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 What seems so natural and impetuous, can help seniors that feel isolated and withdrawn, to communicate despite their Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.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
Want to know a fun, free and easy way to instantly feel better?
Not only does having a sense of humor feel good and make life more fun – it can also do wonders for the mind, spirit and body of Charlotte seniors.
Laughing at a movie or TV show provides a physical emotional release that restores a sense of balance that leaves us feeling cleansed afterward.
Our bodies naturally have antibodies to attack disease, and humor increases the number of them working for us, as well as their effectiveness, resulting in a stronger immune system. The human body also produces several stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine, which laughing meets head on with the triggered release of endorphins. These chemicals not only make us feel good. They also temporarily relieve aches and pains.
Laughter is a distraction that pulls us away from stress, anger, resentment, disappointments, and so forth. It can also keep us grounded in ways that gives us an entirely new perspective on our world. Things that caused worry and angst yesterday can melt into a relaxed state if our mind is pulled into a more positive place.
Most of the things we worry about never even materialize, so humor can make us more playful and creative rather than anxious, angry or sad. When we are relaxed, the tension in our muscles gives way and blood vessels flow more effectively, reducing the dangers of heart attacks.
The unfortunate thing is most people do not laugh nearly enough, but we can often manufacture a state of laughter by smiling, which tends to attract others, which creates opportunities to laugh while participating in fun activities like miniature golfing or bowling.
Trying watching a funny movie on TV and see if your chuckles do not cause you to feel noticeably better.
A 2009 Pew Research survey found that the older people get, the younger they feel, relatively speaking. That’s great news because by acting as young as you feel, you can say “no” to all the clichés that being elderly automatically means declining health. When acting young and keep you young, there’s simply no reason not to keep it up.
One of the keys to acting as young as you feel is taking time to know yourself in a deeper way. Write down what you are grateful for in a journal each morning and maybe learn to meditate. Take thoughtful walks and try to use your time mindfully. Observe the world with a more careful eye.
Now that you are retired and your children have grown, there’s more room in your day to savor the world around you, and to notice the little things that make it so lovely. Try to return to that place of wonder and surprise that you had when you were much younger, before you got so busy and caught up in daily routine.
Living more intentionally in this way will make it easier to enjoy everything you do, from the activities and social events at your retirement community to fun happenings around town. Go for a stroll at Wing Haven Gardens, or the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Attend one of the Shakespeare performances or wine festivals at The Green in city Center, a favorite spot for things to do in Charlotte. In spring the Sensoria Festival hosted by the Central Piedmont Community college will give you a lot to consider, with many writers and visual artists from around the world sharing their work.
You don’t have to be a stereotype as you get older. Forget the seniors you see in movies and books—there are as many ways to be in retirement as there are retirees. Embrace everything there is to do at your senior living facility and enjoy this new opportunity to take on live with a different perspective.
Travel has never been easier than when you live in a retirement community. You know everything at home will be well taken care of while you are gone, and you can have peace of mind during your trip. There’s also no better time to travel than when you are retired—with a freer schedule, senior discounts, and plenty of independence, this is your moment to see the world. We have a few tips to have the most fun:
· Pack extra items like hearing aid batteries, insulin syringes, camera batteries, and any over the counter or prescription medications you take regularly. In a pinch you can find these overseas or in different parts of the country, but you might run into different brand names or dosages, especially outside the US. Taking extras and keeping everything in your carryon will reduce the chance of confusion.
· Research the trip you’re planning yourself. Travel agents can be very helpful, especially if you need extra accommodation for a disability or another reason. However, you can often find good deals on your own with a little internet research. AARP and AAA can be great resources that will also help you avoid scams. Try sites like Kayak or Groupon as well to put all the pieces of your trip together or pick up a great deal.
· Have fun customizing your trip. Even if you are going on a guided, contained tour there is often free time you can use to pursue more specific interests. Tour guides may be willing to take their party’s interests in account and add in the occasional detour. No matter what form of trip you are taking, make it your own.
