Alzheimer’s Research Trends in 2021

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It’s also a progressive disease that causes symptoms to worsen over time. Older adults who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might notice mild memory loss, whereas those in the late stages can lose the ability to carry on a conversation or even respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s disease affects one in nine people age 65 and older, and women more significantly than men. Although there’s been significant research on Alzheimer’s, because of the complexity of the illness, there is no cure. However, that hasn’t stopped medical professionals from continuing their Alzheimer’s research. Join us as we discuss Alzheimer’s research trends in 2021.

How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Treated?
Alzheimer’s is characterized by abnormal changes in the brain. While scientists do not know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, most experts believe plaques and tangles play a significant role. Plaques, which are deposits of a protein fragment, build up in the spaces between nerve cells, and tangles, which are twisted fibers of a different protein, develop more frequently and predictably in the brain of someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s can look different in each individual, it’s highly unlikely that one drug would be able to treat all individuals with the disease. However, because of research and clinical trials, scientists have made significant progress in understanding the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s.

While there are several prescription drugs to help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, none have been able to cure it or even stop the progression of the disease. The first FDA-approved therapy that addresses the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s has recently received approval as treatment. Aducanumab works to remove amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, from the brain, which can help reduce cognitive and functional decline for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Research
In addition to the recent approval of Aducanumab, international researchers have made significant progress in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease this past year. Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University recently discovered that a specific element of a key protein, called tau, may cause the proteins to accumulate in the brain. These deposits can actually trigger Alzheimer’s. While the tau protein is key to the healthy function of certain cells, when the microtubules, or “cell highways” they create aren’t formed properly, it can cause a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. To learn how to identify when a tau protein isn’t working properly, researchers are using different organisms, such as the drosophila fruit fly.

An upcoming research study at the University of Arizona Health Sciences will focus on identifying various therapies that prevent or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s. The study will focus on understanding one of the strongest genetic risk factors, ApoE4, which is a key element in how our bodies metabolize fat and brain energy. This study is expected to allow researchers to more thoroughly understand and develop interventions for those with late-onset Alzheimer’s.

Trials and Research of Alzheimer’s Disease
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, clinical trials allow researchers to conduct studies with human volunteers to determine whether a possible treatment is safe and effective. Without the help of participants and clinical research, there can be no treatments, preventions, or cures. New drugs must complete a series of phases before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The treatment must perform well enough to move on to the next phase.

  • Phase I trials. The first stage of testing typically involves 100 volunteers or less and looks at the risks and side effects of a drug. These participants are usually healthy volunteers who haven’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • Phase II trials. This phase requires volunteers who have been diagnosed with the condition the drug is designed to treat. These studies help provide information about the treatment’s safety and help to determine the best dosage of the medication.
  • Phase III trials. The third stage requires a research team to enroll several hundred to thousands of volunteers at multiple sites worldwide. This provides evidence for safety and effectiveness that will be considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Phase IV trials. After the FDA approves a drug, researchers must continue to monitor the health of those taking the medication to gain insight into its long-term safety and effectiveness.

Getting Involved in a Clinical Trial
If you or a loved one is interested in participating in or learning more about a clinical trial, there are various ways to get involved. The first option is to speak with your healthcare provider. Because your doctor has a deep understanding of your medical information, they may be able to connect you with an appropriate clinical trial.

In addition, TrialMatch, operated by the Alzheimer’s Association, connects individuals to clinical studies in their area. To be connected within TrialMatch, you’ll need your clinical diagnosis, tests used to diagnose the stage of the disease, and a current Alzheimer’s medication list.

Questions to Consider
Before you commit to participating in a clinical trial, it’s important to understand the trial information by making an appointment with your healthcare provider. According to the National Institute on Aging, individuals considering participation in a clinical trial should ask the research team these questions:

● What’s the purpose of the study?
● What tests and treatments will be given?
● What are the risks and side effects?
● What are the benefits of the research?
● How much time is required?
● How long will the study run?
● How will the trial affect my daily life?
● Will I learn my results?
● Are expenses reimbursed?
● Will I be paid?

Living with Alzheimer’s at Maplewood Senior Living
Memory care residents at our Maplewood Senior Living communities have access to high-quality medical care and staff trained specifically in dementia care. Support groups, access to clinical trial information, and Alzheimer’s medication are available to all residents living with Alzheimer’s. To learn more about these 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.

The Many Benefits of Cranberries

It’s cranberry season on the cape! During the fall months, cranberries are harvested all along the South Shore, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. While many of us use cranberries in baking and cooking, especially during the fall and winter months, most people are unaware of their many health benefits. More surprising than their many health benefits is the long history of cranberries starting tens of thousands of years ago.

