Most of us have had at least one pet in our lifetimes, and we loved the animal as much as we love our own family. There are few things greater than your dog or cat greeting you at the end of a long day, and snuggling up to you, asking to be petted. Seniors in assisted living who had pets before they moved miss that interaction.
That’s where pet therapy comes in. Therapy-trained animals go through a basic obedience course, must be well socialized, and understand how to gently interact with seniors. This includes seniors with limited mobility or balance issues.
There are a few types of pet therapy, some more intensive than others. When an animal works intensively one-on-one with someone, that is animal-assisted therapy. Examples are guide dogs, emotional support animals, and animals a medical facility may use to help a patient during treatment. The dog or other animal helps their human gain confidence and navigate life.
Visitation therapy is the other main form of pet therapy. This is the most common form of pet therapy in assisted living. Local individuals and groups who have animals trained in pet therapy will visit hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living centers to provide many benefits.
You may even be able to schedule a home visit with some groups. You can also sign up for pet therapy training with your own dog as the student, provided they are a quick learner and well-behaved.
While pet therapy animals are most frequently dogs, other animals can be useful for this purpose as well, including:
• Miniature horses
• Llamas and alpacas
• Guinea pigs
The key is that the animal must be well trained, have a good temperament, and be people-friendly. No standoffish feline need apply. Smaller animals are easier to transport and bring inside an assisted living facility, of course.
There are quite a few benefits of pet therapy for assisted living residents and staff. Pet visitation therapy affects both physical and mental health. Research into these effects shows the specific benefits include:
• Lower heart rate
• Reduced blood pressure
• Lower stress levels
• Helps ease chronic pain due to the release of endorphins
• Reduces loneliness
• Brightens mood – studies show that just 15 minutes with a pet can raise serotonin levels in the brain.
• Decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
• Reduced boredom
• Reduced agitation
If your senior had a pet that they could no longer care for, or couldn’t bring with them to assisted living, make sure the facility where they stay has a pet therapy program. If they don’t already, encourage them to add pet visitation therapy to their list of activities. The benefits are enormous.
At Broad Creek Manor, we’ve recently partnered with St. John’s Lutheran Church of Sweet Air and their Caring Paws Therapy Dog Ministry Program, as well as Amy Norman Owens and her therapy dog Blu. Our residents eagerly look forward to our pet visitation therapy days, and enjoy petting and just interacting with these well-trained canine companions.
We know many of our residents miss their own pets from years gone by, and we also know the many benefits of pet therapy in assisted living. It’s just one of the many ways we strive to improve the quality of life for our residents.
How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Assisted Living
Top Signs It’s Time to Consider Assisted Living
Benefits of Assisted Living
If you or a loved one are looking into assisted living in Harford County MD, we hope you’ll consider us. We’re conveniently located in Whiteford, at the mouth of Broad Creek, and with views of the Susquehanna River. Our small residential assisted living facility has a great resident-to-staff ratio, and we treat our residents like family.
Call 410-452-0004 or use our contact form to ask questions and schedule a tour. You can also now schedule facility tours via our Facebook Page. We look forward to meeting you!
As the weather warms up here in Maryland, it’s time to start getting outside more. While we can all benefit from some sunshine, it’s especially important for seniors. And it’s possible to get the right amount of sunshine while avoiding the harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of sunshine for seniors:
• Sunshine Helps Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Let’s face it. Most elderly seniors are not getting outside and doing the yard work or getting outside much at all. That means they’re not getting natural Vitamin D, fondly known as the Sunshine Vitamin. 10-30 minutes of sunshine a day can prevent vitamin D deficiency. Schedule time outside as weather permits.
• Sunshine and Vitamin D Reduce Health Risks for Seniors
Getting enough natural vitamin D can help seniors of all ages. Some of the health benefits include:
Maintaining bone health is especially important for seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 16% of seniors suffer from osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease. Elderly women are at a greater risk. By getting the right amount of vitamin D and exercise, seniors can reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis.
Even a short walk outside can make a big difference.
• Sunshine Boosts Senior Mental Health
Who doesn’t feel happier on a sunny day? Sunshine and vitamin D can not only boost a senior’s mood but can also help combat elderly depression. If just getting out in the sun doesn’t improve your outlook, the changing colors of springtime and the singing birds will! And getting outside with someone else can help ease any sense of isolation your senior is feeling.
• Sunshine Can Help Seniors Sleep Better
Seniors who spend all of their time indoors with little to no exposure to sunshine may throw their body clock out of whack. For our circadian rhythm to work most effectively, we need to be exposed to sunshine during the day and darkness at night. Sun exposure tells the body it’s daytime, resulting in increased attentiveness and alertness.
