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Touching Lives · Providing Dignified Lifestyles

 

Illinois Supportive Living Program a Blessing

August 27th, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

Rick Meredith is the Maintenance Director at the Heritage Woods senior living community that Gardant manages in Centralia, Illinois, a town located in the south central part of the state, a little more than an hour east of St. Louis. The Heritage Woods of Centralia campus features senior living apartments, affordable assisted living apartments and villa homes for low-income adults 55 and older.

Rick’s mother was a resident in one of the affordable assisted living apartments for about a year before she passed away. Rick penned his thoughts about the experience. He gave us permission to share them with you in the hope, as he told me, that it might help people realize the Blessing that the Illinois Supportive Living program is to seniors, the difference it can make in the quality of life.

I will let his words continue to do the talking.

Mom grew up in Milwaukee and moved to Glendale, California during WWII, to work as a “Rosie the Riveter” on B-29 & P-38 aircraft. She met my Dad, a Marine Drill Instructor, who had served in the Pacific. She married him after two weeks.

After 40 years of marriage, Dad passed away 30 years ago. Mom continued to work and live on the family farm by herself. Needless to say, she had a very strong independent (STUBBORN) streak. Mom had a stroke four years ago and still continued to live on the family farm by herself.

After much resistance from her, I eventually moved Mom into Heritage Woods. While she lived at Heritage Woods for only around a year, her time here was truly a blessing. Not only was I around her more during the day, the knowledge that she was being taken care of 24/7 allowed us more time to enjoy her company when we were with her. The activities and friendship of her neighbors and those who were raised during the same era as she, helped to keep her active and alert.

In hindsight, doing our best to keep her home as long as possible, really did a disservice to her, as she really thrived on the daily (Hustle and Bustle) of the Heritage Woods Family.

We are all aware of the struggle that occurs when we begin looking at moving someone from their home (comfort zone) and placing them in what they consider a foreign environment. Yes, for around two months after placing Mom here I was considered the Devil, by her. But even during that time she enjoyed the activity around her.

Mom did tell me some time ago that I did a good job of taking care of her and having her say that really meant a lot. While it was a struggle to get her at first to accept the move, I truly believe that if we had done it sooner, her deteriorating mental and physical status would have been slowed and she would have had a better quality of life for longer period of time.

In closing, Rick thanked the staff at Heritage Woods of Centralia and Gardant Management Solutions. He also extended his thanks to the “people who had the vision to come up with such a great alternative to a nursing home. Not only do our seniors deserve this but the blessings that we receive from being able to interact with, care for and love the residents who come to stay with us, are immeasurable.”

“May God continue to Bless the Vision that is Heritage Woods,” he said.

Heritage Woods of Centralia is one of more than 140 communities in more than 70 Counties in Illinois that are certified to operate through the Illinois Supportive Living program. The communities serve individuals of all virtually incomes, including those on Medicaid, who need some help to maintain their independence.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Gardant

Is Senior Living Supply Outpacing Demand? A Response

August 24th, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

The headline to the story that was posted recently on The Wall Street Journal’s website asked this question. Will the supply of senior housing outpace the demand from Baby Boomers?

The concern stems from reports from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) that occupancy rates for senior living and assisted living in a significant number of the major markets across the United States fell for the second consecutive quarter. At the same time, there considerable development of new communities underway.

Based on my years of experience in the industry and analysis of what is happening today and projected to happen in the coming years, supply might be outpacing demand, at least for a specific segment of the older adult population. Here’s why:

Older adults are waiting longer to move into senior living and assisted living. Despite all the attempts to attract a younger age group, the average age of individuals moving into senior living is now the same as for assisted living – 84. The only difference is that residents moving into senior living tend not to be as frail as those moving into assisted living. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the average age of residents moving into senior living apartments was 78.

Baby Boomers are turning 65 at a rapid pace, but they will not be reaching the age where they are most likely to move into a senior living or assisted living community for at least another seven to ten years. During the five-year period of 2014 to 2019, for example, the number of individuals 65 to 74 in the United States is projected to grow by nearly 25% while growth of only 6% (an average of 1.2% a year) is projected in the number of individuals 85 and older.

Most everyone in the industry seems to be targeting the same group of older adults – those with high incomes and considerable financial resources. Socioeconomic data from Claritas, however, indicates that as of last year less than 19% of the individuals 85+ in the United States lived in households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more while nearly 53% had incomes was less than $25,000. Among individuals 75 to 84 years of age, less than 27% lived in households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more while nearly 42% lived in households with less than $25,000 in annual income. Predictions are that the Baby Boomers will not be as financially well off as today’s older adults.

Research indicates that Baby Boomers will want larger apartments, more choices and more amenities, but will they have the financial resources to afford what they want?

There seems to be little in the way of product differentiation. Most everyone seems to be following the same trend that offering more dining options, gourmet meals, concierge services, wellness programs, and amenities such as a movie theatre, café, bar, club room and swimming pool is what is needed to attract more residents.

