What End of Life Conditions Can (and Cannot) be Handled at an Assisted Living Home with a Nurse on Staff

What End of Life Conditions Can (and Cannot) be Handled at an Assisted Living Home with a Nurse on Staff

For family members looking for a home for a loved one, this is always a very tough question to ask, but an essential one, and a question that we often get asked. A full-service assisted living homes (with an excellent management team, nurse on staff, and trained caregivers) can handle most of the end-of-life care situations that arise, but not all the medical conditions that can materialize. Often loved ones want to minimize the chance that a move to another facility will be necessary before end-of-life.

What a Full-Service Residential Assisted Living Home Can Handle:

  • Oxygen therapy – There are no specific best practices for the use of oxygen therapy during end-of-life care. However, if oxygen is prescribed by the person’s medical provider, assisted living homes can adequately administer and monitor its use.
  • Some wound care with the help of a specialist who comes into the home. Often wound that require complex dressing changes or wound vacuum care is best suited for long-term care facilities.
  • Sliding scale insulin requires close monitoring by an LPN or RN and can usually be handled.
  • Antimicrobial therapy – This is commonly used to relieve symptoms associated with the end of life. Approximately half of the patients receiving end-of-life care have an infection. Assisted living care homes can work with medical practitioners to determine when antimicrobial therapy is an essential part of end-of-life care.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) – Having COPD can make end-of-life breathing difficulties more severe. Assisted living homes are equipped to handle most cases of end-stage COPD through the use of oxygen and pain medication, as prescribed by a medical professional.
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) – is another condition that can be monitored well in an assisted living home. It may be appropriate for hospice care to be included when the patient reaches the final stages of CHF.
  • Renal failure – Renal failure usually requires dialysis to deal with decreasing kidney function. Managing chronic illnesses such as renal failure is a specialty associated with assisted living. Many can partner with nearby dialysis centers to provide in-house dialysis/ palliative dialysis with treatment goals being aimed at quality of life rather than medical parameters.
  • Acute phase of strokes – Stroke patients benefit from a structure in how end-of-life care is administered. Assisted living homes are capable of providing the level of is needed, and the consistency of delivering that care.
  • Dementia – Caring for anyone at the end of life is difficult, but it can be even more challenging if the person has dementia. Assisted living homes are equipped to handle these increased needs and provide the patient with the dignity and respect they deserve.
  • Cirrhosis/liver failure – Pain control and the relief of symptoms associated with liver failure during end-of-life care are easily managed by assisted living homes.
  • Progressive weight loss – Also called a “failure to thrive,” it is a hallmark of the end of life. It is especially concerning for patients with dementia. Assisted living homes can monitor weight loss and administer appropriate care as directed by medical providers.
  • Medication administered by oral route – Assisted living homes are trained to administer oral medications to help manage end of life conditions and symptoms.

end of life care

When Can An Assisted Living Not Handle End-of-Life Care

As previously mentioned, it is not always appropriate for assisted living homes to care for a patient at the end of life. There are times when a person will require care elsewhere:

  • Significant wound care that involves complex wound dressing changes is best suited for long-term care facilities.
  • Continuous or intermittent IV is better suited for rehabilitation facilities and long-term care facilities.
  • Usually, tubes and jejunostomy tubes are better suited for long-term care facilities due to the requirement for cleaning and monitoring the tubes to prevent infection.
  • CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilators require a level of care that is not appropriate for assisted living homes. End-of-life patients with these devices are better suited for long-term care.
  • Total parenteral nutrition infusions are common for patients dying of cancer and other terminal illnesses. A long-term care facility best manages it.

What is End-of-Life Care?

End-of-life care, sometimes referred to as late-stage care, is the clinical term to describe the ongoing emotional support and medical care an individual receives during the time leading up to their death. The person may be in the final stages of a terminal illness, succumbing to a lifelong disease, or in the natural stages of the dying process. The length of care is dependent on the reason the person requires it and can last a few days, weeks, or even months.

Regardless of why a person needs end-of-life care, the goal is to help them live as comfortably as possible in the time they have left. Quality end-of-life care also includes:

  • Management of physical symptoms to ensure comfort
  • Emotional support for the person receiving the care and their family members
  • Expectations for the person receiving the care and their family and friends about the process of late-stage care and the dying process
  • Financial support, as needed
  • Assistance in drafting a will

Knowing when it is time to consider late-stage care is an integral part of the process.

Individuals dealing with terminal illnesses or diseases with a high mortality rate are candidates for this type of care. If the person already resides at an assisted living care facility, the staff may approach family and caregivers when it is time to transition to end-of-life care and support.

Other signs it is time to consider late-stage care include:

  • Multiple trips to the emergency room for the treatment and stabilization of an ongoing condition. The condition rapidly worsens between ER trips, and the person’s quality of life is not improving.
  • Multiple admissions to the hospital in the same year for the same condition with worsening symptoms
  • The decision to discontinue treatment for a terminal illness

What to Expect When End of Life is Near

No two people are the same, but there are some common physical symptoms experienced when the end of life is near. Breathing difficulty, digestive issues, fatigue, and pain are all normal parts of the dying process. Watching a loved one experience these symptoms can be difficult, but it is essential to stay calm so that the patient will feel at peace.

