Thrive In Place Blog

4 Free & Low-Cost Ideas to Improve Care for Your Aging Parents

Your aging parents’ care can quickly become costly. From expensive medical specialists and prescriptions that may not be covered by their insurance, to wages lost from needing to take time off work or driving back and forth between two homes, caregiving carries a steep price.

Is there anything the adult children of older parents can do to improve care for their parents in a cost efficient, less disruptive way?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes! Here are a few free or low-cost ways you can care for your aging parents:

1) Get Grandkids & Grandparents Together

[INFOGRAPHIC] How Baby Boomers Will Impact the Nursing Shortage

The nursing shortage cannot be understood solely in terms of numbers – numbers like, by 2020 there will be nearly 25 million Baby Boomers with multiple chronic conditions and over 1 million new nurses will be needed – but rather in terms of what those numbers mean for our own aging loved ones.

What happens to Grandma and Grandpa when only 10% of long-term care communities have enough nurses to provide basic care? Who will be caring for our aunts and uncles, cousins and friends? If less than 1% of registered nurses are certified in adult-gerontology, will the people we love actually be taken care of by the people we’re entrusting them with?

Numbers may not tell the whole story, but this infographic from Maryville University entitled “How Baby Boomers Will Impact The Nursing Shortage” does give us a glimpse into what the future might look like:

As you can see, there is a critical shortage of gerontology certified nurses who have the preparation required to address the needs of and care for older adults. Plus, faced with rising healthcare costs, many aging Americans and their families are unable to afford the special care they need. How can organizations in the field of aging meet the demands of this population when faced with an incredible shortage of qualified caregivers?

Fortunately, the right technology can scale and amplify a workforce in such short supply. IndependaTVe is one such technology; specifically, it’s an integrated tech platform with solutions for all organizations in the field of aging, from ALs and CCRCs to faith-based senior living communities and short-term rehabs. Smart medication reminders, dining menus and surveys, digital community calendars & more reduce staff workload so senior care organizations can deliver the quality of care their residents expect and deserve, regardless of staff size or labor market shortages. Download the IndependaTVe brochure now to discover how this technology can help your organization provide more care with fewer staff.

Infographic provided by Maryville University Online Nursing Program.

The Age of Senior Living Innovation Is Here

Innovation in senior living is more than possible, it’s already happening. From communities purposefully designed to reduce accidental injuries, to advanced eldercare technology enabling convenient family engagement, the field of aging is experiencing its “innovation period”.

Key senior living operations are pioneering the path for other organizations by adopting innovative practices while others are recently catching on and working to become more innovative. Either way, everyone in the field of aging is benefitting from the progress being made. Read on to discover three critical ways the field of aging benefits from becoming more innovative.

1) Competition Provides Better Holistic Care

Senior living innovation drives greater care at a lower cost to improve quality of life for aging adults. Competition in the senior living industry leads to better care for all aging Americans. By becoming more innovative in how we provide care, other smart senior living organizations likewise adopt these practices to stay competitive as a useful resource for older adults. As a result of this race to the top, a greater number of aging Americans receive better care – not just for their bodies and minds, but for the person as a whole.

It has been documented by AARP in their Key Indicators of Well-Being 2012 survey and reported on by senior living communities like The Clairborne in their article on “The Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Senior Care” that there are connections between the body, mind and spirit; when one part of the three is in great shape, the other two are likely to be as well. Recognizing how this trifecta plays together is a huge part of person-centered care, and influential senior living operations are competing to discover innovative ways to deliver the best care based on the most current research.

As an added benefit, competition amongst senior living organizations to provide better, holistic care more efficiently and effectively is leading us towards that goal more quickly. This huge bonus is a game-changer since today’s seniors are able to reap the rewards instead of being forgotten in favor of the next generation of older adults.

2) Senior Living Innovation Decreases Operational Costs

From an organizational perspective, operational costs decrease as innovations are made in the field of aging. Although it’s true that there is an increase in operational costs in the short term as we collectively determine the right formula to deliver the best care, over the course of five to ten years, overall caregiving and operational costs decrease as we reduce inefficiencies.

