Making the Move-Somewhere Over the Rainbow

You have had the tough conversations.  Everyone is on board.  You have found the ideal community and they have a spot that is perfect for your loved one.  Your aging parent has been evaluated and deemed appropriate for assisted living.  So with the completed required physician paperwork in hand you are headed down the yellow brick road to assisted living happiness!  But wait…what exactly DO you DO now?  Daddy HAS to have his favorite chair and Mama isn’t going ANYWHERE without her beloved bedroom furniture.  Sound familiar??  I’ve had multiple residents say the transition was so much easier when their new apartment felt like home because they were able to bring significant pieces from that home with them.  So don’t fret…with courage, heart and the knowledge that you need, you can click your heels together and help your family member get comfortable in their place.

Based on the floor-plan that you choose, you can help them decide what furniture will fit best in their room.  On all of our property webpages and the Great Oaks Management website, you can find the dimensions and layouts for the rooms.  This can help you visualize how you want to set up the area.  As each resident is unique in their personality-their room can and should reflect their style and taste.  Does Dad like having his cup of coffee while sitting in his recliner watching the evening news?  Try taking photos of the current setup for your loved one and trying to match the arrangement as best as possible to set them up for success.

You also want the room to be familiar but also functional.  Reducing clutter and being mindful of any transfer devices such as walkers or wheelchairs is a key component.  Now you don’t want to be considered the “Wicked Witch of the West”!  So don’t get stressed about HOW to start the process.  We have a helpful list below of What To Bring to get you started.


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Laughter is Important

No matter your age, language, physical, or mental capabilities one thing is certain:  Laughter transcends all barriers.  It is universally shared among everyone.  If someone is laughing, it is understood that something must be funny to the person laughing and we all want in on the fun!  Even the most uptight people chuckle every now and then.  But laughter does more than provide an escape for the moment; it also has health benefits as well.

What Happens When I Laugh?

There are a number of positve responses that are triggered by laughter:

  • Your entire body relaxes, which relieves muscle tension and stress
  • Cortisol (stress horomone) levels drop, minimizing pain and inflammation throughout the entire body.
  • Endorphins are released.  Endorphins are a natural substances that makes you feel happy and content.  They have also been proven to reduce the perception of physical pain.
  • Blood Pressure levels are reduced and heart rate, blood circulation, and oxygen intake are all increased.
  • Laughter releases T-Cells and salivary immunoglobin A which both stimulate the immune system.
  • Improves overall sense of well-being
  • Stimulates both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • It reduces psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows for the retention of more information.

So rememember to smile today!  Make someone laugh or find some time in the day to seek out something that makes you chuckle.  It does not matter how old you are, you are never too old to laugh!  So go look for humor everyday and find something to laugh about. Remember, it’s good for you!

More Information:

 The Connection between Laughter, Humor, and Good Health.

Bob Hope Jokes and Humor

Everyday Wisdom

Why Flu Vaccines Matter for Seniors


Flu Basics

Influenza, commonly know as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses.  Common symptoms include: chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headaches, couging, weakness/fatigue, and general discomfort.  Though it is often confused with the common cold, influenza is actually a severe disease.

How Does It Spread?

Influenza is usually transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols carrying the virus.  People that have the flu can spread it to others as far as 6 feet away.  People who have the flu become contagious 1 day before symptoms start to show and can be contagious up to 7 days after becoming sick.  Symptoms begin 1 to 4 days after infection.  That means that you can pass the flu to someone else before you know you are evens sick.  

Seniors and the Flu

People 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu.  It is estimated that 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and between 50%-60% of flu-related hospitalizations in the US happen to people 65 years and older.  This is due to a drop in immune defenses that come with age.

Actions to Take

The best action is to get a flu vaccination.  It is extrememly important for people 65 years and older due to a higher risk for complications from influenza.  There are two flu shots available- a regular dose and new vaccine that contains a higher dose, designed with seniors in mind.  Studies have indicated that the higher dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors.

Other actions include practicing good health habits which include: covering coughs, washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick.  If you develop flu symptoms, please seek medical advice quickly to determine whether treatment is needed.

For more information on Influenza, click here.

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Preventing Poor Nutrition

Eating well is important no matter the age, but it can become increasingly difficult for seniors to get the proper nutrition their bodies need as they age. Health issues and physical limitations play a role in the rising problem of malnutrition in our seniors.  Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15% to 50% of the elderly population.

