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.

What You Need to Know About Parkinson’s Disease

By definition, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects the area of the brain that controls movement. Brain changes caused by the disease can affect a person’s gait, facial expressions, posture and, as it progresses, can begin to interfere with memory and the ability to make sound judgments. Parkinson’s is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 2% of older adults over the age of 65, accounting for nearly one million cases. The symptoms of Parkinson’s can look different on each person, depending on when the diagnosis occurs within the progression of the disease. However, there are some common symptoms most PD patients experience.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Those with Parkinson’s disease can experience both motor and non-motor symptoms. The first signs of Parkinson’s are often so subtle that they go unnoticed. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms tend to get worse. Here are the most common symptoms according to the Mayo Clinic :

Tremors in the face, legs, arms and hands. Tremors, which usually appear as shaking in the limbs, hands or fingers, are very common among Parkinson’s patients. Some people might experience hand trembling while resting or rubbing between the forefinger and thumb.

Rigidity. Muscle stiffness can occur in any part of the body and become painful if it lasts for long periods of time. Many people who experience rigidity have a limited range of motion and trouble walking.

Slowness. Parkinson’s can cause delayed movements and make basic daily tasks hard to complete. Other symptoms include walking with shorter steps or dragging your feet while walking.

Loss of automatic movements. Unconscious movements such as blinking, smiling and swallowing become more difficult as the disease progresses.

Changes in speech. Some individuals with Parkinson’s disease experience changes in their speech such as hesitation, softness, quickness of speech or slurring words.

Causes and Risk Factors

While researchers are still gathering data on Parkinson’s disease, we do know that there are several factors that increase the risk of developing the disease. Researchers have shown that some specific genetic mutations are directly related to Parkinson’s disease. However, it’s rare to develop these mutations unless the disease is present in many family members. There are also other mutations that increase the risk of PD, but do not directly cause the disease.
In addition, some researchers have suggested that ongoing exposure to toxins, such as herbicides and pesticides can slightly increase the risk of PD. It’s also been proven that older adults, most of whom are diagnosed around the age of 60, are more at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease when compared to younger adults, just as men are more at risk than women.

Related Health Conditions

Those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may experience other health concerns. These issues usually arise after the disease has progressed. These are some of the most common health conditions related to Parkinson’s disease according to the Mayo Clinic:

Dementia

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation , nearly one million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. Of those diagnosed, nearly 50 percent to 80 percent may experience dementia. Most adults who develop dementia are diagnosed 10 years after the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Along with the typical symptoms of PD, some people with Parkinson’s disease dementia have reported changes in memory, muffled speech, visual hallucinations, depression, daytime drowsiness and anxiety.

Depression and Emotional Changes

These are common problems for those in any stage of the disease, especially for those who have been newly diagnosed. Other emotional changes such as fear, anxiety and loss of motivation are common and can be treated with medication.

Sleep Disorders

Those with Parkinson’s disease often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. Rapid eye movement, which involves acting out your dreams, is also common for those with the disease. These sleep disorders can cause fatigue, especially later in the day. Doctors and healthcare providers can prescribe medications to pacify these problems.

Bladder and Constipation

Some people with PD have reported issues with controlling their bladder and having difficulty urinating. Constipation also accompanies Parkinson’s disease due to the slowing of the digestive tract.

Changes in Blood Pressure

It’s not uncommon to feel lightheaded due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Pain

Because of the changes in the brain, PD patients often experience pain. This pain can be felt all over the body or concentrated in certain areas.

