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Stroke Education Imperative for Cincinnati Retirement Communities


stroke educationStroke is one of today’s leading causes of death, fourth in the United States, but it’s one of the least discussed and recognizable health conditions for one of the highest risk populations—women.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death among women, but a recently conducted study has revealed that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. could not identify a single sign of stroke, and only 51% recognized some of the more predominant signs.

As Cincinnati retirement communities change and evolve, health and wellness initiatives must respond to critical issues like these. To ensure the health of their residents, communities must teach them the importance of understanding what a stroke is, what the signs are, what can be done prevent them, and how to react if a stroke is happening either to themselves or to a friend.

The following tips offer a good starting point.

What is a Stroke?

Simply a put, a stroke is a kind of “brain attack” where blood flow to the brain is interrupted in 1 of 2 ways.

  1. A blood clot can block a blood vessel or artery in an ischemic stroke
  2. A blood vessel can break and bleed in a hemorrhagic stroke 

In either case, the cells surrounding the blood vessel or artery begin to die due to the lack of oxygen and vital nutrients, causing damage to the brain.

What are the Signs of Stroke?

As a stroke is a severe brain injury, those being affected by one may not even know they are in the midst of an attack. To those around them, they may appear confused or unsure of their surroundings. One of the most important and necessary steps to saving a life and keeping damage to a minimum is not just recognizing someone is having a stroke, but reacting quickly.

Stroke symptoms happen fast, making their appearance that much more apparent if those around the person having one understands what’s happening.

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, and/or leg which will usually be isolated on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, and comprehension problems
  • Vision issues either in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness, difficulty walking, balance issues, or lack of coordination
  • A sudden, severe headache with no known cause

It’s important to understand that stroke symptoms have sudden onset, so they would likely be recognizably aberrant behavior—  even in the case of more subtle symptoms like vision problems and severe headache.

Stroke Prevention

If your loved ones smoke or suffer from a chronic condition like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, they do have a higher risk of having a stroke. Basic wellness measures like quitting smoking– immediately – and managing blood pressure, heart issues, diabetes, or high cholesterol greatly reduces their chance of suffering a stroke.

Prevention is obviously the ultimate goal, but in the event of a stroke fast action could mean the difference between life and death or permanent damage.

What to Do When a Stroke Happens? Act Fast.

It goes without saying that a stroke is a medical emergency, so acting fast is the key to saving a life, preventing extensive damage, and starting the road to recovery. The longer blood flow is cut off, interrupted, or altered, the more damage done.

Ischemic strokes, which account for about 80% of all reported strokes, can be treated with a drug that dissolves the blood clots keeping blood from flowing to the brain, preventing permanent damage—but only when administered in a timely manner.

Stroke patients need treatment within 3 hours, but it’s vital for those having a stroke to be at the hospital within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms. Those who receive treatment within the first 3 hours may be up to 30% more likely to have a fuller recovery with minimal or no disability after 3 months.

Worried about a loved one? Download our tipsheet to decideif it's time to talk about senior care.


Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Cincinnati Retirement Communities in for a Healthcare Shakeup in 2015


health care shakeupWith the Affordable Care Act bringing a broad spectrum of changes to healthcare in the United States– the first major overhaul we’ve seen in decades– senior healthcare, in particular, is seeing some significant changes and improvements.

The Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare, as it’s known colloquially – sets in place a slew of changes that directly affect Medicare, the federal health care program for people who are 65 years old or older. These changes, applied at the national level, have already started to cascade to state and local health care apparatuses in a variety of important ways.

But what are these changes, and how will they directly affect Cincinnati retirement communities?

What Are Changes That Seniors Should Be Aware Of?

The Affordable Care Act expands Medicare benefits in some important ways.

Lower drug and medication costs, more preventive care, and spending reductions will all average out to more than $5,000 in savings for each senior over the next 10 years. In the 4 years since the Affordable Care Act was introduced and enacted, it’s estimated that the new benefits have already saved enrollees almost $10 billion dollars in prescription drug costs.

