4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

4 Tips for Helping a Senior Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Donna,

My mom’s doctor announced he is retiring soon. He has been her primary care doctor for over 30 years, so she is nervous about finding a new one. I want to help, but I am unsure where to start. How do you help an older loved one find a primary care doctor?

Sincerely,

Jen from Norton Shores, MI

Helping Senior Loved Ones Find a Primary Care Doctor

Dear Jen,

Choosing a new doctor can be difficult for anyone. In addition to verifying their credentials and experience, you need to find out if they are taking new patients. You also want your loved one to feel comfortable talking with their doctor about their health. Consider factors like bedside manner and communication skills. Here are a few tips for helping your loved one find a new primary care doctor.

4 Tips for Finding a New Doctor

  1. Ask friends and neighbors

Many people find success in a doctor recommended by someone they know. Have your senior loved one ask their friends for a referral. Also, encourage them to explain what they like about their doctor because their needs can be different. For example, someone might recommend a quick and efficient doctor, while your loved one might prefer more time and attention. If you don’t have luck with friends and family, you might want to check with your local senior center. They are often great resources for local referrals.

  1. Read online reviews

In addition to recommendations from friends and family, you can look online for guidance. There are many sites where patients can review their experience with a doctor. Even a quick Google search can give you the average rating of a specific doctor. Some websites, such as Zocdoc, will provide you with additional information, like wait time and bedside manner.

  1. Check their health plan list

Before making an appointment with a new doctor, make sure they accept your loved one’s insurance. You can find out by calling the doctor’s office or the insurance company. Their health plan list is also an excellent place to start if you don’t have referrals. You can look at the list of doctors provided by the insurance plan and then research their reputation online. If your loved one has Medicare, you can reach out to them or visit their website to access a list of local doctors who are accepting new patients.

  1. Consider convenience

When looking for a new doctor, consider accessibility. The doctor’s office should be easy for your loved one to get to, and the hours should work with their schedule. Also, find out how easy it is to schedule an appointment. Is the doctor booked far in advance? What is the average wait time? Consider all these factors before you decide.

Explore Your Options

Helping a senior loved one find a new primary care doctor can be difficult, especially if they have had the same one for a long time. But their doctor plays an important role in keeping them healthy. Meet with a few doctors until you find one you are confident can meet your loved one’s needs.

I hope this helps you find a doctor for your mom!

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities is designed with senior wellness in mind. From independent living to assisted living and memory care, Heritage Senior Communities has a senior living solution to meet your or your loved one’s needs. Contact the community nearest you to schedule a private tour.

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Caregivers are busy and often on the go. Having a lot on your plate can make it difficult to prepare healthy meals. Many caregivers opt for quick foods that are ready to eat. Unfortunately, many of these lack nutrition and are heavily processed.

A poor diet not only negatively affects your physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also affect your ability to care for your senior loved one. A healthy diet, on the other hand, can leave you energized and ready to tackle any challenge. Here are a few tips for busy caregivers to eat healthy on the go.

3 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go

  1. Look for chain restaurants with healthy menu options.

Fast food has a bad reputation, but many popular chains have accommodated the demand for healthier options. If you need something quick while on the go, don’t be afraid to check out their options.

El Pollo Loco, for example, features an “Under 500 Calories” section on their menu. You can enjoy fresh foods like the Chicken Black Bean Bowl or a Double Chicken Avocado Salad. Even McDonald’s has healthier options. You can choose sliced apples instead of fries or the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich instead of fried chicken.

  1. Research home delivery meal services.

Home delivery meal services, like Freshly, deliver fully cooked meals straight to your door. This service can help caregivers who don’t have time to cook fresh, healthy meals for themselves. When the meals arrive, store them in your refrigerator. When you are ready to eat, simply pop them in the microwave.

A great thing about these services is many allow you to select a meal plan based on your diet and nutrition goals. They might offer vegan, keto, or low-carb options. Some companies even allow you to customize your meals. For example, you might be able to make a menu item low-sodium or sugar-free.

  1. Take advantage of restaurant delivery services.

Restaurant delivery services are another great option for busy caregivers. These let you order food from local restaurants and have it delivered to your home or office. Food delivery services let you access more options and allow you to receive food within minutes. This feature can be particularly beneficial for caregivers who need something to eat last minute.

Uber Eats and DoorDash are two popular restaurant delivery services. They allow you to order and pay for food directly from a phone app. Once you place your order, you can track the status of your delivery until it arrives at your location.

Healthy Eating Is Important

There are so many benefits to eating a healthy diet. In addition to improving physical health, making good food choices can help caregivers avoid weight loss or weight gain, increase energy, and manage many chronic medical conditions. Being healthy helps caregivers provide their loved ones with the care they deserve.

Heritage Senior Communities Encourages Healthy Eating

If your caregiving role is affecting your diet, you may want to explore local senior living options. Many assisted living communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, offer comfortable and safe living arrangements for seniors while allowing them to maintain their independence. The best way to learn more about how our communities help seniors thrive is by scheduling a private tour. Contact us today to get started.

