Senior Living in Lincoln, NE – 2020

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Senior Living

Though there are still cold days ahead, we are all looking forward to springtime as a time for growth and new life, spring cleaning and getting a fresh start. This time of year is a great time to reconnect with senior loved ones and help them realize a vision for a fresh, vibrant life in which all of their needs are met. We’re excited to highlight thoughts on senior living and share information from experts in the industry as we always do, but first we’d like to share a bit of expert advice from the most reputable source of wisdom available regarding senior living: the seniors in our community. A small but generous group of ever-young and inspiring seniors at Legacy Retirement Communities shared their advice for living a life that is vibrant and full even during cold months of transitioning weather.

At 83 years young, Patty offered the following: “Our seasons are meant to be times of reassessing our objectives,” she said. “We can live in a rut of repetition and play follow-the-leader, or we can turn into our own inner selves to see what is ahead. We cannot live by what we did, but we can find new objectives to improve our lives and those around us.”

When asked how to find purpose and vitality during challenging times, Patty advised:

“MOVE! Take action! I am not a follower of any guru or hype of rebuilding a new body or changing my years of thoughts to improve my future, but I associate myself with very active thinkers and lovers. Get out and exercise. Walk. Try something new. Don’t be afraid! I am not saying that it’s an easy journey, but how do you know without trying? Jump into that frying pan and hope it turns out! Help others that might be afraid like you are, and you’ll find your worries just go down the drain.”

Words from Ken, 81: “Get out and exercise. Walk. Try something new. Read. It’s up to you.”

From Gail, 82: “You determine each day that it will be a great day! You can have a bad day, but it doesn’t mean you have a bad life.”

Our Strictly Business team agrees wholeheartedly with Gail that life can—and should!— be great, even when we have difficult days. This time of year can be conducive to late-winter blues with the hint of spring around the corner and the fleeting peek of fair weather on a suddenly nice day.

Mary Ann Stallings
Bridge to Better Living

We spoke with senior living experts to get their ideas on helping seniors find vitality and purpose during this season. “Winter truly takes our breath away with its dry air and shorter days,” Mary Ann Stallings with Bridge to Better Living said. “If you are depressed because of less daylight, turn on the lights for longer periods of time or purchase a therapy light. Pull out your calendar and make dates with friends to go to the movies, visit a museum, or have a few days in the sun. Plan to have an activity to look forward to in the near future.

If you are tired of doing the planning yourself, stressed, or exhausted because of housework, laundry, and the worry of home maintenance, call Bridge to Better Living and schedule tours of living options. Visit senior communities with a transition consultant and start to consider moving to a less stressful way of life. The only cost to you is time.”

Bridge to Better Living is a unique service offering expert assistance and guidance to its clients. Their transition consultants live the company motto of “Placement with Passion®” every day. In 2019, they were awarded the Better Business Bureau’s Small Business Integrity Award, revealing how valued and respected they are by both businesses and consumers.

“Our clients may be assured we will be with them through each call, question, or tour,” Mary Ann said. “They will be confident we will help them find answers and new direction.”

Hannah Elliott
The Woodlands at Hillcrest

Hannah Elliott with The Woodlands at Hillcrest also shared her thoughts on ways seniors can make the most of this time.

“It’s always a good time to master news skills,” Hannah said. “No one is ever too old to try new things, whether it’s calligraphy, a card game, crocheting, learning an instrument…Don’t limit yourself to what you can do! Learning keeps your mind sharp. The Woodlands fosters an atmosphere of vitality and flexibility that allows residents to adopt fun new things into their day and routine as desired.

“We also work closely with residents to meet individual needs. We have some residents with specific diet concerns who meet weekly with our chef to plan meals that fit their needs and still taste great. We want to make sure everyone is in an environment that suits them perfectly.

“The Woodlands has a vibrant, easy-going style. It’s truly a unique living experience in a beautiful location that is growing with the addition of new neighborhoods and businesses. We have a wide range of assisted living services all the way to memory care. Our skilled staff and qualified nurses and caregivers get to know our residents in a personal way to make sure we are meeting all their needs. We take our service to levels that most don’t, such as using easy-stand lifts in all of our apartments.

