Daystar Senior Living Blog

Steps to Take to Get Your Home Ready When Moving to an Assisted Living Facility

Posted by Jim Fuller on Sep 21, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Steps-to-Take-to-Get-Your-Home-Ready-When-Moving-to-an-Assisted-Living-Facility.pngYou did it: you’ve taken the giant step, and you’re going to move to an assisted living campus.

What now?

If you’re like most of us, you’ve accumulated stuff throughout the years. If you’re downsizing from a house to an assisted living apartment the task may seem gargantuan, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed without a battle plan. The solution? Make a plan, of course!

First of all, decide what you want to take when you move. Check out the actual measurements of your new apartment so you know what furniture will fit, and you’ll have a better idea of what you need to dispose of. If you have antiques or family heirlooms to plan to hand down to your children, why wait? Bestow them now, and you can still enjoy the objects when you visit your kids in their homes.

Set up a staging area in your garage or spare room, and start boxing up things you won’t be taking. Start selling or donating things, and if you have a hard time parting with stuff consider putting things in a storage unit while you decide. This will allow you to declutter your home and give you a clear perspective on what you want to keep; you can always keep the storage unit after you move to your assisted living campus. Hold a yard sale, or have an estate sale company do an appraisal of your belongings so you know the best way to dispose of them.

This is the perfect time to revamp your wardrobe, so spend some extra time as you clean out your closet. Try on those clothes you’ve been hanging on to, and if it doesn’t fit or you haven’t worn it in years, donate the item. The same goes in the kitchen: if you’re not going to use ten cookie sheets, don’t pack them! Remember, you’re going to have your meals provided in your new apartment, so cooking gadgets, pots, pans, and utensils can be pared to a minimum. No more slaving over a hot stove for hours at Thanksgiving!

Do a walk-through of your home and decide what needs to be done before you put it on the market. As you empty each room arrange to have it painted and any necessary repairs done. If your home needs exterior maintenance, contract to have it done so you have the best curb appeal possible when you’re ready to sell. Likewise for landscaping; make sure the simple things are done so your home looks well-kept and well loved.

Last of all, contact a Realtor and have them appraise your home. Ask them for tips on making a fast but fair sale, and follow their advice. They are the expert, and can tell you whether you will get a return on investment by installing new carpet and gutters or if you should just sell as-is.

Remember, it took decades to accumulate what you own, and it’s no simple chore to downsize. Take breaks, have fun, and don’t stress out over the job of moving. Ask for advice if you need it, and hire help if you get overwhelmed. Before you know it you’ll be in your new home, and it’ll all be worthwhile!

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What are the Rules for Visiting my Parent at Your Assisted Living Facility?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Sep 15, 2016 6:00:00 AM

rules-for-visiting-in-assisted-living.jpgMaking the decision to move a senior family member to an assisted living facility isn’t easy. Even after you have done the research and found a center you approve of, you’ll want to visit to ensure your loved one’s safety and happiness. It’s important to understand how visitation works and what you can expect.

Signing In

One of the main rules for visiting family at an assisted living facility is that all guests must sign in. This requirement ensures all people are accounted for in an emergency, and it enables the staff to see which resident had visitors if they are unable to remember on their own.

Many facilities require you to sign in and out, and you often must indicate who you are visiting. This is for the safety of the guests and the residents as well as to protect the center.

Visiting Hours

Some assisted living centers have posted visiting hours. While this may or may not be enforced, it may not include family members. It’s important to ask for details about visiting hours, and find out if you can stop in outside of those hours.

These centers often lock their doors at night, which would limit any outside visitors. However, family members may be allowed to stop by as long as they can be let in by a staff member.

You’ll want to find out if you can spend the night with your loved one at the facility. Some centers have strict rules against overnight guests while others allow family to stay. You may need to receive authorization ahead of time, especially if you would require any special assistance from the staff.

Checking In

If your loved one isn’t feeling well, you may want to stop in at random times to check on their health. Find out how easy it is to visit during all three shifts, and if you need to let anyone know you have arrived.

It’s also a good idea to visit unannounced. This surprise visit lets you see how things are going with your family member when you aren’t around. Any facility that doesn’t allow random visits or overnight guests may not be the facility for you if you want to be more hands-on for your loved one.

The time to ask about visiting rules is before you commit to a facility. While most centers are accepting and even encourage visits from family, they may have rules in place for the good of the residents and to assist the staff.

The regulations may be different, depending on which area your loved one lives in. For instance, assisted living facilities for Alzheimer’s patients are often more restrictive to prevent residents from leaving the center unattended.

If you are interested in finding an assisted living center with a positive, encouraging staff who will work hard to help you maintain your relationship with your senior family member, check out Daystar. We want you to feel good about where your loved one lives and the level of care they are receiving.

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8 Questions to Ask About Cost at an Assisted Living Facility

Posted by Jim Fuller on Sep 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM

8-questions-to-ask-about-cost-for-assisted-living.jpgWhen you’re choosing an assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one, one of the primary considerations is the cost. This is not as simple of a factor as you might expect, and you should delve into the details with specific questions before you commit to a particular place. Here are eight questions to ask.

  1. How is the Base Rate Set?

The base rate is the amount you would pay without any additional services. The two options are a flat rate structure and a variable base rate. With a flat base rate, you are charged a specific amount based on whether you choose a single or double room. If the facility offers a variable rate, the amount you pay is based either on the services offered or the level of disability.

  1. What is Included in the Base Rate?

Once you know the base rate, you want to find out what types of services are included. Don’t assume all services are included. Some services may incur an extra charge. Common services which may or may not be part of the base rate include the following:

  • Skilled nursing
  • Transportation
  • Incontinence care
  • Occupational therapy
  • Meals

You should find out the cost for any services which are not part of the base rate when comparing one facility to another.

  1. Can I Pay for Additional Services?

You want to find out if you are allowed to pay extra for those services which are not included in the base rate. Most facilities provide this option with a fee-for-service type of arrangement. Others may use additional rate structures to include specific services rather than charging only for use.

  1. Is There a Security Deposit or Entrance Fee?

Not all facilities charge an entrance fee or security deposit, but you want to ask beforehand. If there is a waiting list for a unit, you may be asked to pay a deposit once a unit becomes available to hold it until you or your loved one moves in. If one is required, find out how much and if it’s applied to the first month’s payment or if there are other arrangements.

  1. What Financial Assistance Do You Take?

Several financial assistance resources are available to help pay for assisted living. You should find out what kind of subsidy or payment each facility accepts to ensure you can afford to pay for the room. Common payment options include:

  • Housing subsidies from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Veterans Subsidies
  • Long-term care insurance
  1. What Other Levels of Care are Offered and How Much Do They Cost?

As your loved one moves into assisted living, you must also think about future needs. Facilities that offer multiple levels of care allow your family member to stay within the same organization rather than searching for a new facility. You’ll want to find out how much other levels of care cost to ensure you can afford the center for the long term.

  1. What is My Budget for Care?

Before deciding on a facility, you must consider how much you can afford. With life expectancies increasing, retirees are living longer, which means you must have more retirement income reserved for care. Look at the cost of each facility and decide how long your senior could afford to live there. You want to ensure your loved one has enough money to live comfortably.

  1. What is the Total Cost of Care?

After you figure the base cost and any additional services and expenses you will have to pay for, you can calculate the total cost of care in each assisted living center. This figure will allow you to determine if you can afford the facility. Once you have these eight questions answered, you can begin to narrow down your options.

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4 Questions to Ask When Assessing Levels of Care for an Aging Parent

Posted by Jim Fuller on Aug 25, 2016 6:00:00 AM

4-Questions-to-Ask-When-Assessing-Levels-of-Care-for-an-Aging-Parent.jpgAs you work to find an appropriate facility for your aging parent, you must consider the level of care they need. This is often a difficult situation to handle, but it can be simplified by asking four specific questions.

1. What does your parent need help with?

Be honest with yourself about what your parent can do independently and what he or she will require assistance. Perhaps your parent only needs help with fixing meals and cleaning the house or doing laundry. If still relatively independent, he or she won’t require the same level of care as someone who can no longer bathe or dress without help. This includes mental alertness as well as physical abilities.

2. What services does each facility offer?

Compare the aging care facilities in your area and the services they provide. Some retirement communities are ideal for those who can live independently, while assisted living facilities benefit seniors who may need help with meals and other tasks. Anyone who requires assistance with basic routines may be best suited for a 24-hour care center. The ideal place will provide multiple options to transition your loved one as the need for care increases. A facility that offers varying degrees of care will minimize the expense and complication of moving your parent from one location to another.

3. What about the cost?

The money your parents saved for retirement must be spent wisely, so you will have to compare the costs of the different levels of care at each facility. You not only want to think about which option is less expensive now, but also about how the other levels of care compare for future needs. You should ask about prices for more advanced care to help make your decision and compare the amenities provided to the pricing. If your parent has long-term care insurance or Medicare, you’ll want to ensure it is accepted at the facility you choose.

4. How easy is it to transition from one level of care to another?

Even if your parent is moving into an independent living retirement community now, you should find out how easy it is to move to the next level of care when the time comes. For many facilities, preference is given to current residents who need more assistance. This reduces the time spent on a waiting list for your elderly parent; he or she can get the help needed at the appropriate time.

It can be a challenging task to choose a facility for your parent when living at home is no longer an option. You want to ensure your parent has access to the level of the care necessary, but also provide as much independence as possible. Take the time to answer these questions to help you and your loved ones make the right decision.

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Topics: senior living in Federal Way, finding a retirement community, assisted living for seniors

Will my Parent Be Alone in Assisted Living?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Aug 18, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Will-My-Parent-Be-Alone-in-Assisted-Living.jpgOne of the main concerns adult children have when a parent moves to assisted living is whether he or she will be alone. The answer is simple: yes, and no!

Assisted living is designed with seniors in mind, so there are many social activities for your parent to participate in. Crafts, exercise programs and entertainment come in a wide variety of choices where socializing is encouraged.

Meals are offered in a dining room, so your parent can share meals with other residents or visiting friends and family; there are also outdoor activities, day trips and transportation to nearby locations, such as restaurants and stores.

The staff is always on hand and will make sure your parents are safe and sound. However, assisted living is not like a nursing home where patients are required to follow a strict routine. Your parents will live in an apartment, not a room, so they won’t be forced to join in with group activities if they don’t want to.

So where does the “no” part come in?

One of the biggest advantages of living in an assisted living campus is privacy! Your parent can cook and eat meals in the private apartment if he or she so chooses, and the same goes for joining in on other activities: it’s an option, not a requirement. The staff will encourage socialization, but it will be up to your parent to decide whether to join in. If your parent treasures time alone, he or she is free to go for walks, stay in and watch television or get out and about alone.

The key takeaway is to remember that assisted living is just that: it allows your parent to maintain some independence while providing the assistance necessary in day-to-day life. Too much loneliness can cause depression, and the staff will keep an eye out for that and address it if they feel it’s becoming a problem.

The nurses and other staff members are specifically trained to work with elderly residents and will monitor your parent’s health and wellbeing without being intrusive. Once they gain your trust, you’ll feel much better about your parent’s new home. You won’t have to worry about whether mom remembered to take medication as prescribed or whether dad is eating healthy meals, and you won’t be anxious about his or her safety.

As long as you call and visit on a regular basis, your parents will most likely thrive in assisted living. Listen carefully to any complaints your parent may voice, and address the issues with management. If you feel your loved one isn’t socializing enough, consider joining him or her for a few hours of craft time or for a meal each week. Help them get comfortable in the new environment, and once your parent makes some new friends and finds new interests, his or her full social calendar may surprise you!

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Topics: finding a retirement community, assisted living for seniors

How Can I Check on My Loved One?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Aug 11, 2016 6:00:00 AM

How-Can-I-Check-on-My-Loved-One.jpgIt’s ironic how life turns things around as people age. Where once parents worried about their kids, who they were with and what they were doing, now the adult children face concern about their aging family members. Are they taking their medication as prescribed? Are they careful when they go shopping? Did they make it to the doctor appointment?

For those adult kids who live out of town or even in another state, the fears continue to grow. They can’t just “pop in” and check up on parents. They worry they won’t be able to tell when something is wrong with just a phone call. Here are some tips to help you check on your senior parent or family member no matter the distance.

Teach them social media

Seniors have become quite tech savvy today. They know their way around Facebook and can easily start a chat on Skype or a messenger service. Take advantage of that fact and connect with your senior loved one online. This is a great way to make sure they are interacting with friends and family. You’ll notice if something seems amiss when they go for a few days without checking in. It’s also easy to send a quick message or show your parents a photo of the grandkids to get them to respond.

Call them at set and random times

Some adult children have a set time to call their parents each week or even every day. If the person doesn’t answer, they immediately contact a neighbor or other friend to check on them. This ensures someone isn’t hurt or missing for several days with no way to get help. It’s also good to call randomly to check in and see what they’re doing at different times of the day.

Enlist neighbors and friends as “spies”

This isn’t as mysterious as it sounds, but it can be helpful to have people who are close by to keep in touch with your aging parent. They can monitor when the person goes out and when they return. They’ll also be the first to notice a difference in routines, such as if the blinds aren’t opened by 9 a.m. If they become concerned, the friend can contact you for a follow-up.

