Coping with Emotions When a Senior Moves to Assisted Living

Coping with Emotions When a Senior Moves to Assisted Living

When an aging parent is no longer safe living alone, adult children often experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Guilt, resentment, stress, fear, and doubt are just a few. It can be a difficult transition for both the senior and their family.

While most people say planning before a crisis occurs is essential, the majority of families don’t prepare. Adult children may find themselves struggling to juggle a parent’s sudden medical crisis with worries about where they will live after leaving the hospital. Families often become heated when everyone has a different idea about what is best.

 

An Emergency Plan for Changing Needs

If your senior loved one is resistant to planning for their future care, a less threatening approach may be to suggest creating an emergency plan together. Reinforce the idea that you may never have to use it, but it is better to be prepared.

An important part of planning ahead will be learning what types of senior care are available. There are great resources online that can help you understand the different types of care, including home care, assisted living care, and a nursing home. If you know your options before you need them, you will be more confident you are making an informed decision.

 

Coping with Difficult Emotions

As families investigate senior living options for a parent or other family elder, they often struggle with the idea that their loved one is getting older. It might be the first time an adult child has admitted to themselves that a parent is getting frail and needs help.

Accepting this change is a major life event for most of us. Psychiatrists use the term “anticipatory grief” to explain this feeling of loss. Adult children may begin to realize their role in a parent’s life has come full circle. They are now the decision maker and guardian of their parent’s best interests.

For family members who have been fulfilling the role of caregiver, this transition can cause guilt, fear, and worry. It isn’t easy to turn a loved one’s care over to someone else, especially when it requires them to leave their home.

 

Tips for a Smooth Transition

Try to remind yourself you’ve researched and made the most informed choice you can. Here are some suggestions to help you find your way:

  • Make it look like home: Work with staff at the assisted living community to determine what furniture and belongings will fit in your parent’s new apartment before moving day. Having your loved one’s favorite things surrounding them will help them feel more at home.
  • Move before selling: If possible, try to make the move to the assisted living community before the house goes up for sale. That will help avoid the stress of being forced to downsize, pack, and move in a hurry when the house sells. It will also prevent the senior from having to leave the house during often inconvenient realtor showings.
  • Hire an expert: If the very idea of downsizing the senior’s home and packing up overwhelms you, consider hiring a senior move manager. These professionals are accustomed to working with families dealing with the details and emotions of this transition.

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself or your family members. These will be emotional days for everyone. Accept that there will be tearful times and stressful days. You’ll need to be kind to and patient with one another.

 

Heritage Senior Communities Is Here to Help!

If your search for assisted living includes Michigan or Indiana, we hope you will consider Heritage Senior Communities. A family-owned business, we have been serving seniors for four generations. Call the Heritage community nearest you with any questions you have about assisted living!

How to Help a Senior Parent Make New Friends

How to Help a Senior Parent Make New Friends

Dear Donna:

My mother is in the process of selling her home in Florida and relocating to Michigan to live with me. While she is excited to make the move, I know it won’t be easy for her. She has a lot of friends in her active living community. Moving will mean starting over.

How can I help her meet people her own age once she arrives? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thank you for your help!

Steven in Saginaw, Michigan

 

Making Friends During Retirement

 

Dear Steven:

Maintaining a close circle of friends is essential at every age. From encouraging healthy habits to lending a friendly ear on difficult days, friends play a role in our quality of life.

