How to Support Your Senior Loved One During the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and animals. While coronaviruses have been around for a long time, a new strand of the virus, COVID-19 was detected last December in Wuhan China. While researchers are moving quickly to understand the nuances of this novel Coronavirus, there is still a lot that is unknown. However, the older adult population, those 65 and older, is the most vulnerable to the virus and can become severely ill if contracted. As the virus continues to spread in the United States, we’re learning new information daily. While these uncertain times can be worrisome and challenging, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect our seniors.

Everyday Precautions
While young adults can carry the virus, most are predicted to recover quickly with mild to no symptoms at all. Because of this, it’s important that everyone takes the necessary measures to protect seniors from being exposed to the virus. Here are a few simple, yet effect precautions as advised by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds once every hour or more. It’s advised to use hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol, between washes or when soap and water are unavailable.
• Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
• Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, such as handrails, counter tops, gas pumps and door handles.
• Clean and disinfect your home routinely. Make sure to adequately disinfect highly touched surfaces like tables, light switches, doorknobs, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sink, and cell phones.

How to Prevent Spreading the Virus
Even if you are healthy and asymptomatic, you can still be carrying the virus and putting others at risk. Many communities have cancelled events involving large groups to mitigate the spread of the virus, especially to those with preexisting conditions and vulnerable populations. The CDC recommends the following behaviors:
• Practice social distancing by limiting exposure to the public, especially for older adults. Non-emergency appointments should be postponed.
• While it might be difficult, you should consider limiting contact with seniors and avoid hugging and close contact.
• If you feel sick stay at home, even if you are tempted to go into work or to the store.
• Limit trips to public places like the grocery store. Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand.

What to Do if You Get Sick
It’s important to pay attention to how you feel in the coming weeks. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In addition, seniors might experience difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or bluish lips and face. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and help you get the treatment you need. Because hospitals are likely to be understaffed and overpopulated, you might be sent to recover at home if your case is not severe. However, if you experience any warning signs, act immediately by contacting emergency services.

Our Maplewood Senior Living facilities put our residents’ health first. That’s why we’re taking the appropriate precautions to keep our residents and their families healthy. If you’d like to hear more about our offerings please contact us.

*Note due to COVID-19 we are  doing virtual tours at this time.

You’ve Received an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis—Now What?

According to the World Health Organization , dementia is a condition that causes continuous problems with memory functions like thinking, remembering, and changes in behavior. While everyone experiences forgetfulness on occasion, people diagnosed or living with Alzheimer’s or dementia experience these changes more often.

As time goes on, these changes in memory and behavior can get worse. While forgetfulness can be common amongst older adults, dementia is not a normal part of aging. However, there are nearly 10 million new dementia cases each year, with Alzheimer’s disease making up nearly 70% of all diagnoses. While each individual’s case is different, after you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you might be thinking…now what?

You don’t have to wonder about that question alone. In this post, we’ll go through how you can cope with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

Coping with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

For some adults, getting a diagnosis can be a long process. Noticing symptoms, scheduling appointments and tests can be an emotional process. While each person is different, once you finally receive a diagnosis, it’s not uncommon to experience a wide range of emotions, or even to feel numb. You might be wondering what living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is going to be like.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here are a few of the most common emotions people with a dementia diagnosis have experienced:

• Anger- A dementia diagnosis can change the plans you had for your future. It’s natural to feel angry after a diagnosis, especially when you realize the course of the disease cannot be controlled. But there is still hope for a fulfilling life.
• A Sense of Loss- Realizing the direction of your life is not what you had anticipated can cause you to grieve over the plans you have lost.
• Denial- It might take some time to process the diagnosis. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed but it’s important to give yourself time to adjust.
• Relief- A diagnosis can validate concerns you about any symptoms you have been experiencing. You might feel relieved to know the changes you experienced were due to an illness.
• Isolation- Your diagnosis might make you feel isolated and different from those around you. While this feeling is expected, it’s important to know that you are not alone.

Accepting an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

Processing your diagnosis can take some time. However, as you accept your diagnosis, you might find new ways to move forward while cultivating a fulfilling future for yourself and loved ones.

It’s important to find ways to take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Journaling is a great way to identify how you’re feeling, while finding new ways to express yourself. Many communities have support groups that can make it easier for you to cope with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

This can be a wonderful opportunity to build a support system to help you along your own dementia journey. While you work through your own emotions, you might be thinking about sharing the news of your diagnosis with family and friends.

Sharing Your Dementia Diagnosis with Family and Friends

It’s completely normal to be hesitant about sharing your diagnosis with your loved ones. But part of living with Alzheimer’s or dementia means sharing your story with your loved ones. However, as the disease progresses, it’s important to have support systems in place before you even need it.

Telling your family and friends will allow you to build your support system early on and will enable you to face challenges more easily. Remember, you don’t have to tell everyone at one time. You have the ability to choose who you want to tell and how to tell them. Here are a few tips to help you share the news when you’re ready:

• Think about who you want to share your diagnosis with first: You might choose to tell those who you feel closest to or who you spend the most time with. Part of this includes thinking about who you want to be supported by as the disease progresses.
• Go slowly: Sharing your diagnosis can be emotional. You aren’t obligated to talk about everything in one sitting. This can happen over time.
• Take educational brochures with you to begin your conversation: This can be a great way to learn about the disease with those that will be supporting you.
• Let people support you but tell them how you want to be supported: If you want to be supported in certain ways, like help with doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, or cooking meals, it’s important to express this to your friends and family.

Living with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

Once you receive a diagnosis, it’s important to think about a plan for your future. While the diagnosis can be overwhelming at first, eventually you will find a new normal. After all, there are plenty of people who live with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Here are a few ways you can start planning:

Get regular medical care

You might feel like you don’t have control over your disease, but you do have control over your health. It’s important to make regularly scheduled appointments with your primary care doctor or specialist like a neurologist or psychiatrist. Some adults living with dementia find changes in their sleep patterns.

If you experience these kinds of changes, there are non-drug treatments and medications available that will help improve your sleep. In addition, you might consider asking your doctor about clinical trials. Studying dementia through trials will help develop future treatments.

Plan or hire support

As your disease progresses, you might find it difficult to keep up with your day-to-day needs. You might consider hiring a caregiver to help you with housekeeping, medications, meals, and daily chores. If you need help finding a caregiver, you can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for help with these services.

If you haven’t already, it might be helpful to make arrangements for all bills to be paid automatically. This will eliminate any chance of falling behind on your bills. Also, you might consider setting up direct deposit for any checks that you receive consistently.

Plan for your future

Before your disease progresses, it’s crucial to make a financial plan for your future, especially if you live alone. This might include anything from taking inventory of your existing legal documents to making legal plans for your finances and property.

You might consider naming another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can through a power of attorney. You can also put your wishes for medical treatment in a living will. In addition, it’s important you make estate plans through a standard will or living trust.

Find Expert Memory Care Near You

At Maplewood Senior Living, the health of our residents is our number one priority. That’s why we offer regularly scheduled support groups and activities for our residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. To learn more about our memory care near you, or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

Practical Uses of AI and Echo Devices for Seniors

As the baby boomer generation prepares to enter retirement, both the healthcare industry and senior living communities around the nation are beginning to prepare for the dramatic increase in demand of these services. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years or older will increase from 12% to 22% by 2050. This influx in the senior population will demand an increase in healthcare providers and staff, such as caregivers and personal care attendants. Many senior care facilities are already experiencing a demand in healthcare providers exceeding supply by nearly 10%. To reduce the gap in supply, many industry experts are developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that will provide care for seniors in various ways.

Artificial intelligence refers to any theory or development of computer systems designed to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making and speech recognition. Given the increase in adults aged 65 and over, healthcare providers are beginning to utilize AI technologies to track patient information, diagnose diseases, and help treat patients more efficiently. Forbes magazine recently investigated new AI technologies that are being utilized by the healthcare industry for the treatment and care of the elderly. Here are a few ways AI is beginning to change the way we care for seniors.

AI Uses in Healthcare

Home Health Monitoring– New developments in AI are allowing patients to receive care from healthcare providers without making a trip to the doctor’s office. Companies like Careangel are making this possible by offering virtual doctor’s visits through voice-based virtual assistants. In addition, wearable devices can detect changes in activity and behavior patterns that could forecast a health issue to be addressed early. IBM researchers are developing technologies that mirror the care of a private nurse through movement sensors in hallways, flush detectors in toilets, and bed sensors for sleep monitoring.

Smart device assisted fall detection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. To combat this issue, AI devices are being developed to detect falls and fall risks. Starkey has developed a fall detector within its hearing aid, while other companies are developing sensors within smart phone devices that will detect falls and alert emergency services.

Virtual Companions

As baby boomers age, most will require additional care. With the demand of healthcare providers exceeding supply, AI is being developed to close the gap. Robotic helpers will be able to provide daily assistance and companionship. Some robots, like Catalina Health’s Mabu, are conversational robots that can collect data to help with diagnosis and treatment. Intuition Robotics have developed ElliQ, which can hold conversations while also reminding patients to take their medications and lead physical activities to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

Anti-aging research

Not only will AI technologies work to meet the needs of seniors, but it will also allow researchers and scientists to collect data needed for the development of anti-aging products. AI is assisting with research being conducted about the biological process of aging and how the food we eat impacts our ability to age well.

While artificial intelligence is being used by healthcare industry professionals and researchers to help change the process of aging, it’s also being widely utilized in the home. Virtual personal assistants, like Amazon’s Echo, are becoming increasingly popular for older adults because of their many benefits from physical health to entertainment.

Practical Uses of Echo Devices

While new technology can be intimidating for some, many older adults are starting to rely on virtual personal assistants to help complete basic daily tasks. These devices are user friendly and especially helpful for seniors with low vision or hearing loss. From checking the weather to reminding you to take medication, Amazon’s Echo can help ease the aging process in many ways.

Play music

Recent research suggests that listening to music can actually improve brain-processing speed in older adults. Additional research suggests that music can help provoke memories for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Now, with virtual personal assistants becoming a common household item, music can be played just by giving your device a simple command.

Keep track of lists

Managing daily tasks can be difficult for anyone, especially for those experiencing age-related memory loss. The Amazon Echo makes creating a to-do list simple and organized. The Echo has the ability to categorize different lists, such as a grocery list or a to-do list. You can recall, edit, or mark completed items on your list by giving your device a command.

Alert emergency services

Your virtual personal assistance can be connected to your smart phone and enabled to make phone calls by accessing your contacts. The Ask My Buddy skill allows your phone to send alerts to chosen contacts on command. In the event of a fall or injury and without access to your cell phone, you can command your Echo to call your specified “buddies.” Echo can’t make direct 911 calls, but with the help of an additional device, Echo Connect, your virtual personal assistant will be able to contact emergency services directly.

Manage your calendar

The Echo gives you the ability to organize your week and day by managing your calendar. You can add appointments and activities to your calendar by giving a simple command like, “Add an event to my calendar.” Your device also has the ability to remind you what is on your schedule for the day.

Set reminders

You can use your Echo to set medication reminders, which can be helpful if you have trouble remembering to take them or if you have several medications. You can choose which day and time to receive your alert. In addition, you can program other alerts into your device, such as feeding your dog or watering your plants.

Entertainment

Your echo isn’t only for practical everyday use, it can also be used for fun. You can play trivia games and stream audiobooks and podcasts. Echo can even guide you in simple exercises by adding skills such as EngAGE or 7-minute Workout.

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know the great benefits that can come with utilizing innovative technology. Virtual personal assistants can be set up for residents to learn about upcoming activities, play music, ask questions, and seek help when needed. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Why Museums are Important for Seniors

As adults continue to age and enter into their retirement years, there’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of staying busy. Being an active older adult, whether this means going out to dinner with friends or taking a walk each morning, has been linked to decreasing the risk of depression and isolation, while increasing cognitive health. While any type of activity is beneficial, new research suggests that visiting a museum might actually help you live longer.

According to the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University College London found that older adults who visited just one exhibition a year had a 14% lower risk of early mortality. In addition, those who visited exhibitions regularly benefited from a 31% lower risk of early death. Not only can visiting museums promote longevity, it also provides a wide variety of both emotional and physical benefits.

Benefits of Visiting Museums

Whether you prefer art, history, or nature, there truly is a museum for everyone to enjoy. Along with being entertained, especially during winter months, the act of visiting a museum can help stimulate your emotional and cognitive skills. The next time you find yourself at a museum, here’s what you’re doing for yourself without even knowing it:

Nurturing Your Inner Student
No matter your interest or museum of choice, visiting an exhibition allows you to learn something new while exercising your critical thinking skills. All museums require us to be still, interpret what we’re seeing, and reflect on its meaning. At the end of the visit, you walk away knowing more than when you arrived.

Unleashing Your Creative Side
Art museums, in particular, allow us to tap into our creative sides. As we get older, our creative minds can often get neglected. Visiting an art museum is a great way to exercise our inner artist just by looking at what’s in front of us.

Building Your Inner Circle
As we age, the importance of socializing becomes important for our health. Isolation can affect many older adults. Visiting a museum gives us the opportunity to socialize with those around us and provides a common ground for conversation with other museumgoers.

Helping Those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

The benefits of visiting a museum have not been lost on those who care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Museums are even developing specific programs. The American Alliance of Museums highlighted in a piece on “Older Adults and Programming for People with Dementia” some specific programming happening in California. “The Museum of Photographic Arts, in San Diego, CA offers two notable programming initiatives for people with memory loss, and what I find most interesting is their approach to both engagement and assessment.

Tips for Visiting Museums

While making a spur of the moment trip to the museum on a rainy day is a great idea, it can be helpful to do some planning in advance. As you choose which museum you want to visit, you might consider using these simple tips to make your trip more enjoyable.

