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What you Need to Know about Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 07, 2019
Spring Arbor Senior Living - Assisted Living in Richmond, VA

What do people want to know about assisted living facilities?

Residents of assisted living facilities and their families and those considering moving into one were asked the questions below. Here are their answers:

What is assisted living?

In general, it is a residential care facility that provides some services but is not licensed as a skilled nursing facility. But that covers a broad range of assistance and standards.

What services can I expect to get?

They may range from little more than group meals in a dining hall, housekeeping, and a pull cord in the bathroom to full-blown dementia care. Here are some questions you need to ask of the assisted living homes you are considering: Is there a nurse on duty 24/7? Is a doctor available? Know what the facility is really capable of providing. Just because a home says it provides dementia care doesn’t mean it knows how to do this well.

What will quality of life be like?

Can people eat when they want, and with the people they choose? Are there activities of interest? Do other residents seem active and engaged?

How much will it cost? Many assisted living facilities change by levels of service, or tiers. The more care you need, the higher the fee. Be sure you understand the details up front.

What is the most important thing to know?

It is all about the aides. Forget about the wood paneling and fresh flowers in the lobby. When you visit assisted living, watch the interaction between staff and residents. Do the aides know the residents by name? Do they seem rushed or do they spend time to chat with residents? What are staffing levels like, especially at night?

Choosing to move, or to move a loved one, into an assisted living facility is a big and emotional step. It is important to take the time and ask questions.

For more information on assisted living residences, contact Spring Arbor.

Excerpts - Caring for Our Parents

Top 4 Balance Exercises for Seniors

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 01, 2019

You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down the stairs. It also helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way.

Tai Chi

Balance is important to help you perform many of your daily activities and prevent falls. Research has shown that tai chi can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older people. In tai chi, which is sometimes called “moving meditation,” you work to improve your balance by moving your body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply. Other benefits from practicing tai chi include:

  • improvements in bone and heart health
  • easing of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis
  • better sleep
  • improvements in overall wellness

Balance Walk

Good balance helps you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way.

  1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Heel-to-Toe Walk

  1. Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down stairs.
  2. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  3. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  4. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps.

Stand on One Foot

WHAT YOU NEED: Sturdy chair

You can do this exercise while waiting for the bus or standing in line at the grocery. For an added challenge, you can modify the exercise to improve your balance.

  1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
  2. Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
  5. Repeat 10-15 more times with each leg.

As you progress in your exercise routine, try adding the following challenges to help your balance even more:

  • Start by holding on to a sturdy chair with both hands for support.
  • When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand.
  • With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all.
  • If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the balance exercises with your eyes closed

Watch this video to see how it’s done:

If you have any questions regarding the exercise programs at Spring Arbor, contact a senior living community near you.


Finding the Right Senior Living Community for Loved Ones with Dementia or Alzheimer's

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 07, 2019

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VACaring for loved ones as they age can become increasingly difficult as their needs grow. This is especially true for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Many people struggle when searching for the right senior living community for their parent or loved one. It’s more than just finding a community that is comfortable and safe. You want to ensure that your loved one receives personalized and compassionate care tailored to his or her specific needs.

Memory care communities need to meet the specific needs of individuals with various forms of dementia. A secure environment needs to be created with an inviting, open floor plan to give residents freedom to move and socially interact with one another in a comfortable, home-like setting. Outdoor spaces should be accessible and secure for outdoor walks or gardening. Staff should be carefully selected and trained to provide individualized care tailored to each resident. These team members truly brighten the days of residents and improve their lives.

Spring Arbor offers comfort and peace of mind by beginning with a family consultation to learn all we can about your loved one. Using this information, we create a Personalized Care Plan, which focuses on personal care, social activities, and life experiences. This approach allows our dedicated team to provide a customized daily schedule for your loved one, ensuring each day is a quality day that includes a balance of one-on-one and group activities that promote independence, dignity, and social interaction.

At HHHunt, we believe it’s how you live that matters and that philosophy applies to every season of life. Regardless of age and ability, we strive to provide meaningful experiences for all our residents. Our goal is to help each resident function at the highest level possible for as long as possible.

We invite you to learn more and schedule a tour to experience the difference for yourself. Contact us.


