Assisted Living or a Nursing Home? What You Should Know

Wondering how Assisted Living and Nursing Homes (also known as skilled nursing facilities) differ and which might be best for your loved one? In the last post "Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Are Not The Same Thing!" we tried to show you that senior living facilities are not created equally. That means that nursing homes, and assisted living facilities differ from one another in some important ways. It’s important for you to know what care is available to your loved one across the board. This is called Activities of Daily Living, or ADL. These activities include bathing, dressing, and different types of personal care.

What's Present In Both Nursing Homes and Assisted Living?

While mom may not need that care at the moment, it’s comforting to know that even the baseline care provided at these facilities is of high quality. Professionals at these facilities are there for you and your loved one, whenever needed. Below you can find out other examples of personal care that are provided at assisted living facilities and nursing homes, alike:

Type/ Example of Care          Present in Both Assisted Living and Nursing Home

Medication Management     Someone is always there to be sure mom takes the right medicine at the right time

Sense of Community             Many opportunities to make friends, and feel emotionally, spiritually and physically uplifted

Supportive Services              These include laundry, housekeeping, transportation and more!

Secure Environment               From small things like grab bars and handrails in bathrooms to entire emergency call systems

Dietary Health                           Three well- balanced meals a day as well as nutritious snacks at all times

What's Different?

Let’s delve into ways in which care differs. The major differences exist in the care and services provided, and in the appearance of the facility:

Care and Services- Residents in nursing homes usually require around the clock care. This is because they typically live with more complex health conditions. That is why nursing homes come with nurses, therapists and even respiratory support. Contrastly, residents in an assisted living community generally require what’s called custodial care (hence, a different cost structure. check out our cost calculator). An example of this is memory care or help with moving from one location to another, or taking preventative measures to minimize falls.

Difference in build- This includes the layout and appearance of the institution. While a nursing home generally looks a little institutional because of the type of care provided, an assisted living usually resembles a normal apartment. Nursing home residents are more likely to share a room with another senior, since this expedites the ability to provide quality care. Residents in an assisted living community usually have their own apartment or suite.

Here's an excellent graphic from Brookdale Communities!

We hope this was helpful to you and that you can give some more thought to what type of facility might be the most fitting for your loved one!

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Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Are Not The Same Thing!

Mom is struggling at your childhood home, so you’ve started your senior living search. There are so many new terms- what do they all mean? Growing up, you had only heard of nursing homes and now you seem to be at a loss for what might be the best option for mom. This is a crucial decision as mom is so important to you and her quality of care and life are very surreal concerns of yours.

Why Do We Call Them Nursing Homes?

Since the mid 1980’s the senior care industry has become acutely aware of the needs of the aging, as they are dynamic and not one size fits all. An explosion occurred in the types of facilities that are offered to those searching for an assisted living solution. These options include hybrid, hospitality, housing, and health care. Since then, the options for assisted living have only become more and more abundant. This may sound overwhelming, but Senior Living Experts exist for this exact reason; we aim to best aid the aging population in all of Chicagoland, from, Barrington, to Schaumberg, to Highland Park.

Two Major Differences

Let's unpack and shed light on the different options available for senior living. First, let’s consider what the major differences are between assisted living and a nursing home:

  1. The services and care provided. For example, you may need a 24-hour nurse, or respiratory services.
  2. Physical structure that your loved one might live in. Different facilities have different price points.

It is very important to note that assisted living facilities have evolved over time to fit the needs of their patrons and to make them feel more at home. There are even senior care professionals and specific designers whose job is making sure that your loved ones are being heard, listened to, and cared for.

Lastly, remember: care is not one size fits all. There are options that have differing levels of care, differing communities, differing costs, different living cultures, and even have varied services such as memory care. In short, the options for assisted living are abundant and we are here to help you do your due diligence to make your loved one feel at home. Knowing even these basics will aid you in finding the best assisted living facility for someone you love.

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Is It Worth It? Moving Seniors Into Senior Living Communities During The Coronavirus Crisis

During this on-going global crisis one thing on the forefront of all our minds is the health and safety of our loved ones especially those who are older and require more care. Though it feels like the world has slowed down in some respects our loved ones are continuing to age and now might be the time that they are ready or needing to move into a senior living community, where less than 1% of residents get COVID-19. Even though this timing is not ideal here are some of the pros and cons of moving your senior loved ones into a senior living community.


Monitored Community

One of the biggest benefits and the reason many families move their loved ones to a community is for the consistent care and attention to medical needs (even small things that go unnoticed, like what they do to prevent falls). In a community residents health needs are always a top priority and are monitored closely this is very important with the risk of COVID-19. With this current health crisis what better place for your older loved ones to be then a place designed with their health needs in mind.

Sanitized with the Highest Standards

With COVID-19 one of the biggest suggestions given by our world health leaders is washing out hands and staying clean. Sanitation is a permanent top priority in senior living communities with an even bigger emphasis now. If your loved one struggles with independent self-care a senior living community can fulfil this need while also helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

All Food, Care & Necessities Provided

I’m sure by this point everyone has heard and or is familiar with the term social distancing. By moving your loved ones into a senior living community full social distancing is easily obtainable. All residents' needs are fulfilled in one place this includes food, medicine and other daily needs so trips to the grocery store or pharmacy will no longer be needed. During this time getting all your loved ones’ needs met can be difficult but you can be assured that they will be met in a senior living community.

No Interactions with Strangers

Another great thing senior living communities are doing during COVID-19 is limiting foot traffic. By limiting interactions with those outside of the community they also limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading.


It's difficult to tour communities because of social distancing. How do you know this is the right one?

When picking out a senior living community for your loved ones one aspect many enjoy is touring to find the right one. But with limited foot traffic through communities touring will not be possible for most. Though this is a downfall with the help of technology, virtual tours and online resources can give potential residents an idea of what each community has to offer, mostly when it's so expensive.

