Monday, 25 September 2017 13:07

Healthy Eating for Seniors

We all have different dietary needs, especially as we age and might develop different health conditions. Today, we will discuss those needs and share healthy eating for seniors to adhere to, that can help maintain their health and prevent some common ailments that sometimes come with age. One challenge for many seniors is keeping up with cooking, which can be time consuming, tiring, and even dangerous if you have issues with mobility, coordination, or balance. That’s yet another great reason to consider retirement living—the help with meal times alone can offer enormous peace of mind and transform breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a source of stress to the pleasurable social activity eating can be at its best.

healthy eating for seniorsA senior care community makes it easier than ever for seniors to eat as often as they should and make sure each meal is not only delicious, but nutritious, too. It’s easy for seniors who struggle with meal prep and cleanup to turn to processed foods that are high in sugar, sodium, and preservatives. By enjoying three meals a day with their friends and neighbors at the retirement home, there doesn’t need to be as much worry about malnutrition, or getting the right amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals.

Seniors typically benefit from eating several small meals a day. That helps maintain insulin levels, keeps blood sugar steady, aids calorie intake, and prevents you from missing a meal if you were too tired at the end of the day to, say, enjoy an enormous dinner. Dishes like soups and stews can be rich in vegetables, protein, and carbs while packing a lot of flavor—and hydrating liquid. That can be ideal for addressing some of the most common health complaints for seniors that are easily treated with a change in diet, rather than prescription medications and supplements (though those can help, too!).

Sipping small amounts of liquid throughout the day can help you stay hydrated. If you have a health condition like diabetes that means you need to be mindful of sugars, avoid sodas, fruit juices, and naturally sweetened seltzers. Instead, drink plain water with a squeeze of lemon, sparkling water, dairy or nut milks, or herbal tea. Other drinks that are becoming more popular lately include kombucha and coconut water, though those can sometimes be sweetened.

In addition to staying hydrated, enjoy whole foods high in protein and fiber like whole grains, beans, peas, peanuts, boiled or baked potatoes, lean meats, and nut butters. Protein is a major building block for the body’s muscles and organs. It can be easy to tend towards eating too many carbs and not enough protein, so make sure you get some protein in at every meal. Fiber can help you avoid constipation, highs and lows with your blood sugar, or feeling hungry throughout the day. Vegetables are a great way to get plenty of fiber, including salads, cooked greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, and more. Many of the most fibrous vegetables out there are also vitamin powerhouses, too, meaning you get even more bang for your buck.

At Regency, it’s our top priority to help you live your very best life, whether it’s arranging fun activities for residents, having a caring, conscientious staff available, or preparing top-quality meals that will fuel all your favorite things to do, from playing with the grand kids to taking a walk outside to a rousing game of bingo. With the right foods, nothing can slow you down.

Written by: Meghan O'Dea

Published in Retirement Communities

Regency Senior Living seniors and musicJune 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. 

Memory Care Uses Music to Stimulate Seniors with Dementia

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 

Published in Memory Care
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 21:03

The Six Levels of Senior Care

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.

Regency Senior Living Care GuideWith 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

Published in Retirement Communities

There are so many reasons for retirees to visit or relocate to the Ooltewah area, but one key to the quality of life here is the rich abundance of things for seniors to see and do in Chattanooga, TN – many of the activities are free or at a reduced price for seniors. 

Here in Ooltewah, veteran residents will love exploring the Veterans Memorial Park of Collegedale, a 2-acre park across the street from the Collegedale Public Library.  A quiet afternoon stroll through the greenway allows time for reflection and gratitude for the service men and women, while also reconnecting with nature. The world class park offers wayside plaques, monuments, military hardware, several educational components, as well as an M48 Patton tank and a Cobra attack helicopter. Throughout the grounds, there is ample bench seating, however it is only accessible by foot. 

If you enjoy being out on the green, there is Ooltewah’s Honors Golf Course. Rated the number one place to visit in Ooltewah, this prestigious private golf club, designed by Pete Dye, has hosted many state, regional, national, and international amateur championships. While membership and play is by invitation only, visitors can enjoy watching a game, taking in the breathtaking scenic views, and soaking in the Southern cottage charm. 

