4 Mistakes to Avoid when Researching Retirement Communities
If you’re beginning to look for retirement communities for your dad, willyou know where to begin? While the search may seem daunting, it’simportant to be thorough: Choosing the right community—especially ifhe needs the support of an assisted living residence—will impact hisquality of life as well as his happiness.
Save yourself a little time—and wasted energy—by avoiding these 4mistakes that people commonly make when searching for assistedliving communities:
1. NOT BEING REALISTIC
The number one thing to keep in mind when looking at a potentialretirement community is that this will be Dad’s home. There are manyoptions to consider, but your job is to remain realistic about Dad’swants and needs. Look for a retirement or assisted living communitythat can support him now as well as in the future. Moving Dad fromplace to place as he ages is an expensive proposition—not to mentionone that will take an emotional toll on both of you.
2. NOT INCLUDING FAMILY MEMBERS
While this move matters the most for Dad, it’s also a big move for yourfamily. Even if you’re the “point person” on the search, discuss youroptions with him and your family members. Together, discuss theretirement community and if it has the right mix of activities, amenitiesand services for Dad—as well as if it feels comfortable to him.Including everyone in the discussion can be helpful as he makes hisfinal decision.
3. WAITING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
If possible, don’t wait to take action until the need for assisted living isurgent. Start searching for options early on so you can thoroughlyresearch the retirement communities and narrow down your topoptions. Waiting until the last minute can cause you to act underpressure, incur unnecessary stress and potentially select a placethat’s not a good fit for Dad. If and when the time comes, it will bemuch easier to make the move to assisted living if you already havedesirable options in mind.
4. NOT DOING YOUR RESEARCH
Don’t just scratch the surface when researching: Thoroughly dive intoall that the retirement communities have to offer. From the outside,several communities may seem comparable and a good fit Dad, butwhat do they each offer? Think of Dad’s needs—now and in thefuture—when researching places. Will he need transportation?Individualized services? Community activities? These are all questionsto consider when choosing the right retirement community. Take thetime to visit potential communities to meet with the staff and see howresidents interact.
8 Lifestyle Healthy Habits for Seniors
It’s a fact: People celebrate more birthdays now than ever before.According to data from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), by 2050there could be as many as one million individuals living in the U.S.who are 100 years old or older.
Want to be one of them? Follow these suggestions offered by the NIA.
1. Exercise. A good idea at any age, exercising as you get older helpsreduce the risk for disabilities and age-related diseases. Exercisehelps keep you limber—and you’ll feel more energetic, too!
2. Eat healthy foods. Don’t forgo good nutrition: It’s the fuel yourbody needs to function well. Ask the dietitian at your grocery store oryour senior living community about healthy food choices and learnmore at Choose My Plate.
3. Watch your weight. Weighing too much (or too little) can impactyour long-term health, so follow your doctor’s recommendations to findthe ideal weight for you.
4. Stop smoking. Even if you used to smoke, there are healthbenefits once you quit. Forgo other tobacco products as well.
5. Quiz yourself. Keeping your brain active with puzzles, games, andother challenges can help you stay sharp as you age.
6. Practice wellness. Treat yourself to simple pleasures to stay welland healthy. Socialize with those you enjoy, get plenty of sleep, andexpress gratitude for what you have.
7. See your doctor. Regular checkups can help you stay on top ofyour health.
8. Drink only in moderation if you consume alcohol.
For seniors with memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s or dementia,regularly participating in stimulating activities can improve their qualityof life. Creating meaningful experiences for Mom—at whatever stageof her condition—has the potential to engage her and help her retain ahappier, more positive outlook.
Here are 10 tips for making activities do-able for seniors with memoryimpairment:
1. Make activities simple
Keep activities uncomplicated or lessen the chances for wronganswers. The goal of the activity is to engage and entertain Mom, notto frustrate her with difficult problems. Sensory activities, involvingthings that she can touch or listen to, are often good choices.
