Thursday, February 23, 2012

North Crest Resident's Celebrate Valentine's Day with Pacelli Students

Valentine hearts beat more passionately than everyday hearts.  ~Anonymous

A dance on Valentine's Day at North Crest thanks to the caring students attending Pacelli High School.

A grandmother and granddaughter dance: grandmother is a resident, her granddaughter a student at Pacelli High School.

Our dear resident Angie, still dancing at 99-years young, with Pacelli students.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Immune Response Changes In Seniors Place Them At Risk

Seniors can be affected with a variety of different types of infections that hit hard and hang on. As we get older our immune response changes and one of the most prevalent infections impacting seniors is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Sometimes our loved ones can’t tell us what the problem is, where the pain is or when something doesn’t feel right. UTI’s can be very dangerous when not treated quickly. Symptoms in seniors can be different than in younger people. 

Sometimes the only symptom of a UTI in the elderly is acute confusion. If an older person becomes suddenly confused or have behavioral issues, some people may think that their loved one must be developing Dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. Others may mistakenly assume that confusion is normal for all older people. You may find your loved one feeling restless and anxious.  Some seniors will have overall discomfort and weakness, including falls or unsteady gait. There may be loss of appetite or dizziness. Seniors will be unable to do activities of everyday living they always perform. A person with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or other dementia may become temporarily worse. 

Physical UTI symptoms that might present themselves include:  foul, strong smelling urine, more frequent trips to the bathroom especially at night, inability to empty the bladder fully leaving a feeling that your loved one needs to go when they just went, pressure or mild pain when urinating, night sweats, shaking or chills, lower back pain, general discomfort, a feeling of being over-tired, blood in the urine, incontinence, nausea, vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath and abdominal pain. Woman may have pain above the pubic bone. Men sometimes have a feeling of fullness in the rectum. Back and side pain can indicate the infection has reached the kidneys. However, a person would probably not have all these signs; and perhaps none. If left untreated, the infection can spread and develop into far more serious conditions. Seniors will rarely get a fever, but if an older patient has one it is considered an emergency. It should not be taken lightly. UTI’s for instance, are a leading cause of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream.

UTI’s can be prevented by keeping the area clean after using the restroom with front to back wiping and if wearing adult briefs, they should be changed regularly. Take a shower instead of a bath. Making sure your loved one is getting enough fluids especially including cranberry juice. Limit caffeine containing beverages which might irritate your bladder.

If your loved one’s symptoms are consistent with a bladder infection it’s recommended that their healthcare provider be called for an appointment.  The most common treatment for a UTI is antibiotics.

Lori Schuler is Marketing and Activity Director for Pioneer Place supportive Apartments
and North Haven Assisted Living Homes

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Senior Gems: A Precious Way of Looking at the Different Stages of Dementia/Alzheimer's

Dementia/Alzheimer Education Training is the key to success when understanding and working with your loved one affected by this disease.  It is my passion to educate and train caregivers, people with dementia, families, and to speak at conferences in Wisconsin and the surrounding states. I aspire to be a positive part of the ongoing journey through education training ‘Teepa Snow Style’.  Teepa Snow is an occupational therapist working as an expert dementia education specialist with 30 years of experience in geriatrics. 

After working with Teepa in conferences I have learned to go in and out of character as a typical person with Dementia/Alzheimer’s to demonstrate common issues and problems. A great way to learn new ways of thinking, first hand understanding with hands on opportunity, for better outcome and results in understanding and dealing with Dementia/Alzheimer’s in a safe and fun environment.

The ‘Senior Gems’ is a precious and prize winning way of looking at the different stages of Dementia/Alzheimer’s that will affect your loved one. 

‘Sapphire’ is true blue with normal aging changes-no Dementia; slowing down, slower to learn, slower to changes, slower reactions and processing thoughts.

‘Diamond’ is clear, rigid, hard, many facets, sharp, cuts metal and glass, and a diamond can really shine. We are still clear but we repeat, we like routine, we are territorial, we have lost our filter we say what we think even if it hurts the ones we love, rules are for everyone else, I see errors in everyone, and everyone is wrong but me.

‘Emerald’ is green and has a flaw in it.  We are on the go, we think we are fine, get emotional quickly, make mistakes and don’t realize it, do things over and over or skip a step completely, we ask “What? Where? When?, limited awareness of ‘real needs’ (hunger, thirst, voiding, bathing, grooming), we like choices, get lost in our past life, and we need help and don’t know it or like it.

