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How Exercise and Physical Activity Can Help Those Living with Alzheimer’s

We’ve known for a long time that getting a good workout can help reduce the risk of developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Now, we’re discovering evidence that exercise can also benefit people who have already been diagnosed with dementia – perhaps even slowing down or reversing the disease’s progression.

“Having exercise and physical activity as part of a care plan for individuals with dementia can greatly improve their functioning and quality of life,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “This is great news, as it’s much less invasive and has fewer side effects then medications – plus, it can be completely free. Knowing that there is a natural way that is proven to help with the symptoms of dementias such as Alzheimer’s make physical activity a vital tool in any treatment plan.”

What are the benefits of exercise for individuals with Alzheimer’s? Here are some symptoms related to the disease that regular physical activity may help improve.

Coordination and balance.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks all aspects of the brain, meaning that as it progresses, it affects an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks and even walk. In order to help maintain as much independence and the best quality of life possible, it’s essential to practice coordination, balance and strength. After all, falls and complications from them are a huge factor in hospitalizations for seniors (and more so for people with Alzheimer’s). Practicing balance and coordination can help the body retain those abilities and turn what could be a nasty fall into a quickly-corrected bobble. Some examples of good exercises include chair yoga (a safe and easy way to build core and muscle strength), free weights (as long as they are supervised), leg and arm raises, and others.

Depression.

Depression affects many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It can stem from just about anything: side effects, boredom, unhappiness or not feeling well. And unfortunately, it becomes a vicious cycle. People who are depressed have less energy to do things, have less desire to participate in activities and social events and even have a higher incidence of memory loss. Being physically active, on the other hand, provides a natural boost of endorphins and other hormones that are perfectly designed to boost mood and memory. Individuals with dementia who exercise on a regular basis have a higher quality of life, a better outlook, fewer disruptive behaviors and can even have improved memory. Some great exercises to combat depression are group exercises (like water aerobics or even taking a short walk with a friend – this gets you physically active and stimulates you socially) or a fun activity that’s also a form of exercise, like gardening or dancing.

Cardiovascular issues.

Cardiovascular health and brain health have long been linked. Because our brains run on oxygenated blood, and our cardiovascular system is the transit through which it’s transported, it should come as no surprise that poor cardiovascular health can lead to increased complications due to Alzheimer’s. Anything that restricts blood flow to the brain can cause damage in the fragile organ, and also leads to other health difficulties. Doctors recommend that aerobic activity be worked into any exercise regimen (be sure to chat with doctors about how much exercise your loved one with Alzheimer’s can handle). Some options you can try are riding a stationary bike or taking walks either outside or on a treadmill.

Disruptive behaviors.

Some of the most challenging behaviors of Alzheimer’s can potentially be reduced with a regular exercise regimen. The two biggest symptoms it can help reduce are wandering and restlessness. After a good bout of exercise, we tend to feel more relaxed and have less nervous energy, and this holds true for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Exercise can help them expend their energy in a healthy way, leave them more rested and allow them to sleep better at night. This same principle applies to wandering – if the person feels calm and relaxed, they have less desire to wander away for whatever reason.

Cognitive decline.

Can exercise reverse the mental decline of Alzheimer’s? While it’s by no means a magic pill, studies have shown that regular exercise can help improve cognitive function in individuals in a mild stage of the disease. People who have mid- and late-stage dementia haven’t shown as much improvement in cognitive decline, but it has been shown to improve selective functions, regardless of what stage of Alzheimer’s an individual is in. Regular exercise can help enhance an individual’s attention through a series of repetitive motions. Seniors also get the benefit of getting their energy out, improving their mood and their physical health and also improving their balance and coordination. Even if exercise doesn’t improve or reverse a senior’s cognitive decline, it can perhaps help them retain their remaining abilities for as long as possible.

Sleep issues.

Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to having a high quality of life. Not getting enough zzz’s makes an individual depressed, fatigued, clumsy, irritated and angry, forgetful and even physically ill. By contrast, a person who’s well-rested and has good sleep habits can function at a higher level, has more energy and has a better attitude all around. Regular exercise can help keep a senior with Alzheimer’s on a more regular sleep schedule, much in the same way exercise helps calm disruptive behaviors. It can help expel extra energy, provide that boost of endorphins and provide a sense of relaxation and accomplishment. Pair that with good sleep hygiene and you’ve got a recipe for a well-rested senior.

It can feel difficult to fit yet another thing into your busy day if you’re caregiving a senior with Alzheimer’s. However, getting regular exercise will help them – and you – to live a happier, healthier life. Join in some exercise with your loved one to reap the benefits yourself, and you may be surprised at how quickly your life can change for the better.

