How to find memory care for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s
Cognitive impairment in seniors is both heartbreaking and complicated. When a loved one starts to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, family members may have to come to the difficult decision to seek out long-term care for their family member.
A general senior living community typically doesn’t cut it for those dealing with cognitive impairments. In these situations, it’s best to seek out memory care services. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about memory care — what it is, what the benefits are, and when it’s time to seek help for your loved one.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care refers to a form of long-term care that offers specialized support for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other form of cognitive impairment. Staff and facilities are designed to meet the social, medical, and safety needs of these people. This ranges from additional security measures for residents who may wander to visits from therapy pets.
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., medical director of the Deanna and Sidney Wolk Center for Memory Health, considers memory care not to be treating the disease, but “[focusing] on providing care for the patient who has the disease.” As he told Forbes, that should include treatment for the family as well.
What are the Benefits of Memory Care?
It’s hard to watch a loved one deal with memory loss. Family members may often feel helpless, as they don’t have the experience or skills to support their loved one. Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of cognitive impairment are complicated diseases.
Seeking out specialized care can help those suffering from memory loss stimulate cognitive functions and overall improve their quality of life. Working with a memory care community can lead to the use of less antipsychotic medication for residents. Here are a few benefits to expect from seeking out memory care for loved ones:
- Specially-trained staff members — Memory care providers have deep skills and training that prepare them to work with people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of cognitive impairment. Memory care communities will often have a low staff-to-resident ratio and coordinate with the resident’s other healthcare providers to ensure they’ll be able to provide the right kind of care for that individual. These staff members are available around the clock to ensure that residents always have the care that they need.
- Safe and supportive environment — People living with memory loss may deal with certain internal and/or external triggers that cause them to become upset or agitated. Staff at a memory care facility are trained to reduce stress and overstimulation that may set off those triggers. One of the first things that staff will do is assess scheduling and environmental factors for any potential triggers. For example, these environments are also highly secure and often built with unique layouts to prevent confusion that may lead to patients wandering off. That way, family members can rest assured that their loved ones are safe and supported.
- Programming suited to different cognitive abilities — Providing residents with a high quality of life is a top priority for memory care communities. Specialized treatment is a large part of that, but so are activities suited to every resident’s level of cognitive ability. Residents can participate in various activities that suit individual cognitive ability, memory, language, and physical capabilities. These can range from gardening to arts and crafts to music therapy.
When is it Time to Seek Memory Care for a Loved One?
As Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses, it becomes difficult for family members to provide loved ones with the care they need. A cognitive impairment requires specialized care that most people simply are not equipped for.
While family members want the best for their loved one suffering from memory loss, making the decision to seek professional care can be a difficult one. But if a family member finds themselves answering yes to any of the following questions, it may be time to seek out a memory care community:
- Am I concerned about my loved one’s safety at home when I’m not around?
- Am I unable to keep up with my loved one’s medication routine?
- Is it becoming increasingly difficult to handle my loved one’s Alzheimer’s/dementia-related behaviors?
- Am I feeling overly burnt out as a caregiver?
- Would the structure and socialization of a memory care community benefit my loved one?
- Am I neglecting my other relationships and responsibilities?
How to Overcome the Guilt of Moving a Loved One into a Memory Care Community?
Caregivers or people close to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia are always aware that memory care may end up becoming a necessity for their loved one — but that doesn’t make the decision any easier. People often wrestle with feelings of guilt when contemplating this decision. It’s common for family members to wonder if they’re doing the right thing.
But as “A Place for Mom” says, delaying their move to memory care may actually end up doing more harm than good. It could impact the person’s health, your own well being, and your relationship with that loved one.
But just remember that recognizing that your loved one needs personalized, specialized care is a selfless act — you’re doing what’s best for the person. Talk to your friends and family members if you’re struggling with your role as a caregiver. Seek out their help in picking the right type of service for your loved one. It’s not easy watching your loved one deal with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but you can find comfort in knowing their care is in competent and loving hands.
Senior Care Communities vs. Memory Care — What’s the Difference?
When starting the search for care for your loved one, it’s important to mind the difference between a general nursing home and memory care services. A nursing home does offer intensive care for its residents, but it’s more focused on general medical care than memory care.
Because of that, a nursing home won’t be ideal for a senior with severe Alzheimer’s or dementia. These communities aren’t structured to deal with the complications of cognitive impairments. For example, most nursing homes don’t have the activity programming or physical layout necessary to cater to the needs of a person suffering from memory loss.
But if your loved one is still in the early or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, a nursing home could be a suitable option. Staff members will be equipped to assist residents with basic tasks impacted by memory loss, such as grooming. The difference between a nursing home and a memory care community may not seem significant, but they matter when it comes to the care and support of your loved one.
The best way to determine which is the right option for you is to talk to a few different communities about your loved one’s needs. Whichever you feel the most comfortable with is the route you should take for your loved one’s care.
What Are the Different Kinds of Memory Care?
While memory care services are the best option for people living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other kind of cognitive impairment, it’s still not a one-size-fits-all type of treatment. Here are different types of memory care services you can consider for your loved one:
- Personal care — This involves a nurse/staff assisting a patient with daily personal tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Personal care services can be provided in the person’s home, in order for them to maintain a level of comfort. But for more serious cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, these services can be provided in an outside community. Residents are also able to enjoy access to worship services, resident cats and dogs, and a tight-knit community of friends and neighbors at a home like St. Anne’s.
- Adult day center — Caretakers that also juggle a full-time job may opt for an adult day center for their loved one. This provides the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia a safe and structured environment to be in during those working hours. Day centers provide participants with socialization, supervision, and daily activities.
- Respite care — This type of treatment involves paid professionals or volunteers (usually family members) coming into the person’s home to provide care. If the person’s memory loss is still in earlier stages, this caregiver can provide additional services such as driving them to medical appointments or assisting with household chores.
