Protect Your Parent: Senior Scams You Need to Be Aware Of

It is an unfortunate fact, that today we are living in a time where people need to have their guard up for money scams. Today’s scams are often more complicated and high-tech than ever before, and the scammers do not always look like your average criminal. This means that anyone can be a victim of one of these crimes. However, seniors are particularly prone to falling prey. In fact, a Huffington Post article reports that scams targeting the elderly are costing seniors up to 12 times more than they were previously thought to cost. This is a scary number and we all hope no one we care about will be affected. If you are prepared and aware, you can protect your loved one from some of the most common scams. We’ve put together a list of a few of which you may wish to be aware.

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Helping Elderly Loved Ones Prepare Their Will

No one likes thinking about the “what ifs” in life—and especially those that have to do with death. However, a will can be a huge help to the family when someone passes away, whether it is expected or unexpected. Helping an elderly family member prepare a will is an enormous job, but taking on this task can help them feel more secure and may make your future jobs easier too. Here are a few tips that can make the process a little easier, and perhaps help you broach the subject with your mom or dad.

Remember to Find State-Specific Information

Each state has different laws when it comes to wills and how they are handled. Make sure the information you are referencing is correct for your particular state so that you don’t wind up in a difficult legal situation in the future. It may surprise you, but a will that is entirely legal in one state could cause a long drawn out problem in another. A little research now could save time and effort later.

Consider Consulting an Expert

While saving money by doing it yourself is always a good thing, certain tasks are too big to accomplish on your own. If you get to a point that you think the job is too big to handle alone, don’t be afraid to contact a probate lawyer. It can be less expensive to have a professional will drawn up than you may think. Doing this can help make certain nothing is overlooked.

Online Tools Are Available

On the other hand, if the will that is being created is simple, creating it online may be a good option. There are a number of online tools that make the will-making process easier than trying to deal with all the details “by hand.” An online tool can often be a happy medium between trying to do it all by yourself and spending the money hiring a professional. Just make sure you are working with a program that is up to date and reputable. Also, don’t rely on a computer program as the “final copy.” Make sure you print out a paper copy and have it notarized, to make certain it will be accepted as a legal document when the time comes to reference it.

Don’t Cross Any Lines

While you want to help your mom, dad or other loved one by setting up a will, make sure you are not crossing any lines—or leaving the appearance of doing so. Because wills are such touchy matters, it may be best to get someone else involved in the process to make certain that nothing is being done that would make anyone feel uncomfortable. Taking a few extra steps can be well worth it to ensure everyone is happy with the results.

Document Everything

With anything involving finances and legal matters, it is vital that you take the time to record as much of the process as you can. By recording, videotaping, and putting in writing as much information as you can, you will protect everyone involved in the process. Documentation is always essential, and this is something that any professional will tell you if he or she is completing the process for you.

While it is not always easy to talk about wills or any wishes about what may happen after death, it is best to make plans so that all requests will be met. Be open about this subject and encourage your loved ones to do the same. It is important to keep the lines of communication about this subject open for everyone involved. Remember that a will can always be changed later, so it is best to get something written down today—just in case the unexpected occurs. The family will be very appreciative of the effort you make.

Tap Into Your Resource Pool – Financing Assisted Living for Senior Care

When your mom or dad needs a little extra care, assisted living may be the best possible solution. However, it might look like the cost of a live-in facility is out of reach for you and your family; you do not want to shortchange your parents.

Luckily, you may have some resources available to you that you have not yet considered to help. We’ve put together a few ideas to help inspire you so you can obtain the care your loved one needs and deserves.

Paying for Assisted Living With Long Term Care Insurance

Long term care insurance offers coverage for care that isn’t usually covered by regular insurance or Medicare. This care can include assisted living, adult day care or other in-home care. If your mom or dad has a policy in place, it is likely that you will be able to tap into this resource to pay for part or all of the care. If your parents have purchased this insurance, paying for assisted living may not be quite as difficult as you think it will be.

Assets for Assisted Living

You may have already considered your mom or dad’s liquid assets when deciding if you can afford assisted living. Lack of cash doesn’t have to deter you from finding assisted living that meets your standards for quality of care.

