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10 Dementia-Friendly Springtime Activities

Spring is normally the time of year when we get excited to be outside enjoying the weather and airing out the home following a cold and dusty winter. If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, you may be wondering what you can do to keep him or her active during the transition in weather.

“Activities are incredibly important for individuals with dementia because it helps keep them engaged, fulfilled and interested,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “However, when planning outings this spring for your loved one with dementia, it is even more important to be alert, be aware and choose safe options that will keep them healthy.”

Here are some of our springtime ideas for fun and festivities.

  1. Do some gardening. Gardening is a wonderful activity for dementia patients because it combines light exercise with dexterity activities and total sensory stimulation. You and your loved one can work at weeding out flower beds, planting seedlings and other light chores. Be sure that the activity isn’t too strenuous. You can purchase some dementia-friendly gardening tools that will allow your senior loved one to participate safely.
  2. Take a walk. A short walk around the block is a great form of exercise. Be sure your loved one has appropriate footwear to avoid falls. You can take a walk around the neighborhood or head to a nearby park for a change of scenery – whatever’s easiest.
  3. Become a birdwatcher. Put a birdfeeder outside your loved one’s window or on the patio. Grab your tablet (or go old-school with a birdwatching book) and look up the feathered friends who come to visit.
  4. Sit in the sun. Even just sitting outside for 15 minutes can help with circadian rhythms, improve mood, boost spirits, reduce stress and more. Spend some time outside reading a book or simply enjoying the feel of the sun on your face. Being outside stimulates all the senses with sounds, smells and feels, which can help with cognitive issues.
  5. Pack a picnic. Get some carry-out (or pick up some sandwiches from the grocery store) and have a picnic in the park – or your backyard!
  6. Arrange a beautiful bouquet. How does your garden grow? If you have plants sprouting in your yard and garden, clip some of the most beautiful blooms and arrange them in vases around the house. If you’d like to do a more in-depth activity, purchase flowers from the grocery store or market and spend an afternoon creating floral masterpieces with your loved one. When you’re done, you can deliver the bouquets to friends and family memes who might enjoy a little cheer.
  7. Paint flower pots. Gardening doesn’t have to only be done indoors. Container gardening is very popular, and provides an opportunity to create fun, unique flower pots. Purchase some terracotta pots and acrylic paint and design pretty pots that you can plant herbs, vegetables or flowers in.
  8. Spring clean your home. While spring cleaning may not immediately signal “fun activity” for you, it’s an excellent opportunity to engage your loved one and give them the chance to feel useful. Choose tasks that are simple enough and within their abilities (dusting, sorting, etc).
  9. Cook a new dish. All sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables are in season during spring. Get inspired in the kitchen to create new, seasonally inspired dishes. Cooking is a great activity for individuals with dementia, and you may end up learning some new tips and techniques, too.
  10. Plant an indoor herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow indoors and add a zing to any springtime dish. Choose hardy plants like basil, thyme, oregano, chives and rosemary, and your kitchen will smell like a fine restaurant all season long.

For more information about dementia-friendly springtime activities, 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.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Community for Your Senior Loved One

Have you noticed that your senior loved one has been needing a little more help than usual these days? Maybe he or she is having trouble navigating the stairs, or has had some falls recently. Perhaps you’ve noticed that their home is not quite as clean as it used to be, or you’ve noticed expired food in the refrigerator or the house just seems a little run-down. Or maybe your loved one has been complaining about all the work that owning a house entails, and that they’d really like to step back from that and spend their time as they wish.

This may mean that assisted living would be a good choice for your senior loved one, says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “The family home that your loved one lives in isn’t always the best choice as they get older,” she says. “In order to live safely, he or she may need to make costly renovations. But that’s not all. Home upkeep, grocery shopping and staying social are all things that are necessary for a comfortable life … and that can simply be hard to do when you live on your own.”

As an adult child or relative of a senior, you may be concerned – and rightly so – about your loved one’s safety, both now and in the future. Your loved one may have health issues that are becoming more severe, and you aren’t sure how he or she will manage if things get any worse. Fortunately, there is a solution: assisted living.

“Moving into assisted living is something to be celebrated these days,” says Andrea. “Today’s senior living communities are worlds removed from the ‘homes’ of old – in fact, many adult children of our residents joke that they wish they could move into our community. Today’s communities are built around the idea of providing support and giving residents as much independence as possible. Moving to an Assisted Living community like The Reutlinger Community allows older adults to enjoy their golden years in peace, knowing that they will always receive as much or as little care as they want and need.”

Tips for Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community

No two assisted living communities are created equal, which is why it’s important for you and your loved one to do your research and carefully weigh the options in order to find the best fit. Andrea suggests starting the process as soon as you possibly can – it’s a lot easier to make an informed choice and move before it becomes necessary. “Oftentimes, people will wait until there’s been an incident, like a fall or a health scare, to move into an assisted living community. That’s not really the best way to do things, because it causes a lot of stress, quick decisions and a ‘good enough’ solution. By giving yourself time to research options and be thoughtful, you and your loved one can choose the best solution possible and provide a good foundation for this next chapter of life.”

Make a list of needs and wants.

The first step before you begin looking for a community is to sit down and write a list of all the needs your loved one has, as well as what they want in a community. “Needs” should include all the health-related and care-related issues that should be addressed. “Wants” are things like dining options, apartment sizes and styles, community location and the like. Having these lists will help you narrow down options and make informed decisions.

Ask for advice.

Do you have friends or family members who’ve placed loved ones in assisted living? Does your loved one’s physician have any recommendations? Ask around both in-person and online to get firsthand information of what the process is like and what places others would recommend. You can also connect with your local Area Agency on Aging to gather information and look for options.

Look at cost.

The price tag is often the most important issue facing those who go into assisted living communities. The cost depends on many factors. Some places charge a community fee and a monthly rental fee, while others work on a month-by-month basis. Some communities will have an all-inclusive rate, while others do more of an add-on type of approach. You will need to take a look at your loved one’s finances and determine what is a reasonable cost for his or her lifestyle and needs.

Research care levels.

What will happen if your loved one requires more care than he or she currently needs? Are there options for higher levels of care on-campus, or would it be necessary for your loved one to move if they require memory care or skilled nursing? Progressive care is offered at some communities and not at others; there are benefits to both styles. You and your loved one should discuss what options will work best.

Take a look at the lifestyle offered.

Obviously, assistance is the biggest benefit to moving into assisted living. But another significant benefit is the social life and activities available. There are many seniors who move to assisted living not because they need the help, but because they want to be part of a community and do things. Talk with your loved one to see what opportunities they’d like to see, and choose communities that offer the lifestyle they’re looking for.

Tour each community on your list.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to the top two or three communities, schedule on-site tours to get a feel for what life there is like and learn more information. You may wish to tour a community more than once – in fact, we recommend touring several times, at different times of the day. This will help you get a full picture of what life is like at that particular community.

Moving into an assisted living community is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be something that’s stressful or sad. In fact, your loved one may say something we hear so often at The Reutlinger Community: “I wish I’d moved here sooner!”

For more information about how to choose an assisted living community 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.

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.