It is a simple fact of life that we will all age. While some of us will age healthier than others, there usually comes a time in everyone’s life when they must consider whether they should stay in their own homes or make the transition to a retirement community or nursing facility. In some cases, this decision may involve a temporary move to assist in recovering from an injury or an illness, while in other cases it may be a permanent transition. Although most of our readers are not at the age where these decisions come into play, many are dealing with these issues with their aging parents. Even if your parents (or other aging loved ones) are not experiencing memory or other issues that are impairing their function, they may still need your assistance when it comes to making living decisions.
Sometimes it can be difficult to realize that your parents may need some help. If they don’t live nearby, you may be relying on phone conversations and infrequent visits to determine their health and well-being, which isn’t reliable if they don’t tell you challenges they are experiencing. Even if they do live nearby and you see them often, they may be hiding the fact that they aren’t functioning well at home by themselves, either due to pride or not wanting to worry you.
Deb Maguire with The Waterford says, “The next time we gather with our families and friends, a harsh reality may hit some of us. Some of our loved ones may be more frail than they were the last time we saw them. We may begin to realize our precious time together is limited. Whether our concerns come from wondering if they are eating properly, taking their medications on time or bathing properly, finding out the answers to these hard questions may be difficult as they ability to hide them is easy for most seniors until it becomes too late. The real question may be do we know how our parents or grandparents want to be cared for if they become unable to do it on their own?”
“There are several warning signs to look for when you’re visiting your loved ones in their home,” points out Karla Frese with Savannah Pines. “If you notice any of the following situations during your visits, it may be time to discuss a retirement community as an option:
1. A change in appearance or condition of the home
3. Dirty or unkempt clothing
4. Unpaid bills
5. Fresh food replaced with “(junk) processed food”
6. Spoiled food in the fridge
7. Withdraw from current social activities, volunteering, clubs
8. Confusion or memory loss
10. Unfilled or not using of prescriptions
11. Change in personal hygiene
12. Lack of exercise
13. Evidence of weight loss or gain
14. Change in cognitive abilities
15. Vision challenges
16. Hesitation or inability to drive
“One way to begin the conversation with your aging loved one is to provide an example of someone you know who has received help and the positive impact it has made,” says Karla Frese with Savannah Pines. “We want to find ways to provide freedom and independence so your loved one can enjoy life and their families can receive peace of mind. Prepare before symptoms begin to show and look at the benefits of a retirement community.”
“Our families plan for weddings, the birth of a child, going off to college, and retirement,” adds Deb Maguire. “Rarely, if ever, do we plan for our final years in life. However, it is vital that thoughtful, serious, personal conversations take place about the kind of experiences we want for ourselves and for our loved ones. The time to learn about their wished for what care options are available is before it is needed.”
Staying in the Home
There are numerous benefits to staying in the home as you age. You are in familiar surroundings, often in a home you have raised children in, shared a life with a spouse in and made countless memories in. Perhaps you have friends or family nearby or are comfortable with the stores, services providers and amenities nearby. It’s no wonder that many seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible for the reasons above and many more. Fortunately, many can remain in their homes with no assistance or just a minimum of help. However, if you are finding that remaining in the home is posing problems for your loved one, you may need to consider other options.
Are you seeing that your loved ones need home care as they age? Have you thought about a nursing home or assisted living facility but want to keep them in their home for as long as possible? Are you starting to wear out because of the impact the senior care you’re providing is having at work and with your family members? Do you fear for a loved one’s safety?
“Everyone shares similar concerns about health care for our parents, grandparents and loved ones as they reach retirement age and beyond,” says Kimberly Griffith with Home Instead Senior Care. “Perhaps your mother gets confused and can’t keep her doctor appointments and medications straight. Or your dad seems depressed and doesn’t enjoy fishing anymore. Maybe your grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s needs regular attention while you’re at work. That’s when an in-home caregiver like those at Home Instead can come into the home and be the caregiver for you.
Home Instead Senior Care can help with compassionate, senior home care services delivered right in your loved one’s home. Whether a few hours a day or long-term care 24 hours a day, a CAREGiver can assist you. All CAREGivers are thoroughly screened, extensively trained, insured and bonded, matched to your preferences, professional and reliable.”
Health at Home Consultants is another powerful ally to helping your loved one stay in their home, especially if making their way to the doctor for regular appointments or when they are ill is difficult for them. Nurse practitioners can come into the home and provide healthcare while communicating with your loved one’s regular doctor to maintain a continuum of care.
