Senior Living Blog

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.

A Vibrant Life Celebrated at Mountain Ridge Senior Living

 

Mountain Ridge Senior Living knows a thing or two about making life vibrant for its residents through its innovative Vibrant Life® program developed by ISL. The Vibrant Life program consists of four Signature Programs developed as a way to help ensure the community provides quality programming that contributes to the overall well-being and self-worth of its residents. One component of the program is “Livin’ the Dream” designed to take residents dreams and make them a reality. Well, the staff at Mountain Ridge did just this recently for one resident, Belle Willis.

Belle’s 94th birthday was on the horizon, and staff asked the bright presence and Marine veteran at the assisted living community what she wanted for her birthday.
“I said I wanted to drive the Mountain Ridge bus, never dreaming ever that there would be a chance,” Willis explained.
Cheryl Schmid, senior vibrant life director at Mountain Ridge started working on making her wish come true through their “Livin’ the Dream” program. Schmidt contacted the local high school for permission to use one of their parking lots as the driving course. The family was notified with more than a dozen showing up, and residents were bussed over to cheer Willis as she drove.
With a seatbelt secured over her bright red blouse, Willis adjusted her driving cap and reached to grip the gearshift lever, pulling it toward her. Willis hit the horn twice and let her foot off the brake letting out a loud “yahoo,” starting her first lap around the parking lot.
The Ogden Police Department even took part in the day presenting Belle with a certificate in recognition of “her completion of the Mountain Ridge Driving Course.”
After her drive, Belle sat in her wheelchair taking photos and visiting with family.
“This is all so wonderful, and the people there — they are just top notch,” Belle said of the Mountain Ridge staff.
As for any future plans of adventure, she isn’t so sure. “I wanted to live to be 100, but I don’t know,” Willis said with a grin, “If I keep pulling stunts like this, I won’t be able to make it.”

To learn and see more about Belle’s “Livin the Dream” check out the wonderful video at https://www.facebook.com/MountainRidgeAssistedLiving/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

ISL communities are assisting residents to live the Vibrant Life®! To learn more about Vibrant Life, contact any ISL community near you https://islllc.com/communities.

Reverting Back to the Past

Why do people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias retain older memories?

Caregivers and family members of adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementias notice their loved ones often talk about the distant past—and sometimes believe they’re still living in those times long ago.

People with dementia start to lose the ability to capture, retain, and retrieve recent memories—sometimes things that happened just a few moments ago. But longer-term memories, which are well encoded in a person’s brain, tend to remain strong longer than recent events. And memories of children, work, childhood, and other past events that are happy ones have likely been revisited often during the person’s life, so they’re more entrenched in the brain, and more easily recalled.

As the disease progresses, long-term memories will be affected as well, and the person will have greater difficulty accurately recalling things that happened a long time ago.

How should you respond?

Families and friends of those with dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones keep talking about times long in the past—especially when the older adult believes that those times are taking place right now.

Instead of correcting, criticizing, or arguing, families and caregivers might try to enter their older loved one’s reality, thereby building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. Known as “validation therapy,” many families and caregivers use this technique instinctively without knowing its name.

Another technique called “reminiscence therapy” can enliven mood, increase well-being, and promote pleasant behavior in adults with dementia as well as those around them. This technique emphasizes active discussion of past activities, events, and experiences—often with help of photographs, music, and familiar items.

Here are some tips for connecting with those with dementia when they’re “living in the past.”

  • Encourage reminiscing. People with dementia (like the rest of us) want to connect and talk. Sharing memories is a happy activity.
  • Try not to force the person to remember things that happened recently. Doing so often creates frustration and agitation—for both of you.
  • Try using a familiar object to prompt conversation: a favorite book, a souvenir from a vacation, a “vintage” item of clothing.
  • Consider making a photo album that tells the person’s life story. You can make it together and revisit it often. Perhaps keep adding recent photos.

How to Stay Hydrated During the Hot Summer Months Tips for helping seniors get enough fluids in warmer weather

Everyone need water for countless physical reasons- from keeping joins moving to protecting organs. In hot weather, our bodies lose water more rapidly than usual and seniors are especially at risk. Senior adults have risk factors, such as a reduced sense of thirst and decreased kidney function, that can hinder the body’s ability to cope with warm temperatures or low hydration.

If you know a senior who shows signs of confusion, dry mouth, slurred speech, and altered behavior, especially in hot weather, you might mistake these as normal symptoms of age. But these signs might indicate the health-threatening effects of dehydration.

Studies show that even a 2 percent reduction in body water weight (only 3 pounds on a 150-pound person) can impair short-term memory, attention span, and visual-motor tracking.

For good health and optimal cognitive function during the summer months, these tips can help your senior loved ones stay well hydrated.

All fluids help. All fluids contribute to hydration, not just plain water. Tea, coffee, juices, milk, and soups add fluids—but not alcohol, which is severely dehydrating. The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, says the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.

Get water from foods. Eat foods that naturally contain water. Research shows that only 70 to 80 percent of our daily hydration needs to come from water; 20 to 30 percent can come from foods. All whole fruits and vegetables contain water, but these contain the highest amounts:

  • 97% water: Cucumbers
  • 96% water: Celery
  • 95% water: Tomatoes, radishes
  • 93% water: Red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • 92% water: Cauliflower, watermelon
  • 91% water: Spinach, strawberries, broccoli
  • 90% water: Grapefruit

Infuse water with natural flavors. Add slices of lemons, limes, oranges, berries, or cucumbers to pitchers of fresh water, and then refrigerate. You’ll have a refreshing, flavorful, natural beverage with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.

Use a refillable water bottle. Avoid throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment. Of the 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans buy each year, 80 percent end up in landfills. Instead, buy a BPA-free refillable water bottle, and keep the bottle nearby so your senior is more likely to sip throughout the day. Also, using just one refillable bottle helps seniors keep track of daily fluid intake.

Remember to stay hydrated this summer!