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.

Father’s Day In Assisted Living: 4 Ways to Say, “Thanks Dad!”

father's dayFinding just the right way to thank your dad for everything he’s done for you over the years is never easy, but it seems like it gets harder as the years go on. Remember when he was happy just to have you draw a picture or make macaroni art for him? Chances are good that those days are long gone, so if your art skills never improved and you’re struggling to come up with ways to show Dad just how much he means to you, we have some suggestions for you.

  • Take a Hike

If your dad likes getting out and about, then make some time to do just that with him on Father’s Day this year. If he’s a nature lover, find some local hiking trails you can explore with him or a natural history museum. If he’s a history buff, see if there are any historical sites nearby you haven’t visited with him yet (or at least haven’t visited recently).

Even just a walk through your local mall or downtown shopping area can be a great way to spend some time with Dad this Father’s Day. You can grab lunch, see a movie, do some shopping, or just watch the people go by.

  • Watch TV

If he’s a sports fan and his favorite sports team happens to be playing that day, just the simple act of watching a game with your father can be incredibly rewarding. If he’s not into sports, bring his favorite movie or some episodes of his favorite TV show so you can all enjoy it together. Alternatively, you can bring a new movie or TV show he hasn’t seen yet, but checks off all the boxes of things he normally likes to watch so you can enjoy it together and introduce him to something new. It also makes for a great conversation starter if you’re looking for something to talk about over a meal.

  • Large Print Playing Cards

If your dad loves playing cards, but his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, a stack of large print playing cards might be just the thing to make his Father’s Day this year. You can help him break in the deck by playing a few games with him on Father’s Day, but it’s also something he can use again and again, either to pass the time by himself or to help him make new friends with some of his fellow residents in assisted living.

  • Get Him His Favorite Foods

Whether it’s a certain homemade meal or a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant, good food is always a great gift. It’s an experience that’s greatly appreciated, and because it’s eaten and then gone, it doesn’t take up much space for the dad who has downsized to a smaller living area.

In addition to taking care of our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing all year long, we’re also available to help their families plan festivities with their loved one throughout the year. Whether you’re planning on taking Dad out for some Father’s Day adventures, or just keeping it chill and staying in, we can help you plan the perfect Father’s Day.

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.

What Does Memory Care Entail?

memory careMost people are familiar with the idea of nursing homes and assisted living, but what about memory care? Some (but not all) assisted living communities offer memory care, and some (but not all) nursing homes offer memory care. So, what’s the difference? How do you know when to look for memory care, and what should you look for when researching your options for memory care?

Specially Trained Staff

Any time you’re looking for assisted living, one of the first things you need to look at is the training of the staff who will be taking care of your loved one. This is true regardless of whether you need memory care, but it’s especially important if your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia because extra precautions will need to be taken to keep them safe, calm, and happy.

Memory care also requires ongoing training, so it’s not enough for staff to have gone through memory care training once a few years ago. When researching your options for memory care, make sure they have a system for continuously training their staff, not only to remind them of best practices, but to help them keep up to date with new developments in the world of memory care.

You should also make sure that the relevant training extends beyond just the nurses – every member of the staff who interacts with residents, including janitorial and maintenance staff, need to be trained on how to interact with memory care residents to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort.

Staff-to-Resident Ratio

A lower staff-to-resident ratio is always desirable because it means more attention can be paid to your loved one’s needs, but it’s especially important to keep that ratio low in memory care because residents with dementia require a higher level of attention and care than other assisted living residents. So, while you’re asking about the staff training provided, you should also ask about the staff-to-resident ratio and make sure it’s at a level with which you’re comfortable.

24-Hour Supervised Care

While assisted living usually requires a fairly low level of care – making sure residents remember to take medication, helping with certain daily tasks, etc. – memory care requires a much higher level of care and supervision. Not only do residents with dementia require a higher level of attention and supervision to make sure they don’t wander off, but they also require more care as the disease progresses and they start to lose some of their physical capabilities, as well as their mental capacity.

Cognitive Treatments and Therapies

While there is no cure for dementia, certain cognitive treatments and therapies have been shown to slow the progression of the disease, so make sure the memory care provider is up to date with all the relevant cognitive treatments and therapies, and that they provide them to their residents.

Stillwater Senior Living is proud to announce the opening of its brand new memory care wing! If you’re looking for memory care for your loved one, reach out now to ask about availability.

Memory Care and the Arts

memory care and the artsThere’s a reason arts and crafts are so popular in assisted living communities: art provides a great opportunity for us to express ourselves outside of normal conversation, and in many cases, art can provide an ice breaker that starts stimulating conversations. Everyone can (and should) take advantage of the opportunity art provides, but it can be especially beneficial for patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

One of the most frustrating aspects of dementia (for both patients and their loved ones) is the loss of their ability to remember words and use language to communicate what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. Art can provide a much-needed release for patients who are struggling to express themselves in other ways.

Crafts are a great option for assisted living communities because they’re fairly inexpensive and can be done in groups, either with instructions to create something specific, or with room for each participant to make something entirely their own. But crafts aren’t the only form of art available to those in need of memory care – painting, music, interior decorating, even cooking and baking can be forms of art with an immense amount of potential for helping patients suffering from memory loss.

