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What can you do to foster a better connection with seniors?

By Senior Living

May is Older Americans Month, a time set aside to recognize contributions from generations past to today.

Starting in 1963 with President John F. Kennedy, all chief executives have asked citizens to honor, support and engage with older people in their communities. It’s why there are now ceremonies, events, fairs, and numerous other activities to commemorate Older Americans Month.

This year’s theme is “Connect, Create and Contribute.” One of the ways Castle Senior Living looks to enrich the lives of older persons is by encouraging them to get outdoors. With the arrival of May on the calendar, we’re mostly in the clear for beautiful weather and it’s an ideal time to participate in the following:

  • Gardening/Planting vegetables – Not only is it beneficial to grow your own fruits and vegetables, but the activity is an enjoyable way get some exercise. Seniors can increase their level of physical activity by gardening. It also boosts mobility, flexibility, endurance, and engages all of their motor skills. It can even help prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Birdwatching – Even if older people are not very mobile, caregivers can establish a comfortable environment for birdwatching indoors through an open or closed window. Those who might be wheelchair-bound can easily go outside and be pushed along a path or park by a grove of trees to observe our feathered friends. Escaping into nature calms the body, mind and spirit.
  • Walking – For those who are fully mobile, walking is ideal. Light to moderate aerobic exercise along a path at home or in a park allows seniors to maintain their desired level of fitness. Some activity may include slow walks on a flat surface or embarking on longer hikes, especially for those accustomed to more demanding physical routines.
  • Music – Attending an outdoor concert is a great place to socialize. Engaging in conversation with others seated nearby or even singing along with the music helps seniors improve their speech and self-esteem. Music also provides an outlet for self-expression, boosts mood and memory recall, and can even lead to a better night’s sleep.
  • Short trips and outings – Taking short excursions away from home is important to help older persons enjoy the many entertaining activities where they live. Day trips to sporting events like baseball games, the local zoo or a farmer’s market help to expand their social circles and reduce any feeling of isolation they might be experiencing from the outside world.

While we encourage our residents to go outside every day that has nice weather, we also schedule specific events outside. Every Thursday in May, Castle residents will take part in outdoor exploring, but they won’t have to travel far. Instead, seniors will get their hands dirty in our planters, tucking seeds into the soil to grow seasonings or vegetables for our chefs to use in the kitchen, or raising flowers to add a touch of color to their view.

An “Eggcelent” Easter Egg Hunt

By Senior LivingNo Comments

On April 17, Castle Senior Living hosted an Easter Egg Hunt with Seniors at the Grand Hills Castle. We had numerous residents, volunteers and families involved with over 20 children taking part in the hunt. The children were able to follow the tracks of the Easter Bunny, find hidden eggs and enjoy candy popcorn. Both seniors and children had a great time!


Birchrock Castle: A Q&A with Candy Mings

By Senior LivingNo Comments

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Candy Mings, the administrator at our Birchrock Castle location, and ask her a few questions. Here is what she had to say.


What do you enjoy most about working for Castle?

 There are so many things that I like about my job. What I love most is knowing that I work for a dedicated and compassionate family-owned company. I admire the sincerity and caring foundation on which Castle Senior Living was built and how it continues to evolve each day.


 What are the qualities or special skills that you bring to Birchrock Castle?

 So far, my life’s journey has afforded me the opportunity to work with seniors in various aspects of my career. I began as a caregiver, then became a nurse and now I’m an administrator.  I continue to learn valuable lessons and glean knowledge from others in the profession. I strive to use my experience to enrich the lives of my seniors, their loved ones and my staff. My compassion for others knows no limits. I believe my most special skill is creating a little sunshine by putting a smile on someone’s face.


What are the trends that you think are impacting senior living services right now?

 One shift is the move toward a more home-like living environment for seniors. Nearly thirty years ago when I started as a caregiver, industry practices were more much institutionalized and restrictive. Now, we ask our residents what they want and our facilities are providing it for them. We know they deserve to have what makes their life more fulfilling and enriching.

