Why Couples Choose Continuing Care Retirement Communities

As couples age, they are often faced with deciding where to spend their retirement years. While many couples wish to stay in their family home, there are several benefits of moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community? CCRCs offer Independent Living along with Assisted Living and Memory Care, but also have Skilled Nursing and Short-Term Rehabilitation services. Some even offer Respite Care. What makes it one of the best senior living options for couples is that you can both move in while you can still take advantage of all the lifestyle benefits — from activities and exercise to dining and local attractions. Couples who retire in CCRCs will be able to remain nearby despite their need for different levels of care. While this is helpful for caregivers and family members, there are also many benefits for couples who age together in the same place.

To help you with the process of deciding what your retirement options are we have created a guide, A Couple’s Guide to the Benefits of Living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community. You can get a FREE copy of our guide by clicking HERE

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Benefits of Aging as a Couple
We all age differently and can require different levels of support and care along the way. Often one spouse will require more support than the other, requiring a transition to a different facility out of the home. However, CCRCs offer every level of care, allowing couples to age together. Here are some of the benefits that come for couples who age together:

Physical health. Couples tend to care for each other in a variety of ways. When separated, physical health can deteriorate due to depression and changes in sleeping and eating habits.

Cognitive health. For some couples, long-term separation can lead to feelings of anxiety and loneliness. When gone unaddressed, long-term loneliness can have a profound effect on cognitive health in addition to increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. For those with dementia, separation from a spouse can lead to increased agitation and confusion.

Cost. In addition to physical and emotional benefits, couples who age together are also at a financial advantage. For many aging couples, one spouse will act as the caregiver for the other, especially in cases of dementia and other memory-loss conditions. This can pose a financial benefit compared to having one spouse in residential care and the other living independently at home.

Support. Aging can be difficult for several emotional and physical reasons. Couples who work to take care of one another as they deal with these emotional and physical challenges often feel more supported than those couples who age separately.

Connection. Research suggests that the human touch can alleviate depressive symptoms, reduce pain and stress hormones, and improve immune functions. While maintaining physical touch is possible even for couples who age separately, it’s more accessible for couples who are aging together.

Why Couples Should Consider Continuing Care Retirement Communities
With all the other lifestyle options available, why choose a CCRC? Continuing Care Retirement Communities help provide the key elements needed later in life, including medical care, social activity, and support with basic daily tasks. CCRCs can help with the burden of loss, create friendships, support good health and wellness practices, and lead happier lives. While CCRCs are a great choice for all older adults, they are especially beneficial for couples. Here’s why:

Care You Need
Each person ages differently, and this is just the same for couples. Often quite quickly, one spouse may have different medical needs or be declining more rapidly cognitively. The other spouse finds they suddenly need help.

Levels of Care
In a CCRC, you get a full continuum of care as it is needed. CCRCs provide Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care, in addition to Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. If one spouse wants to participate in a Memory Care program activity while the other, more active spouse heads to the pool for a swim, it is possible because everything is located on one campus.

Peace of Mind
One of the most valuable benefits of living in a CCRC is peace of mind. The worry of home maintenance, shopping, cooking, laundry, activities, declining health and care needs has been eliminated because all the services you need are included as part of your fee.

Lifestyle Benefits of a CCRC
Once the decision is made to live in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, stress and worry are alleviated, and couples will have time to enjoy all the extra benefits of living in the community and surrounding area.

Dining
Imagine waking up, making yourself a cup of coffee or tea, getting dressed, and then walking out your door to get breakfast. This is life in a CCRC. Meals are beautifully prepared for residents every day. Menus include a wide range of delicious dishes — many made with locally sourced ingredients prepared by expert culinary teams.

Programming
Looking to stay active and engaged? Love socializing? Most communities have their activity calendars booked weekly with live entertainment, movies, quiz games, or coffee and conversations. Whatever your interest, you will have plenty to choose from.

Wellness
Keeping fit and healthy both physically and mentally as you age is important to your well-being. Many CCRCs have gyms and pools, and others are located where there is plenty of local walking and cycling trails. Exercise classes and group activities help keep you moving and engaged with fellow residents.

Community
The convenience of having a large community right outside the door to your apartment is quite special. When you want to retreat to your “home” to read or have some quiet time you can, but otherwise, plenty is going on in the community daily, giving you and your spouse ample opportunity to meet new friends and keep engaged. The surrounding local community can offer opportunities for additional community events, clubs, churches, restaurants, and local shopping.

Aging Together at Maplewood Senior Living
CCRCs offer senior living for couples that provides peace of mind by allowing them to receive high-quality care and additional support whenever they need it. This senior living option can also ease any potential future burden on adult children and family members. While it might seem like it’s too early to make a move into a residential community, it’s truly never too soon. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Recognizing Signs of Stroke in Older Adults

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and we want to make sure our families and their loved ones are aware of the signs of a stroke and are prepared to act quickly.

According to the National Institute of Aging, strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and cause more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, which prevents brain tissue from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When this happens, brain cells can die within minutes. Unfortunately, aging disproportionally increases the risk of stroke. The risk for stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55, with nearly three-quarters of all strokes occurring in those over 65. However, knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can help you identify one in yourself and others, and allow you to act quickly if it occurs.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
Getting help quickly in the event of a stroke can lessen brain damage and decrease the risk of stroke-related long-term disabilities. Knowing the signs of a stroke will help you take quick action and may even save a life. Stroke patients have greater potential for recovery when the signs of stroke are recognized within the first three hours of occurring. If you think you or someone else might be having a stroke, remember to act F-A-S-T and look for the following warning signs of a stroke:

Face – Does one side of the face droop? If you think you might be having a stroke, or are noticing symptoms in someone else, ask them to smile or look at your own. Often when a stroke occurs, one side of the face will be uneven or lopsided.

Arm Weakness – Stroke will often affect just one side of the body. Usually, one arm will feel weak or numb. If you or another person is unable to raise both arms, or if one arm drifts downward, it could be a sign of stroke.

