Posted on October 20, 2021 by Admin
The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2060 – a shift that will increase demand for senior housing. In the coming decades, more people will ask themselves: “What is the cost of senior living communities?”
That’s a complex question, and our immediate answer is that it varies according to location, the level of care required, and other factors. In a June 2010 report, the US Government Accountability Office identified some top-level national averages:
- Assisted living options: $1,500–$6,500/month
- Memory care units: Price varies according to location
- Skilled nursing units: $1,500–$10,700/month
The same report also found that all-inclusive retirement living can cost anywhere from $1,800–$600,000 in entry fees alone. The range of that dollar amount is so vast that, in effect, it means that the amount you can expect to pay can vary substantially. Still, what do those dollar values mean? What do you get once you pay them? Let’s delve into the numbers, detailing the costs associated with the type of community so you can get a clearer idea of which option is right for you and your family.
The Cost of Independent Living Communities
Independent living communities are best suited for seniors who are able to live on their own without assistance provided by the community. With that said, many residents of independent living communities do have care needs and often choose to contract with outside home care providers. They may make this decision for any number of reasons – including the benefit of selecting services on a more a la carte basis than an assisted living community might allow for. (Many independent living communities also offer the option of moving to assisted living housing whenever residents are ready.)
The exact figure for how much independent living communities can cost varies according to where you live and the services and amenities that you can access. Upscale dining options, resort-quality features like swimming pools and wellness clinics, chauffeured car services and on-site medical concierge suites will all add to the cost of a lease. A community without any of those perks might not be as expensive.
The median monthly cost of senior independent living in the US was $2,552 in 2018, but many senior living communities do not display their rates and require anyone interested in moving in to speak to someone at the community. At Atria, we’re upfront about our prices, tax and veterans benefits that older adults might be able to access, and we also provide an affordability calculator that makes all the costs of our services transparent.
The Cost of Assisted Living Communities
Seniors often choose an assisted living option to maintain their lifestyle and independence in their own apartment, while benefitting from round-the-clock support whenever they need it. Assisted living costs can vary, but as of 2016, the average rent of a one-bedroom assisted living apartment with a single occupant was $3,628 per month.
Assisted living communities also include fees for care services based on an assessment of residents’ needs. The most frequently requested services include medication assistance and reminders, as well as personal care such as bathing, getting dressed, and scheduling appointments with physicians. Meals, laundry, and housekeeping are generally all included, and residents can still enjoy the ongoing programs, events, and workshops that the community hosts. Assisted living communities may also offer memory care neighborhoods for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The Costs of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)
Continuing care retirement communities (or CCRCs) are designed so that residents can access higher levels of care when they need them without having to move to an entirely different community. They generally offer three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing units. As with assisted living, some CCRC facilities offer memory care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia – a service that incurs an additional cost.
Since CCRCs do offer so many thresholds of care, they tend to be more expensive than communities that offer only assisted or independent living services. CCRCs usually charge an initial entrance fee, which starts around $100,000 for a non-purchase (or rental) arrangement, but they can climb to $1,000,000 depending on the size of the living unit and the community’s location. They also charge monthly service fees that typically range between $1,000–$5,000.
The types of services that assisted living communities and CCRCs offer often overlap, so it’s worth noting a few differences between them:
- CCRCs generally ask residents to sign a sizable long-term contract and pay a hefty buy-in fee. Assisted living communities typically rent on a month-to-month basis and charge a minimal new resident service fee. (Similarly, CCRCs ask for a lifetime commitment, whereas assisted living communities rent monthly.)
- CCRCs may rely on continued care service contracts with other providers at off-campus locations. Assisted living communities generally have an in-house staff who maintain the consistency of care.
- Most activities at CCRCs are resident-organized. Assisted living communities tend to hire professionals who specialize in developing monthly calendars of events for the residents. These events might include fitness classes or guest lectures.
The Costs of Living at Home
We realize that we’ve blitzed you with a lot of numbers that, by this point, might beg the question: “Isn’t it cheaper just to live at home?” That all depends on your circumstances.
Do you own your house or are you paying off a mortgage? Is your house or apartment equipped with aging-in-place modifications, or is that another investment that you’ll have to pay down soon? Are you able to perform maintenance or upkeep on your home, or do you pay someone to mow your lawn, rake your leaves, fix the backyard gate, and so on?
