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.

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, but your memory and cognition are as stable as ever, than you need assisted living.

If you keep losing things, have trouble keeping your finances organized, and keep losing track of conversations, you need memory care.

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 to alert staff when a resident is leaving their room or wandering outside the perimeter of the building; motion-sensor lights so residents do not have to fumble to try to find the light switch or remember how a light switch works; one-touch sinks so residents do not have to fumble with handles to turn their water on and off. Not only are these amenities designed to increase safety for residents with dementia, they also enable them to live more independently.

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 example, music has been shown to have certain benefits for those with dementia, so memory care communities are more likely to have activities that include just listening to music, whereas assisted living communities might offer something more interactive, such as game night.

Patients with dementia are more likely to feel anxious when encountering new situations and stimuli, so memory care communities are more likely to keep those experiences to a minimum, while assisted living might introduce novel experiences to their residents as a way of keeping them entertained and engaged.

What Kind of Diet Do You Require?

While everyone needs to make sure they are getting healthy amounts of the right nutrients at every stage of life, patients suffering from dementia have unique nutritional needs. Both assisted living and memory care neighborhoods have dieticians on staff to make sure their residents are getting all their required nutrients, but memory care neighborhoods are staffed with dieticians who understand the specific nutritional needs of dementia patients.

At Stillwater Senior Living, our new memory care neighborhood is designed to keep patients safe while slowing the progression of their disease as much as possible. We do this through a combination of nutrition and physical therapy.

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.

What Should Seniors Be Drinking to Stay Healthy?

dehydration in seniorsStaying hydrated is critical for staying healthy, especially for seniors. Dehydration can lead to a variety of other health problems, including headache, dizziness and lightheadedness, fatigue, and confusion. It can be hard enough for most of us to remember to drink our eight glasses of water every day, and it can be especially challenging for seniors who often do not feel thirsty until they are already suffering from dehydration.

To prevent that from happening, here are a few beverage ideas you can give seniors to keep them hydrated.

Water

Water is always the best option, and sometimes the best way to prevent dehydration is simply to have water readily available at all times. If you notice your loved one has not had anything to drink for a while, offer to get them a glass of water, or remind them they already have water if there is a full glass sitting in front of them. Sometimes that is all it takes to remind them they are thirsty and to prompt them to take a drink.

If your loved one finds still water by itself to be too bland, sparkling water is a great option for making water seem like a treat. Add a squirt of lemon juice and it can be so refreshing your loved one will sip it all day long.

Orange Juice

In addition to being a healthy fluid your loved one can get into their body, orange juice is also a great source of vitamin C, which can help boost their immune system so they can stay healthy all year long. Just remember to buy orange juice that has not had any sugar added to prevent a spike in blood sugar.

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is another tasty option your loved one can drink all day long. Like orange juice, grapefruit juice is packed with vitamin C, but also like orange juice, it can be high in sugar, so whenever possible, you should buy grapefruit juice that has no added sugar.

Unsweetened Green Tea

Many older Americans got into the habit of drinking coffee or black tea all day long, but caffeine is a diuretic that can leave you more dehydrated than hydrated. Instead of coffee or black tea, try to get your loved one to drink green tea. It is low in caffeine and full of antioxidants so it can boost their immune system while keeping them hydrated. As with juices, buy unsweetened green tea whenever you can to avoid excess sugar.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we keep nutritionists on staff to make sure our residents get all the nutrients they need to keep their bodies as strong as possible for as long as possible, and that includes making sure they stay hydrated. Whether that means they have ready access to water at all times or offering healthy alternatives to water that will keep them hydrated and nourished, we cater to each resident’s individual preferences and nutritional needs. If you have any questions about the care we provide, feel free to reach out to have a conversation.

Tips for Starting the New Year Off Right in Assisted Living

starting the new year off rightJanuary provides a fresh start for us to get a whole new year right. It is an incredible time of opportunity, but good years rarely happen by accident. We need to set our intentions for the year and make a plan to ensure 2022 will be the best year ever!

If you are kicking off the new year in assisted living, we have a few ideas for how you can make this year extra special.

Celebrate

Just like we celebrate our birthday each year to mark the fact that we made it through another year, celebrating New Year’s Day is just as important. You don’t have to stay up until midnight if you are not a night owl, but enjoying a glass of champagne (or sparkling cider) and/or your favorite snack is a great way to celebrate the fact that you made it through another year and you’re ready to take on 2022.

Reflect

One of the great things about New Year’s Day is it gives us time to reflect on the past year. What are we proud to have accomplished in the past year? What do we wish we could have done better? What were some of our favorite moments?

Make New Year’s Resolutions

Once you have reflected on the past year, it is time to look to the year ahead, and New Year’s Day is great because it is a time of transition that allows us to both look back on one year while looking ahead to the next year. Take some time to think about what you want the next year to look like, and then what you can do to make that happen.

