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Post - Adora Midtown

Seniors and the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines have now been available for a while, but not everyone has availed themselves of the opportunity. Many of the people who have yet to get vaccinated do not understand the safety, effectiveness, and benefits of these shots. Explaining it to them can be tough. Here are some key takeaways to show just how important it is.

Why are Vaccines Important?

COVID-19 is the worst pandemic since the “Spanish” flu (Note: It did not, in fact, originate in Spain.) That pandemic did resolve without vaccines, but not before at least 50 million people died of the virus.

Pandemics fade out when there are no longer enough vulnerable people for them to rapidly spread. In most cases, pandemic diseases then become endemic nuisances (Descendants of the Spanish flu virus are still around as seasonal flu).

The two most recent pandemics that significantly affected the United States were the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and the 1968 flu pandemic. The H1N1 pandemic started in the United States and spread quickly, killing anywhere from 151,000 to 575,400 people worldwide, but not spreading as widely as COVID-19.

In 1968, the pandemic was caused by an avian influenza virus. It killed about 1 million people worldwide, mostly seniors. This virus also still circulates and continues to be associated with severe disease in older people. A vaccine was developed, but too late; by the time it was introduced, the pandemic had already peaked.

With COVID-19 we have found a vaccine before the pandemic peaked and it has significantly reduced the number of deaths even with an imperfect and uneven rollout.

What are the Benefits of Being Vaccinated?

According to Dianne K. Sullivan-Slaziyk, MBA, BSN, RN, our CCO/SVP of Clinical Operations, “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine protects you from getting sick and assists in preventing the spread to your family and the vulnerable seniors whom we serve. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, getting the vaccine is a powerful step in taking charge of your health. The vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the coronavirus if you are exposed to it. The more people who receive the coronavirus vaccines, the sooner vulnerable people can feel safe among others.”

The primary benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine is a substantial reduction in the risk of serious illness or death. While the vaccine does not provide 100% protection from catching COVID or getting symptoms, it will keep you out of the hospital or the morgue.

Image: Dianne K. Sullivan-Slaziyk, Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President of Operations, StoneGate Senior Living
“The vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the coronavirus if you are exposed to it.”

— Dianne K. Sullivan-Slaziyk, CCO/SVP of Clinical Operations, StoneGate Senior Living

Even with the more contagious and slightly vaccine-resistant delta variant (which has become dominant), unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected and 25 times more likely to be hospitalized. When vaccinated people are infected, symptoms are much milder, often resembling a bad cold, and they recover faster. While serious breakthrough events are more common in the elderly and immunocompromised, even for seniors, the risk drops substantially.

Vaccinated people are still also less likely to pass the disease on to others, including people who can’t be vaccinated. There’s some early evidence that vaccinated people can transmit delta, but with the lower infection rate and shorter course of the disease, they are much less likely to do so.

Why are Seniors More at Risk from the Virus

Seniors are at higher risk simply because their immune systems are not as good as they used to be. As you age, your immune system becomes slower to respond, especially to a threat it has not seen before. It also loses some of its ability to properly detect viruses.

Another reason is that severe illness with COVID-19 is more likely if you have certain underlying conditions. Specifically, increased risk has been determined if you have:

  • Any kind of cancer, partly because many cancer treatments suppress the immune system.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Any kind of chronic lung disease, including COPD and pulmonary hypertension.
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions.
  • Diabetes.
  • Down syndrome.
  • Heart conditions including congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and possibly hypertension.
  • HIV infection.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Liver disease.
  • Obesity.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Having ever smoked.
  • Having received a transplant.
  • Having had a stroke.
  • Substance use disorders.

Some, although not all, of these conditions are more common in older people. Older people are more likely to have COPD, heart conditions, and kidney and liver problems as well as type II diabetes. Because of social changes, older people are more likely to smoke or to have smoked in the past.

Put together, this explains why hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 were more common in seniors. Deaths have become less common, but that is only because so many seniors have already been vaccinated.

Is the Vaccine Enough Protection?

The vaccines we have against COVID-19 are excellent. However, they are not perfect.

Seniors who have been vaccinated should still wear masks at indoor public spaces if community spread is high in their area as well as if they are going to be in a crowded area where others might not be vaccinated, or if they live with somebody who has a weakened immune system or with unvaccinated children.

Seniors who are living in retirement facilities should absolutely mask up in public until the current delta wave has receded.

Seniors should continue to wash their hands and avoid very close contact with others until community spread is down. However, their risk of severe illness is low.

What if Somebody in the Household Won’t Get Vaccinated?

If you live with a younger person who is refusing to get the vaccine, then you should wear a mask in public to avoid bringing COVID back to them.

You should also talk to the unvaccinated person about all the things in this article. Tell them that the vaccine is safe and effective. In some cases, you might have to put social pressure, such as refusing to go to a restaurant with them.

If you are the younger person living with a senior, you should get vaccinated as soon as you can. Although it won’t completely prevent you from giving them the virus, it will greatly reduce the risk.

How Can I Get the Shots?

For the duration of the pandemic emergency, all COVID-19 vaccines are free. They have already been paid for by the government. In some cases, the provider might bill your insurer for an administration fee, but they cannot bill you for one.

NOTE: Vaccines.gov makes it easy to find COVID-19 vaccination sites. The vaccines are free and available to anyone who wants one.

You can get your [free] COVID-19 vaccine at any pharmacist locations or through your doctor. In addition, there are pop-up vaccination clinics, and you should check with local public health.

StoneGate facilities are also providing vaccines for our employees and residents. Contact us today to find out more about how Adora Midtown Park can provide quality independent and assisted living for you or your loved one.

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Summer-Friendly Vacations for Seniors With Disabilities

For older adults who wish to travel alone or with their loved ones, details are key. Critical elements such as comfort during movement, assistance for persons with disabilities, and wheelchair access make all the difference.

Indeed, traveling as a senior with disabilities raises multiple questions. For example, what should you do before you leave? Are there resorts just for seniors with handicaps?

