The Importance of Dental Health for Seniors

Our oral health is more important than we might realize. Our mouths act as the entry point to our digestive and respiratory tracts. Along with our body’s natural defenses, proper oral care, like brushing our teeth and flossing, work to keep bacteria under control. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 35% of seniors in the U.S. do not undergo an annual dental visit.

As we age, our risk of developing oral health problems can increase, putting us at risk of developing dental-related illnesses and diseases. Many older adults rely on medication for various health concerns, which can harm their oral health. While taking care of our teeth might seem like a small issue, ignoring our dental health can impact our overall wellness in different ways.

Oral Health Concerns for Older Adults

As they advance in age, older adults are more susceptible to oral health problems that can negatively impact one’s quality of life. Here are a few of the most common oral health issues among older adults:

Tooth and root decay
According to the CDC,  1 in 4 older adults have untreated tooth decay. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue begins to recede from the tooth, causing toothaches, difficulties eating, chewing, and swallowing. Those with severe cases might also experience swelling and pus around the tooth.

Periodontal/Gum disease
This disease is caused by plaque build-up and can be made worse by tobacco use, improper bridges and dentures, poor diets, and food left in the teeth. Also, cancers, anemia, and diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is common in older adults and while adults living with it has decreased since the 1970’s thanks to better dental health, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004), approximately 17.2% of seniors over 65 have gum disease and 10.5% have it severally.

Tooth darkening and loss
As we age, our enamel layer weakens, allowing dentin, or the tissue underneath the enamel, to show through, causing the teeth to appear yellow. While darkened teeth can be caused by consuming stain-causing foods and beverages, it can also be a sign of a more serious issue.

Oral cancer
Oral and pharyngeal cancers are most common in older adults. Many people are diagnosed around 62 years old.

Dry mouth
Medications, cancer treatments, and other underlying diseases or conditions can lead to dry mouth. The reduction in saliva flow can dramatically increase the risk of cavities.

Impaired taste
Loss of taste is not uncommon in older adults, but poor dental health can contribute. Diseases, medications, and dentures can all increase the risk of decreased taste.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

The good news is that dental care is something that can be done easily from the comfort of your own home. In addition to getting an annual dental exam, you can also follow these simple steps to reduce the risk of infection, disease, and overall poor dental health.

Practice good hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth every day can help remove plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease. Consider using fluoride toothpaste, a soft-bristle toothbrush, and brush after breakfast and before going to sleep. If you have trouble flossing, there are alternatives such as a pick or handheld flossing brush. Be sure to take out dentures for at least 4 hours or overnight and clean them regularly.
Monitor changes in your oral health. While we’re used to monitoring changes in our skin, like texture or moles, we need to do the same in our mouths. If you notice a new sore spot, lump, or white patch in your mouth, you should consult your doctor or dentist.
See your dentist regularly. While dental needs vary from person to person, most dentists recommend one to two checkups and cleanings per year. You might consider consulting your dentist to see what your individual needs are to maintain proper oral health.
Lead a healthy lifestyle. Our diets and lifestyles can have an impact on our oral health. Having a healthy diet and limiting sugary foods and drinks can help prevent tooth decay. Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco can increase your risk of gum disease and mouth cancer.
Consult your doctor. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, make sure to consult your doctor. Dry mouth can make eating and talking difficult and increase your risk of tooth decay and infection.

What Happens During a Dental Exam

If it’s been a while since your last dental exam or you are preparing for a visit to a new dentist, you can expect your dentist to ask you the following questions about your dental history:

• When was your last dental appointment?
• Have you noticed any changes occurring in your mouth?
• Are you experiencing any tooth sensitivity?
• Do you have trouble chewing, tasting, or swallowing?
• Are you having any pain, discomfort, soreness, or bleeding?

After your dentist goes through your history, they will proceed with the examination by evaluating your skin for moles or discoloration, your bite, jaw, salivary glands and lymph nodes, interior cheeks, your tongue, and other inner areas.

Your dentist will also check your dentures to see if there are any cracks or worn out spaces. If you’re nervous about your exam, you can always call ahead of time and ask the dental staff what to expect upon your visit.

Paying for Dental Care

Traditional Medicare plans don’t cover routine dental care. Instead, organizations like AARP offer supplemental insurance plans for their members and cover dental cleanings and exams. Discount dental plans are also a good option for those looking for coverage. You can search for a reduced dental plan through the National Association of Dental Plans. Once you select a dentist within the network, you can expect to pay between 10 to 60% less than the typical fee.

Dental Care at Maplewood Senior Living

Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living provide robust healthcare services, including dental care for residents.

Brian Geyser, APRN-BC, MSN, VP Clinical Innovation & Population Health at Maplewood Senior Living told us, “We know good oral health is critical for older adults. Taking good care of the mouth and teeth not only reduces the possibility of gum disease, dry mouth, oral cancer, and infection, but it can help prevent things like pneumonia, heart disease, hypertension, and other non-oral conditions. That’s why we offer on-site dental services in all of our Maplewood communities.”

If you’re interested in hearing more about our offerings, or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Winter Exercises for Seniors

Exercise is important at every age but especially for older adults. As we age, our muscle mass decreases, which can make completing daily tasks more difficult. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, lower blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Exercise can also help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. However, as temperatures drop during the winter months, it can be tempting to abandon our regular exercise habits. Research has shown that just 30 minutes of exercise each day can ward off the health risks related to inactivity.

Risks of Physical Inactivity in Older Adults

It’s not uncommon for older adults to be less active than they were in their younger years. By age 75, nearly one in three men and one in two women engage in little to no physical activity. Physical inactivity can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, obesity, a weakened immune system, poor blood circulation, increased inflammation, and loss of muscle mass. Those who are physically inactive are also at greater risk of losing their independence sooner than those who maintain a physically active lifestyle. While exercising all year long is imperative for overall health, it is important to keep up with wintertime exercises as well.

Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

It’s tempting to call it quits on your exercise routine when it’s cold outside. Working to maintain your fitness even during the winter months will help you live a long and active life. Here are some of the benefits that come with wintertime exercise:

Strengthen your heart
Each time you exercise, you help strengthen your heart and improve cardiovascular endurance. Maintaining a consistent exercise schedule can make your heart muscle strong and help you cope with various life stressors. Exercising in cold weather can make the heart work harder to distribute blood throughout the body. These can enhance cardiovascular health for those who exercise regularly. Be sure to consult your doctor before participating in new exercises, especially in cold weather.

