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Why Assisted Living Is the Key to Health and Longevity for Seniors

Everyone wants to live a long, healthy life – emphasis on the healthy. As Americans naturally are becoming more and more long-lived thanks to a focus on wellness and medical advancements, the goal of remaining active and healthy in your senior years has become more and more important to today’s older adults. This thinking is also causing a seismic shift in how seniors and their loved ones consider where to live their golden years.

“The focus for so long has been keeping older adults in their homes, because yesterday’s ‘nursing homes’ were less than optimal,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Today, however, there are so many opportunities and advantages being offered at senior living communities. People are beginning to see that Assisted Living can provide better health and longer lives for seniors who choose to call those communities home.”

And there’s actually evidence to back that up. According to research, seniors who have moved into a senior living community live healthier, on average, for seven to 10 years longer than counterparts who live in their own private homes. Andrea suggests that this is due to many factors, like reduced stress overall, opportunities to socialize, easier fitness opportunities and general peace of mind.

“Seniors who live in their own homes may have the comfort of familiar settings, but also face hazards and dangers like stairs, slippery floors and bathrooms that aren’t set up to accommodate those with mobility issues,” she says. “Senior living communities like The Reutlinger Community, on the other hand, are designed specifically to give seniors and their family members confidence and knowledge that caring assistance is never far away.”

The Advantages of Assisted Living

Designed and adaptable for changing health needs. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Assisted Living provides that ounce of prevention in many ways by taking a holistic, proactive approach to care. In fact, many seniors who move into Assisted Living may be perfectly healthy and active – they’re just planning for the future. Because Assisted Living is staffed with caregivers who are equipped to flex care services as needed, seniors can comfortably age in place in their home – without having to move.

Safety and security. Not only are Assisted Living communities set up to keep residents safe in the sense of “living in an environment that doesn’t have hazards that could cause accidents,” they also often have secured entrances and security guards available 24/7. There are also caregivers available 24/7 and call systems in rooms, so that if a resident is experiencing an emergency, summoning help is as easy as pressing a button.

Nutritious meals. As we get older, it can be harder to cook healthy, delicious meals for ourselves. Getting to the grocery store, not to mention going to the effort of cooking and cleaning up, can just seem like too much work. Also, because tastebuds and appetites diminish as we get older, eating just isn’t much fun – especially if you live by yourself. This can lead to poor meal choices and malnutrition, which in turn can lead to health issues like hypertension, a lower immune system and stress.

In Assisted Living, by contrast, meals are chef-prepared and served tableside. Not only is the food delicious and nutritious (and the senior doesn’t have to cook or clean up!), but there’s also an added social element that can be difficult to get in a private home. Residents at Assisted Living communities sit at tables with friends, which provides a lively, emotionally connected atmosphere. Even if Assisted Living residents have their own kitchen or kitchenette in their apartments, many still choose to eat meals in the dining room with their friends – because the best meals are the ones we share with others.

Transportation. Driving can become more dangerous as we age. Many seniors end up not going out or bowing out of social engagements because they don’t want to drive in the dark, don’t trust themselves behind the wheel or perhaps aren’t cognitively capable of driving safely. Fortunately, if seniors decided they no longer want to drive, an Assisted Living community is happy to take that chore over. Most Assisted Living communities will offer transportation for community events, like shopping or outings. They also can arrange transportation if a resident has a doctor’s appointment or needs to go somewhere. Even if the community has garages for the residents’ personal cars, many seniors will opt for the community transportation – greatly reducing their risk of getting in an accident on the road while still getting everywhere they need to go.

Less work and worry. Even if you’ve paid off your mortgage, there are still many expenses that go with owning a home. Utilities, insurance, property tax and maintenance can all quickly add up, depending on how old your house is. Fixes can become expensive if you hire it out – and can be dangerous if you try to do it yourself as an older adult. Assisted Living communities like The Reutlinger Community provide maintenance-free living, meaning that seniors never have to climb on a ladder to clean gutters ever again. This means less stress – and a lot more free time for you.

Socialization and opportunities for friendship. Loneliness is incredibly common among older adults, and is one of the biggest health issues facing those who live alone. Yes, health issues – because loneliness can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, hypertension, a lowered immune system and poor physical health. By contrast, socializing with people, being engaged and involved in activities we care about boost endorphins, keep our minds sharp, improve our physical health and keep us young … both in heart, in mind and body.