The Wall Street Journal article indicates that occupancy for assisted living slipped to 88.4% in the second quarter of the year.

By contrast, the occupancy rate for the senior living, assisted living and memory care apartments that Gardant manages grew from 94.6% in the first quarter of 2015 to 95.3% in the second quarter. Our average occupancy over the past few weeks is 96%.

The reasons for the strong occupancy rate percentage include…

Our management approach to put residents first in every decision we make, closely followed by employees.

Our culture that 100% occupancy with minimal lost revenue days is the expectation. Achieving or being slightly above budgeted occupancy is not something to celebrate.

Our willingness to focus on affordability. By focusing on how we can reduce operating expenses without sacrificing quality, especially in those areas that are most important to residents and their families, we can offer more affordable pricing.

The combination of high occupancy rates and our focus on expenses means we can offer more affordable pricing AND achieve operating margins that rank in the top 25% in the country.

To help us prepare for the future in the near and long-term, we also have partnered with CareMerge to implement a web-based HIPPA-compliant care coordination and communication platform in each one of our communities. Through the platform, we are able to capture and analyze key metrics such as hospital admissions, re-admissions and emergency room visits; chronic medical conditions; and resident compliance with medication regimes and doctor, lab and physical, occupational and speech rehab therapy appointments. The metrics will help us enhance the quality of care and be able to show managed care organizations, accountable care organizations, residents, prospects and their families how the lifestyle that is available in our communities and our programs and services are of benefit.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Boomer Generation, Gardant, Tips

Is Staying Put Always the Best Option?

August 14th, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

Just because nearly nine out of 10 older adults want to stay in their current place of residence for as long as possible, does that mean not having to move is always the best option.

The percentage of adults 65 and older cited above comes from a research report published by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the AARP Public Policy Institute. The report was published in December 2011 and was mentioned in a Redfin Blog posted this week on the HUFF POST.

The NCSL/AARP report goes on to indicate that eight out of 10 older adults believe their current residence is where they will always live.

In the Foreword of the report, AARP highlights its support of the desire of older adults to age in place whether this is in the home where they raised their children or in another setting in the community that is “non-institutional.” Aging in place is defined in the report as the ability to “live in one’s own home safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age, income or ability level.”

The Redfin Blog talks about assisted living services that can be accessed through computer applications so that “fortunately” older adults in most cases will not have to move as they age.

The ability of older adults to easily access services that reduces their risk of needing nursing home care certainly is to be applauded.

The Blog goes on to say that the applications can make it more cost-effective to stay at home rather than move into assisted living, depending on the level of care that is required.

Based on my experience, a key phrase when you are evaluating assisted living from a financial perspective is “depending on the level of care that is required.” The 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Care and Home Health Care Costs cited the national average cost for home health aides at $21 an hour and for homemakers at $20 an hour. For two hours of care in the morning and two hours later in the day, the cost would be in the range of $2,500 a month. The amount is just for care provided by a home health aide or a homemaker; it does not include any other living expenses.

Another financial consideration when looking at staying in your current place of residence versus moving into assisted living is whether any structural changes need to be made to accommodate aging in place. Are stairs an issue, especially for accessing your bedroom, bathroom and washer and dryer? Are doorways wide enough for a wheelchair or scooter? Is your bathroom designed to meet your needs?

You should also take into consideration such issues as. . .

The toll that caregiving can take on a spouse and other family members if they are the ones providing the care.

The social isolation that can come from living alone. More and more research shows that social connectivity as we age is a key factor to living long and healthy lives.

Will you be able to deduct some or all of the cost of assisted living as medical expense on your income taxes?

If you are a veteran, will you or your spouse be eligible for financial assistance for assisted living through the Aid and Attendance program?

The assisted living communities operated by Gardant combine comfortable residential apartment-home living with the availability of support services such as three daily meals, housekeeping and laundry, and certified staff on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide personal assistance and help with medications. There are plenty of opportunities for social interaction and participation in social activities and special events.

The focus is on helping residents achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible and on reducing the risk that a resident will need nursing home care.

As you evaluate your options for aging in place, I encourage you to at least take a look at assisted living. As Katie Roper, Vice President with Caring.com, mentioned in a discussion we were having earlier this week, a recent Caring.com research study indicates that more than two-thirds of the respondents who visited a senior living or assisted living community were surprised at how nice the community was.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Tips

Building Physical Activity Back Into Our Lives

August 6th, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

One of the questions that was raised during the recent White House Conference on Aging was how can we build physical activity back into our culture here in the United States.

I am not talking about strenuous high-intensity aerobic and strength-training workout routines. I am talking about natural physical activity such as walking.

