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Posts Tagged ‘quality of life’

4 Ways to Prevent Pneumonia in Seniors

Pneumonia in SeniorsFall is in the air. Some of the leaves have already started changing and many of us have experienced reduced temperatures when we step outside, letting us know that winter is coming.

It can be a great time of year, but it can also be a dangerous time of year, especially for seniors. Not only do ice and snow pose an increased risk of falling, but the colder air tends to bring with it colds, flus, and other viruses. While they may be nothing more than nuisances to the rest of us, these diseases can be life threatening to seniors whose immune systems may not be as strong they once were, especially if the virus gets into their lungs and causes pneumonia.

Here are four ways you can help protect your loved ones from pneumonia:

1) Immunizations

There’s a reason medical professionals encourage everyone to get their flu shots every fall, especially seniors and those with weakened immune systems. There’s no such thing as a guarantee against getting sick, but getting immunized is one way to stack the deck in your favor. By making sure the seniors in your life get their flu shot every year, you’re decreasing the chances they’ll catch something that could turn into pneumonia.

2) Hygiene

There’s no need to seal seniors in a bubble to prevent infection, tempting as it may be at times, but by practicing good hygiene, you can help reduce the chances they’ll get sick. Wash your hands regularly in warm, soapy water, or use hand sanitizer. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer immediately afterwards. Stay away from seniors if you’re sick or if you’ve been around other people who have been sick – you don’t want to accidentally act as a carrier for a nasty cold or flu.

Also make sure seniors are taking good care of their teeth and mouth. In addition to colds and flus, other types of infections, including dental or oral infections, can also turn into pneumonia, so make sure seniors are still seeing the dentist regularly.

3) Stay Healthy

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but by constantly practicing general good health, we reduce our risk of getting sick. That includes eating our veggies, keeping our sugar and alcohol intake to a minimum, avoiding tobacco products, and exercising regularly. All these practices, not only help keep our immune system strong and ready for action, they also help us feel great by giving our body all the things it needs, while avoiding the things that can be harmful.

4) Educate Yourself

Know the early signs of pneumonia in seniors so you can act as soon as possible. Rather than a cough or fever (although you should certainly be on the lookout for those symptoms as well), seniors are more likely to experience weakness, dizziness, or confusion. Since these can be common signs of aging, especially in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, pneumonia often goes undetected until it’s too late. Be on the lookout for any changes in their health or attitude and talk to their doctor if you’ve noticed anything unusual that could point to a serious health risk.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

7 Reasons Senior Dental Health Is So Important

senior dental healthMany people tend to think of dental health as something that’s separate from and unrelated to the rest of our health. Maybe it’s because dental insurance is generally sold separately from health insurance, but the fact is the health of our teeth and mouth is a vital component of our overall health. If our mouth isn’t healthy, we’re not healthy. Although everyone should be on top of their dental health, below are seven reasons senior dental health is so important and why.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be deadly for seniors, many of whom are already suffering from a weakened immune system. A link has been found between pneumonia and poor oral health, which can leave bacteria in the mouth that gets inhaled into the lungs, where it develops into pneumonia.

Heart disease

While heart disease can sometimes seem like an isolated incident in an otherwise healthy individual, in fact there are often warning signs we ignore because we don’t think they’re related. But studies have proven that gum disease and heart disease are connected, even to the point where common problems in the mouth can be as effective at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.

So if you want to make sure your senior loved ones (and yourself) don’t suffer from heart attacks or strokes, make sure you’re all brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Diabetes

Periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease, hinders the body’s ability to use insulin, which can lead to diabetes. But it can go the other way, too, because high blood sugar (a common effect of diabetes) can lead to gum infection.

Denture-induced Stomatitis

When the tissue underneath a denture gets inflamed, it’s known as denture-induced stomatitis. It can be very painful and can be caused by poor dental hygiene, dentures that don’t fit right, or a build-up in the mouth of a fungus known as Candida albicans.

Gum disease

Gum disease has been linked to a variety of health problems all over the body – not just the mouth. It can be caused/exacerbated by a wide range of habits, including poor dental hygiene, an unhealthy diet, tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco), and dentures and bridges that don’t fit right. Other illnesses, such as diabetes, anemia, and cancer, have also all been linked to gum disease.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, as well as radiation for those getting treated for cancer in the head/neck regions. While dry mouth may seem like a minor annoyance, it’s actually a serious health concern. Saliva not only helps us digest our food, it also helps keep the mouth clean by controlling bacteria and preventing infections in the mouth. So if you or your loved one is experiencing dry mouth, be sure to tell your dentist immediately.