Call ahead– Before you pack up your car and begin your trip, it’s important to call your museum of choice to check their hours of operation. You might also ask when the busy visiting times are throughout the day in order to avoid crowds.
Utilize audio tours and assistive hearing devices– Many museums offer guided audio tours of their exhibitions for an additional cost. This can enhance your experience, while also allowing you to learn more about what you’re seeing. Check with your museum to see if you need to reserve the audio tour ahead of time.
Book a private tour– Many museums have volunteer docents available to give private tours of the exhibit. Many of these docents study the exhibit ahead of time and are very knowledgeable on the subject matter. Not only can the docents give you an inside look at most exhibits, but they often know more details than what is offered on a brochure or wall description.
Pack water and snacks– If your museum allows you to bring food with you, make sure to take advantage of it. Pack water and your meal or a few snacks with you since you will be walking and standing for long periods of time.
Enjoy with a group– Visiting a museum is a great opportunity for socialization. Invite a few friends or your loved ones to visit with you!

Maplewood Senior Living and Museums

Our Maplewood communities have monthly field trips for residents and a trip to a museum is always a favorite. Delmy Flagg, Memory Care Director at Maplewood at Weston told us about a recent trip to the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston. “The residents found a lot of tranquility visiting the bright beautiful gardens at the museum. They also got to appreciate European, Asian, and American art, sculpture, tapestries and decorative arts. We also talked about the art pieces that were stolen in 1990. They were estimated to be $500 million and the $10 million reward that still open for anyone that may have any information about the stolen pieces of art. Varied conversations about the stolen art lead into a discussion on technology and security and residents commented on how quickly technological security has changed in such a short time.” It goes to show how a museum trip prompts conversation and engagement.

No matter where you live, there’s always a museum to visit. If you’re not sure which museums are in your city or community, you can use this museum finder to see museums in your location. Here are a few museums near our Maplewood facilities to get you started.

For our Maplewood communities in Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland documents the history of rock music including notable artists, producers, and engineers who have influenced the music industry throughout the years. Right now, at the museum, you can unleash your inner musician at the Garage exhibit, which features 12 instrument stations and a freestyle jam session room. Once you’re all rocked out, head over to the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall to learn about rock’s earliest artists.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to nearly four million specimens and includes exhibits featuring paleontology, zoology, and archaeology. Now until April, museumgoers can learn about Giganotosaurus, T.Rex’s bigger and badder cousin.

For our Maplewood communities in Connecticut
• Located in New Haven, the Yale University Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of art. From early Italian painting to modern art, this gallery is the place to be for all art enthusiasts. The gallery is free to the public and is currently featuring art by award-winning artist, James Prosek.
• Located in Danbury, the Danbury Museum and Historical Society acquires and preserves the city’s extensive history. The museum highlights historical buildings that would have been demolished if it weren’t for the loyal citizens of Danbury.

For our Maplewood communities in Massachusetts
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston features the incredible art collection of Mrs. Gardner, including pieces by John Singer Sargent and Sandro Botticelli. The Museum also highlights its highly publicized robbery in 1990.

Pursuing Personal Growth at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important continuous learning is for brain function and overall health. That’s why our residents have new and exciting opportunities to learn each day. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or schedule a tour of one of our many communities, please contact us.

Senior Nutrition: Blue Zone Inspired Meals at Maplewood

Bestselling author and founder of Blue Zones, Dan Buettner, has been writing about and studying regions in the world called Blue Zones. Aptly named because they have the highest number of centenarians in the world, Buettner has been collecting time-tested recipes of foods that promote longer life.
In a recent article in National Geographic (January 2020), Buettner revisits four key locations that he visited over fourteen years ago; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan, and Loma Linda, California. The diets in these four regions are based primarily on plants and grains, tubers, and nuts. Eating minimally processed foods appears to have a great impact on the overall health of the people living in these regions, for example, “On Okinawa, as compared to the United States, residents are three times as likely to reach 100, women suffer about half the rate of breast cancer, both sexes are afflicted by a third to a quarter the rate of heart disease, and elderly people die from Alzheimer’s dementia a tenth to a twelfth the rate.”

Senior Nutrition at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, improving the health of our residents, their memory and slowing the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia, are an integral part of what we do in our communities. Our meals are filled with variety including new and seasonally inspired choices every day. We provide a combination of locally sourced food with a global infusion and many dishes have ingredients that help brain health and memory. While we like to offer residents meals that they are familiar with we also like to keep their taste buds active by offering newer variations and some vegetable-based options.
At Maplewood at Southport, Culinary Service Director, Catie Eykelhoff, incorporates Blue Zone diets into her lunch service. She told us, “We offer a different Chef’s Power Bowl each day. Items and options vary with season and availability. Some of the most popular are our Grain Bowls which tend to focus on hearty grains, vegetables and great flavor combinations that residents may not have had before. More than often they are plant-based, protein-packed and include a variety of flavors and textures which fall into a Blue Zone Diet. “
To recreate these recipes at home is simple. We recommend making some of the core ingredients ahead of time such as the barley, brown rice and quinoa then each day you can layer in different combinations to suit your taste. If you’d like to recreate the bowls Chef Catie demonstrated for us, the recipes are below.

