COVID-19 UPDATE: Our Main Priority is Your Health & Safety ... Read More

4138 Gateway Lane Bethlehem, GA 30620
We're Always Home

Gateway Gardens at Winder Blog

Identifying and Addressing Common Sleep Problems in Seniors

26 October 2020

Identifying and Addressing Common Sleep Problems in Seniors in Bethlehem, GA

Today we hope to educate all our Bethlehem-area assisted living and our Bethlehem memory care community residents, family, neighbors, and friends on the subject of healthy sleep. Sleep disorders affect people of all ages, but they become more prevalent during your senior years, putting you at risk for a range of other mental and physical health issues. Today’s blog is intended to educate and provide some things to consider, but with that said, we need to make something clear. As it pertains to any and all health-related topics, your medical team is (and always should be) your final source for guidance.

While occasional sleep problems are common, insomnia or other abnormal sleep behaviors are a cause for concern. You can help combat them by identifying the root cause and implementing various natural remedies and routine changes.

Negative Impacts of Senior Sleep Disorders

It is common knowledge that a chronic lack of quality sleep can negatively affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. During sleep, the body has a chance to repair cell damage and refresh the immune system, subsequently building up your defense against disease and sickness.

For older adults, insufficient sleep puts them at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and memory problems. Additionally, you or your loved one may become more susceptible to daytime sleepiness and nighttime falls. Other more serious conditions that may result from insomnia and other sleep disorders include an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer.

In order to improve your quality of life, it’s important to get a good night’s rest on a consistent basis. If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, then consult your doctor. You, your doctor, and your family should team together to identify the underlying problem and then applying the appropriate treatment.

What Causes Insomnia in Older Adults?

In general, adults function best when they get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night. It is normal for your body’s internal clock to evolve as you age, causing you to feel sleepy earlier in the evening or to wake up earlier in the morning. Additionally, lower levels of growth hormone production lead to a decrease of slow-wave or deep sleep, resulting in less melatonin and more fragmented sleep.

However, there are a variety of more severe sleep disorders that can negatively impact your ability to feel truly rested. Insomnia, or difficult falling and staying asleep, is the most common, but seniors can also suffer from other sleep-related issues. Some of the main causes of sleep disturbances or insomnia in older adults include:

  • A decrease in physical activity
  • Simulants, such as caffeine and nicotine
  • Frequent need to urinate throughout the night
  • Pain and discomfort caused by health conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis, and nighttime heartburn
  • Depression and severe stress
  • Conditions affecting the brain and nervous system
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases, such as heart failure
  • Undergoing a traumatic experience
  • Certain medications

What Helps Seniors Sleep Better?

If you want to improve the amount and/or quality of sleep you are getting, you must treat the underlying problem. For certain root causes—such as pain, medical conditions, or your medications—you should speak to your physician about making changes to your treatment plan. They may also recommend specific solutions to your sleep disorder.

In general, however, there are several preventative measures and routine changes that may help counteract the common causes of insomnia or sleep impairment in seniors:

  • 1. Creating the Right Environment
    The sleep environment you create and your pre-bedtime rituals can affect your rest at night. Make sure the bedroom is set up to be dark, quiet and comfortable. Install blackout shades or dark curtains if need be. Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature or turn on a fan, which can also produce helpful white noise. Try to avoid watching television or being on your computer at least 30 minutes or so before bed.

  • 2. Mitigating Stress
    If you constantly feel sad, anxious, or stressed out before bed, incorporate a few habits to help you relax. For some seniors, yoga or meditation is a useful tool. It might also help to write in a journal to clear your head, or jot down notes for the next day if you are worried about forgetting an appointment or important event. If you frequently feel lonely or isolated, schedule phone conversations and virtual get-togethers with loved ones for the early evening or plan to socialize with other residents on campus. Even just reading a chapter of a book, taking a bath, or listening to a calming song can create a soothing routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep.

  • 3. Staying Active
    Getting enough physical activity throughout the day is a common challenge for seniors. If you’re not exercising on a regular basis, you may struggle either with chronic lethargy or not feeling very sleepy at night. Physical activity also improves mental and emotional health and can counteract the negative effects of certain conditions. Based on your interests and abilities, find a low-stress activity or exercise program you can do on a daily basis. Senior living communities frequently offer fitness classes and other activities to help you avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

  • 4. Getting Proper Nutrition
    The food and beverages you consume also influence your sleep patterns. Make sure you are full, but not uncomfortably stuffed, before bedtime. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the late evening, as well as foods that might cause heartburn or indigestion. Dining on campus at your assisted living community helps ensure you are consuming meals and snacks with nutritional content tailored for older adults.

  • 5. Limiting Sleep Aids and Sleeping Pills
    When it comes to treating insomnia in the elderly, you should avoid sleeping pills and other sleeping aids, unless prescribed by your doctor. They usually have numerous side effects and don’t actually address the root causes of insomnia. Additionally, they are not meant for long-term use.

How We Improve the Quality of Life of our Senior Residents

If you or your loved one struggle with sleep issues, talking with your doctor is a good place to start. Our assisted living and memory care community here in Bethlehem is designed to support our senior residents by providing a safe, secure environment where their everyday needs are met. We not only offer comfortable housing accommodations but also indoor and outdoor amenities, events, and fitness programs to keep you physically and mentally active during your senior years. We are proud to deliver professional assisted living and memory care services that measurably improve quality of life.

We welcome your call and/or visit to learn more. Contact us today!

Flu Season Preparation Guide

12 October 2020

Flu Season Preparation Guide in Bethlehem, GA

Greetings once again to all of our Bethlehem-area assisted living and our Bethlehem memory care community residents, family, neighbors, and friends. We’re entering flu season here in Bethlehem, and while most focus today is rightfully centered on COVID, you simply must address the dangers of flu season and what you need to do now!

As people around the world continue focusing on the COVID-19 crisis, the time of year when the seasonal flu begins to make its rounds is approaching. It’s important not to overlook the safety measures designed to protect us all from the influenza virus. Compared to the severity of the coronavirus, the flu may not seem as serious of a health risk. The reality, however, is that the seasonal flu can still be deadly for seniors. In fact, seniors comprise nearly 85 percent of influenza-related deaths and up to 70 percent of hospitalizations in a typical year.

The annual flu vaccine is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to prevention, but it’s not the only one. Lifestyle also plays a key role in determining who will—and who won’t—get bitten by the flu bug.

How to Guard Against the Seasonal Flu

  • Get your flu shot: Unless you have an allergy to one of the vaccine’s ingredients or you are in another risk group, follow your doctor’s orders and get your flu shot. Most physicians suggest being vaccinated in October to give your immunity time to build. Since outbreaks sometimes occur in mid-to-late-October, don’t wait to see how bad the flu season will be before getting your shot.
  • Make self-care a priority: Keeping your immune system strong and healthy also aids in preventing the flu. Consuming a well-balanced diet and exercising almost every day for at least 30 minutes can build immunity. Getting a good night’s sleep and staying hydrated is also important. Unless your physician has limited your fluid intake, the general guideline is to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

These last few recommendations are likely ones you’ve heard frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but they bear repeating:

  • Keep your distance: Physically distance from people when you are in public. When flu season is peaking, try to avoid crowds as much as possible. Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Wash frequently: Wash your hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water several times throughout the day. If you’ve been exposed to the virus, good handwashing hygiene can help protect you.
  • Avoid touching your face: Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Many of us don’t realize how many times a day we do this. If you have the virus on your hands, it can be ingested into the body if you rub your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Finally, contact your physician at the first sign of the flu. There are prescription antiviral drugs that help lessen the severity of flu symptoms and may even be able to shorten the length of time you are sick. But these medications must be taken before the flu progresses too far.

We exist to add quality of life to both you and your beloved. People turn to us daily for advice and consult. We’re here for you! Contact us today to schedule a tour!

How Important is Heart Health?

28 September 2020

Heart Health in Bethlehem, GA

Welcome back to our blog page for our Bethlehem-area assisted living and our Bethlehem memory care community. No matter what stage of care need your elderly loved one is at, you can trust that you have proven professionals right around the corner here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care to deliver genuine quality of life improvement to you both. Today, let’s visit the subject of heart health.

The heart is obviously a foundational muscle and the moment its integrity is compromised, or it starts to fail in some way, our bodies react. Just like with the brain, there are so many smart ways that we can go about keeping our hearts healthier as we age. We’re going to look at proactive heart health, why it’s important, and the best ways to keep our tickers going strong.

The Value Of Heart Health

According to the heart foundation, heart disease is the number-one killer of Americans and each year, it claims more lives than every form of cancer combined. Heart disease, including all forms of strokes and cardiovascular diseases, kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. With so many deaths annually, it’s important to note the most common reasons our hearts give out on us.

Bad Heart Habits

When it comes to the health of our hearts, some habits are better than others. According to Harvard Medical School, there are five habits that can be extremely destructive to the heart. They are:

  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Overweight
  • Poor diet
  • Excessive drinking

If any of these things apply to you, you could be doing your heart a huge disservice, but it’s never too late to make valuable changes to your health! Reach out to us to learn more about our proactively managed heart health activities!

In the meantime, check out our community’s accommodations and reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about assisted living and/or memory care services here in Bethlehem. We exist to make your life easier, your elderly loved one’s existence better, and your family’s quality of life the best it’s ever been. Contact us today to schedule a tour!

Transitioning to Assisted Living – Five Essential Tips To Consider

21 September 2020

Transitioning to Assisted Living – Five Essential Tips To Consider in Bethlehem, GA

Helping your parent or a loved one make the move to professional assisted living care here in Bethlehem or professional memory care here in Bethlehem can be overwhelming for all involved. However, there are steps you can take to make the transition as easy and comfortable as possible. The key is thinking ahead and taking a little extra time to plan. Here are five essential tips to keep in mind as you prepare.

1. Plan Ahead

Once a community is selected, it’s time to create a road map for the move itself, including what items will be stored or sold and identifying logistics and costs for moving day. Gather important personal information such as Social Security and Medicare information and legal and financial records, so that all critical information is at your fingertips. If you have time, it’s also a good idea to schedule visits to the community with your loved one in advance of the move so that their new home starts to become familiar and comfortable even before they move in. Schedule a lunch or check out the community’s daily calendar for special programs or events to help break the ice and get to know residents and staff members.

2. Communicate Thoughtfully

During all that has to be done, keep in mind that this is a big change for your parent or loved one. Approach the discussion with dignity and respect, and with the understanding that your loved one will be a primary decision maker during this transition. Read the signs and ask thoughtful questions to explore concerns or fears that may lead to a larger and more honest discussion. If your loved one is asking pointed questions, then find out what the underlying concern may be. Gently enter the discussion so that you can discover how best to provide support in a way that is comfortable for them.

3. Identify What’s Essential

Sorting through treasured items can be a serious undertaking. As you go through a lifetime of belongings, we recommend familiarizing yourself with their new accommodations. You’ll want to pack the essentials, but also look for ways to make their new space feel like home. Help your loved one identify some key items that are emotionally significant to them, like a favorite art piece, family photos, or a treasured keepsake. Carefully consider which rooms your family member regularly occupies and the items they touch most to gauge what their needs will be in their new place. For example, if they are no longer entertaining regularly in their home, then they can probably leave the china cabinet behind, but may want to bring a favorite teapot or coffee mugs for cozier encounters. Most importantly, include your loved one during each step of the process – choosing things for the new place will help them feel more at home when they arrive.

4. Make it a Family Affair

Any move can be difficult, especially if you are managing it by yourself. Gather a support team of family and friends. If someone offers to help, let them! Identify a team leader and key decision maker, then delegate tasks such as canceling utilities, scheduling movers and packing boxes. If you find yourself in a bind, don’t hesitate to talk with the staff at the community – they’ve helped lots of families in the same situation and can offer advice and support, along with helpful resources for the big move.

5. Give Them Space

Although it is important to support your loved one through this significant transition, it is equally important to give them time and space to adjust to their lifestyle change. Independent living can offer seniors more opportunities to remain self-sufficient by providing services like transportation, an on-site fitness center and salon, daily social activities and delicious dining options. Assisted living provides the added security of licensed nurses and a well-trained staff around the clock, while also helping your loved one to be more socially active by offering activities and outings that may not have been available to them at home. Here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care (Bethlehem), we ask families to provide a life story upon move-in so that we can get to know new residents and their interests more quickly and introduce them to activities and people they might enjoy. Our team can offer guidance to help you find the right balance of support and independence for your loved one at their new community.

If you have specific questions or need help in planning your loved one’s move, get in touch with a member of our highly trained staff for more information on how to prepare your loved one for their new home.

Is a Joint Bank Account Between Dependent Elderly and Family Right for You?

14 September 2020

Joint Bank Account Between Dependent Elderly and Family in Bethlehem, GA

We routinely receive finance-related questions while providing professional assisted living services here in Bethlehem and loving memory care services in Bethlehem as well. A commonly asked question pertains to whether or not establishing joint bank accounts between seniors and their family. We want to recognize “A Place For Mom” who authored great guidance on this subject that we share with you today.

So, are you considering opening a joint bank account with an aging parent? While it may seem like a convenient way to pay the bills, a joint account has drawbacks that could be financially damaging to you both. Weigh the pros and cons here before heading to the bank.

Advantages of a joint bank account

A joint bank account is an easy way to assist your aging parent with managing day-to-day finances. Having a joint checking account can help you:

  • Ensure bills are paid on time
    You can easily pay your parent’s bills with automatic payments or checks from the joint account.
  • Monitor your mom or dad’s finances
    Seniors are often targets of fraud. Regularly checking their account statements makes it easier to spot. If you’re worried your parent may be suffering cognitive decline, you can also keep track of their purchases to make sure they aren’t overspending.
  • Pay caregivers and aides
    Regular caregiving expenses, including housekeeping and home care, can be paid from the joint account.
  • Pay for emergency medical care
    If your elderly parent requires immediate payment for medical care, you can draw from the joint account.
  • Access funds after your parent dies
    With a joint checking account, you have immediate access to funds without having to go through probate. This can help with funeral expenses and hospital or hospice bills.

Risks of a joint bank account with an elderly parent

Depending on your financial situation, the decision to combine accounts could be detrimental to both you and your parent. Here are some risks to consider before opening a joint account with your elderly loved one:

  • Rights of ownership
    “The money in that joint account is now owned equally by the parent and the child,” writes Timothy L. Takacs, a certified elder law attorney in Hendersonville, Tennessee. “This means the child can take out money at any time without the parent’s consent.” In other words, the money isn’t split 50/50. Either person can withdraw the entire account without penalty.
  • Financial qualification
    The funds in the account can affect your ability to qualify for financial assistance. For example, sharing a bank account could put an elderly parent above the income threshold for Medicaid. It could also affect financial aid for prospective college students.
  • Risk of damage or debt
    Joint bank accounts are subject to liens, debt collection, divorces, and bankruptcy. This can put either party in financial danger due to the other’s circumstances.
    • If the adult child on the bank account gets divorced, their parent’s contributions can be considered part of their assets to be split in the separation.
    • If either party declares bankruptcy, the entire account is considered an asset.
    • Creditors can pursue the funds if either party owes money for medical bills, child support, etc.

Accessing an elderly parent’s bank account with siblings

Money is the main reason adult siblings fight over their parent’s care, and joint bank accounts can lead to disputes. If one sibling is a primary caregiver, or helps their aging loved one pay bills, it may seem sensible for them to take over an elderly parent’s finances or to set up a joint account.

But siblings could question how and why money is being spent, says Mike Travers, a certified financial planner in Ontario, Canada. They may accuse the joint account holder of financial abuse, especially if the funds appear to be misappropriated. “Parents need to be mindful of what they may set their children up for,” says Travers.

In families with multiple children, a joint checking account with one child has consequences regarding inheritance. “In most states, upon the parent’s death, the money in the account automatically goes to the child whose name is on the account, thereby disinheriting the other children,” writes Takacs. This is because joint accounts are usually held with rights of survivorship, which means ownership passes automatically from the deceased to their survivor.

A joint account can preclude a will in the case of your loved one’s death, no matter when the account was established. This means the child on the shared account would receive all the money in the account.

The FDIC guide to joint bank accounts provides a potential solution: “While most joint accounts are held with rights of survivorship, in rare instances joint account owners are ‘tenants in common,’ which means ownership does not necessarily pass from decedent to survivor. Instead, each co-owner can bequeath his or her share of the account to whomever he or she chooses.” With this provision, the aging parent could assign their share of the account to a separate child, ensuring it’s split evenly. Consult a financial advisor to see if this provision could apply to your family.

Alternatives to a joint bank account

If the risks of a joint bank account outweigh the benefits in your family’s circumstances, consider these alternatives:

  • Signature authority on accounts
    The IRS suggests signature authority, which allows an adult child access to their aging parent’s bank account. They can use it to pay bills and make purchases as long as they’re in the loved one’s interest. Your local bank branch can set this up easily with both signatures.
  • Power of attorney
    With power of attorney, an adult child can handle financial matters on their aging parent’s behalf. This means they can deposit social security checks, pay bills, or manage investments. With financial power of attorney, a child can also maintain or sell assets and access bank accounts. A durable financial power of attorney is recommended, since it remains in effect even if the parent is incapacitated.
  • Payable on death provision
    An aging parent can add a “payable on death” provision to bank accounts, according to Legacy Assurance. This ensures their money will bypass probate and be paid directly to beneficiaries. If they have a will, it’s important to be sure the two don’t contradict each other.
  • Revocable living trust
    Aging parents can put money for relatives into a revocable living trust (“revocable” means parents can alter the trust as long as they’re mentally competent — after that, it becomes an “irrevocable” trust), according to the American Bar Association. There are three parties involved: the creator, the co-trustee who manages assets (which could be an adult child), and the beneficiaries. This is only a viable option if the elderly parent has sufficient finances to set up a trust.
  • Direct deposit
    An adult child can open a checking account in their own name to manage their parent’s funds. Even though it won’t accrue interest, the balance can be altered with regular deposits. For instance, if a child generally spends $1,000 a month on their parent’s care, the parent’s individual savings account or trust could automatically deposit that amount on a monthly basis.

