Tag: senior living

Adjusting to your new senior living lifestyle

After all the hard work of planning, narrowing down choices and making the big move, you’re finally settled into your new senior living community. Your family helped you move in. They’ve called almost every day. You’ve met a handful of new people. But community life is still very new—and you wonder how long it will take before you start to feel at home.

This scenario is more common than you might think among older adults who make the move to senior living.

While the relocation process can be exciting, after the hustle and bustle of moving day ends, new residents can feel unsure what to do next or how to integrate into their new community. No matter how old we get, huge changes in our lifestyles inevitably come with an adjustment period.

If your recent move to senior living has you feeling a bit out of place, don’t worry! You didn’t make a mistake—it just sometimes takes time to adjust to a new way of living. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to shorten that adjustment period and start feeling at home. Click here to read more!

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‘Care conversations’: Common phrases caregivers need to know

If you’ve just begun caring for an older adult, it’s easy to be confused by the jargon of senior-focused health care.

And if you’re searching for a senior living community, the various terms and phrases to describe different levels of care require building a new set of vocabulary just to navigate literature you receive.

In addition to the terms about your loved one’s health conditions, there are a handful of phrases all caregivers should know while they are providing care and when choosing a senior living community.

Finding Order in the Acronyms

Many senior living communities refer to their levels of care services with acronyms. When you are familiar with these common terms, you’ll find it easier to determine which services different communities provide.

Click here to read this helpful information.

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Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence.

Someone recently asked me about the importance of various roles within a senior living community.

My immediate response arose from my knowledge of 1 Corinthians: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts … all its many parts form one body … there should be no division in the body, but … its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

In other words, every role is equally important, every staff member critical to the quality service we provide.

The question dovetailed so nicely with our new customer service program at Diakon—Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence.—I felt compelled to write about it. One part of that program guides staff members toward the understanding that, no matter what our role is, we are all equally important to our mission. We cannot accomplish our goals any other way!

Naki Godfrey, a regional sales and marketing director for Diakon and coordinator of our customer service program, wrote this introduction for the program, which so well encapsulates our team focus:

“At Diakon, we touch the lives of our residents, clients, customers, family members, vendors and staff every day. Why? Simply put: We are in the business of providing service and care. That’s what we do at Diakon, no matter which service line you are involved in.

“Many Hands, providing excellent care, motivated by the One Heart of compassion, is one way we describe what all of us do each day as the “many hands” of Diakon.

“Although Diakon has always been a customer-focused organization, our goal in designing the Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence. program was to:

•    Help us to see exemplary customer service in new and helpful ways.
•    Provide reminders and tips on how always to focus on our customers—our residents and clients—first.
•    Incorporate a customer service focus into everything we do.

“Even the most customer-focused organizations—including Diakon—must re-emphasize a customer-centric approach in everything they do as health care and related fields continue to change and grow. Our outcomes on customer service are more important than ever.

“So … is customer service new to Diakon? Absolutely not. It has always been at the root of our culture and organization.”

But reminders of that focus remain especially important today. As is the recognition of how important every staff member is to our goal of excellent care and service.

Jennifer Sharp, BSW, NHA, PCHA
Vice President, Operations
Diakon Senior Living Services

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GIVING BACK—Two hearts, two hands and four paws

NOTE: Since 2006, Jeanne Doney and her therapy dog, Bentley, have volunteered at Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown/The Ravenwood Campus. Together, the duo offers residents a special relationship that only two hearts, two hands and four paws can give.

 

Jeanne Doney shares her experience:

 

You might say that my dog, Bentley, is giving back to the community—especially since the community saved him. You see, Bentley is a rescue dog. He was once neglected, but now he not only receives an overabundance of love at home, but he is the center of attention on the Ravenwood campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown most Friday mornings.

 

Although Fridays are my days off—I work as a State of Maryland office supervisor in behavioral health—I tell Bentley that we have to go to “work.”

 

As soon as he hears those words, he knows exactly where we are going. The 45-pound Labrador Retriever and Beagle mix calmly wags his tail in excitement. Although he can’t swim or track animals—traits that most labs and beagles have—Bentley is known for his big loving, loyal heart, one he opens up to residents and staff at Diakon Senior Living.

 

Immediately after I found him at the shelter 11 years ago, we began visiting the campus, so Fridays on the Ravenwood campus are a routine we both know well. Bentley patiently waits for the foyer doors to open. Once they do, he pauses while I sign the visitor book and put on his leash. Of course, his first stop is the beauty parlor, where he visits Sharon, the beautician, for a treat and to see the ladies who are getting their hair done.

 

Although he has a regular visiting routine and has taken a fond liking to specific residents, he attracts attention wherever he goes. He always has people reaching out to him and I give him the “go closer command,” so that they can pet him. We visit the sunshine room, see rehabilitation patients and often help out with activities.

