Remember to Laugh

Our expert, caring staff is the HEART of our community.
The HEART™ philosophy is a cornerstone of Maplewood Senior Living and is a main focus of how we train our staff to provide the best care we can for our residents. We believe that being in the moment with our residents, is what it often comes down to and our exclusive relationship-driven HEART™approach allows us to do just that.

Giving our staff the green light to joke and use HUMOR with our residents to create moments of laughter, joy and levity to otherwise challenging situations is empowering. Having EMPATHY for our residents due to their diagnosis and the sometimes challenging situations that they face on a daily basis, helps to keep us grounded as Maplewood Senior Living team members. Giving the residents the AUTONOMY to do as much as possible for themselves allows staff members to help them in a way that is dignified and RESPECTFUL. Gaining the TRUST by building emotional bonds with residents through the heart philosophy, rounds out the mindset of creating an environment of supported independence for those that call our Maplewood Senior Living communities home.

While all of these points are key components of providing the very best emotion-based experience to the residents we serve – humor is a key ingredient of this philosophy- reminding us all to laugh.

Rolling laughter in to everyday care situations is key to friendly, productive interactions, and lightened moods. Benefits are felt between team members and residents, as the health benefits of laughter are many, see some of the examples we’ve found below…

  • We stretch muscles throughout our face and body when we laugh
  • Our pulse and blood pressure go up when we laugh
  • We breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues when we laugh
  • It’s like a mild workout – boosting heart rate
  • 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn 50 calories
  • Some studies have found that better sleep is achieved after watching a round of comedies

William Fry, a pioneer in laughter research, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.

comic strip

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Tech Savvy Seniors

The use of technology has grown tremendously among the senior population in recent years.  More and more seniors are using smart phones, tablets and computers to stay informed, connect with others and even shop.

According to widely known Eden Alternative, common concerns amongst our elder population have been that they become bored, lonely and have a general feeling of helplessness. Advances in technology have provided many avenues to combat these issues have proven to be a true blessing for many senior community residents.

Maplewood Senior Living prides itself in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. We recently sat down with Brian Geyser, Chief Clinical Officer, for Maplewood Senior Living. Brian leads our resident care programs, population health and technology initiatives.

Here, Brian answers some questions about how technology is used at Maplewood Senior Living.

Q: How does Maplewood Senior Living use technology to improve the lives of residents?

A: Our entire suite of tech products are specifically designed to make our residents lives more enjoyable. Residents have easy access to information, entertainment, care and opportunities to engage through the use of technology.

Q: What types of technology are included in this “suite of products”?

A: Our products include everything from virtual reality to hearing amplification products to high-tech fall risk sensors to educational tools. With this combination, we’ve achieved our purpose: to keep our residents safe, healthy and happy.

Q: Where will residents interact with technology?

A: The simple answer is: everywhere. Residents utilize technology to call for assistance throughout the community. Residents with hearing impairments are able to use noise-canceling headsets to improve programming experiences and social experiences. Virtual reality is used within the program schedule to treat our residents to excursions around the globe, to give them the opportunities to “interact” with animals, and to see and learn new things. New technology is always being added. We never stop searching for new ways to engage and assist our residents, and in this day and age, the possibilities are endless.

Q: How do your technology efforts keep the residents socially active?

A: Social engagement is one of the elements that forms the foundation of our life enrichment and wellness programs, and it’s critical for the overall health and happiness of our residents. That includes our VR Global Travel program and our virtual reality experiences, which will allow our residents travel the world (virtually) without ever leaving home. And our digital interactive programming and live stream learning programs support engagement with a variety of interactive shows and activities.

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Blending Style and Safety

Blending Style and Safety

Whether buying a first home or moving into a new apartment, there is an important connection we make between where we live and what our spaces look like. Maplewood Senior Living is designed with that connection in mind, offering an essential feeling of home for the residents in our communities. At the same time, we develop our communities to be safe, from the dining rooms to the hallways to the courtyards. It’s all in the details, when it comes to blending style and safety.

