3 Tips for Applying to an Assisted Living Community

quality check on assisted livingJust like schools needed to be expanded in the 1950s and 1960s as the baby boomer generation reached school age, now assisted living communities have had to expand and create waitlists to account for the surge in people applying to live in assisted living. This increase in demand can make it harder for you to get a space in your preferred assisted living community, so we are going to give you some tips you can use to give you a leg up on the competition when applying for assisted living.

1)   Start Early

Most people want to avoid thinking about moving into assisted living until they have reached the point where they are no longer able to take care of themselves, but at that point it is already too late. If you wait until you need assisted living before you start researching your options, you will be forced to move into whichever community has a space for you, which may or may not be your first choice.

Alternatively, you might have to move in with a family member or hire a home aid to help you while you wait to get off the waiting list.

2)   Get Your Medical Documents Ready

Assisted living is different from a retirement community in that it is designed to help those who need help with daily tasks. It could be reminding them to take their pills, helping with cooking and cleaning for those with arthritis, or help with hygiene for those suffering from dementia.

As a result, assisted living communities often review your medical history and will probably conduct their own assessment of your physical and cognitive abilities to determine the level of care you need. Be prepared for the assessment and have all your papers in order when you are getting ready to apply because that will make the process go that much more smoothly.

3)   Create a List of Questions to Ask the Staff

To make sure you end up in your preferred assisted living community, it is important to know what you want in an assisted living community. Location is important, but there are other factors, such as whether you can take your pet with you, the types of activities they offer, etc. Know what your qualifications are and have a list of questions ready to ask the staff so you can make sure it is a place where you want to live for the foreseeable future.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we know we are not the right fit for everyone, but we would love to see if we could be the right fit for you. If you have any questions about what it is like to be one of our residents, just reach out to schedule a tour.

What You Need to Know About the Different Types of Arthritis

Types of ArthritisMost people are aware of arthritis as a common symptom of aging, but did you know there are different types of arthritis? They all have different causes and symptoms, so if you think you or a loved one might be suffering from arthritis, it is best to have an idea of the different types of arthritis before you jump to any conclusions about what might be causing your arthritis or the best way to move forward.

Keep in mind that a blog post does not constitute medical advice. The best course of action is always to consult with your doctor so they can perform an exam and provide you with a diagnosis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage in the joint begins to break down, causing the bones to rub against each other when the joint is used. This can be extremely painful, and is the most common reason for older Americans to lose mobility as they age.

Osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, hips, and knees, but is by no means limited to those joints. Any joint that has been used frequently over a long period of time can be susceptible to osteoarthritis. After all, it is called “wear and tear” arthritis for a reason.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system primarily attacks the joints, usually the hands, wrists, and knees. It is common for several joints to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis all at the same time.

Because it is an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis tends to cause the affected joints to become inflamed as the body tries to flood the area with white blood cells. This damages the joint tissue and can cause chronic pain in the affected joints, and even cause them to become misshapen, especially if left untreated for a long period of time.

In addition to the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect various organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, and eyes.

Fibromyalgia

Rather than targeting just the joints, fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body. Sleep problems are another common symptom of fibromyalgia, but in many cases, it is not a separate symptom, but rather a result of the chronic pain keeping the person awake throughout the night. Fatigue and emotional and mental distress, including depression and anxiety, are also common symptoms of fibromyalgia, but they also tend to go hand-in-hand with sleep deprivation. In most cases, if the patient can be cured of their pain and allowed to sleep, the other symptoms tend to vanish.

We still do not know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but the good news is there are ways to manage it.

Gout

Gout is another type of arthritis caused by inflammation, and it usually only affects one joint at a time. Gout is most commonly experienced in the joint of the big toe, and is characterized by flare ups of intense pain, followed by periods of remission in which little-to-no pain is experienced.

There is no cure for gout, but it can be managed with medication and a diet that is low in alcohol and rich foods.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we provide a wide range of aid levels to make sure our residents have the level of care they need, while leaving them the independence to perform their own daily tasks whenever possible. If you or a loved one is suffering from a form of arthritis and you think it might be time for assisted living, we would love to have a conversation with you.

What Kinds of Activities Do They Provide in Assisted Living Communities?

What Kinds of Activities Do They Provide in Assisted Living Communities?One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is all the activities they provide. Not only do those activities help keep residents physically and mentally active, but they also promote socialization and help residents get to know each other. This reduces a sense of loneliness and isolation, which is unfortunately all too common in older Americans. That, in turn, helps improve their mental health.

