Seniors 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 one of our senior communities in Chicago or Charlotte on social media is that a family member in St. Louis or St. Paul can enjoy those pictures as well! While families may be separated by geography, social media for seniors can help to erase some of the distance, a worthwhile benefit for our residents and families. 

If you’ve ever spent time chatting with a senior loved one about social media, you’re likely to have heard something like, “I don’t do that Facebook thing; I don’t even like to text!” or “Computer stuff confuses me and I never remember my password!” While seniors have traditionally not been large consumers of social media, that seems to be changing. A Pew Research Center study notes that young adults (ages 18 to 29) are the most likely to use social media – fully 90% do. Still, usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled since 2010 when 11% used social media. Today, 35% of all those 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2% in 2005. 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: 

  • FAMILY CONNECTIONS 

A common refrain amongst seniors is “I wish I heard from my family more often.” 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 quite fond of in-person social interaction with our families and friends with daily activities in our senior 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! 

Immunizations For Health

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, the health of our residents is our highest priority, so our communities take every opportunity to promote recommended vaccinations for residents, families, volunteers and members of the surrounding community. Whitney Lane, RN, BSN, MSW, a Senior Lifestyle Divisional Director of Health and Wellness, shares that each Senior Lifestyle community holds an annual flu shot clinic and offers the pneumococcal vaccine as well. Timely immunizations against these and other diseases is vital to preventing widespread outbreaks and maintaining the health of our seniors.

August is back-to-school month, with children returning to class and young adults leaving for college. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity for people of all ages to make sure they are protected against dangerous or even deadly diseases. While immunizations for school-age children are often the focus in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that adults need immunizations as well. Vaccinations against the flu, measles and pneumonia provide protection to not only those immunized, but their communities as well.

For seniors, keeping up with vaccinations is imperative. As we age, our immune system can weaken, increasing our susceptibility to certain diseases and illnesses. In addition, certain vaccines lose their efficiency over time, making booster shots necessary. Wellness visits for adults should include a discussion with your doctor about what immunizations are recommended.

Vaccines produce immunity to disease by introducing a weakened form of the antigen to the disease, causing the body’s immune system to create antibodies against that antigen. When faced again with that particular antigen, our body’s defenses are able to act quickly to contain the threat and limit or avert that illness. For those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, avoiding illnesses like the flu can help limit complications of the underlying disease.

For more information about health and wellness topics, or to learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

 

Dog Days of Summer

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

The dog days of summer are upon us! From July 3rd to August 11th, the period of oppressive heat is known as the “dog days.” This time is so named because the hottest days of summer are associated with the dog star Sirius, the brightest star in the Canis Major constellation. The dog star rises and sets with the sun in summertime, specifically in conjunction with the sun on July 23rd. Since the ancient Romans believed that Sirius gave off heat and actually added to the warmth of the sun, they called this period of hot weather “dog days.” Over time, the period of 20 days before and 20 days after Sirius’ alignment with the sun, July 3rd to August 11th, became known as the dog days of summer.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that the hot, humid weather of the dog days of summer can make dogs (and people!) feel sluggish and lazy. If the very thought of moving around in the heat makes you feel sweaty and tired, don’t despair; there are ways to keep your cool while staying active:

 

Swimming or Water Aerobics

You no longer have to find a secret swimming hole or brave the local community pool! Many fitness centers (as well as many Senior Lifestyle communities!) have a pool available. While swimming laps is still a great option, water aerobics and other water-related exercise classes are a wonderful alternative and can provide fun and friendship in addition to a great workout. Swimming is low impact so it’s easy on joints, and many active seniors find the warm water to be therapeutic as well.

Yoga or Pilates

Both yoga and Pilates are great for restoring and maintaining physical and spiritual balance. With a range of experience levels for everyone from the novice to the seasoned yogi, these classes provide gentle stretching, focus on breathing and the added benefit increased mobility. At Senior Lifestyle communities, our Health and Wellness and Activities teams focus on providing an array of options including yoga and Pilates to help our residents remain active seniors.

