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Journaling has become a popular pastime in recent years. From art journals to bullet journals, people are recognizing the health benefits of self-expression. Caregivers who make time to journal find it has the power to boost mood, improve problem-solving skills, reduce stress, and more.
5 Ways Journaling Improves Health
How to Start a Journal
Figuring out how to get started can be a barrier to reaping the rewards of journaling. We have a few ideas to make it a little easier for you to begin.
Most people know how important physical activity is to aging well. While we might not always be successful, we try to set and stick with our fitness goals. What you may not know, however, is how vital it is to give our brain the daily workout that it needs to stay healthy, too.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. But by improving your brain health through mental exercise, it’s possible to reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
In honor of National Brain Awareness Week, we are sharing suggestions on what you can do to keep your brain fit.
Brain Aerobics & Healthy Aging
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, there are three ways you can improve brain health:
Here are a few activities that meet those criteria:
Many find the process of moving to be a daunting task. Even more so, the transition to senior living can bring additional emotion and stress. Although your loved one may have moved many times in their life, this move is an entirely different experience. The thought of moving a lifetime of memories from a large home to a small apartment style suite can be overwhelming. But a move to senior living involves much more than coordinating the logistics of the move, it can be an emotionally trying time for your family. To cope with the stress involved in the move, remind yourself that eventually this journey you’re embarking on will lead to an improved quality of life for your loved one. The benefits your family and loved one will experience will reassure you that you are making the right decision.
Work as a team in utilizing all your resources, your senior living community team, physician and family members. Discuss with your loved one your involvement and as a family establish a plan and timeline of how the move will take place. Keep in mind that the thought of downsizing a home will be overwhelming to your loved one. Keep your focus on the items they use on a daily basis, rather than looking at how all their possessions will fit in their new home. Often after the move a senior will feel a sense of relief. Many feel a weight lifted as the thought of dealing with the care of the home and all that it holds has been organized and taken care of for them.
You will likely find yourselves helping to pack and move the items yourself. Rummaging through old photos and reminiscing of memories that took place in your family home may bring the feeling of guilt. Don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. There are many resources available to help with this transition. You do not have to take this all on yourself. Your team at Sunrise can help give you excellent referrals for local movers and senior relocation specialists who will help you with every step of the move.
Adjusting to a new community and environment can be frightening and all of this coupled with new social interactions is a lot for any senior to adjust to. This adjustment period may take some time, even several months or more. It is crucial that during this time you and your family reassure your loved one and keep an open mind. At Sunrise we see first hand the many ways our resident’s lives improve while in a community. It can be hard to imagine how your loved one will be happy in their new home if they are having difficulty adjusting. Be patient and keep an open mind. The team at the community will work to help your loved one blossom while meeting new friends.
During the transition it is important that as a family you continue to visit and support the move, however too much ‘hand-holding’ may inhibit their independence. Allow your loved one space and time to adjust to their new home and develop new friendships and establish trust within their community.
Focusing on what will be gained rather than the physical items that may be lost will help your loved one and family through this transition. Looking at the big picture and the many benefits that will come with a move to senior living will help you get through the stress of the transition. You will be reassured of your decision once your loved one is settled in their new community and you witness their gained independence and improved quality of life.
The number of adults taking on the role of a caregiver for a loved one is growing as the baby boomer generation - the world's largest population - reaches old age. Approximately 44 million adults 18 or older care for an aging relative or friend in the U.S., according to AARP's most recent statistics. It's important that health professionals ensure these caregivers keep their mental and physical health in check, as providing full-time support can be a challenging task.
Although being there for a family member can be very rewarding at times, stress is an inevitable feeling that many caregivers will face. The Mayo Clinic noted that guilt is one of the common emotions experienced while caring for a loved one. For example, not spending enough time with relatives and losing patience with them frequently causes caregivers to feel guilty.
As guilt can begin to impact caregivers' well-being, health providers should help them manage this negative emotion. Providing advice on how to maintain their happiness and general health will help caregivers remain in better control of their emotions. Here are a few suggestions to consider making:
Focus on what you can control
AARP pointed out that caregivers often feel guilt over situations they can't control. These circumstances may include caregivers' inability to spend more time with an aging loved one because they live far away or because they have responsibilities to children or spouses. Remind patients that no one is perfect and that they should never feel guilty over things they have no power over. If caregivers try to do more than they're able to, this will only negatively impact both them and their aging family members.
Barry Jacobs, a psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers, told AARP that encouraging caregivers to accept that emotions like guilt and stress are going to occur every so often, and that this is normal, will assist them in dealing with their guilt.
"You love the person you're caring for, but you hate the caregiving," said Jacobs. "That's normal."
Look for and accept help when needed
Caregivers may find that they simply do not have the time or resources they once had to support their family member. This happens a lot when a relative's condition begins to worsen and he or she starts to require care that's often provided by a trained caregiver. In this case, Caregiverstress.com noted that it may be a good idea to recommend looking into assisted living homes where seniors are supported at all times and are surrounded by others experiencing similar health problems to prevent feelings of loneliness or isolation. Remind caregivers that while this may cause guilt initially, as seniors begin to settle in and become comfortable in their new home, chances are they will see that their caregivers made this decision to benefit them.