Can seniors living in an assisted-living community take a vacation? Are staycations a better option for seniors with mobility issues? If so, what are the best staycation ideas? Read on to find out.

Travel Hacks for Seniors With Disabilities

Choose Companies With Disability Assistance

When you book a bus, train, or flight, review the company’s policy on accessible travel and available provisions. Most travel companies offer assistance for people with wheelchairs, and mobility restrictions, hearing and vision disabilities as required by the law.

In most cases, you can make special travel arrangements beforehand by contacting a helpdesk.

The assistance may include a personal assistant to help you board, and with going through safety-based searches, and push a wheelchair around a station. Communicating beforehand (at least 24-48 hours) is critical because the travel company must confirm sufficient space for your wheelchair, especially if you plan to travel in it.

If you are traveling in a foldable wheelchair, check the policy on packing, folding, and storage restrictions. For example, are there any size or weight requirements? Should you place the wheelchair in a special storage slot?

There are also provisions for traveling with service animals. As with special seating space, communication is vital before you book a ticket. Find out the necessary paperwork to bring your service animal on board, including this U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Service Animal Air Transportation form to prove that the animal is in good health and behavior to go on board.

Confirm the State of Facilities

While public buildings and travel stations are legally required to make provisions for people with disabilities or have mobility restrictions, it’s always wise to confirm the state of facilities before travel. Confirm if the airport, train, or bus station has wide lanes, especially for wheelchairs.

Also check for accessible vehicle parking, accessible bathrooms, and on-board assistance when you need to use the bathroom.

In addition, ensure your vacation address is also accessible.

When researching hotels, check if they have disability assistance, especially to move you from the airport, bus and train stations, and elevators. Book rooms in hotels and AirBnBs with accessible communication channels, such as telephones that support typing and texting for seniors hard of hearing. Ask if there are assistants who understand sign language. Also check into whether there are sensors and a vibrate feature on the beds and doorbells to help a senior to identify emergency warnings or visitors.

Fortunately, when you book a hotel or Airbnb online, you can choose accessibility filters to narrow your search. For example, there are filters for roll-in showers, a bathtub with a seat, handheld showerheads, accessible parking space, accessible bathroom, accessible bed height, door handles, and proper lighting to facilitate movement.

Must-Carry Items

Must-carry items that are critical to your trip. For example, doctor reports to help others understand your disability, medication and direct communication lines to your doctor. This would also include similar documents for service animals and personal assistants.

The must-carry-items may will vary depending on the disability. For instance, for seniors that are hard of hearing, hearing aids, batteries, or backup chargers for hearing devices and instant transcription apps are crucial.

Luggage Shipping

Luggage is one of the most challenging parts of any vacation. As a senior with a disability, moving your luggage through a station and carrying in and out of vehicles can be difficult. Paying for luggage shipping directly to your vacation destination is a great way to avoid struggling with your luggage. The courier company can pick the luggage at your doorstep and ship it to your holiday address.

Use Online Resources

Some vacation destinations are more accessible and accommodating for senior adults. Narrow your online searches by using online resources dedicated to senior adults with disabilities. For example, WheelChair Travel and Friendship Circle publish hacks and destination ideas for senior adults and people with disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs.

Some recommendable vacation spots for senior adults include beaches in Honolulu, Miami, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Theme parks, museums, and theatres are also excellent spots to visit, especially for people with mobility restrictions and wheelchairs.

Some of the best cities for senior adults with disabilities include Scottsdale, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Overland Park, St. Louis, and Huntington Beach. If you can organize a vacation in an accessible city, do so.

Staycation Ideas for Seniors With Disabilities

One of the best parts about staycations is that you already know where you’re traveling. So you don’t have to worry about a new language, culture, laws and regulations, insurance, and other challenges when traveling across borders.

One of the best parts about staycations is that you already know where you’re traveling.

Staycations are an excellent choice for seniors with disabilities because they include limited movement, a vacation in familiar territory, and proximity to health care providers.

Communicating with the host beforehand can help you plan for any changes or get a house tour before booking a home. For example, ask if the host provides special assistance with meals and laundry or if you should travel with a personal assistant for the best vacation experience.

Group Tours and Travel Companies For Seniors With Disabilities

Taking a vacation with a group tour or travel company is an efficient way to enjoy a holiday tour. Tour companies such as Collete, Globus, Grand Circle Travel, Trafalgar, and Road Scholar organize trips for senior adults in independent-living and assisted-living facilities. The tour companies provide trained chaperons who cater to individual needs and organize activities for senior adults with disabilities.

Conclusion

We assist senior adults in independent living and assisted-living facilities. We are ready to help you or your senior adult with a disability enjoy a comfortable home independently or with assistance. Reach out for more information on vacations for seniors with disabilities.

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Stroke Recovery Month

Stroke Recovery Month: Good Stroke Recovery Care

A stroke is a devastating emergency. It calls for quick medical intervention and professional care, without which the situation could get out of hand. But how do you deal with the situation in the subsequent days or weeks after you or your loved one has suffered a stroke?

Sometimes the recovery process may be slow since different patients respond to treatment in different ways. Although recovery may vary from one patient to another, understanding the recovery timeline and the best stroke recovery care is important. It helps you understand how stroke recovery works under different circumstances. It also helps you know what to expect if your loved one has suffered a stroke.

Recovery After Stroke

After a stroke experience, the first step to recovery is always the initial treatment. You or your loved one will most likely be admitted into emergency care to assess your condition and determine the type and magnitude of your stroke. For instance, if you suffered an ischemic stroke caused by clotting of blood, then the doctors can administer clot-busting medication to mitigate the long-term effects of the condition.

Depending on how severe your condition is, the doctors might suggest a few days in intensive care. Typically, you could be out of danger after around seven days in intensive or specialized care. This is also dependent on whether you received the correct stroke diagnosis and treatment.

As you embark on your journey to recovery, the following are common effects of stroke you might experience and, which could make the idea of going for rehab more important.

