Preserving Their Dignity: Utilizing Technology in Caregiving (Part 4 of 4)

At The Reutlinger Community, we strive to educate residents, future residents and adult children about all aspects of the dementia process and best practices for ensuring the best quality of life for your loved one – and yourself. In this four-part series, we discuss the importance of providing dignity throughout the dementia journey and how you can connect compassionately and in fulfilling ways.

We don’t always think of the words “seniors” and “technology” in the same sentence. But perhaps we all need to rethink that. As technology becomes more and more commonplace and integrated into our lives, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s moving from “the cool new thing” to “a capability that can help everyone improve quality of life.” Think of the Apple Watch® with its fitness-tracking abilities, or apps that allow diabetics to read their blood sugar with the press of a button – and adjust insulin accordingly. Sure, being “plugged in” all the time can have its disadvantages. But it can also, surprisingly, provide safety and dignity, especially when it comes to caregivers and their senior loved ones.

“Obviously, the first thing that many caregivers use technology for is research and gathering information about how to help their loved one, but these days, that’s just scratching the surface,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “There are literally hundreds of applications and products available that can be used to help improve the caregiving experience and provide senior loved ones with a better quality of life.”

In fact, says Andrea, technology has the benefit of allowing seniors to be more independent and self-reliant than ever before. Technology can give seniors access to the world without them ever having to leave the house. “Apps like Facebook or Skype allow seniors to stay in touch with loved ones and interact with friends face-to-face without them having to be in the same room or time zone,” she says. “Other technologies can keep seniors safe, provide physical activity and encourage lifelong learning, just to name a few.”

The Benefits of Digital Technology for Caregivers

Caregiving for a loved one is a full-time job that often has to be juggled with other full-time jobs like careers, raising kids and everything else that comes with a full, separate life. That doesn’t leave a lot of spare time – but that’s just one of the ways that technology can help caregivers.

These days, technology allows you to outsource everything from the obvious (like housekeeping and yardwork) to the surprising (grocery shopping, transportation and even time management). Grocery delivery services are becoming more ubiquitous at local stores, and services like TaskRabbit make it easy to hire helpers for anything from house cleaning to assembling furniture to even being a part-time assistant. Services like Uber and Lift can help time-strapped caregivers coordinate transportation for senior loved ones who need to go to and from appointments or events.

There are plenty of senior- and caregiving-specific technologies that have been created to help caregivers and their loved ones live more freely, as well. Assistive technology devices (ATDs) like stairlifts, hearing aids, power scooters and wheelchairs, magnifying devices for computers and voice-controlled clocks with medication reminders are all things that can be used to streamline caregiving and take some of the heavy lifting off your shoulders (literally and figuratively).

The Benefits of Digital Technology for Seniors

Digital technology provides a variety of benefits for seniors, and that goes double for individuals with dementia. For example, wearable tech like tracking watches can help caregivers keep track of what’s going on with their loved ones even if they’re out running errands. Medical alert systems like bracelets or necklaces can allow seniors to call for assistance instantly. Here are some other ways that digital technology can assist with providing a better quality of life for your loved one with dementia:

  • Staying fit. Technology makes it easy to exercise mind, body and soul without ever having to leave the house. Video game systems like the Nintendo Wii allow for light-impact versions of favorite exercise like bowling, tennis and others (as well as more traditional aerobics and cardio). Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube offer video series of practically any exercise you can imagine, plus meditation, calming exercises and therapy videos. And, of course, games like Words with Friends and other fun activities can help keep cognitive functions as sharp as possible while providing a bit of social interaction, too.
  • Promoting independence and dignity. Being able to accomplish tasks and use their existing abilities will boost your loved one’s self-esteem, can assist with slowing down cognitive decline, and also can help you relax a little, too. Simple things like smart pill boxes that alert seniors when it’s time to take medicine can allow your loved one to take his or her own pills without you having to manage it. Links to favorite apps or an easy way to access preferred entertainment can help seniors manage their time and do the things they enjoy, all on their own.
  • Providing security and helping reduce unwanted behaviors. Some technologies are specifically designed to help ease behaviors like anxiety, agitation and confusion. For example, clocks that have been designed to be easy to read will help someone who is confused easily and is worried about what day or time it is. Special power strips will monitor electrical appliances and can send alerts to caregivers if the stove, curling iron or other item has not been turned off. There are also personal assistance devices that can play reminders and messages to help manage and soothe your loved one with dementia, such as reminders to lock the door when they leave, or to provide reassurance when you aren’t available.
  • Helping communication. The Alzheimer’s Society reports that technologies like iPads and other interactive devices can help seniors with dementia to better express themselves through creativity and provide ways to communicate with their surroundings.
  • Memory-boosting. Exercising the mind can help stave off further cognitive decline and allow sharpening of abilities that remain. There are many games available now that have been specifically designed to help individuals with dementia. A surprising memory-booster that technology can help with is through music. It’s been proven time and time again that music can allow seniors to unlock memories of their past and can actually help improve communication. Satellite or internet radio can provide a ready-to-go playlist of favorites for your loved one to enjoy again and again.

For more information about using technology in the caregiving space, or to learn more about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted LivingEnhanced Assisted LivingMemory CareSkilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

The Reutlinger Community and Eskaton Affiliation

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will the Reutlinger Community maintain its Jewish values?
A. The affiliation agreement unequivocally protects TRC’s religious and cultural Jewish values moving forward. The Reutlinger Community will continue to rely on the generosity and participation of the broader East Bay Jewish community for support, as it has over the past 70 years.

