Roots and Wings: Visiting with Grandchildren (Part 1 of 4)

“A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
– Hodding Carter

As parents and grandparents, one of the greatest joys in our lives is watching future generations thrive, grow and carry on traditions that have meaning for our families. It’s a desire to leave a legacy – whether emotionally, monetarily or otherwise – so that you will be remembered long after you have left this earth. It’s also a desire to see your loved ones have and take advantage of all the opportunities life has to offer.

“This idea of finding ways to pass on your beliefs and values while providing opportunities for your grandchildren are fundamental and universal,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Traditions help define who we are and link us to our past while providing a foundation for the future.”

We call this philosophy Roots and Wings. It’s the dual approach of building a sense of “home” and what it means to be “your family” alongside the forward-thinking, innovative freedom of a future full of possibilities. These are both gifts that will continue to nurture and strengthen future generations for years to come.

In this four-part series, we explore different ways for seniors to share roots and wings with their children, grandchildren and other loved ones. From passing on traditions to building a legacy to helping shape a stable future, there are many ways you can build meaningful moments that will echo far into the future.

Visiting Your Grandchildren: Making Meaningful Moments Happen

Most grandparents would say that building and maintaining strong relationships between them and their grandchildren is important. Spending time with grandchildren allows you to be a part of their lives and gives you the opportunity to share life skills, instill values and pass along stories and wisdom. Plus, it’s incredibly enjoyable to watch them as they grow, and there are many things you can learn from them, too!

Whether you live in the same town as your grandchildren or are half a world away, here are some ways to make the most of your time together and forge a special bond between you and the youngest members of your family.

Go outside.
Kids, especially when they’re younger, get a kick out of outdoor activities – no matter what the season! Building a snowman, splashing in the pool, jumping in a pile of leaves or picking spring flowers are all enjoyable things to do as the weather turns. Need some more ideas? Check out below:

  • Plant for the future. Growing flowers, vegetables or even a tree provide fun now and in the future. Discuss with your grandchild what you’d like to do and what your future plans for the plant are. Will you use the herbs to cook the next time you or they are in town? Will the tree you’ve planted be a perfect place for picnicking?
  • Start an outdoor hobby together. Do you or your grandchild enjoy birdwatching? Identifying leaves? Collecting bugs? Playing soccer? Finding an activity that you can do together (and when you’re apart) creates a great opportunity to make memories and give both of you something to look forward to the next time you’re together.
  • Enjoy outdoor events. Head to the farmers market or grab a lawn chair and watch fireworks. Cheer on a local sports team or walk to a nearby ice cream parlor. Whatever the season, find something that’s going on in a nearby town and make a day out of it!

Spend time indoors.
Reading books together, baking cookies, doing art projects … many of our most cherished memories happen indoors. Choose a favorite activity or look below for an idea starter:

  • Share family stories. Drag out the old family photo albums or show off slides from the family vacation you took with their parents when they were children. You and your grandchild could also write out your family history and create a family tree. With services like Ancestry.com and others, it’s easier than ever to research your history.
  • Teach each other a favorite activity. Maybe you want to learn how to play Fortnite and your grandchild wants to learn how to knit. Teach each other the things you love to do –it’s an instant bonding experience.
  • Learn a new activity together. Long-term projects can be an excellent way to share interests and carry on something for longer than an afternoon. Learn how to make dishes from different cultures, or start a blog about your time together.

Connect from afar.
Grandparents who live far away have options these days to bond and stay connected to their grandchildren. From low- to high-tech, the options for a quick hello or a meaningful heart to heart have made quality time from afar easier than ever.

  • Call, text or FaceTime them. Instilling the importance of a phone call is a great way to have a conversation with your grandchild. If possible, you can set a time every week to chat, even if for only a little bit. You can do the same thing with a Skype or FaceTime chat. If your grandchildren are old enough to have personal phones, don’t forget that a little text can have meaning, too.
  • Play online games together. Games like Words with Friends, Monopoly and more are online versions of classic board games that you can play together even when you’re miles apart.

Go old school with snail mail. Getting a handwritten letter or a package in the mail is a big deal these days. Show your grandchild how magical the mail can be by exchanging letters and care packages on a regular basis. Best of all, you may get a letter back!

Spending time with grandchildren is a very special way to get to know each other on a deeper level. By using your creativity, you and your grandchildren can spend quality time together and make a lifetime of memories.

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.

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: The Ethics of Fibbing (Part 4 of 4)

In this four part series, we walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show your care and create moments that can be cherished.

