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.

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.

The Sterling Aventura: Serving Those Who Have Served

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Service is commonly defined as “Work that is done for others as an occupation” as well as “An act of assistance or benefit.”  Honor is defined as “high respect; esteem” or “to regard with great respect.” At The Sterling Aventura, we understand that service to one’s country reaches well beyond those definitions, and we are proud to honor the service and sacrifice of our residents and other local veterans.

There are many intangible benefits to service; however, a little-known benefit called the Aid and Attendance pension is a very important tangible benefit for those veterans who require assistance with activities of daily living. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website states, “Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension.” This benefit can provide up to $1,794 per month for a single veteran who qualifies; additionally, provisions for veterans with a spouse as well as surviving spouse benefits are included in the Aid and Attendance Benefit.

We are privileged to serve our veteran residents here at The Sterling Aventura. Their stories deserve to be told, their sacrifices recognized, their service honored. Our community is proud to have many veterans in residence and would like to extend an invitation to veterans in the surrounding area to attend an event to learn more about the service-related benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

The Sterling Aventura will host a Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit seminar on October 25th from 5-6:30 pm at the community. Eric Weitkamp from Freedom Partners will outline the Aid and Attendance benefit, provide information on how to apply, and answer questions about eligibility for veterans and spouses. Veterans, families and friends are invited to attend to learn more about the benefits available to them. To learn more or reserve a seat for this event, please call 305-918-0000. Thank you for your service. It will be our honor to serve you!

Your Happiness Matters

Posted by in Programs.

There’s a common saying that notes, “If people are happy with your service, they’ll tell you; if they aren’t happy, they’ll tell everyone else,” and with the prevalence of online review sites today, that idea can seem uncomfortably accurate for some businesses. However, online reviews give customers the opportunity to point out not only what’s wrong, but what’s right as well. They also give the reviewee an opportunity to make things right by reaching out to the customer when a negative experience is reported. At Senior Lifestyle we look at reviews as a vital tool in our ‘Your Happiness Matters’ feedback culture for continuous improvement and encourage everyone we interact with to share their experience.

Are we doing well? What can we do better? Every business asks these questions, but without feedback from customers, it’s often hard to judge the answers. Any business with a long-range plan wants to hear the bad reviews as well as the stellar ones; continuous improvement depends on knowing what needs to be improved upon. Reviews provide us with valuable information that may not be evident at the point of sale. Consumers can leave online reviews for nearly any business, product or service, from a hospital stay to a pet grooming experience. Review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor even provide a forum for job-seekers to learn more about companies for whom they hope to work.

Why do people leave online reviews? Everyone likes to be heard; we share our opinions every day in conversations with friends, family and co-workers, so it makes sense to share those opinions with the companies from which we purchase products and services. Oftentimes, online reviewers can remain anonymous, an aspect which may pave the way for more honest evaluations. At Senior Lifestyle, we’re striving to create a feedback culture (because your happiness matters to us!), and we’ve implemented review tracking services to help us read and respond to our online reviews. We also regularly survey our residents and families using Gallup survey programs so we can learn what we can do better to create great places to live and work.

Senior Lifestyle believes that informed consumers and potential team members make better choices, and we truly want feedback from our senior community residents, families and team members. We gain valuable insight from visitors in our communities as well, whether they volunteer, provide a service for our residents or come to the community for a tour. But even more than that, online reviews provide valuable insight to future visitors who are looking to learn more about senior housing and what it’s like to live at one of our communities. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for everyone we interact with, so don’t hesitate to let us know how we’re doing! For more information on how Senior Lifestyle works to provide an exceptional experience or to learn more about any of our communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

A Labor of Love

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

A project started by Lake Barrington Woods residents in 2016 is growing! Last year, residents at Lake Barrington Woods began creating woven sleeping mats made from plastic grocery bags, a community activity aimed at helping the homeless. With the aid of local organization Kids.Kare, they distributed sleeping mats and food to areas of downtown Chicago. The response was overwhelming, and with the donation of grocery bags from friends, employees, local businesses and families of Lake Barrington Woods residents across the country, residents at Lake Barrington Woods decided to continue the project as part of their Active Aging Week celebration. This year, the mats will be donated locally and will again be accompanied by lunch bags packed with nutritious food. Lake Barrington Woods residents plan to make the donations in person at local shelters.

