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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.
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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 (

Senior Activities: 4 Benefits of Staying Active

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Did you make a resolution to be more active in 2017? If you did, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your goals. Depending on your geographic location, chilly weather and dangerous road conditions might be keeping you indoors, or you might just be feeling less than motivated to get up and be active now that the New Year energy has waned.

In the hopes of increasing your motivation to participate in more senior activities all year round, here is a list of four benefits of staying active in your senior years. You might be surprised to see how a little activity can positively affect many facets of your life and health. Here’s to getting involved with senior activities that you love—and new ones to appreciate—this year.

1. Staying Active Decreases Depression

Participating in your favorite senior activities can have significant benefits for your mental health. Besides the extra release of endorphins (the “feel good” chemical your brain sends out when you are physically active), there has been documented research that shows a correspondence between exercise and decreased depression in seniors. In tandem with medication and psychotherapy, consistent exercise of any type can be an effective part of depression treatment in seniors.

2. Staying Active Decreases Falls

Staying active, whether through neighborhood walks or range-of-motion exercises, can lead to a bevy of physical benefits that can lead to decreased falls. Consistent activity can lead to increased strength in the upper and lower extremities, which can make transfers safer and lessen the risk of a fall. Further, sustained exercise can increase endurance, improve balance, develop flexibility, and increase spatial awareness; each of these can work together to decrease the chance of a fall, even when a small trip may occur. With falls as one of the biggest health risks to seniors, you would be wise to decrease your chances by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

3. Staying Active Increases Social Networks

Socialization is extremely important at any phase of life but especially with aging adults. A network of supportive and encouraging peers can lead to a higher quality of life for seniors. If you are able to participate in senior activities that are held in small or large group settings, do so! It is easy to make friends when you already have something in common or are going to see each other at weekly yoga classes. Socialization and friendships have been linked to decreased stress in seniors, along with feelings of belonging. Don’t miss a chance to make a new friend; consider participating in group programs.

4. Staying Active Increases Cognitive Health

Finally, adding exercise routines to your daily life that incorporate memorization or crossing the midline can increase your cognitive health and even slow down the progress of dementia. Activities such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi are excellent examples of cognition-boosting senior activities; don’t worry—you can still participate in these programs from a chair if you aren’t able to stand for the class.

Your favorite activities can keep you busy and provide benefits for all aspects of your life. Resist the temptation to settle in for a long winter’s nap; instead, choose to stay active for your health and happiness. And you just might make a new friend or find a new favorite hobby.



This article was written by Francine O’Neill. She has served as a clinical resource for resident care directors, overseeing ongoing quality improvement programs and regulatory compliance. She assists with identifying and implementing programs that enhance care delivery and service to our residents and their families. Francine has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, serving in both clinical leadership and operations management positions across the continuum of care including assisted living, long term care and acute care. Francine’s favorite traits in others are COMMITTMENT and ACCOUNTABILITY.

It’s Spring…Get Outside! Activities to Enjoy this Spring

By Senior LivingNo Comments
Now that the weather is starting to get warmer and the winter chill is certainly gone, it’s time to get outside and get active! Here are some fun ideas to get active now that Spring has sprung.
  • Gardening! This is undoubtedly one of the best spring activities for seniors. Even if you have some limited mobility, modifications can be made to allow you to participate in many garden activities. Pulling weeds and planting flowers increases your physical activity levels by improving flexibility and endurance. Gardening has mental health benefits, too; it can relax you, reduce your stress and give you a rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
  • Start a daily walking routine. Walking is one of the best exercises for seniors, and spring is the perfect season to head outside and enjoy a walk through the neighborhood or nearby park. If you can, find a buddy to walk with to help make this a social activity you look forward to daily.
  • Start spring cleaning tasks. Did you know clutter can increase your stress levels? It’s true! Getting organized is a great spring cleaning chore, so take a few days and start going through the storage spaces in your home and clearing out some of the items you no longer need on a daily basis. You can even get family members to help and share memories as you go through your belongings. Plus, they can help you make some decisions about what to keep and what to donate, sell or throw away.
  • Enjoy a picnic in the park. Pack a picnic basket with some snacks, grab a blanket and find a grassy area to sit outside and simply bask in the sun to get some much-needed vitamin D (just don’t forget the sunscreen!). Or, enjoy lunch on your favorite patio at your senior living community or local restaurant.
  • Feed the birds. Bird-watching is a stimulating activity many seniors enjoy. Head to a park and feed the ducks and geese some cracked corn, or hang a bird feeder outside your window to enjoy watching them feast right in the comfort of your home.
  • Have fun with the grandkids. Children love being outside, so find some activities you can enjoy together. For instance, kite-flying or drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk.
  • Shop at a local farmer’s market. Spring is a great season to visit farmer’s markets in your area and wander through them, plus you can potentially get some great deals on fruits, vegetables, flowers or crafts.
What senior activities will you enjoy this spring?
Article: Courtesy of American Senior Communities. May 2016.