We can all agree that telling the truth is the best policy – usually. It’s what we’re taught when we’re very young, after all. Many of us can remember this or that punishment that came from telling a lie to our parents or someone else. However, if your loved one has dementia, sometimes telling the truth can hurt more than it helps.

According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, there are times in a caregiver’s life when it’s better to tell little white lies. Think of your mother who keeps asking when her long-dead spouse is coming home, or your dad who wants the keys to the car even though you took them away years ago. Explaining the reality of the situation will only result in pain, tears, frustration and anger – which will be repeated the next time the situation occurs.

“Your role as a caregiver is to help your loved one have the best quality of life possible while also making your job as stress-free as you are able,” says Andrea. “Approaching these situations with logic and truth can result in negative actions. However, telling little fibs can help keep your loved one calm and happy – so why not go down that route instead?”

When Fibbing Is the Best Policy

This idea of ‘therapeutic fibbing’ – the philosophy of deliberately lying to someone with dementia – is fairly recent in the history of dementia care. It used to be that professionals took the approach that telling the truth would help reorient an individual and allow them to become rooted in reality. However, if you’ve tried this with your loved one before, you know that this approach, while well-meaning, doesn’t usually work.

“As dementia progresses, your senior loved one will lose the ability to use reason and logic, so they aren’t useful tools when you’re trying to explain things to them,” Andrea says. “Instead of trying to bring them into your world – your reality – put yourself in their shoes and respond to their actions and questions as if you were in their world – their reality. What would make the most sense for them, and what would make them feel the most secure, safe and loved at this time?”

When (and When Not) to Use Therapeutic Fibbing

A therapeutic fib is a different beast than setting out to intentionally deceive your loved one. Remember that even though your loved one’s mental abilities are not what they once were, they are still adults who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. This is where many medical professionals and caregivers choose to delineate the ‘ethics’ of this form of care.

“When you’re deciding whether or not to tell a lie to your loved one, ask yourself if you’re doing this in order to maintain their sense of well-being, or is it to help you avoid a difficult conversation you know you should be having?” Andrea says that if it’s the latter rather than the former, you may be broaching the ethics of fair treatment of your loved one.

Therapeutic fibbing isn’t the answer to every circumstance, but when it’s used appropriately, it is a gentle, kind way to help reduce your loved one’s emotional distress and even stop unwanted behavior. Still, some caregivers may be uncomfortable with telling any lies to their loved one at all. In those instances, there are still techniques you can use to treat your loved one gently without lying to them.

Redirect their attention. Instead of trying to convince your mom that she isn’t going to work today because she’s been retired for years, try and redirect her to a different topic of conversation. Ask her what she’s looking forward to that day, or suggest taking a walk around the block before you do anything else. This can help remove your loved one from their current train of thought and bring them into a different space.

Validate what they’re feeling. The emotions and feelings your loved one is having are very real to them, even if they’re rooted in delusions or hallucinations. If your dad is afraid to go outside because he’s worried about being kidnapped, calmly empathize with him and reassure him that he’s safe and that you’ll make sure nothing will happen while he’s outside.

Understand what stage of dementia your loved one is in and adapt your tactics appropriately. Someone in early or mid-stage dementia may be able to accept some forms of reason and logic, while those in later stages truly are living in their own reality. Your tactics may change daily as your loved one moves through their own individual dementia journey.

Let it go. Does it really matter if your father thinks he’s on a train headed to some foreign destination instead of sitting in your living room? If your loved one is happy, calm and not in danger, there’s no reason to take them out of their reality. Let them be and instead hop on that train ride with them – even if it’s all imaginary, you may be able to have a meaningful, fun time together!

Trust your gut. Listen to your instincts and act accordingly. Do what feels right in the situation. After all, you know your loved one best, and acting on intuition will be more successful than you may expect.

“While it’s common to feel guilty or uncomfortable about lying to your loved one, it’s important to remember when doing so may be in their – and your – best interest,” says Andrea. “Ultimately, your job is to care for their safety and well-being, and if telling a little white lie can do that, you’re doing what it takes to provide the best care as possible at that time.”

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 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.

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: Spirituality in Dementia (Part 3 of 4)

In this four part series, we will walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show your care and create moments that can be cherished.

Spirituality, whether through organized religion or a more informal form of reflection, plays an incredibly important role for many of us. That connection to a higher power provides peace, hope and reassurance during difficult times. Individuals living with dementia very often turn to this spirituality as they face and travel through the journey of the disease.

