A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is always scary, but it can be even more intimidating if you don’t know what the diagnosis really means. You might have heard of Parkinson’s causing tremors and mobility issues, but if that’s all you know about it, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While we can’t tell you everything about the disease in a blog post, we can give you an idea of some of the things you can expect from a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
- Early Warning Signs
While tremors and mobility issues are probably the most well-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, they’re not the only indications that something might be wrong. Before the disease reaches that stage, many patients experience loss of smell, constipation, vivid dreaming, and their handwriting might become very small.
- Brain Cell Death
Cells in the substantia nigra section of the brain are responsible for producing dopamine, which helps the brain control movement of the body. When these brain cells start to die, Parkinson’s disease develops, and it is the reduced levels of dopamine in the brain that lead to the tremors and loss of motor control that tend to characterize Parkinson’s disease.
- Unknown Causes
No one knows what causes Parkinson’s disease. Based on what we know so far, the best guess scientists can make is that it’s a combination of environmental factors and genetic predisposition, but so far the exact causes of Parkinson’s disease remain a medical mystery that has yet to be solved.
- How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed?
Because Parkinson’s develops when certain brain cells start to die, it’s difficult to diagnose when the patient is still living. In order to diagnose a patient with Parkinson’s disease, a doctor would need to conduct a physical exam, as well as a variety of tests to determine whether two of the four main symptoms are present: tremors/shaking, slow movements, rigid limbs and/or torso, and difficulty balancing.
- When Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?
The average age of patients who experience the onset of Parkinson’s disease is 62. If the patient is less than 50 years old at the time of their Parkinson’s diagnosis, it’s known as young-onset or early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
As with Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, although the progression of the disease can be slowed down with the help of drugs that can mimic, or even replace dopamine. Exercise is also a critical factor for managing the disease and mitigating the effects of the loss of mobility and balance caused by the disease. In some cases, deep brain stimulation surgery has also proven effective in combatting the disease.
Whether you or your loved one is suffering from reduced mobility, cognitive decline, or both, we can come up with a plan to help them here at Stillwater Senior Living. Everything from our Senior Messages to our new Lakeside Memory Care Neighborhood is designed to help our residents age in comfort and with dignity.
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 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.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is easier said than done. At first, it might involve nothing more than some light housekeeping and making sure all the bills get paid on time, but as the disease progresses, the patient will need more and more support, and so will their caregiver.
There are a lot of benefits to being a caregiver, but it can also be extremely stressful and time consuming. Unfortunately, too many caregivers get so caught up in their role as caregiver to someone else that they forget to take care of themselves, either because they don’t have the time, or they simply don’t think they’re a priority. We have a few reasons you should think differently about making sure you have the proper support if you’re a caregiver – or giving support if you’re not a caregiver but you know someone who is.
Taking Care of Yourself = Taking Care of Your Loved One
If your loved one depends on you to take care of them, then neglecting your own self-care is a form of neglecting your responsibilities as a caregiver. If you don’t take time off to rest and recharge from your caregiver responsibilities, the stress will catch up with you one way or another. Better to plan your time off and make arrangements for someone to cover for you, than to get sick or injured unexpectedly and run the risk of leaving your loved one without a caregiver.
Taking time to rest and recharge also means you’ll be better at your job. When you’re tired and stressed, you’re more likely to make mistakes and forget things, which could potentially be dangerous when it comes to things like administering medications. By regularly scheduling time off from your caregiving responsibilities, you’ll be able to provide better care when you are on the job.
You’ll Have More Appreciation for the Job
While there’s no denying that being a full-time caregiver can be stressful and overwhelming, it can also be extremely rewarding. But it can be hard to appreciate the good things that come with such a special role when you’re just struggling to make it through the day. By scheduling time off for yourself, you’ll ensure you’re more present when you are fulfilling your role as a caregiver, and in addition to making sure you’re better at your job, it will also ensure you find the role more fulfilling.
Joining a caregiver support group can also help you look on the bright side by giving you a chance to vent any negative emotions you may have about the job. Caring for someone who will likely experience greater mood swings at a higher frequency can be particularly challenging, especially if it’s a close family member. Having a support group where you can vent your grief and frustration in a safe space will keep those emotions from spilling out when you’re on the job, which goes back to the fact that the more support you have, the better you’ll be at your job.