Answering those questions can help you determine how much you’re really paying to stay at home rather than move into a community. With that said, bear in mind this analysis that the costs of aging-in-place modifications (such as installing ramps, grab bars, better lighting, and safer flooring options) total about $20,000–$30,000. Other estimates peg that figure much higher.
The total cost of living in an assisted living community is around $48,000 per year. Compare that to some of the fees that can accrue when we choose to stay at home:
- The average cost of hiring a private duty aide who performs tasks such as cleaning or cooking is around $48,048 per year.
- Employing a full-time home health aide costs about $50,336 per year.
- Adult day health care typically runs around $18,720 per year.
As we age, the costs associated with ensuring that we’re receiving the care, social support, and daily maintenance we need can all add up. Older adults often find that paying one lump sum for peace of mind is worth the cost. With a provider like Atria, that sum pays for all these features that comprise an active, engaged life:
- Social Life: Social, cultural, and educational events to look forward to every day.
- Transportation: Car or bus service that couriers residents to outings, errands, and appointments.
- Dining: Chef-prepared meal options that meet residents’ dietary needs.
- Housekeeping: An attentive staff handles all maintenance requests and keeps apartments tidy.
- Emergency Assistance: Access to on-site help 24/7 in the event of an emergency.
- Exercise / Fitness: Daily opportunities to improve strength, flexibility, and balance with other residents.
- Independence: Assistance from a discreet staff to help residents live on their own terms.
Try Our Senior Living Costs Calculator
Making sense of the costs that bubble up as we answer the “moving to a senior living community vs. staying at home” question can be overwhelming. That’s why we developed a senior living costs calculator and a care costs calculator: to help you tabulate your expenses and match them against the expenses that you’ll incur at Atria. See what the numbers tell you – and contact us today about the right choice for you.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.
Category: Caregiver Support, Community, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on October 19, 2021 by Admin
Helping your parents transition into senior living starts with an open discussion that keeps their needs, wishes, and best interests at the forefront of the conversation. This decision can be challenging, but unthreading the intricacies involved will ultimately help everyone feel more stable. Here are some questions for your family to consider:
- How do your parents feel about where they live now?
- What are their current care needs, and how much will those services cost?
Perhaps the most important question to address, however, is whether your parents should move into an assisted living community, independent living community, or a nursing home. In this article, we’ll discuss assisted living communities specifically – how to choose the right one, which questions to ask, and how to make the move.
As you’re researching assisted living communities, one of the first considerations that you’ll encounter is location. What makes sense for your parents? (Do they want to stay in the city where they’ve always lived, or, if you live a few states away from them, does it make more sense for them to be closer to you?) Then research the community that’s right for them in that area. Come up with a few options, and go visit those communities – because even though their online photos will most likely look welcoming, you’ll want to walk the corridors and feel the atmosphere yourself.
Visit at least three assisted living communities. Schedule a tour during mealtime, so you can sample the restaurant fare. Talk to the staff. Mingle with the other residents and sit in on an activity – anything from an exercise class to a lecture series – to gauge how deeply those workshops have been planned and how effectively they’re presented. Ask questions. Take notes. Try to wander off the tour circuit, if possible, observing the gardens, taking in the views and walking around the on-site amenities and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Bear in mind that even if a certain community seems ideal – great price-point, stellar amenities, friendly reception, excellent kKey lime pie – it may not match up with your parents’ personalities. Some people prefer a patio with plenty of sunlight and a pineapple-beetroot amuse-bouche. Others of us are library-and-fireplace people who look forward to rainy nights with a novel and a glass of scotch. Your parents might like the food in one location, the residents in another, and the amenities and ambience of a third. Weigh all those options equally as your family decides which one is ultimately best for them.
Yes, you want to choose a community that matches your parents’ personalities, but one of the most important considerations to weigh is the community’s care services. You have most likely chosen assisted living, because, while you want your parents to continue their independent lifestyle, you also want them to benefit from living somewhere that can help with activities of daily living (or “ADLs”) if needed – such as bathing, getting dressed, and assistance with medication management. Be sure to discuss how the community will assess the level of care that your parents require. Take time to meet the nurses or caregivers on staff, if possible. Make sure that, if you do move your parents into a certain community, all the services and ADLs that they require will be provided and will be within your budget.