The kinds of activities provided in assisted living communities depend on the community, but here are some of the most common activities you can expect your loved one to benefit from if they are considering moving into assisted living.

Dance classes

Dance classes are great for the body and mind. They are a great way to get physical exercise, while being so much fun that people do not even realize how hard they are working to get those moves in!

Music also has proven beneficial for mental health and promoting a general sense of well-being, which leads nicely into our next activity.

Music

Whether dancing, singing, playing an instrument, or just enjoying a concert, music can be a great way to bring residents together and make them feel a sense of connection. This is why most assisted living communities offer music classes and other opportunities for residents to try new instruments and show off their existing skills.

Arts and Crafts

Art has also proven beneficial for improving mental health, even when all people do is look at it. The act of creating a piece of art has the benefit of being mildly active without being strenuous. Almost everyone is capable of creating some form of art.

Art and music can both be especially beneficial for people with dementia who are losing their language capabilities. Art and music give them a great way to express themselves that does not rely on language. That expression can relieve stress and make them feel more connected to the people around them.

Arts and crafts also have the added benefit of resulting in a piece of artwork the resident can either keep for themselves or share with a loved one.

Cooking Classes

Nothing brings people together like food. Because smell and taste are so closely linked with memory, food can be a great way to help older Americans who are struggling with memory loss. You never know when a certain smell or taste will trigger a memory from decades ago. That memory can help the person remember who they are, even when they cannot remember their own name.

As with arts and crafts, another benefit of cooking classes is it gives residents the opportunity to express themselves by working with their hands, rather than using language. That can be its own kind of therapy.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we always have a variety of fun activities planned every week. If you want to know what we have going on this week, or which are our most popular activities, just reach out and ask.

3 Tips for Making Your Loved One Feel at Home in Assisted Living

feel at home in assisted livingMoving is always hard, but moving from independent living into assisted living provides its own, unique challenges. From the misconception that assisted living means giving up your freedom, to the idea of living in a community rather than an independent house or apartment, getting your loved one used to the idea of assisted living is not always easy.

But there are ways you can make it easier, both on yourself and on your loved one. These three tips provide a great starting point when it comes to making your loved one feel at home in assisted living.

1)   Include Them in the Process

No one likes to be transplanted from their home into a new place without any warning or say in the matter. Not only does this mean you need to have conversations with your loved one about moving into assisted living before the move-in date, you also need to include them in the process of getting ready to move in.

This means consulting with them about downsizing. What do they want to take with them into assisted living, what do they want to donate, and what do they want to put in storage?

When it comes to setting up their apartment in assisted living, let them choose where to put which pieces of furniture and how to decorate their apartment. They know what will make them feel most comfortable, and if they have a say in setting up their apartment to their liking, they will have a much easier time settling in.

2)   Bring Things from Home

It might be tempting for some people to “start fresh” in assisted living by buying new furniture and new décor, but that is the wrong approach to take with assisted living. By including furniture and décor from your loved one’s previous home, you will help them feel more comfortable by surrounding them with familiar objects.

If you have ever had trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar place, you know how hard it can be to feel comfortable in a new place. By surrounding your loved one with familiar objects, you help make their new home feel like home, which will make the transition so much easier.

3)   Visit Early and Often

Nothing makes a place feel like home like having loved ones around, so the more you can visit, the better your loved one will adjust. You can also include pictures of yourself and other friends and family members in the décor so your loved one will feel like you are always close by. When you are unable to make a physical visit, phone calls, video calls, and postcards are a great way to stay connected.

Most older Americans worry about feeling isolated and disconnected from friends and family, especially when they need to move into assisted living. By staying present in your loved one’s life as much as possible, you can fight those feelings of isolation, and that will go far towards helping them adjust to their new life in assisted living.

As an assisted living provider, we have no shortage of ideas for helping older Americans feel comfortable about moving into assisted living. These three tips just scratch the service, so if you need more ideas or resources, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are always happy to chat.

How Do I Know if Assisted Living Is Right for Me?

is assisted living right for meMoving from one home to another is always a big change, so it is no surprise that moving into assisted living makes an even bigger impact on your life. Not only are you changing your living quarters, but you are also moving into a new community and accepting care for certain health challenges. Before making the decision to move (or move your loved one) into assisted living, it is important to first make sure you qualify for assisted living.

While this article is no substitute for a medical exam, if you are experiencing any of the challenges below, it might be time to consider moving into assisted living.

