Benefits of Eating Fish for Older Adults

Healthy eating and practicing proper nutrition are important at any age, but it becomes more so as we get older. As we age, our bodies don’t always absorb nutrients as well as they once did. Therefore, it’s important to pay special attention to what we eat and prioritize nutrient-dense foods. While lean meats are great sources of protein, which help our bodies function properly, chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meat. Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy diet and can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and the most common type of stroke.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least eight ounces of seafood per week. Fish contain high amounts of protein, healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins B-12 and D, and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Experts also agree that consuming fish can promote heart and brain health.

Fish Help You Have a Healthy Heart
Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that act as an energy source and help keep the lungs, blood vessels, and immune system functioning properly. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel, tuna, and oysters. These omega-3 fatty acids aid in healthy brain function, reduce inflammation and arthritis, and can even reduce the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and diabetes. Some research also suggests that omega-3s have a positive effect on gradual memory loss commonly associated with aging.

Health Benefits of Eating Fish
In addition to protecting the heart and brain, eating fish regularly has been linked to other health benefits. Fish can impact many functions of the body, including your liver, quality of sleep, and weight management. Some of the main benefits of eating fish include:
Lowers risk of heart disease
According to some studies, consuming fish has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids work to prevent inflammation, which helps protect the heart and decrease the risk of other chronic diseases.
Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Fish consumption can increase gray brain matter, which prevents brain deterioration and shrinkage, both of which can cause a decline in brain function. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who ate baked or broiled fish once per week had a lower risk of developing either Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.
Lowers symptoms of depression
Researchers believe that omega-3 fatty acids are linked to the functioning of serotonin in the brain, which plays an important role in mood regulation. Wild-caught fish such as salmon and sardines are believed to help fight depression and manage its symptoms.
Improves vision and eye health
Both the eyes and brain rely on heavy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to maintain their health and function. Consuming fish, which is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, can help improve vision and maintain eye health.
Improves quality of sleep
Research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids consistently can have a positive impact on sleep quality. Regularly consuming fish can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your overall function during waking hours. According to Psychology Today, DHA, a type of omega-3 fat, stimulates melatonin, which is a key hormone that facilitates sleep.
Alleviates arthritis
Many older adults suffer from arthritis or the swelling and inflammation of one or more of their joints. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body and can help lessen the symptoms of various types of arthritis.
Lowers blood pressure
According to the Mayo Clinic, inflammation in the body can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids can help benefit heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clotting, and reducing irregular heartbeats. Researchers suggest consuming two servings per week of fish to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Best Types of Fish to Eat
According to Healthline Magazine, some fish contain contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, which can negatively impact our health. However, the following fish are eco-friendly and have lower rates of mercury and contaminants:

Alaskan salmon. Both farmed and wild salmon contain omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals. While there’s a debate over which one is better, both can provide the same health benefits.

Cod. This white fish option contains phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B-12, and nearly 20 grams of protein in a three-ounce portion.

Mackerel. This oily fish is packed with healthy fats which can improve endurance, aid in exercise recovery, and also improve skin health.

Sardines. Sardines are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In addition, sardines are also packed with protein, which is essential for building healthy bones and maintaining muscle mass.

Tuna. Tuna is rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. In addition, the omega-3s present in tuna can help the risk of stroke and heart attack, while also improving the immune system.

Chef Giovanni Dillard from Maplewood at Danbury shared a fish recipe that her residents love.

Pan-Seared Salmon with an Orange Ginger Glaze

4oz salmon

2tsp Parsley

Salt and Pepper to liking

1tsp Garlic powder

4 tsp Olive oil

Flour

2tsp butter

2tsp flour

1tsp Ginger

1tsp chopped garlic

1 C Orange juice

  1.  Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil
  2. Rub salmon with spice mixture
  3. Take a frying pan on medium heat (let the pan get hot for about 3 minutes)
  4. Olive oil 2tsp in pan and sear salmon till golden
  5. Take salmon and place on cooking sheet and bake on 325 for about 10 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145

Orange ginger glaze

  1. In the same saucepan,  take butter garlic, and ginger cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Next, add flour and cook until light brown
  3. Add orange juice and cook until thick

Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes. I like serving with asparagus but any vegetable will do. This is a simple recipe that takes from start to finish about 20 minutes!!