Packing and downsizing
Now that you’ve visited the communities in your area, you’re ready to commit to a decision and complete the transition – which involves packing.
Budget some time for this step, because it may take a while for your parents to consolidate their possessions. Remember how attached they may be to certain items in their house. Pictures or letters they’ve stored away and haven’t seen in years may evoke memories, so listen to them as they decide what they’re willing to part with – and what they want to hold on to. Be prepared to make lists of people to contact in case your uncle or cousin might want an armoire or a children’s book that’s belonged to your family for generations.
As you pack, be thinking about how you’re going to make the move. Will you transport your parents’ belongings to their new community one carload at a time? Will you hire movers? Decide on the date and time of the move, and the resources you’ll need, way ahead of schedule, so that you don’t run into any surprises come moving day.
Getting involved in activities
Once your parents are all moved into their new homes, it may be a good idea to visit them more frequently for the first few weeks or months, just to make sure they’re enjoying their new surroundings. Review their care assessment to stay apprised of any changes to their health. Encourage them to attend events in the community, so they can meet other residents. Talk to the staff and ask how they’re acclimating, and what arrangements or modifications might be made to make them feel more comfortable.
Do whatever you can to help your parents become well -situated, and if the usual 90-day acclimation period has passed and they feel as if a certain assisted living community isn’t the right fit for them, it’s okay to start the process over. Follow the steps we’ve listed above and listen to how your parents feel about the communities you visit. If this process sounds overwhelming, that’s okay, too. Contact us today to talk to a director of a community near you, so we can answer any of your questions about assisted living.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.
Category: Caregiver Support, Lifestyle, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on June 16, 2021 by Admin
Many older adults reach the stage where they ask themselves whether they’d prefer to stay at home or move into a senior living community. People enjoy living at home because it’s familiar and they view home as the place where they connect with friends and family. Senior living communities , however, offer all those advantages and more . Here are just a few of the ways that residents benefit from senior living communities .
Perhaps the core benefit of a senior living community is that it fosters an environment where residents stay engaged with other people so much that the atmosphere is like a family. That familial warmth extends to the interactions between other residents, their families and staff members, which helps create a feeling of belonging that anchors an entire community.
Receiving consistent care
Senior living communities assess residents before they move in to determine the care services they could benefit from the most (if they need it). Afterwards, other assessments are conducted regularly to ensure that residents are healthy and enjoying the benefits of the right senior living option . That way, children and family members can enjoy the time they spend with their parents, knowing they are receiving the care they need.
Once older adults join a community, they often find their list of daily to-dos shrinks, which allows them to rediscover the passions they always enjoyed. A good senior living community will also provide residents with ample opportunities to explore new interests – listening to guest lectures on a bevy of topics, painting outside or swimming in the pool.
Providing a healthy lifestyle
Research indicates that community living is often a healthier option for older adults, providing a suite of benefits that can’t be found at home. Take a look at our breakdown of the moving vs. staying debate – and contact us to see how Atria can help benefit you.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com / FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on June 8, 2021 by Admin
People who aren’t familiar with senior living communities sometimes assume that they are all the same. But the distinctions between three of the major senior living options – independent living, assisted living and nursing homes – can be substantial. So here are some helpful points of clarification on the differences between each one.
If you are an older adult leading an active lifestyle, you are probably best suited for an independent living community. Your residence options might include an apartment, a villa or a duplex. The staff in the community takes care of household tasks, which frees up your schedule to do things that you love – whether it’s traveling, hiking in the mountains with your son or getting to know other residents. You can also enjoy community events such as exercise classes, guest lecture series or happy hours. Think of independent living as an option that gives you all the comforts of home without any of the burdens of homeownership.
Older adults who choose assisted living housing options want to enjoy chef-prepared meals, group outings and help with household tasks just like independent living options, with the added benefit of caregiver support available 24/7. Residents can select a range of assistance options. Some residents may benefit from living in memory care neighborhoods. Others may ask for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming and safety checks. Assisted living communities often employ full-time licensed nurses or a physician to serve as another layer of professional, discreet support.
The function of a nursing home is to provide medical assistance to seniors who need round-the-clock monitoring and care. The residents who live in nursing homes often have conditions best treated with long-term palliative care or prescription medication administration. They may also require specialized rehabilitative services such as speech or occupational therapy. The primary focus of nursing homes is to provide 24-hour supervision and medical attention.