Growing up for the first eight years of my life in the City of Chicago and then in a surrounding suburb, walking was normal. We would walk to see our relatives, to go shopping, and to go to church and school, all of which were a mile or more away. One of the reasons we walked so much early on in my life is that we didn’t have a car.

As I grew older, my only option if I didn’t want to walk to school, the park, the swimming pool, the library or a friend’s house was to ride my bike. We were a one-car family, and my Dad relied on the vehicle to get him to and from work.

Unless the weather did not allow, when we were not in school, we were outside playing pick-up games of baseball, basketball and football with whoever happened to be available. We played on driveways, in vacant fields and parking lots, on the street and in an alley. Where didn’t matter so long as we were outdoors playing.

The love of being outdoors and walking instilled in my childhood continues to this day. If I can walk rather than drive, I walk.

In a Blog that was posted this past Saturday in The New York Times, Jeff Gordinier recounts his experience with longevity expert Dan Buettner. Dan has studied parts of the world where people are living the longest and the healthiest lives. Walking is a common form of transportation among the people who live in those areas. Read Jeff’s “No Kale Required” blog about his dinner with Dan.

In addition to walking, I began doing Tai Chi nearly three ago. It is involves a combination of slow physical movements, breathing and meditation. Both my balance and flexibility have improved and I have experienced far fewer problems with allergies.

Research shows that physical activity helps us in so many ways. It helps our bodies and our minds. It helps in reducing and in managing chronic disease.

As Dr. David Fisher reminds us in his book “How To Keep Mom (and Yourself) Out of a Nursing Home,” the best way to keep moving is to keep moving. Loss of mobility dramatically increases the odds that you will need nursing home care.

This is why in the assisted living communities that we manage we strongly encourage residents to walk to and from the dining room and activities rather than get pushed in a wheelchair if at all possible. Staff members will provide the necessary assistance.

Residents also are able to take advantage of the exercise programs that are offered.

For adults 65 and older, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that ten minutes of physical activity at a time is fine.

As one of the speakers pointed out during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, life can be good at any age as long as we stay active and engaged.

How do we build physical activity back into our culture here in the United States?


All affordable assisted living communities managed by Gardant Management Solutions are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Gardant Management Solutions is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.

          

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Posted in Assisted Living Event, Tips

Observations about the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

July 30th, 2015

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

In a Blog I posted two weeks ago, my focus was on a question of mine that was addressed during a panel discussion at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.

The question was “will technology and in-home services reduce or increase social isolation among seniors?”

Today, I want to share my observations about the Conference based on my years of experience in working in senior housing and health care.

I was pleased that much of the focus of the conference was on how we can live fuller, healthier and more vibrant lives right up until we die and not on the perception that aging inevitability equates to becoming increasingly frail and ineffectual.

As Valerie Jarrett pointed out in her remarks as she opened the Conference, “we want to be defined by our abilities; not our disabilities.” She stressed the importance of dignity and stability in retirement.

Speakers talked about how older adults can enrich our society and expressed hope that we can look at the opportunities that come from aging.

I learned, for instance, during the conference that older entrepreneurs are more successful than younger ones.

I also learned during the conference that . . .

1. By 2017, according to Robert McDonald, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that there will be 10 million veterans in the United States over the age of 65. He noted that the VA offers services that are designed specifically to support individuals in their roles as caregivers, including webinars, workshops, training programs and a peer support mentoring program. More information can be obtained by visiting the VA Caregiver Support website at

VA Caregiver Support

The VA also operates a national caregiver support line that provides the opportunity to talk with a licensed social worker. The toll-free telephone number is 1-855-260-3274.

2. The 60 and above age group represents the fastest growing membership segment in the YMCA, said Kevin Washington of the Y. Going to the Y can help reduce isolation and can provide opportunities for older adults to engage in physical activity.

3. Three out of four people in the United States start tapping into their Social Security benefits at the age of 62. Their monthly benefits are much lower than they would be if they waited until they reached the age when they would become eligible for their full Social Security benefits.

Suggestions from the Conference included the following:

To create better health among seniors, we need to build a culture of prevention instead of treatment, finding ways to make healthy nutrition affordable and accessible, recognize how important emotional well-being is to good health, and build physical activity back into our culture. Physical activity reduces the risk and helps in the management of chronic disease.

To help those over the age of 65 who often have a hard time finding affordable housing that meets their needs, changing building and zoning requirements especially in regards to density and parking to make senior housing, and I would add assisted living, more accessible.

To help us better prepare financially for our retirement years, looking at ways to encourage us to save early and to save more for our retirement years.

In his remarks during the Conference, President Obama stated that “one of the best measures of a country is how it treats its oldest citizens.” Before Medicaid, he said, there was no help for those in need to pay for nursing home costs.

With that in mind, my biggest disappointment in the White Office Conference on Aging was its lack of attention on assisted living, which can serve as a wonderful and much more cost-effective alternative to nursing home care.

          

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Posted in Gardant
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