While each person is different, there are some commonalities associated with the body as it begins to break down during the end-of-life stage. What to expect:

  • 1 to 3 months before death – The dying person may take more frequent naps and sleep for more extended periods; have a diminished hunger and thirst; begin to withdraw from friends and family; communicate less; stop engaging in previously-enjoyed activities.
  • 1 to 2 weeks before death – Changes in sleep patterns and decreased appetite and thirst are the most noticeable signs of this stage. The dying person will also have less urine output and fewer bowel movements, increased pain; congested breathing; and changes in their blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It is not uncommon for the dying person to appear confused.

What Questions to Ask an Assisted Living Facility About End-of-Life Care

Create a list of questions to have on hand when touring an assisted living facility to ensure it matches your loved one’s needs. Some of the things to ask are:

  • What is your patient to staff ratio?
  • What type of training does your care staff receive?
  • Is your staff trained in Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-care needs?
  • Are staff members on-site 24/7?
  • Are staff members trained to administer medication?
  • Do you have in-house nurses and doctors on staff?
  • What are your security measures?
  • Are there additional services available if care needs change?
  • Do you offer end-of-life care?
  • Can you provide references?

There are red flags to watch for when asking your questions and touring assisted living facilities. The biggest red flag is a lack of respect. Pay attention to how staff members interact with residents and with one another. Are they spending more time socializing with each other than caring for the residents?

Other red flags include:

  • Managers are unavailable to answer questions on request. If they are missing in action during your visit, it may be a sign they are overworked or inattentive.
  • The facility lacks choices for everyday living needs, such as your loved one’s choice of food, clothing, and sleeping time. While some routine needs to occur, you don’t want your loved one to feel like they are in prison.
  • The facility is located in an unsafe neighborhood.
  • The staff is rude to you or uncaring toward residents.
  • The residents do not look well cared for, and the facility is cluttered or dirty.
  • There are violations or complaints against the facility.
  • The administration avoids discussing fees for services.

With Which End-of-Life Conditions Can Assisted Living Provide Comfort?

Some assisted living communities do not provide end-of-life care. For those that do, there are conditions with which they can provide comfort and support.

1. Pain and discomfort

Pain and discomfort are common at the end of life, especially during the final weeks leading to a person’s death. It can be difficult for loved ones to watch, but there are things assisted living providers can do to help.

Because there is no need to worry about the long-term effects of pain medication – including addiction – pain medication will be administered to ensure the patient is comfortable and with pain management in mind. Morphine is commonly prescribed during the end of life, but other pain medications can be used. Assisted living providers can work with palliative medical specialists to find the right fit.

2. Breathing problems/shortness of breath

Just as it can be challenging to see a loved one in pain, it also is painful to watch them struggle to breathe. Shortness of breath and the ability to take a deep breath is common during the end of life. Sometimes it may even sound like rattling in the chest. This is caused by fluid collecting in the dying person’s throat. Assisted living providers can ease breathing difficulty by elevating the patient, using a humidifier, and using a fan to circulate the air in the room.

3. Skin irritation/skin breakdown

As we age, our skin naturally becomes drier. Once a dying person begins to experience a diminished desire to eat and drink, dry skin can worsen. Sitting or lying in one position for too long also can cause bed sores. Assisted living care teams can use lotions to help keep the dying person’s skin moisturized. Shifting their position throughout the day will help to prevent bedsores.

4. Digestive problems

It is not uncommon for people near the end of life to lose their appetite. The natural result can be nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Pain medication can make constipation and nausea worse. Assisted living care staff can work with the patient’s medical providers to find a balance of pain medication and other intervention measures to ease these symptoms. Assisted living centers may suggest offering smaller meals to the patient to help encourage eating, prevent dehydration, and help the person to eat if they feel too weak to feed themselves.

5. Temperature sensitivity

Shifting from being too hot to too cold is common at the end of life. If the patient is constantly kicking off a blanket, they may be trying to tell you they are too warm. Shivering can be a sign the person is too cold. Assisted living facilities capable of handling end-of-life patients are trained to watch for these signs and ensure they are comfortable.

6. Fatigue

When we do not eat or drink as frequently as we once did, fatigue is natural. Assisted living care staff can help ease fatigue by keeping activities simple for the person. This may mean switching to sponge baths instead of showers and placing a portable toilet next to the person’s bed to reduce the number of trips to the bathroom.

when to expect end of life care

How to Evaluate if an Assisted Living Home is Equipped to Handle End-of-Life Care

When it comes to evaluating whether an assisted living home is equipped to handle end of life care, safety is the bottom line. You can ask questions to determine if an assisted living home is the right choice for you:

What can I expect from end-of-life care in your home?

  • Who will be administering the care? What are their qualifications?
  • Do you have a plan for the administration of my care?
  • How will my pain be managed?
  • How will you communicate with my family about my care and ongoing needs?

Assisted living homes that fail to answer questions of this nature, or offer only vague answers are incapable of providing the quality care you deserve during the end of life.

