Senior Health in Lincoln, NE – 2018


Senior Health in Lincoln, NE – 2018

What it takes to be in good health changes as we age, a process that is different for us all. In our senior years, just as in our childhood, teens and throughout adulthood, there are things that we can do to set ourselves up for the best outcome, whether it’s maintaining or improving our health and overall wellness.

{Do You Know?} Your Options & Resources

Here in Lincoln, we have an abundance of resources for the aging population, who are valued members of our community. It’s all a matter of knowing who to contact based on what’s needed, and then what the next step should be moving forward.

Amy Fish Lancaster Rehabilitation Center - Headshot

Amy Fish
Lancaster Rehabilitation Center

“The overall healthcare continuum continues to expand for everyone, including seniors,” says Amy Fish with Lancaster Rehabilitation Center. “Services are now available for both long- and short-term needs.

Pertaining to what we have to offer, as Nebraska’s largest skilled nursing facility, Lancaster Rehabilitation Center is proud to serve the skilled nursing needs of our community and state. As the leading provider of post-acute cardiac care, we will assist patients with the transition to home following an acute cardiac trauma or surgery. Lancaster Rehabilitation Center partners with both the CHI Saint Elizabeth and Nebraska Heart Hospital Continuum of Care Network, and the Bryan Health Cross-setting work group to ensure an exceptional patient care experience. The clinicians at Lancaster Rehabilitation Center receive specialized training in the area of cardiac care as a part of this network. As a result, our patients are able to transition from an acute care setting back to their home through the efficient and effective rehabilitation services provided by our team of clinicians and therapists.

In addition, through the services provided on our traditional long-term care and dementia neighborhoods, we strive to help seniors and their adult children by providing a caring, compassionate home for their loved ones. We are proud of our top-notch clinicians and our friendly team of caregivers who provide professional care 24 hours a day.”

She goes on to emphasize, “It’s important for seniors to take advantage of assistance they may need with simple chore services, or intermittent respite care for a spouse or loved one. Ask for simple assistance early in order to stay as independent for as long as possible. Simple things like chore services, meals on wheels, or assistance with transportation are all beneficial services that help seniors retain their independence.

Seniors deserve to take full advantage of the benefits or programs for which they may qualify. The team at Lancaster Rehabilitation Center can serve as a resource for any long-term, memory support, or short stay rehabilitation needs. Community members are welcome to contact us anytime with questions. We’re here to help!”

Fish also specifically addresses the planning aspect of aging, stating, “It is very important to start the conversation and planning before it is needed. Adult children should take the time to engage in conversation regarding the future care needs of their parents or elderly loved ones. Often, when something unexpected happens, we’ll find that those now making decisions on behalf of elders are unaware of things like insurance policies, care directives, or how to manage their affairs in the interim of their recovery. Research in advance the many options for care. Know and understand what is important regarding their preferences for social, spiritual, and clinical care. Also, rely on the expertise of others to help guide the decision-making process. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions in order to ensure you have all the facts. Focus on the most critical decisions first, knowing that there is plenty of help available.

There are many resources and checklists available on about every subject you might have a question as it relates to services for seniors. The guiding information I would share with seniors and their adult children is to identify and define their priorities when evaluating skilled care nursing settings. Beyond the checklists that Medicare or others may provide, tour the facilities in advance, and listen to your gut. Evaluate the environment, gather a better understanding of the services provided, and then decide if it fits your personal preference. I always suggest to adult children to know in advance the insurance coverage benefits their parents may be participating in, and how to access those benefits should they become incapacitated. Know and understand the limitations based on the provider’s participation in programs such as Medicaid, VA, and/or Medicare. That information will help narrow decision making.

Should seniors or their adult children have questions related to skilled nursing, they are welcome to call our facility anytime at (402) 441-7101 and ask for our social service or admissions team.”

She also notes, “Another valuable tip is to stay engaged socially. Volunteer, participate in community groups, or invite friends to visit. The key is to have a healthy mind, body and spirit.

We will be celebrating our annual Senior Health Fair on June 27th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. with a variety of health fair vendors, live music, food, and educational topics and materials. Everyone in the community is welcome to join us! Lancaster Rehabilitation Center is located at 1001 South Street.”

