Seniors Can Benefit From Pet Therapy

Pets are medically proven to be beneficial to your health. The soothing presence of a dog or a cat can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels. These benefits are easy to attain when living at home independently, but they are also available to residents of senior living communities through “pet therapy.”

Pet Therapy is a popular and growing program that brings pets to homes, communities, and hospitals to allow people who might not otherwise be able to have pets to receive some of the benefits of pet ownership. Just 15 minutes of quality time with a friendly animal companion can help to lower anxiety and provide joy and comfort. Pets can also encourage healthy behavior by providing opportunities for exercise and therapy through playing games like fetching or taking them on a walk. These sessions also encourage social interaction by bringing people together to spend time with the pets and speak with each other and the animal handlers.

Residents of senior living communities should check their calendars or speak to their concierge to see if Pet Therapy sessions are available.

To learn more about our Pet Therapy sessions, please visit our website at rcjl.org or call us at 925.648.2800.

Supporting Seniors in Chronic Pain

The Reutlinger Community: Carla Adamic

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

 

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

Signs of Chronic Pain

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Keeping Our Communities Current: How Modern Technology Can Improve Assisted Living

The Reutlinger Community: Carla Adamic

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

 

Despite easily available evidence to the contrary, there is a persistent myth in our culture that seniors don’t do technology. The reality is that a majority of people over sixty-five have cell phones, use the internet, and use at least some form of social media. Seniors aren’t merely more tech savvy than people assume, they actively want the technology in their homes to be current. It’s important for senior living communities to keep their capabilities up to date and incorporate the latest technologies into their design.

 

Computer Access

Computer and technology centers are becoming more and more essential parts of senior living communities. Computers provide a way for seniors to keep in touch with their loved ones, catch up on news, work on personal projects, manage their finances and more.

 

Wi-Fi

Wireless internet has gone from a luxury to a necessity. While having access to a desktop or laptop computer allows for more in-depth interactions, more and more people are accessing the internet through cell phones and tablet computers. Indeed, the simple interfaces and easy portability of these devices often make them the preferred devices by many seniors who don’t need or want the complexity of a desktop PC.

 

Instruction

For many seniors the reason they avoid technology isn’t because they aren’t interested, but because they need patient instruction. At the Reutlinger Community, we have volunteers and speakers who help seniors learn instead of mocking their lack of prior knowledge.

 

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There are numerous benefits to giving seniors access to modern technology.

 

Connection

Some seniors live hundreds, even thousands of miles away from their families who live in different time zones and can’t readily interact in real time. E-mail and social media make it quick and easy to communicate whether it be about the latest 49ers game, holidays, family events or even just the weather. Programs like Skype and Facetime allow face to face communication across the country and even the world. Engagement is often said to be as important to graceful aging as keeping your body healthy.

 

Mental and Physical Health

There are numerous video games that provide both physical and mental benefits. The Nintendo Wii console, for example, offers simulated sports activities like tennis, bowling and golf which allow for physical exertion in a fun and safe environment at home or with friends. Other games help with hand-eye coordination, spatial recognition, fact recall, memory and more. Even better, many games can be played online with family and friends, stacking social benefits on top of mental and physical benefits.

 

Medication Management

While at the Reutlinger Community, we are able to take a hands-on approach to medication management, many seniors must manage on their own. There are numerous apps that can help seniors (and anyone else) track their medication use to prevent over or under-dosing. Learning how to use these apps can have a significant impact on a senior’s overall health.

 

Emergency Response

Many seniors have access to a PERS or a Personal Emergency Response System that allows them to summon medical help with the touch of a button. Other useful emergency technologies include GPS devices or global positioning systems that help seniors locate where they are and get directions to where they are going. These GPS systems can be linked to alert systems so that caregivers can easily find seniors when they need our help.

 

To learn more about how technology helps seniors and how we handle it in an assisted living environment, please visit our website at rcjl.org or call us at 925-648-2800.

Summer Advice for Seniors

Carla Adamic Outside

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

1. Study the Weather Reports

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

2. Keep Hydrated

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

3. Wear Sunscreen 

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

4. Get Sunlight

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

5. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones 

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

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

5 Tips For Caring For Someone with Alzheimer’s

Carla Adamic OutsideJune is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As Americans live longer and longer more people are developing the disease. One in nine Americans 65 and over has it.

While many Americans with Alzheimer’s are living in an environment where they receive professional memory care 24/7, many are living at home.  Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s presents an enormous challenge. It is estimated that friends and family contribute 18.1 billion with a “b” hours caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.  Those estimates include 15.9 billion people who lose an average of $15,000 of income annually to lost work hours.

So how do you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s more efficiently and without exhausting your time, money and physical and emotional energy?  Here are a few tips we can give you from our memory care experts.