Comparing End-of-Life Options

Assisted living homes are not your only end-of-life option. It is best to compare all of your choices before making a decision.

Both hospice and palliative care provide comfort. Palliative care can begin at diagnosis and occur in conjunction with treatment. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it becomes clear the person will not survive the illness. Hospice care is generally recommended for persons with six months or less to live and can be provided at home or at an assisted living home under the guidance of a hospice physician and nurse.

Other options for care include:

  • Home-based care is possible but depending on the level of care the person requires, it may not be ideal. Caregivers involved with an in-home care situation will need to be well organized and consistent. The benefit is the person will feel more comfortable in their home environment. A significant drawback is the lack of access to the kind of medical equipment that can make end-of-life care easier for all involved.
  • Long-term residential facilities are ideal for end-of-life care that requires access to a variety of medical and personal care services.
  • Hospital-based care should be reserved for only those who require intensive levels that frequently require the supervision of medical professionals.

Choosing Vista Living as the Right Assisted Living Facility for You

Vista Living’s caring and compassionate staff understand the stress and anxiety involved with end-of-life care. We ensure the dying person and their loved ones are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve through every step of the process. Contact us today to learn more about how Vista Living can help your loved transition.

Do I need an assisted living home or an assisted living facility and what’s the difference?

Do I need an assisted living home or an assisted living facility and what’s the difference?

With so many senior living options available in today’s market, it’s easy to become overloaded with choices. As you look for long term care, you will see both assisted living facilities and assisted living homes. But do you know the difference between the two? It’s important to understand the level of care and the quality of life that each offers to your loved one.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are a senior care option for older people who are unable to live on their own. A facility offers 24/7 personal care support services, such as:

  • Bathing
  • Eating
  • Cooking
  • Toileting
  • Medication management

Most assisted living facilities have varied service levels, such as independent living,  skilled nursing care or memory care units for Alzheimer’s or dementia residents.

Typically facilities house anywhere from 40 to 300 beds in either private or semi-private apartments that may be fully furnished and possibly include a small kitchen area although three healthy meals and snacks are usually provided by the facility. Seniors can socialize and eat with other residents in a central dining room. Transportation services, social activities, and other events are scheduled to keep residents socially active. 

The prices for many assisted living facilities usually are 30% higher than residential assisted living. For memory care it typically increases monthly costs by 20-30%.

Assisted Living Homes

An assisted living home is for seniors who would rather live in a more cozy, home-like environment, generally at a slightly reduced price generally. Similar to a senior care facility, assisted living homes offer basic personal care, food services and activities with social engagement. Many homes offer dementia or other forms of memory care.  Also, many of these homes provide medical care through their own registered nurse or a mobile medical service.  These homes generally resemble residential houses that are tailored to deliver assisted living services.

Assisted living homes are generally much smaller facilities providing care for up to 10 to 15 seniors. In this way, they’re able to offer a more personal and intimate environment for your elderly loved ones. Assisted living homes may also be referred to as:

  • Residential Care Homes
  • Board and Care Homes
  • Personal Care Homes
  • Group Homes
  • Adult Family Homes
  • Adult Foster Care

Services Offered

Assisted living homes are perfect for seniors who prefer to live in a warm community environment and do not need constant medical and personal attention. Here are some of the services provided by most residential care homes:

  • Meal preparation
  • Eating 
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Medication management and medication administration
  • A semi-private or private room
  • Some facilities offer financial and healthcare management

Which Solution is Right for You?

As a provider of assisted living services, Vista Living has a great deal of experience helping families make the right choices for care for their loved ones.

Firstly, ensure that the home or facility has the level of care that your senior needs. If your loved one needs 24/7 attention, only home health agencies, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities offer this kind of service. Generally, facilities might have more specialized care options but, being larger, they might lack more of the community feel of a home. 

The licensing of senior living communities varies by state and therefore there are varying degrees of quality of care and qualifications of healthcare providers, so make sure you do your homework on the facilities you are considering. Ask for any to see recent surveys of the facilities, review references thoroughly and read reviews online. Also, visit and compare different types of homes.

The majority of families make decisions based on the ease of visiting family members. Assisted living homes generally are more widespread and there are more local options available. Most, if not all, families think that location is a major factor in selecting an assisted living facility for your loved one. 

Pricing for Assisted Living Homes

For this smaller residential assisted living setting it generally costs 30% less than the larger facilities. Remember that the prices depend on the services offered, the quality of the caregivers and the location of each facility!

For any additional questions on assisted living care, please contact us, we would be happy to help.

When Is Assisted Living Home a Better Option Than In-Home Care?

When Is Assisted Living Home a Better Option Than In-Home Care?

For many individuals today who strive to retain as much independence as possible while still enjoying a high quality of life, the decision is between assisted living and in-home care. Will we choose in-home care while we age in place, or will we relocate to an assisted living community capable of helping with our daily living needs?

The atmosphere and the level of care seniors experience during in-home care are considerably different than in an assisted living home. There are many factors involved with the decision, including financial ones. Answering the following three questions can help narrow down the decision:

  • How much help do I need with my daily living activities?
  • How much does each option cost (in-home and assisted living)?
  • How much money do I have in my budget to pay for the type of assistance I prefer?

