aging in placeThe term aging in place appears to be everywhere these days. Everyone is telling us how we can “age in place” and giving us tips and tools and technology to help us do so, but what does that really mean? Should we even want to age in place?

The Stats

While a lot of people talk about studies showing as many as 90% of older Americans want to live at home, according to a study conducted by AARP just last year, only about 76% of Americans aged 50 and older want to stay at home. The rest are looking forward to living in a community of people their own age who remember the politics and pop culture from decades ago.

Is the Push to “Age in Place” Ageism?

Our culture has long been obsessed with youth and beauty, and while there are certain advantages to having those things, life has much more to offer. One of the best parts of aging is the wisdom and experience that comes with age, so when people are constantly telling us to “age in place” it can feel a little like they’re telling us to give up all our hard-earned knowledge. Who wants that?

The Importance of Socializing

Everyone enjoys socializing with people their own age. As kids, we tend to congregate with other kids our age, and as we grow into adulthood, we seek out people who are going through the same stages of life we’re experiencing.

The same goes for older adults. As much as we love our kids and grandkids, they just can’t understand us on the same level as our peers. While it’s nice to have a helping hand around the house, and to spend time with our family, we also need to spend time with people who understand what we’re going through and who can reminisce with us about “the good old days”.

Socializing can be tough for older Americans who try to stay at home, especially if they live in an area where they’re largely isolated from other people their own age. There’s a reason assisted living communities talk so much about the activities they host to make sure their residents remain actively engaged in the social life of the community – not only is it healthier for them, it also makes their lives more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Talking to Your Loved One

We talk to people every day who have trouble convincing their loved one it’s time for assisted living because of the stigma surrounding assisted living, but much of that stigma is already starting to dissipate as older Americans and their families recognize the many blessings assisted living can provide. If you think your loved one might need assisted living, but they’re resistant to the idea, try pointing out all the benefits (to them, not just to you as their caregiver). If you haven’t talked to them about it in a while, bring it up again and see what they say because you might find that their attitude on the subject has completely changed, especially if they have friends who are living in an assisted living community and loving it!

If all else fails, bring them in for a tour. Aging in place can be done here! Once you tour our gorgeous community, you will be happy to age in place here! We’d be happy to schedule a visit at your earliest convenience.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

activities and engagementThe activities in assisted living communities get a lot of attention, and rightly so. Not only do the staff put in a lot of time and hard work into making those activities a success, but it’s those kinds of programs that are critical to helping residents get engaged in their community, which in turn is great for their health, both physical and mental.

But there’s a difference between activities and engagement. Keeping residents busy is easy. Getting and keeping them engaged is another matter entirely.

Activities

The term “activities” refers to any activity that can entertain residents and keep them busy. It doesn’t necessarily keep them engaged, and they’re usually designed to appeal to the greatest number of current residents. But where does that leave the rest of the residents?

When deciding if an assisted living community is right for you, their activities should be a priority on your list of concerns. Are they diverse enough to appeal to everyone? Are there activities on there that will appeal to your loved one? Are there activities on there that will encourage them to engage with the other residents? For example, crafts are great, but they can easily be done in solitude. Games, on the other hand, are a great ice breaker for just about any group of people.

Engagement

Engagement, on the other hand, involves getting active in the community and interacting with staff and other residents. Activities should be designed to facilitate engagement, but it can also happen outside of structured activities. Mealtimes are a great opportunity to meet new people and strike up a conversation. If your loved one has a roommate, that can naturally improve their social engagement, especially if their roommate has been living there for a while and can introduce your loved one to other residents. Meeting new people is that much easier when you have an ally, and that can be the best part of having a roommate.

Memory Care

If your loved one needs memory care (or you think they might need memory care at some point in the future), make sure you choose an assisted living community that has activities that are intended for dementia residents and are designed to improve memory.

