What Malnutrition in Seniors Looks Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power of Pets for People with Dementia

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

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

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

Health Benefits of Owning a Pet for Those with Dementia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Know Before Adopting a Pet

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

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

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

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

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

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

Experience Pet Therapy at Maplewood Senior Living

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

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

Importance of Eye Health in Seniors

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

Common Eye Conditions in Older Adults

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

Cataracts

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

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

Macular Degeneration

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

Glaucoma

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

Dry eye

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

Retinal detachment

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

Importance of Eye Care

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

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

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

Living with Vision Loss

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

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

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

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

Living with Low Vision at Maplewood Senior Living

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

Senior Sleep: Why It’s So Important

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

Importance of Sleep for the Body

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

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

Aging and Sleep Quality

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

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

Common Sleep Issues in Older Adults

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

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

Sleep Tips for Seniors

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

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

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

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

Staying Well Rested at Maplewood Senior Living

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

How to Connect to Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

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

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

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

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

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

When Your Loved One Receives a Diagnosis

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

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

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

Act as an advocate

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

Make time for yourself

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

Respect boundaries

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

Tips for Connecting to Someone with Dementia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s at Maplewood Senior Living

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

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease

Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? Below, we outline some of the symptoms, the 5 stages, causes, and risk factors. To additionally help you during this difficult time of a recent diagnosis, we encourage you to download our complimentary Parkinson’s Disease Guide to help you through your journey.

Nearly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year and approximately 10 million people worldwide live with the disease today. By 2030, almost 1.2 million Americans will be diagnosed with PD.

According to the Mayo Clinic, PD is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. While symptoms look different for each individual, the disease can often go unnoticed in the beginning stages. PD can start with a gradual tremor in one hand, but as the disease progresses, symptoms can begin to affect both sides of the body.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Those with PD can experience both motor and non-motor symptoms. As the disease progresses, some individuals experience tremors in the face, legs, arms, and hands. It’s not uncommon for adults to experience hand trembling while resting or have the tendency to rub between the forefinger and thumb. Rigidity is also a common symptom of the disease, resulting in muscle stiffness, which can limit the range of motion and become painful, especially if it lasts for long periods of time. PD can cause delayed movements in speech and gait, such as walking with shorter steps or dragging your feet while walking. Speech can also come across with hesitation, softness, or slurring words. Many of these symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical called dopamine. When these levels become too high, it can cause abnormal brain activity. While the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, there are some factors that can increase the risk of developing the disease later on.

Causes and Risk Factors

While researchers are continuing to study the disease to determine a cause, there are some factors that play a role in the development of PD. According to Hopkins Medicine, there are a few risk factors that can contribute to Parkinson’s disease:

Genes: There has been evidence of specific genetic mutations directly relating to PD but it is rare to develop them unless PD is present in many family members.
Environmental Triggers: It is possible that some toxins or environmental factors could contribute to getting PD. An exposure to chemicals used in farming, such as herbicides or pesticides; working with metals, solvents, and detergents could also contribute. While these may trigger PD, it is not believed they cause PD.
Lewy Bodies: Microscopic markers of PD in brain cells are called Lewy bodies. It is believed they hold an important clue to the cause of PD.
Age: It is rare for young adults to be diagnosed with PD. On average it develops mid to late in life around age 60 or older.
Heredity: While your risk may increase if you have a close relative with the PD, the risks are actually still quite small unless many relatives in your family have the disease.
Sex: Men tend to develop Parkinson’s disease more than women. In fact, one study suggests that men have a 1.5 times greater risk of developing the disease compared to women.
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What are the 5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease?

The stages of PD may vary from person to person. The stages listed below are a guideline of what one might experience; however, everyone experiences symptoms differently. Other concurring illnesses or environmental factors may impact progression.

Stage One: Mild symptoms tend not to interfere with daily activities. A person may start to show subtle changes in posture, walking and/or facial expressions.

Stage Two: While the person may still be capable of living alone, symptoms will begin to progress. They may experience tremors, rigidity, and other movement symptoms on both sides of their body.

