Dear Maryellen Blog | Q&A

Assessment for Admission to Assisted Living: What to Expect

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

My husband suffered a stroke a few months ago and is currently in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. He is reaching the end of his therapy and will soon be discharged. I have reluctantly accepted that he will not be able to come home. His physician has advised me to find an assisted living community for him. Can you tell me what kind of assessment is required for admission to The Bristal? Also, is there a waiting list for new residents?  -Alicia in Huntington Station, NY

Assisted Living Evaluation Process

The evaluation process is fairly simple.

Dear Alicia,

I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s health. We work with families of seniors across Long Island who have been through similar experiences, so we understand what a difficult time this is for you.

The evaluation process is fairly simple. Your husband’s primary care physician will need to complete some paperwork that provides us with more information on his health needs and medical condition. Once we receive that back and review it, we will schedule an appointment for you and your husband with our Wellness Department. That visit will help us determine what his day-to-day needs will be and to make sure he is an appropriate candidate for assisted living.

As far as a waiting list, that changes daily. Some of our communities have immediate availability and others have a long waiting list. Since it sounds as if you might need to find a community fairly quickly, we can work with you on a solution. If you find that the community most convenient for you has a waiting list, we might be able to initially move your husband in to one of our communities that have availability. When a spot at your desired location opens up, we can transition him there.

I hope this information helps to answer your questions. Best of luck with your search, Alicia.

Best Regards,
Maryellen

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Posted in: Dear Maryellen, Senior Care
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Living with Macular Degeneration: Is Assisted Living an Option?

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Macular Degeneration

Safety features, such as handrails, are found throughout The Bristal communities.

Dear Maryellen,

My 84 year old father lives alone in Woodcliff, New Jersey. He has a large, older home with a lot of stairs. A few years ago he was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Since that time he has been slowly losing his vision. I have just begun to explore senior housing options for him. I would like to have him be able to make the move and get settled in while he still has some of his vision remaining. My question for you is this: how can assisted living support someone with a vision impairment and would it be a viable option for him to consider?   – David

Dear David,

This is a great question for us to be able to share with other families! Thank you for asking it. A number of the older adults that we work with have vision problems ranging from cataracts and glaucoma to macular degeneration. Many of our new residents who have vision impairments when they move in find their lives are more comfortable in assisted living for a variety of reasons.

Each of our communities has safety features that make it easier for residents with vision problems to find their way around. Examples include handrails in hallways and grab bars in bathrooms. We can also provide assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing and escorting around the community. Our life enrichment programs include activities designed to allow people with eyesight issues to participate. Because of all of this support, an assisted living community can help residents with macular degeneration enjoy a higher quality of life.

I hope this helps, David! Best wishes as you explore your options for senior housing for your father. I’m sure your proactive approach will help him make a smooth transition to his new home.

Best Regards,
Maryellen

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Posted in: Dear Maryellen, Lifestyle Blog, Senior Care
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Independent Living at The Bristal

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

My 85 year old father is very independent. He still drives himself to appointments and to run errands. However, since my mother died he is lonely. I am also concerned that maintaining his home on his own is getting to be too much for him. I wondered if there are other independent residents like my dad living at The Bristal? I think he would enjoy the companionship of having people with similar interests and hobbies close by. - Veronica in Armonk, New York

Independent living for seniors

Residents enjoy a game of cards a The Bristal.

Dear Veronica,

Companionship and freedom from the responsibilities of maintaining a home are two of the main reasons independent residents make a move to a senior living community. Residents can come and go as they like and participate in as many or as few of the scheduled cultural and recreational programs as they choose. It is also common to see informal groups of residents playing card games or working on a volunteer project.

Your father can also bring his car with him to any of The Bristal communities. We offer complimentary, dedicated parking for our residents.

I hope this helps answer your questions, Veronica. Please let us know if you need any advice in choosing a community or would like to schedule a personal visit to The Bristal for you and your father.

