Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Posted by in Special Events.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a time to go purple to show support for the millions of people worldwide struggling with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It’s also a time to recognize caregivers for the unwavering support they provide to those suffering with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. At Senior Lifestyle, we support The Alzheimer’s Association’s commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by participating in The Longest Day, a fundraiser that focuses on participants doing what they love to raise money for research.

The Longest Day may seem like every day in the life of a caregiver; providing aid for activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and eating can become sources of frustration for the person providing the aid as well as the loved one with dementia. Quite often the only thing in the caregiver’s control is their response to the frustrating circumstance.

Effective communication techniques can help limit some of the frustration felt by the caregiver and the person with dementia. It is incredibly important to remember that your loved one is not in control of their behaviors; the disease dictates the behavior. In addition, every behavior is an attempt to communicate; once you decipher the need behind the behavior, you will be in a better position to meet that need.

Wondering about The Longest Day? There’s still time to participate! Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or visit our website to find the Senior Lifestyle community closest to you. Learn about The Longest Day events in your area, and then vow to make every minute of The Longest Day count!

Being a Long-Distance Caregiver

Posted by in Expert Advice.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that providing care for a loved one can be a daunting task, as well as an infinitely rewarding one. We understand that caregivers face an ever-changing array of challenges daily; frustration often walks hand in hand with fulfillment as the caregiver provides for both the physical and emotional needs of their loved one. Being a “long-distance caregiver” can add difficulty to an already difficult process, and with the growing trend of adult children living hours away from aging parents it is vital to have clear communication and local support. For families without this support, a visit can become quite stressful for both the caregiver and the senior, with quality time often taking a backseat to more urgent matters such as bill-payment and yard maintenance.

Many caregivers describe the pull between practical matters and quality time as a balancing act. For a long-distance caregiver, especially an adult child, this balancing act can become more difficult with each visit as more help with activities of daily living becomes necessary for the senior. Relationships between child and parent can become strained as their roles change. Adult children often feel guilty when unable to visit parents as often as they’d like, and even guiltier when they must delegate everyday tasks to their loved one’s friends or neighbors. Ironically, subtle changes in a loved one’s physical appearance, behavior, and ability to manage their surroundings are often more apparent to a long-distance caregiver than to a friend or neighbor who sees the senior regularly.

• Is the refrigerator adequately stocked? Is the food spoiled? Preparing meals can become a difficult task for the senior; it may be time to look into meal delivery or help with meal prep.

• Are there noticeable changes in the condition of the home? If your loved one has always been neat and tidy and you find that cleaning is going undone, this may be a sign that help is needed with housekeeping duties. The same holds true for personal appearance; dressing and grooming can become burdensome and exhausting for some seniors with decreased mobility.

• Are the bills paid? Do you notice unopened piles of mail? Paying bills and balancing a checkbook can become stressful for your loved one. A trusted friend or family member may need to step in to keep up with money matters.

Finding local resources is a key factor in successful long-distance caregiving. Homecare agencies have been a boon to the aging-in-place trend and can often help keep a senior living safely at home longer by providing assistance with activities of daily living such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Local senior centers can often provide referrals for services as well. The National Institute on Aging has made several valuable resources available for long-distance caregivers who’d like to learn more about how to make the most out of the time they are able to spend with loved ones.

Discovering that your loved one needs more care than can be managed at home? Visit our website to learn more about independent and assisted living options in your area. Senior Lifestyle believes that preparing for and researching next steps such as respite care and assisted living can help long-distance caregivers focus more on quality time with loved ones and less on practical matters relating to safety and care. Shifting this focus helps caregivers make the most of each visit, and that’s what counts.

Memory Care and EMBRACE at the Amethyst

Posted by in Special Events.

What happens when compassion meets commitment? embrace.

A memory care philosophy combining the most recent research in the field of memory care with real world best practices, the embrace memory care program recently garnered an Argentum Best of the Best award for its Essence sensory stimulation program, a vital component of embrace programming. For residents, families and team members at The Amethyst, embrace is now the guiding philosophy for the daily events in memory care, providing a framework for building connections with residents in varying stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. A Grand Opening event was held on June 1st to celebrate embrace at The Amethyst and to share the philosophy with the local community.