Chef’s Power Bowls
Tuscan Inspired Power Bowl: Barley, Kale, Broccolini, Tomatoes, Cannellini Beans, Toasted Pine Nuts, Garlic, Basil, Balsamic Reduction.
• 1 cup Barley (cooked)
• 1 cup Kale (shredded)
• 4 Broccolini (blanched
• 10 Grape Tomatoes (cut in half)
• 1/3 cup Cannellini Beans (cooked or canned)
• ¼ cup Toasted Pine Nuts
• 1 Tablespoon Roasted Garlic
• Basil Leaves for garnish
• Balsamic Reduction drizzle

Asian Inspired Power Bowl: Brown Rice, Avocado, Sautéed Mushrooms, Shredded Cabbage, Bean Sprouts, Roasted Peanuts, Seasoned Tofu, Sriracha-Soy Glaze.
• 1 cup Brown Rice (cooked)
• ½ Avocado (sliced)
• ¼ cup Mushrooms (sautéed)
• ¼ cup Green Beans (blanched)
• 1 Tablespoon Almonds (sliced)
• 3 ounces Seasoned Tofu (pan-seared)
• Sriracha-Soy Glaze

Mediterranean Inspired Power Bowl: Quinoa, Green Chickpeas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Olives, Sunflower Seeds, Lemon-Tahini Drizzle.
• 1 cup Quinoa (cooked)
• ¼ cup Green Chickpeas)
• 1 Roasted Sweet Potato (sliced or diced)
• ½ cup baby Spinach
• ¼ cup Olives
• 1 Tablespoon Sunflower Seeds
• Lemon-Tahini Drizzle
• Note: Starting at the top, layer or section all ingredients into a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing.

If you’ve been a big meat eater your whole life, it will take time to make changes. Small steps at a time make a difference. Consider incorporating new foods that are known for boosting your brain and memory. Perhaps pick one day a week to go meat-free? Or try something new each week like adding turmeric into a soup or chicken dish? Even dark chocolate is reported to help boost your mood and your memory. Pick up a copy of The Blue Zones Kitchen (100 Recipes to Live to 100) for some inspiration on senior nutrition.

Promoting Senior Nutrition at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living we know how important eating well is, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide our residents with delicious meals sourced from local farms and businesses. If you are interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour and sample our healthy options, please feel free to contact us.

The Benefits of Laughing for Seniors

Regardless of age, laughter and humor continue to be an important element in all our lives. Both staff, caregivers, and residents at Maplewood Senior Living not only need laughter but appreciate it to help alleviate stress, clarify thought processes, create common social bonds, and redirect behaviors.

According to Caregiver.com, “Laughter establishes or restores a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together – the more social a person is and the more social support a person receives, the more likely that laughter will result from that social connection. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your relationships.”

Psychology Today talks about other benefits, “it reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.” An article from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has piece which notes that “given that laughter and humor is a key element to happiness and is often used as a therapeutic tool for depression, both traditionally and more recently in the form of “Laughter Yoga” it could potentially be used to counteract the effects of depression and aid in new approaches to lifestyle change.”

Holly Michaud, the Lifestyle Director at Maplewood at Brewster told us about their Humor Based Programs that can be found throughout the day at their community. “We are careful and respectful in how we express it – but always looking for a way to add joy and laughter to our residents’ lives. It can’t be phony… must be genuine… and must be meant to put residents at ease rather than feel uncomfortable. Humor and laughter are natural parts of our relationships throughout the community and just as important as any other element of our daily interactions!”

Programs at Maplewood Senior Living that regularly focus on the benefits of laughing are:
a. Laugh Out Loud – a weekly program that features famous/classic comedians; comedy skits; trending You-Tube videos; life’s funniest moments; bloopers, etc. Offered following mid-day dinner before transitioning into more serious programming.
b. Wit & Wisdom – A discussion of truth found in famous/funny idioms and proverbs
c. Comedy Club – A cocktail party with featured resident comedians and “Pass the Hat” joke-telling
d. Brewster Flats (resident chorus) performances – Always include an element of my joke telling that everyone looks forward to “booing!”
e. Knowledge Quest/Brain-Body Boost Programs – Incorporate an element of humor to enhance brain function and release endorphins
f. Currents Events Discussion – Sometimes required to end on a positive note!
g. Special Events – Select residents (and staff) perform in character (L’il Abner; Scarecrow; deli owners at Pub Party; Mob Boss; Gumdrop at Christmas) all to create an interactive atmosphere of humor.
Humor and laughter also offer some surprises. A resident at Brewster, Chuck Rosenbach, is a “regular” character for special events. He loves to dress up as different characters and puts great effort into crafting his costumes to give residents a good chuckle. Other residents have quite a repertoire of great jokes and a wonderful delivery style. It gives them great purpose and self-worth to be asked to share jokes. Giving them the opportunity to express humor and spread the health benefits of laughter is absolutely contagious within the senior living community.