Selling your mom or dad’s home can be a smart decision, as cash back from the sale can fund assisted living for the next several years. Other asset-related options involve selling stocks, bonds or even vehicles can be a good solution too.

Is VA a Possibility for Financing Assisted Living?

If your mom or dad served in the armed forces (or was married to someone who served), it may be possible that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will help pay for assisted care. Although there are more than 9.3 million veterans over the age of 65, most of these individuals and their families are unaware of these potential benefits. There are service requirements to be eligible for these benefits, some of which include:

  • Service requirement: The veteran must have served at least one day during wartime. If you are trying to find the years your loved one served, you’ll find the dates in their discharge papers. (If you don’t have access to these, you can request copies from the National Archives.)
  • Financial requirements: Only those who truly need the assistance and meet the means limit as established by the VA, are eligible to receive benefits.
  • Other considerations: Even those who do not meet the needs analysis may be able to receive benefits depending on age and amount of monthly medical benefit.

Keep in mind that benefits are awarded on a case-by-case basis. If you are unsure of whether you or your loved one meets the requirements, or you don’t know how to navigate the complicated process, you can speak to someone here at CareChoice who is experienced in helping families afford the best care for their loved ones.

Get Creative

At the end of the day, the goal is to make sure your mom or dad has the best possible care—at any cost. This may mean getting a little creative. Selling property, using online sales sites and other methods of earning money may be necessary. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and do what you have to do to get care started; especially if it is just a matter of waiting for future coverage to begin.

As you can see, there are many ways to pay for assisted living—even if your mom or dad doesn’t have liquid assets available. It’s important to remember that choosing an assisted living community and deciding the best way to pay for it is a tremendous decision. You need someone on your side that understands the process.

The team at CareChoice can help. Call us at (404) 402-1499 or contact us online to learn more about the process and let us help you discover the best way to make sure your parents get in the best place for them without breaking the budget.

Three Unique Ways To Pay for Assisted Living

As your parents reach a certain age, there may come a time when what has always worked in terms of living arrangements just does not function anymore. It may be that your mom or dad can no longer drive at night, or at all. Perhaps it is a challenge for your parent to take his or her medication according to a strict schedule. It could also become dangerous for your loved one to walk up or down the stairs and shower alone. In some cases, you can step in and help out—but is that enough? Assisted living in Atlanta is another alternative that can help alleviate the stress on you, and help assure that your mom or dad receives the care that is needed. Plus, assisted living facilities offer a chance for socialization, balanced meals, and structured activities.

The problem many families face when considering assisted living in Atlanta is cost. Yes, at first, that price may seem a bit daunting. However, with a bit of planning and consideration, you may find it is more affordable than you think. Here are three ways that you can pay for assisted living—even if you think it may be out of reach.

Remember that certain other expenses will be less

While at first the cost of an assisted living facility may seem daunting, remember that the price paid will often include much more than just “rent.” Depending on the facility, this cost will likely include meals, utilities, laundry service, activities and perhaps even cable and WiFi. Also, if your mom or dad is moving out of a full-size home, there will no longer be the need to pay for lawn service, housekeeping and other extras that go along with maintaining a home. It is vital that you compare apples to apples when looking at different assisted living facilities and make sure you pick one that gives you a solid value—not just a lower cost.

Utilize current high property values

A few years ago the real estate “bubble” burst. Many people are still living with the thought that their homes are worth what they were five or eight years ago. However, in many instances, this isn’t the case. Many homes and other properties have seen a spike in value. With this spike, it could be a very good time to sell. If mom or dad happens to have some land around the family home, this could be even more significant than you think since there is a desire for new homes, and thus the need for empty land for building. Working with a qualified real estate agent can assure you are getting a good value if you sell a home or property—and reduce the stress involved with paying for assisted living.

Consider selling unused items using consignment/eBay

Along the same lines as selling property, have you looked into selling some of the articles your mom or dad has, that no one is using? While everyone has certain family heirlooms that may not be suitable for selling, think about things that are merely taking up space. Perhaps there is some old artwork in the attic or jewelry no one has worn in decades. Even things such as vintage clothing, tools and crafting supplies can have a higher value than many people think. Selling these items can be easier than you would imagine, especially if you use a consignment service that does the selling for you. Additionally, if you are computer-savvy, eBay or other online selling tools can be a good option too. Depending on the items you sell, the value could add up quickly and be a big help with the assisted living cost.

While these ideas may help you with paying for assisted living, or any senior care solution, it is crucial that you find the ideal facility for your loved one too. With thorough research, you can rest assured that your parent is in a facility that meets all of his or her needs—without costing you more than is necessary.

 

CareChoice LLC is Atlanta’s choice for complementary guidance to senior care in the area. Our Family Advocates are knowledgeable, dependable professionals that can help you navigate the maze of senior care and find the facility that will best serve your mom or dad. If you would like to work with a Family Advocate who can guide you as you make these difficult decisions, call us today at (404) 402-1499 or visit our website at ourcarechoice.com.

How to Find Assisted Living in Atlanta That Meets Your Needs

You may have noticed a few facilities around town. You might have also viewed brochures, watched commercials, visited relatives, or just heard about options through the grapevine. There are many choices when it comes to assisted living in Atlanta.

When it comes time to choose a place for your mom or dad, having choices is a mixed blessing. These alternatives are a good thing because it means you have the best chance to find the perfect place for your loved one to call home. However, it can be an overwhelming decision. Here are three things you should do to find assisted living in Atlanta that meets your needs, and those of your mom or dad.

Talk to a True Expert

While researching the subject on your own can be eye-opening, in reality, you have a very limited scope when it comes to checking out assisted living in Atlanta. You may have toured a couple of nearby facilities or perhaps have heard about one through a friend or co-worker. The reality is that there are hundreds of options for senior care in the Atlanta area, including assisted living, residential care homes, and in-home care.

Working with a senior living advisor can be an amazing solution for you and your parents. Your family advocate will listen to your needs, look over all of the potential solutions and make suggestions from a new perspective.

Discuss Care Needs and Review Online Options

When you need to choose an assisted living community rise, you may already have a few ideas of your own. Ultimately, though, it is your mom or dad who will be calling this place home. It is important that you sit down as a family and discuss all of the care needs, the budget, all of the “wants” regarding activities and living arrangements, and perhaps some of your wants (such as a convenient location for visiting) too. Your next step may be to review a few options online. Reviewing online allows you to view the basic amenities and check out reviews from other residents and families. Perhaps you can eliminate a few options solely based on online profiles. It is best to consult with your Family Advocate at CareChoice as reviews can be misleading.  They can assist as much or as little as needed in having these conversations. As you go through this process, make sure it remains a project you work on together—so that both you and your mom or dad are pleased with the options.

Go On a Few Tours of Assisted Living in Atlanta

You can learn a lot about these senior care and assisted living communities by looking online and making phone calls. Online information can be beneficial, but you cannot get a good idea of how the facility “feels.” Nor can you experience how friendly the staff is, how welcoming the other residents are, what the rooms feel like or how delicious dinner will taste. After determining the best options with your Family Advocate, take a tour of your top choices. These are a crucial step in your decision-making process. Your Family Advocate will assist in scheduling tours at your convenience. Most assisted living communities are more than happy to schedule a tour on very short notice. Dropping by a community can also be a good idea because it will give you a better idea of what is going on day to day.

Contact CareChoice at (404) 402-1499 or visit our website at ourcarechoice.com for more information about your options for assisted living and other senior care solutions in the Atlanta metro area.
Once you have reviewed the options online, in person, and with expert guidance, you will likely have a “gut instinct” about what facilities feel best. Do not ignore those instincts. The truth is, an assisted living facility will serve as a home for your mom or dad. The employees will become both caretakers and friends. It is vital to find the right place—the one that feels right and that meets your needs. Take your time and do not let anyone pressure you into making a decision. You will know when you have found the place for mom or dad to call home.