Root Decay

Root decay is very common in elderly patients as the gum recedes from the tooth and the root (which doesn’t have any protective enamel) is exposed to bacteria and food acids. As with everything else, this could be an indication of and/or precursor to a larger health issue, so if you or a loved one are experiencing any tooth pain, make sure to get it looked at right away.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

What To Do When A Loved One Can’t Go Home From The Hospital

When A Loved One Can’t Go Home From The HospitalNo one likes hospitals and every patient is eager to get out of there as soon as possible. Once they escape the uncomfortable, sterile environment full of strangers, they just want to go home – to retreat to their own space. It’s perfectly normal for patients to want that, but what if it’s not an option?

For some aging patients, especially if they’re very sick, they may not be able to take care of themselves, and if they live alone, going home after the hospital could be dangerous. At that point, if you’re the caregiver, you’ll have some tough choices to make. No one can make them for you (though you can certainly ask for advice), but the decision will ultimately be yours and you will have to make it based on the needs of your loved one.

Home Care

In the best-case scenario, you might be able to hire someone to come in and help your loved one around the house. If your loved one needs help cooking and cleaning, but is otherwise healthy and self-sufficient (i.e. you don’t need to worry about them accidentally leaving the oven on or not being able to get out of bed on their own), a home nurse might be a good option. This is also a possibility when your loved one does live with someone (such as a partner or an adult child) who can look after them, but needs some help with the caretaking.

Whether or not this is an option will also depend on your financial situation and where your loved one lives. In some of the more rural areas, it might not be possible to get someone out there.

Assisted Living Facility

The last thing most patients want to do is move from a hospital to another strange environment, but if you’ve decided assisted living is the way to go, you’re going to have to convince your loved one it’s in their own best interests. Assisted living is a great option for people with a variety of needs. Most of them have different levels of care, so if your loved one is still relatively self-sufficient, but needs some help with daily tasks, an assisted living facility can be ideal. If they need more extensive care, they can also probably find what they need in an assisted living facility.

Nursing Home

If/when your loved one gets to the point of needing professional medical attention on a regular basis, they might need to go from the hospital to a nursing home. Like hospitals, nursing homes maintain a nursing staff 24/7. They cannot perform surgeries or run many of the tests that hospitals can perform, but they can help take care of patients with chronic and/or deteriorating medical conditions.

Hospice

The worst-case scenario is hospice. This is for when it has become clear your loved one will never get better. Their condition will only continue to deteriorate until the end, and while keeping them in the hospital might delay the inevitable, few people would prefer to die in a hospital. Hospice can give them the care they need while helping to make them as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

What You Don’t Know About High Cholesterol CAN Hurt You

High cholesterolHigh cholesterol is one of those things that easily sneak up on you. There’s just something about human nature that makes us want to bury our heads in the sand rather than receive bad news – as if it can’t hurt us if we don’t know about it.

When it comes to our health, a large part of the problem is the lack of information available, and much of the information we do have access to is conflicting. But knowledge is power, so here are 8 things you need to know about cholesterol to help you and any loved ones you may be caring for.

1) There are no symptoms that come along with having high cholesterol until it’s too late, which is why it’s vital to get your levels checked regularly.

2) When you do get your cholesterol checked, make sure you get your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels measured, not just your total cholesterol, which doesn’t tell you much of anything. Your cholesterol numbers might be slightly higher than the average, but if it’s mostly HDL and low LDL, you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if your overall cholesterol is low, but it’s mostly LDL with low levels of HDL, that’s something you should be concerned about. Also keep an eye on your triglyceride numbers, which you want to be lowest of all.

3) The body makes most of its own cholesterol – only about ¼ of the cholesterol in our body comes from the food we eat. Because of the specific form cholesterol takes in most of our foods, most of it doesn’t get absorbed, so you don’t actually need to worry about foods that are high in cholesterol, especially since they are often among the most nutritious foods available to us.

4) That said, genetics do play a factor. Some people are genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than others, and in some cases, the ratio of HDL to LDL might be less than favorable. Diet and exercise both play a role, but it’s always a good idea to check your family history and be sure to remain vigilant about getting your levels checked.

5) While we tend to focus on high cholesterol, it’s important to remember that there is such a thing as cholesterol levels that are too low. Cholesterol is vital to maintaining our health – it helps carry nutrients around the body and HDL actually helps keep our arteries clean. So don’t get too focused on getting your cholesterol as low as possible – if it’s in the healthy range and you have a good ration of HDL to LDL, you’re fine and you don’t need to worry about it.

