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Finding The Best Elderly Dementia Care Facility

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Dementia is a term for mental decline that is severe enough to interfere with the activities of daily living. The most common type of elderly dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are many other causes. Elderly dementia itself is not a disease, but it is a term that encompasses a wide range of symptoms.

When to Look for Help

It can be difficult to decide when a loved one with dementia should no longer live on their own. Many people with various forms of elderly dementia can live independently for years with the right support and memory aids.

But eventually your family member will need to be moved to a facility, but knowing when is difficult. This is especially true since many people with elderly dementia will often conceal their struggles. The following are some signs to be on the lookout for:

  • They are no longer sending letters of birthday cards regularly.
  • They have stopped initiating phone calls.
  • They are in a hurry to get off the phone every time you talk.
  • They are making calls at strange hours for non-emergencies.

When elderly dementia progresses, it can become difficult to carry out the steps needed to write and send a letter. Losing the ability to carry on longer conversations and communicate with letters can mean that they are also struggling with driving and cooking.

When someone is struggling with self-care tasks, you might see some of the following:

  • Their weight is changing without explanation.
  • They don’t dress appropriately for the occasion or the weather.
  • Their clothes do not look clean or they smell.

While the previous signs indicate your loved one might be losing the ability to care for themselves on their own, the most obvious signs are much more serious.

Any of these could indicate your loved one is no longer safe at home and needs to be moved to a senior care facility as soon as possible:

  • Having the utilities turned off because the bills are not paid.
  • Evidence of donations to charities your loved one does not have a history of supporting.
  • Robbery caused by doors being left unlocked or because of people they are letting into their home.
  • Getting lost of wandering off.

Choosing an Elderly Dementia Facility

One of the most important considerations is whether the senior care facility you choose cares for people with all stages of dementia. You don’t want to place them somewhere and then have to move them again when their disease progresses. This could be both frightening and heartbreaking, so make sure they can stay in their new Costa Mesa or Yorba Linda home for the rest of their lives.

You want to choose a senior care facility where the staff is specifically trained to care for individuals with dementia, and they can handle the associated behaviors such as combativeness and sun downing.

There should be specific safety precautions in place for these patients to prevent them from wandering, and these can include locked dementia units or personal monitoring systems.

Paying for Elderly Dementia Senior Care

The majority of families pay for their loved one’s residential care themselves. There are benefits that cover residential senior care, and those include long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits, and Medicaid. Medicare only pays for short-term skilled care and does not pay for the cost of long-term residential care.

At Senior Home Advocates, we have the expertise and experience to help you make the best decisions possible for your loved one with elderly dementia. We’re a comprehensive senior care agency, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Professional Guidance on Getting the Patient to Agree to a Safe Care Arrangement

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With interest rates low and home prices high, this is the ideal time to downsize, if you have been considering selling your current home. Interest rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage are hovering around 4%. This is causing home prices to rise.  Because these low interest are not expected to last very long, many buyers a scrambling to purchase their next home.

It is a seller’s marketplace and for those wishing to downsize it is a good time to gather information and start planning. A big advantage to selling now lies in the amount of money you will save by shifting courses to a smaller home. If you could save $150,000 with the sale of your bigger home by buying a cheaper one, why wouldn’t you want to do so? If you invested that $150,000 by selling when in your late 60’s as opposed to your late 70’s or 80’s, you could double maybe even triple the amount you save by diversifying it elsewhere. By downsizing, you will also save on maintenance and monthly utility costs.

Another option to consider is a “reverse mortgage”. A reverse mortgage is a home loan that provides cash payments to the owner based on the homes equity. Homeowners defer payment of the loan until they die, sell, or move out of the home. Upon the death of homeowners, their heirs either give up ownership to the home or must refinance the home to purchase the title from the reverse mortgage company. This type of loan can be a good thing, if you have lots of equity, but it also has its drawbacks and should be well thought out before securing this type of mortgage.

Another route for homeowners that wish to remain in their larger homes is to go with refinancing at a lower rate. If you have an ARM, you may want to go with a fixed rate now that rates are lower. This will lower the monthly mortgage payment.

More commonly, homeowners that want to downsize and move to a new community, find that places with large concentrations of elderly citizens are more amiable than others are. For instance, homes in Southern California appeal to seniors moving from colder climates. A study conducted by AARP estimates that 25.5 million seniors ages 50 and older still have a mortgage when they reach retirement age 65+. However, having a smaller monthly payment will definitely add money to the coffers.

Yet another option once you have made the decision to downsize is to consider “retirement communities”. Senior friendly neighborhoods, mobile home parks, apartments, condominiums, and other facilities that have a 50+ regulation are increasing in popularity. They offer many activities and really foster a strong sense of community. It is a great option for those wishing to still be active. Many offer golf courses, pools, and other amenities.

Whether you decide to downsize or just want to get a fair market value on your home, always rely on a professional that is trustworthy and knowledgeable. There are many con’s directed toward seniors, therefore it is essential that you only deal with reputable companies. Keep in mind that it is always okay to ask for references and check them out. You worked hard for your money and retirement and it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Just How Many Seniors Are There?

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The age of “Baby Boomers” is giving way to a sharp increase in the number of retirees and seniors. The technical age to be called a senior is age 65+. Baby boomers officially began retiring at age 65+ in 2006. It is estimated by the Administration on Aging, that by the year 2030 (just 15 years from now) there will be about 72.1 million older Americans, a growth increase of 19% from 2000. The number grows to an estimated 88.5 million by the year 2050. This increase in senior citizens will have a profound effect on many industries, especially healthcare.

It’s interesting to attempt to attribute the increase to the number of babies that were born post World War II, in what is considered the “baby boom era”. However, we need to also take into account that people are living longer than ever before. With advances being made in medicine, people are living on average a full 15+ years past what they did in earlier eras.

From 2003 to 2004, statistics comprised found that 351,000 seniors joined the 65+ group. 3.7 million seniors who resided in the United States in 2004 were foreign born.

4.9 million Seniors were over the age of 85 in 2004 and of those for every 45 that were men, 100 were female.

Where do the most senior citizens call home? The state of Florida is home to the most people age 65+. Of course, the good folks in the Sunshine State list Tampa-St. Petersburg’s area of having the largest population of seniors, at 18.2 percent. Drastically different in climate, Pittsburgh, PA is the second place spot, where 18 percent of the population is over 65.

Seniors do love their warm sunny days, whether they spend them on the golf course, taking a class, or walking on the beach. In Orange County, CA, folk’s age 65-74 increased 21.6% from 2000, age 75-84 increased 15%, and those age 85+ increased by 45.2%. Orange county retirees average a median household income of $47,992.

Also worth noting is that 343,308 households in Orange, County, CA have one or more persons age 60 and older.

 As a large number of the population continues to barrel toward retirement, continued growth in many industries is expected to rise. However, none changing as much as the healthcare field. Especially those that work in geriatric care, medical facilities are also expected to increase. Places like assisted living facilities, senior centers, adult daycares, and other businesses set up to help take care of our aged citizens will begin to sprout up and increase in numbers.

It’s not all about the numbers though. Our aging relatives and friends have a legacy and life lessons that we need to know. Spending time, listening, and befriending our senior citizens is the perfect way to show our caring and respect. It is a task we should not take lightly. One day, it will be us on the other side of the aging fence.

Choosing the Right Assisted Living Home

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Finding the right assisted living home for your parents or loved one is a concern that eventually many families will have to face. The high number of facilities and the long lists of do’s and don’ts can be an overwhelming feeling for people who have not made this tough decision before. In the United States alone there are over 15,000 assisted living homes, and 1,500 continuing care facilities- these numbers exclude nursing and groups homes, as well as adult communities. So, how is someone without a background in this field supposed to choose the right home for their family member? Below are a few guidelines that can help your find the best fit for your loved one.

