Senior Living in Omaha, NE 2018

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Senior Living in Omaha, NE 2018

We’ve all heard the saying “age is just a number.” For each number past 65, the age that defines one’s status as a “senior,” there’s great variance as to what that looks like for each individual. Sure, everyone can count on getting to enjoy those great discounts, but other than that you could find yourself anywhere on a wide spectrum. As life expectancies continue to rise, aging as gracefully as Jane Fonda or Warren Buffett (or Charlie Munger for that matter!) isn’t as much of an anomaly anymore. Alternatively, we are faced with serious health conditions such as the epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis at an earlier age or the prevalence of cancer. Fortunately here in the Omaha Metro, the resources that are available for seniors in our community are just as diverse as the population they serve.

Future Projections for the Senior Population
What You’ll Need to Know to Help You Plan Accordingly

The noticeable growth of the senior care industry is for good reason, supported by the growing need for services that meet very specific needs. With Baby Boomers entering into their senior years en masse, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates there will be 83.7 million people over the age of 65 in the nation by the year 2050. In comparison, that is almost double the population of people that age in 2012.

Jennifer Knecht-Immanuel

Jennifer Knecht
Immanuel

“As Baby Boomers enter retirement in droves, the senior living industry is continually changing to meet their demands,” says Jennifer Knecht with Immanuel. “The change is a good thing – providing more choices for seniors. For instance, opening this year in Omaha is Immanuel’s Lakeside Village Lofts. Stepping away from traditional senior living communities, Lakeside Village Lofts support younger, more active seniors, offering independent high-end apartments without the worry of home upkeep and maintenance. Lakeside Lofts will join Immanuel’s existing 11 senior living communities in the Omaha and Lincoln areas.

The options are vast for senior living and with these additional choices comes complexity and confusion for seniors.

The best first step is to start the planning process early. Do your parents have plans or goals for their retirement? Are they currently meeting those goals? Start the conversation early. If you’re not sure how, or need help sorting through the array of senior health and lifestyle choices, reach out to the experts. Immanuel’s senior living consultants have been there, helping families for decades sort through the confusion and develop a plan. So when the time is right, there’s a plan. No crisis, no panic, just a plan.

Still, it’s never easy when you notice Mom or Dad may need additional help. And most people aren’t sure what to do about it – it’s not the kind of decisions you make often in your life, and no one is prepared for it. The issues you notice aren’t going to go away; in fact, they’re probably only going to worsen. Talk to your loved one about your concerns. Then, reach out to the experts. Being open to additional help is only the tip of the iceberg—health concerns, emotional aspects, and logistics can all be overwhelming. At Immanuel, our senior living consultants are the experts. They’ve helped thousands of families create plans. Sometimes the answer is a move, yet sometimes other resources are the right choice. Whether it’s with us or with someone else, we’ll help you create a plan that fits your unique family and situation. That’s our non-profit, Christ-centered mission, helping families is our first priority.

If you’re thinking a move could be right, you’ll want to explore all the options, make sure every box is checked. There’s no better way to do that than touring senior communities. Spring is a great time to get out there and explore the options. If you need help knowing what questions to ask, download Immanuel’s Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Comparison Guide at ImmanuelDifference.org. It contains all the tough questions you want to ask on a tour.

We’re coming up on an ideal time for rightsizing too, which is the process of ensuring your loved one’s home is meeting their goals for retirement. Spring is also a great time to assess whether the home is working towards the goals for the future or against them. Was snow removal difficult this winter? Does the furnace have another year? Have household chores become more difficult? What yard maintenance is needed this spring and summer and do they even want to do it anymore? Answering these questions can be great conversation starters with aging loved ones. The answers may signal additional support is needed, or perhaps a move.

For many families, making a move to senior living is tough. It’s complex, there are emotions involved, it’s a decision people often put off until an injury or health crisis occurs. But, for many of the families who make the move, they tell us they wish they had made the decision sooner. Mom’s happier, Dad doesn’t have to deal with snow or ice removal, they both have found meaningful social connections and are more fulfilled—and healthier—than they ever were on their own.

