Planning Holiday Travel With a Senior Loved One?

Planning Holiday Travel With a Senior Loved One?

Planning a trip with a senior loved one can be challenging. You want them to enjoy their experience and feel included. At same time, you want them to be safe.

While planning holiday travel, you may find yourself asking…

  • Will it be fun for the entire family?
  • Is it going to be difficult to get there?
  • It is safe?

All of these questions can be daunting, especially if you’ve never planned a trip with an older adult. Here are a few things to consider when planning holiday travel with your senior loved one.

  1. Be Considerate of Normal Age-Related Changes

When planning your trip, be mindful of the changes that occur with age. Your loved one may walk a little slower, tire faster, and require more breaks than the rest of your family.

You can be considerate by doing the following:

  • Choose a hotel where everything is nearby to reduce the amount of walking.
  • Book a non-stop flight for simplicity.
  • Avoid traveling to places where the terrain is rough.
  • Schedule lots of free time between activities to allow your loved one time to take breaks without feeling like they are missing out.
  1. Be Proactive About Accommodations

Disabilities and mobility issues are common deterrents for planning a trip with older adults, but they don’t have to be. There are plenty of accommodations you can request to make your loved one’s experience safer and more comfortable. The trick is to request them early. Here are a few you may want to consider:

  • Reserve an accessible hotel room. They fill up quick, so do this as soon as you know where you are staying.
  • If you’re flying, notify the airline about your needs in advance. Will your loved one need a wheelchair or boarding assistance? Do they need to borrow a wheelchair from the airport, or will they bring their own?
  • Inform the airline or cruise line of any dietary restrictions your loved one has. This will give them time to prepare and make sure they have food your loved one can eat.
  1. Get Travel Arrangements Cleared With the Doctor

Once you figure out the logistics, get your travel plans cleared with your loved one’s doctor. You may want to ask about the following:

  • If your loved one is okay to travel. If you are flying, let the doctor know. If you are going a cruise, tell them.
  • Discuss medications. Are you traveling to a new time zone? Ask if they should modify the times they take their medication.
  • Talk about vaccines. Are there any vaccinations they should get?
  • Get a list of all medications and dosages. This will be extremely helpful if your loved one needs to refill a prescription while on vacation.


What to Do if Your Loved One Can’t Travel


  • Consider bringing the family to them. If your loved one is not cleared to travel, consider bringing your family to them. They will appreciate you making the extra effort to include them.
  • Schedule respite care. If travel is not possible or your loved one doesn’t feel comfortable traveling, you may want to consider respite care for the duration of the trip.

Most senior living communities offer respite care, including the Heritage Senior Communities locations across Michigan. To learn more about respite care, contact the Heritage community nearest you.

Cholesterol & Aging: How it Changes and How to Manage it

Cholesterol & Aging: How it Changes and How to Manage it

High cholesterol is a common health concern among older adults. As you age, your cholesterol often rises. This puts seniors at risk for serious health complications like, heart disease, angina, and peripheral artery disease.

But why is high cholesterol an issue for older adults, and what can seniors do to protect themselves?


What is Cholesterol?


Before you can understand why cholesterol rises with age, it’s helpful to learn a little about cholesterol and its role in the body.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found throughout your bloodstream. It is crucial for many physiological processes that are necessary for survival, like forming cell membranes, making hormones, creating vitamin D, and producing bile to help digestion.

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL is the type of cholesterol you don’t want. It can build up in your arteries, causing them to narrow and possibly even become blocked. This is a serious problem because it reduces blood flow, which can result in heart attack, stroke, or a blood clot. When medical professionals use the phrase “high cholesterol,” this is the type of cholesterol they are referring to.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is sometimes referred to as the “healthy” cholesterol. HDL protects you from the complications that clogged or narrowed arteries can cause by removing LDL from the bloodstream.


Why is High Cholesterol an Issue for Older Adults?


Once you know the basics about cholesterol, you can begin to understand why it’s a concern for seniors.

  1. More Time to Accumulate

High cholesterol doesn’t occur overnight; it takes years for arteries to become narrowed and clogged. For seniors, build-up has had a longer time to accumulate.

  1. Other Conditions Increase Risk for Complications

Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are prevalent among seniors. Each of these can increase the risk for complications associated with high cholesterol.

  1. Unhealthy Diet

Seniors who don’t follow a well-balanced diet are more prone high cholesterol and its associated problems.


How Do You Manage High Cholesterol?


The earlier you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the better your cholesterol levels will be in the long run. Here are a few tips to manage your cholesterol numbers:

  1. Get your cholesterol checked regularly. If you want to manage your cholesterol, it’s important to check your numbers regularly. Adults over 20 should get their numbers measured every five years. Doing so will allow you and your doctor to address issues before they become a serious concern.


