Senior Living Blog

A Vibrant Life Celebrated at Mountain Ridge Senior Living

 

Mountain Ridge Senior Living knows a thing or two about making life vibrant for its residents through its innovative Vibrant Life® program developed by ISL. The Vibrant Life program consists of four Signature Programs developed as a way to help ensure the community provides quality programming that contributes to the overall well-being and self-worth of its residents. One component of the program is “Livin’ the Dream” designed to take residents dreams and make them a reality. Well, the staff at Mountain Ridge did just this recently for one resident, Belle Willis.

Belle’s 94th birthday was on the horizon, and staff asked the bright presence and Marine veteran at the assisted living community what she wanted for her birthday.
“I said I wanted to drive the Mountain Ridge bus, never dreaming ever that there would be a chance,” Willis explained.
Cheryl Schmid, senior vibrant life director at Mountain Ridge started working on making her wish come true through their “Livin’ the Dream” program. Schmidt contacted the local high school for permission to use one of their parking lots as the driving course. The family was notified with more than a dozen showing up, and residents were bussed over to cheer Willis as she drove.
With a seatbelt secured over her bright red blouse, Willis adjusted her driving cap and reached to grip the gearshift lever, pulling it toward her. Willis hit the horn twice and let her foot off the brake letting out a loud “yahoo,” starting her first lap around the parking lot.
The Ogden Police Department even took part in the day presenting Belle with a certificate in recognition of “her completion of the Mountain Ridge Driving Course.”
After her drive, Belle sat in her wheelchair taking photos and visiting with family.
“This is all so wonderful, and the people there — they are just top notch,” Belle said of the Mountain Ridge staff.
As for any future plans of adventure, she isn’t so sure. “I wanted to live to be 100, but I don’t know,” Willis said with a grin, “If I keep pulling stunts like this, I won’t be able to make it.”

To learn and see more about Belle’s “Livin the Dream” check out the wonderful video at https://www.facebook.com/MountainRidgeAssistedLiving/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

ISL communities are assisting residents to live the Vibrant Life®! To learn more about Vibrant Life, contact any ISL community near you https://islllc.com/communities.

Reverting Back to the Past

Why do people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias retain older memories?

Caregivers and family members of adults with Alzheimer’s and other dementias notice their loved ones often talk about the distant past—and sometimes believe they’re still living in those times long ago.

People with dementia start to lose the ability to capture, retain, and retrieve recent memories—sometimes things that happened just a few moments ago. But longer-term memories, which are well encoded in a person’s brain, tend to remain strong longer than recent events. And memories of children, work, childhood, and other past events that are happy ones have likely been revisited often during the person’s life, so they’re more entrenched in the brain, and more easily recalled.

As the disease progresses, long-term memories will be affected as well, and the person will have greater difficulty accurately recalling things that happened a long time ago.

How should you respond?

Families and friends of those with dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones keep talking about times long in the past—especially when the older adult believes that those times are taking place right now.

Instead of correcting, criticizing, or arguing, families and caregivers might try to enter their older loved one’s reality, thereby building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. Known as “validation therapy,” many families and caregivers use this technique instinctively without knowing its name.

Another technique called “reminiscence therapy” can enliven mood, increase well-being, and promote pleasant behavior in adults with dementia as well as those around them. This technique emphasizes active discussion of past activities, events, and experiences—often with help of photographs, music, and familiar items.

Here are some tips for connecting with those with dementia when they’re “living in the past.”

  • Encourage reminiscing. People with dementia (like the rest of us) want to connect and talk. Sharing memories is a happy activity.
  • Try not to force the person to remember things that happened recently. Doing so often creates frustration and agitation—for both of you.
  • Try using a familiar object to prompt conversation: a favorite book, a souvenir from a vacation, a “vintage” item of clothing.
  • Consider making a photo album that tells the person’s life story. You can make it together and revisit it often. Perhaps keep adding recent photos.

