What Is a CCRC, and How Do I Select the Right One?

memory-care A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is an ideal senior-living option for those planning to “age in place.” A typical CCRC offers several housing choices, as part of a continuum of care. These generally include independent living, assisted living,Skilled nursing (also known as nursing homes),and, sometimes, memory-care units. They can be the most expensive accommodations for aging adults, but they can be worth the cost. Residents have the flexibility to expand and change services as needed, without having to move to a new community. Care is individualized, and therefore it is more precise.

CCRC Services

Most community operators encourage residents to socialize, offering numerous education and entertainment programs. Other basic services may include the following:

  • health care services
  • meal preparation
  • personal care and hygiene
  • housekeeping
  • transportation
  • emergency assistance

3 Common CCRC Contract Types

  1. Extensive – Also called life contracts, extensive contracts are the most expensive because they include health care services and assisted living with no additional fees.
  2. Modified contract – A modified contract is similar to an extensive contract, except health care services are limited. If a resident needs additional services, he or she is charged a separate fee.
  3. Fee per service – This contract is less expensive initially. However, residents are charged for services on an as-needed basis.

Selecting the Right Community

It’s important to note the financial health of any prospective CCRC. These communities are very costly to maintain and tend to cut resident services when they are struggling financially. You want to ensure that this is not going to be a problem for your loved one in the future. An easy way to determine if a community is financially stable is to check residency rates. Such rates should be at or near capacity to maintain financial wellness.

Do some research online as well. Medicare.gov can provide ratings for skilled nursing facilities, as do individual state’s long term care ombudsmen. And there are a number of resources available to help you through the evaluation process.

Compare the costs to the cost for maintaining your loved one in their current home. Costs like transportation, companion care, housekeeping, transportation, meals, and medication assistance when added to mortgage or rent costs can end up being the same or more as a CCRC, so don’t automatically assume a CCRC is out of their budget range. Also consider if the community has an “entrance fee,” a one-time up-front payment and whether that is partially refundable. And don’t be afraid to ask what the annual increase is so that can be factored into your loved one’s budget.

Evaluation Tips

If possible, spend a few days in a community observing and assessing it. Some important factors to consider include the following:

  • The property – Is the facility properly maintained? Check the interior and exterior of the community. Does it feel like home, or does it seem institutional? It should be comfortable and homey so your loved one is at ease.
  • The residents – Speak with the residents. Inquire about their experiences in the community. Are they happy with the services? Do they have issues or complaints? Do they feel as though it is a good value? Most importantly, are these residents the type of people whom you want as friends and neighbors?
  • The staff – Speak with the staff to determine if they are friendly and genuinely caring. Ask to see licenses and credentials. Look at recent inspection reports. Make sure to inquire about any complaint investigations.

Finding the right community for your loved one is crucial to his or her happiness and well-being. Take your time with this endeavor. Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels “wrong” with a community, simply scratch it off your list and move on.

CCRCs offer wonderful senior-living solutions. As always, due diligence is the key to selecting the right services for your aging loved ones.

Preparing for a Loved One’s Golden Years

 Caring for aging loved ones has its challenges. The unexpected will undoubtedly occur. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare. It’s probably impossible to avoid all obstacles, but anything we can do to make circumstances more manageable, is well worth our time. A little planning and preparation truly go a long way. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a loved one’s golden years.

Documents

It is crucial for at least one family member to have access to the aging individual’s important documents. It is very stressful to gather needed records in the middle of a crisis. Having these in advance will save your family from unnecessary anxiety. Commonly required documents include:

  • ID – A photocopy of the person’s photo ID or driver’s license.
  • Certificates – You need certified copies of birth, marriage, and if applicable, spouse’s death certificates.
  • Social security card
  • Medical insurance cards – Medicaid, Medicare, and other health insurance cards.
  • Vehicle titles.
  • Passwords to online accounts.
  • Military records if applicable.
  • Contacts – Significant addresses, phone numbers, and emails.

Advance Directives

Living Will

This legal document is extremely helpful. It defines an individual’s wishes if they become unable to advocate for themselves. It generally refers to end-of-life care and decision-making. Your loved one outlines instructions on how to handle issues like mechanical ventilation, resuscitation, and pain management. It leaves little room for debate, giving families some much-needed relief during an immensely stressful time.

Health Care Power of Attorney

This legal document allows your loved one to choose someone to make decisions on their behalf. Of course, this person should generally understand the wishes of the aged individual. This type of advance directive requires a great deal of trust.

Frequent updates

Some information needs to be revised often. Try setting up a quarterly schedule to record changes.

