Senior Living Blog

Fall Prevention Awareness Week: September 22–29

This year’s theme is “Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016” 

Among adults over age 65, falls are the leading cause of death from injury, nonfatal injuries from accidents, and hospital admissions for trauma. To bring attention to this critical health and safety issue, the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence sponsors Fall Prevention Awareness Week during the first week of the fall/autumn season. This year, during the week of September 22–29, older adults, caregivers, and families are encouraged to learn about seniors’ fall risks and how to prevent falls in 2016 and the years ahead.

“Falls can take a serious toll on older adults’ quality of life and independence,” says leading gerontologist Jon Pynoos, Ph.D., co-director of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, “and the risk for falls increases with age.”

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury, says the National Council on Aging (NCOA). At the heart of the message behind Fall Prevention Awareness Week is the good news that falls are preventable.

The NCOA advises seniors to stay safe with these six tips.

Find a good balance and exercise program. Strive to build balance, strength, and flexibility. To find a program, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for referrals. Find aging resources in your area at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (http://www.n4a.org/). Choose a program you like and take a friend, caregiver, or family member.

Talk to your health care provider. Share your history of recent falls, and ask for an assessment of your falling risk.

Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Medication side effects and drug interactions can increase your risk of falling. Remember to take medications only as prescribed.

Get your vision and hearing checked yearly and update your eyeglasses. Your eyes and ears are key to keeping your balance and avoiding fall hazards.

Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards (loose area rugs, clutter in main walk-through areas, and wet floors in the kitchen and bathroom, for example), increase lighting in stairways and hallways, and install grab bars in the bathroom and railings on stairs.

Talk to family members. Enlist family members and caregivers’ support in taking simple steps to stay safe on your feet. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s Raises Awareness and Funds For Alzheimer’s Care, Support, and Research

September events spotlight Alzheimer’s and other dementias 

The month of September has become a special time for focusing on research, awareness, and fundraising for Alzheimer’s disease nationwide and throughout the world.

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) sponsors the fifth global World Alzheimer’s Month (https://www.alz.co.uk/world-alzheimers-month) in September to educate about the disease and challenge stigma. Worldwide, 35 million people and their families are affected by dementia. This year’s theme is “Remember Me,” for which ADI asks everyone to get involved by sharing their own favorite memories, or memories of a loved one, on social media during September with the hashtags #RememberMe #WAM2016.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, is the world’s largest fundraising and awareness event for Alzheimer’s. In fact many ISL communities take part in these walks. Participants of all ages and abilities gather for these local 2- to 3-mile walks, most of which are held on a day in September. To find a walk near you, go to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website (https://act.alz.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=walk_homepage) and type in your zip code.

ISL Celebrates National Assisted Living Week with a commitment to “Keep Connected”

assisted_living_weekToday’s seniors are expecting more from every aspect of their lives.  The senior housing industry has responded by creating assisted living communities, a place where senior residents thrive. To celebrate the way more than one million people live, there is National Assisted Living Week® taking place September 11-17, 2016. This year’s theme “Keep Connected” showcases the integral role technology plays in assisted living communities such as those managed by ISL.

The theme celebrates the countless ways assisted living communities are integrating technology into resident care. In fact, seniors are the fastest growing internet and social media users today. They typically use it to reconnect with people from their past, bridge generational gaps, and find online support for people living with chronic diseases.

ISL takes enormous pride in finding new ways to enhance the services we provide in assisted living.  “Incorporating 21st century technology whenever possible truly enhances are resident care in so many ways and helps them enjoy a better quality of life.

“Keep Connected,” recognizes the increasing opportunity technology can offer to enhance the care and overall experience in assisted living communities. During this week we encourage our communities to support opportunities for residents to use the latest communication tools to engage with the world around them. Furthermore, “Keep Connected” acknowledges the many ways assisted living staff and supporting business partners are revolutionizing the care provided in these communities through innovations in technology.  

Happy Assisted Living Week!

A Resident at The Groves of Tustin is crowned at the Miss Newport/Miss Irvine USA Pageant

In April, ISL put into place in its communities a program that is truly enhancing the lives of residents called Vibrant Life®. One component of the program is called  “Livin’ the Dream,” designed to take residents dreams and make them a reality.

terry-scholdererRecently The Groves of Tustin made a dream come true for one of their residents, Terry Scholderer. She was recently crowned at the Miss Newport Coast USA/Miss Irvine USA Pageant 2016 as part of her “Livin’ the Dream.”