Best Regards,
Maryellen

 

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Posted in: Dear Maryellen, Lifestyle Blog, Senior Care
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Assisted Living Residence, Enriched Housing, Adult Home: What’s the Difference?

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

My siblings and I have been visiting assisted living communities in Westchester County, New York for our 82 year old mother. One thing that we’ve noticed is how some communities refer to themselves as enriched housing and others as an assisted living residence. We are a little confused by this terminology. Is there a difference? If so, what is it? -David in Westchester

Senior Citizen Housing Options

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Dear David,

Good question! Here is a quick overview of these types of senior living.

Adult Home: The Department of Health’s definition of an adult home is defined as an adult care facility established and operated for the purpose of providing long-term residential care, room, board, housekeeping, personal care and supervision to five or more adults not related to the operator.

Enriched Housing: An Enriched Housing Program means an adult care facility established and operated for the purpose of providing long-term residential care to five or more adults, primarily persons 65 years of age or older, in a community-integrated setting resembling independent housing units. Such programs must provide or arrange for the provision of room and provide board, housekeeping, personal care and supervision.

Assisted Living Residence (ALR): is an entity which provides or arranges for housing, on site monitoring and personal care services and or home care services (either directly or indirectly) in a home-like setting to five or more adult residents unrelated to the assisted living provider. ALRs must develop an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) for each resident along with daily food service, twenty-four hour on site monitoring, and case management services. Residents must be provided with considerate and respectful care and promote the residents dignity, autonomy, independence and privacy in the least restrictive and most home-like setting commensurate with the residents preferences and physical and mental status. It’s important to know that all assisted living communities are not licensed by the DOH. In fact, there are many “Look-a-Like” communities out there.

Under the ALR, communities have the option to provide both Enhanced and Special Needs programs which will enable the residents to “age in place” if they have applied and been issued certificates from the DOH.

Special Needs programs: provides services to those residents with cognitive impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Enhanced programs: is for those residents who go beyond the retention standards of the Adult Home or Enriched Housing Program. These services can be provided by qualified in-house staff or a licensed home care agency.

Full disclosure of services will be provided in the community’s residency/admission agreement so it is important to read the agreement thoroughly and ask questions. All licensed communities have a Consumer’s Guide to Assisted Living which may be very helpful. Feel free to ask for one or you can access one online here.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to be honest about the condition of the potential resident. The more we know, the better it is for the resident.

Best Regards,
Maryellen

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Posted in: Dear Maryellen, Senior Care
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Assisted Living for Married Couples: Is It the Right Fit?

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

My wife and I are considering moving to an assisted living community. The majority of our friends who have made this move before us are single people. As a married couple, what should we expect in assisted living? -Dan in Westbury, NY

Dear Dan,

Couples in Assisted Living

Jack & Shirley Millstein of North Hills

Thanks for asking this question. While single residents outnumber couples, we are seeing more and more couples living in our assisted living communities. Many make the move so they can receive help with activities of daily living, while others make it to have freedom from the worries of home maintenance and upkeep. We recognize that everyone comes to us for different reasons and with unique challenges.

As each resident moves to one of The Bristal communities, we develop an Individual Service Plan (ISP) for them. The plan incorporates services that help each of our residents maintain their highest quality of life. It might be by assisting with medication management or by providing a little extra help at mealtime. As residents of The Bristal, you and your wife will each have your own personalized plan of care.

Another layer of helping residents live their highest quality of life is through our Bristal Better U and our life enrichment programming. Bristal Better U is a lifelong learning partnership with Hofstra University Community Education. Topics range from politics to literature. Each of The Bristal communities also offers a full calendar of life enrichment activities. They include recreational programming and clubs for residents to enjoy. During any given week residents have the opportunity to join in on activities of interest that could include a fashion show, computer class, jewelry making or a Zumba class.

Finally, a resource that might help you understand what life in an assisted living community is really like is Seven Things to Know about Assisted Living. It can help you separate the facts from the myths.

