Tag Archives: leading assisted living community

Making Your Senior Years the Best Years of Your Life

As we think about the later year of our lives there seems to be two basic schools of thought on the subject: Those who refer and believe them to be the “Golden Years” and those who stress about their age and supposed decline in health and social life that accompanies it. Here’s a couple of questions for us to consider. First, look back on your life and think about which decade was your best. Is it possible that your senior years can be the best years of your life? Or have you already made up your mind that they will be the worst? Have you made a list of your top five goals  as you move into your senior years? For instance they might include financial security, good health, spending time with family or maybe more travel. It’s probably pretty easy to list more than five goals.

Ok, so you’ve written your list, set your goals. Now what? The surprising truth here is that the most successful seniors, in terms of lifestyle and health, are the ones who obsess about it the least. Those who spend time enjoying their retirement and doing what they’ve been looking forward to all these years don’t have time to worry about fulfilling their bucket list. The key is not to obsess about the list. The most fulfilled seniors just live their lives! Simple, right?

The Power of Positive Thinking

There is a lot to be said for and a lot of research to back up the power of positive thinking. Some agree wholeheartedly with the philosophy and others disregard the evidence. When it relates to aging, it all has to do with the attitude that you bring with you into your seniors years. If you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to embrace your future you will have a much more positive experience than someone who enters their 60’s or 70’s kicking and screaming. The latter group is adding so much stress by trying to look and stay young that they actually do themselves a disservice. While this group is fighting mother nature the more positive thinkers are out having fun and enjoying themselves which results in them actually feeling mentally and physically younger. Plus, you have to wonder how much the worry and stress is taking years off their lives.

What are your expectations as a senior?

Are you anticipating more illness, low energy levels, and a general decline during your older years? If that is what you’re expecting, it’s probably what will happen. This is not because the thoughts themselves have any power but instead because you send  signals to your mind and body that there will be no effort to stay fit and healthy. Because there is not effort made in those directions, poor health and low energy will result. This can be referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Seniors who think that they will do well, maintain an active lifestyle and enjoy good health will do just as good as they think they will. Their counterparts with a negative attitude seem to be able to think themselves into illness and old age.

Cause and effect play a huge roll in scheme of things, especially as we age. A common example is someone who is active, gets out more, takes on projects, spends time with others and refuses to let old age get to them are the ones who stay happy and healthy longer and have a better quality of life throughout their retirement years.

Do unto others…

Another paradox of the importance of attitude on the quality of life as a senior has to do with thinking of others more than themselves. Older adults who volunteer and are active in helping others appear to be happier and more successful member so the senior community. Simply put, those who worry about others instead of themselves, benefit the most personally. Conversely, seniors who only worry about themselves have the most to worry about.

So if negativity comes more naturally to you and you’re interested in changing that try seeking better companionship. The old saying, misery loves company, holds true here. To improve your mental attitude hang out with people who are happy and active.  It’s worth it to change your outlook on life after retirement. If your attitude says you will get the best from life as a senior, you will experience just that. In fact, your senior years may end up being the best years of your life!

By: Kristen Sheston

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Manager at The Continental at St. Joseph’s, the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

Visit the website: http://www.thecontinentalatstjosephs.com

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The Continuum of Care Concept

Continental Senior Living is a name that you may have seen or heard, but what is it? The Continental Hotel, The Continental at St. Joseph’s and The Continental Care Center at Seymour are what we like to refer to as a continuum of care, collectively known as Continental Senior Living. This is a term used in health care and when we talk about living options for seniors. Simply put, a continuum of care is a grouping of senior care facilities, either on the same campus or not, that can provide living options for seniors at every stage. Continental Senior Living is the only complete continuum of care offered in our area.

In this model for senior living, retirees that don’t want the responsibility of caring for their own home can live independently in their own apartment, comparable to The Continental Hotel apartments for well-elderly. They have some basic things provided: a secure living environment, convenient location, and options for additional services.

When one starts to need some reminders to take medication on time or someone to check their blood pressure periodically, they can transition to an assisted living facility within the same family, such as The Continental at St. Joseph’s Assisted Living. Often, the further you go in a continuum of care, the more services are offered or included. Our assisted living community includes most utilities, daily transportation, weekly housekeeping and laundry as well as some basic nursing services included in basic rent. Plus, there are additional levels of care if more services are needed.

When the tenant needs to have some skilled care as the result of a recent hospitalization or needs nursing home care on a long-term basis, they would then proceed to the associated skilled nursing facility, such as our very own Continental Care Center at Seymour. There you can receive skilled rehab services to regain strength and ideally return home or participate in different therapies on an ongoing basis for those who are not eligible to return to their previous living arrangement.

The benefits of the continuum of care model include a much smoother transition, deposits that are transferable from one building/community to another, freer communication between staff so that the community that is receiving the new tenant knows their habits, likes, dislikes and general routine. Plus, in most instances, tenants moving between communities are a shoe-in! “We will always strive to keep a tenant within our ‘family’ by anticipating changes in level of care and ensuring that there is a room/apartment ready for them when the tenant and family is ready to make the change,” said Kristen Sheston, assistant administrator for The Continental at St. Joseph’s.