Ask your parent how they are doing

Be honest about your concerns, and ask your parent how they feel or if they have any issues they want to tell you about. While parents naturally don’t want to worry their kids even when they’re adults, they will be more likely to open up if they know you’re already concerned.

Many times, just talking to your parent will give you reassurance that they are okay. If they don’t sound the same as usual, you’ll be able to tell. You can recognize if your parent sounds more confused than usual or doesn’t have the answers to your questions.

When the time comes for your loved one to move to a facility where they can be monitored and cared for, consider Daystar. We’ll provide the care your loved one needs so you can enjoy greater peace of mind about your parent’s safety and health.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, senior housing/homes

Should On-Site Physical Therapy Make a Difference?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Aug 4, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Should-On-Site-Physical-Therapy-Make-a-Difference.jpgChoosing an assisted living facility can be a daunting task, and checking out the staff at each resident is a vital step in the decision-making process. While you’re investigating the people who will be caring for your parents, make sure the facility has a physical therapist on-site!

Why does it matter? Can’t your parent just go to a doctor’s office for any rehabilitation needs?

Of course, but having therapy on-site may make a big difference in your parent’s long-term health. We usually think of physical therapy (PT) as a step in healing from a major injury, such as a broken hip, or a surgery, such as a knee replacement. In fact, according to Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc., 81 percent of assisted living residents require therapy for at least one everyday task. Having an on-site therapist means every resident will be screened regularly, so if there is a change in condition, it will be found and attended to promptly.

Changes in elderly patients’ health can be subtle; take for instance loss of balance or cognition. Catching changes as they happen will allow the therapist and other staff members to implement a treatment plan immediately and ensure that all staff members are working together to resolve the issue. An on-site therapist can track progress and refine treatment immediately because the entire staff is part of the plan.

Having a physical therapist in house saves time and money, too. If you’ve been the primary caregiver of your parent, you know how time-consuming a trip to the doctor is and how exhausting an outing can be for the elderly or infirm. It’s much simpler for your loved one to visit a therapist who’s already on campus. And because the therapist is a staff member, your parent will already be familiar with him.

Since PT is taken care of under the same roof, you’ll probably find it more effective, too. Because all staff members are in on the plan, your parent will most likely be more enthusiastic when it comes to implementing the exercises or lifestyle changes the therapist recommends, and progress will be monitored daily instead of once or twice a week. Your parent will also be encouraged by friends and neighbors, because there won’t be any stigma associated with needing help for minor tasks that used to be taken for granted. Perhaps mom or dad will even get a bit competitive at the dinner table, vying to be the one that makes the most progress the fastest!

All in all, the benefits your parent will reap by having an on-site physical therapist at the assisted living facility should make in-house PT one of the top requirements when you’re looking for your parent’s future home. Highlight this question on your checklist as you visit assisted living facilities, and make sure the campus you choose has a physical therapist on its permanent staff.

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Topics: finding a retirement community, caregiver stress, assisted living for seniors

5 Questions to Ask About Staff at an Assisted Living Home

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jul 26, 2016 6:00:00 AM

5-Questions-to-Ask-About-Staff-at-an-Assisted-Living-Home.jpgIf your parent is ready to move into an assisted living facility, you may already be looking at possible locations that are close to home. While being near at hand is a convenient choice for visiting and socializing, make sure you investigate each facility thoroughly before making your choice. While a lovely apartment, tons of activities and beautiful grounds certainly can sway your opinion between one assisted living community and another, make sure you also check out all aspects of a potential home. One of the most important parts of the due diligence you’ll do is on the staff who will take care of your parent, yet this is often overlooked. Here are five things to check about staff at an assisted living facility.

  1. What’s the patient/staff ratio, and how is it distributed?
    While there’s no national standard for staff-to-patient ratio, you don’t want your parent to go without help because of a shortage of staff. There may be many employees, but perhaps the majority of them focus on high-maintenance residents, so your best bet it to talk to some folks who already live there to determine whether their needs are being met in a timely manner.
  2. Do you do background checks on employees?
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many assisted living facilities neglect to do background checks on their employees. This should be a deal-breaker, because you don’t want your parent to fall prey to fraud, theft or abuse. If an assisted living facility doesn’t do background checks, cross it off your list of possible choices.
  3. What level of education is required of staff?
    While there are plenty of staff positions – such as housekeeping, food prep and maintenance – that don’t require more than a high school diploma, those staff members directly involved with resident care should have some medical training. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) should make up the majority of staff caring for residents.
  4. What training is required?
    Besides medical training, a quality facility will require their staff to take classes on other aspects of senior safety. Signs of elder abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, theft and financial fraud are all vulnerable topics for seniors, and staff should be trained to spot and report suspected crimes.
  5. Are there specialists on site?
    The older a person gets, the more health problems arise, so check and see if the facility has an RN or doctor on staff who is readily available to consult with residents on minor health issues. Make sure there’s always an RN on site to respond to emergencies, and see if the facility has a specialist who tracks doctor appointments, medications and other details that are vital to your parent’s peace of mind. Some facilities also employ a physical therapist so residents don’t have to make an outside trip when undergoing rehab for an injury.

Remember, the assisted living facility is taking charge of your parent’s overall safety and health, so don’t be bashful when inquiring about the people who work there. Ask to see licenses, training certificates and other proof instead of taking the word of the person giving the answers. By doing diligent research before choosing an assisted living home for your parent, you can make a huge impact on their future health, happiness and security.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, senior housing/homes

How to Identify and Reduce Caregiver Stress: FAQ Explored

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jul 19, 2016 6:00:00 AM

How-to-Identify-and-Reduce-Caregiver-Stress_-FAQ-Explored.jpgCaring for a family member is a wonderful act of love, but it can also take a toll on your own mental and physical health. Caregiver stress is a real problem for many, but it can be difficult to recognize and treat. Here are some commonly asked questions about caregiving stress.

What are the signs of stress in caregivers?

While signs can vary in each person, many times stress is identified by certain characteristics. It often begins with feeling physical, mental or even emotional exhaustion. A caregiver feels lonely and isolated either because they can’t get out and have contact with friends or because they choose not to. In time, stress can lead to frustration and even anger at themselves, their loved one or other family and friends.

What causes caregiving stress?

You may think stress only happens with those who have a major responsibility for their loved one, such as feeding, bathing or grooming. You may also assume it happens when the elderly person is cranky and hard to deal with or has a severe condition, like Alzheimer’s. The truth is, caregiving stress can occur even when you enjoy caring for your loved one and they are easygoing and pleasant to be with. Just having another person around and someone you must provide for and monitor can overload your schedule and mind enough to cause added stress.

What can you do to reduce caregiver stress?

The first step is to identify it and determine what long-term changes need to be made. You may want to ask for help on a regular basis from other family members or even hire outside help. For some, it may be time to consider a different living situation in a facility like Daystar that will allow you to be part of your loved one’s life without managing the day-to-day responsibilities associated with their care.

It’s also important to talk to others about your feelings. You may even need to go to a professional counselor to help you manage your stress levels. Make time for yourself to allow you to recharge for your caregiving duties. If finances are the cause of your stress, you should reach out to local agencies and find out how they can help you. City and state resources can assist you in dealing with the challenges that cause stress.

What resources are available to help reduce stress?

If you plan to continue in your role as caregiver for your elderly loved one, you need to find resources to help. For instance, local meal delivery and home health services can alleviate some of the work you have to do. You may need to make changes to your home, such as installing bathroom handrails to enable your loved one to be more independent. Respite care gives you a much-needed break and allows you to run errands or take care of other tasks.

Realize that caregiving stress is a real condition that can occur to anyone in the role of caregiver. Seek out help, whether in the form of a temporary solution or a more permanent change like moving your loved one to Daystar. And remember: you aren’t alone, and you must make decisions for your own good, as well.

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Topics: cost of retirement living, caregiver stress, affordable assisted living

The Importance of Bathroom Handrails for Seniors

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jul 12, 2016 6:00:00 AM

The-Importance-of-Bathroom-Handrails-for-Seniors.jpgAre your parents safe in their own home?

We all know how important it is to lock our doors and check our smoke alarms. But did you know falling is the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in the over-65 age group? That’s right; according to the National Council on Aging, over one-third of senior citizens fall each year, and falling is the most common reason for an emergency room visit among the elderly. While you can’t prevent a stumble or dizziness, you can safety proof the most dangerous room in the house: the bathroom.

If your parents still live independently, it’s of vital importance to install handrails in the bathrooms they use. Their lives may depend on it. With that thought in mind, don’t slap up a bar in the bathtub and consider it safe, because it’s a little more involved than that. In fact, tubs should have two handrails – one that can be reached from a sitting position and another for when they’re standing. And it’s a good idea to have a third handrail or grip outside the tub that they can use while getting in and out.

Next, safeguard the commode area. A handrail next to the commode will help your elderly parents stand if they feel weak, dizzy or faint, and all three of these symptoms can come on without warning if a person becomes sick or has a reaction to a medication. If possible, put a rail on each side of the commode to protect against falls to either side.

Once the most dangerous room is covered, take a tour around the house and look for other potential areas where a fall might be prevented by a handrail. If there are stairs, a handrail should extend past the bottom step a few inches so it’s easily reached. Original handrails might not be strong enough, so pull them with all your weight and make sure they’re sturdy and well secured. If your parents still drive, consider putting a handrail in the garage close to where they park the car.

Think outside the box: if your parents visit you or someone else on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to offer to install safety handrails in that bathroom, too. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to have to rush to the emergency room with an injured senior.

Remember, a fall to an elderly person can mean much more than an injury. A broken hip or shoulder can mean months of recuperation and rehab, and it may mean the end of their independence. If your senior parent is already prone to falling, it might be time to talk to them about moving to a safer place, such as an assisted living facility.

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Topics: Senior Living Advice, retirement community amenities, aging seniors

How to Not Feel Guilty About Taking Care of You When You are a Caregiver

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jul 7, 2016 6:00:00 AM

How-to-Not-Feel-Guilty-About-Taking-Care-of-You.jpgAs you care for a senior family member, you may begin to notice you don’t feel as energetic as you once did. The added work and stress begin to take a toll on you as you try to manage two households and deal with multiple issues. Taking care of yourself may seem like a luxury, but in reality, it’s essential for you to continue caring for your loved one.

Overcoming the Guilt

One of the biggest barriers to getting the care you need is the guilt you feel for focusing on yourself. To surmount this issue, look at the situation differently. Consider how taking an afternoon off to go to the spa or just to take a nap is really helping your loved one. If you aren’t at your best, you can’t provide the high level of care they need. You may make mistakes or not be as alert as the person requires. It’s much easier to take care of yourself when you see it as benefiting your senior family member.

Plan Ahead

You can take time out for your own needs if you plan ahead. Schedule an hour or two or an entire afternoon to devote to yourself, and find someone else to check in or provide any needed care during that time. If possible, plan a special activity for your loved one at the same time. For example, you could take your parent to the home of a special friend or family member for the afternoon. You could then return home guilt-free to enjoy a nap or even catch up on much needed laundry or housecleaning.

Know What You Need to Do

While it’s nice to enjoy an afternoon reading your favorite book or visiting friends, you may prefer to spend this coveted time doing something that will improve your hectic schedule. So often you hear well-meaning friends say that you shouldn’t work during your “me-time” or that this downtime should involve a favorite activity or hobby. If you’re overextended, like many caregivers, with mountains of work piling up, a few uninterrupted hours attending to those tasks may do wonders for your mental health.

Understand When It’s Time for a Change

At some point, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one may be finding a care facility like Daystar. If you can no longer provide the level of care your parent needs and they aren’t enjoying quality time with you, it may be in their best interest and yours to find an alternative solution. You can then focus on being the adult child they love to spend time with instead of their sole caregiver.

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Topics: finding a retirement community, caregiver stress, assisted living for seniors

10 Questions to ask When Evaluating the Safety of Assisted Living

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jun 29, 2016 11:30:00 AM

10-Questions-to-ask-When-Evaluating-the-Safety-of-Assisted-Living.jpgWhen you and your parent are choosing an assisted living community, it’s easy to see the great features such as roomy apartments, landscaped grounds, and spotless dining rooms. However, some of the most important features may be less noticeable or invisible. Safety is one of the most important factors to consider when searching for an assisted living community, and it’s vital that you not overlook this aspect of your parent’s new home. Here are 10 questions you can ask when evaluating facilities:

  1. Where is the latest inspection report from the state regulatory agency?

According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, assisted living facilities in all 50 states must comply with local building and fire safety regulations, and you have the right to read the latest inspection report. Don’t be afraid to ask the administrator to see a copy of this and any other document pertaining to the records of the facility!

  1. What is the plan for weather emergencies and similar safety threats?

There should be a clear and simple plan in place to ensure the safety of residents during a weather threat such as a tornado, hurricane or flood. Make sure your parent is aware of the plan.

  1. How often do you perform safety drills?

Safety drills are vital in that they not only teach the residents what to do in an emergency, but also help them to avoid panicking if such an event should occur. Ask what the schedule is for drills and whether it’s adhered to.

  1. What steps are taken to ensure my parent will be evacuated during a fire if she is unable to leave the building on her own?

If there is a fire or other disaster, some residents may not be accounted for. Make sure there is assistance available if that occurs.

  1. What safety services and features are available at each level of care?

As your parent ages, their needs will change, and it’s vital for the facility to provide the safety services necessary to meet your parent’s current and future needs.

