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

Noticing Memory Loss in Loved Ones

Watching our parents or loved one’s age can be difficult at times, especially if you begin to notice changes in their memory. It’s normal to misplace our keys or forget an occasional appointment, especially as we age.

However, while memory loss is not uncommon, long-term memory loss is not a normal part of aging. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. While it can be tempting to ignore the warning signs, it’s important to address them early on to ensure your loved one receives the care and support they need. The first step in addressing memory loss in a loved one is to make sure you’re familiar with the warning signs.

Warning Signs of Memory Loss

Memory problems can be a sign of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects memory, thinking, and can interfere with daily life. While memory loss can be attributed to several different diseases, warning signs are often similar. Here are a few of the most common:

Short-term memory changes. Those who are experiencing memory problems will often have trouble with their short-term memory. You might notice your loved one can tell a story from years ago but are unable to tell you what activities they did earlier in the week or even that same day.
Mood changes. Depression is a common warning sign, especially for those who are in the early stages of dementia. Personality changes, such as shifting from being shy to outgoing, are also common.
Difficulty with normal tasks. Those who are experiencing memory problems often have difficulty with completing daily tasks like managing a checkbook, paying bills on time, and following directions with multiple steps.
Repetition. One of the most recognized signs of memory loss is repetition. You might notice a loved one repeating daily tasks, asking questions repeatedly, or collecting items obsessively.

Common Misconceptions of Memory Loss

Recognizing memory problems in your loved one can provoke a lot of emotions. If you are noticing early signs of dementia, it’s natural to be tempted to ignore them. However, addressing memory loss early can help slow the progression of the disease. Here are a few common ways we ignore that a person we love might have memory problems.

Attributing warning signs to age

The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases with age. Beginning at age 65, the risk doubles every five years. While these statistics are serious, many loved ones will attribute these warning signs as a normal part of aging. Even if you are unsure, it’s a good idea to have your loved one visit the doctor, especially if they are exhibiting warning signs often.

Blaming a lack of sleep and stress

It’s tempting to blame the confusion and forgetfulness that can often accompany Alzheimer’s and memory loss with a lack of sleep. However, changes in sleep patterns are also linked to the disease.

Associating forgetfulness with age

The term “senior moment,” is often used when an older adult might forget something obvious, such as someone’s name or even missing an appointment. The term can normalize these moments of forgetfulness when in reality they merit medical attention.

Linking behavioral changes to sadness

Depression is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. However, depression alone can also cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s such as changes in attention span and concentration.

Taking the Next Steps

If you’re noticing any of the warning signs in a loved one, or find yourself denying what you see, it’s important to take the next steps. According to Psychology Today, here are a few things you can do to help your loved one get the care and support they need.

Write down what you notice. Each time your loved one exhibits a warning sign or changes in behavior, write it down in detail. Describe the situation, what is different in your loved one, and the date at which the situation occurred. Some examples include, “My mom was unable to follow instructions for a game we play weekly” or “My dad usually pays the bills without an issue, but last month he forgot to pay the electric bill.”
Pay attention to what else is happening. Are these events coinciding with other life changes such as a fall, injury, or change in medication? As you write down your observations, also note what else is happening in their lives. If there is a stressful family situation, such as a death in the family, make sure to take note of it.
Share your concerns. The next step, and the most difficult for many family members, is to start a conversation with your loved one. While it can be hard to know how your loved one will react, it’s essential to share your concerns.

When you feel ready to have a conversation with your loved one, it’s important to prepare what you will say and how you will say it. The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a series of tips to help guide you through the conversation. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare

Who should have the conversation?

Think about which family members should be present during the conversation. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that it’s best to share concerns one-on-one directly with the person so they don’t feel threatened. Of course, it is wise to think about what’s best for your loved one and what they would prefer.

What is the best time and place to have the conversation?

It’s tempting to delay the conversation but don’t. It is best to address it as soon as possible. Set a day, time, and location and stick to it.

What will you say?

