Camille Forte - Amber Courtal

Beat Blue Monday: Post-Holiday Self-Care and Activities for Seniors

The holiday season, with its joy and cheer, often leaves us in a whirlwind of activities and emotions. As we step into the new year, it’s important for everyone, especially seniors, to focus on self-care and engaging activities to keep spirits high and maintain good health.

The third Monday of every year (and the time around it) is known as “Blue Monday”, a little-known but widely-felt time when spirits slump and depression can hit record highs. Blue Monday hits especially hard for senior citizens, who are already the most vulnerable to the loneliness epidemic. So, it’s important to be prepared and use this list – it’s guaranteed to offer some ideas that can help make this time of year as festive as any other!

1. Reflect, Set Simple Goals, and Make Plans

The new year is a perfect opportunity for reflection. Take some time to think about the past year – the joys, the challenges, and everything in between. Setting simple, achievable goals or plans can be a great way to look forward to the year ahead. These could be related to fitness, hobbies, or even social activities.

2. Stay Physically Active

Senior citizen practicing chair yogaPhysical activity is crucial for maintaining health and a positive mindset. Participate in group exercise classes if available, or simply make a habit of walking around your community.  Gentle exercises like stretching, yoga, or tai chi can be both invigorating and relaxing. Limited on space or have an injury? Chair yoga is a great option!

 

3. Engage in Mind-Stimulating Activities Two senior citizens playing chess

Keep your brain active with puzzles, reading, or games. Many senior living communities offer a variety of activities that stimulate the mind, but anyone, anywhere with a smartphone should have at least one app dedicated to brain exercise – no matter what their age. Any chance to engage in games with friends is a bonus – socializing and brain exercising!

4. Embrace Creativity

Creativity isn’t just for artists – it’s a wonderful way for seniors to express themselves. Activities like painting, crafting, or even writing can be therapeutic. You might consider starting a personal journal or joining an art class. With technology, even a smartphone, the options available are far greater than they used to be! If your options are limited for a local class or group, you’re sure to find the right one online!

5. Socialize and Connect

Senior citizen stays connected socially with technologyThe holidays may be over, but the socializing doesn’t have to stop. Continue to build relationships with like-minded people and those who share your interests. Engage in group activities, attend social events, or simply share a meal with a friend. Even if it’s virtual, connection with others is key to emotional well-being. Seniors are especially susceptible to the loneliness pandemic, and the risks are real. Staying connected is critical.

6. Explore Technology Senior citizen using a tablet to connect with others and find online workshops and groups

Technology can be a window to the world. Whether it’s video calling with family, exploring your favorite hobbies in online groups, or even learning a new language, technology can keep you connected and engaged. Be sure to help your senior open that window by setting up their tech properly!

7. Focus on Nutrition

Post-holiday is a great time to re-focus on nutrition. Keep a perspective of self-love to stay motivated, and know that you will thank yourself sooner than you think! Don’t be afraid to indulge, but enjoy well-balanced meals and stay hydrated! Seniors in assisted living communities often have nutritionists who can help create a diet plan, but the Nutrition and Aging Resource Center online has everything you need, from recipes to inspirations to make your diet more exciting, and even some healthy eating hacks!

8. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation

Practicing mindfulness can greatly enhance your emotional well-being. Simple breathing exercises, meditation, or even listening to calming music can help you stay centered and relaxed. Mindfulness has even been recently revealed as an effective exercise to improve memory!

9. Volunteer or Mentor

If your health permits, consider volunteering or mentoring. Sharing your life experiences and knowledge with others can be incredibly fulfilling and can make a positive impact in someone’s life. Not a writer? Even a smartphone can help you write your story with a text-to-speech app. Those stories and memories are also a priceless gift for your loved ones on any occasion.

10. Plan for the Outdoors

As the weather permits, spend time in nature. If there’s a nearby garden, take a walk, or even participate in gardening. Even small, indoor gardening can be a great start! The change of scenery, even just seeing nature, can do wonders for your mood and health. If you’re at an assisted living community like Amber Court of Elizabeth, the rooftop terrace is always full of inspiration! Step outside and take in a deep breath and the spectacular view!

11. Revisit Old Hobbies or Discover New Ones Seniors in a knitting or crochet class

Now is a great time to revisit hobbies you’ve enjoyed in the past or to discover new ones. Try one of each – something tried and true and something new! Whether it’s knitting, cooking class, or learning a new language, engaging in hobbies can be both fulfilling and fun. Almost everyone has something they used to love to do, but haven’t done in years… that’s a love to rekindle!

12. Attend Workshops and Lectures

Workshops and lectures – continued learning and self-improvement can be fun, fulfilling and even give a new sense of purpose. These can be great opportunities to learn something new and interact with others. If you use the internet, the options are endless for online enrichment and groups of people with similar interests.

13. Regular Health Check-Ups

Post-holiday is a good time to schedule any pending health check-ups. Regular monitoring of your health is key to a happy and healthy life. Want to go a step further? Take this opportunity to begin keeping your health journal – appointments, concerns, questions and, of course, medications. Like nutrition, keep an attitude of self-love to stay motivated, because a simple health journal could help someone save your life if they have to act fast!

14. Stay Positive and Practice Gratitude

Above all, maintaining a positive outlook and practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. Focus on the good, practice gratitude for the small joys, and keep a hopeful perspective.

