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What the Obama Administration is Doing to Help America’s Caregivers

The Affordable Care Act, initiated by the Obama Administration in 2009, will have certain effects on in-home caregiving. Those that are interested in finding out more may want to discuss the changes with their local health care exchange or expert, as they are quite extensive.

The White House

Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

But in general, the Affordable Care Act makes it easier to get quality health care at a lower cost, and this includes in-home caregiving and care transitions.

Less Expensive, More Benefits

Patients will no longer be able to be denied by their insurance regarding pre-existing health conditions, there will be no coverage caps and prescription costs will be far lower. This is good news for those with in-home caregivers, as many of them were previously affected by these issues.

On the health care side, more funding will be going to direct care workers and family caregivers for elderly patients. The changes made by the Affordable Care Act make it less expensive for most people, especially older adults aged 55-65, to get health care and make preventative health care largely free.

Improve Training for Care Workers

Apart from the benefits for individuals, the Affordable Care Act is projected to bolster the long-term care workforce overall, with training programs that will support these valued workers. Not only do these workers contribute to long-term care in general, but they are also invaluable resources for caregivers that need additional help. States are also encouraged by the Affordable Care Act to expand their current resource offerings under Medicaid.

Resources are being offered to help caregivers make better choices regarding the care of their patients, such as the development of aging and disability centers that will help individuals make difficult decisions regarding care.

Protecting Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities

Finally, the Affordable Care Act includes some provisions for protecting those that are currently residing in long-term care facilities. These long-term care changes include increases in reporting and compliance necessary for nursing homes, requiring abuse prevention training and changes in the way nursing home closures and transfers are currently handled. These changes meant to address issues in long-term care elder abuse that have arisen in recent years. Quality of care issues are being regulated more under the Affordable Care Act for the safety of patients.

The Affordable Care Act is undoubtedly a positive thing for many caregivers and their loved ones as it gives them a larger pool of wealth and knowledge from which to draw. Seniors will find that they have significantly more coverage and family caregivers will have a larger set of resources regarding their needs as a caregiver. Caregivers will be able to reach out to a variety of communities and departments for information and help regarding a large volume of caregiving topics.

The Top 6 Reasons Your Assisted Living Community Should Have a Dog

Elderly man with dogHaving a dog, or even multiple animals, in an assisted living facility is rapidly becoming an accepted practice for both the physical and mental health of residents. There are numerous incredible benefits to having a dog, many of which may not be immediately apparent.

1. Increase Physical Activity
An assisted living facility may quickly find that residents are more likely to go outdoors and become active when they know that they can interact with their shared companion. Something as simple as tossing a ball around the yard for a few hours may actually have a measurable impact on a resident’s health, and will get them out into the fresh air and sun.

2. Boost Mood
It’s a well-known, scientific fact that dogs, as well as cats, can be a fantastic mood booster and stress reliever. Having a dog around will balance out the emotions of your residents, and ensure that they are happier within the community. Having a companion around can give a senior a sense of purpose, and make them feel less alone.

3. Improve Health
By increasing the mood of residents overall, a dog can actually increase their health. Studies have shown that the physical health of a person can be affected by how happy and stress-free they feel; thus, having a dog could potentially augment both the length and quality of their lives. Pets have been known to decrease cholesterol levels as well as fight depression.

4. A Draw for Families
Children tend to get fussy when visiting assisted living communities, but having a friendly dog close at hand will distract them and allow for a better quality of visits. Children don’t always understand how important their visiting hours are, and a pet can help by giving them something additional to look forward to.

5. Smooth Transitions
Many of those entering into an assisted care facility may have had pets of their own in the past but may not be able to take care of them on their own any longer. Rather than having to yearn for the pet they once had, they can interact with and take care of a new pet but aren’t solely responsible for all the upkeep.

6. Less Upkeep
Pets are an intrinsic part of life, but a community may be wary of adding resident-owned pets to the mix for a variety of reasons; too many pets can contribute to allergies, they may not be properly taken care of and they may not always be safe.

10 Top Gifts for Your Parents in Assisted Living

Top 10 Gifts for your parent in assisted livingCelebrating birthdays and holidays with your elderly parents becomes more meaningful than ever before. That’s why you always want to give the perfect gift.