Explore the Health Benefits of Laughter at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important laughter is, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide our residents with stimulating programs that get them laughing. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact us here.

Technology and Dementia

An adult child caregiver helping a loved one with

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is an overall term for diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Of the 5 million individuals diagnosed with age-related dementia’s in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 80% of these cases. As dementia progresses, it can cause patients to lose some of their independence and rely on caregivers to help them complete daily tasks like bathing, eating, and getting dressed. The Alzheimer’s Association reported that nearly 48% of all caregivers in the United States provide care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Because many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients rely heavily on caregivers, it can cause a loss of independence and autonomy. However, in recent years, new technology has allowed those diagnosed with memory disorders to feel independent for longer.

Benefits of Technology to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

Assistive technology is a term often used to refer to items, devices or technological systems used by individuals to make daily living a little easier. There a number of assistive technology devices designed specifically for those with memory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While these technologies won’t completely eliminate the need for caregiving support, they can promote feelings of independence. Here are a few ways assistive technology can be beneficial for those with cognitive diseases, especially a form of dementia:
Safety
Some assistive technology devices are designed specifically to keep people safe. Items like motion sensors and automatic lights can be installed to decrease the risks of falls or related injuries. Devices such as medical alert pendants and smart home devices can be programmed to contact emergency services when they are needed.

Everyday Living

Other technologies are designed to help complete basic daily tasks like remembering when to take your medicine, automated curtain controls, robot vacuums, and touch censored toilets and sinks. As dementia progresses, it can affect a person’s range of motion, making it difficult to bend fingers and hands. Devices designed towards everyday living allow a person to complete tasks in a different way.

Location Monitoring
In some cases, dementia patients can often become wander risks. This can quickly become a scary situation for both the patient and the caregiver. Some assistive technology devices such as door and exit sensors can immediately alert family members or caregivers when a loved one has left.

Communication
As dementia progresses, communication can become difficult. Some technologies provide innovative ways to communicate with healthcare providers, family members, and friends to encourage socialization, while also receiving timely answers to medical questions.

Technology and Dementia: Available Types

Whether you’re a caregiver supporting someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or if you have been diagnosed with a memory disease, there are many assistive devices that can help complete daily tasks. Here are a few devices you might find helpful:
Calendar Apps can be helpful for both the caregiver and the person receiving support. Apps such as Google Calendar can be set up to give reminders for appointments or tracking medication schedules.
Video calling services such as Skype and FaceTime can help those living with dementia feel more connected with their families, especially if they live far away.
Voice-activated assistants can provide entertainment, reminders, and safety alerts. These devices offered by Amazon and Google can play music, read audiobooks, tell jokes, and even be set up to control the lights in your house. These devices can be programmed to call emergency services in the event of a fall, injury, or other medical situations.
Adapted Telephones are programmed with important numbers of family and friends to eliminate the pressure of remembering them for those with dementia. Some phones even give the option of programming a picture of a loved one to correspond with their telephone numbers.
Automated pill dispensers are relatively inexpensive and can be easily programmed to make a signal when it’s time to take medication. This can be helpful especially as the disease progresses and memory gets worse.
A dementia-friendly music player is another device to consider especially if your loved one enjoys listening to music. Many studies have shown that listening to calming music can have a positive effect on dementia patients. Some speakers can be programmed to play certain songs for a specified amount of time. The large buttons make it easy to control the volume.

Technology and Dementia: iPad Apps for Alzheimer’s Patients

In addition to assistive technology devices, the iPad has shown to help those diagnosed with dementia improve their cognitive and communication skills. Because of its user-friendly and lightweight design, the iPad can be used easily by dementia patients. Here are some apps that were created specifically for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Labyrinth 2 HD– This app is designed to help those with dementia strengthen their cognitive skills by working to navigate mazes, which can be made more or less challenging by changing the level.
MindMate– Designed specifically to strengthen the mind, this app provides games and mental exercises that help enhance problem-solving skills, speed, memory, and attention. There are also exercise and nutrition lessons available on the platform.
Peak-Brain Training– Developed by neuroscientists, this app offers over 40 games designed to challenge cognitive skills while also encouraging creativity and mental agility. In addition to a wide variety of games, the app also provides a personal trainer for the brain called, “Coach.” Coach tracks progress and also provides suggestions for improvement.

Finding Additional Support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important it is to exercise the brain, especially for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. That’s why we provide residents the opportunity to learn new iPad games and programs to help improve and maintain their cognitive skills. If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact us.

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.