* Bonus Tip #15

Having trouble knowing where to start, or what you could try that’s new? There’s a great saying… “If you want to know where your heart lies, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” What things do you think of when you get distracted? What are the topics that really catch your attention in your favorite TV shows? There are a lot of good ideas hiding in plain sight!

The truth is that the period after the holidays is a time of opportunity. It’s a chance to focus on yourself, your health, and your happiness. By putting some of these ideas and activities into practice, maintaining social connections, and taking care of your health, you can use this time to ensure a fulfilling, fantastic year ahead!

 

 

A Friendly Guide to Setting Up Digital Devices for Seniors

Setup is a Big First Step…

In a world that’s constantly evolving digitally, seniors are finding new and exciting ways to connect, engage, and enjoy the benefits of technology. Whether it’s staying in touch with loved ones, accessing information, or simply enjoying entertainment, digital devices have become valuable companions. In this reader-friendly guide, we’ll walk through the process of setting up digital devices for seniors, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience in today’s digital world.

Step 1: Choose the Right Device

The first step in this journey is selecting a device that aligns with the user’s preferences and comfort level. Tablets, smartphones, and user-friendly computers are popular choices. Opt for devices with larger screens, clear displays, and simple interfaces. Brands like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon offer devices known for their user-friendly design and functionality.

Step 2: Internet Connection Matters

Once the device is chosen, the next step is to ensure a reliable internet connection. A stable Wi-Fi connection ensures seamless access to online resources, social media, and video calls. If needed, seek assistance to set up and secure a Wi-Fi network at home, guaranteeing a smooth digital experience.

Step 3: Personalize Settings for Comfort

Personalization is key to making the digital experience enjoyable for seniors. Adjust font sizes, screen brightness, and other accessibility features to cater to individual preferences. Most devices have built-in accessibility options that make it easier for seniors with visual or hearing impairments to navigate.

Step 4: Essential Apps and Features

Introduce seniors to essential apps and features that cater to their needs. Messaging apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime help them stay connected with family and friends through video calls. Email apps provide a convenient way to send and receive messages. Weather apps, news apps, and health-tracking apps can be valuable additions based on individual interests.

Elderly woman using a tablet for digital games
Digital games are great for the brain!

Mind games, puzzles and word games are priceless – and they usually cost nothing (with ads) or only a few dollars (for ad-free versions). These simple, low-cost games and apps can turn idle time into brain exercise time! Find out what your senior likes… crossword? Word finds? Spatial puzzles? The device is only as useful as how well it’s customized for the person using it, so make it fun!

Step 5: Social Media Connection

Encourage seniors to explore social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to connect with friends and family. You may want to help them, at first, to connect with only accounts you know can be trusted. These platforms are excellent

Senior citizen using a tablet to find online interest groups
There are endless online forums and groups of people with common interests!

for sharing updates, photos, and staying in the loop with loved ones. Walk them through the process of creating an account, adjusting privacy settings, and navigating their newsfeed.

 

What are the senior’s personal interests? It doesn’t matter – there’s sure to be a group (or several) for it! Whether it’s crochet, fishing, cooking, gardening, personal health, the list goes on… these groups are a wonderful way for seniors to meet like-minded people in a safe environment while enjoying the things they love. In less than 10 minutes, you can connect the user-to-be with a few groups to fill their feeds with interesting content and discussions they’d like to join.

Step 6: Video Calls Made Easy

Senior man using tablet to video chat with family kids
Keeping connected is critical!

Video calls are a fantastic way for seniors to feel close to their loved ones, especially if they’re physically distant. Teach them how to make video calls using apps like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime… whichever app is most used by those they’re most likely to call. Explain the steps for initiating calls, pre-adjust camera settings, and they can start enjoying face-to-face conversations from the comfort of their homes. Make it easy – many of these apps allow you to put “shortcuts” on the home screen, so users can make their most frequent calls with a single tap!

Step 7: Explore Entertainment Options

Elderly man using a tablet for entertainment
Digital devices mean endless favorites at their fingertips!

Digital devices open a world of entertainment for seniors. Introduce them to streaming services like Netflix (click for senior savings) or Amazon Prime for movies and TV shows. Zinnia TV is a fabulous (and affordable) choice for those living with dementia. Music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music provide access to a vast library of songs. Show them how to download and enjoy their favorite entertainment at their leisure.

Step 8: Online Learning Opportunities

For seniors interested in learning new skills or exploring hobbies, online learning platforms offer a plethora of

Senior citizen using a tablet for online learning
Digital devices can open the door to lifelong learning!

opportunities. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, or Khan Academy provide courses on a wide range of subjects. Many websites, including Google, offer courses (even career certificates) at no cost! Help them set up accounts, navigate course content, and embark on a journey of lifelong learning… one of the strongest ways to prevent cognitive decline and depression!

Step 9: Digital Safety and Security

Educate seniors about digital safety and security practices. Emphasize the importance of strong, unique passwords, and teach them to recognize potential online threats. Regularly update the device’s software to ensure it has the latest security features. Try not to use the device for personal business so that you can assure the person using the device that no legitimate company will ever contact them via this device. In other words, make it as low-risk as possible!

Step 10: Ongoing Support and Encouragement

Finally, offer ongoing support and encouragement as seniors explore the digital world. Patience is key, and reassurance goes a long way. Be available to answer questions, troubleshoot issues, and share in their excitement as they discover the endless possibilities that digital devices bring. It may even be helpful to write the steps down on paper for the user to reference as they get used to digital navigation.

Endless rewards!