Once you have the answers, you should thoroughly evaluate additional information about the level of care and services provided by each option. Keep reading to learn more about each option to determine the best choice to meet your needs.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living homes, when done well, are designed for seniors who require various levels of medical and personal care (and is available 24/7 when needed). . Assisted living homes hope to preserve many parts of someone’s independent living for as long as possible.  As more help is needed, a caregiver is available to help with daily living activities and memory care.  Homes also help seniors connect with others and participate in activities like the larger facilities.

Seniors who opt for one of Vista Living Senior Care’s assisted living homes often need help with many aspects of daily living, such as:

  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Medication management
  • Meal preparation
  • Daily living activities (bathing, toileting)
  • Mobile doctors and medical services
  • Social activities
  • Health and wellness programs and services
  • Round-the-clock security

Assisted living facilities differ in some of the amenities they offer, so it is best to check what your top choices provide. That way you can evaluate your options fairly and choose wisely.

Who Can Benefit From Assisted Living?

Seniors who know they require some extra help to complete everyday tasks but who still wish to maintain a level of independence will benefit the most from an assisted living home. There are tell-tale signs that it may be time to make the transition into assisted living.

1. Feeling isolated or lonely

Everyone feels lonely or isolated sometimes. But if this situation has turned into an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, it is a warning sign that a change is needed. Lack of community and a feeling of connection is linked to depression, which in turn can lead to chronic health conditions such as dementia and heart disease.

2. Declining health

Chronic conditions can become more prevalent as we age, requiring a more consistent level of care. With more than 70 million Americans aged 50 and older dealing with at least one chronic medical condition, the likelihood of needing additional care as they age increases. Seniors who have required frequent care for a chronic condition for several months are ideal candidates for the extra support and supervision provided by assisted living.

3. Mismanaging finances

A piling up of unpaid bills or other signs of financial distress can be early signs that a senior is struggling to manage on their own. Seniors who live alone also are more susceptible to financial scams, which can put their retirement and other savings at risk.

4. Hoarding

Hoarding is not exclusive to seniors, but it can pose unique risks and challenges if they are engaging in the practice. It is a sign that they may no longer be able to live on their own. Seniors who hoard are more likely to suffer from falls and other related injuries. Hoarding can make access to emergency personnel difficult or impossible.

5. Practicing poor hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene is important in preventing illness. As we age, the fear of falling in the bath can inhibit us from engaging in proper hygiene practices. The fear is not unfounded, with 80 percent of all falls happening in the bathroom. If you or your loved one is having difficulty with a personal care routine, assisted living can help.

What Is In-Home Care?

In-home care is exactly what it sounds like: personal aide, caregiver and/or nurse visit seniors in their homes to assist with everyday living essentials. The biggest benefit of in-home care is that it allows seniors to age in place in the comfort of their own homes.

Services included with in-home care vary by agency. Some of the more common features of in-home care are:

  • Assistance with personal hygiene (bathing, toileting)
  • Grocery shopping and meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Running errands
  • Transportation to appointments

In-home care services can be extremely limited and may not provide the same level of 24/7 care that’s available with assisted living homes. Those that do are quite expensive and may not fit into your monthly budget. Some insurance plans include coverage for long-term care, and there is always the option of buying long-term care insurance plans or insurance policies with riders for long-term care if you qualify.

Who Can Benefit From In-Home Care?

Seniors who are mostly able to manage their own daily living needs will benefit the most from receiving in-home care. It is extremely beneficial to those who wish to remain in familiar surroundings or who desire to be close to family and friends.

In-home care is ideal for those who have insurance that covers the costs of the service or those who have enough money budgeted for the expense associated with this level of care. The cost of in-home care averages around $25 per hour, according to the Administration on Aging, if the aid is hired through an agency. Independent caregivers typically charge $18-30 per hour.

Seniors who desire or require one-to-one attention and consistency in the caregiver who is providing the services would most benefit from in-home care.

How Much Help Do You Need?

When deciding between in-home care and assisted living, an important factor is the level of help needed by the person who will be using the services. There are several questions seniors (or their loved ones) can ask to determine the appropriate level of care.

1. Is it difficult for me to maintain my current home?

Keeping up with a house or apartment is tedious work, but it has the potential to become even more burdensome as you age. Large yards that require landscaping, flights of stairs that are becoming difficult to navigate, and extra rooms that are never used but still require tidying up are all reasons to consider downsizing from your current living quarters. If your current home has gotten to be too much responsibility, choosing to transition to assisted living is a great option.

2. Is it difficult for me to get to the places I need to go?

Transportation is one of the biggest driving factors in seniors choosing in-home care or assisted living. Homes can help senior’s families coordinate transportation to get to medical appointments, social engagements, or to run errands. If it is no longer safe for you to drive on your own and access to public transportation is limited where you live, it is time to consider in-home or assisted living.

3. Is it difficult for me to stay connected with others?

Social isolation is a very real concern as we age. If you no longer drive and if access to public transportation is limited, connecting with friends and family can be challenging. Many seniors find assisted living communities to be a great resource for social opportunities and fostering a sense of community.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Assisted Living and In-Home Care?

