Why Every Older Adult Should Be Crafting

Depending on where you live, this summer could be looking a lot different than you might have anticipated. For many, travel plans and other summer activities have been put on hold. However, this could be a great opportunity to try things you’ve never done before. While many people might not identify as being creative or artistic, there are arts and crafts options for everyone. Not only is crafting a great way to have fun and socialize with others, it also offers a myriad of health benefits. In fact, some experts believe that crafting and other leisure activities can actually reduce the chances of developing a cognitive impairment by up to 50%. In addition, researchers suggest that crafting-related activities can have a positive effect on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Benefits of Crafting-Related Activities

Creative activities, such as arts and crafts, can help boost mental health by stimulating different parts of the brain, depending on the activity. Trying new activities as an older adult can also provide a sense of accomplishment and improve self-esteem. Crafting covers a wide range of activities from knitting and sewing to painting and coloring. No matter the activity, crafting can provide numerous health benefits:

Promotes Socialization
Untreated isolation and loneliness can cause serious health problems in older adults, such as increased cognitive decline and depression. However, arts and crafts activities provide an opportunity to socialize with others, especially if you join a crafting group or club that meets consistently. Socialization, along with exercising your own creativity, can help enhance quality of life.

Acts as a Form of Therapy
As we age, communicating our thoughts and feelings can become difficult, especially if diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Finding new ways of communication becomes increasingly important with age. Participating in arts and crafts is a wonderful way to practice self-expression when traditional communication becomes more difficult.

Increases Physical Health
Many older adults experience a decline in their fine motor skills as they age. We use our fine motor skills each day when we feed ourselves, use our phones, button our shirts or put the key in the door. These activities can become more difficult for a number of reasons. However, the more we practice these skills, the better they become. Arts and crafts activities, such as sewing and knitting, help refine our fine motor skills.

Protects Against Aging
Crafting has the ability to involve many different areas of the brain, which ultimately strengthens memory, processing and problem-solving abilities. The more we provide a stimulating environment for our brains, the more their ability to become flexible and adaptable increases.

Acts as an Anti-Depressant
When we do something pleasurable, our brain releases dopamine which acts as a natural anti-depressant. Whether we’re creating something from nothing, or learning how to work with our hands, dopamine is released and helps to protect us from feelings of depression.

Tips for Crafting with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

Arts and crafts can be beneficial for all who participate, but it can be especially therapeutic for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Keeping the brain stimulated and actively engaging the mind can help slow cognitive decline and increase the overall wellbeing of these individuals. While most arts and crafts activities can be adapted to be appropriate at any ability level, there are some tips you might consider when crafting with those diagnosed with a memory disease.

• While stimulating the brain is good, over-stimulation can cause confusion and anxiety. When leading a crafting activity, keep instructions simple and avoid crafts with many different steps.

• The objective of an arts and crafts activity is to promote enjoyment. When we take the pressure off of achievement, and instead focus on building upon the strengths and abilities we already have, the activity will be much more beneficial to a person’s overall wellbeing.

• If you’re working one-on-one, you might consider tapping into your loved one’s favorite pastimes or incorporate their favorite music into the activity.

• Lastly, keep safety in mind. If you are working with materials that are potentially harmful, keep them out of reach until it’s time to use them. If possible, each participant should be assigned a helper to assist in projects that require more skills.

Crafting Ideas for Older Adults

Choosing a crafting activity can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. These activities are great for beginners and can be adapted to fit any skill or ability level.

Knitting and Crocheting
Both of these activities help improve mood and contribute to overall wellbeing, especially when done in a social setting. In addition, there are many clubs and groups designed just for beginners. If you’re interested in finding an activity to do alone in your spare time, you might consider purchasing beginner level kits that come with guides and instructions. You can find them on Amazon.

Coloring and Painting
Anyone can color! Coloring is a great form of self-expression and is a perfect crafting activity for beginners. Adult coloring books are available in many different styles and provide a gentle guide for those who are new to coloring or don’t know where to begin. If you prefer to craft with paint, there are still many different options. You might consider beginning with a guided painting picture, or unleash your creativity by painting on rocks for your garden or as a gift for a loved one.

Decoupage
This activity allows you to take a normal household item, like shoe-box or food container, and turn it into a work of art. You can use whatever you have at home, such as wrapping paper, scraps of fabric or other items to make it unique and playful. By using your hands to cut and place small items, you can actually improve your fine motor skills.

