The holidays can be stressful at the best of times, and if you have a loved one who is struggling with dementia, it can make getting through the end of the year that much harder. At the same time, you still want to enjoy the time you have left with your loved one, especially if there is a likelihood that this will be the last holiday season you get to enjoy with them.
The good news is you can have your cake and eat it too when celebrating the holidays with someone suffering from dementia, you just need to be willing to compromise in some areas and have a strategy going in. Here are some of our tips for enjoying the holidays with a loved one with dementia.
Let Go of Perfection
There is often a temptation to try to make the holidays perfect, but the first thing you need to realize is that there is no such thing as a perfect holiday. That is true every year, no matter what you have going on in your family, but it is especially true if you have a loved one with dementia. They are going to say and do inappropriate things, or they will fail to respond the way you want them to, and you and your guests need to understand and be OK with that.
Be Proactive About Involving Your Loved One with Dementia
One of the hardest things about going through dementia is knowing something is off, but not knowing what it is or what to do about it. It is an extremely frightening and frustrating experience, and it often causes those struggling with dementia to withdraw, making them feel lonely in addition to scared and frustrated.
Since the whole point of the holidays is to spend time together, be proactive about including your loved one in your holiday activities this year. Include them in conversations by asking them questions and reminiscing with them. Ask them to help with simple tasks so they can feel like they are contributing.
Be Patient with Your Loved One (and Yourself)
Know that there will be struggles, but getting frustrated will only exacerbate your loved one’s feelings of fear and frustration. Rather than losing patience with them, take a deep breath. Your loved one will have a hard time communicating, but if you do your best to anticipate their needs and pay attention to their words and body language, you stand a good chance of making it through the holidays without a meltdown.
Whether you have a loved one struggling with dementia at home with you or in an assisted living community, it can help to talk to someone who has been there and done that. We know all the best strategies to help you get along with loved ones suffering from dementia at any time of year, and we are always happy to chat. Reach out now to get the conversation started so we can help you and your loved one have a successful holiday season!
Art therapy offers a lot of great opportunities for self-expression and working through your emotions. Besides, who does not like playing with colors and a blank canvas? There are few things more relaxing, but art therapy offers some distinct benefits for older Americans, so we will go over some of them now.
1) Stress Reduction
Playing with colors and a blank canvas is a very soothing activity. You do not need to be the next Picasso. You do not even need to know what your creation is going to end up being. You just need to move the paint brush (or pencil, or marker, or even crayon) back and forth using whatever colors speak to you. Even coloring books have proven to be effective at reducing stress and enhancing creativity.
When stress is reduced, general levels of happiness and well-being tend to go up. Sleep tends to improve, and that alone tends to improve mood, as well as immune function. We are not saying that art therapy is a cure-all for whatever ails you, but when used in conjunction with other types of therapy, you might be amazed at the results you can get.
2) Enhanced Self-Expression
Art is a form of self-expression, and it can be especially beneficial to older Americans who are losing their ability to speak or follow a conversation due to stroke and/or dementia. If they get frustrated trying to find the right word, they might find drawing or painting a much easier way to express themselves, which also helps to reduce stress.
3) Improved Cognitive Function
Using shapes and colors as a form of self-expression requires a unique set of neural pathways, which means art therapy is a great way to develop and strengthen new neural pathways. This can help improve overall cognitive function, including memory, so if you or a loved one has been considering art therapy, you have plenty of reasons to try it, especially if impaired cognitive function is a factor.
4) Enhanced Motor Skills
Drawing and painting both require fine motor skills, which means art therapy is a great way to develop and strengthen those motor skills.
5) Increased Social Interaction
Art therapy can help to promote social interaction in a variety of ways. The first is that art therapy is usually taught as a class, which gives participants the opportunity to compare their work and their experiences of the class.
Because art therapy also provides an avenue of self-expression, as well as improved cognitive function, participants are better able to communicate with their peers, which makes them more likely to engage in social interaction. Since loneliness is a major cause of depression among older Americans, something that can improve their social interaction should always be encouraged.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to providing our residents with the best possible care for their minds as well as their bodies. If you have any questions about any of the services we offer, we would love to chat with you. Reach out now to start a conversation.
If you have a loved one who needs assisted living, of course you only want the best for them, but how can you determine which is the best assisted living community for them? Depending on where you live, you might have several assisted living communities to choose from, so to help make your decision easier, we have some factors you should consider when choosing an assisted living community.
Location, Location, Location
If you live in a different state from the loved one who needs assisted living, you might want to look for an assisted living community near them, so they do not have to move far. On the other hand, you might be better off moving them to an assisted living community near you so you can visit regularly and keep up to date with their progress. Either way, you need to decide where your loved one will be better off before you start looking for an assisted living community for them.
