One of the hardest aspects of aging is the way family and friends tend to fade into the background as we retire from longtime jobs, see acquaintances less often, lose contacts or spouses to death and illness, and we get out less as mobility becomes harder. It appears somewhat inevitable for seniors to become increasingly isolated from their social contacts.
At Morningside of College Park, we’re keenly aware of the importance of the “community” part of a senior living community. That means creating a place that feels like home, designed for sharing, friendship, and activities to maintain mental and physical well-being.
Human beings tend to feel less anxious or depressed when ties exist based on trust, connection, and participation. An aging parent may feel apprehensive staying in a long-time home if he or she is all that’s left there, surrounded by neighbors who may not be familiar or helpful.
There have been many studies to find positive health impacts among those with strong social interactions in senior circles.
In one study, Bryan James, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, looked at 1,100 seniors without dementia, measuring their social activity levels, then following up over the next 12 years. Findings: The rate of cognitive decline was 70 percent less in people with frequent social contact than those with low social activity.
Another study by the same researcher looked at seniors’ ability to care for themselves. Those with more frequent social activity maintained lower levels of disability, allowing them to live independently longer than their less social counterparts.
Even when James statistically controlled for risk factors like smoking or a history of disease or smoking, he still found that those with high levels of social activity have 43 percent less disability than those with low levels of social activity, and about half the rate of cognitive decline.
The implication is that removing an aging parent from a home where he or she spends most of the time alone watching TV, possibly anxious about crime in the neighborhood, can potentially expand life-span – and the quality of the life lived. Failure to act might spell disaster for the emotional and physical health of a loved one.
The Solution? Relocating to a community of people with similar interests, life experiences, and values. Mom and/or dad can be around peers their own age rather than isolated among neighbors who may be vastly younger.
You need only look at Morningside’s June newsletter to see seniors smiling and enjoying each other’s company. Residents will come together to learn how to prevent falls, paint with watercolors, cool off with refreshing soda floats, sip a beer at the Father’s Day Luncheon, enjoy a camp-themed luncheon in the Brass Rose Dining Room, or tap their feet to the musical stylings of Toby and Collette of The Joymaker’s or listen to Doug DeBaun play in guitar in the lower atrium on the third Saturday of every other month. In July, the fun continues with Name that Tune, a delicious Sundae Bar, or a tribute to Elvis. Fellowship is the name of the game, whether our residents are decorating mini-clay pots, assembling paper cars, or some other fun activity.
Why do we do all of these activities and more? Experts tell us that senior adults who are active and engaged socially often extend their lives and their enjoyment of life by years.
“Human nature leads us to crave fulfilling relationships with other people. As we age, however, life circumstances may push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we take proactive steps to cultivate new relationships,” writes author Elizabeth Bemis, MA, in the article “The Importance of Socialization at Senior Living Communities”.
“Most people understand the importance of encouraging young children to socialize, but it's easy to overlook the importance of socialization for older adults,” Bemis adds.
Joining a group of people with the same interests makes life more fun. Volunteering, working or looking forward to activities you enjoy can provide a reason to get up and go with a smile. Feeling helpful and needed often makes a huge difference in anyone's life, regardless of their age.
In a study by the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience, researchers found that people who feel consistently lonely have a 14 percent higher risk of premature death. Psychologist John Cacioppo says, "Loneliness is a risk factor for early death beyond what can be explained by poor health behavior. Feeling lonely isn't only unhappy; it's unsafe."
The study concluded that feeling lonely and isolated from others can lead to several unhealthy outcomes, including:
To learn more about Morningside of College Park and how it may positively affect a loved one, call (844) 511-3456.
Copyright: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo
Written by Steven Stiefel
There are many theories as to why human beings evolved to play, listen to, and love music. Some think it was a way males to attract mates or for mothers to sooth children. Others think music has always been the way we communicate oral history or stay awake on guard shifts around the camp fire. One thing’s for sure, scientists have found evidence of musical instruments that are over 40,000 years old. There are specific centers of the brain that are primed to not only respond to music, but stimulate other areas of the brain and body when music is playing.
