Moving to a senior living community is a big step and you may be concerned that it automatically means losing independence. While making the decision to move can be difficult, moving to an Independent Living community just may be the start of a new, inspiring chapter of your life — filled with new friendships and great adventures. Independent Living may not be something you’ve heard of before. When thinking of senior living, nursing homes or assisted living communities are usually the first things you think of. But maybe you’re too young and too active for those places. That’s where Independent Living comes in.
WHAT IS INDEPENDENT LIVING?
Independent Living is all about making it easier to enjoy the things that make you happy, which will then enable you to live on your own for as long as possible! Enjoy Apartment, Villa or Cottage style living without the hassle of maintaining a home or property. The all-inclusive rent typically covers utilities, meals, housekeeping, transportation and activities. That means one payment covers it all.
Activities like yoga, gardening, painting, bingo, bible study, billiards, swimming, sports and field trips —just to name a few— are considered everyday fun. As an added bonus, properties that have a home care agency on-site can offer personal assistance for things like medication management or assistance with bathing or dressing in the privacy of one’s apartment. Independent Living genuinely offers peace of mind for all, with senior friendly apartments and a 24-hour emergency call system. If you drive and want to keep your car, that’s just fine. However, if you don’t have your own car, or just don’t feel like driving, don’t worry! Independent Living communities provide scheduled transportation services. Remember, Independent Living is all about maintaining independence, not giving it up.
WHO IS INDEPENDENT LIVING FOR?
Is the upkeep and maintenance of your home beginning to feel overwhelming? Is it time to downsize? Do you have to rely on family and friends to take you places? Have you lost a spouse? Are you feeling lonely? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then you will be excited to find out more about retirement living. The quickest and easiest way to create a network of friends who are at the same stage in life and share similar interests is to join a senior living community. You will enjoy daily nutritious meals with friends in a restaurant style atmosphere while engaging in great conversation. Discussions over breakfast usually include smiles and nods over which activities or events are of interest that day. For those that are looking for a quieter time, you can read in the library, get a manicure, see a movie at the on-site movie theater or even just sit in one of the many common areas to relax or people watch.
Proper nutrition is essential for good health. Like most seniors who grew up with sit down family dinners, the idea of eating a meal alone is not appealing. In addition, as we age and our metabolism naturally slows down causing loss of appetite, seniors tend to eat less. But living in the right environment with chef prepared meals, amenities and the opportunity to socialize is a game changer! It has been proven that seniors who share a meal time tend to sit longer and eat more. Socializing is equally important to one’s well-being both emotionally and physically.
Independent Living is ideal for seniors who are overall self-sufficient and generally need little or no assistance with activities of daily living. The average age of most residents is 75+, with some communities accepting those under 55+ with disabilities. Independent Living is the perfect setting for someone who appreciates and/or benefits from the option of not having to cook, drive, maintain a home or do housekeeping. However, if cooking is something you love and enjoy, many apartments come with full kitchens.
Are you concerned your family won’t visit you? Well, don’t be! One of the ways Independent Living communities try to bring families together is through community events with activities appropriate for children. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have so much fun; they’ll be in a hurry to visit again! Family visits become much more frequent and enjoyable for everyone involved. And don’t forget you can come and go as you please. So you are able to go on visits of your own! Do you have a pet that is part of the family and you want to bring them with you? Luckily, most Independent Living communities realize how important the companionship with your pet is and are pet-friendly.
Independent Living communities are determined to create a happy, fun, safe and active lifestyle designed just for you. If you’d like some more information, please contact Mom’s Care Plan. We are here to help guide you and assist you in finding the right Independent Living community. And, if you’re still not sure if Independent Living is the best option for you, we would be happy to find the place that is.
No matter how healthy, independent or active your loved one may be, one bad fall could change everything. Someone living on their own may have to change their living arrangement, while someone already of poor health may have a tougher time recovering after a fall. Let's take a look at some ways to help prevent your loved one from falling.
