Fight the Flu

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice.

The flu season is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you have to join the party. At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a bout of influenza is not only miserable with its hallmark symptoms of fever, body aches, cough, sore throat and fatigue, it’s also dangerous for seniors, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. The flu can worsen existing chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, and chronic congestive heart failure. While complications of the flu can happen to anyone, the risk is higher for these groups, so it is critical to avoid infection and remain vigilant during flu season to prevent exposure to the flu.

Flu shots are the first line of defense against seasonal flu, while good hygiene and common sense play a part in avoiding the flu as well. At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to keep our residents, team members and families as healthy as possible at all times, including flu season, so we’re sharing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Take 3” list of preventive measures, which includes tips to limit the duration and severity of the flu if infection should occur:

  • Vaccinate! First and foremost, getting a yearly flu shot is the best bet in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the vaccine before the flu season hits their community, ideally before the end of October each year. While no vaccine can prevent every strain of the virus, the yearly vaccine is based on research that indicates which strains are most likely. It is vital that health care workers, those who provide care for infants under 6 months of age, and those at higher risk of complications of the flu be vaccinated.
  • Stop Germs. Good handwashing practices are a great defense against the flu. Wash hands often with soap and water. Limit the spread of germs by avoiding touching your nose, eyes and mouth. If you do become ill, stay home! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and limit your contact with others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours to avoid spreading the flu.
  • Take antiviral flu drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral medications can limit the duration and severity of the flu. For those at risk of complications of the flu, antiviral medications can mean the difference between a mild illness and a hospital stay. According to the CDC, antiviral drugs work best when started within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms, but they can still be effective if started later, especially for people at risk of flu complications. Antiviral medications must be prescribed by a doctor.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that flu season is no fun, but taking commonsense precautions like vaccinating and handwashing can help you avoid becoming ill. If the flu does hit, be sure to limit your interaction with others until your illness abates, and take antiviral medications if prescribed by your doctor. For more information about what we are doing in our communities to combat this illness, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Hobbies are Healthy

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

What’s your hobby? Do you knit, bake, build ships-in-a-bottle? Studies show that hobbies (with the possible exception of things like competitive eating and sword-swallowing) are good for us, and since January is National Hobby Month, we at Senior Lifestyle would like to highlight a few senior hobbies that have proven to help maintain physical, mental and emotional health. Of course, pursuing a hobby is healthy at any age, but has a significant positive impact on health for seniors.

What makes hobbies healthy? For those with busy, stressful lives, hobbies provide an outlet that isn’t stressful or work-related, but just as importantly, isn’t just doing nothing, which can be just as stressful for the person who thrives on order, activity and a busy schedule. Taking time for hobbies offers busy people a chance to recharge as well as to reclaim some time for themselves. Additionally, purposefully choosing the activity instead of feeling pushed toward the next responsibility helps to ease stress.

Why are senior hobbies so important for maintaining health? For many seniors, the retirement years represent a drastic change from busy lifestyles spent working, raising children and being active in the community. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe that retirement doesn’t have to mean inactivity, and that’s why we focus on providing activities and events that spark creativity, foster independence and promote socialization. Residents are always encouraged to share their hobbies and our Senior Lifestyle Programming Coordinators love to incorporate new ideas into our activity calendars, so show us your hobby!

A few of our most popular offerings:

 

  • GARDENING

Do you have a green thumb? From growing fresh vegetables to cutting gardens, you can get your hands dirty and make a beautiful difference in your surroundings!

 

  • VISUAL ARTS

There is something magical in creating a painting or a sculpture. Novices and seasoned artists alike channel creative energy and experiment with different mediums while making new friends.

 

  • OUTINGS

Enjoying a night on the town, a shopping excursion, or taking in a new show at the local theatre is always more fun with friends! If you love to be out and about, we always have a fun trip planned and you’re always welcome to join us.

 

  • FITNESS

Are you passionate about your health? Walking clubs provide company and conversation, classes are offered in Tai Chi, Chair Dancing and more, and our fitness areas in Senior Lifestyle communities provide all the tools to stay in shape!