Space and physical limitations, however, make gift-giving challenging. Consider these 10 gifts that serve practical purposes and show your parents how much you love them.

1. Family Photo Albums
Your parents don’t have room to display dozens of framed family photos, but they will cherish a small family photo album. Make this gift even more memorable when you alternate pictures with journaling that tells who’s in the picture and what’s happening.

2. Beautician Gift Certificates
Everyone needs occasional haircuts, which makes beautician gift certificates perfect for your parents. In addition to giving certificates for on-site, community-based beautician services, consider finding a beautician who make makes house calls.

3. Appreciation Cards
Your parents need to know that you love and appreciate them. Write your heartfelt sentiments in a birthday or holiday card, and encourage your kids and siblings to do the same.

4. Special Outings
A trip to a favorite café, bookstore or park allows you and your parents to share a few memorable hours together. Plan this trip to occur on a birthday or surprise your parents with the outing for no reason at all.

5. Handheld, Electronic Games
Give your parents hours of entertainment and brain strengthening fun when you give them handheld, electronic games. Games like Scrabble, Tetris, Chess and Sudoku strengthen memory and keep your parents’ brains active. Plus, these games are fun and easy to carry from the living room to a waiting room.

6. Magazines
From pop culture to a favorite hobby, magazines entertain your parents. Your parents can then pass on the issues they’ve read to a neighbor or doctor’s office.

7. Non-slip Slippers
For late night visits to the bathroom and quick trips to a friend’s room, non-slip slippers provide solid footing and comfort. Be sure to select a design that’s easy for your parents to slip into and wash.

8. Extra Warm Layers
Help your parents stay comfortable and cozy in all kinds of weather when you give them a sweater, blanket or gloves. As a bonus, electric blankets and hand mitts soothe arthritis pain.

8. Specialty Pillows
A comfortable pillow can promote a good night’s sleep or cushion an aching back. Ask your parents if they would prefer a hard, soft, down, buckwheat or comfort foam pillow, and remember to buy a new pillowcase.

9. Professional Massage
Aches and pains plague many seniors. A massage may be just what the doctor ordered to provide gentle relief.

10. Snack Bags
Rigid meal times and dietary restrictions may limit the snacks your parents can eat. They’ll appreciate snack bags that include a variety of sugar-free candies and cookies, no-salt nuts, 90-calorie granola bars and rice cakes.

With these 10 top gifts, you meet your parents’ practical needs while showing them how much you love and appreciate them. Plan now to give these gifts for birthdays, holidays and special occasions year round.

Stop Paying Full Price – National Businesses Offering Senior Discounts

No matter where you live or travel, you can find businesses that are happy to offer discounted rates to those who are living out their golden years. Keeping these businesses in mind will help today’s seniors enjoy a full retirement, even while living on a tighter budget. From a meal to a hair cut, discounts for seniors are abundant.


  • Stop Paying Full Price - National Business Offering Senior DiscountsAlamo
    Seniors with an AARP membership receive up to 25% off and unlimited mileage with Alamo car rentals.
  • Amtrak
    Seniors age 62 and over receive 15% off their ticket.
  • Avis
    AARP members receive up to 25% off car rentals.
  • Budget Rent-a-Car
    AARP members receive up to 20% off.
  • Enterprise
    Free upgrade and 5% off rental for AARP members.
  • Greyhound
    Those ages 62 and over get unrestricted passenger fares at a 5% discount.
  • Hertz
    AARP members receive up to 25% off on rental rates.
  • National Car Rental
    AARP members save up to 25%, and all seniors ages 50 and over have access to discounts.


  • Applebee’s
    Seniors who apply for the free Golden Apple Card receive a 10% discount.
  • Chili’s
    Participating locations offer a 10% discount to those ages 55 and up.
  • Denny’s
    Denny’s offers a substantial 20% off discount to AARP members from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and $1 coffee all day long.
  • IHOP
    Those ages 55 and over receive a 10% discount at participating locations.
  • Landry Restaurants
    Includes Rainforest Café, Saltgrass Steakhouse, Bubba Gump, Chart House, Claim Jumper, Landry’s Seafood and other locations. Seniors can receive up to 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages for parties of six or fewer people.
  • Shoney’s
    Diners ages 60 and over receive 10% off daily.