Cooking

Our sense of taste and smell (especially smell) are closely connected to memory. Have you ever smelled something you ate regularly when you were a kid and the scent immediately brought back memories of your childhood?

It can have the same effect on those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s – they might not be 100% sure where they are or who they’re with right now, but help them whip up a batch of their favorite dish and they can tell you all about how they learned to make it, who taught them, what season it was, how they perfected the recipe over the years, etc. Food is a great way to bring back to life memory care residents who might otherwise appear listless and uninterested in the things going on around them.

Music

Music can provide another great opportunity for memory care residents to express themselves, regardless of their abilities. Whether they prefer to sing, dance, or just tap out a beat on a tabletop, there’s almost always an opportunity for them to participate in whatever way they feel comfortable.

Like food, music is also closely tied with memory. Have you ever heard a song you listened to over and over when you were in high school and the opening notes immediately brought you back to high school dances, road trips, whatever you were doing when you listened to that song growing up?

It often works the same way for residents of memory care, and just like food can prompt specific memories, music can also provide an opportunity for you to ask your loved one about the first time they heard that song – what they were doing, what they were feeling, and whom they were with.

At Stillwater Senior Living, we strive to make every resident’s time here as comfortable and stress free as possible, regardless of their abilities. Reach out now to ask us how we keep our residents engaged through every stage of the aging process. Watch this video to get a sneak peak of our Memory Care Neighborhood!

How To Talk to Your Parents About Living Wills and Power of Attorney

talk to your parents about power of attorneyIt’s never an easy conversation. You don’t want to think about the possibility your parents could be left helpless, and they often don’t want to think about it either. But avoiding the possibility doesn’t do any good when an accident or sudden illness could strike at any time, leaving them incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. It’s a painful thought to consider, but by taking the time now to think about your options and discuss what your parents would want if the worst were to happen, you can save everyone a significant amount of pain and agony later on down the road.

Since bringing up the topic with your parents can be easier said than done, we have some tips to help you get started.

Make It About Life

It’s easy to think of these conversations as being about death, but if you switch it around, it can be easier for everyone to manage. Instead of asking your parents how they want to die, ask them under what conditions they would no longer want to live. Make the conversation about respecting life, rather than focusing on death.

Make It Personal

It can be hard for people to think about these things in general terms, which is why using an example can be so powerful. If you know someone who recently had to make tough decisions for their parents, either personally or from a news story, use that as an example of something that could happen to your parents. Talking about a specific example can help clarify things for both you and your parents, so take advantage of any real-life examples of which you’ve been made aware.

Timing Is Everything

There are some conversations that are never easy to get through, but sometimes the simple matter of timing it right can make all the difference. In the section above, we mentioned the importance of using real-world examples, so if you and your parents have recently heard about someone you know, or someone in the news who went through a situation that required a living will and a power of attorney, that could be a good time to say, “By the way, what would you want us to do if you were in that situation?” Or “Who’s your power of attorney?”

If your parents are going through a life transition, such as retiring and/or downsizing, that could also be a good time to bring it up because it’s probably already on their minds.

Get It in Writing

The good news is that having the discussion is the hardest part, but you’re not done yet. If you don’t get it in writing, then if something does happen to leave them incapacitated, you’ll still have a legal nightmare on your hands. Even if everyone is involved in the conversation, without putting it down in writing, you’re relying on memory and everyone’s memories of the conversation are bound to be a little different. The only way you can be sure you’re abiding by your parents’ wishes is to get them in writing.

Don’t forget that assisted living should also be a part of the conversation. Reach out now if you have any questions about how we help our clients live their best lives in their golden years. We’re here to put your mind at ease.

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 to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

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

What Are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

stages of alzheimer'sAlzheimer’s is a progressive disease that starts with few, if any, symptoms and works its way towards severe impairment of cognitive, and even physical abilities before the patient dies of the disease. Although it’s important to remember that Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, it can be helpful to understand the five main stages of Alzheimer’s disease if you or someone you love has been diagnosed, so you can have an idea of what to expect.

Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease

The first stage of Alzheimer’s is called “preclinical” because the disease starts to affect the brain long before any symptoms appear. In some cases, it can go on for years, or even decades, before the patient starts to show symptoms.

This stage of the disease is characterized by deposits in the brain of amyloid-beta, a protein that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to new imaging technology, we can now see deposits of amyloid-beta building up in the brain before symptoms appear or parts of the brain start to decay. Because patients in this stage of the disease do not have symptoms, this phase can be identified only in research trials, but it might become key to diagnosing the disease in patients before they show symptoms.

Genetic testing can also be done to give patients an estimate of their likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) Due to Alzheimer’s Disease

The second stage of Alzheimer’s disease also tends to go undiagnosed because the symptoms are usually mild enough to either go unnoticed or they get attributed to something else. At this point, the symptoms are not severe enough to affect the patient’s work or interpersonal relationships, which makes it less likely that someone will report them to a doctor.

