How to Overcome the Challenges of Moving to Assisted Living … Using TV Catchphrases

A few years ago, you bought a medical alert system for your older parent or relative. Then later, you added in-home care to help her with the activities of daily living. Now, you’re done with aging in place. She’s moving into assisted living.

When moving day arrives, emotions might be high—but risk should be low. Let’s look at everything you need to know to keep seniors safe during the move. To help with our journey, we’ve enlisted the help of our friend, the television.

And a one … and a two …  and awaaaay we go!How to Overcome the Challenges of Moving into Assisted Living ... Using TV Catchphrases

Ask her, “How you doin’?”

Moving into assisted living is a huge change, so don’t trivialize the impact. Acknowledge the emotions moving causes and don’t let those feelings of helplessness, anger and sadness simmer. Talk it out, frequently.

Don’t look back: “The tribe has spoken”

Make moving a collaborative process so that your loved one can be involved. After all, she is the one who’s actually moving. Work with her to organize and plan the move. It’s not about you doing it all or her doing it all. Do it together.

Once you’ve made the decision to move to assisted living, don’t look back. Don’t go 50 rounds once you’ve made the decision. This isn’t an occasion to keep asking, “Is that your final answer?” Make the call and move on.

“Just the facts, ma’am”

Don’t get fooled by sales talk or fancy brochures. Visit as many facilities as you can with your loved one. When you visit the facilities, examine all aspects of life. Never assume anything when you’re visiting—ask questions! Most importantly, use a checklist like this one to inspect the assisted living facility so you can compare the options available.

Talking to residents is one of the best ways to learn what it’s actually like to live at the facility, so don’t be shy to ask them questions! After your visit, talk with your loved one about what you both liked and disliked about each facility so you can choose the one that best fits both their needs and their wants.

“Move that bus”: How to get your home ready to sell

Your home may not need an extreme makeover, but now that you’ve chosen your ideal facility, it’s time to get your house ready to sell. Go through the house, clean it up, and make those small repairs that have been put off for years. You want your house to shine for prospective buyers! Work with a real estate professional to sell the house. It’s one less item that you have to manage, and you’ll make sure you’re getting full market value for the assets.

“Well, isn’t that special?” Bring the things that matter, but not everything

Moving into an assisted living facility means your loved one has to narrow down what they want to bring with them. First, talk to the facility to learn what is and is not allowed. Then you and your loved one need to have a talk—be careful not to assume what they want to take with them.

Make sure your loved one brings her favorite belongings. You want to avoid clutter, but you also want to recreate the feeling of home in the new space. Be careful of the temptation to buy your loved one completely new furniture for their new home—many older adults prefer to keep their favorite recliner or sleep in their own bed.

Finally, double-check that you have packed the basic, day-to-day items she will need. These include medication, shampoo, toothbrush and other toiletries. Pack enough clothing to fill the closets. Include enough underwear and socks so that there is always a clean set available. Bring sweaters for air conditioning, and nice outfits for socializing events.

Choosing which items to bring can be the most difficult part of this process. Your loved one will likely need to downsize. Keep up the conversation with her so that everything she needs to be happy and feel at home is packed to bring with her.

“Grab your gear” (Or better yet, have someone else grab it)

Once you’ve decided what your loved one is bringing with her, it’s time to get it over to the new place. Let a moving company take care of things. While they do the heavy lifting, you can go over the paperwork to update your loved one’s address with the post office and necessary companies. You want her to continue getting her mail!

“Hi, everybody!” Make some new friends

It can be hard to make friends as a senior. She doesn’t have to announce herself every time she enters a room at the new facility, but your mother will have to try a bit. Work with your loved one to create a friend strategy before you arrive. Encourage them to meet the neighbors. Look at all of the available activities and pick a few to try. Meeting new friends and staying busy will ease the transition and make living in the facility much more enjoyable.

Conclusion

You’re not Mighty Mouse. Your job isn’t to save the day. Just do a little planning and help her transition to assisted living. Bring your plan and do the work, and you’ll be just fine. Remember, with clear eyes and a full heart, you can’t lose.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is an NAHB Certified Aging In Place Expert and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home. As the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company, Shayne writes about issues that matter to seniors and those that care about them.

