Six tips for a good conversation with your elderly parents

“Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.” ― Charlie Kaufman Providing care for elderly parents – whether it’s your full-time responsibility or you’re simply researching the differences in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and the rest – is an honor. We can anticipate life’s physical changes as medicine, physical therapy or other resources become a part of the daily routine. Emotional changes can be more difficult to predict. When the roles of “caregiver” and “receiver” begin to reverse and blur, life becomes frustrating. After all, your loved one is going through a chapter filled with emotional, social and financial changes, on top of the physical proof of growing older. We hope these tips for communicating with your elderly loved one can ease the transition. But don’t over-parent. Remember when your parent gave you uninvited (but probably legitimate) advice years ago? Remember that. The “parent-child role reversal” can be a difficult change for parents to process. You may know about every doctor and community for senior citizens in Pennsylvania, but that knowledge doesn’t warrant a long rant. Giving advice may be better received from an outside point of view. However, your encouragement and support are certainly needed. Communication is a two-way street, and listening is a vital part of any conversation. Avoid interrupting or speaking simply to fill the quiet. Give plenty of time for your loved one to think through your words and choose their own. Pick your battles. Even the closest family members will stumble into a disagreement at some point. Respect other opinions, and be sure to listen to the thoughts of everyone involved in an issue. Conversations about senior care can cover a staggering amount of topics: mobility limitations, memory problems, housing situations… Prioritize. Are there disagreements that don’t matter in the big picture? What needs must be dealt with in the immediate future? Focus on those crucial needs. Keep it focused. The environment of any conversation lends personality to the words that arise. Don’t compete with noise or distractions, especially about life-changing questions that deserve each person’s full attention. Need to bring up a possibly confrontational issue? Avoid it during her favorite TV show or while kitchen appliances are being used. Face your loved one as you speak, so emotions and words can be better interpreted.  Speak dis-tinct-ly. Keep sentences short. Remain calm. Speak in a gentle tone. Make sure everyone involved in the conversation is on the same page before moving on to the next topic. Not every senior citizen will make it known that he or she couldn’t understand what was just said, so always speak up. Respect the adults. Even if every major decision comes down to your opinion, treat your parent with respect. Though you should always be considerate of the environment, tone and volume of your conversation, be wary of patronizing your parent. They should never be spoken to as though they...

Read More »

Chestnut Ridge Blog: Folks just want to have fun.

We’ve all read too many articles and blog posts to count. So it’s refreshing to find something that offer alternative resources. Specifically, we’re excited about games. Best Alzheimer’s Products is a website that has earned international recognition for its positive impact on people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. John Schmid, a co-developer of the website, writes, “I came across a study in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia. The authors reported that … individuals participating in the study who played Bingo performed significantly better on measures of cognition than participants who did not play. Staff members reported increases in alertness and awareness in the test subjects, and this effect lasted for hours after testing was complete.” Chestnut Ridge is proud to offer a variety of activities designed to enrich the lives of our residents. The art classes, card games and more (including Bingo!) certainly provide opportunities for socialization. After all, developing relationships with other residents through these activities is a wonderful benefit of living in an independent living community. But more importantly, activities and games stimulate the brain. Whether your loved one is miles away or lives with us in our community in Chester, PA, games are a perfect, friendly-for-everyone activity throughout the holiday season. These are just a few suggestions that are beneficial and fun for everyone involved. Qwirkle This game, featuring large wooden tiles with a variety of colors and shapes, is ideal because of the many, many ways it can be enjoyed. Similar to dominoes, the ultimate goal for each player is to get rid of his or her pieces by matching, in this case, the shape or color. The visually stimulating design provides a tactile experience, whether players technically follow every rule or simply use it by themselves to match patterns. The flexibility that this single game is able to provide is brilliant. As someone grows older and advances in the stages of Alzheimer’s, Qwirkle is just one more activity that can provide a consistent sense of enrichment and purpose. Shake Loose A Memory Shake Loose A Memory is one game in a collection of card games that encourage players of all ages and abilities to talk and remember. Questions such as “Do you prefer dill pickles or sweet pickles?” and “Did your father wear glasses, or did he have good eyesight?” prompt stories, even from people in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. Connect In nursing homes and memory care facilities, it can be common to find games meant for children. Even Schmid’s website sells games and activities that were originally intended for a much younger audience, though the company is very careful to avoid anything that looks too juvenile and doesn’t have a beneficial purpose. However, Connect is a matching game developed specifically for adults with memory issues. Not all games are created equally. Find an option...

