Caregiving Planning Ahead

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes – What is the Differance

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a great choice for seniors who can no longer live alone, but want to stay active and social. These communities have a 93% satisfaction rate, so your aging loved one is probably not picturing what they will be like when they move into an assisted living community.
In assisted living, seniors get long-term housing and care. They are usually active, but may need help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, and using the toilet. In assisted living, seniors can expect personalized care, nutritious meals, a wide range of social activities that cater to their interests, and a sense of community in a safe setting.
When you are looking for a place for your aging loved one, know that many assisted living communities have health standards for admitting residents. For example, your relative may need to be able to eat on their own or transfer between a bed and wheelchair without help.

What services do assisted living communities provide?

Assisted living communities provide services and amenities that help seniors stay healthy and active. This may include things like keeping them physically active, providing intellectual stimulation, and helping them stay socially connected. Some of those services include restaurant-style dining, activities based on resident interest and many more.

Who can benefit from assisted living?

Assisted living communities are for seniors who want to stay independent but need some help. The community will help them with things they can’t do by themselves, but they will still be able to live their life the way they want.

How much do assisted living communities cost?

The cost of assisted living can vary depending on the community, its location, and the services it offers. Generally speaking, assisted living communities — which offer more amenities and care services than independent senior apartments — tend to be more expensive. However, the difference between the cost of assisted living and nursing home care is significant, since nursing homes offer full-time medical care.
The average cost of living in a retirement home in the United States is $4,300 per month, according to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Survey.
 What is a nursing home?


Nursing homes are places where elderly adults who need a lot of help can go. Nurses and other people who work there help these people with things like bathing, dressing, and eating. These facilities offer the highest level of care for seniors who don’t need to be in a hospital, but do need a lot of help every day.
Nursing homes often have certain requirements that need to be met before someone can move in. These requirements can include a doctor’s prescription, a physical examination, and state approval. If your loved one doesn’t meet these requirements, then they may need to consider moving to an assisted living home or another type of care setting that is more appropriate for their needs.
What services do nursing homes provide?
Nursing homes are a place for older adults who need care 24 hours a day. In addition to the services offered by assisted living communities, nursing homes offer many medically related options:
  • Providing long-term care that is both palliative and preventative
  • Administering prescription medication, including injections, is a process that must be done with care in order to ensure the safety and health of the patient.
  • Meal options that must meet the daily nutritional requirements and the unique dietary needs of each resident, including diets that are pureed or liquid
Skilled nursing care is an important part of many nursing homes. This means that there are trained professionals available to help your loved one at all times. If your family member is very ill or has a serious medical condition, they may need specialized care from the licensed health care professionals in a skilled nursing home, instead of the senior care aides who are highly trained but may not be medically certified.

Who can benefit from nursing home care?

Nursing homes offer more care than assisted living communities. This makes them a good choice for seniors who need significant medical care and also want companionship, help with activities of daily living, and on-site amenities. If your elderly loved ones require a greater level of care, a nursing home may be the right fit. These seniors may:

  • Require a lot of care because of a chronic condition or poor health.
  • Be unable to take care of oneself without help.
  • Have progressive conditions.

How much do skilled nursing facilities cost?

Nursing home costs vary depending on the location, state funding, and not-for-profit status of the nursing home. Generally speaking, skilled nursing facilities are more expensive than other senior living communities because the residents require more help with medical needs and personal care.

The cost difference between assisted living and nursing home care is significant. The median monthly cost of nursing homes in the U.S. is about $7,989 for a semi-private room and $9,086 for a private room, according to Genworth.

Unlike many assisted living communities, nursing homes can often be paid for using government assistance for lower-income residents.

How do you decide which care type is best for your loved one?

In the past several decades, senior living choices have expanded as the needs and expectations of older adults have changed. Finding the right option that meets your loved one’s needs is an important part of keeping them healthy, active, and safe. The best way to decide which care type is best for your loved one is by talking to those with experience with these care types.

How CircleOf Caring App can help?

CircleOf caregiver app is great for keeping track of your loved ones. The app allows you to enter information about your loved one’s medical condition, medications, and appointments. The app also has a calendar feature that helps you keep track of when your loved one needs to be seen by a doctor or take their medication. The Caregiver app is a great tool for caregivers and their loved ones.

