Books and Support Groups for Caregivers of Elderly Parents

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Being the caregiver for your mother, father or both can be a tough task. From rolling around wheelchairs to making sure medications are taken properly, caring for elderly parents can be both physically and mentally draining. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to you to help you through this time in your life. Many other caregivers have experienced the same joys and struggles as you have. Check out our recommended books and support groups for caregivers of elderly parents:

When the Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions by Paula Span
Described by the author as “a support group in print,” this book contains stories, interviews and other relevant information for caregivers of elderly parents.

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves by Jane Gross
In this book, Gross describes moving her mother into an assisted living facility and the valuable lessons she learned in the process.

Caring for Your Parents: The Complete Family Guide — Practical Advice You Can Trust from the Experts at AARP by Hugh Delehanty and Elinor Ginzler
From locating quality health care to making your parents’ house elder-friendly, this book contains in-depth advice from experts at the AARP for caregivers of elderly parents.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chas
This quirky, cartoon-style memoir humorously recounts the author’s experience of dealing with elderly parents, along with all of the laughs and tears that come along with it.

The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t by Viki Kind
It’s hard making decisions for another person, especially if that person is your parent. This book contains tools and techniques to help you make decisions as a caregiver.

Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children by Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane
Being the caregiver isn’t always easy. This book contains advice on how to de-stress when your elderly parents are driving you crazy.

For information on support groups:

The National Family Caregiver Support Program
Family Caregiver Alliance
Alzheimer’s Support Association
Caregiver Action Network
National Alliance for Caregiving

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.

Frankie Eklund | 100 Days of Heart of Caring

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Frances Eklund
Woodmark at Sun City

Choosing winners for our Heart of Caring award is not only wonderfully challenging, but also fun as our selection committee reads the creative ways our team members live out their hearts of caring. Today’s nominee is no exception, putting her heart of caring to work through the activities she plans.

“Frankie is totally committed to making the lives of our residents as fulfilling and uplifting as possible. She is extremely creative and talented in developing new and challenging activities for our residents.”

While Frankie’s creativity spans many activities, she’s most known for using her own love of her two miniature horses to brighten the residents’ day with an in-person visit.

“Frankie has trained two miniature horses to do “tricks” for the residents. She knows how much they mean to many of our residents. She has been able to use them to get some of our less responsive residents to “open up”. Some that had not spoken or laughed in months, started talking, smiling and laughing when she introduced them to the horses. She continues to use them as a tool to enrich the lives of our residents.”

“Frankie serves as a role model for the entire staff at the Woodmark. Her enthusiasm is contagious helps the staff get excited about the various activities we are involved in. She includes many of the staff in her activities and helps us understand the needs and wants of the residents we serve.”

No horsing around here! Thank you, Frankie, for all you (and your horses) do to provide best-in-class care and activities for our residents. Congratulations on the nomination! Click here to see Frankie and her horses in action.

This spotlight is part of Senior Lifestyle’s 100 Days of Heart of Caring series featuring nominees from our 170+ communities across the country. All nominations are anonymous. Our nominees represent the backbone of our commitment to our core values: Caring, Honesty, Appreciation, Respect and Teamwork; without them, we could never fulfill our goal of providing best-in-class care to every one of our residents. Join us as we celebrate these caring, passionate individuals and their commitment to our residents.

Fall Risk Assessment: Elderly Falls & How to Prevent Them

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Preventing elderly falls is an essential part of home care for assisted living communities and caregivers to the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year and over 2 million people are treated annually in emergency departments for fall-related injuries.

With the right plan, many elderly falls can be prevented at home. Using two-sided carpet tape to secure rugs to the floor, installing bright light bulbs, placing non-slip mats in and around the shower, and keeping clutter in check are all easy ways to prevent elderly falls.

Taking a fall risk assessment can help determine whether a home or assisted living environment mitigates elderly falls. Use this checklist as a guideline:

• Make kitchen items accessible. Organize your kitchen so that frequently used items are easy-to-reach and obtainable. Avoid using a stool with more than two steps to mitigate the risk of elderly falls.