Chattanooga Attractions PoloJust 13 miles from our Regency facility, BendAbout Farms of McDonald, TN offers a fun and unique activity for the whole family. This quail hunting preservation property and working horse farm offers seasonal polo matches for spectators of every age to enjoy. Watching the horses puts you in contact with nature, and if you’re up for it, allows you to get up close with nature. During half-time, guests are welcome to take the field for the traditional “divot stomping.” Visitors make an unforgettable experience out of “stomping” the divots back in place to help keep ponies and players safe. 

We’re located about 20 miles from Downtown Chattanooga, which offers a wide variety of activities. Attractions include:

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum – All aboard! Seniors and their families can enjoy train rides that offer an interactive, historical experience reminiscent to when everyone traveled by railway as primary transportation. Prices may vary according on the selected train and special events. 

Chattanooga Choo Choo – An international icon and staple to the Chattanooga community, the grand Terminal continues to welcome visitors to Chattanooga, although no longer by rail. New and vibrant restaurants, exciting music venues, and on-site accommodations fill the beautifully restored station. Famous in history and song, The Chattanooga Choo Choo train engine on display at Terminal Station is the same kind of wood-burner used on the first run from Cincinnati to Chattanooga in 1880.

Southern Belle – Board The Southern Belle Riverboat to experience the river in true southern-style. Carving through the banks of the Tennessee River, this luxury riverboat is reminiscent of the 1800s, offers daily sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises with a live band. Call to book seasonal cruises, including a special senior lunch cruise for senior citizens to enjoy the sights, live entertainment, and games. 

Incline Railway – Enjoy panoramic scenic views of the mountains, Chattanooga, and North Georgia valley from a trolley-style car, as you ascend to the top of historic Lookout Mountain. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children under 12. Atop Lookout Mountain, Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum is just a short walk away (it’s less than half-a-mile and virtually flat). The museum is a great starting point for learning the area’s Civil War history with a three-dimensional electronic battle map. Afterwards walk across the street to Point Park. Entry is only $5 and offers breathtaking views of downtown and the river.

Coker Tire Museum – Calling all car lovers! Zip your way through time to enjoy a free tour of Chattanooga's beloved private car and vintage motorcycle collection. During your guided tour, you will spot beautifully restored antique automobiles, classic American muscle cars, sporty European models, and one of the largest displays of vintage Indian motorcycles. 

Rock City Gardens – For those able to walk well through nature areas, Rock City is one of Chattanooga’s banner attractions. You can “see Seven States” from the mountain brow next to a 100-foot waterfall. Pricing varies according to whether special events are underway or tickets are purchased as part of the multi-attraction bundle. 

Ruby Falls Cavern – Claiming to be America’s deepest commercial cave, you’ll be awestruck by the natural rock formations and the 145-foot underground waterfall. The tour to Ruby Falls lasts on average 1 hour and 15 minutes. Watch your step! Comfortable shoes are suggested as the total walk is a little under a miles and the pathways, although paved, are uneven in some places. Tickets are available, $20 for adults and $12 for children.

Coolidge Park – This popular Chattanooga park is the ideal spot for entertaining grandchildren. There is an antique carousel with $1 rides, a free interactive water fountain for kids of all ages to splash and play, and picnic areas throughout. 

Walnut Street Bridge – This pedestrian bridge was erected in 1891 to connect downtown to the North Shore. Tennessee’s oldest non-military highway bridge was restored and revitalized in 1993. There are benches along the way for those who need to stop and rest while enjoying the view of the riverfront and the people enjoying their day. There’s no charge to visit.

Senior discounts are available at select hotels, retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores near these attractions. At Regency Senior Living, we arrange for our residents to participate in group outings to local attractions. Being part of a group of peers living together in Chattanooga Assisted Living makes for a great way to experience these sights and sounds. 

