Clarity Amplified Photo Phone Review

The telephone is often a lifeline to the outside for an elderly person living alone at home. But often its small buttons become hard to push; remembering important numbers becomes a chore. The Clarity Amplified Photo Phone is designed to help aging users continue to rely on their telephone for connection and emergencies by making it as simple to use as possible.clarityphotophone

There are many features of this phone that make it attractive to both visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals, including:

  • Speed dial buttons with place for photograph. Place the photo of the person you’re calling on one of the nine pre-set buttons for quick recognition. Generic, ready-to-use icons come with the phone until you’re ready to use personalized images.
  • Volume control and amplification buttons to increase the sound to up to 10 times louder than normal for hearing impaired individuals.
  • Illuminated emergency button for one-touch action.
  • Adjustable ringer tone and volume controls.
  • Bright light when the phone rings to catch attention of hearing impaired users.
  • Good contrast of black and white buttons on the set.

Many reviewers bought the phone for their aging parents, as a handy tool to safely stay at home longer. Most commented on the ease of setup and the volume–the fact that the sound quality is good and easy to adjust. The photo buttons are convenient, even using the generic icons. Some commented that the buttons don’t allow for large enough photos that their loved ones could recognize. And while it’s designed for elderly users, it’s certainly usable for other family members in the residence as well.

At $44.46 on Amazon, the Clarity Amplified Photo Phone can be that lifeline to the outside world for your loved one.



The Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy for Seniors

For both the elderly and their caregivers, the ailments and struggles that come with aging shadow a more carefree, happy past. We’re busy focusing on medication management, installing new handles in the shower or researching assisted living facilities. As dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive issues strengthen their grip on a loved one, many feel as if they’re losing that person they once knew. A similar identity crises may be going on inside for them, as well.


Old photographs serve as a good tool to trigger memories from long ago.
Photo credit: stock.xchng, juliaf

For many residents of assisted living or seniors at home with caregivers, reminiscence therapy has proven to be a beneficial activity on many levels. Reminiscence therapy, recalling events from the past using the senses–objects to touch and hold, smell, sound, taste–can range from the simple act of conversation in your loved one’s home, to a certified therapist using props and clinical methods to help an Alzheimer’s patient retrieve long-ago memories.

The benefits of reminiscence therapy in assisted living facilities or at home with a caregiver can be long-reaching. Elders often become isolated from their identities as their memories begin to falter, and as the day-to-day issues of living overwhelm the past. Establishing a way to connect with long-ago memories can help re-tie that rope to familiarity. Other benefits include:

  • Increased ability to communicate. Often, when you watch someone re-tell a story, you watch them come alive with memory and emotion. Research has shown new pathways in the brain form as a patient remembers the past.
  • Provide relief from boredom, a distraction from day-to-day problems.
  • Alleviate symptoms of depression and helps cope with aging.
  • Reestablish life meaning for a person through connection to the past and reassert that person’s feeling of importance.
  • Increased self worth and sense of belonging in the world.
  • Preserve stories and memories for future generations.

Helping Your Elder Recall Memories from the Past

Many who suffer from Alzheimer’s or have other memory loss issues (read about “what causes memory loss”) can’t remember simple things from the recent past, like what they had for breakfast, who came to visit the other day or the name of their granddaughter’s husband. But memories from early childhood and young adulthood may come readily with a little prompting. Methods to get your loved one talking include storytelling–you start a known family story and prompt him or her to finish the story–or simply start by asking questions. You can take 15 minutes out of your day, or more formally, record the memories or conversations on a digital camera or voice recorder. Here are some good conversation starters:

  • The cost of items in the 1950s — for example, eggs were $0.79 a dozen, a Chevrolet Corvette was $3,000 and Saturday matinee movie tickets ran between ten or 20 cents. (source Moby Tickets)
  • What was your favorite TV show or movie from the past?
  • Where were you when…? When Kennedy was assassinated, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, when the Russians launched Sputnik.
  • What was your first job?
  • Talk about your favorite trip or travels.
  • Find a knick-knack, old photograph or other item in the attic or off the shelf and ask about its history.

Other tools include scrapbooking software that allow you to scan and arrange photos into memory books to prompt discussion, books about memorable events in history and the Senior Moments Game, a board game that helps–in a fun way–to prompt memories.

