Category: Senior Living

‘Smart Seniors’ at Diakon Senior Living: The pursuit of knowledge

After retirement, it can be easy slip into habits that don’t always challenge our minds and bodies. Without careers or family to care for, we can become isolated and out of touch if we aren’t careful.

But when we pursue something of value to us, it can give us energy and purpose each day. It can provide goals and reasons to be active members of our community.

For that reason, lifelong learning is an important part of healthy aging.

Not only does continued learning stimulate the mind and battle the risks of cognitive decline, but it also provides individuals with the benefits of new perspectives, social opportunities and a sense of purpose.

Whether you choose to explore something new or continue learning in an area of personal expertise, staying mentally active is a key to a healthy and meaningful lifestyle.

To read more, please click here

Overcoming nutritional challenges with older adults

You probably have witnessed it: An older relative who just does not eat the same way he or she once did.

As we age, our bodies undergo inevitable changes, even when we’re at our best health. Many of these changes affect how we consume, absorb and use the nutrients from food.

Without awareness of these changes, we can easily begin to experience a decrease in health because of lack of nutrients.

To stay healthy, older adults—or those caring for them—need to recognize the biological changes as well as habitual obstacles that keep them from optimal nutritional health. They need to know how to adapt their lifestyles and diets to overcome such challenges.

Biological changes that affect nutrition

The simple process of aging can affect many ways our bodies consume and use nutrients from our food. Click here to consider the following…

What does the RAISE Family Caregivers Act really mean?

Every year, tens of thousands of family caregivers deliver support and personal care to loved ones without training, pay or, in many cases, help from anyone.

In fact, family caregivers make up the core of our nation’s caregiving workforce, yet they often struggle with financial challenges, workplace issues, stress-induced health problems and more.

In January, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act became law, starting an initiative to better support family caregivers on both local and national levels.

RAISE stands for Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage. The RAISE Act will create a nationwide strategy to support family caregivers by providing education and resources, fixing workplace issues that limit a loved one’s ability to provide care and assessing current and future health systems to ensure caregivers’ central role in their loved one’s care.

With the act passed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has 18 months to develop a strategy to bolster family caregivers in their roles. Along with the HHS secretary, an advisory council made up of caregivers themselves, older adults, veterans, adults with disabilities, health and long-term care providers, employers and state and local officials will work together to make recommendations for the new approach.

Click here to read more about what the RAISE Act is supposed to do…

Embracing new friendships in a senior living community

If you ask senior living professionals, current residents or their family members, they’ll likely tell you that the social opportunities available in senior living are life-changing.

In fact, before moving to a community, many older adults experience different degrees of loneliness and isolation. Everything changes when they make the move to a senior living community filled with neighbors of the same age-group and friendly, compassionate staff members who build meaningful relationships with residents.

Although the opportunities for engaging in an active social life and making friends are plentiful, that doesn’t always mean the process is easy for everyone.

Many older adults, in fact, may find they’re out of practice in making friends. By the time we reach retirement or decide on a maintenance-free lifestyle, we often assume that our most meaningful relationships have already been made. New residents sometimes go into senior living with the mindset that other residents will be nothing more than neighbors, friendly folks to say good morning to and chat with at the barbershop or hair salon.

However, at Diakon Senior Living, we find that residents often form strong, long-lasting friendships with fellow residents. In our communities, residents truly share life together. They share meals, attend events together and take on leading roles in one another’s lives.

So how can you embrace new friendships in your senior living community? Click here for a few ideas to get you started…

 

 

Adjusting to your new senior living lifestyle

After all the hard work of planning, narrowing down choices and making the big move, you’re finally settled into your new senior living community. Your family helped you move in. They’ve called almost every day. You’ve met a handful of new people. But community life is still very new—and you wonder how long it will take before you start to feel at home.

This scenario is more common than you might think among older adults who make the move to senior living.

While the relocation process can be exciting, after the hustle and bustle of moving day ends, new residents can feel unsure what to do next or how to integrate into their new community. No matter how old we get, huge changes in our lifestyles inevitably come with an adjustment period.

If your recent move to senior living has you feeling a bit out of place, don’t worry! You didn’t make a mistake—it just sometimes takes time to adjust to a new way of living. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to shorten that adjustment period and start feeling at home. Click here to read more!

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‘Care conversations’: Common phrases caregivers need to know

If you’ve just begun caring for an older adult, it’s easy to be confused by the jargon of senior-focused health care.

And if you’re searching for a senior living community, the various terms and phrases to describe different levels of care require building a new set of vocabulary just to navigate literature you receive.

In addition to the terms about your loved one’s health conditions, there are a handful of phrases all caregivers should know while they are providing care and when choosing a senior living community.

Finding Order in the Acronyms

Many senior living communities refer to their levels of care services with acronyms. When you are familiar with these common terms, you’ll find it easier to determine which services different communities provide.

Click here to read this helpful information.

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How to help a grieving parent cope with the loss of a friend

On their most recent visit, “Sarah’s” adult children found her withdrawn and sad. What was going on?

As their conversation continued, the children discovered a dear friend of their mother’s had recently passed away.

