When mild forgetfulness turns into serious memory problems, seniors and their families have to accept the difficult new reality that Alzheimer’s disease may be forever changing their lives. Recognizing dementia early on is key to ensuring that a loved one receives the highest quality of care and can adequately express his or her wishes for the future.
A medical exam is the first step in getting answers. A doctor can run tests to rule out other causes for symptoms such as forgetting the names of family members or important dates. Someone with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from social activities, display rapid mood swings for no discernable reason, display poor judgment, misplace things, and generally become easily confused.
Seniors may feel a range of emotions upon receiving confirmation, from a sense of relief to know what’s wrong to anger that life is taking a different course then the one they had planned. Knowing that they are not alone in confronting the disease provides relief from some of the stress.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that families do not put off difficult conversations about preparing for the future. Eventually, Alzheimer’s progresses to the point of affecting everyday life and incapacitating the ability to make decisions about treatment, management of assets and legal arrangements. Someone with the disease may live for many years after receiving the initial diagnosis – the quality of their life depends greatly on the choices made in the early stages when they make their wishes known and get their affairs in order.
“As the disease progresses, you will need the support of those who know and understand you. Concealing or denying your diagnosis will limit your ability to cope with the challenges ahead,” the Alzheimer’s Association advises on its website www.alz.org. “Putting legal, financial and end-of-life plans in place is one of the most important steps you can take. It allows you to participate in making decisions that help family and friends know your wishes.”
Planning for the future includes:
These can be very difficult topics to bring up, especially when the senior and his or her family are still feeling overwhelmed by the diagnosis and fearful of what lies ahead. “If you don't have an honest talk about these topics, how will others know and respect your wishes?” the Alzheimer’s Association asks on its website. “Ideally, it's best to express your wishes now while you are able to make decisions for yourself. Addressing your wishes with family members, your care team or a legal professional will ensure that your expressed requests will be followed when appropriate.”
While many family members will take on the caregiver role in their home, Regency Senior Living offers secure memory care in many of our communities, offering the person with dementia a structured environment and specially trained caregivers working around the clock to maintain seniors’ dignity and comfort. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers tools on its website for Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer's Navigator® is an online assessment program that helps you create an action plan to meet your specific needs. It also connects you to information, support and local resources. Learn more at https://www.alzheimersnavigator.org/
As we approach the holidays, we are all focused on shopping and planning family get-togethers, but this time of year can also present weather-related challenges to our aging and homebound loved ones. While everyone should be aware of winter weather dangers, the threat can be especially dire if you are a senior citizen who may be less mobile in and outside your home, and more at risk during weather emergencies. Existing health problems can worsen in extreme temperatures. Now -- BEFORE severe conditions are more likely -- is the time to prepare a colder weather game-plan.
One can imagine how terrifying it would be for an elderly family member who has trouble getting around their own home under normal conditions, much less in the dark, without heat and with roads icy or covered in snow or storm debris. They are, for all practical purposes, stranded, cut off from emergency and medical services they may desperately need. According to the American Red Cross, infants and the elderly are most susceptible to exposure to the cold that can lead to frostbite or hypothermia.
An assisted living community such as Regency offers peace of mind that these most vulnerable among us are insulated against many of these risks. In Assisted Living communities there are many emergency systems in place to assure the physical well-being of their residents, including emergency supplies of food and water to ensure our residents remain warm and do not go without the staples of everyday survival. A blizzard doesn’t stop them from enjoying three meals a day and snacks. Regency employs a maintenance crew to keep equipment going while regular doctor visits and nurses at hand minimize medical risks. With dedicated transportation, family do not have to worry about an aging loved one attempting to drive.
There is also another risk of the season that may not be readily apparent: loneliness. The holidays and can seem especially bleak for those who are isolated with mobility issues and feel left out of socialization. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons with symptoms typically starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. For seniors living at Regency, there are many opportunities to make friends, planned activities and the reassurance that compassionate care is never far away.
Seniors who make the move to a Regency community also no longer have to worry with home and yard maintenance, black mold risks, leaky roofs, or other burdens of home upkeep.
For those who are NOT fortunate enough to have a loved one living at Regency, we offer 10 quick safety tips:
Remember, short-term accommodations are available at any Regency community for those from different parts of the United States who choose to spend the winter months in the South. To learn more about Regency Senior Living, call (615) 598-0245.
The second most challenging aspect of relocating a loved one to Assisted Living, after the actual physical move to the building, is figuring out how to pay for it. In the best case scenario, an aging parent has a nest-egg accumulated over generations of working hard and saving money so he or she can retire in a community as nice as Regency. Either way, there are multiple options for financing such a move, especially for military veterans and homeowners.
