Your Best Memory Care Homes in New Mexico

Your Best Memory Care Homes in New Mexico

Overview

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 7 in 10 seniors will, at some point in their lives, need long-term care. In some estimates, almost 68% of seniors in nursing homes or residential care have cognitive impairment to some degree.

Resident with trained staff in memory care

Resident with trained staff in memory care

What is memory care?

A memory care community is either a wing/unit of a residential care facility or a residential care facility that is specifically designed for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Its goal is to provide personalized care that will lead to a high quality of life for residents while also reducing the symptoms such as depression, anger, aggression, and wandering.

Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities also have staff or medical teams specially trained to deal with people who have dementia. They may have a specific wing in the community for those residents. However, despite the prevalence of cognitive impairment, not all residential care facilities and nursing homes offer the same kind of care for people with dementia.

The US Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2017 the different percentages of nursing home and residential care facility residents with cognitive impairment and residential care facilities offering beds to address dementia care needs.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Reported in 2017

The US Department of Health and Human Services Reported in 2017

Despite the national data suggesting that over 60% and 40% of nursing home residents and residential care facility residents, respectively, in the USA have dementia, only about 17% residential care facilities offer beds to address dementia care needs. Moreover, the definition of a memory care from one state to another is not so consistent; thus, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages people who have a loved one suffering from dementia to advocate for consistent policy as regards memory care.

Basically, memory care communities provide a high quality of life for its residents while taking additional measures, such as putting security measures in place or locking some units so that residents can neither wander nor leave to ensure their safety. There are other communities as well that take a less formal approach to security, but they are securing the outside grounds so that no one can leave the property.

Memory care facilities also help your aging loved ones to manage their healthcare and medications by giving you the option of specialized care. They not only care for the residents’ medical needs; they also offer opportunities to engage in activities that work best for people with cognitive impairment. Some communities even offer activities that are known to be beneficial for people with cognitive changes, such as musical entertainment, therapy pets, or the opportunity to spend time in the gardens.

Things to know about memory care

Care for your aging loved one can come with a higher price. According to CareScout, monthly cost for care for aging adults ranges from $1,560 to $9,000—this is based on the data from 440 regions across the USA. Generally, dementia care is estimated to add an average of $13,000 annually to the expected costs for residential care. But the costs vary depending on the services needed as well as your location. Moreover, some facilities may not disclose additional charges for memory care upfront unless you personally inquire for them.

The good thing about living in a memory care unit is that it offers several benefits, including less use of antipsychotic medications and physical restraints for patients, less likelihood of tube feeding, improved medical care for other health issues, and of course higher quality of life for our aging loved ones.

Although many facilities may declare that they have staff trained in memory care or in a memory care wing, it is noteworthy that, as part of the Nursing Care Center Accreditation Program, the Joint Commission has crafted specific requirements for a Memory Care Certification in 2014.

The following are the five key areas that memory care accreditation considers:

Care coordination

To ensure comprehensive care, your loved one’s team will work together, as well as your aging parent as appropriate.

Knowledge and competency of the staff

In order to prepare the staff to work with people who have cognitive impairments, they can demonstrate training and other necessary skills.

Ability-based activity programming

There are activities available that fit your aging loved one’s physical function, language, attention span, cognitive ability, reasoning ability, and memory.

Behavior management

The behaviors linked to dementia are addressed first using non-pharmacological means, such as taking a look at scheduling, environment, and other potential causes for behavior.

Safe and supportive physical environment

In order to keep all residents safe and to reduce stress and overstimulation, the physical environment is well managed by the staff.

Memory care certification that are optional

Facilities need not have a specific area or a wing to house residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. To be certified, a facility must demonstrate the following instead:

Services and amenities provided in memory care facilities

Staffed by trained professionals providing care to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, memory care communities are licensed facilities designed to accommodate residents (older adults) with progressive cognitive impairment.

Memory care facilities offer similar care provided in an assisted living community, including help with daily living activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and medication management. Collaborative care coordination is one of the most crucial amenities which is tailored to your aging parent’s needs and abilities.