Gift Ideas for People with Dementia and Memory Loss

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 10, 2018

Spring Arbor - VAYou did not mention gifts, but here are a few suggestions of great gifts for people living with dementia that you can pass along to family and friends:

  • An Ipod filled with all her favorite music and a set of comfortable headphones
  • Framed enlargements of old family pictures
  • Scrapbooks of your Mom’s life, work and awards
  • Photo albums of fun family activities
  • Taped religious readings, sermons or poetry
  • Scented lotions with a promise of a back rub
  • A music box
  • A favorite dessert baked just for her
  • Promise to take her to visit her house of worship
  • A drive to see the holiday lights at night
  • New pillow, sheets or comforter
  • Soft lap blanket or throw
  • Large print books
  • Soft fuzzy nightwear or slippers
  • A leisurely stroll through a favorite place, mall, park, or some place of meaning from her past, if possible
  • A holiday decoration for her door
  • A Memory Box filled with mementos of interest to her
  • Large piece, fewer pieces, adult jigsaw puzzles
  • Easy-to-fasten clothing
  • Window garden for her to work on in the winter months
  • Video of family

And remember, Santa, during this season and throughout the year, the love and support you give your loved one throughout the year is the greatest gift.

For more information on aging parents, contact Spring Arbor.


Red Flags During Holiday Visits With Aging Parents

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 30, 2018
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

Of the estimated 34 million Americans who provide care to older family members, 15% live an hour or more away from their care recipient. This means that a significant number of caregivers rely on regular telephone conversations and check-ins by other closer-living relatives to gauge an aging loved one’s well-being.

Unfortunately, age-related decline can happen quickly, and in many cases, seniors are skilled at concealing new and worsening problems. For many of these families, holiday visits are the only opportunity for them to observe a senior in person, so it’s important to pay close attention to their physical and mental health and their living situation.

During this year’s holiday gatherings, be sure to look for the following warning signs that a loved one may need some extra help or assisted living.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. Possible causes could be cancer, dementia or depression. Seniors may also experience reduced energy, which can make it challenging to shop for and prepare a nutritious meal and clean up afterwards. Furthermore, all this effort can seem especially unnecessary if they live and eat alone. Certain medications and aging in general can also change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concerns and schedule a doctor’s appointment to address the issue.

Changes in Balance and Mobility

Pay close attention to the way your loved one moves and how they walk. A reluctance to walk, changes in gait or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint, muscle or neurological problems. If your loved one is unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, which can cause severe injury or worse. If you notice changes in their mobility and coordination, make an appointment with their doctor to discuss options to keep them safe and mobile, such as pain management, physical therapy and mobility aids.

Emotional Well-Being

Keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s moods and behavior. You can’t always gauge someone’s emotional state over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Look for signs of depression and anxiety, including withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, and changes in basic home maintenance and personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator of dementia or other physical ailments like dehydration, which often happens to elders in the winter months and can be serious. If you notice sudden odd behavior in your loved one, such as confusion or agitation, be sure to seek medical attention. These are common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is prevalent in seniors and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to a senior’s surroundings. For instance, if your loved one has always been a stickler for neatness and paying bills promptly, but you discover excess clutter and piles of unopened mail while visiting, it indicates a problem. Take a walk-through of their home while you’re visiting to see if they are keeping their house to the usual standards. Be aware that sometimes the signs of trouble are a bit subtler. Scorched cookware could indicate that your loved one forgets food on the stove or in the oven, and an overflowing hamper could mean they don’t have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. Check the expiration dates on their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications and try to determine if they’re taking their medications as prescribed. You know your loved one and their habits best, so go with your gut if something seems off.

Next week, tune in for our blog on How to Handle Signs of Decline.

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


Aging Parents: What to Look for During the Holidays

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 19, 2018
Spring Arbor Living - Assisted Living

When families live far away from one another, the holidays may be the only opportunity that long-distance caregivers and family members have to personally observe older relatives. Age-related decline can happen quickly. Family members who haven't seen their aging loved one since last year may be shocked at what they see: a formerly healthy father looking frail, or a mom whose home was once well-kept now in disarray.

Changes That Indicate the Need to Take Action

For those who have relied on regular telephone conversations and assessment by other closer-living relatives to gauge aging parents' well-being, the upcoming holiday visit may be revealing. Absence – even for a short period – often allows us to observe a situation through new eyes.

Weight Loss

One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. The cause could be as serious as cancer, dementia, heart failure or depression. Or it could be related to a lack of energy to cook for a loved one or just themselves, the waning ability to read the fine print on food labels or difficulty cleaning utensils and cookware. Certain medications and aging in general can change the way food tastes. If weight loss is evident, talk to your loved one about your concern and schedule a doctor's visit to address the issue.


