Assisted Living: How to Make the Right Choice

 Assisted Living Communities provide a safe environment for aging.  Our Guest Blogger today explains how to choose the right assisted living community.

Top Concerns When Choosing An Assisted Living Residence

According to the Assisted living Federation of America, over one million Americans are currently living in assisted living communities. They offer comfort, privacy and a home inspired atmosphere with the latest amenities. Assisted living residences are great options that combine independence and personal assistance in a residential environment. However, choosing an assisted living residence can be difficult and many individuals have certain concerns that need to be addressed. It is essential to find a residence with the right fit that is tailored to your needs. Choosing an assisted living residence is a big decision. Fortunately, today there are many assisted living options available. You may also want to research the nursing homes available near your assisted living residence, as Medicare does pay for short stays in nursing homes after a hospital stay.

Concerns about if Assisted Living for Me

Trying to decide if assisted living is right for you, is a top concern for many individuals. Assisted living may be for you, according to, if you find yourself tired of maintaining a home, needing more assistance than your family can provide, if you worry about your safety, if transportation is an issue or if you feel isolated. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be a good time to consider if an assisted living residence may be right for you. The questions will also help to decide on the services you need and the facility of your choice should offer. You can get support you need on a daily basis, while remaining completely independent. Tour the facility and weigh their ability to meet your requirements as you consider your options available to you at this exciting time in your life. 

Concerns about Privacy

A major concern when choosing an assisted living residence is privacy. Assisted living will feel just like a private residence. There is total control over the environment in assisted living residences, because a resident can decorate their apartment or room, however they choose. Residents maintain a high level of privacy, as well as independence while still having the assistance of staff to help with any needs. Assisted living has a home like atmosphere along with social interaction. 

Concerns about Safety

Safety is a concern that all individuals looking for an assisted living residence should research carefully. Having a safe and secure environment is a concern that most individuals have when choosing an assisted living residence. A safe, secure and clean environment will guard against accidents and illnesses. To ease concerns always visit facilities to compare the levels of safety and comfort. Other safety concerns might include the experience and qualifications of the staff members. The most important factor when selecting an assisted living residence is that it feels safe, friendly and comfortable. The right residence for you will feel like home.

Concerns about the Costs

When choosing an assisted living residence cost most likely will be a concern. Many individuals shy away from assisted living, because their perception is that the cost is not within their means. Although it is a significant investment, it is possible to find a residence within your budget and not have to compromise on the level of care or services offered. Costs can vary greatly from facility to facility. Remember that the facility that you will be happiest at may not be the most expensive or fancy. Always evaluate the costs and do not assume that just because it is expensive, it is better. Focus on what the facility provides specifically for your needs and wants, and the quality of the staff.

Finding the Best Residence 

A big concern is finding the assisted living facility that is right for you. There are many choices to choose from for those trying to choose an assisted living residence. Therefore, it can be difficult to feel comfortable with your choice. Searching for the right fit is extremely important when choosing an assisted living residence. The goal should be to choose a facility that provides a residential environment that provides independence along with personalized support and offers what is important to you. Taking tours of residences that are under consideration is especially important. Take in the surroundings, the residents and the staff. After the tour if you can imagine being a member of the community and enjoying the services, amenities and socialization that is offered, then you will know it is a good fit and the place for you. 


Author Bio:


Author Bio:

Tom writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and and fantastic assisted living resources.



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Glen Campbell, Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Performs at Grammy Awards

Glen Campbell sang country music tunes back in the 60's and 70's and many will remember his hit song "Rhinestone Cowboy" which he also belted out last night during the Grammy Awards.  He has joined the millions of other seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is talking about his condition publicly.  He currently is finishing a final year of performing as he deals with what he refers to as his "forgetfulness".

As a veteran musician and performer, Campbell found himself suddenly forgetting lyrics in the middle of a song he had played a gazillion times.  He is surrounded by family members on stage now whow are able to notice when he may become confused and coach hiim forward.  He also keeps 3 teleprompters at his feet to refer to when he may forget a lyric. 

