Senior Living Options

by  Carla Adamic, Director of Marketing, The Reutlinger Community

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With the percentage of the U.S. population over age 65 steadily increasing, specialized residences and health care must be available for the growing and varied needs of seniors.  Residences offering appropriate levels of care based on an individual’s need are often the solution. Here are various senior living options:

 

Assisted Living is for seniors who require the least amount of care. Meals are provided along with assistance in medication management, bathing, and dressing. Housekeeping and laundry services may be available; community social activities or outings offered; and depending on preferences and budgets, residents may have the option of choosing a private room or a shared apartment.

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The concept of Enhanced Assisted Living can vary, but essentially these facilities, in addition to the services of Assisted Living, offer opportunities for “aging in place” by providing higher level care, services, and therapies as a senior’s needs increase.

 

Although some Assisted Living residences may provide services for seniors with cognitive impairment, a Memory Care residence is a specialized community for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Providing 24-hour supervision and security, the Memory Care environment is designed to meet the unique challenges of Alzheimer’s patients.

 

A Skilled Nursing Facility, sometimes known as a nursing home, provides the highest level of care as well as round-the-clock availability of medical care. Skilled Nursing usually provides long-term care for seniors who are too sick or frail for other types of residences.

 

We welcome your questions. Call (925)648-2800 or visit www.rcjl.org.

You’ve Been Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease; What’s Next?

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By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

 

We’ve all heard about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a condition that strips people of their memory and, eventually their life, that cannot be cured or slowed down. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2015, 5.1 million people over the age of 65 in the United States were living with AD and, of that number, 3.2 million were women.

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What might surprise many is that according to the 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report issued in March, only 45 percent of those diagnosed with AD, or their caregivers, “say they were told of their diagnosis by their doctor.” Doctors aren’t required to tell their patients of the diagnosis, although medical ethics would indicate otherwise.

 

It’s important to know what disease you have and for your caretaker to know, as soon as possible, because it facilitates informed response and planning. Being uninformed leads to fear, confusion, anxiety and depression, just to name a few side effects of not knowing why you are forgetting things, getting lost or confused.

 

Not that you won’t experience many of those emotions when you first learn you have AD, and throughout the course of your disease. But, knowing what is wrong in the early stages of AD means you will be able to take action to help yourself, your spouse or partner, children, relatives and friends prepare for changes in your behavior and health. This can lead to a more rewarding and less troubled future for everyone concerned.

 

Here are five important things to do, after you’ve been diagnosed:

 

  • Learn about Alzheimer’s. The more you know, the better you can explain your disease to family members, friends and others. You will also know what to expect as AD progresses and will be able to plan accordingly.

 

  • Tell your spouse or partner about your diagnosis, if you haven’t done so already. Together you can discuss your needs and theirs and discuss how you wish to be treated as your condition worsens. Have you been putting off a special trip or project? Maybe now is the time to travel to Asia or take the grandkids to Disney World, finish the book you’re writing or organize the family photos.

 

  • Go over your finances and legal documents with your spouse or partner and make sure everything is in order. Consult an attorney to assist you in setting up a power of attorney document, help with estate planning and other financial and legal issues. Make sure your wishes are known and respected.

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  • Check out long-term care facilities in the area and find out what resources are available for people with AD that your caregiver can use, when needed. Find a near-by support group that you and your caregiver can join — either separately or together.

 

  • Keep active as long as you can. If you and your spouse or partner play bridge or go dancing, keep doing it as long as you comfortably can. Consider adding a few less complex activities to your repertoire. That way if bridge becomes too complicated, you can switch to an easier game, like hearts, or take up hiking or walking to replace dancing.

 

There are many resources available for people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, family and friends. The National Institute on Aging offers a guide “Caring for a Person With Alzheimer’s Disease,” with tips for caregivers on topics as diverse as how to make your home safe for a person with Alzheimer’s and how to find a full-time care facility. The site also offers a variety of information on the disease, research in progress and how to find help.

 

The Alzheimer’s Association addresses all facets of AD, from its symptoms and stages to information about on-line message boards and support groups for patients and caregivers. The important thing is to use the available information to make life with AD easier and more rewarding for both you and your caregiver.

 

The staff at the Reutlinger is available to help address your concerns and answer questions. Our resident-centered memory care residents have 24/7 oversight by licensed nurses, a full complement of activities including a renowned on-site art program, and a full-time social worker to ensure that every resident’s quality of life is all it can be.

 

We welcome your questions. Call (925)648-2800 or visit www.rcjl.org.

Fitness and Physical Therapy – Keys to Successful Aging

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By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

 

According to one expert on aging, “If exercise could be put in a pill, it would be the number one anti-aging medicine and the number one anti-depression medicine.” Yes, exercise is essential at any age, but for the elderly, activity is more important than ever.

