You'll love Chattanooga TN retirement livingSome seniors may initially be apprehensive about moving from their home to an assisted living facility such as Regency Senior Living, but there are a lot of perks to it once you move beyond the fear of change and think about it.

Living alone, especially when you have mobility or memory issues, can not only be dangerous but also stressful and boring.

Being in a home means having to take care of a house and a yard. Why mow the grass, shovel snow or vacuum the carpet when you don’t have to and can have someone else do it? If a senior enjoys playing in the dirt, there are still opportunities at Regency Senior Living to tend to a community garden. Trying to take on home maintenance when affected by physical ailments can increase the risk of falls.

When a senior’s only regular companion is a television set, this leads to feelings of loneliness as well as guilt from family and friends whose busy schedules do not permit daily check-ins. In contrast, someone living in Assisted Living is never truly alone, although their privacy is respected.

Someone living at Regency has opportunities to form new friendships with other residents and staff, which includes an activity director tasked with providing activities for stimulation. Doesn’t that sound better than sitting alone in front of a glowing box?

Beyond the safety considerations of avoiding hazardous physical labor, once someone lives in a community like Regency, there are safeguards in place to not only protect them from hurting themselves but also from being exploited by con-artists and criminals off the street – those who might prey on a vulnerable senior forced to answer his or her own door and cope with aggressive or persuasive approaches.

Moving from the home that is perhaps larger than the senior needs (with children now grown and perhaps a spouse deceased) also makes sense from the family perspective. No longer do they have to feel resentment as full time caregivers or guilty because they haven’t visited enough; instead, they can rest easy knowing that the elderly individual is surrounded by people focused on their well-being.

Life at Regency also means no longer having to go grocery shopping or clean dirty dishes. There’s always a risk that a senior might suffer nutritionally as memory fails or performing these chores becomes too labor-intensive, but in assisted living they can be assured of three delicious meals a day. Regency also offers transportation without the risk of a senior attempting to drive in traffic.

From housekeeping to assistance with food and medications, a move to assisted living can be the key to a happier, more secure life going forward.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Chattanooga seniors stay hydratedIt’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:

  • If going outdoors is necessary, it is best done in the early morning or late evening when tempera-tures will be cooler.
  • Fill a plastic bottle with water and put it in the freezer; grab it when ready to go outside and enjoy cold water longer as it melts.
  • Use fans to help circulate air because even a home with air-conditioning can feel warm if the air is not getting to you.
  • Wearing loose-fitting, light colored clothes will keep us cooler. Cotton clothing is cooler than syn-thetics.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which promote dehydration. Sugary drinks can also have a negative effect.
  • If someone lacks air-conditioning, they can spend time during the day in climate-controlled public places such as a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other space. Some cities also dedicate space for cooling centers open to the public.
  • Avoid activities in direct sunlight.
  • Try eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content (cucumber, celery, watermelon, toma-toes, lettuce/spinach). Avoid cooking foods that require using a stove.
  • Plan indoor activities such as organizing scrapbooks, reading books, listening to music, getting organized, etc.
  • With a little caution and following these steps, you can stay cooler this summer and help your loved ones remain safe in the shade. 

 

Written by Meghan O'Dea

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:

  1. The Creative Discovery Museum is an obvious choice, but it's one of the primary reasons Chattanooga is such a fantastic city for families. There are a variety of hands-on exhibits that let children interact with the world around them, learn something new, and burn off some energy. From the water works on the main floor to the exciting activities in the tower (with views that impress all ages) the museum provides plenty of entertainment. They also host regular events and special programs that make repeat visits well worth it. If the grandkids get a kick out of the hands-on aspect, they might also enjoy an outting to The Fourth Floor at the Chattanooga Library, which has a 3D printer that let kids design and print small objects from special plastic.
  2. The Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Zoo are two amazing resources for teaching children about nature, animals, and local ecosystems, but they aren't the only options. Take the little ones to the Chattanooga Nature Center or on the Aquarium's River Gorge Explorer cruise to experience the region's incredible biodiversity up close and in context. You might learn something new yourself about the area's history, and the youngsters will enjoy getting to explore and make their own discoveries.
  3. The Dragon Dreams Museum is a fun, one-of-a-kind destination that is exactly what it sounds like— a museum entirely dedicated to dragons. It's full of every kind of dragon art, kitsch, toy, household tool, or decorative piece you can imagine. Kids love it for the sheer variety of exciting mythic beasts, from Chinese dragons to their European counterparts. You'll enjoy the variety and the novelty. Afterwards grab a milkshake at Chee Burger Chee Burger and compare notes on which dragons were the most exciting!
  4. The Nightfall Concert Series occurs every Friday night all summer long, and it's got something for everyone. Each week a different band plays from a diverse roster of national acts. There's plenty of food options, slushies and lemonade for the kids, and beer for the adults. There's plenty of seating, and room for the kids to run around and explore. Grab a kids meal at the nearby Subway or for older or more adventurous kids, get tacos or quesadillas from Mexiville or Taco Jaliso, both of which are nearby. Of course, kids always love pizza, and Community Pie is another great dinner option right by the park. You can talk, enjoy the music, and spend some real quality time together— then rinse and repeat the following week!

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.

When Luther Burbank said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul,” he wasn’t just being sentimental. Researchers at Rutgers University found in 2001 that spending time around flowers eased senior depression, inspired seniors to make new social connections and be more outgoing, and helped them achieve more through memory exercises. In the over 100 seniors who were studied flowers proved to be a small step that could have big results.

 

That’s all the more reason to encourage seniors to engage in springtime activities like gardening. A study done in collaboration between Texas A&M University and Texas State Universities found that adult gardeners felt their lives were more satisfactory and had a more positive outlook on life. The participants in the study were graded on their “zest for life,” “resolution and fortitude,” how well they managed to turn their desires into achieved goals, how they viewed their physical, psychological, and social well-being, and how optimistic they were. The gardening adults were more physically active, more likely to make plans for the future, and saw themselves as begin in good health.

 

A different research project from the University of Colorado at Boulder revealed that it isn’t only the physical activity and routine engagement that gardening provides, but that the soil itself may have a role to play in the increased well-being of senior gardeners. Certain soil microbes are not only totally harmless, but may boost the immune system and decrease anxiety and depression. There’s also Vitamin D to factor in, which can be absorbed through the skin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is crucial for helping the body to absorbed other vitamins and minerals like calcium, which can help protect against osteoporosis. Vitamin D has also been linked to improved mental health and reduction of anxiety and depression.

 

That’s already a slew of reasons for retirees to enjoy “a little bit of earth” as Mary Lennox requested in The Secret Garden. But there’s still more— the physical benefits of gardening. Moving around, lifting light objects, bending, squatting, kneeling, and using the hands is exactly the kind of low-impact, full-body exercise seniors especially benefit from. Gardening isn’t strenuous by any means, but it does help seniors maintain muscle tone, balance, coordination, and other physical conditioning that may help them prevent falls or other physical discomforts as they age. 

 

There are other ways to enjoy spring and get that daily dose of flower power, though. A regular walk outside for even short periods and distances can have major physical, emotional, and cognitive health benefits. Between the increased circulation, Vitamin D intake, and sensory input, going for a walk is an excellent way for seniors to maintain health, and there’s no pleasanter time for a stroll than in the spring, whether it’s around an outdoor track, on the grounds of their Regency Retirement community, or for a gentle wildflower walk at a state park or arboretum. 

 

Spring is also a season of innumerable events, from the beginning of baseball season to the start of car shows, farmers markets, craft fairs, and music festivals. After being cooped up all winter with the cold and wet, people of all ages and interests are eager to get outside, feel the spring breeze on their skin, and reengage with their favorite activities. At Regency Retirement, we can’t wait to see how you savor spring.

Recalling Chattanooga TN of the Past

Friday, 30 January 2015 12:31

One of the best parts of living in Chattanooga is how much history is in the city. Everywhere you go there are reminders of Chattanooga’s interesting past and the many generations who have lived here. Whether you grew up in Chattanooga or visited on a family trip to Rock City, you might enjoy walking down memory lane with these four pictures of Chattanooga in the 1960s and 70s.

