Senior Care in Lincoln, NE – 2018
Senior Care During the Holidays and Winter Months
At Strictly Business, we feel this time of the year is the most important time to talk about senior care. The cold weather has a big impact on their physical health and safety, while the holidays can take a significant toll on their emotional well-being. For most of us, the holidays are a joyful occasion and these months are filled with celebration, reunions, and lots of laughter. However, for the seniors in our community, this time of year can be an incredibly painful, lonely time. Our goal is to encourage you to not only consider the senior loved ones in your family who may be going through a difficult time, but your elderly neighbors as well—your kindness, thoughtfulness, and assistance can be the best gift you give this holiday season. As for our senior readers, we hope to offer words of encouragement and guidance as you navigate through these cold, busy months.
Seasonal Safety Tips
Here are some seasonal safety tips from Robbie Nathan with Bridge to Better Living:
Cold and unpredictable weather during the winter season may bring safety challenges for seniors. Every year, winter weather is blamed for accidents and injuries for vulnerable older adults. Planning is the key to seasonal safety. The following are tips for seniors to prepare for the winter months ahead.
Preparing Your Home—Preparation for winter starts at home. Storms may cause power outages and you may be stranded without heat or food. The following are recommendations to remain safe and comfortable in case of a winter storm.
- Stock up on batteries for flashlights. Keep a flashlight by your bed and in the main living area of your home.
- Make sure extra blankets are easily accessible.
- Have added food and drinking water. Remember when purchasing food supplies you will not have a microwave or oven to warm your meals.
- Always keep your medications filled with at least a week’s worth of doses. Prescriptions may be unable to be filled during a storm.
Driving Precautions—In addition to your home, your vehicle should be prepared for the winter months ahead. Take your vehicle in for a winter inspection to ensure all the safety systems are in good condition including brakes, tires, windshield wipers, and battery. Have jumper cables in the trunk as well as blankets, water, flashlight, a candle, and matches for heat and food in case of an emergency.
Avoid driving in precarious weather whenever possible. Even if you are an excellent winter driver, there are others on the road who are not used to driving on snow and ice. It is better to stay home and be safe than to have an accident. Only leave the house when necessary during poor driving conditions.
Bundling Up Before Going Outside—Hypothermia is a serious threat for seniors. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the elderly compose over half of all hypothermia deaths each year. When severe winter weather hits it is always best to stay indoors. If you must go out make sure you are dressed appropriately. Cover extremities as much of your body temperature is lost through your head, hands, and feet. Do the layered look to be warm and comfortable.
Preventing Slipping or Falling Injuries—Older adults are more likely to have a serious injury when slipping on ice or snow. Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries for the elderly with an estimated one of three seniors 65 years or older falling every year. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the E.R. for a fall.
Do not attempt to shovel or remove snow on your own. Hire a snow removal service to clear your walkways and driveway. Insist they apply ice melt after the areas are cleared to prevent ice patches. Make sure there is excellent traction on your outdoor footwear when you do venture outside.
Grace Kats RN/BSN with Graceful In Home Healthcare informed us that if you or your loved one cannot safely drive in poor weather conditions, arrange to be picked up and safely transported. Graceful In Home Healthcare has caregivers that can provide safe transportation to and from your gathering, assisting with wheelchairs, walkers, and transferring if needed. A little planning ensures your loved one is able to continue in enjoying the family’s tradition.
Staying Active and Engaged
The winter season is beautiful when staying safe and warm, but what can hurt more than slipping on the ice is experiencing isolation. Keeping seniors active and engaged was a common piece of advice we heard from local industry experts.
Grace shared some insight for families and caregivers who want to ensure their senior loved ones are not overlooked during the holidays:
“A unique way to bring the elderly continued happiness is to help them make new friends. You can do this by hosting a get together for your loved one for example, they can socialize and build relationships, giving them people to reach out to during the holidays. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who is getting married. Her father lives in a nursing home and will not be able to make it to her wedding. So, she decided to host her reception at the nursing home so that her father can be still be involved, and so will other residents! This is an example of inclusion, an effort to make sure an elderly loved one knows they are still an important part of the family. Another example may be to plan a Christmas meal and gather at the location where your senior lives. These small gestures let them know they are not forgotten.
As far as activities in the Lincoln community that ensure seniors remain social and in good spirits this season, Grace noted that churches are a good place for elderly support during this holiday season; there are all kinds of free programs going on. Some churches such as No Limits International Christen Center offer social and spiritual support to their elderly member or those in the community that would benefit by doing a home visit for the senior in their home who are having difficulties in life by providing the feeling of caring and involvement.
