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We’ve covered a great variety of health topics on our blog—most of which focus on encouraging older adults toward an active lifestyle to support their social, physical, and emotional wellbeing. This month, in recognition of National Men’s Health Month, we want to focus on a topic important to men’s emotional and mental health: depression in men. To be clear, depression is not a part of the normal aging process. Depression in older adult men can be overlooked when other health conditions are present, such as dementia. This makes it all the more important to understand and be able to recognize depression in older adult men.

The experience of depression can be quite different for men compared to women. It’s important for loved ones to be able to understand a man’s unique experience of depression so they can best provide support for coping with this serious mental health condition. 

Who Suffers from Depression?

Of all the mood disorders, depression is the most common, afflicting over 21 million Americans from all ethnic groups, ages, and backgrounds each year. Annually, over six million men suffer from depression. In general, men (compared to women) have been less open about reporting symptoms of depression to a healthcare provider. In recent years, thanks to high profile stories of men speaking openly about their mental health and a movement to de-stigmatize conditions like depression, men have been more forthcoming about their struggles with depression.  

There are still generational differences around mental health, including depression. Some older adult men may not be willing to admit to feeling depressed—they may look for a “logical reason” for what they are feeling, and become despondent and/or angry when they can’t pinpoint that reason to explain their depressed mood. 

A Man’s Experience of Depression

Ups and downs in mood are a natural part of being human. Hour to hour, day to day, our emotions can shift based on events in our lives and our perceptions of these events. Clinical depression in men reflects a disturbance in mood and emotion over a period of time, interfering with a person’s usual daily routine and their ability to derive enjoyment from living as they usually do.

If you are concerned that a man in your life may be struggling with depression, ask yourself if there is evidence of the following signs/symptoms:

  • Uncontrolled anger or violent behavior that is uncharacteristic of them
  • Increased use of alcohol / tobacco 
  • Reckless behavior 
  • Changes in usual eating & sleeping habits that persists for 2+ weeks
  • Frequent complaints of headaches, physical pain, or similar
  • Feeling unrelenting pressure, even when simple requests are made
  • Changes in how they view themselves and their life
  • Decreased desire for social interaction, relationships, and intimacy
  • Not able to experience joy in things that usually hold meaning/interest for them

What Can Trigger Depression in Older Adult Men?

For older adult men, depression can be triggered by situations that create feelings of helplessness, anger or stress, such as: 

  • Overwhelming change in responsibility at work or home, including caretaker duties
  • Retirement, particularly if there isn’t a plan for it
  • Feeling dissatisfied with their accomplishments in life
  • Unanticipated changes in relationships (loss, illness, broken ties)
  • Chronic illness, injury, disability that alters lifestyle & independence
  • Changes in memory / other areas of cognitive function
  • Financial problems

Remember: There isn’t a single cause of depression; sometimes, it can afflict a man for no apparent reason. This is why addressing depression must consider biological (genetic factors), psychological, and social factors as well as things like lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills.

What Can Older Adult Men Do to Protect Against Depression?

Men can do many things to help protect against risk of depression. The following healthy living tips are a good start:

Get Cuddly. Hugs, a gentle hand on the back, and other affectionate touch is shown to reduce stress, and lower heart rate and blood pressure. It also increases the hormone oxytocin, which plays a role in our desire for social and romantic bonding. Touch, ideally, is between two people who care for one another’s well being, but older adults can also benefit from cuddling a dog—a live animal or a robotic therapy pet

Stay Social. Older adults need in person social connections to support their emotional wellbeing. People who maintain social ties—over a cup of coffee, lunch, dinner, or a game of cards—have lower risk for depression and other health problems, tend to live longer, and report having happier lives, overall.

Eat a Brain Smart Diet. The food you eat influences the production of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that play a role in regulating emotional experience and mood. A brain smart diet includes primarily plant0based whole foods, lean cuts of poultry and fish, and, less frequently beef, as well as a variety of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. 

Mood Lifting Movement. There’s a significant link between exercise and positive mood. You don’t need to have a racing heart rate to get the mood boosting effects of exercise. You can benefit from taking a stroll through your neighborhood, dancing in your living room, splashing around in the pool, plating catch, or even doing yoga in a chair. If you can get a partner to join you, even better: You’ll reap the benefits of social connection while engaged in mood lifting movement! 

In older adults, what looks like depression could be another underlying health condition—such as sleep deprivation or dementia. And, some health conditions common to older adults can mask a depressive disorder. If you suspect that you, or a loved one, is experiencing depression, please speak to a healthcare provider right away. 

Resources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Men’s Mental Health” 

Mental Health America. “Depression” 

Murray, M.T. and Pizzorno, J. “Depression.” Cited in Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (3rd Ed.) 2012. New York, NY: Atria Paperback: Simon & Schuster, Inc.  p. 497-498.

When Mom resides in an assisted living facility, Mother’s Day might look different than celebrations in years past. However, you can bring a unique Mother’s Day activity to her at her residence. Take a look at our list of festive ideas to inspire how you share this special day with your mom.

Planning a Special Mother’s Day in Assisted Living

Before you make plans, be sure to check with the staff regarding updated policies and procedures at the assisted living community. This is especially important if your mom happens to be taking medications or has had a recent change in their health status that could affect her mobility, energy level, or social skills.

If your original plan requires accommodations, ask the staff to assist you in accordance with your mom’s needs and the facility policies.

A Day of Reminiscing. If Mom lives close enough to her original hometown and you can have her out and about for the day, then plan to take her down memory lane! Begin with brunch at her favorite restaurant and car ride or stroll around the old neighborhood. Bring her by schools, homes of friends, parks, and other places she frequented during her life and in raising her family. If some of those places no longer exist, you can show her how the neighborhood has changed. Alternatively, you can bring out old photo albums and gather the kids and grandkids to hear Mom share stories of her youth. Wrap of the day with a home-cooked meal or a meal all together back at the assisted living facility. 

Spend Time on Her Favorite Hobby. Maybe your mom has had a lifelong love of gardening, or art, or reading books. Pick-up some terra cotta pots, assorted bulbs and live plants and plan a day of potting plants that will bloom in the weeks to come. This will provide healthy décor for her living space and serve as a beautiful reminder of your time together. Similarly, you could bring a paint and pottery project to her and makes something together, visit local art museums, or take her to a thrift bookstore to stock-up on new reads. Conclude the day with dinner out or at her residence.

Create a Family Recipe Book. Spend the day cooking favorite meals from your childhood—and hers! Prepare a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. In between the cooking and eating, gather together all the recipes that mom has kept over the years—including all those “secret ingredient” ones she tries to keep from everyone. Work together to create a paper or digitized family recipe book. 

For any of these activities, you can have the grandkids and any of your siblings stop by throughout the day, or the weekend, to participate. 

Tips for Making Mother’s Day Meaningful for YOUR Mom

If these ideas aren’t on par with what will work for your mom, the following tips may help you come up with meaningful ideas that are just right for your mom:

What are some of your mom’s favorite things from over the years: music, books, hobbies, places? Brainstorm ways to bring those things into her assisted living residence. For example, she may not be able to visit Hawaii again, but you can put together a slideshow of her trip there and watch Hawaiian themed movies, together. 

Does she still have close friends from her neighborhood? If so, consider bringing some of these folks to her on your next visit, or arrange a group video call.

Does she have a bucket list item? Consider some of the things your mom has always wanted to do or see—and try to find a way to bring that wish to life for her.

There are many ways to make Mother’s Day special for a mom residing in assisted care. A little creativity and a lot of love and thoughtfulness will help you plan a wonderful celebration with, and for your mom.

Spring is blooming all around us and as soon as the chill leaves the air, you’ll be wanting to step outdoors to recreate. Older adults can keep the spring in their step and prevent falls by maintaining a simple routine of balance and strength building exercises.

If you’ve felt unsteady around your home during the winter months, or if you (or a beloved older family member) have a history of falling or being unsteady, it’s important to step into physical activity with extra caution. Though it is tempting to venture out on a long walk on the first warm day of the spring season, not being physically ready for the increase in physical activity can lead to a potentially devastating fall or other injury. Older adults want to pay attention developing and maintaining balance, coordination, and strength in the legs as well as their core muscles around the midsection. 

“Having good balance can help older adults avoid both the frequency and the severity of their falls, reducing the the likelihood they will suffer a serious injury that will lead to a significant and permanent change in their quality of life. That is why exercise is so important on a daily basis!”

~ Michael Levandowski, B.S. EP-C, CDP, Everbrook Exercise Physiologist

The following are basic exercises that senior citizens can be doing year-round, particularly during the weeks and months leading up to spring. If you haven’t participated in an exercise program in quite a while, be sure to get cleared by your physician before you begin. Also, seek the guidance of a certified fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults.

Strength and Balance Training: Essential for Older Adults

For older adults, certain movements or activities can present cause them to feel unsteady and increases their risk for falling, such as:

  • squatting to pick up an item from the floor
  • standing up from a chair
  • sitting down into a low seat
  • walking on uneven surfaces
  • pivoting to reach for an object or move out of the way of something

Exercises for Fall Prevention in Older Adults

Sit-to-Stand Exercise

The sit-to-stand exercise builds leg strength and improves body mechanics and balance, which are important in reducing falls. This exercise mimics the movements that are necessary to rise from a seated position and return to that position. Seats of varying heights can be used based on a person’s starting range of motion and ability to move independently or with an assisted device such as a cane or walking stick. 

Balance Training Exercises

The ability to stand on both feet, and on either foot independently, is essential for fall prevention as well as for climbing or descending a flight of steps. At home, it’s easy to work on balance training exercises. Just be sure you are nearby a steady piece of furniture, such as a couch or a countertop that you can easily reach out to if you do feel unsteady.

Standing Feet Apart

Start with both feet on the ground, shoulder distance apart. Stand without holding onto anything for 10 seconds, working your way to 1 minute for a set of 3-5 repetitions. 

Standing Feet Together

Start with both feet on the ground, shoulder distance apart. Stand without holding onto anything for 10 seconds, working your way to 1 minute for a set of 3-5 repetitions. 

Standing on 1 Foot at a time

  • 2. 2-3 sets for 10-12 repetitions 
  • Perform with eyes open and with eyes closed

Yoga or Tai Chi Class

If you are already steady on your feet. Practicing yoga or Tai Chi 1-3 times a week is an excellent way to maintain and even improve your strength, balance and coordination. You might also benefit from a regular workout, twice a week, using strength training equipment under the supervision of an exercise specialist, as noted above.

Fitness and Wellness at Everbrook Senior Living

Senior fitness and wellness are a priority at Everbrook Senior Living. Whether you are part of our independent living community or require assisted living services, our cutting-edge exercise program is led by a certified exercise physiologist who delivers evidence-based, safe and fun exercises designed for older adults. In addition to a focus on individual needs, we also offer a variety group exercise and Wellnes 4 Later Life programs, all designed to help you feel your best at every age and state of life.

We’d love for you to see what the Everbrook family of senior living residences has to offer you. Get in touch with us, today, to schedule a tour.

Additional Resources on Fall Prevention Exercise for Older Adults

National Council on Aging

Tufts School of Medicine “Exercise Decreases Fall Risk for Elderly People”

Is forgetfulness, faulty memory, or even dementia hardwired into the brain’s destiny as we age? 

Some scientists think that terrifying idea may hold some truth; but hope lies with scientists who are studying just the opposite question: 

What can we do to protect brain health, particularly as we get past age 40 and progress into the older adult years? 

One important area of research is the role of nutrition for a healthy older adult brain. What we are leaning is that, indeed, key nutrients and dietary habits can help protect the integrity and longevity of brain cells and nerve pathways. 

Let’s learn a bit more about how older adults should eat to nourish a healthy brain!

Dementia:What Happens to the Brain?

Scientists believe the dementia disease process begins when protein builds-up in brain tissue, causing damage to nerve cells. This evolves over a period of many years (sometimes as much as 10-20 years) before symptoms show up. Genetics, lifestyle, dietary habits, and environmental factors influence the onset of dementia and the rate of deterioration for each person is different for each person.

Since research shows a variety of factors influence the development of the dementia, it’s important to learn what factors you have the ability to exert some control over—to potentially alter your brain’s destiny, such as

  • Keeping your heart & lungs fit with aerobic activity e.g., walking, swimming, cycling
  • Keeping your muscles limber & strong with activities like yoga, strength training, tai chi
  • Managing stress through relaxation and mindfulness techniques
  • Cultivating resilience and optimism
  • Maintaining a consistent, healthy sleep routine
  • Eating a nutrient rich diet to support the brain (and the body!)