Ways to Incorporate Fish into Your Diet

If you’re not used to consuming fish as a part of your regular diet, incorporating it into your weekly routine might seem daunting. However, there are a few quick and easy ways to add fish into your routine without having to spend much time preparing it.

Many dietitians suggest substituting tuna for chicken when preparing recipes such as chicken salad or chicken casseroles. Adding fish to your breakfast can be as simple as serving smoked salmon with your eggs or topping it on your favorite bagel. You might consider adding fish to your favorite pasta dishes, on your tacos, or adding it to a stir-fry or homemade sauce. Fish can also be a quick on-the-go snack. Tuna and salmon pouches can be eaten alone, on crackers and salads, or in a sandwich for a quick, protein-packed meal.

Cooking with Fish at Maplewood Senior Living
Maintaining a healthy diet is important no matter your age. However, at Maplewood Senior Living, we know how much diet can impact overall wellness for older adults. Our excellent culinary team uses the freshest ingredients and heart-healthy recipes when preparing meals and food options for our residents. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Senior Sleep: Why It’s So Important

Older adults ages 65 and above need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 1 in 3 older adults fail to meet the minimum requirement of sleep each night. While some older adults might prefer to change their sleeping patterns as they age, such as going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier, the amount of sleep they need doesn’t differ much compared to their younger years. However, there are many different reasons older adults might not be getting adequate sleep. For some, feeling sick, experiencing pain and the increased frequency of urination can affect the overall quality of sleep. As we age, our risk of health problems increases and the medications used to treat these issues can actually interfere with our sleep duration and quality. Although it’s common for older adults to experience changes in their sleep, it’s important to resolve these issues, as sleep is responsible for maintaining many functions of the body.

Importance of Sleep for the Body

We rely on sleep to carry us through the day and give our bodies energy to function properly. Getting adequate rest each night allows our blood pressure to regulate itself, reducing the chances of high blood pressure and other sleep-related conditions. Our mental health is also impacted by sleep. Research suggests a link between lack of sleep and increased risk of depression. In fact, a recent study suggests that sleep is a contributing factor in deaths by suicide. A lack of sleep can also impact our ability to relate to and connect with others. Some studies have even suggested that a person’s emotional empathy, or the ability to recognize and relate to other people’s emotions and expressions, is less when they don’t get enough sleep.

Adequate, high-quality sleep gives our bodies time to repair themselves. In fact, research shows a link between sleep and reducing inflammation in the body. For example, those with gastrointestinal diseases have an increased risk of flare-ups during periods of sleep deprivation. Sleep helps the body regenerate and recover, allowing the body to better fight off infection and illness.

Aging and Sleep Quality

It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience changes in their sleep quality as they age. According to the Sleep Foundation, our body’s “master clock,” located in the brain’s hypothalamus is composed of 20,000 cells that make up the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which controls our circadian rhythms. These circadian rhythms influence our daily cycles, like when we get hungry, tired and when certain hormones are released in the body. As we age, so does our SCN. Deterioration in the function of the SCN can disrupt these rhythms, affecting when we feel tired and alert.

Light serves as one of the most powerful cues in maintaining circadian rhythms. Older adults are less likely to get efficient exposure to sunlight, which can affect the functioning of the SCN and throw off our circadian rhythms. As we age, the body secretes less melatonin, which can also play a role in disrupted sleep.

Common Sleep Issues in Older Adults

It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience sleep issues that result in sleep deprivation or other related side effects. Researchers suggest that more than half of older adults suffer from insomnia. Chronic sleep problems can interfere with our body’s ability to regulate itself, complete daily activities, and decrease our quality of life. According to the Sleep Foundation, common sleep changes with age include:

Pain. Discomfort can cause sleep disturbances including poor quality of sleep or waking up in the middle of the night. This can be especially disruptive for those with chronic pain disorders like arthritis, nerve damage, and lower back pain.
Nighttime urination. Frequent nighttime urination, or nocturia, affects nearly 70% of men and 75% of women above the age of 70. Nighttime urination can disturb sleep patterns and increase the risk of fall-related injuries.
Daytime drowsiness. Excessive daytime sleepiness is often a sign of other underlying sleep issues like sleep apnea. In addition, it can also be a warning sign of cognitive impairment or cardiovascular diseases.
Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when there are pauses in breathing during sleep. This can occur when there is a repeated or partial collapse of the upper airway. Symptoms can include headaches, daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating.
Restless leg syndrome. This causes an urge to move the legs while resting or sleeping and can result in involuntary movements of the legs or feet. Restless leg syndrome can affect 10 to 35% of people over 65, impacting sleep and quality of life.
Insomnia. Those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may suffer from insomnia. Those with insomnia might experience daytime sleepiness or other cognitive impairments related to sleep deprivation.

Sleep Tips for Seniors

There are many ways you can improve your sleep by keeping a bedtime routine, setting yourself up for a restful night, and reevaluating your diet. If you struggle with getting adequate sleep, here are a few places to start:

Establish a bedtime routine
Finding a consistent bedtime routine that works for you will remind your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will help get your body into a routine. Developing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, playing music or meditating can also help you wind down before bed.

Setting up your environment
When we use our bedrooms for more than sleeping, our bodies can get confused when it’s time to rest. Watching TV or using a computer while in bed for long periods of time should be avoided. Make sure to block out noise that might disturb you like turning off the television or using a white noise machine. Keep your bedroom dark and cool as light and heat can cause sleep problems, especially for older adults.

Make healthy choices
Diet can actually play a big role in your quality of sleep. Make sure to limit caffeine, especially later in the day, and avoid alcohol before you go to sleep. Eating a full meal at dinnertime or having a light snack before bedtime will keep you from waking up hungry in the middle of the night. Be sure to cut down on sugary and processed foods as they can pull you out of the deep stages of sleep.

Staying Well Rested at Maplewood Senior Living

Sleep can positively or negatively impact our whole day. At Maplewood Senior Living, we offer meditation and relaxation classes, healthy meal options, and install safe lighting to make sure all residents have what they need for a restful night of sleep. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Caregiving 101: Preventing Burnout and Maintaining Self-Care

Nearly 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of 65 every single day. As the number of baby boomers retiring begins to increase, so will the demand for caregivers. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nearly half of older adults will require outside support by the time they reach 85 years old. Traditionally, caregivers assist older adults in daily activities such as medication management, eating, bathing, getting dressed, and running errands. Caregivers can be unpaid family members or professionals who are hired by the individual or the family to assist a loved one. While caregiving is a rewarding profession, it can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Over time, it’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience stress, which can ultimately lead to caregiver burnout.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout occurs as a reaction to the emotional and physical strain of caring for another person. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to report high levels of stress when compared to those who are not caregivers. While caregiver stress can show up in different ways, some warning signs are common amongst caregivers according to the Mayo Clinic:

Caregiver Burnout Symptoms

• Feeling overwhelmed and worried
• Fatigue
• Gaining or losing weight
• Becoming irritated or angry
• Losing interest in activities
• Experiencing headaches or body aches
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
• Feeling sad
• Lack of concentration

When these warning signs are ignored, it can lead to dangerous mistakes, such as making errors in managing medications or slower responses in emergencies. When caregiver stress goes unacknowledged for long periods, it can also lead to long-term health concerns.

Long-term effects of caregiving on health

Caregivers can experience a wide range of emotions in a single week, let alone a single day. Caregiving can reinforce feelings of helpfulness, love, and commitment, and provoke feelings of worry and exhaustion at the same time. When left unidentified, chronic stress releases stress hormones in the body, which can have serious long-term effects on your health. Here are some of the most common ways stress can affect the body:

Depression and anxiety. Long-term stress can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, which can increase your risk of developing other conditions like heart disease and stroke.

Weakened immune system. When stress is left unacknowledged it can cause additional stress on your immune system. The immune system works to fight off illnesses and diseases. Weakened immune systems can increase your risk of developing a cold or flu, and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Obesity. Chronic stress can produce betatrophin, which blocks a protein that breaks down body fat. Long-term release of betatrophin can lead to weight gain or obesity, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Increased risk for chronic diseases. Ongoing stress can also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

Problems with short-term memory. Those who experience high levels of stress can also develop problems with their short-term memory, making it difficult to care for another person.

