Traveling With Elderly Parents

Posted by in Expert Advice.

The holidays are prime time for travelers, and whether we’re visiting family or vacationing to get a break from winter, we love to hit the road, take a train, or board a plane to find ourselves a change of scenery. At Senior Lifestyle we know that holiday travel can be stressful for many and can often be especially difficult for seniors, so we’re sharing a list of tips and practical advice to make travel more enjoyable for seniors and their families. Whether you’re just going over the river and through the woods or making a coast-to-coast journey, a little forethought can make the trip easier for everyone. Before you begin your holiday travels, take a peek at the following advice about traveling with seniors:

If you’re traveling by car, plan to make frequent stops. Seniors need to stretch often and the break is good for you too! Prior to your trip, map out points of interest and if possible, build those attractions into your stop-and-stretch schedule. Be sure assistive devices like canes and walkers are easily accessible, along with any needed medications. It may seem a bit awkward at first, but also be sure to remind your loved one to use the restroom facilities at your stops and you’ll drastically reduce your chances of frantically looking for an exit with facilities in another ten miles.

If you’re planning to fly, try to book a non-stop flight to your destination. Long layovers or sprints through a crowded airport to catch a connecting flight aren’t fun for anyone, especially an elderly parent with limited mobility. It may take longer for your loved one to board as well, so check with your airline about their boarding policies for those with disabilities. Take advantage of the assistance offered at the airport; even if Mom or Dad normally walk unassisted, a wheelchair can help ease fatigue and make the airport experience less stressful. Be sure to reserve any special services needed when booking your flight, as they may be unavailable otherwise.

No matter what your mode of transportation may be, remember to be realistic about your itinerary. You may be up for an early hike in the morning, an afternoon swim in the pool and a late supper and dancing in the evening, while Mom and Dad may find that doing even two out of those three activities is too much for one day. Be sure to plan accordingly. If your parents like to turn in early, you may be able to spend some time enjoying things like dinner and dancing at your own pace, and there are no rules that say you have to spend every moment of your vacation together. The down time may be enjoyable for them, as well as a much-needed break for you.

Consult with your loved one’s doctor before planning a trip. Make sure he or she feels that your elderly parent is able to manage the stress of traveling and the change in routine. Make sure all medications are refilled and in their original bottles for ease of identification. Get a list of meds from the doctor as well, along with instructions for their use. When traveling by plane, be sure those meds are in a carry-on bag to prevent missing doses if checked luggage is delayed or lost.

A truly unique travel book, Planes, Canes, and Automobiles by Valerie M. Grubb is a great book to read prior to taking a trip with your senior loved one. The book is packed with practical advice, highly amusing travel anecdotes, and heartwarming stories about she and her mother’s extensive travels together over the past 20 years. It serves as a cheerful, funny guide to traveling with seniors.

No matter how you travel, enjoy this time with your parents! Remember all those road trips as a child in the backseat? How excited you were for the day when you had control of the radio, heat and air conditioning? Well, now’s your chance to exercise that control, at least to a certain extent. It’s also your chance to make some amazing memories with your loved ones, and maybe even learn a bit more about the people you care about most. Happy (and safe) travels from Senior Lifestyle!

Sales & Marketing in Senior Living

Posted by in Careers.

Sales and marketing in the senior housing market is a fulfilling career for many reasons, not the least of which is forging a relationship with seniors and their families. The manner of transition to senior living varies widely amongst individuals. Some families approach the move to senior living in a positive manner, looking forward to the retirement lifestyle, while others are in crisis mode and feel that their options are limited due to the circumstances surrounding their loved ones’ move. Senior Lifestyle’s goal is to provide the best possible outcome for both of those families, and that means listening more than we speak and hearing with the goal of understanding, not simply to formulate a response, but to form a true partnership for families in transition, whatever their circumstances. The key to this positive outcome is a skilled salesforce.

It’s often said that good salespeople provide the customer with what they need as well as what they want; they speak less and listen more. Janine Witte, Senior Lifestyle’s National Director of Sales, says successful relationship-building is a skill she looks for in those who join the salesforce at any Senior Lifestyle community. Additionally, she notes that those who recognize the key differentiators in their communities and are skilled in conveying how those key features are beneficial to seniors and their families find success in the senior housing industry. While the steps to securing a sale are universal, each family is unique and deserves to be treated as such.

