June is National Effective Communications Month. Being able to express oneself in a clear and understandable manner helps decrease misinterpretation, confusion and conflict. But what are we to do when a disease of the brain causes a family member to experience more and more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions? That’s exactly the challenge faced by families who have a loved one battling Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
A Memory Care neighborhood like the one at a Regency Senior Living community provides the attention and compassion that seniors and their families need in such a situation. Our caregivers work with the Alzheimer’s Association to deliver strategies of treatment that allow our residents to retain their dignity and remain connected to their pasts through a variety of activities.
Day-to-day communication can be extremely frustrating for a family member attempting to serve the role of caregiver to someone impacted by dementia. It is heartbreaking to see the progression of the disease, as the senior struggles to find the right words, becomes repetitive, loses his or her train of thought, and relies on gestures more than speaking.
Once Alzheimer’s reaches the late stage, around-the-clock care is usually needed.
In Regency’s Memory Care neighborhood, residents are surrounded with the familiar. A jukebox might be playing songs that the senior knew as a teenager. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, music may help them to function at a higher cognitive level. Tunes can engage them in singing, rhythm playing, dancing, physical exercise, and other structured activities. Ballads and lullabies have been shown to calm someone during moments of agitation or when preparing for bed. Soothing sounds can provide a sense of comfort.
Regency regularly welcomes musical entertainers who may perform for Memory Care residents, often evoking a response of familiarity because our shared cultural connection to music invites an emotional reaction. Like anyone listening to a song to fit a given mood, the residents enjoy reconnecting with songs from their generation. The sounds of Elvis and Sinatra are quite familiar to those of us who live and work in our halls.
Our community has recently become certified for a pilot program called Music and Memory. There have been instances where seniors with dementia have been unresponsive until headphones are placed on their ears and familiar tunes from their youth are played on an iPod. Even after the headphones are removed, the power of music moves seniors to reacquire their cognitive faculties for a time. It reawakens feelings they haven’t felt in years.
Appealing to the visual senses as well, the furniture and decorations in a typical Memory Care neighborhood use cheerful colors and may even resemble a corner drug store with a soda fountain or jukebox, just like the ones residents likely visited as children. Such an environment can prove helpful in breaking through the fog of confusion. Baby dolls can also offer comfort to some Memory Care residents.
Another way to effectively communicate with a person dealing with Alzheimer’s is to minimize distractions, going to a quiet place and limiting conversations to one-on-one interactions. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends speaking clearly and slowly, avoiding lengthy requests. Maintaining eye contact and speaking slowly may also help.
“Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said. Look for the feelings behind words or sounds,” the Alzheimer’s Association states on its website. “Treat the person with dignity and respect. Avoid talking down to the person or as if he or she isn’t there. It’s OK if you don’t know what to do or say; your presence and friendship are most important to the person.”
Maintaining a connection with their past and with their relationships is key to Regency’s Memory Care activities. Photos of loved ones and objects of personal significance may be displayed prominently inside a resident’s apartment. It is important for residents to feel at home and for their families to possess the peace of mind that they are safe while enjoying stimulating activities for a higher quality of life.
One resource that may interest families is The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Buddy, which teaches how to deal with wandering, bathing, and meals. It also provides live help 24 hours a day by clicking and calling the Alzheimer's Association toll-free 24-hour helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
Until science provides us with the key to preventing dementia cases in future generations, Memory Care offers a valuable resource for families struggling to effectively communicate with an elder affected by Alzheimer’s.
For more tips on communicating with persons suffering from Alzheimer’s or another dementia, visit alz.org/commtips. For more information about the Music & Memory program, visit https://musicandmemory.org/.
Written by: Steven Stiefel
Many older Americans look forward to relaxing after retiring from a job and seeing their children all grown up with little ones of their own. For some, the prospect of peace and quiet can feel dull and leave them with the feeling their lives have lost a sense of purpose. Ironic that life is about more than punching a clock forty hours a week, yet some feel lost without a workday grind. It’s also unhealthy and potentially depressing to settle into a sedentary lifestyle. Without much to do, life starts to feel pretty empty.
For those who want their golden years of retirement to be infused with higher meaning, Regency offers a few tips:
Identify what makes you happy
Experts point to the power of questions to discover our purpose. Ask some questions and be honest with the answers. What has always made you excited to wake up in the morning? What have you always wanted to do when you had the time and resources? What did you enjoy or find satisfying about full-time work? If it is the work itself, many seniors can find part-time work, which can help to make retirement savings go further. If it is the fellowship of colleagues or the sense of mission, these are intangible things we can often find through alternative channels than just a workplace.
Break Out of a Routine
Someone struggling to adjust to retirement living may simply feel comfortable following a daily routine. We are creatures of habit, after all. As scary as change may be, doing the same thing, day after day, becomes boring. Changing things up can lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction. We adapt to new places and faces by reassuring ourselves that the novel will soon become familiar and strangers will soon become friends. All it takes is repetition and being bold enough to start a conversation to discover common interests. Within a matter of days, seniors can try new hobbies, check out new restaurants, visit new places, travel, and more.
