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.

Medication Matters

June is National Safety Month. For seniors, safety takes on many different shapes. In Assisted Living, we find that some of these safety issues are the primary reasons families will reach out for help for their elderly loved ones.  One of the primary safety concerns is that of medications.

Heads on Meds

If you are worried that your loved one is not taking their medications as prescribed…or too much…or not at all…then it may be time to consider assisted living.  We all know that misuse of medications can cause all sorts of problems, or in some serious cases even death. Assisted Living communities can provide residents with assistance with their daily and as needed medications.  Residents must meet the requirements for admission to a community, including being able to identify your name on your medications. Staff are trained to assist residents in taking their meds using the:

stackedpills

  • The right route.
  • The right time.
  • The right resident.
  • The right documentation.

Medication management also helps prevent against a loved one taking a medication that has expired.. Looking out for the safety of your elderly loved ones in regards to their meds is one way that residing in an assisted living can help families find peace of mind.

hug dad

For more information on one of our assisted living communities visit our website:

www.greatoaksmanagement.com

Aunt Dimp’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

cakeI don’t think there has ever been a time in my life that someone offered me chocolate that I refused.  That may be why I typically keep a pair of Spanx close by.  But I must say that one of all-time favorite chocolate treats is a slice of chocolate layer cake.  We have a precious lady at the Gardens that makes the absolute best chocolate cake that I have ever put in my mouth!  So… when she agreed to put the recipe out to share on the blog, I jumped at the chance.

But before we get to that…here is a little background on the lady we affectionately refer to as ‘Aunt Dimp”

auntdimpDimple Zorn grew up just outside of Clayton, Alabama. She is a former Gardens of Eufaula queen and I tease her that she keeps the roads hot staying on the go… She has a love for life and is the mother of 3 wonderful children as well as the grandmother to 5 grandsons and 2 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughters.  She was married to her late husband, Willie Ray for 66 years.  Aunt Dimp told me that she started learning from her Mother how to cook at the age of 9 or 10. She says that she has always loved baking.  She has agreed to help us learn to bake her special chocolate cake during an activity this week at the Gardens of Eufaula. This recipe has always been a requested favorite in her family.  I hope you will take this recipe and share it with someone you love.

 

 

Aunt Dimp’s Chocolate Layer Cake

Batter

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

3 cups self-rising flour

1 cup oil

1 cup milk

Mix above ingredients together. Spray pans well with Bakers Choice (with flour).  For 9 inch pans use ¾ cup of batter and for 8 inch pans use ½ cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees until done.  Cake layers will not brown much.

Filling

3 cups sugar

½ cup cocoa

19 oz. can evaporated milk

2 ½ sticks margarine or butter

Mix above ingredients together.  Let them come to a boil for 3 ½ minutes.  Stack each layer and cover with filling. Then stack again until all layers have been stacked together with filling in between each layer.

Years of baking this cake taught me to add 3 extra tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon Karo light syrup to the remaining filling.  Boil until thick, approximately 1 ½ to 2 minutes.  Cover the entire cake with this mixture.  Doing this makes a pretty cake.

Depending on the size cake pan you use, this cake will be 11 to 13 layers.

 

 

 

Use it or Lose It

While strumming his guitar my Dad once told me that when it came to singing or playing an instrument that you must use it or lose it.  That’s crazy I thought.  I mean if you have an ability, you have an ability… right?  WRONG!  Try singing after not having done it in a few years and you might be shocked at the quality or tone that you produce.  It’s not pretty, trust me.  Just in the way that you must utilize a talent to keep it going, you also must work your brain to keep it healthy.

According to John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young, “simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next,”In addition to word games, there are other brain stimulating activities.

working-puzzle

  1. Socialization to improve the brain situation!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, studies show that seniors who regularly participate in social interactions can retain their brain health. So keep connected with others. For those friends and family that live far away, correspondence by e-mail or social media or even writing letters can keep you connected.  Don’t stay holed up in your house alone.  This is not healthy for you on multiple levels including your brain.
  2. Keep Moving!  A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among seniors, “moderate physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of cognitive impairment after 2 years.” Simply taking a walk or doing chair exercise is a great way to get that heart pumping and keep the blood flowing to the brain.
  3. Lay Your Cards on the Table  Playing games with others is another way to maintain and increase brain health. Regularly playing board or card games, or engaging in other intellectually stimulating games with others helps keep your mind active.

The vitality of your brain is the superhighway to your overall health.  There are also many brain healthy foods that physicians recommend.  Check out the following list from healthable.org for a list of Foods to Keep Your Brain Fit!

brain-foods

For information on one of our properties visit http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

Under Pressure

One of the hardest things that we all have to come to terms with is that we are not Superman or SuperWoman.  Why…our entire lives most of us are taught that we can do anything…if we just set our mind to it.  Recently, I had a personal struggle.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and had to start taking a daily medication.  Have you been there?  I personally always thought…not me! No way!  I don’t want to have to take a medication every day.  But then I faced the facts, my genes nor my health were going to change.  I had to do something different.  What did Einstein say?  “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.  So, I had to bite the proverbial bullet and start blood pressure medication.  You know what?  I feel SO MUCH BETTER!!!  I don’t end each day with a headache now and I don’t feel like I’m running a race with my days.  Are you or a loved one struggling with this health care situation?  You don’t have to be Einstein or a hard-headed woman like me to know that blood pressure is not something to ignore.

According to an article by senior advocate and health care provider Elizabeth Bemis, there are “Three Good Reasons You Should Keep Track of Your Blood Pressure”:

  1.  Blood pressure problems are easy to overlook. Your blood pressure is “out of sight and out of mind”. There are no visible signs of high or low blood pressure and few physical symptoms. Because of this, it is important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. Blood pressure problems are a “silent condition”.
  2.  Low blood pressure can contribute to feelings of dizziness or weakness, which can increase the risk of falls and other injuries, but many people attribute these feelings to other things, such as being overtired.
  3.  High blood pressure may cause headaches as one of the few symptoms and can lead to:
  • An overworked heart
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Hardening of the arteries

But regardless of your age, take heart!  Blood pressure issues are manageable.  Always seek the advice of your health care professional with any medical issues.  Be sure to report any problems you are having and don’t be a back-seat driver in your health!  Take the wheel and be sure you are being an advocate for your health and well-being.

elderly-with-dr

Proud to Be an American

Did you know that the man determined to be the “Father of Veterans Day” is from Alabama?  As a tribute to our Veterans, I thought I would include a little bit of history.  According to Wikipedia, in 1945, World War II Veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, AL had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I.  Weeks led the efforts and presented them to General Dwight Eisenhower who supported the idea.  The first national celebration of Veterans Day as we know call it, was in 1947.

So how will you honor this day?va-logo

I’m so excited that a group of folks from my hometown have worked extremely diligently to have a special Veterans Day parade this year.  I’m thrilled that World War II Veterans and several of our other Veterans will be honored during this event.  These courageous folks and so many across others across our great nation are so proud of their service to our country.  They also have amazing stories to share.  They are truly living national treasures.

One of the things that stands out to me the most is the pride that I hear when I have listened to residents speak of their service.  I have been told of lands that I have never seen and how we in the United States of America, live in the greatest country on earth.  It is so amazing to hear the first person retelling of their great stories.  The stories of writing and waiting on handwritten letters seems like a lifetime ago in our broken down communication age where we text people in the same room.  The stories of lifelong friendships that were born in the service of our country are remarkable.  Not once have I heard of protest or disdain. The nobility of their acts are shown in their actions and love for this land in their speech as well.  Even to this day.

militaryappreciation5-17-16So I invite you…take time to thank a Veteran for their service to our country. Take time to talk with them. Take time to listen. It is because of their sacrifice and that of those serving today that we are able to enjoy our freedoms.  Because of the brave, we live in the land of the free.

If you are interested in checking into VA Benefits for Assisted Living, please click on the VA Benefits section of our webpage.

Eyes (and Ears) on the Prize

School bells are ringing and many children are headed back to class.  But before they break out those new No. 2 pencils, they probably had to have some health checkups.   You are one smart cookie if you know that this is also a good time to get those checkups done for your senior!   No not your son or daughter who plays Varsity sports!  Rather your elderly parent who is planning a move to an assisted living community.

Now you may already know that part of the process to gain admission to an ALF is to have a physical examination completed by your primary care physician.   During this visit the doctor (among other things) will complete the facility paperwork with the potential resident moving to assisted living and in most cases coordinate with the family member to discuss the best care plan to have put into place.   This ensures that the assisted living staff knows the diagnoses, that the resident is free from communicable diseases, etc.  However, I have seen several family members go a step further to make sure that their loved one is set up for success for the transition to assisted living.  And going that extra mile makes a huge difference in most cases.

So what are those extra steps?  It’s as simple as ensuring that your loved ones can see and hear as best as possible.  It is very important thing to talk with them about the importance of their eyesight and their hearing during this time.  As studies show, one half of people age 85 or older have hearing loss.  Also when compared to Americans 18 to 44 years of age, Americans 75 years of age and over are nearly three times as likely to report vision loss.   Therefore it is of utmost importance that they are regularly checked out.  However…you would be surprised how many residents come into assisted living with the same pair of old glasses they were prescribed years ago.  And what did you say???  Their hearing hasn’t been checked in ages.   Say what??  I said THEIR HEARING HASN’T BEEN CHECKED IN AGES!!!  Whew…you get the point.  I have seen residents that shy away from the dinner table because they can’t hear well.  Why you ask?  Well,  if your table mates are trying to talk to you and you are having trouble hearing… this can be cause for confusion and (sadly as I have seen this happen before) embarrassment.  And the reality is in some cases, hearing can be helped by hearing aids or simple wax removal.

Eyesight is super important in the transition as well.  Moving to a new place means maneuvering around a new area.  If you can’t see this can be scary and the recipe for a fall!  So be sure to have Mom’s eyes checked out to be sure her glasses are still the right prescription.  The ALF should care plan any vision issues as to ensure the safest environment as possible.

Sure you are still going to have sight impaired and hearing impaired individuals in assisted living communities.  That’s a no brainer!  Sometimes there is absolutely nothing that can be done for hearing or sight issues and that is okay!  Assisted living staff members are trained on caring for folks with these issues and have ongoing in-services to cater to their needs.  But just as you wouldn’t send Johnny off to school without his supplies…be sure your loved one is ready for the transition to their new community and get their eyes and ears checked out!  That way they can keep their eyes (and ears) on the prize.