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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Fall Factors

One of the top reasons that we get calls or inquiries about assisted living is when families have an elderly loved one who has had a fall.  Falls among seniors are unfortunately very common.  It was recently reported in the news that falls are the number one causes of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among people aged 65 and older.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  Now, falls can still occur in any environment but knowing what to watch for and having others looking out for you can help avoid potential falls.

 

Here are some key factors from the National Council on Aging to consider regarding falls:

 

  • Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

 

Be aware of these factors and keep the dialogue open with your loved ones regarding falls and the issues related to them.  Ask questions and be proactive if you notice changes in health and/or behavior.

Family is Forever

The past two weeks we have been collecting pictures of our residents to do a game of “Guess Who” as a part of our National Assisted Living Week celebrations.  It has been such a joy for families and residents to share their pictures from “way back when”.  It has caused me to pause and reflect on life.  When our residents think of themselves, they may picture that younger self that served in the Army or was a homemaker or helped on the farm.  Their children may envision the Mom or Dad that helped shape their childhood and their memories of growing up.  To the staff at the communities that these folks live in now, we may see them differently.  But it is always wise to stop, look back and remember.  As we all age we may see ourselves in many different lights.  We grow and become many things to many people.  So have our residents.  As we celebrate National Assisted Living Week and the beauty that comes from this environment, I want us all to remember that each of us has a history and we impact so many different people.  The theme of National Assisted Living Week is Family is Forever.  I know for me over the last 8 times that I have celebrated this week that it has seen many different faces and many different memories.  I have helped crown many different Kings and Queens of the Gardens.  But I think that what I realize today that each year…my family has grown.  Sometimes it can be hard to let people into your life with the understanding that they may not be able to stay for long.  But as Garth Brooks once sang, “I could have missed the pain, but then I could have missed the dance.”  Thank you assisted living for what you have meant to me and my family.  I know my family has grown forever and my heart is much more full as a result.

 

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All in the Family

We are right around the corner from National Assisted Living Week.  Every year this tradition is a very special time for our residents, staff, families and our entire community.  As we busy ourselves with plans and preparation to make this event a success, I wanted to stop and reflect on why this year’s theme means so much to me personally.

 

I started working in assisted living in 2010.  I am truly amazed how quickly time has passed.  Through these last years, I have met some truly amazing people.  I have laughed and I have cried.  I have learned about others and I have learned about myself.  Rick Warren once said, “while it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.”  The people that live and work and volunteer in our communities are true blessings.  I have learned many life lessons from so many of these wonderful people.  The wisdom that the residents share is invaluable.  The families of our residents are treasures as well.

 

National Assisted Living Week will be the week of September 10th through the 16th and the theme this year is “Family is Forever”. This year’s theme is inspired by a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

 

I feel this theme truly represents what I see on a daily basis.  It’s in the encouragement of a staff member, the smile of a volunteer or the laughter of a resident.  The people that you will find here truly are family.  Find out more about our communities at the links listed below.  Schedule a tour at one of our properties today.  Find out why we believe Family is Forever!

 

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.

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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.

Peachy Keen

Today we are honoring Gardens of Clanton resident Lucille Mims.  Mrs. Lucille is 94 years old and thoroughly enjoys being a resident at our Clanton community.  Most folks when they think of Clanton, immediately think of peaches.  Clanton is famous for their delicious peaches and their water tower in the shape of a peach. August is National Peach Month and in honor of Mrs. Lucille Mims, the Gardens of Clanton and the delicious fruit…we are sharing a delicious recipe for Peach Cobbler. We hope you all enjoy this delicious taste of summer!

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Peach Cobbler Recipe

  • 8 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • MIX TOGETHER:
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  5. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

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Pictured is Mrs. Mims and her loving granddaughter

Serving Up Sweetness

Elizabeth Andrew once said that “volunteers do not necessarily have the time…they have the heart.”  With that being said I wanted to shine light on one of our many volunteers that brighten our days at Great Oaks Management.  Ellen Dewberry has been volunteering at the Gardens of Eufaula since 2010.  She brightens the days of our residents and shares the word with Bible Study on Wednesday afternoons.  Mrs. Dewberry is one of our shining stars!  In honor of her sweetness we are going to share her delicious recipe for Turtle Cake!  Thank you Ellen Dewberry for your kindness and your servant’s heart.  We at Great Oaks Management love our volunteers who are always being willing to share!

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Turtle Cake

¾ cup butter

½ cup canned milk (use small can)

1 (1lb) bag caramels

1 cup chocolate chips

1 German chocolate cake mix

 

Mix cake mix according to package directions.  In 9 X 13 inch pan that has been greased and floured, pour ½ batter.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  While this is baking unwrap caramels.  Put in bowl and add the butter and milk.  Microwave one to two minutes until melted.  When cake is done, pour mixture over cake.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of that.  Pour rest of batter over this and bake for 20 more minutes.

Recipe Courtesy Ellen Dewberry

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Keep It Clean

There are many reasons that family members become concerned that an elderly loved one is not doing well.  One issue that is a cause for concern is bathing or rather the lack thereof.  A parent not bathing is a topic that many families are reluctant to discuss as they may be uncomfortable bringing it up. But be assured that this is an issue that many people face.  It is common…but there may be multiple root causes.  It is important to understand why they are reluctant.  Only when you understand that the underlying reasons can you better approach and address successfully.  Let’s look at some of the more common reasons.

 

  1. Fear of Falling

The bathroom can be a very dangerous place. If you have every slipped in the shower, you can relate. Now you pair the environment with physical issues like foot problems, balance issues, arthritis and more…and you have a recipe for disaster and fear.

 

  1. Depression

Often elderly have issues with depression that can zap their get up and go. When you lack motivation, bathing and concerns for your grooming often go by the wayside.

 

  1. Cognitive Issues

Another reason that is very common are memory issues. If your parent has dementia or other cognitive decline, keeping up with a bathing schedule can be extremely difficult.  Realizing that you haven’t taken a bath is not something they may be able to keep up with easily.

 

While it may be a difficult subject to approach, you must develop a plan. For some simply adding grab bars or safety equipment may help. Some may be able to follow a chart.  But if it is a depression or memory issue, it may be time to consider getting help.  As always discuss your concerns with a doctor.  A physician may want to consider medications to help with depression.  It may be time to enlist the help of a caregiver or look into an assisted living community where your loved one can have daily assistance with their activities of daily life like bathing and grooming.  But don’t avoid the topic because it is messy and uncomfortable.  The health benefits of cleanliness are far too important to ignore.

Just Breathe

Recently someone said to me that I seemed to always have it together.  Me?  Together?  Now that is funny!  Most days I feel like I am chasing my tail.  Did they know my day that morning started with dry shampoo??  But isn’t that life?   Most of us are convinced that everyone else always has it TOGETHER.  We envision everyone with cleaner houses, perfectly cooked dinners and flawless families.  In reality, we are all doing our best…to do our best.  One thing that will de-rail our “best” in a hurry is stress.  It is very common to hear from families of seniors dealing with “role reversal” that it is one of the most stressful tasks they have ever endured.  It’s one thing to raise and help our children…but when it comes to helping our parents…this is no easy task.  We don’t want to disrespect, but we also want to keep them safe.  Here are some tips to help you be proactive and avoid making situations frustrating for both you and your loved ones.

Don’t forget your Vitamin ZZZZZ

It sounds simple, but get your sleep!  According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. The Foundation advises: “When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior.”  Getting a good night sleep is important to your health and will help you be more effective in helping others and that includes your elderly parents.

Track Down a Paper Trail

According to AARP, an important part of getting things untangled for your elderly parents is organizing paperwork and documentation.  “The first thing to do is ask your parents where they store important papers. It may be in a file cabinet at home, or in a safety deposit box or with an attorney. You can’t get organized if you can’t find anything, so come up with a checklist to write down where everything is. Documents that should be assembled and accounted for include”:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • death certificate (for deceased spouse)
  • divorce papers
  • military records
  • driver’s license/organ donor card
  • passport/citizen papers
  • will
  • living will
  • durable power of attorney
  • health care power of attorney
  • trust
  • letter of instruction — with funeral arrangements, important contact information such as insurance agent or broker.
  • insurance policies (life, disability, long-term care)
  • information about safety deposit boxes (e.g., location, number, key)

 

Remember to Enjoy Each Other

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In this fast-paced world that we all get caught up in, it seems we can lose sight of the things that are important.  Yes, making sure that everyone is safe and sound is huge!  But Mom may also really enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with you.  Dad may want to talk about the weather.  Take time to enjoy the blessings each day.  These small moments together will become larger than life soon enough.  Make time to take time and as my Mom reminds me when I feel I’m at my wits end…just breathe.

If it is time to help Mom or Dad look at the option of Assisted Living please give us a call today.  We would love to have you and your loved one come have lunch with us and see all that our communities have to offer.

Get more information at www.greatoaksmanagement.com

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:

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  • 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.

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

www.greatoaksmanagement.com