The Last Stop: On the Go

For nine installments, I’ve been describing my senior living experiences. This month, I want my readers to know how good it feels to get away. I feel fortunate that I have places to go, people who want to see me and that I can handle the unpredictable, challenging experience of travel.

So far, so good.Margery prepares for takeoff!

When I went to Beijing to visit my son, he suggested I order a wheelchair when I landed to get me to where he would be waiting. I was insulted and firmly told him I had no problem walking and he should know that. The truth is, he was travel-smart and I was dumb.

In a country where few understand my language and I don’t understand theirs, there is a huge risk of getting misdirected when traveling alone and not being able to ask anyone for help. He was so right and I was stupidly vain. I was sure glad I did what he told me anyway. I went from the plane to the wheelchair to his care without a hitch.

Read more about Margery’s travels, including some helpful advice for seniors who decide to hit the road, in “Part 11: On The Road.”

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

5 Tips to Help Seniors Saving for Retirement

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 28 percent of retirees feel they have enough money saved up for their retirement. It’s probably safe to assume that the rest of those folks are dealing with a significant amount of stress.

The older we get, the harder it is to pull in any income, meaning that your sunset years could be obscured by a stormy horizon. Not to fear, though—there are several things seniors can do to generate more cash, or spend less of it, after they’ve retired. Check out these five tips.

1. Cut Your Food CostsTips to Help Seniors Saving for Retirement

If you’re not clipping coupons from the Sunday paper to save on groceries, start now. It’s a tried-and-true method of conserving funds, and it’s just as effective as it was when you were younger. If you know your way around a smartphone, try out apps like Grocery Pal and Checkout 51. Like to eat out at restaurants? Visit deal-of-the-day websites like Groupon and LivingSocial to get 50-percent-off vouchers for restaurant trips.

2. Get Healthier

According to Fidelity, the average 65-year-old couple who retired last year can plan on spending $220,000 on healthcare expenses throughout their retirement. Although I don’t dispute that number, I firmly believe it’s possible to spend significantly less. Join the YMCA (the Silver Sneakers program may be offered for free) or start a workout program at home. Get active and you can not only live longer, you can lower your health insurance costs, to boot.

3. Reduce Entertainment Expenses

My mom is 82 years old. Sure, she could spend her money on theater tickets and fancy restaurants, but instead she invites all of her kids over every other Saturday for a fun game night—a great, inexpensive way to spend time with the ones she loves.

You can also save money by cutting the cable cord and signing up for Hulu Plus or Netflix. Or, rent movies from Redbox for a little more than $1 per day. There are countless ways to cut your entertainment costs during retirement, so don’t let pricier options fritter away at your nest egg.

4. Save on Travel

Use websites like BookingBuddy or CheapOair to track flight prices and save on airfare. Your preferred airline’s website may also offer a cheap rate that won’t necessarily be advertised elsewhere. Travel during the week when possible, book your flights from Monday through Thursday when most sales are going on, and combine luggage to save on checked bag fees.

5. Get Rid of a Car

Got two cars? You probably don’t need both of them. Even if you only have one, though, think seriously about selling it. If your neighborhood has a decent public transit system, you might be able to get around without a set of wheels altogether. You can not only save on gas by making this move, but also insurance, upkeep and a variety of other expenses associated with automobile ownership.

Drumming up extra money during retirement isn’t an easy task. Banking institutions are not going to offer you retirement loans, and your kids are probably dealing with their own financial difficulties. Do what you can today to drum up more money for your golden years and you just might find that the retirement you’re hoping for is within reach.

What other tips do you know of for retirees who need more money?

Martin Davis writes about senior living, retirement savings, investing, and smart money management.

Innovations in Fall Prevention Interventions: Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Fall prevention for older adults has long been a focus of senior-related programs and services. You’ll find ample information online for seniors and caregivers, such as information on getting a fall risk assessment, fall prevention exercises, or even fall prevention checklists for a safer home environment.Preventing Falls in the Elderly

But it’s not enough. Every year, one in every three adults 65 and older will fall, according to the National Safety Council. So researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago are taking matters into their own hands with an innovative approach to fall prevention: tripping seniors intentionally to train them to avoid falls in the first place.

