Assisted living is often considered an ideal solution for older adults who need a helping hand to remain independent. It’s a level of senior care that blends support with amenities in an environment that allows for resident privacy. Seniors who move to an assisted living community still feel in charge of their own life.
How does assisted living support independence? Here are a few ways these communities benefit seniors striving to maintain their independence.
Assisted Living Supports Senior Independence
- Thoughtfully designed environment: Each resident has a private apartment or suite. The layout and features are designed with the unique needs of older adults in mind. In Heritage assisted living communities, seniors will find barrier-free accessibility, grab bars in bathrooms, and emergency call systems. You’ll find more senior-friendly features throughout the community, such as handrails along hallways. It’s a thoughtful approach designed to lower the risk of falling.
- Caregivers available 24/7: One challenge families face when a senior loved one tries to age in place in their private home is the unpredictably of needs. For example, family members may not be available overnight to help an older adult to and from the bathroom. It is also difficult for working adults to remind their senior parents to take their medications throughout the day and night. In an assisted living community, caregivers are on-site around the clock to support resident needs.
- Transportation services for residents: Another struggle older adults often encounter is transportation. Some may continue driving despite no longer feeling safe doing so simply because they don’t feel they have other options. Seniors may also feel like they are burdening their adult children with continued transportation requests. That’s why the transportation services provided by assisted living communities are so popular. In addition to regularly scheduled group outings to local restaurants and shopping malls, staff can arrange transportation for residents’ doctor’s appointments and other errands.
- Maintenance-free lifestyle: Another convenience that promotes independence is having household chores and maintenance tasks covered. Everything from snow removal to appliance repair is handled by the community’s staff. In most communities, housekeeping and laundry services are included in the monthly fee or available as an add-on service. No more worries for seniors about asking adult children or grandchildren for help or trying to track down a contractor.
- Wellness made easy: When a senior is struggling at home, their diet often suffers. It becomes easier to rely on convenience meals and processed foods. However, most are high in sodium and fat. That can lead to poor nutrition, which puts older adults at higher risk for illness and falls. In an assisted living community, well-balanced meals and healthy snacks are standard. Most dining services teams can also accommodate special diets, such as low-sodium or gluten-free. With Heritage Hospitality, residents have a choice of menus at every meal.
- Medication management: Finally, the caregivers at an assisted living community help residents stay on track with their medicine. It’s another area that can be difficult as health needs require older adults to take multiple over-the-counter and prescription medications. Depending upon the community and state regulations, staff can help by providing reminders or even assisting seniors in taking their medication.
Schedule a Tour of a Heritage Community Today
The best way to learn about assisted living and its benefits is to tour a community in person. If your search includes Michigan or Indiana, we invite you to consider Heritage. View our list of communities and schedule a visit to a location that interests you!
Most people have heard of Alzheimer’s, but many only know that it causes memory loss. While memory is impacted by this disease, it’s much more complex than that. It can cause a variety of challenges, including behaviors like wandering that can put a senior’s safety at risk.
Understanding how to separate fact from fiction about Alzheimer’s is important, especially for adult children caring for aging parents. Here are a few misconceptions about this disease.
#1: Alzheimer’s isn’t all that common.
False: According to Alzheimer’s Association research, just under 11% of the population age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s. By the age of 85, the percentage climbs to just over 33%.
#2: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same disease.
False: Alzheimer’s is just one of many different types of dementia. It is, however, the most common form. Estimates are that it accounts for 60 to 80% of all dementia diagnoses.
#3: Alzheimer’s is hereditary.
True and False: If you’ve watched a senior loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s, it’s understandable that you would worry about potential genetic links to the disease. Though no one knows the exact cause of Alzheimer’s, the disease isn’t considered hereditary, with the exception of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Scientists do believe genes may play a role. If your parent or sibling has Alzheimer’s disease, your risk is three times greater than someone without a family history. It’s unknown if that is due to shared lifestyle factors or something else.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s does have a strong hereditary component. Research shows family history is the only known risk factor for this type of the disease.
#4: Alzheimer’s only affects the brain.
False: As a neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s impacts the entire body. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include memory loss, impaired judgement, vision changes, loss of mobility, and a decline in verbal skills.
#5: Only older people develop Alzheimer’s.
False: While age does increase the risk, this disease can occur at younger ages. Early-onset, for example, can begin to develop when people are in their 30s and 40s.
#6: No one knows what causes the disease.
True: Unfortunately, researchers haven’t been able to determine what causes Alzheimer’s despite decades of hard work. Recently, a growing amount of evidence seems to show that lifestyle might play a role. By eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly, you may be able to lower the odds of developing Alzheimer’s. Not smoking is another way researchers think people can reduce their risk.
Memory Care Supports Quality of Life
When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, loved ones often assume their elder can no longer enjoy a good quality of life. At Heritage Senior Communities, our specialized dementia care program helps seniors with dementia live their best quality of life at every stage of the disease. By utilizing a person-centered approach to care, team members help residents with dementia work with their remaining abilities instead of focusing on those they’ve lost.
Call the community nearest you to learn more about dementia care at Heritage Senior Communities!
My mom has been living alone since my father passed away almost 5 years ago. She’s recently experienced a few falls and fractured her arm. After her last fall, Mom’s primary care doctor suggested we visit some assisted living communities. He told us we were lucky her injuries weren’t worse as falls are a leading cause of disability in seniors. He suggested we think seriously about making the transition before winter.
