Remembering the True Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day in IndianapolisWhile Memorial Day is generally considered the unofficial kick off to summer, this holiday is actually about much more than barbecuing or shopping at a big retail store’s sale. It’s a day we remember and honor those who have fallen while serving our country.

Memorial Day is celebrated a variety of ways all over the country, from parades and marches to quietly visiting graveyards and war monuments. The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff until noon, and many people participate in a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. their local time. The National Moment of Remembrance was signed into law by the president back in the year 2000, asking that all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’”.

Memorial Day in Indianapolis

Many cities have seen a decline in traditional observances of Memorial Day events; Memorial Day parades, for example, haven’t been held by most cities in years.

Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis, however, is a busy one! The entire month of May in Indianapolis is a celebration of the world’s largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500, which is held on Sunday, May 24th this year.

The weekend starts off on Friday with the 500 Festival Memorial Service.  The 500 Festival recognizes that Memorial Day is an important holiday in the midst of all the festivities surrounding the race, and the Memorial Service takes place to remember the sacrifices made by Indiana men and women who serve our country. To honor Indiana’s fallen soldiers, there will be a joint service color guard presentation of colors and performances by the Capital City Chorus and the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band.

There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony where the names of Indiana service members who have fallen are read out loud. A special horse-drawn caisson will carry the remains of a fallen service member while the caparisoned horse trails behind, representing a leader who has fallen and will ride no more. This special memorial service will be held in downtown Indy and is free to the public.

Day two of the 500 Festival brings the IPL 500 Festival Parade, which has been taking place every year since 1957. Held on the eve of the Indianapolis 500, the parade features larger-than-life floats, celebrities, marching bands and patriotic units, giant helium balloons and much more! 33 starting drivers of the Indy 500 will serve as honorary grand marshals in the parade. The parade is televised nationwide and approximately one million viewers will tune in for it from their homes.

The theme of the parade this year is Celebrating the Stories of May, which ties in stories about Memorial Day, training to complete the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, family traditions surrounding the parade and many more.

Will you be heading to the 500 Festival this weekend or the Indianapolis 500? However you celebrate, please remember to share in the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. It’s important to honor those special Hoosiers who have fallen while serving our country.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit

The Best Balance Exercises for Seniors

balance exercises for seniorsWhether a senior is struggling with health problems like arthritis, decreased muscle mass, low or high blood pressure, heart disease, or other issues like side effects from prescription medications, practicing daily balance exercises can help you stay steadier on your feet. Being able to maintain your balance will help decrease your risk of falling, and this is important because falls are the number one cause of accidental injury among seniors. Senior falls can lead to hip fractures or other broken bones, as well as a long recovery period.

Injuries can also lead to other issues like social isolation and depression. Once you start incorporating some specific balance exercises for seniors into your daily routine, you’ll notice that your stability has improved and you’ll probably even feel better, both physically and mentally! The best part is that there are plenty of easy balance exercises older adults can practice right from the comfort of your own home.

Senior Balance Exercises to Enhance Stability

If you’re first starting out with a new workout routine, it’s recommended to talk to your doctor and make sure you get the go ahead to start improving your stability. Start off slowly, or even have a friend or family member monitor your first few workouts until you are more secure on your feet.

Taking part in the following balance exercises every day will help enhance your physical condition and decrease your risk of falling:

  • A brief warmup. Do some light stretches and march in place for three minutes or so to get your heart rate elevated. Before you begin any exercise, warming up beforehand will help loosen your joints and prepare your muscles for activity.
  • Heel-to-toe walk. Follow the length of a wall if you need some extra support starting off this balance exercise. Lightly place your hand on the wall and step forward with your right foot. As you shift your weight forward, place your left foot in front of your right, with the heel of your left foot touching the toes on your right foot. Repeat this for 20 steps. As you progress with this exercise, try it going backwards and forwards.
  • Back and side leg raises. These exercises not only help your balance, but they can build strength and muscle, too. Stand behind a chair for support. For back leg raises, slowly lift one leg straight behind you without bending your knee. Hold for a second or two, then lower your leg. Repeat on the opposite side and do about 15 reps on each. For side leg raises, stand with your legs slightly apart. Lift one leg out to the side, keeping your back straight and your toes pointing forward. Hold for a second, lower your leg and repeat on the opposite side, completing 15 reps.
  • Flamingo pose. Hold on to the back of a sturdy chair for support and balance. Lift one foot and hold the position for ten seconds. Repeat this 10 to 15 times. Then, do the same thing with your other leg. As you gain more stability, try holding the position for longer lengths of time. You can ultimately let go of the back of the chair and even try crossing your arms over your chest as you stand on one foot.