Falls in the elderly are a serious health risk

A minor trip or fall is one thing, but falls in older adults can lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures and even head trauma, which take months to recuperate from and often leave seniors with permanent disabilities.

In fact, NIHSeniorHealth, a website providing aging-related information to older adults created by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), names hip fractures as the leading cause of injury and loss of independence among older adults.

Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) names falls as the leading cause of both non-fatal and fatal injuries among older adults.

In short, it’s a very serious concern for seniors and their loved ones. Fortunately, many falls are preventable, and increased fall prevention is precisely what researchers are trying to achieve with this new program.

Program promotes subconscious learning

According to MedicalXpress, this new approach is based on, “promising, preliminary results with a lab-built walkway that causes people to unexpectedly trip, as if stepping on a banana peel.”

The same concept is being tested with computerized treadmills, and if it works, researchers hope to place specially-designed treadmills in physicians’ offices, health centers and physical therapy clinics to train older adults to avoid future falls.

Clive Pai, a physical therapy professor leading this innovative research effort, says this program focuses on subconscious learning, whereas more traditional fall prevention methods have emphasized muscle training and improvements in range of motion.

The traditional methods do produce some results, but it can take many months of therapy and exercise to adequately strengthen muscles in some patients.

Intentionally tripping older adults proves promising for fall prevention

The research is funded by a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging and hopes to enroll 300 participants within the next five years. It’s promising because the process promotes implicit learning and so far, has proven to train older adults adequately within much shorter time frames than traditional fall prevention techniques.

In preliminary research, participants were strapped to a harness—which helped them maintain their upright position if needed—and hooked up to sensors that would analyze their movements. Research students pressed a button that caused a sliding walkway to move suddenly, forcing participants to struggle to regain their balance.

The results of this preliminary research showed that 24 provoked “trips” in a single session reduced participants’ chances of falling outside the lab setting by 50 percent up to one year later. This research shows promise, although it will likely require several more years of rigorous study to prove its true effectiveness.

More research on fall prevention on the way

Additionally, Medical Xpress reports that the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a $30 million research effort. This research will evaluate other, mostly conventional fall prevention interventions that can be tailored and adapted to the individual risk profiles and needs of older adults to reduce the number of serious and even minor injuries from falls in the senior population.

As a part of this effort, researchers hope to enroll 6,000 older adults—age 75 and older—at 10 centers throughout the United States.

Fall prevention tips you can use today Exercise for fall prevention

While researchers are working in cooperation with the government to create more effective fall prevention techniques for older adults, there are some steps that you can take today to help protect your elderly loved ones against devastating falls.

  • Participate in muscle-strengthening and balance-reinforcing exercises regularly.
  • Avoid wearing bifocals or multi-focal glasses while walking.
  • Give your home environment a safety run-through, checking for cluttered furniture, loose rugs, cords and other hazards.
  • Add handrails to bathrooms, hallways and other areas where falls are likely.
  • Enhance lighting options in dim areas, and make sure it’s easy to activate lights.
  • Get regular vision exams.
  • Talk with your physician about medication side-effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Use a cane or walker if needed for better balance.

Get more fall prevention tips with this helpful fall prevention checklist from the National Safety Council and by reading our article on Preventing Falls and Brain Injury.

Joan’s Journey: One Senior’s Journey Motivates Another

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers! I write this on a lovely, sunny Sunday in Santa Monica. I have a big smile on my face and I’m delighted to share why with you.

First, I’m happy and content after spending Friday afternoon at the fabulous Santa Monica Pier and Beach with my grandson Oliver, 4, and granddaughter Madeline, 1. Oliver threw five balls at the Game Park and won a toy whale for himself and a giraffe for his sister. In terms of quality time spent with my grandchildren, moving to senior living and changing my lifestyle is ever so worth it.