How to Avoid Caregiver Overload over the Holidays

How to Avoid Caregiver Overload over the Holidays

The holidays are often the busiest time of year. The weeks are packed with parties, family functions, and other festive activities. Despite having a fuller schedule, many people look forward to the season. They are excited to catch up with friends, spend time with family, and make memories. Caregivers for senior loved ones might view the holidays a little differently.

Family caregivers usually have a lot on their plate. They often need to balance their personal responsibilities and their loved one’s needs. Many also have careers, children, and relationships to manage.

When caregivers take on too many additional responsibilities, especially during the holidays, they increase the risk for burnout. Here are a few tips to avoid caregiver overload over the holidays.

3 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Overload

  1. Set realistic expectations.

Taking care of a loved one requires a lot of time and energy. It’s important to remember this when making plans. Being realistic about your time can help you avoid making commitments you can’t keep or find overwhelming. You may even need to change a few traditions to accommodate your loved one’s needs. For example, if you always host the holiday dinner, you might have to opt out this year to reserve your energy.

  1. Make yourself a priority.

Saying no doesn’t always come easy to caregivers. They are used to taking care of other’s needs and are often first to lend a hand. It’s not uncommon for them to put their personal needs on the backburner. However, not taking care of yourself puts your health at risk and can affect your ability to care for your senior loved one. Make sure to exercise daily, eat healthy, and get a good night’s rest.

  1. Take advantage of respite care.

Another way to avoid caregiver overload during the holidays is using respite care services. Respite care gives caregivers temporary relief by taking over their caregiving responsibilities. This service allows caregivers to rest and recharge, finish up holiday shopping, or take a vacation without worrying about their loved ones. Respite care can be provided at a senior living community, like Heritage Senior Communities, or in your loved one’s home.

Caring for a Senior Loved One during the Holidays

Caring for a senior loved one can be stressful at times, and the added pressures of the holiday season can make it overwhelming. Caregivers deserve to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time with their loved ones like everyone else. By setting realistic expectations, making your health a priority, and taking advantage of local respite care services, you can avoid caregiver overload.

Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are struggling with caregiver overload beyond the holiday season, you may want to explore senior living communities. There are a variety of options available to suit your loved one’s needs. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, offers Assisted Living, Independent Senior Living, Specialized Dementia Care, and Respite Care.

If you are interested in learning more about respite care or would like to take a private tour, please contact the Heritage Senior Community nearest you!

Setting Realistic Expectations for a Senior’s Move to Assisted Living

Setting Realistic Expectations for a Senior’s Move to Assisted Living

Dear Donna,

My mom is selling her home to move to an assisted living community. She is ready to move but also sad to leave a place with so many happy memories. 

How can I help her set realistic expectations about the move to assisted living?

Sincerely,

Clara from Saline, MI

Setting Realistic Expectations for a Senior Living Move

Dear Clara,

Moving to an assisted living community is an exciting transition for many seniors. Regardless of how much your parents are looking forward to their new home, the change can still be challenging. It’s not easy to leave the place where they raised their family. 

Here are a few ways you can set realistic expectations for the entire family when a loved one is moving to an assisted living community.

Transitioning to Assisted Living

  1. Be patient with yourself and your parent.

Although your loved one may be looking forward to the move, it’s important to understand it can take time to adjust. Assisted living is a new lifestyle for them. Understand emotions may arise during the move, and be patient with them as they settle into their new home.

  1. Incorporate favorite belongings in the new space.

Even though many senior living communities are designed to feel homey, it can be helpful for your loved one to bring some items from their family home. Having a few cherished belongings around gives a sense of familiarity and creates positive associations with their new space. 

Depending on the size of their living area, they can bring anything from their favorite reading chair to a few decorative elements.

  1. Plan for ups and downs.

Ups and downs are inevitable, regardless of how well you prepare. Some days will be smooth, while others will be more challenging. Reminding your loved one of this when things aren’t going as planned can alleviate some of the pressure for perfection.

  1. Ask friends and family to visit.

For many people, their new place doesn’t feel like home until friends and family come over. Encourage the important people in your loved one’s life to visit or help with the move. Some seniors may want to show off their new place by hosting an open house. Regardless of when people visit, your senior loved one will appreciate having a familiar face around when they transition.

Moving Requires Change

Moving to a senior living community is a new chapter in your loved one’s life. Although they are saying goodbye to a home full of memories, they are saying hello to an exciting new lifestyle. By supporting them during this important move, you can help them ease into their new routine.

I hope this helps your mom transition to senior living. Good luck!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Makes Moving to Assisted Living Easier

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, helps new residents prepare for their move to assisted living. By guiding seniors and their families through every step of the process, we can make the transition easier for everyone. 

To learn more about how we help seniors transition to assisted living, contact us today.

