The 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!
While 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.
Summer is a great time to stay inside and watch a movie, especially for older Americans who are both more susceptible to heat stroke and less likely to realize the heat is affecting them until it is too late. But choosing a movie to watch with someone of another generation can be easier said than done. How can you be sure to choose something you will both enjoy?
1) Downton Abbey
Whether you are watching one of the feature-length films, or having a marathon of the TV show, Downton Abbey is something almost everyone can enjoy. It offers the perfect escape with everything from gorgeous sets and costumes to biting dialogue to drama and intrigue.
2) Secondhand Lions
This movie provides the perfect example of how life does not have to be over once you reach a certain age. The two main characters had plenty of exciting adventures in their youth, giving the film a chance to cover everything from action and adventure to love and loss. But it also makes a point of demonstrating that, just because the characters have aged, does not mean they have finished living. We will not spoil the ending, in case you have yet to watch it, so just trust us when we say this is another fun film for the whole family.
You can never go wrong with the classics, so, when in doubt, know that you can always rely on Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
4) West Side Story
If you have musical lovers in your family, you can never go wrong with West Side Story. Whether you are watching the original or Stephen Spielberg’s reboot, this is a classic tale of star-crossed lovers and both films are gorgeous, in addition to having great music.
5) What About Bob?
You can almost always count on Bill Murray to make the whole family laugh, especially in this heartfelt comedy in which Murray plays a disturbed, but lovable patient of a therapist. The movie takes place over the therapist’s vacation with his family, which is constantly interrupted by Bob’s stalking.
6) The Sandlot
This is a quintessential coming-of-age story that takes place over one summer as a group of young boys bond over their love of baseball. It is perfect for fans of baseball, but loving baseball is by no means a requirement for loving this movie.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we make sure to schedule activities throughout the summer that provide opportunities for our residents to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors before it gets cold again, but we also schedule indoor activities for when it is too hot to go outside. If you want to know more about our activities and how we keep our residents active and engaged all year long, we are always happy to chat.
Maintaining a healthy weight is never easy, and the older we get, the more difficult it can get, but it is also more important to maintain a healthy weight as we age and our bodies have a harder time doing everything from standing up to fighting off infections. Whether you are unaware of the benefits of managing weight in older Americans, or you just need a refresher, below is a list of reasons why managing your weight in your golden years is so important.
It is no secret that getting around gets harder as we age, and getting around can also be difficult for those who are overweight, which means older Americans who are overweight have an especially hard time staying mobile. For older Americans who want to retain as much of their independence and mobility as possible for as long as possible, maintaining a healthy weight is key.
Heart Attack and Stroke Risks
Along with reduced mobility, the risk of heart attacks and strokes goes up along with our weight, and it also tends to go up with our age. Again, this means older Americans who are overweight are doubly at risk for heart attacks and strokes, which makes maintaining a healthy weight of the utmost importance.
People with diabetes are also at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, and since we know diets high in sugar tend to lead to both an increase in weight and an increase in risk for Type II Diabetes, limiting sugar can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy weight and staying healthy.
High inflammation has been linked to being overweight and a variety of chronic illnesses, including diabetes and various forms of dementia. Maintaining a healthy weight does not guarantee low levels of inflammation, but it does reduce the likelihood of suffering from high inflammation and all the health risks that come along with it, including health risks to which older Americans are especially vulnerable, such as dementia.
Cost of Living
One of the primary concerns older Americans have is whether they will have enough money to retire, and the biggest expense people face in retirement is medical expenses. As we age and our bodies do not work like they used to, we tend to need a variety of medications, and often surgical procedures, to keep everything working. By maintaining a healthy weight, we can significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the need for a fair amount of medical expenses, especially the more costly expenses that require surgery and/or hospital stays.
Now that we know why maintaining a healthy weight in older Americans is so important, let us take a look at some measures older Americans can take to keep their weight down and their energy up.
Simply moving our bodies is one of the best ways to take care of it. Ideally, older Americans should be sure to get both cardio and strength training if possible, but if all they can do is go for a walk, then they should do so on a daily basis. Walking is excellent exercise that almost everyone can do. Whether you head outside for a long hike or just do a few laps around the room, make sure to get your 10,000 steps in every day.