At all ages and stages of life, we as humans have a developed a profound affinity for music. Babies who have not yet learned to talk will giggle, babble, and dance when listening to their favorite songs. Anyone who has ever had a toddler knows how much little ones’ love to repeat their favorite tunes over and over. As adults, we love to turn on a song that matches our mood after a bad day or amp up a workout with a motivating playlist. And as seniors, music can help us stay in touch with our long and middle term memories, which provide much needed access to parts of the brain that often slow down or shrink with age.
All sorts of cognitive stimulation are crucial to those living with memory care disorders. That’s why many memory care facilities are carefully designed to minimize potential of confusion, to have bright, stimulating colors, or to even evoke familiar settings from residents’ pasts, like old soda shops or mid-century towns. Many who work with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients recommend surrounding those affected with familiar objects—favorite clothes, pillows, photographs, and other personal affects. Even if the senior is having trouble remembering certain details, like who is in the photo, it still has positive associations.
Because dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect language processing, memory, and the ability to handle daily routines, it can be very isolating. In addition, studies have identified self-perception of loneliness and isolation contribute to the buildup of amyloid in the brain, which is linked to dementia, linking to a lack of socialization and stimulation. That’s where music can come in. Because music is quite possibly such a huge part of the human experience because it enhances communication, emotion, and memory, it is also a great way to bridge the social gap that many with memory disorders find between themselves, loved ones, and caregivers. Caregivers of those with dementia often find themselves feeling someone isolated, too. Music can be a point of connection that eases the stress and strain for everyone involved.
Listening to a loved one’s favorite songs can literally make them feel young again, lighting up old memories, feelings, and associations. Listening to music together can also provide talking points that are free from the mundane of daily routines and medication schedules. You can dance together, draw pictures of what the lyrics and sounds make you feel or think of, or chat about the musician, the rhythm, etc. You can even sing along!
Studies and stories from memory care providers have shown that even deeply withdrawn patients can become quite animated when their favorite songs are played, sharing details and opinions about the music when they rarely speak up on any subject. While not everyone is guaranteed to have such a dramatic response, it is amazing to see how music can affect us at all stages, and the way it can bring joy to everyone from youth to seniors.
Religion creates a sense of meaning in one’s life that becomes especially significant in our golden years. Through studies, this significance suggests that participants who identify with various religious affiliations, beliefs and practices likewise improves overall health.
Here’s the breakdown of studies:
48% seniors go to religious services on a regular basis.
As opposed to the millennial generation, seniors are more likely found in a church pew on any given Sunday, as they were raised at a time when church was absolutely central to American life.
71% of Southerners portray themselves as "sure beyond a shadow of a doubt" that God exists. Almost all seniors reported that they relied on religion when confronted with troublesome circumstances. This may include a decline in health, lack of mobility, or loss of a spouse. It is also reported that religious participants bounce back more quickly as opposed to non-believers.
65% say that religion is very important to them.
Whether this takes place in fun group activities, congregational services, singing hymns together, scripture study, or just prayer in one’s own apartment, expressions of faith are vital to the lives of most seniors.
67% of seniors said that having a spiritual existence in their lives offers more joy.
For many people, religion is not just a matter of spirituality but also a means of social connection. In our experience, religion is indispensable to the joy and wellbeing within a senior community.
The Key Takeaway from these statistics? Religious and spiritual practice in seniors promotes the wellbeing and happiness of individuals, families, and the community.
Within our senior community, it is evident that religion has positively affected resident satisfaction and general prosperity. Religion offers a higher physical and mental wellness, and extending health longevity and lifespan.
At Morningside, spiritual prosperity can be found in mutual respect between caretaker, staff, and senior residents. To offer peace and prosperity, we welcome all religious beliefs within our community. Regardless of belief, we encourage communal activities, motivational gatherings, field trips, and many more.
Being a Christian company, we do understand the incredible importance for each individual to be able to experience and express their religious values and rituals, and we do everything we can to provide them opportunities to worship and carry out their customs and practices.
Written by: Katie Hanley
We all remember that nervousness we felt on the first day of school or the first day on a new job, introducing ourselves to people who would become pals. Even with long lives of experience repeating this process over and over, it still involves the butterflies in the stomach of adjusting to change. When a senior begins the process of transitioning from a private home to a shared retirement community, it involves new faces and places to adopt as a new normal.
Maintaining an active, enjoyable social life is key to settling in to this exciting new chapter in a senior’s life. The good news is that MorningSide offers many opportunities to interact with new people. Activities include such things as Painting with Elizabeth on Tuesdays, knitting class on Thursdays, weekly social hour, fabulous meals, and outings to fascinating places like Indiana’s Underground Railroad.
Just because a senior moves to MorningSide, they doesn’t mean they have to lose touch with old friends. In fact, if a friend visits a resident and they decide to move in as well, the resident receives a $1,000 referral fee! Getting to live alongside an existing friend and getting rewarded for it is having your cake and eating it too! “Don’t miss this opportunity to choose your neighbors,” said Executive Director Jo Cowan.
It’s great whenever our friendships endure change, but growth comes from embracing new aspects of life. Experts say the key to overcoming loneliness and making new friendships is to put yourself out there and open your heart to possibilities.
Existing friends and trusted institutions like church are just some of the sources available to make new acquaintances in fresh locations. Sometimes it is a simple matter of striking up a conversation about sports, the old days, old neighborhoods, what it was like growing up, current events, cars, recipes, etc.
Signing up for a class, perhaps trying something we’ve never done before, can give even shy people the nudge needed to interact with others in meaningful ways.
Everyone enjoys some solitude, but having a social life pays off in many ways, both emotional and physical. Experts say socializing lowers blood pressure while remaining active keeps the mind and body healthy. Plus, we can get joy from helping others through tough times and take comfort when they reciprocate – it is important to treat others the way we want to be treated, remaining loyal and listening when others share.
Beyond the interactions inside our building, a senior can also use technology to make new friendships, communicating with old friends and family while making new connections on social networks like Facebook. There is a certain satisfaction in having others wish us a happy birthday or send holiday greetings.
MorningSide is just one of the ways seniors can make new friends in senior living.
Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo
When a senior’s confusion and memory loss advances from mild to more serious, it’s important to see a doctor and get a diagnosis so that planning for the challenges of the future lessens the stress of uncertainty for those concerned.
Planning after the diagnosis allows the person with Alzheimer’s to participate in making decisions that help family and friends to know his or her wishes. Research helps the person know what to expect. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. It goes beyond simply having a few “senior moments” of forgetfulness.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends consulting a medical doctor as soon as possible after recognizing symptoms for a thorough examination to rule out other possible causes for symptoms, then, once a diagnosis is confirmed, an attorney to assist with getting affairs in order.
It’s possible for someone with Alzheimer’s to live for several years after the first symptoms appear, but as the disease progresses, a person may lose his or her capacity to understand the appreciate the consequences of any executed legal document. Legal documents help ensure wishes are followed and make it possible for others to make decisions on a senior’s behalf when he or she no longer can. “Power of Attorney for health care” is a status that allows a designated person to make decisions regarding doctors, treatments, care facilities, end-of-life care decisions, and do not resuscitate orders.
It’s also important, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, to choose a trusted person to give durable power of attorney for finances and property. Failing to do this until a crisis hits can complicate matters in managing assets. AA also recommends drafting a living will and a standard will.
Gather all important documents that family may need to refer to. Having handy access to critical information can help family who may feel overwhelmed with the changes. It is completely normal, according to AA, for the adjustment to produce a variety of emotions, but there’s no reason to feel alone with resources and solutions available to help.