1. Is Assisted Living the Right Choice?

If the individual is happy and comfortable living where they are, it may be a good idea to start thinking of alternative services that could better fit their needs. In- home help and assisted community living could be a great option for people who do not need the intense hands on care you might receive in an assisted living residency.

2. Do Your Research

Visiting the homes you are considering is a great way to meet the staff, and experience first hand the type of care your loved one is going to receive. Many facilities have the option of allowing people to stay for a weekend and truly see what the experience would be like.This gives everyone a chance to set expectations, tour the apartments and meet the staff.

3. Ask the Right Questions

When touring homes it is impertinent to be as specific and as detailed as possible when asking the questions about the live-in homes. Write down the questions you have such as, what does kind of amenities does the unit offer, what are the nutritious values in the meals served, what kind of activities does the place offer, etc. Think of questions that take into consideration the basic needs, as well as other necessities that will affect their stay in these homes.

4. Understand Costs

Before you commit to a facility, make sure you understand all the costs and fees associated with the plan you purchase. Research to see if Medicare, veteran’s organizations and community grants can support or supplement portions of the costs.

This is a big transition for all family members, and it is very important to make sure sure all parties involved are comfortable with the choices being made. Tune in next month for more tips that can help you make this important decision.

Coping with Dementia

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People who are in the early stages of their dementia have a more difficult time participating in social activities than those who have been suffering with this illness for a longer period of time. Teepa Snow, a dementia education specialist, believes that this phenomenon occurs due to the fact that patients in the first stages of this illness are more aware of their clinical state, which in turn inhibits their social skills. The awareness of something being wrong is extremely hard to overcome, which will negatively effect  interactions with other people.

By creating daily activities that help patients bond with their caregivers is a great opportunity for them to reach a daily sense of happiness and fulfillment. Teepa has over three decades of experience in the caregiving field, and she is on the road most of the year educating healthcare providers and families on ways to interact with their loved ones on a more personal level. She explains that by establishing meaningful interactions, you allow the patients to go through this illness with dignity. Teepa  also teaches the importance of balance when creating a schedule for people with dementia. Caregivers have to be very careful to not overstimulate patients, and allow time for them to de-stress, as well as engage in a wide range of fitness activities such as walking and balance.

Ms. Snow also points out the  importance of setting up a stable activity schedule for people who are living with dementia. She describes patients who become easily overwhelmed and must be introduced to a balanced day that can give them a chance to relax and focus. Separating people who are in different stages of the disease is also important, because they could become irritated and more confused by their surroundings.

It is no easy feat to become a caregiver for people with dementia- whether you are a professional caregiver or a family member. Local groups and online communities are a good source of support for anyone that needs an extra hand. Teepa Snow also suggests that people need to continuously readjust their expectations and diversify the activities schedule as their loved ones progress towards the disease.

What to Look for in a Facility

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Trying to find the right care facility for your senior can be an overwhelming and confusing process. Cost, level of care, and environment are just a few of the factors you need to take account when trying to find a new home for your senior. Knowing what to look for and knowing which questions to ask when visiting facilities can make the process easier for you.

The first step is knowing where to look. There are so many options out there that you can feel overwhelmed before you even get started. Here are a few ways to start to narrow down your search.

  • Distance-Begin by looking in an area close to family and friends. It is easier for friends and family to visit a loved one if the facility is conveniently located.
  • Referrals- Ask the people you know if they have any recommendations. Does your family physician or specialist have a facility they recommend? Have your friends had experience with different facilities? Hearing about experiences from others can help you decide what you want for your loved one.
  • Medical Needs- What specific medical needs does your senior have? Do they have a special condition that requires special care? You want to make sure that the facility has experience and is capable of providing that care.

Once you begin your search and find a few facilities that you think fit the needs of your senior, there are some things you need to look for in the facility itself.

  • Cleanliness- Is the facility well-kept? Does it appear clean and neat? If you can smell urine or if there is a strong deodorizer attempting to mask the smell of urine, this can be a red flag.


