Pet Perks

GOC Pet Therapy01.jpgI will never forget my first pet.  Well…let me rephrase that.  I will never forget the first pet that I picked out that we had long term.  I grew up on a farm so there were many farm cats and other animals.  But my first true furry companion was a dog named Rusty.  To be perfectly honest I can’t remember where Rusty came from.  We got him when I was in middle school and he stayed in the family until I graduated from the University of Alabama and he passed away.  Rusty was a source of comfort for many a sickness, sadness and just an all-around “good dog.”  Now that I am all grown up and work with the elderly I see more now than ever the benefits of pet ownership.  And yes…you can have a pet in assisted living.

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Great Oaks Management’s Policy states that “The goal of each facility is to allow residents to benefit from the pleasure of pet companionship, while ensuring that the presence of pets in the facility does not infringe on the rights of all residents to live in a clean, quiet and safe environment.

Great Oaks Management Procedure:Pets may visit the Residence if the following conditions are met:

  1. The pet owner provides verification of current vaccinations.
  2. The pet is clean, properly groomed and healthy.
  3. The pet’s owner is responsible for the pet’s behavior and maintains control of the pet at all times.
  4. All pets residing in the facility must provide verification of current vaccinations, and must update the vaccination record annually. Dogs may not exceed 25 lbs in weight. A non-refundable pet deposit will be required prior to a pet moving into a facility.
  5. All resident pets must reside in the resident’s room. Pets will be allowed in the common areas of the Residence only when under the control of the owner or handler. Resident pets are not allowed in the dining room at any time. Residents who wish to keep pets in their rooms may do so provided they abide by the policies of the facility.
  6. Common household pets (including dogs, cats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters) may reside in the facility, upon approval of the Administrator.
  7. The resident is responsible for providing care to the pet and the following:
    •  Purchasing food and other needed pet supplies
    • Feeding, grooming and/or cleaning up after the pet
    • Providing for toileting (e.g., emptying the litter box, taking the pet outside at regular times, etc.)
    • Arranging for/providing access to needed veterinary services
    • Exercising the pet as appropriate
  8. Pets must not be allowed to toilet on the floor (all dogs shall be toileted in an outside area). Litter from litter boxes or cages must be disposed of in a sealed plastic bag and placed promptly in a trash container. Pet waste and/or litter may not be disposed of in toilets.
  9. Pets may be fed only in the resident’s room.
  10. Pets shall not be allowed to interfere with an enjoyable living environment for all residents by barking, howling, biting, scratching, and/or whining. The facility shall ensure that pets pose no risk to residents, staff or visitors.
  11. If the conduct or condition of a resident’s pet constitutes a nuisance or a threat to the health and safety of other residents, staff, and/or other individuals, the resident will be responsible for permanently removing the pet from the premises. The final decision about a pet residing in a facility rests with the Administrator.

So, if your old school like my Granddaddy was and don’t want to even fathom the thought of an animal in the house then never fear…the policy protects you too!

 

Pic 1 - Lula Mae Ott.jpgThere truly are so many benefits to pet ownership.  For example:

Having a “fur baby” can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve stress
  • Combat loneliness
  • Ease depression
  • Encourage activity for seniors
  • Offer a greater sense of worth
  • Offer security to their owners

So check out the pet perks and what they could mean for you or your loved one today!

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Under Pressure

One of the hardest things that we all have to come to terms with is that we are not Superman or SuperWoman.  Why…our entire lives most of us are taught that we can do anything…if we just set our mind to it.  Recently, I had a personal struggle.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and had to start taking a daily medication.  Have you been there?  I personally always thought…not me! No way!  I don’t want to have to take a medication every day.  But then I faced the facts, my genes nor my health were going to change.  I had to do something different.  What did Einstein say?  “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.  So, I had to bite the proverbial bullet and start blood pressure medication.  You know what?  I feel SO MUCH BETTER!!!  I don’t end each day with a headache now and I don’t feel like I’m running a race with my days.  Are you or a loved one struggling with this health care situation?  You don’t have to be Einstein or a hard-headed woman like me to know that blood pressure is not something to ignore.

According to an article by senior advocate and health care provider Elizabeth Bemis, there are “Three Good Reasons You Should Keep Track of Your Blood Pressure”:

  1.  Blood pressure problems are easy to overlook. Your blood pressure is “out of sight and out of mind”. There are no visible signs of high or low blood pressure and few physical symptoms. Because of this, it is important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. Blood pressure problems are a “silent condition”.
  2.  Low blood pressure can contribute to feelings of dizziness or weakness, which can increase the risk of falls and other injuries, but many people attribute these feelings to other things, such as being overtired.
  3.  High blood pressure may cause headaches as one of the few symptoms and can lead to:
  • An overworked heart
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Hardening of the arteries

But regardless of your age, take heart!  Blood pressure issues are manageable.  Always seek the advice of your health care professional with any medical issues.  Be sure to report any problems you are having and don’t be a back-seat driver in your health!  Take the wheel and be sure you are being an advocate for your health and well-being.

