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Posts Tagged ‘couples moving into assisted living’

The Biggest Misconceptions About Assisted Living

Misconceptions About Assisted LivingThere are so many unfounded rumors and misconceptions about assisted living that we hardly even knew where to begin. Eventually, we decided it was best to start with the most common misconceptions about assisted living and go from there.

Loss of Independence

Many people think that moving out of their own home and into assisted living will mean losing all their independence, but that’s simply not true. It’s called “assisted” living for a reason, not “controlled” living. Our job is to assist our residents in living their best lives.

As people age and start to lose some of their ability to take care of themselves, our role as an assisted living community is to help them with those tasks, including helping out with hobbies and other fun activities as needed.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we not only have parking available for our residents who are still able to drive, we also provide transportation to those who are no longer able to drive. Wherever it is you need to go, we’ll help make sure you get there.

Big-Name Assisted Living Communities Provide the Best Care

Humans are primed to prefer the familiar, which means, when it’s time to choose an assisted living community, we’re more likely to choose one we’ve heard of over a smaller community that might not have as large of a marketing budget.

This is a mistake. You should always do your due diligence before deciding on something as important as assisted living. You’re trusting your loved ones to this building and this staff, so you had better make sure you can trust them.

Assisted living can also be very individual. A larger company might have the more well-known brand, but they might not be able to provide your loved one with the specific level of care they require. The benefit of smaller assisted living communities is that they often have the ability to be more flexible, and are sometimes more affordable because of their lower overhead costs.

Assisted Living Is More Expensive Than Staying Home

This is not always the case, and even when it is, consider the other costs associated with staying home. For example, many of those who choose to stay home rely on an unpaid family member to take care of them. While this person may be very loving and doing their best as a caregiver, if they’re not a trained professional, they may not be equipped to provide the best care. There’s always the chance they may miss something that a professional would recognize as a red flag, or they could make a simple mistake that turns out to be dangerous.

It also means having to put their own career on hold, so the financial strain imposed on the rest of the family as a result of the decision to forego assisted living actually has the potential to outweigh the costs of assisted living.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear and be sure to question everything you think you know about assisted living. It’s an industry that’s changing along with our society, so what may have been true of assisted living in your grandparents’ day may not necessarily be the case today.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

4 Assisted Living Mistakes to Avoid

assisted living mistakes to avoidChoosing an assisted living community for your loved one is a big decision and not one to be undertaken lightly or quickly. In addition to the significant expense involved, most communities require you to sign a contract, so even if you and/or your loved one aren’t happy with the result, they could be stuck there for months until your contract runs out.

We’ve looked at four of the most common assisted living mistakes people make when choosing an assisted living community and listed them below so you can be on your guard and avoid making these mistakes.

Not Doing Your Research

Assisted living is too expensive and important an investment to not do your research ahead of time. Know whether the community is licensed by your state (they should be). What’s their rating according to the state? What’s their rating according to other residents and family members?

Take a tour. Talk to the staff. Talk to other residents if you can. Ask around to see if you know anyone who has used the facility, and if so, what they have to say about it.

Failing to Be Realistic About Current and/or Future Needs

This can be tough, especially when it comes to our parents. We want to believe they’re invincible and it can be incredibly upsetting to see them in a state of vulnerability. But that’s exactly why you’re looking at assisted living options in the first place, so it doesn’t do any good to shy away from the facts. Be realistic, not only about what they need now, but what they might need in the months or years to come. If they have a degenerative disease, know the stages and what future stages might look like. How will that affect the level of care they’ll need? How will you and the assisted living community adjust to take those additional needs into account?

Choosing What You Want Instead of What’s in The Best Interests of Your Loved One

It can be very tempting to choose the first community with a glossy brochure and clean waiting area with new furniture, but there’s so much more to assisted living than that. One community might have a great library, which sounds like heaven to you, but how does that sound to your loved one? Do they like to read? Are they losing their eyesight, which is making reading harder for them? If so, does the community offer alternatives, such as books with large print or audiobooks?

Maybe your loved one prefers playing board games. In that case you should ask if the assisted living community has a good supply. Do they have a weekly game night or a chess club? Look for activities you know your loved one will enjoy.

Remember, you’re not the one who’s going to be living here – they are. Not only should they feel comfortable there, but the top priority needs to be making sure their needs are met.

Going it Alone

It can be hard for many of us to accept help, even when we need it most. While you can do your research online and take a tour of the facility, few things measure up to talking to people who’ve been there. Reach out to people you know who have had to put their loved ones in assisted living communities. Even if you end up choosing a different community, it can be helpful to talk to someone who’s been through the process, so you know what to expect and what to look for.