 

Walking

Walking provides an immense cardiovascular benefit and is a great exercise for those with arthritis or other joint diseases. Walking paths are available at local parks, senior centers and shopping malls; many of these locations offer walking clubs as well, pairing participants with partners of similar abilities and interests, making for a great social opportunity for active seniors. Our Senior Lifestyle communities are designed to provide walking areas both inside and out so that a nice brisk walk or a leisurely stroll is a great idea no matter what the weather outside looks like!

Whatever the weather, exercise is an option at Senior Lifestyle, even during the dog days of summer. With options for every fitness level and interest, we help our residents maintain health and wellness, building endurance and strength along with building friendships! For more information about health and wellness options at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

 

Raising Their Voices: Music Is Connecting Residents to New Possibilities

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Music has a unique ability to spread joy and bridge barriers. The special magic of song has taken root in one of Senior Lifestyle’s premier communities and is shaping the future possibilities for resident programming in the company and beyond. The Village Voices is an inspiring dementia-inclusive acapella choir consisting of seniors from the Independent, Assisted, and Memory Care communities at Atrium Village in Owing Mills, Maryland. Created as a therapeutic tool for residents with dementia, this program has been expanded to include residents from all backgrounds and abilities. This successful program is a testament to the power of music, helping residents – even those with advanced dementia – find joy and connection through the gift of song.

 

Inspired by positive responses to music during individual therapy sessions with dementia patients, the community’s Speech and Language Pathologist, Ellen Fromm had an idea. She approached Activities Director, Joelle Campbell about creating a larger choir among all of Atrium Village’s community residents. An enthusiast “Yes!” followed, and so did the creation of one of the community’s most beloved programs.

 

Co-creators Ellen and Joelle knew they were onto something special from the first day. They watched friendships blossom within their group, most importantly without regard to member’s care level or cognitive ability. Practices often saw more abled persons turning pages for Memory Care residents, and concerned friends asking about others unable to participate that day. They were amazed to see Memory Care residents who often paced or became agitated, sit for long periods of time, engaged and enjoying their moment of song. And they continually saw their residents find a connection to their past and with each other; spending many moments reminiscing as a group about their pasts, friends, and family.

 

Careful to create an environment where everyone can participate and feel connected, the leaders use clinical tools and research to help involve every resident in the choir’s activities. They choose traditional, familiar songs to help engage the resident’s long-term memory, understanding that for many learning new words and tunes is not possible. The group’s practices encourage interaction among the participants giving them plenty of time to chat and connect; with Ellen and Joelle believing the social, emotional, and physical stimulus of being part of the group is just – if not more – important than the songs themselves. And finally, Ellen and Joelle along with their community leadership, seek out opportunities for the residents to perform within The Atrium Village community as well as the larger Baltimore area, knowing that these types of events provide fulfillment and a sense of purpose for their residents.

 

The positive response from the involved residents, The Atrium Village community, and the resident’s family and friends has been immediate and overwhelming. The group has forty members and interest in the program and its potential in other communities is growing. The Village Voices have been able to hold several holiday concerts within the community, have performed at Ellen’s wedding, and are slated for a performance at Artscape on July 21st in Baltimore.

 

Atrium Village and its care team are so happy to start educating the greater community about this program! They hope to encourage more music and interaction in senior programming and share a little of the joy and connection being felt throughout their own Atrium Village Senior Living Community.

 

Find out more about Atrium Village and Senior Lifestyle’s award-winning programs today!

Be Our Guest at Senior Lifestyle

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

One of the most stressful aspects of providing care for a loved one is dealing with the need for occasional breaks in care. Whether those breaks are necessitated by the caregiver’s need for time off to recharge, help after a surgery or illness, or a trip out of town, the change in routine can be difficult to manage. Short term care is often a great option in these situations, especially when a caregiver doesn’t have a back-up or an unexpected need arises. A respite stay at a Senior Lifestyle community can provide peace of mind for family members, a change of scenery and social stimulation for a loved one, and a much-needed break for a primary caregiver.

