The Importance of Volunteering

On November 11th, we recognize Veteran’s Day, which allows us to honor and remember all U.S. veterans and victims of all wars. There are 18 million veterans in the United States, which is nearly 7.1% of the adult population. As we honor those who have made sacrifices for our country, we also have the opportunity to support those who have served on our behalf. Volunteering can be a wonderful way to give back to our community, while also working to enhance the lives of veterans in our country. While volunteering helps those in need, it also has many health benefits. So, as you look for ways to support our veterans, you might consider signing up to volunteer, which might help you take care of yourself and those around you.

Benefits of Volunteering

While most volunteers have the intention of helping others, many don’t know that volunteering can also improve your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering can offer many health benefits, especially for older adults.

Decrease the risk of depression

While depression is not a normal part of aging, older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing depression-related symptoms. Volunteering has been shown to lower rates of depression especially for those over the age of 65. Those who volunteer are more exposed to opportunities for social interaction and the opportunity to build relationships with those who have common interests.

Offers a sense of purpose

As many older adults retire from their jobs, it can be difficult to feel a sense of purpose in life. However, many older adults find purpose in volunteering. Whether it’s providing meals, transportation or just being present—volunteers do important work and make a difference in people’s lives.

Keeps you mentally and physically active

It’s extremely important to keep our brains and bodies active and alert as we age. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to do both. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, volunteers report better physical health when compared to non-volunteers.

Reduces stress levels

Working with those who have common interests can help build a support system and develop meaningful friendships, which can help us cope in times of stress and difficulty. Performing acts of service can also reduce stress.

Helps you live longer

It might be a surprise, but volunteering can help you live longer. According to the Longitudinal Study of Aging, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when age, gender, and physical health were considered factors.

Why Volunteer with Veterans?

Whether you’re planning to attend a memorial service, or are looking for ways to honor our veterans, there are many ways to show your support and gratitude. It might feel like you need special skills or training to work with veterans, however, there are many ways you can serve veterans with the skills you have already. While veterans have many different needs, here are some of the most common obstacles presented to veterans according to Student Training & Education in Public Service:

• Homelessness. Homelessness is rampant among the veteran community. In fact, According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 37,900 veterans were homeless in 2018, accounting for 9% of all homeless adults in the United States. Did you know that almost 38% of homeless veterans sleep in places that are deemed inhabitable?
• PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon for veterans who served in warzones. When left untreated, PTSD can cause chronic pain, autoimmune disease, and depression. Nearly 20% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder and nearly 20% of veterans who are diagnosed with depression or PTSD also suffer from traumatic brain injuries.
• Substance abuse. According to the National Center for PTSD, one in five veterans with PTSD have substance abuse disorders.
• Service-connected disabilities. Many veterans leave the service with injuries and illnesses connected to their time with the military. These veterans often need help with medical care, completing basic daily tasks, and providing for their loved ones.

Many organizations that serve the veteran community rely on the support of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering to support veterans in your area, here are some of the tasks you can expect to be doing during your time:

• Manage day-to-day tasks for veterans including help with preparing meals, job searching, medication management, finding housing, and managing finances. Some of these tasks require specialized skills, however, there is usually a job for everyone.

• Many veterans require support services, especially those who are sick or injured. However, many older veterans require socialization. Volunteers are often needed to spend time with older veterans to provide comfort during end-of-life care.

• Veterans who are transitioning from the military back to civilian life often need the assistance of a volunteer. Daily tasks like grocery shopping or filling a medication can seem challenging for those who are still adjusting.

Virtual Volunteering Opportunities

While in-person volunteer opportunities are limited due to the Coronavirus, it’s still possible to support veterans virtually. Depending on your interest and availability, there are so many opportunities to choose from. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Adopt a Military Family

Soldier’s Angels’ “Adopt a Family ” program provides holiday support to immediate family members of deployed or injured service members and veterans. Many military families live on a tight budget, which can make the holidays stressful. This opportunity allows volunteers to donate items to make the holidays a little more special. This is a time-sensitive opportunity ending on December 7th.

