Senior Living: Keeping Your Elderly Loved Ones Safe During the Pandemic

 

 

 

The News Can Be Frightening

The news is full of stories and statistics about the devastation of Covid-19 for our seniors in retirement facilities.  The pandemic began in the US at a retirement facility.  In New Jersey, over half the deaths are in those facilities.

The News Presents a Distorted Picture

If we just stop and consider what we know about senior living facilities, we realize that there is a wide variety of options when considering senior living facilities, ranging from ‘nursing homes’ to retirement communities with individual condominiums. There are many more facilities with no Covid-19 outbreaks than there are with outbreaks that create such frightening statistics of infections and deaths.

BeeHive Homes Offers Safe, Affordable Senior Care Choices

At BeeHive Homes, we are committed to the safety and health of our clients.  Our facilities are designed to keep individual housing units small (from 12 to 21 residents).  This allows us to more effectively control the residential environment.  Here are some of the other ways we keep our clients safe:

 

 

BeeHive Homes Offers Peace of Mind

Here at BeeHive Homes we have been in this crisis since March 11, 2020.  So far, there hasn’t been a single positive case of COVID-19 among our Residents!  The proactive measures we have executed paired with the small home-like environment of our BeeHive Homes makes us a safe place and the next best place to Home.  If you or a loved one needs assisted living, don’t let this pandemic hold you back.  We’d love the opportunity to help you make this decision and give you the options you are looking for.

Chi Gong for the Elderly: Part 2

What Is Chi Gong?

‘Chi’ is the vital force, the life force that is transmitted by the breath.  “Gong’ can be translated as exercise.  So chi gong provides exercises that maximize the benefits of healthy breathing.  The great news for seniors is that there are literally hundreds of simple exercises that maximize the benefits of breath and chi.  Many exercises can be done while sitting in a chair or even lying down.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Chi Gong?

One may notice an overall improvement in physical well-being.  You just feel better.  When you feel good physically, all of your life feels better.

Doing Chi Gong With Physical Impairments

Trouble standing?  Problems that keep you in a wheelchair?  Bedridden?  No problem.  All the exercises I will be offering can be done sitting and even lying in a bed.  In this first column, I will offer two simple exercises that can be done standing, sitting, or even lying in a bed.  Like any exercise, however, the benefits will only be realized by those who do them on a regular basis.  Make a commitment to do these exercises at least once a day and preferably twice a day.

Exercise Three - Shoot the Tiger

Standing, or sitting Slowly, while breathing in through the nose, reach the right hand in front across to the opposite shoulder.  Pull and arrow from your quiver.  Sweep the arrow in a large circle.  The opposite hand follows in its own sweeping circle. Now do the same exercise starting with the left hand reaching to the right shoulder.   Repeat 7 more times to each side.

 

Exercise Four -

Snake Sticks Out Its Tongue

Breathing in, the right hand raises to just in front of the mouth.  Fingers touch at the tips  Now reach out like a tongue coming from the mouth. The left hand comes to the mouth, palm out.  Now repeat this using the left hand as a tongue, the right defending the face, palm facing out.  Repeat 7 more times to each side.

 

Come back next time and I will share more Chi Gong exercises.

 

(The Rev. Jim Norton is a retired Episcopal priest and Sufi teacher.  He has been doing Tai Chi and Chi Gong for over 50 years.)

Solitaire for Health and Well-Being

 

Benefits of Playing Regular Solitaire

Mental Health

How would you define good mental health in old age? 

 

 

The list could go on forever.  But let’s talk about old age mental health in more scientific and medical terms.

 

Focus

We can all agree, that having a good ability to focus our attention and thought on one thing at a time, is a healthy sign in old age.  To play solitaire well, one needs to be able to focus on one task or assessment at a time.

 

 

Concentration

Concentration is an important aspect of focus. Solitaire requires one to be able to concentrate on multiple forcing at one time. Many simultaneous decisions must be made to get good at solitaire.

 

 

 

Problem Solving

The game of solitaire requires one to hone one's problem solving skills.  These multiple problems must be looked at individually,and also in the context of the whole game.  Solitaire provides a fun way to get daily mental exercise, thus helping to keep our minds functioning and sound as we age.

