Respite Care: Support for Seniors When Families Can’t Be There

Respite Care: Support for Seniors When Families Can’t Be There

Respite care is a way for your senior loved one to receive temporary care when their usual caregiver needs a break.

This type of care may be provided in your loved one’s home, or it may involve a short stay in a senior living community. Respite care may last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on individual need.

Here are the answers to some common questions about respite care.

When is Respite Care a Good Solution?

There are many different reasons why you might consider respite care for your senior loved one.

  • Their home has become uninhabitable, perhaps due home modifications or renovations.
  • They have undergone surgery and need additional care before they can return home.
  • Their usual caregiver is going out of town or simply needs time away from caregiving.
  • They want to experience a senior living community before relocating permanently.

What Respite Care Options are There, and How Do You Find Them?

There is a wide variety of respite care options. If you need a day-long break from caregiving to do other things or just to relax, you could look for day programs that provide socializing opportunities and activities like games, physical exercise, or music therapy. Some programs provide counseling, personal care, and physical or speech therapy.

For longer stays, you might look for a senior living community nearby or find someone who can provide overnight care in your loved one’s home.

Once you know what you’re looking for, there are many ways to find it.

  • Contact the local agency on aging to ask if they maintain a list of respite care options.
  • Check with friends and family who are caregivers for a senior they love.
  • Talk with your family member’s primary care physician.
  • Ask local senior communities about their respite care program.
  • Call the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association’s or visit locating community resources on their website.

Once you find a location, call and ask the staff questions to address any concerns you may have. Their answers will give you some insight in to how they treat those in their care.

How Much Does Respite Care Cost?

The cost of respite care will vary widely depending on the type of care involved and how long it is needed. Ask the respite care provider about payment options or sliding scale fees. Long-term care insurance may also be able to help pay for respite care.

Local, state, or federal government programs are other potential sources of financial assistance. Local agencies on aging or Alzheimer’s Association branches may be able to answer questions about funding respite care.

Need Respite Care for a Loved One?

Heritage communities offer short-term respite care in comfortable apartments with delicious meals and social activities. Contact us to ask questions or to schedule a private tour.

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

According to the National Council on Aging, falling is the most common cause of injuries among people aged 65 and older. These injuries, such as hip fractures and concussions, may be severe and even life-threatening.

Besides injuries, falling risk can make older adults anxious and unwilling to be more active, limiting quality of life.

So what are some ways to prevent falls for your senior loved one?

7 Steps to Reduce the Risk for Senior Falls


  1. Remove tripping hazards.

Caregivers and their senior loved ones should perform a walkthrough of the home to look for risks that can be removed or repaired.

  • Clean up clutter to keep floor space open.
  • Move items such as plant pots, magazine racks, and power cords out of high-traffic areas.
  • Repair uneven floorboards or loose carpet.
  • Anchor rugs with double-sided tape.
  1. Improve home lighting.

Make sure there is adequate lighting in the home, especially at the top and bottom of staircases, on front porches and stoops, and inside the main door.

Also make sure there is lighting available when getting up in the middle of the night. Keep a flashlight by the bed and check the batteries regularly.

  1. Install handles and grab bars.

Make sure your loved one has something to hold on to when sitting, standing, and getting in or out of the shower. Be sure that bars and handles are installed where they will actually be used.

Handles can also help in other areas, such as hallways. Also, make sure that there are railings on both sides of staircases.

  1. Avoid clothing that can cause falls.

Seniors can help avoid falls by wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes. They should be well-fitting with non-skid soles.

Wear clothing that is comfortable without being baggy. Make sure pants are hemmed and do not drag on the floor.

  1. Stay physically active to avoid falls.

While it sounds counterintuitive, staying physically active can help reduce your senior loved one’s risk of falling.

In particular, practicing tai chi or water aerobics can help improve balance, flexibility, and strength.

  1. Keep up with regular checkups.

Regular hearing and vision checks can help seniors avoid objects that could make them trip or lose their balance. Checkups can also help a loved one monitor or avoid other risk factors for falling, such as dizziness and joint pain.

  1. Discuss falling concerns with a physician.

If fear of falling is interfering with your senior loved one’s quality of life, discuss this with a physician. They may recommend referring your loved one to a physical therapist. They can also evaluate your loved one’s medications and adjust them if necessary since many medicines may carry side effects that increase fall risk.

Senior Falls May be Avoided

With enough precaution and monitoring, your senior loved one can continue to enjoy a high quality of life free of falls and the injuries they cause.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we strive to maintain healthy, safe residences that allow seniors to live full, active lives. Contact us to learn more, including details about our newer locations in Holland and Saline, Michigan.

5 Lifestyle Changes that Can Lower Your Risk for Cancer

5 Lifestyle Changes that Can Lower Your Risk for Cancer

Many people resolve to live healthier lives in January, but February is another good time to consider healthy lifestyle changes. That’s because it’s National Cancer Prevention Month.

What are 5 lifestyle changes that may help lower your risk of cancer?

