Assisted Living Today’s Weekly Roundup

Fall is here. The leaves are beginning to change and the air is crisp (unless of course you’re living in the south and enjoying a late season heat wave!) Pumpkins and mums are beginning to decorate landscapes and apples are ripe for the picking. Before long we’ll be counting down the days till Thanksgiving. But for now, enjoy the cool days as September closes and October begins.

In case you missed the news of the week, we have put together some of the best and most interesting bits from around the web, some will warm your hearts, others with just make you think a bit. We hope you enjoy and please let us know if you have come across anything interesting or noteworthy this week!

Weird but True

At 102, you’d expect Margaret Dunning of Michigan to be enjoying her days relaxing with family. Instead, she’s still out and about and even changing the oil in her 83-year-old car. That’s right Dunning is still doing the regular maintenance on her 1930 Packard 730 Roadster which she’s had for 63 years. Learn what’s kept Dunning feeling so young in this great piece from Today.

Senior Lifestyles

You’re never too old to make the record’s books. At nearly 101 years old Frenchman Robert Marchand is hoping to break into the record books as the fastest cyclist in his age range. He’s looking to complete 62-miles in less than five hours. To read more about Marchand’s quest, check it here.

In a report from Fox Business, Baby Boomers are looking for a few specific actions from the man who will lead the country. Boomers are concerned with issues that will affect their savings and retirement as well as those concerning their health.  As a key voting demographic, boomer will play a major role in the 2012 election.

Senior Health

If you’re about to turn 65, you undoubtedly have questions about Medicare. Daily Finance has put together a great primer with the top 5 things every senior should know about Medicare which covers everything from when you should enroll to the difference between regular Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.

A British study is revealing that free mass transit and access to transportation for seniors encourages those 60 and over to be more physically active. Would a free ride help get you out of the house and into the city? Read more about the study at UPI.com

Senior Living

Former CEO of Sunwest Management Inc. was indicted on more than 50 counts of fraud after allegedly running a Ponzi scheme while in charge of the nation-wide senior living chain.  Jon Harder is accused of defrauding investors while he was at the helm of over 300 assisted living facilities with over 15,000 residents. To learn more about Harder’s case, check out the story on OregonLive.

Trends in Technology

Besides staying connected using technologies like Skype, social networking and surfing the net boosts confidence in seniors. The latest study also points to an increase in the desire to lean technology-based skills. To learn the details, check out the report on Counsel & Heal.

Photo via Mike Cardew of The Akron Beacon Journal 

What To Expect in A Skilled Nursing Facility

Affordable Service Tailored to One’s Budget

Skilled nursing homes have provided an opportunity for senior citizens to have a lifestyle they often dreamed of and envied. With annual expense at some in-house senior care centers approaching close to the entire pension these people draw after their retirement and some living facilities charging more than they could afford in their lifetime, many people question whether they can afford skilled nursing homes for their future. More than a decade ago, this was not possible for an average person. But now, with many such facilities expanding their businesses throughout the country, there are hundreds to choose from, some even affordable than living in a single family home.

High Quality of Life

Once known as a private home care facility for elders and disabled individuals, nursing homes were indeed institutions where the adults, often the ones who were unable to care for themselves in their homes resided. Today, they are simply boarding facilities with a wide range of ‘comfort dressing’. Most have health care and extended care services, and the facilities state quite clearly all the benefits they offer before admission.

The majority of nursing homes in the United States are Medicaid and Medicare certified, either for-profit or non-profit organizations. Unlike other assisted living facilities across the country, nursing homes that are skilled have a widely varying mix of boarders. Like all hospitals, each nursing home has its own “personality”, which requires to be examined by the potential resident to see if it meets his or her needs. A handful of such facilities are affiliated with government agencies and few others are run by private investors.

Features Not Found in Other Senior Care Centers

A substantial difference between a skilled nursing home and other conventional care facilities is the tremendous benefits it provides such as 24 hour supervision, customized meals, group activities, individual attention to residents by trained staffs and help with daily chores. For many residents, skilled nursing home is fun and living a perfect lifestyle.

Skilled nursing homes usually have an atmosphere just like in a hospital where the staffs offer care – physical as well as psychological – through occupational therapy, counseling and other means. Many facilities also provide open living option where couples can live with other couples under the same roof. Nevertheless, nursing facilities can serve as viable private home alternatives for elders who otherwise have to choose substandard homes as resident alternatives. Nursing home for an entire life can be particularly satisfying if several senior citizens from a similar background and with common interests live together – in that way they have one another as a social core group.

