Navigating the Transition to Assisted Living: A Comprehensive Guide

transition to assisted livingAs individuals age, the decision to transition to assisted living is often accompanied by a myriad of emotions and logistical challenges. This comprehensive guide aims to explore the various aspects of navigating this significant life transition. From emotional considerations to practical planning, understanding the multifaceted nature of moving to assisted living can help both seniors and their families make informed decisions for a smoother transition.

Emotional Considerations:

a. Acknowledging Feelings: Moving to assisted living can evoke a range of emotions, from fear and anxiety to relief and anticipation. It’s crucial for seniors and their families to openly discuss and acknowledge these feelings.

b. Loss and Grief: Leaving a familiar home can trigger a sense of loss and grief. Exploring these emotions and finding healthy ways to cope is an essential step in the transition process.

c. Maintaining Independence: Assisted living facilities are designed to provide support while allowing residents to maintain a level of independence. Emphasize the positive aspects of the new community, such as social opportunities and a care structure tailored to individual needs.

Logistical Considerations:

a. Financial Planning: Assisted living comes with a cost, and understanding the financial aspects is crucial. Evaluate current and future financial resources, including long-term care insurance, to ensure a sustainable living arrangement.

b. Choosing the Right Community: Research and visit multiple assisted living facilities to find the one that best suits the individual’s needs and preferences. Consider factors such as location, amenities, staff qualifications, and the overall atmosphere of the community.

c. Downsizing and Packing: Moving to a smaller living space often requires downsizing. Develop a plan for sorting belongings, deciding what to keep, donate, or sell, and coordinating the logistics of the move.

Practical Considerations:

a. Health Care Coordination: Ensure a smooth transition of medical care by coordinating with healthcare providers. Share medical records, discuss ongoing treatment plans, and establish a relationship with the healthcare team at the assisted living facility.

b. Social Integration: Encourage involvement in community activities and help residents build connections with fellow residents. Social engagement is vital for emotional well-being in a new living environment.

c. Legal and Administrative Tasks: Update legal documents, such as wills and powers of attorney, to reflect the change in living arrangements. Notify relevant authorities, such as the post office, about the change of address.

Navigating the transition to assisted living involves addressing the emotional, logistical, and practical aspects of this significant life change. By openly discussing emotions, carefully planning the logistics, and embracing practical considerations, individuals and their families can ensure a smoother transition into a supportive and enriching living environment. This comprehensive guide aims to empower seniors and their loved ones to make informed decisions and embark on this new chapter with confidence.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to living up to the promise inherent in assisted living’s name: to assist your loved one in continuing to live their best life.

Our goal is to provide an environment in which your loved one can age gracefully and enjoy their Golden Years to the fullest.

If you have any questions about the steps we take to achieve those goals, or what it is like to live in our assisted living community, we are always happy to answer your questions. Just reach out to start the conversation.

How Assisted Living Can Help You Make This the Best Year Yet

It is that time of year again when we take stock of the year we just finished and make goals and plans for the year ahead. If you have a loved one in your life who is struggling with living alone, you might be thinking about transitioning them into assisted living next year. Rather than falling into the trap of thinking of that as a bad thing, we have some reasons for you to think about all the ways assisted living can help you make this the best year yet.

Helping You Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones

If one of your goals for the new year is to spend more quality time with loved ones, assisted living can help with that.

As our loved ones age, they tend to have a harder time performing daily tasks and taking care of themselves. It is natural for family members and neighbors to help out, and while it might start as just one or two tasks, it can quickly grow into a full-time job.

While choosing to become a caregiver of an aging loved one works for some people, and it has its advantages, it can also be incredibly stressful.

Assisted living takes the stress away, so when you are spending time with your loved one, you can concentrate on enjoying your time with them and be fully present.

Meet New People

One of the best benefits of assisted living is that it creates an environment in which older Americans are surrounded by people their age. Classes and activities are scheduled and organized to help residents get to know one another.