 

 

How to Stay Connected with Your Aging Parents

Today more than ever before it is easy to become so busy with work and social activities that the little things in life pass by unnoticed. Many of us spend hours every day tied down to computers, smartphones and tablets, and lose track of what is most important — staying connected with those we love most.

As your life moves on, do not forget that your parents are aging and every chance you miss connecting with them is a chance you may not be able to get back. However, if you are willing to put in some time and effort, you can reconnect and rebuild those relationships before it is too late.

Here are four ways to help you begin the re-connection process:

1. Connect With Tech

You are on your smartphone all the time anyway.  Why not put that time to good use?

If your mom or dad are already Internet-savvy, you can start connecting on social media or utilizing video chats to spend time together even when you are far away from each other. If they live in an assisted living in Atlanta, there may be classes on social media available, too.

If your parents are not yet comfortable with the Internet or mobile devices, just taking the time to teach them how to utilize this technology can be an excellent way to build your relationship. They will appreciate the knowledge you share, and you will have a new way to reach them even during your busiest times.

Who knows? Your mom or dad may soon find Facebook or Video Chats to be their favorite way to keep in touch with the family or long-lost friends.

2. Connect Over the Past

One reason that many people find it hard to connect with their parents and other relatives is that it can be hard to find things to talk about with one another. Sharing stories about the family and the past is an excellent way to build these bonds while creating something that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Spend time together organizing old photos, recreating old family recipes and learning more about the family heritage. Not only will it forge bonds between you and your parents, but you will learn lessons that you can pass on to future generations as well.

It may surprise you, but many times you will be able to get children and other family members involved, too — family history is more exciting than you might think.

3. Go Out Someplace New

Do you always wind up visiting your mom or dad at the house or at their assisted living community in Atlanta — having the same dinners and sharing the same conversations? It might be time to shake things up a bit. Why not take your parents out to the new restaurant in town or out to see a play or a movie? Just getting out of the house and seeing something new can inspire conversation and will make it easier to connect.

When you are enjoying yourselves during your time together, you will all find that rebuilding your relationship is much more fun. If this is impossible, bring the fun to your parents.

Have dinner catered or invite over some entertaining guests. Even bringing a nice dessert and fresh flowers for table décor can turn an ordinary meal into something memorable.

4. Get Others Involved

While you will always want to have special time that is just for you and your parents, it is important to foster the relationships within the entire family, too. Maybe it is time to plan a big family gathering. Holidays, reunions, baby showers, weddings and birthday parties can all be excellent occasions for getting together and spending time with those who are nearest to your heart.

Do not take on all the responsibility yourself. Make the occasion into a family event. When everyone participates, everyone will get more from the occasion.

Your parents will appreciate the opportunity to reconnect not only with you, but with the family as a whole. Plus, after the big day, you will have plenty to talk about and lots of great photos to review!

When you have not been taking the time to connect with your parents for awhile, the first efforts may seem difficult. However, do not give up on the process. Once you get past those first awkward moments, it will quickly turn from being something you need to do into something you want to do.

Soon, you will find that you look forward to every moment you get to spend with your parents — and you will both likely discover new ways you enjoy spending time together, too.

 

What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Residential Personal Care Homes?

With many different senior living options available, it can be a little confusing for those who are exploring possibilities for their loved ones. Two options that are easily confused at first glance are assisted living communities and residential care homes.

While every home or community is different, we have broken down the basics of what will generally differentiate residential care homes from assisted living in Atlanta.

 