Setting up digital devices for seniors is a journey filled with exploration, learning, and connection. It can connect them with the world, fill their time with healthy mental activity and even open new chapters in their lives! By following these reader-friendly steps, we can empower seniors to navigate the digital world with confidence, enthusiasm… and safety. In embracing technology, seniors not only enhance their daily lives but also become more active participants in the ever-evolving digital society we live in, reducing the impact of the loneliness epidemic. Here’s to a new chapter of discovery and connected living in the digital realm!

Using Tech to Keep Seniors Connected and Healthy

Connectedness is critical for seniors, and tech can help. This guide can help you set up your loved one for success with the right apps for healthy living!

Combat Cognitive Decline with Apps

Our phones go with us everywhere and connect us with our aging loved ones. Remember, you are an essential catalyst in helping your senior navigate tech that improves his or her daily life, health, and comfort. At Amber Court, we understand the role of personal connection in making tech easy for seniors. Our focus on memory care in our state-of-the-art Alcove community is one example of how our holistic approach is informed by industry experts, but the journey doesn’t stop there.

Integrating tech into your loved ones’ lives is achieved with the encouragement and attention you provide in conjunction with support from our nurturing caregivers. Technology can be critical in improving the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our seniors, and empowering them to use it is the first step. Here are a handful of the best apps for seniors today. Download them and get acquainted with the benefits they offer.

Reading & Reminder Apps

Reading and reminder apps improve the safety and health of the elderly and can go a long way to preserving independence. Seniors who face challenges accomplishing simple daily tasks remind us not to take reading and memory for granted.

Magnifying Glass + Flashlight

magnifying flass flashlight appReading small print is challenging as we age. Magnifying Glass + Flashlight is a simple magnifying app that uses your phone’s camera to zoom in on whatever you point it at. Easily illuminate the text on a menu in a dimly lit restaurant by switching the flashlight on. Reading medication and food labels and forms in a doctor’s office without straining is made possible again with this effective and convenient app.

Medisafe medisafe app logo

Medisafe is a free, user-friendly, and secure medication-tracking app. Receive personalized reminders for taking your meds on time. It’s easy to forget to take your pills, especially during the onset of dementia, but Medisafe is an effective pill-reminder designed to alleviate oversight and ensure you’re following the correct dosage with real-time missed medication alerts connected to your caregivers.

My House of Memories

my house of memories appHistory comes to life with images, sound, music, and descriptions in My House of Memories, an app designed to strengthen and support cognitive function for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Connect with loved ones while you reminisce over objects and memories from the past. An easy-to-use tour of the past is curated for you to enjoy with family and friends and improve your memory. Safely and privately add memories from your own personal experience to share with others in a heartfelt timeline you can access from your smartphone.

LastPass

You don’t have to grow old to forget passwords, but remembering them isn’t a big deal with LastPass. Securely store all your passwords in lastpass app logoone place. Protect your online security from hackers by remembering a single password that gives you access to all the other passwords you have to remember when you store them in LastPass.

 

Brain Games Apps

Mental exercises you can easily perform every day are fun and accessible when strengthening your cognitive ability is a top priority. Prepare your mental faculties with these great brain games for seniors.

Lumosity

lumosity logoLumosity presents a series of memory, attention, problem solving, flexibility, speed, language, and math exercises to keep your brain sharp. Varying levels of complexity accommodate your skills after a brief evaluation. Memory and color-themed matrixes test your ability to remember and recognize shapes, words, patterns, sounds, and more. Improve your spatial recall and increase your mind’s potential with Lumosity.

Peak peak brain training app logo

Play over 45 unique games and coach your brain to its peak performance with Peak. A library of versatile workouts improves focus and mental agility, measures emotions, and encourages a positive mood with games you can play, some in under five minutes when you’re short on time. Track your evolution and receive data-driven feedback as your performance evolves.

Cognifit

cognifit test and brain games logoYour cognitive health is front and center with Cognifit, an app that measures 23 critical skills in categories that include spatial perception, response time, visual perception, planning, updating, shifting, driving, and working memory. Improve your aptitude for concentration, coordination, reasoning, and memory as you integrate these mental workouts into your day.

Elevate

Boost your self-confidence and productivity with math, reading, writing, speaking, and recall exercises from Elevate. Track your elevate brain training games app logoimprovement and receive valuable evaluations of your performance from an app that appeals to all ages and can vastly improve your response time. Students, professionals, and the aging can unlock much potential with this critically acclaimed app.

 

Social & Entertainment Apps

Let’s not overlook common outlets for staying in touch with aging loved ones to prevent isolation, pass time, entertain, and inspire. While most of us rely on these apps as a part of our daily routines, it’s easy to assume elderly loved ones are as familiar with how they work as we are, but that’s not always the case. Taking the time to install them and provide a useful tutorial can greatly improve your seniors’ experience and ability to connect.

Facebook (Meta)

Facebook logoFacebook (now Meta) needs little introduction as one of the world’s largest social media platforms, boasting over 2.89 billion users today. Finding elderly relatives and loved ones on Facebook isn’t hard, but have you engaged them recently? Could they use more nurturing in the digital sphere to stay in touch? Taking the time to outline the features and navigate this household tech with your seniors can make a big difference in their lives, particularly as the apps are updated and the user interface changes over time. Show your aging loved ones how to create their own profiles and how to access yours to shrink the distance between you. Staying in touch with vital connections improves health and can add hours of daily fulfillment to their lives. Facebook groups

Help your elderly loved ones get the most out of their Facebook experience with Facebook Groups! No matter what their passions, from pictures of generations past to the most niche types of pasta from remote Italian villages, there’s a group for it! This helps your loved ones connect faster and more directly with others who share the same interests. Also, staying active in groups can help cut out the mental clutter of the main news feed which, in excess, can have its own risks.