1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, patients are still capable of planning and living independently. At this point in time it is absolutely critical to lay out as many long-term plans as possible. Having plans in place for the day when your loved one might no longer be able to keep house, manage their finances or manage their calendar will make the transition to those eventualities easier on you and on your loved one. While the discussions may be difficult at first, they will only become more difficult if they are put off due to the degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Keep a Tight Routine

When you get into the practice of creating a recognizable routine, your loved one will feel more confident and in control when they know what to expect from a given day. If you are going to create plans that deviate make sure to schedule them when your loved one is at their most lucid and able to contribute to the conversation. The goal is not to control them but to allow them to have as much control over their lives as possible while you provide support.

3. Keep a Home Clean and Free of Clutter

In this day and age we have more and more devices and distractions that clutter up our homes from electronics to snacks to ever growing piles of junk mail and more. The more that clutter and confusion can be eliminated the better. You want to eliminate the risk of your loved one tripping over power cords, losing their books and jewelry under piles of clutter or knocking over glasses that have been left around the living room.  A clean environment is one free of the unexpected and the frustrating.

4. Take Care of Yourself

family-515530_640While it might be admirable to put someone else’s needs above your own, the fact of the matter is that loving someone with Alzheimer’s causes additional strain on you. Make sure that you are monitoring your own health, both mental and physical. Make sure you are eating, sleeping and drinking regularly and make sure that you are doing things to let off steam. Find friends who aren’t as close to your loved one to give you support. Burning yourself out helps no one.

 

5. Get Help When The Time Is Right

There will come a point in time when you will no longer be able to care for your loved one on your own. The sad truth about Alzheimer’s is that it is irreversible and the point will come when your loved one will need some kind of professional memory care. You should study up on your options in advance and see how your loved one responds to different doctors and environments. Schedule tours, read recommendations and talk to people you know who’ve been in a similar situation so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

For more information on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and related conditions and to see if your loved one would benefit from living at a full-time memory care community, please visit us at rcjl.org or call us at 925.648.2800.

5 Ways to Surprise Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Carla Adamic Outside

While there are 365 days on the Calendar, we only set aside one day for Moms. But being a mom is a full-time job. Even as we grow up and move out our mothers are still concerned with us every day and will do what they can for us whether it’s to give us love, advice or something unexpected.  How do we show all that appreciation in only one day of the year? Well, here are some suggestions.

1. Make it Mother’s WeekMoms expect Mother’s Day. It’s on the Calendar. They appreciate that it’s happening, but it’s often a one-and-done obligation and not something more. This year, go the extra mile. Put together a Mother’s Week. Give her a gift every day for seven days. Take her on a trip with the family to one of her favorite places. Cook her seven of her favorite meals.  Show her what she means to you from Sunday to Sunday.

2. Cake for Breakfast – Our moms taught us that too much cake was bad for us, but they also gave them to us on our special occasions. We looked forward to them all day. We couldn’t wait. If your mom is a cake lover, don’t let her wait. Make her cake for breakfast. Yeah, it’s defying the natural order of things, but it’ll put a big smile on her face. She’ll never see it coming.

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3. Plant Little Gifts Around Her Home – Let’s say you have a sibling. While they’re out at the local diner giving your mom cake for breakfast you can sneak into her home and leave little gifts for her to find. Maybe put an “I love you” card in her sock drawer or leave her a favorite meal in a box in her refrigerator with a ribbon around it.  Be creative.

4. Sing to Her  – Not all of us are musicians. Some of us can barely carry a tune. It doesn’t matter. Singing to someone you love is always a great way to show how much you care. If you sing beautifully, she will be flattered. If you sing terribly, she will appreciate that you are willing to embarrass yourself on her behalf. For her it’s a win/win. For you? Well, you made your mom happy and that’s what’s important.

5. Have an Honest Conversation With Her – We don’t want our moms to worry about us, but sometimes not wanting them to worry can result in us blowing off their concerns and making them feel uninvolved in our lives. We can do better. If only for one day, take your mom’s questions and concerns about your life seriously and give her full and honest answers. Having an honest conversation and really knowing how her kids are doing is a bigger treat than you might think.

 

5 Ways You Can Volunteer to Help Seniors

Carla Adamic Outside

There are over 40 million Americans over the age of 65. That’s a substantial and growing portion of the population as people are living longer and living healthier. Supporting our seniors is the responsibility of every decent society and many of us are looking for opportunities to contribute to ease and improve the lives of our senior citizens. Here are five ways you can get involved:

1. Help A Retired Neighbor With Their Chores

As people age they become less mobile. Actions that were once easy like driving to the supermarket or cleaning their home become more burdensome. While there are paid services available to help with those needs, most seniors are on fixed and limited income. Just a few hours of your time each week can help Seniors to reapportion their expenses and schedules to be able to spend their money enjoying their golden years rather than simply enduring them.