“We have a goal to provide the best possible community so that when someone moves here, they want to stay here. We want to make a move to the Woodlands the last move someone makes.”

As you shop for housing, consider places that have beautiful grounds and allow residents to really soak up the sun and fresh green surroundings during nice weather, or communities that provide activities and amenities that make otherwise ordinary days a little more special.

Megan Herter
Sumner Place Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation

Megan Herter, admissions and public relations coordinator for Sumner Place Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation, shared ways that Sumner makes life extra special for their residents.

“We work hard to create a living environment that continuously enriches each resident’s life,” Megan told us. “Whether it’s organizing in-house activities or social engagements with the community or offering daily spiritual services, at Sumner Place, we focus on personalized care. Our annual events, such as Senior Prom, Dog Pageant, or the Sumner Place Picnic, offer the ‘Family Serving Family’ feel that we are committed to. Social events and activities bring magic to ordinary days all year round.”

Services at Sumner Place include their restorative program, therapy programs, full time dietician, daily spiritual services, morning rounds by their medical director, social outings in the community, and their Dream Weaver partnership. In addition to serving seniors with more active lifestyles, Sumner Place also offers 24/7 medical surveillance, which includes medication management, out-of-character response interventions, safety awareness, fall preventions, proper hygiene, and healthy nutrition.

“We create a living environment that radiates love, dignity, and safety while encouraging personal independence,” concluded Megan. “Whether it is sleeping in until ten o’clock in the morning or taking a resident to a movie they want to see, we at Sumner Place focus on personalized care.”

Kayla Schaf The Legacy Retirement Communities

Kayla Schaf with Legacy Retirement Communities shared how Legacy provides so much more than just living facilities for seniors.

“While we offer fantastic amenities like 24/7 nursing care availability, activities, outings, dining, and more, we find that people connect most with the amazing people that fill our buildings, residents and staff alike. We are people who love on one another and take care of each other when health or life events challenge us. We are a place where you or your loved one can be yourself and live the life YOU want. It is a place where you will hear belly laughs at happy hour or receive a caring squeeze just when you need it most.  It is a place that we all feel like we belong.

Purpose matters and relationships matter. We are all created with purpose and are here on this earth for a reason. Do you see and believe your purpose and value? Do you have people in your life that you enjoy? Who do you surround yourself with? Nurture those positive relationships in your circle that foster joy and happiness. What stories are you telling yourself about your life and overall happiness? It’s a lie that new friendships are difficult as you age. The truth is that I see that some of the best friendships and relationships are formed after the age of 75. Look outside of who you already know. Seek friendship with someone outside of your current circle.”

Natalie Leon
Visiting Angels

For seniors who may not have the network to make new friends or get out and socialize, Natalie Leon with Visiting Angels offered a solution.

“Visiting Angels is perfect for elderly adults who live alone or far from family, providing the company, conversation, and security of a dedicated care companion. These services can also be a lifeline for seniors who no longer have the energy, motivation, or physical well-being to live comfortably without assistance. Seniors aren’t the only ones whose lives are improved by this type of care. Family caregivers can find respite, relief, and peace of mind by hiring a care companion.”

Natalie shared her ideas for making the most of this time of year to brighten the lives of seniors.

“Now is a great time to explore new hobbies or rediscover old favorites,” she said. “Purchase a few craft supplies or adult coloring books for your loved one to explore. Dig out those old family photos and ask your loved one to arrange them in photo albums or scrapbooks. They’ll enjoy reminiscing over the photos while creating a family treasure album that can be appreciated throughout the years ahead.

Games are also a great way for a homebound senior to stay mentally engaged. From Scrabble to solitaire, dominoes, and jigsaw puzzles, make it a point to have at least one family game night at your homebound loved one’s home during the cold months. Single player games and puzzles are perfect for homebound seniors who live alone.”

