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Weighing The Options Of A Life Plan Community In Today’s Environment

In light of the current healthcare crisis facing our country…one in which senior living communities have been particularly hard hit…many people are re-thinking whether or not they should move their loved ones into independent living, assisted living or skilled nursing. While this is a thoughtful decision at any time, it is being evaluated with even more caution now. But in reality, leading Life Plan Communities like St. Catherine’s Village have measures in place to minimize health risks to their residents while providing high quality care and much needed social interaction.

Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, St. Catherine’s Village adhered to best practices for cleanliness and hygiene as well as implemented strict infection control procedures. Before the start of each flu season, for example, the award-winning community requires not only its staff be vaccinated, but also contract workers and private duty staff. This has garnered St. Catherine’s Village a place on the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) Influenza Vaccination Honor Roll—the only Life Plan Community in the Jackson, Mississippi area to receive this designation.

Earlier this year, St. Catherine’s Village put in place additional precautions to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, screening anyone who came onto campus and requiring employees to wear masks and personal protective equipment as set forth by CDC and Mississippi Department of Health guidelines. These standards would be difficult, if not impossible, for seniors to achieve in their own homes or while living with family.

For seniors who do experience signs of illness at St. Catherine’s Village, response time for care is nearly immediate thanks to nurses and security on campus who are available 24 hours a day. There is no need for lengthy travel to get tested and physician’s appointments can be scheduled quickly.

And although both residents and staff at St. Catherine’s Village currently are practicing social distancing, seniors still are able to connect on a human level to others around them. This ability to form strong bonds with their peers and the bigger community generally leads to healthier behaviors and better overall health, according to the Year 2 Report of “The Age Well Study.” The study was commissioned to understand the impact of living in a Life Plan Community on residents’ health and wellness, comparing outcomes for seniors who live in such an environment to those who don’t.

Results initially published in “The Age Well Study” showed multiple benefits for seniors who live in a Life Plan Community, which is an age-restricted property that includes multiple levels of care—independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing—on one campus. Findings from Year 1 revealed that Life Plan Community residents, on average, have relatively high levels of health and wellness compared to older adults in the community at large.

The Year 2 Report takes a closer look at how important social ties are for well-being, even though they tend to be harder to maintain with age. Prior research that suggests loneliness, social cohesion, community belonging, religiosity, and spirituality each contribute to senior health outcomes. In this study, spirituality—defined as a sense of connection with something greater than one’s self—was associated with several measures of healthy behaviors and overall health. Results also support reducing loneliness for older adults, concluding that a greater sense of social cohesion and community belonging were positively related to healthy behaviors and health outcomes. In short, careful evaluation of a senior’s social environment is a key factor in his or her health and wellness.

So, as you weigh your options for finding care for your older loved ones, don’t be misled by the negative stories you hear on the news. Do your own research. Speak to the senior living experts at a Life Plan Community such as St. Catherine’s Village and determine for yourself if the countless benefits outweigh the risks.

Learn More About St. Catherine’s Village Life Plan Community

Three Skilled Nursing Living Options Offer The Right Level Of Care No Matter The Need

When a senior is in need of 24-hour attention—either recovering from a hospital stay or requiring long-term convalescence—skilled nursing is often the only choice. These types of facilities provide round-the-clock care from licensed and registered nurses along with assistance with activities of daily living.

However, even within a skilled nursing environment, care needs can vary greatly from one person to another. That’s why St. Catherine’s Village offers three distinct skilled nursing facilities to meet the demands of a wide range of residents.

Siena Center

Voted the best nursing home in Mississippi multiple times, Siena Center provides a protected, dignified living environment and compassionate, person-centered care. Private and semiprivate rooms comfortably accommodate 120 residents.

Offering a staff-to-resident ratio that exceeds state requirements, Siena Center has a nurse practitioner on-site Monday through Friday and a medical director on-site weekly. Two in-house social workers deliver support beyond the physical to bolster emotional well-being, as well. Plus, activities coordinators plan engaging recreational, social, cultural, therapeutic, spiritual, and enriching activities on a regular basis.