Besides these home exercises, you can consider joining the New Energy Wellness Program at American Senior Communities, where you’ll be exposed to a variety of exercise programs designed to build balance and improve your abilities in everyday life.

For more information about the New Energy Wellness Program at American Senior Communities, please visit

Tips to Help Ease Sundowner’s Syndrome

sundowningOne of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is called sundowning, or Sundowner’s Syndrome. The term “sundowning” refers to the confusion and agitation that can set in during the evening hours and into the night for some of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Approximately 20 percent of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s are affected by this phenomenon.

Like Alzheimer’s disease, the actual cause of Sundowner’s Syndrome isn’t known. While this means that the treatments for sundowning are also not very well established, there are certain techniques that seem to help ease the symptoms of those suffering from it.

Factors that Trigger Sundowning

Some of the most common factors that can trigger sundowning symptoms like confusion, anxiety, aggression or wandering include:

  • Low lighting. Lack of good lighting can increase shadows in the room, causing more confusion and making it more difficult for those already visually challenged.
  • End of day activities. Too much stimulation at the end of the day, or lack of structured activities at the end of the day, can enhance sundowning symptoms.
  • Change in staff at assisted living community. There can be a lot of activity surrounding shift changes at an assisted living community, which can disrupt a routine and cause anxiety.
  • Fatigue. Exhaustion at the end of the day contributes to sundowning, as well as the lack of activity that may occur after dinner, causing restlessness.
  • Chemical changes in the brain/hormonal imbalances. There could be an internal hormonal imbalance or disruptions to the body’s internal clock, or even chemical changes in the brain that cause anxiety before falling asleep.

Coping with Sundowner’s Syndrome

It is possible to manage some of the symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome; the key is finding an approach that works best for your loved one. Some general tips include:

  • Create a predictable routine. Maintain a predictable schedule for waking, meals, activities, and bedtime.
  • Encourage daily physical activities. Plan activities that use more energy at the beginning of the day and encourage your loved one to take part in exercise each day.
  • Monitor diet. Make sure your loved one is eating a healthy diet, limiting caffeine and sugar to the morning hours. The biggest meal should be eaten during the middle of the day, and keep snacks light after dinner.
  • Practice light therapy. There is lighting available that provides full spectrum light, which can help minimize some of the sundowning symptoms. Keep rooms well lit and free of shadows, and use night lights to help reduce stress if your loved one needs to get up in the middle of the night.
  • Provide a good sleeping environment. Keep the sleeping area quiet and comfortable. Play soft music and keep the noise level low to help your loved one relax and settle in for the night.
  • Discourage daytime naps. Naps should be kept at a minimum, especially if your loved one has trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Get medical advice. Certain medications can help your loved one get a good night’s sleep. Just make sure you talk to a doctor first, as some medications can actually disrupt sleep and energy patterns, thus making sundowning symptoms worse.

It’s also important to remember that Sundowner’s Syndrome is part of Alzheimer’s disease, and that your loved one is not purposely acting out in the evening. Try to remain calm to avoid unnecessary stress that can harm your own health.

For more information about Memory Care provided through Auguste’s Cottage at American Senior Communities, please visit

Senior Rehabilitation after a Fall

senior rehabilitationFalls can be especially dangerous for seniors, because a senior is more likely to break a bone in a fall. A broken bone can lead to a long recovery period, as well as a loss of independence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 90 percent of hip fractures among seniors are caused by falling.

When a senior has been injured in a fall, physical therapy and occupational therapy will be needed to improve mobility and make daily tasks easier.

Senior Fall Recovery

Senior rehabilitation after a fall usually includes a hospital stay, typically lasting from one to four days. Both physical and occupational therapy will begin working with recovering seniors while they are still in the hospital. Before the senior is released, the medical staff will want to make sure he or she is able to get up out of bed independently, be in control of their pain, is able to walk with an assistive device, and can manage daily tasks like eating and using the restroom.

If the senior isn’t able to accomplish these tasks independently, a stay in a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility will be necessary. The senior rehabilitation process will include physical therapy to ensure that the senior is increasing flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. Being well physically is vital to preventing future falls. The physical therapist will provide muscle re-education as well as balance training and strengthening exercises, as well as gait training so the senior can learn how to walk with a cane or walker.