Q. What will happen to the assets owned by the community?
A. Reutlinger assets will be managed by Eskaton but use of the assets will exclusively benefit residents of the Reutlinger community. All restricted gifts donated in the past, present or future to Reutlinger will accrue for the benefit of the community.

Q. Will the Reutlinger board remain as-is?
A. Eskaton will be named the sole member of the Reutlinger Board. In turn, the outgoing Reutlinger board will appoint a representative to the Eskaton board from the East Bay Jewish community to ensure Eskaton retains and upholds the Jewish values and heritage outlined in the affiliation agreement. In the future, a local Jewish organization – synagogue, JFCS, Federation, etc. – will be named as Designator Organization to select future community representatives for the Eskaton board.

That organization will nominate all future board appointees and, in the extreme result of any dissolution by Eskaton, will either be the recipient of any assets still “held” by the Reutlinger or will distribute such funds for the well-being of the East Bay Jewish community.

The Eskaton board currently has 12 members and will expand to 13 once the Reutlinger member is appointed. The Reutlinger Community will retain its name and corporate status as a 501©3 not-for-profit organization.

Q. How will the Designator Organization be selected?
A. The current Reutlinger Board will select the Designator Organization. The Reutlinger Board has nominated six potential Jewish organizations, vetted each, and has selected one, pending final board approval by that organization.

Q. How long a term will the Eskaton board representative for Reutlinger serve before they step down?
A. The representative will serve a maximum of nine years broken into three (3), three-year terms barring resignation, loss of life, etc.

Q. To whom will the Eskaton board representative for Reutlinger report to or share any relevant information from the Eskaton board meeting?
A. Relevant information from board meetings will be reported to the Designator Organization.

Q. Will TRC trustees receive minutes from the Eskaton board meetings?
A. Meeting minutes and summaries from the Eskaton Board of Directors are available by contacting Eskaton at 916.334.0810 or via email at Todd.Murch@eskaton.org.

Q. Will leadership at TRC change as the community transitions from a stand-alone to an affiliate of Eskaton?
A. Jay Zimmer will remain as president and CEO through transition until June 2020 when Eskaton appoints an Executive Director. Zimmer will play an active role in recruitment efforts for the successor.

Q. Will there be any other staff changes in the current management?
A. Eskaton will not rush-in to make any sweeping changes to personnel. It is important for Eskaton during the early stages of any affiliation to learn about community management standards and employee skillsets. Eskaton has very high employee satisfaction. In the past two years, Eskaton was named a “Best Place to Work” by the Sacramento Business Journal and received a national certification from the Great Place to Work institute based on staff survey results that endorsed a high-trust environment featuring empowered and engaged employees.

Q. Who will manage the financial investments for TRC?
A. Eskaton uses the “Carver Model” for governance, meaning there will be no committee designated to manage community investments. Eskaton investments are managed through Wells Fargo similarly to current Reutlinger investment policies.

Q. Is there a way to break the contract if necessary?
A. The Reutlinger Community representative on the Eskaton Board of Directors would have to allege Eskaton breached the affiliation agreement, which includes outlined procedures to either reconcile or proceed toward disaffiliation.

Q. How long is the initial contract period before it is up for renewal?
A. Barring any breach in contract, the affiliation will be permanent.

Q. Will there be costs to TRC if we decide to sever our relationship with Eskaton? If so, what is amount?
A. This item has not yet been determined and the amount will be subject to final negotiation.

Q. Why are Eskaton and TRC affiliating?
A. Senior living communities are facing tougher competition, increased regulations, decreased reimbursement and limited access to capital in the ever-changing senior living environment; several services considered “must-haves” in today’s environment such as home-care and licensed home health care are beyond the community’s ability to develop and manage.  Eskaton, with its broad portfolio of senior housing options, can provide TRC with the scale that hospital systems and third-party payers require of their partners. Strategically speaking, TRC has certain needs and Eskaton can provide the services and programs that will be necessary for sustained success.

 

Please forward any additional questions to:
Jay Zimmer, President and CEO
The Reutlinger Community
jzimmer@rcjl.org
925-964-2063

Preserving Their Dignity: Tips for Difficult Conversations (Part 3 of 4)

At The Reutlinger Community, we strive to educate residents, future residents and adult children about all aspects of the dementia process and best practices for ensuring the best quality of life for your loved one – and yourself. In this four-part series, we discuss the importance of providing dignity throughout the dementia journey and how you can connect compassionately and in fulfilling ways.

When your loved one has dementia, it may seem like every conversation ends up being a difficult one. What type of care should Mom or Dad receive? What will happen when he or she requires more help? How should end-of-life treatment be handled?

“Hard conversations will happen throughout all phases of the dementia journey – it’s just a matter of fact considering the course of the disease,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. Hopefully, you and your loved one (as well as other interested parties) will have important conversations as soon as the disease is diagnosed, but as with any plan, you’ll need to revisit it on a regular basis.

“Eventually, you or your loved one’s designated representative will need to be the decision-maker for care plans and other mid- to late-stage dementia decisions,” says Andrea. “This is easier for everyone involved if your loved one’s wishes are clear and everyone is on the same page regarding next steps. However, even if your loved one is in the more advanced stages of dementia, there are still ways to help preserve their dignity, respect them as a person and take their needs into consideration.”