Stage Three: This is considered to be mid-stage. Individuals may experience a movement slowdown and loss of balance, putting them at a higher risk for falls. The individual should still be able to remain quite independent but may need assistance with tasks such as dressing and eating.

Stage Four: At this stage, symptoms will most likely begin to affect day-to-day activities. While individuals may stand unaided, they could benefit from assistance with walking, such as a walker. To ensure the individuals remain safe, work with the care team to assess for safety in the home.

Stage Five: At this stage, an individual will need 24/7 care. Mobility is compromised. They will need assistance with personal care and may need adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair. During this stage, connection, companionship, and comfort are imperative to their overall wellness.

Resources for Living a Normal Life with Parkinson’s

Learning how to cope with PD can feel like an impossible and lonely job. However, there are so many resources created specifically for those dealing with the disease. Some organizations specialize in creating resources that give comfort and support to PD patients, families, and caregivers. Here are a few of them:

For learning about the disease
The Parkinson’s Foundation offers expert briefings webinars that offer first-hand access to PD research and practical tips for managing the disease from experts. The foundation also has podcasts with topics that discuss treatments, research, clinical trials, and more.

• The Michael J. Fox Foundation has compiled a list of books and resources to teach you more about the disease and offer first-hand experiences.

For living with the disease
The Parkinson’s Resource Organization has created a virtual support group network that meets online multiple times a month. The organization has different types of meetings specifically designed for caregivers, community members, researchers, and of course, those living with the disease.

• The American Parkinson Disease Association offers a complete calendar of programs and events ranging from educational programs to tips on managing your symptoms.

For caregivers and families
• The Parkinson’s Resource Organization offers resources specifically designed for caregivers and family members. These resources include newsletters, educational meetings, and even one-on-one sessions with a PD specialist.

Navigating Parkinson’s Disease at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, our nurses meet with residents and their families, assess needs, and develop a specified plan to meet their requirements. Learning how to live with PD can be difficult for those diagnosed with the disease and their families; however, Maplewood Senior Living is dedicated to making it feel a little easier. Our complimentary and downloadable Parkinson’s Disease Guide is a comprehensive resource for families with someone who has been newly diagnosed or looking for advice as to how to proceed.

If you would like to discuss your diagnosis with someone on our team or schedule a tour, please contact us today.

Aging without Family: Senior Orphans

As baby boomers begin to reach retirement age, many make decisions that will impact how they live the rest of their lives. While most older adults want to stay independent for as long as possible, many underestimate the care they will eventually need. According to Senior Care, 69% of Americans will require long-term care, but only 37% will plan for it in the future. As they age, many older adults will rely on family members, such as adult children or their spouse, to care for them as they need additional support. However, for senior orphans, or those who lack a family member to care for them, aging can look a lot different. Nearly one-quarter of Americans are currently or will be elder orphans in the future.

Older adults isolated for long periods are more at risk of health concerns than those who are not. Adults who consider themselves lonely can experience cognitive decline, trouble completing daily tasks, and develop heart disease and chronic illnesses. Medical complications, mental illness, mobility issues, and access to healthcare are also real concerns for socially isolated older adults. Many elder orphans do live full and happy lives, but aging can pose additional challenges preventable with proper planning.

Life Planning Tips for Seniors

While we can’t avoid the physical, emotional, and mental challenges accompanied by aging, we can prepare for them before they occur. Whether aging alone is an intentional choice or not, we should all prepare for what the future might look like if we happen to age independently. Here are a few ways to start preparing now:

Create a support team
If you are aging without family or friends who can offer you support, it’s important to build your team. Think about those you trust—perhaps a physician, clergy person, social worker, attorney, or a financial planner and ask them to be a part of your care team. Together, these individuals can work to ensure that your wishes are upheld as you age. If you are still in your working years, you may consider having these discussions with those you trust earlier. This can help you establish a care team before you need their support.

Consider how you want to age
If you foresee yourself aging alone, it’s important to think about how and where you want to spend your later years. You might consider adjusting your living situation so that weekly tasks, like going to the grocery store and doctor’s office, are feasible. Many senior orphans consider moving into communities, like assisted living or continuing care retirement communities, to better prepare for their future. These communities offer built-in social networks, easily accessible healthcare, and offer support with daily tasks.