Declining Health

Declining health is one of the main reasons people move into assisted living, specifically the health challenges that come with aging. While hospitals are there to help people with severe, short-term health challenges, assisted living is designed to help people live better and live longer with the long-term health challenges we all face as we get older. That could be anything from dementia to arthritis.

Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks

Assisted living is exactly what it sounds like: assistance with daily living. Any time an older American is having trouble completing daily tasks, whether it is cooking, cleaning, or even maintaining their own hygiene, it is time to consider assisted living. We can take care of all those tasks for them so they can continue living their best life for as long as possible.

Memory is Slipping

Assisted living is not the same as memory care, but many assisted living communities do offer memory care for residents who need it. If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, but still able to do most things for themselves (or there is a history of dementia or Alzheimer’s in your family so you are worried about them developing symptoms later on), you might want to consider an assisted living community that offers memory care.

Your Doctor Has Conducted an Assessment

While assisted living does not include as much medical care as a nursing home, much less a hospital, it does offer some help with the challenges of aging. In most cases, you will need a healthcare professional to administer an assessment to determine if you are eligible for assisted living. The assessment should take into account things like mobility, memory, and fine motor skills. If you suspect your loved one might be in need of memory care, that would require a separate assessment to be conducted, either by their doctor or by a member of an assisted living community’s staff.

Deciding whether assisted living is right for you is just the first step. Choosing the right assisted living community is another matter entirely. If you have been thinking it might be time for assisted living, but you are not sure where to start, we would love to have a conversation with you to discuss your options.

What Services Are Offered in Assisted Living?

What Services Are Offered in Assisted Living?Some of the services offered in assisted living vary between assisted living communities, but there are some basic services you will find in every assisted living community. In this article, we are going to start with the basics and then go into some of the more specialized services that you will find at Stillwater Senior Living, but you will not necessarily find in every assisted living community.

Cooking and Cleaning

Help with cooking and cleaning is a basic service of assisted living. Most people move into assisted living because they are having trouble keeping up with the daily tasks of living. Whether it is cooking, washing dishes, or folding laundry, any time someone is having trouble performing one or more of the basic tasks of daily living, they are a good candidate for assisted living.

Supervising Medications

Supervising medications is another reason a lot of people move into assisted living. Many of us need to take more prescription medications and dietary supplements as we age and our bodies do not function like they used to. All those medications come with specific instructions: they need to be taken at certain times of the day, and some need to be taken with food while others need to be taken on an empty stomach.

It is a lot for anyone to keep track of, but especially those of us struggling with minor confusion. That is why supervising medications to make sure you take everything when it needs to be taken and you do not accidentally take a medication twice or mix medications that should never be taken together is one of the biggest benefits of assisted living.

Organizing Recreational and Social Activities

Another big benefit of assisted living that most people do not know about is organizing recreational and social activities. We know that living your best life involves much more than making sure the dishes are washed and the laundry is folded. It also involves a rich social life and assisted living is great at getting residents to interact with each other in fun ways. Whether you are passionate about music, arts and crafts, or exercise, an assisted living community is sure to have something for you.

Transportation

Losing access to transportation is something everyone worries about as they age and they have trouble driving, whether because from physical or mental health challenges. That is why assisted living communities offer help with transportation so their residents can get where they need to go.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we offer parking for our residents who are still able to drive. For those who are unable to drive, we can arrange transportation for them.

Beauty Salon

Looking your best is often the key to feeling your best, which is why most assisted living communities include an on-site beauty salon.

Wearable Tech for Safety

Maybe someday we will live in a society where everyone has smart watches, but for now they are still pretty rare, especially for older Americans. But smart watches have some great benefits – namely that they allow you to call for help in an emergency if you can not reach your phone.

We have taken the best of both worlds by giving our residents watches and necklaces they can use to call for help if they need it. All they have to do is push a button, and one of our attentive staff members will come running to their aid.

Memory Care

Memory care involves specialized services from a staff that has been trained to provide memory care. As a result, not all assisted living communities offer memory care services, so if you are considering assisted living and you think your loved one might be in need of memory care services at some point, you might want to look for communities that offer memory care services so you will not have to move your loved one twice.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to going above and beyond for our residents. If you are interested, you can view our full list of services, and if you have any questions, please do not. hesitate to reach out.

What Kind of a Lifestyle Can I Expect in Senior Living?

What Kind of a Lifestyle Can I Expect in Senior LivingThere is a common misconception that moving into senior living means giving up all your freedom, when in fact the goal of senior living is the exact opposite. Senior living is designed to help people who struggle to perform the daily tasks necessary to take care of themselves continue to live their best life as they age. If you still find yourself wondering, “What, exactly, does that mean?” We are going to break down some of the aspects of senior living you can expect if you decide to move in.

