Downsizing

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The decision to move to a senior community has been made, the community chosen and a suitable living space secured; what happens next? Most families face this question after the initial decision-making is complete. At Senior Lifestyle, the goal is to make each move as seamless and stress-free as possible for new residents and their families, and with over 30 years of experience helping families manage the move-in process, we’ve identified some tips that may provide additional guidance during the potentially trying process.

Quite often, the most daunting task that faces seniors or their loved ones when contemplating a move to senior living is tackling the issue of “stuff”. Identifying what stays and what goes is a difficult process for many, and most times this difficulty is magnified by the years and memories attached to each treasure. For most, the process is an emotional one to begin with, and this sorting just adds to the burden. Even the home itself holds memories and can be hard to leave. It can help to have family members step in to move this process forward, especially those who understand the emotional attachment to certain items.

 

Some key tips for downsizing

 

 

  1. Be clear on the size and layout of your loved one’s new living space. Keeping an item only to find that it just doesn’t fit into the new home’s area can be frustrating and time-consuming.

 

  1. Start with the least-used areas of your loved one’s home. The items in these areas may have slightly less sentimental value; therefore, decision-making will be a bit easier.

 

  1. Have a family get-together! If certain items are to be distributed to family members, sharing the history and memories attached to each object can be a meaningful way to pass them to new owners.

 

  1. Take photos. In addition to sharing the sentimental value of items shared, photos of the item with its new owner can ease the burden of parting with that item. Knowing that a cherished treasure will be well-loved may also aid in the “letting-go” process for your loved one.

 

Remember, making a move can be a stressful event for seniors, but with some patience and a clear understanding of your loved one’s needs in a new home, the downsizing process can be a positive experience for everyone involved. Sharing memories is a wonderful start to a new beginning in a senior community, so make the most of this opportunity! For additional information on any aspect of the move-in process, or to learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Pets Help Us Stay Healthy

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Anyone who has owned a pet knows that coming home after a rough day and sharing quality time can help melt the stress away, but did you know that there are health benefits associated with having a pet? Surprisingly, researchers are only recently learning what many pet parents have known for years: our pets provide emotional support and unconditional love, having done so throughout recorded history. Researchers, though, have only recently begun studying the connection between pet ownership and health. “When you see how long we’ve had pets in our lives, and how important they are to us today, I think it’s amazing that the study of human-animal interactions is still so new,” says Dr. Sandra Barker, director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Researchers have only recently begun to explore this wonderful relationship and what its health benefits might be.”

The emotional and social benefits of sharing our homes with pets are fairly clear, but how does owning a pet affect our physical health? For dog owners, it comes as no surprise that they specifically are shown to get more exercise on a daily basis than those without a canine companion. This exercise in turn leads to greater cardiovascular health. Daily walks with our four-legged friends also help prevent obesity, and in older adults, can help maintain mobility. Additionally, dog owners have been reported to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, as well as faster stress recovery.

While dog owners outnumber cat owners in the United States, we certainly can’t leave our feline friends out of the health benefit conversation! Cats have some unique qualities that are beneficial to their owners’ health. Although most cats don’t require the same amount of physical activity from their owners as dogs, their purrs have been proven to lower blood pressure and stress. The purring of a contented cat also resonates at a frequency rate between 20 and 140 Hz, a range that is considered medically therapeutic and has been shown to lessen recovery time from muscle injuries and broken bones.

You don’t have to actually own a pet to reap health benefits; therapy animals have become more and more common in settings such as hospitals and senior communities, with patients and staff reporting positive results after interacting with them . At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve seen the connection between pet ownership and health firsthand, and some of our senior communities even have a permanent pet resident! These special ambassadors of goodwill welcome visitors to our communities and provide residents and staff with companionship each day. To learn more about any of our pet-friendly senior communities near you, please visit our website.

Keeping our Residents Healthy with Vaccinations

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August is back-to-school month, with children returning to class and young adults leaving for college. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity for people of all ages to make sure they are protected against dangerous or even deadly diseases. While vaccinations for school-age children are often the focus in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that adults need immunizations as well. Vaccinations against the flu, measles, and pneumonia provide protection to not only those immunized, but their communities as well.

At Senior Lifestyle, the health of our residents is our highest priority. Our communities take every opportunity to promote recommended vaccinations for residents, families, volunteers, and members of the surrounding community. Whitney Lane, RN, BSN, MSW, a Senior Lifestyle Divisional Director of Health and Wellness, shares that each Senior Lifestyle community holds an annual flu shot clinic, that also offers the pneumococcal vaccine. Timely immunizations against these and other diseases is a vital part of preventing widespread outbreaks and maintaining the health of our seniors.

