The Benefits of Laughing for Seniors

Regardless of age, laughter and humor continue to be an important element in all our lives. Both staff, caregivers, and residents at Maplewood Senior Living not only need laughter but appreciate it to help alleviate stress, clarify thought processes, create common social bonds, and redirect behaviors.

According to Caregiver.com, “Laughter establishes or restores a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together – the more social a person is and the more social support a person receives, the more likely that laughter will result from that social connection. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your relationships.”

Psychology Today talks about other benefits, “it reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.” An article from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has piece which notes that “given that laughter and humor is a key element to happiness and is often used as a therapeutic tool for depression, both traditionally and more recently in the form of “Laughter Yoga” it could potentially be used to counteract the effects of depression and aid in new approaches to lifestyle change.”

Holly Michaud, the Lifestyle Director at Maplewood at Brewster told us about their Humor Based Programs that can be found throughout the day at their community. “We are careful and respectful in how we express it – but always looking for a way to add joy and laughter to our residents’ lives. It can’t be phony… must be genuine… and must be meant to put residents at ease rather than feel uncomfortable. Humor and laughter are natural parts of our relationships throughout the community and just as important as any other element of our daily interactions!”

Programs at Maplewood Senior Living that regularly focus on the benefits of laughing are:
a. Laugh Out Loud – a weekly program that features famous/classic comedians; comedy skits; trending You-Tube videos; life’s funniest moments; bloopers, etc. Offered following mid-day dinner before transitioning into more serious programming.
b. Wit & Wisdom – A discussion of truth found in famous/funny idioms and proverbs
c. Comedy Club – A cocktail party with featured resident comedians and “Pass the Hat” joke-telling
d. Brewster Flats (resident chorus) performances – Always include an element of my joke telling that everyone looks forward to “booing!”
e. Knowledge Quest/Brain-Body Boost Programs – Incorporate an element of humor to enhance brain function and release endorphins
f. Currents Events Discussion – Sometimes required to end on a positive note!
g. Special Events – Select residents (and staff) perform in character (L’il Abner; Scarecrow; deli owners at Pub Party; Mob Boss; Gumdrop at Christmas) all to create an interactive atmosphere of humor.
Humor and laughter also offer some surprises. A resident at Brewster, Chuck Rosenbach, is a “regular” character for special events. He loves to dress up as different characters and puts great effort into crafting his costumes to give residents a good chuckle. Other residents have quite a repertoire of great jokes and a wonderful delivery style. It gives them great purpose and self-worth to be asked to share jokes. Giving them the opportunity to express humor and spread the health benefits of laughter is absolutely contagious within the senior living community.

Explore the Health Benefits of Laughter at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important laughter is, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide our residents with stimulating programs that get them laughing. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact us here.

Technology and Dementia

An adult child caregiver helping a loved one with

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is an overall term for diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Of the 5 million individuals diagnosed with age-related dementia’s in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 80% of these cases. As dementia progresses, it can cause patients to lose some of their independence and rely on caregivers to help them complete daily tasks like bathing, eating, and getting dressed. The Alzheimer’s Association reported that nearly 48% of all caregivers in the United States provide care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Because many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients rely heavily on caregivers, it can cause a loss of independence and autonomy. However, in recent years, new technology has allowed those diagnosed with memory disorders to feel independent for longer.

Benefits of Technology to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

Assistive technology is a term often used to refer to items, devices or technological systems used by individuals to make daily living a little easier. There a number of assistive technology devices designed specifically for those with memory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While these technologies won’t completely eliminate the need for caregiving support, they can promote feelings of independence. Here are a few ways assistive technology can be beneficial for those with cognitive diseases, especially a form of dementia:
Safety
Some assistive technology devices are designed specifically to keep people safe. Items like motion sensors and automatic lights can be installed to decrease the risks of falls or related injuries. Devices such as medical alert pendants and smart home devices can be programmed to contact emergency services when they are needed.

Everyday LivingOther technologies are designed to help complete basic daily tasks like remembering when to take your medicine, automated curtain controls, robot vacuums, and touch censored toilets and sinks. As dementia progresses, it can affect a person’s range of motion, making it difficult to bend fingers and hands. Devices designed towards everyday living allow a person to complete tasks in a different way.

Location Monitoring
In some cases, dementia patients can often become wander risks. This can quickly become a scary situation for both the patient and the caregiver. Some assistive technology devices such as door and exit sensors can immediately alert family members or caregivers when a loved one has left.

Communication
As dementia progresses, communication can become difficult. Some technologies provide innovative ways to communicate with healthcare providers, family members, and friends to encourage socialization, while also receiving timely answers to medical questions.

Technology and Dementia: Available Types

Whether you’re a caregiver supporting someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or if you have been diagnosed with a memory disease, there are many assistive devices that can help complete daily tasks. Here are a few devices you might find helpful:
Calendar Apps can be helpful for both the caregiver and the person receiving support. Apps such as Google Calendar can be set up to give reminders for appointments or tracking medication schedules.
Video calling services such as Skype and FaceTime can help those living with dementia feel more connected with their families, especially if they live far away.
Voice-activated assistants can provide entertainment, reminders, and safety alerts. These devices offered by Amazon and Google can play music, read audiobooks, tell jokes, and even be set up to control the lights in your house. These devices can be programmed to call emergency services in the event of a fall, injury, or other medical situations.
Adapted Telephones are programmed with important numbers of family and friends to eliminate the pressure of remembering them for those with dementia. Some phones even give the option of programming a picture of a loved one to correspond with their telephone numbers.
Automated pill dispensers are relatively inexpensive and can be easily programmed to make a signal when it’s time to take medication. This can be helpful especially as the disease progresses and memory gets worse.
A dementia-friendly music player is another device to consider especially if your loved one enjoys listening to music. Many studies have shown that listening to calming music can have a positive effect on dementia patients. Some speakers can be programmed to play certain songs for a specified amount of time. The large buttons make it easy to control the volume.