Home health and respite care are the more underused services by seniors and their families, while also being among the most beneficial. With more people being educated about their options and the benefits associated with these types of services, fortunately that is changing. As previously mentioned, you may not be at a point where a move is necessary, but rather, just need a little bit of assistance.

Natalie Leon
Visiting Angels

“Focused on providing affordable and professional care, Visiting Angels strives to help you stay in the comfort of your own home,” says Natalie Leon with Visiting Angels. “As a family-run business, we too have experienced the effects of long-term illnesses resulting in disabilities of our loved ones. Through our understanding of the time and stress associated with caring for our own families, we are here to help you. Visiting Angels’ home care certified caretakers offer a wide variety of services including, but not limited to, joyful companionship, meal preparation, assistance with hygiene needs, housekeeping, and medication reminders. Visiting Angels performs the home care industry’s most comprehensive background screening, ensuring that only the absolute best caregivers will be hired to care for the one you love. In addition to the one-of-a-kind background screening, Visiting Angels prides itself on providing care tapered to one’s personal needs. Through the individual selection of each caregiver, we are able to successfully match those who need help at home with an experienced caregiver. At Visiting Angels, we work hard to establish relationships with all caregivers and clients because just like family, we are always here for you.

As the most recognized and respected name in senior home care, Visiting Angels finds joy in aiding those who need assistance through our care that is offered from one to twenty-four hours, our no contract and no deposit agreement, and a free in-home assessment and consultation. Our vast knowledge of caregiving allows us to be the best choice for you and your loved one. By choosing Visiting Angels for all your home care needs, you will be met with a personalized approach to our home care services, as we treat each client with the utmost respect as we establish a unique, comprehensive care plan.”

{Do You Know?} Your Future Plans

Mary Ann Stallings
Bridge to Better Living

The importance of open dialogue when making plans for the future, in the event of an emergency or just to be sure that a person is keeping up with what’s needed to stay healthy and happy, is not to be underestimated. According to Mary Ann Stallings with Bridge to Better Living, an agency working primarily with seniors and their families, “We have always felt when one begins to wonder about senior living options this is the time to open the conversation and the best ‘first step.’ If one waits for or has a medical crisis, Bridge to Better Living is always available to help, but the reality is there may be fewer choices. Bridge to Better Living consists of staff who are well-versed in the healthcare field and understand the importance of taking time to make serious decisions. There is no cost to work with our experts. BBL believes in Passion with Placement and a good quality of life

It is very difficult to move from a home lived in for decades and this does affect someone’s health significantly. Depression certainly is evident when a senior considers leaving the environment in which they are accustomed to living. Seniors may not be in a rush to make a decision even when they secretly realize a change in living options is needed. Fall risks become more common with the elderly as they try to continue to live at a younger pace. Bridge to Better Living is a natural when conversing with both families and clients about the normality of aging and the choices to be considered. We understand why it is important to avoid social isolation and to have support both medically and emotionally. All of us need to feel we are important.

Retirement living options should be positive considerations. Bridge to Better Living will take as much time as is needed to discuss the differences of amenities and services in each type of community: independent, Assisted, Memory Assisted and Skilled Care. BBL sometimes suggests a gradual change in environment is completed in steps, such as beginning with adult day care or short-term home health care. If a client is needing time to acclimate to changes, it is best not to rush the process but to use a positive approach.

The only certainty in life is change. Everyone, not only seniors, should plan to have their finances secure. It is important to realize insurance may or may not pay for medical care. Nutrition and exercise are not thoughts for another day. They are for the life we live presently and hope to live in the future.

Bridge to Better Living encourages everyone, especially seniors, to take advantage of the free classes offered in the community to improve health and to increase awareness of resources to prolong life as we live it. At Bridge to Better Living the consultants have ‘walked the walk’ and have extensive backgrounds in health, home care, medical oversight, administration and an abundance of resources in legal, financial and senior services. There are no boundaries where quality of life is concerned.”

