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.

Joan’s Journey: Senior Living Lights Up Life

A Joan’s Journey riddle: How many seniors does it take to hang a wall lamp?Joan London and her new lamp

A) Three

B) Two

C) One

D) None

If you guessed “D,” you are correct. How does a wall lamp get mounted in a senior residence, if no senior hangs it?

Simple! At Holiday Villa East (HVE), a senior housing community in beautiful Santa Monica, Calif.—and my new home—the capable and consistently available maintenance men hang lamps, arrange furniture, fix ceiling fans and assist with every maintenance task under the sunny beach-area sun. In addition, housekeepers, aides, front-desk and kitchen staff cheerfully provide residents with comfortable, homelike amenities. Whether eating with companions in the attractive dining room or enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner in one’s own space, an easy, relaxed lifestyle abounds.

To read the rest of Joan’s post, and to get a glimpse into her living quarters, visit the latest installment of Joan’s Journey, “Part 21: Senior Living Lights Up Life.”

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle newspaper correspondent, is a freelance medical and social service writer. London recently moved from Baltimore to a senior housing residence in Santa Monica, Calif., where she is closer to her children and grandchildren. Follow her series, Joan’s Journey, on SeniorHomes.com.

 

Older Adult Bullying is On the Rise: How to Cope

Bullying isn’t a problem isolated to kids and teenagers. It’s an issue that spans every age demographic, but as the population ages, it’s becoming an increasingly common problem among senior citizens—particularly those living in communal living settings such as assisted living or independent living.Older adult bullying

Older adult bullying can take many different forms, from offensive jokes to whispering when the victim enters a room, isolating an individual by reserving seats in the dining room and excluding one or more people intentionally, and even actual physical violence. Seniors are sometimes already suffering from depression or feelings of isolation, or perhaps grieving the loss of a spouse or loved one, making older adult bullying a particularly concerning problem.

For senior living communities tasked with providing a warm, comfortable, home-like environment for residents, older adult bullying situations can lead to awkwardness and tension that impacts the well-being of every resident, including those not directly involved in bullying as a victim or perpetrator.

Experts like Dr. Linda Rhodes, a former Secretary of Aging and author of “The Essential Guide for Caring for Aging Parents,”suggest a proactive approach to managing bullying, having residents sign standards of conduct agreements and setting clear expectations regarding bullying behaviors. Senior living communities should also conduct periodic needs assessments to pinpoint potential problem areas before situations escalate, and staff should engage in ongoing discussion to identify concerning behaviors to intervene before they lead to bullying.

If you suspect that your loved one is being bullied, or if your loved one expresses feelings of isolation or discomfort due to the actions of others in her community or social circles, there are some coping strategies for you, as well. Visit our article, Coping with Older Adult Bullying in Senior Living Communities, to learn more about older adult bullying and what you can do as a staff member in a senior living community or  a family member of an aging loved one.

Team SeniorHomes.com Joins In the Ice Bucket Challenge in Support of the ALS Foundation

You can’t visit social media these days without seeing images of people everywhere dumping buckets of ice water over their heads.

SeniorHomes.com takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Team SeniorHomes.com takes the Ice Bucket Challenge!

What’s with all this ice-bucket madness? The Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral and taken the Internet by storm in support of the ALS Association, with good-natured friends and supporters choosing to subject themselves to freezing-cold water and challenging their friends and loved ones to do the same by nominating them in their own ice water-dumping videos.

The idea is that you can donate to the ALS Association as a means to opt-out of the ice water stunt, but it turns out that there are thousands of people up for a good challenge who are also charitable: Many participants do both.

Ice Bucket Challenge raises millions for ALS Association

Not only is the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness of ALS, but it’s produced millions of dollars in donations for the ALS Association — as of August 21, 2014, the total topped $41.8 million, nearly a 25 percent increase from just 24 hours before ($31.5 million as of August 20, 2014).

Last year at this time, the Association had received about $1.9 million in donations, marking a substantial increase in funds that can be used to further research and search for a cure for this devastating disease.