Speech – Is speech slurred? If you can’t understand what the person is saying or if you’re having a difficult time speaking, it’s time to move on to the last step. Hurry, every minute counts!

Time – to call 9-1-1. If you or another person experiences one or more of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, it’s time to call for help.

Here are some additional signs of stroke common in both men and women. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, don’t wait to call 9-1-1.

• Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Risks of Stroke in Older Adults
While anyone can have a stroke, certain risk factors increase the chances of experiencing a stroke. For example, those who have a history of stroke in their families or have genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease have a higher risk of developing a stroke than those who don’t. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to understand the risk factors and what you can do to lower the chances of stroke.

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain medical conditions can increase your risk of stroke. If you have any of the following, consider talking with your healthcare provider:

Previous stroke – If you’ve already had a stroke, or a transient ischemic attack, the chances of having another stroke are much higher. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the risk of experiencing a second stroke is highest within the first two days, but you remain vulnerable for up to one year after the first stroke.

High blood pressure – High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke in older adults and can often go unrecognized. Cholesterol can build up in the arteries leading to the brain, which can also contribute to the risk of stroke. Getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, and making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet can help lower your risk of stroke. Those with diabetes are also at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and should consult with their doctor.

Heart disease – Common heart conditions found in older adults, such as coronary artery disease and atrial fibrillation, can also increase the risk of stroke by blocking the oxygen flow to the brain and causing blood clots.

Preventing Stroke in Older Adults
Your lifestyle choices can also impact your risk of developing a stroke. Some habits like eating an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and obesity, and abusing alcohol and tobacco can dramatically increase the risk of having a stroke. However, making small and easy changes that can be implemented each day can help prevent a stroke from occurring. According to the Mayo Clinic, these stroke prevention strategies can help reduce the risk of stroke and help you live a healthier life:

● Control high blood pressure. One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stroke risk is to manage your blood pressure. This can be done by eating a balanced diet and using medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
● Exercise and diet. Eating foods low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated and trans fats, can help reduce build-up in your arteries. Also, a healthy diet should contain five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Exercising regularly can help lower your blood pressure, increase levels of good cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart, all of which can help reduce your risk of stroke.
● Treat sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing for short periods during sleep, can increase your risk of stroke. If you experience symptoms of this disorder, it’s important to consult your doctor.

What Happens After a Stroke?
If a stroke does occur, stroke rehabilitation is designed to help you regain independence and improve your quality of life. While stroke complications vary from person to person, many rehabilitation plans include the following activities:

Physical activities
Stroke rehabilitation can take place just several days after the stroke occurs. The sooner rehabilitation begins, the more likely you are to regain abilities and skills. Some physical activities like motor-skill exercises and mobility training will help you improve muscle strength to help with walking and swallowing. Some mobility aids such as walkers, canes, or wheelchairs can be used to assist in recovery.

Technology-assisted activities
As technology continues to advance, especially within stroke rehabilitation practices, new technology is often used in therapy. Functional electrical stimulation, designed to help stimulate weakened muscles, and wireless technology, used to monitor post-stroke activity, can also be used during stroke rehabilitation.

Cognitive activities
Occupational therapy and speech therapy can help with stroke-related memory loss, speech processing, problem-solving and social skills. Speech therapy is often a part of the rehabilitation process, designed to help you regain lost abilities in speaking, listening, writing, and comprehension. Psychological evaluation and treatment, including counseling, can also be helpful for those adjusting to life after a stroke.

Stroke Support at Maplewood Senior Living
Recovering from a stroke can be a long process. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities are designed to support those who have experienced a stroke in a variety of ways. Our rehabilitation teams and support groups are there to assist those who need it every step of the way. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or want to schedule a tour, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Why It’s Important to Have a Primary Care Physician

We’re all familiar with the adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But, as we get older and our health becomes a bigger priority, the importance of having a primary care physician (PCP) becomes greater. It can contribute to better overall health and even help us live longer. Understanding our own individual needs can become more complex as we age. In fact, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, eight in ten Americans turn to the Internet to look for health information. While the Internet can be helpful, connecting with a primary care physician can ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, and help avoid some of the anxiety that comes with information overload.

No one is better equipped to help us navigate our health as we age than a good primary care doctor. He or she won’t just treat health problems, they can prevent disease by identifying risk factors, manage chronic disease care, and make referrals to medical specialists when needed. PCPs are responsible for providing preventative care, teaching healthy lifestyle choices, and identifying and treating common conditions. By finding and diagnosing problems early, PCPs help us live long and healthy lives.

Importance of Having a Primary Care Physician
In addition to treating illnesses or other medical conditions, here are a few of the benefits you’ll experience from establishing a relationship with a primary care physician.

Familiarity
Establishing a relationship with a primary care physician will allow them to understand your medical history on a deeper level. When your doctor is more familiar with your baseline, changes become more apparent. This will help your PCP provide personalized care and will save you time from having to explain your medical history each time you seek medical care. Further, you’re more likely to feel comfortable disclosing your medical issues to someone you trust will give you high-quality care.

Prevention
Primary care physicians will screen you for illnesses and diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Older adults are at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions that need to be managed with medication or other ongoing programs. Having a good primary care physician ensures that you will be screened for common conditions and have a plan to follow. Primary care physicians will make sure you have medication and immunization refills, which can become more difficult without a PCP.

Care team
Primary care physicians should be one part of your larger care team that together, meets your individual needs. Care teams usually include registered nurses, patient care associates, nurse practitioners, patient access staff, and physicians. Choosing a primary care physician that’s right for you will ensure better quality care and continuity across your care team.

