For seniors in delicate health, forgetting to take medication or taking it improperly can have more dire consequences than one might think. The federal government estimates that 10% of hospital admissions are due to taking medication incorrectly, and over 125,000 people die each year as a result of this problem. Almost a quarter of nursing home admissions might be due to seniors having trouble with taking their medication. Unfortunately, this is an alarmingly common problem, with over half of all seniors taking medication incorrectly. Half of those, in turn, make the kind of mistakes that could have serious ramifications! When we consider this information in light of the challenges of seniors with dementia, it’s clear that this is a problem caregivers and family members need to be alert about. There are many devices and solutions available to help keep loved ones on track. One simple remedy is buying a pill dispenser or a similar device. Your local drug store probably carries basic versions that will both organize pills and sound some kind of alarm or another reminder. There are also more elaborate and expensive systems that might, for example, call a designated caregiver if the senior has missed a dose. There are even smartphone apps for this issue. Drug companies themselves are also trying to help, with phone calls to seniors who are taking their products. However, studies have shown that these methods don’t solve the problem. Sometimes this is because the devices are too complicated for seniors to use, or because they are not equipped to handle the typical senior’s complex medication regimen. And these systems often require input from a senior who may no longer be organized or independent enough to do what’s needed. Even if a loved one sets up the system initially, snafus like dead batteries or a malfunction could cause that effort to be useless. For this reason, the best solution is to have a family member or other caregiver help the seniors with managing their prescriptions. A human helper can also address when forgetfulness is not the issue so much as unwillingness or lack of understanding about why a particular medication is important. This can be a particular concern for dementia sufferers who are determined to hang on to control and demonstrate their independence. Ideally, there would be some kind of gadget or gizmo to make this problem go away, but this is one issue that requires a human touch.
A study in ‘The Gerontologist’ states that, “approximately one-third of 65-year-olds are single.” That’s a 50% increase since 1980 according to the U.S. Census. Aging with family and friends has been shown to result in improved health of seniors, including lower chances of cognitive impairment, and hospitalization. Research shows that socialization, companionship and hobby-building has great benefits for seniors: older adults who are surrounded by others are at a decreased risk of both cardiovascular and cognitive decline. For some seniors, moving into an Assisted Living Community is the first step they can take to help maintain or increase the quality of life as they grow older. In reputable communities, experts in the field of long-term care help coordinate between activities to create communities where older adults are able to create new memories with one another. Residents take on scheduled group hobbies such as yoga, cooking, and artistry while pursing passions both new and old. Assisted Living Communities can act as a hub for seniors to connect and make new friends. Our advice for making friends in a community? Participate and try out all the opportunities that are available. The goal is to foster an natural feeling of community with residents similar in age and circumstances.
seniors who want to go homeThere are many seniors who make the transition to assisted living or memory care comfortably. But unfortunately, due to the nature of the disease, sometimes loved ones are faced with an uncomfortable request: “I want to go home.” Such a plea is heartbreaking, and when you hear it every time you visit it can leave you quite distressed. The first thing to know is that when your loved one says “home,” they probably don’t mean their previous residence. Remember that due to Alzheimer’s and dementia, they’re living in their earlier years. Home is most likely their childhood home, and that place and the people they lived with may be long gone. So before you beat yourself up with guilt, know that they are requesting something impossible that you couldn’t give them no matter how hard you tried. The best way to deal with this request is with gentleness and a little bit of subterfuge. This is one of those moments where enabling your loved one’s denial may be the better course. Avoid correcting or arguing with your loved one, as this will only cause distress without really aiding them in recognizing the truth. First, use positive body language such as nodding your head. Then try to change the subject. Look for something interesting going on in the immediate environment. Maybe there’s a bird outside the window, or a colorful painting nearby. Point this out to them and shift the conversation. It may also be helpful if you can move them physically: guide them to the object of interest or turn them to face a different direction. You are trying to get them out of an unproductive rut. From there, seguey into your loved one’s memories. Get them to talk about what “home” was. This will help them pay this cherished place a visit, if only in their minds. A photo album might be helpful here if you have one. Your discussion may give you some clues about how you can bring home to them in their new living space. Perhaps there are beloved objects or furniture that will help their new surroundings feel more familiar. Your loved one will likely not completely stop talking about home, and you’ll likely continue to feel the pangs of heartbreak. However, some knowledge about where the request is coming from can help you accept it. This is a case where you may not be able to change external circumstances, but you can change how you react to them.
