4 Tips on How to Discuss Quality of Life with the Older Adults in your Life

Guest Post Author: Chris Golen| thecommonsinlincoln.com

Discussing Quality of Life with Your Aging Parents

Living a long, happy and healthy life is something we desire, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones, as well. Indeed, as we grow older, quality of life issues become even more important. As executive director for a Boston-area senior living community, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of creating an environment for seniors where they can thrive as part of a community of neighbors, with the support they need.

What exactly is quality of life?  It’s a hard concept to describe, and answers differ from person to person. Understanding how your parents define quality of life is important to ensuring their long-term happiness and health. Maybe it is the opportunity to volunteer with a local non-profit, stay active in their church, participate in a much-beloved hobby, or spend time with family and friends on a regular basis.

Scientifically, quality of life has been defined by three key indicators: overall view of life, relationship to self, and relationship to partners or friends.

Here are some recommendations to help identify how your parent defines quality of life and areas for improvement.

Overall View of Life

Ensuring your parents maintain a positive view on life is crucial to their happiness. This extends to peace of mind in their finances and confidence they have the care they need in the event their health changes.

It’s important to note that while a senior living community can provide the support your parents’ need, these communities are not one size fits all. A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) model allows your parents to plan for the unexpected and enjoy life. CCRCs often offer a life care plan, allowing your parents to mitigate the risk of potential rising costs of health care and protect their assets.

Relationship to Self  

Opportunities to explore interests and focus on health will allow your parents to build self-confidence and enjoy life more fully. As your parent’s age, it can become difficult for them to motivate themselves to stay active, prepare healthy meals and value their physical health. Identifying a community of support may be the right environment. Senior living communities provide daily support, easy to follow fitness routines and delicious, healthy meals.

Health in mind, body, and spirit is the best way to ensure the greatest relationship to self. If your parent feels healthy and strong, they are better able to reach out to the ones they love, build new relationships, and continue to participate in life.

Relationship to Others

Interpersonal relationships will allow your parents to feel supported and part of a community. As we age, building new friendships can be difficult unless there are scheduled activities in place to create opportunities for social engagement.

Residents at senior living communities can become involved socially as they select from daily activities calendars to continue to enjoy the hobbies and experiences they love. Residents enjoy trips to local attractions, on-campus musical performances, opportunities to join or create a club for their hobbies, and lifelong learning with guest lectures.

Where Should You Begin?

It all starts with a conversation. Ask a series of questions to understand what aspects of your parent’s life they find most enjoyable. Questions could include:

  • What activities have you been participating in recently?
  • Are you able to participate in the activities purposeful to you?
  • What are the upsides and downsides of living alone?
  • Are you having any problems maintaining the house?

These questions will not only convey your interest in hearing about their lives, but it will allow you to pick up on major clues that their quality of life could improve with some changes.

If your parents seem lonely, removed, or have difficulty engaging in activities that give them purpose, transitioning to a new living situation, like a senior living community may be the right solution. With support from staff and daily opportunities to interact with others and participate in beloved activities, your parents may experience improvements in their overall view of life.

About the Author

Chris Golen, campus executive director at The Commons in Lincoln in Lincoln, Mass., has dedicated his career to improving the lives of seniors. Golen has made quality of life the top priority at The Commons by identifying a staff dedicated to making life more enjoyable for each resident. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community with a Five-Star Medicare rating in skilled nursing, The Commons offers the highest level of care available. Follow The Commons in Lincoln on Facebook or Twitter.

Take a Time-Out: Effective Coping Strategies to Combat Stress In-the-Moment as a Family Caregiver

Guest Post Author: Angela Stringfellow | Caregiver Homes

There’s tons of advice offering relaxation strategies to help caregivers cope with stress, but what about those moments when you feel like everything is going to fall apart — the moments when you feel like screaming? No one needs to tell you that self-care is important, but finding the time to focus on your own needs seems an impossible feat, let alone finding the money to pay for luxuries like a day at the spa or a massage.

As a caregiver, you need stress-beating self-care strategies that you can use, in the moment, without taking valuable time out of your caregiving duties or money that you simply don’t have to spare. Here are a few such coping strategies that are both cost-effective and easy to use – strategies that you can implement in minutes, with immediate results.