“Today’s seniors are demanding more out of their retirement and golden years, and today’s senior living communities are actively providing the lifestyle that enables them to achieve everything they want and desire,” says Andrea. “It also gives them choices … choices to live their life how they wish while receiving the care they need. It truly is the best of both worlds.”

For more information about the benefits of Assisted Living, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

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 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.

5 Tips for Finding the Best Memory Care for a Senior Loved One

If you have a loved one with dementia, there will come a time when they need more assistance than you yourself can provide. Although this can be a hard realization to come to, it truly is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for your loved one, says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA.

“Dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, which means that eventually your loved one will require around-the-clock care – something that’s difficult for a family caregiver to provide,” she says. “That’s why it’s important to become educated on the types of care available and understand how to assess your loved one’s needs so you can meet their care needs and safety requirements long-term.”

Memory Care is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we’ve put together this guide on the various types and levels of dementia care available. That way, you and your family will understand and know how to choose the right Memory Care option for your loved one when the time arrives.

Types of Dementia and Memory Care Available

Adult Day Care
This type of specialized Memory Care provides your loved one with dementia a structured and safe environment during the day, which allows you (as the primary caregiver) to go about your daily life such as going to work, taking a break to run errands or simply give yourself some self-care. Adult day cares are often in or near Memory Care communities (specialized senior living communities that provide assistance for individuals with memory loss), and individuals are cared for by professionally trained caregivers who understand the unique needs of those with memory issues.

Adult day care centers offer supervision, socialization opportunities, activities and more. They also offer healthy lunch and snacks (at some centers). This type of Memory Care service is perfect for caregivers who have full-time or part-time jobs and need a little extra assistance during the working day. Most centers are open during regular working hours, and some offer pick-up and drop-off services. Some centers also offer care on weekends or in the evenings.

In-home Care
In-home care providers do exactly what their name says: they provide structured care for individuals with dementia in their own homes (instead of in a specialized facility). Services can include everything from companionship and personal care to caregiving around-the-clock, housekeeping, nursing care and respite care.

In-home care often allows caregivers and those with dementia to maintain their comfort and dignity in the privacy of their own home.

  • Common kinds of care services may include: Companion services, which include socialization and supervision
  • Homemaker services, which induces meal preparation, housekeeping or shopping
  • Personal care, which includes help with the tasks of daily living (ADLs)
  • Nursing care, which includes nursing and medical care such as medication administrations, therapies and other skilled medical care

Residential Care
This type of Memory Care takes place in a communal environment so that residents may receive emergency care, medical supervision and personal care whenever it’s needed. This type of care is usually reserved for individuals who require a higher level of care than those who currently live in an in-home environment. The different types of residential care can include:

  • Assisted Living, which are communities for seniors who need a higher level of care but only on a part-time basis.
  • Continuum of Care, which is a type of senior living that’s designed to meet a senior’s needs as their health changes over the years. A resident may begin in Independent Living, and then progress through the continuum of care all the way to Skilled Nursing or Memory Care.
  • Independent Living, which are communities for individuals with a high level of functioning. People with dementia usually do not qualify for this type of residential care.
  • Nursing Home Care, which is 24-hour Skilled Medical Care provided in a specialized environment. It’s more intense than Assisted Living but not as specialized as Memory Care.
  • Memory Care, which is usually held in a standalone community or a special wing of a senior living community that has been designed to meet the specific needs of an individual with dementia.

Finding the Right Memory Care for Your Loved One

The dementia journey is personal and unique to all of us, which means that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your loved one with Memory Care. Here are some tips for finding the right place for him or her.

  1. Ask for references. Other family members and friends may have gone through the process of helping a loved one with dementia get the assistance they need. These individuals can provide priceless information about the various Memory Care options in your area.
  2. Research. Start with a Google search, but don’t hesitate to ask your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what resources might be available to you.
  3. List your loved one’s needs. Depending on the level of your loved one’s dementia and health needs, one type of community may be better than another.
  4. Tour your options. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to different Memory Care communities and facilities, schedule tours so that you can see firsthand what life is like at different communities.
  5. Ask questions. Prepare a list of questions to ask during every Memory Care community call or visit. It’s best to come up with a standard list of questions, which will allow you to compare apples-to-apples when it’s time to make a decision.