Hiring a geriatric care manager or a senior living advisor can also be a great way to get professional advice on what your loved one needs and the best ways to make sure they get it.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

The Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory Care

Differences Between Assisted Living and Memory CareOnce you’ve determined your loved one needs help with daily tasks and some of the basics of taking care of themselves, it’s time to consider the level of care they need. We’ve talked before on this blog about the differences between assisted living communities and nursing homes – now it’s time to look at the differences between assisted living and memory care communities.

Assisted Living Communities

There is no federal regulation of assisted living communities, but they do need to be licensed by the state. The services offered by assisted living communities vary from one to another, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time to know what each community offers, as well as their location, pricing and payment plans.

While some assisted living communities offer just help with basic day-to-day tasks such as cooking, dressing, and remembering to take medications, others offer more extensive care, including 24-hour nursing to those who need it. Residents are often given the choice of living on their own or with a roommate, depending on their preferences and affordability. In some cases, spouses can choose to stay together, and if one needs more care than the other, each pays only for the services they need.

Memory Care Communities

There is also no federal regulation of memory care communities and only 23 states require their memory care communities to be licensed, so be extra thorough when doing your research before deciding on a memory care community for your loved one, especially if you live in a state that does not require memory care communities to be licensed. Online reviews aren’t always the most trustworthy source of information, but they can be a good starting point, especially if you can also get personal recommendations from someone you trust.

Memory care communities provide a higher level of care designed specifically to take care of residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases that involve loss of memory and cognitive abilities. They generally have a layout that is welcoming and easy to navigate in order to reduce stress and anxiety for the residents. They also have 24-hour measures in place to prevent residents from wandering off.

Two in One

Some assisted living communities offer memory care services in addition to their other services, usually as a separate building or wing that is dedicated to residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Depending on the community and the current physical and mental wellbeing of your loved one, this can be a great option for someone who’s still fairly active and alert, but might need more help with daily living as their condition deteriorates.

If your loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, or you suspect they may develop the disease later on (for example, if it runs in your family) an assisted living community that also offers memory care could provide the best of both worlds. They can start at whatever level of care they need and progress to the memory care if you and the staff decide that’s what is in their best interests.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Family Conflicts Over Elderly Parents

family conflicts over elderly parentsChildren fighting over what’s best for their aging parents is at least as common as parents fighting over what’s best for their children. Although everyone can agree they want the best for their parents, family conflicts over elderly parents often arise when siblings disagree on what that means.

Ideally, you should have a discussion with your parents before things get bad about the kind of care they want as they age. Powers of Attorney for both healthcare and finances should be determined, and a will should be drawn up, signed and notarized. All the children should be made aware of all these papers and their contents. Hopefully, all the children will also be able to agree on the contents of the papers and leave everything the way their parents laid it out.

But life rarely goes the way we hope it will go.

Instead, there’s generally one child who gets stuck with most of the responsibilities involved in caring for their aging parents. If all but one or two children have moved out of town, it’s usually the child who still lives closest to the parents who sees their deterioration first hand and ends up lending a hand – first with one or two things, but often the burden increases as the parents’ capabilities decline.

This can often leave the caregiver sibling with resentment of their brothers and/or sisters for whom the situation is out of sight and out of mind. They don’t see everything the caregiver is doing for their parents and so they assume everything is fine – not realizing that it’s because of all the work the caregiver is putting in that everything is running so smoothly.

When that happens, the caregiver sibling should detail everything they’re doing to care for their ailing parents and give their siblings a chance to offer their help, either financially or through other means.

But money is also a sore spot and the caregiver can sometimes find themselves accused of spending too much of the parents’ money. The siblings who aren’t there to monitor the situation are often unaware of how bad things have gotten and might become suspicious of the caregiver trying to take advantage of their parents financially.

Again, this is where the caregiver taking the time to list their responsibilities and all the work they’ve been doing can come in handy. This is especially true if the caregiver was forced to quit their job in order to take care of their parents full time, leaving them without any other form of income with which to support themselves.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always enough to resolve the situation, in which case counseling might be needed. This offers the siblings a chance to repair their relationships so they can come together for the good of their parents. Talking over their challenges and frustrations in the presence of a neutral third party can help each side see things from the other’s perspective.