  • Banana Republic
    The chic senior age 50+ can get a 10% discount at most Banana Republic locations.
  • Goodwill
    Goodwill retail shops have a 10% discount day weekly for those ages 55 and over.
  • Harris Teeter
    With a store card, seniors ages 60 and over get 5% off on Thursdays.
  • Kohl’s
    Every Wednesday seniors ages 62 and older get a 15% discount at this popular department store.
  • Michael’s
    Tuesday discounts for those with AARP cards.
  • Tanger Outlets
    Seniors receive a free coupon book with discounts up to 20% off.


  • Regional Cinema
    Movie ticket discounts are available for seniors ages 60 and over.
  • U.S. National Parks
    Seniors can purchase a $10 America the Beautiful Senior Pass for free entrance to all national parks.


  • Best Western
    A minimum of 10% off room rate for AARP members or patrons ages 55 and older. Other perks like late checkouts may be available.
  • Choice Hotels
    Choice Hotels chains offer a 10% Mature Travelers rate for the 50 and up crowd and a 20-30% discount for seniors 60 and over with advanced reservations.
  • DoubleTree
    Those ages 62 and over receive a senior discount.
  • Hampton Inn
    A 10% discount for AARP members on the best available rate.
  • Hyatt
    Up to 50% off for guests ages 62 and over at participating locations.
  • La Quinta
    La Quinta offers a senior discount for those ages 65 and older on top of a 10% off  discount for AARP members
  • Motel 6
    Seniors ages 60 and over receive 10% discounts at this budget hotel chain.
  • Marriott Hotels
    A 15% off discount for ages 62 and over.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
    AARP members who book nine months in advance can receive a 5% discount on their cruise.
  • Radisson
    Customers ages 60 and over receive 10% off the standard rate.
  • Starwood Hotels
    AARP members and those 50 and over receive up to 20% off the best rate.
  • Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
    AARP members receive up to 20% off, and non-members ages 50 and over receive 10% off.


  • Jiffy Lube
    Many Jiffy Lube locations offer discounts for those age 55 and over.
  • SuperCuts
    Patrons age 60 and over receive $2 off their hair cuts.
  • Teleflora
    AARP members always receive a 20% discount.

The Last Stop: What Are the People Like?

The people I am living with at my Senior Residence decided on their own or with the help of their adult children to make this their “Last Stop”. The Last Stop Part 3: What are the people like?Actually Bob and I were pretty naive. We had a few acquaintances around the country that had made this kind of a move and they liked it.

Since our place was being built when we signed up, we didn’t even have a chance to look it over or see what out new friends would look like. In retrospect I realize it really was a leap of faith.

The move worked! I have lived at my CCRC for over five years and like it. Read on to know what my place is like so that if you make the Last Stop move, you will be more knowledgeable than Bob and I were.

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.”

Read more about the friends Margery has made along the way in “The Last Stop – Part 3: What Are the People Like?

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!

Emeritus Senior Living Launches “Maude’s Two-Minute Meddlings” Video Series to Keep Seniors Safe and Healthy

To kick off the holiday season, Emeritus Senior Living has launched a video series that provides valuable tips and information to help seniors (and those who love and care for them) lead safer and healthier lives.

The videos star the animated character, Maude, who likes to meddle and dole out advice for the greater good. A new video will be launched each Tuesday at Maude’s Facebook page, and her Twitter profile, @MeddlingMaude.

Emeritus Senior Living - Tips for Seniors and the People  Who Love Them

“We’ve taken a lighthearted and humorous approach to topics that can have serious implications for seniors,” says Jayne Sallerson, Executive Vice President of Emeritus Senior Living. “For instance, Maude talks about how to reduce the risk of falls, avoid scams, get a better night’s sleep and how to improve brain health, which can help delay the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

As families gather for the holiday season, the videos can provide adult children with a fun and easy way to start a conversation about topics that may be difficult to approach. The videos, such as ‘How to Live to be 100,’ which features advice from real-life centenarians, are perfect for the entire family to enjoy, as much of Maude’s advice is applicable to people of all ages.