Jim Janicki
Hillcrest Health Services

In agreement, Jim Janicki with Hillcrest Health Services further emphasizes, “We can’t stress planning enough. Aging adults should take time to visit various care facilities, work closely with their financial planners and make a living will and estate plan with their elder law attorney. If preparations aren’t in place when an unexpected health event occurs, then family members and spouses struggle to find care and rush to make preparations that could’ve been done far in advance. This is the best way to respect the wishes of the senior. They can contact us at Hillcrest and we can help.”

Hillcrest Health Services has the widest continuum of services for aging adults in Eastern Nebraska, but here in Lincoln, Hillcrest is focused on rehabilitation after a surgery, illness or hospital stay. Hillcrest Firethorn is a post-acute rehab center where recovering seniors stay an average of 20 days before transitioning back to the community, often with skilled home health services like those offered by Hillcrest Home Care. “We encourage aging adults to visit rehab centers like Hillcrest Firethorn before they need recovery care so they know which center they would choose if ever in that situation,” Janicki said. “If you’re ever lying in a hospital bed looking at the list of post-acute facilities, you’ll thank yourself for visiting and touring those centers in advance. It makes the decision much easier on you and your family.”

“Of course, we hope you never need our service, but we’re here if you ever do,” he added.

{Do You Know?} The Warning Signs

Along with taking preventative measures to stay healthy, it’s also important to be aware of the cues your body will give you to alert you something is wrong. Ignoring them or hoping they will pass could be to your detriment. The same goes for paying attention to your loved ones and noticing any changes in their health and wellness.

Karla Frese
Home Care Partners of Nebraska

“There are common warning signs that are present when a senior’s health is declining or that could be the cause of a health issue if not addressed,” cautions Karla Frese with Home Care Partners of Nebraska. “If you notice any of the following situations, don’t ignore them. Instead, call someone who can offer guidance and help. The top ones are as follows:

1. Frailty and/or arthritis

2. Visual impairment or macular degeneration

3. Confusion and/or forgetfulness

4. Hesitation or inability to drive

5. No desire to cook, fresh food has been replaced with processed and TV dinners

6. Loneliness

7. Difficulty with housekeeping

8. Instability and/or fear of falling

9. Needing help with medications

10. Change in cognitive abilities

Home care can be incredibly beneficial in situations such as these, with service plans that can be tailored to the client’s needs. Oftentimes a little assistance is all that many people need to remain independent in their residence (wherever that may be).

Home Care Partners of Nebraska is dedicated to providing caregiving services that improve quality of life and create peace of mind. This includes personal care, companion care, recovery care, and memory care support. We serve you in the comfort of your residence with caregiving services that maintain the highest quality of life for you, your loved one, and your entire family.

Our care partners will come to your residence and together we will create a personalized Plan of Care based on specific needs. Home care can be one of the more affordable solutions to help someone continuing living at in their current environment even after a life-changing event or illness.

Home Care Partners of Nebraska care plans focus on quality of life. Seniors want to remain active and involved in life, and finding opportunities to do so can become difficult with age and changing health care needs. Adding home care services while still in good health, or as critical precautionary measures, can lead to an enhanced quality of life. We encourage our clients to take measures that decrease health risks and motivate them in living healthy. Being able to continue to do the things you love not only improves your lifestyle; it could improve your health. Simple activities that seniors can do at home to continue strengthening their mind include puzzles, card games, listening to music, reading, arts and crafts, and spending time with grandchildren.”

Andrew Carlson
Home Care Partners of Nebraska

Andrew Carlson with Home Care Partners of Nebraska addresses a major issue that jeopardizes the health of seniors, explaining, “Falls are one of the most common sources of injury among seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans age 65 and older falls every year, and falls are the number one cause of injury-related death for older adults. More than half of home accidents can be avoided. We will conduct free home safety evaluations and provide resources that include Home Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Wellness, Fall Prevention, and How to Age-In- Place Safely.

Following a fall, or any other accident or illness, when a senior is being discharged from the hospital, outpatient surgery center, or rehabilitation facility, we can help prepare a safe home and set up post-hospitalization care in their residence to provide cares needed for a speedy recovery.

He also points out, “When living at home alone, seniors frequently become dependent on their grown children for help. This can strain relationships and create feelings of resentment by both the parent(s) and their children, oftentimes causing an unnatural role reversal. Home Care Partners of Nebraska can help. We can provide a variety of services to assure that time now spent with their parent is meaningful and of high-quality, knowing their needs are being taken care of, and are in a safer environment. Adult children are able to feel liberated and have a sense of relief from the role of caregiver while remaining involved in their parents’ lives.