If that still doesn’t work, you might want to find a professional elder care mediator to help mediate your family dispute over your elderly parents.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Need Help Navigating Medicaid? Here Are Some Tips

medicaidMedicaid can be a wonderful thing that helps us get through tough times, but you have to jump through so many hoops to get it that more people end up confused and frustrated than grateful. No matter what stage you’re in of the application process (even if you’re just considering it as a future possibility) you should consult an elder law attorney to help you navigate the process.

Get Help

Hire an elder law attorney ahead of time to help arrange your assets to make sure they don’t exceed the limit and place you out of eligibility for Medicaid. An attorney can help you place some of your assets in a Medicaid Planning type estate plan, which will better enable you to navigate the process of qualifying and applying for Medicaid.

Plan Ahead

Because there are things that are best taken care of ahead of time, you should consult an elder law attorney right away. Don’t wait until after something terrible has already happened, because by that time it could be too late. You want to get your assets in order before catastrophe strikes and/or you start to lose some of your mental faculties. Consult a qualified attorney when you’re at your best so they can help you stay that way.

The same goes for Power of Attorney, both for healthcare decisions and financial decisions. You want to have your Power of Attorney in place sooner, rather than later, because if something does happen and you’re unable to apply for Medicaid yourself, you’ll need your Power of Attorney to apply for you, but they can only do that if the process of authorizing them as your Power of Attorney has been completed.

Do Your Research

The best practices for applying for Medicaid will vary depending on whether you’re married or single, and if married, your spouse’s situation. For example, in some cases, it might make more sense to claim more income for the Medicaid recipient if it means letting the spouse keep more resources. It’s all about finding the sweet spot that lets you get the most out of your assets and Medicaid.

Furthermore, there are plenty of other mistakes that can derail your application for Medicaid, including:

  • Failing to properly report all your assets (even if the mistake is unintentional);
  • Leaving the nursing home or long-term care community to go home or to the hospital;
  • Moving from a nursing home or assisted living community in one state to a community in a different state; or
  • Failing to properly fill out the recertification application

That’s right – as if applying for Medicaid once wasn’t enough of a hassle, the government requires you to reapply every year to make sure you still qualify. They look for new assets and income, but they also update the application process because it’s not unusual for them to make changes to Medicaid. So just because you managed to successfully apply for Medicaid last year does not mean you can just copy and paste the previous year’s information into this year’s Medicaid application.

Hiring an experienced elder law attorney is really the best way to go to make sure you get the most out of your Medicaid. You might think someone working for the federal government or for your assisted living community would be able to advise you, but the truth is most of them don’t know as much about the process as a qualified elder law attorney. Even those working for the government don’t know all the ins and outs of their own regulations, so be sure to hire an attorney who knows what they’re doing.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Managing Hoarding Behaviors in Patients with Dementia

HoardingHoarding is its own psychological disorder, characterized by an excessive accumulation of objects to the point where it begins to interfere with the person’s life, often by covering just about every available surface in their living area and/or including keeping food and medicine that has gone bad. The person feels distress at the thought of throwing anything away, and while the disorder can be isolated, it can also be paired with other disorders, such as severe anxiety and/or depression. It may make them feel safe to know they have everything they could ever possibly need.

Hoarding can also be found in conjunction with Alzheimer’s or dementia, in which case it may be due more to confusion than out of any fear of throwing something away. Food may have been left to rot because they can’t remember when they bought it and their sense of smell has deteriorated to the point where they can’t tell it’s gone bad. Medications may likewise be left to go bad if the person can’t remember what it is, why they’re taking it, how much they’re supposed to take, when they’re supposed to take it, or when they took their last dose.

Likewise, mail may be left to pile up if they’ve lost the mental capacity for sequential tasking. If that’s the case, then someone will need to sit down and go through the mail with them to make sure no important documents are lost and bills don’t go unpaid.

Patience is A Virtue

As tempting as it is to get frustrated with hoarders and dementia patients (and doubly tempting when the two disorders are combined), it is of the utmost importance to remain calm and speak kindly and gently to your loved one. Remember that they’re not doing any of this on purpose, and if you lash out or yell at them, you’ll make them more confused and anxious, which will make everything worse.

Choose your time to talk about the hoarded objects wisely – specifically when your loved one is in a good mood. Talk them through the process of selecting items to be thrown away – if they haven’t yet lost the ability to appreciate logical reasoning, you might be able to convince them to discard much of what they’ve collected without too much trouble.

