Helpful Information

Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)

When searching for long-term care options for your parents or other loved ones, you should be familiar with the term activities of daily living. Why? Senior care providers use both the activities of daily living and the instrumental activities of daily living as a baseline to create service or care plans, determine levels of care and set costs for care. As a senior’s need for assistance increases, so does the cost of the care.

Typically,  a licensed nurse conducts an assessment which forms the basis of a care plan that outlines the level and frequency of supportive services that will be provided. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, assisted living residents need help with three or more ADLs on average. More than half of all seniors residing in assisted living communities require help with preparing meals, managing their medications and bathing.

Activity of Daily Living % of Residents Needing Help:

Medication Management 81%
Meal Preparation 87%
Bathing 72%
Dressing 72%
Toileting 36%
Transferring 25%
Eating 22%

Below is a more detailed look at the activities of daily living and the instrumental activities of daily living.

Basic Activities of Daily Living

Most senior care providers and health professionals group the activities of daily living into the following six categories:

  1. Bathing: includes grooming activities such as shaving, and brushing teeth and hair
  2. Dressing: choosing appropriate garments and being able to dress and undress, having no trouble with buttons, zippers or other fasteners
  3. Eating: being able to feed oneself
  4. Transferring: being able to walk, or, if not ambulatory, being able to transfer oneself from bed to wheelchair and back
  5. Continence: being able to control one’s bowels and bladder, or manage one’s incontinence independently
  6. Toileting: being able to use the toilet

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

  1. Using the telephone: being able to dial numbers, look up numbers, etc.
  2. Managing medications: taking the appropriate medications and correct dosages on time
  3. Preparing meals: making appropriate food choices and preparing meals safely
  4. Maintaining the home: doing or arranging for housekeeping and laundry
  5. Managing finances: budgeting, paying mortgage/rent and bills on time, etc.
  6. Shopping: being able to shop for groceries and other small necessities, and transport purchases from store to home
  7. Using transportation: being able to drive or use public transportation for appointments, shopping, etc.

Five Signs of Cognitive Decline

Below are signs that your family members are dealing with cognitive decline.

1. Is your family member able to hold a coherent, prolonged conversation?
Conversing with an older person can offer clues to his/her mental status. While forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, severe memory loss can sometimes indicate deeper problems. When you talk with your elderly loved one, pay attention to whether they call you by name and is speaking at a normal tone and speed.  Agitation stemming from basic questions may indicate dementia or Alzheimer’s.
2. Is your family member keeping up with current events and normal routines?
Has your family member quit participating in their favorite activities? Are they no longer speaking as frequently with friends and family? If a senior has discontinued their normal routine (with or without physical cause), has stopped making plans, or no longer references the future, they may be suffering from depression.
3. Is your family member losing weight?
Weight loss can be a sign that a loved one is not eating properly. This could have many causes including loss of mobility or sight, diminished mental capacity, or depression.
4. Is your family member’s physical appearance clean and orderly?
Signs that their mental capacity is diminished can be determined if their clothing has food or other stains, smells like it has not been recently laundered or their shoes do not match and taking care of other basic hygiene such as brushing their hair or teeth daily.
5. Does the house look neat and tidy?
Just as physical appearance can indicate problems with mobility or mental capacity, upkeep of the home can show signs of whether your family member is having trouble living independently . Are the dishes being done? Are the plants being watered? Do things smell musty or moldy? Is the garbage piling up?

These can all be signs that a senior is unable to properly care for themselves without outside assistance.

VA Aid Information

Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits
Most people think of veterans benefits being only for service men and women who were wounded or disabled while serving in the armed forces. In fact, the Aid and Attendance benefit is available to wartime veterans and their spouses who are now seniors and facing long-term care costs such as home care, assisted living facility fees and nursing home expenses.

Aid and Attendance is a “special monthly pension” available to wartime veterans or surviving spouses of wartime veterans. Aid and Attendance is not a stand-alone benefit, but is awarded on top of either the “service” benefit or the “housebound” benefit.

There are financial eligibility requirements associated with the qualification for any VA pension, including Aid and Attendance benefits. The current rule of thumb is that a married veteran and spouse can have no more than $80,000 in countable assets ($50,000 for a single veteran or surviving spouse). Those amounts include retirement assets but exclude a home and a vehicle. Remember that this is merely a guideline and not a rule. There are other factors that the VA caseworkers consider such as age/life expectancy, income and medical expenses in determining whether the veteran or surviving spouse is entitled to pension benefits.

