Guest Blog: How to Find the Right Senior Housing Community
By: Derek Hobson
First let’s tackle the basics. Many people are wary of senior care homes because there’s a stigma that surrounds them; people see them as gloomy, dreary, end-of-life communities. While certainly there was a time when this was the case (several decades ago), most communities have worked hard to battle this stereotype and they have succeeded.
Many communities have done away with “institution” or “hospital” –like settings. Even more have become increasingly lenient on policies regarding residents’ possessions; some facilities have been known to permit pets and even furniture to help it feel like home. So, when the time comes to transition into one of these senior care homes, the question becomes, “How do I find the right one?”
1. Find out About Affordability
This is usually at the top of everyone’s list and for good reason. Today, people are having children later in life. This isn’t a bad thing, but it means that around the same time their kids are going off to college, their parents are starting to need extra care. This can put a lot of stress on adult children, but some senior homes provide help.
Some Assisted Living Facilities will accept private pay for a period of time and then accept the rest through Medicaid. This way, your senior does not need to move and they won’t need to fear outliving their assets.
2. Visit the Community (Often)
If you think a community looks good for your loved one, then you should visit and revisit. You should tour the facility on different days of the week at different times. This way, you’ll get a much broader view of the day-to-day.
See if people are out and about, if engaging activities are going on, and if there’s a general feeling of community. If you show up to an elder care home that looks more like a ghost town, then it’s probably not the one for your loved one.
3. Talk to the Residents & Staff
This one is critical, as nothing quite beats a first-hand view into the establishment. Ask residents if they enjoy the community, what they do on a daily basis, and if they’re happy.
When asking the staff, of course they’re not going to disparage against the home, but one of the most important things to take notice of is how they interact with the residents. If they refer to them by name and have clearly established relationships with them, then this can be a huge indicator of the level of personal care your loved one will receive.
These are the three most important criteria to face when choosing an elder care community and they should give you a well-rounded idea of the facility you’ve chosen.
Home care is often preferred by seniors. An overwhelming 90% of seniors want to age in place. It is also affordable compared to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, hiring a caregiver may still be out of reach for many families.
1. Home Care Agency
A popular option for hiring a caregiver is through a home care agency. Hiring a caregiver through an agency allows seniors to have personalized one-on-one attention and flexible pricing (choosing less hours means saving on costs). You are also not responsible for any employer obligations like payroll tax and being held liable for any injuries that happen at home. However, this means that agencies pass administrative costs to the family which may still be unaffordable.
2. Family Caregivers
Did you know that there are an estimated 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States? Family caregivers perform a wide range of duties like paying bills, running errands, and helping with light household chores. Many family caregivers dedicate on average 20 hours a week towards providing care and some take time off work as well—resulting in a loss of earnable income. While being a family caregiver can save you money, your loved one may have needs that go beyond what you can support.
3. Local Classifieds
You can hire a caregiver directly through your local classifieds or online directory. Hiring a caregiver directly, and not through an agency can provide more affordable home care for your loved one, but there are some extra hurdles. You will need to personally interview and screen potential candidates. This involves meeting with the caregiver, verifying their references, and performing a background check. If your loved one needs care immediately, this process may be difficult and time consuming to do properly.
After learning about using eCaregivers, you can find private caregivers with rates starting at $10-$14/hour for care, versus $20-$24 with an agency, helping you save thousands of dollars in a year while still ensuring quality home care for your loved one. All of the caregivers on eCaregivers have passed a background check so you have a peace of mind that you’re hiring a vetted caregiver for your loved one.
About the Author
Peter Kang is a writer for eCaregivers. He is inspired by his caregiver experience with his late grandfather and role model, a Korean War veteran, to help families find affordable care for their loved ones. Follow Peter on Facebook and Twitter.
I have been fortunate to have a number of mothers in my life – by birth, marriage, or adoption. Each of these women has helped to shape my perspectives and values in various ways during different seasons of life. As Mother’s Day approaches, reflecting on the role that mothers play in our lives is a worthy exercise. So, here is my tribute to my mothers.
My first mother is the one who gave me life. I like to think of this as the Spring of my life. Mom Phyllis raised me until the age of 9 years. She tended to the scrapes and cuts, helped to mold my personality, hand-made my clothes, and made life an adventure, all whilst being the wife of a busy doctor who was studying to be a pediatric surgeon. Thank you, Mom, for treasuring my childhood.
When my parents got divorced, a second mother entered the Summer of my life. Mom Kay took three confused and fragile children under her wings as a young step-mother in her early 20’s. She nurtured us as if we were her own. She helped me navigate the difficult teenage years and transition into young adulthood, listening to countless stories of puppy love, crushed hearts, and future dreams. Mom brought faith and light into a home that had been shattered by divorce. She has given me an example of a loving and faithful wife to my father for 45 years. Thank you, Mom, for preserving my spirit and encouraging my faith in God.
In college, I attended a little Baptist church where they had a program in which families could “adopt” a college student. Through a round-about way, I was adopted by Marvin and Patsy Bell. Grandma Bell, as my children later called her, saw me through my first 17-year marriage, a painful divorce, and was a second mother to many other young women like me. She has been a faithful friend and mentor for more than 38 years. Ma Bell stood in the place of the mothers who couldn’t be with me during some of the coldest and darkest Winters of life. She attended countless school programs for my kids and never forgets a birthday to this day. Thank you, Ma, for giving me the example of the kind of Grandmother I want to be.