Tuscany

The newest building on the St. Catherine’s Village campus, Tuscany follows the innovative household model for skilled nursing facilities. This concept promotes a more homelike and less institutionalized feel, which decreases overstimulation and allows residents to stay more easily oriented. Each household in Tuscany occupies one floor of the three-story building and serves 18 residents in private rooms with in-room showers.

In addition to state-of-the-art facilities—including high-tech lighting, a daily living center, walking path, and spacious rehabilitation gym—Tuscany also boasts beautiful artwork that graces the walls throughout to enhance the homelike ambiance.

Hughes Center

Directly connected to Campbell Cove, which offers assisted living for memory care, the Hughes Center allows residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to age in place more comfortably. A total of 24 private bedrooms with in-room showers are available for this living option, which combines person-centered care with skilled nursing services.

When a person faces advanced memory challenges, it can be extremely difficult for them to adjust to new surroundings. So rather than force them to move and disrupt their routine, they can remain in a familiar setting in the Hughes Center as their disease progresses.

 

Regardless of which skilled nursing option is chosen at St. Catherine’s Village, residents receive unsurpassed care along with so much more. A full-time in-house dietician and culinary staff provide three meals a day from an extensive food selection that combines nutrition and taste for a healthy diet. Utilities except telephone and Internet are included in monthly fees as is regular housekeeping. Wi-Fi hot spots allow for Skyping with family. Round-the-clock campus security also is provided.

At the end of the day, each resident living in one of the skilled nursing facilities at St. Catherine’s Village is encouraged to express his or her own decisions—no matter how much skilled nursing care is required.

 

How Do You Know Which Level Of Senior Care Is Best For Your Situation?

As we age, the tasks associated with maintaining your current lifestyle can become more challenging. Everything from household chores to major home repairs, from planning and preparing nutritious meals to socializing can become overwhelming if we have to face them on our own. As a result, many people choose to move to a senior living community where they can be surrounded by others and receive support when they need it. With a variety of levels of senior care available…how do you know which is best for your specific set of circumstances?

Below are the definitions of each level of senior care to help you determine the one that’s right for you or your loved one.

Independent Living

Are you able to care for yourself but are tired of spending your time doing yard work? Or maybe you no longer feel safe tackling major home repairs. Independent living offers the opportunity to live in an apartment or attached home where all maintenance is handled for you. You still have the freedom to come and go as you choose, drive your own vehicle if you are able, and live independently. But at the same time, you can participate in a range of social activities and recreational programs, and often sign up for meal plans. At St. Catherine’s Village, independent living is the first step to an all-inclusive Life Plan program.

Assisted Living

Do you rely on family or friends to assist you on a regular basis? Perhaps you are struggling with mobility and need help around the house. Or you can no longer drive so shopping and getting out are difficult. When the point comes that you require more than just an occasional helping hand, assisted living is an ideal option. In assisted living like Marian Hall at St. Catherine’s Village, you will receive support as needed with the activities of daily living…bathing, dressing, grooming, and even medication management. You will also receive three healthy meals a day. And a nurse is available 24/7.

Memory Care

Is your loved one struggling with more than age-related memory loss? Then it may be time to consider moving to a memory care community such as Campbell Cove at St. Catherine’s Village. While nothing can cure Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, getting into a structured environment early can aid in slowing the progression of memory loss and improve quality of life. The best memory care communities provide a homelike environment with common areas that allow your loved ones to enjoy their privacy yet participate in activities as they desire. To prevent wandering, outdoor areas should be secure so residents can spend time outside in a protected setting.

Advanced Memory Care

In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, joining group activities may be over-stimulating. A memory care community that focuses on small-group or one-on-one interactions may be a better alternative. In addition to person-centered programming, buildings designed for advanced memory care should also follow architectural principles that minimize obstacles. The Hughes Center at St. Catherine’s Village, for example, was created specifically for people with advanced memory loss and includes wayfinding cues and circulation paths to guide people from one place to another. In addition, small yet distinctive neighborhoods allow for individual privacy while supporting family-size gatherings.

