Is It Time for Assisted Living?

Since this blog is dedicated to helping people age in place, i.e., to stay in their homes as they age, it might seem antithetical for me to be writing about assisted living. But sometimes, moving into senior or assisted living is a prudent choice. I’ve decided to write about this topic because one of my friends is going through conniptions as she and her parents grapple with the decision. Some representatives from The Greens at Cannondale in Wilton, CT, came and talked to a small group of us from Aging in Place in Darien a couple of months ago. They had a list of questions to help people with the decision. I can't remember all of the questions. So I made up my own list to send to my friend. I'm sharing it with all of you.

How do you know when it is time to move to assisted living?

This is a loaded question. How can a functioning, with-it adult decide that the time is right? How can a confused, forgetful adult make such a decision? How can adult children help their parents make the decision – and stick with it? All we can do is to start asking questions.

As you ask them, you could also consider – How easy would it be to hire the help you need so that you can stay in your home? What would it cost? Would renting an apartment or small home and bringing in help be a smart solution in this awful housing market?

Then, weigh the pros and cons – the costs and benefits of both scenarios.

Do you drive with no difficulty day and night?
If not, who does the driving?
Do you need help getting in and out of the vehicle?
Would it be easier if someone else took care of transportation?

Can you walk without assistance?
Do you fall often?
Do you need a walker or cane or wheelchair?
Would you like a little more help?
Could your home or apartment be made easier to navigate?
Or would it be better to be in an environment that was made to make it easy to get around and do things?

Social & Emotional:
Do you have friends?
Do you have social engagements?
How much do you get out?
Do you enjoy friends and going out?
Would it be easier to walk down the hall to play bridge, have a coffee, share a cup of tea, have a meal or join in other activities?
What if you could take a van with friends to a concert or play?

(This is for the adult kids to answer)
Is your parent alert and engaged intellectually?
Is he or she withdrawn?
Is he or she often confused or forgetful?
Are there signs of dementia?
Could an environment in which people who care about your parent, and are there to help, be really helpful?

Do you still want to shop for your food?
Can you prepare all your meals?
Are they good meals? Do you still enjoy cooking?
Would you prefer to dine with others and have some or all of your meals prepared for you?
Do you need help with eating?

How many medications do you take?
How do you keep track of what you take and when?
Could you use some help by having an aide give you your pills exactly when you need them?

Bathing and Grooming
Can you do all the facets of bathing, grooming, etc?
Do you need any help?
Would grab-bars in the bathroom be helpful?
Is someone around to help you if you get stuck?
Can you easily call for help if you fall?
Have you ever gotten stuck and felt frustrated?
Do you still shave, wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on make-up?
Do you have an problems with incontinence? Little accidents?

Your Senses
How well do you hear, see, taste and smell?
Do you wear glasses or a hearing aid?
Can you keep track of them?

How well can you maintain your home?
Do you still clean? (dust, floors, bathroom, kitchen)
Can you still change light bulbs, etc.?
Take care of outside maintenance (lawn, gutters, etc)?

Be thoughtful, serious and honest as you answer these questions. Be open. The answers may lead you to making a really smart decision.

Anyone else out there who has better or other questions, please make comments on this blog. Just click on “Comments”.

Writing a Business Plan for Aging in Place

I presented the first draft of the business plan for Aging in Place in Darien to the Strategic Planning Committee, and they loved it. Going through the planning process and then reading an actual draft of the resulting plan helped us all sort through our thoughts and goals, ask ourselves more questions, then really focus on how to make everything extremely clear for us and for a potential board of directors and funders.

I'm now editing.

The process of business planning has so much value. I wish more people understood this. One person on our committee is a member of SCORE (a volunteer group that helps entrepreneurs with their plans for free). Interestingly, he said, "I hope you charge a lot when you do plans for business owners. This has real value. It's an outstanding plan."  (I'm donating my time to Aging in Place as my own form of personal outreach to the community. I also sit on the Advisory Board.) But I was struck by the comment. I told him that many entrepreneurs think I charge too much for my service. He said they don't understand what I can do. But maybe nonprofits with grant money for business plans will.

Basically, I get people to think and to explain all facets of their their business. I take that and write it all down in a way that tells a clear story of the true value of the company. The resulting document becomes a road map for achieving goals and a marketing document to attract investors -- or in this case --  funders.

Home Instead - How it Started

When Paul Hogan saw how his mother's care for her mother (his grandmother) yielded better health and a better, longer life for his grandmother, it provided him with inspiration to start his own business providing such care for others. He formed Home Instead Senior Care. The story of how he did this and turned the company into an organization with franchises all over the world was in the New York Times on Sunday, February 14, 2010.

Here is a link. It is a story worth reading because it shows how personal experience of seeing a real need for real people can be translated into a solid business that fills that need. This is the essence of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Moreover, the story shows how much good better home care can do for a senior.

