Senior Living in Omaha, NE – 2018

Retirement homes are not what they used to be. Professional chefs, personal trainers, organized events and activities, essential amenities, top-notch security and privacy—are we talking about a senior living facility or a 5-star hotel? It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, especially with the senior housing options we have here in Lincoln. However, no matter how luxurious or accommodating these places are, nothing can replace the sense of home that only our family and loved ones can give us.

If you have a family member living in some type of retirement or assisted the living community, don’t forget that you still play a crucial role in their physical, emotional, and mental health. With the holiday season around the corner, this is a great time to renew your commitment to the elderly loved one in your life. Or, if you are one of our senior readers, perhaps it is time you renewed your commitment to your own health and well-being.

Making a Move

Moving yourself or your loved ones from the place that’s been home for years to an apartment in a senior living community is just a part of life, especially since for the most part we are all living much longer lives than our ancestors just a few generations back. That being the case, there are more communities than ever before, which means more options to consider.

Theron Ahlman CarePatrol of Nebraska - Headshot

Theron Ahlman
CarePatrol of Nebraska

Theron Ahlman with CarePatrol of Nebraska says, “When helping a senior individual and their family, I think finding a great community truly makes life more enjoyable and eliminates stress for everyone involved. Not only are there numerous benefits for the individual living there, but family members no longer have to worry about whether that person is safe and having his or her needs met.”

Looking ahead of time is the way to go, according to Ahlman. He says it is easier to plan ahead rather than being forced to look into a new place to live if an emergency occurs: “If it’s a rushed deal then you don’t get to enjoy finding your new home, your kids might be the ones picking out the community as you are in rehab and can’t go look, and you may not get the one you want as a room might not be available when you need it.”

With the weather being nice and the roads being easily accessible, he suggests looking now. He says another plus in checking out options includes being able to see what the home would look like throughout most of the year, specifically concerning flowers in bloom.

If you or your loved one wants to stay at home, Ahlman recommends reaching out to offer assistance instead of waiting to be asked, whether it be shoveling the driveway or giving them a ride to doctor’s appointments, family activities or otherwise. If you’re not available to help, a suggestion Ahlman offers is looking into transportation that can assist with getting you to the places where you need – or want – to be.

Above all, aside from emphasizing the abundance of resources that are there for you to use if and when you need them, Ahlman says planning is key. “You plan for retirement, plan for a wedding, and plan for almost everything else in life, so why not sit down and plan for the next step so you are prepared to make the move when ready?”

After finding the ideal place for you or your loved one, moving from a home into an apartment can be a daunting process. From sorting out belongings and downsizing to physically moving the items from one location to the other, and oftentimes putting some items in storage too, it takes a lot of time and effort.

After retirement, for those who are interested in moving, whether it be somewhere for a couple of months or permanently, it can be overwhelming. Let’s be honest, a move is a big feat no matter the age! People generally have a lot of items that they want to bring with them – after all, every item holds a memory or meaning. However, some items are things that will not be able to fit into apartments. This is a realization that can be hard to admit because of the connection people can have with certain items.

When downsizing for a move, the most important questions to ask yourself or your loved ones are “Do I need it?” and “Will I use it?” If the answer is no, then it becomes a question of what to do with it. Options include selling it at a garage sale, donating it, passing it on to future generations, or storing it while its fate is being decided.

Seasonal Safety Tips

With the colder months coming, more people in general are prone to falls because of snow, ice and sleet that will build up on sidewalks, stairs, roads and parking lots. As you might suspect, this correlates with more accidents occurring involving seniors throughout the winter months.

Before deciding to venture outside, whether it’s just a quick walk to the mailbox, an appointment in town, or to another state to visit loved ones, your safety should be a priority. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to for whatever reason, particularly if inclement weather poses a serious hazard. Or, ask your loved one to take you or accompany you instead of going it alone. For seniors especially, just one slip and fall can do serious damage, with the initial injury leading to further complications that may impede recovery.

Especially for those who choose to remain living in the place they’ve called home for many years, home safety is something that when in place, will provide peace of mind for seniors and loved ones as they go about their daily lives. It’s actually a great way to plan for the future, too.

