Arthritis Awareness Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, a time to learn more about this condition that affects 1 in 5 adults in America, a number that includes many of those we serve at Senior Lifestyle. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this debilitating disease is the leading cause of disability in our country, affecting older adults, working-age people, and even children. The word arthritis is an all-encompassing term that refers to over 100 types of joint pain and joint disease, and while the condition is common, it is not well understood. For many arthritis sufferers, symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion, and while these symptoms may come and go, they tend to progress over time. The disease affects more women than men and the risk of arthritis increases with age.  

At Senior Lifestyle we’re committed to providing timely information on conditions that affect seniors, and we know that for the roughly 53 million Americans living with arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, with risk factors that increase with age. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is most common in people over the age of 65 and often occurs in the knees, hips, lower back and neck. The condition arises when the cartilage that normally provides a cushion for bones breaks down, causing pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joint. This can cause a “bone on bone” condition in the affected area that leads to increased pain and joint damage, often resulting in the need for joint replacement. 

If you’re living with arthritis, there are ways to minimize the pain as well as the long-term effects of the disease: 

EXERCISE  

While it may be difficult to think about exercise when joints are stiff and painful, studies show that a simple exercise plan that includes activities like walking and strength training is an important part of any arthritis treatment plan. Movement increases flexibility in the joint, while strength training helps to build muscle strength, providing support for the affected joint. Yoga, water aerobics and tai chi are excellent forms of exercise that incorporate slow stretching to improve flexibility and ease pain. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, an important factor in decreasing symptoms of osteoarthritis.  

DIET  

Maintaining a healthy weight limits stress on arthritic joints and helps to increase mobility. Decreasing caloric intake while increasing physical activity helps to achieve a healthy weight. Research also shows that diets high in saturated fats such as those found in processed foods can weaken cartilage, increasing the risk of damage. Red meat, sugar and refined carbohydrates also increase inflammation, a condition that worsens symptoms like swelling. An anti-inflammatory diet based on whole grains, fish, and fruits and vegetables is recommended. 

PAIN MANAGEMENT 

While exercise is helpful in managing pain and stiffness, medications are also available to help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis. Drugs called analgesics are available in pill form as well as creams, lotions and injections, and include acetaminophen and opioids. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are also an option used commonly to decrease swelling and pain. These include drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen and are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Stronger drugs called corticosteroids are taken by mouth or injected into the joint by a doctor to ease pain and inflammation. Additionally, hyaluronic acid, a natural component of joint fluid which breaks down in people with osteoarthritis, can be injected in the affected joint by a physician. Remember, it is important for those with arthritis to discuss pain management with a medical provider to be certain that maximum relief is obtained in a safe manner and side effects are minimized as much as possible. 

At Senior Lifestyle, one of our goals is helping our residents maintain health and wellness, so we provide activities, education and support for those living with arthritis as well as other chronic conditions. To learn more about activities designed to help residents achieve health and wellness goals at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

The Social Scene

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that for many, social interaction is a basic part of everyday life, but we also know that for some seniors, socialization can be hard to find. For a senior who doesn’t drive and lives alone, social interaction can become nearly non-existent if family or friends are not available for visits or to help with transportation. For a senior acting as caregiver for a spouse, the result is often the same. While they may have the means to leave the house, performing the duties of a caregiver may limit the time they are able to be away. Loved ones who are homebound may also miss many of the benefits of social interaction for seniors. 

Since studies have shown that social interaction provides a multitude of health benefits for seniors, one of our main goals at Senior Lifestyle is to expand the social options available to our residents and families. We know that by providing increased opportunities to socialize, we can enhance and enrich the lives of those we serve. 

Seniors reap the benefits of positive social interaction in a number of ways, from increased social and emotional well-being to improvements in physical and cognitive functions. Some of the benefits of social interaction for seniors include: 

RENEWED SENSE OF PURPOSE 

Interacting with other seniors in meaningful ways allows seniors to feel engaged and involved in the world around them. While caregivers are a wonderful source of company and comfort, studies show that our senior loved ones need to socialize with their peers as well. Sharing conversation or an activity with someone who shares similar interests not only provides positive interaction but may also spark a friendship. Seniors with physical limitations can still provide companionship and conversation with others who may be lonely, with both reaping the benefits of a purposeful social interaction and fostering a feeling of connectedness within their social circle. 

