Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead

As you know, it is virtually impossible to predict the exact time when a disaster will occur. Many of us can easily put an emergency kit together with a point and a click on an emergency kit website and our kits are delivered to our doorstep within a couple of days. When we send our children off to school we expect that during a disaster or emergency they will be cared for by trained staff regarding their safety, welfare and comfort.

 

However, how often do we stop to consider the same levels of preparedness for our aging loved ones in their Assisted Living community? The next time you stop in for a visit consider asking some emergency preparedness questions. Their answers may calm or concern you. Either way you’ll be able to make a plan of what role you will have in the event of an emergency and most of all what your expectations are of the community during a crisis.

 

Does the community have an emergency plan — and know that it works? An assisted living home must have a disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation plan approved by the state’s licensing agency.

 

Will the community be adequately staffed, no matter what?
There have been lockdowns of public transportation during weather events, terrorism threats or other crises. The staff’s ability to travel from their home to the community may be constrained by the emergency. It’s important to know if there’s a plan in place for adequate staffing during an emergency.

 

Will there be enough emergency supplies?
Find out how the facility stays supplied during an emergency and if staff prepare in advance. Will there be enough food and water? Are food and water supplies kept fresh? Are there extra medications for residents who will need them? Are there emergency generators and are they in working order?

 

Are there protocols to maintain clear lines of communication?
Find out in advance what the chain of communication is between staff and families of residents, and know where to look for updates. Some senior living organizations have centralized offices that collect information from individual communities experiencing a disaster and post it on the main company website or distribute it through emails to residents’ families.

 

How does the staff address residents’ worry when regular routines are disrupted?
Often when we walk by the rooms of assisted living residents, we see they are relaxing while watching their favorite TV shows. However, during a crisis seeing graphic images over and over on the TV can become overwhelming for older adults, especially for those with dementia. Inquire about what your loved one’s senior living community will do to help pass the time. Will they play games, tell stories or offer other engaging activities?

 

What are the community’s emergency evacuation plans?
Does the community have arrangements with other facilities in the event the building becomes inhabitable after a fire, flood or other disaster?  When your loved one moves into a community you’ll want to know whether it has this type of arrangement and with whom.

 

Knowing what a senior living community’s emergency procedures are and how to communicate during an emergency eases your worry and lets you focus on what you need to do at home. At the very least, make sure the facility has the information it will need to contact you, plus alternate ways to reach you if cell phones and telephone lines are down.

 

For more information about how to prepare, visit  National Preparedness or Red Cross.

 

2017 Cherie Henry and Catherine Camp

Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services

Low-Cost Options for Aging in Place

Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this hinges on many factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.

Safety Improvements:

  • Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
  • Handrails: on stairways, add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
  • Footwear: to prevent falls, non-slip shoes are preferable to slippers of socks.
  • Non-skid safety strips:adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
  • Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
  • Quality step ladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
  • Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.

Convenience Factors:

  • Hand shower: convert a standard fixed shower head into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
  • Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
  • Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
  • Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
  • Eating: specially-designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
  • Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically-designed options are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
  • Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
  • Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.

Lynn Mattecheck is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) with RE/MAX. You can count on her to guide you through the process of buying or selling your home. (503) 495-3258.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation is awarded by the SRES® Council, a subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). To learn more about SRES® and access various consumer resources, please visit SRES.org

Spring into Action

Winter is almost behind us and spring is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but that always makes me want to start some “spring cleaning.”   It seems like there are always projects to do, things that needs to be done.

In fact, when we are helping to care for others it can feel like there are so many things that need to be done.  There are projects and tasks to complete and at all the same time, even things to do that we don’t even know need doing.  Can you relate?

Often times, getting an answer to even just one question, can help to “make our day,” and even reduce some of the stress we feel.  Here are some questions you might have and tools for how you can “spring into action” to find the answer to one or possibly more of your concerns.
* My Mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.   Where can I find support and encouragement?  Check out  https://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/content/links/  . There are several great books written by authors who have dealt with family members with Alzheimer’s.

* I need to find some local senior care support in my County.  This link allows you to put in the zip code to find local resources. http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

* My Father lives alone.  I keep thinking if he fell, no one would know it.  I’ve heard of the emergency pendants, but which one is the right one?  Reviews.com has done quite a large review of medical alert systems. http://www.reviews.com/medical-alert-systems/

* My brothers and I have different ideas about whether Mom and Dad can stay in their own home now that they both have medical needs.   Is there anyone who can give us some advice?  Contact a Geriatric Care Manager.  http://www.aginglifecare.org/

* My Mother is 80 years old, in good health, but doesn’t have anyone close by to help her move. Where can I find help?   Contact a local Move Manager.   http://nasmm.org/

* My Dad was a Veteran.  Is help available for long term care for him and Mom?  Here are a couple of national groups that can help.  http://www.veteranaid.org/    http://www.veteranscarecoordination.com/

* I need to handle my parents’ Social Security.  Do I need authorization?  How does this work?  Become a Representative Payee.  https://www.ssa.gov/payee/faqrep.htm

* My Father is definitely having problems with driving.  Maybe it’s time for him to give up his license?  Check out this Link:  http://keepingussafe.org/

* I really should get more organized as it relates to senior care issues.  Is there a resource for this? There absolutely is.  It comes both as a downloadable interactive PDF and the Notebook version.  http://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/.

By Claudia Rumwell, Senior Care Organizer

Got the Music in Me

musicWith one in eight baby boomers expected to develop Alzheimer’s, care giving communities must continue to pursue ways to reach people where they are through music, art, athletics, pet therapy and even the way we use language.

No truer example of how music can touch detached residents than in a YouTube video called, “Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ.  (Get ready for the tear ducts to start flowing!)  This video has been viewed over an astonishing 6 million times. Obviously, loved ones and care providers are actively engaged in learning more about inspiring therapies as an instrumental addition to their care giving programs.

“Measure of the Heart: Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s,” is a memoir by author, broadcaster and former jazz singer, Mary Ellen Geist. She writes she always found a song to sing to her father at the start or the end of his day.

“Music changed everything in the way I was able to communicate with my father,” she said. “It made him come alive. I don’t know how it worked in the brain, but music seemed to cue him to wake up; he would remember verses, sing entire songs. It elevated his mood, but when he was done he didn’t remember what he did.”

We have found that Retirement Communities of every level use music as a part of their regular programing, including Adult Care Homes, which most people are not aware of.  The key being “from their era” or “age appropriate” music.  The music must mean something to the people hearing it. Won’t it be interesting to see how that changes as the different generations age?

At GPS we always make site visits to facilities prior to showing them to our clients. It’s imperative to provide our client’s with the opportunity to participate in daily activities and interests.  We know they can vary greatly from facility to facility and it’s clear to see and compare their offerings. As communities continue to embrace new ways of engaging their residents we look forward to telling you more about who is putting forth such programs.

by Cherie Henry and Diane Delaney of Golden Placement Services at goldenplacements.com