Senior Lifestyle Short Term Care offers excellent solutions for a number of circumstances, whether planned or unexpected. Senior Lifestyle communities provide quality respite care for our guests, no matter the length of their stay. Short-term guests enjoy the same amenities as long-term residents, including delicious meals, activities, and a caring clinical staff that utilizes a Personalized Service Plan to see to each guest’s unique needs during their stay. A short term stay at a Senior Lifestyle community can also serve as a delightful introduction to the carefree lifestyle enjoyed by our residents for those considering a move to a senior community.

Short term care doesn’t have to be specifically for a respite stay; sometimes a short term visit to a Senior Lifestyle community can provide a guest with a sneak peek into the benefits of life at a senior community! The decision to move to a senior community can be difficult, even for those who feel ready to make a lifestyle change. Variables such as the location of the community, the level of care provided, and financial considerations will need to be factored in to a final decision on where to call home.

With over 30 years’ experience in senior living, Senior Lifestyle understands the factors that make a move successful and has developed the “Be Our Guest” program which allows a trial stay opportunity to “test drive” the lifestyle. Guests can join us for a few days’ visit before making a move to see if the lifestyle feels right to them, enjoying activities and events, dining with new friends, and meeting staff. The program truly allows guests to get a complete picture of life in a senior community and to see what daily life looks like for residents.

For more information on the “Be Our Guest” program or any of our short term stay opportunities at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit the Senior Lifestyle website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Embrace Social Connections

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

We’re celebrating Social Wellness Month at Senior Lifestyle. Social Wellness Month is a time to nurture relationships and focus on healthy social connections, but what happens when a loved one isn’t able to maintain those connections? When facing a diagnosis of dementia, families often find themselves struggling to find ways to help foster and maintain true connectedness with their loved one. Senior Lifestyle’s embrace memory care philosophy focuses on helping families stay connected. By creating a unique life narrative for each resident detailing their specific life experiences, we are able to create a lifestyle attuned each resident’s personal nature—familiar and uniquely their own. This life story becomes a touchstone for friends and family members to aid in communication and connection.

Researchers have found that social connections are healthy in ways we didn’t previously understand. Strong social connections have proven to lessen the risk of some forms of dementia, as well as mitigating the early effects of cognitive impairment in some people. Unfortunately, in the early stages of dementia, the person suffering from dementia often withdraws socially due to fear of humiliation, isolating themselves in an effort to “cover” the emerging symptoms. It is especially important for friends and family to continue to stay connected and engage their loved one during this time, but quite often difficult to do so in the face of the progressing illness. At Senior Lifestyle, we create a welcoming embrace neighborhood that balances structure with freedom of movement, encouraging residents to interact at their comfort level not only with fellow residents, but with friends and family as well.

In many instances, communication becomes stressful for the person with dementia as they struggle to interpret verbal cues, so non-verbal communication in the form of touch and eye contact becomes vitally important. Our small-group programs are designed to address the unique needs that arise from memory loss and impairment, with simultaneous activities bringing energy to each neighborhood throughout the entire day. We are there every moment of the day to ensure that the daily rhythm of life is filled with joy and serenity. We help family members become attuned to this daily rhythm and take opportunities to connect with loved ones.

Can an individual maintain social connections after a diagnosis of dementia? At Senior Lifestyle, we help memory care residents do just that. Our award-winning memory care philosophy, embrace, focuses on daily interactions which bring purpose and joy to life, giving residents the opportunity to be part of a thriving community. To learn more about our embrace memory care philosophy, or to schedule a tour of a community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Social Wellness Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

July is Social Wellness Month, a time to focus on nurturing oneself and one’s relationships. Social wellness focuses on the giving and receiving of social support, identifying the network of friends and family an individual can turn to in times of crisis as well as times of celebration, and ways to keep relationships healthy. Since social support acts as a buffer against adverse life events, it is especially vital for seniors to have a strong social network in place and to have ways to grow and nurture that social network. Volunteering, pursuing a hobby, or joining a local senior center are all ways for seniors to gain valuable social interaction and grow relationships. 