Music, it turns out, has been therapeutic for Campbell and his wife, Kim, says he is actually doing better than he was a year ago partly due to medications and partly because she believes he is performing and has the therapy of music by his side.  While Campbell is performing on his Farewell Tour, if he hits a moment where he forgets, his fans fill in the gap.  His music is allowing him to cope with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America provides music therapy education and suggests these techniques for connecting with those with Alzheimer's disease through music.

Music Therapy for Seniors with Memory Loss

Music Associations:  most of us associate music with important events in our lives and will have a wide range of emotions sparked by a song we remember from a certain event or time in our lives.  Hearing the tune evokes a memory and this is why some with memory loss may be able to suddenly step up and sing a song from their childhood or young adult years.  Caregivers can search their itunes for songs from the time period of when the senior was a teenager or sometimes church hymns also can be very memorable.

Top Ten Picks:  our young adult years are when most of us are the most engaged with music and finding the Top 10 hits from a seniors earlier days may stimulate memories.  As an individual progresses through late-stage dementia, lullabyes and music from their childhood will usually spark involvement by them and can be used to stimulate relaxation.

Music for Agitation Management:  non-verbal individuals in later stage dementia often become agitated because they cannot effectively process all of the environmental stimuli.  Engaging the senior in singing, tapping, dancing and physical exercise connected with music gives them a structured activity to process their emotions and redirect their attention.  Observe the individuals daily patterns to introduce music therapy at the time of day just prior to when they may become more disruptive and disoriented.

Emotional Closeness:  as dementia progresses, individuals typically lose the ability to share thoughts and gestures of affection with their loved ones.  They will, however, maintain an ability to move with the beat of a song until very late in the disease process.  Ambulatory individuals can be easily directed to couple dance, which may evoke hugs, kisses or caresses.  Those who are unable to walk can follow cues to swing with their arms and rock their body and usually enjoy being in the musical environment.  Singing is also associated with safety and security from early life and provides an opportunity to connect with caregivers through singing or humming a melody.

Seniors with memory loss may live for many years while needing caregiving services.  You may find the daily costs of nursing homes nationwide and read about President Ronald Reagan's daily activities with Alzheimer's disease.  Senior caregiving services can cost as much as $80,000 per year for full-time care and a senior may also plan ahead for nursing home care which Medicaid does pay for, if a senior should spend down their assets and qualify for this low-income health insurance instead of Medicare insurance.


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Certified Nursing Aide Jobs

Senior caregiving jobs continue to grow as America's seniors are living longer and preferring to "age-in-place" which means they want to continue to live in their homes or stay in the same town where they have raised families and worked.

Certified Nursing Aides or C.N.A.'s, assist seniors with their daily care needs.  Senior communities such as Assisted Living communities and nursing homes and hospitals must staff a certain number of C.N.A.'s based on the number of patients or residents they have who need assistance with their Activities of Daily Living.  Each state licenses these senior care facilities and requires the C.N.A. staffing ratio.

Long-term care insurance companies also often require the senior's caregiving services to be provided for by a Certified Nursing Aide in order for the insurance policy to pay.

Senior caregivers interested in becoming Certified Nursing Aides can learn about the admission requirements of C.N.A. schools and take a sample C.N.A. test or a real C.N.A. exam as a practice for the C.N.A. training course work.  This will allow you to understand the skills that you will be taught in a C.N.A. training program.  Once you complete the nursing aide courses, you will need to pass the state certification exam for nursing aides in your state.

Caregivers and C.N.A.'s may apply for a professional caregiving job in their area on Caregiverlist to be considered for part-time or full-time employment as senior care companies are constantly hiring.




National Alzheimer's Project Act Funding on the Horizon

National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) is the country’s first national Alzheimer’s plan.

The Obama administration is seeking to spend more than half a billion dollars on research funding next year, boosting current research spending by $50 million. Early Alzheimer’s detection and diagnosis and discovery of new therapies are two major areas of research.

In a press release, the White House announced that next week, President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $80 million in new money to spend for Alzheimer's research in 2013.

Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) are said to affect roughly 5.6 million people and nearly 40% of the U.S. population aged 85 and older. It is the 6th leading cause of death and approximately 13.2 million older Americans are projected to have ADRD by 2050.

The administration said it will propose spending $26 million for other goals of the still-to-be-finalized plan, including much-needed caregiver support.