Having Difficult Conversations Early Stages

There are many tough decisions that have to be made at the beginning of the dementia journey. It’s easy for family members to leap into action and want to make decisions for their loved one. Although this comes from a place of love, remember that your loved one is the person who should ultimately make as many of the hard decisions as possible.

“Too many people hear the word dementia and assume that their loved one can no longer function,” says Andrea. “But most of the time, the person with dementia is still highly functioning and can think clearly, rationally and make their own decisions. If the disease is still in the early stages, you, your loved one and other interested parties should work together to plan for the future.”

Things like treatment and care, living situations and determining powers of attorney should be decided at this time. Ask your loved one to clearly state their wishes for what they want to happen “down the road” – it’s a good idea to create documentation that can be easily shared.

Having Difficult Conversations – Later Stages

As the disease progresses, caregivers will end up having to make more and more decisions on behalf of loved ones with dementia. Some of these may have already been figured out, but plans can change based on the situation. While your loved one won’t be able to make every decision, there are still many opportunities for them to take control and make appropriate decisions.

“Although your loved one may not be able to make decisions about specific courses of treatment, he or she may be able to decide what to wear that day, or what TV show to watch,” says Andrea. “Dementia affects communication and speaking, but it’s still possible for your loved one to express their desires and wishes. You’ll just need to be patient, choose the right moment and understand how they’re trying to communicate.”

Unfortunately, there may come a time when you need to have a tough conversation and your loved one can’t – or won’t – participate. This may require you to work with a third party, like a doctor or therapist, or even make an executive decision. Things like this could be having a conversation about your loved one quitting driving, or deciding that Mom or Dad need to move to a Memory Care community.

It’s important to meet your loved ones “where they are” and understand what types of decisions they can and can’t make. For example, your loved one doesn’t want to move to a Memory Care community, but you know that it’s the right choice. Instead of trying to convince him or her why moving is necessary, you should present the situation and provide opportunities for discussion. Here are some tips for having a hard conversation:

  • Treat your loved one as the adult they are. Don’t talk down to your loved one or treat them like a child. Even if their abilities are being lost, people with dementia can still understand when they’re not being treated like adults, and that’s incredibly frustrating to them. Remember that they’re still a person who deserves respect and dignity, and be sure you always approach conversations that way.
  • Ask open-ended questions and give plenty of time for response. Instead of saying “do you want to move to Memory Care?” say instead, “How do you feel about moving to Memory Care?” Then, give your loved one as much time to respond as needed. It can be difficult to form responses, so be patient.
  • Be flexible. Your loved one may be “sharper” at certain times of the day than others. Avoid having a conversation at a “bad” time, and if you start a conversation and realize your loved one is getting anxious or frustrated, go do something else and come back to the conversation at a better time.
  • Use “I” and “we” phrases. Instead of saying things like “you should…” or “you’re going to… ,” talk about your feelings and emotions. “I feel overwhelmed and can’t give you the quality care you deserve,” is an appropriate thing to say, as is “I’m scared you’re going to seriously hurt yourself going up and down the stairs all the time.”
  • Be understanding. The world can be a confusing and scary place for those with dementia. Be kind and know that your loved one is doing the best they can – as are you. Reassure them and yourself that you want them to have fun, live their best life possible and be happy, and that everything you’re doing is to make that happen.

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted LivingEnhanced Assisted LivingMemory CareSkilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Preserving Their Dignity: Strategies for Coordinating Care (Part 2 of 4)

At The Reutlinger Community, we strive to educate residents, future residents and adult children about all aspects of the dementia process and best practices for ensuring the best quality of life for your loved one – and yourself. In this four-part series, we discuss the importance of providing dignity throughout the dementia journey and how you can connect compassionately and in fulfilling ways.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is challenging. Not only are you dealing with the details, tasks and coordination that come from caring for the disease, but you’re also coping with the loss of the person you know and love. It can be hard to know how to interact and care for your loved one in a way that doesn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. While there is no way to snap your fingers and instantly make this situation easy, one of the best ways to make the situation smoother and acceptable is by making sure that your loved one receives a level of dignity throughout all aspects of their care.

“Dignity in care helps both the individual with dementia and the family members,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Many people who haven’t dealt with dementia before may believe that their loved one ‘isn’t there’ and isn’t aware of what’s going on nearby. However, those with dementia can be very sensitive and are aware of when they’re being condescended to or not being taken into consideration. This results in unhappiness and a poorer quality of life.”

Dignity throughout all levels of care is critical for the patient because it allows them to be viewed as a person instead of as their condition. Surprisingly, it also helps family members and friends cope with the disease as well. “When a loved one with dementia is treated as an adult, it helps remind others that he or she is still the same person they know and love, which can help with overall coping and acceptance,” says Andrea.

The Importance of Coordinating Dignified, Compassionate Care

Dementia comes with many health issues and needs, so arranging for quality care depends on caregivers finding the right health professionals, being an advocate for their loved one and making sure the whole person is being cared for – mentally, emotionally and physically. Coordinating this level of care can be a complex and daunting task, especially when the caregiver is trying to find providers that will treat their loved one with dignity and the respect they deserve.