Image: Stroke Recovery With a Therapist
    • Severe joint pains.
    • Numbness or painful sensations.
    • Difficulty with chewing and swallowing food.
    • Inability to control bladder and bowels.
    • Depression
  • Speech Problems: You may experience trouble controlling or eloquently expressing your emotions.
  • Memory Problems: It’s normal to develop problems with thinking, attention, awareness, judgment, and memory lapses after a stroke.
  • Paralysis: Paralysis is the inability to move certain parts of the body, such as the neck or arms. You may also experience weakness on one or both sides of your body.

Once you’ve received the necessary treatment for stroke, rehabilitation is an important phase in stroke recovery. Typically, you should begin rehabilitation as soon as 24 hours after a stroke.

A team of neurologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, and speech or language pathologists together with their nurses should conduct the rehabilitation treatment. Every hour, for the two to three days, they will administer some form of therapy, assess your condition, monitor your progress, and recommend new treatment options that may be deemed necessary.

Why Rehab is Important for You

The goal of rehabilitation as part of stroke treatment and recovery is to help you improve your physical or cognitive bodily functions. It is aimed at helping you relearn whatever skills you have lost or help with your memory problems.

Typically, you should begin rehabilitation as soon as 24 hours after a stroke.

Overall, rehabilitation enables you to regain and improve your quality of life and go back to your normal independent self. Recovering from a stroke may take time. However, recent studies have shown that early, and effective rehabilitation treatments can significantly speed up recovery. Therefore, knowing this, your stroke rehabilitation journey will most likely begin as soon as your condition has stabilized and continues until the day of your discharge.

Importance of Skilled Nursing Care

Since a stroke is a delicate situation, it calls for professional care to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Having skilled nurse care for you or your loved one after a stroke may be beneficial in the following ways.

Knowledge And Experience

When dealing with a stroke patient, it’s vital to know the impact and normal side effects of stroke. A skilled nurse is better placed to properly prepare for any potential side effects that may arise. The nurse will be able to assist the patient professionally and efficiently.

They will also ensure the patient has the right medication and necessary tools to mitigate the side effects from escalating. Skilled nurses are available to care for the patient at any time, so this can assure you that your loved ones are in safe hands and will get better.

How to Tell if Stroke Recovery Care is Good

After some time in rehab, you might want to be certain that your loved one is receiving proper care and is on the right track to recovery. Here is how to tell if the stroke recovery care is effective and good for your loved one:

  • Notable progress after a few weeks of rehabilitation
  • Increased independence with daily living activities. For example, the patient might not request assistance to visit the toilet after some time in rehab
  • Ability to cross legs within the first few weeks of rehab care
  • Improved quality sleep and increased appetite
  • Improved emotions and reduced signs of depression

Benefits of the AlterG! Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ in Rehab

Image: The Alter-G Treadmill

The Anti Gravity treadmill, otherwise known as the AlterG.

Anti Gravity treadmill, otherwise known as the AlterG®, is new equipment designed for everyone recovering from a stroke or surgery. It helps improve the body’s natural mechanics, among other benefits. The benefits of an Alter G machine in rehab for stroke treatment include:

  • A minimum of three hours a day of uninterrupted rehab with psychiatrist services and physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
  • 24-hour access to nurses and doctors. This ensures quick medical response in case of emergencies.
  • An inpatient rehab facility can be within a large health facility. This proximity ensures unlimited access to any medical service.

Why Skilled Nursing is the Best Option for Stroke Recovery

In certain circumstances, skilled nurses can be a better option for you or your loved one who’s recovering from a stroke. Here’s why.

  • Caring for a stroke survivor can be emotionally draining, time-consuming, and mostly need specialized care.
  • A skilled nurse can effectively take the worry and burden off your hands as you focus on other important areas of life.
  • Nurses have professional skills to detect potential future outcomes and risks and prepare for them accordingly.
  • Skilled nurses can effectively monitor and measure their progress to tell if they are on the right recovery path.

Contact us for more information.

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New Technology and Occupational Therapy

New Technology and Occupational Therapy

Technology is revolutionizing how seniors receive and practice occupational therapy.

Many seniors want and need to do daily activities to care for themselves. Unfortunately, due to complications that develop with age, performing once effortless actions become challenging. Occupational therapy at skilled nursing facilities and skilled nursing hospitals helps seniors learn how to do household chores, groom themselves, engage in hobbies, and enjoy social activities. As we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month, we recognize the efforts and dedication occupational therapists show in their service delivery. With this in mind, let’s explore some technologies that help Occupational Therapists and facilities get seniors back on their feet.

Apps

Dexteria is an app that promotes hand dexterity and fine motor skills for users working on hand movement and use. The app provides hand exercises that a senior can practice in the comfort of their homes. Dexteria also an excellent way to build hand activity required for handwriting. Some activities include tapping, stretching, pinching, gripping, and writing. The exercises slowly build up in complexity and encourage the learner to push their hand motion further and exercise precision in their hand movements. Seniors using this app regain their writing abilities and improve their overall ability to hold items, cook, and use devices alone. Using Dexteria is a fun way to extend rehab therapy beyond the skilled nursing facility and improve skills at home. After gaining the basic motor skills, Piano Tiles is an excellent tool to practice coordination and accuracy. Piano Tiles is a game that requires the player to tap the tile going down the screen to “play the piano.” As the game progresses, the tiles’ speed increases, which means that the player needs to use more strength and focus. Visual training apps are also great for seniors. The Eye Movement Training app provides items on a screen for a person to track visually. It’s a great exercise for an elderly person training their vision. Cognition apps such as Rehab Coach are excellent for patients recovering from a stroke. The app offers memory, math, literacy, and drawing activities to help a patient make a slow recovery, even at home.

Video Games

Spatial reasoning helps a person manipulate 2-D and 3-D objects. For seniors, practicing spatial reasoning helps them understand location and dimensions better. Activities such as wearing shoes correctly, buttoning a shirt, navigating the surrounding environment, and assembling household items need a reasonable understanding of the items, dimensions, and locations. Video games help seniors practice spatial reasoning without leaving their homes. Simple driving games, for instance, are a great way to improve spatial reasoning and hand motion.

