Grateful Gatherings

As we prepare to give thanks and gather around the table…I remember.  I remember that it was just last Thanksgiving that we experienced a “first” in our community. It was the first time that all 16 of our residents were out with family at the EXACT same time.  It was a strange feeling for the folks that were working that day.  I remember them calling to tell me about it.  Oh, there is always plenty to be done and the staff was happy for the residents to be spending quality time with family and loved ones.  It was just a new first for our community.  What about you?  Is this the first year that you will be planning Thanksgiving after having moved a loved one into an assisted living? Are you concerned with all the preparation and worried about the visit?  Here are a few tips to help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving with your elderly loved ones.

Schedules and Timing

As much as you don’t want to plan out every little detail, you do want to give it some thought. Remember that if they are residing in an assisted living they may now be accustomed to a more structured routine.  You will want to check with the staff regarding medications and proper protocol.  You want to be sure to keep everything on track.

Food and Options

Our residents live very active and independent lifestyles.  They enjoy making their own choices and directing their care.  But it is important to consider their dietary needs.  Be mindful of food options.  Remember if Mom doesn’t need the extra salt or Dad needs alternative dessert options.

Time Away

One of the most common comments I hear from families is that they are shocked when not long after eating ….the elderly loved one is ready to go back to their community (new home).  Now naturally this makes an administrator very happy that a resident has come to feel comfortable in their community.  But don’t let it make you feel down.  Remember they have gotten on their own time schedule.  They are enjoying your company, but like many people after a gathering may need some rest.

As with all time together…just enjoy.  Make it special but don’t put too much pressure on your family member or yourself (for that matter) to meet unrealistic expectations.  Incorporate them into the conversation.  Maybe call ahead of time and get their special recipe for a favorite dish.  Spend time talking, relating and making treasured memories.  Savor these moments together and you ALL will come away from the gathering feeling grateful.

elderly african american man enjoying coffee with his granddaughter

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Home of the Free

This week we will celebrate and honor our Veterans.  Veterans Day 2017 will be on Saturday, November 11th, 2017 and designated as a Federal Holiday on Friday, November 10th, 2017.   As the daughter, granddaughter and sister of Army men, this topic is close to my heart.  I was reading up on the observance and read that there is even a Veterans Day Poster contest.  This year’s poster features the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial located at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The inscribed quote on the poster is from Abraham Lincoln and is also the VA motto which reads “To care for him who shall have born the battle.”  This motto made me proud of the many Veterans that we have had the opportunity to care for in our assisted living communities.  In a Veterans Day Proclamation from 2001, Former President George W. Bush said, “Throughout the course of American history, courageous men and women have taken up arms to secure, defend, and maintain these core principles upon which our Nation’s freedoms depend.”  It is because of this bravery that we enjoy those freedoms.

We pause and say thank you and recognize the brave and selfless men and women that have served this great nation.  We also want to remind our Veterans that there is a very helpful resource available to many of them based on eligibility that can help pay for the cost of assisted living.  Per veteranaid.org, hundreds of thousands are eligible for this little-known VA benefit, including spouses of veterans. These funds can be used for assisted living at many facilities.  To learn more you can contact your local Veterans Affairs Office or check out www.benefits.va.gov

Learn more about your local Great Oaks Management Property and VA Benefits by calling us today at 1-888-258-8082.

 

Check It Out

I spend more time than I would like to at hospitals and clinics.  I guess it is just part of the job.  But last week I had to go for a visit for my own health.  It was time for my annual mammogram.  Now my tween-age daughter might say this is “TMI” or too much information.  But I think…that this is actually the opposite.  I think it is necessary for us to discuss important health issues at any age.  And being informed and keeping the lines of communication open regarding breast health should be a priority.

According to Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, half of newly diagnosed women with breast cancer are over 60, and more than a fifth are over 70. Although the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age, the chance of dying from it declines steadily. “Women who have lived to an advanced age do very well when treated for breast cancer,” says Dr. Hal Burstein, senior physician and breast cancer specialist at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

But the path to early detection and effective treatment isn’t always clear for older women; once you’ve reached 75, there is no hard-and-fast schedule for screening or protocol for treatment. Instead, how often you should get a mammogram or the kind of treatment you undergo for early breast cancer is a decision for you to make with your doctor.

