Thoughts on Macular Degeneration and Eyesight Impairment in Assisted Living
Eyesight issues are something that older adults often struggle with, and are often a primary reason why seniors and their families choose assisted living over home care. In seniors over the age of 65, the risk of eyesight impairment increases dramatically. Compared to those 18-44, individuals 65 years of age or older are more than twice as likely to experience vision loss, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Vision loss is be defined as having trouble seeing, even with correction (glasses). Individuals can even be classified as “legally blind” without losing their vision entirely. Being “Legally Blind” means that you have central visual acuity of 20/200 or less with correction, and/or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. So it is possible to be “Legally Blind”, or nearly so, and still be able to maintain a certain level of independence. But at what risk? Even a home that someone has lived in for many years can become treacherous with diminished eyesight. Stairs, long hallways, furniture and even kitchens become major hazards.
In general, Assisted Living is a terrific option to make life more comfortable and safe for elderly loved ones who need some level of assistance, but choosing the right fit becomes even more critical when taking into account vision problems. Just as you would not put someone with no cognitive issues into memory care, folks who are battling with sight issues should look out for particular criteria when seeking the right type of community for them.
When choosing an Assisted Living for someone with diminished eyesight, first take a look at the layout of the community. Are there many floors? Are there stairs? Even with elevators, the addition of extra floors can pose a challenge for someone with poor eyesight. One floor can look like another if you cannot distinguish the fine details, and someone can easily find themselves lost in their own home. If there are steps or stairs, this is even more hazardous, because even with the best marking and signage, a stair is still a hazard for someone who can't judge its height or location properly.
How is the lighting in the community? Believe it or not, Macular Degeneration can cause you to actually have better night vision than normal because it tends to affect the center of the retina where the “cone” cells that see color are located. The “rod” cells that see detail and are more sensitive to light are more numerous around the outside edge of the retina, so they are not as vulnerable to Macular Degeneration. An individual with MD may prefer softer lighting, so find out what options there are for lighting in rooms. We know that since individuals lose their “cone” cells in the case of MD, color blindness can be an issue as well, so find out how the community helps people with this. Also, other visual impairments, such as cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa can result in loss of night vision, so paying attention to the lighting and color scheme of the community is important.
Is the community set up for ease of movement from one space to another? Is there an abundance of furniture that can act as obstacles? When you walk into the dining area, think about how you would navigate it with a limited range of vision. Are you walking through a sea of chairs and tables to get to the other side, or are there clearly marked aisles?
How about staffing and manner of care? Is the community staffed in such a way that someone with vision impairment can get frequent assistance with small things, like a missing article of clothing or working a television remote? Some large Assisted Living Facilities add on additional charges for requests for “care", so someone with vision impairment might be discouraged to ask for “help". Make sure the community you choose for your loved one is personalized enough to offer HELP, not just care, for those with vision impairment.
When researching Assisted Living communities for your loved one, it is always a good idea to take into account your loved one’s ability to see and hear. At Commonwealth House, we have experience with residents living with vision and hearing impairment, and we believe our small-scale, personalized model of care provides the safest, most responsive environment for these individuals. Please call us at 401-298-6986 to schedule a visit and see for yourself how we are the best choice for Assisted Living in Rhode Island!
Graham and Mandi Willoughby
Yankee Swap at Commonwealth House!
This holiday season, the residents and families of Commonwealth House gathered together for our first annual Holiday Party and Yankee Swap! It was terrific to have all of our wonderful families together enjoying each others company. Chef Adam prepared a fantastic spread of delicious foods for everyone, and Mandi and I poured drinks!
The highlight of the night was the “Yankee Swap”, where gifts were exchanged between the residents. I didn’t know what a Yankee Swap was until that night, where it was explained to me that the residents would trade gifts one at a time. Having been given the option to keep the gift they were given or “steal” one from another participant, they would continue to trade gifts, all without knowing what the wrapped gift was. The exciting part was at the end, after all the gifts had been traded, seeing the residents’ surprise when they found out what they got! Weeks had been spent selecting the perfect gifts for the swap, and the anticipation was tactile when the wrapping finally came off. There were lots of winter-themed gifts, such as scarves, blankets, robes and warm socks. Chocolate was also had a big presence, as well as a very nice set of shower accessories. All in all it was a huge success. A special thanks to Sharon for being our Yankee Swap “Referee”.
We would like to thank all of the families for coming to our event, and to look out for the next one coming soon! Have a happy and healthy holiday season and here’s to a terrific 2018! Happy New Year!
From all of us here at Commonwealth House, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season! Here’s to a terrific 2018!
Sugar-Free Birthday Cake Home Run!
