What Kind of a Lifestyle Can I Expect in Senior Living?

What Kind of a Lifestyle Can I Expect in Senior LivingThere is a common misconception that moving into senior living means giving up all your freedom, when in fact the goal of senior living is the exact opposite. Senior living is designed to help people who struggle to perform the daily tasks necessary to take care of themselves continue to live their best life as they age. If you still find yourself wondering, “What, exactly, does that mean?” We are going to break down some of the aspects of senior living you can expect if you decide to move in.

Help with Daily Tasks

One of the most basic services senior living offers is help with daily tasks. Whether you need help doing laundry, washing dishes, or remembering to take your medication every day, the staff of senior living communities are there to help you with those tasks.

At the same time, we want our residents to maintain as much of their independence as possible, which means we help with the tasks you struggle with, but you continue performing the daily tasks that are still manageable for you. For example, if you need help preparing your meals, but have no problems washing dishes, we can help you cook, then leave you to enjoy your meal and clean up afterwards.

Transportation

Whether you need to run errands or just want to go visit friends and family, there is no reason that living in a senior living community should stop you from moving about as you please. Our residents at Stillwater Senior Living can drive themselves for as long as they are able to do so. For those who are no longer capable of driving, we provide transportation to get them anywhere they might need or want to go.

Social Activities

One of the biggest benefits of senior living communities is the chance to socialize with other people in your age group. Most senior living communities offer various classes and organized group activities that, not only keep you physically and mentally stimulated, but also make it easy for you to interact with your fellow senior living residents. Classes and group activities are a great way to break the ice and take the pressure off making new friends.

Exercise

Most senior living communities also offer opportunities for exercise, either on your own or as part of a group. Staying active only becomes more important as we get older, so residents of senior living communities are always encouraged to take advantage of their community’s gym and exercise classes as much as possible.

Pets

Your pets are members of your family, so every pet owner wants to know if they can take their pets with them when they move into senior living. The answer varies from one community to the next, so if taking your pet with you is important, that is something you will need to investigate before deciding which senior living community is right for you.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we love animals and encourage our residents to bring their pets along when they join our community. As far as we are concerned, once you join our community, so does your pet.

If you have any other questions about what it is like to live here, do not hesitate to reach out. We are always happy to chat.

Helping Loved Ones with Dementia Through the Holidays

Loved Ones with Dementia Through the HolidaysThe holidays can be stressful at the best of times, and if you have a loved one who is struggling with dementia, it can make getting through the end of the year that much harder. At the same time, you still want to enjoy the time you have left with your loved one, especially if there is a likelihood that this will be the last holiday season you get to enjoy with them.

The good news is you can have your cake and eat it too when celebrating the holidays with someone suffering from dementia, you just need to be willing to compromise in some areas and have a strategy going in. Here are some of our tips for enjoying the holidays with a loved one with dementia.

Let Go of Perfection

There is often a temptation to try to make the holidays perfect, but the first thing you need to realize is that there is no such thing as a perfect holiday. That is true every year, no matter what you have going on in your family, but it is especially true if you have a loved one with dementia. They are going to say and do inappropriate things, or they will fail to respond the way you want them to, and you and your guests need to understand and be OK with that.

Be Proactive About Involving Your Loved One with Dementia

One of the hardest things about going through dementia is knowing something is off, but not knowing what it is or what to do about it. It is an extremely frightening and frustrating experience, and it often causes those struggling with dementia to withdraw, making them feel lonely in addition to scared and frustrated.

Since the whole point of the holidays is to spend time together, be proactive about including your loved one in your holiday activities this year. Include them in conversations by asking them questions and reminiscing with them. Ask them to help with simple tasks so they can feel like they are contributing.

Be Patient with Your Loved One (and Yourself)

Know that there will be struggles, but getting frustrated will only exacerbate your loved one’s feelings of fear and frustration. Rather than losing patience with them, take a deep breath. Your loved one will have a hard time communicating, but if you do your best to anticipate their needs and pay attention to their words and body language, you stand a good chance of making it through the holidays without a meltdown.