Should I Obtain Help to File a VA Benefit Claim?
Filing a claim for VA disability benefits is a complicated process, even when the claims seem straightforward. Even though the VA makes basic claims forms available, it is highly recommended that anyone making a benefit claim obtain assistance and guidance from an accredited attorney, claims agent or veterans service officer. The process and forms can be confusing and any information omitted or completed incorrectly can delay the process by 3-5 weeks.

Housing Links

Assisted Living Association of Georgia

Assisted Living Federation of America

Georgia Association of Home & Services for the Aging

Georgia Nursing Home Association

Nursing Home Comparison

Georgia Senior Living Association

SAGE – A Test to Measure Thinking Abilities

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments. It evaluates your thinking abilities and helps physicians to know how well your brain is working. Visit Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s website for more information. Also, see the SAGE test scoring explanation for how to interpret the test results.

Associations and Websites

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Aid and Attendance Information:
Phone – 1.800.827.1000

Alzheimer’s Association:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

American Health Care Association:


Having The Talk

Is it time to get more help?  Are you doing your best to provide care and support to your parent or loved one, but it is becoming too much…It may be time to have “The Talk” with your parents.  The conversations most worth having are often the most difficult.  It is important to talk openly about BETTER OPTIONS for all of you.  It will take time, but it is best to start the conversation and exploration before it becomes an urgent task with less options.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the topic and make it a positive experience…


Mom/Dad:  I am doing just fine at home with your help.

Daughter/Son:  Yes, we have all been managing, but it IS NOT fine anymore.  The house has become too much for you to handle by yourself and too much for me to help you with any longer.  I don’t want you to just manage.  I want you to really enjoy living in an environment that gives you access to more socializing, activities and ultimately more freedom and independence.

Mom/Dad: I am not alone.  I have you and your brother and sister.

Daughter/Son:  We love being with you.  We want to spend quality time with you instead of the time we spend worrying, running errands, paying bills, cleaing and nursing you.  We have busy schedules, it is becoming stressful and we can’t be there to give you proper care. Also, it is important that you have your own friends.   In a Senior Living Community, you can get together with people you have more in common with whenever you like.

Mom/Dad:  Couldn’t we just hire a service to come in and help me at home?

Daughter/Son:  We could, however you would be isolated by yourself too often.  A paid caregiver is not a friend or family.   I want you to be out doing things and seeing people and enjoying yourself like you used to.  Also, the cost of home care plus your existing expenses are higher than other options that are better for you.   Let’s just explore these options.  They are very different than you might remember.

Mom/Dad: I don’t need that much help.  Those places are for old sick people.

Daughter/Son:  There are some amazing housing options that allow you to be very independent.  You are right, you don’t need that much help.  There are communities where you will have your own apartment, wonderful meals and fun, interesting things to do every day.  This will allow you to be even more independent that you are now because you won’t have to wait around for me!!

Mom/Dad:  I don’t think it is for me.  What if I go there and hate it?

Daughter/Son:  If you try it and don’t like it, you don’t have to stay.  Most of the Senior Living apartments are only a 30 day commitment and you can try it out and see if you like it.  The amazing thing is, most people that try it, love it and wish they had made the move much sooner!

Mom/Dad:  How do we find the right place, I don’t know where to begin?

Daughter/Son:  There is a new service available for Senior’s and their families that assists with finding the right type of housing.  And best of all…IT IS FREE!!!!!  The advisors match up your budgetary, geographical, social, clinical and cognitive needs/desires with the community to give you the best options to visit.  They take you on the tours and help you through the process. The community then pays the service a commission for placing you in their community.  Sunshine Senior Services only works with licensed communities to give you the best options.   Let’s give it a try.


Call Sunshine Senior Services today and let them do all the hard work for you!! 470-204-2333   ext. 102

Local Partners

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Useful Forms

Info Coming Soon….Under Construction

  1. Community Tour Checklist for Client
  2. Authorization to Obtain and Release Confidential Health Care Information

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Let us personally help make the physical, emotional and time consuming task of finding the best housing easier for you and at NO COST to you!