Assisted Living versus Skilled Nursing

By Senior LivingNo Comments

There are often questions or confusions between assisted living and skilled nursing.  Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two.

A skilled nursing facility is often used after the patient has been in the hospital or had a rapid or quick decline in their health.  Most often, a stay in a skilled facility is usually shorter in term and is really focused on the rehabilitation of the patient. The intention for this patient is to return to the independance they experienced prior to needing the skilled facilities services.  However, for patients that require a higher level of care due to significant medical need or physical impairments; permanent placement is also available.  A skilled nursing facility has more of a hospital feel to it with shared rooms versus a homey feeling in assisted living facilities.

When we hear assisted living, the meaning is in the term itself.  Assisted living is simply providing assistance to individuals who need help with activities of daily living.  These are bathing, dressing, grooming, taking medications, and preparing meals. The help that is provided is one in a setting that is relaxed and homey in feeling.  This assistance is NOT intended to be temporary.  One of the great things about assisted living is the freedoms that remain intact for people to be able enjoy socializing, hobbies and still be able to set all their own schedules without the help of anyone.

What’s Better? Bigger or Smaller Facilities?

By Senior LivingNo Comments

When it comes to choosing and comparing facilities for our loved ones, many ask what is better.  A larger facility that feels like a hotel or a more simple and homier setting.  Regardless of the size, comparing these facilities is a critical step in making sure that the hoe we choose is the best for them and their comfort levels.  It is important to point out that there is more to looking at a home besides comfort.  You need to look at every aspect of the facility.  Including how they hire, average length of employment of the employees, flexibility and their reputation.  We will examine some of the benefits in using a smaller facility versus a larger one in this article.

It feels like home….

It goes without saying that as people grow older they need more specialized attention.  And some of these situations may mean that your loved one will need to be at a facility to aide in their care. For the most part larger facilities tend to feel like an institution versus having a homier feel like a smaller and more personal home may have.  This is especially important for elderly patients that may be suffering with dementia because a smaller setting may feel calmer and more like home.  Plus, those who deal with confusion may find it easier.

The personal touch!

In larger bed facilities, the tendency is to have larger staffs to serve the patients because the frame of thought is that it helps with the overall efficiency and effectiveness in care. The problem lies in that larger facilities could have larger turnover bringing out mistrust between the patients and the staff.  Smaller facilities tend to strive for a more intimate and personal approach so the residents feel confident in the staff and form bonds.

The Social Side

Smaller bed facilities can offer an advantage to many seniors because the flexibility in the social setting is most likely greater and a bit more peaceful and enjoyable for the residents.  There can be a downside too at times.  With a smaller amount of residents comes the fact that everybody may know what everyone else is doing. But the opportunities to make stronger friendships in smaller facilities is greater than larger homes due to the intimacy and frequency of seeing the same people.  Where in larger facilities the opportunity is greater to meet more new people on a continual basis.  

Choosing a nursing home can be challenging and seem daunting at times.  Taking in all the factors can be confusing and anxious.  Always keep in mind the personality of the loved one and what their preferences are.  Because in the end, that is very important.