Care Seeker Resources

A collection of resources to help you navigate the care continuum.

By: Stephanie Jackson  |  Type: Article  |  On: December 01, 2016

Financial assistance for making your home wheelchair-accessible

If you need financial assistance for home modifications to make your house wheelchair-accessible, there are several resources that may be able to help you get started.

Many seniors want to live their lives as independently as possible, and home modifications are an excellent way to help them do just that. If you need financial assistance for home modifications to make your house wheelchair-accessible, there are several resources that may be able to help you get started.

Common home modifications
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are a few common alterations that many people seek out once they rely on a wheelchair for day-to-day activities. Some of these may include:

  • Push-button access to doors that replace traditional door handles.
  • A walk-in shower.
  • Handrail installation on staircases, both outdoors and indoors.
  • Altering kitchen counters so that they are lower and easier to reach.
  • Wheelchair ramps that help you get inside and outside more easily.

Whether you are seeking resources for one or all of these alterations, it's important to speak first with your physical or occupational therapist to see what might work best for you and your home.

 

There are several resources that can help you make your home wheelchair-accessible.

There are several resources that can help you make your home wheelchair-accessible.

Get educated about home modifications
Getting yourself informed about making your home wheelchair-accessible is the first step, and there are plenty of resources and organizations that can help. The HHS also explained that repairs and alterations can cost seniors anywhere from $150 to $2,000, depending on the type of renovation you are seeking. A contractor will be the best person to explain to you what is needed in your home, how much it will cost and what kinds of reduced rates or fees might apply.

However, it's important to know that these modifications and their respective expenses are provided by the Older Americans Act, and then dispensed through the Area Agencies on Aging, according to the HHS. You can find out where your local AAA chapter is by visiting the Alzheimer's Association's Community Resource Finder (www.communityresourcefinder.org)  and then clicking on the "Community Services" tab.

Resources and organizations
In addition to your local AAA, there are several other resources and organizations that might be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to financial assistance. The HHS recommends Rebuilding Together, Inc., which operates with local affiliates and volunteers to help low-income seniors find the resources they need. You might also be able to find rebates with the U.S. Department of Energy's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, though those discounts may vary state by state.

It's also worthwhile to contact organizations in your area, as many cities and towns offer grant funds through community development centers and local departments. Local banks and lenders might advise you to look into home equity conversion mortgages or reverse mortgages to cover additional costs for renovations as well.

If you're a senior looking to make your home wheelchair-accessible, there are many ways you can get the assistance you need, both from private and public sources. Be sure to ask family and friends about their own experiences with these types of renovations as well so that you gain more insight into the right contractors to hire for this important task.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Article  |  On: September 07, 2016

The benefits of aging in place

Do you move your aging mother to an assisted living community, or do you hire a home health aide so she can stay at home? Discover the benefits of aging in place.

We only want what's best for our senior loved ones, but all too often, we are just unsure of what that really entails. Do you move your aging mother to an assisted living community, or do you hire a home health aide so she can stay at home?

The latter option, called aging in place, is often the preferred choice. According to a 2011 survey from AARP, about 90 percent of adults age 65 and older said they want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Plus, this long-term care route has plenty of advantages:

It's more affordable
While the price tag shouldn't be the only factor swaying your long-term care decision, it's important to consider what options you have within your budget. According to 2010 data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, using home health aide services costs $21 per hour on average. Meanwhile, the mean monthly payment for an assisted community is $3,292.

You would need home health aide services for 40 hours per week to come close to that price. Depending on your loved one's health status, you may only require this type of care a few hours per day or when you're not around. Additionally, this reduction in cost has extended benefits, the executive director of the National Aging in Place Council, Marty Bell, told The Nation's Health.

"There are a lot of people who argue … that if enough people could be taught to age in place, and it's available to them, that it can really bolster the sustainability and strength of the Medicaid and Medicare program," Bell said. "So it's kind of a win-win for the individuals and the society as a whole."

 

Senior woman with dogs.

Aging in place allows seniors to enjoy all the comforts their familiar home has to offer.

Aging in place provides a sense of community
Your aging parent has spent a lifetime building family relationships and likely years bonding with neighbors. Removing older adults from their long-time homes can make them feel like those connections have weakened. According to research published in The Gerontologist, the majority of seniors want to age in place because of the attachment and familiarity they feel with their home and communities. While moving to an assisted living community provides opportunities to make new friends, older adults may rather maintain already-existing relationships.