Plan early and often
As you begin planning for the future, assess your family history. If you have a long line of heart disease, cancer, or a history of early death, you should start planning earlier and reassess your plan to reflect your needs.

Instill healthy habits
If you want to make your own decisions later in life, you have to start taking care of yourself now. Eating a healthy diet and exercising can make a positive impact on how we age. Staying engaged and active can help prevent cognitive decline and keep our brains sharp for longer.

Develop and maintain a social life
Loneliness and social isolation can lead to cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and even early mortality. The best protection against depression and loneliness is to connect with others often. Joining senior clubs, recreation centers, or volunteering can all help ward off loneliness and isolation while giving you a platform to connect with others routinely.

Challenges for Elder Orphans

Healthcare

Older adults are more at risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases that require additional healthcare such as doctor’s visits or medication management. For those without caregivers, healthcare arrangements should be made in advance. One option is to appoint a healthcare proxy. This process legally designates a person to act on behalf of a patient and allows them to make medical decisions when necessary. While it’s best to choose someone, you’ve known for a long time, such as a friend or former colleague, social workers can also act as a healthcare proxy when necessary.

In addition to appointing someone to advocate for your healthcare needs, it’s also important to compile important documents somewhere easily accessible. This might include your living will, which will help identify your end of life wishes, as well as your do-not-resuscitate order if applicable.

Financial Planning for Seniors

Many older adults will require assistance with managing their finances, especially for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Generally, many aging adults assign their adult children to manage their finances. However, there are plenty of options for those without caregivers or family support. Here are a few things you can be doing now to ensure you’re prepared for the future:

How to Plan for Your Future Financially

• Seek Professional Help. CPA and financial advisors can help provide money management services such as paying bills, facilitating required minimum distributions, reconciling bank statements, and end of life planning.

• Authorized Signature. If you have children or friends who are long-distance, you might consider granting them permission as an authorized signature on your account. This permits them to sign checks but doesn’t give ownership of the account. This setup can be a good option for managing bills and other recurring payments. As always, you should only give financial access to those you trust completely.

• Money management programs. For those who prefer outside help, there are companies you can hire to handle bill payments and other financial matters, specifically designed to serve the elderly. You can find these programs through the America Association of Daily Money Managers.

Aging at Maplewood Senior Living

Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living offer a wide variety of services to ensure that residents feel supported, especially for those without family. Regularly scheduled activities, exercise classes, and support groups encourage residents to socialize and decrease the risk of loneliness and isolation. To learn more about our communities, please contact us.

Caregiving 101: Preventing Burnout and Maintaining Self-Care

Nearly 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of 65 every single day. As the number of baby boomers retiring begins to increase, so will the demand for caregivers. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nearly half of older adults will require outside support by the time they reach 85 years old. Traditionally, caregivers assist older adults in daily activities such as medication management, eating, bathing, getting dressed, and running errands. Caregivers can be unpaid family members or professionals who are hired by the individual or the family to assist a loved one. While caregiving is a rewarding profession, it can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Over time, it’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience stress, which can ultimately lead to caregiver burnout.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout occurs as a reaction to the emotional and physical strain of caring for another person. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to report high levels of stress when compared to those who are not caregivers. While caregiver stress can show up in different ways, some warning signs are common amongst caregivers according to the Mayo Clinic:

Caregiver Burnout Symptoms

• Feeling overwhelmed and worried
• Fatigue
• Gaining or losing weight
• Becoming irritated or angry
• Losing interest in activities
• Experiencing headaches or body aches
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
• Feeling sad
• Lack of concentration

When these warning signs are ignored, it can lead to dangerous mistakes, such as making errors in managing medications or slower responses in emergencies. When caregiver stress goes unacknowledged for long periods, it can also lead to long-term health concerns.

Long-term effects of caregiving on health

Caregivers can experience a wide range of emotions in a single week, let alone a single day. Caregiving can reinforce feelings of helpfulness, love, and commitment, and provoke feelings of worry and exhaustion at the same time. When left unidentified, chronic stress releases stress hormones in the body, which can have serious long-term effects on your health. Here are some of the most common ways stress can affect the body:

Depression and anxiety. Long-term stress can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, which can increase your risk of developing other conditions like heart disease and stroke.