How to find an expert to help with senior finances

Every family’s financial situation is different. Consider consulting a certified financial advisor to understand how to best help your elderly parents. Visit the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to search for one by city, state, or ZIP code. Certified elder law attorneys are often also experts in financial issues related to aging. Visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys to find one in your area.

Before selecting an advisor, ask about their experience with elderly finances. Registered financial gerontologists have extra training in providing financial advice to aging adults and their families. In addition, some geriatric care managers offer financial advising or can link you with an advisor who specializes in elder-care finance.

Please know that our professional expertise is in providing assisted living and memory care services. We are not financial advisors, however, we view this as prudent guidance that helps your formulate questions and concerns that you can direct to a qualified financial consultant. As always, we stand ready to answer any and all questions you might have regarding the benefits of professional care services. Call anytime!

Making Your Doctor Visit Better

31 August 2020

We witness and understand that there are certain stresses involved in visiting the doctor and the dentist. We discovered some very practical advice provided by Dr. John Voytas, M.D., a Doctor of Geriatric Medicine. He focuses on preparation for the visit and how it can make things go so much more comfortable and effective for the patient, family, and providers alike. All of us here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care (Bethlehem) thank Dr. Voytas and the great folks at Graceful Aging for putting together this short presentation that we trust you will find useful.

Please know that we manage this blog as a free service to help all of you, like us, who provide loving assisted living and/or memory care services for a loved one. Also know that we stand ready to answer any and all questions you might have regarding the benefits of professional care services. Call anytime!

Defining Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care

24 August 2020

Defining Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care in Bethlehem, GA

Our team of professional memory care and assisted living care providers here at Gateway Gardens here in Bethlehem are there for all of you at home care providers. Much of our blog is dedicated to works designed to assist you in your selfless commitment to your senior loved ones. Unfortunately, there will come a day when solo home care or professionally assisted home care is no longer enough. For those of you who have arrived that moment, please know that your friends here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care are ready with open arms to provide the loving care necessary to deliver the quality of life that both you and your challenged loved one(s) deserve. So let’s start with the basics.

Everyone ages differently. While some age-related changes are inevitable, such as slower reflexes and vision challenges, other issues can vary greatly from person to person. Lifestyle and to a lessor degree, genetics, are key determinants in how healthy you are at every age.

This is important information to keep in mind as you search for a senior living community, whether for yourself, a spouse or aging parents. It might be that a senior is active and independent at the time of a move, but what happens when needs change?

Understanding Care Options in a Senior Living Community

Moving is tough at every age, but more so for older adults. This is why making a second move during the retirement years is something to avoid if possible. Understanding what types of care a senior community offers and what happens if care needs change over time are important issues to address before making a decision to relocate. This includes if one parent needs more or different care than another.

If you aren’t familiar with different types of senior care, this quick overview might be helpful:

  • Independent living: This type of senior living, also referred to as a retirement community, is designed for the active older adult. Because meals and home maintenance are provided, residents are free to pursue favorite pastimes. On-site activities and events are another attraction that lead many to choose independent living.
  • Assisted living: Some older adults and their families find assisted living to be the best of two worlds. Residents appreciate the independence of having their own private living space, but do so knowing that services are available 24/7. They can receive assistance with personal care, housekeeping, medication management, toileting, and more. That’s in addition to meals and wellness programs.
  • Memory care: Designed to allow adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia to enjoy their best quality of life, memory care programs are typically a part of an assisted living community. Specialized caregivers, dedicated dining services, and a safe, supportive environment are standard. Memory-focused daily activities allow residents to remain engaged.

At each community you visit, ask the staff about how they handle changes in needs after a senior becomes a resident. Are different types of care available on the same campus? Can residents move from one to another seamlessly?

When you are weighing options for yourself or your parents, choosing a community that offers multiple levels of care is something to consider. If one person develops different care needs, a couple can still remain a part of the same senior community. Even if these changes require separate living arrangements, they will still be in an environment that is familiar to them surrounded by team members they know.

Now is the time for you to seek a consult regarding how Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem can improve the quality of both you and your loved one’s lives. Call us!

Protect Your Senior Loved Ones from These Scams

17 August 2020

Protect Your Senior Loved Ones from These Scams in Bethlehem, GA

We often hear horrible stories from families concerning an elderly loved one who was short-changed or downright scammed, financially or otherwise. Our caring professionals here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care focus this blog post on the topic of con-artists and scammers of all stripes. While this blog post is geared towards the senior community, it is certainly germane and relevant to folks of all ages. It certainly applies to all of our faithful blog readers whether your providing assisted living and/or memory care support. So let’s discuss the very real risks out there.

Con Artists

Safeguarding your money, your assets and your identity from theft and fraud.

Con-artists come in different shapes and disguises, but the objective is always the same!

This clever actor charms elderly victims by phone with an affable “nice guy” approach. Deceptive and dishonest, this tele-trickster is the last person you would want to invite into your home! You’re right if you guessed… he’s a con artist!

According to the U.S. Congress, Americans lose an estimated $40 billion each year due to the unethical activities of fraudulent “salespeople.” Con artists will try to take money as well as property and other valuable assets. Sweepstakes tend to be the most prevalent of all con artist scams but they might also be disguised as home improvement deals, real estate investments, inventions, or even false charities. Knowing how to spot these scams will help you identify a con artist and may someday save you from heartache and financial disaster.

What’s the deal?

Most people are not likely to fall for a scam if it actually sounds like one, so these phony deals are usually disguised as something else:

  • Something for nothing
  • A legitimate sweepstakes
  • A free gift
  • A free gift
  • A new you (youth and/or beauty)
  • A sure cure
  • High profits at a low risk
  • A chance to make a quick buck

Watch the pitch

Most con artists use key words and phrases to make you feel important or to pressure you to act quickly. For example:

“You have been selected as one of ten finalists for our sweepstakes offer.”

“As a senior citizen, you have already been pre-approved.”

“This is not for every one, so keep it a secret.”

“Cash or credit card only, no checks.”

“You must decide now. If you hang up, you will lose this opportunity.”

Common scams and frauds

The object of any con game is to get you to part with your money. Most of these scams are initiated by people who approach you on the street or call you at home. Be suspicious of ANY plan, idea, scheme, or so-called business deal that requires you to give money – or access to your money – to a stranger. Here are some of the more common scams:

The Bank Examiner

Someone calls you claiming to be a bank examiner or police investigator who needs your help to catch a “dishonest” bank employee. He usually asks for your account number and account balance. He may tell you that the bank records show a much smaller balance and that he suspects a teller must be stealing the money. He asks you to withdraw a large sum of money from your account and give it to him so he can do an audit or check serial numbers, after which the money will be re-deposited. Of course, you never see him or your money again.

Door-To-Door Sales

Often times con artists will try to get you to subscribe to a magazine or offer a cure for a medical condition. They may also offer a free inspection of your home for problems with your furnace, hot water tank, appliance, or garage door. Whatever the con artist has to offer, simply say no and report them to your local police. More than likely they need to have a solicitor or business license of some type from your local city hall in order to conduct such door-to-door business. The con may even have an I.D. that appears to have been issued by your local government office. Check it carefully.

The Fake Lottery Ticket

Someone with a foreign accent approaches you on the street and tells you he has a winning lottery ticket, worth $100,000 or more, but he cannot cash it in because he is not a U.S. citizen. He even verifies the winning numbers by calling a number and letting you listen to a phony recording of winning lottery numbers. He offers to sell you the ticket for just a few thousand dollars. You jump at the chance to make such easy money and help someone out at the same time. Of course the lottery ticket is worthless and you have lost your money. (Someone close to me actually fell prey to a similar scheme.)

Home Improvement Scheme

A man drives up to your house in a commercial van or pickup truck, dressed in workman’s clothing. He tells you he has just finished a large roofing job (or driveway resurfacing, etc.) and has some materials left over. He tells you he will use the leftover materials to repair your roof, driveway, or other repair work, at a large discount. If you agree, he will do a quick, shoddy job with cheap material.

The Phony C.O.D. Scam

The con artist will scout a neighborhood to find an unoccupied home, then check a city directory to find out the homeowner’s name. Armed with this information, he will fill out a phony shipping label and apply it to a box of rocks or other junk. Returning to the house dressed as a delivery man, he will knock or ring the bell, properly setting the stage for his next act. Getting no answer, he will go to a neighbor, you, and ask that you accept the package and pay the C.O.D. fee.

Credit Card Fraud and Stolen Identities

These days you have to be especially diligent in safeguarding not just your credit cards, but your identity as well. It is very easy for a criminal to steal your good name and then proceed to destroy it, leaving you with a pile of debts and scores of angry creditors. Identity thieves often search through people’s garbage to find what they need to assume your identity. Even something as innocent as old discarded phone or utility bills can put you at risk. Con artists use these documents to obtain a phony ID with your name and their picture. Then, they can go all over town applying for credit cards in your name and running up big bills. Thieves also steal from mailboxes. New checks and credit cards are favorite targets. Also, if you leave bill payments out for the mailman to pick up, this mail can be stolen and your checks “washed” to remove dollar amounts and payee information. Your signature is left untouched. The crook then makes the check out to a phony name for a much higher amount and cashes it.

The Funeral Chaser

Shortly after a relative dies, someone delivers a product to your door that the deceased allegedly ordered before his or her death. You may even get a bill for an expensive item along with a request to make the final few payments. This scam artist uses newspaper obituaries to prey on bereaved families. Please understand that you are not responsible for anyone else’s purchases. If a claim is legitimate, the estate will settle the matter.

Medicare Number Theft

Since many seniors rely on their Medicare health insurance, it’s no surprise that many elder fraud scams originate from that source. Often, fraudulent medical equipment companies offer free supplies to unsuspecting seniors in return for their Medicare numbers. However, the patient’s doctor is required to order and sign for all equipment and products before Medicare will pay for them. The most important tips when it comes to spotting health insurance fraud include:

  • Never sign a blank insurance claim form
  • Never provide unchecked medical authorization for billing purposes
  • Always thoroughly review Medicare’s terms of payment
  • Never give out your Medicare number to a person you don’t trust
  • Confirm with your physician if you’re unsure of a product that’s been ordered

You do have choices

If the sweepstakes offer, deal or business opportunity sounds too good to be true, your instincts are probably correct. If you’re not interested, hang up the phone! However, if you believe an offer is legitimate, take steps to protect yourself and those close to you:

  • Be careful of all sweepstakes that attempt to lure you with words like “finalist” and “grand-prize.”
  • Don’t be swayed by a free gift or offer and make sure to always check references.
  • Take notes, including date and time of calls, callers’ names and any peculiar statements or conditions.
  • Don’t give out your credit card information unless you made the call.
  • Don’t give out checking account numbers or send money by messenger or overnight delivery.
  • Talk to someone – your lawyer, accountant or banker – before making a financial commitment.
  • Read before you sign. Do not sign anything you have not read and understood.
  • Before agreeing to buy the latest healthcare cure, call your doctor or local medical society to check out the salesman and product.
  • Save all documentation, including letters, postcards, telephone bills, canceled checks, ATM cards, credit card statements and mailing envelopes. Should you discard anything, make sure to shred it first.
  • Avoid answering machine greetings like “We’re on vacation” or “We’re not home” and if you live alone, don’t volunteer the information. An ideal recorded greeting is “We are sorry we can’t get to the phone right now…”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to provide fraud free loving and safe care for your senior loved one, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

Summer Hydration Care Advise for Seniors

3 August 2020

Summer Hydration Care Advise for Seniors in Bethlehem, GA

We appreciate the positive feedback from all of us here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care regarding the practical utility of our blog. It is now August and the increasing heat index can be deadly for the young and senior alike. The safety of our cherished residents in our top concern, and it should be for all of you at-home care givers as well. We feel a heartfelt responsibility to freely share our professional knowledge regarding professional assisted living , memory care, and respite care services. So today, we’ll talk about the uber-importance of senior hydration and leave you with some ideas of how to keep your loved one safe.

Summer provides opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. After a long winter stuck inside, a lot of people look forward to it. From picnics and barbecues to outdoor concerts and beach trips, many people spend summer largely outside. For older adults, however, summer presents unique health risks. One is dehydration. While heat and humidity can be a dehydration or heat stroke threat to people of all ages, older adults are especially vulnerable.

Sometimes the increased risk is caused by a medical condition that weakens a senior’s sense of thirst. Other older adults have problems adjusting to temperature changes. Their bodies don’t produce the sweat they need to cool down. Taking extra steps to stay hydrated during the summer is important.

How Much Liquid Do You Need During the Summer?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends adults consume 48–64 ounces of fluid each day. If you are outdoors in the heat, you should consume even more. Fluid can come in the form of fruit and vegetable juices, soup, water, and milk. While sodas and coffee are liquids, many health professionals say they shouldn’t be counted in your daily total. If they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic, they can increase the risk for dehydration.

Tips for Improving Hydration

These tips can help seniors stay hydrated:

  • Drink a few glasses of water or juice with every meal.
  • Instead of taking a few sips of water with medication, drink a full glass.
  • Make water more appealing by adding lemon, lime, berries, or sprigs of mint or rosemary.
  • Invest in several stainless steel water bottles or small thermoses to refill and reuse throughout the day.
  • Keep handy a list of water-rich fruits and vegetables to incorporate into meals and snacks. Melon, berries, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, oranges, spinach, and romaine all pump up hydration.
  • Drink a bottle or glass of water before and while you exercise.
  • Wear a hat that shields the face to keep your body temperature lower, reducing the risk for dehydration.

Our final tip is to limit consumption of alcohol on hot days or when spending time outdoors. Like caffeine, it can cause fluid loss that increases the chance for dehydration.

Warning Signs of Dehydration

It’s also important to learn warning signs that could indicate the early stages of dehydration. They include:

  • confusion
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness

If a senior you are the caregiver for is exhibiting these symptoms, call the doctor or seek treatment at an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. The older adult might need IV therapy to restore fluid levels.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to provide both loving and safe care for your senior loved one, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

An Insight into Twenty Inspirational Women Over 60

13 July 2020

An Insight into Twenty Inspirational Women Over 60 in Bethlehem, GA

Hello once again from our team of Bethlehem-area assisted living and Bethlehem-area memory care professionals. Since it is dangerously hot outside these days, you all are probably looking for things to do inside to have some fun and beat the heat. Today we thought it might be inspiring to consider our list of “Inspiration Women over 60” to introduce to you some uplifting introductions and to inspire you to research further about any of these inspirational women that you find particularly interesting.

So, here you go. Twenty inspirational women over 60:

Inspirational Women Over 60

Many of these women have been pioneers in their careers. Some are less well known, while some have made it into the history books. Some of them are no longer with us, while others continue to make incredible strides. All of them, however, inspire us to live our best lives.

1. Iris Apfel, 97

She’s been called unique, iconoclastic and a “rare bird.” The subject of a brand-new documentary entitled “Iris,” Iris Apfel has spent the last 60-odd years as a legendary designer of jewelry and clothing, as well as an interior designer who has consulted for nine presidents at the White House. At age 84, she and her designs were the subject of an exhibition at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at age 90 — just a few years ago — she inspired a line of MAC cosmetics.

2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, of course, only the second female justice in United States history, nominated in 1993 at the age of 60. She continues to serve on the Supreme Court and influence key decisions furthering the rights of women, and she has been on the Forbes list of “100 Most Powerful Women” as well as the subject of the popular Tumblr blog Notorious RBG celebrating her judicial accomplishments as well as her status as an inspirational part of women’s history.

3. Debbie Allen, 68

Debbie Allen will be a familiar face to anyone versed in the world of dance and choreography over the past several decades. Though this former Broadway star and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities is best known for her work on Fame — not only the original film but the TV series and 2009 remake — she’s also been a TV and stage producer, a judge since 2007 for So You Think You Can Dance, and founder of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy for youth in Los Angeles, California.

4. Joan Rivers, 1933-2014

This sharp-tongued icon of comedy was the first woman to host a late-night talk show on network TV, “The Late Show with Joan Rivers,” which debuted in 1986 when she was already 53 years old. In 1989, she went on to host a daytime talk show, which would run for four more years, and appeared on a number of other cable TV shows on fashion and entertainment. She wrote 12 books, received a Grammy nomination, and contributed to a number of philanthropic causes. By the time she died in 2014, she was known as one of the greatest trailblazers for female comedians.

5. Joan Ganz Cooney, 88

Joan Ganz Cooney might not be a household name, but her accomplishments have definitely reached countless households: as the founder of Children’s Television Workshop, which produced “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company,” Cooney has received numerous Emmy Awards, including the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement in 1989. She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she’s been inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame, and in recent years, her innovations in children’s programming have inspired various literacy and learning programs named in her honor.

6. Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887-1986

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the 20th century’s best-known painters, famous for her lush close-up depictions of plants and flowers as well as her images of Southwestern landscapes. The wife of pioneering photographer Alfred Stieglitz, O’Keeffe continued producing art in various media, including drawing, painting, and later, sculpture, until two years before her death at age 98.

7. Tao Porchon-Lynch, 100

Tao Porchon-Lynch has been an actress, a model, a dancer, a wine expert and she’s set a Guinness World Record for the oldest yoga instructor. Born in India, this sometime winner of the title “Best Legs in Europe” has traveled the world, meeting luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Charles de Gaulle, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She became a full-time professional yogi in 1967, and has continued to do yoga (and dance) throughout her life, releasing a yoga DVD as recently as 2013. In “The Imperfect Environmentalist” by Sara Gilbert, Porchon-Lynch was quoted as saying, “I’m going to teach yoga until I can’t breathe anymore.”