There are numerous pros of assisted living. The biggest benefit is the affordability factor for the 24/7 care available in assisted living homes. Round-the-clock care is possible with in-home care, but it is significantly more expensive.

Other pros include:

  • Care needs become a secondary thought, allowing family and friends to focus on spending quality time with their loved ones.
  • Seniors have many opportunities for socialization and activities with other residents.
  • Family members can stop worrying about hiring, scheduling, and managing caregivers and leave that hassle to the assisted living staff.
  • The level of care can be adjusted as needs change.
  • Consistency of care: a good assisted living home can keep their caregivers for long periods of time, and in-home care can be more of a revolving door of caregivers.

There are cons with assisted living as well. One-on-one care might not be immediately available at all times.  The quality of the care received is dependent on the staff. Some seniors do not enjoy living in an assisted living environment, so that can also be a disadvantage to this kind of setup.

The disadvantages of in-home care include the cost, which can be exorbitant if 24/7 care is required. In-home care also increases the chances a senior will feel isolated.

Need-to-Know Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice

Choosing between in-home care and assisted living is often a personal choice. When making the decision, it is important to listen to the wants and needs of the person who will be benefiting from the care. It is important to weigh all the factors. Some need-to-know tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Make sure the in-home care option (agency, individual) or assisted living facility meets your specific needs.
  • Compare costs for both: in-home care, especially if needed 24/7, is more expensive than assisted living.

The most important tip is to choose the option that makes the person using it the happiest. Everyone deserves to live out their golden years with dignity and respect and should have the final say in which option is chosen.

The Importance of Socialization

Social isolation is a real concern as we age. Connecting with others is a basic human desire, and when we are denied socialization, the results can be devastating. Groundbreaking research by the late John Cacioppo determined that mental anguish caused by chronic loneliness is real and can be quite devastating to mental and physical well-being.

In-home care is not the best option for seniors who want to increase their social opportunities. Assisted living homes are more equipped to help seniors plug in quickly to their new environment and to take full advantage of the amenities designed to promote socialization.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or in need of dementia care require extra assistance that may not be ideal for an in-home setting.

At Vista Living Senior Care, our staff is trained to provide 24/7 support services designed to help our Alzheimer’s and dementia care residents thrive. Residents enjoy daily activities and socialization opportunities that are therapeutic and uplifting. Family members can rest assured their loved ones will have the attention and support needed. Contact us to schedule a tour of our Alzheimer’s and dementia care communities and speak with a member of our team who can answer any questions.

Staff and Specialty Care

It is imperative to choose an assisted living community with certified staff members who are compassionate and available on-site for round-the-clock care. At Vista Living Senior Care, our staff is comprised of caring individuals who are dedicated to the health and well-being of our residents.

Our full-time nurse and staff goes the extra mile to ensure families are apprised of the level of care needed for their loved one and receive regular progress updates. Our caregivers are highly skilled and have extensive experience in supervisory, personal, and directed levels of care. The caregiver ratio is 1 for every 5 residents.

Help Finding a Senior Living Community at Vista Living

All of the senior living communities at Vista Living feature private suite bedrooms with bathrooms, a kitchen with island seating, and open common areas that encourage socialization. A beauty salon, rehabilitation and workout room, and patio equipped with a BBQ grill are additional amenities offered at Vista Living Senior Care.

We have several levels of care:

  • Assisted Living is for seniors who just need extra help with their daily activities.
  • Memory Care is ideal for our residents with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related conditions.
  • Dementia Care focuses on providing residents with additional assistance with everyday activities while preserving the independent-living model.
  • Alzheimer’s Care offers a high level of physical and emotional support for residents who require this additional assistance.

Seniors and their loved ones who are considering one of our communities at Vista Living Senior Care are encouraged to reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members. We can answer any questions you may have about our communities and help you choose the best option to suit your individual needs.

Want to check out your options from the comfort of your home? Our virtual tours feature 360-degree views of the facilities and amenities offered at each of our sites.

6 Common Myths About Aging and Exercise

6 Common Myths About Aging and Exercise

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

Exercising for seniors is more than just adding years to your life, it’s all about adding more life to your years. You’ll look great, feel great, be more energetic, and have a greater sense of overall well-being, no matter your age.

Did you know that exercise is the number one contributor to having a longer life? And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve just started exercising during your senior years.  To help you get started, it’s important to know about the physical and mental benefits of exercising for seniors.

Physical Benefits:

  • Improves balance, mobility, and flexibility. Strength, flexibility, and good posture are improved during exercise. Which greatly helps with coordination and balance – lowering the risk of falls and any fall-related injuries. Strength training is also known to prevent symptoms of various chronic illnesses, such as arthritis.
  • Reduces the impact of different chronic diseases and illnesses. Regular physical activity is proven to improve the body’s immune system and digestive functioning. It helps lower the risk of dementia, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, certain cancers, and heart disease. It also promotes better blood pressure and bone density.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your body’s metabolism slows down as you age. Which is why maintaining a healthy weight is more difficult. Regular physical exercise helps boost metabolism and build muscle mass, which helps in burning more calories.

