Senior Living Blog

Senior Citizens and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is a serious health crisis for our country, and senior citizens are not immune to what’s happening. Every day, more than 90 Americans die of an opioid overdose. This includes overdoses on illegal heroin as well as the abuse of prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl and others.

A recent analysis from Stanford University found that seniors covered by Medicare have “among the highest and most rapidly growing prevalence of opioid use disorder.” The report found that more than six out of every 1,000 Medicare patients are diagnosed with an opioid disorder, compared to one of every 1,000 patients covered by commercial insurance plans.

Unfortunately, abuse of opioids isn’t the only way seniors are contributing to the crisis. Many have become what is known as an “accidental drug dealer.” These are seniors whose prescribed medication is stolen or periodically taken from their homes. Sadly, many times this is done by friends and family members who have access to their medicine cabinets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of people who abuse opioids get them from a friend or relative.

So what can you do about it?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, getting immediate professional help is crucial to not falling victim to further abuse or even to an overdose. Treatment options that are available include:

In order to safeguard any prescription pain reliever you use from theft, we advise you to follow these rules:

  • Store your medications in a secure location like a home lock box.
  • Count your pills regularly so you’ll know if a pill is missing.
  • Never share your medications with anyone.
  • Dispose of unused medications.

There are many drop off locations around the country to securely get rid of unused or expired medications. Visit the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Controlled Substance Public Disposal locator to find the one nearest you.

Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month

Many people have hearts on their minds as they move into February. This month not only holds the holiday built to celebrate love, Valentine’s Day, but also marks American Heart Month, which is an excellent time to educate yourself on heart health.

Led by the American Heart Association, this federally designated awareness month sets out to remind people to focus on maintaining healthy hearts and to help raise heart disease awareness with their families, friends and communities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.3 million deaths each year. And that number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

Keeping a healthy heart is key to continuing to have a high quality of life as we age. Here are a few simple ways you can help prevent heart disease.

• Eat healthy
• Stay active
• Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
• Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
• Manage stress

We place special emphasis on getting nutritious meals and promoting an active lifestyle at our communities because we know how important it is to overall health, especially in regard to the cardiovascular system.

It’s also important to make regular visits to your doctor. Early diagnosis of any heart disease or irregularities can help save your life.

We wish you all a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day! Make sure you remember to wear red on Feb. 3 to celebrate National Wear Red Day as part of American Heart Month!

New Year’s Resolutions

With the arrival of a new year comes the opportunity to plan for the future and focus our energy on personal resolutions. Setting personal goals at the beginning of a new year is a wonderful way to inspire change in one’s life.

For seniors, it can be especially important to make resolutions that will provide a better quality of life both now and in the future. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Eat Healthy
    • The struggle for most people is making sure we make good food choices. Resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer fried and fatty foods. Go for fiber-rich foods like whole grain bread, brown rice and whole grain pasta. Choose healthy fats, such as olive and canola oils, and stay away from highly processed food. We developed our award-winning Dining by Design program to help ensure our residents have high-quality, freshly prepared meals each day.
  • Be Active
    • Staying active is critical for everyone, and especially as we age. Make a concerted effort to exercise daily. Going for a walk and participating in yoga or water aerobics are all great ways to stay limber, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your balance, posture and mood. Residents are offered fun daily activities to keep you living a vibrant life.
  • Routine Doctor Visits
    • Visiting your doctor regularly, not just when you get sick, is something everyone should do. Making sure any medications you’re taking are working properly, getting important screening tests for vision and hearing, and staying up-to-date on any immunizations are crucial to staying healthy. Our communities have highly trained staff to make sure you are receiving the proper medical care you need.
  • Check in More
    • Too often, seniors become isolated because of mobility issues. If you know someone who has trouble leaving their house, set dates to visit them throughout the year. Sometimes, just spending a few minutes with a friend or loved one can brighten their day.

We hope everyone makes at least one resolution for 2018 that will result in a positive change in their life. Happy New Year from all of us at Integral Senior Living!

What Makes an Excellent Senior Living Community?

Choosing a senior living community is one of your most important life decisions. Things like location, care services and range of amenities offered are all important details that should be taken seriously before making a decision.

Not all communities are created equal, and each is different in its own way. However, there are a few quality traits that can make a senior living community stand above the rest.

Personalized, Professional Care

A well-trained staff that treats each resident properly is perhaps the most important factor that separates a quality community from a lesser one. A professional staff that cares for the men and women living in their community creates a welcoming atmosphere that can lead to better health and higher quality of life for residents.

Safety

Safety is important when selecting a senior living community. Residents need to feel safe at all times. Are the proper doors always locked? Is someone on duty 24 hours a day? What is the protocol for an after-hours medical emergency? Questions like these matter for residents’ peace of mind.

