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San Francisco, CA – Not-for-profit public benefit corporation Elder Care Alliance has been selected by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging as a recipient of the Promising Practices Award. This award highlights organizations that are moving away from conventional practices by developing and implementing new and innovative approaches in aging well or long-term care and senior living communities. Elder Care Alliance was selected based on their dementia-inclusive communities initiative, Erasing Boundaries, designed to erase boundaries for those living with dementia and their care partners.

“The Promising Practices Award honors Elder Care Alliance for their unique approach to addressing social isolation and reducing bias by bringing everyone together to experience a fun, engaging creative arts or cultural experience,” said Cate O’Brien, assistant vice president, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. “We hope other aging services organizations around the country are inspired to find innovative paths to break down barriers for the people they serve.”

The Erasing Boundaries program began in 2017 after Elder Care Alliance completed three inclusive arts events, called Movie Moments, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. Held in a local vintage movie theater in San Francisco, these inclusive film programs included approximately 90 minutes of well-known film clips. Professional emcees, led by dementia expert and thought-leader Rachel Main of the Alzheimer’s Association, introduced each clip and then followed it with a call-and-response-style group discussion to provide a platform for creative remembrance and sharing of life experiences. Topics introduced by the clips included family, relationships, careers, and military service. Audience members interacted with each other and with the emcee, sharing memories, asking questions of each other, and making emotional connections.

As a professional who works with people living with dementia and their care partners every day, Main explained, “I know the power that creative arts and cultural experiences can have in promoting well-being. As a collaborator with Elder Care Alliance on Movie Moments, I witnessed joy and meaningful connection among people living with dementia, their care partners, friends, neighbors and volunteers.  Dementia-inclusive events erase the walls of shame and stigma by providing respite for family caregivers, increased education and awareness for the surrounding community, and a returned sense of humanity to those living with dementia.”

“We are truly honored to be recognized by Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging for this work and are excited about the program moving forward,” added Rosemary Jordan, vice president of business development for Elder Care Alliance. “We have dedicated more resources to erasing boundaries through our Erasing Boundaries Initiative that seeks to offer dementia-inclusive cultural experiences to individuals and families everywhere. We also offer businesses, trade associations and public sector agencies training and consulting services so that they may become more responsive to the needs of families living with dementia.”

A full, complimentary report on the 2018 Promising Practices Award winners and honorable mentions, Innovation at Work 2018, is available for download at matherlifewaysinstituteonaging.com/promising. Nominations will open in June for the 2019 Promising Practices Awards, with a submission deadline in August.

About Elder Care Alliance
Elder Care Alliance is a California-based nonprofit organization. Operating from both the mind and the heart, the Elder Care Alliance mission is to serve and enrich the holistic wellness of older adults and those who care for them through education, innovation and a network of professionals. Elder Care Alliance communities offer a variety of services, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and independent living.

eldercarealliance.org

erasingboundaries.org

About Mather LifeWays
Based in Evanston, Illinois, Mather LifeWays is a 75+-year-old unique, nondenominational not-for-profit organization that enhances the lives of older adults by creating Ways to Age Well.SM Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging serves as an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living and successful aging service innovations. Known for its vision of changing the way society views aging, Mather LifeWays is committed to transforming practices, perspectives and language surrounding aging, and partnered with LeadingAge in 2015 to change the category name for Life Plan Communities. The landmark Age Well Study is the latest example of its commitment to the industry. To learn more about Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, or Mather LifeWays senior residences and community-based initiatives, find your way to matherlifeways.com.

The post Elder Care Alliance Wins National Award for Innovative ‘Erasing Boundaries’ Program appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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With so many terms, options and styles, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to senior living. When choosing retirement options having a clear and concise understanding is crucial to making the right decision in a home. We’ve clarified common terminology when it comes to senior housing. Use this “Senior Living 101” to guide you in your search.

Types of communities

Different retirement communities offer various levels of care and different types of contracts.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) provide a comprehensive range of services to allow residents remain on campus as their care needs change. CCRCs are a popular option because residents can stay on the same campus they call home as they move through different care settings. Also known as a Life Plan Community, residents have the opportunity to form long-term relationships with staff and other residents, as well as stay in their home if their partner’s care needs change.

