5 Signs Your Elderly Loved One May Need Help

I do talks about how you know when you need help or an assisted living placement.  AARP recently came out with an article that pretty well describes some things to look for.   They listed 5 things:

1.   Fall hazard – a person is falling a lot

2.  Unfinished business – they have a lot of unpaid bills and mail piling up.

3.  Car accidents and tickets – they have some unexplained “dings” on their car or tickets.

4.  Isolation – they are isolating themselves.

5.  Change in appearance – do they appear disheveled?  Are they bathing regularly?

I would add that you really need to keep in close contact to make sure your loved one is not being taken advantage of.  I recently visited my aunt who in the course of our one hour visit probably asked me 20 times if I would like some coffee.  While we were there, she saw the mailman deliver a few parcels.  She brought them in and opened them.  What she had received were two packages from Publishers Clearing House.  One was a blanket/throw that you could probably pick up at Walmart for about five dollars.  It had an invoice inside that said it was $49.95.  The next box was a set of dusters that was about the same price.  The point was she couldn’t remember ordering and kept saying she didn’t know how they got her information to send to her.   If anyone is ready for assisted living or at least closer monitoring she is.  Her dementia is really bad and I fear she could be ripe for someone to take advantage.  I spoke with her about moving and she wouldn’t hear of it.  I did contact her family and let them know my fears.

Over the years, I’ve heard numerous stories about people being taken advantage of.  I’ve often said there is a special place in Hell for people who would do something like that.  I feel like if we see something like the above, we have an obligation to report to someone.  If you see that your loved one might possibly need assisted living or some other type of care, give us a call.  We’re here to help.




How to Live Longer

I recently saw a Ted Talk on the secret of living longer.   You may be surprised to hear what the most  common predictor of long life is.  In the talk, the psychologist reveals the strongest predictors are close relationships and social integration.  This is certainly counterintuitive to what we’ve been hearing as it rates higher than exercise, weight and even clean air.

The researcher, a psychologist named Susan Pinker traveled to the Italian island of Sardinia to study the fact that they have more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America.  She discovered it has less to do with diet and more to do with their emphasis on close personal and face-to-face interactions.

Having been in the assisted living business for the past 19 years, I must admit, this was no surprise to me.  I have certainly witnessed over the years that the people who have close personal relationships with family and friends seem to be happier and healthier.  They typically complain less, and have less somatic complaints.

In this video the researcher points out the importance of face-to-face contact releases oxytocin and dopamine is generated which is a natural pain killer.  She points out that having three stable relationships seems to be the magic number.  She goes on to illustrate that men who have had a stroke are better protected by social contact than medication.   There are lower rates of dementia in people who are socially connected.  In our culture, one quarter of people do not have anyone to talk to and social isolation is the public health risk of our time.  

At Argent Court, we are committed to keeping people active and connected through meaningful activities.  We strive to connect our residents to the community through weekly outings in the area to include lunch bunch, local shopping trips and library visits to name a few.  We also bring people in through programs such as reading with local elementary students and interaction with local college students.  As Ms. Pinker points out, building your village is a matter of life and death.  At Argent Court, we work daily to build and maintain our community or village.  If you have a loved one you believe is socially isolated and needs help with activities of daily living, give us a call.  We’re happy to help.






What To Look For When Choosing an Assisted Living or Long Term Care Community

I bet I get calls weekly from people who ask about what to look for in an assisted living or long term care facility. The first thing I tell them is to enlist the help of your five senses:

1. Sight – How do the people look? Do they look happy? Are they clean and dressed appropriately? Is the place clean? Are they licensed?

2. Smell – This is a big one. Does the place smell clean? Is there an odor of urine? I always love it when I give tours and the first thing people comment on is the fact that the building smells good. We work really hard to keep the place smelling good and that involves making certain residents are clean and that the trash is removed quickly.

3. Hearing – What sounds do you hear? Do the staff interact appropriately with the residents? Do they call them by their names? Are there activities going on? Do they sound like they’re having a good time? What are other residents saying about the place? Are people being summoned on an overhead paging system? This is something we don’t do because we are reminded that this is their home and as such, we need to treat it like their homes and be cognizant to that fact.

