Today’s assisted living communities offer a wide range of services and amenities, from life enrichment activities to transportation, beauty/barber salons, and safe, thoughtfully designed apartments. These services support the care, independence, quality of life, and safety of seniors.
Here’s a quick overview of the benefits assisted living communities offer to older adults.
Why Move to an Assisted Living Community?
- On-site services: Residents appreciate the variety of amenities available to them. From a beauty/barber shop to on-site worship opportunities, the services offered in an assisted living community make life a little easier.
- Maintenance-free lifestyle: Another major convenience of an assisted living community is that household tasks, repairs, and general maintenance are handled for residents. Everything from snow removal and lawn care to laundry and appliance repair is handled by staff. That allows residents to spend their time in more enjoyable ways.
- Safe, secure environment: Assisted living communities promote safety and security. Residents’ apartments have accessible bathrooms, including step-free showers and sturdy grab bars. Emergency call systems, a fire suppression system, and handrails in hallways are standard.
- Well-balanced meals: Seniors who live in a private residence often find cooking to be too much work. Mobility challenges or driving restrictions can make trips to the grocery store difficult. In an assisted living community, well-balanced meals and snacks are included in the monthly fee. Most communities give residents a variety of menu choices.
- Wellness programs: One of the more popular amenities of assisted living is wellness programs. From stretching to chair yoga, walking groups, strength training, and gardening, fitness is a core element of resident life. Residents also benefit from an around-the-clock care team. They are available to assist with tasks ranging from medication management to toileting and personal care. At Heritage communities, residents also benefit from licensed practical nurses complete monthly wellness checks.
- Life enrichment activities: Seniors who live alone might feel disconnected, lonely, and isolated, especially those who have given up driving. It can take a toll on physical and mental health. With a move to an assisted living community, an older adult can participate in life enrichment activities every day. They can join as many or as few as they choose. Movie nights, religious services, card groups, picnics, art workshops, quilting, and book clubs are just a few of the activities offered.
- Transportation services: One more benefit offered by assisted living communities is transportation. Most have routine transportation routes, in addition to being available for physician appointments and other necessary errands. The transportation team usually schedules arrangements for residents.
Answering Common Questions about Assisted Living
We know older adults and their families have many questions about assisted living. Industry terminology can also be confusing. From costs and financing to medication management, our Frequently Asked Questions page can help you find answers.
My brother and I have recently started the search for an assisted living community in Michigan for our mother. She is reluctant to consider moving, so we are trying to narrow down the choices to those we strongly believe would be a good match.
Based on our research and phone calls, we have a list of assisted living communities that seem to meet our criteria. Our next step is to visit the communities. We can’t decide whether we should take her along. Should we wait until we’ve found what we think is the best community?
Can you offer any advice?
Elizabeth in Holly, MI
Visiting Assisted Living Communities for a Parent
This is a great question that comes up quite often among adult children. When a senior isn’t fully onboard with moving to an assisted living community, having them go along on tours of communities you haven’t seen yet can be risky. If a community is obviously not the right fit, it can put your mom off moving. While you want your mother to feel like part of the decision-making process, screening out communities that don’t seem to be a good match is probably helpful.
Another factor to consider is your mother’s health. If she has problems with mobility, for example, limiting the number of assisted living communities you tour together might be the best approach. She will still feel involved in the process and have an opportunity to see communities without being overly taxed.
Whatever you decide, there are a few questions I recommend you ask:
- How long is the tenure of the average caregiver?
- What types of activities are available? Are there activities on weekends and evenings?
- What is included in the monthly fee? What additional expenses should you expect to incur each month?
- How did the community perform on its last state survey? Ask to see a copy of the survey if it’s not available online.
- If your mother’s care needs change, can the community accommodate them, or will she be required to move again?
- Can family members visit at any time or are visiting hours restricted?
- What steps are the community’s staff taking to protect residents from COVID-19?
AARP created a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask on an assisted living tour. You can download and print it here.
If your mother continues to be resistant to moving, you could take advantage of short-term stays. Known as respite care, it’s a good way for a senior to try out a community. Respite Care as an Assisted Living Trial has more details on these services.
I hope this information is helpful! Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Visit a Heritage Senior Community This Winter
With communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, we encourage older adults and their families to make Heritage a part of their search for assisted living. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more today!
My dad was diagnosed with a chronic health condition last spring. It’s a fairly complex illness with multiple physicians involved in his care. Because his condition came on suddenly, I never had an opportunity to come up with a system for organizing his medical calendar and onslaught of paperwork.
While I’m more of a technology person, my dad isn’t. He wants a system he can use instead of an online platform or app. Maybe it’s because our stacks of paper are so high, but the task feels daunting. Do you have any suggestions for organizing his health information?
