Grandfather reading to grandson

Roots and Wings: Visiting with Grandchildren (Part 1 of 4)

“A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”
– Hodding Carter

As parents and grandparents, one of the greatest joys in our lives is watching future generations thrive, grow and carry on traditions that have meaning for our families. It’s a desire to leave a legacy – whether emotionally, monetarily or otherwise – so that you will be remembered long after you have left this earth. It’s also a desire to see your loved ones have and take advantage of all the opportunities life has to offer.

“This idea of finding ways to pass on your beliefs and values while providing opportunities for your grandchildren are fundamental and universal,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Traditions help define who we are and link us to our past while providing a foundation for the future.”

We call this philosophy Roots and Wings. It’s the dual approach of building a sense of “home” and what it means to be “your family” alongside the forward-thinking, innovative freedom of a future full of possibilities. These are both gifts that will continue to nurture and strengthen future generations for years to come.

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 echo far into the future.

Visiting Your Grandchildren: Making Meaningful Moments Happen

Most grandparents would say that building and maintaining strong relationships between them and their grandchildren is important. Spending time with grandchildren allows you to be a part of their lives and gives you the opportunity to share life skills, instill values and pass along stories and wisdom. Plus, it’s incredibly enjoyable to watch them as they grow, and there are many things you can learn from them, too!

Whether you live in the same town as your grandchildren or are half a world away, here are some ways to make the most of your time together and forge a special bond between you and the youngest members of your family.

Go outside.
Kids, especially when they’re younger, get a kick out of outdoor activities – no matter what the season! Building a snowman, splashing in the pool, jumping in a pile of leaves or picking spring flowers are all enjoyable things to do as the weather turns. Need some more ideas? Check out below:

  • Plant for the future. Growing flowers, vegetables or even a tree provide fun now and in the future. Discuss with your grandchild what you’d like to do and what your future plans for the plant are. Will you use the herbs to cook the next time you or they are in town? Will the tree you’ve planted be a perfect place for picnicking?
  • Start an outdoor hobby together. Do you or your grandchild enjoy birdwatching? Identifying leaves? Collecting bugs? Playing soccer? Finding an activity that you can do together (and when you’re apart) creates a great opportunity to make memories and give both of you something to look forward to the next time you’re together.
  • Enjoy outdoor events. Head to the farmers market or grab a lawn chair and watch fireworks. Cheer on a local sports team or walk to a nearby ice cream parlor. Whatever the season, find something that’s going on in a nearby town and make a day out of it!

Spend time indoors.
Reading books together, baking cookies, doing art projects … many of our most cherished memories happen indoors. Choose a favorite activity or look below for an idea starter:

  • Share family stories. Drag out the old family photo albums or show off slides from the family vacation you took with their parents when they were children. You and your grandchild could also write out your family history and create a family tree. With services like Ancestry.com and others, it’s easier than ever to research your history.
  • Teach each other a favorite activity. Maybe you want to learn how to play Fortnite and your grandchild wants to learn how to knit. Teach each other the things you love to do –it’s an instant bonding experience.
  • Learn a new activity together. Long-term projects can be an excellent way to share interests and carry on something for longer than an afternoon. Learn how to make dishes from different cultures, or start a blog about your time together.

Connect from afar.
Grandparents who live far away have options these days to bond and stay connected to their grandchildren. From low- to high-tech, the options for a quick hello or a meaningful heart to heart have made quality time from afar easier than ever.

  • Call, text or FaceTime them. Instilling the importance of a phone call is a great way to have a conversation with your grandchild. If possible, you can set a time every week to chat, even if for only a little bit. You can do the same thing with a Skype or FaceTime chat. If your grandchildren are old enough to have personal phones, don’t forget that a little text can have meaning, too.
  • Play online games together. Games like Words with Friends, Monopoly and more are online versions of classic board games that you can play together even when you’re miles apart.

Go old school with snail mail. Getting a handwritten letter or a package in the mail is a big deal these days. Show your grandchild how magical the mail can be by exchanging letters and care packages on a regular basis. Best of all, you may get a letter back!

Spending time with grandchildren is a very special way to get to know each other on a deeper level. By using your creativity, you and your grandchildren can spend quality time together and make a lifetime of memories.

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.

Caregiver talking to a woman on a couch

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: The Ethics of Fibbing (Part 4 of 4)

In this four part series, we walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show your care and create moments that can be cherished.