I wish you and your wife the very best of luck as you make this decision and transition to the next chapter of life!

Best Regards,
Maryellen

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Posted in: Dear Maryellen, Lifestyle Blog, Senior Care
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Veterans Medical Benefits

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen, 

Health Care for Veterans

Are you aware of the VA Aid & Attendance?

My husband and I are beginning to research assisted living communities on Long Island for his father. His dad is a veteran who currently receives his health care and prescriptions from the local VA. In trying to determine what his budget for assisted living might be we wondered if these types of communities have relationships with the Department of Veterans Affairs? We would ideally like him to be able to continue seeing his VA physicians and having his medications covered through his VA benefit. Is that possible if he moves to an assisted living community?   -Darlene in Freeport, New York

Dear Darlene,

Thank you for asking that question. Our community teams are often asked about VA benefits so we know it is important information for families.

We have a preferred pharmacy and established relationships with physicians who make in-house calls to our communities as a convenience for our residents. However, we are happy to help our nation’s veterans fully utilize their VA benefits. We can call your father’s prescriptions in to his VA pharmacy, schedule appointments with his VA physicians, and coordinate transportation with the county senior service van.

I also want to make sure you are aware of the VA Aid & Attendance? Just in case you aren’t, here is a quick overview. For veterans who qualify, the Aid & Attendance benefit is available to help with some of the expenses of senior care. We have attorneys who help residents of The Bristal with the application process free of charge.

Please let us know if you have any more questions about the VA and assisted living, Darlene. I or one of our local community Executive Directors will be happy to help!

Regards,
Maryellen McKeon

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Medication Management: Tips for Seniors & Caregivers

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Medication Management Tips

Managing Medications

Dear Maryellen,

My father is my mom’s caregiver. Due to a variety of health issues my mother takes several different medications daily. My father manages all the meds. He calls in the prescriptions, fills the pill organizer and administers. With so many medications it can be very confusing. Can you offer some advice on how to better manage all these meds?

-Cynthia, Massapequa Park, NY

Dear Cynthia,

Medication Management is a big responsibility and can be overwhelming especially when there’s more than one prescription. Medication errors are far too common among the elderly. There’s no surprise when you consider the number of drugs an individual takes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 76 percent of adults over age 60 take at least two prescription drugs, and 37 percent use five or more. As your mother’s caregiver, your dad is juggling quite a bit. Reigning in this area will be a tremendous help to both of your parents.

The FDA suggests these five tips to avoid mistakes:

1. Know the names of the drugs.

2. Ask questions about how to use them.

3. Know what the drugs are treating.

4. Read labels & follow all directions.

5. Keep a list of all the medications.

For a more in-depth look at these tips go to U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cynthia, you’re making a wise choice to get involved. I’m sure your parents appreciate it.

Regards,
Maryellen McKeon

 

Image courtesy of tungphoto /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Tips for Senior Caregivers

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

Tips for Caregivers

Tips for Caregivers

I need help. My 85 year old father resides with me and my family. He has early signs of dementia and often times gets frustrated and lashes out at my family. I’m Dad’s full-time caregiver, I manage the house and tend to my kids. My siblings are out of state so Dad’s daily needs are dropped in my lap. I love my dad dearly but I am exhausted and need help. -Sue, Westbury, NY

Dear Sue,

I’m so glad you are reaching out. Caring for an elderly parent is difficult and very demanding. First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. You’re no good to your dad and your family if you’re running yourself ragged. I hope this helps.

Tips for Senior Caregivers:

1. Maintain your physical health by eating a well balanced diet and exercising daily. For some great tips take a look at 25 Vitamin-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating and The Best 15 Minute Workout Without a Gym.

2. Attend a support group for caregivers. The Family Service League is just one of the many organizations that provide group or individual counseling to help caregivers manage their stress.

3. Encourage your mom’s independence. Find responsibilities that are in line with Dad’s capabilities whether it’s watering plants, reading to the kids or doing laundry. This will not only ease your burden but also improve your father’s state of mind.