Starting the conversation might feel awkward, so to prepare, think about what you might say. Here are a few suggestions:
• I’ve noticed a change in you and I’m concerned. Have you noticed it?
• How have you been feeling lately? You haven’t seemed like yourself.
• I’ve noticed you (forgot to turn off the stove) and it worried me. Has anything else like that happened?

You can access the entire tip sheet developed by the Alzheimer’s Association here.

Navigating Memory Loss at Maplewood Senior Living

While it is imperative to support your loved one during this time, it is also essential to take care of yourself. Experiencing grief and a sense of loss while noticing these changes in your loved one is normal. You might consider finding professional assistance or asking a close group of friends or family to give you additional support.

Our priority at our Maplewood Senior Living Communities is to provide excellent care for all residents and to support their families during difficult times. If you would like to hear about our specialized offerings, please contact us.

For additional information, download our  Complimentary Guide To Navigating A Dementia Diagnosis. 

The Best Technology for Seniors

For most of us, technology is ingrained into our everyday lives, from our cell phones and cars to toothbrushes and watches. In general, older adults have been slower to integrate and adopt new technologies. However, that’s beginning to change. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, only 14% of seniors aged 65 and above had Internet in their homes 20 years ago. Now, that number has increased by 67%. Of those who have the Internet, nearly 71% use it every day. As the number of older adults who use technology continues to rise, senior-specific devices have also increased.

IoT devices, or “The Internet of Things,” refers to any device that can connect to the Internet to send and receive data. IoT devices are everywhere—in our homes, cars, and even on our wrists. Not only are these devices convenient and easy to use, but they also can allow older adults to stay independent for longer.

Benefits of IoT for Seniors

Technology can seem intimidating at first, especially for some older adults. However, there are several ways technology can help seniors live longer, healthier lives. Here are just a few of the reasons seniors have chosen to integrate technology into their daily lives.

Convenience

As we get older, everyday tasks can become a burden. Taking care of our homes and cooking meals become responsibilities that take a lot of energy. Instead of relying on family members for help, many seniors are relying on technology to help bridge the gap. Instead of going to the store, smartphones can do the shopping for you. Remembering appointments and birthdays can become more difficult with age but smart home devices can be programmed to remind you of special occasions.

Safety

The biggest concern many family members have for their loved ones is safety. As we age, we become more at risk of falling, cognitive decline, and illness. Thankfully, technological devices can monitor these safety concerns and offer peace of mind to family members and caregivers.

Home security

Smart devices also have the capability of making homes safer, especially for older adults who live alone. Home security cameras now can connect to cell phones, allowing homeowners to monitor their safety. Smart locks, security systems, and smoke alarms add a layer of security.

Emergency services

Some older adults rely on IoT devices and sensors in the event of a fall or injury. Many wearable devices can dispatch emergency services or contact a family member in times of distress or physical injury.

Healthcare

One of the most innovative ways IoT has influenced seniors is through devices specifically designed to monitor health and wellness. From medication management to controlling diabetes and heart disease, smart devices allow older adults to manage their conditions, while also avoiding emergency room and hospital visits.

Technology and Healthcare

With nearly 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the demand for healthcare providers will increase each year. Many older adults are looking to technology to bridge this gap. Here are a few of the most common conditions that can be regulated and censored through the use of technology:

• Medication Management. Apps and Bluetooth pill dispensers help older adults stay on track with their medication without relying on friends, family members, or healthcare providers. Many smartphone apps also can order medications automatically, which minimizes the risk of ever running out.

• Telemedicine. Now older adults can see their healthcare provider from the comfort of their own homes. Using video conferencing platforms allows both the provider and patient to see each other, minimizing the risk of contracting illnesses.
• Diabetes. Technological advances make controlling diabetes efficient and simple. Some sensors, like the smart sock, help track temperature, and identify inflammation before they worsen.

• High Blood Pressure. Smartwatches and bands can track blood pressure and send an alert when levels become too high.