Visual Aids

Visual aids have come a long way from basic glasses, especially to assist the elderly in the tech world. OrCam MyEye 2.0 is a game-changer for seniors. It’s a small computer that’s attached to glasses. Users enjoy assistive reading capabilities such as magnification to read text better. The device also has a scanner for text and barcodes. The text-speech output is excellent for clients struggling to read. Seniors can use OrCam MyEye 2.0 to improve reading, enjoy entertainment, read menus, ingredients and generally improve the quality of senior living.

Hearing Assistive Technologies

Unfortunately, turning up the volume is simply not enough for seniors with difficulty in hearing. There are several assistive devices in the market for seniors with hearing challenges.
  • Hypersound Clear Speakers: These speakers amplify the volume and send a narrow sound beam that a person in the listening zone can pick up. The speakers also improve the clarity and help your senior listen without the need for headphones. Hypersound clear speakers are great for any home to help seniors watch their favorite shows, listen to playlists and enjoy video calls with the family.
  • CaptionCall Amplified Phone: For seniors with hearing challenges, a standard phone is stressful and sometimes impossible to use. CaptionCall improves phone calls by using voice recognition technology that creates captions on a large screen. The user can then read the words and respond.

Virtual Assistant Technology

Virtual assistants such as the Alexa® and the Google Assistant® have become part of our daily lives. The Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers help seniors connect with virtual assistants that recognize the user’s voice and perform actions. Smart speakers are flexible and connect with different devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and televisions. Your senior can use virtual assistant technologies to play music, games, favorite shows, and control other smart devices without moving around or asking for assistance. You can also schedule rehab therapy for your senior, and when a reminder comes up, the VA voices the reminder to your loved one.

Robotics and Computerization

Seniors with mobility restrictions need rehabilitation to help them regain strength and mobility in their legs. New equipment used in rehab therapy now incorporates computerization to improve therapy.
  • New innovations in rehab has given birth to tools such as TheraSuit. The suit helps a senior learn how to move correctly. When wearing the suit, users develop correct reflexes and reduce the pressure on the muscles and tendons. Therasuit also helps with balance and coordination, over time, helps users build bone density.
  • Another notable innovation in rehab is the AMADEO System. This robotic equipment helps seniors regain hand control and movement. Skilled staff can control the equipment through software to meet an individual’s needs. The AMADEO System stimulates hand motion such as grasping to improve sensory skills, reduce spasticity and improve sensitivity.
  • Lokomat is another innovation in rehab that is improving the quality of Occupational Therapy in skilled nursing facilities. Lokomat encapsulates the legs and mimics leg motion and the pelvis’s movement to help seniors improve their walking. As the robots are in motion, they transfer the weight from one leg to another. Over time, the staff can adjust the weight through a computerized system to build resilience.

Smart Shoes

Medical complications, illnesses, and injuries can make it harder for seniors to walk without assistive equipment. Delivering comfort to the feet by finding the right shoes also makes it easier for your loved one to walk. AposTherapy creates smart shoes that reduce the pressure on the damaged parts of the feet and transfer forces to improve walking.

Occupational Therapy at Garnet Hill Rehabilitation and Skilled Care

Things are changing in occupational therapy, and fortunately for the better. Technology is revolutionizing how seniors receive and practice Occupational Therapy for improved senior living. For more information about occupational therapy for your loved one, contact us today.
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Optimizing Nutrition to Promote Wound Healing in Seniors

We have all experienced a scratch, tear, cut or other type of wound. Some individuals are better equipped than others at healing these wounds.

Why Are Seniors Different In Their Recovery?

Research shows that seniors heal slower than younger adults and children, even for small injuries. There are several reasons why wound healing and recovery are more complicated in older adults.

Seniors have a delayed inflammatory response which causes slow expansion of the blood vessels to allow white blood cells to reach a wound.

Conditions such as diabetes, which are common among seniors, slow down healing. Diabetic neuropathy causes loss of sensation, ultimately delaying the inflammatory response. Elevated blood sugar levels narrow blood vessels, causing poor blood circulation to the wound.

Aging skin is less elastic, forms collagen at a lower rate, and has a thin, flat layer, which exposes it to higher injury. Additionally, the cells in the body age and take longer to multiply to promote healing.

Why Is Nutrition Important To Your Recovery?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “under-nutrition can make it harder for your body to heal and recover from illness.” Over-nutrition can also make it more difficult on the healing and recovery process. Achieving a healthy weight and healthy balance of food and fluid intake is optimal to ensure a sound recovery for your senior.

Creating a Healthy Balance for Healing

Not all foods are created equal. Understanding the role of different nutrients in the recovery process will assist in developing a meal plan that meets your senior’s healing needs.

The following are several nutrients to consider:

  • Fluids: Keep hydration in check by consuming adequate amounts of water and unsweetened beverages.
  • Carbohydrates: Simple and complex carbohydrates provide you with calories that are used as the body’s primary fuel source. Carbohydrate-rich foods provide energy. Calories derived from carbohydrates may help our body better utilize the protein we consume which may further assist with recovery. Complex carbohydrates pack in more nutrients than simple carbohydrates. Choose your carbohydrates wisely!
  • Protein: Protein helps build and repair skin, muscle, and other body tissues. Include a protein source with each meal and snack. High-quality protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans as well as low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Vitamin C: While all nutrients are important during the healing and recovery process, some wounds may require a higher intake of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C is considered a superstar when it comes to skin health and wound healing. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, kiwi, and bell peppers.
  • Zinc: This essential mineral supports a number of functions in the human body and may play a role in the wound healing process. Best zinc sources include meat, fish, poultry, and dairy foods. It can also be found in whole-grain breads and cereals.

How Can We Help

We promote health and wellness for seniors by supporting their nutrition and providing safe spaces for recovery. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can assist in developing an individualized meal plan to assist with your recovery. Contact us today and find out how we can help your senior recover from an illness or injury.

