Fight the Flu

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice.

The flu season is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you have to join the party. At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a bout of influenza is not only miserable with its hallmark symptoms of fever, body aches, cough, sore throat and fatigue, it’s also dangerous for seniors, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. The flu can worsen existing chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, and chronic congestive heart failure. While complications of the flu can happen to anyone, the risk is higher for these groups, so it is critical to avoid infection and remain vigilant during flu season to prevent exposure to the flu.

Flu shots are the first line of defense against seasonal flu, while good hygiene and common sense play a part in avoiding the flu as well. At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to keep our residents, team members and families as healthy as possible at all times, including flu season, so we’re sharing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Take 3” list of preventive measures, which includes tips to limit the duration and severity of the flu if infection should occur:

  • Vaccinate! First and foremost, getting a yearly flu shot is the best bet in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the vaccine before the flu season hits their community, ideally before the end of October each year. While no vaccine can prevent every strain of the virus, the yearly vaccine is based on research that indicates which strains are most likely. It is vital that health care workers, those who provide care for infants under 6 months of age, and those at higher risk of complications of the flu be vaccinated.
  • Stop Germs. Good handwashing practices are a great defense against the flu. Wash hands often with soap and water. Limit the spread of germs by avoiding touching your nose, eyes and mouth. If you do become ill, stay home! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and limit your contact with others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours to avoid spreading the flu.
  • Take antiviral flu drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral medications can limit the duration and severity of the flu. For those at risk of complications of the flu, antiviral medications can mean the difference between a mild illness and a hospital stay. According to the CDC, antiviral drugs work best when started within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms, but they can still be effective if started later, especially for people at risk of flu complications. Antiviral medications must be prescribed by a doctor.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that flu season is no fun, but taking commonsense precautions like vaccinating and handwashing can help you avoid becoming ill. If the flu does hit, be sure to limit your interaction with others until your illness abates, and take antiviral medications if prescribed by your doctor. For more information about what we are doing in our communities to combat this illness, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Alzheimer’s Education for Kids

Posted by in Holidays, Expert Advice.

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the news can be devastating for families. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that for families with young children, the impact of a dementia diagnosis can be especially difficult to manage. A child’s reaction to the disease affecting a beloved family member may depend on several factors, including the age of the child, the relationship between the child and the loved one with dementia, and where the person with dementia lives (at home, with family, or in a senior community). Providing Alzheimer’s education for kids will make the journey easier for all family members.

It’s vitally important to talk to kids about what is happening when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Speaking openly and honestly about the disease helps to alleviate some of the fear a child may feel about the disease. For younger children, simply stating that “Grandma has an illness that makes her forgetful” may be enough to de-mystify the illness. Older children and teens may be able to understand a more complex description of dementia; they may also need help in understanding their emotional reaction to the person with dementia. Teens may be embarrassed and upset by the behavior changes they see in their loved one and may want to limit time spent with their loved one. It is essential to respect this choice and not to force the teen to spend time with the family member, as this could make the situation worse. Allowing children and teens to talk about their feelings is also helpful in managing the effects of the disease on younger family members.

The Alzheimer’s Association shares that providing Alzheimer’s education for kids who live with a person suffering from dementia can help them to better understand the changes they see in their family member. Focusing on connections and remembering what the person with dementia can still do also helps children adapt to the changes in the household. It’s important for children to understand that while their loved one may be changing, there are still things they can do together. Some activities for children and family members with dementia include:

  • Putting together a scrapbook with photos and mementos
  • Watching old TV shows together
  • Singing or listening to favorite songs
  • Coloring or drawing pictures
  • Planting or weeding a garden

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is frightening not only for the person diagnosed, but for the entire family as well. The disease brings changes, but these changes can be managed with the right support and resources. Senior Lifestyle’s Memory Care philosophy, embrace, focuses on maintaining connections with tangible reminders of favorite pastimes and interests, sparking memories and providing a sense of purpose for the person with dementia. We foster independence and communication for our residents and their families to make their interactions as enjoyable and memorable as possible. We invite you to learn more about our Memory care programs at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Give the Gift of Time

Posted by in Holidays, Expert Advice.