Technology and Dementia: iPad Apps for Alzheimer’s Patients

In addition to assistive technology devices, the iPad has shown to help those diagnosed with dementia improve their cognitive and communication skills. Because of its user-friendly and lightweight design, the iPad can be used easily by dementia patients. Here are some apps that were created specifically for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Labyrinth 2 HD– This app is designed to help those with dementia strengthen their cognitive skills by working to navigate mazes, which can be made more or less challenging by changing the level.
MindMate– Designed specifically to strengthen the mind, this app provides games and mental exercises that help enhance problem-solving skills, speed, memory, and attention. There are also exercise and nutrition lessons available on the platform.
Peak-Brain Training– Developed by neuroscientists, this app offers over 40 games designed to challenge cognitive skills while also encouraging creativity and mental agility. In addition to a wide variety of games, the app also provides a personal trainer for the brain called, “Coach.” Coach tracks progress and also provides suggestions for improvement.

Finding Additional Support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important it is to exercise the brain, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide residents the opportunity to learn new iPad games and programs to help improve and maintain their cognitive skills. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact us.

Time Management Tips for Caregivers and Care Partners

As the aging population continues to increase, especially with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the need for caregivers has also seen a spike in demand. Many family members and spouses have taken on the role of caregivers to support their loved ones through illness and disease. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, more than 65 million people, or roughly 29% of the U.S. population provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend and spends nearly 20 hours per week providing care. While caregiving is a noble undertaking, it certainly comes with unique challenges and obstacles.

Defining Your Role as a Caregiver

For many adults providing care for a loved one, the role of a caregiver can become a major part of one’s identity. In fact, many caregivers struggle with separating their role as a caregiver from their own personal identity. However, it’s important to acknowledge and exercise other ways of identifying themselves. Here are a few ways you can practice setting boundaries, especially when it comes to time management:

Don’t be afraid to express yourself
It can be difficult to process your emotions, especially when you are tasked with supporting and caring for a loved one. Jim Taylor, who writes “Advice for Care Partners” and has been featured in the New York Times, says one of the most important aspects of caregiving or care partnering is to remember to, “honor your own reaction and emotions to the diagnosis. When you need to grieve, grieve.”

Set personal goals
Caregiving can limit the amount of time you have to set aside for yourself and your own personal goals. However, it’s important to make time for these things, too. Finding ways to grow and exercise your talents is important. You might consider setting a few personal goals each week or month, whether it’s writing in your journal or learning how to cook a new dish.

If you’re a caregiver, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of never having enough time in one day. That is certainly a normal feeling. But there are ways to manage your time so you don’t feel so overwhelmed each day. Here are a few time management tips and techniques for caregivers to make it feel less overwhelming and more enjoyable.

Time Management Tips for Caregivers: In the Home

For caregivers who provide care out of their own homes, or who live with the person they are supporting, there are many ways to make sure the home is an area of comfort rather than stress.

Declutter
Nearly 20% of Alzheimer’s patients exhibit hoarding behaviors that can likely cause safety hazards in the home. In addition, living in a cluttered space can also add difficulty to basic daily tasks like getting dressed or cooking. As you attempt to declutter your loved one’s space, always start by setting a priority and making a plan. For example, if your goal is to reduce the risk of falling, make a series of small plans identifying which items present the most risk. Don’t forget to utilize the help of your family and friends. If you’re unsure if something should be thrown away or kept, you can always ask a family member to hold onto it for a bit of time.

Organize
If you find yourself short on time, the best thing to do is to get organized. Here are a few simple ways you can save yourself some time each day:
• Keep all your paperwork and important documents in one location
• Keep a daily to-do list in the same place and update it daily
• Store all medications in the same place and sort them weekly. It can also be helpful to keep a list of all medications being consumed
• Utilize gadgets. There are so many senior-friends tools and resources available for caregivers and their loved ones. For example, if your loved one has trouble getting dressed, you might look into tools that help with buttons, Velcro shoes, and clothing with elastic waistbands
• Keep track of your regular household tasks, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and food preparation. Scheduling time in advance for all of these tasks will help you manage your time most efficiently

Focus on Comfort
As the disease progresses, you might find yourself spending more time at home, rather than going out. When this happens, it’s important that the home becomes a place of peace and tranquility, rather than chaos. These simple home modifications can make anyone’s home a place they want to be.

• Install a raised toilet and grab bars for the bathroom and bathtub
• Trade regular door knobs with grab easy alternatives such as lever handles
• Place your loved one’s favorite pictures and memorabilia in easy to see places
• Install monitors and alert systems for those who present wander risks, such as door alarms and motions sensors
• Use bright lighting to reduce the risk of falling

Time Management Tips for Caregivers: For the Day

Staying organized during the day will help you to complete tasks while making room for the unexpected. As you go about your day, keep these tips in mind that will keep stress away.

Organize Your Daily Essentials
It might sound obvious, but keeping your keys, wallet, and other essentials in the same place can actually help you save time and decrease stress as you get ready to head out the door. Nothing is worse than being late for an appointment because your keys are in your pocket instead of in your purse. You might consider keeping these essentials by the door to make it easy to remember. Staying organized helps free up mental space you might need later in the day.

Plan Your Days
As you think about your daily to-do list, it might be helpful to plan out your day while also being mindful that it may not go to plan. Prioritize the most important things first, like doctor’s appointments or refilling medications. Using a large calendar that your loved one can also see can be a great way to make them feel involved and encourage independence over their days.

