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Posts Tagged ‘assisted living’

What You Can Do About the Flu

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

By JoEllen Bleavins of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Fight the Flu

Last year, the flu hit Illinois hard, with some hospitals being so swamped that they had to turn away sick people.

This year, the seasonal flu season reportedly had an early start. Usually, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu season begins in October and can last through May.

For older adults, the flu can be a very serious illness, in particular because our immune defenses become weaker as we age.

The CDC estimates that 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60% of flu-related hospitalizations in the United States occur in people who are 65 and older.

From information available from the CDC and my experience as a registered nurse, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting seasonal influenza and things you should do if you get the flu.

Signs of the Flu

Watch for signs of the flu. Symptoms can include diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, abdominal pain and cramps, fever, feeling tired and weak. Headaches and muscle aches also are possible signs.

Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

The CDC strongly encourages older adults to get the flu shot. The shot may not keep you from getting the flu, but helps with the symptoms.

This year, two shots are available for those 65 and older – a regular dose and a new high dose vaccine. The CDC is not expressing a preference on which shot older adults should get because the ability of the stronger vaccine to provide greater protection is not yet known.

Since flu viruses can travel through the air, avoid close contact with a person or an animal who has the flu.

Do not drink from the same glass or share clothes or linens.

Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands often, especially after they use the bathroom and before preparing and serving meals. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Wash the clothes and towels that you use while you are ill separately from the rest of your laundry.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Use tissues to blow your nose and throw them away.

Cover your coughs.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, eat nutritious food and drink plenty of fluids.

What to Do If You Get the Flu

Make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration is the biggest reason why people end up in hospitals. Dehydration can be life-threatening for people with health problems and for older adults. Without treatment, dehydration can affect your organs. Even if you feel sick or have been vomiting, suck on ice chips or take small sips of clear liquids often. Slowly increase the amount of clear liquids you drink.

When you feel hungry, begin eating foods that are soft and bland such as bananas, clear soups, potatoes and applesauce. Do not have dairy products, alcohol, sugary drinks or drinks with caffeine until you feel better.

Rest as much as possible. When you begin to feel better, slowly start to do more each day.

Seeking Medical Help

Contact your primary care physician should you have any concerns.

Contact your caregiver or physician if you are not urinating as much as you usually do, you have a fever, you continue to vomit or have diarrhea, or if your mouth or eyes are dry.

If you are living in an assisted living community, do not hesitate to contact the nurse or other staff member.

For more information on the Seasonal Influenza (flu) click here

Please do not hesitate to contact your nearest BMA Managed Community for details on their flu clinic or to get assistance in finding a flu clinic near you.

Jo Ellen Bleavins is Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of BMA Management and a Registered Nurse.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Advocating for Assisted Living on Capitol Hill

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Last week, I had the opportunity to join nearly 150 members of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA.org) in advocating for assisted living on Capitol Hill.

We met with members of Congress and their staff members, talking about what assisted living is; how assisted living differs from institutionalized nursing home care; and how assisted living is benefitting hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families across the United States.

Mike Evenson of Crimson Pointe in Rockford, Illinois, and I met with Patrick Ptak, legislative staff member for U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who represents the 16th Congressional District in Illinois. Steve Levy of Senior Lifestyle Corp., Maegan Bouc of National Research Corp., and I met with Stu Megaw, legislative staff member for l U.S. Rep. William Enyart, who represents the 12th Congressional District in Illinois.

We at BMA manage six assisted living communities that are located in the 16th Congressional District and five communities that are located in the 12th Congressional District, as follows:

16th Congressional District

Heritage Woods of Belvidere

Heritage Woods of DeKalb

Heritage Woods of Dwight

Heritage Woods of Ottawa

Heritage Woods of Rockford

Heritage Woods of Watseka

12th Congressional District

Cambridge House of O’Fallon

Cambridge House of Swansea

Heritage Woods of Benton

Heritage Woods of Mt. Vernon

Prairie Living at Chautauqua in Carbondale

Here a few key points that we stressed:

Assisted living provides a wonderful residential living alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home for individuals who need some help to maintain their independence but do not require skilled nursing care.

