Senior Living Blog

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock”

The Caregiver Action Network (http://caregiveraction.org/), the nation’s leading family caregiver organization that advocates for the more than 90 million Americans who care for disabled, sick, or elderly loved ones, cites these tips about family caregiving and this year’s theme.

 

  • Caregiving can be a 24-hours a day/7-days a week job. Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs can be non-stop. Providing care around the clock can crowd out other important areas of life. And you never know when you will need to rush to the hospital or leave work at the drop of a hat. What challenges do family caregivers face, and how do they manage them day and night?
  • Morning:Getting off to work. The average family caregiver is a working mother of school-aged children. Mornings become a tricky balancing act of getting the kids ready for school, making sure your loved one has what they need for the day before getting yourself out the door for work.
  • All Day Long:Managing medications. Up to 70% of the time, the family caregiver – not the patient –manages the medications. The more serious the condition, the more likely it is that the family caregiver manages the medications for the patient. This means ensuring your loved one is taking their medication correctly and maintaining an up-to-date medication list.
  • During the Workday:Juggling caregiving and work. Six out of 10 family caregivers work full- or part-time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities at home. And most of them say they have to cut back on working hours, take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely.
  • Evening:Family time and meal time. Ensuring that you get proper nutrition will help you maintain strength, energy, stamina, and a positive attitude. Nutrition is as important for you as the caregiver as it for your loved one. Caregiving affects the whole family.
  • Late at Night:Taking time for yourself. Late at night might be the only time you get a few minutes for yourself. Make sure you take time to rest and recharge. The chance to take a breather and re-energize is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.
  • The Middle of the Night:Emergency room visits. Have you ever had to take your loved one to the emergency room in the middle of the night? Be prepared ahead of time with what you need to know and what you need to have with you.

During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the challenges family caregivers face when their loved ones need
Caregiving Around the Clock!

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Residents in a Senior Living Community

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday when families come together to celebrate life’s many blessings. When a loved one is in a senior living community, it can make gathering a little more difficult. Below are tips for celebrating Thanksgiving in a way that is enjoyable for the whole family.

  • Bring the holidays to those in senior living communities. If your family member in a senior living community isn’t able to come home for the holidays, then bring the festivities and family traditions to them! Decorate their residence with Thanksgiving garlands or gourds to enhance the holiday atmosphere. Make plans to join your loved one and establish new traditions. Most senior living communities offer Thanksgiving events.
  • Send a care package. If you live too far away to visit your loved one for Thanksgiving, put together a special package from the whole family. You can include letters, photos, flowers, homemade treats and anything else to remind them you are thinking about them. Make sure to give them a call or video chat on Thanksgiving.
  • Plan activities that anyone can enjoy. If you can bring your family member home for a visit, plan some holiday activities that entertain the whole family. Low-key activities, such as watching a football game or a movie, are an easy and fun way to gather the family together. Other suggestions for holiday fun include writing letters to friends, veterans or family members, completing a puzzle, listening to music, or doing a Thanksgiving-themed craft. Don’t feel that you need to plan every second of their visit. They will probably be happy to just relax and enjoy time with the family.
  • Adhere to dietary requirements. Thanksgiving is a fun time to indulge, but it is important that you prepare foods that take your loved one’s dietary restrictions into account.

Above all, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, regardless of what you do or where you celebrate. Your senior family member will be grateful to celebrate Thanksgiving with you, wherever you are!

 

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

 

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million.  Get involved this month, and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Although Alzheimer’s affects approximately 1 in every 2 families in the U.S., and has been extensively covered in the media, there’s still quite a bit of information about Alzheimer’s that you might not be aware of.

 

Alzheimer’s and dementia basics 

  • Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

 

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  • Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).
  • Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
  • Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

UBER and LYFT Are Not Just for Millennials Anymore

Senior and driving, an age-old issue often wrought with fear and frustration is a constant concern for many seniors and those who love them. Giving up a car equates to a lack of freedom and mobility. But a new trend is occurring that is making this less an issue. It’s the increased usage of services such as Uber and Lyft, which is expanding into serving more and more seniors looking for a ride.

Believe it or not, but those well into their 70’s and older are embracing smartphone apps and with that the freedom that those much younger appreciate about ride sharing services.

