Regaining Independence: Fall Prevention & Recovery Programs

Senior man who recently experienced a fall that could have been prevented.

As we age, the consequences of falling can become fatal. While falling isn’t a normal part of aging, it remains to be one of the most common causes of injury in older adults. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments and account for over 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths. Fall-related injuries such as head trauma or broken bones can be harder to recover from in old age. However, there is a simple fall prevention program that you can follow to keep you safe and healthy all year long.

Fall Prevention: Causes and Risk Factors

There are many different things that can cause a person to fall. Older adults who are taking several medications might experience dizziness, which can contribute to a fall or loss of balance. Some normal aspects of aging like low vision, loss of hearing, or slower reflexes can also cause falls.

According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists have also linked personal risk factors, such as muscle weakness, balance and gait issues, and a sudden drop of blood pressure to fall-related causes. Older adults who experience foot pain or those who wear unsafe shoes are also at risk for falling. While there are many factors that cause falls, there are also many ways to prevent them.

Fall Prevention Program

The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. While the consequences of falling can be severe, preventing them can be very simple. The Mayo Clinic published a list of simple fall preventative measures every older adult should consider:

Meet with Your Doctor
As you prepare your fall prevention program, it’s important to check-in with your doctor about your current state of health. You should be prepared to discuss what medications you’re currently taking. Many doctors will change your prescription if your medications cause side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. Some types of antidepressants can also increase your risk of falling.

If you’ve experienced a fall before, it’s important to share all of the details with your health care provider. Before your appointment, write down the last time you fell, where you were, and how you fell. Sharing these types of details will allow your doctor to identify fall prevention strategies that will work for your situation.

Wear Safe Shoes
Shoes like high heels, slippers, and shoes without proper tread can cause you to trip, stumble or and fall. Walking only in socks or without proper shoes can also put you at risk for falling as well. Consider switching to sturdy and nonskid shoes to prevent unwanted falls.

Remove Hazards at Home
Many falls happen in the home, usually during the nighttime, especially if you wake up to use the restroom. You should always make sure the space between your bed and the restroom is completely clear in order to reduce your risk of falling in the home. Hallways and corners should also be kept clear, especially from big and bulky furniture.

Install Safe Lighting
As a part of your fall prevention program, you might consider installing safety lights in your home. Place censored lights in your bedroom, hallways, and bathroom so you are able to see in front of you at night or early in the morning. Switches that glow in the dark can be installed in order to find your way more easily.

Use Assistive Devices
Assisted devices such as a cane or walker can help you stay steady while on the move. There are also many devices designed to keep your home a safer place. Handrails can be installed on both sides of the stairways. In addition, a raised toilet seat with arm rests and grab bars for the shower and tub can help keep you safe while completing basic daily tasks.

Fall Prevention: Benefits of Exercise

Strengthening the muscles that promote balance and mobility will decrease your chances of falling. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible will also help reduce your recovery time in the event that you do take a fall. Here are a few exercises, that if done daily can help you prevent falls. According to Dr. Steven Castle, who has conducted extensive research on fall prevention tips, these exercises will help you build muscle, while increasing balance and mobility. As always, consult your healthcare provider before attempting these exercises:

• Partial Squat- To strengthen your legs, slowly bend at the hips and push back as if you were to sit down. You can brace yourself by balancing your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or counter. Rise up to a standing position and straighten your arms.

• Heel Raise- Place your hands on a wall to keep steady. When you feel balanced, raise your heels up so your weight is on the balls on your feet.

• Knee Flexion- While seated in a chair, raise each leg six inches off the ground one at a time. This will help strengthen and increase mobility in your knee.

• Hip Extension- Holding on to a wall or chair, keep your knee straight while slowly raising your leg behind you. This will help strengthen your legs while stretching your hips.

• Hip Abduction- hold onto the back of a chair just as you would during a hip extension. Slowly raise your leg out to the side, away from your opposite leg. Raise your leg as high as you can without leaning towards one side.

Fall Prevention Program at Maplewood

Falls can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. That’s why at Maplewood Senior Living, we’ve created a fall assessment program designed to improve safety, decrease falls, and provide information regarding our resident’s physical mobility and safety needs. This program includes a fall prevention assessment that will be completed at move in, during changes in condition and every six months in order to establish a baseline and provide continued communication on balance, strength, mobility, and safety.

Partnering with skilled therapists, this fall prevention program will prioritize safety and functional mobility, while decreasing the risk of falls. Participants will complete four standardized functional tests approved by Medicare and widely utilized by Physical and Occupation therapists in regular practices. These tests can be performed efficiently in just a few minutes and provide valuable information on the participant’s wellbeing and potential areas of need. In addition to the tests, a risk assessment will also be completed to accurately identify resident’s needs and fall-risk status.

Making Fall Prevention a Priority at Maplewood Senior Living

Together we have the ability to lower the occurrences of falls for our residents and provide the opportunity to enjoy a happier, healthier and more active life. If you’d like to see how we’re working to keep our residents safe, please contact us here. We’d love to give you a tour of our campus and give you a better idea of what it’s like to live at Maplewood Senior Living.

Veteran’s Benefits for Elderly Care

An elderly, retired marine salutes during a ceremony honoring veterans.