At Atria, we offer independent living and assisted living options customized to individual preferences – whether residents are looking to be free of the burdens of homeownership or need discreet daily support. No matter how much – or how little – assistance any given resident would prefer, contact us to see how we can cater to your individual needs.
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Dementia & Memory Care, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on May 3, 2021 by Admin
Atria Senior Living’s care services are backed by our industry-leading quality standards. In our communities that offer care services, the Resident Services Director – who is also a licensed nurse – assesses each resident’s physical, emotional and functional needs prior to move-in, and then on an as-needed basis following that initial care plan.
How assessments work
Because the well-being of residents is our top priority, we pride ourselves on the rigor with which we conduct assessments. Here’s how the process works:
- Prior to a new resident moving into Atria, a licensed nurse will visit the resident to review medications and develop an essential drug list.
- A physician will review the assessment before it’s shared with the resident and his or her family. Atria will conduct another assessment the day the new resident moves in, and add it into our system to help caregivers organize their days and meet residents’ needs.
- Following those initial assessments, Atria will conduct further assessments to determine whether a decrease or increase in care services is needed.
Discreet care is available 24 hours a day, and services generally fall into these three categories: personal care (bathing, grooming, getting dressed and safety checks); medication assistance (reminders, consultations with physicians and pharmacies and ongoing reviews with a nurse); and incontinent management (daytime and overnight assistance).
Some Atria communities also offer memory care, geared toward older adults experiencing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Memory care neighborhoods are located in thoughtfully designed, secure spaces within a community.
Care and Engage Life®
The Engage Life department adds another layer of support to the licensed nurses and caregivers within an Atria community.
“Engage Life and care and social work – they’re all interlocked,” Beth Levi, Engage Life Director at Atria Forest Hills, said. “In my role, I have the opportunity to monitor residents through the activities they’re doing. I see them on a daily basis. So if I notice a change in condition, I can coordinate with the care team.”
Engage Life Directors create programs and workshops that enhance residents’ lives through social connection and lifelong learning, which is one reason Levi is looped into the part of the assessment process for new or prospective residents: She learns about a resident’s care needs and assistance levels, and then personalizes the community events calendar so that there are plenty of opportunities tailored to each individual.
“When a new resident moves in, I take all the programs we offer, and then I go over it with them,” Levi said. “They pick out what they like and we make a personalized schedule, so when they move in, it’s all set in their minds – ‘This is what I’m going to be doing.’ The calendar is adaptable and changeable, and based upon their interests and needs.”
The Atria advantage
“The differentiator in Atria’s care is our preparation, our response, our protocols, our internal Quality Enhancement review process,” Joanna Mansfield, Atria’s Senior Vice President of Care and Life Guidance, shared. “We have stringent guidelines. We have checks and balances to make sure residents’ needs are being fulfilled.”
Those stringent guidelines are the result of being so attentive to residents’ well-being. When it comes to a community’s Resident Services Director, Atria only hires nurses with a clinical skill set and management experience who are also familiar with working with older adults. That attention to detail required in their jobs helps give nurses and caregivers the structure necessary to provide the best care for the world’s wisest people.
Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Dementia & Memory Care, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on March 25, 2021 by Admin
Diane worried about leaving the hospital. She’d been admitted, again, for losing consciousness due to a health issue that caused her blood oxygen level to drop.
“It’s scary to wake up on the floor and not realize what happened,” she said. “Since I live alone, my family and I decided I should recuperate at Atria to make sure the new treatment plan from my doctor works. If not, somebody will be there to help.”
Diane is staying at an Atria community while she recuperates. Short-term stays offer older people like her an excellent way to receive the care and support they need while recovering from an illness or surgery. Short-term stay guests enjoy a furnished, private apartment plus all the same services, amenities and social opportunities available to Atria residents.
A short-term stay is also a great way to see what senior living is like.
A better outcome
When an older person is discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility, their recovery depends largely on following doctors’ orders. Are they taking medications properly? Adhering to their new diet? Keeping follow-up appointments?
For people who live alone, no longer drive and may possibly be dealing with a number of chronic health conditions, compliance is often a struggle. As a result, their recovery can suffer and they risk a setback, which could lead to another hospital or rehab stay.
