Premier Senior Living...
Because it's how you live that Matters

Senior Assisted Living Blog



Alzheimer's Disease: How the Disease Progresses, Part I

Joseph Coupal - Friday, January 11, 2019

Alzheimer's stages—common behaviors as the disease progresses.

Spring Arbor, NC, VAAlzheimer's disease tends to develops slowly and gradually worsens over several years. Eventually, Alzheimer's disease affects most areas of your brain. Memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality, and movement can all be affected by the disease.

There are five stages associated with Alzheimer's disease: preclinical Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer's, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's, and severe dementia due to Alzheimer's. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function.

The five Alzheimer's stages can help you understand what might happen, but it's important to know that these stages are only rough generalizations. The disease is a continuous process. Your experience with Alzheimer's, its symptoms, and when they appear may vary.

Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease begins long before any symptoms become apparent. This stage is called preclinical Alzheimer's disease. You won't notice symptoms during this stage, nor will those around you.

This stage of Alzheimer's can last for years, possibly even decades. Although you won't notice any changes, new imaging technologies can now identify deposits of a protein called amyloid beta that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The ability to identify these early deposits may be especially important in the future as new treatments are developed for Alzheimer's disease.

Additional biomarkers—measures that can indicate an increased risk of disease—have been identified for Alzheimer's disease. These biomarkers can be used to support the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, typically, after symptoms are evident.

There are also genetic tests that can tell you if you have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, particularly early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As with newer imaging techniques, biomarkers and genetic tests will become more important as new treatments for Alzheimer's disease are developed.

Our next blog will be on Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

Self


How to Find the Best Senior Living Community for Your Loved One

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 07, 2019

Spring Arbor, NC, VATransitioning a loved one to a senior living community can be a difficult decision. With so many senior living choices and communities available, how do you select the best option for your loved one?

Finding the right assisted living community takes time and research. Below are some questions to ask when visiting a senior living community to help you make an informed decision:

What type of daily activities and events are planned?

Speak to the Activities Director to learn more about their approach to mental stimulation and social interaction, as both are important factors in sustaining positive mental health. Ask for a copy of the monthly calendar to see what types of activities are offered on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. In addition, ask about their community amenities and what makes this senior living community different from all the others.

How do you make residents and loved ones feel welcome?

Look closely at the community and people as you tour. Do the residents and team members look happy? Do they smile and say hello? It’s important to be observant and take the time to talk to residents and team members about their experience at the community.

Is your community up-to-date on annual inspections?

Check that the community has a valid license, history of state inspections and website information – including how often it’s updated. In the United States, individual care communities are licensed through the state’s department of health. The department of health can provide background information as well as any violations and/or complaints.

Are there financial benefits that my loved one is qualified for at your community?

If you have never considered long-term senior care before, seeing the price may instantly shock you. According to Forbes, the median annual cost of long-term senior living care was $45,000 in 2017. However, there are many financial benefits for which your loved one may qualify. For example, veterans are eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit and many seniors qualify for Medicare. It is important to research to see if you or a loved one qualifies for any financial resources.

We believe it’s how you live that matters, and in the end, it’s about the care, the teamwork of the staff, and the overall happiness of residents in senior living communities that matter. For more information, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive


Happy Holidays from Spring Arbor Living

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Happy Holidays from Spring Arbor Living

Our warmest Holiday wishes from the entire team here at Spring Arbor Living. Calendar year 2018 was, and continues to be, a truly remarkable year and we take this moment to recognize the joy that each and every one of you has brought to our personal and professional lives. We exist because of your faith and trust in us.

As calendar year 2019 approaches, we reflect upon the foundational recognition that "your success is our success". Our New Year’s wish for 2019 is to nurture our positive and ever strengthening partnership and to deliver ever increasing value to you, your business, and your family through the entirety of 2019.

Throughout this Holiday season may you be blessed with health and surrounded by friends and family. All the best! Cheers!

#HowYouLive


Tips to Help Seniors Beat the Holiday Blues

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 17, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NCWhile the holiday season is a festive time for many, it can cause depression for seniors who've lost loved ones or are having health or financial problems.

Below are some tips for seniors on how to avoid feeling blue during the holidays:

Get out and about.

Ask family and friends for help traveling to parties and events or invite family and friends to your home.

Volunteer.

Helping others can be a great mood lifter. Contact local schools, churches, synagogues and mosques to find out about volunteer opportunities. Don't drink too much alcohol, which can lower your spirits.

Accept and express your feelings.

There's nothing wrong with not feeling happy during the holidays -- many people feel the same way. Talking about your feelings can help you understand why you feel the way you do.

Recognize the signs of depression,

...which include: sadness that won't lift; loss of interest or pleasure; changes in appetite and weight; sleeping much more than normal; crying often; feeling restless or tired all the time; feeling worthless, helpless or guilty; slowed thinking; thoughts of death or suicide.

If you notice that an older loved one seems depressed, lend a hand by offering to help them with shopping, transportation and preparations for get-togethers in their homes, the society advises. Encourage your loved one to talk about how he or she is feeling and acknowledge their difficult feelings.

You should also encourage your loved one to talk to a health-care provider. Many older people don't realize when they're depressed. If you believe an older loved one is depressed, tell them depression is a medical illness that can be treated and managed.

For information on caring for aging parents or loved ones, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

ABC News


Celebrating Holidays with Seniors in Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Friday, December 14, 2018

How to celebrate holidays when seniors live in assisted living

Spring Arbor, NC, VAHolidays in assisted living can still be fun, festive, and meaningful even if it means embracing new traditions.

The holidays are about spending quality time with people you care about. Older adults in assisted living will feel loved and included when you find ways to bring the holiday spirit to them.

Remind yourself that what’s most important is celebrating together in a way that works for the current situation.

To help you find ways to celebrate, we answer 3 top questions:

  • Should you bring your older adult home for a family celebration?
  • What should you do when an older adult is no longer aware of holidays?
  • What festive activities work well in assisted living?

1. Should I bring mom home to celebrate with the rest of the family?

If your mom doesn’t have dementia and you can handle her physical needs and transportation, going to the family home could be a great way to celebrate the holidays.

Before deciding, talk with her to see how she feels about it.

She may be concerned about getting too tired or needing help with personal care. Reassure her by explaining how her needs can be met. If she’s feeling shy or afraid that she’ll be a burden during a fun time, remind her of how much the family is looking forward to seeing her.

If your mom does have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive impairments, it may be disorienting to take her out of a familiar environment. Staff members who know her well may be able to help you decide what would work best.

Some people with dementia enjoy festive events, but others are easily rattled by changes in routine, loud noise, or crowds. If your mom is likely to get agitated, it might be better to have a quiet mini-celebration in her room or just have a regular visit.

2. My Dad has dementia. This year, he doesn’t seem to know that it’s the holidays. Will he even know or care if I celebrate with him?

Even if your dad doesn’t seem engaged with the world, he’ll still enjoy spending time with you and family.

You may or may not want to take him out of assisted living, depending on how well he usually does with outings. If he typically enjoys going out, then it may be a good idea. If not, turn the visit into a festive occasion if that’s likely to bring him joy.

It’s a perfect time to reminisce over old photos, sing along or listen to holiday music, or admire cheerful decorations. Unless he becomes agitated or upset by the activities, noise, or change in routine, seeing you in the holiday spirit will likely brighten his day.

3. What activities can I do to celebrate the holidays with someone in assisted living?

If your older adult has dementia, a low-key approach to the holidays may work better. Overstimulating holiday activities or busy decorations could be confusing or cause agitation.

Start with a few simple decorations and smaller groups of visitors and see how things go. You can always add more or take some away depending on how they react.

For seniors without cognitive impairment, find creative ways to help them take part in family celebrations. Reassure your older adult that they won’t be forgotten or abandoned by telling them when you’ll celebrate with them.

Try these festive activity suggestions:

  • Decorate their room together – get a mini tree, use garland to make a tree-shaped outline on the wall and tape ornaments onto it, put a few decorative items around the room, or hang a wreath on the door
  • Help them think of and purchase gifts for kids or grandkids and wrap them together
  • Arrange a family visit and open presents together – it’s more fun when the whole group has presents to open
  • For family living far away, arrange video chats so they can have virtual visitors
  • Accompany them to a holiday event or meal hosted by the assisted living community
  • Sing along with or listen to holiday songs together
  • Watch a holiday-themed movie
  • Work on a holiday-themed puzzle or a fun coloring page

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

dailycaring.com


Holiday Celebrations with Seniors Must Begin with Planning

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 10, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NCFor families whose senior loved ones struggle with afflictions, holidays can be challenging times. But, with a little planning and support, the festivities can still be special. Setting realistic expectations is a key to eliminating stress.

It may be difficult to look forward to the holidays when a beloved family member is not himself. Your holidays will be doubly challenging, but they can still be special for your family if you try to limit what you do.

Communicate concerns. In advance of the holidays, be candid with family and friends about your loved one’s condition and your concerns, and enlist their support. Use this season of giving as an opportunity to discuss sharing family responsibilities and to strive for family togetherness.

Set realistic expectations. Consider both what the individual with dementia is capable of and what you, as a caregiver, can handle given your demanding role. Then, put celebrations into manageable proportions. This can help decrease stress and head off feelings of depression that stem from unrealistic expectations, both for you and your loved one.

Adapt family gatherings. Since crowds, noise and altering routines can aggravate confusion and other behavioral problems, revising your get-togethers may be in order. For example, instead of entertaining the whole clan, limit the number of attendees at a holiday dinner or spread out several smaller gatherings on different days.

Pare down traditions. With round-the-clock caregiving, it may not be feasible to juggle all of your religious and ethnic observances. You can still keep traditions alive; just reduce their number to avoid feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Ask your loved one which traditions to choose, since it will be another way to involve him.

Talk with the patient's physician and get an indication of how much they can do. Discuss with family members how much you think your loved one should try to do, based on the doctor’s recommendations. Remember that the patient may be feeling as if they are strong enough to do more, but that could be a dangerous risk. Let them know that what you’re doing is based on a doctor’s recommendations and in their best interests. Then stick to your plan. Even a short time together might be very special.

For more information on caring for an aging parent or loved one, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

caregiverstress.com


Tips for Downsizing to a Smaller Space

Joseph Coupal - Friday, December 07, 2018

Spring Arbor, NC, VA'With less things to care for, you have more time to enjoy life'

Downsizing a home can be bittersweet — sometimes it is being done by adult children or grandchildren. They often express they feel guilty about the process — however they don't like, want or need many of their relative's things.

So, what's a graceful way to undertake downsizing?

1. Take your time, if possible

It is going to be a much larger job than you anticipated so start early. It is a huge undertaking and can often take six months to a year to clear out a house.

The job of clearing out a house is often left to adult children if elderly parents become sick before they have had a chance to do it — a stressful chore.

2. Be ruthless

When deciding what items will be moving to your new location, be ruthless. Only take items that fit your current lifestyle.

Once the sold sign goes on, the clock is ticking to moving day. However, a caution on ruthlessness for adult children helping parents downsize, remember — it's not your stuff.

If possible make sure your parents are the primary decision-makers about what to keep (with a little prodding). It's really hard for elderly parents to make such a big change so every little decision seems very important.

3. Give up your role as 'keeper of the things'

You can no longer be the keeper of the items. Stop storing things for your children/parents/friends.

4. Take only what fits

If possible, know the dimensions of the space you are moving to. Are you going from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo? Perhaps your favourite pieces of furniture will be too big.

5. Donate, give away and sell

Give yourself lots of time, hire someone to help, get a dumpster, donate as much as you can to charity.

After you get past the realization that it's just material stuff ... it is so easy. Donation is key. What a great feeling to give to organizations that really need help.

Find someone in your life that will treasure and enjoy the item as much as you do. But don't attach expectations to the items, such as being prominently displayed in someone else's home.

You could also have a yard sale, sell some items online or hire an auction house.

6. Take photos

Take a photo of your favorite things that are going to new homes. Enjoy the memories associated with the item and appreciate the role it played in your life, then let it go.

7. Don't re-accumulate stuff

Keep only the things that you would use every day and the freedom that comes with downsizing is unbelievable. Life became very easy and very stress-free.

For more information on helping a loved one downsize to an assisted living home, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

CBC


Things to Do When Visiting Aging Parents During the Holidays

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 19, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NC, SCDuring the holidays, many of us will be visiting aging parents. It’s a perfect time to observe them in their “natural habitat” – you’ll see how they’re really doing . Plus, these tips help you focus on important details that will make a big difference in the long run.

1. Discreetly check on independent parents

When your parents are living independently, the holidays are a great time to discreetly check on them. If you do this every year and keep a few notes, you’ll be able to spot changes more easily in the future.

Try and evaluate any changes in their physical, mental, and emotional health.

2. Spend an afternoon on home safety updates

While you’re visiting, you might have an opportunity to make a few simple safety updates. These easy fixes don’t take much time and will help your parents avoid common accidents so they can stay independent longer. They don’t take a lot of time, but they’re very effective.

If their bath mats are slippery (a real hazard!), replace them with these stylish low-profile, non-slip mats

3. Have meaningful conversations about the future

When family gets together over the holidays, it’s a good opportunity for meaningful conversations. If you haven’t already started talking about aging and plans for the future, consider bringing up the subject at a strategic time. You might be surprised – many parents appreciate having these conversation and will be grateful that you brought it up.

Use these tips to prepare for a successful conversation and keep these conversation starters in your back pocket to make it easier to get the ball rolling.

Bottom line

This year, use some of your time at home to do 3 things: make sure your parents are doing well, make simple home safety updates, and start important conversations about the future.

For more information on care for aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

dailycaring.com


Reasons to Retire in Virginia

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 09, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NCThe Retirees deliberating a destination tend to consider only the most well-known retirement states, places like Florida and Arizona. But there are some retirement gems among the Mid-Atlantic states, too, including Virginia. Need convincing? Consider these reasons to retire in Virginia.

Virginia is tax-friendly for retirees

An important part of your retirement decision will be taxes. They can sneak up on you quickly, and it’s a good idea to be prepared if you’ll be living on a fixed income. Fortunately, Virginia has some of the lowest overall tax rates in the nation, which makes it very attractive to retirees.

In Virginia, all Social Security income is exempt from income tax, as is earned income that totals less than $12,000 per year. The average property tax rate is under 1%, and the maximum possible sales tax is 6%. Taxes on groceries come in at 2.5%. Meanwhile, prescription drugs, as well as most over-the-counter drugs, are tax-exempt. Taken all together, that makes Virginia a great place to retire as far as taxes are concerned.

Virginia has communities for every income level

The average cost of living in Virginia is 9.4% above the national average. That might sound scary at first, but some cities have higher costs than others. For instance, though it’s a popular retirement city, Williamsburg has a cost of living that is 31.6% above the national average. You’ll find lower costs nearby if you consider retiring in Virginia Beach or Norfolk.

If you’re interested in retiring in the Washington, D.C area, know that Northern Virginia, outside Washington, also tends to be expensive. That’s especially true in suburbs close to the nation’s capital such as Alexandria and Arlington. But you’ll find less expensive small cities farther from Washington, in areas around Richmond and Roanoke, and in the lovely Shenandoah Valley.

Crime rates are low in Virginia

When it comes to public safety, Virginia knows exactly what it’s doing. The Old Dominion has maintained one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S. for many years. In fact, Virginia has the third lowest violent crime rate in the nation, as well as the fifth lowest overall crime rate. In addition, only 8% of crime in Virginia is violent crime. That compares with 12% average nationally.

Virginia blends city and country lifestyles

In Virginia, you’re never far from the city buzz or country leisure; both experiences are an important part of living in the commonwealth. You can have a great time living in Richmond, an urban city with a population of 223,000, and decide to take a day trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a gorgeous portion of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia.

Virginia offers a wealth of history

Virginia was founded in 1607 and was one of the original 13 United States colonies. This beautiful state is an undeniable part of U.S. history. Historic landmarks include the Jamestowne colony, Revolutionary Yorktown, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and Civil War sites such as Appomattox Court House. History buffs and their visiting grandchildren won’t run out of places to visit and explore in Virginia.

Virginians enjoy countless festivals

Virginia has all kinds of festivals year-round, making it easy to experience something new and exciting every week. The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival runs in April, with widely loved events that draw hundreds of thousands of people. July marks the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, a nearly 100-year-old tradition that corresponds with a Fireman Carnival for some good old-fashioned fair fun. In September, head to Hampton for Bay Days, featuring fireworks, beer tasting, and a car show.

Medical care is easy to access in Virginia

Despite Virginia’s smaller size, the state boasts 89 hospitals, making it a great place for continuing medical care. You’ll find geriatrics and gerontology centers in Blacksburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. If you’re a military retiree, the Department of Veterans Affairs has medical centers in Hampton, Richmond, and Salem. Statewide in Virginia, there are 127 primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, a higher rate than the national average. Clearly, Virginia can be a great state for staying healthy as you age.

Are you ready to retire in Virginia? Contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

after55.com


When Early-Onset Alzheimer's Symptoms Begin Before Age 65

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 05, 2018

Spring Arbor - VA, NCEarly-onset Alzheimer's disease is a rare form of dementia that presents unique challenges. Learn more about causes, diagnosis and how to cope.

What is early-onset Alzheimer's?

Early-onset Alzheimer's is an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65. Of all the people who have Alzheimer's disease, about 5 percent develop symptoms before age 65. So if 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, at least 200,000 people have the early-onset form of the disease.

Most people with early-onset Alzheimer's develop symptoms of the disease in their 40s and 50s.

Causes

Some people with early-onset Alzheimer's have the most common form of the disease. Experts don't know why these people get the disease at a younger age than others do.

But others with early-onset Alzheimer's have a type of the disease called "familial Alzheimer's disease." They're likely to have a parent or grandparent who also developed Alzheimer's at a younger age.