Similar with assisted living, the following are also provided in memory care communities: meals, private or semi-private units, social activities, housekeeping, transportation to doctor’s appointments and other outings, and access to round-the-clock nurses.

Research suggests that activities such as art, gardening, music, and dancing help people with cognitive impairments, but it also depends on their physical abilities. Thus, some memory care facilities also organize these activities led by their trained staff or volunteers.

There are also memory care programs that support faith for your aging loved one who has always been involved in a faith practice. Those having trouble remembering names and new faces may still be comforted by the rituals, music, and traditions associated with their lifetime of religious observance.

Majority of the memory care communities are intended to make residents feel oriented, secure, and safe in their environment. To prevent the residents from wandering, they include specially designed features such as doors with alarm and secured courtyards. They also used security cameras and personal monitoring devices. As part of the commitment to safety, food and drinks made available are also considered.

Cognitive therapies and programs are offered by many of these communities to keep the residents’ brain active and engaged. Likewise, light stretching and other appropriate physical activities may be offered to protect the balance and flexibility of the residents.

Moreover, many memory care communities planned activities in the facility involving families of residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease so that they can still enjoy their family.

Quality Time with Family in Memory Care

Quality Time with Family in Memory Care

Comparison between memory care and other senior care options

Understanding the different types of long-term residential care available is important as you start considering the right long-term care solution for your aging loved ones.

To help you make the best decisions, here is a look at two different but increasingly common residential care options for your aging loved ones—memory care and assisted living.

Assisted living

Assisted living is designed for generally healthy older adults needing some help with their daily living activities. Residents in those communities still live as independently as they can, even knowing that their helping hands are just one call away. They typically have apartments or private studios, but some also prefer to share an apartment with another resident. Most apartments are equipped with kitchenettes, full bathrooms, enough space to engage in hobbies, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends.

Many assisted living facilities also organize a variety of social events, classes, and activities for residents. They further organize regular outings to shopping centers, restaurants, and other attractions to help residents stay active and engaged in their communities. Moreover, they also offer transportation to their doctor’s appointment.

Types of care provided

Assisted living

Assisted living communities provide trained staff on site to assist the residents with ADLs; at most communities, facilities and nurses are available around the clock to help residents with basic activities including bathing, eating, dressing, and toileting. Additionally, some have on-site medical clinics.

In most communities, additional levels of care are provided for older adults needing more assistance, including pain management and physical therapy.

Memory care setting

Memory care facilities, on the other hand, have well-trained nurses or staff to provide care to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive impairments to ensure their wellbeing.

They provide residents with highly supervised care including assistance with ADLs and managing medication. They also ensure that the residents are able to enjoy the highest quality of life possible by organizing fun, stimulating activities specifically designed for adults with dementia.

Most memory care facilities offer secure private and shared rooms equipped with emergency call systems. In order to lower the likelihood of a resident wandering, the rooms are highly monitored. These facilities generally provide meals, transportation to nearby clinics and shopping, social activities, specialized exercise programs, and 24-hour staff supervision.

Costs

Assisted living

Assisted living communities typically charge a base monthly rate covering daily meals, some transportation, housekeeping, and rent; additional services like laundry and specialized care may either have additional cost or are already included in the community’s overall monthly fee.

The average cost for assisted living may vary depending on its geographic location, apartment size, and healthcare requirements of the resident. According to the Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, its monthly average cost ranges from $3,293 to $6,965.

Memory care

The cost for memory care facilities, on the other hand, is higher compared with assisted living as people with cognitive impairment typically require more specialized and extensive care than other healthy older adults. Its costs, however, cover the same types of services as in assisted living communities.

Depending on where you live, the monthly average cost for memory care ranges from $3,700 to $7,000.

Best memory care homes in New Mexico

One of the top cities for memory care is New Mexico. This diverse state consists of a diverse array of memory care providers, from urban centers to rural desert towns.

