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Senior Living Search

Starting Your Senior Living Search: What to Have in Place

Are you in the initial stages of seeking senior living for yourself or your loved one? The process, especially in the beginning, may feel overwhelming; but if you have all of the right details in place and proper questions planned out, it can turn into a much less intimidating undertaking.

Give yourself a head start by arming yourself with preparation – which can also lead to a more ideal senior living match.

Budget

Of course, the cost of a senior living community is one of the most important components to consider. Be sure to factor in resources such as available funding, long term care insurance, Social Security benefits, veterans benefits, and so on.

Also remember to take into consideration the long term. While, for example, a senior may be in good health when they move into a community, it’s important to plan for potential future costs: pricier health care, more extensive nursing care, etc.

Paperwork

There is also some logistical paperwork to get in order before moving into a senior living facility. Figure out your (or your loved ones’) health care wishes in case of medical emergency, such as a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. All communities must have this on file for each resident.

Also in case of emergency, ensure that the potential resident has a health care or financial power of attorney (or both).

Wants vs. Needs

Particularly if this is a process involving the whole family, it’s vital for everyone to get on the same page. Location, for instance, is an important factor to consider: would the senior prefer to be in proximity to their current community – or is it more important to be close to family?

Also, consider health care needs compared to lifestyle needs. Especially if the senior living resident has underlying health issues, higher quality health care will need to be prioritized over community amenities.

In general, it’s important to figure out those things that you or your loved one cannot live without, versus the things that can be sacrificed if needed.

Questions? Concerns?

In preparation, have a list of questions for any potential senior living community. This will help address your needs more thoroughly and make it easier to compare facilities.

For any more inquiries you may have about senior living, contact us! We can provide detailed care plans for seniors to make the path of aging as smooth and simple as possible.

Community Precautions

What are assisted living communities doing to keep COVID away? 

Because of the high risks associated with COVID-19 among the elderly, assisted living communities are stepping up their practices to help reduce both the infection and the spread of the disease.

If a case hits a community, it can be very difficult to curb the spread, particularly in an enclosed space filled with so many people. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released a set of recommended guidelines for long-term care communities to follow – from staff education to physical distancing, to best sanitizing practices.

INCREASED CLEANING HABITS 

In general, assisted living staff are taking even greater cleaning measures to prevent the spread of germs; for example, staff are regularly disinfecting public areas that multiple residents may come into contact with – even more frequently than before.

Additionally, most states are either requiring or recommending that staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents. This includes face masks, gloves, eye protection, and even medical gowns. Residents are also recommended to wear cloth face masks whenever they’re around others in the building.

Further, before beginning each shift, staff members of many assisted living communities are required to pass screening protocols to check for illness.

VISITATION 

Communities have had to set up new protocols for visitors. Visiting hours may be reduced, or eliminated altogether. Some communities, on the other hand, have put up a plexiglass wall in the visiting area so that friends and family members can see and speak with their loved ones with the added safety of a barrier.

SOCIAL DISTANCING 

These days, everyone is encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines – a practice enforced even more firmly in assisted living communities.

Common areas, for example, may be set up differently, with more spread-out seating. The structure of meals, too, is different: communities may stagger mealtimes to prevent the dining room from getting too crowded. In other cases, communities may instead bring meals to residents’ rooms, or at least provide the option.

Activities have also changed, with either fewer events offered or a more distant setup. Some residents, for instance, now play bingo from their doorways!

IN CASE OF INFECTION 

In the event that a resident does come down with the coronavirus, there are procedures that assisted living communities are recommended to take. The resident is often self-isolated in their own living area, and other residents are also encouraged to self-isolate. Additionally, most states recommend that the community report any COVID-19 case to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).

Affording Care

Caregiving can be a major role on its own – taking on the duties of ADL (activities of daily living) assistance, medication reminders, and 24-hour monitoring. But caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia brings on a whole new set of issues.

And because of such intensive responsibilities, many family members find that a memory care center is the best solution for their loved one.

Designed specifically for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, memory care centers cater their communities to best suit the needs of those with memory loss. They offer programs and activities created for residents with dementia; staff are specially trained to handle issues specific to those with memory loss; and the communities are often laid out in a way that’s easily navigable, with extra security for those who may tend to wander.

WHAT IT COSTS

Because memory care centers are so hands-on and heavily monitored, they generally cost more than a standard assisted living community. Costs are dependent on a number of different variables, including community size and location, in addition to how comprehensive the needs of your loved one may be.

Prices vary per state; in general, however, the cost of memory care ranges between $3,500 and $8,000, with the national average at $5,000.

