Is Alzheimer’s Really Type 3 Diabetes?

September 25, 2017

Glasses on Alzheimer's Disease paper

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but scientists are making headway on a number of theories about its cause, one being a link to diabetes.

Though scientists have presented many theories about Alzheimer’s disease, the true cause of the condition remains elusive. One by one, theories have failed to earn a consensus. But a promising new hypothesis has emerged in recent years: a link to diabetes. It’s one that seems to be supported by a growing amount of clinical evidence.

A New Theory About Alzheimer’s and Type 3 Diabetes

This new and promising theory suggests there is a connection between a third type of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Though the link to diabetes remains a bit tenuous, experimental evidence does seem to connect Type 2 Diabetes to the progressive cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

We hope to give you a better idea of what this connection might be and to remind the families affected by Alzheimer’s that scientists are inching ever closer to understanding this terrible disease. Even if this theory doesn’t prove to be definitive, it still suggests progress.

Understanding the Potential Link between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

The role insulin plays in the body is the key to understanding the relationship between Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Produced in the pancreas, insulin signals the cells in your body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

In a non-diabetic person, proper amounts of glucose are absorbed into the cells. But both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes interfere with this absorption of glucose, resulting in a variety of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes is congenital and destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas, while Type 2 is acquired and prevents cells from absorbing glucose out of the bloodstream. This inability to absorb glucose is called “insulin resistance.” It is this insulin resistance that may be the possible link to diabetes for Alzheimer’s disease.

Once someone develops insulin resistance, the glucose left in the bloodstream wreaks havoc on bodily tissues. And it can lead to the symptoms associated with diabetes in general.

The Alzheimer’s connection is established if insulin resistance begins to affect brain cells. Once this starts to happen, people can begin to lose memory and elements of their personality. In other words, the person begins to display symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Understanding Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease

Insulin resistance can lead to the creation of the beta amyloid plaques that are believed to play a large role in the development of Alzheimer’s.  As you can see, there is reason to suspect a connection between the insulin resistance caused by Type 2 Diabetes and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, there is enough evidence to suggest insulin resistance reduces cognitive function that some doctors and scientists have taken to calling Alzheimer’s “Type 3 Diabetes.”  Although explanatory gaps do exist in the relationship between insulin resistance and the beta amyloid plaques that are involved in Alzheimer’s, research still indicates at least a vague connection between Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

More research is needed to establish a solid connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s. But the very possibility that the connection exists suggests that by reducing the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes, we might very well reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s as well.

Two Things We Know Amidst All this Uncertainty

No matter what medical science eventually decides about the status and causes of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, we already know two important things with absolute certainty.

First, if you have an older loved who is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, they need and deserve the finest care possible.

Second, you and your family deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is in compassionate and knowledgeable hands.

Call us today for information or to schedule a visit or tour of a Legacy Senior Living Memory Care program. This is the best way to see the expert and compassionate care we provide to our residents on a daily basis.

Explore the Benefits of Living in Independent Living

September 19, 2017

Seniors practicing yoga

An independent living community can be the ideal choice for many older adults and their families. Here are 6 benefits to know and consider.

We know that you have an overwhelming variety of choices when it comes to selecting a senior living community for your loved one. Our goal is to help simplify what can sometimes be a confusing process. Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of one of the most popular choices – an independent living community.

But before we present these benefits, let’s first talk about what an independent living community is.

What is Independent Living?

Briefly put, independent living communities are intended to provide support for older adults who are still in relatively good health. Most independent residents are able to tend to the majority of their day-to-day needs with minimal assistance.

Independent living communities range from easy-to-maintain studio apartments to villas or small cottage-style homes.

While every independent living community has a distinct personality and features different amenities, they all tend to have several important factors in common.

Six Great Benefits of Independent Living Communities

Six of the most attractive benefits older adults will find in independent living communities include:

  1. Variety of Services

Independent living communities feature a variety of services designed to make your senior loved one’s life easier. These often include housekeeping/laundry, personalized meal plans, transportation services, and access to fitness facilities and life enrichment classes.