“As your loved one’s caregiver, it’s essential to find other care professionals who understand that dignity is an integral part of dementia care,” says Andrea. “After all, you can’t do everything yourself, and in order to make sure your loved one receives the best care possible, you’ll need to rely on other professionals to get the job done. Knowing what to look for in a provider can help you ensure that your loved one receives the assistance they need and the respect they deserve.”

How to Coordinate Care In a Dignified Way

What does “dignity” mean in relation to doctors, therapists or day care staff? What does it mean for you, the loved one and/or caregiver? Here are some ways to determine whether or not a care provider is the right fit:

Is your loved one included in discussions about their health or care?

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when caring for a loved one with dementia is not including him or her in any discussions directly related to them. Remember, he or she isn’t a child, and deserves to be a part of the conversation as much as possible. In the early stages of dementia, this will be easier to remember, since your loved one can answer questions and help create plans for how treatment will be considered down the road. However, as the disease progresses, your loved one’s ability to interact will become less and less. Still, care providers should never “talk over” your loved one or ignore them as an individual. The best providers will interact with your loved one in appropriate ways and allow them to make as much input as possible about their care and treatment.

Does the care provider use appropriate language and words?

It can be easy to take a parental tone when speaking to your loved one with dementia, especially if he or she is displaying childlike qualities. This is why it’s important for care providers who understand the balance of the disease and personhood – whether they are professionally trained or informal caregivers. Does the care provider speak to your loved one in a respectful tone and avoid “elderspeak?” Do they use language that helps your loved one maintain a sense of dignity (for example, calling an adult diaper “underwear” or asking if your loved one needs to use the bathroom instead of “going potty”)? Do they use leading questions that make it easier for your loved one to answer?

Does the care provider encourage interaction and activity?

Boredom and social isolation cause depression and increase cognitive decline. No matter what stage of dementia your loved one is in, he or she can benefit from being around other people and participating in rewarding activities. Does the care provider offer opportunities for your loved one to be social? Are there activities available that he or she can do even with limited abilities? Are their interests and passions taken into consideration? The best care providers will answer all these questions and more, as well as understand how to deftly prepare outings and interactions that will meet the needs of your loved one without taking away any of their dignity.

Does the care provider respect your loved one as an individual?

Everything we’ve mentioned so far really boils down to this one question: is your loved one treated with the respect he or she deserves? The truth of the matter is that care providers are a dime a dozen (just do a quick Google search if you don’t believe us). However, care providers who do their research, understand the importance of dignity in dementia care and who truly have the understanding and compassion to respect your loved one as a person and not as their disease? Care providers of that type are much more rare, but when you find them, they are worth their weight in gold.

“The Reutlinger understands the importance of dignity and respect in dementia care, and part of our outreach is providing assistance and advice to family and friends so they can better care for their loved ones,” says Andrea. “By helping others understand the needs of individuals with dementia, we can better provide a high quality of life for everyone in our circle.”

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted LivingEnhanced Assisted LivingMemory CareSkilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Preserving Their Dignity: Humor in Caregiving (Part 1 of 4)

Dignity. It’s a big word that can hold a lot of different meanings. We say someone is “dignified” when they carry themselves well, are poised and command a presence – that they are worthy of respect or honor. The concept and discussion of dignity has been, through the millennia, a matter of philosophy, religion, human rights, law and medicine. Many people view it as a fundamental right, and all of us – no matter our age our status – have an innate desire to have personal dignity and to be treated with dignity.

“Everyone is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect, no matter what their abilities or health status, but sometimes this can be difficult to remember when caregiving for someone with dementia,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. No matter how much the disease changes an individual, says Andrea, it’s important for everyone in their circle – from doctors to caregivers to loved ones – to remember that dignity is essential to quality of life.

At The Reutlinger Community, we strive to educate residents, future residents and adult children about all aspects of the dementia process and best practices for ensuring the best quality of life for your loved one – and yourself. In this four-part series, we’ll discuss the importance of providing dignity throughout the dementia journey and how you can connect compassionately and in fulfilling ways.

The Healing Power of Humor

There’s a reason the old trope that “laughter is the best medicine” has stuck around. Humor is just one of those things that unites us. We giggle with our babies. We laugh with our friends. We guffaw when our older relative says or does something funny. It’s a great way to relieve stress, break the tension and connect with others. Sharing humor instinctively says, “I understand you and we have something in common.”

Humor doesn’t just give us warm fuzzies. According to new research, humor can be as effective as some drugs when it comes to managing agitation in dementia patients. A recent published study from the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Suita, Japan, discovered that humor has positive effects that can last for weeks following a therapy session. Although dementia patients can lose abilities like smiling there are some types of laughter that remain. For example, some patients will laugh or smile after they’ve had a good night’s sleep, or if they’ve enjoyed their meal. The Japanese study also shows that dementia patients may smile or laugh when they’re recognized for an accomplishment or when they reach a goal.

People with dementia can understand “humor” as a concept, too. While the things they find funny may shift as they age and progress through the dementia journey, humor can still be a tool that caregivers use to connect and entertain.

How Humor Can Help You (and Your Loved One) Connect and Care

It’s common for older people to use humor as a coping mechanism, so it should come as no surprise that institutions are using comedy as therapy for older adults – particularly those with dementia. Although it’s necessary to be sensitive to the unique challenges of dementia patients and ensure that laughter is always “with, not at,” humor has shown to be a great coping tool for caregivers, helps build relationships between caregivers and patients and can help defuse tensions and problematic behavior from people with dementia – all of which leads to a heightened quality of life. Here are some ways you can find humor in everyday situations and create opportunities to laugh together.