  • Prevention and Wellness. In addition to  annual wellness visits in which elderly patients can discuss health issues and concerns with their primary care physician, seniors are also offered many preventive services that have no out-of-pocket costs, like flu shots, assistance in helping to quit smoking, and screenings for cancer, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases
  • Lower Costs. With Medicare becoming more efficient, overall health care costs are reduced, keeping Medicare Part B premiums from rising. In addition to these reductions, prescription drug prices have also been lowered, with more discounts and the closing of coverage gaps accounting for large portion of the reduction of costs.
  • Keeping a Closer Eye on Fraud, Waste, and Abuse. Because of the Affordable Care Act, new resources and tools have been put in to place to help uncover, and recover, billions of dollars lost to fraud. Medicare payments are now under more scrutiny, and individuals and companies who are caught abusing the law and will face stricter penalties.

The direct affect the new legislation will have on Cincinnati retirement communities is yet to be seen, but the Cincinnati healthcare system as a whole, though, is already seeing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

Charting the Changing Healthcare Landscape in Cincinnati

With the sweeping changes and tighter oversight of medical spending and the care received, newer, more modern facilities becomes more of a necessity.

And in Greater Cincinnati, newer, more modern and efficient medical offices and facilities are already under construction, giving substance and reality to some of the Affordable Care Act’s most important undertakings

One of the most visible changes is the ground breaking for the TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital.

TriHealth, which currently operates 4 hospitals in Cincinnati, plans to build a fifth this year, to be opened in 2015, that will provide “inpatient care for people with acute medical issues such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, amputation, neurological disorders, and musculoskeletal and orthopedic conditions.”

Much like the Affordable Care Act aims to simplify the process of receiving medical care and maintaining health, the 60-bed TriHealth Rehabilitation will take the place of other, smaller rehabilitation programs at other local hospitals, centralizing rehabilitation care in the area into a single high-tech facility that would better serve patients.

And as more plans for new facilities like these taking shape, offering better, more efficient care options— including the oversight needed to keep health care costs from expanding— the Affordable Care Act is changing the face of health care, one city at a time.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Lack of Sleep Does More Than Disrupt the Rhythms of Senior Life


senior man asleep on benchLack of sleep is often viewed as a side effect of other health problems, but sleeplessness can be a serious concern in itself. Whether you’re struggling with a bout of insomnia or painful arthritis flare ups are keeping you from getting shut eye, lack of sleep can directly impact your health in a frightful number of ways.

While some of the more common side effects of sleep deprivation are fairly well-known– grogginess, slower reflexes, irritability–recent studies are showing just how much of a negative impact lack of sleep can have. From those everyday annoyances to lasting effects that can disrupt, damage, and your health in the long run, we’re finding out that getting the right amount of sleep means more to than just waking up, feeling refreshed each morning.

Sleeplessness might even be contributing to some of your current health problems.

1. Serious Health Risks

There are plenty of reasons that seniors aren’t getting enough sleep. You might be kept up at night by insomnia, side effects of your medications or medical problems, or maybe you’re just too restless to fall asleep at night. Whatever the cause, your lack of shut eye can add a deeper risk for some very serious health issues.

  • Increased risk of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart/cardiovascular disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes

Senior life is already greatly affected by an ever increasing risk for these common health problems, but sleep deprivation has been shown to exacerbate these already volatile issues. Anyone of these conditions on its own would be cause for concern, but lack of sleep adds an extra edge to to their severity.

2. Weight Gain

A sedentary lifestyle already puts seniors at risk for weight gain, but if you aren’t getting at least seven hours a night, you’re compounding the problem. It’s been shown that lack of sleep can lead to increased appetite and even actual cravings for less than healthy foods, which only increases weight gain as it’s left unchecked.

3. Memory Loss, Lessened Cognitive Abilities

If you’re no stranger to restless nights, you’ve probably gotten used to feeling groggy and a little bit slow of the mark– but you may not realize that the nights you’ve spent tossing and turning may be contributed to even more serious cognitive decline. Research has shown that certain important functions related to memory and memory maintenance take place during sleep which means that not getting enough sleep can greatly affect your cognitive ability. Bouts of forgetfulness increase as attentiveness, alertness, concentration, and reasoning and problem solving become much more difficult to maintain.