We always take birthdays very seriously here at Commonwealth House, and today was no exception. One of our residents was turning 74 and it was time to celebrate. Being diabetic is no joke but everyone wants something sweet for his or her Birthday, and something told me he was not going to settle for sugar-free Jell-O. No, we were going to do this right, with balloons, candles, and a proper, sweet, moist, delicious chocolate cake.
I am the owner of Commonwealth House, and I like to take the lead when it comes to our residents’ birthdays. I think it’s one of the best ways of showing how much I care about our residents and their happiness. Lord knows that when I have been on earth as long as they have, I will really be grateful for the people who celebrate my birthday with me!
I also happen to be a baker and baking fanatic. I have Ciliac disease (yes, very ironic, I know), so I am familiar with baking for someone with dietary restrictions. I scoured the internet for a good recipe for chocolate cake, with the goal of finding one that used stevia as the primary sweetening ingredient, as I had this in plentiful supply for use in other sugar free concoctions. What I found was a home run on the first try. It was called “Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake, Diabetic Version, from GeniusKitchen.com” <http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/died-and-went-to-heaven-chocolate-cake-diabetic-version-217973> I thought it was going to be a dud because the batter was very runny, but it baked up just right, and released from the pan (always a terrifying moment) with ease (don’t forget to use lots of butter! No sugar there!).
Note that the brown sugar stevia sometimes is hard to find, but your local supermarket should carry it in the baking aisle. Make note of the conversion, as stevia is sweeter than regular sugar and if you use the same amount it will make your cake inedible! I used eggs instead of the Eggbeaters it called for.
For the frosting I used Pillsbury’s Sugar Free <https://www.pillsburybaking.com/products/sugar-free-frosting/sugar-free-chocolate-fudge> frosting, chocolate flavor to really make it a chocolate lovers dream!
Have fun caring for your family like I do!
Home for the Holidays
Sometimes all it takes is the trip home over the holidays to see that your loved ones are different, a bit forgetful, not eating properly and most of all not getting out of their homes for socialization; they have become isolated!
Going home over the holidays should be a joyous time for all of us. However, for some of us that is not the case. More times than often we come home and we find a very different situation than we did less than six months ago; the house is not clean, food in the refrigerator is spoiled and most of all your loved one is a bit more fragile. If you come home and see any of these circumstances, do not panic. Have the situation evaluated, call their physician(s) find out when their last appointment was, talk with the doctor and get a picture of what really has been happening. Always tell your loved ones when speaking with the physician to avoid any HIPAA violations. If your investigation tells you to that your loved one is healthy, however living at home may not be a safe option, and then your next call should be to an assisted living community. There you will speak to an experienced professional that can help you navigate and understand this new living lifestyle for your senior.
In assisted living your loved one will get all their needs met, from wellness checks, medication management, socialization, three meals a day and so much more. Once your senior moves into the right assisted living most families will see a significant change usually within a month. The reason for the change you ask? Your senior stops worrying about things like cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, heat, electric, repairs, and that dreadful snow removal; all the problems that go with owning your home or even renting. Your senior can now become more focused on meeting new friends, going out into the community and having a support system in place. I can hear a lot of you now, "my parent(s) cannot afford assisted living". Well surprise, it is quite affordable and now more than ever. Today seniors and their families have a lot more options than they did years ago; today we have small residential communities like ours that have 8 private suites or if you like, the large more apartment style facilities. In any case do your homework look at all your options and always keep your loved one in the loop because ultimately the decision is theirs to make.
Assisted living is not only great for the senior it is a great option for families. Most of us don’t live in same state as our loved one. Families like this do not have the opportunity to see them on a daily or weekly basis. Most family members rely on neighbors and/or friends, however it not their responsibility to watch over them, it is yours!
I can say from experience that the best way to keep a lot of our seniors active and healthy is to always seek out the right situation that works for them, so that when you do come home for the holidays it is a joyous occasion!
Happy Holidays to you and yours, and remember, the coffee is always on at Commonwealth House!
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My mom stayed here for a month when I was traveling. She loved it and they took wonderful care of her. She made friends with other residents. I would completely recommend this facility, because it is more like a home than a facility. This is what assisted living should be not a building that you could mistake for a cruise ship.
Great staff. Very caring. Beautiful home with great inside and outdoor spaces. Attentive owners and top quality health care professionals. Excellent food as well.
