A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is always scary, but it can be even more intimidating if you don’t know what the diagnosis really means. You might have heard of Parkinson’s causing tremors and mobility issues, but if that’s all you know about it, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While we can’t tell you everything about the disease in a blog post, we can give you an idea of some of the things you can expect from a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
- Early Warning Signs
While tremors and mobility issues are probably the most well-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, they’re not the only indications that something might be wrong. Before the disease reaches that stage, many patients experience loss of smell, constipation, vivid dreaming, and their handwriting might become very small.
- Brain Cell Death
Cells in the substantia nigra section of the brain are responsible for producing dopamine, which helps the brain control movement of the body. When these brain cells start to die, Parkinson’s disease develops, and it is the reduced levels of dopamine in the brain that lead to the tremors and loss of motor control that tend to characterize Parkinson’s disease.
- Unknown Causes
No one knows what causes Parkinson’s disease. Based on what we know so far, the best guess scientists can make is that it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetic predisposition, but so far the exact causes of Parkinson’s disease remain a medical mystery that has yet to be solved.
- How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed?
Because Parkinson’s develops when certain brain cells start to die, it’s difficult to diagnose when the patient is still living. In order to diagnose a patient with Parkinson’s disease, a doctor would need to conduct a physical exam, as well as a variety of tests to determine whether two of the four main symptoms are present: tremors/shaking, slow movements, rigid limbs and/or torso, and difficulty balancing.
- When Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?
The average age of patients who experience the onset of Parkinson’s disease is 62. If the patient is less than 50 years old at the time of their Parkinson’s diagnosis, it’s known as young-onset or early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
As with Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, although the progression of the disease can be slowed down with the help of drugs that can mimic, or even replace dopamine. Exercise is also a critical factor for managing the disease and mitigating the effects of the loss of mobility and balance caused by the disease. In some cases, deep brain stimulation surgery has also proven effective in combatting the disease.
Whether you or your loved one is suffering from reduced mobility, cognitive decline, or both, we can come up with a plan to help them here at Stillwater Senior Living. Everything from our Senior Messages to our new Lakeside Memory Care Neighborhood is designed to help our residents age in comfort and with dignity.
There are a lot of misconceptions about assisted living, and while many of those misconceptions tend to focus on the perceived drawbacks of assisted living, the benefits of assisted living also tend to get overlooked. Specifically, people don’t always talk about who can benefit from assisted living, which is too bad because the answer is much more specific than just “old people.”
We’re going to clear up some of those misconceptions in this article, not only by going over the benefits assisted living provides, but by explaining who benefits from assisted living.
People with Arthritis Can Benefit from Assisted Living
Arthritis is much more than a mild annoyance that comes with getting older. Not only can it become extremely painful, but it can be debilitating, preventing range of movement, which inhibits those affected from being able to perform all sorts of daily tasks.
Assisted living helps those with arthritis by taking care of those daily tasks for them so they can still have food, clean clothes, and clean living quarters, no matter how their range of motion is affected by their arthritis.
People Who Are Isolated Can Benefit from Assisted Living
One of the most important benefits of assisted living that gets overlooked is the social aspect. As we age, our friends and peers die off and our children move out and build lives of their own. As many as 35% of adults aged 45 and older report feeling lonely, and their risk of loneliness and social isolation only increases as they age. Those feelings of being cut off from society and loved ones lead to an increased risk of depression and associated mental disorders, as well as chronic illness.
By contrast, not only are people in assisted living checked up on by staff and nurses, they are also surrounded by their peers, many of whom have been through and are going through similar life events. Assisted living communities also tend to organize social events for their residents to encourage them to get out of their rooms and mingle with other residents, thereby fostering their personal relationships and mental wellbeing.
Family Can Benefit from Assisted Living
While there are certainly many benefits to being a caregiver, especially to a loved one, there’s no denying that it can also be stressful and overwhelming. For those already juggling kids and a career, taking on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one isn’t always an option, and that’s where assisted living can help.