We can all agree that telling the truth is the best policy – usually. It’s what we’re taught when we’re very young, after all. Many of us can remember this or that punishment that came from telling a lie to our parents or someone else. However, if your loved one has dementia, sometimes telling the truth can hurt more than it helps.

According to Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, there are times in a caregiver’s life when it’s better to tell little white lies. Think of your mother who keeps asking when her long-dead spouse is coming home, or your dad who wants the keys to the car even though you took them away years ago. Explaining the reality of the situation will only result in pain, tears, frustration and anger – which will be repeated the next time the situation occurs.

“Your role as a caregiver is to help your loved one have the best quality of life possible while also making your job as stress-free as you are able,” says Andrea. “Approaching these situations with logic and truth can result in negative actions. However, telling little fibs can help keep your loved one calm and happy – so why not go down that route instead?”

When Fibbing Is the Best Policy

This idea of ‘therapeutic fibbing’ – the philosophy of deliberately lying to someone with dementia – is fairly recent in the history of dementia care. It used to be that professionals took the approach that telling the truth would help reorient an individual and allow them to become rooted in reality. However, if you’ve tried this with your loved one before, you know that this approach, while well-meaning, doesn’t usually work.

“As dementia progresses, your senior loved one will lose the ability to use reason and logic, so they aren’t useful tools when you’re trying to explain things to them,” Andrea says. “Instead of trying to bring them into your world – your reality – put yourself in their shoes and respond to their actions and questions as if you were in their world – their reality. What would make the most sense for them, and what would make them feel the most secure, safe and loved at this time?”

When (and When Not) to Use Therapeutic Fibbing

A therapeutic fib is a different beast than setting out to intentionally deceive your loved one. Remember that even though your loved one’s mental abilities are not what they once were, they are still adults who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. This is where many medical professionals and caregivers choose to delineate the ‘ethics’ of this form of care.

“When you’re deciding whether or not to tell a lie to your loved one, ask yourself if you’re doing this in order to maintain their sense of well-being, or is it to help you avoid a difficult conversation you know you should be having?” Andrea says that if it’s the latter rather than the former, you may be broaching the ethics of fair treatment of your loved one.

Therapeutic fibbing isn’t the answer to every circumstance, but when it’s used appropriately, it is a gentle, kind way to help reduce your loved one’s emotional distress and even stop unwanted behavior. Still, some caregivers may be uncomfortable with telling any lies to their loved one at all. In those instances, there are still techniques you can use to treat your loved one gently without lying to them.

Redirect their attention. Instead of trying to convince your mom that she isn’t going to work today because she’s been retired for years, try and redirect her to a different topic of conversation. Ask her what she’s looking forward to that day, or suggest taking a walk around the block before you do anything else. This can help remove your loved one from their current train of thought and bring them into a different space.

Validate what they’re feeling. The emotions and feelings your loved one is having are very real to them, even if they’re rooted in delusions or hallucinations. If your dad is afraid to go outside because he’s worried about being kidnapped, calmly empathize with him and reassure him that he’s safe and that you’ll make sure nothing will happen while he’s outside.

Understand what stage of dementia your loved one is in and adapt your tactics appropriately. Someone in early or mid-stage dementia may be able to accept some forms of reason and logic, while those in later stages truly are living in their own reality. Your tactics may change daily as your loved one moves through their own individual dementia journey.

Let it go. Does it really matter if your father thinks he’s on a train headed to some foreign destination instead of sitting in your living room? If your loved one is happy, calm and not in danger, there’s no reason to take them out of their reality. Let them be and instead hop on that train ride with them – even if it’s all imaginary, you may be able to have a meaningful, fun time together!

Trust your gut. Listen to your instincts and act accordingly. Do what feels right in the situation. After all, you know your loved one best, and acting on intuition will be more successful than you may expect.

“While it’s common to feel guilty or uncomfortable about lying to your loved one, it’s important to remember when doing so may be in their – and your – best interest,” says Andrea. “Ultimately, your job is to care for their safety and well-being, and if telling a little white lie can do that, you’re doing what it takes to provide the best care as possible at that time.”

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.

woman praying

Honoring Who They Were by Honoring Who They Still Are: Spirituality in Dementia (Part 3 of 4)

In this four part series, we will walk you through ways to help honor your loved one throughout all stages of the dementia journey. No matter how advanced the disease may be, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your loved one, show your care and create moments that can be cherished.