You're moving your loved one to a new environment during a difficult time

With the COVID-19 health crisis ongoing many of us are tempted to freak-out and hoard resources, like toilet paper, during this challenging time. While so much is on our minds moving our loved one into a senior living community may seem like a worrisome task. Even with this it's important to remember that care staff want what's best for your loved one just like you and you will be moving them into safe hands.

You're moving your loved ones around other seniors, who are also at high risk

We all know that COVID-19 poses a bigger threat to those over 65 so for many moving your older loved ones in with other similarly aged people may seem like a bad idea. With this though being around others who are elevated risk does not necessarily mean you are at higher risk for contamination. About 9 out of 10 cases of COVID-19 are being spread by “silent spreaders” so placing your loved one in a senior care community does not increase their risk because these communities have the facilities to practice social distancing and room isolation to slow the spread.

While COVID-19 is interrupting many aspects of our normal life you can now know the pros and cons of moving your loved one into a senior living community during this difficult time.

For More Info:“How 'Silent Spreaders' Are Fueling the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2020,

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Arielle Lewis from SelfHelp Home Is This Week's #MentionMonday

This week’s #MentionMonday is to Arielle Lewis, who created an information hub online (COVID19 for IL, AL and SNF (Aging Services) as a conversation forum and to keep those in Chicago eldercare up to date on news. She is part of the team supports seniors at The Selfhelp Home in Uptown and is going out of her way to provide information. Her team at SelfHelp now has a mobile "Shabbat Cart" and a video recording of messages from families for Friday night, already recorded a Passover seder to stream, and coordinated over 100 letters and cards to residents from community volunteers.

As for Arielle, she says of her work: “I am grateful every day for the love and compassion shared by the residents and staff at Selfhelp.” Follow their feed at The SelfHelp Home, or reach Arielle at

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Free Health Coaching for Eldercare Professionals During COVID-19

In the midst of the pandemic, Eldercare professionals have changed their habits, working different hours and managing more on their plate. In partnership with Senior Living Experts, Elizabeth Kaydanovsky, a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Chicago, is currently offering free health coaching sessions through April 30th for all eldercare professionals.

She specializes in effective mindset and lifestyle change that heals the body, mind, and soul on and off the plate.   Sign up for a 50 minute 1-on-1 health coaching session by emailing: or give her a call at (847) 732 – 9608 for more information and any questions.

You can see Elizabeth's blog at, highlighting recipes, nutrition, health and psychology tips.For other health support, check out our recent article on Diabetes and COVID-19 For Seniors!

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COVID-19 Volunteer Corner....goes to Mark Molinari!

Last week, we began highlighting Chicagoland individuals that go out of their way to help those vulnerable to COVID-19.  Our #MentionMonday this week goes out to Mark Molinari, the football coach and Architecture and Engineering teacher at Downers Grove South High School, and other teachers in that department are creating face shields for area hospitals and healthcare workers. Pictured is an employee of Edward Hospital, Naperville, Illinois receiving masks.

Here is his letter to friends and family of Downers Grove South High School:

"Tuesday, Scott Parker, Ryan Altenburg, Mike Heinz and I came together to work on developing a prototype for Face Shields. We were able to come together and develop a relatively inexpensive shield that uses all the 3D printers we have South High. We are close to making 80 per day 7 days a week. We have been able to give away over 200 to all across the state and locally to hospitals.Not all health care workers are able to receive a face shield. If you have family, relatives or loved ones that would benefit from these shields, fill out the form. I think its important for District 99 employee families have access to these. Keep in mind we are trying to do the best we can with time and resources please only order what you need. Once the form is completed, someone from our team will contact you when your shield is ready and where you can pick your shields up."

This is what community looks like!--------------------------Keep in mind that there are tons of resources in Chicago, mostly those to help seniors. Here are just some:

We're happy to be surrounded by so many amazing people, including Mark. Interested in How Senior Living Communities are Keeping Coronavirus away? Our friends around Chicago are doing their best to keep seniors safe.

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What Senior Living Communities, Average Americans, and Companies Are Helping Seniors During COVID-19

We at Senior Living Experts thought you needed some good news. Here's a list of all the ways Senior Living Communities, Average Americans, and Companies Are Helping Seniors During COVID-19.

How Communities Are Supporting Seniors

What do Senior Living Communities do in the face of Covid-19? They get creative to keep their residents happy and connected to their loved ones! Entertainers are providing their services to residents from the courtyard outside of communities so residents can enjoy from their balconies. Our Referral Partner, Lincolnwood Place, provided this to their residents last week.

Activities Directors are so creative in their ideas to provide engagement for the residents, but in a safe way. Here, you see residents enjoying a Bingo game from each other their rooms, abiding by the 6 foot distance rule.

Several communities have arranged FaceTime between seniors and loved ones. One example of this is Maplewood Senior Living (in Connecticut) have arranged for robots to provide FaceTime type capability, games, jokes, for residents to enjoy in their rooms.

How Americans Are Supporting Seniors

What do Americans do when faced with Adversity? We come together. we all have the capability of helping our neighbors by checking in on them. Our very own, Kerry Quirin, has contacted Downers Grove Township and placed herself on a list to shop for homebound seniors. Stay safe and healthy everyone! Here are some ways in which our fellow Americans have joined the fight against COVID-19:

Our Referral Partner, Providence Life Services, is asking anyone who has the capability to sew face masks and send them to their office in Tinley Park. Contact Senior Living Experts for the address.Here is a link to learn how to make face masks:

How Companies Are Supporting Seniors

In addition to companies like Target who are announcing pay raises, bonuses, and a new paid leave policy during the Covid-19 crisis, companies are stepping up.

Hope you found all of these amazing initiatives uplifting. Stay safe and have a good weekend!