Friends, Not Neighbors

Residents should feel that they are part of a community, not just sharing space with strangers. A quality community should feel like a club where people interact with one another daily, having fun and forming relationships. That’s why we offer our Vibrant Life® program, designed to optimize health and well-being by promoting a culture filled with joyful experiences, meaningful endeavors, and abundant opportunities to connect with family, friends and the local community.

Activity

Staying active is critical for seniors to keep their minds and bodies engaged. A quality community will have at least one fun activity each day of the week that will get its residents up and moving to stimulate both the mind and body. Communities should also have access to games, sports or other activities residents can enjoy at their leisure. Our Vibrant Life® program emphasizes an active and adventurous lifestyle for residents.

Nutritious, Good-Tasting Food

Communities that care about the food they serve and cook with quality ingredients will keep residents healthy and living the lifestyles they want. Our communities’ culinary directors are committed to providing superior dining experiences for our residents. We source local and regional ingredients when possible, offer varied menu selections and flexible dining schedules, and make meals an occasion to socialize. Dining at your community should feel and taste as though you’re at a quality restaurant.

We hope this list helps you when you start looking for a senior living community. Prepare a list of questions and concerns to address when taking tours. Take the time to explore the entire community, and talk to current residents about their experience. Last, ask if you can attend the community’s next member event.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Older People

The number of seniors with diabetes is growing, but there are ways to control the disease

More than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, reports The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 86 million are living with prediabetes, a condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

People get diabetes when their blood glucose level, sometimes called blood sugar, is too high. There are two main kinds of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body makes little or no insulin. Adults can develop this type of diabetes, but it occurs most often in children and young adults.

In type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin, but doesn’t use it efficiently. The most common kind of diabetes, type 2 occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults, but it can also affect children. Your risk for type 2 diabetes rises as you age, if you are overweight or inactive, or if you have a family history of diabetes.

Many people who have prediabetes may be unaware of their condition. Prediabetes means glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes although the onset can be prevented or delayed with weight loss, healthy eating, and being physically active.

Living with diabetes as you age

As people get older, their risk for type 2 diabetes increases, says the American Diabetes Association. In the United States, about 1 in 4 people over the age of 60 have diabetes.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor can help you choose the best treatment for you. Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels with diet and exercise alone. Others need diabetes medicines or insulin injections. Over time, some people may need both lifestyle changes and medication.

Tips for managing type 2 diabetes:

  • Track your glucose levels.Very high glucose levels or very low glucose levels (called hypoglycemia) can cause serious health risks. Your doctor can show you how to check your glucose levels at home.
  • Make healthy food choices.Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian to help you learn how different foods affect glucose levels. Focus on establishing and maintaining a healthy weight, and developing balanced, nutritious meal plans that will stabilize glucose levels.
  • Get regular exercise.Daily exercise can help improve glucose levels in older people with diabetes. Ask your doctor to help you plan an exercise program that’s right for you.
  • Take your diabetes medicines as prescribed.You might feel tempted to stop taking your medications if you feel well. But uncontrolled diabetes damages essential systems in your body, and can lead to higher risk for serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve damage, and neurological disorders such as dementia.

 

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock”

The Caregiver Action Network (http://caregiveraction.org/), the nation’s leading family caregiver organization that advocates for the more than 90 million Americans who care for disabled, sick, or elderly loved ones, cites these tips about family caregiving and this year’s theme.

 

  • Caregiving can be a 24-hours a day/7-days a week job. Caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs can be non-stop. Providing care around the clock can crowd out other important areas of life. And you never know when you will need to rush to the hospital or leave work at the drop of a hat. What challenges do family caregivers face, and how do they manage them day and night?
  • Morning:Getting off to work. The average family caregiver is a working mother of school-aged children. Mornings become a tricky balancing act of getting the kids ready for school, making sure your loved one has what they need for the day before getting yourself out the door for work.
  • All Day Long:Managing medications. Up to 70% of the time, the family caregiver – not the patient –manages the medications. The more serious the condition, the more likely it is that the family caregiver manages the medications for the patient. This means ensuring your loved one is taking their medication correctly and maintaining an up-to-date medication list.
  • During the Workday:Juggling caregiving and work. Six out of 10 family caregivers work full- or part-time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities at home. And most of them say they have to cut back on working hours, take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely.
  • Evening:Family time and meal time. Ensuring that you get proper nutrition will help you maintain strength, energy, stamina, and a positive attitude. Nutrition is as important for you as the caregiver as it for your loved one. Caregiving affects the whole family.
  • Late at Night:Taking time for yourself. Late at night might be the only time you get a few minutes for yourself. Make sure you take time to rest and recharge. The chance to take a breather and re-energize is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.
  • The Middle of the Night:Emergency room visits. Have you ever had to take your loved one to the emergency room in the middle of the night? Be prepared ahead of time with what you need to know and what you need to have with you.

During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the challenges family caregivers face when their loved ones need
Caregiving Around the Clock!

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Residents in a Senior Living Community

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday when families come together to celebrate life’s many blessings. When a loved one is in a senior living community, it can make gathering a little more difficult. Below are tips for celebrating Thanksgiving in a way that is enjoyable for the whole family.