Caregiving Nutrition

Best Low Sodium Meals For Seniors

Low sodium meals are an integral part of a good, healthy diet. When updating your diet to have less sodium for what ever reason it is good to make a plan.  If you’re like most people in the U.S., you get more sodium than is recommended or needed. Here at CircleOf, we researched some of what low-sodium meals for seniors means. 

How to Start a Low Sodium Diet?

Start by understanding how much salt you eat per day and where sodium is hidden in your food.  

Do you know how much sodium you consume per day?  We didn’t, so we kept a journal and did some research. Here’s an important visual: one teaspoon of table salt, which is sodium + chloride, has 2,325 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Generally speaking, an average adult ideally consumes below 2,300 mg per day. 

There are some foods that naturally contain sodium. These include vegetables and dairy products, meat, and shellfish. While these foods don’t have a lot of sodium, eating them adds up.  We found a handy list about sodium in vegetables here to help out.   

As much as 70% of the sodium we eat comes from food processed or packaged foods, and only about 5 % comes from that additional shake of table salt.  Why?  Because salt is used as a preservative as well as a flavor pop.

Suffice it to say that we are a salt loving bunch and our sodium intake adds up throughout the day. The average American eats close to 3,400 mg of sodium a day.  That amount is way above the U.S. recommended Dietary Guidelines.  

How Much Sodium Per Day, for Seniors

We talked about the average adult above, but now let’s look at how that is for Seniors.  Here seniors are defined of as 50 years or older.

Experts say it is best to remain near 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day as a guideline. This average daily amount ensures you get the amount of sodium that your body can manage. If you constantly push to 2,300 mg or higher per day, you increase the likelihood that you may develop health issues.  

Why is Sodium Harmful to our Heart?

Sodium affects our kidneys and heart. Our kidneys balance sodium in the body. When sodium is low, the kidneys hold on to it. When sodium is high, the kidneys release some in urine.

If the kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, it builds up in your blood. Sodium attracts and holds water, so the blood volume increases. 

Isn’t blood volume good?  Not necessarily.

The heart has to work harder to pump blood, which then increases pressure in the arteries (i.e. blood pressure). Over time this increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Heart Issues Can Improve With a Low Sodium Diet

How do you lower your blood pressure?  A low sodium diet. OK, that wasn’t funny; stay with us.

A person dealing with any heart issue should not consume too much sodium in their diet and your doctor will send you home with those instructions.  

We found some tasty recipes online that can are simple and lip smackin’. I particularly liked the Blueberry Pancakes from Kim at Insanely Good Recipes.  For savory snacks and meals we appreciate Jenny from Happy Muncher.

Drugs Can Affect Sodium Levels

IMPORTANT for Caregivers!

We need to watch water or what we eat, but we also need to know how medication may affecta sodium levels. Diuretics, corticosteroids, sodium chloride, anabolic steroids, estrogens, and sodium bicarbonate all impact sodium retention. 

Some medicines have sodium in them in the form of sodium bicarbonate to make them fizz.  Paying attention or keeping a journal of what is consumed is the only way to ensure the sodium levels do not increase to dangerous levels.

Low Sodium Shopping Advice

The best way to go shopping for low-sodium foods is to look for natural options. This includes vegetables, fruits, and other options that will not add sodium.

  • Read labels
  • Eat fresh foods 
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and meats (not injected with a sodium containing solution)  
  • Choose low-sodium products, if you buy processed foods
  • Go for whole-grain rice and pasta and skip seasoning packets
  • Eat at home  
  • Remove salt from recipes 
  • Grab a cookbook for high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Replace salt with herbs, spices and other tasty flavorings

Tip: Choose Low Sodium Foods When Eating Out

When you are dining out,  look for healthier food options.  

Eat whole grains plus food with fruits and vegetables in them. Treat yourself and your future self to something better for you than a hamburger from the local fast food joint. 

Lower Sodium and You 

You can do it.  You do all kinds of things you consider difficult. 

Information is the first step. If you are a caregiver and or someone who needs to lower their sodium for health reasons you got this.  

There are lots of avenues to crafting good low-sodium meals for seniors. It will take time to pinpoint what works well and is ideal for you and your loved ones taste buds.  

The CircleOf Caregiver app can help you plan, shop for and stay on top of your loved one’s new and improved diet.  A lower sodium diet will help you improve your health.  Food is life. A low sodium meal for seniors, or anyone, makes heart sense. 

