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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Dishing Up Discounts

The other day I had one of those moments.  You know…those times when you are becoming exactly like your mother, grandmother, father, etc.  We were out to eat and I said to my husband that I wished I could order off the “kids menu” because I wasn’t that hungry and it was cheaper.  It was like I had instantly become my grandmother.  The memories came flooding back.  How many times had I heard her ask a server if they had a “child’s plate” she could order?  I was always embarrassed and never quite understood her frugality.  Now as an adult I get it.  Especially for those who are in the age bracket who qualify for a senior discount…pinching pennies is important.  So, in memory of my grandmother (who we affectionately called Mama Clifford), here is a guide to some popular restaurants that feature savings for seniors.  These are only some of the eateries that offer discounts and with all promotions it may vary by location.  But save where you can and as Benjamin Franklin would say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

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Applebee’s Senior Discount: 10-15% off (varies by location) MAY require Golden Apple Card (60+)

Bonefish Grill Senior Discount: AARP members 10% off

Burger King Senior Discount: 10% off (60+) plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks

Captain D’s Seafood: “Happy Wednesday Offer” Choice of 8 meals + drink for $4.99 or less- varies by loc. (62+)

Chick-fil-A Senior Discounts: Chick-fil-A offers a free refillable senior drink, not including coffee. – Varies by location.

Chili’s Restaurants Senior Discounts: Chili’s offers a 10% senior discount (55+)

Denny’s: Senior discount varies by location, 15% off for AARP members

McDonald’s: Discounts on coffee everyday (55+)

Outback Steakhouse: 10% off AARP members for meals (alcohol excluded)

Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+) varies by location

Subway: 10% off (60+) varies by location

Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)

TCBY: 10% off (55+)

 

Shine a Purple Light

I will admit that until I began working in the senior living sector, I knew very little about Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.  It was not something I had seen on a personal or family level.  That has changed.  Now I know and care for people affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.  I understand that they are not all one in the same.  There are even different types of dementia.  I have come to know some of the devastating effects they take on lives.  Since June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, I thought I could help do my part by shining a purple light.

Did you know that according to the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Alzheimer’s is fatal. It kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
  • Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. It’s a progressive brain disease without any cure.
  • Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms.

Per the website alz.org, “A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.”

AlzheimersTable

During the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association asks you to learn more about Alzheimer’s. Share your story and take action.  It may be as simple as bringing awareness via social media.  Alzheimer’s disease awareness is represented by the color purple, and in June, thousands of Americans will turn their Facebook profile purple with an “END ALZ” icon.  If you need help or more information on ways you can raise awareness of the truth about Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/abam to get started.

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A True Merry Maker

For most centenarians, long life is a precious gift and not a burden. At 103 years old, Sue Clark remembers most everything from her life – names of old friends, growing up IMG_0676on a farm in Giles County, Tennessee, details of her husband’s transfer to Redstone Arsenal, receiving a teaching degree from Martin College, enjoying a good golf game, and memories of watching her students grow. The Limestone Manor resident and retired kindergarten teacher has remained happy and healthy by staying busy (and motivating others to join the fun). She recently celebrated her birthday on March 3 with neighbors, friends, family and the mayor!

IMG_0675 copyListening to Sue Clark share fun memories was fascinating. After moving to Athens, Mrs. Clark started a home kindergarten in 1963 that helped mold and shape many a student.  She created the foundation for students to use their imaginations and grow their intellect. With a twinkle in her eye, she talked about her 20 year career in teaching and the various activities she did to make learning fun.  Her stories included everything from building a playhouse in the backyard to train-rides, to “Hobo Hikes” and eating a sack lunch in an open field. It was obvious that she loved children and motivating them was her biggest reward. You could tell that Mrs. Clark was having fun too!

Another thing that she enjoyed was music and being involved in church. Mrs. Clark was part of a singing group, The Merry Makers.  After closing her kindergarten, she told a friend…”I have all of these band instruments left over from teaching, what can we do with them?”  They organized a group that performed around town. The Merry Makers and their entertainment is what originally brought her to Limestone Manor Assisted Living, where Mrs. Clark now resides.

