Assisted Living Monthly: Vitamins and Brain Health

Living a healthy life with a well-balanced and nutritious diet has been proven to help us as we age. Lately, some studies have shown that vitamin supplements can play a part in supporting our brain health as we age. As many of the residents of Ashford Assisted Living struggle with their memory to a certain extent, we felt that the link between vitamins and memory was important to highlight.

Link Between Vitamins And Brain Health

An overview of many studies concerning vitamins and the brain health of seniors has brought several insights to our attention.

  • Senior multivitamins – There is a large market for senior multivitamins. Since medical science cannot yet treat and cure the different types of dementia, many people choose homeopathic remedies like vitamin supplements. However, many senior vitamins have fillers and may not have the right blend of vitamins your elderly loved one needs for their personal upkeep.
  • Women and vitamins – As women’s physiology differs from men’s, they need different amounts of vitamins. A related study found that many older women can have higher mortality rates if they over-consume vitamins like iron, copper, B6, magnesium, multivitamins, folic acid, and zinc.
  • Supplements vs food – All the studies seem to state that if your elderly loved one is receiving a varied and nutritious diet, they should not need many vitamin supplements. However, unless you live with your loved one or they live at a top-notch assisted living facility, it cannot be guaranteed that their diet is nutritious enough to be receiving all the vitamins they need from food alone.

Which Vitamins Are Especially Good For Seniors

While having an overall healthy diet is the goal, there are some vitamins which are especially helpful as people age. Below are some of the top vitamins, their recommended dietary intake levels, and what foods you can find them in.

Calcium – Osteoporosis is a large concern as we age, as brittle and weak bones can leave individuals vulnerable to dangerous breaks. Men are recommended to take in 1,000 mg daily while women are recommended to intake 1,200 mg. Some foods you can find high in calcium are:

  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Fruit (figs, oranges)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, green beans, sweet potato)
  • Legumes (white beans, edamame, black-eyed peas)

Vitamin D – Consuming vitamin D is important for several reasons. It helps you absorb calcium, reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Men and women are recommended to intake 120 mg daily. Some foods you can find high in vitamin D are:

  • Meat (beef liver, salmon, tuna)
  • Vegetables (collards, spinach, kale)
  • Legumes (soybeans, white beans)

B12 – As we age, it becomes harder to absorb B12 and a deficiency in B12 has been linked to memory problems. Anemia is also a potential danger if there is a B12 deficiency. Luckily, B12 daily recommended doses are small, measuring in micrograms (mcg). Men and women should take in 2.4 mcg (0.0024 mg) of B12 daily. It makes it easier to eat the right foods to receive this amount, which foods are:

  • Fish (trout, tuna, salmon)
  • Other meats (chicken breast, ham, beef)
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)

Omega-3 – Making sure your elderly loved one receives enough omega-3 can allow them to benefit from reduced heart disease, weight management, and retinal functionality. Men are recommended to take in 1.6 g daily while women are recommended to intake 1.1 g daily. Many of the foods which are rich in B12 are also rich in omega-3, such as:

  • Fish (salmon, trout, sardines)
  • Legumes (kidney beans, baked beans, refried beans)
  • Seeds (walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds)

Here at Ashford Assisted Living, we take your loved one’s nutrition seriously. We provide 3 in-house made meals as well as nutritious snacks along with our other services. Contact us today and help your aging relative live in health and comfort throughout their golden years.

​What is the difference between assisted living and a skilled nursing facility?

When you are looking at options for your loved one or yourself and it becomes clear that more help is needed than just the occasionally visitor can provide, finding the right alternative to independent living can be overwhelming.

One of the most common question seniors have is what the difference is between assisted living and a skilled nursing facility. Will they need one over the other?

Skilled Nursing Facilities

A senior may be placed in a skilled nursing facility if they have experienced medical trauma. For example, if they fall and require rehabilitation, or if they go through a major surgery that has a longer recovery time than a couple of days.