  1. If a safety, quality-of-care or maintenance issue is reported, how long does it take for the problem to be addressed?

A loose handrail or faulty smoke detector can be life-threatening. Ask to see records of previous issues and note the time it took for the problem to be addressed!

  1. Has your facility won any safety awards?

Awards show that the facility takes pride in its safety and strives for perfection, and safety awards should be prominently displayed. If the answer is “yes,” but you don’t see the awards, ask to see them.

  1. Are there smoke detectors and sprinklers in every area of the facility?

This may sound obvious, but – as in all public facilities – there’s a difference between the minimum required by law and a facility’s goal of complete protection and safety.

  1. Have all staff members been properly vetted? Can I trust the staff?

Sad to say, some facilities have high employee turnover and aren’t too picky about who they hire. Ask what the hiring process is, whether background checks are required, and the level of senior care education each staff member is required to have!

  1. Is there a security plan if my parent becomes disoriented and wanders?

This is important to know even if your parent has no memory loss at the present. A plan should be in place so the facility always knows when a resident is missing or unaccounted for.

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Topics: Assisted Living Community, West Seattle Independent Living, senior living in Federal Way

What Should My Role Be When My Parent Goes into Assisted Living?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jun 22, 2016 11:30:00 AM

What-Should-My-Role-Be-When-My-Parent-Goes-into-Assisted-Living.jpgRelocating is stressful, and when your parent is the one making the move, the stress is on both you and your parent. When seniors move into assisted living, they are not only entering a strange environment but also leaving the home that most likely has been their refuge for many decades. If you’re wondering how your role will change once your parent moves into an assisted living community, here are a few tips to help make the transition a happy one.

Making the Adjustment

First of all, keep in mind there’s no set time period of adjustment. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, a successful transition looks different for everyone, so don’t worry if your parent hasn’t settled in within the first few days or weeks.

Visiting

Visiting is high on the list, but there’s a fine balance here. If you visit every day, it might discourage your loved one from socializing with their new neighbors. So visiting once or twice a week is probably a better schedule. Check with the staff, and follow their recommendations on whether you should visit more or less as your parent settles in.

When you do visit, plan an outing if your parent is up to it. It can be a simple trip to the grocery store, a park, or an all-day date to a museum and lunch. The key here is to get them out of their room for a while. If they’re not up for a few hours out, plan to join them for a meal in the common dining room. This, by the way, is a great opportunity for you to meet their new friends, so try and keep your plans flexible in case your parent would like to invite someone else to join your adventure.

Activities

Have your parent’s local newspaper delivered to the new residence daily or weekly. This will help him or her keep up on happenings in the old neighborhood and around town. Plus, you’ll have plenty to talk about when you visit or call. If your parent has a laptop or eBook reader, make sure there is money in the account to buy books!

Nimble fingers make nimble minds, so if your parent is at all crafty, by all means indulge them! Bring yarn and knitting needles for mom or a small paint or woodworking set for dad. Or bring your own latest project and ask their advice on the finishing touches. If their new assisted living facility has craft classes, plan to join them for a session or two and help them forge new interests!

The Little Things

In this digital age, we tend to forget things that aren’t connected to our phones and computers, but your parent is used to a slower pace. Mail cards and photos of their grandchildren, send them flowers and assemble a small care package that is easily delivered. It doesn’t really matter what you send, it’s the idea that they’ll get mail on a regular basis!

Of course, a phone can be a lifeline to your parent. Call every day if you can, and encourage the grandchildren to do the same. Visit via Skype or social media, and text and email in between. Play it by ear and, above all, relax. Once your parent has settled into the new assisted living home, they may not have a lot of spare time for you, so try not to feel neglected. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

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Topics: Assisted Living Community, West Seattle Independent Living, senior living in Federal Way

7 Summer Activities Seniors Enjoy

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jun 15, 2016 11:30:00 AM

7-Summer-Activities-Seniors-Enjoy.jpgSummer is a time for outdoor fun and more relaxing activities. Many seniors feel left out of family planning, however, because they are no longer able to do the things they once enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be that way if you plan ahead. Make the most of your time together by choosing fun summertime activities your elderly loved ones can also participate in.

1. Enjoy the Beach

For many, summertime equals beach time. Seniors can benefit as much as anyone else from spending time relaxing in the sun, as long as they wear sunglasses, a hat and plenty of sunscreen for maximal protection from the sun. A life jacket provides extra security if they choose to venture out into the water.

2. Take in a Baseball Game

The boys of summer can provide an entertaining evening or afternoon if you take your loved one to a ballgame. Enjoy a ballpark hot dog and cold soda as you cheer on your favorite team. Be sure to pack a soft cushion, because the seats can get uncomfortable after a couple of hours.

3. Visit a State Park

Many state parks feature handicap accessible trails, which means you could rent a cart or a wheelchair if your loved one can’t walk the entire way. Pack a picnic and a camera so you can make an afternoon of it as you watch for interesting wildlife and .

4. Plant a Garden

Many seniors love to garden, and this is one hobby they can continue even with limited mobility. Simply change to container gardening and select herbs, flowers, and vegetables that don’t require a lot of space. Your loved one will enjoy exercising their green thumb, and caring for something will give them an added sense of purpose.

5. Become a Local Tourist

Often we are so busy working and getting the kids to their activities that we don’t take the time to enjoy the attractions in our own towns. Retirement is a wonderful time to discover what your local community has to offer for your senior loved one. Maybe you’ve never checked out the local theater or college art displays. Find out what museums are close by; many of them are free and not very busy.

6. Plan a Day Trip

Even if your parent isn’t able to take a long vacation, they can still enjoy new sights with a day trip. Figure out a place to visit where they’ve never been before – somewhere about two or three hours away. Schedule a couple of fun activities,time for a meal, and spend the day with them. New sights will capture your parent’s interest, and they’ll still be back home before late.

7. Go for a Walk

Summer is the perfect time to get more exercise outdoors, and walking is a healthy activity for seniors. Walk around the neighborhood or find a new nature trail. Here at Daystar Retirement Village, we have a lovely park like setting complete with an easy walking path.

Keeping your loved one active will enhance their quality of life. At Daystar, we focus on the entire person and offer a variety of activities year-round to exercise residents’ minds and bodies. Visit us today to see how we care for your loved one!

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Topics: West Seattle Independent Living, activities for seniors, assisted living in Federal Way

Dealing with Tough Emotions as Your Parent Ages

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jun 8, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Dealing-with-Tough-Emotions-as-Your-Parent-Ages.jpgWhen you are caring for aging parents, you’re dealing with two sets of emotions: yours and your parents’. During this challenging time, emotions can run high. To maintain a relationship – however complicated it may be – you must know how to manage these complex feelings.

Fear

One of the first emotions you’ll have to deal with is fear. Your parents may be anxious about getting older, losing control, and being unable to care for themselves. At the same time, you may be experiencing fear, as well: fear of the unknown. What will you do when your parents are no longer able to care for themselves?

Fear makes people do strange things and act in odd ways. It’s best to deal with it head on by talking about it. When you get your concerns out in the open they don’t seem so big.

Anger

Because many people don’t like feeling afraid they tend to get angry. Aging parents may be cross about a situation rather than with a person, but they may take it out on family and friends. Your parents may resent the fact that their bodies can no longer do what they want them to do, or that others must make decisions for them.

As hard as it may be, you should never rise to heated retorts and comments from your parents. Remember, it’s not really about you. Try to maintain a neutral attitude and stay calm when your loved ones are upset.

Control

As your parents lose power over certain areas of their lives, they will seek to exert control over other aspects. They may expect to have specific foods for meals, or want to do things at regular times. This is just their way of trying to maintain a sense of independence as they become more dependent on other people.

To deal with this attitude, try to find times when you can ask your parents their opinions. Let them choose which shirt to wear or whether to drink coffee or tea with their meal.

Guilt

You’re sure to feel a sense of guilt as you care for your parents. You may wish you could do more, feel bad that you weren’t with them when they fell, or maybe that you should have noticed when they first got sick. Adult children often have a sense of self-blame for not spending more time with their parents as they get older and decline in health.

 Caregivers don’t have a monopoly on guilt. The elderly often feel guilty as well. Aging parents may feel guilty that they can’t do everything they once were capable of or be the parent they have always been. To deal with this emotion you must continually remind yourself that you are only human. You also need to find time to maintain the parent-child relationship, if only by talking about special memories. Make sure that in the seriousness of the situation you don’t forget to have fun.

These are a few of the basic emotions you and your parent must deal with as they continue to age. In many cases, it helps to find an assisted living facility like Daystar Retirement Village where professionals can care for your parents so that you can maintain a degree of the relationship you’ve always known.

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Topics: assisted living facility, emotional cost of aging

On-Site Health Providers Keep Seniors Healthy and Happy in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on May 25, 2016 11:30:00 AM

On-site-health-providers-keep-seniors-healthy-and-happy-in-West-Seattle.jpgOur goal at Daystar Retirement Village is to help our residents live healthy, happy lives and reduce the need, as far as possible, for medical interventions. Of course we all appreciate our doctors and medical professionals, but the less time spent in waiting rooms, the better.

Assisted living communities were created for people who wanted or needed assistance with some activities of daily living, like meal preparation, for example, but did not need on-going skilled nursing care. Still, in our efforts to provide our residents with the best care possible, we have added a number of healthcare professionals to our team, either as staff members or as contract professionals.

For instance, our Director of Health Services is Rickie Chipman, a registered nurse. Rickie is always available to talk with residents and their families about health concerns or to check in on residents if they are ill. Rickie often gets calls from adult children living out of the area who want her to check in on a mother or father who has been feeling poorly. Mom or Dad may say they are doing fine, but it is usually a big relief to have Rickie confirm that all is well.

Rickie also oversees our medication management program. Taking the right medications at the right time under the right conditions at the right dosage can be a challenge for any of us. Rickie and her staff work hard to make sure our residents are following their medication protocols.

Daystar Retirement Village is also fortunate to have several healthcare professionals who provide services here at the facility. Residents who need physical therapy or occupational therapy can get those services right here at Daystar through the services of Independence Rehab.

We also are fortunate to be able to offer massage therapy. Obviously massage therapy has been around for a very, very long time, but the benefits of “healing touch” seem to be much in the news these days. We’re glad residents can enjoy a soothing, relaxing massage without leaving home.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, Federal Way Independent Living, Federal Way Assisted Living

Different Levels of Care Ensure Seniors Get the Help They Need in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on May 18, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Different-levels-of-care-ensure-seniors-get-the-help-they-need-in-West-Seattle.jpgOne of the most important factors in choosing an assisted living community is how you feel when you visit. It’s sort of like when high school students visit a college campus. Yes, the programs and classes matter, but another important factor is whether you walk around campus and think, “Yes, I can imagine myself  living here.”

That said, if you or a loved one is searching for an assisted living community, keep in mind that while many assisted living communities are similar in the kinds of amenities and services they offer, there are also differences. Some of the main differences involve the level of care provided to residents and whether that care is included in the basic monthly fee or if it is provided for an additional charge each month. It’s important to understand how those additional charges are determined and this article at Caring.com is a good overview.

At many assisted living communities, including Daystar Retirement Village, residents pay a base monthly fee that covers the cost of the apartment, utilities, housekeeping services, a meal plan, a daily activity program and special events, and regular check-ins to make sure the resident is healthy and safe. That level of care is great for a resident who is essentially independent, but wants or needs help with meal preparation and enjoys the companionship and daily activities that assisted living offers.

But, once residents start needed help with activities of daily living (ADL’s) the cost of care can get complicated, so it is important to understand the pricing structure before you sign an agreement. Important questions to ask include what care, if any, is included in the base monthly fee? Do residents pay separately for each type of assistance, or does the facility use a tiered system with three or four levels of care, from minimal assistance to extensive?

Although the components of each level of care vary from facility to facility, there are some basic guidelines. Many facilities use a point system to determine a resident's required level of care. Residents who require some level of direct, hands-on assistance with one or more activities of daily living are assessed prior to moving into the facility.

In assessing the level of care required, two general factors are considered. First, if the person is physically able to perform the task, for instance, buttoning or zipping clothes, and secondly, if the resident would remember to perform the task if not reminded to, for instance, brushing teeth or getting to meals.

In general, these are the types of activities that will determine the level of care a resident requires: Bathing, getting dressed or undressed, grooming (including brushing teeth and shaving if necessary), getting to and from meals, continence and medication management.

Again, every retirement community has a slightly different system for providing care to its residents and it’s important to ask questions upfront so there are no surprises later. For more information about the different levels of care, visit Payingforseniorcare.com.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, Federal Way Independent Living, Federal Way Assisted Living

Delicious Meals with Plenty of Choices Help Seniors Stay Healthy in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on May 11, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Delicious-meals-with-plenty-of-choices-help-seniors-stay-healthy-in-West-Seattle.jpgHave you ever noticed that it takes about as much time and trouble to cook a nutritious meal for one or two people as it does for four or five?Maybe that’s why so many of our residents say one of the things they enjoy most about Daystar Retirement Village is our restaurant-style dining. No more worrying about what to cookor looking at a sink full of dirty dishes when dinner is over.

The convenience of restaurant-style dining is obviously an advantage, but there are health benefits as well. Seniors living at home, especially seniors living alone, often fall into a routine of eating the same meals night after night or sometimes skipping meals altogether.

