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Attention Spring Arbor Veterans

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 05, 2010

Location - Williamsburg, VA: One of the Veterans Administration's best kept secrets is a non service connected pension to help pay for assisted living, home health care and even nursing home care. Most Veterans think VA pensions are only for service-connected disabilities. However, there is a service connected pension available to pay for disabling conditions such as Alzheimer's, Dementia, MS, Parkinson's and blindness. This can be a great benefit for Veterans, their spouses, widows, and widowers.

For Veterans 65 years of age or older: If you are housebound or in assisted living and over age 65, the VA presumes you to be in need of "Aid & Attendance". NOTE: you do not need to be helpless, only in need of the help of others.

For Veterans under the age of 65: You must be totally and permanently disabled if you are under age 65 to receive this pension. "Aid & Attendance" is a part of this pension that is very important. Simply put, if you need the aid & attendance of another person in order to live in a safe and healthy environment (for example you need someone else to help you bathe, dress, ambulate or prepare meals you could be entitled to this benefit.

The maximum benefit amounts for 2010 are: Veteran with spouse $2,047.00 per month, Veteran only $1,794.00 per month and a surviving spouse $1,100.00 per month TAX FREE. This is not a Medicaid program. Medicaid benefits are part of the welfare system with strict income and asset limits. VA non-service connected pensions are an entitlement because you served your country. They have been around since 1951. You do not have to be broke to qualify for this pension. There are limitations that can be very confusing. Your income must be less than the maximum allowable pension. Income can be reduced by recurring, non-reimbursable monthly medical expenses. This includes the cost of assisted living or home health care. Therefore income is not typically a problem for qualification.

A Veteran over age 65 with $1,500.00 per month of income and $2,500.00 per month cost of care would be entitled to a pension of $1,646.00 per month due to income being reduced to zero. This is only one example. Each client has a different set of circumstances requiring a different approach to qualification and the calculation of benefit amount. There is no established asset limit for benefit entitlement. Again the VA has various calculations that apply depending on individual circumstances. Note: the value of your home is not included as an asset.

To apply for this pension, it is advisable to seek the help of an experienced VA advisor. A VA advisor can provide pre-application consultations to determine the steps that must be taken in order to determine if you should apply for this benefit.


Engaging with Dementia Patients has Benefits

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Location - TN: Keeping a family member with dementia focused and engaged in activities can be a challenge, but he or she may light up if offered the opportunity to give advice or teach, according to a pair of studies reported in The Gerontologist.

In one study, researchers tried to engage individuals with early to advanced dementia at an adult day care center in a purely social way, asking them to talk about their marriage, children, and church activity. Later, the investigators approached them for guidance: "I'm thinking about having children. What kind of advice can you give me on that?" The researchers reported that the participants took their advice-giving role seriously and were more coherent, informative, and focused than when asked strictly for information about their personal life.

A second study examined the effects of offering people with dementia the opportunity to instruct. The elderly participants -- some with dementia and others who were cognitively intact -- received a booklet of pictures to help them teach someone how to prepare food from a recipe. Participants in both groups successfully taught their "students" how to prepare the food. The individuals with dementia needed some prompting to keep the process going, but they still accomplished the teaching task.

The researchers speculated that the advice-giving and teaching roles enabled the people with dementia to access knowledge gained when they were younger that was essential in their parenting or mentoring. The fact that other people needed the information empowered them to assume an established social role and probably motivated them to complete the tasks.

Finding ways to include a family member with dementia helps relatives remember the person who has difficulty participating but is still there. Plus it imparts a sense of belonging and competence that may improve his or her mood. People with dementia are often able to take part in various family-oriented pastimes. Reading aloud, for example, is a skill that can persist even in later stages of cognitive decline. With simple, large-print books, individuals may be able to read to grandchildren or other family members. As with leading or mentoring, reading to others gives the person a social role in the family.

These and similar activities help family members connect. They encourage communication and may help take the edge off what can be an exhausting and frustrating care giving situation.


Googling On The Internet Can Help Fight Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 30, 2010

UCLA medical researchers, when presenting to the Society for Neuroscience, reported that middle-aged and older adults with little Internet experience showed increased activity in key brain regions after surfing the Web for an hour a day for just two weeks. It's the simple experience of seeking new information and keeping your brain engaged that stimulated activity in multiple areas of the brain. Playing Sudoku or pursing new hobbies offer similar benefits. But those subjects studied by UCLA who choose the Internet for mental stimulation tended to stay engaged the longest.  According to Dr. Gary Small, the Internet offers immediate access to an unlimited range of social and intellectual resources that results in the Internet often enticing long-term sustained attention of the young and old alike.