Angel Bakers Team

Volunteers with Angel Bakers send one-time care packages to deployed military soldiers.
While the team sends care packages to all deployed soldiers, they specifically focus on those who are enduring difficult times during their deployment.

Soldiers’ Angels Baby Brigade

This team provides virtual baby showers for expectant families of the military community. Volunteers will shop for baby items and even add their personal touch by sewing or crafting items such as baby blankets and booties.

Cards Plus Team

Do you like arts and crafts? This team dedicates its time to supporting service members, veterans, and their families with customized celebratory cards and notes. From birthdays and anniversaries to welcome home and get-well cards, this team lets service members know they are cared for and thought of often.

Honoring Our Veterans at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we are proud to provide care and support for many veterans throughout our communities. Today, we honor their sacrifice and dedication to our safety and freedom. Thank you to all of our veterans!

Helping Seniors Stay Engaged During COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt worldwide, from children staying home from school to small business owners forced to stop operations. In an effort to protect the most vulnerable populations, including senior communities, self-quarantine has been highly recommended in many places and even mandated in several cities in the United States. While quarantining senior citizens mitigates their risk of contracting this complex virus, it also puts many older adults at risk of isolation and depression. Retirement communities and nursing homes have been taking on the task of engaging residents without gathering in groups, keeping physical contact extremely limited. With the help of new technologies and innovative developments, seniors have been able to learn, socialize, and stimulate their minds from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Maplewood Senior Living has compiled a list of virtual experiences, tours, performances, and online learning platforms to help residents mitigate risks of social isolation and help families feel more at ease during this time of social distancing and quarantine.

Entertainment
In light of the coronavirus, many organizations including NPR, art galleries, and museums have provided virtual experiences that are entertaining and educational.

Concerts
NPR has compiled an impressive list of live virtual concerts organized by genre and performance date. There are programs scheduled through mid-April and its archives are available to stream at any time. While some of the performances require registration and fee, many of them are free to the public. From opera and classical to rock and metal, this list has something for all to enjoy. You can access the entire concert calendar here.

Many symphonies are offering their performance free to stream on your computer or phone. The Vancouver Symphony live-streamed their final performance and made it available for public viewing. The Royal Opera House has made some of their best performances available to view from the comfort of your own home. In addition to their opera performances, you can also watch some of their most popular ballet programs. The Vienna State Opera and Metropolitan Opera of New York City are also available to stream.

Virtual Tours
Take a trip to Vatican City and explore the wonders of the Sistine Chapel. Be sure to use the zoom option to get a good look at all of the intricate details. In addition, you can browse the other museums and special exhibits. After you’ve finished in Vatican City, you’ll land in Indonesia to visit Prambanan, the area’s largest temple complex located northeast of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Whitehouse in Washington D.C. and the Palace of Versailles also have virtual tours available.

Plays and Musicals
When Broadway turned dark, after mandates to close, it didn’t close doors on its creativity. Broadway HD allows patrons to watch recorded performances. While the first week is free, they do require a small monthly fee to access their programs. The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the newest plays and musicals available for streaming from some of the greatest production theaters of all time.

Exercise and Wellness
Many seniors stay active by making a daily trip to their local recreation center or silver sneakers class. With the closure of these facilities around the nation, exercise must be done from the home. However, exercising from home is easier than ever before. The National Institute on Aging runs Go4Life, a platform that offers online exercise classes specifically for older adults. These exercise classes include chair workouts, stretches, and tips for stretching and building endurance.

While social distancing and self-quarantining can be physically challenging, it also has a profound effect on mental health. Staying isolated for long periods of time can cause depression or depression-like symptoms. Meditation apps, such as Calm, can help mitigate those feelings.

