What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

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The population in San Diego County is aging, with many people exploring their options for housing and lifestyle in retirement. One option that is attractive to many older adults is the possibility of moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

CCRCs are sometimes called “life plan communities,” offering the support and resources older adults need as they move through the stages of aging. This support encompasses daily living assistance, such as dining options, housekeeping, transportation, recreational events,  and more. Additionally, wellness, fitness, and healthcare providers are provided as needed.  A robust activities calendar and resort-like amenities are other features of CCRCs that are attractive to many.

A full range of care options is available at most CCRCs, including everything from independent living to assisted living to memory care to skilled nursing care. The goal is to create a “one-stop” solution so that residents can age in place, even as their needs change.

Moving into a CCRC involves a significant investment of resources, so it is important for potential residents to make an informed decision. According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), “The decision to move into a Continuing Care Retirement Community or not represents one of the most important decisions a person can make in their lifetime. The relationship between a CCRC and a resident is expensive, lengthy, highly personal, and complex.”

Types of CCRC Contracts

When choosing a CCRC, a contract will be established with a promise of care for at least a year or more. The cost and services provided vary depending on the CCRC that is selected and the specific services offered through the contract. Basic contract types include:

  • Life Care: Structured with an annual monthly rate and includes a guaranteed promise of care for life. Services typically include both primary and acute care, as well as nursing home and assisted living care on-site when needed.
  • Modified: The contract is designed with entrance fees and monthly fees, as well as a promise of reduced rates for higher care for a specific period. This option tends to be less expensive compared to a Life Care contract, but the resident bears more of the risk of future care costs. The provider also shares the risk of future costs.
  • Fee-for-Service: Like the modified contract, this option includes entrance fees and monthly fees. Guaranteed access is promised for higher levels of care, but the services are offered at the current market rate, and the resident bears the full risk of these costs.
  • Rental: The rental contract is designed with a monthly fee determined by the level of care that is received.

Is a CCRC Right for You?

Are you shopping for a CCRC? It is essential to understand the pricing structure as well as the level of services that will be provided. Education about your options is the best solution to find the community that is a good fit for your needs. Many consumers also choose to work with an attorney to review CCRC contracts. Our team at Windward Life Care is here to help you find the right solutions for care and housing. Contact us to learn about the available services.

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Eldercare Mediation: Resolving Family Discord

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Family conflict can occur if an older person has not planned ahead and becomes disabled. Adult children frequently disagree about the best way to care for an elderly parent, and they may have concerns about finances. Failing to see eye-to-eye on caregiving issues can introduce confusion and contention among family members, and old family “roles” can be revived, sometimes in unhealthy ways. When families are unable to resolve their differences, it can help to bring in an eldercare mediator.

What is Elder Mediation?

Eldercare mediation or elder mediation is a professionally guided process to engage family members in a productive dialogue to achieve agreement around elder care issues. Each mediation session is personalized based on the circumstances.

Eldercare mediation addresses common issues facing seniors and their adult children, including:

  • Driving safety
  • Living arrangements
  • Home support services
  • Financial management
  • Medication use/misuse
  • Alcohol and drug use/misuse
  • Assistive devices: purchase/use/training
  • Advance health care directives
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Diminished mental capacity and functional abilities
  • End of life wishes
  • Leaving a legacy
  • Family cultural and religious differences

How Does It Work?

Elder mediators first meet with the interested parties individually to determine their concerns and viewpoints. They then determine who needs to be “around the table” for the discussion, and then hold one or more sessions where critical issues are addressed and family members come to a shared agreement about how to proceed. The mediator is impartial and does not place the interests of one party in the mediation above other parties. The goal is to agree upon a course of action before a medical crisis forces decision-making under severe stress.

Elder mediation can cost between $175-$375/hour. Family disputes that are not resolved in mediation frequently result in legal battles costing far more in attorney fees.

Finding a Mediator

As you are searching for an elder mediator in the area, ask about the person’s background, approach, confidentiality, certification, and pricing structure. Personality fit is important too. A few questions up front can be a valuable way to learn about your options before engaging in services.

For more information about finding the right resources for your family needs, Windward Life Care is here to assist. Contact us any time for personalized support and guidance in your life care planning. Thank you to Dr. Craig Grether, Ph.D. of Just Solutions, for contributing to this article. He is a clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist and certified mediator in Carlsbad, California.

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Vietnam Veterans – Unique Needs and Benefits

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The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act was signed into law in 2017. This act was designed as an official recognition of March 29th each year as the “National Vietnam War Veterans Day.” Veterans of the Vietnam War are aging and many now require additional assistance to perform their everyday activities. It is important to understand their unique needs in order to care for them respectfully and effectively.

Wounds From the War

The Vietnam War was the one of the longest wars fought by the United States, and many soldiers came home with injuries that affect them to this day.  Over 153,000 soldiers were wounded, and more than 58,000 members of the US military lost their lives in this war.

Many of the disabilities affecting Vietnam vets today were caused by exposure to herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange. Other injuries occurred due to equipment and machinery, exposure to loud noise, and contact with a variety of other chemicals during service. The Veterans Administration recommends that Vietnam Veterans be tested for Hepatitis C since they are also at high risk for this infection.

