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Aging Wisely February 2012 - Aging Wisely

Florida Senior Services to Help Long-Distance Families


Florida seniorsThe sunshine state has long attracted seniors who move to Florida for the weather and lifestyle after retirement.

U.S. News and World Report listed Clearwater as second on its Top 10 Oldest Cities in America list.  The most rapidly expanding segment of this population is in the 85 and older age group, at which point many seniors have health concerns and may begin to need some assistance.  Since many seniors retired to Florida from elsewhere, there is a large population without local family members, especially adult children.  At Aging Wisely, we work with these clients every day.  We hear from their concerned families who live elsewhere and want to ensure Mom or Dad is safe and healthy.  We hear the anxiety they feel being at a distance and trying to assist from afar.

If you are one of those family caregivers, you should check out EasyLiving’s Checklist for Long-Distance Caregivers when you are planning a visit.  This tool will give you some steps to take to prepare for your visit and make the best use of your time, as well as how to start navigating eldercare services and locating Florida senior services.

Wondering what warning signs to watch for in aging loved ones?  What might indicate a need for senior services for your elderly parent?

Because of the large numbers of seniors in the state, Florida has a wide array of senior care services, including public/governmental programs, non-profit organizations and senior service companies of all types.  Some of the senior services that may be particularly useful for families at a distance and elders wishing to remain independent include:

Geriatric Care Managementfor a baseline assessment and recommendations, to serve as your eyes and ears and an emergency contact locally for your loved one, and for patient advocacy services such as attending medical appointments or intervening at a hospitalization.

Senior Home Companions-for helping around the house and running errands, assisting with transportation and ensuring healthy nutrition.

Meal Preparation or Delivery Services-this could be done via a private caregiver or a meal delivery service such as Meals on Wheels or a frozen-meal delivery company.  Having a Meals on Wheels representative checking in or a home caregiver visiting adds an extra connection of someone checking in on your loved one.

Personal Emergency Response Systems-provide a quick and easy way for your loved one to get help in an emergency.  More sophisticated monitoring systems and systems which help with medication management can really extend a senior’s ability to remain at home safely.

If you need personal help accessing Florida senior services or finding out what would be most helpful for your aging parent, contact us to schedule a geriatric care consultation!

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Making a Transition to Senior Housing


When is it time to consider senior housing or assisted care facilities?

How do you choose the best senior housing options or determine which Assisted Living will provide quality care?

How can you help an elderly loved one adjust to a new home in a retirement community?

Our Florida geriatric care managers work with many families on navigating these issues.  The right decisions and handling of a transition can make all the difference between a negative experience and a welcoming experience to a new home.

In Florida, these are the basic types of senior housing categories:

  1. Independent Living-this covers a wide range of senior housing, from subsidized senior apartment complexes and mobile home parks, to retirement communities and villas (sometimes within a larger complex of other levels of care).
  2. Assisted Living-communities designed to provide seniors assistance with activities of daily living.  These communities are typically apartment-style with communal dining and activities and offer services such as medication management, transportation and physical help.
  3. Nusing Facility-skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes provide a higher level of care in a more medically-oriented setting.  Nurses oversee care and facilities may offer various levels of skilled care and more intensive ADL assistance (i.e. for bed-bound residents, total assistance with all needs).
  4. CCRC (Continuing Care Community)-communities with various levels of care (generally covering the 3 listed above), these communities may be “buy in”/investment style or may be on a monthly-rental basis.

These are just the basic categories of senior housing, but there is a great deal of variation even within the state of Florida in terms of what is provided, costs and quality.  You may also wish to read our article “Is the Time Right?  Assisted Living Options” which gives more information about deciding when to consider senior housing and links to information about regulations and ratings of Florida senior housing and assisted living.  

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Navigating Elder Care Services


When a family is in need of eldercare services, one of the first places they may go is to the internet to begin a search for options.  There is a lot more information about eldercare on the web than there was just a few short years ago and it can be an especially good place to read about issues, diagnoses, and even hear about others’ experiences.  Social media and blogs are providing additional opportunities for individuals to join communities of other caregivers and share helpful information (or just support/concerns).

Aging Wisely was recently nominated as a Best Senior Living Blog-check out our nomination and the other great web resources who are nominated!

Whether searching on the internet or other methods, navigating through the elder care services and resources can be a challenge.  Families who call us frequently express this frustration, which has led them to the realization that they need to talk with an expert about the specific situation.  Why do families find eldercare consultations and assessments particularly useful? 