Help with Daily Tasks

One of the most basic services senior living offers is help with daily tasks. Whether you need help doing laundry, washing dishes, or remembering to take your medication every day, the staff of senior living communities are there to help you with those tasks.

At the same time, we want our residents to maintain as much of their independence as possible, which means we help with the tasks you struggle with, but you continue performing the daily tasks that are still manageable for you. For example, if you need help preparing your meals, but have no problems washing dishes, we can help you cook, then leave you to enjoy your meal and clean up afterwards.

Transportation

Whether you need to run errands or just want to go visit friends and family, there is no reason that living in a senior living community should stop you from moving about as you please. Our residents at Stillwater Senior Living can drive themselves for as long as they are able to do so. For those who are no longer capable of driving, we provide transportation to get them anywhere they might need or want to go.

Social Activities

One of the biggest benefits of senior living communities is the chance to socialize with other people in your age group. Most senior living communities offer various classes and organized group activities that, not only keep you physically and mentally stimulated, but also make it easy for you to interact with your fellow senior living residents. Classes and group activities are a great way to break the ice and take the pressure off making new friends.

Exercise

Most senior living communities also offer opportunities for exercise, either on your own or as part of a group. Staying active only becomes more important as we get older, so residents of senior living communities are always encouraged to take advantage of their community’s gym and exercise classes as much as possible.

Pets

Your pets are members of your family, so every pet owner wants to know if they can take their pets with them when they move into senior living. The answer varies from one community to the next, so if taking your pet with you is important, that is something you will need to investigate before deciding which senior living community is right for you.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we love animals and encourage our residents to bring their pets along when they join our community. As far as we are concerned, once you join our community, so does your pet.

If you have any other questions about what it is like to live here, do not hesitate to reach out. We are always happy to chat.

What Are the Requirements for Assisted Living?

Requirements for Assisted LivingMaking the decision to move into assisted living is never easy, regardless of whether you are making the decision for yourself or a loved one. But before you can even consider whether it is time to move into assisted living, you first need to determine whether you qualify. The following are some of the requirements for assisted living.

You Need Help with Daily Tasks

Just because you forgot to bring in the mail once or twice does not mean you qualify for assisted living. But if daily tasks like doing laundry or cooking and cleaning becomes a struggle, that is when it becomes time to look into assisted living.

You Do Not Need Constant Monitoring

Assisted living is not the same as memory care. Some assisted living communities do offer memory care, but it is usually a separate part of the building, with different services and amenities from those offered in assisted living. Applicants will be tested by the staff before being accepted to determine whether they need assisted living or memory care.

You Do Not Have Extensive Medical Needs

Assisted living communities are not the same as nursing homes. While assisted living communities offer services to help you perform daily tasks, nursing homes are available to those who are healing from an injury, surgery, or a severe illness. Nursing homes can offer a higher level of medical care than assisted living communities.

How Are the Requirements for Assisted Living Determined?

Most assisted living communities have an application process that helps them determine whether someone is eligible for assisted living.

Once an application has been accepted, someone from the assisted living community will conduct an assessment to determine the type and level of care you or your loved one needs. The assessment usually includes things like

  • Getting a list and schedule of medications, as well as determining how much help is needed when taking medications;
  • Assessing mental condition to determine whether memory care is needed;
  • Sensory assessments to determine whether and how well you or your loved one can see and hear.

Creating a Care Plan

Once the assessment has been conducted, the assisted living community will come up with a care plan detailing the amount of care you or your loved one will need. This ensures that each resident has a customized care plan catered to them and their needs. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to assisted living. The aging process is different for everyone, and the level of care you receive in assisted living should reflect that.

When Spouses Need Different Levels of Care

Older Americans who are married often worry about getting separated from their spouse when they need different levels of care. One of the great things about assisted living is its flexibility. Spouses can continue to live together while receiving different levels of care. They will even be billed separately so the spouse with fewer needs does not have to worry about getting charged for the more extensive care provided to their spouse.

Applying for assisted living is not as easy or straightforward as it might seem, but we are always happy to walk you through the process. If you have any questions about the requirements for assisted living, just reach out now to start the conversation.