  • Size: Generally, an assisted living community is one in which each resident has his or her own apartment, usually a studio or one-bedroom. Additionally, there are community areas such as a dining room, meeting rooms, activity areas, and other spaces. In a residential personal care home, space is usually much smaller — around the size of a large home. While both facilities will have different size extremes, an assisted living community is almost always a larger building or even made up of several buildings.
  • Amenities: The community areas and amenities vary from community to community and home to home. Assisted living communities are usually designed with amenities like  business centers, salons, and therapy gyms. Assisted living is often billed as a true community. A residential care home may not have as many in-home amenities; however, the needs of the residents may be met in other ways. Each home will have different methods of handling mealtimes, medicine, and other needs and wants of the residents. Whether in a large community or smaller residential home, delivering pharmacies and visiting medical professionals are often a common amenity.
  • Activities: Despite the common misunderstanding that Assisted Living facilities are for “inhibited” elderly residents, there are usually many activities available both within the facility and offsite to keep residents active. Larger communities typically staff a full-time activities director to plan the schedule and keep residents engaged. A residential care home will usually have a smaller selection of activities, but for a senior who prefers a quieter lifestyle, this can be an excellent choice.
  • Location: Residential care homes are usually located in a standard home within a suburban neighborhood. To the untrained eye, these homes look like any regular house. Assisted living communities are larger and have the need for more parking and perhaps even a loading dock, so they are often found in commercial or mixed use areas. A convenient location can make it easier for friends and family to visit — since there will often be parking available throughout the day.
  • Cost: The costs of any type of senior care will vary depending on the particular senior’s needed level of care, the location of the facility and other factors. However, as a general rule, an assisted living community will normally have a slightly higher per-month charge than a residential care home, due to the additional amenities that are included.
  • Level of Care: Each community and home is set up differently in regards to the level of care.  Larger communities can hold either a personal care home or assisted living license. Assisted living licensed communities allow residents to age in place, providing increased care. A residential care home typically provides a higher staff to resident ratio, which allows staff to be more attentive to the resident’s needs. Care staff are likely trained CNA’s or proxy-caregivers. As care needs increase, residential care homes typically rely on outside home health services for nursing care.
  • Number of Residents: A residential personal care home will nearly always have fewer residents than an assisted living community. Residential care homes are typically licensed for up to 8-12 residents, whereas Assisted Living communities can be licensed for over 100. The residents of a personal care home may develop a closer relationship with their caregivers, since they live intimately with the staff and other residents.
  • Other Considerations: A residential care home is often quieter and more homelike, while an assisted living facility has a community-like feel. If an individual likes privacy, they may prefer having a private room and bathroom in an assisted living community rather than having to share communal areas in a residential care home.

 

At the end of the day, it often comes down to what feels right to the senior who will be living there. It is important to realize that when it comes to senior living options, what works well for one family may not be the right solution for another. That is why taking the time to research every possibility is important.

Instead of relying on outdated information you find online or unreliable information you hear from others, why not work with an expert? The CareChoice team can help you through the process of finding the ideal spot for your mom or dad and even help when it comes time to sit down for that awkward conversation. Best of all, our service is free!

Give us a call at (404) 402-1499 or contact us online at ourcarechoice.com to learn more about senior care and assisted living in Atlanta.

By the Numbers: How Does Senior Housing in Atlanta Compare

Senior care can be a very daunting subject to discuss. Not only is it one that we often hesitate to bring up with our loved ones because we don’t know how to approach it, but the financial matter itself can be overwhelming too. Luckily, finances are something that can be figured out with a bit of research or by working with a professional.

As you begin your research into senior care options, it is important that you remember that costs will vary widely depending on many different factors. However, one of the most significant factors is the location (the area of the country in which the facility is located). As we compare average prices for some of the more common senior care options below, keep in mind that the prices could be quite a bit different if you are not located in the Atlanta metro area.