Getting sunshine exposure during the day can also boost our night-time production of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
There are many other benefits of seniors getting enough sunshine, but these are the main ones. If your elderly parent or friend lives alone, try and make it a point to sit with them outside on a sunny day. Whether at their own home or a local park, getting outside and getting some sunshine will do their mind, body, and soul some good. They might not be inclined to go outside without someone to accompany them.
As part of our standard of care for our residents here at Broad Creek Manor, we strive to provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities when the weather permits. We know that getting plenty of sunshine and Vitamin D is vital. We have well-maintained grounds to walk on in supervised groups, as well as a covered deck.
If your loved one can’t take care of themselves anymore, or you as a caregiver are not able to meet their increasing needs, assisted living may be a good solution. Broad Creek Manor is located in northern Harford County at the mouth of Broad Creek with views of the Susquehanna River.
Our residents have plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the sun and get their vitamin D the natural way. We welcome you to schedule a tour to see all that we have to offer. Just fill out the contact form or call 410-452-0004.
The ideal time to start talking to your parents about the possibilities of assisted living or another senior care living arrangement is well before they need assistance. A simple “Have you thought about what you want to be doing when you’re 70/80/90?” Do they really want to be taking care of the lawn and house that you grew up in?
Many older adults think they’ll live in their own home forever. And for some, that’s possible. For others, it’s not safe or practical. Get the conversation started now, regardless of how healthy and spry your parents are. It will save all of you stress in the long run. Having the conversation early also makes sense financially.
And if your parents are already showing signs that they may need the help and social interaction that assisted living provides, don’t delay. These signs can include forgetting to take medications, an increase in falls, weight loss (or gain), and lack of personal hygiene or lack of housekeeping.
Top 10 Signs It’s Time to Consider Assisted Living
Getting the conversation started doesn’t have to be difficult or daunting. Here are 3 tips to start talking and keep talking about assisted living and other senior care options.
By reading this article, you’re already starting to do your homework. Do more online research about how to know when it’s time to consider assisted living or other care situation. If your parents show any of the signs mentioned, that may be a way to open the conversation: “Mom or Dad, I noticed ________. I read this article about senior care, and I’d like to know what you think. I’d like to respect your wishes.”
You can share a printed version of the article, or email them a link. Make it clear that you’re not telling them what to do, but that you want to help them get where they want to be.
If you have siblings, talk to them as well. But whatever you do, don’t all gang up on your parents in one big family conversation. They will feel ambushed and pressured.
Again, no one likes being forced into anything. Especially a parent who thinks of you as the child. If you’re lucky, they’ve already been thinking about assisted living vs in-home care, or started exploring senior living communities that include levels of living arrangements, from independent living all the way to skilled nursing care.
If not, explain that you’re having this conversation because you want to help them stay as independent and healthy for as long as possible, and having a plan is an important part of that.
Let them know you love and care for them and their well-being, and that this conversation is all about them, and not about making your life easier. Explain that having this discussion now can help them protect their finances, and determine whether long-term care insurance is an option.
Let them know that assisted living care can also help them protect their health if they are having trouble remembering to take medications or are having increased falls.
This is especially important if your parents are older and have any sort of cognitive decline or memory problems. You will want to visit assisted living facilities with them. And if they’re not tech savvy, you may need to do the initial research of facilities online.
Request brochures and other printed material for your parent to read over. If facilities don’t have printed material, consider printing out the text on their website. Again, let them take the lead in determining which facilities they are interested in.
You can help set up tours at the places they can see themselves living. Be sure to take a checklist with you to compare each facility. A Place for Mom is a good place to start looking for a checklist, and more information on what to look for in assisted living.
If you or your parents live in Maryland or southern Pennsylvania and you’re looking into assisted living, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a tour of Broad Creek Manor Assisted Living in Whiteford, MD. We’re convenient to the Baltimore area, as well as York and Lancaster counties in PA.
Our assisted living home is a smaller facility where we provide close care and assistance to your loved one. With a variety of rooms and a full slate of activities to choose from, this could be the ideal home away from home. Just fill out the contact form or call us at 410-452-0004 to schedule a tour.
If you’re taking care of an older loved one in your home or theirs, you know it can be physically and emotionally draining. You’re not alone.
According to the American Association of Retired People(AARP) 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. Report, 41.8 million Americans are caregivers for adults 50+ years of age. For most caregivers, they are caring for an aging parent, in-law, or spouse/partner.
63% have long-term physical or medical conditions.
27% have mental health or emotional issues.
32% have memory problems including Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Respite care is a service for caregivers like yourself. Trained professionals care for your loved one for a day to a month at a time. At Broad Creek Manor, we handle respite care arrangements on case-by-case basis, and you can schedule a respite stay for your loved one anywhere from a week to a month.
Respite care can give you the time you need to regroup, de-stress, and handle some of life’s other pressing matters, secure in the knowledge your loved one is being well cared for. At the same time, when you use our respite care services, your loved one gets to test the waters of what it’s like to live in assisted living.