• Clean up the clutter. Make sure there’s a wide, clear path through each room so that people with wheelchairs and walkers can navigate without issues. Pick up objects on the floor and re-route electrical cords to minimize elderly falls and trips.

• Fall-proof the bathroom. Using a rubber mat and shower chairs can help reduce slips and falls in the shower. Adding grab bars or handles can also assist in preventing falls.

• Keep the stairs well-lit. Senior citizens require adequate light in the home to be able to see properly. Install brighter light bulbs where necessary and add extra light switches to both the top and bottom of the stairs.

Completing a fall risk assessment can help lower the risk of elderly falls and make the home a much safer place to be. Elderly fall risk does not have to be a burden for older adults. With careful and diligent preparation, these simple steps can be taken to reduce risks and help keep seniors safe from the danger of falling.

Learn more about Senior Lifestyle communities today to see how we’re making sure that residents are able to live life to the fullest every day.

3 Warm and Fuzzy Ways Love and Health are Connected

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Love comes in many forms: the love of a lifelong partner, the love of friends, the love of family – and the love of your fellow humans in general. Love is all about connections, and the ways in which love and health connect might just surprise you.

Love reduces stress.
Many people will say that a relaxing feeling comes over them when they are with the people they love. It turns out that’s more than just a feeling – our vital signs reflect the stress-relieving effect of love. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services showed that, on average, happily married people had lower blood pressure than both unmarried people and unhappily married people. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should rush into marriage – unhappily married people had the highest blood pressure of all.

Love and longevity go hand in hand.
People in long marriages don’t only enjoy an enduring love – they also enjoy longer lives. Through the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, the U.S. Census has been tracking lifespan trends of Americans since 1979. They’ve found that married Americans, on average, live longer than those who are unmarried. When marriages last lifetimes, we can only assume that love was the reason for it.

Love is good for your heart.
Whether it’s with a friend, relative or significant other, hugs are amazing for the heart. When we share an embrace with a loved one, our bodies produce a natural dose of oxytocin, a smile-inducing hormone that is excellent for the heart. It’s a heart-healthy hormone, because it lowers blood pressure, which reduces stress. And study after study has shown that low blood pressure is connected to living a long and healthy life.

So, have you hugged a loved one today?

The Prevalence and Risk of Diabetes in the Elderly

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

There’s no sugar-coating these facts. According to the latest statistics released by the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects over 29 million Americans – that’s just over 9 percent of our population. However, diabetes in the elderly is even more prevalent; Americans aged 65 and over account for about 11.8 million of those with diabetes, meaning that about 1 in 4 seniors suffers from the disease. What may be even more sobering is the fact that, by-and-large, individuals with elderly diabetes could have taken action to prevent or delay the condition, which is caused in part by lifestyle choices.

There are two types of diabetes that typically affect different portions of the population: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 was previously known as juvenile diabetes, as it is typically diagnosed in children and younger adults, and is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin, a hormone that allows the body to use sugar as energy. Type 1 diabetes accounts for only about 5 percent of diabetes cases. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, accounts for the overwhelming majority of diabetes in the elderly and other age groups. This form of diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which is when the body does not properly use the insulin that it creates. Many doctors believe insulin resistance has a possible link to risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure.

Those who are risk for developing type 2 diabetes often have “pre-diabetes,” or higher than normal blood sugar levels that are not quite high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. For older adults whose lifestyles may leave them at risk for diabetes, it is imperative to schedule regular blood sugar level checks with their doctor. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control also recommends losing 5 to 7 percent of one’s body weight and getting at least two and a half hours of weekly exercise, steps that previous successful studies have shown can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes in the elderly, those at risk truly play the most important role. If this includes you, talk to your doctor today about how you can begin to combat the risk of diabetes.

The Heart of the Matter: Heart Disease Preventions & Risk Factors

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Valentine’s Day hearts serve as a reminder of love to many; for others, they’re a reminder of an organ in need of more than a box of chocolates. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, and often the number one topic of conversation in regards to the health of older adults. When it comes to combating heart disease, being aware of heart disease risk factors and the potential strategies for effective heart disease prevention is the first step toward a happier, healthier heart.

