Atlanta Habitat for Humanity and National Church Residences are partnering to offer additional services to Habitat’s Repair with Kindness program participants who are age 55 or older. These benefits can help them live independently and stay in their homes for life. The Repair with Kindness program helps qualified homeowners make critical home repairs that reduce health or safety hazards or improve weatherization for residents.
A National Church Residences Service Coordinator meets with homeowners identified by Habitat for Humanity and uses Care Guide to assess the needs of community seniors. This program is a great addition to what National Church Residences is doing in the building in Atlanta. This program enables us to reach those who may not live in our buildings but need help identifying services.
Many seniors prematurely enter nursing facilities because they are unaware of the services that are available to them or they have no one to assist them. Our Service Coordinator visits these residents in their homes and helps determine what each person needs. Recognizing that every person is unique, the Service Coordinator takes time to get to know the resident’s health and social needs. They then can arrange a variety of services, including Home Health, Legal Aid Referrals, Budgeting and Financial Literacy training, Emotion Support and more.
This partnership with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity allows us to extend our reach in the Greater Atlanta and surrounding communities, helping us to continue with our mission to enable seniors to stay home for life.
Pumpkins, crisp air, apples, football. Fall began last weekend. With September being #IntergenerationalMonth, it’s the perfect season to spend time with seniors. Consider these activities and share time with your loved ones:
A great activity to do with seniors is decorating pumpkins. You can decorate by carving, painting or creating a special arrangement. Get creative with your loved ones or make it a contest to see who can make the best one.
Attend a Fall Festival
Fall festivals are a fun intergenerational activity. At a local festival, there’s something for everyone to do. Drink apple cider or eat fall flavored donuts. Go through a corn maze or watch live music. Find a local fall festival here.
Bake Fall Treats
What an amazing way to celebrate fall with your loved ones. Baking fall treats brings all smells and flavors of fall into your home. You can use inspiration from your visit to the fall festival or try one of these treats.
Take A Walk
Taking a stroll through the woods is beautiful during the fall. Going for a walk allows you to bond with your seniors and hear stories from them. Walking is also good for heart health! Our residents at Inniswood Village live next to the gorgeous Inniswood Metro Park. These residents can invite their families to come and walk Chipmunk Trail with them and to enjoy the beauty of the fall foliage. Find a park near your community.
What are your favorite fall activities for your family? Leave a comment below!
Quality time with multiple generations is beneficial for families. When children and young adults spend time with older adults and seniors, it can create a sense of bonding that strengthens families and provides benefits for both parties.
For children, intergeneration activities help build self-esteem, social skills, and happier, healthier attitudes about the future and aging adults. They gain the opportunity to hear stories from the elders in their family and gather wisdom beyond their years.
For seniors, these intergenerational activities create a sense of joy and fulfillment. Spending time with their children and grandchildren helps promote mental health and helps strengthen the body.
September is Intergenerational Month and it is a great time to begin to think about different activities that families can do together to strengthen intergenerational bonding.
Cooking is a great way to bond with your loved ones. Discover a new recipe or share an old family recipe. By using cooking to bond, children gain new skills and older adults get the opportunity to continue to teach those younger.
Experience the Community
Every community is unique and has gems. By discovering these together, it creates memories for both the young and older. Visit the local library, take a class, go to a show (even a high school play!).
Music is a timeless way to bond generations. Sharing music allows the younger generation to experience things that the older generation treasures. The experiences that we have with music transcends generations. Listening to songs that each one likes or playing instruments together is the perfect intergenerational activity.
Sharing stories is important in bonding. The older generation gets the opportunity to share stories about their childhood and the things that they hold dear. These stories are great ways to capture memories as older ones may pass on.
At National Church Residences, we promote intergenerational activities with our seniors by partnering with the community and through our adult day programs. If you’d like to volunteer and get involved with our seniors, visit our website for more information.
It’s important to have a plan for emergency situations when aging parents depend on you for care. Even if they are in great physical health, it’s best to be prepared in the event of a sudden illness or accident. You need to make sure you or someone else is legally able to help them in an emergency.
When gathering emergency information from your parents, be considerate to not overwhelm or scare them. You can ask questions and gather information or needed documents over a few conversations instead of all at once.
Here are some important items you should have on hand about your aging parent in case an emergency situation happens. It’s better to be prepared and informed than to scramble to find it in a crisis.
Know your parents’ neighbors, close friends, and place of worship
Find out the full names and phone numbers of your parents’ neighbors and closest friends. Share your name and contact numbers in the event of an emergency they may need to reach you. You may even consider asking your parents to have you listed as their emergency contact in their cellphone if they have one or on a note on their refrigerator.