Home Care Partners of Nebraska offers flexibility, reliability, and affordability that gives your family confidence in your ability to stay in your residence (wherever that may be).

One way to begin the conversation with your aging loved one is to provide an example of someone you know who has received home care services and the positive impact it has made. 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.”

{Do You Know?} The Pros & Cons

One of the biggest decisions seniors face is when and where to move from their homes to independent or assisted living communities. There are a lot of factors at play and everyone’s journey is different. For some, it’s a better fit to move in with children, siblings or other relatives, or to utilize the services of an in-home care provider. For others, the transition to an apartment in a retirement community makes more sense. Both have their benefits and perhaps some drawbacks, so it’s important to weigh your options thoughtfully.

Christy Merritt-The Waterford

Christy Merritt
The Waterford Communities

Christy Merritt with The Waterford Communities emphasizes, “Be educated, have an opinion. Just because things are fine today doesn’t mean things can’t change and you won’t need assistance. There’s no need to know everything, but you need to have an idea of the things that are important to you should you have to help your family choose a community for you.

Here at The Waterford Communities, we offer assisted living and memory care communities for elders who need assistance with activities of daily living. Assisted living is ideal for independent seniors who need help with mobility challenges, medication management, housekeeping and cooking meals. We also partner with different agencies that help us provide in physical and occupational therapy, nursing cares, dental and vision services and on-site physician services.

Regardless of the decision that’s being made, I think it’s important for seniors to remember they have a say in their care and they need to exercise their right to advocate for themselves.”

Truly, maintaining a lifestyle that suits you as you age will have a lot to do with your health. As evidenced by what we’ve covered thus far, it is entirely possible given the vast amount of options and resources that are available today.

Theron Ahlman
CarePatrol of Nebraska

“I always encourage seniors to be active, to get out as much as possible and to enjoy life,” says Theron Ahlman with CarePatrol of Nebraska. “So many seniors that we visit with while doing a care discovery don’t do anything and just sit at home. We like to visit with them about the benefits of a community and point out that everything is under one roof, so they can go to coffee again, play cards, enjoy music, and just have some really good options for socialization. They can also take part in various crafts and even exercise classes that are geared to them. Whatever it is that they like to do, they’ll be living life to the fullest instead of just letting the day go past.

At CarePatrol, we walk seniors and their families through the process of finding the safest and best assisted living, independent living and memory care communities. CarePatrol has been around for over 25 years and is a service that is 100% free to those we help. We always review the state’s care and violation history before recommending a community, schedule the tours and personally go on the tours with the families to help ask the questions they may not know to ask. We also work with the families to see if there are any additional funds that may be available to them to help pay for care, and we can get them lined them up with various resources to help make the process as easy as it possibly can be.

Families call us at various times through the process, although before an emergency situation arises is always the best. With our knowledge of the communities and different offerings, we can help find a community in as short as a day if needed. We do prefer to work with those who are just starting the process as it’s less stressful for the family and there are so many things to learn and options to explore. I even tell families to visit with us if they think they know where they want to go, as we can make sure that is a good fit for them and their needs. For example, on the assisted living side, some communities offer higher levels of care compared to others, allowing for a transition there instead of having to move out shortly after moving in. We also look at the cost of the communities. Not all communities fit each person’s financial ability, so once again for us, it’s about helping find the best option for the funds they have and we don’t want someone to have to move out after running out of money.

Specifically related to memory care, I am always amazed at how many seniors are affected by Alzheimer’s and really feel for the families and the struggles they are going through. Just this week I helped tour with a son and his mom and could see the added stress on him and then the relief when he found the right place for his mom and knew she would be well taken care of there. I don’t know that people truly understand the struggle and strain this puts on the families dealing with it, and they should reach out for help sooner than later. If someone knows one of their parents or grandparents is having issues and the other is a caregiver, please help them find a support group and or call us to visit about respite options so they can have a break from time to time. Caregiver burnout is a huge problem that comes along with helping someone who has memory issues and we want to make sure they are well taken care of and don’t get run down as well.”

