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New Service Offers Something to Smile About

Older patients who have cognitive impairment, including dementia, have a higher risk for dental caries (progressive loss of bone or tooth, and tooth decay), periodontal disease, and oral infection because of their decreased ability to engage in home oral care. Mobility challenges also keep older patients from visiting their dentist. Older adults with systemic health conditions also are prone to gum disease and dental infections. That’s why this month (November), Country Home assisted living in Parker began to offer dental hygiene service to our residents, thanks to Senior Smiles, LLC, a Medicaid-covered service. Every three months, a Senior Smiles hygienist will visit our residents to tend to their dental needs. The dental health service provides first-rate dental hygiene services to adults residing in assisted living and group homes, independent living, and skilled nursing homes. Each visit provides a gentle dental cleaning and a checkup. And if needed, Senior Smiles has a dentist who will come on site to treat cavities and repair or make dentures. Olga Kogan, who founded Senior Smiles, LLC, in the Denver area, has been in the dental care provider business for 30 years, and has 17 years of experience as a dental hygienist. She and her team serve the Denver metro area as well as northern and southern Colorado. “Our hygienists truly love working with adults and seniors who have various health-related challenges,” Olga told me. “We treat our patients the way we would like to be treated.” She prefers to send the same hygienist to Country Home each time, “so they can get to know the patients individually.” For Olga, caring for patients with...

Nutrition Needn’t Be Boring

Calcium. Potassium. Sodium. Vitamin D. Vitamin B12. Dietary fiber. Sound boring? It doesn’t have to be. No matter our age, we all need the basics of a healthy diet. But older adults have dietary needs to mitigate the risks of deficiencies that come with age.  At Country Home assisted living in Elbert County, my aim is to see that my residents are well nourished so they can feel their best and enjoy a good quality of life. A few basics about that list of nutrients: As we age, we’re more susceptible to bone loss, which can lead to fractures – a risk from falling. Calcium is vital to bone health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so the two go hand in hand.  Good sources of calcium aren’t just dairy products, though, so if you can’t or don’t want to eat dairy, opt for green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and okra. Nuts are also sources of calcium. Even fish such as sardines contain calcium, but they must include the bones—and you need to eat them. Potassium is a partner with sodium, in that it counterbalances some of sodium’s harmful effects (such as high blood pressure).  Foods that contain potassium include fruits, vegetables and fish–such as bananas, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, and tuna and cod, just to name a few foods. Also on the list are prune and orange juices, canned white beans, lima beans and yogurt. Among vitamins, vitamin B-12 is important for cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and bone health. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 can be associated with tingling or prickly feelings in...

Music to Their Ears–and Hearts, Minds and Bodies

“Music is what feelings sound like,” says music therapist Amy Wilson, quoting a sign posted in the home she shares with her musician husband. A board-certified music therapist, Amy explains how she works with residents of Country Home Assisted Living here in Elbert County. Amy has been providing weekly, hourlong music therapy sessions at Country Home for three years, bringing rhythm instruments such as maracas, drums and bells, recordings, and dance props such as scarves—all whose purpose is to engage our residents socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. Music itself has “therapeutic” benefits for many populations in many settings, but music therapy as a medically based profession is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals by a professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. That’s what we provide at Country Home Assisted Living to improve the quality of life for our residents. “Individualized” is key.  At Country Home Assisted Living, our music therapist pays close attention to the individual needs of our residents, watching for facial expressions or behaviors that indicate a reaction to the music—for example, whether it calls up happy or sad memories.  We want to know what kinds of music they like, what music they don’t like, about music in their past. Is it big band, country western, classical?  Because our setting accommodates a small number of residents (generally eight or fewer), Amy can address the needs of each person. Once she assesses the strengths and needs of our Country Home residents, Amy provides the indicated treatment, including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. The concept of music as...

Hydration: Let’s Drink to That!

We all need fluids to help ensure healthy organ and joint function and to prevent the complications of dehydration. For older adults, ample hydration is especially vital.   As we age, our body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, our ability to conserve water is reduced, and we are less apt to sense when we’re thirsty (which signals that we’re dehydrated). These health challenges are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by using certain medications. And older adults may have mobility challenges that limit their ability to get water for themselves. At Country Home Assisted Living in Elbert County, Colo. (Parker), we pay close attention to our residents’ individual hydration levels.   Dehydration can lead to too-low blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, and a reduced flow of oxygenated blood to vital organs and extremities.   Signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness and confusion. That’s why it’s vitally important to stay hydrated.   The only treatment for dehydration is to replace the fluids that have been lost. Water, of course, is usually the number one choice. But for some, water might seem “boring.”  There are other options, but some might come with risks, depending on one’s health status. Here at Country Home Assisted Living, we ensure that our residents have options for staying hydrated safely:   Low-fat milk—A good source of hydration in that it stays in the system longer than water. It also contains calcium, vitamins A & D, and protein. But it may not be the best option for people with high blood pressure or heart disease. Fruit juice—All-fruit...