  • Bring the holidays to those in senior living communities. If your family member in a senior living community isn’t able to come home for the holidays, then bring the festivities and family traditions to them! Decorate their residence with Thanksgiving garlands or gourds to enhance the holiday atmosphere. Make plans to join your loved one and establish new traditions. Most senior living communities offer Thanksgiving events.
  • Send a care package. If you live too far away to visit your loved one for Thanksgiving, put together a special package from the whole family. You can include letters, photos, flowers, homemade treats and anything else to remind them you are thinking about them. Make sure to give them a call or video chat on Thanksgiving.
  • Plan activities that anyone can enjoy. If you can bring your family member home for a visit, plan some holiday activities that entertain the whole family. Low-key activities, such as watching a football game or a movie, are an easy and fun way to gather the family together. Other suggestions for holiday fun include writing letters to friends, veterans or family members, completing a puzzle, listening to music, or doing a Thanksgiving-themed craft. Don’t feel that you need to plan every second of their visit. They will probably be happy to just relax and enjoy time with the family.
  • Adhere to dietary requirements. Thanksgiving is a fun time to indulge, but it is important that you prepare foods that take your loved one’s dietary restrictions into account.

Above all, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, regardless of what you do or where you celebrate. Your senior family member will be grateful to celebrate Thanksgiving with you, wherever you are!

 

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

November Is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

 

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million.  Get involved this month, and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Although Alzheimer’s affects approximately 1 in every 2 families in the U.S., and has been extensively covered in the media, there’s still quite a bit of information about Alzheimer’s that you might not be aware of.

 

Alzheimer’s and dementia basics 

  • Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

 

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  • Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).
  • Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
  • Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

UBER and LYFT Are Not Just for Millennials Anymore

Senior and driving, an age-old issue often wrought with fear and frustration is a constant concern for many seniors and those who love them. Giving up a car equates to a lack of freedom and mobility. But a new trend is occurring that is making this less an issue. It’s the increased usage of services such as Uber and Lyft, which is expanding into serving more and more seniors looking for a ride.

Believe it or not, but those well into their 70’s and older are embracing smartphone apps and with that the freedom that those much younger appreciate about ride sharing services.

While ISL communities offers transportation services, some residents want greater control and ability to decide when and where they want to go on their own schedule; that’s where services such as Uber and Lyft bridge the gap.  Seniors are using the apps to go grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, visit friends and attend events and go places they wish to see. And seniors appreciate that it makes them more independent and it’s often quite affordable. And for many it means they don’t have to rely on family, friends or the community’s transportation.

Besides convenience other benefits of using apps include:

  • Fare Estimation app: Alerting riders in advance the cost of each trip
  • Split Fare option: Here seniors can take advantage of lower fares if they choose to share the ride and cost with a friend.

Staff at ISL communities are finding themselves helping more and more residents set up the apps and are happy to do so. It’s fun to see the seniors embracing what to many is a great 21st-century service.

Going Online to Connect with Other Caregivers

Online caregiver groups provide support at your convenience

As a family caregiver, finding the time to do anything but providing 24/7 care and attention might seem impossible. But anyone managing the stress, demands, and isolation of the caregiving role needs support. Caregivers often hesitate to share their day-to-day ups and downs with friends, neighbors, or family members who may be willing to listen, but whose lives are on a different path.

In-person support groups offered at ISL communities, extend valuable face-to-face interaction, but attending meetings isn’t always feasible. Spending hours out of the house, and finding back-up care during that time, may seem unmanageable. And many caregivers don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings in an in-person group setting.

Online support groups, on the other hand, provide a convenient, flexible forum that caregivers can pop in and out of whenever they have spare moments—and they can participate wherever they have access to a computer, smart phone, or tablet.

It’s a good idea to check out a few online support groups by browsing the topics and reading the posts. You may be required to register to participate, but you’re not required to post anything until you’re ready—if at all. Sometimes just reading other people’s stories can give you a needed boost and help you feel less alone.

Googling “online caregiver groups” will turn up plenty of options, but here are a few good places to start:

The Family Caregiver Alliance offers a variety of online support groups (https://www.caregiver.org/support-groups) for caregivers of adults with different types of disorders and chronic health problems.

Caring.com sponsors groups for caregivers (https://www.caring.com/support-groups) for caregiving tips, advice, and support from others who understand what you’re going through.

CareGiving.com hosts more than 50 online groups (https://www.caregiving.com/groups/) for different caregiving issues and situations.

Alzheimer’s Association offers ALZConnected, is free online community for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s or another dementia, including caregivers, for which they provide a caregivers forum (https://www.alzconnected.org/).

AARP offers an online caregiving community (http://community.aarp.org/t5/Caregiving/bd-p/bf41?intcmp=AE-HF-IL-COMM-CG) that connects caregivers with others who have similar interests, experiences, and needs.