Supporting Seniors in Chronic Pain

The Reutlinger Community: Carla Adamic

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

 

Half of all seniors in the United States suffer from some form of chronic pain. Despite this staggering statistic, that pain often goes untreated. The first step to getting treatment is, of course, reporting it, but there are often barriers that prevent that from happening. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and are afraid to report chronic pain out of fear that it will lead to expensive medications and treatments. Other seniors are suffering from conditions that make communicating their pain difficult like memory or hearing loss. Despite these obstacles, chronic pain is often easily and inexpensively treatable. It’s important for seniors to report chronic pain to their physicians and loved ones.

Signs of Chronic Pain

Signs that a senior (or anyone) is in pain and might not be willing or able to tell you include:

 

  • Tightly closed eyes
  • Grimacing
  • Lowered levels of activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia or troubled sleep
  • Rigid movement
  • Clenched fists
  • Groaning when moved
  • Inexplicable Tears

 

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If you see any of these symptoms, it’s important to encourage seniors to explain what is going on. Pain that goes unreported and untreated can have significant consequence including depression and anxiety.

Managing chronic pain can be handled in a variety of ways:

  • See a doctor who is certified in board certified pain management.
  • Look into interventional therapy programs that could help you manage the underlying cause of the chronic pain. For example, certain exercises can help reduce back pain.
  • Walking, yoga and meditation can help.
  • Dialog with other people who have experienced the same pain and ask how they’ve managed it. Support groups can help.
  • Believe it or not, simple love and care can help someone feel better. Isolation can make pain feel worse.

 

 

At the Reutlinger Community, we work with residents to make sure that they don’t suffer in silence. Part of that is simply having a knowledgeable and personable staff that knows each resident well enough to be able to talk with them about how they are feeling and to recognize signs of chronic pain when they are reticent.

To learn more about how we manage pain, visit us at rcjl.org or call us at 925-648-2800.

 

How Aging Impacts Our Eating Habits… And What We Can Do About It

Carla Adamic Outside

As we get older our bodies change in ways that aren’t immediately visible. One common change is a shift in appetite and the way we process nutrients. Even our very sense of taste changes. Knowing what is ahead is important. What’s more important is knowing what to do about it. Here are some tips for how to handle nutrition during your senior years.

1. Reduce Your Intake of Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

As you age your sense of taste begins to weaken somewhat. However, your ability to taste sweetness usually remains strong long after your other tastes have lost some of their potency. That will mean that you risk over indulging in sweets and other refined carbohydrates. Don’t let that happen. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are dangerous. Unlike unrefined carbohydrates, sugar and refined carbs cause spikes in your blood sugar that can actually leave you feeling hungrier, causing you to overeat.

2. Eat More of The Right Fats

What are the right fats? They fall into two categories: Monounsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats that include Omega-3 oils. These are usually found in fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies. They can also be found in flaxseed and walnut. These fats can actually help your body fight against diseases and improve your mood and brain function.

3. Make Fiber a Bigger Part of Your Diet, A Much Bigger One

People over fifty should be eating considerably more fiber than they are usedvegetables-1578255_640 to. Men should be consuming 30 grams or more per day, Women 21. Digestion becomes more difficult as we age and failing to plan for this change is a recipe for misery. Fortunately, there are many high fiber foods so the odds are high there will be something you will like. High fiber foods include whole grains, wheat cereals, many fruits and vegetables, nuts beans oatmeal and more. Make sure to make these foods a part of your daily menu.

4. Don’t Eat Alone

Depression is a major cause of reduced appetite and, unfortunately, as we age we can often find ourselves increasingly isolated. Eating regularly is a necessity and eating with others will both improve your state of mind and help you manage your menu and meals so that you eat more often and that you eat more healthfully.

If you have other questions about nutrition and seniors, please visit our website at rcjl.org or call us at 925.648.2800.

 

Summer Advice for Seniors

Carla Adamic Outside

Summer is a great time of year. School is out. The weather is warm. The outdoors are calling. This is a great opportunity for exercise, sports, barbecues and vacations. It’s also a time to not let our enthusiasm get in the way of our safety.  Here are some summer safety tips for seniors looking to make the most of the season.

1. Study the Weather Reports

The last few years have seen record heat and this trend doesn’t show any immediate signs of reversing.  High temperatures can be dangerous. Extreme heat can cause sunburn, heat stroke and worse. Extreme heat can also cause us to sweat a lot and cause dehydration.

2. Keep Hydrated

Drinking a lot of fluid is always important, but it’s especially so in the summer where we lose water rapidly through sweat. That means drinking a lot of hydrating beverages and fewer drinks that dehydrate you. Minimize your caffeine intake because it causes you to lose water more quickly. Try to drink eight or more glasses of water per day.

3. Wear Sunscreen 

Prolonged exposure to sunlight can be dangerous. In addition to causing heat, sunlight emits something called “ultraviolet light” which can damage your skin and even cause certain forms of cancer. You should use an spf of 30 or higher. Also, make sure to apply it a full 30 minutes before you go outside to get maximum protection. Water resistant sunscreen is also recommended even if you don’t plan on going swimming. See that pesky sweat problem that keeps on coming up.