Part 3 of a Series: The Realities of Hospice

In this third and final part of my series on hospice, I want to share with you the realities of what this type of specialized medical care can provide to people at the end of their lives. I’ve been fortunate to have a variety of hospice companies come to Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado, to provide the additional support an assisted living facility needs for residents as they near their end. Whether it’s a nurse, doctor, aide, social worker or clergy member, hospice team members walk in the door at Country Home with a large degree of concern, but also with comforting and assuring smiles on their faces. Because they are so well trained to identify and deal with end-of-life issues, it is truly a wonderful service that they provide. And it’s a service that doesn’t cost anything. It is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans. The hospice teams focus on comfort, pain relief and symptom management. They do not try to cure the disease or terminal illness. Their main focus is to make sure the Country Home resident is comfortable and adequately medicated to remain free of pain. They are available 24/7 for any need that arises. They also will order special equipment that might be needed as a resident’s abilities continue to dwindle, such as wheelchairs or oxygen concentrators. They also provide emotional and spiritual support for all of our residents, their families and even Country Home caregivers as they watch someone they have lived with for months or years end their life journey. Their goal is to ease anxiety and fears so...

Part 2 of a Series: When is it Time to Call Hospice?

It is one of the most difficult decisions a family can make: deciding that it is time to call hospice to care for an ailing loved one. But it also can be one of the best decisions because it allows your loved one to be as comfortable as possible, enjoying friends and family, as their life journey comes to an end. Because it’s a difficult issue to talk about – and even harder decision to make – many families wait until the end is very close before calling hospice. These late decisions can make it harder for a hospice team to achieve its goals of controlling symptoms, such as pain and breathing difficulties, and helping with emotional closure. During my 20 years as the owner/operator of Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado, I have noticed that it is usually best to call in hospice when medical treatments or interventions no longer work or when the side effects outweigh the benefits. But not every person is the same. For example, it can be fairly easy to make that decision when a terminal illness is involved. It’s not so easy to make that decision when an ailing loved one tells you she just doesn’t feel good. In this second part of my three-part series, I pull from my experiences at Country Home Assisted Living to come up with some indicators to help you know if it is time to call hospice. They include: Frequent infections. Frequent falls caused by disorientation or loss of mobility. Repeat trips to a hospital’s emergency room. Unrelieved pain that becomes more irritating as it never...

Part 1 of a Series: What is Hospice?

There are many misconceptions about hospice, so today I am beginning a three-part series to explain hospice and help family members recognize when the time is right to call for this assistance. First, let’s define hospice and debunk the big misconception that many people have. First and foremost, hospice is not a place. Hospice is actually a specialized type of medical care the focuses on comfort during the end of life. Hospice care is usually provided at a location that the family chooses, whether it’s the family’s home, an assisted living facility where the patient already lives (like Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado) or a hospice company’s care center. To qualify for hospice, a physician must determine that a person’s life expectancy is six months or less. In most cases, previously-provided medical treatments are no longer working and may actually be prolonging the suffering. When put on hospice, individuals must stop all of the curative treatments that they had been receiving. The specialist doctors and surgeons would be out of the picture. The care moves to a team of professionals who are trained in comfort care, pain relief and psychosocial support. That team could include physicians, registered nurses, hospice aides, social workers, religious representatives and others. They are there to make sure the needs of the patient — as well as the family, friends and caregivers – are met. A care plan is created with input from the family and patient to determine the frequency of visits needed by the doctor, nurse and others on the hospice team. The emotional and spiritual aspects are also addressed with...

