We Are Family: Making Each Resident's Family Feel Like Part of Our Community's Family

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There are many things that we as people hold dear, but nothing more so than family, right? Family can be made by blood or by bond, but the people we make part of our innermost circle are counted as some of life’s most precious and enduring gifts. When a community welcomes a new resident to their family, it is very important that the relatives, friends, and loved ones that are important to them are treated and made to feel like part of that family, too.

At Schonberg Care communities, we believe that building a strong relationship with the individuals that are important to our residents is nearly as important as the bond we create with our residents themselves. In order for our residents to truly feel at home in their new home, their loved ones have to feel right at home there, as well!

COMMUNICATION is key when it comes to extending this sense of family to both our residents and their loved ones. Here are a few ways in which we open our hearts and homes to those special people that mean the most to our residents:

Monthly newsletters: The most key way to ensure that both our residents and their loved ones feel involved and included in our community life is helping them stay informed and connected through our monthly newsletter. Each newsletter identifies key information residents and their loved ones should be aware of heading into the next month, including the monthly calendar and details on upcoming celebrations/events that loved ones are encouraged to attend and participate in. We also include links to our social media pages in every newsletter so that family and friends can keep up with daily photos and updates and interact with the community.

Regular events: Outside of ensuring that our residents have an exceptional experience that allows them to stay constantly entertained and engaged, a robust Activities calendar planned and implemented by a full-time Activities Director is vital because it provides plenty of opportunities for our resident’s family and friends to take part in the fun and create new memories together that will last a lifetime. Beyond holding regular activities like Crawfish Boils, Jazz Brunches, & other fun events that family members are welcomed to attend, we also allow loved ones to take part in monthly birthday parties, outings, and other daily activities of their choosing.

Holiday Letter-Writing Campaigns: Sometimes, family members live too far away to have the opportunity to take part in daily life at the community. For those individuals, we like to give them every opportunity to connect and show their love and affection for their favorite residents, even when they can’t be there in person. To assist in this, our communities created a special Letter-Writing campaign in which we post links on our newsletter, community websites, and social media pages for family members and friends to write a note to their loved ones on holidays like Valentine’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Mother’s/Father’s Day that we will print out and hand-deliver to the resident it is meant for. “Family members really enjoy and appreciate this simple and easy way to put a huge smile on their loved ones face,” says Jay Tipton, Executive Director of Schonberg Care community The Suites at Sugar Mill in Houma, LA. “It makes the day of both our residents and their loved ones, and we’re so happy to play a role in creating that joy!”

Annual Resident Satisfaction Surveys: The best way to ensure that we are constantly innovating and improving in order to exceed the needs and expectations of both the residents we serve and their loved ones is by communicating with them directly about their community experience. Each year, we send out an annual resident satisfaction survey to both residents and their loved ones that gives them the opportunity to rate their experience and provide constructive criticism, compliments, or any other feedback they wish to share. We use those surveys as an important part of the basis and framework of our action plans and overall goals for the upcoming year.

Bottom line? When you’re at a Schonberg Community, we want you to feel like part of the family, whether you live here at the community or are visiting as an honored guest of a resident we serve. Nothing is more important to our residents than their loved ones, which means that nothing is more important to us, either. If you have any other suggestions for how we can make you feel even more connected to the community you and your loved one are part of, we would love to hear from you!

Show Your Heart Some Love During the Month of Love

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From Valentine’s Day to American Heart Month, February is a month that is all about showing your ticker the tender loving care it deserves. February was declared American Heart Month in 1963 after the American Heart Association led a major initiative calling for awareness that could lead to prevention of cardiovascular disease, the “silent killer” that is reported as the leading cause of death in the United States.

It is important for seniors to be especially conscious regarding their heart health, as the likelihood of heart problems increase with age. Heart disease can happen even in very healthy individuals, but factors like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes all play a role in developing an increased risk of suffering from heart disease.

Even if you don’t possess health issues that might make you more susceptible to heart disease, seniors should always make a concerted effort to make heart healthy decisions and take proactive preventative measures to protect the organ that keeps them alive.

Taking excellent care of your ticker is easier than you think- just make it your goal to follow these simple steps:

-Exercise regularly: A brisk 30-minute walk or low-impact exercise class at least five times a week is recommended. Group exercise is also suggested as a way to create motivation to exercise and to help hold oneself accountable. “Our Walking Club has been an amazing way for our residents to stay active, and have fun socializing and strengthening friendships while doing it,” says Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director of Schonberg Care community Vista Shores in New Orleans, LA.

-Eat mindfully: A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables and minimizes cholesterol, saturated fats, sweets, and meat. We all need to indulge every now and again, but working to keep 85% of what you eat as heart-healthy as possible is a do-able goal.

-RELAX: It’s easier said than done, but chronic stress has been proven to have a very negative effect on heart function. Yoga, meditation, and dedicated quiet time have all been hailed to work wonders on stress levels- it may help to explore these options further if you have trouble controlling your stress levels.

-Just say NO to smoking: The dangers of smoking have become widely publicized, and heart health is yet another thing that smoking negatively effects. However, seniors who have smoked since a very young age often still find it very hard to quit. For those who have tried measures like Nicorette gum or patches with little success, electronic cigarettes are a newer, safer alternative to smoking that can help kick the habit.

We hope you will join us in renewing your efforts to show your heart the love it deserves, this month and every month!

National Activity Professionals Week: Celebrating the Individuals Who Promote People, Purpose, & Passion Within Our Communities

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This week (January 21st-27th) is 2018 National Activity Professionals Week, which gives us the opportunity to celebrate the amazing, irreplaceable individuals that add an immeasurable amount of fun, excitement, vitality, and LIFE to our Schonberg communities- our beloved Activities Directors!

This year’s theme is “People, Purpose, & Passion,” which could not be more appropriate for the individuals that this week honors. We treasure the Activities Directors at each of our communities because of their commitment to enriching the daily lives of the PEOPLE they serve, their devotion to carefully planning activities and outings that add PURPOSE and value to each and every resident’s day, and their PASSION for giving the gift of new experiences that engage and excite our residents and cultivate both lifelong and new passions, hobbies, and interests at every age and stage.

