What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

senior isolation

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Do you feel isolated in your own home? Do you feel removed from family and friends? Do you feel alone with your own thoughts, with no one to talk to and no opportunity to engage with your community? Unfortunately, for a large and growing number of seniors, the answer is yes.

Approximately 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older. According to the Council on Contemporary Families, it only gets worse; by the time people reach age 85, about 40% live by themselves.

The thought of our aging parents, grandparents and loved ones living alone is sad enough, but the concern gets even worse when we look at what the research says about the effect of isolation and loneliness on seniors.

Facts About Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in older adults

In 148 longitudinal studies with more than 300,000 participants, older individuals with strong social ties had a 50% greater likelihood of survival over the study period (average of 7.5 years) compared with those who report feeling isolated or lonely due to poor social networks and relationships. According to the authors of one study on senior isolation and mortality, “This effect is greater than that of other well-established risk factors for mortality such as physical inactivity and obesity, and comparable with cigarette smoking.”

Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health

In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults has also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.

Isolation may limit access to benefits and services

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the physical, cultural and geographical barriers that isolate seniors from their peers and communities “can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” By not taking advantage of such benefits and services, seniors may become even more disconnected to their family, friends and communities as their financial situation worsens or as their physical/mental health declines.

How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors Reconnect

Address health issues that may contribute to isolation

Seniors can become withdrawn and isolated for several reasons, including undiagnosed or untreated health issues. Seniors who experience incontinence, for example, may be hesitant to leave their homes, or seniors hearing difficulties or deteriorating vision may avoid social situations out of embarrassment or frustration. Talk with your loved one about their health and address any issues that may be limiting their social life. You may need to speak with your loved one’s caregivers or health providers for a clearer picture of their overall health.

Encourage self-esteem and self-confidence

Body image doesn’t get as much attention as other aging concerns, but it can be a major contributing factor to senior isolation. Older adults may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. Compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world. Researchers have also found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

Give your loved one a pet

Taking care of an animal can combat senior isolation and loneliness in many ways. For seniors who are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, having a dog means going on walks and visiting dog parks—in other words, getting out of the house. Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. If your loved one is not capable or willing to care for a pet on their own, check to see if there are any volunteer organizations in your city that match therapy animals with homebound seniors for weekly visits, such as Therapy Dogs International and Caregiver Canines. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Make transportation easier

An analysis of data from the National Household Travel Survey found that among adults 65 and older who reported not leaving home in the past week, more than half reported that they would like to get out more often. Lack of transportation is one reason why seniors may not get out as much or as often as they would like. Offer rides to older loved ones or introduce them to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to make it easier for them to get out of the house.

Notify neighbors, friends and caregivers

If you’re concerned that an aging parent, grandparent or loved one is isolated and lonely, notify other people in their lives who can help make a difference. If a loved one is aging in place, for example, reach out to their neighbors and explain your concerns. Caregivers and health providers should also be notified if you are worried that a loved one is not getting as much social interaction as they want or need.

Socially-Focused Senior Living

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who don’t live near family and friends. That’s why we provide activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and enrich the lives of those we serve. Learn more about how we help seniors socialize in comfortable, welcoming environments.


Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Posted by in Expert Advice.

nurse talking with an assisted living resident

7 Signs it’s Time For Assisted Living

Trying to decide whether or not it’s time to transition your parent or senior loved one to an assisted living community can be uncomfortable at best and stressful at worst, especially if they’re resistant to the idea. What factors should you take into account? Are there any red flags that you should know about? If you encounter any of the signs discussed below, it may be time to initiate this conversation.

Here are seven signs that it’s time to move into an assisted living community:

1. Poor Health That’s Just Getting Worse

A chronic health condition that’s deteriorating by the day is a red flag. According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have two or more conditions. These numbers are especially troubling when you consider the fact that most deaths in the United States are due to chronic illnesses.

Rather than trying to manage your loved one’s declining health on your own, it may be time escalate their care needs and partner with a team of trained staff who are dedicated the wellbeing of their charges.

2. Changes in Hygiene

If you’ve noticed changes in your loved one’s personal hygiene like unpleasant body odor, greasy, unkempt hair or dirty fingernails that are too long, broken or jagged  this is a cause for concern. Poor hygiene could be due to self-neglect. The National Adult Protective Services Association defines self-neglect as “a person’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks.”

