Category: Senior Living

Distinguishing between dementia and normal age-related memory loss …

The email was puzzling: Would I be able to get the staff colleague the document she had requested?

Eh … what document? my mind immediately wondered.

Apologizing in both text and email, I asked for clarification. What had I promised to do?

We had discussed the item two weeks ago, came the reply.

Ugh! But I was still drawing a blank.

Fortunately, I can attribute this instance of memory-loss to the fact we get so many requests in my office that if I don’t write them down immediately, I’m typically on to whatever item is staring at me from my inbox and that other request is … well … gone.

We often find aging parents exhibiting similar behaviors and our immediate question typically is: Is this normal aging or something else?

Many older adults consider this question themselves over fear for the future. And the question is not easy to answer but, over time, answers usually become clear.

So, is it normal memory loss?

It’s common for forgetfulness and memory lapses to occur because of normal changes in the brain associated with aging.

The National Institutes of Health notes that this situation may make it harder to learn new things or retain information as easily as in the past. And, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, typical age-related changes may include making a bad decision once in a while, missing a monthly payment, forgetting what day or time it is but remembering it later, forgetting words or meanings of words and losing things from time to time.

These memory lapses can fluctuate as time goes on, but are perfectly normal.

But what they are the signs of cognitive illness? Click here to read more!

Supporting an aging loved one during short-term rehab

I took a 95-year-old relative for minor surgery recently and, afterward, she complained just a little about having had to put up with the inconvenience of the procedure.

As several family members have chuckled on occasion, our relative is quite fortunate overall. While she had to care for her husband as he faced health issues for a number of years, she’s had relatively few significant health issues herself.

And she still lives alone—and drives! Undoubtedly, most of us hope for that future.

Unfortunately, as we age, the likelihood increases that we may face varying issues including chronic health conditions or other diseases, surgeries or falls. Often, those situations can be improved with short-term rehabilitation.

Short-term rehab encompasses physical, occupational and speech therapies that can help people reach their individual potential and, quite frequently, return to the lives they love.

The care team at a short-term rehabilitation center creates a personalized plan that can help older adults regain strength, manage medical conditions and transition back home. In addition to offering care around-the-clock, these centers also typically offer education and resources for both seniors and their families.

Many short-term rehabilitation centers, such as those operated by Diakon Senior Living Services, offer private and semi-private suites, therapy gyms and personalized instruction, nutritious dining designed to enhance health, and space for socializing. The goal is an overall positive experience that helps patients thrive.

If my relative required short-term rehab, it’s likely she would say she did not need it. She would not be alone in that self-assessment. Many older adults tend to decline short-term rehabilitation after being released from the hospital. Often, this is because they’d rather go home and don’t see the value in rehabilitation, according to Aging Care.

You can help them to understand their stay is only temporary—and it can lead to their remaining healthier longer. In fact, if they return home too soon and aren’t yet healed properly, they can be setting themselves up for a longer stay in rehabilitation later on.

To make this process easier on your loved one, click here to read about a few things you can do.

Personal Care: Fact vs. Myth

I love when we’re able to help people gain the care they need, but often don’t want to seek, typically for a variety of reasons.

Right now, several Diakon senior living communities, Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown among them, are helping motivate people to seek personal care or, as it is known here in Maryland, assisted living—through various incentives.

But why might older adults who need such care not seek it immediately? Certainly, as people grow older, they may notice changes in abilities. Whether someone has suffered a fall, is recovering from a surgery or simply needs assistance completing the typical tasks of daily living, personal care may be of great benefit.

But when some older adults hear the phrase “personal care,” they may have a negative reaction.

They think, for example, that they don’t need any help and that they are still sufficiently independent to continue caring for themselves.

That perspective is understandable, but family members and other friends may quickly spot the need for assistance.

What are signs a loved one may benefit from personal care?

Is a loved one no longer taking care of him- or herself? Wearing the same clothing for more than a day? No longer seeming to care about appearance?

If so, the person may be having trouble completing these tasks or attending to basic needs. Not only can this situation decrease confidence, but it can also continue to affect independence.

If loved ones react negatively to the idea of personal care, they may be falling victim to myths they’ve heard. To combat this, you could help to dispel those myths …

●    Personal care will decrease my independence. This couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, personal care can actually enrich your quality of life enough that you may become more independent. For example, if you don’t need to spend time worrying about certain activities of daily life, you may be able to focus more fully on wellness, improving your health through exercise and participating in more lifelong-learning opportunities.

To read more about dispelling the myths about personal care, please click here.

Six drug-free treatment options for people with cognitive illnesses

While cures may not currently be possible for many forms of cognitive illnesses, are there ways to treat people without the use of drugs?

Some believe it is possible to help manage some of the challenging behaviors and symptoms with a number of drug-free treatment options, including holistic therapies. It’s important to note, however, that many of these are based on trial and error, not scientific research.