What Does a Primary Care Physician Do?
Primary care providers cover everyday health concerns, give medical advice, and are available to answer questions about infections, chronic conditions, and medicines. By establishing a primary care physician, they will come to understand your current health needs, medical history, your family’s medical history, your treatment preferences, as well as your personality and lifestyle. Because this person will inherently become an integral part of your health, there’s legitimate importance in having a good primary care physician

How to Choose a Primary Care Provider
Finding a primary care physician you like and trust can feel like a daunting task. After all, our PCPs are responsible for helping us navigate health-care-related decisions, treating us, providing education and advice, and managing our overall wellbeing. Whether you’re looking for a new primary care physician or assessing your current one, here are a few things to consider:

● Find doctors in your network. If you have Medicare or another form of health insurance, you can start by finding an in-network doctor to avoid any unnecessary costs. To find a primary care physician within your network, you can do a simple search on the Medicare website or call your patient care advocate for those with other insurance plans.
● Ask your family and friends. Asking those you trust, like your friends and family, to recommend their primary care physician is a great place to start. You can also ask other healthcare professionals to give you information on some of the providers you are considering.
● Evaluate your transportation needs. As we age, finding transportation to doctor’s appointments can take some planning, especially for those who no longer drive themselves. As you search for a primary care physician, it’s important to factor in travel time, distance, and parking circumstances. If it’s too far away, you might consider moving on to your next choice.
● Assess your doctor’s availability. During your search, you might consider looking into your doctor’s office hours and weekend availability. Some practitioners offer telehealth appointments, which will allow you to be assessed by your doctor in the comfort of your own home via video conferencing platforms.
● Evaluate your doctor’s expertise. Primary care physicians can have a wide variety of expertise. For instance, pediatricians, OB-GYNs, and geriatricians are considered PCPs even though their specialties are vastly different. As you look for a PCP, make sure they are specifically trained to deal with your needs.

How to Prepare for Your First Visit
Once you’ve found a doctor that’s right for you, you can start preparing for your first visit. Many experts suggest bringing a list of your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements and noting the dosage. It can also be helpful to bring a family member or close friend with you to the appointment. Your companion can help you remember questions you may have wanted to ask, and take notes during your visit if needed. It’s best to let your companion know how they can help support you before you arrive at the appointment. And, always remember to come to your visit with an open mind. Sharing major life events, stressors, or other changes can help your doctor give you the care you need.

Living Well at Maplewood Senior Living
Maplewood Senior Living facilities offer top-tier medical services to ensure all residents receive the health care they need to live long and healthy lives. Whether you’re searching for a new primary care physician or are interested in learning about your options, our attentive staff will be with you each step of the way. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Importance of Brain Health for Older Adults

Our brains do it all. In addition to managing voluntary and involuntary physical activity, they control our cognitive abilities, like memory and decision-making, which affect — in ways large and small — every moment of our lives. So of course our brains need to be protected, nourished, supported, and treated with the best possible care. Brain health for older adults is especially important.

At Maplewood Senior Living, our communities support brain health and overall health with everything we do. Our goal is to help you live a healthy, independent lifestyle.  We are offering Your Guide to a Healthy Brain, a complimentary guide for great tips and advice for Keeping Your Brain Healthy as You Age.  Download today (click the link) The guide highlights 7 specific areas you can focus on to help improve brain health today.

As we age, certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those that control learning and mental activities. In other brain regions, communication between neurons might not be as effective when compared to the brains of younger adults. While these changes are normal parts of aging, there are steps we can take to maintain our brain health. A healthy diet, hydration, engagement with friends and family, and even how much we sleep can all maintain brain health in older adults. To help, we’ve outlined the different ways you can make small changes that will lead to long-term brain health.

What is Brain Health?
According to the National Institute on Aging, brain health refers to how well a person’s brain functions across several different areas:
● Cognitive ability — how well you think, learn and remember
● Motor function — how well you make and control movements, including balance
● Emotional function — how well you interpret and respond to emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant)
● Tactile function — how well you feel and respond to sensations of touch, including pressure, pain, and temperature
Growing research suggests that making small changes to your daily routine could help you function better for longer. These changes can also help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and other age-related memory loss.

Diet and the Brain
While eating a balanced diet is a great step toward achieving overall health, some researchers have suggested there are specific diets linked to improving brain function. These include:
● Mediterranean diet
● Blue Zone diet
● DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)
● MIND diet

Mediterranean Diet or The Blue Zone Diet
The Mediterranean and Blue Zone diets are similar because they are primarily plant-based. Meat is eaten minimally, 1-2 times a week, and it is suggested to completely avoid added sugar, refined grains, trans fats, processed meats, and highly processed foods. Both diets are inspired by parts of the world that have communities where people eat food in its most natural state, are more active, value social interaction, and tend to live longer. These lifestyles also focus on being less sedentary. Exercise is achieved through walking, chores, gardening, and even harvesting food.

DASH diet
The DASH diet was created to prevent high blood pressure but it offers several health benefits. It mitigates sodium intake — the standard DASH diet encourages 2,300 mg or less per day. The lower sodium DASH diet recommends no more than 1,500 mg per day.

MIND diet
This is a combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is great evidence that diet can improve brain health, potentially lowering cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The MIND diet highlights vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, plant-based meals, and one glass of red wine per day.

Exercise for Brain Health
Recent studies suggest that the activities you do to strengthen your body, heart, and lungs can also improve your brain health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, physical activity can benefit the brain by promoting cardiovascular health, improving blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation, and lower levels of stress hormones. To reap the brain benefits of exercise, experts suggest aiming for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, biking, or swimming.

Mental Stimulation
Practicing new and challenging activities can help you build and preserve cognitive skills and mental acuity. Our brains can learn and grow even as we age, but to do so, they need stimulation. Training our brains includes practicing a new activity each day. According to Harvard Health, “much research has found that creative outlets like painting, learning an instrument, writing, and learning a new language can improve cognitive function.” Here are a few tips to get you started in training your brain:
● Pick one new activity and devote your time and attention to it.
● Sign up for a class. This is a great way to learn the basics of the activity, especially if it requires special skills like reading music or painting.
● Schedule time for your activity. Life can get away from us! It might be helpful to schedule practice time at the start of each week to ensure consistency.