Time Management for Caregivers: For the Self

Most importantly, caregivers need to make time for themselves. Oftentimes, caregivers forget to take care of themselves, because their main focus is to take care of their loved one. But the truth is, if caregivers don’t help themselves, they can’t help their loved one. If you are a caregiver, use these tips to remember that you are important, too.
• Seek support. Whether you share your concerns and excitements with a friend or a caregiver, it’s important to have someone to talk to
• Create a network of other caregivers to learn from and share with
• Make time for yourself! This means getting enough exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and making sure to get enough sleep
• Work your own needs into your schedule. Don’t ignore doctor’s appointments and social events, they’re just as important to your health as taking medicine
• Connect with the people you love

Offering Support for Caregivers at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living Communities, we know and appreciate how hard caregivers work to provide support, love, and care to their loved ones. We offer a free six-week Dementia Bootcamp series for caregivers that provides education, tips, resources and support for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you’d like to learn more about this series or the many ways in which we care for caregivers, contact us here,we’d love to talk to you.

 

The Senior Downsizing Dilemma

Downsizing is a normal part of aging, especially for those who transition into an assisted living facility or independent living. For many older adults, downsizing can be a particularly emotional experience. Many seniors have lived in their homes for the greater part of their lives, accumulating possessions along the way. Alongside possessions, our homes carry some of our most cherished memories, which can make transitioning into a new residence even harder. While the process will be difficult, there are many ways to make the transition less chaotic.

Common Senior Downsizing Dilemmas

Senior downsizing can be a personal experience that is different for every person. However, there are some common hardships that arise with downsizing for older adults.
The task seems too big to handle
When you take a look around at all the stuff you have to move, it probably seems like an impossible task. The key to a successful transition is to start sorting through your things one room at a time. Start by slowly clearing out a bookshelf, a dresser drawer, or a closet and the process won’t seem as daunting in the long run.
What to give? What to keep?
Everything you own might not give you the same sense of joy it did at one time. If this happens, it’s okay to let it go, even if you’ve had it for many years and even if it is expensive. The goal for a successful downsize is to choose items that are useful to you and help you feel great about your life.
How to sort through clothing
Clearing out old clothing can be surprisingly difficult for many people. For some, clothing represents different parts of their life, while for others clothing is a vehicle of expression. You might consider bringing items that you tend to wear most often, while donating those you haven’t worn in years.
How to part with sentimental items
This is one of the most difficult aspects of downsizing. Fortunately, you don’t have to part with sentimental items. If your new home cannot accommodate all of your precious possessions, you might consider asking your family members to keep them safe. This way, your items are accessible when you want them.

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

If you foresee a potential move in your future, or perhaps your parent is transitioning into a senior living community, there are many ways to make downsizing a manageable task. AARP and Chicago Health published a list of suggestions to make senior downsizing feel less monumental. You might consider using these tips to make your transition a smooth one.
• Give Yourself Enough Time- While situations and health conditions can be hard to predict, many older adults find themselves moving into a retirement facility or assisted living urgently. The goal is to give yourself enough time to move in an intentional way. Many times, when the moving process is rushed, items you wish to hold onto are accidently misplaced or donated. Even if you haven’t planned a move, you might consider slowly sorting through your items in preparation of a downsize.

Communicate Efficiently– If your aging parents are having trouble maintaining their home and haven’t considered downsizing, you might start talking with them about beginning to clear out their space. Carefully approach the subject with genuine concern, while showing your support. You might say something like “I cleaned out my own garage and found some really great items. Would you like me to help you do the same?” As the topic continues, always remind your parents that they have a say in the matter, and respect their decisions.

Set Realistic Goals– Knowing where to begin downsizing can feel like an enormous task. Start with setting small and manageable goals, like clearing out one room per week. Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary items like tape, boxes, and markers. And, don’t forget to make the process fun! Enjoy yourself as you go through your belongings, take breaks, and make sure to stay hydrated.

Sort Through Your Belongings– As you go through your items, try sorting them into different piles. Categorizing your piles for different uses can be helpful as well. You might consider creating spaces for items to take with you, give to family, sell, donate, and to throw away.

Donate What You Can– Many organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will pick up any furniture, clothing, and décor free of charge. Make sure to call and confirm what you plan on giving away to make sure they will take it. Items that are stained or broken won’t usually be accepted.

Keep the Memories, not the Clutter– When downsizing, many items can be compressed. For example, photo albums and home movies can be digitized and stored on DVDs or on a hard drive for easy access and storage. If you have a collection of items, like teapots or mugs, consider keeping a few of your favorite items and finding a home for the rest.

Make Your New Space a Home– Senior downsizing is an emotional experience. Take time to appreciate your new space by decorating, organizing, and make sure to have fun with this new chapter. Recreating your new space to feel new or even to look like the home you’ve left can help ease the transition. Showcase your favorite items and remember to be gentle with yourself during this time of transition.

Senior Downsizing Resources

Downsizing comes with unexpected difficulties and obstacles, but fortunately there are many resources to guide you along the way. The resources below offer many suggestions and tips to making your downsizing transition smooth and stress free.
AARP provides a “Home Fit Guide” that takes you through each step of downsizing. From packing lists, tips on hiring a contractor, and resources for home-design, AARP will give you’re the resources you need so nothing is a surprise.
National Association of Senior Move Managers help older adults navigate the emotional and physical nuances that come with downsizing. These managers help with the physical aspects of the move, while also helping you cope with the emotions that come with transitioning out of your home.
Family Caregiver Alliance provides caregivers the resources they need to help support an older adult in their time of transition.

Downsizing Your Responsibilities at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we understand the difficulties that come with downsizing. We help seniors focus on all the time and energy they gain by relinquishing the responsibilities of home ownership. Retirement is meant to be a chance to explore new hobbies, rekindle past interests and find what makes them happy. To learn more about our offerings and how we can help residents cope with their transition, contact us today.

The Importance of Gut Health for Seniors

Seniors should learn more about the importance of gut health as they age.

It’s obvious that maintaining our gut health is important because it helps us absorb nutrients into our bodies, which we need in order to live. But, what isn’t as obvious is the importance of gut health when it comes to other aspects of our well-being. In fact, science suggests that our gut health is inherently linked to our brain health. At any age, it’s not uncommon to experience digestive issues like stomach aches or indigestion. But, as we get older these and other issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas can become common occurrences.