 

In Bentley’s presence, residents often reminisce about the pets that they once had. Petting Bentley cheers people up, gives them comfort, or helps them recover. Bentley has a way of taking residents’ minds off their pain and worries. At the same time, I can see how attached Bentley is to the residents. It’s very hard on him when a resident moves on—it just goes to show how much a dog can love someone. It is apparent that love is mutual.

 

In August 2015, residents threw Bentley a 12th birthday party complete with his favorite treat—vanilla ice cream!

 

Bentley, who regularly wears holiday-themed kerchiefs throughout the year, also participates in the annual Halloween party. With a trunk of doggie costumes, the residents dress him up. Last year he wore an orange-and-yellow ballet tutu around his neck—he looked like a lion.

 

He goes to parties and picnics where he enjoys hot dogs and hamburgers off the grill—a treat he doesn’t get at home because I don’t eat meat. We also watch the annual Wagon Train parade with the residents. The horse wagon train comes up Rt. 40 and stops at the Ravenwood campus. Bentley enjoys watching the parade with the residents. He even had a “nose-to-nose” with a horse—but they were just sniffing each other. The residents thought it was funny and they still laugh about it today.

 

When you hear the laughter and see the joy that results from Bentley’s presence, it is apparent that he is part of the Diakon Senior Living family.

 

Abby, the director of community life, even made him an official pet visitor badge. It’s as if he is the employee and I am his handler.

 

Being part of this volunteer opportunity is so rewarding. Bentley gets a lot out of it and so do the residents—it’s gratifying for everyone—including me.

 

In fact, it is embarrassing how much I get out of it. I am so pleased that Diakon Senior Living allows me and Bentley to do this. It is our way to give back.

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An honor, a privilege

Some believe that knowing your life’s journey is coming to an end can be a blessing of sorts. You have an opportunity to say goodbyes and perhaps even let go on your own terms—but knowing certainly does not always make the process easier.

At Manatawny Manor, we recently helped a chronically ill resident and her family members face such a struggle. Our chaplain, the Rev. Roxi Kringle, has a special way of discussing end-of-life issues. She engages in a heartfelt conversation with individuals and their loved ones, asking about wishes and goals. Is there something the person would like to do, a place to visit, favorite foods?

“Jane”—her name has been changed because of health-care rules—had been a resident of Manatawny Manor for several years but, some months back, we could see that she was declining rapidly. We also noticed that she and her family were having a tough time facing this decline and so we made plans for them to speak with our chaplain.

In that conversation, Roxi learned of Jane’s passion for horses and her desire to be around them one last time. Jane’s daughters very much wanted to make that happen for their mother, in spite of the challenges involved in taking her on such an outing.

But by some miracle—maybe Janes’s guardian angel was pulling a few strings—everything began to fall into place for her wish to become true.

I have a friend who volunteers at Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines in Pottstown, a place for “retired” horses—mostly race horses and those used by police—to live out their days. And so on a Sunday afternoon I accompanied Jane and her husband in Manatawny’s transport van to the horse farm, where we met extended-family members. Although it was late winter, the day was sunny and somewhat mild.

Jane was able to pet, hug and feed the horses.

Two days later, she passed away. Her family held a memorial service at our senior living community and, in her honor, chose to sponsor a horse at Ryerss Farm for a year.

It was an honor and a privilege to have helped Jane and her family, not only by providing daily care to her but also by helping to give her a special day so near the end of her life’s journey.

Kelli Brown, RN
Director of Nursing
Manatawny Manor

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‘Snow’ many opportunities to help others

My 14-year-old daughter randomly shared this thought with me while we were driving last night….

Mom, isn’t it amazing how one tiny snowflake that falls from the sky joins with all the others and creates these huge piles of snow? It’s just amazing.

I agreed with her and then jokingly said, “I’ll bet there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too tired of all this snow to think what it might be.”

Later that evening, the lesson dawned on me. Throughout the last few days I’ve heard stories of people joining forces to help others during and after the massive snowstorm that hit our region. Many of those people are my coworkers. Alone they could do only so much, but like those snowflakes, they combined their efforts and the results multiplied into something amazing. Just a few examples:

Senior living Q&A

Should we move?

How can I possibly begin to downsize?

What will I do if my health declines?

As older adults consider options in retirement, they often have questions and concerns. One of the major questions concerns where they should live. We asked admissions staff at a variety of Diakon Senior Living Communities for their input on the topic. Here are their combined answers:

Living with Alzheimer’s … some bonds just can’t be broken

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progressively harms and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions.

People are at the greatest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if they are more than 85 years of age; they may have a reduced risk of developing memory loss-related diseases if they maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives, according to the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Because people experience Alzheimer’s disease differently with varying symptoms, it is important that a doctor provide the diagnosis. Symptoms generally include the loss of problem-solving ability, impaired judgment, and loss of short-term memory.

Alzheimer’s disease occurs gradually. In fact, after a diagnosis is made, family members often say they believe they should have “seen it coming.”

As families learn to deal with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they must become aware of the reality they face—the disease gets progressively worse and families should make plans to handle that decline.