While all of these activities can be adapted when necessary, here are a few activities that are especially beneficial for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia:

• Collages- This is a great way to help evoke memories while inspiring creativity. You might consider using newspaper clippings, or photographs from major life events to decorate your space.

• Greeting Cards- This activity can be adapted to fit any skill level and can allow your loved one to feel connected to friends and family. Start with pre-cut shapes, photographs or glitter markers to make the cards special and unique.
• Clay Modeling- This is a great way to use fine motor skills while also using your creative side. You can model the clay into certain shapes and dry them to make artistic embellishments to give as gifts to friends and family.

Getting Creative at Maplewood Senior Living

Our residents have been releasing their creative sides in many different ways at our Maplewood Senior Living communities. From rock painting to t-shirt making and quilting, our residents have found many ways to unleash their inner artist. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Why Museums are Important for Seniors

As adults continue to age and enter into their retirement years, there’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of staying busy. Being an active older adult, whether this means going out to dinner with friends or taking a walk each morning, has been linked to decreasing the risk of depression and isolation, while increasing cognitive health. While any type of activity is beneficial, new research suggests that visiting a museum might actually help you live longer.

According to the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University College London found that older adults who visited just one exhibition a year had a 14% lower risk of early mortality. In addition, those who visited exhibitions regularly benefited from a 31% lower risk of early death. Not only can visiting museums promote longevity, it also provides a wide variety of both emotional and physical benefits.

Benefits of Visiting Museums

Whether you prefer art, history, or nature, there truly is a museum for everyone to enjoy. Along with being entertained, especially during winter months, the act of visiting a museum can help stimulate your emotional and cognitive skills. The next time you find yourself at a museum, here’s what you’re doing for yourself without even knowing it:

Nurturing Your Inner Student
No matter your interest or museum of choice, visiting an exhibition allows you to learn something new while exercising your critical thinking skills. All museums require us to be still, interpret what we’re seeing, and reflect on its meaning. At the end of the visit, you walk away knowing more than when you arrived.

Unleashing Your Creative Side
Art museums, in particular, allow us to tap into our creative sides. As we get older, our creative minds can often get neglected. Visiting an art museum is a great way to exercise our inner artist just by looking at what’s in front of us.

Building Your Inner Circle
As we age, the importance of socializing becomes important for our health. Isolation can affect many older adults. Visiting a museum gives us the opportunity to socialize with those around us and provides a common ground for conversation with other museumgoers.

Helping Those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

The benefits of visiting a museum have not been lost on those who care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Museums are even developing specific programs. The American Alliance of Museums highlighted in a piece on “Older Adults and Programming for People with Dementia” some specific programming happening in California. “The Museum of Photographic Arts, in San Diego, CA offers two notable programming initiatives for people with memory loss, and what I find most interesting is their approach to both engagement and assessment.

Tips for Visiting Museums

While making a spur of the moment trip to the museum on a rainy day is a great idea, it can be helpful to do some planning in advance. As you choose which museum you want to visit, you might consider using these simple tips to make your trip more enjoyable.

Call ahead– Before you pack up your car and begin your trip, it’s important to call your museum of choice to check their hours of operation. You might also ask when the busy visiting times are throughout the day in order to avoid crowds.
Utilize audio tours and assistive hearing devices– Many museums offer guided audio tours of their exhibitions for an additional cost. This can enhance your experience, while also allowing you to learn more about what you’re seeing. Check with your museum to see if you need to reserve the audio tour ahead of time.
Book a private tour– Many museums have volunteer docents available to give private tours of the exhibit. Many of these docents study the exhibit ahead of time and are very knowledgeable on the subject matter. Not only can the docents give you an inside look at most exhibits, but they often know more details than what is offered on a brochure or wall description.
Pack water and snacks– If your museum allows you to bring food with you, make sure to take advantage of it. Pack water and your meal or a few snacks with you since you will be walking and standing for long periods of time.
Enjoy with a group– Visiting a museum is a great opportunity for socialization. Invite a few friends or your loved ones to visit with you!