There is normally an entrance fee associated with a continuing care contract as well as monthly charges. The initial entrance fee is similar to a down payment and must be paid in full before you enter the community. A repayable entrance fee tends to cost less, but no refund is given after the resident moves out or passes away. Repayable entrance fees usually comes with a larger price tag, but offers a percentage to be repaid after a resident moves out or passes away.

Independent living communities are a popular choice for active, healthy older adults who are able to live on their own but want a community environment. There are usually options for homes, townhouse, condos and apartments. These 55+ communities offer amenities like community areas, fitness centers, a calendar of activities and social opportunities. Note: Independent living is not the best option for aging in place; as your health declines a need for relocation might be inevitable.

Independent living communities usually charge monthly fees similar to an apartment complex, accepting private pay only. Since many communities are less hospitality oriented, only a few basic services may be included like housekeeping, maintenance repairs and transportation. Each community varies in individual costs and services and pricing can be affected by a second-person or community fee.

Assisted living communities provide independence with caring support. Services are available to older adults who need assistance with personal care, coordination of health services, medication management and other daily tasks. Assisted living residents are mobile, active in the community and typically have care plans based on the individual’s level of need.

Assisted living costs vary and are dependent on numerous factors like the type of residence, size of apartment, types of services needed and location of the community. Fees can vary based on the community – some charge a flat rate that covers basic services and then special services are additional. Some have all-inclusive pricing. Some communities use an a la carte approach, so residents only pay for services they need. Most communities accept only private pay, not Medicare, however some residents use Medicaid to help pay for their health care.

Memory care programs are for individuals with moderate or advanced cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Older adults with memory loss can continue to enjoy their lives in specially designed communities that have personalized programming. Having trained professionals provide specialized support is recommended for caregivers trying to care for their loved ones at home.

With the extra services included in memory care, it is standard to expect a premium of around 40 percent over the costs of standard assisted living. Most rates are all-inclusive for basic care but additional required services could cost extra.

Skilled nursing provides rehabilitation and nursing services 24 hours a day by registered nurses and doctors. Skilled nursing is often temporary with the goal of moving residents back to their homes; patients usually go to a skilled nursing facility after being release from the hospital so they can recover from injuries, illnesses or surgeries. Services typically include but are not limited to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Typically Medicare covers skilled nursing care provided in a facility for a limited time if certain conditions are met. Your health care provider may recommend you get services more often than it covers. The national average length of stay in a skilled nursing facility is 28 days.

When choosing a senior living community, it is important to learn as much as possible. We hope this guide is a helpful starting point to make a fully informed decision.


Source: The Villa at San Mateo

The post Senior living 101: Guide to retirement options appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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As we age, our bodies change and older adults have different nutritional needs than when they were children or middle-aged adults. Gone are the days of fast metabolism, indulging in junk food and endless bouts of energy. Age-related changes can affect how your body processes food and your dietary needs, but there is no need to fret. A healthy diet can help ward off potential health problems that are common in older adults.

What’s “normal”?

A slower metabolism, changes in bowel movements, appetite changes due to medications and emotional health side effects are all normal changes that come with aging.  Most women with average activity levels will need about 1,800 calories per day. Men with an average activity level need about 2,300 daily. Fewer calories are needed if you’re sedentary, and more if you are very active.

What should I be eating?

  • Calcium and Vitamin D – It is recommended to have three servings of calcium-rich foods and beverages every day to help maintain bone health. This includes fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, milk and fortified plant beverages.
  • Fiber – Eating fiber-rich foods helps you stay regular. It also lowers the risk for heart disease and prevents Type 2 Diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and peas, along with fruits and vegetables.
  • Potassium – Increasing potassium and reducing sodium can lower your risk for high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and beans are great sources of potassium.
  • Healthy Fats ­– Using healthier fats to replace bad fats (like trans and saturated fats) will boost your nutritional health. For example, cook with olive oil in place of butter and canola oil.
  • H20 –Drinking plenty of water will prevent dehydration and help with age-related health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Stay hydrated!

Nutrition is a key contributor to the well-being and longevity of the elderly. At Elder Care Alliance, our dining staff provides delicious and nutritious dining options and helps residents navigate the steps to a healthier lifestyle. As always, be sure to check with your physician if you are making any dietary changes.


Source: The Villa at San Mateo

The post Top nutrition tips for older adults appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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January – the perfect time to re-evaluate and prioritize goals, figure out what didn’t work in the past and make New Year’s resolutions. If you are an older adult looking to live a healthier lifestyle in 2019, we’ve put together five fitness tips to help you establish realistic and attainable goals for the new year.