Whether you have a loved one struggling with dementia at home with you or in an assisted living community, it can help to talk to someone who has been there and done that. We know all the best strategies to help you get along with loved ones suffering from dementia at any time of year, and we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to get the conversation started so we can help you and your loved one have a successful holiday season!

3 Tips for Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted Living

Making the Most of a Day Out with a Loved One Who Lives in Assisted LivingMany people are not aware that, if they have a family member who lives in assisted living, they can take that loved one out of assisted living to visit with friends and family, or just enjoy being out and about for a day. While there is a misconception that moving into assisted living means giving up your freedom, the truth is just the opposite – our job is to help you with the day-to-day tasks you currently struggle with so you can continue living life to the fullest, including going shopping and eating out. This is especially common as the holidays approach and residents of assisted living leave to spend time with their families.

If you are getting ready to take your loved one out of assisted living for a day and you are wondering how you can be sure to make the most of your time together, we have some tips for you.

1)   Get Updated on Medication Schedules

If your loved one is taking any medication, make sure you are up to date on everything they are taking and when they need to take what so you can remind them. This includes making sure you have all their medications before you leave, and definitely plan to stay out longer than you think you will be out. For example, if you expect to be back in time for them to take their mid-afternoon medication, take that medication with you anyway in case you get delayed. Better to be overstocked than to run into an issue where you need a medication you do not have on hand.

2)   Limit Your Activities

Getting out and walking around is a great way to get some exercise in, and while we are all for everyone (especially our residents) getting their daily exercise, it is important to keep in mind that older Americans tend to have lower energy levels and are less able to spend time on their feet than they once were, so make sure you plan plenty of breaks in your day out. For example, instead of shopping all day, you can plan to visit a few stores before stopping at a café to grab a snack and sit down for a while. Then you can visit a few more stores before going to a movie so you can sit and eat popcorn for a couple hours.

If you are doing a lot of shopping (for example, if you decide to take your family member out for some holiday shopping), make sure you have a plan for handling lots of heavy bags. This might mean you have to make frequent trips to your car to drop off packages before moving on to the next shop.

If you have not spent a significant amount of time with your loved one for a while, talk to the nurses before you leave about their activity level so you have an idea of how much activity they can handle before they need a break. And of course, keep an eye on your family member throughout the day. Even if they say they feel fine, pay attention if they are lagging behind you or the rest of the group, or if their breathing becomes labored.

 

This time of year, dressing appropriately means bringing layers. It might be cold enough to warrant a sweater in the morning, warm enough to ditch the sweater in the afternoon, then cool enough to wear a jacket in the evening. Take a look at the weather prediction before you head out and make sure you and your loved one have all the right clothing to keep you comfortable all day long, no matter what the weather decides to do.

Every assisted living community has their own rules and procedures when it comes to planning days out for their residents, so be sure to check with the assisted living community where your family member lives before you start making plans.

If you want to know what our policies are, just reach out to get the conversation started.

5 Benefits of Exercise for Older Americans

benefits of exerciseThe benefits of exercise in general are pretty well known, but exercise can be especially beneficial for older Americans as they age. If you are not familiar with the specific benefits exercise has to offer older Americans, here are some of the biggest reasons to stay active as long as possible.

1)   Boosts Immune Function

Most people know that we all tend to be more vulnerable to disease as we get older. While staying active cannot guarantee that you will never get sick, it has been proven to improve immune function and help your body fight off disease. Those who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick compared to their less active counterparts, and when they do get sick, the severity of their symptoms is usually much less than what their less active counterparts experience.

2)   Boosts Mood

When we feel better physically, we tend to feel better mentally. Not only does this improve our mood, but it also tends to be effective in combatting serious mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, both of which tend to affect older Americans at increasing rates.

3)   Boosts Balance

One of the things we worry about most with older Americans is that they will fall and suffer a serious injury. Regular exercise improves balance, making falls less likely.

4)   Builds Bone and Joint Strength

Strength training helps keep bones and joints strong. Not only does this allow older Americans to continue doing all kinds of things as they age (including lifting and carrying grandchildren), it also reduces the chances they will suffer a serious injury if they lose their balance and fall.