There are many things seniors can do to stay mentally and emotionally upbeat. Other ideas include:

  • Keeping the view outside interesting for your homebound loved one. Place bird feeders, bird baths, or other nature attracting objects near windows where your loved one sits throughout the day. There’s something calming about watching nature happen in your own backyard, even when you can’t get outdoors.
  • Getting out the crockpot. Nothing warms the heart and soul more than a hot, home-cooked meal. Help your homebound loved one enjoy their favorite winter comfort foods by creating crockpot freezer meals that they can throw in the crockpot throughout the winter months.
  • Checking with your local library to see if they offer a visiting librarian service for homebound seniors, or being the librarian yourself and taking a fresh stack of good reads for your senior loved ones to enjoy!
  • Having a black-and-white movie party. Check out a stack of classics from the library like A Philadelphia Story, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or It Happened One Night—or maybe some good old John Wayne westerns! Spend an evening enjoying a movie with your senior loved ones, and don’t forget to bring the popcorn!
  • Getting out the old record player and vinyl records. Nothing will bring back the good times more quickly than favorite music from the past. It’s also the perfect catalyst for getting a little exercise on the dance floor (aka living room rug)!

Choose to stay positive and productive, and use this time to make a game plan so that when the warm days and fair weather do come to stay, you are prepared to enjoy them.

Now is a good time to tend to bookkeeping tasks and budgeting, a time to schedule necessary appointments such as doctor’s visits for coming months, and a perfect time to plan outings and events for the warmer days ahead.

You can help your senior loved ones by asking them for a general idea, even a single word, for the kind of experiences they’d like to have. Would they like to be more connected or active? Consider family and social events, taking a daily walk outside, or going on an outing such as a road trip, even if it’s only a half-day excursion to a nearby national park. Take tours of assisted living communities if a change of living circumstances is in order. Lincoln’s senior communities are staffed with caring and qualified professionals who are as eager as you are to help your loved ones build a happy and fulfilling life as they age.

Aubrey Paulsen
Tabitha

One wonderful option in assisted living is GracePointe by Tabitha. Aubrey Paulsen, senior living advocate at Tabitha, was able to share a little more insight.

“Lincoln’s premier senior living experience is GracePointe by Tabitha, Assisted Living and Memory Care Suites, catering to older adults looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle, enriching activities, and personal care with specialized memory care services available.

“In addition, Tabitha offers exceptional skilled nursing and long-term care at our main campus in central Lincoln at Tabitha Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and in the innovative environments of Tabitha Residences located on the main campus, in south Lincoln’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and in Crete, NE. All offer private suites and earn perfect five-out-of-five-star overall quality ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“I advise seniors to be proactive and start planning for future needs early, whether it is recovery time after a planned surgery to making a bigger decision as to whether you prefer to age at home or in a worry-free community, like GracePointe. Being proactive ensures that you and your loved ones aren’t scrambling in the midst of a crisis, and you live life according to your wants and wishes.

“Regardless of your needs, start with Tabitha. We can help you navigate the options, even when they include community programs outside of Tabitha’s realm.”

Christy Merritt
The Waterford Communities

Another excellent senior living option is The Waterford Communities. All of The Waterford Communities offer a home-like environment along with a host of amenities that allow residents to maintain their independence and the quality of life they deserve. Christy Merritt, the executive director of Waterford’s Lincoln facilities, says a unique aspect of The Waterford Communities is its size.

“The Waterford Communities are small in comparison to many of our competitors,” she said. “Our largest assisted living community has 41 apartments. The smaller community lends itself to more of a small-town feel that many residents say feels more like a home than a facility. Lower resident numbers also enable us to really get to know our residents and customize care to meet each person where they are in their journey.”

When giving advice to families on their choices, Merritt emphasizes the importance of insurance. “One of the most important things is understanding what insurance benefits you or your senior have and how those benefits can be applied to senior living options. Terminology in elder care is constantly evolving and many insurance policies, especially long-term care policies, fail to keep up, sometimes rendering a once-valid policy virtually useless. Many seniors find they need supplemental policies to keep up with their care needs. Very few people have unlimited resources. Not fully understanding your or your senior’s insurance coverage can cause you to quickly deplete assets and limit funds needed to pay for senior housing and care,” Christy said.

