Getting enough sleep – and making sure it is high-quality sleep – is important for all of us, but it is especially important for older Americans.
It affects almost every aspect of our mental and physical health, including some of the aspects of health with which older Americans tend to struggle the most.
The next time you consider burning the candle at both ends, remember these benefits to getting high-quality sleep every night.
Improves Concentration and Memory
Sleep is when the brain is processing everything from the day before. Sometimes it combines or interprets the day’s experiences in strange ways, which is why you wake up wondering what the heck that dream was about. It is just your brain’s way of working through data.
The brain also performs a sort of clean up while you sleep. Your brain cells are surrounded by fluid, which needs to be flushed out and replaced with clean fluid on a regular basis. This cleanup occurs primarily during sleep, so if you are not getting enough sleep, you are essentially letting trash pile up in your brain.
Of course, this does not mean a good night’s sleep can cure dementia, which is increasingly common in older Americans. But alongside other healthy habits, it can help prevent dementia.
Have you ever gone to sleep obsessed over something, and in the morning wondered what you were so worried about?
While it is true that things often look different in the light of day, it is not the daylight that makes them look different. It is the fact that your brain was able to rest and process the events of the day before, putting them into context.
When your brain is rested, it is much easier to maintain a sense of perspective and to think of creative solutions to problems. When you are tired and stressed you are more likely to jump straight to assuming you will be forced to face the worst-case scenario.
It is well documented that people who get at least eight hours of sleep a night are less likely to get sick. Everything from the common cold to chronic illnesses are more likely to affect the sleep deprived than the well rested.
Since older Americans are not only more likely to get sick, but also more likely to be hospitalized or even die from these illnesses, it should come as no surprise that they can benefit from a good night’s sleep even more than the rest of us.
Speeds Up the Aging Process
One study showed that even one night of bad sleep caused cells to age faster compared to when the person was well rested.
This is about more than just wrinkled skin. Everything from bone density to joint and brain health can be affected by a faster aging process.
As with most things, you have the final say in whether you get a good night’s sleep. But at Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to doing everything we can to help all our residents sleep peacefully at night so they can continue to live their best lives. If you have any questions about how we do that, you can reach out now. We are always happy to talk about all the ways we strive to keep our residents healthy and happy.
If you have ever heard the advice to, “Never get old,” that is the attitude Healthy Aging Month was designed to reverse. Healthy Aging Month was first celebrated in 1992 when people born in the 1940s were turning 50. The goal was to help people entering their Golden Years to celebrate those years, rather than dread them. Healthy Aging Month aims to do this by encouraging people to eat right and exercise at all stages of life, but especially as they get older. The idea is that aging healthy leads to graceful aging, and that is what we are all about here at Stillwater Senior Living.
September has been designated as “Healthy Aging Month,” and while we encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year long, we do have some ideas as for celebrating healthy aging this month.
Set Health Goals
Who says January is the only month for setting goals to change your life? When it comes to your health and well-being, we think September is a great time to develop new habits that will help you feel better all year long.
Losing weight is one of the most common health goals we hear about, but it is far from the only important metric of health. It is equally important to build up your muscle mass, improve your flexibility and balance, and keep track of your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) Once you know what your goals are, you can create a plan that will get you there.
Get an Accountability Partner
Regardless of the goal you are trying to achieve, if you get an accountability partner, you are significantly more likely to achieve your goal than if you do not have an accountability partner.
So whether you are trying to eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, or exercise more, getting an accountability partner to participate in (or avoid) those activities with you can help you make progress towards your goals. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or just feel better, there is no doubt that doing it with a buddy is not only more effective, but also more fun.
Do Not Forget About Mental Health
Mental health often takes a back seat to physical health, but not only are the two equally important, they also tend to go hand in hand. If your physical health is suffering, chances are good your mental health will suffer as well, and vice versa.
So it does not always make sense to focus on your physical health if your mental health needs your attention right now. That could mean anything from therapy to gardening.
In addition to reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, gardening has also been shown to improve mood, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of depression.
If gardening is not your thing, try learning a new board game, taking dance classes, or learning pottery. All are great activities that, in addition to improving your mood, will improve your cognitive abilities, which is even more important as you age.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to the health of our residents, which is why we like to celebrate health all year long. But there is something special about Healthy Aging Month. If you would like to share with us your tips for healthy aging, we are all ears. You can either fill out our form or find out how to reach us directly here.
Many of us struggle with high blood pressure as we age, and while there are many medications on the market designed to help people control their blood pressure, not everyone wants to rely on pharmaceuticals. That leaves the question, what are some natural ways for older Americans to lower their blood pressure?