The second reason I’m in a good mood is that our activity director, Brenda Martinez, declared today “Grandparents Appreciation Day” at Holiday Villa East (HVE). We had a delightful social hour, with lovely tables set with pretty dishes and flowers. Iced peach tea, hot tea and lemon, blueberry and sesame cakes were delicious companions to the conversations.

Third, I’m smiling from a lovely email I received from my SeniorHomes.com Care Advisor, Cindy Fox. I had the pleasure of working more than two years with Cindy as my Care Advisor. Cindy patiently guided me in identifying appropriate senior residences that fit the criteria we jointly determined, including location, budget and degree of independent living.

Cindy brings a smile to my face because, after much deliberation and following Joan’s Journey, Cindy is relocating to senior living. Cindy’s email is so expressive and heartfelt, that with her permission, I am sharing her thoughts with Joan’s Journeyers. Sharing experiences helps decision-making. SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your senior living relocation experiences with us in the Comment Box below.

Cindy Speaks

“Seems like this is the time for change in our lives. We reach a certain age and suddenly have the need to be closer to family. As I am quickly approaching 61, I too have had an awakening that is moving me in new directions.

“I have decided to relocate back East to be there for my 82-year-old mom and closer to my daughter and 3-year-old grandson. Being on the West Coast, while they are on the East Coast, has made it difficult to visit and have meaningful time together. I am putting my strong aversion to the East Coast winters aside and leaving in less than a week. I will be driving across country with books on tape and good music as companions. I hope to complete the journey in four days or less!

“I am looking forward to being present for my mom during her final years and having more time with my grandson. I am sure you [Joan] are feeling the same. I hope life continues to bring magical moments. Thanks for sharing your Journey with me. I have and will continue to enjoy hearing about you on your blog!”

Joan’s Journey and SeniorHomes.com wish Cindy and all journeyers much joy and happiness as they relocate close to those they hold most dear.

In the next Joan’s Journey, we move from celebrating life to celebrating death—a real dynamic of living in a senior residence—and one I never considered on my journey. Accidents, illness, dying, and death are part of the senior community rhythm. How a residence deals with these realities is important as one investigates senior living. Until the next post, enjoy the Journey, day-by-day.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, now specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren. Follow all of Joan’s Journey at SeniorHomes.com.

Kicking Off National Assisted Living Week: Great Things Happening in Communities Across the U.S.

Yesterday, Sept. 7, kicked off National Assisted Living Week 2014. This year’s theme is “The Magic of Music,” which, according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), “showcases the integral role that music plays in assisted living residences every day.”The Magic of Music logo

This year’s theme: “The Magic of Music”

“The Magic of Music” theme gives some credibility to the multitude of studies that show music can have positive impacts on people of all ages. “For older individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, music often has a soothing effect and can also trigger memories long dormant,” according to the NCAL’s Planning Guide & Product Catalog. “Music has the potent ability to enchant and provides the listener with moments of comfort and joy.” This is a phenomenon we’ve talked about before here on the SeniorHomes.com blog.

And, the right music can get anyone up and moving – like this handsome gentleman whose impressive moves quickly garnered the attention of a few lovely ladies:

Assisted living communities are where it’s at this week

Paradise Village in San Diego is just one of many communities with a fun-filled week packed full of lively events planned to celebrate National Assisted Living Week throughout the week. Among their celebrations? An interpretation of Latin music through the dance of Tango, which kicks off the start of the week – which also happens to be Grandparent’s Day.

On Wednesday, the community will host its very own Prom Night, with military guests joining the dance. Other events include a fashion show and students from the San Diego Academy joining residents for song, along with bands and soloists set to entertain all through the week.

Epoch Assisted Living at Melbourne in Pittsfield, MA is hosting an event called “Music and Memories,” featuring June Green and Doug Schmolze, who are performing an interactive music program designed to evoke memories today, Sept. 8. Later in the week, an art opening with Rosemary Daly, featuring Daly’s scenes of the Berkshires, will be held at Epoch, and Daly’s work will remain on display throughout September. And on Wednesday, a drumming event will be held with Aimee Gelinas, according to The Berkshire Eagle.

