Do Your Due Diligence When Selecting an Assisted Living Facility

Choosing an assisted-living or long-term care facility for your family member can seem like a daunting task. The decision to move into a nursing home is seldom an easy one, and relatives have every right to be concerned and anxious about the level of care their loved one will receive. This can be especially true for those with special needs, or those who haven’t spent an extensive part of their life away from a home with a nuclear family.

News reports and first-hand accounts of nursing home abuse may only heighten your concerns. However, there are many well-run residential care facilities, and selecting one of these nursing homes will significantly decrease the likelihood that your family member becomes an abuse victim.

But how do you know which long-term care facilities are well run and which are prone to problems? There are a number of resources that can help you vet facilities before making a selection. When researching long-term care facilities for your family member, there are a few sources of information you should consider:

  • A state agency (often the Department of Health and Human Services, or its equivalent) is responsible for licensing each nursing homes operating in the state, conducting periodic inspections, and investigating complaints of elder abuse and other problems at assisted living facilities. You should be able to visit the agency’s website to confirm that a facility’s license is in good standing, view inspection reports, and learn more about the nature of complaints and how they were resolved.
  • It’s important to consider the context when reviewing this information. For example, spot check the complaints that have been filed for several facilities in the area, including those with the best reputations, to gauge how many complaints is a typical, above-average and below-average number. In addition, reviews can also be a valuable resource.
  • The state, county or city Agency on Aging can normally provide you with a list of residential care facilities in the area. In talking to an agency representative, you may be able to get informal feedback about a particular facility’s reputation in the community.
  • Each state also has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman, whose job is to advocate on behalf of assisted-living facility residents, and educate residents and their families. Your state’s ombudsman can help you learn more about long-term care facilities and regulations in your area.
  • It’s critical to talk to people with first-hand knowledge of local nursing home facilities, including people who have relatives in assisted living facilities, as well as residents of the nursing home you’re considering. Ask a lot of questions. What did families learn during the facility selection process and what would they do differently? What do residents like and dislike about a particular assisted-living facility? Would the resident recommend the facility to others?
  • If you know any nursing home abuse attorneys in your area, consider asking them for feedback on the resident care facilities you’re considering. Because nursing home abuse attorneys represent the abuse victims, they’ll be well aware of which facilities have a chronic history of problems and which are well-run. And if you are friends with people who work in the assisted living industry, ask them for their impressions and feedback about specific facilities.
  • The Assisted Living Federation of American, which is the trade group for assisted living facilities, maintains a list of links to regulations and assisted living regulatory agencies on a state-by-state basis.
  • The National Center for Assisted Living, which is run by another industry trade group, publishes an annual review that summarizes assisted-living regulations on a state-by-state basis. If you are considering residential care facilities in more than one state, this document can help you learn more about each state’s regulatory standards and requirements.
About the Author

Alan Brady is a single father, a part-time care provider for his grandmother, and an advocate for reducing caregiver abuse and neglect. He recommends seeking the services of a nursing home abuse attorney if you or a loved one experiences either while in the care of a nursing home.

Now What? Tips for First-Time Caregivers

Tips for First Time Caregivers

When my mother-in-law moved in with my husband and me after her stroke, I watched my stress levels skyrocket. I wanted to provide the best care possible, but I didn’t know where to begin. After doing a lot of research and talking to friends who had been in similar situations, I discovered that there are some really wonderful resources out there for first-time caregivers like me.

By taking advantage of the following tips, those of us who are new to caregiving can relax and focus on caring for our loved ones knowing that we are well-prepared.

The Basics

Accepting your new role as a caregiver can be tough, and there is no reason to pretend that it’s not. One of the best things you can do, for you and your loved one, is remember to take care of yourself, too. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and setting aside time to enjoy your favorite hobbies and the company of your friends can all help you manage stress. And when your stress levels are kept in check, you will be more clearheaded, calm, and energetic, all of which translate to a better, more sustainable ability to provide great care. It is sometimes difficult to not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Try to remember that by taking care of your needs, you are indirectly taking care of your loved one’s needs, too.