Like your mother, older adults often move during retirement. Rebuilding their social circle might feel intimidating. Here are a few tips you can share with your mom after she’s settled in:

  • Volunteer for a nonprofit: One avenue to help your mom meet like-minded people is to volunteer. Help her choose an organization that matches her interests and talents. Her local United Way might be a good place to start searching for a volunteer opportunity.
  • Enroll in a class: Another way your mom can meet new people while also giving her brain a workout is a class. Parks, libraries, art museums, bakeries, and community colleges often offer workshops and classes. Some might give older adults a discount.
  • Connect with a fitness group: Friends often influence your health, for better or worse. Helping your mom find a group of fitness-conscious seniors to spend time with may keep her healthier and
  • Find a hobby-related club: Connecting over common interests is a great way to grow a friendship. If your mom is a gardener, for example, explore local garden clubs together. Think about her favorite pastimes and research them before she arrives.
  • Explore spiritual organizations: It’s common for older adults to take a greater interest in spiritual activities. Your mom might appreciate it if you help her find a church or synagogue. It will allow her to nurture her spirit and meet new people.
  • Join a senior center: Most cities and counties have senior centers. These nonprofit organizations host programs and activities for members every day. Getting involved will allow her to quickly expand her social network after the move.

With a little effort, your mom will likely find a host of ways to make the transition to Michigan go smoothly. Best of luck to both of you, Steven!

Kind regards,

Donna

 

Make New Friends at Heritage Senior Communities

 

Senior living communities are a great way for older adults to stay actively engaged in life. Formal and informal opportunities for connecting and staying active abound. Call the Heritage community nearest you and ask for a copy of a resident activity calendar. You’ll find activities for every hobby and interest!

What Is a Sandwich Generation Caregiver?

What Is a Sandwich Generation Caregiver?

You may have heard the phrase sandwich generation and wondered what it meant. This term was coined to classify adults sandwiched between caring for aging parents and raising a family of their own. Many do this while working outside the home. These sandwich generation caregivers live hectic, often stressful lives.

Nearly half of all people in their 40s and 50s qualify as sandwich generation caregivers. They are the primary caregivers for—or beginning to care for—a parent while having their own children living at home. As baby boomers retire at a rate of 10,000 per day, the sandwich generation continues to grow.

July is Sandwich Generation Caregiver Month. In honor of this designation, we are offering advice to weary caregivers. From stress relief to senior care, here are five ways to survive these challenging years.

 

5 Survival Tips for Sandwich Generation Caregivers

 

  1. Ask for and accept help.

It’s unrealistic to manage so many roles without help, yet many sandwich generation caregivers do. Even when a friend or loved one offers assistance, a family caregiver may resist. Give yourself permission to ask for and accept help. It’s essential for preventing a serious case of caregiver burnout. Here are a couple reasons why it’s important to accept help:

  • Protect your health: Weary caregivers are stressed caregivers. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, which can put you at higher risk for a variety of illnesses. If you fall ill, who will be able to care for your family members?
  • Recover with rest: Accept that you will be a better caregiver when you get a good night’s sleep or even take a nap. You will be less likely to make mistakes when well rested.
  1. Have open and honest communication.

One challenge sandwich generation caregivers face is worrying about a parent’s financial situation. This can be especially difficult if you took on the role of caregiver as the result of your parent’s sudden illness or injury. The two of you might not have had an opportunity to discuss how to handle their monthly finances.

While it might not be easy, have an honest conversation with your parent. If they don’t use online bill payment options, setting them up may help. It can make things easier for both of you.

  1. Review or create legal documents.

Make sure you know which—if any—legal documents your parent has in place. In most cases, an older adult typically needs:

  • A will or trust
  • A living will
  • Advance directives
  • A durable power of attorney
  • A health care proxy/power of attorney

If some are missing, work with a trusted attorney to create them.

  1. Explore senior care resources.

Most cities and counties have a wide variety of senior care resources available. From home care to assisted living and memory care, they provide families with many options to choose from. If you aren’t familiar with those near you, call your local agency on aging office. Most have staff that can educate families on which types of care best meet their needs.

  1. Make time for self-care.

Pushing yourself to the point of mental and physical exhaustion is never a good idea. It puts you at high risk for a variety of mental and physical health concerns. Make time each day to unwind and de-stress. Maybe it’s a 10-minute meditation before bedtime or a morning stroll around the block. Many caregivers find journaling therapeutic. The goal should be to focus on your own wellness for a few minutes every day.

