What Are the Requirements for Assisted Living?

Requirements for Assisted LivingMaking the decision to move into assisted living is never easy, regardless of whether you are making the decision for yourself or a loved one. But before you can even consider whether it is time to move into assisted living, you first need to determine whether you qualify. The following are some of the requirements for assisted living.

You Need Help with Daily Tasks

Just because you forgot to bring in the mail once or twice does not mean you qualify for assisted living. But if daily tasks like doing laundry or cooking and cleaning becomes a struggle, that is when it becomes time to look into assisted living.

You Do Not Need Constant Monitoring

Assisted living is not the same as memory care. Some assisted living communities do offer memory care, but it is usually a separate part of the building, with different services and amenities from those offered in assisted living. Applicants will be tested by the staff before being accepted to determine whether they need assisted living or memory care.

You Do Not Have Extensive Medical Needs

Assisted living communities are not the same as nursing homes. While assisted living communities offer services to help you perform daily tasks, nursing homes are available to those who are healing from an injury, surgery, or a severe illness. Nursing homes can offer a higher level of medical care than assisted living communities.

How Are the Requirements for Assisted Living Determined?

Most assisted living communities have an application process that helps them determine whether someone is eligible for assisted living.

Once an application has been accepted, someone from the assisted living community will conduct an assessment to determine the type and level of care you or your loved one needs. The assessment usually includes things like

  • Getting a list and schedule of medications, as well as determining how much help is needed when taking medications;
  • Assessing mental condition to determine whether memory care is needed;
  • Sensory assessments to determine whether and how well you or your loved one can see and hear.

Creating a Care Plan

Once the assessment has been conducted, the assisted living community will come up with a care plan detailing the amount of care you or your loved one will need. This ensures that each resident has a customized care plan catered to them and their needs. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to assisted living. The aging process is different for everyone, and the level of care you receive in assisted living should reflect that.

When Spouses Need Different Levels of Care

Older Americans who are married often worry about getting separated from their spouse when they need different levels of care. One of the great things about assisted living is its flexibility. Spouses can continue to live together while receiving different levels of care. They will even be billed separately so the spouse with fewer needs does not have to worry about getting charged for the more extensive care provided to their spouse.

Applying for assisted living is not as easy or straightforward as it might seem, but we are always happy to walk you through the process. If you have any questions about the requirements for assisted living, just reach out now to start the conversation.

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 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 of the Best Snacks for Seniors

Best Snacks for SeniorsWhile some people like to avoid eating between meals, others find that snacking throughout the day helps keep their blood sugar levels even, which helps keep energy levels high and avoid mood swings, but not all snacks are created equal. Some snacks are better than others at helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels and providing the proper nutrition. So, if you are an older American wondering how you can snack healthier, or you have an older American in your life and you have been thinking about which snacks to stock up on to keep them happy and healthy all day long, we have some ideas for you.

1)   Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a very popular snack for a reason. Not only are they delicious, especially when they are roasted with a little salt, but they are portable, making them great to take with you if you are going out for a long hike or a trip to the beach. They are also packed with nutrients, and they are high in protein and healthy fats, which means a little goes a long way.

2)   Yogurt and Berries

We are officially at the end of berry season, but if you can still find some fresh berries at your local grocery store, they make a great snack either on their own, or paired with yogurt (especially Greek yogurt, which is very high in protein). You can also buy frozen berries and put them in a blender with yogurt to make a smoothie. Throw in some nuts and seeds, and you can even make it a meal on the go!

3)   Celery with Nut Butters

Celery and apples are both great vehicles for nut butters. Of course, celery has a natural well, making it the perfect vehicle for nut butters, but who does not love apple slices slathered in a nutritious nut butter? The reason these make for such great snacks is you get the best of all worlds: the nut butter provides healthy fats and protein, while the celery/apple provides fiber and at least a partial serving of fruit or vegetable for the day.

4)   Vegetables with Hummus

You can pair just about any vegetable with hummus, which is high in protein. You can always go with the traditional celery, or you can switch it up with carrots, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, bell peppers, or any other vegetable that strikes your fancy. Better yet, mix it up with a variety of vegetables to get the most nutrients possible.

5)   Hard-Boiled Eggs

Like nuts and seeds, hard-boiled eggs are high in protein, and they travel well. Because they are so filling, you only need to bring one or two eggs per person if you are going out for a hike or to the beach, and that will be enough to keep everyone feeling full until dinner.

Eggs are also packed with micronutrients. They are the building blocks of life, which means they have almost everything needed to create and sustain life. So, if you are worried about an older American in your life perishing with hunger while you are out for a day trip, bring some hard-boiled eggs to help keep up their energy and their blood sugar levels.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we make sure our residents have all the nutrients they need to live long, healthy lives. Whether your loved one is eating in the assisted living community with us, or you are taking them out for an excursion, eating healthy is key to enjoying life. If you want to learn more about how we make sure all our residents get the proper nutrition, we would love to chat. Just reach out to schedule your 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.

Benefits of Playing Card Games with Older Americans

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

Promotes Socialization

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

Stress Reduction

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

Improved Memory and Cognition

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

Enhanced Motor Skills

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

Improves Immune Function

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

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

Tips for Staying Fit in Assisted Living

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

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

1)   Know Your Limits

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

2)   Explore Your Options

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

3)   Get a Workout Buddy

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

4) Get Outside

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

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

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