He concludes, “I am a firm believer in planning ahead, and that’s why calling CarePatrol to tour communities before an emergency situation develops is such an important thing to do. Let’s tour together and really enjoy finding the next step that fits them, as compared to being in a rush situation due to a discharge date after a fall and just having to find the best open room available. Even if it’s just sitting down and visiting about the various options we are completely OK with that, as any little step is a step in the right direction to safer care and a more enjoyable life. If you would like to visit with one of us at CarePatrol of Nebraska please give us a call at (402) 904-8296 as we are here to help!”

Along with the placement agencies serving as resources, there are great people at our local communities who are knowledgeable and ready to help you navigate the decisions ahead.

Barb Tyler
The Woodlands at Hillcrest

“We can be a vital piece for a family looking for healthcare resources,” emphasizes Barb Tyler with The Woodlands at Hillcrest. “With both assisted living and memory care services, The Woodlands offers care, socialization, activities, and security to all of our residents and their families.

When it comes to staying in good health, socialization is so important for seniors. Interacting with others, or just being in the presence of others, can make a huge difference in someone’s disposition; seeing others of the same age and possibly with the same care needs makes one realize they are not alone in needing some help at times. A robust activity schedule offers so much to one’s life, which may include outings, painting, gardening, cards and games, and lecture series.

The Woodlands is open to those 55+ who may have had experienced a health issue, or for families who need a safe and secure place for loved ones for a short period of time (respite). The Woodlands is also a welcoming senior community for those looking to downsize, as there is no long-term contract, merely a month-to-month rental community. We may be the answer for those who need more care, but not necessarily care in a skilled care facility, possibly saving families thousands of dollars. At The Woodlands, a two-person assist is offered in care levels (rather than just one person helping a resident), and many other services are offered in line with our goal of keeping residents to end of life. Hospice and home health care providers are welcome if more care is needed at any time; however, The Woodlands has nursing care 24/7, something that is not offered in all assisted living communities.

She also addresses some of the challenges that seniors and their families face when it becomes evident that a move is in that person’s best interests. “Starting a conversation about what a senior WANTS is often difficult, but if they have some input into how they see themselves aging and meeting their care needs, they often feel they have some control over their life when perhaps other things cannot be controlled. Having a power of attorney designated and having someone in place as a secondary person also helps in case of an emergency situation. I also think that if the opportunity is there to go around and do the homework on what is available in the area for senior communities, it doesn’t make a move quite so overwhelming and scary.

As I previously mentioned, in making a move, downsizing is often involved too. If family is available to help and offers to do so, take advantage of that! There are several wonderful services in the area that will help you sort, give away, sell, or help you arrange your possessions as you contemplate a new living situation. Taking that stress away of what to do, what to pack and who to call can be a huge relief to all involved. The Woodlands offers support in this area, as well as having the knowledge of services available in the area; besides moving and downsizing, this can be in the form of who to contact for medical supplies/equipment, dog walking, and local insurance/financial planning contacts. The Woodlands at Hillcrest strives to be a one-stop service for our families!”

(Do You Know?} How to Handle Change

The common theme throughout has been that there will be many different kinds of changes in life linked to health and wellbeing that are all a part of growing older. While so far we’ve talked a lot about the importance of a lot of health concerns related to care and living arrangements for seniors, there are also certain health issues that are more prevalent in the aging population independent of those. Decline in memory function and physical capabilities have been mentioned, but there’s also the common decline in sight and hearing that progress as we age.

Leslie Frank Nebraska Hearing Center - Headshot

Leslie Frank
Nebraska Hearing Center

“While aging is one of the leading causes of hearing loss, there are several other factors that can contribute to it,” Leslie Frank with Nebraska Hearing Center points out. “At Nebraska Hearing Center, we encourage all adults to have their hearing tested annually. You can then monitor changes once a baseline has been set.

The effects of untreated hearing loss can easily set off multiple health issues. Hearing loss can cause fatigue because of the strain of trying to hear, which can lead to stress that can also cause other health issues. Many people aren’t aware of their increased risk of dementia, anxiety, and depression due to hearing loss. Prevention begins with being aware. Wear earplugs when around loud noises. When working with power tools, going to a concert, hunting, or even mowing the yard it is very important to protect your hearing. When looking for a hearing professional, be sure to work with an audiologist. Find someone that you are comfortable with because adjusting to hearing aids is a process.