One of the best things you can do for your loved one, regardless of their living situation, is to have them wear some kind of medical alert device that also provides fall detection. Today there are many on the market to choose from with competitive and affordable pricing. These systems are now so discreet, some look like a fitness watch, that even the most independent of seniors won't feel embarrassed to wear one. This ensures that they will have the help they need should they not be able to physically call for it themselves, or in some cases, hide that the fall ever happened. Unfortunately, some seniors are afraid of losing their independence or are embarrassed to admit to a fall.
Consider installing some safety devices for the home. Many falls happen in the bathroom and while going up and down the stairs. For the bathroom, a raised commode with handle bars, bathing bench, chair and shower grab bars are simple additions, as well as a non-slip mat to the shower floor. Make it so that all soaps and shampoos are within reach, as well as their towel or robe. For nightly restroom trips, invest in a nightlight with a motion sensor, to clearly light the way. To avoid going to the kitchen for a glass of water, buy a carafe or thermos to keep on the bedside table.
If the flight of stairs has become too difficult and installing a stair lift is not an option, you might want to try moving the bedroom downstairs. Even if there is no dedicated bedroom, bring down the mattress and make an area of the living quarters a makeshift bedroom. Daybeds are a great option as well! Having a clear floor space is very important. A tidy space is a safe space, so make sure there is nothing lying around that could be tripped over. Rearrange the furniture to make for optimal space, hide all electrical cords under furniture so there's no chance of tripping, have shoes tucked away in a closet and books, knitting or crocheting neatly organized in a convenient basket that is easily accessible. Putting remote controls, telephones, tissues and an extra pair of glasses all within reach may be a good idea also.
While items like area rugs may not keep the pathways clear, they may be a necessity, so make sure they wont slip or slide or roll up by using a non-slip mat underneath or some tape to keep it in place. Rearrange items in the kitchen so there won't be a need to reach for something on a high shelf. Express the importance of asking for help should something be out of reach. If cozy slippers are worn by your loved one, try a pair with a back on them for a more secure fit. Slippers without a back can easily fall off and cause a fall.
Another great option is to consider an Independent Living Community, where all of the above safety measures are already incorporated in a senior friendly environment. As an added bonus, some senior living properties have a home care agency on-site, offering personal assistance for things like medication management or assistance with bathing or dressing in the privacy of one’s apartment. There is peace of mind knowing that help is just a step outside your door and that there is a staff in place 24/7. Additionally, here are ongoing daily opportunities to socialize and participate in on and off site activities. The social component is equally important to one’s well being both emotionally and physically. Activities like yoga, painting, bingo, bible study, billiards, swimming, sports and field trips just to name a few are considered every day fun. The greater Houston area has many such beautiful communities that make life easier to enjoy without the hassle of maintaining a home or property and without losing an ounce of independence!
We hope these suggestions will keep your loved one safe and happy. Contact Mom’s Care Plan if you’d like more helpful fall prevention tips or would like a list of Independent Living communities that fit your budget. And please use our comment section to share any other suggestions you may have! Mom's Care Plan would love to hear from you!
May is ALS awareness month. ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gerhig's Disease, after New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig, who was the first famous face associated with ALS. Others may think of British physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking. ALS affects people of all genders and races, with up to 15 new cases diagnosed every day, so raising awareness is critical.
ALS, (amyotrophic laterals sclerosis), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As it progresses, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost, which may cause one to lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. The onset of the disease is gradual and symptoms may vary, with some having trouble grasping objects and others noticing a change in the pitch of their voice. Some common symptoms of ALS are twitching and cramping of muscles, especially in the hands and feet, and loss of motor control in the hands and arms—as well as impaired use of arms and legs, weakness and fatigue, tripping and falling, dropping things, uncontrollable periods of laughing and crying, and slurred or thick speech. While individuals with ALS lose their strength and ability to move their arms, legs, and bodies, the disease does not affect their ability to see, taste, hear, or recognize touch, and it usually does not impair their ability to think or reason. The speed and order of the disease’s progression varies from person to person.
