Written by: Meghan O’Dea
It can be so hard to watch your loved one struggle with the effects of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. They can’t always find the right words they need to communicate, fall behind on chores and simple routines, like cooking and hygiene. They might even wander off, which is not only frightening but potentially dangerous. This can be very stressful and frustrating not only for the person whose memory seems just out of reach, but also for the caregivers trying to keep up with ever-evolving symptoms, all while missing certain aspects of their loved one that seem to have disappeared with time.
If this sounds like you or someone you care about, you might feel like you have tried everything to help ease the strain of dementia. However, there might be one seemingly ordinary thing you can try that has been there the whole time: music.
Numerous studies have shown that music therapy for dementia patients fires neurons in the parts of the brain most affected by the disease. Humans of all ages respond to music differently than other noise, such as the sound of traffic or a lawn mower, this is because music is what scientists call, “organized noise.” In other words, there are patterns, rhythms, and an internal logic to music that humans have evolved a response to. There’s a whole part of the brain dedicated to processing the music we hear! When a song comes on, that part of the brain lights up, and in turn signals other areas of the brain to also respond.
It’s part of why you can’t help dancing when something good comes on the radio, even if you’re sitting at a red light. It’s also why you can hear a song from years ago and feel awash in memories and sensations from that time. Both young and old respond this way. Babies react to music long before they have the language skills needed to understand the lyrics. And anyone who has spent time with kids know how much they love the repetition, rhyme, sing-along-song quality of classic children’s songs and even the hooks of pop music. What seems so natural and impetuous, can help seniors that feel isolated and withdrawn, to communicate despite their Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Playing a favorite song, album, or artist for your loved one can get them moving by lighting up areas of the brain most affected by their illness, such as those related to the nervous system. Music can help those with memory issues recall things that are not only harder to access, but might be the sort of memories and information neurotypical people might forget about until a sensory cue reminds them. You know, the kind of things that make talking about music so much fun—like biographical details about the musician, where you were when you last heard the song, or what you liked about the album art. Carefully listen to what your loved one says about their favorite songs or music from their youth, as it can be a wonderful way to reconnect outside the usual topics of medication reminders and daily doings.
Pull out old records or CDs and tailor the songs played to your loved one’s mood—upbeat songs for when they need a little stimulation or conversation, quieter songs for times of rest or when they need help calming down. Afterwards, chat a little about what you heard, or pull out paper and pens and each draw something inspired by the music, even if it’s abstract. You can compare drawings later, too. You might be surprised by what a big effect the right song can have, or if you’re a music lover yourself you might understand completely. Some things are just an inherent part of being human, and getting excited about a great melody or a percussive beat that hits the right spot is one of them.
If you want more tips for how to navigate the complex world of memory care, you can find plenty of resources at the Alzheimer’s Association website. Some of what they offer includes message boards where you can connect with other caregivers, friends, and family who are also struggling with a love one’s early, middle, and late-stage Alzheimer’s journey. There are also plenty of tools to help you find resources in your community. You can find them online at http://www.alz.org/care/.
If you need advice, support lines like the Veterans’ Affairs Caregiver Support Line can help. If you are looking for support or information on what the VA can provide, call 1-855-260-3274 or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s line at 866-232-8484 (toll-free 9AM to 9PM Monday through Friday).
Written by: Meghan O'Dea
Retirement is a shining goal for many; it’s a reminder of all you’ve accomplished and earned during your years of working, raising children, and chasing the American dream. However, retirement planning can also be intimidating to take the step into this new phase of life, as it is a major transition from life we’ve known before. There’s so much precedent to help us understand the career and childrearing years, and not so much to tell us what finish line of retirement might look like. It’s ok if you feel adrift, but also know that it’s entirely possible to renew your sense of purpose and redefine what you want your new season of life to look like.
There are a number of ways to make this one of the most joyful periods of your life. No longer encumbered by the hectic schedule of career building and raising babies, you now have a unique opportunity to decide how you want to fill your spare time. The wonderful thing about your golden years is you get to decide what defines you beyond outside markers of success. Think about what you want to be known for? What makes you happy? And what motivated you in the past? These are great guides for what will give you a more joyful today and tomorrow.
One key place to begin is by being active. Studies show that increased physical activity can help seniors not only combat chronic medical conditions and stave off new ones, but it also increases mental wellbeing. Exercise increases endorphins which give you a sense of accomplishment and a time to contemplate life to exist fully in the present. Mindfulness, or the act of being consciously aware of yourself and surroundings in the moment, can be a huge part of activity. Taking a walk, for example, can give you an opportunity to be fully aware of the sights and sounds around you, as well as the feeling of walking and the ways your body feels as you are moving. This kind of meditation can lead to greater self-awareness, and a fuller sense of yourself, as a unique person.