• Arthritis. When arthritis worsens, daily tasks can become difficult. Devices that help with writing, opening and closing doors, smart lighting, and thermostats allow those with arthritis to keep their independence.

Senior Friendly Technology

The New York Times and Tech For Aging conducted extensive research on a wide variety of smart devices available to seniors. Here are some of the best products they found, ranging from wearable devices and sensors to security systems and automatic lighting.

In the Home

Our homes should be the place where we feel safest and most comfortable. Smart devices such as the Google Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that sends warning signals by voice and also sends alerts to up to six contacts. It also has a built-in night light to reduce the risk of falling.

The Amazon Echo Dot is an affordable voice control device that can provide in-home entertainment like playing music and games, while also providing security features like the ability to make calls to loved ones.

For those looking for a smart system that can monitor the entire home, Sense is a great option. This monitoring system connects to an electric panel and tracks energy usage. If a person uses certain devices every day, Sense can be programmed to alert caregivers and family members if the device does not get used, allowing them to call and check-in on their loved one.

For the Body
Wearable devices have many different capabilities. From monitoring heart conditions to tracking sleep patterns, older adults now can take control of their health.

The most comprehensive wearable device, as reported by Tech for Aging, is the Apple Watch Series 5. This watch can detect falls and includes an ECG/EKG monitor with atrial fibrillation detection. Besides, this watch tracks fitness activity and heart rate.

To Aid with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Some of the most exciting technology has been designed to help those living with memory-related conditions like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. New GPS shoe inserts allow caregivers to track their loved ones, especially if they tend to wander.

The Alzheimer Master, an app designed for Android devices, allows family members to record their voices for their loved ones. Familiar voices can be used to remind a loved one to take their medication and turn off the lights.

Utilizing Technology at Maplewood Senior Living

Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are adapted to work with various technologies, from wearable devices to automatic lighting. Technology allows our residents to age gracefully and stay independent longer. During the pandemic, this has been particularly helpful for keeping our residents engaged with families. Our teams assist residents with their devices while making sure the newest technologies are available in each community. While all these devices can certainly be helpful for those living alone, sometimes that is not enough.

Maplewood Senior Living is here for you and your family if you feel living within a community may be better suited for you. To learn more about these special offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

What is Medicare and How Does it Work?

Medicare is a federal program that older Americans and people with disabilities use for healthcare coverage. According to AARP, in 2020, nearly 61 million individuals were enrolled in Medicare to help pay for healthcare coverage including hospital stays and prescription medicine. Those who receive social security are automatically enrolled in Medicare. However, those who do not must enroll in the program within three months before and three months after they turn 65. Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or want to make changes to your plan, you must do so between October 15-December 7 for the plan to take place on January 1.

It’s no secret that Medicare is a complex program, with many different parts.  Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Understanding Medicare Options

Medicare is a comprehensive program that provides coverage for all health care needs. In general, Medicare offers lower, out-of-pocket costs when compared to traditional commercial health plans. To make the program easier to navigate, it is broken down into four major Medicare parts.

Medicare Part A

Covers inpatient hospital care including hospice care and short-term skilled nursing care. You are automatically enrolled in Part A when you apply for Medicare. In addition to hospitalization, Part A will cover doctor services and lab tests that were done while you are in a hospital or other health care facility. While you do not have to pay a premium, Part A does require a yearly deductible and coinsurance costs.

Medicare Part B

Covers doctor visits, lab tests, diagnostic screening, medical equipment, and ambulance transportation. Part B can involve more out-of-pocket expenses, so if you have insurance through your job or a spouse, you might consider deferring. However, if you don’t have other coverage and choose not to enroll in Part B, you will likely pay a higher monthly premium for the duration of your enrollment. Also, Part B requires an annual deductible and 20% of doctor visits and outpatient services.

Medicare Part C

Is the Medicare Advantage program, which offers an alternative to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B). Medicare Advantage programs are Medicare plans that are offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies. These plans include Parts A, B, and usually Part D in addition to other benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental programs. While deductibles and copays are usually lower when compared to traditional Medicare, the premiums are higher. Some people choose Medicare Advantage programs for more coverage and to make paperwork and communication easier and more efficient.