The research on dementia consistently shows that activities that stimulate memory can help maintain their cognitive function and reduce instances of negative behaviors, so if you haven’t already asked about memory engagement, put it on your list of questions to ask.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we strive to keep our residents active because we know how important that is for their overall health, but we also make sure they’re engaged. We have a variety of activities to make sure there’s something on our calendar that appeals to everyone. Our staff is also trained look out for residents who show signs of isolation and to draw them out as gently as possible to get them engaged with the rest of the community. We truly believe that it takes a village and we are committed to providing anything and everything that village might need.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Making the Transition to Assisted LivingMoving is never easy, and the older we get, the harder these transitions can become. The combination of having accumulated a lifetime of personal belongings and the physical challenges that come with old age and illness can make it hard to move one’s entire life into another, smaller living space. It takes planning and work, so we’ve come up with a few hints to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Plan Ahead

Know what your loved one can and cannot bring with them into assisted living. If your loved one has pets they can’t bring with them, make arrangements for the pet to go to someone who will care for it. Your loved one will almost certainly be downsizing from their current home into assisted living, so you’ll need to decide what to bring along and what to leave behind. Get a list of everything that will be provided by the assisted living community so you can get an idea of what gaps will need to be filled in. Then you need to decide what to do with everything that stays behind. Will it go into storage? Get sold at an estate sale? Whatever you and your loved one decide to do, you’ll need to make arrangements, not only for them, but for all their stuff.

Pro tip: if the assisted living community is helping with laundry, be sure to label all your loved one’s clothes and sheets so they don’t get lost.

Get Help

We know how tempting it is to try to do everything on your own, but that’s a recipe for burnout and resentment. Avoid falling into that trap by getting help. Make a list of everything that needs to be done (ideally you would have already done that during the planning phase) and ask friends, family and neighbors for help. The assisted living community that will become your loved one’s new home has had lots of practice with this, so be sure to ask them. If it’s not something they can help with directly, they’re sure to know someone who can.

Personalize It

Your loved one should be involved in every step of the process. Moving is always hard, so make it as easy as possible for them by letting them help you pack so you can ask them about keepsakes. Having them tell stories about their collections and pictures can be not only therapeutic for them, but eye opening for you.

When you’re moving everything into their new apartment, try to make it look as much like their former home as possible. Make sure the furniture, lamps, wall hangings, and knickknacks are all in the same or similar arrangement. Making the place feel as familiar as possible can help ease the transition.

Get Active

Not only has your loved one just been placed in a new home, but they have also moved to an entirely new community where they might not know anyone. The effect can feel a lot like the first day of school, so help them adjust by reviewing the list of available activities and helping them pick out a few they like to make it easier for them to find people with similar interests. You can even attend a few events with them to see how it goes.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

 

Loneliness is an unfortunately common symptom of aging. As we get older, we tend to lose spouses, friends, and family members, and it’s all too rare to find members of the younger generation who are willing to spend time with the elderly. This results in social isolation and loneliness, which is one of the highest predictors of mortality in older Americans, but there are ways around it.

Stay Active

We all know about the health benefits of exercise, but it’s equally important to remain mentally active, which is where hobbies and learning new things can come in handy. This is why most assisted living communities offer classes and activities to their residents, and visitors are more than welcome to join in. Whether it’s a yoga class, a crafting session, or learning tai chi, there are plenty of ways to keep seniors active both mentally and physically. Plus, doing these things in a group setting has the added benefit of helping them form and cement relationships with their fellow residents.

Pets

Pets are a great way to combat loneliness at any age, which is why some assisted living communities (including Stillwater Senior Living) allow residents to take their pets with them, and if you need helping taking care of your pet, that’s included in the assistance we offer our residents. Pets not only provide company and unconditional love, but they’re also great conversation starters. Anyone who has ever lived with a pet knows they each have their own personalities and can get up to some very silly antics, and relating those antics gives you something to talk about with just about anyone.

As an added bonus, owning a pet has been shown to reduce stress and help lower blood pressure, helping their owners live longer.

Supportive Friends and Family

If you have an aging loved one, you’re their first line of defense against loneliness and depression. That might seem like a heavy burden to bear, but you don’t have to bear it all on your own. Enlist the help of other friends and family members to make sure your loved one has visitors regularly. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative and go visit whenever you have time, instead of waiting for an invitation. People are often too proud to admit when they need help, even if all the help they need is a little company now and then.

You might also have to be their first line of defense against depression. According to Mental Health America, roughly 68% of Americans aged 65+ know little about depression, if they know anything about it at all. At the same time, 1 in 17 older Americans suffer from depression, and Americans aged 65+ make up 20% of all suicide deaths in the country.

So, it’s important for you to know the symptoms of depression, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. Many assisted living communities provide counseling as one of their regular services, and even if they don’t, they’re sure to have a good recommendation for you.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

looking into assisted livingThe process of looking into assisted living is something too many people tend to put off for too long. The thought of putting mom and/or dad into assisted living isn’t always a pleasant one, and if your loved one is resistant to the idea of going into assisted living, it can make the process that much more difficult.