Are you struggling to find the perfect thoughtful-yet-practical holiday gift for an aging parent, grandparent or loved one? At Senior Lifestyle we understand that buying gifts for seniors can be a challenge. If your loved one has down-sized or moved to a senior living community, there may not be room for decorative items; in this instance, practicality often outweighs novelty when looking for the best gift for a senior. For loved ones struggling with decreased mobility or cognitive decline, gifts that improve quality of life, add comfort, or help maintain health are always a great idea. For families separated by many miles, gifts that allow seniors to maintain connections are a wonderful option. We’ve compiled a short list of gifts for seniors that we think you’ll find helpful as you do your holiday shopping.

Does your loved one struggle with mobility, low vision or hearing loss? Adaptive devices like Audiobooks and television headphones or speakers can bring enjoyment back to reading or watching favorite shows, while a large button universal remote like the Doro HandleEasy simplifies the operation of a TV or home stereo for those with low vision or limited dexterity. Adaptive clothing options include MagnaClick shirts which replace buttons with easily fastened magnetic closures and Hickies, a lacing system which turns any shoe into a slip-on. Walker bags and belt bags are also great gifts to provide hands-free storage for seniors.

Products that provide comfort are practical and thoughtful gifts for seniors. Innovative new products such as a Mosaic weighted blanket have been proven beneficial in alleviating insomnia. Weighted or heated lap blankets are quite popular. Desktop UV lamps that mimic sunlight can help to alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder for seniors who are unable to get outside, while a sound/white noise machine can help your senior loved one sleep soundly. Many additional ideas can be found at Modern Senior Products.

Gifts for seniors that help to maintain social and family connections are as easy as creating a photo book through one of the many services like Shutterfly and Snapfish or even presenting a digital photo from such as the Aura, which allows updates remotely and eliminates the need for a memory stick. Does your loved one wish to share family lore but isn’t sure where to start? StoryWorth makes the process easy for seniors to share stories, emailing a question/story prompt each week to your loved one. They then simply write their answers and the stories are compiled into a beautiful keepsake book.

For gifts that keep giving, a subscription to a meal ingredient/delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron are a healthy option. Seniors who still enjoy cooking but aren’t able to get out for fresh ingredients may find these subscriptions or a subscription to a grocery delivery service helpful and practical. “Item of the month” clubs include options such as fruit, cheesecake, coffee, flowers and more and can be found at www.amazingclubs.com. For those seniors who love movies,  consider a subscription to Netflix.

At Senior Lifestyle we’ve learned that regardless of circumstances, seniors overwhelmingly agree that it’s the thought that counts. They also share that the gift of time is always most welcomed. No matter what your budget is, a phone call, a visit, or an email providing updates on family members can bring joy to the season for your senior loved one, whether they live at home or in a senior community. We’ve also found that the gift goes both ways, providing the giver with joy as well! For more information on a Senior Lifestyle community near you please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Tools for Financial Planning

Posted by in Expert Advice, Personal Finance.

Talking to Mom and Dad about money can be difficult, and not just when you’re young and need $20 for dinner and a movie. As parents age and need more care, the conversation may become a necessity between adult children and parents. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always get easier to talk about money, and sometimes the financial picture an elderly loved one paints is a bit more rosy than the reality. Additionally, seniors often consider finances completely private information and any attempt at learning more about what options are available can be seen by a senior loved one as prying. To help start the financial planning conversation, Senior Lifestyle has compiled a list of resources and tips to utilize when you’re unsure if your loved one’s finances are sufficient for the care they need.

Learning more about your family’s unique financial situation and needs is the first step to finding a senior housing solution. To facilitate that important first step in financial planning, many of our communities have partnered with Elderlife Financial, an organization that specializes in helping families navigate the senior housing journey and understand financing options available to them. Elderlife can provide education and additional resources on applying for Veterans Benefits and Long Term Care Insurance, as well as valuable information on bridge loans prior to the sale of a home. Contact a Senior Lifestyle Community Advisor for more information, or visit the Elderlife Financial website to get started.