 

Medication

Having a current list of medications is vital. Furthermore, note any allergies your loved one has to food or medicine. It’s helpful to have copies of medication dosage, filling pharmacy, and the doctor who prescribed it . Don’t forget over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and supplements that the individual takes regularly.

Finances

A person’s financial information is very private, so it’s understandable why your loved one may not want to share much of this data. However, it is tremendously useful to have on hand. This is especially true of expenses. If an individual must spend several weeks in the hospital, someone needs to make sure personal bills are being paid. In more serious situations, assets and investments play a crucial role in providing proper care. You may need to have an in-depth discussion with your loved one to explain how important it is for someone to have access to their finances. Perhaps they can select a trusted family member with whom to share this information. It should include assets, investments, expenses, bills, and bank account details,

We can’t predict the events that will occur as our loved ones age. We can, however, prepare and plan for various potential situations. Put forth a little effort now to prevent your family from experiencing unnecessary strain in the future.

 

Help Seniors Surrender the Keys-When is it Time to Stop Driving?

Driving is a privilege that many of us take for granted. When a person loses their ability to drive, it is often devastating. It’s a loss of autonomy and freedom, and a tangible recognition that the individual’s faculties are declining. However, it is inevitable that as we age our ability to drive safely diminishes. At some point, we all must face the fact that driving is no longer an option. So, how do we approach this subject with our aging loved ones? How do we know when it’s no longer appropriate for them to drive? This is a very touchy subject for many seniors. Here are some tips that can help you handle the situation.

Signs that it is time to surrender the keys :

Some older people recognize that they can no longer drive adequately. Their discomfort will push them to willingly hand over the keys. But in most cases, people fight to retain their driving privileges. The best way to determine if your loved one needs to stop driving is to get in the car and take a ride with them. Here are some clear signs that a person may not be able to continue driving safely.

  • Bumping curbs, especially when turning
  • Forgetting the destination
  • Multiple minor accidents or “fender benders”
  • Passing/missing exits or turns
  • Lack of signaling for lane changes and turns
  • Rolling through stop signs, instead of stopping
  • Difficulty seeing traffic lights/distinguishing the colors
  • Forgetting the route to a commonly-known destination
  • Generally not paying attention to surroundings
  • Difficulty steering or pushing brake/gas pedals
  • Vision issues including cataracts and macular degeneration

How to discuss the subject with your loved one:

Start Early and Talk Often

Begin discussing the issue long before the individual actually needs to give up their driving privilege. This gives them plenty of time to digest the information and expect the transition. Have frequent conversations about the matter. Speak candidly, creating an open and honest exchange.

Patience

It’s very important that you approach the situation with empathy. Begin by softly encouraging the individual to stop driving. Explain the dangers, without pointing out the person’s driving mistakes. For example, you don’t want to say something like, “You need to stop driving. You missed two turns yesterday and almost hit the neighbor’s dog this morning.”’ Instead, try using gentler language and asking questions that provoke discussion. For instance, an alternative statement would look something like, “I’m worried that you are going to get hurt. Do you still feel comfortable behind the wheel?”

Don’t Force it

Allow your loved one to come to their own conclusions about driving. Don’t force them to stop unless it is necessary. There may be a time when you have to take the car and keys. However, it is much more productive to let the individual come to that decision on their own. Encourage them to evaluate their feelings about driving. Point out the unsafe environmental factors. Bring attention to the horrible traffic conditions and crazy drivers on the road. When you put the fault on the environment, rather than the driving abilities of your loved one, you remove some of the resistance.

Examine the Alternatives

There are numerous transportation options. It’s helpful to evaluate all the choices with the aged individual. There are ride services like Uber, Lyft, even taxis. Many communities also provide some sort of transportation specifically designed for senior citizens. Additionally, you might want to consider relocating your loved one, in order to be closer to family members or within walking distance of important locations. Reassure the individual that he or she will not be stuck by showing them all the promising substitutes for driving.

A number of states have laws in place that attempt to stop hazardous older drivers. However, these laws often are not comprehensive enough and most older people must voluntarily stop driving. It is an emotionally charged subject and requires gentle negotiation. When handled with patience and understanding, families can resolve this issue w

The Harsh Reality of Ageism

Senior citizensPrejudice is generally frowned upon in our society. We strive for inclusion, fighting against racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. However, unfavorable stereotypes of older people are widely accepted, and ageism is not treated with the same seriousness as other types of bias. Unfortunately, senior citizens feel the harmful impacts of societal ageism. In order to create positive changes, we must understand the problem. Here, we will examine ageism and how it is affecting our aging population.