Skilled Nursing

The senior care level that features the most hands-on personal and medical attention is skilled nursing. If your loved one requires 24-hour care and needs assistance with all or most daily activities, then skilled nursing is the right choice. A skilled nursing community will have at least one full-time registered nurse on staff along with access to a doctor 24/7. Most will also offer social activities as well as emotional support. At Siena Center at St. Catherine’s Village, residents can receive spiritual services, too. The goal with skilled nursing is to make your loved as comfortable and independent as possible.

You can narrow down which level of senior care is the best fit for you or your loved one by understanding what each level of services offers.

St. Catherine’s Village offers an all-inclusive Life Plan program that guarantee residents senior care services throughout their lifetime—from independent living to more intensive care in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.

Learn More About The Levels Of Senior Care At St. Catherine’s Village

Study Shows Life Plan Communities Enhance Seniors’ Overall Health And Well-being

 

Results published in “The Age Well Study” show multiple benefits for seniors who live in Life Plan Communities. Also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), a Life Plan Community is an age-restricted property that includes multiple levels of care—independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing—on one campus.

The recently released study was commissioned to understand the impact of living in a Life Plan Community on residents’ health and wellness. It compares outcomes for seniors who live in such an environment to those who don’t.

Gerontologists agree that both personal and environmental resources are important to aging well, saying that “it is the unique combination of personal competence and environment that determines an individual’s optimal level of function.”

Respondents in “The Age Well Study” reported that their social, intellectual, physical, and emotional wellness improved after moving to a Life Plan Community.

Residents living in a Life Plan Community have more social contact and feel less lonely.

It’s no wonder, with the variety of activities and programs these communities offer. At St. Catherine’s Village, for example, each segment—independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing—has a full calendar of activities for residents each month. These range from daily devotion for spiritual enrichment to mixers and events that encourage interaction. Residents also can participate in arts, crafts and painting classes or join clubs like the gardening club or Happy Stitchers. These activities help build camaraderie and give residents a strong sense of community belonging. Overall, research suggests that higher levels of social support and lower levels of loneliness are directly related to improved well-being.

Access to educational programs helps keep Life Plan Community residents intellectually engaged.

Keeping the mind active is just as important as keeping the body active—especially for seniors. Learning new things, attending cultural events and engaging in intellectual activities all contribute to better memory and slower cognitive decline. Residents in Life Plan Communities are more likely to participate in these activities…in part because they are readily available. St. Catherine’s Village, for instance, hosts several educational events including the Nourish Your Noggin series of workshops that present the latest research and information on brain health and aging. Residents can learn a new language by taking the beginner Spanish class. Plus, day trips to theatrical shows and concerts as well as off-campus excursions are planned.

Life Plan Community residents have better physical wellness.

Staying active, eating healthy, sleeping well, and taking care of oneself are the major influences contributing to overall physical wellness. Studies have shown that being sedentary for too long during the day can increase the risk of mortality for people as they age. And it’s easy for seniors living on their own to succumb to bad habits, especially if no one is around to encourage them to get up and get moving. At a Life Plan Community, on the other hand, there are activities for seniors of all fitness levels.  St. Catherine’s Village not only has an on-site fitness center and heated indoor pool, it also offers a variety of exercise classes to support a healthy lifestyle. These include stretching, chair yoga, low impact cardio, water aerobics, and more. Like all Life Plan Communities, St. Catherine’s Village provides nutritious dining options, too, making it easier for residents to eat well. A healthy diet rich in nutrients can help cognition and memory in seniors as well as feed the body.  When a Life Plan Community resident does experience a health issue, he or she has access to treatments and caregivers trained in senior living.

Residents in Life Plan Communities are emotionally healthier and are more optimistic and satisfied with life.

Stress is a major factor contributing to one’s attitude and overall outlook on life. Residents in Life Plan Communities reported low levels of stress—indicating they feel capable of handling challenges that come their way. Part of the reason these individuals may have low stress levels is because they are surrounded by a support system night and day. In addition to being around others in the same stage of life going through similar experiences, they have the assistance of caregivers in times of need. Most Life Plan Communities also offer classes and seminars on topics facing seniors. St. Catherine’s Village is home to a Parkinson’s support group that is open to the public as well as residents. Residents can join the choir, watch movies together, and play organized games to increase their happiness and reduce their stress.