At Maplewood Senior Living we are honored to support many residents who are veterans. Each year we honor the sacrifices they made to protect America with special ceremonies held in celebration of Veteran’s Day across our communities.

Throughout the year we also host a number of educational events aimed at educating veterans and their families about a variety of benefits that are available to them. According to the U.S. Census brief, there are more than 12.4 million veterans aged 65 and older. However, nearly 69% of veterans aren’t aware of the many benefits available to them in their later years. Many of these veterans, most of whom served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and during the Persian Gulf War, are eligible for financial and health-related benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you or your loved one is a veteran, there’s no better time to review Veteran’s benefits for elderly care.

What Services are Available for Veterans?

There are a number of different benefits that may be beneficial to aging veterans, depending on their needs and current living situations. Here are some of the most common benefits used by older veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

• Disability Compensation- Veterans who develop a disease or injury during active military service can be eligible for a tax-free monetary benefit. Those who experience post-service disabilities that are related to the circumstances of their service could also be considered for this financial compensation.

• Pension- A pension is available for older adults aged 65 and older who need assistance with their financial responsibilities and meet net worth limitations.

• Health Care- While many older adults choose to enroll in Medicare, health care plans are available for older adults through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This can assist with specialty appointments, home health care, and medical equipment.

• Insurance- Veterans are eligible to convert their pre-existing Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policy to a Veteran’s Group Life Insurance policy. This allows veterans to keep their life insurance benefit after they’ve departed from their service.

• Burial- Veteran families are also eligible to receive compensation for funeral expenses. Depending on the situation of each individual, the VA has different levels of compensation available.

Aid and Attendance Benefits for Veterans

While there are many different services available to veterans, one of the most popular benefits amongst older veterans is the Aid and Attendance benefit. For those who are eligible, the Aid and Attendance benefit includes an increased monthly pension. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this benefit is designed to help those who meet one of the following conditions:

• Those who need help with basic daily tasks, such as eating, bathing, dressing, or using the restroom
• Those who are bedridden and non-weight bearing
• Those who are residents in a nursing home because of a physical or mental incapacity such as Alzheimer’s and dementia
• Those who have severe visual impairments including a limited eyesight corrected to 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less
• Those who are housebound, meaning they are substantially confined to an immediate premises because of a permanent disability

Basic Requirements

In addition to meeting certain health conditions, in order to be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, veterans must also meet at least one of these requirements to qualify.
• Be 65 or older with no or limited income
• Have a permanent of total disability
• Receive Supplemental Security Income
• Receive Social Security Disability Insurance
• Reside in a nursing home

Financial Requirements

According to Veteran Aid, in December 2018 the Department of Veterans Affairs set a financial cap for all veterans applying for A&A (Aid and Attendance). This means that all eligible applicants must have a net worth of no more than $123,600, not including automobiles, personal effects, and place of residence. To ensure this, the VA will review three years worth of financial documents to make sure no assets were sold or gifted in order to reduce the net worth below the eligibility limit. In addition to an upper net worth limit, the VA also introduced a limit on monthly countable income, minus expenses like medical bills, prescription costs, and Medicare insurance premiums.

Service Requirements

In collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress defines the wartime dates used to decide if a veteran is eligible for Aid and Attendance. In order to qualify, veterans must have served during one of the following wartime dates:
• World War II between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946
• The Korean Conflict, June 27, 1950- January 31, 1955
• Vietnam between February 1961 and May 7, 1975
• Gulf War between August 2, 1990 through a date to be determined in the future

Health Care Veterans Benefits for Elderly Care

As veterans age, many of them will require healthcare support and assistance from the VA. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of offerings and services available to veterans.

Geriatrics Programs

The VA has established geriatrics programs to support chronically ill veterans and their caregivers. As they move up the continuum of care, their needs will also change, requiring the services of some or all of the geriatrics and extended care services. Here are some of the following programs available for veterans:
• Adult Day Health Care
• Community Residential Care
• Geriatric Evaluation and Management
• Geriatric Primary Care

Residential Settings and Nursing Homes

Many older veterans require either long-term care or daily care assistance. The VA has established a variety of senior living options for veterans such as, community residential care, medical foster homes, adult family homes, and assisted living. While all veterans are eligible for this benefit, they must have a clinical need for it and live in an area where the service is provided.

Homemaker and Home Health Aide

These services provide in-home support for veterans who wish to stay at home but need assistance with basic daily functions. Services provided by public and private agencies are available for veterans who qualify for assistance. Caregivers and home health aides help with bathing, dressing, fixing meals, and taking medications. This service is especially beneficial to veterans who might be experiencing isolation or neglect.

Showing Support for Veterans at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we celebrate all veterans and their service to our country. Our senior living services and programs allow all residents and veterans to experience a high-quality of life while receiving the care they require. To learn more about our programs and facilities, please connect with us.

Family Caregivers: How to Make Decisions for Aging Parents

An adult caregiver providing love and support for an aging parent.

Acting as a family caregiver for elderly parents comes with its own challenges and complications. However, when multiple family members are involved, caregiving can become even more complex. Many older adults are beginning to consider acting as their parent’s caregiver for a number of reasons. As older adults continue to live longer, many of them experience chronic diseases and illnesses, which can motivate their children to step in as caregivers. While keeping caregiving in the family can present some challenges, it can also be a great gift to both the siblings and their aging parents.