The pageant was held at the Red Lion Resort in Anaheim with over 300 people in attendance. Terry got her hair done at the community’s salon and then had her makeup professionally done by an artist at the pageant. She wore a custom purple evening gown that was made just for her for this event and was escorted on stage by her son Mike. She was then given her official “Memories Matter” sash and was crowned by the outgoing Miss Irvine Teen USA, Monica English! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Terry waved to the audience and soaked in her moment in the spotlight!

The event was inspired when a group of beauty queens visited The Groves at Tustin. Terry was simply infatuated with them and enjoyed interacting with the group. This sparked an idea with the community’s Sales and Marketing Director Anna Gounev, who personally runs the Miss Irvine/Miss Newport Coast USA Pageant.

“We thought that it would be a great opportunity for Terry to live her dream and take part in the pageant,” adds Anna.

 ISL’s Vibrant Life Program consists of four Signature Programs that were developed as a tool to help insure  communities provide quality programming that contribute to the overall well-being and self-worth of our residents. ISL is assisting residents to find their purpose, to search out how each can better incorporate the seven components to living: Be Inspired, Be Well, Be Challenged, Be Adventurous, Be Family, Be Social and Be Connected.

Do Seniors Need a Living Will?

What is a living will and who should have one?

Discussions about end-of-life and critical-care issues are never easy and often get put aside because no family members are at that stage, but planning ahead can prevent confusion, conflict and unnecessary suffering during times of worry and grief.

Knowing a loved one’s wishes before an illness or accident ensures that family members won’t have to make difficult choices on the loved one’s behalf during a crisis.

Livings Wills Are Legal Instructions

Also called advance directives or healthcare directives, living wills are written, legal instructions detailing a person’s preferences for medical care if he or she is unable to make decisions. Advance directives guide healthcare choices for medical professionals and caregivers if a person is terminally ill, critically injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.

Advance directives aren’t just for older adults. Because unexpected critical-care and end-of-life situations can occur at any age, it’s crucial for all adults to prepare these documents.

Studies show that older adults feel especially relieved to know that their specific and personal end-of-life preferences are documented and will be carried out, therefore freeing their families from making these decisions.

Living Wills and Power of Attorney

A living will typically works together with a medical power of attorney (POA). Some states combine the two into one document. The medical POA enables a person to select somebody (a spouse, other family member, or a trusted friend) to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. These two documents can allow you to control the types of medical treatment you’ve chosen, and who will make sure your wishes are honored.

Which Medical Treatments Should You Think About?

The living will typically spells out medical treatments you would or would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as other options such as pain management and organ donation. Talk to your doctor, healthcare agent (the person with POA), your family, and friends about your personal wishes. Would you want to extend treatment in any situation? Would you want treatment only if recovery is possible?

These are some of the primary issues to consider:

  • Resuscitation to restart the heart. You don’t need a living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. These orders can be prepared separately and put in your medical record.
  • Mechanical ventilation to take over breathing if you can’t breathe on your own.
  • Tube feeding to supply the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or through a tube in the stomach.
  • Dialysis if your kidneys cease to function.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications used near the end of life.
  • Palliative care to keep you comfortable and manage pain at end of life, including being allowed to die at home, getting pain medications, being fed ice chips to soothe dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.
  • Organ and tissue donation for transplantation.
  • Donating your body for scientific study.

Do You Judge Yourself As a “Caregiver”

Coping strategies to help banish caregiver’s remorse and guilt 

Being a caregiver to a senior family member is a valuable service and a great responsibility, performed out of love and devotion, and the task does have its rewards. Still, it is a hugely demanding job, often requiring round-the-clock responsibilities.

The enormous challenges of caregiving can bring forth many conflicting and unpleasant feelings, causing caregivers to believe they may not be up to the task. It’s common to fall into a pattern of self-judging, constantly criticizing yourself for the many ways you feel you’re not doing the job well enough.

How can you help chase away the constant self-judgment you hear in your head and reclaim your sense of competence in performing this praise-worthy function?

Acknowledge your negative feelings. All caregivers experience a range of emotions and reactions as they try to cope with their day-to-day duties. Common feelings include:

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Grief
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Resentfulness
  • Annoyance
  • Irritability
  • Jealousy of others’ freedom
  • Resentment of lack of appreciation for all you’re doing

And then add guilt for having these feelings! Guilt also arises when you feel you’re falling short of your ideal of the “perfect” caregiver.

The first step in managing these feelings is realizing that they’re normal and justified—and all caregivers experience similar feelings on a regular basis.

Notice damaging self-talk. Try to notice when you’re talking to yourself negatively. Keep a notebook and jot down whenever you have a self-judging thought: “Snapped at Dad this morning. I’m a bad daughter.” Or “Forgot to pick up Mom’s favorite juice. Why can’t I remember the simplest things?”

