People like hearing good stories, especially if they’re about someone they know and love. Helping your mom record her life experiences is a great way to ensure her memories are passed down to the next generation. Telling stories will also improve her cognitive function.
How Writing Help Seniors
Memory recall: Regularly flexing cognitive muscles slows the progression of cognitive decline and memory loss. Writing down his life story provides your dad with the opportunity to practice remembering treasured memories. The more he practices, the better he’ll become at bringing more obscure stories to mind. He may even begin to recall events, people and places he hasn’t talked about for years.
Emotions and trauma: Writing about past experiences allows people to address previously painful memories. It creates an opportunity for your loved one to vent their anger, sadness, frustration and anxiety associated with a particular event and can help them reach an emotional resolution.
Speech and language: Expressing thoughts through writing engages the part of the brain responsible for speech and language. Developing and building vocabulary is a lifelong skill that requires constant practice. When your mom tells a story, she uses specific language to convey the facts and atmosphere associated with her memories.
Stress relief: Journaling is a good therapeutic practice, especially for seniors who’ve had a lifetime of experiences. Writing about her day allows your mom to define her emotional response to a situation and may help her see another person’s perspective.
Daily structure: Your dad will develop self-discipline when he sits down to write each day. Setting aside time to talk or write about memories establishes a routine that will help his brain sustain cognitive function.
Getting Your Mom or Dad Started
Here are some tips for helping your loved one share their stories:
- Ask open-ended questions to avoid a sense interrogation.
- Offer to transcribe or record your dad’s stories for him if he’s struggling to write.
- Use photos, mementos, music, scents and other aids to help your mom recall specific memories.
- Take your dad to a location associated with some of his stories to help him remember details.
- Don’t emphasize chronology because one memory can easily trigger another. Allow your mom to tell stories in any order that she wishes.
- Encourage your dad to provide as many details as he feels comfortable sharing.
- Enjoy yourself. Telling stories should be fun and gives you a chance to spend quality time with your senior.
Your health will likely change as you age, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience if you approach it with an open mind and a positive attitude.
Eat Well, Exercise Properly
Those are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle at any age, but they’re especially important as you get older. Eating a balanced diet lowers your risk of developing conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis.
The Mediterranean diet is an example of a well-balanced meal plan that’s low in saturated fat and sugar. It emphasizes these foods:
- Fruits like apples, oranges, strawberries, bananas, melon and peaches
- Vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, peas, bell peppers, radishes and carrots
- Nuts and seeds
- Moderate amounts of protein, including eggs, fish and poultry
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week and strength training twice a week. Partake in exercise you enjoy, so your workout doesn’t feel like work.
Exercise has been proven to:
- Improve mood and reduce negativity
- Help manage chronic health conditions
- Improve balance and mobility
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Support good sleep habits
Work with Your Doctor
Sticking to your appointment schedule is an essential part of healthy aging. Regular visits to your primary care physician, dentist, eye doctor and other specialists will allow your healthcare professionals to catch and treat minor issues before they become serious problems.
Share your medical and family health history with your doctors so they can schedule appropriate screenings and tests for conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And take your medicine as prescribed. Following your doctor’s orders will help you manage long-term conditions and symptoms.
Studies have shown that regular social interaction may improve cognitive function. Staying socially engaged keeps your mind sharp because you’re providing stimulation to different parts of your brain, including the areas responsible for speech and language, problem-solving and memory recall.
Visiting family and friends is a good way to stay connected and have fun. You can also get socially involved in your community by volunteering, attending religious services or joining groups or clubs that share your interests.
Eliminate Tobacco and Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Cutting out nicotine lowers your cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rate and seriously reduces your risk for developing cancer. There are over-the-counter products, including gum, patches and lozenges, that can help you kick the habit.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol presents a serious set of health risks, too. Alcohol can cause heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive issues and cancer. It also weakens your immune system and can create alcohol dependency. Limit your drinking based on your age, weight and whether you take certain medications.