How to Stay Hydrated During the Hot Summer Months Tips for helping seniors get enough fluids in warmer weather

Everyone need water for countless physical reasons- from keeping joins moving to protecting organs. In hot weather, our bodies lose water more rapidly than usual and seniors are especially at risk. Senior adults have risk factors, such as a reduced sense of thirst and decreased kidney function, that can hinder the body’s ability to cope with warm temperatures or low hydration.

If you know a senior who shows signs of confusion, dry mouth, slurred speech, and altered behavior, especially in hot weather, you might mistake these as normal symptoms of age. But these signs might indicate the health-threatening effects of dehydration.

Studies show that even a 2 percent reduction in body water weight (only 3 pounds on a 150-pound person) can impair short-term memory, attention span, and visual-motor tracking.

For good health and optimal cognitive function during the summer months, these tips can help your senior loved ones stay well hydrated.

All fluids help. All fluids contribute to hydration, not just plain water. Tea, coffee, juices, milk, and soups add fluids—but not alcohol, which is severely dehydrating. The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, says the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.

Get water from foods. Eat foods that naturally contain water. Research shows that only 70 to 80 percent of our daily hydration needs to come from water; 20 to 30 percent can come from foods. All whole fruits and vegetables contain water, but these contain the highest amounts:

  • 97% water: Cucumbers
  • 96% water: Celery
  • 95% water: Tomatoes, radishes
  • 93% water: Red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • 92% water: Cauliflower, watermelon
  • 91% water: Spinach, strawberries, broccoli
  • 90% water: Grapefruit

Infuse water with natural flavors. Add slices of lemons, limes, oranges, berries, or cucumbers to pitchers of fresh water, and then refrigerate. You’ll have a refreshing, flavorful, natural beverage with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.

Use a refillable water bottle. Avoid throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment. Of the 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans buy each year, 80 percent end up in landfills. Instead, buy a BPA-free refillable water bottle, and keep the bottle nearby so your senior is more likely to sip throughout the day. Also, using just one refillable bottle helps seniors keep track of daily fluid intake.

Remember to stay hydrated this summer!

A Vibrant Lifestyle in Stonecrest of Troy’s Generations Community

At Stonecrest of Troy Senior Living, the community aims to give its residents the best and most meaningful life through Vibrant Life®, an innovative program developed by ISL. Vibrant Life® uses recreational therapy, pet therapy, art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy and much more to restore, remediate and rehabilitate the quality of life of residents.

“We are connected with the local community and provide exciting outings to our Troy Community Center and Troy Historical Village. We also have a wonderful Wellness Program made possible by our very own Vibrant Life Director, Sue Wilkins who is also an avid yogi.  But we like to keep our residents connected with our staff and community as well, so we also have Church services, Coffee with a Cop, Chat with our Concierge, musical entertainment by local artists, and not to mention Music and Memory,” said Jessic Peyerk, Stonecrest of Troy Generations Vibrant Life Director.

Music and Memory is a music therapy program where residents in the community’s Generations memory care area have the opportunity to access their own personal playlists using iPod shuffles.  And the Crafting Corner in Generations is always a big hit.

“Just the other day, the residents made a banner for our Fathers Day BBQ made out of ties!” adds Jessica.

ISL’s Vibrant Life® program consists of seven core components that foster the overall well-being of residents.

  1. Be Inspired— Gain a deeper sense of spirituality & feed the soul!
  2. Be Well— Intellectual stimulation, get moving & stay active!
  3. Be Challenged— Ignite competitive spirit, learn, grow & motivate!
  4. Be Adventurous— Try something new every day, explore & experience the unique!
  5. Be Family— Cherish family connections, share & continue family traditions!
  6. Be Social— Embrace friendships, celebrate the moments, talk, laugh & listen!
  7. Be Connected— Engage in meaningful community involvement, share experiences & expertise!

