What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

Dear Donna,

I am trying to help my parents find a senior living community. I am not sure if I should be looking for an independent living community or an assisted living community.

Can you please explain the difference between independent living and assisted living?

Sincerely,

Vanessa from Holland, MI

 

Understanding the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

 

Dear Vanessa,

It’s common to have trouble understanding the difference between independent living and assisted living. Having so many senior living options available can be overwhelming for families. However, it’s crucial to fully understand your options if you want to ensure you help your senior parents make the right decision.

In the simplest terms, independent living is for healthy seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Assisted living is for seniors who need support to maintain their independence.

Amount of Assistance Needed

The primary difference between assisted living communities and independent living communities is the amount of care provided to their residents.

Assisted living communities usually have around-the-clock assistance available. Professional caregivers are available 24/7 to support seniors with everyday activities like preparing meals and managing medications. If your senior parents can’t spend more than a few days alone without jeopardizing their health or safety, then assisted living is likely for them.

Independent living communities, on the other hand, are more suitable for healthy seniors who don’t need much assistance. Many communities offer amenities that can significantly improve their quality of life. A few common services include meal plans, cleaning services, and maintenance.

Reasons for Moving

The reasons for moving are also different between seniors who choose assisted living versus those who select independent living.

Seniors who move to an assisted living community usually do so because they need some form of assistance to remain independent. A few common reasons seniors choose assisted living include:

  • Needing help with activities of daily living.
  • Having trouble maintaining their home.
  • Struggling to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • Having a health condition that requires supervision.
  • Wanting to give their families peace of mind that they are safe.

Seniors who choose independent living often move to have their desired lifestyle. A few common reasons seniors move to independent living communities include:

  • Being a part of a community with people who are their age and share similar interests.
  • Enjoying their retirement years without many of the responsibilities that come with home ownership.
  • Having easy access to the services and amenities offered at that particular community.

Financing Options Available

Another factor that varies between assisted living and independent living is the financing options available.

Because seniors usually choose assisted living for health and safety reasons, they are often able to find resources to lower their out-of-pocket expenses. A few common resources include long-term care insurance, employee benefits programs, VA benefits, and Medicaid.

The cost of independent living varies due to multiple factors including the type of housing, the amenities offered, and the services provided. Because it’s considered a choice to live there, it usually doesn’t qualify for any financial assistance.

I hope this helps you decide which senior living option is best for your parents.

Regards,

Donna

 

Heritage Senior Communities Helps Families Understand Their Options

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living location, provide support to help families decide which senior living option is best for their loved ones. If you are an adult children or family member who is having trouble understanding the difference between assisted living and independent living, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!

 

What Causes Wandering in Adults with Alzheimer’s?

What Causes Wandering in Adults with Alzheimer’s?

Wandering is a common behavior among people with Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander. This behavior is dangerous regardless of what stage of the disease they are in. The longer they are missing, the greater their risk for serious injury. This makes wandering a concern for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

While no one knows for sure what causes adults with Alzheimer’s to wander, there are a few common triggers. Here are some scenarios that can lead to wandering, along with a few ways Michigan caregivers can prevent it.

Why Adults with Alzheimer’s Wander

  1. Disorientation

Feeling disoriented is one of the most common reasons why people with Alzheimer’s wander. Their cognitive impairment can make them forget where they are and what they are doing. Wandering is their way of dealing with the anxiety caused by feeling displaced.

Here are a few ways you can reduce feelings of disorientation:

  • Stick to a routine to reduce the likelihood they will forget what they are doing.
  • Limit the amount of stimuli to prevent them from getting distracted.
  • Keep them in familiar settings to prevent them from feeling displaced.
  1. Boredom

Another common reason why adults with Alzheimer’s wander is because they are bored. When adults with Alzheimer’s don’t get enough stimulation, they get the urge to get up and move. Wandering is just a way of finding relief.

To prevent boredom, try:

  • Having them help you with simple household chores like folding laundry or organizing papers.
  • Finding activities to keep them busy like knitting or coloring.
  • Keeping them engaged through conversation.
  1. Lack of Physical Activity

Sometimes, people with dementia wander because they don’t get enough exercise. Wandering is their way of burning excess energy.

Here are few ways you can help your loved one burn extra energy:

  • Incorporate a walk into their daily routine.
  • Accommodate their desire to move by having them sit in a rocking chair.
  • Introduce them to a stationary bike where they can exercise in place.
  1. Trying to Fulfill Basic Needs

Adults with Alzheimer’s can also wander in efforts to fulfill their basic needs. The need to eat, drink, or use the bathroom can be triggers.

