As a service that provides information and resources to Seniors and their Caregivers, our #1 job is educating clients on the Senior Housing industry. There have always been so many misconceptions out there, and that’s been magnified during the past few months with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because our Senior population is at such a higher risk, the media has been reporting heavily on the status of the industry. With that, we’ve noticed that all Senior Housing, whether it be Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing, is usually being lumped together as “Nursing Homes”. Our concern is that this doesn’t give a clear depiction to families of what exactly is happening in the industry so they can make the best decisions for their loved ones. Let’s take this opportunity to break down some categories within Senior Housing, so you are armed with the information you need to ask the right questions.
For a long time, Nursing Homes were all that was available to aging Seniors. But fast forward to today, and the options are vast. To be honest, it’s one of the things we love most about the industry. It isn’t a “one size fits all”, so we’re able to match clients with the perfect fit tailored to their needs.
There are four main categories of Senior Housing and the main distinguishing factor is the level of care they are able to provide their residents.
The first level is Independent Living, and is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a perfect match for Seniors who are still Independent, mobile and have good cognition. These communities offer convenience of having everything they need under one roof, increased socialization and many times have amenities like dining, laundry and cleaning services. However, they are not licensed to offer personal care to residents. If cognitive or physical support is needed, they will need to bring in a Caregiver service to do that, similar to what they would do if living at home.
The next level up, Assisted Living, has the benefits of Independent living, but is designed specifically for residents that need various levels of daily personal care. Different kinds of assisted living licenses will dictate what kind of care they can offer and if they require a nurse to be on site. All that said, Assisted Living communities are a good fit for someone who is still active enough that they can engage and gain from social activities, but need daily care. You will usually only pay for the level of care needed and that can range from basic medication management, all the way up to assisting with all activities of daily life like bathing, dressing and toileting. Other amenities that are usually included are 3 daily meals, housekeeping and laundry services, transportation and a variety of daily activities.
Memory Care communities are very similar to Assisted Living, in terms of amenities, daily programming and layout with the only real difference being that they are in a secured building/unit. They are created specifically for residents with varying levels of dementia who are a risk to wander and are usually staffed with more Caregivers to offer a higher level of care to residents.
The facilities with the highest level of care are Skilled Nursing Facilities, and are what most people picture when they hear the phrase “Nursing Home”. They are created specifically to care for those that need daily medical services. The environment is typically similar to a hospital setting and offers 24/7 care that is typically appropriate for someone with pre-existing medical conditions and more complex health needs that require assistance from a skilled nurse.
Even though our description simplifies the Senior Housing options available, you can see how it’s impossible to get a clear understanding of the industry by bunching them all together as “Nursing Homes”.
Whether it’s now, as you’re trying to disseminate statistics you hear in the news, or down the road when long term planning with a loved one, make sure you’re digging deeper to get the information you really need.
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Mark and I are big believers in the power of routine. Not only does it bring comfort, but also helps encourage good habits & relieves stress. Daily routines are so incredibly important to Seniors and their Caregivers as it can create security, especially during times when things feel out of control. No matter how big or small, a predictable routine can reduce anxiety, helps days run smoothly and even improves sleep!
We see first hand how important routines are to our clients. They reduce uncertainty and the need for so much decision making, which also cuts down on arguments and power struggles. With so many Seniors and Caregivers navigating cognitive decline or dementia, routines can be a lifeline! One of the hardest parts of the Covid-19 pandemic, is that so many daily routines and rituals have had to stop and that adds to the emotional toll that isolation already is taking on the Senior community and their Caregivers.
Even though our days look completely different than they did a few months ago, having routines are more important than ever. If you haven’t already, it’s time to create some new ones! It will take some trial and error, but start with timing and activities that you think will work best and you enjoy…that will increase your chances of staying consistent.
An example of a morning routine is setting a time to wake up, then moving to brushing teeth & hair, changing clothes, eating a simple breakfast then a walk around the block or sitting on the porch for some fresh air.
An afternoon routine could be putting a favorite artist on the radio and working on a puzzle.
In the evening, try making some tea and sitting down to catch up on an old time show or program.
If you can, integrate activities that are physically or mentally engaging. That way you’re improving your health and happiness while you’re at it! For some unique activity ideas, check out our FREE idea guide for homebound seniors here: https://mailchi.mp/sunwaysalc/activitiesforhomeboundseniors
Stay safe out there!
Since starting Sunways, we’ve helped countless Caregivers on their journey to find answers, resources and information to make the best decisions for their aging loved one. And as much as each person’s story and circumstance is unique, there are many reoccurring questions and themes that we always seem to come across. Heck, they’re the same ones that our family asked when we navigated these waters ourselves with Mark’s Grandmother.
A big reason why we’ve always made a focus on sharing information we’ve acquired or lessons learned on places like social media, our blog or speaking engagements is because we want this knowledge in the hands of the people who need it the most…the ones who are overwhelmed, tired and confused on where to start…the Caregivers.
We’ve always been brainstorming about ways we can help more people with this information and tools. And then came along COVID-19. All of a sudden we were thrust into a whole new world! One where Seniors are more vulnerable than ever and Caregivers are left with even more pressure to make sense of it all…many times from afar and in quarantine themselves.
So with the idea of “social distancing” in mind, we created a way we could still give clients guidance, resources and tools, but in a safe and practical way in our new reality! The Caregiver Coach Course was born!
This 2 week LIVE course has 2 individual calls to get 1-on-1 support and insight, plus 4 group sessions where we’ll go over the 4 Pillars of Caregiving so each participant has the tools and information they need to help make the best decisions for their loved ones. But the best part is, each person will finish the course with a 1-on-1 call with us to create a personalized Action Plan to put all they learned into play.
We can’t wait to see the impact this course makes on the lives of Caregivers! To get more details or to sign up for our upcoming session, check out https://caregivercoach.sunwaysalc.com
Did you know that only 13% of Seniors have a plan for long-term care? Having conversations and making decisions BEFORE it’s needed not only ensures that Seniors are able to have a say in how they live out their life, but also takes the pressure off the shoulders of their Caregiver to make tough decisions.
8 out of 10 times, when a client comes to us to help find community options or resources, it’s usually in a time of crisis. Weighing options and coordinating when things are rushed and emotional makes the process even more overwhelming. Here are 4 steps to creating a long term care plan with your loved one:
Caregivers are responsible for so many day-to-day decisions and responsibilities. Starting the long term care planning with your loved one allows you to take some of that burden off your shoulders and allows you to rest easy that you know their wishes. Reach out to us directly to brainstorm or create a custom step-by-step plan to make sure you know all your options!
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Elli is the President of Sunways and loves spending time outside with her family, and is passionate about cooking and holistic health.