Community

Caregiving can lead to all sorts of emotions, questions, and concerns. Having a robust community that can offer support, camaraderie, and advice is crucial, especially for new caregivers who are most likely to need a little reassurance.

You may find that your closest friends do not understand what you are going through. This can be frustrating and lead you to feel alienated or alone. Fortunately, there are a variety of online support groups for caregivers that provide a place to share your worries and aggravations. At the end of a long day, I find comfort in connecting with others on discussion forums who can relate to my experiences. Sharing stories remains one of my favorite ways to make new friends and learn new information.

Apps

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to keep track of when you are caring for a loved one. Medications, medical visits, and daily regimens can quickly add up to a pile of lists that are all too easy to lose. With the help of apps for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, you can ditch the pen and paper. Microsoft Health Vault allows caretakers to keep medical records all in one place, which makes it easy to track down contact information for a loved one’s physicians, or to forward relevant medical history to new doctors. Other programs help keep track of medications, dosing schedules, and allow you to check whether or not medications—including over-the-counter drugs—interact with each other.

Education

When it comes to caregiving, knowledge is power. And power provides peace of mind. While you’re sure to learn about your loved one’s medical conditions, medications, and other treatments, there are additional issues that you’re almost guaranteed to run across. You may find yourself being asked to make decisions about your loved one’s finances and end-of-life wishes, among other things. Investing time early on in learning as much as you can will prevent a situation in which you’re faced with the panic of navigating circumstances you know nothing about. At the least, try to familiarize yourself with first aid and CPR, other assisted living options and their associated costs in the event your loved one eventually requires a different level of care, and the current state of your loved ones financial and legal affairs.

Be Realistic

As you settle into your role as caregiver, try to keep your expectations realistic. You can provide excellent, compassionate care, but you cannot plan to meet each and every one of your loved one’s needs one-hundred percent of the time. Remember that there will be good days and bad days, and more importantly, that that’s okay. Ellen Besso’s book, The Caregiver in Midlife, gives advice from a balanced perspective that is supportive without any sugarcoating.

About the Author

Shanon Raynard believes prevention and preparedness are one of the most important elements of health and wellness. She partners with ACLS.net to raise awareness about life support certification resources that follow the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association.

Adjusting to Your New Family Dynamic

Your mom and dad are showing signs that they are not acting as sharply as they once were, and you are slowly noticing the change. Dishes are starting to pile up, hygiene is beginning to decline and your parent or elder is starting to forget normal routines, monthly bill payments or their usual doctor appointments. Because you do not live with them, you are concerned the little signs are indications of larger issues. As we age our state of mind and physical condition changes and making adjustments guarantees a safer, more comfortable and happier living condition.

Starting the Conversation

Regardless of the state your senior is in, discussing caregiving options early on and jointly is vital. Your conversation approach should come from a calm, understanding place where you highlight the advantages and specific reasons to why you think additional help is necessary. Outlining and examining what they want compared to the needs you anticipate should bring all pieces to a level playing field. Shift to a more emotional method if your mom or dad becomes hostile. Really explain your worries and if you already act as the family caregiver, tell him or her how the stress is starting to affect your own life. After coming to some form of agreement, it is time to decide on the best caregiving service.

Discussing Options 

The aging population is growing rapidly, and the senior care industry is creating numerous solutions for families in need. Assisted living, nursing homes, in-home care, adult day care and respite care are all options to consider. It can sometimes be difficult to make the smartest choice, but that is why the whole family’s opinion needs to be considered. AARP asked baby boomers about their most desired location as they aged, and 80% of participants stated they wanted to stay in their own home instead of an assisted care facility. Staying at home is usually the most appealing due to the desired need for independence, and your family may prefer this solution. In-home care is the option that most greatly affects the entire family, and having a plan will make the transition go smoothly.

How In-Home Care Affects You

In-home care can come in three forms. The first circumstance is where the senior moves into your home. The second is where you check in on your mom and dad at their home. Finally, the third option includes the first or second option with additional respite care from a third party provider.