Perhaps the best tip, says Andrea, is to ask your loved one’s physician and nearby Memory Care communities what type of services might be best for your loved one.

“Choosing the right type and level of Memory Care for your loved one is a big decision, but there are people out there who can help,” she says. “Not only are you helping to provide for your loved one’s needs, but you’re also caring for yourself and other family members. By helping your loved one receive the Memory Care they need, they’ll have the highest quality of life possible and give you back the time and space you need to nurture your relationship.”

For more information about finding the right type of Memory Care for your loved one, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high-quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

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 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.

What Artful Living Means at The Reutlinger Community

What does it mean to live an “artful life?” Simply put, it means a life that is filled with art – the art you consume, the art you create, the art you share. It’s about appreciating and creating art for its own sake, without thought to gaining fame or fortune or anything other than leaving the world a little better than you found it.

“The arts attract us all, no matter how young or old we are,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “There is a drive in every person to create things of beauty that stem from our emotions, feelings, imagination or visions. This is something that nourishes us throughout our whole lives, helping us to be well-rounded individuals. The arts teach us to communicate, help us broaden our minds, connect us to one another and improve our quality of life in many, many ways.”

There is extensive evidence that art and artistic expression can benefit the lives of seniors in incredible ways. Throughout history, creating art has been therapeutic for both the creator of the work and those who participate in or view it. This knowledge has helped to shape the philosophies and best practices of today’s art therapies, music therapies and other forms of self-expression used to enhance lives across the world.

Next Avenue, a research-focused art blog, wrote in one of their studies that “the most compelling evidence of the value of the arts revolves around improving the lives of older adults.” For residents at The Reutlinger Community – and for all other senior individuals – there is substantial proof that participating in artistic forms like drawing, painting, dancing or writing can help to maintain health, quality of life and fulfillment for older adults.

How Does an Artful Life Benefit Seniors?

Although the therapeutic benefit of the arts has been studied extensively, the study of aging and the arts is still fairly new. Still, there are many anecdotal tales of seniors who experience better moods, become more social and have a greater sense of self-worth after participating in an art program.

“Knowing everything we do about how to age successfully, it’s no surprise that the arts and an artful life are a benefit to seniors,” says Andrea. “We’ve seen that having a purpose, participating in an activity they enjoy, being social and connecting with people helps seniors stay healthy physically, mentally and emotionally, all of which are integral to a fulfilled life.”

Don’t believe us? Here are some of the things that have been discovered about the arts and aging well:

  • Dancing helps boost motor skills and cognition.
  • Singing can improve mental health and self-esteem.
  • Participating in the arts increases one’s psychological health and social engagement.
  • Playing a musical instrument can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
  • Seniors report feeling a stronger sense of identity after creating a piece of art.
  • Practicing some form of art helps individuals gain a sense of control.
  • Seniors report reduced boredom, better mental function and more happiness when they participate in an artful life.

Discovering an Artful Life at The Reutlinger Community

The Reutlinger Community’s award-winning Art Program, “Discovering the Artist Within,” offers our residents an opportunity to create art within an encouraging, inspiring atmosphere. Betty Rothaus, our full-time Artist-in-Residence, offers residents individual guidance in bringing their unique visions to life.

“In our beautiful fine arts studio, our residents are able to express themselves through a variety of mediums, including sculpting, throwing pottery, working with jewelry or textiles, painting and so much more,” says Andrea. “Residents who’ve never picked up a paintbrush before work side-by-side with experienced artists to learn new skills, express themselves and simply have fun creating.”

Within a beautiful fine arts studio, residents who have never created art before, as well as experienced artists, enjoy learning new skills and expressing themselves through drawing, painting in oil, acrylic, pastels or watercolor, sculpting/pottery in clay, collage, textiles, jewelry and/or mixed media.  Each year, The Reutlinger Community hosts a variety of exhibitions showcasing the residents’ work, which are then printed into a yearly calendar.

“Our award-winning program has been heralded as one of the most outstanding Art Programs in the country,” says Andrea. “Most importantly to us, though, is that so many of our residents have found purpose, happiness and passion through our program, providing them an outlet to let their imaginations soar.”

For more information about artful living, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.  

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 in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated, 110,000-square-foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s 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.