It fights isolation
That sense of community provided through aging in place does more than make seniors feel comfortable. It is also integral for fighting feelings of isolation, a dangerous trend among seniors. Researchers from the University of Chicago found a link between loneliness and high blood pressure in older adults. The study authors noted that feelings of loneliness can occur even when a senior is surrounded by people - such as at an assisted living community. This further demonstrates the importance of the familiarity and sense of community provided through aging in place.

This is not to say that assisted living communities aren't a great option for long-term care. It all depends on your senior loved one's personality and needs. Have an open discussion about long-term care options so everyone's voice is heard.

CATEGORIES

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: May 17, 2016

What to expect when helping a loved one through home care

Does your senior parent need a home health aide? Here's what you can expect.

Many seniors are choosing  to "age in place," or live at home during their retirement years. This popular option allows folks to remain involved in their communities and enjoy the comforts of their own homes. However, for some older adults, living independently has its challenges, so they often solicit home health services. If your parent is entertaining the idea of hiring a home health aide, here's what you can expect:

Overview of services
As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explained, you need a doctor's approval to start home health services, so be sure you communicate with your parent's physicians about long-term care options. It's also important to have a thorough understanding of the type of services home health care staff provides. According to CMS, these professionals perform the following duties:

  • Examine the home to ensure it's safe for living. 
  • Educate clients on care to promote independence.
  • Check vital signs like blood pressure and breathing.
  • Administer medications.
  • Review the client's overall well-being, including pain levels and proper diet.

That said, the services provided vary depending on the client's needs. For instance, an older adult with limited mobility may receive help bathing and dressing. Meanwhile, home health aides may also assist with meal preparation and grocery shopping.

"Home health services vary depending on the client's needs."

The selection process
Once you, your parent and the overseeing physician have determined that home health services are the right fit, you'll need to select the right home health organization or aide. The doctor should provide a list of local home health services, but it's important to do some research of your own to find the best team or person possible.

Once you've narrowed down your selection, you and your parent should go through an interview process. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice advised care seekers read any literature about the organizations and their services, such as the providers' "Patient Bill of Rights," before conducting interviews. When you do have a sit-down with potential care takers, ask about rules on the family's involvement in decision-making, employee training, financing the service, what documentation aides take and emergency protocol.

An adjustment period
Bringing in a home health aide is a major transition. All of a sudden, your parent has a stranger in his or her home, helping the individual dress, bathe and eat. Ensuring you use the same home health aide each day will make the transition easier. It will also help the client and provider build that necessary trust for an effective relationship. Of course, this isn't always possible - home health aides may need time off - but you can voice your concerns about remaining consistent.

Listen to the senior's concerns and feedback to evaluate whether the caregiver is the right fit. Just keep in mind that it may take only a few days or as long as several weeks for your loved one to become comfortable with the home health aide.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: April 05, 2016

How to help your loved one adjust to assisted living

Change is always difficult, and moving from home to an assisted living community is a major adjustment.

Change is always difficult, and moving from home to an assisted living community is a major adjustment. Residents not only struggle with the shift of locations but also the mental hurdle of recognizing their need for around-the-clock care. In fact, this may make seniors resentful to the transition, and as a loved one, there are steps you can take to make this easier.

"Try not to trivialize the impact of this change."

Be there
Do this not just emotionally but also physically. Forbes contributor Carolyn Rosenblatt discussed her experience moving her senior brother to an assisted living community. She advised that loved ones remain present with the older adult on the day of he or she moves into the new locale. Not only does this show your support, but it also ensures you're there to address any potential issues. For instance, you can ask questions on your loved one's behalf or explain his or her worries to the assisted living staff.

Part of being present also involves actively listening. Your senior loved one may feel sad about leaving items behind, anxious at the thought of starting a new lifestyle and worried he or she might lose connections with friends. Of course, time will relieve many these apprehensions, but for now, be a sounding board for the older adult. Understand his or her feelings are valid, and while it's important to remain positive, try not to trivialize the impact of this change.