Also, if you don’t have an emergency key to your parents’ home already, ask if you or someone else may have a one.
Know the name and phone number of your parents’ place of worship and their clergy person. Share your full name and contact info with the church office to save in an emergency file.
Know basic medical information
It’s important to have a list of basic medical information for your parents, such as:
Their doctors’ contact information, including any conditions they are treating.
Prescription medications, dosage and what it’s treating.
All over-the-counter medications taken regularly, including any herbal medications and vitamins.
List of all allergies.
Other useful information to know is:
Major medical problems
Prior surgeries and major medical procedures
Ask your parents who has been designated as their Medical Power of Attorney. This person will make medical decisions on your parents’ behalf if they are temporarily incapacitated. If you are the Medical Power of Attorney, have the document that states this in your possession and make sure that one resides in all your parents’ medical records. If it is someone else, find out their contact information.
Also, talk to your parents about Advance Directives. This ensures your parents’ medical wishes are fulfilled even if they are unable to make health care decisions for themselves. Federal law states that each patient is in charge of their own medical care and medical decisions.
Identify an emergency plan for finances, dependents, and pets
Even if your parents are in the hospital, there will still be bills in the mailbox to pay. If your parents have designated someone as Durable Power of Attorney, it empowers this person to legally pay bills on your parents’ behalf, access a bank account and sign one of their checks. It’s important to have a list of when bills are due to avoid late fees or having utilities turned off.
Also, you should know the location of your parents’ financial records if they need to be accessed and the location of their will.
If your parents have any dependents in their care, such as a sibling with medical or mental health issues, there should be an emergency plan for their care in the event your parents are unable to provide care. And, don’t forget about any pets. If your parent has a pet, plan ahead who will care for the pet in case of an emergency.
At National Church Residences, our vision is to advance better living for all seniors, enabling them to remain home for life. Through this blog, our goal is to allow you to see the heart and soul of who we are as an organization. We will do this by sharing the National Church Residences way with you, inviting you into our stories and providing resources that educate caregivers, enabling seniors to enjoy their lives.
In this section, you can find stories about our residents, our volunteers, and our mission. The residents of National Church Residences have incredible stories to share. From war veterans to pillars of the community, to the formerly homeless, sharing the stories of our people will allow you to get to know who we are.
Here you’ll also meet our wonderful volunteers. Our volunteers make up the fabric of our organization and are an integral part of all we do.
Sharing stories of our mission invites you to connect with what we do. Our mission drives everything we seek to accomplish as an organization, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Health and Wellness
In Health and Wellness, we want to engage senior citizens. Here we will provide solutions to common healthcare issues to help seniors find the answers they need.
With the number of seniors rapidly increasing, many adult children are caregivers to their aging parents. Here you’ll find information and resources to help care for your special senior and keep them home, engaged, happy, and healthy.
Look for a new blog post every week. Don’t miss a post. Subscribe and get blog posts directly in your inbox. In the meantime, feel free to read previous posts.
We want you to be a part of the National Church Residences mission. Feel free to leave a comment, suggest a topic, ask a question, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re excited to share National Church Residences with you!
Conversations between an aging parent and their grown child can be frustrating as the parent ages. Roles have reversed and the grown child is now taking the place as the caregiver for their parent. Instead of asking a parent a question such as, “How was your day?” or “Can you give me advice on…”, grown children will ask “Did you take your medicine today?” or “Why would you do that?”
When communicating with aging parents it’s important to remember their life is rapidly changing and they are trying to maintain a sense of independence. It’s difficult for seniors to rely on others for care and to help solve their problems when they maintained control of their own life before.
Here are helpful tips to keep in mind when communicating with aging parents to keep your relationship healthy and to make the most of your time together.
Take time and be respectful. While adult children are caught up in the demands of family, work, and finances, their parents’ lives have slowed down. They have less of a sense of urgency to get things done and may take time to make decisions. It’s not always about being slow or a diminished capacity. This can be frustrating, but remember, parents have a lifetime of experience to draw from and want to make the best decision, instead of the fastest. Be respectful of their slower approach so they won’t think you are trying to control them.
Make time and listen. A quick phone call to check-in or help out with chores is helpful for your parents, however, these aren’t quality moments to build your relationship. Make time to have quality days with your parents, even one-on-one, to talk and listen. Let your parents guide the discussion and listen and ask open-ended questions. You’ll be surprised what you will learn about your parent, their life and present concerns
Reminisce about life. Adult children may think they know their parent, but when you take the time to reminisce about life with them you’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn. Ask questions to learn more about the situations they faced, people they met or places they lived or visited. These life stories are important for families to understand and appreciate who they are.