Early-onset Alzheimer's that runs in families is linked to three genes—the APP, PSEN 1, and PSEN 2—that differ from the APOE gene that can increase your risk of Alzheimer's in general.

Together, these three genes account for less than 1 percent of all Alzheimer's disease cases but about 60 to 70 percent of early-onset Alzheimer's cases. If you have a genetic mutation in one of those three genes, you may develop Alzheimer's before age 65.

Genetic testing for these mutations is available, but anyone who's considering it should pursue genetic counseling—to examine the pros and cons beforehand.

For example, it may be helpful to consider how a positive test may affect your eligibility for long-term care, disability, and life insurance.

On the other hand, if you know you carry a form of the early-onset genes, you may be able to take steps to make it easier for you and your loved ones to cope with the effects of the disease.

If you have early-onset Alzheimer's linked to one of the three genes or carry a form of these genes without symptoms, talk to your doctor about participating in a research study. By studying the early-onset form of Alzheimer's, researchers hope to learn more about the causes and progression of the disease and develop new treatments.

Accurate diagnosis critical

An accurate diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's is crucial for medical reasons to rule out other potential issues and get the most appropriate treatment as well as for personal and professional reasons.

For you and your family, the diagnosis is fundamental in helping the family respond with appropriate understanding and compassion. It can also give you and your family more time to make important decisions about financial and legal issues.

At work, it can allow you to explain your condition to your employer and perhaps arrange a lighter workload or more convenient schedule.

How to cope with early-onset Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease has a tremendous impact at any age. But people with early-onset Alzheimer's disease may face some unique challenges.

They may face stigmas and stereotypes about the disease. Due to their young age, people may not believe they have the disease or question the diagnosis.

People with early-onset Alzheimer's may lose relationships or jobs instead as a consequence of this misunderstanding rather than being identified as medically ill or disabled.

They may also face a loss of income from being diagnosed while still working.

What to do at work

Before your condition significantly affects your ability to do your job, talk to your employer. What you can do:

  • Find out if you can switch to a position that better suits your emerging limitations.
  • Familiarize yourself and your spouse, partner, or caregiver with your benefits, and find out whether an employee assistance program is available.
  • Explore what benefits may be offered to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and COBRA.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, consider reducing your hours or taking time off.

Coping tips for couples

After a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's, spouses or partners often feel a sense of loneliness or loss as they face the possibility of spending many years without an active partner.

Losing the romantic component and changing to a caregiver status also complicates the relationship. Try to:

  • Talk about what kind of help you need from each other. Communicate about changes you're experiencing and ways in which your needs also may have changed. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Continue participating in as many activities with your partner that you currently enjoy and adapt as necessary. Or find new activities that you can enjoy together.
  • Keep a folder of resources you may need as the disease progresses.
  • Find a counselor who works with couples facing issues you feel challenged by, such as sexuality and changing roles in the relationship.

How to involve kids

A diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's can also be difficult for children, who may not understand. Children may blame themselves, become angry, or react in any number of ways. Try to:

  • Find activities you can enjoy together.
  • Stay engaged and talk with your children honestly about what you're experiencing.
  • Find a support group for children, and invite your kids to some of your counseling sessions. Make your child's school counselor and social worker aware of your condition.
  • Keep a written, video or audio record of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences for your children. They'll appreciate your sharing your wisdom and memories.

Financial issues

People with early-onset Alzheimer's often have to quit work, and this loss of income is a serious concern. Finances get even tighter if spouses or partners also quit their jobs to become full-time caregivers.

Some medical benefits and many social-support programs won't provide assistance unless the person with Alzheimer's is older than age 65. Younger people may need special waivers to get into such programs. What you can do:

  • Talk with a financial planner and an attorney to help you plan for your future financial needs.
  • Ask your employer whether early retirement is an option.
  • Explore what benefits may be available to you through Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
  • Organize your financial documents and make sure your spouse or partner understands and can manage your family's finances.

Resources for support

Key elements of Alzheimer's care are education and support. This is especially true given the unique challenges of early-onset Alzheimer's. Getting connected to services such as support groups can help you identify resources, gain a deeper understanding of the disability, and learn ways to adapt.

Remember, you're not alone. Many resources are available to assist you, your family, and caregivers to cope with this disease. Options for support may vary depending on where you live.

In the early stages of the disease, be sure that you and your spouse or partner do research and establish a plan for managing the progression of your condition. Knowing you have a plan and have identified support and resources will help everyone in the future.

For more information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor.

#HowYouLive

self.com