If you can’t balance being a caregiver with everything else you have going on in your life, ask about how we can provide state-of-the-art care to your loved one in our new memory care neighborhood.
Most 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.
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.
Caring for an aging loved one is always challenging, but it can be especially challenging if they have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. They forget things and get confused, and that can be frustrating for everyone. But getting frustrated only makes the situation worse, so get creative with ways to alleviate, or even avoid that frustration. Doing so can require some creativity, so we’ve come up with a few ideas we hope will help and might even inspire you to come up with some other creative ideas for caring for a loved one with dementia.
Display Old Photos
Patients in the later stages of dementia tend to lose both the power of speech and the ability to process language (although those two things are separate and don’t necessarily happen at the same time). To try and compensate for it, using pictures whenever possible is a great way to keep your loved one happy and engaged. You can load hundreds of photos onto a digital picture frame and have it display them on a loop. Some digital picture frames even play music alongside the photos, which is another great way to keep your loved one calm.
Use Photos Instead of Names When Possible
Smartphones are great for their ability to pair pictures with names in our contact list, making it that much easier to identify the people we’re trying to reach. If your loved one doesn’t have a smartphone, see if you can find a phone that has space for pictures instead of names on the speed dial list so your loved one doesn’t have to struggle with names they can’t remember when they need to reach someone.
Don’t Fight Their Reality
Things tend to be most frustrating when you try to convince them something they know is not the case, or tell them they can’t do something. Rather than fight it, accept their reality and come up with reasons not to do something that fits their reality. For example, if they want to reach someone who is long dead, just tell them the person is unavailable. If they want to drive, tell them the car is in the shop instead of arguing with them. It will make things so much easier and more pleasant for everyone.
Get a “Dementia Clock”
A “dementia clock” is a clock that displays the date and day of the week, in addition to the time, and can be seen from across the room. This way your loved one doesn’t have to constantly ask what time it is or what day it is, they can just look up and act like they knew the answer all along.
Eliminate Tripping Hazards
We did a whole blog post on how to avoid falling hazards, but lighting is also key to avoiding falls and injuries, so get lights with motion sensors that light up when someone enters the room. This avoids fumbling for switches and makes it less likely your loved one will try to make do in the dark when they can’t find the switch.
Get them a cane and/or a walker, too. Even if they’re steady on their feet now, that can change quickly, so make sure you’re prepared now.
We have a lot more tips for caregivers responsible for a loved one at home, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some more pointers, or if you think it might be time for assisted living.
Caring for a loved one who is aging and/or sick can be a full-time job, but many family members can’t afford to quit their jobs to become a caregiver for a loved one. They’ll need a job to come back to when their caregiving responsibilities have come to an end, and that’s what the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still unsure of what, exactly, the FMLA provides and how it works, so we’re going to go over everything you need to know:
What Does the FMLA Provide?
The FMLA guarantees employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work if they or someone in their family has a qualifying health issue. The time off from work is unpaid, but employers are required to provide the same group health insurance benefits at the same premium while you’re on leave. Once you return to work, they are required to offer you at least your old job, or an equivalent position.
Although the federal law does not require employers to pay workers during their FMLA leave, many employers do offer at least partial payment during FMLA leave, and some states require employers to provide some form of payment during FMLA leave, so check your local laws to make sure you know everything you’re entitled to receive.
But not everyone is eligible to take leave under the FMLA, so let’s take a look at the requirements:
Who Is Eligible to Take Leave Under the FMLA?
In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA you must first work for a school; a public agency; a local, state, or federal employer; or a private employer who employs 50 or more workers for at least 20 workweeks of the year. You also need to work at a location that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, which means you can’t work for an employer that has a small team at your location and more workers throughout the country, even if the total number of their workers adds up to 50 or more workers.
Second, you need to have worked for that employer for at least 12 months. The 12 months do not need to be consecutive, but you do need to have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12-month period before taking your FMLA leave – if you’re a full-time employee, this means you need to have worked full time for your current employer for at least 32 weeks before you can be eligible to take your FMLA leave.
