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!
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
For more information on one of our assisted living communities visit our website:
I will never forget my first pet. Well…let me rephrase that. I will never forget the first pet that I picked out that we had long term. I grew up on a farm so there were many farm cats and other animals. But my first true furry companion was a dog named Rusty. To be perfectly honest I can’t remember where Rusty came from. We got him when I was in middle school and he stayed in the family until I graduated from the University of Alabama and he passed away. Rusty was a source of comfort for many a sickness, sadness and just an all-around “good dog.” Now that I am all grown up and work with the elderly I see more now than ever the benefits of pet ownership. And yes…you can have a pet in assisted living.
Great Oaks Management’s Policy states that “The goal of each facility is to allow residents to benefit from the pleasure of pet companionship, while ensuring that the presence of pets in the facility does not infringe on the rights of all residents to live in a clean, quiet and safe environment.
Great Oaks Management Procedure:Pets may visit the Residence if the following conditions are met:
- The pet owner provides verification of current vaccinations.
- The pet is clean, properly groomed and healthy.
- The pet’s owner is responsible for the pet’s behavior and maintains control of the pet at all times.
- All pets residing in the facility must provide verification of current vaccinations, and must update the vaccination record annually. Dogs may not exceed 25 lbs in weight. A non-refundable pet deposit will be required prior to a pet moving into a facility.
- All resident pets must reside in the resident’s room. Pets will be allowed in the common areas of the Residence only when under the control of the owner or handler. Resident pets are not allowed in the dining room at any time. Residents who wish to keep pets in their rooms may do so provided they abide by the policies of the facility.
- Common household pets (including dogs, cats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters) may reside in the facility, upon approval of the Administrator.
- The resident is responsible for providing care to the pet and the following:
- Purchasing food and other needed pet supplies
- Feeding, grooming and/or cleaning up after the pet
- Providing for toileting (e.g., emptying the litter box, taking the pet outside at regular times, etc.)
- Arranging for/providing access to needed veterinary services
- Exercising the pet as appropriate
- Pets must not be allowed to toilet on the floor (all dogs shall be toileted in an outside area). Litter from litter boxes or cages must be disposed of in a sealed plastic bag and placed promptly in a trash container. Pet waste and/or litter may not be disposed of in toilets.
- Pets may be fed only in the resident’s room.
- Pets shall not be allowed to interfere with an enjoyable living environment for all residents by barking, howling, biting, scratching, and/or whining. The facility shall ensure that pets pose no risk to residents, staff or visitors.
- If the conduct or condition of a resident’s pet constitutes a nuisance or a threat to the health and safety of other residents, staff, and/or other individuals, the resident will be responsible for permanently removing the pet from the premises. The final decision about a pet residing in a facility rests with the Administrator.
So, if your old school like my Granddaddy was and don’t want to even fathom the thought of an animal in the house then never fear…the policy protects you too!
There truly are so many benefits to pet ownership. For example:
Having a “fur baby” can:
- Lower blood pressure
- Relieve stress
- Combat loneliness
- Ease depression
- Encourage activity for seniors
- Offer a greater sense of worth
- Offer security to their owners
So check out the pet perks and what they could mean for you or your loved one today!
Spring has sprung and one of the most therapeutic things for me is getting out and tending to flowers in the yard. Sadly, this only comes in small doses because my hectic schedule leads to the demise of many of my plants. I love to tell the story of how my Mom came for an extended stay and made it her business to water my neglected yard. She started spraying the plants on my front porch as I stood watching barefoot in the parched grass. “See how I’m reviving the porch plants? You must water them!” I nodded in approval, barely having the heart to tell her that she was doing an excellent job of knocking the dust off those fake plants. But given the chance, I love to plant, prune and water with the best of them. Being that many of our facilities have the name “The Gardens” in them it only makes sense that we have flowers and other plants on the grounds of our communities. Through the years I have learned valuable advice from many of my resident gardeners. Here are a couple invaluable tips I have discovered over the years.
Knock back the Knock Out Roses
One of my former residents, Mrs. Betty, had a lovely rose garden placed in her memory in front of our community by her family. After the garden had been there a little over a year, I was instructed by one of our sweet lady residents to cut the bushes back if I wanted them to grow. Cut it back?? But why?? It had some blooms. She explained that the blooms had become scarce and that the bush would be more full with blooms and leaves if I cut it back. So, paired with some thick leather gloves and long clippers I got to work. In no time at all the roses were prettier than they had ever been. Mrs. Betty would be so proud!
