Why You Should Consider Assisted Living

There are nearly 12 million Americans over the age of 65 who live alone, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. While living independently certainly has its benefits, it can often become a point of concern for family members, especially as their loved ones continue to age and lose the ability to completely care for themselves. At some point, many older adults have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living facility. This decision-making process can be challenging and made more complicated when failing health and finances are important factors to consider.

While there are many different options, most older adults typically decide between hiring outside help while staying at home or moving into an assisted living facility. According to U.S. News, senior home care typically includes assistance with daily activities such as eating, taking medication, bathing, cooking and cleaning. The level of assistance depends on one’s overall health and ability to care for themselves. Although assisted living requires moving from home, it also provides additional services such as planned activities, 24-hour care and additional security measures to keep residents safe. When deciding which option is the best, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.
Declining Health Conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities take pressure off of managing these conditions, which allows residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Difficulty Managing Finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This makes paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills or filing taxes properly.
Inability to Care for Oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves or complete basic daily tasks, it’s time to consider assisted living. A lot of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding it can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet and live in a clean environment.
Lack of SocializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Benefits of Assisted Living

While the thought of moving out of your home and into an assisted living community might seem intimidating, the benefits are overwhelming. Instead of thinking about moving as another reminder of aging, you might consider it as an opportunity for something new and exciting. Here are a few benefits of assisted living that you might not have considered:
You Gain Independence– While many people think of assisted living as a way to lose independence, the opposite is true. Instead of relying on a family member or outside party for assistance, all of those daily tasks, like shopping and cooking, are taken care of by staff. This leaves you with plenty of time to discover your interests and renew your hobbies instead of thinking about who will come to help.
More Value for Your Money– Many individuals are afraid to consider moving into an assisted living community because they think they can’t afford it. However, that’s not necessarily true. Many assisted living facilities offer many services under one fee. For example, you might find that meals and activities are included in your monthly fee, where in-home care is usually priced a la carte. While assisted living can be expensive, you might find it to be a better deal based on your needs.
A Safer Living Option– As we age we are more at risk of health emergencies, such as falling. When living alone, these injuries could become life-threatening. However, at assisted living facilities, there is always a staff person or registered nurse available to help, no matter the time of day.
Socialization- Assisted living communities provide a wide variety of activities for their residents. From sing-a-longs to arts and crafts, there’s always an opportunity to learn and socialize with others. Socialization is proven to be beneficial for one’s overall health, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Things to Consider

If you decide it’s the right time for assisted living, there are a few things to keep in mind. As you start touring different communities, they can all start to feel similar. At Maplewood Senior Living , we know what that can feel like. That’s why we have compiled a list of things to consider and questions to ask when looking for an assisted living community:

1. Ask to meet the team. How can a resident or family member get in contact with the management team?
2. Do they have apartments available? What sizes are offered? Is the furniture provided?
3. Ask about the culinary program. Is food prepared from scratch? You might consider asking for a menu or schedule a time to have lunch or dinner on the campus.
4. Are nurses available 24 hours a day?
5. What type of training is provided for the staff?
6. Do they provide call lights, pendants or life alerts? What’s the protocol for responding?
7. Is transportation available for outings, doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping?
8. What accommodations are available when more care is required?
9. What type of programming and cultural enrichment opportunities are available?
10. Ask to speak with a current resident who would be willing to share their experience with you.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living Communities

We know transitioning into assisted living from an independent living situation can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities provide support and transitional care to make the change an easy one. If you’re interested in learning more about our assisted living communities or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Navigating Travel with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Dementia is used to describe a group of medical conditions related to memory loss. While long-term memory loss isn’t a normal part of aging, there are many older adults living with various types of dementia. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. However, with summer approaching, Alzheimer’s and dementia don’t have to stop you from exploring new places or visiting family and friends. In fact, many people living with these diseases continue to travel and even do so alone in certain circumstances. While travel has been severely curtained in recent months throughout the country, you may need to travel for unforseen circumstances. Even a trip to the store, or to visit family may need some preparation and of course, if you need to travel to a new living situation you may need to fly or take a long car trip.  If you are planning to travel with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the best way to  have a safe and enjoyable trip is to be prepared.