To learn more about things for seniors to do in Chattanooga TN, visit http://www.chattanoogafun.com/

Written by Katie Hanley

Published in Retirement Communities

When the time comes to make senior care arrangements, many difficulties can derive as a result from families facing the harsh realities of change. There are numerous explanations as to why the discussion of assisted living is the cause of confrontation; some of these may include senior loved ones who are misinformed or have antiquated information regarding what retirement communities used to be like, others may lack the effort to communicate effectively to loved ones, many times there are either too many conflicting opinions when planning, or all of the above. Listed below are the most common conflicts families face while discussing senior care planning for loved ones whom have expressed an objection to assisted living and the possible solutions you can take to address and overcome these obstacles.

Senior Care Research Senior Care Options Tennessee

Are your parents denying the need for senior care? For instance, do your aging parents have a worsening disability? Perhaps they are experiencing a harder time maneuvering around the house, but deny it? We often consult with families who question, “How soon is too soon?” The answer is never! The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to research your options first. Find what works best for you and your family financially, geographically, and the provided senior care services. Research can also be extended to consulting with your senior’s primary health care professional, as they know their patient well. Likewise, our trusted Regency community consultants are available to provide you and your loved ones with the knowledge and understanding to make an informed decision regarding senior care planning. 

Opposing Change

Are your parents opposed to the possibility of senior care? This behavior is completely normal when seniors reach a season of life where living alone becomes almost impossible without some level of assisted care. If not communicated effectively, the conversation between an aging parent, child, or loved one can end in an argument, resulting in hurt feelings. A tip to communicate effectively: be brief and to the point. Express the areas of concern, let them know that their wellness is of most importance and provide information on possible ways to address the issues. While it is necessary to express your concerns thoughtfully, it is also just as necessary to listen to their concerns carefully. Once these have been addressed, create a list of pros and cons to assisted living and living at home with a caretaker. Debra Feldman, a senior care specialist, emphasizes to practice sensitivity and patience during this vulnerable time. Take things slow, as it may take some time for everyone to agree on the matter.

Conflicting Opinions

Does your family disagree on senior care? With more people involved, there is a greater chance that not everyone will see eye-to-eye. While avoiding conflict may be the easier path to keeping the peace, it may not be in the best interest of your loved ones. The path of least resistance is not always the best path to resolving senior care needs. If confronted with struggle of conflicting opinions, we strongly suggest you seek a family mediator to help execute non-biased decisions with senior care, estate planning, and inheritances if a will is not set in place. When the time comes to deal with these issues after your parents have passed, it will only become more complex as time goes on and resentment grows. Aside from the difficulties that often accompany the topic of senior living, we encourage you to consider the best options for your aging loved ones early, no matter the age. If you wish to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, we are here to answer any of your questions. We would be overjoyed to have you visit our community for a no obligation consultation and to welcome you and your loved ones into our Regency family.

 

Written by: Katie Hanley

Published in Retirement Communities

Regency Senior LivingThe decision to move to Assisted Living can be a source of great conflict within families with aging loved ones no longer able to live alone. After getting settled in their new home, Regency residents often tell us, “I wish I had done this years ago”. But there was a time when they, too, were apprehensive about this life-changing situation and the implications on their independence.

Jeff Clay, Regency’s Vice President of Business Development, compared the process to the nervousness that a high school graduate feels going off to a college dorm -- except the “senior” is reversed with the child help the parent move to a new place. It’s not unusual for there to be initial feelings of homesickness and anxiety about making new friends in an unfamiliar place.

An aging parent may be adamant about not leaving a home where he or she has sentimental attachments, but grown children should encourage their senior parents to make such a movie before health worsens or there’s some sort of accident essentially forcing the decision. Actions taken during crisis situations may wreak chaos, especially if the parent is confused with the onset of dementia, so the process goes more smoothly with adequate contemplation and preparation.

“Seniors may have a preconceived notion that Assisted Living is going to be a cold, hospital-like setting, but when they visit, they quickly realize that living at Regency simply means having an apartment, except there’s help available to do things like housekeeping, laundry and remembering to take their medications. Residents are free to come and go, and they enjoy delicious meals in a social dining area, along with planned activities,” Clay said.