There is plenty of competition out there with big, beautiful facilities, but what I always impress upon families is to take a look inside and consider the level of care first. Make sure it is where they want it to be and that there are good people taking care of their loved ones. Birchrock is a smaller senior living community, but I know what we have here is a gold mine. I don’t take it for granted.

Recruiting and retaining good employees is important to maintain a high level of care, so I demonstrate to my employees the joy they can find in this career. One of my favorite moments is when I’m mentoring my caregivers. Rules and regulations are necessary, but at the end of the day I always ask my team to bring their thoughts and ideas to me. If someone has a better idea, let’s work through it together.


What’s the most interesting project or idea you are working on right now?

 My community was acquired by Castle Senior Living within the past year and it’s been a tremendous opportunity to be part of that transformation. I’m working on several projects to ensure that Birchrock Castle will remain one of the best assisted living communities in the area.


What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned on the job?

 I believe it’s staying true to myself and to never forget why I choose a career in healthcare. To me, it’s about making a difference in the lives of others, to demonstrate kindness and show empathy to those in need. I want to teach the next generation of caregivers how this profession is truly life-enriching.


What are you most passionate about at work?

 I would say it’s my role as an advocate for the seniors in my community. They deserve to live their life to the fullest regardless of age, diagnosis, physical or mental status.  Seniors have the right to be heard and I am honored to be their voice of support.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

 I enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family, including my son, Toby, and his wife, Christi, my daughters, Summer and Sundae, and my puppy, Daisy. I am excited that spring is here. I’m a gardener. I love planting flowers and creating bright, beautiful beds of blooms.


If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be the one thing you’d want to have with you and why?

 If I were stranded on a desert island, there is only one thing I need: Blake Shelton. Sun on my face, sand between my toes, the warm ocean breeze and a tall beautiful country singer. I’ll take a one-way ticket please!

When is it time for mom and dad to give up driving?

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Driving and freedom. These words are paired together from the very first day you get your driver’s license. And that’s why this conversation is one that adult children dread – asking mom or dad to consider giving up their sense of independence and the car keys for their own personal safety and that of others on the road.

Studies show that cognitive decline in older adult drivers can lead to their becoming disoriented and getting lost while in control of a motor vehicle.

If you have concerns about how a parent is handling him or herself behind the wheel, AAA says there are some common warning signs you should look for:

  • Working the pedals – How are they handling their legs, feet and toes when using the gas and brake pedals? If they’re confused or lifting their legs to move from the gas to the brakes, it could mean a loss of leg strength.
  • Road rules – Are they sliding through or not even braking for stops signs or other traffic signals? Are they weaving in and out of lanes or drifting in traffic? Do they use their turn signals when changing lanes or check side and rearview mirrors for other drivers?
  • Speed up, slow down – Is your parent using the horn or passing other drivers when traffic is slowed down? This could mean they are having trouble keeping up with driving conditions that require quick decision-making.
  • Tickets and accidents – An increase in traffic violations or fender benders is a cause for concern. Listen if neighbors witness any driving incidents or if your children riding with grandma and grandpa notice they are having problems behind the wheel.

If you recognize one or more of these signs, experts say prepare for a conversation with mom or dad with several key points in mind.

First, be calm and supportive during the discussion. Giving up driving privileges is a loss of freedom for many older adults and may be difficult for them to accept. Second, keep a positive tone. Share alternatives to driving such as cab or Uber rides, or a senior car service. No matter what, assure your mom or dad that they can still maintain their active lifestyle while leaving the driving to someone else. Sometimes a change in perspective is needed: having someone drive them isn’t taking away a freedom, the act of doing the activity they are traveling to is the freedom.

No matter what this can be a difficult conversation. Take time to assess the situation and talk it over with siblings, friends and other loved ones, but avoid an intervention. A candid, private conversation is the best way to start. And be confident that the safety of your parent and others is at the heart of this decision.

Career Fair at the Grand Hills Castle

By Senior LivingNo Comments

On April 4, 2019 Castle Senior Living will be having a Career Fair at our Grand Hills Castle location (13050 W Cleveland Ave., New Berlin, WI 53151). We will be conducting open interviews for caregiver positions (1st, 2nd and 3rd shifts). No need to apply online. Just show up between 10:30 a.m – 2 p.m on April 4th and we can walk you through the application and interview process.

