The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to advance independence, integration, and inclusion throughout life. ACL recently honored Older Americans Month in May, with this year’s theme being “Age My Way”. The theme encouraged older adults and their families to explore the many ways seniors can continue to be an active part of their communities.
Below is short summary of the history of Older Americans Month, taken from the ACL website (acl.gov):
“When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as ‘Senior Citizens Month,’ the prelude to ‘Older Americans Month.’
“Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.”
Older Americans Month may be officially over until next year’s observance in 2023, but we want to keep the momentum rolling by sharing more about senior health. We spoke to several reputable senior living services throughout the Omaha area, and industry experts have provided lots of wonderful advice, thoughts, and recommendations on how older adults can best manage their health as they age.
Upscale Senior Living
Ovation Heartwood Preserve (ovationbyavamere.com/omaha-nebraska) is an urban, upscale, active lifestyle community where independent living, assisted living, and memory care are inspired by life and Omaha’s interwoven history and scenery. The community provides resort-style amenities designed with their residents in mind. These amenities include the 360 Social Club rooftop deck, multiple restaurants including 1863 fine dining, an immersive and soothing pool, complimentary concierge services, exclusive wellness and fitness classes, cultural and entertainment experiences, and so much more.
“Ovation is thrilled to share our passion for others with the senior community here in Omaha,” shared Executive Director of Assisted Living Collette Mieres. “We promote health, fitness, and adventure through easy access to 80 acres of parks, trails, and green space; different choices of dining; concierge and valet services; customized fitness classes; cultural and entertainment experiences; and much, much more!”
Residents of Ovation live independently and worry-free in a high-end luxury apartment with elegant fixtures and upscale upgrades over traditional senior apartments. All of their homes are completely maintenance-free and include around-the-clock security. Though they are living independently, residents can have peace of mind knowing that assistance is there if and when they need it.
“For those who require assisted living or memory care, Ovation Heartwood Preserve is equipped to support those needs with a highly trained and dedicated team of caregivers and nurses onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Collette. “Memory care at the community is backed by our innovative Ovation Connections™ Memory Care program, which delivers safe, secure, and compassionate care to enable residents to thrive, enjoy day-to-day living, stimulate their mental and physical focus, and encourage socialization.”
Dedicated Memory Care
While we all have people we love and want to take care of, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, there may come a time when the needs of a person who has a disease are too much for a family member to manage alone. Agemark’s CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care (countryhouse.net) is here to help families care for their loved one and make the transition from the loved one’s home to assisted living. They work with families whose loved one may be in the early stages of memory loss, so they know what resources are available if and when they need them.
“Our empathetic and well-trained team works to ensure residents in our care experience moments of joy every single day,” shared Marcia Houchin, vice president of life enrichment at Agemark. “We get to know residents in our care on a personal level – their background and history, likes and dislikes, passions and hobbies – we capture this information by listening carefully to both them and you, their loved ones. With this knowledge in hand, we are able to provide personalized care for them in their new home.”
CountryHouse is all about experiences, and if you walk into either of their Elkhorn or Omaha locations, you’ll see residents engaging with one another, families enjoying dinner together with grandchildren, bowling and badminton games going on in the lawn, budding artists in the art studio, chefs baking in the kitchen, and smiles throughout the community.
“Early diagnosis is important, so if you notice signs of memory loss, get a full medical evaluation to determine if it’s Alzheimer’s or something else,” advised Marcia. “Knowing will help give you direction for planning: where to go for more information, what in-home care alternatives and support systems are available, how to make the home safe, and when to seek placement.”
There are three CountryHouse communities in the Omaha Metro, all of which offer exclusive memory care for those with memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. They believe that one of their most unique differentiators is their commitment to enriching the lives of those in their care and treating all like family, which is also their company mission.
“We are truly blessed to do what we do – we don’t take for granted that we have the opportunity to contribute to the health and happiness of individuals in our care and become a part of a larger, extended family for them,” said Marcia.
Prairie Meadows Alzheimer’s Special Care Center (frontiermgmt.com/communities/prairie-meadows-alzheimers-special-care-center) provides exceptional person-centered holistic care to residents with
cognitive impairment. They take your loved one’s health and happiness seriously, and strive to make the aging process more meaningful and enjoyable for the dementia residents in their care.
“Services we provide include everything from convenient access to skilled nursing to activities of daily living—whatever is necessary to maintain a safe and secure living environment,” said Marking Director Don Woods. “We give our residents restaurant-quality dining with multiple options for every meal, three times a day. We also offer hospitality services, such as regular housekeeping, scheduled transportation for social events, exciting social programs, and more.”
Prairie Meadows doesn’t forget about the mind, body, and soul, either; they provide occupational, physical, and speech therapy; group exercise classes; community outings; religious services; and interactive learning. They have created an environment for memory care residents that encourages autonomy and self-expression, provides a structure which supports memory retention, and ensures each resident’s healthcare and long-term care needs are met.
“We operate a program called Meaningful Memories for our residents who have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia challenges,” explained Don. “Through this program, we get to know our residents by learning their life stories and finding out their preferences, including likes, dislikes, family, hobbies, careers, achievements, and cherished memories. People living with memory loss face greater challenges than most of us, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve lost the ability to experience joy and continue leading meaningful lives. If they have a favorite restaurant where they always went to have their favorite pie, for example, Prairie Meadows will make sure they still get to enjoy that.”