People with MCI tend to have trouble remembering appointments or pieces of conversation. Their judgment might also be impaired, making it harder for them to judge how long it will take to complete a task, or to remember the necessary steps to complete a task and the order in which those steps need to be taken.

Even when MCI becomes noticeable, patients with Alzheimer’s disease often go undiagnosed during this stage because MCI can be caused by other things. If the symptoms do warrant medical attention, a diagnosis is dependent on a doctor’s judgment based on their professional review. But, if necessary, the same imaging technology used to diagnose Alzheimer’s in the preclinical stage can be used to identify it in the MCI stage.

Mild Dementia Due to Alzheimer’s Disease

The symptoms in this stage tend to be severe enough to alert friends and family to the fact that something is wrong, so this is the stage when most patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. People with mild dementia might experience one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Memory loss of recent events – this is when people can’t remember something that just happened, or they ask the same question over and over.
  • Impaired judgment, impaired problem-solving abilities, and difficulty performing complex tasks – this is when certain tasks that used to be routine, such as balancing a checkbook or planning an event, suddenly become overwhelming.
  • Personality changes – People who were formerly outgoing might suddenly become withdrawn or subdued. Mild-mannered people might show uncharacteristic flares of anger or irritability. Less motivation to complete tasks is also typical in this stage.
  • Organizing and expressing thoughts becomes more difficult – People often have trouble finding the right words to express their ideas, or even to identify or describe objects.
  • Getting lost or misplacing things – People might start having more trouble finding their way around, even in familiar surroundings. It’s also common for them to lose or misplace items, even valuable ones.

Moderate Dementia Due to Alzheimer’s Disease

People in this stage of the disease usually begin to need help with daily tasks and self-care as they become more confused and forgetful.

This is also when significant changes in personality and behavior tend to appear, and it’s common for people in this stage of the disease to become suspicious. They might become convinced that family members or caregivers are stealing from them, or that a spouse is having an affair.

Hallucinations have also been known to happen in this stage of the disease.

Severe Dementia Due to Alzheimer’s Disease

In the last stage of the disease, the brain has degenerated to the point of impairing physical abilities, including the ability to communicate coherently. People in this stage of the disease need help with self-care, including eating, dressing, and bathing. They may even need help walking, sitting up, and/or holding their head up. In the final stages of the disease, they lose the ability to swallow or control their own bladder or bowel movements.

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 to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

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

What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?


Alzheimer’s and dementiaMany people talk about Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the differences between the two. They both involve a decline in mental faculties, including memory, communication, and the ability to perform daily tasks. That said, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not interchangeable, so we’re going to go over the differences between them.

Syndrome vs Disease

Dementia is a broad term that is used to describe a wide range of diseases and symptoms, and it can be caused by a variety of conditions – Alzheimer’s just happens to be the most common one.

Alzheimer’s is short for Alzheimer’s Disease, and while it is a form of dementia, dementia itself is not a disease – it’s a syndrome. While patients need a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, there is no diagnosis of dementia. Dementia is defined as a group of symptoms that affect the person’s mental faculties, but there is no definitive diagnosis of dementia.

Age

Although dementia and Alzheimer’s are both associated with old age, young and middle-aged people have been known to show symptoms of both dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s also important to remember that neither one is considered a normal part of aging.

Mixed Dementia

People can have more than one type of dementia at one time. This is known as mixed dementia, and is usually caused by the person having multiple conditions that contribute to dementia. Unlike Alzheimer’s, mixed dementia can only be diagnosed by autopsy.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

Alzheimer’s and dementia have some symptoms in common, which is the main reason people tend to get them confused. They both involve impaired mental faculties, particularly when it comes to memory and communication, and they can both lead to behavioral changes, often fueled by confusion and frustration.

But Alzheimer’s has some symptoms that dementia does not, mostly pertaining to mood swings and behavioral changes. However, in the most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, patients can lose the ability to walk, speak, and even swallow as the parts of their brain that control those motions decay, which does not happen with dementia.

Causes of Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

One of the biggest differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia is their causes. While Alzheimer’s is largely genetic, dementia can be caused by a combination of genetics and/or an infection, such as HIV, metabolic disorders/hypoglycemia/tumors, depression and/or chronic drug use, and vascular disease and/or stroke.

Treatment

Because dementia and Alzheimer’s have different causes, the treatments for each depend on what’s causing the problem. There is some overlap in the way they’re both treated, but there are also some key differences.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, although there are drugs to treat the symptoms, namely antipsychotics, drugs to help with the memory loss, sleep, and depression and mood swings. Alternative treatments include fish oil or coconut oil, both of which have been shown to boost overall cognitive function.

Some forms of dementia can be cured, depending on the cause. If the cause is genetic, as with Alzheimer’s, then there isn’t much hope (yet). If, on the other hand, the dementia is caused by something else, then treating the root cause often does result in improved symptoms of dementia. Tumors, hypoglycemia, drug use, and metabolic disorders are some of the causes of dementia that respond best to treatment.

If you have any other questions about Alzheimer’s or dementia, we’re happy to help.

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 to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.

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