From Home Care to Assisted Living: Understanding Senior Care Options

From Home Care to Assisted Living: Understanding Senior Care Options

Dear Donna,

I have been caring for my father, who has Parkinson’s disease, for three years. Until recently, I’ve been able to assist him with his needs. As his condition progresses, I am finding it more challenging to take care of him and keep up with my responsibilities. I know he needs additional assistance, but I am not sure if I should explore local home care providers or assisted living communities.

Which senior care option would be best for my dad?

Sincerely,

Mia from Holland, MI

Understanding Senior Care Options

Dear Mia,

Caring for an aging parent with a progressive health condition is never easy. Not only do you watch their health decline, but your caregiving responsibilities continuously increase. It can be challenging to make time for yourself. Fortunately, there are many senior care options, including home care and assisted living.

Home Care versus Assisted Living

Starting with Home Care

Home care is popular among those who want to keep their loved ones at home. With home care, seniors have the advantage of staying in a familiar environment while a professional caregiver comes to them. The caregiver helps with nonmedical activities they need to perform to live on their own. If your loved one’s home is safe to live in and they require only a few hours of assistance with activities of daily living, home care can be an excellent choice.

Keep in mind, however, that home care is usually a short-term solution. As your loved one’s disease progresses, an assisted living community will most likely be a better option.

Transitioning to Assisted Living

Assisted living communities also support seniors with the activities they need to remain independent. Seniors move to an apartment or studio where they have access to around-the-clock care. In addition to more assistance, seniors may also enjoy the following perks:

  • On-site social events
  • A safer, more accessible environment
  • Experienced staff members who can offer advice

Assisted living can be a particularly attractive option for seniors with progressive illnesses, such as Parkinson’s. As their symptoms increase, they can adjust the amount of assistance they receive accordingly.

Deciding between Home Care and Assisted Living

Exploring senior care options is different for everyone. By exploring your options and understanding your loved one’s needs, you are more likely to find a solution that works for everyone.

I hope this helps you come up with an effective senior care plan for your dad.

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, we are dedicated to helping seniors extend their independence. By assisting only when necessary, we help our residents stay in control of their lives and maintain their dignity. Contact us today to learn more about how we enable seniors to live their best lives.

How to Stay Healthy as Flu Season Approaches

How to Stay Healthy as Flu Season Approaches

Dear Donna,

I had the flu last year, and it took me weeks to recover. With flu season approaching, I want to do everything I can to stay healthy. How does the flu shot work, and what are some other ways I can protect myself?

As an older adult, I know I’m at higher risk for contracting the virus.

Sincerely,

Leslie

Staying Healthy during Flu Season

Dear Leslie,

By now, most seniors know a flu shot is the most effective way to avoid the flu. A flu shot works by introducing your body to just enough of the virus to trigger an immune response. 

There are two flu shots specially designed for seniors. They differ from other versions because they provoke a stronger immune response. While a flu shot is the best way for seniors to protect themselves from the flu, it isn’t the only method. There are other best practices you can use to stay healthy.

How Seniors Can Avoid Catching the Flu

1. Wash your hands frequently.

If you handle something with the virus and then touch your nose or mouth, you can catch the flu. Because the flu is very contagious, you also risk spreading it to others. Frequently washing your hands with soap and running water is an effective way to reduce both your risk of catching the flu and circulating germs to others.

2. Eat healthy.

Eating a healthy diet is another effective way to avoid the flu. By consuming foods rich in vitamins and micronutrients, you can strengthen your immune system. This helps your body fight off the flu or, at the very least, recover faster. Here are a few foods to include in your diet:

  • Salmon: Salmon is rich in vitamin D, which is particularly effective at preventing many respiratory infections, including the flu.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries contain flavonoids, which support a healthy immune response by working with gut microbes.
  • Lemons: Lemons are high in vitamin C, which strengthens the body’s resistance to viruses.

3. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is crucial for a strong immune system. Not sleeping enough has been shown to weaken the immune system. Chronic sleep deprivation can even make a person more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Seniors can reduce their risk of contracting the flu by improving their sleep. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

4. Reduce stress.

Stress can weaken the immune system in many ways, particularly when it comes to chronic stress. It can inhibit your digestive system, raise your blood pressure, and increase your cholesterol levels. Prioritize keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The following activities can help:

  • Meditation
  • Regular exercise
  • Taking time to relax

Stay Healthy This Season

Being sick is never fun, but the flu can have lasting effects on a senior’s health. The best way to stay healthy is to avoid contracting the flu in the first place. By receiving a flu shot, steering clear from germs, and taking care of your overall health, you have the best chance at preventing the flu.

I hope this helps you stay healthy this flu season!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Supports Senior Health

At Heritage Senior Communities, we understand how important it is for seniors to stay healthy. That’s why we make flu shots available to our residents. To learn more about how we help our residents stay healthy, contact us today to schedule a private tour.

