Helping Hands

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that volunteers are the backbone of every community. They provide unique talents and perspective, selflessly sharing time and energy for the benefit of others. During National Volunteer Week we celebrate and recognize the efforts of those who work for the betterment of their communities across the country. 

Volunteerism is alive and well through organizations like Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that foster civic engagement, and RSVP, one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over. This network matches senior volunteers with diverse service opportunities in their communities, from tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth to organizing neighborhood watch programs or assisting victims of natural disasters. RSVP’s programs provide those with a lifetime of experience to share with opportunities to share that experience with others in a meaningful way. 

While volunteers make an impact in the lives of those they serve, they may not know about the personal benefits of volunteering. In addition to feeling a renewed sense of purpose, meeting new people with similar mindsets and discovering an outlet for their skills and talents, volunteers often reap health benefits, with studies finding that volunteers of all ages experience fewer hospital stays than those who don’t volunteer and have better overall health and lower stress levels, as well as more stamina. In addition, volunteers often learn new skills, become more connected with their communities, and benefit both socially and professionally from the relationships built in the course of volunteer work. Other benefits of volunteering include: 

CONNECTIONS TO OTHERS 

Sharing a volunteer opportunity strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network. It can also be an opportunity to sharpen your social skills. 

MIND AND BODY HEALTH 

Volunteering improves self-confidence by providing a sense of pride and purpose. Additionally, volunteering helps combat depression. 

FUN AND FULFILLMENT 

Volunteering can provide a meaningful break from everyday work, school and family commitments, often these breaks can re-energize the volunteer when they return to their everyday tasks. Volunteering can often lead to new hobbies, or even provide the opportunity to enjoy current hobbies and share them with others. 

Whether you can give an hour per week or an hour per month, volunteering is time well spent and will make a difference in your community and your life. To learn more about the benefits of volunteering in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. 

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

For many families, a conversation about advanced care planning doesn’t happen until a health crisis occurs, leaving family members unsure of their loved one’s wishes. While this conversation can be difficult, it is an important one. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe it is vital to provide those we serve with information that aids in making healthcare choices, so we proudly support National Healthcare Decisions Day as a means of empowering our residents and families with information and access to tools to make advanced care planning easier. 

An initiative of The Conversation Project, National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning. Observed on, April 16th, this annual event aims to empower people with information on how to discuss and put in writing their wishes should they become seriously ill and unable to communicate those wishes to a loved one or healthcare provider. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that each person’s wishes are as unique as they are and we encourage families to discuss all aspects of care in order to fully respect those wishes. 

For many, the prospect of talking about final wishes is daunting, and the process of making those wishes known to loved ones and healthcare providers may seem mysterious and unnecessarily convoluted. While state laws differ regarding advance care planning, The Conversation Project believes that it is important to provide clear and concise information on healthcare decision-making in order to simplify the process. To remove barriers to the advanced care planning conversation and provide meaningful information instead of just forms to fill out, toolkits tailored to specific state guidelines are available to families as well as healthcare providers. These toolkits support and encourage each family to focus on the specific aspects of care that matter most to them. 

Would your family know your wishes in the event of a health crisis? You can provide yourself and your loved ones with peace of mind by taking the time to think about and share your wishes. For more information about advanced care planning and National Healthcare Decisions Day, go to theconversationproject.org or visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and start a conversation today.  

Parkinson’s Disease

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

April is Parkinson’s disease Awareness Month, and at Senior Lifestyle we’d like to take the opportunity to share information about the disease, its symptoms and treatments. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about a million people in the United States and roughly ten million people worldwide are afflicted with this diverse disorder which primarily affects dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra area of the brain. The cause of Parkinson’s remains largely unknown.

While no two cases of Parkinson’s disease present exactly the same way, there are some similarities for each person affected by the disease. Symptoms tend to develop slowly, with many sufferers experiencing tremors, a slowing of movements, gait and balance problems and rigidness of their limbs. The progression of the symptoms varies widely from person to person due to the diversity of the disease, and while there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment options such as medication and surgery can help to manage symptoms. While these treatments neither slow nor halt the progression of the disease, they do improve quality of life for those suffering from Parkinson’s.

Although the movement-related (motor) symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are the most visible signs of the disorder, they are often less troubling than non-motor symptoms of the disease, which can include cognitive impairment, depression, constipation, sleep behavior disorders and loss of sense of smell.

