What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

What to Look For in Senior Apartments

Searching for a senior apartment can be, in a word, intimidating.

As you weed through a pile of shiny community brochures (which can look more or less the same), you may feel insecure about making the right decision for yourself or a loved one.

Thankfully, there are better ways to judge a senior apartment than materials from marketers and salespeople. Here are our tips for finding the perfect senior living community for you.

How to Find a Great Senior Living Community:

1. Read Reviews and Comments

The internet can be a tricky place when looking for helpful reviews.

It’s important to never take a star-rating at face value. Devote some time to reading the comments left by the reviewers on multiple review sites, as well as social media. Of course, don’t make your decision based on reviews alone.

However, if you live in an area saturated with retirement communities, reviews are a great way to whittle down the list.

Things to look for:

  • Generally positive reviews
  • Staff appreciation stories and anecdotes
  • Resident success stories
  • Positive employee feedback

2. Take a Tour

Once you’ve found your short list, it’s time to take a tour.

It’s absolutely essential that you take the time to visit communities, and it is better if you can visit multiple times. This allows you to form a well-rounded opinion of the staff, environment, food, and activities during different situations and days.  

Things to look for:

  • Welcoming atmosphere
  • Lots of resident-to-resident interaction
  • Warm staff-to-resident interaction
  • Laughter and activity
  • Cleanliness and attention-to-detail

3. Connect with Families, Residents, and Staff

While you are at the community, take the time to connect with other residents, visiting family members, and staff.

If you’re looking for yourself, try to sit at lunch with other residents and find out their honest opinions. If you are a family member of someone looking to retire, find or ask to be connected with someone who has a loved one that is a similar age or care level as your parent or loved one. If possible, connect offsite for lunch, coffee, or a call. That way, you can be sure there will not be any reservations about telling you the whole story.

4. Get the Facts

To be an educated consumer you need to know all the facts. With senior apartments, it’s important to access any applicable state or national regulatory findings for the community.

Ask about any community-wide awards or award-winning programs available on-site. Gather information from both the community and non-biased parties, like your Area Agency on Aging, to make an informed decision about your community of choice.

What to look for:

  • State surveys, and specifically deficiencies
  • National and local recognition
  • Community involvement
  • Programmatic excellence or innovation

Avoiding a Not-So-Great Community

1. Look for Patterns

Yes, the internet is full of biased reviews.

If paid or written in the heat of the moment, they might not be an accurate representation of the community. On the other hand, they might. If you see a pattern emerging in the review or comments, don’t ignore them.

Instead, dig a little deeper. How old are the reviews? Do they have to do with a singular staff member, or the community as a whole? Educate yourself, and if you decide to visit, ask for clarification from the community about changes made to resolve the issues identified in the reviews.

2. Trust Your Instincts

Don’t let flashy sales pitches or shiny amenities distract you from your gut instincts about a community. Pay attention to the body language of the residents, the general feeling in the room, and the actions of staff not immediately interacting with you. You will know what feels right, and what doesn’t.

Asking the Right Questions

1. When in Doubt, Ask

In situations where lifestyle, safety, and care are at stake, there are no stupid or intrusive questions.

Don’t understand the pricing structure? Ask. Don’t like or understand a staff interaction with a resident? Ask. You have a right to full transparency. A good community will be patient and answer any questions you may have about the retirement community.

2. Daily Life

When considering the questions to ask, think about you or your loved one’s daily routine. Do you have any questions about meals or nutrition? What does going to bed look like? What about laundry?

It’s usually the mundane that gets inadvertently passed over for the more exciting aspects, so remember to think about normal day-to-day life.  

3. The Unexpected

Not every day will be perfect. From illness and falls to actual natural disasters, make sure you understand the processes and protocols for an unexpected situation in the community.

When choosing a senior living community, it’s important to access all your resources, research multiple communities, and become an educated consumer to make the right decision.

 

To learn more about Senior Lifestyle’s dedication to quality, service, and innovation in senior apartments, take a look at one of our outstanding communities near you today.