Pile Up the Pallets
In several of our other communities we have had fabulous gardens built up high so that residents do not have to stoop over to tend to them. These pallet gardens are a wonderful way to let residents get their hands dirty and show their skills. I love to get tips on when and how to grow vegetables in these gardens. One of the best tricks that a resident in Daphne once told me was to always check your Farmer’s Almanac on when and how to grow seeds or plants in the garden. Now you can access the Farmer’s Almanac online and it will allow you to pull up your location in Alabama and get tips specific to your region.
So, for some of the best therapy around, get down and dirty in the soil. Plant some pretty flowers or vegetables like our residents. It is a wonderful way to get cheap therapy and bloom where you are planted.
As children, many of us feel that we could live forever. In this day and age, thanks to modern medicine and other interventions, many are living to be 100 years old and older! The thought of living to be Centenarian intrigues me. But after a recent interview with Gardens of Wetumpka resident Mrs. Bennie McDonald, I was more than intrigued…I was inspired.
When Mrs. Bennie moved to the Gardens of Wetumpka, she very easily could have propped up her feet in an easy chair and rested on all of her many accomplishments. She had been a loving wife and mother and spent a very fulfilling career in education. She has painted a beautiful life all without the stroke of a brush….that is until she attended an art class at the Gardens of Wetumpka. You see, Mrs. Bennie hasn’t just been biding her time in the assisted living. She has been living life to the fullest. Mrs. Bennie began painting as a result of this activity at the assisted living. Today her artwork graces the halls of the building and is actually in high demand. She has even sold many of her paintings. With a careful hand and an artist’s eye she paints many beautiful pieces on her canvases. When asked what she thinks is the key to living a long life she explained that the Lord has carried her through many trials in life and that she wouldn’t be anywhere without Him.
She also explained that besides her artwork, the thing that makes her smile the most is her “wonderful children and the memories of her husband.” She expressed her delight that many former students have told her that she was a good influence on them. She continues to be an encourager as she has always been an avid gardener and now she has passed along her green thumb to one of her neighbors at the Gardens of Wetumpka. So amazing to think you may find a new talent in your life in your golden years. Mrs. Bennie is an inspiration for all of us to live each day fully, never stop learning and paint a beautiful life. Mrs. Bennie celebrated her 100th birthday on October 23rd.
I think that the hardest part of being a caregiver is dealing with the guilt. There is never enough time in the day. You bought the wrong kind of soap, stamps or razors or whatever it is…you just can’t catch a break. I think that life in general can sometimes be structured to wear us down. We think we are so smart being so connected and so able to communicate and work and multi-task. Sometimes we just need to stop, push back and say…no. I am the world’s WORST at this. I don’t want to let anyone down. In my mind…my goal is to help everyone. But if I (or you) don’t take time to rest then how can we be good for anyone? So here are some tips to de-program and reduce caregiver stress.
- Ask for help. You know the help you have been providing. But write down what that help entails. No one person can do it alone. It may even be time to consider the move to an assisted living. Asking for help doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you are not going to be part of the team. It just means you care enough to reach out.
- Realize your limitations. It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Sometimes our mindset that “only we can provide the help” is actually damaging for our loved ones. You may be thinking that you are helping someone by enabling them to stay alone…when in actuality they may do better in a community setting and your “help” may be depriving them of a better situation. Meanwhile it may also be running you ragged!
- Take time for you. If you think that only taking your loved ones to their doctor visits and cancelling your checkups is going to serve you well…think again. You need time to recharge your batteries and make sure that you are healthy both mentally and physically. Many caregivers suffer serious health issues while taking care of others. Be sure to take care of you!
- Talk it out. Phone a friend.. Have dinner with your spouse or seek the counsel of a peer going through the same situation. You can even find support groups for caregivers. Your stress is not in your head! Not to mention that it is not good to keep it all inside. Having a friendly chat can prove therapeutic and can also be a way to give and get advice for those sharing similar experiences.
For most, knowledge is power. If you know the risks you should be able to avoid the consequences. That is the exact premise behind February being designated National Heart Month. American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends, and communities involved.
Did you know according to the American Heart Association?
- The first American Heart Month, which took place in February 1964, was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson via Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963.
- The Congress, by joint resolution on that date, has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.
- At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.
- While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.3 million deaths each year.
- That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
The Center for Disease Control reports that even though heart disease is still the leading cause of death for Americans, the rate of seniors hospitalized because of heart disease has decreased almost 50%, which indicates that nationwide education and prevention efforts are paying dividends. Assisted living communities are a great asset for those looking to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes. Some of the benefits include:
- Menus approved by dieticians
- Exercise programs to keep you moving
- Blood Pressure Monitoring and Medication Management
Below is the graphic put out to encourage seniors to stay active for heart health. For more information check out the link to the American Heart Association. For more information about our communities check out: http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com