New Friends: Helping a Loved One Connect After a Move to Senior Living

New Friends: Helping a Loved One Connect After a Move to Senior Living

Dear Donna,

My dad recently moved in to an assisted living community after we decided that his house was too much for him to manage by himself. Although he’s glad to not worry about housekeeping or meals, it’s been a difficult transition.

He was pretty close with his old neighbors and is having a hard time getting to know people in his new community. What are some ways he can make new friends?

Thanks,

Steve from Saline, MI

Making Friends in a New Senior Residence

Dear Steve,

One of the major benefits of moving to a senior living community is the opportunity to get to know people and make new friends. Unfortunately, it takes a little time to settle in when an older adult is transitioning from their house to a senior community.

With a few small steps and friendly gestures, however, your dad can start to make new friends soon.

Tips for Making New Friends in Senior Living

  1. Smile and say hello.

Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference. Rather than avoiding eye contact or small talk, encourage your dad to be warm and friendly in a way others respond to. Simply saying hello with a smile in the hallway or communal areas can be enough to start a conversation.

  1. Join others for meals.

Mealtimes provide an easy way to meet new people. If he’s been eating alone in his apartment instead of the dining room, encourage him to enjoy his meals with fellow residents instead. He might ask to join others at their table and introduce himself to start a conversation.

  1. Watch the calendar.

Most senior communities have event or holiday calendars with various activities for residents to enjoy. This may include group games, a religious service, or fitness activities. Your dad might watch the calendar for activities he enjoys or something new he’d like to try. Have him start by choosing one activity every week and planning to introduce himself to at least one new person there.

If he’s reluctant to go alone, join him for a few activities. Senior living communities welcome and encourage family involvement.

  1. Stay positive.

Sometimes we avoid new people because we are afraid of what they will think of us. If we assume that other people will not like us, that’s a good way to sabotage potential friendships. You can encourage your dad to avoid this attitude by being positive and open and assuming that others will like him and enjoy getting to know him.

  1. Invite people over.

Making new friends does not have to be complicated. Another simple way your dad can get connected is to invite neighbors into his home. This may include coffee, a snack, playing a game, or watching a movie or TV.

  1. Be patient.

Adjusting to a new community can be hard work, so be patient with your dad. Encourage him to be patient with himself and with his neighbors. Change is difficult for most of us, so give your Dad time to adjust and settle in.

Best wishes,

Donna

Building Community for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to residents in a comfortable, home-like setting that encourages community. Contact us for more information.

10 Hydrating Foods to Beat the Summer Heat

10 Hydrating Foods to Beat the Summer Heat

Did you know that you don’t have to just drink water to stay hydrated? Although drinking water is important, it’s not your only option. During the summer, plenty of different foods can help you beat the heat.

10 Foods That Help Keep You Hydrated

  1. Watermelon

For a hydrating summer treat, there’s nothing better than watermelon, which is more than 90% water. It’s also low in fat and calories and contains a decent amount of vitamin C. Keep a bowl in your fridge or take some to the park or the beach to stay hydrated.

  1. Cucumber

At 96% water, cucumber is one of the most hydrating vegetables available. Cheap and plentiful in summer, it’s great to consume with dips or in salads to increase your water intake.

  1. Celery

The next time you crave something crunchy, consider celery sticks over potato chips. Not only is it lower in fat and calories, but celery will also help keep you hydrated better than saltier snacks. It’s also full of nutrients like vitamin K, potassium, and dietary fiber.

  1. Lettuce

Whether used in salads or added to sandwiches, adding more lettuce to your diet can be refreshing and hydrating. The more color, the better: choose lettuce with dark green leaves to get more nutrients.

  1. Peaches

A ripe, juicy peach in the summer can satisfy your sweet tooth and your thirst. Besides being full of water and low in fat, peaches are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Choose fresh peaches over the sugary, canned option.

  1. Zucchini

Vegetable gardens overflow with zucchini in the summertime, making it a good option for getting more water in to your diet. Since cooking can remove a lot of the vegetable’s water content, consider consuming it raw, such as spiralized into noodle shapes.