The Top 7 Reasons to Retire This Year

Posted by in Expert Advice.

top 7 reasons to retire this year

The Top 7 Reasons to Retire This Year

For most of your career, retirement may have seemed impossible.

If you’re like most people, the thought of stepping away from work is bizarre. Even folks that have scrimped and saved their whole careers often feel underprepared for life’s next big chapter. Financially, emotionally, and spiritually, retirement can be a nightmare.

Despite these concerns, retirement might be sounding more realistic. It may even sound like a smarter choice than sticking it out at work.

Though there are plenty of folks that insist on retiring as late as possible, retiring sooner has some strong advantages.

Here are our top seven reasons why you should retire this year.  

1. You’re All Set

Graduating to the next stage of your life can be intimidating, but in reality, you’ve been preparing your whole work life for this moment.

If you’ve run the numbers, double checked your 401k, and your financial advisor has given you a big thumbs up, don’t be afraid to make the change. In fact, if you’re in good financial standing for retirement, you’re in a minority.

A GoBankingRates study revealed 30% of people 55 and older have saved nothing for retirement. In the same survey, 26% saved  less than $50,000. This means 54% of older Americans don’t have enough money to retire. If you’re in a financially cozy spot, you’re in better shape than most retirement-age Americans.

Often times, folks of retirement age have the means, but lack the motivation to move forward. Always remember that retirement is an emotional journey, just like any other large transition in life.

Talk to friends, family, and old colleagues to find out just what you are missing by not diving into retirement.

2. Improve Your Health

Stress is toxic.

According to Dr. Varnada Karriem Norwood, longterm stress can cause the following unhealthy symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Though a moderate amount of stress can keep you healthy, an abundance can have dramatic effects on your health.

A life of nonstop stress at work adds up; soldiering on through your retirement years can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health. For the sake of your own health, know when to call it quits, and enjoy some well-deserved rest.

Retirement allows people to step away from the rat race, focus on keeping active, and enjoy fulfilling activities that don’t include staying late at the office or answering emails on a Sunday morning.

3. Enjoy the Good Life and Start Living Your Dreams

Most people don’t have time to chase their dreams. Between 40 (or more) hours of work a week, managing property and assets, and family responsibilities, who has time to devote to a passion?

In retirement, you can finally start those projects you’ve always dreamed of. Whether it’s travel, leisure, hobbies, or family, the time is finally yours. Many active retirees join clubs, explore new hobbies, or take up old passions like art or theater to keep them social and immersed in their local community.

For many seniors, continuous care or Independent Living communities are an attractive option. These 65+ properties have gained traction in the last few years by providing resort-style amenities and removing the responsibility of daily chores and home maintenance that can often interfere with free time or extended travel.

4. Avoid Unforeseen Changes

You never know what is just around the corner.

Economic and political changes can devastate your investments and put your nest egg in peril. If you are planning on selling or downsizing your home, utilize the thriving real estate market to sell while prices are high. Even seemingly strong markets can abruptly dissolve with a singular “black swan” event.

If you are financially secure now, don’t wait for the bottom to drop out on the market. Talk with a financial planner and start transitioning your savings to safer investments strategies that will work for you long-term. Stop risking your hard earned money and start enjoying the fruits of your labor!  

5. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

According to a new study, Americans spends an average of 37 minutes of quality time with their  family per day. Americans are too busy working and hustling about to have meaningful time with their friends and families.

If you feel like you’ve spent far more time working than bonding with your loved ones, retirement may open a world of opportunities.

There is no time like the present to start giving your full attention to your spouse, children, and longtime friends. You already have a lifetime of career achievements to look back on, start devoting your time to creating more irreplaceable memories.

6. Time to Give Back or Pursue Your Passion

Retirement doesn’t mean you need to slow down. Turning the page on your career means more time for projects that fuel your passion. Take on more responsibilities at your chosen non-profit or explore volunteer opportunities to find a renewed sense of purpose.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Local Food Banks, Homeless, Women’s Shelters
  • Hospitals, Schools, and Elderly Care Homes
  • Political Activism
  • Humane Societies and Pet Rescue Services
  • Religious Service

Always wanted to make money doing something you love? Try your hand at a simple small business that inspires you each day.