AN INCREASE IN MEMORY AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION 

Social activity reduces the risk of age-related memory loss, improving cognitive function and providing a boost to self-confidence. Seniors who feel confident that their wit and memory remain sharp are more apt to continue with social activities and to have a positive attitude toward social interaction. Even as mobility declines, this confidence in the senior’s ability to socialize helps to drive more interaction with peers, which in turn boosts the cognitive function of all involved, giving socially active seniors and their peers even more reason to attend group functions. 

POSITIVE IMPACT ON PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH 

Research shows that socially active seniors have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. While isolation has a negative impact on our immune systems, social interaction and a feeling of connectedness provides a positive effect, a boost that helps us avoid illness as well as emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. Creating opportunities for social interaction provides the benefit of overall improved health for the senior population of any community. 

At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to help those we serve live life to the fullest, so we strive to improve the well-being of our residents by providing creative outlets, clubs tailored to individual interests, outings designed to entertain and educate, and opportunities for our residents to simply socialize in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more about social opportunities available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

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 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 

Celebrate National Doctor’s Day

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Did you know today is National Doctor’s Day? Our goal at Senior Lifestyle is to provide the best possible experience for our residents and their families in our senior communities, and in order to meet that goal, we partner with local physicians as well as healthcare providers in our communities. In senior healthcare, family doctors are increasingly looked to as valued care partners and patient rights advocates. With an emphasis on maintaining optimum health for seniors, doctor/patient relationships have evolved into true partnerships, and 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 healthcare providers to help navigate the journey. We’re proud to share that journey with talented physicians who share our commitment to quality healthcare for seniors.

Doctor’s Day was first envisioned by Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles Almond, who felt that her husband and his fellow physicians deserved some recognition for the long hours they spent tending to the medical needs of their patients in rural Georgia in the early 1930’s. On March 30, 1933, Mrs. Almond, with the help of several other physicians’ wives, observed the first Doctor’s Day by hosting a luncheon for her husband and his colleagues, mailing greeting cards, and placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors. She chose the date to coincide with the anniversary of the first use of ether as a surgical anesthesia, pioneered by Georgia physician Dr. Crawford Long in 1842. By all accounts, the event organized by Mrs. Almond to honor physicians was a success, growing over the years into the holiday we now celebrate. 85 years later, National Doctor’s Day is a federally recognized healthcare holiday, signed into law by George Bush in 1990, and we at Senior Lifestyle continue the yearly tradition of honoring doctors on March 30th.

At Senior Lifestyle, we feel it is important to show appreciation for our fellow healthcare providers and care partners. While luncheons are still quite popular on National Doctor’s Day, there are many ways to celebrate the talented physicians who provide care. Many health organizations honor doctors with recognition ceremonies and some offer patients the opportunity to send personalized messages to their providers. With this in mind, we encourage you to join us in celebrating National Doctor’s Day on March 30th, taking time to thank the physicians who work in our communities and share our commitment to those we serve. To learn more about our commitment to senior healthcare or to schedule a visit to a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

National Diabetes Association Alert Day

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

March 27th is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, a time to shed some light on the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and encourage everyone to take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, a free, anonymous test to assess personal risk factors for the disease. Every year, more than one million people are diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease is the 7th leading cause of death in America. Almost 85 million Americans aged 18 and older have prediabetes, and over 25% of seniors have the disease. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age

At Senior Lifestyle our goal is to help those we serve live healthy, full lives; with that in mind we’re sharing some basic tips from the American Diabetes Association’s Living Healthy With Diabetes guide to help control the disease and avoid complications. You can also download the entire Living Healthy With Diabetes guide for your use at home.

Weight Control

For diabetics, maintaining a healthy weight can help manage the disease. For those who are overweight, losing even 10 to 15 pounds can make a difference. The American Diabetes Association recommends the Plate Method as an aid to creating a healthy diet.

The Plate Method:

  1. Imagine drawing a line down the middle of your dinner plate. Then on one side, cut it again so you will have 3 sections on your plate like the picture on your right.
  2. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.
  3. Now in one of the smaller sections, put starchy foods such as noodles, rice, corn, or potatoes.
  4. The other small section is for meat, fish, chicken, eggs, or tofu.
  5. Add an 8 oz glass of milk and one small piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit salad and you’ve got a great meal. (If you don’t drink milk, you can add an extra piece of fruit, light yogurt, or a small roll.)