Senior Lifestyle encourages you to enjoy National Hobby Month by trying a new activity or looking into senior hobbies offered in your area. You may just find a great way to spend your time as well as some new friends! To learn more about activities offered at a Senior Lifestyle community near you or to schedule a tour of your local Senior Lifestyle community, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Quality of Life

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

January traditionally symbolizes new beginnings, a time to reflect on your life and its purpose, identify what makes you happy, and make changes. Not so coincidentally, the first month of the new year is also International Quality of Life Month. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that while many of us focus on resolutions for the new year, we may not often think about how those resolutions will affect our quality of life. Weight loss is often a resolution, but when we tie it to quality of life, THEN we begin to understand that increased health, feelings of accomplishment and the satisfaction of meeting a goal help to contribute to an increased sense of our quality of life. This is especially important for seniors, as their resolutions may often be tied to maintaining or increasing health.

Quality of life is defined as “the degree of satisfaction an individual has regarding a particular style of life.”  But what really constitutes “quality of life”? Much like the pain scale at your doctor’s office, the answer varies from person to person and is completely subjective, and measuring these qualities is an altogether separate issue for each individual. Any evaluation of quality of life depends on how each person feels about relationships, work, health, spirituality, and a host of other factors. For many seniors, being able to live independently is the key; for others, feeling a sense of purpose and belonging is a major factor. Having a sense of life purpose is vital to the concept of quality of life as well.

A positive view of life is vitally important for seniors, resulting in increased energy, less stress and better appetite, amongst other benefits. Quality of life is closely tied to life purpose, the way in which an individual feels that he contributes to his community, and at Senior Lifestyle, we strive to help each resident uncover that purpose and move toward fulfilling their life purpose, knowing that the activities that give one person pleasure and a sense of purpose are unique to that person. We strive to really know our residents in order to help them discover their gifts, the talents and qualities that bring an enhanced quality of life. Staying mentally and physically active and staying connected to family, friends and community are also factors that increase quality of life for seniors.

At Senior Lifestyle, we focus on providing activities proven to help increase the quality of our residents’ lives through social events, outings and opportunities to volunteer in the community-at-large, as well as fostering strong connections with friends and family. To learn more about programs designed to enhance quality of life at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Changing Needs

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

The holidays are a wonderful time to re-connect with loved ones, enjoy family traditions, and recharge for the coming year. They also provide a unique opportunity to spend quality time with elderly relatives. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that once the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed, you may have concerns about changes noticed in your senior loved one over the holidays. According to a study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP,  roughly 15% of the estimated 34 million family members who provide care for an elderly loved one live more than an hour from their care recipient, so holiday visits often provide the clearest view of the changing needs of senior loved ones.

Since age-related decline can progress quickly, it is vital to use the time spent in person with elderly loved ones to assess any changes seen, paying close attention to their living situation as well as physical and mental health. Since seniors can be quite adept at minimizing any worsening or new problems, time spent face-to-face is an important factor in assessing emerging or changing needs of senior loved ones.

During gatherings, be sure to look for the following signs that your loved one may be in need of additional help such as in-home caregiving or assisted living:

  • Changes in balance and mobility

Changes in gait or a reluctance to walk may indicate muscle, joint or neurological problems. Decreased mobility also increases the risk of falls, so it is vitally important to seek medical advice if you see these changes. Keeping the home free of clutter may also help your loved one feel more confident in getting around.

 

  • Home Environment

If things appear to be out of place in a normally tidy atmosphere, it may be an indication that your loved one is struggling to keep up with the responsibilities of living at home. Check the refrigerator: are items out of date or spoiled? Look at incoming mail: are unpaid bills piling up? Noticeable changes in appearance such as lack of personal grooming or wearing unwashed clothing are also signs that additional help may be needed.

 

  • Weight Loss

Weight changes can be a sign of depression, unaddressed medical conditions or even dementia. Weight loss is often the first visible sign of a decline in condition. For many seniors, the prospect of preparing and eating a meal alone is emotionally draining, and the effort required to do so may be physically exhausting as well. If you see evidence of weight loss or a dramatic loss of appetite, it is vital to address the issue with your loved one as well as a doctor.

