The Amada Senior Care blog discusses all things senior care - including in home care, assisted living, health and wellness, nutrition, long-term care insurance, and veterans programs.
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Dr. Seuss once said, “To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world.” From your perspective, who is most present in your every day? Who supports you, offers companionship, and imparts meaning into your life? For many of our readers, it is a caregiver. If you’re the caregiver – it may be the senior you care for. When we find ourselves in situations that call for it, most of us know to approach elder care gently. We take notice of and are...
Dr. Seuss once said, “To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world.”
From your perspective, who is most present in your every day? Who supports you, offers companionship, and imparts meaning into your life? For many of our readers, it is a caregiver. If you’re the caregiver – it may be the senior you care for.
When we find ourselves in situations that call for it, most of us know to approach elder care gently. We take notice of and are sensitive to the frail health of many seniors, but we should also be more intuitively careful about two underlying things: the senior’s perception of their care and the caregiver’s feelings surrounding their service.
Pride, a common obstacle to the honest conversations we should have with people who mean the most to us, frequently inhibits individuals from admitting how hard it is to accept dependence on care from others. More specifically, many have difficulty acknowledging that this dependence is often crucial to wellbeing. On the other hand, maybe you have sacrificed a bit of pride to care for someone other than yourself. You may feel that you are crucial to someone else’s health and happiness, but at the cost of providing for your own. Yet at the preservation of the care recipient’s sensitivities, you may not complain about it. On the positive side, you may feel infinite gratitude towards your caregiver if you are a senior. Caregivers might also enjoy the reward of having a fulfilling purpose.
When a senior comes to need long-term care (typically after a health crisis and hospital discharge), both the senior and their family can undergo extreme stress. Suddenly, life is different. Before a health crisis, seniors are capable of independent living, whether it be at home or in a senior community. They can move about on their own, cook, clean, dress and use the bathroom in complete privacy. All of this is altered if health problems require someone else to provide for a senior’s long-term care. The task of long-term care might come unexpectedly upon a person who never planned for the responsibility. Both parties involved might feel trapped, guilty or lost. Wondering about what the other person feels about you might even be a big source of anxiety.
First of all, know that you are not alone in feeling guilt or loss of self-esteem while you either receive care or provide it. You are not to blame for what you might feel during this kind of experience. A lot of these feelings are contingent on external factors that occur during difficult situations. There are things about aging and long-term care that you cannot control.
However, your perception and accommodation to the changing environments around you are within your control. No matter what negative feelings you might have as a senior or a family caregiver, there is always a brighter side. Read this article for some tips on achieving peace of mind when accepting dependence on care from others.
Look at the situation where the senior receives care. Is it in their home? Is it in an independent senior living community? In a nursing home? In hospice? A senior’s comfort level with care relates to the amount of service provided in their living situation, and the type of service provided. The level of dependency a senior has in his or her living environment affects how good or bad they feel about it.
In independent living facilities, seniors have relatively high autonomy, but a lower need for care unless they prefer more. A study in Houston, Texas reported one elder in an independent living facility saying, “You feel like you are independent [here] because you are paying your rent and everything, and you can lock your door and nobody bothers you… When you lose your independence, you lose everything.” Perhaps the perceived loss of independence is why 29% of older people would rather die than enter a full-service nursing home, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Besides independent living facilities and nursing homes, there is the option of a senior receiving long-term care within their own home. In fact, most seniors prefer this option today. In such an intimate setting, where seniors can feel uneasy to open their home and privacy to a stranger, seniors’ loved ones typically become main caregivers or managers of care. This can cause problems for some families.
While some seniors believe that children have the obligation to care for their elderly parents, respondents to the Houston survey said it would be more “dignified” for a trained health professional to care for them, rather than their children. Children of seniors who become caregivers are reportedly more often the eldest daughter. A daughter supervising a parent’s bathing or toileting, for example, may cross boundaries they have not encountered before. In contrast, trained health care workers use the professional-functional type of touch to care for their patients. Though unfamiliar at first, a trained professional’s contact is impersonal and almost businesslike, which allows for seniors to relax in a mental “boundary.” Caregivers such as these are accessible in any kind of senior community and can be hired through agencies for visits to your home.