For additional information you can review this document.

For further questions, contact our Staff Coordinator, Angela Barbee:

What should seniors be eating to maintain a well-balanced diet?

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Feeling energized and healthy starts with eating the right amount of nutrients to maintain a healthy weight, ward off illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease and contribute to overall wellness. That is one of the many reasons why Castle Senior Living provides homestyle (and often chef-prepared) meals for our residents.

So, what should seniors include on their breakfast, lunch and dinner plates each day? Consider the following suggestions from Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • Lean proteins – Chicken, turkey, seafood and eggs are great options. Don’t forget about beans, another beneficial source of protein.
  • Fruits and vegetables – When selecting produce, keep these colors in mind: orange, red, green and purple. The darker the fruit or vegetable, the better it is for you. Fresh is best, but frozen is recommended when produce is out of season.
  • Whole grains – Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal and flaxseed are part of a high fiber diet that helps stabilize blood sugar and boost digestive health.
  • Low-fat dairy – Milk, cheese and yogurt provide protein and calcium for bone and muscles and to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Fats – Make sure fats are healthy, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best for preparing food.

Variety is key, so mix up your selections to gain the most nutritional value and curb any chances of becoming bored from eating similar meals day after day.

Along with the right choices, there are foods that despite their health benefits, some experts recommend people avoid as they age:

  • Undercooked proteins – Eggs, meat and seafood can cause food poisoning if they are under-cooked. Seniors are at high risk of an infection, which can lead to sepsis and septic shock.
  • Grapefruit – It’s a breakfast staple many people enjoy, but be mindful of eating grapefruit if taking prescription medications. Some drugs – especially those prescribed for high blood pressure, anxiety or insomnia – can be dangerous if grapefruit is a part of a diet. Check drug labels for information.
  • Caffeine – Found in coffee, teas, soda, chocolate and some medications, caffeine can be troublesome for people with heart conditions because it can increase heart rates or cause an irregular heartbeat.
  • Sodium – Put down the salt shaker and regularly read food labels for sodium levels. People over age 70 should make sure their sodium intake is no more than 1.2 grams per day. Use herbs and spices to better flavor your food.
  • Alcohol – Chronic illnesses like diabetes or those taking painkillers, antihistamines or high blood pressure medications means alcoholic drinks are off limits.

This advice is important for senior health, but always consult with your primary care physician for recommendations on individual dietary needs before implementing a daily meal routine.

The Stages of Dementia and How it can be Prevented

By Senior LivingNo Comments
Dementia has many forms, overall it is a chronic or progressive disorder that causes memory loss, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. The most common form of dementia is, Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is progressive loss of memory sometimes due to primary or secondary injuries to the brain.
Alzheimer’s affects 5.3 million Americans age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 Americans have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. It’s an unavoidable fact that the older an adult gets the more at risk they are of getting dementia. Unfortunately, dementia runs deeper than Alzheimer as it takes form in vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia.
Vascular dementia is the second leading form of dementia which occurs when the  blood vessels that supply blood to the brain are damaged. Things like strokes or chronic wear and tear can cause damage to the blood vessels. Frontotemporal dementia is a disease that is characterized by the degeneration of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobe is in charge of emotional expressions and problem solving skills along with memory. For a better lack of description, it is the control center for personality and communication skills. The temporal lobe is similar to the frontal lobe in the sense that it also contributes to memory and emotion. It is located behind the ears and extends to both sides of the brain rendering it responsible for vision and sensory input  as well.
There are three distinct stages that can verify whether a person has dementia or not. The first stage is commonly known as the early stage and it includes signs of forgetfulness, losing track of time, and becoming lost in familiar place. The second, or middle stage consists of a person being lost in their own home, having increased difficulty communicating with others, and overall behavioral changes. The last stage of dementia includes being unaware of time and place, difficulty recognizing loved ones, and an increased need for assisted self care. Behavioral changes may also escalate and cause aggression with an individual.
The cure for dementia is an ongoing process. There is no current treatment but some cures are being investigated in various stages throughout clinical trials. It’s not necessary to wait for scientists and doctors to find a cure for dementia though. Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent the risk of getting dementia. Here are five tips on what one can do to prevent dementia in their life:


  1. Be Physically Active – The idea of being active isn’t limited to those looking to lose weight. Keeping in shape is good for your heart and your mental wellbeing.
  2. Don’t Smoke – There is an ongoing battle to reduce the amount of smokers in the U.S. and for good reason. Smoking causes arteries to narrow which leads to a rise in blood pressure. This can lead to a stroke or weakening of the brain’s blood vessels.
  3. Maintain a Balanced Diet – A healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables and low levels of red meats and sugars. It is also important to watch salt intake as too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. Try to cut down on saturated fat, found in cake, butter products, and most cheeses.
  4. Control Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol is another factor that can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol so keeping drinking to a minimum. The recommended daily limit of alcohol for men is 3–4 units and for women is 2–3 units. A unit of alcohol is roughly equal to 8g.
  5. Exercise Your Brain –This task is much easier than it sounds. By performing everyday actions such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, or learning something new can keep your mind active.

Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is Critical!

By Senior LivingNo Comments

The most common form of dementia today is Alzheimer’s Disease.  This disease creates incredible challenges for one’s memory, thinking, and overall behavior.  The symptoms of this horrible disease do not develop quickly but rather slowly and quietly. Early diagnosis of this disease is very important in helping to determine proper treatment plans.

The symptoms for Alzheimer’s is not the same everyone. A person that is in the early stages may still be able to carry on normal functions such as driving, going to work and but start to notice some minor changes.  I could be identifying what word to use, remembering someone’s name, completing normally regular tasks, or forgetting activities that were routine and usual.  A person with early stage Alzheimers could also forget items that were just read or viewed and regularly put items in places they forget.

Here are some of the reasons why the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is important:

  • The symptom may actually be associated with something other condition completely unrelated to Alzheimer’s.  Such illnesses could be depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and more.  A doctor should be seen in order to gain a proper diagnosis.
  • Early diagnosis may give someone a much better chance for treatments.  While not every case is the same and the severities are always different; early detection and treatment can make a huge difference.  It can offer continued freedom and possibly slow the decline.   
  • It offers more time for the patient and the family to understand the disease.  This can be particularly helpful with reducing overall stress and to develop realistic expectations of the disease and any treatments that are available.
  • Early detection can also help with planning.  Many decisions will need to be made regarding overall care, living options, legal and financial matters, and creating plans
  • that benefits the patient’s future quality of life.
  • Caregivers and family members of the Alzheimer’s patients benefit from early detection  because it allows them to be better prepared for every phase of the disease, its treatment, and the emotions that accompany affecting them and their loved one or patient.
home care escort

Healthy Eating Habits Equal Healthier Seniors

By Senior LivingNo Comments

We all know that as we get older that our appetites can change and that we don’t metabolize our food the same way as we did when we were younger. We need to watch what we eat and how many calories we are taking in on a daily basis.  Making poor choices can lead to weight gain, immune system issues, reduced energy levels and more. The good news is that there are many ways that can help seniors be more active, improve mental awareness, boost the immune system and just feel better living longer and stronger!  Here are some of the things we can do to help create healthy eating habits.

Some of the ways to promote healthy eating habits among seniors include:

  • Don’t increase the size of the plate or portion sizes.  Instead of increasing the amount of food; increase the heaviness of it to create a fuller feeling.
  • Eat at regular times and keep to the routine.  Our bodies work optimally when a schedule is kept.  Don’t skip meals either.
  • Eat with other people!  Sometimes eating alone can cause a decreased appetite.  Socialized has been known to improve the amount of food that is eaten.    
  • Make the food that are eaten more tantalizing.  Add seasonings, sauces, or other items to increase the smell factor.
  • Don’t drink lots of liquids before or during the meal. Increased liquid consumption can create a full feeling and decrease an appetite.

It can be very hard for some seniors to maintain the proper eating habits as they get older.  Following some of these ideas will certainly help to achieve good nutritional balance. It is important that we should be very aware of what our senior loved ones are eating in order to help them live longer and stronger lives.


Source: American Senior Communities (