Falls Can Take a Toll on the Elderly

Recognizing the Risk and Alleviating Dangers are First Step The risk of falls becomes greater as we age. In fact, recent statistics indicate that one in three elderly persons fall each year. And those falls are not without consequences. They account for 87 percent of all fractures in people who are at least 65 years old. These falls and fractures can lead to a downward spiral that can shorten one’s life. As the owner of an assisted living facility in Parker, Colorado, I am diligent about doing what I can to reduce the risk for my residents. Whether you have an elderly loved one living with you, in a facility like Country Home Assisted Living or a retirement community, you should realize that your loved one is probably going to be a fall risk at some point. With that realization, it is then a good time to make a concerted effort to reduce the fall risk that surrounds your loved one. Here are some good ways to get started: Keep pathways clear. Oxygen tubing and electrical cords are easy to trip on. Try to route them away from pathways. Remove obstacles and clutter that can get in the way. Keep a clear path around the bed. Remove throw rugs. Or, at the very least, fasten throw rugs to the floor with double-sided tape. Make sure your elderly loved one wears good footwear that has a tread on the bottom. Avoid shoes with heals. Gripper socks are great for the nighttime. Wipe up spills immediately. Make sure that furniture is stable and doesn’t tilt when leaned upon. If you have...

Not All Assisted Living Facilities Accept Medicaid

Not all assisted living facilities are created equal – especially when it comes to getting help from Medicaid to pay for assisted living services. In fact, not every assisted living community accepts Medicaid.  That’s just one reason why it’s so important to do your research when looking for an assisted living facility for your aging parents or elderly loved ones. At Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado, we accept Medicaid. Because we do this, we are licensed by the state and are subject to periodic inspections to make sure we meet federal standards. We gladly do this because we want to provide care for those members of the elderly Colorado population who may not have a lot of money to spend on fancy facilities. That doesn’t mean the care is subpar. In fact, the care your loved ones receive at Country Home Assisted Living may actually be better because we are small and very attentive to all of our residents. We have two caregivers for our eight residents, offering a one-to-four ratio. If you are reviewing your options to pay for assisted living services, I am a good one to consult. As the owner of Country Home for 20 years, I accept both Medicaid and private pay residents. In my years of experience, I have noticed that Medicaid may not be the best funding source for every family’s assisted living needs. As I mentioned, not every assisted living facility is willing to accept the Medicaid reimbursement rates. Also, many facilities that accept Medicaid have waiting lists, so a room might not be available when you need it. All...

Music Therapy for Aging Brains

One of the senior care services in Castle Rock, CO that we offer is weekly music therapy. While this may seem like an enjoyable pastime to some, music therapy actually offers many scientific benefits for the aging brain. Humans have been using music since the earliest recorded history for its therapeutic powers – and modern use of music as therapy dates back to the first World War. So what it is about music that can help senior citizens? Here’s what you need to know. Music Engages the Entire Brain As we age, diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for all parts of the brain to be used and engaged on a regular basis. But because of the way that music engages us physically, mentally, and emotionally, listening to it and making it actually engages every part of the brain. Motor skills and movement, either from dance or playing music, mean that the motor areas of the brain are engaged. The limbic system, which controls our emotional reactions and decision making, is engaged due to the way we associate music with feeling. And finally, the auditory cortex, which is part of the rational frontal cortex of the brain, is engaged because we are hearing the music. Music Helps Relieve Pain Another way that music can help seniors is by helping to increase pain tolerance. Listening to pleasing sounds causes endorphins to be released in our brains, which gives us a physical sense of pleasure. That in turn helps to reduce feelings of pain, or at least make them more tolerable. This can help relieve stress and...

Help in Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

I said in a recent blog that you should do your homework before beginning a discussion about assisted living with your elderly loved ones. I recommended that you research the various living alternatives and facilities so that you will be able to answer questions and have a productive conversation. So this month, let’s look at the various alternatives and review questions you should ask at each facility. There are all types of facilities available these days. They range from retirement communities that take away the burden of managing a home to full-service assisted living facilities that provide caregiver assistance, medication management, food, entertainment and transportation. Some are huge apartment-type dwellings that are operated by corporations and often require you to fill out loads of paperwork or jump through hoops to make any changes in the care that is provided. Others, like Country Home Assisted Living in western Elbert County, are smaller operations with a limited number of residents that provide a home-like setting in a pleasant neighborhood. And, of course, there’s everything in between those two options. As the owner of Country Home Assisted Living for about 18 years, I would like to explain the advantages of our home in a country setting. As a smaller facility, we tend to have an attentive staff that will notice any changes in a resident’s health, mood, urinary functions, eating habits, etc., much sooner than a larger facility where nursing care is spread across many more people. At my eight-bed assisted living facility just outside Parker, I take prompt action, calling a family member or doctor, whatever is necessary, to keep our...