In addition to the variety of amenities and programming options Prairie Meadows offers to keep residents active and engaged, the facility has a nurse available 24/7, far above and beyond the minimal regulations of eight hours a day. Prairie Meadows also partners with home health services, hospice services, and anything they need to provide the necessary elements that will allow families to rest assured that their loved one is safe and cared for.
Professional Caregiving Services
CCA Home Care (ccahomecare.com) is home to Nebraska’s largest in-home care registry. All of their caregivers are CNAs who work directly for the client. The client is 100% in control of their caregiver schedule, and CCA Home Care does not require any minimum of hours or financial deposit to begin services. Owner Kyle Johnson shared that clients they begin services with are typically just starting to notice the difficulties of living independent in their own homes, and are starting to need assistance with their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living).
“Seniors need to stay active, both mentally and physically,” said Kyle. “Watching TV and sitting in a recliner all day doesn’t lead to a healthy lifestyle. Getting involved with a local senior center will help with socialization, and going for short walks will help to maintain leg strength. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is something I commonly say when working with families who are noticing a recent decline in their parent’s health.”
Kyle firmly believes that when families procrastinate on considering the need for senior care, they only add unnecessary financial and emotional burden to their lives.
“We typically see seniors wait too long to accept help due to fear of losing their independence,” Kyle shared. “Adult children are noticing these signs before the senior does, but hesitate to get outside help for fear of upsetting their parents. This is a dangerous scenario of waiting for the ‘major incident’ to happen before getting help in the home. Typically, this results in a hospital stay that could have been avoided with a couple helping hands .”
CCA Home Care also provides a valuable resource to the Omaha community through the production of their ElderCare Resource Handbook. The handbook is an all-inclusive listing of services, programs, and other resources available for the aging in each area. By understanding the services, resources, and options which are available locally, they hope seniors and their families can make informed decisions which have the potential to enhance their quality of life and independence.
From government and financial services, to medical support and living options, to home health care and end-of-life services, the ElderCare Resource Handbook can help seniors throughout all stages of senior living. CCA Home Care offers both an Omaha and Lincoln-specific handbook, so be sure to check out both to really understand all of the amazing senior living options we have in our local area!
Key Home Care (keyhomecare.us) is another wonderful option in the Omaha area to provide trusted and verified caregivers. Their mission is key—to give seniors a happy, independent lifestyle in the comfort of their home by providing compassionate, non-medical care. Whether your family needs long-term services, respite services, or just a companion to visit, Key Home Care’s experienced team is here to help. Their staff allows you to have peace of mind knowing your loved one is happy and comfortable.
“Though Key Home Care is not a hospice agency, our caregivers supplement and support seniors through their journey,” shared Community Liaison Desiree Rossi. “Our caregivers can be the primary caregiver for a hospice recipient or come in periodically to allow the primary caregiver a break. Many of our caregivers are certified and all undergo background verification for your safety. We also have compassionate and attentive bedside sitters for companionship and reassurance, whether sitting at the bedside in the hospital setting or helping your family member adjust to the new setting of a nursing home or assisted living. Key Home Care can provide 24-hour care, as well, when an elder needs 24-hour super vision or ‘hands-on’ care.”
Helpful Products for the Home
As seniors age, it may become more difficult for them to use the storage in their kitchen, pantry, bathroom, or closet. Things become more difficult to take off the shelves or to put away, especially if it requires getting down on one’s knees. This is where ShelfGenie (shelfgenie.com/locations/omaha) comes in.
“ShelfGenie provides custom pullout shelves that retrofit existing or new cabinets, typically in the kitchen, pantry, or bathrooms,” explained Jay Durmaskin, franchise co-owner. “We also design custom closets and storage solutions that can be done in any area of the home. We provide better access to your cabinets and closets. No more having to get down on your hands and knees to find what’s in your cabinets.”
To get started with ShelfGenie, a designer will visit your home to generate a 3D rendering of your custom solution in real time. This is used to build your custom-made designs and provide an estimate right there on the spot. After production is finished, an installer returns to your home to put the product in place, and you can enjoy your newly organized space by dinnertime!
“We encourage you to plan ahead for the time in your life where you may begin to have a little trouble getting around by implementing our solutions into your home,” encouraged Jay. “Even if you aren’t able to plan ahead, you don’t have to worry about waiting months to have our shelves arrive; you can expect to have the product produced and installed in your home within four to six weeks after your original consultation, and installation takes less than a day.”
Jay also shared that ShelfGenie has a showroom available for those who are interested in viewing the product. Schedule a visit to tour the room by calling Jay at (402) 689-8055.
Another local business that offers helpful products for those who are aging is See The Trainer (seethetrainer.com). At See The Trainer, you can find a selection of products designed to help seniors navigate their day-to-day lifestyle or recover and rehabilitate after major surgeries or injuries.
“Our products include canes, sock aids, bathroom accessories, and more,” said Owner Kristie Egan. “We have a variety of helpful products that can assist someone going through rehabilitation after a major surgery or injury so that they can safely get back to their normal routine as soon as possible!”
See The Trainer is also great for seniors who simply want to lead a more active lifestyle. According to the CDC, adults 65 years of age and older who are generally fit and do not have limiting health conditions should get 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, and work on muscle-strengthening at least twice a week to prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. This also grows one’s muscles to allow them to continue to perform their day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others. See The Trainer has lots of great products that can help you incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Everyone should be prioritizing their health, especially so as one ages. We recommend utilizing the amazing services and products offered by these outstanding senior living businesses!