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain and maintain for seniors, especially those who are homebound or who don’t live near family and friends. Since studies have shown that social interaction provides a multitude of health benefits for seniors, one of our main goals at Senior Lifestyle is to expand the social options available to our residents and families. We know that by providing increased opportunities to socialize, we can enhance and enrich the lives of those we serve.  

Seniors reap the benefits of positive social interaction in a number of ways, from increased social and emotional well-being to improvements in physical and cognitive functions. Research shows that: 

  • People who have a strong social network tend to live longer. 
  • The heart and blood pressure of people with healthy relationships respond better to stress. 
  • Strong social networks are associated with a healthier endocrine system and healthier cardiovascular functioning. 
  • Healthy social networks enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases. 

 

At Senior Lifestyle we encourage our residents to take part in activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and social wellness, and we strive to improve the well-being of our residents by providing creative outlets, clubs tailored to individual interests, outings designed to entertain and educate, and opportunities to simply socialize in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more about social opportunities available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

Celebrate Your Independence!

Posted by in Holidays.

At Senior Lifestyle, we celebrate our residents and their spirit of independence not only on July 4th, but every day of the year with senior living options designed for their lifestyle preferences. Independent living means that our dedicated staff is there to accommodate the unique lifestyle our residents choose so that they can enjoy the freedom to do what makes them happy. The flexibility afforded by this lifestyle option often has residents wondering why they didn’t make the decision to move sooner!  

We believe the key to a positive independent living experience lies in having a well-trained and dedicated service staff to anticipate the wants and needs of our residents, so naturally, one of our top priorities at Senior Lifestyle is to empower our team of professionals to deliver the highest standards in hospitality services. Your Life, Your Style means just that; tell us what you’d like and how you’d like it, and we’ll deliver! 

Every Senior Lifestyle Independent Living community has its own unique identity, but in general the following services and amenities are included in the base rental rate: 

  • Fine dining with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients prepared by an Executive Chef and served restaurant-style by our professionally trained service staff. 
  • Stimulating and engaging Life Enrichment Programs 
  • Private Dining Accommodations for Special Occasions 
  • Routine Housekeeping Service 
  • Transportation Service to Local Shopping Centers, Physicians’ Offices or Local Attractions 
  • 24-Hour Emergency Call System and Up and About Checks 
  • On-site Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Services 
  • On-site Beauty Salon and Barber Shop* 
  • *Billed a la carte 

Support your loved one’s independent streak! Families can help senior loved ones maintain independence by practicing interactive caregiving, partnering with the senior to accomplish activities of daily living instead of “taking over.” Additionally, when needs change, loved ones can help seniors navigate the senior living journey by having open conversations with senior family members that focus on long-term needs and maintaining a level of independence that fits those needs. When changes need to happen, family members can also focus on the positive aspects of those changes.  

Our senior living options at Senior Lifestyle are designed to promote optimum levels of independence for our residents along with the freedom to enjoy the lifestyle they deserve! To learn more about Independent Living and the senior living choices at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. 

Celebrating the Successes of The Longest Day

Posted by in Special Events.

The Longest Day has come to another successful close, and at Senior Lifestyle we’re proud of the efforts shown by team members, residents and families to raise awareness and funds for research to end Alzheimer’s disease. Whether you rode a bike, baked a cake or hosted an event, you made a difference in the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and we salute you! The Longest Day is all about love, and on the summer solstice, our communities teamed up to show love for those facing the disease with celebrations across the country. With 106 Senior Lifestyle teams and 266 participants, we found joyful and unique ways to support the cause of the Alzheimer’s Association.