Keep in mind, the earlier in life you establish these habits, the better your overall health will be and the better the protection you give to your nervous system and brain.  Let’s take a closer look at smart eating for older adults. 

Nutrition Tips for Brain Health in Older Adulthood

Choosing fresh, high quality, and nutrient rich foods is the foundation for eating for brain health. Whole foods (not boxed, packaged, and processed), provide the greatest nutrient density and it is nutrients that work in your cells to exert healthy effects on organs and tissues in the body. Plus, fresh food simply tastes better!

  • Select organic foods when you can because this will decrease the food having been exposed to toxins that exist in conventional farm soil and processing methods. 
  • Limit your intake of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol which can draw nutrients away from the cells and flush them out of your body before the bodyhas a chance to absorb them.

Key Nutrients Older Adults Need for Brain Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oil) help reduce inflammation in the body; this includes nourishing and protecting brain cells. Your body cannot make Omega-3 fatty acids, so you must get these nutrients from the food you eat or from a supplement. Omega-3 rich foods include salmon, tuna, halibut, krill, as well as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Ideally, you want to take in 1000-2000 mg of Omega-3s for optimal health and brain support

Vitamin B-6 is known to support the body’s ability to fight germs and produce energy, and it supports brain development early life. As we age, B6 is involved in more than 200 physiological interactions, but with age and typical changes to eating habits, we get less of this nutrient. Studies show high levels of homocysteine have been associated with different types of dementia and general cognitive decline. Vitamin B6 helps the body regulate levels of homocysteine in the blood, so it can support brain health. Foods rich in B-6 include chicken, salmon, nuts, chickpeas, and some fruits. A b-6 supplement should be discussed with your physician to be sure you don’t take too much.

Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in plants, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This means these plant chemicals help protect cells from inflammation and do a better job of reducing inflammation that does occur. To get your daily dose of brain-boosting polyphenols eat 5 servings a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Probiotics have been getting a good deal of attention for the role they play in supporting gut health. You might have heard about the gut microbiota and the microbiome? Well, as it turns out a healthy gut supports the immune system, helping to keep undesirable bacteria levels low, and encouraging good bacteria to flourish. There’s also emerging research showing strong connections between gut health and brain health (known as the gut-brain-axis). It seems certain probiotics can protect from cognitive decline and/or support healthy cognitive function, but more conclusive evidence is needed. There are many strains of probiotics so it’s important to speak with your health provider about which probiotic supplement is best for your brain health concerns. 

These are just a few of the key nutrients that support brain health for older adults. There are other vitamins and minerals, as well as herbs, that can support a healthy, aging brain. Please check-in with your healthcare provider for the approach for your healthcare needs.

Nourishing Mind and Body with Exceptional Amenities at Everbrook

At Everbrook Senior Living, you’ll find exceptional amenities to support your lifestyle. Our best-in-class dining venues provide our residents with nourishing, delicious meals. Our Wellness 4 Later Life offers a variety of activities, excursions, and hobbies to support a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Contact our care coordinators to learn more about our living options—or schedule a tour of one of our charming New England properties. 

Resources 

TED Radio Hour. “Lisa Genova: Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Prevented?”https://www.npr.org/2017/07/21/537016132/lisa-genova-can-alzheimers-disease-be-prevented

NIA.NIH.gov“What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?”https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-causes-alzheimers-disease 

NutritionData.com. Foods Highest in Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Ahttp://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-012140000000000000000.html?maxCount=20 

Alzheimer’s Association. The Healthy Brain Initiative: A national public health road map to maintaining cognitive health. (published with the CDC).https://www.alz.org/national/documents/report_healthybraininitiative.pdf 

Cederholm, T., Salem, N. & Jan Palmblad; ω-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Cognitive Decline in Humans, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 4, Issue 6, 1 November 2013, Pages 672–676.https://doi.org/10.3945/an.113.004556

Thursday, 08 February 2024 13:03

Dark Chocolate, a Healthy Heart & Senior Romance

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Older adults can celebrate Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month by treating their senior sweetie to a heart-healthy treat: Dark chocolate

More than just an indulgence, nutrients found in dark chocolate can support cardiovascular health, which is important for aging adults. But not just any ole’ dark chocolate; you want to indulge in dark chocolate with a high cacao content. What’s so special about cacao? Glad you asked! 

Cacao: Raw Chocolate, Food of the Gods!

Considered by ancient Mayan culture to be the ‘food of the gods,’ cacao is cocoa (chocolate) in a raw, less-processed form. Cacao grows from trees called Theobroma cacao, which are native to South America and West Africa where more than half of the world’s cacao comes from. After harvesting, cacao is processed to make various chocolate products. The more cacao is processed, the more nutrients it loses. Less processing not only helps dark chocolate retain nutrient density, less additives are mixed-in, such as added sugars, palm oils, butters, and artificial flavoring.

To derive maximum health benefit from eating dark chocolate (in moderation) choose chocolate that contains 70-85% cacao (60% is the minimum cacao content).

What Makes High Cacao Dark Chocolate Good for You?

Like most plants, cacao contains nutrients and plant compounds (known as polyphenols) that support health. Dark chocolate, that is minimally processed, contains several health-promoting compounds. When cacao-rich dark chocolate is eaten in moderation as part of an otherwise healthy diet for older adults, it is associated with the following heart-healthy benefits:

  • Antioxidants help to protect the health and integrity of cells and tissues by neutralizing free radical molecules in your body. (Free radicals are by-products of oxidative stress that occurs when your body is exposed to toxins.) Antioxidants are also associated with keeping inflammation at bay, which helps protect health and lower risk for chronic disease.
  • Flavonoids/flavonols are plant compounds that promote heart health by fighting free radicals, supporting blood flow, and lowering blood pressure. In regard to cholesterol, some studies of overweight and obese persons show that dark chocolate reduces LDL particles in the blood vessels; LDL cholesterol is what clogs arteries and leads to heart disease.
  • Magnesium, Potassium, and Zinc are minerals that support muscle tissue, heart function, and immunity. 1

Dark Chocolate as Part of an Older Adult’s Healthy Diet

Knowing that dark chocolate can support heart health isn’t a free pass to eat bars of it every day. When nutritionists and healthcare providers suggest eating dark chocolate, they are talking about an ounce or two a couple of times a week. They also intend for you to reduce your intake of overprocessed sweets and snacks and replace those with cacao-rich dark chocolate. In a nutshell, dark chocolate should a part of an older adult’s healthy diet inclusive of veggies, fruits, lean meats, poultry, and plenty of water.

Check out these 12 healthy versions of dark chocoalte recipes – our favorite: The Dark Chocolate Fondue.

This Valentine’s Day, surprise your sweetie by making cacao-rich dark chocolate fondue and sharing dipped fruit together. Remember to use chocolate ingredients that is 60% or higher in cacao content. 

Fun Flavor Fact: Raw cacao has a unique flavor profile! Depending on the cacao content, dark chocolate can be slightly to very bitter compared to its more processed chocolate cousin. This is why many high-cacao dark chocolate products are infused with other nutrient-dense ingredients, such as dried fruit (raspberry, acai berry, blueberry) or fruit extract (orange, berry) or nuts (walnut, cashew). These ingredients cut the bitterness and enhance the sweet, tangy flavor profile of dark chocolate.

There are many simple ways for an older adult to make, and keep, a New Year’s resolution. Whether you want to exercise more regularly, drink less soda, or learn how to draw, the following tips can help you be successful with your resolution for 2024.

Resolution Making: Getting Started

First, kudos to you for recognizing it’s never too late to make a change, try something new, or otherwise enhance an area of your life.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that change is a process. The more ready you make yourself for it, the easier it can be to follow through to successfully keeping your New Year’s resolution.

A few things to keep in mind:

Know Your Why. Write down why you want to make a particular change. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest about your why. If your motivation for change isn’t important enough to you, you are less likely to stick with your 2024 resolution. Make note of how you want to feel when you achieve your resolution. 

  • Connect emotion to your why to strengthen your motivation and commitment to it: I’ll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I strength train three days per week. 
  • Another strategy for strengthening your why is to link it to something (or someone) of importance to you: Taking this art class will teach me new skills and I’ll be able to socialize with my friends—and maybe make a new one!

Grant Yourself Patience and Kindness. Whether you’re adding a healthy habit like eating more fruit throughout the day or trying to reduce a poor habit such as smoking or watching too much TV, making a change takes about 6 weeks before the behavior becomes routine for you. Be patient with yourself. If you slip-up, intentionally or on purpose, be kind to yourself. Every moment, every day, is a chance to begin again and do better. Berating yourself will only make you less motivated to stick with your resolution. Be kind to you!

Do Set Goals. Don’t Aim for Perfection. Of course, you’ll set goals to guide your process during those six weeks and beyond. It’s also important to understand that making a behavior change involves more than just good planning. There will be emotional ups and downs, progress and setbacks that will be different for each person. Plan for success and be realistic about challenges you may encounter. Try to anticipate how you will handle challenges that pop-up (our list below can help with this). If you are moving toward your goals 80% of the time, you are doing great! 

4 Tips to Help Older Adults Keep Their 2024 New Year’s Resolution

  1. Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers or a health/wellness coach. Working toward a New Year Resolution together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. When asking for support, you might start by talking with the people closest to you and letting them know what you are doing and why. You also can ask for specific help:  When you see me reach for a third cookie, say something to me. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as your progress toward your goal. 
  2. Be Aware of Social Cues. If your bongo/board game buddies typically eat sweet snacks and your goal is to cut back on your sugar intake, you’ll need to make some changes to reduce temptation. Bring your own healthier alternatives to your games and invite everyone to take a 10 min walk between games. 
  3. Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time—and that’s a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks where you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. Making the time may mean waking-up earlier or reducing social media screen time to get moving. Block off those times in your schedule. Of course, life happens and there will be things that get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your routine the following day or as soon as possible. 
  4. Celebrate Success! Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or sticking with a new art class) Rewards need not be expensive; rather, just them meaningful for you such as buying a new workout outfit or a higher quality set of paints and brushes). 

5 Great Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults

The Golden Years can be a time of adventurous change for many older adults—and the New Year is the perfect time to embark on a specific change for yourself… check out these ideas:

  1. Move joyfully. Daily physical activity that you truly enjoy is easier to stick with and it is important for older adult health: moderately vigorous movement supports heart health, strengthens joints, and reduces the risk of injury from falls.
  2. Learn something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for? A language, pickleball, bowling, or calligraphy? The New Year is a great time to learn something new. 
  3. Make new friends, or spend more time with old ones. For older adults especially, loneliness and isolation has serious health concerns, including increasing risk of heart disease and stroke. Let 2024 be the year that you focus on friendship—making new ones or strengthening ties with current friends. If you’re struggling to meet people in your same stage of life, you might consider the benefits of living in a senior community.
  4. Sleep better. Sleep is essential for good health at every age. For older adults, a sound sleep routine supports the health of the immune system, the brain and nervous system (including concentration and memory), and metabolism. Getting restful sleep begins with your pre-bedtime routine and talking with your healthcare provider about any difficulties you are having with sleep. 
  5. Get tech savvy. If you feel lost in the maze of new technology, help is out there! Try to learn and keep up with today’s tech by attending a program at a local library or asking a tech savvy grandchild to show you around a smart phone. With modern tech in hand, you have more opportunity to stay connected with family and friends, learn new things, and even make daily tasks a little bit easier for yourself.

Resources

Young, S. “Healthy Behavior Change in Practical Settings.” Perm J (2014, Fall) 18:4: 89-92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206177

NIH.gov “Changing Your Habits for Better Health.”

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

Medium.com “10 Science-backed Tips to Making a Health Behavior Change that Sticks.” Posted by Paige Brown Jarreua;https://medium.com/lifeomic/10-science-backed-tips-to-making-a-health-behavior-change-that-sticks-8655c3bbde50

APA.org “Making Lifestyle Changes that Last”https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle-changes.aspx

Finding the time for holiday shopping, selecting the right gift for each person at the best price – it's enough to stress out even the jolliest of shoppers. When you have a loved one in assisted living, it can be difficult to know what to gift that person. To help you avoid defaulting to baked goods and gift cards, try the suggestions on our list: “Mindful Gift Giving for Loved Ones in Assisted Living”.

What is Mindful Gift Giving?

A mindful approach to gift giving can ease your shopping stress, help you find greater joy in the giving process, and provide your loved one in assisted care with a more meaningful holiday experience.