Common Mistakes of Family Caregivers

Whether you’ve just started caring for your elderly parents or are a seasoned caregiver, there’s always room to grow. While mistakes are inevitable, journalist and author, Francine Russo offers some mistakes to look out for while sharing caregiving responsibilities with siblings.

Forgetting to support the main family caregiver
In most caregiving situations, families will often choose one sibling to act as the main caregiver. Oftentimes this family caregiver provides in-home support if needed, shopping assistance, and help with everyday tasks. This works really well for some families, but it’s not uncommon for the other siblings to unintentionally adopt the mindset that they are “off the hook.”

Never checking-in
Caregiving can be extremely challenging and isolating. Oftentimes the main family caregiver will report that he/she feels both physically and emotionally overwhelmed. However, siblings can take small actions to help combat these feelings, such as calling their parents more often, offering a day of respite care, or even ordering groceries online.

Planning only for the short-term
Most families don’t think about a caregiver’s duties until their parents absolutely need it. This can cause some tension because decisions have to be made quickly and oftentimes don’t leave room for reflecting and long-term planning.

Thinking that everyone mourns the same way
Even if your parents are still living, it’s not uncommon to mourn the loss of their younger years. Watching them suffer from illness, both physical and cognitive, can be painful and requires mourning. We all mourn in different ways, suggests Russo, and the best way to cope with that difference is to accept it.

Things to Consider About a Family Caregiver’s Duties

Caregiving with siblings is especially complicated because there are limited models for this type of situation. Childhood feelings and roles might start to arise, and disagreements over care for your parents might also come to the surface. But, the best thing to do is to be prepared. If you and your siblings are caring for an elderly parents, you might consider the following tips:

• Understand your family dynamics. Maybe your brother is a bit of a hot-head, or perhaps you tend to disappear during difficult situations. Now is the time to understand your dynamics and own them. It’s important to take time to identify our family dynamics and together discuss what changes need to be made. But remember, instead of playing the blame game, it’s always a good idea to suggest changes that only you have control over.

• Reinforce caregiving as a shared responsibility. There might be one sibling who does the majority of the caregiving, however, this does not mean other siblings do not share the responsibility. It’s important for both the main caregiver to know when to ask for help and for the other siblings to consistently offer the other caregivers support.

• Hold family meetings. When it comes to shared caregiving, communication is non-negotiable. You might consider holding consistent family meetings. You might have to improvise for those who aren’t local, but Skype and other video chat tools make great in-person alternatives. If you’ve never hosted a family meeting, here are a few tips to consider:
o Take turns setting an agenda
o Assign roles, like note-taker or timekeeper
o Share all information after the meeting ends through an email

• Understand and plan for differing opinions. There will be times you and your siblings disagree on care-related decisions. That’s completely normal and to be expected. However, it never hurts to plan for these moments. You might create a plan of action with your siblings that all of you promise to honor when a conflict arises.

Consider Your Limits as a Family Caregiver

As you and your family members consider care options for your parents, it’s important to first assess your own abilities and limitations. You might consider reflecting on these statements published by the National Institute on Aging before committing to certain caregiving responsibilities.

• Are you already overcommitted? We all have a wide variety of responsibilities at work and at home that make our lives busy. Taking on more than you can handle can ultimately cause conflict and tension within family dynamics.

• Can you afford it? Family caregiving is a tremendous time commitment. If you work full-time it’s important to think about how this change will affect your finances.

• Are you emotionally prepared? Caregiving can be an emotional experience. If you plan to take on caregiving full-time, make sure you have your support systems in place. This might mean planning for respite care once a week or consistent appointments with a therapist or counselor.

Caregivers Support

Even if you are not the main family caregiver, there are many ways to show your support both for your siblings and your aging parents. Remember, caregiving can’t be done without a group of supporters. Here are some ways you can give caregivers support even from a distance:

• Provide emotional support by calling both the caregiver and the aging parents on a consistent basis.

• If the time comes to find a nursing facility for your parents, you can show your support by researching local facilities, scheduling tours, and gathering information.

• Caregiving can be expensive. It’s important to discuss how finances will be managed. Siblings can show their support by buying groceries, managing respite care, and if needed, sharing the cost of home health and nursing aides.

• Help with basic daily tasks can go a long way. You might consider hiring a laundry service, cleaning help, or grocery deliveries.

Finding Support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how difficult it can be to watch your parents age. Our high-quality services and programs can help siblings navigate the caregiving responsibilities that come with aging parents. If you’d like to hear more about our offerings or see our facilities, please contact us.

How Much Do You Know About the Health of Your Aging Parents?

As the baby boomer population begins to reach and surpass the age of 65, their adult children find themselves more concerned with the health of their aging parents than ever before. According to an article published by U.S. News, nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population is age 65 or older, and that proportion is predicted to increase to 18 percent by 2030. As the baby boomers continue on in their retirement years, many of them will require additional care, either in their homes or at a retirement community. While some adult children act as their parent’s caregivers, many of them are navigating changes in their parent’s health from afar.