  1. Know your health numbers – Before starting any fitness regimen, it’s important to know your health numbers. Blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and body mass index (BMI) all matter. Knowing what the recommended ranges are for each will help you determine your overall health level as well as develop a fitness plan that will work best for you.
  2. Make an appointment – Working with a health care provider is the best way to keep your health numbers at target levels. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician and start your year off right. Most people have no way of knowing when they have high cholesterol or blood pressure without being tested. They can help create a workout plan that is catered to your specific needs and goals.
  3. Do what works best for you – The best thing about exercise is there are endless options and you can choose the form that works best for your body. Walking, swimming, dancing, biking or yoga – whatever it may be, it will keep you fit and help you maintain your independence as you age.
  4. Incorporating simple changes –Try to incorporate small changes into your daily routine, even if it’s just going for a walk. Be sure to start slow, especially if you haven’t been physically active for a while. Don’t worry, you will gradually build your endurance, strength and balance
  5. Flexibility, strength and aerobic. The best exercises for senior health focuses on these three types of exercises. Flexibility exercises focus on stretching and flexing and are helpful for seniors who have range of motion problems in their joints. Strength exercises are important to daily living. Strength training fights the loss of muscle mass and strength. It can also reduce the rate at which your bones become weaker. Aerobic exercises get your heart rate up while strengthening your heart, helping lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and reducing the risk of diabetes.

Find the fun in staying fit; don’t pay too much attention to the weight loss and body appearance aspect of exercise. Physical wellness includes maintaining a healthy diet, sleeping well and remaining active. Find the joy in your boost of energy and the progress of your body getting stronger and healthier. Congratulations on making yourself a priority this new year.


Source: The Villa at San Mateo

The post Five fitness tips for the new year appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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Based on pioneering research conducted in partnership with Elder Care Alliance, the newly released book “Art Therapy With Older Adults: Connected & Empowered” outlines a framework for art therapy with older adults rooted in a belief in the autonomy and self-efficacy of older adults, including those with dementia or other diseases of later life.

The book was written by ECA’s Experiential Researcher-In-Residence, Dr. Erin Partridge as part of her PhD dissertation work at the Mercy Retirement & Care Center in Oakland, CA. This book aligns perfectly with the ECA Research & Inquiry Position Statement: “Research related to older adults, the field of aging, and intergenerational communities needs to evolve.  Ideally, research and inquiry is in cyclical relationship with best practices and innovation: measuring, shaping and redefining how we live and engage in our communities.”

While this is a clinical book, Dr. Partridge explains that it contains many compelling narrative stories assembled from years of work with the population.  This book will have meaning for anyone working with, living with or supporting older adults across a variety of settings.

Order your copy today with Amazon Smile and make a small donation to Mercy Retirement & Care Center, one of our ECA communities. Alternatively, you can order your book from Good Reads or you can ask for the book by name at your local bookseller.

The post For Your Reading List: New Book Explores An Approach to Art Therapy Rooted In Elder Autonomy & Collaboration. appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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Spouses, adult children and other family members frequently take on caregiving duties when times get tough. In too many cases, those loved ones find the experience of providing care to be isolating and difficult.

About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months; about 15.7 million adult family caregivers are caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

When caring for another, it’s so easy to forget about yourself. We’ve put together some tips on how caregivers can manage their stress while keeping their sanity.

Let go of guilt – Many caregivers experience guilt as they wonder if they’re doing all they could for their loved one. Those feelings of perfectionism and the need to provide the best memories ever for family members can weigh heavily on a person. Understand that as much as you may want — and work hard — to provide undivided attention to your loved one, you cannot control everything. To lift that emotional weight off your chest and enjoy the quality time with your loved one, let go of any feelings of guilt.

Find support when needed – Caregivers are selfless individuals who sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their loved ones. To keep yourself sane and healthy, it’s critical to seek help when you need it. Ask friends and family members for a respite. Join a support group in the community. Even if you learn nothing new, it is an opportunity to share with those who are going through the same challenges as you and a reminder that you are not alone.