 

The Senior Downsizing Dilemma

Downsizing is a normal part of aging, especially for those who transition into an assisted living facility or independent living. For many older adults, downsizing can be a particularly emotional experience. Many seniors have lived in their homes for the greater part of their lives, accumulating possessions along the way. Alongside possessions, our homes carry some of our most cherished memories, which can make transitioning into a new residence even harder. While the process will be difficult, there are many ways to make the transition less chaotic.

Common Senior Downsizing Dilemmas

Senior downsizing can be a personal experience that is different for every person. However, there are some common hardships that arise with downsizing for older adults.
The task seems too big to handle
When you take a look around at all the stuff you have to move, it probably seems like an impossible task. The key to a successful transition is to start sorting through your things one room at a time. Start by slowly clearing out a bookshelf, a dresser drawer, or a closet and the process won’t seem as daunting in the long run.
What to give? What to keep?
Everything you own might not give you the same sense of joy it did at one time. If this happens, it’s okay to let it go, even if you’ve had it for many years and even if it is expensive. The goal for a successful downsize is to choose items that are useful to you and help you feel great about your life.
How to sort through clothing
Clearing out old clothing can be surprisingly difficult for many people. For some, clothing represents different parts of their life, while for others clothing is a vehicle of expression. You might consider bringing items that you tend to wear most often, while donating those you haven’t worn in years.
How to part with sentimental items
This is one of the most difficult aspects of downsizing. Fortunately, you don’t have to part with sentimental items. If your new home cannot accommodate all of your precious possessions, you might consider asking your family members to keep them safe. This way, your items are accessible when you want them.

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

If you foresee a potential move in your future, or perhaps your parent is transitioning into a senior living community, there are many ways to make downsizing a manageable task. AARP and Chicago Health published a list of suggestions to make senior downsizing feel less monumental. You might consider using these tips to make your transition a smooth one.
• Give Yourself Enough Time- While situations and health conditions can be hard to predict, many older adults find themselves moving into a retirement facility or assisted living urgently. The goal is to give yourself enough time to move in an intentional way. Many times, when the moving process is rushed, items you wish to hold onto are accidently misplaced or donated. Even if you haven’t planned a move, you might consider slowly sorting through your items in preparation of a downsize.

Communicate Efficiently– If your aging parents are having trouble maintaining their home and haven’t considered downsizing, you might start talking with them about beginning to clear out their space. Carefully approach the subject with genuine concern, while showing your support. You might say something like “I cleaned out my own garage and found some really great items. Would you like me to help you do the same?” As the topic continues, always remind your parents that they have a say in the matter, and respect their decisions.

Set Realistic Goals– Knowing where to begin downsizing can feel like an enormous task. Start with setting small and manageable goals, like clearing out one room per week. Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary items like tape, boxes, and markers. And, don’t forget to make the process fun! Enjoy yourself as you go through your belongings, take breaks, and make sure to stay hydrated.

Sort Through Your Belongings– As you go through your items, try sorting them into different piles. Categorizing your piles for different uses can be helpful as well. You might consider creating spaces for items to take with you, give to family, sell, donate, and to throw away.

Donate What You Can– Many organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will pick up any furniture, clothing, and décor free of charge. Make sure to call and confirm what you plan on giving away to make sure they will take it. Items that are stained or broken won’t usually be accepted.

Keep the Memories, not the Clutter– When downsizing, many items can be compressed. For example, photo albums and home movies can be digitized and stored on DVDs or on a hard drive for easy access and storage. If you have a collection of items, like teapots or mugs, consider keeping a few of your favorite items and finding a home for the rest.

Make Your New Space a Home– Senior downsizing is an emotional experience. Take time to appreciate your new space by decorating, organizing, and make sure to have fun with this new chapter. Recreating your new space to feel new or even to look like the home you’ve left can help ease the transition. Showcase your favorite items and remember to be gentle with yourself during this time of transition.

Senior Downsizing Resources

Downsizing comes with unexpected difficulties and obstacles, but fortunately there are many resources to guide you along the way. The resources below offer many suggestions and tips to making your downsizing transition smooth and stress free.
AARP provides a “Home Fit Guide” that takes you through each step of downsizing. From packing lists, tips on hiring a contractor, and resources for home-design, AARP will give you’re the resources you need so nothing is a surprise.
National Association of Senior Move Managers help older adults navigate the emotional and physical nuances that come with downsizing. These managers help with the physical aspects of the move, while also helping you cope with the emotions that come with transitioning out of your home.
Family Caregiver Alliance provides caregivers the resources they need to help support an older adult in their time of transition.

Downsizing Your Responsibilities at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we understand the difficulties that come with downsizing. We help seniors focus on all the time and energy they gain by relinquishing the responsibilities of home ownership. Retirement is meant to be a chance to explore new hobbies, rekindle past interests and find what makes them happy. To learn more about our offerings and how we can help residents cope with their transition, contact us today.

The Importance of Gut Health for Seniors

Seniors should learn more about the importance of gut health as they age.

