Eldercare Issues Affect Productivity in the Workplace

I came across an article about how eldercare issues affect productivity.  It states that 23.9 million employees are providing care for a loved one while working at a paying job. What’s more, a Caregivers in the Workplace study by the University of California at Hastings reported that, “Nearly one in four workers provides eldercare, and half expect do so in the next five years. These numbers will only become more extreme not only as the population ages, but as the workforce ages, given that workers over the age of 55 are those most likely to provide care.”

Another website states:

 “Nearly 60% of those caring for an adult over the age of 50 are working; the majority of those work full-time” (MetLife Mature Market Institute & National Alliance for Caregiving, 2006, p. 5).

“About 33% of the large employers nationwide have an eldercare program to serve employees with eldercare responsibilities” (MetLife Mature Market Institute & National Alliance for Caregiving, 2006, p. 18).

“52% of the women (2,187,282) and 34% of the men (953,431) have experienced workday interruptions as a result of caregiving” (MetLife Mature Market Institute & National Alliance for Caregiving, 2006, p. 14).

“Small and large employers are equally likely (81%) to allow employees time off to provide elder care without jeopardizing their jobs” (Bond, Galinsky, Kim, & Brownfield, 2005, p. 17).

I know from my own experience caring for my parents, it certainly affects your productivity.  Because I was in the long term care business, I was fortunate to work for someone who understood the challenges associated with taking care of elderly parents.  I had the advantage of moving my dad to Argent Court when my mom had hip replacement surgery. I don’t know what I would have done if I had had to take care of him on my own with no support.  It was a short stay and he did well.  It gave me such peace of mind knowing I had the option of having him stay there and also my employer understood the challenges I was facing having to care for him.

Argent Court has respite rooms available in our communities if you have the need to place someone for a short period of time.  Sometimes the residents find out first hand, assisted living is just the option they need and it certainly helps the caregiver with their own productivity at work.  If you have any questions or if we can help navigate through some eldercare issues, give us a call.  We’re always willing to help.


A Day in the Life

I was talking with a resident the other day and I asked her what an average day looks like for her.  She started by telling me she does not like to get up early so she gets up when she feels like it and takes her time dallying around.  She likes to piddle by putting on her makeup, having her coffee and leisurely getting dressed.  She related to me that she rarely if ever goes to the dining room for breakfast, preferring to eat alone in her apartment.

She usually emerges from her room about lunch time unless she has a doctor’s appointment.  She really enjoys her table mates who she regularly looks forward to visiting with and catching up on the stories of the day.  She sits in the back of the dining room so she has a birds eye view of all the happenings going on.

After lunch, she checks her mail and then goes to her apartment for a little rest.  After she has rested, she comes to the activity room for a game of 42 or Skipbo.  Sometimes they even play for quarters!  She regularly participates in the activities of the day especially word search or other activities that exercise her brain.

She has regular visits from family and friends in the community to which she has lived all her life.  She especially loves it when her grandchildren visit.

In the evening after dinner, she sometimes enjoys a beer or two in her apartment especially if there is a Spurs game on.  She is an avid sports fan but she especially loves the Spurs.  In fact, a Spurs wreath adorns the door to her apartment as well as a rhinestone Spurs pin that she wears religiously.  If it is upside down, you know they lost the night before.

She told me that some evenings when the weather is nice, she enjoys sitting in the courtyard drinking a glass of wine with her friends and visiting about life in general.  They regularly reminisce about times gone by as a lot of the residents have been friends for up to 60 years or more having grown up in the same town.

She told me she loves living at Argent Court.  She related that the biggest reason she moved to Argent Court is she was afraid to live alone any longer.  She says it gives her such peace of mind knowing there is always someone there if she needs something.  She also said, it gives her family peace of mind as well.  She said overall she is very happy and really glad she made the choice to move to Argent Court when she did.

If you know someone who no longer wants to live alone, enjoys the company of others, give us a call.  We would love to show them around and introduce them to some new friends.