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Better brain health: While mentally stimulating activities such as Sudoku or word puzzles helps in keeping your brain running, exercise can do more wonders. It helps to prevent or slow down the progression of memory loss, dementia, and dementia by tapping into multitasking and creativity.
  • Good night’s sleep. Adults should be able to sleep for at least six hours every night. Exercise helps you be able to sleep quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake up energetic and ready to face the day.
  • Boosts selfconfidence and mood. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins – a hormone that can help lessen feelings of depression, anxiety, or sadness. Therefore, exercising is a huge stress reliever and helps you feel more confident.

Most Common Myths about Exercise and Aging

Myth 1: I have too many aches and pains in my body. I’m too weak.

  • Fact: Regular physical activity can actually help you manage aches and pains in your body. It also makes you stronger. Not only is there an improvement in strength, exercise also helps combat a decline in vitality that comes with age. The secret is to start slowly and gently.

Myth 2: It doesn’t matter if I exercise – I’m getting old anyway.  

  • Fact: Exercising promotes independence and makes you look and feel younger. It also reduces the chances of developing various health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Myth 3: It’s so frustrating. I’ll never be as agile as I once was.

  • Fact: Your body changes as you age. Your hormones, bone density, metabolism, and muscle mass may change. That said, strength and performance level may inevitably decline as you get older. However, it doesn’t mean that you can no longer benefit from health improvements the sense of accomplishment you get after exercising. It’s best to start slow and to tailor your exercises to your lifestyle goals that are age-appropriate. Always remember that being sedentary can do more harm than good.

Myth 4: Exercising increases the risk of falling.

  • Fact: As a matter of fact, exercising regularly can promote muscle building, improve strength and stamina, and prevent the loss of bone mass. As a result, your balance will improve, reducing the risk of falling. Every senior should incorporate balance exercises into their exercise regimen.

Myth 5: I won’t be able to exercise since I’m disabled.

  • Fact: People with disabilities face certain challenges when it comes to physical activity. However, there are many exercises that tailor to their needs. They can lift weights, stretch, do chair aerobics, chair yoga, and chair Tai Chi to help improve range of motion, muscle tone, and flexibility, as well as their cardiovascular health. Many gyms or swimming pools may offer classes and other adaptive programs to people in wheelchairs.

Myth 6: I’m too old.

  • Fact: You will never be too old to exercise. It will never be too late to get moving and improve your overall well-being. As a matter of fact, people who become active later in life reap more physical and mental benefits as opposed to younger people. If you haven’t tried exercising before or if you haven’t exercised in a long time, it’s best to start with gentle and simple exercises and build it up from there.

Exercising is for everyone. However, before you begin any form of exercise, be sure to consult your doctor or your healthcare team. They will most likely refer you to a reputable personal trainer or they may prescribe you with the right exercises for you.

How to Overcome Obstacles that Prevent You from Being Active

Did you notice your elderly loved one becoming more sedentary as they age? Many seniors tend to slow down as they grow older due to many different reasons, such as feelings of pain, weight changes, health problems, or worries about falling. Or maybe your elderly loved one thinks that exercising for seniors isn’t for them.

With everything that’s going on with our daily lives, it may be hard to maintain a regular exercise routine that you can stick to. And it won’t get easier as you get older due to body pain, health problems, and concerns regarding falling or other injuries.

If you think you’re too old to exercise or if you haven’t exercised before, you may feel that these are legitimate reasons to slow down and give up exercising altogether. However, these are exactly the reasons why you should get moving.

Keep in mind that whether you’re 9 or 90, it’s never too late to keep your body moving.

At Vista Living Senior Care and our team helps seniors improve the quality of their life by making our purpose built 10 resident Luxury Senior Care Homes in the Phoenix Arcadia area something special.  Sit and Be FIT exercises start our days and attendance is impressive with no one showing up late.

Vista Living Exercise Program

Seniors exercising at Vista Living Senior Care

We urge you to consider Vista Living Senior Care for your family, please schedule a tour, we know we have something special. Let us show you.  For more information please call Vista Living Senior Care at 480-456-1919 or Visit VistaLiving.net.

How Assisted Living Works – Common  Questions Answered

How Assisted Living Works – Common Questions Answered

Assisted living facilities provide alternative senior housing that is intended for seniors who may need an extra helping hand in doing everyday tasks such as medication management, bathing, dressing, and eating but do not necessarily need a 24-hour monitoring such as those offered by nursing homes.

Recent estimates show that more or less 1.2 million seniors in the United States are currently living in over 30,000 assisted living facilities in the country. On average, a senior transfer from a private living arrangement to an assisted living facility earns at least $30,000 yearly and is usually an 80-year-old female who is still capable of doing regular routines with little help.

A senior resident typically stays in an assisted living facility for an average of three years before they need to be moved to a community that offers monitoring 24/7 such as nursing homes. There are, however, circumstances that contribute to a resident being discharged from an assisted living facility. These include:

  • Inability to continue the payments for the facility
  • Seniors relocate back to their homes
  • Staying in a hospital
  • Moving to another senior care facility

The Rights of a Senior

Assisted living facilities are best for your senior loved one of they’re still able to do things on their own. Although they are independent, assisted living facilities still provide them with the care they need. Deciding to transfer your loved one to an assisted living facility enables them to maximize their capacities since they are exposed in a safe and supportive environment.