Unfortunately, as we grow older, grief at the loss of those we know and love becomes more frequent.

When parents are aging, their adult children will come to understand that losing friends is a new, strange reality for them.

So how do we help our parents as they grieve their lifelong friends? How do we begin to understand the sadness of being left behind?

You can click here to read suggestions….

The importance of wellness

I recently wrote about our long history in senior living services and our focus on independence in both body and spirit for the residents we serve.

But there is certainly more to our work ….

Our commitment to health & wellness

Independence comes from caring for your mind and body. At Diakon Senior Living, we’re wellness-oriented, offering exceptional options for staying healthy. Total wellness is an essential factor in encouraging our residents to lead rewarding and purposeful lives. From good nutrition and spiritual fulfillment to physical fitness and beyond, wellness arises as a cultural focus.

To us, in fact, wellness means building a meaningful lifestyle, however you define meaning. You can read more about this here.

Diakon Senior Living promotes independence, health and well-being

You might miss several important dates in our 150th anniversary celebration.

While Diakon began as two homes for children in 1868 and 1896, we also were among the earliest providers of senior living.

One home, located in Reading, Pennsylvania, opened in 1876! And a few decades later, one of the superintendents at The Lutheran Home at Topton set aside funds to care for older adults, a goal realized in the 1940s when the children’s home dedicated a building on campus to care for “aged guests.” Similar homes soon arose in central Pennsylvania within our prior organizations.

And so, for nearly 150 years, Diakon has been providing compassionate support and gracious hospitality to older adults. That is an amazing legacy that you can read more about here!

 

Helpful holiday tips: How to visit someone with Alzheimer’s disease or similar illness

The holidays can be a very emotional time for everyone, including families and friends who have loved ones dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive illnesses.

For those affected by cognitive degeneration disease, the biggest thing to remember is to be accepting of what people feel.

Holidays can be filled with a wide range of emotions ranging from pure joy to utter sadness. Regardless of the emotion, accept it and try not to judge your feelings or the feelings of others during this time. Holidays may feel and look different because traditions are not able to be followed exactly as before, but that does not mean you cannot have a meaningful experience.

Here are a few tips that can help make your holidays happier:

  • Take a different perspective on the visit

One of the reasons visits can be a challenge is disease progression. Over the course of the disease, attention span changes, interests may vary and memories fade in and out. You may not be able to talk to the person the way you used to. Maybe you used to sit and have tea with your loved one. Now she can no longer sit for long periods of time or maybe she no longer likes tea. This changes our ability to connect, so we have to rethink our approach to the visit.

 

  • Step outside your world

Forget what you know to be true and enter into their world. Often loved ones’ perceptions may be different from yours. For instance, if they can’t remember something in the past, do not argue with them. Arguing or pleading with them to remember something can increase frustration for everyone. Contradicting their reality does not work when you are visiting with someone whose brain has a difficult time making sense of the world around them.

 

  • Be prepared to participate in an activity

Often, an activity such as listening to music or looking through a photo album may help make the visit enjoyable because it allows you to make a connection. If your loved one is in a care facility, reach out to the staff to inquire about fitting activities.

 

For example, a direct caregiver may be able to tell you that your loved one has a newfound love of sitting next to the garden and watching birds, something he or she may have never done before. Or perhaps a loved one has developed a new enjoyment of vanilla milkshakes or hamburgers. Use whatever current interests are to guide the visit.

 

Times can also play a factor in visits. Again, use your facility staff as a resource; they may be able to tell you that your loved one gets tired in the afternoon and when she gets tired, she gets tearful.  Similarly, if you are bringing home a loved one for the holidays, the staff may share with you the best time to take her out and when to bring her back to reintegrate her into her surroundings.

 

Remember, as the disease progresses, likes, interests and best times to visit may change. What may work on one visit may not work on another. Try to stay flexible with your goals and expectations.

 

  • Don’t ask loved ones to do something they can’t do

It is often hard for their brain to recall memories. Do not ask them ‘who am I?’ or encourage them to ‘think harder’ when they cannot recall a person or memory. As much as you desperately want to maintain a connection, asking them to do something beyond their cognitive function may cause stress and aggravation.

 

  • Embrace the present

Cognitive impairments are heartbreaking diseases. It’s difficult to watch someone you love deteriorate and change into a totally different person in front of your eyes.

 

This transition induces grief and prompts questions such as “how do I still love this person if he or she is not the person I knew?” Although it may seem as if your loved one is slipping away, remember that a person with dementia wants to remember you, but his or her brain is just not physically capable of doing that.

 

Although you desperately want to maintain your previous connection, the greatest gift you can give yourself or your loved one is a meaningful visit reflective of the present.

 

Know that, even with these tips, a visit can be difficult. Sometimes, you may not know what to say or do.

 

Regardless, acknowledge that you are doing the best you can. If you “go with the flow,” more often than not you will have a successful visit.

—Michelle Gaugler
Personal Care Administrator
Luther Crest, Allentown, Pennsylvania

With 24 years of experience in long-term care, Gaugler understands the struggles facing residents with memory-related illnesses and their families. Dedicated to enhancing life, she has contributed to memory support for patients in all levels of care.


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