The physical therapist will also recommend some exercises to continue doing at home once the senior is discharged. An assessment of why the fall happened in the first place will need to be done for proper senior fall recovery. For instance, did something in the environment cause the fall, like furniture or a rug being in the way, or was it because the senior was in poor overall physical health? Does the senior have good vision and hearing? The physical therapist will prescribe the correct physical therapy for seniors of all abilities depending on their needs, including training for walking correctly with a mobility aid like a walker or cane.

Also during the stay in the rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility, an occupational therapist will help ensure the senior is comfortable maintaining activities of daily living, like dressing, eating, bathing, grooming, etc. The occupational therapist will also perform a home safety test, in which they evaluate the senior’s living space and make suggestions for making the areas safe for daily living. This may include recommending the removal of throw rugs and some furniture which can be tripping hazards, as well as installing better lighting, grab bars and railings through the home.

Senior rehabilitation after a fall is important to ensure the patient has a full range of motion, less pain and is able to live as independently as possible.

For more information about Moving Forward Rehabilitation at American Senior Communities, please visit

Unique Gifts for Mother’s Day

Mothers DayMother’s Day is a holiday for honoring motherhood in many different ways around the world. In the United States, Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914 and usually falls on the second Sunday in May.

A fun fact about Mother’s Day: more phone calls are made on Mothers’ Day than any other day of the year. In fact, phone traffic tends to spike on this day by as much as 37 percent!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

This year, Mother’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, May 10th.  If you’re still pondering what to get that special mom in your life this year, we have a few last minute ideas for unique, thoughtful gifts for Mother’s Day:

  • Give the gift of time. One of the best ways to show your mom you care is to simply spend time with her making new memories. You can take her out for a movie or a shopping trip, or even spend a few hours at the spa together. Or, help her do some chores that may have become difficult for her, like vacuuming under furniture or changing hard-to-reach light bulbs.
  • Digitize old photos. Take some of those old photos collecting dust in your mom’s photo albums and scan them into your computer. Then, make a slideshow that you can view together. Or, load them into a digital picture frame that will scroll through the pictures automatically any time she turns it on. This is a great way to bring up long forgotten memories so she can tell you all about her past.
  • Enjoy a meal together. Many families like to go to brunch on Mother’s Day, but if you haven’t already made a reservation, it might be tough to get in anywhere! Instead, how about having your mother come over and talk you through some of her favorite recipes? The grandkids can even help with some prep work. Or, cook her favorite meal and enjoy a nice family dinner at home.
  • Create a memory jar. This unique gift for Mother’s Day just takes a little creativity on your part. Get a large jar or vase and have the grandchildren help decorate it. Then, have everyone in the family write down some of their favorite memories with mom. Whenever she needs a little pick me up, she can reach in the jar and pull out a cheerful memory to make her smile.
  • Get out into the garden together. Brightening your mom’s day with flowers is always a great gift for Mother’s Day! You can purchase a bouquet from your local flower shop, or better yet, put one together with flowers from your own yard if you’ve got a little creative ability. Or, take mom out to a botanical garden for the day so she can experience all the different smells and colors of flowers out in nature.
  • Build a family tree. This is a project you can get started on now and finish later. On Mother’s Day, you can have the basic outline for a family tree started, then sit and talk to your mom and collect as much information as you can. Use the photos she may already have, writing down the names and dates she remembers. This is a wonderful way to learn about your ancestry and create something that multiple generations will enjoy.

Don’t wait until Mother’s Day to let your mom know how much she means to you! Remind her as often as possible about the important role she plays in your life.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit

Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

osteoporosis preventionAccording to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), approximately 9 million Americans currently have osteoporosis. Another 43 million have low bone density, which puts them at risk for the disease.

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes a person’s bones weak and more likely to break. People with osteoporosis or low bone density stand a greater chance of fracturing their bones, whether from a fall or even simply just bumping into furniture or sneezing.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, which helps promote good bone health through the prevention, detection and treatment of osteoporosis. Throughout the month, people are encouraged to understand why they might be at risk for the disease, as well as what preventative measures can be taken for the promotion of healthy bones.

Raising Awareness of Osteoporosis

The first step in actually preventing osteoporosis is knowing if you possess the risk factors for getting the disease. Osteoporosis is known as a “silent disease” because you can’t actually feel your bones getting weaker. It’s likely that a person can have osteoporosis and not know it; they’ll only learn they do after they break a bone.

