Archive for the ‘Senior Living News’ Category

Eight Tips for Survival in the Sandwich Generation

This is a guest post submitted by Lauren Hill, a contributing author for Lift Caregiving.

A growing number of retirement age adults are finding that the peaceful retirement which they had been saving and hoping for is at risk. There are some threats which you may already have planned for: a downturn in the economy or failing health could present difficulties when it comes to retirement. However, a new threat to enjoying your retirement years could affect you on two fronts. The term “sandwich generation” is one which more and more baby boomers are getting to know all too well.

Adding Parents to the Mix

The term refers to adults who are caring for their parents and their children. Many of the sandwich generation are bringing their parents into their homes and others are working to provide the necessary financing in order to support their parents in a long-term care facility. At the same time, the sandwich generation may be supporting their college-aged children or even opening their homes to adult children who have recently found themselves out of work.

Protecting Your Physical and Emotional Health

While you may have gladly opened your arms and homes to your elderly parents, the weight of caring for both children and parents can have a tremendous impact on your stress level. If you are bearing the burden of caring for your parents and your children, it may be some consolation to you to know that you are not alone. Just knowing that there are others in the same position as you isn’t enough to ease your burdens, however. You need to take steps to protect yourself from burning out. Taking time for yourself

Burn out may not even be your greatest risk. On-going research is finding that caregivers in the sandwich generation are much more likely to develop chronic illness than the general population. What can you do to protect your health in this situation?

1. Make time for yourself.

First of all, you need to be sure that you are getting enough rest. Without a good 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, you will eventually find that the level of care which you are providing is slipping. Eventually, your health will suffer as well. If you can’t get enough sleep at night, then take to sleep when your parent is napping.

A good night’s sleep isn’t enough on its own. Try to arrange for some time now and then when you are able to go shopping or have lunch with a friend. Even a ten-minute soak in the tub can improve your ability to resist becoming sick.

2. Keep the lines of communication open.

Conflicts are sure to develop from time to time. However, you can reduce the number of conflicts by talking openly with the different parties involved. Many members of the sandwich generation are finding that their marriages are suffering. One way to protect your marriage is to talk often with your spouse about goals, struggles, and each other.

It will also be important for you to communicate regularly with any siblings involved in the long-term care of your parents. You must come to the realization that you cannot do this on your own. Your siblings must come to this realization as well. The more that you are able to talk through this situation with your family, the better able each of you will be to share the burden.

3. Look for and accept help.

You might find that your parent enjoys time with some of your friends or siblings. If someone offers you a meal, then accept it. As your friends realize that you are providing care, they may naturally want to reach out with supportive gestures. You, and your parents, will be better off when you are able to accept that support.

Enlist help from your kids. Involving your family, when appropriate, can ease your burden and help everyone to realize some of the benefits of having your parents around.

It is also okay for you to tell people “no” from time to time. Understand your limits and don’t feel bad about letting people know that you are caring for your parent and sometimes other activities will have to be put to the side.

4. Locate resources.

In a similar vein, you should look for supportive resources in your community. You may be able to find a support group. You might also have access to a respite program or an in-home caregiver from time to time. There may even be benefits available to you through your workplace. When you accompany your parent to doctors’ visits, you may want to ask the doctor about resources which are available in the community. You may also benefit from resources available to you through the Internet:

5. Visit with professionals.

You will naturally want to have relevant discussions with your parent’s doctor, but there are other professionals for you to get to know.

  • Ask the pharmacist about medications that your parent is taking.
  • Talk with a financial planner in order to protect yourself and your future financially.
  • Consider talking with a therapist about the stress which you are experiencing.

The more information you are able to gather, the better prepared you will be to prevent trouble.

6. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet.

Protecting your physical health is much easier when you are feeding your body the nutrients it needs to function. Take time to sit down to three well-balanced meals a day. Pack your meals full of protein, vegetables, and nutrients to give you the energy that you need throughout the day.

7. Squeeze in some time for exercise.

Even just ten minutes of exercise a day can increase your endorphins and improve your mood. What can you do in just a few minutes?

  • Stretch
  • Take a walk
  • Play with your dog
  • Dance to a song on the radio
  • Practice some tai chi or yoga
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Over time, you’ll notice that your physical and emotional health will benefit from the exercise which you have been able to build into your day.