Memory Box Technique

The memory box technique is one strategy that has proven to be successful when dealing with hoarders. Choose a box to be their designated place to keep “special things.” You can even decorate it together to make the box both more special and more memorable – this has the added benefit of creating a fun activity you and your loved one can share together. Anything your loved one likes to collect can be put in the memory box, which makes it easy for you to keep track of the accumulation of those items. If their rubber band collection is getting out of control, for example, you can remove some of them and your loved one probably won’t even notice. You can also label and keep items that really are valuable, such as keys and wallets, in the box. That way, when your loved one comes to you looking for something, you can simply suggest they check their box.

Can I Afford Assisted Living?

afford assisted livingMost people have reservations about moving into assisted living, but aside from the fear of losing one’s independence and privacy, not to mention leaving behind a familiar home for new terrain, sometimes the biggest fear is cost. And there’s a strong foundation for that fear, with an average cost of around $3,500 per month for assisted living, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc.

For those living on a limited, fixed income, it leaves the question, how are you supposed to cover those costs indefinitely? We at Stillwater Senior Living know of a lot of programs that can also help. We are your one stop shop for senior living. If your initial estimates regarding what you’ll have to pay for assisted living seem outside of your budget, here are some things to consider:

Location, Location, Location

Location really is everything and it can have a huge impact on the costs of assisted living, just like it impacts other living expenses in the area. As much as you might want to stay close to home or move to an area nearer friends and/or family members, take a good, hard look at the costs of assisted living in those areas. If they’re in prominent, high-rent neighborhoods, it might make more financial sense to choose an assisted living community where costs aren’t so high.

Compare Costs

Not only should you be sure to compare costs between assisted living communities, but you should also compare costs between the different levels of care because the prices you’re looking at may include services you don’t need. You might even decide you don’t need assisted living – maybe independent living is more suited to your needs and budget.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait until after you or someone you love has had a major stroke and needs care right away. As they say: hope for the best, but plan for the worst. If you’re not yet at the point of needing assisted living, but you think you might in the future, start doing your research now. Some assisted living communities have a waiting list, so if there’s one you like and think you can afford, start making enquiries now. If they have a waiting list, get yourself on that list right away so you’ll have somewhere to go if/when you do end up needing their services.

Planning ahead can also have the added benefit of making sure you don’t end up moving from one assisted living community to another until you find one you like, which can end up costing you more money.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

How to Handle Someone Who Has Behavioral Problems Due to Dementia

Behavioral Problems Due to DementiaDementia can be scary and confusing for everyone involved. Those with dementia often feel lost, confused, and out of control of their own lives – all of which are terrifying. That fear can sometimes prompt them to lash out violently (either verbally and/or physically) against those around them, which is both painful and frustrating for the targets of their aggression.

So what should you do in such a situation? How can you calm them down and avoid hurting them?

The first step is to educate yourself. Know the signs of dementia and some of the behaviors that might come along with it.

Aggression

This can often start with the patient insisting they want something they can’t have (such as to go “home”) or that they don’t want something they can’t avoid (such as something in the environment, something in their schedule, or even the caregiver themselves). A simple statement can sometimes turn to yelling and may escalate into violence.

As tempting as it can be to argue with them, that’s not helpful. Don’t try to force the issue and don’t restrain them if it’s not absolutely necessary. Instead, try to divert their attention to something else while speaking to them in a calm, measured voice.

Confusion

Statements like “I want to go home” are often the most painful to hear out of someone with dementia who is already home. It means they’ve forgotten where they live, and they want to return to a place where they lived during another part of their lives.

The most important thing to remember is not to argue with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia because that is an argument you will never win. You cannot reason with someone who is suffering from dementia and trying to do so often only makes things worse.

Depending on the person, explaining the change in their situation, especially through the use of photos and tangible objects, might work, but more often than not it’s best to try to distract them. Suggest going for a walk with them or getting a snack and get them to talk about other things. If they ask things like “When are we leaving?” or “When are we going home?” try putting them off by telling them you can’t leave until traffic clears up or the whether is better. Sometimes a small lie is better than trying to explain to them what they can’t (or don’t want to) understand.

Poor Judgment

This can take a variety of forms – from trouble with finances, to hoarding, to paranoid behaviors, such as accusing a loved one of stealing from them. While some of these strange behaviors are obvious, others take more subtle forms, making them difficult to diagnose. The person with dementia may not even know they’re struggling with something, and even if they do, people are rarely willing to admit they need help.

If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from poor judgment, try to find out quietly. See if you can get a look at one of their bills to make sure they haven’t missed any payments. If that’s not possible, try to have them figure out the tip at a restaurant and see if they struggle any more than they usually do.

