What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

Dear Donna,

I am trying to help my parents find a senior living community. I am not sure if I should be looking for an independent living community or an assisted living community.

Can you please explain the difference between independent living and assisted living?

Sincerely,

Vanessa from Holland, MI

 

Understanding the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

 

Dear Vanessa,

It’s common to have trouble understanding the difference between independent living and assisted living. Having so many senior living options available can be overwhelming for families. However, it’s crucial to fully understand your options if you want to ensure you help your senior parents make the right decision.

In the simplest terms, independent living is for healthy seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Assisted living is for seniors who need support to maintain their independence.

Amount of Assistance Needed

The primary difference between assisted living communities and independent living communities is the amount of care provided to their residents.

Assisted living communities usually have around-the-clock assistance available. Professional caregivers are available 24/7 to support seniors with everyday activities like preparing meals and managing medications. If your senior parents can’t spend more than a few days alone without jeopardizing their health or safety, then assisted living is likely for them.

Independent living communities, on the other hand, are more suitable for healthy seniors who don’t need much assistance. Many communities offer amenities that can significantly improve their quality of life. A few common services include meal plans, cleaning services, and maintenance.

Reasons for Moving

The reasons for moving are also different between seniors who choose assisted living versus those who select independent living.

Seniors who move to an assisted living community usually do so because they need some form of assistance to remain independent. A few common reasons seniors choose assisted living include:

  • Needing help with activities of daily living.
  • Having trouble maintaining their home.
  • Struggling to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • Having a health condition that requires supervision.
  • Wanting to give their families peace of mind that they are safe.

Seniors who choose independent living often move to have their desired lifestyle. A few common reasons seniors move to independent living communities include:

  • Being a part of a community with people who are their age and share similar interests.
  • Enjoying their retirement years without many of the responsibilities that come with home ownership.
  • Having easy access to the services and amenities offered at that particular community.

Financing Options Available

Another factor that varies between assisted living and independent living is the financing options available.

Because seniors usually choose assisted living for health and safety reasons, they are often able to find resources to lower their out-of-pocket expenses. A few common resources include long-term care insurance, employee benefits programs, VA benefits, and Medicaid.

The cost of independent living varies due to multiple factors including the type of housing, the amenities offered, and the services provided. Because it’s considered a choice to live there, it usually doesn’t qualify for any financial assistance.

I hope this helps you decide which senior living option is best for your parents.

Regards,

Donna

 

Heritage Senior Communities Helps Families Understand Their Options

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living location, provide support to help families decide which senior living option is best for their loved ones. If you are an adult children or family member who is having trouble understanding the difference between assisted living and independent living, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!

 

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?

Sincerely,

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!

Sincerely,

Donna

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?

Sincerely,

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!

Regards,

Donna

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.

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Dear Donna,

My children had a great relationship with their grandfather until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

After he moved to assisted living, their relationship began to deteriorate. Every time my kids visit him, they complain that they are bored and constantly ask when they can go home.

I want my children to spend time with their grandfather, but I am struggling to make their time together enjoyable.

What are some fun activities that kids can do with a grandparent who has Alzheimer’s disease?

Sincerely,

Yolanda in Holland, MI

 

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s

 

Dear Yolanda,

It can be difficult for grandchildren to connect with loved ones after a move to assisted living. Alzheimer’s makes finding activities that both kids and their grandparents can enjoy even more complicated. But the relationship between children and their grandparents is important.

For children, spending time with their grandparents exposes them to new wisdom and knowledge, as well as a different perspective.

Relationships also become more important for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Spending time with grandchildren can make them feel important and bring them the sense of connectedness that they often lose as their disease progresses.

Here are a few activities that can be fun for both children and older loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

 

Activities Kids and Grandparents Can Do Together

 

Gardening

Gardening is a common past time for older adults, and it can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Many older adults lose their sense of purpose after they are diagnosed with the disease. Gardening can help bring it back by giving them something to take care of.

Gardening is an activity that adults with Alzheimer’s and kids can do together. Your senior loved one will enjoy being able to pass their knowledge about gardening to their grandkids. In turn, your kids will learn a new skill. Kids and grandparents can even decorate the pots they are going to use.

 

Bird Watching

Bird watching is another great activity that kids and their grandparents can both enjoy. Purchase some birdhouses—you can even purchase plain houses and decorate them together.

Put birdfeed in the houses and set them up around the yard. You will all have a great time watching the birds eat. You can even purchase a bird reference guide and watch as your loved ones try to identify the birds in the yard.

 

Create a Family Tree

A family tree can be an excellent opportunity for children to create memories with their grandparents. It can also be a learning experience for your children to see where they came from.

For adults with Alzheimer’s, it can be a great way for them to reminisce. This can be therapeutic and stimulate their memory.

Get a poster board and have them draw out their family tree. Gather family photos and place them on the tree. Include names and birthdays.

 

Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

 

Many memory care programs—like the one at Appledorn’s Heritage Senior Communities location—offer a variety of opportunities for kids to do activities with grandparents.

Contact us to learn more about specialized dementia care at Appledorn Assisted Living Center South.

I hope this helps you come up with fun activities for your kids to enjoy with their grandfather. You won’t regret encouraging a relationship between your kids and their grandfather. Your kids will be thankful you did as well.

Sincerely,

Donna

Dear Donna: What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

Dear Donna: What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

Dear Donna,

My parents recently decided to move to a senior living community, and they asked me to assist them with the transition. I’d love to help them as much as possible, but I have no idea where to start.

A friend of mine told me I should hire a senior move manager. Can you explain what a senior move manager does and how they can help us make this transition go more smoothly?