Mirka Biegunska, Director of Residents Programs at Lake Barrington Woods, notes that she was brainstorming with residents about activities for this year’s Active Aging Week theme, “Ignite Your Passion” when the idea to continue the project took hold. “We were thinking of different ideas for this, like learning different painting techniques, learning how to make pizza, learning a new language or even learning about new technology. In the end, we all agreed, “A Labor of Love” is our passion passion and we would share this with you.” Active Aging Week promotes quality of life for seniors with purposeful, meaningful activities and events that showcase the positive elements of aging, a celebration Lake Barrington Woods observes yearly with a week of new experiences.

Mirka calls this project a Labor of Love with good reason: each mat takes about 50 hours and nearly 1000 shopping bags to complete, with residents sorting and cutting bags while others crochet the bags into clean, lightweight, portable sleeping mats. Different colored bags are highly sought after, says Mirka, as the weavers have started creating patterned mats. So far they’ve created 25 new mats for distribution and she says, “Residents say that once they’ve started, they just don’t want to stop! They love this project and the fact that it represents help for those in surrounding communities.” The community is working with shelters in the local area to arrange donations of mats and food, while some of the mats have already been distributed locally by residents. To see the Youtube video highlighting the production of the mats, as well as the first day of distribution, please click here: https://youtu.be/VXgrIe6Th2U.

Lake Barrington Woods residents are proud to be able to meet a very real need in their surrounding communities and hope to continue their Labor of Love project through winter, but that goal will require supplies. If you have clean plastic grocery bags that you’d like to donate to the cause, Lake Barrington Woods is happy to put them to good use. Donations to aid the #LBWLaborOfLove project may be dropped off at the front desk at the community. If you have questions about this project, or would like to visit Lake Barrington Woods, please call 847-842-8900 or visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Dog Days at Mangrove Bay

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Providing Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care, Senior Lifestyle’s Mangrove Bay community in Jupiter, Florida is known for beautiful views of the Intracoastal Waterway and proximity to gorgeous beaches. Residents enjoy beautiful weather, exceptional services, and locally sourced ingredients for gourmet meals, and while none of those things are changing, Director of Sales and Marketing Lonnie Hoffman claims that one day very soon, Mangrove Bay will, in fact, be “going to the dogs.” Surprisingly, Executive Director Kathy Wise reports that residents, families and team members are looking forward to this “dog day”, and will even invite the public to witness the event!

What is happening at Mangrove Bay? The social event of the season, of course! The community will host a “Pup-tastic Fashion Show” in conjunction with the ribbon cutting for their new dog park on Thursday, October 19th from 2-4 pm and the local community is invited to attend. The new pet play area will be officially opened, light refreshments will be served, and the “pupperazzi” will be out in force, taking pictures of pets and their people. The community will host a “Yappy Hour” from 4:30-5:30 pm following the fashion show that is sure to be a howling success as well! Furry Friends Adoption and Clinic, a local no-kill shelter, will be on hand to help judge the fashion show along with adoptable pets from the shelter. In addition, officer Chad Norman, a bloodhound handler with Jupiter Police Department’s K9 unit will perform a skill demonstration. To RSVP to the grand opening of Mangrove Bay’s dog park or to enter a pet in the fashion show, please call 561-575-3123.

Mangrove Bay is home to more than ten dogs, beloved companions of residents of Mangrove Bay who add to the quality of life experienced in the community. The pets and their people at –Mangrove Bay have a heart for helping others and will be collecting items from Furry Friends’ wish list to help animals at the shelter live happier lives. Programs Director Karen Counts shares that Furry Friends is always in need of the following items:

  • Blankets, towels, comforters, sheets
  • Durable, clean dog & cat toys
  • Pedigree adult, puppy, small bites dry food
  • Pedigree adult and puppy wet food
  • Bleach and non-scented laundry detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer (pump bottles)

Please consider bringing a donation to the fashion show, or even adopting a pet!

