Making Changes to Meet Your Loved Ones’ Needs in their Golden Years
With National Assisted Living Week and National Rehabilitation Week both being September 13–19, and the entire month of September being World Alzheimer’s month, we thought it would be the perfect time to talk about senior-living options and services in Omaha.
Getting to the age when you or your family start talking about senior living can be the start of an emotional ride, for sure. Feelings of denial or fear are completely normal, but making a plan and knowing when to put it into play can help. Discussions about moving a loved one to an assisted-living facility can draw strong resistance. On top of that, about 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age every day—a rate that is expected to continue into the 2030s and equates to a growing need for retirement and senior-living communities. Many healthy, active individuals and couples plan to move to independent senior living so they can stop worrying about maintaining a big home and instead live out their retirement years enjoying love and laughter with like-minded family and new friends. The good news is that senior-living services and facilities for all levels of care are abundant in Omaha, and you won’t have to go at it alone. You may be able to help keep your loved one in the comfort of their own home by choosing a homecare option that meets their needs without a move. If, instead, they choose to move into senior living, there are also plenteous resources to help you both navigate the journey, from touring various communities to find the one that’s the right fit, helping you make your loved one’s new apartment and life feel like home sweet home.
Aging in Place
If you or your loved one wants to stay in your home but can’t safely abide the stairs or just don’t get around as easily as you used to, don’t despair. There are a variety of ways to help you regain your independence and dignity in your own home, and 101 Mobility has a wide selection of these helpful products. They include stairlifts, platform lifts, wheelchair ramps, handrails, home elevators, patient lifts, auto lifts, bath-safety products, automatic door openers, lift chairs, power scooters and chairs, and more. Wherever you have restrictions, limitations, challenges, and frustrations, the 101 Mobility team in Omaha expertly designs and installs the most favorable solutions.
“While moving to an assisted living facility is perfect for some, there are many benefits to aging in place,” said 101 Mobility Franchise Owner Tom Riedl. “Many seniors have lived in their homes for years, sometimes decades. They are part of their neighborhood and community. Many people prefer to age in place, which is often more economical and less disruptive than moving.”
Among the most popular products that 101 Mobility offers are stairlifts. Many falls occur in the home on the stairs, and a stairlift allows a person to literally ride up and down the stairs while sitting down, thus reducing the risk of falls. A stairlift can be used to carry groceries and other packages up and down the stairs, too. Scooters and motorized power chairs are helpful for those who are unable to walk great distances, and 101 Mobility offers several models and styles, which can be used with an automobile lift so the customers can take their scooters or power chairs with them when they travel.
“For seniors who use a wheelchair or scooter, we have several products that will allow them to remain independent and be able to get in and out of their homes safely,” Tom said. “A wheelchair ramp is a great solution that allows access to their home, and 101 Mobility’s ramps are made with all-aluminum construction, so they are maintenance-free. If a ramp can’t be used due to space constraints, 101 Mobility can install a vertical platform lift as another solution. It’s a small elevator (often called a porch lift) that will transport a person and their wheelchair from one level to another and can be installed in a garage, outside, or built into the home.”
For customer convenience, 101 Mobility offers free home consultations and home-safety checklists to evaluate a home and help customers decide what they need to remain safely in their homes. Most products can be installed within a week, so once a need is identified they can respond quickly and get the appropriate equipment working for you. The products also are tremendously helpful to caregivers.
“Being a caregiver can be a difficult but rewarding experience, and 101 Mobility offers tools and products that make it possible for them to safely manage many day-to-day tasks,” Tom said. “Our products will help caregivers reduce the risk of injury to themselves and the individual for whom they are caring. The combination of a caretaker and the right equipment can extend the number of years that seniors can stay in their homes, aging in place.”
Home Nursing with Heart provides rehabilitation and skilled-nursing services for patients following a hospital, rehab-facility, or nursing-center stay due to surgery, injury, or illness. Maybe the best part is that they’ll come to you and provide you with the services you need right in your home.
“We’re a team of experienced therapists and nurses who specialize in caring for patients with a variety of cardiac, respiratory, neurological, and orthopedic conditions, in the comfort of the patients’ homes,” said President Julie Harding RN, BSN. “It is very important for people nearing retirement to begin planning for the likelihood that they will need more support as they age. Familiarizing themselves with local resources and services and having some plans in place will help to prevent you from making decisions in a crisis. It is never too early to start financial planning and become aware of the costs of in-home caregiving services, equipment, and independent/assisted living and long-term care options. Every county in the country also has an office on aging that provides services, including the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging in Douglas and Sarpy counties.”
Home Nursing with Heart provides professional staff that goes into the homes of their patients to treat various ailments, post-surgical conditions, and provide physical and occupational therapy. Medicare generally covers these visits financially for the patient. They can also evaluate the home environment and make suggestions for modifications so that patients are able to continue to stay in their homes as long as possible. Since most injuries and falls happen in the bathroom, bathroom modifications/safety equipment may need to be considered a priority. This can be as simple as grab bars, removing rugs, obtaining a toilet seat riser, and the like.