While caregiving has its challenges, so does maintaining a long-distance relationship with an aging parent. It’s not uncommon for adult children to be surprised with their parent’s condition after going a long period of time in between visits. It’s especially common for an adult child to wonder why their parent never asked for help. While navigating senior health is different for every family, there are a few common themes to keep in mind.

Senior Health: Why Your Aging Parents Aren’t Asking for Help

It’s normal for older adults to experience signs of aging like stiff joints and or muscle weakness. However, after time these aging-related symptoms can make it difficult to complete daily tasks. While it might seem obvious to ask for help, there are a number of reasons your aging parents might not be telling you the whole truth about the state of their health:

They are experiencing cognitive changes
If your parent is developing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they might not realize that their health and safety are being compromised. In addition, it’s not uncommon for adults experiencing cognitive changes to hide their symptoms from their loved ones, especially their children.

They are in denial
We are hard-wired to be able to rationalize any situation. Even if your parent is experiencing changes in their health, they might be in denial that there’s actually a problem. For example, if your parent is having more trouble driving than normal, it’s not uncommon for them to blame others around them.
They are afraid of losing their independence
You parent might be nervous about the consequences their declining health will have on the quality of their life. They might fear losing their homes, their cars, and their overall autonomy.

Senior Health: How to Recognize Problems

If you do notice a health decline in your aging parent, or are unsure if what you’re seeing is a normal sign of aging, here is a list of warning signs to look for published by the Mayo Clinic:

• Your aging parent might be experiencing memory loss if they ask the same questions repeatedly without remembering the answer. If you notice bills going unpaid, rotting food in the refrigerator, or if your parent is forgetting their weekly routine, like going to a workout class or regular appointment, they could be displaying signs of cognitive decline.

• Losing weight without trying to could be a sign that something isn’t right at home. Weight loss could be attributed to loss of dexterity resulting in the inability to cook for themselves, loss of appetite and energy, or difficulty getting to and from the grocery store.

• A lack of energy or depressed behavior is a sign that your parent might be having a problem. If you notice your parent has stopped talking about their friends or hobbies, you might consider asking them about it or approaching their healthcare provider with your concern.

• Losing balance is common in older adults. However, if you notice excessive bruising and scraping, it could indicate that your parent has been falling and should be examined for a balance or mobility problem.

• Your aging parent might be having trouble taking care of themselves if you notice a lack of hygiene, like bathing and brushing teeth. In addition, if you notice your parent is neglecting housework or doing laundry, these could be signs of cognitive decline or other health concerns.

Senior Health: What’s Next?

Knowing how to react once you’ve noticed a decline in your parent’s health can be extremely challenging. Fortunately, the National Institute on Aging published a variety of steps you can take to ensure your parent’s wellbeing, no matter the distance.

Assess your aging parent’s needs
Most importantly, you should start with assessing your parent’s most immediate need. You might consider assessing their current situation by asking questions like, “where can my parent use the most support?” or “how can mom or dad use support while completing basic daily tasks?” Starting here can help guide your next steps.

Communicate strategically
Navigating the health concerns that can come with aging is scary for everyone involved, including your parent. It’s important to communicate in a way that will be well received. Take into account your parent’s cognitive situation and plan your conversation from there. Always remember to reassure your parent that the conversation is stemming from a place of love and concern.

Address any safety issues
When it comes to monitoring your parent’s health, their safety is definitely a priority. If your parent is still living alone, you might consider evaluating their home for fall-risks and ensure they have the proper tools, like safety bars in the restroom.

Explore your options
Once you’ve determined your parent’s needs, the next step is to explore all of your senior health options. Whether this means researching nearby assisted living or memory care communities or looking for in-home help, it’s important to do your research before making a decision.

Explore Options for Aging Parents at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know you want the best for your aging parents. That’s why we offer care and support for every stage of life, ensuring your loved ones live a high-quality life throughout their retirement years. If you’re still unsure of your parents’ health needs, you might consider taking this quiz, or reach out to one of our staff members to learn more about our communities.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Do I Need It?

 Access to affordable and high-quality healthcare is a priority for many people, especially as we age. While we do have access to testing and tracing family health history, knowing exactly how you will age is a bit of a mystery. That’s where long-term care insurance comes into the picture. Long-term care insurance helps older adults pay for healthcare options such as assisted living, skilled nursing, and specialized care and caregivers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 70% of people age 65 and older will require long-term care at some point in their retirement, and more than 40% will require skilled nursing care.

Long-term care insurance allows older adults access the care they need without depleting their savings account in order to pay for it. However, just like automobile insurance, long-term care insurance policies don’t reimburse you if you don’t use your coverage. Long-term care insurance helps protect your assets and can give you great coverage if you need it. However, it’s important to do your research before you buy a plan.

What’s Covered Under Long-Term Care?