Stay hydrated
In general, older adults are more at risk of dehydration, but this risk can increase during the winter months. We’re more likely to feel less thirsty during the winter, but our bodies still need to be hydrated. Exercise can cause us to sweat and act as a reminder to drink water and consume more hydrating foods.

Beat the winter blues
As the weather changes and our exposure to sunlight decreases, it’s not uncommon to feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder. However, research has shown that exercise can improve your mood by releasing serotonin and dopamine, which act as natural mood boosters.

Stay energized
Winter weather can make you feel lethargic and lacking energy. Moving the body is a great way to revive you and make you feel more alert.

Improve the quality of sleep
Research has shown that people who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality at night. Experts suggest you choose an exercise such as yoga or walking to elevate your heart rate. These also encourage the biological processes in the brain and body that contribute to high-quality sleep.

Boost your immune system
Our immune systems work to help fight off illnesses like the common cold and flu. A consistent exercise regime can strengthen our immune system. Exercise helps to ward off illness and keep us healthy all winter long.

Reduce the effects of cabin fever
Being confined to home during the winter months can make us feel anxious, restless, and disconnected from others. Don’t be afraid to step outside or go for a walk during the winter. Be sure to dress appropriately and avoid going outdoors if there is ice or snow in the walkways.

Enjoy holiday treats
The holiday season is notorious for sugary and high-fat treats such as pies, cookies, casseroles, and other baked goods. While exercise is more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle than burning calories, it is wise to keep a healthy balance while indulging in treats and comfort foods.

Exercises to do Indoors for Seniors

Staying active each day can vastly improve our health. Research has shown that adults who exercised decreased their risk of injury and disability by 25%. The winter weather can present obstacles to exercising, but it shouldn’t stop you from being active.

Cheryl Kearney, Lifestyle Director at Maplewood at Mayflower Place told us, “Our motto here at Mayflower Place is “Senior Fitness for Healthier Living.” Our fitness instructors are awesome! Residents can go to the gym, swim in the pool, have 1-1 room visits, or attend balance classes. It is our priority to make everyone steadier on their feet. They can join a stretching class, yoga, walking groups plus we offer group exercises 3x a day 4 days a week at varied times to accommodate their busy schedules. One of the benefits of exercise is a decreased risk of falls. Exercise improves not only improves mental health as well as emotional well- being but it is also great for social engagement.”

Here are a few easy exercises you can do indoors or from the comfort of your own home.

• Indoor walking. Walking outside during inclement winter weather can be dangerous. Instead, try walking inside a public space like a shopping mall or museum.

• Stretching. Stretching is the most important way to prepare for exercise, but it’s also beneficial by itself. Stretching can decrease the risk of injury and helps increase flexibility and strength.

• Swimming. Swimming in an indoor pool is low impact and is especially beneficial for those with joint pain or osteoporosis. Research has shown that swimming can improve muscle and heart strength and reduce stress.

• Fitness apps and videos. Streaming a workout from your laptop or another smart device is just a click away. Apps like Yoga Pocket and Tai Chi for Seniors offer classes for free or at a low cost. They are easy to do in the comfort of your own home. YouTube also offers a wide variety of free exercise classes, especially for seniors.

• Wii games. The Nintendo Wii makes fitness fun with its virtual games that get you moving into a full-body workout. You can play by yourself or with a friend!

• Strength exercises. Strength Training is an option for active adults who want to exercise and strengthen their muscles. These strength exercises use your body weight to improve muscular strength and mobility. You can find a complete list of strength training exercises specifically for older adults here.

Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that practices meditation in motion. These low-impact, slow-paced movements are perfect for seniors who want to improve their balance, strength, and increase range of motion. Tai Chi is known to help improve self-confidence, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Here are a few poses for beginners:

Touch the Sky

• Start by sitting comfortably in a chair
• Place your arms in your lap, palms turned upward, fingers pointing towards one another
• As you inhale, raise hands to your chest, turn palms outward and lift hands above your head
• On an exhale, relax your arms and lower them to your sides
• Return your hands to the starting position
• Repeat ten times

Hand Exercise

• Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width distance apart
• Raise arms out in front of you
• Flex your hands and feel the stretch, rotate your wrists to the left and then to the right

Stay Moving at Maplewood Senior Living

Health is our number one priority at Maplewood Senior Living. We have many fitness and exercise programs in each of our communities that promote wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle for all residents. To talk more or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is Sundowning?

Worldwide, nearly 50 million people are living with dementia with 10 million new cases being diagnosed each year. While each individual can experience various symptoms and side effects, sundowning is common in the later stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a journal published by the US National Library of Medicine, as many as 20% of dementia patients experience sundowning. Sundowning, also known as “late-day confusion” can cause symptoms such as confusion and agitation that worsen later in the day.

As the evening and nighttime approaches, sundowning can often trigger sudden changes in cognition and emotions. Behavior changes can range in each person but often include suspicion, hallucinations, confusion, and anger.

Sundowning Symptoms

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can become disoriented and confused quite easily, especially during the later stages of the disease. With this, many patients become more vulnerable to sundowning and the symptoms that come with it. Many will experience confusion, anxiety, and agitation beginning later in the day. Sundowning can also interrupt sleep schedules, which can lead to additional behavioral problems.

While researchers don’t know exactly what causes sundowning, some factors can make it worse. These factors can include:

• Mental and physical exhaustion and fatigue
• Reduced lighting and increased shadows
• Reactions to nonverbal cues from caregivers who may be feeling frustrated and exhausted themselves
• Consumption of caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
• Disruption in circadian rhythms
• Thirst and hunger
• Stress and depression

How to Cope with Sundowning Symptoms

Many people experiencing sundowning might cope with what they’re feeling by pacing, rocking, screaming, or even becoming violent. For some, the behaviors might leave quickly, but for others, these behaviors can last for hours and severely interrupt their sleep schedules. Seeing your loved one suffer or caring for someone who experiences sundowning can be awful and leave you feeling hopeless. However, there are many different ways you can work to help manage these symptoms and lessen their severity.

Minimize Triggers
When your loved one has a sundowning episode, record what happened before, during, and after. Look for patterns in their behavior and try to identify some of their triggers. For some, triggers might look like fatigue, cross-talk during meal times, loud noises from the television, or a change in caregiver.