While ISL communities offers transportation services, some residents want greater control and ability to decide when and where they want to go on their own schedule; that’s where services such as Uber and Lyft bridge the gap.  Seniors are using the apps to go grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, visit friends and attend events and go places they wish to see. And seniors appreciate that it makes them more independent and it’s often quite affordable. And for many it means they don’t have to rely on family, friends or the community’s transportation.

Besides convenience other benefits of using apps include:

  • Fare Estimation app: Alerting riders in advance the cost of each trip
  • Split Fare option: Here seniors can take advantage of lower fares if they choose to share the ride and cost with a friend.

Staff at ISL communities are finding themselves helping more and more residents set up the apps and are happy to do so. It’s fun to see the seniors embracing what to many is a great 21st-century service.

Going Online to Connect with Other Caregivers

Online caregiver groups provide support at your convenience

As a family caregiver, finding the time to do anything but providing 24/7 care and attention might seem impossible. But anyone managing the stress, demands, and isolation of the caregiving role needs support. Caregivers often hesitate to share their day-to-day ups and downs with friends, neighbors, or family members who may be willing to listen, but whose lives are on a different path.

In-person support groups offered at ISL communities, extend valuable face-to-face interaction, but attending meetings isn’t always feasible. Spending hours out of the house, and finding back-up care during that time, may seem unmanageable. And many caregivers don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings in an in-person group setting.

Online support groups, on the other hand, provide a convenient, flexible forum that caregivers can pop in and out of whenever they have spare moments—and they can participate wherever they have access to a computer, smart phone, or tablet.

It’s a good idea to check out a few online support groups by browsing the topics and reading the posts. You may be required to register to participate, but you’re not required to post anything until you’re ready—if at all. Sometimes just reading other people’s stories can give you a needed boost and help you feel less alone.

Googling “online caregiver groups” will turn up plenty of options, but here are a few good places to start:

The Family Caregiver Alliance offers a variety of online support groups (https://www.caregiver.org/support-groups) for caregivers of adults with different types of disorders and chronic health problems.

Caring.com sponsors groups for caregivers (https://www.caring.com/support-groups) for caregiving tips, advice, and support from others who understand what you’re going through.

CareGiving.com hosts more than 50 online groups (https://www.caregiving.com/groups/) for different caregiving issues and situations.

Alzheimer’s Association offers ALZConnected, is free online community for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s or another dementia, including caregivers, for which they provide a caregivers forum (https://www.alzconnected.org/).

AARP offers an online caregiving community (http://community.aarp.org/t5/Caregiving/bd-p/bf41?intcmp=AE-HF-IL-COMM-CG) that connects caregivers with others who have similar interests, experiences, and needs.

Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018

 

Open Enrollment is from October 15 to December 7, 2017 for plans starting January 1, 2018.

Medicare’s open enrollment period is the time when participants should review their current health and drug plans and decide if any changes should be made.

Medicare open enrollment options

During the Medicare open enrollment period you can:

  • Do nothing and keep your current Medicare medical and drug coverage as is.
  • Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare.
  • Switch to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Change Part D prescription drug plans, sign up for adrug plan if you don’t have one now, or drop drug coverage.

Over 65 percent of the plans have a quality rating of four or more stars, based on a five-star rating.

People with Medicare can change their choice of health coverage and add, drop or change Medicare Part D drug coverage.

During this annual enrollment period (AEP) you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantageplan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

 

It’s very important that Medicare beneficiaries review their drug plan annually. Why? Because Medicare private drug plans can make changes each year; changes can include which pharmacies are in their networks as well as which drugs are covered and the costs.  Most people can only change their plans during the Fall Open Enrollment Period.

 

Find out whether medications you are taking will be covered on your plan next year. If your physician had to submit a prior authorization exception request and you need the same medication next year, call your plan to find out what you need to do to make sure that your plan continues covering your medication. Your physician may need to submit a new request and he may be able to do so before the end of the year to ensure that your coverage continues without interruption.

 

Where to get help

Visit Medicare.gov to get information about plans in your area or call 1-800-MEDICARE. You can also get help by contacting your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. The “Medicare & You” booklet is available for download on the Medicare website.

65 or Older? Be prepared for the upcoming flu season

While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease.

  • In recent years, it’s estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older
  • Between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.

It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. The flu can make existing health conditions worse and is especially dangerous for people with chronic health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.  Seniors with these conditions are more likely to develop complications from the flu that can result in hospitalization and even death.