Other warning signs of self-neglect include:

  • Refusal to take medications or poor management of medication regimen
  • Signs of weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
  • No food, inadequate food or rotten food in the house
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Signs of unopened mail and notices
  • Non-functioning utilities or utilities that are shut off

If you notice these warning signs you should think through the best way to intervene self-neglect is a risk factor for early mortality among the elderly. Self-neglectors are twice as likely to die as seniors who do not self-neglect.

3. Isolation

Just like self-neglect, social isolation is a risk factor for early mortality. Older adults with few social ties who live alone, are hearing impaired, or who have mobility issues may become isolated due to their circumstances. Seniors may also intentionally isolate themselves, but the consequences are the same.

Isolation is also associated with cognitive decline, chronic diseases and dementia. It’s been linked to poor health conditions like high blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

According to AARP, signs of isolation include withdrawal, loss of interest in personal hygiene, poor nutrition and poor living conditions and hoarding.

4. Safety Concerns

If your loved one is having trouble navigating the stairs in their home or there have been instances of forgetfulness and wondering that caught your attention, they may no longer be safe on their own. The National Council On Aging reports that every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room. Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and brain injuries in America, making this a major safety concern.

Furthermore, an impaired memory could be an indication of a more serious health problem.

5. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Tasks

Is your loved one having trouble performing daily tasks like cooking food? Do they just have TV dinners or snack foods in the house and no fresh food? Or maybe they look disheveled and seem to be struggling with grooming and dressing themselves?

They might not be managing very well if:

  • They forget to take their medication
  • They’ve lost weight
  • Their pets appear neglected and malnourished
  • They can no longer drive or fail to keep their appointments

If mental or physical limitations are hampering their ability to take care of themselves properly, they might need some help. Nearly 18 million older adults have reported needing help with daily activities, so they wouldn’t be alone in this.

6. Trouble Keeping Up with Bills

This red flag could relate to forgetfulness and memory loss, self-neglect or elder financial exploitation. The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that seniors with cognitive impairments who need assistance with daily activities are more vulnerable to financial abuse. They typically fall victim to predatory lending, investment schemes, internet phishing, identity theft and Medicare scams. If you suspect that your loved one is being scammed, you can report it to the Department of Justice.

Either way, investigating the cause of this issue will help you determine whether or not it’s a cause for concern.

7. Inability to Properly Care For Home

A home that’s in disrepair with an unkempt lawn, or a cluttered home that’s difficult to navigate and bordering on uninhabitable are a cause for concern. Particularly when these issues become safety concerns and your loved one is at risk of being burglarized due to the state of the home. Hazards in the home also make it difficult to enlist the help of a home care service. According to  Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches, the following hazards impede caregivers from performing their duties:

  • Unsanitary conditions such as rodents and insects
  • Air pollutants such as mold and peeling paint
  • Excessive clutter
  • Poor lighting

Visit a Senior Lifestyle Community

At Senior Lifestyle we know how sensitive having a conversation about transitioning to assisted living can be, which is why we take a compassionate approach when working with families. We strive to ease any tension as we guide you through the process, sharing our senior lifestyle options and determining what the best fit for your.

We encourage families to visit our communities and offer opportunities to visit. Come and explore our senior-focused amenities and care programs. Meet our staff and ask them questions about what like is like at a Senior Lifestyle Community. Schedule a tour at a community near you today.

Moving Elderly Parents When They Don’t Want To

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

moving aging parents who don't want to

Moving elderly parents when they don’t want to

Moving isn’t fun, change can be difficult, and home is … well, it’s home. The best time to have the conversation with aging parents is before a crisis happens.

We’ve got some tips that might make the conversation easier.

How to start the conversation about senior living

Sometimes talking to your parents about community living starts with a simple question like, “What are your biggest daily struggles?” Ask them how you can help.

Most of us don’t respond well when someone starts a tough conversation by saying, “You need to …” or “You should ….” As you approach the idea of senior living with your parents, remember that they still see themselves as your parent; you are their child, no matter how old you are.

While you may be able to continue discussing options from there, you may also want to leave the initial conversation at that. Unless there is an immediate need or you are concerned that your parents are not safe, you might want to take a slower approach to moving them from their house into a senior living community.

