Skilled Nurses vs Assisted Living

Differences Between Assisted Living Facilities & Skilled Nurses Living

With so many residential types, fee structures, and potential benefits, finding the right place can quickly become a discouraging and confusing process. Sometimes the best way to understand one option is to compare it to another one. This article will seek to compare and contrast ALF (assisted living facilities) and SNL (skilled nurses living).

Differences Between Assisted Living Facilities & Skilled Nurses Living

Skilled Nurses Living

Assisted Living Facilities

1. Provides a safe environment for someone who has significant medical needs. 1. Provides a safe environment for someone who needs only help with daily living activities.
2. This is a medical living setting. 2. This is a more residential setting.
3. These facilities are required to have a registered nurse on site for at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. 3. ALF have licensed practical nurses and/or registered nurses accessible and on-call, but they are not required by law to be on-site.
4. Usually SNL is short term. 4. ALF are more of a long-term plan for care.
5. The goal is to provide more short term care in hopes of returning to more individualized living. 5. The goal is to provide an individual with as much independence as he or she desires.
6. Because skilled nursing exists to help individuals following a hospitalization or sudden decline in health. 6. Residents of assisted living enjoy great freedom deciding how often and to what degree they need or want assistance.
7. The cost is higher due to 24 hour care that is provided. 7. Costs are less per month, however it is more of a long-term solution.
8. SNL is likely to be covered by insurance. 8. ALF is not likely to be covered by insurance, but can be covered by long-term care plans if an individual has one in their insurance plans.


There are benefits and drawbacks to both options and the best fit will differ for each family. The most important thing to consider is what you or a loved one needs. Orchard at Athens is happy to help walk you through this process of decision making. If you need help deciding or would like more information, please contact us today.

Geriatric Care Manager

Dementia & Geriatric Care Manager Benefits

As you and your loved one begin to navigate caregiving for someone with dementia, it may become very overwhelming. One person who can help with this process is a Geriatric Care Manager. This individual is typically a medical professional or social worker who assists with navigating the many levels of care that are needed for someone with dementia.

Geriatric Care Manager & Services Offered

There are many things that these care managers can assist with including:

  • Discuss difficult topics and complex issues
  • Make home visits and suggest needed services
  • Address emotional concerns
  • Make short- and long-term plans
  • Evaluate in-home care needs
  • Select care personnel
  • Coordinate medical services
  • Evaluate other living arrangements
  • Provide caregiver stress relief

Finding the Right Fit

It can take some time to find a case manager who is right for your family. There are several routes that one can take in order to find the right fit. One way to look is online. is a great resource for finding case managers. It also may be beneficial to ask others you know who might have had a case manager at some point. When interviewing for the position, you should ask questions that will give you good insight on the type of care that will be provided. Some example questions you might ask are:

  • Are you a licensed Geriatric Care Manager?
  • How long have you been providing care management services?
  • What is your comfort level with caring for patients who have dementia?
  • What medical training or background do you have?
  • Are you available for emergencies around the clock?
  • How will you communicate information to me?
  • Can you provide references?

The more questions you ask, the more information you will have. Never be afraid to ask questions when it comes to care for someone you love.

If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, a Geriatric Care Manager can help you understand options, tradeoffs and costs. Here at Orchard at Athens, we are happy to be a part of the process. If you or someone you love are interested in finding out more about all we have to offer, contact us today.

Tips During The Holidays For Caregivers

Tips During The Holidays For Caregivers

While the holidays are a great time to spend time with those we love, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with dementia. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with dementia visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays.

Tips During The Holidays For Caregivers

The holidays can be tricky. One one hand, they conjure up positive memories of the past, but on the other hand, they can be a reminder of what was. They also can be a time of added stress and extra worry.

Here are some ways to balance doing many holiday-related activities while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with dementia. The following tips will help with maintaining a stable environment, preparing friends and family and preparing the person with dementia for events.

  • Celebrate holidays that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
  • Set your own limits, and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives.
  • Incorporate the person with dementia as much as possible. Whether it is in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give the person the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
  • Consider simplifying your holidays around the home. Instead of elaborate decorations, consider choosing a few select items.
  • Encourage friends and family to visit even if it’s difficult. Limit the number of visitors at any one time, or have a few people visit quietly with the person in a separate room. Plan visits when the person usually is at his or her best.
  • Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as a family photo album, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
  • Make sure there is a space where the person can rest when he or she goes to larger gatherings.
  • Explain that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional. No one should take anything personal.
  • Stress that the meaningfulness of the moment together matters more than what the person remembers.
  • Begin reminding the person with dementia of who all will be in attendance. You can use photos to help jog their memory.
  • Arrange a phone call or FaceTime for the person with Alzheimer’s and the visitor. The call gives the visitor an idea of what to expect and gives the person with memory loss an opportunity to become familiar with the visitor.
  • Keep the memory-impaired person’s routine as close to normal as possible.
  • During the business of the holiday season, do your best to avoid fatigue and find time for adequate rest.