Pay close attention to the way your parent moves, and in particular how they walk. A reluctance to walk or obvious pain during movement can be a sign of joint or muscle problems or more serious afflictions. And if unsteady on their feet, they may be at risk of falling, a serious problem that can cause severe injury or worse.

Emotional Well-Being

Beware of obvious and subtle changes in your loved ones' emotional well-being. You can't always gauge someone's spirits over the telephone, even if you speak daily. Take note for signs of depression, including withdrawal from activities with others, sleep patterns, lost of interest in hobbies, lack of basic home maintenance or personal hygiene. The latter can be an indicator not only of depression, but also of dementia or other physical ailments including dehydration, a serious condition sometimes overlooked in elders in the winter months. If you notice sudden odd behavior with your loved one, be sure to seek medical attention as it could be a urinary tract infection which is prevalent in elders and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Home Environment

Attention must also be paid to surroundings. For instance, your parent may have always been a stickler for neatness or for paying bills promptly. If you discover excess or unsafe clutter and mail that has piled up, a problem may exist. Also, keep an eye out for less obvious indications for concern. Scorched cookware, for example, could be a sign that your parent forgets if the stove is on. An overflowing hamper could mean he or she doesn't have the strength and/or desire to do laundry. And by all means, check prescriptions and medication bottles for expiration dates; and make note of all prescriptions your family member takes and place that information in your personal files as well as the elder's wallet in case of an emergency.

For information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.


Alzheimer's Disease: 10 Things to Know

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAThe Alzheimer's Foundation of America has compiled a list of  "10 Things You Should Know About Alzheimer's Disease" and how to recognize it early.

1. "Old age" is not an excuse.

While some memory loss, cognitive decline and behavioral changes are normal as we age, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging.

2. Look for patterns.

Everyone forgets someone's name or what we ate for breakfast. But consistent forgetting raises a red flag. It's easy for anyone to forget to pay a bill once. There is a problem if the same statement gets paid five times or if months go by without paying bills.

3. Symptoms can mimic other conditions.

Identifying the disease or problem that is causing memory loss helps with next steps. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies, depression or thyroid conditions. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer's disease. With Alzheimer's disease, symptoms gradually increase and become more persistent.

4. Not every case is the same.

There are general warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, but not everyone exhibits the same ones or at the same time in the progression of the illness.

5. Alzheimer's impacts day-to-day living.

Alzheimer's disease also affects a person's ability to function day-to-day. It can cause difficulty performing familiar tasks like dressing or bathing; misplacing items more frequently; becoming lost; and loss of interest in important responsibilities. The concern is not so much if someone forgets where the car keys are, but if the person does not know what the keys are used for.

6. Alzheimer's disease has cognitive symptoms.

Common cognitive symptoms include: short-term memory loss, problems with verbal communication, confusion about time or place or people, trouble concentrating, lack of judgment, difficulty performing familiar tasks, misplacing items, as well as the symptoms listed above.

7. Alzheimer's disease has behavioral symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms include personality changes, unexplainable mood swings, sundowning -- increased agitation in the late afternoon/early evening, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, anger, expressing false beliefs, depression and inappropriate sexual behavior.

8. Check out warning signs.

According to a study of participants who obtained free, confidential memory screenings 74% were worried about their memory, but 83% of them had not discussed concerns with their health care provider. Start with your primary care physician. Depending on findings, the physician may recommend follow-up with a specialist.

9. Diagnosis is 90% accurate.

Clinicians can now diagnose Alzheimer's disease with up to 90% accuracy. Diagnosing "probable" Alzheimer's disease involves taking a complete medical history and conducting lab tests, a physical exam, neuro-psychological tests that gauge memory, attention, language skills and problem-solving abilities, and brain scans.

10. Don't just take the diagnosis and run.

Good communication can maximize your visit to a physician. Ask questions.

Next steps should include getting better-educated about the disease, obtaining support services and planning for the future. For more information on Alzheimer’s care in Richmond, contact Spring Arbor.


Programs Enhance the Lives of Residents in Senior Living Communities

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 06, 2018

Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA Enhancing the lives of residents in our senior living communities is very important. At Spring Arbor, our signature programs bring unparalleled quality and dignity to the lives of our residents while simultaneously inspiring confidence, trust and peace of mind for loved ones. We are proud of our assisted living and memory care programs, as they have shown measurable success in enriching the lives of our residents. Below are the most popular programs that we offer!

Art from the Heart

Through the creativity that is represented by colors and patterns, residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia can speak to their loved ones, proving that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. The Art from the Heart program provides needed exercise for the brain and can help maintain and strengthen existing cognitive function. It’s also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and to encourage socialization and creativity.