Treatment Options

While there is no standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease, there are some treatments designed to help manage the symptoms. Treatments can include medications to manage tremors, stress and sleep problems. Other alternatives, like surgery, is reserved for patients who have trouble managing tremors with medication. Traditionally, exercise and therapies are standard treatment options that help with improving flexibility and balance, while reducing rigidity.
Because there is a lot we do not understand about Parkinson’s disease, there are many clinical trials designed to gather more information. These trials include testing new treatments, such as medications, surgery or therapies on existing PD patients in hopes of creating a new successful treatment option.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Learning how to navigate life as Parkinson’s disease progresses can be difficult. As part of the diagnosis, the biggest challenges can be managing overall health and wellness including managing medication appropriately, getting enough exercise while remaining flexible and managing stress and anxiety. While some people living with the disease may wish to remain at home with a caregiver, other options, like assisted living, can provide additional support and peace of mind for the caretaker. Here are a few ways assisted living communities can help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

Health and Wellness– A medical management team, provided at most assisted living communities, can help control symptoms of PD, while minimizing adverse effects. They can also provide individualized care planning, help with medication administration and provide nutritionally balanced and healthy meals reviewed by a Registered Dietician.
Exercise and Fitness– Exercise can slow down the disease progression and help enhance motor function. Assisted living communities offer daily group exercise classes, individual fitness programs and physical, occupational and speech therapies to help reduce the loss of motor function and increase flexibility.
Managing Stress and Anxiety– Unmanaged stress and anxiety can actually make PD symptoms, like tremors and rigidity, worse. Assisted living communities can help manage stress through psychology and psychiatry services, counseling, music therapy and social programs to connect residents that have similar challenges.

Managing Parkinson’s at Maplewood Senior Living

Because Parkinson’s disease is both a chronic and progressive illness, those who have been diagnosed need high-quality care both physically and emotionally. At Maplewood Senior Living , our assisted living communities are highly skilled in caring for those with Parkinson’s in many ways, such as providing medical attention and offering activities designed to promote physical and mental wellness. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, we would love to connect with you here.

Food and Dementia: Does Diet Reduce the Risk?

While it’s normal to experience occasional forgetfulness as we age, like misplacing our glasses or missing an appointment, memory loss is not a normal part of aging. However, it’s a condition that many older adults experience. In fact, nearly 5 million Americans, aged 65 and older, have been diagnosed with a form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is an overall term used to describe a wide range of medical conditions caused by abnormal brain changes.” Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, accounts for nearly 60-80% of all dementia cases.

While Alzheimer’s and dementia can show up differently in each person, many have problems with short-term memory, remembering appointments and trouble with comprehension, especially when it comes to finances. While we can’t completely eliminate our risk of developing dementia, there are simple things we can do to decrease it. In fact, it can be as simple as eating a healthy diet.

Diet and its Effect on Dementia

It’s been proven that diet can have a profound impact on our overall health, especially as we age. While research is somewhat limited, there are three diets that have been linked to decreasing the risk of dementia.

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

According to the Cleveland Clinic, researchers traditionally thought a high sodium diet resulted in high blood pressure. However, sodium can have a different effect on different people. This prompted further research to study how different diets can impact blood pressure. The DASH diet, which is heavily focused on fruits and vegetables, was found to lower blood pressure significantly. Because heart disease is a common risk factor for dementia, the DASH diet has been encouraged by many researchers as a way to decrease that risk. Those who follow the DASH diet aim to reduce their blood pressure by:

• Eating foods low in fat and cholesterol
• Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts
• Decreasing the amount of red meats, sweets and sugar-based beverages

The Mediterranean Diet

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by abnormal build-up of proteins around our brain cells. The Mediterranean Diet, which includes high levels of antioxidants, can actually protect our brain cells from damage, while also reducing brain inflammation and lowering cholesterol. This diet primarily focuses on fruit, healthy fats, herbs, fish and poultry, while limiting consumption of butter, red meat and salt.

The MIND Diet

This diet is specifically designed to prevent dementia in older adults. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet were combined to create Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND. A study published by Rush University Medical Center showed that, “the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously and by 35% in those who followed it moderately well.” To create the MIND diet, researchers combined elements of both diets and added emphasis on foods that were shown to benefit brain health.

Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers found that older adults, “whose diets most closely resembled the pattern laid out in the MIND diet had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger.” While the MIND diet closely resembles foods found in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, it focuses strictly on foods closely linked to dementia prevention. According to Healthline Magazine, these are the main food types eaten when following the MIND diet:

• Green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach and greens are packed with vitamins A and C and other nutrients. Researchers have suggested that consuming six servings or more provide the greatest benefits.

• All other vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber that are good for overall health. These are recommended in addition to green leafy vegetables.

• Berries- When creating the MIND diet, researchers found that berries in particular are excellent for improving cognitive function and protecting the brain. Researchers suggest eating berries at least twice a week.

• Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and can even lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The MIND diet suggests consuming five servings of nuts per week.

• Olive Oil is a recommended alternative for butter. Studies have shown that olive oil can protect against cognitive decline.

• Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, bread and quinoa should be consumed three times a day when following the MIND diet.

• Fish such as tuna, salmon and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help protect brain function. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet suggests consuming fish once a week.

• Beans are high in fiber and protein, but low in fat and calories. Beans can help you feel full and provide you with nutrients while also keeping your brain sharp.

• Poultry such as chicken and turkey are recommended twice a week.

• Wine- Research shows that red wine can help protect against Alzheimer’s. However, the MIND diet recommends consuming no more than one glass per day.

Healthy Eating Tips for Dementia Prevention

Making drastic changes to your diet can be difficult. If the MIND diet isn’t for you, there are still plenty of ways to use your diet to reduce your risk of dementia. There are certain foods to help prevent dementia that you can consume to help keep your mind healthy. You might consider adopting some of these simple habits to protect your brain without following a strict food plan:

Cut down on sugar
Food and beverages that contain sugar such as soda and refined carbs, can cause our blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, which can inflame the brain. Before eating packaged foods, be sure to read the nutrition label and check for added sugar.

Consume omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats contain docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Omega 3 fats are found in salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. If you prefer not to eat fish, you can supplement with fish oil.

Increase fruits and vegetables
Both fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and can prevent inflammation. While berries are directly linked to brain health, all fruits and vegetables help to protect your body from illness.

Cook at home
When we prepare our own meals, we have control over what ingredients we are using and what we are consuming. While eating at restaurants and picking up take-out can be delicious and convenient, there might be hidden sugar and unhealthy fats.

Drink in moderation
While one glass of wine per day is linked to brain health, overdrinking can raise the risk of memory related diseases.

Preventing Dementia at Maplewood Senior Living

Health is a top priority at Maplewood Senior Living . That’s why each community offers a wide variety of meal and food options to keep our residents physically and mentally healthy. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Making Friends as You Age

There are many opportunities to cultivate friendships in schools, camps and clubs as children and young adults. However, making and maintaining new friendships can become increasingly difficult as we age. This year the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has understandably exacerbated the situation. While many adults experience difficulty in making new friends, the importance of socialization actually increases with age. In fact, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, “Having close social ties is not always considered to be an important health behavior, however, studies have revealed that the effects of close social relationships on health carry the same magnitude comparable to or greater than that of such well-established risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and physical inactivity.”
Both loneliness and social isolation are serious public health concerns that affect many older adults. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that more than one-third of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.  Long-term isolation and loneliness can actually cause a number of negative health issues, such as the increased risk of mortality, depression, cognitive decline, dementia and high blood pressure. However, these risk factors dramatically decrease when we prioritize and nurture healthy relationships and living in a senior living community offers programs to make a big difference

Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Social Life

While socializing with friends feels enjoyable in the moment, these activities actually have lasting positive effects on our health and well-being. Research shows that maintaining an active social life can impact us in many ways:
Live longerAccording to an article published by Harvard’s School of Public Health, people with strong social connections and relationships may live longer than those without. In fact, studies show that those who are isolated face a 50% greater risk of premature death than those with strong connections.
Improve physical and mental health- Engaging with others can help strengthen the immune system, allowing the body to fight off physical illnesses while also decreasing feelings of depression and loneliness.
Lower risk of dementiaStudies have shown that increased social interaction helps prevent feelings of isolation, stress and loneliness, all of which contribute to cognitive decline.
Improve brain function– When we socialize with others, our brains become stimulated, which helps improve our cognitive abilities and keep our brains sharp and agile.
Increase the quality of life– When we have meaningful relationships and friends, we love to spend time with, our lives improve. Friendships can help us find renewed meaning and purpose in life.