Ask for advice. Parents are used to their children coming to them for advice or help, and it’s tough to no longer be consulted by your grown children as you age. While the type of advice a grown child is looking for may have changed, look for opportunities to ask “What do you think of this Mom?” or “Dad, what’s more important to you?”
While these are simple tips, these will help you understand more about your parent’s past and what they are going through day-to-day as they age.
It can be difficult for an aging parent to accept that it’s time for them to move from their own home to the home of their adult child, a retirement village, assisted living or long-term care. According to AARP, over 80% of U.S. residents over 45 say they want to remain in their own homes even when they need assistance. Most seniors see moving from their home as a big step to losing their independence.
It’s best to begin this conversation with your parents, no matter their age, before a crisis situation. By keeping the lines of communication open over time this can be a shared decision between parents and their children. Here are some communications tips to keep in mind as you talk with your parent about them moving from their home.
Respectful and regular conversations. Regardless of your parent’s age or health, it’s important to have respectful and regular conversations with them about their plans for the future. This authentic interest and involvement in their life will show them you love them and have a genuine desire for them to age gracefully in a caring community.
Be their advocate. It’s important for your parent to see that you are their advocate and concerned about their health and safety. Have honest conversations with your parent that show you want to be a part of decisions throughout their aging process. If your parent is interested, set aside time to visit care options with them. Take the burden off your parent’s shoulders and do your own research on care options. [LINK TO BLOG POST CARE OPTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR AGING PARENTS] Ask your parent questions throughout the visits, such as “What do you think? Do you like it here?” Throughout the process of selecting a care option, be your parent’s advocate and ask many questions to determine if it is the right fit for your parent.
Back off if needed. Some parents may completely refuse to entertain the idea of moving, but it’s important not to give up. Back off if needed, but don’t give up. Look for other opportunities to bring it up in conversation, such as, “It worries me when…”
Involve siblings and health care providers. Siblings and health care providers should be involved in the discussion of your parent moving. It’s very important for siblings to be on the same page about your parent’s future home. One unwilling sibling can make it impossible to convince your parent. Also, a parent’s health care provider often will have more persuasion than an adult child. You can ask to attend a doctor appointment with your parent or call the physician’s office to have a note put in their file to discuss care options.
Avoid other issues. Often conversations with parents about moving can bring up other family issues. If this happens, avoid these conversations and focus on what is best for your parent.
While it may take a lot of time and patience to convince a parent to move, there’s a great sense of peace for both the parent and adult child when you find and choose the right care option.
GREELEY, Colorado – Bonnie Dietz and her friends often gather in the lounge at Birchwood Apartments to play cards.
One afternoon nearly three months ago, Jane Schwarz, the building’s National Church Residences Service Coordinator, stopped by the group to check in.
“The lounge is right outside of Jane’s office,” Bonnie said. “She came out and talked to me for a minute and she said, ‘when you get finished with your card game, I want to talk to you.’”
Jane had a question for Bonnie that, at the time, seemed odd. However, it turned out to be a question that may have saved Bonnie’s life.
“Out of the blue she said, ‘have you seen a urologist?’” Bonnie said. “I thought, what’s going on? I have had a bit of kidney problems along with my diabetes. I didn’t know Jane was interested in this. I knew she knew about it. But I puzzled over it for a while. I thought it must just be something she needs to know.”
What Jane was doing was utilizing Care Guide, National Church Residences’ innovative program designed to create better long-term health care outcomes for our residents.
“Sometimes I pull up Care Guide and just look at what I wrote last quarter and I ask residents if they’re still going through the same things. I ask them, ‘are you still doing this or that?’ Or ‘are you still on the same amounts of this medication?’ Or just, ‘how are you feeling?’” Jane said. “Then sometimes they start telling you more about other things.”
Because of Jane’s question, Bonnie decided it might be time for a visit to her primary care physician for a check-up.
“It did instigate me to call and make an appointment,” Bonnie said. “I went in to see him on Feb. 1. He said my diabetes is fine and my blood pressure is fine. They took some lab work. Then he called the next day and said get over to the nephrology clinic because you’ve got some problems.”
Bonnie went to see the nephrologist – a doctor that specializes in kidney care – and found out some shocking news.
“I went over there and they tested my kidneys,” she said. “They said I was down to 30 percent of my function. Anything below that and you have to start thinking about dialysis.”
