Though there are still cold days ahead, we are all looking forward to spring as a time for growth and new life, a little spring cleaning, and getting a mental fresh start. This time of year is also a great time to reconnect with a senior loved one and help them realize a vision for a fresh, vibrant life in which all of their needs are met.
We’re excited to highlight some of the best senior living options in Omaha and hear insight from experts in the industry, but first, we’d like to share some life advice we were given by a few of our senior neighbors.
Who better than to offer wisdom on the topic of senior living than seniors themselves?
At 83 years young, Patty offered the following: “Our seasons are meant to be times of reassessing our objectives. We can live in a rut of repetition and play follow-the-leader, or we can turn into our own inner selves to see what is ahead. We cannot live by what we did, but we can find new objectives to improve our lives and those around us.”
When asked how to find purpose and vitality during challenging times, Patty advised us to get moving and take action!
“I am not a follower of any guru, but I associate myself with very active thinkers and lovers,” Patty noted. “Get out and exercise. Walk. Try something new. Don’t be afraid! I am not saying that it’s an easy journey, but how do you know without trying? Jump into that frying pan and hope it turns out! Help others that might be afraid like you are, and you’ll find your worries just go down the drain.”
We were also inspired by Gail, age 82. She pointed out that every person, no matter how old or young, has the power to determine that each day will be a great day!
“You can have a bad day, but it doesn’t mean you have a bad life,” Gail added.
We agree wholeheartedly with Gail. Life can—and should!— be great, even when we have difficult days. We feel that it is extra important to talk about living a vibrant and healthy life during this time of year when the winter blues strike and isolation creeps in. Seniors are especially affected by the cold weather and shorter days. Not to mention the icy conditions that make it even harder to get around.
The good news is that there are ways to combat these circumstances. For some seniors, that could mean relocating to an assisted living community or utilizing in-home care. If you are a senior or the loved one of a senior and you’ve never considered these options before, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start looking. This is why we recommend reaching out to the resources in our community that are designed to navigate you through this process with ease and confidence. Many of these resources are even free for seniors, such as Bridge to Better Living. We talked to the owner, Mary Ann Stallings, to hear her advice on senior living and how Bridge to Better Living can help.
“Winter truly takes our breath away with its dry air and shorter days,” Mary Ann said. “If you are depressed because of less daylight, turn on the lights for longer periods of time or purchase a therapy light. Pull out your calendar and make dates with friends to go to the movies, visit a museum, or have a few days in the sun. Plan to have an activity to look forward to in the near future. If you are tired of doing the planning yourself or exhausted because of housework, laundry, and the worry of home maintenance, call Bridge to Better Living and schedule tours of living options. Visit senior communities with a transition consultant and start to consider moving to a less stressful way of life. The only cost to you is time.”
Bridge to Better Living is a unique service offering expert assistance and guidance to its clients. Their transition consultants live the company motto of “Placement with Passion®” every day. In 2019, they were awarded the Better Business Bureau’s Small Business Integrity Award, revealing how valued and respected they are by both businesses and consumers.
“Our clients are able to rest assured knowing we will be with them through each call, question, or tour,” Mary Ann added. “They are will feel confident throughout the process because our trained transition consultants help them find the security they need in the midst of change.”
Being faced with a big life change is daunting, but with all the different communities and health care options out there, it can also be exciting! Seniors have more options for living and care than ever before. Hillcrest Health Services offers a wide range of senior living options, from independent living to intensive memory care. Their services touch almost 1,500 aging adults in the Omaha region every day.
“Since Hillcrest offers a variety of different service options, we welcome the opportunity for aging adults and their families to talk with us about those options and all of the possible paths they might consider as they age,” noted Jim Janicki with Hillcrest Health Services. “From assisted living and long-term care to our Caring Companions private-duty service, we have options to help seniors age their way. We even have an adult day center, The Club at Hillcrest Mable Rose, designed for individuals who live at home but could benefit from social contact with friends their age. We also know that helping a loved one through a transitional period can be difficult, so we offer multiple support groups to help family members and caregivers through these situations.”
It’s completely normal for seniors to need additional assistance with daily tasks but still not be ready to move into an assisted living community. If you’re a caregiver and you’re finding that your loved one needs more assistance and attention than your able to give, but you don’t want to feel like your forcing them in a direction they’re not ready to go yet, you should consider in-home care options.
Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging is a great person to talk to about this type of care. Him and his team have a lot of experience in this area, and they would love to the ones to help your situation.
“We are Nebraska’s largest in-home care registry,” Kyle said. “All of our caregivers are CNAs and they work directly for the client. The client is 100% in control of their caregiver schedule, and we do not require any minimum of hours or financial deposit to begin services.”
“Our caregivers can offer assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, walking/transferring, meal preparation, medication reminders, Alzheimer’s/Dementia care, hospice support, light housekeeping and much, much more!” Kyle exclaimed. “These are intensive tasks that can become too much for a family member who also works a full-time job or has kids to take care of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can end up hurting your loved one more than you’re helping if you try to do everything yourself.