By having an alarm system installed, having access to a personal emergency system, making any necessary modifications within the home, or otherwise, you have the ability to prevent accidents from happening or act quickly in the event of an emergency.

Daniel Ward

Daniel Ward with MediGuard mentions that it’s common for adult children to express concerns about the safety of their aging parents who continue to live at home. To that end, he notes, “More people are having quality conversations with their senior loved ones regarding safety at home, which is a great thing to see because it can truly make all the difference.”

He recommends taking the time to talk about safety issues within the home and identifying areas that could use improvement based on the person’s daily activities and needs. Some suggestions he provides are:

  • Handrails around the house and outside on the porch stairs and sidewalk.
  • Properly operating entry doors.
  • “Easy reach” access to frequently used items, like dishes.

Since better safe than sorry holds true here, Ward also highly recommends purchasing a personal emergency system. As technology as have advanced so have these systems, which have increased in popularity as they are convenient, discrete and easy to use. “Having protection when you are alone is becoming normal for many and it can be fun as well!” he adds.

He also provides a final word of caution. “When Mom or Dad are beginning to think about signing up for a service, they should be wary of signing an agreement or being asked to provide their credit card information over the phone. Instead of going with the first company you contact, look around and get information about several different options so that you can make the best possible decision. MediGuard carries a variety of the most popular devices and we help you learn which system is best suited for you without the need for a contract.”

Making Memories Together

Jinae Cherry Brookestone Meadows - Headshot

Jinae Cherry
Brookestone Meadows

Transitioning from fall into winter and the holiday season, during that time there are plenty of gatherings, parties and activities on the agenda for most. This typical family time is something we hold closely to our hearts—it’s the time in which memories are made and family bonds grow stronger. Jinae Attanasio with Brookestone Meadows says any opportunity can turn into a tradition or memory at any given time—you just have to see the opportunity and take it by the reins!

Also noting the abundance of these opportunities, Attanasio lists “pumpkin patches, fall festivals, hayrack rides and costume parties” as just a few good ideas of seasonal events to attend with loved ones. She also suggests turning everyday activities into bonding experiences, and suggests that this may even come about by asking for help or offering help to your loved ones.

“There is no shame in getting support from your loved ones; in fact, take the opportunity to turn it into a tradition or memory that your family will cherish for years to come,” she says.

In asking for help or providing assistance with daily chores or various tasks, you and your loved ones not only bond, but it gets checked off the to-do list and there’s an element of safety involved. One thing in particular that Attanasio recommends seniors get assistance with is decorating the home for the holiday season, specifically concerning high surfaces, ladders and hanging decorations out of reach, as these are ways that seniors could get hurt. Contrary to the holiday comedies, it’s no laughing matter when someone gets injured, and especially seniors who can experience complications with the healing process.

Going back to what was previously mentioned regarding safety during the winter months, she also offers a few words of advice. “Ensure that proper equipment and support is in place for upkeep of snow and ice such as proper shoe wear, snow blowers or assistance with snow removal. Our rehab department is very busy in the winter months, offering therapy services to those who were unfortunately involved in ice/snow related accidents.”

Are You Covered?

For seniors, having adequate insurance coverage is so important for a number of reasons, some obvious and some you might not think about until the time comes that you need it most.

The enrollment date for Medicare begins October 15 and goes until December 7, so you or your loved ones will want to be sure to take action soon if applicable. Now is the time to review your options for Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans for 2019. All Medicare beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to work with a professional insurance agent who will help you evaluate your choices and guide you through the process.

Jim Laughlin-Home Nursing With Heart

Jim Laughlin
Home Nursing With Heart

As far as planning for the future past that goes, there’s always going to be a bit of uncertainty. Jim Laughlin with Home Nursing with Heart is among the extensive list of experts in various fields who predict the cost of healthcare as one such issue. He explains, “Seniors are living longer and due to this, their retirement savings struggle to accommodate the extra years. This combined with the rising cost of healthcare creates a challenging situation for not only the senior, but the family as well. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has resources and tools to help find ways to offset these financial burdens.”