4. Depression

Over time, sleep deprivation can contribute to depression and anxiety in major ways. Insomnia has been directly linked to depression in some cases, typically considered a major warnings sign before diagnosis is sought. Unfortunately, these two feed off of each other, in turn aggravating each issue exponentially. Coincidentally, treating either of these issues tends to help relieve the other.

5. Increased Mortality Rates

It’s not instantaneous, but lack of sleep over time– in the case of several studies conducted, losing just a couple of hours of sleep from normal sleeping patterns – can lead to an increased risk of mortality from major health issues. While risk is heightened across the board, decrease in sleep has been documented as doubling mortality rates among older adults with the various forms of cardiovascular problems.

The Bottom Line

It can be difficult to find balance between finding time to enjoy life after retirement and work on improving your health. But taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle— like getting more exercise or eating a well-balanced diet— could help improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get and make all the difference in the quality of senior life.

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Senior Housing Trends of 2014


senior housing trendsWithout a doubt, senior housing has come a long way in the past few decades. But there are always improvements to be made.

Current trends indicate that the next few years will see a boom in senior housing as interest peaks in investing in such projects. This interest is expect to spark the construction of a record number of new modernized, efficient, and technologically up-to-date facilities —not to mention all of the current facilities looking to modernize.

This trend itself is reflective of the growing number of seniors (the last of the Boomers turn 50 this year) who are more vocal about the lifestyle and living arrangements they want after retirement—an active, well- connected community with a home-like atmosphere that boasts all the comforts and amenities of their previous life.

What this means for Cincinnati retirement communities remains to be seen, but if current trends present themselves in the same way on a local scale as they are nationally, the face of senior housing will be changing dramatically, leaving local seniors with much more to look forward to in the future.

There are a few common areas where retirement communities across the US will be focusing their attention in the next few years.

Customization— Making What’s Yours Truly “Yours”

Most retirement communities--and even nursing homes-- already allow residents to personalize their space to some degree, but seniors may soon be able to take that personalization one step further as customization is high on the list of items being improved in communities throughout the nation.

Retirement communities are reimagining senior living from the ground up--starting with their very foundations! Customization will be key in creating floor plans and designs that step away from common designs towards a personally satisfying environment that feels like a “facility,” and more like “home.”

On-Site Care— Prevention, Emergency Services, and Everything in Between

No matter the current health or state of mind of an older adult who makes the transition to senior housing, at some point, residents are likely to need some form of assisted care-- whether that means something as simple as a shuttle service or as complex as a regular medical attention. But finding transportation, keeping appointments, and getting high quality medical care could get a lot easier as they may move a bit closer to home.

As alterations are made to how communities are designed and built, it will become more common to see medical facilities of some kind built in to the already substantial infrastructure of a retirement community. Accessibility becomes a key concern for older adults, and having on-site medical services will go a long way towards making residents feel safer and more comfortable.

Getting – and Staying – Connected

A few years ago it may have been a novelty for seniors to use computers and the internet, but today it’s simply part of everyday life form many older Americans. As we’ve all grown more connected, sending email, using Facebook and video chat services, and even blogging have become common ways for seniors to interact, communicate, and stay in touch with friends and family.

To address their continuing popularity, and, arguably, their necessity, many communities are creating spaces devoted solely to computer training classes-- or simply giving residents somewhere to use computers and access the internet.

Health and Wellness – Keeping the Mind, Body, and Spirit Strong

It’s no secret that loneliness and depression can lead to declines in not just morale, but physical health, too. It’s with this knowledge in mind that health and wellness centers have already started to become a common feature in many retirement communities-- and in the next few years it will be all but standard practice to include space for a fitness center in the design of new communities.

The Bottom Line

Cincinnati retirement communities could see a lot of changes in the coming year, and beyond, that offer robust improvements and amenities to new and current residents. These are just a few of the big ideas taking shape.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Get the Best Spring Cleaning Tips for Senior Housing


senior housing spring cleaningWith warmer weather comes parties, get-togethers, and family gatherings, so Springtime means cook-outs, pool and garden parties, and celebrations full of love and laughter. But after the cold winter months finally start to disappear and the temperatures start to rise, it’s not uncommon to find that things around the house or apartment are in need of a little more TLC than you might have first thought.