One of the best ways to naturally lower blood pressure is to maintain a healthy diet. That means staying away from highly processed foods, especially the ones that are high in salt and sugar.
Instead, we recommend ditching the junk food in favor of plenty of vegetables and protein. Not only is it a great way to nourish your body with all the building blocks it needs to get and stay strong, it is also a great way to naturally lower your blood pressure.
A healthy diet and regular exercise regimen should go hand in hand for building and maintaining a strong body. Doctors recommend an exercise routine that raises your heart rate for at least 15 minutes every day. By engaging in regular cardiovascular workouts that get your blood pumping, your body will be better able to maintain a steady heart rate and blood pressure when you are not exercising.
Do Not Smoke
Smokers are much more likely to have high blood pressure than non-smokers, so if you smoke, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to quit. Not only will it help lower your blood pressure, but it will also increase your lung capacity, which in turn will increase your stamina and your energy levels. Quitting is hard, but it is worth it.
Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep is critical for all areas of our health, both mental and physical. The average person needs about eight hours of sleep a night to be healthy and live their best life, but keep in mind that that is the average. Some people are fine on six hours of sleep a night while others need nine hours. Know what works best for you and do whatever you need to do to get that sleep.
That means going to bed at the same time every night and trying to get up at the same time every morning. Limit distractions before bedtime, especially screen time and anything with blue light. You can download an app onto your phone or computer that dims the blue light on your screen when the sun goes down. You can also set your phone to automatically darken the screen and block notifications from your bedtime until your normal wake-up time.
If you sleep best with music or white noise, you can get a radio or device that plays whatever noise will help put you to sleep. You can even use your phone to listen to soothing music, rain, or anything else you like to listen to as you fall asleep.
Keep in mind, physical exercise during the day can also make it easier to fall asleep at night, so you can kill two birds with one stone by exercising regularly.
Meditation is excellent for lowering blood pressure, both in the moment, and in the long term. Any time you feel yourself getting stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure both go up, and by taking a few deep breaths and meditating, even just for a few minutes, you can bring down your heart rate and blood pressure.
People who meditate on a regular basis report feeling less stress overall, as well as lower blood pressure. If you have chronic high blood pressure, meditating once or twice will not be enough to get the results you need. You should instead try to meditate on a regular basis for at least a week or two before determining whether you notice a difference in your blood pressure or stress levels.
At Stillwater Senior Living, our goal is always to help keep our residents healthy in whatever way works best for them. If they need help remembering to take their medication, we are happy to help with that. If they would prefer to stay healthy without medications, we can help with that, too. Reach out now to ask how we can help you or your loved one live their best life in assisted living.
The short answer is yes. Of course, residents can maintain their privacy in assisted living. Nevertheless, many people continue to worry about losing, not only their independence in assisted living, but their privacy.
We have already covered on this blog how residents can maintain their independence in assisted living, so now let us debunk the myth that moving into assisted living means giving up your privacy.
Maintaining the dignity of our residents is of the utmost importance to us, and you cannot have dignity if you do not have privacy. We have 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments to accommodate our residents’ budgets and personal preferences. Some people like having a room all to themselves while others prefer to have a roommate.
Our staff is well trained to be available whenever our residents need them while respecting the privacy and personal space of our residents. Staff will never enter a resident’s apartment without their permission, and they will not provide any assistance without first confirming the resident’s express permission to do so.
Following the Law
Not only is it our personal philosophy to provide our residents with as much dignity and privacy as possible, we are also legally required by Illinois law to respect their privacy at all times, especially when they are being examined or given medical care.
This includes the same right to confidentiality of their medical records afforded to any patient being provided with medical care.
Your medical records and information are yours alone and we will not share them with any unauthorized person.
Not only are residents able to keep their personal property in assisted living, they are encouraged to take it with them when they move into one of our apartments. Being surrounded by familiar objects makes the transition to assisted living that much easier, especially if the person is struggling with some form of dementia. Having familiar objects at hand can help ground the person struggling with dementia and prevent confusion.
Making Life Easier, Not Harder
The goal of assisted living is just that: to provide assistance so residents can continue living life to its fullest. We strive to make things easier for our residents, not harder, and of course that includes maintaining their privacy.
If you have any questions about how our staff at Stillwater Senior Living maintains our residents’ privacy, we are always happy to schedule some time with you so we can answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. You can schedule a meeting with us here.