Know how to set the correct privacy settings – even the youngest users aren’t familiar with the customization available with respect to privacy, or the amount of personal information available to others if those settings aren’t properly set to the user’s liking.

 

Netflix Netflix logo

The sheer volume of films available on Netflix is daunting with over 15,000 titles to choose from. While few of us are strangers to binge-watching our favorite films or the latest docuseries, aging retirees have far more time on their hands. Set them up with an account and show them how to find films from their favorite eras.

Spotify

spotify logoBecause music is a natural source of inspiration, give your seniors access to apps like Spotify, so they can enjoy the benefits of programming tailored to their taste the same as we do. With over 381 million active monthly users, the world’s largest music streaming service offers an ideal avenue for encouraging elderly loved ones to embrace technology.

Zoom

Seeing an elderly loved one smile into the camera is a whole different experience than logging onto to a Zoom call for work. This household videoconferencing software is something aging individuals marvel at, and seeing familiar faces adds a wonderful dimension of relevance and belonging to their day. When regularly meeting in person isn’t feasible, a Zoom call can uplift your senior, increase their connectedness, and stimulate engagement with loved ones at a greater frequency.

Keep Medical Information Organized – and Shareable!

October is “Organize Your Medical Information” Month, but it’s something most of us don’t think about until far too late, when we’re notMyChart app logo able to find something important. With an app like MyChart, your smartphone can serve as a bridge between all your healthcare providers and your loved ones! Even across different health networks, you can keep everything from medication to test results in the hands of the people who care for you.

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Seniors of All Ages and Any Budget

It can seem difficult to shop for the senior in your life, especially when you might not know what special issues they live with and what kinds of things they would really appreciate. We all know it’s the thought that counts, but let’s be honest – it feels a lot nicer when you know someone truly loves what you gave them, even if it barely cost a cent.

Let’s start with some inspiration from an expert – Maria Brownworth, VP of Community Outreach and Development at Amber Court Assisted Living Communities was asked, “Off-hand, can you think of a few things that the residents in assisted living love?” Her reply was so insightful:

“Nice towels and comfy clothes. The residents at Amber Court are usually a lot more active than they were before coming to one of our communities, so comfort becomes a lot more important. And pictures, actually… their days are often busy with activities and new friends, so they really like having “homier-decorated” rooms.” And, believe it or not, gift cards for food! We may have some of the best food services in the industry, but everyone loves to indulge in takeout and treats.”

Great advice, Maria! These are great ideas for all seniors! Let’s see if we can do it in style…

Photos

DIY photo gifts
DIY Photo Gifts are Always a Hit!

Whether it’s a collage or a single showpiece, the options here are endless. If you’re on a budget and you’re the creative type, look no further

than these DIY photo gift ideas. From accordion books to planters and more, anyone would love the love that goes into these easy but one-of-a-kind gifts.

Running a little short on time? Let your local pharmacy show you what they offer! The larger pharmacy chains often have in-house photo printing services, but you might be surprised by what photo gifts they offer. How about a photo blanket? There are plenty of sellers on Amazon that will let you upload your own photo(s) to make a soft, cozy blanket that’ll be both useful and treasured.

Looking for simple, fast and elegant? How about reusable photo tiles? You can get them from Shutterfly, Amazon, a lot of companies – but check out Mixtiles to see some options. Reusable/removable photo tiles are great because they stick right up, they look fabulous, and they can be taken down and repositioned without wall damage any time a fresh look is desired.

Clothes

Comfort is key – and there’s a whole world of adaptive clothing that takes comfort to a new level. From tops that don’t require someone to reach for the sky to get it on to underwear that snaps instead of step-in… to many they seem like tiny details, but for someone with limited movement it’s a little lifesaver in the daily routine!

What’s changed is that adaptive clothing no longer “looks adaptive” – the fashion industry has embraced people with disabilities and physical circumstances that limit movement, resulting in a whole new era of stylish, comfortable clothing. Just how stylish? Check out this guide, 17 Best Adaptive Clothing Brands & Online Stores for All Needs, or do a simple search for adaptive clothing on Google, Amazon, etc.… but don’t forget the shoes! If you need somewhere to get your feet wet (yes, pun intended) in the adaptive fashion world, check out Silvert’s – they have everything from formal to fleece, shoes to shirts for every occasion.

Don’t forget safety… do those old, favorite slippers have non-slip bottoms? ‘Tis not the season for home injuries! In fact, check out our blog about home hazards if you’re the handy type and have the know-how to check a senior’s home for potential hazards. There’s no better gift than peace of mind!

Wellness

The best gifts often aren’t the most expensive, but the most functional. For seniors, keeping medical information and documents organized and on-hand is critical. October is Organize Your Medical Information Month, but it’s really something that matters all year, at every age.

USB Flash Drive Necklace
USB Flash-Drive Jewelry

You can get started organizing in 5 easy steps, but once you’re done, store it in style with easily-accessible, stylish USB accessories like a bracelet, necklace or even cufflinks! In the event of an emergency, that pretty necklace or seemingly-simply bracelet could provide the fast, easy access to medical information needed to save a life. Just make sure the jewelry or accessory is a USB drive for storage, not just a wearable charging cable (although those can be handy, too!).

