Using Scent to Manage Mood Changes in a Senior with Alzheimer’s

July 24, 2017

managing mood changes

Our sense of smell is more powerful than we know. One way of managing mood changes for people with Alzheimer’s is to make use of different scents.

If you’ve ever felt transported by the scent of pumpkin pie or fall leaves, then you know the power of scent. Or if you’ve ever lit a lavender candle and felt almost instantly relaxed, you also know how different scents can alter your mood.

The close connection between scent and mood could make a difference in how the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are managed.

If you’re caring for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you may have already witnessed the mood changes that this disease can bring. Whether it’s unexpected and seemingly unwarranted changes in demeanor or a trend toward aggressive behavior (often paired with cursing), mood changes can be unsettling for caregivers.

What Causes Mood Swings in People with Alzheimer’s?

Mood swings in older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by a number of factors.

Possible Causes of Mood Swings:

  • Frustration with their inability to understand something
  • Feeling overwhelmed with too many requests or questions
  • Undiagnosed health problems
  • Hectic and/or loud environment
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation

Scientists know that scents actually do affect people’s moods. This knowledge could make a difference for caregivers. Specifically, it could help them better manage difficult moods of someone they’re caring for.

How Scents Can Impact Mood

Scents work on the human brain to affect mood, but not like a drug does. A scent can trigger a memory because it’s associated with something in a person’s past.

Let’s say you grew up smelling pumpkin pie spice every Fall. If you loved Fall, the scent of those spices years later can bring back distant memories, even decades after you’ve smelled them last.

It’s called “associative learning.” That means your brain associates two events because of your past. Do you think of baseball games when you eat hot dogs? That’s associative learning at work in your brain.

Likewise, if you light a scented candle that has a mulled cider fragrance. You may think of winter holidays or ice skating. Again, it’s an association created by your brain.

Scents May Help Calm Your Senior Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

One study showed that participants in a study reacted more strongly to odor-evoked memories than they did to verbal communication. That speaks to the power of scent in triggering reactions among people.

For caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, that’s an important realization.

If you could trigger fond memories in your senior loved one with scent, you may be able to mitigate some of the mood swings they experience. You’ll have to experiment with different scents to find the right ones, of course. Not everyone has the same associations in place in their brains.

For example, freshly-mowed grass might trigger happy memories of summertime fun for you, but for someone who grew up in a city, there might be no association at all. Also, associations can be negative, too. When you’re experimenting with different scents, be on the lookout for increased agitation with any particular odor.

Some Scents to Try

  1. Lemon is said to have a calming effect on the mind. It can also be used to help improve concentration.
  2. This spice is also said to improve concentration, which could help your loved one when they’re feeling agitated because of confusion or disorientation.
  3. Essential oils that include rosemary are believed to improve memory and to promote alertness. Added to that is it’s also a wonderful smelling scent!
  4. Lavender is calming and may help quell stress. Any time your senior loved one is agitated, try placing a few drops of lavender essential oil in to a diffuser.

A Final Word

Finally, be patient when you’re trying to manage mood swings in your senior loved one. Keep in mind the behavior is the disease, not the person you love and care for.

At Legacy Senior Living, we recognize the tremendous job that family caregivers do. If you’d like to learn more about how our communities can help you manage a loved one’s Alzheimer’s, whether it’s by offering memory care or respite care, please call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour!

Setting Realistic Expectations for a Move to Senior Living

July 17, 2017

When preparing for a move to senior living, the first step is managing expectations. Here are some tips for helping a senior loved one with the transition.

As you probably already know, moving to senior living is a process. It begins with a conversation, followed by the search for the right community. Finally, there’s making your choice, putting affairs in order, and arranging all of the details of the move.

But the process isn’t over yet. Now comes the psychological preparation — not just for your senior loved one, but for you and your family as well.

Managing expectations can be your family’s highest hurdle to jump yet.

Imagining the Transition Ahead

If you remember back to your first day of school or the day you moved out of your parents’ home, you might be able to recall the blend of emotions you felt. On the one hand, the tingle of excitement and the prospect of new horizons filled your head with hope and joy. On the other hand, fear of the unknown and sadness of leaving something behind made the transition bittersweet.