“A lot of short-term stay guests come to Atria due to health issues,” said Karen Devaney, Atria’s National Director of Care Management.
“Short stays offer a way for people to recover with trained staff available around the clock to make sure they’re doing everything they need to do,” Devaney added. “We also provide their meals, housekeeping, drive them to appointments and offer opportunities to connect with others.
“Short-term stay guests go through the same initial care assessment as residents before move-in. The care coordination they receive is also the same.”
So, instead of juggling instructions from numerous healthcare providers, a short-term stay guest can focus on recovering while Atria manages the rest. Care coordination also makes sure everyone involved in a person’s well-being is on the same page – from doctors, nurses and physical therapists to caregivers and family members.
A quick solution
A short-term stay often comes to the rescue for families facing a sudden or unexpected situation. An older family member may be discharged from the hospital or rehab sooner than anticipated and needs a place to recover. Families may discover an older relative’s living environment is no longer safe.
“Our door is always open,” stated Pamela Filby, Atria’s Vice President of Sales. “When a person needs to move quickly, a short-term stay provides a furnished apartment on short notice, with support available around the clock.”
Knowing their older relative is safe and cared for gives family members time to more thoughtfully explore their options.
A welcome change
When it comes to taking a break, short-term stays go both ways.
Caregivers occasionally need time off to rest and recharge. Maybe they’re planning a vacation with their spouse and children and need to make arrangements for Mom. Since short-term stay guests enjoy the same services, dining options, amenities and social opportunities as residents, the break can be a welcome change for her, too.
On the other hand, perhaps an older family member would like to enjoy a long visit with relatives in another state but doesn’t want to stay in a hotel or the family’s home.
“We have regulars,” said Filby. “We jokingly call them ‘frequent fliers.’ It’s a nice way for them to get to know the community.
“We even have couples who book short-term stays at communities in Florida, just to get away and have everything handled for them.”
A toe in the water
“Sometimes a family is reluctant to make a move and sell the home, even if they’ve started to realize their parent needs more care,” Filby explained. “We suggest families try a temporary stay while sorting things out.”
For active older adults who don’t need daily support but are ready to downsize and let go of the cooking, cleaning and home maintenance, a short-term stay is an ideal way to try out senior living. After a short-term stay, many realize how much more fulfilling their lives can be when surrounded by daily opportunities to pursue new interests and hobbies in a community of friendly neighbors.
“I hope more families take advantage of short-term stays because the benefits can be tremendous,” said Filby.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Dementia & Memory Care, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on March 13, 2021 by Admin
At Atria, we believe the right amount of discreet personal care can help older people participate, grow and engage in what brings them purpose and joy.
We also believe in supporting families by doing everything we can to reassure them their parent is safe, well cared for and meaningfully connected to others.
Sheila and Rochelle
After her husband of 59 years passed away, Rochelle didn’t want to live alone. Friends suggested senior living, and her daughter, Sheila, traveled to North Carolina to help search for options. After touring Atria Southpoint Walk, they made their decision.
“It was wonderful,” Sheila said. “We knew within 10 minutes this was the place.”
A self-professed social butterfly, Rochelle settled right in. She loved the full calendar of events, friendly neighbors and chef-prepared meals. Sheila was relieved to see her mother gaining back the weight she’d lost after her father passed away.
Two years later, Rochelle took a fall. Sheila came to visit from Illinois while her mother recuperated. During treatment, doctors noticed a bit of memory loss and diagnosed Rochelle with mild dementia.
“Dementia doesn’t run in our family, so I didn’t know what to do,” said Sheila. “That’s when I started Googling.”
Sheila discovered Atria Glenview 10 minutes from her home in Illinois. Rochelle’s dementia was mild enough for her to move into assisted living, with specialized care available in the community’s Life Guidance® memory care neighborhood, if needed.
“It was much like the independent living community Mom came from so it was a good fit,” stated Sheila. “But knowing she had help taking her medications and staff to make sure she was eating was such a relief.”
Eventually, Rochelle’s dementia progressed, and she moved to Life Guidance. Sheila said the staff at Atria were there for both of them, every step of the way. The team not only provided compassionate, highly personalized care for her mother, they helped Sheila understand more about dementia, what to expect and ways to cope with her own feelings – through support groups and phone calls at least twice a week from Life Guidance Director Kelly Burnett.