 

We can recommend trying your favorite game of solitaire against your computer.

 

Double solitaire, doubles the Benefits

The innovations of the World Wide Web and the computing power of our handheld devices have enabled us to play any card game with any number of other folks.  If you have never tried this, please accept this invitation to google, interactive card games.

You will be benefiting your own health and well being and that of your friends, old and new.

Chi Gong for the Elderly

What Is Chi Gong?

‘Chi’ is the vital force, the life force that is transmitted by the breath.  “Gong’ can be translated as exercise. So chi gong provides exercises that maximize the benefits of healthy breathing.  The great news for seniors is that there are literally hundreds of simple exercises that maximize the benefits of breath and chi.  Many exercises can be done while sitting in a chair or even lying down.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Chi Gong?

 

 

One may notice an overall improvement in physical well-being.  You just feel better. When you feel good physically, all of your life feels better.

Doing Chi Gong With Physical Impairments

Trouble standing?  Problems that keep you in a wheelchair?  Bedridden? No problem. All the exercises I will be offering can be done sitting and even lying in a bed.  In this first column, I will offer two simple exercises that can be done standing, sitting, or even lying in a bed.  Like any exercise, however, the benefits will only be realized by those who do them on a regular basis. Make a commitment to do these exercises at least once a day and preferably twice a day.  

Exercise One - Two Hands Reach the Sky

Standing, sitting, or lying in a bed, Slowly, while breathing in through the nose, raise both hands in front of you.  Stretch both hands above you. Form claws with your hands at the top. Bring your hands slowly down in front of your face as you breathe out slowly through the nose, grasping the energy from the sky.  Let your hands relax as they drop. Finally, spread the energy out to bless the earth. Repeat 7 more times.  

 

Exercise Two - Kidney Rub

Rub your hands together vigorously in front of you while slowly breathing in and out through the nose.  Now wash your face without touching it. Next, repeat rubbing your hands together. Finally, reach around your back as best you can, forming two loose fists and rub your kidney area with a circular motion.  Repeat 7 more times.

The  Importance of Organizing in a Senior’s Living Space

 It’s common knowledge that we as humans tend to accumulate stuff in our living space throughout our lives. The more the years go by, the more the piles of stuff seem to grow. Although a some of these items we keep have sentimental value, a lot of the stuff we tend to hoard really are things that we no longer need. Decluttering and organizing is a great way to free up the space in our lives! And for the elderly, it’s actually very important. Having things laying around or not in the best place can really increase the risks of falls and injuries to the elderly. Helping your aging loved one go through their belongings is a great way to bring up memories and to get rid of things that might be putting them at risk. When you are moving your loved one into an assisted living home, it’s the perfect time to do this! Here are some ways to help your aging relative to downsize and declutter.

Make sure that you are being patient and understanding.

It actually can be very hard for the elderly to go through and get rid of their old belongings. Not only does going through the loads of stuff feel overwhelming, but it actually can be a grieving process for them. Getting rid of items from your past is kind of like saying that you are shutting the door on one season of life, and needing to accept the next. This can be a scary thing for seniors to do. So make sure you are sensitive to their feelings as you help them go through their memories. Do not say things like “Why have you always kept this?” or “This is junk!”.

Have Keep, Toss, and Maybe boxes.

If your loved one is hesitant to get rid of something, don’t try to force them to. Just put it in a box that they can decide on later. Trying to force them to decide in the moment might aggravate them, and slow down the process even more. Just take a step back and say “I’ll put it in this box so that you can decide later if you want to keep or get rid of it.” This will help them feel like they have a sense of control over their lives. I also do not recommend just throwing something away when they aren’t looking. I have seen this happen before. It does not help the relationship between the aging parent and their child and it can lead to bitterness.

Suggest that they donate their items to people in need

This could be a good way to give your loved one some incentive to get rid of things. If your family member loves helping people, they might be more willing to part with their stuff if they know that it’s going to a family who is really in need.

Get the layout of their new room from the assisted living center ahead of time.