Another is to actively engage with your past. As beneficial as it can be to throw yourself into the present moment, it can be equally fulfilling to throw yourself into nostalgia. The act of remembrance can help many seniors to have a stronger sense of self, reduce stress, and lower incidents of anxiety and depression. By revisiting your happiest and strongest memories, you can have a better sense of what makes you happiest and to what events you have the strongest connection.
Those memories can be guideposts for what you do next— you can seek out new connections and opportunities that bring out the same feelings. If you loved raising your children, perhaps you can work with an organization that provides extracurricular activities and supports a passion for youth. If you had a hobby that you had to put aside for a career, you could return to your interest in astronomy, literature, languages, or the arts.
No matter what you interests were in the past, there are also opportunities to cultivate new ones. One of the wonderful things about a big metropolitan area like Charlotte is the opportunity to find all sorts of new things to do, from gallery openings to concerts to new food flavors. You can check out the Levine Museum of the New South, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, or the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center for cultural events that might be outside your usual beat. Or try gourmet twists on classic dishes like donuts at Joe's Doughs, burgers at Moo & Brew, classic arcade games at 8.2.0.
Whatever you choose to do, it helps to have a good community to do it with. Studies show that socially connected seniors suffer less stress and fewer mood disorders than those who are more isolated. The same is true of socially connected seniors who are more likely to seek medical care for routine tests and ailments. Connecting with a community helps to give you a context, a place in the world, a sense of self-definition. When it comes to celebrating your unique self, wouldn’t you rather do that with others on the same journey? If you want to learn more about how a retirement community like Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte can help enhance your golden years and help you find your sense of purpose, call (844) 425-4254.
Written by: Meghan O'Dea
Regency at Pineville offers full continuum care, along with numerous services and amenities for community residents. If you are considering senior care but don’t know which care option is the best fit, here are the various senior care options available to you.
Independent living: this retirement lifestyle is ideal for those who are still active and independent, but prefer to have someone cook and clean for them.
Independent living may be for you if:
In-home caregiving: this senior care lifestyle is contingent upon the condition of the senior, which involves routine checkups to guarantee the wellbeing and personal satisfaction of the senior.
In-Home Care may be for you if:
Assisted Living: this senior care lifestyle is ideal for mature seniors who find that they require help from others to get around or fulfill daily tasks, not including intensive medical care treatments.
Assisted Living may be for you if:
Memory Care: this specialized senior care offers a vibrant quality of life to residents in need of personalized care considerations and exercises.
Memory Care may be for you if:
As with any medical decision, consult with a doctor or healthcare specialist for their professional recommendation of which senior care level is right for you. Additionally, for questions or concerns regarding senior care placement, contact us today for your no commitment consultation! Our community consultant specialists are available to assess resident needs, answer senior living inquiries, and happily welcome you and your loved ones to join our Regency Pineville family today.
Written by: Katie Hanley
There are many great reasons for retirees to visit or relocate to the area, but one key to the quality of life among the modern skyscrapers and historical landmarks is the rich abundance of things for seniors to see and do in Charlotte, NC – many of the activities at a reduced price for seniors, or free.
Regency Retirement Village at Pineville is located about 14 miles from Downtown Charlotte, which offers a wealth of things to see and do. The major attractions are:
McIntyre Historic Site – History buffs will love exploring what was the setting of a 19th-century gold rush and a Revolutionary War skirmish between British soldiers and American patriots. Enjoy a picnic at “The Battle of the Bees” and take a walk down the 1.3 mile nature trail.
BB&T Ballpark – Take me out to the ballgame! The BB&T ball field is a minor league baseball park and home to the Charlotte Knights. Located across the street from Romare Bearden Park, enjoy a home game with the family, and maybe a bag of peanuts and cracker jacks, too.
The Billy Graham Library – Explore over 40,000 square feet dedicated to America’s favorite pastor, Billy Graham. You will learn about his dynamic journey of faith in the one and a half hour tour filled with stunning multimedia presentations, interactive kiosks, photos, and memorabilia. Admission is free, but if you’d like to make a contribution, donations are accepted in the lobby.
