Assisted Living Today’s Week in Review

The holiday season is beginning to wrap up with the New Year just days away. Be sure to tune up your voices for a resounding chorus of Auld Lang Syne and chill the champagne as we let go of 2011 and ring in the New Year!

Here at Assisted Living Today we want to wish you and your families a happy and healthy 2012. As you get ready to count down, check out some of the best from around the web from this last week of 2011.

Senior Health

A preview of a new study which be released in January in Neurology which will examine the relationship between “silent” strokes and dementia. These strokes, which can be seen on brain imaging scans, may help predict memory loss in old age. To read more about this study check out MedPage Today.

Are you prepared for a healthy 2012? FastMed Urgent Care took a look at the top 10 tips and tricks for a healthier 2012.  Tips include getting enough sleep, controlling stress and exercise. To see what you need to do for a healthier you, check out the rest of the FastMed’s  tips.

Senior Technology

Senior Housing News put together the top 5 trends in senior care technology. The list includes some of the best of 2011 and some to look forward to in 2012. Are you prepared for the changes in health technology? How will these changes make healthcare more efficient for the elderly?

Inspirational Seniors

At 98 year old, Jim Henry published his first book. But what makes this feat even more impressive is that Jim couldn’t read until he was in his mid-90s. Much like other children of his era, Jim was pulled out of school to help support his family and never learned to read. Check out Jim’s inspirational story published in USAToday.

More and more boomers are heading back to college. According to a new report from US News and World Report the people over the age of 50 account for 12% of students heading to community college. Have you considered going back to school to fulfill your dreams?

Senior Lifestyles

The number of boomers being cited for impaired driving is going up in North Carolina, drawing attention to the increasing alcohol and drug usage of the aging population. The state is working on a proactive campaign to raise awareness of the impact of drug and alcohol abuse among the elderly.  To learn more, check out the story from the News Observer.

The need for senior housing is always an issue, but for some finding housing that accepts their lifestyle makes finding the right community even more difficult. Advocates say that more gay-friendly senior housing  and cultural training is needed.

 
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Senior Site Spotlight: The Other Side of 50 (TOS50.com)

This week’s senior spotlight is on “The Other Side of 50,” which is a great online community and online forum for seniors for anyone on the “other side of 50.” TOS50.com offers baby boomers and others over 50 some fantastic resources as well, which include:

  • A Financial Fitness Section with article on senior financial planning, with a handy retirement calculator
  • A Health and Wellness section with videos and articles on senior medical issues and wellness issues for baby boomers and the elderly

Other section of the website focus on offering advice and insights into family dynamics, family counseling, green issues, information for boomers and seniors traveling abroad, senior arts, volunteer work and more.

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The One Key Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptom You May Be Ignoring

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection type, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Caused by bacteria in the urethra, UTIs occur more often in women due to the close proximity of the urethra to the anus, where bacteria proliferates. More than 50% of all women will suffer from at least one UTI in her lifetime.

Classic Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections

Symptoms of a UTI are fairly clear-cut for younger women. A burning sensation while urinating is usually the first hint of a urinary tract infection. Cloudy urine or urine containing traces of blood, the constant feeling of needing to empty the bladder, and cramping in the lower abdomen are sure signs of a UTI. In men, these symptoms are often joined by a feeling of fullness in the rectum. Thankfully, treatment of urinary tract infections is simple and effective: a round of antibiotics usually alleviates uncomfortable symptoms within a day or two and cures the infection by the end of the treatment.

Urinary Tract Infection in the Elderly: Key Symptoms are No Symptoms

Unfortunately, symptoms of UTI in the elderly are not as cut and dry as for younger people. In fact, a urinary tract infection in elderly men and women often does not produce any of the symptoms a younger person might experience, and therefore can be tricky to diagnose. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to kidney damage and even sepsis – a life-threatening infection of the blood. Additionally, elderly men and women often have conditions that increase their risk factor for developing UTIs. Those who require a urethra or bladder catheter are at considerably higher risk. Diabetics, those who are largely immobile, and those who have had kidney stones are also prime candidates for urinary tract infections.

