What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

Dear Donna,

Our mom still lives in her own home and usually does just fine on her own. However, her bathroom has not been updated in years, and we’re worried about her slipping and falling in the shower. She also has arthritis that has made it more difficult to bathe.

Are there other safety issues we should look for in her bathroom? How can we reduce her safety risks and make her more comfortable?

Sincerely,

Janice Bauer, Holland, MI

Keeping Bathrooms Safe for Seniors

Dear Janice,

It’s understandable that you are concerned about your mom’s safety in the bathroom. Hospital emergency departments treat 2.8 million older adults every year for fall injuries. Many of these falls happen in the bathroom and are due to hazards like slippery floors.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce your mom’s risk of falling in the bathroom, as well as other possible safety issues. Do a thorough safety check of her bathroom and determine which precautions are necessary.

Here are some things to look for when you’re checking your mom’s bathroom, including how you can make it safer for her.

Senior Bathroom Safety Issues to Look For

Floors:

  • Tubs or showers should have non-slip surfaces; add floor mats or non-skid appliques to avoid sliding on the tub floor.
  • Bathroom floors should have a textured surface or have non-skid carpet or rugs.
  • A bath bench can reduce the need to stand in the shower and can help with getting in and out of the tub.

Lighting:

  • Does the bathroom have sufficient, even lighting?
  • Light switches should be easily accessible near the door.
  • Make sure burned-out light bulbs are changed.

Doors:

  • Bathroom doors should open outward.
  • Doorways should be wide enough to accommodate any mobility devices, such as walkers.
  • Shower doors should be made of safety glass or plastic.

Fixtures:

  • Consider installing lever handles on sinks and showers, which can help seniors with arthritis and stiff joints.
  • If the shower head is difficult to reach, install a shower head attachment.
  • Consider a walk-in bathtub to make bathing easier.
  • If the toilet is too low, a higher toilet or a seat extender can make use easier.
  • Install grab bars near the shower and toilet; a tension pole is another option.
  • Towel racks and other shelving are not substitutes for grab bars, but they should still be installed sturdily.
  • Consider installing a telephone in the bathroom, reachable from the floor, if your mom falls and must call for help.

Miscellaneous:

  • Toiletries and towels should be easy to reach and should not require seniors to stretch and reach too far; keep items convenient with additional shelves or water-resistant baskets.
  • Do the outlets prevent electric shock?
  • Is there sufficient heat and ventilation?
  • Set hot water heater to 120 degrees F to avoid scalding.
  • Insulate any exposed water pipes or wiring.

I hope these tips help you create a safer bathroom for your mother!

Kind regards,

Donna

Offering Safe Senior Care

Family-owned Heritage Senior Communities focuses on providing quality senior housing and licensed assisted living. Contact us today to ask questions or schedule a tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

Dear Donna,

My older parents are considering moving to a senior living community, and I am confused about the different options for paying. I thought our only option was to pay for it ourselves, but a friend just told me that her parents used other methods as well.

Can you tell me more about what kinds of funding senior living communities accept?

Sincerely,

Mary from Holland, MI

Financing a Move to a Senior Living Community

Mary,

Thanks for asking this question. How to pay for senior living is an important topic, and we appreciate the opportunity to address it. Considering the national average cost for assisted living is just below $4,000 a month, it’s good to know all the options you and your family have on your side.

To begin, assess the level of care your parents will want and need. Consider if your parents are searching for independent or assisted living, or if they would need to move into a memory care community. Based on their needs, you’ll find different ways to fund this next chapter in their lives.

Assisted Living

If either of your senior loved ones was in the military, he or she (and spouse) may be entitled to VA benefits to help pay for assisted living. Medicaid is also an option, though this varies by state. Some long-term care insurances can help, too.

Long-term care insurance is similar to health insurance and must be purchased through a private insurance company. If one company denies an applicant or the benefits aren’t what you were hoping for, keep applying to other companies! You may find just the right one for your family’s situation.