Providing exceptional care is a vital part of what makes a community a cut above the rest- but providing an exceptional EXPERIENCE for our residents is what we feel makes Schonberg communities the difference between a place to live and a place you can truly call home – a distinction we would never be able to claim without the Activities Directors who enrich, enliven, and engage our residents and make every day at our communities one worth celebrating. “Our residents just light up anytime they’re interacting with our Activities Director Kathy,” says Nancy McAllister, Executive Director at Schonberg community Bay Cove Assisted Living in Biloxi, MS. “She truly has that something special that spreads joym happiness, and laughter everywhere she goes, and she is such an invaluable asset to our team.”

Each resident we serve is a unique individual with their own set of hobbies and preferences, likes and dislikes. Entertaining and engaging the interests of such a diverse group of people every day can be a challenging and complex process, but our Activities Directors make it look easy. On any given week, our Activities Directors organize everything from a trip to the casino for our cardsharks, to a Bunco group competition with another community, to a painting class led by an art professional for our artsy residents, to getting a Gardening Club started for the new resident with a green thumb, topped of with planning a Happy Hour complete with hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. Whew- we’re exhausted just talking about it!

We often call our Activities Directors superheroes, and their superpower is boosting joy, happiness, and wellbeing through their special brand of compassion, creativity, and dedication to enhancing the lives of those they serve. They give our residents the gift of a life well lived every day- we hope you will let them know how much that gift means to you and your loved ones when you see them this week!

Turning Health Into Financial Wealth: Budgeting Strategies for Seniors

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January is Financial Wellness Month, and the start of the new year is the perfect time to adopt an improved financial strategy that benefits our future. As we get older, it becomes more important than ever to save and spend wisely in order to be financially prepared for things like retirement and unforeseen health- related expenses. Here, we’ve compiled some tips that will help you ensure that you are building your financial health and wealth in 2018 and beyond.

-Seek advice from a professional financial expert.

Employing the help of a Financial Advisor you trust is a very smart decision for seniors, as they can provide invaluable advice on a number of complex financial concerns unique to them, like how quickly to take money from savings and how to invest in your later years. They can also help you put together a budget that works for your unique situation, expenses, and income level.

-Develop a long-term spending plan.

As mentioned above, creating a well-laid plan for your money and limiting expenses during retirement is very important to achieve financial security that lasts. Consider new ways to cut costs, such as letting your auto insurer know you no longer drive your car to work. It is also important to continue putting some of your income into savings, especially for short-term goals like holiday gifts or vacations, because that can help you avoid a large, sudden withdrawal from your retirement investments.

-Think about ways to turn a hobby or another interest into a part-time job.

Even when you’re retired, finding a small means of supplementing your income doing something your passionate about is great for your pocketbook and for your mental and social health. There are many ways to bring in a bit of extra cash during retirement, including seasonal jobs, freelance consulting. However, it is also important to consider if this extra money might affect other aspects of your finances based on your income, such as Medicare costs, Social Security benefits, and taxes.

Look into discounts and other deals.

If you are a savvy senior, you will come to find that there are a lot of opportunities available to receive discounted rates on a variety of goods and services. For consumers over a certain age, some financial institutions may offer breaks on the cost of bank products and services. It is always beneficial to keep an eagle eye out for “Senior Specials” at restaurants and other businesses you frequent and to ask about potential deals for seniors on services you commonly use. After all, that free coffee you’re eligible for at McDonalds definitely adds up to some significant savings over time!

-Review your credit reports even if you don’t plan to apply for a new loan. 

Mistakes or other errors on your credit reports could make it more costly for you to buy insurance or borrow money, which is why it is always important to continue monitoring it on a regular basis. It is also a great way for seniors to protect themselves against potential cases of identity theft. We recommend ordering your free credit report at least once every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Organize and protect your important documents.

It is important that you are always able to quickly and easily locate important financial documents any time you need to access them. Examples of items that should be kept in a safe, secure place include your bank and brokerage statements, insurance policies, and Social Security and company pension records. A safe deposit box is the best place for storing important documents and valuables. It is also recommended that you seal them in airtight and waterproof plastic bags or containers to prevent water damage.

-Prepare for the possibility that you may need help managing your finances sometime in the future.

We never know what the future holds, and it is vital that our financial interests remain in hands we trust to always take care of our best interests. Consider writing down a list of your financial institutions and account numbers and keeping it in a safe place that trusted loved ones know about and can access in an emergency. An attorney can help you decide if you should have a legal document known as a power of attorney (POA), which would allow one or more people you designate to make key financial decisions for you in the event you are no longer able to do so.

We hope that these tips inspire you to start this new year on the right foot towards making 2018 your most financially healthy and wealthy year yet! Building the right foundation will allow you to walk a path of financial security for all the years to come.

SOURCE: FDIC

 

The Keys To Making Your 2018 Resolutions A Reality

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Everyone jokes that making a goal your “resolution” for the new year is the quickest way to ensure that it fails. It’s easy to approach every year with a “New Year, New Me” mentality, but it’s a lot harder to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to accomplishing lofty aspirations like losing 30 pounds, traveling to a foreign country, and being the happiest, nicest, and cleanest person you know. The older we get, the more pressure we feel to FINALLY accomplish those goals we set every year!

While calling a goal a “resolution” automatically adds an element of pressure, you CAN make this year’s resolutions a reality! Here’s how:

Break your goals down into bite-sized accomplishments

Big goals become a lot easier to swallow when you break them down into smaller, more attainable ones. For instance, if your goal is the ever popular “become more organized in 2018,” focus on completing little tasks that work towards that bigger picture. One week, you clean out the junk drawer- the next week, you go through your closet and create a pile to donate to Goodwill. Before you know it, your life will look more organized than ever before!

It’s all about the details.

A big reason why people have such a hard time accomplishing their goals is because they are so VAGUE! When you make your goal something like “exercise more,” it is a lot easier to blow off because it doesn’t involve a plan to reach it. However, by making your goal something more specific, such as “attend exercise class twice a week,” you are giving yourself a clear directive that is harder to wriggle out of.

Hold yourself accountable.

In addition to being detail-oriented, a successful goal should be based on some type of reliable reward system to help you stay motivated and focused on achieving it for the long haul. Think about a favorite treat of yours- something like taking yourself to a movie, indulging in a delicious dessert or a nice bottle of wine, or partaking in your favorite trashy TV program. A great way to hold yourself accountable for accomplishing your resolution is rewarding yourself with that special treat on weeks that you complete your goal, and withholding it on weeks you don’t.

Remember- slow and steady wins the race!