Also Read: 

Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

8 Tips to Make Your Care Calendar

* U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.govn

Caregiving Mental Health Wellness

Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Why are people talking about music therapy for the elderly? Music has a unique way of bringing joy and jolting positive memories. A single song can spark positive emotions and feelings in seconds.

There are plenty of different things that elderly people grapple with as they age. Isolation, illness and limited physical activity negatively impacts emotional, mental, and physical health. How to help?

Music Therapy is a formal process of using different musical techniques to help people with emotional, mental, and physical health. It’s especially useful within the senior population.

What Is It?

Music Therapy is different ‘treatments’ that include listening to, singing, and even creating music. According to the American Music Therapy Association, formal music therapy was defined and first used by the United States War Department in 1945. It helped military service members recovering in Army hospitals with occupational therapy, education, recreation and physical reconditioning. A music therapy session included listening to music, creating music, and dancing.

As caregivers, we are always seeking ways to have a positive impact on the health and wellness of those we take care of. This includes those in physical rehabilitation, working on their range of movement, and all of those who need more motivation to get moving. Music is shown to be effective at helping people get through emotionally tough times and better cope.

How Does Music Therapy For The Elderly Work?

Music therapy has shown to be effective for symptoms of emotional, physical, and even spiritual needs. Music therapy is a go-to a clinical treatment plan for therapists who are working with elderly patients as well as those who have survived a stroke or have dementia or alzheimer’s.

Music helps stimulate cognitive function and opens up new opportunities to learn skills. It also helps activate knowledge and memory. This type of therapy offers both short and long-term benefits with recall.

Recent research backs this up and points to the fact that music may improve mental health as much as exercise. A scientific review published in JAMA concludes that music’s benefit to mental health is actually comparable to that of exercise.

Looking for a healthy exercise for those who have cognitive decline such as demetias and alzheimers? A dementia patient may be able to remember things better or at least feel joy and happiness associated with music.

Music Therapy Treatments

There are several different kinds of music therapy treatment options available for those who need it. These include:

Song Selection

A lot of us enjoy hearing the music they grew up with. It’s best to go with their generation of music. My mom loved Neil Diamond, as do I, so we belt out anything from Hot August Nights. With song exercises, people choose the songs that uplift their spirits and that help make their day. We all like to relive the good times in our lives and feel the happiness.

Name a Song

Name a song or name that tune is common activity in music therapy. While it seems simple on the outside, this is a memory exercise. First, play a short clips of music. Next try to recall the song’s name, melody and lyrics. This helps dig up some memories from the past and strengthens memory recall.

Sing Along

Karaoke anyone? A lot of seniors will find plenty of happiness being able to choose their favorite songs to play. Sing-alongs bring just as much joy, if not dancing. For any larger groups, the therapist display the lyrics to the song for everyone to sing along with. Some therapists have found more success by having different performances of popular sing-along songs. This is a good way to get friends and family play too.

Play Classical Music

This is a genre of music that is well known to be good for mental health. Not only is it relaxing, but it’s a good way to promote relaxation and mood. Give seniors the chance to enjoy more downtime with this music, it can help promote more restful sleep.

Benefits and Expected Results Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Music therapy is a simple way to keep our brains active and young. It helps our loved ones recall memories and ward off depressive thoughts and feelings. Depression is common among the elderly. Music helps our aging population enhance speaking skills and improve their memory. It can also help to slow the deterioration of speech skills when one suffers from dementia.

Physical Skills: Music therapy can be a good way to encourage people to move. It can help them get more movement into their daily life by encouraging them to dance more. They burn more calories and keep better movement in their daily life through clapping, toe-tapping, and shaking what their mama gave them.

Cognitive Well-Being: Music therapy is a good way to help people retain their memories and process them. Music is one of the best ways to recall something from because it has strong ties to events and memories from the past.

To achieve the best results with music therapy, you need to find the right music. The music needs to resonate with the person you are caring for. Learn what music was played during their wedding or other significant moments in their lives. It’s all about resurfacing joy and purpose.

Music therapy is a fun addition to help your loved one age gracefully. It can ward off depression and help boost their spirits in more ways than one. The CircleOf app is designed to help ensure that caregivers can organize, collaborate, and ask the tam for the next song in your mixed tape. So gather your care circle’s custom music selection and help your loved ones move through the tempo of aging.

Caregiving Community Planning Ahead Technology

8 Tips to Make Your Care Calendar

Planning and managing a calendar Being a caregiver in the family requires time and effort in managing a lot of responsibilities for the loved one. It can feel like a full-time job, and at times, can be overwhelming. Caregiving centers around relationships and time. Two valuable gifts. When you share the responsibility with your friends and relatives, everything becomes a lot more manageable.

