Rhyme and Reason

April is National Poetry Month. I truly enjoy reading poetry.  I have written some poetry myself.  I suppose it is because I like music so much.  As I looked through many collections and books of poetry, I found odes to love, seasons and even family pets.  But there was an entry I found that I thought was especially fitting for this blog.  May we all find time this month to enjoy the beauty around us.  Look at the beautiful flowers…the azaleas are the most beautiful this year that I have seen in my life!  Also, look for the beauty in the people around us.

A Tribute to the Elderly

I thought upon the elderly

And whispered a prayer,

Giving thanks to God

For their sojourn here.

Such kind and gentle souls

From generations ago,

What they are to us,

They will never know.

A sure and beaten path.

A guide along the way.

The dedicated laborer

Who’s now old and gray.

Patriarchs and matriarchs,

And early pioneers.

The bridge that has brought us

As we’ve journeyed here.

Soldiers of great sacrifice,

Treasured more than art.

We honor, love and cherish them

Deep within our heart.

 

Walterrean Salley

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Eggstra Fun for All

Every year we look for different ways to enjoy the holidays and come up with new activities to keep our seniors engaged.  One of the ways that we can be certain to have a sure-fire good time for all is to include children or young people in whatever we have planned.  The inter-generational activities prove to be a good time for all.  Last week one of my sister facilities shared some photos of coloring Easter eggs using shaving cream.  Such a fabulous fun!  Something, where everyone can get their hands a little dirty and be creative at the same time, is a great idea for all ages.  We are planning is to invite some local children who are out on Spring Break this week and do Shaving Cream Marbled Easter Eggs.  Want to make some of your own?  Here is what you need and what to do.

SHAVING CREAM MARBLED EASTER EGGS

Items You will Need:

Hard-boiled eggs

Shaving cream

3 or 4 colors of liquid water or food coloring

Jelly roll pan or disposable pan

Paintbrush or pencil to swirl your colors

Tongs

Cooking cooling rack

Paper towels or wax paper for under the cooling rack to catch the paint drips

Towel to clean up messes

Apron or old shirt

 

Procedure:

Set your cooling rack up with paper towel or wax paper below

Fill a section of your pan with shaving cream – I did 3 sections, each section had two colors that gave us 3 different color combinations

Sprinkle several drops of each color of food coloring on the shaving cream

Swirl your shaving cream and food coloring. Don’t over swirl or the colors will mix too much and will not be as bright.

Place your egg in the pan, and swirl the egg around until is covered with colored shaving cream

If shaving cream becomes overly mixed just make another section and add food coloring and swirl again

Allow eggs to dry overnight. Shaving cream will partially dry, leaving a nice mess that needs to be cleaned up.

Using a paper towel rub off the dried shaving cream from each egg.

Show your beautiful eggs off!

 

 

Epidemic Proportions

Recently I was helping a young lady prepare an answer for a pageant onstage question.  The question was, “What is a news story that you are following and what is your opinion on the matter?”  After digging into the headlines, I landed on a topic that for me hit a little close to home.  The topic…opioid addiction.  I have typed this out and backspaced and stared at the words more times than I care to admit.  Years ago, I went to great lengths to make sure that absolutely no one knew that opioid addiction was a subject I knew anything about.  But sadly, I know all too well.  Not on a personal level.   But I guess observing the effects of addiction ravage your father’s body and mind are a bit personal.  My Dad died in 2001 at the age of 56 years old.  Now that I am 42 years old…I realize just how young he was when we lost him.  His official cause of death was renal carcinoma (kidney cancer).  But I know that his life was cut short due in part to the large amount of prescription pain killers he took every day.  He was an addict and he knew it.  We all knew it and it wreaked havoc on our lives.  Opioid addiction is an epidemic that affects many different age groups and the elderly are not immune to this problem.

Agingcare.com reports that 40 percent of the prescription drugs sold in the United States are used by the elderly, often for problems such as chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety. According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, as many as 17 percent of adults age 60 and over abuse prescription drugs. Narcotic painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers are the most commonly abused medication types.  When drugs come from a doctor’s prescription pad, misuse is harder to identify. We assume that pharmaceutical drugs are only used for treating legitimate medical conditions, and this is typically how seniors begin using these drugs. Doctors often prescribe older patients medications to help them cope with age-related physical and mental changes, such as depression, limited or painful mobility, and shorter, more irregular sleep cycles. Over time, seniors may develop a tolerance to a drug, so achieving the same “coping” effect requires larger and/or more frequent doses. The result is an inadvertent addiction to a specific medication.

Questions to Ask if You Suspect Prescription Misuse or Abuse

  • How much are they taking? If Mom used to take one or two pills a day, but now she is taking four or six, that’s a red flag. Looking at the dosing instructions on the pill bottle or container can give you a clue whether they are abiding by the prescriber’s instructions.
  • Has their behavior or mood changed? Are they argumentative, sullen, withdrawn, secretive or anxious?
  • Are they giving excuses as to why they need their medication?
  • Do they ever express remorse or concern about taking their medicine?
  • Do they have a “purse supply” or “pocket supply” in case of an emergency?
  • Have they recently changed doctors or drug stores?
  • Have they received the same prescription from two or more physicians or pharmacists at approximately the same time?
  • Do they become annoyed or uncomfortable when others talk about their use of medications?
  • Do they ever sneak or hide their meds?

 

How to Help a Loved One Manage Their Prescriptions Responsibly

  • Stay as connected as you can and make sure you know what medications your loved one is taking and why.
  • Check that they are following the prescribed dosage(s).
  • Encourage them to use painkillers and sedatives only when necessary and to taper off as soon as they can.
  • Look for alternative treatments. If a senior has an ongoing problem with pain, for example, a pain management specialist may be able to suggest strategies for controlling it without drugs.
  • Remind them to always avoid alcohol when taking painkillers or sedatives.
  • Encourage them to bring all their medications to their doctor when they go for their annual checkups, so the physician has an up-to-date record of exactly what they are taking.

If you suspect your loved one may be misusing or abusing their medications, consult with their prescribing physician to devise a solution. It may be useful to inquire about psychological tests to check for mood or behavior disorders and research treatment facilities that specialize in programs specifically for seniors. Many insurance plans cover stays at in-patient addiction centers.  It is difficult to face these problems, but the repercussions of sticking your head in the sand is worse for them and you.  Addiction is not something that happens only to the addict.  It affects the entire family.  Don’t just try to sweep problems under the carpet.

Need help???  Get help!!

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA’s) (National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357),(also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Savings

With Spring in the air, many people of all ages are looking to hit the road.  Elderly travelers need to be sure to plan appropriately.  Medications, meal planning and safety are a few of the concerns.  But once you have the perfect plan and an ideal destination in mind…what about the budget?  Where can you get the most bang for your buck?  Here is a list of travel discounts specifically for seniors when you are ready to “hit the road jack.”

Alamo Car Rental has discounts and deals ranging up to 25% for AARP members.

Alaska Airlines was 10% off for ages 65+. It is now reported to be 50% off. Other fees, however, are unknown. Airlines like to wiggle out of things; call first to ask about the discount and fees before making plans or booking.

American Airlines has discounts and deals for seniors 62 and up. Various discounts can reach up to 50% for non-peak periods (Tuesdays through Thursdays). Other fees, however, are unknown. Airlines like to wiggle out of things; call before booking.

Amtrak has a 15% discount for seniors. But they have a whole bunch of restrictions to go along with it.

The Avis car rental company has discounts and deals ranging up to 25% for AARP members.

Best Western motels have a 10% discount for seniors age 55 and over.

Comfort Inn motels have discounts ranging from 20% to 30% off for seniors age 60 and over.

Southwest Airlines is reported to have various discounts for ages 65 and up. But the usual warnings apply: call first, find out about other fees, etc.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight

I admit it.  I don’t get enough sleep.  Sadly, most people do not.  Sleep is as necessary to our bodies as food and water.  With new devices and monitors that track sleep patterns you can even determine the amount of time you are in deep sleep.  But just keeping tabs on your sleep may not be enough to get you on track for catching up your shut eye deficiency.  Not getting adequate rest can be very serious.  It can be especially serious for seniors who are already a risk for falls and balance issues.  Lack of sleep just increases the opportunity for accidents.   So, what can you do to get a good night’s sleep?

WebMD offers these tips to Sleep Tight:

Stick to a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body will get used to the routine.

Avoid afternoon naps. If you sleep during the day, you’re more likely to stay awake at night.

Drink less fluids at night. Trips to the bathroom break up your sleep.

There are many suggestions and “schools of thought” as to how much sleep is needed.  Most experts still agree that somewhere between 7-8 hours a night is recommended.  But don’t forget to factor in those NAPS!!  Now while a nap sounds heavenly to me.  It can create confusion or longer stretches of night time rest.  I had a resident tell me that he just couldn’t sleep like he used to do.  Upon further discussion, I realized that he had not accounted for his hour and a half morning nap and two hour after lunch nap.  He hadn’t added these napping hours to his sleep bank!  It made more sense that with getting shut eye during the day and his decreased physical activity during the day as to why he wasn’t sleeping for long stretches in the evenings like he had previously.  But by simply getting more exercise and changing his nap schedule his resting at night was improved.

If you are having trouble sleeping, be sure to talk to your doctor.  March is National Sleep Awareness Month and a good time to evaluate your sleep and its relationship to your overall health.

elderly sleep

Much Love

During this month of love, I thought it a perfect time to discuss the most loved things about assisted living.  It has been interesting over the years for me to get the perspective not just from the families, but from the residents themselves on what was their favorite.  So here is the TOP THREE FAVES of Assisted Living Communities.

  1. Peace of Mind

There is something to be said for having someone there to look out for you, day or night.  It is also very reassuring to know that communities have emergency response systems.  Another very beneficial help is transportation assistance.  Some of our residents find that driving later in life becomes stressful. Having someone to take them safely to appointments is a huge help and comfort to them and their families.

  1. Enjoying Eating Again

Not only do you have someone there to cook three home-cooked meals a day, plus snacks….but eating with other members of the community makes the dining process so much more enjoyable.. Seeing new friendships form as residents fellowship around the table is a very gratifying part of my job.

  1. Handing Over the Housework

I don’t think I have EVER had one single resident that was sad to hand over the cooking, cleaning or the laundry.  It is a huge perk of moving into an assisted living! I laughed when my husband came to my community the first week I started.. His exact words were, “they do your laundry, cook your food and clean your room? I don’t get that at home!!”.  He’s a real comedian.

With so many things to love, it may be time to look into assisted living for your loved one.  These are just three of many reasons that our communities are loved by our residents.  Schedule a tour today and check out first hand what may be a perfect fit for you and yours.

Challenges and Choices

As I have watched the latest rollout of promos for the Winter Olympic, a common theme is challenges.  It made me think about the challenges in the daily lives of our many residents.  Just as an athlete must push against all odds to achieve Olympic status, a senior must face challenges on a daily basis to overcome their own adversity.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Life expectancy is increasing for Americans. The fastest-growing segment of the population is the 85-and-older age group. Despite advances in health care, however, many elderly people have chronic, incurable progressive diseases and need assistance with the activities of daily living. The greatest challenge facing us as we age is the prevention of physical disability and the extension of “active life expectancy.” Fortunately, recent studies suggest that healthy (“successful”) aging is achievable, with sound planning for old age.”

SO SOUND PLANNING….LIKE WHAT???

It’s no secret that the biggest factor in overcoming the challenges that come with the aging processes includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  But even though:

eating right, exercising, watching your weight, avoiding tobacco products and limiting alcohol intake and seeing your doctor regularly seems like…gosh..shouldn’t that be enough??  It just isn’t.

Planning for success in aging must include stimulation of our social being as well financial planning, research and making your wishes known.  We can’t be certain of what MIGHT happen.  But if you address the issues early on, it can make the later much easier for you and your children.  Over the years I have comforted many an adult child of an elderly person, who was tasked with making difficult choices for their parent.  Choices that could have been decided and discussed.  Are the conversations difficult?  EXTREMELY.  No doubt, this conversation will not be comfortable.  But making sure your wishes and decisions are respected as best as possible will make those moments somewhat easier for your children to know they are honoring your choices

 

Rising to the Challenge of Successful Aging

Here is a list from the Cleveland Clinic to help you plan for the unknown challenges to come. 

Keep Yourself Stimulated:

Enjoy hobbies and interests with passion, particularly social activities, such as dancing.

Strengthen family relationships.

Engage in adult educational activities to challenge your mind.

Identify any physical limitations, such as difficulty walking or problems with balance. Actively start a discussion about these limitations and use medical resources to overcome them. Use nearby resources such as community support and local senior centers.

Be smart with financial planning:

Plan in advance for retirement.

Carefully manage investments and assets.

Assure adequate insurance coverage.

Decide on your future living arrangements.  (See reference at the end of the article.)

Work to Maintain Dignity and Good Health in Old Age:

Choose a doctor knowledgeable in the medical care of older adults.

Communicate your goals of care to your family and physician.

Check about long-term care insurance.

Express your advance directives in writing.

 

It is wise to look ahead into an assisted living community.  We would love to have you tour one of our communities today.  Visit www.greatoaksmanagement.com today to research one that is just right for you and your plan!

 

Making the Right Move

In the past 7 years, I have given MANY tours at our assisted living community.  I’ve even given tours at some of our sister communities.  I’ve read guides that industry pros have posted.  I’ve listened to feedback from residents, families, staff and upper-level management.  I’ve moved residents into our property from every setting you can imagine.  Now, it’s not that I think that I have all the answers.  That is laughable and would be impossible.  But how about I just offer you as Paul Harvey would say “the rest of the story” and give you my humble insights. I like working with lists of 3s.  So, here is a list of my top three suggestions for finding the assisted living community that is the right fit.

Suggestion Number One

Remember WHO is the Consumer

One of the most surprising things that I ever experienced in my senior living career was the opportunity to move a resident into our 16-bed community from a place that I swear resembled a resort at the beach.  It was, however, also an assisted living community.  As I drove onto the property I honestly mouthed the words…WOW.  Inside was the latest of color schemes and decor.  I honestly wanted to ask the lady at the desk in the lobby the name of the gray paint on the walls.  I loved it.  But my grandmother would have hated it.  I have residents that would have hated it.  And you guessed it…so did the resident that I moved out of this fancy pants place and into our community.  This huge place was also overwhelming to the resident.  The resident had vision issues and that typically doesn’t pair well with a monochromatic color scheme or a giant campus.  Bottom line…think of the loved one whom you are considering living in a community and be sure that you are shopping for them and not YOU.

Suggestion Number Two

Meet and Greet

It didn’t take me long to realize when I started working with senior adults exactly who was in charge and it was NOT me.  Now naturally, I make sure that we are being regulatory compliant and we don’t do anything that is unsafe.  But the phrase that I remind our staff and how we approach the care in how we treat our residents is “this is their house and we work for you”.  It’s not just something that we say, it is how we do our best to approach the things that we do.  If you are looking at a community that doesn’t treat your loved one as an individual, look elsewhere!  When it comes to tours, I offer our current residents the opportunity to meet and greet some of our prospects.  It gives the prospective family and potential residents a chance to hear first-hand information from the consumers who know it best.  It also invites the members of our community to be part of the place they call home and it is truly heart-warming to see the way that they communicate.  Who else would know better than the ones who have been in the exact same shoes as the prospect!

Suggestion Number Three

Visiting Hours

Another thing (that yes, even as an administrator) I would suggest is drop in without an appointment.  Now, of course, this needs to be at a decent hour.  Most properties love to schedule a tour so that a marketing person or administrator can help you through the process and that is a truly effective way to get the answers to most of your questions.  But dropping in on a Saturday or taking up the offer to join the community for a meal are great ways to get a good feel for how a community functions.  Now the meal “invites” do typically need to be scheduled so that enough food can be prepared, but it is a wonderful opportunity to sample the “fare” and observe the staff and community.  Also, don’t forget to let the prospective resident be part of this process.  I have witnessed many families try to avoid bringing their loved one along for fear of upsetting them.  I say start slowly.  This change is hard for everyone…even for the adult children that are trying to do what is best and safe for their aging parent or loved one.  Making the decision to move to an assisted living community is not easy.  Change isn’t easy.  But making the decision to keep someone safe is the right move.

If you would like more information about one of our Great Oaks Management Properties or would like to set up a tour at a property near you, please call us today at 1-888-258-8082.

 

 

 

 

Realistic and Optimistic

While many have sworn off New Year’s Resolutions, it may not be a bad idea to consider what areas may need improvement in our lives. And improvements apply to all ages!  However, it is important to be realistic in tackling our individual concerns.  I can’t help but think of some of those home improvement shows.  A couple looks at tackling this punch list of things that must be fixed…but when the budget or other “things” complicate the completion…they must settle on what can be accomplished.  So, as you consider your own self renovation project, give yourself a break.  Be realistic and optimistic.  Here are 3 things to consider if you have made a list…or even if you feel like you have jumped ship from the resolutions you started on earlier this week.

Number One

Give Yourself a Break!

Nothing says that just because you may have already stopped what you started on January 1st that you can’t achieve your goal.  Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.  But I can’t accept not trying.”  Like the rest of us, Michael Jordan has had his share of failures and mistakes but one way NOT to accomplish a projected goal is to quit or not even make the effort.  Take time out and focus on being realistic with your expectations.

Number Two

Avoid Comparisons

No two people are completely alike.  Even twins have their differences.  Don’t look at a situation and expect your result to be like someone else’s.  Your goal should be just that…YOURS.  Your road to results, may have guidance and perhaps similarity to someone else’s situation, but you want to look at it with realistic eyes.  I remember two ladies discussing their aches and pains one day.  One lady was barely seventy and the other in her nineties.  The seventy-year-old said that knee replacement changed her life!  The next thing I knew I had a ninety-year-old lady calling her daughter wanting to get her knees done!  Set goals that are attainable and healthy.  Take small steps to set yourself up for success.

Number Three

Reward Yourself

One of my favorite phrases that I hear people say is “Treat Yourself!”  I think this especially applies if you are working towards a goal.  Now while this may not mean go and pig out and derail a healthy eating plan once you complete one successful week.  It DOES mean to be sure and give yourself a pat on the back for small steps along the way towards your goal.  Develop a reward system that works for you.

In researching and thinking about the blog this week, I looked back at some of the best advice some of our seniors had to give this past year.  I will close with these thoughts and want to wish you all the best in 2018!

  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.
  2. Knowledge is power. Continue your education because that is something that no one can take away from you.
  3. 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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM GREAT OAKS MANAGEMENT!!

Recognizing Red Flags

Without fail, following a holiday season, assisted living communities will see an increase in calls and inquiries from concerned family members looking for help.  What happens that makes this such a pivotal time?  Well like most of us, we live in a fast-paced world.  We don’t see each other as often as we would like.  Getting together, taking time to travel and perhaps having your senior loved one out of the comfort of their own home to celebrate a holiday creates obstacles.  During these visits, we might discover that simple tasks become difficult.  Things that we thought were okay, truly are not.  It may be time to consider the fact that Mom or Dad being at home alone just isn’t the best scenario anymore.

What are some of the BIG things to keep an eye on?  Let’s call these the BIG 3 RED FLAGS.

Red Flag Number One

Physical Changes:  The first things that come to mind here are weight and balance.  Has your loved one had a significant change?  Don’t miss the obvious signs.  Watch for changes in sleeping patterns too.  I also remind adult children to be sure and go with their parent to a doctor visit when they can.  Be sure the physician is aware of your concerns.  Role reversal is SO DIFFICULT!  But remember you can help be an advocate for the physical well-being of your loved one.

Red Flag Number Two

Mental Health:  This can be related to the sleep factor.  Too much or too little will obviously affect mental health.  But ask yourself and your loved one…how much interaction do they have with others?  Have there been changes in hygiene?  Is the home that was once spotless now in complete disarray?  If there is an obvious change in things that were once important or if they seem like they are disinterested in social activity, don’t just chalk it up to the aging process.  This may be a sign of a physical issue or they just may need more socialization.  Again, talk with them and their primary care physician to decide what will be the best intervention.

Red Flag Number Three

Medications:  Have you ever visited someone and they literally have medication all over the place?  It is a scary thing for someone to think that their loved one is unsure or unsafe when it comes to medications.  You want to be sure that the right medications are taken by the right person, the right route at the right time and the right dosage.  If you question this even for a minute, you don’t need to turn a blind eye.

It is not going to be easy.  As I said above ROLE REVERSAL is not for the faint of heart.  The hardest part may be just starting the conversation.  But it is a conversation that you don’t want to put off until “something happens”.  Here is an extremely useful tool that you can download now or check out on our website that will help open the conversation.  The “How Do I Know When It’s Time” checklist is a wonderful resource to help shed light on the option of Assisted Living.  Check it out today at http://www.gardensofeufaula.com/docs/Resources/HowWillIKnowWhenIamReadyHandout.pdf

The holidays are a great time to visit our communities.  For information on how to set up a tour at one of our Great Oaks Management properties call us today at 1-888-258-8082.

hold ornament