What happens now? The Alzheimer’s Association will update fundraising totals for The Longest Day and post on their website; we’ll keep collecting donations and add to those totals as our communities prepare for the next fundraiser, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which takes place in the fall. In the meantime, Senior Lifestyle communities will continue to provide exceptional care for our residents and families to fulfill our vision to become the trusted leader in senior living services by creating great places to work and great places to live.

As always at Senior Lifestyle, we’ll be setting our goals even higher for next year, not only within our company, but within the surrounding communities as well. We’re proud to be a Global Partner with the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and proud of the work we do to support those in our communities who face Alzheimer’s. We’ll continue to offer exceptional memory care, looking forward to the day when it is no longer a need. To learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, make a donation to support The Longest Day, or to schedule a tour, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Summer Travel With Seniors

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Summertime is prime time for travelers, and whether we’re visiting family or traveling to an exotic locale, we love to hit the road, take a train, or board a plane to find ourselves a change of scenery. At Senior Lifestyle we know that travel can be stressful for many and can often be especially difficult for seniors, so we’re sharing a list of tips and practical advice to make travel more enjoyable for seniors and their families. Whether you’re just going over the river and through the woods or making a coast-to-coast journey, a little forethought can make the trip easier for everyone. Before you begin your summer travel with seniors, take a peek at the following advice about traveling with seniors: 

If you’re traveling by car, plan to make frequent stops. Seniors need to stretch often, and the break is good for you too! Prior to your trip, map out points of interest and if possible, build those attractions into your stop-and-stretch schedule. Be sure assistive devices like canes and walkers are easily accessible, along with any needed medications. It may seem a bit awkward at first, but also be sure to remind your loved one to use the restroom facilities at your stops and you’ll drastically reduce your chances of frantically looking for an exit with facilities in another ten miles. 

If you’re planning to fly, try to book a non-stop flight to your destination. Long layovers or sprints through a crowded airport to catch a connecting flight aren’t fun for anyone, especially an elderly parent with limited mobility. It may take longer for your loved one to board as well, so check with your airline about their boarding policies for those with disabilities. Take advantage of the assistance offered at the airport; even if Mom or Dad normally walk unassisted, a wheelchair can help ease fatigue and make the airport experience less stressful. Be sure to reserve any special services needed when booking your flight, as they may be unavailable otherwise. 

No matter what your mode of transportation may be, remember to be realistic about your itinerary. You may be up for an early hike in the morning, an afternoon swim in the pool and a late supper and dancing in the evening, while Mom and Dad may find that doing even two out of those three activities is too much for one day. Be sure to plan accordingly. If your parents like to turn in early, you may be able to spend some time enjoying things like dinner and dancing at your own pace, and there are no rules that say you have to spend every moment of your vacation together. The down time may be enjoyable for them, as well as a much-needed break for you.  

Consult with your loved one’s doctor before planning a trip. Make sure he or she feels that your elderly parent is able to manage the stress of traveling and the change in routine. Confirm that all medications are refilled and in their original bottles for ease of identification. Get a list of meds from the doctor as well, along with instructions for their use. When traveling by plane, be sure those meds are in a carry-on bag to prevent missing doses if checked luggage is delayed or lost. 

A truly unique travel book, Planes, Canes, and Automobiles by Valerie M. Grubb is a great book to read prior to taking a trip with your senior loved one. The book is packed with practical advice, highly amusing travel anecdotes, and heartwarming stories about she and her mother’s extensive travels together over the past 20 years. It serves as a cheerful, funny guide to traveling with seniors. 

No matter how you travel, enjoy this time with your parents! Remember all those road trips as a child in the backseat? How excited you were for the day when you had control of the radio, heat and air conditioning? Well, now’s your chance to exercise that control, at least to a certain extent. It’s also your chance to make some amazing memories with your loved ones, and maybe even learn a bit more about the people you care about most. Enjoy your summer travel with seniors with happy (and safe) travels from Senior Lifestyle!