Willingness to try new approaches to sales, marketing and lead-generating events is crucial to success in senior housing sales, especially in a growing industry where many of the consumers don’t want the product they (or their families) know they need. A solid foundation plan to become a visible presence in the larger community, perform activities such as daily calls and visits to referral sources, and a commitment to follow-up is crucial to success. The ability to create and follow a marketing plan, create opportunities to market the community, and most importantly, ask for the sale sets the Senior Lifestyle salesforce apart in every market. Additionally, individuals with backgrounds in real estate, insurance, or other fields where relationship-building is crucial to success often find the transition to senior housing sales to be a fulfilling and seamless career change.

Each Senior Lifestyle community has a highly trained, skilled sales and marketing team with the expertise to help guide families through their unique journey to senior living. To learn more about the exciting career opportunities in sales and marketing at Senior Lifestyle, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

What to Expect When You Visit

Posted by in Expert Advice.

At Senior Lifestyle, we want your first impression to be a great one, so when you step through the door of any Senior Lifestyle community for your first tour, we strive to meet and exceed your expectations. We understand that making decisions about a loved one’s care can be stressful for all involved, so our goal is to make each step of your senior housing journey seamless and hassle-free. Amy Leake, Director of Sales and Marketing at our Carriage Court of Memphis community, shares, “We want guests to feel welcomed and at home when they tour our community, and part of that welcome is getting to know them personally and learning about what’s important to them. Small gestures like our welcome sign and the homemade treats offered as a takeaway at the end of a visit also help us show our guests hospitality and make them feel welcome.”

Not sure what to expect when you visit a senior community? Our list can help!

What can I expect when I visit a Senior Lifestyle community?

  • You can expect a professionally trained team whose goal is to understand your situation and create options for you and your loved ones. We’ll ask questions about your senior housing search to gain an understanding of your unique interests and your care needs so that we can address what’s most important to you.
  • You can expect a tour of our community tailored to your needs and interests. We want you to enjoy your new home, and the best way to do that is to discover activities and social settings that are of interest to you. Whether you enjoy games, cooking, gardening, music, sports, arts and crafts, or outings to nearby attractions, we have something for everyone and we’ll make sure we highlight what interests you on your tour.
  • You can expect to meet some of the team members you’ll see daily as a resident. We want you to feel comfortable and welcomed, and those familiar faces will be available to help you with your daily needs. You may even meet a soon-to-be new neighbor on your tour!
  • You can expect the utmost in professionalism. We understand that looking for senior housing can be daunting and the process can be confusing, especially when you’re comparing communities, amenities, pricing and location. We’ll do our very best to help you make sense of your options so you can make the most well-informed choice possible, whether that choice is our community or another on your list.
  • You can expect clear, easy-to-understand financial and payment information. Our aim is to assist you in finding and attaining the lifestyle you choose. Your financial health is as important to us as your physical and emotional well-being, and we’ll provide information on any benefits available to help you afford the lifestyle you’re looking for.

Each Senior Lifestyle community has a highly trained team with the expertise to help guide a family through their unique journey to senior living. To learn more about what a Senior Lifestyle community in your area has to offer or to schedule a tour, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Thanks and Giving

Posted by in Holidays.

Thanksgiving is upon us and once again we here at Senior Lifestyle find ourselves grateful for the traditions we share, the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and the official start of the holiday season. Every year at Senior Lifestyle we’re humbled by the giving spirit of the people in our communities. We are thankful for our team members for their contributions to each community, our residents and families for placing their trust in us, and our community volunteers for giving of themselves.

Whether you host a Thanksgiving feast or join friends for dinner out, we hope that somewhere between baking pies, basting turkeys and Black Friday shopping, you have the opportunity to truly reflect on the gifts of the holiday season. We’d also like to provide the following, a handy list of Thanksgiving facts to educate and amaze those friends and family members in the short interim between the last piece of pie and the kickoff of the football game!

The history of Thanksgiving as a recognized holiday begins with Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor and writer who repeatedly lobbied for a national day of thanksgiving in hopes that the holiday would bring unification to the states and “awaken in Americans’ hearts the love of home and country, of thankfulness to God, and peace between brethren.” A prolific writer, Hale was the author of several book and hundreds of poems, most notably “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Her advocacy started in 1846 and paid off when President Abraham Lincoln supported legislation to make the holiday official in 1863.

Butterball has provided a much-needed service for novice turkey roasters since 1981, when a group of home economists answered 11,000 calls from anxious hosts with turkey related dilemmas. Since then the number of experts has grown to over 50, who answer over 100,000 questions via phone, online chat, email and text during the holiday season. Some of the more memorable calls include the confused cook who wondered if she could still safely cook her turkey when it was sudsing; she had apparently washed the bird in dish soap. Also noteworthy was a call from a man who had discovered a turkey from 1969 in his father’s freezer and wanted tips on how to cook a 30-year old bird. Just for the record, he was advised to dispose of it and buy a new one. The most common question: What’s the best way to thaw a turkey? Hint: NOT at room temperature on a bus trip home from a casino, as one gentleman attempted, and DEFINITELY not in the hot tub in the back yard as another gentleman opted to try.

Football has long been a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. The first Thanksgiving football game was held in 1876 between Yale and Princeton. The Detroit Lions first played football on Thanksgiving Day in 1934, hosting the Chicago Bears in front of 26,000 fans. The game was broadcast by the NBC radio network on 94 stations, and the Lions have played every Thanksgiving since then, except for the period between 1939 and 1944. The game was televised for the first time in 1956.

A final fact: it’s not the tryptophan in the turkey that makes us drowsy, it’s the carb-laden side dishes that bring on the yawns! Certain nuts and cheeses actually contain more tryptophan per serving than turkey, while yams, potatoes and dinner rolls are full of carbohydrates that cause sleepiness after a little overindulgence. And remember, if the room gets quiet after your Thanksgiving feast, you can always liven things up with your newfound Thanksgiving facts and wow the crowd with your knowledge!

Happy Thanksgiving from Senior Lifestyle!

What is respite care?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

At Senior Lifestyle, we realize that sometimes a short break from the responsibilities of home can be just what the doctor ordered, so many of our communities offer short-term stays designed to refresh and rejuvenate. Respite care is often seen as a break for a caregiver who may need to attend to other responsibilities, but the benefits offered to the senior loved one during their stay are just as important to us.

What is respite care and what can it do for me?

Respite care is a short-term stay in a senior community designed to provide the same level of personal care as well as attention to clinical needs that would be offered to a long-term resident in the same community. Stays can be as short as a week or two, or extended to 3 months or more, depending on the desire of the resident and the community they are visiting. Spending the winter months enjoying activities and social events instead of shoveling can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air and change of scenery!

Should I consider a short-term stay at a senior community?

In short: absolutely! There are many reasons to consider a respite stay, but here are some of our top reasons:

  1. If you are beginning to consider your options for senior housing, respite stays are a great way to learn about a community and experience the environment for yourself. Winter is an especially great time to visit, and we design our respite stays to act as a ‘staycation’.
  2. If you are recovering from a surgery or illness that leaves you uncomfortable staying at home alone, respite care in a senior community may be a great option for you. A short stay will give you and your family peace of mind as well as confidence that when you do return home, you’ll be ready to care for yourself.
  3. If your regular caregiver is unavailable for any reason, you may find that respite care provides a wonderful break for you in a caring environment. Your loved ones can rest assured that you will have a comfortable, relaxing stay in a Senior Lifestyle community.

What kind of care and amenities are offered with a respite stay?

Short-term guests in Senior Lifestyle communities enjoy the same amenities that our long-term residents receive. Exceptional dining, events and activities, and a personalized service plan assure that your stay will be enjoyable and your care appropriate to your needs. Senior Lifestyle’s unique “Be Our Guest” program provides guests the opportunity to stay in a furnished apartment, mingle with staff and residents, and “test drive” the lifestyle before making a commitment to a permanent move to a senior community.

To learn more about respite care offered in a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

There’s Snow Place Like Home

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

There’s an art project of epic proportions in the works at Lake Barrington Woods, one that sprang from the generosity of a local resident. Lake Barrington Woods Director of Resident Programming Mirka Biegunska shares, “In the beginning of the year I got a phone call from a resident of Lake Barrington wanting to donate snow village figurines. When I went to pick them up I found out they had 10 HUGE containers full of snow village pieces, a total of about 200 pieces! The pieces had been collected over a lifetime but had never been displayed all together.” Although she wasn’t quite sure how to manage the display of the items, Mirka knew that with the creative residents and staff at Lake Barrington Woods, they’d come up with something. And WOW, did they ever!