- Residential care — This type of memory care takes place in a community specifically designed for people who need medical supervision or personalized care. These communities are best suited for individuals with more severe memory loss. There are several types of residential care services available in order to accommodate residents with different levels of functionality.
Memory Care Community Services
The benefit of seeking out memory care for your loved one is that the skilled staff at hand is qualified to offer a number of useful services to people suffering from memory loss. Here are some services you can expect:
- Activities such as art projects, group reading, and physical activities
- Behavioral management to help with the side effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s, such as combativeness or wandering
- Counseling to help your loved one cope with their memory loss
- Medical treatment such as blood pressure checks and wound care
- Occupational/physical therapy to assist your loved one as their memory loss progresses
How Much Does Memory Care Cost?
Professionals caring for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia have years of training and experience in the field. Because of that, these services are not inexpensive. AARP reports that, as of 2021, the average memory care monthly rent in the US is $6,935. That’s significantly more than the average monthly cost of assisted living at $5,380. But on the other hand, it’s nearly half the average monthly cost of a nursing home — $10,562.
It’s not a secret that this care is costly. Not to mention that understanding the breakdown of these costs may initially be confusing. But if it’s the right option for your loved one, communities should help you to find a payment model that works for you and your family. Talk to the memory care community and see if a payment plan is available.
Medicare or long-term care insurance should help to ease the costs as well. Keep in mind that communities like St. Anne’s may offer a benevolence fund to residents. This means that even if a resident’s family exhausts their funds, their loved one can still receive the care they need.
How to Find the Right Memory Care Community for Your Loved One
If you decide that memory care is the right option for your loved one, do your homework to find residences in the area that seem like they’d be a good fit for your loved one. After that, set up a few tours.
Memory care communities should have a wealth of information on their websites. But if they’re missing a key piece of information, or there’s simply something you’d like to discuss in further detail, come to your tour prepared with some questions. Here are some to consider:
- What medical services are provided?
- What are the living quarters like?
- What amenities does the community offer?
- What are the recreation options?
When you’re on the tour, keep an eye out for the level of resident engagement, facility upkeep, security, and overall staff friendliness. Take a walk around the grounds and ask other residents about their experience at the community. After you’ve decided on a favorite, bring your loved one along for another visit. If they like it as much as you do, you can move forward on the next steps.
TL;DR Summary – Senior Memeory Care
Watching a loved one live with Alzheimer’s or dementia is heartbreaking, but seeking out specialized memory care services for them will reduce overstimulation and provide activities that increase their quality of life. As there are a number of different types of memory care, do your research to see which type is the best fit for your loved one’s needs.
Just make sure to do research before settling on a community for your loved one. Take a tour and ask relevant questions. Look into their costs and discuss a payment plan if needed. Just remember that if everything about the community feels right, moving your loved one into memory care is the best option for them.
We’d love to talk you through this transition. Contact St. Anne’s today to learn about our memory care services.
How To Find the Right Living Place For Your Parents
Choosing a retirement community for an elderly parent is never an easy task. When children look for a home for their senior parents, they aren’t just trying to find them another place to live. A good senior living community gives the children peace of mind, and it gives the parents somewhere they can live out their golden years with joy. For many people, finding a new home for their senior parent is a way to repay their parent for taking care of them and supporting them throughout their life. Others are trying to ensure that a parent with a specific health condition lives somewhere that provides the best possible medical care.
Whatever the reason and whatever the level of care that will be necessary for the parent, there are countless factors to consider before selecting a community that makes a good fit. This guide covers many of those considerations and how to navigate them together with parents to find a home that will make for a happy and healthy life.
What Senior Living Community Options Are Available?
It is important to remember that there are many different types of retirement communities available to senior parents. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover most senior living communities, although certain types of private insurance can cover them. Each kind of community caters to different preferences and needs parents may have when leaving their home. Some of the options available to older parents can include:
- Independent Living Communities. These are residences in a senior living community for people that require little to no assistance. They have the benefit of integrating a parent whose assistance needs might develop over time into a community early, allowing them to already have a happy social life and a familiar environment if they end up requiring a more comprehensive care facility. Most of these residences are situated in a community that offers more advanced care, allowing for an easier move – if necessary – later in the resident’s life. Although the price of independent living residences can vary quite a bit based on location, amenities, unit size, and other variables, typically they average between $2000 and $4000 per month. They are usually paid for privately out of pocket, but some may allow insurance or other non-private payment options.
- Assisted Living Communities. For senior parents that require a little more assistance or supervision, assisted living facilities can be a good option. These are usually more expensive than independent living communities due to the cost of staff that provide assistance, but like independent living, the price is quite variable. They average around $4000 a month nationally, but the cost can be higher based on the level of assistance your elderly parent needs. Additional services can include help with managing medication, help dressing or bathing, blood sugar checks, regular nurse check-ins, and many others. These are also typically privately paid, but long-term care insurance can help cover a lot of the costs.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities. For senior parents that need full assistance and 24/7 care, this option ranges from a national average of $7650 for a semi-private room (which may or may not have a closable door) to $8700 for a more private unit. Fortunately, Medicare does cover a net total of 100 calendar days of care in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility. However, a daily copay that the patient or their family must cover is added to the base cost if certain criteria (such as a recent stay in the hospital) get met.
- Memory Care Facilities. These are communities for parents that have dementia or other serious memory or cognitive disorders. One of the most dangerous symptoms of dementia is a tendency to wander out of the home while confused, which can be a major problem if there are hazards outside such as extreme weather. They are designed with the risks of memory disorders in mind, providing locked, safe environments that allow residents to live in a structured and secure environment. Memory care facilities typically cost $1000 to $4000 more per month than the base price of assisted living facilities in the area. Like assisted living communities, memory care facilities can be partially paid for by long-term care insurance policies.