According to the study, surfing the web may help older people ward off dementia and slow cognitive decline. It's not yet clear whether the brain improvements are temporary or not, but the important lesson is to keep the mind engaged and challenged however you do it. Becoming involved in new things and keeping your brain active are all hallmarks of activities that would tend to preserve your cognitive skills and these are all things that searching the Internet for new information really does.

So at Spring Arbor, we encourage our Residents and their families to get their cherished senior loved ones "net enable". Of course, regarding Residents and loved ones of diminished mental capacity, prudent supervision is absolutely critical. We all know the unscrupulous lurk out on the net, but the same tools that are used to monitor the youth's use of the Internet can be employed to protect our seniors.

The Internet can open doors to renewed acquaintances, genealogy, games, history, hobbies, and anything else you can imagine. With free online tools like "Skype", Grandma and Grandpa can have instant and free voice and video to their loved ones no matter where they reside on earth. The bottom line is the Internet offers the opportunity for our seniors to stay in touch and engaged. And no matter what the specific on line activity is, all researchers involved in this study agree that mentally stimulating activity (such as internet use) is beneficial to mental health.


Give Tai-Chi a shot if you have trouble sleeping

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

According to a study conducted by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, elderly people who practice tai chi sleep better than those who do not.

Researchers asked 112 healthy adults between the ages of 59 and 86 to fill out a questionnaire based on a Sleep Quality Index, which rates the duration and quality of sleep, over the course of one month. Participants were then assigned either to practice 20 simple tai chi moves, or to take part in health education classes to learn healthier sleep, diet and stress management habits. After 25 weeks, the participants took the sleep survey again:

People in the tai chi group showed significant improvement on measures of sleep quality, duration and disturbances in comparison with the control group.

Poor sleeping constitutes one of the most common difficulties facing older adults. Over 58% of people aged 59 or older have sleeping difficulty on at least a few nights per week. However, 85% of these cases, the problem goes untreated. Those who do receive treatment are usually given sedative drugs, which can have dangerous side effects.

Tai chi, in contrast, improves health in general. And unlike other forms of exercise with similar health benefits, tai chi is composed of gentle, flowing movements that are not difficult or dangerous for the elderly. It's a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits. It's also a great bonding exercise for younger adults to practice with their seniors.


Are Dementia And Alzheimer's the same

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 26, 2010

Dementia And Alzheimer's: Are They The Same?

There are two terrible afflictions that are increasingly affecting our society today, and constantly in the media: dementia and Alzheimer's. While these two conditions are an unfortunate occurrence, there is help out there. And doctors and researchers are working hard to try and find a cure. But we can all be thankful that there are places like Spring Arbor Living that care enough to help the elderly with these afflictions and do what they can for their families.

While both dementia and Alzheimer's are similar in nature they are not exactly the same. What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's? Well, dementia is a syndrome, a collection of possible symptoms a person has. For instance if you have 3 out of 9 symptoms, you could have Dementia. The variation of possible symptoms is huge and that is one reason why no person with dementia is alike.

The main difference between dementia and Alzheimer's is the fact that Alzheimer's is a disease. The disease targets your brain and will cause damage to the brain. The damage caused to the brain will be shown as memory loss, verbal speech problems, behavioral problems and other symptoms. These symptoms will over time qualify for a diagnosis of Dementia. At Spring Arbor we take this into special consideration. We know that each individual is different and we can adhere to those special needs.


Meditation Can Help The Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 23, 2010

Practicing meditation everyday can help elderly people by connecting with their spiritual self and deriving immense happiness in its purest form. Elderly people practicing meditation can experience pain relief as well. Our thoughts and emotions are reactions to pain. With experience, meditation can help you separate the feeling from the actual pain. When we become aware of the pain, and acknowledge it, we can control our reaction to it. Through meditation, we can change our perception, and cope effectively with pain. Since meditation also reduces stress, it relieves the tension in the muscles and decreases blood pressure. Meditation improves circulation of blood within the body, consequently alleviating body pain.