  1. Beautiful, Maintenance-Free Living Options

Residents can choose from a variety of attractive floor plans and styles. It might be a stand-alone villa or an apartment. What they all have in common is maintenance-free living. No lawn care or snow shoveling required!

  1. Access to Help and Support

Some independent living communities have their own private duty home care on-site to provide assistance if needed. Many are on the same campus as an assisted living community, should a higher level of care be needed.

  1. 24-Hour Safety and Security

Independent living communities offer safe and secure living environments with onsite security staff and an emergency call system. This can give seniors and their loved ones greater peace of mind.

  1. Social Opportunities are Abundant

Independent living offers a variety of opportunities for socializing, entertainment, and fun. This is often one of the primary reasons older adults make this type of move.

  1. Conveniences Galore

These communities usually provide conveniences like trash removal, transportation, and lawn care. Some even offer concierge services, an on-site wellness center and a beauty/barber shop.

Legacy is Here to Help

From answering your questions to sharing information on the Aid & Attendance program for veterans, the team at Legacy Senior Living is here to assist you whenever and however we can. Contact us today to schedule a visit or tour of the Legacy community nearest you!

Honoring Those Who Served and Sacrificed

September 14, 2017

black ribbon to remember POWs and MIAs

Honoring veterans is how we pay tribute to those who served and sacrificed for their country. Learn about National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

We know it is important to pay tribute to seniors who have served and sacrificed for the good of their country. This is especially true on September 15th, National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. It’s a day for honoring veterans, a day intended to draw attention to the accomplishments of our military veterans and to express, as best we can, the gratitude we hold in our hearts for all they have done for us.

A Tribute to Our Veterans

On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we take time to reflect on the sacrifices the older generation made in service to our country. This annual event was designed to honor missing military members and those who were held captive during a time of war or conflict.

Veterans’ organizations across the country hold ceremonies throughout the week prior to this special day. Their goal is to raise awareness, especially to the fact that some of these brave soldiers are still missing; and their families are still searching for answers. The week culminates with a national ceremony in Washington, DC, on September 15th.

The National League of Families says it is important for us to honor and act.  Explaining it as “America’s POW/MIAs should be honored and recognized, rather than memorialized, with the focus on continuing commitment to account as fully as possible for those still missing.  Strong, united support by the American people is crucial to achieving concrete answers.”

A Special Note for Caregivers

We’d also like to reach out to the family caregivers of older veterans. These are the loved ones who tend to veterans’ daily needs and ensure they feel loved and appreciated. Caring for a senior whose health is declining can be difficult and daunting work.

We want to acknowledge each caregiver’s efforts as they are the ones who have truly followed the example of our older veterans. It is important that caregivers know we notice and appreciate their efforts and the fact that they are continuing veterans’ noble legacy of serving others.

Providing a Caring Environment for Honoring Veterans

We understand that caring for a senior loved one is a commitment that requires diligence, patience, and an open heart. And that caring for a senior at home sometimes isn’t the best solution.

If your senior loved one requires more support than you and your family can safely provide at home, we’d love an opportunity to supplement your efforts.

At Legacy Senior Living, we do more than simply pay tribute to our senior veterans and their caregivers. We are proud to say our communities are home to many retired members of all four branches of our military. We work hard every day to ensure they live their life to the fullest.

Please contact us today to schedule a personal tour of the Legacy assisted living community nearest you.

9 Tips to Help Caregivers Manage Anxiety

September 4, 2017

Senior woman meditating in lotus position at home

Caregiving is a demanding role for everyone, no matter how resilient they are. The responsibility over someone else’s health and making sure their needs are met can lead to high levels of anxiety. And anxiety can take a toll on your own well-being, including both your physical and mental health.