Amy Fish Lancaster Rehabilitation Center - Headshot

Amy Fish
Lancaster Rehabilitation Center

If a senior is in need of rehabilitation and medical care, Lancaster Rehabilitation Center offers both a short-term rehabilitation program and long-term care. The rehabilitation program is designed to promote recovery. “The program’s goal is to help you regain a full range of functional abilities while preventing complications. This includes frequent and thorough updates on your therapies, schedules, and progress. We invest time to work with you and your family to develop the right plan for long term success!” said Amy Fish with Lancaster Rehabilitation Center.

Long-term care offers 24-hour health care and assistance with daily tasks, including certified nursing assistants, culinary services, social services, beauty and barber shop services, and attending physician and therapy services. The Lancaster Rehabilitation Center welcomes individuals to bring belongings which will help them feel at home.

“Much of that will depend on your intended length of stay with us. We do encourage you to bring your personal items to make your room as homelike as possible. We only ask that you consider your own safety and the size of your room.”

Families considering the Lancaster Rehabilitation Center should take into consideration their loved one’s medical needs and talk to their physician. “The first thing we will need is a physician order from your doctor indicating a need for placement at our facility. Our staff will then do a pre-screening visit with you or your family to ensure we can meet your needs,” Amy explained.

Hillcrest Firethorn is another innovative provider of short-term rehabilitation services in Lincoln. With a brand new building featuring all private suites and one of the area’s largest rehab gyms, Hillcrest Firethorn is focused on helping aging adults recover from surgery, illness, or hospital stays until they are able to return home.

Jim Janicki
Hillcrest Health Services

“Often, our rehab guests receive home health services from Hillcrest Home Care, which provides continuity of care and therapy since we’re one provider,” said Jim Janicki with Hillcrest Health Services. “Hillcrest Firethorn also offers a limited number of long-term care accommodations for seniors who need 24 hour skilled nursing care, and our private pay rates are lower than many other providers, which is surprising considering the size and attractiveness of our private rooms.”

It’s advised to take a tour of rehab facilities when you don’t need one so you know where you would want to go if you ever did need one. It’s best to be prepared!

 

Jeff Madsen
Right Foot Forward Fitness

If you want to do your part to avoid the need for rehab, it’s important to stay fit and strong. We spoke with Jeff Madsen, owner of Right Foot Forward Fitness, about why committing to a fitness program is so important: “Sometimes seniors find that they are starting to struggle physically to keep up with their plans and busy life,” he said. “Things that weren’t challenging before start to become challenging. That’s where we can help. It’s very possible for seniors to increase their balance, proprioception, strength, and endurance, utilizing safe and effective exercises modified specifically for their needs.”

 

Not only does Jeff have the equipment, facility, and expertise to bring seniors back to a place of freedom and mobility, he has fun suggestions that can include family and friends in exercise and create great memories.

“I suggest working out together as a family,” Jeff said. “We have members who bring their visiting family members who are in town to work out with them as guests. My family even holds the occasional ‘Madsen Family Workout’ where we have three generations along with cousins and spouses working out together. The exercises can be modified appropriately, and it’s generally good for some laughs!”

Sometimes for aging adults who are largely healthy and active, the motivation to transition into a retirement community is less about imminent need for care and more about enjoying a lifestyle that is comfortable and convenient, with amenities geared towards their interests. The reason could also be to move closer to family members.

If you have an older parent or grandparent who is still in good health but they live alone out of state or even just a couple hours away, you should talk to them about moving closer to immediate family before it gets difficult for them to drive or get by on their own. A place like Carriage Glen, Lincoln’s independent living community for individuals ages 55 and up, could be the perfect place for them. With various floor plans to rent, an optional dining program, wellness area, coffee shop, library, transportation, covered parking, and even storage space, Carriage Glen is a great option for care-free retirement living.