The biggest take away from “The Age Well Study” is that Life Plan Community residents had more favorable average scores on all measures of physical, social and intellectual wellness. This may be because Life Plan Communities tend to offer environments rich in services, programs, amenities, and opportunities that support overall health and well-being.

The all-inclusive Life Care program at St. Catherine’s Village allows residents to move into an independent living apartment or home then transition to more intensive care—assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing—as the need arises. Life Care residents are guaranteed services throughout their lifetime.

Learn More About The Life Care Program At St. Catherine’s Village 

Following a couple from diagnosis to the final stages of Alzheimer’s

Watch this personal account of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts both the patient and caregiver, as seen on CBS’ 60 Minutes. It follows a couple for 10 years from diagnosis to the final stages of Alzheimer’s and how important it is to have support for caregivers.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alzheimers-disease-following-a-couple-from-diagnosis-to-the-final-stages/

final stages of alzheimers

Now Is The Time To Talk About Moving Into A CCRC

You’re all gathered together for the holidays when this conversation comes up…mom and dad are considering a move. Although mom loves the home where she raised her family, she now feels it is too big and the stairs have become a daily challenge. Dad is tired of all the yard work and thinks maintaining their existing home’s interior and exterior is too time consuming. They want to relax during their retirement years and spend their time on activities they enjoy.

In many families, broaching the subject of moving to a senior living community can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, having a discussion about a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) makes it easier. That’s because a CCRC offers a homelike environment for seniors across varying stages of dependence—starting with independent living. Many residents are as young as 62 years old.

A CCRC or all-inclusive Life Care program allows residents to move into an independent living apartment or home then transition to more intensive care—assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing—as the need arises. When a new resident enters the Life Care program at St. Catherine’s Village, for example, he or she typically pays a one-time entrance fee; however, there is a Life Care option with no entrance fee. The program then offers unlimited, all-inclusive Life Care where services are guaranteed throughout that resident’s lifetime at a predetermined rate. As a result, they know monthly expenses from day one and can plan accordingly.

So, how do you know when it’s time to move to Independent Living?

Dad no longer wants to spend time on yard work and home maintenance. Mom is tired of house cleaning and laundry. Relax. Independent living also means maintenance-free living. All outdoor living spaces and common areas are cared for. And any exterior repairs are taken care of. Depending on the level of service, linens and housekeeping also may be included in monthly fees. Independent living offers just that—independence from the hassles of home repairs, outdoor chores and so much more. 

Mom and dad don’t get out socially as frequently as they’d like. Most, if not all, CCRCs offer age-appropriate activities galore…fitness classes, group events, games, sports, hobbies, clubs, and more…all on-site. They often coordinate off-campus driving-free excursions, as well. At St. Catherine’s Village, full-time activities directors plan parties and classes to keep residents engaged.

Everyone wants to feel secure at home. Living alone can be daunting. At a CCRC, residents are surrounded by others their age and have access to helpful staff 24 hours a day. Plus, at St. Catherine’s Village, they reside in a secure environment with 24-hour on-site security, which offers peace of mind. Leaving home for a vacation is worry-free.

Most seniors don’t want to burden others. In independent living, residents are still self-sufficient and able to maintain their independence. At the same time, their families feel more comfortable knowing that their loved ones have a support system to rely on.

As you gather with family and celebrate your holiday traditions this year, be open to the opportunities that come with making a move. Don’t be afraid to talk about a CCRC or all-inclusive Life Care community…and all the benefits that come with independent living.

Five Myths About Skilled Nursing Facilities

When the time comes and you need to trust someone else to care for your loved one, nursing homes often have a negative reputation. In reality, these skilled nursing facilities offer 24-hour care and support that individuals usually cannot receive at home. When researching the best living options for your family member, consider the following facts and myths.

Skilled Nursing Facilities Are Cold And Clinical

People often assume skilled nursing facilities resemble hospitals. In most instances, that’s simply not the case. Yes, residents receive care from medical professionals and assistance with daily tasks, but rooms present a more comfortable and homelike ambiance. Common areas are designed to be warm and welcoming. Plus, individuals are encouraged to participate in planned or group activities as they prefer and their abilities allow. Social and emotional support is provided for your loved one—and you—as well.