To give mindfully, you must give some thought to what you know about your loved one in assisted care and pay attention to what is important to them or needed by them. Mindful gift-giving also requires that you slow down and give thought to why you are giving the gift. You can discern this by engaging in the following simple, pre-shopping exercises:

  1. Jot down, on paper rather than using a device (it’s more mindful this way!) the name of your loved one.
  2. Record what you know about the person, as they are, right now, in there senior living space: 
    • What are their likes, their hobbies, their passions? 
    • What are their pet peeves (we’ll get back to this one)? 
    • How do they spend their day? What could make their day easier or the time pass more meaningfully for them?
    • What causes are important to them?
    • Do they have an unmet need that you’ve observed? 
  3. Contemplate the gift with care and intention. Is a physical gift the best choice for this person, or, is the best choice an experiential gift, such as time spent with you or out with friends? (see our list below)
  4. List ideas for gifts related to what you know about the person (Step 1) – include options for both physical gifts (within your budget) and experiential gifts. 

Mindful Gift Giving for Loved Ones in Assisted Living

The gift of presence. If you recognize that your loved one is lonely – missing their significant other who has passed, or not socializing much at their care facility, give the gift of being there with them. Bake holiday treats together, put on holiday classic music from their generation, and stream a few holiday movies. Play games or make holiday crafts, together. 

The gift of skill or talent. Maybe someone needs your unique skills. If you draw, paint, take pictures, offer to do a portrait of the person – make them feel like a model for a day; then hang the portrait when it is ready. If you are an excellent cook, plan a time to create a few day’s worth of healthy meals or snacks (*aligned with their dietary needs). Then, sit down to enjoy one of those meals, together. Or, teach the person your craft or skill.

The gift of memories. Write a note, a poem, or create a collage of photos and captions of special and everyday experiences that you’ve shared with your loved one or that they’ve shared with others across their lifetime. Reminding them of these special times and giving a memento such as this is a wonderful way to give a gift that keeps on giving.

The gift of helping hands. If you noticed they have an old radio with poor reception, update it. Or, if they are still tech savvy, gift them a digital music player and teach them how to use it. (preload it with tunes they will enjoy). Are there repairs to be done around their assisted living apartment that the on-site maintenance doesn’t take care of? Step-up and help out with that. 

If there are grandkids around, all of these mindful approaches provide an opportunity to create lasting memories, and to share in one another’s life experiences.

With this mindful gifting approach, you can add joy and meaning to the holidays for yourself and your loved one.

If you need more ideas, check out this article from Harvard Health. If you still want to go to a traditional route with gift, have a conversation with your loved ones CNA or other on-site care provider before you purchase something that either don’t need or can’t have in their assisted living space.

Everbrook Creates Home for Seniors at Every Level of Care

Everbrook Senior Living embraces the unique needs and qualities of each of our residents. Muchmore than just a place to live, it is our goal to provide a home for every resident. We are involved in every aspect of the design of exceptional, elegant, and affordable residences from independent living to assisted living and hospice care. We offer first-in-class health and wellness programs that are backed by the latest research. Our team of professionals are thoroughly assessed and bring to their work a devotion to the care of older adults, a willingness to learn from them, and the ability to their interests, personal needs, and sense of community. 

Come see for yourself: schedule a visit, today. 

Thursday, 02 November 2023 15:10

5 Tips to Help Family Caregivers Maintain Wellbeing

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Caregiving for a family member who has a chronic health condition is taxing for even the most resilient individuals. If you are a family caregiver, it is essential for you to take steps to support and maintain your own wellbeing.

With the aging of the U.S. population, more people find themselves in the role of caregiver for an older adult who has a chronic health condition such as dementia, physical disability, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Consistently, those in a caregiving role report high levels of stress. This stress is compounded for those individuals who have careers and families of their own. 

Whether the caregiving role is one you’ve prepared for and willingly taken on or is something that comes as a surprise addition in an already busy life, the stress of caregiving is very real. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent caregiver burnout and support your own wellbeing, including

  • Creating a support network
  • Asking for help 
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Keeping a Self-care Routine
  • Recognizing Caregiver Stress Warning Signs

1. Create a Support Network

It’s essential to build your support network early in your caregiving role. Look for support groups offered through local hospitals, libraries, area agencies on aging, senior centers, and mental health advocacy organizations. Through these groups, you will find helpful resources, guidance for dealing with difficult situations, and the invaluable insights of those who have already navigated caregiving challenges. 

2. Ask for Help

Knowing where to find, and having access to support is not the same as asking for help. If you are overwhelmed, showing signs of caregiver stress (see below), then you must put ego aside and ask for the help you need. Your loved one’s medical provider or patient advocate froma local hospital or support group is a good place to start.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not only for people who meditate. You can learn to bring mindfulness strategies into daily life—from folding laundry to walking the dog. You can also cultivate a formal mindfulness practice, which has been shown to significantly reduce stress, chronic pain, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many community programs such has yoga studios, parks and recreation, YMCA/YWCA offer mindfulness groups or look for a mindfulness-based stress reduction program for caregivers offered through a local hospital or medical arts organization.
Also, see the Zen Caregiving website for resources.

4. Self-care is Essential for Caregivers

There are three things caregivers can focus on to maintain their own wellbeing:  sleep, balanced nourishment, and daily physical movement.

Sleep is essential to overall health and wellbeing. During sleep, the body recovers, heals, and develops innate resources to support how we live, work and play during waking hours. One sure sign that you are getting sufficient sleep is waking-up feeling refreshed and restored. If you don’t awake most mornings feeling this way, then you may want to create a sleep routine. A healthy sleep routine includes going to bed and waking the same time each day; using room darkening curtains; lowering the room temperature; and not using digital devices in the bedroom with the hour before going to sleep. 

Balanced nourishment means including a variety of real, whole foods in your diet—and enjoying sweets and treats in moderation If you eat mostly packaged and boxed foods, your body is not taking in the vitamins and minerals and fuel nutrients (carbs, protein, healthy fats) that it needs for optimal function. Without a balanced diet, you will feel the effects of stress more sharply and you are likely to throw-off your sleep routine, which compounds stress. If you need some guidance on healthy eating to support your caregiver role, local hospitals and wellness centers usually offer nutrition workshops.

Physical Movement – While vigorous physical activity a few times a week is ideal, it may not be realistic for you as a caregiver, to get 3 or 4 workouts in a week. Instead, aim for daily physical movement that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes. This can be a walk, bike ride, working in a garden, yoga, taking a fitness class, or turning on music and dancing in your living room. Movement releases hormones that help support a positive mood, strengthens and tones the body, and helps relieve stress. Find something you enjoy and move every day!

5. Know the Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress 

The stress of caregiving puts the caregiver at risk for health problems such as burnout, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, headache, sleep disturbances, and relationship tension. Warning signs of caregiver stress and burnout can include:

  • Feeling alone
  • Feeling helpless or depressed
  • Isolating from friends 
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Diminished quality of important relationships
  • Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Reduced capacity for coping or problem-solving 
  • Feeling guilty for taking time for yourself
  • Persistent sense of worry or dread
  • Feeling tired often
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming quick to anger or frustration
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medicines
  • Missing your own medical appointments
  • Missing work due to caregiving demands 

If you are experiencing symptoms such as these, it is imperative to seek support and medical guidance so that you can recover your wellbeing and continue to be of support for your loved one.

These are just a few of the many approaches to self-care for caregivers. Additional resources can be found at Mayo Clinic and the Caregivers Actions Network.

If you find the caregiver role has become more burdensome than you can manager and still maintain your health and wellbeing, it may be time to consider other options for your frail loved one. Everbrook Senior Living offers support in helping you make this decision along with the resources and options necessary for placing an elderly older adult in assisted living care.

When it comes to Halloween, you’re never too old to pretend to be something or somebody else! Older adults, and their caregivers, can enjoy a safe, fun, and memorable Halloween through a variety of activities.  

The Halloween activities we’ve chosen for older adults are not only fun, they provide several benefits including:

  • enhancing creativity
  • encouraging positive social interaction
  • improving cognition, memory & learning
  • inspiring playfulness & humor
  • supporting positive emotional states
  • improving problem-solving skills
  • strengthening hand dexterity

Taken together, these benefits support an older adult’s social-emotional and physical well-being, can provide moments of meaningfulness, and foster a sense of belonging. 

The activities on our list are easy enough for you to bring to your older adult family member at their home, or set-up as a group activity at a senior living community or local senior center. 

Cook-up a Scare: Shrunken Head Apples & Apple Tart Pie

Any cooking experience involves a variety of mental and physical tasks. First, there’s thinking that goes into planning and preparing the recipe. Some recipes require a little physical stamina and dexterity during preparation (ex: standing to cut, chop, mix, and serve). 

We chose Shrunken Head Apples because this is a non-edible cooking experience that results in Halloween memento that will last up to a few years! It’s perfect for creating memories with friends, family, and especially with the grandkids. It has many steps involved and is ideal for the kitchen in a senior living center or your home. For an edible favorite, that’s healthy too, check out this Shrunken Head Apple Tart Pie recipe

Deck the Haunted Halls with DIY Halloween Decorations 

One doesn’t have to be an artiste to enjoy making Halloween decorations. From simple paper bat garland to no-carve face-painted pumpkins and wickedly simple-to-make door decorations, there are many safe and fun decorations for older adults to make. Once you have a great selection of decorations, put them up around the house--or deck the haunted halls of the senior living community!

Halloween Trivia & Scary Movie Night

This is perfect for those who don’t enjoy crafting, but want to revel in the spirit of All Hallows Eve. The tv shows movies listed range from horrifying classics to humorously haunting…something for every taste and every age. 

  • The Exorcist
  • Psycho
  • Halloween (the original)
  • Carrie
  • Scream (series)
  • What Lies Beneath
  • Ghostbusters
  • Haunted Mansion
  • We Have a Ghost 
  • Beetlejuice
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Wednesday (Netflix series)

For older adults who don’t enjoy scary-movie marathon, break out the trivia games. Always fun, always entertaining, trivia games tend to bring everyone out of the dungeon to play! Play can be set-up for individuals going head-to-head or competition between teams (be sure to have some fun, and funny, prizes for the winners).

There are many haunted trivia games on the market that you can adapt to suit your audience and game format. Search online for more info on these (or other) games: The Halloween Game Trivia Book, Trivial Pursuit: Halloween Edition, and even some of the Halloween trivia sets made for teachers of school-age kids or this spooky trivia set from the Today Show.

Halloween Costume Ideas for Older Adults

Last, but not least, is to dress-up in a Halloween costume that is safe and fun for an older adult. The ideas we share here are easy to put together from clothing seniors already own, or can modify, or can be found with a little savvy shopping. 

  • Tina Turner 
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Elon Musk
  • Donald Trump
  • Joe Biden
  • Johnny (Cash) and June
  • Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Dorothy and Toto (real dog or plush animal)
  • Cast from Wizard of Oz
  • Snow White & the Huntsman
  • Game of Thrones Characters

If these ideas don’t fit your vision for your haunted alter-ego, by all means bring out the horns, fangs, and broomsticks for a more traditional Halloween costume!

Ahh…Autumn in New England. It’s the perfect time of year to fall into the pages of a good story. 

What’s your reading pleasure? Is it a heart-pounding thriller or a poignant romance? A perilous adventure story or a hilarious whodunnit? Maybe you’re one for historical fiction or true crime? 

No matter the genre, stories are a powerful vehicle for transporting you out of real time and into imaginative places and encounters. But there’s more power in reading than just spurring the imagination: Older adults who are avid book readers are doing a lot to support their health—and they may live longer lives as a result! 

Spoiler alert: Don’t miss the book list—featuring dynamic older adult characters, provided at the end of this post!

Book Reading Supports Good Mental and Physical Health

Reading books can enhance both the mental and physical health of older adults in a variety of ways. The benefits presented in the list below come from research that focused on reading books. Magazines and newspapers are a different type of reading experience; while that type of reading has its own benefits, it is not necessarily the same as when reading books. In fact, when comparing people who read books to non-book readers studies show something very interesting:  Book-readers have a 20% lower risk of mortality compared to non-book readers. Essentially, book reading adds years to your life span! Here are some of the other important ways reading supports older adult health:

  • Reduces stress. When there’s less stress, your body produces less stress hormones and that has a cascade effect on the entire body. Muscles relax. Tension is released. Heart rate and blood pressure are lower. 
  • Promotes a good night’s sleep. Reading within an hour or two of bedtime helps the body settle down and prepare for sleep. Now, you don’t want to be reading on device as screen blue light negatively affects sleep quality. Also, stick with reading something enthralling, which won’t generate worrisome thought. So, keep work-related reading, the daily news, or financial reports off your nighttime reading list.
  • Enhances neural activity. Reading helps the brain forge new neural pathways and strengthen existing neural connections. When you are reading, you’re not away of just how highly active your brain is: The brain is building vocabulary, interpreting context, interpreting characters and their relationships, making connections between the storyline and real life, etc. This neural activity produced while reading promotes brain health.
  • Protective against cognitive decline. By supporting neuroplasticity, the brain and mind stay healthier that means reading can be protective against brain changes in older adults that lead to cognitive decline.
  • Boosts Creativity. Reading is a creative pursuit in itself. It also helps promote your own creativity by way forging new perspective, inspiring new ways to problem solve, or introducing you to a new creative outlet to try. (How often do you read about something before you decide to sign-up for a class or try it out on your own, at home?) 
  • Reduces symptoms of mild depression. Reading can promote problem solving, perspective sharing, understanding, and help an individual foster new associations with difficult emotions. As reading helps enhance positive emotions and reduce negative emotions, it has been shown to reduce symptoms of mild depression

Reading Books as Therapy: Bibliotherapy

You might have heard from someone, or even stated yourself that reading is therapeutic. Now, there is research to back-up the therapeutic value of book reading. 

