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?

Sincerely,

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,

Donna


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.

 

What Should Families Know About Assisted Living in Michigan?

What Should Families Know About Assisted Living in Michigan?

Dear Donna,

Our dad has been struggling to keep up with his house since our mom passed away. He’s still fairly independent but needs more and more help with running errands, cleaning, and getting around. He has friends and some other family members nearby, but it’s hard to help him while also taking care of our families.

He’s agreed to consider a move to assisted living. What should we know as we consider the options?

Best,

Bill Williams, Saline, MI

 

Considering Assisted Living in Michigan

 

Dear Bill,

Your dad has taken a big step in considering a move to assisted living. As you ponder this choice, remember to be patient with him. It can be a difficult decision.

Fortunately, assisted living has numerous benefits that can help set your dad’s mind at ease and make the eventual transition easier.

 

What Families and Seniors Should Know About Michigan Assisted Living

 

Maintain Independence

Assisted living communities help older adults maintain as much independence as possible while providing services such as housekeeping and meals.

Many assisted living locations allow pets, provided residents can care for them properly. They also provide opportunities for socializing, worship, entertainment, and other life-enriching activities.

Health and Wellness Choices

Assisted living communities are meant to support seniors in their health maintenance, allowing them to lead full, healthy lives. Depending on individual needs, this assistance may include the following:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming and dressing
  • Toileting or incontinence
  • Medication management
  • Wellness checks

Fitness centers and scheduled activities encourage physical and mental activity.

The state of Michigan has certain licensing requirements for assisted living providers that offer particular types of care. The licensing includes the patient’s right to receive appropriate care and to be fully informed of treatment options.

Assisted living centers also promote safety, often with building access controls and round-the-clock staffing to help at all hours.

Payment Options

The cost of assisted living can be intimidating for many families, but several financial programs can help. If you have long-term care insurance, be aware that some policies also cover assisted living. The Veteran’s Administration offers financial support to veterans who served during a period of war and their surviving spouse, if they meet certain criteria. In Michigan, Medicaid or MI Choice may also help cover some expenses associated with assisted living for older adults who qualify.

I hope this information is helpful, Bill!

Best Regards,

Donna

 

Choosing the Right Assisted Living Option

 

All of the assisted living centers in the Heritage Senior Communities family, including our Linden Square location in Saline, are fully licensed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. These locations provide holistic care and support to residents in a comfortable, home-like setting. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell

Dear Donna:

Our mom has finally agreed to move to sell her house and move to a senior living community. While we are thinking of having her move first and then worry about selling her home, we aren’t sure if that is the best approach.

Do you have any advice for selling a senior’s home when they are ready to move to a senior living community?

The Keller Family in Saline, Michigan

Prepare a Senior Loved One’s Home to Sell

Dear Keller Family:

Your mom has made an important and difficult decision that brings a unique set of stressors. The following tips should help make the transition and sale go as smoothly as possible.

How to Prepare Your Elder Loved One’s Home to Sell

Many families choose to sell a loved one’s home after they move to a senior living community. This involves a lengthy and potentially stressful process of downsizing, cleaning, and preparing the home to sell. The right approach can help you make the sale go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Start early.

The process of downsizing should start as soon as possible to give yourself and your loved one plenty of time to decide what to keep and to get used to the change. This can help keep families from feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Create a plan.

Take some time to plan your approach to the tasks ahead. Organize tasks by time and importance. When preparing the home, tackle one room at a time.

Decide what you will do with unwanted possessions. You might consider holding an estate sale if there are a lot of things to sell. Another alternative is to use online communities or an app to sell your items.

  1. Get plenty of help.

The changes will be more than what you and your mom can manage alone. Enlist the help of other loved ones, as well as outside services. Many charities offer pickup services for items like furniture. There is also a growing industry of senior move managers who help older adults relocate.

  1. Stay flexible.

While you might have a specific timeline for selling your loved one’s house, it is important to give yourself plenty of leeway in reaching your goals. Work, illness, and other scheduling conflicts can quickly throw off a well-thought plan. On the other hand, a willing buyer may appear sooner than expected.

  1. Update the home without renovating.

Increase the home’s curb appeal by neatly trimming shrubbery and lawns, sweeping porches and pavement, and power-washing the siding. Make sure the lawn and roof are free of debris.

Make sure rooms are bright and clean. Every closet and cupboard should be tidy since prospective buyers will look at them. Consider staging the home or hiring a home staging company to help it look its best.

Make minor repairs, such as replacing malfunctioning lights and fixing leaky faucets. Avoid major renovations, though, since you are unlikely to recoup the cost, and not all buyers will appreciate the results.

Best wishes,

Donna

Make the Transition Easier

Leaving one home for another can be difficult for senior loved ones. Heritage Senior Communities offers amenities and comfort to help elder adults settle in to their new environment.

Our Linden Square assisted living center in Saline, MI, offers a convenient location, inviting common areas, and a well-supplied activities room to help new residents feel at home. Contact us today for a tour.