Vaccinations produce immunity to disease by introducing a weakened form of the antigen of the disease, causing the body’s immune system to create antibodies against that antigen. When faced again with that particular antigen, our body’s defenses are able to act quickly to contain the threat and limit or avert that illness. For those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, avoiding infections like the flu can help limit complications of the underlying disease.

For seniors, keeping up with vaccinations is imperative. As we age, our immune system can weaken, increasing our susceptibility to certain diseases and illnesses. In addition, certain vaccines lose their efficiency over time, making booster shots necessary. Wellness visits for adults should include a discussion with your doctor about what immunizations are recommended.

For more information about health and wellness topics, or to learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website.

The Importance of Friendships | Senior Lifestyle

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Here at Senior Lifestyle, we think that, of all the awesome holidays in August, Friendship Day may in fact be our favorite! We like this holiday so much that we feel it should be Friendship Day every day, because every day in our senior living communities, friendships are developed or even re-kindled when new residents move in. We often hear stories from family members and residents about the discovery of long-lost friends “just down the hall” and we’re delighted when friends re-connect! New friendships are wonderful too, and often happen when residents welcome new neighbors to take part in an activity or a social hour. There’s an old song that says “Make new friends, but keep the old…” and we feel there’s no better advice!

According to the official Friendship Day website, in 1935 the United States Congress declared the first Sunday in August to be National Friendship Day. The idea caught on, and Friendship Day became an annual event. The day has become so popular that it is now celebrated internationally, and in 1997 Friendship Day gained a world-renowned Ambassador of Friendship when the United Nations voted none other than Winnie-the-Pooh to this prestigious role.

Congressional proclamations and celebrity endorsements aside, research from Harvard Medical School shows that frequent social interaction and strong social connections are healthy, no matter your age. Quality over quantity appears to be a key to this health benefit, as individuals with a limited but strong social support system seem to fare as well as those with a vast group of connections. The effects of these strong social bonds appear to be as powerful in their influence of long-term health as a good diet, adequate sleep, and a non-smoking lifestyle. Studies show that this benefit is especially meaningful for seniors, as it decreases the risk of dementia significantly.

When asked what factors led to a search for senior living, many residents at Senior Lifestyle communities say that a need for more social interaction was a deciding factor. Additionally, the availability of group activities is often a source of satisfaction for these residents. What does all this mean? In a nutshell, it means that forming (and maintaining) strong friendships and social connections not only feels good, but it IS good! As health strategies go, it doesn’t get much easier than being a friend: no weights to lift, no special equipment, and no membership required!

To learn more about Senior Lifestyle, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Being a Long-Distance Caregiver

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At Senior Lifestyle, we know that providing care for a loved one can be a daunting task, as well as an infinitely rewarding one. We understand that caregivers face an ever-changing array of challenges daily; frustration often walks hand in hand with fulfillment as the caregiver provides for both the physical and emotional needs of their loved one. Being a “long-distance caregiver” can add difficulty to an already difficult process, and with the growing trend of adult children living hours away from aging parents it is vital to have clear communication and local support. For families without this support, a visit can become quite stressful for both the caregiver and the senior, with quality time often taking a backseat to more urgent matters such as bill-payment and yard maintenance.

Many caregivers describe the pull between practical matters and quality time as a balancing act. For a long-distance caregiver, especially an adult child, this balancing act can become more difficult with each visit as more help with activities of daily living becomes necessary for the senior. Relationships between child and parent can become strained as their roles change. Adult children often feel guilty when unable to visit parents as often as they’d like, and even guiltier when they must delegate everyday tasks to their loved one’s friends or neighbors. Ironically, subtle changes in a loved one’s physical appearance, behavior, and ability to manage their surroundings are often more apparent to a long-distance caregiver than to a friend or neighbor who sees the senior regularly.

• Is the refrigerator adequately stocked? Is the food spoiled? Preparing meals can become a difficult task for the senior; it may be time to look into meal delivery or help with meal prep.

• Are there noticeable changes in the condition of the home? If your loved one has always been neat and tidy and you find that cleaning is going undone, this may be a sign that help is needed with housekeeping duties. The same holds true for personal appearance; dressing and grooming can become burdensome and exhausting for some seniors with decreased mobility.

• Are the bills paid? Do you notice unopened piles of mail? Paying bills and balancing a checkbook can become stressful for your loved one. A trusted friend or family member may need to step in to keep up with money matters.

Finding local resources is a key factor in successful long-distance caregiving. Homecare agencies have been a boon to the aging-in-place trend and can often help keep a senior living safely at home longer by providing assistance with activities of daily living such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Local senior centers can often provide referrals for services as well. The National Institute on Aging has made several valuable resources available for long-distance caregivers who’d like to learn more about how to make the most out of the time they are able to spend with loved ones.