Shortly after hearing this diagnosis, Bonnie made an appointment with Jane to help her figure out Colorado’s Food Tax Rebate paperwork.
“I thought I was in trouble. She said, ‘first, I want to talk to you,’” Jane said. “She asked me why I had asked her about kidney disease. I explained that it was one of the chronic conditions that we follow up on in Care Guide.”
“I didn’t know that the Service Coordinator did that,” Bonnie said. “She was so tickled that her question had spurred me to go and see the doctor.”
Bonnie’s primary care physician gave her some recommendations on how to help strengthen her kidneys and avoid having to start dialysis.
Bonnie, who is 83 years old, has lived in a few different senior citizen apartment complexes.
“I was a cook in hospitals and nursing homes when I lived in Kansas,” she said. “Before that we were farmers. We had a farm and raised a family here (in Colorado).”
After her husband of 33 years passed away, Bonnie chose to move into an apartment. It wasn’t until she arrived at Birchwood Apartments, however, that she was introduced to a Service Coordinator.
“It’s really helpful,” she said. “There’s so much paperwork and things anymore that she can help me with. I don’t have a car and have to find transportation. It really is a help to have her here. She provides workshops during the week for different things. Right now there’s a living healthy workshop that comes once a week and we go attend that. It’s a real help.”
Jane said that as a National Church Residences Service Coordinator, it was exciting to see the work she does pay off in such a direct way.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see an action when you’re helping somebody because you don’t see the reaction,” she said. “In this case I did and I saw it come full-circle. It was exciting for me to see that take shape.”
Birchwood Apartments is a 173-resident senior apartment complex that has a Service Coordination contract with National Church Residences. Jane said that when Care Guide was first introduced, residents initially had some questions. But today they full embrace the positive impact it has had on their overall health.
“Just having the discussions with them prompts them to think about their health and more forward and talk to their doctor about it,” Jane said. “Bonnie is really good about advocating for herself and she took some action.”
COLUMBUS – Working in the mental health field and specializing in providing care for aging adults, Matthew Fullen began to notice a recurring theme.
“A lot of health care is focused on dealing with physical concerns that older adults express,” he said. “Other psychological, emotional and spiritual concerns are made into second-class citizens.”
A doctoral student at the Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, Fullen was awarded with an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and used his sponsorship to create a study on resilience that he brought to National Church Residences.
“I reached out to Dan Fagan (Vice President of Home and Community Services) and Terri Allton (Senior Vice President of Home and Community Services) and they were both supportive,” Fullen said. “The three of us identified the Adult Day Center on Livingston Avenue as a great place to pilot some of these new ideas.”
The project had two prongs: first, to focus on acknowledging the staff at the facility and finding their individual strengths, and second, to work with the clients and talk to them about what it means to be resilient.
“Sometimes we don’t recognize that in older adults,” Fullen said. “We don’t give them a chance to notice the ways they’ve been resilient.”
Thirty clients at National Church Residences Livingston Avenue Center for Senior Health in Columbus, Ohio, participated in the nine-week program with Fullen and Sean Gorby, a fellow Ph. D student at OSU and the co-facilitator and co-researcher.
“We allowed clients to talk about ways they’ve been resilient and to hear stories from other clients there who have also demonstrated resilience,” Fullen said. “The way we implemented it was by framing our discussion through different areas of wellness. What about physical wellness? Next week, how have you been resilient through relationships? We cycled through several categories that allowed people to think about resilience in a way that was holistic. They were able to think about ways they’ve been resilient in their lives and it broadened their picture of resilience.”
The more the clients began to participate, the more excited they became for each weekly session.
“We had some really lively discussions,” Fullen said. “At the start of every Friday there was a palpable energy in the room. People were excited to talk about their lives, the challenges they’ve been facing and the ways they’ve been resilient.”
“It has really helped me because you know your situation but you find that others … we’re different but we’re all alike,” said an 83-year old Livingston client who participated in the study. “I’ve learned a whole lot, and it’s just a blessing being together and everybody sharing what’s happened to them or what is happening to them and to know that you’re not alone.”
The participants in the study ranged from 59 to 94 years old with the average age being 78. Eighty percent were African-American and more than half were both Medicare and Medicaid eligible.
After the nine week study concluded, 96 percent of participants reported enjoying the class and feeling a higher level of wellness and 92 percent said they felt generally happier than they previously had.
“Many individuals said they had no idea what some of the other folks in the room had been through and that allowed them to really appreciate their own resilience,” Fullen said.