The community, like all ISL communities have four Signature Programs to ensure residents experience a Vibrant Life®.

  1. PATH TO WELLNESS is a program that encompasses all aspects of wellness with tiers of achievement to encourage participation and provide the satisfaction of personal accomplishment.
  2. LIVIN’ THE DREAM is a program designed to take our residents dreams and make them a reality.
  3. THIS IS YOUR LIFE encourages social connectivity. Individual residents are showcased throughout the year to share their life stories and personal accomplishments.
  4. VIBRANT LIFE® INSPIRES promotes the ability to give back to the local community through charitable endeavors.

ISL communities are assisting residents to live the Vibrant Life®! To learn more about Vibrant Life, contact any ISL community near you

https://islllc.com/communities.

Who Says Summer is Just for Kids?

Summer can be the best season of all for seniors

The summer is a wonderful time for seniors to go outside, enjoy the fresh air and engage in events and activities, many of which bring back thoughts of favorite childhood memories. Now that the long, hot summer days are in full swing seniors should seize the moment. ISL communities celebrate summer with events and activities that take advantage of the season.

ISL suggests some ideas to make summer enjoyable for seniors

  • Pools, Lakes, and Oceans: If you are trying to plan for summer fun begin with a list of nearby watering holes where you can cool down.
  • Collecting Memories: Often times we only think of the holidays as a time to reminisce. But since so many memories come from summer, write down and share your summer memories with loved ones.
  • Museums: When you think of a cool indoor site you may not immediately think of a museum, but if there is one near you it’s worth checking out summer season specials.
  • Jams, Jellies and Preserves: Seniors were a part of a generation that didn’t allow summer’s bounty to slip through their fingers. Enjoy making jams, jellies, and preserves this summer, and think about teaching someone younger how to do it.
  • Family get-togethers outdoor style: The summertime is a good time to invite family over because you can use the outdoors as part of your entertaining space. Make it easy and ask everyone to bring a favorite dish.
  • Cold Drinks/Cool Cubes: It is especially important for seniors to drink plenty of liquids in the summer heat. Make ice cubes out of your favorite juices or coffee to add a real zip in your next cool drink.
  • Walks: With warm weather and extended daylight, take a walk in the early to mid morning or around dinnertime, avoid midday heat.
  • We all Scream for Ice Cream: Buy a box or two of your favorite ice cream at the grocer or head out for this all American cold treat, it is truly one of life’s pleasures. The all time favorite is still vanilla.
  • Light Reading: Visit the library and pick up a hearted book that fits the mood of the season- light and easy or full of old time summer nostalgia.

Father’s Day Activities for Senior Dads

Instead of buying a gift, accompany your dad on an outing

If your senior dad lives in a longtime residence or in a senior-living facility, he likely lacks the space—or the interest! —In accumulating more stuff. For this Father’s Day on Sunday, June 18, how about taking your dad on a “date” for a fun activity? Here are suggestions for places he might love to visit.

Drive him to visit a friend.

Especially if your dad doesn’t drive much anymore, he’d likely enjoy getting out of the house and being chauffeured to see an old friend, a sibling, or someone he’s fond of but hasn’t seen for a while. Consider bringing a basket of foods to snack on: fresh fruit, cut veggies, cheese, sparkling water—and, if appropriate, beer or wine.

Root for the home team.

If your dad’s a baseball fan, take him to a Major League game. Some cities have minor league teams that are fun to watch and the crowds are not as overwhelming. Or maybe a grandchild, nephew or niece, or neighborhood kid has a nearby Little League game. Enjoy the sunshine, the roar of the crowd, and the salted peanuts.

Head for the water.

Is there a nearby beach, lake, or river? Pack a picnic basket, spread out a blanket, set up portable beach chairs, and watch the sunrays dance on the water.

Visit a winery or microbrewery.

