New Friends: Helping a Loved One Connect After a Move to Senior Living

New Friends: Helping a Loved One Connect After a Move to Senior Living

Dear Donna,

My dad recently moved in to an assisted living community after we decided that his house was too much for him to manage by himself. Although he’s glad to not worry about housekeeping or meals, it’s been a difficult transition.

He was pretty close with his old neighbors and is having a hard time getting to know people in his new community. What are some ways he can make new friends?


Steve from Saline, MI

Making Friends in a New Senior Residence

Dear Steve,

One of the major benefits of moving to a senior living community is the opportunity to get to know people and make new friends. Unfortunately, it takes a little time to settle in when an older adult is transitioning from their house to a senior community.

With a few small steps and friendly gestures, however, your dad can start to make new friends soon.

Tips for Making New Friends in Senior Living

  1. Smile and say hello.

Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference. Rather than avoiding eye contact or small talk, encourage your dad to be warm and friendly in a way others respond to. Simply saying hello with a smile in the hallway or communal areas can be enough to start a conversation.

  1. Join others for meals.

Mealtimes provide an easy way to meet new people. If he’s been eating alone in his apartment instead of the dining room, encourage him to enjoy his meals with fellow residents instead. He might ask to join others at their table and introduce himself to start a conversation.

  1. Watch the calendar.

Most senior communities have event or holiday calendars with various activities for residents to enjoy. This may include group games, a religious service, or fitness activities. Your dad might watch the calendar for activities he enjoys or something new he’d like to try. Have him start by choosing one activity every week and planning to introduce himself to at least one new person there.

If he’s reluctant to go alone, join him for a few activities. Senior living communities welcome and encourage family involvement.

  1. Stay positive.

Sometimes we avoid new people because we are afraid of what they will think of us. If we assume that other people will not like us, that’s a good way to sabotage potential friendships. You can encourage your dad to avoid this attitude by being positive and open and assuming that others will like him and enjoy getting to know him.

  1. Invite people over.

Making new friends does not have to be complicated. Another simple way your dad can get connected is to invite neighbors into his home. This may include coffee, a snack, playing a game, or watching a movie or TV.

  1. Be patient.

Adjusting to a new community can be hard work, so be patient with your dad. Encourage him to be patient with himself and with his neighbors. Change is difficult for most of us, so give your Dad time to adjust and settle in.

Best wishes,


Building Community for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to residents in a comfortable, home-like setting that encourages community. Contact us for more information.

What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

What Bathroom Safety Issues Should I Look for in My Mother’s Home?

Dear Donna,

Our mom still lives in her own home and usually does just fine on her own. However, her bathroom has not been updated in years, and we’re worried about her slipping and falling in the shower. She also has arthritis that has made it more difficult to bathe.

Are there other safety issues we should look for in her bathroom? How can we reduce her safety risks and make her more comfortable?


Janice Bauer, Holland, MI

Keeping Bathrooms Safe for Seniors

Dear Janice,

It’s understandable that you are concerned about your mom’s safety in the bathroom. Hospital emergency departments treat 2.8 million older adults every year for fall injuries. Many of these falls happen in the bathroom and are due to hazards like slippery floors.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce your mom’s risk of falling in the bathroom, as well as other possible safety issues. Do a thorough safety check of her bathroom and determine which precautions are necessary.

Here are some things to look for when you’re checking your mom’s bathroom, including how you can make it safer for her.

Senior Bathroom Safety Issues to Look For


  • Tubs or showers should have non-slip surfaces; add floor mats or non-skid appliques to avoid sliding on the tub floor.
  • Bathroom floors should have a textured surface or have non-skid carpet or rugs.
  • A bath bench can reduce the need to stand in the shower and can help with getting in and out of the tub.


  • Does the bathroom have sufficient, even lighting?
  • Light switches should be easily accessible near the door.
  • Make sure burned-out light bulbs are changed.


  • Bathroom doors should open outward.
  • Doorways should be wide enough to accommodate any mobility devices, such as walkers.
  • Shower doors should be made of safety glass or plastic.