Mirka took the Lake Barrington Woods bus to pick up all the snow village pieces (all 10 containers!) and brought them back to an excited group of residents and staff. Knowing that buying display tables to house the collection would cost a lot more than they wanted to spend, they came up with a plan to build their own tables using boxes from the kitchen, newspaper, tape, glue and paint. Construction on the tables (which are a total of 24 feet long) began in early September,  the project should be complete right after Thanksgiving, and the masterpiece will be ready to display at an upcoming holiday open house event at Lake Barrington Woods in December. Says residents Julie Roels, “It is amazing what we all came up with. It is truly a piece of art. I’m so happy I was able to be a part of this project and can’t wait to see when it’s all done. I just come here sometimes and sit and think ‘what an amazing and beautiful piece of art’!”

Mirka also notes, “A lot of residents were involved in this process, some by collecting newspapers, some with painting and some with putting on final touches. We started this project in the beginning of September and a lot of labor, a lot of glue, tape, newspapers, paint, sore fingers, and stains on clothes made the process even more fun.” Resident Jean Warren chimes in, “I got paint on my shoes but who cares, it was all worth it! It looks amazing already! I can’t wait to show it to my family when it’s all assembled.”

Lake Barrington Woods residents and staff would like to welcome the local community to come and view their beautiful snow village art project. Says Mirka, “We’d like to give back to the community for this wonderful donation, so we are hosting a holiday open house on December 16th where our friends can visit, enjoy holiday cheer, music, cookies, and hot cocoa while they admire the masterpiece of our snow village!” The event at Lake Barrington Woods will be from 1:30 to 3:30pm on December 16th, with the official unveiling of the snow village at 2pm. Join Lake Barrington Woods in celebrating the holidays and be sure to bring your cameras and snap a photo with Santa Claus during your visit! For more information on this event, please call Lake Barrington Woods at 224-633-2318.

Minimize Holiday Visit Stress

Posted by in Holidays, Expert Advice.

The holidays are here, and at Senior Lifestyle we know that holidays can become difficult to manage when your loved ones are aging. Whether you are a caregiver or a relative traveling to Mom’s house for a short visit, either scenario can become stressful. If you’re a caregiver you may struggle to enjoy the time together while managing your loved one’s medications and daily schedule, and if you’re traveling to visit, y0u may notice changes in your loved one that weren’t apparent at your last visit, overshadowing the joys of the season.

The excitement of having friends and relatives visit often comes with an increase in anxiety for seniors and their caregivers. Everything from changes in routine to meal planning for a crowd can cause holiday stress. If you’re a caregiver, there are ways to keep the holiday season from becoming overwhelming for both you and your loved one. Mayo Clinic provides some practical tips to help keep the joy in the holiday season while minimizing holiday stress:

  • Grief can be a stressor for seniors during the holidays. For seniors who’ve lost a loved one, the holidays can trigger difficult memories. Many find that talking about those loved ones who are no longer present and reminiscing about holidays spent with them can be a joyful experience. Acknowledging the loss helps to ease the pain and can become a meaningful activity.
  • Dietary concerns seem to affect nearly everyone over the holiday season. The temptation to overindulge is ever-present and can be especially worrisome for seniors who are on multiple medications or need to follow a restricted diet. Eating a healthy snack prior to a large holiday meal can help to ease temptation and the effects of overeating. Staying hydrated and avoiding excessive alcohol intake also helps maintain healthy habits.
  • Upholding traditions can become a point of contention and stress for seniors and their family members. When a senior can no longer take charge of the holiday meal or the decorating, it may be time to create new traditions that allow your loved one to remain an active participant. Going “potluck” for holiday dinners can limit the stress on one family member; additionally, scaling back on decorations can keep the tradition from becoming overwhelming. Gift-giving can even be accomplished with online shopping for those who can no longer manage the chaos of holiday-season malls.

Holiday stress is manageable. With some extra forethought, the holiday season can be a joyful occasion for seniors and caregivers, as well as visiting friends and family. Simplifying, planning ahead and managing expectations can ease anxiety for everyone involved. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe building new traditions and finding new ways to celebrate can add meaning to the season!

Resources for Families

Posted by in Expert Advice.

November is National Family Caregivers Month and at Senior Lifestyle, we understand how difficult becoming a family caregiver can be. The Family Eldercare website notes that as Roslyn Carter once said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”

The reality of “parenting our parents” can be a sobering one, as traditional family roles change and needs evolve. Senior loved ones may feel resentful of their need for help and angry at the “intrusion” into their personal lives, siblings may feel unsure of their responsibilities in the new order of things or unprepared to take on those responsibilities, and the primary caregiver may feel overwhelmed by the entire process. While these changes can be stressful for all involved, there are resources to help navigate the family caregiver journey successfully.