 Above all, a resolution shouldn’t be overwhelming- it should be doable. Losing 30 pounds in one year becomes a lot easier when it is broken down into losing one pound every few weeks. Saving up for that trip you’ve dreamed about your whole life becomes a lot easier when done in small, steady installments. Working towards a goal is good for us because it adds purpose, invigoration, and focus to our daily routine- but you’ve got to make the process WORK FOR YOU in order to be successful!

Here’s to reaching our goals together this year- one small step at a time!

Maintain the Magic of Christmas: Making the Most of The Holidays with Your Memory-Impaired Loved One

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When most of us hear the word “Christmas,” we are flooded with memories and fond recollections of past holidays spent feasting and feting with those we love most. These memories of beloved holiday traditions make us anticipate the moment we can do it all over again.

But what if you had no recollection of Grandma’s famous sweet potatoes, or you couldn’t recall why everyone gathered at the fireplace for the yearly Christmas blessing? Without the ability to recall the memories that come to mean so much to us, the holidays can feel confusing and stressful.

This situation can potentially challenge many individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. With sensitivity to the affected senior’s needs and appropriate adjustments, the whole family can relax and enjoy their classic holiday traditions together. We’ve compiled some tips for ensuring a smooth, stress-free holiday for everyone involved:

1)   Keep in mind that the heart remembers what the mind does not. Your memory-impaired mom might not remember her favorite Christmas song, but you better believe that her toes will start tapping when you play it; she may even sing and dance along! Your uncle might not remember that coconut cake is his favorite holiday dessert, but that doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy every last bite of it. Underneath the memory loss and its many symptoms, your loved one is still the exact same person with the same feelings and preferences. Carefully consider the individual’s favorite holiday traditions and make a point to include those things in your celebration. Bringing your loved one’s most cherished memories to the table will ignite a physical response that goes deeper than what the mind recalls, creating the most enjoyable atmosphere possible.

2)   Understand and respect your loved one’s limitations. When one loses their memory, they come to rely heavily on their daily routine. Holiday celebrations interrupt the regularity of a practiced routine, and the excitement, crowd, or elevated noise can be potentially stressful. When planning to host a holiday celebration that includes your loved one, consider these factors and plan accordingly. If you usually celebrate the holidays with a large extended family, consider hosting a more intimate get-together including only those family members with whom your loved one is familiar.  Providing a quiet “getaway” space where your loved one can relax will give him or her an outlet if they begin to feel anxious. Take your loved one’s regular routine into account as much as possible while planning, and take care to make only minor deviations. Help your loved one get adequate rest and hydration, avoid over-stimulation, and provide plenty of down time. The closer your family is able to stick to their usual routine, the more relaxed and open to celebrating they will be.

3)    Keep the mood light & festive. Focus on creating small ways for your loved one to feel like an active participant in seasonal traditions. For instance, involve them in wrapping Christmas presents by having them apply the tape, or designate them as “Santa” when gifts are being distributed to keep your loved one engaged in a positive way. Guests with whom your loved one butts heads with, or young children who may not understand why their grandparents are “acting funny”, can unknowingly say or do things that may agitate your loved one. Your foresight into situations like these can help you adequately prepare your guests to interact with your loved one in a way that is constructive to their experience.

4)   HAVE FUN! The holidays are a precious time in which you can create more cherished holiday memories for you and your family to carry with you long after that person is gone. Certainly, planning a celebration involves logistics and roadblocks, but managing your loved one’s memory care needs can be much easier upon implementing the tips we’ve provided. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself as a caregiver- if preparing a holiday meal while trying to manage your loved one’s experience is making you feel overstressed, have dinner catered or make this year’s celebration a potluck feast. Leave the worries about holiday décor and perfect gifts behind, and instead prioritize spending quality time with your loved one, reminiscing and getting reacquainted with who they are today. The day shouldn’t just be special for them- it should also be special for YOU!

Kick the Flu & Cold Season Grinch This Holiday Season!

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While most of us are happily saying goodbye to a long, hot summer and welcoming the new winter season, we can't forget that the cooler weather can oftentimes bring the dreaded "crud" along with it. Winter is often given a bad rap, as it marks the official arrival the cold & flu season. This time of year can be especially problematic for seniors, whose immune systems have a harder time fighting off the ill effects of the flu or a cold. However, with just a little effort, there is no reason for our health to suffer during the colder months! 

There are a number of things we can do to help keep ourselves just as healthy, happy and active during the winter as we are during summer. Here are five easy tips for staying healthy this winter: 

Sleep well: Rest is one of the most important components of maintaining optimal physical and emotional health. It’s important, especially during flu season, that you maintain your energy levels by setting aside time for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. In order to ensure you’re able to get the ideal amount of rest nightly, it’s recommended to support your sleep schedule with good bedtime habits that include powering down electronics an hour before bed, doing something relaxing before getting in bed such as taking a bath or reading, and drinking warm milk or sleepytime tea before bed.

Boost immunity: Cold and flu season is undoubtedly the time of year when our immune systems become the most compromised, so it is important to ensure that you are including beneficial nutrients in your diet to kick charge it during the chilly winter months. Experts recommend consuming natural products like orange juice and supplements like Emergen-C or Aeroborne that support your immune system with lots of of Vitamin C.

Keep moving: It can be more difficult to take part in typical physical activities like walking around the neighborhood when its blustery outside, but exercise is an important method elevating energy and mood levels to support your overall wellbeing during the winter. If you are a walker, relocate to an indoor area, such as the mall (you can even kill two birds with one stone and get some holiday shopping done, as well!) If swimming or jogging is your preference, look into a temporary membership at a nearby gym. Just make sure to get those 30 minutes a day in!

Find ways to unwind and de-stress: The mind-body connection in relation to our physical health is truly a remarkable thing. Stress levels have a major effect on our immune system, and finding the best way to keep your own stress level as low as possible plays a key role in being proactive about your health. Whether its carving out time to relax in front of your favorite show, take a bubble bath, or practicing calming meditation and breathing exercises, make sure you’re treating yourself to daily  “you time” to recharge your batteries.

Wash your hands and avoid those who are sick: During the nasty cold and flu season, it can feel like everyone we know is coming down with the same thing, from coworkers to loved ones. It might feel like it’s inevitable that you’ll get it as well, but by taking careful measures like carrying a mini bottle of hand sanitizer and keeping a healthy distance from individuals you interact with that are feeling under the weather, you CAN successfully keep the bugs at bay!