3 Tips for Managing Caregiver Guilt

3 Tips for Managing Caregiver Guilt

Caring for an aging loved one can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be demanding. Stress from taking care of another person can trigger a lot of difficult emotions, including guilt.

Guilt occurs when you feel like you have done something wrong or failed an obligation. It can rob you of your joy and harm your overall happiness. Although feeling guilty is often unavoidable, there are a few ways you can cope and prevent it from affecting your quality of life.

Here are a few tips for managing caregiver guilt.

Managing Caregiver Guilt

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and where they come from

The first step in managing caregiver guilt is to acknowledge your feelings. It’s a common misconception that you can get rid of guilt completely. Believing you can will only set you up for failure and lead to more guilt.

Once you acknowledge your guilt, try to understand where it comes from. A few common reasons why caregivers may feel guilty include:

  • Feeling bad that they resent the time they spend caring for their loved one
  • Not being able to spend time with other friends or family members
  • Comparing themselves to other caregivers who appear to be doing a better job
  • Feeling anger towards a loved one for something they have no control over
  1. Join a support group

Support groups can be effective tools for managing guilt. They allow you to connect with other caregivers in similar situations. Not only can you learn from their experiences, but you can also take satisfaction in knowing you are not alone.

Support groups come in a variety of formats. Online groups may be best for those who have trouble finding time to meet with others. They can also be helpful for caregivers who struggle to express their feelings in-person or want to remain anonymous. In-person groups may work best for those who need to meet face-to-face to feel connected.

  1. Take advantage of respite care

Respite care is a service that gives short-term relief to caregivers. It can be a lifesaver for those who don’t have friends or family available to share the workload. This service can be arranged for any period of time. Some caregivers choose a few hours, while others need a few days or weeks.

One of the best things about respite care is that it can take place anywhere. Professional caretakers can come to your home, or your senior loved one could stay at a senior living community.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Many caregivers make the mistake of thinking they can do everything. Caring for a loved one takes a lot of time and patience, and it’s impossible to do alone. Trying to do so can become self-destructive and lead to chronic stress and caregiver burnout. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Taking time to care for yourself will allow you to better care for your loved one.

Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, provides respite care services to seniors and their families. If you and your senior loved one live in Michigan and would like to learn more about our respite care services, we invite you to schedule a private tour. We would love to show you around and tell you more about our community!

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

Dear Donna,

My mom is dating for the first time since my father’s death. I am happy for her, but also concerned about her safety. I have heard there are scammers who specifically target seniors.

How do I keep my mom safe while dating?

Grace from Holland, MI

When Aging Parents Start Dating

Dear Grace,

It’s normal for adult children to worry when their senior parents start dating. This is especially true if their parents are widowed or haven’t dated in years. A lot has changed since they were in the dating pool, largely due to the internet.

Using the internet to find love is a new concept for many seniors. Various websites are available to help singles connect.

Senior Dating Sites

  • SeniorMatch: SeniorMatch caters to singles over 50 years old. In addition to romantic relationships, this site also helps seniors looking for other connections like companions and travel buddies.
  • eHarmony: eHarmony uses a series of questions to match statistically compatible singles who share the same values. They claim to help people of all ages find love.
  • Niche sites: Various niche sites cater to specific groups of people. EliteSingles, for example, targets educated, mature singles. Other platforms, like FarmersOnly, attract farmers and singles who love the outdoors.

Like anyone seeking a partner online, seniors should be cautious. Many seniors have nest eggs, and scammers may try to take advantage of them. By learning the warning signs, caregivers can help keep their loved ones safe from online dating scams.

4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Safe While Online Dating

  1. Avoid anyone who professes love quickly. Saying “I love you” early in an online relationship isn’t normal. Scam artists commonly use this tactic to make their victim emotionally attached. Seniors should be wary of anyone who professes their love too quickly.
  2. Deny requests for money. Asking for money is red flag that seniors shouldn’t ignore. It’s best to avoid sending money regardless of what they tell you.
  3. Make sure their dating platform is reputable. If your loved one starts online dating, find out what platform they are using. Do a little research to make sure it has a good reputation. If it doesn’t, direct them to a site that does.
  4. Be aware of their plans. When your loved one goes on a date, learn as much about their plans as possible.
    • Who are they going with?
    • Where are they going?
    • When will they be home?

Knowing this information can help you determine when to worry and what to report if something occurs.

Online Dating Isn’t for Everyone

Intimacy and strong relationships later in life are essential for senior loved ones’ longevity and overall well-being. But meeting people after retirement can be challenging.

Senior dating sites aren’t for everyone. It’s common for seniors to feel more comfortable meeting face-to-face than through a computer. Assisted living can be advantageous in these cases. In assisted living, there are plenty of opportunities for seniors to meet and interact with potential partners.

I hope this helps your mom stay safe on senior dating sites. Wishing her lots of luck in finding love!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Encourages Friendship

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, understand the importance of friendships in later life. We provide an environment that fosters connectedness and provides plenty of opportunities for social interaction. Contact us for more information.