Senior Living in Omaha, NE
The winter months are tough for a lot of us, but can be especially difficult for those among the senior population. This time of year, the Strictly Business team makes it a point to consult with our local professionals in order to offer guidance for seniors and their loved ones and report on all of the area resources that are available. From what do to when you’re gathering together for the holidays and notice signs that a family member’s health has declined or taking that opportunity to discuss plans for the future, to exploring options for respite care and companionship; from things to do in our community geared specifically towards fellowship and staying active/involved to the powerful impact that volunteering can make on the lives of others over the course of the next few months – our local experts have made sure to cover all of the important bases.
This month in particular, most of us are blessed to be amongst family and friends. We share meals, play games, honor traditions, catch up and simply enjoy the company. We travel if necessary, going to great lengths to make it “home” for the holidays. With so much going on throughout the year, it’s indeed a challenge for such a feat to happen any other time. As such, it’s important to take full advantage, and that extends to certain things to keep in mind with respect to our senior loved ones.
“As you gather with family over the holiday season it can be a good time to evaluate how your loved ones are living,” recommends Michaela Williams of Care Consultants for the Aging. “Nutrition, hygiene and safety issues are areas that should always be looked at. Are your loved ones able to make meals on their own? Can they dress and bath themselves? Are you concerned about their balance or a fall risk? If you have concerns then it is wise to look at what options are available. Care Consultants produces an ElderCare Resource Handbook that provides a complete listing of senior services in the Lincoln and Omaha Metro areas respectively. These are available in print and can also be viewed online at www.careconsultants.com.
Today, a move to a senior living community will be among the options, but not the only one to be considered. Finding a caregiver to check in on your loved one is a great way to ensure a senior’s needs are being met and also helps avoid isolation. Caregivers can help keep seniors active and engaged in the activities they enjoy. Care Consultants can find caregivers to help with medical and non-medical needs and they can work from one to twenty-four hours a day.”
Erin Endress of Remington Heights also addresses the importance of keen observation and taking extra safety precautions during the winter months. “Holidays are an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, and to observe potential safety or wellbeing issues before they become a problem. Falls are often a concern in the winter. When visiting a senior loved one’s home, look for and address potential safety hazards, including loose rugs or slick floors, missing hand rails, or excess furnishings or decorations that may crowd walkways. Remington Heights is offering a free Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 and all are welcome to join.
As previously noted, nutrition is another concern. Does your loved one eat regular meals? Does he/she need assistance with shopping or food preparation? Meals on Wheels and senior community centers are well-known resources providing nutritious meals for seniors. If grocery shopping or food preparation is difficult, a senior living community may be a good option. Many independent and assisted living communities provide nutritious, hot meals for residents. At Remington Heights, we offer three meals a day, 365 days a year. Our residents and guests are served restaurant-style, and are presented a wide variety of menu options. Seniors from the community may join us for delicious meals, planned and prepared by our certified chef, for a small fee.
Remington Heights also offers many events and fitness classes, free of charge, to seniors in the community. In addition to weekly strength training and aerobic classes, we are certified providers of the Rock Steady Boxing program, designed to strengthen and empower men and women who have Parkinson’s disease. We invite seniors in our community to join us for a wide variety of programs featuring musical entertainers, educational programs, and dinner parties too.
Please call (402) 493-5807 for more information about any of the topics I’ve covered or to request our monthly invitation postcard.”
Also offering tips on avoiding the winter blues and staying healthy throughout the next few months, Julie Laughlin of Home Nursing With Heart adds, “Enjoy some type of exercise or activity regularly. Whether you go for walks to exercise your body or do crossword puzzles to exercise your mind, activities in general are beneficial for keeping you feeling vibrant. Also, keep an open mind about the aging process. As we grow older our bodies go through changes. Coping well with these changes will make life better. Lastly, always try something new. When we try a new hobby, make new friends, or even volunteer, trying something new provides benefits like increased energy, mental clarity, and overall feelings of vitality.
Circling back to options for in-home care, respite for family caregivers during the holidays is critical to ensuring the health and happiness of all during a time that’s already packed full of things to do. While you may just need help with non-medical services, it’s nice to have someone around who can provide medical care and support as well.
Seniors want to stay at home at all costs and an often overlooked service is in-home care, which is oftentimes covered by Medicare. In addition to the host of services provided, these are professionals who can also help to regularly evaluate the home environment. As such, they are able to make suggestions that will allow the client to continue to stay in their home as long as possible, or alternatively, will alert all parties as to when a higher level of care and support should be considered. When challenges are identified we work with the patient, their family, and many times a medical social worker, to help make the best choices for the patient and ensure they stay safe and happy.”
In agreement, Connie Chisholm of Immanuel notes, “Many times our senior loved ones are resistant to accepting offers of help with every day activities like house cleaning and maintenance or food preparation. However, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is a great time to offer assistance with meal and party planning, home winterization and gift shopping to help take the stress off the senior while providing the much-needed help.
In addition, it is not uncommon for seniors, in particular, to become a little sad around the holidays and throughout the winter months. They may be missing loved ones or longing for the outside activities they enjoy in the warmer season. It is critical for emotional, mental and physical wellbeing to continue normal activities as much as possible. All of the Immanuel communities have a pretty full activity, event and wellness calendar each month. During the holiday season this calendar is expanded to include more special entertainment and intergenerational activities and holiday gatherings.”
The feelings associated with loss are unfortunately magnified during the holidays, a time when we tend to relive fond memories of the past. While this certainly doesn’t follow any age requirements, seniors do constitute the majority of this particular group for the simple fact that the longer we live, the higher the chance that a loved one has passed before us.