Entrepreneurial Hobbies:

  • Woodworking
  • Crafting, Knitting, and Crocheting
  • Gardening and Farm Share Programs
  • Painting, Ceramics, and Sculpture
  • Writing and Editing

7. Value Your Time

Only today is guaranteed. You’ve achieved success and all of your work goals, and now is the time to capitalize on the time you have left, and make the most of your retirement years. You won’t ever regret taking that leap, but you may live to regret not having as many years to enjoy the benefits of retirement.


Start Your Retirement Plans Today!

So, what are you waiting for? There is nothing holding you back from realizing your dream of a vibrant retirement except yourself. Set your retirement date today!

If a worry-free lifestyle appeals to you, learn how to enjoy the good life in a Senior Lifestyle Independent Living community, and let us take care of the details

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

Posted by in Research.

retirement community trends 2019

Top 10 Retirement Community Trends to Look Out For in 2019

The retirement communities of today are vibrant, social spaces filled with events, excursions, and learning opportunities. It has been exciting to witness the dynamic evolution of retirement communities in the last few decades, and the new trends emerging in the next few years will not disappoint. Here are the innovative services and amenities you can look forward to entering the senior living space in 2019.

1. A Focus on Location

Whether meeting a demand for shopping, culture, fine dining, or catering to residents hoping for a relaxing setting, today’s retirement communities are aligning their services and amenities to align with their resident location desires. From beautiful resort-style properties to comforting country apartment homes and exciting urban locales, finding a retirement community to fit your tastes is getting easier each year.

2. Days Made Simpler Through Technology

Smart devices such as tablets and apps are giving residents instant access to program scheduling, activity opt-ins, and daily menus all in one place. If you are concerned about your health and safety, you can seek options for integrated wearables that track vital statistics, or can provide one-touch calls for assistance. Although many seniors are just as tech savvy as the next person, communities are focused on creating user-friendly platforms that ensure the new technology enriches the resident experience.

3. Thoughtful Design and Architecture

Environment has a tremendous impact on mood, health, and overall happiness. Retirement communities are utilizing modern architecture and design principals to make their spaces more warm, welcoming, and functional. Our staff has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort to tailoring our communities to the residents. You may be amazed at how much the details of a community’s exterior and interior can impact a resident’s experience.

Retirment communities have taken note of these trends, and have developed communities with more natural sunlight, open layouts, and green spaces for residents to enjoy. The design of apartment homes has also changed, with the focus on functionality, privacy, and personal touches that help create a home-like and safe space for each individual.

4. Access to Healthcare

Always focused on catering convenient services to their residents, communities are creating better access to the healthcare seniors often need. Many properties have implemented on-site healthcare clinics that provide routine exams and urgent care for daily health concerns. In addition, many communities offer physician visits and more accessible health care.

Podiatrists, dentists, and audiologists are common visitors at many retirement communities, along with primary care physicians. When it comes to healthcare concerns, a retirement community may be the best place to be.

5. Pet-Friendly Spaces

If you are someone who can’t imagine life without your pets, you are not alone. Although many communities are pet-friendly, some properties are going above and beyond to show their commitment to your furry companions by shaping the environment and programming to cater to your pet’s happiness. These new pet-friendly amenities include off-leash dog areas, walking trails, and daily social pet programs.

6. Sophisticated Dining

A remarkable development in retirement living is the fresh approach to dining. You’ll see less and less of the drab monotony of cafeteria-style cuisine, and more restaruant style dining options. Since an increasing amount of research indicates the importance of nutrition, more retirement communities are stepping up their dining options with retirement-style cuisine and alternative meals.

Moving away from the limiting “three-square meals” itinerary, many Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are starting to implement bistros and cafes that serve healthy, satisfying options at any time of the day. Residents will have the convenience of an on-site snack option, making it easy to grab a bite to eat between meals or buy a pick-me-up espresso before their afternoon art class.

