How Do I Start a Conversation with My Mom about Assisted Living?

How Do I Start a Conversation with My Mom about Assisted Living?

Dear Donna,

After visiting my mother over the holidays, I noticed a few signs that she may no longer be able to live on her own.

She had dishes piled in the sink and her laundry basket was overflowing. This is very unusual for my mother because she has always been very tidy.

How do I start a conversation with my mom about assisted living?


Erica from Saline, MI


Starting a Conversation about Assisted Living


Dear Erica,

Starting a conversation about assisted living is rarely easy. Many family members are hesitant to bring up the topic for fear they will upset their loved ones. This causes them to delay the conversation, sometimes until an accident or illness forces the discussion.

Talking about assisted living under these conditions can make the process far more stressful. It can result in unnecessary arguments, and can even harm your relationship.

An accident also forces you to rush the process. This can significantly limit the time you have to thoroughly evaluate your options.

To avoid the consequences of waiting, it’s best to start the conversation as soon as possible. Here are a few tips for you to start the conversation about assisted living.


4 Tips to Start a Conversation about Assisted Living


  1. Do your research.

Before attempting to start a conversation about assisted living, do your research. Becoming knowledgeable about assisted living in Michigan will enable you to have a productive discussion and be a resource for your loved one. This will encourage them to come to you with their questions.

  1. Approach the topic with empathy.

When discussing a potentially sensitive topic like assisted living, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with the intent to understand the other person.

Older adults have their own opinions about assisted living. For seniors, assisted living can mean:

  • Leaving the home they’ve lived in for a long time.
  • Admitting they need help.
  • Feeling like they’re losing their independence.

Taking the time to listen to their concerns will make them feel more comfortable discussing their feelings with you.

  1. Start talking about assisted living early.

Moving to an assisted living community is a huge, life-changing event. It’s probably going to require more than one discussion.

This is one of the biggest reasons to bring up the topic early. Your loved one may not immediately understand why you are concerned. They might not see the benefits associated with moving to a community.

Bringing your concerns to their attention early on will allow them time to soak in what you’ve told them.

  1. Put your relationship first.

It’s important to remember to put your relationship with your loved one first. If the conversation leads to arguments or becomes hostile in any way, you may need to take a step back. You may even have to accept that you aren’t the right person to have the discussion.

Some seniors take advice better from certain family members than others. Some loved ones may even require a professional like a doctor or a geriatric care manager to advise them to transition to assisted living before they start to listen.

I hope this helps you start a conversation with your mother about assisted living!



Heritage Senior Communities

Starting a conversation about assisted living can be challenging for many families. After all, it requires them to admit they need help and consider leaving a home they’ve likely lived in for a long time.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living Center, provide support to make the conversation about assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.


6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

Age-related changes can make it difficult for seniors to exercise regularly. Reduced mobility, a fear of injury, and a lack of confidence can make exercise unappealing. There is one form of exercise that is suitable for most seniors: walking.

Walking is great for most seniors because there is a low risk of injury. They can easily vary the intensity of their workout by how quickly they walk, and it’s easy to get started. Here are a few ways walking can help seniors stay healthy as they age.


6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging


  1. Reduces the risk of falls

Falling is a common concern for older adults. Not only are seniors at a higher risk for falls, but they are also more likely to sustain a fatal injury from falling.

Walking has been shown to help seniors prevent falls by improving their balance and coordination. It also helps improve their physical health by improving the flexibility of their joints and strengthening their muscles and bones. This can help decrease the severity of an injury in the event of a fall.

  1. Helps seniors control their blood pressure

With age often comes a rise in blood pressure.

Walking and other forms of exercise can strengthen the heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood. Regular walking has even been shown to be as effective as some medications in regulating blood pressure.

  1. Reduces the risk of a heart attack

Many seniors struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Over time, bad cholesterol causes plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Walking can help seniors by increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously reducing the amount of bad cholesterol. As a result, their risk of having a heart attack decreases.

  1. Lowers blood sugar

Older adults are more susceptible to poor blood sugar control after they eat. Their blood sugar rises to unhealthy levels.

Walking after a meal has been shown to reduce the spike in blood sugar. This allows the body to use the blood sugar efficiently.

  1. Boosts mental health

Walking, as well as other forms of exercise, releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones reduce your perception of pain while heightening positive feelings.

This means that walking has the ability to improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, lessen anxiety, and lower stress.

  1. Helps seniors maintain their weight

As your age increases, your metabolism decreases. This makes older adults more susceptible to weight gain.

Walking, combined with healthy eating, can help seniors maintain their weight by burning more calories than they consume.


Start Walking

Older adults need 150 minutes of exercise per week. That number may seem overwhelming, but breaking your walking sessions up over the course of a week can make the figure more manageable.

Many adults find that walking for 30 minutes five days a week works well. Others find success breaking up their walks into three 10-minute walks per day.

Seniors can benefit from walking regardless of how they incorporate it into their schedule. The most important thing is that they find a way to stick with it.


Independence Plus Support at Heritage Senior Communities

The ability to maintain a home can become a real struggle as you grow older. If you or a senior loved one is having trouble, it might be time to explore local assisted living communities.

In addition to providing assistance with daily tasks, Heritage Senior Communities provide opportunities for seniors to remain active, including a daily exercise schedule. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

Dear Donna,

My uncle recently turned 86 years old. He’s in pretty good shape for his age, but I’m concerned that he is getting too old to drive.

How can I tell if it’s time for my uncle to give up driving?


