How Person-Centered Care is Changing Senior Living Communities

person centered care in senior living communitiesIn recent years, person-centered care has become a movement transforming senior living communities everywhere. Person-centered care, also known as the culture change model or resident-centered care, is changing the long-term care medical model of the past into one that guides and nurtures the individual, offering a holistic approach to caregiving. It focuses on not only the quality of the care provided to residents, but also to ensuring the highest quality of life possible to improve life expectancy.

Person-centered care is designed to give residents control over their daily lives, allowing them to make their own decisions and set their own routines. All levels of staff are involved in the care process, as well as the residents’ families and friends. The goal is to provide a familiar, comfortable and private environment for residents while focusing on what they can do, rather than what they cannot do.

Benefits of the Culture Change Model

The culture change model recognizes that the relationship between the caregiver and the resident is key to providing the best quality care. Rather than focusing solely on completing daily tasks, the staff learns to work together with each other and residents to build these relationships and provide person-centered care.

Some of the benefits of implementing the culture change model in senior living communities include:

Respects the residents. Focusing on the residents’ needs and abilities while allowing them to make their own decisions provides a sense of control of the lives, making them feel respected and important.

Improves mental health and reduces boredom. Person-centered care provides daily tasks and activities that help reduce the boredom and helplessness some residents may experience. Discovering the activities they enjoy, whether it’s gardening, painting, or listening to favorite songs, and making those activities a daily routine provides a sense of purpose. Plus, taking part in these stimulating experiences with others can also help improve mental health and ward off depression or loneliness.

Creates a supportive environment. Person-centered care puts people first- both the caregivers and the residents- over the completion of tasks. By focusing on the personalized needs of residents and the staff, a supportive environment is created as relationships become the heart of care.

Promotes team-building among staff. Staff members of all levels work together with designated groups of residents, rather than rotating daily assignments. As the team builds relationships with each other and truly enjoy their jobs, employee turnover decreases.

Increases happiness and life expectancy. Residents feel increased satisfaction in their daily lives when the culture change model is implemented. Feeling happier overall, while receiving a high level of individualized care, can help increase longevity, as residents truly feel they still have a purpose in life.

More and more senior living communities today are moving to person-centered care, American Senior Communities included. Our staff receives special training utilizing Teepa Snow’s GEMS® and Positive Approach® to person-centered dementia care in our Auguste’s Cottage, proving our commitment to providing the best quality of care to our residents.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

The Top Caregiving Challenges

top caregiving challengesClose to seven million people provide unpaid care to aging loved ones on a daily basis, assisting them with activities of daily living like eating, dressing and bathing. Many of these family caregivers also perform various healthcare services, such as managing medications or daily injections, regardless of whether or not they have any expertise or experience in such tasks. While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, caregiving can also present significant challenges. There may come a time when caregivers need to recognize their own health needs and make some decisions regarding the future care of their loved ones.

Family Caregiving Duties and Challenges

Although all experiences will vary, there are certain duties and challenges all family caregivers will face at one time or another. For instance, some of the top caregiving duties and the challenges they present include:

  • Assisting with daily living activities. Helping loved ones out with their basic needs, like bathing and dressing, as well as cooking and cleaning, are often some of the top caregiver duties. Elderly loved ones often become reliant on family caregivers for assistance with everyday tasks, leading to caregivers spending more time on their loved ones’ needs than their own.
  • Monitoring medication and various healthcare tasks. Caregivers are often required to administer medications or even intravenous fluids and injections- tasks they have no formal training to perform. Not only that, but caregivers also are required to deal with many of the financial and legal responsibilities of their loved one’s healthcare needs. This can lead to a significant amount of caregiver stress that can ultimately harm their own health.
  • Mobility assistance. When chronic conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis make it difficult for the elderly to move about their home, family caregivers will help their loved ones move from place to place, such as from the bed in the morning to a chair in the living room. Or, helping them get into and out of the home or up a flight of stairs to the bedroom. The labor involved with helping elderly loved ones with mobility issues can be a demanding task that can put the caregiver’s own physical wellbeing at risk.
  • There may come a time when it’s no longer safe for elderly loved ones to continue driving, so a common caregiver duty is to transport loved ones to doctor appointments, shopping trips, social activities and more, again leading to time constraints for caregivers to complete their own errands or spend time with their families.