Country Home Enters 2018 With New Faces

New faces join us as we begin a New Year at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker. Unfortunately, we said goodbye to some real sweethearts in 2017, including June Weil, who died Oct. 30 after six years at Country Home; one of our caregivers, who provided great care to our residents for two years; and, of course, Romeo, my beloved Bichon Frise, who left us in June after giving all his love and energy to our residents for 13 years. In their place, we have added a new caregiver and one new resident, 86-year-old LaVon Parke. We hope they will enjoy the wonderful country atmosphere and friendly residents found at Country Home. And, of course, there’s Mr. Poppers, a Bichon Frise who joined us at our Elbert County assisted living facility in November. So, we look forward to the New Year and what it will bring. At the same time, we always enjoy looking back at the previous year and the activities and events that were held at Country Home Assisted Living. In 2017, we once again enjoyed the performance of Steven St. James, a professional entertainer who performed our Christmas party. Several months earlier, some amazing Halloween decorations brightened our days as we looked forward to that haunting holiday.       Spring and summer were filled with activity as we decorated Easter eggs, planted a flower victory garden, watched three loose cows roam onto our property and held an Appreciation Day.           In between all of these events, we had our normal birthday celebrations, lunch outings and art projects, including the creation of...

What Is the Difference Between Long Term Care and Assisted Living?

Keeping up with all the different types of care available to our elderly loved ones can be a challenging prospect. This is especially true if the entire scenario is one that is new for you. Some people use the terms long term care and assisted living interchangeably, but this isn’t accurate. Assisting living has many similarities to long term care, but they are two very different things. What Is Assisted Living? When a loved one is residing at an assisted living home in Castle Rock, Colorado, they will have availability of staff who can help with certain services. This might include supervising and managing medication or offering certain personal care services by skilled professionals. These facilities are built for those who need a moderate amount of care. There will be meals, transportation, and activities that the residents can partake in. This type of environment is the right choice for an older loved one who needs some assistance, but prefers to live mainly independently. What Is Long Term Care? Someone who needs full-time care and monitoring is a long term care patient. These facilities are often referred to as nursing homes and are staffed by medical professionals like social workers, nurses, aides, and dieticians. The staff at long term care facilities can provide clinical care and some specialty medical care, as well. Many patients who move into long term care will remain there until their death. Most nursing homes offer both long term care and skilled nursing, which allows them to admit patients who need specialized care. Choosing the Right Facility When choosing the right facility for a loved one...

Tips for Starting a Family Discussion About Assisted Living

As your parents age and deal with increasing medical issues, you and your siblings may want to begin a discussion about the possibility of moving to an assisted living facility. It’s not an easy discussion to start. Your parents are probably comfortable in their home and feel they don’t need the extra assistance that is provided at a retirement-type community. But as their children, you probably see things differently and want to make sure they receive good care as they continue to get older. This is especially true if all of the kids live in a different city or state. As the owner of Country Home Assisted Living in western Elbert County, near Parker, I’ve seen families struggle with how to start a conversation.  Because the subject can make children feel anxious and guilty, I’d like to offer a few tips to help. Don’t wait until you are crisis mode. If you are watching your parents’ health and abilities decline, don’t wait until they have fallen or are in dire straights to discuss a move to a retirement community. If you are not in crisis mode, everyone will be in a calmer state of mind. There also will be more time to look at options and make decisions. Do your homework. Research various living alternatives and facilities before you have the big “talk.” If you are prepared, you’ll be able to answer questions your parents might have, which will lead to a much more productive conversation. Keep communication lines open. Make sure you give every member of your family a chance to talk openly about the situation and the...

Benefits Of Opting For Senior Assisted Living Facility

Senior assisted living options in Parker, Colorado and the nearby area are vast. If you are thinking about checking out a few senior assisted living residences, you can get a clearer picture of what each facility offers, what the pricing structure is, and get an opportunity to ask questions pertinent to your situation or the situation of a loved one who is considering this option for their home. There are many benefits of senior assisted living, including the following. Living with A Degree of Independence Many who opt for assisted living don’t have the ability to live entirely without assistance. And they either don’t want to move in with loved ones or don’t have that option. Assisted living gives you your own living quarters with the ability to get assistance as and when you need it. It’s often described as a stage between independent living and a nursing home. You Don’t Need to Struggle with Things that have become Difficult Senior assisted living offers a variety of services to those who might want or need them. These services include: Medical assistance – medication administration, help with catheters, blood sugar testing, blood pressure checks, etc. Help with hygiene – As much or as little help as is needed, including showering, haircuts, trimming of nails, shaving, etc. Meals – Prepared meals, clean-up. Housekeeping – Your living quarters are maintained by regular cleanings. This also means you don’t have to worry about exterior maintenance (landscaping, shoveling snow, etc.) Help on-site for emergencies, around the clock, including slip and fall accidents or medical emergencies. Social Activities In addition to daily tasks that seniors...

