Category - Assisted Living

Seniors and Nutrition

The food we eat can greatly affect our health. It can lower or raise the risks of many diseases such as blood pressure, kidney disease, dementia, some cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes and more. Many people who have eaten healthy their entire life can easily continue to eat healthy. The nutrition of the food is as good for a senior citizen as it is for a senior in high school.

We have gathered some helpful information when dealing with nutrition and the elderly.

  • As you age your sense of taste decreases. It is common to add extra seasoning to the food, however stay away from salt. You can use garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, and many other healthier spices.
  • Staying at an ideal weight is the key to healthy living. Seniors require fewer calories for energy needs so choosing nutrient rich food is important. Many seniors find themselves eating more junk food; even a senior that is overweight can still suffer from malnutrition.
  • It has been proven that eating fish at least once a week will help decrease the plaques and tangles that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. This information outweighs the concern of mercury intake.
  • Don’t research online for your health needs; nobody is better to ask than your doctor. He may give you a strict diet to follow or offer you supplements. There is a lot of information out there that is geared more towards selling you something than really helping your health. Let your medical professional guide you.
  • For those that are in the early stages of dementia they may overeat because they forgot that they had eaten already. You can help by giving them a mealtime schedule and providing healthy snacks throughout the day.

To get more information about Senior Nutrition you can visit www.eatright.org or www.health.gov and visit your doctor or registered dietitian to get help or have your questions answered.

How To Pay For Nursing Home Care

One of the most difficult transitions people face is the change from independent living in their own home or apartment to living in a long term care facility or nursing home. There are many reasons why this transition is so difficult. One is the loss of a home…a home where the person lived for many years with a lifetime of memories. Another is the loss of independence. Still another is the loss of the level of privacy we enjoy at home, since nursing home living is often shared with a roommate.

Most people who make the decision to move to a nursing home do so during a time of great stress. Some have been hospitalized after a stroke, some have fallen and broken a hip, still others have progressive dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, and can no longer be cared for in their own homes.

Whatever the reason, the spouse or relative who helps a person transition into a nursing home during a time of stress faces the immediate dilemma of how to find the right nursing home. The task is no small one, and a huge sigh of relief can be heard when the right home is found and the loved one is moved into the nursing home. For many, the most difficult task is just beginning; how to cope with nursing home bills that may total $2,500 to $6,000 per month or more?

One of the things that concerns people most about nursing home care is how to pay for that care. There are basically four ways that you can pay the cost of a nursing home:

  1. Long Term Care Insurance – If you are fortunate enough to have this type of coverage, it may go a long way toward paying the cost of the nursing home. Unfortunately, long term care insurance has only started to become popular in the last few years and most people facing a nursing home stay do not have this coverage.
  2. Pay with Your Own Funds – This is the method many people are required to use at first. Quite simply, it means paying for the cost of a nursing home out of your own pocket. Unfortunately, with nursing home bills averaging between $4,000 and $6,000 per month in our own area, few people can afford a long term stay in a nursing home.
  3. Medicare – This is the national health insurance program primarily for people 65 years of age and older, certain younger disabled people, or people with kidney failure. Medicare provides short term assistance with nursing home costs, but only if you meet the strict qualification rules.
  4. ALTCS (Arizona Long Term Care System) – This is a federal & state funded and state administered medical benefit program which can pay for the cost of the nursing home if certain asset and income tests are met.

If you are looking for assistance in qualifying for ALTCS please reach out to one of our specialists at Legal Awareness for Seniors.

 

What is Spend Down for ALTCS

When qualifying for ALTCS (Arizona Long Term Care System) otherwise known as Medicaid many applicants will come to learn the term “spend down”. If you have too many assets when you apply ALTCS will deny you. In order to qualify you will need to spend down your assets.

The assets you have cannot be given away, but they can be spent on certain exempt resources. ALTCS looks back five years to check for gifting. They want to assure that you are spending your money on your own needs and not the needs of family or friends.