This is a contrast to nursing homes, which are primarily focused on providing skilled medical care. Regency offers an alternative that balances the senior’s desire to have social opportunities with the rest of the family’s need to have the peace-of-mind that help is never far away. If a resident with a closed door falls in their room, pull stations next to the bed and in the bathroom with adjustable length cords can summon help, in contrast to homes that typically lack such amenities.

Clay said when siblings are involved in the decision to move a parent, there may be disagreement on what to do. A local caregiver may have a different opinion than another child who lives far away and doesn’t see the parents as often. The remote family may not realize how frail a parent has become or the heavy toll circumstances can take on the primary caregiver who lives closer. In these instances, Clay encourages the children to weigh all their options and look at the situation objectively.

  • Some signs that it is time to consider a move to Assisted Living:
  • When cooking is too much trouble or housework is too difficult.
  • When a senior can’t remember when to take medicine.
  • When the only human interaction is a family member or an occasional visit from a church friend.
  • When a senior becomes afraid to be alone in the home.
  • When family members spend more time taking care of the housework, yard maintenance, repairs and caring for a senior than they do making great memories.
  • When the senior can no longer drive or has to depend on others to go shopping or to appointments.

As seniors age and mobility becomes an issue, their social circles begin to shrink. Much like the incoming college freshman who is anxious at first but eventually makes friends at a university, senior citizens can find that the future is their next, exciting chapter of life.

Although it can be a difficult conversation to have at family gatherings, “the talk” does not necessarily have to be negative if there’s honest communication. Experts recommend that grown children share their genuine concerns and listen to how the senior feels, presenting options to choose from rather than dictating to parents what is going to happen.

Take the time to shop around for the best community for the parent, factoring in location, services and activities offered, and how much the elderly parent likes a place. They may not like the prospect of moving out of their home, but they will almost certainly have a preference on where they’d rather be if it eventually happens. For many, they settle on Regency because of our “family” type atmosphere as much as the amenities.

A short-term stay, i.e., “trying it out”, might be in order since Regency’s apartments are available on a month-to-month basis. Someone can usually tell after a couple of weeks whether Assisted Living is for them. This is normal for someone recovering from a surgery who may need help for a short period with daily tasks, so it can apply to someone getting a feel for our place before deciding whether to sell their home.

When a new resident arrives at a Regency community, we conduct an activity survey and talk to the family so we can begin to get a sense of what the senior considers fun. New residents are paired with others who they may have something in common with. Coming together regularly for meals in a social dining area is a sure way to make friends fast. Regency staff may visit the room to encourage residents to participate in scheduled activities, but they also respect residents’ privacy.

These are just a few of the things to consider when thinking about moving an aging or disabled loved one to an Assisted Living Community.

For more information, visit http://regencyseniorliving.com/ To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.

 

Written and Photographed by Steven Stiefel

Published in Retirement Communities
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:30

Spring a Great Time for Fun in the Sun

Tennessee Senior LivingAfter the long winter, it’s great to know that longer, warmer days are ahead. Active seniors welcome the opportunity to get outdoors.

Here are a few ideas for getting more enjoyment out of springtime:

  • Plant a Garden – Whether growing vegetables to eat or simply enjoying the scent of freshly cut flowers, this is THE best time of year for those who enjoy digging in the dirt and watching the beauty of nature at work. Will April showers bring May flowers?
  • Take a Picnic – With a little preparation, seniors can enjoy a picnic meal with family and friends, in the back yard or at a city park. Don’t forget the sandwiches and lemonade!
  • Visit a Farmer’s Market – This can be a great option for finding fresh veggies if tending to your own garden is too big of a project to take on by yourself. Many of the larger markets offer not only food items but arts and crafts and entertainment as well. Festivals are a big part of this time of year as well, many of them offering a showcase of all things Southern.
  • Take a Nature Walk – Many communities offer their citizens access to a walking park or botanical center where they can exercise at a leisurely pace. For those who are more active, hiking trails can lead to unexpected delights. Walking increases muscle strength, controls blood pressure and blood sugar and offers socialization experiences.
  • Bird Watch – It’s fun to listen to the birds chirping and try to identify what kind they are.
  • Spring Clean – Now is a great time to clear out some of the clutter lying around. While this might be more of an errand than a fun activity people look forward to, it can be entertaining going through keepsakes and recalling old memories. Plus, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment while enjoying the fresh air. Senior caregivers should use this time to make sure air conditioning is working properly before the summer heat arrives in full force. Spring cleaning may include cleaning outdoor furniture and pulling weeds.
  • Spend Time with Family – With kids out of school for the summer break ahead, now is a great time to plan activities with grandchildren or day trips to go shopping in nearby cities.
  • Fly a Kite – Combine walking with the exhilaration of guiding a soaring kite.
  • Learn Something New – More daylight hours means more opportunities to participate in things going on in the community. This may be attending events at a church or community center or taking a class to learn something like ballroom dancing, yoga, painting, etc.

Seniors and caregivers should check with their doctor before participating in any strenuous activity. Not only is getting outdoors good for Vitamin D production, but the fresh air can actually boost happiness, which is important considering the rise of feelings of depression during the colder months.

Say goodbye to winter and hello to springtime. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: tunedin123 / 123RF Stock Photo

Published in Active Senior Living

It’s never too early to plan holiday celebrations that take the needs of your senior loved ones into consideration. The holidays can be a tough time for many seniors as they may feel lonely, isolated, or extra aware of health issues that they didn’t have in years past. With a little preparedness, you can help them beat the winter blues and create a wonderful holiday season.

Make sure that you senior loved one has plenty to look forward to, even when you’re busy handling other aspects of holiday planning. Perhaps they can be in charge of special outings or activities with the grandkids, or can handle some meal prep or shopping. Elderly people, especially those with memory care issues, need to have plenty to anticipate and focus on. You may not be able to share quality time constantly during the hectic holidays, by try to schedule a little something as often as possible. One on one conversation might be less stressful, and there’s no better gift than your undivided attention.

You can also use this time together to ensure your loved one is doing well and that his or her needs are being met. Just as the comparing this holiday to previous years’ might be a point of sadness for seniors, it can also be a point of comparison for you to see how their health and mental wellness really are. If you see your loved one struggling with mobility or find you are having to make adjustments for him or her so they can get around, manage basic tasks, or remember things, you might want to consider a retirement community.

Senior housing and assisted living are great options for seniors who need a little extra help but don’t want to lose their independence. They can also help seniors avoid stress and depression by providing plenty to see, do and look forward to and plenty of social interaction. Retirement facilities also help residents stay healthy by providing well prepared, nutritious meals, exercise classes, and opportunities to garden, walk, and more.

This holiday season, celebrate the seniors in your life, and check in to ensure their quality of life is the best it can be as we say farewell to 2013 and begin a new year. By planning ahead for the holidays, you’ll better be able to anticipate your loved one’s needs both at family celebrations and in the months to come.

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Published in Active Senior Living

blog1You might have, like many people, started planning for retirement a long time before you actually got to the finish line. There were accounts to open, financial planners to chat with, paperwork to navigate, and dreams to dream about hitting the golf course, traveling, and spoiling the grand kids. Just as you began planning retirement well in advance, you should also get a head start on the conversation with both yourself and loved ones about when you will be ready for a retirement community.

Many hear the words “retirement community” and assume they might be like the nursing homes from decades ago. It’s important, first, to recognize that retirement communities today are for all ages of retirees and many offer different levels of care tailored to your needs. Planning for when you might want to join a senior home isn’t a depressing bet on when you will fall ill or become frail, but instead a proactive process to decide when you will be ready to join a caring community of new friends, more opportunities to explore and enjoy yourself, and receive a little extra assistance as needed.