Dana in Saginaw, MI
Keeping a Senior’s Medical Information Organized
I understand your predicament! Keeping up with all the information health care providers pass along can be challenging. And the calendar can be equally difficult when a loved one has a variety of physicians on his care team. The key is to create a system that is easy to maintain and update. That will make you more likely to use it. These tips will help you get started.
Begin by sorting all your dad’s medical information by topic or category. Then place it all in a binder you take with you to appointments. Getting organized will make your role of family caregiver easier. A few suggested categories to include in your file are:
- Calendar: It’s convenient to store appointments in an app. It lets you set reminders and quickly view your dad’s schedule when you need to make physician appointments. But having a physical calendar as a back-up is important, too. It’s also easier to plan your entire week when you can quickly glance at all your dad’s appointments.
- Medical history: This broad category is a good place to include your dad’s visit notes from medical appointments, hospital discharge orders, and any health summaries a physician may have provided. It might also help to keep a chronological list of milestones in his diagnosis and treatment.
- Test results: While health care systems use electronic medical records, not all systems interact with one another. For older adults like your dad, who see multiple physicians, keeping hard copies of test results is a good idea. That makes it easier to share among his doctors during visits.
- Family medical history: When seeing a new patient for the first time, providers ask them to review their family medical history. This information helps physicians assess a patient’s predisposition for hereditary conditions. Having this information typed and saved on your computer makes it easy to update and print when you need to make changes.
- Medication list: At every medical appointment, you’ll likely be asked if your dad has started or changed any medications since his last visit. Create a list that includes medication name, dosage information, and the prescribing physician. Remember to include over-the-counter medications, too, as they can impact the effectiveness of prescriptions.
- Physician contact information: Create a list with your dad’s current and past physicians. Include contact information, such as office addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and fax numbers.
Make sure to create backup copies to store in a safe, secure location.
Finally, if you would like to utilize an app to make your role of caregiver easier, consider Healthspek. Apps like these are often a good solution for families, especially where multiple siblings are involved in care.
Good luck getting organized, Dana! I’m sure you’ll be happy you made time to do this.
Get to Know Heritage Senior Communities
Planning for the future is important when you are a caregiver for a family member. An essential part of that plan is exploring local senior care resources, including senior living communities. For seniors in Michigan and Indiana, we encourage you to make Heritage a part of your search. Call a community near you to learn more!
When an aging parent has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, adult children face unique challenges. Protecting a parent with memory loss can be tough. Initially, you might need to assist with paying bills and managing household finances. It is common for people with dementia to struggle with these tasks.
As the disease progresses, there are a variety of issues loved ones will need to monitor and take precautions for. These include kitchen fires, wandering, and medication management. If you are the caregiver for or family member of an adult who has Alzheimer’s, these tips will be useful.
How to Keep a Senior with Alzheimer’s Safe at Home
- Take advantage of GPS technology: Research shows 6 out of 10 people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will wander from home at some point. Locating them quickly is key to a safe return, and GPS tracking devices are one way to do that. A variety of products have GPS built in. You can choose a watch or pendant, or even an innersole that fits in a shoe. Many GPS devices use wireless technology, making it possible to track a senior’s location in real time or near real time.
- Conduct a kitchen safety audit: Kitchens present safety hazards at every age, but especially for those with memory impairment. Judgement is often impacted by Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to eliminate as many risks as possible. One issue to address is keeping towels, aprons, curtains, and other flammables away from the stovetop. If they are too close, they can brush against a burner and ignite. Also make sure sharp knives, chemicals, and other potentially hazardous items are stored safely out of the senior’s reach.
Encouraging a senior’s independence is linked to slower disease progression but preparing meals can be a challenge. A senior may leave the kitchen and forget about a pan cooking on the stove. A device called Cook Stop might help. This electronic unit senses when a pan has been unattended too long and turns the stove off.
- Establish medication management: Seniors with early Alzheimer’s, especially those living alone, may get medications mixed up or forget to take them altogether. Your family might find electronic pill dispensers Some even sound an alert and open the designated compartment on the dispenser at the appropriate time.
- Monitor finances: Poor judgment combined with forgetfulness can make it difficult for an adult with dementia to keep their financial affairs in order. Common behaviors include paying some bills twice while neglecting others. Scams and identity theft are other concerns.
Depending on the stage of the disease, a family member may need to monitor a loved one’s accounts online or completely manage all banking and financial matters. You can also set up credit card alerts to receive a text when the card is used remotely or spending limits are exceeded.
- Assess for fall risks: Alzheimer’s disease can cause changes in gait and vision that put a senior at increased risk for falls. By assessing their home for potential problems, you can minimize their fall risk. Stair treads, clutter, poor lighting, and throw rugs are hazards to look for. These fall prevention tips from the National Council on Aging will help you identify areas of concern.
Dementia Care Options to Consider
Despite your best efforts, there might come a time when caring for a loved one with dementia at home is no longer safe. Heritage has 8 dementia care communities throughout Michigan. We encourage you to call today to learn more about the benefits of specialized dementia care.