Bibliotherapy is a creative arts therapy devoted to helping an adult or child move through challenging emotional and life experiences. Using books, primarily, but also poetry and picture books; fiction and non-fiction alike, bibliotherapy provides therapeutic, educational, and developmental support with the goal to improve wellbeing, both overall, and in specific situations (school, work, home, social situations, etc.). It can be used when people are recovering from illness, surgery, a traumatic event, as well as when learning to cope with changes to emotional or physical health.

Five Types of Bibliotherapy

  1. Therapeutic bibliotherapy is used along with psychotherapy and mental health treatment.
  2. Developmental bibliotherapy is used in schools, homes, and organizations to teach and guide.
  3. Prescriptive bibliotherapy is used in medical and mental health settings to educate, inspire hope, support behavior modification, and help with acquisition of new skills.
  4. Creative bibliotherapy is used in groups, such as book clubs or support groups in which literature is discussed for its transformative, educational, or inspirational power.
  5. Informal bibliotherapy is what we all do when we choose a book because we believe that reading it will help us learn something new or cope better with a given situation.

You might find yourself engaged in informal bibliotherapy upon learning about a new medical diagnosis, or if you are part of a support group for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, or if you are part of a reading group or other type of interest group in your community.

The benefits of bibliotherapy go beyond the benefits of book reading, in general, including but not limited to: helping to reduce clinical symptoms, improve social functioning, reduce loneliness/isolation, instill hope, foster creativity and problem solving, and support recovery.

Books Featuring Older Adult Characters

Having the opportunity to read books that feature characters similar to ourselves as well as those with life experience different from our own is one of the unique features of the reading experience. We asked a few librarians, and we discovered some terrific online resources, to curate this book list—all featuring older adult protagonists, villains, and sidekicks. 

Happy Reading!

Romance

  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson.

An unlikely friendship—and something more—blossoms between the retired Major, a proper Englishman and Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. But can it survive village gossip and the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?  NY Times Book Review

  • Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure, by Courtney Milan

Mrs. Bertrice Martin—a widow, some seventy-three years young—has kept her youthful-ish appearance with the most powerful of home remedies: daily doses of spite, regular baths in man-tears, and refusing to give so much as a single damn about her Terrible Nephew. Then proper, correct Miss Violetta Beauchamps, a sprightly young thing of 96 (ahem, “nine and six”), crashes into her life. When you’re of a certain age, your take on life looks a lot different and Mrs. Martin is going to have the adventure of a lifetime doing things and exploring relationships on her own terms. Author’s Website

Comedic

  • The League of Pensioners (series), by Catharina Ingelman Sundberg

In this series, Oceans 8 meets The Golden Girls! The Senior League—five residents of the Diamond Retirement Home—Martha, The Genius, The Rake, Christina and Anna-Greta—turn to a life of crime. You’ll be laughing all the way to the end as you follow this cracker-jack gals through three books in the series. Learn More

Suspense

  • Before She was Helen, by Caroline B. Cooney 

As the story in this book opens, there’s a retirement-community caper in process. A missing neighbor. A shiny, mysterious object left in place. A photograph that goes viral and an identity long kept hidden faces risk of being exposed. And the dead body pops-up eventually. Things are not always as they seem, and this story quickly evolves into a deceptively dark mystery.
More at Foreward Indie Book Reviews

Horror

  • Ghost Story, by Peter Straub

Written by one of the masters of the genre, this gothic-horror tale centers around a single question asked by the four elderly men of the Chowder Society: “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” The question drives the men as they meet to share intensely chilling ghost stories and consume expensive cocktails. But are these stories more than fiction? A chain of mysterious events and death hangs over the Chowder Society. But whose to blame for the suicides and “accidental” deaths that surround them…is something sinister at work? Or is the past finally catching up with the men of the Chowder Society? More books like this at Nightfire 

Mystery

  • An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten

There’s no other way to describe this book of connected stories than to repeat what Kirkus Reviews wrote: “Five connected stories about a murderous old Swedish lady.” Each tale of main character, 88-year old Maud’s misdeeds (murder, even!) doles out a dose of “senior justice”. 

  • The Senior Sleuths (series), by Laurien Berenson

Dick and Dora Zimmerman from are sixty-something crime solvers, specially those of the murderous type. You know, like when a dead body body turns up in an ice box with a note that says, "contents rotten." The Zimmermans are lovable characters with the time, money, wit, and "chutzpa” to get involved despite warnings from police and criminals to stay away. There’s a cast of characters-- residents of the condos where the Zimmermans live in Manhattan and Vegas, who all to eagerly seek Dick and Dora's help whenever foul-play is suspected. *adapted from the author’s website)

Resources for Finding Books with Older Adult Characters

We were impressed that across these lists there were very few duplicate books, So if you haven’t found a book you love among our resources, be sure to talk to the staff at Everbrook Senior Living Community about their book resources, book clubs, and special interest groups.

25 Books with Older Adult Protagonists. This list encompasses books written by authors from various backgrounds and featuring different cultural settings, storylines, and genres. You’re bound to find a few to suit your interest.

Midlife BookList on Facebook. Books that show what makes older adults get fired-up, ticked-off, and maintain their sest for life. These books (and there are a lot) reveal the many perspectives that seniors have on the second half of life—their hopes, fears and challenges, and all of it is weaved into a wide variety of storylines, settings, and dilemmas. From humorous to horrific, from all-to-close to real life to purely fantastical, there is something for everyone in this book list. 

Must Read Books Featuring Mature Characters. This list features heroes and heroines having incredible adventures that will make you want to celebrate and empathize with them as you reflect on your own life’s journey. From feisty senior ladies and gents to salty old dogs and timeless romantics…there’s a character in these stories for everyone to love!

Learn More about the Health Benefits of Reading

Reading for Stress Relief

Why Reading Books Makes You a Better Person, According to Science. Inc Magazine 

Benefits of Reading Books: How It Can Positively Affect Your Life 

Recently, one of our Everbrook Senior Living team members shared a unique encounter she had had while vacationing in southwest Florida. It’s a story we want to share in celebration of National Senior Citizens Day, which has been observed on August 21 every year since 1988 when then President Ronald Regan signed Proclamation 5847 to salute “older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country… throughout their lives and for all they continue to accomplish…” as citizens of the United States.

Upon exiting the beach, she encountered a group of a dozen or so people surrounding an older woman who was telling stories from under the shower, rinsing sand from her silvery hair. She was so animated, it was impossible to just walk past. The 78-year-old shared stories of her youth: She was born in the Philippines and her family of origin hailed from Japan, Hawaii, and other island nations (places where she had lived as a girl and young woman). What caught our staff member’s attention was not only the way this spry older woman spoke about her history and her life now, but the rapt attention from the onlookers. There was a reverence and admiration for her as she spoke about: 

Her “big collection of thousands of shark teeth” found while snorkeling off the coast. Of growing pineapples and tangerines in her backyard; of competing across Florida as a senior champion pickleball player. Of sharing hardships and adventures with her now 80-year-old husband “who I force to retire 15 years ago, or he work both of us to the grave!” Most days, she started her day “playing pickleball for 2 hours before the sun rose to bake the courts” then cooled-off in the Gulf of Mexico followed by bringing treats from her garden to the lifeguards. The rest of the day was for making time to mingle with tourists and locals around the beach town and “doing good deeds.” Fondly known as ‘Granny Kau’i’ (ka-OO-ey), she is living life true to the meaning of her Hawaiian name: ‘the youthful one.’

Thinking Differently About Aging

Kau’i is enjoying a ‘second youth’ in the prime of what we Americans typically refer to as the Golden Years. It’s a time in life that, as one astute teenager in the sandy-toed group observed, “Usually, people my age just ignore older people. Most older folks I know aren’t active like you. You don’t act old. You’ve made me think differently about what being older looks like and can be.” Many of the adults in the group, who hailed from various parts of the U.S., Europe, and Canada nodded agreement and shared similar sentiments.

Sadly, she’s right; phrases like “old man” and “granny” aren’t titles of respect and love in many societies. Instead, they conjure images of older adults who don’t engage much once careers come to an end. This can be for several reasons:

  • Lack of preparation for how to use one’s retirement years can lead to getting stuck in simple, yet unfulfilling routine that is devoid of meaningful relationships, community engagement, or ways to feel useful and involved, such as sharing of skills and talents honed during employment.
  • Chronic health problems derailing intended plans and an inability to pivot plans or find support for living life differently than anticipated.
  • Age related mental decline, grief, and shrinking social outlets as friends and spouses pass on can lead to emotional health problems in the absence of proper supports.

Social & Cultural Factors Behind National Senior Citizen’s Day

Another crucial factor affecting how older adults function in society has to do with social and cultural biases on aging: what it means to grow older and to be a senior citizen. One of President Regan’s intentions with declaring National Senior Citizen’s Day was to combat such misperceptions of older adults and the aging process in our youth-centric American society. 

Regan understood two things about aging and society: 

  • scientific data pointed to an exponential growth of the older adult population. By 2060, there will be about 95 million older adults in just the U.S., rapidly outpacing growth in any other age group. 
  • There were, and continue to be, stark differences in how Americans perceive old age compared to citizens of many other societies. Older adults are revered and appreciated in many other societies, such as Asian, Pacific Islander, Norwegian, Scandinavian and many parts of the Mediterranean.

National Senior Citizen Day served as a way to draw attention to these issues and to ensure that “our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.” 

From this proclamation, came the growth of organizations, services, and living options (and more legislation) to address the evolving needs of older adults. Since 1988, many more older Americans, like Granny Kau’i, are able to live their best lives in ways that suit their interests, health status, financial resources, and personal preferences. This is the quality of living every older adult deserves and which we, at Everbrook Senior Living, devote ourselves to providing for our residents every day, 365 days a year.

Bringing the Best Solution to Seniors in Later Life.

From your first contact with one of our senior living advisors, you are considered family. We understand that every older adult has unique needs and our living arrangements, programs, and health services are intentionally designed to support those needs from active, independent living to various levels of assisted care. 

Each of the Everbrook Senior Living communities is nestled within a community that affords residents the opportunity to take life at the pace they desire…

  • Surrounded by the beauty of nature
  • Opportunities to explore sites of historical, cultural, and social interest
  • Year-round activities such as gardening, biking, walking, fitness, hobbies, and clubs
    Points of interest within the local community, for exploring when family/grandkids visit
  • Ability to travel locally or further afield with easy access to major airports and train stations

Everbrook Senior Living embraces the unique needs and qualities of each of our residents. We are involved in every aspect of the design of exceptional, elegant, and affordable residences. We offer first-in-class recreation and wellness programs that are backed by the latest research. And we have a carefully selected team of professionals who are devoted to older adults, seek to learn from them, and nurture their interests, personal needs, and sense of community. 

At Everbrook, you live among like-minded peers, experience new adventures, and enjoy the simple luxuries of an active, independent ‘second youth’. Come see for yourself: schedule a visit, today.  

Free from the obligations of work and raising a family, older adulthood can be a time to celebrate independence. Let’s explore essential tips to help you (or a loved one) maintain—and celebrate independence in older adulthood.

For some people, the ‘golden years’ present the opportunity to take life at as fast or slow of a pace as one desires. It can be a time to explore hobbies, travel to exciting destinations, rekindle or create new friendships, and spend quality time with beloved family. Maintaining independence throughout older adulthood does take some focus and effort, if one is to stay physically able-bodied and mentally sharp.

