Senior Memory Care
It is a humbling fact that many seniors suffering from memory loss who need attentive care do not get it. One study from the University of Michigan estimated that 1.8 million Americans over age 70 are never even evaluated for cognitive symptoms, let alone treated for them. For seniors experiencing memory impairment who are fortunate enough to have designated caregivers who are aware of their condition, many challenges may still present themselves. Not everyone is able to take on the demanding task of around-the-clock care. The good news is that a variety of excellent services exist in our community to help seniors and their families who are struggling with these challenges.
It can be overwhelming to prioritize all the many needs of seniors in general, but especially so when memory impairment enters the picture. These seniors and their caregivers face questions that range from who will prepare meals to whether or not new living arrangements are needed.
Fortunately, Care Consultants for the Aging has excellent tools to help you in your planning! Care Consultants has worked diligently for years to provide the community with easy access to excellent resources for seniors through their Omaha ElderCare Resource Handbook. The handbook topics include but are not limited to: government, medical support services, living options, senior resources, financial, therapies, and legal. Available online and in print and updated every two years, this comprehensive tool makes planning easy by being a one-stop resource for seniors.
Care Consultants also provides a Home Care Registry. They screen and refer caregivers who work for families. The care is client-directed, ensuring that you make the decisions regarding the specific care of your loved one. Kyle Johnson, president of Care Consultants for the Aging in Omaha, explained this more.
“Clients that we begin services with are typically just starting to notice the difficulties of living independently in their own homes and are starting to need assistance with their daily activities,” he said. “We are the largest Home Care Registry in the State of Nebraska and our model is different than any other home care provider available to clients. All of our caregivers are licensed CNAs and work as independent contractors for their clients. Before any caregiver is allowed to work with a client, they are run through all background checks, criminal history reports, work authorization in the United States, CPR certified, must carry their own professional liability insurance, and are bonded through our company.”
Determining Levels of Care
With all of the excellent facilities, communities, and services that are available in Omaha, you may need some help determining which form of care is right for you or your loved one.
“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 Jenny Trebold, senior advisor at Oasis Senior Advisors. “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.”
Jenny shared a few things we can look for that will help determine when a loved one may need memory care services, such as accidents occurring as a result of stoves or faucets being left on or becoming suspicious of others and refusing to take medication.
“Often, seniors can be resistant to what they see as losing their independence and may not wish to transition to memory care,” Jenny noted. “However, in many instances, memory care services can ensure the safety and security of your loved one, as well as provide a level of independence that he or she needs.”
If you don’t feel that it’s necessary at this time to move your senior into a residential community but you still need assistance in the home, Jim Laughlin of Home Nursing with Heart is a great person to talk to. Home Nursing with Heart brings competent and caring medical professionals to your bedside so you don’t have to leave your home. They also eliminate the frustration of asking endless repeated questions by keeping their team up-to-date and on the same page through their specialized home health software.
“At Home Nursing With Heart, we have an occupational therapist conduct a safety evaluation in the home and make specific suggestions to improve safety,” Jim told us. “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.”
We also visited with Jolee Urbanovsky, one of the amazing transition consultants at Bridge to Better Living. For Jolee, working with memory-impaired seniors is more than a job or career, it is a work of the heart. Like each of the staff members at Bridge to Better Living, Jolee has been touched by someone with memory loss, both personally and professionally.
“My grandmother taught me more about living life to the fullest than anyone,” Jolee shared. “She demonstrated how even if the body is failing, one’s mind and spirit can still be 100%. Her zest and fight for life taught me that nothing is impossible. She is why I do what I do.”
Bridge to Better Living understands how a diagnosis of memory loss affects an entire circle of family and friends, not just one person. When it is no longer safe for one suffering from this disease to stay at home and a move may be needed, Bridge to Better Living provides one-on-one guidance and assistance. They make the process of determining which level of care is needed comfortable and less stressful with the assistance of their transition consultants.
“A transition consultant visits the client and/or the family to determine the best choices for a community to meet their loved one’s needs and wants,” Jolee explained. “As consultants, we are with them through each step of the journey. They are never alone in the search when Bridge to Better Living is doing each step for and with them.”
Selecting a Place of Residence
Aging adults in Omaha can transition seamlessly through Hillcrest Health Services’ integrated system of care. We talked with Dr. Anna Fisher, director of education and quality at Hillcrest Health Services, to learn more about their innovative approach to improving the lives of their residents.
“An important element of maintaining a connection with a person with dementia is fostering greater engagement by facilitating team member and family interaction with the individual,” Anna explained. “Hillcrest Health Services prides itself on its memory support services and has implemented the Montessori method in dementia care, which can be applied to engage individuals, family members, and team members with strategies in various health care settings.”
“We have partnered with The Roberts Academy, the only secondary Montessori school (grades 7–12) in Nebraska,” Anna said. “This Montessori intergenerational school is actually located on campus at Silver Ridge Assisted Living in Gretna, making it the first and only secondary Montessori school in the United States located in a healthcare setting. This partnership is reflective of the commitment to using the Montessori method based on respect and dignity to all individuals and provides a prepared environment conducive to resident learning and engagement—one that encourages purposeful work to meet people where they are, providing a sense of community and belonging.”
With so many things to consider in regards to memory care for seniors, it’s comforting to know there are caring and qualified professionals available to assist you! If you’re a caregiver, don’t feel like you have to bear an overwhelming burden alone. There are a range of services at your doorstep that can bring you relief and peace of mind, and most importantly, they can help your loved one live out the rest of their life happier, healthier, and more comfortably.