If you lived in or around Chattanooga in the 1960s, you may remember the Golden Gateway project that routed the new interstate system through the city and were meant to bring new life and commerce to the area. Many historic homes and neighborhoods were demolished to make way for the highway.

Chattanooga is blessed with restaurants that have been favorites for decades. ZarZours has been open for almost a hundred years, Wally’s since the 1930s, Nikki’s since the 1940s, and Ankar’s since the 1970s. Longhorn opened in 1959, so it’s not the oldest by far, but its iconic roof and menu of comfort food make it one of the most iconic. Whichever restaurant you frequented in your childhood, teens, or twenties, there’s a good chance it’s still standing, and still serving the great food you remember.

It might be hard to imagine now with how much the city has changed, but this is how Eastgate Mall looked in 1962 when it first opened. Brainerd was then a thriving subdivision, and Brainerd Road a hot drag full of restaurants, drive-thrus, and other places where young people loved to see and be seen. Car culture was in and shopping malls were just taking the country by storm. Eastgate was Chattanooga’s first open-air shopping mall, complete with swans in the center fountain.

Today the surrounding area is all built up, and the mall has shifted from retail to other commercial uses as the Eastgate Town Center. At 626 Market Street, not far from the site of the original Krystal restaurant, the Martin Theater was once a big draw in Chattanooga. You can see from this photo a hint at the city’s environmental woes with a reminder about “cleaner air week,” as well as an advertisement for color films. This shot would have been taken in 1967 when Jack Lemmon’s “In Luv” came out. You might have seen that or other hits from the era like The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Do you want to get the most out of your retirement? You have a great opportunity to do all the things you always wanted to. Now is the time to pick up the hobby you meant to try, create a gym habit, do a service project, take a trip, or spend more time with family. We have five ideas for how you can jump start your all time to-do list.

1) Birdwatching is a great way to get out in nature, get a little exercise, and learn something new. There are many Birding groups throughout the country that can plug you in to the species and migratory patterns in your area. Often you can do more than simply watch the birds, but get involved in conservation efforts and research studies. Sometimes you can even combine birding with travel. State parks and Audubon Society chapters are a great way to find out what birding opportunities are in your area and http://events.aba.org is one resource to find events nation wide.


2) Genealogy is a great way to combine your family memories and a fun research project. There are more resources than ever to dig into your history. From free sites like the USGEN Web Project (http://usgenweb.org) and Family Search to the local library's census records to paid sites like ancestry.com, there are a ton of options. Plus a collection of your findings could make a great gift of Christmas letter!


3) A personal trainer is not only a custom fitness option perfectly tailored to your goals and health restrictions, but a personal connection. It's a chance to build a relationship with someone who is rooting for you to succeed and helping you achieve. Strength training is an especially good way to build bone density and create muscular strength that can help prevent falls in old age. Plus all exercise generates oxygen and increased circulation that some studies link to better brain function in old age. It's a win-win on all fronts!


4) Book clubs are easy to find in any city and a fun way to check out new books and have rich discussions about them. You can make new friends and have fun regular get togethers, all while building in a schedule for doing all the reading you might have been putting off while you were busy with other things.


5) Starting up a regular game time with friends or acquaintances can be a really great way to build relationships and keep your mind sharp. Mahjong, Scrabble, Cranium, Balderdash, and Scattergories are all fun games that can accommodate just a few people or a larger group. They'll also tickle your strategic thinking, vocabulary, and creativity.

 

Written by Meghan O’Dea

Ooltewah seniors celebrate the holidaysWe've all experienced it: A family Christmas gathering, with familiar scents drifting from a kitchen and wrapped presents sitting under a decorated tree. It's a scene most Chattanooga-area seniors look forward to each year. With so much hype and commercialism, it's easy to forget sometimes that the holidays are about preserving traditions and bonding with family.

