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 What seems so natural and impetuous, can help seniors that feel isolated and withdrawn, to communicate despite their Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.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
The importance of religion and spiritual health in one's life commonly increases with age. It is especially high in seniors. Inside our Regency community, religion has emphatically influenced our residents to live a fulfilling and flourishing life. Whether this takes place in fun-filled group activities, congregational services, singing hymns together, scripture study, or just prayer in one’s own apartment, expressions of faith are vital to the lives of most Regency residents and seniors in general.
But did you know that participating in such spiritual activity offers higher physical and mental wellbeing, and also broadens life expectancy? Health benefits have been known to include offsetting the ill effects of depression, anxiety, and illness amid difficult life circumstances.
Here's the breakdown of studies:
The takeaway from these insights? Religious practices increase happiness, which, in turn, increases health and prosperity in seniors and the community.
At Regency, it could be said that spirituality is the cornerstone of our organization. Being a Christian institution, we value the dedication and sacrament of all religious practices, regardless of culture or belief.
In effort to empower our community and boost health and wellness, we encourage everyone to join us for motivational social events, fun, educational outings, and daily spiritual activities. Come visit us today and see what life at Regency of Charlotte has to offer!
Written by: Katie Hanley
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
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 Christmas season is upon us! With ornaments hung from the tree and hot cocoa brewing, this special time of year celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus, can be filled with joy and cheer. However, it may not always come as a welcome season’s greetings for all. As we age, the holidays can lead to anxiety and sometimes even isolation or depression. With holiday memories of the past surfacing or extreme changes in a living situation. These can all act as triggers, leaving seniors feeling lost from their loved ones around them.
This year, you can make a difference and help beat the holiday blues for the seniors in your life by simply following this guide to making the holidays happy again:
With the many events from Thanksgiving to New Years, there are several opportunities to include them into your holiday plans. Even the smallest of activities can have an immense impact on your senior's life. Whether it’s asking them to set the table, baking holiday cookies with them for Santa, or inviting them to a showing of the Nutcracker ballet. Help make them feel loved by incorporating them into your schedule this holiday season. It will give them the greatest gift of all, precious time spent with family.
Spend quality time with your senior, reminisce about the past, and make new memories together. While those recollections can sometimes trigger sadness, it can also give them something light up about. Telling tales are a great way to engage with seniors, as they have many to tell. As you spend quality time with your loved ones, ask them what their family traditions were like when they were younger. Comparing your similarities is a great way to bond during the holidays. Time spent together will also allow for new family traditions and memories to be made.
Keep things upbeat - If your senior is going through a hard time as a result of mental or health related problems, don’t let it get them down this holiday season. Stay positive! Never make them feel poorly about themselves if they can't do things the way they used to. If you’re senior parent or grandparent is used to cooking the big family meal during the holidays, but are now disabled, find ways for them to participate. For example, let them peel the potatoes or help snap the green beans for Christmas dinner. There are lots of ways to accommodate for your aging senior.
Can’t see all of your loved ones this year? Send them a Christmas card! Seniors love receiving special mail from family members and close friends. It’s not only fun for seniors but for fun for kids, too! Turn it into an annual project for the kiddos. Every year, have them draw Christmas cards to grandparents, great grandparents, and seniors without families here at Regency Assisted Living. It’s a great way to tell them you’re thinking about them this holiday season. But not all messages have to come by mail, you know. For those with long-distance relatives, it is easy to connect virtually over the internet using communication tools like Skype, FaceTime or Facebook Live using a computer, laptop or phone. No matter how far, give your senior loved ones a call to wish them a joyful, happy holidays.
The greatest gift of all, however, is time spent with family during the holidays. At Regency, we encourage our residents’ families to visit or, alternately, pick up their elder family member for a dinner, family get-together, or holiday event. For families who decide to join us during this merry and bright season, our Regency staff and team of culinary chefs work diligently to serve you and your loved ones with a memorable, special meal in our dining room.
Written by: Katie Hanley
It's definitely not hard to acquire stuff throughout the years, yet over time there comes a peak moment when we need to rid our home of clutter and downsize into a smaller space. For most adults, that time happens when our children mature and have a family of their own, or perhaps it’s a result from a healthcare related issue.
For seniors considering decluttering, it may allow you to:
The top 10 dos and don’ts in downsizing:
1. DO NOT Wait
Spread the downsizing process out more than just a few days or even weeks. If time permits, begin at least 6-8 months in advance instead of trying to to make the difficult decisions of letting go in a shorter period of time. Also, be mindful with of your time; even though it may seem as if there is plenty of it – there never is, especially in those with a disability.
