3 Ways to Make Assisted Living Less Scary for Your Loved One This Fall

relocating your aging parentsThe 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.

3 Ways to Celebrate National Assisted Living Week

national assisted living weekNational 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.

Share Photos

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.

Signs and Symptoms of Sundown Syndrome

sundown syndromeSundown 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.

Agitation

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.

Restlessness

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.

Confusion

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.

Suspiciousness

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.

4 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

caregiver burnoutBeing 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.

4 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

dehydration in seniorsThe summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, but it also poses certain risks we don’t encounter throughout the rest of the year. In addition to heat stroke, you also have to worry about dehydration, sun burn (which can cause skin cancer), and bug bites, just to name a few. Older Americans are often more vulnerable than others when it comes to things like dehydration and heat stroke, so if you’re caring for (or just going on vacation with) some older Americans, use these tips to help keep them safe this summer.

  • Keep Hydrated

The first and most important thing to be aware of is their hydration level. Older Americans are less likely to feel thirst, even when they’re losing water, so it’s important to stay on top of their hydration and make sure they’re drinking water regularly. Always make sure they have water handy, especially if they’re spending time outside in the heat. Keep track of whether they’re drinking their water, and if you notice it’s been a while since they’ve taken a drink, suggest they sip some water. Sometimes just the suggestion is enough to remind someone they’re thirsty and that it’s been a while since they’ve had a drink.

  • Stay Inside in the Middle of the Day

The sun is at its brightest (and most damaging) from 10 am to about 2 pm, while the middle of the afternoon tends to be the hottest part of the day. So when it comes to enjoying some time outside in the summer months, you’re better off enjoying the book ends: early morning and evening. Sunrises and sunsets are both beautiful and they’re great times to be outside, but don’t let your older American stare at the sun for too long, which brings us to our next point.

  • Preserve Their Vision

Direct sunlight is very hard on the eyes, so it’s important to protect them with sunglasses, as well as hats with bills or wide brims. If you’re watching the sunrise or sunset with an older American, make sure they’re wearing sunglasses and remind them to look away from the sun every now and then. If you’re out in the middle of the day, make sure they have a hat with either a bill or a wide brim, which will both protect their eyes from the sun and provide shade to help keep them cool, which provides a nice segue into our next point.

  • Watch for Heat Stroke

Older Americans have a harder time regulating their body temperature, so it is particularly important to protect them from the heat whenever possible, and watch for signs of heat stroke, which include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and high body temperature. If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, seek immediate medical attention.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we’re committed to keeping our residents safe throughout the year, come rain or shine. If you have any questions about our programs or the care we provide, reach out now to start a conversation.

How Our Nutrition Needs Change as We Age

Nutrition Needs Change as We AgeWe all want to stay healthy as we age, but there’s no denying that staying healthy gets increasingly difficult the older we get. Older Americans are more likely to get sick and injured than their younger counterparts and a big part of that has to do with their diet. Even people who made an effort to eat healthy all their lives might still suffer increased health risks as they age and their nutritional needs change. Let’s take a look at some of the most common health problems faced by older Americans and how nutrition might play a role.

Atrophic Gastritis

Atrophic gastritis is a condition faced by approximately 20% of older Americans. It’s characterized by a reduced level of stomach acid as a result of chronic inflammation in the cells that produce stomach acid.

Reduced stomach acid can lead to a reduced ability to absorb nutrients, specifically vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Atrophic gastritis can be treated with medication, but for anyone not yet diagnosed with atrophic gastritis (or any other inflammatory disease) who thinks they might be at risk, it’s a good idea to try to stick to a diet that’s low in inflammatory ingredients, specifically alcohol, sugar, refined grains, and dairy.

Calories vs. Nutrients

Another challenge of aging is that, as we age, we need fewer calories to survive, making it more difficult to get all the nutrients we need.

The solution to this problem is to eat a variety of nutrient dense, whole foods and take supplements as needed to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Remember to consult with your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your diet, medication, or adding any new supplements to your regimen.

Protein

In addition to losing bone mass, many people also tend to lose muscle mass as they age, which is one reason they tend to need fewer calories to get through the day than they needed when they were younger, had more muscle mass, and were more active.

Reduced muscle mass is a contributing factor to weakness in older Americans, which, in turn, is more likely to lead to fractures and other injuries.

The solution is to eat more protein, combined with strength-training exercises to help prevent the loss of strength and muscle mass.

Calcium and Vitamin D

You probably already know that bone loss, also known as osteoporosis, is a common problem among older Americans (especially women) and is a leading cause of fractures and broken bones. You might know that calcium is an important ingredient in building strong bones, but did you know that Vitamin D is just as important? Vitamin D is needed to carry calcium from the blood stream to the bones, so a full dose of calcium won’t do any good without the requisite amount of Vitamin D.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we make sure every resident has access to healthy, nutritious foods. We have a weekly menu, but adjustments can always be made for residents with specific dietary needs. Reach out now if you have any questions about our menu or any other aspect of our assisted living community.