Let’s Get Social!

Posted by in Technology.

While nothing replaces the comforting aspect of face-to-face conversation, social media, when used correctly, is a valuable tool that enhances the quality of life and aids communication. At Senior Lifestyle, we use various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share information with our residents, families, team members and the communities we serve. One of the most delightful advantages of sharing the pictures of an event in a senior community in Pittsburgh or Peoria on social media is that a family member in Potosi or Petaluma can enjoy those pictures as well! Families may be separated by geography, but social media can help to erase some of the distance, a worthwhile benefit for our residents and families.

While seniors have traditionally not been large consumers of social media, that seems to be changing. In an article written for Huffington Post, Anita Kamiel, R.N, M.P.S., founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, shares that in a two-year span, Internet use among those 65 and older grew 150 percent, the largest growth in a demographic group. 34 percent of those seniors are users of social media such as Facebook. Seniors are using these tools to connect with family across the miles, to research issues that impact them, and in many cases, to re-visit destinations they’ve traveled to in the past through pictures and online “travelogues.”

While many seniors are joining the online world, some continue to say that they just don’t see the benefit of social media and having an online presence. Some feel intimidated by technology, but with the advent of computer systems designed specifically for seniors, this no longer has to be a hindrance for those interested in learning more about social media.

Some benefits of using social media for seniors include:

  • FAMILY CONNECTIONS

For seniors thinking “I wish I heard from my family more often,” social media is a great tool. Feelings of isolation have often been a leading cause of depression for seniors, and in a world where seemingly everyone has a phone on their person, this can be remedied. Skype calls, shared photos on Facebook and video “home movies” on Facebook can bring families closer across the miles.

  • ONLINE COUPONS & DISCOUNTS

With the prevalence of online savings through sites like Groupon, discounts offered by businesses on their Facebook pages, and other online opportunities to save, the days of clipping coupons may be past. For seniors on a fixed income, these discounts can add up.

  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Whether a loved one lives at home or in a senior community, a sense of belonging is vital to well-being. Socializing with like-minded friends, online or in person, brings a feeling of involvement for seniors, especially if the senior is unable to leave home or their community on a regular basis.

At Senior Lifestyle, while we remain advocates of in-person social interaction with our families and friends with daily activities in our communities, we also see the benefits of social media, especially when a resident is able to connect with family across the miles or friends are re-connected online. We encourage you to connect with us online as well. To learn more about our online presence, visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter; we’d love to connect with you!

embrace Autumn

Posted by in Expert Advice, Awards, Programs.

Autumn is in the air and on the calendar, which means leaves are falling, the days are getting a bit shorter, and school is back in session. For many, this means a return to the regular routine after a long, lazy summer where schedules were flexible and plans changeable. Returning to a set schedule is comforting for some and a hassle for others, but for seniors with dementia a routine is vital. At Senior Lifestyle, our award-winning memory care philosophy, embrace, is built around comforting daily rhythms and activities that foster a sense of purpose for the individual with dementia.

For families caring for a senior loved one with dementia at home, a routine is vital as well. It is critical that all family members know what plans are in place in order to maintain the level of care needed and to lessen the stress not only on the caregivers but the senior with memory loss as well. Knowing the routine and the schedule of care can bring a sense of security to a senior who is dependent on others for his or her care. Back-up plans are also a necessity; planning for emergencies helps to keep things running smoothly. When the need arises for care beyond what can be provided in a home setting, Senior Lifestyle is here to provide memory care in a homelike atmosphere dedicated to honoring each resident’s individuality and personal story.

When memories fade, it’s the moments that matter most. Memory loss is difficult to navigate, and the aim of embrace is to provide a lifestyle that is in harmony with the interests and abilities of each resident while addressing the unique challenges arising from memory loss and cognitive impairment. To achieve that goal, each new resident meets with a team member to share their personal history, an embrace narrative that details specific life experiences, allowing caregivers the opportunity to truly connect with residents. This narrative and our innovative, award-winning small group programs provide a comprehensive approach to memory care that is unique to Senior Lifestyle.