6 Warning Signs Your Loved One’s Memory Loss Isn’t Just Forgetfulness

Is your senior loved one starting to be … well … forgetful? Have they started misplacing items and been unable to find them? Are they starting to call you by someone else’s name, or struggling to recall the name of a new friend? Do they walk into a room and forget why they did so? We can shrug these off as senior moments or the sign of a busy brain, but sometimes memory loss can be the sign of a bigger problem.

“An occasional lapse in memory is normal and to be expected as we get older,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Think about your own life: there are more than likely times when there are words on the tip of your tongue, or when you call your child by the dog’s name. That’s why it can be hard to know the difference between normal forgetfulness and memory loss that should be concerning.”

Andrea says that if memory problems are interfering with your loved one’s daily routines or day-to-day-tasks, or if you’re noticing them getting worse over time, it’s important to schedule a visit with their doctor to see what’s going on. “Frequent forgetfulness isn’t a normal part of aging, and indicates something’s wrong with your loved one,” she says.

Here are some warning signs that your loved one may be experiencing less-than-normal memory loss for their age:

Clue 1: Their memory loss disrupts their daily life.

Memory loss is the most common and most talked-about symptom of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. This can include forgetting important dates and events (like their wedding anniversary), repeating the same question over and over again or forgetting something they just did (like making dinner). A more subtle sign is relying more and more on memory aids and family members in order to accomplish normal tasks.

Clue 2: They’re having difficulty performing familiar tasks like balancing a checkbook.

Some individuals will suddenly begin to have problems in remembering how to solve problems or accomplish normal tasks, like making a favorite recipe or forgetting how to access their bank account. If your loved one is suddenly forgetting how to do something they’ve always known how to do, that’s a red flag.

Clue 3: They forget what day or time it is.

It’s possible you’ve experienced forgetting “when” it is (this is especially true if you’re wrapped up in something interesting, or if you’re on vacation). What’s uncommon, though, is forgetting what season it is or what month it is. People with serious memory loss can forget where they are in time, literally, and may be unable to know what day it is without looking at a physical calendar (and even then may have difficulty).

Clue 4: Losing or misplacing items and being unable to retrace their steps to find them again.

It’s easy to forget where you put your glasses or your car keys. What’s not normal is not knowing where to look for them, being completely unable to narrow down options of where they could be or starting to accuse other people of stealing or hiding items.

Clue 5: They can’t remember what to call familiar objects or forget common words.

Dementias like Alzheimer’s disease affect the brain in many ways, including the areas that deal with language. If your loved one is suddenly struggling with vocabulary, calling items by the wrong names (but something that could sound “close,” like “hand clock” for a watch) or literally forgetting they’re having a conversation while they’re having it, something is going on.

Clue 6: You’re worried about their memory loss – but they aren’t.

One of the biggest signs that something is wrong is if your loved one simply doesn’t see that they have a memory problem, or otherwise can’t tell that something is wrong. If you’re noticing that things are concerning, but your loved one believes everything’s fine, that’s a flashing red light that something needs to happen, quickly.

What Should You Do?

The very first step you and your loved one should take is to visit their primary physician to narrow down causes and determine what may be happening. While it’s very possible that the memory loss is due to a cognitive disease like dementia, there are many other reasons why your loved one might be experiencing memory loss.

“The thought of dementia is terrifying to so many people that they will hide signs of memory loss in the hope that it will get better or to keep others from noticing,” says Andrea. “This can end up backfiring, because there are causes of memory loss that can be reversed and cured – but your loved one won’t know unless you visit a doctor.”

Your loved one’s doctor will run some tests in the office and then, if necessary, refer your loved one to different specialists like a neurologist. They will also perform a physical and perform tests to rule out any alternate causes of the memory loss, such as:

  • Medication interaction
  • Infections (forgetfulness is a common side effect of UTIs in the elderly, especially for senior women)
  • A nutritional deficit
  • Untreated anxiety, grief or depression
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A variety of physical disorders

Tips for Helping Your Loved One Maintain Brain Health

Even if your loved one is experiencing memory loss, there are things you can do to help them prevent further memory loss or  improve their brain health.

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
  • Get plenty of exercise and make sure there’s a mix of aerobic exercise as well as some strength and resistance training.
  • Engage their mind with meaningful activities, puzzles and games or help them learn a new skill.
  • Get a full night’s sleep for seniors, that’s seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Remain socially active, because memory loss can be a sign of depression, which is exacerbated by becoming socially withdrawn.

