3 Ways Assisted Living Is Different Than a Nursing Home

3 Ways Assisted Living Is Different Than a Nursing Home

Dear Donna,

My mom fell recently, and she no longer feels safe on her own. She wants to find an independent living arrangement where she can have access to assistance if needed. We have narrowed down her options to an assisted living community or a nursing home, but are having trouble understanding how they differ.

How is assisted living different than a nursing home?

Lauren from Saline, MI

Understanding the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Dear Lauren,

It’s common for family caregivers to have difficulty understanding the difference between assisted living and nursing homes. Many families lack experience with senior living and feel unprepared to make decisions about their loved one’s care.

Understanding their differences is the first step toward helping a loved one find an option that meets their needs.

3 Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

  1. Amount of care provided.

The main difference between an assisted living community and a nursing home is the amount of care provided. Nursing homes offer a higher level of care. If your loved one requires ample assistance with activities of daily living, needs medical care, or is unable to move without help, they would likely benefit from a nursing home.

Seniors who require assistance with personal care and the activities of daily living will typically benefit from assisted living. Seniors may move to assisted living communities because they suffer from mobility issues or have a minor cognitive impairment.

  1. Type of living space.

Another difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities is the living space. A nursing home resident typically shares a bedroom and bathroom with one other person, although some do offer private suites. There are fewer common areas than in an assisted living community and little to no outdoor space. This is largely because nursing homes are primarily designed for seniors who need more complex medical care. Nursing homes often resemble a hospital.

Assisted living communities, on the other hand, offer more independence and privacy. Residents live in private or shared apartments. Most apartments have small kitchenettes and a living room. Assisted living apartments more closely resemble a luxury apartment with common living spaces and plenty of outdoor areas to enjoy nature.

  1. Activities offered to residents.

Because nursing homes are designed for seniors who need medical care, they offer limited life enrichment programs. Some nursing homes have staff or volunteers who work one-on-one with residents, such as reading to them or helping write letters.

Assisted living communities typically offer a full schedule of activities to keep residents socially active and engaged. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, publishes a calendar full of social events and outings every month. Seniors can participate in a variety of options including chair yoga, family night, and church services.

Finding Senior Care for a Loved One Takes Time

Navigating the maze of senior care options takes time and patience. By carefully exploring each option, you can help your senior loved one make a decision that enhances their quality of life.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of the differences between nursing homes and assisted living!



Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, are fully licensed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as homes for the aged. This means we support and care for our residents in a comfortable, home-like setting. To learn more about our communities, we invite you to schedule a private tour.

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I have been feeling lonely lately, but I am having trouble connecting with people who understand the challenges I am facing. I am interested in joining an online support group, but unsure where to start.

How do I connect with an online caregiver support group?

Laura from Saline, MI

Online Support Groups for Caregivers

Dear Laura,

Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease can be lonely, especially if you don’t have anyone to talk to about your challenges. An online support group can be a great resource to connect with caregivers experiencing similar difficulties.

Here are a few benefits of an online support group:

  • They are available any time of day.
  • You can swap advice with other caregivers.
  • For some, it is more comfortable to confide in an online group than in-person.
  • You have access to a pool of resources.

Connecting with an Online Caregiver Support Group

  1. Find your group

When joining a support group, be selective. Find a group that is friendly, helpful, and engaged. You can use a few methods to find a group:

  • Organizations: Organizations that support your loved one’s condition or situation can be a great way to find a group. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, consult the Alzheimer’s Association. Ask them if they lead any online support groups or if they can refer any to you.
  • Recommendations: Asking for recommendations is another great way to find a group. You can ask friends and family, or any other person you trust.
  • Social media: Social media is another resource for finding groups. Facebook and LinkedIn host groups and allow you to search for them directly on their platform. They will even let you know how many members belong to the group and how many posts were recently shared.
  1. Learn the community

Once you find a group you are interested in, take time to read the community guidelines. On Facebook, the group will often allow you to view the group rules before you request to join.