As mentioned, a senior’s eldest daughter is widely predicted to become the main family caregiver. Spouses are just as likely to care for senior citizens, though. While most of us go our entire adult lives without depending on care from a close loved one, this filial piety is actually a traditional norm for families in some cultures.
In Confucian philosophy, filial piety is the virtue of respecting one’s elders. This philosophy is why many collectivistic Asian cultures make senior care a family duty. Behind the virtue is a feeling of obligation to “return the favor” of a parent’s care during childhood. Americans who are grateful to their parents for their upbringing tend to share the same desire to care for their parents in return. But for Asians, Asian-Americans and Americans alike, demands clash between a rising elder population and a shortage of time and resource in an advancing world.
The press for time, energy, financial resources and the attention of a caregiver can cause stress. The stress directly felt by a caregiver is almost never positively perceived by a senior benefiting from care. Especially if a caregiver is a loved one, it can pain seniors to see them under pressure to provide for needs on top of their own, or worse – at the sacrifice of their own. If this is part of why it is hard to accept dependence on care from others, take a good look at the relationship between “Who cares for who?” and imagine ways that you can be on the giving end of it.
A senior who receives care from another is not always just a passive recipient. The elderly have much to give back. Our elder years can be some of the richest times in our lives, especially since we have experience, lessons and insight to share. You might be the one person your caregiver sees most every day, so take comfort in their presence and remember that they want to do the same in yours. Gratitude expressed verbally or in body language tells your caregiver that their work is valuable. Respectful feedback on the quality of their work will not only help you but also strengthen the caring spirit and skill of your helper. And as you have done with any other friends in your life, share good news and interesting things with your caregiver, laugh, debate, entertain and enjoy each other’s company.
Accepting dependence on care from others is a two-way street. Seniors receiving long-term care must find a way to accept that they need someone else for activities of daily living. Caregivers must understand what it takes for a senior to be receptive of care in all physical and emotional capacities to maximize the quality of their care. To mutually ensure this goal is accomplished, these things are important to know about:
“Accepting Dependence on Care from Others,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada contributor.
Do you have a plan to pay for long-term care (LTC) services? Long-term care insurance (LTCI) helps protect a policyholder’s income and assets against the financial risk of an LTC event. While people may think policyholders benefit the most, LTCI can protect the whole family. LTCI benefits policyholders in many ways, including the following: 1. LTCI Protects Your Hard-Earned Income & Assets It’s no surprise that LTC services are expensive. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care...
Do you have a plan to pay for long-term care (LTC) services? Long-term care insurance (LTCI) helps protect a policyholder’s income and assets against the financial risk of an LTC event. While people may think policyholders benefit the most, LTCI can protect the whole family.
LTCI benefits policyholders in many ways, including the following:
1. LTCI Protects Your Hard-Earned Income & Assets
It’s no surprise that LTC services are expensive. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, it currently costs $48,000 per year to live in an assisted living facility. In 20 years, the cost is estimated jump to over $86,000 per year.
Do you have income and assets set aside to pay for care in the future? When planning for retirement, don’t forget to factor in LTC costs. Or, transfer your risk to an insurance company now to protect yourself when the need may arise. LTCI protects policyholders from the financial burden of an LTC event so you can keep your hard-earned income and assets.
2. YOU Decide Where & How to Receive Care
Outside of protecting your income, one of the best reasons to buy LTCI is to protect your ability to choose. When you plan for LTC, you get to decide where and how you want to receive care.