Caregiver Benefits of Reminiscence Therapy

You may have heard the story over and over, and your first thought is to tune it out. However, tuning in to the story, making eye contact, and asking questions brings about true, engaged communication with your loved one when other communication is difficult. Using the prompts, you may discover a new story, and you may see your mom or dad, aunt or friend in a new light. And regardless of the repetition, we connect with a greater humanity when we share stories.

Many assisted living facilities offer some type of formal memory therapy programs. If you’re seeking assisted living or at-home care for your loved one, ask about established reminiscence therapy programs available to you.

Top Assisted Living Facilities in Illinois

best senior assisted living facilities in IllinoisTaking into consideration all of the factors that will determine what assisted living setting you choose is a large undertaking. Perhaps you’re just getting started, or your family finds itself in a more immediate need. Consider location, cost, services available, healthcare reputation, amenities, atmosphere–it all matters. Illinois offers a wide range of progressive, innovative, quality assisted living options. From facilities that meet any financial ability to the most high-end living, options for assisted living in Illinois abound.

Whether independently owned and operated or part of a larger group of assisted living communities, the communities in this Top 20 list provide trustworthy, competent, often award-winning care while fostering the individuality and independence of each resident. Many specialize in memory care, creating specialized programming to ensure that residents feel safe and in control of their every day. From delicious meals to medication reminders to an array of social and intellectual opportunities, the services and amenities are designed to promote active, enjoyable retirement living.

In no particular order, here are the Top 20 Assisted Living facilities in Illinois.

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Brookstone Estates – Fairfield
315 North Market Street
Fairfield, IL 62837
(612) 842-5875

Residents at Brookstone Estates – Fairfield are able to live life their way, with a vast array of services made available. From a variety of room choices to full housekeeping and three meals a day, a private spa and on-site beauty salon to on-call physicians and a comprehensive activities schedule, Brookstone Estates – Fairfield will make you feel at home every day. Services are in place for assisted living, independent living and memory care. Operated by Meridian Senior Living, Brookstone Estates and their other communities across Illinois and the U.S. put their residents’ happiness first.

Learn more at Brookstone Estates – Fairfield.

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Peace Village
10300 Village Circle Drive
Palos Park, IL 60464
(708) 361-3683

At Peace Village, their vision is to realize yours, and they do so by fostering a strong sense of community while supporting your individuality. Located in the beautiful Chicago suburb of Palos Park, Peace Village offers both assisted living and independent living options with wellness, memory care, and on-site healthcare services to keep residents safe, healthy and well. In a prime location, residents enjoy the amenities, history, beauty and calm of the neighborhood only 25 miles from downtown Chicago.

Learn more at Peace Village.

Autumn Green at Wright Campus
4239 North Oak Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 683-2239

At Autumn Green at Wright Campus, operated by Senior Lifestyle communities, they believe the little things make a difference. Signature Services at Senior Lifestyle bring energy back to each of their residents’ life experiences. Daily wellness programs and specialty programs like their Brain Health University™ focus on the quality of their resident’s mental and emotional life. Services and amenities to help residents enjoy daily living make this a perfect place for peace of mind and enjoyment in the city of Chicago.

Learn more at Autumn Green at Wright Campus.

Heritage Woods of Sterling
2205 Oak Grove Avenue
Sterling, IL 61081
(815) 625-7045

Managed by senior living provider BMA Management, Ltd., Heritage Woods of Sterling is an affordable assisted living community located in the Sterling/Rock Falls area of North Central Illinois. Serving adults 65 and older of all incomes needing some help to maintain their independence, Heritage Woods of Sterling assisted living provides a wonderful atmosphere for those who cannot afford private pay assisted living, with a host of amenities and an environment of comfort.

Learn more at Heritage Woods of Sterling.

Lexington Square Senior Living
555 Foxworth Boulevard
Lombard, IL 60148
(630) 620-0099

The folks at Lexington Square Senior Living are so certain that you’ll like their facility that they offer trial stays to prospective visitors. From there, residents may enjoy independent living, assisted living, personal care services, skilled nursing or respite stays. One monthly fee covers a host of amenities and services including a heated swimming pool, whirlpool, 24-hour security and staffing, private storage areas, social and educational opportunities and much more.

Learn more at Lexington Square Senior Living.