Take a look at how much money your own organization may be spending on care delivery to seniors with more advanced needs, or wasting through disorganized staff administrative practices. These are real numbers we’re talking about and although nearly all of us in the field of aging are in it to provide the care that’s so desperately needed by our most vulnerable population, realistically we all rely on finances and funding to keep our organizations going. Fortunately, innovations made by all parts of the senior living industry – from real estate and CCRCs to eldercare technology and caregiving teams – will likewise benefit the field of aging as a whole.

Plus, streamlined organizations enjoy the additional benefit of increased finances available to take risks on new opportunities. Not only does risk-taking enable innovation and advance the field of seniorcare, but it simultaneously positions organizations as trusted brands, deeply invested in delivering the best possible care. Once senior living organizations reach the position where operational costs have significantly decreased, our industry will be able to continue iterating and adjusting as seniors’ needs change, leading to brighter futures for us all.

3) Innovation Improves Seniors’ Quality of Life

Purpose-driven senior living communities and organizations redefine aging through innovative ideas and operations. Consumers don’t feel limited by their wheelchairs or walkers; they feel free to move around. Seniors are treated with dignity and respect because the life plan community empowers them to lead their own lives while offering support when they need it.

Quality of life for seniors isn’t determined by a fresh coat of paint in their bedroom or an aquarium of colorful fish in the common room; it’s determined by how happy, healthy and cared-for each individual person feels. Innovative life plan communities value the person as an individual rather than prioritizing incomplete measures of happiness such as “Did we feed Resident X three times today? Did we clean their bedroom?” Instead they ask, “Did Joan enjoy chatting with Nurse Sally about their mutual fondness for yoga after exercise class? Did we treat her belongings gingerly – as if they were ours – while tidying up her personal space?”

Senior living innovation facilitates caring for the aging adult as a holistic person because of the new organizational practices and caregiver perspectives which emerge as a result. Older adults can finally enjoy the benefits of aging, such as exploring new hobbies they were too busy for during middle and older adulthood, because of innovative care delivery practices. Together, purpose-driven organizations and innovation in the field of aging improve quality of life for seniors.

Innovation in the Field of Aging

Innovation doesn’t solely benefit senior living operations, it provides real value to the people living in these communities to help them thrive. It’s absolutely necessary to the advancement of caregiving and care delivery practices. Innovative ideas and practices in the field of aging are changing real, human lives, like yours and mine, right now. It’s replacing outdated methods based on stale research with new approaches according to the latest scientific discoveries. As the field of aging continues to innovate, imagine where that innovation will take us in the next five years. Technology is rapidly developing – the only thing moving faster is innovative ideas.

You too can easily be an industry leader and innovator.  To see how cost effective and easy this can be — download the IndependaTVe brochure and discover how this innovation can bring your senior living organization up to speed.


How to Prevent Memory Loss in Older Adults

Memory loss is one of the most common mental health issues affecting older adults and their independence. Lack of independence can consequently result in depression, stress, and social isolation. Maintaining the mind and its health is an extremely important aspect of senior care, particularly when it comes to memory. Here are a few ways aging Americans can fight against memory loss.

Puzzles and Word Games

Puzzles and games are a great way to keep the brain active. Consistently challenging the mind is a key component in mental health, especially when it comes to aging. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are the most recommended options for memory stimulation, though countless brain games are available with a quick internet search.

Learning a New Skill

Studies are now showing that learning new skills such as picking up a new hobby greatly improve memory in older adults. Of course, one can’t learn a new skill every day, so supplementing crocheting lessons with daily crosswords can make a great recipe for memory retention.

A Healthy and Balanced Diet

The food you eat also impacts your mental wellbeing. A good diet is necessary for the mind to stay sharp and for memory to improve. Of course, along with consuming a healthy, nutritious diet, aging Americans should exercise to keep the blood flowing to the brain. Staying fit and eating well are the best ways to combat nearly any mental health problem that occurs as a result of age.

Organizing Your Life

A scattered, disorganized life sets anyone up for forgetfulness. Clear out unneeded items and store possessions with the intention of making an older adult’s life easier. Let their home be a place where it is difficult to forget where they keep a specific item. You may also want to suggest a day planner of appointments and events to keep track of daily life.

Part-Time Jobs

Working during retirement is rising in popularity for its numerous positive benefits. Older adults who work are happier and healthier as a result of social interaction, mental stimulation, and physical activity. All these aspects of employment work toward memory retention as our aging loved ones learn the new skills of their job and talk to new people. An extra bit of income also never hurts.