The best indication of a UTI in the elderly is a sudden change in behavior. This might include a sudden loss of energy or appetite, a sudden onset of confusion, or the inability to do simple tasks such as getting dressed or making breakfast whereas these things were no problem the day before. A urinary tract infection should be ruled out before other problems are considered.

Another common sign of urinary tract infection in the elderly is sudden urinary incontinence, the inability to hold one’s urine. Any of these signs of UTI should be addressed by a physician; likewise, any of these signs accompanied by a fever could signal sepsis and should be considered an emergency.

Diagnosing and Preventing UTI

Diagnosis of a UTI is a simple matter; a urinalysis will identify the presence of infection in a matter of minutes. In addition to antibiotics, the physician will order the patient to drink plenty of fluids, including cranberry juice, to help flush the bacteria from the body. Cranberry juice makes urine less appealing to bacteria and can be used as a preventative measure – either consumed in drinkable form or as tablets.

Other preventative measures for urinary tract infections in the elderly are simple lifestyle habits that contribute to overall health. Older adults should drink at least 64 ounces of water every day and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. Urinating as soon as the urge arises helps avoid the harboring of bacteria in the urethra. Urinating after intercourse is also extremely important in stemming bacterial growth. If possible, the elderly should take showers instead of baths, and women should avoid using products such as powders and douches in the genital area. Women should always wipe from front to back to keep bacteria from entering the urinary tract.

Vigilance is Crucial

Knowing that a urinary tract infection in the elderly can be symptom-free is the first step in avoiding serious complications from untreated UTIs. Any time a change in behavior is noted in an elderly patient, a urinalysis should be performed to rule out a urinary tract infection.

Assisted Living Today’s Week in Review

The Holiday Season is in full swing.  This week marked the beginning of the Hanukkah celebration with the first three candles having been lit and the fourth to be lit on Friday night.  Christmas is just a few days away and last minute shoppers are still searching for that perfect gift.  Regardless of your faith or your reason for celebrating, the holiday season is about making new memories with those that are closest to you.

So, we at Assisted Living Today would like to extend a very sincere “Happy Holidays.” May your season and your hearts be filled with love and warmth.

While you’re waiting on visits with friends and family over the next few days check out our weekly review of some of the best and most interesting tidbits from around the web!

Health News:

The CDC recently released a list of the four types of meds that send senior citizens to the hospital emergency department most often. They include two types of blood medications and two types of diabetes meds. Check out the Alzheimer’s Reading Room examination of the report to see if you’re at risk and now how to prevent a trip to the ER.

In other health related news, Congress passed its 2012 budget which included a $300 million increase in research funding for the National Institute of Health. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network also noted that funding for cancer protection at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was also protected.

Weird but True:

A security company is promoting its Hidden Camera for use in nursing home to record activity of staff to better ensure their loved ones are safe.  The cameras can be disguised as various household objects like picture frames and alarm clocks and recording devices can be made to look like watches or necklaces. This may be a good idea to some, but does it compromise privacy for others?

Holiday Tips and Tricks:
Are you wondering how you’ll connect with the younger generation this holiday season. Redding.com offers great Tips to Engage Grandchildren. Break through the cell phone barriers and make this a holiday to remember.

While visiting with your loved ones over the holidays, be sure to take a moment and examine how they are doing living independently.  SeniorHomes puts together a great list of tips to help you recognize if your loved one may need a little more assistance.

Tech Savvy Seniors
New reports show the Baby Boomer women are buying tablets at a rate than the general population. In fact, they are more than five times more likely to already own or want a tablet computer like an iPad. Find out why at Baby Boomer Examiner. Looking for info on senior-friendly tablets? See our recommendations for the best tablet for seniors.

Games like Wii and Xbox Kinnect aren’t just for kids. Studies are continuing to show that seniors benefit from the low impact “exergames.” In one study it found the games improved mobility, dexterity, coordination and provided a distraction from pain in nursing home residents.  Check out CNN Health’s report for additional information.

Senior Living

Despite the fact that the divorce rate across the country is beginning to decline, the rate of divorce among people over the age of 50 is doubling. The phenomenon has even gotten a name of its own: Grey Divorce. Check the Huffington Post’s take on this new “rite of passage.”