8. Allow room for mistakes.

The realization that you are only human and that you are starting out on a new situation can help you at the end of each day to accept your own best efforts. There will be times when you and your parent will be at odds. You might make mistakes along the way. Dwelling on your mistakes won’t make the situation any better. Forgive yourself and move on.

Lauren Hill is a contributing author for Lift Caregiving, a company offering support to caregivers in the Richmond, VA area.


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Health Tech, Wearable Gadgets in the Spotlight at CES 2014

For many of us, the New Year brings a sense of renewal, motivation to meet our goals in the coming year, a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and a whole bunch of optimism and feel-good vibes.For technology enthusiasts, it also brings the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where gadget makers show off their latest mind-boggling innovations in Las Vegas. This year, the health and fitness sector is getting a lot of attention, as more wearable devices that help us get and stay healthy and tools for managing health and wellness are beginning to reach the market. This year’s event wrapped up last week, on January 10th.

Aging technology solutions is a growing market

Fox Business cites the aging population as a driver behind the growing trend. “Three medical technology stories to watch in this arena will be wearable technologies for fitness, aging-in-place technologies, and real-time monitoring, which all tackle problems stemming from an aging population and facilitate a digital transition to a more consumer-centric approach to healthcare,” says author John D. Korry. Tech for Seniors

Healthcare consumers are now more informed and take a more active role in their own care, which is why the industry at large is emphasizing its focus on patient-centered care. “It’s all about earlier detection of issues, delivery of care in a manner least invasive to a person’s living standards, and use of data to take a more proactive role in personal health — enabled by digital technologies and applications,” Korry says.

Remote care and monitoring products make an impact

Standout products at this year’s CES mostly center on technologies that aid aging-in-place. According to business news and analysis site, exhibits from the digital health sector grew by 40 percent compared to last year. One example is MD Live, a company enabling patients to schedule appointments with doctors via the television screen. Patients have access to more than 3,000 physicians who can treat minor ailments remotely and send prescriptions to patients’ local pharmacies. Tied to the Affordable Care Act, MD Live’s service is contracted with Nevada’s Exchange in addition to 400 major companies, including the likes of Yahoo and Qualcomm. identifies 10 technologies emerging from CES 2014 that could prove valuable for seniors and caregivers, such as CarePredict, which demonstrated a product called CarePredict Tempo at this year’s event. The gadget itself is a $99 bracelet that packs the wearer’s movement, location and motion. Additional room beacons can be added for $19 each. This data is sent to the cloud, meaning caregivers can monitor aging loved ones while at work or even from afar. There are also alert capabilities, which notifies caregivers if patterns are detected that could indicate danger. Check out for more details.

Fall prevention from afar and tools connecting caregivers with providers

Other wearable devices and remote monitoring tools were also showcased at CES 2014, and some take a slightly different approach. SenseGiz, for instance, is a fall detection device to notify family and friends with an alarm and text alert so they can obtain help quickly. There’s also a panic button for emergencies and an option to post a Facebook update to alert more family and friends. With three sensitivity levels for fall detection, this gadget is a valuable tool for seniors living independently or living with family members but alone during the work day. Learn more about SenseGiz in this press release.

Senior Housing News also identifies a few standout products unveiled for seniors at CES 2014, including a smart pill box, the Wellograph Watch that tracks vital signs, and Angela Express, a system designed for senior living providers to connect rehab residents their family and friends, and providers via video chat, instant messaging and other communication features. The system facilitates communication between providers and family, helping family members provide proper care and promote wellness, easing the transition from rehabilitation settings to home.

These products are just a few of the latest tech innovations with valuable potential for seniors, caregivers and senior living providers. The best is yet to come, but one thing is clear: Technology is re-shaping the possibilities in senior care and senior living, and new products are making the lives of seniors and caregivers simpler every day.

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Article by Angela Stringfellow

Extreme Cold, Ice and Snow Pose Danger for Seniors

By Wednesday of this week, forecasters are predicting that about half of the U.S., or 140 million people, will be enduring temperatures of zero degrees or lower. The Arctic chill that’s blanketing the U.S. is bringing temperatures colder than many areas have seen in years. For many of those 140 million people, it’s a matter of staying indoors and cranking up the heat. The snow might look pretty; but for seniors, there are a number of risks that could pose serious danger.