Another concern for seniors, he says, “is the result of cancer and heart conditions like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure or any other acute health issue. When disabilities arise, the independence of the senior is compromised. Although hopefully they can overcome the disability, sometimes they cannot. In this scenario, major decisions regarding living arrangements, costs, government support, and family support must be made. I’ve always been a proponent of the services provided by CareMATRIX for help with these decisions as well as seeking guidance from a medical social worker, as there are a wide array of support options many people aren’t aware of out there.”

Laughlin says he often talks to seniors who are concerned about how to pay for skilled nursing and therapy services at home. “Seniors have worked their entire life paying into the Medicare fund,” he says. “It’s time they take advantage of the benefit they’ve earned. Their generation tends to fend off the thought of asking for help but this is a benefit they’ve earned for themselves. If skilled nursing and/or therapy services are needed at home, you are welcome to contact Home Nursing with Heart and we’ll help you figure out what would be covered and for how long, etc.”

Starting the Conversation

So, with all of this to consider, how prepared are you for the upcoming months? Do you know if your senior loved ones or prepared or what steps they are planning to take?

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging - Headshot

Kyle Johnson
Care Consultants for the Aging

“In my line of work, lack of preparation is something I see often,” Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging says. “It can present a number of problems for people depending on the circumstances. As we all age, life just becomes more difficult. People who are more understanding and aware of their personal care changes are the ones who seem to do best when sudden changes occur.”

While gathered around the table, starting the conversation of moving you or your loved one into a retirement facility is a conversation that is hard. It’s a discussion that could go either good or bad, depending on how it is approached. But regardless of how you feel it might go, it should be approached sooner than later, and with everyone involved if possible, most importantly the person at the center of the conversation.

Robbie Nathan
Bridge to Better Living

“Your loved ones need to be a part of the decision making process,” emphasizes Robbie Nathan with Bridge to Better Living. She recommends discussing the options in small portions, then giving everyone time to think things over and waiting patiently for a response.

Nathan says when discussing options family members should relate success stories of seniors who have moved into a community to your loved one, as it could help them worry less about being unhappy in a new home.

She suggests using the help of a third party such as Bridge to Better Living to be certain all options have been considered. “Bridge to Better Living knows once the family is on board about a move to a Senior Living Option, such as Independent, Assisted or Memory Assisted it is time to continue the conversation and move to the next step even if the senior is not entirely positive about a move.”

Individuals and family members do have the option to tour communities with one of Bridge to Better Living’s Transition Consultants if it would help them feel comfortable and more secure in their decision. “We will set up tours and accompany them on the appointments. Pictures of the community are able to be taken and reviewed by the family and their senior,” she says. She adds by doing so an open and ongoing conversation is possible and all individuals involved in the process will trust the decision to have a new home is in the best interest of the Senior.

When discussing the option to move, remember to focus on the positive aspects – in almost all circumstances in life, attitude determines outcome. When living in a retirement community, seniors have more social opportunities on a daily basis. “Retirement communities offer many opportunities for social interaction, even for true introverts. If a resident prefers a ‘one-on-one’ activity, the staff is able to provide something based on the person’s interests. It’s important to keep the brain engaged, especially during the winter months ahead when days are shorter,” she adds.

Take for example someone who really enjoys cooking. Nathan mentions some communities offer full-service kitchens so seniors are still able to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, cooking favorite recipes in the kitchen and preparing for the family meal.

Concerts and plays are common events many seniors enjoy, she notes. “There is usually a sign-up list, everyone is notified and reminded, and transportation is arranged. Churches offer group activities throughout the year too. For those living in a retirement community, the staff not only make reservations for the events going on in the community and create a corresponding transportation schedule but also work hard to put together a great schedule of in-house activities as well.”

We hope your cup runneth over with all of truly wonderful parts of life, especially this holiday season, and may you also take full advantage of the time you are giving with the most important people in your world. You might find yourself needing to get down to business and face some tough realities, and that’s okay—it’s a part of life for all of us. When you need a helping hand, be sure to reach out to the local resources here in Omaha, because doing it together is so much better than doing it alone.