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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Virginia Museum of Fine Art Traveling Exhibit and Spring Arbor Living

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jan Perez (senior staff member at Spring Arbor of Salisbury) spoke of the profound positive effects from the ongoing Virginia Museum of Fine Art traveling exhibit “What’s So Radical About Impressionism”.  Ms Perez confirms the feelings of the entire Spring Arbor staff. It was a indeed a pleasure to see the spirits of our residents, family, friends, and the general community lifted by the exhibit.  None enjoyed the exhibit more than those Spring Arbor residents who continue to paint to this very day.  We witnessed an undeniable increase in social interaction by our assisted living residents and an observable eagerness to share their reflective reminisces motivated by the art.  Over the past two weeks, staff and residents alike took a “step back in time” thanks to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.  We are all most grateful.

Assisted Living Benefits

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 15, 2010

Some senior citizens are fortunate enough to have health and financial independence to live their lives in their own homes without much assistance from family members.  Then there are other seniors who eventually require 24 hour medical care and professional supervision.  A significant segment of the aging population, however, falls somewhere between these two scenarios.  They may require some assistance with activities of daily living, medications and transportation, but they can also maintain a fairly independent lifestyle. Spring Arbor Living's assisted living communities address the particular needs of these seniors.

Spring Arbor's assisted living bridges the gap between the constant nursing care provided in nursing homes and the unsupervised private home.  Some concerned family members cannot afford the monthly expenses of a nursing home facility, but they fear for their loved one's safety at home.  Our assisted living community is designed to provide private or semi-private apartments for residents in an environment that promotes independence, choice and dignity.

For many families, there are many benefits of assisted living.  Their loved ones are supervised by trained caregivers, and critical items such as medications and food are provided.  We also provide entertainment, social outings, transportation and assistance with personal care.  Relatives and friends are encouraged to visit as frequently as possible.  Nursing homes do a fine job in providing 24 hour medical care but if this isn’t needed, Spring Arbor Living's communities are the best choice for residential assisted living and dementia care.

When to reveal diagnosis of dementia

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 08, 2010

Health Alert Update from John Hopkins

Many physicians fear that revealing a diagnosis of dementia would only further upset an already troubled patient, but a study from Washington University in St. Louis found quite the opposite. When it comes to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, knowing the truth as soon as possible appears to be the better approach, potentially improving the emotional wellbeing of both patients and their caregivers, the researchers report.

Medical advances have made it possible to diagnose Alzheimer's at very early stages, but a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that about half of all physicians were reluctant to inform patients of an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

The study followed 90 individuals and their caregivers as they came to the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University's School of Medicine for an evaluation. Sixty nine percent eventually got a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, but no significant changes in depression were noted and anxiety decreased substantially.

"The major finding is that both patients and their families feel relief, not increased anxiety, upon learning the diagnosis," says study co-author John C. Morris, M.D., Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. This was true regardless of the degree of impairment.  Read more here ...

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Comes to Spring Arbor Salisbury

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Comes to Spring Arbor Salisbury (Through March 17)

Spring Arbor of Salisbury has brought a little bit of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to their residents, families and the community through their traveling exhibit, “What’s so Radical About Impressionism.”  Eleven Impressionist era paintings hang in the hallway for all to view until March 17, 2010.

Spring Arbor Living embraces the proven practice of “art therapy” as a means to improve the quality of life for our guests by promoting individuality, building self-esteem, elevating mood through the stimulation of creativity, and stimulating cognition and memory.   Art therapy is often used to treat people with dementia, a growing population that needs on-going, creative programming to address their changing needs.

The primary focus behind creative therapy is to reduce anxiety and increase attention. Oftentimes, people with dementia become socially isolated because of their condition. Communication can also be difficult for someone with dementia, adding to the feeling of isolation. Art therapy encourages communication as well as socialization and expression, particularly for those clients in the later stages of dementia.

Please feel free to stop by Spring Arbor of Salisbury to view the fine works of Eugene Boudin, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Pieree August Renoir, and others. Read more here

Distinguishing Normal “Senior Moments” From More Worrisome Memory Lapses

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 25, 2010

As we age occasional memory lapses, such as forgetting why you walked into a room, can't find your keys, or having difficulty recalling a person’s name, become more common as we approach our 50s and 60s. It’s comforting to know that this minor forgetfulness is a normal sign of aging, not a sign of dementia. In fact it's a good sign and normal if we joke about our memory loss.

But other types of memory loss, such as forgetting appointments or becoming momentarily disoriented in a familiar place, may indicate mild cognitive impairment. In the most serious form of memory loss, dementia, people often find themselves disoriented in time and place and unable to name common objects or recognize once familiar people.  Also, other signs of dementia are losing sense of time or even what day it is, forgetting someone you knew well, and trouble learning/retaining new information.

There are plenty of resources out there to read on this topic. When Doctors get involved they start by looking for conditions that are correctable or treatable. If these possibilities can be eliminated, then more serious, irreversible dementias – such as Alzheimer’s disease -- are considered.

Diagnosing Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 19, 2010

According to guidelines published by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, a person who has difficulties with one or more of the following activities should be evaluated for dementia:

  • Learning and retaining new information - The person regularly misplaces objects, has trouble remembering appointments or recent conversations, or is repetitive in conversation.
  • Handling complex tasks - The individual has trouble with previously familiar activities, like balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, or other tasks that involve a complex train of thought.
  • Ability to reason. - The person finds it difficult to respond appropriately to everyday problems, such as a flat tire. Or, a previously responsible, well-adjusted person may display poor judgment about social or financial matters.
  • Spatial ability and orientation. - Driving and finding one’s way in familiar surroundings become difficult or impossible, and the person may have problems recognizing known objects and landmarks.
  • Language - The ability to speak or comprehend seems impaired, and the person may have problems following or participating in conversations.
  • Behavior - Personality changes emerge. For example, the person appears more passive and less responsive than usual, or more suspicious and irritable. Visual or auditory stimuli may be misinterpreted

How to Compare Assisted Living Communities - VA, NC, SC, TN

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to Compare Assisted Living Communities

This Medicare site ( ) offers the most straight forward answers to important questions such as “How to Compare Assisted Living Facilities.”

Unfortunately, for many families, the decisions they face about how best to serve their elderly relatives comes down to available finances. It is just a reality in today's health care environment and affects how we have chosen as a society to care for our parents. The more financial flexibility you have the more options you have, and this site is a great resource to help make sure you are getting everything that you need to, and to help you plan for the future ... to get the best care for your elderly parents as you can.

Assisted Living For the Caregiver - VA, NC, SC, TN

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 12, 2010

Assisted Living For the Caregiver

With forty-plus years of assisted living experience, we know and understand that the moment a loved one has Alzheimer's or related dementia, their care and support requirements continually increase. It is simply a matter of time before the care provider's challenges become overwhelming and they themselves must turn to external support.  We have experienced too many countless tales of families reaching the "breaking point" … the point where physical and psychological burden is simply too great to bear.  

Whether or not you've reached the "Breaking Point", we want you to know that you can "lean on us". Consider our guiding creed and principal, "Compassionate Care Delivered By Passionate Professionals".  Unlike the vast majority of Assisted Living communities owned and operated by impersonal larger conglomerates, Spring Arbor is a privately held operation that is able to deliver an unequalled level of care and compassion.

Spring Arbor Living is ready to discuss your situation, your loved one's needs, and assist you in helping to determine your family's best course of action.

Social Engagement and Wandering - Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Social Engagement and Wandering - Assisted Living

Enjoying meaningful activities or programs is an essential part of any good dementia care community. The right activities can help residents stay physically and mentally active as well as feel alive and happier. At Spring Arbor Living and the Oaks our goals/objectives for social engagement are:

  • offer meaningful daily activities that include a sense of community, choices, interest and enjoyment
  • design activities and to do with the residents .. not to them or for them - we feel this is extremely important
  • respect residents' preferences, including when they prefer to be alone

We know that meaningful daily social interactions offer a sense of dignity and promote self-esteem.  Wandering can also be a healthy part of these activities.

Many in assisted living care assume that wandering is something that should be stopped, when in fact it is extremely important to support a person’s movement. We encourage the person to move about safely and independently and work hard at understanding the meaning of a person’s wandering. It may indicate an unmet need such as hunger or boredom.  Wandering can be helpful when it provides stimulation, promotes social contact or helps maintain mobility.

Dementia, Did you know?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dementia may cause people to eat and drink less. They may not recognize that they are hungry or thirsty. In addition, some people with dementia can't smell and/or taste as well as they could before. In addition, they may also have trouble swallowing.

Nutrition Impact - Not eating enough or eating an unhealthy diet can worsen a resident's health.  Our high level goals for nutrition are as follows:

  • To provide systems/programs that detect and prevent malnutrition
  • We assure excellent nutrition through food selection, factoring in personal preferences and tastes
  • We make meal times pleasant and enjoyable
  • Snacks are provided throughout the day

We know good eating habits may help prevent complications, prolong independence, and improve quality of life. The key is the essential preventive systems we have in place that include: Effective interdisciplinary communication systems to share important information; effective weight-tracking systems to identify significant changes; and efficient methods of tracking food and fluid intake. Lastly, nutrition screening tools for early identification and intervention help to prevent problems and tailor interventions for each individual.