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Diabetes and COVID-19 For Seniors

We know the aging population is predisposed to health threats due to their immuno-compromised state. But did you know that seniors with diabetes have an even higher risk?In general, diabetics are more likely to experience severe symptoms when fighting a virus. It is for that reason that it is important for the elderly and the diabetic to practice self-isolation and increased hygiene practices, especially during times like these. To be clear, diabetics are not at greater risk necessarily of becoming infected; it’s just that their complications can be more dire! It is important to be aware of the best way to stay safe and hygienic during a viral outbreak such as the COVID-19 outbreak currently taking place. Diabetics should use some of the “best practices” that are the same as they are for the seasonal flu:

  1. Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. A way to keep things interesting is by singing a verse or two of your favorite song to try and make sure you wash for long enough.
  2. In between washes, or if water and soap are inaccessible, use alcohol- based hand sanitizer. It should be at least 60% alcohol. Be careful that you don’t only use hand sanitizer, as people tend to become dependent on it, and it is still quite healthy to stick to the trusty water and soap!
  3. When sneezing, be sure to direct your nose towards your elbow or a tissue. Coronavirus spreads via droplets so if you sneeze in the direction of an individual, droplets of saliva, or other bodily fluids can potentially infect other individuals.
  4. Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes. If you do, be sure to sanitize your hands in whatever way is available to you.
  5. Be sure to clean your hard surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, phones, and computers regularly with an alcohol- based disinfectant that can kill viruses. Coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for multiple hours, and up to a few days.
  6. It is less important to try and clean all soft surfaces, as Coronavirus can’t survive in such conditions.

Planning during a time like this is quite important. Be sure to collect as much as you possibly can. Information is arguably more important than hoarding food and supplies for the apocalypse, so make sure you have the contact information of your health professionals, your pharmacy and your insurance provider.There are some items that you should keep in mind and keep on hand, especially if you are being self-contained:

  1. It is a great idea to try and secure extra refills on your prescriptions so you do not have to leave the house. Also see if your pharmacy can deliver (Consider that pharmacies and pharmacies may become a bit overburdened!).
  2. Try and keep lots of fruits and vegetables on hand to maintain your health, even during this trying time.
  3. You may be less active than normal, and you therefore may not pay attention to the fluids you are drinking. Be sure to drink enough water!
  4. Lower the risk of exposure when in large public spaces. Try and find an outdoor space where you can walk but minimize human interaction. Stretching your legs and getting fresh air is still very important for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

More than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been identified and diagnosed in Illinois. Containment is key to minimizing spread. If we are going to #flattenthecurve, it is imperative that all members of society, Chicago and beyond take this seriously. Even while we are going through this difficult time, senior living communities, whether in Barrington, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, are taking all the necessary precautions to keep your loved ones safe. Senior Living Experts can help you find the best senior living community in the area.

For more information:

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How Senior Living Communities Are Keeping Coronavirus Away

Contact our advisors if you have to make the decision of moving your loved one. Most are not accepting residents other than those with no other choice.During this difficult time one of the first thoughts on many people's minds is caring for our older loved ones and keeping them safe and healthy. As the Coronavirus or COVID-19 becomes more researched one of the things scientists are learning is how people over the age of 65 or with pre-existing autoimmune or respiratory conditions are at more risk. For many like myself, our elderly family resides in senior living communities and this is how they are keeping our loved ones safe. Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine One of the key prevention recommendations given by many medical experts is social distancing and self-quarantine. Social distancing is as stated by the CDC “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance”. Self-quarantine is the practice of staying isolated if you are ill in any way to avoid exposing others to your illness. In senior living communities this can be achieved because residents have their own rooms and personal space that they can spend time in instead of communal areas. Residents can also be immediately isolated if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread.

Proper Sanitation Another very important aspect of prevention is cleanliness, and this is a permanent standard in senior living communities. In times like this sanitation is taken extremely carefully in assisted living in order to keep our loved ones healthy. Things like washing hands and cleaning surfaces touched by many people regularly is prioritized. Most places have hand sanitizer that contains between 60-95% alcohol, and it is used if washing hands is unavailable. Keeping your unwashed hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes can be crucial in helping to prevent COVID-19. This can be achieved with the help of senior living community staff to assist seniors in personal hygiene.

Around-the-Clock Care One of the great aspects of senior living that living on your own lacks is the around-the-clock care and daily monitoring. The attention to detail the care staff pays towards seniors can make a world of difference in catching early symptoms. The consistent care staff is also there to make sure that residents normal medical needs are met during this health crisis. Flow of People in-and-out of Communities Other methods senior living communities are using to protect their residents is by controlling the flow of nonessential personnel throughout the community to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. This doesn’t mean you can’t visit your loved ones, but it does mean you will wash hands and try to keep traffic around the community to a minimum.Assisted living staff will also advise any visiting family to avoid coming if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness which could potentially weaken the immune system of residents. Even while we are going through this difficult time, senior living communities whether in Barrington, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, are taking all the necessary precautions to keep your loved ones safe.

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Tools for a Positive Transition to Senior Living

This article is published by Elizabeth Kaydanovsky a Chicagoland-based Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She can be contacted at you starting to explore senior living options for a loved one? If this is crossing your mind and you are starting to do research, it’s time to have an open and honest conversation with your elderly mother or father. Change can be scary. There are so many questions, moving parts, emotions, and research involved in making a decision for the future that affects the entire family, and while Senior Living Experts can help find the best place for them, your loved one must be willing to go.Transition can be taxing physically, emotionally and mentally, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be if done right! This requires honest conversations, discussing non-negotiables, research, and manageable action steps with your senior parents.