It’s Never Too Late

Grandma Moses, an artist who began painting at the age of 78 proved it’s never too late to learn a new skill.   She originally used her talents to do embroidery but when arthritis affected her hands, she took up painting.

Our activity director in our Seguin facility recently brought in the Seguin Art League to conduct art classes and we found out we have a few artists of our own.  One of our residents actually is an artist who regularly creates works of art in his own apartment with on his easel.  This activity surprised the residents that they could actually create works of art.  They were very proud of their accomplishments and it was a reminder to all of us that it is never too late to learn something new!

If you want to take a look, visit our Facebook page and see for yourself.  Or better yet, drop in and see firsthand the art as it is displayed in the living room.

What Makes Argent Court Different?

I have often been asked, “What sets Argent Court apart from other assisted livings?”  I think the most important thing that sets us apart is longevity of staff, meaningful activities, and trained and caring staff.

We have numerous staff that have been with us over 5 years which in long term care is unheard of.  The biggest reason I think this is the case is because we look for people with the heart of a servant.  In our Seguin community, the administrator has been with Argent Court 20 years.  We also feel like it is important to staff each facility with a nurse.  Our regulations do not require us to do this, we just felt it is a good practice.  Elderly people have a myriad of health issues and it is reassuring to know that there is a nurse on-call 24/7 in the event there is an issue.  We typically staff with at least one nurse but in most facilities, we have two.

We keep residents engaged in meaningful activities.  You can view the activity calendars from each facility on our website. For example, I have linked to the Seguin location.  In addition, each community has its own Facebook page where they regularly post pictures of residents having fun.  I have linked to our Seguin facility but each facility has its own.  You can see from the myriad of activities that each community has its own activities based upon the unique interests of the residents.

Each staff person undergoes an orientation as well as 16 hours of on-the-job training, shadowing another employee until we feel as though they are able to adequately assist residents with activities of daily living.  Employees are also required to attend online monthly training.  This is above what is required by the regulations.  We regularly bring in speakers from the community on a variety of topics that are unique to the population we serve.

If you have any questions regarding your loved one, feel free to give us a call.  We’re always willing to help.




The Perfect Caregiver

At Argent Court we strive to find caregivers who embody our vision.  Our Mission Statement is as follows:

  • Argent Court is committed to providing exceptional assisted living that demonstrates our dedication to improving quality of lifestyle choices for seniors, and at the same time provides reassurance to those who love them.
  • Central to our commitment is the element of personalized, responsive care for residents, extended in the spirit of service and an atmosphere of appreciation for those we serve and with whom we work.  We strive to assist and accommodate our residents in a manner that fosters their independence, preserves their dignity, protects their rights, respects their privacy and honors their contributions in life.
  • The staff is edified by the fulfillment of their “need to serve” others in our work together.  We adhere to the principles of professionalism, integrity, and team work.  We also believe it benefits both residents and staff alike to celebrate and enjoy good fellowship as often as possible.

In today’s world the struggle is trying to find employees because we have fairly high standards.  We require our employees to pass a drug screen prior to hire, along with a clear criminal history.  Also central to what we’re looking for is a person with the heart of a servant.  As the second paragraph says, we provide “personalized, responsive care, extended in the spirit of service.”

As I have told people, if we find the person with the right attitude, we can teach them the mechanics of what we need them to do.   We cannot teach compassion.  This is something they must bring to the table.

I have been really impressed how a lot of our staff visit residents while they are away from the facility in the hospital or rehabilitation centers.  They do this on their own time and it shows first hand this is more than a job to them – it is a calling.  In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “I believe there is a calling for all of us.  I know that every human being has value and purpose.  The real work of our lives is to become aware.  And awakened.  To answer the call.”

We have found our best caregivers are those that enjoy this population.  They must enjoy serving others and be fulfilled by their “need to serve.”  These are the qualities we look for in the “Perfect Caregiver.”

Licensed versus Unlicensed

I recently came across a news article about elder abuse.  It was a horrible account of abuse in a San Antonio home.  Although the article didn’t specifically mention it, I am almost certain it was an unlicensed home.  The woman was charging $600 a month to allow people to stay there.  The article lists the home as a “boarding house.”