“Spirituality is an essential part of life at The Reutlinger Community, and we incorporate it into the care plans of many of our residents,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Although the lifestyle of our community is based on the Jewish faith, we welcome and have many residents of different religions and faiths who call us home. For individuals with dementia, familiar beliefs and practices help them find comfort and find perspective while their lives are changing around them.”

Benefits of Spirituality
Much like dementia, spirituality can affect each senior differently. However, research and observations have shown that people’s lives can be greatly improved by being part of a spiritual community. Being among like-minded individuals with similar beliefs and values can help improve mood, which boosts health and well-being and can increase life expectancy. But spirituality doesn’t have to be experienced in a group to reap benefits. It also allows aging adults to improve themselves on a personal level, such as:

  • Being more mindful and in the moment
  • Providing an avenue for relaxation
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Helping individuals accept and gain peace with their situation
  • Improving sleep patterns
  • Sharpening their mind
  • Allowing seniors to let go of the past and forgive those who may have wronged them
  • Increasing overall quality of life and happiness

Recent studies also suggest that participating in a spiritual sense can actually help prevent memory loss and slow cognitive decline.

Why is this? According to research, it could be because the traditions and habits we practice in a religious sense are familiar and routine, which can help stimulate centers of the brain that are less affected (or not affected) by dementia. Performing these habits also decrease an individual’s cortisol level, which helps reduce stress and anxiety. Or it could simply be that spirituality just makes people happier.

How to Practice Spirituality and Wellness with Your Loved One
Honoring your loved one by practicing spirituality with them or providing opportunities for them to practice on their own, can be an incredibly meaningful thing for both of you. Here are some ideas for helping foster these moments:

  • Use nature. Many people have expressed that they feel closer to a higher power when they spend time in the great outdoors. It’s also been shown that activities like gardening or birdwatching can help seniors with dementia to relax. By diverting their attention to their surroundings, such as the sounds of birds, the smell of plants or the feel of wind on their skin, it helps remove them from their thoughts and instead be present in what they are feeling, sensing and experiencing.
  • Practice journaling. According to an article from the University of Minnesota, the practice of journaling can help people feel more connected to the world and what’s happening around them. For individuals in the earlier stages of dementia, journaling can help them come to grips with the disconnect they feel, process their experience and bring peace and resilience to their world.
  • Find holistic therapies. There are a variety of therapeutic activities, such as music, art or pet therapies, that have been shown to help seniors with dementia to process negative emotions, reduce anxiety and increase well-being. Find activities that speak to your loved one, especially if they had a passion in their past that they truly enjoyed. By finding ways to express themselves through these activities, you can help your loved one connect to a meaningful time that will bring good feelings and emotions.
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices can improve mood, boost well-being and can even potentially slow cognitive decline. (It’s also a great exercise for those of us who are caring for loved ones with dementia – it helps us be present and in the moment!)
  • Do tai chi. Low impact exercises that pair body and mind can be very beneficial for people with dementia. Not only does it help get your loved one moving and build strength and flexibility, but the mind/body connection that’s integral to the practice of tai chi can help provide meaning and connection.
  • Try yoga. Similar to tai chi, yoga connects the brain and body in many different ways to improve mental and physical health. Seniors with dementia can benefit from better flexibility, balance, strength and even better brain connectivity.
  • Pray or read the scripture. Read scripture or devotionals to them. Sometimes seniors with dementia are still able to recite favorite verses they memorized years ago.
  • Pray together. If your loved one is religious, there is no substitute for the comforting act of praying or singing favorite hymns together. Recite familiar prayers together, which can provoke happy memories and release stress. Reading sections of favorite religious passages can also spur your loved one to recite them along with you, too.

“Caring for the spirit as well as the body and mind are important aspects for a well-rounded memory care approach,” says Andrea. “As the disease progresses, it becomes harder for them to participate spiritually in the same way they always have, which is why we look for ways to help connect with them and find ways to experience some kind of spiritual activity that is meaningful and genuine. At The Reutlinger Community, we provide so many opportunities for our residents to practice spirituality in their own way, from our religious services to music and pet therapy to mindfulness and yoga. We allow residents and families to connect in the ways that matter to them, whatever that may be.”

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 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.

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: Creating Opportunities for Success (Part 2 of 4)

In this four part series, we will walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show your care and create moments that can be cherished.

Every one of us has the need to feel successful and have a purpose. This starts from when we are very small and learning to explore the world all the way to a peaceful old age. This need doesn’t go away when someone is living with dementia. In fact, the desire for success and meaning becomes all the more important as abilities start to fade due to the progressive nature of the disease.