Visualization and Guided Imagery

This stress-busting tactic is free to use, and for some, it’s an effective coping technique when you desperately need an escape. MentalHelp.net describes the technique as a “systematic practice of creating a detailed mental image of an attractive and peaceful setting or environment.” It’s really as simple as that:

  • Find a calm, quiet space.
  • Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind and body.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Devote all your attention to imagining your ideal escape – a beach, the woods, a boat on the middle of a glistening lake, or whatever setting makes you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Spend time focusing on your senses and imagining the sensations you’d experience in your visual escape. For instance, you might imagine the feeling of warmth on your skin from the sun or the smell of the ocean.
  • Imagine yourself feeling calm and relaxed, happy and smiling.
  • Once you feel relaxed, you can end the visualization, open your eyes, and rejoin the real world.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique often used in conjunction with guided imagery, but it works as a stand-alone stress-busting tactic as well. This stress-busting strategy is also sometimes called “tense and release,” as it involves systematically tensing up muscle groups, from your head to your toes, and then relaxing while focusing on the way your muscles relax as the tension flows from your body.

Because it requires your full attention, progressive muscle relaxation can take your mind off of those in-the-moment stressors for a few quick minutes, and once you’ve worked through each muscle group, you might just be surprised by how much calmer and more relaxed you feel.

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Aromatherapy

Essential oils can be useful for a variety of circumstances, but there are several essential oils that are particularly beneficial for stress relief, such as lavender, bergamot, chamomile, fennel, and Ylang Ylang, among others.

There are a few ways you can use aromatherapy to combat stress. The simplest way is to open a bottle of stress-relieving oil and gently breathe in the aroma. If you have the time for a quick shower, you can drop a few drops of essential oil into the shower for a whole-body aromatherapy experience, complete with the relaxing sensation of hot water and steam.

5-Minute Cardio Break

Exercise releases endorphins – those feel-good chemicals in the brain that make us feel happy and content. That’s why a quick, 5-minute cardio break can be such an effective stress-beating strategy for caregivers. Put some basic exercise equipment to use if you have it available, or you can do something as simple as a set of jumping jacks to reap the benefits of physical activity for combating stress. According to Harvard Medical School professor John Ratey, MD, just two minutes of exercise is enough to boost your mood – as long as the activity increases your heart rate.

10-Minute Yoga/Stretching Break

While it won’t raise your heart rate like cardiovascular activity, taking a 10-minute stretching or yoga break can also do wonders for beating acute stress and anxiety. Whether you simply take a few minutes to yourself to stretch your aching shoulders, arms, and legs or want to follow a formal, instructor-led yoga series, this is an activity you can do for free in just a few minutes for some immediate relief.

There are many yoga tutorials and guided stretching videos available online, free of charge. You can even choose videos that demonstrate the best stretches to target certain muscle groups, such as your upper body, or those that can help to alleviate a stiff neck or lower back pain.

Taking time out for self-care as a caregiver may seem like a mountain you just can’t climb. Thanks to these creative, cost-effective, stress-beating tactics, you can finally combat stress and find a welcoming escape to get through those moments when you feel like you’ve met your breaking point – all without breaking the budget or spending hours of time away from your loved one.

About author:

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Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer based in central PA. She writes about aging, senior living, and issues facing older adults and senior caregivers for Caregiver Homes and a variety of caregiver-focused publications.

 

 

Why Quality Time is the Best Gift You Can Give to Your Aging Parents

Guest Post Author: Kristen Heller

As we grow older, we realize that our parents need our attention now more than ever before. Forget about your teenage years when everything they did seemed to annoy you, and you couldn’t wait to finish high school and move out on your own. As it turns out, you also got to grow up and with it came some wisdom. You realize just how important it is to have a relationship with your parents.

What our aging parents need most from us is our time. It does not matter how many expensive gifts you have delivered to your parent’s doorstep or how many cards you send to their mailbox; what they need most is your presence. Sending a card on a birthday or mother`s day is great, but it would lighten up their hearts more if you were there to celebrate with them.

Not all family members have maintained a relationship throughout life. The idea of starting a relationship with your parents now that they are in need of care may feel overwhelming and maybe even impossible. But, it is never too late to begin forming a bond. Here are a few reasons why spending quality time with your folks is an incredible experience and fun ideas to get you started.

Make up for Lost Time

If either of your parents weren’t around much when you were growing up, there’s no better way to make up for lost time than being there for them as they get older.

Spending time together now allows you to get to know each other more, and you start seeing them in a different light. There is still a lot that you can learn from your parents even once you are an adult, vital life skills that only a parent can share with their child.

By now they also know that there is no better time to pass on some of the things they have learned while growing up; some wisdom gained from their parents and others from experience. They went through tough times, and the wisdom they will share with you is to ensure you don’t have to go through it.