One such solution is Reflections Centre, our secure community for memory care with staff specially trained by the local Alzheimer's Association. Reflections Centre offers a safe, secure environment, complete with an enclosed outdoor courtyard. In a structured setting, the affected senior can maintain their dignity and comfort.
“Getting people to help you with certain tasks works better with a well-thought-out plan rather than trying to find help in an emergency situation. This plan will provide you — and the people assisting you — with confidence that the assistance you need will be there when you need it,” states advice on the Alzheimer’s Association website, www.alz.org
To learn more about Reflections Centre at MorningSide, call (844) 511-3456. To learn more about your local Alzheimer’s Association, the Greater Indiana Chapter, visit http://www.alz.org/indiana/
Note: The advice offered here is not a replacement for medical care or legal counsel. Always seek an expert opinion from your physician and attorney in such matters.
In this age of technology, not everyone realizes just how much has changed in the past century. But taking the time to tell stories to your younger relatives can be a great way to share history and life lessons. They can’t always be around to listen to what you have to say, but you can still share your life with them!
Writing down your life experiences is a wonderful way to connect with your family. It will give them tangible memories to hold on to and learn from when you can’t be there to talk to them. Angela Burton, a creative writing instructor who hosts the Oh! I Remember workshop for seniors, says, “The true gift is the legacy they are leaving their families… These stories would be lost forever, but by writing them down, we are capturing their whole persona before it’s too late.”
Delving into your past and writing it down can be good not only for your family, but also for you! Taking a look back and reminiscing can help improve cognitive function in seniors. It keeps your imagination active, and writing can give you a means of self-expression.
If you decide to begin writing about your life, here are a few things that might help:
You never know how your life can affect the lives of others; even years after the fact, a lesson you learned can help someone else! Writing gives you a way to make that connection with future generations, and your family will cherish your stories for years to come!
Making a move from a longtime home to an Indianapolis Assisted Living Community can be frightening for seniors, but it actually offers a lot of benefits that might not be apparent at first. Explaining these things can go a long way toward making the senior feel better about the transition.
For most of us, home represents independence and privacy in our minds, but these things are not necessarily lost in the move.
What does get lost is much of the hassles of living alone. Most retirement communities give residents the option to modify a space to make it feel more like home, including moving furniture and personal items.
The spacious apartments at MorningSide of College Park offer individually controlled heat and air, large bathrooms and full kitchens for independent retirement living. Our top of the line “Waterford” apartment provides 1,160-square-feet including two bedrooms and two baths.
Our Assisted Living program is more about providing services to help with dining, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, medication reminders, housekeeping and laundry, and mobility. MorningSide staff help straighten the senior’s apartment daily, wash dishes, take out the trash, wash and dry or iron personal laundry.
Living alone in a house also potentially means other challenges that simply no longer exist for them when a senior transitions to a place like MorningSide: No more yard to mow, leaves to rake, snow to shovel, weeds to pull, light bulbs to change, or carpet to vacuum. Someone else takes care of these chores. At the same time, hobbies such as gardening are still possible.
With activities provided and new friendships-in-waiting, we vanquish boredom and set the stage for relationships. Games, visits from entertainers and trips to various destinations make the days of sitting home alone a thing of the past.
It’s also worth considering that MorningSide of College Park is a safe environment where seniors can relax and not worry about home invasions or aggressive solicitors. Retirement communities are also there with assistance if a senior falls or needs help in other ways. After decades of living in urban spaces, someone can finally feel safe because they can spend time alone living in a space shared with many others.
Apartment-style senior living is an ideal living arrangement for those who value their privacy but also appreciate the peace-of-mind that comes from having a helping hand. Call (317) 872-4567 to schedule a consultation and tour of MorningSide of College Park.
Late spring was very wet this year in Indianapolis, but now that the solstice has passed and summer is officially here, it looks like sunnier, hotter weather is ahead. That’s good news for an-yone who was beginning to feel like they had wound up in Seattle instead of Indiana, but it does mean some health and safety precautions need to be taken to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other seasonal maladies that can affect the very young, the very old, and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, from sports enthusiasts to outdoor pets.