3 Tips for Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted Living

Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted LivingMany people are not aware that, if they have a family member who lives in assisted living, they can take that loved one out of assisted living to visit with friends and family, or just enjoy being out and about for a day. While there is a misconception that moving into assisted living means giving up your freedom, the truth is just the opposite – our job is to help you with the day-to-day tasks you currently struggle with so you can continue living life to the fullest, including going shopping and eating out. This is especially common as the holidays approach and residents of assisted living leave to spend time with their families.

If you are getting ready to take your loved one out of assisted living for a day and you are wondering how you can be sure to make the most of your time together, we have some tips for you.

1)   Get Updated on Medication Schedules

If your loved one is taking any medication, make sure you are up to date on everything they are taking and when they need to take what so you can remind them. This includes making sure you have all their medications before you leave, and definitely plan to stay out longer than you think you will be out. For example, if you expect to be back in time for them to take their mid-afternoon medication, take that medication with you anyway in case you get delayed. Better to be overstocked than to run into an issue where you need a medication you do not have on hand.

2)   Limit Your Activities

Getting out and walking around is a great way to get some exercise in, and while we are all for everyone (especially our residents) getting their daily exercise, it is important to keep in mind that older Americans tend to have lower energy levels and are less able to spend time on their feet than they once were, so make sure you plan plenty of breaks in your day out. For example, instead of shopping all day, you can plan to visit a few stores before stopping at a café to grab a snack and sit down for a while. Then you can visit a few more stores before going to a movie so you can sit and eat popcorn for a couple hours.

If you are doing a lot of shopping (for example, if you decide to take your family member out for some holiday shopping), make sure you have a plan for handling lots of heavy bags. This might mean you have to make frequent trips to your car to drop off packages before moving on to the next shop.

If you have not spent a significant amount of time with your loved one for a while, talk to the nurses before you leave about their activity level so you have an idea of how much activity they can handle before they need a break. And of course, keep an eye on your family member throughout the day. Even if they say they feel fine, pay attention if they are lagging behind you or the rest of the group, or if their breathing becomes labored.

 

This time of year, dressing appropriately means bringing layers. It might be cold enough to warrant a sweater in the morning, warm enough to ditch the sweater in the afternoon, then cool enough to wear a jacket in the evening. Take a look at the weather prediction before you head out and make sure you and your loved one have all the right clothing to keep you comfortable all day long, no matter what the weather decides to do.

Every assisted living community has their own rules and procedures when it comes to planning days out for their residents, so be sure to check with the assisted living community where your family member lives before you start making plans.

If you want to know what our policies are, just reach out to get the conversation started.

5 Benefits of Exercise for Older Americans

benefits of exerciseThe benefits of exercise in general are pretty well known, but exercise can be especially beneficial for older Americans as they age. If you are not familiar with the specific benefits exercise has to offer older Americans, here are some of the biggest reasons to stay active as long as possible.

1)   Boosts Immune Function

Most people know that we all tend to be more vulnerable to disease as we get older. While staying active cannot guarantee that you will never get sick, it has been proven to improve immune function and help your body fight off disease. Those who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick compared to their less active counterparts, and when they do get sick, the severity of their symptoms is usually much less than what their less active counterparts experience.

2)   Boosts Mood

When we feel better physically, we tend to feel better mentally. Not only does this improve our mood, but it also tends to be effective in combatting serious mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, both of which tend to affect older Americans at increasing rates.

3)   Boosts Balance

One of the things we worry about most with older Americans is that they will fall and suffer a serious injury. Regular exercise improves balance, making falls less likely.

4)   Builds Bone and Joint Strength

Strength training helps keep bones and joints strong. Not only does this allow older Americans to continue doing all kinds of things as they age (including lifting and carrying grandchildren), it also reduces the chances they will suffer a serious injury if they lose their balance and fall.

Joint pain is also a common complaint among older Americans and strength training is a great way to build and maintain strong joints and tendons, as well as reduce inflammation, so joint pain becomes a thing of the past.

You do not need heavy weights for strength training. Squats and pushups will do the trick, even if you have to do your pushups on your knees.

5)   Social Engagement

Working out alone is always an option, but most of us find we are more likely to exercise if we have a buddy. Not only can our workout buddy hold us accountable to our exercise goals, they can also make the process of working out more enjoyable. The only thing better than a walk in the woods or a bike ride along the water is a walk or bike ride with a friend to share the journey.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to providing our residents with plenty of opportunities for exercise, both inside and outside. Whether our residents want to exercise on their own or with a group of other residents, inside or outside, we can accommodate their needs. If you want to know more about our residents’ exercise options (or any other aspect of living here at Stillwater Senior Living) we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to schedule your free consultation.