Find humor in the moment.

While it’s easy to focus on the problems when you’re a caregiver, there are ways to “lighten up” by recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities for comedy. You, your loved one or a passer-by may say something funny – go ahead and laugh! (As long as your loved one understands you’re not laughing at them, of course.

Encourage their sense of humor.

What type of humor does your loved one like? Silly “Dad jokes” or more slapstick options like The Three Stooges? Find what makes him or her laugh, and encourage it by renting videos, watching YouTube clips or even reading funny stories out loud.

Laugh when prompted.

Although this sounds a little strange, there will be times when your loved one finds humor in a situation that you may not find funny or think is a little strange. However, when he or she is laughing about something, go ahead and join in the fun! Even if you’re not feeling upbeat, just smiling will ignite those serotonin sensors in your brain and give you a positive boost.

Keep it positive.

While humor can be found in darker moments, generally it’s best to keep it positive and harmless, like a silly knock-knock joke or watching a video of a cat squeezing into a very tiny box. You can also lighten the mood by sharing funny stories or talk about a time in the past that was humorous – bonus points if it’s a time you and your loved one spent together.

“It’s important to think of humor as a gift we give each other,” says Andrea. “When we make someone laugh, we feel important – which is why encouraging humor in loved ones with dementia is a way to help respect and preserve their dignity. By sharing humor together, you’re validating them as a unique person, which is something we all strive for.”

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Celebrating Jewish Women of Valor During Women’s History Month

“A woman of valor, who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value.” – Proverbs 31:10

On March 8, we will celebrate International Women’s Day, a highlight of Women’s History Month. In the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, March has been designated as a month to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women both historical and contemporary. For those of the Jewish faith, this month is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the women of the tribe who exemplify the eshet chayil – the “Woman of Valor” praised in Proverbs 31.

“The eshet chayil is one powerful woman, and she has long been at the forefront of our people’s spiritual and communal growth,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Although we celebrate her before every kiddush, Women’s History Month is the perfect time to honor the eshet chayilwho have helped shape history.”

The History of Women’s History Month

The roots of Women’s History Month begin with the first International Women’s Day held in 1911. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation founding National Women’s History Week, and in 1987, Congress designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.

Notable Jewish Women of Valor

Here are just a few of the trailblazing Jewish women who have had the conviction and courage to overcome barriers and difficulties in order to make a difference in the world.

An Advocate for Justice – Bella Abzug

A daughter of Russian immigrants, Bella Abzug became a significant leader of the women’s movement. By the age of 13, she was giving speeches in her local synagogue, which was just the beginning of her activist aspirations. Bella went on to study at Columbia University and became one of only a handful of women law students in the nation. She worked as a lawyer for the next twenty-five years, specializing in civil rights and liberties cases as well as labor and tenants’ rights. Throughout her career, she served three terms in Congress, fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and other vital legislation, and presided over the first National Women’s Conference in Houston.

An Entrepreneurial Dreamer – ‘Madame’ Beatrice Alexander

Beatrice Alexander had a dream – and knew how to make it happen. Although she was born into poverty, she built her own company practically singlehandedly and emerged as one of the most prominent female entrepreneurs of the 20th century. Although her company, the Alexander Doll Company, still exists today, she is celebrated as a woman of valor in no small part to her philanthropic works with both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations throughout the world.

A Groundbreaking Scientist – Gertrude Elion

Gertrude Elion’s tremendous accomplishments spanned the course of her long career. She was responsible for helping develop the first chemotherapy drug for childhood leukemia, the first effective anti-viral medication and treatments for hepatitis, lupus, gout, arthritis and other diseases. Together with George Hitchings, her research partner, she was able to revolutionize drug development, saving and improving the lives of countless individuals. Her efforts earned her the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988.

A Philanthropic Example – Rebecca Gratz

Rebecca Gratz was the founder and secretary of one of Philadelphia’s earliest women’s philanthropic organizations and devoted her life to providing aid to underprivileged women and children. As a devout Jew, she combined her American experience with her cultural identity and went on to establish the first women-run American Jewish institutions, including the first Hebrew Sunday School and Jewish Orphanage. Her mission was to provide a space for women who wished to embrace all sides of their identity in order to preserve and evolve what it meant to be Jewish in America.

A “Fighting Judge” – Justine Wise Polier

As the first woman Justice in New York, Justine Wise Polier believed firmly that championing the cause of justice would truly change the world for the better. For 38 years, she fought for the rights of the poor and disempowered from the Family Court bench. She believed that treatment, not punishment, was the answer to juvenile justice law, and made her court a community network of economic aid, placement agencies, psychiatric services and other forms of assistance to families.

The “World’s Best Girl Athlete” – Bobbie Rosenfeld

Canadian Olympic medalist Fanny ‘Bobbie’ Rosenfeld led a double life: by day, she was a stenographer in a chocolate factory. On evenings and weekends, she became the “world’s best girl athlete,” winning softball games in crowded stadiums, shattering track records (both national and international) or leading a basketball or ice hockey team to victory in a league championship. She was voted Canada’s Female Athlete of the Half-Century in 1950, and was among the first women to be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

The Ordained Rabbi – Rabbi Regina Jonas

Regina Jonas long knew she was destined to be the first woman rabbi. Her fellow pupils remember her talking about her dream of becoming a rabbi even in high school. Prior to WW II, she focused on caring for the sick and elderly at the Jewish hospital. During WW II, she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she performed rabbinical functions until her transportation to and death at Auschwitz.