A simple way to reduce this reason for wandering is to check that their basic needs are met periodically throughout the day.

  • Occasionally ask them if they need to use the bathroom.
  • Bring them a snack if you notice they haven’t eaten in a while.
  • Make sure they always have a glass of water nearby.
  1. Unfamiliar Environments

A change in environment can also trigger wandering. Many families notice their loved ones wander after they move to a new home or visit a new location.

Here are a few tips to prevent wandering in new environments:

  • Try to plan short day trips as opposed to overnight stays.
  • When going out to eat, go to familiar restaurants.
  • Make sure someone they are comfortable with is around at all times.

Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are concerned about your ability to prevent your loved ones from wandering, you may want to consider assisted living. Many communities, including Heritage, have specialized dementia care communities that are designed to prevent residents from wandering. Contact us to learn more about how we help keep seniors with dementia safe.

How Do I Start a Conversation with My Mom about Assisted Living?

How Do I Start a Conversation with My Mom about Assisted Living?

Dear Donna,

After visiting my mother over the holidays, I noticed a few signs that she may no longer be able to live on her own.

She had dishes piled in the sink and her laundry basket was overflowing. This is very unusual for my mother because she has always been very tidy.

How do I start a conversation with my mom about assisted living?

Sincerely,

Erica from Saline, MI

 

Starting a Conversation about Assisted Living

 

Dear Erica,

Starting a conversation about assisted living is rarely easy. Many family members are hesitant to bring up the topic for fear they will upset their loved ones. This causes them to delay the conversation, sometimes until an accident or illness forces the discussion.

Talking about assisted living under these conditions can make the process far more stressful. It can result in unnecessary arguments, and can even harm your relationship.

An accident also forces you to rush the process. This can significantly limit the time you have to thoroughly evaluate your options.

To avoid the consequences of waiting, it’s best to start the conversation as soon as possible. Here are a few tips for you to start the conversation about assisted living.

 

4 Tips to Start a Conversation about Assisted Living

 

  1. Do your research.

Before attempting to start a conversation about assisted living, do your research. Becoming knowledgeable about assisted living in Michigan will enable you to have a productive discussion and be a resource for your loved one. This will encourage them to come to you with their questions.

  1. Approach the topic with empathy.

When discussing a potentially sensitive topic like assisted living, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with the intent to understand the other person.

Older adults have their own opinions about assisted living. For seniors, assisted living can mean:

  • Leaving the home they’ve lived in for a long time.
  • Admitting they need help.
  • Feeling like they’re losing their independence.

Taking the time to listen to their concerns will make them feel more comfortable discussing their feelings with you.

  1. Start talking about assisted living early.

Moving to an assisted living community is a huge, life-changing event. It’s probably going to require more than one discussion.

This is one of the biggest reasons to bring up the topic early. Your loved one may not immediately understand why you are concerned. They might not see the benefits associated with moving to a community.

Bringing your concerns to their attention early on will allow them time to soak in what you’ve told them.

  1. Put your relationship first.

It’s important to remember to put your relationship with your loved one first. If the conversation leads to arguments or becomes hostile in any way, you may need to take a step back. You may even have to accept that you aren’t the right person to have the discussion.

Some seniors take advice better from certain family members than others. Some loved ones may even require a professional like a doctor or a geriatric care manager to advise them to transition to assisted living before they start to listen.

I hope this helps you start a conversation with your mother about assisted living!

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Starting a conversation about assisted living can be challenging for many families. After all, it requires them to admit they need help and consider leaving a home they’ve likely lived in for a long time.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living Center, provide support to make the conversation about assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.

 

6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

Age-related changes can make it difficult for seniors to exercise regularly. Reduced mobility, a fear of injury, and a lack of confidence can make exercise unappealing. There is one form of exercise that is suitable for most seniors: walking.

Walking is great for most seniors because there is a low risk of injury. They can easily vary the intensity of their workout by how quickly they walk, and it’s easy to get started. Here are a few ways walking can help seniors stay healthy as they age.

 

6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

 

  1. Reduces the risk of falls

Falling is a common concern for older adults. Not only are seniors at a higher risk for falls, but they are also more likely to sustain a fatal injury from falling.

Walking has been shown to help seniors prevent falls by improving their balance and coordination. It also helps improve their physical health by improving the flexibility of their joints and strengthening their muscles and bones. This can help decrease the severity of an injury in the event of a fall.

  1. Helps seniors control their blood pressure

With age often comes a rise in blood pressure.