The Sunrise at Fleetwood is holding a patriotic sing-a-long event, sponsored by Veterans Financial Inc., a financial services company offering education to seniors about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Aid and Attendance Pension. The event is open to families of residents, volunteers, staff and their families, and the surrounding community, and will be held on Thursday, Sept. 11.

More ways to celebrate “The Magic of Music”

Each year, the NCAL puts out a comprehensive guide outlining the current year’s theme with some ideas for fun and unique activities that engage both residents and staff, as well as family members and members of the broader community.

This year, in light of “The Magic of Music” theme, NCAL recommends tying in some music therapy concepts to activities programs and even daily interactions with residents, pointing to the growing body of research and everyday experiences that prove beyond doubt that music can evoke deep memories even in individuals with severe memory impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association has some excellent tips and resources for using music in therapeutic ways. Check out this article and this one for some ideas and insights.

Let’s not forget about the value of music in encouraging physical activity. It’s difficult for anyone to stand still when a favorite tune starts playing, so NCAL suggests using the power of music to get residents up and moving this week with fun activities like, “Sweat’n to the Oldies,” an idea that incorporates upbeat, lively music into regular exercise programs offered at communities, or even allowing residents to select their favorite songs from days gone by as the backdrop for the day’s physical fitness program.

Other residents may enjoy a gathering where favorite songs from their lives are discussed, along with the story behind the songs and the song’s significance to their own lives. Many people have songs with significance, such as their wedding song, a song that reminds them of high school, or a song that evokes memories of a long-lost love. This activity is a great way to get residents talking about the events that shaped their lives, and it’s one with the potential to get even the most tight-lipped residents opening up and engaging in conversation.

One thing is for sure: We’d sure like to be a resident in some of these assisted living communities, because it sounds like this week is set to be a blast! What’s your community doing to celebrate National Assisted Living Week this year? Tell us about your plans to celebrate “The Magic of Music.”

Overcoming the Roadblocks of Aging: The Surprising Lessons from “Downton Abbey”

The days of butlers, footmen and personal valets are long past, but technology can provide a great array of substitutes to make aging in place more comfortable and manageable than ever before. It’s almost as nice as having a staff at Downton Abbey.

How do today’s technologies measure up to living in the famed manse? See for yourself!

How to clean your home efficiently: Mrs. Hughes vs. Roomba

Mrs. Hughes is delightful—warm, loving and loyal. But when it comes to cleaning house, Roomba gives her and her staff of housemaids some good competition. The zippy robot 'Downton Abbey' vs. technologyvacuum traverses your rooms to pick up dirt, hair and dust without complaint. When it needs charging, it heads over to its docking station for a rest. You hardly know it’s around, except that your floors are free of debris!

How to entertain yourself: Miss Sarah O’Brien vs. Netflix

Lady’s maids are a great help around the chamber—and an even better source of gossip and company. Today, seniors have Netflix to take O’Brien’s place. For only $8.99 a month, the world’s entertainment is at your fingertips. OK, so the TV cannot make your bed and brush your hair. But in terms of entertaining you without fail, and without getting tired, “Orange is the New Black” cannot be beat!

How to get from point A to point B: Tom Branson vs. Uber

Private drivers are the ultimate luxury. If you were Lady Grantham, you could summon your footman to ready your carriage and to run you across town. But having a private driver is hardly a thing of the past. Uber, a car service accessible to anyone with a smartphone, provides you with an army of private drivers who are ready to run you just about anywhere your heart desires. They are, as they say, “Everyone’s private driver.” Plus, you never have to worry about Uber running away with your daughter.

What’s wrong with me, doctor? Dr. Clarkson vs. HealthTap

Dr. Clarkson is the well-meaning Crawley family doctor. Unfortunately, he’s often proven incorrect. Rather than taking the word of one physician, modern seniors can trust the wisdom of crowds. HealthTap gives you free access to advice from thousands of trusted doctors, available 24/7/365. Ask any question free and anonymously. Pay a monthly subscription and you will get unlimited live consultations with physicians. Doctors can now make house calls through your phone and computer.