Primary heat sources often aren’t enough in sub-zero temperaturesSnow and ice risky for seniors

Not all seniors have the luxury of just turning up the heat, for example. Homes with electric heat pumps often have to use back-up heating sources in temperatures below 40 degrees, because it simply can’t keep up. Couple the sub-zero temps with freezing rain and sleet, and some of those heat pumps will freeze up and stop functioning altogether. What’s a senior to do when the primary–and only–heating source goes kaput when it’s below freezing outside? Older homes may not have adequate insulation or may have drafts around windows and doors that make it difficult for any heating source to keep up in such bitter cold conditions.

In areas just blanketed by blizzards, heavy snow can down power lines, rendering electric heating sources useless. There are many seniors living alone who may have back-up heating sources such as a coal-burning stove, but running it requires hauling heavy buckets of coal and operating the stove’s settings, while making sure you have a good carbon monoxide and smoke detector in the proper location–and functioning properly. Wood stoves are another common back-up in some areas, but again this requires either having a supply of wood that’s been cut for the purpose or going out and cutting down some trees.  Clearly, these just aren’t reasonable scenarios for many seniors.

Heating fuel is expensive

In other cases, seniors rely on oil heat–but it’s extremely expensive. And a week or two of unreasonably cold temperatures means you’re burning through that oil at a quicker pace. If the fuel oil runs out, and a senior has no financial resources to replenish it, what’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, these conditions often lead to seniors turning on the cooking oven and opening the door. Never a good idea, but it seems preferable to the alternative at the time. If the hot water heater runs on the primary heat source and it’s defunct, that means no hot water. Hot water heater aside, sub-zero temperatures without adequate heat lead to frozen pipes–a costly disaster no one wants to deal with.

Heading outdoors is dangerous for seniors in icy, freezing conditions

These bitter cold temperatures and icy conditions pose other risks to seniors, too. If a senior ventures outdoors, unaware of the icy conditions, a slip and fall is not an uncommon consequence. And seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may fail to dress appropriately before heading outdoors, even just to check the mail, and wind chills of -25 to -60 degrees can mean hypothermia or frost bite. If a senior lives in an unpopulated area and slips and falls on the way to the mailbox, it could spell disaster with no one around to help and no way to call for help.

Prepare your loved one for hazardous weather conditions

So if you have an aging loved one who lives at home alone, it’s time to make sure they’re prepared for the extreme cold and hazardous conditions impacting much of the U.S. this week. Make sure the home’s primary fuel source is replenished, and get a back-up plan in place for emergency outages. Go over safety practices, such as not using the kitchen stove as a source of heat. Portable kerosene heaters can also be dangerous, creating obstacles for navigating the home and quickly causing fires if they’re knocked over. These devices are particularly bad ideas if your loved one uses portable oxygen.

Get your loved one a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or an emergency communication device so she can get in touch with someone if she should slip and fall. Make sure the home has plenty of blankets and your loved one has an ample amount of weather-appropriate clothing, and check to make sure doors and windows close securely. Advise her not to venture outdoors for any reason, even to retrieve the mail.

Better yet, make sure your aging loved one isn’t alone over the next few days. Have her come and stay with you or send a family member to stay with her. If that’s not possible, there are other options, such as respite care. Senior living communities have plans in place for emergencies to cope with power outages that ensure the building is adequately heated and that medical equipment still has power.

These nasty weather conditions aren’t pleasant or necessarily safe for anyone, but seniors are especially prone to danger. Taking steps to make sure your aging loved ones stay safe and warm through the upcoming week could save their lives.

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Post by Angela Stringfellow

Congratulations to Village Concepts Retirement Communities!

Village Concepts Retirement Communities - wants to congratulate Village Concepts Retirement Communities and the Brown Family for winning a Silver Award from Seattle Business Magazine’s “2013 Washington Family Business Awards.”

Since 1975, three generations of Brown family members have been building and operating senior homes throughout the Puget Sound and Central Washington regions. Village Concepts serves more than 1,100 elderly residents with personalized care and attention.

Find a Village Concepts Retirement Community near you!