Medicare Part D

Covers prescription drugs and is purchased through a private insurer. Many options depend on your needs and prices can vary. It’s best to check medicare.gov to see whether the plans you’re considering cover the medications you need.

Changes to Medicare in 2021

As open enrollment is approaching, it’s important to be aware of the changes being made to Medicare. According to the official U.S. government Medicare handbook, here’s what you need to know before open enrollment:

Coronavirus disease 2019

Medicare has made changes to account for the impact COVID-19 has had on both health care providers and consumers. Medicare will cover lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, antibody tests will be covered if you have been diagnosed with a known current or known prior COVID-19 infection or suspected infection.

Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations related to COVID-19. This includes hospital stays to cover quarantine after an inpatient stay. Hospital deductibles, copays, and coinsurances will still apply.

Lower out of pocket costs for insulin

Part D Senior Savings Model will give supplemental benefits for insulin. Plans that participate in this model will offer coverage choices that include multiple types of insulin at a maximum co-payment of $35 for a 30-day supply.

Acupuncture for back pain

Medicare will cover up to 12 acupuncture visits in 90 days for chronic low back pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer and has no known cause. Medicare will cover an additional eight sessions if the acupuncture proves to be improving your condition. It’s important to understand that acupuncture will only be covered for lower back pain and not any other condition.

Telehealth and other virtual services

As telehealth begins to be a popular option for many people, Medicare has announced its coverage will be expanded. Telehealth benefits will allow you to get medical or health services from a doctor who is located elsewhere using interactive audio and video technology. Medicare will also cover virtual services like E-visits and Virtual check-ins.

Tips for Enrolling or Making Changes to Your Medicare Plan

Choose your doctors carefully. If you’re new to Medicare or are looking for a new doctor, it’s important to understand their Medicare status. Providers can have various statuses including participating, non-participating, opt-out, and Medicare Advantage. Depending on their status, the cost of your fee might increase. If you’re preparing to visit a doctor for the first time, it’s not uncommon to set up an interview beforehand. This will allow you to see if they are a good fit or if you need to keep looking.
Avoid surprise charges. Because Medicare is a complicated program, it can be difficult to keep track of which services are covered and which are not. You can always check the Medicare website to make sure you will be covered before having a treatment or appointment. If you receive a surprise bill, don’t pay it right away. Instead, call your provider and Medigap insurer to ask about the bill.
Take advantage of the benefits.   There are so many benefits provided by Medicare that people often forget to use them! Medicare covers annual wellness visits, eyeglasses, telehealth visits, nutrition counseling, and counseling for smokers who want to quit.

• Keep good records. Experts suggest keeping records of your medical history including hospital stays, any conditions you have, your prescription drug list, medical equipment you use, pharmacy information, and emergency contact information. This will help you if you ever need to switch doctors or if you have an issue with your Medicare plan and need to access information quickly.

Learn More about Medicare at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, health is our number one priority. We know Medicare can be confusing, but enrolling in the program and keeping up-to-date with changes will allow you to access the best health care possible. For more information, or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

We are offering a Complimentary Course on Medicare that we are hosting on October 15th at 4pm. To RSVP and get your Zoom login information, please email: RSVP@maplewoodsl.com

Why Social Isolation is Detrimental to Older Adults

Social isolation, which includes having few social relationships or infrequent contact with others, is a national public health concern, especially for older adults. Our bodies use pain as a warning sign to signal that something is wrong. Like pain, feelings of loneliness can be a sign that isolation is beginning to affect our health. While it’s possible to feel lonely without being socially isolated from others, long-term social isolation can very likely increase our risk of feeling lonely. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the social isolation in older adults’ epidemic. However, subsequent social distance and lock-down protocols have exacerbated the epidemic, causing a spike in reported isolation among the senior population.