Thankfully, there are more than enough hints and tips to make cleaning up, organizing, and getting ready for spring and summer easier, faster, and more thorough.

Whether you’re expecting company, or are just clearing out the accumulated clutter and detritus from a long winter, there are many ways you can make the most of your spring cleaning.

Start with a list.

It can be as simple as “clean the living room and wash the dishes” to begin with, but don’t be afraid to take it a few steps further by adding detailed directions—both for yourself and anyone who might be helping out. By simply adding instructions and clarifying to “move the rugs and shake them out,” or, “pull out the cushions off the couch and clean underneath,” you’re likely to get more done, and enjoy your results just a little bit more.

Make a clear plan of action.

For those with sizable living spaces, breaking down what needs cleaned, when, and how often can help make things a little easier (but won’t keep you from having to clean entirely, unfortunately). What’s great about this approach, aside from the peace of mind it will create, is that you can break down those sections of your living space in to simpler, workable areas.

It’s helpful to break down each room into tasks that you can accomplish consecutively or spaced out over a period of days. An overwhelmingly cluttered bedroom, for example, could be parceled out into manageable tasks like “collect dirty laundry” or “change sheets.”

Break it down and create routines.

Creating a list is all well and good, and even accomplishing the goals set down in the list is its own kind of reward. But how do you keep things from getting back to how they were at the start?

Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, creating an ongoing routine turns housecleaning into a maintenance task that can be completed in a few minutes instead of an overwhelming job that can wear you out over the course of an entire day.

Work smarter, not harder.  

Part of “maintenance” might mean doing things a little differently than you’re used to. No matter where you are in the house, having the items you use most or need often within easy reach, and at the same level as your eyes – sitting down or standing up, depending on where you are at the time– means less time spent searching them out. As well, centralizing the things you need most and labeling containers for specific items or specific kinds of items will help to keep things organized and cut down on clutter.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If it’s too much to handle, asking for help can mean the difference between getting started and giving up, or completing more than you set out to do in the first place.

Though it may seem daunting, and maybe even a bit overwhelming, a clean house or apartment starts with a clear plan of action. Taking the parts of your living space and compartmentalizing tasks, creating lists with concise goals and how you want to complete them, as well as enlisting the help of those who are able and willing, will help to make a tiring, lengthy task much easier, a little more enjoyable, and much faster to accomplish.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Senior Housing Scams Top FBI's List of Crimes against The Elderly


senior housing scamsThough we always want to expect the best of new acquaintances, it’s becoming increasingly common for seniors to find themselves victims of people they thought were trustworthy. While that’s certainly more the exception than the rule, senior citizens have become a favorite target of many of today’s scam artists. The new senior housing bubble is a primary focus of those trying to cheat seniors out of the money they’ve worked so hard to save up, and there are several other types of scams and fraud that these predators rely on.

Are Seniors Easy Targets?

As someone brought up in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, many of today’s older adults were raised to behave a certain way— to show respect and be polite in all situations and to believe that honesty and truthfulness weren’t just good and proper, but were the only way to live. And scam artists take advantage of this, as well as the shame and confusion caused by fraudulent activity.

If your loved one was taken advantage of, their fear that it may be seen as a lessening of their mental capabilities and capacities could be cause alone for not speaking up. Many senior citizens do not know who to report these activities to, or may not even know how to.

Avoiding these types of volatile, humiliating, and hurtful situations starts with understanding them and recognizing when your loved ones may be falling victim to such disdainful activities.

When it comes to high cost scams, the FBI reports a fraudulent reverse mortgage– or, home equity conversion mortgage (HECM)– as being perpetrated and “engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.”

Reverse Mortgage Scams and How to Avoid Them

A reverse mortgage “enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance.”

In other words, if your loved ones own their house, they can tap in to its value and effectively turn that value in to cash without having to pay it back. Reverse mortgages increased an incredible 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating an opportunity for amplified fraudulent activities. And, unfortunately, seniors have become easy targets for those activities.

In many instances, seniors reported they were offered free homes, opportunities for investment, and assistance with foreclosures or refinancing, and can also be unwitting “straw buyers” in property flipping scams. Often, seniors are targeted through seemingly legitimate means like television, radio, billboards, and mailers, and can even be approached through activities held at local churches and investment seminars.