Tips for Supporting Older Adult Independence

Stay Socially Connected

Preventing social isolation is crucial for older adults’ physical and emotional wellbeing. As we get older, our social ties can decline because of changes to our health, relocation, and death. It’s important to keep renewing our social connections, which can protect our social emotional health, particularly from depression, anxiety, and memory-loss related conditions such as dementia. Social connections for older adults are kept strong through mutually rewarding activities and interests such as:

  • senior center programs (clubs, movie nights, field trips)
  • hobbies (golf, swimming, book club, chess club, knitting, etc)
  • volunteer work
  • frequent visits to and from family, friends, or former colleagues

Living in a senior living community, such as Everbrook Senior Living, makes it simple for older adults to stay young-at-heart. These communities often provide on-site wellness programs, trips, dining clubs, and maintenance-free living so you have the time to enjoy your free time.

The Game is Afoot!

Games are a wonderful way for older adults to keep the mind sharp, connect with others, and have fun with a significant other, grandkids/ family, old friend, or to make new friends. Board games or card game clubs can be found through your local library, senior center, YMCA, or JCC. Such clubs are also present at most senior living communities, and often are peer-led by residents of the community, making it easy to make new friends. Check out these crafts and games designed to celebrate senior independence on Independence Day.

Stay in Motion

Exercising in older adulthood helps to maintain physical strength, stamina, coordination, emotional wellbeing, and mental sharpness. When you feel strong and capable, that supports independence. If you were an athlete earlier in life, you may very well be able to maintain vigorous activity during older adulthood. For other folks, being physically active in older adulthood means changing the intensity or type of activity—if your knees aren’t up for running, switch to power walking or swimming, for example. There are so many types of exercise routines that can be modified for an older adult’s needs, from weight training to yoga. Just check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or switching to a new activity. 

Elegance and Independence at Everbrook Senior Living

When you reside at an Everbrook Senior Living community, you’ll have access to the Wellnes 4 Later Life Program, which addresses all of your physical, social, and emotional needs. You’ll work with an on-site exercise physiologist and have access to physicians to assess and monitor your health. At Everbrook, you can live among like-minded peers, experience new adventures, and enjoy the simple luxuries of active, independent living in your golden years. 

Give us a call today to learn more about all that we have to offer.

When you were a kid, did you have a hobby? Whether you collected stamps, dolls, or comic books, repaired bikes or dabbled in model cars, you can probably recall your hobby ‘getting you in the zone’. Being so fully immersed in what you were doing that it was hard to break away to even eat dinner. When your former hobby comes to mind, it may bring up feelings of joy, satisfaction, and accomplishment. No matter your age, the positive feelings that arise from being engaged in a hobby contribute to emotional and physical well-being. Even if you haven’t had a hobby for many years, it’s never too late to find a new hobby and experience the health benefits.

Hobbies are a simple yet profound way to support an older adult’s health and happiness. A hobby can provide an outlet for creativity, an intellectual challenge, pure fun, and social engagement. When engaged in a hobby, we are immersed in a state of pleasure and detachment from the drama of daily life.

Some of the ways hobbies contribute to an older adult’s well-being include:

  • Boost feelings of personal accomplishment, which supports self-esteem
  • Foster connections with others, which reduces loneliness
  • Reduce stress by providing an outlet for creativity and emotional management
  • Mental engagement, which protects brain health
  • Lower risk for depression and anxiety
  • Contributes to meaning & satisfaction in life

4 Tips for Finding a New Hobby in Older Adulthood

Now that you know hobbies are good for your health—what if you haven’t engaged in a hobby in a while—where do you begin? There are some very simple ways older adults can discover a new hobby. Before we tell you how to find a new hobby, let’s talk about your mindset with starting something new: The key is to not be afraid to experiment or to try new things. Step outside your comfort zone. For example, if you tend to be a homebody, consider a book club to get you out of your home and engaged with new people who share a common interest. Additionally, keep an open mind. Don’t give up after one try—remember that a hobby should be about the process, not the outcome or product (that would make a hobby feel like work!) Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself; give yourself permission to fail, and to start over again. Give it the good ole "college try" before you walk away from a hobby that just doesn’t feel like a good fit for you.

    1. Consider the feeling or experience you’re missing in your life. Ask yourself how you want to feel when engaged in your new hobby. Is it a sense of calm, exhilaration, curiosity, mental engagement, or social connection? A combination? Identifying your needs particularly emotional needs, can point you toward your next hobby.
    2. Start with simple steps, slowly taken. If you’re on budget, as most older adults, don’t jump into the deep end with a new hobby. If you’ve always wanted to learn to oil paint, don’t invest in the most expensive set of brushes and paints. Take a class where you can use materials, learn about products, and be sure it’s something you really like and can have fun with.
    3. Keep a hobby interest list. This can be an index card posted on your fridge or a notebook you carry with you—where you can jot down things that are interesting to you, that you want to learn. Maybe you read an article about
      keeping bonsai trees and add that to your list. Every month check your list—what still interesting to you on that list? Why did you put bonsai tree on that list? Does it still resonate with you? If so, is now a good time to learn what’s involved? Then get started researching online or...
    4. Talk to your local librarian. Librarians aren’t just a wealth of knowledge about books. They can help you research new hobbies—from books to online resources to local classes. A librarian can help you take those first small steps on the path to a new hobby.

If you happen to live in an older adult community such as Everbrook Senior Living—or if you are thinking of moving to such a community—you’ll be glad to know there are many resources available to help you discover a new hobby in later life. From board game clubs to yoga classes, art studio to music or film appreciation... you’ll be amazed at the opportunities offered by a senior living community. And, as a bonus, if you’re already proficient with a particular hobby then make sharing your skill your next hobby! Many senior living communities love to have a resident volunteer to introduce and teach a skill to other residents with the same interest.

Are you looking for a senior living community with a robust social community, wellness program, and affordable luxury? Come visit Everbrook Senior Living to see all that we offer—and the sense of belonging our residents experience as they live, play, and thrive in our older adult communities across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

Resources

National Institutes of Health: Participate in Activities You Enjoy As You Age

Penn State University, “Social Trends”: How Hobbies Boosty Your Health

Widespread loneliness in the U.S. poses health risks as deadly as smoking, according to new information from the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. According to the report, 50% of U.S. adults are experiencing loneliness that interferes with or otherwise affects their wellbeing. The ill-effects of loneliness can be even more detrimental for older adults.

The social and emotional health effects of loneliness have been well documented. These effects were exacerbated during the isolation periods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, new information shows the ill-effects of loneliness carry over to a person’s physical health.

According to the Surgeon General’s report, the “epidemic of loneliness threatens public health”:

  • Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by nearly 30%.
  • People with poor social relationships have a 32% higher risk of stroke and 29% higher risk of heart disease.
  • Loneliness increases a person’s risk for anxiety, depression, and dementia. Individuals struggling with these conditions tend to be less physically active, thereby affecting their physical health.
  • Loneliness can increase risk for accidents and even suicide.

Murthy’s report indicated the increased risk of premature death associated with social disconnection is comparable to smoking. However, the report did not provide any data that illustrates how many people die directly from loneliness or isolation.  

Loneliness Prevalent Among Elderly

Among older adults over age 60, 50% are at risk of social isolation and one-third will experience some degree of loneliness in later life. Older adults who self-isolate or who experience loneliness as a result of loss of significant relationships have a heightened risk to their mental and physical health. 

Social circles among the elderly tend to shrink due to loss of functional abilities, illness, and death of significant friends and partners. Therefore, it is imperative for older adults to have healthy outlets for connecting with others and maintaining a sense of meaning and purpose for their lives. 

Helpful Tips to Reduce Loneliness Among Older Adults

Stay Active. Whether it’s a walking buddy or group, participating in aqua-exercise classes, or trying chair yoga, physical movement is as good for the mind as it is for the body. For older adults, appropriate intensity exercise boosts mood, strengthens the mind-body connection, and keeps the body physically strong. Physical activity with a partner or group reduces social isolation and reduces risk for mental distress and depression.

Keep Good Company. The old saying is ‘misery loves company’, but the same can be said of positivity! It’s well-known that laughter is good medicine. Choose to spend time with others who make you laugh or whom you make laugh. For those who are home-bound, be sure they have frequent visitors—or consider the benefits of animatronic pet therapy to help an older adult cope with loneliness.

Keep the Mind Sharp. Engage in intellectual activities with others who share the same interest such as chess club, book club, arts and crafts club, board game groups, maybe something more intellectual. Not sure about your interests…be adventurous, try something new… it’s a great way to find a new hobby and new friends! 

Do Good For Others. Helping others through volunteer work is a great way to build and maintain social connections. Plus, doing good for others through volunteerism has lasting beneficial effects on health and wellbeing for older adults. Older adults who volunteer experience better physical health, less depression and anxiety, and have a brighter outlook and sense of purpose for their life.

Senior Living Programs to Reduce Loneliness

Every resident at Everbrook Senior Living Communities has access to the Wellness 4 Later Life programming, which helps older adults maintain good health, independence, connection with like-minded others. Our holistic approach is personalized to the needs of each resident to best support their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. From individualized movement and fitness programs to movie nights and special interest clubs, our residents are inspired as they engage in activities that support living, learning, and laughing throughout the golden years.

We invite you to come see for yourself all that Everbrook Senior Living has to offer. Call today to schedule a tour.    

Further Reading

Healthy Intimacy is Important for Older Adult Wellbeing. https://everbrookseniorliving.com/blog/itemlist/tag/senior%20friendships 

Older Adult ‘Holiday Blues versus Depression: What’s the Difference? https://everbrookseniorliving.com/blog/item/22-is-your-elder-family-member-experiencing-more-than-the-holiday-blues 

One of the best things older adults can do to improve health and vitality is to maintain a walking routine. Many chronic illnesses, diseases, and everyday ailments can be prevented or better managed with moderate-intensity walking. Research also shows that walking has protective benefits for the physical and emotional health of older adults. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits, learn walking safety tips for older adults, and easy ways for older adults to fit a little more walking into their day.

Physical & Emotional Health Benefits of Walking for Seniors

Walking provides the following physical health benefits for older adults:

  • Decreases risk of heart disease & stroke
  • Strengthens the cardiovascular system
  • Helps maintain healthy blood pressure & cholesterol level
  • Helps protect bone density
  • Supports a healthy body weight 
  • Helps prevent and manage type 2 diabetes
  • Eases arthritis pain & stiffness
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Strengthens the immune system

Walking also has the following emotional health benefits or older adults:

  • Helps with management of stress
  • Reduces risk for anxiety
  • Reduces risk for depression
  • Enhances sleep quality
  • Invigorates energy level
  • Enhances creativity
  • Improves socialization when walking with others
  • Supports cognitive function (memory, learning, focus)
  • Lowers risk of dementia & Alzheimer’s disease

As you can see, walking improves the older adult’s overall quality of life!

How to Walk for Wellness

When walking for wellness, older adults have a few options for how to proceed. First, always begin with a check-up with your personal physician. Once you’ve got the ‘go ahead,’ you’ll want to wear proper footwear and attire (see Tips, below). 

To reap the wellness benefits of walking, older adults want to move at a pace that makes them feel slightly out of breath, but \ still able to hold a “huffy” conversation. Don’t worry if that's not manageable at the start. Rather, focus on moving safely, for as long as is comfortable. Build-up walking endurance by adding 5 minutes to each walk. If you’re not quite ready for 30-minute long daily walks, try some of the walking tricks below to get more steps each day.

3 Tricks for Fitting in a Little More Walking Each Day

You don’t have to take long walks every day. If all you can fit in is 10-15 minute bouts of walking a couple of times throughout your day, research shows that’s just as good as a longer walking routines. A few simple tricks for increasing the amount of walking in your everyday routine include:

  • Park further away from store entry areas so you have further to walk from your car
  • Use steps instead of an elevator, moving sidewalk, or escalator
  • Get up from your chair or desk every hour to move around the house, step outside for a stroll around the block, or do a few chores 

8 Fitness Walking Safety Tips for Older Adults

The tips below apply to anyone: If you are just starting a walking program, these tips will get you off on the right foot. If you’ve been walking regularly for fitness, these tips are a good reminder.  

One thing we want to emphasize to older adults: Don’t be shy about using assistive supports such as trekking poles, a cane, or even a walker. 