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

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

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

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

Creative and Meaningful Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Dementia causes cognitive and physical function to decline, but seniors living with this disease still retain abilities that should be used and celebrated. In fact, studies have shown that when individuals with dementia continue to use their remaining abilities, it helps them stay at their activity level longer and can even help slow their decline. The key is finding purposeful activities that accomplish something for the individual, whether that’s building self-esteem, providing a purpose or simply being entertained.

“Activities can include everything from arts and crafts to outings and events to everyday tasks,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “As you’re coming up with ideas for activities for your loved one, think about adapting favorite hobbies and daily tasks so that your senior can maintain a sense of accomplishment and independence. This type of validation helps provide confidence, a self-esteem boost and better overall well-being.”

Why Meaningful Activities Are So Important

They can help slow the decline of dementia. Our abilities, no matter how able-bodied we are, are very much “use it or lose it.” If we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy. If we don’t continue to practice a hobby, we may lose our aptitude. And if we don’t use our brains and mental acuity, cognitive functioning can decline. This makes it even more imperative for individuals with dementia to find meaning in daily life and tasks as much as possible. Although caregivers and loved ones may rush to help loved ones, they may inadvertently be causing more harm than good. Our loved ones can still do many things – it just may take them longer and may get done in a different manner than before.

They provide a structure to daily life. A daily routine helps people with dementia feel safe, secure and confident. Scheduling meaningful activities on a regular basis (especially if it’s something you end up doing day after day) will provide structure and predictability, and will perhaps be something your loved one can look forward to.

They give individuals a sense of productivity and self-worth. People with dementia are aware of their inabilities and being unable to do the things they always loved to do. By providing tasks and activities for them to do or help with, it can provide them with a purpose and make them feel a part of daily life and not just a burden to you. This is a great boost to their sense of self-worth and boosts their moods, improves their health overall and provides a better quality of life.

They can reduce challenging behaviors. Aggression, agitation, repetition and other disruptive behaviors are common symptoms of dementia. These symptoms can become worse if individuals with dementia are bored or simply don’t have enough to do. Providing meaningful and creative activities will keep them occupied and engaged, plus give them opportunities to use their energy in a productive manner.

Examples of Meaningful, Creative Activities

Meaningful means different things to each of us, so as you’re coming up with activities and tasks for your loved one, think about what they used to do in the past or a favorite hobby. Adapting familiar activities and hobbies to allow them to once again participate will be incredibly meaningful. Here are a few ideas of how to creatively engage and entertain your loved one with dementia.

Engage them in homemaking activities. Taking care of a home may have been a big part of your loved one’s life prior to the dementia diagnosis. See what tasks can be adapted so that your loved one can help out. She might enjoy helping to set the table, folding laundry or provide assistance in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter how big or small the task is – the point is to get them doing something familiar.

Use music to reach out. Music is a great way to connect with your loved one and evoke memories, emotions and feelings. Music has actually been shown to be an effective therapy in helping unlock parts of the brain that remain unaffected by dementia, helping those with the disease to communicate and share memories. Play music from your loved one’s favorite era, and sing along or dance to the radio. If your loved one was a musician, perhaps their favorite musical instrument will encourage them to play.

Create a work of art. Sculptable clay, markers, watercolor paints or simple paper and pencils can be a creative outlet your loved one can enjoy for hours. Gather all the materials you need and lay them out on a table so your loved one can easily see and request what they want. You can either do a directed activity (like making a vase or painting a picture of a flower) or let your loved one go free-form. This is a fun activity to do together, and it makes it easy for you to show how to use the items if your loved one needs a little push.

Go outside. Being in nature is a delight for all the senses. Take your loved one on a walk or stroll through a nearby arboretum to enjoy the sights, smells, sounds and feels of the world around them. Another fun activity is to create a garden together. Your loved one may enjoy helping you plant seeds, arrange flowers, weed the beds and watching their labor blossom. Vegetable gardens are an all-time favorite, as the products can be harvested and then used to create delicious dishes (which your loved one can help prepare as well).

Watch old family videos or look through scrapbooks. Looking at pictures of your shared history allows you to talk about your memories and can even jog recognition in your loved one’s brain. If your loved one is in a good frame of mind, you can ask questions about their childhood and inquire about different people in the pictures or videos.

“Providing creative and meaningful activities for your loved one will not only help them live a better quality of life, but will also help nurture and deepen your relationship with them,” says Andrea. “Even though their memories may be fading, there are still opportunities for you to have happy moments together and create memories. Use your imagination and your knowledge of your loved one, and you’ll find yourself with a variety of activities to do, experience and enjoy together.”