Maplewood Senior Living and Museums

Our Maplewood communities have monthly field trips for residents and a trip to a museum is always a favorite. Delmy Flagg, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Weston told us about a recent trip to the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston. “The residents found a lot of tranquility visiting the bright beautiful gardens at the museum. They also got to appreciate European, Asian, and American art, sculpture, tapestries and decorative arts. We also talked about the art pieces that were stolen in 1990. They were estimated to be $500 million and the $10 million reward that still open for anyone that may have any information about the stolen pieces of art. Varied conversations about the stolen art lead into a discussion on technology and security and residents commented on how quickly technological security has changed in such a short time.” It goes to show how a museum trip prompts conversation and engagement.

No matter where you live, there’s always a museum to visit. If you’re not sure which museums are in your city or community, you can use this museum finder to see museums in your location. Here are a few museums near our Maplewood facilities to get you started.

For our Maplewood communities in Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland documents the history of rock music including notable artists, producers, and engineers who have influenced the music industry throughout the years. Right now, at the museum, you can unleash your inner musician at the Garage exhibit, which features 12 instrument stations and a freestyle jam session room. Once you’re all rocked out, head over to the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall to learn about rock’s earliest artists.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to nearly four million specimens and includes exhibits featuring paleontology, zoology, and archaeology. Now until April, museumgoers can learn about Giganotosaurus, T.Rex’s bigger and badder cousin.

For our Maplewood communities in Connecticut
• Located in New Haven, the Yale University Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of art. From early Italian painting to modern art, this gallery is the place to be for all art enthusiasts. The gallery is free to the public and is currently featuring art by award-winning artist, James Prosek.
• Located in Danbury, the Danbury Museum and Historical Society acquires and preserves the city’s extensive history. The museum highlights historical buildings that would have been demolished if it weren’t for the loyal citizens of Danbury.

For our Maplewood communities in Massachusetts
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston features the incredible art collection of Mrs. Gardner, including pieces by John Singer Sargent and Sandro Botticelli. The Museum also highlights its highly publicized robbery in 1990.

Pursuing Personal Growth at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important continuous learning is for brain function and overall health. That’s why our residents have new and exciting opportunities to learn each day. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or schedule a tour of one of our many communities, please contact us.

The Benefits of Laughing for Seniors

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

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

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

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

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

Explore the Health Benefits of Laughter at Maplewood Senior Living

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

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Seniors

Seniors making music with rhythm instruments as musical therapy.

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

Music for Everyday Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practicing Music Therapy at Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harnessing the Power of Music

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

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

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

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

Music at Maplewood Senior Living

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

Foods That Fight Aging

It’s no surprise that the process of aging changes our bodies in a variety of ways, some of which we can see and others we cannot. However, what most people don’t know, is that as we age our dietary needs change as well. Because of this, many older adults accidentally put themselves at risk of becoming malnourished. Consuming a well-balanced diet helps strengthen the immune system, and ultimately allows our bodies to fight off diseases and illnesses. When we under-nourish our bodies, we can negatively affect its ability to protect us. Understanding what our bodies need can ultimately keep us out of the hospital, and live healthier, longer lives.

How do our Needs and Habits Change?

 Calories and Appetite

It is not uncommon for older adults to eat less as they age. Most older adults might not be as physically active as they were in their younger years, which means they don’t necessarily need to eat as much as they once did. However, undereating can cause a wide variety of health problems.

Food sensitivities can also affect a person’s appetite, making it difficult to consume the appropriate amount of food each day. Some older adults might experience food sensitivities especially to foods like onions, peppers, dairy, and hot spices. If these are causing discomfort or pain after eating, they might need to be eliminated from your diet.

Nutrition Absorption

Even while monitoring your food and nutrition, medications can interfere with the nutrients your body is able to absorb. If you are taking a variety of medications, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about supplements you can add to your diet.

Immune System

Unfortunately, as we age our immune systems can weaken, making our bodies more vulnerable to illness and disease. However, we can strengthen our immune systems by consuming different types of food and nutrients.

Continue reading “Foods That Fight Aging”

Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s

What You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Disease

The month of September is designated as World’s Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just a national problem, it’s a global issue that affects nearly 44 million people worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a memory disease, under the umbrella of dementia, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. As symptoms worsen, Alzheimer’s can ultimately affect a person’s ability to complete basic human tasks like speaking and eating.  The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to rapidly increase in the next 30 years— from 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today to 14 million by 2050. As the threat of the Alzheimer’s epidemic increases, so do campaigns that spread awareness and raise funds devoted to finding a cure. The first step in spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s is to educate people on the causes of the disease.