Read More »

Let’s be honest: Three facts about our independent living community

Giving a parent the best possible care sometimes means letting others lend a hand. However, this certainly does not mean shipping your loved one off to a nursing home, a phrase that probably conjures up dismal mental images. Senior care facilities have evolved over the years, keeping pace with advances in the medical community. From assisted living facilities to Alzheimer’s care units, there are more options than ever before. And your constant involvement in the transition is vital. The Residences at Chestnut Ridge offers a variety of services dedicated to making life easier and safer for each person. We’re the perfect place for seniors who value their independence, but may need occasional assistance with daily living tasks. Maybe you’re researching options for a parent or friend. Or maybe you’re ready to downsize and let go of wearisome home-maintenance issues so you can focus on enjoying life. Either way, we think you’ll love Chestnut Ridge. Here are just three facts about our independent living community. We provide the privacy of home … without the hassles. Community living doesn’t mean losing privacy and independence. We’re committed to providing an environment that feels just like home … except there’s no need to shovel the snow from the driveway ever again. And just like home, guests are always welcome. Security features keep everyone safe and healthy. Moving to an independent living community reduces the concern that may come from living alone. Residents may not need assistance with medical or daily living tasks, but staff is always available, 24 hours a day, to ensure the safety of your loved one. Features are in place to provide immediate assistance should the need ever arise. Residents enjoy an engaging, active social life. Living in a community of other seniors provides numerous opportunities for socializing. Studies have shown that a continued sense of purpose can have a positive effect on seniors’ health and wellbeing. Numerous activities, including cooking classes, games and outings, keep residents busy and fulfilled. Don’t face difficult changes alone. Located less than 20 miles from Philadelphia, Chestnut Ridge empowers senior citizens to choose a life enhanced by independence, security, activities and individualized care. Exploring options for the next chapter doesn’t need to be scary or depressing. With a view like Taylor Memorial Arboretum, sad thoughts simply don’t happen at Chestnut Ridge! Stop by for a visit. And don’t worry. There are plenty of beautiful days...

Read More »

What to expect at the beginning of Alzheimer’s

Each person is affected by Alzheimer’s in a unique way. If you are just stepping into the role of caregiver for a loved one, breathe easy. We’re here to help on your journey. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your most important responsibilities are to provide support and companionship as you plan for the future. There will be frustrating moments. But don’t let those moments make you forget about all of the irreplaceable skills and personality quirks that you’ve always loved about your parent or spouse. Use his or her strengths as encouragement to continue living as independently as possible. Establish a routine, stay involved in the same activities that have always provided enjoyment and provide gentle reminders about appointments and medication. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s presents numerous questions for both the person with the disease and the caregiver. Here are some issues to think about during the early stages. Share the diagnosis. It can be extremely difficult to tell others about a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, being open with friends and family will allow them to be educated and supportive. There may be apprehension about the social stigma of the diagnosis. But you’re not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are dealing with the disease this year. Your friends and family will be able to offer support and encouragement to you as well as your loved one. Prepare for changes. You might not even notice the differences at first. But a person dealing with the early stages will have different needs than he or she did before the diagnosis. It might be as simple as needing reminders about familiar places or people. Support and communication are critical. We’ve compiled some tips to consider when communicating with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As you deal with these changes, it is more important than ever to stay connected with friends and family. Their support is priceless. Plan for the future. Life probably seems more complicated than ever at present. But it’s important to figure out a plan now for issues that will have to be addressed later. As a caregiver, one of the most precious responsibilities you can help with is getting legal, financial and care plans in place. Figuring out these issues ensures that the wishes of your loved one are carried out. Complex issues, such as long-term care, can take plenty of time to figure out. Stay engaged. Staying active and committed to daily life is healthy for both you and the person with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Studies show that a sense of purpose helps the brain deal with the disease. Stay involved with the activities you love. Eat well, exercise and enjoy life. Stay independent. At the moment, there is not a miraculous cure for Alzheimer’s. But there are more resources than ever that let people facing...