Why Caregiver Support is so Vital

Being a family caregiver can ultimately take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. Managing the time you spend on caregiving duties and the time you spend on your own needs can become unbalanced, and most caregivers find they end up sacrificing not only vacations or hobbies, but also tending to their own health needs. This is especially true for caregivers who are still working full time or taking care of their own children while performing caregiving tasks, as there truly are only so many hours in the day to get things accomplished.

This is why caregivers should seek out a caregiver support group or respite services, or even consider starting the conversation about moving aging loved ones into assisted living. At an assisted living community, you can rest assured that loved ones will receive the right level of care, right when they need it, as these communities often provide differing levels of care all on one campus.

For more information about Respite Care at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/respite/.

Making the Move to Assisted Living Easier

moving to assisted livingMoving parents or elderly loved ones into assisted living can be a trying process for everyone involved. Many seniors fear moving to assisted living means they will lose their independence; that their everyday freedoms will be compromised and they’ll no longer be able to come and go as they please. Or, perhaps they’re afraid once they’re settled into the assisted living community they will be all but forgotten by friends and family. Add those fears into preparing to downsize their current home and the thought of a stressful moving day, and it can become difficult to convince our loved ones that moving to assisted living truly is the best decision they can make for their overall health and wellbeing.

That said, helping aging loved ones understand the changes that are coming will help them feel more comfortable in their new home. By working as a team with your loved one, their physician, and the assisted living staff, you can better prepare for these changes with them and ensure a successful transition.

Tips for Moving Parents to Assisted Living

It’s important for family caregivers to know they shouldn’t feel guilty when the time comes to move a parent to assisted living. Remember, assisted living communities provide a higher level of care than an untrained caregiver can perform. This means not only will your aging loved one enjoy a higher quality of life, but you will have peace of mind that they’re receiving the care they need.

Here are a few tips for moving the elderly to assisted living:

  • Focus on the benefits. When talking to loved ones about assisted living, make sure to focus on all the positive aspects of moving. They’ll have a personalized space to call their own, plenty of social opportunities to make new friends, delicious meals, help with daily living activities, and plenty of other services and amenities designed to make life easy.
  • Obtain a floor plan. If possible, obtain a floor plan or the dimensions of the living space of your loved one’s new home. This way, you can start to map out where furniture and belongings will go to make moving day a bit less stressful.
  • Make sorting through belongings a family affair. Moving to assisted living means loved ones will have to make some decisions about their belongings. Go through items together, deciding what can go with them to their new home, what can be donated or sold, and what can get designated to family members as keepsake items.
  • Help with packing. Create a moving checklist so you can stay organized while packing. Keep in mind the size of the room so you know you aren’t packing more than will fit; be aware of the storage space available so you can make smart decisions about what to pack.
  • Make the new space homey and familiar. While packing, be sure to bring along some cherished items, like a favorite piece of furniture or cozy blanket, plus some personal items like photos and artwork. This way, you can set up the room so it is familiar, comfortable and feels just like home for your loved one
  • Keep in touch. Once your loved one is settled in, make sure to check in often, whether it’s a simple daily phone call or a weekly visit to enjoy a meal together. Staying connected will help your loved one know how much you care about his or her happiness and make the transition that much easier.

For more information about assisted living apartments at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/al.

Lower Blood Pressure May Equal Higher Risk for Dementia

low blood pressure and dementiaFor a few years now, researchers have been looking into the connection between blood pressure and dementia. Studies have revealed there is a link between hypertension, or high blood pressure, and an increased risk for dementia, as high blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in the brain responsible for thinking and memory.

Research from John Hopkins found that those using anti-hypertensive medications to control high blood pressure lowered their risk for Alzheimer’s by about a third; those who didn’t have Alzheimer’s and were taking blood pressure medication were somewhat less likely to develop dementia, and some of those medications helped the disease from progressing in those already diagnosed.

However, lowering blood pressure has been shown to have certain ramifications, too. More recent studies have shown that people who have lower than normal blood pressure were more likely to be at risk for changes in the brain that affected cognition and memory.

Risk Factors for Dementia

One of the biggest known risk factors for dementia is simply advancing age. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in nine people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, while one in three people age 85 or older have the disease. It’s not known why old age and dementia are so connected, but more studies are being conducted to discover why the risk increases so drastically with age.