What exactly is ALS?

The U.C. San Diego School of Medicine estimates that about 30,000 people in the U.S. are living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) at any given time. You may be more familiar with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” a moniker commonly used to refer to ALS, which is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord,” according to the ALS Association. About 5,600 people are newly diagnosed with the disease each year.

ALS is a progressive disease, with many patients becoming paralyzed as motor neurons degenerate, resulting in the loss of the brain’s ability to control and coordinate muscle movement. ALS is a devastating, fatal disease, and there is currently no cure.  The average life expectancy for a person newly diagnosed with ALS is two to five years, although it is a variable disease. Life expectancy actually ranges from two to 20 years, sometimes even more:

  • More than half of those diagnosed with ALS will live for three years or more.
  • 20% of people diagnosed with ALS will live five years or longer.
  • Up to 10% will survive for more than 10 years.
  • 5% will live 20 years.

The ALS Association also points out that, “There are people in whom ALS has stopped progressing and a small number of people in whom the symptoms of ALS reversed.” While this provides a glimmer of hope, it’s not enough. That’s the driving force behind the Ice Bucket Challenge: More research can identify better treatments, increase the life expectancy of a larger proportion of ALS patients, and ultimately, produce a cure.

SeniorHomes.com joins the fight and takes the Challenge!

SeniorHomes.com CEO, Chris Rodde

SeniorHomes.com CEO, Chris Rodde

And that’s the reason why Team SeniorHomes.com has joined the fight by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Our COO, Jay Goldstein, was nominated by a friend and dumped a big bucket of ice-cold water over his head and, in turn, nominated our CEO, Chris Rodde. From there, it became a team effort — captured, of course, on video for your viewing pleasure.

But there’s one more video we think you should watch. It’s this one. Why? Because we could never convey the real purpose and the value behind all of this in the same way that this man has. It’s both hilarious and moving — so watch, learn, and share.

SeniorHomes.com Ranks In the Top 1,000 Companies in the Inc. 5000

SeniorHomes.com is thrilled to announce that the company has been recognized in the prestigious Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for 2014. To qualify for inclusion, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2010, and rankings are based on revenue growth from 2013 as compared to 2010 revenue. SeniorHomes.com lands at No. 678, representing a growth of 670 percent in the three-year period between 2010 and 2013.Inc. 5000 logo

This is an exciting accomplishment, as the Inc. 5000 is a widely-respected and recognized ranking of privately-owned companies that has catapulted many brands to widespread success in the past. Brands that are now household names, such as Domino’s Pizza, Dell, Yelp and many others, were recognized in the Inc. 5000 while they were still startups with tons of potential.

There are a few factors contributing to this success. First, a growing elderly population and increasing numbers of family caregivers mean there are more people navigating the at-times-confusing landscape of senior housing and senior care. Companies like SeniorHomes.com provide a valuable, free service to these families who aren’t sure where to turn for help or how to begin their search. Second, SeniorHomes.com has worked hard to cultivate and maintain a positive, supportive company culture throughout phases of rapid growth and the inevitable challenges that statups face along the path to success.

“When people talk about the Inc. 5000, they talk about innovation,” says Chris Rodde, CEO of SeniorHomes.com. “At SeniorHomes.com, we emphasize a company culture that motivates our already-exceptional team to reach higher and achieve more. We try to cultivate an environment in which our team feels empowered to develop and pursue ideas that drive our company forward – a difficult thing to achieve in the modern business world – and that’s where true innovation lies, in the power of the collective.”

Our exceptional team is comprised of: compassionate and talented Care Advisors working with seniors and caregivers every day; expert writers who provide valuable content to help seniors and their families understand the many complexities of senior housing, senior care and aging; developers who work tirelessly to build and maintain the comprehensive national database and community rating system; and the many supporting staff members who handle various important tasks day in and day out. We all work together in a supportive and collaborative environment to ensure that SeniorHomes.com provides the best possible resources and services for the aging population.