Whether you love the sun or prefer a life that’s made in the shade, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to stay busy and entertained all summer long.
Read a good book. Reread an old favorite or find something new to transport yourself to another time or place. You could also join an in-person or virtual book club and share your love of literature with others.
Get cooking. Summer is the perfect time to test your culinary skills, thanks to all the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season.
Birdwatch (also a good outdoor adventure). Set up bird feeders with different kinds of seeds and fruits outside the windows around your house. The National Audubon Society has online resources to help you identify local birds.
Perfect your craft. Do you like to paint? Maybe you play piano but haven’t put your fingers to the keys in a while. Save yourself from the heat and take up a hobby indoors. Go through old photos and put together a scrapbook. It’s a great way to reminisce about treasured memories and organize your belongings.
Grow a kitchen garden. Plant herbs in small pots and grow them by your kitchen windows, so you have plenty of fresh flavors all summer.
Go for a picnic. Laze in the shade or soak up the sun while you graze on your favorite summer snacks. This is a fun activity to do on your own or with family and friends.
Host a garden party. Want to catch up with friends but don’t want to travel? Set up tables and chairs in your backyard or on your patio for a socially distant gathering.
Use your green thumb. Getting your hands in the dirt and watching things grow can be very satisfying. If you don’t want to grow flowers, try your hand at raising summer vegetables.
Go fishing. Bust out the rods and reels, pack your tackle box and head to your favorite lake or pond. Unwind on your own or bring along your kids and grandkids for some company.
Set up outdoor yard games. There are plenty of fun backyard games to while away your summer days, including bocce, croquet, cornhole and horseshoes.
Visit an art museum. Enjoy the latest exhibits and immerse yourself in different artistic eras and cultures. Contact your local museum to inquire about painting, drawing and sculpting classes.
Volunteer. Giving back to your community is an excellent way to get out of the house and get engaged. Make it a group effort and bring along family and friends.
Go to the drive-ins. Watching movies under the stars is a fun experience you can’t get in a movie theater.
Go to the park. Stroll down your favorite path or find a new place to explore. Call your local parks system to learn about upcoming events like natural science exhibits or outdoor concerts.
The dedicated team at SavaSeniorCare is committed to providing our residents with entertaining summer excursions and activities. Call 800-628-7009 or contact us online for more information about our activity programs.
What healthy habits do you want, but can’t seem to follow through with?
Most of us already know plenty of things we should do—and sure enough, most of us don’t do them. So, how do we square that circle?
If you know what’s good for you…
In order to understand this, we should start by considering the power of the mundane.
Most of our habits are formed unconsciously. For the most part, this is a good thing. Through repetition, we develop the muscle memory that simplifies necessary functions of daily life and saves cognitive effort. The flipside of that coin: once formed, habits are extremely durable, for better or worse—and we’re not always great judges of which is which.
When trying to change unconscious behaviors, your conscious mind is trying to win an argument with a toddler. Logic alone will only get you so far. So where can you turn instead?
What the mind thinks it wants
For decades, Psychologists have studied the phenomenon of “Miswanting”. Writing for the American Psychological Association, Brett Pelham explained miswanting like this:
“the problem is not that people do not know the difference between apple pie and a knuckle sandwich. Instead, miswanting refers to the fact that people sometimes make mistakes about how much they will like something in the future. That is, people often mispredict the duration of their good and bad feelings.”
How did we get so bad at knowing ourselves?
Dr. Daniel T. Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, has explored miswanting and related patterns for most of his career. He argues the trouble is related to a lack of social connection. In a 2009 experiment, Gilbert and a team of researchers found that people could predict their own future emotional response to an event if they knew how a neighbor responded to that event.
Translation: people who were more in tune with the emotions of others nearby were also better attuned to their own emotional state.
