Benefits of Playing Card Games with Older Americans

Benefits of Playing Card Games Card games have long been a way to bring all kinds of people together, and they are especially ideal for engaging older Americans. Most card games are easy to play and they do not require a lot of physicality, which allows people of all abilities to play. But card games are more than just something to keep older Americans occupied. They offer distinct benefits, so let us talk about why you should bring a deck of cards the next time you visit an older American.

Promotes Socialization

A lot of older Americans suffer from loneliness and depression as family members move away and friends start dying. They often feel disconnected from society, but a simple game of Gin or Go Fish is not just fun, it is also a great way to build (and maintain) personal relationships. You might not think you have anything to talk about, but get a game of cards going, and you might be surprised by what comes out.

Stress Reduction

Socialization and stress reduction tend to go hand in hand, but reducing stress is so important that it warrants mentioning on its own. Focusing on a game helps older Americans, not only have fun, but live in the moment, which helps them reduce stress. That, in turn, helps everything from lowering blood pressure to improving sleep and immune function.

Improved Memory and Cognition

A lot of older Americans have trouble with reduced cognitive abilities, including memory loss, but card games can help stimulate their brain, and some games are especially good at stimulating memory. So, if you want your older loved one to think a little more clearly (or you just want to prevent their mental faculties from deteriorating), schedule time for regular card games with them.

Enhanced Motor Skills

Although card games are not physically strenuous, they do involve physical dexterity to hold, play, and shuffle cards, which means playing card games can help maintain, and even improve your loved one’s physical dexterity in their hands and fingers. Certain games also require hand-eye coordination and reflexes, which means you should play them with your older loved ones to at least maintain, if not improve, their hand-eye coordination and reflexes, both of which can help prevent accidents in their day-to-day lives.

Improves Immune Function

Many older Americans tend to have reduced immune function, but because playing card games helps reduce stress, it also helps improve immune function, which means your older loved one will be less likely to get sick or injured. If they do get sick or injured, playing card games is not only a great pastime in recovery, but it can also help to speed up the recovery process.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we want to optimize every aspect of our residents’ stay with us, which is why our common areas are always fully stocked with games, including decks of playing cards. If you are interested in learning more about all the ways we work to help our residents live better longer, we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to start a conversation.

Tips for Staying Fit in Assisted Living

staying fit in assisted livingNow that summer is in full swing, exercise and staying fit is top of mind for many of us, and that should include the older Americans in your life. Although there is a perception that assisted living restricts your freedom, the truth is just the opposite. The goal of assisted living is to extend your freedom as much as possible for as long as possible, and one of the ways we do that is by encouraging and making it easy for our residents to exercise on a regular basis.

If you or a loved one is struggling to stay fit in assisted living this summer, we have some tips to help you out.

1)   Know Your Limits

As we age, our bodies change and sometimes we are no longer able to do some of the exercises we used to do on a regular basis, so the first thing you need to do to stay fit as you age is to recognize your limits and avoid pushing yourself, because that can result in injury. Once you know what you can and cannot do, you can come up with a workout routine that works for you.

2)   Explore Your Options

Most assisted living communities have designated places for residents to exercise, as well as exercise equipment. If you are not sure if something is available, ask a staff member what they provide to help their residents stay fit. You might be surprised by all the options available to you. For example, here at Stillwater Senior Living, we provide something different EVERY day of the week! We also encourage exploring our lovely hallways!

3)   Get a Workout Buddy

One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is the sense of community it provides, and a great way to take advantage of that community is to get a workout buddy. Whether you want someone to take a dance class with you, or just go for a walk with you, working out with someone else almost always makes it more fun and gives you an opportunity to bond with one of your fellow assisted living residents. All of our classes are well attended, so you are sure to find a buddy!

4) Get Outside

Appropriate summer weather to be outside is short here in the Midwest, so it is important to take advantage of the nice weather while we can. Exercising in nature has proven benefits for mental health, as well as physical health, so get outside and enjoy some fresh air and nature whenever you can.

At the same time, it is important to remember that we often have very hot days, especially in July and August, so exercising outside is usually not always feasible during those months. If you can, try to get your exercise done first thing in the morning before it gets too hot.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we make the health of our residents a top priority, and that includes providing plenty of opportunities for exercise, both inside and outside. If you want to learn more about the exercise opportunities we provide to our residents, we are always happy to chat.