Maintain Routines
If your loved one isn’t sleeping well at night, make sure to minimize napping during the day. Keep your evenings quiet and peaceful by avoiding stressful tasks and prioritize activities during the daytime. Regular daily schedules can help your loved one feel safe and secure, so try and establish a routine that is easy to follow each day.

Simplify Surroundings
Too much clutter or stimulation can cause anxiety and stress, both of which have been linked to sundowning. Experts suggest creating a calm space wherever your loved one sleeps. This includes setting the temperature between 68-70 degrees, using light-blocking curtains, and installing night-lights for safety.

Increase Light Exposure
Sundowning often occurs during the evening and can be brought on by the transition of daylight into the evening darkness. Keep your house well lit, especially during the evening, and make sure your loved one is exposed to direct sunlight as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, use bright lights or a lightbox in their room.

Play Calming Music
Music has shown to have healing properties for those suffering from memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Music can provoke memories and act as a mood booster. You might consider playing calming music throughout the day, but be sure to monitor the volume, as loud noises can be confusing and cause agitation.

Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can be great tools to use for calming and soothing your loved one. Scents like lavender and chamomile can be diluted and used as aromatherapy during the evening to promote feelings of calmness and safety. If your loved one needs help with waking up or completing activities, you might consider using grapefruit, lemon, or orange scents. Essential oils are wonderful tools when used properly, but make sure to do your research before using them and never apply them directly to the skin.

Connect Through Touch
Physical touch can be a great way to ease anxiety and transition into the evening. You might consider giving your loved one a hand or foot massage or gently massaging their head. Even a simple hug can help break the cycle of anxiety and stress.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat anxiety, stress, and depression and is especially helpful for those suffering from dementia. You might consider asking your doctor to refer you to an acupuncturist who specializes in dementia or is familiar with the disease.

Adjust Eating Patterns
Large meals before bedtime can cause agitation and disrupt sleep patterns. You might consider serving a light meal for dinner and limiting heavy foods and caffeine for lunchtime. This can help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of sundowning.

Coping Strategies for Sundowning

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia comes with many challenges, especially when dealing with sundowning. Here are a few ways you can cope with sundowning while also making sure to care for yourself.

• Talk to a doctor. If you need additional assistance, consider making an appointment with your loved one’s healthcare provider. Many times, they can offer support and medication when necessary.
• Recognize your own needs. Caregiving is a rewarding and exhausting job. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, your loved one might be able to recognize these emotions and begin to feel the same way. Try to manage your stress and anxiety by taking time for yourself.
• Share your experience with others. You are not alone! The Alzheimer’s Association has an online support community where caregivers share their own experiences and support those in the same position. These groups allow others to share strategies and inspire others.

Sundowning Support at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be extremely challenging. However, our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support groups and activities for those who have been diagnosed and their caregivers.

Krystal Martin, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Chardon suggests “A short nap in the early afternoon (20-30 minutes) can help to re-energize the person and prevent the tired, “want-to-go” feelings. Knowing about the person can help the caregiver—whether a family member, professional caregiver or a caregiver in the assisted living setting—can assist to help the person navigate through this challenge.

Helping the person maintain familiar routines can help minimize feelings of restlessness and anxiety and ultimately agitation. As the day gets later, allow activities to wind down, planning more relaxing and less involved activities. Playing familiar music that invites positive, warm feelings can help to calm the person. Finally, if the person is still feeling anxious or restless, validate their emotions, empathize with how they might be feeling and join them in their reality rather than attempting to orient to the here-and-now.”

If you would like to learn more about our Memory Care offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Many Health Benefits of Chocolate

The way we choose to fuel our bodies is important no matter our age. Food gives us energy, keeps our bodies functioning, and helps control our weight. When fueled properly, our diet can also help prevent some diseases and protect our brain health. As we age, our dietary needs change and the food we consume becomes more important. You may think you have to cut out or restrict the foods you enjoy the most that aren’t as nutrient-dense as others. However, that’s not the case with chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients, which makes this treat a superfood. While this may come as a surprise, you might find chocolate’s unique history even more intriguing.

The History of Chocolate

Most of us know chocolate as a dessert bar, however, 90 % of chocolate’s history comes in the form of a beverage. The word “chocolate” can be traced back to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which refers to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. It’s estimated that chocolate has been around for over 2,000 years. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had magical properties and was often used in rituals during birth, death, and marriage. During the 17th century, Europeans began using chocolate in the form of a beverage, which was believed to have healing properties and often used for medicinal purposes. By 1828, a Dutch chemist discovered powdered chocolate by removing some of the natural fat in cacao. This eventually led to the creation of solid chocolate. In 1868, Cadbury was the leading manufacturer of boxed chocolate, followed shortly by Nestle. Today, chocolate can be found in most stores and on every dessert menu. While most of us recognize chocolate for its delicious taste, many are unaware of its health benefits

Is Chocolate Healthy For You?

Made from the seed of the cacao tree, dark chocolate is filled with nutrients that can lower the risk of heart disease and also acts as one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. Dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao or higher has more antioxidants than even green tea and red wine and can also help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Real data suggests that eating just one ounce of dark chocolate a day can lead to a wide variety of health benefits:

Prevents heart disease

One of the most impactful benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. A study published by Clinical Nutrition found that “people who ate dark chocolate more than five times a week reduced their risk of heart disease by nearly 57%.” Flavonoids present in dark chocolate help reduce nitric oxide, causing our blood vessels to relax and ultimately lower our blood pressure.

Improves brain function

Eating dark chocolate may help improve brain function and decrease the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Findings from a study conducted by researchers at the Autonomous University of Baja California suggest that the flavanols in dark chocolate can help enhance the brain’s neuroplasticity, which ultimately helps improve brain function and cognitive skills.

Reduces the risk of diabetes

Those who have diabetes are traditionally insulin resistant and suffer from high blood sugar. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can help improve our ability to process glucose, and over time can reduce the risk of diabetes. A study published in January 2017 found that those who did not consume chocolate had twice the risk of developing diabetes within five years when compared to those who consumed dark chocolate at least once per week.