It’s Time to Talk About Holiday Trends in Senior Living

Around this time of year, every year — and particularly right after the New Year — something happens: Senior living communities, and our amazing team of care advisors at, start getting tons of phone calls from seniors and families starting the process of searching for senior housing options. senior living inquiries

There’s a reason this happens during and immediately after the holiday season. Today’s world isn’t restricted by geography. We’re interconnected with friends, loved ones and even total strangers located around the globe. We can Skype for face-to-face contact with grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and BFFs who live thousands of miles away. For this reason, there are more and more families who are spread out by thousands of miles, and many of these families gather together over the holidays.

When adult children visit their aging parents over the holidays, a harsh reality sometimes sets in. For the first time, you may realize that your parents really are getting older.

Sometimes, you observe some worrisome things like outdated prescriptions, forks in the refrigerator, a cluttered home that’s starting to show significant wear, overgrown lawns and other circumstances that make it clear dad’s not getting around as well as he used to. Maybe you see your mom holding onto the furniture for support as she navigates through the living room. Whatever the case, you’ve realized that it’s time to worry about your aging loved ones’ safety at home.

Typically, there’s a large spike in the number of senior living referrals right after Thanksgiving. Closer to Christmas, it winds down a bit as families are focused on preparing for the upcoming holiday — but after the New Year, things pick up and persist through the month of January as families settle in to a new year and start putting plans in place to make sure their aging loved ones are safe and adequately cared for.

Take a look at the following graph, which illustrates the ebb and flow of senior living inquiries received during and after the 2011 holiday season.

Senior Living Inquiries 2011

The red lines in the graph above represent Thanksgiving and Christmas 2011, giving you a clear picture of the significant increase in inquiries that happens right after the Christmas holiday and continues throughout the month of January.

With the pressure on senior living providers to provide exceptional care, it can be a stressful time as providers work to ramp up staffing levels in order to meet the increased demand for services. Providers may need to allocate additional support staff to handle incoming phone calls, meet with families to discuss care options, and give tours of the facility.

But while the phone calls are increasing at this time of year, there aren’t a lot of move-ins happening. Most families opt to wait until after the holidays to make the official move.

With family members in ample supply during this time of year, it’s not necessary for many to make the move right away. Additionally, most seniors prefer to enjoy one more holiday season in the home they’ve known and loved for many years. That’s why many senior living communities offer incentives, hold open houses and other events and provide special year-end offers to encourage families to make their decision prior to the official close of the year. Check out our recent blog post for some ideas for marketing your community during the busy end-of-year season.

For families, the holidays are actually a good time to investigate your options. This is especially true if you’re traveling to visit an aging loved one — if time permits, adult children have the opportunity to visit potential senior living communities in person to get a better feel for whether it’s a good fit for mom or dad.

Being able to have face-to-face contact with your aging parent’s potential caregivers and taking an in-person tour of the community provides a little more peace of mind than relying on verbal communications, brochures and photos to make an informed decision. You can also take advantage of the year-end discounts and special offers, such as a free month’s rent, that senior living communities are offering.

But what if you’re in town for just a short visit and there’s no time to make personal contact with area senior living providers? Fortunately, the increasing popularity of the internet as a senior living research tool has led to more options for seniors and their families searching for senior living options., for instance, has implemented a comprehensive rating system for senior living communities in many cities across the U.S. That means you can search for senior living options in your area and get information on state inspection results, read the opinions of local experts who have worked directly with these communities, and read reviews from residents, families and staff members. It’s an excellent resource for long-distance loved ones, as well as for those who live locally but aren’t sure where to begin the search.

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8 Holiday Gift Ideas for Caregivers

While November and National Family Caregivers Month has come to a close, the holiday shopping season is in full swing! If you have a family caregiver on your holiday shopping list this year, you want to find the perfect gift — a gift that’s just the right combination of valuable, useful, heartfelt and meaningful. Caregivers are sometimes tough to buy for, because they spend so much time caring for their loved one that they don’t have much time left for themselves. When asked what they want or need, “nothing” is a common response. That’s because caregivers are so selfless that they rarely consider their own needs. The holiday season is the perfect time to give a caregiver a touching gift that gives them an opportunity to do something good for their own soul.