Although the Holiday Season can bring about extra worry and stress, there are some steps you can take to make it a more enjoyable time for you and your loved ones. Taking the time to prepare all peoples involved can really make a difference in the time that is spent with one another. Here at Orchard at Athens, we are ready to adjust with you and your families. If you’re interested in learning more about all we have to offer, please contact us today!

Being A Dementia Caregiver During COVID-19

Being A Dementia Caregiver During COVID-19

It is undeniable that the impact of COVID-19 has infiltrated the lives of everyone in America. A person with dementia and those caring for these persons are not excluded. Without doubt, it is important now more than ever to take the necessary steps to care for yourself and loved ones who may be suffering from dementia.

Reducing Risk & Avoiding Exposure

As a caregiver, it will benefit yourself and the person you care for to reduce your risk of exposure as much as possible. Here is a list of ways you can do this.

  • Wash your hands a frequently as possible
  • Wear a mask or face covering around others
  • Reduce unnecessary trips in public
  • Physically distance from others as much as possible
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Disinfect your home or the home you are caring in often
  • Wash and dry laundry frequently

Try Keeping To A Routine

Navigating through a global pandemic is probably not something that most of us have had to figure out before. It is beneficial to try and maintain a daily schedule as frequently as possible. Create an environment in your home or in the home of the person you are caring for that is relaxing and as stress free as possible. If a loved one had previously been cared for by someone else during the day, try to recreate as many of the same routines and activities as you can.

Create A Plan Ahead Of Time

Planning ahead, in the event that you do get the virus, will help to reduce any obstacles you may face. You should watch for changes in their behavior that might be indicators of not feeling well. If the symptoms they are showing are not life threatening, you should call before going to the doctor. With all the procedures and protocols in place, most facilities have restricted entrances.

Another thing to think about is what to do if you get sick. You should have plans in place for someone to take your place to be able to provide daily care.

It is a good idea to talk to the person you are caring for about what your plan is so that they can somewhat be prepared if you get sick.

There are many action steps that can be taken to make sure that you and someone you care for are safe. Orchard at Athens has several policies and protocols in place for the safety and health of our residents, staff and their families. Residents are still able to spend time with and see family members if they so desire. If you would like to learn more about our community and safety procedures, please contact us.

Dementia & Relationship Changes

Dementia & Relationship Changes

If someone you love is diagnosed with dementia, it is highly likely that your relationship with them will eventually be impacted. Dealing with these changes can be difficult and uncomfortable. It is always important to remember that you are doing the best you can for them and yourself. 

Dementia & Relationship Changes

As a person’s dementia progresses and you provide them with more support, your roles in the relationship are likely to change. This change will occur depending on your relationship to the diagnosed individual (parent, spouse, friend, sibling, etc.) You will find the many adjustments that are necessary difficult. Some aspects of this may provide you with comfort and support and you may be able to talk about many of the same things you used to. If you need to start doing tasks that the person with dementia used to do – such as paying the bills, driving or cooking – you might find this difficult to accept or get used to. 

Dementia & Romantic Partner Changes

If you’re caring for a partner with dementia, your romantic relationship is likely to change as their condition progresses. Some people find it very difficult to maintain a romantic relationship with someone who requires so much. It is no longer a two-way street, and therefore feelings change. Sometimes you might even feel guilty for wanting to continue your romantic relationship with a partner – though it’s natural to continue to want intimacy. 

Common Feelings For Dementia Caregivers

Many people have mixed feelings about being in a caring role. The relationship between you and the person you’re caring for might be complex. Positive emotions are a possibility when you are caring for a partner with dementia. If your relationship with this person has always been strong, you may feel a desire to continue to love and support them just as you always have. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to take on such a large responsibility. Negative emotions can also be a result of caring for a partner with dementia. Some of those emotions would include, but are not limited to guild, grief, anger, resentment, exhaust, embarrassment, or anger. 

It is important to remember that all of your feelings are valid. You should not try to suppress anything that you are feeling. If you can’t talk to your partner about it, you should find someone who you can speak with. Orchard at Athens is here to help you on this journey. Please contact us today to learn more about our community! 

Strategies For Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

Strategies For Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

Dementia is a progressive disease. As time goes on, the brain’s functionality decreases resulting in a decrease of a multitude of other bodily functions (physical and mental). One of the most challenging aspects to handle is the changes in behavior. In this articles we’ll discuss some strategies for managing those dementia behavior changes.

Strategies For Managing Dementia Behavior Changes

There is no right way to deal with changes in behavior. The changes and needs of a person can vary depending on many different factors. Below are listed some general tips for dealing with behavior change.