It’s the same with a move to senior living. One of the most important steps you can take at this point in the process is to work on managing expectations — for your senior loved one, yourself, and your family.

Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the psychological waters ahead. They should help smooth the transition and set the stage for a positive experience in your senior loved one’s new community.

Guideline #1: Get the Whole Gang Involved

For seniors about to move to a new community, one underlying fear is that their social connections will be severed forever. That’s closely related to the fear they’re being abandoned. While you know that to be untrue, the best way to quell those fears is to get everyone involved in the transition process.

Setting up a new space that feels like home is often a personal process. However, having loved ones there for support makes a big difference. From planning the move to helping sort through possessions to physically helping pack things up, it’s better when a supportive network of family members is there to help.

Once the move has occurred, help your loved one integrate by taking the time to make the new space feel like home. Unpack, remove boxes, and place familiar objects throughout the room. Then, try to join your loved one for a few meals at the community so they feel less alone.

Guideline #2: Expect Highs and Lows

Just like when you were young and there was a big event on your horizon, there will be some emotional hills and valleys. Don’t try to flatten out the emotional highs and lows — they’re natural. Just try and surf the wave by talking things out and, more importantly, doing a lot of listening.

Guideline #3: Practice Patience

A key strategy for embracing this transition is to practice patience. There will be times, at first, when your senior loved one will feel the whole idea was a mistake. Some things may not go as planned. Or your loved one may not make friends as quickly as they hoped. That will change with time, so keep in mind that patience will see you through the difficult patches.

Life at a Legacy Senior Living Community

At Legacy Senior Living, we help each new resident prepare for this transition and support them through the good times and bad. But don’t just take our word for it. Call today to schedule a time to visit so you can see for yourself how we go the extra mile in creating an environment that helps each resident live their best life!

The Health Benefits of Staying Social

July 6, 2017

Healthy social seniorsIt’s National Social Wellness Month. Did you know being social improves your health? Here are some of the ways being around others is good for you.

As human beings, most of us are programmed to be social. That doesn’t change as we age either. That’s why, for seniors, staying social is crucial to good health.

In observance of National Social Wellness Month this July, let’s review the benefits of maintaining an active social life once you’ve hit retirement age and beyond.

A Social Life Helps Ward Off Feelings of Loneliness

Feeling isolated and alone is not only unpleasant; it’s bad for your health. And our seniors are more likely to experience isolation than other segments of the population.

Research has shown that older adults who are isolated are more likely to suffer higher blood pressure. They are also more susceptible to colds and the flu. On an even more serious level, isolation in seniors may cause higher mortality rates from heart disease, breast cancer, and a few other chronic diseases.

The depression and anxiety frequently caused by feeling socially isolated may also lead to bad habits.

Bad Habits that Result from Senior Isolation

A few of the most common negative behaviors that can result from isolation include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking or drinking too much
  • Skipping meals
  • Abuse of medication
  • Forgetting to take medication
  • Alcohol dependency

Isolation Is a Public Health Issue

Isolation is more of a problem for seniors today than ever before in history. What’s more, the population is aging rapidly.

All of this points to a major public health issue on the rise. Seniors and their loved ones may have to become more proactive when it comes to finding social networks. Recognizing the link between aging, health, and maintaining a social life is the first step.

Why Staying Social Is So Important for Seniors

It turns out that social contact with other human beings actually creates a physiological response. When we mingle with others, even casually, our brains send neural messages to the body to reduce the production of stress hormones.

Inflammation, a byproduct of stress, is reduced as well.

These reactions happen during social interactions because the brain senses an improvement in your environment. You’re not experiencing feelings of isolation, so the body can relax its ‘fight-or-flight’ response.

So yes, the brain considers isolation a type of stress.

Seen in this light, seniors who stay social are warding off the negative physical side effects of loneliness and isolation. Consider it preventative medicine.

The Long-Term Effects of Stress

Over the course of a lifetime, we all experience stress. The body reacts with stress hormones and inflammation, as we’ve just learned. Our bodies can handle this in small doses for short periods of time. However, chronic stress and inflammation can add up over the years.

Researchers think that it could be precisely this type of long-term stress that contributes to many chronic conditions. What can we gather from this?