All of this, of course, works in tandem to further the mission and realize the vision of our executive leadership team, who are responsible for cultivating a culture in which every employee feels valued and empowered to thrive. So far, it’s proven to be a winning combination, and we look forward to many more successes in the future as we continue to implement new ideas and find more innovative ways to provide valuable services to seniors and their loved ones.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of SeniorHomes.com!

The Last Stop: With Technology, We Try

I think our grands and great-grands find current technology easier than using a knife, fork or spoon. We marvel at them. Technology is not a challenge for children and teenagers; it's a way of life.

In contrast, my age-mates and I find new technology an ongoing struggle. We end up cursing at our smartphones and comp

uters and wish for the olden days.

I find that at my retirement community, computer frustration is a regular part of dinner conversation.

Read more about Margery’s efforts to become more tech-savvy—and why some of her friends choose not to embrace technology—in “Part 10: With Technology, We Try.”

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.”

Marijuana Laws Throw a Monkey Wrench in Senior Living Operations

The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has created some interesting challenges for the senior living industry, only further complicated by the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington State.

With state and federal laws clashing in states which have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, senior living operators in these states must carefully craft policies to minimize legal risk. And that, it seems, is no simple matter. Medical marijuana challenges assisted living

While the Obama Administration has taken the stance that the federal government will not—and federal prosecutors should not—penalize prescribing physicians or approved patients or caregivers in states which have passed laws legalizing marijuana, it’s unclear what the future holds and presently, the government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. That means it’s deemed to have a high potential for addiction and has “no currently accepted medical use.”

Senior living providers are taking approaches ranging across the spectrum, with some permitting the use of medicinal marijuana but not centrally storing or dispensing it as they would another prescription medication. In this case, residents using marijuana for medicinal purposes must have a caregiver who can assist and obtain it via a third-party, outpatient provider — but these circumstances aren’t free of obstacles, either.

For some providers, the risk is too great to take, and they opt to prohibit the use of medical marijuana within their communities altogether to play it safe.It’s an interesting landscape that’s sure to change in the coming years, and will likely be a heavily-debated issue in the next presidential election. Until then, the policies of individual senior living providers are the determining factor in whether it’s possible to use marijuana for medical purposes as a resident in a senior living community.

For more on this widely-debated issue and where the current regulations stand, check out our article on the impacts of the legalization of marijuana on the senior living industry.

 

 

 

 

Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate: Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs in the Elderly a Growing Concern

You’ve probably heard devastating news stories about teens with promising futures dying of drug overdoses. No one likes to hear these stories, yet they’re becoming all-too common in society today.

What we don’t hear about is prescription drug abuse and other illicit drug use among senior citizens, yet it’s a growing problem that shouldn’t be ignored. Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

In fact, the misuse of prescription medications can be even more dangerous in the elderly due to physiological and psychological changes that occur with aging that make seniors more vulnerable to overdoses. A slower metabolism and lower body water content, for example, mean higher concentrations of substances in the body, which can lead to an overdose even with lower doses of medication than what typically leads to an overdose.

A recent article in USA Today shed light on what is a problematic practice in the healthcare community with dangerous consequences: Many seniors suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, and other age-related issues, and physicians readily — perhaps too readily — prescribe narcotics and anti-anxiety medications to provide symptomatic relief. But when multiple doctors begin prescribing painkillers, and seniors develop a tolerance to their medications, self-medicating with higher doses to achieve the same symptomatic relief is an easy solution to the immediate problem. What many seniors don’t realize, however, is that they’re creating a dangerous physical and even psychological dependence on prescription drugs.

Faced with the choice between suffering and the possibility of easy relief, most of us would choose the latter. For more information about the rising incidence of prescription drug misuse in older adults, what to look for if you suspect a loved one is misusing prescription medications, and why seniors are sometimes more likely to develop an addiction, read our article, “Prescription Drug and Substance Abuse Among Seniors on the Rise.”

Four Smart Strategies from Derek Zoolander that Can Help You Prevent Senior Dehydration

As Derek, the title character in “Zoolander,” said, “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” His words were silly, but his intentions were not.