NASCAR Hall of Fame – Calling all NASCAR fans! Walk through the Ceremonial Garden to see the names of legends that decorate the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a museum honoring the history and heritage of racing. Tickets are available online or in-person at the box office. Admission is $17.95 for seniors 60 and up, and you must have a photo ID. Sign up to join the membership program - all members get in free of charge!
Charlotte Comedy City Tour – Learn and laugh on the Funny Bus! Learn more about the rich heritage of Charlotte with a 90 minute tour around the Queen City. Along with your guided tour of the city’s architecture and history, this mature comedy bus tour will throw in a good laugh or two! The price is $25 per ticket. While the bus is not wheelchair accessible, you can call to discuss your specific requirements.
Freedom Park – This beautiful 98-acre park is the ideal spot for people-watching or entertaining grandchildren. Enjoy batting cages, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts, and also a concession stand. This park is family-friendly for kids of all ages to play.
Discovery Place – For those seeking an attraction to entertain grandchildren, you’ll hit pay dirt here. Science comes alive in the multiple exhibits designed for children. At Discovery Place, they’ll explore hands-on activities that encourage science in the world around them.
Carolinas Aviation Museum – Earn your wings! Browse through the 40,000 square foot hangar of Charlotte Douglas Airport, which originally consisted of only one building. The museum includes crafts of commercial, military, civil, and helicopter aviation. General admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 6-18 years of age. Be sure to ask about senior and military discounts!
Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary – Located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, this tranquil garden and bird sanctuary offers shelter for songbirds and wildlife alike. Rich in Southern horticulture, the gardens welcome visitors of all ages to discover and learn about wildlife preservation.
Tour De Food Charlotte – Take a guided tour through the city to learn all the local dives and dig in! Along the way, your tour guides will inform you about the historic facts and architecture of the Queen City. Depending on the tour, prices vary from $30-$60 per person. Wheelchair accommodations can be made upon request.
Senior discounts are available at select hotels, retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores near these attractions. At Regency Retirement Village at Pineville, we arrange for our residents to participate in group outings to local attractions. Being part of a group of peers living together in Charlotte Assisted Living makes for a great way to experience these sights and sounds.
To learn more about things for seniors to do in Charlotte NC, visit http://www.charlottesgotalot.com/
Written by: Katie Hanley
Caring for an aging loved one can prove to offer many challenges, especially when siblings and other family members don’t see eye to eye. But when everyone can put aside their differences and work together, it allows seniors and their families to overcome obstacles and avoid the arguing and strife. In this month’s blog, let’s take a minute to look at some the obstacles families may face as senior parents become incapable of living without day-to-day assistance, as well as the solution for each to achieve family harmony.
1. The Needs Are Viewed Differently
In most cases, it is extremely common for the parent-child-sibling relationship to differ when it comes to perceived needs and assistance. The senior parent or sibling may likely say they are well, either from denial or fear of moving into an assisted living arrangement, but in reality they are needing of daily care and are thus refusing to accept outside help. For instance, do they require extra help getting around the house as their mobility is declining? Or is the onset of memory related disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer's, beginning to affect their daily activities? It is natural for the senior to perceive they are fine and to become defensive when confronted with a different appraisal of the situation.
Possible Solution: When families disagree about how much care an aging parent needs, if the senior parent needs care at all, the conflict can often be addressed by consulting expert guidance and receiving a professional recommendation. Arrange a visit, either at home or in office, to speak with the senior’s primary physician. The advice from a healthcare professional can help to definitively identify the needs and suggest an appropriate care plan for your senior loved ones. Doing so may eliminate the conflict that prevents necessary care actions. Talking with a Regency community consultant may alleviate some misconceptions that might cause aging parents to dread the inevitable.
2. Parents Resist Senior Care
It’s normal for seniors to feel apprehensive about transitioning into assisted living. This sensitive topic can easily cause anxiety and hurt feelings, if not expressed properly. Often, a lack of effective communication results in talking down to one another instead of listening one another.
Possible Solution: When approaching the conversation of assisted living with parents or loved ones, be concise, clear, and to the point. Let them know that you’re not trying to hurt their feelings in any way or “get rid” of them. Do your very best to express your concerns so they know that you are coming from a place of love. Also, do your best to listen to their concerns. It’s critical to provide and educate your aging parent about the many options. Today’s assisted living communities have all the comforts of home and so much more! In attempting to convince even the most incorrigible parent to consider the idea of senior care, remember to never hide any information from them. Chances are they will find out and feel that the move is a forced migration. Be open, upfront about the process of finding senior care options, and include them in every step, if possible. Lastly, take things slow if your situation gives you this luxury. Chances are a decision regarding future care plans will likely not happen overnight. Senior care specialist Debra Feldman recommends having patience and understanding in situations where resolution takes time to come to an agreement. Arranging to stay overnight in an Assisted Living community can help the senior grow more comfortable with the idea.
