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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.