Weakened immune system. When stress is left unacknowledged it can cause additional stress on your immune system. The immune system works to fight off illnesses and diseases. Weakened immune systems can increase your risk of developing a cold or flu, and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Obesity. Chronic stress can produce betatrophin, which blocks a protein that breaks down body fat. Long-term release of betatrophin can lead to weight gain or obesity, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Increased risk for chronic diseases. Ongoing stress can also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

Problems with short-term memory. Those who experience high levels of stress can also develop problems with their short-term memory, making it difficult to care for another person.

Self-care for caregivers

While stress is common for caregivers, leaving it unaddressed can cause long-term problems on our overall health and wellness. Our bodies have a natural way of combatting stress, which is regulated by our nervous system. However, if you’re experiencing high levels of stress, you may need to activate your body’s natural response through a variety of activities. Here are a few ways to help address stress and prevent feelings of burnout:

• Practice self-compassion. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to feel like they’re not doing enough for their loved one. This can lead to feelings of guilt, especially when caregivers take time to care for themselves. However, practicing self-care allows a caregiver to be present and focused when caring for a loved one.

• Practice breathing exercises. Meditation and relaxation techniques have been proven to be effective ways to process and redirect feelings of stress. Taking five minutes at the beginning or end of the day to breathe deeply or practice meditation will help you relax your body. Here are a few exercises to get started.

Eat well. Forgetting to eat or not getting enough quality sleep can contribute to caregiver stress and burnout. The simplest thing caregivers can do for themselves is eating a balanced diet and create a relaxing nighttime routine. To prevent inflammation in the body, avoid foods that are processed and high in refined sugars. Focus on eating foods that are high in nutrients, protein, and fiber.

Connect with others. Caregiving can be isolating, especially for those caring for a spouse or family member. Reconnecting with others and prioritizing socialization can help combat feelings of isolation and depression. You might even consider scheduling social activities, like talking to a friend on the phone, into your weekly calendar.

Reduce stress. It’s important to be able to recognize warning signs that might occur when you begin to feel stressed. These signs might include disruptive sleeping patterns, forgetfulness, or feelings of loneliness. Once you understand what is at the root of your stress, you can begin to take action.

Ask for help. It can be extremely difficult for caregivers to accept help. But, accepting someone’s offer to help can allow you to manage your stress and conserve your energy. Make a mental list of ways that others could help you if they offer and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Start to exercise. Consistent daily exercise can help reduce your risk of caregiving related injuries, illness, depression, and anxiety. A mind-body practice such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation can help reduce stress. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day can promote better sleep, help manage your sleep, and reduce physical and mental tension.

Services for caregivers

In addition to prioritizing self-care, there are many resources available to caregivers who may be feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Many communities offer meal delivery and other non-medical services like housekeeping, cooking, and making changes to your home like installing ramps or modifying bathrooms. Respite care, which is when a substitute comes to relieve a caregiver, can help free up time for full-time caregivers who may need to run errands or schedule appointments. The National Eldercare Locator can help you identify caregiving services in your area.

Caregiving support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we are constantly looking for new ways to show our support to caregivers. We also are available to discuss options to relieve the strain of caregiving if having your loved one live in one of our communities would be a more suitable option. If you’re interested in learning about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is Sundowning?

Worldwide, nearly 50 million people are living with dementia with 10 million new cases being diagnosed each year. While each individual can experience various symptoms and side effects, sundowning is common in the later stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a journal published by the US National Library of Medicine, as many as 20% of dementia patients experience sundowning. Sundowning, also known as “late-day confusion” can cause symptoms such as confusion and agitation that worsen later in the day.

As the evening and nighttime approaches, sundowning can often trigger sudden changes in cognition and emotions. Behavior changes can range in each person but often include suspicion, hallucinations, confusion, and anger.

Sundowning Symptoms

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can become disoriented and confused quite easily, especially during the later stages of the disease. With this, many patients become more vulnerable to sundowning and the symptoms that come with it. Many will experience confusion, anxiety, and agitation beginning later in the day. Sundowning can also interrupt sleep schedules, which can lead to additional behavioral problems.