Read More »

Chestnut Ridge Team Walks to End Alzheimer’s in Philadelphia

The Residences at Chestnut Ridge, a rehabilitation and living facility for people 50 years of age and older, is participating in the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in Philadelphia on November 8. So far, the team at Chestnut Ridge has raised over $1,000 with an overall fundraising goal of $2,000. Funds raised through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s go to supporting its mission to advance research on the disease. The walk is held annually in more than 600 communities across the country, and is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s. Participants can register their teams online, either through corporations like Chestnut Ridge or with friends, family and neighbors. “About 80% of our residents have been diagnosed with some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Rita Ellis, executive director at Chestnut Ridge. “We provide all possible support for this illness, including treatment, medication management, memory-building activities and psychiatric support. We want to do everything we can to support the Alzheimer’s Association, because that in turn means supporting our residents.” The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to end the disease through the advancement of research, to provide support for those affected and to spread the word about brain health in the hopes that it aids in reducing cases of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the nation’s 6th leading cause of death and currently affects 5.3 million Americans. In 2015 alone, the disease will cost the U.S. an estimated $226 billion in medical care. “Chestnut Ridge is excited to take part in this event,” continued Ellis. “We’re very familiar with the scope of difficulties families face when their loved ones are affected by this disease. The more progress that can be made to find new treatments or even a cure for Alzheimer’s, the better. ” To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association or to donate to the cause, visit www.alz.org. To learn more about the Residences at Chestnut Ridge, call (610) 713-8645 or visit...

Read More »

A long life of purpose

Our team works hard to provide a sense of community at the Residences at Chestnut Ridge. We believe that community provides a sustained sense of purpose and better quality of life. After all, feeling purposeful in life is important. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, told the New York Times. Through a study on the relationship of a purposeful life and Alzheimer’s, Dr. Boyle and her team found that people with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores. An assisted living community can be an excellent option for aging parents. With the help of our resources and expertise, here are four ways to help an elderly parent continue to live a purpose-filled life. 1. Encourage new friendships. Aging can be discouraging because of the loss of close friends and family. Encourage your loved one to seek out friends who enjoy similar hobbies. The Residences at Chestnut Ridge provide many social activities, including art and cooking classes, card and board games, worship services, outings for dining, movie nights and a daily social called “Chat and Chew.” 2. Embrace their talents. Be mindful of what your loved one has always done to maintain an active and meaningful life. Whether it’s music or exercise, hobbies are more important than ever, even if they require some adaptation. In the process, you will discover new layers to your family. In her part-memoir/part cookbook, All Gone, Alex Witchel writes how cooking family recipes provided vital relief as she became increasingly responsible for her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 3. Travel New adventures don’t have to be impossible. Traveling with an elderly parent will present unique challenges, but it is possible – and even enjoyable. It just takes research and patience. You probably won’t be able to climb Everest, but there are plenty of senior-friendly destinations. This may be the time to recreate a favorite childhood vacation, with you in the driver’s seat. Check out Val Grubb’s blog, Travel with Aging Parents, for helpful tips and ideas. 4. Celebrate holidays. A private dining room is available at the Residences at Chestnut Ridge for special family gatherings. Though it may not be possible for your loved one to celebrate every aspect of your traditions, it can still be a season of cheer. Adapt family gatherings to smaller, spread-out visits rather than one overwhelming crowd. Involve them in special events and try to spark memories – whether it’s wrapping gifts or playing board games in the game room. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has put together a list of helpful tips for caregivers in the holiday season. Whatever stage of the journey you are in, we’re here to help. Connecting with a community that provides assistance with daily...

Read More »