Discovering that your loved one needs more care than can be managed at home? Visit our website to learn more about independent and assisted living options in your area. Senior Lifestyle believes that preparing for and researching next steps such as respite care and assisted living can help long-distance caregivers focus more on quality time with loved ones and less on practical matters relating to safety and care. Shifting this focus helps caregivers make the most of each visit, and that’s what counts.

TALK ABOUT IT: National Healthcare Decisions Day

Posted by in Holidays, Special Events, Expert Advice.

If you had a health crisis, would your family know your wishes about your care? Sadly, for many people the answer is no. Families often find it difficult to ask questions about what their loved one would want in the event of a health emergency, and a conversation about advanced care planning is frequently delayed until a crisis occurs. As stressful as this conversation may be, it is an important one to have, and sooner rather than later. Senior Lifestyle proudly supports National Healthcare Decisions Day as a means of empowering our residents and families with information and access to tools to make advanced care planning easier.

National Healthcare Decisions Day, observed on April 16th, encourages meaningful conversations about advanced care planning. This annual event aims to empower people with information on how to discuss and put in writing their wishes should they become seriously ill and unable to communicate those wishes to a loved one or healthcare provider. In addition, the initiative provides healthcare providers with tool kits to aid them in starting a conversation with patients about advanced care planning. The project also focuses on much more than just living wills, inspiring families to discuss the aspects of care that matter most to them and encouraging hospitals and other care facilities to respect those wishes.

For many, the prospect of talking about final wishes is daunting, and the process of making those wishes known to loved ones and healthcare providers may seem mysterious and unnecessarily convoluted. As an initiative of The Conversation Project, NHDD works to make the process of advanced care planning less frightening by providing simple, concise information to families, healthcare providers and communities. This information is free and available in all 50 states, using uniform tools tailored to state guidelines to enable individuals to make their wishes known to their loved ones and healthcare providers.

Provide yourself and your loved ones with peace of mind by taking the time to think about and share your wishes. For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, go to theconversationproject.org or visit our website at Senior Lifestyle to find a community near you and start a conversation today.

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

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In the exploration of senior living options, it can be hard to compare independent living versus assisted living or determine whether you or your loved one requires memory care. It’s important to be aware of the difference between independent living and assisted living in order to make your transition more seamless.

Independent Living
For seniors who are looking for a retirement community, or would still like to live on their own but among people their own age, independent living versus assisted living is the way to go. If you are still able to care for yourself, independent living allows for the freedom and flexibility to do whatever you like, with a few added perks to make life hassle-free and enjoyable.

At Senior Lifestyle, the experience of senior independent living includes a well-trained and dedicated staff providing the highest standards of hospitality services. Many of our residents began the process of transitioning to our communities by asking why you would want to move into an independent senior living community in the first place. Having someone on hand in case of emergencies can provide peace of mind, even if you don’t end up needing it. In addition, you have the freedom to do what makes you happy while living in a private studio, a one-bedroom apartment or a two-bedroom apartment.

Assisted Living

When looking at the difference between independent living and assisted living, one big difference is clear: assisted living honors your independence while providing an added level of care, service and security personal to you. This added level of care may include help with bathing, dressing, medication assistance and more as needed.

Assisted living communities from Senior Lifestyle offer a range of social and active lifestyle opportunities. Residents can decide how they’d like to spend their time every day, with activities supported by licensed nurses and aids who are available 24 hours a day. Though you’ll have help with everyday tasks, you’ll also have the freedom and support to socialize and pursue your interests just as you always have.

Memory Care
For residents and their families dealing with the effects of Alzheimer’s or similar forms of dementia, Senior Lifestyle provides memory care neighborhoods. These neighborhoods go beyond simply independent or assisted living and provide a balance between safety and engagement to suit the lifestyles of our memory care residents. We strive to make our memory care neighborhoods supportive and comfortable, so that you can rest easy knowing that your loved one is safe but not confined or kept from enjoying their favorite activities.

In addition to stimulating and engaging life enrichment programs, Senior Lifestyle offers a variety of services and amenities to all of our residents regardless of level of care. Whether you’re looking at independent living versus assisted living or even if you’re seeking memory care for your loved one, Senior Lifestyle can provide a level of support to help you live out your best life.

Who Are Senior Living Advisors?

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When considering senior living arrangements for yourself or your loved ones, whether you’re looking into independent living, assisted living or memory care, getting help from senior living advisors can be incredibly beneficial. These advisors have the knowledge and expertise to help you or your elderly loved ones transition into senior care. So who exactly are senior living advisors?

Senior living advisors are experts in senior care arrangements. Not only can they provide objective advice on the best level of care for you or your loved ones, but they can also save you a huge amount of time. Instead of visiting senior communities and sifting through all the information by yourself, senior living advisors can provide you with a list of options and amenities to help you make your choice.