While researchers don’t know exactly what causes sundowning, some factors can make it worse. These factors can include:

• Mental and physical exhaustion and fatigue
• Reduced lighting and increased shadows
• Reactions to nonverbal cues from caregivers who may be feeling frustrated and exhausted themselves
• Consumption of caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
• Disruption in circadian rhythms
• Thirst and hunger
• Stress and depression

How to Cope with Sundowning Symptoms

Many people experiencing sundowning might cope with what they’re feeling by pacing, rocking, screaming, or even becoming violent. For some, the behaviors might leave quickly, but for others, these behaviors can last for hours and severely interrupt their sleep schedules. Seeing your loved one suffer or caring for someone who experiences sundowning can be awful and leave you feeling hopeless. However, there are many different ways you can work to help manage these symptoms and lessen their severity.

Minimize Triggers
When your loved one has a sundowning episode, record what happened before, during, and after. Look for patterns in their behavior and try to identify some of their triggers. For some, triggers might look like fatigue, cross-talk during meal times, loud noises from the television, or a change in caregiver.

Maintain Routines
If your loved one isn’t sleeping well at night, make sure to minimize napping during the day. Keep your evenings quiet and peaceful by avoiding stressful tasks and prioritize activities during the daytime. Regular daily schedules can help your loved one feel safe and secure, so try and establish a routine that is easy to follow each day.

Simplify Surroundings
Too much clutter or stimulation can cause anxiety and stress, both of which have been linked to sundowning. Experts suggest creating a calm space wherever your loved one sleeps. This includes setting the temperature between 68-70 degrees, using light-blocking curtains, and installing night-lights for safety.

Increase Light Exposure
Sundowning often occurs during the evening and can be brought on by the transition of daylight into the evening darkness. Keep your house well lit, especially during the evening, and make sure your loved one is exposed to direct sunlight as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, use bright lights or a lightbox in their room.

Play Calming Music
Music has shown to have healing properties for those suffering from memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Music can provoke memories and act as a mood booster. You might consider playing calming music throughout the day, but be sure to monitor the volume, as loud noises can be confusing and cause agitation.

Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can be great tools to use for calming and soothing your loved one. Scents like lavender and chamomile can be diluted and used as aromatherapy during the evening to promote feelings of calmness and safety. If your loved one needs help with waking up or completing activities, you might consider using grapefruit, lemon, or orange scents. Essential oils are wonderful tools when used properly, but make sure to do your research before using them and never apply them directly to the skin.

Connect Through Touch
Physical touch can be a great way to ease anxiety and transition into the evening. You might consider giving your loved one a hand or foot massage or gently massaging their head. Even a simple hug can help break the cycle of anxiety and stress.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat anxiety, stress, and depression and is especially helpful for those suffering from dementia. You might consider asking your doctor to refer you to an acupuncturist who specializes in dementia or is familiar with the disease.

Adjust Eating Patterns
Large meals before bedtime can cause agitation and disrupt sleep patterns. You might consider serving a light meal for dinner and limiting heavy foods and caffeine for lunchtime. This can help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of sundowning.

Coping Strategies for Sundowning

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia comes with many challenges, especially when dealing with sundowning. Here are a few ways you can cope with sundowning while also making sure to care for yourself.

• Talk to a doctor. If you need additional assistance, consider making an appointment with your loved one’s healthcare provider. Many times, they can offer support and medication when necessary.
• Recognize your own needs. Caregiving is a rewarding and exhausting job. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, your loved one might be able to recognize these emotions and begin to feel the same way. Try to manage your stress and anxiety by taking time for yourself.
• Share your experience with others. You are not alone! The Alzheimer’s Association has an online support community where caregivers share their own experiences and support those in the same position. These groups allow others to share strategies and inspire others.

Sundowning Support at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be extremely challenging. However, our Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support groups and activities for those who have been diagnosed and their caregivers.

Krystal Martin, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Chardon suggests “A short nap in the early afternoon (20-30 minutes) can help to re-energize the person and prevent the tired, “want-to-go” feelings. Knowing about the person can help the caregiver—whether a family member, professional caregiver or a caregiver in the assisted living setting—can assist to help the person navigate through this challenge.