Quality Sleep

The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep. Anyone who has gotten less than that on a regular basis can testify that it causes memory loss. Keeping daily life on schedule when you are tired is difficult for people of all ages and therefore can impact people who are aging as well. When older Americans do not get enough quality sleep, their mental well-being, memory included, is sure to suffer. If they are experiencing insomnia, it is important that you find the cause and eliminate it whether it means buying a new mattress or speaking to a doctor about sleep medication.

Memory loss is often accepted as a normal part of aging. However living with memory loss is preventable with the right activities and alterations. Diet and sleep can be tricky to tackle but buying a crossword puzzle book is not. Get the older adult in your life mentally active whether it is through trivia games, Sudoku, or even finding a part time job. Don’t accept life with memory loss, find a way to fight it.

This guest post was written by Jim Vogel. Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created ElderAction.org after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support. Their site offers elder-positive resources and other helpful information on aging. In his spare time, Jim loves fishing, reading, and spending time with his kids.

Image via Pixabay by stevepb

“Ageist”: 3 Negative Stereotypes About Aging BUSTED

Who do we picture when you think of a senior? Do we imagine someone with gray hair, bifocal glasses, outdated clothes, dentures, and a cane or walker? Do we associate this person with diminished mental or physical capabilities, simply because of their age?  If so, this is called “ageism”, and we’re here to show a few examples of why it should stop.

There are a host of negative stereotypes about aging ranging from health and mobility to the ability to understand technology. These stereotypes are perpetuated by the media, and unfortunately by society at large — yes, that means many of us, and often inadvertently. While many older adults develop certain conditions associated with aging, these conditions do not represent all older Americans. Discover how these three active adults are shattering stereotypes of aging:

Ageist Stereotype #1: Health

Imagine a 25 year old man standing next to a 65 year old man. Which would you say is healthier?

Many people wouldn’t hesitate to answer that the 25 year old is healthier than his 65 year old counterpart. But how do you define health? There are plenty of young adults who suffer from chronic health conditions such as obesity, and older adults who are the perfect picture of health. In fact, a 2011 survey by psychcentral.com claims that young people think they’re healthier than they are. Young or old, age is not necessarily an indicator of health.

Jo Pavey is an excellent example of an older adult who is in better health than her younger counterparts. She became the oldest-ever European female athletics champion when she won the gold medal in the European 10,000 meter run at age 40. Coming in at 32:22.39, Pavey made headlines in 2014 upon her incredible win which came only 10 days after she won the Commonwealth bronze medal in Glasgow. Pavey beat a 24 year old athlete – 16 years her junior – during the 10,000 meter race, shattering the stereotype that someone older can’t compete effectively against younger participants.

Getty (Photographer). (2014, August 12). Jo Pavey [digital image]. Retrieved from http://i3.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article4041991.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Jo-Pavey.jpg.

Ageist Stereotype #2: Mobility

Let’s revisit that mental image of an older American: did you picture someone with a cane, walker or wheelchair?

The truth is that more than 2/3rds of aging adults do not use walking aids. For the 1/3rd who do, a better perspective to take is how the walking aid empowers the person to be more mobile, not that they are confined or limited to using the aid.

Harriette Thompson, however, is one active American who completely destroys the myth of older adults with limited mobility. Thompson was 92 when she earned the title of “oldest woman to run a competitive 26 miles and 385 yards” last year during the San Diego “Rock n Roll” marathon. A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson is accustomed to beating the odds. She further defied stereotypes about aging when she first decided to take up running at age 76, at which point she began running marathons every year – she has skipped one marathon, though, since she was undergoing cancer treatment at the time. Thompson demonstrates that older age represents a new chapter of life.

Paul Nestor/Competitor Group via AP (Photographer). (2015, May 31). Hariette Thompson [digital image]. Retrieved from http://sports.yahoo.com/news/92-old-seeks-become-oldest-woman-finish-marathon-071230572–spt.html.

Ageist Stereotype #3: Relationships

The stereotype that all seniors have been married for decades or are widowed after many years together, has existed for centuries. However, in the modern age of the Internet, this stereotype about older adults’ romantic relationships is falling apart. While many older Americans are just as in love with their spouses as they were on their wedding day 30, 40, or 50+ years ago, a great deal of those aged 65 plus are single and ready to mingle! Websites such as seniorpeoplemeet.com, ourtime.com, and datingforseniors.com are a testament to the fact that we all enjoy love in our silver and golden years. In fact, 6% of Americans between 55-64 years use dating websites or apps – only 4% less than people aged 18-24 years old according to U.S. News.

