Monthly Archives: August 2018

Inside the Medicare 5-Star Rating System

5-star rating system

If you’re in the process of trying to select a skilled nursing provider to meet your loved one’s senior care needs, then you may have come across the Medicare 5-star rating system, also known as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) star ratings. In this article, the team from our assisted living community in Gloucester County explains what this is all about.

What is the 5-Star Rating System? 

Over 10 years ago, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon posed the following question to congress: Why is it easier for people to choose a new appliance than to choose a skilled nursing community? The result was the development of the 5-star rating system.

In this system, skilled nursing providers are awarded a rating of between one and five stars, with five stars being the best rating. This rating is based on several key factors, such as:

Health inspections. How the provider has performed in health inspections over the last three years.

Staff. How many hours of nursing care each resident or patient receives per day as well as the ratio of staff per resident or patient. Facilities with high care needs like hospice or nursing homes would be expected to have more skilled nursing staff than assisted living communities with lower intensity care needs.

Quality of care. Eleven different criteria covering the level of medical and physical care are evaluated. The ratings also take into account how timely the agency is in starting care, how patients and residents improve under care, and how well the provider performs in terms of minimizing patient and resident trips to hospitals and emergency rooms.

This system is fairly comprehensive and — because there are so many different providers and care plans available to seniors — this makes it a useful tool for evaluating different care options and plans. However, it shouldn’t be your only resource in making this important decision, and you should ensure that you visit different providers in person and get quality references.

Looking for Independence and Quality of Life? Visit Our Assisted Living Community in Gloucester County, New Jersey 

Pitman is an assisted living community in Gloucester County, NJ, offering high quality assisted living services in a comfortable, well-supported and beautiful environment. As part of the United Methodist Communities network, we also offer rehabilitation, access to therapists, hospice care, respite care and memory care and support services. We welcome seniors from all faith backgrounds.

To find out more about our assisted living community, please visit our website at contact us today or book a personal tour.

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5 Healthy Vision Tips for Seniors

Examining patient vision

The eyes are often called the window to the soul — and they’re certainly an important window out into the world. As we age, vision can deteriorate, and we can become increasingly at risk for health conditions that affect eyesight. Here are five tips for seniors from our home health aide services team to help protect and preserve eyesight:

  1. Be aware of changes in eyesight/discomfort. In the case of most eye health conditions, early detection is critical to restoring eyesight and minimizing damage. If you notice changes in your vision and eyes — blurriness, yellowing, pain, loss of night vision, etc. — make an appointment to see an eye doctor as soon as possible.
  2. Stay informed about systemic health problems. Certain health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can worsen as we age and affect vision. It’s important to keep your ophthalmologist informed about your health conditions and the medication you’re taking to ensure that they can spot issues easily, give advice on how to recognize eye problems and assist in keeping your eyes healthy.
  3. Regular exercise. For eyes to be healthy, they need good blood circulation and a constant flow of oxygen, and exercise provides this stimulation. It also helps with keeping health conditions that affect the eyes under control. This doesn’t mean training for a marathon, however — yoga, stretching, walking, water aerobics and other gentle exercises are also effective.
  4. Invest in quality eye protection. Always wear protective eyewear when outdoors, especially in bright sunlight. Make sure that your sunglasses have larger lenses with an ultraviolet (UV) filter that blocks 100% of harmful rays.
  5. Have regular eye exams. Eye tests are not just for making sure that your prescription is up-to-date, it’s about monitoring and assessing the health of your eyes. Eye exams are designed to pick up early signs of health conditions that can affect your vision, including glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. One exam per year is recommended, but don’t hesitate to go more often if you are concerned about your vision.


Home Health Aide Services New Jersey – Convenient, Scalable At Home Care for the Elderly 

At United Methodist Communities in New Jersey, we strive to offer the very best quality senior care options, from assisted living to in-home care through our HomeWorks program. This program assists older adults in the comfort of their own homes and provides them, their families and caregivers with personalized, compassionate care that prioritizes health, happiness and independence. We can assist you with respite care, overnight care, hourly or live in care, as well as provide experienced care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

For more information on our home health aide services for older adults, please contact us today or visit our website at

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The 4 Biggest Fears About Assisted Living – And How to Talk About Them

Always there to have a heart to heart

With so many misconceptions about assisted living, it’s no surprise that seniors and their families feel fearful of even bringing up the idea of moving into an assisted living or CCRC community. Here are some insights about the four biggest fears about assisted living and addressing them with your loved ones, from our CCRC in Sussex County, New Jersey:

  1. I’ll lose my independence. The reality is very different! There are so many types of assisted living facilities, each offering a different lifestyle, living arrangement and level of care that there’s no reason to think you won’t find one that supports you the way you want. In fact, many assisted living services focus on making seniors more independent by taking on daily tasks and maintenance — and letting seniors get on with their lives on their own terms.
  2. It will be lonely. Moving out of your home and into a new community is always a challenge and many people worry that they’ll be isolated as a result. However, there’s no reason you can’t continue socializing with friends and family just as you did before, especially if your new community isn’t too far away. With social calendar filled with clubs, events, activities and talks, many seniors find that their social lives improve dramatically in assisted living. Isolation is in fact a far bigger risk to seniors who stay in their own homes.
  3. It will feel institutionalized. In the past, senior care facilities were very limited and institutionalized, but – thanks to the USA’s aging population and demand for quality care, the industry is now unrecognizable. You can now find assisted living communities integrated into towns with beautiful gardens and modern apartments where you can decorate as you wish. Some even cater to specific lifestyles and religious beliefs. With a strong community spirit, the best assisted living communities actively encourage bringing your own unique flair and personality into the space.
  4. It’s too expensive. There are senior living options for a number of different budgets and needs. Veterans Administration benefits are also available to those who qualify to help with the cost. Many facilities also tailor their services to each resident, so you aren’t paying for anything that you don’t need. Take the opportunity to visit assisted living communities and find out how much it will really cost — you will likely be pleasantly surprised.

Find Out What Assisted Living is Really All About with A Tour of Our CCRC in Sussex County, NJ 

Bristol Glen is an independent senior living community in Sussex County that provides seniors with comfortable living choices that free up time to enjoy life.

Contact us to find out more about our CCRC and assisted living facilities, amenities and services. Please visit our website at and book your visit today.

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5 Characteristics of the Best Assisted Living Staff

Senior woman walking being helped by female nurse

Bricks and mortar may be the building blocks of a great assisted living facility but it’s the dedication, passion and quality of the staff who are the real foundation of the community’s success. They are responsible for the safety, happiness and health of the residents, and add the vibrancy and connection essential to a high quality of life.

This industry is a growing and exciting one, with many opportunities for people to experience the rewards of being a senior caregiver. Here are the most important traits of a great senior caregiver, from our assisted living team in Camden County, NJ:

  1. Dealing with people in such an intimate way — taking care of aspects of their daily lives like dressing, hygiene and medical care — is challenging, and this challenge is even more apparent when residents suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Having patience and the ability to be flexible and calm at all times is essential to caregiving, providing the best outcomes for the residents and taking various hurdles like mood swings, unscheduled events and difficult situations in stride.
  2. Empathy and compassion. Caregiving isn’t just about giving people the support they need to take care of chores, medication and daily needs, it’s about building a connection and relationship with the resident to help them live a full and happy life. Being able to empathize with residents is essential to providing high-quality care because a caregiver understands what the patient is going through, anticipate their needs and deliver care in a way that is positive and effective without being intrusive or overwhelming.
  3. Good communication skills. Communication is a significant part of this role, from communicating with residents and other members of the care team to keeping in touch with family and loved ones. Great communication skills keep everyone up-to-date as well as helping to keep residents calm and comfortable. These skills are also vital for picking up on minor health issues and needs, so that they are addressed early and don’t become more serious.
  4. Caregivers at the assisted living facility should be happy to demonstrate that they are fully trained and certified according to state guidelines to take on their role. Another good sign is that the community encourages associates to engage in continued learning and skill development to keep improving and advancing the services they deliver.
  5. Residents come first. Always putting the needs of the residents first is essential. Little things like knowing the residents by name, taking the time to get to know them and their loved ones, and participating with residents through events, socializing and companionship is important and shows that the associates are actively involved in the community itself.

Become Part of the Senior Care Family at Our Assisted Living Community in Camden County, NJ! 

United Methodist Communities at Collingswood New Jersey is part of the United Methodist Communities network of high-quality, non-profit, assisted living communities specializing in independent living for seniors. As part of the United Methodist Communities network, we also offer rehabilitation, access to therapists, hospice care, respite care and memory care and support services. We welcome seniors from all faith backgrounds.

The team at Collingswood is united by their tremendous sense of satisfaction in caring for, and having relationships with active, vibrant seniors. Our assisted living community offers associates an environment which upholds spirituality and our non-profit mission as the framework for everything they do, creating a supportive and focused environment. Our team also lives “the abundant life” we offer our residents by having a true sense of purpose when they come to work every day.