Moreover, the residents are also entitled to his/her rights in an assisted living facility. These rights include:

  • Right to be treated with dignity and respect
  • Freedom from any forms of neglect and abuse
  • Respecting their views on religion and allowing them to practice their belief
  • The right to privacy and personal space
  • Managing their own financial affairs unless legally restricted
  • To have a safe and homey environment
  • Freedom from being discriminated

There are other rights that your loved one may be able to enjoy in an assisted living facility. For the complete list and information, you may be able to visit assistedlivingfacilities.org.

Living Arrangements, Services, and Amenities of an Assisted Living Facility

The beauty of assisted living facilities is that they provide residents with vast choices when it comes to living arrangements. Most facilities may look like a home and may allow residents to avail a private or a shared room, depending on their preferences. Some facilities may even offer its residents with a studio apartment, dormitory type pads, or a shared one-bedroom apartment. They may also be allowed to choose a fully-furnished or an unfurnished space.

Assisted living facilities offer a lot of services to its residents. Some may also offer extra services if they need it. But usually, the basic services that a regular assisted living facility may offer its residents are:

  • Assistance with the basic daily routines such as bathing, dressing, eating, and medication management.
  • Administering medications and providing basic health assistance.
  • 24/7 security services
  • Group exercises
  • Wellness programs
  • Scheduled Recreational activities
  • Social services
  • Housekeeping and maintenance services
  • Laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • Activities that stimulate their cognitive reasoning
  • Meal preparation
  • Emergency call systems and protocols

The services that are offered to the residents vary in each facility. The more specific a senior is about his/her preference, the more they’ll likely look for a facility that would provide them with what they need.

Assisted Living Costs and Fees

When it comes to the costs of assisted living facilities, the most basic price usually include the services that are mentioned above. However, should your loved one need other services such as haircuts, nail care, or any other activities aside from the basic services offered, additional costs may apply. You may be able to talk with the management regarding the pricing of the additional services.

Generally, assisted living facilities cost lesser than nursing homes since they only provide housing and basic care to seniors. This type of senior care community costs approximately $2,000 but it could go lower or higher depending on some factors such as size, location, and the living arrangements.  

Government programs such as Medicaid, Social Services Block Grant, Veteran Aid, or Supplementary Security Income may help you in cutting the costs of assisted living. A few states may also allow you to make use of tax-exempt bonds or Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). Seniors may also be able to use their long-term care insurance in covering the costs for assisted living facilities; however, they won’t be able to use Medicare.

Quality of Assisted Care

Deciding to transfer your loved one into may require you to do a deep and intensive research. Knowing the policies and regulation allows you to narrow down your list of facilities that would give your loved one the best care.

As of today, there are still no federal regulation policies with regards to assisted living facilities but with the increasing number of facilities, most states are working to create a system that would regulate their operation. In fact, out of five states, two already have a working regulatory system, one is already revising their regulatory system, and 10 out of 50 states are already looking into assisted living.

Furthermore, you should also evaluate certain things relating to the assisted living facility including its administration and staff’s qualifications. With that said, the following are other factors you need to consider:

  • Ability to manage the facility
  • Experience with handling residents in assisted living
  • Educational background
  • Regular participation in training and seminars or making sure to remain up to date with techniques and activities to improve their service to residents.

The number of staff hired by the assisted living facility typically varies depending on the services offered, a total number of residents, or how big the facility is. Assessing this aspect would ensure that your loved one would be able to choose an assisted living facility that would cater all his/her needs. Usually, caregivers, nutritionists, administrators, physical therapists, medical team, wellness and health directors, and beauticians are hired by facilities in order to serve the needs of other residents.

To further assess the workforce of a facility, here are some of the factors you need to look out for:

  • Will the staff be able to cater the scheduled needs of their residents without any delay?
  • Should the need arise, will they be able to tend to the unscheduled needs of the seniors?
  • Are they capable of giving thorough and direct answers to any questions asked by the senior’s families?
  • Does the staff have enough skills, education, and training that is necessary for the job?

Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility

When finding the right facility to move your loved one into, you need to be assured that his/her needs would be tended. In order to make sure that you’re choosing the right facility, here are some questions you can ask:

  • In what ways are we able to pay for the fees of the facility?
  • What services are inclusive of the monthly plan?
  • Will the fees be flexible should my loved one’s needs change?
  • Even if there’s no change in the needs of my loved one, is it still possible that the fees will change? If that’s the case, how much notice will residents be given?
  • Is a deposit necessary? Would the deposit be refunded should my loved one change her mind and move to another facility or back home?
  • What are the complete services offered by your facility?
  • Is there any policy regarding outside services? If there is, what is the policy?
  • How is the level of care needed by my loved one assessed? How often do they need to be evaluated?

Looking for the best assisted living facility may cause us to overlook some things including the opinions of our loved ones. Even if we’re busy looking after their well-being, consulting them before making any big decisions could help make things easier. The important thing is they will feel safe, comfortable, and at home in the facility.