 

An exercise plan that is geared for a senior’s individual ability can improve strength, energy, and appetite. It also benefits cognitive abilities as well as providing a boost to mood and memory.

 

Gentle exercise programs, such as stretching are especially suited for seniors. These exercises improve balance, range of motion, and coordination. The slow, fluid movements of exercise similar to Tai Chi provide a sense of peace and relaxation while strengthening muscle control and balance.

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Even seniors who use a wheelchair or who have limited mobility can exercise. Stretching exercises can be done while in a chair, and the use of light hand weights can improve cardiovascular health and muscle tone. Water exercise is excellent for the elderly.

For the more active senior, group activities such as line dancing and low-impact aerobics classes couple a higher level of exercise with the inspiration of a social setting.

Find a senior center or senior living community that offers these types of activities and physical therapy services. You goal is to maintain or regain your mobility as you age, especially if you are in a short term-rehabilitation program.

 

There are exercise options for every senior’s ability level. Find a program that works and stick with it.  Find a senior living community with onsite physical therapy and a fitness center. You’ll soon be happy with the results. There are no age limits to fitness.

Consider Services, Programs, and Enhanced Care When Choosing an Assisted Living Community

By Carla Adamic, RN, Director of Marketing

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When selecting an assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one, there are many factors to consider, some of which can be evaluated during a personal tour. Is the facility clean and orderly? Are residents engaged in activities? Does staff provide assistance, if necessary, with daily needs such as medication management, bathing, and dressing?

 

Along with basic services, consider the program of activities available to residents. Learning does not stop with aging, and opportunities for art classes, acting workshops, dancing, and other stimulating pastimes encourage seniors to maintain their many interests and perhaps even develop new ones.

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In addition, consider the benefits of a facility that also provides a residence with skilled nursing care should the need arise. The ability to “age in place” minimizes the stress of change for a senior with increasing health needs.

 

Through thoughtful communication and careful planning and investigating, a move to assisted living can prove to be a welcome lifestyle change.

Keeping Active in Winter Months Essential to Senior Health

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger

Carla Adamic Outside

 

 

 

 

 

Staying active, both mentally and physically, is important for seniors. However, as the cooler, shorter days of winter begin, keeping active may become challenging for some. But seniors who have creative minds can keep busy no matter what the weather.

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After the heat of the summer has passed, seniors who enjoy the outdoors may be interested in bird watching, one of the fastest growing pastimes in America. A good manual on bird watching or a workshop at a community school can inspire interest in this hobby.

 

Indoor activities such as playing cards, checkers, chess, and other board games are enjoyed by many seniors and also include opportunities for social interaction. Investigate the offerings of local libraries that may sponsor board game clubs for seniors.

 

Those who relish knitting, sewing, or other handicrafts may enjoy teaching these skills to other seniors. Or a group of seniors could hire an instructor to teach them as a group.

 

Seniors who participate in aerobics classes or low-impact water aerobics in an indoor pool can keep active throughout the year.

 

The holidays at this time of year also provide numerous opportunities to keep busy. Many retired seniors have the time to plan family get-togethers and to add the special touches to holidays that otherwise busy relatives are unable to get to.

 

There are many ways to keep seniors active and healthy throughout the year. Offer your assistance in helping them find what’s right for them.

 

Sundowning: What it is, What you can do

It is estimated that 1 in 5 people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will exhibit symptoms of “Sundowning,” a psychological condition in people with cognitive impairment that is characterized by anxiety, restlessness, confusion and other behaviors. The term Sundowning is used because the symptoms often begin in the evening, as the sun is setting.

Sundowning is usually seen in those with mid-stage Alzheimer’s and decreases as the illness progresses.

Someone with Sundowning syndrome tends to become disoriented and agitated as the day begins to wind down. They may become confused and unable to process information, thereby becoming irritable and angry. They can be demanding or suspicious, and some may even have auditory or visual hallucinations that add to their anxiety. In an effort to cope with their confusion and the changing evening environment, they may wander, pace, and act out, which further complicates the process of settling down for sleep.

The exact cause of Sundowning is not known, but some research suggests that Alzheimer’s affects the person’s biological clock, inhibiting their natural transition from day to night. Fatigue could be a contributor, as could the fading light of day, which can make visibility more difficult for an elderly person. Also, the quiet of the evening gives the affected more time to focus on problems, which could lead to depression.

Sundowning is distressing for both the person and their caregiver, but steps can be taken to manage the symptoms. Ensure that the person affected engages in some activity during the day but does not become overly fatigued. Provide a calm environment as the day progresses by reducing activity, noise, and clutter. Distract an agitated person with a snack, a quiet TV show, or soothing music. Provide adequate lighting until the person is ready to fall asleep. And most important, be exceedingly kind and patient.