Preparing for Your Trip

According to the National Institute on Aging, as dementia progresses, it can impact our, “behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with daily life and normal activities.” Depending on the stage of dementia, traveling will pose different challenges. Your loved one’s ability to communicate, behavioral patterns and mood changes can all be affected by a sudden change in routine or venturing into unfamiliar environments. As you prepare each aspect of your trip, from accommodations to transportation, it’s important to think about your loved one’s needs and abilities.

Evaluating your transportation options

Depending on the nature of your travel, you will have to decide how to get to your destination. When traveling with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, simplicity is key. You might consider minimizing your travel time by taking fewer stops or avoiding airport layovers. Whether you’re traveling by air or by car, there are a few important elements to keep in mind as you prepare your itinerary:

Traveling by Air
The Dementia.org team surveyed caregivers and those diagnosed with dementia to explore their experiences when traveling by air. Those who participated were asked to describe the challenges and surprises they encountered throughout their travels. Here is what they found:

Traveling through airports can be challenging for all people, especially for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, following instructions can become increasingly difficult.
Nearly half of the participants encountered problems with checking in, bag screening, finding the boarding gate and restrooms, hearing announcements and reading information on signboards.

Navigating the security checkpoint was exceptionally difficult for those with severe cognitive impairments, specifically those in the later stages of the disease. While it’s helpful for the person with dementia to travel with a caregiver, oftentimes caregivers are unable to help with security checkpoints such as individual screenings.

All of the participants noted that while there were challenges, traveling by air was possible if both the caregiver and loved one were prepared. The following tips helped ease the traveling process for participants in the study:

• Arriving to the airport early to leave time for unexpected challenges
• Notifying airport staff that you are traveling with a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease before your travel date and at the time of arrival
• Minimizing stressors including hand-held luggage
• Going through security checkpoints behind your companion. If you enter through security in front of your loved one, you won’t be permitted to return to them.
• Seek out quiet spaces of the airport including unused gates or sitting areas. These can be helpful in times of stress and chaos.
• Bring noise canceling headphones to help minimize distractions and agitations.

Traveling by Car
It’s recommended to travel by car when traveling with someone with dementia, especially if your destination can be reached within one travel day. Traveling by car gives the caregiver and loved one more control over their journey. Rest stops, food options and overall environment can mostly be controlled.

If you are in the midst of planning a road trip, remember to plan out your rest stops. Searching for a rest stop can be stressful during an urgent situation. Knowing where you will stop and which rest sites are close by will give you a better sense of control. It can also be helpful to consider how long your traveling day will take you, factoring in your loved one’s behavior and mood.

If your loved one is feeling overwhelmed or agitated, you might consider moving on to your safety plan. As you create your safety plan, make sure to consider where you might stop if something comes up or who you will need to contact in the case of an emergency.

Travel Considerations to Keep in Mind

In general, traveling can be stressful for all people with various ability levels. Once you’ve decided to travel, there are a few simple things you can do lessen the stress and anxiety surrounding the trip:

Start your trip prepared- You want to start preparing and packing for your trip a week or so before the travel date. As you begin packing, make sure to take extra clothing and personal care items with you in the case of an emergency. Get plenty of sleep the night before and bring foods that your loved one enjoys and will eat without hesitation. Lastly, leave yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning before beginning your road trip or heading to the airport.

Write and share your itinerary- Before your trip, write down all of your travel plans, including hotels, and even rest stops you plan to visit. This itinerary should be shared with family and friends who will be available to assist you if needed.