Hearts and Harmony

Hearts and Harmony is our signature music program that includes both individualized and group approaches to the benefits of music. Studies show that music is one of the only activities that stimulates and uses the entire brain. The Hearts and Harmony program helps to promote wellness, stress and pain management, memory enhancement and provides unique opportunities for communication and social interaction. Residents of our Spring Arbor communities can enjoy customized playlists when they wish to enjoy music on their own or they can engage with the use of hand drums, bells and more in group sessions. Listening to musical favorites helps residents recall fond memories and assists them in reconnecting with family and caregivers.

Gardening Therapy

Research shows that access to the outdoors and physical activity are extremely beneficial for adults suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Gardening is a wonderful exercise for the mind and body, lowers blood pressure levels and stress, builds confidence, and more. Our Cottage Care Coordinators create programs centered on nature through gardening and other stimulating sensory opportunities in our welcoming and secure courtyard areas.

Regardless of age or ability, we strive to provide meaningful experiences and beneficial programs for all our residents. Our goal is to help each resident function at the highest level possible. Learn more about Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA and schedule a tour today!


Memory Care Can Provide Much Needed Relief for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VAAlzheimer’s care facilities for people with Alzheimer's disease can give spouses and other family caregivers a much needed source of stress relief.

Such care facilities offer people with dementia a chance to socialize and take part in activities that stimulate their minds. The programs can also give spouses, children and other caregivers a break.

Intuitively, that should ease some of caregivers' daily stress.

A study measured stress levels of 173 family caregivers in four U.S. states who used Alzheimer’s care facilities for their relative with dementia.

They found caregivers were less stressed. And when stressors did crop up -- such as problems at work -- they took less of an emotional toll.

This reinforces the fact that caregivers can't do this all on their own. People need relief.

Home health aides are also an option during the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but finances are still an obstacle. Home-based help is even more expensive. Caregivers may also be able to find local groups that send a volunteer to their home to give them a needed break -- though that typically amounts to a few hours of help a week, or every other week.

Caregivers can find help through a caregiver support groups designed specifically for spouses. A good support group is helpful not only because the other group members know what you're going through, but because they can also share practical advice.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and experts predict that the number of Americans with Alzheimer's could triple by 2050, to nearly 14 million.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care for your loved one, contact Spring Arbor in Richmond, VA.



Tips for Caregivers to Those with Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 16, 2018

Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA Alzheimer’s disease creates difficult transitions for patients and their families. Being a caregiver is hard work that requires a lot of knowledge and skills. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, here are some tips to help you out:

1. You Can’t be in Denial: It's only natural to be in denial when a loved one begins to show signs of dementia, but that only prevents the person from getting a diagnosis, starting treatment and planning for the future.

2. Don't Ask, "Do You Remember?" They can't remember. If they could remember, they wouldn't be diagnosed with dementia. Asking if they remember some person or event could make them frustrated.

3. Interact With the Person at Their Level: You may want to interact with the person the way you always have, but that isn't going to be possible. Instead, figure out at what age they appear to be behaving, then connect with them at that level.

4. To Connect With Alzheimer's Patients with Meaningful Objects: This is a valuable tip. You may have to experiment some to find out what is meaningful to any specific person.

5. Connect by Introducing Children, Pets, Music or Art: These four activities will often reach people in the late stages of the illness -- even if they hardly talk anymore.

6. Don't Argue, Correct or Disagree: You can't win an argument with a person who has dementia. Neither should you contradict them. It will make them dig in their heels even more strongly.

7. Don't Bring up Upsetting Topics: If you know your loved one will get upset if you talk about politics, don't start the conversation in the first place. It will probably lead to a battle you don't want to have.

8. Change the Subject If the Patient Get Upset: If the person does get upset one of the best things you can do is redirect their attention to something else, preferable something pleasant.

9. Don't Quit Visiting: Just because your loved one does not recognize you doesn't mean they have no feelings. People with Alzheimer's may enjoy being visited even if they don't know precisely who the visitor is.

10. Take Care of Yourself: Being an Alzheimer's caregiver is hard work. Take good care of yourself for your benefit and for the good of the person for whom you're caring. You can't be an effective, compassionate caregiver if you're exhausted and burned out all the time.

These 10 tips can help you improve the care you provide to your loved one as well as improve your own health and well-being. For more information on Alzheimer’s care in Richmond, VA, contact Spring Arbor.


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