While Parkinson’s disease presents differently in each affected individual, there are some warning signs that you may have the disease; you should speak with your primary care provider if you notice any of the following:

TREMOR

If you’ve noticed a slight shakiness or tremor in your finger, hand, thumb or chin, speak with your provider. Tremors that occur while at rest are early indicators of Parkinson’s disease.

LOSS OF SMELL

Are you no longer able to smell certain foods very well? If you are having trouble smelling foods like licorice, dill pickles or bananas, talk your doctor about Parkinson’s.

LIMITED MOBILITY

If you’re having trouble moving or walking due to stiffness in your arms, legs or body that doesn’t resolve with movement, it may be an early sign of Parkinson’s

TROUBLE SLEEPING

Sudden movements, along with thrashing around in bed during sound sleep can be indicators of Parkinson’s disease and should be addressed with your physician.

DIZZINESS OR FAINTING

If you feel dizzy or faint when rising from a chair, speak with your doctor. Feeling dizzy and faint can be a sign of low blood pressure and this can be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

If you or a loved one are facing a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the best way to begin is to work with your primary care physician to develop a plan to help stay healthy. That plan may include:

  • A referral to neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain
  • Sessions with an occupational therapist, speech therapist or physical therapist
  • An exercise program to help delay further symptoms of the disease
  • Conversations with family members so that they can understand what kind of support you may need
  • A visit with a medical social worker to help you understand the impact Parkinson’s may have on your life and the lives of your loved ones

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand how difficult it is to face a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, there is hope for living a purposeful, active and enjoyable life with proper disease management. If you are experiencing any of the symptom noted above, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about Parkinson’s disease. For more information about the care we provide to residents with Parkinson’s in our Senior Lifestyle communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

The Longest Day

Posted by in Special Events.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and The Longest Day is all about fun for a worthy cause. Around the country and around the world, teams will participate in events, raise awareness, and donate funds to the fight against Alzheimer’s on the Summer Solstice, June 21st. The Alzheimer’s Association provides ideas for activities on their homepage, encouraging participants to “Do something you love — or honor a caregiver, someone living with Alzheimer’s, or someone you’ve lost by selecting his or her favorite hobby. From swimming to scrapbooking, you’re limited only by your imagination.” Every day in our communities, our team members show their dedication and compassion for our residents and families dealing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and at Senior Lifestyle we’re honored to continue that dedication, supporting the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association by participating in The Longest Day. 

Last year our Senior Lifestyle teams participating in The Longest Day event raised nearly double the amount of our fundraising goal of $50,000. From bowl-a-thons and bake-offs to gala events with silent auctions, our teams created activities that truly made time fly. Once again, Senior Lifestyle is proud to be a Global Partner in the fight against Alzheimer’s and with 19 teams and 39 participants so far, we expect our efforts this year to be just as spectacular!  

As a leading national provider of independent living, assisted living, and memory care, Senior Lifestyle is committed to supporting those who live, support, care for, and walk alongside those on this journey. Like so many others around the country, our employees are personally impacted by this disease; we are sisters, brothers, daughters and sons of people battling Alzheimer’s. One team member summarized this impact perfectly when they said, “Watching my Dad’s face when he was given the diagnosis of Early Stage Alzheimer’s was one of the hardest days of my life. From that day on, my commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association and to improving care and treatment for those living with this disease became more than a profession, it became my personal mission.” 

Mark your calendar for June 21st and join us at Senior Lifestyle as we raise funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to join a team, participate in an event, or simply make a monetary donation to add your voice to those working to raise awareness and end Alzheimer’s! To learn more about how we’re supporting The Longest Day in a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com 

The Caregiver Crunch

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Providing care for a family member is a big responsibility, one no family member is ever truly prepared for. At Senior Lifestyle we often speak with families who are in what we call the caregiver crunch: the caregiver has responsibilities to his or her family and career as well as to the loved one in need of care and feels simultaneously pulled in two directions and compressed between two very different but equally important roles. The crunch can create a host of difficulties for families and it can also create frustration, resentment and guilt for the caregiver. Since the bulk of caregiver duties often fall to one member of a family, it’s essential to have not only Plan A, but Plan B, C, and often D in place to cover any contingency that arises. 