Overeating is big problem in this country and it is one of the leading causes of obesity, which leads to a higher risk of contracting all the other health problems discussed above. One of the most impactful ways older Americans can maintain a healthy weight is through portion control.
Portion control on its own is not enough to maintain a healthy weight. You also need to make sure you are consuming nutritious foods, namely fruits and vegetables and plenty of protein, to make sure your body has access to all the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. It is also harder to overeat fruits and vegetables, which means eating nutritiously can also help you avoid overeating.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we pride ourselves on making nutritious foods available to all our residents, as well as plenty of opportunities for safe and healthy exercise. If you have any questions about our amenities, we are always happy to talk, so do not hesitate to reach out.
Spring is in the air and, depending on where you are located, it might already feel a lot like summer. For most Americans, summer means spending time outdoors, which not only feels good, it is also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have been hesitant to get outside this summer with your parent, we have a few reasons why you should stop worrying and go for a walk.
Humans are one of the only animals that do not make our own vitamin D, which means we need to spend time in the sun to get our daily dose, and it does need to be daily. Our bodies have no way of storing extra vitamin D, which means we need to get outside every day to get vitamin D, even if it is just 15 minutes a day. And, yes, you can still absorb vitamin D while wearing sunscreen, although you might not absorb as much as you would without sunscreen.
Older Americans tend to be at an increased risk of depression and anxiety as the world around them changes and their friends and family members start dying or moving away, leaving them feeling disconnected from their community. Studies have linked increased time outside with improved mental health, including reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, especially if that time outside is spent in green spaces. This could mean going for a walk in the woods or just around town if you live in an area with a lot of grass and trees. If you live near a park, try to spend some time there every day just being in nature.
Just being outside can improve the chances you will exercise, especially when the weather is nice. Whether you are going for a walk, a swim, or a bike ride, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors while getting some exercise, especially in summer.
Improved Immune System
Spending time outside has also been linked to improved immune health, and since older Americans tend to suffer from reduced immune function, they can use all the help they can get, so make sure they spend some time outside this summer.
Improves Recovery Time
If you or a loved one has recently been ill or had surgery, spending time outside can shorten your recovery time. Even if you cannot go for long walks, just being outside in the fresh air can give your body the boost it needs to fight off infection or heal itself, especially if you can spend time in green spaces when you are outside.
As an assisted living community devoted to promoting the health and well-being of our residents at all times, we make it easy for our residents to get outside for fresh air and exercise whenever possible and even join our garden club! If you have any questions about our amenities or our services, we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to start a conversation with us.
Navigating the different stages of aging can be hard enough, even if you have a spouse or partner to share the journey with you, but what if you reach a point where your aging journeys diverge? For example, what if one of you starts losing track of bills, or losing your balance easily but the other is still strong and healthy enough to care for themselves? If you have run into the situation where your spouse needs assisted living, but you do not, there are a few different ways you can choose to handle the situation.
Become a Caregiver
One option is for you to become a caregiver for your spouse, but that is not always the best choice. Becoming a caregiver is a full-time job and it requires a specific set of skills. If you are not able to provide your partner with the level of care they need, then it might be time to start looking for an assisted living community.
Aging Together, But Living Separately
Another option is for the spouse in need of assisted living to move into assisted living on their own while you remain at home. This option is not for everyone and should only be considered if the assisted living community is near enough to your home that you can visit your spouse often. Frequent visits can reduce separation anxiety, which eases the transition from their former home to their new home in assisted living.
Living Together in Assisted Living
Some assisted living communities (like Stillwater Senior Living) allow residents’ spouses to live with them even if the spouse does not need assisted living. The healthier spouse is not charged for assisted living services they are not using, and they get to continue living with the love of their life and taking care of them when they can. This is the ideal situation for most couples in different stages of the aging process because they get to stay together. Not only does that help keep both of them happy and healthy, but it also eases the transition to assisted living.
Different Levels of Care
While we have primarily focused on one spouse needing assisted living while the other does not need any assistance, it is important to remember that another common occurrence is both spouses needing different levels of assisted living. Maybe one just needs help performing certain chores, while the other keeps forgetting to take their medication or pay their bills.