Cooking for seniors at home: Mrs. Beryl Patmore vs. the Yummly app and your microwave

You have to love dear old Mrs. Patmore and her sumptuous feasts! When the ingredients fail or work of the younger cooks falter, Mrs. Patmore unleashes her fury. Imagine how much easier her life would be if she could use her smartphone and the Yummly app like modern seniors can. Yummly helps search for recipes by ingredient, course and taste preference. Missing ingredients? Yummly can understand which ingredients you have and suggest the perfect recipe for what’s in your fridge.

On top of that, today’s seniors have an advantage Mrs. Patmore lacked—a microwave to speed their culinary creations! It cooks quickly, evenly, and without reliance on heated elements or hot surfaces that pose safety risks. It offers unprecedented convenience and luxury.

Conclusion

Downton runs into trouble because the Earl of Grantham is slow to embrace new technology. Luckily, he has smart daughters and a large staff to help him overcome life’s roadblocks. Learn from his mistakes; embrace these new technologies and make aging in place a breeze.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pa., with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

 

Want to Tour a Senior Housing Community? Here’s Some Help

So, you’ve started the search for senior housing, and may have even narrowed down your list to a handful of possibilities. That’s fantastic. But there’s still lots of work to do to find that perfect community, and the task can sometimes seem daunting.

One vital step that can not be overlooked is visiting a community in person. And, really, one visit often isn’t enough. A first visit will usually be a scheduled tour, which is a good way to get an overall view of a community and to ask questions of staff members. But a Happy senior couplesecond, unscheduled visit can also be extremely helpful. This visit can give

There are certain things you’ll want to look for on every tour, no matter what type of community you’re looking for. The neighborhood, the parking, the overall cleanliness, the safety features throughout, the quality of food, the size of an apartment-these are all things you’ll want to keep a close eye on during any visit to any community. And there are plenty of other things to watch out for, too.

But not every community is alike. Depending on the needs of you or your loved one, you may be looking for a community that specializes in assisted living, or memory care, or a nursing home. For that reason, SeniorHomes.com has tour checklists available for many different housing types:

When you think you’re ready to visit a community, we invite you to call one of our Care Advisors, who can help set up your tours and answer any other questions you may have. And when the time comes to take a tour, bring along one of our handy checklists to help spot things you may have otherwise missed.

Medicare’s 5-Star Rating System Under Fire

Medicare’s star-rating system for nursing homes, dubbed Nursing Home Compare, is no stranger to controversy. On its launch in 2008, the long-term care community was up in arms, criticizing the system’s lack of quality metrics that play a key role in resident satisfaction. And a new report by a major newspaper has brought critiques of the system back into the forefront.

New criticisms emerge pointing to flawed ratings

According to a recent article in The New York Times, “The Medicare ratings, which have become the gold standard across the industry, are based in large part on self-reported data by the nursing homes that the government does not verify.”

The article points out that only one of the metrics used to determine a nursing home’s star rating comes from independent reviewers: state inspection data. Staffing ratios and quality measures are self-reported by skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), opening the door for potential abuse of the system.

Criticisms of Nursing Home Compare are nothing new; the program has faced them since its inception. But the content of the complaints has changed course over the years.

Early criticisms of Nursing Home Compare

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) denounced Nursing Home Compare in a public statement, voicing the view that the program “is premised upon a flawed survey system that does not measure quality, lacks the inclusion of other important quality elements that help consumers make informed decisions, and includes inaccurate data.”

The general consensus was that nursing homes could be unfairly portrayed or perceived as providing a lower quality of care, based on technicalities that resulted in deficiencies on state inspections. In other words, a lower five-star rating could be assigned to a skilled nursing community that provides exceptional care, and providers were concerned that they’d lose potential residents as a result of such inaccurate ratings.

Nursing Home Compare

 

Ratings lack critical state complaint data

What’s more, Nursing Home Compare does not take into account complaints filed by consumers with state agencies or fines and other enforcement actions by individual states, only federal actions. The Times points to one community, Rosewood Post-Acute Rehab, a nursing home in a Sacramento suburb, which has maintained a perfect five-star rating for five years, a distinction held by just one-fifth of all nursing homes in the U.S.