Encourage your loved ones not to respond to unsolicited advertisements, phone calls, or sales visits. And as with anything else, they should not sign anything they do not understand, and should never accept payment from someone for a home they did not purchase. If you want to insure that your loved ones are not falling victim to such a reverse mortgage scam—or any other kind of financial fraud—is to seek out a financial counselor.

The Bottom Line

There is no shortage of ways for those dishonest enough to take advantage of senior citizens to do so. Reverse mortgages offer a significantly more lucrative opportunity for scam artists than others. Take time to speak with your loved ones about how they are managing their assets, and do not be afraid to speak up in situations that seem dangerous.

Worried about a loved one? Download our tipsheet to decideif it's time to talk about senior care.
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Will the Interest in Senior Housing Translate into Better Care?


senior careAmerica is a rapidly graying country. Demographics experts say that in the very near future our older population will outnumber the younger generations for the first time in our nation’s history. And with the average occupancy of current retirement communities already exceeding 89%, there will soon come a time where these existing facilities will no longer be able to keep up with the demands of seniors in need of both housing and care.

As we creep toward that day, the interest in senior housing facilities has been piqued among investors and developers. And the question of what this interest will mean for the future of senior living in the next few years is one worth considering.

As investment firms and building companies begin to look into developing more retirement communities as a revenue stream, the struggle won’t be in creating enough communities to meet demands, but in maintaining a balance between profit and quality.

What Does This Mean Right Now?

The future of senior housing is very much in question, at least as far as whether a new method of organization will take the place of the tradition retirement community. And while finding new solutions will be a valuable investment, finding ways to maintain well established communities will be just as important.

When your loved ones are in need of senior housing, either in an independentretirement community or in a dedicated medical facility, you want to know that the facilities and grounds are both well-maintained and that there is a dedicated focus on improving quality of life regardless of lifestyle or medical needs.

Looking Ahead

It’s difficult to know with any certainty just how this new, intense interest in senior housing will affect the quantity and quality of any facilities built in the future. It’s likely, however, that it will have at least some positive impact on the design, construction, and maintenance of those facilities in many fascinating new ways.

Let's take a look at how things might play out in the future.

1. More investors could mean a higher standard is set for senior living.

With more funding from the start, design and functionality should see an increase in quality and creativity, with environments that suit senior life. More facilities will be able to offer senior housing with that looks and feels like a better version of home.

Seniors looking for a community with amenities equal to their previous quality of life and standard of living should be spoiled for choice. Activities, menus, and the opportunity to spend their days in comfort and in the company of those with the same interests should become a staple of senior living.

2. Medical needs could be addressed through technology and design.

For those with medical needs, mild or severe, combining state of the art design and functionality with advancements in both medications and technology means better care and a better quality of life. Coupled with the increased ability to hire and retain highly qualified employees and caretakers, the industry itself has everything to gain from utilizing this new interest in senior housing.

The Bottom Line

While there’s no way to know if today’s interests and plan making will lead to anything substantive, the future certainly seems bright. With this renewed interest comes the possibility of significant and positive changes to an industry that has always had the future on its mind-- even while concerning itself with present-day care-- which can be a comfort to those many Americans soon to retire.

It may even give you the confidence to start planning now so that you make the best choices about your life after retirement, both now and in the future.

Worried about a loved one? Download our tipsheet to decideif it's time to talk about senior care.
Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Cincinnati Seniors See Success in Teaming Up with Local Volunteers


senior volunteerOne of the most exciting, and fulfilling, aspects of living within a retirement community is built right into the name– the sense of community itself. The idea of creating an environment that is welcoming and projects a feeling of familiarity and family is one of the central tenets and hallmarks of the strongest communities, and not just those for Cincinnati seniors.

However, moving into a retirement community doesn’t mean cutting off ties with your old life or even abandoning the dynamic lifestyle you knew.

As with life before retirement, life after the big move can, and should, be filled with the same kinds of outreach programs and socially engaging activities that bring people together and help those in need. While you will find yourself surrounded by new faces, you’ll still be able to continue serving and assisting those who need it most.