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How Technology Can Deliver Care And Comfort For Seniors

Technology has changed tremendously over our lifetimes and is here to stay. Devices such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, and virtual assistant technologies are now part of many households. They help us gather and share information, stay connected with our loved ones, and enjoy entertainment no matter where we are. Fortunately, we can also leverage technology to ensure that the seniors in our lives remain safe, healthy, and happy, even in their final moments.

Here are ingenious ways to use technology to deliver care and comfort to your loved ones even when you’re away.

VR Headsets and Training Caregivers

VR headsets are popular in the gaming world but have other applications such as simulating experiences for the wearer. These virtual realities are great for training wearers since they enjoy a fully immersive experience.

Embodied Labs is taking advantage of this immersive experience to deliver better care and comfort to seniors by improving training experiences. By using virtual reality (VR) headsets from Embodied Labs, caregivers can better grasp the realities of a patient suffering from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and macular degeneration. Through this technology, caregivers can understand their patients better and also communicate with family members better.

Adora Midtown Park aspires to provide care and comfort to seniors while leveraging the advantages of modern technology.

Telehealth Devices and Chronic Illnesses

A majority of older adults suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, hepatitis, asthma, and coronary heart diseases. These illnesses require continuous monitoring, which may be impossible due to geographical, financial, and practical reasons.

However, through telehealth devices, physicians can deliver healthcare at home. These are devices that help patients monitor vitals at home and transmit data to physicians. Through continuous monitoring, physicians can prevent illnesses or control illnesses to avoid deterioration.

Remote monitoring watches can track a senior’s blood pressure, heartbeat, temperature, oxygen levels, activity levels, sleep patterns, glucose, and hydration. Wireless scales are excellent for tracking patient weight and sending the results to doctors. High-resolution cameras enable virtual consultations between patients, primary physicians, and other health practitioners such as radiologists and therapists. All these devices use HIPAA-compliant software to ensure patient data safety.

Image: Senior Man using a Tablet at Home

Alexa Device and Entertainment and Comfort

Amazon’s Alexa is a virtual assistant technology developed to work with voice-activated commands. Users can control other devices and set reminders by talking to the virtual assistant. No buttons or screen time required.

Alexa is excellent for seniors for several uses. First, seniors or caregivers can set medication reminders to ensure medication adherence. Seniors can also receive updates about the news, weather, politics, and calls from loved ones. A senior to stay connected even when they have dementia.

Image: Echo Dot Smart Speaker

Adora Implements Voice Activated Technology to Help Seniors Stay Connected

What’s more, Alexa also helps seniors stay entertained at home even when you’re away. It’s a great way to ensure that your loved one is happy as they listen to jokes, audiobooks, and music. Since it’s a virtual assistant, you can also set commands to control most televisions.

Furthermore, you can control more than the television to keep your loved one comfortable. With Alexa, you can control the smart thermostats, lights, locks, kitchen appliances, cameras, and sensors. Seniors can also order food, groceries, and medication from local stores and pharmacies.

Technology for Exercise

Maintaining an active lifestyle in old age is vital for health. However, seniors struggle with fitness because of conditions such as dementia. If your loved one has challenges tracking their weight and exercising, devices such as wearable watches and fitness apps are an excellent solution.

Most active smartwatches send alerts when it’s time to exercise. Online apps such as YouTube offer access to numerous exercise routines that seniors can follow from anywhere. What’s more, most gym instructors are now available online. Seniors can enjoy one-on-one gym sessions or join exercise communities online to stay fit and feel connected to others.

The best part about active wearable devices is that they track activity levels and crucial vitals. As you exercise, you can see the number of steps you took or miles you ran and cycled in a day. You can also view your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels. Some watches even have emergency buttons that you can use to call for help should anything go wrong during your workout.

Social Connection and Information

Staying socially engaged is crucial to maintain overall wellness. Fortunately, social apps help thousands of us stay connected, even if we’re continents apart. Cross-messaging platforms such as WhatsApp are an excellent way for family members and friends to connect with seniors. You can send messages and organize group voice and video calls.

Social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram also help seniors connect with people beyond families. They can receive and share information, voice their opinions, connect with old friends, and feel that they’re part of the online community. Platforms such as YouTube are great for learning and viewing new activities. Your parents or grandparents can take advantage of YouTube tutorials to take up new hobbies after retirement. Cooking, sewing, knitting, sports, and DIY projects are available on YouTube for curious minds.

Let’s not forget how search engines such as Google and Bing connect us to direct information at the tap of a button or a voice command. Seniors also benefit from search engines because they can use them to find answers to questions.

Technology and Senior Safety

While many seniors spend their time at home, it doesn’t mean that they’re completely safe. House accidents happen when people fall, cut themselves, or stumble in the darkness. However, you can keep your senior safe through in-house monitoring devices. You can use cameras to track movement throughout the day. However, if the senior is uncomfortable with cameras, you can install sensors to track movement.

Sensors are small and monitor activity in the bed, fridge, doors, bathroom, and medicine cabinet. If you notice unusual sleep, feeding, and medication activity, you can respond. Other safety devices include wearable tracking belts and inflatable hip protectors to prevent hip injury after a fall.

Conclusion

Technology is here to stay and using it to make seniors’ lives easier is essential. Adora Midtown Park aspires to provide care and comfort to seniors while leveraging the advantages of modern technology. Reach out today for more information about our services.

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What Seniors Should Know About the New COVID-19 Vaccine

Two new vaccines have been approved for COVID-19 and more are in the pipeline. Texas has elected to prioritize people over the age of 65 for vaccination. So, what should seniors and their families know about these new vaccines? Here are some key factors.

The vaccine cannot rewrite your DNA, give you COVID-19, or make you infertile.

