The Challenges of Caregiving - Blueprint for Aging Workshop

The 9-week workshop, A Blueprint for Aging, began last week, April 3rd.  Don't worry - you can still sign  up.  Next week's topic will be "The Challenges of Caregiving." Guest speaker, Vicki Schmall, PhD., will address the topic of caregiving.  She will discuss the challenges of caregiving, the need to discuss health changes and potential caregiving, the dilemmas of caregiving and considerations if you become a caregiver.  Dr. Schmall is a retired Gerontology Specialist with OSU Extension Service.

Come by Portland Christian Center to hear her speak on April 17th.  Click here to register:

A Blueprint for Aging Workshop 9-week series:  Tuesdays, April 3rd – May 29th
Portland Christian Center
5700 SW Dosch Road
Portland, OR 97239

We Are Here For You

This blog is personal and comes from our Facebook page (@AutumnOfLifeSeniorHousing)....

"Catherine's dad recently experienced a medical crisis. As the daughter of a hospital patient she had firsthand experience of what many of our client families go through. Often when an aging parent is unable to return to their home families must make a hurried choice on a Skilled Nursing Facility/Rehabilitation center to continue recovery. The dedicated and helpful social worker at the hospital gave her a list to choose from. Had it not been for Catherine being very familiar with these Skilled Nursing Facilities, she would have had no idea which one was the best for her dad. None on the list were acceptable to her. She knew of an outstanding rehab center at no different cost than the others. At Autumn of Life, there is no financial gain for us to advise you on a Skilled Nursing Facility, we do what we do to help families. If we can help in any way to ease your overwhelming stress during a crisis, please don't hesitate to contact us. Catherine's dad continues to grow stronger each day and she has a beautiful new assisted living apartment waiting for him when he's ready."

Autumn Of Life isn't just about helping families find a suitable housing arrangement for loved ones.  We are here for you, to help you navigate the rough roads, no matter what that might be.

Celebrating The Holidays - Part Three

The holidays are over and it's time to get back to your regular routine, but what is that? We all find that with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, once they are over, we are exhausted.  The same is true for someone with dementia.  Some days can be very confusing and frustrating and when it happens frequently within one month, it's overwhelming for everyone.  Now is the time to take a break - whether it be a true break as in travel or a break from being the caregiver.

We can help you get that much needed break, even if it's for a day or a week.  Give us a call, and we can find some relief for you, whether it be temporary or permanent.  We are here to help you and your loved enjoy a stress-free New Year!

Celebrating The Holidays - Part Two

Everyone loves the holidays, but it can be a challenge thinking of just the right gift for a loved one or family friend with dementia.  Here are a few tips put together by the Alzheimer’s Association.

A family member or friend with early stage dementia will certain appreciate any of these gifts:

  •  Tickets to a sporting event, concert or musical.
  •  A fruit basket, frozen meals or any meal that can be easily prepared/reheated and healthy.
  •  Photo albums and/or collage of family and friend’s photos.

Middle stage dementia is a little trickier.  Focus on gifts that are familiar and organized.

  •  A simple craft project that involves sorting and arranging or cutting.
  •  Books featuring celebrities, historical place and nature.  Photos are a big plus!

The late stage of dementia is complicated as their comprehension and understanding levels are poor.

  • Visits from well-behaved animals they have enjoyed.
  • Lap robes, shawls and warm footwear to keep warm as their circulation isn’t good.
  • Stuffed animals, dolls, or pillows to provide comfort.
  •  Hand and body lotion.

Finally, remember to enjoy the holidays for what they bring now.

Celebrating The Holidays - Part One

The turkey is cooked, leftovers have disappeared.  Black Friday has come and gone.  Take a deep breath before the holidays take hold! If you have a loved one with dementia, this time of year can be particularly stressful and full of anxiety for everyone.  It’s easy to lose sight of the spirit of celebration when you’re worrying about how to keep everything routine, when nothing is.  It requires planning and thinking ahead, and it’s complete possible to enjoy the holiday festivities!

At a time when parties and events are a weekly occurrence, it’s good to continue with family traditions which are familiar to your loved one with dementia. Keep it easy to reduce stress and remember that your loved one is comforted by familiarity.  You might let someone else do the hosting of a get together, so you can enjoy family and friends as well.  This will also help in keeping you and your loved one from getting over-tired.  You can leave when it’s best for you.  Get someone else to help with care of your loved one so you can enjoy the holidays too.

The holidays remind us to celebrate all we’ve done together and to find peace and love.  In Thanksgiving we found gratitude for all we have.  Christmas and Hanukkah bring families together in the spirit of giving and love. For New Year’s, we celebrate releasing the past and creating a new future.  Dementia care is true to this spirit – looking after each other in the good and tough times, and throughout it all is love!

