Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Dear Donna,

Ever since my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, I find it impossible to shop for her. Nothing I give her ever seems to make it out of its original packaging.

Do you have any advice on how to find a gift for a family member with dementia?


Angela from Holland, MI


How to Find a Holiday Gift for a Family Member With Dementia


Dear Angela,

Many caregivers struggle to find gifts for family members with dementia. After all, you want to get them something they will be able to enjoy.

It’s important to remember that those in the early stages of the disease can still enjoy many of the same gifts they did before their diagnosis. The middle and late stages of the disease are when your options become limited. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a holiday gift for your family member with dementia.

  1. Keep Them Safe

Safety is often a huge concern for someone with dementia. A few gifts that can help keep family members with dementia safe include the following.

  • A new chair. Those with dementia often have a difficult time getting in and out of chairs that sit too low to the ground. This can easily be solved with a chair that sits higher off the ground.
  • Night lights or motion sensors. Older adults often have a harder time seeing at night. Motion sensors or night lights can improve their safety, especially if they have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the night.
  1. Give Them a Sense of Purpose

Adults with dementia may feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose. Restoring this feeling can be one of the greatest gifts of all.

One way to add meaning to their life is to give them something to take care of. This can be anything from plants to dolls and stuffed animals.

  1. Inspire Their Creativity

Creative projects can be tremendously beneficial for adults with dementia. These gifts can boost their self-esteem and reduce feelings of loneliness. Plus, you can enjoy them together.

Coloring books, painting supplies, and puzzles are great gifts to spark their artistic side.

  1. Stimulate Their Senses

Sensory gifts are excellent for adults with dementia regardless of what stage they are in. Sensory gifts include anything that stimulates one of the five senses.

A few sensory gifts that are great for adults with dementia include the following:

  • Tangle toys, fidget blankets, and even toys designed for children are great for stimulating touch sensors.
  • A photo album can be an excellent gift for jogging their memory.
  • Music can be extremely beneficial to adults with dementia. Try loading songs from their childhood or young adulthood on to a playlist to trigger happy memories.
  • Stimulate their taste buds by cooking their favorite foods.
  • Scented lotions can be great for adults with dementia. Lavender scents can help them relax while more energizing smells like lemon can lift their mood.
  1. Give the Gift of Time

Sometimes your time is the best gift you can give a family member with dementia. This is especially true for those in the later stages of the disease. Spend time enjoying your loved one’s company this holiday season.

I hope these ideas help you find the perfect gift for your grandmother.

Many of our senior communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us to learn more about how we improve the lives of adults with dementia each day



How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

The holidays are the busiest time of the year for most people. Caregivers, who already have an overbooked schedule, can quickly become overwhelmed with the added stress. The increased workload can cause them to put their own needs on hold, jeopardizing their health and that of their loved one.

Here are 5 ways respite care can help caregivers manage the busy holiday season.


5 Ways Respite Care Can Help Caregivers During the Holidays


What is respite care?

Respite care provides short-term relief for caregivers by temporarily taking over their normal caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can involve having a professional caregiver go to your loved one’s home, or having them stay in a senior living community like Heritage Senior Communities for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

It can be an excellent option for caregivers who want to participate in holiday festivities without having to sacrifice their own well-being or that of the loved one they care for.

  1. Reduce Stress

Respite care can alleviate some of the stress that comes along with caring for an aging loved one by allowing them to do something for themselves—even if it means doing nothing.

Having a few hours to relax and get some much-needed rest can make a world of a difference in their mood, health, and overall well-being.

  1. Avoid Unnecessary Conflict

When you are overwhelmed, it’s not uncommon to lose your temper and lash out at people. This can be especially true with family members you feel aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to caring for your loved one.

Respite care can give you time to cool off and unwind. When you’re well rested, you are more likely to hold back your resentment and confront family members calmly.

  1. Prevent Serious Complications From an Illness

When you are overly stressed, your immunity suffers. A strong immune system is critical during a busy time like the holiday season.

Not only can respite care help protect your immunity, but it can also provide your love one with a place to stay if you get sick. The last thing you want to do is spread your illness to an older adult.

  1. Give You Peace of Mind

One of the best things about seeking respite care at an assisted living community is the “community” aspect.

Your loved one will be able to spend time with people their own age who are in similar situations. While you get a break, your loved one can make friends. Relationships and feeling connected to others is crucial for longevity and overall well-being.

  1. Allow You to Enjoy the Holidays

Everyone deserves to enjoy the holiday season. Respite care can allow caregivers to do some of the activities they may have had to skip because of their caregiving duties, such as attend a holiday party or do some holiday shopping. Respite care can give caregivers the opportunity to do so.


Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities


The holiday season may be the first time your family has seen your loved one in a while. During your time together, you may begin to talk about a senior living community as a more permanent situation. Respite care provides the perfect opportunity for your loved one to experience the community first-hand before committing to a more permanent stay.

Heritage Senior Communities offers respite care services such as adult day care and short-term stays. If you would like to learn more, call the Heritage community nearest you today.

