One 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.
Celebrating 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
There’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.
The people currently living in assisted living and nursing homes have been through a lot of wars in their lifetime, including the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and for the oldest residents, WWII. Many residents actively served in a war in one capacity or another, so if you have been wondering about the best way for you to honor the veterans in your life this Veteran’s Day, we have a few ideas for you.
- Ask Them About Their Service
Not everyone who served is willing to talk about their service, but some of them do appreciate a chance to talk about everything they did to help their country. Whether it is stories of heroism, boredom, friendship, fear, or just a chance to remember those they served with who did not make it back, talking about it can help keep those memories alive. It also makes them feel that their service is appreciated when people ask to hear those stories. As a bonus, you just might learn something.
- Do Not Confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day
A common mistake veterans hate to hear about is confusing Veterans Day with Memorial Day. While both holidays are designed to honor those who served our country, Memorial Day specifically honors those who died in service to their country, while Veterans Day celebrates those who have served or are still serving our country and still living.
- Volunteer at Your Local VA Hospital
Check with your local VA hospital to see what their volunteer policy is like. Many of them have special events to celebrate Veteran’s Day, which can give you extra opportunities to interact with one or more veterans. Even if you do not get a chance to interact with a veteran, volunteering at your local VA hospital is a great way to give back to those who risked everything for our country.
- Get Outside with a Veteran
Spending time outdoors increases both physical and mental health, so getting outside with a veteran is a great way to improve both their spirits and yours. If you live near a national park, admission is free for all veterans on Veteran’s Day, which is all the more reason to explore the great outdoors with a veteran this year.
- Adopt a Military Family for the Holiday Season
One of the best ways to honor veterans and their families is to help those who may be struggling, especially during the holiday season. Some veteran families live on very limited incomes, especially if they have a parent who was injured after 9/11. You can make their holiday season a little brighter by checking out the Adopt a Family program, which allows both civilians and companies to sponsor a military family for the holidays.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we always look forward to celebrating our veterans during Veteran’s Day. Want to know what we are doing to celebrate 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.
While dementia is often associated with memory loss, there can be much more to it than that, depending on the type of dementia. As the disease progresses, many patients don’t just lose their memories, they also tend to lose their cognitive abilities, including reasoning, language skills, and their ability to work with numbers. That’s why one of the early signs of dementia is not forgetfulness, but mail piling up and left unsorted, bills going unpaid, and housework left undone as the person forgets how to complete those tasks.
So, if your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be tough to come up with activities to do with them, since they might not remember how to play what used to be their favorite game. That said, there are still some things they can do, and ways you can help them feel included.
- Take a Walk
Taking a walk, especially outside, is one of the best ways for just about anyone to feel better. Not only does it give you a chance to move your body, which is good for almost everything, it also gives you a chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin. In addition to feeling good, sunshine is an important source of vitamin D, which makes it a nutritional necessity.
When you take your loved one for a walk outside, you can point out different kinds of plants and birds, or pick a spot to watch the clouds roll by and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. Fall is an especially great time to get outside and go for a walk while all the leaves are changing color. Appreciate the foliage while it lasts.
If it’s getting too cold outside for your loved one to enjoy a walk outside, you can always walk around inside. Take a tour of the building and turn it into a game by making a race out of it, or seeing how many landmarks you can spot.
Gardening is a great way to get older Americans outside in the fresh air and keep them active, while making them feel like they’re being productive and contributing to the community. It also has the added bonus of beautifying the community, so the next time you take a walk outside with your loved one, you can point out all the lovely plants they helped nurture.
- Toss a Ball
While the rules of some games might start to elude those suffering from dementia, everyone can grasp the concept of throwing a ball back and forth. It’s a great way to get some exercise and make them feel connected to you without performing a task that’s too challenging for them.
If they’re suffering from arthritis, you can make the game even easier by tossing a balloon around and see how long you can keep it from touching the ground.
In addition to our memory care wing, we also regularly schedule all kinds of activities for our residents to keep them active and engaged as much as possible. If you have any questions about how we make sure all our residents feel included, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Spooky Season is in full swing, and whether you’re a lover of horror movies, or you’re more likely to hide under the covers during the scary parts, you probably prefer your horror in fiction rather than your day-to-day life. Nevertheless, most older Americans find the prospect of moving into assisted living to be a scary one, but of all the things you have to be afraid of these days, we don’t think moving into assisted living should be one of them. On the contrary, needing assisted living and not having access to it is one of our worst nightmares.