It’s obvious that maintaining our gut health is important because it helps us absorb nutrients into our bodies, which we need in order to live. But, what isn’t as obvious is the importance of gut health when it comes to other aspects of our well-being. In fact, science suggests that our gut health is inherently linked to our brain health. At any age, it’s not uncommon to experience digestive issues like stomach aches or indigestion. But, as we get older these and other issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas can become common occurrences.

Just as our bodies change with age, so does our gut. Our gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria that play an important part in nutrient absorption and digestion, becomes less diverse the older we get. This can lead to weak digestion and reduced nutrient absorption, ultimately causing abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating. When we experience these gut problems, it’s also a signal that something else in our bodies might need to be addressed.

Importance of Gut Health: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

There are many reasons that your gut might be unhealthy. Food, medicine, and stress can all affect the way our guts work. According to Healthline magazine, there are a lot of ways to tell if your gut might be imbalanced. Here are the top warning signs people with an unhealthy gut experience:

Upset stomach
The most obvious sign of an unhealthy gut or imbalanced microbiome is experiencing stomach disturbances. These can look like bloating and gas or constipation and diarrhea. On the other hand, a balanced gut won’t have problems with digesting and will feel normal.

High sugar diet
If your diet is mostly comprised of highly processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, you run the risk of decreasing the good bacteria in your gut. The problem with sugar is that the more you eat, the more you crave, which can cause you to damage your gut even more. In addition, sugar, especially refined sugar, which we find in processed foods, can cause inflammation resulting in discomfort and even lead to some diseases.

Unintentional weight changes
If you’re experiencing unwanted or unintentional weight loss or gain, it might be because your gut bacteria are imbalanced. An unhealthy gut is unable to absorb the nutrients and fat we need for energy. This can cause weight gain through overeating when our bodies don’t absorb nutrients, or weight loss because of bacterial overgrowth.

Sleep disturbances
Serotonin, which is produced in the gut, is a hormone that affects our sleep. When we have an unhealthy gut, it can result in an imbalance of serotonin, which can lead to insomnia and fatigue.

Skin irritation
Our gut has such a large effect on our body’s health that not understanding the importance of gut health can lead to skin conditions. Diseases like eczema and other skin conditions can be caused by gut inflammation due to an imbalanced diet or food allergies.

Autoimmune conditions
An unhealthy gut has the capacity to increase inflammation all over the body. When this happens long enough, it is thought to alter the way our immune system is supposed to work. This can cause autoimmune disease, which means our bodies attack the immune system instead of harmful bacteria.

Food intolerances
Most people have slight food intolerances, even if they are unaware of them. This means that our bodies have difficulty digesting different foods. If we don’t have the right kinds of bacteria in our gut to process these foods, it can often lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, pain, and nausea.

Importance of Gut Health: Tips for Improving Yours

When we think about important parts of our bodies, we might immediately think of the brain, heart, and lungs. But the truth is that our guts are just as valuable. In fact, some researchers refer to the gut as “the second brain” because of its deep impact on the rest of the body. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your gut healthy and working properly.

Diversify your diet
Our guts are comprised of hundreds of different types of bacteria. In order to keep these helpful bacteria in our guts, it’s important to eat a variety of foods full of different nutrients. We can do this by trying different vegetables, eating food that is grown locally and focus on foods that are in season.

Concentrate on fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens
Our guts need a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, most of which can be found in fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. Not only can we get the nutrients we need, but these foods also decrease the risk of disease-causing bacteria in our gut.

Eat whole grains
Our guts need help growing good bacteria in order to prevent our risk of disease and illness. Whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, and oats help promote the growth of good bacteria while also increasing feelings of fullness and reducing inflammation.

Add more probiotics to your diet
Probiotic foods help aid digestion and reduce inflammation while also generating various vitamins. Some foods high in probiotics include yogurt, cheese, kefir, and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.

The Importance of Gut Health: The Impact on Dementia and Depression

Our guts play a large role in our health and wellbeing, but recent research suggests its impact on our health might be much larger than we thought initially. In fact, a recent study conducted through the Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders suggests that those who have been diagnosed with dementia have a vastly different population of bacteria in their gut when compared to those who have never been diagnosed.

In addition, some studies suggest that the foods we eat can have a tremendous impact on our mental health. Some researchers suggest that an increased intake of high sugar and fatty foods can cause depressive symptoms, while eating a well-balanced diet staves off depressive symptoms.

Exploring a Healthier Lifestyle at Maplewood Senior Living

Maplewood Senior Living takes gut health, and overall health, seriously. That’s why one of our priorities is to offer foods high in nutrients and minerals in order to keep our residents happy and healthy. Every day offers residents a new chance to pursue a healthier lifestyle. If you’d like to hear more about our culinary offerings or to tour our facilities, please contact us here.