Moving is never easy, and it can be especially stressful if you have a loved one who needs to move into assisted living. In addition to the usual stressors associated with moving (packing up your entire life, moving it to another building, unpacking and arranging it all), there are some things that are unique to moving into assisted living. There are also some things that can make the process take longer, so let us talk about what to expect when moving into assisted living.
Most assisted living communities have a waiting list, so do not make the mistake of assuming you can move into any assisted living community you want as soon as you or your loved one is in need of assisted living. Instead, you need to have an action plan in place before you need assisted living.
Things to consider include where you want to live – in the area you live now, or closer to your kids or siblings who live in another state? Or maybe you want to spend your golden years in a warmer climate. The farther you currently are from the assisted living community you want to move into, the more planning will need to go into the moving process to make sure you have everything you need.
Once you have identified the assisted living community you want to live in, ask about their wait list. Just like with a restaurant waiting list, they can give you an estimate of how long it might take for them to have a vacancy, but it might end up taking more or less time than they anticipate.
Most people moving into assisted living are moving into a much smaller space than the one in which they have been living for decades – maybe even their whole lives. That calls for a considerable amount of downsizing.
The best way to downsize is to go through all your possessions and divide them into three categories: Keep; Donate: and Trash. Once you have gotten rid of everything you want to donate and throw away, you might need to further divide the Keep pile into the items going with you into assisted living and those going into storage.
Since it is unlikely you will move into a larger home after assisted living, you might want to consider taking the items you would normally put into storage and instead distribute them to your closest friends and family. That way they can always lend them to you if you need to borrow them. Otherwise, you know they have a good home.
Adjusting to Life in Assisted Living
Living in a new place always requires an adjustment, but that adjustment might take a little longer for those moving into assisted living. Not only do they have to get used to a new place, they have to get used to their fellow residents and the idea of accepting help from staff.
While the goal of assisted living is to help residents continue living a life as normal as possible for as long as possible, just having someone around to help at all times can be different enough from what residents are used to that it can take a while to adjust.
If your loved one is having a hard time getting used to assisted living, encourage them to give it time and to keep an open mind. If they decide they are going to have a bad experience, then they will have a bad experience no matter what the assisted living staff does to help them. But if they decide to have a good experience, they just might have the time of their lives.
If you have any other questions about easing the transition to life at Stillwater Senior Living, we are always happy to chat. Just reach out now to start the conversation.
Taking the car keys away from an aging parent is one of the hardest things you can do, but for many of us, the time comes when it is necessary to do so. Your loved one might not take it well, but if they have reached a point where they and those around them are safer for it, then it becomes the right thing to do.
So let us talk about how to tell if your aging parent should still be driving.
Age Is Just a Number
Let us start with the fact that just because your parent is aging does not mean they should not be driving. There is no age at which everyone becomes an unsafe driver. Some people develop medical conditions that make it difficult for them to drive in their 70s, while others remain healthy and active well into their 90s.
So if age is the only factor you are considering when thinking about taking the car keys away from your aging parent, think again.
Medical Conditions That Can Impair Driving Ability
A reduced ability to perform certain tasks is a common symptom of aging, and driving is one of those things many people struggle with as they age. It could be arthritis making it more difficult for them to grip the steering wheel, or failing eyesight making it harder for them to read road signs, judge distances, or even to see curbs or lane markers.
All forms of cognitive decline, including dementia, can also have a detrimental effect on their ability to drive. It could cause them to have a delayed response to an unexpected situation, or to get lost, even in a familiar area.
Signs Your Aging Parent Should Not Be Driving
If you are unsure whether it is time to have a conversation with your aging parent about driving, the AARP has a list of things to look out for, including:
- Not driving fast enough or slow enough for road conditions
- Frequent minor accidents resulting in scrapes, dents, and dings on their vehicle
- Difficulty concentrating or staying awake
How to Talk to Your Aging Parent About Driving
If you have become convinced it is time for your aging parents to stop driving, there is a right way and a wrong way to broach the subject. The wrong way is to start by telling them you are taking the keys away.
The right way is to have a conversation with them in which you explain your concerns about their safety and give them a chance to express their fears or concerns. They might still be resistant to the idea of giving up the car keys, but there is also the possibility they will admit it might be time for them to stop driving. Even if they do not agree, at least they know your actions are coming from a place of love and concern.
People have a hard time giving up the car keys because they fear giving up their independence. Often they fear moving into assisted living will also mean giving up their independence, when in fact it means the opposite. The goal of assisted living is to help older Americans with the day-to-day tasks so they can continue to live their best lives.
