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Senior Living

Benefits of Staying Active

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Exercise is always one of the key elements for a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t change as you grow older. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost all older people can benefit from increased physical activity. Seniors who stay active benefit in a number of ways from improving memory to strengthening social relationships, or even preventing depression. This report from the Surgeon General talks in detail about this.

Exercise Improves Mood

Exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins which helps you feel better and can lessen feelings of depression. So if you are experiencing depression or mood swings, exercise may help re-direct negative thoughts and provide support.

If you’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high,” you’ve experienced how being active can impact your mood and disposition.

Exercise is a Social Activity

Humans are social beings and for many older adults, exercise becomes a social event. A group that walks together regularly gets to chat about the latest news and gossip. A water aerobics class gives the chance to connect with other seniors. Being active in a group provides accountability and helps you stay motivated and engaged. This results in improved health both physically and socially.

Exercise Increases Mental Capacity

Being physically active has been linked to slowing mental decline. An active body receives more blood flow, every part of it, including your brain. More blood flow encourages more cell growth which leads to better mental health and improved cognitive functioning.

Exercise Improves Healing

The older we are, the longer it can take us to heal. Exercise helps with that. Active adults may see wounds that heal as much as 25 percent faster than those who do not exercise. Beginning an exercise program or being active prior to an injury or surgical procedure allows you to benefit from improved healing and a faster recovery.

Exercise Improves Strength and Mobility

Keeping your body strong is one of the most important tasks for an older adult. It comes as no surprise that exercise is the best way to improve both strength and mobility. Seniors who sit around and aren’t active can suffer with difficulty breathing, poor blood flow, atrophied muscles, unsteady balance and more. Even a short walk a few times each day has benefits.

What exercises can seniors do?

  • Aerobic and Endurance Exercises
    • Walking, stationary cycling and swimming
  • Strength and Resistance Training
    • Utilize weights, resistance bands, and Nautilus machines
    • Bodyweight exercises (lunges, sit-ups, leg raises, etc.)
  • Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
    • Yoga, Pilates
    • Helps muscles warm up and cool down gradually, improves and maintains flexibility, prevents injury, and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.

For those who are more limited in what they can do, consult with your doctor and exercise in an organized and controlled setting. Swimming, yoga and water aerobics are excellent low-impact options that are less jarring to the body.

A few minutes with Howard, a resident of Emerald Castle

By Senior LivingNo Comments

When seniors consider making the move to an assisted living facility, most would agree that experiencing the sights and sounds of what will be their new home is a necessary first step. But 88-year old Howard, a former West Coast resident, came to Emerald Castle in Greenfield in June of 2011 location unseen, putting his trust in lifelong friends from southeast Wisconsin to choose a place for him.

“I have no relatives other than distant ones,” says Howard. “Most of my friends live within Milwaukee area, and they knew I was planning to come to Wisconsin.

“I told them I would like to move closer, so they found Castle Senior Living and escorted me by plane from California. When I arrived, they had a group of people waiting here and hosted a ‘Welcome Home’ party for me.”

Howard says he knew instantly that Emerald Castle was a good fit for him and that there are many benefits to the living space.

“I have a lot of privacy. They leave me alone as much as I like,” he chuckled.

Howard says there are times when he participates in social activities and joins other residents in the common areas, especially to watch old movies. But he appreciates the freedom to retreat to his room and his quiet surroundings.

“Everyone is personable here, but after we share a meal, we break away from the table and each go our own way. I think others are just like me. We enjoy our independence.”

Howard says some of his neighbors have come and gone the past eight years since he moved in, but he’s maintained a strong connection with the Castle staff.

“The caretakers are nice to me, and always cheerful and upbeat. Deb, our house manager, and Iris, a certified caregiver, were here when I first arrived. You get very good personal care. The staff are warm and receptive.

“If I have a question, I’ll ask Iris and she’ll do research if she doesn’t know the answer and present it to me once she finds out about it. I like her for that. If I want to know about something, she does the homework for me.”

When the weather is warm and sunny, you’ll find Howard outside in the Emerald courtyard, with most of the house joining him there. He is fond of the dining service, especially the spaghetti. And Howard has no qualms about moving from the West Coast to the Midwest. He really doesn’t miss the change of weather. When it’s cold, he simply stays inside.

“I was in a couple of different places before coming here and those facilities were not as nice as Emerald Castle. Even before they brought me here, I had a feeling that this would be right for me. I’ve liked it from the very start. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

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

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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

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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

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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.