2. DO Plan
The professionals at lifehack.org advise thoughtfully planning out before jumping in head first. Take baby steps with identified zones to before beginning the long road to downsizing. For example, plan to start in the closet with old clothes, shoes, and accessories that are never worn.
3. DO NOT Panic
Taking on a big project like this in full can easily start to feel overwhelming when looking at the big picture. Remind yourself that it has taken years to accumulate personal belongings, so the likelihood of finishing in just one day is just not realistic.
4. DO Prioritize
Belongings should be sorted into different 3 identified boxes, labeled as keep, donate, and discard. To prioritize, things that are outdated should be the first to go. For example, books that haven't been read in quite a while, furniture that is never used, et cetera. Strategists from Lifehack suggests discarding anything that does not “spark joy”.
5. DO Make Hard Choices
It’s normal to feel nostalgic about certain items that remind us of fond memories. It’s also normal to feel heartbroken and guilty when disposing of things that are special to us. While it is an extraordinarily difficult time letting these possessions go, remember that one individual's trash is another person's treasure. For making these difficult decisions, use the yes-no method. Simply ask yourself, “Do I really need 10 winter coats?” or “Will I use 3 frying pans?” This step helps the flow of sorting while remaining neutral and concise.
6. DO NOT Create a “Maybe” Pile
This unnecessary 4th pile is a dangerous one. This gray space is where we start to question ourselves, letting doubt come between our progress. The solution? Ask yourself if you have used the item within a year. If not, chances are you won’t again.
7. DO Adapt
Most people prefer to age in place, however, depending on the situation this may not be an option for some seniors. The key is to adapt. Flexibility is crucial when it comes to extreme changes, especially when downsizing. For example, learn to part with belongings that take up too much space, like the never disheveled stack of loose photos. Adapt by scanning them onto the computer to keep them preserved and easily accessed. The same can be applied to music and movies with modern technology devices like Netflix, Spotify, and Apple Tv.
8. DO Repurpose and Recycle
Do consider donating, reusing, and recycling. The neighboring homeless shelters would much appreciate your closet full of unused winter coats. Need some extra pocket change? Post items online, such as eBay or Craigslist. If you have the time, host a garage sale. These methods can lessen the mess in your home and also give a second life to older items.
9. DO NOT Hoard
A senior whose living space has become unsanitary, hazardous, or unable to function may show symptoms of an elderly hoarding disorder Be between being something of a pack rat saving things for a stormy day instead of saving and assembling things that are used, broken, chaotic or of no regard. Gatekeepers may find stores of decline or waste spread all through the house, which makes a dangerous risk for tripping and falling.
10. DO Be Sensitive
If the senior is showing hoarding behaviors, this could be a symptom of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Take note of sudden mood changes, forgetting to take prescribed medications, or letting bills go unpaid. Be sensitive towards seniors struggling to remember. They may start to feel attacked, defensive, or confused when disposing of their things. Patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s should be moved to our Regency Memory Care facility for their daily assisted needs.
It's imperative to start decluttering now, so the move to your new home at Regency Assisted Living can be as fluid of a transition as possible. For more information on downsizing, see tips at http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/15-9-5-senior-downsizing tips/
“Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for the happiness in the future” – Wayne L. Misner
Written by: Katie Hanley
Discussing dementia with a loved one can be a scary and uncomfortable thing to do, especially when you are unsure whether they are having normal, age-related memory lapses or if they are exhibiting signs of something more serious.
As Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80% of all types of dementia cases, it is very important to be aware of early signs and symptoms associated with it. Because Alzheimer’s also causes a slow decline in memory, reasoning, and thinking skills, early signs can be easily confused with normal age-related memory problems in seniors. However, you can distinguish between the two once you know what to look for.
Here are 10 common signs and symptoms associated with early stages of Alzheimer’s, versus age-related memory issues:
If your loved one is showing any of the 10 early signs or symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, it is very important to contact your physician in order to determine the cause. Before assuming the worst, it is important to understand there are many factors that could contribute to abnormal memory loss. For example, treatable conditions like thyroid problems, drug interactions, substance/alcohol abuse, depression, and even a vitamin deficiency could cause some seniors to experience similar symptoms.
Regency at Pineville's Heritage Memory Care Unit offers the finest elderly care for your loved one. Although memory impairments alter an individual's life in a profound way, this does not mean an end to the quality of life or the ability to experience dignity, meaning, friendship and even joy.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is continued research and treatment that is available to slow the progression and worsening of symptoms. Early diagnosis can help improve the quality of life for your loved one, as well as prolong levels their level of independence.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers helpful information regarding symptoms, research, treatment, and support. Visit their website for more information: http://www.alz.org/
To learn more about Regency at Pineville, call us at (844) 425-4254.
Written by Kristen Camden
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!