Meditation can help cure a variety of old age diseases such as cancer, chronic illness, heart disease, high blood pressure, emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ulcers and insomnia. It can reduce depression, anxiety, stress and pain. Meditation can significantly increase life expectancy. It helps to balance the physical, mental and spiritual states and is simple to perform. It has been proven to reduce the body's core temperature, which in turn can prolong life expectancy. Moreover, meditation can strengthen the immune system, and reduce harmful hormones and biochemical compounds present in the blood stream. This alternative therapy should therefore be practiced by elderly citizens, to bring happiness, relaxation and health in their life, without the burden of any side effects.


Potassium Is Important For Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 22, 2010

There are many important vitamins and minerals the elderly should eat such as vitamin D. One of the more important minerals is potassium. It is important then for the elderly to eat food rich in potassium and everyone who takes care of them should be knowledgeable about it.

An average-sized body may contain about 5 ounces of potassium. With the help of sodium and calcium, potassium helps keep your heart healthy as it maintains the normal heartbeat, aids in maintaining the normal balance of water in the body, and as a result, it helps conduct nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Kidneys are responsible in controlling the blood levels of the minerals and help the body get rid of excess urine.

Potassium deficiency is also easy to prevent because this mineral is present in almost all foods. Potassium rich foods include whole grains, lean meat, beans, green leafy vegetables and fruits such as bananas and oranges. Eating these foods will help the body gain the needed amount of potassium and help you stay active and healthy.


A Fun Pastime That Never Gets Old

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 16, 2010

Arts and crafts has been a favorite of many seniors, even in their younger days. And for the elderly that enjoy arts and crafts, the opportunity to learn a new hobby is often appealing. Others prefer to continue activities they enjoyed during their earlier years. Most arts and crafts activities can be modified or adapted so the elderly with physical limitations can still enjoy a favorite pastime. One of the most popular arts and crafts activities for the elderly are ceramic projects. Many ceramic activities only need light sanding and painting, resulting in a beautiful and rewarding finished piece. This type of project is a wonderful way for seniors to pass the time either at home or at senior centers while creating a lovely keepsake or gift for a loved one.

Depending on personal preferences and physical abilities, the following arts and crafts are favorites of many senior citizens.

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Photography
  • Scrap-booking
  • Making greeting cards
  • Sponge painting stationary
  • Woodworking projects such as building birdhouses or making clocks
  • Making foam magnets
  • Flower arranging

Walking Is A Good Exercise And Has Great Benefits For Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's best to start doing easy exercises without putting any undue strain on your body. Starting exercises with great intensity can put excessive pressure on your muscles and ligaments with a chance of strain. Among the simple exercises, walking is the best and most suitable for all categories of older people. You can start walking at a comfortable pace for a short distance. After few days, increase the length of your walk and your intensity to brisk walking. There are similar exercises also, which can help maintain your overall health. For the elderly, the benefits of exercise include lower incidence of depression, reduced chance of dying prematurely, increased alertness, improvements in blood pressure and other cardiovascular benefits, and reduced risk of diabetes. Seniors who exercise regularly typically remain independent for a longer period of time.

An ideal session should start with a warm up session of five minutes. Slow walking and stretching prove to be good warm-up exercises. Thereafter, exercise briskly for a good thirty minutes. Finish off with a cooling session of five to ten minutes. It is best to exercise on all days of the week. If possible and your health permitting, you could do strength training or resistance exercises twice each week. Strength training has been shown to keep the bones strong, besides of course, the muscles. However, not everyone can do these, for each individual is different. Make sure you speak to your physician before doing any new exercise.


Videogames: How They Have Helped My Father's Memory

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 08, 2010

I was reading an article the other day about videogame systems and how they help people with memory disorders. One game in particular, the "Brain Training" game, was developed at the Uchida Hospital in Kyoto.  The game system offers a host of number games, word puzzles and reading exercises. I dug further into it and found that the Uchida Hospital (who specializes in all forms of dementia research) made the gaming consoles available to patients. Within one year, patients realized on average a 42% increase in brain activity.

So video games aren't just for children.   I suggested to Dad that we give video games a try.  He balked at first, but has come to really appreciate video games.  Computer cross word puzzles have become his favorite.  He finds the computer screen easier to read than paper and he no longer has to wear our pencil erasers.  Best of all, he's now spending less time idly watching T.V. in lieu of meaningful mental exercise.  And that's good medicine for all of us.