But what this rating doesn’t disclose to consumers is the fact that Rosewood was fined $100,000 in 2013, the highest penalty possible, for an accidental, and unfortunately fatal, overdose in 2006. It also doesn’t tell consumers that there have been more than 100 complaints filed in California against this particular nursing home between 2009 and 2013.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, an organization which also tracks complaints, has documented 164 complaints for the same time frame against Rosewood. Officials from Rosewood point out that only a small portion of those complaints have ever been validated, but according to The New York Times, experts say that merely being the subject of that number of complaints is a sign of potential trouble.

But consumers need a clear metric for comparison

While there are some changes coming that will hopefully improve the validity of the Nursing Home Compare rating, such as the requirement that Medicare use payroll data to verify reported staffing levels (required under the Affordable Care Act), a process and system for doing so hasn’t yet been finalized. Best Senior Living Awards Winner Badge

Perhaps of major concern is the idea that a standard, industry-wide rating system is such a valuable metric for consumers. It provides a single point of comparison to help families wade through what can otherwise be a confusing and overwhelming decision-making process. That’s why SeniorHomes.com has created the Best Senior Living Awards, an independent, third-party rating system for assisted living, independent living, and retirement communities.

The Best Senior Living Awards rating system utilizes the opinions of independent senior living experts, along with reviews from residents, staff, and family members, and other quantifiable metrics like state inspection data, to calculate a standard score that consumers can use to easily compare their top communities. Additionally, written reviews are publicly available on SeniorHomes.com, providing consumers with in-depth opinions from others with real-world experience with these communities. Visit any community’s profile on SeniorHomes.com, such as Dunwoody Pines in the Greater Atlanta, Georgia metro area, and access reviews submitted by residents, family members, and staff. And, if you have experience with a senior living community and would like to share your opinion with seniors and their families searching for senior housing options, visit our Post a Senior Living Review page to search for the community and submit your review.

There’s so much information out there about senior living options, yet the choice isn’t an easy one for seniors or their families. There’s a clear need for an independent, third-party rating system that provides a clear, straightforward rating taking into account both quality and compliance, quantitative and qualitative data. And that’s precisely what SeniorHomes.com aims to achieve.

Nursing Home Compare screenshot via Medicare.gov

Celebrate National Assisted Living Week with SeniorHomes.com!

By 2020, there will be an estimated 21 million seniors who are 75 and older in the United States. Behind this number will be families grappling with how to care for loved ones. When a family member needs support, it is instinctive to turn inward, for families to support each other and find the solution within the family. Yet that is often overlooking the support an outside partner can play in lessening the burden for all involved and making life a bit easier.

Many people still think that assisted living communities are nursing homes—and this could not be more wrong. Assisted living communities are filled with seniors National Assisted Living Week - Logo
in their 80s, 90s, and some even celebrating the century mark, who are still active and living independent lives. They visit zoos, attend plays and even kayak down a local river. The only difference which sets these seniors apart from their younger 60s and 70s counterparts is the need of supportive assistance to retain their independence.

This is why SeniorHomes.com is proud to recognize National Assisted Living Week, which runs from Sept. 7-13. The National Center for Assisted Living started National Assisted Living Week in 1995 to celebrate and honor relationships between residents, families and the dedicated staff members who provide person-centered care each and every day.

Every week we work with more than 1,000 consumers, answering their questions about what is assisted living and matching them to communities which deliver this person-centered care. And we partner with the most reputable senior living companies across the nation so families have options that will fit every budget and every state.

“We are proud of the role we play in helping seniors and families find the best community possible,” says Chris Rodde, CEO of SeniorHomes.com. “Our care advisors take the time to know each consumer and learn what type of support and lifestyle is wanted. Every week we receive a ‘thank you,’ whether from a senior or their family, for the help we provided in matching them to a community. Many never knew how rewarding life could be after moving into a community.”

We invite you to join SeniorHomes.com in recognizing National Assisted Living Week.