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.

Wonderfully Wellderly: Celebrating Senior Health & Wellness

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

We 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. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe age does not have to limit learning, growth, or vitality – which is why we’re celebrating Wellderly Week.

Wellderly Week redefines “acting your age” by encouraging seniors to pursue a passion, take up a new hobby, and do what makes them happy. For many seniors, their retirement years present an opportunity to develop interests that were shelved during their working years. Often this shift in thinking helps to maintain physical and mental health, providing a social outlet as well as a rise in physical activity.

Well and elderly need not be mutually exclusive! Today’s senior living communities have moved beyond Bingo, providing events geared toward the social and physical activity levels of their residents, including social outings as well as lifelong learning opportunities. Many college campuses also offer courses geared to the needs of the aging population, and community service organizations boast a vibrant senior membership focused on giving back and sharing their life experiences with younger members.

Experts agree, maintaining senior physical health through exercise tailored to your level of ability can also help to maintain mental and emotional health. What exercises fit best into a senior’s health program?

Walking. No special equipment required! The biggest investment may be a pair of comfortable shoes. Walking helps maintain mobility, and decreases muscle loss.

Swimming. Swimming promotes heart health, provides low impact aerobic benefits and helps maintain flexibility.

Seated Flexibility.
For seniors with decreased mobility, seated exercises can be beneficial. These exercises focus on maintaining joint health, function and range of motion.

Seniors today are an amazing group of people. Through active senior lifestyles, better nutrition, and the pursuit of purpose-filled lives, they are living proof that “80 is the new 70”. Celebrate Wellderly Week and senior health with the words of poet Robert Browning: “Grow old with me! the best is yet to be!” For more information on how your local community celebrates our “Wellderly” residents, visit our site to find the location nearest to you.

Detecting Alzheimer’s Symptoms & Stages

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness, Food and Nutrition, Expert Advice, Research.

Alzheimer’s disease, a syndrome that affects the brain and cognitive function, can be a challenging disease to learn about, particularly when considering the devastating effects this disease can have on all those it touches. But knowing Alzheimer’s symptoms and Alzheimer’s stages can help prepare you in case someone you love receives this diagnosis or begins to show signs of Alzheimer’s.

Consider this: The Alzheimer’s Association – the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research – estimates that 5.4 million Americans have the disease. Of those afflicted, 96 percent are older than 65. Taken as a whole, dementia is the sixth leading cause of death in America, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Those are frightening numbers that are only expected to grow.

Senior Lifestyle has developed award-winning programs and care to help cope with the effects of the disease. Senior Lifestyle’s memory care and Alzheimer’s care specialists work directly with staff, residents, and their families to ensure residents receive the comprehensive care and attention they deserve.

But the first step is identifying the diseases stages, symptoms and warning signs.

3 Stages of Alzheimer’s
Detecting the progression of Alzhiemer’s can be challenging because the disease affects everyone differently and there is much overlap between Alzheimer’s stages. Generally, experts divide Alzheimer’s into three stages.
1. Mild or Early Stage: Usually lasts 2-4 years; often undetectable, but characterized by frequent memory loss, especially of recent interactions and experiences, losing track of time and becoming lost in formerly familiar locations.
2. Moderate or Middle Stage: Lasts anywhere between 2-10 years; cognitive decline is easily observed; memory continues to decline and family may become less identifiable; memory, reasoning and basic motor skills continues to get worse; mood swings, delusions, aggression and uninhibited behavior may occur.
3. Severe or Late Stage: Usually last 1-3 years; individuals are unable to care for themselves for the most part as symptoms continue to devolve; Basic verbal communication and motor skills are extremely hindered.

10 Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

1. Memory loss that affects daily life
2. Inability to follow directions or solve simple problems.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Becoming disoriented about space and time
5. Trouble with depth perception, colors or reading
6. Problems expressing thoughts in conversation
7. Misplacing things or putting possessions in nonsensical places
8. Poor judgment with money, clothing or grooming
9. Withdrawal from friends and social network
10. Mood swings

Unfortunately, there is no way to totally prevent or cure Alzheimer’s, but research and medicine continue to progress. By recognizing Alzheimer’s symptoms and identifying Alzheimer’s stages, you or your loved ones can start memory care treatment that can temporarily slow signs of the disease and improve quality of life for those afflicted and for their families.

Raising Alzheimer’s Awareness

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Special Events, Research.

Did you know nearly 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia? And that every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s?

It’s time to take an active role in reducing those numbers. A growing body of researches suggests that there are ways you can potentially reduce your risk of decline in cognitive abilities. In honor of our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association® on The Longest Day, we wanted to share some key lifestyle routines you can adopt today that may help keep your brain healthy as you age.

GET MOVING- Studies suggest that cardiovascular activities can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Engaging in cardiovascular activities increases your heart rate, and therefore increases blood flow to your brain and body. This type of activity also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which are linked to a higher risk of dementia. Working out doesn’t have to be strenuous on the body, it can be simple things such as power walking, jogging, riding a bike, or swimming.

BE CHALLENGED- Another great way to support your brain health is through mental stimulation. Those who continue to learn and challenge their brains have been shown to have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Make it a point in your life to be mentally engaged. Learn a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, read books and newspapers, work on puzzles, or pick up a new hobby.