Dads who like an occasional taste of a hard beverage would probably appreciate a tour of a local winery or microbrewery. Many of these places serve lunch or offer snacks—along with free samples of their wares.

Fore!

If your dad’s in fine health and golf is his sport, treat him to a round on a local course. Depending on how good your game is, this excursion might be more fun for him than for you—but maybe he’ll let you zoom around in the golf cart.

June Is National Audiobook Month

Discover the benefits of audiobooks for seniors

Sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association in the month of June, National Audiobook Month promotes the pleasures of experiencing books through listening. Summertime, with its relaxed pace and longer days, is perfect for diving into good books, a lifelong diversion that seniors might reluctantly set side because of physical and cognitive challenges such as vision loss, arthritis, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. But through the use of audiobooks, many seniors continue the joy of “reading” a good book.

The experience of listening to gifted “voice actors” narrate a book can be captivating for readers of any age, and the format of audiobooks can be especially suited to older folks’ needs and lifestyles. Here’s why audiobooks can be an amazing resource for seniors.

Hands-free reading.

Seniors with vision impairment or other health-related issues that make traditional book reading difficult can enjoy the ease of putting on favorite headphones and getting immersed in a fascinating narrative. Small, portable electronic devices give seniors the option of listening while moving around living areas doing chores or stepping outside for a walk.

An uplifting distraction.

Getting lost in a good audiobook can be a diversion from pain, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and other conditions common to seniors. Bibliotherapy, which has long been used with traditional book reading but can be as effective with audiobooks, has been linked with positive cognitive, social, and psychological outcomes, including alleviating depression. Listening to audiobooks provides cognitive stimulation and a delightful way to “see the world” when other options are not as accessible.

The joys of being read to.

Listening to a book being read aloud is a calming, comforting, and engaging experience that most of us remember from our younger days, and its soothing effect endures throughout our lives. Often seniors relish the company of a relative or friend who sits nearby and reads aloud, but listening to an audiobook can replicate some of the benefits of connecting with the sound of a human voice.

Downloading books can be free.

Seniors on a fixed income can download audiobooks to electronic devices at no cost from the local library or from a variety of websites like Project Gutenberg. Google the term “free audiobooks” and you’ll find links to sites offering free downloads or streaming.

Here’s to picking up a good summer read today!

 

Veterans Benefits for Senior Living and Home Care Costs

Many families are unaware of financial aid for vets and families

Memorial Day is May 29, a special day for honoring Americans who served in the country’s armed forces, so this month is ideal for veterans and their families to research their eligibility for financial support.

The Veterans Aid and Attendance (VA&A) Pension provides benefits to veterans and their spouses to help pay for costs of care—both in-home care and senior housing. Unfortunately, many families are not aware of the benefit and miss out on key financial support to help pay for senior living and home care expenses. The benefit is anticipated to change in the coming year, which could affect the number of new families eligible, so families are encouraged to take action now to determine their eligibility.

Veterans benefits provide financial assistance to those who have served their country, as well as their spouses, during their retirement years. Veterans who are at least 65 years old and who served during war time (though not necessarily in combat) may be eligible for financial assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to help pay for care. Spouses and surviving spouses of wartime veterans are also often eligible. For many families, veterans benefits can make a significant difference for those struggling to pay for care.

Senior housing benefits from the VA

The VA provides nursing home care through different types of facilities:

  • The VA’s own nursing homes
  • Private nursing homes that contract with the VA to care for veterans
  • The VA’s Community Living Centers that provide short-term residential care and outpatient care
  • State Veteran Homes for vets not eligible for direct VA nursing home care

Community and home care benefits from the VA

The VA has long-term community and home care programs for vets who don’t qualify for nursing home care or who want to live at home but need regular assistance with activities of daily living.