Just as our bodies change with age, so does our gut. Our gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria that play an important part in nutrient absorption and digestion, becomes less diverse the older we get. This can lead to weak digestion and reduced nutrient absorption, ultimately causing abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating. When we experience these gut problems, it’s also a signal that something else in our bodies might need to be addressed.

Importance of Gut Health: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

There are many reasons that your gut might be unhealthy. Food, medicine, and stress can all affect the way our guts work. According to Healthline magazine, there are a lot of ways to tell if your gut might be imbalanced. Here are the top warning signs people with an unhealthy gut experience:

Upset stomach
The most obvious sign of an unhealthy gut or imbalanced microbiome is experiencing stomach disturbances. These can look like bloating and gas or constipation and diarrhea. On the other hand, a balanced gut won’t have problems with digesting and will feel normal.

High sugar diet
If your diet is mostly comprised of highly processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, you run the risk of decreasing the good bacteria in your gut. The problem with sugar is that the more you eat, the more you crave, which can cause you to damage your gut even more. In addition, sugar, especially refined sugar, which we find in processed foods, can cause inflammation resulting in discomfort and even lead to some diseases.

Unintentional weight changes
If you’re experiencing unwanted or unintentional weight loss or gain, it might be because your gut bacteria are imbalanced. An unhealthy gut is unable to absorb the nutrients and fat we need for energy. This can cause weight gain through overeating when our bodies don’t absorb nutrients, or weight loss because of bacterial overgrowth.

Sleep disturbances
Serotonin, which is produced in the gut, is a hormone that affects our sleep. When we have an unhealthy gut, it can result in an imbalance of serotonin, which can lead to insomnia and fatigue.

Skin irritation
Our gut has such a large effect on our body’s health that not understanding the importance of gut health can lead to skin conditions. Diseases like eczema and other skin conditions can be caused by gut inflammation due to an imbalanced diet or food allergies.

Autoimmune conditions
An unhealthy gut has the capacity to increase inflammation all over the body. When this happens long enough, it is thought to alter the way our immune system is supposed to work. This can cause autoimmune disease, which means our bodies attack the immune system instead of harmful bacteria.

Food intolerances
Most people have slight food intolerances, even if they are unaware of them. This means that our bodies have difficulty digesting different foods. If we don’t have the right kinds of bacteria in our gut to process these foods, it can often lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, pain, and nausea.

Importance of Gut Health: Tips for Improving Yours

When we think about important parts of our bodies, we might immediately think of the brain, heart, and lungs. But the truth is that our guts are just as valuable. In fact, some researchers refer to the gut as “the second brain” because of its deep impact on the rest of the body. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your gut healthy and working properly.

Diversify your diet
Our guts are comprised of hundreds of different types of bacteria. In order to keep these helpful bacteria in our guts, it’s important to eat a variety of foods full of different nutrients. We can do this by trying different vegetables, eating food that is grown locally and focus on foods that are in season.

Concentrate on fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens
Our guts need a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, most of which can be found in fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. Not only can we get the nutrients we need, but these foods also decrease the risk of disease-causing bacteria in our gut.

Eat whole grains
Our guts need help growing good bacteria in order to prevent our risk of disease and illness. Whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, and oats help promote the growth of good bacteria while also increasing feelings of fullness and reducing inflammation.

Add more probiotics to your diet
Probiotic foods help aid digestion and reduce inflammation while also generating various vitamins. Some foods high in probiotics include yogurt, cheese, kefir, and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.

The Importance of Gut Health: The Impact on Dementia and Depression

Our guts play a large role in our health and wellbeing, but recent research suggests its impact on our health might be much larger than we thought initially. In fact, a recent study conducted through the Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders suggests that those who have been diagnosed with dementia have a vastly different population of bacteria in their gut when compared to those who have never been diagnosed.

In addition, some studies suggest that the foods we eat can have a tremendous impact on our mental health. Some researchers suggest that an increased intake of high sugar and fatty foods can cause depressive symptoms, while eating a well-balanced diet staves off depressive symptoms.

Exploring a Healthier Lifestyle at Maplewood Senior Living

Maplewood Senior Living takes gut health, and overall health, seriously. That’s why one of our priorities is to offer foods high in nutrients and minerals in order to keep our residents happy and healthy. Every day offers residents a new chance to pursue a healthier lifestyle. If you’d like to hear more about our culinary offerings or to tour our facilities, please contact us here.

Coping With the Loss of a Parent From Long-Term Memory Loss

Learn techniques for coping with the loss of a parent from long-term memory loss.

As your parents age, it’s not uncommon for them to experience forgetfulness, like momentarily misplacing keys or having trouble remembering the date of their next hair appointment. However, some older adults might experience a more severe type of memory loss, which is not a normal part of aging. In fact, nearly 10 to 20 percent of older adults aged 65 and older have been diagnosed with some kind of mild cognitive impairment, while 10 percent are diagnosed with long-term memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s. While experiencing longer memory recall can be a normal part of aging, those who suffer from long-term memory loss often lose the ability to recall memories completely.

Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Memory Loss

The most obvious warning sign of long-term memory loss is when a senior is unable to recall memories from childhood or early adult years. For example, if your loved one is unable to remember where they grew up or the name of their high school or college, it’s important to tell a healthcare provider as soon as you’re able. In addition, here are a few common signs of long-term memory loss to look out for:
• Mixing up words or experiencing difficulty in word recall or describing situations.
• Getting confused or disoriented in highly frequented and familiar places, such as the grocery store or a relative’s house.
• Taking a much longer time to complete basic daily tasks like bathing, cooking, or paying the bills.
• Drastic and sudden changes in behavior and mood. This can often look like agitation, anger, and irritability.

What to Expect After a Long-Term Memory Loss Diagnosis

It’s difficult to watch our parents age, especially when they’ve been diagnosed with a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s. However, it can help reduce stress and agitation when we know what we can expect and how to better care for our parents and ourselves. Here are a few challenges you might face as your parent experiences memory loss.