Heart Disease Risk Factors
The underlying cause of most heart diseases is a dangerous process involving a build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries. Known as atherosclerosis, this build-up can lead to a number of problems as the plaque blocks blood flow to important parts of the body. Among many complications caused by atherosclerosis lies the most common type of heart disease, known as either coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD). Significant risk factors for developing this disease and other forms of heart disease include diabetes, being overweight or obese, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a poor diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Heart Disease Prevention
Heart disease prevention largely boils down to making lifestyle choices that limit or avoid these heart disease risk factors. This, of course, begins with being aware whether you’re already at risk for heart disease. Have a conversation with your doctor about how you can personally approach heart disease prevention, which may include seeing if you should be tested for diabetes, or finding out if your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are within a healthy range. If these levels are not in a good place, your doctor can help put together a plan to change that. Such a plan should include quitting smoking if you do, maintaining a balanced diet, exercising frequently, and working towards a healthy weight, if necessary.

Over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, and taking simple steps now is the best means of preventing future loss. Above all, heart disease prevention starts with acknowledgement of its danger, and continues with a conversation between you and your doctor. Get to the “heart of the matter” today with these first steps toward reducing your risk of heart disease.

What is the Best Cooking Oil for You?

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Nature’s oils are extracted from a variety of sources. Different types of cooking oil have unique flavors, smoke points and nutritional value. So what is the best cooking oil for you?

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
It’s the Italian kitchen mainstay, and it should always be within arm’s reach in your kitchen, too. Extra-virgin olive oil is high in healthy fats and antioxidants, and its savory flavor pairs wonderfully with pastas, vegetables, poultry and fish. When you have olive oil, there’s no need to mess with fancy (and expensive) sauces or rubs for your steaks, either. Pat some extra-virgin olive oil onto your steak with some salt and pepper before grilling, and you’ll be set.

Vegetable Oil

It’s not always obvious what the source of your vegetable oil is, until you check the label on the bottle. Most vegetable oils are derived from soy beans, but they could also be sourced from nuts, seeds and corn. Canola oil is itself a type of vegetable oil that is made from rapeseeds, and either canola or vegetable oil will always serve as a dependable and inexpensive standby in your pantry, should you run out of other more healthy oils. These oils have a very long shelf life, a high smoke point, and they can be used to cook just about anything. However, these types of cooking oils lack the antioxidants that are found in extra-virgin olive oil.

Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is the best cooking oil for roasting and pan-frying dishes at a high heat. Its high smoke point can handle the blazing temps, and peanut oil also packs a unique, healthful punch. The nutty oil contains phytosterols, which reduce your risk of heart disease.

Grapeseed Oil
Very high in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s, grapeseed oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point. It can be an excellent choice when firing up the wok for a stir-fry, but in-demand grapeseed oil can also put quite the dent in your wallet — so save this oil for special occasions.

Coconut Oil
Containing a high level of saturated fat, the oil of the coconut remains solid at room temperature, and it makes a healthy substitute for butter in your favorite recipes. Not only that, but coconut oil can be applied to the skin as a moisturizer, makeup remover, and an anti-inflammatory. For all its uses, a jar of coconut oil is a great addition to not only the kitchen, but your home.

Understanding Sundowner’s Syndrome in People with Dementia

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Get information on the mysterious effects of sundowner’s syndrome. Learn about symptoms and sundowner’s syndrome treatment possibilities with Senior Lifestyle.

Sundowner’s syndrome can be quite a shocking phenomenon for both those who suffer from it and those who care for a victim of it alike. The condition, though its existence is still widely acknowledged, still remains somewhat of a mystery to the medical community, with its exact causes remaining unknown. Therefore, as with dementia and other conditions associated with it, sundowner’s syndrome treatment continues to be elusive. However, with a little bit of patience, understanding, and guidance, sundowner’s syndrome effects can potentially be lessened to the benefit of everyone involved.