Stay Active (Doing the Fun Stuff You Never Had Time for Before)
While everyone enjoys taking periods to rest, some people scoff at the idea of slowing down completely. Working kept us busy, but there are plenty of ways to keep in motion, from helping others to finding joy in recreational activities. After a long life of taking care of others, seniors can let the staff at an Assisted Living community take care of things like laundry, cleaning house and cooking. Their time is better spent on doing the enjoyable tasks rather than these chores. Exercise equipment and game areas keep the body and mind sharp. “Fun” means different things to different people: For one senior, it will mean hunting or fishing; another, reading books or writing a blog.
Creativity finds outlets in the form of painting or drawing, creating music, writing a journal or a blog, cooking, etc. Don’t get too hung up on whether people like something you create. Praise feels good, but creation is its own reward. At Regency, we offer craft classes for residents to indulge their imaginations and try new things.
Focus on Others
We can explore the art of conversation and develop relationships and with family and friends once life is not so hectic. For many, this can mean spending quality time with grown children and grandchildren. Even the person who has everything he or she could possibly ever need can find purpose in doing things to benefit others and the community. Volunteering for a charity, becoming active in politics, mentoring a young person, becoming an advocate for a good cause, or serving on a Resident Council are all ways to serve others. Use new-found free time to reconnect with old friends on Facebook or make new ones in a senior living community, like Regency.
Consider Retirement Living Options
If aging in place in the home leaves a senior feeling bored and lonely, family should consider a Senior Living Community that offers activities to fill time and new friendships to be made. Beyond the safety and convenience this offers, we all yearn to spend time with people our own age. Support and involvement matter greatly when it comes to finding happiness and purpose in later years.
Indeed, there is a lot more to life than collecting a paycheck. It’s never too late to reinvent oneself and regain a sense of purpose, wherever we find ourselves in retirement days.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
Written by: Steven Stiefel
Searching for senior care choices? On the off chance that you or your friends and family are thinking about senior care, you may begin to wonder just where to begin. With 6 care options, which one is best for you and your loved ones? In total, there are six levels: Independent, In-home, Assisted, Respite, Memory, and Nursing home care. Let’s break each one down to understand them a bit better.
Starting with the least amount of caregiving, seniors considering downsizing might be a great fit for Independent Living. This autonomous approach is most fitting for maturing seniors that are equipped for living mostly in independence. Regency Senior Retirement Community provides a community for those that no longer feel safe living alone or do not wish to maintain the upkeep of a home. While onsite services and activities are provided, our independent living community is geared toward early aging seniors who have the freedom to live according to their own schedules, and come and go as they please.
The next level of senior living is In-Home Care, otherwise referred to as “aging in place”. It is intended for seniors that require help from others within the convenience of their own home. This includes daily check-ins, medication administration, and personal care. The benefit to in-home senior care? Aging in place is the less traumatic alternative in caregiving. In-home care allows senior parents to accept assistance in their home without the additional worry of moving during an already vulnerable state. The disadvantage? Many in-home patients are not in this level of care for long, as they typically require more serious medical care from an assisted living community or nursing home.
With the move into Assisted Living or Residential Care, seniors will not require the amount of support provided in a nursing home, but be that as it may, residents of this care level may not be able to perform routine tasks without assistance. This level of care is intended for seniors who look for an active and dynamic life, yet require more hands-on with day-by-day activities and schedules compared to individuals in in-home caregiving. At Regency, our Assisted Living program provides our residents with the opportunity and support to enjoy the golden years, make lasting friendships with individuals with the same life-experiences, and encourage community involvement of that offers a sense of purpose.
The next caregiving alternative is Respite care. Are your aging loved ones hesitant to try senior living? Or are your loved ones in need of temporary care? Respite care is for people who are in transition of care stages, or need brief care, normally running from days up to a month, contingent upon their circumstance. In many cases, these types of stays may simply be a test run to get better acquaintanted to senior living, before moving in. At Regency, our program permits seniors to sample all of the amenities available to residents. Following their stay, many find themselves so pleased with their visit, they become full time residents of our Regency family.
The families of seniors that battle with memory difficulties, for example, dementia or Alzheimer's, ought to consider Memory Care. For memory debilitation, it is encouraged to execute planned, round-the-clock care and organized exercises to guarantee their well-being and personal satisfaction. Here at Regency, our memory staff can aid seniors who require a special approach through customized care of their particular needs, as individual fulfillment is critical for every resident.
Concluding with the most concentrated living, Nursing Home Senior Care. With more invasive caregiving than other living alternatives, this approach is suggested for seniors that routinely require hospitalization, their condition is worsening, and when previous senior care is no longer an option.
In choosing the best caregiving for you or your loved ones, seek a senior specialist or physician for their suggestion in senior care. Furthermore, our senior arrangement staff can offer free advice for choosing the best senior care, contingent upon the requirements and personal needs. Call today for your free consult!