Benefits for Veterans

Fortunately, there are a number of benefits available to Vietnam veterans and their children, including:

  • Training and education
  • Disability compensation
  • Monetary benefits
  • Health care, and assistance with home or facility care
  • Insurance coverage
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Home loans
  • Burial services

After Agent Orange exposure, many children were born with birth defects, such as spina bifida. Many children of women veterans of the Vietnam war were born with birth defects including congenital heart disease, hydrocephalus, and cleft lip and cleft palate.

For access to veterans’ benefits, an application needs to be submitted to a VA regional office. An online application is available, as well as local services to help veterans find the support and medical care that is needed. The VA benefits application process can be completed by veterans, current service members, families, and accredited representatives (also called Veterans Service Officers).

At Windward Life Care, we are here to help you in finding the right resources based on your needs. Whether you are seeking medical support or you are interested in VA benefits, you are welcome to contact us for information and assistance.

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Today is the Day: Ensuring Your Estate Plan is In Order

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Estate planning is used to manage future concerns: tax strategy, retirement savings, inheritance management, and more. Since these plans are for the future, it is easy to get trapped in procrastination and fear. Even if retirement seems far away, right now is the time to take action so that you are ready no matter what happens.

Creating a good estate plan reduces or eliminates worry and stress. Often, people find that estate planning seems like an impossible task, only to discover that they breathe a sigh of relief after meeting with a professional. It is “normal” to want to delay or avoid this process. But the best thing you can do is act now to prevent future anxiety for yourself and your family.

Tips for a Complete Estate Plan

An easy, effective solution is to have an experienced attorney assist with creating an estate plan. While there are DIY guides out there, a legal professional is especially important for those with significant assets, or complex family or financial situations. Your attorney will guide the conversation, manage the paperwork, and assist with the details that need to be addressed.

An estate plan should include more than your will, financial information, and inheritance details. Everyone 18 and older should have a healthcare advance directive and also look at other services to support the plan. A complete estate plan contains a number of elements involving health and finances. There’s no reason to delay this planning. Instead, set a goal to get started with estate planning as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that creating a plan is just the first step. Regular reviews ensure that your plan is current and relevant as life changes over the years. Experts suggest an estate plan be reviewed by an experienced attorney every three to five years. It is also smart to schedule a legal consultation if there is a significant life change, such as the death of a partner, divorce, marriage, and more.

At Windward Life Care, we understand the importance of using professional services for all aspects of life planning. Our team is here to help you find local resources to assist with your needs.

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Technology for Living Independently and With Dignity at Home

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The great majority of older adults have a strong desire to live in their own homes and communities; but many adaptations need to be made in our homes to accommodate this. Technology is one piece that empowers older adults to live in their homes with dignity.

Technology has been challenging for many mature adults to comprehend and use; first it was computers, then came smartphones, both of which required investments to own and skills to use. With the advent of voice enabled technologies and AI software (artificial intelligence), access and interaction with technology has never been friendlier. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home which start to retail at $49, users can in their own native language interact with a whole slew of services and hardware products which earlier could only be accessed using a computer or a smartphone.

Increasingly, the ground zero of senior well-being is now shifting to their lifestyles at home; sensors are becoming more context driven, data captured and analyzed by non-intrusive sensors and wearable devices help us predict potential health situations and challenges ahead of time moving us to the realm of predictive healthcare.

Here are the many ways that technology enables us to interact with our homes to enhance our well-being and lifestyle:

Comfort and Convenience
Control lighting switches, thermostat temperature and your entertainment system with voice commands.

Security & Safety
Routine activities and social support are especially suited for elders suffering cognitive decline. These systems detect changes in patients location or environment and provide verbal assistance as needed, or if needed, notify caregivers.

Isolation and Loneliness
Using voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home to communicate with family friends and caregivers, staying informed, ordering supplies, booking transportation, conducting basic banking, restaurant delivery services.

Monitoring & Predictive Health
Smart sensors for monitoring activity and behavior; which serve as advance warning systems for potential health challenges.
Video devices for security.
Video cameras with AI for facial recognition, automated door locks for locking, video doorbells managing visitors without getting to the front door.

Wearables for Health Analytics
Health monitoring systems to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and movement of the patient as well as environmental data, such as ambient temperature.

Fall Protection and Management
Sensors that can detect a fall both inside and outside the home and notify emergency services and caregivers in real time.

Lighting for Well-being
LED circadian rhythm lighting for normal sleep patterns, and creating a positive environment.

Going Forward
The next phase of technology for seniors is being designed using Ambient intelligence; which combines AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (internet connected devices), will provide real-time monitoring of an environment and event-driven response to changes in that environment. Sensors designed to detect changes in sound, motion, physiological signals, as well as more generalized image processing are core components of an ambient intelligent environment.

About Smaart House

Smaart House is a San Diego based technology provider for senior care, our purpose is to empower mature adults to live independently and with dignity in their home environment and communities. We work with individual homeowners, senior care communities and assisted living facilities to integrate and adapt technology in their environments. Please visit us at www.smaart.house for more information.

The author Bijou Lulla is the Founder and CEO of Smaart House, he can be reached at [email protected].

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