There are a lot of misconceptions about senior living; that it’s only for the old, the frail. But senior living today has changed. We’ve seen a huge response from younger retirees looking for a change – excited to move to a place where there’s no maintenance, where there are wellness and social opportunities, a place where they can accomplish their retirement goals. For these families, there’s no better time to explore senior living.”

Look no further than the Omaha Metro and Lincoln areas for evidence of the impact that the dramatic growth of the senior population already made, as there will be a number of new facilities opening in 2018, following the same trend that was evident in 2017 and the years prior.

Mary Ann Stallings-Bridge to Better Living

Mary Ann Stallings
Bridge to Better Living

“Both will have new communities opening in 2018,” says Mary Ann Stallings with Bridge to Better Living. “Independent, Assisted and Memory Assisted Care will be offered in various continuum settings. Seniors and their families will be able to broaden their choices for a transition to Senior Living with several hundred additional apartments available. The Baby Boomers have asked for more amenities, and residents will see new additions such as Bistros, fitness centers, chapels, new technology, theaters and restaurant style dining. Bridge to Better Living already has toured or visited with the new communities and is able to share available information with clients about the possibility of viewing floor plans, touring after construction is finished, choosing an apartment and moving as the communities open their doors. BBL has been working with clients and current communities since 2010 and looks forward to growing the options for Senior Living.”

Stallings explains how one would benefit from utilizing the services offered by a senior placement agency, stating, “Seniors and families often begin their own search for Senior Living options by using questions they have read on the internet or heard from others. When they realize the difficulty and stress associated with the navigation of retirement communities and then connect with Bridge to Better Living, they often wonder why they didn’t start with BBL. It is important for us to know our clients’ needs and history to have their journey be stress-free. Bridge to Better Living has the knowledge, contacts and resources needed for a successful research resulting in quality of life. Why would anyone want to have the confusion, anxiety and exhaustion of touring several communities in a limited time, with budget constraints or a non-understanding of professional terms used, when an expert could do everything at NO COST to the client?”

Other seasonal changes impact seniors, Stallings advises. “Families must first realize who the key player is in this journey and recognize their needs. Visit with them, their therapists, physicians, neighbors and clergy. Will this be a short-term change or a lifestyle transition? If needing to move to an Independent, Assisted, Memory Care Assisted or Skilled Care community, contact a Transition Consultant such as those at Bridge to Better Living. BBL’s consultants listen and work with families to identify available resources to help in each situation. No two families or loved ones are the same and no two communities are identical. We address those differences for a successful transition and quality of life.”

As for other things that will likely impact seniors, Stallings advises, “Social engagement is important all year round and in all types of weather. Remain active and in contact with friends and family. Transportation is sometimes risky during the winter and others may provide transportation for you to events or group activities. Winter is a wonderful time to look into the contents of closets and cabinets to see what needs to be discarded, donated, given to family and friends or sold. If you are thinking about moving to a community, consider only what is needed. If receiving 2-3 meals a day is there a reason to keep multiple sets of dishes and cookware? Will you need an ironing board? A vacuum? Washer and dryer? Moving means changes and now is the time to identify the possessions you value. You may be surprised at how little is needed to be happy. Bridge to Better Living has resources to assist you reorganize, downsize or pre-stage and move to your new apartment.”

2018 will have many positive things going for it, namely more choices in senior care as well as senior living. The demographics support the building of new senior living communities, so the need for senior care continues to rise as well.

The Benefits of Proactive Health Assessment and Care
Good Health is the Key to Quality of Life for Seniors

Health issues are often behind increased isolation, resulting in depression. When left unaddressed, conditions that could be easily treatable or corrected gradually worsen over time. What started out as a minor issue can snowball into a much larger problem before you know it.