The first trick to beating the heat is to stay inside. Plan activities like board games, scrapbooking, book club, crafts, or indoor exercise during the hottest parts of the day, from about noon to four in the afternoon. Staying indoors is also a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays during the part of the day when they are strongest. Save outdoor activities for the evening when it’s cooler— that’s a great time to tend to the garden, go to a baseball game, or take an after-diner stroll with loved ones.
Whether your summer fun is indoors or out, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Elderly people and those with chronic illnesses are especially susceptible to dehydration for a variety of factors. As we age, our bodies naturally retain less water, and kidney function may be reduced. Some medica-tions can also compromise the body’s ability to retain water. Seniors also may experience re-duced thirst or trouble swallowing, affecting their desire for fluids. Sipping on water, rather than tea, coffee, or soda, throughout the day, regardless of cravings can keep you hydrated. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already critically dehydrated.
There are many more serious side effects of dehydration than thirst to be aware of. One of the benefits of being a Morningside resident is the caring staff members who are trained in identifying such symptoms and keeping residents healthy. However, friendly and family may want to take note, as heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect people of any age. Symptoms can include mouth dryness, infrequent urination or urine that is a dark or deep yellow, cramping in limbs, headaches, the inability to cry tears, a general feeling of weakness or malaise, low blood pressure, rapid but weak pulse, dry or sunken eyes, or change in pace of breath.
Spending time indoors out of the heat is a great way to reduce the chances of chronic or dan-gerous dehydration. Fortunately, Indiana is a great place to enjoy cool summer pastimes as much as fun in the sun. Grab a milkshake from Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream after enjoying the exhibits and programing at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana Medical History Museum, or the the Museum of Miniature Houses. Walk through a local shopping mall or go to see a movie to get a few extra hours of relief from the heat.
Indianapolis is a wonderful place to enjoy summer fun. You can pack in even more enjoyment simply by being safe and aware about how to stay hydrated and keep cool when temperatures spike!
Reminiscing is wonderful for many reasons. It can help keep your memory sharp, it can be a great way to spend time with loved ones, it can ease stress, and it can take you back to days gone by. If last month’s photos of Indianapolis in the 1960s and 70s brought back happy memories, now is the time to record them for yourself or for friends and family. Perhaps a child or grandchild, or a niece or nephew might help you with your memory project.
You could record your retelling of favorite stories and reminiscences with a simple cassette recorder or cellphone app. This could have an added level of excitement if you, say, attended a historic race, interesting moments in city history, or major concerts or exhibits that your friends and family were too young for and wish they had been able to attend. The added benefit to audio or video recording is that your loved ones will also have your voice preserved for years to come.
If recording your stories doesn’t appeal to you, you can jot them down in a notebook or journal. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider writing about your favorite photos, especially if they’re of an event, family members the younger generation might not have met, from a trip you took, or set in your hometown, like the information we shared about Indianapolis decades ago. Your friends and family will love having this record and you’ll have the joy of reliving some of life’s most exciting moments.
This is especially true as younger generations are highly nostalgic and interested in how things used to be. They might like some of the same musicians that you do, be curious about your records, or want to learn a skill like knitting, crocheting, or try their hand at family recipes. Sharing these things with them is a great way to combine an activity you can do together with a chance to talk and share your memories, all while making new ones.
We rely on all sorts of medicines to relieve pain, lower blood sugar, improve circulation, and boost our immunity, but life gives us a natural way to help achieve all of these – and best of all, it’s free!
I’m talking about laughter.
It’s not just something most of us don’t do nearly enough – it’s strong medicine!
Here’s just a few ways a good chuckle affects our mind and body:
These are just a few of the ways that watching a funny movie or TV show may be just what the doctor ordered for Indiana seniors.