It’s vitally important for caregivers to balance their needs with the needs of those they care for to avoid caregiver crunch, and this is where those back-up plans come in quite handy. When caregivers need to be away for any reason, a plan to ensure care continuity is good for not only the loved one needing care but the caregiver as well, helping to ease caregiver guilt, an emotion that can sabotage any caregiver. While it can be difficult to contemplate being away from a family member who clearly wants you and only you, it is imperative that caregivers have time away, not only to meet other family responsibilities, but also to simply regroup and re-energize before returning to caregiving. 

Our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to provide the families we serve with guidance as they navigate the senior living journey, so we’ve provided a list of options for caregivers who need time away: 

FAMILY MEMBERS 

Meet with family members and make sure they understand the need for time away. Regularly scheduling a fill-in or a caregiver helper is a great way for the primary caregiver to get time away and assure themselves that someone else is trained properly to care for a loved one. This can be a source of comfort for the person needing care as well, as having a familiar face providing care helps provide consistency. 

ADULT DAY CARE 

Many communities have adult day services; if your loved one qualifies, these organizations can often help manage caregiving duties for families needing a break from caregiving, even if it’s only one day per week. Additionally, some adult day centers offer care on a drop-in basis. Check listings in your area for adult day services or speak to a social worker at your local senior center. 

PROFESSIONAL IN-HOME CARE 

In-home care agencies can often supplement the care provided by family members, and caregivers are trained to handle some tasks such as bathing that are difficult for family members to manage. Many agencies offer care on an hourly basis, so there is no major time and money commitment for families, and care is provided based specifically on the needs of your loved one. 

RESPITE CARE 

Many Senior Lifestyle communities offer respite care. Respite care, or short-term care, can be a great option for family caregivers needing time away to attend to other responsibilities. Whether for a business trip or a vacation, respite care offers the same level of care your loved one receives at home, with the added bonus of social interaction and activities designed specifically for their interests. Respite care is a great way to “test-drive” a community as well; a short-term stay can help a loved one decide if living in a senior community feels like a good choice. 

The caregiver crunch is real, and family caregivers need to find a workable balance between the needs of those they care for and themselves and their own needs; having a plan in place also helps caregivers avoid caregiver guilt when other responsibilities arise. At Senior Lifestyle we can help by providing guidance as families explore options such as in-home care and respite care. For more information on the options available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com 

Stress Awareness Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Stress: it’s all about how you handle it. When not managed properly, stress is responsible for a host of problems, from gastric issues like indigestion to depression and eating disorders. April is Stress Awareness Month, the perfect time to reflect on how we can better manage stress in our daily lives in order to stay healthy mentally, emotionally and physically. 

At Senior Lifestyle we often meet families dealing with stressful situations, families who look to us for guidance as they navigate the senior living journey. Whether looking for the perfect senior community for Mom, helping Dad downsize, or managing care at home for grandparents, stress is often part of the equation, and while a little stress is normal, chronic, long-term stress is not and it can have quite a negative impact on health.   

Since we know navigating the senior living journey can be stressful and our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to create the best possible experience for those we serve, we’d like to share some tips and stress management habits we’ve collected to help manage stress: 

GET SOME SLEEP 

Be sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep. You can’t manage stress (or anything else) if you’re exhausted. Being rested and refreshed will make you more effective at whatever you do, so get that shut-eye. 

KEEP A JOURNAL 

The simple act of putting words on paper gives them power and weight. Creating a record of positive thoughts, things you’re thankful for, and small victories will help to cement those memories in your brain, causing a shift toward more positive thinking, a major stress-reliever. 

TAKE A BREAK 

Whether you meditate, take a nap, or binge-watch your favorite Netflix offering, take time out to do absolutely nothing. Take your mind off the tasks at hand for a while and regroup; you’ll find that returning to a chore is easier when you’ve had a positive, stress-free period of time to prepare. 

TAKE A WALK 

Sometimes a breath of fresh air really is all you need. A change of scenery and a nice breeze can clear your head so that you can return to your task with renewed energy and perhaps even a better perspective. 

CLEAR THE CLUTTER 

An untidy physical environment can contribute to stress. Take time each day to keep clutter at bay, putting things in their proper places. This can be helpful for our mental environment as well: keep negative thoughts and worry at a distance and focus on the task at hand to become more productive. 

Incorporating good stress management habits during Stress Awareness Month can help you manage stress, whatever the source. At Senior Lifestyle, we know that life can be stressful and we understand the concerns that accompany caring for senior loved ones. Our Community Advisers can help alleviate that stress and address any concerns you have regarding senior living, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community in your area by visiting our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com