For more tips on staying healthy during the winter, visit www.WebMD.com!

Too Blessed To Be Stressed: Reduce Stress Levels Through Kindness

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Did you know that November is the month that both World Kindness Day (13th) & Stress Awareness Day (Nov. 1st) occur in? People of all ages often suffer from physical and mental strain that stress can place on the body. However, chronic stress has proven to be most harmful to seniors, as it can cause inflammation that drastically lowers the aging population’s immune system defenses that protect their minds and bodies from diseases like diabetes, cancer, and dementia. This is why seniors are highly encouraged to find physical and emotional outlets through exercise, social opportunities, and meaningful activities and interests that play a role in reducing their stress levels.

Interestingly, performing small acts of kindness has also been proven to help lower one’s stress levels. Those "practice random acts of kindness" bumper stickers may be preaching even more wisdom than we realized. "The take-home message is that when we are stressed and we help others, we can also end up helping ourselves," says study author Emily Ansell, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Ansell’s study illustrated that people who perform at least one to two random acts kindness per day saw a measurable benefit to their overall wellbeing compared to those who did not.

A lot of the time, we find that our daily stress goes up with the approach of the holiday season, as it often means juggling additional responsibilities like hosting/attending parties and purchasing gifts. Ansell says that combating that stress with kindness will help you maintain balance during the season of giving. Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director of Vista Shores Assisted Living & Memory Care in New Orleans, agrees, stating that during the holidays, her entire community, from residents to team members and loved ones, participates in a Food Drive for the local Food Bank. “It helps us to enjoy our own holiday season much more when we know that something as simple as collecting some canned food items and delivering them to the Food Bank is giving those in need the opportunity to enjoy their holiday season as well,” says Bartholomew. “We appreciate our own blessings all the more by blessing others.”

Acts of kindness don’t need to be big or dramatic to have an impact, which means they are an easily attainable goal for everyone to work into their day. “It can be as simple as complimenting someone or holding a door or an elevator for them,” says Ansell. As the holidays approach, remember the reason for the season, and make a conscious effort to be kind- your own stress levels will thank you!  

SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science

"Why I Walk": The Personal Stories That Shed Light On Alzheimer's Disease

Vivian Wharton with her mother Potsie Vinet surrounded by their family

Vivian Wharton with her mother Potsie Vinet surrounded by their family

September through November is a very important span of the year in the fight against Alzheimer's- all over the country, the disease's biggest fundraising and awareness-building event is held in most major cities: The Walk to End Alzheimer's benefiting the Alzheimer's Association.

As a specialized memory care provider, Schonberg Care is passionate about each of our communities being heavily involved in their local Walk to End Alzheimer's as both a sponsor & participant. We recognize the vital importance of the work that the Alzheimer's Association does from a research, education, & family support standpoint, and we advocate, promote, & raise money for the cause throughout the entire year.

Given that so many Walks are taking place this month, we feel that it is the perfect time to showcase the importance of supporting the Alzheimer's Association & the vital support they provide to community members in need. We feel there is no better way to do this than through sharing the personal story of a member of our local community who recently lost their loved one to Alzheimer's disease to showcase the devastating impact that Alzheimer's disease has not only on the individual, but also on their loved ones.

As the Northshore Walk to End Alzheimer's is coming up this Saturday, October 7th at Fontainebleau State Park (click here to learn more) and that is where two of our communities, Beau Provence in Mandeville & Park Provence in Slidell, are located, we asked a Beau Provence family member to share the story of her beautiful and vibrant mother Potsie's journey, and she graciously agreed. Thank you, Vivian, for shining this light onto Alzheimer's disease through you and your family's experience:

WHY I WALK, BY VIVIAN WHARTON

 "My family and I realized that something wasn't quite right with my mother Potsie around the time that she turned 80 years old. She expressed to me that she felt her memory was slipping away from her, and she was scared and upset because she didn't understand what was happening to her. It wasn't long after that conversation that she voluntarily gave up driving, and we watched this talented and beautiful woman slowly slip away from us over the course of the next seven years.

We soon realized that we needed extra assistance caring for my mother and her changing needs, and after doing some research, we learned about Beau Provence Memory Care Assisted Living, a memory care exclusive community that was conveniently located very close to where my entire family lived. Upon visiting, we were impressed with the cleanliness and openness of the community. Most importantly, we were impressed with the Executive Director Shelly Jarrell and her extensive knowledge about caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, as she had dealt with it personally through her own father having had Alzheimer's. We found her to be very compassionate, understanding, and honest, and that was our experience throughout our entire time at Beau Provence.

Beau Provence's support was invaluable to us during the final stages of my mother's journey through this debilitating disease. The nursing staff was competent and accessible, and my mother was assigned one CNA as her caretaker, which comforted us in knowing how well she knew my mother and was able to anticipate her wants and needs. 

If you find yourself in the difficult position of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, know that you're not alone, and you don't have to do it alone. A loving and patient community can and will make all the difference for you and your family. If you do seek the assistance of a community (which I recommend), make sure that it is somewhere in which you have constant access to your loved one, day or night. My family visited my mother all the time, and my father Champ Vinet was there with her every single day! We truly built an extended family within the Beau Provence community that we will always cherish.

Why do I walk at the Walk to End Alzheimer's? I walk in the memory of my dear mother Potsie, who we lost this past July, as well as for the memory of my grandmother and great-grandmother. Just as importantly, I walk so that one day (soon, hopefully) there will be a cure for this devastating and very expensive illness. My parents would have been married 69 years on October 1st of this year. This was a very difficult diagnosis for our entire family- we went through all of the emotions, the first being denial. My mom was physically in great shape, and if not for this disease, she would still be with my dad and her children, watching her grands and great-grandchildren reaching important milestones in their lives.

To quote Nancy Reagan, Alzheimer's disease is "the long goodbye." I walk so that someday others will be spared from having to experience this long, sad farewell."

 -Vivian Whorton, Daughter of Potsie Vinet 

WE ARE FAMILY: National Assisted Living Week Celebrates The Special Bonds Residents Form Within Their Communities

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We are always very excited for September to roll around at our communities, as it is the month that we officially celebrate NATIONAL ASSISTED LIVING WEEK, which kicks off on Grandparent’s Day Sunday, September 10th and goes through Saturday, September 16th.  This celebration was established by the National Center for Assisted Living in 1995, who has chosen “Family is Forever” as this year’s theme, inspired by a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

The National Center for Assisted Living outlines that this theme recognizes the unique bonds formed between those who reside in assisted living communities and those who work and volunteer within their communities. For many assisted living caregivers, their dedication and consideration develops into a deep emotional attachment, where staff and residents come to think of one another as true family. From getting to know the residents inside and out and listening to their amazing stories, to spending time after hours to do something nice for them, to being there in their final moments, this National Assisted Living Week® is meant to honor those caregivers who give their hearts and souls to their residents.