If you prefer to stay in your home, LTCI can pay for home care several days a week or even 24-hour care if your needs increase over time. If you enjoy being social and living in community, LTCI can also pay for assisted living at the location of your choice. By buying LTC coverage and sharing your wishes with your loved ones, you get to decide your future.
3. Fewer Surprises
Chances are you already plan for the worst-case scenarios with car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and life insurance. LTCI is no different.
When there’s over a 50% chance of needing care in your lifetime, planning ahead helps avoid the panic which can result from an unexpected LTC event. Long Term Care Insurance doesn’t just help pay your LTC bills, they also offer dedicated care coordinators to answer questions and help make sure you’re getting the care you need.
LTCI Benefits for Loved Ones
LTCI policyholders aren’t the only people who benefit from LTCI coverage. Here’s how family members and loved ones also benefit:
1. Less Financial Strain & Care Coordination
Many family members take on the time, physical strain, and financial expense of a parent or grandparent who needs LTC services. When you’re covered with LTCI, your loved ones can focus on making sure you’re being properly taken care of and not worry about making sure the bills can be paid.
2. A Plan to Follow
If you don’t create an LTC plan for yourself, your loved ones will be forced to make one for you. This can involve making decisions on where and how you receive care. When your wishes are clearly outlined, your loved ones have a plan to follow and know exactly what to do and who to call to get the LTCI claims process going.
3. Protects Their Health & Offers Peace of Mind
Caring for a loved one can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing on individuals, especially over a long period of time. Family caregivers are more prone to depression and even shorter lifespans. LTCI protects your family’s health and gives everyone peace of mind.
So, Who Benefits the Most?
Everyone! Policyholders keep their power to choose and protect their hard-earning income and assets. Loved ones gain a plan to follow and protect their own health and income. Everyone gains peace of mind as the insurance company handles the financial burden and care coordination of an LTC event.
Interested in a creating an LTC plan for your future? Request a free LTCI quote from the top insurance carriers today.
This blog is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific estate planning, insurance, tax, or legal advice. Please note, LTC Consumer and its representatives do not give financial planning, tax, or legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor or attorney concerning your own situation.
“LTCI – Who Benefits the Most? Policyholders or Loved Ones?” by Shelley Bohlman, MasterCare America, Amada Blog Contributor.
As parents and grandparents age, many adult children (and seniors themselves) fear that their loved one will be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, enduring years of cognitive decline and ultimately death as a result of the crippling disease. When we think of mental health issues in seniors, Alzheimer’s and dementia is at the forefront of our thoughts, conversations, and research. However, there is another silent killer that poses the biggest threat to senior mental health––...
As parents and grandparents age, many adult children (and seniors themselves) fear that their loved one will be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, enduring years of cognitive decline and ultimately death as a result of the crippling disease. When we think of mental health issues in seniors, Alzheimer’s and dementia is at the forefront of our thoughts, conversations, and research. However, there is another silent killer that poses the biggest threat to senior mental health–– depression.
Depressive disorders are the top mental health issue faced by seniors today, said gerontologist Patrick Arbore, EdD, director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief-Related Services, a program of the Institute on Aging in San Francisco that he founded in 1973. Closely following are cognitive disorders (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease), anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders, respectively.
According to the Center for Disease Control, between one and five percent of seniors living at home suffer from major depression; the numbers rise to about 14 percent for those who need home health care or are living in an assisted living facility. Those who have chronic diseases are more prone to suffer from depression. Although the rate of those affected increases with age, depression is not a normal part of aging and can be treated in 80 percent of cases. However, depression and other mental health issues are widely unrecognized and untreated among seniors.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, seniors may begin to experience seasonal depression, which often leads to further depression when untreated. A variety of factors can bring on the “holiday blues” – cold weather, shorter days, disabilities that prevent participation in holiday traditions, loneliness, isolation, loss of a spouse, etc. “The holidays are a time of tradition and the gathering of family and friends for many people,” said social worker Mary Stehle. “For some seniors, this can be a time that reminds them of losses…the loss of loved ones, the loss of a home, and the loss of good health.”