When you do this, you can figure out how much furniture and other items would be the best for your loved one to bring. It’s best to have the center of the room open, so that there won’t be any obstacles if they wake up in the night to go to the bathroom. Also use good organizational boxes to make sure everything has a place, whether it’s in the closet or their dressers. Also make sure to keep things off of the floor, that would be a fall hazard. Another way to help prevent falls is to put some sort of grippy tape and motion sensor lights near their bed. That way when they do get up at night, they can see where they are walking.

Have a special place where they can store sentimental memories.

This can be anything from a box in the closet to one of the drawers in their dresser. Wherever you decide to put this spot, make sure that it’s in a place where it’s easy for them to access. That way they can go through those memories whenever they would like. Having it to high can make easy to fall on them, and having it to low can make them lose their balance.

Above all, try to make the “going through” process fun and enjoyable. Make conversation with your loved one about memories as you come across them.

 

 

Everyone Has a Story, What’s Yours?

Moving into an assisted living or a nursing home is a big change for everybody. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with that change. A lot of elderly struggle with feeling like they no longer have a purpose in life. Boredom, anxiety, and stress can all contribute to health issues. There is a lot of down time that can accompany moving into an assisted living home. And it is during down time that we often reflect on if our life had any meaning. We look back on good times, and on our regrets.

 

This is why it is imperative for the elderly to share their stories. Research shows that those who actually write down their stories are able to process their lives better. Writing down their stories can give them a feeling of control over their lives and help raise their self-esteem. It can also help those struggling with depression, improve their cognition and improve their behavioral functioning. Having seniors write down their stories is also a great way for these stories to be preserved for the next generation! It can help families come together and sort out issues between family members, by helping them see things from the other person’s perspective.

 

Storytelling is even a great way to help people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s. If your family member has this, don’t just disregard them if they are constantly rambling about something. A lot of times, the things that are talking about have to do with something in their past. And you might find that they still have lots of memories from a long ago.

 

Reminiscing is therapeutic. And there are ways that we can help the elderly go through the journey of writing down their lives. Here are some ways that you can help your aging family member:

 

  1. Create a list of questions before meeting with them that will ask them about different areas in their life.
  2. Use a recorder/tape to record the conversation. Nowadays this is even easier because most people have some sort of recording app right on their phones!
  3. Let them know why you want to know the stories of their lives, who will get to see it, and how it will be used. A great way to use their stories is by making them some sort of scrapbook about their lives with the stories placed in it!
  4. Be gentle and make sure to have your listening ears on.
  5. If there is a subject that they don’t feel comfortable sharing, don’t push it. You want this experience to be enjoyable for both of you!
  6. Make sure you are in an area that is quiet and free from distractions.
  7. If something isn’t clear, ask questions that will bring clarity.
  8. Nowadays, there are amazing resources that help seniors write down their stories! Resources on the internet are great! There are free websites that can help people go through the process!

Not only will taking your elderly family through the stories of their lives be beneficial for them and you, it will also be beneficial for their caregivers at their new home. For CNA’s and other healthcare workers, knowing about their client’s stories can help them connect and know how to best take care of your family members. Finding out the elderly’s stories just takes time, patience, and a decision let things slowdown in life. Even if it’s just for a few hours! And that is beneficial for everyone!

 

 

 

Dealing with Fear

Fear. That’s probably something that a lot of us are feeling right now. We are living in a world full of unknowns since the recent outbreak of the COVID-19/Coronavirus. While there is reason to be concerned, we should not let fear overtake and overwhelm us. There are many ways to be prepared and to help prevent the spread of this virus. For the elderly, it is a very good idea to be extra cautious. Elderly are reported to be more at risk to complications from this virus then those who are younger than them.

 

 

Take the steps that the CDC has put into the place to keep yourself safe. Some of these steps are:

While it is good to follow the steps above, we need to make sure that we do not go into panic mode. That panic mode comes from a place of fear. It has been proven that living in fear can have significant impacts on your mental and physical health. Some ways that it can affect you are:

-changes in eating or sleeping patterns

-difficulty sleeping or concentrating

-worsening of chronic conditions or diseases

-increased use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol

 

There are many more ways that fear can affect your body. But I think one of the main things we need to focus on are ways to work through that fear and not to dwell on it. If you are living in an assisted living home, you are probably already being quarantined for your safety. Here are some ideas of how to not focus on the fear and to help with any boredom that you might be experiencing:

  1. Shut off the news, media or even Facebook for periods of time throughout the day. Constantly having your mind bombarded with all the chaos can really cause anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself. Relax, remember to eat healthy, stretch, take a nap, meditate, pray or read your bible. Whatever it is for you that helps you feel peaceful.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your feelings of anxiety. Verbally processing things can help sort out all the chaos going on in your brain. If you already struggle with issues of mental health, this is all the more important!
  4. Try to find activities that you enjoy to take your mind off of the current situation. Reading, doing puzzles, making crafts, sewing, playing games, etc.
  5. If you are living in an assisted living home or nursing home and are experiencing a time where you aren’t allowed visitors for quarantine reasons, this is a great opportunity to call people on the phone or even write them letters the old-fashioned way!
  6. Try to find things that you are thankful for in this season. Even if it’s small, try to find one thing per day. This really helps in changing our mindsets from negative to positive!

Above all else, try to reflect on this acronym for the word F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. So many times, when we are afraid, it’s because we are constantly going over the what if’s in our minds. Try not to write the script before it happens. Most of the time, the what if’s that we spend so much time worrying about never happen anyway.

 

7 Simple Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One with Diabetes

Let’s talk diabetes. For many, that is a big scary word that most people never want to hear from their doctor. Usually when a diagnosis like this comes, it means that there has to be some dramatic changes in our lives. Most people do not like change, especially people who have gone through many seasons of life. If you have an aging loved one who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, you might be feeling overwhelmed about how to best care for them. Especially if they are living alone or in an assisted living home. How can you help them when you aren’t constantly there to check up on them? Here are 7 ways that you can:

 

 

  1. Open up communication with the staff of the assisted living home and your loved one’s doctor. When you keep communication lines open, it will make you feel reassured that your loved one is getting well looked after, even when you aren’t there.
  2. Go along to their appointments and take notes about anything that the doctor says. Research the disease beforehand, that way you know which questions to ask. If you can’t make it to an appointment find someone that they can trust to take them instead.
  3. Make sure to talk to the nurses at the assisted living home about your loved one’s medication regimen, any diet changes that are needed, and about the level of exercise that the doctor says your loved one should be getting.
  4. Encourage your aging family member in any changes that need to be made to help improve their overall health. This could be as simple as learning how to use a daily glucose test and showing them how to do it. Or helping them understand which medications they need to take and when.
  5. Ask their doctor about which exercise regimen is good for them and either drive them to their exercise classes or PARTICIPATE in it with them. Exercise will help lower stress levels and in turn bring down blood sugar levels.
  6. Another way to help is to get creative with them in the kitchen. With diabetes, doctors usually recommend that they have a good diet full of a variety of vegetables and proteins. Sugary foods and lots of carbohydrates can really hurt a diabetic. This can be a hard one to change, especially if your loved one has spent most of their lives eating processed food. Share the journey of getting healthier with them so they don’t feel like they are all alone in it. Make new recipes together or help them modify some of their old favorites to make them healthier. Another way to help with food is to help stock their kitchen with good healthy snack choices for them to eat throughout the day.
  7. For diabetics having wounds or blisters can really be a cause for concern, especially on the feet. Because their nerve endings are damaged it could be hard for them notice if there is any damage to their feet. If it goes on for a while without treatment, this could lead to serious problems like infection, gangrene or amputations. So please teach your loved one how to regularly check their feet. Also encourage them to wear shoes or slippers that will prevent them from stubbing their toes or falling.

Overall, just try to be there for your loved one. They might not show you that they appreciate it, in fact they might show you the opposite. But try to keep encouraging them that you are only trying to help them keep their independence longer so that they can live the rest of their lives to the fullest.

Water! Why It’s So Important

Our bodies are made of approximately 50% water. It is a well-known fact that in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, we need to constantly be replenishing that supply. On average, we lose about 2-3 quarts of water a day. This can vary depending on the time of the year, your activity level, and if you’re on medications. For seniors, it is especially important to be maintaining good hydration. As we grow older, it becomes easier to forget to drink water, one of the reasons is because our sense of thirst diminishes. Dehydration is actually one of the top reasons that the elderly end up going to the hospital. That’s why it is extremely important for the elderly to drink, drink, drink! Let’s look at more reasons on why drinking water can better your health.

