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.

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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.

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Sparking Creativity

Each year, with the help of the National Center for Assisted Living, we dedicate one week to celebrate the people and residents who make assisted living special. This year’s theme, “A Spark of Creativity” invites us to explore the role of art in senior communities and the way it encourages communication and self-expression. While there are many different forms of creativity, one of the most common amongst the senior population is art therapy. This type of therapy uses art as a way to address specific conditions, like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, while gaining healing benefits. As art therapy gains popularity within senior living communities, research suggests that there are benefits for many older adults, not only those who are diagnosed with memory disorders.

Benefits of Art therapy for Older Adults

 Serves as an alternative method of communication

 As adults age, nearly 40% will be diagnosed with an age related memory impairment. When memory impairment worsens, many adults will experience a loss of language or difficulty in recalling words and building sentences. This can make communicating with family and loved ones extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. However, art therapy gives these older adults an alternative way to communicate. The techniques used in art therapy stem from parts of the brain that language and communication do not. Not only does this enable self-expression, but it also enables families to connect to their loved one in new ways.

Improves mood

As we age, we can experience a number of changes in our physical abilities. While many older adults experience a loss of memory, others experience a loss of hearing, low vision, or other physical handicaps that can take away one’s autonomy. Oftentimes, this loss of independence can lead to feelings of depression. Art therapy, however, encourages socialization, reduces boredom and leaves older adults feeling accomplished and proud. As an added bonus, many adults find they have true artistic talent!

Advances cognitive abilities

Many older adults, even those who don’t suffer from memory disorders, lose some of their cognitive abilities as they age. Art therapy, while known for its psychological benefits, can actually improve cognition after time. Many art therapy techniques use sensory items, like holding a paintbrush, or squeezing clay, to complete art projects. These repeated movements can encourage the body to remember basic movements and improve their function.

A way to rediscover yourself

Regardless of memory loss or physical handicaps, the foundation of art therapy encourages older adults to connect to their emotions in ways they haven’t already pursued. By using a different part of the brain, art therapy students are able to express their emotions not only through their completed project, but also within the process. Art therapy goes beyond physical artwork and dives into the importance of self-autonomy. As adults lose their independence, art therapy reinforces their individuality by connecting with their emotions and expressing them though art and motion.

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Live-In Home Care Vs. Assisted Living

We have addressed a number of care levels available to seniors in our recent articles – independent living, assisted living, and private duty caregiving. However, to this point, we’ve not yet mentioned “Live-in Home Care.

Live-in home care is a unique care situation where an agency will provide a person to “live” with your loved one. Of course the appeal with any ‘in-home care’ is that the senior is able to remain in their own home, which is something that appeals to a vast majority of seniors. There are also many things to consider with regard to your loved one’s healthcare needs, and if remaining in their home, even with someone living with them, is the best option. Keep in mind, there are usually quite a few ‘rules’ with agencies who provide ‘live-in’ aides. Some of these include: the caregiver must be able to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours per day, they must be able to have a ‘day off’ every so many days, they must be provided a private area in your loved one’s home where they are able to sleep, dress, etc. There may be other rules involved, but this can vary from one home care provider to the next. You’ll also want to inquire as to how you will be billed for this service.

It is also important to ask key questions before bringing a private duty caregiver into your loved one’s home. Do they background check and drug test their aides? Are the aides bonded and insured by the agency? Are they trained in first aid? How long have they worked for the agency? Can they provide names/contact information of families that have used the service in the past? What is the plan if the aide that is living with your loved one becomes ill and can’t work? What happens if the aide gets injured while on your loved one’s property?  Not all states require home care agencies to obtain a license to go in to business, therefore it is important to do your research before hiring this type of service.

Comparing this level of care to assisted living, where you have access to multiple aides around the clock, many of these single-aide concerns go away. And assisted living guidelines require the aforementioned items such as: drug tests, background checks, worker’s compensation to be submitted/provided to all employees.

If you’re considering either one of these levels of care, we would encourage you to read the following article, with advice from our Maplewood Senior Living Medical Director, Dr. Susann Varano. Also weighing in on this subject is Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh, Chief Experience and Memory Care Officer at Inspīr, the newest Maplewood Senior Living project, which is underway in Manhattan.

Click here to read the article in US World and News Report by Elaine K. Howeley.

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Long Distance Caregiving

You may not have anticipated becoming a long-distance caregiver, but if you are helping a loved one that lives more than an hour away, it is a reality. It can be challenging to know how best to help but don’t panic; there are some steps you can take that will make things easier now and down the road.

Make a Plan

This may seem obvious, but it’s an important first step to take, while everyone is cognitively aware. If you are the caregiver for a parent, ask questions now about their healthcare, medications, doctors and any other information that you might need to assist with later on. Take the time to understand and document any desires they may have for today and for future care. Health situations can change quickly, so having your loved one’s details and wishes documented will relieve stress and make decision-making easier.

Get Help

Although an hour may seem like a long distance for some, the reality is that many adult children are acting as caregivers across states. If so, is it imperative to drop everything and jump on a plane to take care of your loved one? Not necessarily. Sometimes leaving your own family and job may not be feasible, even though you want to make sure your parent or family member is being well cared for. If that is your situation, consider hiring a geriatric care manager.

What is a geriatric care manager?

The National Institute on Aging defines a geriatric care manager this way, “A geriatric care manager, usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics, is a sort of “professional relative” who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.” Simply put, these professionals can help stand-in for your parent even when you’re not there. Whether helping with complex medical concerns or assessing daily physical and emotional needs, these individuals can care for your loved ones and help you stay connected. They also allow loved ones to maintain independence.

 How Can I Find One?

To find a geriatric care manager, reach out to local senior organizations near where your loved one is living and ask for recommendations. You can also check online at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx.

Consider Assisted Living

If your loved one needs more dedicated care, you can begin the process of choosing an assisted living community even if you’re not close by. While a visit may be necessary at some point, there are a lot of things you can do to begin the process. Before starting your search, understand your budget, and assess the financial feasibility for any community.

Once costs have been determined, narrow the options down from your initial three to five picks. It’s equally important that care needs are considered along with budget. This can be difficult to do if you are unsure of your parent’s current health considerations and is another area where a geriatric care manager is helpful.

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Fit & Fabulous

Most of us know by now that exercise and diet are essential for overall wellness. And that doesn’t lessen as we age. In fact, what we now know is that maintaining an exercise routine well past our prime can play a significant role in staying healthy and active longer.

Research suggests benefits of exercise for those with Dementia

According to recent studies on Alzheimer’s and dementia, exercise might do more than we think. Evidence suggests that biochemical changes, created by exercise, can “fertilize” our brain and mend nerve cell health. Although additional research is needed, prioritizing exercise and nutrition in our communities clearly improves the quality of life for all residents, including those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. At Maplewood Senior Living, our focus is on helping residents enjoy a high quality of life which includes staying active and independent.

Along with the attention given to cognitive health, ensuring we maintain balance and strength is essential. When these two components work together, seniors can better avoid falls that may occur from tripping or loss of balance. If a fall were to occur, strength is the best defense against potential injury.

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