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Cordia Senior Residence
865 N. Cass Avenue
Westmont, IL 60559
(630) 887-7000

Cordia means “heart” in Latin, and the idea embraces the Cordia Senior Living values of treating their residents with love and respect. Cordia Senior Residence, located in the Chicago suburb of Westmont, offers quality independent and assisted living services to seniors in an attractive, safe and home-like rental community. Monthly fees include a beautifully appointed apartment and a full complement of programs, services and amenities. A variety of apartment types and service packages are available to meet residents’ differing requirements. Take a virtual tour on their website!

Learn more at Cordia Senior Residence.

Crimson Point Senior Living
7130 Crimson Ridge Drive
Rockford, IL 61107
(85) 398-7792

Offering assisted living and rehabilitation, Crimson Pointe Senior Living is nearby shopping and restaurants in Rockford. From spacious common areas with fireplaces and a large-screen TV to a beautiful courtyard, patio and garden, residents thoroughly enjoy both the indoors and outdoors in this community. Operated by Five Star Senior Living, they go above and beyond any government requirements or traditional ideas about retirement living. They offer more special services, flexibility, choices, and a variety of funding options, including a rent-based pricing structure with no up-front buy-in fees required.

Learn more at Crimson Pointe Senior Living.

Alden Estates of Evanston
2520 Gross Point Road
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 328-6000

For two straight years, Alden Estates of Evanston has been named in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing Homes. Their programs and services rival that of any hospital, with orthopedic, cardiac and neurological rehabilitation services; speech, occupational, physical and infusion therapy; pain management, post-operative care, and restorative nursing and more. Top notch care combined with amenities such as a computer room, recreational activities, an ice cream parlor and delicious restaurant-style dining makes Alden Estates of Evanston a not-to-miss as you’re researching assisted living options.

Learn more at Alden Estates of Evanston.

Delnor Glen Assisted Living
975 North Fifth Avenue
St. Charles, IL 60174
(630) 443-8220

The sprawling, beautiful grounds of Delnor Glen first belonged to a 25-bed hospital in St. Charles back in 1940. Over the years, the facility has only become more beautiful under the skilled hands of nationally-known interior decorators. From townhomes for independent living to memory support programs and assisted living options, Delnor Glen offers a warm and home-like setting. Tour their website’s photo gallery to see happy faces of the residents, attractive homes and the aquatic and fitness center. Within walking distance to parks, a golf course and the St. Charles public library, Delnor Glen is a fulfilling retirement setting.

Learn more at Delnor Glen Assisted Living.

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Grand Prairie
1307 Meadowlark Lane
Macomb, IL 61455
(309) 833-5000

The only affordable assisted living community in McDonough County, Grand Prairie is managed by BMA Management, Ltd., the largest provider of affordable assisted living in the state. The community, for those 65 and older of all incomes, serves as a wonderful alternative to a nursing home or to those struggling alone at home who need some help to maintain their independence. Residents enjoy the personal assistance, support services and the many social and recreational opportunities in a community setting. Shoot a game of pool or browse the selection of books in their library at this facility where people are happy to call home.

Learn more at Grand Prairie.

Silverado Senior Living-Lake Zurich
555 America Court
Lake Zurich, IL 60047
(855) 258-1026

Silverado’s assisted living communities specialize in dementia care, offering personalized support for your loved one experiencing memory problems or other types of dementia. Lake Zurich now offers 128 memory-care licensed beds within an attractive four-cottage property design. The property is secure and safe for your loved one to wander the grounds on his or her own and there are many social and stimulating activities to keep the daily routine interesting. They welcome residential pets and intergenerational activities, as team members are encouraged to bring their children to work. There’s truly a family focus.

Learn more at Silverado Senior Living-Lake Zurich.

The Claire at Water Tower
55 E. Pearson Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(866) 951-5690

It’s the first and only upscale, high-rise retirement community in Chicago. The Claire at Water Tower promises to offer world-class senior living–spectacular views, a vibrant downtown culture, steps away from the Magnificent Mile, maximum independence and privacy–with all of the amenities and services you need in an assisted living setting. Earning a five-star rating, the Claire is built on the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University, offering lifelong learning opportunities. It is one of the most innovative retirement communities in the country.

Learn more at The Claire at Water Tower.