“Even though your loved one may lose aspects of their memory, they still are adults with needs, desires and passions, and they retain the desire to express themselves and be meaningful,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “They feel the loss of abilities quite keenly and need some way to express that. By providing opportunities for them to succeed – no matter how small it may feel – you can provide satisfaction and a sense of well-being that’s unmatched by any other care we can provide.”

When Helping Can Be Hurtful

As caregivers, it’s easy for us to want to help our loved one by doing things for them. While this comes from a place of caring, it also makes it very easy for us to take over. Here are just a few examples of when “taking over” can be more harmful than helpful:

  • Your loved one is struggling to do something
  • It’s taking a long time for your loved one to do something
  • You’re trying to do everything for your loved one, so they know you care and are there for them

However, it’s important to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. How do you feel if someone takes over something you’re trying to do? It may make you feel ashamed, like you’re not good enough or not smart enough to figure it out. It may also anger you, because it can signify that you have no independence or no say in a matter. Or it may make you feel depressed or apathetic, because why bother trying to do anything when someone else will just end up doing it for you?

Even though your loved one has problems with their memory, they still have these feelings, which can have long-lasting effects on their psyche and well-being. Also, because the ability to make judgment calls are diminished, it’s easier for them to have negative reactions to your assistance because they may not be able to ‘see’ your intended goal.

Making Successful Moments Happen

There are two forms of memory that we can tap into to help our loved ones feel more successful without patronizing them: procedural and declarative.

Procedural memory is colloquially defined as “muscle memory.” This is the body memory that comes from doing something repeatedly, like brushing our hair or tying our shoes. Declarative memory is related to remembering an event or a fact. These two types of memories are stored in different parts of our brain, which means that dementia affects them differently. Caregivers can use these two types of memories to positively support and create moments of success for their loved ones.

Procedural memory can sometimes be the easiest way to encourage and promote success for your loved one. Think about the things they can still do, and then provide avenues for them to accomplish that. You can also provide support for the things they have difficulty with by setting up a prepared environment or giving them tools that make things easier.

For example, perhaps your loved one can still get dressed but they have some difficulty from time to time. In order to set them up for success, make sure that their environment is prepared to make the task as easy as possible. Is the room bright enough so they can see what they’re doing? Is there adequate privacy so they don’t feel exposed? Is the room warm enough, and is it free of distractions? Is everything set out neatly so there’s no room for confusion?

Since muscle memory is something that’s instinctual, sometimes just helping your loved one start to do something – or showing them how to do something – is enough to get their body jump-started so they can “take over” the task. An example of this is putting a brush into your loved one’s hand and then guiding it through their hair if they hesitate or don’t seem to know what to do with it. After a stroke or two, their muscle memory can take over and they’re able to complete the activity by themselves.

Procedural memory can be very successful because it’s easy to tell when something has been “completed.” Whether it’s getting dressed, helping to wash dishes or finishing an arts and crafts project, there’s something tangible that your loved one can see as something they’ve “done.”

Declarative memory can sometimes be a little more difficult because it deals with memory, which can be a fleeting thing for those with dementia. However, since long-term memories tend to stay longer and fresher in their brains, reminiscing with your loved one is a great exercise to promote success and providing happy, meaningful moments. Here are some things you can do to help spur declarative memory:

  • Create a photo album of family members, or bring out old photo albums and go through them with your loved one. Prompt conversation by discussing what’s in the picture, especially if it’s something you yourself remember. Don’t ask your loved one “do you remember this or that?” Instead, describe what you’re seeing, and if your loved one responds, encourage them to talk further.
  • Put on some music from their childhood or a favorite song that you know they’ve always loved. Music has been shown to unlock memories in a surprising way and can trigger all sorts of reactions. Your loved one may sing along, clap along with the music or even start talking about memories associated with the song. Even if these don’t happen, you can dance together in the living room or simply hum along with the music. Simply spending time in a happy environment is beneficial to both you and your loved one.

Creating opportunities for success throughout the day helps brighten the lives of our loved ones with dementia – and, by extension, the caregiver. Living in the moment and celebrating the small victories can make each moment happy and fulfilled.

For more information about our community, our culture, 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 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.

Spring Celebrations

Passover:
The community celebrated Passover with a Mazah Brei Cook-off. Featured: Beth Kyman, Director of Philanthropy; Rochelle Zimmer, Wife of CEO Jay Zimmer; Tracy Blazer, Regional Director of Operations for Morrison Community Living and Andrea Campisi, Director of Marketing and Admissions.

Cinco de Mayo:
Residents also celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a variety of festivities including cultural attire, cuisine and entertainment.