What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?  

If you, a parent, or a senior loved one has made the decision to move to a senior living community or assisted living facility, one of the toughest parts of the process is the move itself. If you are the caregiver for a loved one, you likely already have a full plate. And for seniors who are making the move on their own, the prospect of moving homes can feel like a serious uphill battle. 

You’re not the only one struggling with this process. Read this Dear Donna letter we received a few years ago:

Dear Donna, 

My parents recently decided to move to a senior living community, and they asked me to assist them with the transition. I’d love to help them as much as possible, but I have no idea where to start. 

A friend of mine told me I should hire a senior move manager. Can you explain what a senior move manager does, and how they can help us make this transition go more smoothly?


Patricia in Saline, MI

Here’s what Donna had to say:

What is a Senior Move Manager?

Dear Patricia, 

A senior move manager is a professional who assists older adults when they relocate. You can hire a senior move manager to handle as much or as little of the moving process as you and your parents would like. Some families prefer their move manager to take care of the entire move, while others may just need them for specific activities. 

The main benefit of a senior move manager is their expertise. They have extensive knowledge of senior moves and have had a big hand in many of them. This means they’ll have information on everything, including the cost, quality, and availability of resources in the community where your parents are moving. As a result, employing them can save you time, money, and resources.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of senior move managers, Patricia. Best of luck with the move. 



P.S. Since you’re not the only one to ask this question, Patricia, I’d like to include some more information about the role of a senior move manager, and what senior move managers can do to help seniors relocate.

What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

While their title might sound fairly self-explanatory, many senior move managers provide a wide range of services that some families may not realize existed. 

01. Create a Simple, Centralized Moving Process

As a caregiver, you’re already busy managing daily care, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and more. Tackling the logistics of a senior move can be overwhelming, especially if your loved ones have a lot of belongings.

Move managers can help create an easier transition to assisted living by establishing a centralized moving process for you and your parents. They can handle every aspect of the move and prevent you from having to call a different company for each service.

Think of a senior move manager as a general contractor for a home project. A general contractor manages the schedules of the roofers, plumbers, and more. 

A senior move manager does the same thing for your loved ones’ move. They coordinate schedules of everyone from belonging appraisers to the assisted living or senior community where your parents or loved ones are moving. 

02. Develop a Plan For a Senior Move

This is likely your first time helping loved ones move to a senior living community. It’s understandable if you don’t know what to expect or what services you should consider. Move managers can help seniors and families develop a plan of action based on your senior loved one’s needs.

Senior move managers can help you with the following:

  • Develop a timeline. Senior move managers specialize in moving seniors. They can help you develop a realistic timeline and come up with a checklist of everything that needs to be done for a successful move.
  • Measure your space. By measuring how much space your parents will have in their new community, senior move managers can help identify exactly how much they can bring with them.
  • Come up with a floor plan. Because they specialize in moving older adults, senior move managers understand their needs. They can help your parents create a floor plan suited to their lifestyle.

From what you’re moving to where your family member’s belongings will go after the move, a senior move manager helps remove a lot of the stress and decision-making that comes with a senior move. This frees you up to focus on your loved ones and the care they’re receiving through this process.

03. Make Decisions About Belongings

Making decisions about what to keep is one of the most demanding challenges when it comes to senior moves. Their new home is likely smaller, requiring them to decide what to keep, sell, and donate. A senior move manager can help your loved one prepare for moving to an assisted living or senior living community. 

Seniors move managers can help in the following ways:

  • Organize, sort, and pack belongings. They can help seniors decide what to keep and what to get rid of. For items that are to be kept, the senior move manager will help pack and label, so everything arrives safely at the new destination. 
  • Coordinate item removal. Once your loved ones and their senior move manager have identified what to keep, and what to get rid of, senior move managers can help seniors downsize. They’ll arrange the removal of all of those extra items, and not just by donation. A senior move manager can arrange auctions, estate sales, buy-outs, consignment, donations, or any combination of these. 
  • Arrange shipments and storage. Senior move managers can also help with the logistics of your loved ones’ move. If there are things they want to keep, but won’t fit in their new home, a senior move manager can find the right storage facility. And for anything they are taking to their new home, a senior move manager can coordinate how those items get there. 

04. Help Seniors Move, Unpack and Settle in Their New Home

Senior move managers know that the hard work of a move doesn’t end with packing. Once your loved ones’ belongings arrive at their new home, they’ll also help with the unpacking and settling-in process. Senior move managers also provide the following services:

  • Moving belongings to the new place. Many senior move managers are also movers. If they are not, they can assist by interviewing, scheduling, and overseeing the movers.
  • Helping seniors unpack on moving day. Since most senior move managers are in charge of determining the floor plan for your loved ones’ new home, they know exactly where all of those boxes are supposed to go. They’ll also make sure furniture is in place according to the plan you’ve established with them. 
  • Assisting seniors to set up their technology. Getting used to a new phone, computer, or internet can be tricky to do, especially when moving into a brand new place. A senior move manager will also make sure the internet, phone, and computer are ready to use before they leave. 