Isolation and subsequent loneliness are not new concerns. However, according to the Association of Health Care Journalists, new social isolation statistics suggest that lock-down and social distance protocols have already increased loneliness in older adults. A June 2020 poll from the University of Michigan found that “56% of respondents over the age of 50 reported that they sometimes feel isolated from others which is more than twice of the 27% who felt that way in a similar 2018 poll.” The same report suggests that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. These increasing numbers are concerning for several reasons, including the fact that older adults who experience long-term isolation are significantly more at risk for many health concerns.

Effects of Social Isolation on Mental Health

It’s common for older adults who are socially isolated to show signs of cognitive decline and decreased speed in information processing. Those who are socially isolated for long periods can often experience physical inactivity, depression, poor sleep quality, high blood pressure and inflammation, all of which can contribute to cognitive decline.

While researchers are still studying the relationship between isolation and cognitive decline, many new developments have been made. Researchers have found that loneliness, due to isolation, has been linked with the same types of brain changes found in those with Alzheimer’s disease. For those with Alzheimer’s disease, certain proteins build up in the brain and alter the brain’s function. These proteins, beta-amyloid, and tau, are also found in those who have reported long-term social isolation. Certain life stressors linked to isolation, such as negative thinking, can also cause the same proteins to build up in the brain, which can increase the risk of disease and illness.

Effects of Isolation on Health

Some research suggests that isolation can alter cells in the immune system causing inflammation. While inflammation can help our bodies heal in the event of injury, if it goes unaddressed for long periods, it can increase the risk of chronic diseases. Those who are isolated can develop compromised immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and infectious diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are isolated and suffer from pre-existing conditions, such as heart failure, are at an increased risk of hospitalization by 68%. They also have a 57% increased risk of emergency department visits and have nearly four times the risk of premature death. Loneliness and isolation are also associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Those who live in social isolation are at risk of premature death from all causes, the severity of which rivals the risk associated with smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

A study from Florida State University gathered data from 12,030 older adults aged 50 and above to study the relationship between dementia and loneliness. While there is a difference between the two, loneliness can often be a result of social isolation. The findings reported that loneliness was associated with a 40% increased risk of dementia after analyzing data from a 10-year follow-up. This risk includes people of all genders, education, race and ethnicity.

Importance of Social Activity

Cultivating meaningful relationships and having consistent interaction with others can promote both physical and mental health. Research has suggested that those who feel supported in their relationships have a 55% lower risk of dementia. Those who have strong social connections often cope better with stress and they have a supportive social circle to lean on in stressful situations. Social connections can help those who already have protein-build up in the brain decrease their risk of dementia and lessen the build-up over time.

The pandemic has presented a unique challenge, especially for older adults, as many social-distancing protocols are still in place making interaction more difficult. However, many older adults are using technology as a way to interact with others and maintain meaningful relationships.

Using Technology to Combat Isolation

Now more than ever, we are seeing how technology can be used to alleviate social isolation for many older adults. Here are a few ways older adults are utilizing technology to stay connected:

Connecting with Friends and Family
A survey out of the University of Michigan reported that 59% of older adults use social media to connect with others at least once a week, while 31% use video conferencing platforms. In May of this year, video conferencing apps broke records with 62 million downloads. Apps like FaceTime, WebEx, and Zoom are being used to host virtual cocktail parties, dinner gatherings, and book clubs.

Staying Active
Many older adults use exercise and physical activity as a way to connect with others and make new friends. Now, technology has made it possible to continue this connection, while also staying safe. YouTube offers virtual exercise classes like Pilates, dance classes, and chair yoga that can be done with a group, but from the comfort of your own home.

Lifelong Learning
Social connection can occur when people bond over similar interests. For those who like to learn, there are many online options available. Open University offers many free classes, most of which offer online forums that allow classmates to connect with and learn from each other.

