We are told to “expect the unexpected,” – but how does one do that, really? Unplanned life changes can be uncomfortable and come with a string of emotions, ranging from anger and fear to helplessness and worry. It’s common to feel a sense of loss that comes with unexpected changes, as we are pulled away from what is familiar and comfortable. For seniors and their loved ones who find themselves in these situations, life can be challenging for some time as adjustments are made.

Local individuals offered some words of wisdom and encouragement for us to share with our readers, seniors, and their loved ones who want to prepare for the event of unexpected changes – or those who may be going through unforeseen changes right now.

Home Adjustments Made Simple

When something unexpected alters life’s direction, changes around the home may need to be put in place in order for you or your loved one to adequately adjust. The changes that matter the most to our aging loved ones are typically the ones that threaten independence, which can result in difficulty adjusting to a new way of life. A convenient way to keep independence in place while still making things easier for your aging loved one is through the help of ShelfGenie (shelfgenie.com). With ShelfGenie, everything is within reach using their custom Glide-Out shelves. Their storage solutions are custom-designed to add more space, more organization, and more accessibility to your existing cabinets.

Jay Durmaskin

“One of our designers will visit your home to generate a 3D rendering of your custom solution in real time,” explained franchise Co-owner Jay Durmaskin. “We use this to build your custom-made designs and provide an estimate right there on the spot. After production is finished, an installer returns to your home to put the product in place, and you can enjoy your newly organized space by dinnertime!”

ShelfGenie’s solutions are available for the kitchen, pantry, bathroom, closet, and creative spaces such as the office or craft room, spirits and wine cellar, or other custom layouts.

“While many of our customers come to us because they have difficulty getting into their cupboards and drawers due to an injury or surgery, our solutions are helpful for anyone who is aging and may have some trouble getting around,” Jay explained. “We encourage you to plan ahead for this time of your life by implementing our solutions into your home. Even if you aren’t able to plan ahead, you don’t have to worry about waiting months to have our shelves arrive; you can expect to have the product produced and installed in your home within four to six weeks after your original consultation, and installation takes less than a day.”

Minimize the Stress with Immanuel

Often, when a senior faces an unplanned medical event, once the acuteness subsides, they will quickly begin thinking of recovery. If there is not someone in the home who can be a caregiver, short-term rehab may be the answer. Immanuel (immanuel.com) offers individual short-term or rehab care at Newport House and Lighthouse in Omaha on the Immanuel Village and Lakeside Campuses.

Connie Chisholm

“Immanuel is deeply rooted in Nebraska,” said Director of Communications Connie Chisholm. “We were founded in Omaha over 130 years ago and since then have been committed to a not-for-profit mission. What this means for residents and their family is they can be confident and know that we are dedicated to what is in the interest of those we serve. We consistently invest directly into enhancing programming, updating our buildings, and supporting other like-minded community organizations. It’s the difference in knowing decisions are being made in the best interest of those who matter most – seniors.”

Immanuel has found that the best way to minimize stress for both seniors and their families during times of change is to start planning sooner rather than later. Know the senior living options and create a plan – even if it is a rough plan. The best way to begin this process is by visiting a few senior living communities to see how it feels for you or your loved one prior to being faced with an immediate need.

“At Immanuel, we have 16 communities on 11 campuses in Omaha and Lincoln, as well as Council Bluffs and Des Moines, IA,” shared Connie. “They all have a different feel and flavor. While each of our communities may be all different in name and location, the care and service remain the same: Christ Centered Service to Seniors, Each Other, and the Community.”

Protected Storage for Years of Memories

If an unexpected event results in your loved one moving into a senior living community, some downsizing may be required. This is likely to be difficult for your loved one, as not only is life changing for them suddenly, but they are now being asked to leave behind items that contain years’ worth of memories. Rather than selling or tossing out these mementos, consider renting a storage unit at Lockbox Storage (lockbox-storage.com). Owned and operated by McGregor Interests, Inc., Lockbox Storage provides indoor and outdoor storage solutions for all of your storage needs. They offer a variety of different unit sizes and features that come with each space so you can find storage to fit your needs.

Geoff McGregor
Lockbox Storage

“We have 10 locations between Nebraska and Iowa, each of which is fully fenced with a full-time manager, security cameras, electronic gate access, and bright lighting to provide superior security for your belongings,” shared Owner Geoff McGregor. “Your loved one’s possessions are invaluable, and we take that seriously. Lockbox Storage will allow you and your loved one to ensure that these possessions and the memories that come with them will be kept safe.”