Walking and other forms of exercise can strengthen the heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood. Regular walking has even been shown to be as effective as some medications in regulating blood pressure.

  1. Reduces the risk of a heart attack

Many seniors struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Over time, bad cholesterol causes plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Walking can help seniors by increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously reducing the amount of bad cholesterol. As a result, their risk of having a heart attack decreases.

  1. Lowers blood sugar

Older adults are more susceptible to poor blood sugar control after they eat. Their blood sugar rises to unhealthy levels.

Walking after a meal has been shown to reduce the spike in blood sugar. This allows the body to use the blood sugar efficiently.

  1. Boosts mental health

Walking, as well as other forms of exercise, releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones reduce your perception of pain while heightening positive feelings.

This means that walking has the ability to improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, lessen anxiety, and lower stress.

  1. Helps seniors maintain their weight

As your age increases, your metabolism decreases. This makes older adults more susceptible to weight gain.

Walking, combined with healthy eating, can help seniors maintain their weight by burning more calories than they consume.

 

Start Walking

Older adults need 150 minutes of exercise per week. That number may seem overwhelming, but breaking your walking sessions up over the course of a week can make the figure more manageable.

Many adults find that walking for 30 minutes five days a week works well. Others find success breaking up their walks into three 10-minute walks per day.

Seniors can benefit from walking regardless of how they incorporate it into their schedule. The most important thing is that they find a way to stick with it.

 

Independence Plus Support at Heritage Senior Communities

The ability to maintain a home can become a real struggle as you grow older. If you or a senior loved one is having trouble, it might be time to explore local assisted living communities.

In addition to providing assistance with daily tasks, Heritage Senior Communities provide opportunities for seniors to remain active, including a daily exercise schedule. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

Dear Donna,

My uncle recently turned 86 years old. He’s in pretty good shape for his age, but I’m concerned that he is getting too old to drive.

How can I tell if it’s time for my uncle to give up driving?

Sincerely,

Melissa from Holland, MI

 

How to Tell When It’s Time to Stop Driving

 

Dear Melissa,

Knowing when it’s time to give up driving can be hard. There is no set age when a person is supposed to stop driving. Some adults drive well into their nineties without any problems while others are forced to give up their keys sooner.

While age alone doesn’t determine a person’s ability to drive, there are age-related changes that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. This includes physical changes like reduced mobility and vision loss. Cognitive changes like a slower reaction time can also affect driving.

Here are a few signs to help you determine if it’s unsafe for a senior loved one to drive.

 

Signs It May Be Time for Seniors to Give up Driving

 

  1. Their driving performance

One of the easiest ways to determine if a loved one is safe on the road is to evaluate their driving performance. Next time you go out, ask them to drive.

Here are a few signs of unsafe driving:

  • Trouble staying in their lane
  • Long pauses at stop signs and red lights
  • Driving above or below the speed limit
  • Riding the brake
  • Difficulty parking
  • Riding up the curb

If you notice any of these red flags, it may be a good idea to bring it to their attention.

  1. Their state of mind

Your loved one’s state of mind while driving can say a lot about their driving ability. Here are a few emotions that can affect their ability to drive safely:

  • Nervousness: Many older adults become nervous on the road; this can affect their driving.
  • Confusion: Being confused can indicate they are unsure of what to do during certain situations.
  • Irritation: Does your loved one get irritated easily while driving? Unnecessary road rage can be their way of coping with stress and frustration while driving.

If your loved one demonstrates any of these emotions, it may be a good idea to talk to them about how they feel about driving. They could be lacking confidence in their own driving ability.

  1. Health conditions that could affect their driving

Many health conditions can affect a person’s ability to drive. Here are a few conditions that are common among seniors:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease causes cognitive difficulties that can make driving unsafe. Seniors can forget where they are going, make poor decisions, and get lost.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis causes stiffness in the joints, which can make driving painful. This can make turning the wheel and other movements necessary to drive incredibly difficult. They can even have trouble getting in and out of the car.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma makes it difficult to see out of central vision. Cyclists, pedestrians, and even other cars can be missed.
  • Age-related macular degeneration: Another condition that affects vision is macular degeneration. This can make it difficult to see signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians.

If your loved one has any of these conditions, it may be time to talk to your loved one about hanging up their keys.

I hope this helps you determine if it’s time for your senior loved one to stop driving!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Promote Senior Safety

Heritage Senior Communities encourage senior safety in our assisted living communities throughout Michigan. Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options or to schedule a private tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.