Whatever option seems right at first, it is a good idea to have back-up plans based on changes in health or opinion. Many elderly parents move multiple times after leaving their home, staying in communities that fit best with their fluctuating needs and desires. The best option is usually whatever allows the parent the most independence possible, while still planning for any potential changes that might necessitate a move. Designating financial power-of-attorney to a trust friend or family member as early as reasonable is a good idea, since that allows the parent to have their affairs managed if their health status changes suddenly. Designating another trusted individual (who understands their medical needs, values and wishes) as their healthcare power-of-attorney is similarly a wise choice. But when a decision has to be made hastily, for instance after an accident, death, or unexpected hospital stay, things can change very quickly.
“There were four different assisted-living apartments; two independent-living communities; countless hospital stays that lasted a week or longer; probably a dozen stints in rehab; one heartbreaking week in a hospice; and an even more harrowing few months, during COVID lockdown, in memory care,” writes Firstly’s Jenna Gabrial Gallagher in a write-up of her experience helping her parents navigate senior living communities. “Some of the moves were their choice, such as when they decamped without telling us from their AL facility (“Everyone there is so…old!”) to a much hipper independent living community down the street. Other moves were out of medical necessity: they were in the original AL because my mom had had a debilitating toxic reaction to a combination of medications she’d been taking for her multiple myeloma. After she recovered, they couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”
Ultimately though, the choice is between the parent and the family involved. It is important to balance the wishes of the parent with the reality of their needs, and to try to work out a solution that everyone agrees makes them as comfortable, healthy, and happy as possible.
Before You Tour
Regardless of the type of senior living community or the needs of the older parent that will be living in the community, the most important part of the process of selecting a home for the parent is touring the community in question. But before that, there are a number of crucial things to consider when thinking about touring a senior living community for a parent that may be living there in the near future. This information can often be discovered on the community’s website, in marketing pamphlets, on the phone with staff. If all else fails, you can ask during a tour, but if possible you should get answers to most of these questions before taking the time to visit in person:
How Far Away is the Community?
Many people want to be close to their parents so that they can visit as often as they can. If that is an important factor in the decision, the distance question is a critical piece of the tour. Don’t just think of the distance measured as the bird flies, also take careful note of how long it takes to drive there. For senior parents that do not own a car or drive, consider the public transportation and other transport options available to them. Will they be able to get to grocery stores and shopping centers, if necessary? How about places of worship? If they have health conditions that might require urgent medical attention from physicians that are not available on site, how far away is the hospital? How far are other medical centers, clinics, or specialists they might be visiting on a regular basis? How far away are libraries, parks, and other amenities they may want to visit? Will they be able to visit other friends and family from their community? Living near children is also a difficult choice with many pros and cons.
“I’ve seen many retirees make snap decisions about where they’ll live and regret it,” said Jill Schlesinger, CBS business analyst and author of The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money, in a Forbes article on the topic. “They thought it would be wonderful to be closer to their kids and grandkids. What could go wrong? But this kind of a move can be dangerous for retirees, and not just because of the financial components.”
Schlesinger added that some retired parents found that moving to be closer to family wasn’t worth leaving behind friends or other connections where they lived before. Other senior parents find that they feel like they are obligated to visit their family more than they initially wanted to, or that their family feels obligated to do the same with them. There are also countless financial considerations to make.
What Type of Care Does the Community Offer?
Another feature that can make or break the fit of a senior living community for most people is the care they can offer their aging parents. The services available can have a massive impact on a parent’s health and quality of life. Make sure to ask not only about any care options that are necessary today, but the care services that might reasonably be needed in the future. If possible, it is a good idea to avoid having to move again if new or different care needs develop down the line. Ask about the quality of the care and the credentials and training of the staff providing it. You should also ask about different packages or level of care offered, what they include, and what the price of each level is.
What Medical Services Are Provided?
Beyond care generally, it is also wise to inquire about the medical support the community can give your parent. Like more broad care services, it is consider how well the services provided by the community fit with both the medical needs of your parent today and needs that might develop in the future. It can provide a lot of extra peace of mind to know that good medical care will be available should your parent need them, even if they aren’t necessary today. Some details to ask about might include access to doctors and other medical professionals on site, medication administration services, pharmacy services, physical therapy options, and vitals monitoring.
What Are the Units Like?
Most senior living communities have a variety of housing options in many different layouts, sizes, locations, and bedroom and bathroom combinations. These can include independent living apartments with full kitchens, or smaller suites with walk-in kitchenettes. Bathrooms might include disability accommodations or come as default only and require extra fees for installation of those accommodations.
Consider what floor plan will make your parent the happiest and talk it over with them. Try to get them to envision where they might put their possessions so they can see what living there would be like. Ask the staff to provide a floor plan with measurements so you can estimate how furniture might fit. Think about how any health conditions might affect your parent navigating the apartment – for instance, could a wheelchair user reach shelves or appliances? Within the unit, consider different safety features and check whether or not they work properly, such as fire alarms, call bells, sprinklers, and smoke alarms. Your parent should feel safe and secure in their new home, and you should feel comfortable putting them somewhere you do not have to worry about them.
Some of the less crucial options are still important to think over since they may or may not suit your parent’s preferences. This includes things like individually controlled heating and air conditioning, the absence or presence of a full kitchen, whether there is a fully private bathroom, storage options, and the decision between a unite with one or multiple rooms. Don’t forget to ask about TV, phone, and internet access options and their price.
What Amenities Does the Community Offer?
As you tour through a senior living community, it is helpful to ask about what amenities and suite options can be accessed by residents. Considering the individual unit is important, of course, but its just one part of the larger retirement community and all of its various amenity spaces and options as part of your parent’s possible new home. When it comes to the amenities in the community and its shared spaces, think about what your parent likes to do and what they are expecting from this new chapter in their life. Senior living communities often have a common dining area, for example. Could there be a spot that could be reserved for birthday parties or larger family gatherings?