Whether you’re worried about moving into assisted living yourself, or you have a loved one you’re considering moving into assisted living, we have some tips to help make the transition less scary.
- Choose the Right Assisted Living Community for You
Making sure you have the right assisted living community on your side can go a long way towards making you and/or your loved one feel better about the move. There are several things to consider when weighing the pros and cons of various assisted living communities including:
- Cost: Money is far from the only consideration, but an assisted living community that meets all your needs can’t help you if it doesn’t fit into your budget. So, the first thing you need to do is take a good, hard look at your finances so you can determine your budget before you start looking at assisted living communities.
- Location, location, location: Location is everything, but it’s important to remember that, just because an assisted living community is near your loved one’s current residence does not necessarily mean it’s right for them. They might want to move somewhere warmer, or they’ll want to move closer to their children or other family members so they can visit regularly. It can help to come up with a list ahead of time so you can check it against your various assisted living options to see which one meets the greatest number of your requirements/preferences.
- Reviews: Reputation matters in everything from business to dating and the assisted living community you choose is no different. While we are always a proponent of good assisted living communities, the reality is that not all communities meet our high standards. The care of your loved one is too important to leave to chance, so do your due diligence ahead of time to make sure your loved one will be in good hands.
- Allow Time for the Reality to Set In
Insisting that your loved one needs to move into assisted living right away is one of the best ways to make sure they dig in their heels and refuse to move. Instead of waiting until the last minute when your loved one absolutely needs assisted living, give them a heads up months, even years in advance of when you actually need them to move into assisted living. Start talking to them about the benefits assisted living can provide. Ask them about their vision for their golden years and suggest ways that assisted living could fit into that vision.
- Take Them on a Tour
We are often most afraid of the unfamiliar because we build it up in our heads as something terrifying, even when there’s nothing to fear. To prevent your loved one from falling into that trap, take them on a tour of your chosen assisted living community with you so they can see it for themselves and start to see what living there would look like. That’s often all it takes for them to get used to the idea of living there, and once they’ve become accustomed to the idea, they’ll be more accepting of the transition.
Whether you need a tour, or just more general information about what your loved one can expect from the move to assisted living, we’re here to help. All you have to do is reach out to start your transition to a better assisted living community.
National Assisted Living Week is an annual holiday in which we take a week during the month of September to honor the residents in assisted living, as well as recognize the value our assisted living staff provides, not only to the residents for whom they are caring, but to the community as a whole. Each year the week has a different theme, and this year, the theme is Compassion, Community, Caring.
Because National Assisted Living Week is an opportunity to celebrate both assisted living staff and the residents they serve, we thought this would be a great opportunity to share some ideas about how you can celebrate National Assisted Living Week with both staff and residents of your local assisted living community.
Adopt a Resident
Many residents of assisted living communities have either lost touch with their family members or even outlived them, which can leave them feeling lonely and isolated. One of the best ways to celebrate National Assisted Living Week is to adopt a resident in your local assisted living community and visit them regularly so they have someone to talk to and they do not have to feel so isolated.
Remember to take some time to show your appreciation for the staff who are taking care of your adopted resident. It could be a small gift or treat, or just a sincere thank you when you come for your visits.
Photos are one of the best ways to save and share memories. The traditional method of presenting a framed photo is always nice, but these days you also have the option of having the photo printed onto a pillow, a blanket, or even clothing.
If you have a loved one in assisted living (or you have adopted a resident) a great way to celebrate both the resident and the staff is to take a picture of the resident with one or more of their caretakers. Then you can print multiple copies of the picture and present one copy to the resident and another copy to their caretaker(s).
Create Art Together
Art projects are always a great activity to do in groups. They allow you to express yourself while having a good time with other people. You can invite both staff and residents of your local assisted living community to participate in your art project. You can paint rocks with inspirational quotes, or paint flower pots to brighten someone’s day. Encourage both the staff and residents to create a piece of artwork they can then exchange to express their appreciation for one another.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we plan all kinds of activities to keep our residents engaged, giving them opportunities to interact with each other, as well as our staff. We get excited about National Assisted Living Week each and every year, and this year is no different, especially with all the challenges we have faced throughout the year. If you are wondering what we have planned for National Assisted Living Week this year, just reach out.