The staff are the people who will be directly responsible for taking care of your loved one, so you’ll want to make sure they’re qualified for the job. Ask how long the staff have been in place. How many years of experience do they have as caregivers? You should also ask how long the management team has been in place and what their qualifications are for training caregivers.
What services does the assisted living community offer? Do they have everything your loved one will need? It is common for older Americans to transition from living on their own to assisted living to something like memory care if they have some form of dementia, so think about memory care if it’s something you think your loved one will need.
When it comes to activities, it is also common for residents’ interest in certain activities to change as their ability to participate changes, so make sure the assisted living community you choose has a range of activities to support residents at all levels.
At Stillwater Senior Living, not only do we offer memory care for those who need it, but we also offer different levels of medical care depending on the needs of each resident, including 24 hour on-site nursing staff, a visiting nurse practitioner, an on-site pharmacy, lab, and x-ray. We also offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy services as needed. You can learn more about our full range of services and programs here.
If you are considering Stillwater Senior Living for your loved one’s assisted living needs, we would love to talk to you about everything we offer our residents. Reach out now so we can have a conversation.
One persistent stereotype of older Americans is that they hate technology because they do not know how to use it, but in fact that is not always the case. We have found that older Americans tend to like technology, especially when it allows them to connect with friends and family they do not get to see very often. Here are just a few of the ways you can use technology to improve your relationships with the older Americans in your life.
Stay in Touch When You Are Separated
Whether you do not live near your loved one or you cannot physically be with them due to illness or some other reason, technology is a great way to stay connected over long distances. Phone calls are great, but if you do not have time for a long conversation, a quick text is also a great way to stay in touch between meetings or when running errands.
FaceTime and video conferencing software are also great options for staying in touch with your loved one in a way that feels like you are sitting in front of them, no matter how far apart you are.
Social media is another great way to stay in touch with loved ones over long distances. You can see each other’s posts so each of you can know what is new with the other. When you just need to talk to each other, you can use the private messaging option.
Baby boomers and their parents have become the biggest users of Facebook because it allows them to see photos of their grandchildren, even when they live far away from them. Getting to see those photos and read about their adventures and antics as they grow up is a great way for grandparents to feel like they are a part of their grandchildren’s lives, even if they only get to see them once or twice a year.
Keep Up with Their Health
Because technology allows you to interact with older Americans more often, whether through texting, video calls, or social media, one of the key benefits of this is that it allows you to keep tabs on your loved one’s health. If you notice they look unusually pale or jaundiced when you are on a video call with them, you can mention it to them, or even call their doctor if you have POA. If they are hesitant to try a new medication or course of treatment, being able to interact with them in a variety of ways through technology gives you more opportunities to convince them to give the new treatment a try. You can send them links that lead to video testimonials or articles outlining the benefits of the medication/course of treatment, which gives you persuasive power you never would have had without the right technology to share those links.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we know how helpful technology can be, whether it be for taking care of our residents or helping them stay in touch with loved ones. If you have any questions about how we use technology in our community, do not hesitate to reach out.
Most people like to gather around a table to enjoy a good meal with those they love, but not enough people gather in the kitchen to cook with those they love. Making food together can be just as special as eating together and that is especially true when cooking with older Americans. If you have yet to cook a meal or three with an older American in your life, we have a few reasons why you should consider changing that right away.
You Might Learn Something
Especially if you end up in the kitchen with someone who has been cooking for decades, you might be surprised how many things you can learn from them: the right way to hold a whisk, chop an onion without crying, or crack an egg with one hand. These are the skills acquired over many years in the kitchen, and if you have been wanting to learn any of these techniques, there is no one better than the family member who has spent the most time in the kitchen perfecting them.
Bonding certainly happens when we eat together, but there is something particularly intimate about helping someone prepare a meal. It requires teamwork and communication that are absent when consuming the meal, and that teamwork can forge surprisingly strong bonds.
If you are cooking with a family member, you can learn how to make that dish they always made on your birthday because they know it is your favorite. Or the recipe they brought out every Thanksgiving that is a staple of your family’s holiday meal. Learning these recipes is a right of passage in many families and it is a great way to keep traditions alive. Not only does it ensure you can still have your favorite meal after your loved one has gone, but making that recipe is a great way to keep their memory alive because you will think of them and the times you shared with them every time you make it.
Because cooking together can create such a strong bond, it is also a great way to create memories you will treasure long after the other person has passed on. You will be inclined to think of them every time you make one of their recipes or use a special technique they taught you. Maybe you will also remember a joke they told you the first time they taught you that technique, or a rhyme they taught you to help you remember a certain recipe. All those memories will be sweeter than anything you could ever whip up in the kitchen.