Many assisted living communities (including Stillwater Senior Living) allow spouses to live together while receiving different levels of care. Each spouse is charged for the care they receive, so if your spouse needs more assistance on a daily basis than you do, you will not have to worry about your bill going up based on their needs.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we recognize that every resident has their own level of need and their own, unique aging process. And every couple is just as unique, which is why we work so hard to cater our services to your individual needs. If you have been wondering if assisted living is right for you, reach out now so we can talk about the benefits Stillwater Senior Living has to offer.
If you have a loved one who needs assisted living, of course you only want the best for them, but how can you determine which is the best assisted living community for them? Depending on where you live, you might have several assisted living communities to choose from, so to help make your decision easier, we have some factors you should consider when choosing an assisted living community.
Location, Location, Location
If you live in a different state from the loved one who needs assisted living, you might want to look for an assisted living community near them, so they do not have to move far. On the other hand, you might be better off moving them to an assisted living community near you so you can visit regularly and keep up to date with their progress. Either way, you need to decide where your loved one will be better off before you start looking for an assisted living community for them.
The staff are the people who will be directly responsible for taking care of your loved one, so you’ll want to make sure they’re qualified for the job. Ask how long the staff have been in place. How many years of experience do they have as caregivers? You should also ask how long the management team has been in place and what their qualifications are for training caregivers.
What services does the assisted living community offer? Do they have everything your loved one will need? It is common for older Americans to transition from living on their own to assisted living to something like memory care if they have some form of dementia, so think about memory care if it’s something you think your loved one will need.
When it comes to activities, it is also common for residents’ interest in certain activities to change as their ability to participate changes, so make sure the assisted living community you choose has a range of activities to support residents at all levels.
At Stillwater Senior Living, not only do we offer memory care for those who need it, but we also offer different levels of medical care depending on the needs of each resident, including 24 hour on-site nursing staff, a visiting nurse practitioner, an on-site pharmacy, lab, and x-ray. We also offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy services as needed. You can learn more about our full range of services and programs here.
If you are considering Stillwater Senior Living for your loved one’s assisted living needs, we would love to talk to you about everything we offer our residents. Reach out now so we can have a conversation.
One persistent stereotype of older Americans is that they hate technology because they do not know how to use it, but in fact that is not always the case. We have found that older Americans tend to like technology, especially when it allows them to connect with friends and family they do not get to see very often. Here are just a few of the ways you can use technology to improve your relationships with the older Americans in your life.
Stay in Touch When You Are Separated
Whether you do not live near your loved one or you cannot physically be with them due to illness or some other reason, technology is a great way to stay connected over long distances. Phone calls are great, but if you do not have time for a long conversation, a quick text is also a great way to stay in touch between meetings or when running errands.
FaceTime and video conferencing software are also great options for staying in touch with your loved one in a way that feels like you are sitting in front of them, no matter how far apart you are.
Social media is another great way to stay in touch with loved ones over long distances. You can see each other’s posts so each of you can know what is new with the other. When you just need to talk to each other, you can use the private messaging option.
Baby boomers and their parents have become the biggest users of Facebook because it allows them to see photos of their grandchildren, even when they live far away from them. Getting to see those photos and read about their adventures and antics as they grow up is a great way for grandparents to feel like they are a part of their grandchildren’s lives, even if they only get to see them once or twice a year.
Keep Up with Their Health
Because technology allows you to interact with older Americans more often, whether through texting, video calls, or social media, one of the key benefits of this is that it allows you to keep tabs on your loved one’s health. If you notice they look unusually pale or jaundiced when you are on a video call with them, you can mention it to them, or even call their doctor if you have POA. If they are hesitant to try a new medication or course of treatment, being able to interact with them in a variety of ways through technology gives you more opportunities to convince them to give the new treatment a try. You can send them links that lead to video testimonials or articles outlining the benefits of the medication/course of treatment, which gives you persuasive power you never would have had without the right technology to share those links.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we know how helpful technology can be, whether it be for taking care of our residents or helping them stay in touch with loved ones. If you have any questions about how we use technology in our community, do not hesitate to reach out.
Most 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 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.
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.
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.
There 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.