Some of these qualifying exemptions are:

  • Funeral trust
  • House
  • Car
  • Personal items (clothing, medications, appliances, etc.)
  • Care needs
  • Legal fees, such as estate planning
  • Miller Trust (or Income Only Trusts)

There are means to avoiding spend down. You will want to be sure to get quality legal advice or speak to one of our knowledgeable estate planners to help assure ALTCS will accept you.

How To Start A Conversation With Your Elderly Parents

We love our parents and spend a lot of time with them, but do we really know them? Sometimes visiting your elderly parent can be difficult because you don’t know what to say. However, your parents are very knowledgeable and have lived a full life. Getting them to talk about what they know can be very entertaining and help your visit be more productive.

We have put together some questions to help you get started with learning more about your parents. You may even gain some new insight about your parents and maybe even learn a little something about yourself.

  1. Looking back on your life, what do you remember being one of your happiest moments?
  2. What is your earliest memory?
  3. Did you receive allowance when you were younger? Did you save it or spend it?
  4. What were your group of friends in high school like?
  5. Do you remember any fads from when you were younger? Clothing? Hairstyles?
  6. Do you have a lost love or “the one that got away”?
  7. Did you participate in any sports or clubs in high school or college?
  8. Did you enjoy school? What were your best and worst subjects you studied?
  9. What did you like to do for entertainment and fun?
  10. What are you most proud of?
  11. What world events had the most impact on your life and why?
  12. Who is the person you knew that influenced your life the most?
  13. Is there anything you have never told me, but wished that you would have?
  14. Is there anything you wish you would have asked your parents?
  15. What new technology do you find to be the most useful? What technology do find to be the most annoying?
  16. In what ways do you think I’m like you? What ways do you think I’m not like you?
  17. Do you wish anything would have been different between us?
  18. How did you meet/get engaged to my mom/dad?
  19. How would you like to be remembered?
  20. What are the most important lessons you learned in life?

Caring for Aging Parents with Your Siblings

Caring for an aging parent can be a struggle alone, but add in your siblings and things can get stressful. It is important to work together as a team to support your parent. You may each have a different idea of how your parent should be taken care of which can cause stress and tension. At the same time your parent is aware that they are relying more and more on their children and are probably not happy about it.

Caring for a parent is a shared responsibility. It is important, however, to assign a primary care provider. Consider who is the most dependable, has the most time to devote to their parents care, and who is emotionally prepared to fill this role. Once that is established you can decide what the other siblings roles will be and what they can provide.

It may be best to schedule a family meeting. Make sure everyone has time to discuss their feelings and how they see the care being handled. If you feel there will be contention it may be best to host the family meeting with a facilitator such as a social worker, family friend or other trusted person outside the family. To have a productive meeting try these guidelines:

  • Set an agenda for the meeting.
  • Focus on the now – try not to bring up issues from the past.
  • Share how you feel instead of accusing others (keep your sentences using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’).
  • Listen and respect what others are saying. Give everyone time to speak.
  • Find a way to come to a compromise. Everyone may not get their way, but at least you can all come to an understanding. Everyone may have to give a little.

If you find that anyone in particular doubts that their parent needs care have them spend a week or even a day with the parent to see a first hand view of the issues.

It is also important to have your parent draw up an Advanced Health Care Directive. They have an idea of who they want to make their major decisions and they should have a choice in the matter.

Dealing with Aging Parents

As our parents age we may find it difficult to deal with them. We can often find ourselves frustrated or angry with their stubbornness or forgetfulness. Often we forget that old age is a time of decline rather than personal growth and development. Our middle age lifestyle is completely different then theirs. With managing our children, work life and social life we are moving at a fast pace in order to be efficient to juggle everything we need to do. This is completely different than our aging parents who are winding down and have a lot of time on their hands.

Not only are we running at a different speed than our parents, we are also going through different emotions. As our parents age they are losing friends, freedoms, independence, memory and more causing them to cling on to what they have. Trying to understand where your parents are coming from may help you to be a bit more understanding.