  • Community Residential Care provides many of the types of care and services in assisted-living facilities. Veterans who don’t require nursing home care are provided with room and board, plus limited personal care and supervision.
  • Hospice/Palliative Care offers supportive services for veterans with end-of-life medical conditions.
  • Home health care enables long-term medical care in the veteran’s own home supervised by a treatment team.
  • Homemaker/home health aide services are provided by a home care agency.
  • Adult day health care that provides medical and rehabilitative services is available to veterans in a group setting during daytime hours at a VA or community facility.

How to get help applying for VA care benefits

Through a VA Vet Center (https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp), located in every state, you can get free assistance by phone or in person. Assistance is also available by contacting the Veterans Benefits Administration office (https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=3) nearest you. The VA also has a toll-free telephone help line at 1-800-827-1000.

 

New Website Helps Navigate Senior Housing

There is a new website called Where You Live Matters which is a great resource for individuals to learn more about the many aspects of seniors housing. It was created by ASHA (American Senior Housing Association), an organization that has helped seniors and their families navigate housing and lifestyle choices since 2001.

“We believe it’s very important to provide the public with information regarding seniors housing and options available. On this website, you’ll be able to read informative articles. We share resident and family stories and their experiences. And we’ll also provide you with data and research related to senior living options,” said David Schless, president of American Seniors Housing Association. “We’ve assembled leading experts in successful aging from across the United States who will share their professional insights with you. These are nationally known experts who work with families as they make decisions about lifestyles, including the possibilities about moving to a senior living community.”

Topics covered on the website include:

  • Choose well to live well.
  • Compare the lifestyle options.
  • Learn about life at a senior living community.
  • Form a plan to live well, longer.
  • Make a family decision.
  • Prepare and manage your finances.

The website helps you live well, live better and live where you maximize the possibilities. Whether you are a senior searching for answers or a caring family member eager to assist, you’ll find the site’s unbiased, research-based, thought-provoking resources will guide you toward smart, confident decisions.

Visit the site today at http://www.whereyoulivematters.org/

Simple and Creative Mother’s Day Gifts That Are Sure to Please

 After decades of choosing Mother’s Day gifts for your mother or grandmother, coming up with new ideas can be challenging. Whether your special senior is still active in the workforce or enjoying a well-deserved retirement, there are plenty of gift options for you to consider for this year’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 14.

Here is a list of suggestions that our ISL staff members know would be appreciated by moms in their senior years.

Gripper socks. A colorful assortment of warm and fuzzy socks with nonskid treads can keep Mom’s feet cozy while helping prevent slips and falls. These socks come in various heights, materials, and patterns—and there are even double-sided gripper socks with treads on the top and bottom so they’ll provide traction whichever end is up or if they get twisted.

Customized gift baskets. Buy a decorative basket and fill it with items you know she’ll love. Tuck in some fuzzy gripper socks (see above!), her favorite lotion and lip balm, scented soaps, an assortment of tea packets, a book of postage stamps, a flameless candle, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers … small, handy, pleasant items your mom or grandma will appreciate having nearby.

Over-the-ear headphones. Many seniors who didn’t grow up using modern earbuds find them confusing and annoying. For enjoying music or audiobooks, your mother or grandmother might prefer larger, padded listening devices that fit over the ears. There are many lightweight, comfy, and easy to use ear-covering headphones that come in a variety of colors.

Puzzles and coloring books. Nowadays you can find sophisticated, beautiful, and challenging tabletop activities like jigsaw puzzles and coloring books that are not childish and provide hours of amusement. There are choices for all levels of ability and and all sorts of interests: flowers and gardening, nature scenes, pets and animals, art and design. These activities are fun distractions for helpers of all ages when family and friends gather.

Gift cards. Practical, thoughtful gift cards or certificates allow your loved one to plan a visit to a favorite restaurant or department store, or indulge herself at a beauty salon or health spa. Consider a gift card to an online superstore like Amazon. Don’t forget that less glamorous (but necessary!) venues like gas stations, grocery stores, post offices, pharmacies, pet stores, and hardware stores also offer gift cards.