For Bruce and Bernadetta Bateman, however, love was found the “old-fashioned” way: offline. They married at 76 and 73 years old after meeting at the Lakewood Village retirement community in Florida. Bruce fell for Bernadetta first, although Bernadetta didn’t see Bruce as a potential love interest until after Bruce sent her a condolence note when Bernadetta’s pet passed away. The Batemans were betrothed in January 2012 and married only two months later. It just goes to show that there is no age limit when it comes to falling in love!

US News & World Report (Author). (2015, May 1). Bruce and Bernadetta [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/cmsmedia/2a/58/74bbfcc2459392c18bb33e8afeeb/150501-brucebernadetta-submitted.jpg.


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  • Our guests use the video chat and photo and message sharing features of Independa to stay connected with their families. In fact this week we admitted a guest who has a daughter in Georgia and another in Italy. I spoke with the daughter about how to share photos and messages and to make video calls from her Independa device, and later went to see the guest about how it was going. She said to me “Kelly this video chat is so cool! I don’t care how long I have to be in here now because I can see my daughters!” It’s just amazing to see one of our guests be able to connect with a loved one all the way from Italy!

    Kelly Miles, Director of Rec Therapy
  • You don’t need to keep calling me now to remind me, my TV just told me to take my medication!

    93 Year Old Independa User
  • I love that Dad can get digital photos now. He didn’t want a Facebook account so the only time he would see any photos was when we came over to visit and we’d show him on our iPhone. Now he gets them himself on the TV all the time, and when people come to visit him he proudly shows them his photo album on the TV.

    USA Properties
  • I’ve been using video chat and it has opened up my world – my family who live close by still visit once a week, but now I get to see them every day. I also get to see the rest of the family who live interstate and can’t come to visit. I also video chat with old friends who I haven’t seen for years. It has made such a big difference to my life, I don’t feel isolated anymore. I highly recommend this to other people; it really does change your life.

    USA Properties
  • I live in California, my 80 year-old dad lives in Texas and my 21 year-old daughter lives in Colorado. My daughter spends all her time on social media using her smart phone, whereas my dad spends all his time watching TV, he doesn’t understand social media and doesn’t have a smart phone. Independa is great because not only does it bring us closer despite the geographical distance between us, it bridges the gap between the generations because it uses the technology they are most comfortable with.

    USA Properties
  • We use the video chat feature in the resident’s TV to get the entire circle of care together at once; we will have the nurse and the physical therapist in the room with the resident, and we will then video call their family. That way everyone who is involved in their care gets the same message at the same time and can ask questions while we are present so there is no confusion. One time when we were working with a deaf resident, we were able to arrange for her daughter to sign via video chat and translate what we were saying and the questions her mother had; it made such a huge difference.

    Wellbridge at Brighton
  • My dad was on the Honor Flight to DC today. An amazing trip for a veteran. I was able to meet him at the Korean War Memorial. He is a Korean War veteran. I was able to send pictures of the entire experience to my mom at home throughout the day. Mom was thrilled, and when my dad gets home he has all the pictures from his trip on his TV and can even play a slideshow. Amazing!!! Thank you!

    Kendal At Home
  • Video chat on the TV is great! I was using FaceTime on my iPad to see the grandkids and I thought that was the greatest thing, but seeing them all on the big TV is truly incredible, it’s like they are in the room with me. I love it!

    USA Properties
  • When Lillian broke her hip a week before her Grandson’s wedding, she and the family were broken hearted because they thought she would have to miss this very special day. Thankfully, she had chosen Wellbridge of Brighton for her short-term rehab. “I’m going to my Grandson’s wedding” she proudly told the staff as she received the video call through her TV and was instantly ‘seated’ in the front row for the ceremony!

    Wellbridge of Brighton
  • I travel a lot for work. I used to worry myself sick about not being able to be there if Mom needed me. She says the smartphone I got her is too small, too complicated, and hard to see, but she loves using Independa. Now she can see all her shows and we can video chat so I can make sure she’s taking her medicine. It’s such a relief to check in anytime and know she’s OK.

    Laura P.