When winter weather hits us with cold and icy conditions, it’s no surprise that many of us can feel isolated or lonely. What may be surprising is that social isolation and loneliness can have negative health consequences, especially for older adults.
Recent National Institute for Aging research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, some research suggests that chronic loneliness may shorten life expectancy just as much as smoking.
Do the short days and icy sidewalks get you down at this time of year? Turns out you’re not alone. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is estimated to affect 10 million Americans – and yes, most live in places far from the equator, like New England. For many seniors, especially those who live alone, the winter months can bring on a lesser form of SAD – the winter blues.
For more than a century, Hebrew SeniorLife has provided exceptional care and services to seniors across the Boston area. Today, we’re redefining every aspect of aging for the better. At our health care and senior living communities, learning and discovery never stops in a stimulating and dynamic environment. There is no stopping our residents who remain active and engaged, no matter where they live, and truly continue to be their best self.
Meet four residents who embody our approach to care.
Sometimes the holidays can be a difficult time for parents and relatives, and it can be hard to see our loved ones struggling. If they’re beginning to get lonely or are having trouble living independently, the holidays can become a tough and stressful time – for everyone.
Tara Fleming-Caruso, collaborative care advisor at NewBridge on the Charles, a Hebrew SeniorLife continuing care retirement community, offers some advice on how to make the holiday season enjoyable while still honoring the needs of your aging loved one.
Q: What are some ways we can include our aging parents in holiday celebrations?
Sometimes our aging parents or loved ones need more care and guidance, but it can be challenging to speak to your employer about how to manage increased caregiver needs. How do you balance the needs of your loved one and make sure you are fulfilling your responsibilities at work?
More than one in six people living in the United States working full-time or part-time are helping with the care of an aging parent, family member, relative, or friend, according to a Gallup poll.
It can be hard to know who the right person is to help yourself or your aging parent. One important decision we are all faced with is how to choose the right doctor to help us navigate the changes that come with aging.
Here are six things to keep in mind when making the decision:
It’s important to review the physician’s education and training and ensure that his or her board certifications are still current. You can find this information online or by asking the physician or their office’s receptionist directly.
Personality and Empathy:
Before committing to a physician, schedule a brief 15-minute interview to help determine if his or her disposition and medical philosophy are the right fit.
Joan Kaplowitz, a resident at Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community Orchard Cove, believes in the importance of the written word. Wanting to share her love of words, Joan established a fund at Orchard Cove, the Joan Kaplowitz Fund for the Written Word, to bring in speakers and writing programs for her fellow residents.
“I took writing courses over the years,” she says. “But I didn’t do it seriously. And then when I came to Orchard Cove four years ago, I signed up for a writing workshop.
An interview with Debra Block, NCCAP (National Council for Certification of Activities Professionals), Life Enhancement Coordinator, 6W Berenson, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center
Debra Block recently joined HSL as the Life Enhancement Coordinator on the newly renovated sixth floor west of the Berenson Allen building on Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s (HRC) Roslindale campus. She has introduced an interactive theater and film program for patients at HRC. I sat down with her recently to learn more about her work with patients and the therapeutic value of theater arts.
Every year, around January 1, most of us make a list of New Year’s resolutions. Seems like it’s human nature to be introspective at this time and take a look at what we’d like to improve. At Hebrew SeniorLife, our seniors have many New Year’s resolutions, including many that may be on your list.
Since researchers have not yet determined what causes Alzheimer’s disease, you may be wondering if there is anything we can do to prevent it?
The answer is YES. RUSH University nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, ScD, and colleagues’ research has shown a link between nutrition and the role it may play to prevent or delay the onset of dementia decline. One of the studies showed the benefits of the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) on cognition – it included 960 participants with an average age of 81. The research analyzed food frequency and cognition scores over 10 years. Those on the MIND diet scored being 7.5 years younger cognitively!