As your loved one gets to know their neighbors in assisted living, you will also have a chance to get to know your loved one’s new friends when you visit.

If one of your new year’s goals is to meet new people, you would be hard pressed to find a place better than assisted living for helping you achieve that goal.

Peace of Mind

Because assisted living staff are professionals with a passion for caring for older Americans, and have been trained to do so, you can rest easy knowing your loved one is well cared for.

Not only will they have all their physical needs met, but they will be part of a community that offers support and commiseration.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to living up to the promise inherent in assisted living’s name: to assist your loved one in continuing to live their best life.

Our goal is to provide an environment in which your loved one can age gracefully and enjoy their Golden Years to the fullest.

If you have any questions about the steps we take to achieve those goals, or what it is like to live in our assisted living community, we are always happy to answer your questions. Just reach out to start the conversation.

The Importance of High-Quality Sleep for Seniors

High-Quality Sleep for SeniorsGetting enough sleep – and making sure it is high-quality sleep – is important for all of us, but it is especially important for older Americans.

It affects almost every aspect of our mental and physical health, including some of the aspects of health with which older Americans tend to struggle the most.

The next time you consider burning the candle at both ends, remember these benefits to getting high-quality sleep every night.

Improves Concentration and Memory

Sleep is when the brain is processing everything from the day before. Sometimes it combines or interprets the day’s experiences in strange ways, which is why you wake up wondering what the heck that dream was about. It is just your brain’s way of working through data.

The brain also performs a sort of clean up while you sleep. Your brain cells are surrounded by fluid, which needs to be flushed out and replaced with clean fluid on a regular basis. This cleanup occurs primarily during sleep, so if you are not getting enough sleep, you are essentially letting trash pile up in your brain.

Of course, this does not mean a good night’s sleep can cure dementia, which is increasingly common in older Americans. But alongside other healthy habits, it can help prevent dementia.

Reduces Stress

Have you ever gone to sleep obsessed over something, and in the morning wondered what you were so worried about?

While it is true that things often look different in the light of day, it is not the daylight that makes them look different. It is the fact that your brain was able to rest and process the events of the day before, putting them into context.

When your brain is rested, it is much easier to maintain a sense of perspective and to think of creative solutions to problems. When you are tired and stressed you are more likely to jump straight to assuming you will be forced to face the worst-case scenario.

Improves Immunity

It is well documented that people who get at least eight hours of sleep a night are less likely to get sick. Everything from the common cold to chronic illnesses are more likely to affect the sleep deprived than the well rested.

Since older Americans are not only more likely to get sick, but also more likely to be hospitalized or even die from these illnesses, it should come as no surprise that they can benefit from a good night’s sleep even more than the rest of us.

Speeds Up the Aging Process

One study showed that even one night of bad sleep caused cells to age faster compared to when the person was well rested.

This is about more than just wrinkled skin. Everything from bone density to joint and brain health can be affected by a faster aging process.

As with most things, you have the final say in whether you get a good night’s sleep. But at Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to doing everything we can to help all our residents sleep peacefully at night so they can continue to live their best lives. If you have any questions about how we do that, you can reach out now. We are always happy to talk about all the ways we strive to keep our residents healthy and happy.

The Importance of High-Quality Sleep for Senior Citizens

High-Quality Sleep for Senior CitizensGetting enough sleep – and making sure it is high-quality sleep – is important for all of us, but it is especially important for older Americans.

It affects almost every aspect of our mental and physical health, including some of the aspects of health with which older Americans tend to struggle the most.

The next time you consider burning the candle at both ends, remember these benefits to getting high-quality sleep every night.

Improves Concentration and Memory

Sleep is when the brain is processing everything from the day before. Sometimes it combines or interprets the day’s experiences in strange ways, which is why you wake up wondering what the heck that dream was about. It is just your brain’s way of working through data.

The brain also performs a sort of clean up while you sleep. Your brain cells are surrounded by fluid, which needs to be flushed out and replaced with clean fluid on a regular basis. This cleanup occurs primarily during sleep, so if you are not getting enough sleep, you are essentially letting trash pile up in your brain.