There are many choices out there for seniors, whether it be home health care or a move to a community that will keep them engaged socially and mentally, where their health is also able to be regularly monitored. This is optimal in order to address any issues in a timely manner. For families who don’t have the resources for a full-time move to a senior community, an in-home care provider, transportation or meal delivery service, or a day service within a community would be among the available resources to contemplate. Anything to look forward to and stay socially connected will lead to better quality of life and health outcomes. Socialization should not be overlooked, as isolation can lead to depression and cause other problems. Seniors need to continue living a meaningful life!

Admittedly, with busy schedules and so much going on in our personal lives, we aren’t always able to check up on our senior loved ones as much as we wish we could. Enlisting the help of a caregiver for the times when you know you can’t be there to help out is a great option to consider. These professionals are also able to alert you of any issues they notice in their time spent with your loved one, such as decline in health, things that are out of place around the house, etc.

This being the case, in-home care has become another popular resource in the community, allowing seniors who are able to remain living in their homes longer. There is diversity within the companies locally as well, with services ranging from non-medical assistance with housecleaning, meal preparation, pet care, errands and transportation, companionship etc. to providing medical care that’s needed on a regular basis. With many different options, you’ll want to look into what is offered to be sure it matches your specific needs.

As time goes on, these needs will change, and you’ll need to make adjustments accordingly. Communication between all parties involved will help you react in a timely manner.

Specialized Care and Increased Options Making a Big Difference
Finding The Right Fit is Worth the Time and Effort

In general, with more specialized services becoming available, there are more people out there who are able to benefit from them. We’re seeing senior care diversifying based on meeting specific needs at different stages of life and in response to health epidemics. This is not only evidenced by more options for in-home care, independent living, and assisted living but also for hospice care and specialized memory care.

For example, as we continue to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s, everything from approaches to caring for those who are suffering from any of these conditions to the living environment has been modified accordingly. Coupled with the growing population affected, now there are entire facilities and wings dedicated to memory care.

Within the senior care continuum, rehabilitation is yet another core offering. There are now some state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities that are post-acute or short-stay, helping patients to get well and transition back to their homes or to a community that offers the appropriate level of care moving forward. Others offer rehabilitation with the option to transition back to wherever the person calls home or to reside there short-term or long-term. Therefore, again it’s important to understand the differences between each.

In any case, do your very best to be an educated consumer and a strong advocate for yourself or your loved ones.

Making End-of-Life Arrangements Brings Comfort, Peace of Mind to All
Fewer Stigmas Surrounding Planning Thoughtfully for Death

With wonderful resources to help make all of the necessary arrangements for when one’s time comes to pass on and what might be needed for day-to-day life leading up to that point, people are more apt to talk about and plan for death well before it’s on their doorstep. Along with downsizing and moving to a community where ideally you can remain at home as you age and transition to higher levels of care, estate and funeral planning will come into play as may hospice care.

There are over 100 pieces of information needed at the time of death – some within the first few hours, like your social security number, and most within no more than 24 hours.

In lieu of listing the entire 100+ items you will need, some key pieces of information that you will need when making arrangements, whether at the time of need or when planning ahead, include: the deceased’s full name (including maiden name if it applies), spouse’s name if married, date of birth, social security number, birthplace, marital status, date and place of marriage, military branch and enlistment/separation dates, discharge papers, and any life insurance policy information. When your loved ones are experiencing the shock and grief of your death – whether it was anticipated or not – providing all of this information can be very difficult emotionally and even logistically.

Planning ahead and pre-paying for your funeral services are important for many reasons, including the fact that it can lock in prices that tend to increase each year. Whether or not you choose to pre-pay for your funeral services, letting your loved ones know how you want to be remembered is strongly recommended.

The less they have to plan, the less likely it is that there will be misunderstandings or hard feelings.

Future Projections for the Senior Care Industry
Demand vs. Supply Fuels Current Speculation of Labor Shortage on the Horizon

Now that we’ve covered a range of information pertaining to seniors, highlighting the various resources available in our community now and coming soon, let’s switch gears and discuss the future of the job market.