BeeHive Homes of Assisted Living Albuquerque NM - Dementia Care & Alzheimer Care Facilities

BeeHive Homes of Assisted Living Albuquerque NM - Dementia Care & Alzheimer Care Facilities, located at 6401 Corona Ave NE Building B, in the heart of Albuquerque, is a leading operator of assisted living, dementia & Alzheimer care communities. Phone: (505) 796-9139

BeeHive Assisted Living Santa Fe NM - ( Alzheimer & Senior Care / Dementia & Memory Care )

BeeHive Assisted Living Santa Fe NM - ( Alzheimer & Senior Care / Dementia & Memory Care ), located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, offers Dementia and Alzheimer's services for your aging loved one. Phone: (505) 629-1714

BeeHive Assisted Living Homes of Rio Rancho NM #1 - Dementia Care & Memory Care

BeeHive Assisted Living Homes of Rio Rancho provides an assortment of community features. It provides free wi-fi and high speed internet as well as guest parking. This community, located at 204 Silent Spring Road Northeast, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, provides the support of dementia & memory care. Phone: (505) 591-7021

Memory care communities come in different names in different places across the USA. If you are preparing or looking for your best memory care home in your area, you can utilize the internet and search the following terms: “memory care near me,” “alzheimer's care facilities near me,” and “dementia facilities near me.”

Conclusion

Memory care and assisted living are two communities intended for our aging loved ones. However, these two are different. The former is designed for older adults with cognitive impairment, while the latter is intended for generally healthy seniors who need assistance with their ADLs. But there are also some assisted living communities that have a wing or unit for memory care.

Should you have an aging loved one who is generally healthy but needs help with ADLs, an assisted living community is for you. But if your aging parent has cognitive impairment, then you can look for memory care facilities in your area. 

 

Do Aging Adults Need More Sleep?

Many people think that aging adults need less sleep than the average adult. Research suggests that this is not the case, however & that aging adults actually need as much as sleep as young adults do. 7-9 hours of sleep is necessary for most people over the age of 20.

In general, aging adults tend to become sleepier earlier in the evening because their sleep structure has changed. They still need the same amount of sleep, just tend to get sleepier earlier in the evening and wake much earlier in the morning hours. If there were no other problems with their sleep schedules, this would not be a serious concern. They could wake fully refreshed after 7-9 hours of sleep, just waking earlier than some of their counter-parts & retiring earlier, as well. The problems arise when there are things that interfere with those 7-9 hours of sleep.

A myriad of disturbances can affect the way we sleep. As we age, more of those concerns tend to be health related. Some of the most common are:

Sleep apnea/loud snoring: Extremely loud snoring & sleep apnea in which a person is not breathing regularly during sleep are fairly common. Once someone has not drawn breath for a time, the body startles itself awake in order to draw breath. If this happens while you are sleeping, or if it happens to a loved one, it may be time to have a sleep study done & buy a machine to help keep your breathing regular throughout the night.

Irregular heart rate. If the pulse is irregular in a sleeping person, sleep will be interrupted for the same reason as above because blood oxygen levels will be lower, causing the person to startle awake on a very regular basis throughout the night. They might sleep for a number of hours, but be awakened several times throughout a minute, thus not getting adequate rest. A doctor needs to be consulted if either sleep apnea or heart issues are suspected.

Restless Leg Syndrome: This ailment affects a number of aging individuals and can cause sleep disturbances for a long period of time. It is difficult to sleep if your legs feel numb or tingling or move of their own accord throughout the night.

Gastro-Intestinal complaints: These can disturb sleep patterns in young & old alike, but are more common in aging populations. Finding the root cause of these is an important step in getting better sleep.

Insomnia: Whether because of difficulty going to sleep, anxiety, or caused by drug interactions from pharmacuetical drugs, insomina is no laughing matter. Lack of sleep can have the same side-effects as heavy drinking or drug use & cause major problems for your daily life. Work with your doctor to find the cause & treat it effectively.

There are a few things that you can do at home to see if they work for you before heading to the doctor.