  • Independent Living Communities – These are also known as retirement communities and designed for seniors age 55 and older. Generally, they offer apartments or cottages for seniors that do not require assistance with daily activities. These communities may or may not offer transportation, group activities and social programs. The costs will vary widely depending on how many amenities are included. Rates will likely start at around 25 percent more than a similar size apartment in the area. The national average for independent living is $2,500. In the Atlanta metro area, you can expect costs to range between $1,000 – $3,000, depending on location and amenities.
  • Assisted Living Communities – Assisted living in Atlanta is a balanced solution for seniors who may need assistance with one or more tasks. Most assisted living communities offer individualized care plans, meals and snacks, activities, visiting medical professionals, and other services. According to a cost of care survey in 2014, the national average is $3,500 per month. Atlanta is known for a lower-than-average cost of living, so you can expect costs to range between $2,500 – $3,500 depending on location, care needs, and amenities. For higher care levels, Assisted Living communities can range upwards of $8,000.
  • Memory Care — Memory Care facilities, often found inside assisted living facilities or as a stand alone community, are designed for seniors who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While the national average for memory care is $5,000, in the Atlanta area the costs range from approximately $3,000 to more than $7,000 per month depending on the needs of the senior, location of the center, amenities offered and other factors.
  • Residential Care Homes – A residential care home is a residential home licensed by the state for personal care. It normally has fewer residents and a higher caregiver-to-resident ratio than an assisted living facility. The specific care provided varies based on the licensed staff within each home. In general, the prices are on par or slightly under the cost of assisted living facilities with the national average being $3,000. In Atlanta,you can expect costs to range between $1,800 – $3,000 depending on location, care needs, and room size. Often times, residential care homes are a more affordable solution for families.
  • Nursing Homes – Nursing homes, also know as skilled nursing facilities, are the most expensive type of senior care available. However, in many cases when skilled nursing care is required, insurance may pay some or all of the cost. A semi-private room in a nursing home will average over $6,000 per month ($72,000 per year) in the United States. Georgia comes in at slightly less averaging at $65,000 per year. A nursing home provides 24/7 skilled nursing, which is why the rate is so much higher than other facilities.

As you review prices for senior care options, remember that the numbers above are only averages. Each facility will have its own price based on location, level of care and amenities. The best way to find out what you can expect to pay is to get some quotes from actual facilities.

Senior care advisors like CareChoice can help you get quotes from local senior care facilities in the Atlanta area. CareChoice’s family advocates have experience working with local facilities and can offer insight as to which facilities would be the best fit for your needs. After all, when you are making a big decision like this, it only makes sense to have knowledge and experience on your side. Contact CareChoice for help in finding the right care solution within your specific budget by calling (404) 402-1499.

The 4 Markers of a High Quality Atlanta Assisted Living Facilities

As your mom, dad or other loved one gets a little older, it is natural that you may want to learn more about alternative living arrangements that are available. Moving your parent from their home to an assisted living or other retirement community is a significant step, but it can be a necessary one. After all, you want to make sure your loved one is cared for — even when you can’t be there.

One option you may wish to look at is assisted living. There are many excellent options for assisted living in Atlanta, but you’ll need to look closely at each community to determine whether it fits your needs and those of your loved one.

As you begin the process of determining which option meets the needs of your family, check out these four markers of  high-quality Atlanta assisted living facilities.

1. Appropriate and Well-Staffed Programs for Level of Care

Your loved one is a unique individual. Perhaps they are still very independent and want to do as much as possible for themselves. On the other hand, maybe your mom or dad is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and will need specialized services to address memory care and day-to-day tasks.

While most assisted living communities offer similar services, such as nursing staff, delivering pharmacies, and visiting medical professionals; your parent or loved one may need additional programs based on their unique care needs. It’s important to look at everything an assisted living community offers. The right community for your loved one may be much different than the one that is right for another individual.

2. Good Value for Services

When you first start comparing assisted living communities, you may immediately be intrigued by the less-expensive options — it makes sense. However, it is important that you are comparing apples to apples. The most important thing is to find an assisted living in Atlanta that offers an excellent value.

The best value may mean that up-front costs are a bit higher, but more benefits are included that will save you money over time. On the flip side, a more expensive community may not always be a better choice, especially if you are spending the extra funds on services that your loved one does not need or will not use.

3. Robust Senior Activities

Assisted living is a 24/7 operation. Being a 24/7 community means that in addition to sleeping, eating and visiting with you, your loved one will have many hours each day to fill. The best options offer a robust selection of activities; they don’t just expect the residents to spend the day watching television.

Be on the lookout for offerings such as libraries, gyms, and game rooms, of course. You will also want to look into what other activities are available. Some assisted living facilities offer bus trips, visits from community groups and even special classes on topics such as history, technology, and second languages.. If there is something your loved one is especially passionate about, it is worth asking whether it is possible they can pursue it while living in the community.

4. Transparency

The best assisted living communities are transparent. That means the facilities are open to you — both physically and financially. You should be able to tour the community at any time.