In addition to utilizing apps and websites for mental health, it’s important to check-in with yourself periodically. Here are a few tools to help you maintain your mental wellness:
Reaffirm your commitment to healthy habits- During this time of uncertainty, it can be tempting to reach for foods that are convenient but not healthy. However, it’s crucial to both your mental and physical well-being to nourish your body with food that will sustain you. Make sure to keep hydrated, limit sugar and fat, and eat well-balanced meals during the day.
Extend kindness– Being nice just makes you feel good! While you’re spending time alone, take the opportunity to think about those you care about. Decorate cards or make a video for your loved ones. Now is a great time to let your loved ones know how you feel.
Ask for support If you do start to feel lonely or isolated, do not hesitate to reach out. Call your counselor or family member and ask for help.
Stay connected– Many facilities have asked visitors not to come for an uncertain amount of time. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t visit with your family virtually! Apps like Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp will allow you to see your family members without putting yourself at risk of contracting the virus or other illnesses.

Learning and Stimulation
Now is the perfect time to learn something new! Coursera partners with some of the best universities and companies in the world, like Google, Stanford, and IBM, to offer free classes to lifelong learners. Coursera offers hundreds of free lectures from top professors at world-renowned universities. TED (Technology, Education, and Design) is an online platform that provides free lectures from industry-leading professionals, activists, educators, and entertainers. Their archive is vastly diverse ranging from art and education, health and wellness, to environment and ecosystem. There is truly a program for everyone.

While this is certainly an unprecedented time for our nation and the world, it can also be a time for opportunity. At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re prepared to keep our residents active, safe, and healthy during this time of social distancing through by equipping them with online tools and resources. Be safe and enjoy exploring.

Time Management Tips for Caregivers and Care Partners

As the aging population continues to increase, especially with 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the need for caregivers has also seen a spike in demand. Many family members and spouses have taken on the role of caregivers to support their loved ones through illness and disease. In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, more than 65 million people, or roughly 29% of the U.S. population provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend and spends nearly 20 hours per week providing care. While caregiving is a noble undertaking, it certainly comes with unique challenges and obstacles.

Defining Your Role as a Caregiver

For many adults providing care for a loved one, the role of a caregiver can become a major part of one’s identity. In fact, many caregivers struggle with separating their role as a caregiver from their own personal identity. However, it’s important to acknowledge and exercise other ways of identifying themselves. Here are a few ways you can practice setting boundaries, especially when it comes to time management:

Don’t be afraid to express yourself
It can be difficult to process your emotions, especially when you are tasked with supporting and caring for a loved one. Jim Taylor, who writes “Advice for Care Partners” and has been featured in the New York Times, says one of the most important aspects of caregiving or care partnering is to remember to, “honor your own reaction and emotions to the diagnosis. When you need to grieve, grieve.”

Set personal goals
Caregiving can limit the amount of time you have to set aside for yourself and your own personal goals. However, it’s important to make time for these things, too. Finding ways to grow and exercise your talents is important. You might consider setting a few personal goals each week or month, whether it’s writing in your journal or learning how to cook a new dish.

If you’re a caregiver, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of never having enough time in one day. That is certainly a normal feeling. But there are ways to manage your time so you don’t feel so overwhelmed each day. Here are a few time management tips and techniques for caregivers to make it feel less overwhelming and more enjoyable.

Time Management Tips for Caregivers: In the Home

For caregivers who provide care out of their own homes, or who live with the person they are supporting, there are many ways to make sure the home is an area of comfort rather than stress.

Declutter
Nearly 20% of Alzheimer’s patients exhibit hoarding behaviors that can likely cause safety hazards in the home. In addition, living in a cluttered space can also add difficulty to basic daily tasks like getting dressed or cooking. As you attempt to declutter your loved one’s space, always start by setting a priority and making a plan. For example, if your goal is to reduce the risk of falling, make a series of small plans identifying which items present the most risk. Don’t forget to utilize the help of your family and friends. If you’re unsure if something should be thrown away or kept, you can always ask a family member to hold onto it for a bit of time.