Regency maintains a trio of partnerships with organizations to make it work. Jeff Clay, Vice President of Business Development, explains some popular options and how they work.
First, a BRIDGE LOAN from Elder Life Financial.
“This allows a senior to move right away to Assisted Living while their home is on the market to find a buyer,” Clay said. “They don’t have to wait until the house sells to actually move, and the home will sell quicker once mom and/or dad are settled so the walls can be painted, the shag carpeting taken up, etc.”
Elder Life can typically qualify a family member with good credit within 24-48 hours, allowing up to six people to be on the non-secured bridge loan without putting up collateral and make payments. The family only has to pay the interest until the home is sold. Once the home sells or other options discussed below kick in, the family pays the accumulated low interest of about 8.25%.
Second, VETERANS BENEFITS from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, for veterans and spouses of veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime. Called "aid and attendance", this program pays a maximum benefit of $2,123 a month for married veterans, $1,788 for single veterans, $1,406 for well veterans with an ill spouse, and $1,149 for a surviving spouse.
“We refer veterans to our partners at Elder Resource Benefits Consulting,” Clay said. “ERB helps them with the paperwork, and once they qualify them, Regency absorbs the cost so there’s no charge to the veteran or spouse. It’s our way of giving back to our veterans. A bridge loan can work well with VA benefits. The good thing is once the VA gets the paperwork, it is stamped and the benefits pay retro dollars back to that date.”
Third, a MEDICAID WAIVER through TennCare CHOICES. This can help pay for expenses for those who can no longer live alone. Typically, the recipient must pay for their room and board if they opt for Assisted Living rather than a nursing home. If are interested in the CHOICES program, you can call your TennCare health plan (MCO) at the number listed on the TennCare card.
Fourth, for those with the foresight to look ahead, LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE that can be redeemed through Elder Life Financial.
Clay said when going to insurance route, it’s important for seniors to give their grown children Power of Attorney to avoid delays in applying the policy toward Assisted Living. “I talked with a woman whose mother had a policy she’d been wise enough to get 17 years earlier through Aetna, but she was unable to execute it in lieu of her parent. It’s also important to factor in cost-of-living increases. In that case, the mother had gotten a locked fixed interest that only paid the rate that Assisted Living would have cost her two decades ago.”
Long-term care insurance is best purchased within a window of time, between the early to mid-50s, because it can be of little use if arranged at too young of an age and cost-prohibitive if purchased too close to retirement age.
Finally, a partner called Life Care Funding can help families CONVERT A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY, which normally only pays at death to beneficiaries, to go toward Assisted Living while the policyholder is alive and well. Since most people rely on life insurance to final their final expenses, Clay recommends arranging for pre-paid funeral expenses that can be paid over months while the senior lives happily in Assisted Living.
For those who lack the financial means to afford their own apartment at a Regency facility, Clay said an openness to something called “companion living” increases their choices.
“Obviously, we’d all prefer to have our own space rather than sharing with a roommate, but this makes living in Assisted Living more do-able for some. Through our Homes4Heroes program, we’re seeing companion living because there is a backlog of veterans on the waiting list, plus it allows them to save money on housing that they can put toward other things,” he said.
Every senior hopes to have the financial means to spend their Golden Years in a community as wonderful as Regency where they can enjoy comfort and compassion. That’s why it’s so reassuring to have a variety of options to make it more affordable – and to start saving well in advance of needing it.
To learn more about Regency Senior Living and the companies mentioned here, call (615) 598-0245.
Seniors may not realize it, but they carry within them a lifetime of lessons learned and wisdom to be shared with their families. It’s true that none of us are immortal, and the author Alex Haley once said, “Every death is like the burning of a library.”
There’s no time like the present to write down one’s life story to preserve for future generations. Just think of how precious your own grandparents’ possessions became over time – how you wished you could have had more time to spend with them, the questions you would ask if you’d thought of it at the time.
Today’s grandchildren are self-absorbed in their gadgets and pop culture, but someday they will mature into people who are genuinely interested in where they came from and what that means to who they’ve become. One day they’ll marvel at how much the world changed from when their elders were children, but only if they have the tales available to read when they’re ready.
Here are some quick tips from the experts on writing down or otherwise recording your life story:
These are just a few of the ways you can turn your life’s experience into a priceless keepsake that will only grow more valuable, pass along your values and preserve your memories.
Some 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.
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.
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.
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.