Advanced Health Care Programs

The wide range of support provided by nursing homes also includes wound care, monitoring of medication and resident’s overall well-being, managing mild and serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart condition and respiratory problems. Elders with Alzheimer and dementia are given greater priority through specialized care from registered nurses and receive several hours of individual attention from licensed practitioners and aides.

A private skilled nursing home is usually far more accessible for its residents than other assisted living or home care facilities. Residents can walk or take private vehicle provided by the home to and from the campus by themselves or with the help of hired assistance. And they can often walk or take public transportation to their place of interest with those helpers. Moreover, the nursing home normally has easy access and frequently take the residents to cultural attractions, around the place they live in, such as concert, operas, museums and major events that make their organization available to senior citizens. This can be of utmost important for those residents who want to perceive a hobby during their golden years.

Safe and Secured Atmosphere

Part of any skilled nursing home’s environment is the carefully worked out policy nad the degree of safety that it offers to its residents. Almost all good facilities keep the intruders out, have strict supervision on campus and ensures that the residents are comfortable living in the rooms assigned to them. The facility also takes adequate steps to protect the members against fire, smoke and other hazards on a regular basis.

10 Great Gift Ideas for Residents of a Senior Living Community

Giving a gift to a friend or family member who has moved into a Senior Living Community can be a bit tricky.  The “usual” gifts – such as perfumes, flowers, or food – can actually impact the medical conditions of your loved one or their neighbors. And with space at a premium, any new knick knack needs to be carefully considered, must serve a purpose (sometimes more than one!) and take up as little room as possible.

We know everyone is different in their interests, activities, and comfort level with electronics*.  So we’ve provided a number of ideas (with links) to help you find just the right gift for your friend or family.

1. Books…a “new” classic:

Whether learning a new language or re-reading an old favorite like Murder on the Orient Express – books are a simple, but much appreciated gift.  And these days they come in every conceivable format; consider books on CD for those with failing eyesight or downloadable versions for your tech-friendly audience. (Earphones may be an appreciated add-on, making it a little bit easier to tune-out neighbors.)  Of course, there is always the true classic:  a “hard copy” book, also available in large print if appropriate.

2.  A Stationary “Kit”

This is a simple way to help loved ones stay in touch.  Whether you choose to go with an understated design or instead pick a beautiful and ornate stationary set – you are sure to please. Consider pre-printing some return address labels to make the mailing process easier, and don’t forget the stamps!

3.  An Address Book…with elbow grease.

A perfect sequel (or prequel) to your stationary kit: the address book. You can choose from address books with covers displaying a work of art, or have fun with a “Little Black” or “Little Pink” book! Of course, the best part is if you schedule an afternoon to help the gift-recipient “fill-in” your present.  (If your friend or family member is anything like most, they have an address book filled with years of crossed-out numbers and stuffed with little slips of paper!)  A few hours of your time will be much appreciated – and who knows – you might find a long-lost relative tucked among the pages!

4, 5 and 6:  Pictures, of course!

Pictures really are worth a thousand words – and at least three of our top-ten spots.
4. Consider an electronic picture frame to share lots of pictures in a very small space. If your loved one is technologically advanced they can download new pictures directly from your online photo manager.  For everyone else, consider a frame that allows you to switch out a standard photo card – and buy two.  That way you can start a “picture swap”, exchanging cards every few months.

5.  A front loading frame!  If you’ve never seen this relatively new type of frame it’s worth a look-see.  They have a front “door” that opens to allow art to be swapped in and out on a whim. Perfect for a monthly package of artwork from grandchildren – or a seasonal family picture!

6.  A fun and simple gift project perfect for kids and adults alike: print your photos at home on magnetic sheets; or print directly onto iron-on paper to make a T-shirt, canvas bag, or pillow into a personalized gift.

7.  Continuing on a theme…the scrapbook.

To be fair, this gift could probably fit squarely under the photo category.  But it depends on how creative you want to get (and how much time you have to spend).  Album types abound, and anything from a small brag book to a fully personalized scrapbook will be cherished by all. If your gift recipient has a shoebox full of photos – and you have a weekend morning to help organize – you are sure to hear a memorable story or two!  (Bring an album with labels, and consider capturing the conversation via audio recorder for future generations!)