These facilities are crucial, as they allow the patient to be moved from a hospital. While hospitals are great for treating conditions in the short term, or for immediate intervention, they have a high infection rate. So moving the patient as soon as possible to either their home or one of the rehab centers is ideal.

The average stay for a patient at one of these facilities is a week to a couple of months. Once the patient has healed enough to continue recovery at home, they are discharged.

Assisted Living Facilities

An assisted living facility is a permanent residence that allows the person in question to live semi-independently. They have their own apartment and the ability to come and go as they choose. However, there is medical and assistance staff on hand 24/7.

These professionals can assist with everyday tasks that have become difficult for the resident. That may include bathing, cleaning, cooking, feed, dressing and general motor issues. They also help monitor medication schedules when needed and are on hand if there is an emergency, such as a fall or a potentially fatal event like a heart attack or stroke.

Many families choose assisted living facilities over nursing homes for their loved ones because of the balance between care and independence it offers the residents. While their loved one can move about freely and be within their own space, there is less risk of accidents or injury occurring. It provides peace of mind for everyone involved.

Moving From Skilled Nursing to Assisted Living

In many cases, a patient will be referred to assisted living after being within a skilled nursing facility. In that case, there are case workers within the rehab center that can be help find a location, petition social security or insurance and help with the finer details of the move.

Find out more at Ashford Utah.

Why Does Dementia Happen? Answers to Your Memory Loss Questions

When dealing with memory loss, whether your own or the memory loss of a loved one, many questions come rushing to the surface. The most prominent question our staff at Ashford Assisted Living & Memory Care are asked is: “Why does dementia happen?”.

What Is Dementia

The term dementia is something of a catch-all term for a range of memory loss-related symptoms. While all these issues are caused by damage to the brain’s cells, it can be in different areas, which cause different symptoms. The different memory loss conditions have symptoms in common, which are:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory loss
  • Communication issues
  • Declined focus
  • Language loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Vision impairment

This causes people to call all memory loss problems dementia or use it interchangeably with other diagnoses. In actuality, memory loss cases tend to be:

  • Between 70-80% of memory loss cases are Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Occurring post-stroke, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of memory problems.

There are a variety of other, more rare cases of memory loss diseases. Be sure to work closely with a doctor as some memory loss symptoms can be reversed.

Triggers For Dementia

When it comes to what triggers dementia, the exact reasons are unknown. However, there are a variety of risk factors, some of which you can manage and some which are unavoidable.

The triggers for dementia you cannot control are:

  • Medical history – If you have a family member who has had dementia, this puts you at a higher risk of developing dementia down the road.
  • Prior cognitive issues – If you already deal with cognitive problems relating to memory, such as autism, you have a higher risk of developing dementia. People with serious cognitive impairment, such as Down syndrome, also have a high risk of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Aging – While it is not a given that people develops dementia as they age, it does increase the risk.

In the face of the things you cannot change when it comes possible dementia triggers, there is much more that is in your control.

  • Depression – Untreated depression can cause memory loss symptoms as it depresses your brain functions.
  • Smoking – Increasing your risk of blood clots, you are more likely to suffer from a stroke which can induce vascular dementia.
  • Alcohol usage – Frequent heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of developing dementia, as it can damage the brain.
  • Diabetes – Poorly monitored insulin levels can trigger dementia.
  • Cardiovascular – There are a variety of cardiovascular triggers such as hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (large build of fat in your arteries), high cholesterol, and obesity. These are all risk factors for strokes, which can induce vascular dementia.
  • Sleep apnea – Those suffering from sleep apnea often stop breathing in their sleep, which can kill brain cells.

Managing A Loved One’s Dementia

It can be exhausting to take care of a loved one who is suffering from dementia. Many families struggle with caregiver burnout, as there is usually not enough people available to care for the family member struggling with dementia.

A safe and loving option is to transition your loved one into a special memory care unit. With trained nurses and staff, your loved one will receive round-the-clock care for all their needs so you can feel at peace knowing your family member is safe.