Before participating, observe the conversations happening in the group. Pay attention to how members interact with one another. Once you feel like you understand their culture and etiquette, you can introduce yourself. Many groups have a thread dedicated to new member introductions.

  1. Start engaging

Once you’ve introduced yourself and have a good understanding of the culture, you can join conversations. Remember that online relationships work the same way as in-person relationships. It’s great to ask questions, but also offer support from your own experiences when you can.

Finding Emotional Support Through Online Groups

Regardless of what group you join, participating in a caregiver support group can provide you with the emotional support you need to complete your duties and be there for your loved one.

I hope this helps you find and connect with an online caregiver support group!




Heritage Senior Communities

Many of our senior communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living community, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us today to learn more about our memory care programs.

Decoding Senior Living Lingo

Decoding Senior Living Lingo

Dear Donna,

I am helping my parents explore their senior living options. I keep coming across terminology I have never heard before.

Can you help me decode senior living lingo?



Understanding Senior Living Lingo

Dear Tina,

Senior living is a new topic for most families, so it’s understandable that many become overwhelmed when they start exploring their options. On top of that, the industry is complicated and full of jargon. Here are a few common terms you may come across during your search for senior living:

  • Activities of daily living (ADLs): The everyday self-care tasks a person must be able to complete to remain independent. These tasks commonly include feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and moving from one place to another.
  • Adult day care: A program for adults who need supervision or support during the day.
  • Aging in place: When a person chooses to live in their home as they age.
  • Assisted living: A community that provides seniors with the support they need to perform necessary daily tasks while maintaining as much independence as possible.
  • Continuum of care: The variety of senior care options available at a community. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, offers independent living, licensed assisted living, specialized dementia care, and respite care.
  • Convalescent home: A home that provides short-term care and recovery to patients after major surgery or long-term illness.
  • Home care: Nonmedical assistance provided to seniors in their home. Services typically include those that enable the senior to live on their own.
  • Home health care: Health care services given at the senior’s home to help them recover from an illness or injury. Services may include wound care, patient and caregiver education, or monitoring a health condition.
  • Hospice: A type of care that occurs at the end of a person’s life. It focuses on improving their comfort and quality of life as opposed to trying to cure them.
  • Independent living: A senior living option that allows seniors to maintain their independence without the responsibilities that come with owning a home.
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs): The activities necessary for fundamental living, but not necessary to live independently. They include tasks like managing finances and transportation.
  • Long-term care: Medical or support services provided to seniors who have lost some or all of their ability to function. It usually refers to nursing home care.
  • Nursing home: A temporary place to stay that provides 24-hour nursing care for residents with chronic conditions.
  • Occupational therapy: A type of therapy that helps seniors relearn activities of daily living.
  • Palliative care: A type of care that specializes in relieving pain and chronic suffering for patients. Similar to hospice care, palliative care focuses on improving the senior’s overall quality of life. The main difference is that palliative care can begin at diagnosis, while hospice care only begins when it’s clear that the illness is life-limiting.
  • Physical therapy: A type of therapy that introduces specific exercises to improve physical mobility, strength, and overall functioning. It is usually provided after a fall, stroke, or other accident.
  • Sandwich generation: Adult children who care for both their aging parents and their own children.
  • Senior apartments: Housing units for independent adults who meet a minimum age requirement.
  • Senior Move Manager: Professionals that specialize in helping seniors relocate.
  • Respite care: Care that temporarily relieves a primary caregiver from their caregiving responsibilities. This type of care may be provided in the senior’s home or during a short stay in a senior living community. Respite care may last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on individual need.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about senior living. Hopefully, this gives you a good start!



Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, offers support to seniors and their families exploring senior living options. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

4 Ways to Cope with Repetitive Alzheimer’s Questions

4 Ways to Cope with Repetitive Alzheimer’s Questions

Dear Donna,

My dad has Alzheimer’s disease, and it causes him to ask the same questions over and over again. I know he can’t help it, but it is frustrating to repeat myself all the time.