4. Ask for help…it’s more than OK. Delegate chores to family members & request siblings to relieve you on occasion.

5. Give everyone a break in the house. Senior day care is available at some assisted living communities. Dad can spend a few hours, the day or a week while you get some free time.

6. Finally, schedule me time once a week. See a movie with the family, go out to lunch with a friend or relax under the skilled hands of a masseuse. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get out and recharge your battery.

I hope these tips help ease your stress and allow you to enjoy time with your dad. You are fortunate to have each other.

Regards,
Maryellen McKeon

 

 

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Warning Signs an Older Family Member Needs Help

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Warning Signs an Aging Loved One Needs Help

Is more help needed?

Dear Maryellen,

My 90-year old father lives 7 hours away from me. The kids and I went to visit him after the end of a busy school year. We hadn’t been able to visit him since the holidays. I know it was hectic for him with three very active kids in his house, but something just didn’t seem right. He says he is “fine.” But I think he is struggling to keep up with the house and with preparing meals. I’m worried. How do I know if he needs help and just isn’t willing to admit it?  -Alyssa G.

Dear Alyssa,

It sounds like you are a devoted daughter and you probably know your father well. You should trust your instincts. Can you try to plan another visit without the children? At that point you can better assess if the suspicions you have were caused by having his normally quiet life disrupted or if there is something more to worry about. It’s important to recognize the warning signs an older family member needs help.

We usually advise families to look for:

  • Weight loss – Does he seem to be losing weight without trying?
  • Bills piling up – Did you find unopened bills on his desk or counter or even in the mailbox?
  • Change in behavior – Has your father stopped participating in activities he has always enjoyed? Does he still attend services at his church or synagogue as he always has?
  • Untidy home – What was the condition of his house like? Was it different than usual? Is the refrigerator full of out-of-date food?
  • Change in appearance – Has he always been someone who is well groomed and fastidious with his appearance? Does that seem to have changed?
  • Confusion – Does he seem to have moments of confusion even if they are short?
  • Vehicle damage – Is his car showing a little more than road wear? Do you find dings, dents and scrapes when you inspect it?
  • Bruises and bumps – Does your father have any on his head, hands, arms or legs? Is he keeping the fact that he’s been falling from you because he doesn’t want you to worry?

If you found the answer to more than one or two of these questions was yes, it is probably time to schedule a visit to your loved one’s primary care physician. Sometimes the changes in a loved one are so subtle you barely notice them. Then overnight, it feels like you are caught in a crisis and need to find help fast. It is better to play it safe when it comes to the health and well-being of an aging parent.

Best Regards,
Maryellen

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Making the Move to Assisted Living: When to Sell Your Elderly Loved One’s House

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

After more than a little persuading, my 94 year old father agreed to move to an assisted living community near his home in Sayville, New York. Our next step is to try to figure out the timeline for him making this move. He has a very large home to sell. We aren’t sure if we should sell it before he moves or after. Can you offer any advice on making this move to assisted living?

Monica

Dear Monica,

Figuring out what to take, sell, and what to donate can be a long process.

When sorting, focus on one room at a time.

It is usually easiest on the older adult if you can help your father move first and then sell the home. It will make the transition a little easier on your father. He won’t have to leave his home during realtor showings which aren’t always scheduled for the most convenient times. It will also let you pack and move around your schedule and not around one dictated by the potential buyers. If he has lived in his home for a long time, sorting through his belongings and figuring out what to take with him, what to sell, and what to donate can be a long process. For some tips read Downsizing & Selling Your House.

If he doesn’t have enough liquid assets to make selling his home after the move a comfortable decision, there are financial organizations and banks that offer short-term home equity loans exclusively for those moving to senior living. These programs are designed to bridge the gap between when someone moves to a senior living community and the time their home is sold. The loan allows them to finance the move using the equity in their home.

Good luck with this transition! I hope everything goes well for your father.

Regards,
Maryellen

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