Of course, this does not mean a good night’s sleep can cure dementia, which is increasingly common in older Americans. But alongside other healthy habits, it can help prevent dementia.

Reduces Stress

Have you ever gone to sleep obsessed over something, and in the morning wondered what you were so worried about?

While it is true that things often look different in the light of day, it is not the daylight that makes them look different. It is the fact that your brain was able to rest and process the events of the day before, putting them into context.

When your brain is rested, it is much easier to maintain a sense of perspective and to think of creative solutions to problems. When you are tired and stressed you are more likely to jump straight to assuming you will be forced to face the worst-case scenario.

Improves Immunity

It is well documented that people who get at least eight hours of sleep a night are less likely to get sick. Everything from the common cold to chronic illnesses are more likely to affect the sleep deprived than the well rested.

Since older Americans are not only more likely to get sick, but also more likely to be hospitalized or even die from these illnesses, it should come as no surprise that they can benefit from a good night’s sleep even more than the rest of us.

Speeds Up the Aging Process

One study showed that even one night of bad sleep caused cells to age faster compared to when the person was well rested.

This is about more than just wrinkled skin. Everything from bone density to joint and brain health can be affected by a faster aging process.

As with most things, you have the final say in whether you get a good night’s sleep. But at Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to doing everything we can to help all our residents sleep peacefully at night so they can continue to live their best lives. If you have any questions about how we do that, you can reach out now. We are always happy to talk about all the ways we strive to keep our residents healthy and happy.

Tips for Celebrating “Healthy Aging Month” This Year

Assisted Living Week 2023If you have ever heard the advice to, “Never get old,” that is the attitude Healthy Aging Month was designed to reverse. Healthy Aging Month was first celebrated in 1992 when people born in the 1940s were turning 50. The goal was to help people entering their Golden Years to celebrate those years, rather than dread them. Healthy Aging Month aims to do this by encouraging people to eat right and exercise at all stages of life, but especially as they get older. The idea is that aging healthy leads to graceful aging, and that is what we are all about here at Stillwater Senior Living.

September has been designated as “Healthy Aging Month,” and while we encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year long, we do have some ideas as for celebrating healthy aging this month.

Set Health Goals

Who says January is the only month for setting goals to change your life? When it comes to your health and well-being, we think September is a great time to develop new habits that will help you feel better all year long.

Losing weight is one of the most common health goals we hear about, but it is far from the only important metric of health. It is equally important to build up your muscle mass, improve your flexibility and balance, and keep track of your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) Once you know what your goals are, you can create a plan that will get you there.

Get an Accountability Partner

Regardless of the goal you are trying to achieve, if you get an accountability partner, you are significantly more likely to achieve your goal than if you do not have an accountability partner.

So whether you are trying to eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, or exercise more, getting an accountability partner to participate in (or avoid) those activities with you can help you make progress towards your goals. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or just feel better, there is no doubt that doing it with a buddy is not only more effective, but also more fun.

Do Not Forget About Mental Health

Mental health often takes a back seat to physical health, but not only are the two equally important, they also tend to go hand in hand. If your physical health is suffering, chances are good your mental health will suffer as well, and vice versa.

So it does not always make sense to focus on your physical health if your mental health needs your attention right now. That could mean anything from therapy to gardening.

In addition to reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, gardening has also been shown to improve mood, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of depression.

If gardening is not your thing, try learning a new board game, taking dance classes, or learning pottery. All are great activities that, in addition to improving your mood, will improve your cognitive abilities, which is even more important as you age.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to the health of our residents, which is why we like to celebrate health all year long. But there is something special about Healthy Aging Month. If you would like to share with us your tips for healthy aging, we are all ears. You can either fill out our form or find out how to reach us directly here.