How to take the conversation to the next step

Ask your parents if they’ve thought about selling their home and using the equity to move into a place that might be more comfortable and lower maintenance.

Would they mind if you look at home estimates on websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com? Put together a list of home-related expenses such as utilities, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs; compare that list with the cost of senior living, which covers all those expenses and more. It’s hard to argue with data; if you can show your parents that selling their home and moving into a full-service senior living community will, ultimately, save them money, that may help ease their anxieties.

You might also gather estimates for renovations to their owned home, such as installing:

  • Non-skid flooring and removing slippery rugs
  • Grab bars in bathrooms
  • Medical alert or security alarms
  • Outside ramps, if stairs become difficult to navigate
  • Handrails along stairs, hallways
  • Motion-activated, bright lighting in hallways, closets and stairwells
  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Stair climbers
  • Walk-in bathtub/non-slip shower
  • Security cameras

Get professional advice for your parents

If your parents are in any danger of falling or if you have serious concerns about their abilities to care for themselves or each other, you might enlist the help of third-party professionals.

An accountant or financial advisor can help them understand the costs and expenses associated with aging in place versus selling their home and using the equity to enjoy the rest of their lives in a senior living community.

Your parents’ healthcare professionals might be able to talk to your parents about their long-term needs and what to expect if they have medical conditions that may come with mobility or memory issues. Your parents may be more open to hearing about their options from professionals.

If you have friends whose parents have sold their homes and moved to senior living communities, invite them to share their stories. Ask if you and your parents can visit them. Sometimes hearing someone else’s story about making such a big change so late in life can be comforting.

Schedule tours of senior living communities

Sometimes, persuading your parents that moving into a senior lifestyle community is as simple as visiting a community in your area. These visits will allow you and your loved one to explore the many options that are available.

Schedule tours at several communities. Arrange to go during active times, such as meals or when there is a social event. Some senior communities will allow potential residents to join meals and mingle with other residents.

Go to each tour with a list of questions and a checklist of features to evaluate.  Talk to the community’s staff about costs and what the living fees include. Your parents may be pleasantly surprised at all the amenities and perks that come with senior living.

Create an aging plan with your parents

If, after all the facts, conversations, and professional advice, your parents still refuse to sell the house and move, then tell them you want to make an aging plan so that when and if something does happen, and they need care, you’ve got a plan in place.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) suggests a five-point strategy for an aging plan:

  1. Get a medical alert system. Look for a system that has a fall alert sensor. You might also explore options with smart speakers from Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod and Google Home. These devices have apps that can help seniors with things like medication reminders, daily routines, turning off and on lights and calling friends and family.  
  2. List all medications. Write down all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, including dosages, prescribing doctor and frequency and put the list in a place where your parents and you can easily access it.
  3. Note allergies. Along with the list of medications, including any food, medication or other allergies, such as to latex or adhesives.
  4. Write and display a community DNR. What’s a community DNR? If your parents have a do-not-resuscitate order, does it also apply to medical emergencies that happen in the community, outside a hospital or healthcare setting? If not, make sure it does.

Schedule — and make — a daily check-in call. Ask your parents to agree to make or receive a daily check-in call. Listen for abnormalities in their speech. Have a pla

Seeking guardianship over your parents

Guardianship gives you the legal right to make decisions for your parents. While we at Senior Lifestyle are not legal advisers, we do recommend you work with your family attorney to help you understand the process for taking legal guardianship over a parent or loved one.

According to Findlaw, the guardianship process can take a long time and be expensive. Your family attorney can help you understand your state’s requirements for guardianship, but they will likely involve some form of these steps:

  1. Filing a petition to the court explaining why you seek guardianship
  2. Informing the elderly person and other family members
  3. Investigation by the court
  4. A hearing where a judge makes a decision

Talk to a senior living professional

Use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your parents’ area. Browse the photos, read the descriptions, and bookmark your favorites. Look at the floorplans, read the testimonials from other residents, and explore the communities’ programs. Schedule an appointment to meet with the staff and talk through your parents’ concerns.  



How to Find A Place For Mom

Posted by in Expert Advice.

How to find a place for mom

How to find a place for mom

When it’s time to start looking for a place for mom – or any older adult in your care – the first place many of us turn to is the internet. With more than 190 communities in 28 states, we consider ourselves to be experts when it comes to caring for our aging parents.