According to the CDC here are actions to take this flu season:

  • Get Your Flu Shot
  • The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu shot. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year by the end of October if possible. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even in January or later.
  • There are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older:
    • The “high dose vaccine” is designed specifically for people 65 and older and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production).
    • The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant, which is designed to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination.

Note: People 65 years of age and older should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine, the intradermal flu shot, or jet injector flu vaccine.

We encourage all seniors to consult with their physicians about getting a flu shot this year.

DOWNSIZING – IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME?

With summer behind us, now is a time that many rethink the downsizing idea and utilize the fall to begin the process. Downsizing is daunting at best but can be especially important for seniors, whose homes have often been the repository of decades of collecting – and living. What may appear to just be clutter can indeed also be a trap. Many seniors feel they can’t leave their homes because they have so much stuff, so now may be the time to start working through the years of collecting so seniors can experience more freedom in their lives.

Here are some tips to help begin the process of helping older adults get rid of “Stuff”.

  1. Start Now- or better yesterday

No one thinks they should have waited longer to start the task, especially when knee deep in boxes.

  1. Questions require answers

When going through items before just trying to get rid of an item- ask the older adult about it- when did you last wear it? Is it sentimental? Does it work?

  1. Take a picture of it before it goes

What is important is the memory that the object evokes. With this in mind, take photographs of precious items that can be reviewed when needed.

  1. Junk or Treasure

What is one man’s treasure is another man’s junk. We are all familiar with this- take the time to evaluate and categorize items.

  1. Put in a nice box

OK, we all have items we just can’t get rid. For these get some nice, new boxes and put the items in them. Label them well with the contents. In 6 months or year’s time – revisit whether the post was even looked into- if not you may have the opportunity to get rid of it.

  1. Not all at Once

No one gets rid of all the stuff in one session. So be easy on yourself and the homeowner, knowing that it will take time and several visits to sort through years of accumulation.

  1. Don’t do it all on your own

You may not be able to do this all on your own- ask for help from family, friends, and professionals. Here is one group to check out that may be of assistance: National Association of Senior Move Managers http://www.nasmm.org

ISL Communities Celebrate National Assisted Living Week®

Communities recognize deep connections between staff, residents during national observance

The ISL communities that offer assisted living for residents take part in the annual week long festivities celebrating National Assisted Living Week®. From September 10-16, ISL communities embrace this year’s theme, “Family is Forever” through a variety of activities.

The “Family is Forever” theme for National Assisted Living Week was inspired by a quote from the famed poet Maya Angelou: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

“When moving a loved one into an assisted living community, you want the peace of mind that they will receive the utmost care by professionals who will treat them like their own family. At our communities, we could not take this responsibility more seriously,” said Collette Valentine-Gray, CEO/COO of ISL. “We want to take this National Assisted Living Week to thank our amazing staff who consistently go above the call of duty and innately develop deep connections with our residents.”

National Assisted Living Week was created by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) in 1995 to recognize the role of assisted living in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities. The annual observance inspires assisted living communities around the country to offer a variety of events and activities to celebrate the individuals they serve, as well as to help educate members of the public about this distinct aspect of long term care.

For more information on National Assisted Living Week, visit www.nalw.org, and to find an ISL community in your area which offers assisted living visit www.isl.com/communities.

 

ISL Embraces Theme of Active Aging Week

Older adults “Ignite Your Passion” September 24-30, 2017
The eyes of the world are watching as older adults transform outdated concepts about “seniors” into the new realities of active aging, the philosophy that people can optimize their physical, social and mental well-being throughout their lives. As older adults progress on their journey through life, they have many choices. Active Aging Week September 24-30, 3027 is organized by the International Council on Active Aging®, as a national observance to highlight the diverse opportunities available to older adults. ISL is embracing the theme “Ignite Your Passion” by encouraging tours throughout the week for those interested in learning more about how senior living communities makes active aging a reality at any age.

 

Established in 2003, Active Aging Week highlights the passion that people have for life and new experiences at any age. This is right along the lines of ISL’s very popular Vibrant Life® program. Vibrant Life® is an innovative approach designed for enhancing and enriching residents’ lives across seven core components for well-rounded and meaningful experiences.

While the week-long campaign calls attention to and wholeheartedly celebrates the positivity of aging today, Vibrant Life does it 365 days a year. Both showcase the capabilities of older adults as fully participating members of society and spotlights the role models that lead the way.