The problem with this is that the best time to start looking into assisted living is before you need it. First, you need to determine which assisted living community is right for your needs, and once you’ve found the one you want, there’s likely to be a waiting list. So, when is it time for you to start looking into assisted living?

Retirement

While no one plans on going directly from work to assisted living, once you or your loved one has retired, it might be a good time to start thinking about what you’ll want and need from an assisted living community. If they want to move somewhere warm to live out their golden years, then once they’ve moved, start looking for assisted living in that area so they can stay in that area when it’s time for assisted living. If you want to be able to visit them often in assisted living, then look for options in your area and consider putting them on a wait list for an assisted living community where it will be easy and convenient for you to visit them regularly.

Early Warning Signs

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are both progressive diseases, so the earlier you can catch them, the better prepared you’ll be to take care of your loved one once the disease really gets going. So, keep in mind these early warning signs of dementia so you can start looking for an assisted living community with memory care options sooner, rather than later.

The Level of Care They Need Continues to Rise

It’s one thing to help out our parents every now and then, but if you find yourself going to their place more and more often to bring groceries, cook meals for them and clean up after them, it might be time to start looking at your options for assisted living. Don’t brush it off as being no big deal, or something you can handle on your own, because that’s how you end up turning into their full-time caretaker without realizing it. You’re better off looking for assisted living options before it becomes something your parents need right away. Don’t wait for an accident to happen.

Even if you or your loved ones feel fine now, that’s no reason to put off looking for assisted living until you think you need it. Make sure you get the assisted living community you want by looking into it now and getting on their wait list. If you still don’t need assisted living by the time you reach the top of the list, you can always defer until you do need it. If you want to start looking into assisted living now, reach out to see if we can be of service.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

 

Can Grandparenting Help Prevent Alzheimer’sAlthough no one knows for sure what really causes Alzheimer’s or dementia, there have been a number of studies showing that staying active, both physically and mentally, can help prevent Alzheimer’s, dementia, and a host of other chronic illnesses. Well, guess what tends to keep us physically and mentally active? Children.

So, it stands to reason that looking after grandchildren could help ward of Alzheimer’s and dementia, right?

In fact, the science supports this theory. In 2014, the Women’s Health Aging Project (WHAP) published the results of their study looking at the cognitive function of more than 180 women, from the ages of 57 to 68, who regularly helped look after their grandchildren. The WHAP gave the participants three different mental acuity tests throughout the duration of the study in order to measure the women’s working memory and mental processing speed. The study found that the women who helped look after their grandchildren one day per week performed significantly better on the mental agility tests, suggesting they might have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

The women who helped look after their grandchildren for five or more days per week performed worse on the mental agility tests, which initially suggested that they might be at a higher risk of developing some sort of neurodegenerative disease. But on closer inspection, researchers noticed that the participants who looked after their grandchildren more often tended be older and have lower levels of education, both of which tend to contribute to mental decline. Once those factors were taken into account, they found the women looking after their grandchildren five or more days per week actually performed better on verbal fluency tests. The only area where they suffered a decline was in their ability to conduct numerical reasoning, which could be a symptom of fatigue or stress resulting from caring for children on a daily or near-daily basis.

Although no one is sure why this link between grandparenting and Alzheimer’s exists, some have suggested that the increase in social interaction is key to warding off a sense of isolation, depression, and other mental disorders.

The Institute on Aging at Boston College conducted another study that looked at the habits of almost 400 grandparents and more than 300 grandchildren over a span of 19 years. They found that the important factor appeared to be the bond between the grandparents and grandchildren – the stronger the bond, the better off the grandparents were. This remained true of grandparents who both gave and received support, so if you have an aging parent or loved one who needs a little help in their day-to-day activities, getting your kids or nieces and nephews to help out could turn out to be beneficial for everyone.

There aren’t as many studies showing how grandchildren benefit from spending time with their grandparents, but there are plenty of studies showing that having close ties to family and a strong support group at home tends to lead to better performance in school and more success later in life. There’s no reason grandparents can’t be a part of that equation.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Celebrating Father’s Day in Assisted LivingCelebrating Father’s Day in assisted living is all about finding which of his favorite activities you can do in assisted living (or on a field trip). You might be surprised how many of dad’s favorite things can be included in assisted living, especially with a little help from the staff.