If these symptoms continue to accumulate and worsen, it can lead to bigger issues, said Arbore. “Loneliness and isolation are such a concern among community-dwelling elderly,” he said. “If that milder depression isn’t recognized, it can get worse, for example, with the death of a spouse or adult son or daughter. That loss could trigger a major depressive episode.”
Arbore said the main reason depression so often goes untreated in seniors is because the value placed on independence makes it difficult to ask for help. “It’s going to make them less likely to say to somebody ‘I haven’t been sleeping that well,’ ‘I’m not making good decisions,’ or ‘I’m not eating very well,’” Arbore said. “That would normally trigger a question about, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ But often – even if they are aware that something has been changing – they still won’t ask for help.” He also pointed out that many seniors don’t know who to ask for help, and may not see the need for a specialist, like a geriatrician.
So how do we fight elderly depression? Arbore said some crucial needs include mental health specialists for seniors and awareness among family, caregivers, and the healthcare industry of the signs of depression and how to treat it. The following are some signs that a senior may be suffering from a mental health concern, such as depression:
As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, we can help seniors living with mental health issues like depression by continuing to raising awareness of the issue, educating the public, providing support, and replacing the stigma of mental illness with hope.
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult no matter what time of the year it is; while the holidays can be stressful regardless of whether you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or not! Trying to juggle both of these stressors at the same time can be enough to make you think about skipping holiday festivities altogether. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. With proper planning and prioritizing, you can make the holidays enjoyable for you and...
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult no matter what time of the year it is; while the holidays can be stressful regardless of whether you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or not! Trying to juggle both of these stressors at the same time can be enough to make you think about skipping holiday festivities altogether. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. With proper planning and prioritizing, you can make the holidays enjoyable for you and the person you are caring for. Here are 5 tips to make the holidays easier for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
When planning holiday meals, it’s important to think about any diet restrictions your senior loved one may have. There are certain foods that can worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Ensuring your senior loved one sticks to their diet can help them keep their cognitive difficulties at bay. For example, sugar. Not only is sugar a known to increase dementia-related symptoms, nearly 20 percent of seniors have diabetes, making it crucial for them to limit their sugar intake. Make sure there is at least one sugar-free option available for your loved one to enjoy.
Please note, if your loved one is in the later stages of the disease, you may find it difficult to get them to eat. In this case, you may have to add sugar to their food to make it more appealing.
Another thing to mention is, many seniors have diet restrictions due to underlying medical conditions. Aside from sugar, cholesterol and sodium are a few of the most commonly restricted ingredients among older adults. Try your best to limit these ingredients to prevent your loved one from feeling left out. If you are attending a meal hosted by someone else, make sure to let them know about any diet restrictions ahead of time.
Many adults suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia have a difficult time being in crowded places. This is especially true if they are in the later stages of the disease. Crowds can make them anxious or agitated. Here are a few things to be mindful of.
Gatherings. If you host a gathering, try to keep it on the smaller side of the scale. If you are invited to a gathering, ask about the number of people who will be attending. Also, be sure to ask about the environment. If the guest list is small, but attendees are going to be confined in a small area, it may be a good idea to make more appropriate plans for your loved one.
Shopping. The same concept applies to holiday shopping. Crowded shopping malls and stores can leave a person suffering from Alzheimer’s feeling confused and disoriented. As a result, they could wander and end up getting lost. It may be a good time to introduce your loved one to online shopping if they haven’t been already. If going out is a must, try to avoid shopping during popular times.
Another reason it may be a good idea to avoid crowds this holiday season is due to the noise level. Noise is a common stressor for people with Alzheimer’s. It can make them overstimulated and agitated. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you should think about the noise level when making plans with your loved one.