These thoughts may constantly run through our heads and we don’t notice how severely we speak to ourselves. Paying attention and writing them down will help you realize how often you’re doing it, and what you’re telling yourself. Ask yourself if you would judge someone else as harshly as you judge yourself.

Redirect negative thoughts, and look at the big picture. After you’ve been noticing your self-criticism, you’ll learn to recognize when it’s happening. Redirect your thoughts by focusing on something you’ve done well (no matter how small), or listing something you’re grateful for.

Instead of criticizing yourself for your trivial failures, look at the bigger picture. So what if the house isn’t spotless? So what if you served lunch later than usual?

Keep in mind what’s really important to you. Chances are you’ve delayed your household duties because you’ve chosen to spend quality time with your loved one to keep him engaged in life and boost his mood.

Keep in touch with other caregivers. Talking to other caregivers can give you fresh perspective. Caregiver support groups are ideal for sharing stories with others in similar situations. Many of their experiences, questions, and challenges will mirror your own. You may realize that you’re doing your best under difficult circumstances, there is no one right way to do the job, and you’re not alone in your situation.

To find a caregiver support group, check with local hospitals and community centers and senior living communities such as an ISL managed one. An online resource is the Eldercare Locator (http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx) where you can enter your zip code to find the Area Agencies on Aging in your area. Call or go to the websites of the Area Agencies on Aging (sponsored by the federal Department of Health and Human Services) that are near you.

Ways to Help Seniors Drink Enough Fluids on Hot Summer Days

Fun tips for staying hydrated in warmer weather  

To stay healthy, all humans need water to keep joints moving, protect organs and tissues, regulate body temperature, and overall make the body work better. On hot days, our bodies lose water more rapidly than usual. Also, senior adults have risk factors that can cause problems in the heat, including a reduced sense of thirst and decreased kidney functions, hindering the body’s ability to adapt to extreme temperatures or low hydration.

If you observe signs of confusion, dry mouth, slurred speech and altered behavior in your older adult, especially in warm weather, you might mistakenly attribute these symptoms to age, instead of 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 lead to difficulties with short-term memory, attention spam and visual-motor tracking. For good health during the summer months, including optimal cognitive function, here are some fun tips for helping your senior loved ones stay well hydrated.

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

Include other fluids. All fluids contribute to hydration, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups (but excluding alcohol, which is very 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 a report by 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

Provide a reusable water bottle. Avoid throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment—20 percent end up in landfills. Instead, buy a BPA-free refillable water bottle to help your senior adult keep track of his or her water intake each day. Try to make sure your loved one keeps the bottle nearby. With fluids right at hand, your senior is more likely to sip throughout the day.

Daily Dining is a Highlight at Senior Living Communities

ISL communities serve up superior dining experiences that prioritize healthy, delicious foods and enjoyable occasions to socialize

At any age, we all look forward to a good meal, and our expectations for healthy, delicious, and engaging dining choices are higher than ever. Residents at today’s senior living communities expect more when it comes to dining. To meet residents’ desire for better quality and variety, communities such as those we manage making the entire culinary experience more progressive. Gone are the days of cafeteria-type offerings. Today’s residents are served freshly prepared, homemade meals in a restaurant-style setting complete with extensive healthy menu choices, flexible meal times, resident input on menu planning, tableside service, and special events.

The Culinary Directors at our ISL communities are fully engaged in providing a restaurant dining experience. This includes offering a wide variety of menu items and preparations, specials of the day, and alternative menus. Some residents want grilled fish, some baked, poached or even sushi—we offer all those choices. In addition, we look at seasonal varieties of foods. In the fall there is more squash and pumpkin on the menu; in the spring and summer, fresh fruits. Local produce is always highlighted.

Local and Regional Foods. Whenever possible local and regional foods are sourced from local and regional suppliers to provide the freshest products available. In addition, ISL participates whenever possible in the “farm to table” experience. Residents are  served regional favorites that appeal to the community, and meals incorporate in-season foods that are common to the area.

Specialty Menus and Thoughtful Preparation. To help seniors maintain healthy diets according to their needs, specialty provisions are offered, such as gluten free, allergy specific, low sodium, low sugar, low fat, low carb, low cholesterol, as well as pureed foods. Religious and cultural restrictions are also taken into account. To ensure great taste as well as freshness, authenticity, and health benefits, communities often use locally grown herbs, assorted spices, and other healthful substitutes to create delicious and nutritious offerings.