Aids in weight loss

Quality dark chocolate with a high cacao content is filled with soluble fiber, minerals, and is actually very nutritious. Dark chocolate is high in manganese, copper, magnesium, iron and low in polyunsaturated fat. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate after a meal, especially if you crave sweets, can trigger hormones that communicate a feeling of fullness to your brain. This can stop sugar cravings, help with weight loss, and decrease your risk of overeating after meals.

Can Help Prevent cancer

Antioxidants help protect our cells from free radicals which can cause damage to our bodies over time. When our bodies have too many free radicals attacking our cells, we’re more at risk of developing diseases and even cancers. Dark chocolate, which is packed with antioxidants, also contains cancer-fighting properties and is thought to decrease our risk of developing certain cancers.

3 Ways to Serve Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate can taste very bitter, especially if you prefer eating milk chocolate but want the same health benefits. The good news is it doesn’t take much to make dark chocolate taste delicious. As you look for ways to add dark chocolate into your diet, here are a few delicious ways to serve it:

• Melt. By placing dark chocolate in the microwave for a short time or on the stovetop stirring consistently, it becomes a sauce that is delicious over oatmeal, ice cream, fruit, or even graham crackers.
• Shave it. To eliminate some bitterness, try shaving small curls of dark chocolate to pair with dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, or even on top of frozen yogurt.
• Blend it. Using cacao powder as your base and add a frozen banana to make dairy-free ice-cream. You can also add cacao powder to your smoothies to give a chocolate flavor.

We asked Alan Livingston, Culinary Director at Maplewood at Cuyahoga Falls how he feels about chocolate, clearly, he loves it, “In the dessert world, chocolate is the epitome of comfort. Melted chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, hot chocolate, chocolate cream pie, chocolate truffles, or just a chocolate bar. How do they make you feel? For me, the experience is calming and joyful, brings back good memories, and helps me live in the moment.

From rich, dark chocolate to white chocolate (technically not really chocolate, but who cares!), the possibilities of what you can create are endless. It’s hard to believe that chocolate as we know it has only been around since the early 1500s when it was first bought back to Spain.”
He added, “For me as a chef, the best moments are when I can create something with chocolate that puts a smile on someone’s face or helps them to just take a second in an otherwise hectic day and to appreciate the simple things.” Chef Livingston gave us this simple recipe that can be used for gift-giving any time of year but especially at the holidays.

Dark and Milk Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
Two 11oz bags of Ghirardelli chocolate chips, one dark, and one milk chocolate
2 cups of crushed peppermint

Equipment:
½ sheet tray (standard size) lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking matt
Offset spatula
A whisk or spoon for stirring
Small heatproof bowl, glass or metal and a pot with water

Directions:
Place 1 ½ bags of the chocolate (1 bag milk and half the dark) in a bowl over a pot with simmering water and melt the chocolate.
You do not want the bowl touching the water, and you want the water simmering, not boiling. It does not take a lot of heat to melt chocolate, and you don’t want to overheat it. Chocolate is temperature-sensitive. (Remember, it can melt in your hand)
After the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and add remaining dark chocolate, whisk or stir together until all the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. It should look glossy. This is a quick method of tempering chocolate. (See note below)
Spread the chocolate onto the parchment using the offset spatula, then sprinkle the peppermint on top and press gently into chocolate.
Let sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set up, remove, and break into pieces.
Variations:
Dried fruit of any sort. Apricots, cranberries, strawberries, etc.
Almonds or walnuts
*Tempering controls the crystals so that only consistently small crystals are produced, resulting in much better-quality chocolate, and gives you that snap.

Eating Smart at Maplewood Senior Living

We know how important diet is when it comes to living a long and healthy life. Our food service teams at each Maplewood Senior Living community prioritize fresh, local, and healthy ingredients in each meal they prepare—including dessert! To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

When is The Right Time for Assisted Living?

As we age our health care needs are likely to change, which can make navigating health-related decisions difficult. While many older adults envision spending their retirement years living independently, it is likely that many seniors will require additional support later on in life. At some point, many adults may have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living community. This process can become more complicated when failing health and financial concerns are factored in.

What is Assisted Living for Seniors?

Senior assisted living facilities are designed for older adults who need additional support with their day-to-day lives. These communities offer support with daily tasks such as eating, taking medication, bathing, housekeeping, preparing meals, and monitoring medicine. For added peace of mind, medical care is also accessible around the clock in the event of an emergency. As older adults begin to consider transitioning into an assisted living community, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.

Declining health conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities help seniors manage these conditions, which allow residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Difficulty with managing finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This can make paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills, or filing taxes properly.

Inability to care for oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves, or complete basic daily tasks, it may be time to consider assisted living. A large number of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding that can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and live in a clean environment.

Lack of socializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language, or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality, and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas, and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Questions to Consider

Making the move into an assisted living community can be a hard decision for everyone involved and finding the right time to move can be even more challenging. When a loved one has suffered from serious health concerns, such as a broken hip, the need for an assisted living community might become more obvious. However, for older adults who still manage to take care of themselves, but are slowly losing their independence, the transition can become unclear. If you’re not sure if now is the time for assisted living, Consumer Affairs has gathered a series of questions to help you in your decision-making process, which is summarized below:

Health

Has your loved one fallen recently?
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among older adults. If your loved one has recently fallen or is consistently falling, this may be a sign that you should consider a move to an assisted living community.

Is your loved one taking their medications?
If you notice your loved one is struggling to keep up with their medications, try to find out the cause. Are they forgetting? Is picking it up at the pharmacy difficult for them? If the answer is yes, assisted living can help. On-site staff can ensure that each resident has access to and takes their medications on time.

Does your loved one suffer from a chronic condition?
If your senior has been diagnosed with a worsening chronic condition, assisted living communities can help preserve their quality of life. For those with chronic conditions, basic daily tasks can become increasingly difficult. When you have staff support, energy can be reserved for exploring hobbies and socializing with others.

Self-Care

Is your loved one having trouble taking care of themselves?
Cooking, housekeeping, laundry, and other basic daily tasks can become more difficult as we age. Assisted living communities offer these services so seniors can avoid related injuries and instead spend time doing what they love.

Are they eating properly?
Have you noticed significant weight loss or weight gain within the last few months? Both rapid weight loss and weight gain can be side-effects of health problems or difficulty in preparing and eating food. If you’re not sure what the cause might be, you can always consult their doctor and ask if assisted living might help relieve the problem.