Finding The Best Assisted Living Location For Your Widowed Parent

When your parent loses their spouse, it is not always possible for them to continue to live in their home. Yet, there are many reasons why it may not be possible to bring that widowed parent into your own home. When you are unable to bring your parent into your home, then you will need to find an appropriate assisted living facility.

There are many factors to consider when looking for the right assisted living community for your widowed parent. From location to the right training, we will cover the things you should prioritize as you search for the best place for your parent.

Assisted Living Chosen With Proximity Considerations

When considering the location of a potential assisted living facility, there are several factors you need to go over carefully.

  • Proximity to family – Depending on your family dynamics, you will need to consider the proximity of the assisted living facility to your family. Many times, as children grow and leave their parent’s home, they can end up far away from each other. It is important to consulting with family members so everyone can voice their opinions.
  • Near medical facilities – Some aging loved ones have medical needs which require regular trips to the doctor. If this is the case for your parent, then you should only consider assisted living facilities which have the appropriate medical facilities nearby.
  • Urban vs rural – Assisted living facilities are more expensive when located in large cities. Facilities located in small towns and other rural areas are generally more affordable.

Choose Assisted Living Community Based On Needs

It can seem obvious that assisted living communities should be chosen based on your loved one’s needs. Yet, if your loved one has not been recently assessed, you may not be aware of all their needs. Once you are sure you know the extent of their assistance requirements, then look into assisted living communities, assessing them for:

  • Types of care provided – Should your loved one need memory care, this is not the same as assisted living. With assisted living, you parent functions adequately with just some help required for things such as housekeeping and meals. If your parent needs memory care, then you should look for a facility which offers a separate unit with memory care-trained staff.
  • Attractive location – Our overall mental health can be affected by our surrounding. So while it seems like a small point, it is important that your loved one has attractive surroundings to live out the rest of their life. It will keep their mood up while they accept that they are no longer able to live independently.
  • Robust community structure – One of the hardest things for seniors transitioning to senior living is losing their old social structure. So, as you look at assisted living facilities, check out the community itself. Look for structured activities and whether or not socialization is encouraged by the staff.

It can be tough helping a widowed parent find the right assisted living community. Take some time to consider your options and your parent’s needs, and you should be able to find a place which is the right fit.

What To Look For In Your Parents’ Memory Care Services

What To Look For In Your Parents’ Memory Care Services

With a larger aging population, there has been a growth in the geriatric care industry. This has left people with many more options when it comes to finding an appropriate living situation for their aging parents.

It can be difficult to sift through all those options on your own. So we have collected some tips on what you should look for when looking for memory care services for your parents.

Distinction Between Assisted Living And Memory Care

When looking for services for a parent who needs memory care, you should first check to see if the facility differentiates between assisted living services and memory care. If the people you are talking to make no distinction, then they are not the place for your loved one.

Memory care units, sometimes called special care units, require more intensive care and skilled nursing. These units usually are set apart from the rest of a facility to better secure and care for those elders dealing with memory loss.

Transparent In All Dealings

You can learn a lot from how open someone is when you are working with them. The same applies to any facility to which you are looking to entrust with your loved one.

There are several ways you can gauge the transparency of an elder care facility.

  • Prices – Most memory care services do not have listed prices. This is in part because each individual is assessed and it is determined how much care is needed. But once you have discussed care costs, there should be no room for extra fees tacked on without your contract being reassessed.
  • Accommodations – Like at Ashford, a reputable memory care facility should allow you to tour the facility. While allowances should be made to protect the privacy of the residents, you should be able to see exactly how your parent will be living.
  • Visiting – You should not have to schedule to be able to visit your parent. While there will be visiting hours to help residents maintain a schedule, any good facility should be open to visitors dropping in anytime during the visiting hours.
  • Staffing – As you work with a facility, they should be able to tell you exactly what is required to work at their facility. Be sure to inquire about how many nurses are on staff, how many certified nursing assistants there are per residents and the qualifications of the kitchen staff.

While it can be difficult to decide on where to place your parents when they need memory care, just remember to utilize the above tips. That way you can be sure to exclude any facility who cannot meet these standards.