7. Outdoor and Boutique Fitness

For active Independent Living residents, traditional exercise programs often miss the mark. Program coordinators have taken advantage of the entrance of more youthful populations to embrace energetic, outdoor, and boutique fitness options like tai chi, yoga, and walking clubs. Depending on the location, you may be able to take advantage of hiking excursions, golf access, and tennis lessons.

8. Community Involvement and Volunteerism

Maintaining a feeling of meaning and fulfillment in your retirement years is vitally important. The cultivation of community activism and volunteer opportunities meets that need head-on. Communities have taken proactive steps to involve seniors in the broader community, create more diverse social opportunities (like dancing, gardening, happy hours, and beyond) and imbue a continued sense of purpose in their residents’ lives.

9. Trips of a Lifetime and Exciting Excursions

Many people perceive retirement as a time in their life filled with adventure and days crossing off their bucket lists.

Retirement communities have taken up the challenge of helping you maintain a sense of wonder by coordinating national and international travel opportunities throughout the year. If you would rather stay closer to home, other programs have focused on creating exciting local experiences like skydiving, kayaking, and balloon rides.

10. Personal Expression and Growth

Forward-thinking communities have implemented education and programming options that help you explore unrealized interests and untapped creative pursuits. From art centers and music lessons to college courses and book clubs, the possibilities are endless to discover new things about yourself and the world.


The senior living space is growing more exciting and adventurous each year. Senior Lifestyle is dedicated to providing these types of innovations and programs in our Independent Living communities.

For more information about the innovations in our our beautiful Independent Living communities, connect with a community near you today!

What is Supportive Living?

Posted by in Expert Advice.

What is Supportive Living?

There are many confusing terms in senior living. Whether it’s overly-glossed names for pricing packages or the jargon surrounding personal care, it’s easy to get lost in the jumble of words. It would be natural to take supportive living as another term for assisted living, but it’s essential for you and your loved ones to understand it is a community type all its own. Learn what supportive living is and why it is such a vital resource for seniors in your Illinois communities.

Supportive Living vs. Assisted Living

While it might look like assisted living – and it might act like assisted living – supportive living is a valuable community resource that sets itself apart. Supported by the State of Illinois, supportive living communities provide personal care, daily socialization, and educational activities in a comfortable, home-like setting. However, in contrast to assisted living, these services are provided in supportive living at a reduced or subsidized cost. Also unlike in assisted living, if a resident becomes unable to pay for the care, they are not required to move from their apartment. These financial safety nets are why supportive living communities are such an asset to seniors, their families, and Illinois communities.

What’s Included in Supportive Living?

Just like other senior living options, services and amenities can vary from community to community. However, per the requirements of the State of Illinois, the minimum services in supportive living communities include:

  • Three meals a day
  • Housekeeping
  • Social, educational, and wellness activities
  • Assistance with bathing and dressing
  • Medication management
  • Scheduled transportation

(Affordable Assisted Living Coalition, 2018)

Residents enjoy private apartment homes (either one or two rooms), and depending on their chosen community may have access to recreational rooms, beauty or barber services, and relaxing outdoor spaces.

Qualifying for Supportive Living

There are different types of supportive living; including communities that care for persons living with disabilities, others that care exclusively for seniors, and some residences that care for both. Each community will have a set of guidelines for accepting applications to their community including age, financial need, and/or inability to qualify for other state or federal assistance programs. In general, talking to your local supportive living community is the best way to find out their specific qualifications.

What Supportive Living Isn’t

 While supportive living can provide many important personal care services and amenities to Illinois seniors, there are other things not covered by the program. First, while services and personal care are covered through Medicaid or other financial assistance, room and board in the communities typically are still paid by the resident. The communities have a limited ability to provide medical care and do not provide skilled nursing care. Residents needing a higher level of care either before entering or during their stay will need to choose another senior care community that can meet their ongoing healthcare needs.

Finding Supportive Living Communities Near You

 It’s important to understand that deciding on a supportive living community is just as critical a decision as choosing an assisted living. Not all supportive living communities are created equal. Some may have better additional amenities or more experienced staff. It is up to each resident or family member to do their research and find out which community is the right fit for themselves or their loved one!