8.  Ready, set, go!  An Activity Calendar

Activities of all variety are the spice of life in a Senior Living Community (yes, bingo – but boogie boarding too).  An activity calendar is one of those gifts that will vary dramatically in format depending on your audience – everything from a wall planner or hand held book to an electronic planner or app.  Do-it-yourselfers will want to set it up for their own needs…but for everyone else consider filling in the next month or two from the community’s online activity calendar.

9.  The MUCH Appreciated Giftcard

We all know how much fun it is to find that “perfect thing” and indulge ourselves. Gift cards allow the recipient to do just that. Plus, deliveries are a treat for folks of any age.  Just check first to make sure they have internet access for the shopping experience (many communities have computer centers and free internet). You have many options on how to deliver your gift card – email, snail mail, or print it off yourself and bring it by “personal courier” (always appreciated)!

10.  Drum roll please….The KINDLE
We saved the Kindle for last for a few reasons. Yes, it’s super cool, but it’s also a bit more expensive than the other things on our list. (But…it could be the gift that keeps on giving, since many of the suggestions above could be delivered via the Kindle platform for many holidays and celebrations to come!) Consider your audience when choosing your Kindle style – everything from their love (or hate) of electronics and access to WiFi – to how they will use it (for reading only or 24/7 web access).

A few things to think about when gifting electronics to a not so tech-savvy senior.

  • Ÿ Look for large, clearly labeled buttons
  • Ÿ The fewer options the better (limit the need for scrolling through sub-menu options)
  • Ÿ Clear directions are important (play, delete, etc.)

And consider developing your own “quick reference” set of instructions – using language your friend or loved one will be comfortable with. Include pictures of the steps wherever possible. Have someone who has never used the equipment review your instructions for simplicity.  And keep product information on hand so you can “pull-up” info online – and act as phone tech-support when needed! See a complete breakdown of tablets in our article on Best Reading Tablet for Seniors.

How to Deal with Anxiety as a Senior

Although some cases of anxiety are classified as abnormal regardless of age, much of the anxiety that seniors commonly feel is a natural response to life transitions and stems from legitimate concerns. In a personal interview, retired psychologist Dr. Ron Masa, now a senior himself, offered his views on common causes of anxiety in seniors and ways to deal with them based on his own experience and his decades of working with clients. Some anxieties, says Dr. Masa, can serve an adaptive function by promoting constructive action. This article examines three common sources of anxiety among seniors and offers suggestions for addressing these concerns.

Changes in Physical Functioning

Seniors often experience anxiety due to physical changes such as reduced strength and mobility. They may worry about losing their independence and becoming a burden to others. Fortunately, modern technology provides numerous mobility aids that allow seniors to empower themselves physically regardless of budget. These tools include implements for reaching and grabbing as well as graspable handles that attach to car doors, bathtubs and showers. Seniors can also find raised toilet seats and a variety of canes, crutches, walkers and mobility scooters.

In addition, physical exercise boosts physical and mental health at any age. Nowadays many physical-exercise options exist for all fitness and mobility levels. Several fitness companies produce chair-exercise and even bed-exercise videos that seniors can use at home. Many communities also provide gentle senior yoga classes. Some physical-therapy establishments even offer sessions on anti-gravity treadmills that allow people whose legs cannot usually support them to walk normally and regain muscular strength.

Questions Regarding Life Purpose

After they retire or their children leave home, seniors often find it stressful to readapt after many years of focusing primarily on caring and providing for others. Sometimes they experience loneliness and struggle to find a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. Later life, says Dr. Masa, is an ideal phase for contemplating life’s big spiritual and philosophical questions. This phase can also be a joyous period of liberation and fulfillment in which people finally have the time to explore their own interests, dreams or hobbies. The Internet abounds with social hubs and online forums where people can gather to discuss shared interests and experience a sense of community.

Seniors who wish to continue working can volunteer for causes they care about or start their own online businesses to earn extra money. Even for non-entrepreneurial seniors, many legitimate online work-from-home job opportunities exist. For example, author Connie Brentford, who has been making a living working online from home for a decade, has written a series of books that provide details on a large, diverse list of work-from-home possibilities.