Assisted living communities combine apartment-style housing with the availability of personal assistance, help with medications, and a variety of convenience and support services such as three daily meals, housekeeping and laundry. Trained staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents also benefit from all of the opportunities that are available to socialize with their neighbors and participate in a variety of activities.

Assisted living is guided by a philosophy of care that embraces four key principles – Choice, Independence, Dignity and Quality of Life.

Assisted living residents are highly satisfied. Recent surveys indicate that 94% of assisted living residents are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of life in their assisted living community; 99% say they feel safe or very safe in their community; and 91% say they are safer living in an assisted living community than they would be living on their own.

Assisted living is a much more affordable option than living in a nursing home. As of last year, the cost for a private apartment in assisted living was nearly 53% less than for a private room in a nursing home, according to information in the Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs that was published in November 2012 by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

2012 Average Cost

Monthly Cost AnnualCost
Private Apartment in Assisted Living $3,550 $42,600
Private Room in Nursing Home $7,543 $90,520

We support strong oversight of assisted living at the state level. Currently, assisted living communities are licensed and regulated at the state level in all 50 states. The regulations and oversight should balance resident safety with resident choice, dignity, independence and quality of life. Strong state regulations should support informed choice, resident rights, quality staffing, appropriate building codes and standards, and zero tolerance for elder abuse.

If a few changes are required in a few states to strengthen regulations and enforcement procedures, our thinking is to push for those states to make the needed changes rather than for the federal government to take on oversight of assisted living, as has been proposed from time-to-time.

Adding federal regulations on top of already existing state regulations would create a number of drawbacks:

Federal regulations would create a one-size-fits-all regulatory environment for a constituency that is not one size. Seniors are all different and have different needs and desires. What might work in California or New York might not be appropriate for Illinois.

Federal regulatory requirements would increase the cost of care without any benefit of an increased quality of care or of life.

Federal regulations would reduce resident choice, which is one of the cornerstones of assisted living and one of the reasons why assisted living has become such a popular option.

Changing technology, changes to our health care delivery system and the aging of Baby Boomers will have an impact on the “next generation” of assisted living. States are much more likely to be able to respond swiftly to a changing world and consumer.

For more information on and pictures of the 2013 ALFA Fly-In, go to http://www.alfa.org/News/3436/Advocates-Tell-Congress-the-Story-of-Assisted-Living

What are your thoughts?


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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If On Medicare, Beware

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

LAw Elder Law Logo

If you are on Medicare, please pay attention. From what I learned on Saturday thanks to a Client Care program conducted by Law Elder Law of Aurora, Illinois, there are a number of issues and cutbacks to the Medicare program that are affecting seniors right now and more changes are on the way.

Rick Law of Law Elder Law

Starting last October, hospitals began to be penalized for excessive re-admissions of Medicare patients who are re-admitted within 30 days of when they were discharged from the hospital. There are two key reasons for the penalty, explained Rick Law of Law Elder Law. Rick is a Certified Elder Law Attorney.

First, the government is working to pressure hospitals to keep the cost of care down. Secondly, the government has come to the conclusion that too many doctors have been admitting too many seniors to the hospital just so that the patient can qualify for rehabilitative care in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility.

As a result of the potential penalty, hospital staff members are being told that it is their job to not admit those on Medicare as Inpatients. Rather, they are diverting Medicare patients to the Emergency Room or holding and treating them under Observation Status, often in a hospital bed in a hospital room alongside an Inpatient. This practice has an enormous financial impact for those on Medicare.

It means that the person on Medicare will be responsible for a much higher share of the cost of care for being treated in the hospital as Medicare Part B, which helps cover Outpatient care and Emergency Room care, has a much higher deductible than Medicare Part A, which covers Inpatient care.