What are the risk factors?

The Mayo Clinic and National Cancer Institute list these primary risk factors:

  • Age
  • Chest radiation as a child
  • Start of menarche before the age of 12
  • Adolescent weight gain
  • No pregnancy or late pregnancy (after 30)
  • Lengthy use of oral contraceptives
  • Post-menopausal weight gain
  • Late menopause (after age of 50)
  • Increased breast tissue density

It is important to keep your appointments for all regular checkups for women and men of all ages.  What may be uncomfortable or inconvenient for a day can save your life.

You can find more information at http://www.cancer.org

 

Pt for Me?

It’s been about four years since I had my shoulder surgery.  It was by far not my first surgery, but it was the first procedure that I recall having intensive physical therapy.  Now granted, I’m in my 40s, but I truly believe that the success that I experienced with my shoulder recovery was due largely in part to my “buy in” to doing physical therapy. October is National Physical Therapy Month.  Physical therapy for the elderly can be such an important part of the healing process as well as a factor in continued health.

The following is helpful information for seniors and the advantages of physical therapy interventions per medicine.jrank.org:

  • Physical TherapyPhysical therapy has an important role in healthcare delivery and relates to maximizing function, preventing decline, decreasing pain, and treating physical illnesses. For elderly individuals, who often have decreased physical reserve, any medical illness or injury can lead to decline. Inactivity and bedrest, a common consequence of illness or injury, contributes to and intensifies muscle weakness, causing deterioration in walking and loss of function.

 

  • Illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, fracture, or stroke, can affect walking and balance directly. Chronic diseases, such as arthritis, may cause pain or restriction of movement. Exercise, activity, and other physical therapy interventions can, therefore, have a profound effect on overall health, restoring an individual’s ability to perform the daily activities required to live independently in the community.

 

  • The physical therapist typically works closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, physicians, social workers, and occupational therapists, to refine both diagnosis and treatment. This interdisciplinary approach allows for the integration of all domains of health to more fully address the needs of the elderly.

 

If you or someone you know can benefit from physical therapy for strength and healing contact your primary care physician to see what options may be best for you.

 

Fun For All Ages

Now that I feel like I have caught my breath after National Assisted Living Week, I want to share something that I have known about for quite some time.  As a matter of a fact, I benefitted from it as a child myself.  See…as a little girl, my Mom would take me with her to work.  My Mom has always been a pro at styling hair and in my younger years, this was her profession.  As a beautician, she would do hair for her regular customers, but she also did hair at the local nursing home and assisted living.  Now in my single digit years, my trade was singing and tap dancing.  This proved to be quite the asset to my mom with her scissors, perm rods and hairspray.  She would always plan for me and some of my other performing arts sisters to put on a show for the older folks.  I loved every opportunity to perform (and to talk) so I was game.  Little did I know then, but these residents were as happy to see me as I was to see them.  I remember the performances of course.  But I also remember eating gingerbread cookies, looking at pictures and having a captive audience to whatever I wanted to talk about.  I also remember the stories.  At almost 42 years of age, I still remember Hazel.  Mrs. Hazel was my friend.  She always wanted me to sing and tap dance for her.  Mrs. Hazel didn’t have grandchildren of her own and it was her delight to have our little visits.  But it was something I enjoyed very much as well.  I think it was this type of friendship in my formative years that led me to where I am today.  I may not be tap dancing anymore…well, come to think of it…maybe I do.  I am an Assisted Living Administrator, so technically I sing and tap dance for seniors on a regular basis.  Just to whatever tune they are requesting I suppose. 😉 But it is a joy.  A joy that started a very long time ago for me.  I witnessed the most beautiful visits this past week from a class of preschoolers with our residents at the Gardens.  It was wide open, head back laughing FUN!  Literally fun for all ages.  The new rage is intergenerational involvement.  But the concept is not new at all.  Studies have shown that these type of interactions prove beneficial for both sets of people…young and old.  Below are the benefits for seniors and children according to legacyproject.org.

