While there is not a specific age to qualify an individual as a “senior citizen,” Western cultures typically begin to use this term at ages 60-65. Many who reach this age are still in good health and continue to live independently at home. Others may find themselves in need of some assistance with certain activities, or their health deteriorating due to diseases such as dementia. Regardless of your age and health, or that of a family member’s, it’s never too early to begin planning for senior care.

One of the biggest pieces of advice that we receive from senior living services and facilities is to start planning right away. You never know when care is going to be needed. Unanticipated events, such as a negative diagnosis or an injury, can cause one’s health and independence to diminish quickly. However, no one is ever upset that they came into an unexpected event prepared!

When you choose to begin planning, it can be overwhelming when looking at your options for senior care. According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), there are 200 assisted living communities in the state of Nebraska. Remember, that number just represents assisted living communities – it doesn’t go into all of the other senior living services available in Nebraska, such as independent living communities, at-home care, and health care services.

If the thought of planning for your future or that of your aging loved one’s causes you to feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone – that’s why we spoke to experts from senior living businesses and services right here in our community to help you get a better understanding of what is available in the Omaha area and how they can help you or your loved one continue to thrive in their later stages of life.

Specialized Memory Care Homes

According to the AHCA and the NCAL, 35% of assisted living residents in Nebraska have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. When a large percentage of the assisted living population is living with dementia, it’s important that there are communities available that specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Here are a couple local communities that can provide exceptional memory care for your loved one.

Prairie Meadows Alzheimer’s Care Center (frontiermgmt.com/communities/prairie-meadows-alzheimers-special-care-center) is a part of the Midwest region’s Frontier Senior Living community. The community is also comprised of High Plains in Lincoln and Glen Oaks in Urbandale, IA. Prairie Meadows specializes in memory care and provides exceptional person-centered holistic care to residents with cognitive impairment.

Don Woods
Prairie Meadows

“We pride ourselves on offering a 24/7 on-site nurse,” said Marketing Director Don Woods. “This goes far beyond the minimal regulations of eight hours a day, and it eliminates any stress and anxiety a family may have when placing their loved one in memory care.”

Another great feature of Prairie Meadows is their award-winning Spark Program, which is designed to use Montessori methods related to individualized programming. This unique program caters to the individuals living within their community.

“Our goal is to be a resource for everyone, whether you or a loved one is affected by dementia or not,” said Don. “We offer an Alzheimer’s support group to help those in need. We also want to further educate the community about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and get them involved in supporting organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association.”

CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care (countryhouse.net), a community by Agemark Senior Living, believes that quality of life can be enhanced in the right environment, and that by triggering positive memories, finding common connections, and stimulating the mind, body, and spirit, they can make the most of each day for residents, staff, and families.

Marcia Houchin
CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care

“When you are looking at memory care communities, prioritize concepts such as safety and security, access to medical care, activities that promote interaction and socializing, and programs that are designed specifically for residents with dementia,” said Marcia Houchin, Agemark’s national director of life enrichment. “What may be most important, though, is finding a place where your loved one will actually feel at home. This is something that CountryHouse takes seriously.”

If you have a loved one that may be in need of memory care in the future, you may be wondering what timeline you should be following to ensure that your loved one is well taken care of. Marcia first explained that you should consult a doctor when you see a loved one struggling with basic cognitive abilities; while most forms of dementia cannot be cured, there are treatments that can slow the progression and ways to manage symptoms and behaviors. Early diagnosis enables families to begin intervention and make plans for the future.

“Dementia is a progressive decline,” Marcia began. “Its initial symptoms may be gradual, and there may not be an immediate need to seek memory care. As the decline continues, however, you may come to believe that your loved one needs a stable memory care environment. You never know how severe your loved one’s decline will be, so it’s wise to prepare by looking at your memory care options sooner than later.”

At-Home Care

Sometimes, your loved one just needs a little bit of assistance to continue to live comfortably in their own home. This is when you give a call to Right at Home (rightathome.net). They are a local home care agency that allows seniors to remain in their homes and live independently. Whether it’s a once a week visit to help with grocery shopping and light housekeeping, or 24-hour support, Right at Home is here to help you.

Alyssa Jelinek
Right at Home

“Each client and case is different,” said Alyssa Jelinek, director of community relations. “Our philosophy is the right care at the right time. Therefore, we offer all levels of care – companionship, personal care, and specialty services including medication administration and management.”