Facing Death

Death constitutes one of humankind’s biggest fears. While younger people may find it easier to ignore death, seniors must eventually face their own mortality and that of peers and loved ones. Seniors often experience anxiety as they first witness their parents and those they look up to passing on, followed eventually by friends and family in their own age group. Fear of death stems largely from fear of the unknown, says Dr. Masa. Rather than treating death as a taboo subject, seniors can reduce their anxiety by exploring the question of what happens after death.

Regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs, numerous traditional and contemporary resources, from the Bible and other ancient spiritual texts to new-age media, address the subject of death. Dr. Masa recommends “Journey of Souls” by Dr. Michael Newton and the “Conscious Aging” audio program by Ram Dass, a former Harvard professor turned spiritual teacher. Seniors who borrowed this recording from his office over the years found it very helpful and comforting, says Dr. Masa.

Conclusion

In conclusion, much of the anxiety seniors experience is natural when facing many later-life transitions. Rather than letting anxiety negatively impact their lives, seniors can benefit from channeling these feelings into constructive exploration. Seniors can also empower themselves by taking advantage of modern technology to address their changing physical needs. In addition, seniors can embrace the opportunity to focus on their own interests and make peace with life’s biggest questions.

Aluminum Rollator with 8” Casters Review

Going to church, out to restaurants or just for rides in the country often times becomes difficult with limited mobility. Walkers and scooters can be difficult to transport, leaving seniors with balance impairments sacrificing their safety to enjoy afternoon out on the town.

Weighing around 19 pounds, the Aluminum Rollator with 8” Casters provides safety, stability and independence while making it easy for the user to transport it without much assistance. (*Note: Amazon lists this product as only weighing 5.4 pounds; however the manufacturer’s specifications rate it at 15 pounds.)

With a small seat, this walker gives users the convenience to rest comfortably when needed. A small pouch located below the seat is perfect for small belongings such as keys, cell phones or other personal necessities.

The 8” casters allow this walker to navigate indoors and out and easily navigate maneuvers through grass and gravel. It’s an ideal walker for those with shag carpet which sometimes proves to be difficult with standard walkers or those with smaller wheels.

Since the Aluminum Rollator with 8” Casters has adjustable handlebars, it allows users to walk up-right and not hunched over, creating a more suitable position for seniors, especially those with back problems. Several users who were under 5’5” had difficulty with the height, claiming the walker could not be adjusted to a small enough height for them. One even said his wife’s feet dangled unsafely while using the seat.

Several users also had trouble with the brakes working correctly, but the Rollator does come with a limited lifetime warranty on the brake cables.  The brakes, however, are reported to be easy to use and generally engage well.

Interested in Ordering the Aluminum Rollator?

The Aluminum Rollator with 8” Casters is available through a variety of retailers but can be purchased through Amazon.com for under $85.

Tips to Remember for Improving Communication with Elderly or Aging Parents

Let’s face it.  We’ve all had difficult patches with our parents now and again.  Most likely, the worst of it was during those “rebellious teen” years when we all struggled to make our own way and assert our own independence.And in a strange (and perhaps ironic) twist of fate and aging – in many ways our elderly parents are now dealing with those same issues.   They find themselves trying to make their own way and maintain their individual sense-of-self, while slowly losing the independence they deserve and have truly earned.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few simple tips that would make this process easier for everyone involved – for your parents, or for your siblings…for you?   But – as with all things family – it’s generally more complicated than simple. And this is one of those (many) times when it really is easier said than done. However…even if we can’t make things easy, we can share some “tips to remember” that may help you along the way.

1.  Remember…listening is the heart of good communication.  Try listening to everything – both what your parent is saying – and also to what they aren’t saying.  For example, if your parent is resistant to taking a new medication what is you’re their stated concern – and is there an underlying and unstated issue at play?  Yes, it could be the side effects, or simple forgetfulness…but they could also be just a little bit “ticked” at the aging process and the effect it’s having on their body.

2.  Remember…it’s much easier to have tough conversations when you are talking.  OK, we did oversimplify that one a bit – but sometimes the truest things are simply stated.  Maintaining a regular (yes, schedule it if that helps) channel of communication now will make the more difficult conversations you have later (e.g., about relinquishing car keys, moving or aging in place, and end-of-life wishes) just a little bit easier. And remember to consider your parent’s preferred channel of communication…do they love a good phone gab, prefer the written word and “snail mail” or are they masters of the electronic domain looking for you to e-mail, text or even Skype with them?