​Utilizing Simple Exercises to Reduce Your Risk for Dementia

Regular exercise is an important part of reducing your risk for dementia. In fact, a 35-year study showed that consistent exercise was key to reducing dementia risk by 60 percent!

It can also help those already displaying symptoms of dementia, which is why Ashford residents are encouraged to join in with our daily exercise sessions. But don’t think that you need to hire a personal trainer to make sure you are doing the right exercises to reduce your dementia risk.

How Much Exercise You Need To Reduce Dementia Risk

Throwing around words like “regular exercise” doesn’t mean a whole lot if there is no definition of what is considered regular. For low- to moderate-intensity exercises, working out 5 days a week for 20-30 minutes would be considered regular exercise.

If you are up to higher-intensity exercise, you can work out 3 days a week for 30-40 minutes at a time. However, we do not recommend jumping immediately into high-intensity workouts if you are not already working out consistently. The risk of injury is much higher with high-intensity workouts if your body is not ready for it.

Simple Exercises You Should Do To Boost Memory

Your memory-boosting workouts don’t have to be complicated to produce the desired results. In fact, the simpler you make your workout routine, the more likely you are to stick with it. However, if you are feeling pain beyond general soreness after starting to regularly workout, be sure to contact your doctor. Below are some of our residents favorite low- to moderate-intensity exercises:

  • Yoga – Not all styles of yoga are the same, so for the best results, we recommend you try some of the more vigorous styles like Vinyasa. You will be able to raise your heart rate, retain your flexibility, and improve your overall balance.
  • Power walking – Running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but most can benefit from engaging in power walking. The brisk movement will improve your cardiovascular health and your mind will have to stay engaged in your workout as you watch your surroundings for obstacles.
  • Chair exercise – Workout while seated by doing chair exercises. These exercises are great for those who want to workout but may have mobility issues or have other reasons why they are unable to leave the house.

It can be scary to think about our own possible risk for dementia. But by taking simple preventative measures like engaging in regular exercise, you can be assured that you are directly impacting your personal risk for dementia.

Best Activities To Keep Memories Sharp

As we age, it is paramount that we keep our brains engaged with activities so our memories remain sharp. But not all activities are equal in their ability to stimulate our minds. Passive activities such as TV watching allows the brain to coast. Most Americans spend over 5 hours a day watching TV and this number climbs as we age. So instead of sitting and coasting, we’ve compiled a list of the best activities you can engage in.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Daily exercise is a favorite activity here at Ashford Assisted Living and Memory Care. Depending on physical limitations, we help our residents stay active. Research has shown that engaging in regular exercise is more important than the type of exercise. Simple exercises which can keep both bodies and minds sharp are:

Learn A New Skill

If you want to improve your memory, you will need to challenge your memory. Scientists have found that learning a new skill improves cognitive memory more than engaging in old and familiar activities. Some activities you may want to try your hand at are:

  • Digital photography
  • Quilting
  • Crochet
  • Painting
  • Beading

Read A Book

There has been plenty of research done to prove that reading can improve cognitive abilities. Not only does it keep our brains engaged but can also help us keep learning. There is no one genre that is considered better for memory, so feel free to read whatever you want as long as you keep reading.

While reading can become more difficult as we age if eyesight deteriorates, there large print books and other reading aids. With these aids, you can continue to engage you cognitive memory and keep it sharp.

Keep Your Brain Puzzling

Puzzles are a more passive activity and have not shown a huge amount of cognitive engagement. However, they are better than doing nothing. So to supplement your other cognitive activities, you can try these puzzles:

  • Crossword
  • Jigsaw
  • Sudoku
  • Word search

When Memories Decline

While you should engage in memory-sharpening activities, there are times where genetics have predetermined a certain propensity for memory loss. If that day comes, you will want top-notch care for your loved one.

Memory care at Ashford is always high quality. We have a high staff-to-patient ratio, engaging daily activities, and memory-supportive meals. You can feel secure when entrusting your loved one to Ashford.