Social Connectivity
Isolation and loneliness can have a deleterious effect on one’s physical and mental health. Research has shown that those who are socially isolated can experience cognitive decline, chronic illness, and depression at higher rates than those who maintain social connections. Volunteering, spending time with grandchildren, joining a club, or even attending an exercise class are all great opportunities for connecting with others. Even speaking with a loved one on the phone or through a video call can help combat isolation and loneliness.

Mental Health and Stress Management
Stress affects our minds and body. Not surprisingly, our brains suffer because of it. Stress raises the level of cortisol in our bodies, which may impair thinking and memory. Stress presents in other nefarious ways: you may drink more, overeat, undereat, eat more of the wrong foods, decide not to exercise. Any of these stress indicators take a toll. All the lifestyle changes we listed above will improve both mental health and stress levels. If you’re suffering from stress, ask your doctor about therapy or medications that may help.
A few de-stressing tips: Be positive. Avoid multi-tasking. Exercise (even a short walk can help). Add music into your daily life. Make sure you laugh regularly. Visit with a friend or family member.

How Maplewood Senior Living Supports Brain Health
At Maplewood Senior Living, our communities support brain health and overall wellness with everything we do. Through our delicious and nutritious dining options, exercise classes, support groups, and robust activity schedule, our goal is to help each resident live a happy, healthy lifestyle. To learn more about the benefits of choosing Maplewood Senior Living or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

What Malnutrition in Seniors Looks Like

When we think of malnutrition in seniors, it’s common to envision an older adult who looks frail and underweight. However, malnutrition doesn’t only happen to those who lack access to healthy foods or suffer from hunger. Malnutrition is widely prevalent in older adults, and because the signs and symptoms can be hidden from others, it often goes unidentified.

Maplewood’s dietician, Maria Gleason, explained how seniors can lose track of what they are eating and its nutritional value, “I feel that malnutrition sneaks up on the elderly. Some causes are related to a decline in a medical condition such as chewing or swallowing difficulties. Because of this, they may eat less protein, such as meat, cheeses, and nuts.  We find they are usually less social, show signs of physical and mental decline which may make food preparation more difficult, especially if they are on their own at home. As people age, they need more nutrients because their bodies are less efficient at using them. Most elderly people eat less which can lead to muscle wasting, which then can lead to falls. They also experience a decrease in taste, smell and appetite which additionally leads to eating less.”

Malnutrition can look different on each individual and can take place in those who are both underweight and overweight. Older adults can become malnourished for several reasons. Some chronic diseases, which are prevalent among older adults, can increase the risk of developing malnutrition. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic conditions can affect our appetite and eating habits, change our metabolism and cause other changes in our dietary needs. Often, it’s a combination of physical, social, and physiological issues that lead to malnutrition, especially in older adults.

Causes of Malnutrition in Older Adults
Malnutrition in seniors is a common yet under-recognized problem. While the causes of malnutrition might seem obvious, it’s a more complex phenomenon than most understand. Malnutrition can be caused and exacerbated by different factors, all of which can harm one’s long-term health. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of malnutrition in seniors include the following:

Age-related changes. As we age we undergo physical changes that can affect appetite. Our senses of taste, smell and hunger levels can decline with age, which reduce the urgency and enjoyment that we normally associate with eating. Activity levels are likely to decrease over time too, which may slow metabolism and overall appetite.
Living alone. Older adults who live alone are more likely to experience feelings of depression, which can cause a lack of appetite. A person who lives alone will more often miss out on the social pleasure of companionship-dining or may become disinterested in preparing food for only themself. Older adults living alone are more likely to lose track of their nutrition and eating habits than those who live in residential communities.
Dental problems. Those with poor dental health might find it painful to chew and swallow, making eating meals a difficult experience.
Dementia. Cognitive issues caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia can make it difficult to remember to replenish food supplies, prepare meals, or even eat.
Interacts with medications. As older adults work to manage chronic conditions or illness through medication, side effects can cause changes in appetite. Some medications can cause problems with absorbing nutrients, contributing to malnutrition.
Restricted diets. Dietary restrictions, such as limiting salt, fat, and sugar, can lead to inadequate eating and malnutrition.

Effects of Malnutrition on the Body
According to the National Council on Aging, malnutrition threatens our overall health. Malnutrition can weaken bones and muscles, which can make everyday tasks feel difficult and even unsafe. Our mobility, posture, and overall strength will decline when we’re malnourished and increase our risk of fall-related injuries.
When our bodies lack proper nutrition, our immune systems suffer. Our nutrition intake can influence how we recover from injury, respond to chemotherapy and fight off illnesses. When we are undernourished, our bodies lack the energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to protect themselves.
Severe malnutrition can also harm our organs and damage their ability to function. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which often accompany malnutrition, can accelerate eye disease that can ultimately lead to vision loss. Those who are malnourished can lose neurons in the brain, which can impair speech, decision-making, and memory.

Monitoring Nutrition and Preventing Malnutrition
For older adults who live alone and without care, malnutrition can be hard to identify without knowing the risk factors. Those who live in assisted living facilities or retirement communities traditionally have access to a wider range of nutritious foods and have staff available to monitor their nutrition. Caregivers and family members should consider the following tips to monitor their loved one’s nutrition and prevent malnourishment:

Monitor weight
Tracking your loved one’s weight will help identify any sudden or drastic changes that might be contributing to malnutrition. Changes in how clothing fits can also indicate weight loss for those who are non-ambulatory.

Observe eating habits
Take time to observe your loved one’s eating habits during meal times. Note which foods your loved one is eating and how much they can consume.

Keep track of medications
You might consider bringing a list of medications and the dosages to a health care provider to see if there might be an interaction causing a change in appetite or nutrition absorption.

Make meals a time for socialization
Those who share meals are much more likely to enjoy their meal and consume it. Older adults in a senior living community — in independent living or an assisted living setting — eat together and participate in social programs that encourage proper nutrition.

Encourage physical activity
In addition to the well-known benefits of increased strength and flexibility, light exercise can help stimulate the appetite. Talk to a health professional about appropriate fitness activities for yourself or a loved one.