Honest Communication (AKA the Taboo of Senior Living)

Effective change starts with honest communication, always! So many subjects are taboo or delicate and many avoid bringing them to light with the people that matter most to them.Conversations about assisted living and senior living can be triggering with your elderly mother or father, but again – they don’t have to be. If you create an honest, safe space to talk, your parents  will be so much more open to exploring solutions. It requires a partnership, a place where both parties have equal input and most importantly listen to each other. No parent will shun the conversation if you approach them with compassion, care, and genuine love. Be honest with your family member about why you’re considering a senior living community. Ask them to express their feelings, fears, and non-negotiables as you navigate this process.


Your parents are entitled to their list of non-negotiables – in relationships, in work, and definitely in senior care. Their  list can start out as long as they want just to get all their thoughts on paper. Then together, you can go through and highlight top priorities. What remains are the non-negotiables. And be open and agile in conversation with your senior – again, listen to them. Their list of non-negotiables may not be what you expect, but you should respect it regardless. Always keep in mind that this is their transition, and they’ve soul-searched for what is most important to them. Now the goal is to take this final list and reference it throughout your research.


Any successful decision requires thorough research. Hard facts make transition much less scary – when you know what to expect, you pop the bubble of the unknown (or at least substantially minimize it). Cross-reference your non-negotiables to what an assisted living community recommended by your Senior Living Expert offers – present facts, numbers, and available amenities to your senior and give them some space and time to think. Look through the website together and get their initial feelings and reaction.The next step is physically exploring the senior living community together. Keep in mind that your family member may change his or her mind once they see it (and that’s okay! There are other options). Know that their thoughts and feelings are valid. This is new, unchartered territory for them, and therefore can create resistance or pause. Change requires baby steps.

Baby Steps

Successful change only happens through manageable action – baby steps. Take as small of steps as your elderly parent feels comfortable with. Meet them where they are and guide them at their pace. Do not pressure or delay their timeline – go as fast or slow as your parent, grandparent, or family member needs. Keep in mind that they know themselves and they also do not want to cause you any unnecessary worry or stress – they are doing the best they can. Always assume positive intent as they navigate a decision that will affect the rest of their life, and be a source of strength and support throughout.Transition can be a really positive space to be in – it requires you to get real, honest, and take action towards what you truly want, and your Expert is there to help. To make it seamless, your loved one needs support, understanding, love and actionable steps that feel safe and comfortable – this approach can make it a beautiful experience.

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What Is The Cost Comparison Between Senior Living and In-Home Care?

We all know someone who is getting older- a parent, grandparent, or another family member- and, because they become unable to live alone, you begin thinking about a senior  living community . Whether you're looking into this possibility now or preparing for the future, many families like yours wonder if it's worth it. Here are some reasons why a senior living community  is worth the extra expense:

  • No Home Maintenance

No matter the size of your home, there will always be maintenance involved in living there. Things like yard work and daily cleaning can be tolling and sometimes unachievable for seniors. This does not even include repair costs and the headache involved in hiring someone to help. When moving into a senior living community these issues are nonexistent or greatly minimized, leading to a more relaxed and enjoyable retirement for your loved ones.

  • Personalized Care

Everyone as they age require different care to remain happy and healthy, and in senior living those goals are easily attainable. When picking a community, whether it be assisted living or memory care plans for each senior are personalized to meet their needs. Health, both physical and mental, can be discussed with a Senior Living Advisor to find the best match in a community.  

  • Make New Friends

As we age getting out and about gets harder, so therefore making and maintaining friendships can also be more difficult for seniors. One of the great things about senior living communities is how they are meant to be social places. Whether your loved one is alone or does have a significant other, talking and enjoying activities with others is crucial to many senior's happiness and mental health. Seniors care communities offer many fun, enriching activities and amenities for seniors to enjoy all in a safe way matching their level of ability.

  • One Payment Covers most of your Needs

Life on your own can be a lot of paperwork and errands. One of the most convenient things about senior living is that one payment covers most of your needs. There’s no more need for weekly grocery store runs and paying the water bill because most of your loved one's needs will be covered.  

  • You're not getting Younger Move while your Healthy

Deciding when to move into a senior living community can be a difficult question for many families, but one thing to keep in mind when making this hard choice is that moving on your terms is always better than waiting till you must. Selling a home and moving to a new place is stressful so it's best to make the move while you're in good health. This also allows your loved one to have a bigger say in what they want in a community rather than waiting till the family must make the choice.  Though senior living communities do carry a higher expense they are well worth the cost for your loved ones. Whether in Barrington, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, senior living communities should be a top priority for your loved ones as they age!

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Your Elderly Mother Requires The Same Nutrients As Pregnant Women (Part 2)

I have a friend who’s a vegetarian, but I don’t think you’ve never met herbivore (haha!). Last week, we talked about 4 important nutrients: folate, potassium, magnesium, and B12. This week, we’re jumping into four more: calcium, vitamin d, Omega-3, and the last one is… water. That’s right.

  • Calcium plays many roles in the body. It
  • Maintains strong bones
  • Can be consumed in animal products such as dairy, plant- based foods such as kale and broccoli, and certain processed foods that are fortified with the mineral.

Very often, sources of calcium also provide the body with protein, both of which are needed for bone health. It is best to consume food, rather than supplements, but this can be done if necessary.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but many are fortified. Supplements of this vitamin are very common. Your body produces the vitamin when exposed to sunlight, but this process becomes less efficient over time.

  • Omega- 3’s are a type of fatty acid.
  • Can be found in soybeans, walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as in fish.
  • Can reduce symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
  • may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Fats in general are very important for body function and energy levels and when part of a balanced diet can help maintain optimal health.

  • Water may seem like an obvious “nutrient” for healthy living, but its importance cannot be emphasized enough.
  • The elderly very often forget to drink water, and over time their sense of thirst may even decline.
  • Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated
  • Some people may need to have their amount of fluids restricted due to medical reasons such as kidney or liver disease.