 

Care for Every Need

 

At Heritage Senior Communities, we have a type of senior care to meet every need. From independent living for the active older adult to assisted living and memory care for those who need a helping hand, we invite you to learn more. Find the community nearest you and call today!

Stay Connected with Friends While Caregiving

Stay Connected with Friends While Caregiving

A challenge shared by many caregivers is the loneliness the role often creates. As their loved ones’ need for assistance increases, many people find themselves cut off from friends when they need emotional support more than ever. This situation can easily result in caregiver depression.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 40-70% of caregivers meet the criteria for depression. Of those, 25% meet the criteria for major clinical depression. It’s a serious condition that typically requires medical intervention.

As a caregiver, how can you stay connected when you aren’t able to leave home very often?

Technology has made it easier to find a solution. Here are a few easy-to-use, inexpensive avenues to explore:

 

Stay Connected While Caregiving

 

  1. Use a video chat service to talk with family and friends.

Video chat services aren’t just for keeping in touch with faraway loved ones. For isolated caregivers, they can provide a way to talk face-to-face from across town or the country. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and others allow lonely caregivers to get emotional support, especially on difficult days. Most are easy to access from a smartphone or tablet device.

  1. Play games and hang out virtually.

During the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, many people sought new ways to spend time virtually with loved ones. Playing games across the miles is possible with the help of apps like Houseparty. Loved ones can challenge each other to games like Chips and Guac, Heads Up!, and Pictionary.

  1. Talk via social media channels like Facebook.

If you haven’t joined Facebook, now might be time. You can connect with family members through your regular News Feed or set up private groups. Another popular feature is Facebook Live, and it’s not just for businesses. If you can’t leave home, this could be a way to read bedtime stories to the grandkids. You can control and limit who sees your feed, providing you with privacy.

  1. Join an online caregiver support group.

As the number of family caregivers in the US (currently estimated to be about 40.4 million) continues to climb, avenues for support are growing too. One is online caregiver support groups. They are easier to find than ever before. These groups give caregivers an opportunity to connect with others who understand and share their struggles.

While in-person support groups are an option for some, caregivers who aren’t able to leave a senior loved one alone can join one online. The flexibility and convenience they offer is good for a busy caregiver’s schedule.

 

Is It Time for a Senior Living Community?

 

When a senior family member’s needs become tough to manage at home, it might be time to consider assisted living or memory care. I’m Here For A Family Member offers resources to help you learn more about each type of care. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

How to Help a Senior Avoid Common Heat-Related Illnesses

How to Help a Senior Avoid Common Heat-Related Illnesses

Spring and summer are seasons many people enjoy spending outdoors. Picnics, swimming, and family reunions are popular warm-weather activities. If you are an older adult, it’s essential to learn how to stay safe from heat-related illnesses. Seniors are more sensitive to heat and the health issues a hot, humid day can cause.

Sometimes a chronic health condition, such as heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), puts the senior at increased risk for dehydration or a heat stroke. Other times sun sensitivity is a medication side effect.

Aging causes another safety concern: fragile skin. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner, making it more susceptible to sunburn and sun poisoning. It also takes less time for fragile skin to burn.

To help you stay safe while enjoying your spring and summer activities, we pulled together a few tips.

 

6 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

 