Several years ago an “independent living” community in San Antonio caught on fire.  It was a multi-level facility and numerous people perished in the fire.  Several firefighters gave an account of people being evacuated who could not walk and had to be carried out.  Doesn’t sound “independent.”  Unfortunately, independent living communities do not have to be licensed.  It was further reported the building was not fully sprinkled as it had been grandfathered because of the age of the building.

Years ago, I had a friend who placed her mom in an unlicensed facility.  The owner was very nice and said all the right things during her initial visit.  My friend’s mom had pretty bad dementia to the point that she could no longer feed herself.  After several months, she noticed her mom was losing a lot of weight.  She discovered they were basically starving her because they were not feeding her regularly and she couldn’t feed herself.  She ended up taking her mom out and placing her in a nursing home.  She also reported the lady to the authorities and she was subsequently closed down.

At Argent Court, we are surveyed regularly by Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  for health and life safety .  Our buildings are fully sprinkled both in the attics and in the main facility.  Although we don’t look forward to these surveys, we realize the importance of oversight.  It keeps us on our toes and makes certain we are doing the right things and more importantly, keeping residents safe.  HHS has a website that you can compare assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities.  Of course, this website only has information on “licensed” facilities.

In the state of Texas, you only have to be licensed if you have 4 or more residents.  So many people believe that because there are fewer people it will somehow be safer and provide better care.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It may be cheaper and have fewer people but is it safer?  Do they have adequately trained staff?  Also, the one thing people a lot of times do not consider are activities.  Activities are very important as they keep residents engaged in daily activities.

The bottom line is you have to be an educated consumer.  Even at a licensed facility you need to do your homework to make an educated decision about placement.  At Argent Court, we welcome your questions and inquiries.  Even if you don’t select us, we’re happy to assist you in your search.


It’s All About Choices

In almost twenty years in the assisted living industry, the one thing I have come to realize is with the elderly people at this stage it’s all about choice.  I’ve tried over the years to put myself in their shoes.  They have been living for a long time independently and suddenly their world changes drastically through no fault of their own because of illness, accidents or some other life changing event.  They no longer can live independently because doing so becomes unsafe.  All of a sudden, their world as they have known it ceases to exist.  They now have to depend on others to make a lot of decisions on their behalf.  Some people realize this reality and yet others go kicking and screaming but at the heart of all of it is the loss of choice.  They no longer feel they have any choices or their independence.

I have counseled with many families about talking openly with their parents about how much they love them and they truly believe these changes are in their best interest.  I have also told them to have some things that they can still have input into such as what items they will bring to decorate their apartments, etc.

Here at Argent Court, we realize this phenomenon and try to allow residents to continue to have as many things as possible to choose from.  For instance, we have a set menu in the dining room but also offer alternatives.  We have some residents who “choose” to not come to the dining room for breakfast, they would rather sleep in.  When we have residents who we assist with bathing or dressing, we leave it up to them when they would like to have that assistance.  Some people like to bathe in the morning and others like to bathe at night.  We try to accommodate these “choices” as much as possible.  We have a myriad of activities at each of our communities and we leave it up to the residents about which activities they want to participate in and in fact ask for their input on what activities they would like.

We encourage people to look for an assisted living community long before they need it so they can be fully aware of what is out there and make an educated “choice.”   We are fully aware how difficult the transition to a long term care facility is and we are happy to help.  Feel free to call us if we can help in any way to make this choice the right one.

Music Memories

Last night I was watching a PBS special on Motown music.  They had Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, the Temptations and so many others.  This music  was popular when I was in high school and it brought back so many memories.  I remembered dancing to them as a teenager.  Some songs elicited some very specific memories.

This got me to thinking about how important music is to our residents.  There was documentary called “Alive Inside” I viewed it several years ago about how music stimulates memories.  The documentarian researches and finds music from a person’s childhood and has the residents listen and then discusses what memories the music invokes.  It is truly astounding.  The one resident at the very beginning of the documentary talks about how bad her memory is and that she can’t remember much.  The documentarian puts on a set of headphones with a song from her childhood and the memories start flooding back and she is able to articulate and discuss specific events from so many years ago.