3. Primary Control in Decision Making
A scenario similar to the first example, occurs when one member of the family takes the responsibility as primary caregiver, leaving everyone else without say, sometimes, even the senior. This can result in one sibling’s full control of deciding how the parent is cared for, along with their estate and inheritances.
Possible Solution: Broaching the topic of assisted living and estate planning is never easy, especially if the conversation does not happen until after one member of the family has assumed full control. And while avoiding the topic may seem easier to keep the peace, family members should always approach concerns regarding the well-being of an aging parent, even though it hurts to not feel included. If a dispute arises regarding estates and inheritances, consider contacting a family mediator. They will analyze each situation fairly and objectively. While compromise may not be found through a mediator, if a will has been written, legally there is no reason for concern. At the end of the day, the focus should be that the care needs of your loved ones are being fulfilled.
Written by: Katie Hanley
The blooming trees, flowers, and warmer weather signal the return of springtime for Charlotte seniors to get outside and enjoy. While there are many ways for any senior to enjoy the beauty that comes along with the season’s change, caution and preparedness are imperative to ensure safety against the sun, when spending time outdoors.
“Oh my goodness it’s already April!” said Jamie Jollie, Executive Director at Regency at Pineville, in the most recent newsletter. “We are so excited to have the flowers blooming and residents sitting outside, goodbye to the cold!”
While mobility issues may keep some seniors from fully enjoying Mother Nature’s great outdoors, most agree that even sitting outside and breathing in the fresh air is a welcome change, after the long winter months. Before being too physically active, it is important for individuals to speak with a doctor in order to be aware of any limitations. Regardless of how time is spent soaking up the sunshine, Vitamin D will also be soaked up, which is very important for everyone. It is not only important for bone strength, but research is now showing that there is a link between Vitamin D and improved cognitive function.
Here are 10 ideas for seniors in Charlotte to do in springtime:
Additionally, there are plenty of local events, fairs, and festivals in Charlotte to take part in and choose from, depending on personal interests.
One thing for seniors to remember when getting out into the warmer weather and sunshine is to prepare and be cautious in order to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other side effects that can accompany prolonged heat exposure.
A few tips to remember are:
These are just a few tips to enhance enjoyment of spring and the warmer weather, in a safe way.
To learn more about Regency at Pineville, call us at (844) 425-4254.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether the Internet is a benefit or a burden. Some see its limitless potential to connect us, and others are apprehensive about how it affects everything from our in-person relationships to industries like publishing and retail. One way to make up your mind is to try the Internet out for yourself— it doesn’t take too much tech savvy to get started, and you might find that, like 58% of seniors who surf the web, it has the potential to broaden your horizons beyond, say, Charlotte, North Carolina, and give you a way to explore people, places, and things all over the world.
Play chess or Scrabble with fellow gamers in England or Alaska, learn new gardening techniques, read movie reviews, discuss politics and religion with people all over the United States, find new crossword puzzles, preorder books, or even learn a new language! One of the best features of the Internet that many seniors log on for is in order to stay in touch with loved ones who live far away and make sure they’re involved in their communities. Seniors can sometimes feel as if their worlds get smaller after retirement, which is why senior living communities like Regency Charlotte can have such great appeal, with plenty of fellow neighbors, activities, and excursions to bring residents together. The Internet can be yet another way to expand your horizons and try new things that you might not have gotten to try while you were busy with work and the kids, or learn about new topics, like what your grandchildren are into this week.
While there are many benefits to online access, there are some downsides, too. When the postal service was first invented, criminals quickly found ways to use it to scam people, and the same is true of when telephones became wide spread. As technology takes leaps and bounds, so do new types of crime. However, there are a number of ways that you can keep your personal information safe and enjoy the best of the web while keeping the worst out of your life.
You can start by signing up for an email account with a service that has strong security and spam filters, like Google Mail or Yahoo Mail. This will protect you from having to deal with most of the junk mail you receive. You can also choose a strong password that will be hard for cyber criminals to hack. It’s best if it’s a random assemblage of symbols, numbers, and letters that doesn’t add up to a word as do, for example, “grandma1982” or “ILoveCarolinaPanthers777.” Your password should be eight characters or more.
