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 What seems so natural and impetuous, can help seniors that feel isolated and withdrawn, to communicate despite their Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.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
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
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
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.
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.
The Holidays are in the air, and it is time to once again for Charlotte Seniors to consider what to give loved ones for Christmas. To “lend some method to the holiday madness”, experts from the Healthy Aging Partnership offer a few suggestions on shopping for family and friends.
Give Experiences Rather than Things
Time is precious. As a gift, it can take the form of a coupon book for special activities together or passes to local attractions. The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport displays more than 50 static aircraft and is home to the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibit. It offers a senior discount, is wheelchair accessible and has picnic tables. Grandchildren might enjoy a day at Discovery Place or find the Mint Museum of Craft + Design stimulating. Other great experiences are taking a youngster who enjoys sports to a Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Bobcats game or a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame or North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville.
Handmade gifts not only solve the “what to buy” dilemma for seniors with limited finances, they can also transform ordinary objects into fun reminders that family will enjoy for years to come. It can be as simple as a craft made at a Regency activity or perhaps a book that you want to share so a family member can enjoy it as much as you have. A photo album or scrapbook becomes priceless with time passing.
Be Appropriate When Giving
Says the Healthy Aging Partnership: “A modest gift given out of love is more meaningful than a big-ticket item given out of pressure or the desire to impress. Consider the child’s age and read labels for safety hazards. You’ll want to check with parents to make sure they approve of a gift or hadn’t planned on giving (the child) the same thing.”
When in Doubt, Cash or Gift Cards Work Fine
It seems counter-intuitive (if we want to see our gift warmly received) to suggest that we simply give someone money to buy something, but it is not necessarily a sign that we are uninterested in playing detective or haven’t put thought into what someone might like. Especially with teenage grandchildren, gift cards to their favorite stores and money are appreciated more than clothes or things they might need more than they want.
Perhaps the most valuable thing we give our families at Christmas is tradition. Rituals like playing games, watching certain movies, cooking certain dishes, etc., become the things that grandchildren fondly remember and carry on to their own families when they grow up.
From all of us at Regency, have a Merry Christmas!
Regency Retirement Village Charlotte offers seniors a variety of activities meant to enrich their lives. You’re likely to find residents relaxing while creating arts and crafts, playing board games, enjoying a social gathering, or perhaps participating in a church service.
There’s plenty of facility-based activities with opportunities to be social, but Regency Senior Living is located in Charlotte, offering the warmth of small town living with easy access to all that the city has to offer. Our residents have opportunities to participate in outings to movies, musicals or even a local sporting event.
Some great possible outings in this area include:
Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord: NASCAR is huge in Charlotte, and the speedway hosts a variety of auto-themed events, including different types of motorsports racing and car shows.
Carolinas Aviation Museum: Featuring exhibits with aircraft from war and peacetime. Learn about commercial aviation and see military aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.
The Charlotte Knights (a Triple-A baseball team affiliated with the Chicago White Sox): They play at BB&T Ballpark on South Mint Street.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art: It brims with works by Miró, Giacometti, Calder, Warhol and a wealth of other 20th century notables. The previously private collection of the Bechtler family of Zurich, Switzerland was, until now, mostly unseen by an American audience. Accumulated over 70 years, the collection features mid-20th-century modernism.
Billy Graham Library: Visit the Graham Family Homeplace, the Graham Brothers Dairy and Ruth’s Attic Bookstore.
Biltmore: This stunning 8,000-acre estate is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It includes gardens, Antler Hill Village, featuring the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy, Village Green, and Farm – plus shopping and dining.
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center: Site for a wide variety of performances, from musicals and programs for the grandkids. You may see Paula Deen Live, the Charlotte Classic Jazz Festival, standup comedians, or ballet depending on when you visit.
Bank of America Stadium: Watch Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers in the 73,778-sea stadium. A renovation project during the 2014 offseason incorporated state-of-the-art technology into the fan experience.
Charlotte Ballet (formerly the North Carolina Dance Theatre): Programs include The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, and Dangerous Liaisons. This is a world class repertory dance ensemble.
Charlotte Museum of History: It captures and shares the stories of the Charlotte region from settlement forward through exhibits and programs. The museum collects, preserves, researches, and interprets regional artifacts, including the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County, the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Homesite.
Charlotte Nature Museum: Home to all kinds of reptiles —snakes, turtles, lizards and even an alligator. Visitors may walk among free-flying butterflies, observe live animals, buzz around with insects or hang out in the natural world.
These are just a few of the attractions that make Charlotte a great place to live!
There are some common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that kills one in every 3 seniors who dies each year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For example, it is possible to get it while young, although most cases do affect persons 60 or older. And everyone knows about the “senior moments”, but it also involves changes in sensitivity to light and depth perception.
Alzheimer’s patients can have good days and bad ones.
When a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer’s, the person living with it often feels a combination of relief to finally have answers, anger at what life has thrown at them, denial about change, fear and depression about what lies ahead, and a sense of isolation in which no one understands what they are going through.
The emotions can feel overwhelming for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that they are not alone. There are a number of support groups, information online (see below) and resources to preserve quality of life while making the necessary adjustments.
It is critical for someone in the early stages of the disease to make legal and financial plans with a person they can trust while they are still able to participate in making decisions to ensure that others know their wishes, and know what to do.
Changes in thinking may reduce one’s ability to make appropriate decisions about self-care and day-to-day needs as the disease progresses. Difficulty managing personal hygiene or household tasks can lead to unsafe living conditions. Someone in that situation needs to plan ahead for how they will address basic needs, including housing, meals and physical care.
One option available to people in Charlotte is Regency Retirement Village’s Heritage Memory Care Unit.
With monthly rent to Heritage, residents take care of several challenges created by Alzheimer’s. They live in spacious studio apartments with private bathrooms, an enclosed courtyard, and numerous amenities, yet it is also a secure unit with a 24-hour emergency response system monitored by on-site staff.
All utilities are paid. There are smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system. Plus, daily housekeeping service, meals and snacks throughout the day, scheduled transportation to medical appointment and activities, and assistance with the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, walking, grooming and medication management.
Additionally, Heritage is conveniently located off I-485 next to Carolina Medical Center at Pineville and close to physician's offices. Regency even has a beauty and barber shop.
Regency works hand-in-hand with the local Alzheimer’s Association to assist in continued education of our staff, hosting support groups for our families, and educating people in the Chattanooga area.
The association is organizing the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Charlotte on Sept. 27 at Symphony Park. The event raises money to help advance Alzheimer’s support, care and research. To donate and/or participate, visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/NC-WesternCarolina?fr_id=5251&pg=entry or volunteer with Jacob Wilkins at (765) 544-0631.
To learn more about Memory Care at Regency Senior Living, visit http://regencyretirement.net/charlotte-retirement-living-services/charlotte-memory-care-retirement-facility or call (704) 542-9449.
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org/
The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
Alzheimer's Reading Room: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/
The New York Times "New Old Age" Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/