Proper hydration is essential to life. More than half of our bodies are water. Water helps us digest food, keeps joints working properly and maintains blood pressure and body temperature. But many Americans—and many seniors—still do not drink enough water. Elderly dehydration is common both in assisted living or aging-in-place scenarios.

In this post, we’ll discuss dehydration matters and why seniors are at such great risk. Then, you’ll learn four smart strategies from Derek Zoolander to help prevent senior dehydration.

“I’m a hot little potato right now!”

Dehydration is a major problem for seniors and a leading contributor to elderly
hospitalizations. Thirsty seniors have higher risks of falling and more cognitive difficulty. Also, dehydrated seniors face medical conditions like urinary tract
'Zoolander' star Ben Stillerinfections, kidney stones or constipation. Taken to extremes, severe water loss leads to heat stroke or even death.

Now, the worse news: The natural process of aging makes seniors even more susceptible to dehydration. As we age, our bodies hold less water and we are less aware of body temperature changes. This makes seniors less likely to take in fluids to self-regulate temperature.

Complicating matters, many seniors have difficulty swallowing, so drinking water becomes a painful chore. Further, some seniors restrict their water consumption because of fears of age-related incontinence. Finally, many medications that seniors take cause diuresis, sweating or reduced thirst.

Taken altogether, we’ve got a recipe for a perfect storm for dehydrated seniors. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from international male model Derek Zoolander.

1. The “How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read … if they can’t even fit inside the building?” technique

Derek rejected the school because it was too small for children to fit. But many seniors face the opposite problem. How can we be expected to make sure our seniors drink if they can’t even hold the cups?

Know that your seniors also have a certain set of skills, but those are different than they used to be. The 50-ounce Big Gulp that appeals to a 20-something may look like a Crock-Pot to a 70-something. Help them out by focusing on small amounts first.

Make sure your loved ones have appropriately sized cups, utensils and cutlery. Cups with handles or lids or straws may help them drink in a comfortable manner.

Bonus tip: Place small water bottles around the home for seniors to carry around and keep near their bed. This helps seniors with mobility or memory issues get easy access to water.

2. The “Orange Mocha Frappuccino” technique

Derek’s friends helped him sort through important issues over a few Orange Mocha Frappuccinos. Derek and company knew they could get fluids from non-water sources as well.

Ignore the old “eight glasses of water” rule. Savvy seniors consume fluids in many variations. Add lemon or fruit to water as a hydration hack to make water taste better. One note of caution, though: Seniors should steer clear of alcohol and sugary sports beverages. The former has diuretic effects and the latter may aggravate diabetes.

Seniors can also add fluids by having soup with every meal. Opt for water or broth based soups rather than cream based soups.

Also, many plant-based foods have high water content. Melons, grapefruit, strawberries and raw tomatoes are great natural sources. Throw in raw vegetables and you have a nutritious and hydrating combination.

3. The “Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude!” technique

When Zoolander needed help, his friend, actor Billy Zane, was there. Be like Billy, and be a friend to a senior in need.

Tell your senior to check his weight daily. Weight loss may be an early sign of dehydration. If he is down a pound, make sure he drinks it up. Also, ask your senior to check his urine color. Make sure his urine is lemonade colored or lighter.

Not everyone lives close enough to their senior to provide daily hydration reminders. Remote caregivers should consider a medical reminder service. Medical reminder services check in with your senior at the same time(s) every day. These systems help make sure he/she remembers to drink enough water (or take proper medications) every day.

4. The “You can read minds?” technique

In one of the most memorable scenes in the film, Zoolander mistakes Matilda for a clairvoyant.

Well, Matilda couldn’t read minds and neither can you.

Rather than try to intuit how much water your senior is drinking, find out for sure. Option number one is to ask on a weekly basis. Let’s try option number two.

Home water delivery services can help seniors get enough water. If you deliver two bottles of water each month, you can use the delivery amounts to ensure your senior is consuming enough water. If the bottles aren’t moving fast, then your senior isn’t drinking enough.