Caregiver stress affects both the caregiver and the senior who’s receiving the care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 percent of family caregivers report having difficulty managing stress. That, of course, can affect your behavior in ways that become noticeable to your senior loved one as well as those around you.

If you want to be successful in your caregiving role over the long term, you will need to find ways to manage and reduce your daily anxiety levels.

Here are Nine Tips for Managing Anxiety

Keep in mind that every caregiver is unique and has a unique set of circumstances. So no two solutions are alike when it comes to managing caregiver anxiety. We encourage you to browse this list and see what might work for you.

  1. Talk with Friends and Family

The CDC, a wealth of data on caregiver stress, also reports that 61 percent of caregivers manage their anxiety by talking it out with friends or family. They also seek advice on how to manage their stress or how to make important decisions that concern their senior loved one.

  1. Manage Your Work-Life Balance

Use kind self-talk to remind yourself that balance is the key to being able to care for your senior loved one over the long haul. Instead of striving for perfection in every area of your life, set more reasonable expectations.

In everything that you do, every decision that you make, keep this important balance at the forefront of your mind. Let its significance weigh in your thought processes, always protecting the notion that you need time for your own life.

  1. Nurture the Spirit

Almost three-quarters of family caregivers surveyed by the CDC report that praying helps them cope with the stress of their caregiver role. This assumes that you’re religious. But if you’re not, there are other alternatives to consider including meditation.

For some people, meditation helps them approach the spiritual levels of well-being offered by prayer for religious people. Some people do both! Meditation has a calming effect, but it also helps focus your brain so you can better face the anxiety-causing stressors in your life.

  1. Get Organized

A major cause of anxiety is a lack of organization. Being disorganized can leave you with the constant, nagging feeling that you’re going to be late, miss an appointment, forget a medication, or somehow fail yourself and your senior loved one in your caregiving role.

Get a phone app (or two) to help you manage your time. Learning to keep track of doctor’s appointments, medications, shopping needs, and more on your phone may help you a great deal.

Prefer the old-fashioned way? Get a purse-sized calendar and notebook and use them every day!

  1. Get More Exercise

Working out—even if it’s just a daily brisk walk—can help with anxiety. Your body releases all sorts of feel-good chemicals when you exercise, and you get to let off lots of steam.

  1. Learn From Others

There are several ways that listening to other caregivers can help you. First, people usually find it comforting to know that other people experience what they’re going through. Secondly, you may learn tips from other caregivers about providing care and/or managing stress. Joining an online caregiver support group is an easy way to connect with peers.

  1. Eat Better

Start eating healthier foods and you’ll feel a whole lot stronger when it comes to facing anxiety head-on.

When you’re busy, as most caregivers tend to be, you don’t have a lot of time for healthy food prep. Consider taking advantage of healthy, home-delivered meal programs, such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, to make eating nutritious meals a little easier.

  1. Concentrate on Positive Relationships in Your Life

Caregivers just don’t have time for negativity in their lives. Focus on spending time with people who love and support you. Those friends and loved ones who listen to you and make you happy can help you maintain a positive outlook.

  1. Ask for Help

Finally, there’s no shame in asking for help. Friends, relatives, and professional home care aides can supplement the work you’re doing in numerous ways. Start thinking about what tasks you need help with and how you can enlist outside support.

Legacy Helps Seniors and their Families

Legacy Senior Living can help, too. We offer short-term stay options and respite care for seniors whose caregivers need a break. Caregivers often use respite care services when they travel, trusting their senior loved ones to the Legacy community near them until they return. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!

How To Use Non-Medicated Therapies To Calm People Suffering From Dementia

August 28, 2017

The Michigan State fight song has become a symbol of hope at tech giant IBM, but not for reasons you might think.

IBM is the developer of SimpleC, a virtual caregiver application used for treating memory loss. Where does the fight song come in? You’d have to ask Jason, a SimpleC clinician who works with people who have dementia. We’ll highlight Jason’s experience later in this story.

