What Kind of a Lifestyle Can I Expect in Senior Living?

lifestyle of Senior LivingThere is a common misconception that moving into senior living means giving up all your freedom, when in fact the goal of senior living is the exact opposite. Senior living is designed to help people who struggle to perform the daily tasks necessary to take care of themselves continue to live their best life as they age. If you still find yourself wondering, “What, exactly, does that mean?” We are going to break down some of the aspects of senior living you can expect if you decide to move in.

Help with Daily Tasks

One of the most basic services senior living offers is help with daily tasks. Whether you need help doing laundry, washing dishes, or remembering to take your medication every day, the staff of senior living communities are there to help you with those tasks.

At the same time, we want our residents to maintain as much of their independence as possible, which means we help with the tasks you struggle with, but you continue performing the daily tasks that are still manageable for you. For example, if you need help preparing your meals, but have no problems washing dishes, we can help you cook, then leave you to enjoy your meal and clean up afterwards.

Transportation

Whether you need to run errands or just want to go visit friends and family, there is no reason that living in a senior living community should stop you from moving about as you please. Our residents at Stillwater Senior Living can drive themselves for as long as they are able to do so. For those who are no longer capable of driving, we provide transportation to get them anywhere they might need or want to go.

Social Activities

One of the biggest benefits of senior living communities is the chance to socialize with other people in your age group. Most senior living communities offer various classes and organized group activities that, not only keep you physically and mentally stimulated, but also make it easy for you to interact with your fellow senior living residents. Classes and group activities are a great way to break the ice and take the pressure off making new friends.

Exercise

Most senior living communities also offer opportunities for exercise, either on your own or as part of a group. Staying active only becomes more important as we get older, so residents of senior living communities are always encouraged to take advantage of their community’s gym and exercise classes as much as possible. We have classes every day!

Pets

Your pets are members of your family, so every pet owner wants to know if they can take their pets with them when they move into senior living. The answer varies from one community to the next, so if taking your pet with you is important, that is something you will need to investigate before deciding which senior living community is right for you.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we love animals and encourage our residents to bring their pets along when they join our community. As far as we are concerned, once you join our community, so does your pet.

If you have any other questions about what it is like to live here, do not hesitate to reach out. We are always happy to chat.

Helping Loved Ones with Dementia Through the Holidays

Loved Ones with Dementia Through the HolidaysThe holidays can be stressful at the best of times, and if you have a loved one who is struggling with dementia, it can make getting through the end of the year that much harder. At the same time, you still want to enjoy the time you have left with your loved one, especially if there is a likelihood that this will be the last holiday season you get to enjoy with them.

The good news is you can have your cake and eat it too when celebrating the holidays with someone suffering from dementia, you just need to be willing to compromise in some areas and have a strategy going in. Here are some of our tips for enjoying the holidays with a loved one with dementia.

Let Go of Perfection

There is often a temptation to try to make the holidays perfect, but the first thing you need to realize is that there is no such thing as a perfect holiday. That is true every year, no matter what you have going on in your family, but it is especially true if you have a loved one with dementia. They are going to say and do inappropriate things, or they will fail to respond the way you want them to, and you and your guests need to understand and be OK with that.

Be Proactive About Involving Your Loved One with Dementia

One of the hardest things about going through dementia is knowing something is off, but not knowing what it is or what to do about it. It is an extremely frightening and frustrating experience, and it often causes those struggling with dementia to withdraw, making them feel lonely in addition to scared and frustrated.

Since the whole point of the holidays is to spend time together, be proactive about including your loved one in your holiday activities this year. Include them in conversations by asking them questions and reminiscing with them. Ask them to help with simple tasks so they can feel like they are contributing.

Be Patient with Your Loved One (and Yourself)

Know that there will be struggles, but getting frustrated will only exacerbate your loved one’s feelings of fear and frustration. Rather than losing patience with them, take a deep breath. Your loved one will have a hard time communicating, but if you do your best to anticipate their needs and pay attention to their words and body language, you stand a good chance of making it through the holidays without a meltdown.

Whether you have a loved one struggling with dementia at home with you or in an assisted living community, it can help to talk to someone who has been there and done that. We know all the best strategies to help you get along with loved ones suffering from dementia at any time of year, and we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to get the conversation started so we can help you and your loved one have a successful holiday season!

3 Tips for Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted Living

Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted LivingMany people are not aware that, if they have a family member who lives in assisted living, they can take that loved one out of assisted living to visit with friends and family, or just enjoy being out and about for a day. While there is a misconception that moving into assisted living means giving up your freedom, the truth is just the opposite – our job is to help you with the day-to-day tasks you currently struggle with so you can continue living life to the fullest, including going shopping and eating out. This is especially common as the holidays approach and residents of assisted living leave to spend time with their families.