How to Help a Senior Loved One Transition to Assisted Living

How to Help a Senior Loved One Transition to Assisted Living

One of the best ways to help a loved one transition to assisted living may be by reflecting back on your own memories. What was it like to be ill or immobilized by an injury? What was it like to leave your kids when you dropped them off at kindergarten on the first day? How did you feel moving away from friends or family?

Your answers may help increase empathy for the transition that your Mom or Dad is about to make. Keeping your experiences in mind and following these suggestions can make the transition go a little more smoothly.

Supporting a Senior’s Transition to Assisted Living

Tour the senior living community

Visiting the new community may sound obvious, but it is vital to have sufficient opportunities to see what the community is really like, experience how the caregivers interact with residents and develop familiarity with the place. During the visits, encourage Mom or Dad to ask questions, voice concerns to you, and make some connections with staff and residents.

Once you’ve decided on a community, visit it a few more times with your senior loved one. Participate in activities and events. Stay for lunch or dinner. It can help make the new community feel more like home.

Consider emotions

No matter how much we like the new place, moving may create a feeling of loss. Adjustment takes time, and most people feel sad, angry or depressed at various stages after they’ve made a big move. That happens to eight-year-olds as well as eighty-year-olds.

Love and listening, support and faith, humor and reminiscing can go a long way to providing comfort at those times. Exercising kindness and compassion may help to reduce the fear.

Consider reasoning and logic

Remember why the decision to move was made. Write it down and post it for yourself and your loved one. Refer to it when you need to remind yourself why you are doing this.

It might feel like the wrong decision when the emotions of moving day take over, but “this too shall pass.” Try to focus your mind on how senior living communities improve the quality of life for older adults.

Create a tiny escape clause

If possible, provide a minor “out”, so the older person doesn’t feel trapped. For example, “Mom, if this doesn’t work, maybe we can make some adjustments. But let’s really give this an A+ honest effort. This is our best choice.”

If possible, help the senior make the move before putting their house up for sale. It can take some of the stress and fear out of the equation if you do.

Get the family involved

Contact family and friends who may be willing visit your loved one at the new community. Consider setting up a schedule for the first few weeks. This helps ensure a steady stream of friendly faces during the toughest days of the transition.

Establish some routines

Activities that build familiarity can be helpful to reduce transition stress. Suggest to your loved one that they start a routine, such as eating in the dining area or taking a walk at the same time each day. That will make it easier for staff and residents to see them and develop relationships.

Make it personal

Who am I now? Who was I? Who do I want to be?

Finding those answers are important to our identity and self-confidence at any stage of life. So as much as possible, help your parent identify their unique qualities and potential contributions, even though they may have limitations now.

Also, provide your Mom or Dad with items that remind them of different stages of their life. Familiar personal possessions and furnishings may be more comforting than buying all new furniture for the move.

Advocate for your loved one

Sometimes it’s little rules or small problems that can seem like a very big deal to a senior who recently relocated. Although the staff may be busy, most people want new residents to feel comfortable and at home in their new surroundings. Don’t be concerned about speaking up and acting as your loved one’s advocate. Resolving those issues can help to make an aging loved one feel safe and secure.

Trust your intuition

Intuition is that gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Listen to it. Ask questions of yourself and respond in writing to generate deeper answers. Talk about it with others. The problem could be an old fear rearing its head or it could be a something that requires immediate action. Most of our parents tried to heed those feelings when they raised us. Now it’s our turn.

Visit Heritage Senior Communities to Learn More

At Heritage Senior Communities, we welcome you and your loved one to visit us. Our team will help provide support to make the transition comfortable for your mom or dad. Call us and schedule a time!

 

Dear Donna – Can I Do Anything to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Dear Donna – Can I Do Anything to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

My mom has Alzheimer’s and watching her slowly slip away is so awful.

It also makes me worry that I will develop this awful disease. I’ve read some researchers think there may be genetic links to some forms of the disease.

While I know there is nothing I can do about my family history, I wonder if there are any steps I can take that may help me prevent Alzheimer’s? 

I would appreciate any insight!

Sincerely,

Stacey in Grand Blanc, Michigan

 

Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Prevented?

Dear Stacey:

Alzheimer’s is definitely a devastating disease a senior and those who love them. It is understandable that you would be concerned about developing the disease yourself.

Researchers are still struggling to learn more about Alzheimer’s. Although there is no proven method of preventing the disease, there are steps you can do that may help reduce your risk

Eat a Well-Balanced Diet

Research has shown that seniors following the MIND diet have lowered their risk for reduced brain functioning by 35 percent. Even people who were so-so about maintaining the diet were 18 percent less likely to have reduced brain function.

The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet with a few tweaks. The diet is pretty simple: eat lots of green vegetables and fruit, particularly berries. Include whole grains, nuts, poultry, and fish.

Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna are especially good for preventing Alzheimer’s because they contain omega-3 fats.

Dairy products, in moderation, are OK if they are low in fat. Olive oil is on the diet, but red meat, sugar and salt should be limited. Also, limit alcohol intake.

Smoking cigarettes is not recommended on this diet.

Anyone who puts effort into following the MIND diet will likely see a payoff. It can include a better functioning heart, healthy blood vessels, and optimal blood pressure—all of which are factors that decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Exercise For Your Life

For years, studies have shown that exercise can benefit the brain and delay the start of Alzheimer’s. People who are less active have a higher risk of developing this disease.

Exercise helps to keep the blood flowing and increases the chemicals that protect the brain. The key is to exercise several times a week for 30 minutes or an hour. In a relatively short time you will feel the benefits of exercise: sharper thinking, improved memory, and better decision making.

Reduce Stress Daily For Your Memory And Mood

In a study looking at how stress impacted the brains of mice, researchers found that stressed mice had high amounts of a protein called beta-amyloids in their brains. These proteins cause memory problems.

Other research has linked these beta-amyloids to Alzheimer’s. Avoiding stress may be one way to keep your brain healthy.

But, let’s face it, stress in life is unavoidable. So it’s especially important when you are a caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s  that you find ways to de-stress.

  • Take advantage of community support through online resources or phone help lines.
  • Use relaxation techniques: breathing exercises, visualization and muscle relaxation.
  • Take time to express yourself. Self-expression through music, art, writing, private dance or movement can all help.
  • Find ways to leave your problems behind for a little while. That might be by taking a walk, going to a movie or watching funny videos of babies or pets. There are days when just a long shower or an early bedtime can be a big help.
  • Use positive affirmations and self-encouragement to reduce stress.
  • If you have faith, use it to find peace and comfort while you are caring for your loved one and taking steps to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

When The Stress Gets Too Much

Finally, it might help you to consider using respite care at the Heritage Senior Communities. Short-term breaks can do a lot to restore balance, energy, joy and hope.

My very best wishes to you and your family, Stacey.

Donna

 

Alzheimer’s Action Day: How to Become an Advocate in Your Local Community

Alzheimer’s Action Day: How to Become an Advocate in Your Local Community

Alzheimer’s Action Day on September 21st provides a chance for early stage patients, caregivers, and others to share stories that help to increase awareness and end the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.  It can also be a turning point for people who choose to become a community advocate.

Advocating for Adults with Alzheimer’s

Why should I advocate for the disease that I dislike and prefer not to think about?

A number of benefits can result from advocating for Alzheimer’s disease—whether you’re an early stage patient, a family member or friend.

  • Establishing connections with other people, resources, and support systems
  • Reducing the loneliness factor that is so common with the disease
  • Providing opportunities to share your insights, experience and hope
  • Enabling you to contribute to medical research

How can I fit community advocacy into my schedule?

  • Start simple and set small goals. Caring for a loved one can take a huge amount of time and emotional energy, so set small goals. Even one hour a week might help you feel as if you are contributing.
  • Reframe your viewpoint. Change your it’s-a-drain attitude to it’s-a-gain Your support and advocacy may actually recharge your batteries because you will be having meaningful conversations with other adults who have similar concerns and problems.

How can I start advocating in my community?

There are several steps you can take to become an advocate.

  • Begin by talking about Alzheimer’s with coworkers, friends, church members, and others. That may provide a sense of satisfaction and social purpose.
  • Read the facts and statistics about the disease. This will help you speak comfortably and knowledgably about the issues.
  • Get involved with the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. You’ll meet people, find camaraderie, be inspired, and have an opportunity to participate in activities that increase empathy, self-esteem and self-care. All of this may help to heal some of the emotional wounds caused by Alzheimer’s.
  • Use social media to connect with people from the comfort of your home.
  • Brainstorm ways to increase attention about Alzheimer’s and other memory problems. Consider arranging a presentation at the local library or organizing regular meetings at a coffee shop.
  • Connect with local politicians and learn about their position on medical research funding for Alzheimer’s. Encourage them to back bills and laws that increase financial support for the disease.
  • Invite health care providers who specialize in Alzheimer’s to speak at local events and chamber meetings. Broaden the topic of the meeting to include other memory disorders and provide tip sheets, brain-healthy menus, and resource lists.
  • Create newsworthy articles for your local media. Include your personal story along with seasonal topics, such as holiday planning or Alzheimer’s-friendly activities.
  • Engage the help of business faculty members at a local college or SCORE counselors to solidify or strengthen your community action plans.
  • Identify assets and financial resources for your advocacy work.

At Heritage Senior Communities, our staff members receive specialty training to help them provide the best possible care for residents with Alzheimer’s. Each team member in our memory care is an expert and an advocate.

Ask about having one of our dementia care experts speak at your local advocacy meeting or for resources that you can share with the other families.