Practice self care – Breathe in, breathe out. Sometimes caregivers forget to do the simplest of things. Elevated stress levels and lack of rest result in burn out. To continue to provide the best possible care for your loved one, it’s important that you also take care of your own needs. Techniques like visualization, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are simple ways to help relieve stress. Take a bath, plan a spa day – whatever it is, you deserve it.\

Consider a senior living community – A senior living community is just that, a community. Giving up caregiving responsibilities will allow you to be a family member again and not just a caretaker. Your loved ones will make more friends and connections at their highest level of function and have access to high quality care when a crisis does occur. Approach the issue respectfully and communicate that you have your loved one’s best interests at heart. The experts at Elder Care Alliance are available to help you navigate the process and offer recommendations.

Remember, self-care should be your top priority. You can’t always control the circumstances for others, but you do have control of how well you take care of yourself.

The post Tips on managing the stress of caregiving appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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The holidays are over, and what was supposed to be the most joyous time of the year may have actually been a time that represents sadness for many older adults. Memories of family members that have passed away, struggles from an illness or lack of social interaction may start to cause loneliness and isolation.

The need for love, support and attention does not go away as we grow older. A healthy social life is just as important later in life as it is when you are younger. Consistent relationships and social interactions help keep people mentally, physically and emotionally fit.

Research has shown that adults 60 years and older who reported feeling lonely had a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.

Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to socialize and build relationships isn’t there.  What are some ways to stay social as you age?

  • Volunteer – Find an organization you are passionate about and volunteer your time to make a difference. Not only will you meet others that share similar passions but participating in meaningful and productive activities will make a positive impression on your health and the community.
  • Exercise – Joining a gym or trying a new form of exercise is a great way to stay healthy and meet new people who will help hold you accountable. Getting out of the house will help keep you active and improve your mood. Whether it’s a walking club, yoga class, water aerobics or anything in between, local gyms, community centers and health clubs have many senior group fitness classes to offer.
  • Explore – Traveling to new places is exciting, but also difficult for many. Most people are unaware of what attractions their own community has to offer. Take time to visit the museums, theaters, landmarks, parks and beaches that you’ve always passed but never stopped to enjoy. The hidden treasures you find may surprise you. Bring a “travel buddy” to make the experience extra meaningful.
  • Learn – Start a new hobby. Join a class for the thing you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time. Learning new activities can help improve memory, enhance problem solving skills and boost mood. You may pick up a new favorite pastime and a new friend to do it with.

The health benefits of staying connected and engaged as you age are endless. Making a move to a senior living community may seem unnecessary, but a maintenance-free lifestyle with a comprehensive calendar of programs and activities for all preferences, may be just what you’re looking for. Finding a community that embraces holistic wellness, nurturing the body, mind and spirit, is key to healthy aging and quality of life.

The post The importance of socialization in seniors appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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You just shared the holidays with mom and dad and you are concerned – you noticed they are having a difficult time getting around, their apartment is a mess, and while you can’t put your finger on it, they just don’t seem as “with it” as they have in the past.

It may be time to have “the talk” about moving to a senior living community. The decision is highly personal and depends on a number of factors, but it is time to initiate the conversation and approach the issue in a respectful manner.

Starting the process

Starting to talk about a move as early as possible is better than waiting for a serious health event to happen. A proactive discussion when everyone is well, will make it easier in the long run.  Keep in mind these decisions aren’t something you are going to accomplish in one conversation. Find a time and location when everyone is relaxed to open up the first discussion. Remind them this is more about improving their quality of life and peace of mind, than simply a housing option.

Do your homework

Research is key. Do your homework on local senior living communities and see what they’re all about. What level of care does my parent need? What services and amenities are offered? After an initial search, plan an in-person visit. Take a tour, enjoy a meal in their dining room, observe interactions with staff and residents, and note cleanliness of public space and general grounds. From one visit you will be able to see if residents are happy and if it feels like a good fit for mom or dad.

Understand the financial aspect

It’s no surprise that long-term senior options will be a large expense. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help avoid the strain of finances during this transition. Meeting with a financial planner, understanding costs and determining your personal finance options will be key in planning ahead and figuring out how you can best afford the right retirement option. Proactive planning before a health issue forces a decision will alleviate stress when trying to secure financial means.

Anticipate some pushback

It is natural that some loved ones will not welcome the discussion. Everyone should have a role in where they live, so it is important to remain positive and not come across like you are trying to dictate. If you are having a difficult time getting the ball rolling, consider opening up the conversation by inserting yourself. “Mom, I was talking with Lisa and she was asking what John and I wanted to do as we got older and found it more difficult to live by ourselves. Then, I thought that I wasn’t even sure what you and dad wanted so I thought we should at least start talking about it.” At the end of the day, both you and your parent are looking for the best solution to having a safe, independent and social living environment that ensures a great quality of life and overall wellness.

These conversations can seem daunting; however, all experts agree that the sooner you can engage in these discussions, the better it is for both parents and their adult children. The experts at Elder Care Alliance are available to help you navigate the process and make informed decisions about the best possible living environment.

The post Having “the Talk” with Mom & Dad appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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Elder Care Alliance Blog by Renee O'brien - 7M ago

Spouses, adult children and other family members frequently take on caregiving duties when times get tough. In too many cases, those loved ones find the experience of providing care to be isolating and difficult.

About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months; about 15.7 million adult family caregivers are caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

When caring for another, it’s so easy to forget about yourself. We’ve put together some tips on how caregivers can manage their stress while keeping their sanity.

Let go of guilt – Many caregivers experience guilt as they wonder if they’re doing all they could for their loved one. Those feelings of perfectionism and the need to provide the best memories ever for family members can weigh heavily on a person. Understand that as much as you may want — and work hard — to provide undivided attention to your loved one, you cannot control everything. To lift that emotional weight off your chest and enjoy the quality time with your loved one, let go of any feelings of guilt.

Find support when needed – Caregivers are selfless individuals who sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their loved ones. To keep yourself sane and healthy, it’s critical to seek help when you need it. Ask friends and family members for a respite. Join a support group in the community. Even if you learn nothing new, it is an opportunity to share with those who are going through the same challenges as you and a reminder that you are not alone.

Practice self care – Breathe in, breathe out. Sometimes caregivers forget to do the simplest of things. Elevated stress levels and lack of rest result in burn out. To continue to provide the best possible care for your loved one, it’s important that you also take care of your own needs. Techniques like visualization, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are simple ways to help relieve stress. Take a bath, plan a spa day – whatever it is, you deserve it.\

Consider a senior living community – A senior living community is just that, a community. Giving up caregiving responsibilities will allow you to be a family member again and not just a caretaker. Your loved ones will make more friends and connections at their highest level of function and have access to high quality care when a crisis does occur. Approach the issue respectfully and communicate that you have your loved one’s best interests at heart. The experts at Elder Care Alliance are available to help you navigate the process and offer recommendations.

Remember, self-care should be your top priority. You can’t always control the circumstances for others, but you do have control of how well you take care of yourself.

The post Caregiver Self Help appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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As we age, our bodies change and older adults have different nutritional needs than when they were children or middle-aged adults. Gone are the days of fast metabolism, indulging in junk food and endless bouts of energy. Age-related changes can affect how your body processes food and your dietary needs, but there is no need to fret. A healthy diet can help ward off potential health problems that are common in older adults.

What’s “normal”?

A slower metabolism, changes in bowel movements, appetite changes due to medications and emotional health side effects are all normal changes that come with aging.  Most women with average activity levels will need about 1,800 calories per day. Men with an average activity level need about 2,300 daily. Fewer calories are needed if you’re sedentary, and more if you are very active.

What should I be eating?

  • Calcium and Vitamin D – It is recommended to have three servings of calcium-rich foods and beverages every day to help maintain bone health. This includes fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, milk and fortified plant beverages.
  • Fiber – Eating fiber-rich foods helps you stay regular. It also lowers the risk for heart disease and prevents Type 2 Diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and peas, along with fruits and vegetables.
  • Potassium – Increasing potassium and reducing sodium can lower your risk for high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and beans are great sources of potassium.
  • Healthy Fats ­– Using healthier fats to replace bad fats (like trans and saturated fats) will boost your nutritional health. For example, cook with olive oil in place of butter and canola oil.
  • H20 –Drinking plenty of water will prevent dehydration and help with age-related health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Stay hydrated!

Nutrition is a key contributor to the well-being and longevity of the elderly. At Elder Care Alliance, our dining staff provides delicious and nutritious dining options and helps residents navigate the steps to a healthier lifestyle. As always, be sure to check with your physician if you are making any dietary changes.

The post Top Nutrition Tips for Older Adults appeared first on Elder Care Alliance.

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