If you’re looking at a community that doesn’t offer the storage space on-site that you require, you will need to find an off-site storage solution. Downsizing from a home to a retirement or senior living community usually means figuring out what to do with all the furniture and belongings that won’t fit in your space anymore. There might be items that you want to pass along to kids and grandkids one day, but you need more time to sort through everything and divvy it out. Store It All is a wonderful self-storage facility in Lincoln offering great customer service, easy online reservations and billing, and on-site security. Storage is one of many things to take in consideration when planning this type of major life transition.

Another wonderful option for senior living in Lincoln is Gramercy Hill, which offers independent living and assisted living services. Located on six beautiful acres of hills and walking paths, the community invites residents to enjoy comfort and relaxation while taking advantage of exceptional services. Gramercy offers residents a vibrant lifestyle that encourages health and independence through innovative recreational, educational, health, and wellness programs. Spacious apartments provide peace of mind with thoughtful safety features while also offering residents sought-after amenities and privacy.

Residents can enjoy the companionship of other warmhearted, interesting people who enjoy freedom from the worries and dangers of solitary living. Someone is always at hand if help is needed. Social events let residents get to know new friends and include everything from book clubs to social hours and day trips. Gramercy Hill offers much of the same warmth and comforts of home with the benefit of built-in community!

Another noteworthy provider of senior housing is the Lincoln Housing Authority, which prides itself on providing “more than housing.” This becomes evident at Burke Plaza, Crossroads House, and Mahoney Manor. The more than 270 men and women who live in these buildings have access to a wide variety of social and personal support services through the Resident Services Program and Congregate Housing Services Program.

The foundation for the Resident Services Program is the Resident Services Specialist at each building. Their job is to provide general support to the residents and to offer a wide range of activities and programs to enhance the overall quality of life at each building. They coordinate a monthly newsletter and calendar which lists activities and events throughout the month. Those activities include pot-luck meals, garage sales, wellness and health activities, van trips for shopping and recreation, soup suppers, games, tail-gate parties, movie nights, special events and holiday celebrations, and other activities too numerous to mention.

Lincoln Housing Authority has enhanced the Resident Services Program through an agreement with the LIFE Office of Aging Partners. Through this agreement, the Congregate Housing Services Program brings the services of two full-time social workers to the building. These social workers are able to work with individuals who need additional supportive services such as case management, personal care, house-keeping assistance, and transportation.

Pat Vermaas
Pemberly Place

Another excellent option to consider is Pemberly Place. Pemberly offers a comfortable and compassionate living community with services provided by a well-educated team of caregivers. We spoke to Pat Vermaas, APRN, about her thoughts on how seniors can live vibrant lives during any season.

“It’s important to stay in a positive setting around positive people,” she said. “This can help with difficult times. Get involved— take a class, join a club, meet new people, make new friends. Spend time around puppies or babies whenever the opportunity arises—there’s nothing better to brighten your spirits! If the weather cooperates, get in the sun and soak up some Vitamin D. Sunshine warms the soul! Take baby steps to improve your diet, including drinking water, and add some daily exercise. All these things will make a big change in how a senior feels on a daily basis, improving their energy levels and outlook on life.

Pemberly Place houses Archer Place Medical Clinic. Residents do not need to go out into the bitter cold or scorching hot. They do not have to battle snow or ice to be seen for things such as a sore throat, cough, soreness, weakness, shortness of breath, etc. The APRN is more than happy to see residents in our community. Seniors are able to see the nurse practitioner for acute illnesses or even as a primary provider, which is especially helpful if they have moved from out of town and need to establish a new primary provider. At Pemberly Place, we do our part to provide everything our residents need to live full, happy lives.”

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging - Headshot

Kyle Johnson
Care Consultants for the Aging

Perhaps the seniors in your life are in need of additional assistance with daily tasks, but they aren’t yet ready to move into an assisted living community. Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging explained the services they offer to help you find just the right person to assist you with your needs.