Natalie Leon with Visiting Angels had some additional ideas for family activities as well: “We can help keep our senior loved ones from being part of the statistics by helping them fight off depression over the holidays. While the family is together, bring out old family movies and photo albums. Tell stories about the good times and talk about the loved ones who are gone. These conversations can bring back happy memories. Honor the family and the memories instead of letting those thoughts of loss creep into the forefront. Play favorite music and classic movies during the holiday season when the family is together and when your senior may be alone to bring smiles instead of frowns.
I suggest watching old comedy shows that bring a chuckle, like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, or Laurel and Hardy. Many of these shows can be found on TV shows, rented on DVD, or streamed from the internet.
Just keep your senior busy! Find fun things to do to occupy them throughout the season and shortly afterward so that they don’t have time to let their mind dwell on sad times or losses they experience. These things include making cookies, taking a nature walk, writing holiday cards and notes, playing a game, visiting a museum, going to a local event like a parade or church choir, taking in a holiday movie, driving around the neighborhood looking at holiday lights and decorations, doing a craft project, planning a family meal, and shopping together.
If you feel that your efforts on keeping your senior engaged, busy, and uplifted are not improving their mood and mental outlook, you may want to visit your senior’s doctor or speak to a professional counselor or religious adviser. They may need more intervention than you and the family can provide to help them through a trying time. Keeping your senior engaged, being observant to signs of depression and seeking help when it is needed will keep the blues away not just during the holidays but all year long!”
“People with hearing loss gradually begin to isolate themselves,” reveals Leslie Frank MS, CCC-A with Nebraska Hearing Center. “Your loved one may not even realize they are doing it; or that it is due to a hearing loss. Others may assume they are disinterested or being rude. The reality is that they just can’t hear. Some even start avoiding conversations with that person because they think ‘they can’t hear anyways.’ It’s a wonderful time for get-togethers with family and friends, and hearing better can make those interactions more meaningful.”
The discussion with a loved one about their hearing loss can sometimes seem like a difficult subject to bring up. It can be as easy as encouraging them to get an annual hearing evaluation as part of their normal healthcare routine. An evaluation allows you to get a baseline and monitor your hearing every year. If hearing aids can make life more enjoyable, it’s worth the investment. Nebraska Hearing Center offers complimentary evaluations so give yourself or your loved one the gift of better hearing this holiday season!
To emphasize the ongoing sentiment, Beth Friesen with Oasis Senior Advisors warns us that if Old Man Winter really rears his ugly head this winter, isolation can be the beginning of many troubles for our seniors. Isolation has been clinically proven to lower our immunity.
“As a Registered Nurse, I am particularly concerned for our seniors who experience increased isolation over the winter months,” admits Beth. “I would encourage people to participate in local Christmas gift drives to ensure that all of our elders have a gift to open at Christmas. Be aware of the elders in your social circle, church, or neighborhood. Invite them to dine with your family for the holiday. If you are anything like me, there is always more than enough food! It’s wonderful to teach our young children how to care for elders; even those not a part of our immediate family.
I would also recommend that you check their heating unit and even schedule a maintenance visit from a trusted company. Make sure that they have received their influenza and are up to date on their pneumococcal vaccinations as well.”
Beth also acknowledged that many times, the holidays may be the first visit seniors get from their family since the summer holidays. Often, this can lead to some startling revelations. Perhaps mom or dad has declined physically or cognitively in the previous six months; this can leave adult children feeling overwhelmed.
“Seniors can suffer from depression much more so when the weather is cold, and the outside is gray and dull!” Agrees Barb Tyler with The Woodlands. “It may remind them of bygone days when they had happy memories of family surrounding them, especially during the holidays. Some seniors may take it upon themselves to get out on their own, not paying attention to slippery sidewalks, bad roads, etc. If family members can be sure any maintenance issues have a plan to be taken care of, this will help the feeling of being trapped in the house, and also provide a chance to see a friendly face for them as the walks are shoveled and the deicer is laid out.”
Barb also highlighted volunteering as an opportunity for seniors to make new friends: “Volunteering gives us purpose, helping us not feel insignificant in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the events taking place during the holidays. The Woodlands welcomes volunteers into the community, but they need to let our life enrichment director know now that they are interested so that we can schedule them for various activities that fit their own schedules.”