North Grove Manor
5520 Lincoln Avenue
Morton Grove, IL 60053
(847) 929-4537

Offering assisted living, Alzheimer’s, memory care and respite care in a refined and comfortable setting. Their innovative clinical services focus on the total wellness of the residents, merging physical, mental, spiritual and financial needs. From housekeeping to meals, transportation and healthcare, as well as a full list of activities to stimulate and engage their residents, the team at North Grove Manor set a new standard for senior care. Operated by CRL Senior Living, founded in 2000, their vision is to provide a therapeutic environment for stimulation, socialization and spirituality.

Learn more at North Grove Manor.

Friedman Place for the Blind and Visually Impaired
5527 North Maplewood
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 989-9800

An assisted living facility designed specifically for older adults who are visually impaired, Friedman Place is a vibrant community in the heart of Chicago. Allowing guide dogs and providing medical and social services, residents at Friedman Place enjoy either a private studio or one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom. In a building designed with the needs of the blind and visually impaired and a full range of services and activities, residents’ lives are healthy, dignified and stimulating.

Learn more at Friedman Place.

Cedarhurst of Collinsville
1207 Vandalia Ave
Collinsville, IL 62234

With a mission to serve their community and residents with unconditional support, every hour of every day, the staff at Cedarhurst of Collinsville is dedicated, respectful and friendly. Their 68 assisted living units are cheery and well accommodated with services that help their residents deal with day-to-day living. Operated by Provision Living Senior Living Communities, their goal is to get to know every resident beyond what’s in the folder. From occupation to interests and hobbies to life experiences, the details are what make each of Cedarhurst’s residents special.

Learn more at Cedarhurst of Collinsville.

Sunrise of Naperville North
535 West Ogden Avenue
Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 305-9400

The most unique feature of Sunrise of Naperville North is the Nature Center, with its running waterfall and peaceful nature sights and sounds. Located on the edge of a residential area, the facility is still easily accessed from the East-West Tollway, near an Arboretum and hospital. Operated by Sunrise Senior Living, their amenities and services are created to keep residents active, as independent as possible, healthy, socialized and safe. From weekly personal laundry services to daily physical fitness, creative, social, learning and spiritual activities, Sunrise of Naperville North offers assisted living, Alzheimer’s and memory care and short-term stays.

Learn more at Sunrise of Naperville North.

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Waterford Estates
17400 S. Kedzie Road
Hazel Crest, IL 60429
(708) 335-1600

The caring staff at Waterford Estates understands that moving to assisted living is a transition, and that it’s not always the easy choice. In addition to answering all of your questions, they offer a signature Home-to-Home™ concierge move-in service, helping residents feel comfortable and happy after the move. Services range from independent to assisted living, with amenities that support both the residents and their families. They even offer guest units for family visits!

Learn more at Waterford Estates.

Lincolnwood Place
7000 North McCormick Boulevard
Lincolnwood, IL 60712
(888) 325-0862

The programs and opportunities to engage in new and stimulating experiences at Lincolnwood Place have earned the independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facility awards for innovation and success. From their Brain Health University, which received an Industry Innovator Award to their Wellness Everyday™ program that supports physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and vocational wellness through daily engaging opportunities.

Learn more at Lincolnwood Place.

Garden Place of Red Bud
351 Lockwood Drive
Red Bud, IL 62278
(618) 282-7775

Offering 35 senior-friendly state-of-the-art apartments–either studio or one-bedroom–Garden Place of Red Bud is a cozy community for those looking for independent or assisted living accommodations. Small pets are welcome; residents have a personal mailbox, laundry facilities, transportation, social common areas for watching TV, doing crafts or exercising and all of the services one might need with everyday tasks that are becoming more challenging. Seniors are sure to enjoy retirement years in this vibrant community operated by Garden Place Senior Living.

Learn more at Garden Place of Red Bud.

Liberty Court
124 Liberty Court
Dixon, IL 61021

In beautiful historic Dixon, Il., Liberty Court is nestled near the Rock River, offering beautiful views, hometown charm and a peaceful setting. Programs and services cater to independent living, assisted living, memory care and individuals looking for short-term care. The professionals at Liberty Court, operated by LifeHOUSE take pride in providing life enriching social experiences, balanced nutritious meals, compassionate care and personalized services. Residents experience a sense of stability, fulfillment and well-being in their lives every day.