The Vaccines Are Safe

There’s a lot of concern out there that these vaccines have been rushed to production and are thus unsafe. It’s true that the time from start of development to approval is faster, by far, than the previous record of four years. However, this was not achieved by cutting corners or shortening the length of trials to an unsafe degree. Rather, it relates to the following factors:

  1. Chinese scientists were able to provide a genetic sequence of the virus very quickly. The draft genome of SARS-CoV-2 was made available to the world in January of 2020. This allowed vaccination development to begin even before the pandemic had reached global proportions.
  2. Extra funding has been provided to speed development. Additionally, vaccine trials have been prioritized over other clinical trials.
  3. mRNA vaccines are faster to develop than other types. While this is the first mRNA vaccine used in humans, the technology has been in development for years for cancer treatment.

These vaccines cannot rewrite your DNA, give you COVID-19, or make you infertile. A few people, mostly with a history of severe allergies, have experienced severe reactions to the shots, which is why you need to remain in the clinic for 15 minutes after receiving your shot. For residents of assisted living homes, the staff are trained in how to detect and treat severe allergic reactions.

The Vaccines Take Time to Work

Two stories of health care workers catching COVID-19 a week after getting the shot might make you worry that they don’t work. Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines don’t provide full protection right away. Additionally, the vaccines approved right now have a two-shot regimen, meaning that while the first dose provides some protection, the second dose is needed to complete the series.

The vaccine is a two-shot regimen…the first dose provides some protection; however, the second dose is needed to complete the series.

Recipients don’t get full protection until six to eight weeks after the first shot and should plan accordingly. Again, you can’t catch COVID-19 from these vaccines. You can, however, still catch it shortly after being vaccinated.

Yes, There are Side Effects, But They Aren’t Severe

Side effects from vaccines are called reactogenicity and they’re the result of your immune system responding to the shot. Most side effects are mild, including pain, swelling and redness at the injection site. However, some people have experienced headaches, fevers, chills, and fatigue. These side effects generally last no more than a day and are worse with the second shot. Again, you can’t get COVID-19 from the shot. The reactions, however, might be frightening to people who are suffering cognitive decline and you should be sure to reassure them. For slightly younger patients, it might be best not to schedule anything important for the 24 hours or so after getting the shot.

Why Are These Vaccines So Important?

It’s important for everyone to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them. For seniors, the vaccine can stave off severe illness or death; even if you do catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated, you will not be as sick or sick for as long. We don’t yet know for sure whether vaccines completely stop infection and transmission, but studies are ongoing. Even if they don’t, they will significantly reduce the amount and length of time somebody is contagious for.

Getting a high take up in the number of vaccinations is vital to stopping the pandemic.

People who have already had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine as natural immunity fades quickly in some individuals (although others are showing a good immune response after many months). However, you should hold off on being vaccinated if you currently have COVID-19 or are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Getting a high take up in the number of vaccinations is vital to stopping the pandemic and letting us return to normal…and start spending safe time with our families again. So, again, everyone should get the vaccine as soon as it is made available to them. These vaccines are safe and effective and will help us return to public life.

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Depression and COVID: 4 Tips for Managing Emotions

Depression doesn’t end with December, and it’s important to be aware of the potential complications that 2020 brought with it. Whether your loved one has been previously diagnosed with Seasonal Depression, or is showing signs for the first time, handling the blues has become more complicated than ever before. Here is everything you need to know about seasonal depression as well as the effects of Covid-19 on mental health, and four helpful tips on managing emotions during this time.

Seasonal Depression

First, what is holiday depression, seasonal depression, or the winter blues? Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that usually occurs in the fall and winter, and can easily last until March.

“Some theories suggest that previously happy holiday memories become troubling as loved ones pass away, making the holidays a time of mourning rather than celebration.”

While the real cause of this disorder is unknown, as weather gets colder and the days get darker, a normal sunny disposition can become pessimistic, lethargic, and despondent. While there is a “summer pattern” form of SAD, it is more common in the colder months. The disorder often dissipates as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer in summer and spring.

Image: Sad woman looking through window

Women are more likely to have SAD than men, but at-risk groups include:

  • Those who live further north, in colder, darker climates
  • Those who already suffer from depression or mood disorders
  • Those with anxiety, panic disorders, or attention/hyperactivity disorders

Some theories suggest that previously happy holiday memories become troubling as loved ones pass away, making the holidays a time of mourning rather than celebration. There also seems to be correlation between the disorder and serotonin levels, which can be affected as a person ages, diet changes, and medications are added to a person’s daily life. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling down or depressed throughout the day, and regularly every week
  • Losing interest in hobbies, or holiday traditions that usually bring joy
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Irregular sleep schedules
  • Oversleeping
  • Fatigued
  • Irritable
  • A sense of hopelessness/worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide/death
  • Self-isolating, or avoiding social interactions (even in covid-19 safe circumstances)

“The prevalence of depression symptoms in the US was higher in every category during COVID-19 than before COVID-19.”

Covid-19 Influence on Seasonal Depression

According to this study done on depression during Covid, “prevalence of depression symptoms in the US was higher in every category during COVID-19 than before COVID-19.”

Image: Dark cloud of sadness

While it will take more time to have definitive results on the true mental health consequences of the pandemic, early studies are already showing that global depression has only gotten worse during 2020. SAD is not as often associated with suicide, as it usually has a clear trigger, beginning, and end, and is therefore easier to diagnose and treat. However, combined with the increased emotional stress, there are heightened conditions for suicidal ideation. Here are a few ways Covid has increased symptoms and severity of depression worldwide:

  • Isolation and self-quarantining
  • Changes in schedule
  • Lack of activity/stimulation
  • (For the elderly) Push towards unfamiliar/difficult technology to stay informed/connected
  • Sickness/death of loved ones

Managing Emotions

While there is no cure for any type of depression, there are proven methods to help anyone struggle with changes in mood and emotional distress, here are 4 ways to help you or a loved one:

1. Vitamin D

In general, studies have shown that lack of light, and therefore vitamin deficiency, is connected to SAD. Most professionals recommend both taking vitamin D supplements and getting quality time in the light. This can be accomplished safely on a porch, roof, or safe outdoor activity, or by using light therapy, which uses a light box. Fulfilling this need has proven to affect mood in a positive direction.