Self-care is critical, even for assisted living residents who are surrounded by friends and activities. That said, self-care is specific to every person; some may appreciate a good sleep mask that helps with insomnia. Some might like spa items for pampering, while for others, a self-care gift might be an electric shaver so that razors aren’t a daily inconvenience or danger. A cozy robe is always worthy of mention, but that could have gone into the clothing section.

Don’t forget those gift cards for takeout! Indulging is self-care!!! And with services like DoorDash and UberEATS, there have never been more options.

Pill Bottle Stickers
Pill Bottle Stickers

Little things like pill reminder stickers can be a lifesaver – literally. They’re inexpensive and come in scratch-off (like lottery tickets), reusable flip-button and more. Other wellness gifts can be digital, like a favorite game that keeps the mind sharp, or even an app like Calm for the gift of relaxation and mental decompression.

Intangible gifts

The best gifts have no price tag and can’t be exchanged, returned or even thrown out – your time! Are you tech savvy? Help the senior in your life set up their mobile device, tablet or other tech to be safe and customized for them! Check out our blog about Using Tech to Keep Seniors Connected and Healthy… with your help and the gift of your time, their mobile device can open a world of healthy habits and fresh, new friendships!

Are you handy around the house? Lend a hand and look around! Check out our blog about avoiding injuries at home and give your loved one the precious gift of a safety assessment. The blog explains, step-by-step, what to look out for and some of the most common culprits of home mishaps. What a budget-friendly gift that’s practical and priceless all year! If you find any problems, like a space heater that’s far too old to be safe, replacing it with a safer, more efficient one makes a great gift, too!

Gifts for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia and/or memory care issues:

If your loved one has cognitive care concerns, there are a few gift ideas that may be especially useful to you if you’re not familiar with these specific needs…

Digital Photo Frame
Digital Photo Frame
  • Digital frame – load a digital frame with your loved one’s favorite pictures from a time in their life they treasure most. One frame, countless hours of happy memories over and over! Some let you upload new photos remotely, so you can continue surprising your loved one with new photos!
  • Digital assistant or TV with digital assistant built-in – a digital assistant, like Google Home or Amazon Echo, can be a great way to help your senior loved one, especially with daily reminders for medication, phone calls, social activities and much, much more. Again, check out our blog about tech for seniors and you’ll be on your way to a gifting that improves quality of life all year!
  • Over-ear headphones – earbuds can interfere with hearing aids, but over-ear headphones are great for private entertainment… especially if they plug in, as your loved one may have trouble with Bluetooth pairing. Sometimes memory care patients can be upset by overstimulation, like noisy crowds, and headphones can help then, too.
  • Create a playlist of their favorite music – it may cost nothing (or close to it), but it means everything. As we see all the time in the Alcove, memory care patients are moved by music! Whether you put the playlist on a device they already have or on an old, inexpensive mp3 player, this gift idea is sure to be a winner. It also shows that you care enough about your loved one to find out which music is meaningful to them!

You can get the perfect gift for your senior loved one on any budget and in only a few minutes if you know what to look for! If it’s too late to ship specific items, a gift card is actually a great idea as it also gives the gift of independence – something that most seniors cherish.

 

 

Is Your House Putting You at Risk? Avoiding Injuries at Home

Home is the place where everyone usually feels safest, especially seniors. But did you know that while the outside world can pose many dangers, your home can also be filled with hidden hazards? Each year, around 3 million elderly people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries received from falling, many of which occur in the home. In fact, there are a surprising number of common, in-home risks that could cause injury. Here’s how you can keep safe, avoid accidents, and enjoy your home, wherever you live.

Invest in a Health Alert System

When you’re spending time alone, it’s common to worry about what would happen if you had to face an emergency. Technology can help your life in many ways and can be a great way to make your home safer. Installing a PERS (personal emergency response service) is a great way to help ensure your safety when alone. A PERS may also be called a life alert system, medical alert system, or telemonitoring. Some systems are installed with your landline and supply you with buttons to place around your home, allowing you to call for help instantly.

There are also devices you can wear in your pocket or around your neck, so you can have a connection in any area of your home. In terms of pricing, most products use a subscription model, so be sure to invest wisely and account for the increase to your monthly budget. However, having a home alert system is worth the price since it’ll keep you safe in an emergency.

Conduct a Home Safety Check

Taking some time to check your home for potential hazards can be a great step to take before making any upgrades. If this is something you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself, enlisting the help of a loved one is a great option. Going room by room, take the time to check for safety hazards such as:

  • Obstructive furniture
  • Faulty steps or uneven flooring
  • Poorly lit areas or inaccessible lighting
  • Loose carpeting and rugs
  • Clutter and debris
  • Faulty electrical cords and wiring
  • Missing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms
  • Broken or hazardous knobs on appliances
  • Loose items in storage areas
  • Important items that are out of reach
  • Dangerous kitchen appliances without automatic shutoff features
  • Lack of fire extinguishers and safety equipment

 

radiator space heater
Even the most common items we take for granted can become hazards as we age

This is not an exhaustive list, but it can help point you in the right direction when trying to assess what risky points might lie throughout your home. Consider these hazards when deciding on upgrades. For example, a walk-in bathtub can reduce the risk of a bathroom fall. Replacing your old lights with bright, long-lasting LED lights can improve visibility throughout your entire home. Automatic or voice-controlled lighting can make it much easier for you to access lighting when you need it. Remedying these problems and installing safety upgrades can save you not only time and money, but also your health.

