Where Better Care is a Family Matter

Celebrating the Holidays with Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

holidays nursing homes

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for so many, but for others, it can be an uncomfortable reminder that they aren’t able to enjoy them like they used to. If your loved one has transitioned from independent or assisted living into full-time care at a nursing home, the holidays can be an extra sensitive time where worry of how they will celebrate or wondering if their loved ones will even include them in their celebrations is often the focal point of their thoughts.

It’s important that our loved ones know and feel that they are still a crucial part of our lives, no matter where they reside. From personal experience in watching our residents and their families over the last several decades enjoying the holidays together, Elmhurst Extended Care Center has come up with three very important ways you can celebrate the holidays with your loved ones in nursing homes this season.

Collect Holiday Cards

While your loved one might not have an entire house to decorate for the holidays now that they’re in a nursing home, getting them into the holiday spirit is easy to do by bringing in holiday cards.

Collect holiday cards from their friends and family and find a special place for them in their room at the nursing home facility. Hang them up on the wall or display them on a nightstand or dresser. Whatever you do, make sure your loved one will be able to easily see and enjoy them on a daily basis.

Thinking of putting together a holiday card yourself? Try adding a family photo to yours this year! Having photos of loved ones on display is always a bright spot that makes residents feel that much more at home when they’re residing at a long-term care facility.

Cook Their Favorite Dishes

Is there a specific meal your loved one always looked forward to each holiday season? What about special desserts or homemade recipes passed down through the generations?

While nursing homes do provide excellent, balanced meals focused on your loved one’s dietary needs, the holidays are a time when family traditions and special meals come into focus. Nursing homes residents often feel they might not be able to partake in those traditions any longer, so bringing in their favorite dishes can really make a great impact.

If your loved one isn’t big on surprises, talk with them before you plan to get together and have them help make a menu for the celebration. That way, you’ll know the food items they’re really looking forward to and can ensure they’ll be included.

Make It a Family Affair

If your loved one was used to large family gatherings around the holidays before they moved to a nursing home, celebrating with just one or two people can leave them feeling sad and alone. Talk with the other members of your family and see if you can plan a time where you are all able to come together to celebrate and give your loved one a holiday season to remember.

Check with your nursing home facility ahead of time to see if you can reserve some extra space the day of your gathering where your loved one and guests can feel right at home in your private celebration.

Whatever you do, make sure to celebrate! Even if you’re unable to bring the normal large gathering together, get as many to join as you can, and make the holidays in a nursing home for your loved one extra special this year.

Are you wanting to plan a gathering for your loved one this holiday season and need to reserve space? Give Elmhurst Extended Care Center a call today!

Memory Care: 5 Superfoods to Improve Your Brain Health

memory care

As we age, it’s natural for our cognitive brain function to slow. However, we don’t want to lose pieces of it or its function entirely. Sufferers of Alzheimer’s and dementia are growing in numbers rapidly. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive list of 5 superfoods to improve your brain health and ensure your memory care plan is working for you, not against you.

Add these five superfoods to your regular diet to improve memory care:

Fish Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids aren’t just good for your heart health, they’re beneficial to your memory care. One of those fatty acids is DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, and this acid helps keep the neurons in your brain running normally. DHA impacts the structure and signaling systems in your brain and allows your memory to function at optimum levels.

Keep your brain at its best by replacing some of the red meat in your diet with fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.

Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables

It’s always been said to ‘eat your greens’, but what you may not realize is that some of those greens are literally keeping parts of your brain alive. Dark green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli are incredible sources of vitamin E and folate.

Folate assists in lowering the levels of certain amino acids such as homocysteine in your blood, and homocysteine itself is responsible for killing off nerve cells in your brain. By adding these leafy greens to your diet, you’re stepping up your memory care and keeping those cells alive.

Avocados

Like our dark green friends above, avocados are rich with folate as well as vitamins E & C. Avocados are monounsaturated fats which allow increased blood flow and lowers blood pressure – two factors that have been linked with the cognitive decline found in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want an even better reason to add this fruit to your diet? It’s also chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, just like our fish friends salmon, tuna and mackerel.

Peanuts, Almonds and Hazelnuts

Diets that are high in healthy fats have shown positive results in staving off the decline in cognitive brain function. Peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts are all great sources of omega-3s, omega-6s, vitamins E & B, folate and magnesium.

If these stats aren’t enough to convince you to add plenty of omega-3s to your diet, this just might: People who incorporate omega-3s in their daily intake decrease their chances of developing dementia by 26%.