The video series is part of Emeritus Senior Living’s “Safely Somewhere” program, the goal of which is to help ensure all seniors are safe wherever they live.

Joan’s Journey: Baltimore Bucket List 2 – Appreciate Family and Friends

Joan London with Friends - November 2013Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. Join me in this blog written from high in the night sky, as I journey from San Francisco to Baltimore. What an amazing and productive trip I’ve had visiting my children and grandchildren, as well as two senior living communities — one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.

What does my trip have to do with my Baltimore Bucket List? To be honest: everything. Wrapping up my life in Baltimore and preparing to move to California are inseparable because I carry “me” wherever I go. At least that’s what I’m learning as I move forward with list item 1, ‘Take Care of Myself,’ and list item 2, ‘Appreciate Family and Friends.”

In Baltimore, my second goal is to spend quality time with the people I genuinely love and care about. I intend to actually “do lunch” or get together with family members and friends I speak to occasionally, but rarely see. As an added benefit, many of these folks have California connections, and I will network to learn more about senior living possibilities. In addition, as I await the sale of my condo, my trips to California keep me part of both worlds. Hence, the interrelationship of items 1 and 2.

Life in general and senior living in Southern and Northern California are stories in “contrasts,” except for the sea of vehicles in both cities. In the next Joan’s Journey, I’ll describe and you decide the plusses and minuses of senior living in California. We’ll also explore insights I’ve gained as I muse over Bucket List 2: Appreciate Friends and Family.

Until my next post, SeniorHomes and I welcome comments from seniors and others whose lives and hearts are intertwined in more than one city. Snowbirds, vacation homeowners, time share participants, we invite you to respond in the Comments Box below. Enjoy the journey day-by-day!

Written by Joan London, a freelance medical and social service writer, plans to relocate from Baltimore to senior living close to her children in Southern California. Follow her entire series, Joan’s Journey: The Search for Senior Housing, on

New Series: “The Last Stop” With Margery Fridstein

Margery Fridstein - Bio photoWhile many people have experienced retirement living indirectly by visiting elderly friends and relatives at an assisted living or nursing home, most don’t realize that retirement communities have changed dramatically in recent years. Jell-o pudding and Bingo are now relics of the past. Today’s seniors remain much more active and reside in much nicer surroundings than ever before.

Giving us a window into the world of today’s retirement communities, Margery Fridstein will be chronicling her experience living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Colorado in our new series, “The Last Stop.” A retired psychotherapist, author and grandparent, Margery openly shares the ups and downs of her life at a CCRC.

Here is a brief excerpt:

There is no doubt in my mind that my CCRC is the right place for me and I know it is my last stop. I am so glad Bob and I made this choice five years ago when we were physically and mentally sound. Maybe psychologically I wasn’t ready to face my last stop, but fortunately I had someone to lead me. And our four adult married children applauded the choice for it being our choice and not having to make a decision for us.

Read the rest of The Last Stop – Part 1: The Big Move

For Seniors, ‘Take Care’ Means Up-To-Date Vaccinations

How often have you said to a loved one or friend, “take care” but thought to yourself, “what exactly does ‘take care’ mean?”

According to, the expression, “Take care,” has several meanings, including: 1) stay out of harm’s way, 2) be watchful, 3) be alert, 4) be cautious, and 5) good bye.

On a more practical level, ‘take care’ in reference to wellness means having an annual flu shot and other pertinent vaccinations. For seniors, up-to-date vaccinations are essential to good health. In fact, an estimated 45,000 adults in the United States die of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, report experts at the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California.

According to, vaccines for adults age 65 and older may be divided into two categories: 1) the general senior population and 2) seniors at risk.

Recommended Vaccines for the General Senior Population

For a complete description of each vaccine, click on the links below.

Recommended Vaccines for Seniors at Risk

For a complete description of each vaccine, click on the links below.

Additional Resources for Vaccinations

For more information regarding vaccinations for seniors, visit the following resources:

Are you current with your vaccinations? What vaccines have your physicians recommended? What is your experience with the shots? Have you had a reaction? welcomes your comments. Simply respond in the Comments Box below.

Written by Joan London, a freelance medical and social service writer in Baltimore.