That is why we at Stillwater Senior Living make it easy for those residents who can still drive safely to continue doing so. For those who are unable to drive themselves, we have drivers who can take them where they want to go so they can continue doing all the things they need and want to do to live life to its fullest.
If you want to know more about how we help our residents, just reach out to get the conversation started. We are always happy to talk.
Moving is always a challenge, but it can be especially difficult when you are getting ready to move into assisted living. You have to go through the usual process of deciding what to take with you and what to get rid of, but it can be harder to decide what you will and will not need when you are not just moving into a new home, but moving into a community with staff to help take care of you, and neighbors close to your age.
To help you with the process of getting ready to move into assisted living, we came up with a checklist you can use when selling your home.
Find an Experienced Real Estate Agent
Any time you are buying or selling real estate, you need an experienced real estate agent. A lot of real estate agents specialize in certain kinds of buyers, such as couples buying their first home or moving into a larger home as their family expands. Similarly, a lot of real estate agents specialize in helping older Americans downsize after the kids have moved out, so when you are interviewing real estate agents, make sure you have one who has experience with helping their clients downsize.
Of course, the next step is going to be to start downsizing – or “rightsizing” as some people like to call it. You will not have as much space in your assisted living apartment as you have in your home, so think carefully about the things you want to keep and the things you want to toss or donate. You should also consider getting a storage space where you can keep things you might need later, but don’t need to have on hand on a daily basis.
Talk to Your Financial Planner
Buying and selling real estate is always a big deal, financially speaking, so your financial planner should be involved. You might want to consider options such as using the funds from the sale of your home to pay for some or all of your assisted living expenses. A financial planner can help you make the most of your money, so you never have to worry about running out.
Stage Your Home for Buyers
Setting up a comfortable home you want to live in is different from setting up a home in such a way that other people want to live there. Staging your home to make it as attractive as possible to prospective buyers involves making the most of the space and light so it looks as big and airy as possible. You also want to make sure it looks lived in, but that it does not show any personality so prospective buyers can easily imagine themselves living there.
These are all things a good real estate agent should be able to help you with, so be sure to consult with them.
Enjoy Your Assisted Living Community
Once you have finally sold your home and moved into assisted living, you can just, sit back, relax, and enjoy your new assisted living community. At Stillwater Senior Living, we work hard to make sure all our residents are as comfortable as possible, while helping them remain as independent as possible.
If you are curious about all the ways we help our residents, we would love to hear from you. You can reach out now to start the conversation.
Just like schools needed to be expanded in the 1950s and 1960s as the baby boomer generation reached school age, now assisted living communities have had to expand and create waitlists to account for the surge in people applying to live in assisted living. This increase in demand can make it harder for you to get a space in your preferred assisted living community, so we are going to give you some tips you can use to give you a leg up on the competition when applying for assisted living.
1) Start Early
Most people want to avoid thinking about moving into assisted living until they have reached the point where they are no longer able to take care of themselves, but at that point it is already too late. If you wait until you need assisted living before you start researching your options, you will be forced to move into whichever community has a space for you, which may or may not be your first choice.
Alternatively, you might have to move in with a family member or hire a home aid to help you while you wait to get off the waiting list.
2) Get Your Medical Documents Ready
Assisted living is different from a retirement community in that it is designed to help those who need help with daily tasks. It could be reminding them to take their pills, helping with cooking and cleaning for those with arthritis, or help with hygiene for those suffering from dementia.
As a result, assisted living communities often review your medical history and will probably conduct their own assessment of your physical and cognitive abilities to determine the level of care you need. Be prepared for the assessment and have all your papers in order when you are getting ready to apply because that will make the process go that much more smoothly.
3) Create a List of Questions to Ask the Staff
To make sure you end up in your preferred assisted living community, it is important to know what you want in an assisted living community. Location is important, but there are other factors, such as whether you can take your pet with you, the types of activities they offer, etc. Know what your qualifications are and have a list of questions ready to ask the staff so you can make sure it is a place where you want to live for the foreseeable future.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we know we are not the right fit for everyone, but we would love to see if we could be the right fit for you. If you have any questions about what it is like to be one of our residents, just reach out to schedule a tour.
Most people are aware of arthritis as a common symptom of aging, but did you know there are different types of arthritis? They all have different causes and symptoms, so if you think you or a loved one might be suffering from arthritis, it is best to have an idea of the different types of arthritis before you jump to any conclusions about what might be causing your arthritis or the best way to move forward.