Mend Broken Relationships

Maybe you missed out on a lot of the parent-child relationship because you were hard-headed during your teens, and because you were always causing trouble your parents showed you some tough love. In return, you moved out from home early and what followed were years of little communication with your folks. Of course, there are times they would try to reach out, but your pride would often get the best of you. At times you would be overcome with guilt and wish things were much easier with your parents, but you didn’t even know where to start. In truth, there’s no better time to mend your relationship than now.

Reach out to them; don’t miss out on spending the last few years with your folks because of pride. Past mistakes cannot be undone, but you can patch things up. The time you spend with them will always be priceless, and your folks will get to spend their time knowing their child was there for them when they needed you most.

How to spend quality time with your aging parents

The first step is learning how to create time to spend with them, no matter how busy your schedule is. You do not have to turn up every day, but make an effort to see them every so often. If your parents have medical challenges, becoming their caregiver can ensure they are comfortable.

Below are a few fun things you can do while spending time with your aging parents:

– Start digging for long lost oldies that your parents loved listening to when you were young. It may take a lot of digging, but it will be worth it. Music speaks to the soul and helps us to reminisce certain periods of our life and what we were going through at that time, bringing feelings of nostalgia.

– Cooking- Show up at their place with ingredients and a recipe, ready to prepare them their favorite meal. Ask your mum or dad to join you in the kitchen and bond as you cook together.

– Hunting- If your dad has a thing for hunting, plan a weekend getaway out in the woods. Hunting is a great way to spend some quality time together.

– Fishing- do your folks love fishing? Hire a boat and go out fishing on the lake.

– Try outdoor trips, especially to places that your parents have always wanted to visit.

– Reading your favorite books, especially to parents with dementia-related ailments.

– Going through old photo albums with your parents, as you listen to the stories and memories behind each photo.

– Showing them new technology- your parents will always be awed by how far technology has come. Every time you introduce them to some innovation in technology, you will get to hear stories of how great things were back in the good old days.

– Keep active- for instance, a game of hoops, tennis or table tennis with your dad, or yoga with your mom. Exercising together can be a great way for both of you to keep in shape.

It’s Never Too Late

Spending time with family that you don’t have a good relationship with is hard, but that doesn’t mean its impossible.  Many adult children will find themselves thrust back into their parents lives as they begin to require extra care.  While overwhelming, there are plenty of good reasons why you should attempt to form a relationship with them.  Using any of the fun activities above can be a great icebreaker for your developing relationships!

About the Author

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Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano. Kristen also volunteers time with Freedom Care.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing Senior Care Options for Your Aging Parent: The Benefits of Live-in Carers

Guest Post Author: John Stuart | angelcarers.com

If your loved one requires round-the-clock care, but they’re reluctant to leave their lifelong home, then hiring a live-in carer could be the perfect alternative. Live-in carers provide specialist care to your loved one in the comfort of their own home, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience to provide full-time support. If you’re considering hiring care for an elderly friend or relative, you might be wondering what the benefits are when compared to residential nursing homes.

Avoids upheaval

Hiring a live-in carer allows your loved one to stay in safe and familiar surroundings. Even when they require care, many individuals prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, with their personal belongings, memories, and pets.

Moving an elderly relative can cause major distress and can be a truly difficult time in their life. With the help of a live-in carer, you can rest assured that your loved one will be put through as little disruption as possible, allowing them to stay at home with their home comforts while receiving all of the care they require.

Better quality of life

At a time where your relative may feel like they’re losing their independence, remaining in their own home can make all of the difference in their quality of life.

By employing a live-in carer, you can ensure a better quality of life for your relative than if they were to move to a residential care home. By staying in their own home, your elderly relative is able to keep their pets and belongings, which hold a lot of memories and sentimental value. It also allows them to continue with their social activities by remaining in their local area, meaning that they’re able to stay in contact with neighbors, friends and continue to participate in their favorite hobbies.

Dedicated care

Live at home carers can provide bespoke round-the-clock, dedicated care to your elderly relative.  Not only will this give you peace of mind that your relative will care for 24 hours a day, but it also provides consistency. Having a small team of one to two carers means that your relative can build a relationship with their carer as well as ensuring they’re receiving the best possible care and can establish a solid routine.