Joint pain is also a common complaint among older Americans and strength training is a great way to build and maintain strong joints and tendons, as well as reduce inflammation, so joint pain becomes a thing of the past.

You do not need heavy weights for strength training. Squats and pushups will do the trick, even if you have to do your pushups on your knees.

5)   Social Engagement

Working out alone is always an option, but most of us find we are more likely to exercise if we have a buddy. Not only can our workout buddy hold us accountable to our exercise goals, they can also make the process of working out more enjoyable. The only thing better than a walk in the woods or a bike ride along the water is a walk or bike ride with a friend to share the journey.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to providing our residents with plenty of opportunities for exercise, both inside and outside. Whether our residents want to exercise on their own or with a group of other residents, inside or outside, we can accommodate their needs. If you want to know more about our residents’ exercise options (or any other aspect of living here at Stillwater Senior Living) we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to schedule your free consultation.

Benefits of Playing Card Games with Older Americans

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

Promotes Socialization

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

Stress Reduction

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

Improved Memory and Cognition

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

Enhanced Motor Skills

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

Improves Immune Function

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

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

The Importance of Managing Weight in Older Americans, Plus Tips

Managing Weight in Older Americans,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.

Mobility

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.

Diabetes

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.

Inflammation

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.

Regular Exercise

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.

Portion Control

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.

Diet

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.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Assisted Living

Factors to Consider When Choosing Assisted LivingIf 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.

Staff

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.

Services

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.

 

How to Use Technology to Improve Your Relationship with the Older Americans in Your Life

Use Technology to Improve Your Relationship with the Older AmericansOne 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.

Sharing Photos

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.

Do I Need Assisted Living or Memory Care?

assisted living or memory careThere 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.

What Should Seniors Be Drinking to Stay Healthy?

dehydration in seniorsStaying hydrated is critical for staying healthy, especially for seniors. Dehydration can lead to a variety of other health problems, including headache, dizziness and lightheadedness, fatigue, and confusion. It can be hard enough for most of us to remember to drink our eight glasses of water every day, and it can be especially challenging for seniors who often do not feel thirsty until they are already suffering from dehydration.

To prevent that from happening, here are a few beverage ideas you can give seniors to keep them hydrated.

Water

Water is always the best option, and sometimes the best way to prevent dehydration is simply to have water readily available at all times. If you notice your loved one has not had anything to drink for a while, offer to get them a glass of water, or remind them they already have water if there is a full glass sitting in front of them. Sometimes that is all it takes to remind them they are thirsty and to prompt them to take a drink.

If your loved one finds still water by itself to be too bland, sparkling water is a great option for making water seem like a treat. Add a squirt of lemon juice and it can be so refreshing your loved one will sip it all day long.

Orange Juice

In addition to being a healthy fluid your loved one can get into their body, orange juice is also a great source of vitamin C, which can help boost their immune system so they can stay healthy all year long. Just remember to buy orange juice that has not had any sugar added to prevent a spike in blood sugar.

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is another tasty option your loved one can drink all day long. Like orange juice, grapefruit juice is packed with vitamin C, but also like orange juice, it can be high in sugar, so whenever possible, you should buy grapefruit juice that has no added sugar.

Unsweetened Green Tea

Many older Americans got into the habit of drinking coffee or black tea all day long, but caffeine is a diuretic that can leave you more dehydrated than hydrated. Instead of coffee or black tea, try to get your loved one to drink green tea. It is low in caffeine and full of antioxidants so it can boost their immune system while keeping them hydrated. As with juices, buy unsweetened green tea whenever you can to avoid excess sugar.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we keep nutritionists on staff to make sure our residents get all the nutrients they need to keep their bodies as strong as possible for as long as possible, and that includes making sure they stay hydrated. Whether that means they have ready access to water at all times or offering healthy alternatives to water that will keep them hydrated and nourished, we cater to each resident’s individual preferences and nutritional needs. If you have any questions about the care we provide, feel free to reach out to have a conversation.