While traditional senior healthcare insurance policies help pay for immediate medical expenses, such as a doctor’s visit or a surgery, long-term care policies cover basic needs over an extended period of time. This is important especially for people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and need help with everyday tasks.
Whether you need coverage at home or in an assisted living setting, long-term care insurance covers out-of-pocket expenses, but usually require a certain waiting period until your benefits begin to cover those costs. Most policies are comprehensive which means they cover you in a variety of settings. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, here’s what you can expect to find in your long-term care insurance:

• Adult day service centers
• Hospice care
• Respite care
• Assisted living facilities
• Nursing homes
• Specialized care facilities, such as Alzheimer’s care
• Skilled nursing
• Occupational, speech, and physical therapy
• Personal care assistance

Cost of Long-Term Senior Care

This is where the debate on whether or not to buy long-term care insurance can get controversial. In general, the cost of senior care is very expensive. There’s no exception when it comes to long-term care insurance, and it gets more expensive the longer you wait to purchase a policy.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a policy can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $7,500 depending on your situation:
Age 55 (single)
An average cost of insurance for a person in this situation, depending on where they live and their current health condition, can start at $1,764 and go as high as $3,446 per year. However, as you age the value of your policy’s coverage also increases. With an immediate value of $170,000, a policy could reach $418,000 by the time you reach the age of 85.
Age 55 (couple)
Essentially, the price for a couple in this situation would double in cost, rising from $1,764 and going from anywhere between $2,027 and $3,574.
Age 60 (couple)
Depending on the insurance provider, long-term care can cost a 60 year old couple anywhere from $2,700 to $4,204 with an average price of $3,335. You could expect to see a policy value of $708,000 by the time you are 85 years old.
Age 65 (couple)
A couple who waits until they are both at the age of 65 can expect to see long-term care insurance as expensive as $7,129, with an average cost of $4,433. At the age of 85, the value would be estimated at $611,000.
Why is it so expensive?
Simply put, long-term care insurance is costly because providing it can be risky for an insurer. Predicting the complexity and the duration of care for an insured individual is extremely difficult. On average, someone who lives in a private room in a nursing home pays $253 a day, averaging $92, 345 a year.
When should I buy?
If long-term care insurance is a good option for you, it’s best to sign up for it by the time you are 60 years old. This way, coverage for your care is there when you need it, and premiums are generally lower the younger you buy. However, if you never medically qualify for care, you do not get reimbursed.

Alternatives to Long-Term Care

If you decide that long-term care insurance isn’t a good fit for you, there are some senior healthcare alternatives available that could give you the coverage you’re looking for. You might consider these other options to help inform your decision-making process:
• Whole life insurance policies with a chronic illness rider are becoming more popular amongst older adults. With this option, if you do need long-term care insurance, you can use your death benefit to cover your expenses, tax free. If you don’t need to cash in on long-term care, your beneficiaries can receive your benefit at the time of your death.

Critical care or critical illness insurance offers lump-sum payments to people who are diagnosed with life-altering illnesses such as cancer or who suffer a heart-attack or stroke. However, you should do your research before buying this type of senior healthcare coverage to see how long your coverage lasts and how much it will cover.

• Most short-term care insurance plans will cover long-term care for a specified amount of time, usually between 180 and 360 days. This is great for people who are predicted to recover from their illness or disease. This will decrease the cost of your premium since there is a fixed amount of time you can receive long-term care.

Navigating the Cost of Senior Care with Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating healthcare for your later years can be difficult no matter your circumstance. Remember that if you currently have a long-term care insurance policy, they are all different. At Maplewood Senior Living, we understand the complexity of these decisions, and offer our support in many different ways. We are happy to review your policy with you and help determine what is covered for assisted living. If you’re interested in learning more about your options, please don’t hesitate to call us or schedule a tour.

Medicare Open Enrollment for Senior Living

Learn more about Medicare enrollment how the coverage can help seniors cover medical costs.

Many older adults do their best to financially plan for their retirement. However, senior care is enough to break any budget, especially when unexpected illnesses are involved. That’s why many adults choose to take advantage of Medicare coverage, a national, government-funded health insurance that’s available to adults aged 65 and older.
Medicare coverage allows adults to reduce their risk of high out-of-pocket costs by taking advantage of free preventative services while shopping around for what best suits their needs. With open-enrollment right around the corner (October 15th through December 7th), it’s important to do your research before choosing a Medicare enrollment plan.

What Do I Need to Know about Medicare Coverage?

Depending on the plan and the parts of Medicare you are signing up for, the enrollment periods can be different. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have a wide variety of resources available on their website. Here’s what they say about the different Medicare enrollment periods.

Initial Medicare Enrollment
This period is for enrollment of parts A and B (see below). Adults are eligible to enroll three months before the month of their 65th birthday and three months after. However, those who are already taking their Social Security benefits are automatically enrolled in parts A and B.

General Medicare Enrollment
Don’t worry if you miss out on initial enrollment. General enrollment for parts A and B allow adults to enroll from January 1 to March 31 each year. However, just be aware that the longer you wait, the more you have to pay in premiums. It’s possible that your premiums can increase by 10% or more the longer you wait to enroll.

Annual Medicare Open Enrollment
If you are joining plans or changing parts C and D, you can do so between October 15 and December 7 of each year. This is great for adults whose healthcare needs have changed.