4. Taste – It is really important to taste the food. This is one thing residents look for and the one thing they complain about if it isn’t good.

5. Feeling – Does the place feel too cold or too hot. I always remind our staff to remember that we work in the resident’s homes, they don’t live in our workplace. At Argent Court each apartment has their own unit so residents can have it as hot or cold as they like.

Some other things to look for and ask about is what exactly can they handle in terms of care. People assume when they place a loved one in an assisted living community or long term care facility they are done. They will never have to do anything else. This is why it is so important to ask questions up front about what they can and cannot handle in terms of care.

I always tell people it is prudent to start looking for long term care options BEFORE you need them. So often people don’t start looking until they are in a crisis. At that point you risk not having an adequate amount of time to make an educated decision. Further, you may pick a community that does not have an opening.

If you have long term care insurance, you need to review your policy and make certain you know what it covers. I have seen numerous cases where people are very disappointed to find their policy may not cover what they thought it covered. You are always welcome to contact us and have us review your policy with you. Most policies for assisted living require a person to have needs for assistance with two activities of daily living. You need to know what those requirements are.

In summary, be an educated consumer. Feel free to contact us and allow us to help you. We are here to help.


Changes to Life

I recently stepped away from day-to-day operations at Argent Court. It was bitter sweet since I have been doing this for 19 years. I decided to focus on other things in life as my priorities have changed. The reality is I’m getting older and if this industry has taught me anything at all it is that life is short.

I recall years ago, I would take trips throughout the year with my husband who traveled internationally for business. When possible, I would tag along. I remember vividly several residents who would always say, “Do it while you can.”

Most recently I lost my dad. He was 84 years old. He and my mom both retired at 60 years old and joined an organization called Volunteer Christian Builders. They purchased a motor home and traveled the US building and refurbishing Baptist churches. After they got to the point that they could no longer travel, my parents always talked about how thankful they were they retired when they did and even more grateful for the opportunity to travel and spend time doing things they loved with like minded people. These particular memories have sustained my mom since the passing of my dad.

I have realized, life’s greatest gifts are certainly not things but relationships and memories built along the way. And…life is all about change.

Change is difficult no matter if it is good change or bad. At Argent Court we are keenly aware at how difficult change is and are ready to help whenever possible to make the transition as easy as possible for a loved one coming to assisted living. We are here to help.

If you have a loved one who you believe might be ready for assisted living, give us a call and allow us to help you.


As I was putting up my Christmas tree this year, I was struck at how many memories my tree represents.  There are those handmade ornaments from my children (who are now grown with children of their own), a painted ornament from a resident named Edith, numerous ornaments with pictures of my grandchildren and even a handmade ornament from my mother-in-law while she was a resident at Argent Court.  I really hate putting up a tree but absolutely love taking the opportunity to reminisce as I carefully place the ornaments.

This exercise got me to thinking about what memories would be represented by our residents if they were putting up their “tree of life.”  It is really fun listening to the residents recall memorable events in their lives, from the day they met their spouse to their experiences growing up.  So many great memories.

In one of our communities, we have a tree dedicated to residents who have passed away.  It is really a humbling experience to reminisce about all the wonderful people that have come through our doors since our inception in 1998.

At Argent Court, we try to design activities that will elicit memories of days gone by which help them process all the great things their life entailed.  One  of the activities we do is during June, we have a wedding social where residents bring pictures of their spouses (if deceases) and wedding photos.  We go around the room and discuss how they met their spouse.  Some of the stories are hilarious and certainly some represent a much different time.  During one of the socials, I shared my own wedding video where our best man, when asked to present the rings, pulled a CrackerJack box out of his pocket and dumped out the ring.  The audience howled and the residents got a real laugh as well.

Take a few minutes to reminisce with your family members as often as possible.  They really like sharing their experiences and it gives them wonderful memories to cling to.  We all love remembering the good times – our residents are no different.