We can make sure a staff of professionals are caring for your loved one around the clock so you can continue to show up in all the other aspects of your life. By letting us take the burden of caregiving off your shoulders, you’ll also be better able to enjoy the time you spend visiting your loved one because it can be spent on quality time, rather than trying to make sure you’re providing the care they need.
If you’ve been considering assisted living, but you’re not sure if it’s right for you or your loved one, reach out now so we can start a conversation about the benefits we provide to our residents and their families at Stillwater Senior Living.
As if all the complications of aging weren’t confusing enough on their own, now there’s another thing to deal with: elder law. What is it? How can you tell if you need it?
Rather than making things more confusing, the goal of elder law is actually to simplify the process by guiding people through many of the most complicated aspects of aging. Elder law is not a specific brand of the law by itself. Instead, it covers a broad range of topics generally faced by older Americans, including healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid, estate planning, probate, power of attorney, etc. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important aspects of the law covered by elder law and how you can use it to your advantage as you and your loved ones age.
Elder Law Can Help You Navigate Healthcare
The American healthcare system is confusing even when you’re in your prime and require little or no medical attention. As we age, not only do we need more care, but the process of getting that care gets increasingly complicated. Instead of just dealing with one health insurance provider, you might have to navigate Medicare and/or Medicaid, as well as any health insurance company providing supplemental insurance.
Then there’s long-term care insurance, which can help pay for things like in-home healthcare or assisted living.
The simplest way to cover these costs is simply to pay out of pocket, but that option is too pricey for many people, in which case a qualified elder law attorney can help them navigate all the steps required to get the coverage they need.
Elder Law Can Help You with Your Estate Planning
Our estate planning needs also tend to change as we age. While a qualified financial planner can help protect your assets from taxes so your dependents and beneficiaries aren’t left with a tax burden when you’re gone, as we get older, we’re more likely to need long-term care and/or assisted living, and that’s where elder law comes in. Elder law takes a more holistic approach to your finances by helping you set aside funds and assets for your loved ones while making sure your healthcare needs are not neglected.
Too many people make the mistake of assuming they’ll never need long-term care or assisted living, and they fail to account for it in their financial planning. Elder law can help prevent you from making that mistake to ensure both you and your loved ones are covered.
Elder Law Can Help You Navigate Power of Attorney
Your power of attorney is the person capable of making financial and medical decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making them yourself, but there are different kinds of power of attorney. In addition to helping you make sure only someone you trust is granted your power of attorney, elder law can also help you protect your ability to make decisions for yourself as much as possible. For example, a “springing” power of attorney means the rights of your durable power of attorney don’t lock down until certain requirements have been met, such as a specific medical diagnosis.
If you have questions about elder law and/or assisted living, we’re happy to help. Reach out now to start a conversation.
What started out as a fringe practice used by a few to maintain a sense of calm has become widely adopted, with scientific evidence to support the idea that it provides many more benefits than just helping you calm down when you’re stressed. While meditating regularly provides benefits to people of all ages, it can be particularly beneficial to seniors. So, whether you’re an older American and/or you have loved ones who are older Americans, consider these benefits when thinking about adding meditation to your daily routine … or convincing them to add meditation to their routine.
Delays the Onset of Dementia
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, or any other form of dementia, but studies show that, by meditating regularly, we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because meditation is a way of clearing the mind of distracting thoughts, it’s also a way to increase focus, which requires an increase in brain activity. By “exercising” the brain with meditation, we can delay some of the brain cell death that results from of a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s similar to the way other mentally stimulating activities, such as gardening and crossword puzzles, also help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Helps Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common symptom of aging, and a dangerous precursor to things like stroke and heart attack. By actively meditating for a few minutes every day, seniors can keep their blood pressure under control. It’s not a replacement for blood pressure medication, but it’s a great addition to any routine prescribed by a doctor to get and keep your blood pressure down to a healthy level. As with Alzheimer’s/dementia, meditation might not cure you of your high blood pressure, but with regular practice, it might be able to delay the need for medication for a while.