Written by: Katie Hanley
It’s already been a scorching hot summer and the season has only just begun. With that in mind, here are some tips for making sure you and the ones you love stay cool. Infants and anyone with a chronic illness need special attention, as do outdoor pets.
Dehydration from being in the heat and not getting adequate liquids can lead to hospitalization. Older adults are particularly at risk due to changes in renal function and body water composition.
Signs include confusion, problems with walking or falling, dizziness or headaches, dry or sticky mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, inability to sweat or produce tears, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure or blood pressure that drops when changing from lying to standing, constipation and decreased urine.
A caregiver like the ones at Regency work to keep our seniors healthy and hydrated, but what about friends and family who may live alone and struggle to keep cool in the oppressive heat?
Some tips to remember:
Hamilton County schools are about to wrap up the year and students will be on summer vacation. Lucky them! Chattanooga has a reputation as a family-friendly city, and for good reason. So many institutions in town are designed with children in mind and encourage making new discoveries and creativity. It's easy to find things to do that let you spend time with your favorite young people sharing stories and memories and learning more about the interesting little people they're becoming. There's no shortage of adventures to have in Chattanooga, so we limited our list to four favorites:
There's no time like spring to inspire a fresh start. Even with so many of your daily needs taken care of at your retirement community, it can feel good to get newly organized and set up for all the fun things you want to enjoy this spring and summer. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than having last season's clothes at the front of your closet, old medications cluttering up your medicine cabinet, and not being able to put your hands on the exact letter or piece of memorabilia you were thinking of right away. Here are some ideas for how you can do a little spring cleaning so you can hurry up and enjoy the best parts about these warm weather seasons.
Clean out your drawers of all the little things that accumulate or mail you need to respond to. Take clothes you never wore this winter or that no longer fit for spring and summer out of the closet and donate them to a charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. The same for any tchotchkes or knick knacks that are taking up too much space. If there are family heirlooms you no longer have room for but can't bear to part with, see if a family member has space. Your children or grandchildren might love to have a special piece of you in their home.
One way to keep track of special mementos like letters, ticket stubs, clippings from magazines, or photographs sent from friends is to start a memory box or scrapbook. Putting it together in the first place can be a fun activity in its own right, but it will also give you a way to keep track of such things while they accumulate throughout the year. As soon as you get home from a baseball game, for example, you will immediately have a place to put your ticket or a photo from the paper the next day. Interesting articles you enjoy from various periodicals can be pasted into a journal, allowing you to recycle the rest of the magazine to save space. A memory box would let you save larger keepsakes, like a rock you found during a special walk with a loved one or pressed flowers from a plant you grew yourself.
Another important thing to stay on top of is your daily prescriptions and over-the-counter pills. It's can be easy to get confused about what you've taken throughout the day, especially if you have several medications to keep track of. Start by organizing your medicine cabinet. Put the smaller and least-used items up top, and the things you need every day front and center in the order you use them, left to right. Having everything in the exact same spot makes it simple to stick to a routine and know when you need a refill. Color code the lids with stickers or a marker if you find visual aids helpful. Dispensing your daily medications into a pill box with a section for each day of the week can help you stay on track, too.
While you're setting up your medicine cabinet, set aside anything that's expired, that you're no longer taking, or that you never use. Instead of flushing old medications down the toilet or throwing them away, take them to a drug-take-back site. Most police departments accept expired medications or can tell you where nearby pharmacies or hospitals do. Also set aside any old makeup, toiletries, or sunscreens that are expired or that you never use. There's no reason to keep around items that take up space but aren't going to do you any good.
These are just a few ways to savor spring by setting up your life to work better for you. Just a few minutes here and there will save you so much time in the long run, time you could be spending on the golf course, with friends or family, or starting an exciting new hobby like gardening, painting, or walking with friends.
You don’t have to be Jack LaLanne to be in great shape. But just like the famous bodybuilder, you can transform your physique while reducing the symptoms and slowing the progress of several chronic diseases. In fact, focusing on fitness can be a simple matter of doing some things differently.
It does a body good to keep moving, whether it is in a gym, in a pool, at Hamilton Place Mall, in a garden, on a ballroom dance floor, or even in the hallways of Regency Senior Living. Fitness helps with arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, blood pressure, depression, and more!
Of course, you never want to start a workout without first consulting your doctor to make sure you won’t strain anything or otherwise injure yourself.
Small changes in daily routine can make a big difference. For example, walking instead of riding in a car when going a short distance, walking while socializing rather than sitting with a friend to chat, using time in a swimming pool to tread water rather than merely floating restfully, stretching in your chair, squatting to pick something up, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
The stretching part is very important to avoid injury and improve your flexibility. Remember to drink plenty of fluids so you do not become dehydrated.
Talk to us at Regency Senior Living about initiatives to help keep seniors healthy and active.