Our Schonberg communities embrace National Assisted Living Week as an opportunity to celebrate all of the residents and team members that play a vital role in making our community a home by planning innovative, out-of-the-box special events and experiences that we can all enjoy together. A great example of this concept is our community Pendleton Manor in Greenville, South Carolina, who has gone all out in planning a weeklong “cruise on the SS Pendleton” celebration, in which each day has a “destination” theme full of fun activities. “I’m most looking forward to our St. Lucia-themed adventure coming up on Thursday,” says Pendleton Manor Executive Director Susan Blair. “It’s a bucket list destination for myself and many of our residents, so we’re all looking forward to a staycation that includes a shopping trip, snorkeling, and Dirty Banana cocktails!”

We are so thankful for the amazing team members at each of our Schonberg communities that go above and beyond and put all of their heart into forming the special families found at each of our communities, and we absolutely love the opportunity to celebrate those unique bonds with fun for everyone during National Assisted Living Week. Cheers to all of the amazing caregivers and team members at assisted living communities all over the world- this week is for you!

Live Like You Were Dying: The Benefits of Building & Checking Items Off Your “Senior Bucket List”

It’s probably safe to say that we all have a bit of a “bucket list” going in our heads, those far-fetched dreams or adventurous goals that we hope to accomplish during our time here on Earth: things that require courage (skydiving), money (a trip around the world), time (getting another degree) or some other factor that makes it more difficult to obtain. How many of us actually wind up checking those items off the list, though? There always seems to be something more important- bills that need to be paid, hours that need to be worked, family obligations- and the time we have available to satisfy those deeply buried desires of our heart ticks on without us even realizing it. As so many people who have reached the end of their journey have said, it’s not the things we do in our life that we regret, it’s all the things we haven’t done.

Do you want to live a life with no regrets? If so, we challenge you to not only BUILD a real-life bucket list, but PRIORITIZE it! Making a commitment to follow through on your real-life bucket list is beneficial for so many reasons- it empowers you by proving to yourself that you are capable of accomplishing your goals, it gives purpose and meaning to your life by enhancing it with those amazing experiences, and it gives you the joy of continuing to choose your own happiness and knowing that the best is yet to come. “It is so inspiring to watch my residents continue to mark bucket items off their list,” says Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director of Vista Shores Assisted Living & Memory Care in New Orleans. “Their passion for trying new things and zest for living life to the fullest sets an example for me and the way in which I choose to live my own.”

Are you ready to stop talking and start doing? Then follow these simple steps:

1)   Formalize & organize your bucket list. It’s time to commit to your bucket list items by committing them to paper. Think long & hard about the things you REALLY want to accomplish- what are the things that have been on your list for what feels like forever? What are the things that truly ignite your passion in life? Work on narrowing the list down to the things that are truly vital, then put them in a formal document and make two copies- one for yourself, and one for someone who is dear to you and will hold you accountable for accomplishing them (and maybe even come along for the ride!)

2)   Start planning. What will it take to accomplish those bucket list items, and what is the quickest way to get there? If you need to save a certain amount of money to achieve your goal, create a budget designed to sock away the money as quickly as you can manage. If you need to make travel plans or other arrangements ahead of time, begin your online research or contact a travel agent or another resource that can assist you. Make a list of all the things that need to happen for you to achieve your dream, then create a schedule of to-do’s that will help you mark them off one by one.

3)   Stay the course. There will always, ALWAYS be a reason to put your bucket list off for another day. However, you can’t lose sight of the biggest reason not to: YOU and your own happiness and fulfillment! Tomorrow is never promised today, so it is time to officially start making those once-in-a-lifetime memories that you will look back on at the end of yours.

Let's go carpe that diem, y'all!

Thank You For Being A Friend: The Important Role Close Connections Play In Senior Health

Friendship Day falls in the month of August, and it is an apt reminder of the vital role that friendships play in our happiness, self-esteem, and emotional/physical wellbeing throughout every stage of our life. It has been scientifically proven through a myriad of social studies that people with strong connections to family, friends, and their community are happier, healthier, and living longer. It has even been found that healthy social ties can have a more prominent effect on longevity of life than other healthy living practices, such as eating well and exercising.

Unfortunately, maintaining strong social bonds can become more challenging as we age for a variety of reasons. As we get older, we become more likely to suffer the loss of a spouse and/or other highly valued loved ones, and the severance of such important bonds can be emotionally devastating. Seniors are also more likely to have a decrease in daily social interaction as they age due to factors like retirement or the inability to get around as well as they used to because of driving or health reasons. The social changes that can come about as a result of aging lead to an increased sense of loneliness and isolation that can have very negative effects on a senior’s health.

As an assisted living and memory care provider, we can cite numerous health benefits of becoming part of a senior living community. The security, comfort, and convenience assisted living provides are all compelling reasons to consider senior living options- however, we find the SOCIAL benefits our communities offer to seniors to undoubtedly be the most impactful on their lives and wellbeing. From our ladies that meet to play bridge every afternoon, to our energetic Walking Club, to our group of gentlemen that rise early every morning to debate the morning’s news over a cup of coffee- it is so gratifying to witness our residents develop the bonds that turn them from acquaintances to friends to family.

“There is no question that social connection plays a huge role in the health and happiness of our residents,” states Nancy McAllister, Assisted Living Executive Director at Bay Cove Assisted Living & Memory Care in Biloxi, MS. “I have seen numerous cases of a resident joining our community shortly following the loss of a spouse- they are often sad, frail, and experiencing depression or other physical or emotional issues. Within a few months, they have done a 180- with the help of new friends and the opportunity to take part in our active community scene, they are laughing, interacting, and finding joy and purpose in life again.”

However, becoming part of a community is far from being the only way for seniors to stay socially connected. Other tips to build and maintain strong social ties include:

-Find a new club or organization to become part of. Do you love gardening? Contact your local Garden Club about becoming a member! Are you an avid reader? Check out book clubs in your area online! Are you passionate about your faith? Seek out new opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals by trying a new Bible study in your area. Whatever your passion, there is sure to be a new outlet that will help you connect with new people and renew your sense of purpose. If you have trouble driving, see if you can carpool with a group member that lives close by- or simply catch a Lyft!