Let’s look at the causes of poor nutrition:

  • Decrease in Sensitivity – Senses such as taste and smell can decline with age.  Meals that are not appetizing is less likely to be eaten.
  • Medication Side Effects – Side effects of some medications include reduced appetite, nausea, or simply throwing off taste buds.
  • Poor Dental Health – Dentures that do not fit properly, jaw pain, mouth sores, missing teeth, or other dental problems can make eating difficult or painful.
  • Financial Burden – Sometimes finances play a role.  Groceries can get expensive, making the cheaper, less nutritious options seem like the better solution.
  • Forgetfulness – Dementia, poor memory, or alzheimer’s can cause seniors to get off schedule, eat the same foods over and over, or even forget the last time they have eaten.
  • Depression – Life can get harder as you age.  Loved ones might be far away or simply do not visit as often, bodies start to fail; loneliness takes hold.  Depression can decrease appetites or simply cause one not to care.

Ensuring Proper Nutrition:

  • Offer Better Food Options – There are plenty of nutritionally-dense foods such as peanut butter, seeds, nuts, olive oil, brown rice, whole wheat bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, benas, legumes, meat, and dairy products.
  • Aromas and Flavors – Appeal to the senses.  Intensify flavors and aromas with marinades, herbs, and seasonings.
  • Make it Fun – Make mealtimes a social event.  Maybe make dinner a family event or invite friends over.
  • Healthy Snacking – Small snacks throughout the day also help.  Snacks like nuts, seeds, cheese, and cereals are a great choice.
  • Take Care of the Teeth – Proper oral health enhances nutrition and appetites.  If their teeth or jaw is hurting, get it looked at by a dentist or proper physician.
  • Set Reminders – Sticky notes, calendars, alarms… Anything to help set a routine.

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Preventing Falls

Each year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls and 2 million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries.  With each decade of life, the risk of falling increases.  Hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, some of the long term consequences of falls, can impact independence and health.  Today, let’s talk about how to prevent falls and protect our seniors.


Tips to Prevent Falls:

  • Exercise –  Weak legs due to a lack of exercise increases chances.  Tai Chi and other such programs strengthen legs muscles and improves balance.
  • Wary of Medicines – Dizziness or Drowsiness can be a side effect of some medicines or combinations of medicines.  
  • Sharp Vision – Routine eye exams and up to date prescriptions for glasses and contacts ensure that seniors are seeing clearly.
  • Remove Hazards at Home – Fifty percent of all falls happen at home.  Identifying potential fall hazards and either removing them or changing them can prevent falls.


Home Safety Steps:

  • Remove items that might be tripping hazards from pathways and stairs.
  • Install Handrails and lights on all staircases
  • Apply double sided tape on the underside of small rugs 
  • Items that are used daily should be kept within reach without the aid of a step-stool.
  •  Puthand-bars in tubs and showers and next to toilets
  • Non-slip mats in showers and tubs
  • Always ensure home is well lit inside and out.
  • Wear shoes at all times when moving about.

For more information, visit  For other tips like these, be sure to visit

Mild Cognitive Impairment

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Mild Cognitive Impairment is the intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.   Research has found that 10% to15% of all adults over the age of 65 have Mild Cognitive Impairment.  Of this percentage, 50% will progress to develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.

Symptoms of MCI

The primary sympton of Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, is memory loss.  Individuals with MCI DO NOT have problems with performing activities associated with daily living, their thinking is clear and normal, they are not depressed, and their “mini-mental” exam score is 23 or higher.   Other symptoms include: asking the same questions over and over, getting lost when driving or walking, forgetting important dates or events, difficulty switching from one topic or tasks to another, and problems multi-tasking.

Cause of MCI

Several medical problems increase the risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment.

  • Hypertension
  • Diabeties
  • High Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Head Trauma or Head Injury

Treatment of MCI

If a medical problem is causing MCI, especially Vitamin B12 deficiency or thyroid problems, resolution of the medical problem will likely improve the mild cognitive impairment.  There is no specific medication that treats MCI.  Other strategies include exercise, educational activities, social activities, and a healthy diet.

Tools and Strategies
  • Carrying a calendar with you to keep up with appointments
  • Daily lists to serve as reminders
  • Social interactions and supports help improve functioning
  • Family/Caregiver support to organize medications and go to medical or other important appointments
  • If symptoms begin to affect activities of daily living, follow up with your physician

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Protecting Your Senior’s Independence

Seniors value their independence more than any other generation.  They come from a generation that did not rely on anything but their own hard work and responsibility to make their living.  At Great Oaks Management, we feel that it is our duty to protect that independence.  Please take a moment of your time to share these ideas with your friends and loved ones who may experience some of these issues.

There are four common threats to a Senior’s Independence:

  • Poor Nutrition
  • Weight Loss
  • Medication Non-Compliance
  • Falls

All of these risk factors can lead to serious injuries and can even be fatal.

So What Can You Do To Help?

  • Make sure your senior eats three balanced meals every day and that their weight is checked at least once monthly.
  • Eliminate medications that are not specifically prescribed by a Primary Care Physician.  
  • Make sure your senior takes their medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Make sure pathways are clear at all times and assistive devices, such as walkers, are being used consistently and correctly.

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