Consider Downsizing Your Home

Having extra space filled with clutter, multiple levels, and unnecessary (or oversized) appliances can become burdensome for seniors living alone. Falls are the number one cause of injuries to seniors, and stairs are a major falling hazard. Downsizing your home to a smaller, more usable space can help you maintain your independence and worry less about getting hurt. If your home isn’t already paid off, and you’re interested in buying a smaller one, securing pre-approval for a mortgage can help to assess the budget for this transition and give you a better understanding of your finances before making such a large investment. You may also want to consider selling your house and renting, and then living off the money earned from selling your home.

If safety is a top priority, you may seek extra assistance. Choosing an assisted living community can help make sure you are safe and cared for during all hours of the day. It can be hard to accept that you need a little extra support but embracing the opportunity to have your safety cared for may give you much more freedom than you think. Amber Court Assisted Living provides options for seniors who require more assistance without compromising independence. You may also find that your social circle widens as you make new friends and have space to talk and socialize with others. This is because senior living communities also offer the benefit of reducing feelings of isolation, giving you a network of friends to share new experiences with. Changing your living situation to support your needs helps you enjoy your free time safely and comfortably.

When Forgetting Becomes a Problem

kettles burning on the stove
It only takes one instance of forgetting to turn something off to cause a catastrophe

Many people begin having symptoms of memory loss as they age, and this is an especially important risk to consider when it comes to home safety. Our blog about Tech for Seniors has great tips about apps that can help any senior remember important daily routines (medications, etc.) but forgetting to turn off the stove could be disastrous. Small, inexpensive digital timers placed near anything that needs to be turned off can be a lifesaver. Get into the habit of turning on the timer any time you turn on a cooking appliance or a space

space heater
Space heaters are a common way to cut electricity costs, but they can be dangerous. Use a digital timer to remember to turn it off!

heater, light candles, etc., especially with the colder months approaching. For seniors with more advanced memory issues, the Alcove is a state-of-the-art memory care community with everyday socialization and stimulation. With daily activities and even live entertainment regularly, the Alcove is a great place for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive care needs.

The last thing you want to worry about is a costly, painful accident in your home. Taking safety measures is a great investment of your time and money, whether you’re living at home or considering assisted living. Prioritizing your safety is one thing you’ll never regret.

Financial Wellness Tips for Seniors

Getting older is a large transition physically, emotionally, and financially. As your needs change, so do your financial circumstances as you retire and pursue other opportunities. With over 15 million older adults aged 65+ being economically insecure, educating yourself on effective financial wellness practices is vital for living your golden years successfully. In fact, experiencing financial stress as you age can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. According to Verywell Mind, it can lead to anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, stomachaches, and headaches.

While everyone’s financial situation is different, there are steps you can take to become more secure. Here are some financial wellness tips to consider as you age.

Plan Ahead

Retiring is a wonderful milestone to achieve in life. There’s a lot to look forward to, but it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you can afford the lifestyle you envision for yourself. Before you start celebrating, determine your goals during retirement and create a plan to achieve them. If you have a partner, discuss your thoughts and aspirations openly – you might have different ideas of how you’d like to spend retirement.

Whether you want to travel, maintain independence, spend more time with family, buy a second home, or retire in a different location, these activities all involve money. Once you know your goals, determine if they’re feasible with your current financial situation and do research on the requirements needed to achieve them. For instance, if you want to buy a retirement home, knowing how much mortgage you can afford can help you narrow down your options and ensure you aren’t overspending. Considering the cost and financial implications of your goals as you age can help you live within your means.

Create a Spending Plan

As you age and eventually retire, your income will decrease when you stop working. Since most seniors depend solely on their retirement savings and Social Security benefits during this time, it’s important to create an organized spending plan to live on. As you get older, reevaluate your financial situation to ensure you’re prepared for the drop in income.

Once you know how much you have in savings, create a budget to live on during retirement. Compare your monthly income to your living expenses and account for any goals you want to save up for. If you can, try to eliminate any unnecessary expenses and spending like unused subscriptions or regular dining out to save some extra cash. With your change in lifestyle, you may be able to save on car insurance rates since you won’t be driving to work, and you can also  take advantage of senior discounts and deals. Having an organized budget will help you organize your spending so your savings will last you throughout retirement.

Pay Off Debt

Having debt at any point in your life can be stressful, but this can become a major burden as you get older and have less income. Whether it’s credit card debt, a car loan, mortgage, or other forms of borrowed money, these can prevent you from achieving your retirement goals or even retiring at all. To ensure your finances are healthy as you age, create a plan to pay off any outstanding debt.

Small steps like cutting back on expenses and dedicating that money toward debt repayment can be helpful, but you can also get a part-time job or sell homemade goods for some extra income. Try to tackle high-interest debt first to save money on interest payments, and work your way down. By paying more than the minimum amount and more than once a month, you can save money long-term and get your debt paid off faster. If you have several loans, you can also consolidate your debt into a single payment to secure a lower interest rate.

Protect Yourself from Scams

Seniors are common targets for financial scams. In fact, older Americans lost almost $1 billion in scams in 2020. As you get older, it’s important to protect your finances so you don’t become a victim of elder fraud. Consider these tips to secure your money:

  • Put alerts on your bank accounts for suspicious activity or large withdrawals.
  • Put your name and number on do not call lists.
  • Do not provide your personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account information, PIN, or password to unsolicited calls or requests.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you think you’ve experienced a scam, report it to the proper authorities.