Take care of oral health conditions
Addressing dental problems can make mealtimes more enjoyable and decrease the risk of malnutrition. In recent years, it’s been noted that oral health has a significant effect on overall health. In short, take care of your mouth, and your mouth will take care of you.

Improving Nutrition
If you or your loved one struggles with appetite, there are strategies that can help. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats will keep you feeling full and nourished. Using spices and herbs while preparing meals can increase interest in eating and appetite.
It’s important to consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist if you or your loved one feels they might be at risk of malnutrition. These professionals can also recommend safe supplements, like nutrition drinks or vitamins.

Eating Well at Maplewood Senior Living
Maplewood Senior Living communities have dedicated nutritionists and chefs that plan meals using nutrient-dense ingredients, designed to prevent malnutrition in seniors. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Why Cardiovascular Health is Important

Exercise is important at every age but maintaining a consistent exercise routine as we get older can help keep us independent for longer. Studies have suggested that physical activity, such as cardiovascular exercise, is the number one contributor to longevity. In addition to helping us live long and independent lives, exercise, in general, helps maintain weight, reduce the impact of chronic diseases, improve immune and digestive functioning, regulate blood pressure, lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some cancers. Older adults are more at risk of living sedentary lives, especially as they undergo physical changes that might make exercise seem more challenging. However, by making an exercise plan that fits your needs and modifying exercises to fit your abilities, exercise can be a part of your life at every age.

How Much Exercise Does an Older Adult Need?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, physical activity needs to change as we age. Older adults need 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours a week, of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cardio. Just 30 minutes of physical activity can be physically and mentally beneficial for older adults. The guideline also suggests that older adults practice muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week and three days of cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or dancing. As we age, it’s normal to lose muscle mass and bone density, however, physical exercise can help reduce the risk of these conditions.

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise for Older Adults

While all types of physical activity are beneficial for our overall health, cardiovascular exercises have special benefits for older adults. Exercise can help older adults manage their blood pressure, improve bone and joint health and preserve their long-term cognitive function. Here are a few benefits that come with maintaining a consistent cardiovascular exercise practice:

Improved Immune Function. Our immune systems help fight off illnesses and protect us from diseases. A healthy immune system will also help heal our bodies from illnesses more quickly. According to Harvard Health, exercise can promote good circulation, which allows the cells that make up the immune system to move throughout the body more freely and more efficiently.
Enhanced Respiratory and Cardiovascular Function. According to the American Lung Association, regular exercise helps strengthen your lungs and heart. As we exercise, oxygen gets infiltrated into the bloodstream, transporting it to our muscles. As our exercise routines become more consistent, our bodies become more efficient at oxygenating our muscles.
Increased Bone Strength. Just as our muscles respond to exercise by getting stronger, so do our bones. Older adults are more at risk of losing bone density and developing osteoporosis. However, regular cardiovascular exercise can help strengthen our bones and reduce the risk of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis. Exercising for bone strength can also help reduce the risk of falls and decrease the recovery time from a fall-related injury.
Decreased Risk of Chronic Illnesses. According to the Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercise can help decrease the risk of developing a chronic illness and help manage symptoms of an existing illness. Low impact exercises can help improve muscle function for those with lower back pain, while those suffering from arthritis can reduce pain and stiffness through cardiovascular exercises. Also, exercise can help improve the quality of life for those with cancer and lower the risk of dying from breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers.
Improved Gastrointestinal Function. Regular cardiovascular exercise can help boost metabolism, regulate the elimination of waste and encourage overall digestive health. Those suffering from slow digestion and constipation often find relief when implementing a consistent exercise regimen.

Types of Cardiovascular Exercises for Seniors

As our physical abilities change as we age, it’s important to make adaptations in our exercise routines to decrease the risk of injury and promote overall safety. Incorporating cardiovascular exercises into your routine doesn’t have to be as challenging as it sounds. Here are a few cardiovascular exercises that can be added to your fitness routine:

Ballroom Dancing
Dancing in general is a great way to get your heart rate up, build muscle and strengthen bones. Ballroom dancing, however, has become popular among older adults because of its ability to strengthen cognitive function. Remembering steps and the fast-paced movements keep our brains sharp and help with balance and coordination, which can protect us from fall-related injuries.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics classes can help older adults reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise without putting much impact on bones and joints. Practicing aerobic exercises in the pool can provide more resistance to add a strength-training element to this exercise as well.

Swimming

If you prefer independent exercise, as opposed to group activities, swimming laps can be a great alternative. Swimming can help build lung capacity, build endurance, muscle strength, and promote heart health.

Recumbent Biking

Biking is also a low-impact exercise, which is a great activity for older adults. For those who struggle with balance and coordination, or who prefer a safer activity, recumbent bikes can provide all the benefits of traditional cycling without the risk of injury or falling.

Making an Exercise Plan that Fits Your Lifestyle

Establishing an exercise routine can feel challenging, especially for those new to exercise. However, following a few simple steps can make your cardio routine a reality. First, start by choosing an activity that you find interesting, fun, and that will raise your heart rate. Choose the length of your workout, starting with just 20 minutes if you are doing something new or haven’t exercised for some time.

And, lastly, set your workout schedule each week, choosing the days you will exercise and at which time during the day. Sticking to this schedule will help you be consistent and allow you to establish a routine without having to make hard decisions each day. As you get into your routine, you might consider setting goals for yourself such as exercising three days a week or adding a new level of intensity after a month of consistent exercise. As always, it’s important to consult with your doctor before adding a new exercise to your routine or adding levels of intensity.

Keeping Up with Cardio at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important cardiovascular exercise is to the overall health of our residents. Each of our facilities comes with a robust workout and wellness facility that offers group and private classes. To learn more about our facilities or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Power of Pets for People with Dementia

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 50 million people have dementia worldwide. Dementia is a general term used to describe a variety of diseases that impact one’s ability to think and remember, which can interfere with everyday activities. In the later stages, confusion, depression, and anxiety are all common side effects of the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 40% of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, suffer from significant depression.