We previously learned that folate and fiber are incredibly important as you age. However, fiber absorbs water, which makes you should be sure to keep your water consumption high!Being healthy means eating a balanced diet. You can take vitamin supplements to help ensure that you are getting everything you need, (especially if you aren’t always in control of your food choices). Whether in Barrington,  Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, nutrition should be a top priority while you age!

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Your Elderly Mother Requires The Same Nutrients As Pregnant Women (Part 1)

Throughout your lifespan, your nutritional requirements change. The human body is dynamic as are its needs. But guess what?  The aging population actually requires the same nutrients as pregnant women. This is because pregnant women experience development and have increased requirements of certain vitamins and minerals.Pregnant women and the aging require similar and increased quantities of vitamins and minerals. Whether in a senior living facility, assisted living facility, or elsewhere, it is crucial to incorporate into your diet the proper foods to guarantee you have everything you need to be healthy. Here are the most important nutrients you need to know about.

Important Nutrients:

  1. Folate, also known as folic acid and vitamin B9.
  • Deficiency in folate is one of the causes of anemia(and pregnant women who are deficient risk having children with neural tube defects)
  • Folate is a key player in RNA and DNA synthesis
  • Wrong levels of folate can cause cancer

You should ideally always focus on obtaining nutrients from food sources. If you are ever wondering which foods contain folate, just think of fiber! Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains are rich in fiber and folate. Also, don’t forget that fiber is incredibly beneficial to the bacteria in your gut and keeps you healthy. If you’re getting older or you’re pregnant, remember, eat those plants!

  1. Potassium is a mineral.
  • You need it for cell function, energy regulation and bone strength
  • It is thought to reduce high blood pressure and the risk of kidney stones, both of which are quite common in the aging population.

You can find potassium in  plant- foods such as bananas, prunes, plums, and potatoes. Try to consume potatoes with the peels on, as the majority of its nutrients are concentrated in the area between the skin and flesh.

  1. Magnesium consumption is particularly important in seniors, since as you age, magnesium absorption becomes less efficient.
  • The aging population should  consume a diverse array of fruits, vegetables and grains.
  • Certain medications, such as diuretics can interfere with the absorption of this mineral.

Magnesium is important for bodily processes such as heart function, immunity, and bone health, all of which are crucial throughout life as well as during aging.  Eat raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is very important to maintain your magnesium levels.

  1. Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin.
  • Vitamin B12 is crucial for protein metabolism, DNA and RNA synthesis, and central nervous system function.
  • Deficiency can be dangerous, and can lead to anemia, dementia, and the degeneration of the nervous system.

That means that animals have B12 because they are what they eat! It is important for people of all ages to consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, whether in food form or in supplement form.Being healthy means eating a balanced diet. You can take vitamin supplements to help ensure that you are getting everything you need, (especially if you aren’t always in control of your food choices). Whether in Barrington,  Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, nutrition should be a top priority while you age!Next week, I’ll write on 4 more nutrients that both pregnant women and seniors need. Stay tuned!

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6 Things Senior Living Communities Do to Prevent Falls

“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” has practically become part of American culture at this point, but sometimes medical alert systems aren’t enough- that’s why you’ve moved your elderly parent to a senior living community. Part of the reason is the fear of falling, as falling for seniors can often be detrimental, leading to broken bones and long healing times, so avoidance is key. Senior living communities here in Chicago, from Artis, to Brookdale, to Presbyterian Homes take steps by ensure the health and safety of their residents.  

Knowing a Resident's History

When working with elderly in senior care one of the most important things to know is a resident's history, this includes their medical and cognitive history, as well as  if they’ve ever fallen in the past. Knowing if a resident suffers from symptoms like vertigo can be key in keeping the appropriate living environment to fit their needs. Also being aware of what medications residents take and their side effects is good for fall prevention. Cognitive wellness also plays a role in falling diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s can greatly affect balance. Parkinson's specifically has a symptom of postural instability and gait disturbance (PIGD) which can lead to falls. Knowing falling history can also be helpful in assisted living facilities so staff can try to avoid past problems.

Resident workout plans

Another helpful way a senior living facility avoids falls is preventative exercise and workout plans that focus on a resident's core muscles. Exercises that emphasize balance are key and many can be done inside without gym equipment.

Limiting tripping hazards

Tripping can often lead to a fall for seniors so avoiding tripping hazards is important to senior care facilities. One way to do this is by minimizing clutter in residents' rooms and walkways. Staff should be attentive to fallen items and displaced furniture. Adding grippy flooring in areas is also helpful. Marking any step or ramp incline brings awareness to seniors on the obstacle and helps them ask for assistance if needed.

Hand and Guard Rails

Hand and guard rails are also useful tools of avoidance. Many senior care facilities are careful in the placement of these by placing them in key areas like by beds, toilets and bathtubs can help seniors maintain their balance in tough situations. In long stretches of hallway rails are also useful to help with fatigue when walking by giving residents a place to hold for stability.

Good lighting

As we age our eyesight often declines too, so by having areas well-lit it helps to improve senior's awareness of their surroundings which can help them reduce trips and falls. Proper bright lighting is both cost effective and easy. Key areas such as communal spaces, bedrooms, and hallways should always have good lighting.

Have Adequate Personal Aids and staff

Another key aspect to fall avoidance in assisted living is adequate staff and aids. Residents should always be able to contact staff via call buttons or other tools. Having friendly staff available and ready to help and assist reduces the chances of a senior trying to do something on their own with the potential risk of a fall or injury.

When looking into senior living in the Chicagoland area these 6 tips are a necessity for any facility to avoid falls for the wellness of your loved ones. Whether in Barrington,  Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, safety should be a top priority while you age!

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Today, Medicare is not enough to cover your senior living facility.

It seems to me that someone, somewhere once thought that Medicare pays for everything. I think now that more and more people are on Medicare we are finding out that it does not. Medicare is HEALTH INSURANCE. Often times I have to explain to children of elderly parents that Medicare is NOT going to pay for their long term care needs. Medicare will not pay for room and board or care at an assisted living community. In fact, it will only pay for a limited number of days at a skilled nursing home upon discharge from the hospital. Then, the patient, should the decide to stay, needs to pay "out of pocket."