For residents of the memory care unit and their families, the embrace Grand Opening celebration was a much-anticipated event. Many even said that it “gave them goosebumps!” to share the activities that give purpose and pleasure to memory care residents. Sharing The Amethyst’s vision of award-winning care was exciting for Associate Executive Director Shari Lefevre and her team. It was a culmination of their hard work and dedication to their residents and families.

Over 50 guests visited The Amethyst to learn about embrace and participate in activities designed to show how the philosophy guides daily interactions. Essence, an award-winning component of embrace, was a big hit with guests, who had the opportunity to receive hand massages and experience the positive effects of aromatherapy for themselves. Another highlight was Andrew Eaker’s Drum Circles for Seniors program, an energetic and wildly popular activity that brings people together through the magic of music.

Of the many activities offered at The Amethyst’s celebration, perhaps the most popular was a simple craft activity that involved making birthday cards. Guests joined residents and The Amethyst team to create birthday cards with a unique purpose: to bring a smile to the face of a very special young man in Arizona. Jacob Priestley is battling mitochondrial disease, a debilitating illness, and he says that the cards brighten his days and give him hope. “They make me feel better and they just make me happy.” Jacob started receiving birthday cards after his mother Britney posted a request on Facebook and the request went viral. His birthday is in August and he hopes to receive even more cards this year! Guests added twenty cards to those previously made by residents and team members, and The Amethyst hopes to increase that number over the summer before sending the handmade cards to Jacob for his August birthday.

Interested in learning more about embrace at The Amethyst? Call to request a visit, or better yet, join The Amethyst for The Longest Day, a celebration to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The event will feature a vendor fair, a bounce house, dunk tank, and the local police department, as well as a chance to create a special birthday card for Jacob Priestley! The event will be held from 8am until 1pm on June 21st, with food, fun and family friendly activities!

Raise Awareness for Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day

Posted by in Special Events.

Have you heard? The Longest Day is approaching and we’re absolutely PURPLE with excitement! June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to GO PURPLE to end Alzheimer’s, raise awareness, and share the love on June 21st by participating in The Longest Day. Worldwide, 47 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Senior Lifestyle is spreading the word in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Our goal is to share the important mission of the Alzheimer’s Association, and we hope to raise awareness with each person we reach.

Our commitment to supporting those who live, support, care for, and walk alongside others on this journey is also a personal one. Like so many others around the country, our employees are personally impacted by this disease; we are sisters, brothers, daughters and sons of people battling Alzheimer’s. One team member summarized this impact perfectly when they said, “Watching my Dad’s face when he was given the diagnosis of Early Stage Alzheimer’s was one of the hardest days of my life. From that day on, my commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association and to improving care and treatment for those living with this disease became more than a profession, it became my personal mission.” Our participation in The Longest Day is for our family, and it is Senior Lifestyle’s way of uniting to support other families around the nation, so that no family is alone in their fight.

At Senior Lifestyle, we are proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise funds for crucial research into Alzheimer’s Disease, research that we hope will one day reveal a cure for this disease. We are honored to support the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission and to be a Global Partner in this year’s The Longest Day event. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to support the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association, to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s, and to provide support to the residents, families, and communities that call Senior Lifestyle home. As of today, we’ve raised over $17,000 toward our $50,000 goal!

Join the fight! To learn more about how our communities are celebrating The Longest Day and how you can get involved, visit the Senior Lifestyle website. Remember, each person who learns more about Alzheimer’s disease inspires action, so GO PURPLE for the Alzheimer’s Association, spread the word, and support Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this June!

Volunteers and Music – Heart and Soul of Lake Barrington Woods

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers, said that his mother once told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” These people may brighten a day with music, serve tea in the afternoon, or plan outings for a group, but regardless of how they help, they are always there. Lake Barrington Woods has been blessed with several such helpers as the heart and soul of the community.