Food

Food is one of the easiest ways to make any occasion special. You can take dad out to a meal on Father’s Day, or host something at the assisted living community. Make it a potluck and assign one of his favorite dishes to each person who’s coming. That makes it both special and easy to implement because it takes a lot of the burden of hosting off you.

If dad likes to grill, ask the assisted living community if they have a grill you can use to host a BBQ.

Games

Games are always a great way to bring people together. You can bring his favorite games when you visit, and if you’re bringing children who have their own favorite board games, you can include your father or father-in-law by teaching him to play their favorite game, which is a great bonding experience for everyone.

Sports

If your loved one enjoys sports, you can enjoy a few drinks and gather everyone around to watch a game with him. Watching a game together is another great way to bond with the people around you, and sometimes the best way to celebrate Father’s Day is just to enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

Depending on how active your loved one is, you might even be able to get him outside to play a few rounds of his favorite game, especially if it’s something like baseball or soccer, which both tend to be low impact.

Field Trip

While assisted living communities are here to help, there are also benefits to leaving every once in a while and seeing a bit of the wider world. It can improve mental stimulation and help them to feel less isolated, so whether you’re just taking your loved one out to lunch, a movie, or a museum (or all three), he can probably benefit from the fresh air and sightseeing.

He Doesn’t Have to Be Happy All Day

While Father’s Day should certainly be a time to celebrate dads and everything they’ve done for us, remembering back to that time can have its painful moments. Many men tend to feel most needed and respected when they’re working and taking care of a family, and the loss of that identity can be painful. If they’ve lost their spouse, or even a child, those memories can be painful as well. They might even be remembering their own father and missing him, so don’t think your loved one has to be happy all day long. We all experience memories differently, so just be there for him no matter what he’s feeling.

No matter how you celebrate Father’s Day this year, just remember that the day is supposed to celebrate him and that he should be allowed to celebrate however he wants. If that means getting together with the kids and grandkids, then bring everyone you can. If he’d prefer a quiet day at home, that’s OK, too, just as long as you find ways to remind him how much he means to you.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

Those who put off assisted living generally have two main reasons for doing so: cost and a fear that they’ll lose their independence. We’ve covered the issue of cost in other blog posts, so for this one we’re just going to focus on independence, since it can be the most difficult obstacle for some people to overcome.

Assistance Is Not Control

The fact of aging is that it often comes with a loss of independence all on its own. We tend to lose our strength, agility, balance, and memory as we age, making it more difficult to do things for ourselves. That’s where the loss of independence comes in, not assisted living.

In fact, assisted living is the opposite of dependence. The goal of an assisted living community is not to control its residents, but to help them accomplish what they need and want to accomplish. That’s why most assisted living communities offer help with shopping, cleaning, meals, and reminders to take medications when necessary, but residents who are able to do any of those things for themselves are often left to take care of them on their own.

Most assisted living communities also offer parking for residents who are still able to drive themselves around, and offer help scheduling transportation for those who can’t drive themselves so they don’t have to feel like a prisoner in their own home.

Owning Your Space

One of the most effective ways to help residents feel at home is by giving them control over their own space, so most assisted living communities give their residents the opportunity to organize and decorate their living space to their liking, which gives them a sense of ownership over the space and helps them to feel more comfortable there. Residents are often encouraged to bring personal possessions to put around their living space so they can feel at home their right away.

The same goes for respecting their personal space as belonging to them and giving them as much control over it as possible. Staff are trained to respect residents’ privacy, and while they are there to provide assistance as needed, they shouldn’t interfere with a resident’s way of doing things. If a resident likes to have their apartment organized in a certain way, or if they have a specific way of doing things, the staff should respect the resident’s wishes as much as they can while providing them with the level of care they need.

Some assisted living communities will even let you take your pet with you. For example, we have a Pet Concierge to help residents take care of their pets. Because we recognize all the physical and emotional benefits pets have to offer, we do everything in our power to make it easy for our residents to take their pets with them into assisted living. Those who are able to care for their own pets can do so, and those who need a little help can get it so they don’t have to give up their best friend when they move into our assisted living community.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

assisted livingMoving into assisted living can provide a great opportunity to start a new chapter in your life, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you choose the right assisted living community for you. If you think you or a loved one might need assisted living (whether now or in the near future) we have some tips to help you find the right one.