Resources are readily available for family caregivers, from online support groups to books written by authors with direct experience as a family caregiver:

Providing care for a loved one is a demanding job where frustration often walks hand in hand with fulfillment, but it doesn’t have to be done in isolation and there are resources available to families dealing with the practical realities of caregiving. For more information on local resources or care available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Moments Matter

Posted by in Holidays.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, designated by Ronald Reagan as a time to show support to dementia sufferers and their caregivers in 1983, when less than 2 million Americans suffered from the disease. That number has grown to nearly 5.4 million today and the need for awareness and support is greater than ever before. With this in mind, Senior Lifestyle supports  Go Purple with a Purpose for Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month and we invite you to do the same. The Alzheimer’s Association shares ways to show your commitment to a world without Alzheimer’s:

  • Educate your colleagues about Alzheimer’s
  • Encourage friends to wear Purple
  • Host a Purple with a Purpose Event
  • Decorate your office or home door Purple
  • Light your building Purple
  • Send communications in Purple
  • Turn your Facebook icon Purple
  • Hang Purple ribbons or a banner on your building or home

There are currently close to 15 million individuals in the United States serving as caregivers for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and while showing support for the Alzheimer’s Association’s goals and honoring those caregivers is a great place to start, there are also tangible ways to show support for families dealing with the reality of a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease. Learn how to help manage the disease and its effects, as well as how to respond to the person with dementia.
  • Stay in touch. Visits, calls and notes are meaningful.
  • Offer support in the form of a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. The stress of a dementia diagnosis affects the entire family.
  • Engage the person with dementia. Even as the ability to communicate lessens, the dementia sufferer benefits from contact and familiar faces.
  • Offer to help with tasks on the family’s to-do list. Prepare a meal, offer a ride or help with errands.
  • Provide a reprieve for the caregiver by spending time with the person living with dementia.

 

At Senior Lifestyle we understand that when memories fade, it’s the moments that matter. Families facing a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease need support and patience in order to adjust to the reality of living with the disease and its effects. We offer support to caregivers by providing respite care and connections with support groups as well as providing education for families and caregivers. Additionally, our embrace philosophy offers a holistic approach to care for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about support for caregivers or our unique approach to memory care at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Building Our Dining Experience

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

At Senior Lifestyle, we believe the dining experience should be as meaningful as any other activity in our communities, and our approach to the dining experience, from locally sourced ingredients to menu input from residents, reflects our commitment to quality. From the moment a guest, resident or family member enters the dining room to the last bite of dessert and sip of coffee, our goal is to provide an unmatched experience in every community. Additionally, we recognize that fine dining isn’t just about food; nowhere is the word community expressed better than around a dining table in the company of friends.

While “restaurant style dining” is a current trend, we aim higher. We aim for a deeper relationship with our residents than the hospitality model, a relationship that allows our dining teams to tailor each resident’s experience to their personal preferences. Resident food committees actively collaborate with dining teams to evaluate and enhance the dining experience in each Senior Lifestyle community. In our quest to provide the exceptional fine dining experience our residents deserve, we are committed to recruiting, hiring and retaining talented food service professionals who are interested in furthering their careers.

David Cyplik, Corporate Director of Dining Services for Senior Lifestyle, shares that he sees a lot of growth opportunity in Culinary Management for the senior living industry. He also notes, “Senior Lifestyle is always looking to promote talent from within; when a team member shows a passion for their work and an interest in developing their skills, we want to help provide them with the means to achieve that professional development.” Dining Directors at Senior Lifestyle communities are often given the opportunity to assist with Grand Opening events at other communities as well as share best practices with peers at sister communities, an option that strengthens each community and provides dining services team members with a clear picture of the career paths available to them.

For team members interested in developing their skills, Senior Lifestyle’s goal is to provide consistent training and growth potential. To that end, David says, “We’re developing a comprehensive training program that maps the route to supervisory roles, from Dining Room Manager to Executive Chef to Dining Services Director. This aligns with our strong preference for developing and recruiting talent from within and gives team members a logical progression within their career path.” Sounds like a recipe for success.

Have an interest in pursuing a career in fine dining? Visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com for a taste of the career opportunities at a Senior Lifestyle community near you.