  1. Yogurt

Not only does yogurt contain a significant amount of water, but it is packed with protein, vitamin D, calcium, and gut-healthy cultures. Rather than buying yogurt cups packed with sugar and other additives, consider buying plain, low-fat yogurt and adding your own choice of fruit and other flavorings.

  1. Tomatoes

Did you know that one medium tomato provides about a half cup of water? Tomatoes also contain fiber, antioxidants, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Add them to soups, salads, or salsas.

  1. Soup

While it may not be the first choice for a hot summer day, soup is another easy way to get more water. Opt for broth- and vegetable-based soups rather than rich, cream-based varieties. A cup of soup with a salad or small sandwich makes for an easy, light lunch.

  1. Cottage cheese

If you need a low-fat protein choice that also increases your fluid intake, cottage cheese is another good option. Choose a low-fat variety and mix in some fruit for added nutrients and flavors.

Health and Nutrition for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities provides healthy, balanced meal options to help improve and maintain quality of life for residents. Contact us today to learn more about our living options or to schedule a tour of one of our residences.

What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

Dear Donna,

Our mom still lives in her own home and usually does just fine on her own. However, her bathroom has not been updated in years, and we’re worried about her slipping and falling in the shower. She also has arthritis that has made it more difficult to bathe.

Are there other safety issues we should look for in her bathroom? How can we reduce her safety risks and make her more comfortable?

Sincerely,

Janice Bauer, Holland, MI

Keeping Bathrooms Safe for Seniors

Dear Janice,

It’s understandable that you are concerned about your mom’s safety in the bathroom. Hospital emergency departments treat 2.8 million older adults every year for fall injuries. Many of these falls happen in the bathroom and are due to hazards like slippery floors.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce your mom’s risk of falling in the bathroom, as well as other possible safety issues. Do a thorough safety check of her bathroom and determine which precautions are necessary.

Here are some things to look for when you’re checking your mom’s bathroom, including how you can make it safer for her.

Senior Bathroom Safety Issues to Look For

Floors:

  • Tubs or showers should have non-slip surfaces; add floor mats or non-skid appliques to avoid sliding on the tub floor.
  • Bathroom floors should have a textured surface or have non-skid carpet or rugs.
  • A bath bench can reduce the need to stand in the shower and can help with getting in and out of the tub.

Lighting:

  • Does the bathroom have sufficient, even lighting?
  • Light switches should be easily accessible near the door.
  • Make sure burned-out light bulbs are changed.

Doors:

  • Bathroom doors should open outward.
  • Doorways should be wide enough to accommodate any mobility devices, such as walkers.
  • Shower doors should be made of safety glass or plastic.

Fixtures:

  • Consider installing lever handles on sinks and showers, which can help seniors with arthritis and stiff joints.
  • If the shower head is difficult to reach, install a shower head attachment.
  • Consider a walk-in bathtub to make bathing easier.
  • If the toilet is too low, a higher toilet or a seat extender can make use easier.
  • Install grab bars near the shower and toilet; a tension pole is another option.
  • Towel racks and other shelving are not substitutes for grab bars, but they should still be installed sturdily.
  • Consider installing a telephone in the bathroom, reachable from the floor, if your mom falls and must call for help.

Miscellaneous:

  • Toiletries and towels should be easy to reach and should not require seniors to stretch and reach too far; keep items convenient with additional shelves or water-resistant baskets.
  • Do the outlets prevent electric shock?
  • Is there sufficient heat and ventilation?
  • Set hot water heater to 120 degrees F to avoid scalding.
  • Insulate any exposed water pipes or wiring.

I hope these tips help you create a safer bathroom for your mother!

Kind regards,

Donna

Offering Safe Senior Care

Family-owned Heritage Senior Communities focuses on providing quality senior housing and licensed assisted living. Contact us today to ask questions or schedule a tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

Dear Donna,

My older parents are considering moving to a senior living community, and I am confused about the different options for paying. I thought our only option was to pay for it ourselves, but a friend just told me that her parents used other methods as well.