The Passionate Organizer – Hannah Greenebaum Solomon

Hannah Greenbaum Solomon was the founder of the first national association of Jewish Women – the National Council of Jewish Women. She was also a dedicated organizer and driving force for reform at the beginning of the 20th century. She believed that a “woman’s sphere is the whole wide world,” emphasized unity, and orchestrated agreements among Jewish, gentile, and government groups on local, national and international levels.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the lives of these amazing women and so many more this month,” says Andrea. “We celebrate our Jewish heritage every day at The Reutlinger Community and we’re proud to be a senior living community that embraces the tradition and values of our Jewish faith yet also welcomes and honors all faiths.”

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today

From Kosher to Kosher-Style: How We Maintain Culture in Our Kitchen

The practice of keeping kosher, or following the laws of Kashruth, is an important tenet of Jewish faith and tradition. At The Reutlinger Community, our commitment to Jewish values means providing healthy and delicious dining options that help celebrate our traditions and faith. Our dining team works blends the latest trends with tradition to provide options for our residents of all faiths, as well as provide options for Jews who keep kosher or kosher-style.

“Food plays such an important role in our faith and in so many of our memories,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “While some of our residents choose to keep kosher, many others simply enjoy the comfort and familiarity of kosher-style meals. Since our reopening in 2016, we have committed ourselves to the future of senior living, which means offering a wide variety of flavors, tastes and cultures into our menus and dining lifestyle. Kosher and kosher-style are a part of that.”

From Kosher to Kosher-Style

Unlike keeping kosher, which requires following a strict set of laws that cover everything from the food we eat to how it’s prepared, kosher-style refers to foods that have been associated with Jewish culture but aren’t necessarily following Kashrut. Think of the traditional foods you’ve enjoyed over the years – pickles, knish, matzah balls – and you’ve got a flavor of what “kosher-style” is.

“Pretty much any dish or cuisine can be adapted to be kosher,” says Andrea. “But there’s no substitute for those traditional, kosher-style foods. Sometimes you just crave it, whether because you miss the taste or because it reminds you of holidays past.”

Kosher-style foods appeared in the 1920s and allowed Jewish immigrants to feel “at home” food-wise, without having to follow dietary restrictions. While the term was colloquially used to describe delicatessens and similar restaurants, it also encompassed a new wave of Jewish families who were now able to still eat traditionally without having to strictly follow all of Kashruth’s very strict rules.

The Dining Culture at The Reutlinger

The Reutlinger Community is an interfaith community, and we’re pleased to be able to offer menus that encompass a wide array of different traditional dishes from cultures around the world. Offering kosher options is one way we honor our culture and believes, and kosher-style options are yet another nod to a different aspect of our culture.

“Many of our residents enjoy seeing dishes on the menu they grew up with,” says Andrea. “Providing these traditions, including a weekly Shabbat meal, allows us to blend past and present while also incorporating the latest trends in the food and dining industry.”

For more information about our dining team and our offerings, please contact us at (925) 272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Making Your Assisted Living Apartment Feel Like Home

One of the biggest reasons why a senior may hesitate to move into Assisted Living is because they don’t want to leave “home.” This can be both a practical matter (I don’t want to move my stuff, the house is paid off, it’s nice to have the extra space) or it can be an emotional matter (this is where we raised our kids, it’s belonged to the family forever, I simply don’t want to give it up). Whatever the reason, it mainly stems from the fear of losing “home.”

“They say home is where the heart is, and for many people, their heart is linked to the physical structure,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Moving away from that very personal place is a step that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s okay to grieve the loss of ‘your home,’ since it has played such an important role in the past.”

But that shouldn’t stop you, Andrea says, from moving into a new “home” to begin a new chapter of your life. “There are lots of ways you can decorate your Assisted Living apartment to honor your past while still making it new,” she says. “It’s all about balance, looking at your needs and recognizing what’s really important to you.”

Here are nine tips to making your new home feel like, well, home.

  1. Remember “Something Old”

Downsizing doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. Sure, you can’t take the 12-foot dining room table or the room-sized wraparound couch. But you can take the things that mean the most to you, because they’re your link to the past. Your breakfast table, your antique lawyer’s bookcase, a few favorite pieces of Wedgwood® china – pick and choose your favorites, and then sell the rest or gift items to friends and family.

  1. Buy “Something New”

Who doesn’t love getting new stuff? One of the best parts of moving into an Assisted Living apartment is that you get to play interior designer and create a brand-new space that’s totally your style. Have fun and buy new rugs, curtains, throw pillows, coffee tables – whatever will make your home a home. It’s an excellent time to go a little wild and buy something that you’ve always wanted but never got for whatever reason, like a French press coffee maker or a wine fridge.

  1. Get Creative with Your Storage

No matter how much you downsize, you’ll probably still have a lot of stuff. And depending on your new place, you may not have a whole lot of storage space. In order to maximize your square footage, consider furniture that serves a double-purpose, like an ottoman that opens up to store blankets (and can become a low table by adding a tray).

