Signs Your Loved One May Need More Help – What to Look for this Holiday Season

by Cara Clemmons, Director of Sales for The Plaza Assisted Living

With the holidays around the corner, many families are reconnecting with loved ones they may not have seen in some time.  While 2020 has allowed for an endless amount of virtual visits, such as Zoom calls with Mom, there are key signs to look out for when visiting in person. Below are a few things to take notice of and consider, when determining if your loved one may be in need of more care than their current living situation provides.

  • Is your loved one wearing the same clothes since the last time you spoke?  Does your loved one look a bit disheveled or are they managing their grooming as they did before?  Many adult children notice this as a sign that perhaps their loved one is not taking care of themselves as they used to.  Sometimes this is due to activities of hygiene becoming challenging, as they age.  Other times, this could be due to lack of routine, onset of dementia, or even geriatric depression. 
  • Has your loved one lost some weight?  Weight loss can be a sign that your loved one needs more help.  Older adults stop eating for a variety of reasons, and it is always a good idea to check in, to see what is happening, if you start to notice, they have shed a few pounds since last you saw each other.  This can be for a variety of reasons including a lack of interest in food due to wakened sense of taste, side effects of medications, forgetting to eat, loss or weakened sense of taste, depression or even challenges securing groceries. 
  • Is your loved one repeating themselves often, seem a bit foggy or even aggressive?  Forgetfulness and confusion happen to the best of us, and it is a normal part of the aging process.  However, if you are noticing this more and more frequently with your loved one, this could be a sign of cognitive decline.   Some experiencing cognitive decline can experience aggression as well, and this may be a big change in their behavior.  If you are seeing these signs, it is always a good idea to check in with your loved one’s Primary Care physician, to monitor and even diagnose, if applicable.
  • Are there any physical injuries you notice on your loved one, such as bumps, bruises, skin tears or burns?  Are there any new visible damages to their vehicle or home?  Physical injuries and visible property damage can sometimes be symptoms of larger safety concerns in your loved ones life.  Many seniors may not remember a fall, but the physical injuries are a red flag, for you to investigate further. 
  • Does your loved one have any opportunities for socialization, or are they isolated?  In the era of COVID-19, so many of the normal socialization opportunities that our Kupuna had to engage with their peers have faded away.  Weekly choir practice has been canceled, church service has become virtual.  Reach out to your loved one and see if they have opportunities for socialization and human connection.  Socialization is not only good for cognitive health, but also good for the heart, as we are social beings who need interaction.  This also helps combat loneliness, isolation and depression.

COVID-19 Update: Visiting Residents During the Holidays

COVID-19 Travel Guidance

The Plaza Opens New Senior Community in Kaneohe

The Plaza Assisted Living’s newest senior living community in Windward Oahu features 117 rental apartments, contemporary Hawaiian art and an all-new 24-hour extended care service for non-ambulatory residents. The Plaza at Kaneohe is located directly across Windward Mall at the corner of Haiku Road and Alaloa Street. The four-story building can accommodate up to 145 residents. The 70,000-square-foot site is being leased from Kamehameha Schools.

The rental apartments range from private studios, one-bedrooms and shared suites, which are available on a month-to-month or long-term basis. “We’re really excited to welcome our kupuna and their families to our newest community, which offers greater choices for comprehensive care, resort-like amenities and stimulating social activities – with the lush Koolau Mountains as a backdrop,” said Tricia Medeiros, Chief Operating Officer, The Plaza Assisted Living. “The living spaces are accentuated with a collection of incredible contemporary artwork that reflects Hawai‘i’s idyllic landscapes and storied past.” The new community includes Lamakū Extended Care, which The Plaza is offering for the first time to non-ambulatory residents who require a greater level of care due to a severe injury or stroke. Skilled nurses provide services such as round-the-clock monitoring. Extended care is also available on a short-term basis for those released from the hospital early and need additional time to recover from a serious illness or surgery.