  • Time savings: the ability to describe their specific situation and get answers that apply to it (versus wading through inappropriate resources, calling numbers or looking at websites that won’t help them).
  • Cost savings: having someone who can directly answer what care options will cost and what financial assistance the elder might be eligible for or what his or her insurance will cover
  • Answers and recommendations: a care manager will give opinions and share experiences and insider tips (for example, families needing a skilled nursing facility or home health company after a hospital stay are usually given a list of options and they appreciate that a care manager will give them a specific recommendation/opinions on the choices)

When you are facing eldercare concerns or looking for Florida elder care services, consider whether it is time for an eldercare consultation or geriatric care assessment. 

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Aging Wisely Nominated for “Best of Web” Award


Eldercare Services on the Web

Aging Wisely’s blog has been nominated for’s Best of the Web 2012 awards. Aging Wisely was a finalist in the 2011 awards as well, for our blog and Caregiver Newsletter.

“We are proud to be nominated for this award and recognized in our industry for our efforts at education through the internet,” says Linda Chamberlain, President of Aging Wisely, “I started my career in eldercare to help seniors and their families access better information and therefore the services they need. Through the web, we have been able to reach more caregivers and look forward to continuing to provide high quality information.”

Check out our Best of the Web nomination for “Best Senior Living Blogs by Organizations”and vote for us if you like what we have to offer!

If you have feedback about our blog posts, we encourage you to post comments or contact us with your comments, questions or feedback about how we can best serve you.

Our sister company, EasyLiving Home Care, has also been nominated in two categories for “Best of the Web”-click here to learn more about EasyLiving’s nominations.

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Help for Caregivers: Dementia & Alzheimer’s


There are nearly 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers providing 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202 billion in the U.S.  


More than 60 percent of family caregivers report high levels of stress because of the prolonged duration of caregiving and 33 percent report symptoms of depression

Even though Alzheimer’s caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining, there are resources to help.  However, as a caregiver it can be overwhelming to find those resources and navigate through them. 

Respite care is one option to give caregivers a break, whether during the day to get errands done, at night to get some sleep or for an extended period such as a vacation.  Many caregivers tell us that the stress of preparing and worries about how the situation will unfold keeps them from seeking respite care.  If you feel this way, you may benefit from reading EasyLiving’s Vacations for Caregivers: Are they Possible?, which provides tips for locating and preparing for respite care to go smoothly.

Since dementia is a progressive disease, a person’s caregiving needs will change over time.  This makes preparation vital.  Here are a few Alzheimer’s care preparation tips:

  • Read up on the disease process.  The 36-hour Day is a seminal work on Alzheimer’s Disease care.  Our dementia overview is a quick way to get familiar with the terminology, and we also offer articles on issues like Sundowner’s Syndrome and Paying for Long-Term Care.
  • Ensure your loved one has completed essential legal documents.  These must be completed while the person has legal capacity.  In early stages of the disease, the person typically has this capability but often will not as things progress.  Plan an appointment with a local elder law attorney.
  • Make contact with your local Alzheimer’s Association and Area Agency on Aging to find out about services available in your area.  Consider joining a support group.
  • Schedule a care management consultation to identify solutions for current concerns, priorities and resources to help in the near future.
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Sundowners Syndrome: Help for Alzheimer’s Caregivers


Do you care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has trouble sleeping?  Have you worked with dementia patients who get agitated in the evenings, feel restless and complain of “wanting to go home”?  The increase in confusion (and resulting behavioral challenges) for people with dementia in late day is typically referred to as “sundowning” behavior or sundowners syndrome.

This can be especially challenging for working caregivers, who may find that it is difficult to get rest in the evenings or may even end up woken up many times at night.  There are safety issues involved if the person with Alzheimer’s has a tendency to try to wander from home or to physically lash out.  caregiver lack of sleep

The Alzheimer’s Association article on sleeplessness and sundowning reminds us that sleeplessness in the person with dementia and resulting caregiver exhaustion are two common reasons for nursing home placement. 

Sundowners syndrome constitutes an array of late afternoon/evening/nighttime symptoms such as sleeplessness, restlessness and agitation.Our article on the causes of Sundowner’s Syndrome and sundowning behavior in dementia offers some tips to help caregivers manage these symptoms and behaviors. 

Many families tell us they are not clear on all of the terminology related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and sundowning.  You may be wondering if an elder’s memory loss is normal aging or something else. 

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Payment Concerns
Not sure how you are going to pay for elder care?

Is the Time Right?
Find out if its time to seek help for your loved one.

Aging in Place
How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.