How Does the Family and Medical Leave Act Help Caregivers?

How Does the Family and Medical Leave Act Help Caregivers?

Dear Donna,

My dad’s health recently took a turn for the worse. I want to take time off, but I am concerned I will lose my job.

My coworker said I should look in to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). I thought that was for new parents.

What is FMLA, and how can it benefit other caregivers?


Dorothy from Saline MI


How the Family and Medical Leave Act Can Help Family Caregivers


Dear Dorothy,

It is a common misconception that FMLA is just for new parents. That probably has to do with the fact that many people refer to it as maternity leave.

This act can actually be very beneficial to working family caregivers. Here’s how FMLA applies to caregivers, including the rights and protections it provides.


What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?


FMLA provides employees who meet specific requirements with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off each year. For the benefit to apply, the caregiver must be caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.


5 Ways FMLA Helps Caregivers


  1. FMLA allows you time off to care for your loved ones.

If you are a family caregiver, you will probably need to miss some work. FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks off in a given year to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The time off is unpaid, and the person you are caring for must be an immediate family member. That means in-laws are not included.

  1. FMLA protects your health insurance.

FMLA protects your health insurance, including any family members on your plan. This is huge because health care is expensive without insurance. It’s a relief to know that you don’t have to worry about losing coverage unless you fail to pay your monthly premium.

  1. FMLA protects your job.

Although FMLA allows you to take time off, you might still be concerned about losing your position. FMLA requires your employer to give you back your position (or one with the same level of responsibility) when you return.

  1. FMLA can give you flexibility.

One of the best things about FMLA is that you aren’t required to take it all at once. You have the option to use it in intervals or work shorter shifts. This can be incredibly beneficial if you want to spread the time out or only take time off when you need to.

  1. FMLA allows you to be there for your loved ones.

Most importantly, FMLA allows you to be there for your loved ones when they need it most.

I hope this helps you better understand FMLA and how it can benefit working caregivers.


When You Don’t Quality for FMLA


If you do not qualify for FMLA, you may want to consider looking in to assisted living for your loved one.

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



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5 Experience Gifts to Give a Senior This Holiday Season

5 Experience Gifts to Give a Senior This Holiday Season

When people think about gifts, they often think of tangible items and forget about gifts that are experienced. But these types of gifts can be great for seniors for various reasons.

Experience gifts are often more thoughtful, they take up less space, and they usually create longer lasting memories. Here are 5 experience gifts to give a senior this holiday season.


5 Experience Gifts for Seniors


  1.  Yoga Classes

Not only is yoga fun, but regular yoga practice provides many health benefits. Yoga has been shown to decrease hypertension, strengthen bones, and maintain a healthy weight.

The three basic elements of yoga—meditation, breathing, and posture—can help manage blood pressure by decreasing nervous system activity. Allow your loved one to experience the positive effects of yoga by getting them yoga classes this holiday season.

  1. A Luxury Massage

A luxury massage can be a particularly great gift for an older adult. Seniors are at a greater risk for developing many health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure. Massage therapy has been shown to improve the side effects that often come with these conditions.

Seniors are also more prone to problems with posture. It can increase their risk of falling. Massage can improve postural stability and balance, therefore reducing fall risk.

Equally important, a massage is relaxing. A luxury massage can give seniors a chance to unwind and be pampered.

  1. A Family Vacation

Planning a family vacation for your loved one can be a great gift. It will give your family time to bond and create new memories.

Be sure to plan a trip the entire family can enjoy. Your loved one will appreciate all of the memories they will make during the vacation.

  1. Painting Classes

Painting classes are another great gift. In general, art has many benefits for seniors and their overall well-being. It has been shown to reduce many of the symptoms associated with chronic disease, including anxiety and depression.

Art can also provide an opportunity to socialize and foster a stronger sense of identity. Both are important to a senior’s overall health. Purchasing painting classes for your loved one can allow them to reap many of these benefits in addition to having fun.

  1. Flower Arranging Classes

Flower arranging classes can be a great gift for seniors. Similar to painting classes, flower arranging fosters creativity and provides an opportunity for seniors to socialize.

Flower arranging can also be a great option for seniors who love to garden. Giving your loved one flower arranging classes will allow them to explore their passion for plants in a new way.

We hope these ideas help you come up with some fun experience gifts for your senior loved one!

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Dear Donna,

My children had a great relationship with their grandfather until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

After he moved to assisted living, their relationship began to deteriorate. Every time my kids visit him, they complain that they are bored and constantly ask when they can go home.