A few key areas to focus on when touring a senior community:

Exterior/Entry ways

 These should be easily accessible to accommodate all. Large entry ways also make it easier to move furniture in for your loved one. Bright, well-lit entrance areas should allow for greater visibility of sidewalk and flooring transitions.

Windows

 If operational, should be limited to the opening that is provided for the safety and security of the residents in the community. This is something that should be considered in both private, apartment spaces, but also in common areas.

Grab bars

 Not always stylish, but always an added safety mechanism, grab bars go a long way to prevent falls. Installing these as towel bars allows you to have the security necessary, while still providing the functionality of the towel bar.

Bathrooms

 Modern bathrooms with ample open space around the toilet and shower entry, as well as zero-entry shower areas have grown in popularity. The advantage of this style is also its ability to accommodate staff members as well as the resident if/when the need arises. Doors that swing in to a bathroom can limit access by staff or emergency personnel, if the need arises. Barn style or pocket doors offer a great alternative and add a bit of style.                 

Outside Areas

 Patios, courtyards or other outdoor gathering spaces should allow for easy transitions. Residents may need to use canes, walkers or wheelchairs, and outdoor spaces should be accessible regardless of these needs. Relief from direct sun should also be available to keep residents safe in hot, sunny weather – covered porches, gazebos and umbrellas provide alternatives to stay out of the direct sun.

We’ve included a few snapshots of our communities to illustrate some of these key points. Enjoy the photo tour!

 

 

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Together, But Separate

You’ve reached the point that your loved one has moved into a memory care community, or will need to soon. You know its best, but all the feelings you have make you doubt yourself. This adjustment will take time for both of you. Know that up front. Your husband/wife will not (in most cases) be 100% comfortable in their new surroundings immediately. Sure, some may ‘transition’ easier than others, but for many, this can take at least a month or two for your loved one to feel comfortable.

You’ll also find yourself feeling alone. You may have had visitors in and out of your home to help support you and your spouse while he/she was still living with you. These people may not come around as much. This may be OK. Or, this may cause you to be lonely or to grieve. Make your concerns known to family and friends. Let them know if you still need help or assistance. Maybe you would just feel better with a weekly check in or phone call. Remember your friends and family are likely trying to give you space and may assume that you want to be left alone after all the hard work you were doing for so long.

Identify what overwhelms you the most about being alone. Is it the quiet house? Is it the lack of purpose you feel now that you are no longer caring for your loved one?  Is it that your daily routine has totally changed now that you’re on your own? Enlist a friend to help you find services that might relieve you of these concerns. Make a point to find groups that you might choose to join for social engagement, spiritual support or general interest. Ask a friend or family member to help you with financial concerns, or speak with a financial advisor. Make and plan meals in advance, freezing extra for future meal preparation. Or look into a meal delivery service. Talk to a landscaper about handling the grass and shoveling snow. Many of the things that can overcome you at first, are easily navigated. It will get easier with time.

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Successful Transition to Senior Living

For many families, choosing the best Senior Living Community for their loved ones is just the beginning of a big change. Long before our staff welcomes someone into our community, families will be preparing for the move. We recognize this adjustment can be difficult for our residents and their families and we’ve compiled some helpful tips you can use as you begin the process.

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Gardening – Benefits to Health & Well-Being

It’s that time of year. Growing season is upon us, and aside from the actual fruits of your labor, there are multiple health benefits to gardening.

Get Outside and Get Your Vitamin D

A 2014 Italian study, published on the National Institutes of Health website, found that exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate serum vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is needed to maintain healthy bones. Outdoor activities, such as gardening, drive folks outside to soak up the sun, and thereby increase their vitamin D levels. So get out there, and enjoy the added health benefit of increasing this much needed vitamin, which will have lasting effects on your health. Just remember to pack your sunscreen!

Lower Risk of Dementia

Studies have also found that gardening could lower the risk of dementia by 36%. Researchers tracked just under 3,000 people over the age of 60 for 16 years and concluded that physical activity, particularly gardening, could reduce the incidence of dementia in future years.