Social Dining Experiences. The dining experience does more than feed a hungry resident, it feeds the mind and soul when enjoyed in a communal setting. Many ISL communities stress the social aspect of dining and take it to another level. They offer special themed dining events that take dining to a new level, events that residents look forward to. “Our goal is to transport our residents to a destination dining place, to create an event complete with decorations, entertainment, activities, and, of course, delicious food. For example if we are doing a Hawaiian theme residents may enjoy a roasted pig, hula dancing and tropical drinks as just part of the experience,” adds Zeug.

Varied Menu Selections. Today’s residents want a variety of selections to choose from any time of day. No longer is it acceptable to only have a few menu choices. Now ISL communities provide full-service restaurant-style dining programs that rely on residents’ input on menu offerings, including food choices and preparation. Communities have culinary committees comprising groups of residents who offer advice on menus, and sometimes use residents’ recipes and food-preparation tips. Community dining staff members are innovative in menu selection and customizing offerings for their residents.

Flexible Dining Schedules. The dining experience no matter what time of day is a significant contributor to resident satisfaction in senior living communities. Many senior communities offer flexible mealtimes so that residents can choose a routine that fits their preferences and lifestyles. Those communities that don’t offer all-day dining often make fresh, well-prepared snacks throughout the day. Many communities have more than one location for dining, offering a fine dining area as well as casual dining locations within the community.

At ISL communities, we are creating new and exciting dining experiences for our residents. We strive to provide culinary experiences that residents not only look forward to but also enjoy. Our directors are present in the dining rooms, our chefs ask for residents input, and staff are always seeking new ways to improve our dining programs to best fit residents’ needs and preferences.

Bon Appetite!

Fun Things To Do with Grandkids This Summer

Summertime offers plenty of opportunities for families to connect—kids are out of school, vacation days are scheduled, and warm weather brings us out and about. When your grandkids (or great-grandkids!) come to visit, do you need some activities that are fun for all ages? We have a few suggestions for residents and their families—simple ways to have a good time together, anytime, anywhere.

Teach your grandkids a favorite hobby. Can you play the guitar? Do you know how to knit or crochet? Are you a good cook? Perhaps you’ve got a knack for crafts. A sport you love? Most of us have at least one thing we’re pretty good at. Give your grandkids a few lessons. Or else just let them gather round while you show ‘em how it’s done!

Take a slow walk around the neighborhood. Point out interesting things you’ve noticed: old trees, pretty plants, unusual houses, and cute pets. Ask your grandkids to tell you what catches their eye.

Ride the bus. Take the train. Does your city have a trolley car? Light rail? Head downtown, uptown, crosstown—or just choose a route and go. Even a short trip can be an adventure.

Make iced tea. Brew your own tea and add ice cubes. Bring the pitcher outside or serve it inside, depending on the weather and everyone’s mood. Have an iced tea party.

Go to a yard sale. Check the classifieds on Craigslist or in your local newspaper for neighborhood sales: garage, yard, estate, and tag, moving. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure! If your grandkids or great-grandkids are small, give them a few dollars to spend on special trinkets.

The Groves of Tustin Embraces a “Vibrant Life”

Integral Senior Living knows well that living a vibrant life at any age is a life worth living. Now the senior living management company is taking the idea of vibrant living a step further by making it easier for residents at all its communities to be vibrant through its new Vibrant Life® program.

Recently ISL rolled out its innovative program Vibrant Life® to all its communities, and the response has been amazing. Residents, staff, family, and friends are taking part in making life more vibrant for residents through a variety of initiatives. At The Groves of Tustin, one component of there Vibrant Life program is called“This is Your Life” which helps create a sense of social connectivity between residents and families. Individual residents are showcased throughout the year to share their life stories and personal accomplishments. The first resident showcased was Rose Mary Landre. Her recognition took place on her 100th birthday. The Mayor of Tustin, John Nielsen presented her with a proclamation at an event recognizing Rose held at the community in her honor.

Rose was born in Philadelphia and moved to California as a young girl. She is a very talented singer, and would sing for weddings in her church as well as the church choir. She married in 1940 Rose worked for the Social Security Administration typing out the very first social security cards. She also worked as an electronic assembler and an apartment manger. She retired in 1988 and moved to Tustin gardens where she lived for 26 years. She has been residing at the Groves of Tustin for over two years. Rose is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and she describes herself as “small but mighty.”

The Groves like all ISL communities is assisting residents to find their purpose, to search out how each can better incorporate the seven components to living: Be Inspired, Be Well, Be Challenged, Be Adventurous, Be Family, Be Social and Be Connected.

ISL’s mission is to optimize health and well-being by passionately promoting a Vibrant Life® filled with joyful experiences, meaningful endeavors, and abundant opportunities so that our residents connect with family, friends and the local community.

Cheers to Rose and the wonderful life she has lived.