Take important documents with you- In the case of an emergency, you will need to access important documents. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is suggested to take the following essential documents with you while traveling:
• Doctor’s name and contact information
• A list of medications and dosages
• Phone numbers of local police, hospitals and poison control
• Copies of all legal papers including a living will, power of attorney and proof of guardianship
• Name and contact information of emergency contacts
• Insurance cards and information

Be alert to wandering- If your loved one is at risk of wandering, make sure they are wearing an ID bracelet or write their name and your contact information in their clothing.

Dealing with an emergency- If your loved one is prone to outbreaks and aggression, make sure to pay attention to their warning signs. If you are driving when an outbreak takes place, pull over immediately. If you need to calm down someone with dementia, there are proven techniques to help you.

Embracing Summertime Travel at Maplewood Senior Living

Travel doesn’t always have to be a source of tension for you or your loved one. Our staff at Maplewood Senior Living are seasoned professionals who can help you prepare for your trip and provide you with travel tips and tricks. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

How to Support Your Senior Loved One During the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and animals. While coronaviruses have been around for a long time, a new strand of the virus, COVID-19 was detected last December in Wuhan China. While researchers are moving quickly to understand the nuances of this novel Coronavirus, there is still a lot that is unknown. However, the older adult population, those 65 and older, is the most vulnerable to the virus and can become severely ill if contracted. As the virus continues to spread in the United States, we’re learning new information daily. While these uncertain times can be worrisome and challenging, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect our seniors.

Everyday Precautions
While young adults can carry the virus, most are predicted to recover quickly with mild to no symptoms at all. Because of this, it’s important that everyone takes the necessary measures to protect seniors from being exposed to the virus. Here are a few simple, yet effect precautions as advised by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds once every hour or more. It’s advised to use hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol, between washes or when soap and water are unavailable.
• Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
• Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, such as handrails, counter tops, gas pumps and door handles.
• Clean and disinfect your home routinely. Make sure to adequately disinfect highly touched surfaces like tables, light switches, doorknobs, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sink, and cell phones.

How to Prevent Spreading the Virus
Even if you are healthy and asymptomatic, you can still be carrying the virus and putting others at risk. Many communities have cancelled events involving large groups to mitigate the spread of the virus, especially to those with preexisting conditions and vulnerable populations. The CDC recommends the following behaviors:
• Practice social distancing by limiting exposure to the public, especially for older adults. Non-emergency appointments should be postponed.
• While it might be difficult, you should consider limiting contact with seniors and avoid hugging and close contact.
• If you feel sick stay at home, even if you are tempted to go into work or to the store.
• Limit trips to public places like the grocery store. Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand.

What to Do if You Get Sick
It’s important to pay attention to how you feel in the coming weeks. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In addition, seniors might experience difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or bluish lips and face. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and help you get the treatment you need. Because hospitals are likely to be understaffed and overpopulated, you might be sent to recover at home if your case is not severe. However, if you experience any warning signs, act immediately by contacting emergency services.

Our Maplewood Senior Living facilities put our residents’ health first. That’s why we’re taking the appropriate precautions to keep our residents and their families healthy. If you’d like to hear more about our offerings please contact us.

*Note due to COVID-19 we are  doing virtual tours at this time.

Practical Uses of AI and Echo Devices for Seniors

As the baby boomer generation prepares to enter retirement, both the healthcare industry and senior living communities around the nation are beginning to prepare for the dramatic increase in demand of these services. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years or older will increase from 12% to 22% by 2050. This influx in the senior population will demand an increase in healthcare providers and staff, such as caregivers and personal care attendants. Many senior care facilities are already experiencing a demand in healthcare providers exceeding supply by nearly 10%. To reduce the gap in supply, many industry experts are developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that will provide care for seniors in various ways.

Artificial intelligence refers to any theory or development of computer systems designed to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making and speech recognition. Given the increase in adults aged 65 and over, healthcare providers are beginning to utilize AI technologies to track patient information, diagnose diseases, and help treat patients more efficiently. Forbes magazine recently investigated new AI technologies that are being utilized by the healthcare industry for the treatment and care of the elderly. Here are a few ways AI is beginning to change the way we care for seniors.