For caregivers, the best gifts are often the simplest — love, encouragement, a helping hand. Caregivers often don’t desire lavish, extravagant gifts. The most important things to them are the things that money can’t buy. And that makes gift-giving simple yet more challenging at the same time. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing to help you come up with the perfect gift idea for the caregiver on your list this year. gifts for caregivers

1. Gift certificates. Gift certificates might seem impersonal and effortless. But these gift certificates come straight from the heart! Use a word processing program to create a set of gift certificates for household tasks like cleaning or mowing the lawn, running errands, or even one-on-one venting sessions. It’s a personalized gift that demonstrates you care and appreciate what they’re going through. How about a gift certificate for a one-on-one date to dinner and a movie? Combine it with pre-arranged respite care by arranging for another family member or friend to sit with the care recipient while you’re out.

2. Inspirational books, poems, or paintings. There are many days when caregivers feel like throwing in the towel. It’s on those days that inspirational quotes and messages go a long way to soothe the soul. Find a book filled with inspirational quotes or short stories (Chicken Soup for the Soul comes to mind) or buy a beautiful painted canvas with an inspirational message. Not only will these gifts serve to lift the recipient’s spirits on the hardest of days, but they’ll think fondly of you and the sincere thought that went into this gift each time they look at it.

3. Virtual support group memberships or caregiving apps. There are lots of apps to help caregivers coordinate the many appointments, medication reminders, paperwork requirements and other essentials for caring for an aging loved one. Buy the caregiver in your life an app subscription or an annual membership to a caregiving resource or virtual support group. Caregiving apps typically cost just a few dollars, and support groups are often free but some resource networks do have small membership fees. Sign your loved one up for a virtual caregiver support network and wrap the username and temporary password up in a gorgeous package. It’s an inexpensive gift but one that carries deep meaning.

4. Homespun mixed CDs or playlists. Does the caregiver on your gift-giving list enjoy music? Music is an excellent stress-reliever and it’s also been shown to be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, making it a perfect gift for a caregiver caring for someone with cognitive impairment. Be sure to include uplifting music suited to the recipient’s taste, and include songs that have significance in her life.

5. Classes or workshops. For caregivers who enjoy learning or have a hobby that they’re passionate about, a registration for a local class or workshop is an excellent gift idea — especially when combined with backup caregiving services if you’re able to arrange for someone else to take over the caregiving duties while your gift recipient is off learning new and exciting things. There are also a growing number of local communities offering classes for caregivers, teaching coping mechanisms and sometimes disease-specific strategies for dementia caregivers or those caring for a loved one with a specific chronic disease. But if the caregiver on your list loves to cook, sign her up for a local cooking class and sign yourself up, too. Make it a fun and worry-free evening out once a week for a few weeks along with your great company! Other ideas include pottery classes, poetry workshops, quilting or sewing, and even outdoor adventures like kayaking or guided trail tours for the outdoors enthusiast.

6. A home monitoring system. One of the biggest challenges of caring for an aging loved one is taking time away from your own family. So if the caregiver on your list is spending a lot of time with an aging parent and less time at home with her family, a home monitoring system can be a lifeline. These systems range from simple to complex, some equipped with video monitoring technology so it’s easy to keep tabs on mom or dad’s safety from the other side of town. It doesn’t replace hands-on caring, but it does make the balance a bit easier.

7. A tablet or smartphone. More caregivers are relying on technology to research their loved one’s medical needs, communicate with long-distance family members to keep them in the loop, and to coordinate caregiving duties between multiple family members. A mobile device like a tablet or smartphone is a welcome gift that can make a caregiver’s life much more organized and less stressful. An e-reader is also a great gift idea for a caregiver who enjoys reading — and it provides a welcome activity to pass time while waiting at doctors’ offices.Load it up with a few books or with credit for Amazon Kindle so your recipient can choose his own reading material.

8. Lunch or dinner. They call it “comfort food” for a reason. Offer up a home-cooked meal or give a gift card to the recipient’s favorite restaurant. Another idea is to put together a gift basket filled with ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals. How about a cookbook with 10-minute crockpot meals or food you’ve prepared yourself that can be frozen and re-heated for a full, nourishing meal when time is limited?