This checklist will help you understand what to look for as you evaluate options, and we’ll cover the various senior living options that are available to us as we age.

What to look for when you search for a place for mom

Senior services

  • Does the community offer a continuum of care? In other words, as your parents’ needs change, will the community’s services adapt along with them?
  • What kinds of community partnerships does the home have?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What financial solutions are available, and does the community offer consultation on financial resources?
  • Is there a calendar of events that is updated regularly?
  • What will your parents’ first day/week/month look like at community? What will a typical day entail?

Staff communication, community relations, culture

  • Is the community welcoming? How did they make you feel when they answered your first phone call?
  • How do they protect their residents’ privacy and dignity?
  • Does the staff seem to like and respect each other?
  • What kinds of enrichment programs do they offer?
  • How long has the management company been in business?

Maintenance, housekeeping, aesthetics

  • How well is the property maintained? Is it well-maintained outside, in common areas and in residents’ apartments?
  • Would you feel happy living and visiting here? Is it home-like?
  • What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Is it quiet? Safe?
  • Is the community safe and secure? What security system does the location use?
  • Are housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services included, or are they extra?

Medical care and support

  • How close is the nearest hospital?
  • How easy are the emergency call devices to reach?
  • What efforts does the staff make to engage with residents?
  • Are there specialists who work with residents to make sure they have access to the right resources and programs?
  • What healthcare providers are included? Do they offer physical therapy, mental health and other types of services?
  • What services are included in the monthly fee?

Dining and meal services

  • Visit during mealtime. How does it smell? How does the food look? Can you try a few meals? What’s a typical menu look like?
  • Are residents encouraged to socialize during mealtimes? Does staff facilitate introductions and conversations?
  • What type of dietary and nutrition support is on staff? Does the dining room accommodate special dietary needs and preferences?

Your options for your aging parents

The right choice for your parents depends on how much care is required. Even if they are fully independent and can prepare meals, run errands, do household chores, and care for themselves today, their needs can change tomorrow.

As we age, mobility issues can arise and simple tasks become more difficult, like going up and down stairs, carrying in groceries or mowing the lawn.

This section explores living options for aging adults, from staying in place and aging at home to fully staffed skilled nursing homes.

Aging in place

Aging in the home – also known as aging in place – means exactly what it sounds like: Choosing to live in your own home for as long as possible. There’s something comforting and convenient about living as long as possible in a place where you raised your family and celebrated life’s milestones.

Seniors may choose an alternative other than aging in place for a number of reasons:

  • They have mobility issues that make going up and down stairs of a multi-level home difficult.
  • They need to be closer to their doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals.
  • Maintenance and repairs on their home have become too much work, and they’re no longer physically able to do it themselves.
  • They’re lonely. Friends and family are busy – and traveling to see them isn’t easy – and they want to live in an active community surrounded by people like them.
  • They have medical issues that need round-the-clock attention and support.

Aging in place is the best option for people who can take care of themselves and have a strong round-the-clock support community, such as friends, family, neighbors or home health staff.

Age-restricted communities

Age-restricted communities are typically for adults age 55 and older. Sometimes they’re referred to as retirement communities, because they cater to lifestyles of retired adults.

Age-restricted communities may be gated, and many of them have community recreation centers that offer group social activities, clubs, entertainment and events. Some age-restricted communities are called niche retirement communities because they cater to specific interests, such as golf.

Like aging in place, the age-restricted community is ideal for adults who are able to care for themselves and have a strong support system comprised of family, friends and neighbors.

Senior housing

The definition of “senior housing” tends to depend on who you’re talking to. Some people use the term to refer to any kind of housing that caters to older adults, including everything from age-restricted communities to skilled nursing homes. Others refer to senior housing as HUD-approved apartment units that have been approved for senior citizens.

Independent living

You may find some sources that use “independent living” interchangeably with “retirement community.” We refer to independent living as apartment-style living that’s staffed around the clock. Independent living at Senior Lifestyle means:

  • 24-hour on-site staff
  • Routine housekeeping, maintenance and repairs
  • Emergency call systems
  • On-site restaurant-style dining prepared by our team of dining experts
  • Life Enrichment Programs
  • Common areas for socializing and hosting special events

Senior independent living is ideal for aging adults who want all the perks of living independently and all the benefits of living in a retirement community.