HOW TO PAY FOR IT

Don’t let the price tag deter you from looking further into memory care. Though it can be costly, there are ways to reasonably budget for the expenses.

  • Life Insurance: your loved one can sell their life insurance policy to a third party. That third party will pay the current value of the policy and, in turn, pay out the monthly premiums. They will then receive the death benefits upon your loved one’s passing.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: this insurance can also be used to cover the costs of memory care if your loved one has invested in it.
  • Home Equity: if your loved one owns a home, you may be able to sell it, rent it out, or take out a reverse mortgage.
  • VA Benefits: Aid & Attendance benefits, which are available to the veterans and their survivors who qualify, can be received in addition to pension. Benefits can be used if an individual is bedridden, has limited eyesight, needs assistance with ADLs, or lives in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity. This may reduce the cost of long-term care by up to $2,266 each month.
  • Private Pay: of course, if you and your family are able to afford the expenses out of pocket, private pay is the simplest and most straightforward way to offer payment.

Personalized Care Needs

The job of caregiving comes with a huge set of responsibilities – but caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s entails an entirely new set of obstacles.

As the disease progresses and their cognitive abilities decline, the unique needs of those with Alzheimer’s become larger and more difficult to meet. Because of the rigorous nature of it, you may find that caregiving becomes increasingly challenging – and that outside help is that much more pertinent.

CARE TAILORED TO INDIVIDUAL NEEDS

Different variables factor into the level of care an individual with Alzheimer’s may need. The progression of the disease, for example, might call for more thorough assistance. It also depends on the amount of time and care that you as the caregiver are able to provide.

Adult Day Center: These facilities provide daytime assistance, complete with meals, activities, and anything else an adult day center participant may require. If you simply need a few hours to yourself each day – to run errands, go to work, or catch up on other day-to-day tasks, a nearby center could be an ideal solution.

Home Care: Individuals with Alzheimer’s are generally more comfortable in their own spaces, making home care an attractive option for all involved. The levels of assistance offered by home care providers can range – from a few hours a day, to 24-hour care.

Nursing Care or Assisted Living: If your loved one gets to a point where they need more care and attention than you can provide, a nursing care or assisted living community might be the best path. Both of these options offer assistance with activities of daily living, and nursing care provides around-the-clock medical supervision as needed.

Memory Care: Often located in its own wing within a senior living community, memory care units cater to the specific needs of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Their staff is specially trained, and buildings incorporate extra security measures.

THE BENEFITS OF OUTSIDE HELP

These various forms of outside assistance will obviously benefit you as a caregiver; but, more importantly, they offer benefits to those living with Alzheimer’s as well.

First of all, these care options provide help from an individual specially trained in memory care. And, having a staff member available at all hours of the day increases personal safety and security – particularly for individuals prone to wandering. Most care options also give individuals a chance to socialize and engage with others; even with memory loss, socialization is proven to support brain health and reduce feelings of isolation.

All in all, this care can ensure that individuals with Alzheimer’s can have as much comfort and hospitality as they need.

The reality of care giving

Caregivers are often seen as the unspoken heroes of our world. Putting life aside to care for your aging loved one around the clock is no small feat.

The stress of caring for a loved one can become overwhelming, and very quickly. Particularly for full-time caregivers, there are no breaks in the day; no holidays; and, of course, no compensation. Caregiver burnout, in fact, is a very real condition; it’s caused by mental and physical exhaustion, fatigue, and the profound demands that caregiving brings.

Though often a labor of love, the job of caregiving is also a labor of necessity. It usually comes with little warning, and no preparation; and, especially for caregivers of those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the challenges are even greater.

It can be traumatic watching your loved one slowly forgetting minor things, losing cherished memories, or not recognizing friends and family.

Unfortunately, older-age dementia is all too common: according to a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25% of caregivers for adults over the age of 50 are caring for someone with dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment.

However, studies have also shown that learning about the underlying causes of dementia helps caregivers know what signs to look for upon the onset of the illness. Early detection can ensure that loved ones with dementia receive the proper care that they need.

IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP

Eventually, you may find that it becomes too much to handle on your own – and that’s okay! Caregiving for an individual with dementia can be extremely taxing, and it’s normal to want and need help; especially if you’ve been doing it for a while.

It may be time to consider alternative options.

A more extensive situation like assisted living, for example, maybe a better option for you and your family: around-the-clock care to ensure that your loved one is monitored and attended to as often as they need. But there are many courses of action for you as a caregiver to explore! And Eldercare Connections is here to guide you through those very options. We know there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for any caregiver, which is why we offer individualized and detailed care plans for clients.