Physical Activity

Being active is another great way to help control the symptoms of diabetes and avoid complications. Be sure to speak to your doctor about what types of activity he recommends. Everyday activities like gardening, walking, raking leaves and carrying groceries can count toward your physical activity. Any physical activity can help lower your blood glucose; however, there are other benefits to maintaining a healthy habit of being physically active.

Other benefits of physical activity include:

  • Improving your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Having more energy
  • Relieving stress
  • Burning calories to help you lose or maintain your weight
  • Keeping your joints flexible
  • Increasing your strength
  • Improving your balance to prevent falls
  • Lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke

Medication Management

If you have other conditions in addition to diabetes, you may be taking several different medications to manage those conditions as well as your diabetes. It is important to take each medication as prescribed and discuss any changes with your doctor. In order to stay on top of your medication schedule, the Living Healthy With Diabetes guide suggests the following:

  • Keep an updated list of your medicines (prescription, nonprescription, dietary supplements including vitamins, and herbal remedies). Record important information about each medicine.
  • Take all of your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you.
  • Use one pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions if possible.
  • Keep medicines in a cool, dry place.
  • Use a pill organizer.
  • Use a reminder timer, an alarm clock, or your mobile phone alarm to remind you when to take medicine.
  • Link pill-taking to something in your daily routine (for example, take your medicine right after you brush your teeth).
  • Use a chart or dry erase board to keep track of your pill-taking.

At Senior Lifestyle, we encourage you to observe American Diabetes Association Alert Day, take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, and if you do find yourself at an elevated risk for the disease, speak with your physician about what you can do to lessen your risk of diabetes. Many of the tips we’ve noted above are helpful in avoiding diabetes as well as living with it. To learn more about what we do to stay healthy and active at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

National Sleep Awareness Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Sleep. It’s one of the few things we absolutely can’t live without, but also something most of us rarely think about and rarely get enough of. According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. These disorders have a myriad of causes, from environmental factors to physical and emotional ailments, but all have one thing in common: they are detrimental to our health and well being. Sleep is important not only for rest, but also for repair, as many body systems undergo a period of restoration during normal sleep. March is National Sleep Awareness Month, the perfect time to implement healthy sleep habits and think about what you can do to get a good night’s rest.

At Senior Lifestyle we know that for seniors, good sleep is especially important. Quality sleep is essential for health, but unfortunately for many seniors, it is difficult to attain. The myth that seniors need less sleep than younger adults is untrue; they simply have more trouble getting the necessary 7 to 9 hours of rest nightly that all adults require to maintain good health. Seniors tend to have more trouble achieving restful sleep, with less deep sleep, more nighttime trips to the bathroom, and a tendency to wake often during the night. Seniors also tend to become drowsy earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning than younger adults, a change in sleep pattern that many find difficult to manage.

Several factors contribute to these interruptions of sleep for older adults, most notably the following:

  • Health Conditions
    • Chronic and acute illnesses that develop with age can affect the quality of sleep. Disease like arthritis can cause pain that interrupts sleep, while conditions such as diabetes make nighttime bathroom trips more frequent. Good management of health conditions can minimize their effect on quality sleep.
  • Medications
    • Medications often accompany the medical conditions experienced by seniors. Older adults are more likely to be taking several medications concurrently, and drugs such as those used to control high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression and anxiety can interfere with quality sleep. Physicians can often mitigate this situation by changing dosage times or even substituting medications for others that don’t cause a lack of sleep.
  • Hormones
    • Melatonin and growth hormone both important sleep hormones, and unfortunately, as we age, we secrete less of both. Growth hormone causes deep sleep and melatonin regulates the sleep cycle. Without adequate amounts of both hormones, it is more difficult for seniors to fall deeply asleep and stay asleep long enough to reap the benefits of a period of rest. The hormonal changes that accompany menopause also often result in interrupted sleep.

During National Sleep Awareness Month, focus on not only getting enough sleep, but getting quality sleep. If you think lack of sleep is becoming a problem for you, make sure to speak to your physician about what you can do to get the rest you need in order to stay healthy and active. At Senior Lifestyle we know that getting older doesn’t have to mean being tired all the time, and your doctor can often recommend simple lifestyle changes and pre-bedtime routines that will improve your sleep habits as well as your overall sense of well being.

