Our clients in the senior housing industry know first-hand how difficult it is for seniors and their families to come to a decision about whether they should move from their own dwelling to a senior living community. Whether those decisions must be made quickly, based on a crisis or sudden change in health, or families can take their time exploring options, constructive conversations – ideally in advance of acute developments – are key to a smooth transition.

As niche specialists in marketing in senior living (and adult children of aging/ailing parents ourselves), we at IVY would like to share what we’ve learned about signs that an older loved one might need help and how to have productive conversations that include the whole family – first and foremost, our beloved seniors.

I. Signs Your Aging Loved One Might Need Help

  • Personal neglect: Have they slowed or stopped carrying out their everyday hygiene, dressing and grooming?
  • Mobility issues: Do they appear to have difficulty getting around or lack steadiness? Do they have trouble standing up from a seated position? Are there any bruises or scrapes that may indicate that they’ve fallen or bumped into furniture?
  • Memory impairment: Do they exhibit signs of memory loss at a level that is concerning? Do they seem uncertain or confused when performing once-familiar tasks?  Are they missing important dates or getting lost in conversations?
  • Poor housekeeping: How does their home look? Are there piles of laundry lying around or spoiled food in the refrigerator?  It’s unhealthy to live in a household that’s dirty and unsafe to live in a home that is cluttered.
  • Dramatic weight loss: Have they lost a noticeable amount of weight?  Weight loss in the elderly is not uncommon. However, if it’s dramatic, it might indicate a serious health issue, depression, a loss of ability to prepare meals, or worry about budgeting for food.
  • Social inactivity: Are they socially withdrawn? Isolation is terrible for both physical and mental health. As one ages, positive social engagement is still crucial. It just becomes more difficult to find.
  • Questionable judgment: Are they exhibiting poor judgment, such as excessive spending or making uncharacteristic purchases? Are they easily taken in by phone/mail/online scams?
  • Social miscues: Are they making uncharacteristic comments or responding inappropriately to friends, family or strangers?  Do they seem to lack a “filter” in social situations that is unusual for them?
  • Driving incidents: Are they safe driving? Are there unexplained dents and scratches on the car?
  • Money mishaps: Do they seem to have difficulty managing money and finances? Are there unpaid bills, late payment notices, bounced checks or calls from bill collectors?
  • Medication missteps: Are they taking medications properly? Check your parents’ prescriptions to make sure they’re being taken regularly and at the correct dosages.
  • Chronic health issues: Are they struggling with frequent problems, such as urinary tract infections (UTI’s), dizziness, “seeing things” that aren’t there? Hallucinations and light-headedness are common symptoms of nutritional and/or electrolyte deficiencies, often due to dehydration.  UTI’s are a common result of dehydration.

If you notice any of these signs on a persistent basis, it may be time to talk with your parent and/or their healthcare advisor.  A good benchmark is the presence of any one or more of these indicators at least half of the time you’re with your parent.  Pay attention to reports of these signs from others who spend time with your parent as well, such as friends or neighbors.  If possible, stay in touch with these people for confidential updates, particularly if you’re not able to be with your parent often.

II. How to Have Constructive Conversations

Given that your parent is probably aware that they are “slipping” and that their world is narrowing, discussions about their future are likely to be laden with emotion.  More than anything, you will need to approach these talks with compassion and understanding.  Here are some further suggestions for beginning the conversation:

Don’t delay:  The optimal time to broach the subject is as soon as you notice something’s “different” about mom or dad—before things begin to decline even further or a crisis situation arises.

Have a plan:  Now is not the time to improvise.  It’s important to consider the things you wish to discuss with your parent in advance.  Rehearse or even “role play” what you will say and how you’ll bring up certain topics.  Come prepared with key points to raise and ask yourself in advance what you wish to gain from the conversation.  Try to anticipate how your parent will react and how you’ll respond to each possible scenario.

Enlist family members:  Don’t go this potentially rough road alone.  Join with other family members (your parent’s spouse included, if applicable) in formulating a discussion plan ahead of time.  It’s crucial for everyone to be on the same page and present a united front.  It may also be helpful to designate a certain family member as “leader” of conversations, one who can keep the process going and make sure that everyone agrees to and understands it.

Empower your parent:  While you’re rallying your family team, keep in mind that your parent is the most influential member of the conversation.  Listen to them attentively and compassionately; ask them questions about their desires, concerns and fears, while also impressing upon them that a comprehensive plan is essential.  Assure them that the entire family is part of the decision process, and you’re all in this together.

Be straightforward:  Don’t complicate things by hiding negative information or “sugarcoating” realities.  Be honest and forthcoming about changes, concerns, limitations and possibilities.  Be sure to also offer hope in the foundation of your support and strength as a family unit.

Offer to accompany your parent on doctor visits: “Four ears are better than two” is a great rule of thumb for anyone having a medical consultation, particularly an aging loved one.  Offer to help your parent schedule doctor or healthcare visits and commit to attending them with him or her.  This may be assuring to your parent as well as helpful in gathering and grasping important information.

Take it in stages:  If time allows and you are not in an immediately critical situation, be careful not to overwhelm your parent with too much discussion at once.  Respect their wishes to take a break from the topic, while gently stressing that the conversations need to continue.  Agree upon an appropriate time and place to meet again before you part ways and remind your parent ahead of time of your next discussion.

We at IVY understand that the seniors in our midst are precious – our most valuable human assets. Our clients in the senior living arena ensure the best living for older adults, and we are honored to be their partners in telling the world what that really means.

IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.

If you have a question or would like to continue this conversation, please contact us…





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It’s addicting!  The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.  I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!

It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.  I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects. 

I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.  We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.  Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.  We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.  I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day. 

It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!

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IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face.   Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.

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As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!

My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity. 

Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.

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All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.

After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.

For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.

As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.

I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.

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It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.

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Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.

The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!

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Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.

I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and  included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever put them into “one of those places.”

I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.

I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!

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Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.

With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.

Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content.  Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.

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I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY.  Often,  I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.

Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.

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My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.

The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!

I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.

As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!

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