Blueberries, Strawberries and Acai Berries

As we age, our memory tends to age with us. However, research has found that blueberries, strawberries and acai berries are powerful contributors to assisting the brain with removing the toxic proteins that are associated with memory loss.

It’s no wonder that these berries made the list as blueberries are also a great food for lowering high blood pressure and boosting your immune system. Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, memory care is something no one should take lightly. Add these superfoods to your diet and improve your brain health.

Worried you or a loved one might be losing brain function? Read our post on the 7 signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s not to ignore.

Elmhurst Extended Care Center has a dedicated and certified Memory Care Unit for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. For more information or to tour our facility, give us a call today.

Why Caregivers Should Take Advantage of Respite Services

respite care

Being a caregiver to someone else can be very demanding and requires more effort, time, and energy than most people realize. When our loved ones are depending on us for assistance, meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, and regular daily needs, it can become cumbersome as we try to juggle these duties with our own lives.

At some point, you may find yourself feeling burnt out, mentally, emotionally, and physically fatigued, and desperately seeking a much-needed break. That’s where respite care services from Elmhurst Extended Care Center come in.

Allow Yourself a Break While Your Loved One Gets the Care They Need

When we aren’t at our best, it’s not possible for us to give our best to our loved ones. That can have a large impact in situations where we’re providing regular care for another person. While it may seem worrisome to have someone else take over your duties for a few days or even weeks while you recoup your energy, respite care services offer the ultimate advantage in ensuring you’re coming back to caregiving refreshed and renewed.

At Elmhurst Extended Care Center, your loved one will receive the same services and care that are offered to our long-term residents. It’s our goal to make sure you and they are secure in knowing that the care our skilled nursing team provides is held at the same exceptionally high standards for everyone that enters our facility, no matter how long or short their stay.

What You Need in Order to Take Advantage of Respite Care Services at EECC

Our dedicated staff members at Elmhurst Extended Care Center want to provide the best possible care for your loved one during their time with us. In order to do so, there are a few things we need before the respite stay can begin.

  • A list of their current medications and dosages
  • A copy of their health history from their physician
  • A copy of their most recent physical from their physician

There is a 5 day minimum stay for respite care services at EECC in order to allow you adequate time for recuperation.

Respite Care – Not Just for When You’re Worn Out

While respite care is definitely favorable for those caregivers finding themselves in need of a break, it’s also a beneficial method for providing the skilled nursing care your loved one needs when other circumstances arise.

You may find yourself needing to go out of town for business or wanting to go on that family vacation you had planned before you became a caregiver. With respite care services from Elmhurst Extended Care Center, you’re able to take the time away you want and need while feeling secure in knowing your loved one is being well taken care of.

Have you thought about what happens if you get sick? Generally, individuals receiving regular care are at a higher risk for succumbing to illness. Respite care is a great way to allow them to receive the care they need while you get back to health.

If you’d like more information on how the respite care services at EECC can assist you in providing the care required while you’re away, give us a call today.

Don’t Ignore These 7 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Elmhurst Extended Care Center has a certified memory care unit specializing in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you or your loved one is exhibiting signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, give us a call or stop by today.

We all experience “senior moments” and even in our forties and fifties, we can be forgetful, confused, and a bit disoriented. We may be able to attribute it to getting older, hormonal changes, or imbalances in brain chemistry as we age. After all, isn’t this normal? How can we tell if these moments are typical, age-related changes or signs of Alzheimer’s? Forgetfulness is very common especially as we age, but it’s critical to recognize when mild confusion or memory loss may mean something much more serious.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia. The disease causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Even today, scientists still continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems likely the damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear.

If memory problems are seriously affecting your daily life, they could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. While the number of symptoms you have and how strong they are vary, it’s important to identify the warning signs and ask yourself some tough questions.

1. Memory Loss

Do you easily forget information you just learned? Do you lose track of important dates, names, and events? Do you forget significant milestones even happened? Do you ask for the same information over and over, or repeat thoughts or questions to others often? Do you rely heavily on memory aids like post-it notes or reminders on your phone?

2. Trouble Following Directions

Maybe you have a “tried-and-true” recipe that you could cook in your sleep, but now you suddenly have trouble assembling it? Is it hard to concentrate on detailed tasks, or do you have trouble making plans and sticking to them? Tasks that require problem-solving and attention to detail might be especially difficult.

Another place you may notice an impact is in your financials — you may have trouble keeping track of bills, which will be more obvious if are typically diligent about paying them on time.

3. Behavior or Personality Changes

The mood and personalities of people exhibiting signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can change. Do you get upset easily, or feel depressed or anxious? While it’s normal for people to battle depression or experience frustration at times, changes in a person’s basic disposition or temperament aren’t normal and may be cause for greater concern.