Some researchers suggest that the biological changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease may intensify a predisposition to depression, which can have a strong effect on the quality of life. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression can lead to worsening cognitive decline, greater disability involving daily living skills, and increased dependence on caregivers.

While there are a variety of ways to treat depression and anxiety, pets have proven to be especially helpful for those with dementia. In addition to pacifying depression-related symptoms, researchers have suggested pets can have the ability to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase the body’s natural mood booster, serotonin. Nursing homes and retirement communities across the nation have started to introduce pet therapy to residents suffering from dementia and other illnesses, finding that the power of pets is more than we might think.

Health Benefits of Owning a Pet for Those with Dementia

Animals make wonderful companions for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Animals have a keen sense of knowing what people need and how to give it to them. In addition to relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety, researchers have also suggested that pet therapy for dementia patients can help them reap many physical and emotional benefits including:

Reduced Agitation
Research has shown that spending time with pets can reduce negative behavioral changes throughout the day. In fact, in addition to releasing endorphins, the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response that has a lasting calming effect.

Improved Nutrition
As we age it’s common for our diet and hunger cues to change. Many older adults struggle to fuel themselves properly, especially for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, some researchers have suggested that spending time with a pet can increase hunger and nutritional intake.

Increase in Physical Engagement
Animals are full of energy and need physical activity throughout the day. Tossing a ball or going on a walk is great for the animal and its companion. Physical activity can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, while also promoting overall health and wellness.

Reduced Feelings of Loneliness
Loneliness among seniors is a public health concern and can be worsened by diseases such as dementia. However, simply petting an animal can provide a soothing presence and companionship that is similar to unconditional love.

Lowered Blood Pressure Levels
The American Heart Association has found that pet-owners, or those who spent time visiting with pets regularly, have less blood pressure and smaller heart rate fluctuations than non-pet owners. Similarly, studies have found that pets can reduce blood pressure and tension.

Comfort and Safety
As dementia progresses, it’s not uncommon for older adults with the disease to feel unsafe or confused, especially during the nighttime. Pets can provide a sense of security for those who experience these feelings or for those who live alone.

What to Know Before Adopting a Pet

People with dementia can benefit greatly from owning a pet. However, as the disease progresses, taking care of a pet can become more difficult. Before you or a loved one with dementia decides to adopt a pet, there are a few things to consider.

Animals can live a long time, so if you’re choosing to adopt a young animal, it’s important to come up with their care plan to ensure they’ll be cared for throughout their lives. It’s also crucial that the person will be able to meet the needs of the animal including veterinarian visits, cleaning up after the animal, and feeding it regularly.

Some people with dementia, and their caregivers, may not be comfortable with interacting with animals. If you are considering adopting a pet on behalf of a friend or family member, make sure to consult with them and their caregiving team beforehand.

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

If you find that you might not be able to commit to owning a pet, many alternatives can still provide you with all the benefits of pet ownership. One popular option, especially for those in the later stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, is purchasing a robotic pet. Some robotic pets, like those from Joy For All Companion Pets, feel and look like real pets. These robotic pets can ease feelings of loneliness without all of the responsibility that comes with caring for a pet.

Pet therapy is also a great alternative, especially for those who live in a residential community, such as Maplewood Senior Living. Many hospitals and long-term care communities partner with organizations to conduct regular visits to patients and residents. While these visits are short, there is evidence that just 15 minutes of bonding with an animal can increase levels of serotonin, which is our body’s natural “feel-good” hormone. Some organizations, such as Therapy Dogs International, will conduct home visits to those who live independently but are still interested in receiving pet therapy visits.

Experience Pet Therapy at Maplewood Senior Living

Pets are great sources of comfort and joy for all, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. While owning a pet comes with its benefits, we realize not all are capable of caring for their pet.

Our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer pet therapy so all residents can receive the many benefits that come with spending time with pets. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

Importance of Eye Health in Seniors

As we age, our bodies undergo physical changes that can impact our quality of life. Vision loss, for example, is common in older adults. Approximately one in three adults over the age of 65 have some form of vision-reducing eye disease. As we age, so does our risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, which can severely damage our eyes and result in vision loss when left untreated. In addition to developing age-related eye conditions, older adults are also more likely to develop other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, all of which can lead to vision impairment. Seniors must take extra precautions to maintain optimum eye health and reduce their risk of developing eye conditions, especially those of which are commonly found in older adults.

Common Eye Conditions in Older Adults

There are certain eye conditions that physicians often look for when consulting with senior patients. Cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma are some of the most common eye-related ailments that arise later in life. While all three can result in vision loss, they affect the eyes in different ways. Here’s how they work, along with a few other common eye conditions:

Cataracts

Our eyes have a clear lens that helps focus light on the retina. When we get older, this lens can become cloudy, which is referred to as a cataract. Most people experience a progressive decrease in vision and might notice using their readers more often, or still, struggle to see even when using corrective lenses.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 24.2 million Americans age 40 and older experience cataracts. Furthermore, nearly half of all Americans have cataracts by the age of 75. While cataracts are the most common cause of visual blindness globally, they are highly treatable and vision loss can usually be corrected through a surgical procedure.

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula and can cause central vision loss. The macula is the center of the retina at the back of the eye that allows us to see colors and fine details. The most common type of macular degeneration, dry form, results in the atrophying of the macula’s cells, which can build up on the retina and cause a slow progression of vision loss. AMD can affect daily activities like cooking, reading, driving and even watching TV. Depending on the case, macular degeneration can be treated with injections, or eye drops and vitamins.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma describes a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. This can result in the loss of peripheral vision, which can be hard to notice in the beginning stages. Many people only notice changes in their vision when the center field of vision becomes impaired. Glaucoma is typically treated with topical eye drops, however, irreversible vision loss can occur if left untreated.