Memory Care

Memory care communities are specially designed for those seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The care offered at these communities can be funded using a family’s private funds, veterans’ benefits, long-term care insurance, or, depending on the state, Medicaid.

Independent Living

Independent living communities may participate in state or federal programs that subsidize housing, meaning they are able to offer fees at a sliding scale based on the senior’s income. There are organizations that can point you to a list of subsidized senior housing options in your area and their entrance fees.

In general, however, independent living is financed using the senior’s private resources often with help from family.

Financing Senior Living

There may be other options available to help you and your family finance a move to a senior living community. We encourage you to call us with questions and to schedule a tour of the Heritage Senior Community in your hometown.

I hope this information helps, Mary!

Kind regards,

Donna

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

Older adults may already know that hot summer temperatures can create health risks like sunburn and heatstroke. But can the humidity also be dangerous?

Research shows that high humidity, especially when combined with high temperatures, may create cardiovascular risks. Specifically, humidity may have an effect on adults with high blood pressure. Here’s what you should know and how seniors can protect themselves.

 

How Humidity Can Affect Adult with High Blood Pressure

 

The greatest risks are when the temperature is above 70 degrees F and the humidity is more than 70 percent. Higher humidity means that there is more moisture in the air, which can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and cool off.

Blood pressure specifically may be affected in summer weather because of the body’s attempts to radiate heat. High temperatures coupled with high humidity cause more blood flow to the skin, which may require the heart to beat faster and harder. In fact, the body may circulate twice as much blood per minute compared to a cool day.

Heat and sweating can also lower the amount of fluid in the body, which can reduce blood volume and lead to dehydration. This may create strain on the heart.

 

Risk Factors Vulnerable to Humidity

 

Although anyone can be impacted by heat and humidity without protection, some people are at higher risk. Individuals over the age of 50, those who are overweight, or those who have heart, lung, or kidney conditions may be more affected by humidity.

Other risk factors may include poor circulation, low-sodium diets, alcohol use, and taking certain medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or blood-pressure medication.

 

Warning Signs of Stress From Heat and Humidity

 

The following symptoms, whether they apply to yourself or a loved one, require immediate action against heat stress:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Rapid pulse

 

If you think you may be experiencing heat stress, move to a cooler, air-conditioned, or shaded area and drink plenty of fluids. You may also want to take a cool shower or bath and lie down.

If the symptoms don’t improve, seek medical help immediately.

 

Take Precautions Against Humidity

 

Many of the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to humidity are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are also many options to help protect them.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (even when you don’t feel thirsty).
  • Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks on very hot and humid days.
  • If you spend a lot of time outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics.
  • Wear properly fitted, well-ventilated shoes and socks that repel sweat.
  • Avoid spending too much time outside when the sun and heat are strongest, usually 12pm to 3pm.

 

Safe, Appropriate Care in All Seasons

 

Heritage Senior Communities has 15 locations throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, providing a variety of options for your loved one’s specific, unique situation. Schedule a tour by contacting us today!

Emergency Room Safety Tips for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

Emergency Room Safety Tips for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

An emergency room visit can be stressful for anyone, but especially for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Research even shows that hospital stays can be hazardous for adults with dementia.

Caregivers can make the experience easier on themselves and their loved ones by following a few helpful tips.

 

How to Navigate Emergency Room Visits for a Senior With Alzheimer’s

 

  1. Ask someone to come along.

Even if they have mild dementia, seniors should always bring another person with them to help explain symptoms to hospital staff and remember instructions. If you are the caregiver of a senior with more advanced Alzheimer’s, bring a second caregiver to divide up the responsibilities. Even if only one caregiver can be present, contact other family members to inform them of the situation.

  1. Be patient and comfort your loved one.

Hospitals can be confusing, frightening, and stressful. A familiar and comforting item from home, such as a pillow, photograph, or music player with headphones can help your loved one relax. Calmly and simply explain to them what is going on. Stay positive and reassuring.