Right at Home creates detailed care plans specific to each client, their individual needs, and their budget. These care plans include fun activities or hobbies of the senior to ensure they are enjoying life to the fullest. Of course, this couldn’t be done without their professional caregivers.

“We take pride in providing reliable, insured, bonded, and properly trained caregivers,” Alyssa shared. “Most of our caregivers have experience working in clinical settings, as well as home-care settings, so they are well-versed in providing higher levels of care. We make every effort possible to assure our clients’ needs are met with the highest level of compassion and professionalism.”

There are no long-term contracts with Right at Home because they strive to make receiving care as simple and flexible as possible for their clients. In addition, because they offer all levels of care, they are able to help an individual remain in their home until the end of their life, if that is their wish.

“When seniors want to remain living in their home, it’s important to find an agency that can support their needs as their needs progress,” explained Alyssa. “Our caregivers possess this ability and can help you or your loved one live comfortably for the years to come.”

Another place where you can find dedicated and skilled caregivers is Key Home Care (keyhomecare.us). Their levels of care include personal care, 24-hour care, beside sitter care, respite care, hospice support care, and companionship.

Sandra Miller
Key Home Care

“We have over 30 years of experience in offering valuable and individualized care,” said Owner Sandra Miller. “We pride ourselves on being available 24/7 for seniors living in their homes needing care.”

In addition to providing quality care, Key’s main objective is to put every effort into making sure seniors get to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Key’s bedside caregivers can also provide support outside of the home when a senior moves into a nursing home or finds themselves in the hospital.

“It can be confusing and frightening to seniors when they move into new surroundings,” said Sandra. “We know you rarely have enough time to sit at the bedside for hours at a time – we can do it for you. Our caregivers offer companionship and reassurance, whether it’s at the bedside in the hospital setting or helping your family member adjust to the new setting of a nursing home or assisted living.”

Staying Active while Aging

Stephanie Grade
Ovation Heartwood Preserve

A lifetime of hard work and service is worth a standing ovation and the chance to engage at your own pace. Ovation Heartwood Preserve (ovationbyavamere.com/omaha-nebraska-heartwood) 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. General Manager Stephanie Grade dug deeper into what makes Ovation stand out in the senior living community industry.

“Ovation is a place where older adults can stay active, vibrant, and connected to the world,” Stephanie said. “We offer 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!”

Independent living options include spacious studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom apartments. This choice of living offers residents activities, services, and other amenities while freeing them from the chores of housekeeping and home maintenance. For residents who enjoy their independence but require help with routine activities of daily living, trained staff is available 24 hours a day to help with meals, dressing, monitoring medications, and personal hygiene. Memory care is also available at Ovation, and staff is specially trained to provide the quality care needed for seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“Our community relations team would be happy to set up an appointment with you to answer all of your questions about Ovation,” shared Stephanie. “We understand that moving yourself or a loved one to a retirement community may seem daunting, which is why we do not put you under an obligation or any pressure to complete the process. There is no risk, since reservation deposits are fully refundable!”

According 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. This aims to prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age, as well as grow one’s muscles to allow them to continue to perform their day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

See The Trainer (seethetrainer.com) has a variety of sports medicine products that can help seniors who want to live an active lifestyle protect themselves from aggravating a past injury or a weak part of the body. They also offer exercise products, such as exercise balls, shoulder pulleys, foam rollers, and more, so you can stay fit right from your home!

In the event that you or your loved one finds themselves going into surgery, See The Trainer can help you through the rehabilitation process.

Kristie Egan
See The Trainer

“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,” shared Owner Kristie Egan.

Visit See The Trainer today to see how they can help you or your loved one continue to stay active and live comfortably at home.

Become a Part of a Family

Midwest Geriatrics, Inc. (omahaseniorcare.org) is a nonprofit organization housed in Florence Home. They are the proud management team for Florence Home Healthcare Center, Royale Oaks Assisted Living, House of Hope Alzheimer’s Care, House of Hope Assisted Living, Senior Health Foundation, and Gerimed and Unimed Pharmacies.

Jen Smith
Midwest Geriatrics

“When you are considering just one of our communities, you are really considering becoming part of a much larger family,” said Jen Smith, director of life enrichment.

Midwest Geriatrics offers a continuum of elder care services, including long-term care, rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care, adult day services, and a community pharmacy. They have a philosophy that caring and respect go hand-in-hand; it is their commitment to both that never goes out of style. Inside their homes, they have activity programs that are resident-driven and designed to reflect the wishes of those living in their care community. Residents can find all of their hobbies and interests: playing games or cards, getting a manicure, Bible study, browsing the public computers, or more.

