Ways to Reduce Stress During a Crisis

During this time of global crisis, it’s not uncommon to become overwhelmed by the influx of frightening news, daily changes in protocol, and the loneliness that can accompany self-quarantine. With no end date in sight, uncertainty can cause feelings of anxiety and stress, no matter your situation. While stress isn’t healthy for any individual, it can be especially harmful for older adults. Stress can look very different for each individual and can show up in various ways, both mentally and physically. The first step in addressing your stress is to recognize your symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Stress can be caused by many different factors, such as isolation, changes in a routine, or worry about the future. As we live during these uncertain times, it’s important to check in with your loved ones and evaluate your own body and mind for signs of stress. Here are a few of the most common ways stress can present itself in the body:

Changes in Eating Habits
It’s not uncommon for stress to cause changes in diet. You might have noticed a change in your appetite or food choices, especially in the past few weeks. Overwhelming stress can cause both over-eating and loss of appetite.

Mood Swings
Processing our current global situation can be really difficult, especially as we consume new facts and stories multiple times a day. You might have experienced a change in your mood, such as increased irritability, general sadness, or depression.

Cognitive Decline
Stress can cause havoc on our memory, especially for older adults. Memory issues like increased forgetfulness, lack of concentration, excessive spending, and poor judgment are common behaviors accompanied by overwhelming stress.

Physical Signs
Stress can often present itself physically. If you’re under stress, you might have experienced body aches and pains, headaches, changes in your sleeping patterns, back pain, indigestion, and heart palpitations.

Long-Term Effects of Stress
While signs of stress can be difficult to identify, it’s important to address them quickly. Stress that remains constant for a long period of time can have negative effects, both physically and mentally.

Lowered immune system – Long-term stress can suppress the immune system, increasing our risk of illness and disease. Because older adults are more vulnerable to certain illnesses, further compromising their immune systems could have severe consequences.
Heart problems – To cope with stress, our bodies produce adrenaline, which raises blood pressure and heart rate. When we experience long-term stress, we put additional strain on our hearts, increasing our risk of damaging arteries and heart disease.
Vision and hearing loss – Adrenaline produced during long-term stress can constrict our blood vessels, which can negatively affect our hearing and vision.
Digestive issues – When we are overwhelmed with stress for a long period of time, our central nervous system can decrease its blood flow, causing contraction in our digestive muscles, which can lead to serious digestive problems.
• Dental issues – To cope with stress, many of us clench our jaws and grind our teeth without realizing. If we use these coping methods long-term, we can cause serious damage to our teeth.

Ways to Reduce Stress
While experiencing stress is a normal part of life, the consequences that come with it can have a negative effect on our overall well-being. As these stressful times continue, it’s important to focus on ways to reduce stress and maintain positive physical and mental health.

When we experience stress for long periods of time, it can have a powerful effect on our decision-making abilities, mental clarity, and concentration. While these symptoms can be quite powerful, working through them is simple. Breathing exercises are great tools to help with anxiety and dissipate the negative effects of stress. The next time you feel stressed, here is a simple breathing exercise to practice:
• Choose a comfortable place to lie down or sit, with your shoulders, neck, and head supported.
• Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly with air.
• Breathe out through your nose, placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
• As you breathe in, concentrate on your stomach rising. As you breathe out, feel your stomach lowering.
• Stay for three full breaths.

Simple activities like meditating, journaling, and coloring can also help clear your mind and work through situations that might be causing you stress. Adult coloring books exist, and they leave you with works of art you can frame! If you’re new to journaling, you can always use journals with built-in prompts to make writing feel easier and more natural.

Taking care of your body during stressful times is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Simple movements like walking or stretching can help combat the negative symptoms of stress like tightness, anxiety, and nervousness. While getting to your local gym or rec center might not be possible at the moment, it’s still possible to do simple exercises in the comfort of your own home. The YMCA is offering virtual classes for all members and non-members that you can access right from your computer. Yoga is also a great exercise that can help combat stress while also helping to build strength and flexibility.

You might experience a change in your appetite during stressful times, but ensuring proper nutrition is crucial. Now could be the perfect opportunity to try new recipes or take an online cooking class. While traveling is limited, you can relive your past travels through recreating international dishes. You might consider ordering your groceries through Amazon online, or checking with your local grocery stores to inquire about delivery.

Stress can make you feel lonely, isolated, and depressed. However, there are many different ways to relieve these symptoms of stress while lifting your spirits! First, you might consider limiting your news consumption. Whether you browse the internet, watch the news on TV, or read the paper, consuming too much news, especially during this global pandemic, can cause negative feelings and thinking. Try consuming more positive stories, like reading a book or video chatting with friends and family members.