When Can I Take FMLA Leave?
The FMLA allows workers to take time off if: they are unable to work due to a serious health condition; they need to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition (siblings, grandparents, and in-laws are not covered); they recently gave birth, adopted, or are fostering a child; or if they have certain urgent situations, such as caring for a family member who is on active duty or on call in the military and suffers from a serious injury or illness.
If you’re caring for an aging parent and you’re unable to take leave under the FMLA, or your 12 weeks of leave is about to expire, it might be time to consider assisted living. We’d love to answer all your questions about the assisted living services we provide, so reach out now to learn more. Watch this video to get a sneak peak of our Memory Care Neighborhood!
As the weather turns colder and we start to think of falling leaves and pumpkins and all the other things fall brings, we should also turn our attention to another kind of fall – specifically, the kind that can cause serious injuries to our aging loved ones. While we might not think of falling down as anything to worry about, falls can become very serious as we age and our bones lose density and become more likely to break – especially in older women, who are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. So if you’re living with an aging loved one and you’re worried about them falling and hurting themselves, here are some things you can do to fall-proof your home.
Get Rid of the Clutter
Anything you have lying around the floor that isn’t furniture needs to be cleaned up, especially when it comes to your hallway and any narrow spaces. If there are stacks of old newspapers and magazines lying around the floor, it’s time to clean those up. If you have a tendency to leave your shoes lying around, it’s time to break that bad habit and put your shoes somewhere out of the way any time you aren’t wearing them. The same goes for your slippers and any other clothing you might have a habit of leaving around.
Remove All Tripping Hazards
You might not think of area rugs as a tripping hazard, but it’s more common than you might think for seniors to trip on the edge of a rug and end up hitting the floor. So, if you have any area rugs, now is a good time to get rid of them for the sake of your loved one’s safety.
If you have hardwood floors, check to make sure there are no nails and/or floorboards that are out of alignment and sticking up out of the floor, because that’s also a tripping hazard and you’ll want to repair those ASAP.
Make Sure All Your Floors Are Nonstick
If you’re left with a bunch of hardwood and/or linoleum floors after removing all your rugs, those could potentially be slippery surfaces, which could lead to falls. You might want to consider wall-to-wall carpeting to replace those area rugs.
The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place for seniors, from the tile or linoleum floor with its potential to be slippery, to the bathmat creating a tripping hazard, and the bottom of the bathtub creating a slipping hazard. We recommend using a nonslip cover for the bottom of your bathtub and installing handrails next to the toilet and the bathtub so your loved one always has something to hang onto.
There are some things your loved one can do to make sure they’re less likely to fall, especially when it comes to their clothing, so if you can, try to make sure they wear shoes, even around the house, to reduce the chances they’ll slip and fall. And while we understand the temptation to use comfortable attire around the house, make sure it’s at least properly hemmed and not too loose (especially when it comes to their pants and skirts) to reduce the chances they’ll trip on their own clothing, causing a fall that could potentially be disastrous.
Get Professional Help
While fall proofing your home is an important step towards taking care of the older Americans in your life, it’s just one part of elder care, and you have other things in your life to worry about. If you find yourself unable to care for your aging loved one on your own, we’re here to help.
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!fa
It might be October already, but that doesn’t mean we can stop worrying about dehydration or heat stroke. Even October has been known to see some pretty hot days in the Midwest, so now is not the time to slack off when it comes to monitoring for signs of dehydration in the older Americans in our lives.
Not only does water make up almost 2/3 of our total bodyweight, but having enough water is necessary for our bodies to do things like regulate our body temperature, maintain blood pressure, and eliminate waste. Water helps just about every aspect of our bodily functions run smoothly, and without it, things can go south very quickly, especially for older Americans.
Causes of Dehydration
While we might think of dehydration primarily as a problem caused by not drinking enough water (especially in hot weather, when we tend to lose a lot of water in the form of sweat), dehydration can have other causes that might not be as obvious. Certain medications can cause people to retain water weight, or to lose more water weight than normal, requiring them to drink more water to stay hydrated. If you’re a caregiver for an older American, ask their doctor if any of their medications include dehydration as a side effect.