For those who may be unfamiliar, sundowner’s syndrome—also known as sundown syndrome or simply sundowning—is not a disease in its own right, but rather a distinct phenomenon or pattern of symptoms that can occur in people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Those who suffer from sundowner’s syndrome typically experience symptoms around sunset or at night, thus giving the syndrome its name. Symptoms of sundowner’s syndrome include agitation, restlessness, irritability, confusion, anger. Hallucinations are sometimes reported as well, along with sharp mood swings and pacing.

What causes these symptoms? While, as previously stated, the exact causes of sundowner’s syndrome still remain a bit of a mystery for the medical field, scientists have associated it with a disruption of the circadian rhythm (your biological clock) along with various environmental and social factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, things that may exacerbate the effects of sundowner’s syndrome include fatigue, low lighting, and increased shadows, among other factors.

Because the causes of sundowner’s syndrome are still unknown, a consistent sundowner’s syndrome treatment has yet to be established. However, tips typically offered by doctors to mediate the effects of sundowning include:
• The maintenance of a routine and schedule, especially for sleep
• Keeping your home well-lit in the evening
• Avoiding caffeine and sugar consumption in the afternoon and evening
• Encouraging daytime activity and avoid afternoon napping to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Just as with the types of dementia that cause sundowner’s syndrome, more effective treatment methods will become available as more is learned about this disease. Until then, caregivers are encouraged to main an open dialogue with all caregivers that are involved, whether that is a sundowner’s doctor, nurse, or memory care provider. By paying attention to the specific sundowning triggers and establishing a strong system of support and communication, some of the frustrations and hardships of dealing with the peculiarities of sundowner’s syndrome can be minimized for the better of all involved.

How to Speak to Your Parents about Community Living

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

Your parents’ decision to make the move into community living won’t happen overnight. But you can start the conversation now, to ensure their happiness and safety in the future.

Often, the children of aging parents are the first to notice signs that their parents could benefit from community living – maybe not immediately, but in the near future.

Knowing how to begin the conversation can be much more difficult than knowing that you should have it. Every family is different, but these are some tips that every adult child should keep in mind as they help their parents discover the benefits of community living.

Ask your parents what their biggest struggles are.

Are they tired of cooking? Do they wish they had a little extra help with the chores? Would they like more of a social life? Community living alleviates these struggles and much more. When you give your parents permission to gripe a little bit, their responses can serve as excellent springboards for a conversation about what could help.

Be your parents’ advocate and advisor.

If your parents are interested in the benefits of community living, they’re going to have questions for you. Be ready for them. There a plenty of helpful online resources that can tell you which communities are in your area, reviews, the amenities they offer, pricing, floorplans, activities, dining options and more. These resources include, and

But don’t stop there, because your parents might not put as much credence on online reviews as you do. Ask your friends and neighbors if they have any relatives enjoying community living in your area. Visit communities by yourself or with your spouse, and know what to ask and look for when touring a senior living community. When you’ve done this, you’ll have the answers for your parents’ questions, and they’ll appreciate your commitment to ensuring that they get the most out of their golden years.

The conversation is a marathon, not a sprint.

Talking to your parents about community living is not a one-and-done proposition. There will be many discussions surrounding the diverse considerations that must be addressed, so don’t make the mistake of trying to get everything ironed out right off the bat. The first conversation about community living should simply introduce the idea to your parents. Surely it’s crossed their minds, but getting it out in the open is an important first step. Then, allow their wants and desires to guide the conversation, as mentioned above. After that, their curiosity and your knowledge (remember: do your homework) should establish trust and a common goal between you and your parents.

As the process unfolds, don’t let your parents feel rushed. This is a decision that is good for them, so allow them to make it at their own pace. If, however, you sense that momentum is flagging or your parents are bringing up unrealistic objections to community living, gently appeal to their wants and needs and ensure that your siblings and relatives are supporting a constructive discussion as well.

Speaking with and helping your parents find the right community for them is a sometimes fun, but often challenging process. It requires teamwork, diligence and a sense of humor. But once your parents have moved into the community that allows them to live freer, more secure, more inspired lives, you’ll be glad you started the conversation when you did.