Deciding to Move out of the Home
Greg Joyce with Legacy Retirement Communities says, “Seniors decide to make a move for a variety of reasons and each individual has his or her own unique circumstances and reasons for moving. For some, home upkeep may become cumbersome and exhausting, others may like to have more social opportunities and activities and some are just looking to simplify their lives and would like to have meals, housekeeping, etc. and for some, it’s the peace of mind of knowing that they are in a place that can meet your needs and provide care as needed.”
“Retirement communities provide a wonderful array of amenities and services that really enrich and enhance residents’ lives,” Greg continues. “I have seen so many situations where folks move into our communities and absolutely thrive. It can be such a refreshing new chapter full of new and exciting opportunities. Our goal is to make each day of our residents’ lives better than the day before, and our challenge is to outdo ourselves each and every day. When you live in one of our communities, you become a special part of that “family” and it is a tremendous thing to be a part of.”
It’s important that you are helping educate your loved one on all the benefits of retirement community living. They may have an image in their head of a nursing home setting and feel that moving to a community is ‘giving up’ or admitting that they can no longer live in their own. This is not the case. Many seniors who make the move are more than capable of living on their own, some with no help at all. They simply don’t want to deal with home upkeep or want to take advantage of the many social, dining and other opportunities that retirement communities offer.
If your loved one is starting to experience issues that could affect their health or safety, retirement communities offer “peace of mind for both the senior and the family,” says Sara Engelhaupt with The Lexington. “It’s comforting to know that someone is available in case the senior needs help, to ensure their activities of daily living are being accomplished and to know that someone is able to care for their loved ones around the clock.”
If you’ve made the decision with your loved one that it’s time for him or her to move into a retirement community, the actual moving part of it may be the most stressful portion of the process. Working with a Senior Move Manager such as Life’s NEXT STEP is an excellent way to lighten the load on both you and your loved one. Owners Darci Roberts and Bev Piper can help you with a number of issues, including on helping you decide when to move, readying to move (including creating a floor plan, sorting through items by where they need to go and getting the items to the new destination), preparing the new home, resettling the home, simplifying the move (overseeing the hiring of the mover, contractors, etc. and coordinating the day) and ensuring happy outcomes.
Choosing the Right Community
“Start the discussion and planning early,” advises Amy Fish with Gateway Senior. “You don’t want to wait until a crisis develops to begin your search for the perfect retirement community for your parent(s). Keep your parent(s) actively involved in the discussions, tours, and selection. Know and understand their financial status so you may assist with helping facilitate any necessary financial assistance programs. Children will generally help weigh the positives and negatives of different housing options, assist with the actual move, help with the transfer of any important information, and most importantly help with the overall adjustment to a new living environment.”
The team at Gateway Senior Living believes we must be a resource for seniors on the various options of senior living. As experts in the field, we are able to assist seniors with understanding the various requirements of admission, helping to understand insurance policy information, and guide them towards the services that best fit their expectations or need. Then, once a decision is made, we try to help them make the move and transition as smooth as possible.”
“If possible, do the research on the retirement community options for your loved ones, tour them, eat lunch at them, and if possible get your loved one on a “wait list” that is refundable,” suggests Karla Frese with Savannah Pines.
“One choice for quality, compassionate care that allows them to continue to live life on their terms is at The Waterford,” explains Deb Maguire. “Here we offer a smaller home-like setting that allows your needs (or the needs of your loved ones) to be met from light assistance to total assistance, all the way through end of life care with hospice. Our goal is to allow you to make one move not multiple moves. Our mission is people committed to using their God given talents and strengths in serving the needs of our residents while we help each other grow, so that each person will feel cared for with respect and dignity.
Always be mindful of the needs for your loved one and find a community that can meet those needs today and again down the road as those needs change without incurring extra out of pocket costs by someone other than the community caregivers themselves. Remember that planning for those later years in life is just as important as planning for college or buying that first home. Here at The Waterford we offer the widest range of services to meet your needs and we are expanding with a memory care unit to open mid-late 2012.”
“Take the time to prioritize what choices and options you are looking for in a retirement community,” advises Amy Fish with Gateway Senior. “Is having a continuum of care important, so that as your needs change, your address doesn’t? Are wellness or rehabilitation services a must? Then, once a decision is reached and the move is made, help your loved one get involved as much or as little as they prefer in the campus activities and social programs. Help them get to know their new neighbors, and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions in order to make sure your loved one’s needs are known.”
If you and your loved on are having a difficult time deciding between retirement communities, sit down with them and make a list of pros and cons. Some questions you may want to ask your loved one are:
–Which community did you feel more comfortable in?
–Do you have any friends that live in the communities already?
–Does one location work better for you than the others (or is one closer to where you live or work so it would be easier for you to visit)?
–If you stayed for a meal, which meal and style of dining did they enjoy more?
–Which room made you feel more ‘at home’?
–Which had activities that were more appealing to you?
Remember that this should not be a quick decision and it pays to take the time to deliberate and make the correct choice.
Help in Making the Decision
Making the decision of how best to help your aging parent or loved one can be a difficult one. Fortunately, there is help out there. Care Consultants for the Aging, for example, informs families about the options available. Because they produce the ElderCare Resource Handbook, they are able to give a complete listing of services for families to make an informed decision. If they decide to remain in their home, their home care registry will screen and schedule qualified caregivers to fit their needs.
“Educate yourself on what is available, have patience and try not to feel guilty when you realize you cannot do it all and need help,” says Robbie Nathan with Care Consultants for the Aging. “There are a lot of emotions and stages that you go through when making health care decisions for someone. Take each decision one step at a time and if you are doing the best that you can then forgive yourself for not being able to be there all the time.”
There are a number of issues that can affect your loved one’s ability to be self-sufficient and social. One of those is hearing problems. If your loved one is having hearing issues, Dr. Sandra Miller of Complete Hearing Solutions warns against do-it-yourself hearing care. Hearing loss is sometimes the symptom of a serious underlying medical problem. Hearing devices that are purchased over-the-counter or the Internet without the consultation of a hearing healthcare professional may result in the devices not being accurately customized to the specific hearing needs of the individual. Dr. Miller states, “Even when hearing loss is detected through a comprehensive examination, hearing aids may not always be a recommended course of treatment. There are numerous causes to hearing loss, with some of them requiring medical treatment.” The purchase and use of a hearing aid without a proper examination, diagnosis and counseling is a recipe for poor treatment outcomes and increased risks. All 50 states in the U.S. require that consumers use a credentialed hearing care professional to purchase hearing devices.
Dr. Miller is in full agreement with Dr. Sergei Kochkin, the Better Hearing Institute’s Executive Director, who states “The process requires a complete in-person hearing assessment in a sound booth; the training and skills of a credentialed hearing healthcare professional in order to prescriptively fit the hearing aids using sophisticated computer programs; and appropriate in-person follow-up and counseling. This is not possible when consumers purchase one-size-fits-all hearing aids over the Internet or elsewhere.”
If you or your loved one is experience hearing issues, make an appointment with an audiologist who can help you determine the best course of action.
A Way to Remember Our Loved Ones
Many of us regret not having enough memories of our loved ones after they are gone. That’s why it’s important to do things now that will enable us to remember our loved ones. One wonderful idea is to have your loved on record his or her story so you and your relatives can listen to it for years to come and so future generations can learn about your loved one as well.
“A Voices in Time session is designed to capture an organic dialogue, the give and take, the raw emotion, the spontaneity that makes it real, compelling and powerfully human,” says Judy Shutts with Voices in Time. “On the day of your session, we will come to your loved one and set up recording equipment in a comfortable area. During the session, a facilitator will be present to operate the equipment, monitor the recording quality and assist with pauses as needed. We will accompany them through the session and put them at ease so they may savor this meaningful experience.”
Services for You
Sometimes when we help our senior loved ones as they age, we realize we need to do some planning for our own lives. Perhaps we’ve seen the financial burden that long-term care has put on our parents and we don’t want that for ourselves or maybe we’ve had to go through the death of a loved one and realized we had no idea what their final wishes would be. Now is a good time to not only help your parents make decisions, but also the perfect opportunity to put some plans in place for yourself as well.
Pre-planning funeral and burial arrangements not only ensures that our final wishes are known by our loved ones, but also allows us to make financial arrangements now so that our loved ones don’t feel the financial burden when we pass.
“Thoughtful preparation can offer peace of mind not only to the one making the plans but also to those left behind,” states Mike Williams with Wyuka. “Preplanning is also a practical gesture because it allows you to make unhurried, informed decisions.
Preplanning compels you to organize important documents your survivors will need later. With advance planning, you can choose a reasonable budget, and even set aside the funds over a period of time, to ease the financial burden to your family.
There are several important things to consider when preplanning. You will want to consider any religious practices that are expected by your faith. You should consider your family members and their desire to participate in the service by not over planning ahead of time. Instead, make general suggestions that can be adapted or adjusted to make the funeral more meaningful to the participants. Refrain from impractical request. Your funeral director can discuss the many pre planned and preneed plans available, and help you select or design one suited to your personal needs. If at all possible, discuss these plans with your family, for the assurance your plans are appropriate, and for their cooperation in respecting them at death.
Most people are financially prepared for accidents to their home and automobiles. Many are even financially prepared to handle long-term illness. However, few are financially prepared for their final place of rest. The benefits of pre-planning are many:
• You get a guaranteed price
• Costs increase as time passes and prearrangement allows your cost to be guaranteed at today’s prices
• You select a plan to fit your budget
• Your funeral services and cemetery needs can be met today out of current income through budgeted payments
• You take control by making the decisions for yourself • You eliminate costly, emotional, impulse-driven choices
Most importantly, you get peace of mind. You will be assured that your loved ones will not be burdened by your funeral expense everyone should consider about prearranging their funeral and cemetery needs, and now would be the ideal time. Prearranging is one of the most loving and caring things you can do for your family. It removes the financial and emotional burden during a difficult time, and spares your family from making painful decisions; decisions they would rather have you make in any event. Regardless of how simple or elaborate you would like your arrangements to be, our experienced preplanning staff at Wyuka will show you exactly what all of your options and benefits are and help you make wise, sensible decisions. You can prearrange and prefund your funeral and cemetery wishes.”
Senior Health Insurance Advisor Bryan Oswald explains, “Most people think Medicare or their health insurance will pay for long-term care they may need in the future but it will not. Health insurance is mainly for doctor and hospital bills. If you become disabled, develop a chronic illness or cannot care for yourself for an extended period of time, you will need long-term care. Unfortunately, this is not cheap since nursing home care averages $69,000 to $78,000 per year! Even home health care can cost $43,000 to $70,000 per year.
Because of the high cost of long-term care, should you need it, it can quickly drain your life savings. With that said, if you can afford long-term care insurance and qualify for it, you should probably consider it. While financial considerations cannot be understated, long-term care insurance isn’t only about the money but more importantly, peace of mind. With long-term insurance it ensures you access to the best care and also not being dependent on others or a burden to your children.
The odds of needing long-term care are greater than you might imagine. There is about a 70% chance that you will need some type of long-term care after age 65. Long term-care services are not just for the elderly either. Statistics show that 40% of patients receiving care are under age 65.
Several people think long term care is only nursing home coverage. A nursing home is one of the many settings in which long-term care is provided. In many cases, care is provided in the home and not in a nursing home. Long-term care services are provided in places like at home, assisted living facilities, nursing homes or adult day care centers.
Just like most insurance, the younger you are when you buy long-term care insurance, the lower the premiums will be. Generally premiums will not increase with age unless the insurance company raises them for the entire group.
Since roughly 40 percent of those receiving care are under age 65, you should give some serious thought to buying coverage when you are still young and healthy. Doing this will lock in a lower rate while giving you the coverage you may need sooner than you think. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing at all. If you can’t buy as much coverage as you would like, consider starting with something and enhancing it down the road when your financial situation improves.”
It can be difficult to watch our parents age, especially if they are experiencing issues such as decreased mobility, memory loss, dementia or illness. After all, this is the person (or people) who raised us and are some of the most significant people in our lives. The last thing we want to experience is them being unable to care for themselves and live out their golden years independently. However, as they children, it is our responsibility to help them make the decisions that are the healthiest for them, both mentally and physically. Stay involved, watch out for warning signs and, most importantly, realize that the best way you can show how much you love them is to help them age in a safe and caring environment.
Be sure to consider these great local people when considering where to place your loved ones
The Waterford College View – Ease into assisted living. Low stress with help when you need it.
Maple Ridge, Walnut Grove & Savannah Pines – The Freedom to Enjoy Life. Take a tour today.
Home Instead Senior Care – To you it’s about making the right choice. To us it’s personal.
Healthy Home Fitness – Workout with Shaun T. NE February 25th!!! Click here to learn more!
Life’s NEXT STEP – You take care of Mom & we take care of the house & inventory. Learn more.
Legacy Retirement Communities -Live a life like no other. Elegant, yet surprising affordable.
Gateway Senior Living – Lincoln’s leader in innovative housing & healthcare for over 40 years.
The Lexington Assisted Living Center – Trust Your Loved Ones In Our Care. Call 402-486-4400.
Care Consultants – We provide professional & affordable home health care.
Complete Hearing Solutions – Is hearing loss causing you to fall behind? Contact us.
Voices in Time – Record Your Loved One’s Most Important Stories & Cherish Them Forever.
Wyuka – So much more than a Funeral Home. Alleviate all your future concerns visit us today.
Bryan Oswald Insurance – Medicare Supplements, Health, Long-Term Care, Life & Annuities.
Vanderford Law Office – Estate planning, business development, elder care & family law
Orchard Park Assisted Living – Living here is a joy, with a balance btw recreation & restoration.
Milder Manor – Comprehensive skilled nursing & rehabilitation services in Lincoln. Come see us.
Two Men And A Truck – Simplify your move, with everything you need. Click here for a details.
The Windcrest on Van Dorn – A Capital Senior Living Assisted Living Community