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Senior Assisted Living Blog

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.

What is Assisted Living?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a senior living facility that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed.  Assisted living is specifically designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as preparing/eating meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation.  Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges.  Spring Arbor Living and The Oaks  residents needs are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in their condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan or to place them in the proper residents plan.