Mirror the home space
It is human nature to develop routines, as habitual daily living elicits familiarity and comfort. This is especially important for seniors moving to a new setting, as the major transition disrupts their lives. In fact, continuing routines can even help achieve a good night's rest. A 2010 study published in the journal SLEEP found that stability contributes to better sleep efficiency in seniors and allows them to more easily fall asleep.

Beyond encouraging the older adult to continue activities as normal - going to sleep, eating meals and exercising at the same time each day - mimicking the layout of the former home may also help with this process. In fact, according to the American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living, many senior communities encourage residents to bring some personal items like furniture and photographs to create that at-home atmosphere. As a loved one, you can help the senior choose which items to bring and set up the new space. Take some pictures of the former home before packing so you have a visual reference.

 

Group of seniors eating dinner together at assisted living center.There are plenty of opportunities for your senior loved one to make friends.

Encourage socialization
Assisted living communities are changing to create a better living experience for residents. To do this, many locations provide myriad social activities. Encourage your loved one to join in on the fun. Meeting new people is always somewhat uncomfortable at first, but the only way to form those important friendships is to break the ice. Grab a pamphlet on the community's events and review it with your loved one to get everyone excited about the new living situation.

If you sense the senior is hesitant to participate in these affairs, speak to staff members. Let them know about the resident's apprehension, and they can encourage him or her to get involved when you're not there. Perhaps they know of other residents who will extend a friendly hand! Be sure to tell assisted living employees about your loved one's unique interests, too. There may be a pottery class that's perfect for an art connoisseur or a volunteer event at the local humane society that's ideal for animal lovers.

Not every senior makes the transition with apprehension. Some folks are excited for the new lifestyle. Regardless, it's vital for loved ones to help facilitate a positive experience, which involves taking the older adult's feelings and needs into consideration.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: March 19, 2016

Home Sweet “Cottage”

"Granny Cottages" or "Elder Cottages" are taking off as alternate solutions to care communities for your loved one. Here's a bit of information to think about.

An alternative to assisted living communities or skilled nursing homes is gaining a lot of interest as more and more Baby Boomers are finding it difficult to live on their own. Many families are turning to the alternative of installing a temporary “cottage” in their backyards where mom and/or dad can live nearby.

There are several factors to consider, and we’ve done some research for you:

Debunking the sticker shock.

Families often experience sticker shock when first researching the possibility of having a cottage assembled on their property. The expense of installing a cottage can seem prohibitive ($40,000 to over $60,000 for the cottage itself), but when stacked up against the national average of $43,200 for assisted living (according to Genworth Financial, Inc.) and $80,300 for skilled nursing care (that’s per person/per year), your total outlay for the cottage may prove to be a viable solution. And while it’s impossible to know how long your loved one could benefit from living a stone’s throw away, it is possible that you will have wisely spent the money on the cottage.

Financing.

Many families opt to sell their parents’ home in order to finance the cost of the cottage. Some companies offer financing as well.

Beware of added installation costs.

There are several companies that offer an out of the box solution for these cottages.  Beyond selecting the cottage that will best serve your loved one’s needs, there are many other big ticket items to consider:

  • How much clearing of the site and leveling off the ground is involved? Will trees need to be taken down to make room for the cottage?
  • How much will a licensed plumber charge to install and hook up pipes?
  • How much will an electrician cost?
  • Does the company charge extra for:
    • Crane rental
    • Transportation from factory to your property
    • Accessibility ramp
    • Monitoring/camera system
    • Landscaping

Other costs to consider.

If you live in a community that generally prohibits installing a cottage on your property, you may need to hire an attorney to apply for a variance from your local government. Another way around having a separate building on your property may be to simply have the cottage installed as an addition to your existing home. Of course, if you annex the cottage to your house, your property taxes will definitely increase.

Your property taxes might increase even if the cottage is a stand-alone structure.  Gerard Giannetti, CPA, of Giannetti & Associates in Roseland, NJ explains, “When you apply for a permit to place a cottage on your property, the application could trigger a ‘tax assessable event,’ and your property valuation may increase. That valuation could cause an increase in your property taxes.”

Also don’t forget that you may need to hire a caregiver to see your loved one a few hours a week or more, especially if their health situation changes. Genworth estimates the annual national average cost for 44 hours per week to be $45,750.

Do your homework.

