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

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Pet Perks

GOC Pet Therapy01.jpgI 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.

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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:

  1. The pet owner provides verification of current vaccinations.
  2. The pet is clean, properly groomed and healthy.
  3. The pet’s owner is responsible for the pet’s behavior and maintains control of the pet at all times.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Common household pets (including dogs, cats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters) may reside in the facility, upon approval of the Administrator.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. Pets may be fed only in the resident’s room.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!

 

Pic 1 - Lula Mae Ott.jpgThere 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!

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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The Not So Young and Stress Less

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.

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.

caregiver-timeout

 

Use it or Lose It

While strumming his guitar my Dad once told me that when it came to singing or playing an instrument that you must use it or lose it.  That’s crazy I thought.  I mean if you have an ability, you have an ability… right?  WRONG!  Try singing after not having done it in a few years and you might be shocked at the quality or tone that you produce.  It’s not pretty, trust me.  Just in the way that you must utilize a talent to keep it going, you also must work your brain to keep it healthy.

According to John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young, “simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next,”In addition to word games, there are other brain stimulating activities.

working-puzzle

  1. Socialization to improve the brain situation!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, studies show that seniors who regularly participate in social interactions can retain their brain health. So keep connected with others. For those friends and family that live far away, correspondence by e-mail or social media or even writing letters can keep you connected.  Don’t stay holed up in your house alone.  This is not healthy for you on multiple levels including your brain.
  2. Keep Moving!  A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among seniors, “moderate physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of cognitive impairment after 2 years.” Simply taking a walk or doing chair exercise is a great way to get that heart pumping and keep the blood flowing to the brain.
  3. Lay Your Cards on the Table  Playing games with others is another way to maintain and increase brain health. Regularly playing board or card games, or engaging in other intellectually stimulating games with others helps keep your mind active.

The vitality of your brain is the superhighway to your overall health.  There are also many brain healthy foods that physicians recommend.  Check out the following list from healthable.org for a list of Foods to Keep Your Brain Fit!

brain-foods

For information on one of our properties visit http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

The Heart of the Matter

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?

  • heart-stethThe 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

aha-senior

 

Social Seniors

reillyI can still see her face and hear her laugh.  She was the first social director I knew at an assisted living.   Was she on the staff?  Oh no!  She was a sharp dressed lady named Geraldine with an even sharper wit.  Affectionately known to her family as “Gigi” she was one of the first ladies who taught me that residents in an assisted living have lots of living left to do. Ms. Geraldine would keep me apprised as to the latest “goings on” with the royals.  Gigi loved Will and Kate and a good game of Skip Bo.  She and the other ladies that made up her Skip Bo group were the first group I affectionately referred to as my sorority rush committee.  Ms. Geraldine would be the first to tell you…life in assisted living is not about bingo and bedtime.  It is much more and can be so fulfilling.  She spent her golden years of life loving her family and her friends and living each day to its fullest.  So, if you are looking at assisted living for yourself or a loved one…what are the benefits of the social aspects?

Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found evidence that “elderly people in the U.S. who have an active social life may have a slower rate of memory decline. In fact, memory decline among the most sociable was less than half the rate among the least sociable.  Senior author Lisa Berkman, chair of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, went on to say, “We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well-being.”

Studies show that lack of socialization is linked to negative impacts on health and well-being, especially for older people. Having a variety of social opportunities and activities vastly improve the psychological and physical health of seniors. The benefits include reducing stress, increasing physical health, and defeating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

Senior couple having fun in parkAssisted living promotes socialization with everything from a robust activities calendar to dining together in a community setting.  Engaging in activities and other community events allows seniors to bond with new friends while promoting physical and mental health. This can prolong their quality of life and overall life expectancy.  Does this sounds like something that would benefit your elderly loved one and you want to know more?  Check out our latest Activities Calendar to see what is going on at one of our communities near you at www.greatoaksmanagement.com or call us today at 1-888-258-8082.

*In memory of former resident Geraldine Reilly.

Thank you to her family for allowing us to share this in her memory.