Other amenities and common areas to ask about include:
- Library or reading room
- Fitness center
- Café, restaurant, or market
- Chapel or other places of worship
- Movie theater or stage performance area (for concerts and plays)
- Activity spaces (e.g. art studio or dance hall)
- Open community kitchen
- Beauty salon or barber shop
- Garden, patio, or green space
What Are the Recreation Options?
Many people choose senior living residences for a sense of camaraderie, community and the opportunities to meet and live alongside people their age who lead similar lives. Ask about what activities are available to the residents and if they are able to provide any sort of input. Your parent might be interested in volunteering or helping create a new feature of the community. These are opportunities that can really set a community apart and make it a true community, as opposed to just a place to live. Some senior living communities even offer transportation for local events, shopping, excursions, musical and theatrical performances, and other opportunities to get out, so these are worth inquiring about.
How to Tour a Senior Living Community
Once you think a senior living community has potential to be a good new home for your aging parent, it is time to schedule a tour. This can usually be done by calling the community, emailing them, or going to their website and filling out a form. Some communities even allow potential residents and their families to walk in and get a tour on the same day. Regardless, once the day of the tour comes and you walk through the doors of the building, there are some specific details to watch out for that could be the difference between your parent having a happy home and spending thousands of dollars on a community that isn’t worth the cost. Keep an eye out for the following:
Activities and Community Engagement: Join In
If it is possible, it is always a great idea to try scheduling a at the same time as a community event or group activity. When scheduling the tour, ask the staff member if you can drop in on one of the activities – or even participate with your parent. Take note of how many people are there – is it well attended? Does the staff support the participants and appear to be having a good time with the activity as well? Have a peek at the community calendar of events. Are they things that your parent might be interested in? Is there some variety to them that allows residents to broaden their horizons? Are there opportunities to get outside of the community on outings? And if applicable, never forget to check if the community holds the relevant religious services.
Staff Friendliness: Ask Around
The demeanor, attitude, and overall friendliness of the staff working at a senior living community are a critical factor in the quality of the community. Having confidence in the staff is vital, so take some time to observe multiple staff members interacting with the community’s residents. Do they listen closely to the needs and concerns of the residents and look them in the eye? Does the staff at the community treat residents with dignity, respect and a smile? Also, do what you can to get an understanding of the staffing structure and the positions involved. More specialized roles and more staff usually translates to better care for your elderly parent, but make the staff is actually working to help the residents. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb, and there are exceptions. Specialized roles like “assistance pool maintenance engineer” are likely increasing the price of residency more than they’re increasing the quality of life for the residents? Make sure you get an introduction to the community’s management team, so you can ask how many staff are directly involved with resident service. Meeting the management team will also help get a picture of the community’s goals and values.
It is also a good idea to speak with residents away from any staff members and ask them how the treatment from staff is. Are they polite and respectful to the residents? Do they do their jobs diligently? Are they ever rude or negligent in any way? Make sure to ask how the community handles complaints about staff from residents and their families. Good employment screening can help reduce the number of bad staff members that end up working at a senior living community, but it is impossible to stop a few from slipping through the cracks – even at the best communities. While complaints about grave misconduct like elder abuse or theft from residents are the responsibility of law enforcement, less serious and more common problems with staff conduct are usually the responsibility of the community. If they have a human resources department or staff manager, you should ask them about how they handle staff complaints, but you should also take a moment to ask residents in private so you don’t just get the company line.
Outdoor Areas: Take a Walk
Having somewhere to enjoy a sunny day outside is a huge benefit for any senior living community. These areas can be a wonderful place for active older folks to take an afternoon walk, do yoga or stretching exercises, soak up sunlight, socialize with other residents, or simply relax with a morning coffee and read the paper while getting some fresh air.
Outdoor areas and green spaces in and around senior living facilities encourage activities with a plethora of health benefits. A 2011 study published by the British Medical Association investigated nearly 28,000 people from 40 to 79 years old over a period of 13 years. The study found that those who went on walks for an hour a day or more had a significantly longer life expectancy. But even short walks – especially when walking at a brisk pace – can also add years to the clock, according to a similar study of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan. Even moderate intensity (slow or medium pace) walks can add an average of three years to someone’s lifespan.
“15 minutes a day or 90 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise might be of benefit, even for individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease,” the study authors wrote. “The benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks. Individuals who were inactive had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality compared with individuals [who exercised moderately].”
Take a walk with your senior parent through any green areas, gardens, or grounds that the community features. Ask if there are any regular activities or organized group exercises that other residents participate outdoors. Even for older adults who may have health conditions that limit their capacity for traditional exercise, there are still ways that your older parent can take advantage of outdoor spaces to benefit their health. If your parent enjoys gardening, many senior living communities sport community gardens that grow fresh fruits and vegetables. While on the tour of the community, ask the tour guide if it is possible for residents to volunteer to help work in it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular moderate exercise – including gardening – each week can reduce the risk for “obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death,” among other health problems. The CDC has also identified other health benefits to gardens too, so the fruits and vegetables certainly don’t hurt.
Community Meals: Have a Bite
Many people take decent food for granted, but this a luxury not afforded to many older adults living in low-end senior living communities. As such, it is important to ask the tour guide about what sort of entree choices are available to the community’s residents and inquire about dining hours and meal options. If possible, see if you can have a look at the area the food is prepared in and make sure it is clean and well organized – you do not want your parent eating food made in the Cockroach Café. More importantly, most senior living communities will let you schedule a tour during dining hours and have a meal at the community’s dining facilities. This is a wise move not only because it is a great way to sample the cuisine, but also because it also opens up the chance to meet some of the residents. You can discuss what happens if a resident can’t make it to the dining room for a meal and how they might be able to get food if that happens. Malnutrition is a serious issue in older adults, but good food can help prevent that.
