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In every family, there are traditions and Argent Court is no exception. Every year since our inception, we always host a family Thanksgiving event on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. We move furniture around and set up the building like a restaurant of sorts. Each family has their own table and we serve the traditional turkey and dressing and all the trimmings. I am proud of the fact that we have volunteers from the community but more importantly, we have staff who volunteeer their time to make certain the residents have a great time hosting their families. We have a local piano player who serenades the residents and their guests during their meal. We pull out all the stops with linen tablecloths and wonderful decorations. This is the most important day of the year for our residents because they get to host their families in their home and show off their children and grandchildren to their fellow residents. It is a wonderful event!!!
This year, one of our staff in the kitchen commented that it is so much work to cook all the turkeys and the preparation in general but the look on the faces of the residents interacting with their families make the effort so worth it. This attitude is indicative of people who have the heart of a servant which is what we typically look for in our staff. I am so proud of the traditions we have built here at Argent Court and I look forward to many more years and traditions to come.
The other day I saw a webinar on getting people past, “I’m not ready to move into an assisted living.” One of the reasons they cited people put off the decision is because they cannot handle the thought of having to sort through all their years of stuff. A lady I used to work with now has her own company called, Sort It Out. They actually come in and help folks go through their stuff and help with the transition from their home to a long term care facility. Some of the services they provide are packing, unpacking, locate screen and organize movers, but most importantly they help with downsizing from a regular house to an assisted living apartment.
This service is a dream come true to family members who are either too busy or live out-of-town. It frees up family members from having to use vacation time to devote to the rigors of sorting and moving. I am so excited this type service exists! Not only does it take away yet another excuse for people who want to move but it keeps the family from having to do it.
If you want more information go to their website: sortitoutsa.com.
I get people all the time who come in because a family member is being exploited and they want to look at putting them into one of our communities. Unfortunately, in most cases by the time they get here the elder has already fallen victim to some form of financial exploitation.
People too often ASSUME it is more financially feasible to hire someone to come into the home but the reality is it is far more expensive and it leaves a person vunerable to exploitation.
We’ve all heard cases where an older man is victimized by a much younger lady to the dismay of the family. She comes into his life usually after the death of a spouse, says all the right things and quickly gains access to his bank accounts, etc. There are people who do this for a living and unfortunately are very good at it.
At Argent Court, we are small enough to be able to monitor these types of things. If we see something we feel is not appropriate, we will contact the family and discuss it.
I recently saw a documentary starring Andy Rooney entitled, “Last Will and Embezzlement.” I would encourage all people to view it. One thing they point out in the film as a way to avoid having your loved ones fall victim to financial exploitation is to stay connected. I would suggest if you cannot stay connected yourself, have someone you trust check in on your elders often and make certain you know who they are communicating with. Make certain you have a good line of communication about money. It is sometimes a good idea to have a family member as another signer on the bank account so they can have access and monitor it regularly.
It is also a good idea in some cases to intercept a person’s mail. We’ve had several residents over the years fall victim to mail scams and also get caught up in donating money to questionable charities. This is yet another reason to stay connected.
The prevailing theme in preventing exploitation is staying connected with your elders. Know their routines, know their friends and have some idea about their finances. Exploitation can be prevented.
Recently my parents moved out of their home which they had occupied for 22 years. They have entered into another chapter in their lives. They are downsizing and moving into an apartment. I was happy they made the move as I was starting to see what a struggle taking care of the home had become for them. I was thankful it was their choice and that my siblings and I were not going to have to make that decision for them.
I have become aware of how my own parents have started to age and that we are starting down the road of quickly becoming the caretakers. My parents are relatively young 77 and 79 (by my standards) but quickly embarking on their golden years. I have begun to have mixed emotions about the role I am getting into shortly and have begun the conversation with my parents about what they want to do in the event they become incapacitated in some way. It was reassuring to me that my parents have done a good job of planning for their retirement and money will not be as much of an obstacle as in so many of my friend’s lives.
We discussed assisted living, and nursing home options and my mother reassured me that if she gets to the point she cannot be alone and cannot care for herself, she wanted me to know that she wanted me to do what I felt was in her best interest. I am both flattered that she has that type of confidence in me and scared to have to make those decisions. I know first hand it is much easier to offer this type of advice to my resident family members, but a much different situation when having to do it myself. I’m certain I will be faced with much of the same emotions my family members face. I had to deal with a lot of the same emotions when dealing with my in-laws when we moved them here to assisted living.