Daily Challenges- As long-term memory loss progresses, completing daily tasks can become more difficult. This means eating, dressing, and grooming on their own might become challenging and eventually, they might require assistance. If your parent drives, it’s important to monitor their cognitive decline with their doctor and find the right time to discuss other means of getting around.

Safety Risks- Many adults who experience long-term memory loss will also become wander risks. It’s important to make sure support systems, like regular calls and check-ins, are put in place just in case this happens to your parent. In addition, some home appliances can also become dangerous. Forgetting to turn kitchen appliances off, forgetting how to use utensils, or losing balance are not uncommon challenges.

Changes in Communication- As speech delays and word recall worsen, communicating with your parent might become difficult. You might notice your parent struggling to recall vocabulary, repeating himself or herself often, using illogical sentences, or speaking less frequently.

Emotional Challenges- Many older adults are aware of their cognitive decline, especially at the beginning of diagnosis. This can come with a lot of shame and embarrassment, especially when they have to be reminded of certain memories, words, or facts.

How to Care for a Parent with Long-Term Memory Loss

Witnessing a parent suffer from long-term memory loss can be difficult for the whole family, especially for adult children. Knowing how to care for your parent might become a new challenge after a long-term memory loss diagnosis. Here are some things to consider as you decide what kind of care will be the most helpful for your parent.

Memory care communities

As the disease progresses, your parent might ultimately benefit from 24-hour, long-term care. Memory care communities are designed to provide support and care for older adults suffering from memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Memory care is often available as a separate unit in continuing care retirement communities, like Maplewood.

Establishing a new routine

Your parent’s daily life will change as their cognitive function continues to decline. It’s important to establish a regular routine to help decrease confusion and disorientation, while also avoiding too much stimulation and variety. This might mean choosing one or two regular activities for each day, such as crafting or a walk.

Ask for help

Caring for a parent with long-term memory loss can seem like a daunting task. However, it’s important to take inventory of your resources and use them when necessary. Ask for help, consider hiring a caretaker, or see what resources are available in your community.

Coping with Loss of a Parent or Loved One

Many adult children of parents suffering from long-term memory loss experience grief even before the death of their parent. As the disease progresses, it’s normal for adult children to grieve the loss of the parent they knew for their entire lives. Many family members have to learn how to relate to and communicate with their loved one in new ways. Here are a few tips to consider as you continue to nurture a new relationship with your parent.

• Go with the flow- Long-term memory loss can often affect a person’s mood, making each day slightly unpredictable. It’s important to let go of plans and expectations and simply go with the flow. Know that just because you’ve made plans, it might not go exactly how you imagined.

• Set boundaries- Long-term memory loss can affect an entire family, not just the person with the diagnosis. If you are a family member or an adult child, it’s important to take care of yourself by setting boundaries. For example, if your parent becomes agitated during your visit, it’s okay to leave and reschedule for a different time.

• Rethink your responses- As the disease progresses, you might be tempted to encourage your parent to remember something from their past. Or, you might feel upset if they can’t remember your name or who you are. In these moments, it’s best to take a breath and think about how you want to respond, even when in difficult situations.

Finding Support with Long-Term Memory Loss at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how difficult coping with the loss of a parent from long-term memory loss can be. That’s why our communities offer high-quality memory care specifically designed to support both the resident and their family members. If you’re interested in learning more about our memory care offerings, please contact us. We’d be happy to give you a tour of our community and discuss your needs.

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Seniors

Seniors making music with rhythm instruments as musical therapy.

Many adults between the ages of 65 and 85 experience at least one chronic condition such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes. Older adults are also likely to experience changes in their physical and mental capabilities, and often seek medical help to improve their conditions. In addition to seeking the advice of a healthcare provider and making necessary lifestyle changes, there are other therapies available that can be beneficial to seniors. Music and music therapy have been proven to help seniors restore and maintain their health, both physically and mentally.

Music for Everyday Life

Even if you aren’t experiencing illness or disease, there are many benefits music can have just by listening or playing an instrument.

Managing grief
Many music therapists help their clients navigate the recent loss of a loved one by using music as a tool to cope with grief. Many older adults find it helpful to capture the personality of their loved one through their favorite songs, or through those that carry a specific memory. Music therapists encourage clients to listen to these songs throughout the process of grieving to remember a loved one and reflect on the time spent together.

Improving cognitive function
Listening to music daily can also improve how fast we process information. Music teaches us to recognize our emotions, and when we practice this often, processing emotions and information we consume becomes similar to muscle memory.

Encourages socialization
It’s not uncommon for older adults to feel lonely or isolated, especially after the loss of their spouse or friend. However, as we age, socializing with others and maintaining healthy relationships becomes an important part of our well-being. Many older adults find music to be a helpful way to connect with others through dancing, reminiscing over popular music from their younger years, or going to see the symphony or opera.

What are the Effects of Music on Alzheimer’s Patients?

While music has benefits for everyone, recent research suggests that it can especially helpful for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. With the help of music, many Alzheimer’s patients see a boost in brain activity, which can result in the following benefits:

Evokes emotions and memories
According to Neurologist Oliver Sacks, music can evoke emotion even in severe cases of Alzheimer’s. When we experience emotions, oftentimes memories are quick to follow. When we pair everyday activities with music, Alzheimer’s patients are able to recall the memory associated with that activity, which can ultimately improve cognitive function.

Encourages emotional and physical closeness
As Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, many older adults lose their ability to express and share emotions with others. However, through music and rhythm, many ambulatory patients can express themselves through dancing which can lead to other expressions of affection like hugging and smiling.

Improves engagement
When you listen to music, you might find yourself tapping your toes or singing along to the words. You can also find this kind of behavior in those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music has a way of capturing and keeping their attention for a period of time, especially during live performances.