Other risk factors for dementia that we have no control over include family history and genetics. If a parent or sibling has Alzheimer’s disease, you are more likely to develop it, too. The risk increases further if more than one family member has dementia. Heredity or genetics also plays a role, as risk genes and deterministic genes for dementia can be passed down through generations.

While there is no cure for dementia, living a healthy lifestyle has been shown to reduce your risk. Making brain-healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly, stimulating your mind often, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep can all help delay cognitive decline and memory loss.

Low Blood Pressure and Dementia

While lowering blood pressure in those with hypertension is beneficial to their overall health, studies have shown that caution is needed when lowering blood pressure in those who already have low diastolic blood pressure (the number on the bottom of a blood pressure reading). Those with lower-than-normal blood pressure may face a higher risk of brain atrophy- the death of brain cells or the connections between brain cells. A recent study revealed that those whose diastolic blood pressure was lower than 70 mm Hg had more brain atrophy as time went by.

What this means is that treatment for high blood pressure needs to be adapted to the individual. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the best target blood pressure for you and your cardiovascular health needs.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

The Importance of Good Dental Hygiene for Seniors

senior dental careTaking care of your teeth and gums is important throughout your life, but advancing age can put seniors more at risk for a variety of dental issues. Conditions like arthritis might make it difficult to practice good dental hygiene on a daily basis, or memory loss may cause some seniors to forget to brush and floss their teeth altogether. Plus, changes in the mouth can lead to other health problems for some of the elderly population. However, with the proper care and regular visits to the dentist, it’s possible for your teeth and gums to stay in great condition as you age.

Common Dental Care Issues Seniors Face

Some of the common issues seniors face when it comes to oral hygiene include:

  • Cavities and root decay. Older adults often face more cavities and decay on the root surfaces of the teeth. Root decay is common as the roots become exposed when the gum tissue recedes from the tooth.
  • Darkened teeth. Usually caused by changes in dentin, the bone-like tissues under the tooth enamel, as well as years of consuming foods and drinks that can stain the teeth. Also, sometimes the enamel can thin, causing the darker yellow dentin to be revealed.
  • Increased sensitivity. As your gums recede over time, areas of the teeth not protected by enamel become exposed and can be sensitive to hot, cold sweet or sour foods. Sometimes, sensitivity is a sign of a more serious condition like a cracked tooth or a cavity.
  • Dry mouth. One of the most common oral health issues in seniors is dry mouth, and it usually occurs due to medication side effects that reduce saliva flow.
  • Dentures. While dentures are helpful for many seniors, they do require special care that can sometimes be difficult to maintain on a daily basis.
  • Decreased sense of taste. Another common medication side effect that seniors face is a diminished sense of taste. Certain oral diseases or dentures can also affect our sense of taste as we age, too.
  • Gum disease. Gum disease tends to affect people over the age of 40 more so than younger individuals. It’s caused by poor oral hygiene or a bad diet, as well as diseases like diabetes or heart disease. Also, those who smoke or drink alcohol regularly are more at risk for gum disease.

Senior Dental Care Tips

First of all, the most important senior dental care tip to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist regularly, at least twice every year. At your exam, you can discuss any issues you may be experiencing; if you’ve noticed any changes in your teeth or gums, any increased sensitivity or loose teeth, pain, discomfort, bleeding or sores.

Secondly, practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice each day, especially after meals and before bedtime.  Use a toothpaste with fluoride, as fluoride provides extra protection against dental decay no matter your age. Also at bedtime, make sure to floss your teeth and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease. If necessary, make lifestyle changes like quitting tobacco and limiting alcohol, as these substances increase the risk for periodontal disease and throat or oral cancers.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

The 2016 Indiana State Fair

2016 Indiana State FairEach August, the Indiana State Fair takes place for 17 days at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Next to the Indy 500, it’s one of the top events in the area, dating all the way back to 1852 when the first fair was held. 2016 marks an exciting and momentous year for the state fair, as fair-goers and exhibitors will not only enjoy all the regular festivities the fair brings, like delicious food, fun rides, free concerts and more, but also will celebrate Indiana’s Bicentennial.

