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indianapolis assisted livingWe all remember that nervousness we felt on the first day of school or the first day on a new job, introducing ourselves to people who would become pals. Even with long lives of experience repeating this process over and over, it still involves the butterflies in the stomach of adjusting to change. When a senior begins the process of transitioning from a private home to a shared retirement community, it involves new faces and places to adopt as a new normal.

Maintaining an active, enjoyable social life is key to settling in to this exciting new chapter in a senior’s life. The good news is that MorningSide offers many opportunities to interact with new people. Activities include such things as Painting with Elizabeth on Tuesdays, knitting class on Thursdays, weekly social hour, fabulous meals, and outings to fascinating places like Indiana’s Underground Railroad.

Just because a senior moves to MorningSide, they doesn’t mean they have to lose touch with old friends. In fact, if a friend visits a resident and they decide to move in as well, the resident receives a $1,000 referral fee! Getting to live alongside an existing friend and getting rewarded for it is having your cake and eating it too! “Don’t miss this opportunity to choose your neighbors,” said Executive Director Jo Cowan.

It’s great whenever our friendships endure change, but growth comes from embracing new aspects of life. Experts say the key to overcoming loneliness and making new friendships is to put yourself out there and open your heart to possibilities.

Existing friends and trusted institutions like church are just some of the sources available to make new acquaintances in fresh locations. Sometimes it is a simple matter of striking up a conversation about sports, the old days, old neighborhoods, what it was like growing up, current events, cars, recipes, etc.

Signing up for a class, perhaps trying something we’ve never done before, can give even shy people the nudge needed to interact with others in meaningful ways.

Everyone enjoys some solitude, but having a social life pays off in many ways, both emotional and physical. Experts say socializing lowers blood pressure while remaining active keeps the mind and body healthy. Plus, we can get joy from helping others through tough times and take comfort when they reciprocate – it is important to treat others the way we want to be treated, remaining loyal and listening when others share.

Beyond the interactions inside our building, a senior can also use technology to make new friendships, communicating with old friends and family while making new connections on social networks like Facebook. There is a certain satisfaction in having others wish us a happy birthday or send holiday greetings.

MorningSide is just one of the ways seniors can make new friends in senior living.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo

Many seniors feel apprehensive about getting online, worrying that they won’t have the tech skills to successfully take advantage of computer resources. According to FastCompany, a neuroscientist at UCLA found that when he observed “12 tech-savvy and 12 tech-ignorant people use search engines while inside an MRI machine”the result was“more neural activity in the noggins of tech-savvy users.”Not only does the Internet open you up to a host of new possibilities, the process of learning something new can have a positive effect on your brain—great news for those who are interested in staying in tip top mental shape.

There are host of other benefits to making use of the Internet. It’s easier than ever to connect with others around the world in just a few clicks or a few keystrokes, from family a few states away to new pen pals as far away as Japan or Norway. Even ten or fifteen years ago, the majority of adults weren’t online. Now 87% of American adults regularly use the Internet, logging on to converse over email and social networking sites, look up information using search engines like Google and Yahoo, keep up with the news and their favorite TV programs, or connect with other people who have common interests, like NASCAR, baseball, sewing, chess, and more.

Of course, the flip side to how much the internet brings us together is that it can also connect you to bad people who might want to take advantage of you. While it’s easier than ever to reach out to friends and family, it’s just as easy for criminals to reach out to you in hopes of getting money, your personal information, or even steal your identity. However, there are some simple steps you can take to keep cyber criminals at bay.

Email With Care

First and foremost, you should treat your email with the same care you would your mail or postoffice box. Just as you get unwanted junk letters in real life, you may get spam messages in your email box from strangers. Some scams that online criminals run online are similar to those run through the mail or on the phone—telling you that you’ve won a lottery prize, for example, or posing as a fake charity. Just as you’d be cautious under other circumstances about sending money to strangers or unverified causes or potentially illegitimate businesses, you should be even more so online.

