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Read the latest article written by EPPIA members, published in the Eden Prairie News.

Senior Housing Options

When people reach the age where they would like to downsize and move, many of them put it off because they don’t know where to start. A good place to begin is by identifying the type of housing that best suits your needs:

Senior Cooperatives - Senior cooperatives are not-for-profit organizations collectively owned and governed by the members themselves. Apartments are purchased and usually have an additional monthly operational fee to cover maintenance, renovations and repairs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) - Senior housing planned and operated to provide a continuum of accommodations and services including, but not limited to: independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care. A CCRC resident contract involves either an entrance fee or buy-in which may or may not be partially or fully refundable. These communities charge monthly fees and sometimes residents pay all or part of their utilities. You do not own your apartment in a CCRC.

Senior Housing - Senior Housing is for people age 62 or better (sometimes 55 or better) who want to live independently in a community setting. Options are townhomes or apartments. Assisted Living and Memory Care are often part of the campus, so there is a continuum of care available. These are rental units; services, amenities, length of lease and rental inclusions vary greatly among communities.

Residential Care Homes – These are homes in regular neighborhoods where 5 to 10 older adults live who need care due to dementia or illness such as Parkinson’s. There is a 24 hour awake staff to care for the residents, and a variety of activities are offered, based on the needs of the residents.

Staying At Home - There is always the option of staying in your home and contracting with Home Health agencies and/or Companion Care companies. The costs depend on the services needed and the length of time you need a caregiver/companion to provide those services.

Different types of senior housing are commonly defined as:

Independent Living - Independent Living is for seniors who wish to live independently while benefiting from the advantages of an enhanced social, cultural and recreational lifestyle. Home Health services may available on a “scheduled basis.”

Assisted Living - Assisted Living is for seniors who need help with the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), yet wish to remain as independent as possible. The ADLs can include: bathing/showering, grooming/dressing, mobility and eating/meals. Good questions to ask include: Is Elderly Waiver accepted if finances are a problem? Are special diets accommodated? How is the cost of services determined: Point system? Packages? A La Carte? Cost and availability of meals; housekeeping, utilities, amenities, and transportation are other things to consider.

Memory Care - Memory Care offers supportive health and personal care services 24 hours a day in a secure, specially designed, therapeutic residential setting for those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and related conditions. Activities and meals are designed to meet the unique needs of the residents. Some questions to ask include: How do you determine the level of care needed? What types of activities do you provide for residents and how often? What type of nursing staff is available? (Assisted Living and Memory care may or may not provide 24 hour skilled nursing on-site.)

Some good ideas to ease stressful decision making:

  • Don’t wait for a “crisis” – it is difficult on you and your loves ones. It could also limit your options in where you can live and what is available.
  • Make a list of things you want in a senior community such as location, apartment type, amenities, costs, and activities.
  • Avoid looking at too many communities – it can become overwhelming and confusing.
  • Make the move while you are still active and can enjoy your new life style.
  • Create a “Health Care Directive” – it’s a valuable gift for your loved ones and ensures you will get the type of care you want if you are unable to speak for yourself.

This is general information about four of the most common types of senior housing options. The best way to ensure you are fully informed is to determine what types of things are most important to you and then consult the experts – they will provide the answers you need.

Libby Jensen
Director of Marketing – Summit Place

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at

Manage Your Move

Moving is one of those things in life that most people find stressful and overwhelming. As we age our needs, interests, and abilities change. Our housing needs change too. You might gradually discover that the home where you raised your family is now too big and too much for you to take care of. Maybe you feel a bit isolated and want a more active social life. Or maybe it is just time for a change. But moving seems like an overwhelming task and you don’t know where to start as you look around at all of the things you have accumulated over the last 20, 30, 40, or even 60 years.

Here’s the good news: there are companies that specialize in moving people, and they are there to help you. These companies are often referred to as “move management companies.” Some companies focus on the senior market and they are very familiar with issues that face seniors and their families during a move. They can help you through this important life step and ease the stress of preparing to move, moving, and getting settled again.

What does a move management company do?
The core services that are offered consist of space planning, sorting items, packing, moving and then unpacking and setting up the new home.

  • Creating a floor plan is the most important part of the senior move management process. An accurate layout insures appropriate clearances and familiar furniture layouts. From there, the senior move manager collaborates with the client to make decisions about which household items to keep and which ones to give to family donate, sell, etc. These decisions are difficult for many of us, but when done with an experienced and empathetic professional, it can be a motivating part of the process.
  • Having the move management team safely pack your items is the next step in the process. They bring all the packing materials. No need to gather boxes from the grocery or liquor store! All packing materials are removed at the end of moving day- no mess for you to clean up.

Imagine walking into your new home, at the end of the moving day to find your furniture arranged, your bed made, clocks set, toothbrush in place, your clothes hung in your closets, the kitchen organized, and even your remote control right where you left it, on your end table next to your recliner! It’s a time when people take a deep breath, smile, and say “I can’t believe you got all of this done!”

Why use a senior move management company?
Using a senior move management company allows you to focus on yourself or your loved one who is moving. Often families are living in different cities and many are working and busy with other commitments and do not have the time or expertise to help a loved one move.  The senior move manager streamlines the entire move process as they can be the single point of contact for everyone involved. They are always working in your best interest to reduce stress and save you time and money! They know how to make moves happen and can coordinate with all of the services you need to make the move including realtors, movers, storage facilities, estate sales professionals and the community you are moving into, or out of.

  • Working with you to prepare for the move the move management team can help you determine what will fit into your new home.  This eliminates the worry of finding places to put your things away, and prevents you from paying to move things that will not fit or tripping over furniture in over-crowded rooms.
  • During the move your move manager will direct all aspects of the move.  This relieves clients and their families of having to deal with details they might not have the time, energy, or expertise to handle and reduces their stress.

