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!

Holiday Happenings

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Holidays.

December is a celebratory month at Senior Lifestyle, and along with Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, this month provides a host of other lesser-known holidays for us to enjoy. On any given day in December, there’s a fun, possibly somewhat odd holiday to observe, and while we aren’t sure who’s in charge of the goofy holiday calendar, we’re always willing to celebrate!

December 21st held several noteworthy celebrations, not the least of which is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, winter in the Northern Hemisphere officially began December 21st at 10:28 am Central Standard Time, with the sun’s path reaching its southernmost position. After the 21st, the sun’s path starts to move northward, but the change is so slight that the path seems to stay the same, hence the term solstice, from the Latin words sol for sun and sistere, meaning to stand still. Perhaps not so coincidentally, December 21st is also National Flashlight Day (practical on the shortest and darkest day of the year) and Look on the Bright Side Day, a great idea for a cold, gray day in December!

Perhaps a little standing still is what we all need around this time of year. We get so caught up in following a plan sometimes that we fail to see the opportunities that present themselves daily, like a gift that’s always the right size and color. Hearing residents reminisce about holidays past and the presents they enjoyed most (hula hoops and tea sets seem to be popular!) is always a cheery and bright time in our Senior Lifestyle communities and it reminds us to slow down and enjoy the season.

We’re not suggesting that you ditch all your obligations and sit staring at the pretty lights until New Year’s Day, but we certainly hope that at some point during this season of wonder you are able to sit quietly and contemplate the bright moments of the waning year.  While you’re contemplating, remember to look forward to the bright new year that’s just around the corner.  If contemplating isn’t your style, we at Senior Lifestyle hope you have an impromptu get-together with friends and family to laugh and share your hopes for the new year.  We also hope that if a small child asks you to try the hula hoop, have a tea party, or watch the snow fall, you take the time to do so.  We promise, it will make your spirits bright!

However and whatever you celebrate, Senior Lifestyle wishes you the happiest of holidays from our family to yours, surrounded by friends, family and good cheer! For information on holiday events and celebrations at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Holiday Traditions

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Holidays.

If your loved one has recently moved to a senior community, they may be stressed about the changes that accompany a move. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that any move can be stressful, and we know that for most, holiday traditions and celebrations must evolve to accommodate the changes that come with a change of address. If this is the first holiday in a senior community for your loved one, new traditions may be the key to a stress-free celebration.

If your family’s holiday traditions have centered around gatherings in your senior loved one’s home, moving the celebration to another family member’s home can ease the transition for your loved one in a senior community. If Grandma has always been in charge of the meal preparation, dividing up the labor required for that task may also ease the stress for family members as well as for your loved one. It may be difficult for a senior to give up these responsibilities, so be sure to find ways to keep holiday traditions inclusive for the senior. Perhaps instead of taking on the entire meal, preparing a favorite dish for the meal may be a meaningful new tradition for your loved one.

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the urge to make the holiday season perfect in every way, focusing on minute details and forgetting about the very real joys to be experienced. The need to micro-manage get-togethers, meals and gifts can sabotage what should be a time of togetherness. Oftentimes, we simply want the very best for our family and friends, forgetting that what’s most important to them is the time spent together. This is a time when it really IS “the thought that counts.” At Senior Lifestyle, we know that simple pleasures and gifts of the heart are the most meaningful and the holiday traditions that have endured are the ones that feature laughter and togetherness.

Senior Lifestyle communities offer residents and families numerous events designed to make the most of the holiday season with new friends, from singalongs to socials, so be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to make the season bright and create new traditions to cherish! For more information about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Beyond Bingo

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Programs.

In 1929, Edwin S. Lowe created the modern version of the game we know as Bingo, but a similar game has been played in Europe since the 1500s. Easy to learn and play, Bingo has grown in popularity over the years, enjoyed by both young and old in settings from church basements to Bingo halls to senior communities.  December is Bingo’s birthday month, and while we love Bingo as much as the next person, (maybe even more!) at Senior Lifestyle we also love the variety of senior activities available at our communities. We believe that the opportunity for social engagement is vital to the health and well-being of our residents.

