Category Archives: Blogs

4 Questions to Ask Assisted Living Communities During COVID-19

Many assisted living communities have seen that potential residents hesitate to move into a facility in general. Now with COVID-19 in play, this valid concern to move a family member into assisted living is heightened.

With that said, it’s important to acknowledge the extraordinary precautions that organizations like United Methodist Communities have taken to make sure all residents are safe, healthy, and happy during this time.

With proper protocols in place, you don’t have to be afraid to take the leap into assisted living. However, it’s imperative to ask the right questions and do your due diligence before moving in. Here are four important questions to ask prospective assisted living communities when visiting onsite.   

Question #1: Do you have any active COVID-19 cases? 

Answer: Assisted living communities are required to give you an accurate count of all COVID-19 cases. Most communities will have had some COVID-19 cases by now, either among the staff, residents, or both. The key is to look at the progress made since COVID-19 first impacted the site. Look at the community’s safety protocols and determine your comfort level regarding their  ability to prevent future cases.

Question #2: What sanitary protocols are in place for staff and residents?  

Answer: Pretty much everyone in the assisted living industry has figured out that they must take peoples’ temperature, put out more bottles of hand sanitizer, wear masks and social distance. It turns out however, that real COVID-19 safety goes well beyond this. It’s important to look more carefully to understand whether their protocols are consistently obeyed .

For instance, United Methodist Communities has developed what is rapidly becoming an industry-leading standard of infection control and cleanliness for assisted living facilities in New Jersey. The UNITEDforSAFETY standard specifies comprehensive protocols, procedures and equipment standards t related to COVID-19 and other potential health risks.  

Some of the measures developed to maintain health and safety under this new standard are… 

  • Utilizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products that kill 99.9% of bacteria and sanitizing with UV light equipment
  • Increasing frequency of housekeeping services with attention to common, high-touch areas
  • Utilizing portable negative air pressure machines to filter harmful air particles 
  • Testing and monitoring associates
  • Monitoring residents and screening visitors
  • Mandating hand washing and strategically placing hand sanitizer stations
  • Requiring social distancing and a quarantine period when needed during outbreaks
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as needed

UMC has made a tremendous investment across their locations in hygienic protocols, equipment and training that will last through COVID-19 and beyond. To learn more about the UNITEDforSAFETY standard, click here

Question #3: What precautions are staff taking when traveling back and forth from each facility?  

Answer: It’s easy enough to follow new safety guidelines while at work, but what happens after an associates’ shift is over? How can you be sure they are taking precautions outside of the workplace? This question is crucial to ask because consistent prevention is key to keeping COVID-19 at bay. 

The bottom line is that it can be difficult for any community to guarantee the COVID-19-safe movements of associates when they are not working. Therefore, a good COVID-19-plan must, to some extent, rely on the dedication of their staff to maintain safe practices outside of the workplace, as well as strict screening of all personnel upon arrival for their shift each day.

As an example, UMC took strict steps to ensure the compliance of all staff members, vendors, and delivery personnel with entry and exit protocols. UMC performs standard temperature checks on all personnel daily.

Question #4: What level of socialization has been restored since COVID-19 hit? 

Answer: A common misconception is that assisted living residents are strictly confined to their own apartments to keep them safe. But what kind of life would that be, and is that really the answer?

It is certainly possible to create an abundant social life for seniors even in the middle of a pandemic. It isn’t easy, but assisted living communities that rise to this challenge will be easy to spot.

Our color-coded phases allow staff to understand what guidelines are in effect and what socialization modes are permitted. Supervised outdoor visitation is now encouraged, as well as other fun initiatives like group zoom calls and theme days like “Root Beer Float Day.” 

Enhanced Safety and Hygiene Measures are Paramount at UMC Pitman

Everyone has a right to be concerned and to be extra diligent during this time. UMC firmly believes with hygienic protocols in place like UNITEDforSAFETY, living in an assisted living community can be safe and fun.

To learn more about assisted living services at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today. We’re more than happy to answer any further questions regarding health and safety guidelines in the wake of COVID-19. 

Fall is Coming to Historic Pitman NJ, Here’s What’s Going on!

United Methodist Communities in Pitman, New Jersey, is truly integrated into the life of this historic town. Located near the bustling Philadelphia and Rowan University, Pitman is a quaint town that will remind you of a Hallmark holiday movie. The first buildings in Pitman, dating all the way back to 1871, were doll-like summer houses for Methodists who wanted to escape Philadelphia’s crazy city life. This area is well-known today as Pitman Grove, and is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.