‘Amber’ is a yellow soft mineral.  We are cautious and caught in the moment of time, we are all about sensation, and are explorers, we get into stuff, we either have sensory tolerance or sensory need, no safety awareness, no ability to understand, repetition of sounds, words, actions, we do what we like and avoid what we do not.  We do not like being helped, touched, handled, showers or baths.

‘Ruby’ is red.  Our fine motor skills have stopped, we have repetitive actions or motions (rocking), limited visual awareness and words, major sensory changes, looses all depth perception, and we startle easily, we can’t figure out details but can copy others, we are either on the go or at a full stop.

‘Pearl’ is layered and hidden in a shell, still and quiet, we are unable to actively move or respond with limited awareness of our world around us, we have problems swallowing, and we have multiple systems failing.  The end of my journey is here.  

Lori Schuler is Marketing and Activity Director for Pioneer Place supportive Apartments
and North Haven Assisted Living Homes

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Students Brighten Christmas Season for Residents at Central Wisconsin Senior Living

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our
childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport
the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"  ~ Charles Dickens

We love the holiday season and not just because our cooks are the best at recreating the special holiday treats our residents remember from their Christmas past. Among the sounds of the Christmas music and the merry chatter of family members spending time with the residents is the sound of children and young adults helping to make our season bright.

Pre-Kindergarten students from Bannach School singing Christmas carols following a visit with the residents. 

The talented Pacelli High School Choir performed for the residents on Christmas Eve Day. These wonderful singers amazed everyone with their artistry.

Several Pacelli High School students working at North Crest with Chef Teri Lepak for the day. They helped with activities, dancing with the residents, entertaining in the afternoon.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Healthy Resolutions to Insure a Happy New Year's For Seniors

The New Year means new starts, and that typically involves making New Year's resolutions. While the old-faithful standbys still exist, adults over the age of 65 can greatly benefit from making healthy resolutions - especially those that help prevent illness and injury. Here are five New Year's resolutions that will keep you feeling young and vibrant.

Participate in Cognitive Health Activities
Mental health is an important aspect of health that we tend to overlook as we extol the benefits of staying physically fit. Keep your mind engaged and stimulated through a language class, book club or by playing brain games and trivia on the computer.

Exercise or start a new physical activity
Exercise doesn't have to be exhausting, and it certainly doesn't have to feel like work. Older adults are increasingly looking to classes such as yoga and tai chi to not only increase physical health, but to meet people and widen their social circles. Other activities like local walking clubs can be found at many senior organizations and community centers.

Eat More Fresh Foods
Processed foods are easy to throw together for a meal, but they come with a host of health issues and concerns, and frankly; they're not worth the hassle. Make a promise to eat more fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables and you'll see a noticeable difference in the way you look and feel - and it takes very little work on your end.

Make Your Home Safer
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Many of these falls are preventable, especially if home safety tips are implemented. Tips like moving cords out of walkways, having good lighting near beds and taping down edges of carpeting and rugs can help tremendously to decrease the number and severity of falls for seniors.

Schedule Regular Checkups
Unfortunately, with age comes increased risk of illness and other complications such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis and other medical conditions. Making sure that you schedule a regular annual checkup can help in early detection and prevention.

Not only will these New Year's resolutions improve your mental and physical healthy, they'll provide social opportunities and benefit your life in multiple ways. What are some of your goals and resolutions for the upcoming year?

Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Seniors published Dec 21, 2011 by NYC Senior Care
New Year's 2012 photo credit: Jannoon028

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pioneer Place Residents Share Memories of Christmas Past

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred,
and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit,
become a child again at Christmas-time. 
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Recently, a few of the residents at Pioneer Place shared their Christmas memories. We are privileged to post them here as part of our Christmas celebration and a reminder of how important our family is every day of the year but especially at Christmas.

I remember when I was a kid, we lived on a farm in Custer. We really didn't have much of a celebration for Christmas because my parents were very poor. We had hardly any presents and no Christmas tree. But at my Custer school, we had beautiful Christmas programs and I always had a part in them. I like that very much so now I really appreciate everything I have.
        Submitted by Lorraine

When I was about 9 or 10 years old during the Great Depression, I got a doll about 14 or 15 inches tall. The doll had "real" yellow hair, a dress, sox, and little slippers. Best of all, it had eyes that opened and shut and it cried when I rolled it over on its face! It was also very , very cold when Mom gave it to me. I asked why the doll was so cold and she said that Santa Claus had delivered it by airplane. I found out years later that she had stored our presents in the machine shed or granary so we kids wouldn't find them before Christmas! Recalling it now, I realize that Mom probably wanted that doll as much as I did because over the years she sewed clothes for it with scraps of fabric or good parts from worn out clothes. I still have the doll tucked away in a dresser drawer on a little blanket for her bed!
      Submitted by Catherine