When seniors limit their food choices, they put themselves at risk for malnutrition because it’s harder to consume the variety of nutrients needed for optimal health.Another problem for some seniors is that eating the same foods day after day can make those foods less appealing, so they eat less.

According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging at Florida International University, malnutrition can lead to lost weight and strength, lessened immunity to disease, confusion and disorientation. Malnutrition exacerbates frailty and debilitation, which leads to a host of problems, including causing more stress and concern among family members.

At Daystar we take pride in the food we serve every day because we know it makes a difference in the health and well-being of our residents. A typical breakfast menu might include eggs to order, a two-egg omelet, buttermilk pancakes, hot cereal, bacon, fruit and toast. Researchers say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we want to make sure residents get off to a good start.

Choices for lunch and dinner are even more varied, with a sample lunch menu offering diners a choice between spaghetti with meat sauce, grilled cheese sandwiches or Chinese chicken salad. The dinner menu might include prime rib, roast chicken and Cobb salad. The menu always includes a variety of fresh vegetables and other side dishes and a full selection of desserts, including sugar free and low-calorie options.

And here’s another reason why serving tasty, nutritious food is so important: meals at Daystar Retirement Village are an important time for socializing and building community. When the food on the table is tasty, the talk around the table just seems more lively.

Visit us today and see how delicious dining at Daystar Retirement Village can be. Bring your appetite! 

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, Federal Way Independent Living, Federal Way Assisted Living

Daystar Residents Enjoy Ideal Location for Enjoying West Seattle and Beyond

Posted by Jim Fuller on May 4, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Daystar-residents-enjoy-ideal-location-for-enjoying-West-Seattle-and-beyond.jpgIt’s hard to choose a favorite time of the year in West Seattle, but May is pretty special. May flowers are blooming, the air smells sweet and there just seems to be more energy in the air. It’s a great time to be out and about.

In fact, we recently saw yet another study that concluded the best defense against dementia (and other chronic illness) is physical activity. For most of us, the easiest, most convenient form of physical activity is walking.

At Daystar Retirement Village we are fortunate to have safe, easy, pedestrian access to both a busy commercial area and serene natural habitat.

Westwood Village, an outdoor shopping plaza with about two dozen shops on 24 acres, is right across S.W. Barton Street from Daystar. The shopping area includes Target, Barnes and Noble, Marshalls, Bed Bath and Beyond and Radio Shack, to name just a few.

With Westood Village just across the street, many residents find they don’t need a car to take care of routine errands.

Westwood Village is a great place to people watch, but if you want to do some bird watching, then you’ll want to head to Roxhill Park, which is adjacent to the beautifully landscaped grounds of Daystar Retirement Village.

Roxhill Park covers about 13 acres and is at the headwaters of Longfellow Creek and possibly Fauntleroy Creek as well. As I said, we are so fortunate to have this park right at our doorstep and many of our residents enjoy a daily constitutional along the gravel paths on the banks of this important wetland area. The far side of the park features a playground and a skate park.

Residents of Daystar Retirement Village also benefit from our proximity to major bus routes.

Indeed, the 21 bus stops in front of Daystar every 15 minutes and gets passengers to downtown Seattle in just over 30 minutes for $2.50, far less than the cost of parking.

Whether you are headed to the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Public Library, or even a Mariner’s game, you can get there from here with a minimum of fuss, bother or expense.
That’s another thing we love about Daystar Retirement Village. We are an oasis of calm, but we are ideally located for getting out and about to see the sights in West Seattle or further afield.

We invite you to visit and see what retirement living looks like in West Seattle.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, Federal Way Independent Living, Federal Way Assisted Living

“Can I Trust the Staff?” Daystar Residents Say it Best in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Apr 27, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Can-I-trust-the-staff-Residents-say-it-best-at-Daystar.jpg“Can I trust the staff?”

When prospective residents and their families visit Daystar Retirement Village, that question looms large – and it should.

Hiring someone to clean your house or take care of your yard can be stressful enough, but when you need help with bathing or dressing, the stakes are much higher.

At Daystar, we know that while amenities such as beautiful landscaping, well appointed public areas and a varied and robust activities schedule are all extremely important, the quality of our staff—especially the caregivers who provide assistance with activities of daily living—is of critical importance.

We can tell you that our staff is well-trained, empathetic, respectful, kind and compassionate, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Here are what some of our former and current residents and their families have said about the staff at Daystar:

“I want to let you know about an exceptional employee here – Vanessa. She is always so helpful, friendly, concerned, competent and a wonderful caregiver! She is truly an asset to Daystar – Ijust love her! I always feel reassured that whatever comes up, she'll be able to handle everything.”(Audrey, Daystar resident)

“The staff is very caring and responds quickly and efficiently.” (Sharon, Daystar resident)

“The thing I like most about living here is the many pleasant and smiling faces that I love!”(Barbara, Daystar resident)

I hope you know how much Dad appreciated the excellent care he received from you!” (Peggy, daughter of former resident)

“Please express to the staff how appreciative my mother is of all the staff and the help they provide to her. She wouldn't get along nearly as well without the caring and concern of the Daystar employees!” (Jason, resident’s son)

“She has received such kindness and so much attention from everyone that we know without a doubt that she is safe and well cared for. We have great trust in everyone at Daystar and could not wish for a better place for our mother.”(Chad, resident’s son)

If you or a loved one is considering a move to assisted living, I urge you to visit Daystar, talk with our staff and see what we have to offer.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

5 Things to do Before Filing a Claim for Long-Term Care Benefits

Posted by Jim Fuller on Apr 20, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Five-things-to-do-before-filing-a-claim-for-long-term-care-benefits.jpgIf you or a loved one needs long-term care and you have a long-term care insurance policy, that’s fortunate. Unfortunately, filing a claim for long-term care benefits can be both frustrating and time-consuming. Every long-term care insurance policy is different and it’s crucial that you understand exactly what your policy covers and what documentation you need to file a claim.

According to APlaceForMom.com, the process will go more smoothly if you take these five steps before you start the process of filing a claim:

1. Designate a Family Coordinator

While there may be several people involved in your loved one’s care, it’s important to designate one person as the family coordinator. If possible, choose someone who is extremely well organized and has a flexible schedule (to be able to make and take phone calls from insurance companies and doctors as necessary). The coordinator should keep detailed notes about every conversation and track all correspondence.

2. Read the Entire Policy

Know what the policy says before you call the insurance company. If you can’t find a copy of the policy, call the insurance company and ask for the duplicate copy.

3. Understand the Benefit Triggers

Long-term care policy payments are typically triggered when the insured person needs help with two or more activities of daily living and/or when the insured person is suffering from dementia. Activities of daily living typically include bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Different policies use different definitions and set different triggers, so make sure you understand the triggers in your policy.

4. Understand the Policy Benefits

Some policies are easier to read than others. When going through your policy, try to focus on answering these questions:

  • What is the benefit for different care settings? (Assisted living, home care, nursing home
  • What is the benefit period? (How long do the benefits last?
  • What is the total benefit pool? (Is there a maximum lifetime benefit?)
  • How long is the elimination period? (This is the number of days you must need care before the benefit kicks in. It can vary from 0 to 180 days.)

5. Follow Up

If you are the family coordinator, make sure you are the durable power of attorney for healthcare and are authorized to help your loved one through the process. Remember to keep a log documenting every phone contact, email message or letter. Keep track of doctors, any care received and medications that might affect your claim.

For more information on filing a claim for long-term care insurance, go to APlaceForMom.com.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

Learn Coping Strategies at Memory Loss Workshop in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Apr 13, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Learn-coping-strategies-at-memory-loss-workshop-in-West-Seattle.jpgEveryone forgets things from time to time. Temporary memory loss can be caused by a variety of factors, including inattention, stress, tiredness or medication. When memory loss interferes with daily activities, however, it’s important to talk to your doctor to discuss possible causes. Even if it turns out that the memory loss is caused by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, there are things you or your loved one can do to reduce frustration and maintain independence.

At Daystar Retirement Village, we are hosting a four-week series of workshops on coping with early-stage memory loss starting on Saturday, April 23. The workshops are designed to be attended by people suffering from mild memory loss and a care partner – meaning a spouse, adult child, other relative or friend. During the workshops, participants will learn how to cope with challenges of memory loss. Pre-registration is required. Contact Danielle Rogers, an education and programs specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association, at drogers@alz.orgor (206) 529-3870.

The workshops are being presented by the Alzheimer’s Association with the support of the University of Washington,the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Aging and Long-term Support Administration and Community Living Connections.

If you cannot attend the workshops, here are some tips for coping with memory loss from the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Keep a notebook or large “week-to-view” diary. Write down things you want to remembersuch as names or to-do lists. Keep your diary at the kitchen table or by the phone so you get used to referring to it.
  • Label cupboards, closetsand drawers to help you remember where to put things and where to find them later. Another option is to keep frequently used items out in the open where you find easily see them when they’re needed.
  • Keep important telephone numbers by the phone.
  • Ask your pharmacist about putting your pills in a disposable dosette box, which is labeled with the days of the week.

Along with the above low-tech memory aids, you can also find a growing number of high-tech memory aides for sale online. Some devices to consider include:

  • Reminder messages –When you go in or out of the house, a recorded voice reminds you to pick up your keys or lock the front door.
  • Calendar clocks –Theseshow the date and the day of the week. Keeping the clock next to a diary or weekly planner can help you orient yourself when checking appointments.
  • Locator devices –Thesehelp you find frequently mislaid items, such as keys. You attach a small electronic tag to the item; if you misplace the item, you can click a button on the locator device to make the tag beep.

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, call us at Daystar today to find out about the upcoming early-stage memory loss workshops.

Register for the event.

 

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

Daystar Hosts Antique Appraisal Event April 16 in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Apr 6, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Antique_Appraisal.jpgIf you enjoy the PBS program “Antiques Roadshow,” you’re in luck! Daystar Retirement Village is hosting our very own Antique Appraisal Event on Saturday, April 16.

Daystar residents and family members can meet with appraisers from 10 a.m. to noon, and the event is open to the public from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome, but you must register in advance to meet with an appraiser (only two items per person and no large items, dolls or rugs). Appraisals will be done by Mike Wall and Associates Property Appraisers. Call (206) 937-6122 to register.

According to the folks at “Antiques Roadshow,” very few people strike it rich when they clean out the attic and find Grandpa’s baseball card collection or Aunt Kathy’s Beanie Baby circa 1993, but it’s a lot of fun to see the kinds of stuff people hang on to for sentimental reasons.

Speaking of cleaning out the attic, now is the traditional time for a thorough spring cleaning. But here’s the thing: You can’t really clean clutter. If you don’t get rid of stuff you no longer need, you just spend a lot of time moving it around and dusting it (or not).

Have you read about the book, “The Life-Changing Miracle of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo? The premise of this book and many others like it is that too much stuff just gets in the way of your ability to live your life with joy. We’ve written about the positive side to downsizing before, and it dovetails nicely with Kondo’s advice to pare down your belongings to those things that truly make you happy.

Moving from a home with three bedrooms to a one-bedroom apartment can seem daunting, but we find that when people focus on what they are keeping – not what they are letting go of – the move goes much more smoothly.

While many organizational gurus recommend tackling one room at a time, or even one drawer at a time, Kondo recommends organizing by category. Start with things that are less laden with memories or sentimental attachments (like kitchen appliances, for instance, or clothes) and move on to more difficult categories like photographs or letters.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but organizing by categories makes so much sense. If you are tackling a category like “office supplies,” Kondo recommends that you go through the house and gather up everything that fits in that category. You might find that you have a stapler in the kitchen junk drawer, a stapler on the desk in the spare bedroom and another stapler in the closet with art supplies. If you only organize the kitchen junk drawer, or the spare bedroom, or the hall closet, you might keep hanging on to two staplers that you don’t really need.

In my house, it’s scissors. I can never find scissors when I need them, so I must have 10 or 11 pairs hiding in various drawers around the house. Kondo’s advice is to keep what you need (and what you love) and make sure you know exactly where to find it.

Great advice for all of us.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a great family heirloom that you’ve always been curious about, bring it down to the Daystar Appraisal Event. It should be a very fun day.

RSVP to the event here.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

POLST Ensures End-of-Life Choices for Seniors in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Mar 24, 2016 11:30:00 AM

POLST-ensures-end-of-life_choices-for-seniors-in-West-.jpgNone of us like to think about it, but if something catastrophic happens to you and you cannot make decisions for yourself, someone else will have to make decisions for you. In most cases, that’s a spouse or child. 

Unpleasant as it is to consider, suppose you have a massive heart attack and are found unresponsive in your home. Do you want emergency medical personnel to start CPR? What if it’s likely that if you do survive, you would have significant brain damage? Do you want that? Do you want to put your spouse or child in a position to guess what you would want, and then perhaps second-guess whether they had done the right thing? 

That kind of guessing and second-guessing on the part of family members is largely avoided when a person has a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. According to the Washington State Medical Association and Nolo, a website focused on legal information for consumers, a POLST does not replace a living will or advance health directive, but is an important complement to it, especially in an emergency situation. 

Any adult can ask their family physician to help them complete a POLST, but most experts recommend that adults who are terminally ill, have a debilitating chronic disease or are at risk of suffering a catastrophic health emergency such as a heart attack should have a POLST form signed and readily available in an emergency.  