  1. Adopt a heart-healthy diet. Avoid foods that can raise your cholesterol like saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. Opt for fresh foods, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.


  1. Exercise regularly. Make it a priority to exercise every day. Try to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and strength train at least 2 days a week.


  1. Medications. If high cholesterol is a concern, it may be a good idea to consult with your doctor about taking medications to help you maintain healthy numbers.


Assisted Living Combines Independence with Support


If your senior loved one is struggling to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, it may be time to consider moving to a senior living community. Most communities offer nutrient-dense meals tailored to the specific needs of senior citizens.

How Can I Prepare My Mother for an Easier Transition to Assisted Living?

How Can I Prepare My Mother for an Easier Transition to Assisted Living?

Dear Donna,

My mother and I recently decided it would be best for her to move to an assisted living community. Her mobility has declined considerably, and we feel they will be able to help her with her everyday activities.

This is our first time going through this process. I want it to go as smoothly as possible, but I have no idea where to start.

How can I prepare my mother for an easier transition to assisted living? 

Carly in Saline, M


Making a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living


Dear Carly,

Many family members find it difficult to help their loved ones transition to an assisted living community. For most of them, it’s not something they’ve ever done, which makes it difficult to know where to begin.

Here are 5 things to do to make the transition to assisted living easier for your mother.

  1. Select a Realistic Move-In Date

The first thing you should do is help your mother select an official move-in date. Select a date that gives you plenty of time to pack, clean, and downsize as needed.

Having an official move-in date will give you a timeframe of exactly how long you have to prepare. From there, you can begin to plan when tasks need to be done to keep you on track.

  1. Get the Measurements of Your Mother’s New Space

Finding out how much space she has will help you determine how much she can keep. If possible, try to get a printed copy of the floor plan. This way, you can plan exactly where everything is going to go. On move-in day, you will be thankful you did this when you can tell the movers exactly where to put everything.

  1. Start Organizing Early

Organizing is often the most challenging and time-consuming task. For that reason, you want to start early.

The space your mother will be moving into is most likely going to be smaller than her current space. This will require her to downsize.

Don’t forget to organize important papers and documents. Here are a few documents you will want to gather:

  • Driver’s license
  • Care registration
  • Credit cards
  • Bank, retirement, and investment account information
  • Medicare and Social Security information
  1. Get Estimates From Moving Companies

After you settle on a date for the move to assisted living, start getting quotes from moving companies. Once you find a company you like, schedule your appointment immediately. Reputable moving companies often have pretty busy schedules!

  1. Schedule Dates for Utilities to be Turned Off or Transferred

A few weeks before her move-in date, help her start to tackle her home services. Call and schedule times for utility companies to disconnect her phone, cable, internet, electricity, gas, water, and any other recurring services. Have her mail, newspaper, and magazine subscriptions forwarded to her new home.


The Most Important Thing You Can Do Is Be There


The most important thing you can do to help a senior loved one transition to assisted living is to be there. Physically help them pack belongings, listen to their concerns, and talk them through their hesitations

Moving can be stressful for anyone. After all, it is a major life transition. Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to make the transition to assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.

Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions!



Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease experience increased forgetfulness and a decline in mental acuity, both of which can affect their safety.

Thankfully, there are many tech safety products available for adults with Alzheimer’s. Using the right technology can improve the safety of your loved one and give you some peace of mind knowing they are safe. Here is a list of some of the best safety products for adults with Alzheimer’s disease.


Gadgets That Help With Wandering

Wandering is one of the top concerns for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Those with Alzheimer’s may wander when they feel uncomfortable or agitated. Here are 4 safety devices you may want to consider:

  1. GPS watches: You’ve heard of GPS devices for driving, but did you know GPS devices can also improve the safety of those who wander? They do so by making it easier locate an older adult, often in real time, if he or she roams away.
  2. Door alarms: Door alarms are devices that sound when the door opens. Even though they are simple, they can be lifesaving, especially if your loved one wanders at night.
  3. Smart locks: Smart locks can track when doors open and close. You can also program them to alert you when doors are used during specific times of the day. This can be useful if your loved one tends to wander during specific times of the day.
  4. MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®: MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® is an emergency response service specifically designed for adults with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. If your loved one wanders, you can call the 24-hour emergency line to report. A community support network will be activated to help locate and reunite them to you.


Products That Assist With Falls

Falling accounts for the majority of injuries among adults aged 65 and older. Those with Alzheimer’s are at an even greater risk.

There are many ways to reduce falls, and technology can supplement traditional precautionary measures. The following products can help prevent falls or notify you if a fall occurs.