AI Uses in Healthcare

Home Health Monitoring– New developments in AI are allowing patients to receive care from healthcare providers without making a trip to the doctor’s office. Companies like Careangel are making this possible by offering virtual doctor’s visits through voice-based virtual assistants. In addition, wearable devices can detect changes in activity and behavior patterns that could forecast a health issue to be addressed early. IBM researchers are developing technologies that mirror the care of a private nurse through movement sensors in hallways, flush detectors in toilets, and bed sensors for sleep monitoring.

Smart device assisted fall detection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. To combat this issue, AI devices are being developed to detect falls and fall risks. Starkey has developed a fall detector within its hearing aid, while other companies are developing sensors within smart phone devices that will detect falls and alert emergency services.

Virtual Companions

As baby boomers age, most will require additional care. With the demand of healthcare providers exceeding supply, AI is being developed to close the gap. Robotic helpers will be able to provide daily assistance and companionship. Some robots, like Catalina Health’s Mabu, are conversational robots that can collect data to help with diagnosis and treatment. Intuition Robotics have developed ElliQ, which can hold conversations while also reminding patients to take their medications and lead physical activities to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

Anti-aging research

Not only will AI technologies work to meet the needs of seniors, but it will also allow researchers and scientists to collect data needed for the development of anti-aging products. AI is assisting with research being conducted about the biological process of aging and how the food we eat impacts our ability to age well.

While artificial intelligence is being used by healthcare industry professionals and researchers to help change the process of aging, it’s also being widely utilized in the home. Virtual personal assistants, like Amazon’s Echo, are becoming increasingly popular for older adults because of their many benefits from physical health to entertainment.

Practical Uses of Echo Devices

While new technology can be intimidating for some, many older adults are starting to rely on virtual personal assistants to help complete basic daily tasks. These devices are user friendly and especially helpful for seniors with low vision or hearing loss. From checking the weather to reminding you to take medication, Amazon’s Echo can help ease the aging process in many ways.

Play music

Recent research suggests that listening to music can actually improve brain-processing speed in older adults. Additional research suggests that music can help provoke memories for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Now, with virtual personal assistants becoming a common household item, music can be played just by giving your device a simple command.

Keep track of lists

Managing daily tasks can be difficult for anyone, especially for those experiencing age-related memory loss. The Amazon Echo makes creating a to-do list simple and organized. The Echo has the ability to categorize different lists, such as a grocery list or a to-do list. You can recall, edit, or mark completed items on your list by giving your device a command.

Alert emergency services

Your virtual personal assistance can be connected to your smart phone and enabled to make phone calls by accessing your contacts. The Ask My Buddy skill allows your phone to send alerts to chosen contacts on command. In the event of a fall or injury and without access to your cell phone, you can command your Echo to call your specified “buddies.” Echo can’t make direct 911 calls, but with the help of an additional device, Echo Connect, your virtual personal assistant will be able to contact emergency services directly.

Manage your calendar

The Echo gives you the ability to organize your week and day by managing your calendar. You can add appointments and activities to your calendar by giving a simple command like, “Add an event to my calendar.” Your device also has the ability to remind you what is on your schedule for the day.

Set reminders

You can use your Echo to set medication reminders, which can be helpful if you have trouble remembering to take them or if you have several medications. You can choose which day and time to receive your alert. In addition, you can program other alerts into your device, such as feeding your dog or watering your plants.

Entertainment

Your echo isn’t only for practical everyday use, it can also be used for fun. You can play trivia games and stream audiobooks and podcasts. Echo can even guide you in simple exercises by adding skills such as EngAGE or 7-minute Workout.

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know the great benefits that can come with utilizing innovative technology. Virtual personal assistants can be set up for residents to learn about upcoming activities, play music, ask questions, and seek help when needed. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.