My mom seemed to agree with the doctor’s recommendation, but once we got back to my house she admitted it was only for his benefit. Since then, she’s said she’s not ready to move to assisted living.
Mom is staying with my family and me until her arm heals. I really think she needs to move to assisted living after that. Her house is old and not built with a senior citizen’s needs in mind.
What can I do to get my mom to visit a few assisted living communities? I don’t know how to get her past the idea that she’s not ready for this change.
Daphne in Saginaw, MI
When a Senior Says They Aren’t Ready to Move Yet
We’ve heard the phrase not ready yet many times! It can mean different things to different people. While only your mom can translate exactly what she means by it, there are some common concerns older adults have about this transition.
- “I’m afraid of making such a big change.”
The fear of change is one of the most common concerns seniors have when they start to explore moving to an assisted living community. Because it’s difficult to express that emotion, however, they might not admit it right away. Patience and heart-to-heart talks with your mom might be necessary.
Try to put yourself in her shoes as much as you can. Think about all she’s facing: giving up her home, moving to an unfamiliar place, and being surrounded by people she doesn’t know. Start by just visiting a handful of communities together to see what they are like. If you share your concerns with the staff ahead of time, they can introduce her to a few residents and help make her feel welcome.
- “Assisted living is for rich people.”
Finances are another concern seniors have when they begin to consider assisted living. It might initially seem like a big expense. However, when you break the costs of assisted living down and compare them to living at home, it’s easier to see how affordable it is.
If this fear is holding your mom back, try to sit down with her to chat. Review the different ways to pay for assisted living and all of the services and amenities that are included. Also talk about the expenses associated with living at home, especially when she needs more care and support.
- “I’m afraid I won’t fit in.”
It’s human nature to worry you won’t be accepted or feel comfortable when you move to a new place. When your mom says she’s not ready for assisted living, what she might be feeling is anxiety about whether she’ll fit in. You can address this concern in a few ways.
First, remind her that she’ll be able to maintain relationships with the family and friends she already has. She can invite them to lunch, dinner, or a special event.
You could suggest narrowing down the options to one or two communities, and then get to know each one better. Most assisted living communities invite prospective residents to join them for meals and life enrichment activities.
Encouraging a Senior to Make a Move
Finally, remember that reluctance or resistance are natural responses to change. This is a big decision, so a senior’s concerns are perfectly understandable. While it may take a while for your mother to see the benefits of a move, the two of you will likely be able to work through her concerns.
I wish you and your mom the best as you try to make an informed decision about her future.
Schedule a Visit to a Heritage Community
With locations throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, there are many options for a senior loved one to find an assisted living community that’s a good fit. Call the Heritage community of your choice to set up a personal tour today!
We are preparing to move my parents to an assisted living community. They’ve lived in their current home for decades. It’s a large house with several outdoor buildings. We are a bit daunted at the idea of making all of this happen. The downsizing alone seems overwhelming.
My siblings and I are researching different aspects of the move to create a plan. One step we’ll likely need to take is hosting an estate sale. Do you have any tips to make hosting a sale at our parents’ home easier?
Lisa in Ann Arbor, MI
Organizing an Estate Sale for a Senior
Families often put off a move because of the reasons you stated. We’ve found, however, that the most difficult aspect of downsizing is getting started. It sounds like splitting up responsibilities is a good way to go!
Estate sales are fairly common when older adults are transitioning to senior living. Here are some tips to help you plan an estate sale:
- Identify items to keep: First, decide what furniture and belongings will go with your parents and what will need to find a new home. Your parents will likely have much less space than they currently do. Keep that in mind as you work through this process.
- Time the sale well: Families often wonder which months of the year are best to host an estate sale. While spring and summer tend to be popular for garage sales, estate sales generally do well all year long. Shoppers will still come in the winter, largely because estate sales are held indoors. Weather generally doesn’t play a factor.
- Research prices online: Pricing the items for sale can be tricky. Sentimental items might be the most difficult. Other items might be worth more than you think. A good way to get started is to review estate sales and auctions in your area online. If you have any doubts, pay for an appraisal.
- Consider selling valuables elsewhere: Some high value items that appeal to a small audience might be better off sold through an auction house or specialty website. For example, rare art or vintage jewelry. By contrast, other items shouldn’t be part of an estate sale. Those might include cheap electronics, exercise equipment, and food. Visit a few estate sales in your community to get a better idea about what does and doesn’t sell.
- Shop by room: One nice thing about an estate sale is you can leave almost everything in place. It actually helps shoppers as they make their way through the house. Just make sure everything is easily accessible.
- Keep high value items in sight: An exception to leaving things in place is valuable items. Set up a table for these near your checkout table, preferably away from the door. That lets you or your helpers keep an eye on them.
- Put secure price tags on everything: Unfortunately, people may try to switch price tags around on items. Make sure every item in the sale has a price tag securely in place.
- Discourage parents’ attendance: One final suggestion is to try to keep your parents from attending the sale. It can be difficult to watch strangers pick over a lifetime of treasures. It’s best for them to avoid being there.
I hope these tips are helpful, Lisa! Please drop me another note if there’s anything else you need.
More Advice on Downsizing
Helping a senior loved one rightsize to a senior living community can be a lot of work. Read “10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One” for more advice as you begin this process!