A POLST is important in an emergency because it is an actual physician’s order that must be followed by first responders or emergency room personnel. In Washington, the POLST is printed on bright green paper so it is instantly identifiable. To see a POLST form, click here. 

The advance health directive or living will is a legal document intended to guide medical decisions, but it is not an actual physician’s order. Living wills are more useful for people in skilled nursing facilities or in a non-emergency situation. When decisions about future medical treatments need to be made and you cannot make those decisions, the living will guides your durable power of attorney for health care in making those decisions on your behalf.  

Like a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, the POLST form tells emergency medical personnel and other health care providers whether or not to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. However, unlike the DNR, the POLST also includes directions about life-sustaining measures in addition to CPR, such as intubation, use of antibiotics and feeding tubes.  

To be legally valid, the POLST form must be signed by a qualified health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. The POLST form helps medical providers understand your wishes at a glance, but it is not a substitute for a properly prepared living will and durable power of attorney for health care. 

Taken together, a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care provide more information than a POLST form, including details about your health care agent, more complete health care wishes and your preference for organ donation. Therefore, if you have a POLST form, you should still complete a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care to provide a full set of wishes about your care. 

For more information about the POLST and the difference between the POLST and living wills, here is a good post from DailyCaring.com.  

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Are You Emotionally Prepared for Retirement in West Seattle?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Mar 17, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Are-you-emotionally-ready-for-retirement-in-West-Seattle.jpgIt’s one thing to be financially prepared for retirement, but it’s another thing to be emotionally ready. People talk a lot about whether they can afford to retire, but there is a lot less said about what life in retirement looks like and whether it will be psychologically satisfying. The emotional or psychological component to retirement is starting to get a little more attention, which is a good thing.  

A 2015 article at in Psychology Today by Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., caught our eye. 

In the article, Riggio poses four questions intended to start a discussion, or at least serious self-reflection, on what it means to be ready for retirement. Here are those questions: 

  1. Do you enjoy your job? Does it provide a sense of meaning and purpose in your life?

This is critical. Some people enjoy what they do so much that it would be unwise to retire unless they can replace that sense of meaning with some other activity or passion. If you are a person who has always identified closely with your work, spend some time thinking about what else in life will give you that same sense of meaning or satisfaction.  

  1. If your job is stressful, is it retirement you seek, or a change in careers?

We all have a friend or family member who talked incessantly about retirement not because he or she had such great plans for retirement, but because they just hated their job. Quitting a job you hate, if you can afford to, is a fine thing to do, but you need to have a plan for what you will do next. Perhaps it is volunteer work, active pursuit of a leisure activity or even a second career, but there must be something to look forward to. 

  1. Does your job provide critical social needs in your life?

Are most of your friends work associates? If so, it might be important to widen your circle of friends before you retire. Once you quit working, those work relationships are often more difficult to maintain, so it’s helpful to have friendships that you have developed in other arenas, such as service clubs, social clubs, church groups or volunteer work.  

  1. Are you psychologically prepared to retire?

Do you have a plan for retirement? Are there hobbies or interests that you are looking forward to spending time on? Do you have a bucket list and a plan to start checking off items? What about a retirement plan? Have you stopped to consider what your days will look like as a retired person? 
 
Many people have unrealistic expectations about retirement. The reason vacations are so much fun is that they are not the norm. The fun of not going to work will wear off at some point, and then you’ll need to figure out what you want to do next. It’s best to go into retirement with your eyes wide open and a plan in mind 

If you intend to travel, learn to play an instrument or raise championship roses, for instance, Riggio recommends that you look at what you are already doing. If you’ve had trouble keeping the houseplants alive, raising gorgeous roses may not be realistic. If you start missing home after being gone for three days, foreign travel might not be your most satisfying retirement plan.  

At Daystar Retirement Village, we see plenty of evidence that retirement means different things to different people. The important thing is that you think about what you want your retirement to look like and then make a plan to create the retirement you want.  

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Great Movies for Grownups in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Mar 10, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Great-movies-for-grownups-in-West-Seattle.jpgIn February, residents at Daystar Retirement Village enjoyed gathering for a pre-Oscars discussion of the Academy Award nominations with guest speaker Lance Rhoades. Then, we gathered again to watch the awards show itself on February 28. Many of our residents are regular movie goers, so they had seen quite a few of the nominated movies or performances. It made for a very fun evening.  

Even though the awards season is officially over, we’ve still got movies on our minds and wanted to come up with a list of films that may or may not have won awards, but are still worth watching. For inspiration, we turned to the AARP 2016 Movies for Grownups Awards. Many of these movies are available for rent through a kiosk service such as Redbox or through an online service such as Netflix.  

“5 Flights Up, staring Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, was named “Best Grownup Love Story.” They play a long-married couple wrestling with whether to leave their beloved Brooklyn apartment that is, well, five flights up. As the website Sixtyandme.com put it, “At its heart, it is a movie about moving forward.”  For so many Baby Boomers now hitting retirement, the challenge is figuring out, where do we go from here?” 
 
“Learning to Drive, starring Patricia Clarkson as a Manhattan writer and Ben Kingsley as her Sikh driving instructor, was named “Best Buddy Picture.” This is more than typical romantic comedy fare, or even an intergenerational Odd Couple.” The AARP magazine says it is a story of “two lost souls whose friendship helps both find their way. 
 
“Best Comedy” in the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards went to “The Intern, starring Robert DeNiro as a bored retiree who answers an ad to be an experienced “intern,” and Anne Hathaway as the hard-driving executive who needs to find a little balance in her life. Yes, it’s fairly predictable--it turns out that  DeNiro does have a thing or two to teach the young whippersnappers in the office. But it’s an enjoyable story of an unlikely friendship and the lessons that can be learnedor relearnedat any age. 

Lily Tomlin was named “Best Actress” for her role in “Grandma.” Tomlin is a poet named Elle, living alone and grappling with her life choices when her granddaughter shows up on her doorstep needing help with an unplanned pregnancy. AARP calls it “a masterful work of screen-acting alchemy that makes for the best performance of Tomlin’s 50-year career.” 

The “Best Movie for Grownups” award went to “Spotlight,” the story of the Boston Globe investigation into the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy James and Rachel McAdams as persistent reporters, the movie manages to be dramatic and entertaining while chronicling the often dull, tedious work of investigative reporting.  

To find out more about Movies for Grownups, click here 

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Learn More About Shingles And Why Vaccines Are So Important Seniors

Posted by Jim Fuller on Mar 3, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Shingles-vaccine-and-seniors-in-West-Seattle.jpgIt seems like advertisements for the shingles vaccine are everywhere these days 

If you are a person of a certain age, you might wonder what’s up with that. Is it just a marketing ploy from the vaccine company? Why do we all need a shingles vaccine suddenly? 

For answers, we turned to both WebMD and the Mayo Clinic 

Shingles have been around for as long as chicken pox, and both are caused by the varicella zoster virus. The vaccine for chicken pox came out in 1995 and the vaccine for shingles came out in 2006, which is why you don’t remember your parents or grandparents talking about the shingles vaccine. 

Experts used to say only people who had had chicken pox could contract shingles (which includes about 99 percent of us), but they’ve since discovered that even people who received the chicken pox vaccine can get shingles, though it is rare and the cases have been milder.  

By various estimates, somewhere between 20 and 33 percent of Americans will get shingles in their lifetime, and the risk increases significantly after age 50. Nearly half of people over the age of 85 have had shingles.  

The first sign of shingles is usually a rash that spreads across one side of the body, often the torso, but it can be on the head or face as well. The rash rarely crosses the midline, so that’s a telltale sign to watch for. You can’t get shingles from someone else, but people who have never had chicken pox (and are not vaccinated) can get chicken pox from someone who has shingles. Experts say the reverse is not true. You can’t get shingles from someone who has chicken pox. 

Symptoms include burning, tingling or numbness of the skin, feeling sick with chills, fever, upset stomach or headache, fluid-filled blisters, skin that is sensitive to the touch and discomfort that can range from mild itching to severe pain. While the rash and blisters can last 10 days to two weeks, in some cases the main infection is followed by postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is nerve damage that can cause severe pain for weeks, months and even years. 

According to the CDC, the overall incidence of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is about 20 percent, but the risk of PHN rises with age. After age 70, about 50 percent of people who get shingles will also have PHN. 

So, what can the shingles vaccine do for you? According to experts at the CDC, the shingles vaccine is about 51 percent effective, meaning the vaccine cuts your risk in half. Also important, experts say even if you do get shingles, having had the vaccine lessens the severity of the outbreak and reduces the chances of getting PHN. 

The CDC recommends the vaccine for people over age 60, unless they have a compromised immune system or some other health condition that argues against the vaccine.  

Medicare will pay for the vaccine, but it is part of the Part D prescription benefit. Some private insurance companies pay for the vaccine, depending on the patient’s age and other restrictions, but many people are choosing to get the vaccine and pay for it out of pocket.  

Next time you see your doctor, make sure to ask about the shingles vaccine. In the meantime, if you think you might have shingles—if you notice an itchy rash on one side of your body—see a doctor immediately. The sooner you see a doctor, the more likely he or she will be able to prescribe medication that could lessen the severity of the outbreak. In general, you must get the medication within three days of developing the rash.  

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Tips to Bridge the Miles Between Seniors and Grandchildren in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Feb 25, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Tips-to-bridge-the-miles-between-seniors-and-grandchildren-in-West-Seattle.jpgOne of the joys of working at Daystar Retirement Village is having a resident walk up holding the arm of a beautiful, bright-faced teenager—or toddler, or young adult—and say, “This is my grandchild. I just wanted to introduce you.”

We are fortunate to have grandchildren who visit here regularly, but many of our residents have grandchildren living across the state, across the country or across the world.

Our residents have various ways of keeping in touch with far-flung family members, but building strong ties with children from a distance isn’t easy. Even so, technology coupled with creativity, persistence and love can bridge the gap so that when you finally are face-to-face your relationship can be savored and strengthened.

Different technology works at different ages, with different kids and different lifestyles. The trick is finding the technology that works for you and for them.

For the youngest grandkids, videoconferencing is a huge boon. There are many services that provide videoconferencing including: Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and many more.  From 3,000 miles away, you can watch your grandchild crawling across the living room or feeding Cherrios to the dog. Even before they can talk, they can see you and hear your voice and begin to understand you are part of their lives. Depending on your grandchild’s temperament, you might even be able to share a picture book over videoconference.

As your grandchild gets older, videoconferencing might remain important, or you might start keeping in touch with email, text messages or social media posts.

Don’t forget about older technology, like the U.S. Postal Services (very old) or faxes. You might have to buy an inexpensive fax machine for your grandchild, but it could become your very own private portal to send real-time messages back and forth. One nice thing about snail mail or plain paper faxes is that you have a physical copy of your communication that can be cherished immediately and preserved for years.

Telephone contact is important too, but can be tricky. Some children love to talk on the phone, others don’t. If the conversation isn’t working, you can’t force it, and you shouldn’t take it personally. Just find another way to communicate.

One idea we like a lot is buying stamped postcards at the post office, addressing them to yourself and then sending a batch to your grandchildren. With any luck, and a little bit of encouragement from your adult child, small drawings and short notes from your tiny loved one will start showing up in your mailbox. Of course, return notes are required.

We heard of one grandmother who couldn’t be with her grandson for his birthday, so she built a birthday-in-a-box and sent it to him, complete with a cake mix and frosting, party hats, treat bags and a present.

Yes, most of us would prefer to have our children and grandchildren living nearby, but if they don’t, all is not lost. Frequent contact--telephone calls, emails, texts, tweets, letters, postcards, packages, faxes, videos, photos--can keep the bonds strong despite the distance.

If you are looking for more ideas, grandparents.com is a great source for bridging the distance between you and your little loved ones.

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“Nine To Ninety” Tackles Big Questions About Elder Care

Posted by Jim Fuller on Feb 18, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Nine-to-Ninety-tackles-big-questions-about-elder-care.jpgIf you haven’t seen it already, I want to recommend a new PBS documentary titled “Nine to Ninety.” It’s only 30 minutes long, but it’s a powerful story about love and loss and aging with dignity and self-awareness.

“Nine to Ninety” is the story of 89-year old Phyllis Sabatini and her her 90-year-old husband, Joe. When the film starts, Phyllis and Joe are both living with one of their daughters and a son-in-law and enjoying time with their granddaughter Jacqueline. But Joe’s health deteriorates as his dementia increases and Phyllis becomes determined to to relieve her daughter of the burden of caring for everyone from 9 to 90.

It’s a beautiful, honest film about real people trying to make hard decisions. Joe and Phyllis have been married 62 years and their love for each other is palpable, but at some point Phyllis decides that it is best for her and her family if she moves 3,000 miles away to live closer to her other daughter and enter an assisted living facility.

Juli Vizza, one of the producers of the film, is one of Phyllis and Joe’s granddaughters, which is how such an intimate, personal story became a documentary. Director Alicia Dywer says her goal is for the film to spark conversations and decision-making around aging, end-of-life choices, death and caretaking in our own families.

“Whether it is about independence, money, health, caretaking, death or family relationships, these are conversations that are difficult to begin,” Dwyer writes, “but as 89 year-old Phyllis says in our documentary “Nine to Ninety,” ‘We’ve got to talk about it!’”

The film premiered on PBS on Jan. 4 and is airing on PBS stations around the country. According to the website, it’s also possible to organize community screenings of the documentary. One way or another, we know it will eventually air in West Seattle.