3.  Remember…you are a team and “in this” together.  While the demands of aging may require you to slowly reverse roles – your parent is still your parent.  Whenever possible, try to respect their wishes and avoid phrases that start with “You have to…” Ask questions, always offer multiple ideas (rather than a single “solution”), make it a two-way conversation and look for innovative options.  For example – that pesky medication that your parent really should be taking? If forgetfulness is the issue, engage your parent in the problem-solving to identify the right reminder systems (remembering that what works for them is probably not the same thing that would work for you).

4.  Remember…to get help when you need it.  Sometimes it’s just not possible for a parent and (even a grown) child to communicate on an issue.  Consider outside “authorities” and the role that they can play in helping your parents through a difficult choice or discussion – whether a doctor, social worker, religious leader, or even a family counselor.  About that medication your parent is avoiding at all costs?  A quick call to the physician’s office to discuss alternatives (once a day, once a week, liquid with flavoring, chewable…) or to simply reinforce the importance of taking the drug by an authority figure (e.g., not their child) could provide a quick solution for everyone.

5.  Remember…to take care of yourself.  Quality-of-life is important for you too.  And parents who love you will sense your stress.  Sooo…it really is true – taking care of yourself is a critical part of caring for others. You know what they say: laughter is great medicine.  Don’t forget to incorporate humor into your own life, and in conversations with your parents.

Whenever possible, look for opportunities to share the communication and caregiving workload with friends and family. (And maybe even “try out” or share some of these Tips to Remember with the other caregivers you are working with!)

 

Image by Starfish75 via Stock.xchng

Gardening an Activity for Seniors

Gardening can be a rewarding and fun activity for senior citizens. Since, many seniors are retirees, gardening gives them an activity to occupy their free time. The elderly population is most at risk for developing depression due to the following reasons: body changes, not having the same level of energy in youth, living alone, death of a spouse, and an overall feeling of helplessness among many other reasons.

Social Benefits of Gardening

The children of many senior citizens have already moved on and created families of their own and may not communicate with their parent(s) often. To ease depression getting a household pet can help for it gives one a sense of responsibility for another life which research shows, helps with depression. The problem is that some seniors may be allergic to certain household pets; therefore, gardening provides a more convenient alternative. Because many seniors live on fixed income, they can save money on the cost of food by growing their own produce.

One of the main causes of depression is a lack of social reinforcement. One gets social reinforcement through positive social interactions with others, having people to converse with regularly, and having a support system. Gardening can be a very social activity. Some communities have gardening competitions where individuals can be rewarded for having the best looking garden; friendly competition can also bring about social reinforcement. When people see how beautiful a senior’s garden look they will complement that person. Also seniors can have gardening classes where they teach children and adults alike how to garden. Overall, gardening gives seniors the opportunity to network and socialize with other seniors who are gardening.

Economic Rewards of Gardening

There are economic rewards for seniors who does gardening work. First, as mentioned earlier seniors can save money on the cost of food by growing their own produce. Many senior citizens struggle to meet ends meet for they live on fixed income. AARP conducted a survey which showed that many senior citizens struggle to pay for food and utility bills. Seniors who garden can make money by teaching others how to garden; however, seniors should make sure they comply with tax laws and host small classes. By gardening seniors can make extra money on the side that can be used for extra expenses.

Misconceptions about gardening

Unfortunately, many seniors and young adults feel that gardening can be very physically demanding and dangerous for seniors but that is not true at all. Gardening does require a bit of physical activity and it requires a lot of bending and getting on the ground. However, with careful planning and a little help a senior can enjoy gardening with very little injury.

Here are some ways senior citizens can do gardening safely:
1. Read books about gardening safety tips before gardening.
2. Purchase a grapler gun. A grapler gun is an assistance device used to reach things and pick things up. This device is helpful for seniors with back problems or arthritis.
3. Get help! Seniors need to let others help them with their garden.

One common misconception about gardening is that it is expensive. Gardening is expensive but there are cheap alternatives. One thing seniors can do is save the seeds from any fruits or vegetables they eat. Seniors should save money to buy gardening supplies and ask family and friends fro money to get the garden up and running.