Consider Assisted Living

As your body and needs change when growing older, you may want additional assistance. Assisted living can help seniors age in a safe and comfortable environment. The cost of assisted living can vary, and some services may be covered by certain Medicare coverage.

Amber Court Assisted Living and HarborView Home (an Amber Court Community) offer both luxurious yet affordable accommodations that can cater to different budgets. We allow seniors to continue living in their residences if their assets are depleted, which provides them the safety and comfort of aging in place. Our mission is to preserve dignity, promote well-being, and provide quality care where each person is treated with kindness, compassion, and respect.

Contact Amber Court Assisted Living Communities today for an individualized discussion about how to manage your assisted living costs in our lovingly managed assisted living community.

Social Isolation in Seniors – the Real Risks

Social disconnection doesn’t just affect seniors’ mental health and quality of life, but their physical health too.

Social isolation and loneliness in the elderly is an increasing problem in the United States, but too often it’s one we don’t want to think about. The older adult population is growing. With that comes the risk that some seniors may lose the social connections that they need to thrive.

The Health Impact of Social Isolation on the Elderly

It can be difficult to measure loneliness and social disconnection precisely. The experience varies dramatically from person to person. There is strong evidence though that social isolation in the elderly is a problem that puts their physical health at risk:

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine noted that recent studies have  found that:

  • Lack of relationships was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social relationships were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4x increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

The Risks of Loneliness

Aging and retiring from work are a major life transition. They can pose significant challenges to the health and well-being of older adults.

Large-scale studies have shown that around 25% of retirees in the US experience a significant decline in their health and well-being during this period. For every social group that participants reported losing in the years following retirement, they reported a 10% lower quality of life 6 years later.

While a decline in health is not universal and many factors are at play, overall there is evidence that social isolation in the elderly plays an important part in their health. Social relationships are a significant predictor of longevity. Social connections have shown to be even stronger influences than other health behaviors such as:

  • physical exercise,
  • smoking or
  • alcohol consumption.

Overall, socially engaged seniors report reduced depression and better cognitive health.

Special Populations Are At Higher Risk

Certain populations of older adults are at even higher risk for loneliness and social detachment. These include immigrants, LGBT populations, and minorities.

There has been less research done in these groups but the research that does exist shows that these populations experience loneliness and its impacts more often than other groups.

First-generation immigrants may experience stressors that increase their isolation. These include:

  • Language barriers
  • Differences in community
  • Family dynamics
  • Newer relationships that lack history

What Causes Social Isolation in the Elderly?

Social connection is a term used to describe the structure, function, and quality of human relationships and interactions.

Social isolation in the elderly and others occurs when there is a lack of or limited extent of social contact with others.  Loneliness is the subjective feeling of being lonely or negatively perceiving your lack of social connections.

Not all people who are socially isolated are lonely. Some people may naturally spend more time by themselves and are not bothered by it. Additionally, it is possible to have many social connections but still feel lonely if those connections don’t meet the person’s needs.

What’s most important is that older adults feel socially supported. Social support refers to a person’s ability to get their needs met by others in their social network. The amount of social support needed is unique to each individual.

Social Isolation Symptoms To Watch For

The signs and symptoms of social isolation in the elderly can vary from person to person. If you find yourself or your loved one consistently feeling any of the following, you might be suffering from a lack of connection or loneliness.

●      Feeling Unable to Connect with Others

  • You may have friends or family around but struggle to feel connected on a deeper level. You may have casual friends or acquaintances but don’t feel like you have a “best friend” or someone who “gets you.

●      Feeling Isolated Even Around Others

  • Even if you have friends and family around, you still feel isolated or separate. You feel like you are in your own bubble even when you are out in public spaces.

●      Doubting Your Self-worth

  • If you are feeling like you try to connect with others but it isn’t reciprocated, you may start to doubt yourself. Feeling less than or doubting your worth regularly can be a symptom of chronic loneliness.

●      Feeling Exhausted When You Try to Engage

  • When you are dealing with chronic loneliness, trying to engage socially can leave you feeling burnt out or exhausted even though you may think socializing was what you wanted.

How To Keep Seniors Connected

Social isolation in the elderly is not an inevitable fact of life. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever for seniors to stay connected to friends and family. Here are some ways that seniors can stay socially active as they age:

help seniors connect with others
Help seniors use tech to connect with others
  1. Seniors can seek out groups with similar interests. Whether it be a class for something they have wanted to learn, a volunteer group, or a faith-based group, group activities can be a lower-pressure way to meet new friends.
  2. An assisted living community can allow seniors to maintain their independence while still having easy access to friends and social activities.
  3. Technology is becoming more user-friendly every year. Seniors may find it easier than ever to utilize social media, video conferencing, or other communication technologies to keep in contact.
  4. If you do feel like isolation is causing depression, reach out for help and come up with a plan to manage and increase your connection.

Assisted Living Can Help

Isolation and loneliness can take a toll on older adults. Assisted living can help seniors stave off social disconnection by providing a supportive environment to age in place.

Some of the features at Amber Court Assisted Living that can help promote a sense of social connection and combat social isolation in older adults include:

  • Restaurant-style dining
  • Spacious recreation areas (indoor and outdoor)
  • Relaxation and social lounges
  • On-site hair, barber and (at some locations) even nail salons
  • Easy access to local transportation (at some locations)
  • Scheduled group activities every day
  • Regular, on-site visits by gerontologists and other specialists such as cardiologists, gerontologists and more

Reach out to Amber Court Assisted Living today and find out how we can help your family to prevent social isolation in someone you love.

