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

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

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

Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Memory Loss

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

What to Expect After a Long-Term Memory Loss Diagnosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memory care communities

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

Establishing a new routine

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

Ask for help

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

Coping with Loss of a Parent or Loved One

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Complete Guide for Managing Holiday Stress

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

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

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

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

Adjust Expectations

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

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

Adapt Gift-Giving

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

Involve Those with Alzheimer’s in Preparations and Celebrations

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

Managing Holiday Stress When Traveling with Older Adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Caregivers

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

Find Time for Yourself

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

Manage Holiday Stress

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

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

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

Incorporate Activities That Give You Joy

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

Finding Joy at Maplewood Senior Living

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

Is it Normal Aging? Knowing the Signs of Dementia

Group of seniors with dementia and caregiver playing with puzzle in retirement home

Our bodies go through a lot of changes as we age. Many people notice changes in their physical capabilities, appearances, and even their cognitive abilities as they age. But, not all of these changes are things to worry about. As we get older, we might experience forgetfulness or minor memory loss and mistake them for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Before you worry about these memory diseases, you should be aware of the normal signs of aging and the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Typical Age-Related Changes and Memory Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of aging can actually start as young as 30 years old. The CDC published a list of ways aging can show up in our bodies.

Bones
Our bodies go through a lot of wear and tear throughout our lifetimes. It’s no surprise that our bones shrink, making them more fragile as we get older. The cartilage that protects our joints from rubbing together can start to wear down, causing pain and stiffness.

Heart and Blood Vessels
The arteries and blood vessels that pump blood to our hearts can stiffen with old age, causing our hearts to work harder. This means that physical activities like walking or climbing stairs can become much more difficult.

Muscles
According to the CDC, our muscles mass actually decreases 3-5% every decade after we reach the age of 30. This will cause the muscles to become less toned, and less able to contract and become more rigid.

Bladder and Bowels
Our bladder and bowel’s ability to stretch and then go back can decrease after time. This can cause more trips to the restroom, constipation, and leakage.

Skin
As we age, our skin can lose its elasticity, causing wrinkles and loose skin. A loss of elasticity can also make the skin more prone to bruising, scrapes, and cuts.

Vision
Aging can cause the lens in our eyes to harden, causing far-sightedness and cataracts. Cataracts can cause blurry vision and even blindness. If you sense any changes in your vision, make sure to consult your doctor right away.

Forgetfulness
It’s normal to experience forgetfulness and mild memory loss with aging, especially as our brain’s processing becomes slower. It’s not uncommon to forget appointments, when bills are due, or where you’ve put your eyeglasses. However, there is a difference between the symptoms of normal aging and the signs of dementia.

Common Signs of Dementia

Dementia is an overall term given to diseases and conditions involving severe memory loss. While forgetfulness is an expected part of aging, it can often be confused with the symptoms of dementia related diseases. If you’re having trouble differentiating between age-related forgetfulness and dementia, the NIA has published a list of warning signs.

Normal Aging Memory Loss:

  • Sporadic errors in decision-making
  • Occasionally missing payments on a bill
  • Forgetting which day it is
  • Misplacing common items such as keys or glasses

Signs of Dementia:

  • Making poor judgments most of the time
  • Forgetting to pay bills all of the time
  • Forgetting which day it is and being unable to recall it
  • Trouble with communicating needs or wants
  • Misplacing things and forgetting about them

Factors Influencing Memory Loss

While many older adults are affected by dementia, it’s not the only reason for changes in memory. In fact, memory loss can be attributed to a number of different factors.

Medical
Issues with blood flow, such as tumors and blood clots, can cause infections in the brain. Complications with medications, especially when consuming more than one type, can cause memory loss and confusion.

Emotional
We all go through trying times. But, it’s not uncommon to forget the affect they can have on our physical and mental states. Anxiety, depression, and stress can make us feel more forgetful. These symptoms can mirror those that come with dementia.

Genetics
While dementia and Alzheimer’s can be difficult to predict, researchers suggest that those who have a family history of memory disease are at a higher risk of developing a form of dementia themselves.

Cholesterol
High levels of cholesterol could increase your chances of developing dementia. Researchers suggest eating a balanced diet and discussing your heart-health with your healthcare provider.

Symptoms to Watch For

While the severity of dementia can vary in each person, there are some common symptoms that present themselves in dementia patients. The University of California San Francisco published a list of the most common dementia symptoms:

  • Getting lost even in familiar places
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Changes in personality
  • Inability to express feelings and emotions
  • Change in ability to comprehend
  • Forgetting recent events
  • Change in diet and appetite

Approaching a Loved One About Their Symptoms

Starting a conversation with a loved one about their signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult. If your loved one is showing patterns of behavioral change, knowing how they will react to the conversation can be hard to predict. You might consider some following these tips to help guide your conversation:

Plan how you will start the conversation
Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. You might consider starting with, “I’ve noticed some changes in your behavior and I was wondering if you noticed anything too?”

Start the conversation early
You should have this conversation when you start noticing obvious behavioral changes. Approaching this conversation when your loved one’s cognitive function is at its highest will help you make decisions according to your loved one’s wishes.

Know who should be there
If your loved one is especially close with a family member or friend, you might consider asking them to be a part of the conversation.

Offer your support
This can be a scary time for the whole family. Offering your love and support to your loved one can go a long way.

Finding Support in Your Journey at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating the complexities of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss can be really scary. If you’re still unsure if you’re experiencing the signs of dementia, check out our tip sheet. Our staff and caregivers at all of our Maplewood Senior Living communities strive to give our residents and their families the care and support they need. To learn more about our communities and our wide variety of offerings, schedule a tour or contact us here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Food for Thought

The culinary experience at Maplewood Senior Living is one that will leave your taste buds craving more. Through partnerships with local farms, and our own farm in Easton, Connecticut, we’re able to provide fresh seasonal produce that our chefs use to create delicious meals morning, noon and night. Because of this, our residents enjoy the vibrant tastes of each season and reap the long list of health benefits that come from eating freshly harvested fruits and vegetable.

We sat down with Mary Ellen Greenfield, Corporate Director of Culinary Services, to learn more about the benefits of utilizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients and here is what we learned.

Aside from supporting the local economy, sourcing our foods locally allows for produce to arrive at our communities shortly after being harvested. There are a couple of health benefits that come from reducing transport time. The first is a lowered risk of contamination. As food moves across states or changes hands, the possibility of bacteria exposure increases.

Additionally, the more time that passes between the food being collected and being eaten, the more fruits and vegetables lose valuable nutrients. The best time to eat food is right after it’s picked, when the nutritional value is highest. For that reason, transporting food locally, as opposed to across multiple states, can significantly improve the nutritional value to the consumer.

Fresh produce also taste better, which is important for our residents. Appetites often decrease with age, and yet the need for nutrient-rich food remains. We want to provide the best-tasting dishes that our residents are excited to try. With fresh, tasty ingredients, we can offer delicious options, even for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, who may have limited ability to eat a three-course meal.

At Maplewood, our connection to farms, including our own, means we utilize fresh foods that grow naturally for the season. Flavors are richer and nutrient levels are at their highest. This close connection to the supply allows our culinary team to design recipes around the freshest ingredients.

An example of these unique recipes is shared below from Giovanni Dillard, Chef at Maplewood at Strawberry Hill. This particular summer kale and carrot salad recipe utilizes kale grown at our Maplewood farm in Easton, Connecticut and is favorite among residents.

Kale and Carrot Salad

Ingredients:

1lb Purple kale

1lb Green kale

2c Golden raisins

4c Shredded carrot

2c Light mayonnaise

2tsp Garlic powder

2tsp Apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Chop kale into bit size pieces. Toss shredded carrot, golden raisins, and kale with light mayo.

Lastly season with garlic powder and apple cider vinegar.

Refrigerate till ready to use to let flavors combine.

Download Recipe: Kale and Carrot Salad Recipe

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Unlocking Memories with Music

According to the Mayo Clinic, research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re continually looking for ways to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents in our communities. One unique way we’ve done that is by partnering with the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging (Benjamin Rose).

Benjamin Rose has operated with a mission to “advance support for older adults and caregivers” in Ohio, since 1908. Along with providing resources related to housing and advocacy efforts, Benjamin Rose has a Center for Research and Education focused on the development of programs that improve senior health and wellness.

In 2015, Benjamin Rose received a grant from the Ohio Department of Aging to implement a music and memory program with individuals living at home or in assisted living settings. Through this initial partnership, Maplewood residents in all three Ohio communities received iPod shuffles that contained songs as part of their personalized music playlist. This initial collaboration allowed Maplewood community members to participate, engage and receive the benefit of music. As that program came to a close, the partnership between Benjamin Rose and Maplewood communities was growing stronger.

Connections through Music – A New Approach

In 2017, Benjamin Rose developed a new group music program for individuals with dementia, called Making Connections through Music. This innovative new program is made up of 6 individually themed sessions complete with familiar songs, small instruments, discussion questions, and photos to increase engagement and socialization among group members.

Benjamin Rose has been training group leaders, both staff (at communities like Maplewood) and volunteers, on how to administer the Making Connections through Music program. The leader uses a pre-defined curriculum for six sessions, with the understanding and empowerment to adjust to fit the dynamic of each group.

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