While the needs of our residents change, our dedication to providing exceptional care for our residents in any season of life is perennial and constant. Senior Lifestyle’s commitment to providing innovative approaches to memory care is the foundation of the embrace philosophy, and it’s a commitment we’d love to share with those looking for exceptional care for a loved one. To learn more about embrace or any of our Senior Lifestyle communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Good Neighbors

Posted by in Holidays.

What makes a good neighbor? Is it a never-ending supply of sugar to borrow? The best recipe for chocolate cake? Perhaps open invitations to every cookout? National Good Neighbor Day, observed on September 28th, celebrates the qualities that define good neighbors everywhere. The effort to make Good Neighbor Day a national holiday began in the 1970’s in Lakeside, Montana, and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter announced the creation of this holiday focused on building thriving communities.  While Good Neighbor Day has been celebrated in various ways through the years, the passage of a resolution in 2003 made the holiday official.

At Senior Lifestyle, we believe being a good neighbor is simple; it’s giving back to the community, sharing resources, and most importantly, meeting the needs of those who rely on us for exceptional care. Our Senior Lifestyle neighborhoods, whether Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing or Memory Care, foster a sense of community between team members, residents and families, creating relationships that benefit each member of the community.

Like any neighborhood, Senior Lifestyle communities thrive because of the diversity and creativity of our residents. Neighborhoods are stronger when people come together to share their interests and many of our most popular senior activities have been suggested by residents. From gardening to book clubs to appreciation for the arts, Senior Lifestyle residents prove every day that being a good neighbor starts with sharing talents and passions with those closest to us, and our Programming Directors are always available to help implement a new idea, plan an outing or even schedule a Wii bowling tournament!

We’re proud of the thriving neighborhoods created at our Senior Lifestyle communities and we encourage resident suggestions that contribute to the innovative senior activities we offer in each community. To learn more about any of our communities, events or activities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. We’d love to share our vision of being a good neighbor with you, and the door is always open to new neighbors!

The Carlisle ROCKS in Palm Beach

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Palm Beach County really rocks, and so does The Carlisle! Located a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean in the gorgeous community of Lantana, Florida, the Carlisle offers all the amenities of a 5-star resort. With local highlights that range from a beautiful forest preserve to high-end shopping, the area has something for everyone.

Karen Delgado, Director of Resident Programming at the Carlisle, shares that residents are what makes The Carlisle such an innovative senior community. With a taste for activities that go “well beyond Bingo”, residents at The Carlisle seek out opportunities to participate in and give back to the community-at-large. Karen states, “Our residents enjoy the creative process, and love to express themselves and their pride in the community with projects that benefit our local area.” Palm Beach County Rocks is just such a project.

According to the Facebook page of #PBCRocks, the project is “meant to inspire creativity in all ages, energize people to explore the beautiful area we live in, and bring happiness to ALL of Palm Beach County. The plan is simple; paint a rock, inscribe it with #PBCRocks, seal it, then hide it somewhere in Palm Beach County”. The group’s page goes on to explain that “if you find a rock, you can keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find. Who knows, you might find yourself re-discovering parts of our community you haven’t appreciated in a while.” When a rock is discovered, the finder snaps a picture and posts it to the Facebook page to share the discovery.

Residents and staff at The Carlisle have joined the community-wide Palm Beach County Rocks project with a great deal of gusto, from sharing their artistic flair painting rocks as an activity to hiding the rocks while on outings, shopping, or just walking along South Palm Beach. As in other communities across the country, the project has grown larger than the community, connecting people and promoting the area, providing a unique experience not only for visitors, but for locals as well.

If you find yourself in Palm Beach County, be sure to look for colorful rocks while out and about; if you find one, share your discovery at #PBCRocks! For more information on The Carlisle Palm Beach or to schedule a tour of this or any of our Senior Lifestyle communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.