Advise patients to join local support groups, especially if they inform you that in addition to feeling guilty, they're overwhelmed, constantly stressed or exhausted. The Mayo Clinic explained that being near like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar issues can provide the encouragement and support they need to view their situations in a different light. Keeping other family members or friends updated on what's going on and alerting them when extra help is needed will also be beneficial to caregivers.
Pencil in a few hours for yourself
Inform caregivers that taking care of themselves often determines the quality of support they're able to provide for their loved ones. Caregiverstress.com noted that eating healthily, getting enough sleep and staying physically active are necessary steps to ensure that caregivers are properly balancing their loved ones' needs with their own. After all, impatience and frustration are often the result of exhaustion or poor mental health.
If you’ve ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt, you’ve probably reaped some of the health benefits of humor. It’s more than just a cliché—laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps with everything from boosting mood to burning calories.
Researchers say there are both short-term and long-term benefits associated with making laughter a part of your everyday life.
Short-Term Health Benefits of Laughter
Experts say enjoying a hearty laugh with friends provides benefits similar to a mild workout: elevated heart rate, reduced stress, and increased blood flow throughout the body. It also helps you burn a few calories! According to Maciej Buchowski, a laugh researcher from Vanderbilt University, you can burn as many as 50 calories from 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.
For weary caregivers or seniors struggling with a chronic illness, this reduction in stress might also help boost your immune system. When your immune system is strengthened, you become better able to fight off germs and viruses.
Laughing for Long-Term Health
10 Ways to Laugh More Every Day
A cell phone can make a great holiday gift for an older adult. While many seniors have one, they often purchase these devices with few features. These traditional phones may have keys that are too small for hands with arthritis to manage, or screens that are difficult on older eyes.
Upgrading to a smartphone—that can connect to the internet and download apps—can make everyday life easier. But it can also put a senior at risk for problems like text messaging scams and identity theft.
Here are a few things to consider before you buy a smartphone for a senior this holiday season.
If you aren’t sure what type of smartphone to purchase, here are two to consider:
Finally, remember to take the monthly service plan fee into consideration before you purchase a smartphone.
Smartphone Safety Issues to Review with Seniors
Don’t forget to review potential safety concerns with your loved one after they open their holiday gift. Some might not be aware of the security risks smartphones can present, such as:
At Sunrise, our residents enjoy the benefits of technology, just like younger generations. After all, email, online photo-sharing, and browsing the Internet are all part of keeping up with loved ones and with the world.
The holidays are a time of year when many families pause to enjoy quality time together. Decorating the tree. Lighting the Menorah. Exchanging gifts. Every family has their own traditions. But for older adults who live on a fixed income, the holidays can take a big bite out of their budget. This is especially true when it comes to buying gifts for all of the grandchildren.
This year, instead of spending a lot of money on gifts, consider other ways you can celebrate the season with your grandchildren.
Creating Meaningful Holiday Memories
Here are a few ideas to help you manage your budget while bonding with the grandkids:
Finally, if you live in an assisted living community, take a look at the holiday programs scheduled there. You can invite each grandchild to pick their favorite activity.
With a rich variety of life enrichment activities to choose from at Sunrise, each member of the younger generation will surely find an activity the two of you can enjoy together.
Decking the halls or hosting seasonal celebrations can present a time management challenge for all of us. For already overwhelmed caregivers, however, the added pressures of the season can be downright exhausting.
Four in ten family caregivers say they just can’t manage it all on their own when the holidays roll around. Not asking for help can cause caregivers to withdraw and avoid celebrating the holidays altogether.
But caregivers deserve to celebrate the holidays, too. They need time to relax and enjoy family and friends.
Here are a few ways caregivers can participate in the holidays without experiencing burnout or depression.
Preventing Holiday Related Caregiver Overload
From shopping and decorating to attending cocktail parties, holiday season is a busy time for most. All of the hustle and bustle can leave you feeling a little worn out.
And when that happens, your immune system weakens—making it easier for the flu bug to make an appearance.
What can you do to shoo the flu this holiday season?
Here are a few steps caregivers and seniors can take.
5 Influenza Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
If, despite your best efforts, you think you’ve been bitten by the flu bug, call your doctor right away. There are prescription antiviral medications that can help if prescribed in time. While they might not be able to keep you from developing a case of influenza, they can help shorten the amount of time you are sick or lessen the severity of flu symptoms.
Safety is always a top priority for the caregiver of a senior loved one. But during the holiday season, one specific risk becomes even more important to consider: fires.
Seniors face twice the risk of being seriously injured or losing their life in a fire. Those over the age of 85 have almost five times higher risk. While older adults account for only 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 35 percent of the deaths caused by fires.
Here are a few tips to review and share with your older loved ones to help keep them safe this holiday season.
7 Fire Safety Tips for Seniors during the Holidays
What Type of Senior Care Does a Loved One Need?
We understand that you often return home to spend time with older parents during the holiday season. And many times the topic of senior living options comes up. If you suspect it’s time for a change, we can help you determine what level of care might be the best fit.
The source to a beautiful life is to live humble, love everyone and treat all people as you would wish to be treated.
To be continued....
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