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The Impact of Architectural Design on Dementia

Exposure to natural light can be therapeutic, even healing. It is not a new concept that exposure to daylight is good for the soul, but it is also essential for our health. Studies have shown that workers in offices with daylight exposure are more productive and more content. On the flipside, research has also shown that people who work the night shift are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes or be obese. One study found that inadequate natural light in homes contributes to an increased risk of depression and falls.  New research from USC Assistant Professor Kyle Konis reinforces the benefits of architectural design to maximize natural light for aging adults with a variety of health issues. Konis’ study looked at approximately 80 residents of dementia communities in California and found that those who had early morning exposure to natural light had improved mood, reduced depression and fewer psychoactive symptoms. Memory loss is just one of the devastating challenges facing senior adults living with dementia. Depression, agitation and difficulty sleeping are common with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Inadequate exposure to daylight only exacerbates these symptoms, while pharmaceutical drugs can affect the quality of a person’s life.  Could a change in environment make a difference, slowing cognitive delay and mitigating associated behavioral issues? Although more research on the impact of daylighting on dementia is needed, what we do know is that exposure to daylight may reduce depression for residents of memory care facilities. At The Cottages, we believe exposure to natural daylight is essential for physical, emotional and mental health. That’s why each of The Cottages communities...

Stand Up to the Darkness of Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day

Each year on the longest day of the year — the summer solstice on June 21 — participants from around the globe join together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s Disease. The Longest Day events worldwide raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. In the U.S. alone, more than five million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By the year 2050, this number is expected to rise as high as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The Longest Day is a global effort to fund research efforts until together we can end Alzheimer’s. June 21 is the day with the most light. The Longest Day symbolizes the dark and difficult journey faced by those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Teams are encouraged to turn their passions and hobbies into unique experiences they can share with others as they participate in The Longest Day to honor those living with the disease. Watch this video and be inspired. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ff3uXoOuJLw” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe> Here’s how you can participate in The Longest Day 2019: Select an activity you love. Do something you love — or honor a caregiver, someone living with Alzheimer’s, or someone you’ve lost by selecting his or her favorite hobby. Pick a way to participate. Start or join a team, host an event, or register as an individual. Choose the way that works best for you! Learn more here. Raise money to move the cause forward. To advance research...

How to Prevent the Leading Cause of Accidental Death Among Senior Adults

Heart attacks, stroke, cancer — each of these gives us reason to worry about the health of aging loved ones. But did you know that household hazards could pose an even greater risk to the health and well-being of senior adults? Falls rank among the leading causes of accidental death in the United States and are the top cause for fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Falling can be dangerous at any age, but for senior adults, slipping or tripping and falling can cause hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of older adults who fall, suffer a hip fracture and are hospitalized, die within a year. Even without hospitalization, a history of falling could also lead to anxiety and depression that prohibits older adults from maintaining an active lifestyle. Fear of falling causes many senior adults to lose confidence and become less active as a result. The good news is that there is much we can do to help prevent accidental falls by making living environments safer for our aging loved ones. Senior adults can fall for any number of reasons. Some of the most common causes of falls include: Loss of coordination, flexibility and/or balance Vision or hearing loss Side effects of medications, such as dizziness, dehydration or interactions with other meds Environmental factors, such as tripping hazards around the home Chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke or arthritis If you are a caregiver and/or loved one of a senior adult, here are six simple steps the National Council on Aging recommends to help prevent falls: Talk about...

How to Combat Loneliness for Senior Citizens

Loneliness is a common struggle seniors face, and one that has more than an emotional impact. Loneliness and isolation can also affect cognitive and physical health. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that 43 percent of seniors say they feel lonely and isolated. A study published by National Institutes of Health found that loneliness in adults over age 60 can lead to: Decreased participation in activities of daily living Decline in mobility Increased risk of death In addition, the impact of loneliness can lead to increased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia and a higher likelihood of depression, anxiety and/or stress. Loneliness isn’t unique to seniors who live alone. Many of those who reported feeling lonely in the UCSF study were married or living with other people. Understanding the impacts of loneliness in our older loved ones is only part of the solution. How can we combat feelings of isolation and help our loved ones live a happier, more fulfilled life as they age? First, it’s critical that we learn to recognize the common behavioral and physical signs of loneliness and/or depression, which include persistent sadness and lack of motivation or energy. Early intervention can have a positive impact on quality of life. Loneliness that is not addressed quickly can lead to more serious problems. Lessening the effects of loneliness may be as simple as increasing social activities and connection. Here are a few suggestions to help fight loneliness: Take advantage of technology to connect with family and friends. Pursue shared interests with others, such as gardening or book club. Play games at home, online or...

Caregiving Long Distance: How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work

We don’t need to see the latest romance movie to understand that long-distance relationships often do not work. For caregivers who live far away (an hour or more) from the home of their loved one (what we call long-distance caregivers) can face difficult and demanding challenges that could turn into real problems. These challenges could become even more complicated with loved ones who are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Long-distance caregivers who travel to assisted living care homes for dementia residents have to think through not being present to keep constant tabs on their loved one, travel time which can be a real problem during emergency situations where time is key, and the expenses of having to drive a long distance and potentially miss work. Despite these challenges, many caregivers simply don’t have a choice, so how can they make long-distance caregiving work? Here are seven ways you can be an effective long-distance caregiver: Be organized. Develop a system that works for you to keep track of information about medication, pharmacies, contact information, etc. Do your homework. T he more you know and understand about your loved one’s dementia, the better prepared you’ll as the disease progresses, and you’ll also be more equipped to plan ahead in regards to traveling, medical care and assisted living. Reach out. Talk to friends, family, and doctors who are close by about your loved one to help provide care and support. Hire a caregiver. You may feel most confident having an experienced professional providing in-home care for your loved one. Put technology to use. Facetime, Skype and other face-to-face video chat programs and apps are priceless tools when you’re trying to...

Raise Awareness and Help End Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day

  June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and each year on the longest day of the year — the summer solstice on June 21 — the Alzheimer’s Association promotes The Longest Day events around the nation and across the globe. The Longest Day is all about love for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and raising funds and awareness to help end Alzheimer’s. Did you know that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today? By the year 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Together, with the Alzheimer’s Association, you can help raise awareness for care and support while advancing research toward finding a cure. Why June 21? The duration of the sunrise-to-sunset event on the longest day of the year symbolizes the challenging journey faced by those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Teams are encouraged to turn their passions and hobbies into unique experiences they can share with others as they participate in The Longest Day to honor those living with the disease. Here’s how you can participate: Select an activity you love. Do something you love — or honor a caregiver, someone living with Alzheimer’s, or someone you’ve lost by selecting his or her favorite hobby. Pick a way to participate. Start or join a team, host an event, or register as an individual. Choose the way that works best for you! Learn more here. Raise money to move the cause forward. To advance research and provide care and support, each participant is...