  • Help them stay in touch with loved ones- facetime, write letters, call, text, etc.
  • Encourage the person to do things they enjoy or find useful- hobbies are always a great outlet.
  • Make changes to their environment if necessary.
  • Be aware of the person’s beliefs and thoughts and try not to argue with them
  •  Ask the person’s doctor to check for any possible physical causes, including pain, and advise on any treatments.
  • Try to remember that the person is not behaving this way on purpose. Try not to take it personally.
  • Even though a person with dementia may have problems with their memory, they still feel and respond to emotions.
  • Offer the person gentle reassurance. If you need to, try stepping away from the situation to give you both time to calm down.
  • Try not to show feelings of frustration as it may make things worse.

Changes in behavior can be very difficult for you. They may make you feel frustrated or distressed and affect your relationship with the person you’re caring for. You may also worry that people are judging you or expecting too much of you, or that they don’t understand the challenges you face.

Orchard at Athens helps our residents and their families manage changes in behavior. Our highly effective staff is flexible and willing to work individuals for what they need. Please contact us today to learn more about our community and how we can help you or your loved one.

8 Tips For Caregivers

8 Tips For Caregivers

When someone we love needs more support in their life, it can become a big job and, at times, can be very challenging. This article provides some helpful tips for caregivers facing challenging situations.

8 Tips For Caregivers

1) Try To Be Objective

Take an objective “look” at the situation and consider both points of view…

  • It can be challenging to know what the right support is for another person
  • It can be hard to accept support from someone even if they are a family member
  • When someone is living with brain change, they may not know that they need support
  • Most family caregivers have not been educated in how to be a caregiver
  • Most family caregivers did not expect to be in this position
  • Being a caregiver can be exhausting

2) Take A Step Back

When things are not going well, take a step back and…

  • Take 5 deep breaths
  • Ask yourself, what are you seeing, and hearing that may help you understand the other person’s experience
  • Try to see yourself in the other person’s place
  • Decide if this a time to take a break or try something different

3) Learn About “Lived Experience”

Try to understand and learn more about the “lived experience” of the other person, meaning:

  • Reach out for support and knowledge. Orchard at Athens is a community resource that specializes in caregiver strategies and support
  • Know what the person’s abilities are
  • Know what support is needed
  • Know how to offer this support in a nonthreatening (anxiety decreasing) way
  • Remember that no one wants to be told what to do

When someone does something that surprises us or seems irrational or illogical, these are the typical reasons:

  • A person feels out of control and is trying to get control of their situation so they feel more secure
  • Someone is trying to communicate a need
  • Someone is trying to solve a problem

4) Respond

Consider the following when you get frustrated or angry:

  • Stop trying to correct or trying to fix things
  • Keep your voice calm
  • Refrain from “reminding” the person or using the word “remember”
  • Rather than argue, apologize even if you don’t think you need to

5) Connect

Relationship is the most important thing, so:

  • Connect with the person
  • Find ways to support their capabilities

6) Make A Plan

Plans will likely need to change, but consider the following:

  • Make a schedule
  • Don’t force your agenda – being tied to an agenda takes our focus off of the person and on to a task.
  • Remember that everyone has their OWN agenda
  • Think of alternatives before you need them
  • Be creative

7) Talk To Someone

An outside point of view is almost always helpful, so consider what may be available in your community.

  • Orchard at Athens has professionals that can help support and guide you in your caregiving journey

8) Don’t Forget About Self-care

Self-care is extremely important, so consider the following:

  • Find people around that can support you
  • Reach out to a faith community or local support group
  • When something isn’t working, take a step back and 3 deep breaths
  • Take a respite moment every day even if it is for 15 minutes

When someone we love needs more support in their life, it can become a big and challenging job. Orchard at Athens is a senior living community in Athens GA that understands this and is here to help. Contact us for more information about our community and the programs we offer.

Stages of Dementia

Dementia: Scientific Stages & Treatment

Do you ever wonder how Grandpa remembers everyone’s birthday? I can barely keep up with what day of the week it is. Some research has shown that as people age, they begin to forget more recent people, places and things because their brain has actually run out of room! This is very characteristic of dementia.  Dementia can be defined as “Dementia, a neurocognitive disorder, refers to a range of progressive mental and behavioral changes caused by cerebrovascular or neurological diseases that permanently damage the brain by impairing the activity of brain cells.” Basically, a change in our brain and how it works, thus how the rest of our body works.

Stages of Dementia

Aging becomes much more prominent in individuals who suffer from dementia. There are many stages of dementia with specific symptoms noticed at each stage. Also, at each stage, there are very specific changes happening in the brain. Here is a progression of what happens to the brain at each stage of Alzheimer’s (one type of dementia).

Mild – The disease spreads to the part of the brain that controls our memory of personal events and factual information. This stage still allows individuals to live on their own, however they may require help with more simple tasks.