In addition to Lamakū Extended Care, The Plaza at Kaneohe provides specialized levels of care for independent living, assisted living, short-term respite stays and memory care as part of its
HALI‘A Memory Care program. Rates begin at $4,350 per month. Also unique to The Plaza at Kaneohe is its contemporary art collection. A half-dozen prominent local artists and craftsman were commissioned to create pieces that captured the spirit of old Hawaii using traditional materials, rich textures and vivid colors.

The collection includes:

• Boris Kekaiuluikahikina Huang’s lei hulu, Hawaiian feather lei, displayed in the living room. The lei is made with feathers from non-endangered birds such as geese, pheasants, ducks and
peacocks.
• Robert Charon captured the brilliant orange of koi contrasted against the cobalt fishpond water in his acrylic painting that hangs in the main lobby.
• Kelly Sueda’s signature Blue Tree oil on canvas paintings, which hangs in the reception lobby, depicts lush landscapes and the Koolau Mountain Range.
• Craftsman William Mahoni created a one-of-a-kind Hawaiian weapon, inspired by traditional Hawaiian weaponry, which is framed in a Koa shadow box located in the bistro area.
• Famed artist, musician and genealogist Douglas Po’oloa Tolentino, designed a pastel near the lobby elevator depicting a Hawaiian warrior clutching taro.
• Two of William Grix’s intricate glass works displayed in the lobby reflect the natural beauty of Kaneohe – a gleaming sunrise over Kaneohe Bay and the Koolau Mountain Range.

The Plaza at Kaneohe is the sixth residence in The Plaza Assisted Living family of properties, which include services such as health care support, housekeeping and exercise and wellness programs.
Scheduled transportation is available for residents to attend doctor appointments or run errands. Modern amenities range from restaurant-style dining, coffee bistros, movie theaters and hair salons. For rental inquires or more information, please call (808) 377-5292.

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Having the Conversation: It’s Time for Assisted Living

The best time to have the conversation with your parent about assisted living is before the question comes up. If you wait until the last minute, it will be that much harder to sort things out. Here are a few tips to help you plan and carry out a productive, drama-free conversation with your aging parent.

Have An Action Plan

Ask mom and dad what they think about senior living communities and what they want you to do if they can no longer live independently. It is also important to define what living independently means. Spend some time discussing the conditions under which they would consider moving to a senior community over living alone. Create an action plan to use if community living becomes inevitable.

Explore Home Health Care And Living At Home Assistance Programs

Some seniors can continue living at home with the services of a visiting nurse or with someone to help with the tasks of daily living. This will largely depend on the specific limits of their independent living abilities, but consulting with an assisted living provider can help you determine your best options.

Let The Situation Run Its Course

If your parent is of sound mind and determined to go it alone, you might have to honor their request and see what happens. Sometimes an aging parent is more able to cope with independence than we give them credit for. On the other hand, it might prove to be more than they can handle. This might help them to see that the ease of living in a community would be preferable to the struggle of living alone.

Focus On The Positives

Point out potential benefits such as no longer having to clean, cook, shop or do laundry. Some upscale Oahu senior communities are equivalent to high-end resorts. Five-star dining, engaging activities, fitness and wellness programs, a beautiful setting and luxuriously appointed private rooms and apartments can all be part of an Oahu assisted living package. If less fancy accommodations are in the offing, you can focus on the opportunity to relax and let someone else run the show.

Go Community Hopping With Mom Or Dad

Find a few places that look promising and arrange guided tours. Make it clear to your parent that you are only shopping for a new place to live, not moving. Additionally, it is important that your parent feel they have a lot of say in the choice of where to live in order to get their buy-in.

Make Plans Based On Illness Progression

If your parent has been diagnosed with a progressively debilitating condition, you can plan ahead based on the most likely course of the illness. Leave yourselves some wiggle room. It’s easier to make plans on an “if and when” basis than to rush headlong into a wrong decision.

