Insider Information

Not too long ago, I had lunch with a friend of mine that also happened to be a sponsor of one of my residents.  She is also my neighbor, but I digress.  As we sipped sweet tea, I asked her what was one thing that she wished she knew more about before she moved her Dad into assisted living.  Here are a couple useful tips regarding doctor visits that she suggested that will make life easier if you are considering or have made the transition to an assisted living community.

Prep Doctor Visit Steps

Not only do assisted living communities offer scheduling and transportation to appointments for our residents…but we also provide useful tools for communication.   We all know that for every physician on the planet they all typically want us to bring our list of meds with us.  But here are some things that our staff will provide if you (or if we) are taking your family member to the doctor:

Pills

  • A current list of medication for all residents for doctor’s appointments (typically we can make a copy of their medication record from that day that ensures they have the most current info available)
  • Physician Communication Form (this form is an excellent tool where the doctor can detail their findings and diagnosis information as well as prescriptions or requests for follow-ups etc.  This helps provide a written outline of the doctor visit so that the sponsor and resident can communicate fully the needs the resident may require.  This form is typically stapled to the copy of the resident’s medication record and given to the sponsor/staff that will be going with the resident prior to the appointment.  Upon return to the community following the appointment, the sponsor can just give this to the Administrator or designee.  If a staff member took the resident to the appointment, they will then call the sponsor to provide the details from the appointment.  This is another reason that this tool is so useful.)

We also can help assist by providing documented weights and other health information that a physician may request.  Health information is protected per HIPPA guidelines.

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Hopefully this prep will help make doctor visits less daunting.  As my friend explained, “when you have been the sole caregiver for an aging parent or loved one, you know them probably better than anyone.  But by allowing the staff at the assisted living to join forces with the resident, the sponsor and the physician…we become a team”.  This is an excellent analogy!  This TEAM is always looking out for the resident.  And the vital key is communication.  Another important thing that you need to know is that the medications should be in unit dose packaging if they will require staff assistance.  So just running a prescription to the pharmacy and picking up a bottle is NOT the way to go.  The ADPH rules and regulations are in place to protect.  So be sure to get the prescription to the administrator or contact them if you have any questions.  This will ensure that you or the staff have them filled properly and that the staff have the proper documentation for the resident chart.  Following these simple suggestions can make life easier for you, the staff at the assisted living and most importantly the resident.

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Thankful

November is typically the month where we stop and give thanks.  This year in our community we have a Thankful Tree.  Thanks to the talent and creativity of my staff members, this beautiful notion has come to life.  But the real beauty that you will find are the comments that are attached to the branches of this tree.  Residents and staff have given thanks for everything from health and happiness to family and friendship.  So, as our hearts and minds turn to the holiday season, here are some suggestions to help you prepare for those times we treasure the most.  Thinking ahead will make you thankful you did when it comes to sharing the holidays with your loved one that lives in an assisted living.

Stick to the Schedule

I have had families tell me time and time again that they were amazed that their parent was ready to go back home (to their ALF community) almost immediately after Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch or supper was over.  While they were surprised, in many ways it was comforting for them.  They realize that their loved one had made their community their home.  I am reminded of my own Granddaddy.  He was a man of routine.  He didn’t vary much from his schedule.  That is what I remind the families of our residents.  They have the tendency in some cases to become creatures of habit.  Trust me…they like a decent dose of predictability.  Don’t believe me?  Try canceling bingo!  But just try and be as flexible as possible with their expectations.  Plan ahead when it comes to medications and other necessities.  If you are prepared in advance it will be more Norman Rockwell and less National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

Don’t forget to Include Me!

Does Mom have a recipe for everyone’s favorite Caramel Cake?  Does Grandpa have a story that he loves to tell?  If you have ever had to suffer the loss of a loved one, you know that things like this will one day become a treasured memory.  If Mom is able, include her in some of the preparation process for the meal.  Or even just ask her advice.  Everyone likes to feel included.  Maybe you have heard Grandpa Pete’s story about his days in the war a hundred times.  Maybe this year is the time to write it down.  In our culture, we get so caught up in being in a hurry.  Heaven knows we all can be glued to electronics.  Take time to turn off and tune in to loved ones.  Your conversations will be priceless to you one day.