Ed Guion of Elder Cottages in Manheim PA cautions, “The most important part of this process is to make sure you work with a reputable company that is licensed in your state.”  The company should take the time to answer all your questions, offer a free estimate, and of course, “provide a written quotation that includes all extra expected costs.”

What to do when you no longer need the cottage.

Some companies are willing to do the work for you to find someone to purchase your cottage.  Guion warns, “You shouldn’t expect to make money on the cottage as it is not an item that increases in value.” If you plan to sell the cottage on your own, be sure the buyer contracts with a company that has experience and is skilled in moving a modular house. 

Priceless intangibles.

  • Having mom and dad within stepping distance will enable you to spend more quality time with them and less time driving to see them.
  • The cottages are one-level and have wide-open floor plans which help with mobility issues.
  • The longer your loved one lives in the cottage, the more money your family will save over time in caring for them.
  • Cottage composition is held to a high standard – they must be able to withstand being moved, hoisted on a crane and lowered to the ground.

Maybe it’s time you became part of the cottage industry.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: March 17, 2016

What to expect in the 21st Century care continuum

Here are some of the perks of 21st Century assisted living to look forward to.

America is gaining more seniors by the minute. As the U.S. Census Bureau noted, America will be home to about 80 million older adults by 2050, which will nearly double the rate in 2014. This growing population is likely conducting research on senior living options, and they may be surprised at what they find. The care continuum has been increasingly shifting from the once-bleak perception of "nursing homes" to the bright future of assisted living. If you're a senior planning ahead or someone helping an older loved one explore his or her options, here are some of the perks of 21st Century assisted living to look forward to:

Luxury living
What is the best part of a vacation? Some might answer that the biggest perk is staying in a hotel that serves a warm breakfast every morning, cleans the room while you enjoy the day and tends to all your needs. If you think along those same lines, then assisted living will be a welcome experience for you.

Senior communities have become more than just a place to live. For many, they are a place to thrive, giving residents opportunities to truly enjoy their days and experience a higher quality of life. Welsh Construction, an organization experienced in building assisted living centers, has built dining areas that embody this luxury living concept. Many designs feature open kitchens that allow seniors to get in on the action of cooking. Additionally, delis, wine bars and coffee stations are becoming the norm in these communities, giving residents a wide variety of options on the menu.

The innovative dining rooms aren't the only indication of indulgence. Amenities and entertainment options are abundant in senior living communities, providing residents with more choices when it comes to how they spend their time. According to the Assisted Living Federation of American, as a future resident, you can expect fun activities like gardening and book clubs, conveniences, such as fitness rooms and exercise classes, and other leisurely ventures.

These components all depend on which assisted living community you choose. Are you a workout guru? Look for a locale with a fitness center. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Opt for a retirement community that has walking paths.

 

Senior man playing tennis.Assisted living facilities have many amenities - some may even include tennis courts!

Friendly faces
Exciting amenities ultimately lead to happier residents, which means seniors can mingle with lots of friendly faces in these communities. Beyond having a wealth of neighbors to interact with, you might also get a chance to socialize with community members. According to AssistedLivingFacilities.org, many residences make efforts to engage seniors with people of other generations, as it builds a better sense of community overall. Communities may open their doors to neighbors by hosting social events or serving as a multi-purpose space. For instance, some senior centers double as child day care programs!

Beyond serving as a way to meet new people and have fun, social events are vital to senior health. The University of Rochester Medical Center explained that interacting with others can help older adults reduce their risk for certain diseases, including cardiovascular issues, arthritis and osteoporosis.

 

Two seniors socializing at lunch on outdoor patio.Seniors have plenty of opportunities to socialize in assisted living communities.

Better health care
Gaining access to around-the-clock care is one of the main reasons seniors move to assisted living facilities. The quality of that health assistance is better than ever, and the future will only lead to improvements.

At an ALFA conference, leaders in senior living discussed future trends for this industry. One conclusion was that the senior living and health care industries will continuously collaborate to deliver quality care to community residents. The groups will form relationships that help providers understand the needs of those in assisted living and the best methods for providing care.

Additionally, many communities are adopting health and wellness programs. Upon moving into an assisted living community, you may participate in a nutrition class where you'll learn what nutrients go into a healthy senior diet. Other popular activities include exercise classes, meditation groups and trips to parks with walking paths.