Technology Assisting Caregivers

With more adults facing the challenging role of becoming caregivers to their loved ones, the day to day assistance can seem overwhelming.  Enter in Home Technology to help with this undertaking.  There are several programs available, and we do not support or recommend any one.  However, isn’t it nice to know that you can look after your loved one, even from afar, to be sure their health and lifestyle isn’t at risk while they live independently.

It’s as simple as a silent alarm being triggered, notifying the whole family of events that are out of the ordinary. There is activity monitoring which allows you to see your loved one’s daily activities at a quick glance or know if there is disruption to their normal routine such as trouble sleeping at night or a front door being left open accidentally.

All this wonderful new technology is here to make the time easier for you the caregiver and safer for the care receiver all the while helping your loved ones maintain their independence for as long as possible.

It's Flu Season

Hard to believe it’s fall already but along with the beautiful fall colors and crisp weather comes the necessity of keeping updated on your immunizations, especially for the elderly.  While there are always health issues we watch for as we age, the flu and pneumonia combine to rank seventh on the list of leading causes of death among our elderly (according to the Center for Disease Control).

Fortunately, there are ways to combat these preventable diseases – make sure your loved ones get their flu and pneumonia vaccines.  Not only are flu shots recommended but a few others as well.  Here’s a brief list (compiled by the CDC):

  • Shingles – not only does it appear as a painful blistering skin rash, but it can also cause additional problems, like fever, hearing loss, and vision problems.  
  • Flu - there are three different types of flu vaccinations, but the only one recommended for seniors is a specially-designed, high-dose shot. The higher dosage is said to offer the elderly more protection than the traditional flu shot, and doesn't expose an older adult to the live virus, like the nasal spray vaccine would.
  • Pneumonia – the elderly is more likely to contract pneumonia especially if they’ve been in and out of the hospital. 

Other recommended vaccines include MMR, DPT and Chickenpox.  As always, please consult with your physician to determine what is best for your family.

How Prepared is Your Assisted Living Community for an Emergency?

September 1 - 30, 2017 in the USA. September 2017 is National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Month encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. 

It is virtually impossible to predict the exact time when a disaster will occur. Those of us with basic technology skills can easily put an emergency kit together with a point and a click on an emergency kit website and our custom ordered kits are delivered to our doorstep within hours or a couple of days. When we send our children off to school we expect they will be cared for by a trained staff concerned for our young one’s safety, welfare and comfort.

However, how often do we stop to consider the same levels of preparedness for our aging loved ones in their retirement community? The next time you stop in for a visit consider asking some questions regarding emergency preparedness. Their answers may calm or concern you. Either way you’ll be able to make a plan of what role you will have in the event of an emergency and most of all what your expectations are of the community during a crisis.

Does your community have an emergency plan -- and know that it works? An assisted living home must have a disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation plan approved by the state’s licensing agency.

What are the community’s emergency evacuation plans? Does the community have arrangements with other facilities in the event the building becomes inhabitable after a fire, flood or other disaster?  When your loved one moves into a community, you'll want to know whether it has this type of arrangement, and with whom.

Do you have established protocols to maintain clear lines of communication? Find out in advance what the chain of communication is between staff and between families of residents, and know where to look for updates. Some senior living organizations have centralized offices that collect information from individual communities experiencing a disaster and post it online on the main company website, or distribute it through emails to residents' families.

Will the community will be adequately staffed, no matter what? There have been lockdowns of public transportation during weather events, terrorism threats or other crises. The staff’s ability to transport from their home to the community may be constrained by the emergency. It’s important to know if there’s a plan in place for adequate staffing during an emergency.

How does the staff address resident concerns when daily routines are disrupted?
Often when we walk by the rooms of assisted living residents, we see they are relaxing while watching their favorite TV shows. However, during a crisis seeing graphic images over and over on the TV can become overwhelming for older adults, especially for those with dementia. Inquire about what your loved one's senior living community will do to help pass the time. Will they play games, tell stories or offer other engaging activities?

Will there be enough emergency supplies? Find out how the facility stays supplied during an emergency and if staff prepare in advance. Will there be enough food and water? Are food and water supplies kept fresh? Are there extra medications for residents who will need them? Are there emergency generators and are they in working order?

As mentioned earlier in this article you can order your emergency kits from many online vendors or you can build your own by going to  Knowing what a senior living community's emergency procedures are and how to communicate during an emergency eases your worry and lets you focus on what you need to do at home. At the very least, make sure the facility has the information it will need to contact you, plus alternate ways to reach you if cell phones and telephone lines are down.