IMG_0680Sue Clark first visited the senior community singing and spreading cheer to everyone.  As a resident, she now enjoys the varied activities and especially the music that Limestone Manor has to offer.  But truth be told she still loves to tell stories.  These she now shares with the other residents, staff, family, friends and many visitors at the Manor.  Her walls beautifully display a lifetime of memories.  But the true beauty of the trip down memory lane…comes straight from the source.

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Timeless Charm & Grace

According to a recent article by Good Housekeeping, living longer life may have something to do with Assisted Living Communities!  The article states, “Beyond inviting our older relatives and friends into our homes, it’s important to encourage elderly relationships — which is why, despite popular belief, older folks tend to thrive in independent or assisted living environments. These living arrangements provide more ways to mingle, to connect, to thrive.”

This holds true for Mrs. Carrie Miller.  Mrs. Miller celebrated her 103rd birthday this past December.  As we sat down to talk with her we learned a little bit about her Southern charm and grace.  Mrs. Miller is from Georgia and moved to the Gardens of Clanton in 2010.  She grew up with five siblings, one of which was her twin brother named Jay.  She has made a wonderful life and has been blessed with 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

A former homemaker, she enjoys going to parties and her favorite holiday is Christmas.  She is quite the fashionista and when she was ready to greet us, she showed us several of her outfit choices before selecting the perfect one that was one of “her” colors.  She looked quite lovely of course.  She has always been a social butterfly and when asked what makes her happy she said it was her children, family, friends AND…listening to the Chosen Two singers that share music at the Gardens of Clanton.  She loves life and hearing a message in song.  She shared that her favorite part about living at the Gardens is having wonderful help always there for her and having friends to talk to.  So blessed to have her charm and grace.  Grateful that her life has been enriched by her time at the Gardens of Clanton.

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Putting on the Brakes

I remember the day I drove by myself for one of the first times. I remember in vivid detail driving to my grandparents’ house that day in Shorterville, Alabama. To ensure I drove safely…my parents sent my little brother to tag along. I had another friend in tow and after the three of us enjoyed my grandmother’s fried chicken and fixin’s on a Sunday afternoon we were soon on our way. A couple things I would have done differently given that opportunity again today. One I would have stayed longer. As an adult now with my grandparents both passed away for over nearly 20 years, I realize the importance of slowing down. The other thing I would have done differently is listened to my granddaddy when he said to “drive safely” as I waved bye and honked the horn. Had I listened, I probably would have avoided the little fender bender I had on the way home. It only took one little scare and I was convinced safety had to come first when I got behind the wheel. Driving at any age seems to some like having the keys to independence. But in many cases just having those keys doesn’t mean we SHOULD drive. Having this discussion is difficult no matter if you are discussing it with your teenage child or your aging parents. Many adult children are faced with the role reversal task of talking to their elderly parent about whether it’s time to put the car in park.

So, when do you know when it’s becoming time to talk to your aging loved one about putting on the brakes? According to the AARP, here are some of the warning signs that indicate a person should begin to limit or stop driving.

1. Almost crashing, with frequentred-light-stop “close calls”

2. Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.

3. Getting lost, especially in familiar locations

4. Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings

5. Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals

 
pexels-photo-68624If you find these troubling issues are the case for your loved one and you don’t see any possibility for improvement, then it may be time to have the tough discussion about letting others do the driving. AARP also has a great resource in the “We Need to Talk” program, developed by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab that according to their site, “helps drivers and their loved ones to recognize warning signs. It also helps families initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safety.”

Age alone is not a predictor for poor driving skills. It is important to remember that medications, cognitive issues or physical limitations can impair driving ability. These factors must be considered for driver safety. Finally, if you drive with an aging parent or loved one and have concerns, don’t wait to initiate your concerns about whether it might be time to stop driving. Be an advocate for their safety and the safety of others. For more information on things to watch for if you have driving concerns see the Caring.com Checklist: 8 Ways to Assess Someone’s Driving. If you think they are a good candidate for assisted living please visit our website at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com. Our properties offer transportation to appointments and for other outings.