2. Avoid triggers
Learn what upsetsMom—such as excessive background noise or multiple conversationstaking place nearby—and avoid activities or places where the triggerscould occur. Plan ahead to diffuse trigger situations: For example,bring earplugs everywhere to mute distractions and confusion.
3. Maintain routines
Make some activities a routine every day, like turning off the lights andlocking the doors at night. These activities can provide her with asense of physical safety—and offer emotional safety to both you andMom.
4. Do activities during her “good” times
If Mom is energetic in the morning, that’s when to engage her in anactivity. Trying a new activity during her best time of day is also theopportune moment to see if she enjoys it.
Many memory care communities have exercise programs specificallysuited for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s—such as walking,yoga, tai chi, or simple pool exercises. Exercise can help Mom get agood night’s sleep, maintain a healthy appetite, and keep a positiveoutlook.
6. Reminisce together
Get the home videos or photo albums out, and encourage Mom toremember events like her wedding day, the birth of her first child, or afavorite holiday. Playing old TV shows or records can bring back goodmemories, too.
7. Recreate old hobbies
If Mom liked to do crossword puzzles, perhaps she’ll now enjoy ajigsaw puzzle with large, simple pieces. If she used to bake, findrecipes with fewer steps that you can make together. Transforming oldhobbies into new, simpler activities also will increase the chance ofher liking them.
8. Visit a garden
Retirement communities offering memory care often have gardenswhere residents can stroll along and appreciate the beautiful flowersand plants. Some communities even have sensory gardens that usesound, sight, and scent to engage residents.
9. Sort objects
Keep Mom’s mind agile by having her sort objects by color or shape.These objects could be anything—from blocks to socks to cards.Make sure for later stage Alzheimer’s patients that these objects arelarger, softer, and difficult to swallow.
10. Social activities
Social events offered by her assisted living community may be a greatway to engage Mom. These activities are often tailored to residentswith memory impairment, and may include arts and crafts, cards, orreading aloud.
You're Never Too Old to Make New Friends
We all need friends to maintain our health and happiness. The olderyou get, the harder it may seem to make friends, especially when oldfriends have moved or are in different life stages. Making new friendswhen you’re a senior is possible, but you’ll have to put in the effort. Trythese steps:
1. Look Local
Have you chatted with your neighbor before but never gottentogether? It may be the time to ask her out to lunch to get to know each other better. Thesame goes for the man you see at the coffee shop all the time. Ifyou’re both there, you might as well get a cup together!
2. Defy Age
You don’t have to be the same age to be friends. If you havesomething in common with someone years younger than you, exploreit. It may surprise you how much age doesn’t matter if you enjoy thesame activities.
3. Focus on Your Interests
Do you love to read? Join a book club. Got a knack for painting? Takean art class. Obviously, the people who join the class or club shareyour interests. That’s something to bring up to start aconversation—and then see where it takes you!
4. Go Back to School
You’re never too old to continue your education and take a class at alocal community college. Some colleges and universities even offerspecial classes and programs for seniors. A class discussion couldlead to a chat over coffee later that night.
There’s a lot to be said about people who enjoy supporting the samecause. Volunteering can not only make you feel good about helping inthe community but it can also be a great place to meet people.
6. Just Ask
If there’s someone you want to be friends with, just ask them if theywant to get together. Keep your phone handy and have them put theirnumber in it so you can call or text them later about meeting up
7. Reach out to Old Friends
You may have lost contact with your coworkers after you retired, oryou stopped seeing a married friend after the death of your spouse.It’s not too late to send them a message and ask to get together.
8. Say Yes
If you’re interested in making new friends, say yes when someoneasks you to do something. You never know what may become of alunch or 30-minute walk. Taking a short time out of your day to meetup with a potential friend is an investment in a long-term friendship.
9. Join a Gym
There’s nothing like bonding over how much you love (or hate)exercising (while doing it). Some gyms have classes specifically forolder adults that are lower impact and at convenient times for retirees.Reprinted with permission from LifeCare Services