6 Movies to Watch with Older Americans This Summer

Movies to Watch with Older AmericansSummer is a great time to stay inside and watch a movie, especially for older Americans who are both more susceptible to heat stroke and less likely to realize the heat is affecting them until it is too late. But choosing a movie to watch with someone of another generation can be easier said than done. How can you be sure to choose something you will both enjoy?

1) Downton Abbey

Whether you are watching one of the feature-length films, or having a marathon of the TV show, Downton Abbey is something almost everyone can enjoy. It offers the perfect escape with everything from gorgeous sets and costumes to biting dialogue to drama and intrigue.

2) Secondhand Lions

This movie provides the perfect example of how life does not have to be over once you reach a certain age. The two main characters had plenty of exciting adventures in their youth, giving the film a chance to cover everything from action and adventure to love and loss. But it also makes a point of demonstrating that, just because the characters have aged, does not mean they have finished living. We will not spoil the ending, in case you have yet to watch it, so just trust us when we say this is another fun film for the whole family.

3) Casablanca

You can never go wrong with the classics, so, when in doubt, know that you can always rely on Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

4) West Side Story

If you have musical lovers in your family, you can never go wrong with West Side Story. Whether you are watching the original or Stephen Spielberg’s reboot, this is a classic tale of star-crossed lovers and both films are gorgeous, in addition to having great music.

5) What About Bob?

You can almost always count on Bill Murray to make the whole family laugh, especially in this heartfelt comedy in which Murray plays a disturbed, but lovable patient of a therapist. The movie takes place over the therapist’s vacation with his family, which is constantly interrupted by Bob’s stalking.

6) The Sandlot

This is a quintessential coming-of-age story that takes place over one summer as a group of young boys bond over their love of baseball. It is perfect for fans of baseball, but loving baseball is by no means a requirement for loving this movie.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we make sure to schedule activities throughout the summer that provide opportunities for our residents to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors before it gets cold again, but we also schedule indoor activities for when it is too hot to go outside. If you want to know more about our activities and how we keep our residents active and engaged all year long, we are always happy to chat.

The Importance of Managing Weight in Older Americans, Plus Tips

Managing Weight in Older Americans,Maintaining a healthy weight is never easy, and the older we get, the more difficult it can get, but it is also more important to maintain a healthy weight as we age and our bodies have a harder time doing everything from standing up to fighting off infections. Whether you are unaware of the benefits of managing weight in older Americans, or you just need a refresher, below is a list of reasons why managing your weight in your golden years is so important.

Mobility

It is no secret that getting around gets harder as we age, and getting around can also be difficult for those who are overweight, which means older Americans who are overweight have an especially hard time staying mobile. For older Americans who want to retain as much of their independence and mobility as possible for as long as possible, maintaining a healthy weight is key.

Heart Attack and Stroke Risks

Along with reduced mobility, the risk of heart attacks and strokes goes up along with our weight, and it also tends to go up with our age. Again, this means older Americans who are overweight are doubly at risk for heart attacks and strokes, which makes maintaining a healthy weight of the utmost importance.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are also at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, and since we know diets high in sugar tend to lead to both an increase in weight and an increase in risk for Type II Diabetes, limiting sugar can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy weight and staying healthy.

Inflammation

High inflammation has been linked to being overweight and a variety of chronic illnesses, including diabetes and various forms of dementia. Maintaining a healthy weight does not guarantee low levels of inflammation, but it does reduce the likelihood of suffering from high inflammation and all the health risks that come along with it, including health risks to which older Americans are especially vulnerable, such as dementia.

Cost of Living

One of the primary concerns older Americans have is whether they will have enough money to retire, and the biggest expense people face in retirement is medical expenses. As we age and our bodies do not work like they used to, we tend to need a variety of medications, and often surgical procedures, to keep everything working. By maintaining a healthy weight, we can significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the need for a fair amount of medical expenses, especially the more costly expenses that require surgery and/or hospital stays.

Now that we know why maintaining a healthy weight in older Americans is so important, let us take a look at some measures older Americans can take to keep their weight down and their energy up.

Regular Exercise

Simply moving our bodies is one of the best ways to take care of it. Ideally, older Americans should be sure to get both cardio and strength training if possible, but if all they can do is go for a walk, then they should do so on a daily basis. Walking is excellent exercise that almost everyone can do. Whether you head outside for a long hike or just do a few laps around the room, make sure to get your 10,000 steps in every day.