Four Main Parts of Medicare Coverage

There are four main parts that make up a Medicare coverage plan. Within each part there are different options that meet various needs. Adults who are eligible for Medicare are allowed to choose any combination of these plans depending on the coverage they need.
• Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, and home health care. If you’ve paid Medicare payroll taxes for at least 10 years, the cost for this coverage is free, plus deductible.
• Part B includes doctor visits, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventative care. A monthly premium is calculated depending on your yearly earnings, plus a deductible, copay, and coinsurance.
• Part D adds prescription drug coverage to your plan of choice. The cost for Part D includes your monthly premium, deductible, copay, and coinsurance.
• Part C is called Medicare Advantage, which is offered through private insurance companies. You might think of this as an all in one plan that usually bundles parts A, B, and D.

Tips for Enrolling in Medicare

Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or have been covered by Medicare for years, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your plan each autumn season before open enrollment. As you consider your needs for the upcoming year, keep these tips in mind.

Check Changes
Part D, which covers prescription drugs, can change from year to year. This means that medications that were covered previously, might not be covered by your plan the next year. You might consider checking to see if all of your medications will be covered in the coming year. If they aren’t, you can make changes on the Medicare website.

Request Pharmacy Pricing
In our current economic and political climate, pharmacies and the cost of medications can be unpredictable. In order to get the best prices for your medications, you have to do your research. The Medicare website allows you to search your specific prescriptions and pharmacy options.

Purchase a Supplemental Policy
Not all of your medical needs will be covered by Medicare. Many older adults choose to purchase a Medigap supplemental plan to cover the difference. These supplemental plans can cover anything from hearing aids and vision care to international coverage.

Medicare Coverage Advantage Plan
Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and offer comprehensive health coverage. These plans are especially helpful as you age and your healthcare needs begin to increase. They offer greater benefits such as hospital care, dental, hearing, and drug coverage.

Things to Consider About Medicare Coverage

Choosing your Medicare coverage can be a lot to dissect. However, doing your research and thinking about your needs will help you in the long run. Consider using the items below to inform your decision-making process.
Cost- The cost of healthcare coverage can add up quickly. While you’re evaluating your coverage, pay close attention to the cost of each element such as your hospital stays, yearly limits, premiums, and deductibles.

Coverage– Make sure your plan will cover the services you know you will need like medical services and supplies.

Prescription Drugs– If you take medications, you should consider Medicare Part D closely. It can be helpful to ask questions such like, is there a penalty if you join a drug plan after enrollment? What’s your plan’s rating? What are the cost of your prescriptions?

Doctor and Hospitals– If you feel strongly about keeping the same doctors or visiting the same facilities, make sure they are covered by your potential plans. Many plans have restrictions and preferred care providers.

Quality of Care– If you weren’t satisfied with the quality of your care in previous years, you should consider changing plans. If you’re new to Medicare, you can search plan ratings from people with the same coverage.

Travel– If you frequently travel out of the country and need healthcare coverage, a Medicare Advantage might be a good fit. The Original Medicare plans do not cover international travel.

Navigating Your Journey at Maplewood Senior Living

Healthcare coverage is an expensive part of aging. However, Medicare coverage was designed to carry some of the burden so older adults have access to the care and services they need. At Maplewood Senior Living, we know aging can be a challenging journey. We are here for our residents and their families as they face these complex transitions and navigate the costs associated with senior living. To learn more about our communities, don’t hesitate to contact us.Learn more about Medicare enrollment how the coverage can help seniors cover medical costs.

Is it Normal Aging? Knowing the Signs of Dementia

Group of seniors with dementia and caregiver playing with puzzle in retirement home

Our bodies go through a lot of changes as we age. Many people notice changes in their physical capabilities, appearances, and even their cognitive abilities as they age. But, not all of these changes are things to worry about. As we get older, we might experience forgetfulness or minor memory loss and mistake them for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Before you worry about these memory diseases, you should be aware of the normal signs of aging and the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Typical Age-Related Changes and Memory Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of aging can actually start as young as 30 years old. The CDC published a list of ways aging can show up in our bodies.

Bones
Our bodies go through a lot of wear and tear throughout our lifetimes. It’s no surprise that our bones shrink, making them more fragile as we get older. The cartilage that protects our joints from rubbing together can start to wear down, causing pain and stiffness.

Heart and Blood Vessels
The arteries and blood vessels that pump blood to our hearts can stiffen with old age, causing our hearts to work harder. This means that physical activities like walking or climbing stairs can become much more difficult.

Muscles
According to the CDC, our muscles mass actually decreases 3-5% every decade after we reach the age of 30. This will cause the muscles to become less toned, and less able to contract and become more rigid.

Bladder and Bowels
Our bladder and bowel’s ability to stretch and then go back can decrease after time. This can cause more trips to the restroom, constipation, and leakage.

Skin
As we age, our skin can lose its elasticity, causing wrinkles and loose skin. A loss of elasticity can also make the skin more prone to bruising, scrapes, and cuts.

Vision
Aging can cause the lens in our eyes to harden, causing far-sightedness and cataracts. Cataracts can cause blurry vision and even blindness. If you sense any changes in your vision, make sure to consult your doctor right away.

Forgetfulness
It’s normal to experience forgetfulness and mild memory loss with aging, especially as our brain’s processing becomes slower. It’s not uncommon to forget appointments, when bills are due, or where you’ve put your eyeglasses. However, there is a difference between the symptoms of normal aging and the signs of dementia.