 A caregiver calendar will help you delegate important tasks and coordinate with others.  Organizing time and tasks helps avoid caregiver burnout as well as significantly improve the quality of care your loved one receives.

Read below for a few tips on making a calendar for your circle:

1. Make a list of everything that’s needed

Before you start delegating tasks, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the different things that need to be done to care for your loved one. It can be general tasks like routine bill payments or checkups, as well as very specific ones like a particular type of soap you need to use for sensitive skin. Take note of the length of time these tasks take to make sure that everyone can adequately make room to accomplish them in their schedule. 

2. Assess your helpers’ skills and schedules

Knowing your helpers’ skills and vacant time will help you decide which tasks you can delegate. If someone has a background in finance, then maybe they can help with handling the budget and expenses. If someone has a background in nutrition then maybe he or she can help take care of their diet. When it comes to coordinating schedules, if someone is working on the night shift, then maybe they can visit in the afternoon so you can step out to run errands. Knowing generally what everyone’s skills, hobbies and schedules are will help you create a caregiver calendar that benefits everyone. 

3. Create a schedule that works for everyone

Try mapping out a schedule that takes everyone’s skills, schedules, and interests into account. Create a few variations to know which one works best for all. It’s not just about the one giving care but also the one being cared for. Different conditions will require different kinds of care, from the duration, frequency, to the actual tasks themselves. 

Consult everyone involved and get their opinion. Clearly define the needs of the one being cared for, and the responsibilities of each caregiver. Most importantly, make sure that the one being cared for is on board and comfortable with the plans you’re making.

4. Keep everyone informed

It’s important that everyone generally understands the condition of the person they’re caring for.  This helps build your care circle camaraderie and to be consistent with the person you are taking care of. 

Of course, some information can be sensitive and shouldn’t be shared with the public. However, knowing the situation can actually make others spring into action and help out. Find a balance between what needs to be communicated to your caregiver group and what is better kept to a smaller group. 

5. Create a good working relationship

While we want to count on our family to lend us a helping hand, it’s very important to set boundaries and respect them—that’s why having a caregiver calendar is instrumental in helping everyone stay accountable when it comes to their assigned tasks, while allowing them to tend to other aspects of their lives. 

When it comes to caregiving, always proceed with compassion and patience, for the one you’re taking care of as well as the ones you’re sharing the responsibilities with. Consider their hours of work, whether or not they will have enough energy to do tasks right after their shift, or if they can help in some other way that doesn’t require them to be physically there. Respect their time and needs as well. 

Know what they’re comfortable with in terms of the help they can give. Some might be more willing to share their skills and time rather than help financially. Every kind of help matters. Take the time to let them know they’re appreciated.

6. Learn to prioritize

As you build your care calendar, you’ll notice certain patterns, overlaps, or inconsistencies. This is an opportunity to prioritize the needs of the one you’re taking care of. Identify which tasks are critical and time-bound versus flexible. What are the things you have to do personally and what are the tasks that you can delegate to other caregivers in your family? 

Take the time to teach other caregivers how certain tasks are done so that you can confidently leave those to them in the future. Find ways to lighten your load, so you can provide a consistent quality of care for your loved one. 

7. Simplify tasks

Learning to break down complex tasks can be an easy way to reduce the back-and-forth between caregivers in the family. Simplify tasks into easy steps to help guide them on what needs to be done. For example, if the task is to have a checkup, then it needs to be broken down into simpler tasks like setting up the appointment, getting certain tests done if needed, and the actual doctor’s appointment.  

This will allow other caregivers to chip in and volunteer to do the task if they have more capacity to help during that time. 

8. Take advantage of available technology

Nowadays, there are many ways to coordinate with caregivers in your family from group chats, to emails, to video calls. Make good use of these tools to efficiently communicate with others certain updates or changes to your care schedule. These also allow you to keep even the family members that are abroad or in another state up to speed, creating solidarity among everyone.

Keep your care calendar organized. Make sure that every caregiver is informed of pending tasks as well as other important updates with CircleOf. Privately share information and coordinate care conveniently and securely with the app so you can take care of your loved one, while also making sure not to forget to take care of yourself. Schedule in time for breaks and a bit of pampering for yourself knowing you have other caregivers to rely on.

References family