Mental-health and dementia

Do they wander from home and get lost?
This could be a sign of a cognitive issue such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you notice your loved one wandering or getting lost in familiar places, talk to your loved one and their healthcare provider. Assisted living communities with memory care units are designed to support those with cognitive impairments and memory disorders.

Are they isolated?
Isolation is a public health concern, especially for older adults. Long-term isolation can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Your loved one might be feeling isolated if they rarely leave their home, live alone or have stopped participating in social activities. Initiating a conversation about isolation and loneliness with your loved one might help you make an informed decision when it comes to assisted living.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living

Watching your loved one age is hard. Recognizing that they’re beginning to need more care can be painful. Our assisted living communities at Maplewood Senior living are here to help and give you peace of mind. To learn more about our communities or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

We also have a complimentary Guide – Is It Time for Assisted Living? Please download it today. Please Click HERE to do so.

Holiday Safety Guide for Seniors and those with Alzheimer’s

As we haul out our decorations and special furnishings to welcome in the holiday season, it’s easy to overlook safety measures that protect our families and our homes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 30% of all home fires and 38% of fire-related deaths occur between December and February. Also, the holiday season is associated with an increase in fall-related injuries both in and outside the home. Whether you’re caring for a loved one or are preparing to visit an aging parent, there are simple precautions you can take to decrease the risk of injury this holiday season.

Safety Tips for the Home

Between decorations and visitors, homes can become danger zones during the holidays. Since many people will be staying at home this holiday season, it’s important to ensure the home is the safest place you can be, especially for older adults. Here are a few tips to consider as you take precautionary measures to ensure safety:

Clear the clutter
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among seniors. Tripping and fall threats can be great concerns for older adults during the holidays. Make sure to keep floors and hallways clear, tightly secure extension cords to walls, and add non-slip pads underneath rugs. You might also consider using decorations that are secured to walls and do not interfere with walkways.

Safe lighting
We all love holiday lights, but it’s important to ensure all areas of the home are properly lit. Dim lighting can make it difficult to identify new home furnishings you might not be used to seeing. Always use a nightlight in hallways and bedrooms, especially where your loved one will be sleeping.

At home dementia tips
Those with dementia have added safety challenges during the holidays. Here are a few ways to make sure your home is especially adapted for their needs according to AARP:
• Mark edges of steps with neon, glow-in-the-dark tape.
• Repair any cracked pavement and uneven bricks, especially if you’re expecting snow or inclement weather.
• Install safety and grab bars, especially in bathrooms and in hallways.
• Unplug all kitchen appliances like your microwave or toaster oven.

Safety Tips for Decorating

Decorations make the holidays feel special and festive. However, they can also present a lot of safety concerns, especially for those who are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Stick to these rules when you plan out your decorations:

Avoid twinkling lights
Lights that flash or twinkle are commonplace when it comes to Christmas and holiday decorations. However, these lights can often confuse those with dementia or memory disorders and can be disorienting for older adults in general. Instead, use lights that have a consistent glow.

Use flameless candles
Candles can add a beautiful ambiance to a home during the holidays, but the risk of starting a house fire increases greatly with real candles. Instead, you might consider using flameless candles to add a holiday glow to your home.

Identify choking hazards
Food plays a large role in celebrating the holidays. Be aware of choking hazards such as hard candies and other foods that are often used as décor in gingerbread houses and to decorate Christmas trees. If you’re celebrating with someone living with Alzheimer’s it’s important to avoid these foods or to closely monitor the situation.

Safety Tips for Gift Giving

Exchanging gifts plays a big part in holiday celebrations. Gift-giving also allows people to show their loved ones they’re thinking about them, especially when they’re unable to celebrate in person. While gifts are special and exciting, they can also pose safety concerns for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If you’re preparing to send a gift to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or need to provide gift-giving guidelines to family members, stick to these easy safety tips provided by the Alzheimer’s Association:

Provide suggestions
You might consider providing gift suggestions for your family if they’re interested in purchasing a gift for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Comfortable clothing, an identification bracelet, photo albums, and medical alert pendants are all great options.

Avoid dangerous items
You may need to remind your family to avoid giving dangerous tools, utensils, sharp objects, challenging games, or electronic devices as gifts. These could lead to injuries or moments of frustration and confusion for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Be practical
Everyday items can be helpful for caregivers as well. Gift cards, laundry, maintenance, and housekeeping services make great gifts for people with Alzheimer’s and their support team.

Protecting Your Loved One during the Holidays

If your loved one has been newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or you’re preparing to see them over the holidays, these tips, crafted by AARP, can help you avoid some general safety concerns that come with the holiday season.

Monitor skills and abilities. If it’s been a while since you’ve last seen your loved one, it’s important to reassess their abilities when it comes to balance, coordination, strength, and motor skills. If you notice a change inability, you might consider adding safety features, such as slip resistance rugs or grab bars, where you see fit.
Evaluate safe areas and danger zones. Those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia can often forget what might hurt them and how to use everyday appliances. Consider storing dangerous substances like bleach, cleaning products, sharp knives, and power tools in an area that’s hard to access, like a locked cabinet or shed.
Utilize technology. Wandering devices can be especially helpful during the holiday season. Seat cushions, floor mats, and bed pads that are designed to alert you when your loved one gets up or leaves the room can help reduce the risk of wandering. You might also consider purchasing motion-sensor alarms for the outdoors.
Patrol the home. Make sure to continually assess your home for items that can be tempting and dangerous. In the kitchen, be sure to monitor expired, raw, and moldy food as those with dementia might be tempted to eat those items. Foods that are choking hazards like cherries and coffee beans should also be stored in a safe place. Be sure to keep potentially harmful items out of sight such as firearms and car keys.

Celebrating Safely at Maplewood Senior Living

At our Maplewood Senior Living communities, the safety of our residents will continue to be prioritized as we navigate through this holiday season. If you would like to learn more about the safety measures we’ve put into place or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Is a Condo or Town Home Really the Right Move? Why Not Consider a CCRC?

As we age, we’re faced with some major life choices, notably, how to adjust our living situation to our evolving lifestyle. Many people near retirement begin to contemplate the various choices. For most, the decision is obvious – sell the family home and move somewhere that provides more freedom and requires less maintenance. This usually means moving to a condo or townhome. While this sounds ideal, it usually just trades one set of homeowner headaches for another.