I remember one resident in particular early on in my career.  Her name was Beulah and she had been a school administrator and was also a piano player.  She suffered from dementia and may have not known what day of the week it was but if you sat her in front of a piano and said, “Can you play, “Stormy Weather?”  She would say, “Can you hum a few bars?”  You would sing a few lines and she would play it.  She was amazing but yet she couldn’t remember what day it was.

There are also other studies about the power of music.  One is a book with the same title by Elena Mannes.  In it she explores how music affects different groups of people and how it can play an important role in health care.

We use music in a variety of ways at Argent Court.  We play music throughout the building and we are cognizant of what types of music the residents enjoy.  You can see by our calendar we also have a variety of groups that come in and provide musical entertainment.   We believe in the power of music and we work hard to incorporate it into our daily activities.


Alzheimers or Dementia

In 19 years in the assisted living industry, I have found that anyone who exhibits any symptoms of dementia are automatically labeled as having Alzheimers.  When I was in college, I had a professor who illustrated the differences between the two.  She said when you lose your keys and you can’t find them, that would be dementia; if you forget what the keys are for that would be Alzheimers.

One of the saddest cases I ever had was a friend asked me for some help with his mom who  had been placed in a locked Alzheimers unit.  He had visited our community and marveled at how sharp the residents were.  He said his mom was as sharp but she was in a locked unit.  He said he hated to visit her because the other residents were so out of it.  His description was they were catatonic. I asked whose decision it was to place her there and he said his sister.   I asked some more questions and told him I would be happy to visit her and give him feedback on what I found.

I went to visit and what I saw disturbed me to the core.  His mom was a very bright lady, extremely alert.  I was present when the caregiver came to assist with her meds.  The lady asked if the pill she was taking was for her hypertension – yes she used those words.  That was my first clue the lady was inappropriately placed.  The lady easily carried on a conversation and was quite lucid.  She talked about her care and said she was happy she could help out with the other residents who were obviously much worse off physically and mentally.  This lady would actually assist other residents.  She had the heart of a servant.  I walked away scratching my head on how such a sharp woman was placed in a locked unit.

I talked to the staff and they stated she was very sharp and indeed did help out with other residents.  I asked if she had ever tried to wander off and they said no she was quite compliant in every way.

Now I was on a mission.  I contacted the daughter who was responsible for placing her there.  She got real emotional when we spoke because she felt she had done something wrong.  I explained she acted with limited knowledge and I was there to help her on the request of her brother.  She said her mom had become forgetful and wasn’t taking her meds appropriately which is what prompted her to take her to the doctor in the first place.   I asked a lot of questions and what I came up with was the fact that she had taken her mother to a physician and he diagnosed her with Alzheimers so she found an Alzheimers unit.  I then asked what tests the physician had run and she said he hadn’t, he just talked with her.  I asked how long and she said about 5 minutes.

The pieces were finally coming together.  This lady acted in good faith based upon a diagnosis a physician had given her after a 5 minute chat.  What I was really angry about was the provider who was all too willing to place this woman in an environment she clearly was not appropriate for.  I  worked with the family to get her into a more suitable environment.  It took a lot because so many providers immediately were suspicious since she was coming from a locked unit.  I told them to tell the providers their “Geriatric Care Consultant” stated she was inappropriately placed where she was.

They eventually moved her to a Type A assisted living which not only saved them money but the resident was quite happy and had made a lot of new friends.  The move undoubtedly added years to her life.

This particular case ended well but highlights the need for an appropriate diagnosis and a lot of research to find the right placement.  Be an educated consumer and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.  Having dementia or forgetting things is not automatically Alzheimers.  A lot of people have confusion but can still be managed in a regular assisted living.  At Argent Court, we will not take people we do not feel are appropriate or who we cannot take care of.  In my mind, if the lady had a history of wandering, that would have been the only  reason to put her into a locked unit.

If you have any questions about your loved one, call us.  We’re here to help.

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.