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

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

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

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

Roots & Wings: Talking to Your Children About Dementia (Part 3 of 4)

The philosophy of Roots and Wings is a dual approach of building a sense of tradition and looking to the future. In this four part series, we explore different ways for seniors to share roots and wings with their children, grandchildren and other loved ones. From passing on traditions to building a legacy to helping shape a stable future, there are many ways you can build meaningful moments that will have echoes far into the future.  

“What’s wrong with Grandma?”

“Why is Grandpa acting that way?”

“Did I do something to make Uncle Joe mad at me?”

Accepting the reality and difficulty of dementia can be hard enough for adults. For children, it can be a confusing and sometimes scary change to a person they love. As a parent, you may be torn about what to do. You know it’s important that your child and their grandparent spend time together, but what’s the best way to explain to your child what’s going on?

“Many parents struggle with how to help their children understand dementia and what it means for their senior loved one,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “But kids are smarter and more flexible than we give them credit for. They will notice that something different is going on with Grandma or Grandpa, and by informing them in an age-appropriate way what is going on, you’ll give them the tools and the knowledge to help them continue to build a relationship with your loved one through this journey.”

1. Be honest about the situation.
Kids, just like anyone else, don’t like to be lied to or left out of important things. So it’s important to be honest with them, within reason, about what’s happening to their loved one and what to expect moving forward. Experts recommend starting off with some questions to determine how much your kids have noticed or understood. Explain to them that your senior loved one is sick, and that the disease is affecting their brain, which is why they have been acting differently. You’ll also want to let them know that your loved one will never get “better,” but that it will still be possible to have a relationship with them, even though things will change.

2. Give them space to process and let them know there are no silly questions.
Seeing a loved one change is sad, and kids need time to process their grief in their own way. Encourage them to ask any questions they may have, and let them know there are no silly questions. You may want to visit the National Institute on Aging page, which has some excellent tips and tools for having an ongoing discussion with your children about dementia. Helping your kids understand what’s going on will make this disease less scary and help them know what to expect. At the same time, let them know that it’s okay if they’re afraid and that it’s a natural feeling – it’s a scary thought to think about losing your memories.

3. Explain that their loved one will do and say things that seem strange.
We always tell our kids not to lie, so the idea of “going with the flow” when a loved one is in their own reality can be a bit of a head-scratcher. One option is to explain that it’s like your loved one is playing make believe (just not on purpose), and that you can go along with it like it’s a game. For older children who can understand more of what’s going on, let them know that going along with their loved one’s delusions is actually a kind thing to do, and that trying to bring them back to “reality” can actually be hurtful.

4. Remind them that it’s the disease talking, not their loved one
Dementia causes our loved ones to react in very strange and sometimes upsetting ways. Whenever possible, remind your kids (and yourself) that Grandma or Grandpa is reacting that way because they’re sick and because of the disease – it’s not anything the child did or you said. In their hearts, they are still the same person you love and know.

5. Plan conversations and activities in advance.
Before you visit a loved one with dementia, sit down with your children and think about different conversations they could start with the senior, as well as fun things they could do together. Activities are a great way to spend time together and can help get over the awkwardness of not being able to carry on a “normal” conversation.”

Prompt your children to lead the conversations with their loved ones. Luckily, kids like talking about themselves and what they’re doing, and their excitement can get the person with dementia excited and happy, too. Your child can tell Grandma or Grandpa about what they’re doing in school, or the party they attended over the weekend, or the fun plans they have for summer vacation.

The activities that kids enjoy doing are, coincidentally, great activities to do with someone who has dementia. Here are a few ideas of things your kids and your loved one can do during a visit:

  • Listen to favorite music
  • Coloring together
  • Putting together a puzzle
  • Doing a craft, like flower arranging or making seasonal decorations
  • Singing songs together

While watching your loved one with dementia can be sad, remind your children that they still can have a good time together and there are still lots of things they can learn from them.

For more information about talking to kids about dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s® kids and teens web page, or contact our community at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

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

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

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

Roots & Wings: How to Have a Successful Visit with a Loved One (Part 2 of 4)

The philosophy of Roots and Wings is a dual approach of building both a sense of tradition and looking to the future. In part one of this four-part series, we explored different ways for seniors to share roots and wings with their grandchildren. In part two, we will focus on how loved ones can carry on traditions and look forward even when a senior parent or grandparent has dementia.

When someone you care about has dementia, spending time with them can be difficult at first. It’s hard to know how to react and interact with them, particularly as they progress into different stages of the disease and the person you remember transforms into someone you might not recognize.