Who Benefits from Assisted Living?

benefits of assisted living

There are a lot of misconceptions about assisted living, and while many of those misconceptions tend to focus on the perceived drawbacks of assisted living, the benefits of assisted living also tend to get overlooked. Specifically, people don’t always talk about who can benefit from assisted living, which is too bad because the answer is much more specific than just “old people.”

We’re going to clear up some of those misconceptions in this article, not only by going over the benefits assisted living provides, but by explaining who benefits from assisted living.

People with Arthritis Can Benefit from Assisted Living

Arthritis is much more than a mild annoyance that comes with getting older. Not only can it become extremely painful, but it can be debilitating, preventing range of movement, which inhibits those affected from being able to perform all sorts of daily tasks.

Assisted living helps those with arthritis by taking care of those daily tasks for them so they can still have food, clean clothes, and clean living quarters, no matter how their range of motion is affected by their arthritis.

People Who Are Isolated Can Benefit from Assisted Living

One of the most important benefits of assisted living that gets overlooked is the social aspect. As we age, our friends and peers die off and our children move out and build lives of their own. As many as 35% of adults aged 45 and older report feeling lonely, and their risk of loneliness and social isolation only increases as they age. Those feelings of being cut off from society and loved ones lead to an increased risk of depression and associated mental disorders, as well as chronic illness.

By contrast, not only are people in assisted living checked up on by staff and nurses, they are also surrounded by their peers, many of whom have been through and are going through similar life events. Assisted living communities also tend to organize social events for their residents to encourage them to get out of their rooms and mingle with other residents, thereby fostering their personal relationships and mental wellbeing.

Family Can Benefit from Assisted Living

While there are certainly many benefits to being a caregiver, especially to a loved one, there’s no denying that it can also be stressful and overwhelming. For those already juggling kids and a career, taking on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one isn’t always an option, and that’s where assisted living can help.

We can make sure a staff of professionals are caring for your loved one around the clock so you can continue to show up in all the other aspects of your life. By letting us take the burden of caregiving off your shoulders, you’ll also be better able to enjoy the time you spend visiting your loved one because it can be spent on quality time, rather than trying to make sure you’re providing the care they need.

If you’ve been considering assisted living, but you’re not sure if it’s right for you or your loved one, reach out now so we can start a conversation about the benefits we provide to our residents and their families at Stillwater Senior Living.

What Is Elder Law and How Can It Help You?

elder lawAs if all the complications of aging weren’t confusing enough on their own, now there’s another thing to deal with: elder law. What is it? How can you tell if you need it?

Rather than making things more confusing, the goal of elder law is actually to simplify the process by guiding people through many of the most complicated aspects of aging. Elder law is not a specific brand of the law by itself. Instead, it covers a broad range of topics generally faced by older Americans, including healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid, estate planning, probate, power of attorney, etc. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important aspects of the law covered by elder law and how you can use it to your advantage as you and your loved ones age.

Elder Law Can Help You Navigate Healthcare

The American healthcare system is confusing even when you’re in your prime and require little or no medical attention. As we age, not only do we need more care, but the process of getting that care gets increasingly complicated. Instead of just dealing with one health insurance provider, you might have to navigate Medicare and/or Medicaid, as well as any health insurance company providing supplemental insurance.

Then there’s long-term care insurance, which can help pay for things like in-home healthcare or assisted living.

The simplest way to cover these costs is simply to pay out of pocket, but that option is too pricey for many people, in which case a qualified elder law attorney can help them navigate all the steps required to get the coverage they need.

Elder Law Can Help You with Your Estate Planning

Our estate planning needs also tend to change as we age. While a qualified financial planner can help protect your assets from taxes so your dependents and beneficiaries aren’t left with a tax burden when you’re gone, as we get older, we’re more likely to need long-term care and/or assisted living, and that’s where elder law comes in. Elder law takes a more holistic approach to your finances by helping you set aside funds and assets for your loved ones while making sure your healthcare needs are not neglected.

Too many people make the mistake of assuming they’ll never need long-term care or assisted living, and they fail to account for it in their financial planning. Elder law can help prevent you from making that mistake to ensure both you and your loved ones are covered.

Elder Law Can Help You Navigate Power of Attorney

Your power of attorney is the person capable of making financial and medical decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making them yourself, but there are different kinds of power of attorney. In addition to helping you make sure only someone you trust is granted your power of attorney, elder law can also help you protect your ability to make decisions for yourself as much as possible. For example, a “springing” power of attorney means the rights of your durable power of attorney don’t lock down until certain requirements have been met, such as a specific medical diagnosis.