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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.

Shifting Gears to the New Year

After all the fun and festivities that the holidays bring, it is commonplace for most to begin thinking of making changes to begin a new year.  New Year Resolutions are a good thing for folks of all ages.  Making resolutions regardless of our age, creates a sense of purpose for all of us.  It helps us to focus on the things that are the most important.  Seniors can especially benefit from this if resolutions are made to prevent illness and injury. Making resolutions such as participating in a new physical activity, developing a new exercise routine, or eating better are all good goals for seniors.  But what is the best way to do this and succeed?

Write it Down

Writing down your resolution is only half the battle!  Chart it and not only seniorwriting-052313-vr-tifdocument your defeats, but celebrate your victories!  According to a study by the University of Scranton research shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  Writing it down puts it in black and white and gives a sense of accountability.  Trying to lose weight or exercise more?  Writing it down or having someone chart it for you will help you track your success.

Keep it Simple

Now most of us have heard of the KISS system.  You know, Keep It Simple Stupid!  Now while this may sound ridiculous, it is rather ingenious.  If you have a simple and small goal that you want to achieve….and you have written it down…well, then it is more likely to stick with you!  According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, “it’s more sensible to set simple small attainable goals, rather than a singular overwhelming goal”.  A resolution to lose weight is a bit more daunting than to just cut out soft drinks.  It’s less restrictive and much more clear cut.  So, pick something small to change and work on that.

Give Yourself a BreakSenior couple having fun in park

If you do have a slip up, don’t give up!  Remember that you are only human.  Have you been dieting and feel like you could eat your weight in chocolate??  Well…don’t do that and try to A-V-O-I-D feeling deprived.  Eat a small piece of chocolate.  Have a cheat day.  Are you trying to exercise more?  Start slowly.  Don’t feel like you must exercise every day if this is new to you.  Maybe your target is walking two or three times a week to start with.
Set yourself up for success and keep your goals realistic.

By taking small steps, making your goals clear and realistic you stand a better chance of making 2017 your best year yet.  You also want to check with your physician first before making any changes to your diet and exercise plan.  If you feel like Assisted Living is a goal for you or a loved one this year, reach out to us today.  Our staff is trained to help our residents with the activities of their daily life.  We would love to welcome you home to a Great Oaks Management Property in 2017.

Banning Blue Christmas

So, what kind of person are you?  Are you the Grinch at Christmas or are you more like Buddy the Elf?  Hopefully you are somewhere in between.  The holidays are not all lights, baking and singing Christmas carols for everyone.  This especially holds true for some seniors.  The songs that stir the hearts of many during the season can evoke feelings of sadness for others.  But the best thing to do is not to allow the blues to get the best of you during the holidays or anytime for that matter.  Here are some tips to help you or a loved one cope and avoid a “blue” Christmas.

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  • Stay Active! Exercise is not only good for the heart it is also excellent for the mind.  By doing reasonable exercise based on your doctor’s recommendations and your ability, you can keep the blood pumping.  It also improves our metabolic rate and increases the production of endorphins which are those natural mood lifters in the brain.
  • Makeover your Mood! Studies show that the simple act of getting a haircut or even a hot shave makes you feel better!  Don’t discount the benefits of a nice pedicure too.  Feeling better about yourself will help make your spirits improve.
  • Eat Better! Now while the holidays offer many opportunities for sweet treats that we may only have once a year, it’s best not to indulge.  While these goodies typically show their havoc on waistlines, they have also been proven to derail our moods and cause depression as well.  So, don’t wait until the New Year to practice better eating.  Everything in moderation and stick to a well-balanced diet.

family-help-bluesThe U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change.  They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”  So, this is not something to minimize.  If you feel that your loved one may need more professional help.  Don’t delay and don’t minimize the situation.  Reach out and show love.  If they are living alone, consider a move to assisted living or to a situation that will help stimulate them socially.  Be sure to keep them engaged.  Remember the way we feel mentally has a huge impact on our health physically.