Practicing Music Therapy at Home

You don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits of music. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association compiled a list of ways to practice music therapy in the comfort of your own home. If you are a caregiver or are interested in music yourself, here are few tips for playing with music at home:

Play music that is familiar. When choose what kind of music to play, go with your favorite selections. If you are choosing music for someone else, think back to what they grew up with, or music from the first concert they might have attended. When we play what we know, oftentimes happy memories will come with it, improving your mood and encouraging positive mental health.

Choose continuous music. Keep the distractions to a minimum. While the radio or playing music from an application on your smart phone can be enjoyable, it’s important to try and avoid commercials and frequent disruptions that can cause confusion. You might consider listening to a CD or record instead.

Use music to create the mood you want to experience. Music can be a great way to practice controlling your emotions. For example, if you’ve had a busy or stressful day, you might consider playing slow and calming music to help you think more clearly and slow your breathing. Playing a fast paced song from your childhood could help boost your mood and evoke positive thoughts.

Encourage movement. If you are practicing music therapy with someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, try adding movement while listening. Clapping, tapping your feet, or dancing if possible can help improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow throughout the body.

Avoid sensory overload. For those who have limited cognitive function, loud music and a chaotic environment can be extremely stressful. You might consider starting the music out softly on a low volume and increasing it slowly until you find the appropriate level. In addition, you might consider turning off the television and shutting the windows and doors.

Harnessing the Power of Music

Playing music with someone one can create a very special bond, especially between caregivers and their loved ones. However, for a more interactive approach, you might consider one of these activities to do together.

Make your own music. Playing music can boost your mood while also improving cognitive function and fine motor skills. If you’re able, you might consider bringing a few simple instruments for your loved one with play with. Even strumming a few chords on the guitar can have a powerful affect on your mood. Instruments like the drum or a steel triangle can be fun to play and simple for those who have limited physical abilities.

• Highlight hobbies. As traveling becomes more difficult, it can be a challenge to see live musical performances. If you or a loved one grew up enjoying the symphony or opera, you might consider downloading a live performance and listening at home.

• Sing togetherAs the holiday season approaches, you might consider listening to your favorite Christmas music and singing along. This can be a great way to socialize with others, while also getting in the mood for all of the festivities ahead.

Music at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how much music can benefit our residents. That’s why we incorporate music into the daily lives of our residents in many ways. Whether it is music softly playing in our lobby to create a warm and welcoming ambiance, a local band or musician performing a concert to entertain residents and guests, or a formal music therapy program designed for individuals with dementia, like Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging’s Making Connections through Music program. You can read more about our partnership with Benjamin Rose Institute on Again and this program in our blog, or contact us for more information about our facilities.

Seniors Staying Connected Through Technology Use

Learn how seniors reap the benefits that come with technology use.

Technology is integrated in every part of our lives, from entertainment and news to healthcare and socialization. In fact, technology is so ingrained into our daily lives that seniors who don’t engage in social technology actually run the risk of feeling isolated. However, more and more seniors are beginning to reap the benefits that come with using technology. According to a survey by the Pew Center Research Center on older adults and their use of technology, nearly 60% of older adults go online regularly, and 80% have cell phones.

 Organizations such as the Community Technology Network are beginning to evaluate why older adults choose to use technology and what they find interesting.  Their findings report that many older adults research travel, education, and entertainment, but one of their biggest interests is staying connected to family. As older adults begin to explore using technology as a way to stay connected to their family and friends, these smart phone apps have proven to be helpful.

Apps for Seniors to Stay Connected to Family and Friends

Skype– Designed for both the iPhone and Android, this service allows people to make voice and video calls for free or at a limited cost, depending on location. Instead of talking on the phone to your grandchild who lives in another state, Skype allows you to use the video on your smart phone to have a conversation that feels like you are in the same room.

FaceTime– This application is very similar to Skype, but for iPhone users only. In fact, iPhone users can find this application already installed on their phone and ready to use.

Tapestry– Similar to Facebook, this application allows users to share messages and photos and videos with their families without advertisements or interruptions.

WhatsApp– If you have a family member or friend who lives or travels outside of the country, WhatsApp is a great way to stay connected. Using the phone to call long distance can be extremely expensive. However, WhatsApp users are able to use wireless Internet or data to send messages, share photos, video chat, and voice call without any cost.

While many seniors use technology to stay connected to family and friends, there are other ways to benefit from using a smart phone. As we age, daily exercise is just as important to our health as socializing and connection. However, most adults don’t get their daily dose of movement. In fact, according to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, nearly 67% of the older population remains sedentary for more than 8.5 hours daily. Exercise has been proven to help with arthritis, decrease the risk of heart disease and depression, and improve our quality of life. Fortunately, improvements in technology have made it possible to track our exercise habits and can even make exercising fun.

Exercise and Fitness Apps for Seniors

MyFitnessPal– If you’re interested in making health and fitness a priority for your lifestyle, this app is for you. You can track calories by logging your meals, and keep track of daily exercise and water intake. MyFitnessPal even offers a wide variety of healthy recipes and articles related to health and wellness. The best part of this application is that it is completely free. Of course, you can upgrade for a monthly fee to access more information and offerings.

Yoga Studio– Yoga is a great exercise for older adults, especially because it can help improve balance and flexibility which decreases the risk of falling and helps speed up recovery in the event of an injury. Yoga Studio offers more than 100 yoga videos and meditation from five to 60 minutes long. You can also search classes by ability, focus, and intensity. If you are new to yoga or are just beginning to exercise, make sure you clear it with your doctor first.

SilverSneakers Go– Your favorite exercise class is now available in the comfort of your own home. You can choose from four to 12 week programs focused on strength, walking, and flexibility that can be tailored to your own fitness level. This app is great to use in the winter when it can be difficult to make it to class.

7 Minute Chi– Just like yoga, tai chi can help improve balance and decrease your risk of falling. This app will guide you through each movement and even remind you when (and how) to breathe along with your movements. With just 7 minutes a day, tai chi can help you improve your strength and flexibility.