The assisted living industry is changing for the better. Residents have access to an array of health resources, social opportunities and luxury living possibilities.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: March 15, 2016

Assisted Living checklist: 4 things new residents need to know

When considering a major change like moving to an assisted living community, it's important to have all the facts so you can make an informed decision.

When considering a major change like moving to an assisted living community, it's important to have all the facts so you can make an informed decision. Every locale is different in the amenities it offers and overall atmosphere, but there are some universal trends. As a potential new resident, here are four aspects of senior care that you should know about:

1. The basics
As the name suggests, assisted living communities serve individuals who are unable to live without some level of help. However, that doesn't mean residents require 24/7 care. While senior care staff remain available around the clock, these residences are designed to allow older adults to maintain their independence as much as possible. As such, communities offer varying levels of care. For example, one residence may serve as a place to live and receive meals. Meanwhile, another may offer these benefits as well as assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing and administering medication.

"Staying social can help seniors stave off mental decline."

According to AARP, in addition to full-time care, these locales offer room and board, health support and transportation services. They also hold activities that encourage socialization among residents, such as group workout classes or communal dinners.

2. The benefits
Senior care communities are vastly different than the picture painted by age-old stigmas. From five-star meals to fun amenities, this industry is actively finding ways to serve as a community that focuses on health and active living.

Group activities are one of the ways assisted living communities encourage a more fulfilling lifestyle. After all, older adults who are living alone may not have much opportunity to engage with their peers, and this step is important for their health. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that staying social can help seniors stave off mental decline.

Additionally, regular exercise is key for remaining mobile later in life. Many of these communities often offer group workouts that encourage both socializing and physical activity. Some residences even have amenities like pools and workout rooms so seniors don't need to go to the gym to get their exercise.

3. Family comes first
It's normal to worry that living in a community will isolate you from your family. Rest assured that senior care residences advocate for family time. Living in these locales may even provide more opportunities to get together with your kids and grandchildren as some communities offer events for all ages. Additionally, the community's professional senior care team will take responsibility for health-related duties, allowing you and your family to spend more time engaging in fun activities.

Be sure to include your family in the transition, as they can aid with packing and moving as well as making major decisions as part of this shift.

 

Grandparents with grandchildren in nature background.Assisted living communities still give you opportunities to spend time with loved ones.

4. No transition is easy
As the American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living noted, both you and your loved ones will experience an array of emotions with this move. After all, change can be hard, and the transition comes with a number of worries. You may fear you'll feel lonely or have difficulty communicating your needs to the residence staff.

The community employees understand that residents and their families may have certain reservations and do all they can to make the transition easier. Get involved in the community so you can meet all the locale's friendly faces and communicate with your healthcare team. With time and effort, you'll feel right at home.

As a future senior care resident, it's vital to also evaluate the specific community in which you plan to live. Touring a local senior care community can give you a new perspective on retirement living.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: March 10, 2016

A day in the life of a care community resident

Care communities aim to deliver a better experience and higher quality of life for America's aging population.

Many older adults require extra care as they age, such as assistance with meal preparation, medication, driving and other daily activities. This means living at home alone is not necessarily the safest or most convenient option. Even so, if you're a senior considering a relocation into a continuing care retirement community or a loved one researching for an older family member, making the decision to transition from home can be daunting. Is it the right move? Will I or my senior loved one be happy in this new space?

To answer those questions, it's important to understand what a typical day looks like for folks who reside in care communities. Of course, schedules and amenities vary by location, but there are several trends that many senior care organizations have adopted. Here is a general overview of a day in the life of a care community resident:

Morning
Care community staff will likely review the health status of all residents when they wake up. The health care professionals will check seniors' vitals and administer daily medications. With this level of assistance, residents can rest assured they're starting their day out on the right foot and won't forget to take any prescriptions. Staff will also aid with morning grooming, bathing and dressing for those who need extra assistance.

Most continuing care retirement communities offer three meals a day, starting with breakfast. These locations strive to move away from the stigmas of flavorless food and dingy cafeterias, so residents can expect well-prepared meals and an inviting dining room atmosphere. Health care professionals work with kitchen staff to develop a menu that enables residents to eat a well-balanced diet that also tastes great.