Prolonged social isolation may lead to chronic health problems.

One of the chronic conditions that researchers suspect may be linked to long-term stress is cancer. Crowning a lifetime of stress with a serious dose of isolation may be very detrimental to the physical health of seniors.

Staying Social May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

There are other negative physiological changes that occur in the body as a result of isolation, too. Seniors who live alone and experience loneliness may be more prone to dementia.

Getting out and spending time with friends and family or joining clubs and community groups help the brain stay healthy. It keeps those neurons firing regularly, much like a workout for parts of the brain.

Stay Social and Be Healthy

For seniors, it isn’t always easy to maintain an active social life. Transportation issues, living far away from friends and mobility challenges can complicate getting out and about.

At Legacy Senior Living, our residents enjoy the company of friends every day in their communities. They may also choose to join regular social groups and participate in fun activities and outings. If you’d like to know more about life at our Legacy community, please contact us at any time to schedule a private tour.

Working as a Partner with the Staff at a Loved One’s Assisted Living

June 26, 2017

A feeling of community is essential in assisted living. Here’s what you can do to help create one.

How do you define “community”?

The best care occurs when a strong network of people work together. If you think about it, that’s one way to define the word “community.” In assisted living, family members are considered part of the community too.

What can you do to make sure you’re part of the equation?

Here are four ways you can work to become part of the assisted living community where your senior loved one lives. Each one is a variation on the idea of working as a partner with the staff. As you’ll find out below, partnerships are crucial when it comes to forming a healthy, happy community.

How to Work with the Caregivers at a Loved One’s Senior Living Community

  1. Help Staff Get to Know Your Loved One

By visiting regularly and chatting with staff, you’re helping them do their job. The more staff knows and understands your loved one, the better. In fact, opening up to staff about your loved one’s life may mean you’re paving the road for a better experience for everyone.

Knowing cultural backgrounds, for example, may help staff understand your senior loved one’s preferences and behavior.

Studies have shown that when staff members know a resident well, they experience multiple benefits themselves. They’re better able to handle daily challenges they encounter on the job, for example.

Knowing the history, family background, and life story of your loved one helps staff paint a complete picture of your loved one. That’s important because it helps them connect and relate. Stronger connections and better relationships can lead to a more home-like experience for your loved one.

  1. Be a Good Listener

Family members should be good listeners, too. The same research mentioned above showed that good communication and collaboration is a two-way street. When you heed the advice and follow the recommendations of the assisted living staff, you’re not just helping your loved one. You’re helping the staff too.

In fact, having good relationships with families is tied to higher job satisfaction among nursing assistants, say researchers.

  1. Give Feedback

The best assisted living communities are always looking for ways to improve the lives of their residents. Working with families is part of how they go about achieving those goals.

The feedback that staff receives during casual encounters with family members is invaluable. What they can learn about your loved one from you supplements what they know from formal assessments and care conferences.

  1. Focus on Community

The bottom line here is that by following recommendations, giving productive feedback, and helping staff get to know your loved one, you’re contributing to job satisfaction. When people like their jobs, they’re less likely to quit. Long-term staff who love their jobs form the foundation of a strong community for your loved one.

At Legacy Senior Living, family members, staff, and residents work together to create a supportive environment for all who live and work in our community. That’s how the strongest communities are created, and that’s our goal.

We encourage family members to reach out at all times. That goes for our new friends as well. If you’re reading about Legacy Senior Living for the first time, it’s nice to meet you. Please know that you are welcome to call, email, or visit at any time to learn more about how we build a sense of community for seniors.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s in a Family Member

June 19, 2017

Memory loss isn’t the only sign of Alzheimer’s. Nor is it always the first symptom to appear. Here are some early signs of Alzheimer’s you may not know about.

Memory loss is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s not always the first symptom to appear, say scientists. Other early signs of Alzheimer’s may appear long before forgetfulness takes hold.

Even before doctors can make a clinical diagnosis, some early changes can be signals to informed family members that something is amiss with their loved one.  Knowing these signs is one way to be proactive about your loved one’s health.

The following are the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s. Take note, and keep them top-of-mind as you interact with your senior loved one.

  1. Personality Changes

Has your senior loved one started acting differently? Is it uncharacteristic for him or her to be irritable but now they seem to be complaining about everything? If so, find out what’s going on. It could just be a case of temporary grumpiness. Or it may also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

One way to tell the difference is if personality changes last for more than six months, say Alzheimer’s researchers who have conducted studies on the matter.

Other personality changes to watch out for include:

  • anxiety or tearfulness
  • lack of motivation for activities they used to enjoy
  • suddenly not knowing how to behave appropriately in public or in private
  • being paranoid or overly suspicious of other people
  • becoming agitated or frustrated easily

Again, it’s important to remember that these symptoms don’t necessarily herald the onset of Alzheimer’s. However, if they seem to persist for longer than six months, it may be a sign.

Be sure to have a thorough conversation about your observations with your senior loved one’s doctor.

  1. Trouble Navigating

People often associate getting lost with Alzheimer’s. Everyone has heard a different variation of the story about the senior with Alzheimer’s. He can’t find his way home after shopping for groceries or he needs a map to drive to an old friend’s house that he’s been visiting for decades.

Now there’s new scientific evidence to support this. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has published a study showing a link between navigation problems and the disease. Results suggest that difficulty with maps can signal the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Vision Problems

Sometimes, early signs of Alzheimer’s can display as vision problems. Maybe your loved one is having a hard time judging distances. That can lead to accidents when steps are misjudged, for example. Or maybe reading is troublesome. Determining color might become difficult, too.

  1. Planning is Too Much to Handle

Another early warning sign to watch out for is when problem-solving and planning becomes overwhelming. For example, if your mother feels anxiety over putting together a family meal, that may be a red flag.

Where to Get Help

Alzheimer’s disease is hard for everyone: you, your family, and those who suffer from the disease itself. Legacy Senior Living can be a resource for families with loved ones who exhibit early signs of the disease early or at any stage along the way. Our Memory Care Programs are nationally recognized, as is our commitment to helping seniors with dementia reach their highest potential every day.

We welcome you to visit, call, or email any time with questions about Alzheimer’s. Our experience caregivers can be a resource to you and the senior you love.

How to Have “The Talk” about Senior Living with a Loved One

June 12, 2017

Having the talk about senior living

Talking to a loved one about senior living can be a tough conversation to have. Here’s some advice on preparing for a healthy discussion.

Throughout your life, there are times when you are forced to have difficult discussions. Talking to a loved one about moving to senior living is one of those times. Some adult children say it is one of the conversations they fear most.

Don’t Give Up

Everyone has an inner voice telling them when they need to talk something over with someone. In a case such as this, that inner voice may have been pulling at you for a long time. Fear can easily drown your inner voice, however, causing you to delay “The Talk.”

That’s understandable since discussing major lifestyle changes with a senior loved one can be stressful for everyone.

It’s also why you need to make time to prepare for this discussion. The consequence of avoiding this sometimes uncomfortable conversation your loved one can be dangerous.

Even if you think having the talk will only make things worse, it’s important to express the feelings you’re having. Those feelings are rooted in concern and love, after all.

How to Prepare for ‘The Talk’ with a Senior Loved One

What you have here is a primer for preparing for “The Talk.” Reviewing this advice before you talk with your senior loved one may help improve your chances of having a healthy discussion, rather than one that ends up with everyone feeling hurt and frustrated.

  1. Consider the Situation from Their Point of View

Before you even think of approaching what might be a sensitive topic for your senior older loved one, stop and think. One major fear older adults express about aging is that they will be forced to give up control of their own lives. This loss of independence might make them more resistant to change.

Think about it: they’ve lost friends and possibly even their spouse. Their physical health might be slipping, and they may be losing some of their mental sharpness. On top of that, they may no longer be able to drive. Holding onto the lifestyle they’ve known for decades is becoming more difficult.

Being sensitive to those feelings will help you find the right way to begin the discussion.

  1. Series of Discussions

One sure-fire way to step on toes is to drop in out of the blue and try to take command of your senior loved one’s life. That’s exactly how it will feel to them if they don’t interact with you very often. And it’s important to know that decision to move will require more than a one-time talk with a loved one. In all likelihood, it will be a series of discussions.