Portion Control

Overeating is big problem in this country and it is one of the leading causes of obesity, which leads to a higher risk of contracting all the other health problems discussed above. One of the most impactful ways older Americans can maintain a healthy weight is through portion control.

Diet

Portion control on its own is not enough to maintain a healthy weight. You also need to make sure you are consuming nutritious foods, namely fruits and vegetables and plenty of protein, to make sure your body has access to all the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. It is also harder to overeat fruits and vegetables, which means eating nutritiously can also help you avoid overeating.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we pride ourselves on making nutritious foods available to all our residents, as well as plenty of opportunities for safe and healthy exercise. If you have any questions about our amenities, we are always happy to talk, so do not hesitate to reach out.

5 Benefits of Spending Time Outside with Older Americans This Summer

Spring is in the air and, depending on where you are located, it might already feel a lot like summer. For most Americans, summer means spending time outdoors, which not only feels good, it is also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have been hesitant to get outside this summer with your parent, we have a few reasons why you should stop worrying and go for a walk.

Vitamin D

Humans are one of the only animals that do not make our own vitamin D, which means we need to spend time in the sun to get our daily dose, and it does need to be daily. Our bodies have no way of storing extra vitamin D, which means we need to get outside every day to get vitamin D, even if it is just 15 minutes a day. And, yes, you can still absorb vitamin D while wearing sunscreen, although you might not absorb as much as you would without sunscreen.

Mental Health

Older Americans tend to be at an increased risk of depression and anxiety as the world around them changes and their friends and family members start dying or moving away, leaving them feeling disconnected from their community. Studies have linked increased time outside with improved mental health, including reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, especially if that time outside is spent in green spaces. This could mean going for a walk in the woods or just around town if you live in an area with a lot of grass and trees. If you live near a park, try to spend some time there every day just being in nature.

Promotes Exercise

Just being outside can improve the chances you will exercise, especially when the weather is nice. Whether you are going for a walk, a swim, or a bike ride, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors while getting some exercise, especially in summer.

Improved Immune System

Spending time outside has also been linked to improved immune health, and since older Americans tend to suffer from reduced immune function, they can use all the help they can get, so make sure they spend some time outside this summer.

Improves Recovery Time

If you or a loved one has recently been ill or had surgery, spending time outside can shorten your recovery time. Even if you cannot go for long walks, just being outside in the fresh air can give your body the boost it needs to fight off infection or heal itself, especially if you can spend time in green spaces when you are outside.

As an assisted living community devoted to promoting the health and well-being of our residents at all times, we make it easy for our residents to get outside for fresh air and exercise whenever possible and even join our garden club! If you have any questions about our amenities or our services, we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to start a conversation with us.

What If My Spouse Needs Assisted Living but I Do Not?

Navigating the different stages of aging can be hard enough, even if you have a spouse or partner to share the journey with you, but what if you reach a point where your aging journeys diverge? For example, what if one of you starts losing track of bills, or losing your balance easily but the other is still strong and healthy enough to care for themselves? If you have run into the situation where your spouse needs assisted living, but you do not, there are a few different ways you can choose to handle the situation.

Become a Caregiver

One option is for you to become a caregiver for your spouse, but that is not always the best choice. Becoming a caregiver is a full-time job and it requires a specific set of skills. If you are not able to provide your partner with the level of care they need, then it might be time to start looking for an assisted living community.

Aging Together, But Living Separately

Another option is for the spouse in need of assisted living to move into assisted living on their own while you remain at home. This option is not for everyone and should only be considered if the assisted living community is near enough to your home that you can visit your spouse often. Frequent visits can reduce separation anxiety, which eases the transition from their former home to their new home in assisted living.

Living Together in Assisted Living

Some assisted living communities (like Stillwater Senior Living) allow residents’ spouses to live with them even if the spouse does not need assisted living. The healthier spouse is not charged for assisted living services they are not using, and they get to continue living with the love of their life and taking care of them when they can. This is the ideal situation for most couples in different stages of the aging process because they get to stay together. Not only does that help keep both of them happy and healthy, but it also eases the transition to assisted living.