Supporters of the film say they hope the Sabatinis’ story and the accompanying educational materials and discussion guides can foster comprehensive conversations between healthcare professionals and patients, providers and clients, and caregivers with family members.  

For more information go to ninetoninetymovie.com.

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Smart Phone Apps Help Seniors Relax and Sleep in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Feb 11, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Apps-help-seniors-relax-and-sleep-in-West-Seattle.jpgIf you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic that leads to a host of other health concerns.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that nearly one-third of all Americans have insomnia. Of course, certain health conditions can cause sleep disturbances, so you need to rule out any underlying conditions by talking with your doctor. But, if you think that stress and trouble winding down might be to blame, there are a plethora of apps for your smart phone, tablet or computer that are designed to help.

I first got interested in these apps because of an article at AARP Magazine that discussed five great apps for caregivers. Former music therapist and current caregiver Amy Goyer recommended five music apps, including Nature Sounds and Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, both of which seemed perfect for creating a calm, peaceful environment.

Nature Sounds allows you to choose between 13 different “nature” sounds, include birdsong, campfire, creek and surf. I particularly enjoyed “forest,” which featured crickets, birds, wolves and possibly frogs croaking in the distance.

Then, once I started looking for relaxing apps, it became a little addictive. Type “sleep” or “relaxation” into either Google Play or iTunes and you’ll have no shortage of apps to try out.

Most of the apps are free, or available for a dollar or two, but several of them have premium versions that cost a little more per month. Here are several others that receive good customer reviews:

Relax & Sleep Well by Glenn Harrold: Hypnotherapist Glenn Harrold guides you through many sessions available by in-app purchase. His therapies address issues other than sleeplessness, too, such as weight loss.

Pzizz: Pzizz creates new custom sounds to lull you to sleep any time you need them. The app includes an alarm, a timer, a nap feature and more.

Relax Melodies features nature sounds, soothing music and other calming sounds, from “butterfly” to “vacuum” to “cat purring.” For a premium upgrade you get additional sounds as well as more guided meditations.

The above apps have soothing sounds and music to help you relax, but there are also many different apps that purport to monitor how much you sleep and track your sleep cycles.

 The technology of these apps is pretty incredible and definitely worth checking out if you’ve been having trouble getting and staying asleep.

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Daystar Retirement Village supports new habits for seniors in 2016

Posted by Jim Fuller on Feb 4, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Daystar-Retirement-Village-supports-new-habits-for-seniors-in-2016.jpgHaving a hard time sticking with those new years resolutions? It’s the beginning of February and already 36% of have already dropped the resolution.

Here at Daystar, we provide help and support for those trying to stick to their resolutions.

According to Newsday, the top 10 resolutions last year were:

  • Lose weight/exercise more
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthy
  • Travel
  • Learn something new
  • Spend less/ save more
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Give back to the community
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Relax

While we may not be able to help with all of these resolutions, we do offer tangible support for quite a few.

For instance, for people who want to improve their health and wellness, our activities schedule includes Tai Chi with Steve, Morning Stretch, Strength & Balance Yoga with Rhonda, Gold Zumba with Maria, Exercise with Robert, Balloon Volleyball, Stay Fit Scavenger Hunt and Swim at the YMCA. For everything except swimming at the YMCA, the fitness classes are held right here at Daystar.

Speaking of our packed activities schedule, we always have something new going on. In January we took a field trip to the Seattle Art Museum and had a performance here by the Seattle Conservatory of Music. Special presentations included National Soup Month Soup Tasting, a presentation on normal memory loss, a workshop on Healthy Cooking as We Age, and a Spotlight on Old Time Radio.

Many of us resolve on a regular basis, to eat more in the way of healthy foods and avoid high-fat, high-sugar or highly processed foods. At Daystar Retirement Village, our restaurant-style dining features a full menu of healthy choices. Whether you want a diet that is low salt, low fat, low carb, low sugar or simply well balanced, you can find delicious foods to enjoy.

If your resolution is to travel more, living at Daystar makes that easier as well. You can take off on an adventure knowing that your home is safe and cared for in your absence. You don’t have to worry about house sitters or gardeners or stopping your mail or newspaper.

Now, resolutions are fine for some people, but you may be thinking, “I’m 85 years old and as far as resolutions go, been there, done that,” which is an entirely reasonable position to take. In fact, it made me wonder if Newsday’s top 10 resolutions would hold true for a crowd of octogenarians.

Fortunately, a few years ago researchers gathered information from 1,200 elderly people about various aspects of their lives and experiences to try to figure out what life lessons they could impart to the rest of us. According to a story at NextAvenue, certain themes emerged that led researchers to compile these top five resolutions (by category) as suggested by these elders.

Keep yourself Happy
Resolution: “Ask yourself: Are you glad to get up in the morning?” If there isn’t anything for you to look forward to, it’s probably time to find a new hobby.

Marriage:
Resolution: “Let your partner have his or her say.” Listening is a vastly undervalued skill. Listening isn’t losing, it’s acknowledging the other person’s perspective.

Aging
Resolution: “Accept it.” Do what you’re able to do and accept that there might be some limitations.

Regrets
Resolution: “Go easy on yourself.” And remember, tomorrow is a new day.

Whatever you resolve in 2016, all of us at Daystar Retirement Village hope it is your happiest, healthiest year yet.

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Self-Compassion Necessary in Caregiving Decisions in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jan 27, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Self-compassion-necessary-in-caregiving-decisions-in-West-Seattle.jpgAccording to the Family Caregiver Alliance, about 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of unpaid care each year to family members who are ill, disabled or elderly. In many cases, those caregivers are providing 24/7 care, but the average is closer to about 25 hours per week.

The thing about caregiving is that if you are a family caregiver, you don’t get to fit it in according to your own schedule. It’s not like piecework where you can save it up for the weekends and knock it out in one long slog. If you’ve ever done it, you know that providing even 25 hours a week of hands-on care can overwhelm your life.

Obviously, the decision to become a full-time caregiver is intensely personal and based on a variety of factors. Unfortunately, it seems the most common reason is, “If I don’t do it, who else will?”

If your own health or the health of your family system is at stake, there is almost always more than one choice. In our experience working with many, many families who care deeply about their elderly loved ones, it seems a better way to frame the question might be: What is the best way to ensure that my loved one’s need for assistance with daily activities, safety and compassion are met, and my own needs to care for myself and my family are also met?

Looked at in those terms, becoming a full-time family caregiver is often not the only or best solution.

In a recent blog post at NextAvenue.com, author Phyllis Quinlan suggests that while compassion for an elderly loved one is important, self-compassion is also important.

“Self-compassion is giving yourself the time and space to make a choice that honors your needs as well as the needs of others,” she writes.

When making caregiver decisions, it’s easy to get caught up in what other people want or need, without taking the time to make an honest accounting of your own needs and the true cost of becoming a full-time caregiver yourself. It’s the right choice for some people, but not for everyone.

We love those times when the decision is straightforward and everyone agrees, but more often there are conflicting needs and opinions and a lingering sense of guilt that maybe something else could have been done or should have been done. (For an interesting article on elder care guilt and how to make peace with your decisions, click here.)

Family caregivers are truly the unsung heroes in our midst, but caregiving takes many forms and its worth is not measured in the enormity of the sacrifice. As they say on the airlines, “Put your own oxygen mask on first.”

For a discussion of the most common type of care arrangements, click here.
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Selling a Home to Finance Senior Living May Make Sense in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jan 20, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Selling-a-home-to-finance-senior-living-may-make-sense-in-West-Seattle_1.jpgHolding on to a house you no longer need makes as much sense as wearing a life vest to go for a walk. What’s the point?

There was a time when conventional wisdom said housing values will always go up, but we’ve seen that no longer holds true, at least not in the short run. Once you hit retirement age, waiting out downturns in the market so you can sell high may not be an option. With housing values near or above what they were pre-recession, now might be a good time to consider your options and make a plan.

Daystar Retirement Campus can help. At Daystar we are fortunate to be able to collaborate with Powell Property Management to offer residents our Home Selling Program. This enables you to use your home to receive a monthly rental income, while living comfortably in the retirement community.

One of the challenges of financing your retirement living by selling your home is that in some cases it can take six months to a year to sell your home. That can be a long time to wait, especially if you or a loved one needs assistance now.

Facing the Challenge

At Daystar Retirement Campus we know that’s an untenable position, so we created a Deferred Payment Program which allows residents to join our senior retirement community at a reduced cost while waiting for their house to sell.

The way it works is that once you have signed with a licensed real estate agent and your home is listed on the Northwest Multiple Listing, you will receive a 35 percent reduction in your monthly rental fee at Daystar. For instance, if your monthly rental fee is $2,495, you would pay only $1,622 (a reduction of $873 each month) while your house is for sale. Then, once your house is sold, you would pay back the difference from the proceeds of the sale with no interest and no special fees on the accrued amount. Essentially, you are getting an interest-free loan against the sale of your house, so in that example, if the house is on the market for four months, the amount owed after the sale of the house would be $873 x 4 months, or $3,492.

Evaluating the Options

Selling a home is often a great option for financing retirement living, but it is only one of several choices. If you or a loved one is trying to sort through various options, we recommend the services of Elderlife Financial Services.

Elderlife Financial Services specializes in helping seniors access high-quality care when they need it. Whether you are in crisis and need immediate help to get a loved one appropriate care, or are planning for the future, an Elderlife Family Advisor can help you figure out your options.

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Less Is More for Residents of Daystar Retirement Campus

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jan 13, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Less-is-more-for-residents-of-Daystar-Retirement-Campus.jpgWhen we talk with prospective residents at Daystar Retirement Campus, we often hear a certain amount of apprehension about moving from a single-family home to a one- or two-bedroom apartment.

But, our experience is that once the move is complete, residents quickly embrace the advantages of having less stuff to repair, maintain, organize, clean or worry about.

Here are just a few advantages to getting rid of stuff and “upliving” to a more manageable home in an independent living community:

  • Let go of worries about maintenance and repair. This is a big one. Aging homes require increasing attention, which can be both expensive and time consuming.
  • Your current home is too big. When there were kids in the house, it might have made sense to have a family room, a living room and maybe a bonus room in the basement. But, does it make sense now? Do these unused rooms give you joy, or just weigh you down as they become repositories of more and more stuff that you no longer need.
  • Financial benefits. As homeowners have discovered over the past decade, real estate values can go up and down. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining a single-family home only goes up, especially as wear and tear necessitates the replacement or repair of big-ticket items like a roof, the electrical system or plumbing fixtures. When the market is up, as it is now, it might make sense to sell your large, single-family home and put that home equity to good use.
  • Reduce your stress. What homeowner doesn’t have a running list in his or her head about repairs that should be made, or tasks that must be completed, from cleaning out the rain gutters to scrubbing down the kitchen cabinets to organizing the craft supplies in the back bedroom? Whether or not you ever get to those tasks, worrying about them takes up mental energy that could be better spent planning adventures and excursions you’ll enjoy.
  • Enjoy more free time. This is implied in the benefits listed above. All that time you used to spend taking care of your house and yard can now be spent on people and activities you enjoy.

People of all ages and lifestyles are embracing the so-called “tiny house” or “small house” trend, but those who transition to independent living or assisted living communities have several added advantages:

  • Meet people who share your interests. One of the biggest benefits of an assisted living community is that you have easy access to a community of people who have lived rich, full, interesting lives and who most likely share many of your interests and cultural references.
  • Feel safe and secure. Not only are you safe from outside intruders, but you have 24/7 assistance in case of a health emergency.
  • A variety of floor plan options. At Daystar Retirement Campus, we offer 21 different floor plans, including studios and one- and two-bedroom configurations, as well as care options that include assistance with a variety of daily tasks, including medication management, bathing and dressing.

Information in this article was adapted from an article at www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

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Topics: Retirement Living Options, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living, Senior Living Facility Amenities

Depression is Not a Normal Part of Aging in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Jan 6, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Depression-is-not-a-normal-part-of-aging-in-West-Seattle.jpgWhile the holidays can be difficult for those of us who have experienced the recent death of a loved one, or for those of us who feel the loss of loved ones most acutely during the holidays, the weeks and months after the holidays can be even worse.

Depression affects people at every stage of life, but the elderly can be particularly susceptible because of life circumstances, illness and age-related physical changes.

Symptoms of Depression

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, different people have different symptoms, but common characteristics of depression include the following:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Listlessness or feeling empty
  • Hopelessness
  • Apathy

All of us might experience some of those feelings from time to time, but if such feelings persist over several days or several weeks with little or no relief, it’s time to seek professional help.

Other reasons to seek professional help are if you or a loved one are experiencing increased confusion, forgetfulness, insomnia (or sleeping too much), because these, too, can be caused by depression.

Contributing Factors

Researchers believe several factors, or a combination of factors, contribute to depression, including family genetic history, brain chemistry and life circumstances. For people who experience depression for the first time in old age, researchers say it could be caused by stress, but physiological changes could also be to blame. For instance, researchers now believe that restricted blood flow to the brain, a condition most often seen in people over age 60, can cause what is known as vascular depression. A variety of other medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and MS, have also been linked with depression.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to talk to your physician. There are different forms of depression and some require more extensive interventions than others. It may take time, but there are a variety of treatments that have been helpful to others and could help you or your loved one as well.