  • Trekking poles can add to the fitness benefits of walking, especially for those who are still very able-bodied. 
  • A cane provides stability—and if your health provider says you need it, then use it (there are some very stylish canes on the market!). 
  • Anyone who requires a walker should not leave home without it—even with a walker, the benefits of walking are too great to stay indoors on the couch.
  1. Be good to your feet. Proper footwear and footcare can help prevent falls and reduce the chance for gait problems. It also makes walking more enjoyable, so you’ll be more inclined to stick with your walking routine. Walking shoes (or sneakers) should be comfortable and sturdy to provide solid footing and support. If you have foot problems, consider going to an athletic shoe outfitter that specializes in walking and running shoes. A podiatrist can also assess if you need orthotic support. Podiatrists also can recommend a footcare routine to follow before and after your walk.
  2. Be weather-ready. Even if you live in an area with a pretty constant temperature, you’ll want to be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions. This is especially true if you walk trails with elevation changes. Consider carrying a lightweight, rain-resistant covering with you. Dress in layers if it a time of year known for sudden shifts in temperature.
  3. Water is essential. Sip water throughout your walk and replenish lost fluids by drinking extra water (not coffee or soda) in the hours following your walk. 
  4. Carry your ID and an emergency info card. The card should indicate any known medical conditions you may have, contact info for your doctor and a local friend or relative. Carry some cash and a cell phone, especially if you’re walking alone.
  5. Walk in the light. It’s ideal for older adults to walk before dusk. If walking in the evenings, choose well-lit areas with “people traffic”.
  6. Be visible to others. During the day, wear light or brightly colored apparel. Reflective apparel, even if it’s just wrist bands, a hat, or a reflective vest, makes you more visible to others—even in daylight, which increases your safety.
  7. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. When walking outdoors stay attentive by not talking on the phone (or not using it while you walk). If you use headphones, keep the volume low.
  8. Recruit a walking buddy. Add a health boost to your walk, and increase your safety, by walking with a buddy. Having a buddy promotes social engagement, which is wonderful for emotional wellbeing. If you don’t have a walking partner, let others know your time of departure, where you’re going, and when you plan to be back. In our Everbrook Senior Living Communities, it’s easy to find a walking buddy or group. 

Everbrook Senior Living Community Walking Trails

Each of the Everbrook Senior Living Communities has beautiful grounds for walkers. For those who want more variety (or challenge) in their walking routine, you’ll find parks and trail systems that are accessible from your front door to within minutes or a short drive of each of the Everbrook communities. 

Colebrook Village in central Connecticut, in the town of Hebron, is within immediate access to a variety of places to walk. Whether it is downtown Hebron, or the hiking trails at Gay City State Park, or along the shoreline…you don’t have to travel far for a beautiful walk!

Cedarbrook Village located in Ware, Massachusetts, is surrounded by rolling hills, river views, and a variety of outlets for easy to vigorous walks. From parks to mountains to spa retreats with beautiful walking grounds—you’ll find it all accessible minutes to a a short drive from Cedarbrook.

Elmbrook Village in the quaint town of Bozrah, Connecticut is accessible to seaside walks as well as park trails, not to mention the lovely grounds at the property, itself. Gardner Lake and Maple Farms Park are two favorite spots for walking and recreating.

Stonebrook Village in Enfield, Connecticut provides a variety opportunities to get your walk in. Wheter you venture downtown or to Enfield Falls or venture along the Windsor Locks Canal, there’s much wildlife, foliage, and sights to enjoy! 

We also have Brookmeadow at Blue Hills, in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and Hillsbrook Village in Allenstown, New Hampshire (opening this summer). Both with exceptionally beautiful grounds and access to charming villages and recreational areas suitable for walkers of every stripe!

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. Exercise and Seniors. May 2022. 

Walking Tip Sheet for Older Adults from HealthyAging.org 

Walking Programs for Seniors from HowdyHealth at Texas A&M Life Extension

European Society of Cardiology. Exercise, however modest, found progressively beneficial to the elderly. 15 May 2015. 

Fahmy, S. Study: Regular walking nearly halves elderly disability risk. UGA Today. 15 July 2018. 

Sunday, 02 April 2023 10:33

Laughter is Good Medicine for Older Adults

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“Laughter is the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug. Laughter is a universal medicine.”

– Betrand Russell, philosopher (1872-1970)

No one really needs an excuse for a good belly laugh—right? But older adults sure have plenty of reasons to go out of their way for a good laugh. Laughing eases stress, promotes social bonding, helps lower blood pressure, and lifts your mood. Laughter also strengthens your body’s defenses against illness. The more you know about the health benefits of laughter, the more you’ll want to find ways to bring humor into your life!

Laughter and Health

The study of laughter and its effects on health has become an important topic in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. That’s a fancy word for the study of the way the mind (psych), the body (neuro/nervous system), and the immune system (immunology) interact when confronted by disease-causing agents such as stress, inflammation, or bacteria, and viruses. 

What we’ve learned from research on laughter is…

  • Genuine laughter (not canned or prompted laughter) activates several regions of the brain including those associated with mood, regulation of body temperature, pain management, attention and focus, arousal, digestion, blood pressure, memory and decision making. This activation has been seen on brain scans performed while someone watches something they find to be genuinely funny or while being tickled!
  • Laughter prompts the body to release the ‘feel-good’ hormone, epinephrine, which decreases pain sensation and promotes a state of euphoria (like the famed ‘runner’s high).
  • Laughter also promotes the release of hormones that soothe the nervous system, thus dampening the harmful effects of the hormones the body makes in response to stress. Regular bouts of laughter may even help to improve anxiety and depression.
  • Laughter activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body’s relaxation response, which bathes the body in lots of health promoting hormones that have an effect on organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, and muscles.
  • Laughter may help you live longer! Studies of people who report having more humor in their lives also have a longer lifespan. 

How Does Laughter Effect Health?

The health effects of laughter are activated in two ways: First, and most obvious is laughter in the moment—so as you are laughing, wonderful things are happening in your body and mind. Second, depending on the individual and the extent of the funny moment, those effect can last for minutes and up to a few hours. Most researchers theorize that the more occasions for humor and laughter in your life, the greater the cumulative effect on health!

BREAK OUT item (like a boxed item):  Do you remember the movie about the life of Patch Adams? Dr. Patch Adams was physician who embraced and modeled the restorative and healing benefits of laughter for critically ill patients. Now, “healing through humor” has a real place in medicine—not just for treating for the critically ill, but for routine healthcare, as well. 

7 Easy Ways Older Adults Can Laugh More to Support Good Health 

  1. Tell more jokes! About yourself, a situation, or choose a few jokes from these resources for older adults:
    Reader’s Digest Best Old Age Jokes
    Laughing Makes You Feel Younger: Jokes for Seniors
    Go to a comedy club with friends / family.
  2. Watch funny movies or a stand-up comedy show.
  3. Read comics or a funny novel.
  4. Spend time with children—they’re always finding something to laugh about!
  5. Cultivate a light-hearted approach to living life.
  6. Try Laughter Yoga – to stretch your funny bone!

At Everbrook Senior Living Communities, our Wellness 4 Later Life program keep residents inspired to live their best life. We embrace a holistic approach to support your physical, social, emotional, financial, and spiritual wellbeing. From personalized fitness programs to movie and comedy nights to clubs and social activities, there are plenty of opportunities for living, learning, playing, and laughing! 

We invite you to come see for yourself all that Everbrook has to offer. Call today to schedule a tour.    

Being Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the older adult women who have left their mark in history. We present women who all were age 55 or older when they carved their unique place in American history. 

You might be surprised to learn that there are dozens-more well-known, and lesser-known, older adult women who have left a legacy of change and innovation in the U.S. Our short, and randomly selected list represents women from a variety of professions, backgrounds, and life experiences. To learn about more of the many older adult women who have made or are making history, be sure to check out the resource list we’ve complied at the end of this post.

Laura Ingalls WilderLaura Ingalls Wilder (1911-1957) – Literature

Many people recognize the name Laura Ingalls Wilder from the children’s books she authored including Little House series. After spending most of her adult life working a homestead in Missouri, Wilder penned her first novel in 1932 at the age of 65. Little House in the Big Woods, was written with the encouragement of her daughter. Wilder developed that first book into a series of seven books, which concluded with These Happy Golden Years, written in 1943 when she was 76 years old. More than 80 years later, the Little House books remain cherished classics filled with timeless life lessons.

 

Ruth Bader GinsbergRuth Bader Ginsberg (1993-2020) – Politics, Law, Social Justice

Though her career in law, academia, and politics was legendary before she became a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lasting impact on democracy, women’s rights, and equality and social justice arose in the years she served on the high court. In 1993, she was only the second female justice in United States history to nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. She served on the Supreme Court for more than twenty years, having influenced a variety or legal precedents and landmark decisions. Her social, political, and judicial accomplishments earned her status as one of the most powerful and inspirational women in history.

 

Dr Ruth WestheimerDr. Ruth Westheimer (1928 -  ) Holocaust Survivor, Psychologist, “America’s Sex Therapist”

Affectionately known as “Dr. Ruth,” Westheimer’s career didn’t reach its prime until she was in her mid-50’s. Her popularity has grown enormously during her golden years. A long-time advocate for safe, healthy, and enjoyable sex throughout the lifespan, Westheimer was beloved for her no-nonsense, down-to-earth, honest advice which she shared via her radio show, “Sexually Speaking.” Now in her 90’s, she has continued to educate the public through all media platforms (including her very popular YouTube channel), columns, books, teaching, and guest appearances on popular podcasts and TV shows. Westheimer has won countless awards, including Honorary President of the Council on Sexuality and Aging.

 

Sister MadonnaSister Madonna (1930 -   )  The Iron Nun - Triathlete

When a bicycle crash resulted in broken bones, then 52-year old Madonna Buder decided to do something about it. And so began her journey into athletics: That same year she competed in her first triathlon and has gone on to compete in more than 50 Ironman events and 300+ triathlons around the world. Buder is now a well-known and acclaimed American Senior Olympian triathlete. The former religious sister, nicknamed the Iron Nun, Buder is the current world record for the oldest woman to ever finish an Ironman Triathlon, which she did at age 82 at the Subaru Ironman Canada on August 26, 2012. Now in her mid-80s and still competing, the Ironman organization keeps having to create new age brackets for her competition category!

 

Clara PellerClara Peller (1902 – 1987) actor, manicurist

If you spent any time in front of a television in the 80’s, you would not Clara Peller’s distinctive voice, even if her name is not familiar to you: “Where’s the beef?” is the line she spoke in a 1984 Wendy’s commercial. Before that, Peller worked for 35 years as a manicurist in Chicago. In 1983, age 80, she was “discovered” by a local ad agency rep who needed for a manicurist for a television commercial. After appearing in a number of regional spots on TV, a national talent agency signed Peller 1984 and cast her the unforgettable Wendy’s commercial—she was 81 years old. Her spunky delivery made “Where’s the beef?” a popular catchphrase, appearing on all sorts of marketing material, from coffee mugs to t-shirts to today’s popular memes. She continued acting in commercials, had spots in television and movies, and talk show appearances well into her late 80s. Clara Peller reminds us it’s never too late to try something new and you’re never too old for a new career! 

Resources

Learn About More Amazing Older Adult Women in History

"No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History" by Gail Collins

In Praise of Older Women Who Shaped History”  The Washington Post

50 Over 50 Women Proving Success Has No Age Limit” Forbes (2021)

25 Famous Women on Achieving Success Later in Life” The Cut (2022)

A Social History of Older Women in America”  Next Avenue (2019)

11 Bold Women Who Changed the World” History.com

Tuesday, 07 February 2023 13:29

Healthy Intimate Relationships in Older Adulthood

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Need for intimacy does not diminish as we grow older. Whether romantic or platonic, maintaining close relationships helps older adults experience greater vitality, a sense of belonging, and deeper meaning in life. There are also many health benefits that come with maintaining healthy intimacy during one’s golden years.

Benefits of Intimate Relationships for Older Adults

  • Lower stress, greater resilience
  • Better recovery following surgery
  • Protection against depression and anxiety
  • Lower resting blood pressure
  • Enhanced feelings of self-worth and meaning
  • Overall better health (e.g., less frequent illness)
  • Longer lifespan

Ways Older Adults Can Enhance Intimate Relationships

Whether it’s the closeness between two friends or sparking romance, there are some very simple ways to older adults can enhance their intimate relationships.

Everyday Moments Matter. Physical touch in small, mindful doses throughout the day is an easy way to let someone know of your affection for them. From a spontaneous backrub or foot rub to a gentle touch on the hand or shoulder, these signal to the other person that they are important to you. 

Laugh Together. This is a good excuse to go to a funny movie or a comedy club: Laughing eases stress, promotes social bonding, and lowers blood pressure. It may even boost your immune system. Whether with your romantic partner or a special friend, think of ways that the two of you can laugh together more often.

Share More Deeply. Conversation with your significant person is a great way to build intimacy. However, discussion should be about more than the weather or the latest tragic story of the day. Sharing more deeply means opening up your heart, revealing feelings and disclosing hopes, fears, or dreams. 