Self-care for caregivers

While stress is common for caregivers, leaving it unaddressed can cause long-term problems on our overall health and wellness. Our bodies have a natural way of combatting stress, which is regulated by our nervous system. However, if you’re experiencing high levels of stress, you may need to activate your body’s natural response through a variety of activities. Here are a few ways to help address stress and prevent feelings of burnout:

• Practice self-compassion. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to feel like they’re not doing enough for their loved one. This can lead to feelings of guilt, especially when caregivers take time to care for themselves. However, practicing self-care allows a caregiver to be present and focused when caring for a loved one.

• Practice breathing exercises. Meditation and relaxation techniques have been proven to be effective ways to process and redirect feelings of stress. Taking five minutes at the beginning or end of the day to breathe deeply or practice meditation will help you relax your body. Here are a few exercises to get started.

Eat well. Forgetting to eat or not getting enough quality sleep can contribute to caregiver stress and burnout. The simplest thing caregivers can do for themselves is eating a balanced diet and create a relaxing nighttime routine. To prevent inflammation in the body, avoid foods that are processed and high in refined sugars. Focus on eating foods that are high in nutrients, protein, and fiber.

Connect with others. Caregiving can be isolating, especially for those caring for a spouse or family member. Reconnecting with others and prioritizing socialization can help combat feelings of isolation and depression. You might even consider scheduling social activities, like talking to a friend on the phone, into your weekly calendar.

Reduce stress. It’s important to be able to recognize warning signs that might occur when you begin to feel stressed. These signs might include disruptive sleeping patterns, forgetfulness, or feelings of loneliness. Once you understand what is at the root of your stress, you can begin to take action.

Ask for help. It can be extremely difficult for caregivers to accept help. But, accepting someone’s offer to help can allow you to manage your stress and conserve your energy. Make a mental list of ways that others could help you if they offer and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Start to exercise. Consistent daily exercise can help reduce your risk of caregiving related injuries, illness, depression, and anxiety. A mind-body practice such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation can help reduce stress. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day can promote better sleep, help manage your sleep, and reduce physical and mental tension.

Services for caregivers

In addition to prioritizing self-care, there are many resources available to caregivers who may be feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Many communities offer meal delivery and other non-medical services like housekeeping, cooking, and making changes to your home like installing ramps or modifying bathrooms. Respite care, which is when a substitute comes to relieve a caregiver, can help free up time for full-time caregivers who may need to run errands or schedule appointments. The National Eldercare Locator can help you identify caregiving services in your area.

Caregiving support at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we are constantly looking for new ways to show our support to caregivers. We also are available to discuss options to relieve the strain of caregiving if having your loved one live in one of our communities would be a more suitable option. If you’re interested in learning about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

When is The Right Time for Assisted Living?

As we age our health care needs are likely to change, which can make navigating health-related decisions difficult. While many older adults envision spending their retirement years living independently, it is likely that many seniors will require additional support later on in life. At some point, many adults may have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living community. This process can become more complicated when failing health and financial concerns are factored in.

What is Assisted Living for Seniors?

Senior assisted living facilities are designed for older adults who need additional support with their day-to-day lives. These communities offer support with daily tasks such as eating, taking medication, bathing, housekeeping, preparing meals, and monitoring medicine. For added peace of mind, medical care is also accessible around the clock in the event of an emergency. As older adults begin to consider transitioning into an assisted living community, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.

Declining health conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities help seniors manage these conditions, which allow residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Difficulty with managing finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This can make paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills, or filing taxes properly.

Inability to care for oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves, or complete basic daily tasks, it may be time to consider assisted living. A large number of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding that can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and live in a clean environment.