Its just like the health insurance that we have. It will pay for doctors visits and medication to some extent, but if we got laid up in a nursing home, and had to stay it would not pay after a certain number of days. Heck, the insurance companies have new mothers out of the hospital the day after birth because they don't want to pay for the "room and board."

But let me back up. Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older. You apply for it. And you pay for it, just like you pay a monthly premium for the health insurance you get through your job.

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7 Chair Exercises for Seniors

As you settle in your new community, your old habits will change. You now have a new walking path and the excercize machine from back home won't be around. In order for an individual to remain active, they need to exercise. This is even more important as we age since the muscles and joints start to weaken. To help them stay in shape and remain active at the retirement community that your family placed you in with the help of Senior Living Experts, some form of exercise is required.Of course, as we age, we can no longer perform exercise that we once could. In fact, many find the process itself tedious and difficult since our body isn't as agile as it used to be, mostly in the cold Chicago winters. However, some form of exercise must be done so your muscles and joints don't deteriorate. Which is where chair exercises come in. There is no need for heavy weights or even a caregiver to help you with the exercises. All that is needed is a chair and the following exercises:

Seated Chest Press

3 sets of 10 repetitionsA major benefit of the chest press is that it works for three major groups at the same time, your chests, triceps, and shoulders. To perform this exercise you will need a resistance band and a chair:1. Tie the resistance band to the chair. You want to tie it directly behind where you will sit on the chair so when you sit, the band will be at shoulder length to you. Make sure it is securely tied so it doesn't move.2. Sit on the chair, make sure you are far back in it so your back is against the backrest.3. Grab the resistance band, making sure it is at shoulder length and push it forward using your chest and arms. Make sure to keep your abs and legs stable as you do this.4. Bring the band back in towards the chest and repeat.

Seated Knee-Crunch

3 sets of 10 repetitionsThe core is involved in your everyday activity so you want to make sure you perform exercises that strengthen it. To perform the seated knee-crunch you need to:1. Sit on the chair towards the edge of the chair with your back slightly leaning back with your chest out. Make sure to tighten your back and stomach and place both hands on the side of the chair for stability.2. Raise your legs and lift your knees as far up towards your chest as possible.3. Lower your knees back to the starting position and repeat.

Modified Plank

Planks are another form of exercise that targets the core. To perform a modified plank you need to:1. Stand up facing the chair.2. Place your hands on the seat of the chair with your elbows slightly bent. Now move your feet back until you are positioned diagonally to the chair. You will be in a push-up position with the chair. Make sure to keep your core and back tight and hold yourself in this position for 30 seconds.3. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Tummy Twist

3 sets of 10 repetitionsThe tummy twist is the final exercise on our list that targets your overall core. To perform the tummy twist you will need a medicine ball and need to:1. Grab the medicine ball and sit comfortably on the chair. You may want to sit at the edge so you have plenty of room to move your arms left and right while you have the medicine ball in between your hands.2. Lift the ball so it rests in your hand at your lower chest and upper abs. Rotate the ball keeping your core tight with your arms to the left and right slowly. One rep is one rotation from left to right.3. Repeat for 10 repetitions.

Chair Squats

3 sets of 10 repetitionsLegs are a major part of mobility and therefore there is a need for you to keep them in shape. Chair squats are a simple exercise that you can do to target the legs.1. You can start off by sitting on the chair.2. Place both hands in front of your body, make sure your feet are positioned so they point outward and push up using your hips and upper legs until you are standing.3. Sit back down and repeat.

Knee Extensions

3 sets of 10 repetitionsYou want to make sure your knees remain agile as you age. Knee problems aren’t just painful but can lead to other serious injuries. So make sure to perform knee extensions to keep your knees mobile.1. Sit on the chair and lean back against the backrest.2. Keep your core tight and have your chest out. Lift the lower part of one of your legs, making sure to start from it being at a 90-degree angle from the floor. Raise it until it is parallel to the floor.3. Lower the leg and do the same with the other. Do 10 repetitions with each leg.

Seated Calf Raise

3 sets of 10 repetitionsThe calves are an important yet neglected part of the legs. You want to make sure you exercise and target them as they help your legs stay in shape to walk. Seated calf raises are a simple exercise you can do:

  1. Sit comfortably on the chair with your legs relaxed. Make sure your feet rest on the ground.
  2. With your toes and the front heel slowly raise your legs up. As you do this, make sure that the toes are planted firmly and never leave the ground. You should use your calves as the main source to lift your leg. Do this until you notice your calves have tightened up.
  3. Slowly bring your back heel down but don’t touch the ground, right as you are about to touch the ground with your back heel, raise your legs up again.
  4. Repeat for 10 repetitions.

It is important that you keep your body active as you age. It may be difficult to lift weights but there are other exercises you can do to ensure your muscles and joints remain active so they don’t cause you pain or get injured.

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Long-term care insurance and why it should be seriously considered

According to the New York Life insurance brochure, about 52% of Americans will develop some type of disability which will require long term care in their future. The estimated cost for just one person needing long term care is $172,000. As with everything, planning ahead is imperative, and long term care insurance is no different. By the time long term care is needed, it’s too late to get long term care insurance. A good time to start thinking of getting it is in your 50’s or early 60’s. In planning for this time in life, asking yourself these questions is important:

Who will take care of you, and how much will your care cost?

What is your guaranteed income in retirement?

Would your home be your primary means in paying for long term care?

If any other asset is your primary means for long term care, are there tax consequences to liquidate it?

What does long term care cost in your area?