I want my children to spend time with their grandfather, but I am struggling to make their time together enjoyable.

What are some fun activities that kids can do with a grandparent who has Alzheimer’s disease?


Yolanda in Holland, MI


Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s


Dear Yolanda,

It can be difficult for grandchildren to connect with loved ones after a move to assisted living. Alzheimer’s makes finding activities that both kids and their grandparents can enjoy even more complicated. But the relationship between children and their grandparents is important.

For children, spending time with their grandparents exposes them to new wisdom and knowledge, as well as a different perspective.

Relationships also become more important for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Spending time with grandchildren can make them feel important and bring them the sense of connectedness that they often lose as their disease progresses.

Here are a few activities that can be fun for both children and older loved ones with Alzheimer’s.


Activities Kids and Grandparents Can Do Together



Gardening is a common past time for older adults, and it can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Many older adults lose their sense of purpose after they are diagnosed with the disease. Gardening can help bring it back by giving them something to take care of.

Gardening is an activity that adults with Alzheimer’s and kids can do together. Your senior loved one will enjoy being able to pass their knowledge about gardening to their grandkids. In turn, your kids will learn a new skill. Kids and grandparents can even decorate the pots they are going to use.


Bird Watching

Bird watching is another great activity that kids and their grandparents can both enjoy. Purchase some birdhouses—you can even purchase plain houses and decorate them together.

Put birdfeed in the houses and set them up around the yard. You will all have a great time watching the birds eat. You can even purchase a bird reference guide and watch as your loved ones try to identify the birds in the yard.


Create a Family Tree

A family tree can be an excellent opportunity for children to create memories with their grandparents. It can also be a learning experience for your children to see where they came from.

For adults with Alzheimer’s, it can be a great way for them to reminisce. This can be therapeutic and stimulate their memory.

Get a poster board and have them draw out their family tree. Gather family photos and place them on the tree. Include names and birthdays.


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities


Many memory care programs—like the one at Appledorn’s Heritage Senior Communities location—offer a variety of opportunities for kids to do activities with grandparents.

Contact us to learn more about specialized dementia care at Appledorn Assisted Living Center South.

I hope this helps you come up with fun activities for your kids to enjoy with their grandfather. You won’t regret encouraging a relationship between your kids and their grandfather. Your kids will be thankful you did as well.



4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

Repetition is a common behavior among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Those affected may repeat words, questions, or activities. This is their attempt to comfort themselves when they are feeling agitated.

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease, especially those in the later stages of the disease, often lose their sense of the world. Their disease causes them to become confused, and they start looking for ways to alleviate their discomfort. Repetition can provide this relief.

Repetitive tasks can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They can improve self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose and normalcy—things they often lose as their disease progresses. Here are 4 repetitive activities that can help decrease Alzheimer’s agitation.


4 Repetitive Tasks That Can Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation


  1. Knitting and Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting can be very calming for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Not only do they give them something to focus on, but they allow them to be creative. Provide them with a ball of yarn and make sure to give them large needles and hooks so they can easily see what they are doing.  Your loved one will be excited to show you their creations.

  1. Folding Laundry

Folding laundry can be satisfying for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Try to give them simple items like towels to fold where the motions required are the same. Not only is this repetitive, but it can make them feel like they are being useful and increase their confidence.

  1. Organize Papers

If you are like most people, you have a stack of papers somewhere in your home that you don’t need. Turn this in to an activity for your loved one by having them sort the papers. They will be happy to help you organize your papers, even if you only plan to throw them away after they are finished.

  1. Sorting Cards

People with Alzheimer’s love sorting. Give your loved one a shuffled deck of cards ask them to sort them. They can do this in any way they choose.

One great idea is to find cards with a theme they enjoy or that has to do with one of their hobbies. Do they love baseball? Get them baseball cards. Are they in to golf? Get them a golf-themed deck.


More Repetitive Tasks


Finding activities for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it often just requires a little creativity. Here are a few more activities that involve repetition.

  • Rolling a ball of yarn
  • Tying knots in a rope
  • Organizing items by color, shape, or design
  • Stringing paper clips
  • Sorting buttons by color, size, and shape

Whatever task you choose, remember to be mindful of your loved one’s cognitive limitations. Typically, the simpler the activity, the better.


Memory Care for Seniors with Alzheimer’s


If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to start visiting memory care communities. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a tour.