Lockbox Storage has climate controlled units that place special emphasis on humidity control, which is vital to storing some of those heirloom pieces of furniture that might not be as functional when downsizing to a senior living facility. They also have RV and boat storage, 14’ doors, power and lighting, temperature controlled spaces, and drive-up or pull-through unit options.

“In addition to space for rent, we provide packing supplies, protection plans, and locks along with complimentary hand-carts and dollies for rent to make moving easier,” said Geoff. “Lockbox Storage offers a 5% discount at any of our sites for senior citizens all year long. Plus, to ensure you aren’t traveling far out of your way for storage, we have five locations throughout the Omaha area to provide convenience for you and your loved one.”

Omaha’s New Active Lifestyle Community

Ovation Heartwood Preserve (ovationbyavamere.com) is an urban, upscale, active lifestyle community where independent living, assisted living, and memory care are inspired by life and Omaha’s interwoven history and scenery. The community provides resort-style amenities designed with their residents in mind. These amenities include the 360 Social Club rooftop deck, multiple restaurants including 1863 fine dining, an immersive and soothing pool, complimentary concierge services, exclusive wellness and fitness classes, cultural and entertainment experiences, and so much more.

Stephanie Grade
Ovation Heartwood Preserve

“Ovation is opening this month, and we are so thrilled to officially be able to share our passion for others with the senior community here in Omaha,” shared General Manager Stephanie Grade. “We offer easy access to 80 acres of parks, trails, and green space; different choices of dining; concierge and valet services; customized fitness classes; cultural and entertainment experiences; and much, much more!”

Stephanie encourages anyone who is interested in being a part of the Ovation community to reach out soon to begin planning ahead. This way, in the event you find yourself or your loved one in need of assisted living sooner than anticipated, for example, your plans have already been made and you can feel confident in moving forward in this next chapter.

Planning ahead for these events also makes it easier for the family as a whole to adjust to the changes, as they can know what to expect from Ovation and how the community will benefit their loved one.

“Our community relations team would be happy to set up an appointment with you to answer all of your questions about Ovation,” shared Stephanie. “We understand that moving yourself or a loved one to a retirement community may seem daunting, which is why we do not put you under an obligation or any pressure to complete the process. There is no risk, since reservation deposits are fully refundable!”

Safe and Secure Memory Care

Alzheimer’s and other dementias progress differently in each individual diagnosed. For some, the decline may be very rapid and sudden. In the event your loved one with dementia unexpectedly needs additional care, Prairie Meadows Alzheimer’s Special Care Center is a wonderful option, providing exceptional person-centered holistic care to residents with cognitive impairment.

Don Woods
Prairie Meadows

“We pride ourselves on offering a 24/7 on-site nurse,” said Marketing Director Don Woods. “This goes far beyond the minimal regulations of eight hours a day, and it eliminates any stress and anxiety a family may have when placing their loved one in memory care.”

Residents at Prairie Meadows are encouraged to stay active by being involved in the various activities offered at the senior living community. For example, Prairie Meadows has a variety of different clubs seniors can partake in; Book Club, Park Club, Singing Club, Walking Club – you name it, they have it! They strive to meet the interests of their residents in addition to taking them out for fun outings, such as a day spent fishing on the boat or a trip to the casino to try their luck. When your loved one goes to Prairie Meadows, you can rest assured that they will continue to be as active as they were before, with options and activities designed to meet their interests.

The Agemark (www.agemark.com) family of senior living communities in the Omaha area – CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care and The Meriwether – offer a range of short- and long-term care options, including supported independent apartments, assisted living, and secured memory care, all in home-like surroundings.

Marcia Houchin
CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care

“There are many types of care and sometimes the hardest part is knowing which is needed – skilled, rehab, assisted, in-home chore or companion services, home health, memory support, or even hospice – so a thorough needs assessment is your first step,” said Marcia Houchin, vice president of life enrichment at Agemark. “Once your loved one’s doctor or other care provider has recommended additional care, you can begin looking. In addition to searching online and checking reviews, be sure to ask friends and family who have gone through this before, or if you belong to a church family, ask about a parish nurse program. If your loved one is being discharged from the hospital, the transition care team will be an excellent resource.”

Marcia also suggested contacting a local consulting company whose sole focus is helping families find the right place for someone who needs more care, or visiting the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ website (dhhs.ne.gov) to view a roster of licensed care facilities. For those that choose an Agemark Senior Living community, Marcia says family can rest assured that their loved one will be highly prioritized.