Discuss The “Final Residence” Fear

It can be scarier for seniors to face their own mortality than to move into an assisted living community. End-of-life issues can be fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. One-on-one counseling or a visit with a pastor or a priest may provide some reassurance.

Leaving home and moving into an unfamiliar facility to live with strangers can feel like abandonment to a parent. It’s not an easy time, but with love and compassion, you can be a strong and comforting presence for mom or dad, even in the midst of this challenging and difficult transition.

Independent Living Checklist

Choosing a senior living community can seem like a daunting task – especially when considering an independent living program. How can you tell in advance which community is right for you? After all, what seems fabulous to your best friends might seem stuffy or overly lively to you, and vice versa. The good news, though, is that if you ask enough questions and spend enough time visiting each community, you’ll know when it feels right. To get you started, here’s a checklist of what to research online, what to ask over the phone, and what to look for when you visit.

Narrow your search by region and community:

  • Is the community in a town or community that you like or have heard good things about?
  • Is the location convenient for family and friends to visit?
  • How far is the nearest airport, and is it an airport with frequent, reasonably priced flights?
  • Is the area safe, with a low crime rate? (Use websites like Crime Reports, Trulia, and Neighborhood Scout to check crime rates and safety records.)
  • Is this a locally operated community, or part of a regional or national chain?
  • If it’s part of a chain, is it a well-respected name you trust? (Check reviews of the brand, not just the individual community you’re considering.)
  • Is the community gated or open?
  • Are there age restrictions on this community?
  • Is the community close to shopping, restaurants, a medical center, and other services? Try using websites and apps to explore the neighborhood virtually.
  • What are the housing options, and do they suit your needs?
  • Is this a continuum of care community (CCRC)? (Are there other levels of care available, such as assisted living, should you need it?)
  • What is the cost range, and is there a buy-in fee?
  • Is there a meal plan, and how flexible is it? If so, what are the dining facilities like?
  • Check reviews: What are the comments and reviews from the Better Business Bureau, your Area Agency on Aging, and here on Caring.com?

Ask when you call:

  • Are you currently accepting new residents?
  • If not, is there a wait list, and how long is the typical wait? (Remember, many people join wait lists at several communities, so the list may be shorter than it seems. It’s always worth getting on the wait list if you’re interested.)
  • What services and amenities are included in the price?
  • What services are available for additional fees?
  • What types of payment do you accept?
  • Do you have any programs to help with the transition process?Ask when you visit:
  • About the community:
    • Is the neighborhood quiet and pleasant?
    • Is covered parking available, and is it free or is there an additional charge?
    • Is there easy access to public transportation?
    • Are the buildings and grounds clean, spacious, and well maintained?
    • Are the common spaces in the community pleasant and appealing?
    • How many rooms are available where you can visit with other residents and with visiting family members?
    • How extensive are the outdoor areas for recreation, exercise, and visiting?
  • About living arrangements:
    • Do the accommodations include a wide range of housing options, including smaller apartments or studios should you wish to downsize?
    • Were you invited to view all the different types of units available?
    • Is there adequate storage space in the unit, or is additional storage provided?
    • How are the views — do your windows face a garden or other green space?
    • Are dogs, cats, and other pets allowed and, if so, are there limits on type or size?
    • Will you be allowed to have visitors at any time and overnight, or are there curfews or other rules?
    • Is there a homeowners’ association with membership fees?
    • Are there homeowner rules about upkeep and decorating?
    • Will you be required to have renter’s insurance?
    • Are housekeeping services available, and at what price?
    • Which maintenance issues are you responsible for and which are included with the unit?
  • About cooking and food:
    • Will your visiting family members be invited to join you for meals?
    • Do the residents seem to like the food?
  • About activities and social life:
    • Is there an extensive, varied schedule of classes and activities, including some that interest you?
    • Are there evening events, such as movie nights and performances by local theater, dance, and music groups?
    • Is there a gym or fitness center?
    • What types of additional recreation facilities are offered?
    • Are there media and computer rooms available?
    • Is there a private dining or community room available for family and other large events?
    • Are there religious services in the community or nearby?
    • Is there a barbershop and beauty salon in the community or nearby?
  • About the staff:
    • Is there an activity director or staff members charged with organizing and leading activities?
    • What’s the staff turnover rate?
    • Are background checks performed before hiring staff? If so, when and how?
    • How much training do staff members have?
    • Does the community work with an agency or registry that provides in-home care companions in case you need assistance in future?
  • About medical care:
    • Is there an RN, or CNA on staff?
    • What specific services are available from doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and others?
    • Is the community affiliated with a hospital or nursing home if more care is needed?
    • Does the community work with an agency or registry that provides nursing and medical assistance in case you need it in future?·  Forms to ask for:
  • A recent list of weekly activities and events
  • A recent weekly menu of meals and snacksWrite down all the answers to your questions as you go, and keep a checklist like this for each independent living community you visit. If your visit was scheduled ahead of time, it’s a good idea to return for an impromptu drop-in visit to see if your experience is just as pleasant. (If you’re told you can’t come in for an unscheduled visit, that’s a very bad sign.) Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few favorites, schedule in-depth follow-up visits and dig a little deeper.