“My research shows dissatisfaction with the food service significantly influences how much and what residents eat, and therefore contributes to the risk of malnutrition,” wrote nutrition and health expert Dr. Cherie Hugo of Australia’s Bond University in an op-ed on the issue. “And aged care residents are unlikely to voice their opinions – they either won’t or can’t speak out.”
Because of this, it is important to prevent the issue before it happens and choose a community that has good food.
Cleanliness and Upkeep: Follow Your Nose
Nobody wants to live in rat’s nest, and unfortunately many senior living communities are poorly maintained and underfunded. Look beyond the furnishings and take a moment to get a closer inspection of the baseboards, corners, and windows. Ask your tour guide how frequently housekeeping is available for your parent’s unit. Also ask about the specifics on maintenance and repair requests and the estimated response times once a request for a repair has been submitted. Other simple daily chores like laundry can work differently in a communal setting, so ask about those too and have a look at the laundry facilities. Using the laundry example, make sure to get a good understanding of the cost of the laundry machines and how busy the laundry room gets.
There are some major red flags to look out for here, too. Noticeable odors in the building can demonstrate a deeper issue with lack of cleanliness, or they could just be a temporary problem. If there are smells limited in one area you visit on the tour, that most likely indicates a single and limited recent problem. However, odors pervading the entire building most likely indicate a broader systemic dysfunction. Don’t be afraid to ask the manager what they think might be causing the smell or any other issue you run into during your tour.
Safety and Security: Test It Out
Security and safety features are a vital to the health and well-being of elderly parents, as well as their peace of mind (and that of their family). It helps everyone sleep a little better at night to know that the community is taking the safety of their residents seriously, so make sure that this is the case for the community you are touring when you go to check out the location. For instance, check out the bathrooms. See how accessible they are and whether or not they have grab bars in optimal spots throughout the bathroom. Give them a nice hard pull to make sure they are sturdy and screwed in to the wall properly.
Ask the tour guide how the residents can contact staff if they have an emergency in their unit. Is there a call button or a similar communication device (or devices) that they can use if something goes awry? Ask the guide about any other safety and security features that are available in the living area and around the rest of the community. Check to see how you can find out about staff schedules. This can help to determine who is on location at different times to help residents. Be especially sure to ask about whether or not there are registered nurses on site. Are the senior living community’s staffing patterns different at night, on weekends, or during the holidays? How do they help with or manage the residents’ medication schedules? Always ask specific questions that are relevant to any medical needs your senior parent might have.
Personal Care: Keeping It Clean
While going on a tour of potential senior living community locations, it is also important to ask plenty of questions about the personal care assistance the community offers. If it is something your parent needs – or may reasonably need in the foreseeable future – discuss bathing options. A good way to determine how well residents are cared for is to simply observe the residents in the facility closely when you see them, especially if you are touring somewhere that gives extra service to the residents such as an assisted living community, a skilled nursing facility, or a memory care facility. Are the residents clean, closely shaven, and sporting well-groomed nails and hair? One thing to take into consideration while visiting is the activities the residents are involved in and weather. Are their clothes well-suited for the activities they are doing? Are the residents dressed appropriately for the weather?
Ask Other Residents About Their Experience
Before or after the official tour from the senior living community staff, take a moment to pull a resident or two aside and ask them how they feel about living in the community. Do they enjoy living there? Would they choose this community again? What amenities or services do they use? What complaints do they have, or what would they change? What are their favorite parts of living there? What is the community like – is it tight-knit, or do people keep to themselves? Are there any maintenance issues or pest problems?
These basic questions, and many others, can give valuable insight that you might not otherwise get from the well-rehearsed official tour, which is typically more focused on convincing potential residents to move in than giving an unbiased portrayal of the community’s good and bad aspects. Online reviews can also be helpful, but they do come with some limitations.
“Don’t give the opinions of reviewers too much weight,” said Human Good’s Meredith Landry in an article on the subject. “People who review generally have strong opinions, they’re either extremely enthusiastic or very disparaging.”
Landry recommends beginning the search online, but only using the reviews to gather questions and cross off communities that have an overwhelmingly bad rating from many independent reviewers. Once on the tour, speak privately with residents whenever you can, making sure to also “talk to the people in charge of health and wellness, activities and dining.”
“Get offline and visit,” Landry added. “Depending on your parent’s health, bring them along for a second visit once you’ve vetted the community and asked the big questions—some of which you may draw from reviews.”
Opt For Experience
Wherever you are in the search and touring process, finding an established and time-tested community is a good place to start. For nearly a century, St. Anne’s Retirement Community has offered senior adults a variety of living options to fit their needs. Offering everything from independent living to full-time memory care, starting your search with St. Anne’s may be the first step toward a happy future for your elderly parent. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour.
Did you know… St. Anne’s Retirement Community (SARC) is a Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC), meaning that we want you to stay when you come here to SARC. We offer three levels of living Independent Living, Personal Care, and Skilled Nursing. Within our Care and Skilled Nursing units, we have a secured Memory Support unit that offers help for Residents diagnosed with Dementia.
It is easy to get settled into the community but paying for it can be confusing. Here are some helpful tips, three to be exact, that you didn’t know about paying for a CCRC. First, there are financial advantages to a CCRC. Second, you and your investment are protected. Finally, you can afford a CCRC in multiple ways.
Financial Advantages to a CCRC:
- If you move at an appropriate age, then amortize what you’d pay over a long period of time; it’s often cheaper over the long term.
- Entrance fees tend to fund long-term improvements within the community. Invest into your own future with the entrance fee. Also, the entrance fee makes for a reduced monthly service fee.
- A benevolence fund is part of the mission. If your loved one runs out of money, the care will not. Think of it as a form of insurance.