If you are planning to take them to an event, ask the host about the noise level. For example, is there going to be loud music? Is there going to be a quieter area? Or maybe there is a certain time during the event where it is quieter. In this case, you could bring your loved one during the quieter time of the event. For example, if you know loud music is going to be played after dinner, you and your loved one can just come for the dinner.
Another noise to be aware of is background noise. Many people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have a difficult time relaxing when there are multiple stimuli going on. Because of this, it may be difficult to do things like eat and listen to music. Turning off the music during holiday meals is a simple thing you could do to help prevent your loved one from becoming overstimulated.
Another thing to consider when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is the lighting. Here are a few times you should think about lighting.
Holiday light shows. Holiday light shows can be huge stressors for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, especially if they are in the later stages of the disease. As a responsible Alzheimer’s caregiver, you should carefully consider whether it’s a good idea to take your loved one to a light show. Lights can easily over-stimulate them and cause them to become extremely confused.
Gatherings. Aside from the holiday lights, you should also be concerned with lighting in general. When having or attending events, make sure the area is well-lit. Older adults often experience a loss of vision. As a safety precaution, keep them away from poorly lit areas that may make it more difficult to see. This can result in a fall or an accident that could have easily been prevented with proper lighting.
Another thing to take into account when planning your holiday festivities is the type of activities you will take part in. You want to be considerate of not only your loved one’s cognitive limitations but their physical ones as well. For example, if your loved one has a difficult time walking or standing for long periods of time, make sure there is always a place for them to sit.
Also, be mindful of when you plan your activities. For example, many people suffering from Alzheimer’s do better in the mornings than the evenings. If this is the case, plan your activities during the earlier part of the days.
Here are a few activities for Alzheimer’s caregivers to consider.
Decorate cookies. While it may not be safe for your senior loved one to be responsible for baking the cookies, they can certainly help decorate them.
Put together a photo book. Your loved one would love to put together photo books. It is an excellent way to bond and remind them of special events.
Watch holiday movies. Holiday movies can be a great activity for senior loved ones.
Temperature. Skin loses the ability to maintain insulation, making extreme temperatures particularly dangerous for older adults. Weather that is too warm could send them into a heat stroke while freezing temperatures can lead to hypothermia. It is best to avoid extreme temperatures altogether.
Water. Make sure to keep them well-hydrated, regardless of the temperature.
Restroom availability. Make sure there are plenty of restrooms available for your loved one.
Alcohol. It is best for them to avoid alcohol. Make them feel included by offering nonalcoholic versions of their favorite drinks.
Simplify. The holidays are a time for friends and family to spend time together. Focus more on the experience as opposed to their detail.
Remember, the holidays can not only be difficult for you, they can also be difficult for your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Their disease is life-changing and irreversible. Taking the initiative to plan with empathy and accommodate your loved one whenever you can is going to make the holidays a lot more enjoyable for the both of you. Your loved one won’t be around forever so enjoy them while you still can.
“5 Tips to Make the Holiday’s Easier for Alzheimer’s Caregivers,” Ashley LeVine, Amada Blog Contributor.
Download the pdf: “5 Tips to Make the Holidays Easier for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.”
Today, people are living longer than ever before. Rapid improvements in healthcare technology have given many the opportunity to live well beyond a century while maintaining the ability to do things they never thought possible with their aging bodies. As exciting as this may sound, living a longer life comes with new challenges, including the threat of cognitive decline. For many, just saying the words ‘cognitive decline’ is enough to cause a bit of anxiety. No one wants to live...
Today, people are living longer than ever before. Rapid improvements in healthcare technology have given many the opportunity to live well beyond a century while maintaining the ability to do things they never thought possible with their aging bodies. As exciting as this may sound, living a longer life comes with new challenges, including the threat of cognitive decline. For many, just saying the words ‘cognitive decline’ is enough to cause a bit of anxiety. No one wants to live their life with the constant fear that they are going to lose their mind. Fortunately, there are certain activities seniors can incorporate into their routine that have been scientifically shown to delay the process of cognitive decline by improving brain health.