Senior Living Experts can help you in researching this. What is the right amount of coverage for you? I have met a financial advisor who’s mantra is “A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing”. Meaning, you don’t need to cover all possible scenarios that your care needs may require, but choosing a moderate plan that will cover the majority of the care that you may need should suffice.

The younger you are when purchasing coverage will ensure the premiums are much less, and because someone in their mid-40’s is most likely in good health, this is also a good time to think of getting long term care coverage started. Most of the New York Life policy holders indicate that they would not be able to receive the care they are currently getting if they didn’t have coverage. They would be forced to rely on family for care and financially as well to cover their care needs.

We all want to remain independent and long term care insurance allows us to pay for our care needed, whether that be with the help of a home care company, or senior living community. Senior Living Experts would be happy to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. We can go over the costs based on your location in Chicagoland, and if you are working with a diagnosis that requires a specific level of care. We will help educate you on what is in the marketplace, so that you can take the next planning step which is to secure your future with long term care insurance.

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Great Gift Options for Seniors

It’s important to remember our seniors who are often isolated and lonely in terms of making sure we visit them enough, and the occasional surprise gift that we all love to receive from time to time. Recently, there was a national news story about a young girl who discovered what it was that residents in skilled nursing facilities would like as a small gift. You would think would be more than things such as Kleenex, hand cream, candy bars, and other simple toiletries that we all take for granted. The girl was able to raise enough money to supply all the residents with these basic needs that meant so much to them. Here are some other ideas to keep in mind for your senior loved one when deciding what special surprise you would like to get them:

Gifts for Seniors that Keep Special Memories

Photo Album

Who doesn’t like to reminisce about old times and great memories? It means so much to the senior to be able to recall all of the family and friends that made their lives so meaningful. Recalling family parties, momentous events, family vacations, and the kids when they were young. A date added to each picture would help to recall the exact time and could trigger even more happy memories the senior shared with their family and friends at the time. This, a truly meaningful gift for a senior.

Custom Photo Calendar

We have made these for my husband’s mom using pictures of all of her grandchildren. Each month, she gets to flip over a new picture and smiling face of her beautiful grandchild. You may be able to add some wording on the event in the picture, the names of who is in the picture, and their ages at the time. It’s definitely a conversation starter when guests come into the seniors home, and is great for those family members who live far away and can’t see each other as often. It’s a good way to highlight family traditions as the months go by and the events we share throughout the year.

Digital Photo Frame

Talk about technology, how about a digital photo frame that changes installed pictures every couple of seconds? It’s like a revolving photo album! Another great gift for a senior, and conversation starter. The movement of the photos really brings them to life, and helps the senior feel as if their loved one is literally in the same room as them. New pictures can be added all the time very easily.

Gifts for Elderly that Entertain and Engage


Another great gift for a senior, both in terms of working the brain through putting together a puzzle, but also doing so with the end result being a big picture of their loved ones! In most senior living communities, you will see puzzles being worked on by residents. It’s a popular activity. So, for the senior to have their very own, very personal puzzle to work on would be a highlight of their day! Once completed, the senior can have the puzzle framed.

CD of Favorite Songs

We made a CD of all of my mom’s favorite songs for her 70th birthday. She loved it! And, at her party, we played the CD and we all ended up loving it too! We remembered all of her favorite artists and songs, and it brought back so many memories. We all know how important music is to helping people feel calm, happy, and having the ability to trigger memories. Mom can play it anytime she wants to remember the times during the popularity of those songs, but also to remember the culmination of all of her favorites at her birthday party!

Gifts for Seniors that Provide Amazing Experience

Gift Card to Favorite Restaurants

Another great gift idea, is a gift card for the senior to be able to go out to their favorite restaurant, or for the family to arrive with their favorite meal once in a while. It could be a prime rib steak, or an old fashioned Chicago Style hot dog, but either way, the senior will love their favorite bite to eat!


It’s often hard for seniors to get around when driving has been given up. So, ride vouchers through the village they live in, or ride sharing services, may be a great gift to give an active senior who needs to get around.

Gifts for Elderly that Keep them Warm

Blanket with Family Pictures

Any picture can be put on just about anything, so why not a warm, comforting blanket? It’s great for seniors to literally feel wrapped up in their family’s love, and the senior will feel their family with them at all times. Some folks may not be aware of technology being able to print a picture on so many items, especially a blanket, so this gift may really be a showstopper!


Recently, during the holiday season, we received a request from a senior who wanted a warm, hooded sweatshirt. My mom is also someone who loves getting warm, fleece sweatshirts. Easy pull on pants are another good option for seniors, as well as slip on shoes. We all love new things and could use a new pair of clothing items as a great gift.


The best gift to give a senior is your time. When they see your face, they light up. They are so excited to catch up and see what you have been up to, how your family is doing, how your kids are, and just be in your presence. They have everything they want in terms of material possessions. Instead, what they want is your time, your arm while walking, your kiss goodbye, and your promise to come back real soon. So, don’t waste your time looking for the right senior living solution for your loved one, contact us at (773) 938-3772 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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The Best Activities for Seniors: A List of Fun Ideas for Elderly

What are the Best Activities for Seniors? The “best” is in the eye of the beholder, but with a little help from, here is a list of options for seniors to consider for fun activities to engage in on a daily basis:

Activities for Elderly that Build the Body

Regular Exercise

In all senior living communities, we find full on fitness centers, or at the very least, the space available to hold a fitness class of some short. For seniors who are less mobile, communities offer chair exercise and chair yoga as alternatives. I have seen balance machines in communities with detect for the senior in which direction they would fall if in fact, they were to lose balance. This tool helps the senior understand which direction their body would tend to fall, and then therapy team members can teach the resident “how" to fall properly. Nobody expects to fall, but often this is what we see happen to seniors all too often. If we are able to educate them on the safest way to break your fall, they may not experience fractures, which we certainly all want to avoid. Exercise is a great activity for the more mobile senior too, and can add Tai Chi as an option, a walking club, dance classes, and trainer supervised resistance training. After a hard workout, we are also seeing more massage stations brought into senior living communities to relax the senior, loosen tight muscle groups, and make the senior aware of any potential health concerns noticed.