Jason’s tale illustrates that we can sometimes treat the symptoms of dementia in ways that don’t involve drugs.

This is how Jason and his colleagues at IBM are using technology that’s available right now to deliver personalized therapy to people with dementia. And it seems like it might be working.

Technology can be Personal

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cause memory loss that progresses over time, leaving a person disoriented, confused, and frustrated. That often leads to agitation and, in some cases, aggression.

One of the main tenants of dementia care is providing a safe, familiar environment that soothes and calms. People with dementia benefit from hearing voices they trust and seeing things they love. This helps them feel validated, which is a major goal of cognitive therapy.

SimpleC is a virtual, cloud-based application that helps deliver these familiar touch points of a person’s life. By providing personalized support and reassurance throughout the day, the technology keeps the user engaged and therefore calm.

How SimpleC Helps the User Throughout the Day

Imagine a tablet loaded with the SimpleC program. Caregivers and other family members work with staff at a senior living community and with health care professionals to load the program with personalized memories and helpful reminders. Together, they create a virtual caregiver that helps the user maintain independence and stay engaged.

They load family pictures and videos, plus other media that can help trigger memories of the user’s life. Staff loads helpful alerts, like medication times, reminders to hydrate, and times for upcoming events like meals, outings, and therapy appointments.

Health care professionals can participate too, by contributing medical data. In essence, they’re creating a virtual companion for the user, which can be incredibly comforting for many people with dementia.

Jason’s Story is Really the Story of Another Man’s Journey

Back to Jason, one of the IBM employees who works on the SimpleC team. His job is to take SimpleC out into the world and help real users understand the therapy. His experience with one man, in particular, illustrates the power of this non-medicated therapy to help calm someone who suffers from dementia.

When Jason first met the man, he saw before him an isolated person who had trouble talking. Occasionally, the man would utter broken phrases but not much else. The man sat alone and was not engaging with his surroundings.

Jason learned that the man had once played football for Michigan State, and used that information to build a visual story on SimpleC. He collected team photos and other memories, including a recording of the fight song used by that team.

This is how a therapy is built in SimpleC.

After using the SimpleC app, the man began to come out of his shell: speaking in sentences, engaging with his surroundings, and more. One day, when Jason arrived, he was met with a surprise nobody saw coming.

The man watched Jason walk into the room, looked into his eyes, and stood up. He opened his mouth… and sang the Michigan State fight song. For everyone there that day, for Jason, and for IBM, that song became a symbol of hope for people with dementia and for non-medicated therapies.

SimpleC is One Way We Help Residents at Legacy Senior Living

Legacy Senior Living is proud to partner with IBM by using the SimpleC therapy in our memory care communities. Collectively known as The Harbor, these communities are nationally recognized and acclaimed. To find out more about memory care at Legacy Senior Living, including SimpleC and The Purposeful Day program, please call or visit a Legacy Senior Living community near you.

Spread the Word: It’s National Senior Citizens’ Day

August 21, 2017

Senior Couple with surfboard smiling on beachAugust 21st is National Senior Citizens’ Day. While this day doesn’t get quite the fanfare enjoyed by the more glamorous and well-known holidays, it deserves recognition nevertheless.

Older adults play an important role in every culture by providing a type of wisdom, talent, and knowledge that’s hard to come by without the benefit of age. August 21st is designated as a time for the nation to collectively recognize the contributions our older generations have made—and will continue to make.

Spreading the Word about National Senior Citizens’ Day

To help you spread the word about National Senior Citizens’ Day, here are some inspiring older adults whose amazing accomplishments will bring you a renewed respect for your older friends and family. Use their stories to raise awareness by casually slipping them into conversation this week.

5 People Who Rocked the World after the Age of 65

Here’s a short list of 5 older adults who are impressive on every level.