Keep reading to learn 3 surprising ways seniors can boost the health of their brain.
One activity seniors can take advantage of is the practice of meditation. Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the present by bringing your attention to a single reference point. This reference point can be anything from breathing to a single word or phrase. While studies have shown meditation can be beneficial across many age groups, the potential impact meditation can have on senior’s cognitive function is particularly attractive.
Memory is one of the most common cognitive-related complaints among seniors. Some of the areas that are triggered during meditation are those that contribute to the efficiency of long-term and short-term memory. Stimulating these areas during meditation has been shown to strengthen them, resulting in an improvement in one’s overall ability to remember.
Manage Stress and Reduce Brain Shrinkage
Stress in small doses is essential, but there is a fine line between a healthy level of stress and having too much stress. Without getting into too much detail, just know that chronic stress is one of the quickest ways to age your brain. Meditation helps keep stress levels low by encouraging relaxation. Simple meditation practices, such as mindfulness, have been shown to lead to an overall improvement in brain health. When analyzing the brains of those who practiced meditation regularly, aging had less of an effect on their brain. Mindfulness specifically has been shown to slow the shrinkage of the brain that occurs with age.
Chronic stress is one of the quickest ways to age your brain.
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Meditation has also been linked to an increase in resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back and recover quickly from difficulties. The ability to do this is crucial for optimal health.
Gardening is one of the most popular home-based activities in the U.S., yet it is often overlooked when planning a healthy lifestyle. Gardening can provide some significant health benefits to people of all ages, but the benefits for seniors are truly noteworthy. Commonly known as a leisure activity, gardening has been shown to improve many health issues found among seniors. A few reasons seniors may want to consider picking up a shovel include the following:
If you decide to include fruits and vegetables in your garden, gardening can be a great way to improve your diet.You will always have plenty of fresh, organic, and in-season produce on hand. By going this route, you eliminate any excuse for you not to include these nutritious foods on your plate.
Gardening is also an excellent activity for seniors because it can be a source of gentle exercise. Seniors who have problems with mobility often find conventional forms of exercise difficult or even painful. Gardening gives seniors a way to participate in physical activity without sacrificing their comfort or safety.
Enhance Mental Health
Today’s society spends much of their time inside. As we know, this cultural norm causes us to miss out on the natural vitamin D we get from the sun. Vitamin D is a crucial component of happiness and the lack of it can lead to mental health issues such as depression. Gardening outside gives seniors the opportunity to get outside and soak up some sun.
Like mentioned, chronic stress is detrimental to brain health. Gardening can help keep stress levels at bay by promoting relaxation.
Learn Something New
Gardening also gives seniors the opportunity to learn something new. Due to the common notion, “use it or lose it,” learning has been shown to help maintain cognitive function.
Volunteering might do a lot more than make you feel good, according to the AARP. Studies have proven that volunteering could increase the size of the brain regions most vulnerable to the effects of age.
Encourage Feelings of Connectedness
Feeling connected with friends and family plays a huge role in senior health. As you age, it may be more difficult to meet new people. Getting involved in the community by volunteering gives seniors the opportunity to do just that. When you volunteer in your community, you are surrounded with plenty of potential friends.
Increase the Sense of Purpose
Volunteering has the ability to give seniors an improved sense of purpose. Many studies have shown this feeling to have a positive correlation with health. Having a reason to get up in the morning can help give your brain that little nudge to help you keep moving.
Improve Overall Brain Function
Becoming a volunteer can improve the overall function of your brain. Studies have shown volunteers who were at risk for problems with memory and thinking skills had significant gains in their executive function, which is responsible for various cognitive tasks including planning, reasoning, and organizing.
Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a one-step solution guaranteed to defend your brain against cognitive decline. There are, however, studies that have proven that lifestyle can make a huge difference in how well your brain ages. Incorporating these activities into your lifestyle can help to preserve your healthy brain. The best thing about these activities is not that they are incredibly simple or that they are enjoyable, but that you can start them right now for little to no cost at all.