  1. Go to bed at the same time each night & wake at the same time each morning. See if your schedule is just extremely erratic & whether it could be affecting your sleep. It does not take too long for your body to find its rhythm again if it is allowed to.

  2. Keep the room where you're sleeping cool & throw on a light blanket to stay warm.

  3. Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed. Read a book, listen to music or have a conversation before bed instead of watching TV or playing on a computer or phone. Also, keep electronics and devices out of your bedroom.

  4. Practice a relaxing night-time routine, whether it be a relaxing shower, gentle stretching exercises or reading, these things will begin to trigger bed-time to your brain.

  5. Axe the caffeine. If you are not ready or willing to cut it out altogether, simply cutting it out of your afternoons can improve sleep quality. Replace it with a non-caffeinated beverage that you enjoy equally as much in order to ensure success.

Try keeping a record of the changes that you've made for a solid week or two. Write down the results. Bring this record with you to your doctor in order to open the discussion about your sleep. If they see that you are willing to make lifestyle choices that are healthy in order to combat your lack of sleep, they'll be more motivated to help you find a solution. Ultimately, you will need to be your own advocate in this realm. If you need more rest & are not getting it, talk to your physician or another specialist. Much of it is based on feeling & a physician cannot tell how you feel or whether you are well rested just from a cursory look at you. You will need to communicate the problems, communicate what you've tried to do to solve them & let them know that you are willing to make changes to see sleep success! And, if you've already forgotten what it is like to feel rested when you wake, let me assure you, it feels GREAT! It's a worthy goal to work toward!

The Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences On the Aging Population

 

When people age, we sometimes see things that we are not expecting.  One of the things that we don't expect to see is just how much their childhood experiences affect who they are as a senior adult.  Despite people saying things like, “oh, well, children are resilient” or “they'll bounce back”, mounting evidence suggests that it is simply not true.  Children may appear to 'bounce back', but psychological studies are now discovering that childhood experiences play a large role in the health of aging adults.

 

First, what are some of the things that are considered “Adverse Childhood Experiences” according to psychologists?  The list below is not complete.  The more of these experiences that a child has, the more prevalent mental and physical health risks become, even as they age. If many of these are present in a child's life, their risk levels are compounded for a number of illnesses. Some of the most common adverse childhood experiences are:

 

-low socioeconomic status

-abuse/maltreatment

-neglect

-substance use within household

-mental illness within household

-parental separation/divorce

-incarceration of parent

The problems created by these experiences are two-fold.  There is the experience itself that the person must deal with.  They have to find a way out of the situation, if it's possible to do so, but then throughout the rest of their lives, even into elderly adulthood, they must deal with the memories, emotions, behaviors and physical damage that those incidents have forced them to live with.  All of that has a cumulative effect on their mental, emotional & even physical health.  Studies from New Zealand indicate that the government there is looking into the long-term health effects of these experiences in hopes of helping to lower the economic consequences on their health care system. (1)  In America it is being studied as they follow people who are leaving the foster care system & watch them age in order to find out how these experiences help determine the outcomes of their lives. (2)

Some of the most common physical risks that have been found in the studies of aging adults with ACE's include: depression, inflammation (which can affect a large number systems in the body, including cardio-vascular system), obesity, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, neurodegeneration, etc.  In general, according to the studies done so far, the larger number of ACE's that a person has, the more physical risks the person will have & those risks are amplified by the aging process rather than diminished.

The important thing for those who work with aging adults to know is that there are genuine, long-term health effects because of these types of experiences, no matter the length of time that has lapsed since their occurrence. Mental health intervention may be very necessary in order to help overcome some of the adverse risks.   At the least, a deep sense of caring & understanding will be necessary to work with people who have experienced this kind of trauma in early life, even if they are currently in their waning years. Finding the help that they need can be critical for their health.  The psychological effect of these experiences may be contributing to the physiological problems that they are fighting.  Dealing with the psychological side of the problem may also help to improve they physical condition.  Err on the side of compassion, though it can be difficult to see the link between their past & present. We never know the paths that others have been forced to walk.