“We can never say this enough: it’s important to remember that the changes your loved one experiences are due to the disease and are not their fault,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “While we can recognize this on a logistical level, it can be hard to remember this on an emotional level. But if you can adjust your thinking so that you realize these are symptoms of a disease, much like low blood sugar levels are a symptom of diabetes, you may find that it’s easier to interact with your loved one in a meaningful way.”

To help you do this, we’ve put together these tips for a successful visit with your loved one. 

1. Adjust to your loved one’s reality.
It’s completely natural to want to try and bring our loved ones into the “real world” when they’re experiencing a delusion or misremembering facts. But this is a counterintuitive approach, because it will only cause agitation and frustration for both parties. Instead, be open and adjust your perspective to live “in their world.” Dementia care specialist Vivian Green Korner states that “Conversations may become less intellect-to-intellect and more emotion-to-emotion.”

2. Be present in the moment and use prompts.
Visiting a loved one with dementia is all about engagement. Professionals who work with residents will tell you that living in the moment is one of the best ways to connect. For example, instead of asking, “what have you been doing, Mom?” (which she may or may not remember), comment on your surroundings or give her a compliment (“the colors of those flowers are lovely” or “your hair looks very pretty today”). Concrete objects, like nature, pictures and other items around you can be an entryway into a conversation. Consider bringing something with you to the visit – like a favorite book, toy, treat or photo – to prompt a conversation.

3. Use touch and eye contact to connect.
Nonverbal communication is our most powerful communication tool – even individuals in the later stages of dementia can react to a kind touch or a soothing tone. Smile at your loved one and look them in the eyes to show them they are important and to engage their attention. Holding their hand, patting their back or gently touching a knee can all communicate caring and security, and can help your loved one remain happy and calm.

4. Help your loved one feel comfortable with their memory loss.
It is very frustrating for people with dementia to lose their abilities and memory. Oftentimes, this results in anger, outbursts and other disruptive behavior. Your loved one may also be able to express, verbally, how hard it is to keep forgetting things, particularly in the early stages of the disease. This can be awkward for visiting friends and family members because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. Instead of trying to ignore it, validate your loved one’s feeling and empathize (you can even say that you have the same issue with forgetting things – who hasn’t had a hard time recalling an event?). If your loved one is reminiscing and getting details of a story wrong, don’t interrupt or correct. Just go with it. Being empathetic and making memory loss a “normal” thing will help you and your loved one accept this new reality.

5. Be kind and don’t judge your loved one (or yourself) too harshly.
People with dementia have good days and bad days (don’t we all?), and since the disease is progressive, it’s inevitable that you will watch your loved one’s abilities decrease over time. It’s hard, but try not to compare how they are now with how they were. It’s possible that your visit may not go as planned, or it could end up being a bit of a disaster. On the other hand, you could have a perfectly lovely visit with a loved one who seems “with it” because they’re simply having a good day.

It’s easy to think “I should do/say/think this” and beat yourself up over how you acted or didn’t act. We’re our own worst critics, after all. But just as you’re giving your loved one grace and understanding, be sure to do the same for yourself. Showing understanding and caring to everyone in your circle will help you and your senior loved one with dementia bond, nurture your relationship and have good days together.

For more information about our community, our culture and our mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.

Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care

Offering Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s newly renovated, 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.

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

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

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

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.

Spring Awakens the Body and Mind – Keys to Successful Aging

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 and movement is more important than ever.

A physical activity program geared to 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.

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.

A senior living community such as The Reutlinger, that offers multiple levels of care, is perfect in being able to tailor exercise opportunities to a wide-range of residents.

The stimulation of our mind is also of great importance as we age. We want to be sure that we keep learning, stay interested in life, and create.

Listen to music. Music is a language that can express the inexpressible. The emotional and spiritual effects of music can be profound. Happy music can lift us up, and calm music can relax us.

Paint. Spring is a time when nature begins to reveal new colors. So why not work with some colors of your own. Take some time to paint something you find beautiful be it a landscape, a still life or the people around you.

Meditate or pray. Meditation and prayer can have a powerful effect on a person’s spirit whether they are looking to simply appreciate life more or connect to something greater. Psychologists say that meditation and prayer reduce the stress of daily life, helps a person’s sense of self-control and even makes them more pleasant to be around.

At The Reutlinger Community, our residents find comfort from our onsite spiritual leader, self-expression in our Discovering the Artist Within program, joy through music therapy, and lovely grounds to awaken their senses. For more information call Andrea Campisi, Director of Admissions and Marketing at (925) 964-2062.

Sundowning: What it is, What you can do

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

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

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

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

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