-Pick up the phone. Is there a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with or reconnect with? A family member you haven’t talked to in a while? There’s no time like the present! In today’s hyper-busy world, we often feel like taking the time to connect over the phone or a cup of coffee to be a “bother” or an infringement on the other person’s time- yet the most reported regret of older individuals is letting hectic lives allow them to lose touch with valued friends. Be the person who bridges the gap – that fostered connection can lead to planning outings and trips that will allow you to create wonderful new experiences and memories together.

-Smile at a stranger. Meeting new people can feel daunting, but something as simple as exchanging smiles and pleasantries with the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store can positively effect your mood and your emotional wellbeing. And who knows – that person standing next to you in line just might be your future BFF. You’ll never know until you smile and say hello!

As the Golden Girls taught us, friendship is the glue that holds us together during the tough times – so make sure you’re prioritizing your health by being a friend!    

Attention, Seniors: Being Up To Date On Your Immunizations Could Make Or Break Your Health

It’s National Immunization Awareness Month, and it is especially important that seniors take note of the important immunizations that could be instrumental in protecting them from certain illnesses that can have a major impact on their health in their later years. When someone hears the word “immunization,” they tend to automatically think of babies and children, as immunizations play such a vital role in the protection and formation of the adolescent immune system.

However, the immune system can also become weaker and more vulnerable with age, and certain illnesses can become much harder to fight off over time. Because of this, it is essential that seniors are aware of the immunizations that are recommended for them based upon age their age and health, and are on top of remaining up-to-date on their immunization schedules. “We team up with a health care provider to offer free flu shots annually at our community to all of our residents,” states Shannon Boudreaux, Executive Director at The Suites At Sugar Mill Point in Houma, LA. “Over 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people aged 65 years and older, and we know it is so important to the health of our senior population that we want to make getting this vital vaccine as convenient and accessible as possible for them.”

The vaccinations that are typically recommended to seniors for optimal health include the following:
-Influenza (Flu)
-Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
-Diptheria
-Tetanus
-Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
-Pneumococcal Disease (Pneumonia)

If you’re interested in learning more about the specific vaccinations you might need, clock here to receive personalized vaccine recommendations based upon your age, health status, location, and other factors: https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/

Source: www.vaccines.gov

Seniors Looking To Improve Your Memory- Stop & Smell the Rosemary!

rosemary

It is common knowledge that as we age, we tend to get a bit more forgetful. While all of us can fall victim to faulty memory issues (blanking on the name of the great new restaurant you tried last week, forgetting where you set down the keys), it becomes a more regular occurrence the older one gets. Our “future memory,” the function that helps us to remember to take our medication or go to the hair appointment we have scheduled next week, is the type of memory most affected within the aging brain. With Alzheimer’s disease on the rapid rise, seniors are more concerned than ever before with taking preventative steps to protect their cognitive function & memory.

Despite modern medicine’s frustrating inability as of yet to create a medication that is markedly successful at halting memory regression and preventing further memory loss down the road, studies into a long-established herbal remedy has yielded surprisingly promising results at improving memory: rosemary oil.

Rosemary has actually been linked to memory function for hundreds of years. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia even mentions it in her famous line, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Determined to test out every possible solution to the declining memory dilemma that has become a national crisis, scientists set up a study testing the effects of rosemary oil and lavender oil through a series of memory tests. 60 senior volunteers were told they were being brought in to “test out a new vitamin water drink,” being placed in a room that was either infused with rosemary oil, infused with lavender oil (an herbal remedy known to promote rest, relaxation, & sedation), or an unscented control room. They were then administered a series of tests designed to measure their prospective memory, with challenges that included having to remember where objects were hidden around the room after a lengthy period of time and solving complex word puzzles while simultaneously being given memory-related tasks, such as “When you come across a question about the Queen, remind me to call the garage.”

The results showed that the volunteers in the room with the rosemary infusion performed significantly better than those in the control room, proving to be 60-75% more likely to successfully perform memory challenges in comparison to the control group, while those that were in the room with the lavender performed significantly lower than those in the control room. It is hypothesized that rosemary is so effective on memory function because of compounds in it known as 1,8-cineole, which is thought to act on the brain in the same way as certain drugs licensed to treat dementia by increasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

In addition to its proven positive effects on the memory, rosemary is also believed to alleviate pain, sooth migraines, aid in digestion, calm itchy scalp, and ease muscle aches. Are you interested in testing out rosemary on your own memory function? Give it a try- its as easy as placing three to four drops of rosemary on a tissue and allowing the scent to waft through the air. For a longer lasting aroma, you can add 10 drops of rosemary oil to two cups of boiled water, or diffuse it through one of the many aromatherapy kits currently on the market. Go get your herbal on!

 

Sources: BBC.com, UndergroundHealth.com

Summer Heat Waves Pose Danger For Seniors: How To Prevent Heat Exhaustion & Stroke

Summer evokes images of bright sunshine, ice cold lemonade, juicy watermelon slices, and a hammock on a beautiful beach. However, the dangers of overheating in the summer heat aren't quite so picturesque. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When heat stroke is serious enough, it can be fatal- roughly 3,000 U.S. deaths a year are heat-related, and over 40% of those deaths occur among individuals aged 65 and older.

Seniors are much more likely to be affected by these heat-induced health concerns because our bodies become less efficient at regulating body temperature as we age. Signs of heat-related illness include excessive sweating, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, and muscle cramps, while serious cases may progress to nausea, vomiting, and fainting.

In the dog days of summer, it is more important than ever that seniors are vigilant about remaining hydrated and comfortably cool. Courtney Bartholomew, the Executive Director at Vista Shores Assisted Living & Memory Care in New Orleans, wholeheartedly agrees, stating, “Extra precautions must definitely be taken during summer months, particularly in places with very warm and humid climates like we have here in Louisiana. We make sure that cold, refreshing, fruit-enhanced ice water is always available in our dining room, and we focus on planning enriching, engaging indoor activities to ensure our residents have fun while beating the heat!”

The following tips will help you keep cool and stay healthy all summer long:

- Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics; wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.

- Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.

- Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.

- Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.

- Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. There are even types that attach to a water bottle and spray a cooling mist.

- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these will promote dehydration. 

Here's to remaining calm, cool, and collected together this summer!

Did You Know Your Favorite Indulgence Is Also Good For Your Brain?

Chocolate lovers, rejoice- just in time for World Chocolate Day, we’re here to tell you that a study done by Harvard Medical School proves that chocolate helps to keep your brain healthy!

The results of their study showed that people who drink two cups of hot cocoa a day had improved memory and blood flow to the brain. There is one tiny caveat, though- only chocolates that contain high levels of antioxidants are shown to be beneficial. Antioxidants are found in high levels in dark chocolate, and they combat wear and tear that oxidative stress causes in aging brains. So make sure to be choosy and go for a darker chocolate next time you’re in need of a fix, as those are the ones that are packed full of those fabulous antioxidants!

"We try to incorporate servings of dark chocolate into our resident's diets as much as possible, and a great way to do that is to find unique and fun ways to celebrate the MANY national chocolate celebrations that take place throughout the year," says Shannon Boudreaux, Executive Director at assisted living and memory care community The Suites At Sugar Mill Point. "Our residents love it because it's delicious, and we love it because it's brain-healthy and nutritious!"

In addition to providing important antioxidant benefits, cocoa consumption has also been found to boost thinking and memory performance, as well as increasing healthy blood flow to the brain. So, as if you needed any motivation, make sure you get your (dark) chocolate fix today on World Chocolate Day and every day! You know what they say- a chocolate a day keeps cognitive issues at bay! ;) #WorldChocolateDay

SOURCE: Newsmax Health

How Our Home State Is Changing the Game in Alzheimer’s Research

As a assisted living & memory care provider that was founded in Louisiana specifically to fill the need for exceptional, high-quality senior care options in the area, we here at Schonberg Care are proud to share our home state with the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The Institute was founded in 2008 as a means of bolstering research efforts in the Gulf South & serving patients as far away as east Texas & west Florida. Today, the Institute is considered a world class program & center of excellence at the forefront of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia research field, receiving 20.1 million dollars in federal, state, corporate & philanthropic funds to continue the promising partnerships with major drug companies & active studies they have underway with research participants across a four-state area.

As Jeff Keller, the director of the Institute, points out in a recent interview with The Advocate, this research is more important & vital than ever. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in America, with more than 5 million Americans currently living with the disease now. That number is projected to increase to a staggering 16 million by 2050, and the resulting cost to the nation could exceed $1.1 trillion dollars. “Unless we find a way to prevent this disease from happening, we are going to be stretched to our limits financially, socially, & emotionally as a country,” says Keller.

There is currently no cure for this disease, but researchers at the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention are on a race against the clock to change that, working vigorously on both treatment methods & on discovering the various causes of the disease in efforts of stopping the damage before it starts. Their preventative studies cover a wide range of causal associations, including the effects of risk reduction in patients older than 60 years of age with no current signs of dementia, the impact of high blood pressure on cognitive function, & methods of decreasing beta amyloid, a protein known for its harmful effects on the brain when it clumps together to form plaques. The Institute’s focus on screening both seniors with healthy brains & those with dementia & comparing their cognitive changes is helping researchers make important connections regarding those key differences that is bringing us closer to understanding how to prevent the disease from occurring. "As the only community in the Greater New Orleans area devoted exclusively to serving residents with Alzheimer's and Dementia, we are very aware of the unique challenges that this disease causes for not only the person living with it, but also their loved ones," says Shelly Jarrell, Executive Director at Beau Provence Memory Care Assisted Living. "We as a community are thrilled with the amazing strides our home state is making in the fight against Alzheimer's through these groundbreaking research studies, and we are committed to supporting the Institute's efforts in every way that we can."

Alzheimer’s disease is affecting more and more of our senior population every day, & Keller emphasizes that getting a handle on this crisis is a “top priority” to the Institute, as it should be for the entire world. Are you interested in being part of this vital movement & contributing to the Institute’s valuable research? Below are some of the studies you can get involved in:

-Louisiana Aging Brain Study: Screens individuals over the age of 60 who have not been diagnosed with dementia, in order to track the relationship between mobility & cognitive change over time.

-Joe Lamar Dementia Study: For those with dementia, this study measures the patient’s cognitive function/risk for falls, with the potential to be asked to participate in a drug trial.

-Risk Reduction for Alzheimer’s Disease: Recruits those with high blood pressure over the age of 60 who do not show signs of dementia but have experienced some memory loss or have a family member that has been diagnosed.

-Early: A study focused on individuals between the ages of 55-85 who have not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but are at an increased risk for developing it. Some participants will receive medication designed to reduce levels of beta amyloid.

-A4: Studies the immune system of individuals 60 years of age or older who do not show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, to track whether or not the immune system can remove beta amyloids in the brain.

If you are interested in learning any more about these studies, visit http://idrp.pbrc.edu or call 225.763.2973.

Sources: The Advocate, The Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention 

Celebrating Our Front Lines In Providing Exceptional Care- Our CNA’s

This week marks the beginning of the 40th Annual National Nursing Assistants Week (June 15th - 22nd), a week that celebrates those too often unsung heroes who serve as the cornerstone of care at every assisted living & memory care community: Career Nursing Assistants (CNA’s). These loving, compassionate, & endlessly patient individuals are the ones that spend the most time with our residents, providing assistance with all aspects of their daily life & care, aiding in activities, sharing conversation, & developing the special bonds that make them the heart & soul of our residents’ community experience.

Words cannot adequately convey the importance of each and every CNA in setting the tone & maintaining our standard of excellence in care, as well as creating & cultivating a positive, enriching lifestyle for our residents each & every day. These “Care Specialists” have earned their hard-won expertise by devoting their career & lives to focusing on the wellbeing of others.  We love National Nursing Assistants Week because it gives us the opportunity to plan activities & events that celebrate our CNA’s & show our appreciation for the amazing compassion & care they diligently provide day in & day out.

Our Schonberg communities choose to celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week in a variety of different ways, with events & gifts that are unique to each community & the preferences of their own CNAs. Some communities create a fun “theme” for each day that allows both residents & CNAs to let loose & showcase their individuality & creativity through themes like “Pajama Party Day,” “80’s Day,” & “Rep Your Favorite Sports Team Day.” Themed days also provide a great opportunity for CNA’s to further strengthen bonds with their residents over shared interests each theme uncovers, such as the fact that they are both die-hard Broncos fans or that Madonna is their favorite 80’s icon. "Both our residents and our team members have the absolute best time cutting loose and having fun together through the activities that take place at our community during CNA Week," says Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director at Vista Shores Assisted Living & Memory Care. "Our amazing CNA's deserve to be celebrated every single day for their tireless commitment to the residents they serve, so the least we can do is give them a fun-filled week that is all about them!"