8. Dr. Ruth Westheimer, 90

Although Dr. Ruth Westheimer has long been an advocate for safe, healthy and enjoyable sex, it wasn’t until she reached her mid-50s that she became known for her frank, down-to-earth advice via her radio show: “Sexually Speaking.” Since then, she has continued to educate the public through television, magazine and newspaper columns, books, teaching college classes, and providing advice on her website — and she continues to operate a private practice in sex therapy. She has won countless awards, including Honorary President of the Council on Sexuality and Aging.

9. Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, 87

This former Apollo Theater dancer and Harlem native is not only smart and educated (she holds a master’s degree from NYU), she continues to be a fashion icon well into her 80s. She’s always had a love of fashion, and the glamour of movie stars like Marlena Dietrich and Lena Horne inspired her to create a unique style of her own. She was recently featured in the documentary Advanced Style, about older New York City women who still rock the fashion world. In a recent interview with Soul Train, she said, “I want older women to know that there is life after the ages of 50 and 60. I want them to know that you must be active — you cannot just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. They should keep active, do something they like and get involved because life is for the living.”

10. Aung San Suu Kyi, 73

Suu Kyi is Burma’s best known opposition politician, and the chair of the National League for Democracy, working tirelessly over the last 25 plus years on behalf of non-violence, peace, human rights and democratic rule in Burma, despite spending almost 15 of those years under house arrest by the existing government. She has received numerous international accolades for her efforts, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and as of 2014 was listed by Forbes as the 61st most powerful woman in the world.

11. Beatrice Wood, 1893-1998

Wood, a ceramic sculptor and sometime actress, died at the astonishing age of 105 after becoming known as the “Mama of Dada” and a compatriot of many of the key figures of modernist art. Anais Nin, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp are just a few of the avant-garde artists in her circle of friends. At the age of 90, she added “writer” to her list of artistic accomplishments, publishing her autobiography entitled: “I Shock Myself,” in 1985. Regarding her longevity, she said, “I owe it all to chocolate and young men.”

12. Alice Waters, 74

Alice Waters is the founder of one of America’s most renowned restaurants, Chez Panisse, and is credited for inspiring California cuisine as well as being the first woman to win the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in America award. After pioneering the use of fresh, organic, and local ingredients in her Berkeley, California, restaurant (founded in 1971), Waters went on to write several cookbooks, consult on school lunch reform, and train many younger chefs to celebrate healthy food ideals.

13. Annie Leibovitz, 68

This well-known entertainment photographer has taken many of the last century’s — and the current century’s — most iconic pictures of celebrities, including the famous photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in a bed, taken on the day Lennon was murdered in 1981. She’s photographed everyone from Lady Gaga to Queen Elizabeth II to Benedict Cumberbatch.

14. Bernadette Peters, 70

Another showbiz great, Bernadette Peters has starred in musicals, films, and television shows since the 1960s, and is still going strong — just one of her recent accomplishments was a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album in 2004. While my own generation might know her best as Lily St. Regis from the 1982 movie Annie, it was her role in 1974’s musical Mack and Mabel that catapulted her into the spotlight. Most recently, in addition to continuing her performances on stage and screen, she’s also begun writing children’s books, and contributes to many charitable causes.

15. Jane Goodall, 84

After 55 years of studying chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, Jane Goodall is considered to be the world’s leading chimpanzee expert. She’s been the subject of films and books for both children and adults, the recipient of dozens of awards, and in her later years, continues to be an activist on behalf of animals and the environment. Oh — and she’s even been the grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade, in 2013.

16. Katharine Graham, 1917-2001

A pioneering journalist who President George W. Bush called “the beloved first lady of Washington and American journalism,” Graham led the Washington Post newspaper to prominence during the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and the Watergate scandal in 1974. She took over the company in 1963 at the age of 46 and didn’t leave until 1993; during that time, she became the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company and to serve as director of the Associated Press. Her memoir, written in 1997, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for biography.

17. Sister Madonna, 88

It isn’t surprising to hear that someone who has earned the moniker “the Iron Nun” wouldn’t show any signs of slowing down even at age 84. Spokane nun Sister Madonna Buder competed in her first triathlon at age 52 and since then, has competed in nearly 50 Ironman events and over 325 triathlons worldwide. Just this past month, she was dubbed the Ironman All World Athlete Champion for her age group — of course, because of her age, the Ironman organization keeps having to create new age brackets for her to compete in!

18. Olga Kotelko, 1919-2014

Another star runner, Canadian athlete Olga Kotelko‘s real athletic career began after her retirement from a 30-year teaching career. A baseball player in her youth, she took up slow-pitch softball and, in her 70s, started training in track and field, eventually earning the distinction of oldest female high jumper in history. She’s broken world records and won dozens of awards. Scientists have even studied her amazing physical fitness levels, the results of which inspired the 2014 book: “What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives.”

19. Vivienne Westwood, 77

English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is perhaps most famous as the co-creator (along with Malcolm McLaren) of the punk and new wave style, including all those safety pins, spiked collars, and bike chains. She continues to design clothing for the catwalk and for notable entertainment clients including Pharrell Williams, whose iconic hat was in one of her 1980s collections. She is also an activist for a number of civil rights and environmental causes.

20. Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

A prolific, influential writer and the author of internationally recognized autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou has been known and respected as a spokesperson for women and people of color throughout her life, giving lectures and readings well into her 80s. She published poetry, essays, and an impressive seven autobiographies, the most recent of which was published in 2013. In 1993, she recited a poem at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration, and during the later 1990s and 2000s, she continued to be active by collaborating with R&B artists, creating a line of Hallmark cards, and campaigning for the Democratic party.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding how to provide both loving and safe care for your senior loved one, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

Eight Facts You Should Know about Summer and Senior Citizens

6 July 2020

Eight Facts You Should Know about Summer and Senior Citizens in Bethlehem, GA

In our continuing effort to support those of you who lovingly support your senior loved ones, our team of Bethlehem-area assisted living and Bethlehem-area memory care professionals thought it would be wise to share eight facts you should know about summer and senior care. We want all of you at-home care providers to fully understand that older adults are especially susceptible to heat-related injuries and heat stroke.

So, please consider and take heed knowing that:

  • Older adults may experience sunburn quicker because of changes in skin texture. Sunburn makes it more difficult to stay cool. Use sunblock (SPF 30 or greater) when outdoors for prolonged periods of time, even on cloudy days.

  • Asphalt and concrete can reach up to 40 degrees hotter than the air temperature, and remains hotter than the air well into the night. Avoid prolonged exposure to the city's streets and sidewalks.

  • It may be more difficult for older adults to sense elevations in temperature and for their bodies to cool down. Anticipate change by turning on air conditioning systems or other ventilators when entering a room and taking off extra layers of clothing when going outside. This is especially important for older adults with memory disorders.

  • Medications for chronic conditions can contribute to heat-related injuries Make sure you ask your physician if any of your medications might put you at increased risk.

  • Headaches, nausea and weakness are all signs of heat exhaustion. Everyone should stay hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.

  • Heat stroke can be fatal. Heat waves kill more Americans than any other type of natural disaster. Older adults should always have a family member friend, neighbor or home health aide who can check up on them regularly.

  • High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity memory disorders and psychiatric illness all increase the risk of heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. If you have a heart condition, consult your physician regarding your fluid intake.

  • Muscle cramps, dizziness, clammy skin and rapid heartbeat may be heat-related conditions. When temperatures begin to reach extreme highs, slow down, stay in the coolest place available and reduce or eliminate all strenuous activities.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to provide both loving and safe care for your senior loved one, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

Follow Father's Day with These Great Tributes that Dad Will Enjoy

22 June 2020

Follow Father’s Day with These Great Tributes that Dad Will Enjoy in Bethlehem, GA

Whether you spent Father’s Day with Dad here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care (here in Bethlehem) or not, start thinking about your next tribute to remind him of how special he is to you and your family. If life got in the way and you could not be with Dad this past weekend, it’s not too late to make next weekend something very special.

It is our pleasure to share our professional experiences and lessons learned regarding assisted living, memory care, and respite care support services. One lesson learned is that paying tribute to your aging Dad should not be a Father’s Day only affair. Look deep into your creative self and do something more from the heart than the wallet.

Here are four particularly rewarding tributes that Dads of all ages will enjoy:

1. A Handmade Family Tree

Even if you think your father isn’t nostalgic about the past, people do change as they get older. Some discover, in their senior years, a sudden passion for genealogy. Others simply want to talk about the past more often than they ever used to do.

Either way, a thoughtful gift might be a handmade family tree from you.

There are templates you can use which merely require you to fill in the names of the generations by hand. Then, you can take your finished product to a copy store and have it printed out for framing.

Choose good quality paper and you’ve created a real family heirloom.

2. Top-of-the-Line Gourmet Food

Some seniors become picky eaters as they age. What used to taste great may now be undesirable. It could be because dietary needs change as we get older. Sometimes it is the side effect of a medication.

One way to jump-start an older father or grandfather’s appetite is to offer up something irresistible.

  • Does your father love Mexican food? Have gourmet tamales shipped in from someplace where they specialize in authentic, homemade tamales.
  • Is he a cheese hound? Research the best-of-the-best cheeses and assemble an assortment from around the world.

3. A Photo Printer

Fathers these days tend to have a lot of digital pictures stored away on hard drives. Whether its pictures of grandchildren or places they’ve traveled to, the images are stored digitally and therefore viewable only on a device.

If your father is like most in his generation, he may yearn for the days when photos were printed and easily accessible in a shoebox. One thoughtful present would be to give him a photo printer.

That way, he can print out the photos he loves and have them in the format he’s used to.

4. A Digital Transformation of His Old Slides & Movies

This one is the opposite of the idea above. Seniors also tend to have lots of slides and movies tucked away, too. Just think: their child-rearing days coincided with the first home movie cameras. Going back even further, they may also have slides of their early days before you were even around.

The trouble is slide projectors and old reel-to-reel projectors have a funny way of failing after several decades of lying around in storage in a closet. That means all those great memories are locked away on outdated media formats.

There are companies who specialize in this. You give them your old slides or reel tapes. The company returns them along with a CD that contains everything in digital format.

The best part about this special gift is that you get to share it together. In fact, viewing the old memories can become a family event. One that is truly a memorable and meaningful gift that is sure to warm the hearts of everyone. Prepare for tears!

To learn more about our approach to professional assisted living, professional memory care, and/or professional respite care services, call us anytime!

How To Communicate With Your Older Parents So They Hear You

8 June 2020

How To Communicate With Your Older Parents So They Hear You in Bethlehem, GA

We hope you realize by now that we pride ourselves here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care (here in Bethlehem) for helping more than our residents and their families. We take great pride in helping you, our neighbors here in Bethlehem who lovingly provide at-home assisted living and/or memory care services to your loved ones. Trust us, we know your challenges and consider you all heroes for your selfless and loving investment to family.

An at-home care giver communicated that her mother is 81, her arthritis is painful, but she gets around with a walker. Her mind is okay for now, though she is sometimes forgetful. She feels lonely. Her care giver is worried about her safety and has been telling her for several years that she needs help. She hates the thought of her falling and not having help, There is a fantastic assisted living close by, but will she listen? No! She just stubbornly says that she’s fine so I should leave her alone.”

Well, she’s likely right that her mom would be safer if she had someone checking on her regularly. Also, depending on her mom’s personality, her mom might be happier with the easy availability of companionship that assisted living offers. Why the resistance?

Some possibilities:

  • One is that on some level her mom knows this to be true, but she doesn’t want to give up her right to make her own decisions and she feels pressured to do so.
  • Another might be that she just can’t imagine making the move because it’s too overwhelming. Change is generally a challenge for us at any age, but it becomes harder for most people as they grow older.
  • One more reason could be that she knows someone who has been forced to move to a facility and that person is unhappy.

It’s a process

We often forget that our parents are adults who have lived long, and in most cases, responsible lives. They may have been poor parents, ordinary parents, or stellar parents, but the fact that we are trying to help them at this stage implies that they most likely did raise us. While occasionally you’ll meet an elder who willingly turns over all decisions to others, most will continue to want their autonomy. They want to make the decisions that rule their lives.

So, when they need help, what do you do? You take a step back and then try a different approach.

When possible talk with your parents about all kinds of things, not just their health and impending frailty. In other words, have real conversations.

Within those conversations, you’ll likely see opportunities to discuss their ideal wishes. Even if they are already at a stage where they probably should make adjustments in how they are living, approach it by asking how they see their future. Let your parent or parents know that you want to follow their wishes if you can, and you will always do your best to care for them, but that you need information in order to do that.

What if help is needed asap?

Try this: Rather than “Mom, you aren’t safe alone and you need help,” say, “Mom, I’m wondering if you could benefit from some help around the house?”

Suggesting some housekeeping help could open the door to the idea. From there, you could move to help with showering, medications, and other daily needs.

If she says she doesn’t want people in her home (she probably will), you could bring up assisted living. Again, mention that she might be able to benefit from this arrangement.

Make it about them, not you

Why does it matter how you present the issues? My mantra is put yourself in their place.

Sometimes it’s about fear. Other times it’s simply about saving face. Whatever the reason, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone decades younger than you suddenly started telling what you needed to do to “stay safe.”

Remember, YOU want them safe. They want to live their lives. Think about where they are rather than your fear for them.

To learn more about our approach to professional assisted living, professional memory care services, or professional respite services, call us anytime!

Gateway Gardens Covid-19 Community Update

25 May 2020

For more information and/or for any concern, contact us anytime!

What's Next After a Loved One Moves to Assisted Living?

11 May 2020

What's Next After a Loved One Moves to Assisted Living in Bethlehem, GA

In the months leading up to a senior loved one’s transition to an assisted living community like ours here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem, family members are busy (often overwhelmed) juggling all of the details of the move. From helping your loved one to downsize and sell their home to figuring out a floor plan for their new suite or villa, the busy days often leave little time for much else.

Once your family elder has made the move, you may find yourself coping with a range of emotions. Guilt, worry, and sadness are common. Your role has changed in your family member’s life and that will be an adjustment. You might also be asking yourself what comes next. How can you stay connected to your loved one, while also giving them the space needed to get involved at the assisted living community?

Today we offer three simple suggestions that you we’re certain will help you with the transition.

1. Create a visitor’s calendar: After your relative is unpacked and settled, work with them to set up a schedule for visitors. Having people drop in during the first month or so following the move enables your loved one to have company on a consistent basis. Setting up a calendar can help to avoid prolonged periods of time where no one stops by. Planning visits can also give the older adult something to look forward to as they adjust to their new surroundings. Be sure to include extended family members and people your loved one is close to in these plans. Encourage visitors to ask the senior to show them around and introduce them to fellow residents and staff they’ve met.

2. Participate in resident activities: We take a holistic approach to wellness by offering residents an opportunity to participate in activities that nurture the mind, body, and spirit. There are events and activities designed to appeal to every hobby and interest. Sit down and review the current month’s calendar together. If your loved one is reluctant to take part in activities on their own, it may help to have you and other family members participate, too. At least until they’ve met some new friends and are comfortable attending alone.

3. Get to know the staff and some of our residents here at Manor Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care: When you’ve been intimately involved in an elder’s care, it can be tough to turn those tasks over to someone else after they move. You may worry if the senior will get the attention they need. It will likely give you peace of mind if you get to know your assisted living team here in Hiram. We’re here to care for you as well with a wealth of knowledge that is certain to give you peace.

Call us anytime as we're here for you!

Managing Your Loved One’s Finances

4 May 2020

Managing Your Loved One’s Finances in Bethlehem, GA

We pride ourselves here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care (here in Bethlehem) for helping more than our residents and their families. We take great pride in helping you, our neighbors here in Bethlehem who lovingly provide at-home assisted living and/or memory care services to your loved ones. Trust us, we know your challenges and consider you all heroes for your selfless and loving investment to family.

Today we give full credit to the professionals at “Caring.com” for a wonderful work regarding smart things to do regarding managing the finances of your loved one. More than four in 10 family caregivers spend $5,000 or more annually on caregiving, according to a new Caring.com survey of 2,767 family caregivers. Close to half rely on family funds to cover costs. And with nearly 40% of respondents also spending more than 30 hours per week on caregiving, caring for a loved one has become a full-time, unpaid job for many — one that leaves little time for a caregiver to plan for their own financial future.

“Quite often caregivers find themselves dipping into their own pockets to pay for caregiving expenses,” said Tim Sullivan, Vice President at Caring.com. “Without a plan in place, savings can be depleted, and retirement delayed. It’s so important to make the time to speak with your loved ones about finances, eldercare and planning for the future,” Sullivan added.

Caregivers who seek to educate themselves about their options can avoid the unnecessary stress of common financial mistakes. This guide can help you discover the tax advantages, professional services and investment strategies that can lessen caregiving-related financial strain.

Financial Questions to Ask your Aging Loved Ones

Managing your own money isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, so it’s not surprising that most people feel overwhelmed when it’s time to step in and take over the management of their parents’ finances. The first step is to accept that you won’t know what kind of shape their finances are in until you ask. Money is always a sticky topic, especially for adults who are beginning to lose their independence, so it is best to approach the discussion fully prepared to ask the right questions.

Finding answers to the following questions will put you on the path to becoming a more confident, and more capable guardian of your loved ones’ financial future.

1. “Do you have a durable power of attorney?”

The durable power of attorney (DPOA) is considered one of the most important personal legal documents for any older adult to have. Along with a healthcare proxy, it will give whomever your parent designates — whether it be you, one of your siblings or someone else — the power to make financial and legal decisions (or, in the case of a healthcare proxy, to make medical decisions) if your parent is incapacitated.

Without a durable power of attorney in place, you’ll have to go to court to get appointed as your parent’s guardian. That’s the last thing you’ll want to have to think about in a time of crisis, and it’s a notoriously complicated and messy legal process. With a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy in place, you can seamlessly make decisions and access accounts on your parent’s behalf without getting the courts involved.