A Day In The Life Of An Ashford Assisted Living Center Resident

It can be hard to imagine what life is like for residents living in an assisted living center. Touring facilities like Ashford is one way to help you see how your elderly loved one will be living. To add another way for you to imagine how your elder will be taken care of, we wanted to give you an inside look at a day in the life of an Ashford Assisted Living Center resident.

Morning At Ashford

Mornings are some of the busiest times at Ashford Assisted Living Center. The majority of our residents are early risers, so our staff works quickly to help everyone become prepared for the day. A basic morning schedule will go as follows:

  • Wake up and dress – Many of our residents follow personal routines to which our staff becomes quickly attuned. Most do not even need to call for assistance in the morning as our staffers know when most prefer to wake up. If needed, a staffer stays to help chose an outfit, helping the resident dress.
  • Breakfast – Breakfast at Ashford takes place in our beautiful and sunny dining room. Residents choose a nutritious breakfast from a menu, with staples like cereal, fruit, oatmeal, eggs and more always available.

After breakfast is complete, our residents can engage in a variety of activities which carry on through the afternoon. Some of the activities are:

  • Beauty salon – We have a lovely salon in-house at our center. Many residents can enjoy some pampering and come in weekly to have their hair done.
  • Socialize – Many of our residents form new friendships when they come to live at Ashford. Family members also tend to visit during this time of the day.
  • Activity – At Ashford, we have regularly changing daily activities for our residents to enjoy. From painting to playing games, your loved one will enjoy a variety of activities.
  • Exercise – There is a daily exercise program which our residents can participate in to stay active and healthy.

Elderly Residents In The Afternoon

Many of the morning activities blend into the afternoon. Some activities which usually take place in the afternoon are:

  • Lunch – Residents gather again in our dining room for lunch. Aids take individual orders as residents order from the daily menu. Residents choose from a variety of sides and entrees, enjoying our in-house chef’s cooking.
  • Group outings – Our residents enjoy time away from the facility as well. From museum trips to scenic drives, the residents at Ashford can stay engage with activities outside of the center.
  • Outdoors – We keep secured grounds so residents can feel safe enjoying our center’s beautiful grounds.
  • Personal time – Residents can return to their rooms for naps, quiet reading time, catch their favorite shows on TV, and other personal activities.

Ashford In The Evening

Evenings at Ashford are when most residents are winding down from a day of activities. We respect this by planning fewer activities in the evenings.

  • Dinner – Like lunch, dinner for Ashford residents is chosen from a menu of delicious and nutritious options. Along with changing entrees and sides to choose from, residents can choose to indulge in dessert. With continually dessert staples like ice cream, jello, and pudding, our kitchens also produce different desserts on a daily basis.
  • Live entertainment – Many of our residents choose to attend the evening live entertainment before retiring for the evening. This entertainment can range from sing-alongs to musical performances and more.
  • Bedtime – For those residents who need assistance preparing for bed, our staffers are there to help them become ready to sleep peacefully.

Giving even a basic schedule can be difficult, as all our residents have their personal needs and interests. So you should know that your loved one will be treated as an individual when it comes to their daily schedule. We make sure each resident is happy and comfortable when living at Ashford.

Maintaining Independence: The Benefits of Assisted Living

Maintaining Independence The Benefits of Assisted Living

Transitioning into an assisted living center, even one as pleasant as Ashford, can cause someone to feel like they are losing their independence. Preconceived notions concerning assisted living can add to this discomfort; however, the reality is that the independence of the resident is maintained and improved by utilizing assisted living.

Elders Are Free From Fear

Both the elderly and their family can be free from fears by transitioning into a supportive assisted living center. If the elders live alone, family members tend to worry about their elderly loved ones possibly:

  • Falling
  • Forgetting medication
  • Eating inadequate food
  • Lacking clean clothes
  • Feeling lonely

Even if your elder is moved into your own home, these concerns can still apply as your family still has to lead their own lives.

Also, more than anything, resentment can build when moving an older relative into your home, both from the elder and the caregiving family. Elderly family members may resent the restriction of their freedom and feel like they are being treated like children. At the same time, the caregiving family may come to resent taking on the burden of their loved one’s care.