Insider Information

Not too long ago, I had lunch with a friend of mine that also happened to be a sponsor of one of my residents.  She is also my neighbor, but I digress.  As we sipped sweet tea, I asked her what was one thing that she wished she knew more about before she moved her Dad into assisted living.  Here are a couple useful tips regarding doctor visits that she suggested that will make life easier if you are considering or have made the transition to an assisted living community.

Prep Doctor Visit Steps

Not only do assisted living communities offer scheduling and transportation to appointments for our residents…but we also provide useful tools for communication.   We all know that for every physician on the planet they all typically want us to bring our list of meds with us.  But here are some things that our staff will provide if you (or if we) are taking your family member to the doctor:

Pills

  • A current list of medication for all residents for doctor’s appointments (typically we can make a copy of their medication record from that day that ensures they have the most current info available)
  • Physician Communication Form (this form is an excellent tool where the doctor can detail their findings and diagnosis information as well as prescriptions or requests for follow-ups etc.  This helps provide a written outline of the doctor visit so that the sponsor and resident can communicate fully the needs the resident may require.  This form is typically stapled to the copy of the resident’s medication record and given to the sponsor/staff that will be going with the resident prior to the appointment.  Upon return to the community following the appointment, the sponsor can just give this to the Administrator or designee.  If a staff member took the resident to the appointment, they will then call the sponsor to provide the details from the appointment.  This is another reason that this tool is so useful.)

We also can help assist by providing documented weights and other health information that a physician may request.  Health information is protected per HIPPA guidelines.

older-man-dr-visit-daughter

Hopefully this prep will help make doctor visits less daunting.  As my friend explained, “when you have been the sole caregiver for an aging parent or loved one, you know them probably better than anyone.  But by allowing the staff at the assisted living to join forces with the resident, the sponsor and the physician…we become a team”.  This is an excellent analogy!  This TEAM is always looking out for the resident.  And the vital key is communication.  Another important thing that you need to know is that the medications should be in unit dose packaging if they will require staff assistance.  So just running a prescription to the pharmacy and picking up a bottle is NOT the way to go.  The ADPH rules and regulations are in place to protect.  So be sure to get the prescription to the administrator or contact them if you have any questions.  This will ensure that you or the staff have them filled properly and that the staff have the proper documentation for the resident chart.  Following these simple suggestions can make life easier for you, the staff at the assisted living and most importantly the resident.

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.

Banning Blue Christmas

So, what kind of person are you?  Are you the Grinch at Christmas or are you more like Buddy the Elf?  Hopefully you are somewhere in between.  The holidays are not all lights, baking and singing Christmas carols for everyone.  This especially holds true for some seniors.  The songs that stir the hearts of many during the season can evoke feelings of sadness for others.  But the best thing to do is not to allow the blues to get the best of you during the holidays or anytime for that matter.  Here are some tips to help you or a loved one cope and avoid a “blue” Christmas.

senior-holiday

  • Stay Active! Exercise is not only good for the heart it is also excellent for the mind.  By doing reasonable exercise based on your doctor’s recommendations and your ability, you can keep the blood pumping.  It also improves our metabolic rate and increases the production of endorphins which are those natural mood lifters in the brain.
  • Makeover your Mood! Studies show that the simple act of getting a haircut or even a hot shave makes you feel better!  Don’t discount the benefits of a nice pedicure too.  Feeling better about yourself will help make your spirits improve.
  • Eat Better! Now while the holidays offer many opportunities for sweet treats that we may only have once a year, it’s best not to indulge.  While these goodies typically show their havoc on waistlines, they have also been proven to derail our moods and cause depression as well.  So, don’t wait until the New Year to practice better eating.  Everything in moderation and stick to a well-balanced diet.

family-help-bluesThe U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change.  They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”  So, this is not something to minimize.  If you feel that your loved one may need more professional help.  Don’t delay and don’t minimize the situation.  Reach out and show love.  If they are living alone, consider a move to assisted living or to a situation that will help stimulate them socially.  Be sure to keep them engaged.  Remember the way we feel mentally has a huge impact on our health physically.

For more information and a guide to overcoming holiday depression for the elderly check out the link below for article published by the American Medical Resource Institute.    www.aclsonline.us/artcles/the-guide-to-overcoming-holiday-depression-for-the-elderly-and-their-caretakers/

For more information on Assisted Living at Great Oaks Management Properties visit:

http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

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