Take Another Look at Your Bucket List

While we tend to hear a lot of people talking about new year’s resolutions in January, it is important to remember that it is also a great time to dust off that bucket list. Did you check anything off your list in the past year? Do you have anything else you still want to do? Have you thought of new things you want to add to the list? No one says our bucket list has to be written in stone, so if you have decided against some of the things on your bucket list or you want to add to it, remember that it is your list to do with as you please. If there are things on there you still have not checked off, add them to your new year’s resolutions for 2022.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

Last, but never least, making time to celebrate with loved ones is always a crucial ingredient to making any holiday special. Whether It is New Year’s Day or just making time to be present with them throughout the year (or both) January is a great time to incorporate the ones you love most into all your celebrations for the year.

Whether you are currently in assisted living, or considering making the transition, we can answer all your questions for you. Just reach out now to talk to a professional about how assisted living can improve your quality of life.

How Assisted Living Can Help You Age Gracefully

Assisted Living Can Help You Age GracefullyOne of the biggest misconceptions about assisted living is that it means losing your dignity, but it is just the opposite. Assisted living is designed to help residents live as freely as possible for as long as possible while maintaining their dignity. If you are on the fence about assisted living, just consider these facts about how assisted living helps its residents age more gracefully.

Keeping You Active

Exercise is one of the most important ingredients to maintaining good health, especially as we age, yet many of us still find it difficult to make the time to exercise or to find the right equipment (or go someplace that has the right equipment).

Assisted living makes maintaining an active lifestyle easy by providing all the equipment for you, plus scheduled classes and activities. We can even modify activities so everyone can participate regardless of their physical abilities or skill level.

Providing group activities also makes residents much more likely to participate. Joining in a class that all your friends are taking is much easier than getting up and exercising by yourself.

Keeping You Social

One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is the social aspect. As older Americans age and watch their friends and family either die or move out of town and on with other aspects of their lives, loneliness and depression are major risk factors. By contrast, assisted living residents are constantly surrounded by people their own age with social activities planned for them. If you are someone who likes to be around other people, but does not like to plan events or send out invitations, you do not have to worry about any of that in assisted living. We take care of all the planning so all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself.

Keeping You Free

The misconception that assisted living restricts your freedom could not be further from the truth. On the contrary, we help ensure our residents’ freedom by providing cars for those who can drive, and for those who cannot drive we can provide a driver to take you anywhere you want to go. You can still run your own errands and meet friends and family for coffee or lunch any time you want. We will not stop you – we will help you.

Keeping You Healthy

Eating right is also crucial to staying healthy, but it can be much easier said than done when there are so many tempting goodies and so much conflicting information about what is and is not healthy. Assisted living communities have nutritionists on staff who have been educated on all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay strong – and which foods contain those nutrients. They can help you avoid confusion and keep on track to eat healthy when you are tempted by junk food.

If you have been thinking about assisted living, but you are wary because of all the misinformation about assisted living out there, why not talk to an assisted living professional? Reach out now and we can clear up any misconceptions you might have and explain how moving into assisted living could end up being the best thing you have ever done.

5 Ways to Ring in the New Year in Assisted Living

ring in the new yearCelebrating the end of one year and welcoming the beginning of another has a lot of meaning. It has to do with taking stock of what we did over the past year and what we hope for in the year to come. We all have much to look forward to as we start a new year, so let us take a look at some of the best ways to ring in the new year in assisted living.

Get Crafty

Crafts are always a big hit at assisted living communities, so rather than buying headbands for the new year, why not make your own? The best part is that it allows everyone to personalize their own headband with their own shapes and colors. You can even choose to apply glitter or make fun patterns out of different materials and/or paper of different colors.

Write Wishes for the New Year

The past couple of years have been tough of everyone, but rather than focusing on what went wrong, how about we focus on the things we want to go right in the year to come? It is a great way to maintain a positive mindset, which is important at all stages of life.

Play Games

Games are always a great way to bring people together, especially since there are games you can play to include people of all ages. If you want something for the adults and older kids, why not a challenging game of Scrabble? If you have younger kids, you might want to stick with something like Chutes and Ladders or Pretty, Pretty Princess, which has the added bonus of getting you all dressed up just in time to ring in the new year!

Eat Breakfast for Dinner

One of the best things about the holidays is that it gives you a chance to switch up your routine. Eating breakfast for dinner can be a fun way to do that, especially since celebrating the new year often involves staying up late. Sometimes some sugary breakfast food can provide that extra boost of energy needed to make it all the way to midnight, especially if it comes with a cup of coffee or tea.

Travel the World … at Home

Themed parties are always a hit, so if you want your New Year’s celebration to be extra special this year, you can “travel” to France by making crepes, coq au vin, and café au lait. You can also buy croissants from a local bakery and snack on them all day long.

If you would rather “travel” to Italy, be sure to include some espresso, artisan pasta, maybe even a good chianti.

You can make the adventure extra fun by putting up photos of your desired locale all over your walls to help everyone feel like they are really there.

We are always excited to ring in the new year with our residents, so if you need any more ideas on how to celebrate with the older Americans in your life, just reach out and ask. We have more than a few ideas, and we are always happy to help.