Loneliness During the Holidays

Loneliness is the biggest theory behind elderly dying during the holidays. The following article talks about ways to prevent loneliness during the holidays. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/elderly-loneliness-during-holidays-148441.htm There was a great commercial by a German company in 2015 that highlights this phenomenon. The man in the video fakes his death to get his family together for the holidays. It is an extreme measure to take but obliviously in his case it worked out. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4_B6wQMd2eI

People have this notion that as long as their loved ones are with others, they are not experiencing loneliness. While this may well be the case for some, others yearn to be around their family members especially during the holidays. No one can take the place of a child or grandchild. People inherently want to be part of a family. Some things you can do with an elderly person to combat loneliness are visit regularly, bring children to visit as most elderly love children; ask them to help you with something they used to do and are proficient with. These could include quilting, needlework, carpentry and some other type of hobby. All people like to feel like they still have something to contribute. Asking them for help will make them feel needed and worthy.

I know with my own mother, I’ve noticed she really wants to be around family much more now that she is elderly. We are fortunate to be close and try to involve her in a lot of our day-to-day events.

At Argent Court, we have established our own traditions in all of our communities to fight the battle of loneliness such as programs that encourage new friendships and encourage residents to stay involved in the community.  But in the end, the only thing that matters to our residents are the relationships with their families. We can do a lot but nothing takes the place of families which is why we strive to have programs that include families as much as possible.

I hope that you will resolve this year to make more time for your elderly family members not just during the holidays but all during the year. Happy New Year from all of us at Argent Court.

Life in a Nursing Home or Long Term Care Facility

I was reminiscing the other day about some of the incredible people I have had the pleasure of knowing since my tenure at Argent Court.  While I was the administrator in Seguin, I had the pleasure of knowing a resident named Polly Moore.  Polly had been a nursing home administrator and we shared a lot of time together talking about her experiences.  One day she gave me a two page article she had written and I’ve kept it all these years.  Even though it references nursing home, the same things could be said about any long term care facility.  Her thoughts are extremely profound and it was great to hear from someone who was so wise.  Enjoy the read!

From the Desk of Polly Moore

Life in a nursing home is still life and should be lived to the fullest.
Though the body may be less active here due to physical ailments
and the mind involved with the suffering, there is probably still a great deal
of mental alertness that could and should be channeled. We who are so
bound to the work ethic must find a purpose for our activity – what better
purpose than mental health? One lady who had started a course in
conversational Spanish and had grown discouraged with the progress
exclaimed to the teacher, “Bert, just think, in two years by the time I learn
enough to converse at all, I’ll be 63!” To which he replied “How old will
you be if you don’t learn any?”
Again and again we are told that most people can learn virtually as
well at 70 as at 20. Much research has been done on this and many
examples are cited. The major problem seems to be motivation. Even the
most devoted teacher, scientist or doctor often owes a greater share of
motivation to economic pressure than he realizes. Robert Frost, the
venerable New England poet, is credited with the story in which in answer
to the question, “Why does grandmother read the Bible so much?” A child
pipes up with “She’s probably cramming for her final exam!” This anecdote
epitomizes the high purpose of man’s final years.
When all the poets and the gerontologist have had their say, the
crucial truth about the later years is that they give us an invaluable chance to
get our spiritual house in order, to let go more and more of the natural man
and to put on the supernatural one. it is the privileged time, after the toil
and sweat of the occupational years to get ourselves ready to enter the
kingdom of heaven – our Father’s house of “many mansions”.
If we truly felt that this life is 4a preparation for the next – if we truly
believed the teachings of our youth and believed in the bliss of heaven, we
would welcome growing old rather than fear it. If this were the case, we
would not dread old age any more than the college student dreads his senior
While it seems that America is in the midst of youth worship today, it
is not a phenomenon of modern times only. Emerson wrote “Nature abhors
the old”. We read that Charles Dickens so dreaded old age he dyed his hair
& beard, replaced aging friends with younger men and called himself elder
brother to his children rather than their father. There are many quotations
attributed to famous men to support the dread of old age. However, we can
find much in literature to give hope and anticipation for aging. The most
optimistic and best known and yet spiritually true is Browning’s “Grow old
along with me! The best is yet to be! The last of life, for which the first
was made.”
On his 77 th birthday, Winston Churchill commented, “we are happier —
in many ways when we are old than when we are young.” There are many
references used daily to remind us of the value of aging in various ways –
old friends, old wine, the mellow tone of an old violin, old books.
Job 12:12
Upon reaching her 50 th birthday, Lady Bird was asked her views on
aging. She quipped “I much prefer old age to the alternative.” Old age
should be embraced rather than dreaded. Should old age bring sorrow,
sickness and pain? God’s purpose is still there and we can still feel it’s
Christian blessedness. Physical infirmity and painful illness are endurable,
as countless saints have shown, if we can be resigned to them and accept
them as God’s will for our spiritual good.
As we reach the later years, we perhaps do have fewer mountain top
experiences and more aches and pains come our way. But pleasures are not
the substance of happiness. If we keep in touch with our Lord and pray
sincerely, “Not my will, but Thine be done” we can assure ourselves of a
successful old age – and probably a happy one. Old age makes real sense
only if recognized as a spiritual ripening. The later years give the human
personality the opportunity to develop spiritual potentialities to the fullest.
The later years put less emphasis on “the world and the flesh” and upgrade
the spirit. In the natural man, old age can only be a time of shriveling and
infirmity – to the spiritual man it is the last lap of an exciting race. The
Scripture promises “He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on
Thee” This is still true in our day, but keeping “the mind stayed on Thee” is
our response to the promise.