Pitman’s shopping district, located next to the Grove, is home to the historic Broadway Theatre of the vaudeville era. Although theater performances are postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, there’s still safe entertainment scheduled for this upcoming fall season in Pitman!  

Visitors will find a variety of restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, breweries, wineries, live music, parks, and more in the shopping district (Uptown Pitman), all easily accessible by a short walk or free shuttle from UMC at Pitman.

Some exciting, COVID-19 aware events are coming to Pitman this fall! 

Upcoming Fall Events in Pitman, NJ 

  • Fourth Fridays

    When: Fourth Friday of the month (all year round) from 6-9pm
    Where: 44-98 S. Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071
    About: Come visit the best mom and pop shops along Broadway while enjoying live music, awesome vendors, and great outdoor dining. Many noteworthy shops like A Touch of Ireland, A Fresh Start Salads and Sandwiches, Chloe’s Crème Puffs, Alaura’s Kitchen and Candy, and more are open and operating under recommended CDC guidelines during COVID-19. 

  • Tenzy Frenzy

    When: September 13-19 from 7am–10pm
    Where: 44-98 S. Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071
    About: Now more than ever, it’s important to shop small and support small businesses. Spending just $10 a week in the local shops will make a difference to whether Uptown Pitman thrives or not. According to the event page, “If each household diverted just $10 of spend from online to local shops, it would bring in an extra $1.8 million into our local economy in just a year’s time. That’s a remarkable difference!” The Tenzy Frenzy is a big celebration of Pitman’s unique collection of shops that will be offering $10 deals and more! Click here to RSVP. 

  • BBQ at the Neck of the Woods

    When: Friday, September 11 from 4–9 pm
    Where: 614 Lambs Road, Suite 7, Pitman, NJ 08071
    About: Neck of the Woods is a local craft brewery that specializes in Hazy IPAs, Sours, Lagers and dark beets. On September 11th, they will be hosting an event where they will serve their local craft beer along with delicious food from Fireman Freddie’s BBQ. In accordance with CDC guidelines, plenty of outdoor seating will be available, as well as take out options. Click here to RSVP.   

  • Harvest Weekends at Heritage Vineyards feat. Live Music & Food Trucks

    When: Every weekend (Saturdays and Sundays) starting September 5 to November 1 from 11am- 5pm
    Where: 480 Mullica Hill Road, Mullica Hill, 08062
    About: Admire the beautiful fall foliage while enjoying wine by the glass, bottle or flight in Heritage Vineyards’ outdoor seating area. Every weekend in September and October, Heritage Vineyards will have live music, food trucks and themed photo areas for social media posts. Over the past few months, it has been their goal to follow CDC guidelines by limiting crowds and maintaining appropriate social distance. Their main concern is the safety of their guests and they take pride in providing an environment where visitors can sit, relax, eat and drink without worry. Click here to reserve your spots now. 

*There is no word yet on if Halloween themed events like Witches of Pitman Shoppe Hop, Hocus Pocus Trivia, Uptown Pitman Costume Contest, and more will be postponed this year due to COVID-19 concerns. For the most up-to-date event information, follow Uptown Pitman’s Facebook page.

 

Access to Historic Pitman, NJ at United Methodist Communities of Pitman

 Making the transition to assisted living can be an adjustment for sure, but when you retire in a great town like Pitman NJ, our residents find new friends, fun activities, as well as a safe and comfortable living environment. Our assisted living residents will also have access to all the activity the surrounding community offers, through transportation options provided by UMC. 

To find out more about life at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today. 

 

Take a Vacation! Let Us Worry About Mom

As the primary care provider for your elderly parent, we know how difficult it is to balance your day-to-day routine. It can be overwhelming and exhausting, especially if you are also balancing full-time work and raising children. With summer coming to a close, there’s no time like the present to take a much-needed vacation! Respite care offers an ideal solution to provide your elderly parent with individualized support in a safe and compassionate environment until you return from vacation.

What is respite care?

Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers. It’s completely up to you to determine how long respite care will last for mom or dad. It can be arranged for a week or up to several weeks at an assisted living community. United Methodist Communities (UMC) at Pitman offers a great opportunity to place your loved one in respite care and you won’t need to worry about their safety or their socialization while you are away!

When planning for this time-off, it’s important to keep your parent in the loop. Put them at ease by giving details about their duration of stay and make sure to emphasize the professional care, individualized support, and social interaction that they would not normally receive at home. If possible, take your loved one on a virtual visit of the community so they can appreciate all the benefits of a respite stay.