It also means that the person on Medicare will not be eligible for any Medicare coverage for the cost of Rehabilitative care after you are hospitalized, even if you have been in the hospital for the required period of time. One of the requirements for Medicare coverage is that you have to have been admitted to the hospital as an Inpatient for at least three days, not including the day that you are discharged from the hospital. Being in the hospital under Observation Status does not count.

The Centers of Medicare and Medicare website, in fact, has these words of warning:

Did you know that even if you are in the hospital overnight, you might still be considered an Outpatient? Your status affects how much you pay for hospital services and whether Medicare will cover care at a skilled nursing home.

If you are in the hospital for more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you are an Inpatient or Outpatient?

Click here for more information on Inpatient or Outpatient.

Those on Medicare need to be much more conscious about contacting their doctor to be sure that they fully understand what is happening with their care, Rick said. There is the potential to lose enormous amounts of money and possibly your house. One client was presented with a $43,000 bill for her mother’s care in a rehabilitation center. The mother needed the rehabilitation following her hospitalization, but was not eligible for coverage because she was treated in the hospital as an Outpatient rather than as an Inpatient.

She was not alone. Rick cited information from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., that indicated that the Office of the Inspector General found that in 2012, 600,000 Medicare recipients who had more than three days in the hospital did not qualify for post-hospital skilled nursing facility Rehabilitation because they were in the hospital under Observation Status. The Center for Medicare Advocacy also reports that the new rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to go into effective Oct. 1, 2013 on Inpatient hospital reimbursement do not resolve the Observation Status issue.

Rick also talked about a letter that many patients are receiving from their doctor, saying that “we have really good news for you.” The letter contends that your doctor will be able to provide you “with much better service” as the doctor no longer is in private practice, but is now an employee of a hospital or a health care system. The concern, Rick noted, is that your doctor now has to follow the directives of the hospital. The hospital, not you, is now the doctor’s boss.

Michael Sams of Sams/Hockaday & Associates, Inc.

Michael Sams, of Sams/Hockaday & Associates, Inc. of Decatur, Illinois, talked about Medicare Supplement Insurance, which also is known as Medigap or MedSupp. Medicare Supplement Insurance helps to cover costs such as deductibles and co-insurance that are not covered by Medicare Parts A and B.

All Medicare Supplements are standardized by Medicare so the benefits are the same, no matter the company providing the insurance. Whether or not you will be eligible for coverage also does not depend on the company providing the insurance as Medicare, not the insurance company, approves coverage and the charges.

What is different is the cost to the Medicare recipient for the same Medicare Supplement Plan. Prices can vary significantly from one insurance company to the next. For example, the cost for the same plan for a 75-year-old female non-smoker in the Chicago area among three different insurance companies differed by nearly $60 a month. He recommended talking with a capable Medicare Supplement Insurance agent.

Sams also urged those on Medicare to be sure that they re-evaluate their Medicare Part D Plans during the 2013 Open Enrollment Period, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Not all the specifics are available yet, but your current plan is likely to change for 2014 even if you just allow it to roll-over.

Brian Timothy LeClercq, who is a financial advisor with Walnut Street Securities, Inc. and the President of the Village of Oswego, provided some tips on Long-Term Care Insurance.

The right type of long-term care insurance should include coverage for in-home care, assisted living, skilled nursing and adult day care. He highlighted coverage for adult day care because of the toll that caregiving has on the caregiver. Adult day care can provide the caregiver with relief.

He also noted that hybrid life insurance policies that include long-term care insurance are a potential alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.

As they advised, you need to pay attention.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Affordable Assisted Living Helps Him Maintain His Independence & Dignity

Friday, September 13th, 2013

By Amber Ellis of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Heritage Woods of Chicago - AALC Testimonial Contest - First Place - Phillip Bradley on the Wii

A testimonial from a resident of Heritage Woods of Chicago has earned First Place honors in the 2013 Affordable Assisted Living Coalition’s (AALC) Testimonial Contest.

Heritage Woods of Chicago is a BMA affordable assisted living community located on Chicago’s west side. The community serves low-income older adults, including those on Medicaid.