Melissa from Holland, MI


How to Tell When It’s Time to Stop Driving


Dear Melissa,

Knowing when it’s time to give up driving can be hard. There is no set age when a person is supposed to stop driving. Some adults drive well into their nineties without any problems while others are forced to give up their keys sooner.

While age alone doesn’t determine a person’s ability to drive, there are age-related changes that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. This includes physical changes like reduced mobility and vision loss. Cognitive changes like a slower reaction time can also affect driving.

Here are a few signs to help you determine if it’s unsafe for a senior loved one to drive.


Signs It May Be Time for Seniors to Give up Driving


  1. Their driving performance

One of the easiest ways to determine if a loved one is safe on the road is to evaluate their driving performance. Next time you go out, ask them to drive.

Here are a few signs of unsafe driving:

  • Trouble staying in their lane
  • Long pauses at stop signs and red lights
  • Driving above or below the speed limit
  • Riding the brake
  • Difficulty parking
  • Riding up the curb

If you notice any of these red flags, it may be a good idea to bring it to their attention.

  1. Their state of mind

Your loved one’s state of mind while driving can say a lot about their driving ability. Here are a few emotions that can affect their ability to drive safely:

  • Nervousness: Many older adults become nervous on the road; this can affect their driving.
  • Confusion: Being confused can indicate they are unsure of what to do during certain situations.
  • Irritation: Does your loved one get irritated easily while driving? Unnecessary road rage can be their way of coping with stress and frustration while driving.

If your loved one demonstrates any of these emotions, it may be a good idea to talk to them about how they feel about driving. They could be lacking confidence in their own driving ability.

  1. Health conditions that could affect their driving

Many health conditions can affect a person’s ability to drive. Here are a few conditions that are common among seniors:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease causes cognitive difficulties that can make driving unsafe. Seniors can forget where they are going, make poor decisions, and get lost.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis causes stiffness in the joints, which can make driving painful. This can make turning the wheel and other movements necessary to drive incredibly difficult. They can even have trouble getting in and out of the car.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma makes it difficult to see out of central vision. Cyclists, pedestrians, and even other cars can be missed.
  • Age-related macular degeneration: Another condition that affects vision is macular degeneration. This can make it difficult to see signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians.

If your loved one has any of these conditions, it may be time to talk to your loved one about hanging up their keys.

I hope this helps you determine if it’s time for your senior loved one to stop driving!



Heritage Senior Communities Promote Senior Safety

Heritage Senior Communities encourage senior safety in our assisted living communities throughout Michigan. Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options or to schedule a private tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.

7 Tips for Talking to Young Children about Alzheimer’s Disease

7 Tips for Talking to Young Children about Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding Alzheimer’s disease is challenging for people of all ages. For children, the disease can be downright confusing and difficult to accept.

In efforts to protect their children, parents often avoid talking about a grandparent’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This usually backfires and causes their children more harm in the long run.

Here are a few things that can happen when parents don’t open up to their children about their grandparent’s illness:

  • Children mistakenly think they did something wrong.
  • They blame themselves for their grandparent’s behavior.
  • They sense something is wrong, but their concerns are never validated.
  • They are embarrassed about their grandparent’s behavior.

Here are a few tips for talking to young children about Alzheimer’s disease.


7 Tips for Talking with Young Children about a Grandparent’s Alzheimer’s


  1. Do your research.

Before you talk to your children, take the time to learn about the disease. This will prepare you to explain the disease to your kids and answer their questions.

Being able to discuss the situation will help reassure your children that you have everything under control.

  1. Make it simple.

Explain to your children what is going on with their grandparents in the simplest words. This will help ensure they understand.

Instead of telling them about the plaques and tangles, simplify your explanation by telling them their grandparent has a condition that makes it hard to remember things.

  1. Prepare them for changes.

Give examples of how their grandparents might change or point out some ways they have already changed.

Try to explain what is happening as their grandparent’s symptoms change at each stage of the disease. For example, if they are in the first stage of the disease, you may say something like, “You may have noticed grandma forgets things more often. Her disease is going to make her forgetful.”

As the disease progresses, you may find yourself saying something like, “You may have noticed grandpa gets frustrated more easily. It has nothing to do with you; his illness makes him grumpy sometimes.”

  1. Validate their feelings.

It’s normal for children to become sad or angry that their grandparents are sick. It can be even more devastating when their grandparents forget who they are. Let children know that these feelings are normal, and that you, too, are upset about the disease.

  1. Assure them that it’s not their fault.

When kids don’t understand the illness, they may blame themselves. Reassure them that they did not cause their grandparent’s Alzheimer’s disease. Let them know there isn’t anything they could have done to prevent it.

  1. Let them know it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Children often become embarrassed about their grandparent’s behavior. Let them know that the disease is making their grandparent act that way; it’s not their true personality.

  1. Encourage them to ask questions.

During the conversation, give your children the opportunity to ask questions about Alzheimer’s disease. Answer as many as it takes for them to understand.

Also, encourage them to ask questions about their grandparent’s behavior. This will help them become more comfortable with the topic.


Difficult Conversations Are Often the Most Important

Like most important conversations, talking to children about their grandparent’s Alzheimer’s disease is important. The closer their relationship is with their grandparent, the more the diagnosis is going to affect them. Opening up to your children about the disease can allow them to deal with their grandparent’s illness in a healthier way.


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know how difficult it is to care for a loved one while caring for young children of your own. Many of our communities have dedicated memory programs for adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s’ disease. Contact us to learn more about our specialized dementia care.