How to Avoid Weight Loss While Caregiving

How to Avoid Weight Loss While Caregiving

Weight loss may be a goal for many Americans in the new year, but there are right and wrong ways to achieve it. Stress, poor nutrition, and tight schedules can contribute to unhealthy weight loss among caregivers.

As a caregiver, it is important that you take care of yourself as much as you care for your elderly loved one.

But how can you achieve balance in your life and avoid unnecessary weight loss while being a caregiver?

How to Avoid Unhealthy Weight Loss When You’re a Caregiver

  1. Practice proper nutrition.

Caregiving can keep you too busy to prepare or eat healthy meals. However, good nutrition may help you maintain your health, allowing you to tackle the tasks ahead of you.

  • Try to slow down and give yourself time for full meals. Consume smaller meals more often if you can’t find time in the day for three big meals.
  • Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Avoid overly processed foods.
  • Make sure your snacks include some carbs, fats, and protein, which can help you feel fuller and keep blood sugar stable.
  • Keep healthy snacks (nuts, bananas, carrot sticks, or whole-grain crackers) where you can grab them quickly.
  • Look at your schedule for ways to make time for healthy grocery shopping and preparing balanced meals.
  1. Manage stress healthfully.

Excessive stress can cause weight loss in many people, and caregivers are at particular risk of stress-related health issues.

  • Maintain a healthy social network through support groups, and keep in touch with friends and family.
  • If you work outside the home, consider asking your human resources department about the possibility of unpaid leave.
  • Smoking can be a difficult habit to kick when you’re stressed, but it’s worth the effort.
  1. Talk to your health care provider.

Schedule regular checkups with your health care provider. This can help you keep track of your weight, as well as other health factors like sleep and nutrition.

Discuss your lifestyle, including your caregiving responsibilities, with your provider. They may be able to help you create a plan to reduce stress, eat right, and keep your weight at a healthy level.

  1. Seek help for depression and anxiety.

Depression or anxiety, both of which are common among caregivers, sometimes cause weight loss. Depression in particular affects 40–70% of caregivers.

Talk to your provider if these symptoms begin to interfere with your life:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness or guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or accomplishing normal tasks
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Stubborn headaches and digestive problems

Weight Loss is Not Inevitable for Caregivers

If you are experiencing weight loss as a caregiver, help is available. A balanced diet, stress management, and social support can help keep you healthy and fulfilled.

Heritage Senior Communities provide numerous resources that can help busy caregivers. Contact us about respite care options that can give caregivers a break without compromising their loved ones’ needs. Also make sure to check out our newer communities in Saline and Holland, Michigan.

5 Stress Remedies for Caregivers

5 Stress Remedies for Caregivers

Anyone who has ever been a caregiver knows that it is a stressful job. Women who are caregivers are especially likely to experience stress.

Symptoms of stress include mood swings, social withdrawal, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. And stress can lead to serious health risks, including high blood pressure and anxiety.

Here are a few natural stress-management techniques you can use to lower the amount of stress in your daily life.

5 Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress

 

  1. Get enough sleep at night.

The stress of caregiving may cause you to lie awake at night worrying about your loved one and your to-do list. Unfortunately, this only increases stress and fatigue.

For a good night’s sleep, it’s important to practice good “sleep hygiene.”

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon.
  • Limit screen time, such as using tablets or watching television, beginning a few hours before bed.
  • Get plenty of natural light during the day and keep your bedroom dark at night.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Many people find that journaling also helps with the anxious thoughts that keep them awake.

  1. Practice thoughtful stress management.

Meditation, controlled breathing, and mindfulness may reduce stress by helping you focus scattered thoughts. These activities also can reduce certain symptoms of stress, such as rapid heart rate and muscle tension.

Set aside time every day to practice slow, deep breathing. Concentrate on a single thing in the room, like a spot on the wall. You might also close your eyes and focus on a sensation in your body, such as your feet against the floor.

You can also try one of the many free apps that can help guide you through relaxation techniques.

  1. Incorporate exercise into your routine.

When you’re mentally and physically exhausted from caregiving, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. However, exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and even boost your energy.

Just about any type of exercise can help, whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood, a water aerobics class, bicycling, or yoga. If you do not exercise already, talk to your doctor about how to start. It’s important to start slow and gradually build up your fitness level.

  1. Build a social network.

We tend to isolate ourselves from others during difficult times, but it’s important to reach out for support. Not only can you ask others to help care for your loved one, but social contact itself can relieve stress.

Calling a relative or going out for coffee with a friend can distract you from the things that cause stress and give you the support you need. If you can laugh about something together, even better—laughter also helps reduce stress.

  1. Take advantage of respite care.

A short-term respite stay at a senior living community can provide a loved one with an opportunity for socialization, while also giving the caregiver a break. Most senior living communities welcome respite stays of a few days or a few weeks.

There is help for caregiver stress.

When managing the stress of caring for a loved one, it is important not to neglect your own needs. If you believe that stress is seriously affecting your health, talk about it with your physician. He or she can help you find other ways to manage stress and stay healthy.