Not only does Home Nursing with Heart provide skilled nursing and therapy services, but they also have a social worker to help patients and caregivers navigate the healthcare system and assist with community resources and services. To provide the best care possible, they address any barriers or safety concerns and help advocate for their patients, as the need for services continues to increase.
“As the Baby Boomers continue to enter retirement age, the need for supportive health and community services will only continue to grow, and it can be very overwhelming to be a caregiver,” Julie said. “Home Nursing with Heart is one of the premier agencies in eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, and we are there to assist with short-term and long-term planning. Not only are we highly rated through Medicare, but we consistently win Best of Omaha awards each year. The thing that truly sets us apart, though, is the passion and skillsets of our clinicians. Our staff provides high-quality services and therapies and cares about the outcomes for patients and families who have trusted us with their care.”
The Gift of Caring
CareBuilders at Home Omaha provides in-home, non-medical services, not just for seniors but for people of all ages. They are dedicated to helping clients lead dignified, independent lifestyles in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Executive Director and Owner Brenda Ouellette said she has understood her purpose since a very young age to care for those in need, regardless of their age.
“It is a gift to be a servant,” she said. “To be trusted to care for something as intimate as someone’s healthcare needs is a gift and one that I am grateful to be entrusted with. The seed that was planted for me when I was 13 years old and all roads to this point have brought me to doing what I love as the executive director and owner of CareBuilders at Home in Omaha. Every person matters. Every life we touch matters. Every person who bestows upon me their trust becomes my focus and priority throughout our shared journey, and it is always my goal and mission to provide them whatever care and resources they need to stay home where they want to be and to provide their families the peace of mind knowing, in their absence, that their loved one is receiving the care and attention they themselves would give if they could.”
As in-home technologies help people stay in their homes longer than ever before, CareBuilders at Home delivers experience and options that support aging in place, allowing seniors to stay home safely and with the independence they enjoy, whether through safety-alert devices, medication management, electronic dispensers, or other assistance. They always have staff on-call to answer questions or concerns, too, and they provide everything from in-home specialized care to post-hospital and rehabilitation care, end-of-life care, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
“You are not alone,” Brenda said. “We are here to help care for your loved one at home and give your family the support it needs to manage the challenge of the changes you are faced with. CareBuilders at Home understands the struggles families face, and it is our mission to provide as much love and support to not only the client we serve but to their families.”
Abe Lincoln said, “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” If you’re 55 or older and looking for an active retirement or assisted-living option in Omaha, you’ll definitely want to consider Ovation by Avamere Heartwood Preserve (opening in 2021). Ovation is an active adult lifestyle village that offers independent-, assisted-living, and memory-care options at a level of service and sophistication that you’ll be challenged to find elsewhere.
“We see great opportunities in the Omaha area to provide baby boomers with a higher level of service and greater amenities,” said General Manager Stephanie Grade. “With the number of retirees growing, we anticipate the demand will grow organically with it.”
Stephanie recommends that you begin planning your retirement location years before actually moving in. When new properties are being built, however, putting a deposit on a property allows them to have the finest views, premiere location within the property, and the pick of layouts for personal preference. When planning for retirement living, she suggests beginning the process by thinking about what is most important to you. Is it fitness, wellness, culinary options, transportation, or other interests? Finding the right property depends on each individual’s preferences and what they see the perfect life being like in retirement.
“Ovation boasts incredible culinary venue options with restaurant-style menus, multiple menu items, and a micro market bistro that is open 24/7,” Stephanie said. “We also have a pool and fitness programs with certified exercise physiologists, plus a theater, art classes, cooking demonstrations, and vibrant activity programming. Those living at Ovation are part of a larger community, surrounded by an urban development full of family homes, vibrant shopping, history, and engaging culture. A lifetime of hard work and service is worth a standing ovation and the chance to engage at your own pace. Life happens here.”
If you’re looking for a Christ-centered senior-living option, you’ll want to be sure to check out Immanuel, which owns and operates 14 retirement-living communities on nine campuses, and three Immanuel Pathways PACE® (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) Centers in Nebraska and Iowa. Their 132-year history started right here in Omaha, and their nonprofit suite of retirement community brands ranges from affordable Classic Courtyards to their Lifestyle Villages and Signature Campuses. Whatever option you choose, however, there’s far more to prepare for than financing it.
“We see a lot of seniors really prepared in the financial aspects of retirement living but retirement is so much more,” said Immanuel Vice President of Marketing and Sales Jennifer Knecht. “It’s a major lifestyle change, and it’s important to plan for social and physical health in this new season of life.”
Especially during the last few months with COVID restrictions in place, Immanuel staff has learned just how important social and physical healthcare is for seniors. Pre-COVID, 43% of seniors said they felt lonely on a regular basis, which is proven to increase risk factors for physical and mental illnesses, including heart disease and dementia. During COVID and social distancing, Immanuel is seeing seniors—especially those who live alone—decline in health due to isolation.