  • Motion sensor lights: Motion sensor lights are programmed to turn on when they detect movement. This can be extremely beneficial in the homes of adults with Alzheimer’s. They can be set up around the home to turn on whenever your loved one enters a room.
  • Fall detection devices: There is a large selection of fall detection devices on the market today. There are bracelets where you can push a button for help, as well as more advanced devices that detect falls based on sensation.


Tech Safety for Everyday Life

  • Automatic pill dispenser: You can’t assume that a person with memory problems always remembers to take their medication, regardless of how minor their problems may seem.

Automatic pill dispensers can make it easier for adults with Alzheimer’s to take their pills as prescribed. You can program the dispenser to distribute and alert them to take their medication at a given time. Only the programmed amount is dispensed, which helps to prevent them from accidentally double-dosing.

  • Voice control assistants: There are many ways voice control assistants can improve safety for older adults:
    • Make calls or send messages if your loved one needs emergency assistance.
    • Set reminders to turn off cooking appliances.
    • Set reminders to do everyday tasks such as feed pets and take medications.
    • Ask questions without getting up.


Tips for Introducing New Technology

Introducing new technology can be challenging for even the most tech savvy adults, but new technology can be even more complicated for adults with cognitive difficulties. Here are a few tips for you to successfully introduce new technology in to your loved one’s life.

  • Make sure the technology is easy to use. New technology should improve their quality of life, not leave them frustrated and agitated.
  • Don’t introduce too much at once. Make sure they understand how something works before attempting to introduce something else.
  • Include them in the process. Let your loved one feel included by making them a part of the decision-making process, if they are able.


Technology Does Not Replace a Person

It’s important to remember that technology does not take the place of a person. Socialization has been shown to prolong the mental acuity of adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Keep that in mind as you decide which tech products to take advantage of.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know technology can significantly improve the safety of adults in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, however, your loved one’s needs may exceed the abilities of even the most advanced tech gadgets.

Many of our communities have dedicated memory care programs for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Contact us to learn about our specialized dementia care or to schedule a tour of a community near you.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is the day our nation gathers to honor its prisoners of war and soldiers who are still missing, as well as their family members.

This observance takes place the third Friday in September, making 2018 National POW/MIA Recognition Day September 21st. In honor of this national observance, here are the answers to 4 frequently asked questions about POW/MIA Recognition Day.


  1. What does POW/MIA Recognition Day mean to the families?

Imagine if someone you love went missing and never returned. Think about how you would wonder what happened to them. Are they safe? Are they in pain? And perhaps the most difficult question of all: Are they still alive?

For the families of those who are missing, this is their reality. And the hard truth is that some may never know the answers to their questions. They will continue to suffer from something referred to as an ambiguous loss.

An ambiguous loss is a term we use to describe losses related to presence and absence. There are two main types: a physical absence with a psychological presence, and a physical presence with a psychological absence.

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may already be familiar with the latter. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s is physically there, but they are psychologically absent.

The families of those who are still missing experience the opposite. Their loved ones are missing, but they don’t have closure.

Ambiguous loss makes it difficult to move on. National POW/MIA Recognition Day reminds us that there are families who tirelessly carry the burden of their missing loved ones.


  1. What is the National League of POW/MIA?

The National League of POW/MIA helps honor our nation’s promise to leave no one behind. The league’s sole purpose is as follows:

  • Obtain the release of all prisoners
  • Reach the fullest possible accounting for the missing
  • Attain repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War

The league allows families to feel like they are not alone. There is an entire team just as determined as they are to bring their loved one home.


  1. What is the significance of the POW/MIA flag?

In 1970, the National League of POW/MIA families designed the flag to represent our missing military members. Today, the flag continues to serve as a symbol of America’s determination to account for the brave men and women who are still missing and unaccounted for.

In 1988, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act, which requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown six days a year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.


  1. How do you observe POW/MIA Recognition Day?

We have our courageous military men and women to thank for the freedoms we enjoy today. As a nation, it is our obligation to acknowledge that every veteran made a sacrifice, and those who never made it home made the ultimate sacrifice.

There are many ways you can honor veterans and observe POW/MIA Recognition Day. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Take time to reflect on those who were held prisoner, who never made it home, and whose families desperately want answers.
  • Share a heartfelt message on social media thanking veterans for their service and acknowledging those who have yet to return.
  • If you know someone who has a missing family member, send them a card. Let them know you are thinking about them and acknowledge their strength.
  • Fly the flag on POW/MIA Recognition Day.
  • Donate to the National League of POW/MIA to support its mission.


Gone But Never Forgotten

Some were taken prisoner, some are simply missing. One thing remains the same: they are all missed.