While we can’t guarantee the environment you will find at assisted living centers who not affiliated with Ashford, we know how residents at our assisted living facilities live. We supply:

  • 24/7 support for residents
  • Delicious and nutritious food
  • Medication assistance
  • Hygiene assistance
  • Housekeeping

This way we can offer top of the line care for your aging relative and help free both you and them from restricting fears. There can also be less resentment between family members as the bulk of the caregiving is taken care of by trained staffers.

Resident’s Social Circle Expands

Many elders find their social circles shrinking as they lose mobility and lack opportunities to participate in activities. This leaves them trapped in their homes and suffering from isolation.

At Ashford Assisted Living and Memory Care, our residents have social activities they can choose to participate in daily. Your elder can gain new relationships from the safety of their residence and enjoy different social events.

Control Care Expenses

When a resident elects to move into Ashford, the fee is all-inclusive when it comes to the services we offer. While living on their own, elderly loved ones may find themselves paying several companies for a variety of services:

  • Meal delivery service
  • Part-time caregiver
  • Housekeeper
  • Landscaper
  • Media entertainment

At Ashford, these services and more come included in the overall cost of living at our assisted living center. This can help free the resident from all these additional costs and the possibility of forgetting to make vital payments.

Transitioning to assisted living shouldn’t be looked at as a loss a freedom. Instead, residents gain extra help at maintaining their independence.

When Is Memory Care The Best Choice?

When Is Memory Care The Best Choice

People sometimes refer to assisted living and memory care interchangeably. However, these are distinctly different service. Here at Ashford, we cater to individuals who need memory care and assisted living needs. We help families understand which is the right fit for their loved one. To help you decide which is the best choice for your loved one, we want to share what we tell the families we counsel.

When To Choose Assisted Living

Assisted living is for those individuals who struggle to manage day-to-day tasks but still have full mental capabilities. However, simple physical tasks may be a struggle for them, such as:

  • Cooking meals
  • Cleaning their home
  • Doing laundry
  • Reaching meetings with friends
  • Simple home maintenance

If no family member lives close enough, many of these activities may go undone. A key danger is if the elder struggles with making healthy meals. Many turn to frozen/microwaveable foods to fix this problem. But this can create other issues.

Elders, in particular, are susceptible to malnutrition, and microwave-ready food isn’t particularly nutritious. It is also very high in sodium which can exacerbate many health issues elders struggle with.

These elders may find a transition to assisted living difficult initially as they don’t want to admit to lower physical abilities. However, they benefit greatly from the community aspect and having others take care of daily tasks that the elder had been struggling to complete.

When To Choose Memory Care

When it comes to selecting memory care for your elderly loved one, all of the above considerations apply to them as well. However, there are other concerns which can be signs your elder needs memory care and not just assisted living.

Your elder will need memory care under these conditions:

  • Safety concerns – If you have concerns for your elder’s safety because of diminished mental capabilities, you should consider memory care. For example, have they started to forget where they live or whether they left the stove on for hours? These are early warning signs which family members should watch out for as they are indicators that the elder’s memory may be diminishing.
  • Becomes combative – Dementia and other memory-loss related issues can cause some elderly loved one to become angry and combative. Without the proper training, this can become dangerous to both you and your elder. Memory care units have personnel trained in how to defuse a combative elder and keep everyone safe.
  • Memory problems – Having one’s memory deteriorate can affect all aspects of life. Hygiene, health care, money, and more can be neglected if the elder cannot remember to fulfill these tasks. Usually, these become problems around the same time, so if you have noticed one of these issues, you should investigate to see if your elder is struggling elsewhere.

Lastly, caring for an elderly loved one who has memory issues can be exhausting for the caregivers. Many families find it hard to consider this aspect. We have had families feel selfish for needing to turn to a memory care facility for their loved one.

This is not the case. To maintain a healthy relationship and help your elderly loved one, memory care can be the best option. You can rest assured knowing they are receiving constant care and they can enjoy their golden years in comfort and safety.