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?


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!



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.


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?


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!



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.

How Does the Family and Medical Leave Act Help Caregivers?

How Does the Family and Medical Leave Act Help Caregivers?

Dear Donna,

My dad’s health recently took a turn for the worse. I want to take time off, but I am concerned I will lose my job.

My coworker said I should look in to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). I thought that was for new parents.

What is FMLA, and how can it benefit other caregivers?


Dorothy from Saline MI


How the Family and Medical Leave Act Can Help Family Caregivers


Dear Dorothy,

It is a common misconception that FMLA is just for new parents. That probably has to do with the fact that many people refer to it as maternity leave.

This act can actually be very beneficial to working family caregivers. Here’s how FMLA applies to caregivers, including the rights and protections it provides.


What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?


FMLA provides employees who meet specific requirements with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off each year. For the benefit to apply, the caregiver must be caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.


5 Ways FMLA Helps Caregivers


  1. FMLA allows you time off to care for your loved ones.

If you are a family caregiver, you will probably need to miss some work. FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks off in a given year to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The time off is unpaid, and the person you are caring for must be an immediate family member. That means in-laws are not included.

  1. FMLA protects your health insurance.

FMLA protects your health insurance, including any family members on your plan. This is huge because health care is expensive without insurance. It’s a relief to know that you don’t have to worry about losing coverage unless you fail to pay your monthly premium.

  1. FMLA protects your job.

Although FMLA allows you to take time off, you might still be concerned about losing your position. FMLA requires your employer to give you back your position (or one with the same level of responsibility) when you return.

  1. FMLA can give you flexibility.

One of the best things about FMLA is that you aren’t required to take it all at once. You have the option to use it in intervals or work shorter shifts. This can be incredibly beneficial if you want to spread the time out or only take time off when you need to.

  1. FMLA allows you to be there for your loved ones.

Most importantly, FMLA allows you to be there for your loved ones when they need it most.

I hope this helps you better understand FMLA and how it can benefit working caregivers.


When You Don’t Quality for FMLA


If you do not qualify for FMLA, you may want to consider looking in to assisted living for your loved one.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to families and seniors looking to transition to assisted living. Contact us for more information.



How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

The holidays are the busiest time of the year for most people. Caregivers, who already have an overbooked schedule, can quickly become overwhelmed with the added stress. The increased workload can cause them to put their own needs on hold, jeopardizing their health and that of their loved one.

Here are 5 ways respite care can help caregivers manage the busy holiday season.


5 Ways Respite Care Can Help Caregivers During the Holidays


What is respite care?

Respite care provides short-term relief for caregivers by temporarily taking over their normal caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can involve having a professional caregiver go to your loved one’s home, or having them stay in a senior living community like Heritage Senior Communities for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

It can be an excellent option for caregivers who want to participate in holiday festivities without having to sacrifice their own well-being or that of the loved one they care for.

  1. Reduce Stress

Respite care can alleviate some of the stress that comes along with caring for an aging loved one by allowing them to do something for themselves—even if it means doing nothing.

Having a few hours to relax and get some much-needed rest can make a world of a difference in their mood, health, and overall well-being.

  1. Avoid Unnecessary Conflict

When you are overwhelmed, it’s not uncommon to lose your temper and lash out at people. This can be especially true with family members you feel aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to caring for your loved one.

Respite care can give you time to cool off and unwind. When you’re well rested, you are more likely to hold back your resentment and confront family members calmly.

  1. Prevent Serious Complications From an Illness

When you are overly stressed, your immunity suffers. A strong immune system is critical during a busy time like the holiday season.

Not only can respite care help protect your immunity, but it can also provide your love one with a place to stay if you get sick. The last thing you want to do is spread your illness to an older adult.

  1. Give You Peace of Mind

One of the best things about seeking respite care at an assisted living community is the “community” aspect.

Your loved one will be able to spend time with people their own age who are in similar situations. While you get a break, your loved one can make friends. Relationships and feeling connected to others is crucial for longevity and overall well-being.