ALS usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70 and is 20% more common in men than in women. There are approximately 20,000 Americans living with the ALS and military veterans are twice as likely to contract it. There are two different types of ALS; sporadic and familial. Sporadic is the most common, responsible for 90%-95% of cases. Familial ALS is inherited, with a 50% chance of offspring inheriting the gene mutation. ALS is difficult to diagnose. Because there is not a specific test or procedure to establish a diagnosis of ALS, a series of clinical examinations and diagnostic tests are necessary to rule out other diseases that mimic ALS before a positive diagnosis can be given.
Though a diagnosis of ALS can be overwhelming and difficult to process, research continues every day for a cure. Mom's Care Plan has the privilege of helping many families through this journey and continues to offer resources, support and options for care.
This years Woodlands Caregivers Conference is being held on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Christ Church United Methodist. This is an excellent resource for all caregivers, with experts available to answer questions and provide guidance. Best of all, it's free.
This free conference offers a full day of skill building and informative workshops for those who are caregivers for their loved ones. There are also resources available for caregivers of children with special needs.
Mom's Care Plan is presenting during the Session One Workshops, at 9:30 am. On the brochure, you will find us listed under the title of "Understanding the Differences Between Senior Living Communities." We will be discussing the differences between senior living & care environments, what you can expect, what to look for and costs involved. If you are interested in learning more about Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing, this is the right workshop for you. Even though our session is only about an hour long, we will be available the entire day to answer your questions and help you consider the best care options for your loved one.
While we would love to see you at our session, we encourage you to attend this most beneficial conference. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained and many wonderful professionals who want to help you help your loved one.
Houston has a great number of assisted living, independent living and memory care communities. Before making any major decisions for your loved one, talk to your family and keep communication open to be sure everyone is comfortable with the senior living environment being chosen. Unfortunately, during difficult times where life decisions are being made, families may begin to argue instead of being the united and comforting presence your loved one needs most.
While caring for your parent should be a shared responsibility between siblings, that may not always be the case. It’s common for one sibling to take the lead role of decision maker - possibly because that sibling may have power of attorney or siblings may be living in different areas, leaving responsibility to the sibling who lives closest to the parent. However, everyone should pitch in where they can and all siblings should be kept informed of anything regarding the care and health of your parent.
Consider having a family meeting once a month. Make a list of topics to go over and address any concerns you may have for your parent. Create a calendar of doctor appointments, barber shop/beauty salon visits or any other activities and see what each sibling is willing to take on. Assess any products your parent may need, such as toilet articles or new clothing items and try to reach an agreement on how these items will be paid for. Suggest making a bank account specifically for these types of purchases, where each sibling may make deposits and contribute what they can.
Most importantly, think of making your parent happy. The last thing any parent wants to see is their adult children at odds with each other.
Choosing a new senior living environment in the Houston area doesn't have to be a difficult process. While it may feel overwhelming to choose from the many options available, keeping the best interest of your loved one at the forefront will serve you well. Always think of what would make your loved one happiest, most comfortable and feel like they are truly home. And always know that Mom's Care Plan is here to guide you in the right direction.
HELPING YOUR SURVIVING PARENT COPE
The loss of a parent is one of the most heartbreaking things to deal with in life. But helping the parent who is still living cope with this great loss, and the reality of a new life without their spouse, is a very difficult undertaking. The thought of moving on after losing someone you have built a life with may be unimaginable. Taking little steps with your parent at the beginning will lead to greater independence and healing for them in the future. Here are some ideas to help your parent start their healing process:
Getting your parent out of the house is very important. Sitting inside and being alone all day is not good for anyone, especially someone who has just lost their spouse. Go for a walk together! Make time for some fresh air! Remember that "rest is rust" and you want to keep your parent as healthy and active as possible. Head over to the local senior center and see if your parent may be interested in some classes or volunteer work. This is a great way for your parent to meet new people and keep busy. If your parent has a hobby like reading, knitting or golfing, help them find a club to join. The possibilities are endless if you just help your parent take that first step.