Contributing Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

While it would be impossible to identify just one cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers and scientists do believe there are a few leading causes of the disease. Some of the causes and factors can’t necessarily be changed, but some of them, like lifestyle and environment, can help inform our daily lives and decrease our chances of being diagnosed. Listed below are the associated causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Age

While most people with Alzheimer’s get diagnosed after the age of 65, 10% of patients are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s between the ages of 30 and 60. Age isn’t directly correlated with the disease, however the risk of being diagnosed doubles every five years after the age of 65.

Family History and Genetics

Adults who have immediate family members with Alzheimer’s disease are more at risk for being diagnosed than compared with families without a history of the disease. Researchers and scientists believe that the risk increases with each family member who has the disease. The reason behind this can possibly be attributed to genetics and environment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, researchers haven’t identified a specific gene known to cause the disease. However, many experts believe that those who carry a form of the APOE gene are more at risk of developing the disease than those who do not.

Environment and Lifestyle

Those who study Alzheimer’s believe there is a connection between the brain and the heart, which can ultimately influence the risk of developing the disease. This means that those who experience high-blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, or heart disease should be aware of the symptoms of the disease and consult with their healthcare provider. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising daily will decrease your risk of heart disease, ultimately decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Brain health is also a factor when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s. Falls and brain trauma are also known to be underlying factors to the disease. Protecting your brain by wearing your seatbelt and decluttering your home to decrease your risk of falling, can help protect you from Alzheimer’s dementia.

Continue reading “Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s”

Sparking Creativity

Each year, with the help of the National Center for Assisted Living, we dedicate one week to celebrate the people and residents who make assisted living special. This year’s theme, “A Spark of Creativity” invites us to explore the role of art in senior communities and the way it encourages communication and self-expression. While there are many different forms of creativity, one of the most common amongst the senior population is art therapy. This type of therapy uses art as a way to address specific conditions, like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, while gaining healing benefits. As art therapy gains popularity within senior living communities, research suggests that there are benefits for many older adults, not only those who are diagnosed with memory disorders.

Benefits of Art therapy for Older Adults

 Serves as an alternative method of communication

 As adults age, nearly 40% will be diagnosed with an age related memory impairment. When memory impairment worsens, many adults will experience a loss of language or difficulty in recalling words and building sentences. This can make communicating with family and loved ones extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. However, art therapy gives these older adults an alternative way to communicate. The techniques used in art therapy stem from parts of the brain that language and communication do not. Not only does this enable self-expression, but it also enables families to connect to their loved one in new ways.

Improves mood

As we age, we can experience a number of changes in our physical abilities. While many older adults experience a loss of memory, others experience a loss of hearing, low vision, or other physical handicaps that can take away one’s autonomy. Oftentimes, this loss of independence can lead to feelings of depression. Art therapy, however, encourages socialization, reduces boredom and leaves older adults feeling accomplished and proud. As an added bonus, many adults find they have true artistic talent!

Advances cognitive abilities

Many older adults, even those who don’t suffer from memory disorders, lose some of their cognitive abilities as they age. Art therapy, while known for its psychological benefits, can actually improve cognition after time. Many art therapy techniques use sensory items, like holding a paintbrush, or squeezing clay, to complete art projects. These repeated movements can encourage the body to remember basic movements and improve their function.

A way to rediscover yourself

Regardless of memory loss or physical handicaps, the foundation of art therapy encourages older adults to connect to their emotions in ways they haven’t already pursued. By using a different part of the brain, art therapy students are able to express their emotions not only through their completed project, but also within the process. Art therapy goes beyond physical artwork and dives into the importance of self-autonomy. As adults lose their independence, art therapy reinforces their individuality by connecting with their emotions and expressing them though art and motion.

Continue reading “Sparking Creativity”

Live-In Home Care Vs. Assisted Living

We have addressed a number of care levels available to seniors in our recent articles – independent living, assisted living, and private duty caregiving. However, to this point, we’ve not yet mentioned “Live-in Home Care.

Live-in home care is a unique care situation where an agency will provide a person to “live” with your loved one. Of course the appeal with any ‘in-home care’ is that the senior is able to remain in their own home, which is something that appeals to a vast majority of seniors. There are also many things to consider with regard to your loved one’s healthcare needs, and if remaining in their home, even with someone living with them, is the best option. Keep in mind, there are usually quite a few ‘rules’ with agencies who provide ‘live-in’ aides. Some of these include: the caregiver must be able to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours per day, they must be able to have a ‘day off’ every so many days, they must be provided a private area in your loved one’s home where they are able to sleep, dress, etc. There may be other rules involved, but this can vary from one home care provider to the next. You’ll also want to inquire as to how you will be billed for this service.

It is also important to ask key questions before bringing a private duty caregiver into your loved one’s home. Do they background check and drug test their aides? Are the aides bonded and insured by the agency? Are they trained in first aid? How long have they worked for the agency? Can they provide names/contact information of families that have used the service in the past? What is the plan if the aide that is living with your loved one becomes ill and can’t work? What happens if the aide gets injured while on your loved one’s property?  Not all states require home care agencies to obtain a license to go in to business, therefore it is important to do your research before hiring this type of service.

Comparing this level of care to assisted living, where you have access to multiple aides around the clock, many of these single-aide concerns go away. And assisted living guidelines require the aforementioned items such as: drug tests, background checks, worker’s compensation to be submitted/provided to all employees.

If you’re considering either one of these levels of care, we would encourage you to read the following article, with advice from our Maplewood Senior Living Medical Director, Dr. Susann Varano. Also weighing in on this subject is Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh, Chief Experience and Memory Care Officer at Inspīr, the newest Maplewood Senior Living project, which is underway in Manhattan.

Click here to read the article in US World and News Report by Elaine K. Howeley.

Continue reading “Live-In Home Care Vs. Assisted Living”

Long Distance Caregiving

You may not have anticipated becoming a long-distance caregiver, but if you are helping a loved one that lives more than an hour away, it is a reality. It can be challenging to know how best to help but don’t panic; there are some steps you can take that will make things easier now and down the road.

Make a Plan

This may seem obvious, but it’s an important first step to take, while everyone is cognitively aware. If you are the caregiver for a parent, ask questions now about their healthcare, medications, doctors and any other information that you might need to assist with later on. Take the time to understand and document any desires they may have for today and for future care. Health situations can change quickly, so having your loved one’s details and wishes documented will relieve stress and make decision-making easier.

Get Help

Although an hour may seem like a long distance for some, the reality is that many adult children are acting as caregivers across states. If so, is it imperative to drop everything and jump on a plane to take care of your loved one? Not necessarily. Sometimes leaving your own family and job may not be feasible, even though you want to make sure your parent or family member is being well cared for. If that is your situation, consider hiring a geriatric care manager.

What is a geriatric care manager?

The National Institute on Aging defines a geriatric care manager this way, “A geriatric care manager, usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics, is a sort of “professional relative” who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.” Simply put, these professionals can help stand-in for your parent even when you’re not there. Whether helping with complex medical concerns or assessing daily physical and emotional needs, these individuals can care for your loved ones and help you stay connected. They also allow loved ones to maintain independence.

 How Can I Find One?

To find a geriatric care manager, reach out to local senior organizations near where your loved one is living and ask for recommendations. You can also check online at https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx.

Consider Assisted Living

If your loved one needs more dedicated care, you can begin the process of choosing an assisted living community even if you’re not close by. While a visit may be necessary at some point, there are a lot of things you can do to begin the process. Before starting your search, understand your budget, and assess the financial feasibility for any community.

Once costs have been determined, narrow the options down from your initial three to five picks. It’s equally important that care needs are considered along with budget. This can be difficult to do if you are unsure of your parent’s current health considerations and is another area where a geriatric care manager is helpful.

Continue reading “Long Distance Caregiving”

Fit & Fabulous

Most of us know by now that exercise and diet are essential for overall wellness. And that doesn’t lessen as we age. In fact, what we now know is that maintaining an exercise routine well past our prime can play a significant role in staying healthy and active longer.

Research suggests benefits of exercise for those with Dementia

According to recent studies on Alzheimer’s and dementia, exercise might do more than we think. Evidence suggests that biochemical changes, created by exercise, can “fertilize” our brain and mend nerve cell health. Although additional research is needed, prioritizing exercise and nutrition in our communities clearly improves the quality of life for all residents, including those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. At Maplewood Senior Living, our focus is on helping residents enjoy a high quality of life which includes staying active and independent.

Along with the attention given to cognitive health, ensuring we maintain balance and strength is essential. When these two components work together, seniors can better avoid falls that may occur from tripping or loss of balance. If a fall were to occur, strength is the best defense against potential injury.

Continue reading “Fit & Fabulous”