Reduces Your Risk of Contracting a Stress-Related Illness
Many of the most common chronic illnesses are at least partially due to stress. We mentioned high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension), but other illnesses, such as high cholesterol and diabetes also seem to have roots in stress, at least to an extent. Meditation can’t necessarily cure you, but when practiced regularly, it can delay the onset of stress-related illnesses, and help mitigate the effects of a stress-related illness after you’ve already started showing symptoms.
Increases Energy and Boosts Your Immune System
By helping you stay calm, meditation can help keep your cortisol levels low. Cortisol is the hormone produced and released by your body when you’re under stress. It’s also known as the “fight-or-flight” hormone, but with many of us feeling stressed in ways that involve neither fighting nor fleeing, we end up in a near-constant state of stress, which means our body is pumping out cortisol continuously. Since cortisol inhibits the immune system’s ability to respond to threats to the body, those of us who constantly feel stressed are significantly more likely to get sick than those who meditate on a regular basis.
Meditating is just one brain exercise that provides health benefits to seniors, and as experts in assisted living, we don’t stop at meditating. Our new memory care wing has a host of mental activities to help mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you want to know what else we do to keep our residents safe and healthy, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day in assisted living can be challenging at the best of times, and let’s face it, these are not the best of times. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate love and the people who matter most to us. This year we have some ideas as to how you can celebrate love with those closest to your heart, even if they’re in assisted living and you have to physically keep your distance.
- Send Them Gifts
You might not be able to give them gifts in person, but you can still send them a care package. Whether it’s the traditional box of chocolates, something new they’ve had their eye on, or a box of their favorite homemade cookies, sending them a gift is the perfect way to let them know you’re thinking of them and they’re still as special to you as ever.
- Call Them
Just because you can’t visit them in person doesn’t mean you can’t give them a chance to hear your voice, and that can mean more than you might realize. Sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call really is all it takes to lift someone’s spirits and make them feel connected to you (and for you to feel connected to them). You don’t have to talk about anything big, so don’t feel like you should only call when you have major news to share. It’s often sharing the small events of day-to-day life that really bring people together, so don’t hesitate to call them just because you’re thinking of them.
If your loved one can manage a Zoom call or FaceTime, even better. It can’t match meeting up in person, but it’s as close as we can get these days, so use video chat to connect with your loved one whenever possible.
- Send Photos
Sending photos of you and your family is also a great way to help your loved ones in assisted living feel connected to you and the rest of the family, especially if you have kids. Grandparents always love seeing photos of their grandkids, especially given how fast they grow. Video conferences are great, but sending a physical photo gives them something they can hold onto and keep, and if you do it regularly, they’ll get to see their grandchildren’s progress as they look over their photo collection.
- Send Gift Cards
You might not be able to take your loved one out to lunch or dinner for Valentine’s Day this year, but you can send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant, especially if it’s a restaurant that’s doing deliveries. That way your loved one can order their favorite meal as a special treat and know you were thinking of them.
If you want more ideas for expressing love and gratitude to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to reach out to get some recommendations directly from the experts. You can also ask us what we’re doing here at Stillwater Senior Living to celebrate love with our residents.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited our new Memory Care Neighborhood is now open.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.
Most people are familiar with the idea of nursing homes and assisted living, but what about memory care? Some (but not all) assisted living communities offer memory care, and some (but not all) nursing homes offer memory care. So, what’s the difference? How do you know when to look for memory care, and what should you look for when researching your options for memory care?
Specially Trained Staff
Any time you’re looking for assisted living, one of the first things you need to look at is the training of the staff who will be taking care of your loved one. This is true regardless of whether you need memory care, but it’s especially important if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia because extra precautions will need to be taken to keep them safe, calm, and happy.
Memory care also requires ongoing training, so it’s not enough for staff to have gone through memory care training once a few years ago. When researching your options for memory care, make sure they have a system for continuously training their staff, not only to remind them of best practices, but to help them keep up to date with new developments in the world of memory care.