Mr. Poppers and Holiday Entertainment Creative a Festive Atmosphere at Country Home Assisted Living

The holiday season will be quite festive at Country Home this year with special entertainment and the addition of a puppy named Mr. Poppers. Mr. Poppers, a 3-month-old Bichon Frise, joined us at our Elbert County assisted living facility on Nov. 6, 2017. He fills a void that was created by the death of Romeo, another Bison Frise who passed away in June after 13 wonderful years of entertaining and calming our residents.   As you may already know, pets are very helpful when it comes to improving the mood and health of people they are around. Pet interactions help the elderly, both physically and mentally, by giving them new meaning and improving their overall well-being.   We’ve been successfully using pet therapy at Country Home Assisted Living for 13 years, starting with Romeo.   Pet therapy and Romeo’s spirit stay alive with Mr. Poppers. While Country Home residents and staff came up with all sorts of cute names for the new pup, Mr. Poppers was selected because it was Romeo’s nickname. Plus, the puppy pops around like a little jumping bean.   As a member of the Flynn line, Mr. Poppers also comes with great credentials. His dad has been the #1 Bichon Frise in the country for the past three years.   But Mr. Poppers isn’t the only one who will keep residents smiling as we enter the holiday season. Professional entertainer Steven St. James will sing at our Christmas party on Dec. 4. There may also be a visit from Santa Claus and an outing to one of the Parker PACE Center’s holiday shows.   We’re...

A Home-Like Setting, Instead of a Hospital Environment

Choosing to enter an assisted living facility, or providing that option to a loved one, need not be a difficult decision. There comes a time in many people’s lives that remaining in the home is no longer possible due to medical conditions or ailments. A full-service assisted living facility near Parker, Colorado offers many benefits, and family members can rest assured that their loved one will receive the care and attention that they require. Benefits of Using an Assisted Living Facility There is no reason to feel guilty if you are seeking an assisted living facility near Parker, Colorado for an older family member. Finding the proper care for our loved ones is a reflection of our love for them, and when their health care needs become too overwhelming to be handled at home, it is often the best option. With conditions such as dementia or physical weakness that can cause falls and other injuries, a full-service facility is necessary for the well-being of the patient. Knowing that your loved one is receiving round-the-clock care and will be protected from injuries can give loved ones the peace of mind that can be elusive when worrying about an older relative living at home. In addition to the full-time medical care and attention, such facilities offer organized activities, socialization, and other mental health benefits that will help to keep their minds and spirits engaged, even if their physical health is no longer 100%. A Home-Like Setting, Instead of a Hospital Environment Maintaining the feeling of home can make a huge difference in the transition to an assisted living facility near Parker,...

Serious Memory Issues: Is it Time to See a Doctor?

Memory issues and forgetfulness are something we all face as we get older. It can be frustrating for elderly individuals as they struggle to find the right words, remember information and learn new things. Last month, we talked about the less serious forms of forgetfulness, those that are brought on by emotional and some health issues. This month, we are going to talk about the more serious types of memory issues, including dementia, Alzheimer’s and amnestic mild cognitive impairment. By looking at each of these individually, I’m hoping you can help friends or loved ones who might be dealing with serious memory issues. Let’s start with dementia, which is not actually a disease but a group of symptoms that are caused by certain diseases or conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. When someone has dementia, they have a loss in their thinking, memory and reasoning skills to the point that they can’t carry out their daily activities. According to an article about forgetfulness on BrainHealth.gov, people with dementia lose their mental abilities at different rates, but the symptoms often include: Being unable to remember things; Asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over; Becoming lost in familiar places; Being unable to follow directions; Getting confused about time, people and places; Neglecting personal safety, hygiene and nutrition. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia and is caused by changes in parts of the brain that result in the death of nerve cells. It can begin slowly with simple forgetfulness. As damage to the nerve cells spreads throughout the brain, the condition becomes worse and...