“3 Surprising Ways Seniors Can Boost Brain Health,” Ashley LeVine, Amada Blog Contributor.
The needle of Mary’s sewing machine dipped in and out of her favorite apron. Her wrinkled hands shifted its fabric under the antique tank of metal that slowed to a stop as she looked at Emily and winked. Mary was mending the apron so Emily, who had been her caregiver for the past three years, could use it again while preparing their meals. Emily treasured these small moments. They reminded her why she loved her job. Emily knew it was hard for Mary to sew with her newly worsening...
The needle of Mary’s sewing machine dipped in and out of her favorite apron. Her wrinkled hands shifted its fabric under the antique tank of metal that slowed to a stop as she looked at Emily and winked. Mary was mending the apron so Emily, who had been her caregiver for the past three years, could use it again while preparing their meals.
Emily treasured these small moments. They reminded her why she loved her job.
Emily knew it was hard for Mary to sew with her newly worsening arthritis, but she also knew she would never give up her favorite hobby. “It can take my hands, but it can’t take my threads,” Mary liked to joke. Since both women wore many of the clothes Mary made and used them for years, her “threads” really did seem to last forever.
Emily wondered whether Mary’s assisted living community would allow her to bring the old sewing machine along when she moved in. She reflected on Mary’s life in her home, which Emily had been a part of for a long time. Mary’s husband Joe passed away a year ago. Over time, their four-bedroom house became too large to maintain. Soon her grown son and daughter wished for her to move into the Flower Hill Senior Community near their homes downtown. Through it all, Mary’s sewing machine had been there, ready for her to lovingly transform blank sheets of fabric into works of art.
The process of deciding between Mary staying at home and moving to Flower Hill was not easy. Emily remembered Mary’s son handing his mother a packet of pamphlets one day. It was the “Why Choose Flower Hill Senior Community” introduction for “Seniors Seasoned with Reason.” According to the pamphlets, Flower Hill was a reasonable, obvious choice for senior citizens who would need increasing long-term care, especially widows. The glossy photos in each pamphlet showed caregivers assisting residents with typical activities of daily living, like eating and reading books together.
“Do you see how each caregiver in these pictures is the only one holding the mug, or the book, or the hairbrush, everything!” Mary told her son as she looked at the pamphlets. “It can take my hands, but now they want to hold my hairbrush for me. Why should I go to Flower Hill? I have Emily. And the arthritis isn’t so bad,” she said, “I can still sew.”
At that time, Emily was entirely aware of the level of intensity with Mary’s arthritis. It was not only in her hands but her knees as well. Mary had trouble bending, climbing the stairs in the house, sitting down and getting into bed. Emily assisted Mary in doing anything her hands or knees made her struggle with. Knowing this, she did not say anything for fear that Mary’s son would think she was complaining. She had nothing to complain about, but she feared what might happen if Mary fell or lost complete use of her hands and knees.
Mary’s son told her that the pictures in the pamphlets did not show everything Flower Hill had to offer. The place was beautiful and full of friends her age. The assisted living staff could supplement Emily’s help with daily tasks, but they could also limit medical assistance if Mary preferred it. Mary liked her independence, even when traveling to doctors’ appointments all on her own, and Flower Hill would let her. They would even provide transportation for it. Mary and Emily wouldn’t have to worry about housekeeping in her large home anymore. The same would go for laundry and yard work. Wouldn’t that help everyone?
“Even Emily?” Mary asked him, “Can she come with me?”
The answer was yes. By move-in day, Emily was still commissioned as Mary’s personal caregiver, thanks to the senior care agency who worked it into the long-term care insurance policy Mary held. Besides Mary’s clothes, pictures, and other material belongings, the sewing machine was the most beloved item from home that Mary brought with her to Flower Hill, besides Emily herself.