Keep in mind that a blog post does not constitute medical advice. The best course of action is always to consult with your doctor so they can perform an exam and provide you with a diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage in the joint begins to break down, causing the bones to rub against each other when the joint is used. This can be extremely painful, and is the most common reason for older Americans to lose mobility as they age.
Osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, hips, and knees, but is by no means limited to those joints. Any joint that has been used frequently over a long period of time can be susceptible to osteoarthritis. After all, it is called “wear and tear” arthritis for a reason.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system primarily attacks the joints, usually the hands, wrists, and knees. It is common for several joints to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis all at the same time.
Because it is an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis tends to cause the affected joints to become inflamed as the body tries to flood the area with white blood cells. This damages the joint tissue and can cause chronic pain in the affected joints, and even cause them to become misshapen, especially if left untreated for a long period of time.
In addition to the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect various organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, and eyes.
Rather than targeting just the joints, fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body. Sleep problems are another common symptom of fibromyalgia, but in many cases, it is not a separate symptom, but rather a result of the chronic pain keeping the person awake throughout the night. Fatigue and emotional and mental distress, including depression and anxiety, are also common symptoms of fibromyalgia, but they also tend to go hand-in-hand with sleep deprivation. In most cases, if the patient can be cured of their pain and allowed to sleep, the other symptoms tend to vanish.
We still do not know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but the good news is there are ways to manage it.
Gout is another type of arthritis caused by inflammation, and it usually only affects one joint at a time. Gout is most commonly experienced in the joint of the big toe, and is characterized by flare ups of intense pain, followed by periods of remission in which little-to-no pain is experienced.
There is no cure for gout, but it can be managed with medication and a diet that is low in alcohol and rich foods.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we provide a wide range of aid levels to make sure our residents have the level of care they need, while leaving them the independence to perform their own daily tasks whenever possible. If you or a loved one is suffering from a form of arthritis and you think it might be time for assisted living, we would love to have a conversation with you.
Some of the services offered in assisted living vary between assisted living communities, but there are some basic services you will find in every assisted living community. In this article, we are going to start with the basics and then go into some of the more specialized services that you will find at Stillwater Senior Living, but you will not necessarily find in every assisted living community.
Cooking and Cleaning
Help with cooking and cleaning is a basic service of assisted living. Most people move into assisted living because they are having trouble keeping up with the daily tasks of living. Whether it is cooking, washing dishes, or folding laundry, any time someone is having trouble performing one or more of the basic tasks of daily living, they are a good candidate for assisted living.
Supervising medications is another reason a lot of people move into assisted living. Many of us need to take more prescription medications and dietary supplements as we age and our bodies do not function like they used to. All those medications come with specific instructions: they need to be taken at certain times of the day, and some need to be taken with food while others need to be taken on an empty stomach.
It is a lot for anyone to keep track of, but especially those of us struggling with minor confusion. That is why supervising medications to make sure you take everything when it needs to be taken and you do not accidentally take a medication twice or mix medications that should never be taken together is one of the biggest benefits of assisted living.
Organizing Recreational and Social Activities
Another big benefit of assisted living that most people do not know about is organizing recreational and social activities. We know that living your best life involves much more than making sure the dishes are washed and the laundry is folded. It also involves a rich social life and assisted living is great at getting residents to interact with each other in fun ways. Whether you are passionate about music, arts and crafts, or exercise, an assisted living community is sure to have something for you.
Losing access to transportation is something everyone worries about as they age and they have trouble driving, whether because from physical or mental health challenges. That is why assisted living communities offer help with transportation so their residents can get where they need to go.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we offer parking for our residents who are still able to drive. For those who are unable to drive, we can arrange transportation for them.
Looking your best is often the key to feeling your best, which is why most assisted living communities include an on-site beauty salon.
Wearable Tech for Safety
Maybe someday we will live in a society where everyone has smart watches, but for now they are still pretty rare, especially for older Americans. But smart watches have some great benefits – namely that they allow you to call for help in an emergency if you can not reach your phone.
We have taken the best of both worlds by giving our residents watches and necklaces they can use to call for help if they need it. All they have to do is push a button, and one of our attentive staff members will come running to their aid.
Memory care involves specialized services from a staff that has been trained to provide memory care. As a result, not all assisted living communities offer memory care services, so if you are considering assisted living and you think your loved one might be in need of memory care services at some point, you might want to look for communities that offer memory care services so you will not have to move your loved one twice.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to going above and beyond for our residents. If you are interested, you can view our full list of services, and if you have any questions, please do not. hesitate to reach out.