In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®, “The rigorous scientific research required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the approval of a prescription drug is not required by law for the marketing of dietary supplements or ‘medical foods.’” This means that side effects, uses and efficiency may not be safely monitored. For that reason, many people tend to opt for a different approach: holistic therapies and lifestyle changes.

Options for older adults with dementia …

There are a number of steps you might test when trying to help a person with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These approaches can affect everyone differently, but through trial and error, you may be better able to help a loved one.

1.    Aromatherapy. Some people may become agitated, angry or even depressed as a result of dementia; it can thus be difficult for them to relax or calm down. In these cases, aromatherapy may be able to help. Try rubbing a lavender-scented lotion on their hands or spraying a refreshing citrus room spray to lift spirits in the morning.

2.    Massage Therapy. If your loved one doesn’t mind being touched, massage therapy might be something that is good for them. It can not only help to relax the person, but also release oxytocin to promote peace and calm.

3.    Pet Therapy. There are few people who don’t instantly light up when they see an animal. Known to be successful in an array of situations, pet therapy can help break up your loved one’s routine and bring joy and happiness. Whether the person prefers the company of a dog or a cat, friendly purrs and wagging tails can make a difference.

For additional drug-free treatment suggestions, please click here!

The power of community

I recently heard someone speak about the importance of community. I was intrigued by an unusual experience he cited, called the Roseto effect.

According to UnimedLiving.com, “In 1964 a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined a population of recent Italian immigrants in Roseto, a small town in the state of Pennsylvania. The study was instigated because the town doctor was completely baffled by the Rosetans’ near immunity to heart disease. He reported his observations” and an extensive study was conducted, comparing health statistics in the community to those of neighboring towns.

In fact, from 1954 to 1961, Roseto had nearly no heart attacks within the population of men 55 to 64, normally a high-risk group, and men older than 65 had a death rate of 1%, while nationally the average was 2%, despite other behaviors (such as smoking) considered unhealthy and sometimes-hazardous working conditions.

The local physician attributed the lower heart-disease rate to lower stress. Researchers suggested “the quality of family relationships and the social milieu may be pertinent to the occurrence of or protection against death from myocardial infarction.” (The Huffington Post also writes about it here in more detail.)

Interestingly, as social structures changed and the community grew less tight-knit, heart-disease rates rose to be comparable to the rest of the country.

There are certainly no guarantees that living in a close-knit community will protect you against heart disease but, at least for me, the Roseto effect makes sense.

When we live in healthy communities, assisting one another and enjoying life together, it just makes sense that stress levels are lower. With stress reportedly one factor in heart disease, it seems logical to associate life in close community with others to taking at least one step closer to physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Creating that type of community lies at the heart of what senior living services providers such as Diakon do.

The very design of our senior living communities, the amenities we offer and the events we craft are all designed to engender a sense of community not only among our residents but also between residents and staff members and residents and the general community.

Again, no one can claim creating such community will ensure lowered heart concerns or even decreased stress levels, but it certainly cannot hurt. And when you speak with our residents, many mention the newfound sense of community they have found with us.

By Melissa Kindall
Manager, Social Media and Digital Communications Manager
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

Because we review comments, they do not appear immediately. Please do not submit each comment more than once. Please review our comment policy.

Five ways a CCRC offers peace of mind and security

We love to do educational events at our senior living communities.

Recently, we’ve tried to hold unified events across many of our campuses. For example, in June most of the campuses have speakers detailing the financial benefits of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (which some parts of the industry are terming Life Plan Communities).

That’s an excellent subject because, in fact, retirement communities do offer adult adults and their families both peace of mind and security.

As we age, we understand that there’s very little in life that’s set in stone. Life is unpredictable, and in the blink of an eye, things can change. This doesn’t just include everyday plans, but also finances, lifestyles and even abilities and health.

Certainly, it can be easy to become focused on the unknown, but that’s no way to live. And that’s not how most older adults want to live in retirement—and they shouldn’t have to.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, such as those operated by Diakon Senior Living Services, are the perfect option for older adults who want to take advantage of an active lifestyle, but also want the peace of mind of available health care and knowing their needs will be met if their health changes. And that’s not to mention the wide array of other benefits.

When considering a move to a CCRC, it can be easy to look just at cost; however, the value far outweighs the cost. Here are just a few of the many ways our communities offer peace of mind and security:
 
1.    Worry-Free Living. CCRCs allow seniors to experience a lifestyle in which they don’t need to worry about anything. All of their needs are taken care of from care and home maintenance to housekeeping and, in many cases, dining. Residents simply focus on doing whatever they’d like to do, whether it’s enjoying programming, relaxing or grabbing a bite to eat with a friend.

To continue reading about the other ways CCRCs offer peace of mind and security, please click here.

When is it time for personal care?

As people age, many adult children and their families wonder how long their older loved one should live alone.

Common questions and worries include:

• Are they eating enough?
• Are they gaining enough socialization?
• Are they taking their medications and paying their bills on time?

If you aren’t with your loved one every day, it can be hard to be sure, leaving you increasingly worried.