If you are planning to move, seriously consider hiring a senior move management company to help you. Most companies will provide a free estimate; the only cost for that is your time.

Article contributors:

Holly Hansen, Senior Partner – Brilliant Moves
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Cathy Matrejek, Managing Partner - Changing Lifestyle Solutions
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Amy Rottunda, Owner - House Language, LLC
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EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at

Residential Care Homes

Although the concept of residential care has been around the state of Minnesota since the 1990’s, people often ask what residential care is and how is it different from a traditional assisted living environment.

Part of the confusion lays in the fact that most residential care homes are licensed as assisted living, but how and where they provide care makes all the difference in the world. Generally speaking, these are free-standing, single-family homes located in residential neighborhoods, not large facilities. They provide high quality care in real homes in real neighborhoods and give individuals a place to age in a home-like environment, often in their own community.

Residential care homes are licensed and monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health. Most are privately owned and managed by a 1-2 person team dedicated to knowing each resident and their family. On average, homes accommodate between 4-12 residents in a low caregiver to resident ratio. This allows for individualized care based on knowing each resident and their needs. Various activities are provided and individual interests and routines are respected. The small number of residents creates an intimate family-like environment. It also allows homes to specialize in types of care. For example, homes might specifically serve those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or 50-70 year olds with other types of cognitive or physical disabilities. Other homes might have a mixed population of care needs. Whatever the case may be, residential care homes are warm and inviting, staffed by competent individuals.

Homes are staffed with awake caregivers on a 24/7 basis. Homes have access to an RN and owners of the homes are often on site. Owners serve as the point person, communicating with families, residents, staff and providers. Staff are competent and compassionate individuals who treat residents like their own family members. Staff receive ongoing training to ensure they provide the best delivery of services. Families and residents find comfort in this and real bonds are developed. Staff, residents and visitors naturally become a family unit. Conversations flow with and among all due to the intimate nature of the setting.

Transitioning from one’s home to any facility can be difficult, but moving to a residential care home allows for minimal disruption because it is a one-time move. Homes adapt themselves to meet the needs of the residents, and work with other service providers to enable the individual to remain in the care home until end of life. Individualized care plans are developed with the family and/or resident and care is modified to meet the changing needs of each resident.

Ask yourself - Would your loved one’s current housing situation:

  • Adapt the environment to meet the needs of one resident?
  • Develop a plan to help a resident with behaviors rather than hospitalize or medicate them?
  • Have family sleep over at the end of life?
  • Allow a resident to iron, laundry, set tables?
  • Recognize them as an individual who has a rich past?
  • Allow a husband and wife to live together regardless of care levels?
  • Have a staff person escort them to the Emergency Room?
  • Move in with their beloved pet?
  • Modify one’s care to support end of life in a home environment?

In the end, residential care homes are smaller, more intimate and offer individualized care through the end of life in a real home environment. All of this is managed by a one or two person management team that closely knows the resident and is available 24/7 to meet their needs and the needs their families.

Article contributors:

Christine Rowland, MSW Pioneer Estates
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Jenny Morgan, RN Breck Homes
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Tina Haugstad RN Nurturing Care
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For more info:

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at

Strength Training For Seniors

Everywhere you go these days you hear or read about the importance of strength training for seniors. But what is it really?

Strength training is improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force by using weights or machines. The most important part of this definition is that their needs to be resistance and it needs to be ongoing. Just lifting a leg off the bed is not strength training. A weight needs to be added to increase strength.

What are some signs that an older adult has poor leg strength?

  • Difficulty walking including; shuffling feet, bent knees and trunk.
  • Needing a walker
  • Difficulty getting out of chairs
  • Needing help with transfers
  • Falls

How does an older adult increase strength? Leg strength training is most beneficial when completed lying flat on the bed or floor using weights. We have found that when older adults are able to lift four pounds with four specific lying down exercises their mobility and balance improves. This process takes 10 minutes and only needs to be completed two times per week.

What are the misconceptions about strength training for older adults? One common misconception is that walking, swimming, biking, climbing stairs or water aerobics are leg strengthening exercises. These are great exercises for heart health, but you must already have a certain amount of leg strength to be able to do any of those activities. Another important fact is that leg strength is not permanent. Unfortunately, people start losing strength three to five days after they stop their training exercises. As the old saying goes, “use it or lose it.”

Is strength training different for seniors and what does it involve? Seniors need specific muscles strengthened to help reduce falls, increase balance, and keep independence. People start losing strength at age 30 but the speed that we lose strength increases at age 60 – 70. The good news is you can reverse this process and get back two decades of lost strength by engaging in lower extremity strength training for at least two months!!

Is there a reason someone should not do this? We have found everyone can increase strength no matter age or diagnosis. “Research shows that many of the problems once attributed to aging such as slowing down, declining muscle strength and fatigue are actually the result of a sedentary lifestyle. 80% of the health problems once associated with aging are now thought to be preventable or postponable if person keeps fit.” Dr. Leaf: Harvard Medical School

What are the benefits to strength training?

  • Stops falls
  • Negates the need to use a walker
  • Increases independence
  • Increases confidence
  • Reduces depression
  • Increases energy

Going to a gym is a great addition to an exercise program but the machines do not target the specific muscles that prevent falls and increase balance, which is what seniors need to focus on. The help of a physical therapist that encourages strength training can streamline their exercise program so that they are getting the most efficient and maximum results. Get Strong. Stay Strong.

Nicole Rennie, PT, GCS
Founder, Owner of Senior Abilities Unlimited exclusive provider of Tandem Strength & Balance
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EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at

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