Taxing and relentless is how Anne Hodges describes caregiving for her mother who suffers with ADRD. “The hardest part for me is difficulty in communicating with her. I used to be able to see glimmers of my mother once in a while and that's when we would talk. Those times are now fewer and farther between.” It is estimated that 15 million family members and friends are affected by the disease.

President Obama signed NAPA into law last January, the goal of which is to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's by 2025.”

The draft framework is structured around five ambitious goals:
  • Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer's Disease by 2025.
  • Optimize Care Quality and Efficiency.
  • Expand Patient and Family Support.
  • Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement.
  • Track Progress and Drive Improvement.

The current Draft Framework for the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease is available in full HTML Version  and full PDF Version  (12 PDF pages)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be collecting input for consideration in its final draft through February 8, 2012. Please send your comments to All comments will be shared with the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. The final draft of the plan’s framework is due on the desk of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius later this month.

The Alzheimer’s Association is also urging everyone to sign a petition calling on President Obama to issue a strong National Alzheimer’s Plan and support his proposed funding in his upcoming Budget Request to Congress.

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Illinois Caregiver Training

Senior caregiver training must include training for caring for seniors with both mental and physical challenges.  Quality senior caregivers understand how to interact with seniors who are experiencing memory loss and other age-related illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Senior caregivers in Illinois may now take a 10-hour online course which will meet the training requirements mandated by the state for professional senior caregivers.

Aging in place has become the preferred way for seniors to grow old in America.  As Medicare only pays for short stays in a nursing homes, seniors will go back to their home after a hospital stay and receive care by a professional senior caregiver.

Illinois caregivers must now have training that requires 8 hours of education on caregiving skills.  Caregiverlist's Certified Caregiver Training program involves 10-hours of online caregiver training to meet the Illinois caregiver training requirement.

Certified Caregiver Training includes:

Duties of a Caregiver

Learn the basic scope of a caregiver's job including how to preserve your clients' safety and integrity, help with mobility and independence, and how to work within the rules and regulations that govern your job.

Communicating with Others

This 2 credit hour course will help you understand how to communicate with impaired clients, individuals with Alzheimer's or memory loss, agitated people and others in your work.

Observation, Reporting and Recording

As a caregiver your skills of observation, reporting and recording are vital to helping the rest of the care team provide the best care possible to your clients. Sharpen those skills with this class.

Providing Personal Care

Learn to capably assist a client with personal care tasks like bathing, dressing and grooming, as well as oral care, foot care and even how to give a client a gentle massage.

Promoting and Maintaining Good Mobility

Helping clients with mobility includes learning skills to safely assist with transferring, walking, range of motion and more. The goal is to keep your clients moving, while keeping them - and you - safe. This course is worth 2 credit hours.

Elimination and Toileting

This course will help the caregiver understand the entire digestive process and know what to watch for in clients to ensure good bowel and bladder function, as well as good toileting and incontinence care.

Infection Control

Good infection control starts with proper hand washing, but continues through many steps the caregiver can take. Understanding this topic will help you keep your clients - and yourself and others - as healthy as possible.

Environmental Hazards and Safety

In this course you will learn how to help create a safe, comforting environment, and how to keep it free from hazards. Creating and maintaining a safe environment is important for both you and your clients.

Basic First Aid

In this course you will learn basic first aid including, burns and poisons, heat attack and shock, chocking and falls, stoke and wounds, and other sudden emergencies.

  • Burns and Poisons
  • Heart Attack and Shock
  • Choking and Falls
  • Stroke and Wounds
  • Other Sudden Emergencies

Understanding Elder Abuse

Abuse is more than just physical. It can also be emotional, financial and sexual. Learn how to recognize and report all types of abuse and neglect, as well as how to protect yourself so that you never abuse a client in your care. This is a 2 credit hour course

Illinois legislatures passed a law in September of 2008 requiring senior home care agencies to be licensed and to provide training.  This course meets orientation training requirements for many states - including the Illinois-8 hour home caregiver training mandate. (Title 77, Ch.I, (b) Section 245.71 (d))

You may purchase the 10-hour online caregiver training course to meet Ilinois caregiver training requirements and receive a lapel pin and t-shirt.

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