2. “Have you updated your will, insurance and retirement account information recently?”

Many people never take another look at their insurance policies or investment account beneficiary designations after they sign the initial papers, but both should be reviewed every year. Beneficiary designations — of who will receive the proceeds from an account if the policy or account holder dies — can be affected by any change in family circumstance, like the birth of a new child, a death or a divorce.

A yearly financial and insurance review also provides a good moment for your parent to review his asset allocation and evaluate whether he has enough, or too much life insurance. If, for example, his children are grown and his spouse has other funds on which to live after he’s gone, your parent could think about cutting back on the amount of life insurance he carries to save money on annual premiums.

3. “Do you have plans or insurance in place to pay for long-term care if it’s needed?”

Even if your parent is in good health today, eventually, he’ll likely need some type of long-term care — and the costs are staggering. A year in a nursing home costs more than $50,000 on average, and much more in some states. Usually, neither health insurance nor Medicare cover any of these expenses, so your parent should have some type of plan in place to pay for such care should it be needed. Long-term care insurance is a good option and can be added to existing life insurance policies, possibly at a discounted rate.

Medicaid also covers some nursing home costs, but your parent should consult an elder-law attorney now to find out if he qualifies for Medicaid. If not, the attorney may advise spending down assets – literally, the process of spending money without gifting or transferring assets until your parent meets the strict income requirements necessary to qualify for Medicaid. Without a plan in place to pay for long-term care, you and your siblings will be on the hook to pick up the cost unless your parent has very deep pockets.

4. “Who’s advising you?”

Although most adults are fiercely private about their finances and want to maintain their independence, it’s important in case of an emergency that you know how to contact your parent’s attorney, financial advisor, accountant and insurance agent. At the same time, as your parent ages, you can keep an eye on whether his financial and legal advisers are scrupulous, objective and well-versed in elder financial issues, with no vested interest in selling specific products. Getting the details on exactly who is advising your parent is a good way to protect him from scams, as well as to ensure that he has funds in case of an emergency.

5. “Where is all this stuff?”

If your parent has a stroke or heart attack, the last thing you’re going to want to worry about is what his Social Security number is, what health insurance he has or whether the mortgage has been paid. That’s why it’s important to sit down with him before a crisis hits and find out what kind of bill-paying system he has in place, what insurance he has and where all his important papers are located.

Although some may balk at sharing this kind of personal information, reassure him that you don’t have to see any of his private papers now; you only need to know where they are to ensure his financial well-being in the event that he’s not able to take care of it himself.

To learn more about our approach to professional assisted living, professional memory care services, or professional respite services, call us anytime!

Recognizing and Helping Residents with Hearing Problems

20 April 2020

Recognizing and Helping Residents with Hearing Problems in Bethlehem, GA

If you ever watched a comedic sitcom or movie on television, you likely seen this common scene. An elderly person loses their hearing aid, causing them to mishear certain lines from another character. As a result, a comedic situation is played out. However, it’s only a satirization of a subject that we take very seriously here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem. Approximately 10,000 Americans become sixty-five every day, so the need for recognizing, understanding, and treating hearing loss is increasingly important.

Understanding Hearing Loss for Seniors

Due to misconceptions of hearing loss, most people don’t know the truth and facts about the subject. The reality is that we will all experience some form of hearing loss at some point of our life. It will also be in varying degrees. The reason why is because of the biological change a person experiences as they grow older. However, because of public perception, people don’t realize the facts about this ongoing health issue for seniors. Here’s what people should know about hearing loss.

  • Hearing loss is a serious concern among all seniors. After arthritis and heart disease, the loss of hearing is the most common public health issues among the elderly population.
  • The loss of hearing is considered an “invisible condition”, meaning we can only see its effects, not its physical form. Because of its invisibility, this causes seniors to experience confusion, changes in personality, and other emotional/mental issues. As a result, people tend to confuse hearing loss with dementia.
  • For most adults and seniors, the most common causes for hearing loss is exposure to amounts of noise and changes in the body (due to aging).
  • The most common noises that lead to progressive hearing loss vary. It can come from exposure due to work (like using lawn mowers, heavy machinery, etc.), exposure from civic duty (such as experiencing explosions while serving in the military), or from everyday leisure activities (like listening to loud music).
  • Other reasons for hearing losses among seniors (especially those in elderly assisted living care) can be due to improper ear cleaning. Hearing loss can be caused by earwax buildup, obstructed objects in the ear, ruptured eardrums, or other conditions in the middle/inner ear.

Aside for the medical issues that hearing loss can bring, it can also bring on several emotional problems for seniors. Due to most seniors feeling embarrassed by their conditions, they tend to resort to defensive mechanisms and deny their conditions publicly. For example, an assisted living resident here at Gateway Gardens might begin to avoid social gatherings because of their hearing loss. But our caring assisted living professionals are trained and attentive to both the tell-tale signs of diminished hearing and related behavioral changes like new tendencies to isolate themselves from others.

It’s powerfully rewarding providing loving assistance to our cherished residents. Helping residents and their families recognize the need for initial or recurring hearing treatment is an important aspect of enriching the quality of life of those we serve. To learn more about our approach to professional assisted living, professional memory care services, or professional respite services, call us anytime!

Physical and Mental Care Tips for At-Home Senior and Memory Care Loved Ones

13 April 2020

Physical and Mental Care Tips for At-Home Senior and Memory Care Loved Ones in Bethlehem, GA

Greetings all. Your caring staff here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem are fully aware that this is the third pandemic-related blog post in a row. Rest assured we’ll move on soon enough to more uplifting messaging, but we can’t turn our head to the fact that defending against this pandemic is our number one priority.

Below, we offer a number of insights for you at-home care givers, some of which most of us by now are fully aware of and implementing, other things that maybe you haven’t given thought to do. Rest assured that these are things being implemented within both our assisted living and memory care communities. Regardless whether you’re a Manor Lake resident, family member, or neither, you’re all precious members of our community and we will always do our part to help out in any way we can. So here you go:

Caring for a Senior at Home During a Pandemic

1. Frequent handwashing: One of the best ways to prevent getting sick is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water throughout the day. This guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines a 5-step process for proper handwashing.

2. Use hand sanitizer: While hot water and soap will always be the best option, hand sanitizer can help when you are out in public and don’t have access to a restroom. Choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

3. Don’t touch your face: Most people don’t realize how many times an hour they touch their face until they try not to do so. A quick rub of the eye or a scratch on the nose happens more often than you think. If you’ve been exposed to a virus and have it on your hands, touching your face can easily transfer the bug.

4. Take good care: A healthy diet combined with exercise and a good night’s sleep help keep your immune system strong. That’s vital for fighting off viruses of all kinds.

5. Limit public activity: Social distancing is another important step in protecting a senior family member from COVID-19 and other viruses. To the extent that you can, avoid going out in public while viruses are spreading. Utilize services like home delivered meals, drive-through pharmacies, and online shopping wherever possible.

6. Screen all visitors: Be vigilant about limiting who can visit your home or the home of your loved one during this time. People who are out in public may be carrying the virus and not showing any symptoms. By allowing others into your home, you are placing yourself and your loved one at risk.

7. Explore virtual physician visits: If a senior has a routine medical appointment scheduled, call the physician’s office. Many doctors are moving to virtual visits until the pandemic is under control.

Supporting a Loved One When You Can’t Be There

If your aging parent or another senior loved one resides in an assisted living community, you may not be able to visit during an outbreak of the flu or a pandemic emergency. This can be stressful for all involved. Finding ways to stay connected can help keep everyone’s spirits up.

Here are a few suggestions for doing so:

  • Use technology: Have virtual face-to-face conversations with your senior family member using a video chat platform like Skype or FaceTime. While phone calls are always nice, being able to see one another can help decrease anxiety and a sense of isolation for everyone. If your loved one doesn’t own a device or isn’t comfortable with technology, call the community to ask for help. Someone on the staff will be willing and able to aid.
  • Write letters and cards: Organize a letter-writing campaign to ensure your family member knows they aren’t forgotten. Ask friends and family members to send cards and letters as much as possible. Another nice gesture would be to call the activities staff at the community and see if there are residents who don’t have family. The staff might be able to arrange for you to be pen pals with them during this time of forced isolation.
  • Send care packages: Unless the community has restricted deliveries, take advantage of online shopping. Send the senior books, daily devotionals, journals, and even craft kits. Activities they can enjoy with fellow residents, such as games, puzzles, and movies, will also be appreciated.
  • Make family videos: Round up loved ones and ask them to email or text your family member with family videos. Make them lighthearted and fun! For example, have the kids or grandkids read jokes or perform dance moves. Anything that makes you laugh will likely make them laugh, too.

Dementia and COVID-19

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, having dementia doesn’t increase a person’s risk for contracting COVID-19. However, some behavior-related issues linked to dementia might. Also, because people with dementia are typically older, their odds of getting the virus are higher.

One risk for those who experience memory loss is that they may forget to wash their hands or refrain from touching their face. Both are known risk factors for viruses of all types.

Another complicating factor is if a senior with dementia has lost or impaired verbal skills. They may be unable to communicate that they have a headache or are experiencing chest pain, two symptoms of COVID-19.

Here are a few suggestions that may help you lower your family members risk for the illness:

  • Model good behavior: Cough into your elbow. Rinse your hands often and encourage your senior loved one to do the same.
  • Be on guard for symptoms: Watch for signs of a fever, such as sweating or a flushed face. Also, pay attention to a cough or if the senior is breathing differently or struggling for breath. Increased confusion may also be a warning sign.
  • Disinfect the environment: Wipe the senior’s environment down with bleach wipes on a frequent basis. It’s better to overreact to the situation than to underreact.

Stay Updated on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Finally, learning more about COVID-19 and staying informed about changes in the state of the pandemic is important. While it’s not necessary to watch the news stations around the clock, staying updated on new information is a method of self-protection.

Here are two resources you can turn to for novel coronavirus education and updates:

Most states and local governments also share frequent updates on the pandemic. Call your local officials to learn more.

If you or a family member is a resident of Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem, please know that we actively welcome your calls so that we can personally reassure you of the steps we are taking to keep residents and team members safe.

Seven Ways to Boost Your Loved One's Morale During the Coronavirus Epidemic

6 April 2020

Seven Ways to Boost Your Loved One's Morale During the Coronavirus Epidemic in Bethlehem, GA

Today we offer you an outstanding article written by Linda Dono, a featured writer with AARP. We believe all readers can take something away from this. To protect the most vulnerable residents against COVID-19, assisted living, memory care, and respite care communities (like ours here at Gateway Gardens here in Bethlehem) are raising the bar for casual visits — following federal and health care industry recommendations as coronavirus infections spread across the country.

So, what can you do to keep a loved one engaged and not socially isolated? Here are ideas to show you are still there in spirit and still care.

1. Send snail mail

Handwritten cards and letters are more special than ever, perhaps because electronic communication is increasingly supplanting them. Recipients can display the cards and re-read correspondence to remind themselves that you care.

2. Share a virtual meal

Plan a long-distance date. Order what your loved one likes — and pay for it — via a meal delivery service such as DoorDash or Grubhub and make sure the meal gets there at the appropriate time. Then call to talk during the meal, making sure that your resident knows how to use a speakerphone feature on her cellphone or landline phone.

3. Use other delivery services

You know the snacks your loved likes. Since you can't bring a few packages of treats during a visit, arrange for a bulk delivery.

For those in assisted living or independent living who still like to cook, you can get their grocery lists and do the shopping for them or use a shopping service such as Instacart. Deliver the food as close in as you're allowed and make sure to put the name and address or room number of the recipient on the boxes or bags.

4. Create your own FaceTime book club

If your kids are at an age where they love being read to, make sure Grandma or Grandpa has some kids’ books they can read aloud — if they don't, order some online — using the video-calling feature on their digital device.

Among the most popular video calling apps is Apple's FaceTime, but that's for iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers only. Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, IMO, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp also work on Google Android, Microsoft Windows and other devices.

Be sure to coordinate so that everybody is on the same platform. This way, grandkids of different siblings can be on the same story time call.

Older kids can make the call more like adults’ book clubs. Both grandparent and grandchild can read a couple of chapters of the same book and talk about their impressions or what they learned.

Watching the same TV show, such as a documentary on Netflix or Amazon Prime, also can help spark discussion that spans generations.

And if reading a book or watching a documentary isn't an option, perhaps because of your loved one's memory loss, help the kids in a sing-along. Singing old, familiar songs — “Happy Birthday,” classic hymns if they're religious — can bring back memories and is a skill that often remains even if speech is difficult.

5. Order a jigsaw puzzle — of your family

Mail-order companies specialize in custom puzzles from photographs or perhaps your child's artwork.

If your care recipient is a puzzle lover, you can have a puzzle delivered that contains 2,000 or more pieces. But also available are those with as few as 15 pieces, which might work well for people with dementia or less dexterity.

While you're at it, order a coffee mug with the favorite family photo, too.

6. Play a board game

Think about the games your family loved growing up, such as Clue, Monopoly, Life, Scrabble or Sorry, or if you have young kids, children's classics such as Candyland or Chutes and Ladders. Familiarity with the rules is important.

Backgammon, bingo and chess also will work if you've played those in the past and both sides know the lingo of the game. Make sure identical game boards are set up at your house and your loved one's home. You and your family then can play the game over the telephone, talking about how the dice landed and what moves your game piece is making.

A cellphone set on speaker will work well for this because games sometimes take hours. A video call also will add dimension but isn't necessary if everyone commits to narrating their actions.

7. Assemble a hobby box

This is the time to find a nice box at a craft store, perhaps decorate it and fill it with items that your loved ones can come back to again and again.

Put in items that will work with their existing hobbies or ask what they've always wanted to try. Think crossword puzzle books for those who like a brain challenge, paints and suitable paper for those who have been artistic in the craft room, squishy balls and miniature Slinkys or other toys for those with a silly streak, yarn and hooks for crocheters.

You can rest assured that maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents remains our uninterrupted number one priority. We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem anytime with questions and/or concerns.

Helping our Senior Loved One’s Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic

31 March 2020

Helping our Senior Loved One’s Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Bethlehem, GA

All of us here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem are adjusting dialing to the unprecedented challenges to providing professional assisted living and memory care services. One of the most rewarding services that we conduct is group exercise classes which of course are both disallowed and unadvised during the COVID-19 outbreak. But it is important to encourage older adults to stay active and maintain gains in strength, balance, and flexibility that reduce fall risk, strengthen the immune system, and improve quality of life.

Older adults may be concerned about their safety as they prepare to exercise within their personal space, but research has shown that the risks of solo exercise is no greater than exercising in a group setting. Use these tips and resources when communicating with older adults about the importance of staying active during this time.

  • Encourage activity! If older adults are already engaging in outbreak-appropriate physical activity, tell them to keep it up! Exercise is key to healthy aging. It’s important to keep exercising to strengthen their immune systems and maintain their fitness. The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommends engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

  • Sit Less. Move More. Use this infographic to help older adults identify ways to move more and sit less during the day. For example, get up during every commercial on TV and do an active chore or march in place. If possible, taking a walk outside is a great way to stay active and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

  • Move Your Way. If older adults are too busy for exercise, they can get stuff done and stay physically active at the same time. Physical activity isn’t a chore if you make chores physical activity! Use this infographic and video for tips on how to make everyday tasks more energetic.

  • Practice all 4 types of exercise: Remind older adults to practice all 4 types of exercise for the most benefits. Offer examples of each type of exercise for endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

  • Stay Safe during exercise: Exercising at home, with appropriate exercises and guidance, is generally safe and healthy. Offer reminders to help older adults to stay safe such as:
    • Listen to your body. Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Gauge your level of effort with the “talk test”. You should be exercising at a level that allows you to talk, but not sing.
    • Be aware of your environment. Make sure you are in reach of a counter, back of a couch, or a sturdy chair that is pushed up against a wall in case you lose your balance and need to hold on to something. It may also be helpful to put a chair/couch behind you in case you need to sit or lose your balance.
    • Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after exercising, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
    • Wear appropriate shoes and clothing. Choose shoes that are made for the type of activity you want to do and choose clothes that work with your activity and the temperature of your environment.

  • Stay Motivated! Exercise is good for almost everyone, yet it is hard to fit exercise into our daily life. These tips can help older adults overcome common barriers to exercise and get moving to improve your health.

Rest assured that maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents and staff is our number one priority. We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem anytime with questions and/or concerns.

Credit: Jennifer Tripken, EdD, ncoa.org

COVID-19 – What We are Doing About It

17 March 2020

COVID-19 – What We are Doing About It in Bethlehem, GA

Maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents is our number one priority. Due to the COVID-19 situation, effective immediately we are restricting visitors to our community. This is in cooperation with federal mandates regarding this situation. Letters regarding specific details are being sent to the responsible parties for our residents to provide them with more detailed information. In addition to restricting visits, our staff will be screened prior to the starting of their shifts and have been trained on the symptoms of COVID-19 as well as infection prevention techniques. This is a fluid situation and we will keep you informed as the situation changes.

Again, maintaining the health, wellness, and safety of our residents and staff is our number one priority. We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem today with any questions and/or concerns.

A Loss of Appetite in the Elderly

2 March 2020

A Loss of Appetite in the Elderly in Bethlehem, GA

We have a lot in common with those of you out there providing at-home assisted living services or memory care services in and around Bethlehem. For instance, the challenges related to loss of appetite within our aging loved ones is common to both professional and at-home care givers alike. We believe you’ll find this blog post both educational and actionable in addressing the loss of appetite within the loved one under your care.

A Loss of Appetite in a Parent or Senior Loved One

A loss and changes in appetite are a natural part of aging. Although poor appetite doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious health problem such as dementia in the elderly, it is still critical to make sure seniors get enough nutrients. Along with some warning signs to be mindful of, there are some easy ways you can help your senior loved ones get the right nutrition.