With all of these benefits and options for care, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a continuum of care program?

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Administrator of The Continental at St. Joseph’s, the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

How to Be a Heavy Drinker: Hydration for Seniors

As I write this article, we are not experiencing particularly warm weather in Iowa. It’s 64 degrees in June but as soon as I blink it’ll be 101. Hot weather brings up the topic for this month’s informational article. However, hydration is not the only concern for seniors when the weather is warm.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to dehydration. Some of them include diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes, diuretic medications, high fever and excessive sweating. If you experience any of these, be aware and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids.

You may ask yourself: What is hydration? Well, it refers to a person’s body water balance. Dehydration, which is the real problem, occurs when people don’t have enough fluid in their bodies. Many seniors have problems with hydration. Dehydration is both a serious problem and easy to prevent. If not treated it could result in death.

What puts seniors at greater risk for dehydration? First, is that the ability to feel thirst lessens with age; seniors may not realize when they need to drink more. They may also be using the bathroom more frequently which means they are losing more fluid. Another factor is that as we age we lose muscle and gain fat. Muscle holds water, fat does not. As we age the amount of water in the body decreases. In addition, medications that increase urination or help with constipation can also put seniors at risk for dehydration.

So what should you look for in order to know if you are dehydrated? Symptoms include thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, fatigue and irritability. If it progresses to dizziness, blackouts when sitting up or standing, confusion, muscle weakness or cramping, sunken eyes, low blood pressure or increased heart rate you need to go to the ER or contact your doctor immediately: these are life threatening symptoms.

If you’re not a big fan of dehydration there are steps you can take to be proactive: don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, by this time you’re already experiencing dehydration.

Try carrying a water bottle with you so you can take drinks frequently, aim for a minimum of eight cups of water each day. When the temperature rises, increase your fluid intake, too. This will help replenish what is lost when we sweat. We should all start and end the day with a cup of water. Do not substitute alcohol or caffeinated drinks for water. Last but not least, know the signs and symptoms of dehydration so that you can take action immediately.

Take care, keep hydrated and enjoy the warm weather…..whenever it returns.

The Continental at St. Joseph’s is the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

 

By: Kristen Sheston

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Administrator at The Continental at St. Joseph’s

Spotlight on Senior Health: Identifying Malnutrition and Ways to Combat It

Good nutrition is important for people of all ages, especially seniors who may be facing several obstacles to a healthy diet. For families and caregivers, knowing what to look for and possible causes for inadequate nutrition can be a life saver– literally.

Identifying the causes of malnutrition may seem obvious: not eating, not getting enough nutrients, or possibly a medical condition. But malnutrition is often caused by a combination of physical, social and psychological factors. For example:

• Health problems: decreased appetite, certain medications, trouble chewing, difficulty absorbing nutrients.
• Limited income or social contact: trouble affording groceries with the cost of expensive medications. Seniors eating along may not enjoy meals and lose interest in eating.
• Depression: loneliness, poor health, and decreased mobility may contribute to depression and loss of appetite.
• Alcoholism: acting as a substitute for meals. Alcohol also decreases the appetite.
• Restricted diets: limited salt, fat, protein and sugar can be bland and unappealing.

When an insufficient diet goes undetected it may lead to fatigue, depression, weakened immune system and risk of infection, reduced red blood count (anemia), muscle weakness which can then lead to falls and fractures, digestive, lung and heart problems and poor skin integrity. Proper nutrition is particularly important for older adults who are seriously ill and those who suffer from dementia or experience weight loss.

The first step to combating this issue with your loved one is knowing what to look for. Take time to observe their eating habits and not just at special occasions. If they live alone, who buys his or her groceries? If they live in a long term care facility, visit during mealtimes. Next, look for the physical signs: poor healing, easy bruising, dental problems and weight loss (changes in how clothing fits). Finally, know their medications. Many drugs have an effect on appetite, digestion and the absorption of nutrients.

So what can you do if you suspect malnutrition? Start by encouraging your loved one to eat foods packed with nutrients; add nut butters, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and cheese to food. Another easy way can be to wake up bland foods by experimenting with herbs and spices or lemon juice. You can also seek the help of a dietician with this step. Planning between-meal snacks can be particularly helpful since older adults tend to get full quickly. Try making mealtime a social event by joining them or encouraging them to eat with others. By encouraging daily physical activity, the appetite is stimulated and bones and muscles become stronger. If cost is a concern, try providing money saving tips like clipping coupons or watching sales. Encourage them to visit restaurants that offer senior discounts. Visit with your loved one’s doctor about changing medications that affect appetite.

Remember, identification and treatment of nutrition problems early on can promote good health, independence and increased longevity. Assisted living communities like The Continental at St. Joseph’s can ensure that your loved one is getting three well-balanced each day. If you suspect signs of malnutrition be sure to take steps now to ensure your loved one’s health.

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Administrator at The Continental at St. Joseph’s, the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

More information is available at http://www.thecontinentalatstjosephs.com/.