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.
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.
We'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.