convince parent to move to memory careMaking the decision to enter memory care is difficult for seniors, and it’s a process to get them to accept that this is the right choice. They of course want to remain on their own as long as possible. A big decision like this can’t be forced. Your best chances of success lie in helping your parent own the decision, so that they have the feeling that this is something they’re choosing for themselves. Here’s a step-by-step plan for how to get your parent to accept a move to memory care. 1. Help mom or dad begin to get used to the idea. Identify problems that would be solved by a move to memory care and how that move would improve quality of life. For example: “You know, mom, you wouldn’t have to worry about hiring someone to take care of the lawn if you were in memory care.” Or, “Dad, wouldn’t it be nice if you lived somewhere with people your own age around?” 2. Offer to help them tour some nearby memory care facilities on a no-strings-attached basis. Try to seek out activity times when they can notice the residents having fun. However, it may still be too soon for them. Be prepared to just drop it if they show resistance to the idea. 3. Help them see the signs that it’s the right time for this sort of care by connecting this need to things that happen. For example, when mom leaves the stove on, gently but tactfully use the opportunity to point out that both of you would be less worried about these incidents if she were in memory care. Be careful not to be too pushy here, unless there really is a crisis brewing that would necessitate moving quickly. 4. See if anyone your parent knows has made a move to memory care, assisted living, or a similar facility who is happy with their choice. Or see if the relatives of any of your own friends are enjoying senior living. Take your parent to visit that person, or at least set up a phone call. This will help make the idea more real to them, and may make moving to the same facility more appealing. Even having one friend in a new place can help. 5. When you go on tours, point out all the positive aspects of the facility. Be as excited as you would be about renting a new apartment or buying a new home: focus on the possibilities. Would mom’s favorite antique chair look good in the rooms of a particular facility? Does the activity room have a piano so that dad could still play? Once you’ve gone through this process, wait for all that you have seen and discussed to sink in. Don’t expect that they’ll have that “Aha!” moment right away: unfortunately, it often takes some sort of accident or crisis for a move to seem necessary. They are making a huge life decision, and that needs to be respected. If you are feeling the need to move your parent along in this process, however, the most effective argument would be to say that you and other family members would have much greater peace of mind if they were in a memory care facility. Remind them how much their safety means to you. This will hopefully help them to see the importance of making the move.
Stigma against Alzheimer's prevents seniors from getting diagnosed.An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be isolating, both for the person with the illness and for their caregivers. Illness can often create distance between those who were once close, and the nature of Alzheimer’s disease compounds the problem. Others are unsure if the person will remember them or if they’ll behave inappropriately. Still others may remain in the person’s life, but not acknowledge the disease at all, and thus leave a big silence about a major life event. Many people who suspect they have Alzheimer’s avoid an official diagnosis because they fear the effects on their social world and the painful feelings of rejection and loneliness that would come with it. However, it is vital that patients get a diagnosis so that they can receive proper care. If someone close to you is going through this important turning point, here’s how you can help. Listen before judging. A time like this is ripe for family conflict. Should the person get diagnosed and when? If they do have Alzheimer’s, how will the family plan for the future? It may be that the Alzheimer’s patient has disagreements with the rest of the family, or people within the family are fighting among each other. You will have your own opinion on the issues at hand, but make sure you’re hearing out the other side and giving their point of view fair and compassionate consideration. Hold back on stating your viewpoint and ask others for theirs first, to make sure they have a chance to give input. A third-party mediator may be able to help if you worry that conflict will get out of control. Be supportive. One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to help them think through all the choices they have to make at this time. This may require you to keep your own emotions in check at a time when you might be feeling a lot of fear, so it may not be easy. Keep in mind that your loved one will likely be afraid of seeming to be needy or a worry-wart. Encourage them to talk through their concerns rather than keeping them private. Stay calm. At this time it’s very important to be patient, and not all of us count this as one of our strengths. But keeping your cool can go a long way towards maintaining a positive relationship with your loved one that will keep them open to your much-needed help. Remember that pointing out that you were right or expressing negativity may not be the most productive course of action. Put a focus on keeping a good relationship. Using these skills will put you in a position not only to support your loved one, but also help you bridge the gap between them and family and friends. You can play an important role in keeping the peace.
Free memory care ebookAre you searching for a memory care facility for your loved one, but aren’t sure where to start? Our new complimentary ebook, How to Choose a Memory Care Facility for Your Loved One, is a thorough resource that tells you everything you need to consider when making this important decision. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are challenging conditions, both for patients and for their families. There comes a point when the care mom or dad needs goes beyond what adult children can provide on their own. It’s at this stage that families begin to seek out a place where their loved one can not only have their care needs met, but hopefully thrive as well. This guide covers the following:
  • What to look for regarding a facility’s environment, safety, staffing, quality of care, and policies.