The perfect gift for the caregiver on your gift-giving list this year won’t cost a lot of money — but it might require a little creativity. The ideas listed here are a starting point. What does your gift recipient enjoy? What are her biggest struggles? What can you offer that will lift her spirits or make her life a little easier? It’s truly the thought behind these gifts that counts, and it could be the most heartfelt and touching gift you give this season.

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Post by Angela Stringfellow

How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Senior Housing

This is a guest post contributed by

The whole family will be together around the table. Use the time this coming holiday season to finally have that crucial conversation about long-term care and senior housing.

While it is admittedly a difficult and sensitive subject, the significance of your loved one’s health and well-being demands that you take this first important step toward organizing for the future. Given the weight of the conversation, it’s all the more important that any family member who has a stake in the decision is present for the conversation, to ensure that the best decision is made.

In a new podcast from MySilverAge, Lisa Holland, regional director of quality improvement at, a nonprofit provider of senior living communities in California, offers guidance on how to lead such an important conversation. Whether your loved one is interested in staying in his or her current home or is in need of any level of assistance, Holland has suggestions to get the most out of your family discussion.

“This kind of a talk shifts the roles of the parent and adult child, so that the adult child really becomes more of the parent in the sense that they’re guiding, offering advice, making suggestions about what’s the best way to do things,” she says.

For more of Lisa Holland’s insight on how to navigate your way out of this situation, download the free podcast, “How to Talk to Your Parents About Senior Housing.” offers tips and information on successful aging, retirement and making the most of “what’s next” in your life. The website is brought to you by, one of California’s largest nonprofit providers of senior living communities.

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Giving Thanks to Our Local Senior Living Experts

We’d like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to our local experts who generously offered their time and expertise to the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. This group of experts are primarily individuals who work in the senior living industry in their local communities. They may be geriatric care managers, home health agency directors or staff, hospice agency representatives and other professionals who work in some aspect of senior living.

These experts have familiarity with many of the senior living communities in their area, and were able to provide us with a level of insight that’s simply not possible without first-hand experience with a community. We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce our readers to a few of these exceptional leaders.

Les Ostermeier - With more than a decade of experience in the senior living industry, Les Ostermeier served as a local expert in the Seattle area — a city he’s called home since 1989. After working with a retirement and assisted living community in the area, Les recognized the silent cry for help from seniors and their families. He started CHOICE Advisory as a referral agency to help seniors and families make sense of the complexities of senior living and narrow down the many options in the Puget Sound area to make the right choice for their loved ones.

Pati Rader, CSA – Pati Rader is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Enrichment Consultant with five years experience working in marketing, community and life enrichment in the Sacramento area. Pati’s career in senior living was born out of her own experience with her own mother’s sudden decline, which opened her eyes to the need for programming and services for the senior population. Pati was able to combine her background and experience to provide valuable services to the senior living industry while supplementing her existing expertise with new educational opportunities and professional designations. She offers services through her company, PLR Enterprises.

Kelli Bradley – Her experience caring for her mother, who suffered from diabetes and many related complications, led Kelli to Senior Helpers. Senior Helpers is a leading in-home care agency serving the greatest need that Kelli found in her own experience — the at-home support that allows adult children to step back into the role of children and focus on their relationship with their aging or chronically ill parent instead of juggling the responsibilities and challenges of skilled nursing care, hospital stays, doctors’ appointments and other needs. Serving the Portland metropolitan area, Senior Helpers specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and celebrates what their clients can do, not what has been lost or is now more challenging.

Jane Hamil, LCSW, CMC – Jane Hamil has been serving families in the greater Atlanta area for more than two decades. In addition to working with local families, she offers email and phone support to long-distance relatives with an aging loved one in Atlanta, providing a trusted local connection to help navigate the maze of aging and senior care from afar. Jane grew up in a family of caregivers — both of her parents served in leadership positions within the church. With the values of caregiving instilled in her throughout life, Jane’s academic work and her geriatric care management practice, Bridging Generations, came naturally.