Meaningful Activities

quilt top
We completed a quilt top. Check out our antique machines!

picture churchpicture at church

At Argent Court, we are constantly looking for new and meaningful activities to engage residents. We play bingo and exercise but we also engage the residents in meaningful activities that make a difference. One such example in one of our communities,  we have partnered with a local Lutheran Church to help make quilt tops that get sent all over the world through Lutheran World Relief. Here’s a link to the website: http://lwr.org/quilts. We recently took a group a residents to church for the quilt dedication and it was great to see their reaction. They walked around picking out the quilts they had made.

No matter how old a person is, they want to know they have made a difference. Keeping our residents involved in meaningful activities is just another way to help not only the community but the residents. It’s a win win!


Assisted Living or Home with Family

Most recently I have begun to notice a trend. Families are taking their loved ones home to live with them. Economic realities are behind some of these decisions and some believe it is in the best interest of the residents. My experience has shown me that it is not always prudent to have a family member living with extended family. People underestimate what it takes to care for a loved one. It is a 24 hour a day job.

The national center for victims of crime reports – of alleged perpetrators of elder abuse, 33% were adult children, 22% were other other family members; 16% were strangers, and 11% were spouses/intimate partners (Teaster, National Center on Elder Abuse, 2006). Because of the stress of taking care of a family member, so often we see elders abused by the very people charged to take care of them. Older women (67%) are far more likely than men (32%) to suffer from abuse and slightly more than half of the alleged perpetrators of elder abuse were female (53%). (National Center on Elder Abuse Study, 2004).

Some advantages of living in an assisted living community are socialization. So often when a family chooses to keep a loved one at home, they don’t think about the isolation this arrangement will cause especially if the family member works outside the home. The elderly person is left on their own all day. Socialization is one of the only things that helps dementia.

I had a lady who brought her mom to live here at Argent Court because it had become too much for the lady to continue to take care of her. Her mom had lived with her over 10 years. The woman’s husband had recently retired and she wanted to travel with him but couldn’t because of caring for her mom. When she brought her mom here, she was overwhelmed with guilt. I explained to her that her mom would be fine and probably would blossom as a result of the interaction with other residents.  Additionally, I told her that it would change the relationship between her and her mom. She could return to being her daughter rather than her caregiver. Her mom lived here for several years and LOVED it. She had blossomed – just as I predicted.

At her funeral, the daughter came to me and said that bringing her mom here was the best decision she had made. She said the past several years had been enhanced because she returned to being her daughter and they had lots of great times together as a result. Gone was the guilt and the sense that she was somehow failing her mom by not allowing her to stay in her home.

While caring for a loved one in your home seems like a noble thing, it can change the relationship and in some cases lead to abuse.   Remember, caring for someone in your own home is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job.