GET SOCIAL – Studies suggest that being social reduces your risk of depression, and may delay the onset of dementia. There are many ways to get or stay social. Participate in a club or group, volunteer, be actively involved with friend and family, or get involved with your local Alzheimer’s Association’s events. The key is to stay connected to causes, activities, and people that are important to you.

Research suggests the combined effects of the lifestyle routines above along with good nutritional habits have the most powerful impact. By following these simple steps you can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and support a strong and healthy mind. To find out other ways to sharpen your cognitive abilities, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website today or join Senior Lifestyle in their quest to GET MOVING, BE CHALLNGED, and GET SOCIAL all while raising funds and awareness for those impacted by Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day.

If you have a loved one you are concerned about having Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, we invite you to learn more about our Senior Lifestyle® Memory Care program at select communities that provides the finest in memory care.

Seeking the Right Treatment for Arthritis

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Anyone who experiences arthritis knows it can be quite painful, unpredictable and particularly difficult find the best treatment. With such a painful disease so commonly affecting our residents and families alike, we took some time to look at arthritis and its causes, common forms of treatment for arthritis, and different ways you may be able to find arthritis relief.

Arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Despite how common this category of diseases is, many people remain largely unaware of arthritis’ causes. There are actually more than 100 kinds of arthritis, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Deterioration of cartilage on the ends of bones causes this degenerative form of arthritis, often leading to weakness in joints and pain, swelling, and stiffness over time. The many other types of arthritis fall into three other categories: inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis.

When it comes to treatment for arthritis, there are many different approaches based on the type of arthritis that a patient has. Typical treatments for arthritis aim to reduce joint pain in arthritis sufferers, as this is typically the most straightforward means of arthritis relief. Other means of treatment for arthritis, in cases of rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis, include various drugs that intervene against your immune system, preventing it from attacking your own inflamed joints. Ultimately, the right individual treatment for arthritis comes down to the type and severity of arthritis of each individual.

Aside from these treatments, in cases of mild and moderate arthritis, self-management of symptoms can be the best way to find arthritis relief. This relief typically comes from finding the right balance between exercise and rest. The right exercise can strengthen your muscles and joints, and activities like yoga can improve your strength and range of motion in the affected joints. Activity that provides arthritis relief must also be balanced with adequate rest, pain management, and sleep to ensure that symptoms of arthritis are not exacerbated by overuse.

If you’re seeking treatment for arthritis, talk to your doctor today to find an effective treatment regimen that suits your needs. In the meantime, stay tuned to the Senior Lifestyle blog for more helpful and healthful information.

Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

With temperatures on the rise and summer just around the corner, it’s all too easy to forget the risk of dehydration in the elderly during those warmer temperatures. Before you jump right to grabbing an extra water bottle, we have some additional precautionary steps and ways to monitor dehydration to help you make the most of the summer sun without the risk.

As we age, several changes in the body can actually make the possibility of dehydration more likely to occur and harder to notice until it’s too late. Dehydration in elderly adults is more common than in younger people because older adults’ ability to conserve water reduces over time; simply put, they don’t get quite as much mileage as they once did out of the fluids they consume. Additionally, dehydration in the elderly can be more difficult to detect as their sense of thirst weakens with age. For those of us accustomed to knowing we need to drink some water in response to the simple sensation of being thirsty, this is especially problematic. Add to these factors the reality that many older adults regularly take medications with a diuretic effect, and it quickly becomes very clear why we need to keep a watchful eye for dehydration in the elderly.

Whether you’re out in the summer sun or a building without air conditioning, be on the lookout for common signs of dehydration in the elderly, including dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, increased heartrate, low blood pressure, and fatigue. Do not take dehydration lightly; complications can include cramps, heat exhaustion, seizures, hypovolemic shock, and other dangerous conditions.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent dehydration in the elderly, including talking to your doctor to see if a regularized hydration program is right for you. Otherwise, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet high fruits and vegetables, which are high in water content. Always be conscious of times when you’ll require extra fluids, like when you’re sick and both during and after exercise or periods of sweating. With an extra bit of attention, you can stay hydrated and healthy this summer, avoiding the potential danger of dehydration in the elderly.

Elderly Depression vs. Dementia: What’s the Difference?

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression. For senior citizens, a loss of mental sharpness could be a sign of either elderly depression or dementia, both of which are common in older adults and the elderly. So how do you tell the difference?

Elderly depression is a mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, such as memory loss. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

Since geriatric depression and dementia share many similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Here are some guidelines for figuring out the difference between elderly depression and dementia.

Response: People suffering from geriatric depression notice and are worried about their memory problems. Those with dementia are unconcerned with or in denial about their symptoms.
Mood: People with elderly depression have a pervasively sad mood. People who have dementia are in a normal mood most of the time, and their mood often brightens with stimulation and support.
Memory: People with geriatric depression have difficulty concentrating and may even suffer occasional memory lapses. People with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble with short-term memory and storing new information, such as the recent visit of a close relative or what they ate for dinner.
Language and motor skills: Depressed people have normal language and motor skills, although they may speak slowly at times. People with dementia often experience apraxia – trouble remembering how to perform previously learned and routine motor activities.

Whether you’re concerned about a loved one or your own cognitive decline, regardless of the cause, it’s important to see a doctor right away. If depression is the problem, memory, concentration, and energy will bounce back with treatment. Even in some types of dementia, symptoms can be reversed, halted, or slowed. If someone you know suffers from elderly depression or dementia, offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated.