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Memory Changes: When They Are More Than Just "Getting Older"

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAYou've probably heard this phrase before: "I'm just getting older." The statement is often made to explain myriad aches and pains, memory lapses and mobility limitations, and may reflect acceptance that some parts of the body do not work as well as they once did due to aging – a truth that all creatures experience.

The explanation should be used with caution, though. No one should blame something they are experiencing on "just getting older," because they might miss something that could be treatable. This expression is frequently used to dismiss daily symptoms, which could result from an underlying disease, leading to needless suffering that could have been evaluated and appropriately treated.

Memory complaints do occur very frequently as one gets get older. Delays in recalling words and names – feeling that what you want to say is "just on the tip of your tongue" – are a part of normal aging, and unfortunately these delays lengthen as a person gets older. Multitasking and learning new things also become more challenging. These are normal aging experiences, but none of these changes should affect one's ability to remain independent in performing basic and instrumental daily living activities.

Often, a person who experiences a memory complaint never brings up the issue with his or her doctor. Sometimes the same patient has so many medical problems that, despite the best efforts of the patient's primary care physician, managing other medical problems takes away the time needed to address a memory concern appropriately.

Memory complaints become significant when you start to see them affect daily life. Sometimes a person's ability to remain employed, perform work-related tasks, participate in community activities or maintain hobbies declines, leading that person to retire or quit an activity. When memory problems impair a person's ability to engage in everyday routines such as managing finances, driving in familiar areas or taking medications regularly and reliably, then the memory problems should not be ignored or brushed off as a normal part of aging. An evaluation focused on memory complaints should be performed if such signs are observed.

A basic workup includes a review of the memory or cognitive issues, specifically how long the problems have been noted, and any other associated mood, behavioral or movement problems. Cognitive testing (such as a Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination or Montreal Cognitive Assessment) should be performed to document the presence and severity of the cognitive impairments. A screening for depression should also be performed, along with routine bloodwork. A CT scan of the brain could also be performed to exclude other problems. Ultimately, all of this information should be reviewed to uncover the most likely explanation for the memory problems and to determine the best ways to manage those issues.

Though dementia may be the first cause that comes to mind, there can be others. Sometimes depression can trigger memory complaints, although they're often accompanied by other symptoms, such as loss of interests in hobbies or activities a person previously enjoyed, a feeling of worthlessness, sleep problems or loss of appetite. A recent illness or hospitalization could cause a temporary period of confusion called delirium, which typically resolves over time. Medications – prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal – that affect the brain, and medical conditions such as stroke, thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies, could also produce memory and/or cognitive problems.

It's important to remember that changes with memory and cognitive function accompany, but aren't necessarily explained by normal aging. If there is a concern or if function becomes compromised because of memory problems, it should always be brought up with your physician. The ultimate goal is to preserve independence and to plan ahead if you need assistance.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

US News - Health


Downsizing? What to Look for in an Age-Friendly Community

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 12, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCEmpty-nesters in search of new digs may have a wish list that looks something like this: warm climate, tennis courts, golf courses, walking trails and a spare room for the grandchildren to stay.

But here’s the thing. What we want at age 65 may not be what we need 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. Even the most physically active among us could have a stroke or end up in a wheelchair in early retirement.

As boomers cash out, gerontologists are urging newly minted seniors to think hard before choosing their next place to live. Cognitive decline, or loss of a spouse, could push them out sooner than they think.

Instead of just downsizing into a condo or one-story home, researchers say retirees should consider what their broader surroundings may offer as their needs change.

Here are five things to look for in an age-friendly community:

Car-free transportation

Many of us assume we’ll be driving until the day we die. But now that people are living longer, more and more of us will end up with vision problems, physical disabilities or cognitive impairments that prevent us from driving years before we take our last breath.

House hunters nearing retirement should think about how they would get to the grocery store, pharmacy, swimming pool or a friend’s house without a driver’s license. When retirees choose to live in car-oriented communities, it may actually curtail the amount of time they can live independently.

Meaningful relationships

When deciding to move later in life, it’s important to choose a community where you can either maintain, redevelop or re-establish your social network.

Older adults should think twice about moving to places that lack community centers and activities that draw like-minded people. Finding friends to go bowling with may not be enough. You want to have reciprocal relationships with the community so you’re looking for opportunities for employment, or volunteering.

Before moving, older adults should pay close attention to their specific social needs. Social isolation, especially later in life, is quite literally deadly.

Mental stimulation

Many new retirees can’t wait for all the golfing, Zumba classes and exotic travels in their future. But a leisure-focused life may quickly lose its charm.

Boomers are no longer interested in bingo. Check for lifelong learning opportunities in a neighborhood of choice. Many colleges and universities offer free tuition to people over 65 for a variety of courses. Other adults may prefer to search out creative activities, such as community arts projects and music groups.

Health services

Planning for healthy aging after retirement goes beyond choosing to live near a hospital. The community should have an adequate number of family doctors and medical clinics, too. Health and social services should be accessible to older adults using any mode of transportation.

Care in the twilight years

Boomers may see retirement as a last chance to live on a houseboat or a quaint island before senescence forces them into a nursing home. But the plan to move again sometime in the distant future could set them up for a harsh transition, and ultimately, poorer health. With every move, especially later in life, the change is really hard on people. The research shows that elderly people tend to be healthier and happier when they stay in their homes.

Giving up the houseboat fantasy may be worth the price if older adults can remain or settle in a community where family and friends can help. Otherwise, retirees should make sure that affordable home-care services are available in their area. Personal care, housekeeping, snow removal and yard work services could help them remain at home until their last days.

For more information senior living communities, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

theglobeandmail.com


Downsizing Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 02, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VADownsizing your home can be stressful enough as it is, let alone without worrying about what to do with a lifetime of possessions.

Whether you’re moving to a retirement village, a smaller home or unit, or to an aged care facility, there is ways you can keep some of your unique personal style and make your new home just as homely as your family home.

One of the biggest obstacles is sorting through possessions.

A lot of people put off doing this, that’s why they put off downsizing.

Family dynamics can make it worse, especially if mother has furniture that the kids don’t want or the kids start to make decisions about possessions for her. Here is some advice for the main downsizing decisions – assisted living, and retirement living.

Assisted Living

Even if you’re not downsizing to an aged care facility, chances are you may have to help a loved one such as a parent through that process.

Some assisted living facilities may have shared rooms or there is just limited space in a private room for you or your loved one.

It’s important to measure up and see if any existing furniture can be taken to the assisted living facility.

That can be important to a lot of older people, but often their furniture is too big or it’s not stable enough.

There are really simple inexpensive storage options out there, such as the little cube units, that people can put their belongings in before they are ready to let them go.

All those little treasures in their home can still fit in their room if they have a small shelf.

It’s important to bring those little touches with you to make it homely.

If you’re helping an elderly relative through this process of downsizing to assisted living, then it can be very stressful on everyone.

You may need to bring a specialist third party in to assist you.

It’s important to include your loved one in the process, even if they don’t completely have mental or physical capabilities to assist.

Retirement living

Most retirement villages, over-55s communities or lifestyle resorts offer small, one-and-a-half or two bedroom units.

This is the downsizing scenario you’re most likely to undertake.

It’s one of the biggest, most life-changing events you can experience after you retire.

But instead of viewing it as a stressful experience, look at it as a good opportunity to “cleanse your life”.

If you don’t make it a nice living space, and fill it with clutter, it can be overwhelming for you.

Moving is a good opportunity to get rid of some of the clutter, not just possessions, but also to cleanse your head and address those things that have been living in the background for some time.

For more information on moving to assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

startsat60.com


Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease - Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 22, 2017

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in individuals older than 65 years and affects more than 5 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Alzheimer’s progresses slowly in three stages: an early stage with few symptoms, a middle stage of mild mental impairment and a final stage of Alzheimer’s dementia (Table).

These stages are general descriptions, as each individual with Alzheimer’s experiences it in a unique way. Mental, physical and functional phases often overlap, the time in each stage varies widely from patient to patient and not every patient experiences all Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Memory problems and changes in behavior and thinking are common as people age, so tests are needed to rule out other causes of symptoms that appear to be related to Alzheimer’s. Some conditions (such as stroke, tumor, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disturbances, adverse effects of medication, infections or non-Alzheimer’s dementia) can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but many of these conditions are treatable and possibly reversible.

The amount of time an individual can live with Alzheimer’s can range from three or four years, if older than 80 years when given a diagnosis, to as long as 10 years or more if younger than 80 years. Alzheimer’s can only be definitively diagnosed after death, however, by linking symptoms with examination of brain tissue in an autopsy.

Stage 1: Mild/Early (Lasts 2 to 4 Years)

Alzheimer’s disease begins slowly and initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. In the very early stages, minor memory lapses or losing things around the house may be the only symptoms. Toward the end of the first stage, friends and family may recognize there is a problem. They may begin to notice their loved one frequently repeating questions, having difficulty finding the right word in conversations and losing understanding of language. Over time, the disease deprives individuals of more memory, particularly the ability to remember new information, such as recent conversations or events. Based on performance on memory and mental tests, a physician will be able to detect impaired mental function at this stage.

Stage 2: Moderate/Middle (Lasts 2 to 10 Years)

Moderate Alzheimer’s can last for many years. During the moderate/ middle stage, brain function gets worse, affecting areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing and thought. The symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s disease are mostly an increase in the severity of stage 1 symptoms. Professional and social functioning continue to deteriorate because of increasing problems with memory, logic and speech.

The signs of the disease become more pronounced, and behavioral problems often occur. Individuals have greater difficulty performing tasks and begin to forget some details about their life. Affected individuals may still know their family members and some details about their past, especially their childhood and youth. Symptoms may include mood and behavior changes, social withdrawal, confusion, changes in sleep patterns and an increased risk of wandering and becoming lost.

Information, skills and habits learned early in life, such as the ability to read, dance, sing, enjoy music and hobbies, are among the last abilities to be lost as the disease progresses. The part of the brain that stores this information tends to be affected later in the course of the disease. Making the most of these abilities can help maintain quality of life, even in the moderate phase of the disease.

Stage 3: Severe/Late (Lasts 1 to 3-Plus Years)

In the last stage of Alzheimer’s, nerve cells in the brain are extensively damaged, causing a severe decline in vocabulary, emotions and the connection of the brain to body parts. Full-time care is required as patients lose the ability to walk, sit up straight, hold up their head and smile. It is not possible for patients to move the hand to the mouth, place one foot in front of the other or urinate on their own. Speech becomes severely limited.

Death often occurs when the body can no longer fight off infection or because the organs begin to break down. Pneumonia is one of the most frequent causes of death in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. In patients who do not succumb to infection or other conditions that are not directly related to Alzheimer’s disease, death usually occurs when the brain can no longer control the body and organs.

Reasons for Hope

Although the onset of Alzheimer’s disease cannot yet be stopped or reversed, an early diagnosis can allow individuals the opportunity to live well for as long as possible and plan for the future. Current treatment approaches focus on helping patients maintain mental function, manage behavioral symptoms and improve the symptoms of disease. In the future, therapies may be available that target specific genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms so that the underlying cause of the disease can be stopped or prevented.

For more information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

US News - Health


Identifying Alzheimer’s Symptoms – Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 19, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VACognitive impairment is unrecognized in 27 to 81 percent of affected patients in primary care. Patients with memory trouble may also be non-compliant with medical care.

If you suspect a loved one might be displaying symptoms associated with the early stages of Alzheimer's, pay attention to these warning signs. If a few of these sound a little too familiar, schedule an appointment with your family's primary care physician:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily activities
  • Challenges with planning or solving problems
  • Confusion with time and place or understanding of visual images
  • Withdrawal from work or other social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Difficulty with speech and/or writing

By getting in touch with a primary care provider, concerns can begin to be addressed, and you can identify what other types of specialists might be most helpful in caring for your loved one. As a caregiver, there are many resources available for you as well.

Comprehensive approaches improve identification and support of caregivers in need. This can help enhance quality of life for all impacted by Alzheimer's.

For more information on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, contact Spring Arbor.

US New - Health


Greensboro, N.C.: A Great City for Retiring in Good Health

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCDeciding whether to retire to the mountains or the beach? Split the difference in Greensboro, N.C., just three hours by car from the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Atlantic beaches.

But you won't need to leave town to stay active, engaged and healthy. Greensboro’s downtown offers a wide variety of restaurants (mostly independently owned), plus brew pubs, bars, coffee shops and theaters on or near Elm or Greene streets. The Farmers' Curb Market, founded in 1874, is open year-round.

Fitness and recreation venues include the new City Center Park, which offers a variety of fitness classes; the Greensboro Aquatic Center, within the Greensboro Coliseum Complex; and numerous rec centers with adult programs. Golfers can choose from six public and six private courses. The city has invested in sidewalks as well as hiking and biking trails that are open year-round. The Downtown Greenway, under construction, will create a four-mile walking and biking trail around the center city and connect with existing and planned greenways.

After energizing your body, exercise your brain with learning opportunities at the area's colleges and universities (the largest of which is the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) or the city's downtown cultural campus, where a performing arts center will debut in 2018.

Just a couple of miles from downtown, the Old Irving Park neighborhood attracts new residents to its high-end, eclectic homes and winding, tree-lined streets. Three-bedroom houses there run about $210,000 to $675,000. The neighborhood, which surrounds the Greensboro Country Club, also attracts nonresidents who like to stroll there after work, says former Neighborhood Congress board member Cyndy Hayworth. A decade ago, she and her husband downsized to the neighborhood, where they appreciate being "just minutes to everything," including the flagship hospital of Cone Health, a nonprofit health care system.

The state imposes a flat income tax of 5.75% but exempts Social Security benefits. Residents of Greensboro pay a sales tax of 6.75% (prescription drugs and medical equipment are exempt).

For more information on retiring in Greensboro, NC or for assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

Kiplinger


Tips for Decorating An Assisted Living Home - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 15, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAWhen moving into assisted living you cannot overlook decorating your parents’ new home. Rather, use this opportunity to get their new lifestyle off to a great start.

Remember throughout this process that, “less is more.”

For most families, there will be downsizing, and often a major one if someone is moving from a much larger home where they raised a family.

Consider that the action – excellent amenities, dining and countless life-enriching opportunities – is one of the primary reasons why seniors are able to enjoy a happy retirement by being active outside of the home. The fortunate thing for the residents at a community is that everything is readily available within walking distance from their front door.

Think of it as, less indoors in your home, more to do outside of it.

Decorating is still important though and some careful thought and consideration should be put into it.

The assisted living apartments have ADA-compliant bathrooms and kitchenettes, and that it’s important to keep plenty of room in the apartment to move around and avoid falls.

The bedroom should be simple. The bed should be the ideal size and easy to get in and out of daily. Add a nightstand with a lamp, phone and a clock with illumination.

The living room is where most seniors spend most of their time when they’re not out and about so make this as comfortable as possible. Lift chairs are a great option. You may also consider a small desk for storing papers, bills, etc., as well as to place a laptop, pad or other electronic devices, if they have them.