At Senior Lifestyle, we’re proud to offer our residents diverse opportunities for interaction, creativity and the pursuit of their passions. Our residents are the inspiration for many of our most popular programs and they are encouraged to suggest senior activities based on their personal preferences and interests. From book and gardening clubs to our award-winning Brain Health University, our residents have options for engagement every day. With a laugh, family members often claim that their loved one is “never home” when they call because the senior’s schedule is packed with things to do. Residents often express surprise at the ease of joining an activity as well, noting that they are busier than ever now that social events and hobbies are just a few steps away.

Brain Health University, a 2012 ALFA Best of the Best award winner, presents residents with a unique opportunity to learn more about subjects that intrigue them in a setting that fosters personal growth and provides a great opportunity to make new friends with similar interests. The program offers 30 different courses designed to enhance cognitive function and promote social interaction. Upon completion of 18 courses, residents receive a certificate of graduation and a celebratory event.

Discover Your Mark combines creative expression with continuity of culture by helping seniors participate in meaningful artistic outlets that help to illustrate their values and the wisdom they’ve accumulated over a lifetime of learning. The process of aging provides tremendous promise for growth and development via the arts, and today’s thinking looks at age not as a decline, but as a time of new experiences, learning and creative and productive contribution. Older adults have an abundance of social and emotional knowledge, and one way to pass on that wisdom is through artistic expression, an activity known to promote physical and cognitive health.

By removing the fear of technology through fun and engaging programs, .com Seniors inspires Senior Lifestyle residents to become tech-savvy and provides the means to experience and experiment with technology. This unique program offers a variety of opportunities for program directors to encourage seniors to engage in socially positive technology like Skype and Facebook, providing vital connections to friends and loved ones. The program removes psychological and physical barriers to utilizing technology as well as leveraging technology to elevate the quality of other programs offered in the community.

Our activity professionals at each Senior Lifestyle community provide a wide range of programs to meet the wants and needs of each resident. From physical fitness to creative arts to cooking demonstrations and acting classes, there truly is something for everyone. If your interests include catching a show or browsing the local shops, Senior Lifestyle can get you there as well with transportation provided for outings in the surrounding communities. We can coordinate trips to museums, theaters and casinos; we love to plan trips based on resident suggestions. For more information about the senior activities available at a Senior Lifestyle community near you or to schedule a tour, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. As for Bingo, it’s still on the calendar and you might even find us playing when you visit; it’s a classic for a reason and still as well-loved as ever!

Building Our Dining Experience

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

At Senior Lifestyle, we believe the dining experience should be as meaningful as any other activity in our communities, and our approach to the dining experience, from locally sourced ingredients to menu input from residents, reflects our commitment to quality. From the moment a guest, resident or family member enters the dining room to the last bite of dessert and sip of coffee, our goal is to provide an unmatched experience in every community. Additionally, we recognize that fine dining isn’t just about food; nowhere is the word community expressed better than around a dining table in the company of friends.

While “restaurant style dining” is a current trend, we aim higher. We aim for a deeper relationship with our residents than the hospitality model, a relationship that allows our dining teams to tailor each resident’s experience to their personal preferences. Resident food committees actively collaborate with dining teams to evaluate and enhance the dining experience in each Senior Lifestyle community. In our quest to provide the exceptional fine dining experience our residents deserve, we are committed to recruiting, hiring and retaining talented food service professionals who are interested in furthering their careers.

David Cyplik, Corporate Director of Dining Services for Senior Lifestyle, shares that he sees a lot of growth opportunity in Culinary Management for the senior living industry. He also notes, “Senior Lifestyle is always looking to promote talent from within; when a team member shows a passion for their work and an interest in developing their skills, we want to help provide them with the means to achieve that professional development.” Dining Directors at Senior Lifestyle communities are often given the opportunity to assist with Grand Opening events at other communities as well as share best practices with peers at sister communities, an option that strengthens each community and provides dining services team members with a clear picture of the career paths available to them.

For team members interested in developing their skills, Senior Lifestyle’s goal is to provide consistent training and growth potential. To that end, David says, “We’re developing a comprehensive training program that maps the route to supervisory roles, from Dining Room Manager to Executive Chef to Dining Services Director. This aligns with our strong preference for developing and recruiting talent from within and gives team members a logical progression within their career path.” Sounds like a recipe for success.

Have an interest in pursuing a career in fine dining? Visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com for a taste of the career opportunities at a Senior Lifestyle community near you.