The Affordable Assisted Living Coalition has a lot of great resources to help you understand and choose the right supportive living community.  Senior Lifestyle is proud to have many affordable senior living options and supportive living communities here in Illinois. Our communities are always ready to answer any questions you have about your ability to qualify and would love to take you on a tour to show you what our affordable communities have to offer!

Understanding all the options available to you in your search for senior living is important; as supportive living communities are just one piece of a complex puzzle. Find out more about other senior living options from Senior Lifestyle here.

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.

 

Downsizing Checklist for Caregivers and Parents

Posted by in Expert Advice.

downsizing checklist for caregivers and parents

Downsizing Checklist for Caregivers and Parents

Downsizing for the senior in your life (or rightsizing, as we like to call it) can be a huge, overwhelming task. Relocating has many crucial steps, and thinking of the event as one huge task can be daunting.

The trick to tackling a massive undertaking is to divide the task into several small tasks. Organizing the downsize into manageable bits will make the process more stress-free for you, and the senior in your life.

We’ve created this downsizing checklist, to make everyone’s life easier.

1. Planning Stage

Plan your work, and work your plan! The act of writing your plans itself has been shown to reduce stress. As you remember each and every aspect of the downsizing, write it down in a central location.

Important steps in the Planning Stage:

  • Clean and Organize in Stages

Get ahead of the task as much as you can. Nothing adds stress to a task like all-or-nothing thinking, and a marathon approach may cause burn out. Give yourself months to prepare, if at all possible.

  • Set a Hard Moving Date

Nothing motivates like a deadline! Leaving a move date up in the air is a recipe for endless delays and long-term stress. Set a reasonable date, which takes into account all of the factors of the move and stick to it.

  • Measure Furniture

The senior in your life may be very attached to that antique dresser, but it may not fit in their new living space. The worst time to figure this out is when it’s stuck in a doorway. Take measurements of anything large that may be accompanying the resident, and decide what simply won’t make the cut. This can be a stressful decision, as folks can be extremely sentimental about their possessions, but sometimes, a firm decision needs to be made.

  • Plan an Estate Sale

There’s a good chance downsizing will lead to a surplus of sellable furniture. Unless you want to pay monthly at a storage facility for something that may never see the light of day again, consider setting up an estate sale. It’s cheap, easy, and you may even get a decent amount of money!

  • Decide Whether to Hire a Moving Company or Ask Friends & Family

A relocation is usually three times as much work as you think. Friends and family may have their hearts in the right place, but may lack the vehicles and equipment to safely move possessions to the new community. A moving company has the skills, equipment, and trucks needed to move everything to where you need it. Make the decision early and carefully, and stick to your plan!

2. Organizing/Decluttering Stage

The next phase of reducing stress and moving forward with a downsize is the Organizing/Decluttering Stage. You will need to sort your senior’s belongings by importance, what is sellable, what should be given to friends and family, what should be donated, and what should be thrown away.

  • Decide What is Important:

While sorting the possessions, look out for tax documents, deeds, medical records, wills, any diplomas/certifications, identifications (driver’s license, passport, social security cards), prescriptions, and anything else that may be important to keep.

  • Decide What is Sellable:

If you plan to have an estate sale, or sell off items on Craigslist or eBay, keep value in mind. A beloved piece of art or furniture may be precious in the senior’s eyes, but unsellable on the market. Think about the condition and resell value of any items that cannot be taken to the new community.

  • Decide What Goes to Friends & Family:

Passing along heirlooms is a time-honored tradition, and some friends and family would be overjoyed to have a meaningful item passed along. If that upright grand piano can’t be relocated to the new community, consider giving it to a musical friend or family member. These heirlooms can grow a deeper bond with a loved one, and may bring joy to families for generations.