Healthy Choices to Reduce Cancer Risk

Different things can influence a person’s risk of developing cancer, including family history and lifestyle. While you may not be able to change your genetics to reduce your cancer risk, you can make other healthy changes.

  1. Get more exercise.

You may already know that physical activity is good for your heart and weight. Did you also know it can help reduce your risk of some types of cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, higher levels of exercise can help reduce the risk of breast, colon, and endometrial cancers. Research also suggests that a sedentary lifestyle can increase your cancer risk, so any exercise is better than none.

  1. Quit smoking.

Smoking harms more than just your lungs. It accounts for about 30 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths, the American Cancer Society reports. Besides lung cancer, it can also increase the risk of mouth, throat, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.

Of course, quitting is easier said than done. If you smoke, talk to your physician about your options for kicking the habit.

  1. Limit exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.

Many substances we encounter in our daily lives can influence our cancer risk. You may not be able to change everything about your environment, but there are some choices you can make to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

  • Avoid dry cleaning or choose dry cleaners that use environmentally friendly materials
  • Don’t use pesticides or herbicides in your garden
  • Store cleaning products safely and wear protective equipment, such as gloves, when using them
  1. Cut back on red and processed meats.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has found that eating too much processed meat, like lunch meats and hot dogs, can increase your risk of colorectal cancer. The institute’s study indicates that the risk increases by 16 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten daily (about one hot dog).

Researchers also suggest that high consumption of red meat, including beef and pork, can increase cancer risk. Instead, increase your consumption of fish and leaner meats like chicken.

  1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

The institute’s study also found a link between low intake of fruits and vegetables (less than 1 cup a day) and higher risk of colorectal cancer. Consumption of foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and spinach, also may help lower colorectal cancer risk. Try to eat at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, and incorporate them into every meal and snack.

A healthy lifestyle can lower your cancer risk.

Heritage Senior Living Communities make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to learn about our dining programs and exercise activities.

How Michigan Seniors Can Stay Active This Winter

How Michigan Seniors Can Stay Active This Winter

Physical activity has been shown to improve health, memory, sleep, and the overall quality of life for seniors. It might be a bit more challenging to stay active this winter in Michigan and require seniors and family caregivers to take a few extra precautions to stay safe and healthy.

Tip for Senior Fitness during the Winter

Take a walk outside.

On more mild winter days, a walk outside isn’t out of the question. A walk around the block can provide seniors with mental stimulation and the physical benefits of exercise.

Make sure you dress appropriately and wear a hat, gloves, and comfortable shoes with good traction. If it is sunny, take measures to protect your eyes and skin.

Be careful of icy spots:

  • Keep rock salt near the door to scatter on your walkways.
  • Ask a friend or relative to help you clear away snow and ice.
  • Inside, immediately take off your shoes and change any clothes that have gotten wet.

Take walks indoors.

When the weather outside is frightful (or you just don’t feel like bundling up), there are plenty of places with indoor walking options:

  • Museums and art galleries
  • Aquariums
  • Malls, other shopping centers, and even supermarkets
  • Fitness centers with walking tracks

You can even workout in the safety of your own home. March in place, do stretches, or lift weights while you watch TV. Borrow workout videos from the library, or search YouTube for videos that can guide you through easy fitness routines.

Join a gym or YMCA.

Gyms are full of senior-friendly exercise options, including free weights, walking tracks, and treadmills. Staff members and personal trainers can help you create an individual fitness routine.

If possible, look for a facility with a pool. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise, as it is low-impact and provides a full-body workout.

Many YMCAs in Michigan offer programs tailored to individuals with specific conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes.

Stay fit with a video game.

Many video games let you golf, bowl, and even bike right in the middle of your living room. Xbox and Nintendo Wii are two of the most popular consoles for fitness games, but there are many other options.

Caregivers, friends, or relatives can help seniors choose, hook up, and learn to use the video games. Most of these games can be used individually or in groups, making them great social activities.

Sign up for a class.

Many community organizations offer classes that can help you get moving, such as yoga or Pilates. Ask local libraries, senior centers, rec centers, and churches about classes they may have.

Even if an organization doesn’t provide classes, someone may be able to direct you to social groups based on physical activities, such as walking or swimming clubs.

Let the experts help.

At Heritage Senior Communities, you don’t have to worry about winter inactivity. Each of our locations offers a variety of activities year-round, including a daily exercise schedule, fitness rooms with exercise equipment, and Wii bowling.

Contact the experts at Heritage Senior Communities to learn more about how we help seniors lead healthy, joyful lives.

It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

While it can be difficult to quit smoking at any age, it can be much tougher for older adults addicted to nicotine. The added difficulty often comes from the mistaken belief that it’s too late to benefit from giving up smoking.

Older adults who continue to smoke into their sixties and seventies often believe that the damage has been done and that it’s too late to reverse it. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. There are positive benefits from giving up smoking no matter how old you are.