Go outside!

This is so important, even in the cooler weather. We all need sunshine and fresh air on a daily basis. If a senior cannot get outside, open a window. Sit inside, but in the sunshine and close your eyes letting the sun hit your face. This is an enjoyable activity for anyone, especially seniors who are often more prone to being indoors. I was visiting a senior living community a week ago, and when I left, it was about 30 degrees outside. It was dark as well, as it’s only the beginning of March in Chicago. As I opened the door and walked out onto the front porch of the community, I see a son enjoying some time with his mom and both were all bundled up! I was so happy to see that the son realizes how important being outside is, and how important fresh air is to make us all feel alive! March in Chicago, 30 degrees, bundled all up... Do what you have to do to get your senior outside everyday!

Activities for Seniors that Promote Imagination and Creativity

Arts and crafts

As in hobbies, our lives are so busy, we often don’t get to be as creative as we would like to be in terms of drawing, painting, sculpting, putting together scrapbooks, and the newest craze being coloring books! Working on our “masterpieces” causes one to relax, reduces stress, and anxiety. We often lose ourselves in our artistic works not realizing how much time has gone by! Senior living communities consider creativity and art to be a very unique and celebrated activity for seniors as you see some of the residents’ works displayed around the community for all to enjoy.


Often our lives are so busy, we don’t get to partake in the hobbies that we love as much as we would like to. Being a senior is a great time to pick up the hobby that they used to like to do, but never had the time for. Now is the time! Whether it’s knitting, woodworking, gardening, playing an instrument, or baking, senior living communities support their residents by finding ways to bring these hobbies back to the seniors who are willing to try them again. More and more communities that are new are actually waiting for their seniors to move in to determine an activity calendar because they want resident input. If the residents want to garden, raised garden beds will be built, supplies purchased, and plots divvied up! If a resident always played a particular instrument, but no longer has it, there is an opportunity to rent one and allow the resident to try it again. Hobbies are a great activity for seniors to re-familiarize themselves with, and share their hobby with their new friends.

Activities for Elderly that Sharpen the Mind and Helps to Relax


This is a great way to exercise the brain, relax, and let yourself go into another world through a great story. Seniors can choose a great book, but also magazines, E-reading, and audio books are a great option as well. Reading an old favorite can help the senior recall the events of the story which is a great tool to exercise the brain by recalling the plot, sequence to the story, and conclusion. In senior living communities as a favorite activity for the seniors, book clubs are a popular and well attended activity slot for the day. This gives the seniors the ability to participate in discussion, relate the storyline to their own lives, and is an important tool in overall socialization for the seniors. If the senior was never a big reader, they may not be aware of audiobooks as another form of storytelling, as well as the E-reading phenomenon now, so we need to be sure to introduce those mediums as a way for seniors to engage in this activity.

Play games

Game rooms are a big part of senior living communities now. Rooms are often dedicated to Scrabble playing, card playing of all kind, Bingo, word searches and puzzles. This allows residents to form groups who would like to play, or simply going in the game room on their own and putting in a few pieces to the puzzle, is a great activity for seniors.

TV, Movies, and Music

We don’t want residents watching too much TV as there are so many other more enriching activities to take part in. However, with shows from the Food Network, for example, the recipes can be followed by the baking club at the community, and a delicious treat can be created by the residents! Demonstration kitchens are often seen in senior living communities now as a way to bring a favorite recipe back for all to try. Movie nights are a regular fun activity for seniors as they reminisce about their favorite actors, favorite lines in a movie, and favorite love stories or adventures. Finally, music is imperative as a favorite activity to be brought to seniors on a daily basis. We have seen studies on how playing music to non-verbal Alzheimer’s patients can trigger language, conversation, and old memories to surface. Entertainment is an escape, just like a favorite book.

Best Social Activities for Seniors


In working with seniors for 23 years this year, I have learned two things that the senior loves as an activity: anything to do with children and pets! They love both, and when children or animals walk through the doors of a community, faces brighten up! A lot of communities offer pet therapy as a favorite activity, as well as intergenerational activities such as seniors helping young children to read and write. It works both ways here, as the child is just as happy to be with the senior, as the senior is to be with the child.


Many seniors who live in senior living communities choose to volunteer at their nearest hospital or church. Volunteering gives seniors a sense of purpose, and this activity is as beneficial for the senior, as it is for the receiver. Knitting for the newborn preemies at the nearby hospital, stuffing envelopes for a not-for-profit organization, assembling care packages for the troops are just some ways a senior can help to give back. It’s a purposeful activity for the senior, that has a ripple effect in the good that it does for so many.Many senior living communities are stepping up their activity programs by asking residents what they have always wanted to do, but never could. So, when something like “skydiving” is brought up, don’t be surprised if the community works to clear the resident for the potential of fulfilling a lifelong dream! Activities are important for all of us on a daily basis, but for seniors, it’s the lifestyle that they so deserve. If you are looking for the right senior living solution for your loved one, contact us at (773) 938-3772 and we’ll be happy to help you

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Connect with an Advisor

Michelle Caliri

Senior Care Advisor

Kerry Quirin

Senior Care Advisor


What happens next?


Your expert advisor will accumulate information necessary for proper placement, such as your needs, location, and budget.


We provide numerous recommendations based on the details provided. Our goal is to combine your needs with our knowledge of senior communities.


Your advisor will accompany you on tours so your search can be as thorough as possible. We want what’s best for your loved ones just as much as you do.


After a choice has been made and your loved one has moved into their new home, we will continuously check in to make sure everything is going well.

Together, let’s begin the journey to finding the home that will enhance the life of your family.

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