2. Visit An Assisted Living Community

Many seniors live in places where their day-to-day needs are taken care of, but they still might wish to spend time with people outside of their communities. Some seniors who live in Assisted Living Communities have family that can’t visit often and long to form relationships with people who live nearby and feel part of a larger community. Your visits can do exactly that.

3. Join An Economic Relief Program

 While the worst of the financial crisis may have happened in 2008, many people lost a significant portion of their savings when it came time to retire and are in need of help to make ends meet. Organizations like the AARP offer volunteer opportunities to help Seniors deal with their finances from teaching programs to help people over 50 to save better, to tax aide programs to help seniors maximize their deductions during tax time.

dad-822294_6404. Home Repair and Renovation

Many volunteers don’t have the time to visit with seniors on a regular basis but still want to contribute. One way to do that is to help repair and renovate a senior citizen’s home. Fixing a door or a sink might not seem like much in the scheme of things, but when you consider how many times you go through a door or use the sink in a given day, that single act is paid forward hundreds of times.

5. Create an Event

Seniors want to feel acknowledged and appreciated and what better way to do it than by bringing your community together to create an event to salute its seniors? Holding concerts, shows, and parties in celebration of our seniors is easier than it seems and the reward of seeing the faces of smiling seniors makes the effort worthwhile.

 To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit us at our website.

5 Ways To Make Moving Into Your Senior Living Community Easier

Carla Adamic Outside

Moves are rarely easy. Sometimes they can be fun, even exciting, but usually not easy. As senior living experts, we are experienced in helping people move into their new home. Here are some tips we came up with through our hard-earned experience.

1. Connect With other Residents In Advance

Some people already know people at their new home. Others do not. Fortunately, senior living communities have social events and mixers that you can attend before you make your big move. Coming to visit in advance will allow you to meet people and make connections that will then be waiting for you upon your arrival.

2. Understand the Floor Plan

Different rooms have different layouts. It’s important to plan how you will use and decorate your room in advance. Have some favorite artwork? Consider where it will go before you make the move. Planning to bring in your favorite recliner? Figure out where you want to put it first.

3. Hire An Appraiser

Sometimes when we are leaving our old home, we have so much clutter strewn about we don’t know what’s worth keeping, what’s worth selling and what’s, well, worthless. Hiring an appraiser to help determine the value of what you aren’t planning on keeping can be a useful expenditure.

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4. Get Help

Find out what kind of assistance your residence will give you for your move, if any. Do you have friends or family members who can help you make the move? Will you need movers? Either way, it’s important to make sure that you have the assistance you need come moving day.

5. Take Your Time 

Moving is something that doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can do things at your own pace. This move is going to be long term so there’s nothing to panic over. If a chair arrives late, it arrives late. You are in a retirement phase. You have friend. You have help. Do yourself a favor and keep the pressure level as low as you need it to be.

If you have questions or concerns about moving into a senior living community, please contact us at (925)648-2800 or visit us at rcjl.org.

 

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

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

Carla Adamic Outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Skilled Nursing is often recommended for residents who:

 

Require Speech, Physical And/or Occupational Therapy

Are recovering from surgery or severe illness

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

 

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

 

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

Memory Loss: What is Normal? When do I need help?

By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community

Carla Adamic Outside

 

 

We all forget things from time to time. Be it forgetting where we put our keys when we got home or forgetting which year we went to Disneyland for the first time. As we age, the number of memories we keep in storage in our heads gets so large that our long-term memory prioritizes some things and de-prioritizes others. This is normal.

 

But not all memory loss is normal. Sometimes it’s a sign of something more significant. How do we know the difference? Here are a few signs that your memory loss might require a trip to the doctor to learn if it’s just forgetfulness or something potentially life changing.

 

1. Forgetting How To Do Things You Do On a Regular Basis

 

If our long-term memory is like a bank vault where we occasionally need to put away things we don’t necessarily need very often, our short-term memory is more like our wallets where we keep our money and credit cards that we use on a regular basis. Forgetting how to do things that you do on a regular basis is a potential sign of an issue that may eventually require memory care.

 

2. Repeating Stories or Phrases in the Same Conversation

 

Have you been hearing people tell you that “you just told me that story?” or “you said that five minutes ago?” and you don’t remember doing so? That’s a potential warning sign that might need attention.

 

3. Trouble Learning and Adapting to the New

 

Whether you’re a quick learner or a slow learner, when forming new skills and learning new things begins to become more difficult than usual, you should act decisively to find out what is happening.

 

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4. Forgetting Things More Often Than You Used Too

 

This is seemingly the most obvious sign, but, as we said above, forgetting is normal. If you are forgetting more than normal, it might be more than forgetfulness. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you really are forgetting more than normal.

 

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