Switch-up Your Routine. By the time we reach older adulthood, we can be pretty set in our ways and routines. To create intimacy, get adventurous by switching-up your routines. This could be as easy as trying a new restaurant, working on a project/ hobby or taking a class together, or planning travel to destinations more exotic than you would typically consider.

It’s Thoughtfulness That Counts. We can get so accustomed to a platonic or romantic partnership that we forget to show appreciation for the other person by simply doing something nice for the other person. Enhancing intimacy can be as easy as offering a compliment, buying a small bouquet of flowers, helping with chores that are typically “the other person’s job”, or cooking a meal for the other person.

Unplug. Just like younger generations, older adults can get sucked into the digital world. Socializing on fine and developing new technology skills are great, but technology should not replace or interfere with personal interaction. Unplug and be fully present, in person.

Get a Little Sexy. Sexual intimacy in older adulthood can boost self-esteem, help reduce stress, enhance immunity, improve sleep, and help you maintain overall good health. If you’ve still got mojo to share (and who doesn’t) then get a little sexy! This might mean buying tasteful intimate attire for your partner, sharing a bed rather than sleeping apart (as many older couples resort to), exploring different ways to experience touch (e.g., massage), or if needed, working with a therapist who specializes in intimacy in older adulthood.

Healthy physical and emotional connection in older adulthood enhances intimate relationships. It’s good for your physical and emotional health and can strengthen friendships or spice-up romantic relationships.

At Everbrook Senior Living, the Life-Enrichment Activities Program is just one of the many offerings that focus on helping our residents establish and maintain meaningful relationships throughout the golden years. To learn more about our programs and arrangements for independent or assisted living, get in touch with us, today.

Resources

National Institutes of Health: Sexuality in Older Adulthood

Why is Intimacy Important for Older Adults? National Council on Aging

Navigating the variety of options for care for an older adult family member can quickly become confusing. Many different names are used to describe the various types of older adult care facilities. In reality, there are just two primary types of elder care: nursing home and assisted living community. Understanding the differences between nursing home and assisted living can make the process of choosing elder care less stressful and more reassuring for all involved.

Elder Care Defined: Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living

A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility (SNF), is permitted to provide extensive nursing and medical, under the supervision of a practicing physician. Nursing homes are equipped to perform near-constant monitoring of individuals who require extensive care due to physical disability, cognitive impairment, and/or unstable chronic health conditions. Depending on the degree of severity and prognosis for recovery, a person’s length of stay at a nursing home can be a short-term (several weeks) or long-term (months or years). For the latter, the nursing home may be referred to as a long-term care (LTC) facility.

Another important distinction is that a nursing home is a custodial arrangement in which the medical staff are the custodians of care for the older adult. In a custodial arrangement, the room to which your loved one is assigned is not their private dwelling. Because nursing homes follow a medical model of custodial care, medical staff and other personnel may enter the room at any time. 

Nursing homes provide meals according to medical needs. They may have visitation hours similar to a hospital. Limited social and recreational programs, if any, are provided at a nursing home.

An assisted living community (facility or center) is a term used for a category of elder care known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). Other terms used for CCRC include senior living community and life care communities. These communities are licensed to offer different levels of healthcare and wellness care to support the needs of older adults as their needs change over time, including their physical, medical, social and emotional, and spiritual needs. 

Assisted living centers do not employ a custodial arrangement. Rather, the older adult’s dwelling (usually an apartment style set-up) is considered a private residence. Also, assisted living communities embrace a social model, with a focus on preserving well-being and maintaining the older adult’s independence. Assisted living communities uphold a resident’s right to personal privacy, autonomy, and dignity while promoting community and family involvement.

As part of a CCRC, assisted living may be a step within a senior living community that offers a transitional living pathway based on needs. As such, an older adult enters the community as an active and independent resident who needs minimal assistance, but should their health decline in a way that prevents truly independent living, the community provides a transition to stepped-up care. This can include receiving help with daily living activities, physical rehabilitation and adaptations in their same living space—or transitioning to more medically intensive long-term care services such as Memory Care or skilled nursing (with appropriate permits as required by law).

What Type of Care Does a Nursing Home Provide?

Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities (SNF), focus on healthcare and personal care for residents. Primarily, though, nursing home services focus on medical care including:

  • nursing care
  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • basic assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) (ex: personal hygiene, toileting, dressing, cleanliness of living space and others)
  • physical rehabilitation such as post-surgery
  • speech therapy
  • social-emotional therapeutic services.

Some older adults will stay at a nursing home for a short time after being in the hospital. After they recover, they go home. However, most nursing home residents live there permanently because they have ongoing physical or mental conditions that require constant care and supervision.

What Type of Care Does Assisted Living Provide?

Assisted living facilities can be transformative environments for aging adults. With a focus on wellbeing, supporting independence, and expanding social engagement, older adults residing in assisted living communities can forge new friendships with people their age, discover new hobbies, become more active, preserve cognitive function, and enjoy amenities that would be harder for them to access if they remained in a traditional home or in the care of a family member. 

All residents who reside within an assisted living community are considered independent to the extent that they are capable of participating in or at least partially maintaining their basic daily activity needs within their private living quarters. The extent of assistance needed is a determining factor in cost to reside at an assisted living community. 

Other daily services that assisted living provides – if and when needed by a resident can include:

  • Meals provided and/or restaurants on site
  • Recreational areas indoors and out
  • Entertainment and enrichment programs
  • Concierge services
  • Shared common areas for activities
  • 24-hour medical staff accessible to all residents regardless of level of independence
  • Personal hygiene assistance (dressing, bathing)
  • Medication reminders
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry 
  • Transportation 
  • Security 

As an assisted living “continuum of care” community, Everbrook Senior Living offers a wide variety of services, amenities, and living options to help older adult residents remain independent and thriving for as long as possible.

To sum it all up, nursing homes focus on medical care—from short-term rehab to long-term ongoing medical care. Assisted living is focused on supporting the wellness needs of older adult residents for the duration of their “golden years”.

Does My Elderly Family Member Need Nursing Home Care or Assisted Living?

Deciding if an elderly family member is better served by nursing home care or assisted living is a complex process. Foremost, this decision will be determined by your elderly family member’s medical needs and the extent to which you can provide what they need for the person to remain at home. Other factors will include the extent of their physical or cognitive impairment, medication management, and prognosis. You’ll also want to consider if their condition is likely to worsen over time, which means the care they need now will change in months or years. 

Even an older adult who is mostly independent in their self-care, today, will encounter times when their healthcare needs become too extensive for living on their own, even within an assisted living community. This is why you want to choose an older adult community like Everbrook Senior Living, which provides transitional care to support your loved one as their health and wellbeing changes over time. It is much less stressful and easier for an older adult to adapt to changes in continuum of care when it is provided within the same residential setting than to have to move from one facility to another as level of care changes.

Resources

CT Assisted Living Association Resource Guide
https://everbrookseniorliving.com/images/forms/CALA-Consumer-Guide.pdf

Everbrook’s FAQs (again they reference CT in many of these responses so not sure about other states)

https://everbrookseniorliving.com/resources/frequently-asked-questions

Assited Living at Everbrook Communities

Assited Living v. Nursing Home: How do they Differ? https://www.healthline.com/health/assisted-living-vs-nursing-home

Residential Facilities, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/residential-facilities-assisted-living-and-nursing-homes

Helpful Guidance for Managing Older Adult Long-Term Care

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

800-633-4227

877-486-2048 (TTY)

Eldercare Locator

800-677-1116

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

USAging

202-872-0888

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

You can also call your local Area Agency on Aging or Department of Human Services.

A therapeutic innovation launched during the COVID-19 pandemic is making its way into mainstream care of older adults who live alone and those who have dementia. Lifelike robotic cats and dogs are an effective way to help seniors enhance social interaction, improve symptoms of depression, and reduce feelings of loneliness. These robotic pets can even be purchased by family members to gift to a loved one – perfect for the holiday season.

Loneliness Increases among Older Adults in Winter Months

Feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation can increase dramatically during the winter months, particularly around the holiday season. Among older adults, these feelings can become overwhelming – worsening their symptoms and increasing risk for accidents and even suicide. Research shows that something as simple as a lifelike pet cat or dog can significantly improve wellbeing for older adults, including those with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. 

Therapeutic Animatronic Dog or Cat Enhances Social-Emotional Wellbeing for Seniors

The positive impact of these therapeutic robotic pets include improved mood and affect, better communication and meaningful social interaction, including having a sense of being needed by the companion robot pet. 

Additional positive emotions experienced when interacting with a therapeutic robotic pet include:

  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Empathy
  • Gentleness
  • Connection 

Older adults who have access to a robotic pet may also have better outcomes during a hospitalization, including less delirium, loneliness, fewer falls, and reduced need for a 1:1 companion. Some studies point to older adults with a robotic pet having enhanced cognitive function, less agitation, and less anxiety; although more research is needed in these areas.

Animatronic Therapeutic Pets Ideal for Seniors in Many Living Arranagements 

Initially launched in the spring of 2020, in a partnership between Ageless Innovation and the Department of Elder Affairs in Florida (among other states) the program provided lifelike Joy for All Companion Pets® as a means to facilitate and enhance interaction between an older adult and their caregivers and family members. Since the end of the pandemic, the therapeutic robotic pets have been used in a variety of settings including senior centers, hospitals, nursing homes, memory care facilities, and senior living communities.  

Mood Enhancing Behaviors for Older Adults with a Therapeutic Robotic Pet

Some of the mood enhancing interactions that have been observed between seniors and their therapeutic robot pets include:

  • Cuddling
  • Grooming
  • Petting
  • Sleeping with the pet
  • Naming the pet
  • Taking the pet with them on outings
  • Playing
  • Gathering in a communal area to talk to others about their “pet”
  • Intergenerational connection between an elder and a young child

Features of the Robotic “Thera-Pet”

The robotic pet cat or dog (and now birds are available) has motion sensors in the head, cheek, back, tummy and other areas so the animatronic can respond to petting. Each also has sound effects (purrs, cries, barks), which can be turned off for an elder with audio sensitivity. The fur is very soft and inspired by the texture of real animal coats. The “pets” can mimic a “nuzzling” action, can detect light in the room and respond to it with vocalizations, can bark and purr depending on movement and room setting. The robotic pets come in a variety of colors, too.

To discuss incorporating a Joy For All Companion Pet into the care plan for your loved one, please inquire with your health care provider. If your loved one is a resident at one of the Everbrook Senior Living Communities, please inquire with our Wellness staff. If your loved one is not a resident at one of our beautiful communities schedule a visit today.   

Resources

Florida Department of Elder Affairs

Hudson J, Ungar R, Albright L, Tkatch R, Schaeffer J, Wicker ER. Robotic Pet Use Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2020 Oct 16;75(9):2018-2028. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa119. PMID: 32789476; PMCID: PMC7566965.

Koh WQ, Ang FXH, Casey D. Impacts of Low-cost Robotic Pets for Older Adults and People With Dementia: Scoping Review. JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol. 2021 Feb 12;8(1):e25340. doi: 10.2196/25340. PMID: 33497349; PMCID: PMC8082946.

Ihamäki P, Heljakka K. Robot Pets as "Serious Toys"- Activating Social and Emotional Experiences of Elderly People. Inf Syst Front. 2021 Aug 14:1-15. doi: 10.1007/s10796-021-10175-z. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34413702; PMCID: PMC8364409. 

Petersen S, Houston S, Qin H, Tague C, Studley J. The Utilization of Robotic Pets in Dementia Care. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;55(2):569-574. doi: 10.3233/JAD-160703. PMID: 27716673; PMCID: PMC5181659.

Talking to a teen about a family member diagnosed with dementia can be incredibly difficult for caregivers. The approach taken when you have this conversation can help your teen cope effectively with the news and empower them to preserve a meaningful connection with their loved one. 

When to Tell a Teen About a Loved One Diagnosed with Dementia

For most teens, the family member with dementia will be a grandparent or older family member, but for some it may be a parent.  Even if, at some level, a teen had some awareness that the diagnosis was coming, hearing it spoken aloud is a hard-hitting reality. It’s imperative to have the conversation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of dementia is confirmed, so that your teen does not find out “accidentally” from someone else in (or outside) the family; this would compound stress for all and may feel like a breach of trust to the teen.

Beginning the Conversation about Dementia with Your Teen 

Be prepared for the fact that your teen will experience a jumble of emotions from shock and anger to grief and even shame. Many teens feel they can’t talk to their peers about such devastating news. It’s also not uncommon for them to feel like they can’t go to other adults in the family whom they may see as struggling to cope with their own emotions while trying to plan for the family member’s medical care. 