How can I cope with my dad’s repetitive questions?

Kendra from Holland, MI

Coping with Repetitive Questions

Dear Kendra,

Repetitive behaviors like asking the same questions are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The damage the disease causes to short-term memory can make it difficult to learn, retain, and recall new information. This means seniors with Alzheimer’s often struggle to remember questions they have already asked, even if it was only moments ago.

Regardless, repetitive questions can be stressful for even the most patient caregivers.

4 Ways Caregivers Can Handle Repetitive Questions

  1. Distract and redirect

Redirection is a useful technique to reduce repetitive questions. Redirection involves giving a senior with Alzheimer’s something else to focus on. This is intended to distract them from their repeated question.

If a loved one with dementia is repeating the same question, answer them and then immediately redirect their attention. You can redirect them to anything from their favorite hobby to a simple chore, like folding laundry.

  1. Identify the trigger

In most cases, there is a reason why someone with Alzheimer’s is asking you the same question repeatedly. Identifying and addressing these triggers can be a great way to reduce certain questions. Sometimes, caregivers can prevent a certain question altogether by removing a specific item from their environment.

For example, a photo of their granddaughter may cause a loved one with Alzheimer’s to ask where she is. You may notice that every time they look at the photo, they ask about their granddaughter. By removing the picture, you eliminate the trigger that sparks the question.

  1. Provide meaningful activities

Sometimes, seniors with dementia engage in repetitive behaviors because they are anxious or agitated. Repetition is a way to alleviate their discomfort. Other times, they are seeking comfort in knowing what is going on in their environment. Caregivers can reduce their anxiety with a meaningful activity.

A few helpful activities include:

  • Sorting old photographs
  • Folding clean laundry
  • Organizing stacks of papers
  • Knitting or crocheting
  1. Take breaks

Caregiving can be overwhelming. It’s important to take breaks regularly to avoid lashing out. If you can’t find anyone to help care for your loved one when you need rest, you may benefit from respite care.

Respite care services, such as those offered at Heritage Senior Communities, give seniors a safe place to stay temporarily while caregivers take a break.

Be Understanding of Their Disease

Being empathetic for a loved one’s condition can go a long way in helping you cope with their repetitive behavior. Remember that your loved one isn’t asking you the same questions over and over again to annoy you. They are unable to remember that they’ve already asked.

I hope this helps you cope with your dad’s repetitive questions.




Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Our Memory Care Communities, including our Appledorn location, are designed to reduce stress and enhance the lives of residents living with memory impairment. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

How Can I Help My Mom Manage Her Pre-Move Anxiety?

How Can I Help My Mom Manage Her Pre-Move Anxiety?

Dear Donna,

My mom is nervous about moving to an assisted living community. Even though the move was her idea, she has been avoiding preparations for the move. I am worried she is going to change her mind. How can I help my mom manage her pre-move anxiety?

Chelsea from Saline, MI

Understanding Pre-Move Anxiety

Dear Chelsea,

Moving requires a lot of work, so it’s understandable that many seniors become anxious. Not only can moving be physically demanding, but it can also be emotionally draining. Many homes contain years of memories and are full of sentimental treasures.

Just the thought of sorting through their belongings can prevent them getting started, even when they know they should. Here are a few tips to ease your loved one’s anxiety about moving.

4 Tips to Help Aging Parents Overcome Anxiety Before a Move

  1. Work slowly

Your loved one’s new living space is most likely going to be smaller than their current residence. This means they will need to downsize. Downsizing can be difficult for seniors, especially if they have lived in their home for a long time. They will be required to make a lot of decisions about what to bring, store, and discard.

It’s important to start early so your loved one has plenty of time to sort through their belongings. Feeling rushed might overwhelm them and cause them to put the process off indefinitely.

  1. Move before downsizing

Going through old photos and sentimental belongings can be particularly challenging for some seniors. Certain items can trigger memories that make them question their decision to move.