2. Regulate, Don’t Repress

The worst thing you can do is repress how you feel, even if you can’t rationalize or explain it to others. Validating your feelings is the path to healing. By intentionally and regularly processing emotions, whether ‘rational’ or not, you decrease the chance of being overwhelmed or exploding from internalized pressure. Choose one or two people who are trustworthy, and good listeners, and talk with them regularly throughout the week. Shame-free conversation is vital to normalize otherwise debilitating emotions.

3. Pause

While it might be tempting to react immediately based on the intensity of the emotions you are feeling, it is important to pause before responding. The difference between reacting and responding can mean everything in a relationship, and determine whether your mood will be escalated or deescalated. When feeling a sudden, strong emotion, do your best to remove yourself from the situation. Don’t be afraid to tell those around you that you are not in a place to talk, and that you need space to process. Next, do something that will allow your body to process and regulate the emotions that are raging inside you, like the ‘fight or flight’ response. Whether you play an instrument, do a puzzle, or watch a few YouTube videos. Once you feel your emotions are back to normal, ask yourself, “What about that situation sparked such a strong response?” Next, decide if this realization is worth communicating to others, or if it’s more valuable for you to keep it to yourself and learn for the future. Whenever you’re ready, you can end the “pause” and return to life.

4. Medication

There is no shame in receiving additional help through antidepressants or other medications. Hormones are complex, and difficult to directly change without using medication, but they are also the most clear influence on depression. If you or a loved one is having difficulty managing moods/emotions, talk with your care team about getting medicinal help.

Adora Midtown Park Assisted Living

At Adora Midtown, we are always looking for new ways to support our community. Whether you’re a family trying to make difficult decisions, looking for skilled nursing resources, or the right assisted living facility for the senior in your care, we’re ready to help connect you with the resources you need. Contact us to find out more about who we are, what we do, and the services we offer, including meal programs, senior centers, therapy programs, companion care, and more.

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A COVID Christmas — tips for a merry holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but it’s also one of the most stressful! Do you get stressed-out around the holidays? Here are seven easy steps to stay stress-free this holiday season.

Acknowledge all your emotions.

The holidays can bring up difficult emotions for us at the best of times. As we celebrate this year during a pandemic, it makes sense that some of those feelings might be amplified. Give yourself permission to feel sadness and stress, as well as grief for the holiday experience you’d prefer to be having and remind your senior loved ones that they should do so, too. Have an honest conversation about the parts of the holiday season you feel like you’re missing. We can all practice gratitude and feel optimistic about giving each other long-overdue hugs in the new year while still making space for our disappointments.

Go all-out with your holiday cards.

If you traditionally send holiday cards, you might want to embellish them a bit more this year. Rather than standard season’s greetings, consider including a few details about what your family’s been up to this year, some extra warm wishes, and even some pictures!

If you have children, handmade cards from them will likely bring a smile to your senior loved ones’ faces.

If you don’t normally send cards, doing so this year is one way to connect with loved ones you’re not able to see over the holidays. Your cards don’t need to be expensive or elaborate – homemade cards are great, too! What matters most is the message inside. If postage fees or postal delays are a concern, e-cards are also an option.

Include those who are absent in your celebrations.

Just because your loved ones aren’t physically present, that doesn’t mean you can’t include them in your holiday activities. Make your great-aunt’s famous sugar cookies and be sure to take pictures of the finished product. Give your children gifts from their grandparents and film the presents being opened, or do it live over Zoom or FaceTime. Create a musical production of one of your parent’s favorite seasonal songs with the other members of your household. Snap a photo of the family heirloom ornaments on your tree and share it with loved ones. By doing activities like these, you’re communicating to your parent, grandparent, or other senior loved one(s) that they’ve influenced the way you celebrate the winter holidays, and that your celebrations aren’t complete without them.

Just because your loved ones aren’t physically present, that doesn’t mean you can’t include them in your holiday activities.

Take advantage of technology.

Since many holiday traditions are going virtual this year, why not include your whole extended family? Invite everyone to a Zoom call so you can all celebrate together. Be mindful that a well-attended Zoom call might be a bit overwhelming for your senior loved one(s), so try not to talk over one another. You might even wish to decide on a group activity beforehand, like singing a holiday song together, offering a prayer as a family, or letting the grandkids show off what Santa brought them one by one.

Send gifts early.

While presents aren’t the most important part of the holidays, having a little something to open can make the holiday feel particularly festive. If you have senior loved ones who you can’t see over the holidays, send gifts their way as soon as possible, so that they’ll reach your loved ones on time despite shipping delays caused by the pandemic. Looking for a simple and thoughtful gift idea? Try something cozy, like a throw blanket or a pair of slippers with good treads on their soles.

Or pick something personalized, like a book you think your loved one will like (large print may be preferable for your senior loved ones), or a mug with a design your loved one will enjoy for all their warm beverages during the colder months. Or maybe you’d like to give your loved one something that will help keep them entertained as we continue to practice social distancing, like a tablet, some new music to listen to, an adult coloring book, or a puzzle with less than 100 pieces.

Perhaps give your loved one something that will help keep them entertained as we continue to practice social distancing, like a tablet, some new music to listen to, an adult coloring book, or a puzzle with less than 100 pieces.

Worship together even when you’re apart.

If your family is religious, look for an online service that you can all attend, just as you might if you were spending the season together. Remember to discuss how to access the service with your senior loved one(s) ahead of time, in order to try and avoid technological difficulties on the day. Alternatively, use technology to gather your whole family for a private moment of worship. If your senior loved one is up to it, you can even ask them to guide the family in prayer.

Stay connected after the holidays.