You and Your Investment are Protected:
There are three types of contract models.
- The extensive life-care model, where your fees don’t go up as you travel through the care continuum.
- Modified month-to-month model
- Pay-as-you-go model
There are multiple ways you can afford a CCRC:
- Private pay – This is where residents or their families are responsible for the bills.
- Long-term Care Insurance – It usually won’t cover residential living expenses, but a few policies cover assisted living. Each policy is written differently, so check with the insurance carrier to see what they will and will not cover.
- Medicare – Can be used to pay for some services. It doesn’t cover long-term nursing care; it does cover services that a CCRC resident might receive. A few examples are physician visits and a hospital stay. Check with your provider to see what might be covered at a CCRC. For information regarding Medicare visit, gov: the official U.S. government site for Medicare | Medicare.
In the end, a CCRC can be confusing at the beginning when you’re researching the next step for you or your loved ones. However, the best thing to do is do your homework when trying to make the correct decision regarding your next level of living. Always get all of your questions answered, and remember you hold the ultimate decision on where you live next!
*Information according to Humangood.org, 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Paying for a CCRC (humangood.org).
Fall is a time when the leaves turn colors, and the air turns crisper. It is also the season where we fall back an hour due to daylight savings time! Fall officially began on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, and ends Tuesday, December 21, 2021.
During these three months, we enjoy a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities such as pumpkin patches, time with our family, fall décor, and the occasional pumpkin spice flavored item. Have we ever thought about making our own decorations to bring a little fall-like atmosphere to our home? Yes, you can go out and purchase décor from various big-box retailers; however, that wouldn’t offer you the same sense of accomplishment you’d enjoy making your own decorations to enhance your home.
Do you want to make your items more memorable? Then, it’s best to first gather all of your items ahead of time. The last thing you want while working on a project is to have to run out and pick up an extra set of tools. Also, plan your time wisely since some home decorations take longer to make—so, scheduling a break or two doesn’t hurt since it allows for a mental break.
Now, what will you make once you have all of your items and planned out your time? A pumpkin seems like an excellent choice for a fall decoration since you can either carve it, paint it, or draw on it! There are so many ways to decorate a pumpkin, and you can get an idea of some of them here.
One of the most exciting ways to do pumpkin décor is by purchasing different sizes and creating a small message on them. Can you imagine what three pumpkins in a room painted in the same color and having letters on them that spells fall? It would look perfect right on a porch or entranceway leading up to your front door! Also, painted pumpkins will last longer than a carved pumpkin since the seeds are still inside.
Well, now it’s time to get started on these items. In no time, you’ll have fall arriving at your house!
7 Ways to Go Green in Spring
Spring is officially here! There isn’t anything better than an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures and smiling faces. This is the season to not just go green, but to $ave $ome green too!
Here are a few simple changes you can make to reduce your environmental footprint and save money this spring.
1. Declutter Your Life
Get rid of all of your things you own that you don’t want or haven’t used in a year. While “spring cleaning” is not a new phrase, it’s definitely a daunting task to clean out your closet. What do you toss? What do you donate? What can be recycled?
- Keep It. One excellent rule of thumb to remember is if you have used it in the past year, you’ll probably use it again. If you haven’t, you probably won’t. Hang on to the essentials. Also, if it’s not broken, why replace it?
- Donate It. Make a list of your belongings. It’ll show you that your tastes change. Keep unwanted items out of landfills by donating them to Goodwill or asking family and friends if they have any use for them.
- Recycle It. Paper – old mail, magazines, or books – they all can be recycled. Something to think about: A family size of four uses 1.25 tons of paper per year on average. The EPA states that if you recycle one ton of paper, it saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, in addition to enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
- Trash It. Landfills are for items that have no use. When disposing of hazardous materials, be cautious, if the distribution is off, it can cause toxic components that could leach into the soil and groundwater. If something isn’t recyclable, most of the time it can be reused in some creative capacity.
2. Use Natural Cleaning Supplies
You’ve cleared off your countertops and hardwood floors, but there is dirt, grime, and grit from the winter (ick!) all over the floors. How should you clean them?
- Traditional cleaners may be more harmful than good. Many times they are responsible for 10 percent of toxic exposures reported to local poison control centers. “Natural” and “green” cleaning products are available at your local grocery store.
- You, however, can save some money and create your own cleaning product from supplies you already own.
- Spray Cleaner: Combine 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of tea tree oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of lavender oil. Mix ingredients together and store in a spray bottle.
- Deodorizing Cleaner: Mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle to clean countertops, floors, stovetops, and other appliances. Try scrubbing dishes, surfaces, and stains with a lemon and this mixture with baking soda for a deep clean.
**Please remember that homemade cleaners may not completely eliminate all bacteria, such as the H1N1 virus. Read the product’s label and follow instructions as noted.**
3. Go for an Energy Upgrade
For many of us, going off the grid isn’t an option (unless your tax return is huge). If you’re looking to save money on your electric bill, here three easy changes you can make:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs. Americans spend 20 percent of their electricity budget on lighting, period. If you choose energy-efficient lighting, the average household can save over 1,000 kilowatt-hours, 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide, and up $110 per year in electricity.
- Install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts your home’s temp. If the thermostat’s initial cost (approximately $115 or s0) deters you, remember it can help to reduce your energy usage by more than 15 percent during the summer and up to 25 percent in the winter.
- Shade your windows. Window treatments, like light-colored blinds and drapes, can save you up to $210 per year on heating and cooling costs.
4. Wash Your Dirty Car
According to the International Car Wash Association, automatic car washes use less than half of the water used when you wash your car at home. The average home wash uses approximately 80-140 gallons of water, while the automatic car wash is about 45 gallons. Commercial car washes often reuse water and then send it to treatment centers instead of lakes and streams.