Dining at Cinco de Mayo woman wearing sombrero woman wearing a party hat Celebrating Cinco de Mayo Mariachi band and woman wearing sombrero

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: The Art of Non-Verbal Communication (Part 1 of 4)

If your loved one has dementia – particularly as the disease progresses – it can sometimes be difficult to remember them “as they were.” There may be very little of the person you remember, especially if your normally sweet and calm father starts becoming aggressive or angry, or your mother starts exhibiting more and more childlike behaviors. This disconnect between the person they were and the person they are can make it difficult for caregivers and family members to know how to interact, says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA.

“It’s essential to remember that your loved one is an adult, with a rich history and memories, and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” she says. It’s easy to treat our loved ones as if they were a child as they progress through the disease, she says, because it’s how our brain makes sense of the situation and how they’re acting. But by honoring your loved one by treating them as the person they were, you will provide him or her with a lot of reassurance and comfort.

Best practices in dementia care offer five ways to honor our loved ones and show them respect and dignity:

  • Include them in conversations
  • Honor their identity and their history
  • Give them as much privacy as possible
  • Treat them as adults
  • Allow them to make choices

In this four-part series, we will walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show you care and create moments that can be cherished.

Honor Them Through Non-Verbal Communication

Every interaction we have is a form of communication. In fact, it’s literally impossible not to communicate in some way. Even if we aren’t speaking, we’re still transmitting and receiving messages to others around us.

There are two distinct types of communication: verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication is anything that is spoken or written, as well as how things are spoken or written. Tone, volume, speed of speech, pitch of voice and pauses can add significant meaning to words, even if we don’t necessarily mean to do so.

Non-verbal communication includes body language, but also other surprising things like the way a room is decorated, what you’re wearing or the ways you use your five senses. Body language is a subtle, complex thing that many of us don’t think about, but that can have even more meaning than what we’re saying. Some factors that go into body language:

  • The position of our bodies (such as folded arms, standing or sitting) as well as how we position ourselves to others (standing close, keeping an item between yourself and the other person, etc.) Our facial expressions: smiles, neutral faces, scowls, raised eyebrows and the like.
  • Eye contact: If we look in someone’s eyes, or if we focus over someone’s shoulder, looking away as we speak or staring.
  • Touch: How we touch others (on the arm, holding hands, on the back) or ourselves (tucking hair behind the ear, pulling an ear, cracking knuckles).
  • Our physical reactions: If we’re breathing quickly, or if we’re sweating, if we look comfortable or

Non-Verbal Communication and Your Loved One with Dementia
Non-verbal communication becomes more and more important throughout the dementia journey. As your loved one loses the ability to communicate verbally, you will need to interpret more and more – and provide opportunities for – what they are saying with their body, their tone and their actions. It’s common for people with dementia to become frustrated or angry when they aren’t able to express themselves verbally, so providing avenues for them to get their point across is not just helpful – it gives them back a sense of dignity and autonomy. Here are some examples of how you can use non-verbal communication to help your loved one communicate:

  • Provide options. If you’re offering them a snack, show them two options and let them choose from them.
  • Reinforce a message. If you ask your loved one if they want to watch the television, pick up the remote or point to the television to help direct their attention.
  • Showing your feelings. Nod “yes” when you agree with them. Shake your head “no” when something is negative.
  • Say something in a meaningful way. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Instead of just saying “I love you,” give your loved one a big hug or hold their hand. These simple actions can convey a message even more strongly than words can.

Body Language Tips for Caregivers

  • Keep body posture and orientation positive. No matter how pleasant your words or voice, sitting away from them or crossing your arms over your chest signal negativity. This can rub off on your loved one with dementia who can react negatively as well.
  • Use their facial expressions to read emotions. Your loved one may not be able to explain what they’re feeling, but their body language, especially their facial expressions, can tell you how they’re feeling. For example, if you see fear on their face, reassure them with comfort and love.
  • Keep eye contact as an equal. When speaking to your loved one, get to their eye level and look them in the eyes. Being on their level shows them that you respect and value them as an equal.
  • Speak calmly and smoothly. Try not to let your voice show frustration or negativity. Your tone will speak volumes – more so than the words you use. Your loved one will react to your tone, pitch and speed of speech and mirror what you do.

Communicating with your loved one with memory loss requires understanding, patience and a lot of attention to detail. By understanding the importance of non-verbal communication and using it to help reassure your loved one, you will better be able to care for your loved one and provide them with the respect and honor they deserve.

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.

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.