Assisted Living vs. Hospice

Assisted Living vs. Hospice

How Assisted Living and Hospice Work Together?

What comes to your mind when you hear the term hospice? Most people assume that when a senior’s health drastically declines, they would either have to physically move into a nursing home or a hospice. However, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t always true.

One of the most common misconceptions about hospice is that a lot of people still believe that ‘hospice’ is a place where seniors go to get treatment. While there are hospice facilities in the US, there are only a few of them. The term hospice pertains to a team of professionals who visits the elderly in their own homes – wherever they are located. Simply put, they are the ones who will go to the senior, rather than the other way around.

This is because seniors with terminal illnesses would rather spend their last days in the comforts of their own homes than in hospitals, nursing or hospice facilities. For the one million Americans seniors residing in assisted living facilities, they have considered these facilities to be their home. These seniors have formed lasting relationships with the staff, caregivers, and fellow residents.

Most assisted living facilities do not have an in-house hospice unit. In that case, the majority of them partner with community-based hospice companies so they can provide hospice services should their residents need it.

Hospice Care

One of the goals of hospice care is to lessen the pain and discomfort the patient feels when their illness is no longer appropriate for treatment. Medicare and other private healthcare insurance plans usually cover the cost of hospice care.

Hospice care is more than just giving medications – painkillers, sedatives, and whatnot. The care a hospice patient receives goes beyond medication management. Hospice care strives to maintain the best quality of life for your loved one for as long as possible. The hospice team not only ensures that the caregivers are well-versed on how to properly take care of the patient, but also provides emotional support and counseling to the patient and their loved ones. One of the primary goals of hospice care is to give the elderly an honorable, comfortable end of life.

Many assisted living facilities all over the United States are equipped with providing hospice care for their residents during their stay with the community. They are able to reap the benefits of hospice care without having to transfer to another facility or nursing home. However, in some states such as North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, the state requires that hospice care should only be given outside assisted living facilities.

Since assisted living facilities do not provide comprehensive care, they cannot assure that they can accommodate residents until their last days. Terminally ill seniors require extensive and consistent medical care. In this case, senior residents may have to move into a hospital or nursing home. However, if the senior does not need comprehensive care or need to be hospitalized, they can very much receive hospice care in the assisted living facility.

Providing Comfort and Care

When medications and treatments are no longer working for your elderly loved one, hospice care takes over to give them the assistance, care, and comfort they need in times of distress. The hospice team works together with caregivers and other assisted living staff in order to create and provide the best care for senior residents.

Another misconception about hospice care is that it precipitates mortality. However, this isn’t true. Research suggests that seniors receiving hospice care live longer and better lives as opposed to seniors who do not. There are a lot of common misconceptions about hospice care, but it is simply a philosophy of care that aims to put your loved one’s interests in mind.

Assisted Living Facilities

An Assisted Living Facility is a type of senior care option for seniors who only require minimal aid in activities of daily living.

It helps seniors to remain independent in a safe and healthy environment while providing them with the assistance they need.

A lot of assisted living facilities are an advocate of the philosophy ‘aging in place’. This means that the senior resident will receive care, one way or another, without having to leave the facility. Aging in place enables the residents to reside in their senior community of choice for as long as they want – from post-retirement and even to the end-of-life stage. This gives seniors a sense of security in their long-term care planning.

Assisted Living and Hospice Care: Working Together

Since an assisted living community is primarily for seniors who require minimal assistance, are these facilities able to accommodate residents approaching the end-of-life stage?

The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living says that in most cases, hospice care is available. Besides, hospice care was initially designed to be an in-home service with only the clinicians present from the agency. As mentioned, many assisted living facilities’ staff work with hospice agencies to determine the type and level of care needed by the patient.
Hospice care providers visit seniors residing in assisted living facilities who are terminally ill or at the end-of-life stage. The Assisted Living Federation of America states that approximately one-third of seniors in assisted living communities receive end-of-life care within the community.

When is Hospice the right choice?

There are several factors caregivers or family members can look out for that indicates when hospice care is appropriate for your loved one. These include:

  • Sudden or rapid unintentional weight loss
  • More frequent trips to the emergency room or the doctor’s office
  • An obvious decline in the senior’s physical and mental health status
  • A decline in the senior’s level of mobility, requiring numerous interventions by the facility’s staff
  • Requiring more assistance when it comes to daily activities or when the senior has become visibly weaker
  • The senior chooses to stop any aggressive treatment options
  • Underlying disease of the senior is rapidly progressing causing a new diagnosis

If you or the facility notice a steady decline in your loved one’s health or for seniors who are given a prognosis of six months or less, hospice care may be recommended by the facility or the senior’s medical team.

Dying is never easy. It takes a toll on the senior and his/her loved ones. However, it is inevitable; which is why hospice care ensures that your loved one will pass away with dignity and honor they so rightly deserve.

As your loved one ages, it is best to be prepared for every possibility – even the end-of-life stage. Assisted living facilities work with hospice care providers to accommodate the ever-changing needs of their residents so they don’t have to move into another facility.