Homemade Christmas Gifts for Grandparents

christmas gifts for grandparentsHomemade gifts are always so much more meaningful than generic, store-bought gifts, and with the supply chain issues we are experiencing this year, you might be better off making something yourself than waiting for an online order to arrive from overseas.

With that in mind, we came up with a few ideas for homemade Christmas gifts your grandparents will love this holiday season.

DIY Photo Ornaments

Christmas tree ornaments always make for great gifts, so why not add a personal touch with a photo? All you have to do is print your family photo to the right size, place it in a clear glass ornament, press on the top and decorate it with a ribbon, and you are done!

Art Display and Pictures

Parents and grandparents have gotten many homemade art projects over the years, but one way to make them extra special is to take a photo of your child making a piece of artwork for Grandma and Grandpa. Then you can buy a photo frame with space for two photos, put the homemade artwork in one space, and in the other put a photo of your child making the artwork. It is a great way to make grandparents feel connected to the younger generation, even if visiting in person is limited, or just not possible this year.

DIY Photo Coasters

Similar to the photo ornaments, you can customize your coasters with personal photos, so Grandma and Grandpa get to see your smiling faces every time they lift their cup.

Send a Hug

This is another one that is perfect if you cannot visit in person this year, but it is also great to bring along in person so they can have your hug all year long. All you need is a sheet of paper 2-3 feet long (depending on your child’s armlength) and a pen or pencil. Lay the paper on the floor (preferably without carpeting) and have your child lay on top of the paper with their arms spread wide. All you have to do is trace along their head, arms, and hands, then cut it out for a hug the grandparents can enjoy any time they need one.

Paper Bouquet

Who does not love getting flowers? The only thing that could make them better is if you could give the gift of flowers that never die.

Hello, paper bouquet! All you need is some multi-colored paper and some glue, and you can make your very own paper bouquet. It will smell all the sweeter because Grandma and Grandpa will be able to smell the love with which it was made.

Photo Magnets

Instead of pinning photos up to the fridge with magnets, why not put the photo on the magnet? You can even add charms to the magnet for an extra-personal touch.

There are countless ways to show your love this holiday season, regardless of whether you are visiting in person online. If you are still stumped, we would love to help you come up with ideas to make this year extra special with your grandparents. Just reach out to start a conversation.

Practicing Gratitude in Assisted Living

Practicing Gratitude in Assisted LivingThere’s no denying that the past two years have been especially trying for us all, which can make it difficult to practice gratitude, either for Thanksgiving, or as a regular practice throughout the year. Nevertheless, we all have things for which we can be grateful, and it’s important to remember those things, because practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress and depression while improving sleep and immune function. If you’re struggling to come up with ways to practice gratitude this year, especially with the older Americans in your life, we have a few ideas to help you turn that around and start experiencing the benefits of practicing gratitude.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

The benefits of gratitude journals have long been recognized by professionals and laypeople alike. Taking just a few minutes every day to remember all the things you’re grateful for can switch your brain from a negative thought pattern to a positive thought pattern almost instantaneously. As a bonus, writing things down helps you remember them better, so you can hold onto the good feelings promoted by your gratitude.

If you and your loved one in assisted living are both new to gratitude journals, you can suggest starting your gratitude journals together. You can check in with each other at the end of each day or week to make sure you’ve both been writing in your journals and to share with each other some of the things you wrote down in your gratitude journal since the last time you spoke.

Write Thank-You Notes or Make Phone Calls

While writing down the things we’re grateful for in a journal for our own use is a great first start, too often we forget to tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us. So if you find yourself writing in your journal how grateful you are to have someone in your life or something they did for you, take some time to call them and let them know. Alternatively, you can send them a thank-you note so they have something to hang on their fridge that reminds them of you.

Enjoy Your Favorite Thanksgiving-Themed Movies

Movies are often treasured because they have the power to awaken certain emotions within us. What those emotions will be will depend on the movie and the life experience we bring when watching the movie, but many Thanksgiving-themed movies have the power to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so if that’s what you’re going for this year, here’s what we think you should watch:

-A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Get in touch with your inner child this year with Charlie Brown and Snoopy as they get their table ready for a Thanksgiving feast to serve their friends. Regardless of your age, it’s hard to argue with the heart-warming effects of a Charlie Brown movie.

-Home for the Holidays: Need a laugh? This classic movie about a family of misfits coming together for Thanksgiving is sure to give you all the good belly laughs you need this holiday season.

-Addams Family Values: If you and your loved one like the Addams Family, you’ll love this comedic take on a golddigger tearing a family apart, starring some of the best comedic actors of the 1990s.

-Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: This comedy of errors starring Steve Martin and John Candy is another crowd pleaser with just the right mixture of laughs and heartfelt moments.

If you need some more ideas to help you give thanks with your loved one in assisted living this year, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have lots of ideas, and we’d love to share them all with you.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we always look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. Want to know what we are doing to celebrate the holidays this year? Just reach out and ask us. We would love to tell you how you can be a part of the celebration this year.