Forty-six years ago you would find Ray Nauruth tending bar at the The Gold Slipper in Dunlap, Iowa. Today, at 100 years of age, you’ll still find him there.  Check out Ray’s story and secrets to a long and successful life on Today.com.

 

 

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The Most Effective Sundowner’s Syndrome Treatment Strategy

Sundowner’s syndrome can be worrisome and perplexing to the family of an elderly person. Symptoms generally grow worse as evening approaches, or may not even be present until the sun goes down. Knowing how to deal with symptoms such as restlessness and agitation are challenging because the patient typically cannot be reasoned with. It is important to know how to deal with sundowners so that the elder and the people around him or her do not suffer injury.

People who suffer from various forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may develop sundowner’s syndrome. Experts are unsure of what causes sundowners syndrome, but some speculate that it could be caused by an accumulation of all the stimulation from the day causing the person to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Others think that it may caused by an imbalance of hormones at night. Still others think that it is caused by darkness and not seeing well, or simply fatigue. Even seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been thought to contribute to its cause.

Combinations of symptoms that can be seen are: anger, agitation, fear, rapid mood changes, restlessness, rocking, crying, pacing, stubbornness, and depression. More severe symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations, wandering, hiding things, and violence. These symptoms can pose safety concerns and treatment may need to be adjusted for safety. Other times they will follow someone around and copy their actions. A loss of language abilities and the ability to process abstract thoughts may also be seen.

Sundowner’s syndrome treatment varies by the symptoms exhibited and their triggers. One treatment is to regulate the sleep cycle. Some things that can be tried at home are discouraging naps during the day and opening curtains to allow bright light exposure in the morning, as well as throughout the day. To help with excess energy, encourage exercise during the day, limit caffeine intake, and allow for relaxation in a quite environment at nighttime. Triggers can include pain, hunger, thirst, and noise. About an hour before the symptoms usually begin, ask if they are in pain and are in need of pain medicine, or if they are hungry or thirsty. Turning off noise, like the television, can help.

Other home treatments that have been helpful are aromatherapy and light therapy. Having your loved one sit next to a light box for a specified amount of time in the morning has also been shown to work, especially if the patient suffers from depression.

Some people have had success with medicine to treat the symptoms. These can include antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac. Mood stabilizers like valproic acid or lithium as well as benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan have been successful. Medications like Aricept, Razadyne, and Exelon help to improve cognitive function and improve memory. Agitation can be treated with Haldol.

Sometimes people become too difficult to deal with at home. For safety reasons and to ease stress on the family, elder care help is needed. Assisted living facilities have trained staff to deal with dementia symptoms, but your loved one needs to have mild symptoms and be able be alone and independent. Nursing facilities also have staff trained and are able to handle the difficult symptoms such as hallucinations and agitation. Many even have special units that keep the elder safe if they happen to wander or become violent. The decor and planned activities are designed specifically for the dementia patient.

It is stressful managing a loved one with Sundowner’s syndrome. Try these tips and hopefully improvement in the symptoms will be seen. Improving the quality of life for someone with dementia takes listening, caring, and patience.

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Spotlight On: Twin Towers Senior Living Community

Twin Towers Retirement Community has a world record holder among them.  Russ Witte took home five gold medals this year, three of which earned him a place in the history books.  And he did while competing in the 95 to 99 year old age group.

Residents like Russ are not unusual at Twin Towers where they strive to create a culture of whole-person wellness by incorporating realistic optimism, inner direction, self-responsibility and well informed choices in everything they do.  According to Director of Marketing Katharina Schulten, the community is focused on providing a “place to experience challenge and growth, as well as comfort, security and privacy.”

Twin Towers senior living

This continuing care community is located on a 120-acre campus overlooking the Mt. Airy Forest near Cincinnati Ohio; offering private homes, apartment living, adult day services and nursing care services.  It’s currently undergoing a $20 million renovation of its skilled nursing facility, which when complete will provide care for residents needing long-term care, 24-7 memory care and post-acute short term rehabilitation.