Naturally, when you express an interest in a community, the manager will want to schedule a tour, however, you should also be able to “drop in” and see what the assisted living facility looks like even when there is no tour scheduled.

Additionally, when it comes to the fees you pay, you should have a solid understanding of your costs. Most assisted living facilities are happy to work with you and explain all billing breakdowns so that you understand what to expect.

Let Us Help You Choose the Best Community for Your Loved One

While the four markers above are excellent signs of well-run and high-quality assisted living in Atlanta, unique needs require unique considerations. That is why it is important that you take your time in making this decision — and that you have assistance with the process.

A Senior Living Advisor, or Family Advocate, is someone who not only knows about what makes an assisted living exceptional, but who also has in-depth knowledge and expertise with local assisted living facilities in and around Atlanta.

The team at CareChoice LLC offers 100% free guidance to families and is available to you by phone at (404) 402-1499, or online at http://ourcarechoice.com. We look forward to helping you find the ideal care community for your loved one.

Bridging the Generation Gap Through Storytelling

Storytelling is an art, for sure—but it is also a vital means of information sharing. Stories about our past shape the people we are today. In the past, stories may have been passed down because there were few alternatives for entertainment or education. However, today many things are competing for our attention, and thus, it becomes more important than ever to make sure those stories are shared and remembered.

As stories are shared, it is important that they are kept for future generations. You can document these on an audio recording, on video or even through handwritten notes. No matter what you choose, the power of the internet allows us to store these documents in a way that they are safe from fire, flood or theft—something never possible before. However, the first step is to make sure the stories are shared. To encourage the sharing of stories, it becomes vital to bridge the gap between generations.

The Stories Keep Us Connected

It can be difficult for the older generation to try to have a conversation with the younger generation. Kids today are spending screen time at home—and working on computers at school too, so it only makes sense that their attention spans might be a bit shorter than in generations past. However, once you get started with the sharing of stories, you will often see that this is an important means of connection for both the storyteller—and those who are listening.

If you’re looking for the best ways to connect with your loved ones through storytelling, here are a few tips that will make it easier and help you both get the most from it.

  • Ask Questions to Improve Engagement – Put together a list of questions ahead of time so you can keep the story on track. Perhaps if you want to know grandma and grandpa’s story, you would ask questions about their time in school, grandpa’s days in the service, how they met, what grandma did for a living before she married grandpa, and other guided questions. When you have some specific questions ready, you can keep the story flowing.
  • Think Sound Bites – While detailed stories are a lot of fun, think about wrapping up your lessons in a quick sound bite too. That way you can impart your lesson on the younger generation without all the fuss. The best part about these short sound bites is that they open the door for a more detailed story later. Think about Aesop’s Fables—they have a short lesson that they impart, but they also have a great story when there is time for that too.
  • Consider a Multimedia Approach – While you might not be interested in going all out and creating your own multimedia empire, it is easier than ever to record video and audio for your loved ones. Consider sharing your stories on Youtube; it is possible to make these videos private where only the family can view them. Another idea is to add digital photography to bring your audio recordings to life. A digital approach to storytelling is much more likely to garner attention in a world where everyone is already plugged in and turned on to digital media most of the time anyway. Plus, when you utilize these methods you can save your stories for future generations too.
  • Get Social – Those social media websites that are so popular are a great place to tell your story or tell your family’s story. Why not share some old family photos on Instagram or post some of your favorite family recipes on Facebook? The more family members that are connected on social media, the better. It may surprise you how active your family group can get—and how quickly the stories will begin to flow. Once again, these can be made private so that only the family can view the content.
  • Include Other Content – Stories aren’t the only way to reach your loved ones. Share a classic recipe or bring out those cherished family heirlooms. You have important things to share, and there are many events that occurred in your life (or in the lives of your ancestors) that will be forgotten if you don’t share them. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

The older generation has something amazing to share, and it is up to all of us to make sure that it doesn’t become lost. Storytelling is a classy form of entertainment and these are great methods of sharing information with future generations. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with the most important people in your life—and create something that will make an impact for generations to come.