Pick an email program with a strong spam filter like Microsoft Outlook or Google Mail—this will protect you from many inappropriate messages and reduce the number you need to deal with yourself. When you set up your email account, create a strong password that will be hard for anyone else to guess or crack. For example, “123456”is a common password that would be easy for a hacker to figure out because so many people use it. The same for things like your children or grandchildren’s names, “password”or “PW”or even “letmein.”You should use a mixture of symbols, numbers, and both upper and lower case numbers to ensure you have a strong password.

Trust Your Inner Skeptic

Criminals often create stories that seem so wild you couldn’t possibly make them up. People have fallen for all sorts of tall tales, from Nigerian princes trying to find their way home to messages from the supposed Sheriff’s office telling them a missing person’s report has been filed on the recipient’s behalf. Other common tricks include seemingly innocent, minor requests, like trying to find a good time to call you, or simply asking if you’re ok. If you don’t know who sent the email, simply give them a call or check in personally to find out if they originated the conversation. It takes some of the convenience out of staying in touch, but it’s totally worth it to avoid giving scam artists even the slightest details to go on. Never download a file attached to an email if you don’t know who it’s from. The file could be a computer virus that will make your device run slower or will find personal information like credit card or insurance account numbers and send it to the scammer.

A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way

You never know who’s looking when you post online, and what you say can stick around a lot longer than you think. Friends of friends might see what you post on social media, private details linger on message boards, and you can’t take back what you write. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. So be especially guarded about sharing anything you wouldn’t write down and hand to stranger, or the kind of information you run through a shredder at the end of the month.

Enjoy a Wider World

Despite digital dangers, the Internet has a wealth of opportunities to stay connected and involved in your community and interests no matter your age. Don’t feel intimidated by the possibility of living an online life, instead embrace a new skill, and take proper precautions so you can surf the web with confidence. As with any new skill, it may take time to feel as comfortable and confident as you do in real life, but soon you’ll have street smarts for the World Wide Web!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

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alzheimers care indianapolisWhen a senior’s confusion and memory loss advances from mild to more serious, it’s important to see a doctor and get a diagnosis so that planning for the challenges of the future lessens the stress of uncertainty for those concerned.

Planning after the diagnosis allows the person with Alzheimer’s to participate in making decisions that help family and friends to know his or her wishes. Research helps the person know what to expect. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. It goes beyond simply having a few “senior moments” of forgetfulness.

Symptoms include:

  • Memory changes.
  • Difficulty planning or problem solving.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Changes in mood and personality.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends consulting a medical doctor as soon as possible after recognizing symptoms for a thorough examination to rule out other possible causes for symptoms, then, once a diagnosis is confirmed, an attorney to assist with getting affairs in order.

It’s possible for someone with Alzheimer’s to live for several years after the first symptoms appear, but as the disease progresses, a person may lose his or her capacity to understand the appreciate the consequences of any executed legal document. Legal documents help ensure wishes are followed and make it possible for others to make decisions on a senior’s behalf when he or she no longer can. “Power of Attorney for health care” is a status that allows a designated person to make decisions regarding doctors, treatments, care facilities, end-of-life care decisions, and do not resuscitate orders.

It’s also important, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, to choose a trusted person to give durable power of attorney for finances and property. Failing to do this until a crisis hits can complicate matters in managing assets. AA also recommends drafting a living will and a standard will.

Gather all important documents that family may need to refer to. Having handy access to critical information can help family who may feel overwhelmed with the changes. It is completely normal, according to AA, for the adjustment to produce a variety of emotions, but there’s no reason to feel alone with resources and solutions available to help.

One such solution is Reflections Centre, our secure community for memory care with staff specially trained by the local Alzheimer's Association. Reflections Centre offers a safe, secure environment, complete with an enclosed outdoor courtyard. In a structured setting, the affected senior can maintain their dignity and comfort.

“Getting people to help you with certain tasks works better with a well-thought-out plan rather than trying to find help in an emergency situation. This plan will provide you — and the people assisting you — with confidence that the assistance you need will be there when you need it,” states advice on the Alzheimer’s Association website, www.alz.org
To learn more about Reflections Centre at MorningSide, call (844) 511-3456. To learn more about your local Alzheimer’s Association, the Greater Indiana Chapter, visit http://www.alz.org/indiana/

Note: The advice offered here is not a replacement for medical care or legal counsel. Always seek an expert opinion from your physician and attorney in such matters.