The Challenges of Making New Friends

Many older adults find it difficult to make new friends in their later years. One of the most common ways for adults to meet new people and establish friendships is through their workplace. For many retired individuals, the difficulty isn’t in maintaining a relationship, it’s in finding new people to meet. It can be especially challenging for adults who move away after retirement or choose to relocate for parts of the year. Before retirement, many individuals are preoccupied with raising their families, or feel like their social circles are already well established.
However, many individuals in their retirement have more time to commit to meeting new people. According to a study from the University of Kansas, in order to form a friendship, two people have to spend at least 90 hours together. Now that you have the time to invest in new relationships, the next step is to think about what kind of friends you want to have in your life.

Tips for Making New Friends

Finding new friends can feel awkward, especially when you put too much pressure on yourself. The best way to meet new people is to seek out new opportunities. If you’re ready to meet new people, here are a few tips to get you started:

Invest in your acquaintances– It might sound unnatural at first, but you might consider writing down a list of people you know that you would like to know better. Think back to people you volunteer with, your neighbors you don’t know that well or even friends of existing friends. There can be a lot of potential for friendship in people you already know. Once you have a list of these people, invite them over for lunch, play cards or to participate in one of your favorite hobbies. Most people are open to new friendships!

Join clubs for groups with people of similar interests– Think about the friends you already have. Where did you meet them? What do you have in common? More often than not, we make friendships based on commonalities. If you enjoy crafting or gardening, you might consider seeking out new group opportunities in your area such as a gardening club or crafting group.

Join a community center– Recreation centers offer wonderful opportunities to meet new people. Most recreation or senior centers offer group exercise classes, activities and some even host parties. Depending on your location, you might be able to join for free or pay a small fee for membership. If this intimidates you, you might consider inviting a friend or family member to accompany you.

Practice starting conversations– Even if you have plenty of experience with people, starting a conversation can be a bit intimidating. However, if you start the conversation first, more likely than not, you will make the other person feel more comfortable. Unleash your curiosity and ask questions that help you get to know the other person.

Find ways to learn– An active mind is a happy mind! When we find new ways to engage our brains, we strengthen our cognitive functions. Learning is also a great way to meet new people. Most universities offer educational opportunities for older adults such as auditing classes of interest.

Volunteer– Before retirement, you might have felt too busy to volunteer at your favorite charities or for causes close to your heart. However, now might be a great time to volunteer and meet new people while doing it. Choose something you want to do consistently that allows you to come more than one time.

Socializing at Maplewood Senior Living

While making friends in your later years comes with its own set of challenges, Maplewood Senior Living makes it easy for our residents to build friendships with one another. Social outings and various activities occur multiple times a day, giving each resident an opportunity to learn new things while meeting new people. Many of our residents find their social calendars full each day with everything from exercise classes, to movies, or coffee and conversations. To learn more about our offerings, please contact us.

Benefits of Locally Sourced Food

There is nothing like the flavor of a fresh tomato plucked straight out of the garden or the scent of rosemary that’s just been picked. Many of you may have memories of picking fresh vegetables out of your mother’s or grandmother’s garden and carrying them into the kitchen to eat right away or to add to dinner that night. Now with the convenience of supermarkets and the busyness of life – many of us no longer have the time or energy for gardens but the benefits of food coming straight from the farm or farmer’s market can’t be ignored.
By eating and buying local, you are able to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables that are picked at their peak of ripeness and packed with nutrients and flavor. Whereas much of the produce found in grocery stores is picked before it is ripe in order to travel long distances to reach your table. Of course, cutting down on food miles also helps save the environment by reducing emissions and supports local farmers and growers.