“If elder family members can’t be a part of the festive holiday events, perhaps everyone could be a part of a group phone call or a neighbor could assist with a Skype call; this doesn’t have to be during the holidays, but a regular time each week to hear from family members,” suggests Barb. “This call can be to those who can’t be there for the festivities and be a welcome addition to the event. For those that do visit their elderly relatives/friends, look around and see what is not looking right; housekeeping is not being done, food is scarce, or maybe too many sweets and not enough nutritional choices. Does their house have too many trip hazards? These are the things to look for and address.
The Woodlands offers tours and complementary lunch to anyone who would like to see what today’s senior communities are expected to be, complete with activities, meals, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation included in the month-to-month rent residents, while they still maintain their own independence.”
Advice for Caregivers
As a caregiver, the holidays can get stressful when you’re trying to find time to shop, cook, clean, etc. If you happen to be a caregiver of a loved one with memory issues, Legacy Arbors Memory Care Community offers Adult Day Services where your loved one can stay for the day to engage in one-on-one activities that are geared towards memory impairment.
“Our experienced staff will make sure your loved one has a fulfilling and enriching day all while lightening your load,” says Jocelyn Fitzgerald with Legacy Retirement Communities. “Preparing for the holidays doesn’t have to be a burden. Don’t hesitate to use your resources.”
Jocelyn also had a few suggestions for volunteering and community involvement opportunities: “Many seniors themselves enjoy volunteering as a way to stay active, socialize, and to help out in the community. Many residents of Legacy Retirement Communities enjoy helping out at the Food Bank, preparing decorating Tabitha›s bags for Meals on Wheels and reading to children at Zeman Elementary. If you have a loved one looking for a way to spend their retirement years and find fulfillment in helping others, making a call to their church or a favorite local non-profit is a great place to start.”
Don’t Let the Holidays Get the Best of You
A busy holiday season can bring lots of stress if you don’t have a plan for managing it. It’s easy to get stretched thin at this festive time of year. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, children’s school events, office parties, family gatherings, and travel can make the holidays fairly frenetic, especially if you are a caregiver for a senior loved one on top of all of that.
The best way to beat holiday stress is to not do it alone or put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you, and remember that just because it’s a holiday, family problems don’t go away. Be proactive and plan for support where you anticipate a need.
Here are a few tips from Karla Frese with Home Care Partners of Nebraska for managing stress and care giving during the holidays:
- Get a jump start on planning get-togethers. Being well-prepared before holiday gatherings can strengthen your peace of mind.
- Set aside time to plan menus and gift ideas—you can even cook some dishes with your loved one in advance and freeze them. This helps prevent scrambling to do it all last minute.
- Take a break. Find time to break free from the holiday hubbub and spend a few minutes relaxing between events to stay centered and balanced. Being relaxed and refreshed can make all the difference when it comes to care giving and having a happy and healthy holiday season.
Holiday Gift Ideas For Seniors
Karla also gave us a few ideas for gifts that you’re loved one will appreciate. “You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal,” says Karla. “It doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. Instead of getting an expensive gift, make a phone call or write a note and let your loved one know how important they are to you. Here are some more gift ideas:
- Order a personalized calendar with anniversaries and birthdays of family members.
- Create a family tree or history book, tracing lineages with photos, significant dates, and fun facts.
- Help your loved ones download and play podcasts they enjoy.
- Order photo books using Chatbooks, Walgreens, or Shutterfly to share special memories.
- Get a Nixplay Photo Frame, which allows you to wirelessly upload photos to a digital frame so you can send your latest pictures to grandma’s frame and they just appear like magic! Grandma doesn’t have to do a thing.
Experiences make great gifts too! I also suggest downloading apps like Cozi Family Calendar for synchronizing family schedules, Life Cake for compiling and privately sharing photos with family and friends, and Ink for easily sending personalized photo greeting cards easily. There is also a website called Storyworth where you can create questions to asks and the recipient can either call a number and record their answers or type them in. Then, the answers are compiled into a keepsake book, which is great for sharing stories from grandparents!”
Home Care Partners of Nebraska is dedicated to providing care giving services that improve quality of life and create peace of mind. They provide seniors support in their residences, assisted living, long-term care, hospice, or respite care. When your holiday stress gets to be too much, contact Home Care Partners and allow their caregivers to support your family.
“The holidays are a time filled with family and celebration, but for some seniors, the holidays and cold weather can be filled with more challenges than joys,” Jennifer Knecht with Immanuel confirms. “Supporting aging loved ones can be tricky during the holidays, when schedules are busy and to-do lists are long, but it’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Talk to your loved ones about their concerns during the holiday season. Maybe they’re reminiscent of loved ones lost or perhaps they’re worried about getting around in the cold weather. Share your concerns as well; it will give you a starting point for having conversations about resources that may be needed. The benefit of retirement and senior living communities is they provide all the socialization, pastoral support, and activities during the holidays that many seniors living alone lack. At Immanuel communities, our dedicated life enrichment, wellness, and pastoral support team members work to create exceptional experiences as well as health and spiritual support for residents not only during the holidays, but year-round.