Learn more at Liberty Court.

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Assisted Living Today’s Weekly Roundup

ornaments on tree

Photo credit: stock.xchng

For many, the holidays bring back memories of waiting for Santa as a child; sitting by the window or fireplace, wondering what treasures he might bring. Do you cherish memories of family gatherings? Did you re-hash celebrations of years past? Eat turkey or cookies or both to excess with friends or family around the table? Visit your synagogue, church or other place of worship? However you spent your holiday, we wish you fond memories and happy tomorrows.

Here at Assisted Living Today, we’ve watched the news headlines, tips and trends jingling around the web, and share them here with you. If you found any relevant or interesting news in the past week, feel free to share!

Weird But True

Visit your parents, or else they’ll sue! Seriously? In China, a new law allows elderly parents to sue their children if they fail to visit. The law doesn’t specify how often “often” is, but gives parents the right to claim neglect. From the Beijing AP, discussed on AARP, read about how the Chinese elderly are getting noticed.

Senior Lifestyles

Financial problems–especially if ignored–can spiral out of control if an elderly person chooses to hide the problems from a caregiver. For caregivers, it’s wise to recognize hints that may point to financial issues in the near future for their loved ones. Read more at

Senior Health

A recent study conducted at the University of Leicester in England found that it’s not necessarily cognitive issues that keep elderly from reading, it could be the type format. The study found that young adults found lines of text easier to read when fine visual detail was present, but seniors found it easier to read more blurred text. The study could help in extending the reading skills of seniors. Read more on

Senior Living

All his life, Norman Shepherd wanted to ride alongside an engineer and fireman in a coal-fired steam engine. His wish came true through Brookdale Senior Living‘s Wish of a Lifetime program, which has granted over 300 wishes for residents of Brookdale Senior Living. The assisted living company partners with Wish of a Lifetime to help remind their residents that life is a journey with fulfillment at every stage. Read more about Norman and other wishes granted.

Trends in Technology

Senior Housing News recaps the most accessed technology of 2012, stating that federally-backed technology has seen a big boost in usage over the past year. Service providers of electronic health and medical records have seen an upswing as hospitals and healthcare providers look to improve patient relationships. Read more about the top technology trends of 2012.



Dynamic Living Oversized 16-inch X 7.5-inch Digital LED Calendar Wall Clock Review

oversizedwallclockFor any person with Alzeheimer’s, dementia, vision loss or all of the above, a large-sized wall clock can be a beacon. Users are touting the benefits of the Dynamic Living Oversized 16 X 7.5-inch Digital LED Calendar Wall Clock for it’s large, bright red and readable digital numbers and day/date on the screen. The bright screen is easy to read, even from across the room.

Perfect for an office, living room or kitchen, the clock has a black, contemporary frame that fits any style and it can be hung on a wall or stand upright on a desk or table. With a recessed outlet and AC adaptor on the back of the unit, the clock can be plugged into any outlet and it will still hang straight on the wall.


Compared to an everyday household product

The clock stands 7.5 inches high and is nearly 16 inches wide. The digital clock numbers measure just over two inches, while the calendar day and date below measure 1.5 inches. Features include an AM/PM indicator light and memory recall of the settings in the event of a power outage.

Many reviewers say they bought the clock for elderly loved ones, either with dementia or Alzheimer’s, to help ease the daily confusion about the time or day. Other’s say that the clock’s size helps their family members with low vision or macular degeneration to see the time easier. Purely functional, the clock its not a decorative piece, and some warn that the letters and numbers are very bright, and that this clock may not be suitable for a bedroom.

Help your elderly parent or friend feel part of their world with the Dynamic Living oversized digital LED calendar wall clock. Priced at $64 on Amazon, it’s been given four and a half out of five stars from pleased users.





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Assisted Living Today Weekly Roundup

Photo credit: Cass Hole

It’s been a long and difficult week to be reading news headlines, which makes it impossible to go on without acknowledging our friends in Newtown, CT. All the love, strength and peace in our hearts goes to you. May you find it in the days to come. Wishing all of our readers a humble and joyful holiday season. Reach out and hug the ones you love.

Here at Assisted Living Today, we’ve been quietly browsing the blog posts, headlines and noteworthy trends happening in the world of senior living. We hope you are enlightened, or at least entertained, and please let us know of any relevant news you’ve encountered in the past week.