At one time or another, most of us have probably experienced a bit of melancholy at the end of the holiday season. We wait for weeks to celebrate with our friends and family, and it’s a bit sad when the festivities come to an end. This year make a concerted effort to keep your senior loved one(s) from experiencing this feeling by maintaining consistent contact with them after the holidays are over. If you gather for a big family Zoom call on Christmas Day, for example, give your loved one a call on the twenty-sixth, too, even if it’s just for a brief chat. Plan to get in touch again soon after – you might even want to set up a phone call/video call schedule. It’s wonderful to put effort into connecting with loved ones over the holidays, but with all of us experiencing more loneliness thanks to the physical distancing necessitated by the coronavirus, this year it’s more important than ever to continue to foster those connections after the holidays, too.

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Pandemic Caregiver Fatigue

What is Pandemic Fatigue for Senior Caregivers?

Caring for our loved ones as they age is never easy. There are tons of factors that can make it taxing physically, mentally, financially, and more for both the caregiver and the one receiving care. This has always been the case, but with the emergence of COVID-19, things have only gotten more difficult. Many of us, especially caregivers for older adults, are feeling a real sense of burnout due to Coronavirus, also referred to as pandemic fatigue. Today we will be covering pandemic fatigue in more detail, recommending coping strategies, and discussing care options.

One group of people that are hit especially hard by Coronavirus spikes are caregivers of older adults, as they risk their lives, and the lives of their aging loved ones, every time they have to leave the home while COVID-19 rages on.

What is Pandemic Fatigue?

When we began seeing increased COVID-19 rates in the United States back in March, many people stayed home as much as possible to slow the spread and protect those they live with, especially those in vulnerable populations like older adults. Seven months later, it often feels less urgent to stay home, despite higher rates of COVID-19 than ever in the U.S. People are coping with the loss of their loved ones, jobs, or housing, and many live in a constant state of anxiety about getting sick.

One group of people that are hit especially hard by Coronavirus spikes are caregivers of older adults, as they risk their lives, and the lives of their aging loved ones, every time they have to leave the home while COVID-19 rages on. Many of these caregivers still have to go to work to support their own kids, and relief has been hard to come by in recent months.

The combination of all of these fears, frustrations, and losses contribute to what we now refer to as pandemic fatigue. Pandemic fatigue can also be thought of as burnout from being pulled in all different directions while also feeling isolated from the outside world. Pandemic fatigue can put our mental and physical health at risk, affecting the quality of our work, caregiving, and lifestyle.

How Can I Cope with Pandemic Fatigue?

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overcome pandemic fatigue, empowering you to stay as relaxed, calm, and collected as possible.

Stay Connected

One major reason why pandemic fatigue has grabbed a hold of so many of us is the lingering feeling of isolation and loneliness. We may not be able to host or attend gatherings like many of us used to, but that doesn’t mean we cannot stay connected with friends and family members.

Staying connected not only helps us preserve our mental health, talking to friends and family can help us express built up feelings and work through our struggles. Even if you don’t explicitly talk about your problems, feeling connected and supported is just as important too.

Try the following to get in touch with friends and family during the pandemic:

  • Going for a socially distanced hike or nature walk with a loved one
  • Setting up recurring virtual hangouts or dates
  • Writing letters or sending cards to people to tell them you’re thinking of them
  • Hosting a socially distant outdoor get together, like a bonfire or takeout meal

If you don’t feel that you have anyone you can talk to, give Crisis Text Line a try. Text HOME to 741741 to get in touch with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Their counselors will listen to your struggles, walk you through coping strategies, and provide relevant resources if applicable. It’s free, and their goal is to help people go from “a hot moment to a cool calm.”

If the time has come to look into outside help with caregiving itself, there are options.

Take Care of Yourself

When we put so much time and effort into taking care of others or simply trying to make ends meet, it can feel impossible to take care of ourselves and our needs, too. Setting aside just a few minutes of the day to dedicate to yourself can make a huge difference in your mental state. If you’re feeling burned out, it will only make it harder to provide quality care to your loved one or maintain a household.

Try incorporating more of the following to take care of yourself:

  • Ensuring you get eight hours of sleep whenever possible
  • Exercising regularly or taking small, frequent physical activity breaks throughout the day
  • Consuming a balanced diet with enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Sitting in intentional silence for a few minutes or utilizing a meditation app
  • Listening to your favorite music while doing chores or when you feel overwhelmed
  • Limiting your social media intake by deleting addictive apps, setting a social media timer, or logging out after each visit

Most caregivers go through their entire days without rest or doing things they enjoy, and this can lead to burnout faster than anything else. Self-care can look a bit different for everyone but doing enough of it pays off when it comes to your physical and mental health, as well as your caregiving ability.

Get Help

Many are feeling stuck and overwhelmed to the point where they feel like they are drowning in their responsibilities as a caregiver, especially with pandemic fatigue thrown in the mix. If you feel this way, see if you can find a local or virtual support group or if you have access to counseling through your workplace or insurance.

Check out directories like Aunt Bertha that can help you find low-cost mental healthcare, support groups, or other local resources in your area. You don’t have to handle the stressors of caregiving and pandemic fatigue on your own, and you deserve to be supported during these tough times.

If the time has come to look into outside help with caregiving itself, here are a few options:

  • Respite care – short-term relief for caregivers in the form of in-home visits or trips to day care centers or healthcare facilities
  • Assisted living – live-in facilities that provide help with some activities of daily living and nursing care
  • Long-term care – live-in facilities that provide more advanced services and care for those who need more help than assisted living can give.

How We Can Help

Adora Midtown/StoneGate Senior Living offers a wide range of care options that can help alleviate some of the stress, anxiety, and fatigue that come with caregiving on one’s own. We understand that taking care of aging loved ones can progress from slightly challenging to completely overwhelming in a matter of days, but we are here to support your family every step of the way. StoneGate Senior Living has independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care options, and we will work with you to determine what is right for you and your loved ones.

If you would like to learn more about who we are and how we can help, please contact us today.

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Contact Us

8130 Meadow Rd Dallas, TX 75231
Telephone: 214-765-3300

Administrator: John H. Berg
Email administrator@adoramidtown.com
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