Natural Ways for Seniors to Lower Their Blood Pressure

Natural Ways for Older Americans to Lower Their Blood PressureMany of us struggle with high blood pressure as we age, and while there are many medications on the market designed to help people control their blood pressure, not everyone wants to rely on pharmaceuticals. That leaves the question, what are some natural ways for older Americans to lower their blood pressure?

Diet

One of the best ways to naturally lower blood pressure is to maintain a healthy diet. That means staying away from highly processed foods, especially the ones that are high in salt and sugar.

Instead, we recommend ditching the junk food in favor of plenty of vegetables and protein. Not only is it a great way to nourish your body with all the building blocks it needs to get and stay strong, it is also a great way to naturally lower your blood pressure.

Exercise

A healthy diet and regular exercise regimen should go hand in hand for building and maintaining a strong body. Doctors recommend an exercise routine that raises your heart rate for at least 15 minutes every day. By engaging in regular cardiovascular workouts that get your blood pumping, your body will be better able to maintain a steady heart rate and blood pressure when you are not exercising.

Do Not Smoke

Smokers are much more likely to have high blood pressure than non-smokers, so if you smoke, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to quit. Not only will it help lower your blood pressure, but it will also increase your lung capacity, which in turn will increase your stamina and your energy levels. Quitting is hard, but it is worth it.

Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep is critical for all areas of our health, both mental and physical. The average person needs about eight hours of sleep a night to be healthy and live their best life, but keep in mind that that is the average. Some people are fine on six hours of sleep a night while others need nine hours. Know what works best for you and do whatever you need to do to get that sleep.

That means going to bed at the same time every night and trying to get up at the same time every morning. Limit distractions before bedtime, especially screen time and anything with blue light. You can download an app onto your phone or computer that dims the blue light on your screen when the sun goes down. You can also set your phone to automatically darken the screen and block notifications from your bedtime until your normal wake-up time.

If you sleep best with music or white noise, you can get a radio or device that plays whatever noise will help put you to sleep. You can even use your phone to listen to soothing music, rain, or anything else you like to listen to as you fall asleep.

Keep in mind, physical exercise during the day can also make it easier to fall asleep at night, so you can kill two birds with one stone by exercising regularly.

Meditation

Meditation is excellent for lowering blood pressure, both in the moment, and in the long term. Any time you feel yourself getting stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure both go up, and by taking a few deep breaths and meditating, even just for a few minutes, you can bring down your heart rate and blood pressure.

People who meditate on a regular basis report feeling less stress overall, as well as lower blood pressure. If you have chronic high blood pressure, meditating once or twice will not be enough to get the results you need. You should instead try to meditate on a regular basis for at least a week or two before determining whether you notice a difference in your blood pressure or stress levels.

At Stillwater Senior Living, our goal is always to help keep our residents healthy in whatever way works best for them. If they need help remembering to take their medication, we are happy to help with that. If they would prefer to stay healthy without medications, we can help with that, too. Reach out now to ask how we can help you or your loved one live their best life in assisted living.

Can Seniors Maintain Their Privacy in Assisted Living?

Can Seniors Maintain Their Privacy in Assisted Living?The short answer is yes. Of course, residents can maintain their privacy in assisted living. Nevertheless, many people continue to worry about losing, not only their independence in assisted living, but their privacy.

We have already covered on this blog how residents can maintain their independence in assisted living, so now let us debunk the myth that moving into assisted living means giving up your privacy.

Maintaining Dignity

Maintaining the dignity of our residents is of the utmost importance to us, and you cannot have dignity if you do not have privacy. We have 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments to accommodate our residents’ budgets and personal preferences. Some people like having a room all to themselves while others prefer to have a roommate.

Our staff is well trained to be available whenever our residents need them while respecting the privacy and personal space of our residents. Staff will never enter a resident’s apartment without their permission, and they will not provide any assistance without first confirming the resident’s express permission to do so.

Following the Law

Not only is it our personal philosophy to provide our residents with as much dignity and privacy as possible, we are also legally required by Illinois law to respect their privacy at all times, especially when they are being examined or given medical care.