You should also make sure that the relevant training extends beyond just the nurses – every member of the staff who interacts with residents, including janitorial and maintenance staff, need to be trained on how to interact with memory care residents to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort.
A lower staff-to-resident ratio is always desirable because it means more attention can be paid to your loved one’s needs, but it’s especially important to keep that ratio low in memory care because residents with dementia require a higher level of attention and care than other assisted living residents. So, while you’re asking about the staff training provided, you should also ask about the staff-to-resident ratio and make sure it’s at a level with which you’re comfortable.
24-Hour Supervised Care
While assisted living usually requires a fairly low level of care – making sure residents remember to take medication, helping with certain daily tasks, etc. – memory care requires a much higher level of care and supervision. Not only do residents with dementia require a higher level of attention and supervision to make sure they don’t wander off, but they also require more care as the disease progresses and they start to lose some of their physical capabilities, as well as their mental capacity.
Cognitive Treatments and Therapies
While there is no cure for dementia, certain cognitive treatments and therapies have been shown to slow the progression of the disease, so make sure the memory care provider is up to date with all the relevant cognitive treatments and therapies, and that they provide them to their residents.
Stillwater Senior Living is proud to announce the opening of its brand new memory care wing! If you’re looking for memory care for your loved one, reach out now to ask about availability.
Summer is officially here, but as our older loved ones age, they lose the ability to do a lot of the things that mark a traditional summer vacation, such as camping, hiking, swimming at the beach, and volleyball tournaments. Now this pandemic has even taken away our barbeque parties and large family gatherings. What’s a senior to do?
Just because we’re stuck inside and a few of our loved ones may have started to lose some of their physical and/or mental capabilities doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun this summer. We have a few ideas you can use to celebrate summer with your loved ones in assisted living.
- Geography Competition
Can you name all 50 states without looking them up? Can you accurately locate all 50 states on a blank map? Do you know where Mount Rushmore is located? Compare your knowledge to that of your friends and family and you might be surprised to find out how much you don’t know about your own country.
- Got Kids? Send Pix!
Few things engage seniors like pictures of the grandkids, so send them pictures early and often, especially if your kids are at an age where they’re growing quickly. Keep the grandparents up to date with recent photos, as well as letters detailing the kids’ development and what they’ve been up to these days.
- Send Hand-Written Letters
Phone calls are great, but there’s something about a hand-written letter that just makes someone feel extra special. You can write about whatever you would normally tell them over the phone: give them updates on what you’ve been doing; tell them funny stories; reminisce over old times, etc. The fact that they can keep a letter and read it over and over whenever they feel bored or lonely makes it priceless.
Even while social distancing, we can still bond over the age-old custom of crafting. You can buy a paint-by-numbers kit (or freestyle a painting, if your talents lie that way) and send it to your loved one to hang in their apartment. You can make them jewelry that they can wear to feel special and remember you, even when you can’t be in the room with them.
They can also make their own crafts and send them to you. Swapping crafts might not be the same as making crafts together, but it’s still a great way for each of us to remind the other that we’re thinking of them.
Depending on what stage of reopening your state is in, you may or may not be able to go in and physically visit your loved one in assisted living, but you can always make decorations they can hang in their apartment or outside their window. You can make your handmade decorations around a theme, such as your loved one’s favorite movies, songs, or summer activities to make it extra fun!
If you’re looking for more ideas on how you can celebrate summer with your loved ones in assisted living, we have plenty of ideas. Reach out now to start a conversation.
If you’re the sole caregiver of a parent or loved one, you’re at risk of burning out. Depending on the level of care your loved one needs and your other responsibilities, it can be difficult to find time to take care of yourself, but trust us when we say that doing so is absolutely necessary for your wellbeing, as well as that of your loved one.