Why It’s Never Too Late to Benefit from Giving up Smoking

If you or an older adult in your life wants to quit smoking, keep two things in mind. First, you can quit no matter how many times you’ve been unsuccessful at it in the past. Second, you will experience health benefits almost immediately after quitting.

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience in just the first 3-4 days after you stop smoking:

  • Within 30 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal
  • Your lungs will begin to clear after less than 48 hours
  • In less than 72 hours, your body will be free of nicotine
  • Within 4 days, it will be easier to breathe and your energy level will increase

These benefits do not depend on age— you will experience them no matter how old you are.

The Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking at Any Age

Four long-term smoking cessation benefits you or your senior loved one will experience include:

  1. Reduced Rates of Common Illnesses

Non-smokers get sick much less frequently than smokers do. They have significantly lower rates of colds, bronchitis, and the flu. This is just as true for someone who quits when they’re in their seventies or eighties as it is for a 30-year-old.

  1. More Money in Your Pocket

Smokers begin to save hundreds of dollars a month the moment they give up the habit. This is definitely a benefit that doesn’t depend on age. And having a few thousand dollars extra each year is a good thing no matter how old you are!

  1. Decreased Risk of Heart Disease

Smoking is the number one cause of heart attacks and smokers are at much higher risk for them than non-smokers. No matter what age you are when you quit smoking, the risk of heart disease begins to decrease within 24 hours and continues to decline as long as you abstain.

  1. Reduced Cancer Risk

Giving up smoking at any age will help to immediately reduce the risk of several forms of cancer, including cancer of the lung, colon, esophagus and throat. Even those who have already been diagnosed with cancer will benefit from an improved immune system.

This is just a small sampling of the benefits associated with smoking cessation. And remember—these benefits have nothing to do with age.

Quit Smoking, Start Benefitting

Do not let anything deter you or your senior loved one from experiencing the wide array of health benefits that come from giving up smoking. Even if you’ve tried to quit a dozen times before, you can still succeed and improve your quality of life significantly.

The team at Heritage Senior Living hopes this information serves to encourage and inspire you. We also hope you’ll return to our Senior Care Blog often for more tips on aging well.


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Is Your Senior Loved One Ready for Michigan Winter Storms?

Is Your Senior Loved One Ready for Michigan Winter Storms?

Michigan winters are particularly challenging for seniors and caregivers. Cold, snowy months increase the risks of falls, fires, and isolation. Caregivers can take the following steps to help older adults prepare for winter storms.

Helping a Senior Prepare for a Michigan Winter

Prepare homes for winter.

When tackling winter preparedness for a senior loved one, caregivers should have homes checked for safety hazards and maintenance issues:

  • Windows can be sealed and weatherproofed to prevent drafts and keep heating bills low.
  • Check furnaces, air filters, and water heaters to make sure they are working properly. Decide how you will tackle snow removal, such as purchasing a snow blower, keeping a snow shovel on hand, or hiring a neighbor to help clear driveways.

Reduce potential fire hazards.

Older adults are at higher risk for injury in a home fire than younger adults. Take extra precautions to ensure safety:

  • Check that electrical cords are in safe condition.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.
  • Use extra regular blankets, not an electric blanket as it can be a fire hazard.
  • Consider replacing traditional candles with “flameless” varieties.
  • Dispose of trees, wreaths, and other holiday greenery that has dried out.

Keep vehicles in good shape.

Both seniors and caregivers may want to have their cars serviced as soon as possible.

  • Maintain oil and antifreeze levels.
  • Keep gas tanks full to prevent ice in the fuel lines.
  • Make sure that the car’s windshield wipers, brakes, battery, and radiator are in good shape.
  • Check the tread on the vehicle’s tires, and have the tires replaced if necessary.
  • Keep emergency supplies in the car, including a flashlight or flares, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit.

Create a home emergency preparedness kit.

With a basic emergency kit, older adults can stay safe even in the worst weather and loss of power. Keep these items in a place where your loved one can reach them quickly and easily.

This kit might include:

  • Bottled water
  • A thermal blanket
  • Non-perishable foods
  • A flashlight with spare batteries

Since telephone “land lines” are more likely to be damaged in a snowstorm, consider giving your loved one a prepaid cell phone loaded with emergency numbers.

Dress warmly and appropriately.

When dressing for winter, the key phrase is “loose layers.” These layers create air pockets that help insulate from the cold, especially on windy days.

Remove snowy shoes when you come inside, and be sure to change out of clothes that have become damp. This not only keeps you warmer, but helps prevent slippery conditions that can lead to falls. Look for shoes that have good traction and non-skid soles.

For seniors with dementia, winter weather can increase anxiety and the tendency to wander. Caregivers might want to consider a tracking device to help find a loved one who becomes lost.

Get peace of mind in winter weather.

At Heritage Senior Communities, our caring staff members provide services and support that improve a senior’s quality of life year-round, in all weather.

Wellness checks, social activities, medication assistance, and housekeeping are just a few of the amenities we offer at our locations. Visit us online to learn more about Heritage Senior Communities and what type of residence is right for your loved one.


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