Speaking of benefits…

At UMC at Pitman, trained staff and licensed nurses are onsite 24/7 to help your elderly parent make a seamless transition to respite care. Respite care guests receive the same care, socialization, and benefits as full-time assisted living residents.

The key benefits of respite care services at UMC at Pitman include:

  • Assistance with personal care, hygiene and medication
  • Fully furnished apartments for added comfort
  • Nutritious meals in their apartment in dining rooms (depending on the COVID-19 restrictions)
  • Weekly housekeeping services
  • Daily programs that nurture mind, body and spirit
  • Social events and outings (Due to COVID-19, the frequency of social events and outings is subject to change. Please contact UMC for more information.)

UNITEDforSAFETY, an industry-leading standard of infection control and cleanliness, benefits everyone and promotes sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means you can confidently try out one of our communities. Click here for more information on UMC’s UNITEDforSAFETY standard.

It’s important to mention that mom or dad will not be the only ones to benefit from respite care. Primary caregivers come back from their time-off more relaxed and revitalized, and therefore more ready to jump back into caregiving.

Give it a Shot! Respite Care Services Available at UMC at Pitman

With respite care, it’s possible to try out a senior living before making a full-time commitment to an assisted living community.

Many Pitman seniors chose assisted living as a result of a short-term respite care stay. Most, if not all seniors find new friends in their age group, activities that correlate to their interests, as well as, a very safe and welcoming environment. With no long-term obligation, respite care presents an ideal way to experience all the benefits of assisted living on a temporary basis.

To find out more about respite care services at UMC at Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today.

Chair Exercise – A Safe Way for Seniors to Exercise and Stay Fit

 

Whether we like it or hate it, exercising on a day-to-day basis helps keep our bodies moving and working properly as we enter our senior years. It’s important to note that we decrease our chances of age gracefully when we succumb to lazy habits and limit our daily movement. If you or your elderly parent finds it hard to get that daily workout in, tell them not to worry because there are ways to exercise without having to move out of their seat! Chair workouts are a great way for seniors to exercise safely with minimal equipment required.

Please note: the list below is not recommended for everyone. Certain health issues and injuries could make specific workouts very difficult to perform and should most likely be avoided. To err on the side of safety, seniors should ask a doctor or primary caregiver if they are unsure about performing a new workout routine. If you are performing an exercise below and start to feel any intense pain or discomfort, please return to the starting position and stop the exercise immediately.

 

5 Chair Exercises for Seniors

 

  1. Seated Bicep Curls – Targets Arm Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12

Steps:

  • Use a resistance band or a pair of weights.
  • Sit in your chair with hips as far back as possible. Ensure that you are in a comfortable position with your back is firm to the back of the chair. If you choose to use a resistance band, slide it under the chair or sit on it, until it’s equal length to both sides of your body.
  • Engage your core muscles and stick your chest out.
  • Allow your arms to hang with both palms facing forward, while keeping your elbows close to the sides of your body.
  • In a curling motion, move both forearms from the sides of the body to the front of the shoulders (Please modify to your appropriate fitness level, i.e. you don’t have to touch your hands to your shoulders for full range of motion if uncomfortable).
  • Slowly, lower both forearms back to the starting position before repeating.
  1. Extended Leg Raises – Targets Leg Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably at the edge of your chair.
  • Keep your back straight, core muscles tight and stick your chest out.
  • Both hands should be at each side of the chair to hold the seat securely.
  • Extend both feet forward and point your toes to the ceiling. Your legs should be diagonal to your hips.
  • Raise one leg up as high as you can without moving the center of the body. Simultaneously, the other leg will stay in starting position.
  • Slowly, lower your leg back to the starting position, then repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Extending both the right and left leg counts as one rep.
  1. Tummy Twists – Targets Core Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12

           Steps:

  • Using a medicine ball or a smaller object more suited to your comfort level.
  • Flex core muscles tight and stick your chest out while in a comfortable position on your chair. Gripping the object with elbows bent, be sure to keep your hands in front of your body.
  • Lift the object off your lap while keeping it in front of the body, then twist the torso to the right side.
  • Rotate to a forward position, then rotate to the left, finish by rotating back to a forward position.
  • One full rotation counts as one rep.

 

  1. Sit to Stands – Targets Core Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably in the chair toward the edge of the seat while maintaining perfect posture.
  • Keep toes pointed forward and place both hands in front of the body. Make sure this starting position is balanced and stable.
  • Sit up from the chair slowly until you are in a standing position. Take note of your knee placement when going from sitting to standing as the knees should not be bending inward. Your hips are the driving force in this exercise, not your knees.
  • Sit back down in a controlled manor and return to the starting position.