What it Means to be Wellderly

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

Are you wellderly? At Senior Lifestyle our goal is to be sure that every resident in our senior communities has the opportunity to be wellderly, so we celebrate Wellderly Week starting on Monday, March 19th with events designed to provide activities in which our residents may find a new passion or talent. We at Senior Lifestyle often hear that age is just a number, but what that number signifies varies widely. For seniors, a life filled with purpose and meaning can make all the difference. Age does not have to limit learning, growth, or vitality, and for many seniors, their retirement years present an opportunity to develop interests that were shelved during their working years.

What does it mean to be “wellderly”? There is a big difference between the number of years you live, or life span, and the number of years you live in optimal health, or health span. Researchers are in the process of studying men and women who are at least 85 years of age who have lived long lives devoid of chronic disease. These people have a very long health span and Eric Topol, MD, a Scripps Health geneticist, refers to these extraordinary people as the “wellderly” and is working to find out what makes them so.

Some goals to optimize the aging process and build the foundation for “wellderliness” from Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, an internationally renowned expert in integrative and preventive medicine:

  1. Focus on achieving a long health span. The goal is not to live long—that’s the life span, which is the number of years you live—rather, it’s to focus on living the longest and most joyful health span possible. Health span years are ones characterized by independent, vibrant, joyful, satisfying, and vital living, either devoid of impairment or with minimal impairment as a result of disease or disability. It’s all relative. The key is to live life to the fullest as you define it.
  2. Practice a healthy lifestyle. You know the drill by now. Mental, spiritual, and physical fitness are of paramount importance if you’re going to live long and well. Wherever you are on your journey, from beginner to master, the key is to keep up your daily practice of nourishing mind and body, continuously creating new challenges and seeking new adventures. That’s the essence of thriving, not just surviving.
  3. Get real. No one—not even the Super Wellderly—escapes aches and pains, sagging body parts, creaky joints, fading vision, and diminished energy. The good news is that if you’re taking optimal care of yourself, you’ll more likely experience less of this age-related mind-body impact. Ditch the “antiaging” hype and embrace the realistic, rewarding goal of augmenting and supporting an optimal aging process.

Finally, express gratitude every time you wake up and realize that you’re still here to thrive and continue this awesome adventure of life.

For our purposes at Senior Lifestyle, the word wellderly refers to those seniors who are able to participate in the activities that bring them joy, give them purpose, and keep them active, pursuits that we at Senior Lifestyle believe contribute greatly to the quality of life of our residents. In our senior communities, we tailor our activities, events and outings to the specific wants and needs of our residents, often discovering new favorite activities from the suggestions of residents. For more information about upcoming events and activities at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Is it Alzheimer’s?

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a dementia diagnosis can be frightening. We also know that for many people, the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s Disease” are interchangeable, making a diagnosis of dementia even more stressful. While Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for about 60 to 80 percent of cases, there are other types of dementia. Senior Lifestyle’s unique memory care philosophy, embrace, offers a holistic care program tailored to the specific needs of our residents with differing forms of dementia.

Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term describing cognitive decline that is severe enough to impair a person’s ability to manage daily life. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with dementia, with memory loss being the most recognizable; however, memory loss alone does not mean that a person has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Additionally, there is no one singular test for dementia; doctors may make a diagnosis of dementia based on a physical examination, a careful review of medical history, specific changes noted in everyday behavior, as well as laboratory tests. For a diagnosis of dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

While many forms of dementia are both permanent and progressive, meaning the condition will worsen over time, some types of dementia can be reversed when an underlying issue such as depression, medication side effects, excess use of alcohol or thyroid problems is addressed. Additionally, urinary tract infections in seniors can cause a sudden change in mental status known as delirium which often disappears when the underlying infection is treated. While the sudden onset of delirium can be frightening for both the senior and his or her caregivers, it is important to note that this condition is most often a short-lived change which subsides with treatment of the UTI. It is important to address any change in mental status with your health professional to determine the cause and course of treatment available.

When facing a diagnosis of dementia, it is vitally important for families to know what treatments and resources are available to them. At Senior Lifestyle, we encourage families to join Alzheimer’s/Dementia support groups such as those offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, including their online Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center. Additionally, we offer our award-winning embrace memory care philosophy, a program developed to provide care not only for the person with dementia, but for the entire family. For more information about memory care at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.