The most important thing is to remain encouraging and reassuring. Offer to help in small ways that minimize the other person’s embarrassment. Again, don’t ever try to argue with them, and don’t ask them outright if they’re unable to handle certain situations because that won’t end well.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Assisted Living Can Actually Improve Happiness

Assisted Living Can Actually Improve HappinessIf you’ve been struggling to convince your parents it might be time for assisted living (or if you’ve putting off the unpleasant conversation), you’re not alone. Assisted living suffers from plenty of misinformation, and despite the reasons you may have for why your parents need assisted living, have you considered how assisted living can actually improve happiness in seniors?

Researchers have long recognized the importance of social relationships on both our physical and mental wellbeing – the more socially connected we are, the happier we are and the longer we tend to live. That social connection could be one of the most important things an assisted living community can provide. In addition to help with daily tasks and medical care as needed, assisted living communities are also one of the best ways senior citizens can stay connected to the world around them.

Staying connected gets increasingly difficult as we get older. Friends and family members pass on; our kids grow up, move out and get their own lives; and staying home rather than going to an office every day means a significant decrease in social interaction. On top of all that, if we get sick or injured, we’re even more likely to stay home, which further inhibits social interaction. Going out gets harder as we age, and if we live alone, the days between visits from friends and family member can appear to grow longer and longer.

While visits from the outside community are always encouraged in assisted living, residents are not dependent on them for their social lives. Not only are they surrounded by people in their age group (many of whom are have similar experiences as they age), but assisted living communities consistently provide several recreational and social activities to encourage residents to get out of their rooms (or even out of the building, if they’re able) and mingle.

It is often by participating in the activities we enjoy most that we end up meeting the people who come to mean the most to us. Spending time with people who enjoy the same things we do is a necessary component of our mental and physical wellbeing. By providing a wide range of activities for their residents to participate in, assisted living communities help bring together people who might not otherwise meet.

What makes it even better is the fact that these interactions can continue long after the program has ended. Sharing an activity with another person is not just a great ice breaker, it can also help create a bond that lasts for the rest of their lives. There are few things more satisfying than turning to someone and saying, “Do you remember that time we …?” and having them remember and be able to commiserate with you over that memory.

Once people get over the initial stress of moving into an assisted living community, they’re more likely to report higher levels of happiness and a greater sense of belonging than they felt before they moved in. The bonds formed in assisted living can then help them live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives than they would have had if they had insisted on continuing to live on their own.

Moving into assisted living is not giving up on life. It’s the beginning of a whole new chapter.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

What You Need to Know About Assisted Living

assisted livingIf you think it might be time for you or a loved one to move into an assisted living community, there are a few things you need to know. In addition to considering the level of care you need to look for, we’ve come up with a list of a few other factors you need to consider before you start looking for an assisted living community.

The Difference Between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home

The first thing you need to determine is whether you should be shopping for an assisted living community or a nursing home because it’s important to remember they are not the same thing.

While assisted living communities provide different levels of care depending on the facility and on each patient’s needs, assisted living communities generally do not provide anything beyond help with daily tasks. This can include things like help with remembering to take your medications, but they can’t prescribe medications or fill your prescriptions for you.

A nursing home generally provides a level of care between that of a nursing home and a hospital. They maintain a staff of nurses, have doctors visit regularly to check up on patients, and maintain relationships with local hospitals to help manage patients who might need to go from the nursing home to a hospital and vice versa.

The Available Levels of Care Differ Between Communities

There is no single definition for assisted living, although every state has its own laws regulating assisted living communities. While some provide just the basic level of care in helping with daily tasks, others provide more extensive care to those who need help eating and/or can’t get out of bed. Doing your research ahead of time and considering all your options can help you make the best decision when it comes to getting the care you need while maximizing comfort and minimizing costs.

Affordability

Paying for assisted living can be easier than you think. Again, it depends on the level of care you need and making sure you do your research ahead of time. Once you’ve determine your requirements for an assisted living community, it’s a simple matter of knowing what your options are and comparing the pros and cons of each community until you find the one that’s right for your needs.

You Are Able to Bring Your Pet

Every assisted living community has their own guidelines and restrictions when it comes to pets, but we welcome you bring your furry friend! We even have a built in dog park in the back!

You Can Continue Living with Your Spouse

Assisted living communities understand the importance of keeping couples together and many of them will work to make that an option whenever possible. Most of them even offer customized bills so that if your spouse needs more care than you do, or vice versa, the community will only bill you for the services you use, even if you and your spouse live in the same unit.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.