Companionship

According to research by the Campaign To End Loneliness, over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, so a live-in carer can provide the perfect companionship to improve their quality of life. Elderly people will often build close bonds with their live-in carers, helping to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Statistically, many elderly people can go days without any social activity. A live-in carer can open up new opportunities to your elderly relative, helping them to engage in activities which may have become difficult, such as getting out to the shops or social clubs. Companionship is one of the most overlooked, but most important, benefits of a live-in carer for your elderly relative.

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/loneliness-research/

Continuity

A small team of live-in carers provides continuity for your elderly relative and allows them to maintain their regular routine. This is especially important for dementia sufferers who can struggle to get used to having a multitude of carers and new surroundings in a residential home. By living at home, your loved one is able to sustain their schedule, meaning that they can dictate their meal times, social and leisure activities which would be difficult in a residential home.

Peace of mind for family members

Live-in carers don’t just benefit those receiving the care – they can also provide peace of mind for family members who can rest assured that their relative is receiving the best, dedicated care possible. Live in carers also alleviate the pressure on busy family members and can lessen the guilt they feel if they are unable to frequently visit their elderly relatives.  Unlike residential homes, family members are able to visit their elderly relative whenever is convenient for them, without having to worry about adhering to visiting hours.

Live-in carers provide many valuable benefits and are definitely an option worth considering if your elderly relative requires round-the-clock care. By employing a live-in carer for your relative, you’ll ensure that your loved one is receiving a dedicated care plan to help them to remain healthy, happy and positive throughout their senior years.

About the author: Angel Carers provide a bespoke domiciliary care service as well as live-in care throughout the South of England. They suit all of their services to each of their clients, offering a truly bespoke care service. Discover more on their website – http://www.angelcarers.com/

The Perks of Getting Older, ​There are so Many!

Guest Post Author: Toby Dean | UKsMobility

 

Growing older means different things to different individuals. While some associate aging with wisdom, grace, and satisfaction, others keep clinging on to the past and not seeing the upside of growing old. Growing old is not optional but mandatory, and once you know the perks associated with it, you might start enjoying it.

Since birth, you have been learning and now is the time to impart all that knowledge and wisdom to others. You might not see it if you crib about your age but being wise, knowledgeable and confidence makes you a more attractive person.

Now that you do not have to work anymore, you have all the time to indulge in your hobbies, passions, and start crossing off things from that bucket list. Take that Caribbean Cruise now or was it backpacking across Europe that you always wanted to do? Are you intrigued? Check out other perks of growing old in a fun and informative infographic from UKsMobility, and make the most of this stage of your life.

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About the Author
Toby dean works on behalf of UKsMobility in content creation and marketing. He creates engaging graphics and content that help businesses stand out from the crowd. Over the past 7 years has worked with dozens of SME’s in both an agency and freelance capacity.

Staying Active: Why Helping the Older Adults in your Life Exercise is the Best Care you Can Provide

Guest Post Author: Kelli Huggins | Grace Ridge Retirement Community

Exercise in Older Adults

Exercise plays an important role in overall wellness and provides the strength to participate in the activities we love. As a Well4Life Wellness Coordinator and Licensed Recreational Therapy Assistant, I’ve dedicated the past 10 years to developing tactics and discovering programs to engage seniors in fitness.

Fitness can be as simple as adding small changes to your daily routine to build strength and balance or adopting more formal training, such as the Ageless Grace program or Tai Chi.

Below are a series of suggestions for caregivers and seniors to encourage movement and maximize health benefits with and without a certification.

Movement with Music

For seniors new to a fitness routine, music can encourage participation and keep them on track to achieve their fitness goals.

For the best results, tailor music based on resident experiences and personal preferences. If it is near a holiday, incorporate seasonal music. If there is no specific preference, soft music, classical and easy listening are great for any group.

Continue to modify the music by adjusting the volume, providing headphones if needed and incorporating song requests. 

Building Strength

As a caregiver or as you age, you understand how important it is to continue to participate in the activities you love. Doing so not only maintains a routine but can also provide a certain level of independence.

Strength exercises allow your body to move more easily, making everyday activities like climbing the stairs, picking up groceries, standing up from a seated position and opening jars much easier.

Adding strength training to your routine doesn’t need to be complicated. Household items and your own body weight are the perfect tools. Try using soup cans as hand weights or adding leg raises and overhead arm raises to your routine to help build muscle.

 

Group Of Seniors Using Resistance Bands In Fitness Class

Staying Balanced

Strength, in combination with balance, is incredibly beneficial to seniors. Adding short balance exercises to your daily routine can make a huge difference. Try standing on one foot while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Incorporate balance into your routine by holding both hands out and straight while walking or walk heal-to-toe as if you were on a balance beam.