 

  1. Seated Overhead Stretch – Stretches the Body – Suggested Reps: 3-5

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair, while maintaining proper posture. Both feet should be flat on the floor. Hips and lower body should also remain in this stable position.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Raise both hands from your hips and over the head slowly, then clasp both hands at the top.
  • Next, arch your back while inhaling slowly and push the stomach forward, this will result in a stretch of the abdomen wall.
  • Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, then exhale as you return to the starting position.

 

Exercise Safe and Sound at UMC at Pitman!

The chair you need to do these exercises is easily available at home, but the motivation isn’t! One of the most valuable and fun activities available at all United Methodist Community locations is our supervised exercise program. In group classes or one-on-one rehab sessions, we provide both the equipment and the motivation to get moving! A trained exercise therapist helps our residents know what they can handle while providing encouragement and making exercise fun in the process. Plus, our communities have very specialized equipment to help seniors with special needs and physical difficulties. In this way, you can exercise safely under the supervision of a trained, professional physical therapist.

For more information about senior fitness services at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today.

Activities for the 7 Elements of Active Aging

There’s a new, cool term in town and it’s called Active Aging. But what does it mean exactly and how does one age actively? According to the ICAA (International Council on Active Aging), active aging advocates the same mission for all people – regardless of age, status, or health — to fully engage life by promoting each element of wellness.

There are seven elements: physical, vocational, emotional, social, environmental, intellectual, and spiritual. The good news is that everyday activities you already take part in contribute to the success of your active aging!

At United Methodist Communities (UMC) at Pitman and all our communities across New Jersey, active aging is a cornerstone. UMC incorporates active aging as part of our core philosophy to bring the “Abundant Life” to all of New Jersey’s older adults.

Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate active aging embraced by UMC into your own senior lifestyle.

1. Physical – Indoor workouts

Everyone struggles to find the motivation to work out, especially from home. During this time of Covid-19 restrictions, it can be easy to fall into the television and junk food trap. However, if there’s anything that this pandemic has proved, it’s that working out from home is very possible and that there are many ways to do it.

On your iPhone or tablet, you can download free apps that provide exercise programs to follow based on weight, age and fitness level. Some favorites are Keep Trainer, Keep Yoga and Beginner’s Workout.

If you would rather not download yet another app, don’t worry! There are plenty of other fitness programs available online. Click here for more indoor workouts.

2. Vocational – Learn a new skill

Whether it’s mastering a new recipe or the art of sewing, “the wisest mind has something yet to learn” (George Santayana). Acquiring new skills helps to keep the mind sharp, plus you never know where your new talent can take you in this digital age! More and more people are starting to sell handmade goods on popular sites like Etsy and Zazzle.

 3. Emotional and Social – Call family and friends

Seniors who never thought they’d ever use a computer are now utilizing Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Snapchat, and other video chat platforms to communicate with family and friends in the face of Covid-19! When you can’t be face-to-face, video communication is the next best thing to keep in contact with loved ones. Scheduling a weekly (or even daily) call with friends or family will strengthen emotional connection and provide much-needed social interaction.

4. EnvironmentalNature walks

You know what they say about fresh air? Something as simple as a quick 15 to 20-minute walk outside can provide clarity and enhance your relationship with the environment. Especially, if you walk with someone who can educate you on native species of trees, flowers, and animals in the area. Residents can enjoy the benefit of fresh air and sunshine when conditions permit outdoor walks!

5. IntellectualVirtual book club or game nights

Seniors’ ability to use technologies such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime, can also be helpful in starting a monthly book club or game night. Reading and solving puzzles are valuable tools for enhancing cognitive ability. Not to mention, this is yet another way to keep social during the quarantine.

Living in a UMC community makes organizing these special interest activities a snap, as there is a ready pool of other seniors who share these interests. And with UMC associates at the ready to facilitate, you can be sure these gatherings are both social and safe.

6. SpiritualVirtual mass, worship services, etc.

For many, faith is a central part of who we are and what we believe. To be cut off from that during Covid-19 would be difficult. While houses of worship remain under restrictions at this time, live streamed services are accessible for seniors of most denominations.

The UMC staff is familiar with most of these and has been active in providing virtual or other access. Our full-service communities have full time chaplains whose ministries adapt to current guidelines and safety recommendations to comfort residents of all faiths.