This includes the same right to confidentiality of their medical records afforded to any patient being provided with medical care.

Your medical records and information are yours alone and we will not share them with any unauthorized person.

Personal Property

Not only are residents able to keep their personal property in assisted living, they are encouraged to take it with them when they move into one of our apartments. Being surrounded by familiar objects makes the transition to assisted living that much easier, especially if the person is struggling with some form of dementia. Having familiar objects at hand can help ground the person struggling with dementia and prevent confusion.

Making Life Easier, Not Harder

The goal of assisted living is just that: to provide assistance so residents can continue living life to its fullest. We strive to make things easier for our residents, not harder, and of course that includes maintaining their privacy.

If you have any questions about how our staff at Stillwater Senior Living maintains our residents’ privacy, we are always happy to schedule some time with you so we can answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. You can schedule a meeting with us here.

How Long Does It Take to Move into Assisted Living?

How Long Does It Take to Move into Assisted Living?Moving is never easy, and it can be especially stressful if you have a loved one who needs to move into assisted living. In addition to the usual stressors associated with moving (packing up your entire life, moving it to another building, unpacking and arranging it all), there are some things that are unique to moving into assisted living. There are also some things that can make the process take longer, so let us talk about what to expect when moving into assisted living.

Waiting Lists

Most assisted living communities have a waiting list, so do not make the mistake of assuming you can move into any assisted living community you want as soon as you or your loved one is in need of assisted living. Instead, you need to have an action plan in place before you need assisted living.

Things to consider include where you want to live – in the area you live now, or closer to your kids or siblings who live in another state? Or maybe you want to spend your golden years in a warmer climate. The farther you currently are from the assisted living community you want to move into, the more planning will need to go into the moving process to make sure you have everything you need.

Once you have identified the assisted living community you want to live in, ask about their wait list. Just like with a restaurant waiting list, they can give you an estimate of how long it might take for them to have a vacancy, but it might end up taking more or less time than they anticipate.

Downsizing

Most people moving into assisted living are moving into a much smaller space than the one in which they have been living for decades – maybe even their whole lives. That calls for a considerable amount of downsizing.

The best way to downsize is to go through all your possessions and divide them into three categories: Keep; Donate: and Trash. Once you have gotten rid of everything you want to donate and throw away, you might need to further divide the Keep pile into the items going with you into assisted living and those going into storage.

Since it is unlikely you will move into a larger home after assisted living, you might want to consider taking the items you would normally put into storage and instead distribute them to your closest friends and family. That way they can always lend them to you if you need to borrow them. Otherwise, you know they have a good home.

Adjusting to Life in Assisted Living

Living in a new place always requires an adjustment, but that adjustment might take a little longer for those moving into assisted living. Not only do they have to get used to a new place, they have to get used to their fellow residents and the idea of accepting help from staff.

While the goal of assisted living is to help residents continue living a life as normal as possible for as long as possible, just having someone around to help at all times can be different enough from what residents are used to that it can take a while to adjust.

If your loved one is having a hard time getting used to assisted living, encourage them to give it time and to keep an open mind. If they decide they are going to have a bad experience, then they will have a bad experience no matter what the assisted living staff does to help them. But if they decide to have a good experience, they just might have the time of their lives.

If you have any other questions about easing the transition to life at Stillwater Senior Living, we are always happy to chat. Just reach out now to start the conversation.

What Does a Typical Day in Assisted Living Look Like?

typical day in assisted livingIf you or a loved one are thinking about moving into assisted living, you probably want to know what to expect after move-in day. What does the day-to-day life of an assisted living resident look like?

Honestly, it does not look that much different from the life of any other retiree, although it might be more fun. Here is what a typical day at Stillwater Senior Living looks like:

Wake Up When You Want

Have you ever wanted to throw your alarm out the window when it wakes you up from a deep sleep? While we do not condone throwing things, one of the benefits of assisted living is the ability to wake up whenever you want. Early risers can get up to watch the sunrise, while those who do not consider themselves morning people can sleep in as late as they want.