In working with the staff, Fullen organized a “SPA Day” with SPA meaning “Strengthening Pride in Aging.”
“It was a way of giving the staff a chance to be celebrated,” he said. “We had massage therapists, a catered luncheon, and they learned about each other’s strength inventories. And in some follow-up surveys, 100 percent said it was helpful … and it made them feel proud of their work at Livingston and that they would recommend the strengths assessments to their friends.”
Fullen’s decision to bring his research proposals to a National Church Residences facility did not happen by chance. A decade before, he had been employed by the organization in a much different role that allowed him to work directly with aging adults in a time of need.
“It really started in 2005 when I worked for National Church Residences. That started me down this path that, now, 10 years later I am very committed to. I see it as a calling,” said Fullen, who worked as a Relocation Coordinator, helping residents transition into temporary homes during periods where National Church Residences facilities are being renovated. “It was a brilliant way to put a human touch on the whole relocation process. It gave me a lot of opportunities to interact with older adults in a time of somewhat crisis for them. That was a lot of built-in practice in helping even think about overcoming adversity. When you’re in your 70s and thinking you’re never going to move again, that requires some convincing.”
After a few years with the organization, Fullen chose to go back to school.
“I got my Master’s Degree in clinical counseling and another in Divinity. Really my professional focus has been thinking about how to help older adults maximize satisfaction with the feelings that come with aging,” he said. “I help them think about again and see it as an opportunity to grow and continue to be involved in their families and their communities.”
Later, when Fullen had the chance to study his ideas through the Schweitzer Fellowship, the 32-year old Hilliard, Ohio-native, knew National Church Residences would be the perfect partner.
“It’s been a privilege to work alongside National Church Residences,” he said. “National Church Residences is a leader in thinking innovatively about how to navigate the aging process.”
The results of the research will eventually be compiled into a manuscript and will be published.
“We hope this will lead to other opportunities to replicate this study at other sites,” Fullen said. “Currently I’m in some conversations with National Church Residences about how to expand this program and how to continue the positive momentum that’s taken place at Livingston.”
Fullen said that focusing his education through the years on not only health care but also religion has been a blessing.
“That fit so well with this resilience idea,” he said. “You look at how people’s bodies are changing and it’s easy to be discouraged. But you look at a whole person, their spiritual vitalogy, and you see aging as something not to be afraid of. It can be very hopeful. You think about again in new ways that can be very important to all of us. We’re all going to go through it at some point.”
If you only think video games are for kids and teenagers, think again. Studies have found that playing video games improves memory and cognitive functions of the human brain.
Cognition has to do with how a person understands and acts in the world. It is a set of abilities, skills, or processes that are part of nearly every human action. Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex.
Most of the memory problems we experience with age reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes can slow certain cognitive processes, making it a bit harder to learn new things quickly or screen out distractions that can interfere with memory and learning. It’s important to continue to learn and do new activities as you age that improve your memory and cognitive brain functions.
Here is a list of cool technology to help aging parents continue to learn.
Video chat. While not brand new, many seniors have never had the opportunity to use Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangout to chat with a family member or friend. Consider getting your parents a computer, iPad or iPhone, or tablet to help them keep in touch with loved ones beyond a telephone call.
Remembering to take medicine. It can be tough for anyone to remember if they took their medication at the right time. For seniors who live on their own, setting an alarm on a cell phone may do the trick. There’s also a company named E-pill offers several medication-monitoring gadgets such as the E-pill station, which stores a full month of medication and sounds an alarm when it’s time to take them.
Video game consoles. Perhaps the most popular video game console with seniors is the Nintendo Wii. The Wii Sports game package enables seniors to enjoy popular sports like bowling, tennis and boxing, and compete in a fun and safe team environment. Other popular video game consoles are the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Learning apps. There are thousands of learning and memory apps to download on a smart phone, tablet or computer. Many of these apps are free while others are fee-based. From simple puzzles and interactive quizzes to help finding misplaced items and remembering people’s names, there’s an app. Top apps are Brain Workout for Android, Fit Brains Trainer for iPhone, Lumosity for iPhone, and My Personal Memory Trainer for Android.
E-reader. E-readers are a great way to own or borrow books without having to worry about storage or returning the book to the library on time. According to the American Library Association, 76 percent of U.S. libraries offer eBooks and nearly 2 in 5 libraries lend eReaders. In addition to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, many eBooks can be borrowed or purchased on ebrary, 3M Cloud library and Axis360.
Consider these tips to help you or your aging parent keep your memory sharp and brain healthy with technology.