Practicing balance exercises will help you navigate uneven sidewalks or foundation, reach items on high shelves, bend over to reach low items, turn around quickly and avoid falls.

Tai Chi

Balance can also be improved through the practice of Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese art form and one of the most effective exercises for health, mind, and body. Dr. Paul Lam’s principles include mind integrated with the body, incorporating the fluidity of movements, controlled breathing, and mental concentration.

After your body is fully warm, starting with the top of the body and going down to the feet, you can move into the basic tai chi movement with a focus on improving range of motion.

For those suffering from arthritis, Tai Chi improves muscle strength, flexibility and overall fitness. The benefits of Tai Chi also extend to fall prevention as the movements focus on weight transference to improve overall balance.

Try to maintain healthy fitness habits, no matter your ageAgeless Grace

To further improve cognitive performance, the Ageless Grace program, created by Denise Medved, incorporates 21 simple tools for lifelong comfort and ease. The program helps develop and strengthen new neural pathways to support a long and healthy life.

The 21 tools are based on everyday natural movements and are focused on the ability to respond, react and recover. The tools are easy to follow at home and are designed to be performed seated in a chair, down on the floor, or standing.

The tools are uniquely named to make them easy to remember. Some of my favorites include:

  • Exercise Tool #1 Juicy Joints – joint mobility, flexibility and circulation
  • Exercise Tool #6 Try Chi – joint stability, eye-hand coordination and breathing
  • Exercise Tool #10 Rockin’ Rockettes – lower body strength, hip mobility, ankle and foot flexibility and arch support.

The Ageless Grace program helps improve joint mobility, spinal flexibility, right-left brain coordination, bone density, balance, fall prevention, self-esteem and confidence.

About the Author

Kelli Huggins_headshotKelli Huggins, Well4Life Wellness Coordinator and Licensed Recreational Therapy Assistant at Grace Ridge Retirement Community in Morganton, NC, has developed senior wellness techniques and educated professionals across the state for the past decade. Kelli recently presented at the North Carolina Recreational Therapy Association on exercise in older adults. Follow Grace Ridge Retirement Community on Facebook or YouTube.

A 5-Step Guide on How to Take Care of Older Adults at Home

Guest Post Author: Chris Palmer | AgeSpace

One of the hardest things we go through is watching as our loved one begin to require additional care. The people who you were so dependent on when you were a child are now in need of your support. The emotional struggle can be hard and even harder when you don’t know how to take care of them at home; so, we’re here to give you a hand. We have a 5-step guide on how to take care of older adults at home.

Start Talking
You should start talking to them about everything you think they are concerned about. Ask them where they want to live, ask them what their wants or needs are, find out about their additional activities, talk to them about your heritage or history and learn about some of your relatives or friends! Discuss any financial issues that you think should be talked about and just try spending time with them, so they do not feel neglected. Make them feel like they are a part of your lives, so they don’t drift away.

Make a Plan
Family members will often suddenly find themselves in the position of a caregiver to the older adults in their life. Planning can help you in so many ways, and you won’t even have to be worried all the time. You need to start by keeping your home a safe area for them. You can set up a first aid kit for your home, or get smoke detectors with strobe lights so they can quickly wake up when there is an emergency.

Keep them healthy
To take care of your loved one, you need to make sure that they have a healthy lifestyle. Encourage exercise as it aids in their motor skills and strength, which has the potential to reduce falls. If you feel that your loved one is unable to exercise or swim, then you can always schedule a regular activity session as it enhances their well-being and has so many emotional benefits and doesn’t require a lot of effort!

Embrace and Encourage mental/physical health
Medication management is so important for older adults mental and physical health. As a caregiver, remind them to take their medication and visit their doctor on a regular basis. Their mental health is just as important and sometimes overlooked by health care professionals, but you should keep an eye out for any symptoms of dementia and depression and notify their physician if symptoms worsen or change.

Consider a Professional caregiver
There are many challenging feelings of guilt and responsibility attached with family caregiving. However, you don’t have to do it all. Hiring a professional caregiver can help you feel more secure in the care you are providing and wards off burnout, which is a common side effect of caregiving. Additional help also allows for more time to promote the independence of your loved one as there are more time and patience to let them direct their care.

About Author:
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This article was written by Chris Palmer who regularly shares advice on elderly care. In particular dementia and supporting your elderly parent. You can find more by Chris on https://www.agespace.org/.