 

  1. Prevent Sickness and Disease

Being dehydrated can actually be a major contributing factor to a lot of the diseases that those in their later years suffer from. Kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, joint pain, headaches, and asthma can all stem from not drinking enough water. Water lubricates the body, which would help your joints. And it also keeps your digestive and urinary systems running smoothly so you won’t suffer from things like constipation, UTI’s, and kidney stones. Water helps your body flush out the nasty toxins that create the health issues listed above.

 

  1. Gives Your Brain and Emotions A Boost

One of the things that happens when our bodies are dehydrated, is that our cells shrink. When this occurs in your brain, it can cause you to have a foggy mind, memory problems, and not be able to make decisions easily. So, drinking plenty of water can help keep your brain sharp! It will help you feel better mentally and emotionally. Studies show that those who drink more water are often in a way better mood!

 

What if you don’t like drinking water? What are ways to keep your body hydrated? I think we have all been there, where we are just sick of drinking plain water. I totally get it! Here are some tips to stay hydrated in other ways!

 

When living in an assisted living or nursing home, it can actually be harder sometimes to stay hydrated. Different things can contribute to this. If the facility is short staffed, it could be harder for the workers to meet everyone’s drinking needs. Or if the resident has any physical impairments that could cause them to need help to eat or drink, it could be harder for them to get enough fluid intake throughout the day. If you do have a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home, please keep checking up on them to make sure they are staying hydrated. Ask the nurse about how they are doing when it comes to their urine output. And about how much they are eating and drinking each day. The nurse should have it all in their charts. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and stay proactive in your loved one’s life.

 

 

 

Change of the Seasons

We are currently in the depths of winter. For some, that might be more noticeable than for others.  The days are getting longer, the sun is coming out more, the temperature is starting to be above the 30s at least a couple times a week. It’s all so exciting!  New life and springtime are just around the corner. The change of the seasons always makes me reflect about life and how we are always going through different seasons throughout our lives. We go through seasons of joy, depression, loss, hurt, forgiveness, disappointment, death, and seasons of contentment, peace and new life. Transition, transition, transition, it’s a part of what makes life, life.

Maybe you or a family member are in a season of major transition. The older we get, the transition to a life of less mobility looms closer. Some of you may have already gone through the transition or some of you might be thinking about it for yourself or for a loved one. The transition could involve moving into an assisted living home, nursing home or maybe into a relative’s home, because you just can’t do the things that you used to be able to do. These transitions can be scary. A lot of people do not like change. This is especially common for the elderly. I think one of the important things to remember when you are going through a season of change, is to give yourself grace.

When you transition, it means that something in your life is coming to an end. There is often a grieving process that we need to go through in our hearts when something in our lives is completed. First, we go through denial, trying to put off the inevitable, and not fully accepting the change that needs to happen. Then we go through times of disappointment, sadness, anger and bitterness, and can even sometimes place the blame on loved ones around us, who are just trying to help. Remember, it’s okay to feel these things. It is a normal part of the grieving process. And a lot of times it feels like that season of feeling down is never going to end. But there is hope!

Even on your worst days, try to remember that you are going through the stages of grief because of the changes in your life, and give yourself grace. It may not feel like it at the time, but soon you will reach the final stage of the grieving process, which is acceptance. Accepting the fact that you had a different life before, reflecting on those memories with joy, and now being able to accept any new moments of joy that will come your way. Be on the lookout for them. There are many things that you can enjoy, even in this new stage of your life.

Here are some other ways that can help you go through seasons of transition. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you. People you can trust and who can verbally process all the changes in your life with. Don’t pick people that will join you down in the gutter. Pick people who will genuinely listen to you, and then encourage you as you go through it. And don’t be afraid to share your feelings with them. So many times, we try to hold our feelings in, to prove that we are resilient, but that can make this season of transition way harder. If you have a family member who is transitioning to an assisted living home, try to be that supportive, listening ear to them. And give them grace to go through the process that they need to. Another way to help them is by making sure that they are getting adequate sleep, exercise, and encouraging them to join into any activities going on at their new home. Being active is a great way to help the elderly take their minds off of the negative.

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