Different Levels of Care

While we have primarily focused on one spouse needing assisted living while the other does not need any assistance, it is important to remember that another common occurrence is both spouses needing different levels of assisted living. Maybe one just needs help performing certain chores, while the other keeps forgetting to take their medication or pay their bills.

Many assisted living communities (including Stillwater Senior Living) allow spouses to live together while receiving different levels of care. Each spouse is charged for the care they receive, so if your spouse needs more assistance on a daily basis than you do, you will not have to worry about your bill going up based on their needs.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we recognize that every resident has their own level of need and their own, unique aging process. And every couple is just as unique, which is why we work so hard to cater our services to your individual needs. If you have been wondering if assisted living is right for you, reach out now so we can talk about the benefits Stillwater Senior Living has to offer.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Assisted Living

Factors to Consider When Choosing Assisted LivingIf you have a loved one who needs assisted living, of course you only want the best for them, but how can you determine which is the best assisted living community for them? Depending on where you live, you might have several assisted living communities to choose from, so to help make your decision easier, we have some factors you should consider when choosing an assisted living community.

Location, Location, Location

If you live in a different state from the loved one who needs assisted living, you might want to look for an assisted living community near them, so they do not have to move far. On the other hand, you might be better off moving them to an assisted living community near you so you can visit regularly and keep up to date with their progress. Either way, you need to decide where your loved one will be better off before you start looking for an assisted living community for them.

Staff

The staff are the people who will be directly responsible for taking care of your loved one, so you’ll want to make sure they’re qualified for the job. Ask how long the staff have been in place. How many years of experience do they have as caregivers? You should also ask how long the management team has been in place and what their qualifications are for training caregivers.

Services

What services does the assisted living community offer? Do they have everything your loved one will need? It is common for older Americans to transition from living on their own to assisted living to something like memory care if they have some form of dementia, so think about memory care if it’s something you think your loved one will need.

When it comes to activities, it is also common for residents’ interest in certain activities to change as their ability to participate changes, so make sure the assisted living community you choose has a range of activities to support residents at all levels.

At Stillwater Senior Living, not only do we offer memory care for those who need it, but we also offer different levels of medical care depending on the needs of each resident, including 24 hour on-site nursing staff, a visiting nurse practitioner, an on-site pharmacy, lab, and x-ray. We also offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy services as needed. You can learn more about our full range of services and programs here.

If you are considering Stillwater Senior Living for your loved one’s assisted living needs, we would love to talk to you about everything we offer our residents. Reach out now so we can have a conversation.

 

How to Use Technology to Improve Your Relationship with the Older Americans in Your Life

Use Technology to Improve Your Relationship with the Older AmericansOne persistent stereotype of older Americans is that they hate technology because they do not know how to use it, but in fact that is not always the case. We have found that older Americans tend to like technology, especially when it allows them to connect with friends and family they do not get to see very often. Here are just a few of the ways you can use technology to improve your relationships with the older Americans in your life.

Stay in Touch When You Are Separated

Whether you do not live near your loved one or you cannot physically be with them due to illness or some other reason, technology is a great way to stay connected over long distances. Phone calls are great, but if you do not have time for a long conversation, a quick text is also a great way to stay in touch between meetings or when running errands.

FaceTime and video conferencing software are also great options for staying in touch with your loved one in a way that feels like you are sitting in front of them, no matter how far apart you are.

Social media is another great way to stay in touch with loved ones over long distances. You can see each other’s posts so each of you can know what is new with the other. When you just need to talk to each other, you can use the private messaging option.

Sharing Photos

Baby boomers and their parents have become the biggest users of Facebook because it allows them to see photos of their grandchildren, even when they live far away from them. Getting to see those photos and read about their adventures and antics as they grow up is a great way for grandparents to feel like they are a part of their grandchildren’s lives, even if they only get to see them once or twice a year.

Keep Up with Their Health

Because technology allows you to interact with older Americans more often, whether through texting, video calls, or social media, one of the key benefits of this is that it allows you to keep tabs on your loved one’s health. If you notice they look unusually pale or jaundiced when you are on a video call with them, you can mention it to them, or even call their doctor if you have POA. If they are hesitant to try a new medication or course of treatment, being able to interact with them in a variety of ways through technology gives you more opportunities to convince them to give the new treatment a try. You can send them links that lead to video testimonials or articles outlining the benefits of the medication/course of treatment, which gives you persuasive power you never would have had without the right technology to share those links.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we know how helpful technology can be, whether it be for taking care of our residents or helping them stay in touch with loved ones. If you have any questions about how we use technology in our community, do not hesitate to reach out.