“Every effort is made to welcome your family to ours, accommodate personal preferences, and help make each day the best it can be through our state-of-the-art life enrichment program,” said Marcia. “Our free transportation service helps residents stay connected to the people and places they love. And because family is so important, we offer educational programs and regular family events as well as Caregiver Connections, a monthly meeting to support those who are caring for a loved one with dementia conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Finally, we offer LifeLoop for families, which keeps them ‘in the loop’ through weekly updates and one-on-one messaging.”

Prolong Independence at Home with a Caregiver

Staying independent in your own home is something we all strive for as we age, so an unexpected event, such as injury or illness, that threatens this independence can be not only hard to accept, but hard to adjust to. This is where CCA Home Care (ccahomecare.com) steps in. They screen and refer independent contracted caregivers who work for families and provide client-directed care, ensuring that you make the decisions regarding your care for that of your loved one.

“CCA Home Care is the state’s largest home care registry,” said President and CEO Kyle Johnson. “The caregivers we provide work privately for clients who are in need of additional help. Many of these caregivers are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and services through CCA are paid for on an hourly basis. Rates typically range from $21.50–$28.50 per hour, depending on length of visit, care needed, and client location.”

Another wonderful feature of CCA Home Care is their ElderCare Resource Handbook. Many refer to this handbook as the “Bible” of the industry, as it is comprised of companies that offer services to seniors, split up into six main categories. The ElderCare Resource Handbook is published in both Lincoln and Omaha so that you can find the best options for you in your specific location. If you don’t have a printed copy, you can find each book online at OmahaHandbook.com or LincolnHandbook.com. Advertisers throughout the book allow CCA Home Care to print and hand out thousands of copies each year at no cost to the end user.

“Change is always difficult, no matter what your age,” Kyle concluded. “Our biggest advice is to ask for help when you see that change is necessary. Accepting a helpful hand when it’s offered might allow you to stay independent in your home for a longer period of time. Many in the industry are here and ready to help when needed.”

Stay Comfortable at Home

If a loved one in your life has suddenly been faced with the need for additional care, help them to stay comfortable within their own home by working with Key Home Care (keyhomecare.us). Their trusted and verified caregivers are available 24/7 for seniors living in their homes. Key’s main objective is to provide quality care and put every effort into making sure seniors get to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Their home care services include personal care, round-the-clock or 24-hour care, bedside sitter care, respite care, hospice support care, and companionship.

Sandra Miller
Key Home Care

“It can be confusing or frightening to seniors when they move into new surroundings,” shared Owner Sandra Miller. “We can help you keep your loved one in their comfortable, familiar environment by caring for them at their home. In the event that your loved one does move into assisted living or ends up in the hospital, our caregivers will be there to offer companionship and reassurance. We understand you rarely have enough time to sit at the bedside for hours at a time – especially due to an unexpected event. We can be there for you.”

Rehabbing After an Injury or Surgery

Injuries come when you least expect them, and as you age, the healing process often becomes longer, leading to difficulties in living your day-to-day life. To get yourself or your loved one back into their pre-injury health and strength, visit See The Trainer (seethetrainer.com). They have a variety of sports medicine products that can help seniors recover after an intense injury or surgery.

Kristie Egan
See The Trainer

“We have a variety of helpful products that can assist someone going through rehabilitation after a major surgery or injury so that they can safely get back to their normal routine as soon as possible,” shared Owner Kristie Egan. “We understand that it would be challenging to have to adjust your daily routine for weeks or months due to something unexpected. Our products can help you through your recovery to ensure everything heals properly and you can get back to your pre-injury routine.”

Elder Law

The team of six elder law attorneys at Burnett Wilson Law (burnettwilsonlaw.com) has experience helping clients through all kinds of unexpected situations. These include helping with probate and estate administration when a loved one passes away, but also making legal and financial arrangements when a family member’s health situation, such as being injured in a fall, makes it necessary for them to move from their home to a rehab facility or nursing home, sometimes with only a few days’ notice.

“Situations like these can be incredibly stressful,” said attorney David Thompson, “and we do our best to help relieve that stress by joining the care team responsible for helping families make difficult health care and financial decisions.”

The elder law attorneys of Burnett Wilson Law are happy to provide initial consultations to help clients start preparing for the future and whatever it might bring.

We recommend reaching out to these local businesses to help you get through unplanned changes and adjust to the next chapter of life.