6) Cholesterol levels tend to rise as we age and women in particular tend to experience higher triglyceride levels after menopause, so be on the lookout for all of those warning signs.

7) The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends adults over 20 get their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years, but those who are at risk (especially people over the age of 45) might need to get their levels checked more frequently.

8) High blood pressure and smoking are also both associated with higher levels of cholesterol, so if you have a loved one who smokes and you know they have high blood pressure, try to be extra vigilant about making sure they get their cholesterol checked regularly and keep their diet and exercise regimen as healthy as possible.

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is not only good for helping to prevent heart attacks and stroke, but also dementia and a whole host of other potential health problems. It’s just one more reason to educate yourself on the facts of cholesterol so you can protect yourself and those you are caring for.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we do everything we can to answer the questions of our seniors in our community, as well as help them manage their health. If we do not have the answer, we will find someone that does.

CONTACT US TODAY for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

10 Decorating Tips for Assisted Living

Decorating Tips for Assisted LivingJust like you take time to decorate any space you move into, you should be sure to help your loved one to decorate their new space when they move into an assisted living facility. It’s their new home and it should feel like home, but it also needs to be safe. Here are 10 things to consider when helping your loved one decorate.

1) Consider your space.

The first thing you need to do before undertaking any decorating project is to consider the space you’ll be decorating. Take measurements so you know exactly what you’re working with as far as floor space, wall space, etc.

2) Almost anything can be storage.

Moving to an assisted living facility usually means downsizing. If someone has been accustomed to filling a big house with their possessions, moving into a one- or two-bedroom unit will be a big change for them, but you can make it easier by finding clever ways to store things that don’t need to be on hand or on display at all times. Ottomans and trunks can provide storage space while also being decorative and serving another purpose in the space. Storage space doesn’t have to be limited to closets and under the bed.

3) Remember to prevent falls whenever possible.

This means no rugs or anything cluttering the floor, clear visibility and plenty of lighting throughout the unit, and plenty of sturdy things to hold onto as they make their way through the apartment.

4) Colors matter.

The colors we are surrounded by can have a significant, if subconscious, effect on our health and wellbeing. Blues, greens, and yellows are most often associated with healing, so be sure to include those as much as possible in your space.

5) Use round, non-glass furniture.

Falls should be prevented whenever possible, but even the best layout can’t prevent all falls. If they do happen, falling onto sharp corners and/or glass furniture can make the damage so much worse – even fatal. So use round, non-glass furniture throughout the unit.

6) Avoid busy patterns or designs with dark spots.

Busy patterns can cause confusion and agitation in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, while dark spots can look like holes or splotches of dirt to those with impaired vision.

7) Don’t forget tactile.

Decorating is about more than what we see. Texture plays a big role, so aside from making the resident comfortable, you should also consider using different fabrics, such as felt, denim, and lace. They can excite the senses and help boost memory.

8) Encourage social interaction.

If the resident loves certain games, keep those games readily available so they can be pulled out and played any time a visitor comes. Place interesting artwork and memorabilia in various places to encourage conversation.

9) Bring the outside in.

This is especially important if the resident can’t make it outside much. By including artwork that’s evocative of nature, as well as actual plants (if permissible) you’ll create a more healing environment that has been proven to boost overall mood, as well as health.

10) Have Fun

Decorating is a creative way of expressing yourself and the personality of the person/people inhabiting that space. Above all, never forget to have fun with it and include the input of the person/people who will be living there.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

What Are the Risk Factors of Glaucoma in Seniors?

glaucoma in seniorsThe term glaucoma refers to various eye disorders, all of which are progressive and tend to result in damage to the optic nerve (which is a bundle of roughly one million nerve fibers that are responsible for transmitting visual signals from the eye to the brain). Glaucoma is considered to be loss of vision as a result of damage to the nerve tissue.

Primary open-angle glaucoma is the form of glaucoma patients experience most often, and it’s caused by an increase in the pressure of the fluid in the eye. Such pressure can cause gradual damage to the optic nerve over time and loss of nerve fibers. It can ultimately result in vision loss and even blindness.

1) How Old You Are

Most people over 60 are at risk, but African Americans tend to experience an increased risk after age 40. After these markers, the risk for glaucoma goes up each year.

2) Your Race

African Americans are more likely than Caucasians to develop glaucoma and to experience permanent vision loss as a result. Asians are more likely to develop angle-closer glaucoma, with people of Japanese descent being especially more likely to get low-tension glaucoma. Latin Americans are most at risk in very elderly populations.

3) Your Family History

If your family has a history of glaucoma, you’re more likely to develop it yourself.