At Nebraska Hearing Center, our hearing evaluations are always free so call us today at (402) 486-3737 for an appointment at our Lincoln, Beatrice, or Seward office. Ask us about our new rechargeable hearing aids too! Technology is really changing the world of hearing. Nebraska Hearing Center offers wireless technology. Phone calls, music, and TV stream directly into the hearing aid. The technology greatly improves the clarity. Our clients notice a big difference in meetings, noisy places, or while in church.”

Jocelyn Fitzgerald Legacy Retirement Communities - Headshot

Jocelyn Fitzgerald
Legacy Retirement Communities

In the broader sense, Jocelyn Fitzgerald with Legacy Retirement Communities also encourages seniors to pay attention to their overall wellbeing. “Apart from physical, tune in with your mental, social, spiritual, financial, and whatever else you might consider a high priority for your total wellness. When needs are met in all areas, it creates a better quality of life.”

She also offers some helpful words of advice for loved ones and caregivers. “Our employees just took part in a ‘Sensitivity Training’ in which they were able to ‘experience’ what it felt like to have many common ailments that come with aging such as neuropathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, arthritis, and COPD. The experience was enlightening and we gained valuable perspective. My advice would be if you know someone for example, who is losing their eyesight, take a little extra time with them. Instead of just saying ‘Hello!’ and walk past them, take a moment to say ‘Hello Martha, its Jocelyn!’ While it might feel unnatural to you, it means so much to the person. They feel acknowledged and appreciate that you took the time to slow down for them. Was there a loved one that was short with you today or hasn’t been their normal self? Maybe they’re not managing their pain, resulting in off-putting encounters. At the end of the day, slow down, take a few moments to listen, and practice empathy.

Additionally, if your loved one is still living at home, have a plan in place for when emergencies happen, especially if you don’t live close to one another. Emergency pendant systems can be extremely helpful, especially if a loved one falls and is unable to get to a phone to call for help. Does your loved one have a good relationship with their neighbors that they could get support if needed? Make sure to have these conversations before a crisis happens so you have a plan in place a sense of security for both you and your loved one.

Along the same lines, as has been discussed by others, it is always recommended be proactive about senior living options instead of reactive. Make sure you give yourself the time to look at all the options, process the information, and that your finances are in order. Then, you’re able to make an educated, well thought out decision versus a reactive decision.”

Grace Kats
Graceful In Home Healthcare

Grace Kats with Graceful In Home Healthcare goes on to mention, “Due to seniors having active and healthy lifestyles, we are living longer than ever before. However, there are some elderly people who are not so fortunate as they age. There are changes that happen to them mentally and physically. It is important to learn how to identify those to be able to maintain health and independence, and for their safety and wellbeing. These problems could affect your loved one’s ability to drive and increase the safety hazard that is connected with slower reaction times and reduced problem-solving abilities. Not to mention that it now falls onto family members to provide transportation to and from appointments and errands.

Slower reaction time is part of the natural aging process, however, it can also be an indication of a health problem. As a registered nurse with years of nursing experience, I have witnessed many times when elderly individuals seemed OK to family members, but were in fact experiencing a serious decline in personal health affecting them both mentally and physically. They begin to show signs of confusion, hallucination, lack of appetite, dehydration and begin verbally expressing things that are out of character. Noticing and addressing these concerns is an important part of helping your loved one maintain independence and continued quality of life.

Graceful In Home Healthcare offers a free no cost evaluation by an RN and 2 free hours of Free in-home care with any signed contract. There is no minimum amount of hours required; if you need us an hour per week or 24 hours a day, we’ll make the arrangements accordingly. Give us a call today and find out if home health can help you.”

Now that our local experts have given you plenty of information on a wide variety of topics to digest, it’s up to you to make the most of it, whether that’s doing what’s in your best interest to stay healthy and happy as you age or supporting your loved ones as they age. Since health is inextricably linked to quality of life, being in good health throughout one’s golden years is the key to fully enjoying them!