If someone you know is experiencing one of the less debilitating, but still extremely difficult, forms of depression, there are things you can do that may help.

The National Institutes of Mental Health recommends:

  • Offer support, understanding, patience and encouragement
  • Invite him or her on outings, including walks or other opportunities to enjoy nature
  • Remind him or her that depression is temporary and eventually things will get better
  • Report any comments about suicide to a family member, doctor or therapist
  • Check in regularly and listen carefully to what he or she says.

Depression is not a normal part of aging. If you or someone you love is suffering, your family physician is a good starting point for getting help.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Helping a loved one adjust to assisted living in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Dec 23, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Helping-a-loved-one-adjust-to-assisted-living-in-West-Seattle.jpgSo, your loved one has made the decision to move to assisted living, and you want to help make the adjustment period as smooth as possible. What can you do?

At Daystar Retirement Campus, our best advice for family members is to remain positive, expect some bumps on the road, and give it time.

That said, we know that every situation is different. Some of our residents moved here after years of planning, confident in their decision to spend this phase of their life in a senior retirement community. Other residents are here because they suffered a sudden health setback and living alone was no longer an option.

If the new resident was ambivalent about the move, the transition may take a little more time, but in any case, supportive family members can make a big difference.

Here are some tips based on a blog at United Methodist Homes for getting through those first few months:

Make it easy to continue a routine. If Mom always starts the day with a walk around the neighborhood, make a plan for her to continue that habit. Here at Daystar, we have lovely walking paths as well as a number of different exercise groups. If Dad always starts the day with coffee and a newspaper, make sure that’s a comfort he’ll be able to enjoy at his new residence as well.

Encourage new hobbies or renewing old ones. If Mom used to love to paint, now might be the time to pursue that interest in one of the weekly activity groups. Did she used to enjoy Bridge or Pinochle? Whatever her interest, the activity staff will help find a way to pursue it.

Keep the lines of communication flowing. At most assisted living facilities, residents have phones in their rooms. Make sure it’s working properly and important numbers are kept nearby. Encourage your loved one to call you and make it a habit to call yourself. Even a five-minute conversation can mean a lot.

Send flowers or special deliveries every so often. Now more than ever it’s important to let your loved one know that he or she is still in your thoughts and still cherished.

Visit regularly. This is hard if you don’t live nearby, so the advice is to visit as often as you reasonably can. Taking your loved one out to lunch or dinner, is great, but so is coming by just to hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee together. At Daystar Retirement Campus there are activities going on all the time and family members are always welcome to join in the fun.

Maintain ties to familiar surroundings. Regular trips back to the old neighborhood might help your loved one feel connected to his roots. This stage of life is often when important life review takes place, and revisiting important places in your loved one’s past can be a good way to start a conversation.

With time, patience and support, we find that even residents who are initially reluctant come to really enjoy living at Daystar Retirement Campus. Visit us today to see what we have to offer.

So, your loved one has made the decision to move to assisted living, and you want to help make the adjustment period as smooth as possible. What can you do?

At Daystar Retirement Campus, our best advice for family members is to remain positive, expect some bumps on the road, and give it time.

That said, we know that every situation is different. Some of our residents moved here after years of planning, confident in their decision to spend this phase of their life in a senior retirement community. Other residents are here because they suffered a sudden health setback and living alone was no longer an option.

If the new resident was ambivalent about the move, the transition may take a little more time, but in any case, supportive family members can make a big difference.

Here are some tips based on a blog at United Methodist Homes for getting through those first few months:

Make it easy to continue a routine. If Mom always starts the day with a walk around the neighborhood, make a plan for her to continue that habit. Here at Daystar, we have lovely walking paths as well as a number of different exercise groups. If Dad always starts the day with coffee and a newspaper, make sure that’s a comfort he’ll be able to enjoy at his new residence as well.

Encourage new hobbies or renewing old ones. If Mom used to love to paint, now might be the time to pursue that interest in one of the weekly activity groups. Did she used to enjoy Bridge or Pinochle? Whatever her interest, the activity staff will help find a way to pursue it.

Keep the lines of communication flowing. At most assisted living facilities, residents have phones in their rooms. Make sure it’s working properly and important numbers are kept nearby. Encourage your loved one to call you and make it a habit to call yourself. Even a five-minute conversation can mean a lot.

Send flowers or special deliveries every so often. Now more than ever it’s important to let your loved one know that he or she is still in your thoughts and still cherished.

Visit regularly. This is hard if you don’t live nearby, so the advice is to visit as often as you reasonably can. Taking your loved one out to lunch or dinner, is great, but so is coming by just to hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee together. At Daystar Retirement Campus there are activities going on all the time and family members are always welcome to join in the fun.

Maintain ties to familiar surroundings. Regular trips back to the old neighborhood might help your loved one feel connected to his roots. This stage of life is often when important life review takes place, and revisiting important places in your loved one’s past can be a good way to start a conversation.

With time, patience and support, we find that even residents who are initially reluctant come to really enjoy living at Daystar Retirement Campus. Visit us today to see what we have to offer.

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Topics: West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living, How to Choose a Retirement Community in WS, The Process of Retirement Living

Starting a conversation about assisted living in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Dec 16, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Starting-a-conversation-about-assisted-living-in-West-Seattle.jpgIf you’ve been putting off having a conversation about assisted living with an elderly loved one, now’s the time to seize the moment.

What we’ve learned from the many families we work with here at Daystar Retirement Campus is that the best time to have a conversation about assisted living is before you need to. The key is to allow enough time to discuss options, listen compassionately to fears and concerns, talk through various pros and cons and make sure your loved one feels listened to and validated.

Here are five tips based on information from Agingcare.com that can help make “the talk” a positive and productive discussion.

Understand that this will be an on-going discussion.

If your parents are hale and hearty, it’s appropriate to ask, “Mom, have you and Dad ever talked about what you would do if one of you got sick and you couldn’t keep up with the house and yard?” Another way to start the conversation might be, “Dad, I know we are a long way from this, but as your child, I want to make sure I understand your wishes if something happens and you can’t live alone.” And then really listen to the answer. You’ve opened the topic and you can return to it later. If you start the conversation before there is a crisis, it lessens the risk of your loved one becoming defensive and feeling out of control.  

Your language, and body language, matter.

How do you feel about assisted living? Have you visited several and do you have a good sense of what they offer? If you have a positive feeling about the benefits of assisted living, it’s more likely you’ll be able to communicate those positive feelings to your loved one. Focusing on the problems at home may not be as effective as focusing on what they will gain in assisted living. Benefits include meal service, housekeeping, on-site activities and a vibrant social community. Still, let your parent know that it is their decision to make and be willing to take a step back, listen to their concerns and validate their feelings.

Identify possible scenarios

Even though you might have settled on what you think is the best option, your parent or parents might not be ready to go there. It might be helpful to brainstorm as many possible options and outcomes as you can think of, and then discuss the pros and cons of each in turn. Perhaps assisted living isn’t the best option at the present moment, so be willing to look at all options. That’s one way to return a feeling of control to your loved one and still get to a decision that achieves your goal of keeping your loved one safe and cared for.

Recognize why they want to stay at home

Even though assisted living might be the most logical choice, that doesn’t make it easy. For many seniors, moving to assisted living is an acknowledgement that the end is near—even though they may have many good years left. While acknowledging their spoken, and perhaps unspoken fears, also remind them assisted living is an opportunity to scale down and focus on those people and interests that they most enjoy. Assisted living does not necessarily mean giving up, it can also mean moving forward into a new phase of meaning.

If you’ve been putting off having this conversation, this holiday season might be a good time to start. We often hear that talking about “what comes next” went much better than expected.

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Topics: West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living, The Process of Retirement Living

Tips for seniors coping with grief during the holidays in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Dec 9, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Tips-for-seniors-coping-with-grief-during-the-holidays-in-West-Seattle.jpgAt Daystar Retirement Campus the decorations are up and our activity schedule is packed with festive events. But, as much as we look forward to the holidays, we know it can be a difficult time as well.

Despite what advertisements would have us believe, most people approach the holidays with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. We want so badly for it to be a time of family togetherness, love and celebration, but the reality can fall short of our idealized expectations.

If there has been a recent loss in the family, either a death or a significant change in circumstance, the discrepancy between what we want and what we have can be even more painful.

Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society for coping with grief during the holidays:

Be intentional about how you spend your time. Plan ahead and be willing to say no. If you are looking forward to certain traditions and events, go ahead and join in. If there are other traditions or events that you are not looking forward to, opt out.

Find a time and a place to acknowledge your grief and honor your loved one. A special prayer at a family meal, a special candle or some other tangible memorial of your loved one can help you feel connected during the holidays.

Give yourself permission to experience whatever emotions come up for you. There is no “right” way to feel. Find a safe place to express yourself freely and gain support from others.

Be kind to your body. Exercise and eat nutritious foods. Get plenty of rest. Take hot baths. Enjoy favorite foods, but avoid too much alcohol or other stimulants.

Let it go. Don’t hang on to things you wish you had done or hadn’t done, said or didn’t say. Forgive yourself and forgive those you love.

Plan distractions such as going to a movie, having coffee with a friend, going to a play or getting a massage.  

Consider finding a support group through your local hospice or medical center. Being able to talk about your loss with people who are also grieving can lessen the feelings of isolation.

With those tips in mind, here are a few warning signs that may indicate more help is needed:

Trouble sleeping
Feelings of hopelessness
Inability to move on, even after a year or more has passed
Suicidal thoughts

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek help from a doctor or mental health practitioner.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

Silver Friendships Blossom at Daystar Retirement Campus

Posted by Jim Fuller on Dec 2, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Silver-friendships-blossom-at-Daystar-Retirement-Campus.jpgMake new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.

There seems to be a common understanding that it is more difficult to make friends as you get older. As the thinking goes, friendships are most likely to blossom when you are around people at the same life stage and with similar interests—which is why college is a fertile place for making friends, as is work, especially before you have a family and obligations at home.

Once you hit mid-life or later, it can seem that everyone around you already has a close group of friends and they aren’t looking to add anyone new.

So, how do you go about finding those silver friends?

At Daystar Retirement Campus it is easier than you think.

We often hear from our residents and their family members that friendships formed here at Daystar truly are what makes this a very special place to live.

Experts tell us that there are three factors that foster the formation of friendships.

  • Proximity
  • Repeated, unplanned contacts
  • a setting which invites letting one’s guard down

For people who choose to age in place, meeting new people and potential friends can be difficult. As friends and friendly neighbors move away, or die, our social networks can begin to narrow. If we don’t make a conscious effort to do otherwise, it’s easy to become isolated.

At Daystar Retirement Campus, there is a friendly community of people at a similar life stage right outside your door. That’s proximity.

Repeated, unplanned contacts can happen daily—in our restaurant-style dining room, strolling the beautiful park-like grounds of our West Seattle campus, or at one of the many activities offered throughout each week.

At Daystar Retirement Campus, we don’t have a one-size fits all approach. Our weekly activities are organized to appeal to residents with different interests. For those who enjoy exercise, we have stretching groups, walking groups, tai chi and more. For those with an artistic streak, we offer crafts and other arts opportunities. We have guest lectures, sing-alongs, musical performances, movie nights, a book club and bingo. We also offer hymn sing-alongs and a Bible study meetings.

When experts talk about “a setting which invites letting one’s guard down,” I imagine they mean a setting where people feel safe, welcome and cared for. Exactly what we strive for at Daystar.

Yes, making friends can be difficult late in life, but that’s usually because we have so few opportunities to spend quality time with people we like. That’s not a problem at Daystar Retirement Campus.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Seniors In West Seattle Find Gratitude Key to Holiday Happiness

Posted by Jim Fuller on Nov 25, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Heading into this holiday season, Daystar Retirement Village is busy planning a variety of holiday celebrations that will include delicious foods, uplifting music and opportunities to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.

We are looking forward to enjoying happy times with our residents and their families.

Still, despite what the advertising industry would have us believe, this is not a time of unmitigated merriment and joy. Leaving aside the stress of living up to unreal expectations, we can be cheered by memories of happy holidays past, or we can feel, deeply, the loss of loved ones who are no longer with us.

At Daystar Retirement Village, we understand that many of our residents feel both—a profound sense of gratitude and a profound sense of loss, especially during the holiday season. 

As it turns out, researchers confirm what many of us suspected: the more grateful we are for what we have now, the less likely we are to dwell on losses and regrets for things we cannot change.

According to a Harvard Mental Health newsletter from a few years back, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” The newsletter summarizes recent research on gratitude and concludes that gratitude helps people feel “more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

So, with Thanksgiving upon us, it seems an opportune time to refocus on gratitude and giving thanks for people, places and even things, that make our lives richer, happier and a little bit easier.

Here are some suggestions from the Harvard Mental Health newsletter for cultivating gratitude in your life:

Write a thank-you note. Who doesn’t like getting an unexpected thank you note? If possible, deliver it in person and even offer to read it aloud. If you make it a monthly habit, so much the better.

Thank someone mentally. Thanking someone mentally may not improve the recipient’s day, but researchers believe that the practice does have benefits for the sender.

Keep a gratitude journal. The great thing about a gratitude journal is that when you are having a really bad day, you can look through the journal to help you remember that there is goodness in your life, too.

Count your blessings. This is similar to keeping a gratitude journal, but you can do it mentally or in writing. It’s important to be specific and call to mind all of the sensations associated with the blessings in your life. Researchers believe that in reimagining a positive experience you are actually re-experiencing it.