Call today to get more information 1-888-258-8082.

Shifting Gears to the New Year

After all the fun and festivities that the holidays bring, it is commonplace for most to begin thinking of making changes to begin a new year.  New Year Resolutions are a good thing for folks of all ages.  Making resolutions regardless of our age, creates a sense of purpose for all of us.  It helps us to focus on the things that are the most important.  Seniors can especially benefit from this if resolutions are made to prevent illness and injury. Making resolutions such as participating in a new physical activity, developing a new exercise routine, or eating better are all good goals for seniors.  But what is the best way to do this and succeed?

Write it Down

Writing down your resolution is only half the battle!  Chart it and not only seniorwriting-052313-vr-tifdocument your defeats, but celebrate your victories!  According to a study by the University of Scranton research shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  Writing it down puts it in black and white and gives a sense of accountability.  Trying to lose weight or exercise more?  Writing it down or having someone chart it for you will help you track your success.

Keep it Simple

Now most of us have heard of the KISS system.  You know, Keep It Simple Stupid!  Now while this may sound ridiculous, it is rather ingenious.  If you have a simple and small goal that you want to achieve….and you have written it down…well, then it is more likely to stick with you!  According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, “it’s more sensible to set simple small attainable goals, rather than a singular overwhelming goal”.  A resolution to lose weight is a bit more daunting than to just cut out soft drinks.  It’s less restrictive and much more clear cut.  So, pick something small to change and work on that.

Give Yourself a BreakSenior couple having fun in park

If you do have a slip up, don’t give up!  Remember that you are only human.  Have you been dieting and feel like you could eat your weight in chocolate??  Well…don’t do that and try to A-V-O-I-D feeling deprived.  Eat a small piece of chocolate.  Have a cheat day.  Are you trying to exercise more?  Start slowly.  Don’t feel like you must exercise every day if this is new to you.  Maybe your target is walking two or three times a week to start with.
Set yourself up for success and keep your goals realistic.

By taking small steps, making your goals clear and realistic you stand a better chance of making 2017 your best year yet.  You also want to check with your physician first before making any changes to your diet and exercise plan.  If you feel like Assisted Living is a goal for you or a loved one this year, reach out to us today.  Our staff is trained to help our residents with the activities of their daily life.  We would love to welcome you home to a Great Oaks Management Property in 2017.

Letters to Santa

Have you written your letter to Santa Claus?  What about the children in your life?  For my first blog post of December I was asked to share a special letter written by one of my sweet residents.  In it, she captures the essence of Christmas and offers a glimpse back into days gone by.  So grab a cup of hot cocoa and settle into an easy chair and enjoy this precious letter to Saint Nick!  This may just become another one of my holiday traditions.

Dear Santa,

Who are you? Why do you always show up at Christmas celebrations?  We don’t see much of you any other time.

As a child, I saw you as the maker of every kind of wonderful toy in the world.  Creations from baby dolls and teddy bears, to roller skates, scooters, bicycles and balls of every shape and size.

You kept a complete list on every child reminding you of our every deed, both good and bad.  Nothing could make me angry faster than those “smart aleck” kids who claimed you did not exist.

At our house we started a “wish list” early… teaching us not to expect instant gratification, which in some instances allowed us to change our minds!  When the winter nights were getting longer we found ourselves glancing out the window if we saw any movement or strange light.  We knew it was Santa watching us, making sure we were doing as we should.

We got many gifts, but there were always a few things we didn’t find in our stocking or under the tree. This made us wonder if it was because of something we had done wrong, or if you simply ran out before you got to our house.

It took years and a family of my own for me to realize who you really are and why you were created.

The cookies and milk which have kept you “rotund” all these years taught us to show appreciation to those who gave to us.  As children we set them out just before bedtime as our thank you for what we were expecting to receive.  Parents were able to help us develop our imaginations and enjoy “make believe”. They could show surprise and help us enjoy some of the new toys and games.