Preventing Social Isolation at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important social connection is for older adults. Our facilities offer a wide variety of social activities and utilize technology to encourage connections with family and friends. Our Temi robots give residents many opportunities to video chat with family members, interact with online videos, and monitor their health. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Your Guide to Navigating a Dementia Diagnosis

We know that receiving a diagnosis of dementia or seeing warning signs and symptoms can be very scary for the person themselves, family members, and caregivers. While Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases do not have a cure, many things can potentially help the impact of the progression of the disease. Early diagnosis can help people to put new lifestyle choices into practice and will pave the way for making the appropriate plans for the future.

We all know that aging can cause wrinkles, gray hair, and achy joints. However, as we age our bodies and minds undergo many physiological changes that aren’t as obvious. As our brains age, their neurological makeup also changes, which can cause forgetfulness and longer memory recall. While this is a normal part of aging, memory loss is not. However, many older adults suffer from long-term memory loss in their later years.
In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 50 million people have dementia, with 10 million new diagnoses each year. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, contributing to 60-70% of all dementia cases.

Differences between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

While they are commonly interchanged, dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the same diseases. Unlike Alzheimer’s, which is a specific long-term memory disease, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. While many people are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, most are unfamiliar with the other various types. Many have similar symptoms which is why it can take longer to find a specific diagnosis.

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related illness the initial information and facts can be very overwhelming. At Maplewood Senior Living, we hold a special regard for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment. We believe that while memory loss means living with certain challenges, it should not stand in the way of living a life of dignity. We embrace new technology such as iPads and temi robots along with Rendever virtual reality and Eversound headphones to keep our seniors engaged with family and friends. Our program directors and memory care directors work hard to incorporate programs that engage and benefit residents at any level of care.

Our highly trained and compassionate staff throughout all our communities help residents with memory impairment reduce stress and improve wellbeing by focusing on the joys and accomplishments that can be experienced today.

To help you when you are confronted with dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we created a resource guide to provide a foundation of information to help alleviate some of your questions, worries, and assist you in reaching out for help.

Download a complimentary copy of Your Guide to Navigating a Dementia Diagnosis – Helpful Information and Resources to Support You. To receive your guide – CLICK HERE.

To find out more about our Memory Care communities at Maplewood Senior Living, contact us here.

Exercise and Brain Health

People choose to exercise for many different reasons. While some people exercise to reap the physical benefits, others enjoy physical activity as a way to release stress and anxiety. As we age, exercise becomes increasingly important to our overall well-being. Consistent exercise can prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lower blood pressure, and improve our mental health. What most people don’t know is that exercise can change the brain in ways that improve thinking and cognitive function. Some studies even suggest that a single exercise session can provide the same cognitive benefits as longer and more regular exercise.

Risk of Cognitive Impairment in Seniors

Older adults are naturally more at risk of cognitive impairment when compared to other age groups. The most common cognitive impairments can be caused by medication effects, depression, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Without taking steps to protect our brain health, we can put ourselves at risk of developing cognitive impairments in our later years. People with these types of disorders can experience a variety of symptoms, the most common of which are listed here:

• Decreased Processing Speed. Processing speed refers to the time it takes our brain to complete a mental task such as finishing an assignment, following instructions, or comprehending a conversation. It’s likely for older adults to notice cognitive changes related to their processing speed.

Problems with Attention. Some older adults with cognitive impairments may notice that their minds wander when trying to concentrate on a specific task or conversation. This can also express itself through difficulty when focusing on more than one thing at a time.

Memory Problems. Changes in memory are very common among older adults. Some age-related forgetfulness is normal; however, memory loss is not.

Difficulty Expressing Oneself. Decreased speed in verbal fluency is a cognitive impairment that refers to the ability to recall vocabulary. If our verbal fluency was to decrease, we would have problems expressing ourselves in conversations.

Losing Things. Forgetting your keys or an occasional appointment can be normal behaviors for people of all ages. However, older adults with cognitive impairment are often unable to remember important information consistently.

Social Withdrawal. Older adults experiencing cognitive impairment may notice changes in their behavior and begin to withdraw from their normal activities as a way to disguise or hide their symptoms.