Spirituality, whether through organized religion or a more informal form of reflection, plays an incredibly important role for many of us. That connection to a higher power provides peace, hope and reassurance during difficult times. Individuals living with dementia very often turn to this spirituality as they face and travel through the journey of the disease.

“Spirituality is an essential part of life at The Reutlinger Community, and we incorporate it into the care plans of many of our residents,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger Community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Although the lifestyle of our community is based on the Jewish faith, we welcome and have many residents of different religions and faiths who call us home. For individuals with dementia, familiar beliefs and practices help them find comfort and find perspective while their lives are changing around them.”

Benefits of Spirituality
Much like dementia, spirituality can affect each senior differently. However, research and observations have shown that people’s lives can be greatly improved by being part of a spiritual community. Being among like-minded individuals with similar beliefs and values can help improve mood, which boosts health and well-being and can increase life expectancy. But spirituality doesn’t have to be experienced in a group to reap benefits. It also allows aging adults to improve themselves on a personal level, such as:

  • Being more mindful and in the moment
  • Providing an avenue for relaxation
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Helping individuals accept and gain peace with their situation
  • Improving sleep patterns
  • Sharpening their mind
  • Allowing seniors to let go of the past and forgive those who may have wronged them
  • Increasing overall quality of life and happiness

Recent studies also suggest that participating in a spiritual sense can actually help prevent memory loss and slow cognitive decline.

Why is this? According to research, it could be because the traditions and habits we practice in a religious sense are familiar and routine, which can help stimulate centers of the brain that are less affected (or not affected) by dementia. Performing these habits also decrease an individual’s cortisol level, which helps reduce stress and anxiety. Or it could simply be that spirituality just makes people happier.

How to Practice Spirituality and Wellness with Your Loved One
Honoring your loved one by practicing spirituality with them or providing opportunities for them to practice on their own, can be an incredibly meaningful thing for both of you. Here are some ideas for helping foster these moments:

  • Use nature. Many people have expressed that they feel closer to a higher power when they spend time in the great outdoors. It’s also been shown that activities like gardening or birdwatching can help seniors with dementia to relax. By diverting their attention to their surroundings, such as the sounds of birds, the smell of plants or the feel of wind on their skin, it helps remove them from their thoughts and instead be present in what they are feeling, sensing and experiencing.
  • Practice journaling. According to an article from the University of Minnesota, the practice of journaling can help people feel more connected to the world and what’s happening around them. For individuals in the earlier stages of dementia, journaling can help them come to grips with the disconnect they feel, process their experience and bring peace and resilience to their world.
  • Find holistic therapies. There are a variety of therapeutic activities, such as music, art or pet therapies, that have been shown to help seniors with dementia to process negative emotions, reduce anxiety and increase well-being. Find activities that speak to your loved one, especially if they had a passion in their past that they truly enjoyed. By finding ways to express themselves through these activities, you can help your loved one connect to a meaningful time that will bring good feelings and emotions.
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices can improve mood, boost well-being and can even potentially slow cognitive decline. (It’s also a great exercise for those of us who are caring for loved ones with dementia – it helps us be present and in the moment!)
  • Do tai chi. Low impact exercises that pair body and mind can be very beneficial for people with dementia. Not only does it help get your loved one moving and build strength and flexibility, but the mind/body connection that’s integral to the practice of tai chi can help provide meaning and connection.
  • Try yoga. Similar to tai chi, yoga connects the brain and body in many different ways to improve mental and physical health. Seniors with dementia can benefit from better flexibility, balance, strength and even better brain connectivity.
  • Pray or read the scripture. Read scripture or devotionals to them. Sometimes seniors with dementia are still able to recite favorite verses they memorized years ago.
  • Pray together. If your loved one is religious, there is no substitute for the comforting act of praying or singing favorite hymns together. Recite familiar prayers together, which can provoke happy memories and release stress. Reading sections of favorite religious passages can also spur your loved one to recite them along with you, too.

“Caring for the spirit as well as the body and mind are important aspects for a well-rounded memory care approach,” says Andrea. “As the disease progresses, it becomes harder for them to participate spiritually in the same way they always have, which is why we look for ways to help connect with them and find ways to experience some kind of spiritual activity that is meaningful and genuine. At The Reutlinger Community, we provide so many opportunities for our residents to practice spirituality in their own way, from our religious services to music and pet therapy to mindfulness and yoga. We allow residents and families to connect in the ways that matter to them, whatever that may be.”

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.