Assisted living

Assisted senior living is similar to independent living, but it offers assistance with daily living, which may include help with:

  • Bathing, dressing and self-care
  • Medication administration and assistance
  • Healthcare, such as physical therapy
  • Daily meals
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Assisted living allows your parents to live independently in their own apartment while having assistance when they need it. As you evaluate options for them, look for senior living communities that tailor programs to residents’ needs, especially as they age and their needs change.

Skilled nursing at senior nursing homes

Skilled nursing communities are also referred to as nursing homes, because they employ round-the-clock licensed nurses and other rehabilitative healthcare. Typically these types of homes offer short-term and long-term care options.

Short-term stays typically happen after an injury, illness or operation, or because someone has a complicated medical condition that requires 24-hour care. The nursing staff coordinates care with your healthcare providers and will transport them to medical appointments.

Which option is best for your aging parents?

As you explore your options, you’ll notice that many of Senior Lifestyle’s communities offer several levels of care that include independent living, assisted living, memory care and nursing care.

“Helping your parents age gracefully, happily and safely is no small task,” says Janine Witte, National Director of Sales. “It takes time and patience, both of which can be hard to come by, especially when you’re worried about their health and welfare.”

She suggests that you start by talking to friends, other family members and coworkers who may have gone through a similar situation with their parents.

“We’ve seen people post questions on social media asking their friends and family for advice on finding places for their aging parents.” Janine says. “That’s not a bad place to start.”

She suggests searching for “assisted living near me” or looking at the Senior Lifestyle website, which manages senior communities in 28 states. You can search by city, state, ZIP code and name.
Make a list of the most important features you and your parents want in a home, and then group them by “must have” and “optional.”

As you narrow your list of senior living options, schedule tours for you and your parents. Ask if it’s OK to take photos, so you can remember features you liked, as well as features that brought up concerns.

“Ultimately, you want to find the place for mom and dad that’s going to care for them as if they’re family,” Janine says.

What to look for in a Retirement Community

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retirement community tips

What to look for in retirement communities

When you look for a retirement community, you’re looking for more than a new home. You’re looking for a support system, socialization and amenities that fit within your lifestyle, needs and budget.

Your search begins by understanding the types of retirement communities, levels of care offered at each, and whether the community is a continuing care retirement community, which we’ll explain next.

What is a continuing care retirement community?

As you do your research, you may see community websites refer to continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). These communities offer a range of living options for seniors as their needs change, from independent senior living to memory care and full-time, round-the-clock skilled nursing care.

We think a continuum of care is the most important factor when evaluating options for you or your family members, because moving can be stressful at any age. For older adults, having a full breadth of options in one location eases transitions as physical and mental abilities change.

Types of retirement communities

You’ll find many options as you explore the best solution for you or your family member. Someone who’s still active but wants to relieve themselves of the burden of taking care of a house may be more inclined to seek out independent living.  

Independent living: Independent living communities offer all of the comforts of home, plus a dedicated staff, restaurant-style dining, Life Enrichment Programs, housekeeping services, transportation, on-site beauty and barber shop, and more.

Assisted living: Senior Lifestyle’s assisted living communities have everything that independent living communities have, plus Supportive Living, personal care, and  assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.

Memory care: For Senior Lifestyle communities that specialize in memory care, explore our award winning embrace program.

Cost and value of retirement communities

The second-most important factor in evaluating a retirement community is not only cost, but what you get for the cost. Ask the community team members for a summary of what services are included each month. Do they include:

  • Utilities, telephone and cable
  • Housekeeping
  • 24-hour security and emergency call services
  • Laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • Meals and snacks
  • Social and cultural events, activities and programs
  • Health and wellness centers and programs

Do a side-by-side comparison of your cost of living in your current home versus the cost to live in a retirement community, and if you own your home, don’t forget to adjust for the costs of homeowners’ insurance, mortgage (if you have one) interest and property taxes. You pay none of that when you live in a Senior Lifestyle retirement community.

Financial services for retirement living

Look for a retirement community that puts your best interests first. They should have an advisor on staff or in partnership, who can help you understand financial resources to help with senior living.