“We are Nebraska’s largest in-home care registry,” he said. “All of our caregivers are CNAs and they work directly for the client. The client is 100% in control of their caregiver schedule, and we do not require any minimum of hours or financial deposit to begin services. One resource Care Consultants offers is the ElderCare Resource Handbook.

This is a publication that our office puts out every two years, and it has hundreds of resources for any elder care need. Please visit LincolnHandbook.com, or stop by our office to pick a copy of your own.”

Kyle believes the cold winter months can be an isolating time for seniors, and offers this advice: “We strongly encourage our clients to find a senior center near their home where activities take place daily, and many times will include a meal option. Many local churches also have retirement groups that meet frequently and do local outings together.”

Beth Friesen
Oasis Senior Advisors

Beth Friesen, owner and CEO of Oasis Senior Advisors, also offered her ideas on coping with the still-cold months.

“We all need something to look forward to,” she said. “While some people absolutely love winter, I am not one of them, and many of our seniors aren’t either. Take advantage of those warmer days and try to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Think and plan for what types of flowers you might plant in the spring, and, perhaps most importantly, get together with friends.

Cold months bring with them increased isolation and loneliness. Have coffee, go to lunch or join in the activities at your local Senior Center. A study conducted at BYU has shown that 1) having a social network and 2) having a social support system are the top two predictors for a long and quality life. These two factors even topped obesity and smoking, which is quite amazing. While many people prefer to be in their homes, moving into a senior living community can greatly enhance both of these two factors.

Studies have also shown that practicing gratitude daily can literally alter a person’s brain chemistry. Greet each day with expectancy. If you are still on this Earth, then you have a purpose. I encourage everyone at any age to find that purpose. It may simply be to bring a smile to someone’s face on that particular day or to help someone know they aren’t alone.”

Finding hope and purpose isn’t only important for seniors, it’s important for their caretakers and loved ones as well. If you are the caretaker for a loved one who has been diagnosed with onset Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia and you aren’t yet ready to transfer them out of the home, Home Instead Senior Care can help. They understand that staying in the familiar surroundings of home can keep seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia feeling safe and loved. They believe the right care approach can help your loved one maintain a high quality of life even in the face of memory loss.

Home Instead pioneered memory care training. In collaboration with experts on Alzheimer’s disease, they created a training program called Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE: Changing Aging Through Research and Education®. This unique program equips their CAREGiversSM to deliver distinctive memory care based on research and experience. Rather than focusing on the diagnosis and symptoms of the disease, this program focuses on the care and dignity of the person with dementia. This relationship-centered approach enables CAREGivers to provide individualized care.

Home Instead’s training doesn’t stop with their professional CAREGivers. Knowing that family caregivers are looking for help too, they also offer free Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Training to any family that needs support. The free training is available through an online e-learning course or at the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lincoln at 1400 Dahlberg Dr., Ste. E.

Rhonda Saunders Hospice Community Care of Nebraska - headshot

Rhonda Saunders
Hospice Community Care of Nebraska

We spoke to Rhonda Saunders with Hospice Community Care to get her thoughts on ways seniors can make the most of this time of year.

“The start of the new year and many cold days ahead makes for the perfect time to clean and organize closets, dresser’s and cupboards,” she said.

“To make this sometimes daunting task enjoyable, ask some family members to join you and do a little reminiscing as you go. Take this time to share your stories with your loved ones about how you came to own some of your precious keepsakes and heirlooms. Maybe now is a good time to pass them along to those whom you know will cherish them as much as you do!

As you take a look back along memory lane it can also be a time to look forward and have the “conversation” with your family. The conversation about where you keep your important papers, do you have burial plans made, and most importantly, how do you want to be cared for if you are too ill to answer and decide for yourself? Have you selected your health care power of attorney, do they know your wishes for your care in various circumstances?

Hospice Community Care of Nebraska can help to guide you with this conversation by offering you The Five Wishes booklet for free! We can answer your questions about hospice and end of life care so you may make the best choices for you.”