It’s also a good rule of thumb never to open email attachments or download files from suspicious sites, unknown senders, or pop-up windows. Sometimes files may download automatically. If so, you should immediately delete them. If you receive an email message from a stranger with a suspicious looking file, you should mark the message as spam so your email program will know to filter messages like it in the future. If a message appears to be from someone you know, but you aren’t 100% sure, check in person or over the phone. Scam artists may use innocuous statements like “How are you doing?” or “I just wanted to check in on you” to appear like concerned friends or family and lure you into a conversation through which they will try to build on your trust and get you to share information like your insurance, credit card, or bank account numbers, or agree to transfer money online or through a wire transfer program.
Install and regularly update your firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software, such as McAfee Anti Virus or Norton. If you have any questions about this software, or other computer-related questions, a trusted resource can be your local computer store, like the Apple Store at SouthPark or Northlake Malls, or Best Buy. You can also talk to a tech-savvy friend or family member in your close circle if you need pointers or aren’t sure if a site or email is trustworthy.
Last, you should have a healthy sense of skepticism for what you read on the Internet. Not everything is professionally written and vetted, and you might run across misinformation or marketing copy that is designed to get you to buy in to items that aren’t what they appear or won’t function as promised. The Internet is a great place to learn about new things, but double check to make sure that sensitive topics like banking, medical advice, stock numbers, or product reviews are credible and accurate. Sites that end in .edu or .gov are more likely to be legitimate and the information solid.
Enjoy using the Internet safely and with savvy to try and learn new things, and stay connected with the wider world around you!
Founded in 1768, Charlotte, North Carolina has seen a lot. So has each generation that’s lived here, with the many exciting changes the city has gone through, from textile hub to national financial center and hot spot for motorsports. Just looking at old photos can get you reminiscing about your time in Charlotte, whether it was for a brief visit or your whole child or young adulthood. We’ve picked four iconic Charlotte places or views that might get you started on a trip down memory lane:
The Oriental Cafe was one of Charlotte’s most beloved and enduring restaurants, in business from the 1920s through the 1980s. Charlotte residents fondly remember the Lobster Cantonese and the chow mein. At its peak, the Oriental had multiple locations in Charlotte. If reminiscing about the Oriental gives you a yen for Chinese, try the Peruasian Restaurant or Jade Dragon.
The Charlotte Coliseum opened in 1956 and ever since generations have been able to enjoy a fantastic array of concerts and sporting events. Bo Didley was the first performer to grace the stage and a number of legendary artists followed, including Judy Garland, Johnny Cash, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Elvis Presley, King of Rock n Roll.
The Savoy Theater opened in 1936 as the Royal Theater, and was an important fixture in the African American community, centered in the prominent Charlotte neighborhood of Brooklyn. It closed in 1963, but many Charlotte natives may remember this being one of their favorite places to spend leisure time.
The 1966 Charlotte skyline shows the beginning of the banking boom with the North Carolina National Bank Building and Cutter Building high rises in downtown. It’s exciting to see how much Charlotte has changed in the past fifty years!
There are so many fun diversions that get put aside over the years as responsibilities take over. Fortunately there’s no time like the present to try something new, or rekindle an old favorite hobby. You’re never too old to reclaim the enthusiasm and curiosity you had as a child and to truly relish how you spend your time.
Here are five ideas for how you can get the most out of your senior years:
1) Take on a new perspective. Painting is not only relaxing creative outlet, it can help you see the world in a whole new way. Whether it’s a watercolor class or trying your hand at an oil painting workshop, you might enjoy capturing moments big and small and communicating something special about how you see the world.
2) Go for a walk! A daily walking route is a fun way to get low impact exercise. It’s also neat to see how the landscape and landmarks change day to day, and to spend time conversing with a friend or simply checking in with yourself.
3) Pick up a fun new game. Whether it’s something a crowd can play like gin or poker something you can arrange tournament style like chess or checkers, or games that test your smarts like Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, playing a card or board game regularly will help keep your mind fit and are a great way to spend time with friends and family.
4) Get involved with a religious or spiritual organization. Not only do you get to explore your faith, you’ll build a new social circle and have a chance to attend all kinds of events from fundraisers to church suppers. Plus the routine of attending services is a good way to create a structure and routine, which might be pleasant in retirement.
5) Writing letters is a wonderful way to stay in touch. There are more options than ever for stationary these days, as many craftspeople have rediscovered the art of letterpress and illustration. Or you could simply pull out some notebook paper and write a good long letter to your loved ones. It’s a more personal way of connecting with those who are far away than email or social media, and your correspondence could be a great keepsake to revisit later.