Written by Steven Stiefel

retirement living indianapolisWith an annual average of close to 25-inches of snowfall in Indianapolis, winter is a serious concern for senior citizens, who are at greater risk of exposure in extreme cold, not to mention the ever-present snow and ice that can lead to dangerous slips and falls on slick surfaces. Some simple precautions can prevent a winter wonderland from becoming a frozen minefield.

Seniors rely on caregivers to clear slippery walkways as a storm hits. They may also face the challenge of dealing with frozen pipes or running out of food because they can’t get out to get food from a local grocery store. Even with family checking on an elderly relative, the kindness of neighbors and relatives can be the difference between safety and danger.

Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at particular risk during the winter. It falls upon caregivers to make sure they stay indoors as much as possible and wear adequate clothing to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. If a senior has had heart disease or high blood pressure, they may need a caregiver or family member to help with shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold.

At MorningSide of College Park, we offer Indianapolis seniors a safe place to live where can not only survive but thrive during the wintertime. Scheduled activities and visiting entertainers prevent boredom and stimulate the mind. As part of a community, seniors find many opportunities to create something new, whether it is a crafting project or a new friendship. Safety and quality of life are key to our mission serving Indianapolis area families.

Whether living alone or in Assisted Living, it’s important to prepare for winter now while conditions are still relatively mild.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following:

  • Check your emergency supplies
  • Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector. Test the batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • Weatherproof your home. Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.
  • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • If your pipes freeze, thaw them slowly by directing the warm air from an electric hair dryer onto the pipes.
  • If there is a power failure, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles, if possible.
  • Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
  • Close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors, and close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.
  • Do not touch fallen electrical wires.

These are just a few of the tips the CDC recommends for people, including senior caregivers. Take these precautions BEFORE winter weather threatens for best results.

To learn more about moving to MorningSide of College Park Senior Living Community this winter, call (317) 872-4567.

Written by Steven Stiefel

assisted living indianapolisWhen a senior is no longer able to perform tasks of daily life without a helping hand, they can either rely on family caregivers or move to an Assisted Living community.

There are many options for getting the funds to pay for such a move, from selling a home to getting a Long term care insurance policy to applying for a monthly pension through the Veterans Administration. The challenge, however, is finding ways to afford to move a senior sooner rather than later, as some of these financial tools can take weeks or months to process application paperwork.

Bridgette Duber, Senior Vice President of Sales for Elder Life Financial, said her company offers a low-interest, unsecured line of credit to up to six people for three years to bridge the gap between moving and receiving funds.

“We offer multiple solutions,” she said. “One phone call and the senior has access to everything we can provide.”
Approval often comes within 24-48 hours, and the borrowers only have to pay back the accumulated interest, offered at a rate of 8.25%.

Such a “bridge loan” can pay for the costs of assisted living while an “aid and attendance” application makes its way to the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, for inspection and approval. The monthly federal pension helps pay the cost of assisted living with married veterans eligible for up to $2,123 a month.

Elder Life’s line of credit also helps pay the cost of living expenses while collecting on a Long-term Care Insurance policy or converting a life insurance policy to cover daily needs rather than final expenses.

“Companion Living” can stretch dollars further by lowering the cost of living in a senior community by taking on a roommate – a good option for those who actually enjoy the close companionship.

Use of Medicaid to pay for senior care can be a last resort for low-income seniors if they can meet the strict financial guidelines in order to qualify. Medicaid wavers come from specific state programs to provide care and support to individuals outside of nursing homes, which are more expensive than Assisted Living communities. Indiana’s program considers an applicant’s income relative to their cost of care.

Indiana Home and Community-Based Services Waivers allow Indiana Medicaid programs to pay for services that are provided in a community setting rather than a Medicaid funded facility or institution. Persons must qualify for institutional care in order to be eligible for the services.

Other government resources include Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Survivors’ Benefits, and State SSI Supplementary Payments.