While you may have a lifetime of photos and mementos, your home isn’t a museum. Carefully choose some of your favorite photos and decorate the walls.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

Newton Daily News


Retire in Greensboro, NC: One of the Best Cities to Live in NC!

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 05, 2017

Spring Arbor senior living, Greensboro, NCKnown as the Tarheel State, North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the U.S. and had a population of over 9.7 million in 2012. It contains a diversity of geographical features and is divided into three sections. The mountains are in the west, the Piedmont is in the middle and the coastal plains are in the east. Its central location on the Atlantic Coast, mild weather and economic diversity make it a great place to call home. Also, its two largest metropolitan areas of Raleigh and Charlotte are among the top 10 fastest-growing in the country. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to live in North Carolina.

Greensboro:

What could be considered as the heart of the Piedmont region, Greensboro is centrally located in North Carolina. It’s also the third largest city behind Charlotte and Raleigh. It’s a food lover’s paradise, and there are over 500 restaurants throughout the city. There are also plenty of attractions including art galleries, a zoo, waterpark and several golf courses.

For more information on senior living with levels of care in Greensboro, NC, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

Livability


Virginia is One of the Best States for Retirement - Richmond, VA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 01, 2017

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAMany of us long for a retirement that will feel like going on a permanent vacation. But before we buy that beach bungalow, box up our stuff and break out the Costco-sized wine spritzers, a reality check may be in order.

Bankrate’s latest ranking of the best and worst states to retire finds the fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement may have drawbacks as we face aging issues and our savings dwindle. Retiree meccas like Florida and Arizona don’t come close to cracking our top 10.

#6. Virginia

Many do want to retire somewhere else - It’s no myth that many people dream of moving in retirement. A new Bankrate survey shows that 47% of Americans would consider relocating when they retire. Higher-earning households and younger people are more likely to say so than everyone else.

According to our poll, Americans’ priorities for a retirement haven suggest they’re giving a lot of thought to practical considerations like cost of living and health care.

How we rate the states

To rank the states according to what people say they want in retirement, we pull together data on these eight criteria:

  • Cost of living
  • Healthcare quality
  • Crime
  • Cultural vitality
  • Weather
  • Taxes
  • Senior citizens’ overall well-being
  • The prevalence of other seniors

Two of our categories are new: cultural vitality (whether residents can find fun stuff to do) and the prevalence of other seniors (whether it would be easy to find other retirees to hang out with).

We weight the factors based on the importance they were given in our survey.

For more information on assisted living in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive
Bankrate


North Carolina is One of the Best States To Retire – Greensboro, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Arbor, Greensboro, NCMany of us long for a retirement that will feel like going on a permanent vacation. But before we buy that beach bungalow, box up our stuff and break out the Costco-sized wine spritzers, a reality check may be in order.

Bankrate’s latest ranking of the best and worst states to retire finds the fun-in-the-sun places often associated with retirement may have drawbacks as we face aging issues and our savings dwindle. Retiree meccas like Florida and Arizona don’t come close to cracking our top 10.

#20 North Carolina

Many do want to retire somewhere else - It’s no myth that many people dream of moving in retirement. A new Bankrate survey shows that 47% of Americans would consider relocating when they retire. Higher-earning households and younger people are more likely to say so than everyone else.

According to our poll, Americans’ priorities for a retirement haven suggest they’re giving a lot of thought to practical considerations like cost of living and health care.

How we rate the states

To rank the states according to what people say they want in retirement, we pull together data on these eight criteria:

  • Cost of living
  • Healthcare quality
  • Crime
  • Cultural vitality
  • Weather
  • Taxes
  • Senior citizens’ overall well-being
  • The prevalence of other seniors

Two of our categories are new: cultural vitality (whether residents can find fun stuff to do) and the prevalence of other seniors (whether it would be easy to find other retirees to hang out with).

We weight the factors based on the importance they were given in our survey.

For more information on assisted living in Greensboro, NC, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive
Bankrate