When I was about seven years old, my father and mother gave me a doll for Christmas. It was about half as tall as I was and had blond hair, blue eyes, a blue dress with ribbon decoration, black shoes and white stockings. I loved playing with it and still had it when I was grown up. I was planning to give it to my sister's girls. After my mother died, my dad married a lady with eight children. The three youngest were much younger than I and often played with my doll. Somehow the legs of the doll got broken so I decided to give my nieces some movies instead. I was very glad that they liked the movies very much and watched them over and over again.
      Submitted by Audrey

Every year around Christmas time when I was a little girl, our front parlor was closed off and none of us dared to open that door. Through a crack in the door came the smell of oranges and apples and some evenings we cold hear a lot of activity on the other side of the door. On Christmas morning, we would each get a box. My parents had a large family, and in those depression years there was little money for frills, so all we could expect was some candy and nuts, a large orange, maybe a cap and warm mittens, a warm nightie, and one or two toys.

My sister was four years older than I, and on this Christmas I remember, she had a beautiful doll on the very top of her box. When I opened my box, I had all the practical gifts. I tried to hide my disappointment just knowing I could have been a better girl. When I got to the bottom of the box, I also had a pretty doll but this was an experience I've never forgotten.
          Submitted by Rita

One of my fondest memories of Christmas is when I was a young girl living on a farm. One year I got a brand new coat for Christmas. That was really special because I was used to getting mostly hand-me-downs. We always got new pajamas and slippers which we got to wear Christmas night. What I remember most is that whatever we got, was given with much love.
      Submitted by Pat

When my oldest granddaughter was 8 years old, she was being naughty; and I told her if she wasn't good, Santa would not put gifts in her stocking. When Christmas Eve came, she helped my husband wrap gifts and saw what was to be my gift from Santa. On Christmas morning, with a concerned look on her face and a smug smile she was unable to conceal, she asked me if I knew why Santa is mad at me. I said, "Why do you think Santa is mad at me?" She said, "Because I was so excited I couldn't sleep so I came downstairs during the night to check the stockings and everyone had a present but you. I know Papa must have felt sorry for you when he saw you didn't have a present from Santa because I know he put that present in your stocking."
      Submitted by Judy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Help Your Senior Avoid Having a Blue Christmas

Well, it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” according to Mathis, Williams, Sinatra and so many others.  The holiday season is upon us.

For most of us, the holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends sharing memories, laughs, and good cheer.  But for many seniors the holidays can be stressful, confusing, and depressing depending on their mental, physical and emotional needs.  Family members are often very busy with their lives and social obligations that they fail to notice how much their parents or grandparents look forward to spending time with them during the holidays.  Many seniors have outlived friends and family members which can make the holidays painful.  They can get lost in the chaos of happy family gatherings putting them at risk for the ‘Holiday Blues’.

‘Holiday Blues’ are feelings of profound sadness brought on by all the activities of the holiday season.  Seasonal blues can have an impact on all of us particular in the lives of older people.  It can impact your physical health, impair your memory and concentration, and prevent you from enjoying the holidays.

Help your loved one enjoy the holiday season by planning ahead.  If you’re loved one tire easily limit the number and the length of time with activities.  The noise and confusion can lead to exhaustion so designate a ‘quiet room’ where your loved one can take a break or a nap.  Be sure to keep medications at their regular schedule during these frenzy times.

If a holiday get together is held in their home do not rearrange the furniture of a loved one with memory impairment or behavioral problems.  This will cause confusion and anxiety.  If gathering in a place unfamiliar to them remove throw rugs and items that could make it difficult for someone with balance problems or who has difficulty walking.

Seniors whose memories are impaired may have difficulty remembering recent events, but they often are able to share stories and observations from the past. Children enjoy hearing how it was ‘when your parents were your age’.  I suggest using picture albums and watch old Christmas programs on TV to help stimulate memories and encourage older seniors to share their stories and experiences.

Try to avoid making comments that could embarrass your loved one who may be experiencing dementia problems.  They may forget a recent conversation or repeat sentences they have already told you, we need to be careful so we don’t make it worse by saying “Don’t you remember?” or “You already said that!”

A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home, senior supportive apartments, or an assisted living home.  So, with all the hustle and bustle of the season, just remember to be sensitive and loving.  And plan ahead.
Lori Schuler is Marketing and Activity Director for Pioneer Place supportive Apartments
and North Haven Assisted Living Homes