The testimonial was submitted by Phillip Bradley, who has lived at Heritage Woods for almost five years. Judges selected his story after reviewing hundreds of testimonials and photos that were submitted from affordable assisted living communities in Illinois.

Here is what Phillip wrote about his life since moving into the community: 

“I have had the pleasure of being involved with all kinds of building activities and functions. I am 69 years of age, and I feel wonderful about my life in “The Woods.” I have not only found that I can be assisted (by the CNA staff), but I am also happy to assist others. It helps me to help others — whether it’s in the resident store, delivering groceries after one of our many shopping ventures, or being the leading scorer and captain of our Wii bowling team. 

Being here helps me maintain my independence and dignity, and the penthouse view doesn’t hurt either. Chicago’s skyline is beautiful. I like the beautiful surroundings with trees and our wonderful backyard. J.J., our wonderful maintenance director, helped me piece together my apartment and really make it a place to call home. The staff is helpful, friendly and always there when you need them. 

I volunteer in our resident store and have the opportunity to witness people having their needs met and interacting with one another. I also belong to the cooking club and enjoy helping in preparation and cleaning up after some great meals. I enjoy the friends that I have made while here and look forward to making new friends. Camaraderie and having someone there is so important at this stage in life and can’t be taken for granted. I really am happy to have a supportive living family to belong to and a place to call home.” 

The AALC is a non-profit membership organization made up of individuals and entities that develop and/or operate affordable assisted living projects through the Illinois Supportive Living program. The 2013 contest winners are recognized for using pictures and words to tell some of the great stories that happen every day in assisted living communities across the state.

Visit the AALC Website for more information about the contest and a complete list of this year’s winners.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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Cause for Special Celebration: Two Turn 106

Friday, September 6th, 2013

By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.

Last weekend was cause for special celebration for two residents of BMA assisted living communities.

Heritage Woods of McHenry Resident Gertrude Worth

Gertrude Worth (top right), a resident of Heritage Woods of McHenry, and Lelia Donelson (bottom right), a resident of Heritage Woods of McLeansboro, both turned 106 years of age.

Gertrude celebrated her 106th birthday with a big party at Heritage Woods of McHenry. She was surrounded by her family, friends and residents and staff of the affordable assisted living community as McHenry Mayor Susan Low read a proclamation in her honor.

Gertrude, who is a native of Mt. Carmel, Illinois, is the oldest of three children. She has lived at Heritage Woods since the community opened five years ago. She loves to get dressed up for large gatherings in the community and enjoys reading, putting together puzzles, spending time with family – and her parakeet Harriet, who lives with Gertrude in her Heritage Woods apartment.

Recently, Gertrude – who has five children, 12 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren – welcomed her first great-great grandchild. She has a special connection with the new addition; the baby was due on Sept. 1 – her birthday.

The former Chevrolet Motor Sales secretary has fond memories of her past, including a three-month trip to Europe and the concerts she attended with Ralph, her husband of 53 years, in Woodstock. She is an active resident with a kind soul – and she looks much younger than her 106 years.

Laughter – and a good sense of humor – are what Gertrude says have helped her live a long, healthy life.

Heritage Woods of McLeansboro resident Lelia Donelson

Heritage Woods of McLeansboro hosted a special Birthday Party for Lelia last Friday.

McLeansboro Mayor Dick Deitz, who presented Lelia with a key to the city when she turned 100, came back to Heritage Woods for Lelia’s 106th Birthday Celebration. He presented her with a framed proclamation that recognized her as the oldest registered voter in Hamilton County.

Lelia was touched by the proclamation and the party. Through tears, she told the Mayor and her guests thank you for giving her a birthday party she will never forget.

A favorite among residents of Heritage Woods, Lelia is known for her contagious smile. An avid dominoes player, Leila loves to sit outside in the sunshine. Her family lives nearby, and they stop in often to visit Lelia and to play the piano, sing and entertain the residents.

At 106, she continues to maintain an active lifestyle and that makes her happy. She says that it’s hard not to keep smiling when life has been this good to you.


All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. 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.

“BMA Management, Ltd. 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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