If you are getting ready to take your loved one out of assisted living for a day and you are wondering how you can be sure to make the most of your time together, we have some tips for you.

1)   Get Updated on Medication Schedules

If your loved one is taking any medication, make sure you are up to date on everything they are taking and when they need to take what so you can remind them. This includes making sure you have all their medications before you leave, and definitely plan to stay out longer than you think you will be out. For example, if you expect to be back in time for them to take their mid-afternoon medication, take that medication with you anyway in case you get delayed. Better to be overstocked than to run into an issue where you need a medication you do not have on hand.

2)   Limit Your Activities

Getting out and walking around is a great way to get some exercise in, and while we are all for everyone (especially our residents) getting their daily exercise, it is important to keep in mind that older Americans tend to have lower energy levels and are less able to spend time on their feet than they once were, so make sure you plan plenty of breaks in your day out. For example, instead of shopping all day, you can plan to visit a few stores before stopping at a café to grab a snack and sit down for a while. Then you can visit a few more stores before going to a movie so you can sit and eat popcorn for a couple hours.

If you are doing a lot of shopping (for example, if you decide to take your family member out for some holiday shopping), make sure you have a plan for handling lots of heavy bags. This might mean you have to make frequent trips to your car to drop off packages before moving on to the next shop.

If you have not spent a significant amount of time with your loved one for a while, talk to the nurses before you leave about their activity level so you have an idea of how much activity they can handle before they need a break. And of course, keep an eye on your family member throughout the day. Even if they say they feel fine, pay attention if they are lagging behind you or the rest of the group, or if their breathing becomes labored.

 

This time of year, dressing appropriately means bringing layers. It might be cold enough to warrant a sweater in the morning, warm enough to ditch the sweater in the afternoon, then cool enough to wear a jacket in the evening. Take a look at the weather prediction before you head out and make sure you and your loved one have all the right clothing to keep you comfortable all day long, no matter what the weather decides to do.

Every assisted living community has their own rules and procedures when it comes to planning days out for their residents, so be sure to check with the assisted living community where your family member lives before you start making plans.

If you want to know what our policies are, just reach out to get the conversation started.

4 Tips for Celebrating Fall in Assisted Living

Celebrating Fall in Assisted LivingFall is a great time of year, filled with so many opportunities. It is an ideal time to get outside and enjoy the changing colors of the foliage, especially as the weather cools off, which means we do not have to worry about heat stroke. It is also a great time to enjoy all the delicious foods of the traditional harvest time.

If you think the older Americans in your life have to miss out on all the great aspects of fall just because they are aging, you have it all wrong. Here are just a few ways you can enjoy the autumn season with loved ones of any age.

1) Go for a Hike

Getting outside and walking around is always a great idea, but autumn is an especially good time of year for it. It is cool enough that we do not have to worry about heatstroke, and warm enough that we do not have to worry about frostbite. Plus, it is arguably the most beautiful time of the year. Just walking around your neighborhood or through your local parks gives you a chance to admire the changing leaves, as well as some of the beautiful late-blooming flowers.

You can make these walks with friends and family members into a game by seeing who can spot the most colors or take the picture that most perfectly exemplifies autumn.

We are fortunate to have beautiful sidewalks and gorgeous scenery here at our community if your loved one cannot walk that far or is in a scooter. Come by for a visit!

2) Get in the Kitchen

The cooler weather also makes autumn a great time to get in the kitchen for some seasonal cooking and baking. Since apples and squash are plentiful this time of year, you can make some delicious meals just by roasting them with some ground pork. Or you can puree them with some hot water to make some soup (autumn is a great time for soups and stews!)

If you want to get fancy, you can bake all kinds of things with pumpkin or apples (or both!) Pies are the obvious choice, but they can go in anything from muffins and pancakes to bread and cookies. Use some pumpkin pie spice in your kitchen creations and it will make your whole house smell like heaven.

Check out our Facebook page so you can see what our Dining Director, Kathy, cooks up for our residents to take part in!

3) Dress Up

Who does not love dressing up like someone (or something) else for a day? It is one of the reasons Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the country, so pull out those old costumes and dust off those hats and masks to see what you can create. Again, stay tuned to our Facebook page so you can see what we are up to this Halloween!

4) Get Crafty

If you are looking for fall-related crafts to do with older Americans, you can have them make their own masks using colored paper, glue, and markers. Why limit yourself to what is in your closet or in stores when you can make a mask that is uniquely yours?

At Stillwater Senior Living, our mission is to help our residents enjoy every season to its fullest, whether that means enjoying the great outdoors, getting our craft on, spending time in the kitchen, or all of the above. If you have any questions about how we strive to keep our residents happy and healthy all year long, we are always happy to chat. Just reach out to get the conversation started.

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.

 

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.