What Do You Need?

The first thing you need to consider is the level of assisted living you’ll need. Do you need a lot of help getting around, or do you just need a helping hand with a few daily tasks? The level of assistance you need can help you determine which assisted living community will be right for you, although it’s worth considering that a lot of communities offer different levels for residents with different needs.

On the other hand, if you or your loved one has a degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, you might want to plan for the probability that you’ll need a higher level of care in a few years than you need right now.

When Do You Need Assisted Living?

Some assisted living communities have a wait list, which is why it’s best to start looking around before you really need to move in. If you need to move in right away, the communities with a wait list might not be an option for you.

Check Payment Options

Your choices will probably be limited by which facilities take your insurance and/or which ones you can afford. Set a budget and cross off any assisted living communities that don’t fit in that budget. If you’re relying on Medicare and/or Medicaid to cover any of your assisted living costs, you’ll want to make sure the assisted living community of your choice accepts one or both of those providers.

Ask Around

Checking online reviews is a great place to start, but they’re not entirely reliable for a variety of reasons (most people only leave reviews when they’ve had an exceptionally good or an exceptionally bad experience, which seriously skews the overall ratings, and some companies have been known to buy favorable reviews). So, you’re better off asking your neighbors, friends and family members if they know of any good assisted living communities or if they have friends or relatives of their own who are happy in an assisted living community – or if they’re unhappy and that way you know which ones to avoid.

You should also ask your doctor(s) if they can recommend any assisted living communities. They might only be able to continue seeing you as their patient if you choose an assisted living community with which they have an affiliation, so check with them to make sure you don’t end up in a community that doesn’t let you keep your doctor (whether because of contractual restrictions and/or geographical location).

Take a Tour

You don’t ever want to put your loved one in a place you haven’t seen with your own eyes. No matter how great the pictures look on their website, it’s always a good idea to go and have a look around yourself. Talk to the staff. Talk to other residents. Nothing beats physically visiting the place for yourself and getting a feel for it. Listen to your gut, and if anything feels off, you’ll know it’s time to move on with your search.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.

only child caregiverBeing a caregiver to aging parents is a tough job no matter how you look at it, but being an only child makes it that much more difficult. When you’re the only one your parent(s) can call on, it makes it that much easier for you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and to neglect your own needs. It’s a recipe for disaster for everyone involved, so we have some tips on how you can take care of yourself and maintain a sense of balance in your life as an only child caregiver.

  • Talk to Your Employer

If you’re the only one available to take care of your parents (whether because you have no siblings or because they all moved away), it can feel like the only option is to quit your job entirely in order to take care of your parents, but that’s not always the best move. In many cases, our parents need the most help when we’re in our 40s or 50s and at the height of our career, which makes taking a break from our career very damaging. Some people even end up taking money out of their own retirement account so they can cover their financial needs while they take care of their parents, but that puts their own retirement and long-term care needs at risk.

Instead, talk to your employer to see if they offer any Employee Assistance Programs to help pay for you to hire a care manager to help you make decisions about things like in-home care vs. assisted living for your parents.

There’s also the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal law that requires employers to hold jobs for workers who are taking care of sick or injured family members for a defined amount of time.

Respite care is another option. This is where you arrange for a friend, neighbor, family member, or in-home caregiver to take a shift while you take a day, or even just a few hours off to go take care of yourself. Whether that means doing chores around your own house, going to see a movie, or spending time with friends, it’s important to do whatever will give you energy to face your next shift as caregiver.

  • Have a Support Network

You might not even be aware of all the resources for support you have around you. Friends, family members and neighbors are all willing to jump in and help out at a moment’s notice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it because the response just might surprise you.

  • Use Volunteers

Not enough people know about all the volunteer organizations that are available to help out. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is one such volunteer organization that provides senior companion resources and other volunteer-based services designed to help caregivers with aging family members.

  • Consider Assisted Living

Despite the stigma that still exists around assisted living, it’s often the best option for seniors who are no longer fully capable of taking care of themselves. No matter how hard you try, there may come a time where you can’t do everything yourself, and that’s when it’s time to consider the benefits of assisted living. Not only do we help care for your loved one, we also provide a community of peers for them and resources for you to help you through the process. Call now to speak to one of our representatives about whether Stillwater Senior Living is right for your loved one.

Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.

CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.