  • Decide What is Donated or Thrown Away:

Some items may be beyond repair, or have little resell value. If you’re having trouble finding a new home for some items, it may be time to let it go. Donating to places like Goodwill will pass the possessions along, and will give you a small tax credit. If the item is unlikely to find a new home even at a Goodwill, there is no shame in throwing it away (or recycling, if possible).

3. Packing Stage

Now that you’ve decided what stays and what goes, it’s time to pack! Organization is extremely important while you’re packing, so nothing is filed away to the wrong place, or gets broken.

  • Get Organized

Before boxing anything, identify which room each relocated item will go to. It’s very important to designate a box for essential items, such as medication, bathroom supplies, bedding, or anything that will be needed within hours of unpacking.

  • Identify Fragile & Important Items

Plenty of priceless artifacts have been ruined in transit. If you care about the well-being of the possessions, take care to properly package fragiles with newspaper, bubblewrap, cardboard, or insulation. Be sure to mark the box as FRAGILE, so any movers will know to handle the package with care.

  • Invite Friends & Family to Help

Packing is always a bigger undertaking than you think it is. Many hands makes less work, so incentivize your friends and family to help out. Promising a nice dinner or a return favor can go a long way in enticing friends and family to help!

4. Moving Stage

  • If Using Friends & Family, Be Sure to Communicate

Make sure plans are absolutely solidified for the move. Who will be where, with what tools, driving which truck, at what time? Effective moves require all hands on deck, and absolute clarity of responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to touch base often, with regular reminders.

  • Make Sure You Have the Appropriate Gear and Muscle

As mentioned before, planning is important. Make sure the friends and family that help with the move, or moving company understand exactly how much material needs to be moved, and how heavy it is. Will you need a pickup truck? A moving truck? A trailer? The ability to move something more than 200 lbs? These are important questions that should be answered before moving day.

  • If Using a Moving Company, Get Contracts in Writing

In some instances, moving companies can be responsible for destruction of property. In these events, it’s important to have contingencies in writing. Though it is rare for a moving company to cause irreparable harm, it’s important to have a plan for a disaster. Better safe than Sorry!

5. The New Life Stage

At this point, you’ll have a house full of boxes. Though this final step is important and can take time, the hardest work is behind you. Unpacking, setting up the new residence, and providing ongoing support can be a very rewarding stage in the downsizing process.

  • Update the Address

With all the hustle and bustle of a relocation, this is easy to forget. Notify the post office of the new address, and the need for a forwarding address. Update the address to the senior’s bank, post office, and any other important institutions.

  • Unpack Essentials, then Bathroom, then Bedroom

Where to start with all these boxes? Instead of spending hours deciding the feng shui of the residence’s decorations, start with the essentials. Medications, glasses, cell phones, and toiletries should be the first priority. It’s important to have bathroom needs and a cozy place to sleep taken care of before the day is done. Everything else can be unpacked in the following days.

  • Check in Regularly

There are so many ways to support the senior in their new residence. Sometimes, it’s as easy as a phone call. Be sure to keep in touch, track their progress, and let them know they can call on you for support. Make sure they’re happy, socializing well, and thriving in their new community.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Rightsizing a senior’s residence is a challenge, and it may feel like too big of a task. If you feel out of your depth, or overwhelmed by the challenge of moving, sometimes you need an expert to help out. If you need additional assistance, use our interactive map to find senior living communities in your area. You can schedule an appointment to meet with Senior Lifestyle staff and talk through any concerns you may have with rightsizing.

For information on ongoing care, and enriching the lives of seniors, be sure to read our Senior Lifestyle Blog!

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Posted by in Expert Advice, Research.

senior isolation

What is Senior Isolation, and What Can You do to Help?

Do you feel isolated in your own home? Do you feel removed from family and friends? Do you feel alone with your own thoughts, with no one to talk to and no opportunity to engage with your community? Unfortunately, for a large and growing number of seniors, the answer is yes.

Approximately 12.5 million older adults live in one-person households, representing 28% of people aged 65 or older. According to the Council on Contemporary Families, it only gets worse; by the time people reach age 85, about 40% live by themselves.

The thought of our aging parents, grandparents and loved ones living alone is sad enough, but the concern gets even worse when we look at what the research says about the effect of isolation and loneliness on seniors.

Facts About Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in older adults

In 148 longitudinal studies with more than 300,000 participants, older individuals with strong social ties had a 50% greater likelihood of survival over the study period (average of 7.5 years) compared with those who report feeling isolated or lonely due to poor social networks and relationships. According to the authors of one study on senior isolation and mortality, “This effect is greater than that of other well-established risk factors for mortality such as physical inactivity and obesity, and comparable with cigarette smoking.”

Senior isolation can negatively impact physical and mental health

In a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that seniors who report feeling lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor physical and/or mental health. Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor social networks and relationships are more likely to suffer from hypertension, coronary artery disease or cardiac failure, and are more likely to experience psychological distress. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults has also been linked with a greater likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as inactivity and smoking.

Isolation may limit access to benefits and services

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the physical, cultural and geographical barriers that isolate seniors from their peers and communities “can prevent them from receiving benefits and services that can improve their economic security and their ability to live healthy, independent lives.” By not taking advantage of such benefits and services, seniors may become even more disconnected to their family, friends and communities as their financial situation worsens or as their physical/mental health declines.

How to Help Lonely or Isolated Seniors Reconnect

Address health issues that may contribute to isolation

Seniors can become withdrawn and isolated for several reasons, including undiagnosed or untreated health issues. Seniors who experience incontinence, for example, may be hesitant to leave their homes, or seniors hearing difficulties or deteriorating vision may avoid social situations out of embarrassment or frustration. Talk with your loved one about their health and address any issues that may be limiting their social life. You may need to speak with your loved one’s caregivers or health providers for a clearer picture of their overall health.

Encourage self-esteem and self-confidence

Body image doesn’t get as much attention as other aging concerns, but it can be a major contributing factor to senior isolation. Older adults may become self-conscious about their appearance to the point that they avoid social interactions entirely. Compliments and positive comments about your loved one’s appearance can go a long way and may even provide a boost of self-esteem and self-confidence that helps your loved one get out and reconnect with the world. Researchers have also found that boosting self-esteem can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

Give your loved one a pet

Taking care of an animal can combat senior isolation and loneliness in many ways. For seniors who are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, having a dog means going on walks and visiting dog parks—in other words, getting out of the house. Pets also serve as a social icebreaker and can make it easier for seniors to strike up conversations with strangers. If your loved one is not capable or willing to care for a pet on their own, check to see if there are any volunteer organizations in your city that match therapy animals with homebound seniors for weekly visits, such as Therapy Dogs International and Caregiver Canines. Animal companionship alone may be enough to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Make transportation easier

An analysis of data from the National Household Travel Survey found that among adults 65 and older who reported not leaving home in the past week, more than half reported that they would like to get out more often. Lack of transportation is one reason why seniors may not get out as much or as often as they would like. Offer rides to older loved ones or introduce them to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to make it easier for them to get out of the house.

Notify neighbors, friends and caregivers

If you’re concerned that an aging parent, grandparent or loved one is isolated and lonely, notify other people in their lives who can help make a difference. If a loved one is aging in place, for example, reach out to their neighbors and explain your concerns. Caregivers and health providers should also be notified if you are worried that a loved one is not getting as much social interaction as they want or need.

Socially-Focused Senior Living

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain for seniors, especially those who are limited by health problems or who don’t live near family and friends. That’s why we provide activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and enrich the lives of those we serve. Learn more about how we help seniors socialize in comfortable, welcoming environments.

 

Wearable Technology for Seniors

Posted by in Technology.

wearable technology seniors

Wearable Technology for Seniors: 8 Gadgets Baby Boomers Will Love!

Wearable technology like the Fitbit and Apple Watch aren’t just for the young and active any more. Increasingly, older adults are turning to smart wearable gadgets to help them live healthier, happier lives. In a 2015 study conducted by AARP, 45% of participating older adults (50+ years old) reported increased motivation for healthier living after six weeks of using a wearable activity or sleep tracker, and 67% of participants overall felt that such wearables were beneficial or of value.