If your senior loved one is in need of ongoing care for any number of ailments or health challenges, Hospice Community Care offers compassionate and skilled services. They promote dignified end-of-life care that allows patients and their families to live life richly, deeply, and meaningfully for as long as it may last, and to pass on with diginity in the setting of their choice. They offer assistance for patients to find comfort and assistance in their final moments of life. Knowing that their loved ones are in good hands also brings peace and comfort to family and other caregivers.

If you have a family member who is experiencing changes in their health, don’t postpone the important conversations until it’s too late. During a crisis, we aren’t always at the top of our game. Educating yourself and discussing your options with your loved ones before a crisis strikes is key.

Sometimes a family member may still have a lot of time ahead of them, but their evolving care needs require big, life-altering changes. Perhaps someone may say, “I just don’t want to talk about it,” or, “My children just don’t want to talk about it.”

Start with “fireside chats.” Perhaps the word has a slightly different meaning than when Roosevelt used it, but the concept can still allow for finding time to present ideas, reminisce, tell special stories, and identify what someone really wants. It is important to pass along plans from generation to generation.

These moments can involve from sharing thoughts and feelings of one’s experiences to recalling and reflecting upon important events within one’s life. The ability to recall and reflect serves different functions: boredom reduction, strengthening cognitive memory, achieving peace at the end of life, finding a sense of identity, maintaining a sense of well-being, problem-solving…the list goes on!

Using a “fireside chat” environment for caregivers and family members to come together encourages these positive interactions and provides a feeling of safety. It can also act as a doorway for connection and engagement in surprising ways.

Often people don’t realize how much they have wanted to talk about something—even something painful—until someone asks. Conversation is always a healthy approach for solving problems.

Karla Frese
Home Care Partners of Nebraska

Karla Frese, co-owner of Home Care Partners of Nebraska, is a proponent of these fireside chats as doorways to “courageous conversations” with aging loved ones to discuss the best options for their care while they are still able to make their decisions so they can maintain a sense of control and independence.

“Our team sees improved cognitive function, improved emotions, and an improvement in quality of life and overall happiness when people choose to have these conversations. Often, families avoid discussions about the future simply because they don’t want to think about mortality or changes in the lives of the people they love,” she said. “Many wait until a crisis occurs before they talk about their values and preferences, wishes for health care, or details about their finances.

It’s never easy to bring up what you think will be an uncomfortable topic. However, a lot of uncertainty can be avoided if you talk with your loved one before a crisis occurs. You may need to find another person to give an objective perspective when it comes to decisions—a mediator, perhaps.

Caring for a family member or a friend can be too big of a job for one person. Trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout, fatigue, and problems with your own health and well-being. It’s important to form a larger network of family and friends and tap into community resources, like Home Care Partners of Nebraska, to share the load. Take advantage of the free educational presentation Home Care Partners offers that reviews the five steps to create a caregiving plan:

  1. Start the conversation.
  2. Form your team.
  3. Make a plan.
  4. Find support.
  5. Care for yourself.

Finding resources and support is important when going through life challenges such as loss of a family member.”

Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home also offers useful resources for families to begin challenging conversations, specifically for pre-planning funeral services and better communicating intentions for the future. Their online Simple Planner makes having this conversation less painful and more focused, productive, and purposeful.

“Most of us plan ahead in life. We plan for our wedding, our children’s education, family vacations, and other significant expected life events. We also plan for the unexpected events of life by purchasing home, auto, and medical insurance,” they write.

“Funeral arrangements are a deeply personal choice. Pre-planning provides you with the time needed to make practical, detailed decisions that reflect your standards, lifestyle, taste and budget. We assure you and your family that the choices you make will be carried out as planned.”

As you anticipate the unfolding of spring and all the beauty and new life it brings, don’t lose sight of the value of the current moment, whatever it holds.

Now is the perfect time to help the seniors in your life make plans and arrangements for coming months, and there is much to do even before the spring arrives that is energizing and uplifting. Remember to reach out to qualified and caring professionals in the area who can help make this dream come true.