For example, our advisors at Senior Lifestyle have helped families understand how life insurance policies may be leveraged to help pay for the cost of care. Other options to ask about are bridge loans, VA benefits, and reverse mortgages.

You should also ask your financial advisor or accountant about tax deductibility of certain fees or portions of fees associated with CCRCs. Some of these fees are considered medical expenses and may be deductible.

Reputation and history of the retirement community

As you evaluate options for you or your family member, ask how long the community has been in existence, how long the management company has been with the community, and how long have employees been on staff?

Read online reviews and, if you read something negative about a community you are interested in, take the review with you and ask the staff to talk about it. Sometimes the way a business responds to negative reviews says more about them than the negative reviews themselves.

Access to health care

How close is the nearest hospital? Is transportation to doctor and medical appointments provided, or is there an extra charge? What healthcare services are offered onsite? For example, does the community employ physical therapists?

Food, dining and socialization

How are meals planned? Does the community employ a chef? What is her or his experience, and how do they address dietary needs? Is the food good? Try to arrange a tour during lunch or dinner, and ask if you can join and sample the food.

More importantly, are mealtimes fun? Does the community encourage socialization, and how are new residents introduced to existing ones?

What does a typical day look like at the retirement community? Are there a variety activities for residents, based on their physical abilities as well as their interests?

Family visits

Are there any restrictions with family visits? Most retirement communities are very welcoming to visits from family members, but some may have preferred times for visiting hours. If this is important to you, ask about these time slots.

Senior living culture

This may be the most difficult feature to describe or measure. It’s that “it” factor that you felt when you bought your first home and knew, “this is the one.” How do you know if the retirement community’s culture is right for you? Sometimes it’s just a feeling, but we have some advice to help you if you’re on the fence.

Visit more than one community, and try to visit each more than once, at different times of the day. Observe the residents and staff. Do they seem happy? How does the staff respond to your many questions? Do they take the time to explain their answers, and do they seem to care if you understand?

Rules and guidelines

Before you sign any agreement at any residential living community, thoroughly review the rules and regulations to make sure you have no surprises. Examples might including understanding the community’s rules for visitors, parking, pets, leisure activities, and transportation.

Older Drivers and Safety

Posted by in Expert Advice.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is happening now! From December 3rd through December 7th, the American Occupational Therapy Association is calling attention to different aspects of older driver safety. At Senior Lifestyle we know that the ability to get to appointments, shop for necessities and simply visit friends is vital to the well-being seniors, so we join AOTA in their efforts to raise awareness of this important facet of senior independence.

For many people, obtaining a driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and an outward sign of independence. Unsurprisingly, many older adults feel the same way about retaining their driver’s license. For seniors who live in areas with little or no access to public transportation, the ability to drive provides more than just a symbol of independence; it often serves as a lifeline. This circumstance can make it difficult for families to discuss giving up driving with a senior loved one, as it often necessitates outside help or even a move for the senior. The aim of AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is to promote understanding of the barriers older adults face when driving is no longer an option, and to increase awareness of the steps older adults can take to remain active, healthy and safe in their communities, whether they drive or not.

A recent Consumer Reports study notes that 40 million Americans aged 65 and older carry a valid driver’s license; 3.5 million of that group are still behind the wheel at age 85 and older. While many drivers are able to manage to the physical requirements of driving well into their senior years, there are some warning signs from Helpguide.org that a senior driver may need to consider giving up the keys:

  • Frequent close calls or increased citations

-A noticeable increase in dents and scrapes on the vehicle

-Traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement

  • Eyesight or hearing problems

-A need to drive closer to signs or traffic signals to see them clearly

-Inability to hear horns honking or emergency sirens

  • Trouble managing the mechanics of driving and limited range of motion, slower reflexes

-Sudden lane changes and erratic braking and accelerating

-Inability to react quickly when necessary to traffic changes

-Lack of range of motion that prevents turning head to look back

If giving up the keys becomes necessary, it’s important to understand the frustration and even humiliation that your senior driver may experience; treating them with respect and dignity while having this difficult conversation is imperative. If a loved one is reluctant to admit that driving is becoming a problem for them, you may need to enlist the help of an impartial person such as their physician. It’s also important to provide alternatives such as public transportation or rides from friends and family members. For some seniors, the loss of this symbol of independence can cause depression; preventing isolation is an important part of the transition as well. At Senior Lifestyle, residents are often surprised and delighted to learn that social opportunities don’t require time behind the wheel; events and activities are always available in the community.

If you notice signs of impaired driving in your loved one, it is vital to have a conversation with them about your concerns; they may be feeling concerned as well, but worried about the logistics of giving up driving, and your efforts to broach the subject may in fact be a relief to the senior driver. Senior Lifestyle communities offer transportation options for residents who choose not to drive or are unable to do so safely. Many of our residents who still drive themselves also choose to take advantage of the transportation option and let someone else do the driving for them on occasion.

For information about transportation options at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, or more information about tackling difficult conversations with your loved one, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

What is Hospice?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Senior Lifestyle recognizes hospice care as a vital component of person-centered senior care, and while we realize the subject of hospice is often fraught with both emotion and confusion, we feel that this often-misunderstood facet of senior care is a valuable option that many families don’t explore because of the misconceptions surrounding it. This year’s theme for Hospice Month, “A
Program That Works. A Benefit That Matters”, sheds light on the purpose and aim of hospice: a focus on caring instead of curing, allowing patients with life-limiting illnesses to navigate their end-of-life journey with dignity and compassionate care. 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shares some history about hospice care, noting that the first modern hospice, St. Christopher’s Hospice, was created in suburban London by physician Dame Cicely Saunders. Saunders began working with terminally ill patients in 1948 and coined the term “hospice” to describe specialized care provided for dying patients. In 1963, while serving as a guest lecturer at Yale University, Dame Saunders introduced the concept of hospice care to medical students, nurses, social workers and chaplains. Pointing to photographic evidence of terminal patients with their families, she showed the dramatic improvement brought about by providing symptom control care. Hospice care as we know it today is a direct result of this lecture. 

Six important points to know about hospice from NHPCO: 

  1. Hospice care is usually provided in the home – wherever the patient calls home. This includes assisted living communities and other long-term-care settings. 
  1. Hospice cares for people with any kind of life-limiting illness. Patients of every age and religion can access hospice care. 
  1. Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans and HMOs. 
  1. Hospice is not limited to six months of care. Patients and families are encouraged to contact a hospice provider when they receive a terminal diagnosis instead of waiting until the “last days” to benefit from all that hospice care has to offer. Pain management and symptom control offer significant physical benefits for patients as well as increased quality of life. 
  1. Hospice is not “giving up”; rather the focus is on caring, not curing. Hospice organizations are also trained to help family members cope with the emotional aspects of caring for a terminally ill loved one, as well as the grieving process when that loved one passes. 
  1. Anyone can contact hospice – so call your local program to learn if hospice is right for you or your loved one. Each hospice provider in an area may do things slightly differently, so choose an organization based on your needs. Many hospitals and skilled care facilities can offer suggestions or information on hospice care. 

Senior Lifestyle communities welcome hospice organizations as care partners and recognize the incredibly vital service they provide not only for our residents but their families as well. Our communities partner with hospice organizations to provide care for our residents who choose to walk their end-of-life journey with us; we are honored to do so. To learn more about services and lifestyle options at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Diabetes Awareness Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to shed some light on the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and encourage everyone to take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, a free, anonymous test to assess personal risk factors for the disease. Every year, more than one million people are diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease is the 7th leading cause of death in America. Almost 85 million Americans aged 18 and older have prediabetes, and over 25% of seniors have the disease. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age 

At Senior Lifestyle our goal is to help those we serve live healthy, full lives; with that in mind we’re sharing some basic tips from the American Diabetes Association’s Living Healthy With Diabetes guide to help control the disease and avoid complications. You can also download the entire Living Healthy With Diabetes guide for your use at home. 

Weight Control 

For diabetics, maintaining a healthy weight can help manage the disease. For those who are overweight, losing even 10 to 15 pounds can make a difference. The American Diabetes Association recommends the Plate Method as an aid to creating a healthy diet.  

The Plate Method: 

  1. Imagine drawing a line down the middle of your dinner plate. Then on one side, cut it again so you will have 3 sections on your plate. 
  1. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes. 
  1. Now in one of the smaller sections, put starchy foods such as noodles, rice, corn, or potatoes. 
  1. The other small section is for meat, fish, chicken, eggs, or tofu. 
  1. Add an 8 oz glass of milk and one small piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit salad and you’ve got a great meal. (If you don’t drink milk, you can add an extra piece of fruit, light yogurt, or a small roll.) 

Physical Activity 

Being active is another great way to help control the symptoms of diabetes and avoid complications. Be sure to speak to your doctor about what types of activity he recommends. Everyday activities like gardening, walking, raking leaves and carrying groceries can count toward your physical activity. Any physical activity can help lower your blood glucose; however, there are other benefits to maintaining a healthy habit of being physically active. 

Other benefits of physical activity include:  

  • Improving your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Having more energy
  • Relieving stress
  • Burning calories to help you lose or maintain your weight
  • Keeping your joints flexible
  • Increasing your strength
  • Improving your balance to prevent falls
  • Lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke

Medication Management 

If you have other conditions in addition to diabetes, you may be taking several different medications to manage those conditions as well as your diabetes. It is important to take each medication as prescribed and discuss any changes with your doctor. In order to stay on top of your medication schedule, the Living Healthy With Diabetes guide suggests the following: 

  • Keep an updated list of your medicines (prescription, nonprescription, dietary supplements including vitamins, and herbal remedies). Record important information about each medicine.  
  • Take all of your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you.  
  • Use one pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions if possible.  
  • Keep medicines in a cool, dry place.  
  • Use a pill organizer.  
  • Use a reminder timer, an alarm clock, or your mobile phone alarm to remind you when to take medicine.  
  • Link pill-taking to something in your daily routine (for example, take your medicine right after you brush your teeth).  
  • Use a chart or dry erase board to keep track of your pill-taking. 

At Senior Lifestyle, we encourage you to observe Diabetes Awareness Month, take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, and if you do find yourself at an elevated risk for the disease, speak with your physician about what you can do to lessen your risk of diabetes. Many of the tips we’ve noted above are helpful in avoiding diabetes as well as living with it. To learn more about what we do to stay healthy and active at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Time For A Change?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

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 and outside support is vital for family caregivers at times when they are unable to be with their loved one. 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 adult children, 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. 

When visiting a loved one, there are some behaviors to watch for that may indicate a change is necessary for the senior:  


  • 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 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 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 or help with activities of daily living than can be managed at home? Visit our website to learn more about respite care, 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 caregivers focus more on quality time with loved ones and less on practical matters relating to safety and care. Shifting this focus helps families make the most of each visit, and that’s what counts.

How Are We Doing?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Technology.

There’s a common saying that notes, “If customers are happy with your service, they’ll tell you; if they aren’t happy, they’ll tell everyone else,” and with the prevalence of online review sites today, that idea can seem uncomfortably accurate for some businesses. However, online reviews give customers the opportunity to point out not only what’s wrong, but what’s right as well. They also give the reviewee an opportunity to make things right by reaching out to the customer when a negative experience is reported. At Senior Lifestyle we look at reviews as a vital tool in our plan for continuous improvement and encourage everyone we interact with to share their experience.

Are we doing well? What can we do better? Every business asks these questions, but without feedback from customers, it’s often hard to judge the answers. Any business with a long-range plan wants to hear the bad reviews as well as the stellar ones; continuous improvement depends on knowing what needs to be improved upon. Reviews provide companies with valuable information that may not be evident at the point of sale. Consumers can leave online reviews for nearly any business, product or service, from a hospital stay to a pet grooming experience. Review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor even provide a forum for job-seekers to learn more about companies for whom they hope to work.

Why do people leave online reviews? Everyone likes to be heard; we share our opinions every day in conversations with friends, family and co-workers, so it makes sense to share those opinions with the companies from which we purchase products and services. Oftentimes, online reviewers can remain anonymous, an aspect which may pave the way for more honest evaluations. Honest feedback, whether positive or negative, not only helps the organization being reviewed, but helps fellow consumers make decisions as well.

Senior Lifestyle believes that informed consumers and potential team members make better choices, and we truly want feedback from our senior community residents, families and team members. We gain valuable insight from visitors in our communities as well, whether they volunteer, provide a service for our residents or come to the community for a tour. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for everyone we interact with, so don’t hesitate to let us know how we’re doing! For more information on how Senior Lifestyle works to provide an exceptional experience or to learn more about any of our communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.