juggle all of the family responsibilities alone can be difficult. Families often turn to senior living providers for help.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

PD is caused when the body stops producing the necessary amount of dopamine, the chemical required to keep messages between the brain and the body flowing. These relayed signals are what coordinate smooth muscle movements throughout the body.

When the body fails to produce the dopamine that it needs, the result is problems walking, speech issues, stiff muscles, movement disturbances, and hand tremors. While typically not fatal, these symptoms make self-care difficult for a person with Parkinson’s. Many are forced to rely on loved ones for assistance with even the most basic activities of daily living.

How Assisted Living Can Help People with Parkinson’s Disease

When the family caregiver needs a short-term break, respite care in an assisted living community might be the answer. The loved one with Parkinson’s disease can stay for a week or two so the caregiver has time to rest and renew.

Families who have a loved one living with Parkinson’s disease often find an assisted living community to be a good long-term solution as well. Their family member can maintain their privacy in an apartment or suite while still having caregivers nearby to help attend to personal care needs.

The physical environment of an assisted living community is also a plus for someone with physical impairments caused by Parkinson’s. The overall community design is intended to support independence and safety for adults with a variety of health conditions.

An assisted living community also offers adults with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Assistance with laundry and housekeeping services.
  • Personal care support including help bathing, dressing, and attending to personal hygiene.
  • Healthy, well balanced meals.
  • Medication reminders and assistance.
  • Life enrichment activities and programs designed to meet the unique needs of adults with a variety of different health conditions. Family is also welcome to join in on these activities.

Because Parkinson’s often causes dementia in its final stages, finding a senior living community with staff experienced in working with people with memory loss is important. If the need for a memory care support does occur, the transition can be much easier in an already familiar environment.

If your Michigan loved one has Parkinson’s disease and you would like to learn more about respite care or assisted living, please call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you. Our caregivers will be happy to help answer your questions and make recommendations for managing their care.

Is There a Link Between Sleep Problems and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is There a Link Between Sleep Problems and Alzheimer’s Disease?

60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, the nightly struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. Research has already shown insomnia can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. What scientists at several universities are exploring is whether chronic insomnia may actually be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease or if it is only the result of it.

Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and Insomnia

There are a variety of research projects that have explored the possible link between sleep problems and Alzheimer’s. Several are especially interesting.

  • Johns Hopkins Sleep and Alzheimer’s Research

Researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at The Johns Hopkins University examined the sleep patterns of adults aged 70 and older. They found that older adults who slept fewer hours and had a poor quality of sleep also had higher levels of the brain plaque, Beta amyloid. This plaque has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The team at Johns Hopkins is continuing to research whether or not treating older adult’s sleep problems might help to prevent Alzheimer’s.

  • Washington University Sleep Loss and Alzheimer’s Findings

Another study conducted at the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University also delved in to this issue. In their trial, 145 volunteers who were all considered to have normal cognitive function and were between the ages of 45 and 75 were recruited. 32 of the volunteers showed signs of preclinical Alzheimer’s but did not yet have any cognitive impairment.

Participants in the two-week long trial documented their sleep habits including naps. Each volunteer wore a sensor that allowed scientists to track their movement and probable quality of sleep. What they found was participants who were the worst sleepers were five times more likely to have preclinical Alzheimer’s disease than good sleepers.

Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Rest

If you are a Michigan senior or the caregiver of one and you know you fall in to the poor sleeper category, there are a few steps you can take that may help.

  • Get 30 minutes of exercise during the day. Try to work out early in the day. Exercising too close to bedtime can actually make your insomnia worse.
  • Have a consistent wake up and bed time each day, including weekends.
  • If you don’t already know how, learn to practice meditation, Pilates or some form of yoga. Each of these help you develop better breathing techniques which can help lower stress and improve sleep quality.
  • Make your bedroom a haven for rest and relaxation. That means keeping mobile devices stored in another room. Also keep the temperature cool. Experts typically recommend setting the thermostat to between 60 and 70 degrees.
  • Try to avoid eating or drinking anything with caffeine in it past noon. Caffeine can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle.

Our final recommendation is to talk with your primary care physician if nothing helps you get a good night’s sleep. You may have a health condition like sleep apnea that may require professional intervention and treatment.

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