This observation has huge implications for older Americans. Long before 2020 made “social distancing” a global buzzword, American seniors were battling an epidemic of loneliness. According to the National Academies of Science and Medicine, 1 in every 4 seniors in America is socially isolated. Isolation doesn’t only threaten emotional health: according to the CDC, social isolation harms health outcomes as much as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.
Beyond valuable insight into behavioral psychology mental and bodily health—and the connections between each—this should also be a call to action. Unfortunately, most cities, suburbs and towns across America weren’t built with senior living in mind. This is where senior living facilities can play a life-changing role. By literally bringing people together, senior living communities can improve health outcomes, improve emotional self-awareness, and even improve your ability to actualize meaningful change in your behaviors.
If you are interested in senior living arrangements, we invite you to consider SavaSeniorCare. Learn more about our residential centers and care services at our website: https://savaseniorcare.com/approach/levels-of-care.html
For more information on practical steps to change behaviors, this AARP article is an excellent resource.
June was Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month—and what a month it was! Alzheimer’s research made headlines worldwide as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the accelerated approval of Aduhelm the first treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease that addresses not only the symptoms but also the root causes of Alzheimer’s.
Though June may be over, the Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month mission of showing support spreading awareness continues year-round. In that spirit, we at SavaSeniorCare want to take a moment to talk about Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and how memory care therapies administered in a qualified assisted living facility can slow the disease’s progression while significantly improving quality of life for patients and families.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Peter Cavazzoni, M.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, describes Alzheimer’s Disease as: “a neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive impairments in memory, language, and thinking, with the eventual loss of ability to perform social and functional activities in daily life.”
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia: what’s the difference?
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they have specific and different meanings. one key distinction is that dementia isn’t a specific disease. Dementia is a general term for a collection of symptoms that make it hard to function independently in daily life. As the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D. explained, “common symptoms include:
- A decline in memory
- Changes in thinking skills
- Poor judgment and reasoning skills
- Decreased focus and attention
- Changes in language and communication skills”
On the other hand, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease characterized by particular patterns of cell damage in the brain, causing patients to exhibit dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s is the most common and best-known type of dementia.
How Do You Treat Alzheimer’s Disease?
Treatments are always improving and new therapies entering clinical trials as we speak. In June 2021, the FDA approved a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease’s underlying causes for the first time. Aduhelm—the proprietary name of aducanumab—is not a cure, nor does it claim to be one. Still, it is incredibly exciting that researchers are already developing ways to treat dementia at the source. it’s a promising step for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and their loved ones.
Until there’s a cure, however, the gold standard of Alzheimer’s care is memory care therapy in a high-quality assisted living facility. An assisted living facility serves multiple objectives simultaneously. The first priority is patient health and quality of life.
In the initial stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, spotting the early signs is crucial. Early detection and proactive treatment can slow the disease’s progression and even add years to a patient’s life. With regular health checks and constant access to trained medical professionals, residents of an assisted living facility will have the best chance of early detection—sometimes even before symptoms manifest.
Another role assisted living facilities play relates to loved ones. Thanks to the work of advocacy organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, the incredible work of caregivers and the long unseen toll of that labor can is finally getting some of the attention it deserves. However, we still have a long way to go. A long underappreciated aspect of Alzheimer’s is the burden it places on families. At different stages of the disease, Alzheimer’s patients require very different levels of care. Where early stage dementia patients can live mostly independently, later stage patients often require round-the-clock assistance.
Few families are equipped to provide that level of care to a loved one. That’s not for a lack of love or effort—many families who try have deep reserves of both. Yet even when caregivers ca but because effective Alzheimer’s Disease treatment and memory care require a massive time investment, a degree of advanced medical knowledge that few people have time to learn while also juggling the demands of daily life, AND significant financial investment to configure a safe, comfortable, accessible home.
For most patients with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we would recommend seriously considering an assisted living facility equipped to administer memory care therapy. Not only will this lessen the burden for loved ones: by receiving the highest standard of care, it can also significantly improve patient health and quality of life.