In cases like this, it may be helpful to move before downsizing so your loved one doesn’t have to watch. This can help lighten the emotional burden that often comes with a move. Just make sure they are okay with your plan and remember to be mindful about what you choose to discard.

  1. Create a plan

Planning is one of the best ways to ease a senior’s fears about moving. Not only can careful planning help you avoid chaos, but it can also give your loved one a sense of security.

If planning and organizing aren’t your strengths, consider hiring a senior move manager. Senior move managers are professionals who have a deep understanding of senior moves and the availability of resources in the community. They can help you with everything from creating a plan to setting up your loved one in their new home.

  1. Get involved in the community ahead of time

Participating in the community before the move can significantly reduce anxiety. Try taking your loved one to the community to meet the staff and the residents. Many senior living communities have activities scheduled throughout the day.

Trying an activity will give your loved one a chance to become familiar with the environment and connect with their future peers. This can help them feel more comfortable about the move, and they may even start to feel like part of the community.

Moving Is a Big Decision

Moving is a major life decision, so it’s important to be empathetic towards a senior loved one’s pre-move anxiety. Take time to let them know their feelings are valid and assure them you are there to help.

I hope this helps you relieve some of your mom’s pre-move anxiety.



Heritage Supports the Transition to Assisted Living

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, offers support to seniors transitioning to assisted living. Our communities are comfortable and designed to help seniors feel right at home. Contact us for more information.

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center for an Aging Parent

Dear Donna,

My dad recently had hip replacement surgery. His doctor recommended that he stay at a short-term rehab center before returning home.

How do we choose a skilled nursing and rehab center? We aren’t sure where and how to get our search started.

Jan from Holland, MI

Choosing a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center

Dear Jan,

It’s not uncommon for seniors to require additional assistance after they are discharged from the hospital. Skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers can be very effective at helping seniors regain their strength and reduce their chances of returning to the hospital.

Choosing a skilled nursing and rehab center is an important decision. You want to pick a center that works diligently to rehab your loved one so they can return home as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for is the first step to ensuring that your loved one finds a center that meets their needs.

4 Things to Consider When Comparing Skilled Nursing and Rehab Centers

  1. View the state survey results.

One step caregivers can take to find a skilled nursing center is to view the state survey results. Caregivers can do this easily by visiting Nursing Home Compare. Nursing Home Compare is a government-run website that allows you to find and compare nursing homes certified by Medicare and Medicaid. It gives you a quick snapshot of the center’s overall rating. You can also see how they rated in specific areas including performance on health and safety inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care.

  1. Ask the rehab center for its success in outcomes.

You are looking for a short-term stay that focuses on rehab. The goal is for your loved one to be healthy enough to return home. Asking the center about its success in outcomes—specifically those with the same health condition or injury as your loved one—is a great way to gauge whether their center will be a good fit.

  1. Visit the therapy room and talk to therapists.

When comparing communities, it’s also a good idea to visit their therapy room. Talk to the physical therapists and find out what types of therapy they offer. Ask about the frequency and duration of their therapy sessions. Be sure to ask them to estimate how long it may take for your loved one to recover in their care.

  1. Consider the location.

Also consider location when comparing assisted living communities. Choose a community that is close to friends and family. Being nearby will make it easier for loved ones to visit and ensure your senior parent feels supported and connected.

Making Sure Your Loved One Is Taken Care Of

Finding a skilled nursing and rehab center requires a lot of research. Taking time to learn about your options and visit centers is a great step towards making sure your loved one receives the care they deserve.

I hope this helps you find a skilled nursing and rehab center for your father parent.



Heritage Senior Communities

Many seniors struggle to regain the same level of health they had before their hospital visit. Assisted living can be an excellent option for those who want to reduce their risk of returning to the hospital.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our communities in Appledorn, is dedicated to helping seniors and their families find a living arrangement that meets their needs. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.