Lack of socializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language, or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality, and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas, and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Questions to Consider

Making the move into an assisted living community can be a hard decision for everyone involved and finding the right time to move can be even more challenging. When a loved one has suffered from serious health concerns, such as a broken hip, the need for an assisted living community might become more obvious. However, for older adults who still manage to take care of themselves, but are slowly losing their independence, the transition can become unclear. If you’re not sure if now is the time for assisted living, Consumer Affairs has gathered a series of questions to help you in your decision-making process, which is summarized below:

Health

Has your loved one fallen recently?
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among older adults. If your loved one has recently fallen or is consistently falling, this may be a sign that you should consider a move to an assisted living community.

Is your loved one taking their medications?
If you notice your loved one is struggling to keep up with their medications, try to find out the cause. Are they forgetting? Is picking it up at the pharmacy difficult for them? If the answer is yes, assisted living can help. On-site staff can ensure that each resident has access to and takes their medications on time.

Does your loved one suffer from a chronic condition?
If your senior has been diagnosed with a worsening chronic condition, assisted living communities can help preserve their quality of life. For those with chronic conditions, basic daily tasks can become increasingly difficult. When you have staff support, energy can be reserved for exploring hobbies and socializing with others.

Self-Care

Is your loved one having trouble taking care of themselves?
Cooking, housekeeping, laundry, and other basic daily tasks can become more difficult as we age. Assisted living communities offer these services so seniors can avoid related injuries and instead spend time doing what they love.

Are they eating properly?
Have you noticed significant weight loss or weight gain within the last few months? Both rapid weight loss and weight gain can be side-effects of health problems or difficulty in preparing and eating food. If you’re not sure what the cause might be, you can always consult their doctor and ask if assisted living might help relieve the problem.

Mental-health and dementia

Do they wander from home and get lost?
This could be a sign of a cognitive issue such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you notice your loved one wandering or getting lost in familiar places, talk to your loved one and their healthcare provider. Assisted living communities with memory care units are designed to support those with cognitive impairments and memory disorders.

Are they isolated?
Isolation is a public health concern, especially for older adults. Long-term isolation can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Your loved one might be feeling isolated if they rarely leave their home, live alone or have stopped participating in social activities. Initiating a conversation about isolation and loneliness with your loved one might help you make an informed decision when it comes to assisted living.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living

Watching your loved one age is hard. Recognizing that they’re beginning to need more care can be painful. Our assisted living communities at Maplewood Senior living are here to help and give you peace of mind. To learn more about our communities or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

We also have a complimentary Guide – Is It Time for Assisted Living? Please download it today. Please Click HERE to do so.

Why Social Isolation is Detrimental to Older Adults

Social isolation, which includes having few social relationships or infrequent contact with others, is a national public health concern, especially for older adults. Our bodies use pain as a warning sign to signal that something is wrong. Like pain, feelings of loneliness can be a sign that isolation is beginning to affect our health. While it’s possible to feel lonely without being socially isolated from others, long-term social isolation can very likely increase our risk of feeling lonely. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the social isolation in older adults’ epidemic. However, subsequent social distance and lock-down protocols have exacerbated the epidemic, causing a spike in reported isolation among the senior population.

Isolation and subsequent loneliness are not new concerns. However, according to the Association of Health Care Journalists, new social isolation statistics suggest that lock-down and social distance protocols have already increased loneliness in older adults. A June 2020 poll from the University of Michigan found that “56% of respondents over the age of 50 reported that they sometimes feel isolated from others which is more than twice of the 27% who felt that way in a similar 2018 poll.” The same report suggests that nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. These increasing numbers are concerning for several reasons, including the fact that older adults who experience long-term isolation are significantly more at risk for many health concerns.

Effects of Social Isolation on Mental Health

It’s common for older adults who are socially isolated to show signs of cognitive decline and decreased speed in information processing. Those who are socially isolated for long periods can often experience physical inactivity, depression, poor sleep quality, high blood pressure and inflammation, all of which can contribute to cognitive decline.

While researchers are still studying the relationship between isolation and cognitive decline, many new developments have been made. Researchers have found that loneliness, due to isolation, has been linked with the same types of brain changes found in those with Alzheimer’s disease. For those with Alzheimer’s disease, certain proteins build up in the brain and alter the brain’s function. These proteins, beta-amyloid, and tau, are also found in those who have reported long-term social isolation. Certain life stressors linked to isolation, such as negative thinking, can also cause the same proteins to build up in the brain, which can increase the risk of disease and illness.