Mental Health in the Elderly

Over the past weeks, suicide has come to the forefront of American news as several celebrities have taken their own lives.  In almost all of the cases, people were unaware that the person was hurting or so close to the edge.  It was said that they were some of the “happiest” or that they “smiled all the time”.

In America there are approximately 17 elderly deaths from suicide each day.  The CDC says that “adults over age 65 made up 16% of  all suicide deaths in 2004”. (1) 

Mental health has traditionally been a taboo subject in our culture.  Among the elderly, it's been a stronger taboo than in any other group of people.  So, in light of recent happenings we're going delve into this topic a bit in hopes that you'll come away better able to spot severe depression & help someone get help.  In this circumstance, the saying, “If you see something, say something,” applies.  If you believe that someone is struggling to cope & needs professional help, do not be afraid to speak up!
 

 

So what is depression & how can we spot it in order to help our aging friends & family to be able to get help?

Depression is most often characterized by these qualities.  This is not a comprehensive list, & furthermore, all of them may not be present at all times.  If you suspect that something is wrong, do your best to find help for them.

 

 

-no longer finding favorite passtimes enjoyable

-feelings of loneliness, sadness or emptiness

-loss of appetite

-headaches

-stomach aches

-feeling hopeless

-crankiness, nervousness, severe anxiety

-insomnia or sleeping too much

-overeating

-concentration & memory problems

-digestive problems

-thoughts of suicide

 

Of course this is not comprehensive, but it should get you started in the right direction if you suspect that there is a problem.  Pay attention to the signs, then, if you suspect that the person could benefit from professional help, start seeking out a person that might be able to help.

The causes for depression are wide & varied, but are usually triggered by extreme stress from a changing life event or the death of a loved one.  Those who have family members that have been depressed may have a higher genetic risk for depression.  Also, a couple of recent studies suggest that abuse during childhood may increase the risks of depression & suicidal tendancies.  Chemical imbalances in the body can also contribute.  There are often a number of contributing factors, and no easy answers, but if you can begin the process of getting help before  it goes on for too long, chances are, you could save their life!

 

If anyone you know has need of immediate assistance, the suicide prevention hotline number is listed below:

Call 1-800-273-8255

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/elderly-and-aging

Helping The Elderly (And Ourselves) Let Go

 I remember as a 10 year old kid being asked to help an elderly neighbor clean out an attic she was unable to climb to anymore.  It was a beautiful attic with large, floor-length windows in an old Victorian house.  I was amazed as she requested box after box...knowing exactly where they were placed & precisely what was in them.  I was amazed because that attic was CRAM PACKED with every conceivable thing that a person could want or need.  She was sorting through things she hadn't held in 40-50 years.  She was getting them ready for a garage sale or to donate to someone who may want them as she knew her time was drawing nearer.  She had a terminal illness & wanted to do this service for her children since she didn't want to leave them with a burden of stuff to sort if she could still do it.  Why had she kept it all?  “Just in case I might need it some day.”  Old games were kept in case she came across that missing piece.  Jars were kept in case she decided to take up canning.  Bits of yarn because they were useful.  Rocking horses for great or great-great grandchildren.  Trunks full of polyester clothing might be useful for someone to wear or to make a quilt, at the very least.  Thankfully this attic was well organized & labeled or it could have been worse than it was.  Most attics, garages & other places where we keep things are not.

It seems that many of us are compelled to hold on to material items.  They are useful.  You wouldn't want to set up house without a saucepan, a frying pan & a stockpot.  The problems start to arise when a 2 person household has 5-10 saucepans, & the same amount again of frying pans & stockpots.  When the amount of clothing is unable to be worn even within on year's time.  When the pens dry up from being stored for so many years without use.