Weird But True

“Old school” bakers wanted! Eschew technology and modern trends in favor of hand-rolling dough at a bakery in Providence, Rhode Island, where they’re having trouble filling positions. The nearly 100-year-old bakery is hoping to find that perfect employee–perhaps someone a little older?–who likes doing things the traditional way. Never mind the want ads, read The Huffington Post’s report on the Scialo Bakery!

Senior Lifestyles

What’s your impression of aging? Do you approach the years with a positive attitude, or mark each birthday as another year gone? Senior Homes blog covers some new research that explains why some age well while others falter.

Senior Health

The America Psychiatric Association is printing a fifth edition of the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in May 2013. Within those pages, they are planning to discontinue use of the term dementia in favor of the broader classifications of minor and major neurocognitive disorders, citing a stigma with the term “dementia.” Do you believe it’s possible–and a good idea–to remove a word from daily use? An article in Aging Well discusses the pros and cons and may help you form an opinion about the change.

Senior Living

Planning to downsize in your retirement? Many people consider trading in their larger houses and decades’ worth of possessions in for smaller quarters and fewer things once the kids move out or they become widowed. An article in the Wall Street Journal cautions that the swap is not for everyone, and to consider carefully what will or won’t suit your needs.

Trends in Technology

Could your next prescription be an app? Doctors taking note of the increasing number of smartphones walking into their offices have been searching for good downloadable applications to help their patients–specifically apps that help them track medications, weight and cholesterol. Read why your smartphone may become an essential tool in health management in American Medical News.

The Benefits (Gifts) of Caregiving


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As Baby Boomers age, they might be setting their sights on retirement, travel, taking up that old hobby or starting a new one. Instead, many of them find themselves as the primary family caregiver for elderly parents, taking on management finances and routine of medication dispensing when they expected to be stepping away from routine and responsibility. Today, the National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that 65 million people in the U.S. are unpaid family caregivers, seven in 10 caring for a person older than themselves.

Yes, becoming a caregiver has re-routed many plans. There are many reasons people accept the challenging job, sometimes out of a sense of duty or obligation to “do what’s right” by their loved ones. As the cost of services rise, some are financially obligated to take on the lion’s share of the responsibility. Some are fulfilling a promise made to a loved one and others’ recognize that their mom or dad responds better to their care, and therefore has higher sense of well-being because he or she is looked after by a family member.

Eldercare: Redefining Families

There are certainly physical and emotional impacts on a family caregiver. Caregivers often get less sleep because of being up in the night or adhering to round-the-clock medication schedules, and they are often required to lift a person who is bedridden or help him into and out of the bath. Caregiving also takes an emotional toll, ranging from anger at being the one to shoulder the burden to anxiety, isolation, exhaustion and then guilt, for having the feelings in the first place.

But this post is about benefits of caregiving, because despite the hardships, stepping up and caring for your elder can give you gifts.

Get to know your parents better. As children, the world revolves around us; as teenagers, we are the world; as young adults we explore the world; and often as adults we’ve turned into parents and we are someone else’s world. When you’re caring for your parent, you are afforded time to sit and listen and share a world.

Quality time is at hand. On one hand, you may feel isolated, not being able to run to the store whenever you need to or take a friend up on lunch. On the other hand, when you slow the pace from breakneck speed to a crawl, there are card games to be played, newspapers to discuss, recipes to share.

Story sharing preserves family history. Now is a good time to record stories from the past. If eyesight is bad, but memory is good, talking about days past may be just what your elder needs. At the same time, you get a chance to learn about your history.writingstories

Giving back love. They kissed scraped knees, reinforced why you’re grounded (again) to hopefully teach lessons, cooked meals, endured nights in a tent, hosted sleepovers and vacuumed up the resulting popcorn, celebrated when you mastered the potty. Caring for elderly parents gives you a chance to return that love and care.

Supervising the family funds. Managing your parents’ finances puts you in the loop. Whether you work with a financial planner or do it on your own, you have the opportunity to talk about finances and have a true idea of the financial picture.

Draw the family together. The world is not perfect, and siblings may fight over how mom and dad are cared for, where the money goes, and why isn’t our youngest brother helping? But often having a reason to come together opens doors for more communication between siblings who have drifted apart or simply haven’t made time to talk.