Can you tell me more about what kinds of funding senior living communities accept?

Sincerely,

Mary from Holland, MI

Financing a Move to a Senior Living Community

Mary,

Thanks for asking this question. How to pay for senior living is an important topic, and we appreciate the opportunity to address it. Considering the national average cost for assisted living is just below $4,000 a month, it’s good to know all the options you and your family have on your side.

To begin, assess the level of care your parents will want and need. Consider if your parents are searching for independent or assisted living, or if they would need to move into a memory care community. Based on their needs, you’ll find different ways to fund this next chapter in their lives.

Assisted Living

If either of your senior loved ones was in the military, he or she (and spouse) may be entitled to VA benefits to help pay for assisted living. Medicaid is also an option, though this varies by state. Some long-term care insurances can help, too.

Long-term care insurance is similar to health insurance and must be purchased through a private insurance company. If one company denies an applicant or the benefits aren’t what you were hoping for, keep applying to other companies! You may find just the right one for your family’s situation.

Memory Care

Memory care communities are specially designed for those seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The care offered at these communities can be funded using a family’s private funds, veterans’ benefits, long-term care insurance, or, depending on the state, Medicaid.

Independent Living

Independent living communities may participate in state or federal programs that subsidize housing, meaning they are able to offer fees at a sliding scale based on the senior’s income. There are organizations that can point you to a list of subsidized senior housing options in your area and their entrance fees.

In general, however, independent living is financed using the senior’s private resources often with help from family.

Financing Senior Living

There may be other options available to help you and your family finance a move to a senior living community. We encourage you to call us with questions and to schedule a tour of the Heritage Senior Community in your hometown.

I hope this information helps, Mary!

Kind regards,

Donna

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

Older adults may already know that hot summer temperatures can create health risks like sunburn and heatstroke. But can the humidity also be dangerous?

Research shows that high humidity, especially when combined with high temperatures, may create cardiovascular risks. Specifically, humidity may have an effect on adults with high blood pressure. Here’s what you should know and how seniors can protect themselves.

 

How Humidity Can Affect Adult with High Blood Pressure

 

The greatest risks are when the temperature is above 70 degrees F and the humidity is more than 70 percent. Higher humidity means that there is more moisture in the air, which can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and cool off.

Blood pressure specifically may be affected in summer weather because of the body’s attempts to radiate heat. High temperatures coupled with high humidity cause more blood flow to the skin, which may require the heart to beat faster and harder. In fact, the body may circulate twice as much blood per minute compared to a cool day.

Heat and sweating can also lower the amount of fluid in the body, which can reduce blood volume and lead to dehydration. This may create strain on the heart.

 

Risk Factors Vulnerable to Humidity

 

Although anyone can be impacted by heat and humidity without protection, some people are at higher risk. Individuals over the age of 50, those who are overweight, or those who have heart, lung, or kidney conditions may be more affected by humidity.

Other risk factors may include poor circulation, low-sodium diets, alcohol use, and taking certain medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or blood-pressure medication.

 

Warning Signs of Stress From Heat and Humidity

 

The following symptoms, whether they apply to yourself or a loved one, require immediate action against heat stress:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Rapid pulse

 

If you think you may be experiencing heat stress, move to a cooler, air-conditioned, or shaded area and drink plenty of fluids. You may also want to take a cool shower or bath and lie down.

If the symptoms don’t improve, seek medical help immediately.

 

Take Precautions Against Humidity

 

Many of the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to humidity are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are also many options to help protect them.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (even when you don’t feel thirsty).
  • Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks on very hot and humid days.
  • If you spend a lot of time outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics.
  • Wear properly fitted, well-ventilated shoes and socks that repel sweat.
  • Avoid spending too much time outside when the sun and heat are strongest, usually 12pm to 3pm.

 

Safe, Appropriate Care in All Seasons

 

Heritage Senior Communities has 15 locations throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, providing a variety of options for your loved one’s specific, unique situation. Schedule a tour by contacting us today!