Spending more time with your loved one(s) will help you understand how independent they really are. It also allows for the topic of senior living to arise naturally during the normal course of conversation.

Even if you live far away, try to visit on weekends more and to have “face-to-face” conversations via Skype every few days. Eventually, the issues will emerge and The Talk may occur naturally. The key is to practice good listening. According to AARP, it’s important to set the right tone. This is hard to do if you don’t communicate very often.

  1. Gather Information on Local Senior Living Communities

Spend time researching the options for senior living. At some point, your senior loved one may want to know what’s out there. Being able to supply useful information will help that discussion.

Go one step further and prepare for questions about senior living communities. One common concern is how they’ll make friends in their new home. Knowing about the types of social activities a community offers can help allay those fears.

Legacy Senior Living Supports You

Whatever outcome you hope for in your conversation, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Legacy Senior Living understands the hopes —and fears— you have for your senior loved one. You want to know they’re safe, healthy, and happy. Those are our wishes too, for every resident who moves to one of our independent living communities.

If you’d like to learn more, we’re here as a resource for you. Call us or use the form you see on our pages. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. We’d love to see you!

Why Do We Call Them the Greatest Generation?

June 5, 2017

Remembering the Greatest GenerationWhat is it about the Greatest Generation that’s so different? In this article, we examine how this generation got that name.

They say it’s the hardships of life that form our true character. If that’s true, then Americans who were born between the two World Wars have certainly earned their character badges. For this, we call them the Greatest Generation.

Who is the Greatest Generation?

You’ve probably heard the term before. It was coined almost twenty years ago by Tom Brokaw. Former anchor and managing editor of the NBC News, Mr. Brokaw published his best-selling book, The Greatest Generation, in 1998. By doing so, he forever set the phrase in our hearts and minds.

The phrase may be familiar, but have you ever stopped to wonder what it really means?

Four Factors Contributing to the Formation of the Greatest Generation

  1. Momentous Changes

This generation grew up during a time when the world was experiencing great shifts in power.  Europe was in upheaval, and the United States had yet to flex its military muscle. That all changed during World War II, and a new era of American power and wealth ensued.

This generation lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and then on into one of the most the prosperous eras in the history of our nation. The newfound prosperity contrasted sharply with previous decades of austerity.

The changes this generation witnessed will forever be marked as some of the most pivotal moments in history.

  1. Work Ethic

Perhaps because of having lived through the Great Depression, this generation knows a thing or two about working hard. On top of that, they lived through the years of World War II and appreciate stability.

Combined, these two factors result in one very strong work ethic among members of the Greatest Generation.

  1. Frugality

The combination of living during the Great Depression and experiencing war-time rationing means many in this generation are well-versed in frugal living. They learned to make due. They also learned creativity in the face of scarcity.

Frugality for them isn’t a badge of honor nor is it anything to be ashamed of. It was simply a way of dealing with life in those times.

  1. Sacrifice & Honor

Many gave of themselves during World War II, to the extent that they lost life or limb. The war was truly all-encompassing for this generation at that time. The Battle of the Bulge, for example, is considered by military experts to be the greatest in the nation’s history.

Back home, people made due with less in order to contribute to the war effort. That meant rationing and doing without some of the staples of daily living.

United as a country in the face of evil, the greatest generation came together to sacrifice what they could to make the world a better place.

Legacy Senior Living Serves the Greatest Generation

Because they made the world a better place for us, we’re committed to making the world a better place for them.

Honoring the Greatest Generation is part of our mission here at Legacy Senior Living. In fact, serving this generation is our mission. In carrying out that mission, we hope to uphold the values handed down to us by the Greatest Generation in every possible way.

If you’re looking for a senior living community that cares and serves with honor and respect, please give us a call us anytime, or fill out the handy contact form on this page.

What Families of Veterans Should Know About the Aid & Attendance Benefit

May 29, 2017

Important benefits for veterans

Do you know about an important benefit for veterans? It’s called the Aid & Attendance Benefit and it may help your loved one pay for assisted living.

Veterans of war sometimes return home to completely changed environments. Some may even suffer trauma as a result of their dedication and patriotism. Recognizing the sacrifices they’ve made is an important part of the very fabric of our nation, and as such, there’s important veteran benefit we’d like you to know about.