  • Consider installing lever handles on sinks and showers, which can help seniors with arthritis and stiff joints.
  • If the shower head is difficult to reach, install a shower head attachment.
  • Consider a walk-in bathtub to make bathing easier.
  • If the toilet is too low, a higher toilet or a seat extender can make use easier.
  • Install grab bars near the shower and toilet; a tension pole is another option.
  • Towel racks and other shelving are not substitutes for grab bars, but they should still be installed sturdily.
  • Consider installing a telephone in the bathroom, reachable from the floor, if your mom falls and must call for help.


  • Toiletries and towels should be easy to reach and should not require seniors to stretch and reach too far; keep items convenient with additional shelves or water-resistant baskets.
  • Do the outlets prevent electric shock?
  • Is there sufficient heat and ventilation?
  • Set hot water heater to 120 degrees F to avoid scalding.
  • Insulate any exposed water pipes or wiring.

I hope these tips help you create a safer bathroom for your mother!

Kind regards,


Offering Safe Senior Care

Family-owned Heritage Senior Communities focuses on providing quality senior housing and licensed assisted living. Contact us today to ask questions or schedule a tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

How to Pay for Senior Living Communities

Dear Donna,

My older parents are considering moving to a senior living community, and I am confused about the different options for paying. I thought our only option was to pay for it ourselves, but a friend just told me that her parents used other methods as well.

Can you tell me more about what kinds of funding senior living communities accept?


Mary from Holland, MI

Financing a Move to a Senior Living Community


Thanks for asking this question. How to pay for senior living is an important topic, and we appreciate the opportunity to address it. Considering the national average cost for assisted living is just below $4,000 a month, it’s good to know all the options you and your family have on your side.

To begin, assess the level of care your parents will want and need. Consider if your parents are searching for independent or assisted living, or if they would need to move into a memory care community. Based on their needs, you’ll find different ways to fund this next chapter in their lives.

Assisted Living

If either of your senior loved ones was in the military, he or she (and spouse) may be entitled to VA benefits to help pay for assisted living. Medicaid is also an option, though this varies by state. Some long-term care insurances can help, too.

Long-term care insurance is similar to health insurance and must be purchased through a private insurance company. If one company denies an applicant or the benefits aren’t what you were hoping for, keep applying to other companies! You may find just the right one for your family’s situation.

Memory Care

Memory care communities are specially designed for those seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The care offered at these communities can be funded using a family’s private funds, veterans’ benefits, long-term care insurance, or, depending on the state, Medicaid.

Independent Living

Independent living communities may participate in state or federal programs that subsidize housing, meaning they are able to offer fees at a sliding scale based on the senior’s income. There are organizations that can point you to a list of subsidized senior housing options in your area and their entrance fees.

In general, however, independent living is financed using the senior’s private resources often with help from family.

Financing Senior Living

There may be other options available to help you and your family finance a move to a senior living community. We encourage you to call us with questions and to schedule a tour of the Heritage Senior Community in your hometown.

I hope this information helps, Mary!

Kind regards,


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?


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,



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 Keep a Senior Gardener Safe This Summer

How to Keep a Senior Gardener Safe This Summer

Dear Donna:

My mom has always loved to garden, but she is now struggling with mobility issues. She also takes a few different medications that make her more susceptible to dehydration and heat.

What can we do to help her keep enjoying her favorite activity safely?

The Fletcher Family in Holland, MI

How Seniors Can Garden Safely

Dear Fletcher Family,

It’s great that your mom wants to keep up with gardening. It is a wonderful, healthy activity. Not only is it a way to get exercise, but being outside can increase vitamin D levels. The activity can also reduce dementia risk and nurture the spirit.

With any strenuous outdoor activity, however, some precautions are necessary. Here are tips your mom can follow to stay safe and healthy when gardening.

4 Ways to Your Senior Gardener Can Stay Healthy

  1. Customize gardening for mobility issues.

Kneeling to plant seeds or pull weeds can be hard on the knees, hips, and back. Instead, try raised garden beds, which can either be purchased from home-and-garden supply shops or built DIY-style.

Indoor pots and window boxes are another option, especially for colder climates or smaller living spaces. They can be set on a table and accessed while sitting down.