Common Signs of Dementia

Dementia is an overall term given to diseases and conditions involving severe memory loss. While forgetfulness is an expected part of aging, it can often be confused with the symptoms of dementia related diseases. If you’re having trouble differentiating between age-related forgetfulness and dementia, the NIA has published a list of warning signs.

Normal Aging Memory Loss:

  • Sporadic errors in decision-making
  • Occasionally missing payments on a bill
  • Forgetting which day it is
  • Misplacing common items such as keys or glasses

Signs of Dementia:

  • Making poor judgments most of the time
  • Forgetting to pay bills all of the time
  • Forgetting which day it is and being unable to recall it
  • Trouble with communicating needs or wants
  • Misplacing things and forgetting about them

Factors Influencing Memory Loss

While many older adults are affected by dementia, it’s not the only reason for changes in memory. In fact, memory loss can be attributed to a number of different factors.

Medical
Issues with blood flow, such as tumors and blood clots, can cause infections in the brain. Complications with medications, especially when consuming more than one type, can cause memory loss and confusion.

Emotional
We all go through trying times. But, it’s not uncommon to forget the affect they can have on our physical and mental states. Anxiety, depression, and stress can make us feel more forgetful. These symptoms can mirror those that come with dementia.

Genetics
While dementia and Alzheimer’s can be difficult to predict, researchers suggest that those who have a family history of memory disease are at a higher risk of developing a form of dementia themselves.

Cholesterol
High levels of cholesterol could increase your chances of developing dementia. Researchers suggest eating a balanced diet and discussing your heart-health with your healthcare provider.

Symptoms to Watch For

While the severity of dementia can vary in each person, there are some common symptoms that present themselves in dementia patients. The University of California San Francisco published a list of the most common dementia symptoms:

  • Getting lost even in familiar places
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Changes in personality
  • Inability to express feelings and emotions
  • Change in ability to comprehend
  • Forgetting recent events
  • Change in diet and appetite

Approaching a Loved One About Their Symptoms

Starting a conversation with a loved one about their signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult. If your loved one is showing patterns of behavioral change, knowing how they will react to the conversation can be hard to predict. You might consider some following these tips to help guide your conversation:

Plan how you will start the conversation
Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. You might consider starting with, “I’ve noticed some changes in your behavior and I was wondering if you noticed anything too?”

Start the conversation early
You should have this conversation when you start noticing obvious behavioral changes. Approaching this conversation when your loved one’s cognitive function is at its highest will help you make decisions according to your loved one’s wishes.

Know who should be there
If your loved one is especially close with a family member or friend, you might consider asking them to be a part of the conversation.

Offer your support
This can be a scary time for the whole family. Offering your love and support to your loved one can go a long way.

Finding Support in Your Journey at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating the complexities of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss can be really scary. If you’re still unsure if you’re experiencing the signs of dementia, check out our tip sheet. Our staff and caregivers at all of our Maplewood Senior Living communities strive to give our residents and their families the care and support they need. To learn more about our communities and our wide variety of offerings, schedule a tour or contact us here.

How to Keep Your Mind Sharp as You Age

Learn useful tips for how to keep your mind sharp as you age.

It’s no surprise that as we age our brains change. We all lose our keys or forget appointments, but as we age these moments of forgetfulness can become a health concern. Our brains help us make sense of the world, connect to others, remember, learn, and create. As we age, it’s important to give our brains what they need to remain healthy and sharp.

Changing Brain

According to the National Institute on Aging, our brains control many aspects of thinking, remembering, planning, organizing and making decisions. As we get older parts of our brain can actually shrink, causing delays in our ability to learn and complete complex mental activities. However, our brains can change in positive ways as well. Our lifetime of experiences help us to learn new things and give us the opportunity to create new memories. As we age, it’s important to understand how to care for our brains and what puts them at risk.

 

How to Keep Your Mind Sharp: Risks to Cognitive Health

While some aspects of brain health are related to genetics, there are other environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence our cognitive function as well. The National Institute on Aging has provided a list of the most common factors that can contribute to a decline in our cognitive health:

Health problems

Those at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure increase their chances of experiencing a stroke, which can put you at risk for developing dementia. Memory diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia can lead to memory loss and thinking complications. While these conditions can be genetic, eating a heart-healthy diet can help protect your brain.

Brain injuries

It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience a fall-related injury. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans aged 65 and older fall each year. These accidents can put you at risk for developing a brain-related injury or head trauma. If you are at risk of falling, make sure to fall-proof your home, especially in tight spaces such as the hallway.

Medicine

Some medications, especially when you take several different prescriptions, can cause side-effects such as confusion, memory loss, and delusion. Medications can also cause you to develop a Urinary Tract Infection, which, if gone untreated, can cause confusion and disorientation. Always make sure your doctor knows which medications you are consuming, especially if you see multiple healthcare providers.

Lifestyle

Our lifestyle choices can have a dramatic effect on our cognitive health, especially as we age. Lack of exercise can increase the risk of heart-related diseases, depression, and stroke, all of which can negatively affect the brain. Brain health is closely related to our heart health. This means that smoking, consuming a diet high in fat and sodium, and consuming too much alcohol put stress on your heart, which can ultimately affect your cognitive health.

