Seniors Choosing Isolation?

Seniors Choosing Isolation?

Seniors in IsolationWhat a sad circumstance for seniors to be alone during the holidays. Is the isolation voluntary or involuntary? My poor mom has ecoli and was put into isolation at her skilled nursing community. Everyone has to wear a gown, gloves and a mask to enter her room. She will NOT get to dine with her fellow residents for four more days. Fortunately, she is more than halfway through her antibiotic and feels good now. She was in great spirits today and even invited me to stay for lunch!

Some seniors become isolated as they age in their home like my in-laws. They refuse to move to a retirement community. Both have dementia and neither of them drives. They are 100 percent dependent on one local son to bring them groceries, take them to the doctor and socialize with them. Is this enough human interaction? I don’t think so.

Other seniors determined to stay at home, use home care and become dependent on a single caregiver. Is this a healthy life? The rest of us interact with 10 or 20 people a day. What happens when someone only interacts with one person, day after day, month after month? Many years ago, my mom was in this situation and it was when the memory issues began.

Every senior faces a choice to plan ahead by moving to a senior living community or wait until a health care crisis and live with the consequences. I hope and pray that more seniors chose multiple human interactions by moving to a senior living community. My mom started to thrive again after she moved to assisted living. My in-laws could thrive again too, but they refuse.

My mom is in a good place and will see quite a few different staff during her isolation. My in-laws are 1000 miles away and will be in a lonely house for the holidays. The house can’t talk to them, smile at them or buy them groceries.

Diane Masson’s new guide book for seniors, “Your Senior Housing Options,” will be will be coming soon to Amazon.com. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter on the right side of this blog, you will be notified when my new book becomes available. Check out my new website: Tips2Seniors.com or please follow me on Facebook.

“Your Senior Housing Options,” is dedicated to my mother, whose stories are peppered throughout. Being her advocate for over ten years has taught me to be a better person. My mom has dementia, but I am truly blessed that she still calls me by name. Her smile and joy inspires me to see the positive side of life. It makes me want to reach out and help seniors and their families make better choices today so they can have more secure long-term care plans tomorrow.

10 Dementia Gift Ideas

10 Dementia Gift Ideas

My Mom's Christmas Throw Blanket

My Mom’s Christmas Throw Blanket

When I brought my mom a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law, she had no recognition on her face as she read the tag. My mom’s vascular dementia is stopping her from connecting her son’s written name with his face. That part of her brain is gone. So what do you do?

Does your mom or dad have dementia? Are they still at home or residing in an assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing community? My mom has had dementia for 12 years and has lived in skilled nursing care for 19 months. She cannot remember anything and only speaks clearly about 30 to 50 percent of the time.

My recommendation is to give a photo of yourself with your gift. Attach your photo directly to the gift. Your parent has a better chance of recognizing you in the photo than knowing who you are by reading a gift tag.

Here are 10 dementia gift ideas:

  1. A soft lap blanket – I gave my mom a small Christmas blanket and it was a homerun. Every time she sees it, she touches it and comments on the softness. My intention was giving a functional gift (keeping her warm) and an easy way for her to recognize the holiday season. It has really worked, because last night she talked about Christmas on her own.
  2. A manicure or hand massage – Hopefully this can be performed by you? It is a way to connect physically, so they can feel your presence and love. My mom loves having her nails done.
  3. A sweater – A nice red sweater or sweatshirt is always a hit. They like to feel the texture of different clothes. It keeps them warm. Their caregiver will dress them in the sweater and then keep reminding them that it is Christmas time. The red color seems to help the mood of the caregiver, which is always a bonus.
  4. Soft socks – If your mom or dad has swollen ankles, normal socks can feel binding. I get those soft stretchy socks you find in airports. They used to be easy for her to put on herself. Now she needs a caregiver to dress her.
  5. A holiday balloon – My mom used to read the paper daily to know the day and the year. Now, I put up seasonal balloons in her room, so she can know it is her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
  6. A small fake tree with ornaments – If your parent still lives at home, maybe you can decorate for them? If they live in assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing care a tree always feels like home. Many communities cannot legally allow a real tree because of licensing, so be sure to ask.
  7. A ham – If your parent still lives at home, this is an awesome gift. They can heat the ham or eat it cold. They can make numerous meals out of it including sandwiches or with scrambled eggs. Yum!
  8. Bring lunch to them or go out to eat – Everyone gets sick of their own cooking or the community’s cooking. Something different and special is always a hit. The best part is spending time dining with you.
  9. An animated animal – If your parent still lives at home with a pet, then bring a gift for Fido or Fluffy. But if your parent lives in an assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care community a fake moving pet is outstanding. My mom has several fake cats and they completely enamor her, make her smile and laugh out loud. Pets are wonderful.
  10. The very best gift you can give is an hour of your time. Nothing is more important than spending a little quality time together.

Gift giving needs to be adjusted to the level of care and to the severity of your parent’s dementia. Good luck and share your other gift tips in the comment section.

Diane Masson’s new guide book for seniors, “Your Senior Housing Options,” will be will be coming soon to Amazon.com. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter on the right side of this blog, you will be notified when my new book becomes available. Check out my new website: Tips2Seniors.com or please follow me on Facebook.

“Your Senior Housing Options,” is dedicated to my mother, whose stories are peppered throughout. Being her advocate for over ten years has taught me to be a better person. My mom has dementia, but I am truly blessed that she still calls me by name. Her smile and joy inspires me to see the positive side of life. It makes me want to reach out and help seniors and their families make better choices today so they can have more secure long-term care plans tomorrow.

Scrooge or Sales with Holiday Calls??!!??

Scrooge or Sales with Holiday Calls??!!??

Don't Be a Scrooge in Senior Living Sales

Don’t Be a Scrooge in Senior Living Sales

All you have is the present to increase your occupancy.  Resident holiday parties, festivities, live entertainment and decorating the retirement community can distract senior living sales from the purpose of filling the building.  It’s easy to get stinking thinking and decide that no one wants to move right now and every senior is busy preparing for Christmas.  Wrong!!!

If you are reading this blog today, it is not too late to get humming again.  Let me give you some current examples from two successful Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) in Southern California:

  • 11 CCRC move-ins scheduled during December at one CCRC and another has six move-ins set.
  • A $5000 deposit was collected yesterday for a December CCRC move-in.
  • One senior living sales person, who had 139 calls for the week said, “This is the best time of year to make calls and learn vital information about prospective seniors families.”
  • When a senior came in for a holiday event, they shared that it was their holiday meal, because they had sat at home eating a “Lean Cuisine” on Thanksgiving.
  • Another senior shared that this was her last year to host Christmas for the entire family.  She was exhausted and said she was ready to sell her home and move in early 2014.
  • Many calls said, “I am not ready, let me get through the holidays and let’s talk the first week in January.”  (Whom will this senior be talking about with his or her adult children over the holidays?  The family will most likely come in to tour around Christmas.)

You can learn so much if you make calls this time of year.  Don’t be a scrooge and not believe.  Be Tiny Tim and make a lonely seniors day by reaching out with a holiday phone call.  Create an emotional connection with a senior now and watch how quickly they move into your senior living community in 2014.

Please share your successes, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Most recently Masson was recruited to consult for two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

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