Here are a few tips to assist you when dealing with your aging parents:

1. Understand that senior citizens often lose their short-term memory before their long-term memory. Something you told them last week may easily have been forgotten. If it is something important that they need to remember you can write notes around the house. Add a smiley face to them in order to keep the tone light.

2. Many seniors are dealing with aches and pains. If it takes them a little longer to do things, such as tie their shoe, be patient or offer to assist them.

3. You may not be able to visit them every day, but instead of dropping by 5 minutes here or there, set aside a substantial amount of time every week to spend with them. Maybe schedule Friday lunches or Sunday strolls.

4. Often in conversations with aging parents the topics can seem erratic. One minute you may be talking about your craft project with the kids and the next they are talking about how their light bulb is out in their bedroom. Be sure to listen to what they are saying. If your story is really important to you find a way to guide the conversation back, if not, listen to the story behind their story. What is it that they really need?

5. Be patient with them when teaching them new technology. You may have already gone over how to use their remote control and on each visit they ask you to go over it with them again. It is hard for the elderly to learn new things and remember what they learned. Just patiently go over it with them again.

6. Plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Be sure to take time to plan for your parents passing. Setting up a living trust, power of attorney, and other ancillary documents are very important with an aging parent. Let Legal Awareness for Seniors assist you with this process.

The Difference Between Hospice, Palliative and Respite Care

Learning the different types of care that are available can be important on making the right decision for your loved one.

Hospice Care
This is designed to make the last days, weeks or months of the terminally ill and their families more comfortable. Hospice will comfort the patient emotionally and physically as best they can as well as help the family with the transition and decisions they will need to make. In the United States there are about 40% of patients in Hospice Care that receive the care at home. Patients that are transferred to Hospice Care are referred by their doctor and usually have six months or less to live.

Palliative Care
This type of care is for anyone that is having a major health crisis and needs help managing it. They are not necessarily at the end of their life. This type of care helps patients manage pain, stress, depression, and physical ailments. The care providers will focus on relieving and prevent the patient from suffering.

Respite Care
This is a short-term stay at a community or assisted living facility. This is most commonly used for seniors who are living with their children. This gives them a break from each other or gives the family security knowing their loved one is being cared for while they are traveling.  Respite Care is also used to ease your loved one into assisted living, giving them a trial run of what life may be like in a senior living community.

Myths About Assisted Living

In the past 20 years Assisted Living has become more and more popular. Since it is essentially a newer concept there are some false ideas many have around Assisted Living Facilities.

Myth #1 Assisted Living = Loss of Independence
Assisted Living Facilities actually promote independence. They strive to make things easier on their residents so they are able to live their lives more freely than they would if they were living on their own. They encourage stimulation and social interaction to help maintain independence as long as they can. In fact, many facilities even allow you to keep and use your car as long as you are able.

Myth #2 Seniors will be isolated in a facility
The opposite of this is true. Retirement communities are where seniors end up developing close friendships and social connections. When they live in a facility they end up being busier than ever with fun events and activities planned out for them.

Myth #3 An Assisted Living Community is another way to say Nursing Home
They are actually completely different. Nursing Homes focus on the medical needs of their residents and the therapies they need in order to stay alive. Whereas Assisted Living Facilities provide the support their residents need with housekeeping, meal preparation, activities, and social interaction in order to assist them with their independence as long as possible.

Myth #4 Assisted Living is only for the wealthy
These facilities are for everyone. If you take in the cost of living at home, even if your mortgage is paid off, you will find it is very similar. With the cost of home maintenance, property taxes, groceries, utilities, transportation and other living expenses it can add up. You won’t have any of those costs with Assisted Living; it is included in the monthly cost. This is especially true if you need the assistance of a private duty caregiver.