The History of Cranberries

The beginning of cranberries began when receding glaciers formed cavities in the land that filled with sand, clay, and debris, ultimately creating cranberry bogs that spread across Massachusetts. Wild cranberries have been around for nearly 12,000 years, first cultivated by Native Americans. Traditionally, Native Americans used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney diseases and for nutritional purposes. As Europeans began to explore and settle in New England in the 16th and 17th centuries, cranberries were used to treat poor appetite, blood disorders, and scurvy. Later on, in the 1800s, cranberries began to be cultivated widely and the number of growers increased dramatically throughout the 19th century. By 1927, the cranberry harvest became so vital to Massachusetts’ economy that children were excused from school to help with the work. Today, the industry continues to grow. Cranberry growers harvest nearly 40,000 acres of cranberries each year.

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

While the current uses of cranberries have differed from their early history, they are still used for their many health benefits. Interestingly, research has shown that cranberries can lower the risk of urinary tract infections, prevent certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and decrease blood pressure. Here are a few ways this superfood can help improve our physical health:

Prevent and treat UTIs

Cranberries have long been used to treat Urinary Tract Infections and are still prescribed to treat them today. Research has shown that concentrated cranberries have high levels of antioxidants proanthocyanins, which can help bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls.

Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

According to a 2019 study, cranberries have shown to help manage the risk factors of cardiovascular disease including blood pressure, body mass index, and improve levels of healthy cholesterol. The polyphenols present in cranberries can also help prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure.

Prevent tooth decay

You might be surprised to learn that cranberries can improve our oral health. Proanthocyanins present in cranberries can work to prevent gum disease and the build-up of bacteria that bind to teeth.

Reduce the risk of cancer

Research has shown that cranberries can help slow the progression of tumors and help fight off prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. Additionally, the compounds in cranberries can help trigger the death of cancer cells, slow the growth of these cells, and reduce inflammation. Researchers are still studying the relationship between cranberries and cancer.

Help with weight loss

Obesity can lead to many different health issues, especially for older adults. In fact, research has shown that excess weight is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and other medical conditions. Adding cranberries to your diet can help improve the function of the digestive system and metabolism, all of which contribute to weight loss.

Reduce inflammation

Increasing your consumption of cranberries can help strengthen your immune system and prevent inflammation. The enzyme present in cranberries helps keep viruses separated from your cells, ultimately reducing your risk of illness.

Adding Cranberries into your Diet

While cranberries are in season in September and October, they can be bought all year long. Frozen, dried, and canned cranberries keep for long periods and still have the same nutritional benefits as fresh cranberries. Before you purchase cranberries, be sure to check the nutrition label, as many cranberry products contain added sugars. Here are a few delicious ways you can add cranberries into your diet:

• Add dried cranberries into your trail mix or granola. Be sure to check for added sugars, especially when using dried cranberries.
• Toss in frozen cranberries into your smoothie or fruit bowl. If you find cranberries to taste too tart, try adding some honey for balance.
• Cranberries can add texture and flavor when used as a topping on a salad or even in a fish marinade.
• Make your own cranberry sauce! Canned cranberry sauce contains a lot of sugar, so making it yourself gives you control over what gets added.
• Love oatmeal? Sprinkle some dried cranberries on top or use frozen cranberries to make a sauce to pour over your oatmeal.

Cooking with Cranberries at Maplewood Senior Living

We source locally produced cranberries at many of our Maplewood Senior Living communities. Our chefs use their creativity to incorporate this superfood into as many meals as possible. If you’re looking for a new way to use cranberries, here’s one of our favorites from Chef Tootie at Mill Hill Residence:

Moist Cranberry Orange Bread (from allrecipes.com)

A delicious super-moist dessert bread loaded with mandarin orange and whole cranberries. They make great gifts.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10
Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white sugar (reserve 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

Directions:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a large loaf pan.

Step 2: Combine flour, 1 ¾ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add melted butter, stir until the mixture is crumbly. Reserve about ¼ cup cranberries and ¼ cup mandarin oranges; stir remaining fruit into the flour mixture.

Step 3: Beat eggs, milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, and orange extract in another bowl until smooth. Gradually stir egg mixture into flour mixture until batter is fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Scatter reserve cranberries and mandarin oranges on top of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Step 4: Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking until the center of the bread springs back when touched, 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: To reduce the amount of white sugar in this recipe, we recommend you substitute either 1 cup brown sugar, ¾ cup of honey, ¾ cup maple syrup, or 2/3 cup agave syrup or 1 teaspoon of stevia = for 1 cup of sugar.

We hope you enjoy the cranberry season as much as we do! If you’d like to hear more about our offerings or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

Foods That Fight Aging

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

How do our Needs and Habits Change?

 Calories and Appetite

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

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

Nutrition Absorption

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

Immune System

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

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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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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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