RICHARD—Richard Wagner grew up surrounded by music, so when he and his mother were touring assisted living communities last December, he was pleased to see a piano in the foyer of Lake Barrington Woods. He’s taken lessons since the age of six and as a child he enjoyed listening to his dad play clarinet in the American Legion band. It was, therefore, natural for him to share his heart for music with the senior community when his mother moved to Lake Barrington Woods. He says that there is some tradition involved; in 1974, just out of law school and studying for the bar exam, he often visited his grandmother in a nursing home in Joliet and began playing for the residents there. Richard claims that “Good music is ageless,” and the folks at Lake Barrington Woods agree, gathering around the piano every week as he performs classics like “As Time Goes By” and his favorite opening song, “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”.

PEGGY—Peggy Hawrysko’s mom, Marian, was planning to move to a different senior community, but then Peggy dropped in to Lake Barrington Woods. She was wowed by the sense of “warmth and welcome” she felt during her visit. Her mom soon moved to Lake Barrington Woods and Peggy, who lives close to the community, visits often to help her mother adjust and encourage her to get involved in the daily activities offered. Her frequent visits have grown into volunteering in the community, with Peggy assisting by calling Bingo, going on outings, serving tea, and even watering the flowers on the patio. Peggy says she finds that her time at Lake Barrington Woods helps ease stress, and that the more she volunteers, the better she feels; she can often be found chatting with resident on her way to visit her mother. She says, “I love the staff here!” and with her heart for the elderly, she has become a valued friend to residents and staff alike.

ED—Ed Connelly is a retired music professor who has always been drawn to the piano. He began playing at six years old, on a piano he’d heard his mother play often in their home in Chicago. His love of music continued through high school and college, with not only a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music, but also a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Ed taught music at Arkansas Tech University, leaving his mark with a reputation for musical excellence and a scholarship established in his name upon retirement. When he moved to Lake Barrington Woods last year, he was immediately drawn to the piano, playing classical music and drawing a crowd the first time he sat down at the instrument. Ed’s brother Robert, a retired audiologist and speech language pathologist, says that Ed has a rare talent for classical piano, an innate sense of the composer’s aim and an ear for the truest interpretation of any piece he plays. When asked if he is also musically inclined, Robert laughs and says “I’m just the page turner for Ed!” While Ed enjoys Jerome Kern and show-tunes, and is a long-time accompanist, his first love is classical music. A recent program he presented at Lake Barrington Woods included pieces by Chopin, Bartok and Grieg, music that Ed states “wears well.” If the crowd of over 30 people in attendance was any indication, Ed’s love of music has sparked an appreciation in many at Lake Barrington Woods!

Mirka Biegunska, Director of Resident Programs at Lake Barrington Woods, says that residents and staff in the senior community are very active in the local community, giving back by knitting hats for newborns, providing space for local charities, and hosting events. These volunteers truly have a heart for helping, as well as having music-loving souls!

Honoring Older Americans Month

Posted by in Holidays.

Along with a host of well-known holidays like Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and some other not-so-well-known holidays like National Escargot Day and Lumpy Rug Day (sounds like a great hiding place for the escargot!), May was Older Americans Month. Among other days for recognizing seniors, this month rounded out the holidays with National Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 31. Here at Senior Lifestyle, we love to celebrate our seniors in any way possible, and regardless of what our residents at Senior Lifestyle communities chose to celebrate, they did so in style!

In 2017, Older Americans Month focused on the theme “Age Out Loud.” Seems quite fitting when one considers just how much our seniors have to say! Not so long ago, aging was seen as a passive activity, something that just took its course. Not so today; with seniors staying active far later into life and partnering with health care professionals to take an active role in their care, the face (and voice) of aging is changing. Senior Lifestyle strongly supports the new look of aging with programs designed to keep our residents engaged in whatever form of activity they enjoy.

What exactly does Age Out Loud mean? For many seniors, it means advocating for themselves and others, remaining engaged in their communities, and sharing wisdom won by years in the workforce by mentoring younger people. For others, Age Out Loud is about physical and mental fitness, and a conscious decision to stay active. Aging Out Loud promotes a sense of purpose and pride for seniors, and quite often changes others’ attitudes toward seniors in their community.