Oftentimes this is all accumulated quite innocently.  Someone passes on their items to said person.  That person, in turn, sees that the item is useful and keeps it around “just in case”.  Sometimes this works in our favor.  We've acquired an extra toaster somehow & our old one goes out the next week.  Much more often, however, the items that we accumulate sit and wait for years or for never.  So what's the harm, you say?  If the items are just going to sit there, why not let them pile up?  Because they DON'T just sit there.  Every item that you bring into your home (basement, attic, garage, shed, storage unit) has to be thought about, moved around & cared for. If more items are added, then the previous items need to be gone through & moved around in order to make space for the new.  It's all very mentally exhausting & time consuming.

The first step in letting go of these items is to recognize the mental room that you are giving to them. If you were to keep a tally of how many times thoughts like, “I should go through that” or “I should organize those” went through your head in a given day, you'd probably be surprised at the amount of head-space you're giving to innocent items lying around.

The best way to begin letting go is to gather all of the like items together into one place. Marie Kondo introduced this technique for beginning to put items in order in her book, “The Magic Art of Tidying Up”.  Do not try to de-clutter one room at a time. Start by gathering all like items in one place. If you have 10 vases in one cabinet, a couple dozen downstairs, and several others scattered throughout the house, you'll never know just how many you really have until you gather them together. Books, for instance, should all be retrieved from various parts of the house & brought to one, central location for you to go through & cull that which is no longer useful to you.  That does NOT mean that it doesn't have value, just that it's already served it's purpose in your life (or the life of your aging loved one) and that you're letting it move on to help someone else now.

  Work through why you or they may have kept so much while you cull.  Things might have been tight while you were growing up.  They may remember rationing during wars.  There may have been times of economic hardship when they or you had to use every bit of human ingenuity to scrape through & survive that time of life.  As you go through items, be thankful that they had what it took to survive & help  them realize that it wasn't the stuff that helped them survive, but rather the stuff they were made of.

 

Letting go will open all kinds of doors that they (and you) never realized were slowly closing.  And it will bring you a bit of room to think about what's next & where you'll go from here.  Enjoy that space. Enjoy that freedom.

Be sure to start with things that they are not emotionally attached to, then work your way to keepsakes.  It's easier to deal with the keepsakes if you leave them to the end.  Oftentimes the process of letting go becomes easier once we've dealt with the fear of not having enough.  Letting go of all of the other items, also, has the added benefit that they'll have more time to devote to things like family photos, stories & memories.  They will also have more space to display meaningful items-more time to contact those whom they've been to busy to reach out to for years.

Positive Mental Attitude in Recovery from Illness & Injury

  Everyone, by now, has heard about how important having a positive outlook in life is.  Since the 1980's it has been toted as the thing that can make or break one's mood, relationships, & health while significantly influencing career & every other aspect of life.  “Thinking positive” seems to be the answer to many of life's problems, or at least, seems to be the common prescription from those who do not want hear about someone else's problems.  But can thinking positive, on it's own, really help in the recovery from illness or injury?

First of all, let me say that no one really knows for sure.  Science cannot fully measure just HOW positive a person is, or how much of an improvement that thinking good thoughts can influence recovery.  There are always tragic situations where you encounter a person who seems very positive & happy & discover later that their lives are filled with anxiety and debilitating depression.  There is, however, anecdotal evidence from days gone by that can give us clues on how to recover from illness & injury with grace & a bit of spunk that will make those much younger smile in encouragement.

  1. Don't cry over spilled milk. Have you ever heard that common, old-time expression?  It is one of the ways that people have dealt with difficult circumstances in life throughout the centuries.  It is a form of positive mental attitude to learn to handle things that are beyond our control with grace.  So you broke your hip?   You have to learn how to sit, stand, walk & carry on with life again?  There's nothing you can do to change it, so getting on with physical therapy is the best way to spend your energy at this point.  Don't cry over it, clean it up & carry on!
  2. Older people who have great reputations within their family for life & vitality are often much better at adapting to changes in life.  Perhaps a lung condition has you down?  Learning to use a nebulizer or inhaler when you're supposed to may seem scary at first, but adapting to the reality of your current situation will help you move forward quickly.  Those who are resistant to facing reality, who dig in with both heels & try to remain the same, are often those with major heart or stroke issues.  Positive thoughts are not always flowery, many times they are simply clear reflections of current situations & finding the most mature & loving way to handle them.
  3. Finding the best ways to counteract illness & injury before they occur can also be a form of positive thinking.  Working on your posture, breathing, flexibility, etc. can shows your positive outlook on life as you are wanting to have great quality of life for as long as possible. 