In the end

Gardening can be a wonderful opportunity for seniors and people of all ages. With senior citizens being vulnerable to depression due to loneliness and lack of funds from being on fixed income, gardening can be a great activity to ease those pressures. Gardening can provide the social activity and reinforcement that seniors and all people need. Gardening is a somewhat physical activity so elderly people should be careful, wear protective gloves, and get help as necessary. Gardening can be an expensive venture so seniors should take some cost cutting precautions and ask family and friends for assistance in buying gardening supplies. If you have a family member or friend who is a senior citizen and he or she wants to take up gardening, support them.

Spotlight on Adagio Adult Family Home

The Adagio Adult Family Home, a unique assisted living home geared toward the needs of residents living with dementia stemming from stroke or other vascular disorders. Run by resident providers Maxine and Harvey Brink, residents are cared for as if they are a member of the family. You will find that this facility provides an extraordinary level of care for your loved ones at a reasonable cost in a family setting. Once they join the Adagio family, you are all now considered part of the family and always welcome with their open door policy.

Located just north of the Puget Sound in Everett, Washington, Adagio is situated on a beautifully landscaped lot on a residential cul-de-sac that is home to families and retires alike. With a beautiful view of Gardner Bay and the nearby mountains, residents are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors through supervised strolls along the cul-de-sac and walks through the professionally landscaped gardens on the grounds.

Even though this facility is licensed for up to six residents, the Brinks keep the limit to three or four residents at a time to be able to provide individualized attention to all. Support is available 24-hours a day from certified and registered nursing assistant who are overseen by a registered nurse with over 30 years of experience with geriatric care.

When asked what sets this facility apart from others Maxine will quickly respond, “We strive to create joy and create pleasure based on small moments, which help to provide a sense of contentment.” This philosophy is based on the author Jolene Brackey’s teachings of how even though dementia and Alzheimer’s patients suffer from short-term memory loss and not remember what they did, the sense of how it made them feel remains.

Perhaps one clue to the uniqueness of Adagio is when you first walk the door and are met by the smell of food, whether it is something baking in the oven or simmering on the stove. This lends to the feeling of being home, according to Maxine. As food is one of the joys in life that becomes ever so more important as we age, menus are tailored to the residents’ tastes and eating abilities. There is no set menu that all must eat and offerings will change often to reflect this. All meals are served family style with Maxine, Harvey, and whoever else might be visiting at that particular time eating with the residents in a family setting. Residents’ families are always welcome to partake in mealtime.

Activities at Adagio are constantly changing to the residents’ interests and abilities. If one resident prefers to not take part in a specific activity, they are encouraged to do something else that they enjoy. S “One week the book case may be loaded with puzzles, the next games, or an entire different offering of books,” Maxine says. “Recently residents enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon sitting on the deck watching boats sail by on Gardener Bay, which is an activity they all look forward to.”

Residents are encouraged to take part in “activities of daily living” as their abilities allow. This allows them the satisfaction of feeling they are doing their part in the running of the home. Family members can feel at ease with their loved ones living at Adagio as it is in every sense a home. They often remark how much this facility feels like a home and how they feel welcome when visiting instead being considered an intrusion.

If you are considering placing your loved one a facility as they transform toward an “adagio” or slower pace in their lives due to dementia, the Adagio Adult Family Home should be on your list of considerations in the northwest Washington area. You can rest assured that they will be well cared for in a loving, nurturing, and safe environment that embraces the individuality of all.

Common Myths and Assumptions About Assisted Living

Assisted living is often the most attractive option for the elderly. Yet many elderly people, or the younger relatives on whom they depend, are afraid to try it because of the many myths that surround it, which often focus on negative aspects of this form of elderly care. In this article we will dispel many of those myths and talk about what assisted living is really like.

What exactly is assisted living?

One of the common myths relates to the very term “assisted living” itself. Many people think that it is just a newly coined term which refers to something that has already existed for a long time—namely, living in a nursing home. The fact is that assisted living is as modern as the term; it arose only in the 1990s and is a way of helping the elderly live as independently as possible during the final years of their lives. Assisted living facilities are thus replete with programs to enable their residents to enjoy the activities of daily life—playing games, watching TV, listening to music, and outdoor activities such as swimming or going on walks or hikes. Thus, they typically do not have the special equipment for medical monitoring that one would expect to find in a nursing home, although they do have trained personnel who work around the clock to provide required services.

The residence of an assisted living facility usually have their own private apartments, complete with their own bedrooms and bathrooms; or they may be built in the form of semi- private dormitories, with a common room for social activities, as well as a dining room and kitchen.