Cincinnati Seniors Stay Active and Engaged within the Community.

From the time they choose which community to join, Cincinnati seniors can find themselves involved in any number of great causes for the ideas and beliefs they hold most dear.

Recently, as part of a senior CAPSTONE project, a Mount Notre Dame High School student sought the help of 3 of Cincinnati’s most respected and preeminent retirement communities to address a unique, but often overlooked issue.

Encouraged to address problems plaguing those less fortunate, the student focused her attention on poverty stricken areas. Noticing a severe lack of functional, and more importantly, sanitary, means of receiving and keeping much needed medications and antibiotics safe and clean, they searched for a way to solve a problem many had overlooked.

Within the communities most affected, the much needed assistance, provided in the form of donated medications, only solved half the problem. While the medications would indeed reach their destination– the hands of families and individuals who so desperately needed them– keeping them safe, clean, and stored in a sanitary manner was impossible, as they were regularly handed out only to find their way in to pockets of soiled clothing or dirty, overused baggies.

And though they would reach those most in need, the medication would frequently get lost, oftentimes before they could be taken and achieve their intended effect.

What was needed was a way to store them after they were dispersed, helping to guarantee their use, and to provide the aid and relief they were meant for— a way to keep medications safe, secure, and sanitary.

As part of the program created and lead by the Mount Notre Dame students, seniors from 3 separate retirement communities came together to donated over 5,000 empty pill bottles to be recycled for less fortunate families—2,000 more than the original 3,000 goal.

Cincinnati seniors are helping help make community programs an unmitigated success.

The wild success of the pill bottle program shows just how easy it is for Cincinnati seniors to get involved in community projects.  And while this is only one example of the opportunities retirement communities offer, it illustrates perfectly how it can be the small things that are the biggest help for those in need.

Finding a retirement community that holds those same values can be a way for you to remain active in your town and stay connected to the world around you.

Transition doesn’t mean giving up the activities that have been close to your heart. Many retirement communities offer their own similar community service and outreach programs, so it’s never difficult to find new ways to get involved, too.

In fact, activism, volunteering, and community service can be a necessary part of mental and emotional wellness— and they’re also good indications that a community is strong, vibrant, and aware of the needs of those around them.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

Could Architecture Be the Next Frontier for Senior Healthcare?


senior architectureLike any other facility where individuals who suffer from contagious illness reside, retirement communities and nursing are, to some degree, prone to the spread of those diseases— no matter how diligent the sanitation protocols and practices.

The very nature of these care facilities– closed environments designed to allow the free movement, ease of mobility, easy access, and navigation of staff and residents– can make the spread of contagious viruses and bacteria unavoidable. Yet the actual design of the facility itself is often overlooked when it comes to addresses the cause of outbreaks.

However, design—floor plans, the materials used to make the structure itself and those used to cover its surfaces, as well as the design of internal systems like heating, cooling, and ventilation—may play a significant role in infection or recovery.

A Confluence of Medical Science and Architecture

Recent studies have found that various microbial and bacterial environments are heavily impacted – and even created and maintained because of– the design and layout of a building.

The flow of ventilation, the layout of heating and cooling systems, and access to and from outdoor environments (or lack thereof) all work to create a unique biome within a building, each with its own population and variety of microbes and bacterium.

Generally speaking, these are the harmless, garden variety bacteria with which contact is common and, in most cases, unavoidable.

In an environments like senior care facilities, the design and layout of the building and space can dramatically impact the way a disease or illness might spread. These facilities, simply by their nature, house residents that can spread an infectious disease at a quickened pace. However, it wasn’t until recently that the variables involved in the design of certain systems within a building, or the layout of its rooms and floors, would have been considered as a possible means of exacerbating an already difficult issue.

While certain precautions and preventative measures are taken in every senior care facility, infectious diseases do spread– though the exact frequency and severity are unknown.

Dealing with Contagion

Advancements in filtration, interior and industrial design are already being incorporated into the architectural plans of any new facilities– though as yet no direct connection as been made between improved health and the advancing technology. However, it’s not difficult to imagine that as studies continue, new methods will be revealed that will help make medicinal and care facilities safe from disease and infection.