Carol Howell – Owner of Senior Life Journeys, Carol Howell is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Endorsed Life Coach serving the greater Charlotte metropolitan area for more than 26 years. Carol works with dementia caregivers to help them develop effective strategies and cope with the many challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. A published author, her most recent book, Let’s Talk Dementia—A Caregiver’s Guide, is a #1 Amazon Bestseller. In addition to offering placement services, Carol provides  range of therapy services to those suffering with dementia, including Choral Music Therapy, Memory Music Therapy and Hospice Music Therapy.

These amazing senior living professionals are just a few of the many local senior living experts selflessly devoting their careers and unique talents to the aging and caregiving communities who devoted their expertise to the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. We’ll be highlighting more of our local experts in the coming weeks, but in the meantime be sure to check out our Local Experts page for a look at the many talented senior living pros who generously offered their local insights for the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. A huge thanks to all our local experts! Wishing each and every one of you, as well as our readers, clients and customers, a wonderful and fun-filled holiday with your family and friends.

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Post by Angela Stringfellow

Caring for the Caregivers – Inspirational Quotes

This is a guest post by Lauren Hill, a contributing writer for LiftCaregiving, a Richmond, VA company offering support to caregivers.

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The journey of life is replete with many challenges and obstacles. One issue facing many people is caring for aging and ailing loved ones. Life can include a host of unexpected health issues, and in many cases the care of the sick often falls on their family. This care routinely includes complex medical issues, in addition to dealing with the emotional fallout associated with extreme sickness. In the case of diseases like Alzheimer’s, it can mean watching a once vital and alert loved one slowly melt away, while concurrently tending to their everyday physical needs.

Despite their important work, caregivers are an often forgotten part of society. Many don’t consider how important they are until they find themselves in a position of giving care or being cared for. Only then do they realize that being a caregiver is often a full time job, requiring impossible strength and determination to simply get through each day. Not only do they care for the physical needs of the very ill, they also offer emotional support, which can be just as important as any medicine or treatment.

Being a caregiver can have untold health effects. Long hours spent caring for a loved one can contribute to ill health, while the mental strain associated with caregiving can lead to emotional concerns, such as anxiety or depression. Without a proper support network, caregivers can feel unduly stressed and essentially alone in their duties. One can hardly offer proper support to the ailing in such a state, in addition to maintaining their own well-being. Maria Shriver inspirational quote for caregivers

Many are now emphasizing the importance of caring for the caregivers. Support organizations have been formed that not only raise awareness for the importance of caregivers, but also actively contribute to making the lives of those who tend to others easier and more enjoyable.

One way of supporting caregivers is by offering words of solidarity and inspiration. The following are a few examples of famous caregivers and their invaluable words of wisdom regarding the practice of caring for loved ones in the throes of terminal illness. These are people who have experienced first-hand the difficulty of caring for someone full time. Through their words comfort is gained by so many in the same position.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

The story of Helen Keller is perhaps the most famous instance of the impact a caregiver can have on one’s life. Through the tireless work of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller was able to transcend her profound ailments and go on to lead a rich and fulfilling life.

Upon developing the illness that eventually claimed her sight and hearing, Keller was left with little options for living a normal life. Many assumed she was beyond help, that a child with her disabilities would be hard-pressed to have any semblance of joy or contentment.

Sullivan did not share this belief. She worked tirelessly with Keller, laboriously teaching her the basics of education, until a breakthrough was made. As a result, Keller went on to flourish academically, ultimately becoming a social justice advocate. Without Sullivan’s intervention, things may have turned out much differently for Keller.

“There are only four kinds of people in the world – Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” – Rosalynn Carter

This former first lady is well-versed in the act of caregiving. From an early age, Carter has been tasked with looking after ailing family members. Carter stepped up and assumed the role of primary caregiver to both her cancer-stricken father and her younger siblings at the age of 12. Carter later provided care for several family members throughout her life, including her mother, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 94.

These experiences obviously left an indelible impact. Carter devoted much of her time as first lady shining a light on the work that caregivers do, culminating in the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. The organization is devoted to offering a support network for caregivers, including funding programs aimed at assisting caregivers in their difficult tasks.

“When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands.” – Maria Shriver.

Maria Shriver helped care for her father after he developed Alzheimer’s. She has since become a champion of Alzheimer’s caregivers, and continues to be an advocate for both victims of Alzheimer’s as well as those who care for them.