“The regular contact eases my mind,” Sheila added. “I’ve been able to express my own fears and concerns without being dismissed. I can’t tell you how much that matters.
“When you think of all the changes that have happened with my mom, having Atria on our side to guide us has been invaluable. I don’t think people realize how deep the support can go at Atria.”
Jack and Richard
Jack gets around. The 89-year-old resident of Atria Oakridge in North Carolina knows every dining room server by name and most of his neighbors, too. Before COVID-19, he loved playing the piano during ice cream socials.
“Dad is really outgoing,” said his son, Richard. “He enjoys talking with people, and he’s sharp as a tack. He’s thoroughly enamored with Atria.”
Jack came to live at the community a few years ago after his wife moved into a skilled nursing facility. Richard lives 600 miles away and didn’t want to worry about his father living alone.
“I don’t think it would do him well to be on his own completely,” said Richard. “It’s not safe for someone his age.
“Since he’s been at Atria, I’m confident he’s in good hands. I never have to worry. That’s priceless to me.”
Holly and Martin
Martin moved to Atria Sugar Land in Texas four years ago. At 93, he often forgets to wear a face mask when leaving his apartment. Lucky for him, staff find creative ways to help; lately, they’ve been hanging a face mask on his walker with a friendly message reminding him to wear it.
“They’ve hired really great people,” said Martin’s daughter, Holly. “I work in education, so I know in any school system you can be in the worst building with great teachers or the best building with bad teachers. It’s all about the people.”
When searching for senior living, Holly and her father explored several communities to find one that was warm and welcoming. The day they toured Atria, Martin’s wife was too sick to join them.
“I told them we’d have one less for lunch, so the staff packed a meal to take with us for my stepmom,” continued Holly. “Little things like that speak volumes.”
Knowing her father has support around the clock gives Holly and her siblings comfort. Two years ago, Martin’s health issues required a hospital stay. After returning to Atria, he was weak and needed extra support. Staff escorted him to meals and checked on him several times throughout the night.
“Just knowing that attention was there lifted a big weight off our shoulders,” said Holly.
Regular communication also puts her mind at ease.
“That’s huge,” she said. “You want to know what’s going on and they keep us updated by email and phone.
“It’s clear to see they really care about residents. And I don’t have to worry.”
Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on November 19, 2020 by Admin
This year, the holidays will look different for all of us. If you are one of the more than 60 million caregivers in North America who look after an older adult inside the home, you may be wondering how to celebrate and stay safe.
Stay connected with others
Many people experience depression during the holidays due to stress and social isolation. Even before the pandemic, caregiving limited the time and opportunities you have to spend with others. Feelings of isolation may be amplified this year.
If this happens, tell yourself it’s okay to be sad. Remind yourself that everyone feels isolated to some degree this year, so you are not alone. Acknowledge your feelings, and then make safe social connections a priority. Call friends and family members often and arrange for online video chats.
Find an online caregiver support group to connect with people who can relate to your feelings. A good place to start is at Caregiving.com. Partnering with another caregiver can help you both navigate the holidays. Agree to talk on the phone, video chat, text or email each other daily. If they live nearby, offer to pick up their groceries the next time you go out, and be sure to ask how they’re doing – from a safe distance, of course.
Acknowledge stress and release it
A long holiday to-do list paired with caregiving responsibilities and extra safety measures can bring out your inner Scrooge. You may feel overwhelmed.
Consider lowering your holiday expectations and obligations this year. If you’re frustrated, use that emotion as fuel and take action. Call a friend and talk about it. Say your feelings out loud. Taking care of stress in a positive, healthy way begins with acknowledging and expressing it – even laughing about it. You can also blow off steam by going for a brisk walk, a bike ride or singing at the top of your lungs inside your car.
Celebrate in smaller ways
Keeping or creating a few special traditions is good for your health and well-being as well as the person you care for, according to Atria's Christy Phillips, PhD in gerontology. Celebrating in smaller ways can help keep the holiday season stress-free. See if a few of the ideas below work for your situation. Most important, choose to do only as much as feels manageable to you.
- Plan a virtual party with family and friends, complete with decorations, holiday music and food.
- Mail gifts ahead of time so you can watch recipients open them via video chat.
- Email family members the lyrics to favorite holiday songs and schedule a virtual sing-along.