Care Consultants also offers another resource that is easily accessible and filed with valuable information on senior living options specifically in Omaha: The ElderCare Resource Handbook.
“This is a publication that our office puts out every two years, and it has hundreds of resources for any elder care need,” Kyle informed us. “Please visit OmahaHandbook.com or stop by our office to pick a copy of your own.”
Whether it’s for physical or emotional reasons, moving your loved one into an independent or assisted living community may be the only solution you are comfortable with as a caregiver. Oasis Senior Advisors in Omaha is an outlet for caregivers to find support. The professionals at Oasis offer free senior housing placement services so you can find the right community that meets the needs of your loved one. Oasis Senior Advisors relies on their cutting-edge OasisIQ™ software, as well as their extensive knowledge of the community, in order to reveal the best option available to each specific client.
“If you have a beloved elder family member who needs more care than you’re able to provide, moving into an independent living community may be a positive solution,” addressed Oasis Senior Advisor Jenny Trebold. “Through Oasis, we are proud to offer a compassionate, personalized approach as we help you navigate the challenging process of selecting the perfect home for yourself or your family member. Our senior housing services are completely free and customized to your unique goals and specific needs.”
Seeking help is important, but often there are many things seniors can do on their own to improve their situation, even if they do need help with some things. There are almost always choices that a senior can make to bring some variety and vitality to ordinary days. With a little creativity, life can have some pizazz and flair that may have seemed to belong to a bygone era.
Julie Laughlin with Home Nursing with Heart offered her advice for seniors who want to maintain health and vitality during cold months.
“Keep active, not only physically but mentally,” she said. “Go for walks, even if all you do is take a trip around your house. Pick a small news article and read for 20 minutes—just something to stimulate your brain. It may still be too cold to go outside for certain outings and activities, but that doesn’t mean all activities are off limits. Personally, I don’t like to go to a museum or a movie when there’s good weather outside because I want to enjoy the weather. When it’s cold, this is a perfect time to enjoy indoor activities. Your brain and your eyes will benefit. Don’t forget to take advantage of senior discounts, either!”
The staff at Home Nursing with Heart love to help the seniors they work with live better lives.
“We have a very well-educated and experienced staff,” Julie said. “We also have a life coach nurse who calls our high-risk patients every day to check on them. When they’re unwell, she’ll call their primary care practitioner to let them know so they can get their patients to the hospital. Our staff are all trained and certified in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We get our social worker to see discouraged patients ASAP. They often don’t know about community resources. Many of them don’t communicate with their children. We may need to inform their kids that they’re not even eating. It happens. We keep people connected.”
There are many things seniors can do to stay mentally and emotionally upbeat and connected with the people and the world around them. Some ideas include:
- Keeping the view outside interesting for your homebound loved one. Place bird feeders, bird baths, or other nature attracting objects near windows where your loved one sits throughout the day. There’s something calming about watching nature happen in your own backyard, even when you can’t get outdoors.
- Getting out the crockpot. Nothing warms the heart and soul more than a hot, home-cooked meal. Help your homebound loved one enjoy their favorite winter comfort foods by creating crockpot freezer meals that they can throw in the crockpot throughout the winter months.
- Checking with your local library to see if they offer a visiting librarian service for homebound seniors, or being the librarian yourself and taking a fresh stack of good reads for your senior loved ones to enjoy!
- Having a black-and-white movie party. Check out a stack of classics from the library like A Philadelphia Story, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or It Happened One Night—or maybe some good old John Wayne westerns! Spend an evening enjoying a movie with your senior loved ones, and don’t forget to bring the popcorn!
- Getting out the old record player and vinyl records. Nothing will bring back the good times more quickly than favorite music from the past. It’s also the perfect catalyst for getting a little exercise on the dance floor (aka living room rug)!
Choose to stay positive and productive, and use this time to make a game plan so that when the warm days and fair weather do come to stay, you are prepared to enjoy them. Now is a good time to tend to bookkeeping tasks and budgeting, a time to schedule necessary appointments such as doctor’s visits for coming months, and a perfect time to plan outings and events for the warmer days ahead.
Staying connected is always important, especially during cold months when people tend to isolate. Choose to stay positive and productive, and use this time to make a game plan so that when the warm days and fair weather do come to stay, you are prepared to enjoy them. Now is a good time to tend to bookkeeping tasks and budgeting, a time to schedule necessary appointments such as doctor’s visits for coming months, and a perfect time to plan outings and events for the warmer days ahead.
You can help your senior loved ones by asking them for a general idea, even a single word, for the kind of experiences they’d like to have. Would they like to be more connected or active? Consider family and social events, taking a daily walk outside, or going on an outing such as a road trip, even if it’s only a half-day excursion to a nearby national park. Take tours of assisted living communities if a change of living circumstances is in order. Lincoln’s senior communities are staffed with caring and qualified professionals who are as eager as you are to help your loved ones build a happy and fulfilling life as they age.
Now is a great time to ask your senior loved ones what they value most and help them realize the life of their dreams! Remember to reach out to the many qualified and caring professionals in the area who can help make this dream come true.