Residents Do Not Make Their Own Decisions

While each resident may face unique challenges based on their physical and cognitive health, they are free to make their own choices. Individuals can express their will regarding dining options and engage in social and recreational events as well as cultural and spiritual activities. They also have the right to make decisions about treatment and healthcare.

Meals Are Bland And Unappetizing

Most skilled nursing facilities pride themselves on their cuisine. Yes, there are medically required dietary needs at times, but the culinary staff work hard to balance nutrition with taste and presentation. Many even offer vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, diabetic, or organic options. The trend across the country is a shift from rigid menus and stringent meal times to a more individualized approach toward food.

Residents Never Move Out

Some elder residents of skilled nursing facilities will stay for the remainder of their lives; however, others are recovering from an illness or surgery and require only a short-term stay. Once they regain their health and mobility, they can go home or—in the case of a Continuing Life Care community—move to another area of the property such as assisted living or independent living.

Skilled Nursing Is Unaffordable

Costs for skilled nursing facilities vary greatly based on location and whether a room is private or semiprivate. A resident at a Continuing Life Care community is guaranteed housing at a predetermined monthly rate. Plus, everything is included—three meals a day, snacks, utilities, cable television, and housekeeping along with medical care. With home healthcare, the individual or family continues to pay for groceries and living expenses on top of the healthcare provider’s services. So while it may seem more affordable to hire a home health aide, be sure to consider all expenses to make an accurate comparison.

It may be difficult when you realize that your family member needs round-the-clock care that you cannot provide. But when you separate fact from fiction, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing that you can find skilled nursing facilities where your loved one will receive the highest level of care and compassion.

memory care support

5 Signs That Indicate Your Loved May Need Memory Care

At first, they forget little things like where they placed their keys or someone’s birthday. That’s natural—it happens to everyone as they age. How do you know when the forgetfulness is becoming a bigger issue that may require memory care support? Other signals that something serious may be wrong include agitation, disruption in sleep, personality changes, and even delusions. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your loved one may need memory care that is beyond what you can provide.

Early Signs Of Dementia Or Alzheimer’s Disease
Are your loved one’s finances in order? Are bills going unpaid? Has he or she made unusual purchases? Has your loved one become vulnerable to scams and sweepstakes? Experts say that an early sign of dementia is the inability to understand money, debt, credit, and contracts. That’s because the disease impacts cognitive skills, problem solving and judgment.

Has her physical appearance changed? If you notice that your family member has lost weight, it may be because she has no appetite or is forgetting to eat. The opposite also can occur—she may forget that she has already eaten and then eat again. Is she no longer well groomed? Some patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s neglect their hygiene, either because they simply forget or because they are apathetic. The disease affects procedural memory, which is the ability to carry out certain routine actions such as bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, medication management, and more.

Behavioral Changes As The Disease Progresses
Does your loved one appear confused or disoriented? Does he wander off and then not know where he is? More than 60 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia wander. Since the disease destroys brain cells responsible for not only memory but also thinking and behavior, they often get lost even in a familiar setting.

Has his behavior become unpredictable? Often, a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia has mood swings and may become aggressive and suspicious for no apparent reason. These shifts in behavior may be caused by physical discomfort and the inability to express it. Or it may be a factor of the environment and being easily confused. Lack of sleep can also contribute to erratic behavior. Sunset and early evening can bring on increased memory loss, confusion, agitation, and anger. This is known as Sundowner Syndrome.

Unsafe Living Conditions
Are you concerned with your loved one’s living conditions? Household issues such as water damage can indicate repeatedly forgetting to turn off the water. Burn marks may mean he left something on the stove too long. Another indicator of a problem is too much or too little food. When shopping, he may not recall what he needs and buy more or not enough. Or perhaps his daily medications are piling up.

If you feel your loved one may be suffering from more than age-related memory loss, don’t hesitate to get help. Great advances are being made in person-centered care for those with advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s. A licensed memory care facility may be the best, and safest, option for your loved one. Click here for more information on Campbell Cove and the Hughes Center at St. Catherine’s Village.