  1. Allow You to Enjoy the Holidays

Everyone deserves to enjoy the holiday season. Respite care can allow caregivers to do some of the activities they may have had to skip because of their caregiving duties, such as attend a holiday party or do some holiday shopping. Respite care can give caregivers the opportunity to do so.


Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities


The holiday season may be the first time your family has seen your loved one in a while. During your time together, you may begin to talk about a senior living community as a more permanent situation. Respite care provides the perfect opportunity for your loved one to experience the community first-hand before committing to a more permanent stay.

Heritage Senior Communities offers respite care services such as adult day care and short-term stays. If you would like to learn more, call the Heritage community nearest you today.

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.

How Caregivers Can Protect Their Marriage

How Caregivers Can Protect Their Marriage

Dear Donna,

I have been a caregiver for my mother for three years; she is 86 and lives alone. At first, she just needed a little help around the house. But as her health declines, the amount of time I spend at her house increases.

Unfortunately, it is beginning to take a toll on my marriage. My husband is always complaining that we don’t spend enough time together. He got agitated when I had to cancel our weekly date nights, and he complains that I spend all my time with my mom.

Our limited time together doesn’t seem to be enough. How do I protect my marriage when I am the caregiver for a parent?


Heather Jones, Saline, MI


Protecting Your Marriage When You Are a Caregiver

Dear Heather,

Caring for an aging parent requires time and energy. This can place a considerable strain on even the healthiest of marriages.

But just because you are a caregiver doesn’t mean your marriage has to suffer. Here’s how using love languages can help caregivers protect their marriage without sacrificing the quality of care they provide their parents.


Learn the 5 Love Languages

You may be familiar with love languages. This popular phrase was coined by Dr. Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. In his book, Dr. Chapman explains that there are five main ways that people express and receive love; each person communicates love differently.

The five love languages include the following:

  1. Words of affirmation: Love is expressed with words that build up their confidence.
  2. Quality time: Your partner needs to spend quality time together to feel loved.
  3. Receiving gifts: Love is exchanged by giving and receiving gifts.
  4. Acts of service: Your partner feels love when you help them with tasks.
  5. Physical touch: Your partner needs to be touched to feel loved.

Chapman then explains that each person has a “love tank,” and to feel loved, the love tank needs to be regularly filled.


Identify Your Husband’s Love Language

Now that you are familiar with the five love languages, it’s time to figure out your husband’s love language. Here are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Listen to what your partner complains about the most.

You can learn a lot about your husband’s love language by listening to the things he regularly complains about. For example, if he is saying things like, “You don’t acknowledge anything I do for you,” then his love language is probably words of affirmation.

Does he ask questions like, “Why don’t you cook dinner for me anymore?” If so, then he probably understands love through acts of service.

  1. Pay attention to the way your partner shows you love.

People usually show love to others in the same way they would like to receive it. Pay attention to the things your husband does for you to show you he loves you.

Since he often comments about the amount of time you spend with your mother, there’s a good chance his love language is quality time.


Speak His Love Language

Now that you’ve identified your husband’s love language, it is important to practice it.

Assuming that your partner’s love language is quality time, it is essential to make time for him. Here are a few tips.

  • Have meaningful conversations. Take a few minutes every day to talk to your husband. This can be done anywhere, at any time—just make sure he has your undivided attention. Maintain eye contact when he is speaking to you. This will help reassure him you are paying attention to him, therefore reaffirming your love.
  • Share a daily meal together. If possible, have at least one with just the two of you. Again, make sure he has your full attention—this means no television or phones. Maybe put someone else in charge of handling any phone calls that could come up regarding your mother.
  • Consider respite care. If you have trouble spending quality time with your husband, you may want to consider respite care. Your mother can temporarily stay in an assisted living community. Respite care is available at all of our assisted living locations, including Linden Square.

Remember, for someone whose love language is quality time, quality is more important than quantity. If your caregiving role only allows you to spend 30 minutes a day with your husband, make sure those 30 minutes count. While speaking his love language won’t solve all of your relationship problems, it is a step in the right direction.

Kind regards,


Need Respite Care for a Loved One?

Heritage Senior Communities offer respite care at every location. Contact us to ask questions or to schedule a private tour at one of our sites.