All of these encounters got me to thinking how lucky I am to be able to have these conversations with my parents and how important it is to do it BEFORE it becomes an issue. I see daily the struggles family members face when having to place a family member because somewhere in the past they promised them they would never place them in a long term care facility. The lesson for all of us children of aging parents is to have these conversations early and often. When the time comes, you can lessen the guilt and anxiety that comes with making these types of decisions on behalf of your parents.
Since I got into this business 14 years ago, I’ve been a firm believer that assisted living residents are basically no different than the rest of us when it comes to activities. I for one hate the thought of spending my day playing Bingo. I recently read an article entitled, “Beyond the 3 basics.” It talked about how the 3 basics of Bingo, Birthdays and Bible are going the way of the dinosaur in long term care. It states that today’s seniors are more sophisticated and demanding in their leisurely pursuits. There are elders who LOVE bingo but by and large we all want to know that we can contribute in some way to society.
At Argent Court we have made it our mission to offer activities that “matter.” What I mean by this is we like to engage our residents in activities that in some way “give back.” We have had groups that made quilts for the crisis pregnancy centers. We had residents that weekly used their time to listen to elementary school children read. And right after the United States went to war in Iraq we even made cookies and sent to the troops. We do still play Bingo and we do have Bible studies because there are those folks who do enjoy these activities but we offer far more. In addition, we like to offer activities that engage the resident with their families. We want to think our residents come here to LIVE; this is not God’s waiting room!
When I was in college we studied about the level of depression in long term care. One of the biggest contributing factors was when a person went to a long term care facility they felt isolated from the rest of society. At Argent Court we strive to engage our residents as much as possible in the community and honor their contributions. All human beings want to know that we matter and today’s seniors and our assisted living residents are no different.
With the economy being what it is, we are seeing more and more seniors waiting to move
into assisted living communities. Having been in this business for 13 years, I’ve noticed
a trend where folks are waiting longer. I’ve observed first hand there is a window of
opportunity especially with folks who are experiencing dementia. When families wait
too long, the senior becomes so demented they cannot make the adjustment to an assisted living environment and so often end up in a more restrictive environment like a nursing home.
I witnessed first hand a friend of mine who brought her mom to live in one of our
communities. After not seeing her for several years, I was astonished to see how she
had deteriorated mentally. She had been a university professor but now struggled to get
the appropriate words out. At first she was very upset her daughter had brought her here
because in her mind she did not belong. She didn’t view herself as a person who was
struggling mentally; she still saw herself as an educated, professional woman with no
issues with living independently. The daughter had a lot of moments where she felt so
guilty about bringing her here but over time realized it had been the right move. She is a
lovely lady and has adapted to her surroundings. If her daughter had not had the courage
to make the move when she did, I doubt she would have been able to come here.
These are just some of the issues we deal with at Argent Court. We remain committed
to providing the highest quality of care for our folks. Our guiding principles are to
provide the best care possible and to at all times maintain the dignity of the seniors we
are privileged to care for.
I came across an article recently entitled, “The Blessings of Friendship”, in the May, 2010 edition of Guidepost Magazine. It got me thinking about what blessings I see every day with the friendships that develop at all of our communities.
In the 12 years I’ve been here at Argent Court, I cannot begin to tell you how many wonderful friendships I have been privileged to witness. I remember two ladies in particular – one lady was from California and the other was from the Houston area. They both moved to Argent Court Seguin to be close to their families. They happened to be
next door neighbors and quickly found they had a lot in common. They met daily to play cards in the afternoon, ate meals together and just really enjoyed each other’s company. When one of them was sick, the other was there by her bedside bringing her comfort.
I feel certain it was their friendship that carried them through so many tough times. Scientific research shows that friendships and other social networking resources lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and
lessen the onset of depression. In addition, social connections decrease the likelihood of age-related dementia and other debilitating disorders, since interacting keeps you alert, mindful and accountable. I can tell you first hand, the people who have a lot of social interaction and friendships by nature are healthier and have less somatic complaints.
There is a saying that a good relationship doubles the joy and divides the pain. This was certainly the case with these two ladies and I see evidence of it daily in my work with our residents in Argent Court.
Argent Court was recently featured on KENS 5′s Great Day