Another common cause of dehydration among older Americans is that their sense of thirst can either diminish or disappear entirely, which means they lose the ability to recognize when they need more water.
Older Americans are also more likely to suffer from kidney problems, which can cause dehydration. The job of the kidneys is to process fluids and eliminate toxins from the body, but as we age, our kidneys often stop processing fluids as efficiently as they once did. This can lead to more trips to the bathroom to urinate, and if people aren’t aware that they need to be drinking more water to make up for it, they can quickly get dehydrated.
Recognize the Symptoms
One of the problems with dehydration is that its symptoms can vary widely, including some that can be attributed to other things, but some of the key symptoms of dehydration to be on the lookout for include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Dry mouth
- Skin that is loose or doesn’t return to normal after pinching
- Decreased urination
- Muscle cramping
- Accelerated heart rate
- Reduced blood pressure
What to Do About Dehydration
If you’re a caregiver for an older American and you suspect they might be dehydrated, the good news is that most of the time the problem can be solved with a tall glass of water, but that might not always be the case. Regardless of whether the patient’s symptoms are mild or severe, dehydration is something that needs to be addressed right away. If the symptoms are severe, such as muscle cramps, and/or if the patient is unable to keep liquids down, you need to get them to a medical health professional immediately. A primary care physician should be qualified to handle the situation, but only if they can be seen immediately. If they are not readily available, you need to take your loved one to an emergency room so they can be treated right away.
One of the benefits we provide here at Stillwater Senior Living, in addition to helping our residents with their daily tasks, is making sure they’re getting enough water and taking whatever medications they need. If you’re a caregiver for an older American and you’re thinking about assisted living, reach out now so we can answer any questions you might have about the benefits of assisted living.
Being a caregiver isn’t always easy, but it’s not all struggles and sacrifices. In fact, it’s a lot like being a parent – there are struggles and sacrifices, but there are also significant rewards that most often outweigh the bad. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver, either professionally or for a friend or family member (or both), here are some benefits you can expect to gain from taking on the role.
- It Shows the True Colors of Those Around You
Being a caregiver can be a lonely experience. It’s easy to feel like no one else understands what you’re going through, but the people of quality in your life will offer a helping hand. If no one offers help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Too many caregivers are afraid to ask for help, which can lead them to feel overwhelmed and burned out. Be sure to avoid that fate by asking for help when you need it. The people who step up are the ones worth keeping in your life. The ones from whom you hear crickets are the ones you’re better off without.
- You Can Make New Friends
Although your friends and family can help out, it’s true that no one really knows what you’re going through as a caregiver unless they’ve been there themselves. That’s why we recommend caregivers join a caregiver support group. It’s a chance to get together with other caregivers who understand your struggles and can give you tips and tricks to help you get through them. It’s also a chance to bond with other people who have had experiences similar to yours and hold the same values. Not only will you recognize the true friends you already had around you, but you’ll make some new ones.
- You’ll Have a New Appreciation for What Really Matters
Being a caregiver can be an all-consuming job, and it can be tough to make time for yourself. Even though it’s essential to take some personal time to recharge, your time off will still be limited, which means you’ll find yourself making time for the things that really matter to you, while letting the less important matters fall by the wayside. You just might surprise yourself at what you choose to keep in your life and what you choose to let go.
- It Can Bring You Closer to Your Loved One
If you’re caring for a parent or loved one, taking on the role of their caregiver can bring the two of you closer, even if you were already close to begin with. The chance to spend more time with your loved one towards the end of their life is a benefit that not everyone gets to enjoy, so make the most of it. Ask them about their childhood. How did they feel about becoming a parent? What was growing up like for them?
If you’re not close to your loved one, or if you’re still holding a grudge over something that happened in the past, becoming their caregiver can be an opportunity to resolve the negative feelings you have towards them. Not only do you have more of an opportunity to talk things over and see matters from their perspective, but seeing them in a vulnerable state can also help you move past your feelings of resentment and forgive them.
While taking on the role of caregiver has certainly proven beneficial to many people, it’s not a possibility for everyone. If you need professional help taking care of your loved one, reach out now to see how we can help your loved one live their best life in their golden years so the time you spend with them can be focused on games and reminiscing.
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.