If you’re constantly running around, attending to the needs of your loved one, you might not even notice if you’re burned out, so take a minute and see if any of these sound familiar:
- You’re Always Tired
It’s one thing to feel tired at the end of a long day, or if you didn’t sleep well the night before, but if you find yourself feeling tired all day, every day, no matter how much sleep you got the night before, you could be suffering from caregiver burnout.
Sleeping more than normal is also a symptom of caregiver burnout, so if you’re sleeping more than usual and still feeling tired all the time, it’s time for a break.
At the same time, sleeping too little could also be a sign of caregiver burnout. If you’re always tired, but unable to sleep, it could be a sign of stress and an indication that you need some time off.
- You’re Easily Irritated or Angry
If you find yourself snapping at your loved one and/or anyone else around you over the smallest inconveniences, it could be a sign that you’re burned out. Becoming consumed with anger when someone cuts you off in traffic or makes a simple mistake is also an indication that it’s time for a break.
At the extreme end, this can lead to thoughts of harming your loved one and/or yourself, in which case it’s definitely time to take some time for yourself and maybe find a professional you can talk to about your feelings.
- Your Clothes No Longer Fit
Gaining or losing weight in significant amounts can be an indication that you’re stressed out and overworked. This may or may not go along with changes in eating patterns. Loss of appetite is commonly associated with both stress and depression, both of which are markers of burnout. On the other hand, if you find yourself stress eating, that’s also an indication that things are not going well and you need to take some time off.
- Your Health is Declining
If you find yourself getting sick more often, developing headaches and/or other aches, pains, and/or indigestion, then it’s time to take a break before you become the one who needs a caregiver. New or worsening health problems are an indication that your body is unable to carry the load of stress and work you’re carrying and it’s time to get some help. Whether that means calling in friends or family members to take some of the load, or considering assisted living for your loved one, it’s important to get some kind of help before your health deteriorates irreparably.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.
There are many reasons to be wary of choosing an assisted living community, either for yourself or a loved one. Since residents enter assisted living because they are either physically and or mentally weakened, they are in a vulnerable position, and it’s a sad fact that predators are always willing to take advantage. But a good assisted living community should not only assist, it should also protect your loved ones. Here’s what you need to look out for to make sure you’re loved one is in good hands:
Contact Your ALFA State Affiliate
ALFA is the National Assisted Living Federation of America and they have chapters in every state (although they only recognize one chapter per state as being their official chapter in that area). They have tons of information on assisted living communities in your area, so look them up, see what information they have available on their website, and when you’ve exhausted their site, don’t be afraid to call them up and ask questions.
Contact Your Local Regulatory Agency
Each state has its own agency that’s responsible for monitoring assisted living communities within the state and ALFA is responsible for overseeing all of these regulatory agencies, which is why it makes sense to contact ALFA first. Many of the regulatory agencies maintain databases on the assisted living communities they regulate, and they may even have a way to compare their ratings, services, locations, etc. Take a look at their website and see what they offer in the way of information and comparison tools.
Contact Your Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman
A long-term care ombudsman is someone who works as an advocate for residents of assisted living communities, nursing homes, and board and care homes. They can help you get information about how to find a facility and obtain quality care for your loved one. They are also trained to assist with complaints and resolve problems, which means they’re more likely to know which assisted living facility in your area is the cause of most of the recent complaints.
The federal Older Americans Act requires each state to maintain an Ombudsman Program to act as an advocate and address complaints.
See Which Assisted Living Communities Are JCAHO Accredited
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) provides accreditation to assisted living communities, but accreditation is not mandatory. Only the assisted living communities that volunteer to participate receive accreditation, which means an assisted living community that’s not accredited may be just as reputable as one that is. That said, JCAHO maintains an online directory that makes it easy to access their information on each of the assisted living communities they have accredited, including a detailed report of their findings and a number score that is based on a 100-point scale.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few good assisted living communities that meet your needs and budget, it’s time to start visiting them in person. While there are many great resources to help you gather information online, nothing beats actually walking it and seeing for yourself how the place looks and if it feels right for you and your loved one.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.