Effects of Isolation on Health

Some research suggests that isolation can alter cells in the immune system causing inflammation. While inflammation can help our bodies heal in the event of injury, if it goes unaddressed for long periods, it can increase the risk of chronic diseases. Those who are isolated can develop compromised immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and infectious diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are isolated and suffer from pre-existing conditions, such as heart failure, are at an increased risk of hospitalization by 68%. They also have a 57% increased risk of emergency department visits and have nearly four times the risk of premature death. Loneliness and isolation are also associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Those who live in social isolation are at risk of premature death from all causes, the severity of which rivals the risk associated with smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

A study from Florida State University gathered data from 12,030 older adults aged 50 and above to study the relationship between dementia and loneliness. While there is a difference between the two, loneliness can often be a result of social isolation. The findings reported that loneliness was associated with a 40% increased risk of dementia after analyzing data from a 10-year follow-up. This risk includes people of all genders, education, race and ethnicity.

Importance of Social Activity

Cultivating meaningful relationships and having consistent interaction with others can promote both physical and mental health. Research has suggested that those who feel supported in their relationships have a 55% lower risk of dementia. Those who have strong social connections often cope better with stress and they have a supportive social circle to lean on in stressful situations. Social connections can help those who already have protein-build up in the brain decrease their risk of dementia and lessen the build-up over time.

The pandemic has presented a unique challenge, especially for older adults, as many social-distancing protocols are still in place making interaction more difficult. However, many older adults are using technology as a way to interact with others and maintain meaningful relationships.

Using Technology to Combat Isolation

Now more than ever, we are seeing how technology can be used to alleviate social isolation for many older adults. Here are a few ways older adults are utilizing technology to stay connected:

Connecting with Friends and Family
A survey out of the University of Michigan reported that 59% of older adults use social media to connect with others at least once a week, while 31% use video conferencing platforms. In May of this year, video conferencing apps broke records with 62 million downloads. Apps like FaceTime, WebEx, and Zoom are being used to host virtual cocktail parties, dinner gatherings, and book clubs.

Staying Active
Many older adults use exercise and physical activity as a way to connect with others and make new friends. Now, technology has made it possible to continue this connection, while also staying safe. YouTube offers virtual exercise classes like Pilates, dance classes, and chair yoga that can be done with a group, but from the comfort of your own home.

Lifelong Learning
Social connection can occur when people bond over similar interests. For those who like to learn, there are many online options available. Open University offers many free classes, most of which offer online forums that allow classmates to connect with and learn from each other.

Preventing Social Isolation at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how important social connection is for older adults. Our facilities offer a wide variety of social activities and utilize technology to encourage connections with family and friends. Our Temi robots give residents many opportunities to video chat with family members, interact with online videos, and monitor their health. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Why You Should Consider Assisted Living

There are nearly 12 million Americans over the age of 65 who live alone, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. While living independently certainly has its benefits, it can often become a point of concern for family members, especially as their loved ones continue to age and lose the ability to completely care for themselves. At some point, many older adults have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member or move into an assisted living facility. This decision-making process can be challenging and made more complicated when failing health and finances are important factors to consider.

While there are many different options, most older adults typically decide between hiring outside help while staying at home or moving into an assisted living facility. According to U.S. News, senior home care typically includes assistance with daily activities such as eating, taking medication, bathing, cooking and cleaning. The level of assistance depends on one’s overall health and ability to care for themselves. Although assisted living requires moving from home, it also provides additional services such as planned activities, 24-hour care and additional security measures to keep residents safe. When deciding which option is the best, many older adults and their family members ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”

Signs it Might be Time for Assisted Living

Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. In fact, for many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.
Declining Health Conditions– As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In fact, according to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctor’s appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems for older adults. Assisted living communities take pressure off of managing these conditions, which allows residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Difficulty Managing Finances– Age-related memory loss can cause confusion when it comes to managing money. This makes paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills or filing taxes properly.
Inability to Care for Oneself– If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves or complete basic daily tasks, it’s time to consider assisted living. A lot of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding it can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet and live in a clean environment.
Lack of SocializationAccording to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.