05. Help Prepare The Home For Sale

If you or your loved ones are moving on from a home and would like to put the house up for sale, many senior move managers can help here as well. 

Once your loved ones are settled in their new space, the senior move manager can continue to coordinate the home cleaning, disposal of any unwanted items, and more. This way, that home will be perfectly prepared to sell, and you have to do minimal work to get it there. 

How is a Senior Move Manager Different From a Moving Company?

If you’re planning a senior move, you may wonder why a specialized service like a senior move manager might be necessary. In many ways, it seems like they provide very similar services to a moving company. The truth is that: 

A senior move manager coordinates every aspect of a senior’s move from one home to the next. This includes everything from selling or donating unwanted belongings to developing a safe, accessible floorplan for the senior’s next residence, and everything in between. A senior move manager goes above and beyond with coordination, support, packing and unpacking, and of course, moving services as well. 

A moving company is responsible for getting boxes from point A to point B. While some moving companies may box up belongings for an additional fee, they typically won’t help unpack, and they don’t provide any other services beyond relocating belongings. 

When is a Senior Move Manager The Right Option For My Family?

With that information in mind, you can imagine that a senior move manager is great for situations where you or your loved ones might require a bit of additional assistance. A senior move manager is ideal for the following situations: 

    • Seniors moving from a large home. A senior move manager can help with the downsizing process and make sure that you or your loved ones get the very most from their belongings. 
    • Seniors with extra care requirements. If you or your loved one requires extra care due to a health or mobility issue, a senior move manager can provide the extra helping hand you need to make sure the move is as seamless as possible.
    • Seniors who live far from family. If you or your loved one is far away, a senior move manager can provide the help that distant family isn’t able to.
    • Families who could use a little extra help. Any move is a big project, senior moves included. If you’re looking for a way to minimize stress and make the process as straightforward as possible, a senior move manager can help. 

How Much Do Senior Move Management Services Cost?

Senior move management services range significantly based on the services you are looking for to the area where you or your loved one is moving. In general, senior move managers take an hourly rate, though some may charge a flat rate for certain services. 

If you’re considering a senior move manager, it’s always best to contact a few local options, and then get estimates or bids from each. Then, you can compare which services you might need, and select the best senior move manager based on your budget. 

Senior Move Managers Understand Seniors

Senior move managers have a deep understanding of the emotional and physical aspects unique to a senior move. Moving can be difficult, especially for seniors who are moving because they are no longer able to live on their own. Senior move managers know this and can do their best to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to make the transition to assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.


4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

Caregivers already have a lot on their plate. The emotional and physical toll of caregiving can be sizable, especially if a senior loved one has dementia. This makes them extra vulnerable to stress when the busy holiday season rolls around. If it’s not managed properly, stress can lead to burnout.

Here are 4 ways to beat caregiver stress during the holidays.


4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays


  1. Understand Where Your Stress Comes From

The first step to beating caregiver stress is to identify where your stress comes from. Once you identify the situations that cause the most stress, you can try to avoid them.

Here are a few common reasons caregivers get stressed during the holiday season.

  • Not having enough time.
  • Family relationships.
  • Setting unrealistic expectations.
  • Financial concerns.
  1. Know Your Limitations

One of the biggest mistakes caregivers make is thinking they can do everything. You can save yourself a lot of grief by accepting this is just a myth. Not even the most energetic caregivers can do it all.

Here are a few ways you can limit your responsibilities.

  • Modify traditions. It’s okay to simplify or even skip holiday traditions. Even if you traditionally host celebrations or prepare the meals, it’s okay to opt out this year.
  • Decline invitations. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event you are invited to. Your friends and family will understand if you have to say no.
  1. Make Your Health a Priority

During the holidays, caregivers are often so busy that they neglect their health. Unfortunately, this will put you on the quickest path to burnout.

Here are a few ways caregivers can stay healthy this season.

  • Don’t overindulge in treats. The holidays are often full of sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy treats. While it’s okay to enjoy a few treats, it’s not okay to overindulge. Doing so can leaving you feeling sluggish.
  • When you are exhausted, exercise may be the last thing you want to do. But contrary to what you may think, exercise can boost your mental and physical energy. Try your best to incorporate exercise in to your daily routine.
  1. Ask for Help

Caregiving is a lot of work, and sometimes you will need help. Here are a few ways caregivers can get support:

  • Join a support group. Support groups can be a great way for you to connect with people who face similar challenges.
  • Ask friends and family members. If you need additional help during the holidays, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family. Most of the time they will be happy to assist you.
  • Explore respite care. Many senior communities like Heritage offer short-term respite care. This allows caregivers to take a break by offering their loved ones a safe place to stay.


The Holidays Can Be a Wakeup Call


The holidays can be a great chance for your family to see firsthand how much work you put in as a caregiver. This time of year may even encourage them to start thinking about your loved one’s long-term care. That may mean touring a local assisted living community, such as Heritage. Contact us to ask about the services offered by any of the Heritage Senior Communities.