Most of us, through the little birthday parties we would attend, soon realized that we bring gifts so that other kids will bring gifts to our party, if we bring one to theirs.  That’s the way the big world works.

Jesus’s birthday is so much different.  Jesus’s birth taught us that it is more blessed to give than to receive!

In man’s way of trying to figure out how to accomplish this idea of giving, someone came up with a jolly, round fellow dressed in a red suit trimmed in white fur.  He has been given several names including St. Nicholas, Father Christmas and finally Santa Claus. This is the name we have given the “Christmas Spirit”.  It’s much more exciting than just calling it a gift from an unknown source.

WE all get the joy when we finally recognize who Santa is and God gets all the glory!  I like to think that the idea of Santa always giving gifts without the expectation of a gift in return…is in a small way the essence of Jesus.  Isn’t that why we celebrate Christmas…to give God the glory!  This is my point of view as a great-grandmother looking up from my rocking chair.

Thank you for sharing your love and our joy!

Marguerite Klages

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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.

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  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

 

 

If the Shoe Fits

As I continue my discussion about falls, I thought I might provide a little comic relief to share my most embarrassing fall.  Picture this.  It’s my little girl’s dance recital dress rehearsal.  Mamas, Grandmas, and some Dads are all up in arms trying to make sure they have their little Susie’s right shoes with the right costume and heaven knows we must have on ENOUGH makeup to be “stage appropriate” too.  Well amongst all this chaos we had a routine (or at least a performer) that was about to be cut because one of our senior level dancers was sick and was not able to partner with the junior performer for this cute little number.  Well as they say “the show must go on” and our ever improvising and quick thinking director called out from the curtain…” Is Heather Bradley in the building”?  SAY WHAT??  Oh dear woman, you do jest.  Nope, she was quite serious.  And within moments this child with big crocodile tears that was about to have to sit out was being twirled and tossed by yours truly.  So I fell on my face on the stage during the routine right?  No…wait for it.  We got through the routine and I was feeling pretty good for a washed up former tap dancer.  So as I slipped back into my wedges and started bounding down the stairs…it happened.  I fell down the steps with such graceless effort that I literally fell flat on my face.  Well, I fell on my hands to be more specific.  My friend Renee said I jumped back up so quickly though that I looked like a cartoon character.  So as I jump up to quickly assure everyone that I am truly okay, I make a discovery.  My shoe is broken, my watch is broken and I soon discover at the ER (where my friend Sam insisted I get checked out when she sees blood coming from my wrist) that my hand is also quite broken.  So when I speak to you about falls, trust me I am a professional.  It takes a pro to fall off a stage in front of an auditorium packed full of people.

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So the shoe.  Let me tell you it was the source of the fall.  So when I tell you that ill-fitting shoes can be a hazard, I know from first-hand experience.  Now granted most elderly adults are not bounding down the steps of a stage.  But if your shoes don’t fit properly you can be stepping off a curb or standing up for that matter and the shoes can become a fall hazard.  Another important thing to consider is foot care.  Many seniors don’t have the ability to trim their toenails anymore.  Throw in the fact that many are diabetic and this adds additional risk and you can see how toenails can wreak havoc and up the ante in the fight against falls.  Foot pain and poor footwear have been cited by the Center for Disease Control as one of the major contributing factors for falls in the elderly.  So be sure that you check your loved ones’ shoes and make sure that they fit well and are in good condition.  Also, check their toenails and see that they are trimmed regularly by someone that knows what they are doing and especially if they are diabetic.  Regular checkups are important, right?  It is equally important to get your feet checked out too!

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Be an advocate if Mom’s feet have been missed in the examination.  Most physicians include this in a comprehensive check.  But believe me, I have seen it be missed.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and make sure that foot health is a consideration.  While my middle aged broken hand healed up nicely after my fall, a fall for a senior can be much more devastating because as we age we become more frail.  Taking proper precautions can help your loved one from being one of the 2.8 million older Americans that is treated in the ER annually for falls.  So be smart and evaluate these issues and it will help everyone keep one foot safely in front of the other.