Storage Solutions

When the time comes for a loved one to move into a senior living community, it’s likely that they’re going to have a difficult time giving up some of their treasured items. Things such as furniture, knick-knacks, kitchen items, and more can be filled with many years’ worth of memories for them. Rather than selling or tossing out these mementos – potentially upsetting your loved one – consider renting a storage unit at Lockbox Storage (lockbox-storage.com). Owned and operated by McGregor Interests, Inc., Lockbox Storage provides indoor and outdoor storage solutions for all of your storage needs. They offer a variety of different unit sizes and features that come with each space so you can find storage that fits exactly what you need.

Geoff McGregor
Lockbox Storage

“Our storage facilities are fully fenced with a full-time manager, security cameras, electronic gate access, and bright lighting to provide superior security for your belongings,” explained Owner Geoff McGregor. “We understand that your aging loved one’s possessions are of utmost importance to them. Lockbox Storage can ensure that these possessions and the memories that come with them will be kept safe in our storage units.”

Other great features of Lockbox Storage include RV and boat storage, 14’ doors, power and lighting, temperature controlled spaces, and drive-up or pull-through unit options. In addition to space for rent, Lockbox Storage also provides packing supplies, protection plans, and locks along with complimentary hand-carts and dollies for rent to make moving easier.

“In our climate controlled units, we place a special emphasis on humidity control,” said Geoff. “Humidity control is vital to storing some of those heirloom pieces of furniture that might not be as functional when downsizing to a senior living facility.”

Lockbox Storage offers a 5% discount at any of their locations for senior citizens all year long. Another awesome deal that is going on for the month February: mention you saw Lockbox Storage in Strictly Business and you can receive three months of free rent on any climate controlled unit at their newly-opened Old Market facility, located at 501 Pacific St.

Planning for the Future

When people hear the term “Elder Law,” they often think of estate planning, which refers for the most part to the preparation of documents specifying how a person’s financial assets and other property are to be distributed after their death. This can also involve helping clients navigate the complexities of probate and trust administration. While Elder Law does include estate planning, it extends beyond that to encompass other areas of importance to seniors and their families.

For most families, planning a loved one’s move into a senior living facility includes a careful analysis of their finances. The average cost of assisted living in Nebraska is $4,188 and for nursing homes the average cost is $7,194 a month. Many families lack the ability to “private pay” out of their own resources to cover these exorbitant costs. This is where the attorneys at Burnett Wilson Law, LLP (burnettwilsonlaw.com) can help. The lawyers on their Elder Law team have expertise in long-term care planning, including the use of revocable and irrevocable trusts, Medicaid, and Veterans Benefits.

The Elder Law attorneys of Burnett Wilson Law also assist families in dealing with situations such as caring for a disabled relative or protecting a senior with dementia from financial and other forms of abuse. Tools such as a “special needs trust” or a “guardianship” can be crucial in such situations. There are many attorneys, even those practicing in the estate planning field, who have little familiarity with these tools and therefore risk steering clients down the wrong path.

“We think we bring added value to our clients,” says Burnett Wilson Law attorney David Thompson. “Because we help families in so many ways all the time, we are familiar with the range of services available in our communities and can provide useful information about where to find them.”

Anne Burnett
Burnett Wilson Law, LLP

The Elder Law attorneys at Burnett Wilson Law have experience dealing with all of these issues. They know what to expect when navigating the world of senior services, and they take great care to be sure that their clients receive expert advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

“Many of our clients have been with us for multiple generations,” says founding partner Anne Burnett, “and we take great pride in the fact that they choose to rely on us.”

All Your Senior Living Resources – In One Place!

CCA Home Care (ccahomecare.com) is an in-home care agency providing a Nurse Registry, in which they screen and refer CNA caregivers who work directly for their client as an independent contractor. The care is client-directed, ensuring the specific daily needs of your loved one are being met. With no hourly minimums or up-front deposits, CCA Home Care is affordable and can fit budgets of all sizes.

CCA Home Care 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!

Everyone wants to continue to be healthy and live comfortably as they age. These local businesses and experts have the tools and resources to help you and your loved one do just that. From assisted living communities to home care to elder law, they each have so much more for senior living than what we can fit on paper, so be sure to reach out to them to learn more about what they can offer to you and your family.