Although it’s normal for our appetites to change with age, several different factors can also cause a loss of appetite in the elderly:

  • Lack of energy to cook and tiredness from lack of sleep
  • Lack of interest in food due to changing taste buds, depression or loneliness
  • Loss of appetite due to health conditions and dementia symptoms
  • Depression
  • Medication side effects

“I remind my clients often that a loss of appetite (and thirst) is a normal part of aging and doesn’t always mean something is wrong,” says Heather Schwartz, RD, at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “However, minimizing the detrimental effects of poor nutrient intake is always important, no matter from where the low appetite stems.”

It is also critical to rule out any underlying health problems or symptoms. If your loved ones aren’t eating well, a good first step is always to consult a physician.

What Should I Be Concerned About?

The aging process brings with it many perceptual, physiological and other changes that can lead to decreased appetite in the elderly patient, including:

  1. A lower metabolic rate and lessened physical activity mean seniors need fewer calories.
  2. Changes to the sense of smell and taste can affect the enjoyment of food.
  3. Dental problems or gastrointestinal changes (like lactose intolerance) that go along with age can affect the appetite.

However, if your parents or senior loved ones are making poor food choices because of their changing tastes, or if they aren’t getting enough to eat, then that’s cause for concern. Seniors must get the right nutrition for their changing dietary needs. Vitamin or nutrient deficiencies can cause significant health problems for vulnerable groups, especially the elderly. Changes to taste or appetite also occur in conjunction with some serious illnesses, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia or Parkinson’s disease
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Mouth and throat infections or periodontal disease
  • Salivary gland dysfunction
  • Thyroid disorders

Any unexplained changes to your loved ones’ dietary health, including unexpected weight gain, loss or general malaise, should be checked out with a physician so you can rule out or confirm symptoms of dementia.

How Can I Stimulate an Appetite in the Elderly?

If you’re concerned about a lack of appetite in your elderly loved ones, whether dementia is a concern or not, there are a few practical things you can do to help them get enough nutrition:

Be aware of medication side effects.

If the problem is dry mouth, Schwartz says, “Chewing sugarless gum, brushing often or using an oral rinse before meals can improve taste sensation, and ultimately nutrient intake.” If meat is tasting “off” — and a common complaint is that some medications make foods taste metallic — then try other sources of protein like dairy or beans. If water doesn’t taste right, try adding herbs, or sliced fruits or veggies like lemon or cucumber.

Consider using an appetite stimulant.

Some seniors have had success with prescription appetite stimulants. A healthcare provider must be consulted to inform the patient and caregiver of the side effects of the stimulant and to also make sure it is appropriate for your loved one.

Encourage social meals.

People of all ages may experience a reduced appetite when the thought of eating alone comes to mind. For seniors, accessibility and availability of social contact can be even more of a problem, especially if they suffer from dementia. Schwartz suggests checking out the meal options at senior centers, temples or churches, and community centers. Additionally, meal “dates” with friends, family or caregivers and even meal delivery services can help.

Increase nutrient density, not portion size.

“I ask caregivers not to increase the volume of food they serve to seniors who may have low appetites,” says Schwartz. “Rather, increase the nutrient density of the foods they serve.” In other words, don’t intimidate them with a huge helping. Alternatively, add healthy extra calories in the form of avocado, olive oil or a little peanut butter.

Set a regular eating schedule.

“Our bodies tend to thrive off regularity, as do our hunger and thirst signals, so when we stray from our usual patterns, so does our appetite,” says Schwartz. She suggests starting slowly by adding a small beverage and/or snack during a normal mealtime. This can help stimulate the body’s hunger signals.

Eating to Encourage a Good Night’s Sleep

In addition to experiencing serious changes in appetite, older adults and individuals with dementia often experience changes in their sleeping patterns. Such changes may be as a result of sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.3 They may also be related to pain or discomfort. It is not uncommon for people to be uncertain when addressing their elderly loved ones’ lack of eating and sleeping. However, both adequate sleep and nutrient consumption are critical for promoting optimal health.

Not eating during the day and feeling hungry at night can make sleeping even more difficult. Such unhealthy patterns increase the frequency of night awakenings. If dementia is involved, this can be very disorienting. Alternatively, chronic fatigue can make elderly adults less likely to finish meals. Consistent sleep deprivation can contribute to feelings of depression and a lack of physical activity, which can also negatively impact the senior’s appetite.

Foods To Eat for Better Sleep

In addition to getting enough to eat throughout the day, it is important that caregivers pay special attention to what is on a senior’s plate during the hours directly preceding bedtime. Try encouraging the following items for dinner and nighttime snacks:

  • Moderate Amounts of Lean Protein: While consuming too much protein can be hard on the digestive system late at night, adding some protein to a late-night snack can help promote sleep due to high levels of tryptophan.
  • Warm Drinks: Drinking a glass of warm milk or a caffeine-free herbal tea at night can help relax seniors and boost the production of melatonin. Stay away from drinks with caffeine and avoid putting too much sugar in drinks right before bed. It’s also a good idea to finish drinking approximately 90 minutes before going to sleep to limit middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.
  • Healthy, Complex Carbs: Carbohydrates paired with tryptophan-containing protein sources can help tryptophan make it into the brain where it is converted into serotonin. However, it’s a good idea to grab whole wheat toast or sweet potatoes over white bread, cookies, or other unhealthy carbs.
  • Fruit: Some fruits such as cherries, kiwis, bananas, and pineapples contain melatonin, which can help seniors get to sleep sooner and stay that way longer.

Make sure to limit meal sizes late at night and avoid overly greasy or spicy foods. Such foods may irritate the stomach and cause difficulty falling asleep. As a result, the patient might avoid future evening meals. Also, older adults should avoid alcohol before bed since it affects normal sleeping patterns.

We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem today.

Credit: Heather Schwartz, RD

Ten Things Not to Say as a Senior Living or Memory Caregiver – And Why

24 February 2020

Ten Things Not to Say as a Senior Living or Memory Caregiver – And Why in Bethlehem, GA

As professional assisted living and memory care support providers here in Bethlehem, we know it is often times intimidating when providing care for senior living, assisted living, memory care, or respite care loved ones. Today we’re asking all of you in this loving struggle to take a moment and reflect if you might unknowingly make some simple mistakes that make it harder on both you and the loved one under your care. The keyword there is “unknowingly” and if we connect with just one of you out there and motivate some new degree of peace and happiness, well, we celebrate mission accomplished.

Today’s due credit is provided to Health Central, an award-winning non-profit dedicated to improving the mental and physical health of both the young and old.

Please realize that this list is only a start. While reading, when/if you discover “that’s me”, then consider avoiding or rewording these questions and statements may improve your caregiving partnership. Also, realize this blog post really is a call for you to take a moment to dedicate a few moments of your time to honest reflection. You can be your own best asset regarding constructive criticism, and when you are and you react accordingly, both you and your loved ones can enter a happier space. So, off we go.

1. “Do you remember?”

It seems natural to ask your dad who is living with Alzheimer’s (or simply the very natural memory recall decay associated with aging) about events from his past. However, doing so directly can be a problem. Why? Because he may not remember the event, but the expectation that he should remember could make him anxious. Instead, when you want to engage him in conversation about the past, leave the topic open. You can say, “Dad, I’d love to hear about what your favorite thing to do was when you were growing up.” He can then take you along on any adventure that comes to mind.

2. Don’t argue.

If your wife says that she used to live in a house that you’ve never heard of or seen, you can say “Really? I’d forgotten that.” Being right doesn’t matter and correcting or arguing will get you nowhere good. Go along for the ride. You might learn something interesting. If not, no harm done.

3. “You’re embarrassing me!”

A reminder for us all is that people living with dementia (or non-dementia memory decay) aren’t giving us a hard time – they are having a hard time. If you are at the store with your husband and he becomes anxious which causes him to become belligerent, soothe him by holding his arm in a comforting manner, use a calm voice and put the “blame” on yourself. Tell him that you forgot something and really need him to help you by going back home. Do not tell him that his behavior embarrasses you. He can’t help it.

4. “Why are you doing that?”

If your husband is pulling on the fringe around a couch cushion, he isn’t being purposefully destructive. People living with Alzheimer’s often have a need for tactile feedback. Additionally, they may have a compulsion for their fingers to be doing something. Some people will pick at their skin and cause sores. Others will spend hours tearing up pieces of paper or tissues. Your husband won’t know why he is doing this, but you can help him by buying him a lap pad or “fiddle pad.” These products, now widely available, provide both tactile stimulation and keep fingers busy.

5. “What shirt do you want to wear?”

People living with dementia have a hard-enough time navigating this confusing world without being asked open-ended questions. Preserve dignity by offering choices, which is a vital part of care, but simplify the choices by holding up two shirts and asking which she’d like to wear. He may mention the color of one shirt, but point at another, so go with the one he points to and say, “This one?” Then he’ll say yes or no, or else nod. You can say, “Great choice! Let’s put that on,” and then help him dress.

6. “That’s an orange, not an apple!”

It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. It’s up to you to remember that the person living with dementia may have a hard time with words. Don’t make your mom feel worse by criticizing her words. If you ask her if she’d like an orange and she says yes but digs for an apple, let it go. If she has what she wants, then everyone should be happy.

7. “You are home!”

No one approach will work every time, but what is consistent is that your loved one is looking for a feeling of safety and comfort when she asks this question. If you can distract her by asking her to snuggle on the couch under a blanket and watch a DVD, that may work. Or you may ask her if she misses home a lot. If she says yes, ask what she misses about it. Engage her in a conversation and, eventually, the anxiety that causes her to want to ‘go home’ should subside. There are many guides for dealing with this common issue.

8. “You just ate!”

People living with dementia often don’t remember if they ate so they may want to eat again. Often, keeping snack foods around can help. Instead of scolding your dad for asking to eat again when he just ate, when he wants to eat again you can suggest some treat that he likes and then offer a small amount. That snack may be enough to satisfy without arguing about the fact that he just had supper.

9. “We need to hurry!”

Your dad has an appointment to see the doctor and you’ve waited a month for this, but he is stuck in a fearful mode and becomes angry and throws things rather than getting dressed. Obviously, he is stressed and trying to hurry him won’t help. Calm yourself down first and offer support by agreeing that this is a stressful situation. Take time to sit and comfort him. If you began preparing early, this may work. If not, you may have to cancel the appointment. Sometimes you must just let it go and hope for a better day.

10. “Here, let me do that!”

Your husband who is living with dementia will become easily confused, and stress just makes the confusion worse. Trying to get a button in a buttonhole can be a massive frustration, yet he may not want help. Sometimes, you can distract him from the task at hand and later do it yourself, but when possible, have patience and let him finish. Note: When it comes to getting dressed, adaptive clothing can be helpful. An ingenious shirt with magnets instead of buttons can look dressy yet be easy to put on. With some digging, you may find shortcuts for other tasks, as well. The idea is that your patience is gold. Allow room for slowness and mistakes. None of this is worth a blowup on your part. Your anger or anxiety only accelerates his anxiety and can ruin what could be an otherwise decent day.

When interacting with a person living with any type of dementia it's generally better to use statements rather than questions unless you are offering a simple, obvious choice. Say, “It’s cold so we need jackets,” rather than “Do you think you need a jacket?” As your loved one’s disease progresses, words will become increasingly hard to process and decisions can be impossible to make. Watch for this progression and adjust your speech so that you have a slower cadence. Use short sentences but speak with a smile. Sometimes your body language can say it all.

You’ll never stop learning in your journey of loving care. If we helped you learn one thing here today, then we both win! When the time comes for you to seek a consult regarding how Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem can improve the quality of both you and your loved one’s lives, call us!

The Benefits of In-Home Care for Dementia Patients

17 February 2020

The Benefits of In-Home Care for Dementia Patients in Bethlehem, GA

Prologue: All professional memory care and assisted living care providers like us here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem understand and respect those of you who so lovingly carry the burden of care for your loved ones. Part of our community service campaign is to educate via this blog so that you can enjoy the maximum time at home with your loved ones. However, statistics show that unfortunately there will come a day when solo home care or professionally assisted home care is no longer enough. To every extent possible, we’ll be here for you via this assisted living and memory care blog, week in, and week out with insights that hopefully helps ease your loving burden. When that burden becomes too heavy to bear, know that your friends here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care are ready with open arms to provide the loving care necessary to deliver the quality of life that both you and your challenged loved one(s) deserve.

(Due credit for this blog post and its insights is provided to Ms. Carol Bursack, of agingcare.com. We think you’ll value her work and insight as much as we do.)

Family caregivers are now better able to take advantage of services offered by home care companies. I certainly took advantage of these services throughout my time caring for multiple seniors, including my parents and an elderly neighbor.

The biggest challenge I faced, though, was when I hired professional caregivers for loved ones who had dementia. The caregivers were not always sure how to handle unusual behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s or the tricky situations they created. Thankfully, due to increased awareness of the unique challenges that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia present, reputable home care companies across the country are providing their employees with proper training in dementia care. Experienced and informed caregivers can provide benefits to both seniors and their family members that make in-home care well worth considering.

Dementia Care in a Familiar Environment

The biggest value that home care offers is that it allows elders to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. This option is far less disorienting for a dementia patient than a move to an assisted living facility, a memory care unit or a nursing home. Familiar environments offer a great deal of security and peace of mind for individuals with dementia. If a company’s caregivers are well versed in dementia care, in-home care can be the ideal starting point for families who need extra help with their loved ones but want to prevent or delay placement in a long-term care facility.

Dementia Patients Benefit from Routines

Just as familiar surroundings are safe and soothing, the same can be said for daily routines. Maintaining a schedule like the one a senior followed pre-dementia can help reduce anxiety and confusion. For example, an elder who watched the nightly news after dinner each evening for years may feel a sense of normalcy when it’s switched on, even if they don’t completely understand what they are seeing and hearing.

A fundamental aspect of home care is that services are provided for all clients (with and without dementia) according to personalized scheduling tools called care plans. This organizational technique easily translates into a set routine for dementia patients who thrive on familiarity and repetition. Professional caregivers are trained to facilitate daily activities, including chores and personal care tasks, at the appropriate times and provide assistance as needed. Humans are creatures of habit and preserving these very personal and deeply ingrained routines can help elders retain a sense of control and understanding of what is going on around them.

Specialized Training in Dementia Care

Home care companies aid with activities of daily living (ADLs), companionship and many other core services. In addition, many companies offer professional training in dementia care for their employees. Common aspects of this training include methods for staying engaged with the senior, managing often unpredictable behaviors through validation and redirection, communicating effectively, and breaking down activities into smaller steps that are easier to manage. There are several training programs and schools of thought when it comes to dementia care, so be sure to inquire about the particular education a home care company provides to or requires of its caregivers.

Safety training is also part of professional caregivers’ initial and ongoing education, since seniors with dementia may be prone to wandering and other risky behaviors. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 90 percent of community-residing persons with dementia had unmet safety needs, particularly for fall risk and wander risk management and home safety evaluations. Increased supervision and assistance from both informal and formal caregivers are crucial components in helping elders reduce safety risks while they continue living in their own homes.

Meaningful Activities for Dementia Patients

Knowledge of the clinical aspects of dementia allows professionals to better serve their clients and enrich their lives with social interactions and activities. Perceptive caregivers can provide a positive environment for dementia patients by learning about a senior’s interests before they developed the disease and adapting the way they engage in these meaningful hobbies both in the home and in the community. For example, if golf is something an elder enjoyed, they may visit a golf course for a walk or to watch others play the game.

Sensory stimulation is another crucial component of dementia care, especially in the later stages of cognitive impairment. Studies show that participating in music therapy, dance or other creative outlets has a positive effect on mental health, physical health and social functioning in older adults. An experienced caregiver will work to engage clients in activities even as their interests and abilities change.

Care That Evolves with the Client

In-home care can be customized to provide as much or as little assistance as a family requires, and changes can be made as often as necessary. Services can be unskilled (companion care and homemaker services) or skilled (personal care and nursing care) in nature and can be provided occasionally for respite, on an around-the-clock basis or anywhere in between. This flexibility is a significant advantage for caregivers and seniors who are dealing with progressive diseases such as dementia. As a loved one’s condition declines, professional caregivers offer the adaptability necessary in caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

When Home Care Is No Longer Enough

In-home services can help dementia patients delay the move to long-term care, but their growing needs will eventually necessitate higher levels of care and around-the-clock supervision. Without a robust team of informal caregivers to share the burden, it becomes necessary to look elsewhere for assistance. While it is possible to receive these services in the home, the cost of 24/7 home care is often too much for the average family to pay for privately over the long term.

The time for thinking about a move to assisted living, a memory care unit or a nursing home is different for everyone. The decision depends on whether family members and hired caregivers can continue to cope with changes in a senior’s condition at home. A competent home care company will closely monitor their ability to provide the best care for their patients. Should a client’s needs surpass what is noted in their current care plan, the company will let the family know that additional services or a change in setting is needed.

We hope you enjoyed, are encouraged, educated, and benefit from this and all our blogging efforts. When the time comes for you to seek a consult regarding how Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem can improve the quality of both you and your loved one’s lives, call us!

Make Valentine’s Day Special for Your Assisted Living Loved One

10 February 2020

Make Valentine’s Day Special for Your Assisted Living Loved One in Bethlehem, GA

Valentine’s Day reserves special space in the hearts of many of the assisted living and/or memory care loved one’s that we support. Professional assisted living caregivers such as us here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care in Bethlehem have long recognized that this Holiday can become a solemn one for many of our loved ones if the Holiday is ignored by caregivers. The reason is completely understandable when cherished Valentine’s Day memories of a deceased spouse often turn to solemn reflection.

Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion to show the special people in your life just how much you care. Whether your Valentine’s Day plans include celebrating Valentine’s Day there at home or while visiting your aging parent or loved one residing within a professional assisted living community like Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens, try out some of these ideas to celebrate the holiday:

Research a Special Valentine’s Day Memory

Search your photo archives of Valentine’s Day memories of both your loved one and their loving spouse who has passed. Your time and effort will bring joy to them and to you as well. Do this early in the day so that you both can move on to other activities that are likely to bring smiles to their face. The goal is to maximize positive moments at the expense of solemn reflection.

Spread the love

The “day of love” gives us all an excuse to spoil our loved ones and spread some cheer with a thoughtful gift. While the traditional Valentine’s Day presents of flowers and chocolates are always a hit, some other gift ideas for the senior in your life include things like cozy socks, a no-fuss houseplant, framed photographs or even a gift card to their favorite restaurant. At the end of the day, the best gift you can give your loved one is the gift of your time and presence.

Create DIY Valentines

Crafting is a fun activity that people of all ages enjoy. For senior adults, arts and crafts can be particularly helpful in improving hand-eye coordination and keeping their cognitive skills sharp. When you visit your older loved one in assisted living, bring along supplies to make handmade Valentine’s Day cards for friends, family members, and the caregivers at the assisted living community. Making a craft together is also a great way to keep grandchildren involved and ensure they have a lasting memory of the visit.

Take a trip down memory lane

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to share fond memories and stories with our older loved ones. Learning about an older family member’s life and experiences firsthand is not only a powerful way to connect, but it also helps us understand who we are and where we came from. Once again, try looking at favorite family photos and letters or listening to familiar music to spark memories and prompt meaningful conversations about the past.

Here at Gateway Gardens, we encourage you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your aging parent or loved one, whether they still live at home or within a professional assisted living community. Simply visiting your loved one and spending quality time with them is the best way to demonstrate your appreciation and make the holiday one to remember. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care!

2nd Annual Valentine's Ball 2020

5 February 2020

Come and Join us! Fun and More! Feat. Elvis, dancing, raffle, and treats for your sweets!

Valentine's Ball 2020

Addressing Paranoia Within Your Memory Care Loved One

3 February 2020

Addressing Paranoia Within Your Memory Care Loved One in Bethlehem, GA

In our continued support of you angels out there engaged in the loving sacrifice in providing senior assisted living or memory care support, today we’re going to share a fantastic discussion of one of the single most frustrating conditions that caregivers like you often deal with, your loved one’s paranoia. While most of this article deals with dementia-related paranoia, this article is very relevant to you senior living care providers as you will learn that paranoia is common within non-dementia inflicted seniors. So for all of you who provide assisted living or memory care support to loved ones in and around Bethlehem, know that you can lean on us here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Brain changes from dementia can cause hallucinations, delusions or paranoia. According to Heathman, MD, a Houston psychiatrist, “paranoia, or having false beliefs, is a common trait of later stage dementia. However, it can occur in all stages of dementia.”

What Do We Mean By Paranoia?

Sometimes our loved one living with dementia will believe something we do not. When this results in undesirable emotions such as fear, jealousy or anger, we call it paranoia. It is generally the secondary emotions we are upset by. With the term, paranoia, comes an implicit judgment and the implications that, “My reality is real, your reality and your feelings are not.”

The best thing we can do to alleviate ‘paranoia’ is to discard this judgment. Start from a place of “our realities are real and different.” For the person experiencing paranoia, their reality is as real to them as yours is to you and mine is to me. For the sake of understanding in this article, I will use the term ‘paranoia’. My hope is that after reading it you, like me, will not find a use for the word anymore.

How to Help Soothe Paranoia in Dementia

We can provide reassurance and support so those experiencing paranoia feel safe and loved. Do not fall into the trap of detailed explanations or logical arguments. Try these behavioral techniques to calm someone living with dementia, who is experiencing paranoia.

What we call paranoia in dementia feels very real for the person living with it. It is their reality. Susan London, LMSW, Director of Social Work at Shore View Nursing and Rehabilitation says that, “There is often no evidence that will convince them otherwise.” Try the following in response to your loved one:

  1. Rule out non-dementia causes of paranoia.

    Heathman stresses that, “to understand paranoia in dementia, you need to understand its cause. Paranoia can result from urinary tract infections, liver disease, systemic infections, and anxiety disorders. In many instances, treating those may put an end to the paranoia.” Rule out possible causes outside of dementia. Schedule an appointment with a physician to rule out treatable conditions.

  2. Validate their reality.

    Do not attempt to present “proof” a belief is false. Nor should you deny that the evidence is real. Both approaches could create an intense unfavorable emotional reaction from your loved one.

    Imagine I told you it is October 2nd, 2087 and you do not live in your home, it is gone. How do you feel? Is there anything I can say to convince you your reality isn’t real? No, trying to do so will only cause upset. This is the same for people living with dementia.

    “Take the example of a woman looking for her deceased husband. She is certain that he is in the house. Telling her that he died a long time ago, or showing his death certificate, will make matters worse.” says London. The best thing you can do is to honor her reality. Lying can lead to more confusion and upset.

    Acknowledge what your loved one is feeling. Then work to meet the need they are expressing. In the case above, you could start by saying, “You’re looking for your husband.” Then, try to uncover the unmet need looking for her husband is expressing. Does she need help with something her husband usually did? You could ask, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Does she miss her husband? You could say, “Tell me about your husband.” Get curious and uncover the ‘why’ behind looking for the deceased husband. Once you know the ‘why’ you can try to meet that need another way.

  3. Avoid proving them wrong.

    The best way to defuse paranoia is to acknowledge the person’s reality. From there you can explore what is needed and meet that need. Imagine telling this woman her husband is deceased. She may not acknowledge his death to be true and could be very hurt by that thought. The news could also cause her to re-experience the trauma of his loss or she may strike out in anger, accusing this person of “killing her husband.”

  4. Stay honest.

    This is a fine line to tow. You want to validate the other’s experience, but you do not want to make-up or add to their reality. In this example, imagine saying “your husband will be home later.” While at the moment this seems kind, it is not the best option. By fibbing you start a third reality. Now there is her reality, your reality and the made-up reality. This can lead to more confusion. She might wait for her husband now. Then what do you say later in the day when she expects him to be home and you have told her he would be? You will have to keep fibbing. Each one will take you further away from the unmet need ‘looking for her husband’ is expressing.

  5. Remain calm.

    “Remember that you are not to blame for what your loved one is experiencing,” says Heathman. “Although witnessing a hallucination can be scary, it’s important to stay calm. Remember that arguing ‘something is not real’ is not helpful.”

    Stay calm by:

    • Research and practice meditation techniques to develop your own skillfulness at remaining calm.
    • Taking three deep breaths before responding.
    • Having a plan in place to prevent violence or call for help. If the situation escalates, act on your plan.

  6. Be cautious before responding.

    Assess the situation before responding to the person’s delusions. Is anyone at risk of harm?

    If not, it’s often best to ignore the behavior stemming from a false belief. “As long as the behavior does not become dangerous, you might not need to intervene,” Heathman says.

    For example, your loved one is walking around repositioning the placemats on the table and refolding the napkins. You ask them what they are doing and they say “my boss is coming back soon and I need to have all of the tables in the restaurant set or I will get fired.” Refolding napkins does not harm anyone. The unmet need here may be one of purpose or they may be anxious. In both cases, offering help would meet the need and allow you to connect with them.

  7. Offer reassurance.

    What if your loved one is upset, or wants your help? Get curious about what they are upset about and see if there is anything you can do to help.

    For example, imagine your loved one is walking quickly yelling, “Help, I have to get out of here!” When you ask them what is wrong they tell you, “I am a prisoner here and I need to escape.” Ask if they would like to leave. If they say yes, go for a walk or a car ride.

    Oftentimes, upset can also be calmed through reassuring physical touch combined with reflecting their reality. For example, if your loved one says, “I’m scared, I don’t know why I am here,” you could hold their hand or rub their back. Then you could say, “You are scared and don’t know why you are here. It will be okay. I am here with you.”

  8. Shift attention.

    “In some instances, it’s possible to put an end to a delusion or for it to drastically subside if the person’s attention is shifted. You can even try turning on lights or opening blinds. Frightening hallucinations often subside in well-lit areas and if others are present,” says Heathman.

    Try talking about a favorite topic. Turn on their favorite song. Suggest you both work on a puzzle together. Try this once and if it does not work, try another technique that uses more validation. Trying this repeatedly if it is not working can lead, understandably, to even more upset. Imagine if you were trying to tell someone about something bad that was about to happen, and they kept asking you about sports. Frustrating.

  9. Ask open-ended questions.

    “Avoid being judgmental. Asking questions that are open-ended is very healing for everyone involved,” says Becky Siden, LMSW, CDWF a licensed psychotherapist in Birmingham, Michigan.

    When communicating with a loved one with dementia, Siden suggests focusing on being understanding. She says some helpful things to say or ask include:

    • How can I help you to feel safe?
    • Let’s look at this together and see how we can come up with a plan.
    • I know the feeling of being scared and I am here to help.
    • Tell me more about what this is like for you.

  10. Modify the environment.

    “It’s very important to assess the reality of the situation,” stresses Heathman. For example:

    • Glare from a window may look like snow to a person with dementia. Close the curtains to remove the glare.
    • A dark area rug may look like a gaping hole your loved one believes she will fall into. Remove the rug to remove the black hole.
    • Your mother may see a scary stranger in her reflection in the mirror. Cover the mirror with a sheet.
    • Turn on more lights to reduce shadows that could look frightening.

    One elder I worked with believed he was imprisoned and being experimented on. When I explored this further his evidence included:

    • The doors were locked with codes only some people knew
    • People took notes on his activity such as eating, bathing and going to the bathroom
    • He overheard people lying to other ‘prisoners’
    • Every time he asked to leave, the person changed the subject
    • There were cameras all over.

    He lived in a memory care facility. All of this evidence was true in both of our realities. Our conclusions are what differed. Modifying the environment to feel less clinical would have helped him to not feel he was imprisoned and experimented on.

  11. Yes, and...

    The tenants of improv and dementia can go hand-in-hand. They can be very helpful in forming meaningful interactions. The first step is ‘yes, and’. Whatever the other person says, say yes first. Acknowledge their reality. Then build on what they said to keep the connection going.

    Imagine someone says, “They are out to get me, I have to hide.” You could respond with, “You feel they are out to get you and hiding will help. Where should we hide?” From this place of co-conspirators, the conversation could continue. From here you could get more information about why they feel they need to hide. You can then change the environment or meet the unmet need another way. Using improv helps you keep the interaction going so you can learn more.

    Imagine if instead, you had responded, “No one is out to get you, just sit down it’s dinner time.” This would likely have lead to frustration and upset for both of you.

Summary – Do’s and Don’ts for Paranoia in Dementia


  • See a doctor to check for other causes of paranoia.
  • Try to avoid using the word paranoia and look for the underlying emotion.
  • Acknowledge that you know that they are seeing or experiencing something.
  • Acknowledge their feelings, fear, anger, frustration etc.
  • Search for the unmet need they are expressing.
  • Share that you are there to help.
  • Remain calm.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Modify the home environment to eliminate the source of scary objects.
  • Have a plan in place and someone to call if things become harmful to you or them.


  • Don’t be judgmental.
  • Don’t show “proof” that the paranoia is unwarranted.
  • Don’t make-up explanations you know to not be true.
  • Don’t respond with “logical” explanations.
  • Don’t deny the evidence is real.
  • Don’t say you see something which, in your reality, you don’t.

When it’s time for you to seek help from a team of proven memory care professionals in and around Bethlehem, contact us. Anytime.

Source: Homecareassistance.com

Lessons Learned from Three At-Home Memory Care Support Providers

28 January 2020

Lessons Learned from Three At-Home Memory Care Support Providers in Bethlehem, GA

Regular readers of our Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care blog know that we provide loving care to their assisted living or memory care dependent loved one. Today, we offer due credit to “BrightFocus Foundation” as the primary source for this blog post and for their genuine professionalism in funding research related to Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Today we chronicle the experiences of three caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia loved ones. They were asked what “best lessons” they could share with a friend who is new to Alzheimer’s or dementia caregiving. Below are their responses. But before reading further, all the professional assisted living and memory care staff here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens stand ready to share our experiences and lessons learned as well.

Eileen - Years of Grieving. Then Respite. Then Clarity.

Eileen’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. Their adult children and young grandchildren live out of state. While the children are very supportive from a distance, the daily caregiving role is all on Eileen. Through these four years, she has continued to work full time, at a job she loves.

Her husband remains mostly lucid, but increasingly there have been frustrating and scary moments, threatening behavior, and showering and bathing battles. With these episodes, and with her children’s encouragement, Eileen identified a memory care facility in her area, and reluctantly moved him there. The facility instructed her to not visit for two weeks so that he could acclimate. At the end of the two weeks, she went to see him. He was so mad at her, at first, he couldn’t even speak. But that lasted only briefly.

Marie - A Newer Caregiver Learning to Accept

Marie is newer to being an Alzheimer’s caregiver as her father was diagnosed with mid-stage Alzheimer’s just within the last year. He and Marie’s mother live with Marie, her husband and their school-age daughter. Marie and her husband both work fulltime – her workday starts at 6 am, his at 2 pm and Marie’s mother works part time. These schedules allow one of them to always be with her father, which became necessary following his recent wandering incident.

Through tears, Marie expressed her overwhelming feelings of guilt - guilt for being angry with him for having this disease, guilt for being angry that his behavior makes their life more difficult, and guilt when she wishes things were the way they used to be. She has taken classes to better understand the disease, and says she sometimes reads online caregiver comments, identifying with the guilty feelings people express. So far though, she has not been able to resolve these feelings of guilt. She remains frustrated, angry and tired, and feels bad about not yet being able to accept things as they are. She was not sure she had a “lesson” to offer. I reminded her that guilt is normal, and by doing what she is doing—taking classes and reading the online forums, she is doing all she can right now to accept it.

Edgar - Protecting His Wife

Edgar has been his wife’s primary caregiver for ten years. She has dementia, and when I asked him his best lesson as a caregiver, he was not sure he had one. “I am still learning,” he said, adding “I don’t know if I have adapted.” Then, he told me the story of his wife’s fall several years ago. She broke her femur, and then a few weeks later, fell again, and was hospitalized with three broken vertebrae. She had tremendous sciatica pain. She was prescribed pain medication that changed her behavior. From the hospital she went to rehab. Her personality remained changed as a result of the opioid medication. Because of this, Edgar then learned all about the side effects of opioids, and feels strongly that before accepting the use of these drugs, patients and/or families should consult with a second physician. Also, be diligent in weaning someone from them as soon as possible and, ideally, limiting their use to no more than 7 days.

Having said that, Edgar was quick to say that he sees many situations, in his wife’s memory care facility, with different degrees of difficulty. He cannot say his approach would be the right answer for others. His primary message, though, is to send a big caution on the use of medications in this population. He has been successful in minimizing his wife’s use of any drugs, and she has remained stable for several years during the years since recovering from the falls. If she ever has the need for more medication, he will definitely question her physicians about side effects and possible alternatives.

There is Hope and There is Help for all of You

Whether you provide your loved one assisted living support or memory care services, no matter where you are in the caregiving journey, as these stories show, there are struggles and lessons. But through research, we are learning more, and through education and awareness, caregivers can better manage the questions and stresses of caregiving. With more and more resources for caregivers, local community services, and education and sharing, each and every time someone shares a tip or a resource, someone else benefits. And that’s why we offer this story and manage this blog.

When it’s time for you to seek help from a team of proven memory care professionals in and around Bethlehem, contact us. Anytime.

About Long-Term Care Insurance and Professional Assisted Living Services

21 January 2020

About Long-Term Care Insurance and Professional Assisted Living Services in Bethlehem, GA

Suppose your elderly mother or father is struggling with day-to-day activities like laundry, cleaning and cooking. But he or she is not truly ill and doesn’t need a high level of daily health care. You worry about him or her walking up and down stairs or carrying a bag of groceries. An assisted community like ours here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care can serve as the perfect protective measure and path to providing them the very best quality of life possible.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living is perfect for seniors who are mostly independent, yet need help managing medications and meals. But there’s much more to Assisted Living than that. Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care’s assisted living services include housekeeping, laundry, and a host of activities that our residents love. Hot and delicious meals are served three times a day and snacks are available all day. Assisted living is a type of communal living that seniors and their families choose when they are healthy but need a bit of extra help. Assisted living is a great intermediate step on the continuum of elderly care.

Assisted living is commonly paid for by individuals’ long-term care insurance. However, long-term care insurance coverage varies widely, and you need to know the details of your policy. In general, long-term care insurance is flexible along the continuum of care. It can pay for both assisted living and memory care services. Some policies allow you to tap long-term care policies for in-home services, but most are written to cover professional services such as ours.

If you live in or around the Bethlehem area and ever have questions about the challenges of creating a 24/7 safe and loving atmosphere for your senior loved on, we’re here to help. We want to develop a relationship with you based on trust and a common love for our ageing loved ones. We trust that when the time comes, you’ll team with us for your professional senior assisted living support services. Together, we’ll provide the best loving care possible. Give us a call. Let’s talk.

Senior and Memory Care Super Foods

13 January 2020

Senior and Memory Care Super Foods in Bethlehem, GA

We want to thank in advance “Active Beat” who publishes insightful works on healthy lifestyles. They recently offered advice for senior care givers regarding nutritional health. Here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care, we gladly share the following with you today whether you’re providing senior assisted living support or any form of memory care support services to your beloved. Afterall, we’re all in this together.

If you provide senior assisted living care for a loved one, you may already include supplements in order to boost their memory and protect against age-related memory decline. If you care for an already diagnosed Alzheimer’s or related dementia condition you likely are administering physician prescribed supplements. Regardless, researchers at Yale University claim that the body doesn’t absorb nutritional supplements quite as effectively as it does natural foods.