Many care communities offer exercise classes to boost seniors' energy levels so they can enjoy all the activities the day has to offer. These activities are geared toward older adults, meaning staff lead them through safe yet effective workouts. As the National Institutes of Health noted, staying active later in life can help ward off diseases and delay disabilities. It can also help seniors manage stress and live an overall better quality of life.

Meanwhile, group activities like exercise classes elicit the advantages of socializing for seniors. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, interacting with peers reduces older adults' chances of developing dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and osteoporosis. On the other hand, avoiding interacting with others can make seniors more prone to high blood pressure and feelings of loneliness.

This is an especially important component of senior care communities because, without arrangements like exercises classes, many older adults have few opportunities to interact with their peers. After all, retirees can't gab with co-workers at the water cooler anymore, and limited mobility may keep seniors inside and away from friends. Care communities provide opportunity and accessibility.

 

Seniors doing sit ups on mats.Staying active is crucial for senior health.

Afternoon
Senior care communities offer lunch menus built around the same principles as breakfast - healthy and tasty! By noon, many of the residents migrate to the dining area to chat with friends while eating their midday meals.

Following lunch, those who need some rest can nap in their bedrooms. Residents who have the energy to keep going have an opportunity to engage in all the activities the care community has to offer. Again, those amenities and excursions vary depending on the community, but certain practices are becoming increasingly popular.

For instance, according to Building Design & Construction, many housing developers create spaces that accommodate both seniors' and area residents' needs, a design that aims to integrate older adults into the larger community. As such, care communities are often equipped to host lectures from various speakers or performers from the town's dance teams. By inviting people outside the senior community, residents have access to both entertainment and a chance to socialize.

"Care providers are available 24/7."

Evening
Care community dinners are no less nutritious or delicious than breakfast and lunch. For instance, they may enjoy protein-rich grilled chicken, which can boost energy levels and help individuals manage a healthy weight. Seniors can gab with friends about how they spent their day while enjoying supper.

Post-dinner hours provide the perfect opportunity for family members to visit their senior loved ones, as folks are typically just getting off work. Residents enjoy catching up with their children and grandchildren either in their living quarters or general lounge areas. Some evenings, care communities even host events designed for all ages, meaning family can join in on the fun.

Finally, when it's time to unwind, health care professionals again step up to aid seniors in getting ready for bed. Whether this involves bathing, administering nightly medications or checking vitals, community staff is there to assist in any way possible. While mornings and nights have unique routines, care providers are available 24/7 at these locations, meaning residents always have access to quality health care.

Care communities aim to deliver a better experience and higher quality of life for America's aging population. As such, amenities and services see constant advancements, which puts seniors in the midst of a care community revolution.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Article  |  On: March 04, 2016

4 characteristics of a great care community

Moving a senior loved one into a care community is a big step. Here are the top four things to look for when deciding on the best care community.

Moving a senior loved one into a care community is a big step. You want to ensure the older adult will be happy in his or her new home and that the community will provide adequate support. At first glance, it may seem like any care community will do - they should all have trained medical professionals on staff, food for residents and rooms for the seniors to live in.

However, it's important to scrutinize each detail until you are confident you've made the best decision. Even the smallest differences between locations matter. Here are the top four components to look for when making a care decision:

1. Motivated staff
Most professionals enter the medical field because they are motivated by helping others. As such, the majority of care communities will have dedicated individuals on staff that take their positions seriously. However, as with any job, business operations and the environment can make all the difference in how employees approach their work each day. As such, even though medical professionals have some characteristics in common, certain care communities are bound to have exceptionally compassionate and happy employees.

To distinguish these options, be sure to schedule tours of the care communities you're interested in. A staff member will likely guide you through the building and give you a detailed explanation of the services the community provides, but what you see matters just as much as what they say.

For instance, look around at the residents during this tour. Are the seniors sitting by themselves, or are they chatting with friendly staff? What are the employees doing - sitting at a desk or engaging the residents? You can also develop a more realistic perception of the staff by speaking with the residents or their family members.

 

Health care worker talking to senior.Look for staff who engage with residents.

2. Amenities that promote an active lifestyle
Colorful walls and TVs are nice additions to any care community, but when reviewing the amenities, it's important to consider how they will affect your senior loved one's well-being. Remember, it is important for individuals of all ages, especially older adults, to maintain an active lifestyle.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercising later in life can help seniors maintain strength and stamina, stave off conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure, fight depression and improve joint function. Essentially, physical activity can help your senior loved one experience a higher quality of life, so it's crucial that he or she has the opportunity to exercise in the care community.