 

How to Keep Your Mind Sharp: Tips for Mental Fitness

Keeping our brains healthy is just as important as keeping our bodies active. Choosing to work on your mental fitness each day will improve your quality of life, especially as you age. These tips, published by the Harvard Medical School and Healthline, will help protect and improve your memory at any age.

  • Learn with your senses. Studies show that when we intentionally use all of our senses while learning something new, we’re more likely to remember it in the long-term. This requires you to slow down, and take note of the environment around you. Ask yourself, what do I hear? What do I smell, touch, and taste? When we pair a memory with one of our senses, our chances of recalling other details are much higher.
  • Stop multitasking. We might all think we’re great at multitasking. But, the truth is multitasking is impossible! Focus on one task at a time and use full concentration.
  • Trick your brain into working. There are a variety of games available that practice using different parts of the brain such as crossword puzzles, board games, and Sudoku. These games build your brain muscles, allowing you to learn new tasks, and increase your attention span and reaction time.
  • Read! Whether you choose to read a magazine article or a romance novel, reading constantly demands your brain’s attention. Reading forces us to use our imaginations, process words and sentences, and spark different parts of the brain.
  • Improve your sleep habits. Getting a full night’s rest can actually improve your brain function. Sleep is essential for consolidating memories and improving cognitive functions.
  • Stay positive. Your cognitive health starts with positive self-talk. Giving yourself daily affirmations can actually strengthen your neural pathways. Acknowledge your good qualities and be gentle with yourself!

We spend a lot of time talking about ways to keep our bodies healthy, but our brains deserve some attention too. At Maplewood Senior Communities, we encourage our residents to keep their minds sharp by trying new things. Whether it’s through technology or music, our residents always have the opportunity to learn. To learn more about our offerings at Maplewood communities, please reach out to us.

Foods That Fight Aging

It’s no surprise that the process of aging changes our bodies in a variety of ways, some of which we can see and others we cannot. However, what most people don’t know, is that as we age our dietary needs change as well. Because of this, many older adults accidentally put themselves at risk of becoming malnourished. Consuming a well-balanced diet helps strengthen the immune system, and ultimately allows our bodies to fight off diseases and illnesses. When we under-nourish our bodies, we can negatively affect its ability to protect us. Understanding what our bodies need can ultimately keep us out of the hospital, and live healthier, longer lives.

How do our Needs and Habits Change?

 Calories and Appetite

It is not uncommon for older adults to eat less as they age. Most older adults might not be as physically active as they were in their younger years, which means they don’t necessarily need to eat as much as they once did. However, undereating can cause a wide variety of health problems.

Food sensitivities can also affect a person’s appetite, making it difficult to consume the appropriate amount of food each day. Some older adults might experience food sensitivities especially to foods like onions, peppers, dairy, and hot spices. If these are causing discomfort or pain after eating, they might need to be eliminated from your diet.

Nutrition Absorption

Even while monitoring your food and nutrition, medications can interfere with the nutrients your body is able to absorb. If you are taking a variety of medications, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about supplements you can add to your diet.

Immune System

Unfortunately, as we age our immune systems can weaken, making our bodies more vulnerable to illness and disease. However, we can strengthen our immune systems by consuming different types of food and nutrients.

Continue reading “Foods That Fight Aging”

Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s

What You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Disease

The month of September is designated as World’s Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just a national problem, it’s a global issue that affects nearly 44 million people worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a memory disease, under the umbrella of dementia, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. As symptoms worsen, Alzheimer’s can ultimately affect a person’s ability to complete basic human tasks like speaking and eating.  The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to rapidly increase in the next 30 years— from 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today to 14 million by 2050. As the threat of the Alzheimer’s epidemic increases, so do campaigns that spread awareness and raise funds devoted to finding a cure. The first step in spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s is to educate people on the causes of the disease.

Contributing Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

While it would be impossible to identify just one cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers and scientists do believe there are a few leading causes of the disease. Some of the causes and factors can’t necessarily be changed, but some of them, like lifestyle and environment, can help inform our daily lives and decrease our chances of being diagnosed. Listed below are the associated causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Age

While most people with Alzheimer’s get diagnosed after the age of 65, 10% of patients are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s between the ages of 30 and 60. Age isn’t directly correlated with the disease, however the risk of being diagnosed doubles every five years after the age of 65.

Family History and Genetics

Adults who have immediate family members with Alzheimer’s disease are more at risk for being diagnosed than compared with families without a history of the disease. Researchers and scientists believe that the risk increases with each family member who has the disease. The reason behind this can possibly be attributed to genetics and environment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, researchers haven’t identified a specific gene known to cause the disease. However, many experts believe that those who carry a form of the APOE gene are more at risk of developing the disease than those who do not.

Environment and Lifestyle

Those who study Alzheimer’s believe there is a connection between the brain and the heart, which can ultimately influence the risk of developing the disease. This means that those who experience high-blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, or heart disease should be aware of the symptoms of the disease and consult with their healthcare provider. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising daily will decrease your risk of heart disease, ultimately decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Brain health is also a factor when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s. Falls and brain trauma are also known to be underlying factors to the disease. Protecting your brain by wearing your seatbelt and decluttering your home to decrease your risk of falling, can help protect you from Alzheimer’s dementia.

Continue reading “Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s”