If you or a loved one are considering an assisted living facility or nursing home with a memory care unit, please consider SavaSeniorCare. And if you have any additional questions about dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, assisted living facilities or memory care, we would we happy to offer assistance. We invite you to contact us at SavaSeniorCare.
In the United States and other industrialized nations, people are living longer than ever. This is obviously a good thing. The problem is that living longer doesn’t always mean living better. Western diets today and sedentary lifestyles are an absolute nightmare combination for metabolic health. As a society, we’re beginning to have conversations about aging well and living well, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be.
Healthy aging doesn’t get the attention it deserves—especially from men. Men generally want to be strong, physically and emotionally. Men, we are told, don’t complain. Men don’t burden others with their problems. Men are low-maintenance. Men negotiate pain Internally. Men walk it off. Men tough it out.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the above—each of these traits has virtues in its own right. However, problems begin where these ideals, or aspirations to them, become self-destructive. Other men might recognize what I’m talking about: the times when the desire for independence becomes a refusal to listen; where strong will becomes irrational stubbornness; where emotional strength mutates into emotional denial.
These become major obstacles when negotiating essential health fundamentals.
Diet, sleep and exercise are key factors in your health at any age. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone—after all, people have known this for as long as there have been people. Yet even if we know it in theory, plenty of us neglect the fundamentals to our own detriment.
Today, we’re focusing on one of the most fundamental—and most undervalued—determinants of your health: fitness.
If you’re 65 or older, is running bad for you?
No—unless you’re doing it wrong.
The old myth that running causes osteoarthritis of the knees is just that: a myth. In fact, runners—short-distance and marathon runners alike—are less likely to develop knee problems than the general population. According to the latest National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on the health effects of running, for most people, running is an excellent form of exercise that can improve general fitness, endurance and even knee health. So why are so many people convinced running will blow out their knees?
The cause is likely twofold. First: because of the force and strain running places on knees, researchers once suspected such repetitive, high-impact activity would harm knee joints. Even with growing evidence suggesting running helps knees, we’re still learning the mechanics of why and how. And second: while running properly is beneficial, running with bad form can be actively harmful. Amateurs with poor form can easily overexert and injure themselves. That’s why it’s important to go at your own pace and build up gradually. Learn about proper running form, know your limits, and talk to your doctor.
It hurts when I exercise. Does aerobic exercise do more harm than good?
Probably not, but ask your doctor.
Pain may be all in the mind, but reacting to it isn’t a sign of mental weakness. Pain is your body’s primary alert system. While you should never give in to pain, you should always listen to it. If pain is severe or persistent, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your doctor.
I had a previous injury. Do I still need regular exercise?
Everybody needs exercise. After the initial stages of the healing process, rehabilitation will require using the injured body part rather than nursing it. Depending on the location, extent and severity of your injury, you may wish to consider working with a licensed physical therapist and/or a qualified trainer to develop your ideal exercise regimen. Rehabilitation therapies for common industries or loss of strength incorporate specialized exercises that help improve muscle tone and function.
Navigating rehabilitation on your own is a bad idea for several reasons, but perhaps most important is this. Without an expert to assist and monitor you, you risk not only missing out on the benefits of rehabilitation and physical therapy: you could easily reaggravate or worsen the injury itself.
While there’s much, much more we could go into, we at SaveSeniorCare want to stress our main healthy aging takeaway. The message to men 65 and up: taking care of yourself isn’t self-indulgence, asking your doctor for help isn’t a sign of weakness, and it’s never too late begin exercising.
For more healthy aging recommendations, we recommend visiting the National Institute on Aging’s guidelines for exercise and physical activity. You can find additional fitness tips for men aged 65 and up in this article from Exercise Right.
If you or a loved one are considering physical therapy or rehabilitation services, we invite you to consider SaveSeniorCare’s comprehensive occupational therapy, physical therapy and rehabilitation services. Please visit SaveSeniorCare Rehabilitation to learn more.