Conversation Starters

While the holidays can be a time for sadness for some, it is best to keep conversation light.  But many forget that while seniors may be older, they still like to engage.  We all love looking at pictures on our social media accounts, right?  Share with your elderly loved one the photos from the high school playoffs or the trip to the pumpkin patch.  The pictures can be made large enough for their viewing on most devices.  You may even want to let everyone in your family go around the room and tell what they are thankful for.  You may find as we did with our Thankful Tree that what you hear will bless you more than you ever imagined.

Great Oaks Management communities will observe holiday meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  If you would like to join your loved one for a meal, call and make your reservation today. 

Proud to Be an American

Did you know that the man determined to be the “Father of Veterans Day” is from Alabama?  As a tribute to our Veterans, I thought I would include a little bit of history.  According to Wikipedia, in 1945, World War II Veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, AL had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I.  Weeks led the efforts and presented them to General Dwight Eisenhower who supported the idea.  The first national celebration of Veterans Day as we know call it, was in 1947.

So how will you honor this day?va-logo

I’m so excited that a group of folks from my hometown have worked extremely diligently to have a special Veterans Day parade this year.  I’m thrilled that World War II Veterans and several of our other Veterans will be honored during this event.  These courageous folks and so many across others across our great nation are so proud of their service to our country.  They also have amazing stories to share.  They are truly living national treasures.

One of the things that stands out to me the most is the pride that I hear when I have listened to residents speak of their service.  I have been told of lands that I have never seen and how we in the United States of America, live in the greatest country on earth.  It is so amazing to hear the first person retelling of their great stories.  The stories of writing and waiting on handwritten letters seems like a lifetime ago in our broken down communication age where we text people in the same room.  The stories of lifelong friendships that were born in the service of our country are remarkable.  Not once have I heard of protest or disdain. The nobility of their acts are shown in their actions and love for this land in their speech as well.  Even to this day.

militaryappreciation5-17-16So I invite you…take time to thank a Veteran for their service to our country. Take time to talk with them. Take time to listen. It is because of their sacrifice and that of those serving today that we are able to enjoy our freedoms.  Because of the brave, we live in the land of the free.

If you are interested in checking into VA Benefits for Assisted Living, please click on the VA Benefits section of our webpage.

In Good Taste

 

plate-of-foodI guess it never really dawned on me until I starting working in the senior living industry that just as our hearing and eyesight are impacted as we age…so are our taste buds.  SERIOUSLY!!  Those go away??  Well, that is just fabulous, right?  Now don’t go thinking all is lost!  But believe me when I say that there is a GREAT DEAL of time and energy that is spent in planning meals for Assisted Living Communities.  And what is on the plate is not what you would expect!  We are not talking cafeteria style boredom.  Sure it may be difficult to appeal to a crowd of differing tastes and disappearing taste buds.  It can be a tall order!  But we have more than one approach to take on the task.  While bearing in mind that Assisted Living residents are given a type of diet that their physician suggests…but remembering that the resident is the captain of their own ship.  They have resident rights to direct their care and this includes their nutrition.  Our job is to do our novel best to offer food to meet their dietary needs.  It is also helpful to know that ALF communities have regulations in place that cover food from everything from receiving and storing to cooking and serving.  By following these best practices, we can offer safe, delicious and nutritious meals.  Here are some ways we aim to please.

eating-sandwich

  1. Always Available Menus. So today is Taco Tuesday and Mexican food doesn’t agree with you?  No problem!  In our communities, we offer Always Available Menus that will give you options that are designed to please.  With a little head’s up, the dietary staff can make sure that your mealtime doesn’t go South of the border.
  2. Menus that change with the Season. Guided by our Dietitian Consultant, we create menu suggestions that offer variety and nutrition to attempt to appeal to any palate.
  3. Another approach that we have incorporated is resident suggestion! Got a great recipe for your favorite dessert?  Then we want to hear about it!  We will do our best to submit it for approval to add to our menu.  From the beginning intake process, we do our best to find out what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to food.  No two tastes will be the same.  But by treating everyone as an individual, it helps set the situation up for success.

Check out our menus at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com