Helping to create as many memories like these as possible is one of the driving factors behind why we have kitchen space available for residents who are still able to cook for themselves, either on their own or with others. If you have a loved one who might need some help with their housework or remembering to take their medication, but they still know their way around a kitchen, you might want to consider one of our assisted living suites for your loved one’s next home.
Osteoporosis is one of the biggest concerns for older Americans, especially women. Loss of bone density leaves bones brittle, which reduces strength and leads to an increased risk of fractures and broken bones. For example, the best case for a broken hip is surgery to repair it before you return to normal life. But when combined with another health risk, such as dementia or heart problems, older Americans who break their hip are significantly more likely to die within the year.
But aging is not all doom and gloom. You can reduce your chances of bone damage at all ages with these simple health tips:
Get Plenty of Calcium
We often think of milk when we think of getting calcium, and while milk and cheese are certainly high in calcium, it is important to remember that there are other sources of calcium, including bone broth, which can be used to make soups, sauces, and gravies, or just drunk on its own. Winter squash, such as butternut squash and spaghetti squash, are also high in calcium, as are edamame, almonds, canned sardines and salmon. And remember to eat your dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, because they are also high in calcium.
Get Plenty of Vitamin K
Calcium tends to get all the attention when it comes to bone health, but it is important to remember that, while calcium is the building block of bones, vitamin K is the carrier that takes calcium from your bloodstream to your bones. A diet high in calcium will not do you any good if you do not have enough vitamin K to carry it to your bones, so make sure you eat plenty of dark leafy greens: kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, etc.
In addition to making sure our bones have the nutrients they need, we also need to make sure the muscles and connective tissue around our bones are strong so they can support our bones. Collagen is the main building block of connective tissue, and while bone broth is naturally high in collagen, you can also buy collagen by itself and add it to your diet. It comes as a white powder without much flavor so you can add it to your coffee, tea, or smoothie and get a nutritional boost without even noticing its presence in your beverage.
Strength training is not just for building and maintaining strong muscles – it is also vital for building and maintaining strong bones. If you have access to a set of weights, use them, but you do not necessarily need fancy gym equipment to build strong bones. Just some daily squats and pushups will be enough. The more you can do, the better.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we recognize the importance of diet and exercise in the health of our residents, which is why we have nutritionists on staff to make sure our residents have all the building blocks they need to build and maintain healthy bodies. We also have exercise equipment so they can keep their strength up (and even build up their strength) to reduce their risk of accidents or illnesses. If you have any questions about the care we provide our residents, just reach out now to have a conversation.
Staying 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 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.
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 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.
One of the biggest misconceptions about assisted living is that it means losing your dignity, but it is just the opposite. Assisted living is designed to help residents live as freely as possible for as long as possible while maintaining their dignity. If you are on the fence about assisted living, just consider these facts about how assisted living helps its residents age more gracefully.
Keeping You Active
Exercise is one of the most important ingredients to maintaining good health, especially as we age, yet many of us still find it difficult to make the time to exercise or to find the right equipment (or go someplace that has the right equipment).
Assisted living makes maintaining an active lifestyle easy by providing all the equipment for you, plus scheduled classes and activities. We can even modify activities so everyone can participate regardless of their physical abilities or skill level.
Providing group activities also makes residents much more likely to participate. Joining in a class that all your friends are taking is much easier than getting up and exercising by yourself.
Keeping You Social
One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is the social aspect. As older Americans age and watch their friends and family either die or move out of town and on with other aspects of their lives, loneliness and depression are major risk factors. By contrast, assisted living residents are constantly surrounded by people their own age with social activities planned for them. If you are someone who likes to be around other people, but does not like to plan events or send out invitations, you do not have to worry about any of that in assisted living. We take care of all the planning so all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself.
Keeping You Free
The misconception that assisted living restricts your freedom could not be further from the truth. On the contrary, we help ensure our residents’ freedom by providing cars for those who can drive, and for those who cannot drive we can provide a driver to take you anywhere you want to go. You can still run your own errands and meet friends and family for coffee or lunch any time you want. We will not stop you – we will help you.
Keeping You Healthy
Eating right is also crucial to staying healthy, but it can be much easier said than done when there are so many tempting goodies and so much conflicting information about what is and is not healthy. Assisted living communities have nutritionists on staff who have been educated on all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay strong – and which foods contain those nutrients. They can help you avoid confusion and keep on track to eat healthy when you are tempted by junk food.
If you have been thinking about assisted living, but you are wary because of all the misinformation about assisted living out there, why not talk to an assisted living professional? Reach out now and we can clear up any misconceptions you might have and explain how moving into assisted living could end up being the best thing you have ever done.