Cultural norms

Americans spend billions of dollars each year to hide signs of aging. There is an underlying belief that getting older is undesirable. Our culture values youth. We associate seniors with diminished mental capacities, rather than wisdom. When someone is confused, it’s common to say they are “having a senior moment.” We would never allow such negative language to describe other minority groups. Yet, we find it amusing to give birthday cards stating that an older person is “over the hill.” Is this the message we want to send to aging people? The implication is that once we are aged, life just goes downhill, and we are deemed fairly useless.

Medical professionals

While it’s probably unintentional, many physicians regularly reinforce ageist beliefs. They are less likely to recommend technological solutions for seniors, because they think older patients will not understand or use high-tech solutions. Doctors also tend to accept physical ailments as a natural part of aging, rather than looking for other potential causes. Therefore, many seniors do not receive the best care.

Media

Public portrayals of aged individuals are often stereotypical, unrealistic, and overall negative. Television is especially responsible for pervasive ageism. Older characters are inclined to be one-dimensional and ridiculously stereotypical versions of senior citizens. They are underrepresented on television, but when they are shown, they often have these generalized qualities:

 

  • Childlike
  • Cranky
  • Unapproachable
  • Bumbling and confused

There is also a bizarre representation of older people who are hyper physically active. An example is an 85-year-old male character jumping out of airplanes for fun. It’s just another unrealistic portrayal of aging.

The impact

The most important part of the ageism equation is how it affects seniors. Some people may believe it’s just lighthearted humor to use ageist language and stereotypes. However, it deeply impacts aging individuals. It creates negative outcomes, both mentally and physically. Ageism causes people to feel useless, depressed, and anxious. From a physical standpoint, research shows that older individuals experience more health problems if they believe aging is the cause. Seniors who reject stereotypes are overall happier and healthier.

How can we help?

Healing begins with education. Psychologists and other mental health professionals must educate the general public about the mental and emotional dangers of ageism. Additionally, seniors should be knowledgeable about these false stereotypes. We need to focus on the positive aspects of getting older and ensure that aging individuals feel useful. We all need to feel that our lives have purpose. This may be even more crucial as we get older.

The systemic ageism running rampant in our society is problematic and unfortunate. To correct the problem, we must first recognize and understand it. Informing people of the harmful effects of ageism is the best way to begin the healing process. Hopefully, this institutionalized prejudice will become as unacceptable and taboo as racism and sexism.   

 

How to Cope with Aging Parents and Sibling Conflicts

Caring for aged loved ones frequently creates stress and conflict for family members, especially among siblings. It’s difficult for families to provide quality care when they are busy arguing. So, it is in the best interest of our aging relatives that we understand why these disputes occur and how we can solve them.

Areas of Conflict

Imbalance

The most common reason for fighting between siblings is a perceived imbalance of responsibility. If one sibling feels as if she is doing all the work, a grudge builds quickly. Or, if a sibling believes he is providing most of the financial assistance; he may think that he is being treated unfairly. Most often, the adult child living closest to the aged relative, is the person who provides the majority of the hands-on care. She is the one driving mom to doctor appointments and doing the grocery shopping. Anytime a particular sibling feels that they have been delegated more than a fair share of work, resentment, anger, and frustration eventually come to the surface.

 

Finances

Disagreements about money typically involve an aging parent’s assets. Siblings may argue about how to pay for care and how to handle funds. Some adult children adamantly protect assets because they hope to inherit the parent’s estate. However, it is often necessary to liquidate resources in order to help pay for care. Furthermore, some adult children believe they are entitled to a larger share of the future estate because of the disproportionate amount of care they currently provide the parent. Families regularly begin fighting over the estate years before the aged person passes away.

Solutions

  • Communication – As with any conflict in life, communication is the key. Siblings and family members must speak honestly and openly about their feelings and the issues. In order for this to work, people must put their egos aside and focus on the well being of the senior in question.
  • Professional advisors – A great way for families to step aside and view the bigger picture is to hire a trained mediator. This could be a senior care advisor, family therapist, or even a qualified religious counselor. A neutral third-party can generally calm the waters and bring a fresh perspective to the situation.
  • Personal responsibility – Understand and accept your role in the quarrel. Do your best to put aside negative emotions and blaming others. Simply do what is best for the aging individual and let the rest go. You will have plenty of time later to deal with hurt feelings, now is the time to take care of your loved one. .
  • Planning – Determine in advance which sibling will handle each responsibility. Set up regular meetings or conference calls to discuss current status and changes.  This ensures that everyone is on the same page and provides an opportunity for open discussion.  Siblings may want to switch responsibilities as circumstances change.These meetings might take place twice a year, quarterly, or even monthly, depending on the situation.

Family conflicts are difficult, requiring tremendous patience and understanding to overcome. However, it is necessary to resolve these issues in order to provide the best care for your aging relatives.