First, plan ahead for when and where you will have the conversation. If at all possible, avoid having the conversation with your teen when they’ve had a lousy day at school, work, or practice. Give them some space at home to recover from their day and then invite them to sit down for a chat.

Second, manage your own emotions. Begin the conversation about a family member with dementia when you feel as centered as possible. Your teen will need your guidance and support; they should not feel like they have to support you. You want to create a safe space for them to experience whatever emotions come-up for them.

Third, be prepared to provide support. Make sure you have resources ready to share with your teen, should they need them. Of course, they can lean on you; also, be able to recommend other family members, community resources, or support groups. The teen probably won’t want this at that very moment, but you can tell them you have these resources ready for them, should they be interested.

What to Say to a Teen about a Loved One with Dementia

When you do speak share the news with your teen, be honest and open from the start. If a rapid decline is expected, let them know this. Be forthcoming with whatever knowledge you have about the family member’s diagnosis. And, remember:

  • Keep information simple; don’t use complicated medical terms. Explain treatment plans in concise terms so the teen knows what to expect going forward.
  • Give only the information you know; don’t speculate. 
  • Be realistic; don’t encourage false hope. There is no way to reverse dementia.
  • Accept your teen’s feelings. They will move through many different ‘feeling states’ during the course of a loved one’s struggle with dementia. 
  • Help the teen to understand changes in behavior, thought process, and personality that can occur in their loved one with dementia.
  • Encourage your teen to utilize appropriate resources to help them learn how to respond as their loved one changes and so they can effectively process their own feelings as these changes occur. 

Some teens will understand more about dementia than others. They may dive into researching information to better understand how their loved one will be affected. Others may not want to know any details about the diagnosis. These are both coping strategies. For most teens, it may be helpful to have a family meeting with the medical providers or medial support staff who can answer questions and provide more specific advice to help you teen cope.

What Can Your Teen Do Once They Learn of a Family Member with Dementia?

In the days and weeks that follow the news about a family member having a diagnosis of dementia, your teen may wonder how they should act around this person. What should they—or shouldn’t they—say or do? 

Teens often will be concerned about how their own behavior may affect the family member with dementia. Additionally, the teen will be concerned about the safety and quality of life of the family member with dementia. This is a lot for a teen to think about on top of all the usual excitement and stress that comes with being a young person on the verge of adulthood. 

Help Teens Stay Connected with a Family Member with Dementia 

There are quite a few things that your teen can do to help them maintain meaningful interaction with their loved one who has dementia include:

  • Continue with usual routines, such as a weekly visit, with the family member with dementia.
  • Play simple games such as cards, puzzles or even rolling a ball back and forth
  • Bake cookies or muffins.
  • Play with molding clay or even Play-dough.
  • Enjoy time outdoors by taking a walk or sitting in the park.
  • Look at photos or create a memory box or scrapbook.
  • Watch re-runs of their favorite TV show.

If the teen does not live near the family member, these approaches can help them maintain connection:

  • Write letters to the family member with dementia. Letters can be read by, or to the adult with dementia. It creates a more meaningful connection than email or text. If the family member can use technology, it’s okay to text or email as long as it is medically prudent to do so. 
  • Call and leave a voice message. Frequent calls and voice message can be appropriate ways to let a loved one know they are in your thoughts. Video calls are another good option. 
  • Send a care package. Everyone loves to receive goodies in the mail. Include art or and photos or other personalized items that the teen creates, if desired. Be sure to check with medical providers for items that should not be sent.
  • Plan a visit. It is really hard to know for sure how quickly a person will decline with dementia. Don’t delay in planning an in-person visit. 

There are many other activities that a person with dementia can continue, depending upon the degree to which the illness is affecting them. Be sure to check with your family member’s medical support team for specific suggestions.

As you and your teen navigate the care of a family member with dementia, encourage your teen to talk or journal about their experiences and emotions. When necessary, meet with a grief counselor as a family. And remember, as you demonstrate healthy emotions and model ways of maintaining connection, you will help your teen work through their own concerns and feelings about how dementia will affect their loved one.

Everbrook Senior Living Helps Families Cope with a Dementia Diagnosis

When it comes to the support a family needs to cope with dementia diagnosis, the staff at Everbrook Senior Living go above and beyond to provide resources and support for all. We, too, are son and daughters, nieces and nephews, of person’s who have been placed in long term care due to dementia. We are available and approachable – often giving out our cell phone numbers as we help families navigate challenges that come with declining health due to dementia. You can trust in our healthcare experience; you can count on our compassion. Learn more about our Memory Care services and our EGIS program.

Resources 

Parent Guide to Helping Children and Teens Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

https://www.alz.org/documents/national/brochure_childrenteens.pdf 

Alzheimer Society. Helping Teens Understand Dementia

https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/i-have-friend-or-family-member-who-lives-dementia/helping-teens-understand-dementia 

When a Friend or Family Member Has Dementia: Resources for Kids and Teens

https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/kids-teens 

Fresh air and colorful fall foliage make the autumn months ideal for spending time outdoors. An excellent way for older adults to be active outside is to become involved with a volunteer project in their local community. When senior citizens become active in doing good deeds for others, their health and well-being improve! 

Someone who chooses to do volunteer work does so because they believe it makes a difference for others who are having a harder time in life. Research shows that such altruistic behavior also makes the volunteer feel good about themselves. Volunteerism helps give a person a refreshed perspective on their own life and a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves.

Beyond just feeling good in that moment of doing a good deed, volunteering also has lasting effects on several aspects of an older adult’s physical and social-emotional health and well-being.

Older Adults Volunteers Experience Improved Social Well-being 

The isolation that comes from not feeling a sense of belonging and having a community that one can rely on is detrimental for an older adult’s health. Seniors who spend too much time alone can become depressed and anxious, which can contribute to other health problems. 

When older adults get involved with volunteer work they experience benefits for their social well-being, such as:

  • Stronger sense of community and personal connection to people and resources 
  • Opportunities to create genuine friendships
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation

Older Adult Volunteers Have Enhanced Emotional Well-being 

When older adults are active in their community, using their time and talent to give back to others, it reinforces a sense of urgency, brings meaning to their life, and helps them acquire perspective on how much living and giving they still have left to offer. The emotional benefits of volunteer work for older adults include:

  • Improved self-esteem
  • Greater sense of worthiness
  • Reduced feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Regaining a sense of purpose and meaning

Older Adult Volunteers Experience Positive Changes in Their Physical Health 

In general, people who volunteer are more physically active; have lower rates of heart disease, depression, anxiety; and overall take better care of themselves. 

A few of the many physical health effects that come from being engaged in volunteer work include:

  • Being more physically active and improving fitness
  • Enhanced resilience
  • Less affected by muscle tension
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

There are many ways for older adults to become active volunteers in their local community. Everbrook community program directors are always looking for local events. You may also reach out to your local library, children’s home, or food shelter to see what type of help they need. Perhaps you have a hobby or skill from your professional experience that can benefit a local non-profit. Maybe you want to try something new; volunteering is a great way to learn a new skill! Find a cause that is meaningful for you and get involved—you’ll be helping others and helping improve your health, too! 

Everbrook Senior Living Residents are Active Members of a Community

At Everbrook, we believe that interdependence helps to preserve independence. We encourage our residents to become involved in their community, both at and outside of their immediate residence. 

Our caring and dedicated team will help residents discover what is significant in their life. Residents, with as much support as is needed for their functional status, can become involved, active, and healthier through a variety of activities at Everbrook and in the community beyond Everbrook. The hub for these opportunities is our Wellness 4 Later Life™ program, which encompasses seven dimensions of wellness: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, intellectual, vocational, and environmental, as are advocated by the International Council of Active Aging

If you are looking for a senior community where you'll experience mutual respect and support among residents, as well as a place where all residents experience belonging, and can find meaningful ways to be involved in life, then please visit an Everbrook Senior Living community today. 

Resources

NationalService.gov. “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A review of Recent Research.” Corporation of National & Community Service. Accessed 13 Oct 2018: https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf

Thebalancesmb.com “The 15 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering that will Inspire You.” Accessed 13 October 2018: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/unexpected-benefits-of-volunteering-4132453 

CreateTheGood.org “Health Benefits of Volunteering.” Accessed 13 Oct 2014: http://createthegood.org/articles/volunteeringhealth 

Carlson, Michelle C., Erickson, Kirk I., Kramer, Arthur F., et al., “ Evidence for Neurocognitive Plasticity in at-risk older adults: The Experience Corps Program.” Jls of Gerontology: Series A, (1 December 2009) 64A:12, Pages 1275–1282, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glp117

 

 

 

Monday, 12 September 2022 17:45

Cleaning House—It’s Good for Your Brain!

Written by

Cleaning up around the house isn’t just meant for springtime! The health benefits of picking up around your place has been shown to be good for your brain. Plus, it’s pretty good exercise. So, if you’re someone who has never been too keen about house cleaning, you’ve got good reason to change your mind! New research shows that the physical activity of doing household chores is good for brain health—even reducing your risk for dementia. 

Physical Activity and Brain Health

Being physically active increases blood flow circulation throughout the body and to the brain. Moderate physical activity promotes a positive mood, helps you manage stress, and can reduce inflammation in the body. A large research study recently published in the journal, Neurology, showed it’s not just exercise (such as brisk walking, swimming, or bike riding) that supports brain health. Daily activity from doing household chores also showed protective benefits against risk for dementia. Don't worry, we aren't talking about "bucket full of cleaners, rubber gloves, and a mop" type of cleaning. Just the simple, day-to-day, chores.

Essentially, the study team wanted to know “What lifestyle habits can reduce risk for various forms of dementia?” 

Over 500,000 men and women participated in the study, completing various health and lifestyle questionnaires. Participants ranged in age from 40-69 years, with an average age of 56.5 years. The participants were recruited from England, Scotland, and Wales. The results of the study established a significant relationship exists between certain lifestyle factors and decreased risk for dementia over a ten-year period. 

3 Simple Lifestyle Shifts that May Lower Risk for Dementia

The findings indicate that 3 lifestyle factors are associated with reducing risk for dementia:

  • Frequent Physical Activity: Associated with a 35% lower risk of dementia.
  • Housework-Related Activities (Chores): Associated with a 21% lower risk of dementia.
  • Social Visits with Friends/Family: Associated with a 15%lower risk of dementia.

These results indicate a strong correlation between risk for dementia and each of the 3 lifestyle factors. Suggesting that simple lifestyle shifts contribute to reducing risk of dementia as we age.

What type of household physical activity reduces risk for dementia?

According to the research, the household physical activities that participants engaged in on a regular basis included the following:

  • tidying rooms / organizing – folding clothes and putting them in drawers, hanging up clothes in the closet, removing any clutter from bureaus and nightstands.
  • dusting / vacuum cleaning – running the vacuum cleaner over high-traffic areas or in the kitchen, dusting the coffee table, bookcase, or other seldom used areas.
  • kitchen clean up – putting dishes and silverware into the dishwasher, wiping down the counters, and placing food items away after each meal.

Why might daily chores lower risk for dementia?

Even though the present study did not investigate the specific mechanisms of why engaging in chores is protective against the brain, other research lends insight into this. For example, doing chores also gets the brain thinking and planning. When house cleaning, you are not just moving; you are also actively planning the order of tasks, how to organize things, making decisions about what to keep or toss out, and so on. In a nutshell, doing chores involves a lot more of the gray matter between your ears than you might think!

Wellness 4 Later Life is a Priority at Everbrook Senior Living 

When it comes to well-being in older adulthood, Everbrook Senior Living provides first-in-class health and wellness solutions to enrich the lives of our residents. Our Wellness 4 Later Life programming offers innovative classes and activities to support mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. From exercise classes to social programs, our staff work closely with residents and clinical teams to deliver fun, individualized programs that enhance self-sufficiency and independent living in later life.

Resources

Jianwei Zhu, Fenfen Ge, Yu Zheng, Yuanyuan Qu, Wenwen Chen, Huazhen Yang, Lei Yang, Fang Fang, Huan Song. "Physical and Mental Activity, Disease Susceptibility, and Risk of Dementia A Prospective Cohort Study Based on UK Biobank." Neurology (July 27, 2022) DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200701

Psychology Today Online, “Doing Household Chores Linked to a Lower Risk of Dementia” written by Bergland, C., posted on 29 July 2022. Accessed 16 Aug 2022:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/202207/doing-household-chores-linked-lower-risk-dementia 

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