  1. Use safe gardening techniques.

Gardening often involves repetitive motions, which can cause irritation in tendons and nerves. Prevent strain by rotating activities every 15 minutes, with a short rest in-between. Make sure your wrist is relaxed and your grip is not too tight on your gardening tools. Wear gardening gloves to prevent blisters and skin irritation, as well as to protect from things like pesticides, thorns, or bug bites.

  1. Make sure to use tools correctly.

Never use bare hands for digging in the soil where sharp objects or stinging insects may be buried. Use proper tools, such as trowels and hand rakes, and make sure they are in good working condition.

Look for pruners or shears with safety locks. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions for using garden tools.

  1. Use proper outdoor protection.

For your health and safety, it is important not to lose track of time while gardening. Take precautions to avoid dehydration, sunstroke, and other risks.

  • Garden earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Always use sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) when going outside.
  • Wear a hat with a sufficient brim to shade your face.
  • Use sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes and prevent eye strain.
  • Stay hydrated; keep a water bottle outside with you and drink from it often, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with sugar or alcohol.
  • Take frequent breaks indoors or in the shade.
  • If you have diabetes or other conditions that can affect the nerves, make sure to wear well-fitting gloves and shoes. Check yourself after gardening to make sure you have no cuts or scrapes that went unnoticed.

I hope this information helps your mom continue her favorite pastime!

Best wishes,


Encourage Physical and Mental Activity for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities provides quality care for seniors across Michigan. Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, for example, provides numerous exercise and socializing opportunities, including wellness seminars. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

5 Things to Look for on an Assisted Tour

5 Things to Look for on an Assisted Tour

Dear Donna,

My mom has been living on her own for several years now. She recently gave up driving and now relies on my husband and me for transportation. Because our lives are already pretty hectic, she’s more isolated than I’d like for her to be.

We finally convinced her to at least consider moving to an assisted living community, and we’d like to take a tour of some local communities. What should we ask and look for on these tours?

Stacey Lawrence Holland, Michigan

Make the Most of Your Assisted Living Tour

Dear Stacey:

The move to an assisted living residence sounds like an ideal solution for your mom and your family. Taking time to visit and get to know local communities is the best way to make an informed decision. The key to making the most of your visit is asking the right questions.

5 Things to do When Touring Assisted Living Communities

Before you start the tour, consider what is important to your mother in a community. What type of lifestyle does she want to experience there? What amenities are most desirable? What is your family’s budget? The answers to these questions will help you narrow your search even before you take a tour.

Once you arrive at an assisted living community, there are plenty of other things to learn. Here are 5 things you should do during every tour.

  1. Observe the interactions between staff and residents.

Luxurious amenities are not as important as courteous, helpful, and trained staff. Watch how staff members treat and speak to those they care for. What you see is a good indicator of what your mom can expect. Also ask about the community’s hiring practices and training programs.

  1. Talk to residents.

An impromptu, friendly conversation with current residents may provide even more information than a tour with staff can. Ask if they have had any serious issues with the community, including thefts. Ask about the quality of meals and activities. You might even ask if they have a resident council. If they do, ask to speak to the resident in charge of it.

  1. Ask if there is a waiting list.

While it may be inconvenient, a waiting list is often a good sign. It means the community is in high demand and indicates financial stability. The possibility of a waiting list is also why it’s better to start the search for assisted living before a crisis occurs.

  1. Ask how the community bills for services and accepts payments.

Most assisted living communities assess level of care charges according to the amount of care and support each resident receives. The size and style of their apartment or suite also impacts monthly fees. Make sure you understand what to expect.

  1. Ask for a copy of the contract before you decide.

A community’s standard contract should include information on how it serves residents as they age and their needs increase. It should also note payment terms, and any costs associated with leaving the community. If possible, have a trusted attorney review the contract. He or she can explain the agreement and identify potential concerns.

Leading Provider of Assisted Living in Michigan

Heritage is proud to be recognized as one of the leading providers of assisted living care in the state of Michigan. Our family-owned business has been serving older adults in the Great Lake state for three generations.

In Western Michigan, we’re pleased to serve families in Holland at our Appledorn Assisted Living community. Call us today to schedule a private tour at your convenience.