Senior living advisors are also experts local to the community where you’re looking to live. They can provide you with a wealth of knowledge regarding the ins and outs of relocating to a new community, and they will provide you with all of the options within the area.

In general, senior living advisors will take the time to get to know you and your family so that you can make the best decision. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices and want to remove some of the stress of the situation or if you are simply seeking someone who is more informed on senior care, using a senior care advisor will benefit your entire family.

At Senior Lifestyle, we have senior living advisors at each community who are trained to be a resource to you and your loved ones throughout the transition into senior care. For more advice on looking into senior living, be sure to visit the Senior Lifestyle website and explore our resources.

What Makes Senior Living and Retirement Apartments Special?

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In a sense, a senior living apartment is like any other apartment: a place to live, a place to recharge, a place to entertain, a place to call your own. But at Senior Lifestyle, our retirement apartments are vibrant and full of life.

Each of Senor Lifestyle’s 170-plus communities are run independently, so features and amenities differ from place to place, but most of our senior living apartment communities include a variety of services in the base rental rate, such as restaurant-style meals, therapy services, check-up procedures and routine housekeeping services. The majority of our communities are for ages 62 and above , so you’ll be surrounded by neighbors with similar interests.

If those interests involve reading, watching movies, playing pool, playing games or exercising, you’re also in luck. Our senior living apartments also feature a variety of recreation rooms, including libraries, movie theaters, billiards rooms, business centers, gaming lounges, fitness clubs and hospitality suites. We also have in-house life enrichment programs , ranging from gardening to acting to happy hours.

At Senior Lifestyle, our family-first philosophy puts the well-being of our residents and their families at the forefront of everything we do. We know the unnerving feeling that can accompany the decision to uproot and move to a new home. It can feel like you’re leaving behind a part of yourself and the memories that have been built throughout years. But a new home also represents new beginnings and the chance to create new memories and friendships. Senior Lifestyle is always here to help you and your family in any way we can.

Residents at our senior living apartments pay monthly rates based on apartment type. Most locations offer three basic floor plans: private studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments. Check retirement communities near you for availability. The features included in our rates are a significant reason Senior Lifestyle’s senior living apartments is set apart from traditional senior housing and retirement apartments; we try to provide all the familiar comforts of home and then some.

Anything we don’t offer on the premises of our retirement apartments can be reached through our transportation to local shopping centers and attractions. And if you ever want to play host, while still offering your visitors a little space of their own, we also have guest apartments that can be reserved.

We hope we’ve given you a sense of what our lively and spirited senior living communities are all about. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Senior Lifestyle team for any more information .

How Old Do You Have to Be for Senior Housing?

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At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to act as a resource for those learning more about senior housing, particularly concerning areas of the industry less familiar to our residents and their families. Today we’re taking a closer look at one aspect of a topic we often hear questions about from families and residents: legal age requirements for senior housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA), the 1995 legislation that governs senior housing and 55-and-over communities, addresses key aspects of the rules surrounding senior housing economics. Outside of HUD senior housing rules, there are a lot of additional questions about age requirements for senior housing, but determining the economics of living in a Senior Lifestyle 55-and-over community doesn’t have to be one of them.

HOPA was designed to provide affordable housing and safe living arrangements for qualified senior citizens. It is technically an age exception to the Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status.

When it comes to the communities themselves, HOPA has three primary provisions. The first provides for places that provide general assistance to elderly persons. The other two deal with specifics about age. The first age-specific rule is simple: A community must be solely inhabited by persons 62 years of age or older. The other regulates 55-and-over communities and is a little more complicated.

In order for 55-and-over communities to qualify for HUD senior housing support, they must satisfy three additional requirements. First, at least 80 percent of the units must have one occupant who is older than 55. Second, the community must publish policies and demonstrate its intention to be a 55-and-over community. Finally, the community must verify the ages of its residents to remain eligible.

All of this is handled by Senior Lifestyle communities, so you can focus on making the best living decision for you or your loved one. While each of Senior Lifestyle’s lively 170-plus communities are operated independently of one another, all are bound by HUD senior housing rules. The majority of Senior Lifestyle communities are limited to 62-year-olds, but you can check for senior housing in your area for specific details.

If you think becoming a Senior Lifestyle resident is right for you or your loved one, we also encourage you to check out our Senior Lifestyle’s Senior Suites program. Nationally recognized as a leading prototype for affordable senior housing, Senior Suites distinguishes itself from traditional affordable housing options by offering daily residential programming, weekly transportation services, diverse dining options and daily check-in programs.

To learn more about our vibrant senior housing options, check out our elder care services. You can also check out our financial planning calculator to see which senior caring options are right for you. Whatever you’re considering, you can be sure that Senior Lifestyle is here to help and happy to assist you and your family.