4. Get Sunlight

bench-185234_640We’ve spent a lot of time telling you how to protect yourself from the sun, but the truth is you are protecting yourself for a reason, so that you can be in the sun because it is actually good for you. Sunlight is a source of Vitamin D, which helps your brain, your bones and your muscles. Sunlight actually makes you happier and healthier. So protect yourself first and then soak in those rays.

5. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones 

Your family will be more available than ever during the summer and family time is good for the mind, body and soul.  Make the most of this opportunity.

If you are interested in learning about summer programming for seniors, you can visit us at our website at rcjl.org or call us at 925.648.2800.

5 Ways that Volunteering is Healthy for Both Sides of the Generational Divide

Carla Adamic Outside

Winston Churchill said that “You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.” Some of us are students, not certain where our careers and futures will take us. Others are retirees, having concluded our careers, but still living with purpose. Both groups have something to give and something to gain by volunteering their time and their talents. The benefits of volunteering are many for the old, the young and everyone in between. Here are a few ways volunteering can make your life better.

Fight Depression

No matter where you are in life, depression can strike.  One of the key factors that causes depression is social isolation. By coming together with others for a common cause, that isolation decreases. Couple that togetherness with a sense of purpose and feelings of self-doubt can be driven out and replaced with those of self-worth.  Complements from your fellow volunteers will serve important reminders that the world is a better place because of you. 

Learn Valuable Skills

Everyone has something to teach someone else. There are no exceptions. Seniors have lifetimes of experience that they can pass down to others. Younger people are more in tune with the rhythms and technologies of modern life. Volunteers can help each other find skills that can range from the entertaining to the life altering. Maybe by volunteering for an art program you could discover a passion for the arts? Or by helping to renovate a home you discover a talent for carpentry? Maybe you’ll discover a love for blogging? The possibilities are endless.

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Create Lasting Friendships

There is no rule that says that friendship only occurs within the same generation. Bonds of friendship between generations are more common than you think. By volunteering together people both young and old can create lasting and meaningful bonds. Travelling together, watching sports, performing in concerts, and simply enjoying a good walk are experiences that can be shared by almost anyone. 

Make A Real Difference

While volunteering has a number of side benefits the main reason, to change the world for the better, is valuable in and of itself. Doing good is always its own reward.  There is no substitute for the pride, satisfaction and joy that comes from helping others.

To learn more about volunteering opportunities, visit us at rcjl.org.

 

What is “Skilled Nursing” and Why Would I Need It?

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

Carla Adamic Outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we age our needs as individuals change. We want to maintain our independence, but we also have to take care of ourselves. When it comes time to choose a senior living community, we often have a large array of options before us. Some options may seem unnecessarily constrictive. Others seem like they might seem insufficient to meet our healthcare needs.  So, is a Skilled Nursing program the right choice for you?

 

A Skilled Nursing option is for people who have specific medical needs that must be met on a regular basis by a staff of experienced and compassionate nurses who can give you round the clock care. These programs are designed around your needs and are responsive to your changes in circumstances. Skilled Nursing programs can be short or long term.

 

Skilled Nursing is often recommended for residents who:

 

Require Speech, Physical And/or Occupational Therapy

Are recovering from surgery or severe illness

Need assistance dressing, bathing, eating or performing other everyday tasks

 

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Senior living communities like The Reutlinger are adaptive and will change your programming with your needs.  Skilled Nursing options exist alongside Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, and Memory Care programs; so that as your needs change, you can have the confidence of Aging in Place without having to give up the friends and community you call home.

 

The Reutlinger Community has many decades of expertise in skilled nursing. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at (925)648-2800 or visit us at rcjl.org

The Healing Power of Beauty Through Artistic Expression in the Elderly

Carla Adamic Outside

 

 

 

 

 

By Carla Adamic, The Reultinger Community

Learning, creativity, and self-expression are joys that can be pursued throughout a lifetime. Although aging may place some limitations on these pursuits, an assisted living community that provides the opportunity and guidance for creativity can truly enrich the aging experience.

 

Instructional programs in music, dance, poetry, writing, and art give participants broadened opportunities for socialization with their fellow residents. Communication increases, and support is shared.

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Consider the benefits of a fine arts program, which taps into the innate human need for creativity and self-expression. Making art can give the elderly an additional “visual voice” through which to communicate, especially if they are memory impaired. Watching something grow and develop brings hope and focus on life.  The fundamentals of art – color, light, shape – are the words of that voice that the senior artist can use to share the uniqueness of who they are and their abundance of experiences.

 

The need for self-expression does not diminish with age. Encouraging the elderly to share the richness of their lives through art brings insight and joy to both the artist and to those who love them.

 

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

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

Carla Adamic Outside

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

Carla Adamic Outside

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.

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.