A Complete Guide for Managing Holiday Stress

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

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

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

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

Adjust Expectations

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

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

Adapt Gift-Giving

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

Involve Those with Alzheimer’s in Preparations and Celebrations

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

Managing Holiday Stress When Traveling with Older Adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Caregivers

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

Find Time for Yourself

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

Manage Holiday Stress

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

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

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

Incorporate Activities That Give You Joy

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

Finding Joy at Maplewood Senior Living

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

Regaining Independence: Fall Prevention & Recovery Programs

Senior man who recently experienced a fall that could have been prevented.

As we age, the consequences of falling can become fatal. While falling isn’t a normal part of aging, it remains to be one of the most common causes of injury in older adults. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments and account for over 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths. Fall-related injuries such as head trauma or broken bones can be harder to recover from in old age. However, there is a simple fall prevention program that you can follow to keep you safe and healthy all year long.

Fall Prevention: Causes and Risk Factors

There are many different things that can cause a person to fall. Older adults who are taking several medications might experience dizziness, which can contribute to a fall or loss of balance. Some normal aspects of aging like low vision, loss of hearing, or slower reflexes can also cause falls.

According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists have also linked personal risk factors, such as muscle weakness, balance and gait issues, and a sudden drop of blood pressure to fall-related causes. Older adults who experience foot pain or those who wear unsafe shoes are also at risk for falling. While there are many factors that cause falls, there are also many ways to prevent them.

Fall Prevention Program

The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. While the consequences of falling can be severe, preventing them can be very simple. The Mayo Clinic published a list of simple fall preventative measures every older adult should consider:

Meet with Your Doctor
As you prepare your fall prevention program, it’s important to check-in with your doctor about your current state of health. You should be prepared to discuss what medications you’re currently taking. Many doctors will change your prescription if your medications cause side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. Some types of antidepressants can also increase your risk of falling.

If you’ve experienced a fall before, it’s important to share all of the details with your health care provider. Before your appointment, write down the last time you fell, where you were, and how you fell. Sharing these types of details will allow your doctor to identify fall prevention strategies that will work for your situation.

Wear Safe Shoes
Shoes like high heels, slippers, and shoes without proper tread can cause you to trip, stumble or and fall. Walking only in socks or without proper shoes can also put you at risk for falling as well. Consider switching to sturdy and nonskid shoes to prevent unwanted falls.

Remove Hazards at Home
Many falls happen in the home, usually during the nighttime, especially if you wake up to use the restroom. You should always make sure the space between your bed and the restroom is completely clear in order to reduce your risk of falling in the home. Hallways and corners should also be kept clear, especially from big and bulky furniture.

Install Safe Lighting
As a part of your fall prevention program, you might consider installing safety lights in your home. Place censored lights in your bedroom, hallways, and bathroom so you are able to see in front of you at night or early in the morning. Switches that glow in the dark can be installed in order to find your way more easily.

Use Assistive Devices
Assisted devices such as a cane or walker can help you stay steady while on the move. There are also many devices designed to keep your home a safer place. Handrails can be installed on both sides of the stairways. In addition, a raised toilet seat with arm rests and grab bars for the shower and tub can help keep you safe while completing basic daily tasks.

Fall Prevention: Benefits of Exercise

Strengthening the muscles that promote balance and mobility will decrease your chances of falling. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible will also help reduce your recovery time in the event that you do take a fall. Here are a few exercises, that if done daily can help you prevent falls. According to Dr. Steven Castle, who has conducted extensive research on fall prevention tips, these exercises will help you build muscle, while increasing balance and mobility. As always, consult your healthcare provider before attempting these exercises:

• Partial Squat- To strengthen your legs, slowly bend at the hips and push back as if you were to sit down. You can brace yourself by balancing your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or counter. Rise up to a standing position and straighten your arms.

• Heel Raise- Place your hands on a wall to keep steady. When you feel balanced, raise your heels up so your weight is on the balls on your feet.

• Knee Flexion- While seated in a chair, raise each leg six inches off the ground one at a time. This will help strengthen and increase mobility in your knee.

• Hip Extension- Holding on to a wall or chair, keep your knee straight while slowly raising your leg behind you. This will help strengthen your legs while stretching your hips.

• Hip Abduction- hold onto the back of a chair just as you would during a hip extension. Slowly raise your leg out to the side, away from your opposite leg. Raise your leg as high as you can without leaning towards one side.

Fall Prevention Program at Maplewood

Falls can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. That’s why at Maplewood Senior Living, we’ve created a fall assessment program designed to improve safety, decrease falls, and provide information regarding our resident’s physical mobility and safety needs. This program includes a fall prevention assessment that will be completed at move in, during changes in condition and every six months in order to establish a baseline and provide continued communication on balance, strength, mobility, and safety.

Partnering with skilled therapists, this fall prevention program will prioritize safety and functional mobility, while decreasing the risk of falls. Participants will complete four standardized functional tests approved by Medicare and widely utilized by Physical and Occupation therapists in regular practices. These tests can be performed efficiently in just a few minutes and provide valuable information on the participant’s wellbeing and potential areas of need. In addition to the tests, a risk assessment will also be completed to accurately identify resident’s needs and fall-risk status.

Making Fall Prevention a Priority at Maplewood Senior Living

Together we have the ability to lower the occurrences of falls for our residents and provide the opportunity to enjoy a happier, healthier and more active life. If you’d like to see how we’re working to keep our residents safe, please contact us here. We’d love to give you a tour of our campus and give you a better idea of what it’s like to live at Maplewood Senior Living.

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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Live-In Home Care Vs. Assisted Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Long Distance Caregiving

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

Make a Plan

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

Get Help

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

What is a geriatric care manager?

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

 How Can I Find One?

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

Consider Assisted Living

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

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

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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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Blending Style and Safety

Blending Style and Safety

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

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

Exterior/Entry ways

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

Windows

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

Grab bars

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

Bathrooms

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

Outside Areas

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

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

 

 

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