No one likes to think that their loved one’s memory loss could be the sign of something more serious. However, by staying alert, looking for warning signs and staying on top of their health, you and your loved one will be better able to navigate cognitive changes in a positive and beneficial way.

For more information about determining when memory loss may be problematic, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

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 renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s 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.

5 Rules for New Dementia Caregivers

REUT-FlagA diagnosis of dementia is life-changing, both for the individual diagnosed and their caregiver. For many caregivers, this may be the first experience they’ve had with caregiving or even seeing what dementia is like up close and personal. It can be a daunting task, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.

“It’s okay to not know everything about caregiving when you start out,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “The dementia journey is different for every person, so there’s no one rule book that will lay out the ‘right way’ to be a caregiver.” The most important thing, she says, is to approach your role with an open mind, a positive yet realistic attitude and a thirst for knowledge.

“Dementia is a progressive disease, and one day can be completely different from the next in terms of your challenges and your loved one’s needs,” Andrea says. “Having the right attitude is essential to your success because it allows you to face and deal with the new normal and give you the tools you need to provide the best care for your loved one and yourself – now, and in the future.”

The 5 Rules for New Dementia Caregivers

While no one can know exactly what the future holds for you and your loved one, Andrea says there are five core rules that new dementia caregivers should take to heart. “Having these rules internalized and understood will give you an element of control as a caregiver, plus keep you from being completely surprised of overwhelmed when challenges occur.”

Rule #1: Learn as much as you can about the disease.
For example, did you know that the term “dementia” is a blanket term for a variety of cognitive disorders including (but not limited to) Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia? And did you know that each form of dementia can manifest and progress differently? If this is your first time experiencing the effects of dementia, researching the type of dementia your loved one has will give you a great foundation for understanding what’s happening now, what will happen in the future and how best to provide a safe, loving and secure care environment for your loved one.

Learning as much as you can about the disease as early as possible will help you better be prepared for the changes that are to come, says Andrea. While memory loss is a hallmark symptom of dementia, there are many other symptoms that will occur, such as the loss of physical abilities, mood swings, behavioral changes and others. Understanding that these symptoms – which can seem to occur suddenly – are an effect of the disease and not a part of your loved one’s personality will help you better work through them. Finally, having knowledge about the disease will enable you to be the best advocate for your loved one with medical professionals, family members and other caregivers.

Rule #2: Plan for the future.
There are lots of unknowns when it comes to dementia. The one sure thing, however, is that your loved one’s abilities will dwindle until they go away entirely. This is a sobering fact to reckon with and can be very hard for friends and family members to accept. However, knowing that the status quo will eventually change means that you and your loved one can be proactive about planning for the future. This involves financial and legal planning (getting affairs in order, issuing powers of attorney, setting up living wills, etc.) as well as determining care options (Will your loved one be cared for at home? Do you need to hire an in-home caregiver? What will happen when the needed care becomes too great for you to handle as a caregiver)? The earlier you can begin planning for the future, the more able your loved one will be able to provide input, share information and get their preferences and desires set down on paper.

Rule #3: Accept help.
Trying to take on every aspect of caregiving may seem valiant and selfless, but we’ll be frank – you’re setting yourself up for failure. The truth of the matter is that no one person can handle everything all the time by themselves. (Remember, even professional caregivers are allowed to take a break and go home after their shift ends.) Never be afraid to ask for help, and take advantage when friends and family reach out to ask what they can do. Sit down and figure out what tasks you can delegate, and what type of support would be most helpful to you when. For example, perhaps you’re not the greatest when it comes to managing financial matters, but your sister is a whiz at it. Or you have a retired neighbor who’s been a longtime friend of your loved one who’s willing to sit with them once or twice a week while you run errands. Look for opportunities in your community as well – your local Area Agency on Aging will have contacts with caregivers, nonprofit organizations and other resources that can help ease the burden of caregiving.

Rule #4: Be realistic.
Being realistic has two parts to it. First, you need to be realistic about what you can do and the assistance you can provide as a caregiver. There will be times when you slip up, become frustrated or otherwise act like the human being you are. Keeping in mind that you can only do what you can do, accepting your imperfection and making the most of each day will help you be kind to yourself – and the best caregiver possible.

The second part of being realistic is understanding how the disease progresses and what is going to happen in the future. Your loved one will never be able to regain the abilities they lose, and eventually he or she will need more assistance than you can provide on your own. Knowing what’s ahead doesn’t mean that you’re ‘giving up’ or a bad person – it actually means you’re providing the most thoughtful, compassionate assistance possible. 

