Challenges and Choices

As I have watched the latest rollout of promos for the Winter Olympic, a common theme is challenges.  It made me think about the challenges in the daily lives of our many residents.  Just as an athlete must push against all odds to achieve Olympic status, a senior must face challenges on a daily basis to overcome their own adversity.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Life expectancy is increasing for Americans. The fastest-growing segment of the population is the 85-and-older age group. Despite advances in health care, however, many elderly people have chronic, incurable progressive diseases and need assistance with the activities of daily living. The greatest challenge facing us as we age is the prevention of physical disability and the extension of “active life expectancy.” Fortunately, recent studies suggest that healthy (“successful”) aging is achievable, with sound planning for old age.”

SO SOUND PLANNING….LIKE WHAT???

It’s no secret that the biggest factor in overcoming the challenges that come with the aging processes includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  But even though:

eating right, exercising, watching your weight, avoiding tobacco products and limiting alcohol intake and seeing your doctor regularly seems like…gosh..shouldn’t that be enough??  It just isn’t.

Planning for success in aging must include stimulation of our social being as well financial planning, research and making your wishes known.  We can’t be certain of what MIGHT happen.  But if you address the issues early on, it can make the later much easier for you and your children.  Over the years I have comforted many an adult child of an elderly person, who was tasked with making difficult choices for their parent.  Choices that could have been decided and discussed.  Are the conversations difficult?  EXTREMELY.  No doubt, this conversation will not be comfortable.  But making sure your wishes and decisions are respected as best as possible will make those moments somewhat easier for your children to know they are honoring your choices

 

Rising to the Challenge of Successful Aging

Here is a list from the Cleveland Clinic to help you plan for the unknown challenges to come. 

Keep Yourself Stimulated:

Enjoy hobbies and interests with passion, particularly social activities, such as dancing.

Strengthen family relationships.

Engage in adult educational activities to challenge your mind.

Identify any physical limitations, such as difficulty walking or problems with balance. Actively start a discussion about these limitations and use medical resources to overcome them. Use nearby resources such as community support and local senior centers.

Be smart with financial planning:

Plan in advance for retirement.

Carefully manage investments and assets.

Assure adequate insurance coverage.

Decide on your future living arrangements.  (See reference at the end of the article.)

Work to Maintain Dignity and Good Health in Old Age:

Choose a doctor knowledgeable in the medical care of older adults.

Communicate your goals of care to your family and physician.

Check about long-term care insurance.

Express your advance directives in writing.

 

It is wise to look ahead into an assisted living community.  We would love to have you tour one of our communities today.  Visit www.greatoaksmanagement.com today to research one that is just right for you and your plan!

 

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Making the Right Move

In the past 7 years, I have given MANY tours at our assisted living community.  I’ve even given tours at some of our sister communities.  I’ve read guides that industry pros have posted.  I’ve listened to feedback from residents, families, staff and upper-level management.  I’ve moved residents into our property from every setting you can imagine.  Now, it’s not that I think that I have all the answers.  That is laughable and would be impossible.  But how about I just offer you as Paul Harvey would say “the rest of the story” and give you my humble insights. I like working with lists of 3s.  So, here is a list of my top three suggestions for finding the assisted living community that is the right fit.

Suggestion Number One

Remember WHO is the Consumer

One of the most surprising things that I ever experienced in my senior living career was the opportunity to move a resident into our 16-bed community from a place that I swear resembled a resort at the beach.  It was, however, also an assisted living community.  As I drove onto the property I honestly mouthed the words…WOW.  Inside was the latest of color schemes and decor.  I honestly wanted to ask the lady at the desk in the lobby the name of the gray paint on the walls.  I loved it.  But my grandmother would have hated it.  I have residents that would have hated it.  And you guessed it…so did the resident that I moved out of this fancy pants place and into our community.  This huge place was also overwhelming to the resident.  The resident had vision issues and that typically doesn’t pair well with a monochromatic color scheme or a giant campus.  Bottom line…think of the loved one whom you are considering living in a community and be sure that you are shopping for them and not YOU.

Suggestion Number Two

Meet and Greet

It didn’t take me long to realize when I started working with senior adults exactly who was in charge and it was NOT me.  Now naturally, I make sure that we are being regulatory compliant and we don’t do anything that is unsafe.  But the phrase that I remind our staff and how we approach the care in how we treat our residents is “this is their house and we work for you”.  It’s not just something that we say, it is how we do our best to approach the things that we do.  If you are looking at a community that doesn’t treat your loved one as an individual, look elsewhere!  When it comes to tours, I offer our current residents the opportunity to meet and greet some of our prospects.  It gives the prospective family and potential residents a chance to hear first-hand information from the consumers who know it best.  It also invites the members of our community to be part of the place they call home and it is truly heart-warming to see the way that they communicate.  Who else would know better than the ones who have been in the exact same shoes as the prospect!

Suggestion Number Three

Visiting Hours

Another thing (that yes, even as an administrator) I would suggest is drop in without an appointment.  Now, of course, this needs to be at a decent hour.  Most properties love to schedule a tour so that a marketing person or administrator can help you through the process and that is a truly effective way to get the answers to most of your questions.  But dropping in on a Saturday or taking up the offer to join the community for a meal are great ways to get a good feel for how a community functions.  Now the meal “invites” do typically need to be scheduled so that enough food can be prepared, but it is a wonderful opportunity to sample the “fare” and observe the staff and community.  Also, don’t forget to let the prospective resident be part of this process.  I have witnessed many families try to avoid bringing their loved one along for fear of upsetting them.  I say start slowly.  This change is hard for everyone…even for the adult children that are trying to do what is best and safe for their aging parent or loved one.  Making the decision to move to an assisted living community is not easy.  Change isn’t easy.  But making the decision to keep someone safe is the right move.

If you would like more information about one of our Great Oaks Management Properties or would like to set up a tour at a property near you, please call us today at 1-888-258-8082.