Celebrating the end of one year and welcoming the beginning of another has a lot of meaning. It has to do with taking stock of what we did over the past year and what we hope for in the year to come. We all have much to look forward to as we start a new year, so let us take a look at some of the best ways to ring in the new year in assisted living.
Crafts are always a big hit at assisted living communities, so rather than buying headbands for the new year, why not make your own? The best part is that it allows everyone to personalize their own headband with their own shapes and colors. You can even choose to apply glitter or make fun patterns out of different materials and/or paper of different colors.
Write Wishes for the New Year
The past couple of years have been tough of everyone, but rather than focusing on what went wrong, how about we focus on the things we want to go right in the year to come? It is a great way to maintain a positive mindset, which is important at all stages of life.
Games are always a great way to bring people together, especially since there are games you can play to include people of all ages. If you want something for the adults and older kids, why not a challenging game of Scrabble? If you have younger kids, you might want to stick with something like Chutes and Ladders or Pretty, Pretty Princess, which has the added bonus of getting you all dressed up just in time to ring in the new year!
Eat Breakfast for Dinner
One of the best things about the holidays is that it gives you a chance to switch up your routine. Eating breakfast for dinner can be a fun way to do that, especially since celebrating the new year often involves staying up late. Sometimes some sugary breakfast food can provide that extra boost of energy needed to make it all the way to midnight, especially if it comes with a cup of coffee or tea.
Travel the World … at Home
Themed parties are always a hit, so if you want your New Year’s celebration to be extra special this year, you can “travel” to France by making crepes, coq au vin, and café au lait. You can also buy croissants from a local bakery and snack on them all day long.
If you would rather “travel” to Italy, be sure to include some espresso, artisan pasta, maybe even a good chianti.
You can make the adventure extra fun by putting up photos of your desired locale all over your walls to help everyone feel like they are really there.
We are always excited to ring in the new year with our residents, so if you need any more ideas on how to celebrate with the older Americans in your life, just reach out and ask. We have more than a few ideas, and we are always happy to help.
There’s no denying that the past two years have been especially trying for us all, which can make it difficult to practice gratitude, either for Thanksgiving, or as a regular practice throughout the year. Nevertheless, we all have things for which we can be grateful, and it’s important to remember those things, because practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress and depression while improving sleep and immune function. If you’re struggling to come up with ways to practice gratitude this year, especially with the older Americans in your life, we have a few ideas to help you turn that around and start experiencing the benefits of practicing gratitude.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
The benefits of gratitude journals have long been recognized by professionals and laypeople alike. Taking just a few minutes every day to remember all the things you’re grateful for can switch your brain from a negative thought pattern to a positive thought pattern almost instantaneously. As a bonus, writing things down helps you remember them better, so you can hold onto the good feelings promoted by your gratitude.
If you and your loved one in assisted living are both new to gratitude journals, you can suggest starting your gratitude journals together. You can check in with each other at the end of each day or week to make sure you’ve both been writing in your journals and to share with each other some of the things you wrote down in your gratitude journal since the last time you spoke.
Write Thank-You Notes or Make Phone Calls
While writing down the things we’re grateful for in a journal for our own use is a great first start, too often we forget to tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us. So if you find yourself writing in your journal how grateful you are to have someone in your life or something they did for you, take some time to call them and let them know. Alternatively, you can send them a thank-you note so they have something to hang on their fridge that reminds them of you.
Enjoy Your Favorite Thanksgiving-Themed Movies
Movies are often treasured because they have the power to awaken certain emotions within us. What those emotions will be will depend on the movie and the life experience we bring when watching the movie, but many Thanksgiving-themed movies have the power to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so if that’s what you’re going for this year, here’s what we think you should watch:
-A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Get in touch with your inner child this year with Charlie Brown and Snoopy as they get their table ready for a Thanksgiving feast to serve their friends. Regardless of your age, it’s hard to argue with the heart-warming effects of a Charlie Brown movie.
-Home for the Holidays: Need a laugh? This classic movie about a family of misfits coming together for Thanksgiving is sure to give you all the good belly laughs you need this holiday season.
-Addams Family Values: If you and your loved one like the Addams Family, you’ll love this comedic take on a golddigger tearing a family apart, starring some of the best comedic actors of the 1990s.
-Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: This comedy of errors starring Steve Martin and John Candy is another crowd pleaser with just the right mixture of laughs and heartfelt moments.
If you need some more ideas to help you give thanks with your loved one in assisted living this year, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have lots of ideas, and we’d love to share them all with you.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we always look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. Want to know what we are doing to celebrate the holidays this year? Just reach out and ask us. We would love to tell you how you can be a part of the celebration this year.