The holiday season is a time where many family members begin to notice their aging loved ones may need more help. There are perhaps fewer decorations up than there used to be, holiday traditions may be skipped, or you notice a quietness or even sadness in mom or dad. Talk to your loved ones about the changes you notice and listen to their struggles. If the conversation is difficult, or you don’t know where to start, reach out to the professionals. Immanuel’s senior living consultants, available at all 12 of our senior living communities, are the experts and have helped thousands of families make the conversation easier. As a not-for-profit organization, it’s our mission to help you find the answers. Give Immanuel a call or go to our website for family resources you can use this holiday season.”
Senior Living Options
“When visits with loved ones are limited to one or two times per year, the physical and cognitive signs of decline in overall health may be more apparent than to those who visit routinely,” addresses Amy Fish of Lancaster Rehabilitation Center. “You may notice hygiene concerns, or medications that appear to be mismanaged. There may be a lack of fresh food available, or a withdrawal in conversation on topics that used to interest them. If you notice these sorts of concerns there are a variety of senior services available in the community that can step in to help. Services ranging from chore duty assistance, all the way across the spectrum to care in a skilled nursing center, are all available to seniors in our community.”
As the largest skilled nursing facility in the state of Nebraska, Lancaster Rehabilitation is able to provide for all skilled healthcare services under one roof, including traditional long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, memory care, and behavioral support. During the holidays each year, the Lancaster Rehabilitation team creates a calendar packed full of events and socials to keep the holidays merry and bright. They also offer short-term respite stays, where seniors can take up temporary residence until spring arrives. That way, they get all the comforts of home, plus an actively engaged activity program, and delicious home-cooked meals.
Make sure to watch carefully how your loved one is doing in their home. If you’re concerned for their safety, make sure to have the conversation sooner rather than later about precautions in the home such as removing throw rugs, installing grab bars in bathrooms, etc. If you feel that they are not safe in their home any longer, don’t be afraid to have a gentle conversation about retirement living options or receiving in-home care. Chances are your loved one has already thought about these options and may just need your conversation to help validate what they’re thinking.
“Declining eyesight or hearing, mobility problems, and memory issues can lead to losing the ability to drive, increase risk of falling, and everyday tasks becoming more difficult to perform,” adds Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging. “It is important for seniors to address these issues early on and for families to keep aware of how they are affecting their loved ones. Making sure seniors have mental stimulation, companionship, transportation for outings, and assistance with personal care or household chores can help keep these issues under control. This can come from family members or loved ones, outside caregivers, senior centers, adult day centers, or in a facility.
Staying active, both physically and mentally, can make a lasting impact on a senior’s health and wellness. Many seniors find it helpful to have a caregiver assist them in their home with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and laundry to keep them safe and healthy without taking away their independence. Having a caregiver they know in the home can make life changes less stressful.
Care Consultants refers caregivers who are CNAs and can assist seniors with companionship, personal cares, light housekeeping, and much more. We have caregivers available from one up to 24 hours a day, along with access to short-term assistance in the case of an emergency. This flexibility gives families the peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by a qualified and caring individual.”
A respite stay (short-term stay) during the winter months might be a good solution for your loved one. There are many types of senior communities available in Lincoln—independent living, assisted living, skilled care, rehab, memory care community. It’s important to educate yourself on the different offerings. Learn the differences between them and know what a loved one needs in the way of care.
Finding the right assisted living community for yourself or a loved one can leave you feeling overwhelmed. The good news is you are not alone; The Waterford is here to help you through the process. With three communities to choose from, The Waterford at College View Assisted Living , The Waterford at Williamsburg Assisted Living, and The Waterford at Wilderness Hills Memory Care, they can help you make a choice based on the needs of you or your loved one. “Whether you know what you need or you are new to the process, we are here to help,” assures Christy Merritt with The Waterford Communities. “To assess the best senior housing option, ask yourself questions like can you or your loved one stand or transfer from a bed to a chair independently or with the help of one person? If the answer is yes or if your loved one is currently working to achieve this goal, assisted living is a good choice. If the answer is no, long-term care is most likely a better solution. If the individual is a dementia patient, it is possible that he or she could thrive in a memory care environment. At Waterford, we urge you to maintain your independence.”