The History of the Indiana State Fair

In February of 1851, the General Assembly created the State Board of Agriculture here in Indiana in order to monitor the agricultural industry. One of the Assembly’s first orders of business was to create a state fair, and the first Indiana State Fair was held in October of 1852 at what is now Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. This first year saw around 30,000 visitors, who each paid an admission fee of 20 cents to check out over 1,300 exhibits, which mostly featured agricultural products and machinery. In fact, Indiana was only the sixth state in the entire country to host a state agricultural fair at the time.

In 1892, the fair moved to its current site at 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway after being held in several other cities throughout the region; it was found that attendance was highest when the fair was located in Indianapolis. The Indiana State Fair has always focused on agriculture, but over the years exhibits showcasing advances in science, technology, automobiles, and more emerged.

Along with the many innovative exhibits, another main source of entertainment at the Indiana State Fair has been music. From local Indianapolis musicians to huge national acts like the Beatles (who sold out two shows to over 30,000 screaming fans at the fair back in 1964), music has always been an integral part of the event.

What’s New at the Indiana State Fair in 2016

There are several county fairs in Indiana, but the Indiana State Fair is undeniably one of the biggest events in the state. It’s considered an institution that Hoosiers near and far plan to attend annually. This year, the fair will take place from August 5 through August 21, and has a few new features, like the Indiana State Fair app that will allow fairgoers to plan their entire visit from start to finish. The fair also offers a new way to experience some amazing food from the vendors, with the “Taste of the Indiana State Fair Contest,” during which participants will create food rich in Indiana history to be voted on by fairgoers via the app.

Of course, like every year, the fair offers a wide variety of free things to do that the entire family will enjoy. In honor of Indiana’s 200th birthday, this year the fair is offering a total of 200 free things to do! From viewing the beautiful colors of the Hot Air Balloon Glow on August 5th to watching an exhilarating jousting competition at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand on August 14th and exploring the Wonder Trail, the Indiana State Fair truly offers something for everyone in 2016.

Plus, don’t miss all the free concerts! This year, performers include national acts like The Fray, Blues Traveler, 38 Special, Night Ranger and many, many more!

What’s your favorite memory of visiting the Indiana State Fair?

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Why Walking is Beneficial for Seniors

walking for seniorsLong ago, walking was basically the only form of transportation humans had. Going from one place to the next meant using our own two feet to get there, but luckily, our bodies are designed for walking. As time passed, we found new ways to get around a bit more quickly, from horses and bicycles to cars and Segways. Today, most people even search for the closest parking spot to the door when heading to the grocery store, just to avoid a long walk to get inside!

However, there are certain benefits of walking- especially for seniors- that cannot be denied. Adding at least 30 minutes of walking to your daily routine not only helps you avoid a sedentary lifestyle, but improves your health in more ways than one!

Benefits of Walking for Seniors

Experts have said that walking could be the best exercise for seniors; it’s an effective way to reduce the risk for chronic conditions and improve your overall health. Some of the benefits of walking for seniors include:

  • Improves heart health. For seniors, walking offers numerous heart health benefits. Getting your heart rate up daily leads to a reduction in the risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and even coronary heart disease.
  • Lowers blood sugar. After eating, taking a 15-minute walk has been shown to reduce the after-eating spike in blood sugar some seniors can experience. Your body is using blood sugar more effectively to strengthen muscles, and insulin works better, too.
  • Reduces pain. Studies have shown that walking helps reduce some pain due to chronic conditions like arthritis. Some seniors experience lower back pain, and walking even just three times a week for around 20 minutes can help strengthen abdominal and back muscles to decrease chronic back pain.
  • Low participation cost. After you’ve invested in a good, sturdy pair of shoes, you can walk basically anywhere- for free! When the weather permits, head to the park for a stroll on the path or simply walk around your neighborhood. If it’s too cold or rainy to go outside, head to a shopping mall instead.
  • Promotes social engagement. Walking offers an easy way for seniors to meet up with others, whether you join a walking group with friends or simply engage with neighbors while out on your daily walk. You can meet new people and enjoy your environment each day.
  • Boosts mental health. A daily walk can help you feel more positive about life. The endorphins released during physical activity create a sense of well-being, reduce anxiety and boost your mood.

How to Add Walking to a Daily Routine

The most basic goal in a rehabilitation program is to get people on their feet and walking again. After hip replacement surgery, for example, patients are asked to get out of bed and start walking to help promote blood circulation and prevent muscles and joints from seizing. It’s a low impact way for seniors of all ages to improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen muscles and bones.