To find out more about career opportunities at any of the four full-service United Methodist Communities or our assisted living community in Camden County, NJ, please visit our website at or contact us today.

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5 Easy Ways to Add Extra Nutrition into a Senior Diet

Senior couple preparing salad

Digestive issues and lack of appetite are common concerns among seniors and can make getting proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight a challenge. Here are some tips from our in home respite care team in New Jersey on how to assist seniors in this important area:

  1. Easily digested protein. Some forms of protein are more difficult to chew and digest than others, so it can help to include different sources that offer alternatives for seniors with poor digestion or dental challenges. Eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, tuna, salmon, cottage cheese and ground beef are high-protein, versatile options to suit any taste.
  2. Smoothies are a great way to add a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as protein into a diet — and they’re tasty and easy to swallow and digest, too. Green smoothies of leafy greens like spinach and kale blended with mango, pineapple and banana are a favorite, but you can also experiment with all kinds of seasonal fruits, vegetables and yogurts for variety.
  3. Whey protein powder. This is easy to add into oatmeal, porridge and fruit smoothies and is a fantastic source of protein that requires no chewing at all. There are quite a few varieties on the market and neutral options don’t impact flavor significantly, so they’re great for fussy eaters. Since some have added sugar, seniors who have diabetes or are trying to manage their weight, should be aware of the ingredients.
  4. Versatile healthy fats. Creamy peanut butter, mashed avocado, olive oil and butter can all be easily added into everyday meals such as soups, pureed vegetables, mashed potatoes and casseroles to increase calorie intake (if needed) and add healthy fats essential to regulating blood sugar levels and healthy brain function.
  5. Homemade ‘ice cream.’ If your senior has a sweet tooth and loves deserts, this type of ice cream is a healthy and delicious alternative. Simply freeze slices of ripe banana and when it’s time for desert, put them in the blender with some drops of vanilla or frozen berries. It’s sweet and delicious — and rich in potassium and vitamins — and you can’t even tell it isn’t regular ice cream!

Professional, Affordable In-Home Respite Care Services in New Jersey 

At United Methodist Communities, we offer high-quality senior independent home care at affordable rates through our HomeWorks program. Our home health aides are fully certified in New Jersey and have extensive senior care training and experience, so please feel free to ask for formal certification and references.

For more information on our in-home respite care services and senior home care services, please contact us today or visit our website at

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Palliative Care – Deciding Between In-Home and Hospice Options

Hands of an old woman and a young man. Caring for the elderly. close up

Individuals at the end-of-life have several care options available to them, but it can be a challenge deciding which ones will work best. Our hospice in South Jersey recommends looking at three main factors to help you decide – namely, the intensity of care needed, the available budget for care, and the wishes of the person concerned. In this article, we’ll take a look at two high-quality end-of-life care options and what they offer.

Home-Based End-of-Life Care 

This is provided in the home of the individual, which can be more comforting and comfortable than some alternatives like hospitalization. The services and cost vary from provider to provider and depend on the severity of the individual’s condition.

It should involve a team of fully trained caregivers to take care of a wide range of duties from nursing and medication management to nutrition and hygiene, and even household chores if needed. Home-based care has the advantage of not having to move your loved one to new surroundings, which can cause confusion and distress and may make it more difficult for friends and family to visit if the site is far away.

Hospice End-of Life Care

Hospice facilities are not to be confused with hospital facilities, as they don’t offer curative treatments. Instead, hospice focuses solely on providing comfort and care to terminal patients with six months or less to live. Unlike hospitals and institutional facilities, quality hospice facilities go to great lengths to provide a calm, welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for patients, combining the privacy and comforts of a home with expert nursing and therapy services.

At a hospice, your loved one will receive around-the-clock care tailored to his or her exact needs and wishes. Interdisciplinary care teams are on hand at all times to ensure that patients’ physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs are met, and families are also supported throughout this time. Care plans are developed with input from patients and their loved ones as well as doctors, nurses, therapists and other specialists.

The cost of hospice care varies among providers, but eligible patients at providers certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should receive coverage for all care related to the admitting diagnosis through the Medicare and Medicaid Hospice Benefit.

Find Out More About Quality Hospice Care – Speak to the Team at Our Hospice in South Jersey 

At The Shores, a part of the well-known United Methodist Communities non-profit organization in New Jersey, we offer care in a compassionate, professional hospice neighborhood in the Jersey Shore area called Bridges.

This program focuses on creating a nurturing and comforting environment for individuals and their loved ones through customized care programs and compassionate support. To find out more about our hospice neighborhood in Cape May County, please visit our website at or contact us today and schedule your visit.

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