Benefits of Assisted Living

While the thought of moving out of your home and into an assisted living community might seem intimidating, the benefits are overwhelming. Instead of thinking about moving as another reminder of aging, you might consider it as an opportunity for something new and exciting. Here are a few benefits of assisted living that you might not have considered:
You Gain Independence– While many people think of assisted living as a way to lose independence, the opposite is true. Instead of relying on a family member or outside party for assistance, all of those daily tasks, like shopping and cooking, are taken care of by staff. This leaves you with plenty of time to discover your interests and renew your hobbies instead of thinking about who will come to help.
More Value for Your Money– Many individuals are afraid to consider moving into an assisted living community because they think they can’t afford it. However, that’s not necessarily true. Many assisted living facilities offer many services under one fee. For example, you might find that meals and activities are included in your monthly fee, where in-home care is usually priced a la carte. While assisted living can be expensive, you might find it to be a better deal based on your needs.
A Safer Living Option– As we age we are more at risk of health emergencies, such as falling. When living alone, these injuries could become life-threatening. However, at assisted living facilities, there is always a staff person or registered nurse available to help, no matter the time of day.
Socialization- Assisted living communities provide a wide variety of activities for their residents. From sing-a-longs to arts and crafts, there’s always an opportunity to learn and socialize with others. Socialization is proven to be beneficial for one’s overall health, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Things to Consider

If you decide it’s the right time for assisted living, there are a few things to keep in mind. As you start touring different communities, they can all start to feel similar. At Maplewood Senior Living , we know what that can feel like. That’s why we have compiled a list of things to consider and questions to ask when looking for an assisted living community:

1. Ask to meet the team. How can a resident or family member get in contact with the management team?
2. Do they have apartments available? What sizes are offered? Is the furniture provided?
3. Ask about the culinary program. Is food prepared from scratch? You might consider asking for a menu or schedule a time to have lunch or dinner on the campus.
4. Are nurses available 24 hours a day?
5. What type of training is provided for the staff?
6. Do they provide call lights, pendants or life alerts? What’s the protocol for responding?
7. Is transportation available for outings, doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping?
8. What accommodations are available when more care is required?
9. What type of programming and cultural enrichment opportunities are available?
10. Ask to speak with a current resident who would be willing to share their experience with you.

Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living Communities

We know transitioning into assisted living from an independent living situation can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our Maplewood Senior Living communities provide support and transitional care to make the change an easy one. If you’re interested in learning more about our assisted living communities or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Power of Positive Thinking

As we continue to modify our daily lives during this time of COVID-19, remaining positive can come as a challenge to many of us. Media outlets are constantly publishing news stories that are often sad and alarming but are meant to inform us and keep us safe. However, now is the time to remain positive and full of hope. Recent studies, such as this one, suggest that positivity can actually help us live longer and more fulfilled lives. This 2019 study found that, “optimism is specifically related to an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan.” The study also suggests that an overall positive outlook can increase an individual’s chances of achieving something called “exceptional longevity,” or living to the age of 85 and beyond. With the current state of our world and the normal happenings of life, it’s not uncommon to experience negative thinking. However, long-term negativity can have a powerful effect on one’s life.

The Impact of Negative Thinking

Studies have suggested that negativity can have various effects on our physical and mental health. One study suggests that negative thinking can make existing depression worse and cause depressive symptoms in those who didn’t previously report as feeling depressed. Another study found that prolonged negative thinking can actually cause physical pain. Participants in the study who suffered from chronic pain and arthritis found their symptoms increased when they reported negative thinking and self-talk. Along with physical pain, these participants also experienced psychological distress. These are the most common symptoms experienced from prolonged negativity:

• Muscle tension
• Headaches
• Chest pain
• Digestive problems
• Fatigue
• Anxiety
• Depression and sadness
• Social withdrawal
• Anger outbursts

The Power of Positivity

According to the Mayo Clinic, adopting a positive attitude starts with self-talk. Self-talk is comprised of all the thoughts we have running in and out of our heads every single day. When these thoughts are more uplifting and positive, it can actually help us live healthier lives. The Mayo Clinic has gathered research exploring the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Here are some of the benefits they found:
• Increased life span
• Lower rates of depression
• Lower levels of stress
• Greater resistance to illness
• Better psychological and physical well-being
• Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
• Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Senior Lifestyle Magazine also published a variety of ways positive thinking can affect our health:

Boost Immunity– Our bodies all have the power to fight off diseases. The stronger our immune systems are, the more likely our bodies will be able to prevent illness and disease. Positive thinking can actually help fight stress which allows our immune systems to function more efficiently.