Getting Organized

Aging In Place and the Darien Community Association invite you to...
Getting Organized
A multigenerational approach to
getting your life in order
Free and open to all!
Dealing with All That Paper
Thursday, February 25th, 9:30 a.m.
Cecilia McCall of Home Management Solutions.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by paper? Does your mail pile up? In this workshop, we’ll propose an easy-to-maintain paper management system that will enable you and your family to find documents in seconds.
Organizing Your Critical Financial Documents
Thursday, March 4th, 9:30 a.m.
Richard Terhune of New York Life.
Organize your important financial and personal documents with "LifeFolio," a table of contents to your financial life. LifeFolio includes four brochures explaining what and how to organize, a sample letter to an executor/executrix, plus 24 file dividers to organize your important paperwork.
Getting a Handle on Your Medical Coverage
Thursday, March 11th, 9:30 a.m.
Maura Carley of Healthcare Navigation, LLC.
Gain a basic understanding of your coverage and its limitations, know what your options are, and plan ahead for a transition without a gap in coverage.
Making Smart Financial Decisions
Thursday, March 25th, 9:30 a.m.
Julie Jason, author of the AARP Retirement Survival Guide.
Learn about the "new rules of retirement" for retirees and pre-retirees who want to be both smart and skeptical about their financial futures. No matter who you are or what steps you have taken up to this point, there is always something you can do to improve your financial situation.
at the
Darien Community Association
274 Middlesex Road, Darien
Refreshments will be served
Reservations requested
Call 203-655-9050

Senior Crimebusters Presentation

Here's a worthwhile presentation to attend if you live anywhere near Amawalk, NY, which is in Westchester. More communities should have presentations like this.

Senior Crimebusters 

Featuring Gary Brown, NYS Consumer Protection Board With Westchester County Office of the District Attorney

 A presentation of how to protect yourselves from fraud, abuse, scams, home repair rip-offs, identity theft, and telecommunications fraud.

at The Amawalk Fire House
2513 Amawalk Road, Amawalk, NY 10501 February 24, 2010 – 12:30 PM

Co-sponsored by:

The Livable Community Connection at ALOFT A program of Active Living Over Fifty, Inc. Serving the northeast Westchester towns and communities of Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers

and The Town of Somers Parks and Recreation Department Somers Seniors Club

Writing a Business Plan for Aging in Place

I'm doing something I ordinarily would not do -- writing a business plan without being compensated for my time. I'm doing it for several reasons: a) It's for a start-up nonprofit I really believe in, b) I'm a founding member, and c) I'm on the advisory board. In case you're wondering, the nonprofit in question is Aging in Place in Darien ("AIP").

Because I've been involved with AIP since its inception, this experience is somewhat akin to writing my own plan for my own start-up. And it makes me realize from a new perspective how incredibly valuable the business planning process is. I've had clients tell me that the process was more useful to them than the actual final plan. Now I know why.

Sitting down with your management team and/or your board to hash out the questions of what your organization really hopes to accomplish and how you will accomplish it is actually quite challenging for people/entrepreneurs/business owners. You believe you have this great idea. But can you explain it succinctly? What words are you actually going to write down to get the ideas across? What is the heart of your business? Can the whole team come together and form a consensus about this?

Focusing on answering these and other key questions is amazing and empowering. And interestingly, the more you answer, the more new questions arise. What will it really take to get this nonprofit off the ground? Can you convince others to fund your start-up? What can you say that will compel angels to part with their money and support your mission? What makes your organization so unique that it truly deserves to exist so that it can serve the community? Does it add to the public good?

We're not done with the process yet. I'll keep you posted on our progress. All I can say is that if you have not gone through the process of developing a formal business plan for your for-profit or nonprofit enterprise, then you are missing a great opportunity to really think through your business and what you want to achieve with it.

Strength Training Strengthens Older Women's Brains

While regular exercise can keep you younger and healthier longer, not all exercise is equal when it comes to making your brain sharper. A medical study in Vancouver has shown that older women who did strength or resistance training twice a week improved their ability to think. Scientists call the type of thinking tested "executive function". They measured how well the women could pay attention and also figure out conflict resolution (using the Stoop test). It turned out that resistance training worked better than tone and balance exercise in making the women's brains function better.

You can read an abstract here in the Archives of Internal Medicine:

More Evidence that Exercise Keeps You Young

The New York Times Sunday Magazine ran a piece on January 31, 2010, on how exercise keeps you younger -- on the cellular and molecular levels. It seems that exercise helps keep your telomeres longer. Telomeres are on the ends of long strands of DNA. Every time your cells divide, the strands of DNA in the nucleus replicate and the ends shorten by getting broken off. It's the shortening that makes cells age and us age. Shortening telomeres = wearing out. (You can read more via the link below on the science and on the studies.)

But people who run a lot don't have their telomeres shorten as much or as fast. You can put ten years on your life with vigorous, regular exercise. That's pretty amazing. In fact, scientists who have been studying this say the findings are startling.

To learn more read the article: