You and the Flu

Last week we had our annual flu shot clinic at our community.  I’ll admit that I never started getting a flu shot until I went to work in the assisted living sector.  I had experience with kidney stones, sinus infections, broken bones, and surgeries.  But no flu.  But the first year I got the flu shot….NO…I didn’t get the flu, but my husband and daughter…both (who did not get their flu shot that year) got the flu and it was rough.   But as rough as it can be on school-aged children and middle-aged adults…it can be much more serious for the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.  Here are a few helpful reminders to consider as we approach flu season.

Get your Flu shots!

In our communities’ we offer flu shots annually to protect our residents and staff.  It is something that we take very seriously as it can be a dangerous situation for an elderly person to get the flu.  Nowadays you have options!  You can get your shot with your family physician or many pharmacies have flu shots available onsite.   Remember that when you get the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for it to begin working.  So, you want to get your shots ahead of the flu season curve.

Sniffles?  See you next time!

What may sound rude, is just smart advice.  If you don’t feel well or you have a child that doesn’t feel good…find another time to visit an assisted living community.  What we can shake off easily may prove a huge obstacle for a senior citizen to bounce back.  The CDC provides this list of flu symptoms to watch for:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, plan to visit another time when you are well.

Clean up Your Act!

The CDC states that:

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.  That is why hand washing is key!

It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. However, use caution with these type sanitizers and children.

So, use good judgment this flu season and do your part to protect yourself and others.  We love to have visitors in our communities.  But if you are sick, we will just plan to see you when you are well!  When you see our healthy visit reminder signs posted at your local Great Oaks Management Communities, just know it is part of our mission for seniors – to be happy and healthy.

 

 

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The Greatest Gift

Have you ever considered working or volunteering with seniors? One of the greatest joys that an individual can experience is to be able to enjoy the work that they do. Working in assisted living, is not a career it is a calling. One of the first things that I tell potential employees in the interview process is that if you don’t feel that you have the capacity to truly care about the folks that live in our communities…then this is probably not the career for you. In this setting we get to help the residents that live in our communities, but many times we receive more of a blessing from them, than we could possibly ever give. As we approach National Assisted Living Week, I have had many different people from many different walks of life ask what they can do that the residents would enjoy. While there are multiple ways or even multiple things that I have seen bring joy to the faces of residents through the years…there is one that stands out as having the most impact. It is time. Here is a short list of things that you can do that can make someone’s day in an assisted living community.

Share your talents! If you sing, dance, play guitar or whatever gift you have plan a day to come and share with our seniors.

Take time to play! Do you love dominoes? Are you a whiz at Skip Bo? Are you great at calling Bingo? Stop in and spend some time playing games with a group. It will be good for you and them too?

Are you a chatterbox? Even the gift of gab is appreciated. Be prepared to listen too! Our folks love to talk and share.

***Here are some additional ideas that I really like from sharethegood.org

Uncover THEIR skills: If you don’t already know the kind of career your friend had, find out! Ask questions about their biggest lessons or favorite moments. Don’t forget to ask them about their skills and hobbies outside the job, too—sewing, woodworking, writing. Request that they teach you a thing or two.

Log the memories: Bring along a photo album, scrapbook or journal on your visit, and encourage your friend to sit and compile their memories with you. Use narrative, photos, captions, doodles and more. You’ll be turning their oral stories into a documented history book in no time!

Make some artwork: Turn select pages of your memory book into wall art for their room. Simply photocopy the best pages with photos and captions, then hang them up so your friend can continuously recall good times. Plus, colorful photos are sure to brighten any room.

It truly is the time that is given in each of these opportunities that is appreciated the most. Look for ways that you can volunteer and stop by and see us. You can coordinate your visit with your local community administrator. They may have other ideas that can make your visit a success as well. If you are looking for employment opportunities, check out our individual community pages. You can see current openings and get other information by clicking on the career section of the websites.

http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

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

elderly smile.jpg

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

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.

Berry Sweet

This week we shared some delicious fresh strawberries from our local folks at Backyard Orchards.  They were absolutely divine!  Not only were they tasty…they were delivered right to our door from one of the owners!  Talk about sweet!  And since National Pick Strawberries Day is coming up on May 20th, I decided to share some health benefits and a strawberry dessert recipe from one of our residents.

fresh-ripe-strawberry-250x250

Now I have been obsessed with strawberries since my days as a young girl in the 80s playing with my Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  (Yes, I may be giving away my age.) But I had no idea how good they are for you!  According to organicfacts.net, strawberries have many nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that contribute to overall health.  These include folate, potassium, dietary fiber and magnesium.  They have 150% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C in a single serving!  Together, these components are responsible for the overwhelming health benefits of strawberries.  Here are 6 of the Top Health Benefits of the Strawberry

  1. They boost your immune system.  Want to stay well and fight off sickness? Eat a healthy diet, rich in this healthy fruit.
  2. They reduce the risk of eye related ailments.  Strawberries are helpful because of the potassium they contain that helps our eyes maintain the right pressure.
  3. Strawberries have even been shown to help maintain normal blood pressures!
  4. They lower the risk of arthritis, gout and cancer.
  5. Strawberries have been shown to help regulate proper functioning of the nervous system.
  6. They also can help prevent heart diseases and reduce cholesterol.

Those are all wonderful reasons to eat strawberries!   And if you are like me and are drawn to desserts with the delicious fruit…here is a link to our website with a finger licking favorite that is perfect to feature your fresh strawberries and just screams summertime.


strawberry

Gardens of Daphne resident Shirley Hartley loves sharing her baking skills.  She has her very own recipe book called “Squirrelly Shirley Cookbook Specials” that has sold over 300 copies. Here is one of her strawberry favorite recipes that she wanted to share!

 


 

Mother’s Strawberry Cakeslice cake

1 box white cake mix

1 small box strawberry Jello

1 cup oil

1/2 cup of milk

4 eggs

1 cup of frozen strawberries, thawed  (do not drain)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix first 4 ingredients.  Mix in eggs, one at a time.  Add strawberries and pecans.  Pour in greased and floured pans and bake at 350 degrees ( 9″X13″ pan for 40 minutes) or (Two 9″ pans for 20-25 minutes)

Frosting

1 stick of butter, softened

4 cups of confectioners sugar

Combine until smooth-Add 1 cup of strawberries thawed and drained and 1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

 

Making Steps in the Right Direction

One of the highlights of the many varied activities that we have in our Assisted Living community has nothing to do with entertainment.  It does have everything to do with health and prevention.  When it comes to taking care of our feet, it is no small matter.  Yet many seniors lose the ability to safely trim their toenails or inspect their feet for other issues.  That is why the periodic visits from a podiatrist keep our residents feeling one step ahead!  Since the feet are closely tied to our overall health…here are some simple tips excerpted from GREAT FEET FOR LIFE: FOOTCARE AND FOOTWEAR FOR HEALTHY AGING by Paul Langer, DPM to keep your feet headed in the right direction.

loofahs-jpg-838x0_q67_crop-smartFoot Hygiene   The single most important thing one can do for foot health is good foot hygiene. This means washing the feet daily, wearing clean socks and caring for the skin and nails on a regular basis.

Skin Care  The skin of the feet must be resilient enough to withstand thousands of footsteps each day. Bathing the feet daily, applying moisturizing lotions to dry skin and managing calluses with lotions and a pumice stone helps our skin hold up to the demands of an active lifestyle. Never ignore rashes, painful calluses or skin that is red or tender as this can be a sign of infection. For those whose feet sweat excessively, foot powders and socks with less than 30% cotton are best for keeping the skin dry.

ca5c5fa4-12a5-404b-86bc-05c404b1a623Nail Care  Toenails tend to become thicker, discolored and more brittle as we age. This can make it more difficult to trim the nails and contribute to painful nail conditions such as ingrown nails or fungal nails. Nails should be trimmed straight across and rough edges or nail thickness should be reduced with a nail file.

Footwear   For those who are vulnerable to foot pain whether from arthritis, previous injuries or toe alignment issues such as bunions or hammertoes, it is imperative that you wear shoes that fit well, provide proper support and are not excessively worn. Poorly fitting shoes contribute to many of the most common causes of foot pain. Take the time to visit a reputable footwear retailer and spend the time necessary selecting a comfortable, supportive pair of shoes.fuzzy-socks

Falling Risk and Your Feet  Risk factors for falls include: poorly fitting shoes, shoes with elevated heel height, excessively worn shoes, sandals or shoes with an unsecured heel.

April is Foot Health Awareness Month.  So step up and make good choices for your foot health!  It will help keep you feeling footloose and fancy free!

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

The Changing Face

Someone recently asked me was the face of assisted living changing? Well I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. I guess mainly because the faces or the people that I know within our communities are all so very different. They are different on many varied levels. Now while they all have to meet the requirements for eligibility…that still doesn’t look like one particular demographic. So if you have in your mind what assisted living looks like…let’s try this on for size. This may not be the case for all residents. But this is a more commonplace that many realize.

 

pink-lady

It is very typical for our residents within our communities to be very vibrant contributing members of society. We have folks that do charity work, volunteer to read at local schools and even pink ladies at the local hospital. I have one lady that I swear travels more during the week than I do. She has plenty of living left to do and she enjoys every minute of it. I heard her tell a friend once, “I know I don’t have to live in assisted living, but for me it is a comfort to know that someone is always there for me if I need them no matter what. She went on to say that since her husband passed away a few years back, she feels that being in our community allows her the freedom to keep going while not becoming a burden on anyone else. It is so amazing to see lives so full and abundant. Assisted living communities provide so much more than assistance with the activities of daily life. What we are able to do in most cases is make sure that the jobs of cooking, cleaning and keeping up with laundry and other tasks are handled so that seniors can focus on the truly important things in life.

So while we certainly pride ourselves in offering as much assistance as we can provide our residents, you may see that your view of what assisted living looks like may be changing for you. We encourage our potential residents and families to not wait. Keeping medications and nutrition scheduled and balanced is such a benefit that we can oversee. The assisted living model may be exactly what you need to keep you on pace with your lifestyle. Want to find out more? Give us a call today. We would love for you to join us for lunch and take a tour. Have your own opportunity to try us on for size.

In Good Taste

 

plate-of-foodI guess it never really dawned on me until I starting working in the senior living industry that just as our hearing and eyesight are impacted as we age…so are our taste buds.  SERIOUSLY!!  Those go away??  Well, that is just fabulous, right?  Now don’t go thinking all is lost!  But believe me when I say that there is a GREAT DEAL of time and energy that is spent in planning meals for Assisted Living Communities.  And what is on the plate is not what you would expect!  We are not talking cafeteria style boredom.  Sure it may be difficult to appeal to a crowd of differing tastes and disappearing taste buds.  It can be a tall order!  But we have more than one approach to take on the task.  While bearing in mind that Assisted Living residents are given a type of diet that their physician suggests…but remembering that the resident is the captain of their own ship.  They have resident rights to direct their care and this includes their nutrition.  Our job is to do our novel best to offer food to meet their dietary needs.  It is also helpful to know that ALF communities have regulations in place that cover food from everything from receiving and storing to cooking and serving.  By following these best practices, we can offer safe, delicious and nutritious meals.  Here are some ways we aim to please.

eating-sandwich

  1. Always Available Menus. So today is Taco Tuesday and Mexican food doesn’t agree with you?  No problem!  In our communities, we offer Always Available Menus that will give you options that are designed to please.  With a little head’s up, the dietary staff can make sure that your mealtime doesn’t go South of the border.
  2. Menus that change with the Season. Guided by our Dietitian Consultant, we create menu suggestions that offer variety and nutrition to attempt to appeal to any palate.
  3. Another approach that we have incorporated is resident suggestion! Got a great recipe for your favorite dessert?  Then we want to hear about it!  We will do our best to submit it for approval to add to our menu.  From the beginning intake process, we do our best to find out what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to food.  No two tastes will be the same.  But by treating everyone as an individual, it helps set the situation up for success.

Check out our menus at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com