Utilizing these findings for the benefit of not just senior care facilities, but also for hospitals and other places of care and wellness may be the most logical next step.

Viruses and infectious diseases spread exponentially in an environment where residents share common sources of air, food, water, and care. Therefore, finding new and effective ways to design, create, and maintain facilities that are used for such vital purposes takes on new meaning.

Stopping the spread of illnesses and diseases like influenza and tuberculosis within a care facility is an important task for senior healthcare.

Strict sanitary and sanitation procedures have been the first step towards prevention in the retirement community. And immunizations and the right medications have helped to ensure that senior communities are able to manage the spread of illness within.

But science dreams of a day when the spread of these airborne contagions are prevented.

It will take time to know for sure if the design – both interior and exterior, industrial and architectural – of any given building, let alone a senior care facility, can have any kind of positive or negative effect on those dwelling within. The evidence is provocative, though, and may lead to some wonderful new design ideas that will help your loved ones maintain a high standard of living, quality of life, and wellness for a long time to come.

Enjoy Life after Retirement.Download Our Senior Living Guide and Find Your Community

Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.

We’ve Got the Scoop on How Medicare Cuts Affect Senior Healthcare


scoop on medicare cuts and senior healthcareAt first glance, the reduction of $716 billion in Medicare funding over the course of the next 10 years comes off as treachery. It's the most severe and costly cut to the program yet. And if your elderly parents or other loved ones rely on Medicare for health coverage, it will have a direct impact on your family.

However, while there will be noticeable differences, many of them are actually for the better, benefitting your loved ones in some important, and vital, ways.

How the Reductions Work

The cornerstone of any health care plan, senior care or otherwise, is to provide coverage when something is wrong– illness, accident, disease – and to aid in recovery. To date, much of the senior healthcare landscape has been filled with doctors, nurses, and facilities meant to provide care after a health event has occur, whether something as a common as the flu or a more severe diagnosis like dementia. With the introduction and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both as a whole and in relation to Medicare, however, the focus has shifted to preventative care.

According to the ACA, the $716 billion in cuts that will take place of over the course of the next 10 years break down as follows (though these numbers do not reflect the total sum to be reduced):

  • It is estimated that Medicare spending would be reduced by $716 billion due to the stoppage of annual increases in reimbursement for Medicare Advantage, as well as hospital costs, hospices, home health services, and skilled nursing services.
  • Hospitals will see the most reductions – close to $260 billion over the next decade.
  • Medicare Advantage will see about $156 billion less over the same amount of time.
  • Home health will receive $66 billion less
  • Hospice Care will see a decrease of $17 billion
  • There will $39 billion reduction to skilled nursing services, as well.

The key to these cuts– both why they are being made and what they're hoped to accomplish– is to keep Medicare costs from growing at the same rate that they have been, effectively extending the life of the Medicare trust fund to the year 2026.

Yes, there may be coverage lost, but the gains are significant and worth taking the time to understand.

How the Cuts Affect Seniors

There’s no way around it– many programs and hospitals will see reductions. Doctors and physicians will be dropped from network coverage. And your loved ones may be affected in some unforeseen ways. However, it's not all bad news.

The reduction of payments, through penalties, to certain hospitals will serve as the necessary push for those hospitals with the highest rates of hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions to improve their care, both initially and follow-up.

In addition to quality of care, there have been legitimate concerns about the availability of care for seniors. And the new penalty program than cuts funding to underperforming hospitals also seeks to push hospitals to become more efficient. If a healthcare providers must watch their expenditures more closely, then their use of available funds and supplies should see a noticeable adjustment. But it's yet to be seen whether or not that this kind of cost accounting will lead to positive changes.

What the Cuts Mean

In the long run, the cuts are meant to act as more than just triage for a troubled system that makes healthcare available for so many Americans.

The fact is that whatever loss in funding the program may see, those who rely on Medicare will see new protections and benefits that actually strengthen the quality of care received, not the loss of coverage and benefits so many feared. By encouraging doctors, physicians, and hospitals to provide stronger, better care from the start, senior healthcare has been given the opportunity to make a much needed change from reactive care, to preventative care.

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Episcopal Retirement Homes is a Cincinnati-based leader in quality retirement communities and innovative elder care services.
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