Conclusion

Derek Zoolander only had one skill, “being really, really, really good looking.” Perhaps you don’t have chiseled abs and perfect cheek bones. But, you can use the four techniques above and keep your senior “mer-man” safe and hydrated.

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.



Assisted Living Costs Out of Reach? Apply for a Silver Scholarship

Senior housing costs have skyrocketed in the past several years, leaving many families worried about how they’ll cover the costs of assisted living or independent living for themselves or an aging loved one. In fact, studies have shown that many people believe that Medicaid will cover the costs of senior housing.

In reality, Medicaid will cover only the cost of nursing home care under specific circumstances, and in most cases, only after the resident’s personal finances have been depleted. Personal assets such as real estate are sometimes considered assets as well, making selling the family home to cover the cost of long-term care a very real possibility for many.

Senior living costs are out of reach for many

If you plan ahead, you might be able to work these costs into your retirement fund or obtain long-term care insurance. While more people are becoming aware of the eventual costs they’ll likely face as they age, many of today’s seniors didn’t have the advantage of planning ahead and are therefore left without a financial cushion or option to fall back on when the time comes to consider moving to senior housing.

With the cost of living rising rapidly in many parts of the country, coupled with longer life expectancies, it’s becoming increasingly common for seniors to outlive their savings.

The Silver Scholarship Foundation offers financial help to seniors in need

The Silver Scholarship Foundation

One non-profit organization aims to help seniors facing these circumstances. The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s vision is to “eliminate the care versus cost dilemma faced by many older adults,” raising money via public grants and charitable fundraising to help aging adults cover the costs for essential care and services they need but simply cannot afford.

The Silver Scholarship Foundation offers funding to approved seniors to cover costs such as:

  • Private pay companions
  • Rent and/or utilities
  • Food
  • Home health care
  • Assisted living
  • Residential dementia care

How do you qualify for a Silver Scholarship?

To qualify for a Silver Scholarship, individual applicants must be at least 65 years old, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Require a higher level of care than currently received, such as Memory Care, but unable to afford the upgrade.
  • Nearing a financial crisis with financial resources totaling less than six months’ living expenses.
  • Considering moving out of Assisted Living or having recently moved out due to inability to cover costs.
  • A wartime Veteran or the spouse of a wartime Veteran waiting for an Aid and Attendance pension to be processed.

Florida senior living communities may apply for Silver Star Certification Silver Star Certification

Senior living communities in Florida can also apply to become “Silver Star Certified,” meaning current and future residents are eligible to receive a Silver Scholarship financial grant to help cover the cost of care in part or in full. Through this effort, The Silver Scholarship Foundation helps to remove the “need versus cost” obstacle facing many seniors today.

Silver Star Certification is more than just an acknowledgement that residents may participate in The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s financial assistance programs, but also indicates that the community meets The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s quality of care standards. Certification is awarded after a careful review of previous state inspection surveys, a review of any complaints issued against the community, references from residents, families, and senior living professionals, and a walk-through of the community by representatives of The Silver Scholarship Foundation.

Applicants screened on multiple factors

Applicants are screened based on a variety of factors, such as savings, the potential costs of required care, home ownership, recurring medical expenses, VA eligibility, work history, social security income and pensions, long-term care insurance policies, current living costs and more. The screening process is designed to reserve funds for seniors who are truly in need and are out of options to cover the cost of care.

The initial application is simple to fill out; you can find it here. Once approved, applicants will receive a financial grant in a predetermined amount.

The Florida-based non-profit is 501(c)(3) status pending, and at present is accepting applications from residents from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties in Florida. If you’re located in another area, don’t worry: New areas open for application will be announced over time, and you can keep checking here for updates.

What if you need help now?

If you’re not a Florida resident located in one of the areas presently being served by The Silver Scholarship Foundation, you do have other options. Check out our Senior Finance Center for dozens of articles on paying for senior living, what to expect in terms of the long-term care costs, and alternative financing options such as reverse mortgages and life settlements.

 

Images via The Silver Scholarship Foundation

Post by Angela Stringfellow