So perhaps thinking good thoughts IS good for you, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to think of sunshine & butterflies in order to be a positive person.  Simply being straightforward, honest, truthful & real will do a world of good as you move into the moonlight stages of life.  Spend some time reflecting on older people that you have known & how they've aged.  Emulate the qualities that you appreciated in them.  It may shorten recovery, but it will definitely improve your life!

Adaptations For Aging

The natural process of growing older can creep up on us in a number of very subtle ways.  I'm so thankful it's a long, slow process, & that as we age we can learn to adapt to all the new ways that things need to be done.  Sometimes we are faced with arthritis, sometimes with bad knees, sometimes with a less than stellar memory.  It's important that we carry on with our normal activities so that we maintain our range of motion, mental clarity & normalcy of life. Fortunately for us, modern technology has come out with a number of products that can help us adapt to our changing needs.

When it comes to aging, many people find that gardening becomes a bit more difficult.  The constant bending and kneeling can be a great workout, but it is also hard on your back, knees & hands.  Many people have found relief by having raised bed gardens installed.  By using raised beds, one can sit on the edge of the garden bed & weed, plant & harvest without having to bend over. You could even use a kneeling pad on which to be seated.  You'll still be able to harvest your own healthful food & take care of flowers, just without the pain.  If you find that weeding or pruning is difficult for arthritic hands, you can buy ergonomically correct hand tools that should help.  Garden in shorter segments of time so that you are not over-using your joints & muscles.  Be sure to keep the sun off of your skin if you are out in the heat of the day, as aging skin is thin & can be harmed more easily by the sun.  Also, remember to wear gloves to protect your hands, especially if you're doing harder work.  Skin heals at a much slower rate as we age.

Rising from the floor, from bed, from a chair, almost anywhere can prove to be more difficult as we age, as well.  First it should be noted that there are exercises called “natural movement” exercises that can be incredibly helpful for aging individuals.  They are not high impact, but help you maintain & even build up your range of motion.  They help with some of the daily activities so that they become easier & so that we build strength to continue to do the things that we currently enjoy doing.  If you find that these exercises are not helping, or that your body needs further assistance, consider motorized beds & chairs that will rise & bend for you to get you started.

If you find walking to be difficult in any way, discuss this with your doctor.  There may be shoes that will correct the pain that you are having.  Sometimes it is just a matter of a little more arch support or wider shoes. Sometimes you may require a bit of physical therapy or a cane to use temporarily.  No one should just put up with pain when there are simple things that could help.  If your walking is adversely affected by vein problems, a doctor can recommend which weight of therapeutic hose or socks to wear to improve circulation & relieve the extreme tiredness of your legs & feet.  If your back is hurting during walking, physical therapy, braces or other interventions could help greatly.

I have known a number of older folks throughout the years.  Those who have had the best quality of life were not the ones who ignored their pain & tried to push forward, but rather the ones who admitted when things were starting to bother them & went about trying to fix the problem.  Long periods of time in pain do nothing except put long term stress on the body & the mind.  It makes a person, understandably, less patient, less understanding & also less tolerable to be around.  So, let's do ourselves & everyone around us a favor & admit when we need to think about making some changes so that our quality of life can continue into our 90's and later! 

Finding Joy in Every Day Life

As we age, there is a definite sameness that begins to take over life.  Same routine, same feelings, same people coming around each day.  Once we've made the transition into an assisted living facility, that sameness can continue & even become crushing, if we allow it.  It does not have to.  Even if our life & routine are very similar from day to day, there are ways to look at that life with a new perspective.