While we are doing our best to stay at home, we can still go outside. As spring arrives, now is the perfect time to start your garden. Here are some great tips for gardening in a small space like your patio or even inside.

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how stressful times like these can be for both seniors and their families. Thankfully, we’re all in this together. If you’d like to hear more about our communties throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Ohio, please contact us.

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.

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

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.

Preparing Seniors for Emergencies and Isolation

Any major change in the day-to-day lives of seniors can induce stress and anxiety. With the current coronavirus pandemic circling the world, this now more than ever emphasizes the need for us to help prepare our elderly parents and family members for any emergency that may arise.

When we think of how to help the elderly overall, many of us reflect on how we would help our own senior parents.
Here are a few preliminary steps to be prepared.

Emergency Kit – Building an emergency kit can slightly vary for each person, but here are some universal supplies that will come in handy.
Water – Have enough water reserved for at least 7 days (1 gallon per person).
Stock Up on Non-perishable Food Items –Minimize the stress of not having enough on hand. Canned soups, pasta, sauces, cereal, canned vegetables and fruit are all good basic items. Non-dairy almond milk can be kept on the shelf until opened.
Medical Information – If they need medical attention, be sure they have all the necessary information for medical teams. This goes for anyone in your family; however, when someone is elderly they may not remember all the necessary information in an emergency. We recommend getting a Vial of Life kit. This is an invaluable tool for anyone.  It is a free service and it has been created to reduce panic during an emergency situation. Basically, it helps you compile all your medical information into one place, including a copy of an EKG, living will or equivalent, DNR form, power of attorney, and a recent picture of yourself or loved one.

Jeffrey C. Miller, Director of Vial of Life Project says, “People find themselves in emergencies that make it difficult to think straight. At these times, all emergency personnel who are trying to help you need to know many things about you – especially if you have a complex medical history. Medical and emergency staff will want to know things like who you are… what medications you are using… what illnesses you have… who is your emergency contact person… what is your normal blood pressure… are you wearing hearing or seeing devices… do you speak English… and, if not, what language do you speak?” If your parent cannot be an advocate for themselves and you are not able to be there for them, have this put in place first and foremost.

Pre-packaged Medicines – Make sure that they have all the medications they’ll need for two to three months. If they need help organizing them, you can order from Pill Pack. Daily dosages are pre-packaged and sent to them monthly. They can even supply inhalers and insulin. If your loved one needs oxygen, has incontinence, goes to dialysis or needs wound care, make sure you know how to help get supplies and treatment.

Providing Connectivity
Many seniors have been living in social isolation long before it became obligatory, but when an emergency situation arises they will undoubtedly feel more anxious. Having virtual forms of communications set up ahead of time will help alleviate that extra stress.

Support Network – make sure they have a list of people they can call if an emergency arises. It may be wise to have numbers and names printed out and put in an obvious place like on the refrigerator or next to their bed. Additionally, make sure numbers are inputted into their cell phone and add a photo of the person to help jog their memory.

Phones, iPads, or Computers – Set up their devices ahead of time so they can speak to you directly through FaceTime. Boomer Tech Talk has a great piece “How to Set Up and iPad for Elderly Use” along with great tips to keep in mind including saving passwords, keeping security questions written down, and making sure your own email is used for back up. In addition to just chatting on Facetime, it is even possible to play chess via video together, get grandchildren to share their latest art project, or even cook something while on camera.

Set Up A Schedule – Work on a plan for your parents to talk to specific family members on different days. Create a schedule together and get the whole family involved. Our associates at Maplewood talk about how important that has become lately. Residents really miss that social interaction and once they know they will be speaking to someone every other day or so, it gives them something to look forward to. We’ve heard of many grandparents enjoying watching their grandchildren perform little shows for them, singing, or even just showing them a craft or gardening project. Any form of connectivity will help reduce loneliness and isolation.

Remember that these tools for moments of crisis and isolation may change over time depending on your parent’s health and/or level of memory loss. Review every six months to see how they are coping and make adjustments accordingly. Their situation can change quickly and it is wise to continue to evaluate regularly.

At Maplewood Senior Living the health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority during this time of crisis and we too are incorporating the same ideas into the day to day life of our communities. As a result of not being open for tours at this time, you can alternatively take a virtual tour of any of our communities. Please contact us today.

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.


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 the 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 dishes 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:
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.

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.