Did you notice changes in your senior loved one over the holidays? Be sure to share your concerns with your loved one and any caregivers involved in their activities of daily living, as well as your loved one’s doctor. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that it can be disconcerting for seniors to admit the need for additional help, but it is imperative to address the changing needs of senior loved ones. Helping seniors maintain an enriching and healthy lifestyle is our goal, so if you have questions about a Senior Lifestyle community near you or you’d like to learn more about senior care options, we invite you to visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Resolutions

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

Are resolutions part of your New Year’s ritual? If so, you’re in good company, as the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, thought to have been instituted by the ancient Babylonians, is still traditional for many. The Babylonians felt that making promises would bring favor from the gods and start the new year in a positive way, with resolutions often involving paying off debt and returning borrowed farm equipment. Today, resolutions range from personal health and fitness goals to random acts of kindness, each one as unique as the person who makes it. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that each new year brings new opportunities to build, learn and improve, and resolutions are always a part of the plan. According to StatisticBrain.com, the top 5 resolutions for 2017 were as follows:

  1. Lose Weight/Healthier Eating
  2. Life/Self Improvements
  3. Better Financial Decisions
  4. Quit Smoking
  5. Do more exciting things

Did you know there’s actually a Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day? There is, and it falls on January 17th in 2018, so if you’ve found yourself regretting any hasty promises, this is the day for you! Only 44.8 % of people polled by StatisticBrain.com claimed to have maintained their resolutions past the 6-month mark. At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve found that the secret to making New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually keep is to set achievable goals and break those goals into manageable steps. Those resolutions that are set aside before February are often crafted from great aspirations, they just ask too much too soon and we become overwhelmed. Studies show that people who make detailed resolutions are far more likely to keep those resolutions than those who set vague or unfocused goals, so if you’re looking to stay the course, make a plan!

Each year at Senior Lifestyle we resolve to actively seek out innovations that help our residents live their best lives, to consistently approach senior living modeled on person-centered care, and to provide opportunities for team members in each of our senior communities to grow and succeed. All lofty goals, of course, but all worthy of our attention and all achievable! Our resolutions are defined and refined yearly, and best of all, shared by every member of our organization. To see our New Year’s resolutions in action, we encourage you to visit a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, or visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Happy New Year!

Preventing Holiday Falls

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Holidays.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that the holidays can be a bit stressful. If you’re hosting a holiday get-together, you are most likely contemplating the menu, the planning, the shopping, and the cleaning as you prepare to welcome your guests. If your guest list includes elderly family members or guests, there may be another step to take in your party planning: assessing your home for fall risks. Fall risk is higher for seniors than other age groups, with the number of falls and the severity of injuries increasing as well, according to Dr. Lisa Cannada of Saint Louis University Hospital. According to the CDC, one out of three adults over the age of 65 falls, and holidays often see a surge in the frequency of falls, simply because house guests are unfamiliar with the layout of a home, says Dr. Cannada. Preventing holiday falls requires a small amount of extra effort, but some commonsense tips make the process easily manageable.

Several factors increase the risk of a fall for a senior in an unfamiliar setting. Says Dr. Cannada, “They may be unaware of other environmental factors in the home that could put them at risk for a fall such as loose rugs, damaged flooring, poorly lit areas and cluttered furniture.”

Dr. Cannada recommends taking the following precautions for preventing holiday falls:

  • It’s easy to accumulate clutter, such as boxes of décor and stacks of gifts from holiday shopping. Take the time to declutter your home and make improvements to prevent falls and keep family and friends safe.
  • Keep the path between your front door, driveway and mailbox well-lit and clear of debris.
  • For cold weather locations, keep salt and a shovel near the front door so you do not have to walk on an icy sidewalk in order to reach them.
  • Install a nightlight along the route between the halls/walkways of your home.
  • Clear clutter out of the hallways and off stairs
  • Secure loose area rugs with double-faced tape or slip-resistant backing;
  • Arrange furniture for a clear pathway between rooms
  • If you have young kids who will be visiting for the holidays or who live in your home, be sure to install child-proof gates next to the stairs in your home to prevent children from accessing them without adult supervision.
  • Children may receive lots of new toys for the holidays and scatter them around the house. It’s important to contain those toys in a dedicated play area and clean up toys after kids are done playing with them to avoid tripping.