Having just ended Older Americans Month, why not make a personal choice to Age Out Loud? Get involved, take an active role in your care, pick up or continue a beloved hobby, or just make your goal one of increased social activity. Looking to learn more about how we “Age Out Loud” at Senior Lifestyle? Check out our website for a community near you and add your voice to the growing number of seniors who are actively choosing what aging looks like.

Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

Posted by in Holidays.

For many Americans, Memorial Day means a long weekend, a cookout, and the unofficial start of summer. There might even be a parade or a car show. School is out, or very nearly, so the air of celebration might even be a notch higher! Block parties with carnival-like atmospheres are common over Memorial Day weekend, and quite often this summer kickoff includes travel plans for families looking to get in some vacation time. These are all wonderful pursuits; however, they quite often lose the real meaning of the holiday. While you’ll most certainly find some of these delightful events happening at Senior Lifestyle communities, look a bit closer and you’ll also see the pride shown by residents, staff and families in honoring those who sacrificed so much for us.

Originally named Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a call to remember those servicemen and women who gave their lives in service of the United States of America. The holiday was originally conceived as a solemn day of honor for Civil War dead, proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic General John Logan. The date was chosen specifically because it did not fall on the anniversary of any specific battle. In his proclamation on Decoration Day, Logan stated, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

While there is some confusion as to when and where Memorial Day actually began, New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873, with all northern states following by 1890. Prior to World War I, Decoration Day, or Memorial Day, as it came to be called, was primarily a “northern state” holiday, with southern states honoring their war dead on different days. At the close of World War I, the holiday transformed from a day to honor Civil War dead to a day to honor all Americans who died fighting in any war. The National Holiday Act of 1971 established our current Memorial Day, falling on the last Monday in May. Additionally, in December of 2000 The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed. This resolution asks that at 3 pm local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Catch up with friends, eat a perfectly grilled burger, and make the most of your extra day off, but remember the origin of the holiday. Perhaps take a moment around three in the afternoon to reflect on the sacrifices of many to secure our freedom, as well. Senior Lifestyle and all our communities salute the men and women who gave their all for us, and we wish you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

The Memory Care Virtuoso at Walden Place

Posted by in Resident Spotlights.

Walden Place resident Mary Tuthill has always been an exceptional communicator, and while dementia has changed her form of communication, it certainly has not dimmed her spirit. As a speech-language pathologist, her life’s work has been helping others communicate effectively, and her life at Walden Place, much like her life before dementia, is filled with laughter and music. Director of Resident Programs at Walden Place Amie Underwood says of their resident virtuoso, “Mary may not be able to speak using words like she used to, however, she speaks to me through her facial expressions, singing, whistling and laughing.”

The daughter of an Armenian immigrant who came to the United States in 1917, Mary is an accomplished pianist and opera singer. She is a coloratura soprano who performed as a professional soloist for the Presbyterian Church. Her daughter Sandra, also a speech pathologist, says that one of her earliest memories is watching her mother perform onstage. At a time when it was unusual for mothers to work outside the home, Sandra says that Mary was an incredible role model, managing the home and her career with humor and grace. She describes her mother as “brilliant” and the staff at Walden Place agrees wholeheartedly. They point out Mary’s love of music and her sense of humor, even when she is frustrated by the inability to find the right word to express herself. They also share that Mary has another talent: she is an expert whistler! Amie says that Mary can whistle like no one else; she can imitate any bird and whistle many songs to perfection. She is very fond of the movie The Sound of Music as well, and can often be found after dinner singing along with Julie Andrews or playing a medley of Christmas songs on the piano.

Mary’s daughter, Sandra, shares that when her mother was diagnosed with dementia, she worried about how the transition from assisted living to memory care would affect her, but says that she has been impressed with Walden Place. The community shows incredible dedication and compassion to their memory care residents. In fact, Sandra brings speech pathology graduate students to Walden Place for cognitive and language programming, a popular program that she says has an impressive waitlist! She shares that her students love visiting the memory care residents, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Residents and staff look forward to the visits, and the students gain valuable insight into non-verbal forms of communication which is a vital part of caring for a patient with dementia.