4) Other Medical Conditions

Having certain medical conditions can increase the chances you’ll also develop glaucoma. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and low blood pressure have all been linked to glaucoma. Many people worry about high blood pressure (which can cause vision loss from glaucoma if left untreated), but few people worry about their blood pressure getting too low (hypotension). Nevertheless, hypotension is as serious a medical condition as hypertension and can cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss.

5) Physical Injuries In And Around The Eye

Getting hit in the eye isn’t just extremely painful, it can also cause the pressure in the eye to escalate, either immediately after the injury and/or some time after the incident itself. Severe trauma to the eye can also dislocate the lens, which causes the drainage angle to close, thereby increasing pressure on the eye and causing all sorts of problems.

6) Other Risk Factors Related To The Eye

The anatomy of the eye itself varies slightly from person to person and the unique way your eyes are constructed might put you at an increased risk for glaucoma. For example, how thick your cornea is and the appearance of your optic nerve can both provide an idea of your personal risk for glaucoma. Conditions you might have developed over time, such as retinal detachment, tumors and any kind of inflammation in or around the eye, can all cause and/or exacerbate glaucoma. Some studies have also suggested you might be at increased risk for glaucoma if you’ve experienced a lot of nearsightedness.

7) Use Of Corticosteroids

Use of corticosteroids for an extended period of time has been linked to secondary glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a frightening prospect that can seriously inhibit our independence along with our vision. Because age is a primary factor in the development of glaucoma, you should be especially vigilant in looking out for it as loved ones get older, especially if they have one or more of the other risk factors.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we do everything we can to answer the questions of our seniors in our community. If we do not have the answer, we will find someone that does.

CONTACT US TODAY for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

The Importance of Companion Pets In Assisted Living

Companion Pets In Assisted LivingIt’s National Pet Month, and while the health benefits of pets have been long established, we would like to take a few minutes to recognize the importance of companion pets in assisted living and how TRULY beneficial it is.

In addition to all the well-known health benefits that pets provide to all of us (lowered blood pressure, lower stress levels, lower cholesterol, etc.) pets can also provide companionship and a sense of purpose at a time of life that can often be lonely. Pets provide unconditional love, companionship, and nonverbal communication, which, for many seniors, can be just what the doctor ordered.

While walking a dog provides good cardiovascular exercise, it can also be a bridge to socializing with others. A dog isn’t just man’s best friend, he can also be man’s best wingman. Try walking a friendly, good-looking dog in any well-populated area and you’ll have people wanting to pet your dog and other dogs wanting to introduce themselves to your dog. It’s a great icebreaker for talking to other people in your community, especially other dog owners, and can help alleviate some of the feelings of isolation that come with getting older.

Assisted living facilities that allow animals have noticed how beneficial they can be with new residents, who are often especially withdrawn and uncommunicative. Sometimes a resident’s first significant interaction in the facility is with an animal, and that opens a pathway to talking with other residents and staff.

Taking care of a pet can also provide seniors with a sense of worth and boost their self-esteem. At a time when many people start to feel like they’re no longer contributing anything to the world, a pet can help reduce those feelings by assuring seniors they are needed and loved.

Pet therapy has also been proven to be especially useful in helping seniors deal with “Sundowner’s Syndrome,” a condition in which those with Alzheimer’s suffer periods of increased confusion and agitation in the evenings. Animals can help soothe patients during these tough times with their non-verbal communication and unconditional acceptance of the patients. For some seniors, it can even serve as a reminder of a pet they had when they were growing up, which can help to calm them.

As vital as pets can be to those living in assisted living facilities, buildings that allow their residents to have pets need to be careful that the needs of both the patient and the pet are being met. If the patient is forgetful and doesn’t always remember to feed or walk their pet, they may need help from the assisted living facility staff. After all, seniors tend to move to an assisted living facility because they need help with certain day-to-day tasks of living and taking care of themselves. While the fact that they need help taking care of themselves does not necessarily mean they can’t take care of an animal, it might mean it would be a good idea for the staff to keep an eye on the animal and make sure they are not being neglected. In order to avoid this problem, some assisted living facilities might choose to keep pets in the building that are in the charge of the staff, but that are available to spend time with all residents.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

10 Healthy Hobbies for Seniors

hobbies for seniorsHobbies are a great way for retired citizens to stay active, both physically and mentally and the importance of having a hobby in our golden years is backed up by an increasing body of evidence. If you or a loved one are considering what to do with your retirement years, here are 10 healthy hobbies seniors can start/develop.