If you’re set on washing your car with your kids at home, consider these tips:
- Park on gravel or grass, so soapy water soaks into the ground, becomes filtered, and recharges the groundwater.
- Avoid soaps with labels that say “harmful, danger or poison.”
- Turn off the hose when you’re not using the water.
5. Start Your Compost
Composting is a way to recycle certain materials and scraps from your kitchen and turn them into a soil for home gardens. The EPA estimates that each American throws away an average of approximately 1.3 pounds of food scraps daily. This makes up 24 percent of our municipal solid waste. Items like food scraps, grass clippings, plant cuttings, dry leaves, hay, straw, simple paper products, crush eggshells, coffee grounds, sawdust, and wood clippings can go into the compost. Knowing what items go into a compost is essential for a successful outcome.
6. Plant the Garden You’ve Always Wanted
There’s nothing better than fresh fruit and vegetables from a garden… this year, make it your garden! Find a spot with plenty of sunshine, enrich the soil with compost (see tip #5) and fill it with things you love. A garden puts your favorite fruit and vegetables at your fingertips and can save you time (and gas too!) going to the grocery store.
7. Get Your Fitness On
Take steps to improve your health this season by increasing physical activity! While there are many forms of exercise and gyms to join, a good place to start is something most of us already do every day… WALK! Breathe in the fresh air on a daily walk and encourage your friends or family to come along too – just remember to socially distance yourself from people outside of your household! If you’re running local errands, consider riding a bicycle because it’s great exercise and helps to reduce pollutants from car exhaust.
For more tips, stay tuned to our blog here at St. Anne’s!
While your holiday will probably be different this year, we’re still asking the same question: do the gift wrap, tissue paper, and gift boxes go in the trash?
Regardless of if it’s the holiday season or any other time of year, sustainability starts at the beginning of the cart. Consider these tips:
- Encourage minimal gift exchanges such as a Secret Santa or white elephant gift experience.
- Reduce waste by giving someone an e-gift card or reloading an existing gift card.
- Get crafty and create DIY gifts, such as centerpieces, apothecary containers, etc. They can easily be personalized.
- Select items with recyclable packaging.
- When shopping, use your reusable bag.
- Reuse boxes from online purchases as gift boxes.
- Give rechargeable batteries (with the charging station) for toys that require batteries.
- Use a reusable face mask. Avoid placing masks, wipes, and gloves in the recycling container.
- Give a gift that may benefit charities, especially those impacted by the pandemic.
- Shop sustainably.
You’ve shopped sustainably. You’ve checked off your list and you’ve wrapped your gifts. Now it’s time to wrap the gifts.
- Purchase gift wrap made with recycled materials that can also be recycled.
- Wrap gifts in gift bags. Place a “Green It Forward” note inside asking the recipient of the bag to pass the bag and note along to the next recipient.
- Give existing materials a second life as gift wrap.
- Don’t use gift tags, tissue paper, and bows. They do not recycle.
For more information, recyclingpartnership.org
America Recycles Day is on November 15 each year and is the only nationally-recognized day “dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.”
This year, the EPA recognizes our nation’s progress with recycling, and how it affects American prosperity. The recycling rate has “more than tripled over the last 30 years to the current rate of 35 percent.”
This growth helps to create an abundance of jobs and wages for Americans and support community development. The most recent data says that “recycling and reuse activities in the U.S. created 757,000 jobs and produced $36 billion in wages in a single year.”
A few GREEN tips for the office:
- Instead of printing hard copies of documents, save them to your hard drive or email to yourself to save paper
- Change your printer settings to be more environmentally-friendly. Set to double-sided, use smaller point fonts when possible, and the “fast draft” setting to help save ink
- Opt for paying bills online when possible to save paper
- Reuse envelopes with metal clasps and file folders by sticking a new label over the previous one
Interesting Recycling Facts
- 60 percent of trash could be recycled
- Aluminum cans can be recycled endlessly
- 80 billion aluminum cans are used each year around the world
- 500,000 trees are cut down just to produce the Sunday newspapers each week
- Each American uses almost 700 pounds of paper each year – most of which is just thrown away
- Americans throw away over 25 trillion Styrofoam cups per year
- 5 million plastic bottles are used in the U.S. every hour — most of which are not recycled
- Plastic bags in the oceans kill a million sea creatures per year
The holidays are approaching us quickly and the COVID-19 pandemic is something that may alter our holiday gatherings this year. Holiday gatherings can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. However, this year, consider ways to modify your gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amongst your loved ones.
Celebrating virtually or with only members of your household pose the lowest risk of spread. However, we realize that some will continue holding holiday gatherings. Here are a few tips to reduce the spread and keep your loved ones safe.
Considerations for Hosting or Attending Gatherings
- Check the local infection rates in the area you’re visiting. Based on the current status in the area you’re in, consider if it is truly safe to hold or attend the event.
- Try to limit the number of attendees, so that people can remain at least 6 feet apart. Guests should avoid any direct contact: handshakes, hugs, etc.
- Hold your gathering outdoors instead of indoors. Even outdoors, require your guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
- Set up an open-air tent, so that guests can still practice social distancing.
- Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water. Provide hand sanitizer.
Food and drink at Holiday Gatherings
- Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and members of their household only. Avoid any pot-luck gatherings.
- Consider wearing a mask when preparing and serving food.
- Try single-serve options or have one person serve shareable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates, and utensils.
For more information on Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings, please visit the CDC website here.
When using Sani-Cloth hand wipes, remember to use each sheet until it’s dry, and make sure to keep the canister lid closed until the next use. You may also want to take advantage of multi-use, reusable cloth wipes instead of paper towels. They are great because they are:
- Reusable, durable, dry cleaning cloths
- Superabsorbent and multi-purpose uses
- Machine washable, for multiple uses
- Rinse and reuse up to 20 times
- An alternative to paper towels, rags, and sponges
A blog post from www.eater.com talks about why kitchen towels are so useful. Read more below.