  • Food- Pay attention to the food that is being served. Does it appear fresh, nutritious, and appetizing? If your loved one has special dietary needs, be sure to ask the facility how they accommodate those needs. Also take note of what kind of assistance is available during meals.
  • Arrangement- This varies depending on the type of facility. Nursing homes tend to resemble medical facilities with centralized nursing stations, whereas residential care facilities have a more homely feel. Larger assisted living facilities tend to have apartment style living. When deciding on a facility, it is important to take your senior’s preference for living arrangement into consideration.
  • Activities- Be sure to ask about the activities offered by the facility. Cognitive activities are important to maintaining your senior’s mental health, just like exercise is important to maintain their physical health. Also, ask if they take the residents out on weekly or monthly trips. These trips can be a fun opportunity for your senior to get out of the facility.

The quality of the staff and caregivers is a crucial factor when choosing a new home for your senior.  It is importantPathways_to_Care_Senior_with_Caregiver_14 to get a feel for the staff and caregivers when you visit the facility. It can be hard to know what to look for, so here’s a short list to help you get started.

  • Staffing- How many caregivers and staff members does the facility have? Do they have 24 hour awake staff? How many staff members and caregivers are there on weekdays, weekends, and in the evenings? What is the staff or caregiver turnover rate?
  • Interaction with You- When you go to visit the facility take note of how the staff interact with you. If you are visiting a smaller facility, such as a residential care facility, you will most likely meet with the owner. Are they rude and trying to rush through the meeting? Or are they kind, friendly, and helpful? Do they want to discuss how they would handle your senior’s medications, health condition, and possible emergencies?
  • Interactions with Residents- How does the staff interact with the current residents? Are they warm and kind? Do the residents appear happy and engaged with the caregivers? See if you can observe a meal. Are the caregivers there to assist those who need help with eating and mobility?

Even with these tips, finding a home for your senior can be overwhelming and difficult. We at Senior Home Advocates are here to assist you with your search. Give us a call at (714) 793-0527 for your free consultation to learn how we can help you find the next home for your elderly loved one.

Is Your Family Resisting Getting Senior Care?

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It’s more common then you might think… mom or dad now need senior care but you can’t get it done because your sibling is fiercely resisting all of your efforts.  Probably over 50% of the families we see at Senior Home Advocates are stymied because their family members are fighting with each other.  The adult children usually haven’t communicated in a long time and are suddenly thrown into a stressful situation that takes true cooperation and family conflict resolution.  Many siblings simply can’t accept each other’s ideas…it’s a little bit of “not invented here” syndrome or one sibling is resented because they were the”favored” child or maybe one has been financially mooching off of mom and simply can’t be trusted by the others.

First thing to remember is that nobody is adequately prepared for the challenge of having to arrange for an aging parent’s care. It’s not talked about in our schools, our churches, or our popular media and yet we all have parents!  Take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only family resisting getting senior care or going through this; there are millions of others facing the same challenge as you are right now.

Next, seek out help and don’t try to do this alone.  You need someone in the middle when siblings are at each other’s throats. You can deal with family conflict and have a positive successful result. Professional case managers have lots of experience in dealing with how to defuse these situations.  At Senior Home Advocates we have found that the best technique is to call a family meeting and let the financial facts do the talking.  There’s something about having an outside party with facts and figures that makes everybody willing to lower their defenses and listen.  We use a simple tool that compares each possible care scenario side by side. By seeing how the finances change for each scenario and how certain government financial benefit programs would work under each possible scenario, families have the information they need to make a joint decision…because with the right information, the right answer becomes fairly obvious.

A family meeting with a professional – acting as a third party creates an environment where a decision can be made “then and there” and witnessed by each other.  After that, the case manager plays a critical role in answering questions as the care plan is implemented or the care needs change.  In many cases when a well trained care manager is involved, families can actually experience some positive growth in the relationship they have with each other. At Senior Home Advocates we provide you with an initial consultation that is free of charge and will give the whole family a chance to experience how effective our techniques can be in breaking any log jams they might be experiencing.  You can arrange for an initial consultation by calling us at (714) 793-0527 and we will set an appointment that is convenient for you.