As with many professions in healthcare fields, those in the senior care industry will be in high demand to meet the growing need. Opportunities will grow exponentially, proportionate to the growth of the senior population and longer life expectancies. While there will be more interest in degree programs, there is still expected to be a labor shortage to some extent. In this type of environment, hiring and retaining the best care providers is critical for any business serving seniors.

As Baby Boomers age between now and 2030, the need for senior care – and for senior care workers – will increase to unprecedented heights. The competition for workers will become even more fierce than it already is and organizations that focus on selecting the right talent and retention strategies to keep that talent engaged will have an edge on their competitors.

Across all sectors of the long-term care industry, workers are exiting the industry faster than they are entering it. At the same time, competition for workers within the industry is increasing due to expanding options for how and where people receive support and services.

Hiring the right people is one strategy to increase retention. Putting the right people in the right jobs increases their job satisfaction, becoming contagious because having the right people in the right jobs makes things better for the people who work with them. With turnover rates as high as 75%, recruitment and selection alone will not stop the bleeding. Leaders and managers must get intentional about other retention strategies.

Enabling naturally caring people to see a pathway for a career in senior living is a start. Then once you have selected people talented for the roles, allowing them to create their own plans for development within the senior care industry will ensure the very best people stay in jobs they are naturally wired to perform. Where do you start to hire great people? Ask candidates these questions:

  • Do you love helping people?
  • Can you naturally pick up on what people need even if they do not tell you?
  • Do you have a gift for staying calm and composed, even in trying circumstances?
  • Are you quick to notice even small changes in people?
  • Are you a natural smiler?
  • Are you more interested in hearing other people’s stories than in telling your own?
  • Can you keep track of a lot of detailed responsibilities while also making each person you encounter feel significant?

While these questions will assist in eliciting caring behaviors from candidates, a scientifically-validated selection instrument can help you do an even better job of finding the right people who will provide the best care – hire after hire.

Focus more on potential than experience. You can teach people what they need to know about the specifics of working in senior care. You cannot teach them to care about people and you cannot install a heart for service.

Scout and recruit continuously. Look for people who provide great service in restaurants, retail stores, libraries and community centers. Keep a keen eye out for those who seem to work especially well with older people. Ask those people to come work for your organization. And, if you do not have a role for them immediately, add them to your talent bench – individuals you can call upon in the community who you know will be a fit for the role and the culture.

Get creative. Connect with people who are caring for family members through offering support groups for caregivers or tapping into places in which unpaid caregiving happens, such as churches, synagogues and community centers.

Develop the leaders of your future. Now is the time for senior care leaders to begin planning and implementing strategies to help them win the war for talent that has already begun and promises to persist. People are the key. Winning this war starts with selecting the right talent and continues with strategies for retaining top performers. Providing opportunities for learning and development is one of those strategies, and may be the key to unlocking your organization’s best future.

Millennials and the generation that follows them (Generation Z, born 2002 and after) will make up a significant portion of the individuals to fill the growing need for workers in senior care. Opportunity for growth and development is the number one factor influencing both the attractiveness of an organization to Millennials and their willingness to accept a job offer.1

In conclusion, talent development should be a priority for your organization for three reasons: 1. It helps you attract and hire top talent; 2. It helps you retain top performers; and 3. It helps you prepare your organization for the challenges of the future.

1National Workforce Crisis Facing Long-Term Services and Supports. (September, 2017). Leading Age. Retrieved October, 2017 from www.leadingage.org/sites/default/files/WorkforceFactSheet_0.pdf. 2 Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace. PricewaterhouseCooper. Retrieved October, 2017 from www.pwc.com/m1/en/services/consulting/documents/millennials-at-work.pdf.

To summarize, there are many things on the horizon that will have an impact on all of us as we age, affecting society as a whole spanning from a community level to a global level. For seniors, while there are good “rules of thumb” that apply to most or to keep in mind for when the time comes, there are also certain things to pay attention to depending on one’s needs and circumstances. Regardless, the more you know, whether you’re a senior or have a loved one who is, the better prepared you’ll be!

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