Flip50– Flip50 is more than just an app. It’s a complete lifestyle guide designed specifically for adults 50 and older. Once you answer a few questions about your current health habits, the app will produce a weekly schedule to help you plan out your meals, exercise, and moments of relaxation. The best part? AARP members can access Flip50 for a discounted price.

While physical activity is an extremely important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially for older adults, mental health should also be a priority. As we age, our cognitive function can become delayed, causing a lapse in memory, or longer information recall. That’s why those in the tech world created online games to improve and sharpen our cognitive skills. The next time you use your phone, try one of these online games to keep your mind sharp.

Apps for Seniors for Mental Alertness and Entertainment

Sudoku– Sudoku is a number puzzle game designed for a single player and is now offered online through its own app. Instead of watching TV in the evening or during down time, try playing Sudoku to keep your mind active.

Grandparent Games– This app was specifically designed to keep grandparents and grandchildren connected through games. Grandparent Games offers a variety of programs that can be filtered by age or interest. This app also uses video and voice connection to you feel close to your grandchild no matter where they live.

AARP Online Games– AARP offers a library of different games designed to strengthen cognitive skills. From chess and card games to puzzles and number challenges, AARP really does have it all.

Technology Use at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living communities are helping residents become more technologically savvy in a variety of ways. Using a variety of apps and digital experiences, unique to Maplewood, residents at every level of care participate in activities and exercise their cognitive skills.

Digital Interactive Programming
From digital interactive education to therapeutic programs to challenging virtual puzzles, our digital programming provides engagement for residents at all levels of cognition.

Live Stream Learning Programs
Residents can enjoy live, interactive educational and entertainment programs being conducted all over the country—from museums to national parks to botanical gardens.

Mobile App
With instant access to community information and a private social network to talk to friends, family, and staff, residents can easily connect with the world around them.

Technology doesn’t have to be intimidating, but we know it can feel that way. Many organizations, such as your local library or Apple store, offer free classes that teach you how to use different technologies like the smart phone or tablet. If you’re interested in learning more about our efforts, please contact us here. We’d love to talk to you about the exciting things happening at our facilities.

A Complete Guide for Managing Holiday Stress

Explore this complete guide to managing holiday stress in a positive way.

The holidays provide perfect opportunities to spend time with loved ones over special meals, while connecting over conversation and laughter. However, as we age the holidays can become difficult. For many older adults, illness or physical and cognitive limitations can make the holiday season stressful and uncomfortable. However, the Alzheimer’s Association compiled a list of tips and suggestions to make the holiday season as enjoyable as possible. Whether you’re a caregiver with a lot on your mind, or an adult child preparing to travel with your aging parent, here’s everything you need to make your holidays easy, fun, and safe.

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Those Dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

It’s not unusual for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to feel a sense of loss during the holidays. Some people living with Alzheimer’s might feel less comfortable in social settings and are prone to withdrawing. As the disease progresses, you might consider altering your holiday plans that works best with your family member living with Alzheimer’s. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Adjust Expectations

As the disease progresses, it’s important to keep your family members educated. Before you get together over the holidays, you might consider sending an email or letter with an update and actions to avoid or encourage. For example, if your loved one can’t remember names or who people are, it can be helpful to let your family members know this who might not be familiar with the disease.

Remember to take on only what you think you can handle. If you usually host a holiday dinner and it seems unmanageable this year, let your family members know and make other arrangements. Also, if you are a family member who is not a caregiver, understand that your holiday traditions may change to accommodate others.

Adapt Gift-Giving

If you celebrate the holidays by giving gifts, remember that some items can be dangerous to those who are living with Alzheimer’s, especially in severe cases. You might consider giving comfortable clothing, music, photo albums, treats, or an identification bracelet, which can also be helpful for the caregiver. If you are shopping for a caregiver, you might consider a gift certificate, housecleaning, or laundry services.

Involve Those with Alzheimer’s in Preparations and Celebrations

Try and keep those with Alzheimer’s engaged in the day’s activities. Giving him or her a task such as helping to prepare food, wrap packages, or decorating the dinner table might make the day more enjoyable.

Managing Holiday Stress When Traveling with Older Adults

As we age, traveling can become more difficult, especially when physical ability becomes more limited. If you plan on traveling for the holidays, either by car or airplane, here are some tips to help get you there safely.

• Plan ahead- When traveling with an older adult, especially if that person has dementia, you want to be prepared ahead of time. Start by planning out each aspect of your trip including flights, transportation, places to eat, and activities you want to do while you are away.

• Recognize warning signs of anxiety- If you’re traveling with someone who lives with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to know the warning signs of anxiety and how to reduce them. Create a plan with the person you’re traveling with so you will all be on the same page.

• Evaluate all options- In the beginning stages of planning, think about all of your options including places to stay and ways to travel. This way, you will be able to identify which way will be the most comfortable and accessible.

• Take advantage of airport security-If you are traveling by airplane, contact your airport beforehand and ask for help with getting through security and to your gate. This will help conserve energy and reduce the risk of falling.

• Choose accommodations carefully- When staying at a hotel, make sure to ask for exactly what you need, such as a walk-in shower or room on the first level. If you are staying with friends and family, it’s important to express your needs beforehand.

• Carry an itinerary- Before your trip, write an itinerary with all of your travel plans, including details about your trip such as flight times and names of hotels. Make copies of the itinerary to give to friends and family members in case they need to contact you.

• Carry medications with you- Make sure you pack all medications and an extra change of clothes in a carry-on bag that you can keep with you in case of emergencies.

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Caregivers

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for caregivers. Routines are often hard to keep, and holiday parties, while fun and exciting, can also cause holiday stress, fatigue and tiredness in older adults. If you are a caregiver, here are a few ways to tend to your physical and mental wellbeing throughout the holiday season.

Find Time for Yourself

You might consider planning for respite care, so you can make time for yourself during the holidays. Respite care is the perfect opportunity to do holiday shopping, or do something you love to do but don’t often have time for during the week.