One writer recalls in her compelling story of stepping up to be the “Good Daughter,” the road is not easy, and each gift is not neatly wrapped. But if you choose to become the family caregiver, there is good balanced with hardship.

Resources for Caregivers

As the number of unpaid family caregivers grow, more recognition is being brought to the issue. November has been named National Family Caregiver month, and there are resources of all sorts, from online support groups to resources about finances, finding outside care, sharing information, advocacy and more. One example is the National Family Caregivers Association. This wealth of support and information they and others offer may lighten the family caregiver’s load.

Home For the Holidays: Can a Resident of Assisted Living Visit Home?


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“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” say the lyrics to a popular Christmas song. And as friends and families gather to celebrate their beliefs or enjoy traditional meal around a table, the absence of a family member can be very difficult. Is grandma, grandpa, mom or dad allowed to leave his or her assisted care facility or nursing home to join in the holiday festivities?

Many residents of assisted living facilities and residential care homes are able to leave the facility for special occasions, as long as family members give notice ahead of time, are able to care for their loved one while he or she is home and the resident is healthy enough to endure travel. Make sure you have wheelchair access if necessary, that you stick to medication schedules and adhere to special diets.

Concern over Medicare Coverage

If your loved one’s stay in a nursing home or care facility is funded in any way by Medicare, you may be concerned that you’ll forfeit Medicare coverage if he or she leaves the facility. According to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., that is not a necessary concern. The Medicare Benefit Policy manual recognizes that leaving for a short time to attend a religious service, holiday gathering, family occasion or even a trial visit home, does not indicate a resident no longer needs skilled nursing care. Nursing home residents are permitted to leave for a short time without giving up Medicare funding.

Ways to Celebrate In the Assisted Living Facility

Although you may feel like the holidays aren’t the same without grandma or dad at home with the rest of the family, consider whether or not the visit is the right thing for them. Returning home–for just a short time–may trigger feelings of homesickness and loneliness upon their return. Are you having them home to satisfy your need for a family holiday, or theirs?

If it’s not feasible for your loved ones to come home, there are many ways to bring the holidays to them. Share photo albums from holidays past and talk about old memories. If your loved one has special ornaments or decorations, get them out and decorate his or her space. The taste of a favorite food may bring back memories of a happy time or satisfy the need for tradition. And most facilities go to great lengths to help their residents celebrate, inviting church choir groups, children’s groups, other seniors and families to participate in activities.

You may wonder, if your family member has dementia or is suffering from Alzheimer’s, why bother making an effort? Carol Bradley Bursak, editor-in-chief of ElderCareLink, says that even if your loved one is suffering from memory problems or dementia, their short-term memory is often foggy while they are able to remember things from the long-ago past. Ornaments and photos may provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. In fact, new items or recent pictures may add to his or her confusion. At the very heart, including an elderly loved one in your traditions reaffirms their humanity. Make each moment count.

Assisted Living Today’s Weekly Roundup


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It’s a season for random acts of kindness, reflecting on the year gone by and sharing time with our loved ones. Remember to take time from your busy routine to visit your elderly friends and relatives in assisted living and nursing facilities. The best gift you can give is your time and attention.

And while Santa is busy at the North Pole, and here at Assisted Living Today, we’re double-checking our lists for noteworthy news and trends. Enjoy!  And let us know of any interesting, relevant news you’ve encountered in the past week.

Weird But True

Just as President Obama won another four years in office, he was honored by scientists at Yale who named a lizard species after him: Obamadon gracillis, generally meaning “straight toothed and slender.” The only drawback? The lizard is already extinct! Read it and other weird but true stories at this week’s NY Post.

Senior Lifestyles

A study conducted by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found that seven out of 10 Americans die from chronic disease and, as Americans live longer and longer, many families have no end of life game plan in place. But having a plan, say health care advocates, not only gives patients and their families greater peace of mind, it can save the healthcare system a lot of money. Read more on MSN.

Senior Health

Go 4 Life, from the National Institute on Aging, has a success story to share–just for fun. Grisel, age 60, stays fit by dancing her heart out. Want an idea on how to rejuvenate your exercise plan? Listen to Grisel and turn up the music!