Workout rooms, outdoor walking paths and swimming pools are all excellent amenities for this purpose. Exercise classes bring an additional advantage - the opportunity to socialize. The University of Rochester Medical Center explained that interacting with other people later in life can help older adults reduce their risk for a number of health conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and arthritis.

3. Healthy food options
Having breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options isn't enough for a care community to be the optimal choice for your senior loved one. The food must constitute a nutritious, well-balanced diet - an important aspect of senior health. As the National Institutes of Health explained, eating well can boost energy levels in older adults, help them maintain a healthy weight and combat digestive issues like constipation.

So when touring the care community, ask for a menu of their food options. Do you see meals heavy in saturated and trans fats, or does the care center serve good sources of protein, vegetables and whole grains?

 

Salad with chicken, tomatoes, avocados and bacon.A well-balanced diet can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

4. The right fit
A community may have the most caring staff, finest amenities and healthiest meal plan and still not be the right choice for your senior loved one. To be sure, those advantages carry a lot of weight, but it's also important for the older adult to be happy with the location, too. For instance, if the best senior community is 500 miles away, the senior may feel sad or insecure being so far from his or her family. Similarly, if the older adult has a beloved dog, he or she will be happier at a pet-friendly community.

Choosing a care community is a tough decision, but you can make it easier by keeping the appropriate criteria in mind.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: September 16, 2015

Crisis Management & Finding the Right Living Facility for Your Loved One

Caregivers, you know that at any moment your daily routine can change if the person in your care suffers a medical event that leads to a hospital stay and then by eventual placement in assisted care or skilled nursing home. Avoid the crisis mode.

Caregivers, you know that at any moment your daily routine can change if the person in your care suffers a medical event that leads to a hospital stay. The hospital stay can be followed by rehab and then by eventual placement in assisted care or a skilled nursing home. You might find yourself in crisis mode scrambling around to find the right place.

The easiest and best way to avoid having to manage a crisis like this is to prepare ahead by visiting assisted living communities and skilled nursing homes so that you can make a calm and informed decision. Here are some tips on what to consider:

You’re still the caregiver.

Even when the person in your care is no longer living under the same roof as you, you’ll still be “CEO” of their care.

  • Are you comfortable with the administration, medical and care staff?
  • Do they answer your questions in a timely and precise manner?

Shop around.

You wouldn’t buy a car without comparing different brands – enough said.

  • Do you know anyone who now has or previously had a loved one in long-term care? Ask them to tell you the pros and cons.
  • Ask your doctor or the social worker at the hospital/rehab facility for recommendations.
  • Create a pros/cons list for each community you visit.

Test drive.

One sure-fire way to know you’ve chosen the best community is to test it out first.

  • Schedule a respite or trial stay for the person in your care.
  • Visit often and drop by when the staff isn’t expecting you.
  • Ask the person in your care for feedback: what did they like and dislike?

Location! Location! Location!

Though this triplicated word is the mantra of every realtor, it should be part of your mantra, too.

  • Will traffic be a deterrent for you?
  • Is your preferred hospital close by?
  • Is the parking lot well lit?

General atmosphere.

You may think the facility is lovely, but you’d be wise to look beyond its beauty.

  • Does the décor match the taste of the person in your care?
  • Are there odors in and around the halls that turn you off?
  • As you pass by staff, are they being attentive to residents/patients? Are they friendly towards you?
  • Does the person who is touring you take time to stop and acknowledge the residents/patients?
  • Can you peek in a room (unannounced) to see whether the room and the resident/patient are clean and well cared for?
  • Are they willing to let you sample the food?

Cost.

Many assisted care communities reel you in with low pricing and before you know it, they increase their fees as the person in your care requires more of their attention.

  • Does the facility charge extra for dispensing medications, tending to incontinence, assisting with dressing and other activities of daily living?
  • What is the expected average annual increase?
  • Are all rooms the same rate?

Buyer beware.

Before you sign any contract, be sure you understand the nature of the arrangement.

  • What are your options if you are dissatisfied with the care or you need to move?
  • Are you locked into an annual contract, or are you able to give 30 days’ notice?

Be prepared. What’s your crisis management plan?

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