· Plan in time to recover. That doesn’t mean staying at the hotel to rest, but if you are spending all day on your feet in a museum, consider using the next day to take a ferry to the next destination or touring by double-decker bus.
· Don’t forget the electronics! You’ll want to make sure your camera memory card is cleared off beforehand, and that you have the charger, cable to connect it to a computer, laptop charger, cellphone charger, and more. Store everything together in a Ziploc bag to protect from moisture and getting tangled or misplaced.
It’s so much easier to plan ahead for a fabulous trip when your everyday life is already simplified by a reliable retirement facility. Senior housing makes it easy to do what you want by taking the load off your day-to-day routine. That confidence can make for an amazing travel experience, knowing that everything at home is in good hands and ready for your return. So go on—have an amazing getaway!
More and more people are talking about downsizing these days. Once the stuff of empty nesters moving into smaller homes, downsizing isn’t just for retirees anymore. Many are realizing the benefits of small space living, or simply living with less. This is great news for the seniors who are making a move. By looking at the larger conversation about downsizing and seeing how folks of all ages approach pairing down your possessions, you can make your transition quicker and easier!
One method that’s gotten a lot of press recently is the 100 Things Challenge. Based on a book by Dave Bruno, the Challenge is exactly what it sounds like– reducing the number of possessions you have to just 100! It’s not that we recommend doing something that extreme, but it’s an inspiring place to begin planning your downsize. If you could only pick 100 things according to the rules of the challenge, what would you choose?
By doing this exercise on paper, it can help you see both what you need for day to day living and what special things you couldn’t part with because of the memories they hold. From there, you can add to your list of things that will move with you based on the space you will have. Thinking in terms of your 100 most essential things can help you see what you already have in your home in a whole new light, such as the cast off musical instruments your kids tried out in school, shoes you no longer wear, forgotten wedding gifts or kitchen gadgets you rarely use.
This will make deciding how much space you need at your new home easier, and reduce the amount of time and money you spend packing and moving. Downsizing can save you a lot of money—especially if you sell your home and reinvest the proceeds, and from the lower cost of living that comes with lower property taxes, utilities, and more. You might even make some money off the items you choose to sell.
No matter who you are and your reasons for downsizing, whether you want a simpler lifestyle, have your eye on an urban condo, or have picked senior housing as your new home, it’s always good to take stock of what you have. By checking in on your lifestyle in a conscious way, you can get closer to the life you want to live. What better time than retirement to get your life closer to your dreams? Downsizing can help you get there!
Charlotte, North Carolina is regularly picked as one of the best cities in the country for retirees. And no wonder—in addition to a great climate, reasonable cost of living, and fantastic cultural options, Charlotte area businesses boast many senior discounts that help seniors do more for less. From restaurants to activities to transit, Charlotte clearly has a lot of respect for its retirees, and welcomes them with great deals.
There are, of course, the national chains that often offer senior discounts are various locations. Goodwill outlets throughout the Charlotte region offer anyone 55 or older a whopping 25% off on Tuesdays. Bealls, Big Lots, and Rite aid also offer retail discounts for those at various age cutoffs. Chilis, Boston Market, Bennigans, Denny’s and Arby’s all offer about 10% off to seniors, or a free drink with an order.
What’s especially exciting, however, are the deals from local businesses firmly entrenched in the local community. You can take a trip with your grandchildren to the Carolinas Aviation Museum, which offers discounts for both children and seniors. Grab a bike to cruise to your favorite galleries, shops, and restaurants at a Charlotte B Cycle bike share station, which provides a promotion code for a $10 discount on the annual membership. Both Renaissance Park and Regent Park golf courses offer special senior rates. And if you want to hit the road and get out of town, head to Amtrak’s Charlotte station and 15% off your fare if you are 62 or older!
In a city that already offers so much to its retirees, it’s wonderful to find the city welcomes seniors down to the last detail! When you retire to Charlotte, you retire to a city that takes care of its own