“I bet this place costs a fortune,” Mary told Emily on the drive to Flower Hill.
Mary’s son had actually told Emily otherwise. He had run the numbers. The house Mary lived in with her husband would sell very soon. All the money would go towards Mary’s trust. The mortgage and utilities for Mary’s old house would have cost a significant amount compared to the cost of assisted living for Mary and her private room, so her expenses would actually decrease. Mary and Emily also wouldn’t need to shop and buy groceries since Flower Hill would take care of meals. Lastly, Emily had the option to work more caregiving hours, which Mary would need in time.
Emily looked forward to more time with Mary. She also hoped to care for her full time, rather than taking multiple clients from the agency. They were close friends and she made Mary feel much more comfortable in her new home. The two of them enjoyed teaming up while meeting new neighbors at Flower Hill. Mary was so proud to show other ladies the clothes Emily wore, like the birthday blouse she made her last year, or her hand-embroidered apron and even some shirts she had made for her past husband. Mary and Emily came to know wonderful people at Flower Hill.
Even if she worked longer shifts with Mary, Emily greatly appreciated the new assisted living community. She had continued providing her usual assistance but was able to focus more on Mary now that she didn’t have to clean a house or cook food. Whenever Mary needed help moving around through Flower Hill, strong staff members could lift her or walk along the women to support Mary from both sides. There were other caregivers at Flower Hill who liked Emily and became her friends. Every morning when she went to work, she came to Mary’s clean, private room, where Mary was usually already chatting over coffee with a neighbor.
“Look at this beautiful mug Susan gave me, Emily!” Mary said when she came in one day. “Look how sweet the little handle is. This is going right on my sewing table.”
Emily saw the mug in Mary’s soft, shaky hands and felt a small, treasured moment shared between them. She looked again and noticed crooked stitches in the sleeve of Mary’s shirt. When she saw Mary’s large smile, she decided to let them be.
This story provides a first-hand point of view into the process of choosing between in-home care and senior housing. Through Emily’s perspective, you saw the factors that lead seniors like Mary to need either an in-home caregiver or further assisted living in a senior community. Mary’s very realistic situation – where she has aged through circumstances that changed her life, where her health has limited her ability to live at home and how her children influenced her move to Flower Hill – may be similar to your own. If this is the case, this article intends to help you choose the right option for senior care.
Assisted living options, like Mary’s new home at Flower Hill Senior Community, are for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living, but not the intensive medical care of a hospital. Assisted living tends to have community routines for residents who each live in separate or shared rooms. Residents are provided meals, laundry service, housekeeping, transportation and sometimes fitness activities in assisted living.
In-home care takes place in the privacy of a senior’s own home and is usually provided by one or very few caregivers. Agencies like Amada Senior Care provide qualified caregivers to a senior for personalized, private care. In-home care is often paid for by the hour and depends on what type of care is provided. This option prevents seniors from being separated from their cherished homes and family.
Elderly adults in need of long-term care tend to prefer “aging in place” at home. However, certain constraints can inhibit seniors from remaining in their homes as they age. Health, finance or the wishes of children may lead families to consider placing their elderly loved one in assisted living. “Assisted living” is synonymous with multiple other terms, such as independent senior living communities, skilled nursing facilities, and the most stigmatized term of all: nursing homes.
Senior citizens today express a deep aversion to “ending up in a nursing home.” This applies a stigma against what may actually be the best option for providing seniors with their long-term care. Below is a table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of assisted living versus in-home care. As you can also see in Mary and Emily’s story, there are benefits to each.
If you need help deciding what kind of long-term care is best for you, we would love to speak with you. Amada Senior Care is committed to enriching lives by providing nurturing, compassionate, non-medical in-home care and by guiding families through the many senior housing options available for assisted living and care homes. Click here to find a location near you.
“Choosing In Home Care Versus Senior Housing,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada Blog Contributor.
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