While many older adults suffer from cognitive decline, it doesn’t have to be this way for everyone. There are simple things we can do to decrease the risk of developing these impairments. Dr. Wendy Suzuki, the author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, and member of the advisory board at Maplewood Senior Living, knows the important role exercise plays in brain health.

In an interview with KTVU FOX 2, Dr. Suzuki reported that “Keeping our bodies moving is so important. Even one walk outside releases the neurotransmitters in our brain that keep us happy and boost our mood.” In her research, Dr. Suzuki has discovered there is a biological connection between exercise, mindfulness, and action. When we exercise, our bodies feel more alive and our brains perform better.

Benefits of Exercises for the Brain

As we exercise, our heart rate increases, causing an increase in blood flow to the brain. This allows our brains to receive more oxygen, nutrients, and proteins, while also promoting the growth of neurons. Additionally, the chemicals released in our brain during exercise can also make us feel less stressed and anxious. As she writes in her book, Dr. Suzuki believes that exercise has a direct effect on brain health and can provide a variety of benefits. Here are some of the most common benefits of physical exercise on brain health:

Reduces Stress– When we exercise regularly, our norepinephrine levels increase, which helps regulate the way our brain reacts to stress. Ultimately, exercise allows us to cope with both mental and physical stress in healthy ways.

Improves Mood– You might have heard that exercise is a natural mood booster. Exercising for just 30 minutes a day can release endorphins, which can help boost your mood while also decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Increases Confidence– As we exercise and begin to grow and build muscle, it’s natural to feel a sense of confidence, which can carry over into many different aspects of our lives.

Prevents Cognitive Decline– Although research is limited, some studies have suggested that exercise can help keep blood flowing to the brain, which can reduce the risk of damage or deterioration. Some research has suggested that white matter fibers, which are associated with brain function, are less likely to deteriorate with consistent exercise. Other researchers believe that aerobic exercise can help slow the shrinkage of the hippocampus, which controls our memory.

Increases Creativity– You might notice feeling sharper and clear-headed after physical activity. Exercise can make us feel more alive and help spark our sense of creativity.

Decreases The Risk of Dementia– As we exercise, we decrease our chances of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, all of which are linked to dementia.

Physical Exercises for the Brain

Any type of exercise will allow you to reap the benefits of physical activity for the brain. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated! If you don’t know where to start, you might consider one of these three simple exercises:

• Walking will increase your heart rate, allow blood and oxygen to flow to the brain, and release mood-boosting endorphins. Walking is also great for mental health, especially for those who have a hard time de-stressing and relaxing. After a 30-minute walk, you might notice feeling less agitated.

• Dancing requires our brains and bodies to communicate with each other. Remembering choreography might take some practice, but it can also help our brains stay sharp.

• Swimming or other water-based activities are great for older adults who experience joint and muscle pain. Water activities are low impact and can decrease the chance of injury.

Protecting the Brain through Exercise at Maplewood Senior Living

Health is one of our top priorities at Maplewood Senior Living. Each of our communities offers group-led physical activities that are designed to pose a challenge while also prevent injury for all residents. We know exercise can be powerful, that’s why we encourage all of our residents to get moving! To learn more about our offerings, please contact us here.

Sexuality, Dementia and Relationships

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, disorders grouped under the general term dementia are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes can cause a decline in cognitive abilities, memory, and behavior. Chances are you probably know someone with a form of dementia. In fact, nearly 50 million people worldwide live with a type of dementia, with 10 million new cases being diagnosed each year. There are many types of dementia such as Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and the most common type, Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for nearly 70% of all dementia cases. Dementia cases are most commonly diagnosed in older adults, aged 65 and above, who exhibit common signs and symptoms. While dementia symptoms can appear differently in each adult, there are some signs that are reported often.
It’s not uncommon for partners, spouses and close friends, and family members to recognize signs and symptoms of dementia in their loved ones first. According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs can include memory loss, difficulty communicating or recalling commonly used words, difficulty with making decisions, problem-solving, planning, and organizing. While most of these symptoms and behavioral changes are commonly discussed and widely recognized, there are some changes that can go unidentified—sexuality is one of these. As the disease progresses, and changes in the brain continue to develop, many people with dementia can experience changes in their sexuality and sexual feelings.

