A Day in the Life at Memory Care

Posted by in Programs.

A Day in the Life at Memory Care

If you’re considering Memory Care for a loved one, you may wonder what a typical day looks like at one of these communities.

It’s natural to worry about your loved one when they enter a new living space. They may  be upset about moving and a relocation can be a big source of anxiety.

At Senior Lifestyle, we prepare for a new resident before they arrive. Our award-winning Walk With Me program partners each family with a care provider to help ease the transition for the new resident. The family plays a big role in helping us get to know the characteristics that make their loved ones unique. Their hobbies, passions, and interests are critical pieces of information we gather in order to guide them toward a fulfilling schedule of activities, and place them in a neighborhood that fits their specific needs.

What is Memory Care?

Memory Care communities provide specialized services and amenities for those living with conditions that affect memory and behavior, like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Memory Care communities are similar to Assisted Living communities, but provide additional  services tailored to those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Some of our communities offer our award-winning embrace Memory Care, which provides an even more personalized level of care, with garden-to-table nutrition programs, award-winning sensory stimulation, and various lifestyle enrichment programs.  Reach out to an embrace Memory Care community near you for more information on the benefits of our award-winning program.

1. Morning

Residents rise and shine on their own schedules. When they’re ready, they gather for breakfast in the dining room. Service professionals take each resident’s breakfast order and deliver food with a smile. Each menu features a range of healthy and delicious options developed by our talented chefs. Fresh fruit, hot coffee, and warm baked goods make for a delightful breakfast. If a resident is particularly hungry, they can choose hardier options, such as omelettes or traditional breakfast plates with eggs, meat, and potatoes.

After breakfast, residents can choose from several activities. Many Memory Care communities include spacious outdoor areas with walkways, where residents can enjoy the fresh air and beautiful landscape in a safe and gated environment. Others may attend a technology class to get assistance with emails or social media. In specific communities, residents can get an invigorating, low-impact workout in our community fitness classes. Tai chi, water aerobics, and even yoga are included in many of our Memory Care communities.

2. Afternoon

Lunch is served back in the dining room mid-day. A dynamic menu, including soups, salads, and sandwiches are the typical fare, all made with fresh ingredients. Our kitchen staff works hard to ensure residents enjoy a healthy, balanced, and delicious meal every time they visit the dining room.

If a resident opts to stay indoors, they may partake in a book club to discuss their latest group reading assignment. We understand pets are a meaningful part of resident life, and that’s why many of our Memory care communities are pet friendly. Quality time with a furry friend can provide therapeutic wonders for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Many of our communities enjoy art studios, private dining rooms, and programs designed to engage the mind.  There are plenty of activities at our Memory Care communities to make sure your loved one is getting the cognitive stimulation he or she needs.

3. Evening

Dinner is an excellent time for socializing. Dinner is served in our dining rooms, but many of our Memory Care communities have private dining rooms, where families and guests can gather for special events.

From there, residents can continue to socialize, engage in an evening club or class, or go back to their apartment to rest. Senior Lifestyles residents are encouraged to pursue their interests and start new activities at their leisure.

Find Your Senior Lifestyle Community

If Senior Lifestyle’s Memory Care communities sound like a good fit for your loved one, your next step is to consult with us. To inquire about Memory Care, and our award-winning embrace Memory Care, connect with a community near you.

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

7 signs of caregiver burnout

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Does your spouse, partner, child, sister, brother, parent or friend require constant care? If so, you’re not alone. More than 65 million people care for a family member or friend. That’s almost a third of the American population.

As a caregiver, you may feel exhausted or frustrated. Over time, these feelings can get worse, and may lead to bigger problems for you and the one you care for.

Caring for your loved one takes constant effort, and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. If the long-term stress of caregiving is taking a toll on your mental health and wellness, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

What is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of stress related exhaustion associated with  the difficulties of caregiving. The exhaustion of caregiver burnout may be physical, mental, or emotional, and may lead to feelings of guilt. This condition is often confused with clinical depression, as caregiver burnout and depression share many of the same symptoms. Though these conditions are similar, caregiver burnout is unique to caregivers.

According to the AARP, 38% of caregivers describe their caregiving situations as “highly stressful,” and 22% of caregivers say their health has worsened due to caregiving. Family caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness, and 34% rate their health as “fair” or “poor.” 70% of family caregivers show signs of depression, as the constant focus on caring for another can lead a caregiver to neglect their own health.

Here are seven signs that you might be experiencing caregiver burnout:

7 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  1. Exhaustion

Caregivers often experience a combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. When you spend a lot of time and energy caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself. If you constantly feel sluggish, and basic tasks feel unreasonably difficult, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

2. Sleep problems

If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or you sleep too much, caregiver burnout may be the cause. Family caregivers can become anxious about their loved one, and may spend the night worrying. Caregivers may have a hard time getting out of bed, or spend too much time sleeping. 76% of caregivers report low-quality sleep, which contributes to depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

3. Weight gain

During periods of high stress, the stress hormone cortisol rises, and can cause unhealthy cravings. Daily stress is a fact of life for millions of caregivers, and they are an at-risk group for weight gain and obesity. When caregivers are on a time-crunch, they may opt for fast food or a pizza delivery, as opposed to a healthy meal. If caregiving has impacted your nutrition, you may be living with caregiver burnout.

4. Feeling sad or hopeless

Millions of people provide care inside of their own home. This can make the task of caregiving feel inescapable, especially for long term care. Caregiving can feel futile, thankless, or bleak, and these feelings can really impact your perspective. Feeling constantly sad or hopeless  is a strong sign of caregiver burnout.