Locally Grown Food at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living , we source as much food as we can locally and for our Connecticut communities, some of it comes from our own farm in Easton. You may be wondering, why buy local? Chef Dave Simmonds, Senior Culinary Services Director at Maplewood Senior Living, told us, “Whenever I mention the ‘Farm’ to a resident or potential resident, they instantly want to go and help out. There is no denying that freshly picked food is just better.”
“In fact, I just passed a resident in the hall and she was holding a fresh heirloom tomato that was just picked from her daughter’s garden. She was glowing as she walked down the hall holding the tomato as if it was a the first-place trophy, it was priceless to see and the tomato was beautiful,” said Dave.

When produce does arrive at communities from the farm, residents do get a real thrill. It triggers memories of their gardens growing up and reminds them of digging up fresh potatoes or pulling up carrots. To compliment sourcing food locally, we also create open kitchens in our communities to enhance the experience. Residents can see our chefs at work creating their meals right in front of them. They can smell a piece of fish frying in a pan or hear the chef chopping herbs for a salad.

Inspired Dining at Maplewood Senior Living

As people age, their sense of taste often decreases, which makes eating fresh, flavorful foods even more important. By watching our culinary teams at work, residents are engaged in the process and often talk to the chef about the preparation of the food.
For our residents who have dementia or Alzheimer’s, we offer our Inspired Dining program which allows them to engage in a culinary dining experience that helps them to discover the joy of living in the moment. Inspired Dining is an overall sensory philosophy, which includes the use of purposeful and custom-made scent focusing on enhancing mood and appetite. In line with recommendations from the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association, we serve fresh brightly colored foods on white plates with contrasting colored table linens to help make the food more distinguishable for residents who have difficulty with depth perception, which is very common among those with dementia.

Seasonal, Local Ingredients for Every Meal

Our chefs build relationships with local farmers and producers to plan their weekly menus around what is in season. The chefs in our Connecticut communities not only source produce from our farm in Easton, but additionally from the rest of the state and neighboring New York and Massachusetts. Baggott Family Farms provides everything from cucumbers and squash to corn, peas and peppers and from the Harvest Farm of Whately we get collard greens, kale, Swiss chard and mint. In the fall, Hudson River Fruit in New York provides us with delicious apples and pears.

In our Massachusetts communities, the proximity to the ocean adds another resource, especially on Cape Cod. Our chefs get deliveries of fresh seafood from Chatham Fish and Lobster and everything from lettuce, beets, tomatoes, herbs and squash from Crow Farm. When it comes to local cheeses, we source them from Great Hill Dairy in Marion that has award-winning Blue Cheese. In fact, it placed 8th in the 2018 World Cheese Championships.
Further afield, from Providence, Rhode Island, we source mozzarella, yogurt and ricotta from Narragansett Creamery. This family-run business was started in 2007 by Mark and Pattie Federico and they now produce 14 different kinds of cheese along with yogurt. PJ Cranberry Bogs are located nearby in Sandwich and the fall delivers freshly harvested cranberries, synonymous with Cape Cod, for pies and jelly.

Our Ohio communities, of which there are three, also benefit from the talent of local farmers and producers. Kaiser Pickles is our source for pickles, peppers and relishes. From Waterfields in Cincinnati, we source microgreens and herbs along with edible flowers. The benefits of consuming local honey have not been lost on our culinary teams either. In addition to adding flavor to dishes, eating local honey has soothing properties, it is antibacterial and it can help alleviate seasonal allergies. We source our Ohio honey from Stein’s Honey, a family-owned business started over twenty years ago with two beehives. They now have over 625 hives, produce honey, comb honey, cream honey and beeswax candles.

Enjoy a Fresh, Locally Sourced Menu at Maplewood Senior Living

While it is not always possible to source everything locally, at Maplewood Senior Living, we do our best to source as much as possible from each state or neighboring states. The results of our efforts show in the dishes we create for our residents and their overwhelmingly positive response. To learn more about our commitment to culinary excellence and our Inspired Dining program, please contact us.