Dementia’s Effect on Intimacy and Sexuality

As humans, we all have needs for friendship, companionship, and intimacy. These needs do not go away with a dementia diagnosis. However, as the disease progresses, the way the need for intimacy is expressed can change. In addition to the disease itself, other related conditions such as depression, medications, and changes in memory, can result in behavioral changes that can affect one’s sense of sexuality. Some dementia-related changes in sexuality one might experience can include the following:

Reduced sexual energy. Depression and anxiety are common side effects of dementia and can cause a decrease in sexual desire or the need for intimacy and friendship. Even if a person is not diagnosed with depression, withdrawing from people is common. While some people feel comfortable with this change in desire, others may enjoy being hugged, cuddled, and shown affection.

Dementia and sexually inappropriate behaviors. Dementia can affect the areas of the brain that keep us from acting on our impulses. That’s why some dementia patients exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors such as flirting with strangers or speaking about sex in an inappropriate setting.

Dementia and romantic relationships. While some people with dementia experience a decrease in sexual energy, others may feel an increased need for sex and other forms of intimacy. Knowing how to navigate this change can be difficult for many partners. One partner may feel a rise in sexual energy while their partner or spouse feels unsure of the new demand. If this new sexual energy feels uncomfortable, it can be helpful to explore other ways of feeling intimate.

Hypersexuality. According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, “as the ability to remember sexual interactions decreases, a person’s desire for sexual intercourse can increase.” This person might become overly interested in sex and masturbation. As the National Institute on Aging reports, these behaviors are related to the disease and don’t always mean that the person is interested in sex.

Issues to Consider

Navigating conversations around sexuality can be difficult, especially when dementia plays a role. It’s important to take all factors into consideration before starting a conversation about sex with your partner. Some people might misinterpret actions from people with dementia as sexualized behaviors. However, sexual behavior can be used as a way to communicate other needs for people with the disease. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, other reasons for behavior that may seem sexual can include needing to use the toilet, discomfort in clothing or temperature, boredom, expressing a need for affection, and mistaking someone for their own partner.
It’s also important to consider that people with dementia can continue to have a healthy intimate life, but what that looks like may change many times throughout the progression of the disease. Consistently readdressing comfort levels and desires will help both people in the relationship identify each other’s wishes and concerns. It’s common for both partners to change their wishes. In fact, some partners feel guilty if they no longer want to be intimate, while others may continue to have intimate moments.

Tips for Coping

Dementia can be a lonely disease. Most people living with dementia need to feel love and shown affection consistently. It’s important to remember that the changes in sexual behavior you see in someone with dementia are products of the disease, not of the person. While experiencing these changes in someone you love can be difficult, finding ways to cope can help.
• Explore ways to spend time together like making lunch or dinner together, walking outside, or listening to music.
• Find other ways to show affection. If one or both of you are uncomfortable with being sexually intimate, you might consider hugging, holding hands, dancing, or sitting close to one another.
• Remember to be sensitive and reassuring. Navigating these changes is difficult and judgment can make it worse.
• Do not feel guilty if you no longer feel romantically connected to your partner.
• Join a support group through the Alzheimer’s Association. There are groups in most geographical areas and can be accessed online.
• Do what feels best for you. Be gentle with yourself.

Living with Dementia at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we prioritize the physical and emotional health of all residents. Navigating diseases like dementia can be difficult but working with a team of professionals can make it easier.
Support groups, specialized activities, and therapies are offered at our communities to help cope with the behavioral, physical, and emotional changes caused by diseases like dementia. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Join us on Tuesdays for 6 Weeks Starting on September 22 for our Dementia Bootcamp. This is a free six-week support group hosted via  Zoom. Register at RSVP@maplewoodsl.com to find. Every Tuesday at 3pm.