  • A checklist of important details that can help you distinguish high-quality care homes from the rest.
  • How to identify signs that a facility has serious underlying problems.
  • Types of facilities that have dedicated staff and highly personalized care.
  • Important considerations when evaluating the cost of memory care.
This ebook is a free resource provided courtesy of Raya’s Paradise. We encourage you to share it with anyone you know who is looking for a memory care facility for a loved one. Click here to access the book in PDF format. For the best quality, we recommend that you download the file to your computer, rather than reading it in your browser.  
There are options for senior couples moving to assisted living.For aging adults, the move to an assisted living facility is a major life change, but even more so for a couple who has lived together for many years. It is comforting for families to know that while the selection process is still challenging in this situation, there are a growing number of facilities offering accommodations for couples. For a couple whose health needs are very different (i.e., one is in excellent health and the other is experiencing cognitive decline), you as the caregiver may be able to find a facility well able to accommodate the needs of both individuals. However, because their needs are vastly different, some facilities may house one in a particular area suitable for them, and then do the same for the spouse. In situations like this, while the couple does not live in the same room, they are still able to visit with one another often and share meals and other activities. This is often quite beneficial for the spouse in better health, because while their spouse’s health needs are too great for them to handle, they can still live and socialize under the same roof. When both spouses are experiencing similar levels of health challenges, arranging for common living space is much easier. For these couples, privacy may become a major hurdle and developing social relationships with others in the assisted living facility can become more difficult (as it becomes much easier to simply keep to themselves). The rule of thumb, though, for the caregiver and assisted living staff, is to focus your selection options on the spouse whose health needs are greater (or the spouse who is older). Discuss this with your loved one’s healthcare professionals before coming to a final decision. Living together in an assisted living facility can come with tremendous cost benefits as well. Generally speaking, in situations where one spouse is very healthy and the other requires higher level care, the spouse with good health simply pays for room and boarding expenses, while an additional fee is assessed for the care of the other spouse. In short, they are paying for only one room. Many assisted living facilities offer a pricing tier, with the lowest care needs at the bottom of the tier, while others provide services using a la carte, fee-for-service or all-inclusive pricing packages. The truth is, cohabitation with a loving spouse or partner translates into increased happiness and overall better health generally. These benefits would most certainly apply if the couple moves together into an assisted living facility. It may, in fact, strengthen the bond each has with the other, because in this type of environment, each individual’s needs are met in a friendly, healthy manner. Therefore, this gives the couple the freedom to reconnect with one another in a manner often lost over the years in the midst of health problems and other concerns. By consulting the staff, touring the facility and discussing your loved one’s health needs, you as a caregiver will certainly be capable of supporting your loved ones’ housing choices…together.
Our Los Angeles assisted living facilities are ready for any emergency.

Photo used under Creative Commons from imarcc.

No matter where your loved one’s assisted living facility is located, there’s the chance of a natural disaster. Federal and state laws require that assisted living facilities have a comprehensive disaster plan in writing. Yet, you should not take it for granted that every facility will have an effective plan in place. When interviewing facilities, try to gain a clear understanding of their disaster plan and their capability to carry out that plan. First, ask the management if you can review the facility’s disaster plan yourself. If they seem reluctant to grant this request, that by itself is a red flag. You may not be an emergency preparedness expert, but start by using your basic knowledge and common sense to evaluate the plan. Is something obvious missing? Take yourself through a disaster scenario in your mind. Can you spot potential problems? Ideally, when reading through you’ll have the impression that they’ve thought of everything. Asking to see disaster plans at several different facilities will help you start to recognize which plans are better designed. Evaluate the comprehensiveness of the plan. Does it cover all reasonable possibilities? Any true potential threats should be addressed in this plan. For example: here in California we are not overly concerned about hurricanes, but you would definitely want an assisted living facility to have a plan for earthquakes. Some of the questions you should ask the facility manager or director are:  
  • Does the facility cover these plans with the residents and the staff on a frequent schedule? There should be regular reviews and drills that involve both the residents and the staff. What kind of emergency training do staff members have?
  •  Is someone who is well-versed in the plan and capable of leading staff in carrying it out on site at all times?  Is there a plan to increase staff during a disaster? The number of people necessary to support a facility on a day to day basis may be insufficient during an emergency situation.
  • Are there disaster kits on site? If so, what is included in these kits and how will they be distributed and used in the event of a disaster? A facility should have disaster kits on hand that provide each person with canned food and water for one week. The kit should also contain candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, and first aid and sanitation supplies.