5. More frequent illnesses

Stress has an adverse effect on your immune system, and caregivers may get sick more frequently than other professionals. Getting sick can cause even more stress for the caregiver, and the one being cared for. This can develop a vicious cycle for caregivers, as more stress means more sickness, and more sickness means more stress.

6. Withdrawing from your friends and passions

Isolating is a common coping mechanism for overworked caregivers. Exhausted caregivers may not feel up to socializing, or working on their hobbies. Caregiving may take over the life of the caregiver, and there may not be room in their life for meaningful pastimes and relationships. If caring for your loved one feels like the only thing that you do, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.

7. Frustration with yourself or your loved one

Intense emotion is a common response to intense stress, and occasional frustration is inevitable in caregiving. You may feel like you’re at your breaking point, as stress, anxiety, and guilt mounts. When you begin to experience escalating frustration or anger, it may be time to remove yourself from the situation, and let someone else take over. If there are no close friends or family members who can step in, it may be time to consult a retirement community.

Finding a Retirement Community You Can Count On

Choosing a retirement community for your loved one can be a tremendous challenge. You may have preconceived notions of what these communities look like, and you may feel complicated emotions. Though relocating a loved one to a community is a difficult decision, it’s also an important one. If you feel burned out as a caregiver, it may be time to relocate your loved one to an Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care community.

At Senior Lifestyle, we connect with your loved one, and encourage meaningful connections with others. Giving your loved one the retirement he or she deserves, while providing a sense of community will give you both a sense of purpose and relief. If you think that it may be time for an Assisted Living community,  find a retirement community close to you.

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

Posted by in Research.

sundowners syndrome in people with dementia

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome in People with Dementia

Learn about the often-misunderstood effects of Sundowners syndrome, including symptoms and treatment options with Senior Lifestyle.

Sundowners syndrome can be a major source of stress for both the people who live with it, and those who care for them. The condition is still shrouded in mystery to much of the medical community and its specific causes are not yet fully understood. The medical uncertainty of sundowners syndrome makes treatment a challenge. With patience, understanding, and guidance, the effects of sundowners syndrome can be reduced.

What is Sundowners Syndrome?

Sundowners syndrome is a common symptom of dementia where confusion, frustration, and agitation becomes more acute in the evenings. Diminishing light in the evening can frighten or confuse people with dementia. Those who live with Sundowne’s syndrome generally experience symptoms around sunset, which is where the condition gets its name.

Sundowner’s syndrome (also known as Sundown syndrome or simply sundowning) is not a disease in its own right, but rather a distinct pattern of symptoms that accompany dementia.

Symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome

People living with Sundowners syndrome may experience a variety of symptoms and diagnosis can be difficult. If you think your loved one may have Sundowners syndrome, consult a medical professional. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome may include any combination of the following symptoms after sunset, or in the evenings:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Pacing
  • Wandering

If you see signs of Sundowners syndrome, consider consulting a medical professional or Memory Care community near you for guidance.

Potential Causes of Sundowners Syndrome to the embrace

Scientists have associated the symptoms of Sundowners syndrome with a disruption of circadian rhythm (your daily biological clock), along with various environmental and social factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue, low lighting, and increased shadows may exacerbate the effects of Sundowners syndrome.

Treatment Options for Sundowners Syndrome

There is no universal treatment for Sundowners syndrome. Since the causes of Sundowners syndrome are still uncertain, a comprehensive treatment has yet to be established. Despite the uncertain cause, small adjustments in daily behavior have been shown to ease the symptoms.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the symptoms in your loved ones.

  1. Maintain a regular schedule

A consistent routine keeps your circadian rhythm in check. Symptoms of Sundowners syndrome have been shown to decrease in people with a firm schedule.

2. Keep your loved one’s environment well-lit in the evenings

Light has a huge effect on mood, and a well-lit room has a lower chance of frightening or confusing someone with Sundowners syndrome.

3. Reduce caffeine intake

One of the most common causes of sleep irregularity is caffeine, especially  in the afternoons. Coffee, tea, and many soft drinks have high levels of caffeine. Caffeine can affect sleep quality or cause insomnia, which is shown to exacerbate Sundowners syndrome symptoms. Try replacing coffee with something caffeine-free and relaxing, like chamomile tea.

4. Encourage daytime activity

Activity and healthy stimulation is important for people living with dementia, and increased exertion promotes better sleep quality. Daytime activity promotes a healthy circadian rhythm and can reduce the severity of symptoms.

5. Discourage afternoon napping

A person who naps in the afternoon is more likely to have trouble falling asleep, or sleeping all the way through the night. Encourage your loved one to rise with the sun and sleep at night.

6. Encourage healthy eating habits

Diet and nutrition have a huge effect on mood and health overall. A healthy diet paired with a regular sleep schedule has been shown to reduce the effects of Sundowners syndrome. For inspiration on healthy diet choices for dementia, check out our guide to nutrition.

7. Prescription medication

Sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to Sundowners syndrome. In some cases, prescription medications can improve sleep quality, and reduce agitation, anxiety, and frustration. Sundowners syndrome is a complex condition with several contributing factors. Oftentimes, treating one aspect of Sundowners syndrome can have a rippling effect.

Until both dementia and Sundowners syndrome is better understood, caregivers are encouraged to communicate with doctors, nurses, and Memory Care providers. Pay attention to the specific sundowning triggers, and establish a strong system of support and communication.

Keep a record of any behaviors or triggers associated with Sundowners syndrome and know that you can always reach out for support if you need it.

Sundowners syndrome can be frightening for you and your loved one, but you always have resources available. For more information about Sundowners syndrome, and Memory Care community resources, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you today.