Amenities are abundant at Twin Towers senior living community. Residents, like Russ, can take advantage of the indoor aquatic facility, enjoying a leisurely swim or participating in a water aerobics class.  The Gulden Center hosts performing arts and is a state of the art conference center. The adventure seekers can take advantage of the beautifully landscaped gardens and walking paths while others can gaze at works of art in the historic Wilson Art Gallery.

Residents can also take advantage of the on-site salon, arts and crafts studio, woodworking shop, billiards and game rooms or show off their green thumbs in the Twin Towers greenhouse.

The community provides a continuum of care offering its residents the opportunity to age in familiar surroundings even as their care needs progress. Many residents begin their journey at Twin Towers independently and are able to take advantage of the higher levels of care as needed.  The assisted living at Twin Towers offers access to care around the clock and personalized care programs designed to maximized independence.

Assisted living residents can choose from a several different apartment styles including a spacious two-bedroom apartment.  Assistance by qualified and dedicated staff is available to help with meals, activities of daily living like bathing, grooming and dressing, housekeeping and laundry.

In addition, Twin Towers has a dedicated neighborhood for residents suffering with Alzheimer’s or other related dementias where specific supportive services are available.  The common areas are used for group activities and is home to (m) Powered Cognitive Fitness System, a computer based program designed to maintain brain health.

But, it’s not just about the features that Twin Towers provides, it’s about the experience and the care received. It’s about find a home away from home “Residents tell me that the people here at Twin Towers – their neighbors, families, and even the associates – are like a second family.  The relationships keep them connected,” Schulten said.

And for those like Russ Witte, it’s about living like a champion!

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Spotlight On: The Remington Club

It has long been known that most people do not want to leave their homes, assuming they will be giving up their privacy and dignity by moving into an senior living setting.  But, at The Remington Club in Rancho Bernardo, this is not the case. “Many of our resident’s say that it’s very welcoming. They wished they would have made the decision to come to The Remington Club sooner rather than later,”  says Susan Ward, Director of Sales and Marketing. This is perhaps the best compliment a retirement community can receive.

So, what makes The Remington Club so unique?

The goal of a continuing care retirement community is to provide a continuum of care that allows a person to transition from Independent Living to skilled nursing care as their care demands dictate.  Many require a lump sum deposit that is often equivalent to a several years of hard work. But, the Remington Club, located in San Diego, California makes choosing a new home a little easier.

This luxury retirement community offers its residents the opportunity for month-to-month rentals instead of requiring that initial buy-in, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.  The monthly rent is based upon an individualized a la carte menu of care needs.

And those care needs? Well, they’re met with professionalism, compassion and love.  According to Susan Ward, director of sales and marketing at The Remington Club, the longevity of the staff is one of the greatest assets the facility offers.  The residents come to rely on their caregivers, trusting them with their most basic of needs. They help the residents maintain their independence, dignity and privacy, while making themselves available to assist when needed.  It is the staff that makes the experience unique and Ward says she’s hears the residents often commenting on how much they “love” one caregiver or another.

In addition to making sure care needs are met, The Remington Club works to make certain the mind and body stay active. They host the Continuing Education Center which provides keynote speakers and education opportunities for the residents and the community.   The lectures are unique and provoke deep thought and intellectual conversations.  Some recent topics include:  Edgar Degas—the Artist, The World of Cervantes, Voyages of Captain Hook and Prescription Drug: Lab to Pharmacy.

If philosophical teachings aren’t exactly your cup of tea, the facility offers activities to suit everyone.  Residents are given personalized fitness programs designed to help them maintain their level of function for as long as possible.

The facilities pristine location also provides for plenty of activity.  They are located across the street from a shopping center with 77 store fronts, providing ample opportunity for window shopping, browsing or retail therapy.  And within three miles, 72 holes of golf await the avid golfer.

Overall, however, the beautiful campus provides its residents the opportunity to age in place.  With the continuum of care extending to a 59-bed skilled nursing facility offering post-acute rehab and long-term care, residents are comforted in knowing they will be near their friends even when their needs escalate.