Breakfast

Residents who are capable of making their own breakfast can do so in their apartment. If they need help preparing their food, or if they just want to linger over a cup of coffee with a friend, they can head to the dining hall where our staff will prepare a nutritious breakfast for them.

Morning Activities

Mornings are full of organized activities. Residents are free to create their own activities, but they are also encouraged to participate in at least one of our planned activities. Not only are they fun, they are a great way to get to know and socialize with the other residents. Some of our activities include:

  • Exercise classes
  • Board games
  • Crafting
  • Trivia games
  • Bingo

Lunch

As with breakfast, residents who are capable are free to make their own lunches, but most people choose to eat lunch in the dining hall with the other residents. That way they can chat about the morning’s activities with their fellow residents.

Afternoon Visits

Visiting hours are not restricted to the afternoons, but it is a great time to visit. Our residents have had a chance to get plenty of sleep and then have a nice, relaxing morning on their own or participating in one of our planned activities. That makes the afternoon an ideal time for friends and family to visit their loved one and catch up over a cup of tea or engage in some activities of their own.

Dinner

Not all our visitors choose to stay for dinner, but many do. Some choose to make dinner with their loved ones, while others join them in the dining hall where our staff can cook their meal while they focus on catching up with their loved one.

Evenings

Residents are encouraged to spend the evenings winding down and getting ready for bed. Whether this means enjoying a movie or curling up with a good book, a pre-bedtime routine is as important for a good night’s sleep as a bedtime routine.

If you still have questions about daily life in assisted living, you can always reach out to ask us. We are always happy to talk about our work helping our residents live their lives to the fullest for as long as possible.

Getting Ready to Move into Assisted Living? Use These Tips to Sell Your House

Getting Ready to Move into Assisted Living? Use These Tips to Sell Your House

Moving is always a challenge, but it can be especially difficult when you are getting ready to move into assisted living. You have to go through the usual process of deciding what to take with you and what to get rid of, but it can be harder to decide what you will and will not need when you are not just moving into a new home, but moving into a community with staff to help take care of you, and neighbors close to your age.

To help you with the process of getting ready to move into assisted living, we came up with a checklist you can use when selling your home.

Find an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Any time you are buying or selling real estate, you need an experienced real estate agent. A lot of real estate agents specialize in certain kinds of buyers, such as couples buying their first home or moving into a larger home as their family expands. Similarly, a lot of real estate agents specialize in helping older Americans downsize after the kids have moved out, so when you are interviewing real estate agents, make sure you have one who has experience with helping their clients downsize.

Start Downsizing

Of course, the next step is going to be to start downsizing – or “rightsizing” as some people like to call it. You will not have as much space in your assisted living apartment as you have in your home, so think carefully about the things you want to keep and the things you want to toss or donate. You should also consider getting a storage space where you can keep things you might need later, but don’t need to have on hand on a daily basis.

Talk to Your Financial Planner

Buying and selling real estate is always a big deal, financially speaking, so your financial planner should be involved. You might want to consider options such as using the funds from the sale of your home to pay for some or all of your assisted living expenses. A financial planner can help you make the most of your money, so you never have to worry about running out.

Stage Your Home for Buyers

Setting up a comfortable home you want to live in is different from setting up a home in such a way that other people want to live there. Staging your home to make it as attractive as possible to prospective buyers involves making the most of the space and light so it looks as big and airy as possible. You also want to make sure it looks lived in, but that it does not show any personality so prospective buyers can easily imagine themselves living there.

These are all things a good real estate agent should be able to help you with, so be sure to consult with them.

Enjoy Your Assisted Living Community

Once you have finally sold your home and moved into assisted living, you can just, sit back, relax, and enjoy your new assisted living community. At Stillwater Senior Living, we work hard to make sure all our residents are as comfortable as possible, while helping them remain as independent as possible.

If you are curious about all the ways we help our residents, we would love to hear from you. You can reach out now to start the conversation.