What most people don’t foresee is that a move to a condo or townhome is usually a temporary one. After a few years, many people realize they’re not in a position to thrive as they age.

What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Instead of making another temporary move in their later years, many seniors choose to begin their retirement by investing in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). CCRCs are the only option of senior care that provides all levels of senior living and addresses the physical limitations of aging. While many older adults purchase a townhome or condo with the idea of staying independent, CCRCs have the resources that allow seniors to stay independent longer.

The goal of a CCRC is to offer a full continuum of care for residents so they can age in place while receiving extra care when they need it. CCRCs provide independent living, assisted living, and skilled care nursing at a single residential campus to eliminate disruptive moves that can lead to additional health concerns. In addition to providing peace of mind for you and your family, CCRCs deliver many benefits that condos and townhomes cannot offer.

Financial Benefits: Breaking Down the Cost of a CCRC

The cost of buying or renting a unit in a Continuing Care Retirement Community can seem expensive when compared to other living accommodation options. However, for most adults, CCRCs allow them to live without worry for the future. While the entrance fee and rental cost of CCRCs are high, they include a variety of services and amenities.

Entry Fees– Most CCRCs require up-front entry fees. However, this is not as daunting as it sounds. These entry fees are often largely refundable depending on how long the resident lives in the community. Many of Maplewood at Mayflower Place entry fees, for example, come with a 60% refundable option, where the resident receives 60% of their initial entry fee back whenever the contract ends. Maplewood at Mayflower Place also offers additional contract options. When you begin looking into different communities, ask about these up-front costs and find out whether or not they’re refundable.

Monthly fees– Most CCRCs do not take a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to monthly rental fees. Many facilities offer a variety of floor plans and finance options to make their facility more accessible to prospective residents. While monthly fees can be higher than paying rent on a condo or senior apartment, they also include many amenities that will become more useful as you age, such as meal delivery, housekeeping services, help with medicine and laundry.

Healthcare services– Many facilities include healthcare services in their monthly fees. Because CCRCs offer the entire spectrum of care, they will have high-quality nursing and medical staff on their campus at all times. In the case of an emergency, a resident will have quick and easy access to the care they require.

Lifestyle– One of the most important elements of living a long and healthy life is to stay physically and mentally active. As a part of the monthly fee, CCRCs can offer these amenities in a supportive environment where you can engage with other residents and participating in the activities you enjoy as you age.

Food service and meal plans– As we continue to age, adequate nutrition becomes crucial to our health and wellbeing. Most facilities offer a dining option, which can help you cut back on additional lifestyle expenses and the stress of having to prepare your own meals.

Lifestyle Benefits of a Continuing Care Retirement Community

In addition to providing healthcare services and a built-in community, CCRCs offer residents a stress-free lifestyle in many ways. Upon move-in, you will immediately begin to feel the benefits.

Independence: Having an apartment within a Continuing Care Retirement Community gives you autonomy and your personal space, while also providing a sense of comfort and security.

Programming: Most communities offer busy calendars to keep residents engaged. From book clubs, speakers, and movies to quiz games, happy hours, and crafting classes, there are a variety of activities that will keep all personality types engaged. Most communities have a specialized staff member responsible for planning monthly activities and outings.

Exercise: Communities offer a supportive range of exercises based on ability, interest, and environment. Maintaining strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health becomes extremely important as we age and can help us decrease our risk of injury and other health concerns. Program directors can help you find an exercise that fits your needs and keeps you motivated.

Dining: It’s a treat to take a break from cooking every night, especially when you’re cooking just for one or two people. CCRCs usually offer a dining room with a meal waiting for you up to three times a day, allowing you to enjoy your meal and relax without worrying about doing the dishes afterward.

Community: Your apartment is your home but step outside and you will have access to companionship, friendship, and interaction. It’s uncommon to become socially isolated because the staff and other residents will be around to keep you engaged.

Extra free time: Maintaining a home takes up a lot of time! The time spent mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, or cleaning your gutters can now be spent exploring new hobbies and creating new friendships.

Peace of mind: When living within a CCRC, all the care you need is right in your neighborhood. A team of experts is standing by to help navigate the next stages as your needs change. Communities also offer specialized support groups for caregivers and spouses. You will never have to worry about your future when you live at a CCRC.

Experience Living in a CCRC at Maplewood at Mayflower Place

America is getting older. Did you know that nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day? While it might feel like it’s too soon to move into a CCRC, the truth is the sooner you make the move, the better you will be in the long run. Moving into a CCRC offers peace of mind and puts you in the driver’s seat of your successful aging.

There’s no worrying about what will happen when you need more care, if something happens to your spouse, or putting a future burden on your children and family. If you would like more information, please contact Maplewood at Mayflower Place.

Download our complimentary guide Is a Condo or Town Home Really the Right Move? Why Not Consider a CCRC?  here

The Many Benefits of Cranberries

It’s cranberry season on the cape! During the fall months, cranberries are harvested all along the South Shore, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. While many of us use cranberries in baking and cooking, especially during the fall and winter months, most people are unaware of their many health benefits. More surprising than their many health benefits is the long history of cranberries starting tens of thousands of years ago.

The History of Cranberries

The beginning of cranberries began when receding glaciers formed cavities in the land that filled with sand, clay, and debris, ultimately creating cranberry bogs that spread across Massachusetts. Wild cranberries have been around for nearly 12,000 years, first cultivated by Native Americans. Traditionally, Native Americans used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney diseases and for nutritional purposes. As Europeans began to explore and settle in New England in the 16th and 17th centuries, cranberries were used to treat poor appetite, blood disorders, and scurvy. Later on, in the 1800s, cranberries began to be cultivated widely and the number of growers increased dramatically throughout the 19th century. By 1927, the cranberry harvest became so vital to Massachusetts’ economy that children were excused from school to help with the work. Today, the industry continues to grow. Cranberry growers harvest nearly 40,000 acres of cranberries each year.

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

While the current uses of cranberries have differed from their early history, they are still used for their many health benefits. Interestingly, research has shown that cranberries can lower the risk of urinary tract infections, prevent certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and decrease blood pressure. Here are a few ways this superfood can help improve our physical health:

Prevent and treat UTIs

Cranberries have long been used to treat Urinary Tract Infections and are still prescribed to treat them today. Research has shown that concentrated cranberries have high levels of antioxidants proanthocyanins, which can help bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls.

Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

According to a 2019 study, cranberries have shown to help manage the risk factors of cardiovascular disease including blood pressure, body mass index, and improve levels of healthy cholesterol. The polyphenols present in cranberries can also help prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure.

Prevent tooth decay

You might be surprised to learn that cranberries can improve our oral health. Proanthocyanins present in cranberries can work to prevent gum disease and the build-up of bacteria that bind to teeth.

Reduce the risk of cancer

Research has shown that cranberries can help slow the progression of tumors and help fight off prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. Additionally, the compounds in cranberries can help trigger the death of cancer cells, slow the growth of these cells, and reduce inflammation. Researchers are still studying the relationship between cranberries and cancer.

Help with weight loss

Obesity can lead to many different health issues, especially for older adults. In fact, research has shown that excess weight is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and other medical conditions. Adding cranberries to your diet can help improve the function of the digestive system and metabolism, all of which contribute to weight loss.

Reduce inflammation

Increasing your consumption of cranberries can help strengthen your immune system and prevent inflammation. The enzyme present in cranberries helps keep viruses separated from your cells, ultimately reducing your risk of illness.

Adding Cranberries into your Diet

While cranberries are in season in September and October, they can be bought all year long. Frozen, dried, and canned cranberries keep for long periods and still have the same nutritional benefits as fresh cranberries. Before you purchase cranberries, be sure to check the nutrition label, as many cranberry products contain added sugars. Here are a few delicious ways you can add cranberries into your diet:

• Add dried cranberries into your trail mix or granola. Be sure to check for added sugars, especially when using dried cranberries.
• Toss in frozen cranberries into your smoothie or fruit bowl. If you find cranberries to taste too tart, try adding some honey for balance.
• Cranberries can add texture and flavor when used as a topping on a salad or even in a fish marinade.
• Make your own cranberry sauce! Canned cranberry sauce contains a lot of sugar, so making it yourself gives you control over what gets added.
• Love oatmeal? Sprinkle some dried cranberries on top or use frozen cranberries to make a sauce to pour over your oatmeal.

Cooking with Cranberries at Maplewood Senior Living

We source locally produced cranberries at many of our Maplewood Senior Living communities. Our chefs use their creativity to incorporate this superfood into as many meals as possible. If you’re looking for a new way to use cranberries, here’s one of our favorites from Chef Tootie at Mill Hill Residence:

Moist Cranberry Orange Bread (from allrecipes.com)

A delicious super-moist dessert bread loaded with mandarin orange and whole cranberries. They make great gifts.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10
Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white sugar (reserve 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

Directions:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a large loaf pan.

Step 2: Combine flour, 1 ¾ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add melted butter, stir until the mixture is crumbly. Reserve about ¼ cup cranberries and ¼ cup mandarin oranges; stir remaining fruit into the flour mixture.

Step 3: Beat eggs, milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, and orange extract in another bowl until smooth. Gradually stir egg mixture into flour mixture until batter is fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Scatter reserve cranberries and mandarin oranges on top of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Step 4: Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking until the center of the bread springs back when touched, 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: To reduce the amount of white sugar in this recipe, we recommend you substitute either 1 cup brown sugar, ¾ cup of honey, ¾ cup maple syrup, or 2/3 cup agave syrup or 1 teaspoon of stevia = for 1 cup of sugar.

We hope you enjoy the cranberry season as much as we do! If you’d like to hear more about our offerings or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

The Importance of Volunteering

On November 11th, we recognize Veteran’s Day, which allows us to honor and remember all U.S. veterans and victims of all wars. There are 18 million veterans in the United States, which is nearly 7.1% of the adult population. As we honor those who have made sacrifices for our country, we also have the opportunity to support those who have served on our behalf. Volunteering can be a wonderful way to give back to our community, while also working to enhance the lives of veterans in our country. While volunteering helps those in need, it also has many health benefits. So, as you look for ways to support our veterans, you might consider signing up to volunteer, which might help you take care of yourself and those around you.

Benefits of Volunteering

While most volunteers have the intention of helping others, many don’t know that volunteering can also improve your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering can offer many health benefits, especially for older adults.

Decrease the risk of depression

While depression is not a normal part of aging, older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing depression-related symptoms. Volunteering has been shown to lower rates of depression especially for those over the age of 65. Those who volunteer are more exposed to opportunities for social interaction and the opportunity to build relationships with those who have common interests.

Offers a sense of purpose

As many older adults retire from their jobs, it can be difficult to feel a sense of purpose in life. However, many older adults find purpose in volunteering. Whether it’s providing meals, transportation or just being present—volunteers do important work and make a difference in people’s lives.

Keeps you mentally and physically active

It’s extremely important to keep our brains and bodies active and alert as we age. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to do both. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, volunteers report better physical health when compared to non-volunteers.

Reduces stress levels

Working with those who have common interests can help build a support system and develop meaningful friendships, which can help us cope in times of stress and difficulty. Performing acts of service can also reduce stress.

Helps you live longer

It might be a surprise, but volunteering can help you live longer. According to the Longitudinal Study of Aging, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when age, gender, and physical health were considered factors.

Why Volunteer with Veterans?

Whether you’re planning to attend a memorial service, or are looking for ways to honor our veterans, there are many ways to show your support and gratitude. It might feel like you need special skills or training to work with veterans, however, there are many ways you can serve veterans with the skills you have already. While veterans have many different needs, here are some of the most common obstacles presented to veterans according to Student Training & Education in Public Service:

• Homelessness. Homelessness is rampant among the veteran community. In fact, According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 37,900 veterans were homeless in 2018, accounting for 9% of all homeless adults in the United States. Did you know that almost 38% of homeless veterans sleep in places that are deemed inhabitable?
• PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon for veterans who served in warzones. When left untreated, PTSD can cause chronic pain, autoimmune disease, and depression. Nearly 20% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder and nearly 20% of veterans who are diagnosed with depression or PTSD also suffer from traumatic brain injuries.
• Substance abuse. According to the National Center for PTSD, one in five veterans with PTSD have substance abuse disorders.
• Service-connected disabilities. Many veterans leave the service with injuries and illnesses connected to their time with the military. These veterans often need help with medical care, completing basic daily tasks, and providing for their loved ones.