Pray. Religious people know the power of prayer to cultivate gratitude, but non-religious people can also send out positive thoughts and intensions to the Universe. Writer Anne LaMott, a Christian, says her three go-to prayers are wow, help and thanks.

Meditate. It’s so simple that it can be tricky at first. The goal is to still your mind and not think about anything. Sometimes people focus on their breathing (to keep from thinking about other things) but you can also focus on a sensation that brings you peace, such as the sun on your face.

At Daystar Retirement Village we are grateful to be part of a community that includes so many remarkable people who have done amazing things and are continuing to lead meaningful lives. This holiday season that is what we will be focusing on. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, Senior Caregiver Resources, West Seattle Independent Living

Understanding Different Levels of Care for Seniors in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Nov 18, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Daystar Retirement Village has been serving seniors and their families for more than xxx years, so we could write the book on assisted living and the long-term care needs of seniors. But, we realize that for many people, the first time they think seriously about long-term care is when a loved one experiences a medical crisis.

With that in mind, this month we wanted to blog about the different levels of care that are available to seniors in West Seattle. The broad outlines of what is available is pretty clear, but within those categories there are differences that can be significant, so it is important to get recommendations from people you trust and visit those facilities you are interested in, perhaps more than once, and ask plenty of questions.

Senior Communities

Senior housing is designed for people over a minimum age (sometimes it is 55) who typically do not need any assistance with activities of daily living. They are often neighborhoods, gated communities or even towns, such as Sun City in Arizona, where seniors have access to a wide variety of amenities such as social clubs, travel clubs, golf, tennis and entertainment.

Continuing Care

Continuing care communities provide services ranging from independent living (a resident rents an apartment, but is otherwise independent) all the way to, in some cases, memory care, where the resident has 24/7 supervision. Residents are usually admitted when they are independent, but move to a higher level of care if and when their needs increase.

Assisted Living

Many assisted living facilities also offer an independent living option. At Daystar, residents who opt for independent living pay a monthly rent that includes evening meals in our restaurant-style dining room, weekly housekeeping, social events, arts programs and other on-site entertainment, diverse classes, workshops and exercise programs, scheduled transportation to doctor appointments, shopping or other errands, and three non-intrusive wellbeing checks each day. Floor plans are here.

For residents who opt for assisted living, their monthly rent includes all of the above, plus three meals a day and access to higher levels of care as they need it, including assistance with medication management, bathing, dressing and getting to and from meals.  You can see floor plans here. Assisted living facilities are designed for older residents who need some assistance with activities of daily living, but are generally healthy and do not require ongoing skilled nursing care.

Board and care

A board and care home is generally a single-family residence that has been renovated to accommodate up to six adults living together with one or more caregivers. Residents living in board and care homes often need more close supervision than those living in assisted living, but still do not require skilled nursing care.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Most often people are admitted to a skilled nursing facility directly from a hospital where a doctor has determined that the person’s needs cannot be met at the person’s previous home. Skilled nursing facilities often have two distinct populations—those in rehab care who are expected to return to their previous home and those in long-term care.

Inside Elder Care has created a helpful graphic that summarizes the differences in levels of elder care available.

If you or a loved one is just beginning this journey, the best thing you can do is gather as much information as you can and talk to people who have walked this path before. If you think assisted living might be right for you or a loved one, please call us at Daystar and see what we have to offer.

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Topics: Process of Retirement Living in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Daystar Honors Veterans In Nov. 11 Celebration In West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Nov 11, 2015 11:30:00 AM

At Daystar Retirement Village we will be honoring veterans and their families with a special celebration on November 11th. 

Typically, and this year as well, the majority of men and women veterans here at Daystar were soldiers in World War II, but even the very youngest of those who joined the fight near the war’s end would now be in their late 80s or early 90s. Even with most of those who fought in WWII now laid to rest, the Department of Veteran Affairs reports that there are 22 million veterans in the United States.

Soldiers from the Vietnam War now make up the single largest group of combat veterans in the United States. That conflict lasted from 1961 to 1975, meaning that those drafted during the early days would now be in their early 70s. Nearly 9 million people served in the Armed Services during that 14-year period, and 3.4 million were deployed to Southeast Asia. 

If someone you love is a veteran, particularly if he or she is facing end-of-life issues, I urge you to find out more about the We Honor Veterans program created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 10 years ago these two organizations started realizing that elderly veterans often face unique physical and psychosocial challenges, even when their military service was 50, 60 or 70 years earlier.

The We Honor Veterans website is a great resource not only for information about hospice and palliative care services for veterans, but also to learn about each armed conflict since World War II and the specific physical or mental health issues that were common to each.

One section of the website is devoted to simply Honoring Veterans. As the website states, “It is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home.” I’m not sure about that, but I do know that it is never too late to acknowledge their service, be a witness to their story and express appreciation for their sacrifices.

Here is a list of suggestions from the We Honor Veterans website:

  • Ask, gently, about their military service
  • Give veterans an opportunity to share as much or as little of their story as they want
  • Listen respectfully and compassionately
  • Express appreciation for their service and sacrifices
  • Consider bringing another veteran with you when you talk with veterans
  • Acknowledge and appreciate the families of veterans as well
  • Be supportive and non-judgmental and always validate their feelings and concerns.
  • It might take longer for some veterans to trust you. Be patient and listen.

Understand that there isn’t one story to share, but perhaps many different memories shared over a period of time

If you or someone you know has a story about their military experience that they would like to share or preserve, the Veterans History Project might be a great vehicle to do that. The Veterans History Project is part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and it collects personal stories of American war veterans. You can learn more about it here

From all of us at Daystar Retirement Village, we are sending out heartfelt appreciation to our U.S. military today and every day. Thank you for your service.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Take Steps to Avoid Medical Identity Theft in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Oct 28, 2015 11:30:00 AM

We have talked about the need to be vigilant against con artists who prey on the elderly, but I don’t think we’ve talked about medical identity theft before.

It’s a big and growing problem in the United States, with some experts estimating the problem has grown by 20 percent in the past year. The way it works is that the criminal steals someone’s Social Security number and health insurance information and then uses it to get medical services, treatments or prescriptions.

In most cases, the person whose information has been stolen won’t even realize it unless or until he or she looks through medical or insurance paperwork and sees billings on unusual dates or for unfamiliar diagnoses or treatments or medications. Given the amount of paperwork many of us get from our insurance companies, it’s easy to see how extra charges can go through unnoticed.

According to the Consumer Information page on the Federal Trade Commission website, people should read their medical and insurance statements regularly and completely. Read the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement or Medicare Summary Notice that is typically sent after treatment to make sure it matches your experience. Check the name of the provider, the date of service and the service provided. If you see any discrepancy, call your health plan and report the mistake.

Other warning signs include:

A bill for medical services you didn’t receive

A call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe

Medical collection notices on your credit report

A notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit (and you know you haven’t)

A denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have

If you see any of these warning signs, visit IdentityTheft.gov to get more information. The Federal Trade Commission website has a wealth of information about steps to take and who to contact if you think you have been the victim of medical identity theft.

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from medical identity theft:

Do not provide your Social Security number or health plan identification number to anyone offering you a “free” health service. Medical identity thieves may pretend to work for an insurance company, doctor’s office, clinic or pharmacy to trick you into providing sensitive information. If you aren’t sure, hang up and call the doctor’s office, clinic or pharmacy directly.

As a follow up to the previous tip, don’t share medical or insurance information by phone or email unless YOU initiated the contact and you know who you are dealing with.

Keep paper and electronic copies of your medical and health insurance records in a safe place. Shred outdated health insurance forms, prescription and physician statements, and the labels from prescription bottles before you throw them out.

For more tips on how to remain safe, go to www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/017-medical-identity-theft

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Warning signs of medical identity theft:

  • Bills or charges for medical services or equipment you never received
  • Bills for dates of service that don’t match dates for care you received
  • Calls or demands from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t recognize or owe
  • A notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit
  • A denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have

How to safe-guard your protected health information:

  • Never give your health insurance member ID number to anyone offering “free” health services or products. Medical identity thieves may pretend to work for an insurance company, doctors’ office, clinic or pharmacy to urge you to supply the number.
  • Don’t share medical or insurance information by phone, in person or email unless you initiated the contact. If you didn’t initiate the contact simply walk away, hang up, delete or call back to the main customer service phone number on your own.
  • Shred outdated health insurance forms, prescription and physician statements and prescription bottle labels before discarding.
  • Before providing personal information to a website that asks for your Social Security number, health insurance account numbers, or details about your health, read the Security and Privacy Policy on the website.
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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Failing to Plan for Long-term Care Creates Stress For Seniors in West Seattle

Posted by Jim Fuller on Oct 21, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Being a caregiver for an aging parent makes said caregiver more likely to plan for his or her own long-term care.

That’s great news for the bottom slice of the so-called “sandwich” generation—children who are watching their Baby Boomer parents struggle to provide care to their aging grandparents--because other than that, the news about planning for long-term care is pretty dismal.

According to a 2014 survey by Northwestern Mutual, 75 percent of Americans agree that as people live longer, the need for long-term care planning becomes more and more important. Unfortunately, planning for long-term care still seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

The survey by Northwestern Mutual queried more than 2,000 Americans ages 18 or older to better understand how, or whether, Americans are planning for the possibility that they may need assistance in their later years.  As part of the survey, researchers also wanted to determine if people were aware of the growing need for long-term care.

Findings from the study include:

One in three respondents said they had been a caregiver in the past or expected they would be in the future.

More than half of those who anticipate providing care expected that decision would affect their own personal finances or retirement plans.

About two in five respondents said they had not taken any steps to plan.

Only 37 percent know family members’ preferences for long-term care.

Although women are more likely than men to believe they will need long-term care, they are less likely to plan for it.

About one in three respondents are saving for his or her own long-term care needs

About one in four respondents said they do not understand available options for long-term care.

Here is a great website from Family Caregivers Alliance to learn more about long-term care demographics—who uses, when and for how long.

At Daystar Retirement Village we understand that planning for long-term care can be difficult, but we think the hardest part is just getting started. The first step really is to figure out what your options are.

Understanding that most of us prefer to be independent until the very end and then pass in our sleep, we still need to make a plan for “what if.” What if we reach a point where we need help? Obviously, finances will be a factor, but if you identify what your preference is—and why—you’ll stand a much better chance of creating a plan that achieves the result you are looking for.

In broad terms, if someone needs assistance with activities of daily living, the choices are a family caregiver, services provided by a home health agency, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Each of those choices has advantages and disadvantages and there are many factors to consider. We’ve posted other blogs about things to consider here and here.

Once you know your options and your preference, the next step is telling your loved ones—your spouse, your children, other relatives or important people in your life.

Daystar Retirement Village is just one option, but we believe it is an exceptional one. If you are looking at options, we hope you’ll come by for a tour and see what we have to offer.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living

Responsible Child or Caregiver and Does It Matter in West Seattle?

Posted by Jim Fuller on Oct 14, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Are you a caregiver or just a good child? That is the title of this blog at Next Avenue and it caught our eye, because it raises such a good point.

At Daystar Retirement Village we are privileged to work every day with loving and compassionate adult children who are concerned about and involved in their parents’ health, safety and comfort. They show their compassion and love in diverse ways, but it’s common for these family members to check in with their parents, and maybe with us, often. They accompany their parent to doctor appointments. If their parent no longer drives, they plan regular outings, either to take care of errands or simply for pleasure. When their parent experiences a sudden change in behavior, they are quick to notice and look for possible causes. 

In a very real sense they are caring for their parent, but few of them would describe themselves as “caregivers.” In their minds, I think, they are just doing the right thing, doing what needs to be done. They are simply being a good son or daughter.

In our experience, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of adult children to describe themselves as “caregivers” unless their parent is aging at home and they are the primary, hands-on caregiver.

According to research published at The Gerontologist, they may be doing themselves a disservice. The problem, researchers say, is that, even with its many rewards, caregiving exacts a toll. Yes, being a 24/7 caregiver presents special challenges, but researchers have found that even part-time caregiving can cause significant stress and lead to poor health.

Once an adult child self-identifies as a “caregiver,” that can open up opportunities to access a range of services. “Employers, community agencies, national organizations, and (your) local and federal government offer services to help caregivers, but first you have to know you are one,” said Next Avenue columnist Sherri Snelling, chief executive of the Caregiving Club. “By speaking up and saying ‘I am a caregiver,’ you will find resources that can help you care for your loved one.”

While most people assume that the stress of caregiving is directly related to amount of time spent doing hands-on tasks, at least some research suggests that’s not the case. A UCLA-led study published in The Gerontologist found that caregivers are more like to take part in “negative health behavior,” which they  defined as smoking, consuming more fast food and sodas, and being sedentary—and that those negative effects did not correlate with time spent providing care.

Interestingly, researchers found similar negative effects among caregivers who live with their parents and those who visited once a week.

The message here is that if you are an adult child of an ailing parent, and you are trying to provide care yourself or arrange it through service providers, you are also a “caregiver” and you should acknowledge the important work you are doing. Even better, you should look into the various support services, support groups, or resource centers that might lessen your stress and allow you to maintain your own health while caring for someone else’s.

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Topics: Healthy Seniors in West Seattle, West Seattle Assisted Living, Senior Living Advice, West Seattle Independent Living