Another senior living option in the community is Old Cheney Rehabilitation. There are also a few misconceptions about rehabilitation facilities. For example, seniors often fear that if they need to stay overnight in a care facility of any type, that they may be forced to stay there forever. That’s not the case at Old Cheney Rehabilitation.
“We’re not a long-term care facility,” notes Tim Mudgett with Old Cheney Rehabilitation. “Our motto is ‘From Here to Home,’ so everyone has the goal of getting back to where they were living before. Our priority is to get you or your loved one back to enjoying life. In addition, many people see our beautiful state-of-the-art facilities and instantly equate that with being too expensive. However, for those with Medicare, which includes the typical hospital stay coverage, and a doctor’s order, short-term rehabilitation will be covered and you’ll generally pay nothing out-of-pocket.”
When it’s time to seek 24-hour long-term care for your loved one, focus on what matters… care, comfort, and cost. Orchard Park Assisted Living prides itself on being the best at what matters. Don’t settle for an ordinary facility or be pressured into a resort-style locale that pushes irrelevant bells and whistles. Instead, seek out a community that feels like home—familiar, comfortable, and with friendly faces at every turn. This is especially comforting for seniors during the holidays when all they want is to be home with their family.
Orchard Park Assisted Living has more registered nurses on staff than any other assisted living facility in town. The result is more thorough, thoughtful care for residents across a wide range of aging-related health issues. The community is nestled off of 48th and Van Dorn, right in the heart of south Lincoln. This makes it easy to visit your loved one during your lunch break or sometime over the weekend if you live on this side of town.
Coping With Loss
The sting of loss is unfortunately magnified during the holidays, and the first year is usually the hardest. If you or someone you know is dealing with the loss of a loved one this year, handle the situation with care. The holidays may look a little different this year, and that is okay. The important thing is to not rush the bereavement process. Particularly for seniors who are coping with loss, many seniors also experience fear and anxiety about their own health. The older we get and the more death we see around us, the harder it can be to feel like we are in control of our own lives.
Hospice can ease the transition into end-of-life care. Hospice care is a type of care that primarily focuses on attending to seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, but it is also very much for emotional support as well.
Avalon Hospice understands the challenges patients and families face when considering next steps in healthcare, particularly hospice care. Their commitment to their patients is to ensure every person’s specific needs are identified and addressed. Hospice provides families the opportunity to enjoy meaningful time together by educating caregivers and making the patient as comfortable as possible.
Oftentimes holidays are the only time families are together, therefore becoming the most logical time to have a discussion that allows everyone to have their wishes heard.
“It may seem a little awkward to have these discussions over Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas cookies, but when the holidays are the only time families are together, it may be the only time to have critical discussions,” comments Jodi Freeman with Roper & Sons. “I don’t recommend jumping right in with the ‘death-talk,’ but there are some great tools for starting discussions, including the Talk of a Lifetime program. (You can request a brochure from Roper & Sons, either by calling or through our website.) This program is a great tool for having conversations about memories and the ways you would like to be remembered, which often naturally leads into discussions about final health and funeral or memorial wishes.
It is very important that loved ones know the details of your estate and funeral plans, including where those plans are located, who your attorney is, what your healthcare wishes are, including how critical illness and the end of life should be managed, and which funeral home you wish to use and all of the plans you have in place regarding a funeral or memorial service.”
Thoughtful preparation can offer peace of mind not only to the one making the plans but also to those left behind. 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.
Wyuka, Lincoln’s premiere choices for funeral care, can assist you in your pre-planning. With Wyuka, you can be assured that, when the time comes, your final wishes will be known. This can provide an enormous relief to those close to you, and by opting to pre-fund your plan, you can rest assured in the knowledge that your expenses will be covered when you need them to be.
Bryan Block with Butherus, Maser & Love adds, “There are many questions that could be answered and specific wishes put in a file so when the time arrives, all concerned know exactly what the person wanted and how they wanted their funeral plans to go.
In my experience, the individual who is nearing the end of their life has no problem talking about their funeral plans, it’s usually the kids who have the problem with the discussion. So often we hear children leaving our facility after making funeral arrangements for a deceased parent saying ‘I hope that’s what they would have wanted.’ Eliminate that indecision and doubt and have a conversation with your loved ones, then talk to us so we have your wishes on file and we can make sure these plans take place the way you want.”
In conclusion, we encourage you to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to take care of yourself or the senior in your life. Keep safety in mind with the winter weather, stay active and engaged to keep spirits bright, and don’t take a single moment for granted. Happy holidays to all the seniors and caregivers in the Lincoln community!