It’s a test run, so to speak. This is especially important if you feel you can no longer handle the caregiving responsibilities because of increasing time demands and physical demands, or your loved one has become aggressive or combative.
We can’t say what respite care services include at other facilities, or what in-home respite services include, but we can tell you what is included here at our assisted living home: everything that is available to our fulltime residents.
24/7 caregiver support
Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting
Group meals planned by a nutritionist
Physical activity as tolerated
Social activities like games, gardening, crafts, singing
While you handle what you need to, your loved one has a chance to determine if assisted living is a good fit. If they’re isolated at home, they may really like the social interaction at assisted living. They may even find that they make friends.
It’s important to include your loved one in the decision to go to respite care. They need to know this is not a sneaky way to move them out of your (or their) home and into assisted living. Refer to it as a temporary stay that will benefit both of you.
Explore your local options for respite services, and involve your loved one in choosing where to go. Choose the dates carefully – check out scheduled activities that might be of interest, and plan the stay accordingly. Be sure your older adult knows the start and end dates.
Help them pack for the stay with a few favorite clothing items as well as comfort items. These could include:
Sweaters or jackets
Comfortable yet attractive clothing and shoes
Pajamas, robe, and slippers
iPad or tablet if they use one
Books to read or puzzle books to work
Knitting or other hobby materials
You get the idea. Don’t overdo the packing, but pack enough that the respite care room they stay in feels a bit like home.
Now, you will likely be in contact with your loved one via phone or email while they are in respite care, so you will know a little bit about how things are going. If they are enthused about their stay, the staff, the food, the people they’ve met, take time to learn more about the assisted living facility. Ask lots of questions. You may want to check out our FAQs page for questions to ask assisted living.
It just might be a good fit if it turns out a move to a new home is the right choice for your family.
Signs It’s Time to Consider Assisted Living
Benefits of Assisted Living
If respite care sounds like a good option for you and your loved one, use the contact form or call us at 410-452-0004 with questions, and we will work with you to find the best dates and period of time for a respite stay. We’ll ask you pertinent questions about your loved one and their mental and physical health needs, and you can ask us any questions you may have.
We’re conveniently located in Whiteford, Maryland in Harford County. Our home within about an hour’s drive of Baltimore, York, PA, and Lancaster, PA.
Here at Broad Creek Manor Assisted Living, we know that the holidays can be a lonely time for some of our residents, and we work extra hard to bring some holiday cheer to make things merry and bright. If you have a loved one here, we welcome your suggestions. We also welcome you to join us at any time.
Here are some of our ideas:
We usually have one main Christmas tree, but you can provide a tabletop tree for your loved one. We like to decorate with garlands and paper snowflakes as well. To help your loved one decorate their room, consider wrapping the door in gift wrap and ribbon like a big package.
Other options include bringing them special winter bedding as well as holiday towels, decorative pillows, and possibly favorite decorations from when they lived in their own home. You can also create a Christmas card holder to display the cards they receive. It can be something as simple as twine or ribbon strung across a window, where you hold cards in place with clothespins.
This can include letting the assisted living facility know which songs are your loved one’s favorites to get them added to a playlist that can be heard in communal spaces such as the dining area. While the assisted living activities director may arrange a singalong for residents, you can also arrange to have your church youth group or other youth group come caroling at the center.
Many seniors enjoy arts and crafts and it is a great social activity. Wreath making, decorating stockings, making ornaments, and making gingerbread houses are all fun to do. Residents can give some of these crafts as gifts, or use them to decorate their room.
You can visit your loved one in assisted living any time you like. But during the holidays, it can be especially lonely for some seniors. Talk with your siblings and make time for joining in the facility festivities such as decorating, a singalong, or baking cookies.
Movie night (or afternoon) is always fun, especially with some of the holiday classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, The Grinch, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and more. If you have a collection of holiday movie DVDs, feel free to loan them to Broad Creek Manor.
Arranging with a local Santa to visit and bring small gifts to residents is always a hit. You can help by making suggestions of gifts that your loved one might appreciate based on conversations you’ve been having.
If you find that you would like to increase your charitable giving as the year comes to a close, please remember older adults in assisted living. Donations of small gifts, gift cards, food items, floral arrangements, craft supplies, etc. are always welcome. You can also offer to donate your time, depending on what your business is.
A shout out to some local businesses who have offered products and services in the last year:
How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Assisted Living
How Respite Care Lets Your Loved One Test the Waters of Assisted Living
If you or a loved one are contemplating the transition to assisted living, you’ll want to explore your options. At Broad Creek Manor, our trained staff strive to make this feel like home. We’re conveniently located in a tranquil setting in Harford County, Maryland, around an hour’s drive from Baltimore, as well as York and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania.
To schedule a tour, please fill out the contact form, or call us at 410-452-0004. We look forward to meeting you!