 

Senior Lifestyle encourages you to limit fall risks in your home by taking precautions before guests arrive, and enjoy time with friends and family this holiday season. For information about a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Hospice Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Special Events.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Senior Lifestyle recognizes hospice care as a vital component of person-centered senior care, and while we realize the subject of hospice is often fraught with both emotion and confusion, we feel that this often-misunderstood facet of senior care is a valuable option that many families don’t explore because of the misconceptions surrounding it. This year’s theme for Hospice Month, “It’s About How You Live”, sheds light on the purpose and aim of hospice: a focus on caring instead of curing, allowing patients with life-limiting illnesses to navigate their end-of-life journey with dignity and compassionate care.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization shares some history about hospice care, noting that the first modern hospice, St. Christopher’s Hospice, was created in suburban London by physician Dame Cicely Saunders. Saunders began working with terminally ill patients in 1948 and coined the term “hospice” to describe specialized care provided for dying patients. In 1963, while serving as a guest lecturer at Yale University, Dame Saunders introduced the concept of hospice care to medical students, nurses, social workers and chaplains. Pointing to photographic evidence of terminal patients with their families, she showed the dramatic improvement brought about by providing symptom control care. Hospice care as we know it today is a direct result of this lecture.

Six important points to know about hospice from NHPCO:

  1. Hospice care is usually provided in the home – wherever the patient calls home. This includes assisted living communities and other long-term-care settings.
  2. Hospice cares for people with any kind of life-limiting illness. Patients of every age and religion can access hospice care.
  3. Hospice is fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans and HMOs.
  4. Hospice is not limited to six months of care. Patients and families are encouraged to contact a hospice provider when they receive a terminal diagnosis instead of waiting until the “last days” to benefit from all that hospice care has to offer. Pain management and symptom control offer significant physical benefits for patients as well as increased quality of life.
  5. Hospice is not “giving up”; rather the focus is on caring, not curing. Hospice organizations are also trained to help family members cope with the emotional aspects of caring for a terminally ill loved one, as well as the grieving process when that loved one passes.
  6. Anyone can contact hospice – so call your local program to learn if hospice is right for you or your loved one. Each hospice provider in an area may do things slightly differently, so choose an organization based on your needs. Many hospitals and skilled care facilities can offer suggestions or information on hospice care.

Senior Lifestyle communities welcome hospice organizations as care partners and recognize the incredibly vital service they provide not only for our residents but their families as well. Our communities partner with hospice organizations to provide care for our residents who choose to walk their end-of-life journey with us; we are honored to do so. To learn more about services and lifestyle options at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Get Ahead of the Winter Blues

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice.

Do you get the winter blues? If you do, it turns out that you are not alone. Feelings of sadness that seem hard to shake during the winter months are more common than you might think. While it isn’t winter yet, the cold days are quickly approaching, and for many, the cold and dark of the winter months make life a misery. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that cycles with seasonal changes, typically causing symptoms such as a loss of energy, an increased appetite, and an overall feeling of tiredness. Since our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to optimize the overall health and well-being of seniors, our communities use specific tools and activities designed to lessen the effects of SAD.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic say that the decline in the amount of daylight during fall and winter is to blame for SAD, and note that this form of depression is more common in northern areas. While hazards like slips and falls and hypothermia often top the list of concerns for caregivers of seniors during winter months, our older loved ones are also at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder, as well as vitamin D deficiency, both linked to lack of exposure to the sun. For some seniors, this is compounded by fears of being outside in the icy cold weather and risking a fall. If a senior is homebound or uses an assistive device like a cane or a walker, getting outside for some sunshine in the winter can be very difficult. Many of our Senior Lifestyle communities are designed specifically to maximize natural light, an important element in combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder. Since isolation is a factor in depressive symptoms for many seniors, light-filled common areas abound in our communities, perfect settings for conversation and games.