For more information and a guide to overcoming holiday depression for the elderly check out the link below for article published by the American Medical Resource Institute.    www.aclsonline.us/artcles/the-guide-to-overcoming-holiday-depression-for-the-elderly-and-their-caretakers/

For more information on Assisted Living at Great Oaks Management Properties visit:

http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

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No Live Chickens In The Kitchen

chicken-differentiation

Most of the time when rules are written it is usually because someone along the way created a need for the rule.  In Assisted Living in the State of Alabama did you know that it is against the Alabama Department of Public Health Rules and Regulations to have LIVE chickens in the kitchen?!  I know what you are thinking…well DUH???  But, I have to think that somewhere at sometime someone decided that it was a good call to have a live chicken in the kitchen!  Seriously people??!!  NO!!  But rules are intended to protect.  Rules are a way to keep residents and staff in all buildings safe.  There also things that you can do right from the start to make sure that you are keeping your loved one compliant in their new place.

Packing it Up

When you are figuring out what to move to your loved one’s community it is so important to be familiar with the ADPH Rules and Regulations as well as your facilities’ Policies and Procedures.  This is your first guideline as to what is acceptable.  For instance, it’s good to know that in Alabama that it is prohibited to have open flame heaters or portable heaters in resident rooms because of the potential risk of fires.  In our properties we do not allow throw rugs without non skid backings.  Extension cords that are not grounded or extension cords which cross a walkway or pathway in a resident room are a “no-no” as well.   These prohibited items are because of the fall or safety risk that these items present.  Knowing this up front keeps you from hauling stuff back home.   There are other items that are not allowed.  This link can take you to the Alabama Department of Public Health Rules and Regulations.  Your facility will be more than happy to provide you with another copy of their policies and procedures if you need them as well.  Remember these guidelines are in place to protect.  When you read them, they all make sense and are there for the safety of your loved one.

Medication Roundup

Another hot button topic in the assisted living world is medication.  Yes, assisted living is setup for residents to either manage their own medications or to have staff ASSIST them in the management of their medications and who does the management will be SPECIFICALLY indicated in the Medical Exam and Plan of Care by their PHYSICIAN.  The specifics for how these areas are handled and the “nitty gritty” details as to WHO can do WHAT and HOW are found in the ADPH Rules and Regs and your facilities’ policies and procedures.  One thing I find myself reminding families is that if you are bringing ANY medication into the facility…please make sure that the Administrator and staff are aware of it.  There is certain protocol that must be followed to make sure that we are compliant.  Communicating with your Administrator will help ensure that there is an order for any and all medications and that they are kept in the building according to the rules.  Just dropping off gas chewables in the room because Daddy said he felt gassy is not a minor or acceptable thing.  It is something that must be first run by the Administrator.   Again ANY and ALL medications need to go through the proper channels.  The rules are in place for the safety and protection of everyone.

Leave it at Home

If you have questions or concerns about the things to bring or not to bring your Administrator is more than happy to help.  Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to follow the pathways to success in assisted living.  Remind family members not to minimize their loved ones feelings about the changes they are facing.  It’s also a good time to remember family to leave the negative feelings at home.   Yes, this is change for everyone in your family.  However, it is important to try and help provide emotional support to the loved one that is facing the move.  Typically senior adults don’t like change.  So do your best to address it with them but keep it positive!   One of the most beautiful things I have experienced is watching other residents in a community reach out and provide emotional support to new members in the community.  They are often times one of the most understanding resources…because they have been there!  So reach out and be positive because a good attitude can be one of those things like the old commercial catch phrase advised…never leave home without it.

Celebrating Mothers

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring our mothers, the special bonds we have with our mothers and the influence that mothers have in our society.  The celebration of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century and has grown over time.  In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

We celebrate our mothers with cards, flowers and perhaps a trip out to lunch. This year, take make some extra effort to make the day special for your mom.  Here are some ideas to make this year’s celebration one to remember:

  • Make it a whole day event. Plan out the day with several fun activities that are things that your mom loves to do, but wouldn’t make the time to do herself.
  • Gather the generations together to celebrate. If you love in close proximity to your mom and other female relatives, get everyone together to celebrate.  If you don’t live nearby, do an online group video call or group telephone call with all the special women in your family.
  • Take pictures and share them. In today’s world of social media and cell phone cameras, we don’t take the time to share all those pictures we snap on our cell phone.  Make a collage of all the great pictures taken this day and share with everyone.
  • Make a point to tell your mom how she has influenced your life. We all tell our moms we love them, but letting your mom know how she has positively influenced your life and the person you have become is a priceless gift.

So start planning now put your thinking cap on and come up with special ideas of your own.  Make Mother’s Day 2016 one to remember for both your mom and you.