Accommodating an additional person in your home affects your family. Rooms can be reassigned or your home may need remodeling for handicap accessibility, an extra room or a new user-friendly bathroom. Safety elements also need to be reviewed in your home’s current state. Emergency response systems, fall sensors and 24-hour monitoring structures are some of the common safety precautions installed in the home.

Financial changes also need to be considered in all three types of in-home care. Home remodels, food, respite care, transportation and many other expenses could be subtracted from your household’s income. However, time is often the most overlooked element to in-home care services. Juggling your own personal life and household against added doctor appointments, mealtimes and errands can be difficult. Two schedules can be stressful on a family caregiver, so making sure the entire family is on board will also reduce the stress by finding the gaps between schedules.

Why Open Communication?

Taking on the responsibility and role of family caregiver is life changing. Resentment, hostility and stress-induced arguments can arise. Keeping the lines of communication open can reduce the negative tension between family members and help manage your new family dynamic. Working efficiently as a family allows things to run smoother and make for a happier home.

For any additional questions, please contact us in the comments below.

About the Author:

Kym Clark, RN, BSN, CLNC, CSA is the Director of Home Care Services and Quality Administration for Comfort Keepers®, a franchise network in the in-home care market for seniors and other adults needing care.

The Importance of Stretching for Seniors as it Gets Colder

As the days get colder and winter looms near it is important for seniors to limber up as well s layer up. One of many misconceptions about seniors and exercise is that seniors should rest and avoid too much strenuous activity during the winter. This is in large part due to the increased chances seniors have of experiencing a fall during the winter time when the snow is thick and the ground can be slick. For many, the fear of falling is enough to make them go into hibernation during the winter and as a result live a much more sedentary lifestyle.

While many seniors are less capable, or find it less convenient to get good exercise during the winter, one thing they must consistently do to remain healthy is stretch.  Stretching is not only a healthy practice in general but highly regarded anti-aging tip. Here are some of main benefits of stretching and how they can help seniors live healthier through the winter:

Loosens and Lengthens the Muscles

Stretching helps you maintain good balance by lengthening and loosening your muscles. Many seniors become more stiff due to less activity during the winter time and after a while this can make them more susceptible to falls. A good habit to get into is to stretch in the morning when you wake up or at the very least right before you go outside for long durations in the snow. Those who have already experienced an injury or are disabled should always use some sort of mobility aid with properly padded feet for the slick ground.

Strengthens the Immune System by Promoting Healthy Blood Flow

The variety of movements and angles in stretching helps to promote healthy blood flow to every part of your body. Getting that blood pumping and increasing circulation can be extremely beneficial to your immune system and decrease your chances of getting sick during the cold winter months. Longer, more thorough periods of stretching can even burn a decent amount of calories and serve as a subtle method of exercising.

Joint Pain Relief

Along with proper hydration, the joints need to have warm, loose muscles to support proper functioning. When the joint muscles become tight or weak it puts extra strain on the bones to support the body as you move, consequently as we get older our joints tend to ache more due to the strain put on them by the lack of proper muscle function. When you loosen up those tight muscles that support your joints, overtime you will find you can move much more smoothly and fluidly without joint pain.

Makes you more Energized and Eager to be Active

Ever notice that you always feel a little more spring after a good stretching period. Now that you’ve loosened up and got the blood pumping you feel like you are ready to do something active. AS mentioned above stretching in the morning is a good habit to get into so that you feel energized and ready to take on the day.

In addition to stretching, a healthy diet, and adequate hydration are essential for keeping you healthy through those cold winter months. Always try to find a way to remain active for a small period every day and keep that metabolism going, even if the activity is modest. Taking care of your muscles through stretching is as important during the winter as taking of your body in eating. Roll those feet out of bed, reach your hands to the ceiling and then reach down to touch your toes. Sit down on the floor, fold your leg over and stretch that stiff hip. Prepare your body for an active day and you’ll keep age and sickness away.

About the Author 

Cheryl Swanson is a writer for the rollator supplier Just Walkers. As a both a writer and personal trainer to the elderly she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience to help seniors stay active on their feet.