Myth #5 You can’t take your pet with you
There are many Assisted Living Facilities that welcome your well-behaved four legged furry friends. Studies have shown that those who have a pet live a longer and healthier life. Don’t let the fear of having to leave your pet behind be a factor in your decision. Those facilities that allow your pet to live with you are out there.

Myth #6 The meals are not appetizing
Actually the meals that are prepared are carefully planned and prepared with the nutritional needs of the senior population in mind. The meals are homemade and well thought out so that they are enjoyable, maintaining the quality of life their residents are use to. It is even advised that you sample the cooking before making the decision to move into the facility.

Myth #7 Assisted Living Facilities are filled with residents that are sick or dying
Assisted Living Facilities are full of seniors who no longer wish to live alone and require additional support in order to maintain the life they are accustomed to. Without assisted living the resident’s health would have declined more rapidly and would instead be admitted directly into a nursing home or hospice. Assisted Living Facilities strive to keep their residents healthy and alive as long as possible. In fact, most homes require that the new resident be partly independent when entering the facility.

Decorating Tips for Assisted Living

When moving into Assisted Living you will want to create a space that you feel comfortable in. It will be much smaller than the home you are use to living in. We have put together some tips to help you when decorating your new space.

1. What is important to you
When moving into a smaller space there are many things you will need to let go of. Go through and find sentimental items you will want to see every day such as pictures, books, and décor – but keep it simple as to avoid cluttering the new smaller space. Consider gifting items you won’t be taking with you to family or friends, anything else can be donated.

2. Consider size for furnishing
It is important to keep in mind the size of your new environment. You may not be able to bring your entire sofa set, but your love seat might fit perfectly. Avoid keeping any deep, cushy couches; more firm cushions will be easier to get up from as you age.

3. Choose optimal colors
As we get older our eyesight changes so it is important to use colors that are great in contrast. Keep in mind that certain colors inspire different feelings; blue is calming, yellow is uplifting, etc. You can liven up a room just by adding colorful throw pillows. Primary colors (red, yellow and blue) are ideal for dishes which give a great contrast to the food.

4. Find unique storage ideas
A convenient way to store items is to have an ottoman that can also be used for storage. You can have a tray to place on top of the ottoman to double as a coffee table. Corner bookshelves or armoires are space savers as well. Use end tables and night stands that have drawers for extra storage.

5. Stage the area for falls
As we age it is easier to slip and fall. Keep walkways clear of area rugs and cords. Any furniture used should have a curve to the sides instead of having a sharp corner or glass. Set up furniture as another use for support to walk. Have plug in lights along the walkways for ease of use at night.

6. Incorporate activities
Make books, playing cards, puzzles and other activities you enjoy easily accessible. Have a house plant to talk to and water to keep stimulation. Keep your personality in your décor and you will thrive.

Moving Your Parents To Senior Care

Planning the move: Even if the choice is theirs to move, it can be a very emotional time to leave behind a home that your loved one has lived in and cherished. You should encourage a meaningful farewell. Invite friends and family over. Have a nice dinner together. Go through each room and talk about memories and special events. Let them say goodbye in their own way.

How to pack: Since your loved one is most likely moving into a smaller space there are items that must be given away. It is important to not insist they throw things out. This is a very emotional time. It may be better to let them keep any items that are hard for them to get rid of and give them time to discard them later after thoughtful contemplation. You will want to pack items that will help to create an environment they are use to.

Setting up the new environment: It is important to imitate a familiar scene in their new environment. A good example is to arrange the bedroom so when they wake up they see the same set up as they did at their home. You can recreate the living space with their familiar photos, décor and books – but avoid clutter. Keep in mind that it most likely will be a smaller set up than they had before.

Settling in: While getting them familiar with the new facility and the new residents you will also want to get familiar with the staff. Find out if there is a designated point person to discuss wishes and issues with. In turn, give them a designated point person for them to contact in case of emergencies or questions. You will also want to be familiar with any routines such as housekeeping, meals, outings, etc. This will help you to plan any visits and help your loved one adjust.