  1. Use Photos for Decoration

Your family and friends are what’s important in life, so why not use them to really warm up the space? Place photos around your new place, similar to how they were arranged in your old home. Print a big family photo and hang it on the wall. Change out photos every once in a while (or every time you get new ones) to keep things fresh and interesting.

  1. Add Foliage

A living plant or two is a great addition to any Assisted Living apartment. If you have a large potted plant that you can’t take with you, consider potting some cuttings and taking them. Not only are plants pretty, but they also help improve air quality.

  1. Make Space for Guests

One of the benefits of an Assisted Living community is making new friends and compatriots. You probably enjoyed entertaining friends, family and other guests at your old place, and we imagine you’ll want to do the same in your new apartment. As you’re decorating, make sure there’s a space where you can entertain a few people for game night or a cozy dinner party. Don’t forget extra chairs or tables so that guests have a natural place to sit and relax.

  1. Make Room for Hobbies

Yes, Assisted Living communities have a full schedule of events and activities that you can take part in. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re not going to have a place where you want to escape to read a book, do embroidery or knitting or whatever other hobbies you enjoy. Mark off a corner or a space that’s dedicated to your hobbies so you have a space for your materials and tools – as well as a way to keep everything organized and neat so things aren’t just scattered across the counter or the kitchen table.

  1. Consider Your Abilities

It’s annoying to recognize it, but it’s possible that you may need a little “extra” from your décor now that you’re getting older. Like that favorite comfy chair you use to watch TV? It may not be the best fit, since the deep, soft cushions can be difficult to climb out of. Think about things that will make your life easier: brighter lighting in the bathroom, or contrasting colors in the kitchen to help delineate what goes where. The more you can take care of before you settle in, the easier it will be.

  1. Name It & Own It

The easiest way to make a new place feel like home? Start referring to it as that. Yes, it can be a bit of a psychological stumble at the beginning, but the more you can name your apartment as your “home,” the more you’ll be able to internalize it. Using all the tips listed above, we imagine it won’t take very long before the word “home” comes naturally.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

The Bay Area’s Premier Jewish Senior Living Community

Over 60 years ago, The Reutlinger Community was founded as the Home for Jewish Parents in Oakland, California. Since then, The Reutlinger Community has experienced growth and enhancement that have allowed them to provide high-quality health care and social support services to seniors – all within an environment that is committed to Jewish values. Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Short-Term Rehabilitation, everything seniors need and more is offered so that you can maintain your friendships, keep your family together and truly feel at home.

According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director at The Reutlinger Community, the principles by which they serve seniors are simple and come down to a few key words: honor, respect, love and tradition. “At The Reutlinger Community, we know how much you value your parents and understand how difficult it can be when you want to care for them but are unable to provide the level of care they deserve,” says Andrea. “This is why we strive to care for your parents with the same dedication and love that you do. We truly spend each day caring for your loved one just as you would, while providing the support and education you need.”

Something for Everyone

The Reutlinger Community has something for everyone. From an array of living options to multiple programs and activities, no days look the same.

  • A true continuum of care. With Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Short-Term Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community is able to meet any needs your loved one may have. This can bring you and your family peace of mind knowing that your loved one will never have to move because their needs change.
  • Living options to fit needs and preferences. No matter if your loved one is independent or needs more care, there are unique living arrangements suited to their needs. Whether they desire a one-bedroom or studio apartment, private or semi-private room, each area has full-time nurses, activities coordinators and caregivers ready to help each resident thrive.
  • At your service. The Reutlinger Community provides residents with three restaurant-style meals each day in one of our five dining venues with snacks and beverages available any time. Feel like going out to eat or seeing a movie? Just ask for scheduled transportation to take you where you want to go. Here, residents also never need to worry about housekeeping, laundry or maintenance. We’re here to take care of all of it for you.
  • Be as busy or as relaxed as you wish. Spend the day surrounded by our beautiful gardens and hills, relax in the library with a good book or the café with your favorite drink. Participate in one of our many activities or go out on the town, the choice is yours.
  • Focus on spiritual needs. The Reutlinger Community believes that caring for the spiritual and religious needs of residents is essential to increased well-being. Our on-site synagogue, Sh’ma Kolenu, provides an ideal setting for prayer, meditation and services. Attend weekly Shabbat and enjoy our holiday services with Rabbi Debora Kohn or attend various religious programs and classes.
  • Express yourself. At The Reutlinger Community, our residents enjoy our art program with artist-in-residence Betty Rothaus, MFA. Teaching and exploring various art techniques, Betty helps others to enjoy learning new skills and ways to artistically express themselves through drawing and painting with acrylic, pastels, watercolor, textiles and more. 
  • Explore your heritage. Many residents enjoy The Reutlinger Community’s Jewish Heritage Museum, located on site with both permanent and temporary exhibits. Open Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., residents can see over 100 artifacts representing a range of cultural and ceremonial objects.

To experience The Reutlinger Community for yourself, or to learn more about our continuum of care and support, contact our team today. We would love to talk with you and show you why our community stands above the rest as the Bay Area’s premiere Jewish senior living community.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and

rehabilitation, The Reutlinger provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger Community, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.

Understanding the Aging Process: Helping Your Aging Parent Cope with Loss (Part 4 of 4)

At The Reutlinger, we are experts in the aging process and strive to educate our residents, future residents and adult children about what to expect as a parent ages. In this four-part series, we explore the aging process and provide tips to help adult children navigate and manage these changes.