There is nothing more comforting than family. Our lives seem busier and more hectic by the minute, but at this difficult time it is more important than ever to make time for family. Weekends are great for family dinners, and visits from children and grandchildren are the best medicine. If you don't live close by, introduce your parent to video chat. Scheduling a time of day to speak with them will give them something to look forward to. Invite them to your child's school play or soccer game. Being involved in the lives of their grandchildren is a great blessing for a grandparent.
Memory Lane is a Great Thing
Your parent just suffered a tremendous loss. Help keep the memory of your deceased parent alive. Encourage your children to ask for a story about their grandmother or grandfather. Ask how they met, what they were like as a young person or just sit and listen. Suggest making a family tree or putting together a scrap book or photo album. It's a fun activity for all ages and a great way to learn about your family history, all while keeping your loved one's memory alive.
Consider a Companion of the Furry Kind
If your parent is an animal lover, a furry companion may be just what they need to get themselves on the path to healing. A dog or a cat could bring a new sense of friendship, caring and responsibility.
Surround your parent with all of your love, your sympathy, your understanding and your patience. This may be a bumpy road. But just knowing that you are there to hold their hand through this most trying journey will bring them great comfort.
If you are a caregiver, you have the hardest job in the world. The responsibility of taking care of someone else and in particular someone you love does not come without a price to pay. The emotional and physical toll endured can leave one susceptible to any number of health conditions. As a senior or baby boomer the odds are stacked even higher. Research has found that 63% of caregivers over the age of 65 are at higher risk of dying in comparison to others of the same age who are not caregivers. The combination of prolonged stress, depression, physical demands of caregiving and lack of sleep can affect your overall health sometimes leading to early death. At Mom’s Care Plan we hear from countless families caring for family members with various types of Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, ALS and Huntington’s Disease to name a few. On a daily basis, we hear how a caregiver has gained or lost a great deal of weight, is spending more time at home – isolating themselves because it takes too much preparation or energy to go out. Caregivers spend so much time taking their loved one’s to the doctors that they neglect themselves and their own appointments. Clinical depression is higher than 46% and yet many do not receive advice or care from a medical professional. Instead excessive use of alcohol or drugs are often the emotional band-aid used to cope.
There isn’t much you can do to change a chronic diagnosis or the predictable path of more & more time and care needed as things progress. But you can take precautions to safeguard your health and sanity. Think to yourself, what will happen to my loved one if something happens to me? Here are some first steps in the right direction:
1)Make an appointment to get a wellness check up and keep it.
2)Utilize any resources for time off whenever possible; day care, temporary assisted living stays, church organizations or in home services
3)When family or friends offer to help – say YES!
4)Exercise – walking 15-30 minutes just a few days a week is not only good for your body but helps clear your mind
5)Reduce Stress – Prayer, meditation, yoga – Even 10 minutes a day will make a world of difference.
6)Sleep – Rest - Our bodies need to replenish and repair.
7)Join a Support Group – sharing with others that are going through the same journey is comforting and brings knowledge
Starting with even one of the above recommendations will have you on the road to a better, more healthier you. And as a bonus, caregiving will be at it’s best.
As another year comes to an end, many of us are taking inventory of all the New Years resolutions we made at this time last year. What we did and didn't do, our achievements and disappointments. Common resolutions to lose weight, travel more, quit smoking, exercise, eat healthier, get more sleep, spend less.... If you're at all like me, you will be carrying over a few of last years resolutions to start anew, of course this time with more determination. But as we count down the final hours to begin 2017, this article from yesterday's New York Times puts auld lang syne in perspective. So Let's add just one more resolution to our list that could improve our loved ones overall health. The gift of "time" and making it possible for our elderly seniors to socialize with their meaningful friends. Keep in mind that like exercising this one bears repeating year after year.