After witnessing the incredibly trying job in store for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, Shriver has undertaken many fund raising events to support all those affected by this pervasive disease. Through marches and charitable donations, Shriver continues to help those who devote their lives to helping others.

“It is so important as a caregiver not to become so enmeshed in the role that you lose yourself. It’s neither good for you nor your loved one.” – Dana Reeve

Dana Reeve famously cared for her husband, actor Christopher Reeve, after a grave horse riding injury deprived him use of his body from the neck down. Reeve was the face of caregiving for many years, diligently caring for her husband with courage and humility.

Reeve’s life was fraught with adversity. While contending with her husbands injuries, Reeve was dealt a heavy blow when her mother suddenly fell ill and ultimately died of ovarian cancer. Despite the sheer amount of misfortune Reeve faced, she never lost her upbeat attitude and sense of humor. These qualities proved invaluable to her as she faced her own sickness.

Reeve is a testament to the resilience of caregivers. No matter what she was faced with in her life, she rose to the challenge. She is still a beloved figure among the caregiving community for her unbelievable grace under pressure.

Caregivers come in many shapes and forms. Whether you are looking after an ailing family member or are professionally employed as a caregiver, you are surely aware what a truly rewarding and challenging task it can be.

Lauren Hill is a contributing writer for LiftCaregiving, a Richmond, VA company offering support to caregivers.

Announcing the Best Senior Living Awards Top-Rated Communities

We’re thrilled to announce the Winners and Top Rated Communities for the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards!

The Best Senior Living Awards program aims to identify the top senior living communities in major metro areas across the United States. With the goal of providing a central, objective resource for comparing senior living options in a local area, the Best Senior Living Awards program uses a combination of resident and family reviews, opinions and ratings from local senior living experts, and state inspection data to determine Winners and Top Rated Communities in each metro.

Our panel of esteemed experts in each metro area consists of senior living professionals who have thorough familiarity with many of the senior living communities in their respective geographic regions.  These experts have generously lent their experiences and expertise by providing an expert perspective on the senior living communities in their local areas. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to each and every expert who participated in this year’s Best Senior Living Awards!

It was a positive experience for our experts, as well. “The personal references and postings appearing on is an effective way for people to gain insight into the senior communities which excel in service.  I am pleased to have offered my support as an expert resource to,” says Les Ostermeier of CHOICE Advisory.

Many congratulations to this year’s Winners and Top Rated Communities!

Today we’re announcing winners and top-rated communities in the following metropolitan areas. Click through the city name to view a list of all the Top Rated Communities in that locality. Winners are listed directly below their respective metros.


Best Senior Living Community in Austin: Parkwood Meadows

Greater Saint Louis

Best Senior Living Community in Greater St. Louis: Aberdeen Heights

Greater San Antonio

Best Senior Living Community in Greater San Antonio: Air Force Village

San Jose

Best Senior Living Community in San Jose: The Atrium at San Jose

Greater San Diego

Best Senior Living Community in Greater San Diego: Belmont Village of Sabre Springs

Denver Metro

Best Senior Living Community in the Denver Metro: Atria Inn at Lakewood

Charlotte Metro

Best Senior Living Community in the Charlotte Metro: Brighton Gardens of Charlotte

Orange County

Best Senior Living Community in Orange County: Atria Woodbridge

Detroit Metro

Best Senior Living Community in the Detroit Metro: Pine Ridge Villas of Shelby Senior Living

Inland Empire (Riverside)

Best Senior Living Community in Riverside: Sunrise at Canyon West

Los Angeles County

Best Senior Living Community in Los Angeles County: Sunrise of Claremont

Las Vegas-Paradise

Best Senior Living Community in Las Vegas-Paradise: Willow Creek Assisted Living at San Martin

Atlanta Metro

Best Senior Living Community in the Atlanta Metro: Dunwoody Pines

Dallas Metro

Best Senior Living Community in the Dallas Metro: Meadowstone Place

Greater Sacramento

Best Senior Living Community in Greater Sacramento: Sunrise of Fair Oaks

Greater Houston

Best Senior Living Community in Greater Houston: Tarrytowne Estates

Be sure to congratulate our 2013 Winners and Top Rated Communities in the Best Senior Living Awards by tweeting them, liking them on Facebook or giving them a shoutout on Google+!