Incorporate walking into your daily routine and start reaping the benefits! Get a pair of supportive, sturdy sneakers, lace them up, and then choose a familiar route that is free of obstacles. Make sure the surface is smooth and soft to put less strain on your joints. Start off slowly with a 10-minute walk and then gradually increase the time and your pace. Dress appropriately for the weather, and don’t forget to stay hydrated! If you feel any pain during your walk, stop and take a break, and consult your physician if any pain continues.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Assessing Your Needs: Choosing the Right Senior Living Community

Choosing a Senior Living CommunityAging brings a variety of changes to our lives. We may find ourselves slowing down, and everyday tasks that used to be simple are now becoming more of a hassle to complete. Many seniors start to realize that downsizing their current home and moving to a senior living community is the best option to continue to thrive and enjoy life. However, with so many options and levels of care available today, it’s important to take some time to assess your current needs, as well as what your needs may be in the future, before determining what community is right for your healthcare requirements.

What Level of Senior Care is Right for You? An Assessment Checklist

Ensure a happy, fulfilling home environment as you age by planning for your future housing needs. Every senior is different, and therefore, just because your neighbor is moving to an assisted living community, this doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. The key to choosing a senior living community that is suitable for you is to match your housing with your current lifestyle and health. Remember, it’s normal to feel somewhat frustrated as you become less independent than you have been in previous years, but keeping your mind open to new possibilities is essential to improving your overall quality of life.

Some of the things to consider as you’re assessing your needs include:

  • Physical capabilities. Aging brings physical changes to our bodies, as muscle strength, endurance and flexibility tend to decrease in our later years. These changes can make it difficult to maintain the home and yard, or even affect your mobility to move easily throughout the house.
  • Mental health. Some seniors face mental health issues like depression or loneliness, which can lead to becoming disinterested in life or doing some of the activities you used to enjoy.
  • Social and emotional needs. As you age, you may notice changes in your support systems and social networks. The loss of a spouse or friends passing away can take a toll on you emotionally, and without social opportunities to keep you engaged in the world around you, you may find yourself socially isolated. Plus, it might become more difficult to drive, so you are missing opportunities to get out of the house and spend time with loved ones.
  • Activities of daily living. Perhaps you’ve fallen ill and had a tough time recovering, or chronic conditions make shopping, cleaning, cooking or even bathing and dressing yourself too difficult to maintain. In this case, moving to an assisted living community is a good option, as they provide a higher level of care than an independent living community.
  • Your safety. Living safely in your home means you might need to do things like remove throw rugs or low furniture to ensure you don’t suffer a fall. Or, maybe you need modifications like handrails in the bathroom to keep you steady on your feet. You should also consider the safety of the neighborhood in which you live; is it a safe, quiet community?
  • Financial situation. Maintaining a home can be costly, especially when big ticket repairs come up, like needing a new roof or furnace. There are many financial options available to help pay for the cost of senior care which can help save you money in the long run.

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration as you’re choosing a senior living community that will best fit your needs. If you’re still active and mobile, an independent living community is sufficient and provides an easy, maintenance-free lifestyle. However, if you need more assistance, the higher level of care provided at an assisted living community could be a better decision for your future.

It’s important to communicate your wishes with your loved ones, too. Many seniors find that family members are happy and supportive in their decision to choose housing options like an independent living apartment or senior assisted living.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Famous Centenarians

Famous CentenariansIt’s no secret that today, more and more people are living longer, healthier lives. In fact, the group of people living to 100 years old, known as centenarians, is the fastest growing portion of the population! The U.S. Census Bureau put out a special report back in 2010 that revealed there were over 53,000 centenarians in the country. While that number is a small percentage of the population, the number of people 100 years old and up increased by almost 66 percent in the past 30 years.

In other countries, centenarians are even more prevalent than they are here in the States. In 2010 in the U.S., there were 1.73 centenarians per 10,000 people, while in Japan, for instance, the number almost doubled at 3.43 centenarians per 10,000 people. Worldwide, recent figures state that there may be more than 450,000 centenarians living today.