  • Even during an emergency, residents need to continue following their care plans. Ask the facility about their ability to continue without interruption during a disaster. Care plans should be easily accessible.
  • How will essential medications be dispensed during and after a disaster? You will want to be sure your loved one can get their medication during disasters.
  • Is there a plan for how to notify family members in an emergency?
  • How often is the plan updated?
The websites for FEMA and The American Red Cross can provide you with more information about specific types of disasters and improve your ability to evaluate a facility’s preparedness.    
Board care for elderly takes prep time.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Bunches and Bits.

The transition to assisted living is a challenging time. One task that will need to be completed is deciding what to do with the valuables and property you have accumulated over a lifetime. Unfortunately, moving to assisted living usually means less space, and you’ll have to sort out which belongings you’ll keep and which you’ll discard. The process will inevitably become emotional as you relive the memories your current home holds, all the while knowing that things are now changing. Below are some tips to keep in mind when going through this monumental task. 1. Remind yourself that change is inevitable. As hard as it may be, change is something we need to face. But you do have options in choosing how you react to it, and this can make all the difference. Focusing on the sorrow you feel may leave you stuck in sadness. Encourage yourself to see the opportunities and benefits of this transition. Getting rid of items can feel liberating and rewarding. There is the potential to meet new friends among those you’ll be living with now.  And by moving to the care of assisted living you may be able to look forward to better health in the supportive environment it offers. 2. Begin as early as possible. Going through an entire home is no small task. While this is completely manageable spread out over the course of several weeks, trying to do this all in a few days or even a week can be highly stressful and overwhelming. 3. Break the task down into small steps. Just as waiting until the last minute could prove to make this process unbearable, trying to take on the entire task at once could make your head spin. Going room by room will make your life a whole lot easier. Take things one drawer or one closet at a time if you need to. 4. Consider how life is changing when evaluating items. A new home and lifestyle means new needs, and many things that seem useful or valuable now may just be a burden in your next home. Will this item require maintenance or care that you no longer want or are able to provide? Are there size considerations to be made? Will there be space for this belonging in the new place? Will you ever use it? There’s only so much room for possessions, so make sure the ones you do bring serve a purpose, even if that purpose is simply to bring you joy or comfort (i.e., a family picture). Figuring out what to do with these objects once you have begun downsizing can also become an issue. You have several options here, including donating to charity, selling them in a yard or estate sale, or giving them away to a family member or friend. Sometimes it can be very satisfying to give your belongings as gifts to those who will find them meaningful. Donating to charity can also be just as fulfilling. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of letting your attachment to objects overrule practicality. In the end, what we really need are the simple things: family and companions with which to share old memories and make new ones. Working to enjoy life and savor the moment can make things seem less important.      
How board care for elderly developed.Today, seniors enjoy a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to finding a place to spend their later years. Things haven’t always been this way. In fact, not too long ago, assisted living wasn’t even an option. Prior to the advent of these facilities, older people could only choose between staying at home under the care of a family member or a hired caregiver, or going to a nursing home. Going to a nursing home was not something one wanted to do, as it often meant forfeiting basic rights, such as the right to privacy. Many times, residents were not permitted to have locks on their doors and would have to share bathrooms. The institutionalized setting and communal bathing and showering areas created an environment all too reminiscent of some of the facilities used to care for the mentally ill. To make matters worse, nursing homes were gaining a reputation for being places where the elderly were frequently mistreated, neglected or even abused. Dr. Keren Brown Wilson, whose own mother lived in a nursing home, made it her life’s work to develop alternative means to care for the elderly. She was integral in the inception of the first assisted living facility, which would serve as a model for such facilities all across the country. One of Dr. Wilson’s major priorities when developing the assisted living model was to restore the privacy and dignity that were missing in the institutionalized settings of nursing homes. In addition to this, Dr. Wilson made sure that these facilities were adequately staffed with round-the-clock supervision and a more individualized level of care with one-on-one support. This prototype for a new and innovative way to provide care for the elderly drew attention from many other organizations that then helped turn assisted living into a viable alternative for older adults looking to make the transition to a living situation that provided more support. The need for supportive living accommodations for seniors is greater than ever, and fortunately, there are a variety of desirable arrangements available. Today’s seniors can choose from different types of assisted living facilities depending on the specific care they need, their budget, and lifestyle choices. Their options, rather than demeaning them at the end of their lives, can help make these years a golden time to enjoy the sunset of their days with few worries.