The good news is that there are some simple things caregivers can do to mitigate the effects of the “winter blues”. Mayo Clinic recommends making lifestyle changes to manage SAD with some easy home remedies. Sometimes, small changes in the indoor environment can help. Moving a bed closer to the window, opening curtains and blinds to allow in more natural light, and adding bright colors and plants can help. Some people find that adding physical exercise like walking is a good remedy, along with eating a well-balanced diet, which helps to combat vitamin D deficiency as well. Certainly if the weather permits, taking a stroll outside in the sunshine is also a great idea! Popular features of many of our Senior Lifestyle communities are the outdoor courtyard sitting areas and walking paths.

For sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder who can’t get out, light therapy is an alternative. This therapy uses a “light box” which is just a fluorescent lamp that mimics natural sunlight. The user simply turns on the lamp and sits in front of it for a specified time each day. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional as you look into purchasing a light box to learn which one will work best for you and your situation.

While it’s more than just a case of the “winter blues”, Seasonal Affective Disorder can often be controlled with some lifestyle adaptations and easily managed changes. To learn more about our fall and winter activities at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Senior Lifestyle Celebrates National Nurses Week

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Holidays.

May 6th, National Nurses Day, marks the beginning of a yearly, week-long celebration of nurses. The celebration culminates on May 12th, the birthday of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. Nightingale was known as “the Lady with the Lamp” due to her propensity for doing nightly rounds while treating wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. She drastically reduced the death rate of the wounded with her strict adherence to handwashing and hygiene practices. Her work in the Crimean War and in establishing St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses paved the way for the profession of nursing as we know it today. Prior to Nightingale’s work, nursing was considered a menial job, looked down upon by the upper classes. Nightingale, however, felt that nursing was a divine calling for her. This sentiment is echoed by many nurses today, who call the profession a vocation. Senior Lifestyle is proud to recognize the contributions of nurses everywhere who answered this call and providing quality care as well as compassion in every setting.

Nurses are the foundation of the medical profession. They often work long hours to assist with care needs both large and small, whether in a hospital setting, a provider’s office, or a senior living community. While on shift, personal concerns take a backseat to patient care. Nurses also spend a great deal of time on charting, paperwork and continuing education, often on their own time. Even with all these factors in play, many nurses, like Florence Nightingale, claim that the profession chose them! Nursing is consistently ranked as one of the most trusted professions, and rightly so; nurses often see us at our worst. They care for us when we’re in pain, frightened and confused; despite nearly impossible workloads, they dispense kindness and comfort along with medications, easing the stress of being a patient.

At Senior Lifestyle, we are continually amazed by the dedication our nurses show each day, providing top notch clinical care and an unmatched level of compassion for our residents and their families. They prove that nursing is as much an art as it is a science, especially in senior living. To learn more about Nurses Week celebrations in a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website, and of course, be sure to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s legacy by thanking a nurse!

Doctor’s Day: Celebrating Care Partners

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Holidays.

On March 30, 1933 in the small town of Winder Georgia, Eudora Brown Almond, wife of local physician Charles B. Almond, organized the first-ever Doctor’s Day celebration. With the help of several local physicians’ wives, Eudora planned a luncheon for her husband and his colleagues to recognize their efforts in the communities they served . A fitting way to celebrate local doctors at the time, since it’s quite likely that they missed a few meals while out on calls in rural northeastern Georgia, Doctor’s Day is now nationally celebrated as a way to recognize our valuable care partners.

The celebration of Doctor’s Day has evolved over the years, just as our relationships with our own physicians have evolved. Thankfully, the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has fallen out of fashion and the family doctor is no longer considered a person to be avoided. In senior healthcare, family doctors are increasingly looked to as valued care partners and patient rights advocates. With an emphasis on maintaining optimum health, doctor/patient relationships are evolving into true partnerships.

As a leader in senior healthcare, Senior Lifestyle celebrates this evolving doctor/patient relationship along with our residents and families. Whether providing care for a loved one at home or searching for senior healthcare communities, families need trusted care partners to help navigate the journey. We’re proud to share the journey as well.

While luncheons remain quite a popular gift idea for busy physicians, hospitals also offer perks like spa services, personalized gifts, and recognition ceremonies on Doctor’s Day. Many health organizations also offer patients the opportunity to send personal messages to physicians, so be sure to thank a doctor on March 30th! Visit our Facebook page at Senior Lifestyle to learn more about how your local communities are celebrating National Doctor’s Day.