Those with personal property may apply their resources to pay for Assisted Living, take out private loans or use their home equity. Life insurance that’s converted to pay for care, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare, and other health insurance goes to pay for senior care in many cases.

Long Term Care Insurance can be an attractive option because monthly premiums are known in advance, allowing seniors to build them into a budget. Such policies may also offer flexibility to meet a variety of needs. Most of these policies come with elimination periods during which time the senior is not yet eligible for any benefits, typically between 20 and 100 days, making a line of credit from Elder Life more important for the senior who wants to start enjoy life in an Assisted Living community as soon as possible.

To learn more about moving to MorningSide of College Park Senior Living Community, call (317) 872-4567.

 

Written by Steven Stiefel

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Save the Date

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indianapolis independent retirement livingIn this age of technology, not everyone realizes just how much has changed in the past century. But taking the time to tell stories to your younger relatives can be a great way to share history and life lessons. They can’t always be around to listen to what you have to say, but you can still share your life with them!

Writing down your life experiences is a wonderful way to connect with your family. It will give them tangible memories to hold on to and learn from when you can’t be there to talk to them. Angela Burton, a creative writing instructor who hosts the Oh! I Remember workshop for seniors, says, “The true gift is the legacy they are leaving their families… These stories would be lost forever, but by writing them down, we are capturing their whole persona before it’s too late.”

Delving into your past and writing it down can be good not only for your family, but also for you! Taking a look back and reminiscing can help improve cognitive function in seniors. It keeps your imagination active, and writing can give you a means of self-expression.

If you decide to begin writing about your life, here are a few things that might help:

  • Don’t get too bogged down with writing your whole life story. You have made so many memories over the years, and trying to write down every detail can be exhausting.
  • Instead, start small. Focus on specific events, rather than the whole, and write in short bursts, similar to writing a letter to a friend. This makes the writing process easier for you, and it will be easier for your future readers to take on as well!
  • Include family history and personal experience. Your family shaped who you were and became as you grew up. Talk about them, whether it be the time your older sister locked you out of the house, or when you and your father helped your neighbor chase a loose animal from the farm down the road, or when your family uprooted and moved across the country.
  • With personal experience, reflect on lessons you may have learned from the situation you’re sharing. Each event in your life has, to some extent, influenced who you are now. How did it affect you? What emotions do you associate with the event? Did it cause you to grow as a person? Thinking about these questions and including their answers in your writing can be a means of passing on important lessons to future generations.
  • Don’t focus solely on the dramatic events. Yes, those are important, but so are the seemingly mundane. Everyday life can be a great story all on its own. The people you saw every day for twenty years at the job you held, if you went to church every week, your elementary school years—all of these things and more have helped you become who you are now. Reading about these things allows your reader to identify with you and learn from your experiences.
  • Realize that it’s okay to write about sad memories as well as happy ones. No one has lived an absolutely perfect life, so why write down only the happy things? Sometimes our hardships are our greatest learning experiences; we often gain so much wisdom in times of trial.
  • Remember to respect the people you mention in your stories. Tell the truth, but don’t hesitate to change names if you feel uncomfortable talking about a specific person, or if they might be offended or embarrassed by the story you tell.
  • Remember that it is your story. If there are details or events that you would rather keep private, you don’t have to write about them! If you don’t want to start off talking about your childhood, then don’t. You get to decide!
  • Don’t be afraid to share your story with others, even as you write. Talking it out may spark memories of other details you may have missed before! And this gives you a way to connect with friends or family during the process!
  • If you have difficulty writing by hand or even typing, don’t hesitate to use a voice recorder or video camera to record your stories.

You never know how your life can affect the lives of others; even years after the fact, a lesson you learned can help someone else! Writing gives you a way to make that connection with future generations, and your family will cherish your stories for years to come!

Written by Chanel Bell

indianapolis retirement livingMaking a move from a longtime home to an Indianapolis Assisted Living Community can be frightening for seniors, but it actually offers a lot of benefits that might not be apparent at first. Explaining these things can go a long way toward making the senior feel better about the transition.

For most of us, home represents independence and privacy in our minds, but these things are not necessarily lost in the move.