- Set aside time to share memories of holidays past.
- Create holiday-themed art together.
- Write and mail holiday cards.
- Play your favorite seasonal music.
- Binge watch some holiday movies.
- Bake your favorite pies, cookies or other desserts, just because. Package up extras to give as gifts or donations.
- Cook a traditional meal together, or have fun coming up with a new dish.
- Dust off your most festive, sparkly duds and dress up for holiday photos. Share them with family and friends via email, group texts or social media.
- Share what you’re grateful for during a gratitude ceremony.
- “Attend” virtual religious services.
Keep in mind, all traditions were new at one time!
There may come a day when full-time caregiving is no longer the solution for you or the one in your care. If and when you’re ready to consider additional options, Atria is here to answer your questions and provide guidance about our communities and senior living in general.
To see how Atria is creating the safest possible environment for residents and staff, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
Category: Caregiver Support, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on November 9, 2017 by Admin
For caregivers, the approaching holiday season can bring with it a flurry of emotions – not all of them positive. If you are one of the 39 million caregivers in the United States, here are some tips to help you cope with the emotional ups and downs of the season.
Know that you are not alone
As a caregiver of an older person, you may experience a great feeling of loneliness that comes from being isolated from others due to the responsibilities of caregiving. It can seem as if no one understands your role as a caregiver and you are alone in the role with all of the daily responsibilities. It is very “real” to feel alone, especially around Christmas. Know that this feeling is valid. It helps to reach out to someone who is in a similar situation. They are likely to be feeling lonely, too. Talk on the phone, text or email each other daily. Make a pact to shore each other up through the holiday season. Be sure to connect with someone other than the person for whom you are caring.
Acknowledge anger – and let it go
Long lines at the mall, no parking spaces and too many items on the to-do list can bring out anyone’s inner Scrooge. Hey, we all can get angry during the holidays, right? Bah humbug! As a caregiver, your anger may be related to grief and loss. Your roles have changed, your responsibilities have grown when they were supposed to diminish and your burden is heavier. In the meantime, the whole world around you seems merry. If you feel anger, use it as fuel to take action. Call a friend and talk about it. Say it out loud, “I am angry right now because I cannot decorate this house. I don’t have time.” Identifying the feeling and taking control of the situation can help curb the anger. I know a woman who cleans closets and drawers to help blow off steam. Some folks go for long walks or bike rides. Take care of the anger in a positive and healthy way, starting with acknowledging it and getting it out.
Seek out social interaction
One in four people may experience depression during the holiday season. The top factor contributing to this is social isolation. Because of the demands of caregiving, you undoubtedly experience a heightened degree of social isolation. Caregivers often report that their circle of friends has shrunk to one or two. Adult children are too busy to visit or travel home. Social and spiritual outlets are hard to access due to the demands of caregiving. Give yourself permission to be sad while making it a priority to find ways to have social interaction. Call a friend or family member and ask them to visit. If you are invited to dinner or an event and are able to attend, then go. Many caregivers fall into the trap of declining invitations to the point of not being invited in the future. You will be giving yourself and the person in your care a gift by finding social outlets to help you stay mentally healthy.
Embrace new traditions
With caregiving come many changes. If you are an older adult caregiver, the additional changes in life roles, traditions and abilities may add to feelings of grief and loss. Acknowledge those feelings while looking for opportunities to change your roles and establish new traditions. If you feel up to baking all the pies like every Thanksgiving before, don’t let anyone take away that joy. I know of one family who realized how overwhelming big crowds of boisterous children had become for their aging parents. So, they divided up the visits over the course of a week and actually had more quality time together. Give yourself permission to create new traditions. Remember, all traditions were new at one time or another!
As a caregiver, there may come a time when full-time caregiving is no longer the solution for you or the one in your care. Give yourself permission to consider additional options for care.
Category: Caregiver Support
Tags: caregiver, Holidays, Senior Living
Posted on October 31, 2017 by Admin
During the colder months, many seniors experience the winter blues. Chilly temperatures, fewer sunny hours and days stuck indoors can cause serious seasonal malaise. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD — depression increased by lack of sunlight during the winter months — affects approximately 10 million Americans each year, with another 10 to 20 percent reporting milder SAD symptoms. (more…)
Category: Caregiver Support
Tags: Seasonal Affective Disorder, wellness, winter