Are you assisting an elder in finding a skilled nursing facility? If so, there are certain things you should be sure to look for or ask about on a tour. The presence or absence of these key features should figure into your loved one’s decision.
6 Important Attributes of a High-Quality Elder Care Provider
In the course of doing research online, visiting a skilled nursing facility in person and talking with its staff members, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
- Facility maintenance and cleanliness. How clean an elder care environment is will vary based on when you tour it. For example, if you arrive immediately after a scheduled cleaning, it should look great. If you take a tour just prior to the next scheduled cleaning, things won’t look quite so tidy. That’s to be expected. But, every elder deserves to live in a community that is generally well-maintained and clean.
- Staff compassion. If you see examples of staff members dealing with residents in a warm, friendly and patient manner, that is a good sign. On the other hand, if they seem rude or insensitive, that should raise concerns. If they are not compassionate when visitors are on site, how do they behave when nobody is around?
- Staff experience. When taking a tour, you should ask your guide about the experience level of the staff. It’s not necessary that everyone has decades working in a skilled nursing facility. But ideally, there should be some seasoned veterans in the mix who are experienced in dealing with any kind of issue that may arise.
- Services for current and future needs. It is important to know how well a community can handle an elder’s current needs. It is equally important to learn about services that the person might need in the future.
- State surveys and personal opinions. On your tour, you should ask about how the facility has scored on state-mandated inspections. You should also ask if you can talk with any residents and families about their experience. If for some reason that is not possible, you should see if you can find feedback online.
- Total costs. Each skilled nursing facility has its own way of breaking down its fees. Be sure that you understand the total cost your loved one will incur if they become a resident. The last thing they want is to get a bill with unexpected extra charges.
Finding The Right Community for Your Loved One
Finding a skilled nursing facility that meets all of an elder’s needs requires doing your “homework.” However, it is very much worth the effort. Our community at Greenhouse Homes at Mirasol is geared toward seniors who want to live in a real-home setting where they feel engaged, supported and appreciated. We’re proud of the positive environment we’ve created and welcome questions from elders and their families.
It’s true that January 1 is just another day on the calendar. But, the start of a new year does bring with it a sense of hope and optimism. That’s why we tend to make New Year’s resolutions. Many of the residents at our skilled nursing facility find that committing to completing certain tasks and making healthy lifestyle changes is a good challenge.
What Changes Will You Make in the Year Ahead?
From better health to greater peace of mind, there are many changes you can resolve to make in the year ahead. Here are some to consider:
- Eat healthier. There are a whole host of benefits associated with making, and sticking to, a resolution to improve your diet, from more energy to a stronger immune system. Focus on getting the amount of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, healthy fats and low-fat dairy recommended by your doctor.
- Be comfortably active. You should never take on more activity than your body can handle. But regular, reasonable exercise is good both for your body and your mind. Walking, riding a stationary bike, swimming laps and lifting appropriate amounts of weight are just some of the ways to be active.
- Regularly address fall risks in your environment. Falls are one of the biggest health risks for elders, and the risk grows each year as aging causes a natural decline in mobility. Commit to looking around your living environment on a regular basis and addressing any hazards that exist. It only takes a few minutes and may spare you a trip to the hospital.
- Share your feelings. Too often elders keep their feelings bottled up inside, as they don’t want to “burden” anyone. This is especially true of things like depression and anxiety. The team members at our skilled nursing facility are happy to talk with you about your emotions and can help you get treatment if that becomes appropriate.
- Make new friends. Our social connections are one of the things that support mental and emotional wellbeing. You can never have too many friends. And, the person you reach out to next year might just be in need of a new relationship, too, making it a true win-win.
- See your doctor more often. If you visit your physician regularly, good for you! If not, consider increasing the frequency of your visits. The earlier you catch medical issues, the easier they are to resolve and the more enjoyable life is.
New Year, New You!
Each new year gives us an opportunity for a “new lease on life.” At Greenhouse Homes at Mirasol, a skilled nursing facility in Northern Colorado, our focus is on helping residents enjoy productive, meaningful lives where they are continually growing and developing. We encourage residents to turn the calendar page to January with renewed enthusiasm and excitement for the year ahead.
For many elders, the most appreciated holiday present is the gift of time spent with loved ones. While that can mean simply sharing a meal and some “catch up” time at their elder care community, there are many festive holiday activities that families can enjoy together. That includes physical pursuits like walking and cooking as well as activities better suited to those with mobility challenges like storytelling and listening to music. However you choose to spend time with an elder, you can be sure it is appreciated.
Try These Fun Holiday Activities With Your Favorite Elder
Looking to share some holiday joy with a senior in your life? Here’s a list of great ways to connect:
- Help them decorate their living space. Whether they live in an elder care community or in some other setting, seniors love to “deck the halls.” Lending a hand makes it easier for them to get into the holiday spirit and gives them a chance to reflect on some of their favorite decorations.
- Sing their favorite holiday tunes. Many elders love to raise their voice in song. Make a list of the person’s favorite carols and get a copy you can play on your smartphone or tablet. They may enjoy the singalong even more if you are able to find the “classic” recordings of their favorite songs.