One thing is certain, though: Your loved one is unlikely to let you know he or she needs additional help!

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out and check in often to ensure loved ones are getting the support they need while living the lifestyle they deserve.

However, if you are beginning to suspect a loved one may need personal care, here are a few telltale signs you could be right:

Common questions and worries include:

•    Are they eating enough?
•    Are they gaining enough socialization?
•    Are they taking their medications and paying their bills on time?

If you aren’t with your loved one every day, it can be hard to be sure, leaving you increasingly worried.

One thing is certain, though: Your loved one is unlikely to let you know he or she needs additional help!

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out and check in often to ensure loved ones are getting the support they need while living the lifestyle they deserve.

However, if you are beginning to suspect a loved one may need personal care, here are a few telltale signs you could be right:

●    Declining hygiene. Does your loved one not appear as neatly groomed as before? If family members or friends used to take pride in their appearance and don’t appear to care anymore, make note of that. If you visit the next day and they are in the same outfit as the day before, it’s likely a sign hygiene has declined.

Please click here to read about more the telltale signs…

The therapeutic difference …

Injured yourself? Or face another health-care issue related to aging?
 
If so, it’s important to determine if therapy can help. It’s equally important to understand the differences among therapies.
 
What is occupational therapy?

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., some accidents, injuries or diseases can make it difficult for older adults to participate in the daily activities they enjoy. Occupational therapists help to evaluate the situation and create individualized goals so you can resume or pursue personal goals. These therapists may ask what activities you enjoy participating in and how you would like to pursue your goals.
 
Occupational therapy can help with:  
 
●     Achieving goals seniors set for themselves
●     Remaining healthy and independent in spite of a chronic medical condition
●     Rebuilding independence through assistive devices
●     Improving the ability to participate in daily activities such as driving, visiting friends, socializing and pursuing hobbies
 
What is physical therapy?

Click here to read more of the differences between physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Making that vision of the future come true!

From the time we are young, we tend to look forward to a time when we can enjoy a lifestyle in which we don’t necessarily have to work and can relax and have time to pursue passions we may have put aside.

We envision this time, and the activities we’ll enjoy with family and friends, but we often don’t consider how we’ll ever achieve that.

And we may couple that vision with a desire to remain in our own home as long as possible. What we don’t consider is the fact living in that home typically comes with restrictions and responsibilities.

Consider this: A snowstorm is coming. You need to grocery-shop, make sure you’re ready to shovel a driveway and sidewalk, and check to see if you have ice-melt for the outside steps so that you don’t fall.

Or perhaps you want to visit family or take a vacation. Typically, you need to find someone to check on your house, maybe pick up your mail or water the garden.

And these are just a few of the responsibilities you need to worry about—instead of having that time to do all those things you postponed. This situation doesn’t match that vision you had of retirement.

That’s exactly why many older adults seek out a vibrant senior living community to call their new home, a home without maintenance worries or other responsibilities.

At Diakon Senior Living Services, older adults can enjoy the lifestyle they envision. Instead of worrying about housekeeping and maintenance, they can focus on what truly matters to them.

Click here for a brief listing that gives meaning to the phrase “maintenance-free” living!

Life after total shoulder-replacement surgery

If you or someone you love has done serious damage to his or her shoulder, a total shoulder replacement may be necessary.

A total shoulder replacement is major surgery that can keep you or your loved one in the hospital for several days, in addition to requiring weeks or months of physical therapy to fully recover.

If you’re preparing for shoulder-replacement surgery, it helps to know what to expect.

After surgery

When you have your surgery, you can expect to stay in the hospital for two to five days to recover. The time will depend on how well you progress and whether you experience any complications from the surgery.

During this time, you will experience swelling and pain in your shoulder joint. Your physician will prescribe pain medication to help make you comfortable and ice to reduce the swelling. Your arm will be in a brace after surgery to keep you from moving. However, you will likely begin physical therapy during your hospital stay.

Coming home

Post-surgery, you will have very limited movement in your arm.

As you prepared for surgery, you may have arranged to have a family member or close friend help afterward if you live alone or if your spouse is unable to help you.

If not, it may be best to book a short stay at a rehabilitation center until you can do more things on your own.

In fact, it may be several weeks before you can lift much of anything. Consider how you might rearrange items in your home to make life easier as you recover. For example, think about your daily routine and set items on your bathroom sink so they are easily reachable, rather than tucked away in drawers.

Consider all the activities that require two hands and, if someone isn’t available to help, develop an alternative or find a way you can accomplish the task single-handed.

Physical therapy

Generally, you will continue to have physical therapy throughout your recovery. In addition to therapy sessions with a professional, you’ll likely be assigned exercises to do at home between sessions.

As you do these, remember not to push yourself too hard. Recognize that recovery takes time and rushing the process could result in a subsequent injury.

Physical therapy will play a vital role in recovery by limiting pain and improving the function of your new joint. Click here to read more about what your physical therapist will most likely teach you!