It’s called the Aid & Attendance Benefit. If you are the family member of a veteran, finding out if your loved one is eligible can help relieve some of the worries about how to pay for the cost of assisted living or nursing home care.

This is a special pension benefit administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It helps pay for assisted living expenses or nursing home costs, if certain criteria are met.

What You Need to Know About Aid & Attendance Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a helpful page on their website that contains everything you need to know about the Aid & Attendance Benefit. But here’s a quick summary of the program:

  • The A&A benefit is only available to veterans and their surviving spouses if the veteran meets eligibility requirements for a VA pension, which include having served at least 90 days of active duty service. At least one day must have been during wartime.
  • In addition, to receive a pension, a veteran must be at least 65 years old or be totally and permanently disabled (which can include living in a nursing home or receiving skilled nursing care). Other qualifying criteria include receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
  • The veteran and/their surviving spouse must also meet one of the following four conditions:
    • they are bedridden
    • they live in a nursing home due to mental or physical problems
    • they are blind or nearly blind
    • they require the aid of another person to perform everyday living tasks (dressing, bathing, feeding, adjusting to prosthetics, toileting, and protecting yourself from everyday hazards in a normal environment)

A few additional but important details to know are:

  • This benefit is separate from and in addition to a veteran’s monthly pension and disability compensation.
  • Veterans apply through the same VA regional office where they filed a claim for their VA pension or by you writing to the Pension Management Center in your state.

Veterans Wall of Honor at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, we recognize the sacrifice our veterans have made in many ways. At each of our locations throughout the country, you will find a dedicated space we call the ‘Veterans Wall of Honor’.

Each branch of the military is commemorated and each resident veteran is honored with a picture on that wall. It’s a wonderful way for our residents to feel proud of their community and the place they live. Interested in learning more on how we foster community at all our senior living locations? Call us. We’d love to schedule a time for you to stop by for a personal tour!

Advice for Overcoming Caregiver Guilt and Finding Peace

May 22, 2017

Caring for our loved onesCaregiver guilt is normal. Here’s advice for how to handle it in a healthy, positive way so both you and your senior loved one can enjoy spending time together.

It’s amazing that, amidst a population who does so much for others, you will find so much guilt. We’re talking about the family caregiver community who give and give until they become exhausted and burned out. Sometimes even putting their own health in jeopardy. Then they feel guilty for being so overwhelmed.

Why Does Caregiver Guilt Exist?

But why in the world would someone who has, quite literally, rearranged their life in order to take care of a senior loved one, feel guilty?

Common reasons for caregiver guilt include:

  • feeling that they’re not spending enough time with other members of the family
  • feeling angry about their senior loved one’s overwhelming amount of needs
  • sometimes it’s even their senior loved one’s unmet expectations that fuel the guilt

Caregivers often catch themselves thinking they should be doing more. And since there’s no benchmark for knowing what constitutes ‘enough,’ those feelings can be hard to reason away. Whatever the origin of the guilt is, the person feeling it is probably spread too thin. That’s according to the folks at WebMD, who interviewed psychologists on this very topic.

Where Does This Guilt Come From?

The stress you encounter every day as a caregiver – especially if you’re the primary caregiver – can sap your energy, your calmness, your sense of balance and, if you’re not careful, your mental health. And when you’re stressed out and feeling pulled in different directions, guilt has a funny of creeping in and taking hold.

All these feelings, left unchecked, can lead to depression.

See where this is going?

Before you find yourself heading down the road to depression, take steps to deal with your guilt. Learning what coping strategies work for you will help you overcome feelings of guilt and move on to a healthier life.

Overcoming Caregiver Guilt

Here’s what to know.

1. Be Warned: Guilt is Your Wake-Up Call!

The first step is to understand that caregiver guilt is normal. Lots of people who share your role feel guilty, in fact. But they learn how to handle it before it becomes a destructive force.

For starters, they recognize guilt as a warning sign. They acknowledge it, understanding that it’s normal. They also recognize that it’s something to be dealt with head-on.