Just as you planned the first phase of your retirement and when you could stop working, go ahead and consider when in the future you might be ready for the retirement community phase. If you are already asking yourself if you’re ready for senior housing, that could be a sign you’re almost ready. Perhaps you’ve realized a big house is harder to maintain as an empty nest, and that you don’t need all the extra bedrooms. Perhaps you are wondering if you’d prefer to live in another city not that you aren’t tied there by your career. Perhaps you simply like the idea of being surrounded by peers who are in a similar place and enjoy similar pastimes, much as you might have in college.

Starting the conversation now can also make the emotional side of this decision easier. Both you and your friends and family might have feelings to take into account and navigate. It will be easier to do this slowly over time when everyone can be more objective and logical than in the emotionally heightened rush after a crisis like hospitalization. Especially if you are currently living with family, the emotions surrounding caretaking can be complicated for everyone involved. Time and open dialogue can make the transition easier.

Even if you don’t intend to move into a retirement community for some time, go ahead and talk to your family, loved ones, doctor, and financial planners now so you can strategize the best possible way to make your move when you are ready. Just as you learned with the first phase of retirement, it’s always best to plan ahead!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Published in Active Senior Living

If you find yourself wishing you could interact more with your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, you might consider exploring the possibilities offered by modern technology. All across the world, people are using things like Skype and social networking to connect with family and friends from whom they are separated by great distances.

It only makes sense that seniors would tap into the power of such technology to be involved in planning holiday get-togethers and simply having conversations about shared interests to pass the time. There's no reason why you can't watch some of the same TV programs as friends and add your opinion and reactions to plot twists.

Here are 5 ways to stay connected to friends and family using technology:

TEXTING
As great as a phone call is, texting is where it's at these days, especially with teens. Quick and concise, a short message typed on a smartphone may be more enthusiastically received than a voice call that requires us to be in a quiet place and focus all of our attention on listening/speaking. That probably sounds cold and impersonal, but just think of the luxury this gives family to read your text and discreetly respond while they are sitting at work or shopping in a noisy store.

EMAIL
Use Email for times when you have more to say than you can convey in a simple text message. Setting up email is as easy as opening a Yahoo or Google account and finding out what your loved ones' email addresses are so you can send them a message. Very few people take the time to sit down and create a handwritten letter anymore. Email allows us to quickly express what we need to tell others, so bear that in mind when emailing loved ones. Keep it brief if you want to have your message read. The longer, more detailed conversation you want to have can flow from a back-and-forth dialogue this opens in follow-up responses. Email's also great for sending photos or other files. These days, you don't even have to own a computer to send and receive email – just a mobile phone.

SKYPE OR FACETIME
Imagine spending 10 minutes making silly faces with your granddaughter or reading a picture book to your grandson. On the website Grandparent.com, author Barbara Graham writes, "Seeing the kids on a computer screen is not the same as hugging, snuggling, tickling, or kissing them, but it is an enormous improvement over mere phone calls, especially when the little ones can't yet carry on a conversation.

SOCIAL MEDIA
People today love sharing their lives on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and other platforms. Even if you don't talk directly to someone that often, you can typically get a sense of what's going on in their life as the channel broadcasts their written thoughts, their photos, even what music they are listening to. Some social networks include chat components that function similar to texting. Even if you don't have personal accounts, many Regency facilities have Facebook Pages that allow family to see what activities are going on.

CLOUD SHARING
If your grown children are regularly taking photos, they can create online galleries and invite you to view them at any time. You can add your own photos to the shared family gallery, creating a virtual scrapbook. On the website Grandparent.com, author Sharon Lovejoy writes, "When you ask your grandchildren to show you what their lives are like by taking pictures of their friends, pets, schools, or trips, you will surely get a response. The next time the kids visit, you can talk about the pictures together." Photo sharing is a way to passively connect with people even if you aren't directly exchanging back and forth messages that often.

These are 5 of the ways you can use modern technology to have a larger presence in the lives of loved ones when they can't visit you in person as often as you'd like to see them. If you have grown children who accommodate your desire to look into their family life and you aren't too intimidated by technology, there's no reason why your interactions can't extend beyond that all-too-precious time when you get to see them in person. 

Photo Credit: jayneandd via Compfight cc

Published in Active Senior Living
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