If you have questions about elder law and/or assisted living, we’re happy to help. Reach out now to start a conversation.

The Benefits of Meditation for Seniors

Meditation for SeniorsWhat started out as a fringe practice used by a few to maintain a sense of calm has become widely adopted, with scientific evidence to support the idea that it provides many more benefits than just helping you calm down when you’re stressed. While meditating regularly provides benefits to people of all ages, it can be particularly beneficial to seniors. So, whether you’re an older American and/or you have loved ones who are older Americans, consider these benefits when thinking about adding meditation to your daily routine … or convincing them to add meditation to their routine.

Delays the Onset of Dementia

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, or any other form of dementia, but studies show that, by meditating regularly, we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because meditation is a way of clearing the mind of distracting thoughts, it’s also a way to increase focus, which requires an increase in brain activity. By “exercising” the brain with meditation, we can delay some of the brain cell death that results from of a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s similar to the way other mentally stimulating activities, such as gardening and crossword puzzles, also help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common symptom of aging, and a dangerous precursor to things like stroke and heart attack. By actively meditating for a few minutes every day, seniors can keep their blood pressure under control. It’s not a replacement for blood pressure medication, but it’s a great addition to any routine prescribed by a doctor to get and keep your blood pressure down to a healthy level. As with Alzheimer’s/dementia, meditation might not cure you of your high blood pressure, but with regular practice, it might be able to delay the need for medication for a while.

Reduces Your Risk of Contracting a Stress-Related Illness

Many of the most common chronic illnesses are at least partially due to stress. We mentioned high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension), but other illnesses, such as high cholesterol and diabetes also seem to have roots in stress, at least to an extent. Meditation can’t necessarily cure you, but when practiced regularly, it can delay the onset of stress-related illnesses, and help mitigate the effects of a stress-related illness after you’ve already started showing symptoms.

Increases Energy and Boosts Your Immune System

By helping you stay calm, meditation can help keep your cortisol levels low. Cortisol is the hormone produced and released by your body when you’re under stress. It’s also known as the “fight-or-flight” hormone, but with many of us feeling stressed in ways that involve neither fighting nor fleeing, we end up in a near-constant state of stress, which means our body is pumping out cortisol continuously. Since cortisol inhibits the immune system’s ability to respond to threats to the body, those of us who constantly feel stressed are significantly more likely to get sick than those who meditate on a regular basis.

Meditating is just one brain exercise that provides health benefits to seniors, and as experts in assisted living, we don’t stop at meditating. Our new memory care wing has a host of mental activities to help mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you want to know what else we do to keep our residents safe and healthy, don’t hesitate to reach out.

4 Ways to Celebrate Love in Assisted Living

celebrate love in assisted livingCelebrating Valentine’s Day in assisted living can be challenging at the best of times, and let’s face it, these are not the best of times. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate love and the people who matter most to us. This year we have some ideas as to how you can celebrate love with those closest to your heart, even if they’re in assisted living and you have to physically keep your distance.

  • Send Them Gifts

You might not be able to give them gifts in person, but you can still send them a care package. Whether it’s the traditional box of chocolates, something new they’ve had their eye on, or a box of their favorite homemade cookies, sending them a gift is the perfect way to let them know you’re thinking of them and they’re still as special to you as ever.

  • Call Them

Just because you can’t visit them in person doesn’t mean you can’t give them a chance to hear your voice, and that can mean more than you might realize. Sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call really is all it takes to lift someone’s spirits and make them feel connected to you (and for you to feel connected to them). You don’t have to talk about anything big, so don’t feel like you should only call when you have major news to share. It’s often sharing the small events of day-to-day life that really bring people together, so don’t hesitate to call them just because you’re thinking of them.

If your loved one can manage a Zoom call or FaceTime, even better. It can’t match meeting up in person, but it’s as close as we can get these days, so use video chat to connect with your loved one whenever possible.

  • Send Photos

Sending photos of you and your family is also a great way to help your loved ones in assisted living feel connected to you and the rest of the family, especially if you have kids. Grandparents always love seeing photos of their grandkids, especially given how fast they grow. Video conferences are great, but sending a physical photo gives them something they can hold onto and keep, and if you do it regularly, they’ll get to see their grandchildren’s progress as they look over their photo collection.

  • Send Gift Cards

You might not be able to take your loved one out to lunch or dinner for Valentine’s Day this year, but you can send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant, especially if it’s a restaurant that’s doing deliveries. That way your loved one can order their favorite meal as a special treat and know you were thinking of them.

If you want more ideas for expressing love and gratitude to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to reach out to get some recommendations directly from the experts. You can also ask us what we’re doing here at Stillwater Senior Living to celebrate love with our residents.

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

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