If your house of worship does not offer live-streamed services, YouTube has a list of available services to stream: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sunday+mass

UMC at Pitman – Healthy mind, body and spirit!

As a faith based, senior care organization, UMC’s mission for over a hundred years has been to ensure abundant life for seniors. We strongly believe in the principles of active aging and proactively incorporate active aging activities into our core services.

To find out more about our assisted living services at UMC at Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today.

Medicare Coverage and COVID-19: What Seniors Need to Know to Stay Protected

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early February 2020, we’ve learned a lot about how it spreads, how to avoid it, and how to treat it. We’ve also learned that the older adult population is most susceptible to catching it, and most likely to require hospitalization when infected.

Costs associated with testing and treatment of Covid-19 are not insignificant and more than 60 million seniors over 65 rely on Medicare as their primary or only source of health insurance. But what does Medicare actually cover related to Covid-19?

The short answer is that it covers quite a lot thanks to some emergency federal legislation that has expanded Medicare coverage. Seniors should not be afraid of getting tested, more than once if necessary, getting required medications, or going to the hospital if needed. There are just a few things you need to keep in mind.

Coronavirus testing

If you believe you have been exposed to the virus, or are experiencing symptoms, you should get tested right away. Because of the national emergency, a provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act also eliminates beneficiary cost sharing for Covid-19 testing-related services, including the associated physician visit or other outpatient visits (such as hospital observation, E-visit, or emergency department services).

Thus, Medicare will fully cover the laboratory test for Covid-19, as well as the antibodies test. No deductible, coinsurance or copayment will be required. Furthermore, this benefit is available to both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans.

In many areas of the country, tests are still difficult to obtain, requiring advanced scheduling, long lines, and long waits for results. If you opt for certain kinds of private lab testing, you should know that Medicare MAY NOT cover it. Always check with your test provider before ordering these tests.

Necessary hospitalization and respirators

Hospitalizations deemed “medically necessary” will normally be covered under Medicare. But during the current pandemic, even patients diagnosed with mild cases of Covid-19 that require hospital quarantine as a precaution will be covered. The patient is still responsible, however, for paying any copays, hospital deductibles, or coinsurances that may apply to their treatment. This requirement has not been waived for Covid-19 related illness.

Should a senior need to be put on a respirator for Covid-19 treatment, those costs are covered.

Prescription Refills

Medicare Advantage and Part D plans must cover up to a 90-day supply of the patient’s prescription. During the pandemic however, for drugs covered under Part B, Medicare and its contractors can make decisions locally and on a case-by-case basis as to whether to provide and pay for a greater-than-90 day supply of drugs.

Online check-ins and other virtual health benefits

Also known as a telehealth service, seniors can actually have a complete visitation with their healthcare provider using a device that administers audio and video (i.e. smartphones, tablets, Zoom, Skype, etc.). In the past, Medicare would only cover telehealth services in certain situations. At this time Medicare has expanded its coverage to accommodate all members.

According to medicare.gov, people under Medicare “will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings without a copayment.”

Are there special rules for Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facilities or residents around COVID-19?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, CMS is waiving the requirement for a three-day prior hospitalization for coverage of a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for those Medicare beneficiaries who need to be transferred as a result of a coronavirus related disaster or emergency. For beneficiaries who may have recently exhausted their SNF benefits, the waiver from CMS authorizes renews SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period.

Nursing home residents who have Medicare coverage and who need inpatient hospital care, or other Part A, B, or D covered services related to testing and treatment of coronavirus, are entitled to those benefits in the same manner as community residents with Medicare.

To keep informed with the most up-to-date information regarding Medicare and the coronavirus, please visit medicare.gov.

An ounce of prevention

While it’s good to know that Medicare has you covered on coronavirus related care, it would be better to take a little advice from Ben Franklin and not need it at all.

Take extra steps to protect yourself or your senior loved ones by following all the best and latest science around prevention. Wash your hands and face during the day. Avoid crowded gatherings and maintain social distance. Always wear a mask. Stay safe and healthy and you won’t need to do all that Medicare paperwork!

At United Methodist Communities (UMC) at Pitman NJ, the health and safety of each resident is our first priority. Our team of medical and non-medical professionals work together daily to provide each resident with a specialized care plan. We know this focus is central to the joyful fulfillment of our 100+ year legacy to help New Jersey’s senior citizens.

To learn more about UMC’s assisted living community in Gloucester County, please visit our website: https://pitman.umcommunities.org/. Contact us today to book a virtual visit with our Pitman sales team.