- Make holiday cookies. The feel of the dough, the smell of the baking treats and the sense of pride after decorating a batch can bring back very fond memories for an elder.
- Have a gift wrapping party. Whether you help them wrap gifts they have purchased or they help you with yours, there’s nothing like a shared task to bring people together.
- Walk the mall. Malls are very festive places around the holidays. Find a low-traffic time and enjoy a walk around one to admire the decorations.
- Help them prepare their holiday cards. Elders often want to send out cards but the process can be time-consuming and tiring. Crank up the holiday tunes and assist them in getting their cards organized, sealed and addressed so all they have to do is sign and jot a quick note.
- Enjoy a “movie night” together. Pick one of their favorite holiday classics, pop some popcorn, get out some blankets and pillows, and cuddle up in front of the TV.
- Take a holiday lights drive. Scout out some local areas where businesses or homeowners are putting on exceptional holiday light displays. Then, put some hot chocolate in a “to go” mug, get comfortable in the car and take a tour.
Happy Holidays from a Northern Colorado Leader in Elder Care!
At Greenhouse Homes at Mirasol, a unique elder care community in Northern Colorado, we know that the time elders get to spend with family and friends is a most precious gift. We wish you the happiest of holidays with your loved ones!
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that causes symptoms such as lack of energy and feelings of sadness or melancholy. It tends to be triggered by the onset of the fall and winter months. Experts aren’t sure what causes SAD. Some theorize that the change of seasons disrupts a person’s circadian rhythms. Others believe that changes in the production of hormones like serotonin and melatonin play a role. Either way, we know that it can impact residents at our Northern Colorado skilled nursing facility.
How to Manage SAD
It is important to keep in mind that SAD is a form of depression. As such, we encourage residents at our skilled nursing facility to discuss it with their doctor.
Below are some steps elders can take, in consultation with their physician, to combat SAD:
- Stick to a schedule. SAD can make it difficult to sleep and therefore harder to get out of bed in the morning. However, it is best if you continue to go to bed and get up at the same time even as the seasons change.
- Use light therapy. Light therapy boxes produce light that is similar to sunshine and may help keep your circadian rhythms on track. Light therapy may be most effective when used first thing in the morning.
- Try a dawn simulator. These devices produce light that gradually increases in intensity to mimic the rising of the sun. They may make it easier for you to get up in the morning.
- Get or stay active. Regular exercise can help protect against SAD.
- Take a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if your level of vitamin D is low. If it is, it can be helpful to take a vitamin D supplement.
- Try aromatherapy. Some researchers believe that the areas of the brain that control mood can be influenced by essential oils.
- Spend time outside. While the light provided by a light box or dawn simulator is helpful, nothing beats getting a healthy dose of natural sunlight each day.
- Consider antidepressant medication. For more serious cases of SAD that don’t respond to other therapies, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. If that is the case, be sure to take it as directed and do not stop taking it without consulting your physician.
Be Proactive in Dealing with SAD
We encourage residents at our skilled nursing facility to be proactive about all aspects of their physical, mental and emotional health. This includes SAD. Too often people think the only option for dealing with seasonal depression is to “grin and bear it,” but there are many treatment options that can make the fall and winter months much more enjoyable.
As we age, high-intensity workouts like running can become too hard on our body. Many elders who want to remain active will ultimately make the switch to walking as their primary form of aerobic exercise. As we tell residents at our skilled nursing facility, walking provides a long list of physical, mental and emotional health benefits.
What Elders Get From Walking
When considering why walking is such a great choice for seniors, two reasons that come immediately to mind are that it is free and that it is easy to get started. All you need is some comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather and a sidewalk or path. And as soon as you start a regular walking practice, you will begin to see the benefits, which include:
- Stronger bones. Walking for 30 minutes a day can help stop bone loss in people who have osteoporosis, which can reduce the risk of hip fractures and other broken bones.
- Improved circulation. Increasing your heart rate strengthens your heart and helps it move blood more efficiently throughout the body. Walking also lowers blood pressure and can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Better mood. Walking causes the body to release endorphins that can elevate your mood and also decrease pain.
- Stronger muscles. Muscles of the legs, abdomen and even arms can be strengthened by a regular walking regimen.
- Weight control. Walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes can burn 200 calories and, along with a sensible diet, help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Improved sleep. People who walk for an hour each day tend to have less insomnia than people who do not walk for exercise.
- Decreased risk of mental decline. Regular walkers have a lower incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Better joint health. Most joint cartilage doesn’t have direct blood supply and instead gets its nutrition from synovial fluid. This fluid is circulated by the motion of walking.
- Improved respiration. Walking at even a moderate pace increases respiration rate and depth. This moves more energizing oxygen into the blood and helps it better support your organs and tissues.
- Improved immune system function. People who walk regularly get sick less frequently and for shorter periods than people who do not get regular exercise.
Simple Steps for Better Health
It is rare to find an activity where such a small commitment of time and energy can deliver such big benefits. That’s why at Green House Homes at Mirasol, we encourage residents to get out and about every day. As a leading provider of skilled nursing care in Northern Colorado, we do all we can to help elders stay active, healthy and happy.