Consider thankfulness.  When you are faced with the mundane, and wonder why you should even bother to get out of bed to face it, consider starting to be thankful for the things that ARE mundane.  The bed, for one, & that you have one.  Perhaps the roof kept you dry last night, there's two.  The heater is working, that's three.  You can breathe, four.  Go through the little things that surround you before you even sit up & soon you will find yourself thankful to be able to sit up & then stand.  It's not guaranteed that you'll be able to do those things for your entire life, so while you can, be thankful & when you can't, find other things to be thankful for.  It really does put a whole new spin on your outlook & on your day.  Our lives are, after all, made up of many consecutive, seemingly mundane days.

Show that you care.  I know, it's not popular in some households & frowned upon by people from some backgrounds, but it's important.  If you can spend even 15 minutes out of every day intentionally letting those around you know that you care for them, in word or deed, it will improve your life, bring you joy & bring joy to them. If you have 10 more minutes, drop letters to those who are further away from you.  If you have 30 extra minutes, call someone you care about.  The sense of connectedness is important to all of us.

Make a few lists.  In the back of my journal I have lists of my favorite sounds, smells, sights, etc.  Spend some time thinking about the things that you really love.  Then, when your day is especially difficult, try your best to incorporate some of those things into your day.  If you love walking in the woods, but never get a chance to do that, make it a point to do that when you're feeling down.  If you love reading, but haven't been able to make time to do it, eek out some time to spend with a good book.  You're a uniquely made person, and as such, you need to pay attention to the things that bring you joy.  They won't necessarily coincide with the things that bring joy to others & that's okay.  It's good to be different & it's good to pay attention to what makes you different.  Feed what brings you joy, starve what brings you anxiety.

  Turn your words.  Sometimes when life is incredibly difficult, negativity can set in.  It's not bad to say things are tough...it is bad when that is the only lens we see things through.  It is bad when it becomes such a habit that we find only negative words coming from our mouths.  Our words can influence our own thoughts & the thoughts of those around us.  Instead of dwelling on the fact that you can't afford XYZ, talk about all the great things in life that are free to you.  Instead of focusing on your waning eyesight, talk about the smell of the rose bush outside your window.  Life is hard, there is no denying it.  How we interact with it can determine whether it has any joy, or whether we'll just endure it.  I choose joy!

Grief and Loss

Aging sometimes has unexpected side-effects.  There are some things that we just don’t think about ahead of time.  There are some things that we can’t see coming or prepare for.  Loss of loved ones & friends is one of those things.  Sure, when we’re young, we notice that it seems as though quite a few people pass on as they grow older, but do we ever think about what that means for their older friends?  It may not be uncommon for them to lose 5 or 6 people they love within a year.  How do any of us cope with the enormity of these types of loss & grief in a healthy way?

 

 

  1. Talk!  I know that for some generations it was looked upon as weakness to express emotions, but it is terribly important to let those emotions out when you’re hit with yet another loss in your life.  Even if it is not the death of a loved one or friend, even if it is simply the loss of an ability or grief over no longer being able to visit them because they’ve moved in with a child across the country.  Let your anger or frustration out, let your sadness out in words or tears.  It is far healthier for you to release it in that way that in pent up frustration and anxiety that will surface at the most inopportune of times!
  2. Reckognize the stage of grief that you may be in. Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing & acceptance.  There are many articles on the internet that can give you more details, but sometimes it’s helpful to know where you’re at and that it is natural.  That, in itself, can be a comfort when you can’t seem to figure out why you’re responding in ways that are not usual for your personality.
  3. Take time to live! Perhaps, even though it may not feel like it, it might be time to press into friendships & family.  Instead of running scared about what else may happen, run toward friends and family.  Try to have meaningful conversations.  Make meaningful memories.  Write down memories for those little ones in your life that will carry the memories far beyond your allotted years on this earth.  It may be frightening to carry on, but it’s necessary.  There is a reason that you are still here.  Use the days that you have left to contribute & to enjoy.  Perhaps you’ll find that you have later years that are even more fun & meaningful than all those that have gone before!

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