2. Remove Caregiver Guilt from the Equation

Just by reading this far, you’ve already taken a huge step towards handling your caregiver guilt. You understand it. And by understanding where guilt comes from and that you’re not alone in feeling it, you can begin to find peace.

Now it’s time to be proactive and take steps to eradicate your guilt. Here are a few things to work on towards that end:

  • Find a network to help you. Delegate some of your responsibilities so you have time and energy for yourself. If you’re truly overwhelmed and can’t find support, an assisted living community might be an option. Even if it is only for a short-term respite stay.
  • Replace guilt with something positive. For all those moments when you feel guilt creeping in, give yourself a mini time-out. Do 10 minutes of meditation, take a walk around the block, or just go out for coffee or some quick window shopping. The idea is to restore yourself, not wear yourself down by feeling guilty.
  • Recognize that you can’t control everything. It can help to understand what’s totally out of your control, so you can stop feeling guilty about it.
  • Find a caregiver support group. Yes, they do exist. You can find one online or explore those in your local community.

 

A Legacy of Supporting Caregivers

 At Legacy Senior Living, we know a lot about caregiving and strive to nurture the caregiving community we’ve built over the years. If you found this information to be helpful, be sure to bookmark our blog and stop back often!

7 Things You Can Do That May Cut Your Risk for Dementia

May 15, 2017

Tips on Cutting Your Risk for DimentiaScience is finding out every day that there are things we can do that may help cut the risk of dementia later in life. Here are 7 changes you can make right now.

 

As the country ages, it’s hard not to think about the looming risk of dementia. Luckily, the scientific community is doing its best to help by conducting research on lifestyle changes that may reduce that risk. Here are seven of them you can start working on today.

1. Hit the Gym (or the sidewalk)

In 2013, a long-term study on the health habits of over 2,200 men published its results after 35 years of data. One of the findings was that regular exercise reduced the risk of dementia in their subjects. Following a healthy lifestyle in general may be a huge determining factor in your risk of dementia, but regular exercise, as this study revealed, is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

2. Hit the Books

Even if you never considered yourself a bookworm, taking up activities that challenge your intellectual side may help ward off mental decline. A study published in JAMA Neurology showed that not only does staying mentally active help in this regard, but the sooner in life you start the better.

Luckily, intellectual enrichment comes in many forms. So most people have no trouble finding something they enjoy that also challenges the mind. Playing music counts, for example. So does socializing, believe it or not. Anything that brings out your creative side is helpful too, like painting or drawing. Reading can really do the trick since it opens up a world of learning that’s hard to replicate by any other means.

3. Fire Up the Keurig

You don’t have to own a Keurig to ward off dementia, but they do say caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of dementia. While experts all have slightly different recommendations, the most common consensus seems to be drinking two cups of coffee a day might help prevent dementia. Talk with your physician for their take on caffeine, especially if you have any type of cardiac disease.

4. Take a Vacation (or a Break or a Short Breather)

We all know that stress does horrible things to the mind and the body, but now there’s evidence that it may also be linked to dementia. A long-term study in Sweden found that, of the women in their study, those who experienced higher levels of stress were more likely to have developed dementia later in life.

So take all the necessary precautions to keep your stress levels down, whether it’s taking big vacations from time to time or allowing for tiny breaks at work to take a few deep breaths.

5. Eat to Please Your Heart

There are several reasons to eat well, and now you have one more to add to the list. Eating to keep your heart in top shape may protect your brain, too. Try a Mediterranean diet consisting of:

  • very little red meat
  • lots of fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fish
  • olive oil nuts
  • low-fat or fat-free dairy products

6. Be Social

Making friends and keeping them might be another good way to ward off mental decline. The stronger your social network, the better off you will be, say researchers. They’re not entirely sure why friends help, though it could be that they help you better manage stress which might allow you avoid depression.

7. Seek Treatment for Depression

Speaking of depression, scientists may have found a link between depression and dementia. So if you or a senior loved one is battling depression, seek treatment now. You may be doing your future self a very big favor.

Learn more about dementia by checking back here often. We will routinely share what we learn about memory-related diseases right here on our blog.

If an older adult you love has dementia, know that our memory care program is nationally acclaimed. We’re proud to serve families whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Call us to learn more today!