Senior Living in MA

Senior Living considerations for the adult child of elderly parents.

  • Jul 3

    Are your elderly loved ones technophobes, or technologically timid? Have they eschewed the computer as something for your generation, and not theirs? If so, your family is not unique in that regard. That’s a very common phenomenon. Knowing it’s common doesn’t alleviate the frustration of trying to keep in touch with parents whether they live in their own homes or in assisted living communities.

    Many of us who fall into the category of “adult children” of seniors practically live on email and other “messaging” systems like texting, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Our corporate work environments hold email in nearly the same regard as our elderly mom or dad would a notarized document. Tradesmen and women rely on email to schedule jobs for their small businesses, and on the web in general to find new customers. Often, we’d love to touch base with our elderly family in between meetings or service calls, but can’t spare the time to give even a brief conversation the full attention it deserves–an unfortunate reality of our over-booked, over-scheduled, micro-managed world.

    Sending a quick email has become our defacto replacement of the old postcard, only thousands of times more convenient.

    The convenience doesn’t matter a bit if your intended recipient doesn’t use a computer. Buying a computer for an elderly parent who resists the idea doesn’t make a lot of sense to most people, either. Email options for people who don’t own their own computer then become limited to the free accounts available on advertising-supported sites such as Yahoo, Gmail and AOL.

    Teaching Mom or Dad to Use Email

    Do you have the patience to teach your elderly mom or dad about accessing an email account on an Internet-based service laden with advertising and spam? If they don’t own a computer, how often is it that they would get to the public library to log in? Chances are that many of your lessons would be forgotten due to lack of practice, and understandably so.

    However, if your mom or dad has moved into a particular assisted living community in Danvers, Massachusetts that provides Connected Living to its residents, they would be able to use a messaging system that was created for senior citizens. It’s an invitation-only system that requires that you be invited by the senior. This means no spammer can find their “email” address, yet you would be able to send them notes and pictures of the grandchildren with the convenience you’re used to.

    Even if your mom or dad don’t own a computer, this community has put in a computer “lab” exclusively for their residents. If you doubt your mom or dad’s ability to grasp the concepts behind the messaging system, there’s no reason to worry. The Connected Living service in this Danvers community provides several hours per month of “Ambassador” services. Connected Living Ambassadors personally help seniors log in to and use the messaging system.

    The transition between living at home and when elderly family members move to retirement communities involves plenty of new challenges. Communicating with your elderly family member shouldn’t be one of them.

    So if you are considering an assisted living community in Massachusetts, and live near Danvers, be sure to ask if they offer Connected Living to their residents.

  • May 30

    A lingering stigma prevents many from discussing Senior Living Communities with their elderly mother or father. Perhaps it’s not a really a stigma, but the reluctance to face a sad reality that mom or dad or aunt or uncle are no longer able to care for themselves, or their house.

    The circumstances can slowly creep up on your family… Perhaps your parent shouldn’t be driving any more or has already stopped driving, and can’t easily travel to a grocery store. Perhaps your parent or aunt has gotten forgetful, and shouldn’t be using a stove because they’ve forgotten to turn it off more than an acceptable number of times. Perhaps their doctor has contacted you about them not taking medications.

    If you live in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the Northeast, or anywhere the winters bring snow and ice, you probably experience an extra level of apprehension about slips, falls, and broken hips.

    For some, a calamitous event like a fall or a sudden illness thrust the decision about senior living communities upon the family in an instant.

    While you may see a frail, stubborn old person sitting in that chair, you have to remember that your mom or dad were once vibrant, young, and ready to conquer the world in their own way. If they are World War II veterans, they literally have defended the world in their youth. Admitting they need help in everyday life is an acceptance of the failing of their physical bodies. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s not easy.

    Indeed, some families communicate well enough to have already prepared “Living Wills” and discussed end-of-life matters. However, that seems more the exception than the rule. Let’s face it: few of us like discussing and actually considering our own mortality.

    Who is the Decision Maker for Senior Living Community Selection?

    As it pertains to the Senior Living industry, the last type of family is the most prepared, and the seniors themselves have been involved in the decision process all along. The Seniors have been able to discuss all their options, consider what services communities offer, and discuss them with their adult children. They make the decision for themselves.