Benefits of Cooking with Older Americans

Cooking with Older AmericansMost people like to gather around a table to enjoy a good meal with those they love, but not enough people gather in the kitchen to cook with those they love. Making food together can be just as special as eating together and that is especially true when cooking with older Americans. If you have yet to cook a meal or three with an older American in your life, we have a few reasons why you should consider changing that right away.

You Might Learn Something

Especially if you end up in the kitchen with someone who has been cooking for decades, you might be surprised how many things you can learn from them: the right way to hold a whisk, chop an onion without crying, or crack an egg with one hand. These are the skills acquired over many years in the kitchen, and if you have been wanting to learn any of these techniques, there is no one better than the family member who has spent the most time in the kitchen perfecting them.

Bonding

Bonding certainly happens when we eat together, but there is something particularly intimate about helping someone prepare a meal. It requires teamwork and communication that are absent when consuming the meal, and that teamwork can forge surprisingly strong bonds.

Family Recipes

If you are cooking with a family member, you can learn how to make that dish they always made on your birthday because they know it is your favorite. Or the recipe they brought out every Thanksgiving that is a staple of your family’s holiday meal. Learning these recipes is a right of passage in many families and it is a great way to keep traditions alive. Not only does it ensure you can still have your favorite meal after your loved one has gone, but making that recipe is a great way to keep their memory alive because you will think of them and the times you shared with them every time you make it.

Lifelong Memories

Because cooking together can create such a strong bond, it is also a great way to create memories you will treasure long after the other person has passed on. You will be inclined to think of them every time you make one of their recipes or use a special technique they taught you. Maybe you will also remember a joke they told you the first time they taught you that technique, or a rhyme they taught you to help you remember a certain recipe. All those memories will be sweeter than anything you could ever whip up in the kitchen.

Helping to create as many memories like these as possible is one of the driving factors behind why we have kitchen space available for residents who are still able to cook for themselves, either on their own or with others. If you have a loved one who might need some help with their housework or remembering to take their medication, but they still know their way around a kitchen, you might want to consider one of our assisted living suites for your loved one’s next home.

Do I Need Assisted Living or Memory Care?

assisted living or memory careThere are some distinct differences between assisted living and memory care, so if you or a loved one is no longer able to live on their own, it might be time to consider whether you need assisted living or memory care. But that can be easier said than done. If you are unsure how to determine whether you need assisted living or memory care, we can go through some questions to help clarify which type of care you or your loved one needs.

How Much and What Type of Assistance Do You Require?

If you just need help with certain chores around the house, some medication reminders, or assistance with getting dressed, then you may be appropriate for assisted living.

If you keep misplacing things, losing your concentration or maybe you are confused where you are, then you would benefit in a memory care environment.

Not only do memory care communities offer an extra level of care from staff, they also include other precautions built into the residents’ surroundings to help them stay safe. These precautions include door alarms/sensors to alert staff when a resident is wandering by an exit door and is re-directed to their room or common area.  Communities that specialize in dementia are designed to increase safety for residents, but they also enable them to live more independently, and focus on what they can do, will do, or what they might enjoy doing.

Which Activities Do You Need?

Both assisted living and memory care communities offer a variety of activities to keep their residents as engaged and active as possible for as long as possible. While assisted living offers activities that entertain residents and encourage them to stay active and interact with each other, memory care offers activities that are designed to stimulate residents’ minds and support their mental health, for a more person-centered care.

Patients with dementia are more likely to feel anxious when encountering new situations and stimuli, so memory care communities are more catered to each resident and their abilities to encourage purpose and enjoyment. Assisted living might introduce off-site experiences to their residents as a way of keeping them entertained and engaged in the community, as well as more social interactions and thought-provoking games on site.

At Stillwater Senior Living, our new memory care neighborhood is designed to keep residents safe while slowing the progression of their disease as much as possible. We do this through a combination of observation, recognizing what stage their dementia progression has reached, and giving them purpose, keeping them happy, healthy, and safe. In our assisted living community, where many residents feel that their independence has been taken away, we encourage them to be a part of the outside community with volunteer opportunities, but also, engage them in activities that they loved as a mature adult.