“That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure you or your senior loved ones’ social and emotional health are a high priority,” Jennifer said. “Retirement communities can help. Even during social distancing, Immanuel team members have ensured that all residents get plenty of groceries, household supplies, and thriving, safe interaction. Our pastoral staff is on hand to talk with residents who feel uncertain, and our wellness and life-enrichment staff were busy creating care packages with puzzles, games, and activities, organizing social-distance exercises, arranging phone clubs for neighbors to connect, and helping residents reach out to their loved ones virtually.”
As baby boomers enter retirement, Immanuel is definitely seeing a demand for more choices, which is perfect as their retirement-living options span the spectrum to fit any lifestyle. While the number of options out there can be a bit overwhelming for retirees, Immanuel works to make it as clear as possible.
“We encourage families to ask a lot of questions when touring communities to know whether it’s a good lifestyle fit,” Jennifer said. “At Immanuel, our senior-living consultants work with families to determine the right fit and the right timing for a move. We know that one option doesn’t fit every lifestyle.”
Flexible In-Home Care
Care Consultants for the Aging (CCA) offers in-home care, wherever a client calls home, for increments of anywhere from one hour to 24 hours at a time. They provide tremendous flexibility to meet any client’s needs, without a minimum weekly requirement. What’s more, their rates are quite affordable, ranging from $19.50 to $23.50 per hour for everything from companion care to Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) care to providing medications, feeding tubes, colostomy and catheter care, as well as errands, laundry, and meal prep.
“Care Consultants for the Aging is a great resource for clients who may just need to start with help at their independent house with things like bathing and dressing to those who want to stay in their home and need 24/7 care,” said CCA Omaha Business Development Director Blake Thomas. “We also find that some seniors who are living in communities still require our services because in a community, they typically staff fewer caregivers per residents, so you will find us around Omaha in assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and independent-living communities. CCA also extends its flexibility by allowing booking or canceling inside a 24-hour window. We usually book the same day, including on weekends, so we’re truly 24/7 to meet the needs of any senior and their family.”
Amid the current COVID restrictions, CCA is finding that more seniors are staying in their homes because of the quarantines and the inability for them to have visitors inside communities. Care Consultants foresees home care always being in high demand, too, because so many seniors want to stay in the place they’ve called home sometimes for their entire adult lives. The families of those seniors who want to stay at home also appreciate that CCA supports family caregivers who need a break now and again.
“CCA helps prevent the caregivers from caregiver burnout,” Blake said. “We are able to provide support on a flexible schedule that works for the client and their family, and we manage caregivers for seniors to that part of the equation is taking off the plate of the family to manage.”
Navigating the Transition
Whether it’s for physical, emotional, or other reasons, moving your loved one into an independent or assisted living community sometimes may be the only solution you are comfortable with as a caregiver. If that is the case, Oasis Senior Advisors in Omaha is an excellent outlet for caregivers to find support in choosing the right place. Oasis Senior Advisors is a free senior-housing service to help individuals and families find the right senior-living community for them, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care options.
“Demand for senior-living options currently is high, especially due to the tremendous population of aging baby boomers, and it’s only going to continue to grow,” said Oasis Senior Advisor Jenny Trebold. “We provide an in-depth consultation, where we discuss things such as financial options, client lifestyle, and medical needs. Based on the consultation and our expertise, we recommend communities that we believe would be the best fit. We tour communities with the family and help answer any questions. Once they select a community, we make sure the transition into their new home is seamless.”
While each family has different priorities when selecting a senior-living community, typical ones include cost, type of care provided, location, and community activities. Oasis Senior Advisors allow clients to get a feel for the communities, which is a crucial part of the decision-making process. They rely on their cutting-edge OasisIQ™ software, as well as their extensive knowledge of the senior communities in Omaha to reveal the best option available to each specific client.
“Each family situation is unique,” Jenny said. “Some families can take more time in finding the right fit in a community. Unexpected life situations can occur and families and future residents need to make decisions much more quickly. Oasis can guide our clients through both situations and help ease some of the stress in navigating the senior-living industry, which can be a daunting task. We support our clients and walk hand-in-hand with them to reach the right solution—and our services are free!”
Kindness, Caring, and Faith
Another transition that comes with retirement is the transition to Medicare and other insurance products, which can be overwhelming, at best. That’s why Lisa Wilsey partners with Insurance Advisors in Omaha. She can help you take the guesswork out of the confusing insurance landscape and get you set with the plans that are best for your specific needs. That includes everything from Medicare Advantage to Medicare supplements, D plans, Medicare Part B enrollment, Affordable Care coverage, life insurance, dental insurance, cancer plans, spend-downs, Medicaid support, and more. Lisa goes above and beyond to protect her clients and make the process as pain-free as possible for them.
If you want to help seniors continue to thrive through pandemic restrictions, Lisa suggests that people take extra time out of their days to call their senior loved ones and send cards regularly so they have that to look forward to. In short, while Medicare is Lisa’s main business, when you hire her, you’ll find that kindness, caring, and faith are all part of the package!
With some 77 million baby boomers in the United States, 10,000 per day are turning 65—that’s 70,000 per week and more than 280,000 per month. Some will pursue independent living, and others will need assistance in some form or another. The Omaha senior-living sector is prepared for any scenario, with every service and living option that you can imagine. You’re sure to find the perfect fit!