Common Characteristics of People Over 100 Years Old

Centenarians share some common traits. For instance, some of the similar characteristics of those who live to 100 years old include:

  • Gender. The overwhelming majority of centenarians are female. In 2010, almost 83 percent of all people 100 years or older were women; for every 100 female centenarians, there were only 20.7 males the same age. This could have something to do with the fact that women tend to take less risks with their health than men, or, it could be because women are generally more socially active than men, which has been shown to increase life expectancy.
  • Race. Over 82 percent of centenarians in 2010 were white, compared to around 12 percent of African Americans and 2.5 percent of Asians in the population.
  • Living arrangements. The majority of those living to 100 years old resided with others. While around a third of centenarians lived alone in their homes, it’s more common to find this age group in assisted living facilities or living with loved ones.
  • Location. The oldest citizens in the country tend to live in more urban areas, with almost 86 percent of centenarians in 2010 living in the city. This could be due to having more mental stimulation and access to better healthcare, along with more possibilities for social activities.

A Few of the Most Famous Centenarians

One of the most famous centenarians who was Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years old. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was the oldest person on earth when she died in 1997. Ms. Calment dabbled in acting, appearing in the film Vincent and Me when she was 114 years old, and throughout her long life she also crossed paths with eccentric people like Vincent Van Gogh.

Some of the most famous centenarians in the entertainment industry include actors and comedians Bob Hope and George Burns, both of whom lived to be 100 years old. The iconic Irving Berlin, known for writing and crooning songs like “White Christmas” and “God Bless America”, lived to be 101. Another Hollywood legend who lived to be 100 was Hal Roach, a legendary film producer known for his comedies in the 1920s and 30s and for kick-starting the careers of Laurel and Hardy.

Finally, we can’t forget Grandma Moses, who lived to be 101. She began her painting career at age 77 and lived to see several years of great success in the art world.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

How to Get the Best Night’s Sleep

sleep disorders in the elderlySleep is one of the most essential elements influencing our overall health and well-being. Getting a good night’s sleep keeps us alert, refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. For adults age 65 and older, 7-8 hours of sleep per night is the recommended amount needed to function properly. However, since changes in our sleep patterns as we age are a normal part of the aging process, some seniors find it difficult to get the proper amount of sleep they need.

Common Sleep Disorders in the Elderly

While problems sleeping can be common in seniors, the need for a good night’s sleep remains vital; it’s a myth that as we age we don’t need as much sleep as we used to! There are a few sleep disorders and problems that are more prevalent in the elderly, such as:

  • Elderly insomnia: The National Sleep Foundation reports that 44 percent of older adults experience either chronic or acute insomnia, usually related to some sort of medical or psychiatric condition.
  • Advanced sleep phase syndrome: Changes in our circadian rhythms affect the coordination of our bodily functions, including sleep. It’s normal for older adults to feel more tired in the early evening and wake up earlier in the morning compared to their younger counterparts. They might still be getting the 7-8 hours of sleep needed, but going to bed and waking up very early.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious condition associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. When a person has sleep apnea, he or she will actually stop breathing for as long as 10-60 seconds, causing a sharp drop in the amount of oxygen in the blood. This causes the sufferer to wake up briefly to begin breathing normally again, and it can happen several times throughout the night.
  • Restless legs syndrome: RLS causes discomfort and a tingling sensation in the legs, usually in the evenings, which gets worse as the night progresses. A strong urge to get up and walk around can follow, interrupting one’s sleep.
  • REM-behavior disorder: This is a rare condition, but a serious one as it causes the sufferer to move or thrash about during sleep.

In general, elderly sleep problems also tend to occur as seniors have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Seniors usually spend more time in the lighter stage of the REM sleep cycle than in deep sleep. Plus, certain medication side effects might make one drowsy during the day or more alert at bedtime, disrupting sleep patterns.

How to Sleep Better and More Soundly as You Age

The key to a good night’s sleep is creating better sleep habits overall. First, discuss your situation with you doctor, who may perform a medical examination to make sure there isn’t an underlying health condition for your sleeplessness. Medication is sometimes prescribed, but it rarely seems to help for the long term. Instead, focus on changing the following habits:

  • Create a schedule for sleeping in which you go to bed around the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping, not napping or lounging.
  • Wind down in the evening with quiet activities like reading, doing crossword puzzles or taking a warm bath.
  • Avoid large, heavy meals in the evening as well as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, comfortable and dimly light at night.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit daytime napping, especially in the afternoon.

Remember, the better sleep you get, the better and healthier you’ll feel.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

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