Sincerely,

Patricia in Saline, MI

 

Understanding the Role of a Senior Move Manager

 

Dear Patricia,

A senior move manager is a professional that assists older adults when they relocate. One of the best things about move managers is that you can hire them to help you manage the entire move or with specific activities.

The main benefit of a senior move manager is their expertise. They have extensive knowledge of senior moves, including cost, quality, and the availability of resources in the community. As a result, employing them can save you time, money, and resources.

Here are a few things senior move managers can do to help seniors relocate.

 

What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

 

  1. Create a Centralized Process

As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate. Tackling the logistics of a senior move can be overwhelming, especially if your loved ones have a lot of belongings.

Move managers can help create an easier transition to assisted living by establishing a centralized moving process for you and your parents. They can handle every aspect of the move and prevent you from having to call a different company for each service.

  1. Develop a Plan

This is likely your first time helping older loved ones move to a senior living community. So it’s understandable that you don’t know what to expect or what services you should consider. Move managers can help seniors and families develop a plan of action based on your senior loved one’s needs.

Senior move managers can help you with the following:

  • Develop a timeline. Senior move managers specialize in moving seniors. They can help you develop a realistic timeline and come up with a checklist of everything that needs to be done for a successful move.
  • Measure your space. By measuring how much space your parents will have in their new community, senior move managers can help identify exactly how much they can bring with them.
  • Come up with a floor plan. Because they specialize in moving older adults, senior move managers understand their needs. They can help your parents come up with a floor plan suited to their lifestyle.
  1. Make Decisions About Belongings

Making decisions about what to keep is one of the most demanding challenges when it comes to senior moves. Their new home is likely smaller, which will require them to make decisions about what to keep, sell, and donate.

Seniors move managers can help in the following ways:

  • Organizing and sorting. They can help seniors decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
  • Move managers can help seniors downsize by arranging the removal of items they decide to get rid of. This includes auctions, estate sales, buy-outs, consignment, donation, or a combination of these.
  • Arrange shipments and storage. A time-consuming job, senior move managers can help with logistics.
  • They can help you pack, label, and find a way to track your items.
  1. Help seniors move, unpack and settle in their new home

Senior move managers know that the hard work of a move doesn’t end with packing. They can also help seniors get their belongings to their new home by doing the following:

  • Moving belongings to the new place. Many senior move managers are also movers. If they are not, they can assist by interviewing, scheduling, and overseeing the movers.
  • Helping seniors unpack on moving day. Senior move managers will make sure all the furniture is in place according to the plan.
  • Assisting seniors set up their technology. Before they leave, senior move managers can make sure the internet, phone, and computer are ready to use.

 

Senior Move Managers Understand Seniors

 

One factor that differentiates senior move managers from traditional moving companies is their deep understanding of the emotional and physical aspects that are unique to a senior move. Moving can be hard, especially for seniors who are moving because they are no longer able to live on their own. Senior move managers know this and do their best to make the transition as smooth as possible.

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

I hope this gives you a better understanding of senior move managers, Patricia. Best of luck with the move

Sincerely,

Donna

 

How Can I Prepare My Mother for an Easier Transition to Assisted Living?

How Can I Prepare My Mother for an Easier Transition to Assisted Living?

Dear Donna,

My mother and I recently decided it would be best for her to move to an assisted living community. Her mobility has declined considerably, and we feel they will be able to help her with her everyday activities.

This is our first time going through this process. I want it to go as smoothly as possible, but I have no idea where to start.

How can I prepare my mother for an easier transition to assisted living? 

Carly in Saline, M

 

Making a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living

 

Dear Carly,

Many family members find it difficult to help their loved ones transition to an assisted living community. For most of them, it’s not something they’ve ever done, which makes it difficult to know where to begin.

Here are 5 things to do to make the transition to assisted living easier for your mother.

  1. Select a Realistic Move-In Date

The first thing you should do is help your mother select an official move-in date. Select a date that gives you plenty of time to pack, clean, and downsize as needed.

Having an official move-in date will give you a timeframe of exactly how long you have to prepare. From there, you can begin to plan when tasks need to be done to keep you on track.

  1. Get the Measurements of Your Mother’s New Space

Finding out how much space she has will help you determine how much she can keep. If possible, try to get a printed copy of the floor plan. This way, you can plan exactly where everything is going to go. On move-in day, you will be thankful you did this when you can tell the movers exactly where to put everything.

  1. Start Organizing Early

Organizing is often the most challenging and time-consuming task. For that reason, you want to start early.

The space your mother will be moving into is most likely going to be smaller than her current space. This will require her to downsize.

Don’t forget to organize important papers and documents. Here are a few documents you will want to gather:

  • Driver’s license
  • Care registration
  • Credit cards
  • Bank, retirement, and investment account information
  • Medicare and Social Security information
  1. Get Estimates From Moving Companies

After you settle on a date for the move to assisted living, start getting quotes from moving companies. Once you find a company you like, schedule your appointment immediately. Reputable moving companies often have pretty busy schedules!

  1. Schedule Dates for Utilities to be Turned Off or Transferred

A few weeks before her move-in date, help her start to tackle her home services. Call and schedule times for utility companies to disconnect her phone, cable, internet, electricity, gas, water, and any other recurring services. Have her mail, newspaper, and magazine subscriptions forwarded to her new home.

 

The Most Important Thing You Can Do Is Be There

 

The most important thing you can do to help a senior loved one transition to assisted living is to be there. Physically help them pack belongings, listen to their concerns, and talk them through their hesitations

Moving can be stressful for anyone. After all, it is a major life transition. Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to make the transition to assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.

Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions!

Sincerely,

Donna