Although it may seem appealing to skip the holidays all together after the death of a loved one, there are coping strategies available that will allow you to lean into your grief and promote healing while being able to incorporate your loved one into these special days if you choose. Here are a few suggestions:
- The first year is usually the hardest. Because one doesn’t know what to expect, approaching the holidays for the first time can be overwhelming.
- Plan ahead and discuss with family members as needed.
- Allow yourself, and others, to grieve in their own way.
- Take charge of your social life. Instead of avoiding social gatherings, consider attending ones where you’d feel comfortable and supported.
- Scale back. Grief can be exhausting-mentally, physically, and emotionally so don’t over-commit if at all possible.
- Honor your loved one’s memory. Go around the table and share a story, light a candle in remembrance, look at photo albums together, or make a donation in his/her name, etc.
- Consider attending a support group.
- Be gentle with yourself. Accept that feelings of anguish are difficult to avoid during the holiday season. Do not expect too much of yourself, and recognize that you are doing the best you can.
- Draw comfort from doing for others.
In addition to feelings associated with loss, seniors may not be able to get together with family and friends as they had in year’s passed, which can be equally difficult.
“The holidays are a particularly difficult time of the year not only because of the winter blues, but also because time with family has always been an important part of everyone’s holiday,” says Lisa Arp of SilverRidge Assisted Living & Memory Support Community. “What we do here at SilverRidge in Gretna is provide a party room for family members and residents to reserve and host their holiday parties. Depending on the health of the resident, it is often hard to have them leave the facility. When the party comes to them, it is easier to celebrate with all loved ones involved and still have the senior in a comfortable environment with no risk of accident or injury.
During the holidays at SilverRidge we have a tradition that was started by our mother, Karen Sedlacek. We are family owned and operated — my brother Dan is our Executive Director, my brother John is head of maintenance, my sister Lori is head of activities and I’m in charge of our marketing. Our mother Karen was a geriatric nurse before she retired. She understood how residents felt during the holidays and thought we needed to make our facility a little more festive during the holidays. She started by putting a tree in every common area in the facility and it has grown from there. Mom passed away six months ago and we are keeping her tradition alive. This year we will have close to 20 trees in the facility. All mantles decorated like home, complete with animatronic carolers, angels and nativity scenes. Tradition is important to us and we know it is important to our residents too. We love sharing our traditions with them as well as having them help us create new ones together.
Again, to reinforce a common theme, if you are visiting your loved one during the holidays and you notice a decline in their health, get them to the doctor as soon as you can. By a decline I mean that the house is not cleaned, there’s rotten food in refrigerator or sink, dishes aren’t done, you notice an odor or they have not showered, and so on. Basically you are looking out for anything that would appear to be out of the ordinary for them. This is especially important if you are visiting from out of town and do not see them often. Early detection for any issue is key as your loved one may simple need a little bit of assistance, a home health aide, relocation to assisted living, or it could be something more serious. It may be hard to get them to go, but in the long run, it will lead to a better quality of life and longevity in life.”
Holiday Volunteering Spotlight:
There’s truly no better feeling than giving back, during the holidays or any other time of the year. There are many fantastic causes to support with your time and talents, and those that benefit seniors in our community who are in need are on that list.
“The winter months can seem long and volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and remain active when it is cold outside. Many organizations rely on volunteers and are always looking for people that are interested. Realizing what tasks you enjoy doing and finding a volunteering opportunity that matches those should help in making volunteering a habit. The ElderCare Resource Handbook offers a listing of local volunteer opportunities and can be viewed at www.careconsultants.com.” – Michaela Williams, Care Consultants for the Aging
“Volunteers are crucial in contributing to quality of life for seniors, especially in the winter months post-holiday season. After the activity of the holidays is over, seniors may be at risk for loneliness or depression. They may need additional assistance with activities like shopping or chores when winter weather rolls in. Volunteers bring friendship to lonely seniors, and regular visits give seniors something to look forward to. Community 360° is a nonprofit organization that screens and trains volunteers for residents of long-term care communities. They are a great resource for anyone who is interested in volunteering with seniors. Also, Remington Heights is currently seeking a volunteer for an hour or two every weekend to assist with a group activity. For more information about volunteering for Community 360° or Remington Heights, please call me at (402) 493-5807.” – Erin Endress, Remington Heights
“The presence and efforts of volunteers in our community truly make a difference for the seniors who call SilverRidge home. At SilverRidge we have several volunteers come to help residents with crafts and play games. Along with this interaction, it presents an opportunity for seniors to engage in meaningful conversation or simply the comfort of having someone who cares lend a listening ear. Our volunteers are also members of our Gretna community, and many are members of the Gretna Senior Center. The Senior Center comes to SilverRidge every first Friday of the month for Bingo, cards and lunch. These folks have become close to several residents, visiting on a regular basis and helping with activities at SilverRidge. We love all of our volunteers whether they are here for mass, church services, a helping hand, to be a friend or even to serve refreshments during entertainment. Volunteers play a huge role in the daily lives of our residents, especially those who do not have family. Anyone can be a volunteer. It’s just up to you as to how much time you want to spend volunteering. Reach out to your church, senior community, or non-profit organization serving seniors in your area to discover volunteer opportunities or to find a volunteer for a loved one. Of course, all are welcome to volunteer at SilverRidge, just give us a call!” – Lisa Arp, SilverRidge Assisted Living & Memory Support
The holidays are a time of celebration for all to enjoy, but for the seniors in our community, it’s often a case of taking the good with the bad. As is evident based on the wide variety of information provided by our local professionals, there’s a lot to think about and be aware of during an already busy time of year when it’s easy to get caught up in our own stuff of life. We encourage everyone to take a step back and be thoughtful of those who may easily get overlooked during all of the hustle and bustle while also looking to the future and planning accordingly for what’s to come. But above all, your thoughtfulness, generosity, assistance–even just your presence–means the world to our elders.