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Benefits of Inter-generational Programming and Volunteering

Laura Carstensen, a Stanford psychology professor and Director of the Stanford Center for Longevity, said, “Contrary to widespread beliefs that older populations consume resources that would otherwise go to youth, there is growing reason to think that older people may be just the resource children need.”

Carstensen’s prior research has found that as people age, their brains actually improve in many ways, including in complex problem-solving and emotional skills. “It is a huge loss for society not to offer such counsel and experience to others, especially young people,” she said.

The aging population has “distinctive qualities to meet the needs of youth,” she and her co-authors wrote. “Older adults are exceptionally suited to meet these needs in part because they welcome meaningful, productive activity and engagement. They seek – and need – purpose in their lives.”

As for older adults, Carsten’s report pointed out, they benefit as well, experiencing emotional satisfaction in relationships with young people. One way to achieve such contact is through volunteer service, which is associated with better physical health and cognitive performance for aging people. From a societal view, these interactions are positive, too.

“Focusing volunteer efforts on young people improve their (young people’s) chances of success in life,” Carstensen said. “These mutual benefits are perhaps the most compelling reason for programs that connect young and old.”

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Overcoming Hearing Loss with Technology

Engagement plays an essential role in our quality of life, whether it’s one-on-one or in larger settings. However, with aging, this may become harder to do as the ability to hear and see diminishes. Hearing loss and impairment affects millions of Americans, with estimates as high as 30% of adults over 65, and a dramatic 70% of adults 85 and up are affected.

Hearing impairment impacts overall health significantly. Imagine trying to participate in your favorite activity without the ability to hear. You would suddenly feel disoriented as you tried to understand what others were saying. Even following simple instructions for an activity would become difficult. This limitation could easily cause embarrassment and confusion. Which means soon, you might stop participating all together, leading to an emotional disconnection and eventually, isolation. The tendency to withdraw when faced with hearing impairment can quickly lead to a decline in an individual’s overall physical and emotional health.

Recently, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published information from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that looked at 2,000 adults aged 50 and older. They found those who began using hearing aids to combat hearing loss experienced a decline of cognitive deterioration by 75%. These staggering numbers lead some to believe that adults who may have been diagnosed with dementia could, in fact, be dealing with hearing loss. Fortunately, as technology grows, so does the opportunity to overcome these limitations.

One such advancement we use at Maplewood Senior Living is Eversound. Eversound is a unique headphone system that connects directly to any audio source, while at the same time minimizing exterior noise that can be distracting or confusing.

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Approach to Care

Living with, supporting and caring for a person with a dementia diagnosis can be very challenging, particularly if your loved one begins acting out or becomes aggressive or agitated while you are caring for them. One of the biggest questions that arises for a caregiver in these situations is “why?”  “Why are they upset?” “Why are they acting this way?” “Why can’t they sleep?” Why, why, why.

Obviously being in the role of caregiver can become very stressful, especially when you can’t be certain what is needed to help your loved one feel better, sleep, eat or just relax. While it can be challenging at times as the caregiver, the best thing you can do is try to understand what is causing the behavior. Continue reading “Approach to Care”

Locally Sourced Foods

Here at Maplewood Senior Living, food is one of our priorities and for good reason. The research is clear when it comes to brain health; what you eat matters.

Reaping the Benefits of the MIND Diet

There’s a fundamental reason that we choose to work with local purveyors. At Maplewood Senior Living, our memory care focus means we follow the latest research in the field and incorporate whatever we can to improve our residents’ quality of life. One such study in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia confirmed the vital role played by diet and nutrition, and introduced the MIND diet.

The MIND diet was developed by nutritional epidemiologist, Martha Clare Morris, at Rush University Medical Center through a study that was funded by the National Institute on Aging.  MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and it has many similarities to the Mediterranean diet.

With the MIND diet as a guide to our Maplewood cuisine, we focus on the key tenets which include eating the following foods regularly:

  • Vegetables
  • Green leafy vegetables in particular
  • Berries, especially blueberries
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil

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