By Lesley Suter
I have a paper towel problem. In a normal week, I tear through two to three of those jumbo-size rolls that barely fit on the countertop holder. I use them to clean up small messes, big messes, non-messes, every mess. I use them to dry my hands after each little rinse in the kitchen sink. I use them as dinner napkins, as makeshift plates, like Kleenex. And mostly I use them to wipe the schmutz off every square inch of my two children multiple times per day.
I am acutely aware that using so many paper towels is wasteful and killing trees and makes all the other small eco-moves I do (Beeswax wraps! Glass containers!) seem hypocritical. But yet, paper towels are ever-so-easy and hygienic and convenient and, under normal circumstances, readily available. Parents get it — we discuss our rampant paper towel use with the same hushed tones and side winks that we do when divulging our dependence on screen time and prescription edibles.
For years, every time I tore through those little select-a-size perforations (note: the correct size is always three) I felt a twinge of shame — an emotion that, as it turns out, was for naught because the novel coronavirus has finally exposed the American public for the selfish, paper towel addicted monsters they really are. We are a nation of roll hoarders.
So, as is the case with many aspects of modern life in the wake of COVID-19, I’m being forced to adapt. And out of the ashes of my crumpled paper towel heap has arisen an unexpected new savior: The humble kitchen towel. I’ve always had stacks of these thin, stiff, mismatched strips of fabric stuffed in a drawer, which I would break out from time to time to literally dry a dish, but that was about it. Now, with my multi-purpose disposable crutch unavailable, kitchen towels have emerged as an essential part of my kitchen — and honestly, life — toolbox. Here’s why:
They clean things
I don’t know why I had it in my head that kitchen towels are only for drying things. They also sop and scrub and, when damp, actually clean pretty great! Just as before I can spray my countertop cleaner of choice and wipe a dish towel over it like one would a paper towel or a sponge — a disgusting, unsanitary sponge.
But they do so much more than clean things!
Need to wring the moisture out of shredded potatoes or zucchini? Twist it in a dishtowel. Need to cover (but not seal) some proofing dough or steamed rice? Drape a kitchen towel over it. Is lettuce too wet? Dab it with that towel. A couple of wadded-up (and dry!) towels work just super as pot holders, and folded over they’re great makeshift trivets. The use of kitchen towels as table napkins has been well-documented, but now I actually tie one around my kids’ neck, tape the other end to the counter, and make a scoop bib for catching dribbles.
This seems obvious, but it didn’t really hit home until I started using them regularly. I can run a damp towel under my kid’s chair to snag all the gross cheerio crumbs and old wrinkly peas that are under there, take it to the sink, rinse it out, let it dry, and it’s good to clean something else gross and horrible in an hour or so. Plus, at the end of each night, I just grab all the rinsed sullied towels, throw them in the washing machine, and they’re ready for the next days’ worth of destruction.
They look great
Paper towels are about as good for your decor as they are for the environment — but kitchen towels can make a statement. There are all kinds of cute designer patterns available, or you can go classic with the bistro-chic white with a red stripe. I recently discovered I own six different variations of cat-themed towels, so there’s that!
So, have kitchen towels totally cured me of my paper towel addiction? God, no. Not even close. But do I now look at all those weird rags shoved in my kitchen drawer in a whole new light? Yes, sure. Scrub away!
When it comes to important paperwork, sometimes it can be difficult to know what documents to save and why. From financial documents, insurance policies, to invoices and receipts, what do you need to hold onto and what can you toss?
Most insurance policies are different, but there are some that should be saved past their expiration date. Those may include auto, homeowners, and umbrella policies.
If you’ve picked up a lawsuit following an auto accident, a lawsuit that occurs during your policy isn’t required to be filed “until before the statute of limitations tolls.” Normally, the statute runs anywhere from 1-3 years, depending on where you are located.
Sometimes there are special cases in which a minor is involved. In this event, the open period for lawsuits is extended until the minor reaches 18 years old. Of course, there can be exceptions that will postpone the start date of the period of limitations, when a previous injury is discovered. For example, in continuing tobacco litigations, there are some liability policies dating back to the 1940s.
With this noted, it makes sense to save your insurance policy documents; with the most cautious individuals, most would save them for 21 years or longer.
INVOICES & RECEIPTS FOR PAID BILLS
Any receipt or invoice that helps to corroborate a tax deduction should be saved. If you’ve purchased any expensive, keep those receipts. They will help with proving your claim with an insurance company. Additionally, you should keep appraisals that were used to establish value under an insurance policy. Receipts and invoices for any home improvement projects, such as a new roof, landscaping, etc., should be saved for tax purposes. They help to enhance the value of your home.
BANK & CREDIT CARD RECORDS
Bank and credit card records should be saved for at least 6 years, experts say, in case you were to get hit for proof of payment for any previous purchase. Any lawsuits that are filed due to breach of contract is usually not required by the statute of limitations until 6 years has ended; however, these laws vary from state to state. Some experts will say to add an extra year, and also recommend saving canceled checks and other related documents, for seven years. It also depends on how much space you have to save these documents.
EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS, PENSIONS, AND OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS
By saving these records, you have documents to prove what benefits you are entitled to, to monitor any changes made to the plans, and to have a record of what you’re entitled to.
OTHER ADVICE AND INFORMATION
If you have complicated tax returns or extensive holdings, you may want to consult an accountant about record retention, and even potentially a financial advisor later on. If you decide to throw out any records, be sure to use a paper shredder, so criminals will not be able to get a hold of your personal information.
Source: Herbert S. Denenberg, Ph.D., a consumer and investigative reporter for NBC-10, WCAU-TV, Philadelphia from his column, ‘On Your Side.’ Dr. Denenberg also served as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner and a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission during the 1970s.