  1. Sunscreen: Frequent application of a quality sunscreen is the best way to protect fragile skin from sunburn and sun poisoning. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 every two to four hours while you are outdoors and encourage senior loved ones to do the same.
  2. Footwear: Fragile skin impacts the tops and bottoms of the feet too. While sandals and flip-flops might be cooler and more attractive in warm weather, they don’t offer much protection. From cuts and sunburns to falls, you need footwear with better coverage and support.
  3. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They also play a key role in protecting eyes from the sun’s hot rays. Researchers say faithfully wearing a quality pair of sunglasses can help protect eyes from cancerous growths and cataracts, a condition that occurs more frequently with age. Make sure you and your senior loved one have sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Hat: The face and back of the neck are common places for skin cancer to develop. Wearing a hat with a brim that shields the face along with sunscreen doubles the protection.
  5. Bug spray: Insects are more than just pests when you are enjoying the great outdoors. Some are linked to serious health concerns, such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Invest in a good bug spray and use it faithfully. Also check your clothes, hair, and body for signs of ticks when you come back inside.
  6. Hydration: Finally, stay hydrated. As we age, our bodies don’t adjust to changes in temperature and humidity as well as in younger days. This puts seniors at increased risk for dehydration. Medication side effects and health conditions like COPD and heart disease can make the problem worse. Drink water continuously when you are outside and consume foods with high water content. Popsicles, cucumber, salads, and berries are a few suggestions.

We hope these tips keep you and those closest to you safe this summer.

Tour a Heritage Community This Summer

If your summer plans include visiting senior living communities for a potential move, we hope you will keep Heritage Senior Communities in mind. With locations throughout Michigan and in Granger, Indiana, you are likely to find a community nearby! Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications

What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications

When people think about spring, flowers and greenery often come to mind. But spring is also a popular time for allergies. Unfortunately, many allergy medications can harm a senior’s health or negatively interact with their prescriptions.

Here’s what caregivers should know about seniors and allergy medications so they can help keep their loved ones safe.

Understanding Seasonal Allergies

Allergies occur when something the body recognizes as an invader triggers an immune response. In spring, common invaders are pollen, grass, or mold. The symptoms of seasonal allergies can be mild, such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, or a rash. They can also be more intense, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or even swelling in the throat.

Issues with Antihistamines

Many people use antihistamines to treat allergies. Two common antihistamines found in allergy medications are chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine.

  • Chlorpheniramine is in medications like Chlor-Trimeton and Chlor-Tabs. It is also commonly found in drugs labeled for nighttime use.
  • Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient in Benadryl.

Chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine are anticholinergics, meaning they block the action of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that helps control functions like learning and memory. The brain’s ability to use acetylcholine declines with age and taking medications with these ingredients further reduces its action.

In addition to their harmful effects on the brain, these medications can also cause unfavorable side effects, including confusion, drowsiness, urine retention, dizziness, and dry mouth and eyes. Anticholinergics can also interact negatively with certain prescription medications used to manage chronic medical conditions, like blood pressure.

Caregivers should know that medications aren’t the only option for treating allergies. Natural remedies may help protect senior loved ones against pollen and other allergens.

Natural Allergy Remedies

  • Limit exposure to pollen: One way to protect senior loved ones is to limit their exposure to pollen. Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 and 10 am, especially when it’s warm and dry or windy. It’s usually a good idea to avoid going outside during these times and keep home and car windows closed. If your loved one does go out, change their clothes to minimize contact.
  • Stay clean: To keep allergies at bay, take a bath or shower each night to wash any pollen from the hair and body. This can also help avoid bringing allergens to bed.
  • Wash bedding: Wash your loved one’s sheets, pillows, and blankets with soap and warm water at least once per week to keep them pollen-free.
  • Use a HEPA filter: HEPA filters are another tool for reducing symptoms of allergies. They work by trapping pollutants. Try putting one in your loved one’s bedroom.
  • Try a Neti pot: This small device that looks like a teapot works by cleansing the nasal passages. Add a sterile saline solution to the Neti pot. Tilt your head to the side and place the spout in your top nostril and let the liquid drain through the bottom nostril. Just be careful your loved one doesn’t use the pot too frequently.

Consult with a Doctor

If your loved one is having trouble managing their allergies, they should consult with their doctor before taking an OTC allergy medication. A medical professional can recommend an alternative drug that won’t affect their brain function or interfere with their current medications.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities provides senior living options, including assisted living, independent living, specialized dementia care, and respite care throughout Michigan. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.