With programming that focuses on purposeful and enjoyable activities, the memory care program at Walden Place provides residents and families with meaningful interaction and opportunities to re-connect, and while a diagnosis of dementia can be daunting for any family, there can still be joy and laughter; Mary Tuthill is living proof of that. If you visit Walden Place and hear whistling or beautiful piano music, you can be sure that the virtuoso of Walden Place is sharing her unique talent for communication!

Residents at The Garnet of Casa Grande Partner with Loving Hearts Loving Meals

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

It’s been said that food is the universal language of love, and a partnership between The Garnet of Casa Grande and Loving Hearts Loving Meals seems to prove that point deliciously. Delivering homemade soups, cookies, and nutritious snacks daily to Cancer Treatment Services in Casa Grande, Arizona, Loving Hearts Loving Meals volunteers have been providing a unique form of support since 2014. The program is funded through private donations and fundraisers, including bake sales at monthly local craft fairs. Meals are delivered to patients on the day of their treatment to take home or eat while at the facility, helping them to maintain their strength during.

The Garnet of Casa Grande is an award-winning community providing both Independent and Assisted Living programs with a wide variety of amenities and activities for residents. Perhaps just as importantly, The Garnet supports local volunteer programs. A fortunate meeting at an open house hosted by the Cancer Support Center in Casa Grande paved the way for this delicious volunteer opportunity. Tammy Nash, Executive Director of The Garnet of Casa Grande, met manager Diane Gaines of the Cancer Support Center and asked what she and her staff could do to help those in the community; Diane had the perfect opportunity: a program called Loving Hearts Loving Meals. Tammy says, “We are so humbled to have the opportunity to reach out and help someone within our community.”

Tammy and her staff at The Garnet of Casa Grande make homemade soups and cookies for delivery to the Cancer Center, providing the patients with much-needed support during their treatment. She says, “We here at The Garnet are so happy that by us just dishing up a bowl of soup or baking some cookies we are helping those fighting a battle that is much more at times than they can handle.” Tammy adds that she and her staff at The Garnet share the love for anyone fighting a battle with cancer and are glad to provide something to keep patients comfortable while going through their journey.

To learn more about the spirit of volunteerism at The Garnet of Casa Grande or to schedule a tour of the community, please visit our Senior Lifestyle website. To learn more about Loving Hearts Loving Meals and other support services for cancer patients, visit the Cancer Support Center’s Facebook page.

Financial Health

Posted by in Personal Finance.

For adult children, “the financial conversation” is one of the most difficult aspects of changing the living situation of their parents. Discussions about money can be fraught with anticipated conflict, and although the conversation itself may seem intrusive to both parents and children, it is a necessary one. Understanding what funds and financial options are available is vital to the senior living decision-making process. Having this information at the outset may save a great deal of time and frustration, not only for seniors but for their families as well. Any move can be emotionally difficult, so eliminating as much stress as possible is a great idea for all involved!

At Senior Lifestyle, we care about not only the physical and emotional well-being of our residents, but their financial health as well. That’s why we recommend the services of companies like Elderlife Financial. A leading senior solutions company, Elderlife helps families plan, locate, and finance senior housing needs, and provides a variety of services to facilitate the moving process, including:

  • Financing Senior Living
    A bridge loan can help fund senior living while waiting for insurance payments or Veteran’s Benefits to begin, or while waiting for the sale of a home. This service allows families the peace of mind of an immediate move.
  • Veteran Benefits Assistance
    Many veterans are unfamiliar with the benefits available to them. Elderlife can assist in the process of gathering the necessary information to apply for the “Aid & Attendance” pension benefit, as well as providing short term funding while waiting for approval.
  • Assistance with Insurance
    If a long-term care policy is in place to pay for care, Elderlife can help navigate the often-complex process of making a claim and qualifying for benefits. Additionally, life insurance policies are a potential source of funding for senior living. They can be sold or borrowed against to pay for care.

You don’t have to navigate the senior living journey alone; we care about your financial health, and our community advisors are here to help. For information on a Senior Lifestyle community near you, take a look at our website to schedule a visit and meet with an advisor. Financial resources are available on the Senior Lifestyle website as well, so help is just a click away!