5 Benefits of Exercise for Older Americans

benefits of exerciseThe benefits of exercise in general are pretty well known, but exercise can be especially beneficial for older Americans as they age. If you are not familiar with the specific benefits exercise has to offer older Americans, here are some of the biggest reasons to stay active as long as possible.

1)   Boosts Immune Function

Most people know that we all tend to be more vulnerable to disease as we get older. While staying active cannot guarantee that you will never get sick, it has been proven to improve immune function and help your body fight off disease. Those who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick compared to their less active counterparts, and when they do get sick, the severity of their symptoms is usually much less than what their less active counterparts experience.

2)   Boosts Mood

When we feel better physically, we tend to feel better mentally. Not only does this improve our mood, but it also tends to be effective in combatting serious mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, both of which tend to affect older Americans at increasing rates.

3)   Boosts Balance

One of the things we worry about most with older Americans is that they will fall and suffer a serious injury. Regular exercise improves balance, making falls less likely.

4)   Builds Bone and Joint Strength

Strength training helps keep bones and joints strong. Not only does this allow older Americans to continue doing all kinds of things as they age (including lifting and carrying grandchildren), it also reduces the chances they will suffer a serious injury if they lose their balance and fall.

Joint pain is also a common complaint among older Americans and strength training is a great way to build and maintain strong joints and tendons, as well as reduce inflammation, so joint pain becomes a thing of the past.

You do not need heavy weights for strength training. Squats and pushups will do the trick, even if you have to do your pushups on your knees.

5)   Social Engagement

Working out alone is always an option, but most of us find we are more likely to exercise if we have a buddy. Not only can our workout buddy hold us accountable to our exercise goals, they can also make the process of working out more enjoyable. The only thing better than a walk in the woods or a bike ride along the water is a walk or bike ride with a friend to share the journey.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to providing our residents with plenty of opportunities for exercise, both inside and outside. Whether our residents want to exercise on their own or with a group of other residents, inside or outside, we can accommodate their needs. If you want to know more about our residents’ exercise options (or any other aspect of living here at Stillwater Senior Living) we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to schedule your free consultation.

5 Benefits of Art Therapy for Older Americans

Art Therapy for Older AmericansArt therapy offers a lot of great opportunities for self-expression and working through your emotions. Besides, who does not like playing with colors and a blank canvas? There are few things more relaxing, but art therapy offers some distinct benefits for older Americans, so we will go over some of them now.

1)   Stress Reduction

Playing with colors and a blank canvas is a very soothing activity. You do not need to be the next Picasso. You do not even need to know what your creation is going to end up being. You just need to move the paint brush (or pencil, or marker, or even crayon) back and forth using whatever colors speak to you. Even coloring books have proven to be effective at reducing stress and enhancing creativity.

When stress is reduced, general levels of happiness and well-being tend to go up. Sleep tends to improve, and that alone tends to improve mood, as well as immune function. We are not saying that art therapy is a cure-all for whatever ails you, but when used in conjunction with other types of therapy, you might be amazed at the results you can get.

2)   Enhanced Self-Expression

Art is a form of self-expression, and it can be especially beneficial to older Americans who are losing their ability to speak or follow a conversation due to stroke and/or dementia. If they get frustrated trying to find the right word, they might find drawing or painting a much easier way to express themselves, which also helps to reduce stress.

3)   Improved Cognitive Function

Using shapes and colors as a form of self-expression requires a unique set of neural pathways, which means art therapy is a great way to develop and strengthen new neural pathways. This can help improve overall cognitive function, including memory, so if you or a loved one has been considering art therapy, you have plenty of reasons to try it, especially if impaired cognitive function is a factor.

4)   Enhanced Motor Skills

Drawing and painting both require fine motor skills, which means art therapy is a great way to develop and strengthen those motor skills.

5)   Increased Social Interaction

Art therapy can help to promote social interaction in a variety of ways. The first is that art therapy is usually taught as a class, which gives participants the opportunity to compare their work and their experiences of the class.

Because art therapy also provides an avenue of self-expression, as well as improved cognitive function, participants are better able to communicate with their peers, which makes them more likely to engage in social interaction. Since loneliness is a major cause of depression among older Americans, something that can improve their social interaction should always be encouraged.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to providing our residents with the best possible care for their minds as well as their bodies. If you have any questions about any of the services we offer, we would love to chat with you. 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.

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.

Tips for Keeping Your Bones Strong All Your Life

Tips for Keeping Your Bones Strong

Osteoporosis is one of the biggest concerns for older Americans, especially women. Loss of bone density leaves bones brittle, which reduces strength and leads to an increased risk of fractures and broken bones. For example, the best case for a broken hip is surgery to repair it before you return to normal life. But when combined with another health risk, such as dementia or heart problems, older Americans who break their hip are significantly more likely to die within the year.

But aging is not all doom and gloom. You can reduce your chances of bone damage at all ages with these simple health tips:

Get Plenty of Calcium

We often think of milk when we think of getting calcium, and while milk and cheese are certainly high in calcium, it is important to remember that there are other sources of calcium, including bone broth, which can be used to make soups, sauces, and gravies, or just drunk on its own. Winter squash, such as butternut squash and spaghetti squash, are also high in calcium, as are edamame, almonds, canned sardines and salmon. And remember to eat your dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, because they are also high in calcium.

Get Plenty of Vitamin K

Calcium tends to get all the attention when it comes to bone health, but it is important to remember that, while calcium is the building block of bones, vitamin K is the carrier that takes calcium from your bloodstream to your bones. A diet high in calcium will not do you any good if you do not have enough vitamin K to carry it to your bones, so make sure you eat plenty of dark leafy greens: kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, etc.

Collagen

In addition to making sure our bones have the nutrients they need, we also need to make sure the muscles and connective tissue around our bones are strong so they can support our bones. Collagen is the main building block of connective tissue, and while bone broth is naturally high in collagen, you can also buy collagen by itself and add it to your diet. It comes as a white powder without much flavor so you can add it to your coffee, tea, or smoothie and get a nutritional boost without even noticing its presence in your beverage.

Strength Training

Strength training is not just for building and maintaining strong muscles – it is also vital for building and maintaining strong bones. If you have access to a set of weights, use them, but you do not necessarily need fancy gym equipment to build strong bones. Just some daily squats and pushups will be enough. The more you can do, the better.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we recognize the importance of diet and exercise in the health of our residents, which is why we have nutritionists on staff to make sure our residents have all the building blocks they need to build and maintain healthy bodies. We also have exercise equipment so they can keep their strength up (and even build up their strength) to reduce their risk of accidents or illnesses. If you have any questions about the care we provide our residents, just reach out now to have a conversation.