Manage Holiday Stress

Stress can cause many different physical symptoms like stomach irritation, blurred vision, and high blood pressure. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your healthcare practitioner.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

Take time to get your regular checkups and ask your doctor about anything that might be concerning you. This could include exhaustion, fatigue, stress, or inability to sleep. Pay attention to your body and never ignore your symptoms.

Incorporate Activities That Give You Joy

Many caregivers struggle with making time for the things they love. During this holiday season, try and incorporate holiday activities you love the most. This can help manage stress, while also helping you to enjoy the holidays.

Finding Joy at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season full of joy and happiness. If you’re interested in learning more about how our community can minimize stress for you and your loved one, we encourage you to schedule a tour. It is our goal to help residents find joy and caregivers find support each and every day. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

Regaining Independence: Fall Prevention & Recovery Programs

Senior man who recently experienced a fall that could have been prevented.

As we age, the consequences of falling can become fatal. While falling isn’t a normal part of aging, it remains to be one of the most common causes of injury in older adults. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments and account for over 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths. Fall-related injuries such as head trauma or broken bones can be harder to recover from in old age. However, there is a simple fall prevention program that you can follow to keep you safe and healthy all year long.

Fall Prevention: Causes and Risk Factors

There are many different things that can cause a person to fall. Older adults who are taking several medications might experience dizziness, which can contribute to a fall or loss of balance. Some normal aspects of aging like low vision, loss of hearing, or slower reflexes can also cause falls.

According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists have also linked personal risk factors, such as muscle weakness, balance and gait issues, and a sudden drop of blood pressure to fall-related causes. Older adults who experience foot pain or those who wear unsafe shoes are also at risk for falling. While there are many factors that cause falls, there are also many ways to prevent them.

Fall Prevention Program

The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. While the consequences of falling can be severe, preventing them can be very simple. The Mayo Clinic published a list of simple fall preventative measures every older adult should consider:

Meet with Your Doctor
As you prepare your fall prevention program, it’s important to check-in with your doctor about your current state of health. You should be prepared to discuss what medications you’re currently taking. Many doctors will change your prescription if your medications cause side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. Some types of antidepressants can also increase your risk of falling.

If you’ve experienced a fall before, it’s important to share all of the details with your health care provider. Before your appointment, write down the last time you fell, where you were, and how you fell. Sharing these types of details will allow your doctor to identify fall prevention strategies that will work for your situation.

Wear Safe Shoes
Shoes like high heels, slippers, and shoes without proper tread can cause you to trip, stumble or and fall. Walking only in socks or without proper shoes can also put you at risk for falling as well. Consider switching to sturdy and nonskid shoes to prevent unwanted falls.

Remove Hazards at Home
Many falls happen in the home, usually during the nighttime, especially if you wake up to use the restroom. You should always make sure the space between your bed and the restroom is completely clear in order to reduce your risk of falling in the home. Hallways and corners should also be kept clear, especially from big and bulky furniture.

Install Safe Lighting
As a part of your fall prevention program, you might consider installing safety lights in your home. Place censored lights in your bedroom, hallways, and bathroom so you are able to see in front of you at night or early in the morning. Switches that glow in the dark can be installed in order to find your way more easily.

Use Assistive Devices
Assisted devices such as a cane or walker can help you stay steady while on the move. There are also many devices designed to keep your home a safer place. Handrails can be installed on both sides of the stairways. In addition, a raised toilet seat with arm rests and grab bars for the shower and tub can help keep you safe while completing basic daily tasks.

Fall Prevention: Benefits of Exercise

Strengthening the muscles that promote balance and mobility will decrease your chances of falling. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible will also help reduce your recovery time in the event that you do take a fall. Here are a few exercises, that if done daily can help you prevent falls. According to Dr. Steven Castle, who has conducted extensive research on fall prevention tips, these exercises will help you build muscle, while increasing balance and mobility. As always, consult your healthcare provider before attempting these exercises:

• Partial Squat- To strengthen your legs, slowly bend at the hips and push back as if you were to sit down. You can brace yourself by balancing your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or counter. Rise up to a standing position and straighten your arms.

• Heel Raise- Place your hands on a wall to keep steady. When you feel balanced, raise your heels up so your weight is on the balls on your feet.

• Knee Flexion- While seated in a chair, raise each leg six inches off the ground one at a time. This will help strengthen and increase mobility in your knee.

• Hip Extension- Holding on to a wall or chair, keep your knee straight while slowly raising your leg behind you. This will help strengthen your legs while stretching your hips.

• Hip Abduction- hold onto the back of a chair just as you would during a hip extension. Slowly raise your leg out to the side, away from your opposite leg. Raise your leg as high as you can without leaning towards one side.

Fall Prevention Program at Maplewood

Falls can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. That’s why at Maplewood Senior Living, we’ve created a fall assessment program designed to improve safety, decrease falls, and provide information regarding our resident’s physical mobility and safety needs. This program includes a fall prevention assessment that will be completed at move in, during changes in condition and every six months in order to establish a baseline and provide continued communication on balance, strength, mobility, and safety.

Partnering with skilled therapists, this fall prevention program will prioritize safety and functional mobility, while decreasing the risk of falls. Participants will complete four standardized functional tests approved by Medicare and widely utilized by Physical and Occupation therapists in regular practices. These tests can be performed efficiently in just a few minutes and provide valuable information on the participant’s wellbeing and potential areas of need. In addition to the tests, a risk assessment will also be completed to accurately identify resident’s needs and fall-risk status.

Making Fall Prevention a Priority at Maplewood Senior Living

Together we have the ability to lower the occurrences of falls for our residents and provide the opportunity to enjoy a happier, healthier and more active life. If you’d like to see how we’re working to keep our residents safe, please contact us here. We’d love to give you a tour of our campus and give you a better idea of what it’s like to live at Maplewood Senior Living.