Wearable tech can also provide family members and caregivers with peace of mind. Some wearables specifically designed for seniors include features like fall detection and emergency monitoring, which means independent seniors still have the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they like with an extra layer of protection in case of an emergency.

Whether you’re looking for a fitness tracker for an active, on-the-go parent or a medical alert device for an aging, independent grandparent, we hope you’ll find what you’re looking for in this short list of wearables suited for seniors.

Activity Trackers, Smartwatches and Medical Alert Devices for Seniors

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Subtle, stylish and smart, this fitness tracker does it all. In addition to daily fitness monitoring (steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, etc.) the Vivosmart 3 also tracks heart rate variability, which is used to calculate and display stress levels. This fitness tracker also features built-in guided breathing exercises for relaxation and stress relief, helping seniors feel more at peace and at ease in their daily lives. Learn more about the Garmin Vivosmart 3.

Fitbit Charge 3

Voted the 2018 Fitness Tracker of the Year, the Fitbit Charge 3 tracks way more than steps. It features automatic sleep tracking so seniors can monitor their sleep patterns and learn how to get better rest, which is important to healthy aging. The Fitbit Charge 3 also sports a large, easy-to-read backlit display, long battery life and connectivity to everyday apps seniors will love, including calendar and weather. Learn more about the Fitbit Charge 3.

Samsung Gear S3

Timeless on the outside, revolutionary on the inside, the Samsung Gear S3 looks and feels like a traditional watch but does so much more to help seniors lead healthier, happier lives. One of the best features we love about the Samsung Gear S3 is the ability to notify emergency contacts. Three presses on the home button and the wearers location will be sent to predetermined people who will then be able to track whereabouts in real time. Learn more about the Samsung Gear S3.

Apple Watch 4

The Apple Watch 4 is a momentous achievement for wearable devices for seniors. For starters, the ECG app can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram, providing critical data for doctors, caregivers and wearers alike. The resulting ECG waveform is automatically stored in the Health app on the iPhone, so wearers can easily share the results with caregivers and health providers to have a better-informed conversation about their health. The Apple Watch 4 also features advanced fall detection. If the watch detects a fall and the wearer is immobile, it will automatically call emergency services and send a message to emergency contacts. Learn more about the Apple Watch 4.

Reemo Health Smartwatch

“Enjoy your independence as much as possible, for as long as possible.” That’s the mission behind the Reemo Health Smartwatch. Specifically designed for senior living, the Reemo Health Smartwatch makes it easy to manage health data and even share information with family members, caregivers and other healthcare providers. The Reemo Health Smartwatch also features live 24/7 concierge help, giving wearers access to a live operator who can provide product support or emergency services. Learn more about the Reemo Health Smartwatch.  

Freedom Guardian

The Freedom Guardian wearable medical alert watch incorporates features that provide day-to-day support for older users, their loved ones and caregivers. Advanced location tracking means help can be sent to the wearer’s exact location, and automatic alerts help manage day-to-day tasks, so seniors don’t forget to take medication or miss a doctor’s appointment. The Freedom Guardian also features oversized icons and a large, high-res touchscreen for seniors with poor eyesight. Learn more about the Freedom Guardian.

MobileHelp Smart

The MobileHelp Smart is a discreet medical alert wearable designed with seniors in mind. This feature-rich smartwatch monitors activity, heart rate and diet goals for a healthier lifestyle, but also includes emergency monitoring ($24.95 per month). In the event of an emergency, wearers can connect with emergency operators with a single press of a button using the smartwatch’s built-in microphone and speaker. Learn more about the MobileHelp Smart.

More Gift Ideas for Seniors

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for an aging parent, grandparent or loved one, we’ve compiled a short list of great gifts for seniors. At Senior Lifestyle, we’ve learned that regardless of circumstances, seniors overwhelmingly agree that it’s the thought that counts. The gift of time is also welcomed and appreciated. Whether your senior loved one lives at home or in a senior community, just making time to say hello and spend time can bring as much joy as any gift you can think of.