Senior Benefits:

  • Active, involved older adults with close intergenerational connections consistently report much less depression, better physical health, and higher degrees of life satisfaction. They tend to be happier with their present life and more hopeful for the future.
  • Young and old can fulfill the role of student and teacher for each other, and it’s not always the older person who does the teaching. Children like to feel needed, and they can teach elders lots of things – like how to find some pretty cool stuff on the Internet! Children can also help older people, particularly those facing health challenges or other losses, see the world anew again, through a child’s eyes.

Benefits for Children

  • In general, children develop higher self-esteem, better emotional and social skills (including an ability to withstand peer pressure), and can even have better grades in school.
  • Through sharing in an older adult’s interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. Through their life experience, older adults can often bring with them a tremendous amount of patience. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes children pick up from elders tend to stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources.

 

As a product of this type of intergenerational impact, I can tell you that you are missing out if don’t find your own Mrs. Hazel.  I also now see this type of influence through the eyes of my residents and for them as well, it is a beautiful thing.  Thank you to those precious children that shared bubbles and ice cream with your new friends at the Gardens last week.  We look forward to seeing you again real soon!

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*Photograph from my personal archives circa the early 80s.  I’m the brunette in the front.  No, I’m not a natural blonde. 😉

 

 

 

Look Out

Did you get your approved solar glasses earlier this week?  I did not.  For me, I make it a practice not to look directly at the sun.  Millions of people, (per the sales of solar eclipse glasses) have been in tune with recommendations about protecting their vision from the solar eclipse.  Now that the hysteria has passed…there is something that we should all set our sights on that affects us on a regular basis and that is our vision changes.  Since August in National Eye Exam Month, here is a list from the American Optometric Association of age related illnesses that we can look out for that can have a serious impact on your eye health and vision.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss. Although small, the macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see fine detail and colors. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV and recognizing faces all require good central vision provided by the macula. While macular degeneration decreases central vision, peripheral or side vision remains unaffected.

Cataracts are cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon their size and location, they can interfere with normal vision. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, dulling of colors and increased sensitivity to glare.

Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is the result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These damaged blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause retinal tissue to swell and cloud vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. In addition, the instability of a person’s glucose measurements over time can impact the development and/or severity of the condition. At its most severe, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Dry Eye is a condition in which a person produces too few or poor-quality tears. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans and older adults have a higher risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma is often painless and can have no symptoms. Over time, it can take away peripheral (side) vision.

Retinal Detachment is a tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue. Retinal detachment most often occurs spontaneously due to changes to the gel-like vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. Other causes include trauma to the eye or head, health problems like advanced diabetes, and inflammatory eye disorders. If not treated promptly, it can cause permanent vision loss.

eye test

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that folks 65 years of age and older have a full exam every year or two.  Be sure to contact your doctor if you have concerns so that you can be focused on maintaining good health and vision.

Dishing Up Discounts

The other day I had one of those moments.  You know…those times when you are becoming exactly like your mother, grandmother, father, etc.  We were out to eat and I said to my husband that I wished I could order off the “kids menu” because I wasn’t that hungry and it was cheaper.  It was like I had instantly become my grandmother.  The memories came flooding back.  How many times had I heard her ask a server if they had a “child’s plate” she could order?  I was always embarrassed and never quite understood her frugality.  Now as an adult I get it.  Especially for those who are in the age bracket who qualify for a senior discount…pinching pennies is important.  So, in memory of my grandmother (who we affectionately called Mama Clifford), here is a guide to some popular restaurants that feature savings for seniors.  These are only some of the eateries that offer discounts and with all promotions it may vary by location.  But save where you can and as Benjamin Franklin would say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

money

Applebee’s Senior Discount: 10-15% off (varies by location) MAY require Golden Apple Card (60+)

Bonefish Grill Senior Discount: AARP members 10% off

Burger King Senior Discount: 10% off (60+) plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks

Captain D’s Seafood: “Happy Wednesday Offer” Choice of 8 meals + drink for $4.99 or less- varies by loc. (62+)

Chick-fil-A Senior Discounts: Chick-fil-A offers a free refillable senior drink, not including coffee. – Varies by location.

Chili’s Restaurants Senior Discounts: Chili’s offers a 10% senior discount (55+)

Denny’s: Senior discount varies by location, 15% off for AARP members

McDonald’s: Discounts on coffee everyday (55+)

Outback Steakhouse: 10% off AARP members for meals (alcohol excluded)

Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+) varies by location

Subway: 10% off (60+) varies by location

Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)

TCBY: 10% off (55+)

 

Independence Day

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”  In recognition of the birth of our great nation we also make a parallel to the independence of our great residents.  Seniors full of life and vitality, have so much living to do and want to enjoy it to the fullest.  To begin each day refreshed and full of life is the ultimate goal of our communities.  If you are looking into assisted living for yourself or a loved one…I want you to consider who we are, what we do and what we provide…straight from our website.

“Each of Great Oaks Management’s retirement communities provide an enhanced senior living environment focused on active aging – an approach that aims to maximize the quality of life and well-being of seniors while fulfilling their individual needs and promoting purposeful living.  Our care options and life enrichment programs allow our residents to live to their greatest potential in communities that are ideal for sharing past experiences and making new memories with neighbors, friends and loved ones.

Over the years, Great Oaks has developed an enthusiastic and determined team of healthcare leaders whose knowledge of the industry has allowed us to meet the diverse and changing needs of today’s active senior adults.  Our mission has been to fulfill for seniors what we all want each and every day – to be happy and healthy, to focus on family, friends, and fun, and to maintain a sense of independence.”  As we celebrate all the freedoms we have to enjoy this week, we want to thank our service men and women both past and present.  If you would like more information on how to make the most of independence for you or your senior, visit our website at:  http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com or give us a call today at 1-888-258-8082.

Beat the Heat

As I write I have been watching the rain fall onto the scorching blacktop streets of my neighborhood.   It feels good on the porch in the evenings.  But, the middle of the day is a bit unbearable for me.  Summertime is no joke in Alabama.  I remember moving South the summer of 1985.  July to be exact.  Being that I moved from way up North…it seriously took me two entire weeks for my system to adjust.  Heat is not anything for anyone to play around with. It can be particularly concerning for the elderly.  Here are some tips to help our seniors keep their cool this summer.

Drink Up! The key to staying healthy is to stay hydrated!  Drink eight or more 8-ounce glasses per day of water every day.  Be aware of the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability and poor skin elasticity.  So, don’t wait…HYDRATE!

walking man sweat

Block the Rays!  Protect your skin from sun damage by wearing hats, sunglasses and don’t forget the sunscreen!  Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.  Remember as we age, our skin becomes more sensitive to the sun.

 

Dress for Sunny Success!  When selecting what to wear go with loose-fitting clothes in light colors that will reflect the sun and heat instead of darker colors that will absorb heat.  This will help you avoid a sunburn and stay cool.

couple biking

It’s important to know that extreme heat can wreak havoc on older adults.  According to healthinaging.org, “Every summer, nearly 200 Americans die of health problems caused by high heat and humidity. Hot weather is more likely to cause health problems for older adults for a variety of reasons. These reasons include aging-related physical changes in the body, chronic health conditions, and even side effects of taking some medications.”  Remember heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause/increase confusion. But the proper precautions can help set them up for success. If the heat is too extreme…stay inside with air conditioning!  Keep you and your elderly loved ones safe this summer and do your part to help them beat the heat.

Take it from the Senior Class

Ah yes…you can hear the commencement speeches filling the air.  It’s the time of year when young men and women close one chapter of their lives and start another.  So aside from the wisdom that they have gained from their educations up until this point…we thought it might be intriguing to get some advice from a generation that has already been there and done that.  Here is some advice to the Senior Class of 2017 from some of our assisted living seniors.

5 Life Lessons from our Assisted Living Senior Class

  1. Keep your mind open and don’t stress if you have to start at the bottom to work your way up.  You can do it!  Learn the value of hard work.
  1. Knowledge is power.  Continue your education because that is something that no one can take away from you.
  1. Wake up each day with an open mind and a full heart.  Everyone will not always have the same values as you.  Stay rooted to what you know while still showing kindness.
  1. Think before you speak. Run it through your head before it comes out of your mouth.
  1. Save your money.  You don’t have to have everything you want right now.

Good luck to the Class of 2017 from everyone at

Great Oaks Management and our communities.

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Pictured above is Great Oaks Management resident,

Sara Hamrick and her granddaughter Victoria.