Maintaining Both Safety and Independence

The little tasks we take for granted as part of day-to-day living are the things that can actually become safety concerns for senior citizens. At any age, our independence is something we hold dear – but even more so as we get older. At the same time, the smallest tasks can become risks. We often think aging in place at the same home one has been living in for years or even decades equals independence, but our own stairs and stoves are just two of many things that can get dangerous when it comes to senior living. Seniors often think that it’s one or the other – independence vs. safety. That may have been true decades ago, but now it’s very possible to age in place and keep one’s independence, stay safe and truly enjoy being a senior.

What kind of risks can aging in place at one’s family home, long after the nest is empty, could there be?

Common Risks to Senior Living at Home

Falls

The most common safety issue for seniors is falling. Falls are the most common cause of head injuries among older adults. Falls also cause more than 95 percent of hip fractures among seniors. Seniors are often unable to live independently after being injured in a fall.

Cooking Safety

Cooking is one of the leading causes of fire at home. There is a 2.5x risk of being injured in a kitchen fire for seniors than the general population according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Physical impairments, medication side effects, memory impairments, and lack of someone around to help all increase the risk of a fire occurring while cooking.

Medical Emergencies

Older adults experience similar health problems as younger adults. However, these problems may present differently or be brushed off as normal aging. In senior patients, minor illnesses can lead to deterioration resulting in immobility, confusion, or falls.  For older adults with less social support, this can result in not having someone available to recognize and call for help in an emergency.

Social Isolation

While not the most obvious, social isolation is also a senior safety issue.  Studies have shown that about 25% of retirees in the US experience a significant drop in health and well-being after retirement. Increasingly, medical literature points to the fact that social factors have a profound impact on older adult’s health. Social relationships with others are a significant predictor of their longevity… even more so than other behaviors such as physical exercise, smoking, or consuming alcohol!

Assisted Living Helps Seniors Live Safely

Assisted living allows seniors to maintain their independence while still receiving any personal care assistance they might need. Additionally, seniors can “age in place”. This means that care can be customized as needs change without having to move.

Senior Living with Independence and Wellbeing
Every day is a day with friends

Physical Spaces

Assisted living communities are specifically designed with senior safety in mind. It is specifically constructed to promote accessibility and mobility for older adults. This can include features such as ramps, hand railings, raised toilets, specially designed walk-in showers, and grab bars in bathrooms. They can also have amenities, services and activities that improve their quality of life!

Having Help Right There, Always

Many assisted living communities feature emergency call buttons. Staff is notified in case of falls or medical concerns. This means seniors don’t have to worry about struggling to contact help or waiting to be found after a medical event at home.

Financial Freedom

Finances are often a real concern in retirement. Some assisted living communities offer Medicaid solutions that ensure a resident can continue aging in place, even if their financial situation changes. That’s an enormous burden lifted for any senior!

Household Safety & Maintenance

Older adults living alone are responsible for maintaining their own homes, which can be much harder than it used to be. Most important are smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and keeping fire extinguishers current. Other household concerns like water heaters, plumbing and even basic handiwork can be insurmountable setbacks for the senior living alone.

Some assisted living communities work with Medicaid, which allows residents to age in place, even if their financial situation changes.

On-Site Medical Care at Amber Court
On-site care at Amber Court

The Best of Both Worlds at Amber Court Assisted Living

At Amber Court, assisted living residents enjoy private or semi-private rooms. This allows for independence while also having access to amenities that help them remain safe and socially connected.

These include services that promote senior safety such as:

  • A front desk concierge
  • Restaurant-style dining rooms
  • On-site nursing services
  • Regular visits by General Practitioners, Gerontologists and other specialists
  • Personal care assistance as needed
  • Someone always available to help

You can also prevent social isolation and maintain connections with amenities such as:

  • Easy access to local transportation
  • On-site hair and barber services
  • Social lounges and recreation areas
  • Outdoor social areas
  • Medicaid options
On-Site Hair Salons at Amber Court
On-site hair salons at Amber Court

Concerns About Senior Safety During the Pandemic

Many seniors are justifiably concerned about living in senior housing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Assisted living facilities aren’t set up the same as nursing homes. This is an important difference.

In nursing homes, there are often multiple residents living in a room. Staff is in and out all day providing care. In assisted living, residents can enjoy private or semi-private accommodations with only the help from staff that they need.

Along with more spacious living accommodations, assisted living facilities such as Amber Court have several recreational spaces. These allow for safe, socially distant activities for those who want them.

Amber Court Assisted Living Facilities follow all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and protocols. They also follow all state Department of Health regulations for protective equipment, infection control, and visitations.

For many seniors, assisted living offers the best quality of life the retired years can offer – both the independence of aging in place with the safety, services and socialization needed to stay as healthy and happy as possible.

Considering Assisted Living?

Assisted living can be an easy and effective way to maintain independence and safety as you age. The services provided in assisted living can help you avoid common senior safety issues associated with falls, cooking, medical emergencies, and social isolation.

At Amber Court, we believe everyone deserves to age in a comfortable, safe, and cheerful environment. Our mission is to preserve dignity, promote well-being, and provide quality care. We emphasize individuality and enjoyment in a warm, nurturing environment.

Considering an assisted living community in the New York or New Jersey area? Contact Amber Court Assisted Living today to talk to us about how we can help with both senior safety and independence.