Whether you’re preventing a family history of dementia and Alzheimer’s, or just looking to reduce risk in general, researchers recommend following the “MIND” diet which is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It touts eating a more plant-based diet with limited red meat, saturated fats and sweets, says Mayo Clinic. And when it comes to brain-boosting Alzheimer’s-fighting super foods, these 12 foods should be at the top of your shopping list.


You likely already know that berries—such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries—are considered superfoods. This is due to the fact that they deliver a boatload of antioxidants in each bite! Antioxidants have long been linked to enhance cognitive function in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. However, a study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease discovered that high-antioxidant berries were able to reduce plaque in the brain, which is thought to cause Alzheimer’s.

Chatelaine writes that blueberries in particular are among the best. “They contain flavonoids, which activate brain pathways associated with less cellular aging,” writes the source. WebMD also points out that berries have been linked to slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. We suggest eating about 1/2 cup three times a week.

Super Spices

Do you know what spices like turmeric, cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg have in common? According to the journal Central Nervous Systems Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, these spices contain certain polyphenols and compounds with numerous cognitive advantages. The journal research outlines the many gluco-recovery, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in these spices and theorizes on their Alzheimer’s prevention connection.

MindBodyGreen also explains that “these spices can all help to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues.” The foods on this list will not only help improve brain function, but fight off illnesses that cause our brains to age prematurely like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.


Natural foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids—namely nuts, flaxseeds, and certain types of fish—have long been linked to Alzheimer’s prevention. And even though much speculation can be found, more research must be conducted for undeniable scientific proof. However, research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as the European Journal of Nutrition, details how omega-3-rich foods can help decrease the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Fatty fish like salmon and trout are particularly good because the iodine and iron “help maintain cognitive function” and they contain “brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids.” You should be eating these types of fish at least two or three times a week.

Coconut Oil

I know, here we go about the coconut oil—yet again! But really, research from the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants has found evidence of coconut’s oil’s effectiveness in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Akin to olive oil, coconut oil is known for it’s rich polyphenol content. The same study credits unique phenols in coconut oil with neuro-protective abilities.

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy green vegetables are among the best foods for us. No matter what, we should all be eating these veggies. But people who are at a high risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s should definitely be loading up on these. According to findings from the Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging, increasing your consumption of leafy greens will decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia—and they’re just plain good for you!

The best leafy greens are spinach, kale, and romaine. They are loaded with brain-boosting antioxidants and vitamin K, both of which act as brain shields when it comes to warding off age-related cognitive decline. It’s important to note that if you’re taking blood thinners, you should consult with a doctor before loading up on too much vitamin K.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Just like leafy greens, we should all be eating these veggies on a regular basis. They are just as important as leafy greens because like kale and spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are all high in vitamin K. Chatelaine also notes that they are high in glucosinolates which have an antioxidant effect, as well as folate and carotenoids that lower homo-cysteine and fight cognitive impairment, says MindBodyGreen. The source recommends eating at least 1/2 cup every week.

Other vegetables that are important to eat when it comes to improving brain health are pumpkin, squash, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots and beets. MindBodyGreen says when these foods aren’t overcooked they contain lots of vitamin A, folate and iron which can help with cognition.

Beans and Legumes

Foods like beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all good for us, specifically our brain health because they are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. MindBodyGreen writes, “these foods contain more folate, iron, magnesium and potassium that can help with general body function and neuron firing.” The source also states that they contain choline, which is a B vitamin that boosts acetylcholine (a neuro transmitter critical for brain function).

We suggest swapping out red meat for 1/2 up of beans or legumes at least twice a week.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are one of those foods that can be really healthy for us if we eat them properly. Plus they make for a really easy go-to snack! Our first rule is that they need to be unsalted. The other golden rule with nuts and seeds is that they are to be enjoyed in moderation because they contain lots of healthy fats.

Chatelaine says walnuts are among the best nuts because they are high in “omega-3 fatty acid, a brain-protective nutrient” which also makes them great for fighting off Alzheimer’s disease. The source also suggests eating only 1/4 cup or two tablespoons of a nut butter daily.


Unless you’re a vegetarian, you probably already eat chicken quite frequently throughout the week. Thankfully, it’s a great option and should be easily substituted for red or processed meat whenever possible. However, we suggest only eating one serving a day.

Of course, it’s important to note that we’re not talking about fried chicken or flash-frozen chicken like the boxed version you probably purchased at the grocery store. We’re talking about a nice lean, grilled piece of chicken.

Whole Grains

Whole grains play an important role in the “MIND” diet. “Choose fibre-rich whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole-grain wheat to offset your intake of refined grains,” writes Chatelaine.

Olive Oil

Olive oil isn’t a food or snack per se, but it’s a common ingredient used in the kitchen and should be preferred over other popular oils. You should be using it when cooking and can even try it as a salad dressing because unlike other unhealthy options, it contains monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. WebMD points out that olive oil has “been shown to improve brain function over the long term and protect against dementia.”

Red Wine

You might be wondering what wine is doing on this list, but red wine has actually been shown to improve brain health and protect against Alzheimer’s! WebMD explains that several studies have shown this to be true, however in order for it to work, the wine must be enjoyed in moderation. Women should only drink one glass a day and in the case of men, it can be up to two. It’s important to note, that if you drink too much red wine it could have the opposite affect and make you more likely to get dementia, says the source.

We hope you found this blog post both interesting and insightful as you care for your senior or memory challenged loved one. If you provide assisted living services to a loved one in or around the Bethlehem area, or if you provide memory care services to a loved one, please know that you are not alone in your support challenges. We’re here for you, anytime! Why not give us a call!

Tips For You New Senior Assisted Living Care Givers

6 January 2020

Tips For You New Senior Assisted Living Care Givers in Bethlehem, GA

Well, the new year is upon us. It’s early January and from experience, we here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care know that many of you purposely (and understandably) chose to ignore the notion that your senior loved one is now fully dependent. That is something so many of us simply do not want to address during the Holidays. But now you feel you can no longer prolong the fact that you must prepare for a monumental life change, for everyone involved.

When a senior’s health begins to decline, an adult child or other loved one may take on a few tasks to help. Aiding with chores like grocery shopping and mowing the lawn can allow the older adult to remain in their home. As the senior’s needs worsen, loved ones often take on more responsibilities.

For some families, however, it is a crisis of some kind that causes them to assume the role of family caregiver. The senior might have experienced a fall or been diagnosed with a chronic illness. In these situations, a caregiver may find themselves struggling to juggle all their loved one’s needs. It can be an overwhelming transition for people to make.

If you are in this situation, we have some suggestions to help new family caregivers like you manage the role.

5 Tips for New Caregivers

  1. Accept the idea need help

    One belief family caregivers often have is that they should be able to manage their senior loved one’s care on their own. This is rarely possible. Acknowledge that you will need to ask for help and give yourself permission to accept assistance when it is offered.

    Support for caregivers can come in many forms. It could be allowing a friend to stay with your loved one for an hour or two while you relax and take in a movie or spend some time with your spouse. A friend may also be able to help by picking up a few groceries or dropping off dinner.

  2. Get organized

    Caregivers say they feel an extraordinary amount of stress when initially stepping into the caregiving role. Part of that stress comes from worrying they are forgetting crucial appointments or other important tasks. Getting organized can help relieve some of that anxiety.

    First, ask a friend or family member to stay with your loved one for a few hours so you can sort and organize all their important health care paperwork and legal documents. Place these in a binder by topic or date (e.g., test results, medication list, and physician contact information).

    Next, add all the senior’s appointments and follow-up tasks to your personal calendar. This helps to avoid double-booking yourself or missing something crucial. Not having to rely on your memory can alleviate some of your stress.

  3. Establish and stick to a routine

    This step may take some time to implement but having a routine to follow can help caregiving days run more smoothly. Try to cluster errands and appointments on one or two days each week. This allows you to have uninterrupted days at work and at home. It also requires fewer arrangements for a friend or family member to stay with your loved one.

  4. Connect with a caregiver support group

    Caregivers face unique challenges that others may not understand. From offering tips on juggling a busy caregiving schedule to commiserating over how much time is spent waiting for a specialist to see the older adult, having a support network of peers is helpful.

    Support groups also help with the emotional side of caregiving. Peers can empathize when you are feeling guilty, resentful, angry, or sad.

  5. Practice good self-care

    Much like the flight attendant on a plane explaining you should place a mask over your mouth before helping others, a caregiver must make good self-care a priority. You can’t care for your loved one if you are exhausted and sick yourself. Caregivers who don’t take care of themselves often experience a medical crisis of their own.

Our Final Suggestion

Our final suggestion is to become acquainted with us before you need us. We understand what you’re going through and can help you. We want to develop a trust and understanding and when the time comes, we hope that you’ll team with us for your professional senior assisted living support services. Together, we’ll provide the best loving care possible.

Give us a call. Let’s talk.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to You and Yours this Season

23 December 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to You and Yours this Season

Christmas and Chanukah share a similar spiritual message: that it is possible to bring light and hope into the world. These two holidays occur together this year, which makes this an even more special holiday season.

This is a season to reflect upon how fortunate we are to have you as our customers: our friends and neighbors. During these holidays, we wish you, your family, and your friends a safe, joy-filled, and relaxing season.

Warm wishes for a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a most Happy New Year! With peace, joy, and love this holiday season and beyond!

How Dementia And Senior Care Supporters Help Themselves and Loved Ones Find Joy during Every Season

9 December 2019

How Dementia And Senior Care Supporters Help Themselves and Loved Ones Find Joy during Every Season in Bethlehem, GA

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are smack in the middle of the Christmas/Holiday season. Your loved one who’s now living with dementia or the multiple challenges of senior life have always been the cornerstone of family Holidays and traditions. The challenges increase for all caregivers to continue the tradition with each new passing Holiday season. So, your friends, memory care professionals , assisted living professionals, and respite care professionals here in Bethlehem are back to offer you all some advice as once again you negotiate the Holiday season as a primary care giver.

Shop from home. Shopping, while oftentimes a large part of the season, will most likely bring undue stress to both the person living with dementia and the family caregiver. Avoid the sensory overload, large crowds, and confusing environment by shopping online or through a catalogue with your loved one. They can still choose gifts for the family but will be able to do so in the comfort and safety of their own home.

Create a new take on old traditions. Holiday family outings, such as outdoor ice-skating, caroling, or seeing “The Nutcracker” at a local playhouse, hold fond memories — but may not be feasible in the wake of dementia. Revamp these holiday traditions by taking a snowy day walk, lighting a fire and listening to Christmas music, or finding a version of “The Nutcracker” on DVD for family movie night. Time spent with family is the most important thing during holidays — the ice-skating, caroling and theatre are simply activities.

Remember a few of your favorite things. While it may seem like this year is going to be different than all the rest, it’s important (for both the caregiver and the person with dementia) to reminisce holidays past. Take the time during a holiday family get-together to share photos from previous celebrations, to recall funny family bloopers, and to engage in activities that your loved one is still able to — like decorating the Christmas tree or helping bake holiday treats.

As you’re adjusting to how things will be this holiday season (and those to come) — instead of how things once were — it’s important to remember the good and to hold onto joyful past memories in the wake of holiday stress. Focusing on the positive, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the negative, will not only help you cope and celebrate, but also encourage your loved one to enjoy such a special time, and to be at peace.

For those of you selflessly exercising the labor of love caring for you memory challenged or physically challenged loved ones, all of us at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care in Bethlehem hold you in the highest regard. We wish you and your entire family warmth and peace throughout this holiday season and going forward into 2020.

Thanksgiving Holiday Planning for Our Senior Living and Memory Care Loved Ones

18 November 2019

Assisted Living Memory Care Thanksgiving Holiday Planning in Bethlehem, GA

By now I think all of you realize that here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care, we invest in managing this blog as a service to our cherished residents, their families, and to the countless angels out there who lovingly provide self-help at-home senior care services. We feel a heartfelt responsibility to freely share our professional knowledge regarding professional assisted living, professional memory care support, and or respite care services. We are fully aware of the vast weight of the labor of love that all of you bear regardless of the level of professional support that you currently secure.

While this Thanksgiving-related blog post is heavily focused on those of you who care for a loved one with memory care issues, so much of this messaging can be directly applicable to those providing senior assisted living support to someone without memory issues.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather to give thanks, catch up and share a special meal together. However, when a family member is diagnosed with a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the family dynamic changes dramatically. Nowhere is this more evident than at holiday gatherings. The hustle and bustle of a typical family Thanksgiving can cause extreme levels of anxiety for someone with dementia, turning a wonderful day into a confusing and agonizing ordeal. Consequently, for the family caregiver, it can become a day full of tension as they watch over their loved one with anxious eyes.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With advance planning and preparation, Thanksgiving can still be enjoyed by everyone, even the family member with dementia. To be successful, however, you do need to plan and structure the day for the best possible outcome.

Here are some tips we’ve gathered, contributed by individuals with dementia, families and caregivers:

  • Prepare family and friends. Share your loved one’s diagnosis with those who will be attending your Thanksgiving dinner. Explain the limitations the disease has created. Educate them as to the proper way to approach and communicate with your loved one, and how to include him or her in the conversation as much as possible.
  • Prepare your loved one. Make sure that he or she has had enough rest. Keep to your regular routine as much as possible during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
  • Ask for help. Ask family members for help with shopping and cooking in advance. Many families enjoy a potluck Thanksgiving to which everyone brings a dish. This can be a lifesaver in a household with a loved one challenged by dementia. You might also consider asking a relative who is close to your loved one to help by keeping an eye on his or her anxiety levels as the day progresses. They can be a big help when you are busy with other guests and duties.
  • Schedule dinner early in the day. Individuals with dementia are particularly sensitive to the hours between daylight and evening. This is called “Sundown Syndrome” and, fortunately, there are ways to reduce its impact. One way is to schedule your dinner well before sunset.
  • Encourage reminiscing about the past. If your loved one still has longer term memory intact, consider bringing out some old photo albums and putting them in convenient places to inspire conversation. This can be a great way for younger family members to engage with your loved one, as well as with other older family members.
  • Provide a quiet place for “down time”. A short nap or some quiet time off in a separate area provides a nice break for someone with Dementia. Ideally, this would be a quiet room off the main area, where he or she can relax out of the center of activity. Often, for those in earlier stages of Dementia, a short refreshing nap is all that is needed to enable them to rejoin the festivities.
  • Plan your own post-Thanksgiving “down time”. This is so important for caregivers. You need time to yourself to unwind and relax. If you are the primary caregiver, consider scheduling some short term “respite” care at a local memory care community for your loved one. That will give you time to tend to your own physical and emotional health and enjoy some time on your own with friends and family members.

If your loved one is one of our cherished memory care residents here at Gateway Gardens, consider bringing some of your Thanksgiving cheer to them, rather than disrupting their routine by transporting them to your gathering.

For more information about senior living or memory care services here in Bethlehem, contact us anytime.

We Invite You to Take a Virtual Tour of our Community

13 November 2019

Assisted Living Memory Respite Care Community in Bethlehem, GA

Today’s blog post is a tribute to our staff who work so hard each day to create the safe, clean, and genuinely attractive living environment that every resident deserves. We invite the followers of our blog to take a walk through our gallery page and see with your own eyes the physical layout of our warm and friendly community. We think you’ll be impressed, and we gladly welcome the opportunity to show it off to you personally.

For those of you who don’t know us well, we specialize in assisted living, memory care, and respite care services to the greater Bethlehem, Ga area and beyond. We freely welcome the opportunity to engage you and your questions regarding the nature and considerations of assisted living, memory care, and respite care services. To do that, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

Assisted Living or Memory Care for Early Dementia

6 November 2019

Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem, GA

Today’s blog post is designed to help those of you out there trying to decide the strategic care plan for a loved one suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related disease. It is very common for all of you care providers to be confused regarding exactly what type of professional care is best now, assisted living or memory care. We are proud to inform that we lovingly provide both services here at Manor Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem. We thought we’d share the following with you while crediting dementiacarecentral.com for insightful and informative narrative on this subject.

Even with help from community-based services and respite services, providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (A/D) or dementia becomes more difficult with time. In later stages of the disease, many people will require more care and assistance than their family members can provide. Even for people who don’t need intensive hands-on care, safety may be an issue and they may not be able to stay home alone. Residential care options may be able to provide best for the needs of some individuals. However, these options are often considerations that caregivers and their families find difficult to plan for, or to even discuss.

Residential Care Options for Dementia

The natural progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as other forms of dementia, will result in the need for care for loved ones. Depending on one’s stage of Alzheimer’s/dementia, and his/her ability to function, the level of care and supervision that is required varies. For most families, this means some form of residential care. This is where assisted living, “memory care” comes into play.

Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living residences, such as continuing care retirement communities, are especially suited for those individuals in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who do not have many medical problems, but who do need more intensive support for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). Many people with dementia will need help with IADLs. These are activities that we perform from day to day that add to our quality of life, but are not as basic to self-care as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are the basic activities that we must perform every day in order to take care of ourselves. Individuals with dementia may also need help with these tasks.

The following tasks are considered to be IADLs:

  • Managing money (i.e., writing checks, handling cash, keeping a budget)
  • Managing medications (i.e., taking the appropriate dose of medication at the right time)
  • Cooking (i.e., preparing meals or snacks, microwave/stove usage)
  • Housekeeping (i.e., performing light and heavy chores, such as dusting or mowing the lawn)
  • Using appliances (i.e., using the telephone, television, or vacuum appropriately)
  • Shopping (i.e., purchasing, discerning between items)
  • Extracurriculars (i.e., maintaining a hobby or some sort of leisure activities)

Typically, ADLs refers to the following tasks:

  • Bathing (i.e., able to bathe without assistance in cleaning or getting into tub or shower)
  • Toilet Use (i.e., able to use the toilet and clean oneself afterwards)
  • Control or continence of urine and bowels (i.e., able to wait for the right time and the right place)
  • Dressing and grooming (i.e., able to button a shirt, choosing appropriate clothing)
  • Moving about (i.e., able to move in and out of a chair or bed, walking)
  • Eating (i.e., able to eat without having to be fed by another)

Those who are in the middle-stage of dementia require a greater amount of supervision and care than those in early-stage dementia, and for those in middle-stage dementia, assisted living is also a good option. In assisted living facilities, individuals generally live in a private studio, private apartment, or a shared apartment, and have staff available to assist them 24-hours / day. This type of living arrangement is ideal for those who are still able to live with some independence but do require assistance with ADLs. Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and social activities are also offered at assisted living facilities. In addition, assisted living facilities have dining halls where residents gather to eat meals.