Rule #5: Care for yourself as well as your loved one.
The majority of caregivers report experiencing extreme stress and anxiety due to their role. Left unchecked, this stress can lead to caregiver burnout, which is a serious condition that can cause real, severe health issues. In order to be a good caregiver, you have to first make sure you’re caring for your needs. It’s the old airplane analogy: you need to make sure your oxygen mask is in place before assisting others. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and find ways to do nice things for yourself on a regular basis. Remember, you are a whole person outside of your role as a caregiver, and it’s important for you to nurture all aspects of your life. Staying socially connected and finding joy where you can will allow you to refocus, refresh and be ready to handle caregiving with a positive, caring attitude.

For more information about being a dementia caregiver, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

The Reutlinger Community’s mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.

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 senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

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

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

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

Understanding About the Aging Process for Parents: Part 1 of 4

It’s probably happened to you already. You’ve been with mom or dad, spending time with them when suddenly you think to yourself, “Oh my gosh … they’re old.” While this realization may seem to have come out of nowhere, once the lightbulb has gone off, you will probably start thinking about different events and interactions in a new light. Perhaps you’ve brushed off the gray hair as distinguished, or told yourself those wrinkles have always been there.

The sudden understanding that you have aging parents can be jarring to adult children, no matter how much you may have prepared for it mentally. “This can be a challenging time for many, because roles are beginning to shift,” says Andrea Campisi of The Reutlinger. “Parents are entering a stage of life where they may need to be ‘parented,’ and adult children will have to balance their conflicting feelings about supporting their parents and understanding this new phase of life.

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

The Science of Aging

When you think of aging, what springs to mind? For many it’s, gray hair, wrinkles, walkers and dentures. Others may immediately think of retirement, aching joints and afternoon naps. Whatever it means to you specifically, we can all agree that aging is the wear and tear that happens to our bodies the longer we live. While aging happens to all living things, it’s actually one of nature’s least understood processes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure about why we age and what causes it. One theory is the “cellular clock,” which revolves around the fact that we age because our cells have maxed out their ability to reproduce and simply wear out. Another theory focuses on “free radicals,” which states that when cells encounter a radical (basically an unstable atom), the radical causes the cell to self-destruct. As more and more cells become damaged, we age.

No matter what the underlying reason is, we do age, meaning we have to adjust our perceptions of what we can do, how we can stay healthy and – on a psychological level – re-define who we are.

When Do We Start Aging?

Age-related changes don’t happen to everyone at the same time. You probably know of individuals who look old before their time, or know of 70-year-olds who could pass for 40. Aging is an individualized process, and depends on a variety of factors, such as:

  • Overall health
  • Environment
  • Culture
  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Activity levels

While we think of “aging” as happening in our 50s or 60s, changes start happening to our bodies as early as age 30. According to researchers, bodies lose about 1% of their functioning every year after age 30, but we’re usually able to “roll with the changes” so we don’t feel them (unless there’s an underlying disease or illness involved). And while there’s an element of “loss” involved, we should actually look at aging as a “life-saving process,” according to Kenneth Minaker, MD, chief of geriatric medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Aging … is a process of lifelong adaptation to prevent us from developing cancers that would kill us,” he says.

It’s incredibly important, as we or our loved ones age, to understand what “normal aging” looks like versus symptoms that point to something more serious. It’s easy to chalk up a loved one’s symptoms to “that’s just what happens when you get old” when it’s actually an issue that could be controlled or even reversed.

What Normal Aging Looks Like

So what does normal aging – and abnormal aging – look like? Here are some of the most common changes that take place for seniors, as well as some watch-fors that may denote a more serious problem:

  • Reduced vision. By around the age of 40, the lenses of our eyes start to stiffen, which makes it more difficult to adjust and refocus between near- and long-distance vision. Cataracts begin to develop, too, usually around the age of 60 or 65. But while reading glasses become a part of daily life, vision loss or blurred vision shouldn’t be. Issues like glaucoma, macular degeneration and others can pop up at this time and can result in permanent damage if not addressed early on.
  • Loss of hearing. Just as our eyes start to fail, our ears start to become less sensitive to high-pitched and muffled sounds due to the hardening of sound receptors. However, if pain is present, or if one ear is significantly worse than the other, this could be an indication of a deeper problem.
  • Loss of stamina and strength. Our bodies begin to lose muscle tissue as we age, which makes stretching and weight training a must in order to retain abilities. Other parts of our bodies begin to change as well, such as our heart walls thickening, the stiffening of arteries and a slowing heart rate. While dad no longer running marathons shouldn’t be a cause for worry, a check-up is necessary if dizziness, nausea, fainting or chest pain start to present.
  • Heightened blood pressure. The changes taking place in our bodies make us more vulnerable to medical issues such as hypertension and high blood pressure. More than half of people over the age of 60 have high blood pressure, so maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a low-sodium diet is key to healthy aging.
  • Memory loss. This is, for most people, the biggest indicator of age. Also known as “senior moments,” it happens when we forget the names of people we’ve known forever or when we can’t remember where we placed our keys. But don’t worry – there’s no need to fret about these momentary lapses, unless it’s starting to negatively affect daily life. The ability to process information starts to slow as we age, and seniors have difficulty multitasking. However, if mom or dad is having difficulty learning and retaining information or losing the ability to recognize objects, it’s best to get a checkup to see if it could be something more serious like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on the aging process and tips on what’s normal (and what’s not), please contact our team at The Reutlinger. We would love to speak with you and find out how we can make this transition as smooth and easy as possible for you and your aging parents.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

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

rehabilitation, The Reutlinger provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger’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 Benefit of a Smaller Care Team to Resident Ratio in Memory Care

When considering a memory care community for a loved one with memory loss, it’s important to realize that the environment they are in could make all the difference in their care and experience. When you and your loved one are touring a memory care community, consider the lifestyle and care you’d like your loved one to receive. Do you want them to be in a memory care community that is small, close-knit and feels like home? Would it be easier for them to navigate, lessen their anxiety about moving and give you peace of mind knowing their care team knows exactly who they are by name? Often, this is the difference between a memory care community where your loved one thrives and one that is owned by a company whose bottom line is to make money. That’s not what your loved one deserves when they make a move. They deserve personalized attention, care plans tailored to their specific needs and the comfort and peace of mind of a small care team dedicated to caring for them.

According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing Director at The Reutlinger Community, an assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation community in Danville, CA, seniors and their families should choose a community where their loved one isn’t just a number. “While no one intends on choosing a memory care community that their loved one doesn’t excel in, it’s important to consider which communities you tour will be dedicated to caring for your loved one just as you would,” says Andrea. “Does the care team seem particularly close to their residents? Do they converse with one another like they are old friends or do they appear distant and as if they don’t know each other well? If the latter is the case, it could be a sign that their care teams are either large and don’t know the residents on a personal level, or it could mean that the residents simply aren’t comfortable with their care team. This is a big red flag, as care is one of the main reasons many families consider making a move to a memory care community. If you notice this, it might be a good idea to consider choosing a different option.”

The Benefits of Smaller Care Teams in Memory Care

It’s often true that the benefits of a smaller care team far outweigh those of larger memory care communities. Consider some of the following benefits that those in memory care often experience as a result. 

  • Personalized care plans. When the care teams in a memory care community are smaller, the team gets to know your loved one better. From their preferences and what helps to ease the symptoms of their memory loss to their treasured memories and past experiences that help them reconnect with who they are, the care team is able to create a plan all around what is best for your loved one while providing them with the care they desire. 
  • The benefit of knowing who is caring for you. The more your loved one sees their care team, the better they are able to get to know them. This enhances the comfort your loved one feels with them and decreases the likelihood they will view them as a stranger that is trying to harm them.
  • Close bonds and relationships. Because the same people will be caring for your loved one each day, both of you will be able to form close bonds and relationships with their care team. You will get to know about their hobbies, families and who they are as a person, just as they will get to know these things about you. This can be beneficial, as it can help to enhance their care plans and allow them a more complete look at who your loved one was and still is.
  • Peace of mind of knowing who to contact. Have a question or want to check in to see how your loved one is doing? Smaller care teams mean that you will likely know exactly who to call. Not only this, but they will know how your loved one is, what they are doing and will all be able to tell you exactly what you want to know, unlike larger care teams where people will go in and out and may not care for your loved one on a day to day basis.
  • Enhanced programming recommendations. When your loved one opens up to their care team, it allows them to gain a point of view that many larger care teams don’t. By simply talking with your loved one, their care team can learn their hobbies, passions, past jobs and what things they love to do. This helps them suggest programs your loved one may be interested in, can help engage them or even cause them to reconnect with their pasts. If they don’t have programming that meets your loved one’s interests, they may even be able to create it.