Dry eye

Tears help to protect the surface of the eye and can also provide clear vision. Dry eye occurs when too few tears are produced, resulting in dry and itchy eyes. It’s not uncommon for older adults to develop this condition, especially when taking certain medications or if they live in windy and dry climates. Usually, dry eyes can be treated with artificial tears or prescription drugs.

Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from underlying tissue, which can be caused by a backup of fluid, head or eye trauma, or health problems such as diabetes. If left untreated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.

Importance of Eye Care

Although the risk of developing an eye condition comes with age and can be influenced by family history, there are some things we can start doing now to preserve and improve our eye health. Diet is a key lifestyle factor that can have long-term effects on our ocular health. Eating a balanced diet is good for overall health, but it’s especially good for our eyes. Colorful fruits and vegetables, essential fatty acids, lean red meat, beans and whole grains all contain nutrients and minerals that are good for ocular health.

In addition to our diet, overall lifestyle choices are important factors in maintaining good eye health. For example, quitting smoking can greatly reduce the risk of developing age-related vision problems. Wearing sunglasses, taking breaks while working at the computer or reading a book and checking your blood pressure are all helpful tips to implement into our daily lives. Likewise, exercising each day can help promote good circulation and oxygen intake, which is important for our eyes.

It’s also recommended that those 65 and older have their eyes checked every year. If you are experiencing any symptoms of eye conditions, like blurry vision or slow progressive vision loss, it’s important to consult a doctor right away. Identifying and treating eye conditions quickly can help prevent additional eye damage.

Living with Vision Loss

Some diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration can cause vision loss when left untreated for long periods. However, low vision resources can help with regaining some independence after vision loss. Here are a few tools that can be helpful for those experiencing changes in their vision:

• Magnifiers. A magnifying lens can be mounted in spectacles to form a microscope, which can be used for close-up tasks like writing a letter. Magnifiers can also come as handheld telescopes to help people see longer distances or modified for reading tasks.

• Video magnification. Table-top systems can be used to read magazines and newspapers, while smaller more portable systems are good for reading menus or labels at the grocery store.

With today’s technology advancements, researchers have been able to develop a wide variety of tools that can help make daily tasks easier for those with low-vision. The American Foundation for the Blind has compiled a list of the best low-vision solutions for seniors, which can be found here.

Living with Low Vision at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living Communities are dedicated to providing the tools and solutions that improve the quality of life for all residents, including those who have low-vision. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Senior Sleep: Why It’s So Important

Older adults ages 65 and above need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 1 in 3 older adults fail to meet the minimum requirement of sleep each night. While some older adults might prefer to change their sleeping patterns as they age, such as going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier, the amount of sleep they need doesn’t differ much compared to their younger years. However, there are many different reasons older adults might not be getting adequate sleep. For some, feeling sick, experiencing pain and the increased frequency of urination can affect the overall quality of sleep. As we age, our risk of health problems increases and the medications used to treat these issues can actually interfere with our sleep duration and quality. Although it’s common for older adults to experience changes in their sleep, it’s important to resolve these issues, as sleep is responsible for maintaining many functions of the body.

Importance of Sleep for the Body

We rely on sleep to carry us through the day and give our bodies energy to function properly. Getting adequate rest each night allows our blood pressure to regulate itself, reducing the chances of high blood pressure and other sleep-related conditions. Our mental health is also impacted by sleep. Research suggests a link between lack of sleep and increased risk of depression. In fact, a recent study suggests that sleep is a contributing factor in deaths by suicide. A lack of sleep can also impact our ability to relate to and connect with others. Some studies have even suggested that a person’s emotional empathy, or the ability to recognize and relate to other people’s emotions and expressions, is less when they don’t get enough sleep.

Adequate, high-quality sleep gives our bodies time to repair themselves. In fact, research shows a link between sleep and reducing inflammation in the body. For example, those with gastrointestinal diseases have an increased risk of flare-ups during periods of sleep deprivation. Sleep helps the body regenerate and recover, allowing the body to better fight off infection and illness.

Aging and Sleep Quality

It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience changes in their sleep quality as they age. According to the Sleep Foundation, our body’s “master clock,” located in the brain’s hypothalamus is composed of 20,000 cells that make up the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which controls our circadian rhythms. These circadian rhythms influence our daily cycles, like when we get hungry, tired and when certain hormones are released in the body. As we age, so does our SCN. Deterioration in the function of the SCN can disrupt these rhythms, affecting when we feel tired and alert.

Light serves as one of the most powerful cues in maintaining circadian rhythms. Older adults are less likely to get efficient exposure to sunlight, which can affect the functioning of the SCN and throw off our circadian rhythms. As we age, the body secretes less melatonin, which can also play a role in disrupted sleep.

Common Sleep Issues in Older Adults

It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience sleep issues that result in sleep deprivation or other related side effects. Researchers suggest that more than half of older adults suffer from insomnia. Chronic sleep problems can interfere with our body’s ability to regulate itself, complete daily activities, and decrease our quality of life. According to the Sleep Foundation, common sleep changes with age include:

Pain. Discomfort can cause sleep disturbances including poor quality of sleep or waking up in the middle of the night. This can be especially disruptive for those with chronic pain disorders like arthritis, nerve damage, and lower back pain.
Nighttime urination. Frequent nighttime urination, or nocturia, affects nearly 70% of men and 75% of women above the age of 70. Nighttime urination can disturb sleep patterns and increase the risk of fall-related injuries.
Daytime drowsiness. Excessive daytime sleepiness is often a sign of other underlying sleep issues like sleep apnea. In addition, it can also be a warning sign of cognitive impairment or cardiovascular diseases.
Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when there are pauses in breathing during sleep. This can occur when there is a repeated or partial collapse of the upper airway. Symptoms can include headaches, daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating.
Restless leg syndrome. This causes an urge to move the legs while resting or sleeping and can result in involuntary movements of the legs or feet. Restless leg syndrome can affect 10 to 35% of people over 65, impacting sleep and quality of life.
Insomnia. Those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may suffer from insomnia. Those with insomnia might experience daytime sleepiness or other cognitive impairments related to sleep deprivation.