Moderate – Disease spreads to the part of the brain that controls our language comprehension, hearing, visual processing, and facial recognition.

Severe – The disease spreads to the part of the brain that controls movement, so most patients become bed-ridden. It can also affect one’s ability to eat, thus making swallowing difficult.

How To Treat Dementia

Keeping in mind that there are no cures for dementia, there are several ways to treat the disease that makes life easier and more enjoyable for those who are diagnosed. Below are listed a few ways you can treat someone who has dementia.

  • Medicine that helps with cognitive ability
  • Medicine that lessens the symptoms of dementia
  • Occupational therapy
  • Cognitive Stimulation
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Sensory therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Physical activity
  • Animal therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Exercise

As a caregiver, it will be up to you and your loved one as to which treatment you decide on. This can vary case by case. It is important to choose treatment that is realistic and attainable for you and the person who may be in your care. Orchard at Athens is a senior living community in Athens GA that offers many opportunities that fall under several of the treatment categories listed above. If you are interested in finding out more about how our community can help, please contact us.

Person-Centered Care

Person-Centered Care

Person-centered care is the practice of caring for people and their families in ways that are meaningful and valuable to the individual. It includes listening to, informing, involving and collaborating with people about their health care. The IOM (Institute of Medicine) defines patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

Orchard at Athens believes the tenants of person-centered care are foundational for a good experience in an assisted living community and should be questioned when searching for a community. The Picker Institute and Harvard Medical School used a focus group to help create eight principles of person-centered care which include the following areas.

Respect For Patients’ Values, Preferences & Expressed Needs

Involve patients in decision-making, recognizing they are individuals with their own unique values and preferences. Treat patients with dignity, respect and sensitivity to his/her cultural values and autonomy.

  • Does the community gather comprehensive information on preferences of daily routines, social and professional history, values, interests, relationships, spiritual and or religious practices, hobbies and preferred leisure activities, etc..

Coordination & Integration Of Care

  • People that require assistance with living can often feel powerless and vulnerable. Therefore, the community must engage in proper coordination of support to help nurture empowerment and dignity.

Information & Education

Does the community provide on-going educational opportunities to families and residents, and does the community keep an ongoing dialogue with the family regarding their loved one?

Physical Comfort

  • Does the community understand the physical needs of their residents, and do they make adaptations to meet those needs?

Emotional Support & Alleviation Of Fear & Anxiety

  • Does the community understand the emotional needs of their residents, and do they foster a culture of belonging and connection?

Involvement Of Family & Friends

  • Does the community have an open dialogue with family, and do they help educate and support a family in ways of staying connected with their loved one?
  • Is the family an integral part of the plan for support, and are they encouraged to be part of finding solutions and being proactive in their loved one’s support?

Continuity & Transition

  • What is the procedure for keeping continuity of staffing and programming?
  • How does the community handle transitions of support, and how is the family and resident supported in this?

Access To Care

  • What is the medical staffing?
  • How accessible is medical staff and care?

Orchard at Athens is proud to provide all of these described tenants and can guarantee a person-centered experience for residents and their extended family and friends. If you’re looking for a senior living facility in Athens that provides a person-centered experience please Contact Us to schedule a tour.

Maintaining Independence With Dementia

Maintaining Independence With Dementia

Oftentimes what comes with a dementia diagnosis is a loss of independence. Now, someone is counting on another person or people for tasks they are used to doing alone. The good news is that there are several ways to help an individual remain independent in some ways. This article will discuss ways for people with dementia to practice independence and ways for caregivers to encourage independence in the people they care for.

Tips For Keeping Your Independence With Dementia

Here are the many ways that people with dementia can play an active role in keeping their sense of independence in their homes.

  1. Create a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.
  2. Use your phone, a bulletin board or sticky notes to set reminders.
  3. Utilize technology to help with simple tasks such as directions, cooking or communicating.
  4. Label the things in your house that you might have trouble remembering.
  5. Write things down that you know you won’t want to forget.
  6. Volunteer in your community.

Tips for Dementia Caregivers

Caregivers can play an active role in assisting someone with dementia keep their sense of independence. Not only is this important for the patient, but it is also important for the caregiver.

  • Provide opportunities for social engagement
  • Coordinate care between all caregivers .
  • Create a safe, comfortable environment that reflects the person’s preferences and personality.
  • Encourage participation in daily activities
  • Focus on the person’s abilities
  • Encourage physical activity

Many people do not look forward to a day and age when we have to ask others for help. We don’t like to think about depending on others for basic needs such as paying bills, going to the grocery store or getting dressed. Keeping this in mind, independence is very important to maintain for elderly people. It helps preserve their sense of purpose in life. Orchard at Athens works together to help our residents keep their individuality. We even have jobs for people if they want them! If you think our community would be a good fit for you or a loved one, contact us today!