For more information about how a smaller care team can benefit those with memory loss, or to learn more about the person-centered care provided at The Reutlinger Community, feel free to contact our community. We would love to share our approach to care with you while giving you a look into how we care for residents like they are our own family. Simply contact us today to schedule your personal tour.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, The Reutlinger provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger’s newly renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s 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.

Why You Shouldn’t Choose Memory Care That’s One-Size-Fits-All

When it’s time to choose a memory care community, it’s important to realize that everyone is different. No one has the same experiences, preferences or tastes. No one shares all the same hobbies, talents or skills. People are unique, and that’s one of the reasons the world is so great. If people aren’t one-size-fits-all, why should your memory care be? Choosing memory care that’s as unique as you are and takes each individual senior into account is one of the best ways to ensure seniors choose the memory care community that’s right for them.

According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing Director at The Reutlinger Community, an assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation community in Danville, CA, many seniors and their families look for the same types of attributes in a memory care community. “Before ever touring, we have an idea in our head about what it is we are looking for. We want it to look appealing, we want there to be a variety of programs and we want the care we need to have the lifestyle we deserve,” said Andrea. “The issue is that we often just visit and tour the community and check these items off the list without looking into it further. The community may be beautiful, the residents may look happy and there may be plenty of programs and a great care plan, but just how personalized is it really? Don’t just check items off the list, this decision is much bigger than that.”

5 Reasons Memory Care Shouldn’t Be One-Size-Fits-All

When you or a loved one are looking into a memory care community, make a list of things you are personally looking for. Consider some of the following:

 

  • Location. If you love being immersed in nature and beautiful surroundings, you wouldn’t choose a memory care community located in the middle of a city just as you wouldn’t move to one in the country if you love hearing the bustle and excitement of the city. Keep in mind that the community you choose doesn’t usually impact outings, as many plan specific trips to local museums and attractions. Be sure to ask for some examples of trips the community has gone on to gauge whether or not you’d be interested. If you or a loved one like to watch sports or go to the theater, see if that’s an option. Being specific about what you are looking for isn’t a bad thing when choosing memory care.

 

  • Person-centered care. Memory loss can impact seniors in a number of different ways and no diagnosis is exactly the same. This makes it crucial for seniors to receive resident-centered care according to their own specific needs and disease. When touring a community, talk to the staff about who will care for you or your loved one, if they will be their dedicated team and if personal care plans are created and agreed upon. It can help to meet with the staff and ask specific questions you have as well.

 

  • Programs and activities. Make a list of things you love to do. If you love to paint, read, garden or exercise, make sure the community has programs that can accommodate this. Have a specific skill or talent you want to share but there’s no club or program available? See if one can be started. It’s important for seniors to have access to activities they love, especially when they have memory loss, because these activities can often entice them to remember past events and connect with who they were. It’s also important to see if the community offers any special programming, like sensory-based therapies and activities that can help soothe those with memory loss while engaging their minds.

 

  • Dining. Do you or a loved one have dietary restrictions or need adaptations in order to make dining easier? Make sure these can be accommodated at the memory care community you choose. Because not everyone has the same preferences, it can also help to make sure the community offers meals throughout different times of the day and healthy snacks and beverages at all times. Try to make sure meals can be tailored to meet their preferences, as well and that there is plenty of choice and variety.

Choosing the wrong memory care community for you can lead to dissatisfaction, isolation and depression. This can make for a costly move down the road and even more disruption in you or a loved one’s daily life. Choosing a community that’s not one-size-fits-all in the first place can help to decrease the likelihood of this and ensure your loved one has access to the engaging, exciting lifestyle and high level of care they deserve.

For more information on choosing a memory care community, or to take a tour of The Reutlinger to see how our resident-centered approach to care and activities can benefit yourself or a loved one, contact us today. We’d be happy to show you how our residents live more engaged, fulfilled and connected lives as a result of a far-from-cookie-cutter lifestyle.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering assisted living, enhanced assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, The Reutlinger provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger’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.