    In other cases the decision maker gets dragged into research and the decision process reluctantly by family. Elderly spouses may have partners very reluctant to face their own failings. Parents may refuse to face the condition of their homes, or that they can no longer care for themselves. Or, adult siblings charged with the critical decision about housing for their mom or dad may have to coerce another into active participation. For many, the decision possibly reinforces their own aging which they’ve tried to deny for years. This reality check is unwelcome at best. The reluctant decision maker is either the senior or the adult child in this case.

    For others, it may take a “wake-up-call” to realize they actually do need help. They may experience a medical emergency, or a moment of clarity after narrowly avoiding a self-inflicted disaster, or a moment of clarity about the progression of a medical condition. There is an urgency to a senior community selection after a wake-up call, but the senior may still be involved.

    And finally, there are the decision-makers who are thrust into the role in an emergency. They have no time to carefully evaluate options. Typically unprepared adult children find themselves making decisions for their elder loved one who can no longer process the myriad options presented to them.
    Having no time to prepare in such a situation, the focus is on the fundamental capabilities of a community, with little to no regard for any kinds of extras a community may provide.

    As difficult and uncomfortable as it is, it is best to begin having the discussion with the elders in your family and your siblings. Will they move in with you? Do you have the room? Is your house accessible enough for an elderly parent to get around? Or, will everyone be the most comfortable if they live with their peers in a senior living community?

    Senior Living Options

    Once you begin to research senior living communities for your mom or dad or aunt or uncle, the number of options you will find may surprise you. For example, there are at least six senior living communities in Danvers MA, and 31 within a ten mile radius of Danvers, and 334 across the state of Massachusetts…

    Start the discussions as soon as you can so when the time comes, your decision can be based on all the most desired options, and not the least common denominator of capabilities of the communities in your targeted neighborhood.

  • May 22

    Whether in Danvers, MA, or other towns, most people decide on a Senior Living Community for their elder loved one based on three well-known factors:

      Community “feel”

    The first two, price and location, are pretty straightforward.  If you search the Internet for information on the communities, you’ll find plenty of nice pictures of beautifully landscaped, attractive buildings with a glowing description.   That paragraph or two, though, can’t really communicate the “feel.”

    Often how the community feels to the family during a tour is the make-or-break factor in the final decision.   There’s no second chance to make a first impression, and a caring family will notice whether the staff seems naturally upbeat, whether the residents, the people likely to be their mother’s or father’s new friends, seem happy or depressed.

    So if these are universal, why the focus on Danvers, MA?

    A Senior Living Community in Danvers has Connected Living

    One senior living community in Danvers has implemented a new program that has had a large impact on the Quality of Life of their residents, and has invigorated their community: Connected Living from the young company MyWay Village.

    Arising from the experience of its founders when caring for elderly relatives, Connected Living is a service offering that engages the senior residents of a community and helps them stay connected to their families.

    Connected Living “ambassadors” lead group discussions on topics relevant and interesting to the residents.  These discussions are based on what the folks at MyWay Village call their proprietary “curriculum.”  They have developed presentations based on historical events and trends that occurred throughout the lifetimes of the residents, and have the residents “complete the stories” with their own life experience during that time.

    Very natural and lively discussions arise, and the ambassadors incorporate new information relevant to the discussions in real time through Internet searches… even if it means finding a recording of an old song on YouTube.   While providing background to the discussion, this also introduces many of the elderly residents to technology and the Internet in a very non-threatening way.  Many interesting life stories have been revealed, and new friendships formed as a result of residents getting to know each other better through these guided discussions.

    Another important element of Connected Living is the secure electronic messaging system available to all residents of a community.  It differs from normal email in that any external party must be invited through the Connected Living system.  As a result, and often with Ambassador assistance, residents can get photos of their children and grandchildren as well as family update messages.  So far, when a community has signed on with MyWay for Connected Living, My Way has installed two or more computers in community “computer labs.”

    One harsh reality of aging includes the loss of peer groups…  And decreased mobility leads to further isolation before finally moving in to an independent or assisted living community.  When residents of a community get to know each other they rebuild their social connection, which has many benefits that are being proven through studies published nearly every month.   With Connected Living “classes,” seniors meet many of their fellow residents quickly, and this helps ease the often difficult transition into community living.

    So, if you are evaluating a senior living community for your elderly family member or loved one, ask if they have Connected Living.