1) Volunteering

One of the most detrimental effects of retirement is it tends to make people feel like they are no longer useful. It often leads to them feeling cut off from society, which in turn leads to depression and a variety of health issues. Volunteering can combat those feelings by giving seniors a purpose again and a way to become active in the community.

2) Exercise

We’re all told to exercise and maintain physical activity throughout our lives and it’s even more important to continue doing so as we age. From walking to yoga there’s something for everyone, including those whose mobility is limited as they get older. Swimming is especially popular among seniors who often suffer from joint pain as a result of lost cartilage.

3) Gardening

Many studies have been done on the health benefits of gardening. To start with, it gets you outside and moving, both things that are known to boost mood, immune system function, and overall health. You can make it an even healthier activity by growing some of your favorite fruits and vegetables.

4) Music

Whether singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or all three, music is a great way to keep minds and bodies feeling young. It’s enjoyable, provides mental and physical stimulation, and can be done with a partner or in a group for an added social aspect.

5) Games

Psychologists have long known about the long-term health benefits of things like crossword puzzles and that continues to be true for all mentally challenging games. People of all ages who play games like Scrabble and chess exhibit enhanced cognitive function.

6) Arts and Crafts

There’s nothing like creating something with your own hands. Arts and crafts can keep seniors active, maintain/improve their coordination, and provide a creative outlet for their thoughts and feelings.

7) Learn a New Skill

They say you learn something new everyday and that should remain true right up until the end. If you’ve always wondered how to identify birds or poisonous plants, your retirement years just might be the perfect time to find the answers to all those questions that have been plaguing you your whole life – or the last five minutes.

8) Fermentation

If you’ve always wanted to try making your own beer or wine, there’s no time like the present.

9) Creative Writing

Writing is another form of expression and a great option for people of any age. Whether you want to use your retirement years to put together that novel you’ve always wanted to write, or just short stories for your own amusement, creative writing has proven benefits for cognitive and emotional health.

10) Keep a Pet

There’s nothing like have a living, sentient being literally depend on you for survival to make you feel needed and useful. It’s also a symbiotic relationship because having a pet is known to improve mood and immune function while reducing stress and blood pressure.

The need to stay active is so important in the life of a senior. There are many options for seniors to stay active. Here at Stillwater Senior Living, our staff can provide stimulating activities to keep our seniors engaged and occupied. 

CONTACT US TODAY to find out ore and take a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Understanding Options and Terms in Today’s Senior Care

Options and Terms in Today’s Senior CareFinding senior living options isn’t easy, and it can be confusing. The number of Americans 65+ will increase by 3% each year over the next 20 years. By the year 2030, there will be over 70 million people over the age of 65. According to the Department of Human Services, the senior population will grow faster than the total population in all 50 states. Aging comes with adaptation and change, and there are many senior housing options to choose from. While most seniors want to stay home, this may not be the safest or least expensive option. In fact, at least 60% of seniors looking at nursing homes end up choosing an active senior living community.

More Option for Different Levels of Care

Finding senior living options can be a confusing process. Loved ones aren’t aware of all their options and they don’t know where to start looking. A recent survey found that most families start their search by looking at nursing homes. However, people looking at nursing homes rarely move into them. Out of 100 people looking at nursing homes, 59% of them end up choosing an active senior living community.

Senior housing options have increasingly evolved over the last 20 years, which could explain a lot of the confusion. Nursing homes are not synonymous with assisted living, which most people believe. Nursing homes used to be the main type of place for long-term care. Today’s nursing homes are mainly set up for short-term stays after a stay in the hospital to recover or have physical therapy.

Physical, mental, and financial health are the factors that contribute to a senior’s long-term and short-term care options. These three things determine the level of care that is needed based on financial resources, and there are many different options of care.

Assisted Living Offers an Extended Quality of Life

A variety of care allows active seniors to thrive because many senior living communities provide physical, mental and emotional stimulation in addition to medication management and nutrition. The socialization aspect of community living helps keep seniors happy, active, and alert. With varying levels of care, families can choose the best option for their loved ones. The great part about this is that many communities offer options where seniors can go through different levels of care as they get older.

Researching Senior Living Options

If you are planning your retirement or looking for a place for your loved one, there are many resources available to help guide you. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for an active senior living community or skilled nursing care, a senior living adviser can help to educate you and provide financial and senior living resources to match the needs of your family.

There is no need to search for nursing homes when there are other options available that are more appropriate. Today’s senior living options offer more personalized care. Here at Stillwater Senior Living, our staff will design a personal care plan that is tailored to the needs of your loved one.

CONTACT US to find out more and take a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.