Sleep Tips for Seniors

There are many ways you can improve your sleep by keeping a bedtime routine, setting yourself up for a restful night, and reevaluating your diet. If you struggle with getting adequate sleep, here are a few places to start:

Establish a bedtime routine
Finding a consistent bedtime routine that works for you will remind your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will help get your body into a routine. Developing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, playing music or meditating can also help you wind down before bed.

Setting up your environment
When we use our bedrooms for more than sleeping, our bodies can get confused when it’s time to rest. Watching TV or using a computer while in bed for long periods of time should be avoided. Make sure to block out noise that might disturb you like turning off the television or using a white noise machine. Keep your bedroom dark and cool as light and heat can cause sleep problems, especially for older adults.

Make healthy choices
Diet can actually play a big role in your quality of sleep. Make sure to limit caffeine, especially later in the day, and avoid alcohol before you go to sleep. Eating a full meal at dinnertime or having a light snack before bedtime will keep you from waking up hungry in the middle of the night. Be sure to cut down on sugary and processed foods as they can pull you out of the deep stages of sleep.

Staying Well Rested at Maplewood Senior Living

Sleep can positively or negatively impact our whole day. At Maplewood Senior Living, we offer meditation and relaxation classes, healthy meal options, and install safe lighting to make sure all residents have what they need for a restful night of sleep. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

How to Connect to Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Do you have someone in your family with dementia or Alzheimer’s?

Like many of us, you may be worried about the best ways to communicate with your loved ones. We’ve put together a list of suggestions of how to connect with someone newly diagnosed or when you visit someone who has been living with the disease for a longer period of time. Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are here to help at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Additionally, we suggest downloading our complimentary  Your Guide to Navigating a Dementia Diagnosis for more information.

Dementia affects nearly 50 million people worldwide, with Alzheimer’s contributing to 60-70% of cases. Receiving a dementia diagnosis can drastically change your plans, impact relationships with your friends and family, and cause you to reevaluate your wishes for your life. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease affect a person’s memory, thinking, orientation and can causes changes in comprehension, language, and judgment. As the disease progresses, many of those living with a diagnosis will rely heavily on support from spouses, family members, or caregivers.

A dementia diagnosis can be extremely difficult to digest for the recipient, but it can also be devastating for friends and community members. As the disease progresses, many people might find it difficult to maintain a connection with a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially in the later stages where memory can be severely impaired. Instead of feeling like you’re watching yourself lose someone you care about, there are ways you can be actively involved in maintaining your connection to them—in a way that works for both you and your loved one.

When Your Loved One Receives a Diagnosis

If your loved one has just received dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the news could come as a surprise—or maybe it’s something you’ve suspected for a while. Regardless, the most helpful thing you can do is to learn about the disease and how to make small, helpful changes in your interactions. As you do your research on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to support your loved one in their diagnosis:

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

The thought of losing the ability to communicate can be devastating for those who have been diagnosed with dementia, especially for those in the early stages. As the disease progresses, it can be tempting to communicate with your loved one. Instead, you might consider implementing these strategies early on:
• Make eye contact, speak clearly and call your loved one by their name
• Talk as you would normally, but make sure to speak more slowly if necessary
• Give your loved one time to respond and avoid completing sentences or talking over them
• Let them speak for themselves, especially when it comes to their health care
• Offer simple choices and options
• Use hand gestures, body language, and rephrase questions when necessary

Act as an advocate

Sharing a diagnosis with a larger community can have its challenges. If your friend is planning on sharing their diagnosis, you might consider asking if they want help telling others and sharing their wishes.

Make time for yourself

Walking through someone’s dementia or Alzheimer’s journey can be emotionally taxing, so it’ important to take time to grieve in your way. Taking some time to explore your hobbies and interests can help rejuvenate your spirit and help you be a support system for your loved one.

Respect boundaries

As friends, we want to take care of our loved ones and support them in any way we can. However, it can be tempting to accidentally overstep boundaries. There can be a tendency to do too much without noticing. This overdoing can make a person feel like they are unable to support themselves or contribute to the friendship. Instead, consider having a conversation with your loved one discussing what help is appreciated and what is not.

Tips for Connecting to Someone with Dementia

As your loved one progresses through the disease, it can sometimes feel like the friendship has changed. When normal activities such as taking walks, going to the movies, or playing cards, become more difficult, you may need some inspiration to maintain the connection. The Family Caregiver Alliance has compiled some of their best tips to stay connected to your loved one as they continue on their journey with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:

• Start with Positivity. Those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can often pick up on body language to convey a message more quickly than words. Setting a positive mood with physical touch, facial expressions, and tone of voice will help communicate your message and feelings of affection.

• Limit Distractions. Competing sounds and noises, like loud music or television, can add to the confusion for those with dementia. You might consider turning off these distractions or move to a quieter setting. As the disease progresses, you may need to identify yourself by your name and relation, address your loved one by their name and maintain eye contact.

• Be Mindful When You Ask to Visit. Many of those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s have good and bad times during the day, especially for those who experience sundowning. Before your visit, ask their caregiver which time of day is best for your loved one and schedule the visit around their preferences.

• Ask Simple Questions. Ask your questions one at a time, leaving space for them to answer. Giving and showing options instead of asking open-ended questions can also be helpful, especially if you’re asking them to choose between multiple items.

• Adapt Activities. When you’re no longer able to do things you normally would do together, you may need to adapt. For example, if you’re used to going on walks with your loved one, you might consider sitting outdoors or bringing elements of the outdoors inside, like a vase of flowers. Even talking about the good old days’ can bring back memories and spark conversation. Listening to music is also shown to be especially comforting for those with the disease.

• Respond with Empathy. People with dementia will often feel confused, forgetful, and unsure. Instead of correcting them when they recall memories incorrectly or repeat themselves, respond with compassion. Stay focused on the emotion they are trying to convey and respond accordingly.

Living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support and therapy groups to those who have been affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These groups can be a great opportunity to learn how to support and connect to a loved one’s diagnosis. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.