Lastly, when I remarried to my current husband, Jim, I gained a wonderful mother-in-law. Gracie is true to her name. She has a loving and nonjudgmental spirit. She always thinks the best of people and is kind and gentle. In the Fall of my life, she embraced me as a daughter and is always ready to help in times of need. Thank you, Mom Mauk, for showing me what unconditional love looks like.
All of us have mothers in our lives that we need to thank. So, this Mother’s Day, purpose to give a special blessing to those women who have so influenced your life. Without them, our days would be less rich and the journey much lonelier. Celebrate those who have traversed the seasons of life with you!
This week we celebrate National Nurse’s Week beginning on May 6th and ending on May 12th (Florence Nightingale’s birthday). The profession of nursing has come far since its inception. When I went to nursing school in the late 1970’s, we were still wearing blue pin-striped uniforms and caps. There were striping and pinning ceremonies to mark milestones in the 4 year journey to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and it wasn’t until the early 1980’s when my nursing school started to eliminate those bulky caps that were so difficult to keep on our head. When the mandatory uniforms and nursing caps were no longer the symbol of the nurse, we had to develop other ways for patients and families to recognize us. I hope that we are now recognized for the knowledgeable care and comfort that we provide to others. It has been said that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. I would suggest that we are that and much more:
Nurses are timeless. Florence Nightingale left the comforts of home care for the sick. Nurses are there for the beginnings and ends of countless lives. We hold the hands of the young, the old, and everyone in between. The shifts are long and if a patient needs us, we work overtime to finish the job. We might wear a uniform, scrubs, a lab coat, or a suit, but we transcend fashion to don whatever our patients need for safe, quality care.
Nurses are trusted. Gallup polls consistently show that the public trusts the ethics and honesty of nurses above even that of physicians, making us one of the most trustworthy professions in the eyes of the people. Nurses adhere to the ANA Code of Ethics that emphasizes supporting patients’ autonomy and the concepts of beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity. All nurses receive education in ethics, with patient care at the center.
Nurses are inspiring. How many people can say that their jobs changed a life? As a rehabilitation nurse, one woman who had experienced a stroke told me, “I had stroke and died three times. I was in ICU for weeks, but I didn’t feel alive until I came to rehab. Rehabilitation nurses helped me live again!” Yes, transforming lives is what nurses engage in daily. In fact, many of us can name that one nurse that we remember and would choose to have with us if we were sick or dying – that nurse who knows how to inspire and care.
Nurses are experts. Nurses are expert caregivers, patient advocates, teachers, and researchers. We know the realm of health care better than anyone because we are the licensed professionals who are there 24/7. There are more nurses with advanced practice degrees and certifications than ever before. Nursing has evolved into a discipline with multiple specialties that support best practice in numerous areas that affect health and wellness. Nurses hold positions of leadership in government, the military, organizational systems, health care corporations, and major companies, all attesting to the value of our knowledge and education.
Nurses are still carriers of light. Florence Nightingale was known as “the lady with the lamp”. I always found that image inspiring. One of my favorite memories from my early career occurred while I was working the night shift on a geriatric unit. An elderly man couldn’t get the music he liked to play on the radio, so he asked for someone to sing some old hymns to him. I did so reluctantly at first, holding his hand and singing all the old songs of the faith that I could remember. The next day, I heard him excitedly telling his family members, “An angel came to my room and held my hand and sang to me last night!” I was puzzled when later he didn’t seem to recognize me as the singing “angel”. The following night, he died unexpectedly. Reflecting on that experience, I believe that higher powers were at work there. Maybe I was just the vessel through which a bit of healing flowed. Since then, I have seen countless similar examples of extraordinary happenings when caring nurses are involved.
Nurses do more than just enact art and science. Sometimes…our work is like a little piece of heaven.
Brisk walking a offers low-impact activity that is relatively simple, can be done most anywhere, is fun to do with friends, and is easily modifiable to increase calorie burn. In addition to strengthening your bones and muscles, routine walking can also help prevent lifestyle conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve your balance, coordination, and even your mood.
If you are looking for quick ways to take your daily walk to the next level, don’t miss these expert tips:
The best exercise is that which gets your heart rate up to at least 55 to 85% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). The formula for MHR = 220 – your age. So if you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is around 155. Speeding up your walk so your heart rate climbs over 109 (70% of 155) for at least 10 minutes is going to count as good aerobic exercise that is helping strengthen your heart muscle.
Walking up an incline naturally requires the body to work harder and use up more energy. This can help you build endurance over time and tone muscle groups in your legs you weren’t previously engaging. If you are concerned about a weak knee, reduce lateral knee movement and prevent discomfort with a knee brace specifically designed for walking.
Instead of doing your usual walk around the roads in your neighborhood, head to a local trail and take a hike. Hiking up and downhill will burn more calories as well as pose a greater challenge to your balance and coordination skills. Exercising like this in nature has also been shown to boost feelings of attentiveness and positivity.
Incorporate more intervals of high-intensity activity into your walk and you can both improve your endurance and aerobic capacity as well as give your metabolism a boost. 5 minutes of brisk walking punctuated with 30 seconds of squats, lunges, or crunches, followed by another 5 minutes of walking and then 1 minute of jogging and so on and so forth also spices up your walking routine and makes it a little more fun.