Memory Care

For individuals with dementia who require a higher level of skilled care and supervision, memory care units are an ideal option. These units offer both private and shared living spaces. Sometimes they exist as a wing within an assisted living facility or nursing home or they sometimes operate as stand-alone residences. Supervised care is provided twenty-four hours / day by staff trained to care for the specific needs and demands of dementia patients. Memory care units offer the same services as assisted living facilities, in addition to activities that are intended to stimulate the memory of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Activities may involve music, arts and crafts, games, and more.

For more information, contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem.

Source: dementiacarecentral.com

Is Your Loved One Developing Alzheimer's Disease

28 October 2019

Alzheimer's Disease in Bethlehem, GA

We take great pride here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care here in Bethlehem to share our knowledge and stories to help as many people as possible. For those of you struggling to care for loved ones in need of memory care support, we understand your challenges and the huge labor of love that you bear.

Today we’ll share with you the most common symptoms shared by Alzheimer’s and related dementia disorders. The symptoms include any combination of the following:

  • Memory Loss – People may forget things they’ve learned as well as dates and events. They may also ask for the same information repeatedly.
  • Trouble Planning or Solving Problems – You may notice a loved one taking longer to complete tasks they used to be able to do much quicker. You may also notice they have trouble following directions, even a simple recipe becomes complex.
  • Confusion with Time or Place – People with Alzheimer’s often lose track of time. They also forget where they are and even how they got there.
  • Misplacing Things & Unable to Retrace Steps – As people forget dates and events they may also start to misplace objects. Although they would be able to retrace their steps in the past and find what they were looking for, that is no longer the case. This may lead them to accuse others of stealing because they can no longer find what’s theirs.
  • Mood & Personality Changes – Because of the changes that are going on in their mind, you may notice major shifts in mood and personality. They may become confused, suspicious and even depressed.

Helping People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are things you can do to slow its onset and to maximize your loved one’s quality of life. The ability to deliver positive effect is especially enhanced if the disease is still in its early stages.

  • Keep a Daily Routine – This helps to avoid confusion and lets the person know what can be expected. Alzheimer’s patients like routines.
  • Don’t Overstimulate – Keep things simple. Say one thing at a time. Present only one idea so that the person can understand it the best they can.
  • Be Reassuring – Always try to make the person feel safe and comfortable. Sometimes even saying the words, “You are safe with me” is enough to make that person feel at ease.
  • Don’t Yell or Argue – As frustrated as you may get, imagine how the patient feels. They can no longer grasp what is going on inside their own heads. Don’t yell or argue out of frustration. Be the calming voice they need.

While you may be able to care for an Alzheimer’s patient in the early stages of the disease, you need to realize that the challenges will become increasingly difficult. Your loved one can present a danger to themselves by wandering off or forgetting to turn off the stove. If this is the case it may be time to consider professional memory care services like those we provide here at our Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care community. For more information about memory care services here in Bethlehem, contact us anytime.

Get Help with Assisted Living and Memory Care Costs

21 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

Many people who are in need of assisted living services in and around Bethlehem or memory care services in and around Bethlehem put off looking for care for fear of how they will pay for it. We are fully committed to providing the highest quality and most affordable assisted living services across the Bethlehem Georgia area. We fully realize that assisted living services, for some, can be cost prohibitive. However, we are fully committed to assisting you with potential sources of financial aid so that you and or your loved ones can secure the care that you deserve.

Check the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Program

Check eligibility for the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension, a program which can provide financial help to those who require assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature.

It can pay up to $1,830 per month to a veteran, $1,176 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,170 per month to a couple for veterans and surviving spouses (as of 2017). Certain income and asset limits also apply.

This program allows you to keep more assets than most state aid programs, and it provides a higher level of assistance. You cannot receive benefits from both the Veterans program and a state aid program, so you may want to evaluate both to determine which provides the highest level of assistance for you or your loved one.

Check with your state’s medicaid office

Find your state Medicaid office and check on their available resources. To qualify for Medicaid you'll need to have assets and income that are below the federal poverty levels.

Many state programs offer assistance with assisted living costs for those who have no financial resources. Qualifying for such assistance usually means you have less than $2,000 in assets, although exact program requirements can vary from state-to-state.

Find non-profit resources for assisted living and elderly care

With a little digging you may find a non-profit organization that can help. If they can't help they may direct you to additional sources of assistance. Start with these two organizations:

  • Contact your local Area Agency for Aging. They can help you locate resources such as elder refugee or elder abuse programs, counseling, meals on wheels, volunteers who will visit, adult day care services, and much more.
  • Visit Eldercare.gov to find help in your local community, or call them at 800.677.1116. They will help refer to local resources such as home health services, transportation resources, senior housing options, respite care, find financial assistance if you are eligible for it, and much more.

Ask for family support

One home health company has created a free personalized way to stay in touch with those who need in-home care or assisted living through a feature they call CareTogether. It functions like a customized form of Facebook designed just for a senior who needs care, allowing the family to stay updated on what their needs may be.

You could use a feature like this, or a Facebook page, to explain your or your loved one’s needs to extended family and then ask family members if they would be willing to contribute a small monthly amount to provide in-home or assisted living care for this family member.

We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact Gateway Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care in Bethlehem today.

Source: thebalance.com

Halloween Activities for our Senior Living and Memory Care Loved Ones

18 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

We’re establishing a tradition here at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem to celebrate Halloween with our assisted living residents as well as our memory care residents. Each year we research new and exciting ideas to smile, laugh, and share our love for our treasured residents. This year we found this article from SeniorAdvisor.com with a laundry list of ideas which we are not mulling over. We thought we’d share the same ideas we the followers of our blog in the hope that it navigates all of you to some special moments during Halloween.

Halloween Crafts for Seniors

Halloween crafts can be completed early in October so you can use them as decorations throughout the rest of the month.

  1. Decorate pumpkins.
    One of the best traditional crafts for Halloween time is making jack-o-lanterns. If you’re not sure about handing sharp implements, you can have a pumpkin painting day or give them sharpies to draw designs on the pumpkins.

  2. Make spooky candles.
    The lacy candles recommended by Elder One Stop are easy to make, made of cheap supplies, and won’t be a fire risk (they recommend flameless). They’ll add a nice bit of atmosphere to your facility.

  3. Make decorative spiderwebs.
    You can get together to make simple and cheap spiderwebs to hang around the community out of coffee filters. Throw in a little yarn and your residents will also have the option of creating larger cobweb decorations for the space.

  4. Make spiral ghosts.
    Some white paper, a black sharpie, and scissors are all your group needs to make these spinning ghosts. You can hang them around the shared spaces of the facility.

  5. Decorative Halloween garlands.
    For one more addition to your homemade decorations, you can task any interested seniors with making decorative Halloween garlands for your hallways. Here are some ideas of bat and ghost garlands and glow-in-the-dark ones.

(Mostly) Healthy Halloween Recipes for Seniors

You can find loads of cute Halloween recipes on the web, but most of them are laden with sugar. Since many seniors have health concerns, we tried to pick out a few of the healthier options that still fit the theme.

  1. Shrunken Head Cider
    From the twisted mind of Martha Stewart comes this shrunken head cider. You can skip the booze if you want and stick with the rest of the recipe.

  2. Sweet potato jack-o-lanterns
    Sweet potatoes are just the right mix of healthy and tasty and these jack-o-lanterns will make a fun, theme-appropriate snack that’s easy to make.

  3. Dragon’s blood punch
    Made mostly of juices (although it may still be too sugary for some), this punch is simple to make in large quantities and should make for a tasty treat.

  4. Devilish Eggs
    Adorable deviled eggs made from healthy ingredients are easy for your residents to put together and tasty for everyone to enjoy once finished.

  5. Cheesy Witch’s Brooms
    Cuter than any witch’s implement should be, these witch’s brooms made of cheese and pretzels shouldn’t be too hard to make and will be even easier to devour. (Note: scroll down for the English instructions).

Other Halloween Activities for Seniors

If you want to pack Halloween week with more fun, interactive activities that you might consider include:

  1. Halloween charades
    Brainstorm as many different Halloween-related themes and ideas you can think of for your loved one to act out. You should all have fun watching people mime Dracula or try to figure out how to act like a spider. Here’s a list to get you started.

  2. Share scary stories
    Your cherished senior loved one probably know some good ones, but you can come equipped with a book or some stories from the internet just in case.

  3. Homemade costume contest
    Encourage your senior loved one to come up with homemade mask and costumes ideas. If you can make some materials available for them to work with, that may spark inspiration in a few of them. On Halloween, have everyone vote on which costume came out the best.

  4. Assisted living trick-or-treat
    Most seniors probably feel silly trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but let’s be honest, most of us loved trick-or-treating and were a little sad when we got too old for it. Why not give it a try!

  5. Classic horror movie marathon
    Your loved one probably have some favorite old classic horror movies. Poll them to pick out a few of the most popular, and give them the option to come together and watch them on Halloween or in the days leading up to it.

Halloween’s not for everybody, so you’ll probably have those uninterested in participating in some of these activities, but those that enjoy the season will be happy to have the opportunity to celebrate it in a variety of ways.

All of us here at Bethlehem’s Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care wish you the very best for a joyful Halloween celebration.

About the Guilt Associated with Seeking Professional Senior Living Care Services

14 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

Caring for your loved ones that require significant assisted living support here in Bethlehem or memory care support here in Bethlehem is an exhaustive yet fulfilling labor of love. Without doubt it is very stressful as well. At some point this labor of love becomes an unhealthy tax on both the mental and physical state of the caregiver(s). It is at this point where guilt sets in when we recognize our inability to keep pace with the ever-increasing challenge of providing assisted living care support services. This guilt is natural but fortunately it is usually short-lived once we come to accept the realities of life that, at some point, we must turn to assisted living professionals to help us carry the load.

The key word there is “professionals”. We are programmed to believe that no one outside the family can provide the same level of loving care that a family member can. But that is simply not true. When you enlist the support of assisted living or memory care professionals in and around Bethlehem you are empowering you and your family with the power of scientific research and professional expertise that will enhance the quality of life of your loved one in ways that the non-professional family simply cannot. No offense of course.

So take the step to research your transition to professional assisted living care with confidence (not guilt) that you are about to increase the quality of life of both your loved one AND yourself. Conduct thorough research of the assisted living and memory care communities near you to experience the campus, assess the skill and attentive nature of the staff, and to simply get a feel for the memory care community as a whole. Trust your instinct, it will guide you well.

If you think it's time to move your parent or loved one to an assisted living care community, contact the assisted living and memory care professionals at Gateway Gardens here in Bethlehem. Our team is available to help guide you through this difficult process and answer any questions that may arise.

Professional Assisted Living Lowers Resident Heart Disease

11 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors supported by professional assisted living professionals realize a statistically significant decrease in hospitalization for heart disease. This positive report is attributed to the professional support provided by assisted living and memory care communities such as ours at Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care here in Bethlehem GA that deliver quality of life support programs as well as regular and reassuring professional health consultation.

What We Do?

The following items are primary goals of our assisted living and memory care community and our memory care community in an effort to reduce the rate of senior patients developing heart illnesses.

Provide Fitness and Relaxation

Keeping seniors active and relaxed improves heart health. Workout programs that range from low to moderate impact exercises are managed based on fitness levels and health status. Regular exercise helps lower stress levels and improve quality of sleep. When these two vital factors are achieved and stabilized, a healthier heart is guaranteed.

Promote Nutrition and Healthy Diet

Assisted living communities pay close attention to the nutrition and diet of their senior residents. They make sure that the food served to senior residents are both appetizing and healthy to improve food intake and facilitates consumption of important nutrients that can strengthen the heart. Also, taking note of food that must be taken moderately. Low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet are usually the dietary recommendation for these people.

Provide Smoke-Free Environment

We know for a fact that a smoker has a higher risk of developing chronic heart disorders including atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care offers a designated outdoor area for smokers separated from non-smokers so that non-smokers will not be exposed to smoke-filled air. This is also a way to encourage current smokers to break the habit. Medical advises are also given to those smokers to support them to give up smoking.

For more information about assisted living and memory care services in and around Bethlehem, contact Gateway Gardens today.

Music Revives Memories in Seniors and Dementia Patients

7 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

Modern researchers have discovered that music soothes those suffering from advanced age, dementia, and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at The University of Utah Health recently tested whether they could alleviate anxiety in seniors (with and without dementia) by playing familiar music to them using headphones and a hand-held music device. Anxiety and agitation are two of the most disruptive aspects of living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for both patients and caregivers.

After the researchers helped the patients pick meaningful music, they used a functional MRI to record the changes in the brain while the music played. The brain images showed that music helped the areas of the brain known as the salience network, the visual network, the executive network, and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar networks all work with better connectivity. These areas of the brain activate language and memory, according to the study’s authors.

“When you put headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive,” Jace King, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Music is like an anchor grounding the patient back in reality.”

Music and movement are the last things to go in the brain.

It’s almost miraculous what music can do for Alzheimer’s patients and the research about the benefits is there.

Patients Respond

Health care providers have seen firsthand how much music helps dementia patients. with the clients there.

Play songs from their era that they might recognize. Patriotic songs are also popular.

Music touches people on so many levels.

The reaction by dementia patients to music was also dramatically demonstrated in the 2014 documentary, Alive Inside. Elderly care professionals can set up personalized playlists on iPods for their patients. The music helps the patients access the deep memories not lost to dementia. It also helps them converse and socialize in ways they weren’t doing before the familiar music became a part of their daily life.

For more information regarding senior assisted living services or memory care services in Bethlehem, contact Gateway Gardens today.

Must-Ask Questions When Choosing Assisted Living & Memory Care Communities

4 October 2019

 Gateway Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care Bethlehem GA

When it comes time to begin the most difficult task of choosing a Bethlehem-area senior living or memory care community take a deep breath and accept the fact that you are about to take on very serious responsibility. We want to help you in that endeavor by offering some guidance on how to move forward. Please know that we are here for you to help and expand upon the following advice.

At the very core of best practices to find the perfect senior living or assisted living community in Bethlehem is to speak with as many staff members and current residents as possible.

Questions to ask

Obviously, you can't just rely on facility tours or promotional brochures to make this crucial decision. First, get your ducks in a row. When you're ready to visit in person, turn to administrators, staff members and residents for answers to pivotal questions.

Consider Before You Visit:

Is the location realistic? Lengthy drives, not to mention flights, will affect visits and add barriers to relationships with friends and family members, including spouses still living at home.

Many families face a tough conundrum. Sometimes it's a matter of choosing between top-ranked but distant facilities versus more accessible locations for loved ones to visit regularly and monitor care.

Ask Administrators and Nursing Directors:

What are the staffing ratios? Bolster your question with research.

What is your staff turnover? Stable staffing is a good sign. In addition, consistent assignment – when the same caregivers are assigned to the same residents on a daily basis – is critically important. That way, staff members really get to know residents, anticipate their needs and can recognize and address problems early.

Which services do you offer? If you're undergoing rehab to recover from a hip fracture, you'll need a higher level of care than some nursing homes can offer. With medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, residents may need help managing supplemental oxygen.

Do you provide special care for people with dementia? Memory care means much more than just a locked unit to prevent residents from wandering. Staffing ratios should be no more than five residents per caregiver, including nurses and aides, around the clock. Caregivers should have special training in dementia care, and the awareness and sensitivity to best address these needs.

Ask Dietitians:

What kind of food do you serve? Residents rely entirely on nursing homes to meet their nutritional needs. Healthy, tasty food improves everyone's quality of life.

How do you satisfy cultural and individual food preferences? People in nursing homes still want to enjoy meals that evoke family traditions and tastes they've developed over their lives.

Do you accommodate special diets? Residents come in with their own dietary preferences and restrictions. Some also may have medical orders for soft or puréed diets, for example.

Can residents eat when they want? Some people prefer to eat outside routine schedules.

Ask Residents:

After the formal tour, explain that you'd like a chance to speak with several residents. Drop in at the activities room or a lounge, introduce yourself, say you're considering a move there and ask what it's like for them.

Are you happy here? "Do you enjoy living here?" "What do you like best about living here?" and "If you could change one thing, what would that be?" are positive ways to frame your questions and make residents more likely to respond.

Do you have freedom of choice? Does the facility offer resident-centered care? Are you able to get up when you want? Do you go to bed at the time you want?

When you ask for help, how long do you have to wait? If you always have to wait beyond five minutes for help, you're likely to try doing things on your own, which could set you up for falls.

Ask Activity Directors:

What about activities? How do you keep residents engaged? Ask to see monthly activity calendars. Offerings should be varied and appealing.

Does the facility have a resident or family council? These self-determined groups can provide a strong voice for quality care.

Is reliable transportation available? Sometimes nursing homes only provide transportation for certain medical appointments – and they don't provide transportation for social purposes. Is there staff to help residents get to a granddaughter's play?

Can residents easily spend time outdoors? Attractive courtyards are sometimes the first thing visitors notice. But how often can residents, particularly those with mobility issues, actually go outdoors? Does staff encourage and help them to do so?

For more information on senior assisted living services here in Bethlehem or memory care services here in Bethlehem, contact Gateway Gardens anytime!


Follow Us

Gateway Gardens is located at:

138 Gateway Lane Bethlehem, Georgia 30620

Gateway Gardens is licensed as an Assisted Living Community by the Georgia Department of Community Health.