Our lives are marked by constant change. Graduating college, finding employment, getting married, becoming a parent – all these and more are the milestones by which we measure our lives. As we age, we find ourselves changing as well, sometimes in large ways and sometimes in smaller but no less significant ways, retiring, moving into a senior community or requiring caregivers. The change that comes with age is often defined by a sense of loss: loss of identity, purpose, independence, mobility, functionality – all these things and more add up to a shifting reality.

“Seniors are bombarded with constant change, from the physical and emotional to mental and situational,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Caregivers and loved ones play an important role in helping seniors and aging adults work through these difficulties and reaching acceptance of their new reality. There’s a grieving process that must be worked through in order to get to the other side to cope with and accept these everyday losses.”

The Stages of Grief

Many of us are familiar of the Five Stages of Grief developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross . These stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – were originally developed to explain the grieving process that an individual goes through when dealing with a terminal diagnosis.

“We usually associate the five stages of grief with dealing with external losses, like the death of a parent or loved one,” says Campisi. “However, Kübler-Ross never intended them to be used in that way. The stages were specifically developed to deal with personal, individual journeys of loss, whether that be the diagnosis of a terminal illness or something smaller, like not being able to drive in the evenings anymore. At The Reutlinger Community, we’ve found that these stages of grief can be used to help seniors internalize and accept the everyday personal losses they face as they age.”

Our society generally doesn’t tend to view everyday losses and transitions as something that should be grieved over. How many times have you heard someone say this: “Just get over it!” or “It’s not so bad – other people have it so much worse! What are you complaining about?” or “It’s time to move on!” In order to transition in a healthy way, we need to give our aging parents and other loved ones the space and the ability to adequately grieve these small but important losses and get to the other side.

The Stages of Grief for Everyday Losses

Here’s an example of how an aging parent may exhibit the five stages of grief as they’re experiencing an everyday loss, like mobility issues.

  • At first, your parents may react as if everything is fine. “I can do this myself! I don’t need help!” they may say as they refuse the help you’ve offered. It’s easy to view this as simply being stubborn or not facing facts, but denial stems from fear of the unknown. What does it mean if they accept they need help? Will they be forced to leave their home or give up something they love, which is another loss on top of this loss? It’s frightening and vulnerable, which is why the first reaction is to sweep it under the rug, so to speak.
  • As the issue can no longer be easily ignored, your parent may experience outbursts of anger as their body continues to betray them. This can result in anger at completely unrelated things, or they start to “fly off the handle” more easily. They may blame others for issues, or begin saying things like “It’s not fair!” While it seems counterintuitive, the best way to move forward is by encouraging them to embrace the anger and express it instead of trying to mitigate it or calm them down. The more your parents can feel that anger, the sooner they will be able to work through it and move forward.
  • “I’ll let someone come and help for a day a week, but I won’t give up my car!” If a phrase like that sounds familiar to you, that means your parents have entered the “bargaining” stage of grief. They’re trying to negotiate and regain a semblance of control over the situation. It can be frustrating for you as their child to have them do this “halfway acceptance” because in many ways they’re still in denial about the problem. If your parents are in this stage, it’s important to listen to them and accept the terms they can offer, no matter how ridiculous or small they may seem.
  • Depression. Depression has often been defined as “anger turned inward.” This manifests in feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, abandonment and loss of purpose. Your aging parents may seem dull and apathetic, not experiencing any interest or joy in the things they love to do. The most important thing you can do for them is to listen, to be there and let them know you care and they’re not alone. Medications and therapists may be able to help lessen the severity of this stage.
  • Acceptance. Oftentimes we see this stage as a destination, but it’s actually more like a beginning. At this point, your aging parent may finally accept that they need help and begin making plans and changes to address the new normal. However, it’s important to note that true acceptance takes time, and it’s possible your loved one will be accepting one day and then bounce back to another stage of grief the next. Eventually, though, your aging loved one will be able to face their new reality with honesty and acceptance and move forward.

How You Can Help Your Aging Parents Cope with Loss

The five stages of grief are not a rigid progression and can easily shift back and forth for a long time. As an adult child, it’s more important to think of them as guidelines for how your aging parent is feeling. By understanding what they are feeling and going through, you can better assist, support and help them through this journey.

The biggest gift you can give your parents at this time is acknowledgement. Our first reaction when there’s an issue is to provide advice, or try and fix it or, even worse, try to take over because we “know better”. But what your parent needs at this time more than anything is acknowledgement of their pain and what they’re feeling. Although it seems like something small and simple, it’s the biggest thing you can do to help make things better.

Here are some ways you can show your acknowledgement and support of your aging parents’ struggles:

  • Give them the space they need to be sad without attempting to cheer them up. It’s painful to experience loss, but it’s okay to let things hurt for a while.
  • Remind them as much as possible that it’s okay to grieve, and that it takes time – as much as they need.
  • Listen to them and allow them to vent their emotions and feelings as much as possible.
  • Tell them you hear them, that you’re sorry for what’s happening and ask if they would like to talk about it.
  • Encourage them to grieve in whatever way they wish. Encourage them to seek out support groups so they can speak with others who’ve gone through similar issues.
  • Be there for them, and if you’re concerned about how they’re coping, speak to a medical professional to see what resources may be available.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and

rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger’s newly renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.

At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.