Sundown syndrome (sometimes referred to as sundowning) is common among those with Alzheimer’s, so if your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or they have not been diagnosed, but you think they might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s), sundown syndrome is something for which you should be on the lookout. Whether you have heard a little bit about sundown syndrome, or you are completely new to the concept, here are some things to look out for if you suspect your loved one might be suffering from sundown syndrome.
Patients with Alzheimer’s often get agitated for a variety of reasons, but if they have sundown syndrome, they might be more likely to get agitated around sunset and/or throughout the night. Agitation can manifest in the form of your loved one getting upset over little things, or for no discernible reason at all. If it happens around sunset or in the course of the night and appears to get better around morning, it could be a symptom of sundown syndrome.
Agitation can also appear in the form of anxiety, which is another common symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you notice your loved one is more likely to become anxious around sunset or over the course of the night, it could be a symptom of sundown syndrome.
If your loved one is experiencing sundown syndrome, they might seem more fidgety at night than during the day, whether that means they are just tapping their fingers on a surface, or trying to perform tasks that do not need to be performed, such as packing when they are not going anywhere, cleaning things that are already clean, or cooking a big meal after they have already had dinner. As with agitation, if you notice your loved one appears to be more restless at night than during the day, it could be a symptom of sundown syndrome.
As people with Alzheimer’s or dementia lose their memories, it is no wonder they are more likely to become confused, especially as the disease progresses and they lose much of their cognitive function in addition to their memories. While those with Alzheimer’s or dementia tend to have good days and bad days, it is also common for some to have good days and bad nights, especially if they are suffering from sundown syndrome. Keep in mind that confusion can often lead to agitation and restlessness as they struggle to remember where they are and how they got there.
Suspicion and paranoia are common symptoms of dementia that may or may not get worse after the sun has gone down. If your loved one is their normal, chatty, sociable self during the day, but suddenly suspicious and paranoid by night, they may be suffering from sundown syndrome.
Because sundown syndrome can often last all night, not only does it prevent the patient from getting sleep, it can prevent the caregiver and/or other people in the house from getting a good night’s rest, in which case it might be time to consider assisted living. If you have questions about assisted living, we are here to answer them.
Being a caregiver to an Older American is an incredible gift, but let’s face it, it is also a lot of work, and it involves a fair amount of stress. Every job comes with a risk of burnout, but due to the fact that caregivers often feel like they always have to be on the clock, they are particularly susceptible to burnout. So, if you are a caregiver, whether for a loved one or as a profession (or both) use these tips to make sure you do not burn out.
- Take a Break
If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you know the flight attendants always say that, if the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, you need to put your own mask on before helping anyone else with their mask. Since you cannot help anyone if you can’t breathe, it only makes sense to put on your mask first, but we often do not think of self-care the same way in everyday life.
When we get tired and/or stressed and we do not do anything about it, we are more likely to make mistakes that could potentially harm the person for whom we are supposed to be caring. We can also get sick, in which case we can’t take care of anyone – and we might even endanger them by exposing them to bacteria or a virus they cannot fight off if they have a compromised immune system.
So, if you want to provide the best care possible, it is important to take breaks regularly and take some time that is just for you. Get some extra sleep. Watch your favorite movie or TV show. If you feel yourself getting tired, don’t ignore it or try to push through it. Listen to your body and give it what it needs, so you can give your loved one what they need.
- Ask for Help
This goes hand in hand with our first tip because you need someone you can rely on to take care of your loved one while you are taking time for yourself. It could be a friend or family member, or it could be a nurse or aide you hire part time.
When it comes to caring for an aging parent, the responsibilities tend to get loaded onto one child, so if that sounds similar to your situation, do not be afraid to let your siblings know when you need help. If they are not around, they cannot see what you are dealing with, and they certainly cannot read your mind, so you have to be the one to communicate and let them know when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If your siblings live far away and cannot travel to watch your parent, ask if they can chip in to help with expenses.
- Join a Support Group
Being a caregiver is a uniquely stressful position, especially when you are caring for a parent, but it can help to talk with other people who are going through the same thing. They cannot solve your problems for you, but they can listen with a sympathetic ear and let you know you are not alone. They can also provide some tips and resources you may not have considered because they’ve been there and done that.
- Consider Assisted Living
Assisted living ensures your loved one gets the best care possible without risking caregiver burnout. It allows you to spend more quality time with your loved one because you get to be truly present when you’re with them instead of caring for them and worrying about making sure they have everything they need. If you think it might be time to discuss assisted living options for your loved one, reach out now so we can help.