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Sundowner’s Syndrome: Information for Senior Citizen Care

One of the significant health challenges in senior citizen care is related to the steady decline of cognitive processes and function. This is especially magnified in those suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. A particularly difficult ailment associated with this is Sundowner’s syndrome. Sundowner’s syndrome, also known as ‘sundowning,’ is a characterized by symptoms of confusion and agitation after sunset. Seen commonly in the early stages of dementia, it is categorized as a mood disorder – or sometimes as a sleep disorder – as it’s believed to be due to abnormalities in the circadian rhythm (the biological clock).

Sundowner’s Syndrome Symptoms and Causes

People who suffer from Sundowner’s syndrome experience extreme confusion and agitation during the late afternoon and early evening hours. These symptoms can last all night and can lead to extreme irritability and anxiety. The person becomes easily upset, disoriented, angry and depressed and can be abnormally demanding or paranoid. Wandering and hallucinations are some of the severe symptoms that are particularly difficult to manage. Not all dementia patients exhibit these symptoms; however, those who do generally get worse as the sun goes down.

The exact cause of Sundowner’s syndrome remains a medical mystery. It was originally believed to be a malfunction in the internal biological clock since the symptoms seem to subside within an hour of the return of daylight. However, current research suggests that the syndrome could possibly be caused by drug interactions or stress levels that are linked to decreased cognitive functioning. It is theorized that the stress caused by the accumulation of sensory stimulation during the day can overload the already restricted cognitive abilities of the elderly. Fatigue and hormonal imbalances are also thought to contribute to the symptoms. Decreased energy and failing eyesight might also result in anxiety during the evening hours.

Sundowner’s Syndrome Prevention, Treatment, and Management

Sundowner’s syndrome prevention and treatment consists mainly of setting up a regimen aimed at making the person feel safe and comfortable which can reduce agitation and anxiety. In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants, sedatives, or other sleeping aids.

Caregivers should try and determine what triggers the person’s symptoms by paying attention to patterns in behavior. This will help isolate and avoid the activities, situations, and even foods that appear to be causing these symptoms. It is best to limit stimulating and unfamiliar activities to the morning hours and encourage regular napping to preserve energy. Try to serve dinner earlier and stick to a regular, familiar evening routine.

Addressing environmental issues is critical in managing Sundowner’s syndrome. Provide the person with an area of privacy away from visitors and distractions. Encourage the person to relax using music, massage, or other quiet nighttime activity. Limit noise and provide better lighting. Research indicates that light boxes with full-spectrum lighting can alleviate Sundowner’s syndrome symptoms.

Careful supervision and precautions are essential in keeping the person safe and in preventing night time wandering. Locks and identification bracelets can help. Although it can be very frustrating to deal with a loved one suffering from this syndrome, it is important to remain patient, calm, and positive. Ensure that physical discomfort is not exacerbating the condition; schedule regular medical appointments to take care of physical ailments and to monitor all symptoms. As hard as it may be, a senior care center is another option.

A proper diagnosis in the early stages is important as some forms of dementia are reversible. Recovery might be possible if drug interactions or reactions are determined to be the cause.

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Custodial Care Definition

Custodial Care for the elderly is when seniors need caregivers to help take care of them. Unfortunately, many older adults reach a time in their life when they can no longer care for themselves. They cannot get around the house without assistance, they cannot do the things they once did as their physical and mental skills are not quite as sharp as they used to be. A caregiver can make all the difference between an older adult struggling with life’s demand and an adult who has a helping hand.

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Continuing Care Retirement Communities Definition

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CRCCs) offer the elderly a variety of options to accommodate their unique, and often changing, needs. Healthy adults entering a CRCC are able to live independently in a home, apartment, or condominium of their own within the community. When they begin to need assistance with routine activities, they will be able to easily move into a nursing care or assisted living facility. The main advantage of living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community is the wealth of resources available for residents. Because there are multiple levels of care available in one location, residents will not have to make difficult transitions when their needs become greater. Though life in a CRCC can provide peace of mind, it does come with a hefty up-front price tag and ongoing monthly fees, so it may not be for everyone.

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