Many organizations that serve the veteran community rely on the support of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering to support veterans in your area, here are some of the tasks you can expect to be doing during your time:

• Manage day-to-day tasks for veterans including help with preparing meals, job searching, medication management, finding housing, and managing finances. Some of these tasks require specialized skills, however, there is usually a job for everyone.

• Many veterans require support services, especially those who are sick or injured. However, many older veterans require socialization. Volunteers are often needed to spend time with older veterans to provide comfort during end-of-life care.

• Veterans who are transitioning from the military back to civilian life often need the assistance of a volunteer. Daily tasks like grocery shopping or filling a medication can seem challenging for those who are still adjusting.

Virtual Volunteering Opportunities

While in-person volunteer opportunities are limited due to the Coronavirus, it’s still possible to support veterans virtually. Depending on your interest and availability, there are so many opportunities to choose from. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Adopt a Military Family

Soldier’s Angels’ “Adopt a Family ” program provides holiday support to immediate family members of deployed or injured service members and veterans. Many military families live on a tight budget, which can make the holidays stressful. This opportunity allows volunteers to donate items to make the holidays a little more special. This is a time-sensitive opportunity ending on December 7th.

Angel Bakers Team

Volunteers with Angel Bakers send one-time care packages to deployed military soldiers.
While the team sends care packages to all deployed soldiers, they specifically focus on those who are enduring difficult times during their deployment.

Soldiers’ Angels Baby Brigade

This team provides virtual baby showers for expectant families of the military community. Volunteers will shop for baby items and even add their personal touch by sewing or crafting items such as baby blankets and booties.

Cards Plus Team

Do you like arts and crafts? This team dedicates its time to supporting service members, veterans, and their families with customized celebratory cards and notes. From birthdays and anniversaries to welcome home and get-well cards, this team lets service members know they are cared for and thought of often.

Honoring Our Veterans at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we are proud to provide care and support for many veterans throughout our communities. Today, we honor their sacrifice and dedication to our safety and freedom. Thank you to all of our veterans!

Boosting Memory Through Diet

As we age, it’s common to experience forgetfulness or delays in our memory. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, “almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss, or age-associated memory impairment, which is considered a part of the normal aging process.” With nearly 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, memory impairment is a national issue. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a memory disorder, or are experiencing normal age-related memory loss, it’s possible to improve your conditions by changes to your diet.

Research has shown that the brain and gut are linked, and the relationship between the two is influenced by what we eat and drink. Our digestive system helps provide nutrients to the body and brain and it also produces hormones that can impact our memory and cognitive function. Certain foods can affect our memory in both positive and negative ways.

Memory and Cognitive Function

Our bodies are exposed to free radicals that can come from both internal and external sources. Stress, poor diet, pollution and the environment can all contribute to the development of free radicals, which can impact our brain and cognitive function. To help protect our brains from free radicals and heal the damage that occurs as a result, our bodies need certain nutrients from our diet. Antioxidants help protect our cells from free radicals, while good fats allow electrical signaling between nerve cells, allowing our brains to communicate with our bodies. Vitamins such as B12, B6, and B9 have memory-boosting benefits and key nutrients necessary for brain function.

Poor Diet Means Poor Memory

Research has suggested that diets high in cholesterol and fat can speed up the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which are attributed to the same brain damage found in those with Alzheimer’s disease. Those with higher cholesterol can develop a gene that puts them at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, the build-up of these plaques in blood vessels can damage brain tissue through small blockages resulting in silent strokes or even more damaging strokes. Even if a stroke doesn’t occur, these build-ups can compromise thinking and memory. A study conducted by researchers at Brigham Women’s Hospital found that women who ate foods high in saturated fats, like red meat and butter, preformed worse on think and memory tests.

Foods That Boost Memory

While we can’t control or prevent memory loss entirely, we can use food to help reduce our risk of developing a memory disorder and try to consume foods that improve memory if we’ve already been diagnosed. Here are a few foods with memory-boosting benefits good to add to your diet.

Whole grains

One of the best power foods for the brain are whole grains. Whole-grain foods have a low GI which means they release energy slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert and awake all day long. Eating too few of these complex carbs can lead to brain fog. When you have the option, choose whole-grain items when available. Foods like cereal, bread, rice, pasta, barley, bulgur wheat and oatmeal all come in whole-wheat varieties and will help you stay sharp.

Oily Fish and Essential Fatty Acids

Certain varieties of fish have good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which help build up membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain. They can help improve the structure of brain cells and overall cognitive function. Low levels of DHA and EPA, which are types of omega 3 fatty acids, have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. In addition to improving brain function, researchers believe these nutrients can also help relieve depression.

To add more of these fatty acids into your diet, stick with salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines. If you don’t like fish or choose not to consume it, good plant-based alternatives include flaxseed, soy beans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Supplements are available, but make sure to consult your healthcare provider before adding them to your diet.

Blueberries

Blueberries and other deeply colored berries contain anthocyanins, which contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants act against inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Antioxidants have also been found to improve or delay short-term memory loss.

Turmeric

Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, can directly enter the brain and help repair cells. This ingredient has also been shown to clear up amyloid plaque build-up, boost serotonin and dopamine levels, and help grow new brain cells. This spice is found in many different curry powders and also comes in capsule form. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking supplements.

Broccoli

Broccoli is packed with antioxidants and vitamin K, which has been shown to improve memory function and reduce inflammation.

Eggs

We don’t often think of eggs as brain food; however, they contain several brain-boosting nutrients including B6, B12, folate and choline. Choline helps regulate mood and memory while B vitamins also work to relieve depression and its symptoms.

While eating a healthy diet and adding in more brain-boosting foods to your daily meal plan can help improve brain function, it’s also important to make other small changes. In addition to diet, you might also consider implementing these small steps to help improve overall brain function:
• Getting enough quality sleep
• Stay hydrated by drinking water and eating water-dense foods
• Exercise regularly
• Monitor and reduce stress through yoga, meditation, and journaling
• Reduce alcohol consumption

Improving Brain Function at Maplewood Senior Living

At our Maplewood Senior Living facilities, we know how important a healthy brain is for leading a healthy life. That’s why our head chefs make it a priority to use healthy, local, and brain-boosting foods in each meal they offer. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here