Another financial option for some seniors is the conversion of an existing life insurance policy to pay for a loved one’s stay at a Senior Lifestyle community. To determine if your insurance policy can be converted into a Life Care Benefit Plan to cover expenses of care, simply visit the Life Care Funding website for information on conversion. There is no cost or obligation for this financial planning service and the information may well provide a valuable option for senior housing and care.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand the value of companionship as well as financial health, so we also offer the affordable option of Shared Suites for seniors. This option provides newcomers to communities with a friend right at the outset and residents are matched based on personality, interests and backgrounds to ensure compatibility. In addition to the resources note above, this option can make senior living much more affordable and comfortable.

For a comprehensive list of these resources and tips, as well as a senior financial planning calculator, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. Our website also provides contact information for our senior communities in your area, where a visit with one of our senior housing professionals is just a click away!

Staying Ahead of Scams Aimed at Seniors

Posted by in Expert Advice.

With the holidays and a new year around the corner, Senior Lifestyle wants to provide awareness of common scams aimed at seniors as well as ways to avoid these scams. We also encourage our residents and families to speak up if they feel they’ve been a victim of fraud. The earlier a scam is detected, the higher the chance of making any kind of financial recovery as well as stopping the perpetrator from victimizing another person.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, fraud against seniors is becoming more prevalent and is often difficult to combat. Many seniors who have been victims of con artists are reluctant to report the fraudulent activity out of embarrassment or fear that they will be seen as unable to manage their financial affairs. Seniors can also become easy targets for scammers because of their inherent belief that others are as honest as they are, and their perceived susceptibility to products that promise improved cognitive function, renewed health or immunity to diseases such as cancer.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) notes that seniors are seen as good targets because of the perception that they have a sizeable nest egg. NCOA shares some valuable tools to avoid scams aimed at seniors by highlighting several of the most common scenarios:

  • Lottery/Sweepstakes scams

This trick, while old, still circulates regularly. Victims are told they have won a sweepstakes or lottery, but that they must make a payment to cover “taxes and fees” on their winnings. Often, seniors who fall for the ruse are sent a check that initially appears to have great value, and only a few days later, bounces. During that lag time, the con artists will pocket the money for “taxes and fees.”

How to Avoid: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that if you have won any kind of prize, you shouldn’t be asked to pay mysterious and suspicious fees within a day or two of the award.

  • Charity scams

In the wake of natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes and wildfires, we can often feel helpless to provide aid to those impacted. One particularly repugnant scam often occurs in the aftermath of major disasters. Callers claim to represent a charity seeking money to help pay for disaster recovery or aid for the victims. The money is then misdirected to the scammer’s account. Some charity scammers will send emails soliciting donations as well. Often the email contains a link to a purportedly legitimate charity organization which sends unsuspecting seniors to a bogus website that looks just similar enough to the actual organization’s website to scam would-be donors.

How to Avoid: If you wish to donate to charity following a disaster seek out the charity yourself. Do not make donations to organizations that cold-call you.

  • Medicare Card and Medicaid Card ID Theft Scam

Callers claiming to represent various government agencies or organizations tell seniors that their Medicare or Medicaid cards must be replaced. This is merely a ruse to get a senior’s personal information to perpetrate identity theft. This information is then used to bill Medicare for fraudulent charges.

How to Avoid: Never give personal information like your social security number or banking information over the phone, and be suspicious of calls from people who claim to represent official agencies and then request personal information.

Be sure to warn senior family members and friends to practice caution when sharing information over the phone or the internet and to ask for advice if they are unsure whether to share private information. By staying alert to scammers and being vigilant about personal information, as well as reporting when a scam is suspected, we can make a con artist’s job much more difficult and eventually impossible! To learn more about this topic or others covered at Senior Lifestyle communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.