Improve Heart Health– Stress and anxiety can have powerful negative effects on our bodies. In fact, they can interfere with our heart function and even increase our risk of stroke, heart disease and heart attacks. Positivity tends to lead to a healthier lifestyle. Those who have a positive outlook are more likely to exercise and eat healthy.

Fight Stress– Stress can cause many different problems in our bodies and increases our risk of disease and illness. People who think positively often are more likely to better manage their stress.

Increases Resilience– Life is full of ups and downs. Those who have a positive outlook on life find it easier to make it through tough situations.

How to Identify Negative Thinking

The first step in adopting a positive mindset is to identify your negative thoughts. The Mayo Clinic has identified some of the most common types of negative self-talk:

Filtering– This can happen when we focus all of our attention on the negative elements of a situation instead of choosing to focus on the positive ones.

Personalizing– When something negative occurs in our lives, many of us personalize it, which means we automatically blame ourselves. When we do this consistently, it can build a negative self-image and further promote harmful self-talk.

Catastrophizing– Many of us automatically anticipate the worst in a given situation. When we’re nervous or anxious, our minds immediately present us with the worst-case scenario.

Polarizing– While we speak in terms of “positive” and “negative,” not all things are clear cut. Polarizing thoughts take place when we categorize situations as good and bad, not taking into consideration that there is middle ground.

Tips for Adopting a Positive Outlook

Adopting a positive attitude can take time, but don’t let that be discouraging. Making simple and small changes throughout your day will lead you to a more positive outlook one step at a time. Here are some tips to get you there:

Be Open to Humor– We’ve all heard the old adage, laughing makes you live longer, but it’s true! Laughing naturally makes us feel more positive and upbeat. Instead of becoming angry in frustrating situations, sometimes it’s helpful to find the humor instead. You can do this by watching light-hearted movies, or having fun and stimulating conversations each day.

Identify Areas to Change– Before you adopt a positive mindset, it’s important to evaluate where you need the most work. Take a minute to reflect on where you feel the most negativity. Is it within your relationships or your home life? Once you identify the area of most need, concentrate your efforts there. Remember, start by making small changes. When you notice a negative thought, take a moment to find something positive in the same situation.

Focus on Health
It is proven that our physical health directly affects our mental health. Making time to exercise and eat a healthy diet will actually help you think more positively. Start by trying a gentle exercise for just 30 minutes a day. This can be as simple as taking a walk, or trying something different like Tai Chi or Chair Yoga.

Stay Engaged
Our minds are active and need to be stimulated each day. Releasing our inner creativity will help us feel productive, engaged and will lead us to feel more positive. Finding a new hobby or getting back into an old one can be a great way to stay engaged. Hobbies can help us connect with friends, cope with stress and help us to structure our days, especially now during self-quarantine. Take an art class, learn how to play a new card game, start a wine-tasting club or try a new type of exercise. There are hundreds of options!

Start Your Day with Gratitude
The morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. If you start your day on a positive note, the rest will follow suit. It’s a great practice to begin your day with gratitude. Many positive people do this by reflecting on things or people they are grateful to have in their lives. If you need help with getting started, you might consider purchasing a guided gratitude journal. The New York Magazine recently published a list of the best gratitude journals, most of which provide prompts to get you started.

Live a Positive Life at Maplewood Senior Living

Our residents at Maplewood Senior Living Communities know how important it is to remain positive during these trying times. Now more than ever, our residents are learning new things, expressing their creativity, and doing their best to keep spirits high. If you would like to schedule a virtual tour, please contact us here.