Here are 6 tips to have a great family Christmas this year:

Give It Some Thought: Note a loved one's interests, hobbies, and collectibles. A handmade gift that appeals to someone's favorite things is beloved more than an expensive present that feels like a shot in the dark from out of left field.

Be Gracious: Imagine how you'd feel if a grandchild acted unappreciative of a gift. According to the etiquette experts at Debretts, we "must never, ever look anything but delighted with a present. Lack of taste is regrettable, but not a criminal offense."

Stick to a Budget: We can feel obligated to spend beyond our means, but generosity can actually create problems rather than happiness. Says Debretts: "Costly presents may detonate waves of guilt, obligation and social embarrassment; not everyone will be able to match your generosity, nor should they be expected to... If someone showers you with extravagant presents you are not under a moral obligation to reciprocate, or outdo them."

Give Yourself Time to Shop: You won't get the best deals or find that toy that a grandchild said he wanted if you wait until it is sold out.

Be Appropriate in Gift-Giving: Ask your children before you buy their son a drum kit or their daughter a puppy. Don't play favorites when it comes to grandchildren. Although it may seem impersonal, teenagers will prefer a gift card to clothes.

Give Experiences: A trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum or other Chattanooga area attractions can inspire and entertain a family member more than a toy.

Make Experiences: Take time to share stories about past family holiday gatherings, cook traditional meals, play games, watch favorite Christmas movies, sing Christmas Carols, etc. Rituals become the things that grandchildren carry on into their own families.

With just a little effort, this holiday season can be a great one for Ooltewah seniors.

With the holidays ahead, Chattanooga area families are going to be gathering for meals and chatter. Around at least some of those dinner tables, there are going to be inevitable talks with an aging relative about whether they need a helping hand with the tasks of daily life.

If you have a parent who needs assistance with housekeeping, meals, transportation, medication administration, or personal care, they may find Regency Senior Living to be a great option for taking the next step. The same is true if you are a senior who wants to explore new opportunities for staying socially and physically active in a place where help is available when you need it.

Some families anguish over such a transition because of concerns about uprooting a loved one from their home of many decades into unknown situations that may be cloaked in misconceptions of what to expect. We all want the comfort of knowing the next chapter in our story is one of happiness rather than misery.

The freedom to come and go is part of the Assisted Living experience at Regency in Ooltewah, as is forming new friendships. Until one researches the options and understands what they are dealing with (typical costs, living arrangements, etc.), they may have misconceptions about what lay ahead and assume the worst.

Elder Advisor Gail Samaha says it is best to broach the topic with an open mind and a focus on the positives. Grown children should tell their parents that they are bringing it up out of a desire to know what their wishes are going to be in case their health starts to fail or they need more help than family caregivers alone can provide. Samaha advises people to tell their aging mom or dad that "in order for us to provide your wishes and your needs, we need to have an idea of what you can afford."

This provides an opening for the conversation. Once the senior sees what they can expect at Regency, they may transform their outlook from fear of uncertainty to eagerness to begin a new living arrangement that offers abundant opportunities to stay active and enjoy new friendships.

Some families may want to consult a doctor for his or her opinion, especially if there are indications the senior may be suffering for early stage dementia. In the mind of a senior, the recommendations of an objective professional can carry more weight in reaching a tough decision than the opinions of relatives. A son or daughter sharing their worries about an elder falling without anyone around to help can show the right motivations are at heart.

Moving is stressful for anyone, but particularly a frail senior. One advantage to living at Regency in Ooltewah is the range of services we offer, from Independent Living to Memory Care. Finding the facility that can meet their present and future healthcare needs, such as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) will ensure the elder's life doesn't have to be disrupted a second time down the road due to declining health.

The next step is to arrange a tour at a time when the parent and other family can visit and ask questions. Speaking with residents about their experience living at Regency goes a long way toward helping because most will say they wish they'd made the move sooner.

To arrange a visit, call (615) 598-0245 or fill out the form at http://regencyseniorliving.com/chattanooga-retirement-community . After meeting with you, we can advise you on the services you may need and tell you more about the lifestyle Regency offers.

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

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