  1. Nelson Mandela, Elected President of South Africa (age 75)

Nelson Mandela’s accomplishments range far and wide, but perhaps the crowning achievement of his career was being elected President of South Africa’s first post-apartheid government.

  1. Benjamin Franklin, Signed the Declaration of Independence (age 70)

Not only did this founding father pen his name to that famous document, but eleven years later, at age 81, he signed an equally famous document: the Constitution of the United States.

  1. Ronald Reagan, Elected President of the USA (age 69)

President Reagan was the oldest person ever elected President of the United States. He was also, coincidentally, the president who proclaimed National Senior Citizens’ Day! A member of the ‘greatest generation’, President Reagan did his country proud and served us all in numerous ways.

  1. Colonel Sanders, Founded KFC (age 65)

You can blame a measly Social Security check for the invention of this fast food giant. Love it or hate it, KFC is an American institution, and it never would have come about if Colonel Sanders hadn’t been looking for a way to supplement his Social Security and live better in his retirement years.

  1. Diana Nyad, Swam from Cuba to Florida (age 64)

She wasn’t quite 65, but we’ll let that slide. Diana Nyad became the first person to make the swim from Cuba to Florida without the comfort and safety of a shark cage. Though she did have a team of protective shark divers around her, we think it’s still very impressive!

Legacy Senior Living Salutes Older Americans

While not everyone is setting world records or changing the world after the age of 65, these older Americans show us all that we should never let age stand in our way. We hope you take this to heart and strike up some great conversations this week, especially on August 21.

Here at Legacy Senior Living, we honor older adults every day, in every way we can. We consider it an honor to serve and care for the generation that helped build the nation we all live in today. It’s written into our mission statement and lived out in everything we do in all our communities throughout the Southeast. If you’re currently looking for a senior living community, please consider a Legacy community near you.

Fill out the handy contact form on our website to learn more or to schedule a private tour!

Spirituality and Aging

August 14, 2017

Spirituality and Aging

As Americans grow older, many begin to rethink and reconnect with their spirituality. The sense of satisfaction that results from that connection can lead to an improved sense of well-being, comfort, and an overall happiness.

Of course, this isn’t exactly news to generations of caregivers. Many have noticed a deepening sense of faith and spirituality as their loved ones grew older.

Now, however, there’s a growing interest in the relationship between spirituality and aging.

One reason for the growing interest in this area is the ever-mounting evidence that tapping into your spiritual side can produce health benefits.

Spirituality Can Improve the Well-Being of Older Adults

The connection between health and spirituality has been shown to be especially beneficial for older adults, who often enjoy a surprising array of benefits when they develop their spiritual sides.

Here’s what researchers are discovering in the exciting field of what’s often known as ‘happiness studies’. This name comes from the notion that what makes us happy also helps us to age well. For many older Americans, feeling spiritual or religious provides a pathway to happiness.

What Does it Mean to be Spiritual?

Getting in touch with your spiritual side can take many different forms. For some seniors it’s a walk in the woods, communing with nature and feeling connected to something on a universal level. Others take a more religious approach and its church-going that connects them to a higher power. For others, it’s time spent alone, immersed in deep reflection.

Whatever a person’s preferred method of maintaining a spiritual life might be, the results have been shown in scientific studies to be very beneficial.

How Does Spirituality Improve Health?

A study out of Florida tested the theory that older Americans use prayer to cope with stress. The results were stunning! They found it to be overwhelmingly true with 96 percent of seniors in the study reporting they used prayer specifically for stress management. What’s more, 84 percent said they used prayer more than all other alternative remedies for maintaining health.

Of course, prayer isn’t the only path to spirituality or finding God. Whatever form it may take, however, spirituality involves a core set of practices. These practices are what lead to better health, say researchers.

Scientists Say These Spiritual Practices That Can Lead to Better Health

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Prayer
  5. Compassion
  6. Gratitude
  7. Social Support
  8. Love
  9. Generosity

From healing faster after surgery to experiencing stronger immune systems and lower rates of depression, studies show that seniors with strong religious and spiritual beliefs enjoy a wide range of health benefits.