Organize
If you find yourself short on time, the best thing to do is to get organized. Here are a few simple ways you can save yourself some time each day:
• Keep all your paperwork and important documents in one location
• Keep a daily to-do list in the same place and update it daily
• Store all medications in the same place and sort them weekly. It can also be helpful to keep a list of all medications being consumed
• Utilize gadgets. There are so many senior-friends tools and resources available for caregivers and their loved ones. For example, if your loved one has trouble getting dressed, you might look into tools that help with buttons, Velcro shoes, and clothing with elastic waistbands
• Keep track of your regular household tasks, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and food preparation. Scheduling time in advance for all of these tasks will help you manage your time most efficiently

Focus on Comfort
As the disease progresses, you might find yourself spending more time at home, rather than going out. When this happens, it’s important that the home becomes a place of peace and tranquility, rather than chaos. These simple home modifications can make anyone’s home a place they want to be.

• Install a raised toilet and grab bars for the bathroom and bathtub
• Trade regular door knobs with grab easy alternatives such as lever handles
• Place your loved one’s favorite pictures and memorabilia in easy to see places
• Install monitors and alert systems for those who present wander risks, such as door alarms and motions sensors
• Use bright lighting to reduce the risk of falling

Time Management Tips for Caregivers: For the Day

Staying organized during the day will help you to complete tasks while making room for the unexpected. As you go about your day, keep these tips in mind that will keep stress away.

Organize Your Daily Essentials
It might sound obvious, but keeping your keys, wallet, and other essentials in the same place can actually help you save time and decrease stress as you get ready to head out the door. Nothing is worse than being late for an appointment because your keys are in your pocket instead of in your purse. You might consider keeping these essentials by the door to make it easy to remember. Staying organized helps free up mental space you might need later in the day.

Plan Your Days
As you think about your daily to-do list, it might be helpful to plan out your day while also being mindful that it may not go to plan. Prioritize the most important things first, like doctor’s appointments or refilling medications. Using a large calendar that your loved one can also see can be a great way to make them feel involved and encourage independence over their days.

Time Management for Caregivers: For the Self

Most importantly, caregivers need to make time for themselves. Oftentimes, caregivers forget to take care of themselves, because their main focus is to take care of their loved one. But the truth is, if caregivers don’t help themselves, they can’t help their loved one. If you are a caregiver, use these tips to remember that you are important, too.
• Seek support. Whether you share your concerns and excitements with a friend or a caregiver, it’s important to have someone to talk to
• Create a network of other caregivers to learn from and share with
• Make time for yourself! This means getting enough exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and making sure to get enough sleep
• Work your own needs into your schedule. Don’t ignore doctor’s appointments and social events, they’re just as important to your health as taking medicine
• Connect with the people you love

Offering Support for Caregivers at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living Communities, we know and appreciate how hard caregivers work to provide support, love, and care to their loved ones. We offer a free six-week Dementia Bootcamp series for caregivers that provides education, tips, resources and support for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you’d like to learn more about this series or the many ways in which we care for caregivers, contact us here,we’d love to talk to you.

 

Benefits of Inter-generational Programming and Volunteering

Laura Carstensen, a Stanford psychology professor and Director of the Stanford Center for Longevity, said, “Contrary to widespread beliefs that older populations consume resources that would otherwise go to youth, there is growing reason to think that older people may be just the resource children need.”

Carstensen’s prior research has found that as people age, their brains actually improve in many ways, including in complex problem-solving and emotional skills. “It is a huge loss for society not to offer such counsel and experience to others, especially young people,” she said.

The aging population has “distinctive qualities to meet the needs of youth,” she and her co-authors wrote. “Older adults are exceptionally suited to meet these needs in part because they welcome meaningful, productive activity and engagement. They seek – and need – purpose in their lives.”

As for older adults, Carsten’s report pointed out, they benefit as well, experiencing emotional satisfaction in relationships with young people. One way to achieve such contact is through volunteer service, which is associated with better physical health and cognitive performance for aging people. From a societal view, these interactions are positive, too.

“Focusing volunteer efforts on young people improve their (young people’s) chances of success in life,” Carstensen said. “These mutual benefits are perhaps the most compelling reason for programs that connect young and old.”

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