5 Ways to Start the Conversation About Senior Living

5 Ways to Start the Conversation About Senior Living

Dear Donna,

Last year, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At first, our whole family chipped in to help, and we were able to work together as a team to provide care for him. Now, as things settle down and in to a routine, my siblings come around less and I’m mostly left to take care of my dad alone.

My mom tries to help, but she is overwhelmed, too. I’m afraid to talk to them about a senior living community. I don’t want to stress them out more. What should I do?


Carrie from Saline, MI

How to Initiate a Conversation about Senior Living with a Loved One

Dear Carrie,

It sounds like you are doing a great job caring for your dad! But there are many senior care options for you and your family to consider. It sounds like, as you said, the right option might be helping your parents transition to a senior living community. Beginning that conversation can be difficult for both the adult child and their older loved one.

Here are 5 pointers to help you:

  1. Listen

A good way for you to start the conversation is actually to just listen. Ask your parents what they like about living in their home. Use these points to make the transition more positive, and redirect the notion that they are losing an aspect of their life. In addition, ask them about their opinions or knowledge of senior communities. By doing your own research first, you can immediately address any misconceptions they have.

  1. Use positive language

If you want to paint a positive picture, use positive language. Be sure to use the word “community” and never “home” or “facility.” Talk about the opportunities they’ll have and the many ways this community will make their lives easier and more fun!

  1. It’s not all sewing and bingo

There are so many activities in a senior living community. From social gatherings to special outings, your senior loved ones will have something to do any time they want. And surrounded by their peers, they’ll be making new friends and might even try something they never knew about before. Most seniors actually say they wish they’d made this transition sooner!

  1. Keep the door open

Seniors often feel stress about this transition and are fearful that they will lose their independence. Let your senior loved ones know they don’t have to decide today—it can be an ongoing discussion. Reassure them that they will have a say. But it’s also important to remember that diseases do progress, sometimes rapidly. The conversation you were having a couple months ago will likely change as your parents age. Even if they don’t like the sound of a senior living community at first, it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear the positives. Revisiting the conversation can be helpful.

  1. Test the waters

Finally, it never hurts to take a tour of a nearby community. This is your opportunity to talk to staff and residents and to take an in-depth look at the daily details of living in a senior community. You can also let your loved ones know about short-term stays so that they can give it a try without committing!

As a bonus, May is National Parkinson’s Month, so there may even be events especially for seniors like your father. Check out the events at a Heritage Senior Community near you, and contact them for more information.

Kind regards,


4 Foods That Help Fight Caregiver Fatigue

4 Foods That Help Fight Caregiver Fatigue

Caregiving comes with a never-ending list of responsibilities. The mental exertion required often leaves caregivers stressed out and exhausted before the day has even started. This is so common that it has a name: caregiver fatigue.

One way caregivers can alleviate fatigue is by eating healthy. A diet high in nutrition and low in processed foods can not only give caregivers more energy, but it can improve their mood while reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Here’s how caregivers can use food to help fight caregiver fatigue.

Foods to Avoid

When feeling low on energy, it’s normal to reach for caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks. They are convenient and provide instant relief. Unfortunately, the energy you get from them is short-lived and can leave you feeling worse than you did before.

A few foods that can lead to a crash include:

  • Caffeine: Consuming caffeine, primarily later in the day, can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep can significantly worsen symptoms of fatigue. Try to limit caffeinated beverages like coffee to a single cup in the morning.
  • Sugar: Sugar is notorious for resulting in a crash. Do your best to avoid sugary snacks like pastries and soda.
  • Simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs like bread and pasta taste great. However, they do little to keep you satisfied when eaten alone. If you eat carbs, consider pairing them with a lean protein.
  • Processed foods: Processed foods are often full of preservatives, sodium, and other ingredients that can slow you down. It’s best to avoid them altogether.

Foods That Help Fight Caregiver Fatigue

Rather than opting for quick fixes, caregivers can try eating natural foods that provide long-lasting energy. Here are a few foods that help fight fatigue:

  1. Lean protein: It takes longer to digest lean protein than refined carbs. Foods that take longer to digest help sustain your energy levels, reducing the chance of a crash. Try to incorporate lean proteins like white-meat poultry and lean fish into your diet regularly.
  2. Leafy green vegetables: Vegetables contain micronutrients that are essential for energy. Spinach, in particular, contains iron that helps red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. It also contains magnesium, which relaxes your muscles to help you fall asleep.
  3. Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbs are great for giving you long-lasting energy. They contain more nutrients than simple carbs and help you stay full. When selecting carbs, consume those that are rich in fiber like brown rice and oatmeal.
  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C can help fight fatigue and infections. One lemon can provide you with up to 40% of your daily intake of Vitamin C. Lemons also contain potassium, which is crucial for brain and nerve function. Lemon water, in particular, has been shown to be a great alternative to a morning coffee. It hydrates while boosting your metabolism and preventing insulin spikes.

Heritage Supports a Healthy Diet

The fatigue that often comes with caregiving can make it difficult to eat a healthy diet. But getting proper nutrition isn’t just essential for your well-being, it’s equally important for your caregiving ability.

If your caregiving role is causing you to experience chronic fatigue, it may be time to consider respite care. Heritage Senior Communities offers respite care options that allow caregivers to take a much-needed break without sacrificing their loved ones’ care. Contact us today to learn more about our respite care services.

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.