What does get lost is much of the hassles of living alone. Most retirement communities give residents the option to modify a space to make it feel more like home, including moving furniture and personal items.

The spacious apartments at MorningSide of College Park offer individually controlled heat and air, large bathrooms and full kitchens for independent retirement living. Our top of the line “Waterford” apartment provides 1,160-square-feet including two bedrooms and two baths.

Our Assisted Living program is more about providing services to help with dining, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, medication reminders, housekeeping and laundry, and mobility. MorningSide staff help straighten the senior’s apartment daily, wash dishes, take out the trash, wash and dry or iron personal laundry.

Living alone in a house also potentially means other challenges that simply no longer exist for them when a senior transitions to a place like MorningSide: No more yard to mow, leaves to rake, snow to shovel, weeds to pull, light bulbs to change, or carpet to vacuum. Someone else takes care of these chores. At the same time, hobbies such as gardening are still possible.

With activities provided and new friendships-in-waiting, we vanquish boredom and set the stage for relationships. Games, visits from entertainers and trips to various destinations make the days of sitting home alone a thing of the past.

It’s also worth considering that MorningSide of College Park is a safe environment where seniors can relax and not worry about home invasions or aggressive solicitors. Retirement communities are also there with assistance if a senior falls or needs help in other ways. After decades of living in urban spaces, someone can finally feel safe because they can spend time alone living in a space shared with many others.

Apartment-style senior living is an ideal living arrangement for those who value their privacy but also appreciate the peace-of-mind that comes from having a helping hand. Call (317) 872-4567 to schedule a consultation and tour of MorningSide of College Park.

Written by Steven Stiefel

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Indy Seniors Beat the Heat this Summer

indianapolis retirement homeLate spring was very wet this year in Indianapolis, but now that the solstice has passed and summer is officially here, it looks like sunnier, hotter weather is ahead. That’s good news for an-yone who was beginning to feel like they had wound up in Seattle instead of Indiana, but it does mean some health and safety precautions need to be taken to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other seasonal maladies that can affect the very young, the very old, and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, from sports enthusiasts to outdoor pets.

The first trick to beating the heat is to stay inside. Plan activities like board games, scrapbooking, book club, crafts, or indoor exercise during the hottest parts of the day, from about noon to four in the afternoon. Staying indoors is also a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays during the part of the day when they are strongest. Save outdoor activities for the evening when it’s cooler— that’s a great time to tend to the garden, go to a baseball game, or take an after-diner stroll with loved ones.

Whether your summer fun is indoors or out, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Elderly people and those with chronic illnesses are especially susceptible to dehydration for a variety of factors. As we age, our bodies naturally retain less water, and kidney function may be reduced. Some medica-tions can also compromise the body’s ability to retain water. Seniors also may experience re-duced thirst or trouble swallowing, affecting their desire for fluids. Sipping on water, rather than tea, coffee, or soda, throughout the day, regardless of cravings can keep you hydrated. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already critically dehydrated.

There are many more serious side effects of dehydration than thirst to be aware of. One of the benefits of being a Morningside resident is the caring staff members who are trained in identifying such symptoms and keeping residents healthy. However, friendly and family may want to take note, as heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect people of any age. Symptoms can include mouth dryness, infrequent urination or urine that is a dark or deep yellow, cramping in limbs, headaches, the inability to cry tears, a general feeling of weakness or malaise, low blood pressure, rapid but weak pulse, dry or sunken eyes, or change in pace of breath.

Spending time indoors out of the heat is a great way to reduce the chances of chronic or dan-gerous dehydration. Fortunately, Indiana is a great place to enjoy cool summer pastimes as much as fun in the sun. Grab a milkshake from Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream after enjoying the exhibits and programing at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana Medical History Museum, or the the Museum of Miniature Houses. Walk through a local shopping mall or go to see a movie to get a few extra hours of relief from the heat.

Indianapolis is a wonderful place to enjoy summer fun. You can pack in even more enjoyment simply by being safe and aware about how to stay hydrated and keep cool when temperatures spike! 

Written by Meghan O'Dea

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