Category: Senior Living

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

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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!

Five ways rehabilitation promotes independence

Everyone wants to be independent.

That’s true no matter your age.

But it can be especially important when you face the physical challenges that sometimes accompany aging.

In fact, one of the most common desires among older adults is to remain as independent as possible, as long as possible.

While many people achieve this goal by staying healthy, sometimes accidents or unforeseen illnesses can threaten independent vitality.

When a physical injury limits your mobility, or an illness disrupts daily life, taking advantage of rehabilitation services can help you to get back on your feet and remain independent much longer.

Rehabilitation services at Diakon Senior Living Services cover a variety of therapies and meet the needs of adults in less-than-their-best health. In fact, many seniors turn to rehab following a hospital stay if they’re not yet able to return home. Others seek outpatient rehab to continue therapy after an injury or surgery.

Whether physical, occupational or speech therapy, such programs can help you to regain optimal abilities and well-being.

If you face an illness or injury with the risk of loss of independence, rehabilitation can help you maintain independence longer and to the extent possible.

1.    Allows you to maintain your daily routine. Recovery can be a long road for older adults, but rehabilitation can help you get back on your feet—and back to your regular lifestyle—much faster. Those who opt out of rehab or therapy might not heal as quickly or suffer from subsequent injuries, making it harder to maintain a daily routine. For example, if a shoulder injury doesn’t heal correctly, you may always need help lifting heavy loads or reaching above your head. Rehabilitation services can help you to meet your goals for continuing your normal way of life.

Click here to read more about what rehab can do!

Everything you need to know about CCRCs

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs for short, are one of the most popular choices for older adults seeking a carefree community home.

These communities attract so many seniors for numerous reasons, but before you determine if a CCRC is right for you, it’s helpful to understand everything you can about this type of community and what it offers.
 
●    Continuum of care
The “continuing care” part of CCRCs refers to the variety of senior lifestyles and care the community provides. In addition to maintenance-free retirement or independent living, these communities may offer personal care/assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation or any combination of these. Some may also offer minor support for independent living residents or allow personal care services to be received in an independent living home. Residents of any type of lifestyle typically have access to the additional services offered on campus, should the need arise.

You can read more about CCRCs by clicking here.

Why you deserve a time out!

You need a time out!

Well … not the type you might assign your child!

Your time out is from caregiving.

Caring for a loved one who requires daily support is a full-time job. No one doubts that.

And that job can be especially involving if your loved one has a chronic health condition such as Alzheimer’s disease. Often, providing care can take its toll on you as well, affecting physical and emotional well-being.

As with any job, you deserve an occasional timeout to rest, recharge and return to your role with renewed energy.
 
Unfortunately, many caregivers ignore the need for a break. Whether they feel fully responsible for meeting every one of their loved one’s needs—or they simply don’t know how to obtain help—caregivers can quickly burn out.

If that occurs, the situation can affect other aspects of your life, including not only your physical health but also emotional stability, family relationships and more.

Moreover, when you’re drained, it’s hard to give your best to the person depending on you for care.
 
Respite care is an ideal solution for busy caregivers hoping to avoid burnout and practice some necessary self-care.

Respite care is frequently offered by senior living communities, such as those within Diakon Senior Living Services, on a day-by-day basis, or by such programs as Diakon Adult Day Services, which has locations in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and Hagerstown, Maryland.

Using respite care for a few days or weeks can help you to take care of yourself, while knowing your loved one is being cared for by professionals in an environment that promotes socialization and engagement with others.
 
In “Respite Care for the Elderly Is Important for Family Caregivers,” author Shelley Webb, RN, describes the benefits of taking a time out:

Click here to read more.