Spirituality, Faith, and Legacy Senior Living Values

These connections are why senior living communities offer residents opportunities for developing their spiritual sides. Here at Legacy Senior Living, our chaplaincy program is just part of our overall commitment to the well-being of our residents.

Each community has a chaplain who serves the ministerial needs of the residents and their families, as well as team members. Visiting multiple times throughout the week, the chaplains are involved in a number of ways with the community, getting to know everyone.

The Legacy Senior Living network of chaplains is overseen by our corporate chaplain program coordinator.

As you can see, faith is one of the four core values that help us live up to the standards we’ve set for all our communities. Along with honor, respect, and integrity, faith is one of the four pillars of the Legacy philosophy of serving the residents who choose to live in our communities.

The Value-based Benefits of Assisted Living

July 31, 2017

Value of Senior LivingIf you’re comparing costs with various assisted living communities, keep in mind it’s a complex comparison. Some intangible benefits are hard to price.

With the United States edging toward becoming an older population, conversations about long-term care will become ever more critical. Naturally, price is a chief concern among family members and their senior loved ones, so comparison shopping is important.

Keep in mind that it’s hard to put a price on some of the benefits of assisted living.

At the very least, assisted living communities provide seniors with housekeeping, dining, activities and some basic care services.  That’s just a foundation, however.

Building thriving communities that help seniors live their best life takes a whole lot more than weekly laundry service and meals in the dining room. There are a lot of value-based benefits, too.

What are ‘Value-Based’ Benefits?

If you were to write down your monthly outgoing cash flow, you’d probably notice a lot of expenses for house upkeep. Even if you don’t do any renovations, there are still bills to pay for property insurance, property taxes, and the inevitable repair jobs that arise when you own your own home.

Maintaining a car isn’t cheap, either. Even grocery prices these days are skyrocketing. Can you believe that, in some areas of the country, milk is approaching $5 per gallon? And meat prices are up more than 75 percent in some places.

These are just a few of the expenses that disappear if you choose to move to an assisted living community.

Then there’s also the cost of lawn care and the expense of transportation. Add to that everything else that’s included in the cost of assisted living, and suddenly you will see comparing costs is a much more complex process.

More Value-Based Benefits

When seniors need help with medication or personal care, or if they need 24-hour access to a caregiver, who steps in? Family members can help but even if they can manage, they’ll need a break sometimes. Caregiver stress is common in family members who’ve dedicated their lives to caring for a senior loved one.

In an assisted living community, those services are included, too. Round-the-clock access to caregivers is provided, along with the daily help each resident requires. Not all plans are alike, however, so always be sure to find out if some services cost extra.

The Hidden Value of Assisted Living

Aside from not having to pay for groceries, pay for a vehicle, and maintain a home, residents of assisted living communities enjoy a whole host of hidden benefits.

After moving to a senior living community, some residents feel relieved. Many of the frustrations and stress of daily living have disappeared. They are free from many chores and tasks that had become too burdensome living at home.

The convenience of living at their new community allows them the independence and energy to flourish and thrive.

Simply interacting with folks their own age every day is another plus for many seniors. They have the chance to connect, share, laugh, and make new friends. Staying social is one way for older Americans to remain healthy, active, and engaged. Consider this an added health benefit.

Tour an Assisted Living Community to Learn More About Value-Added Benefits

At Legacy Senior Living, residents at our assisted living communities enjoy a comfortable, homelike lifestyle that more than meets their daily needs. There are certified and licensed staff on hand around the clock to make sure every resident receives the care and attention they need. There are exciting activities, regular assistance with daily tasks, and home-cooked meals served in beautiful dining rooms.

Want to know more?

Call Legacy Senior Living and ask to schedule a free tour of an assisted living community near you. We’d love to show you around!

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!