  1. Tell providers your loved one has Alzheimer’s.

Let hospital staff know that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. Explain to them how your loved one prefers to communicate. This will help them better provide for their needs and reach a diagnosis.

  1. Know the symptoms.

Make sure you understand your loved one’s symptoms and can explain them to the hospital staff. Be prepared to explain them to different people multiple times. Let them know of any unusual behaviors or if symptoms start getting worse.

  1. Bring the right items.

The right paperwork can help an emergency room visit go more smoothly. Be sure you have the following:

  • Health insurance cards
  • List of current medications, allergies, medical conditions, and providers’ contact information
  • Copies of healthcare advance directives
  • Personal information sheet with your loved one’s preferred name and language, emergency contacts, need for assistance devices such as glasses or hearing aids, and living situation
  • Snacks and bottled water
  • Incontinence briefs, if needed, along with moist towelettes and plastic bags
  • A change of clothing and toiletries for any caregivers
  • Paper and pen for writing down information from hospital staff
  • Cell phone and charger

If possible, keep these items packed at home and easily accessible in case of additional emergencies.

  1. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to bring up any issues or concerns with hospital staff. Ask for clarification when needed. Write down all of the information each of their physicians and health care professionals share. Make sure you fully understand follow-up care.

 

Compassionate Memory Care

 

Seniors with memory loss, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, often require special levels of care. At Heritage Senior Communities, we have several assisted living communities with dedicated memory care programs. Each one is focused on reducing stress and enhancing quality of life for residents. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

What Should Families Know About Assisted Living in Michigan?

What Should Families Know About Assisted Living in Michigan?

Dear Donna,

Our dad has been struggling to keep up with his house since our mom passed away. He’s still fairly independent but needs more and more help with running errands, cleaning, and getting around. He has friends and some other family members nearby, but it’s hard to help him while also taking care of our families.

He’s agreed to consider a move to assisted living. What should we know as we consider the options?

Best,

Bill Williams, Saline, MI

 

Considering Assisted Living in Michigan

 

Dear Bill,

Your dad has taken a big step in considering a move to assisted living. As you ponder this choice, remember to be patient with him. It can be a difficult decision.

Fortunately, assisted living has numerous benefits that can help set your dad’s mind at ease and make the eventual transition easier.

 

What Families and Seniors Should Know About Michigan Assisted Living

 

Maintain Independence

Assisted living communities help older adults maintain as much independence as possible while providing services such as housekeeping and meals.

Many assisted living locations allow pets, provided residents can care for them properly. They also provide opportunities for socializing, worship, entertainment, and other life-enriching activities.

Health and Wellness Choices

Assisted living communities are meant to support seniors in their health maintenance, allowing them to lead full, healthy lives. Depending on individual needs, this assistance may include the following:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming and dressing
  • Toileting or incontinence
  • Medication management
  • Wellness checks

Fitness centers and scheduled activities encourage physical and mental activity.

The state of Michigan has certain licensing requirements for assisted living providers that offer particular types of care. The licensing includes the patient’s right to receive appropriate care and to be fully informed of treatment options.

Assisted living centers also promote safety, often with building access controls and round-the-clock staffing to help at all hours.

Payment Options

The cost of assisted living can be intimidating for many families, but several financial programs can help. If you have long-term care insurance, be aware that some policies also cover assisted living. The Veteran’s Administration offers financial support to veterans who served during a period of war and their surviving spouse, if they meet certain criteria. In Michigan, Medicaid or MI Choice may also help cover some expenses associated with assisted living for older adults who qualify.

I hope this information is helpful, Bill!

Best Regards,

Donna

 

Choosing the Right Assisted Living Option

 

All of the assisted living centers in the Heritage Senior Communities family, including our Linden Square location in Saline, are fully licensed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. These locations provide holistic care and support to residents in a comfortable, home-like setting. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.