Age in Place offers a good reminder about the elderly and flu season. Chance are you’ve heard the reminders, heard a report on the evening news or noticed the signs at the pharmacy, but in case you’ve ignored it, it’s flu season! Don’t forget to take heed, and follow the recommendations offered by the CDC.

Senior Living

Sometimes it helps to put a face and tag a voice to the issues that many face quietly every day, like adults taking care of their elderly parents with dementia. David Cassidy, one time teenage heartthrob and still a performer on Broadway, is also the spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation. He tours the country talking about his experience caring for his mother who had dementia, reminding people that caregivers are not alone. Read his story.

Trends in Technology

Maybe you’ve heard of Nanotechnology, but how about “nanatechnology?” Check out USA Today’s interactive that highlights where new technology can be placed throughout the house to keep your loved one safe at home. From an online medicine cabinet in your bathroom that links directly to the pharmacy mailbox alerts to let elders know when the mail has arrived, there are all kinds of new gadgets in the works to make homes not only smart, but brilliant.

When To Hang Up the Car Keys: Driver Safety and the Elderly

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No one wants to watch his or her independence slip away or be the one to take that independence away from a loved one, and losing the ability to drive oneself at will is a significant loss of independence. It’s not easy, but there comes a time to consider both your loved one’s safety and the safety of other’s on the road when an older driver is behind the wheel.

A recent Harvard study showed that adults aged 40-49 were the age group most likely to worry about a loved one’s driving capabilities. Of those concerned, more than 33 percent had not yet voiced their fears because of worry of a negative reaction, feeling unsure about how to bring the subject up or feeling concern about the lack of alternative transportation.

Physical limitations as a person ages

Not only do physical change to a person’s body and mind occur as he or she ages, but a body 70 years or older is at much higher risk of severe injury or death as a result of a car crash as opposed to a younger person in the same crash.

  • Vision: night vision may decline, sensitivity to daytime glare can increase, it may becomes more difficult to judge of others’ rate of speed and depth perception changes.
  • Hearing: horns, emergency vehicle sirens and other warning signals may be muffled.
  • Slower response time due to limited mobility.
  • Chronic conditions like insomnia, arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson’s may affect a person’s ability to focus attention on the road.
  • Side effects from medications may cause confusion or drowsiness.
  • Dementia and other cognitive problems can lead to confusion on the road.

How to know when it’s time

The Office of Aging lists warning signs pointing to unsafe driving in older adults. Does the driver:

  • have difficulty maintaining posted speeds
  • find it uncomfortable or intimidating to drive at night
  • show erratic movements such as abrupt lane changes, jolted acceleration or confusion between gas and brake pedals
  • get lost easily
  • feel easily taken off guard by a car or pedestrian that “wasn’t there a second ago”
  • have difficulty reading signs
  • demonstrate a failure to use turn signals or obey other rules of the road
  • drift into other lanes or hit curbs
  • incur traffic citations
  • have difficulty looking over shoulder because of limited range of movement

These are signs that driving is becoming difficult and potentially dangerous.

How you can help

Your loved one likely won’t  hand the keys over without resistance, but the suggestion is easier to hear from a family member or close friend rather than the DMV or a court order. Here are a few tips on making the conversation go a little easier:

  • Be empathetic–this is a hard transition!
  • Help figure out alternative transportation or develop a schedule so that your loved one doesn’t feel helpless or stranded.
  • Use resources like the free online course offered by AARP, The Hartford and MIT Age Lab called We Need To Talk, providing information on fostering meaningful conversation between family members about adult safety issues.
  • Seek outside expertise from a Comprehensive Driving Evaluation. Evaluations are given by an occupational therapist who can provide a clinical assessment of vision, cognition, reaction time as well as a behind-the-wheel assessment of driving skills. For a list of occupational therapists, visit the American Occupational Therapist’s website.

In general, older adults have high seatbelt usage and low citations for driving under the influence, reckless driving and speeding. So if medications or clear cognitive issues are not problematic, consider a trial of self-imposed limitations. Don’t drive at night or in bad weather conditions and avoid rush-hour traffic times.

The key is safety, for your loved one, for the drivers’ passengers and others on the road. As difficult as the conversation may be, a tragic result will be even more difficult to handle. Consider using family time together over the holidays as a time to observe and possibly talk to your loved one about retiring the car keys.