Perhaps you or your loved one is exhibiting unusual behavior? Are you more prone to wandering, wearing clothes that don’t suit you or your environment, or engaging in “unsafe” behaviors?

4. Trouble Communicating

Are you having trouble following or joining a conversation? Perhaps you have stopped in the middle of an ongoing dialogue with someone, and have no idea how to continue, or you repeat yourself. Do you struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name?

5. Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

Everyone misplaces things from time to time, but can you retrace your steps to find them again? Do you put things in unusual places, like placing your wallet in the refrigerator? Do you accuse people of taking things that you later find you misplaced?

6. Decreased or Poor Judgement

Many people with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in judgement or decision making. You may even find yourself doing things that are very out-of-character and atypical of your personality. Are you using poor judgement when dealing with money? Giving large amounts to telemarketers or others? What’s more, you may be paying less attention to grooming or keeping your home tidy.

7. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person with signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. You may even have trouble keeping up with your favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. You also may avoid being social because of the changes you’ve experienced.

If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone you know and love, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence.

Elmhurst Extended Care Center has a secured certified memory care unit for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and our dedicated staff understands the challenges you face when dealing with these memory-related diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease progression can be slow, but the impact it has on families can be difficult to process. The most important aspect behind this emotionally-painful disease is that you are not alone. Rely on Elmhurst Extended Care Center to be your support and resource center.

For additional guidance and information for those facing Alzheimer’s and dementia, check out our regular Family Support Groups. Contact our facility today to find out when the next group will be held.

8 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Long Term Care Facility

Before choosing a long term care facility for you or your loved one, make sure you ask these eight questions.

When it comes to choosing a long term care facility, whether for yourself or a loved one, the decision can be difficult. It’s often challenging to know what to ask and where to pick, and the decision shouldn’t be made lightly.

We’ve compiled a list of eight questions to ask before choosing a long term care facility to make the struggle of choosing a skilled nursing facility easier to bear.

1. What are the staffing ratios?

Staffing ratios are a serious matter when it comes to choosing any skilled nursing facility. You need confidence in knowing that the staff isn’t stretched so thin that they won’t be able to attend to you or your loved one’s needs when they arise. Ensuring the extended care center you’re examining has more staff to handle the needs of the facility is key.

2. What are the inspection ratings?

This question is of utmost importance as it gives you an understanding of how the skilled nursing facility operates on a daily basis. Every year, nursing facilities are inspected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and put under rigorous examination to ensure they are properly rated according to the care they provide. Their rating reflects this exam, and it’s a number you don’t want to take lightly. Take a look at the top rated nursing homes from U.S. News & World Report.

3. What services are offered?

Not everyone needs a long term care facility. Some might simply need a short term care facility, others might be in search of Alzheimer’s care, and some might be looking for a rehabilitation center following a health event or procedure. Knowing the different services offered at a skilled nursing facility gives you a better idea should other needs present themselves down the road.

4. Are Medicare and/or Medicaid accepted?

Whether you’re in a position to need it or not, you should know the answer to this question. There may come a point in time that money runs out, and you’re unable to afford the long term care being received. Knowing beforehand if the option to utilize Medicare and/or Medicaid is or isn’t there could make a big difference for you down the road.

5. Are the care plans individualized?

Just like in everyday life, no two people are the same. Much in the same manner, no two people’s care plans will be the same either. Look for a long term care facility that focuses on providing individualized care plans so that you or your loved one can get the care you need and deserve.

6. Is there a RN available at all times?

What happens when you or your loved one needs attentive care in the middle of the night? Will a registered nurse be available? Or will they be forced to wait until the next shift arrives, or worse, be delivered care by someone unqualified? Make sure the skilled nursing facility has a RN on-site 24/7.

7. What kind of activities are available?

It’s important that you or your loved one stays active even when residing at a long term care facility. Find out what activities are scheduled, how often they occur, and if any are open to family members. Knowing that you can join in the fun with your loved one will be an extra plus for both you and them.

8. Are personal belongings allowed?

Making the transition from home to a skilled nursing facility can be a challenging one. Often times, the comfort of having something from home can make it easier. Find out if personal belongings are allowed in resident rooms of the extended care center you’re checking out.

For more info, take a look at this comprehensive checklist from Medicare of things to think about and look for when choosing a long term care facility.

If you’re looking for a place that fits all of the above and more, stop by Elmhurst Extended Care Center. We offer Alzheimer’s care, a rehabilitation center, long term care, and so much more!