Contact The Plaza Assisted Living today to schedule a tour – see our variety of care programs (including Independent Living), firsthand! Call (808) 377-5292.

This article was originally published by caring.com at https://www.caring.com/articles/independent-living-checklist.

The First 4 Weeks in Senior Housing – Steps for A Successful Transition

Transitioning from home ownership to life in senior housing can be difficult for aging parents. Whether your loved one is moving into a senior community or an assisted living center, these steps can help you ease into this new phase in life.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

In any situation, moving into new surroundings can be stressful. Recognizing the potential that your parent is experiencing anxiety as a part of the transition can lead to greater understanding for what your loved one is experiencing, and help them get used to their new environment quicker. By acknowledging their anxious feelings and focusing on the benefits of the move, you can help them feel more optimistic about their future in senior housing.

Talk It Out

Likely, you will also be feeling at least some slight anxiety yourself. Concerns about your parent adjusting to their new environment are to be expected, but discussing them and bringing any fears or anxieties to light can help diminish everyone’s uneasiness. Having a member of the nursing or housing staff with you during this conversation is a great way to get questions answered and make everyone feel more comfortable.

Explore Your New Environment

One of the best ways to overcome a parent’s anxieties toward senior housing is to help them become familiar with their new home. Common areas are a great place to meet new neighbors and find out what amenities are available. Take advantage of on-site services like hair salons, computer areas, libraries, and fitness facilities. The best assisted living facilities also offer activities programming, such as exercise, arts and crafts, and even pet therapy. Getting involved is a great way for your relative to meet new people and stay stimulated!

Develop a Support Network

One of the greatest indicators of successfully transitioning to senior living is the resident’s ability to meet new people. During the first week, or ideally before, go with your parent to introduce yourselves to caregivers and immediate neighbors. A few familiar faces – and names to go with them – can go a long way toward making them feel at home in their new residence. This is also a good time to provide your contact information to staff members and even new acquaintances. Employees at the senior housing facility will appreciate knowing family members are open to any concerns they may have about a new resident.

Relax! 

You and your loved ones may feel some discomfort right now, but this option was chosen because senior housing makes sense at this stage of your parent’s life. Although partial loss of independence can be upsetting, it’s also important to realize that many hazards and difficulties have now been removed. The setting may be new, but it’s also safer and provides a built-in peer group. With cleaning services, tasty prepared meals, scheduled transportation and other services available, low-maintenance living is now a reality. After years of working hard and caring for others, your mom or dad deserves a chance to take it easy and enjoy life.

For more information on what to expect, contact our friendly staff at The Plaza Assisted Living.