Who is admitted to an ALF?

Many people also have the misunderstanding that if an elder person needs to be in a wheelchair, or is suffering from urinary incontinence, then he or she will not be admitted into an assisted living facility. The fact is, wheelchairs are allowed on such facilities; however, if a person needs the help of more than one other person in getting in and out of the chair, then an assisted living facility is definitely not the appropriate solution. As for the problem of urinary incontinence, most ALFs will accept such patients as long as the problem can be easily managed, though if it cannot be, the resident will need to be put into a nursing home because it might pose a health risk.

Does Medicare pay?

A third myth is that the services provided at an ALF will be paid for by Medicare. But only highly skilled care services are financed through that system; the less skilled ones have to be paid for either by private individuals or be covered by a long term health insurance policy. Recipients of Medicaid may sometimes be able to live in apartments licensed by ALFs, which may also have programs for those below a certain median income level.

Why are people so reluctant?

Elderly people often think that they cannot move into an ALF because they need to have their families around in case they need help. But many assisted living communities have emergency features that their residence can use when they need them. Others are afraid of the prospect of having to give up the independence that they have grown accustomed to over many decades of living in the houses that they own and have worked so hard to attain—and similarly, being able to come and go any time they want to. In fact, not only do the residents of an ALF enjoy the same privacy and independence as they did in years gone by, but they can also choose among the types of apartments they get to live in—sizes, floor plans, even whether they have separate entrances.

Yet another reason why so many senior citizens are reluctant to move into an ALF is that they do not know the people there, and that they will not be able to do the things they love to do. An ALF can be a great place to make new friends, and residents can choose among the activities they participate in; they can even discover new hobbies!

Spotlight Facility: Allegro

There’s so much to consider when thinking about a move to a senior living community, and most folks have a checklist of their most important considerations.

The Allegro community in St. Petersburg Florida certainly exceeds expectations for even the toughest of lists:  from trust in the respectful, considerate staff, to the security of their facilities and costs comparable to your current daily living.   Allegro offers both assisted living and skilled nursing care with the highest qualified staff, and residential options that provide all the privacy of your home – without any of the maintenance.

The chores of daily life are simplified with housekeeping, linen and room service.  (Why not let someone else take out the garbage or mow the grass?) And whether you choose to take meals in your room or “dine-out” in the restaurant-like setting, your three daily chef-prepared meals promise to be a culinary delight.

Any of those are wonderful (and practical) reasons to consider Allegro. But what makes Allegro really different? Tom Howard, Community Director at the St. Petersburg location, says it’s really about  “our size and our people.”

Tom explains that the Allegro offers a boutique hotel feel – with everything from being right on the water and the manicured grounds to the beautifully appointed interiors.  Many visitors remark when they step into the building that they feel as if they are in the lobby of a resort hotel.

And as for people, Allegro stands apart from other facilities.  “Our team members bring passion and pride to what they do every day.   We have a staff that truly cares and are part of a family – not just a building,” Tom says.

So now that we’ve “checked off” the important practical concerns of such an important decision – let’s consider some of the less practical (but more fun) aspects of living at Allegro…starting with that boutique hotel feel.

Allegro at St. Petersburg really does provide all the amenities of a five star vacation – every day.  After waking up to the beautiful waters of Boca Ciega Bay, you can take a leisurely dip in the perfectly heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, or just relax with friends in the cabana! If gorgeous greenery is more your flavor, treat yourself to a stroll through the landscaped garden paths, hit the putting green, or take in a few holes at any of the many nearby golf courses.

Should you ever tire of the vacation lifestyle – options for intellectual stimulation are limited only by your imagination.  Consider a continuing education class at nearby Eckerd College, visit the onsite library to grab a good book (or two) or, do your reading online in the computer center with complimentary internet access.

But, if you are more in the mood for a good debate (or just some friendly conversation),   you can meet-up fireside with like-minded intellectuals in the great room or attend one of the many special events hosted by the full-time onsite activities director.   When asked about the great diversity of options available to the Allegro Community, Tom says:  “Our activities really focus on mind, body, and spirit.  And we try to offer freedom of choice and time in everything we do.”

Allegro at St. Petersburg provides a truly unique solution:  delivering the practical necessities of daily living with a caring, dedicated staff – in an environment that could compete with the best of vacation properties.