Taking Care: Caregivers Appreciation Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

November is designated as National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to honor the people who give freely of their time and resources in the service of others. At any given time in the United States, it is estimated that around 50 million people are providing care for an aging family member or friend, or a loved one with a chronic disease or disability. Many of these caregivers, especially those providing care for a spouse or significant other, are singlehandedly managing the spectrum of caregiving, from transportation to medication management, with no medical background or training. At Senior Lifestyle we recognize that caregiving, while fulfilling, is also highly physically, emotionally and mentally stressful and can be profoundly frustrating, even for those with medical training.

Caregiver burnout is a very real risk for those who provide care for others. Ironically, caregivers are often unable to see the signs of caregiver stress in themselves; the indicators of emotional fatigue on the caregiver may be noticed first by a medical provider, another family member or a friend. The following signs may be subtle, but should be heeded:

  • Feelings of depression and isolation.
  • A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue.
  • Decreasing interest in work.
  • Withdrawal from social contacts.
  • Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol.
  • Change in eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Feelings of helplessness.

While recognizing signs of caregiver burnout is important, taking steps to combat burnout is equally vital to maintaining health and the ability to continue caring for a loved one. Tips to combat caregiver stress:

  • Consult with professionals to explore burnout issues.
  • Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies.
  • Vary the focus of caregiving responsibilities if possible (rotate responsibilities with family members.)
  • Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Accept help when it is offered. While many people are unable to perform as a primary caregiver, they can take on other vital duties such as grocery shopping or errands.
  • Stay involved in hobbies.

The role caregivers play in their loved ones’ health and comfort is a significant one, a responsibility that can take a toll on the caregiver’s health. With support and self-care, caregiving is more manageable and enjoyable for everyone involved. At the same time, it is imperative to know one’s limit when providing care. Consulting with a trusted medical professional is always recommended to gauge this properly, and when care can no longer be managed at home on a full-time basis, caregivers need to be aware of resources in their area such as respite care, adult day centers and senior living communities. Senior Lifestyle communities provide respite care as well as assisted living and memory care and our trained community specialists are available to help families navigate the transition to senior living when the need arises. To learn more about senior care options in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Giving Up the Keys

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

For many young adults, obtaining a driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and an outward sign of independence. Unsurprisingly, many older adults feel the same way about retaining their driver’s license. For seniors who live in areas with little or no access to public transportation, the ability to drive provides more than just a symbol of independence; it often serves as a lifeline. This circumstance can make it difficult for families to discuss giving up driving with a senior loved one, as it often necessitates outside help or even a move for the senior. Senior Lifestyle communities offer transportation options for residents who choose not to drive or are unable to do so safely. Many of our resident who still drive themselves also choose to take advantage of the transportation option and let someone else do the driving for them on occasion.

A recent Consumer Reports study notes that 40 million Americans aged 65 and older carry a valid driver’s license; 3.5 million of that group are still behind the wheel at age 85 and older. While many drivers are able to manage to the physical requirements of driving well into their senior years, there are some warning signs from Helpguide.org that a senior driver may need to consider giving up the keys:

  • Frequent close calls or increased citations
    • A noticeable increase in dents and scrapes on the vehicle
    • Traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement
  • Eyesight or hearing problems
    • A need to drive closer to signs or traffic signals to see them clearly
    • Inability to hear horns honking or emergency sirens
  • Trouble managing the mechanics of driving and limited range of motion, slower reflexes
    • Sudden lane changes and erratic braking and accelerating
    • Inability to react quickly when necessary to traffic changes
    • Lack of range of motion that prevents turning head to look back

If giving up the keys becomes necessary, it’s important to understand the frustration and even humiliation that your senior driver may experience; treating them with respect and dignity while having this difficult conversation is imperative. If a loved one is reluctant to admit that driving is becoming a problem for them, you may need to enlist the help of an impartial person such as their physician. It’s also important to provide alternatives such as public transportation or rides from friends and family members. For some seniors, the loss of this symbol of independence can cause depression; preventing isolation is an important part of the transition as well. At Senior Lifestyle, residents are often surprised and delighted to learn that social opportunities don’t require time behind the wheel; events and activities are always available in the community.

If you notice signs of impaired driving in your loved one, it is vital to have a conversation with them about your concerns; they may be feeling concerned as well, but worried about the logistics of giving up driving, and your efforts to broach the subject may in fact be a relief to the senior driver. For information about transportation options at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, or more information about tackling difficult conversations with your loved one, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.