Helping the person maintain familiar routines can help minimize feelings of restlessness and anxiety and ultimately agitation. As the day gets later, allow activities to wind down, planning more relaxing and less involved activities. Playing familiar music that invites positive, warm feelings can help to calm the person. Finally, if the person is still feeling anxious or restless, validate their emotions, empathize with how they might be feeling and join them in their reality rather than attempting to orient to the here-and-now.”

If you would like to learn more about our Memory Care offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

When is The Right Time for Assisted Living?

As we age our health care needs are likely to change, which can make navigating health-related decisions difficult. While many older adults envision spending their retirement years living independently, it is likely that many seniors will require additional support later on in life. At some point, many adults may have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living community. This process can become more complicated when failing health and financial concerns are factored in.

What is Assisted Living for Seniors?

Senior assisted living facilities are designed for older adults who need additional support with their day-to-day lives. These communities offer support with daily tasks such as eating, taking medication, bathing, housekeeping, preparing meals, and monitoring medicine. For added peace of mind, medical care is also accessible around the clock in the event of an emergency. As older adults begin to consider transitioning into an assisted living community, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.

Declining health conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities help seniors manage these conditions, which allow residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Difficulty with managing finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This can make paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills, or filing taxes properly.

Inability to care for oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves, or complete basic daily tasks, it may be time to consider assisted living. A large number of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding that can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and live in a clean environment.

Lack of socializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language, or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality, and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas, and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Questions to Consider

Making the move into an assisted living community can be a hard decision for everyone involved and finding the right time to move can be even more challenging. When a loved one has suffered from serious health concerns, such as a broken hip, the need for an assisted living community might become more obvious. However, for older adults who still manage to take care of themselves, but are slowly losing their independence, the transition can become unclear. If you’re not sure if now is the time for assisted living, Consumer Affairs has gathered a series of questions to help you in your decision-making process, which is summarized below:

Health

Has your loved one fallen recently?
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among older adults. If your loved one has recently fallen or is consistently falling, this may be a sign that you should consider a move to an assisted living community.

Is your loved one taking their medications?
If you notice your loved one is struggling to keep up with their medications, try to find out the cause. Are they forgetting? Is picking it up at the pharmacy difficult for them? If the answer is yes, assisted living can help. On-site staff can ensure that each resident has access to and takes their medications on time.

Does your loved one suffer from a chronic condition?
If your senior has been diagnosed with a worsening chronic condition, assisted living communities can help preserve their quality of life. For those with chronic conditions, basic daily tasks can become increasingly difficult. When you have staff support, energy can be reserved for exploring hobbies and socializing with others.

Self-Care

Is your loved one having trouble taking care of themselves?
Cooking, housekeeping, laundry, and other basic daily tasks can become more difficult as we age. Assisted living communities offer these services so seniors can avoid related injuries and instead spend time doing what they love.

Are they eating properly?
Have you noticed significant weight loss or weight gain within the last few months? Both rapid weight loss and weight gain can be side-effects of health problems or difficulty in preparing and eating food. If you’re not sure what the cause might be, you can always consult their doctor and ask if assisted living might help relieve the problem.

Mental-health and dementia

Do they wander from home and get lost?
This could be a sign of a cognitive issue such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you notice your loved one wandering or getting lost in familiar places, talk to your loved one and their healthcare provider. Assisted living communities with memory care units are designed to support those with cognitive impairments and memory disorders.

Are they isolated?
Isolation is a public health concern, especially for older adults. Long-term isolation can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Your loved one might be feeling isolated if they rarely leave their home, live alone or have stopped participating in social activities. Initiating a conversation about isolation and loneliness with your loved one might help you make an informed decision when it comes to assisted living.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living

Watching your loved one age is hard. Recognizing that they’re beginning to need more care can be painful. Our assisted living communities at Maplewood Senior living are here to help and give you peace of mind. To learn more about our communities or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

We also have a complimentary Guide – Is It Time for Assisted Living? Please download it today. Please Click HERE to do so.