A Loving, Caring Choice
Having listened to adult-children trying to help their aging folks decide on a place to call home, after their home can no longer be safe or manageable, I know what a conflict of emotions this raises in every one concerned. As a psychotherapist, for 40 years, I've seen lots of families trying to sort this out, and personally, I also know this chapter. I've seen many very well-run, mid-to-top dollar assisted living facilities in 5 states. While attractive, with competent, caring staff, lovely facilities, and many amenities, my bias is definitely with small, family-owned, professionally run assisted &living residences. The key word here is SMALL. Commonwealth House is definitely a small community with a house/home residence , in an ordinary nice neighborhood in Warwick, Rhode Island. A young couple from California, who came East for career advancement began to imagine a business they could run together, while starting a family, and that would nourish their hearts and souls, not just pay bills. They are bright, educated, hard-working pair who left family and friends in their coast-to-coast move. What better new endeavor than to open their special version of a small ,independent living residence? CommonwealthHouse is the result of their values and vision in creating a home that they care for much as , and in much the same ways as for their very own house. In the vast majority of Independent Living places , the residents never know who "the owners," even are, be they corporations, church affiliations, public housing, etc. At Commonwealth House you can see the owners, the staff, almost any time, and your concerns will become theirs, and find resolution expediently, as there are no layers of employees to muddle through when something breaks, or you need a ride, or you just want to chat a bit about how your day is going. Commonwealth House is a family, a family of creation, and the owners /operators are a family of origin, and together this Independent Living concept has it all over any, ANY large facility. Home, for most people, has been a place to live with a few, to a few more individuals, not 100 or 600 people. Who grew up, or lived their adult life having breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a cafeteria, or dining room, with hundreds of others? When you wanted to go to the grocery store, did you take a bus with 50+ other shoppers, or did you get in your SUV and maybe take a family member along? Large group facilities, regardless of whether they are condo style, apartment building style, or cottages on park-like grounds, are still.....facilities. Good, caring staff, services, sure , but friendly employees in numbers like 35 or 55, or 150 are not able to form the depth of, or kind of relationships with residents . The numbers are just too great. CommonwealthHouse's owners/operators, administrator, and staff know every single person who is fortunate enough to be living there....and knows them well. You may enter this independent living experience solo, but you will have a small collection of folks, that live there also, or work there, who will soon be your new home's new "family." Many research studies have shown, conclusively, that loneliness destroys health and even leads to death. Depression in Seniors is often much more than biological factors of growing older. We need each other. We also need privacy, and "our own space," room(s) of our own, and "We get by with a little help" ("from our friends," or whom ever is able to help us!") My vote is for Commonwealth House, in Warwick, Rhode Island. Check it out....you'll see what I mean when I say that it truly is a wonderful home.
Outstanding service, attention to detail and family feel
My dad is currently a resident at the Commonwealth House. He has been at 3 other assisted living facilities and finally we found this one. At the standard facilities he is one person in a very large population. He was not getting proper attention and care. The food was also very poor as everything was prepared in large quantities. At the Commonwealth house it feels as though he is part of a family. They make sure to talk to him and include him in conversations and activities. They also have the ability to prepare a specialized menu for the residents as they have a much smaller population which is easier to give more one on one attention too. the staff, management and owners are all very caring and easily approachable. They are very accommodating and will go out of their way to help the residents and visiting family. The house is beautifully renovated and well laid out. They have a fantastic backyard with a very nice fenced in pool, full service cabana and a fenced in kennel if you would like to bring your furry family member with you. The part that means the most to me while my dad has been here is when he broke his hip he was visited several times in the hospital and during a month long rehab by the management, staff and owners. They really went out of their way to continue to treat him like family and keep him motivated to get better and get back to the Commonwealth House. If you don't have the ability to keep a loved one at home with you, then the Commonwealth House is the next best thing!
I would definitely recommend this facility for anyone interested in Assisted Living. My step-father is thriving here because it is not a "Warehouse" as he would put it. He has his own personal space; set up just the way he likes it. He also has access to the rest of the facility. He receives hot meals 3 times a day cooked by the staff chef and served at the dining table shared with the other residents. He has access to the large patio and pool area. He enjoys the ability to go out to the senior center during the week for lunch and bingo. His health is improving by the day due to the healthy meals and medication supervision that he receives at Commonwealth House. I very much enjoy visiting him here as the staff are very welcoming and friendly. Any concerns are immediately communicated and dealt with. I hope that I have access to a place such as this if the time comes that I would need it.
I am very fortunate to have found The Commonwealth House. Everything about this "home" is exceptional. My father has done amazing here. The meals are amazing and the "chef" prepares fresh food for the residents daily. There is always fresh baked goods as well. The staff is amazing they treat the residents like family. I can't say enough positive things about The Commonwealth house. I would recommend anyone looking for assisted living accommodations to look no further than the Commonwealth house because you are home when you walk though the door. M.Fernandes
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