Other ways we show our CNA’s the appreciation they deserve include providing snack stations throughout the week (Breakfast Bites, Ice Cream & Pizza Parties, catered lunches, etc.), daily drawings for door prizes like gift cards or restaurant/spa gift certificates, & special gifts from the community, like a customized thermal mug filled with candy.

There are countless ways to celebrate the CNA’s that serve as the vital front lines & foundation of a community’s care program, and we encourage everyone who benefits from the hard work and dedication of a CNA to find their own special way to say THANK YOU this week for all the big & small ways that CNA’s improve the lives & health of yourself, your loved one, or the residents that your community serves. We most definitely will be!

 

Who Do You Wear Purple For?

alzheimer_awareness

June officially marks Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a worldwide awareness campaign that organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association promote in efforts to cultivate a better understanding of what Alzheimer’s/Dementia is, the rapidly increasing impact it is having on our senior population, it’s warning signs & symptoms, steps for prevention, & resources & techniques for living effectively with the disease following diagnosis.

This year’s campaign includes celebrities holding up signs that indicate who they’re wearing purple for, such as “for my dad & grandfather,” “for my Aunt Rose,” “for my grandmother & great-grandmother,” & “for my mom & dad.” It’s a very effective approach for raising awareness, because it showcases how widespread the effects of this disease have become on families all over the world, from all walks of life. Everyone with a brain is at risk for developing this disease, and if you don’t yet have a loved one effected by Alzheimer’s/dementia, the odds are unfortunately good that you soon will. More than 5 million people living in the US currently have Alzheimer’s disease, & that number is projected to steadily grow to 16 million by the year 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is quickly becoming a global crisis, which is why it is so important to learn all we can about this disease & to actively participate in the worldwide effort to annihilate it. "We work hard to promote Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month within our local community," says Jay Tipton, Executive Director at Ashton Manor Assisted Living & Memory Care in Luling, LA. "We have served memory care residents as young as 50 years old, and the number of memory care patients we serve is growing every year;  it is very important that every person has a good understanding of this disease, especially its indicators and warning signs, because it can truly effect absolutely anyone." 

So what are you waiting for- get involved in the ever-so-important Purple Purpose!

-To learn more about the FACTS regarding Alzheimer’s disease, including the 10 warning signs, stages, risk factors, prevention techniques, & current important research initiatives, visit http://alz.org/alzheimers_disease_1973.asp.

-Get involved in local efforts taking place for The Longest Day, an event that takes place June 21st, 2017 as people form teams & engage in a wide range of activities to honor their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia & to raise money that supports the fight for a cure. To learn more about The Longest Day & how YOU can get involved, visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=9704&pg=informational&sid=23675.

-GO PURPLE! Help spread awareness among through your business or organization of choice by registering for a Go Purple packet that furnishes you with awareness materials, information, activity ideas & instructions, & campaign tools to help you easily plan your own awareness initiative that will impact & support the community around you. You never know who is in need of this vital info, or who soon will be- so be the person that connects them with resources that could be life-changing! To start your own Go Purple initiative, simply fill out the following form: https://docs.google.com/a/alfordadvertising.com/forms/d/1X4dNZwMdXNbRuI9m-HqhV3DmwsH00SdyKgvEmrxPkXo/viewform?edit_requested=true

-SHARE your Purple Pride! Help spread awareness & interest in this super important cause by using your voice on social media. Become part of the Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram conversation by sharing a picture of yourself in your purple gear with the hashtag #IGoPurpleFor & your story, followed by the hashtag #EndAlz or #MyAlzStory! Check out how celebrities & people just like us are sharing their stories at http://alz.org/abam/.

We look forward to being part of the Power of Purple with you all this month!

 

GET BUSY BLOOMING: WHY GARDENING IS THE PERFECT SUMMER ACTIVITY FOR SENIORS

We have all heard that exercise is one of the most important ways to help ward off the mental and physical effects of aging. Unfortunately, as one grows older, it can become harder on the body to partake in some of the more rigorous activities that may have been beloved hobbies throughout life, such as running or playing a high-impact sport.

It is important for seniors to find a physically and mentally stimulating activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle without being too strenuous on the body. The great news is, summer welcomes the perfect opportunity to take part in an activity that offers a host of low-impact, high reward benefits: gardening!

Gardening is an ideal hobby for seniors to invest their time in for a wide variety of important reasons. Physically, it allows one to engage in moderate but very beneficial physical activity, and it also provides exposure to the many health benefits the sun provides, including mood elevation & Vitamin D production.

Gardening is such an amazing activity because it does just as much good for the mind as it does for the body. Everyone feels the inherent need to live a purpose-driven life, and it is important that seniors find meaningful ways to fulfill that need during their golden years, when the responsibilities of work and raising children have lessened. Gardening is the perfect outlet for that: growing new life takes patience, time, dedication, and the commitment to keep learning and to persevere through any obstacles or setbacks that arise. "We had an amazing group of volunteers come and set up a bunch of planters in the large backyard behind our community, and it has been absolutely wonderful for our residents," says Kathy McPhail, Executive Director of Alden Pointe Assisted Living & Memory Care in Hattiesburg, MS. "Caring for these plants on a daily basis gives our residents such a sense of purpose, and spending quiet time out in the beautiful sunshine has instilled peace and joy in us all!"

In addition to the cognitive stimulation and physical benefit that gardening provides, it can also be very emotionally fulfilling, as well. Gardening can often be quite a challenging task, and the sense of accomplishment one feels in seeing the plants they lovingly cultivated grow and thrive promotes confidence in one’s abilities and a boost in self-esteem.

After reading this post, we hope you are inspired to dig out your gardening gloves and sun hat and start researching a new planting project that interests you! If you’re a newbie to the gardening game, it would be a great idea to contact a local gardening club in your area- they are usually more than willing to answer any questions you might have, and many are happy to come by and help you get your own garden started. Whether on your own or with a friend or a club, we wish you the best of luck in breathing new life into your summer through the cultivation of bountiful, beautiful blooms!