The factors that put you at risk for osteoporosis include:

  • Your age. Older people are more likely than younger people to get osteoporosis, although it is possible to get it at any age.
  • Your gender. Females make up 80 percent of the people who have osteoporosis. Men over the age of 50 are more likely to break a bone from osteoporosis than to get prostate cancer.
  • Your body type. Being small and thin puts you more at risk for osteoporosis. However, this doesn’t mean larger body types won’t get it, too.
  • Your lifestyle. You’re more at risk for osteoporosis if you live a sedentary lifestyle, smoke cigarettes and drink an excessive amount of alcohol. Exercising and eating healthy foods, as well as getting enough calcium and vitamin D can help prevent bone loss.
  • Your family history. If your parents had osteoporosis, it’s more likely that you will have it, too. They may have gone undiagnosed, but if you know they suffered from broken bones or a curved spine, they probably had osteoporosis.
  • Your medications and current health. Certain medicines like steroids that are used to treat asthma, allergies or arthritis can cause osteoporosis, as well as other medical conditions like celiac disease or diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your medications and health issues to see if you might be more at risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention

The NOF recommends five steps for osteoporosis prevention and to improve your bone health:

  • Get the correct daily amount of vitamin D and calcium. If necessary, take a calcium supplement. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the right amount of supplement you should take based on your current eating habits.
  • Exercise regularly, focusing on weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Your bones get stronger when you make them work!
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use.
  • Get a bone mineral density test if you are a woman who has reached menopause or a man age 50 or older, or at least talk to your doctor about when you should get one.
  • Take the osteoporosis medication prescribed for you when the time comes to help prevent broken bones.

While there is no cure for osteoporosis at this time, a healthy lifestyle is key for osteoporosis prevention.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit

How to Deal with Personality Changes in Your Loved One

symptoms of alzheimer's diseaseWhen you think of Alzheimer’s disease, you typically associate the loss of cognitive functions, like memory and judgment. While the loss of these are very much symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, another very challenging issue for family members or caregivers is the changes in personality your loved one may face.

Because Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, it causes nerve cells in the brain to die which can change how a person acts and reacts to certain situations. As the disease progresses, the symptoms tend to worsen as well. However, it’s important to remember that your loved one will have good days along with the bad.

Personality and Behavior Changes due to Alzheimer’s

Understanding the personality and behavior changes your loved one may go through as part of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is important for learning how to correctly cope with these changes. Some of the common personality changes that may occur are:

  • Easily becoming worried or upset.
  • Acting disinterested in events or conversation.
  • Showing signs of depression.
  • Pacing often or even wandering away from home.
  • Displaying signs of aggression or violence, like hitting or biting.
  • Delusions or hallucinations; imagining things that aren’t really there.
  • Hiding things from you or accusing you of hiding things.

In addition to these changes, you might notice that your loved one may stop bathing or caring about how he or she looks. He or she may wear the same clothes for several days in a row, or wear inappropriate clothing for the time of year (like wearing a thick sweater during the summer or shorts during the winter).

Besides the changes in the brain, there are certain other triggers that could affect the personality or behavior of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, your loved one may simply feel anxious and confused, or sad and scared. Health issues such as lack of sleep or new medications can cause personality changes. Your loved one may have problems with his or her environment, like it’s unfamiliar, too loud or interrupting a routine.

Coping with Personality Changes

As a caregiver, it’s important to remember that the disease is causing these personality or behavior changes in your loved one, and to try not to take anything your loved one says personally. Your loved one is not purposely trying to hurt your feelings.

Remember to keep things simple for your loved one. Don’t overwhelm them by asking several questions at once, or try to argue or reason with the person; use redirection as much as possible. If you get angry or frustrated, count to ten and take a few deep breaths until you have calmed down. Try to focus on your loved one’s feelings rather than your loved one’s words. If you’re concerned about wandering, find a safe place for your loved one to walk.

If a behavior becomes serious, like your loved one is displaying signs of aggression or hallucinations on a regular basis, talk to a physician about your concerns. There are medications that can help treat these symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about memory care at American Senior Communities through our Auguste’s Cottage Memory Care Center, please visit

How Your Lifestyle Can Affect Your Diabetes Management

diabetes managementThe first step to proper diabetes management is being aware of your condition.  A diabetes diagnosis is a life-changing event, and knowing what can make your blood sugar levels rise and fall will help you learn to better control your disease.

It’s important to learn how your lifestyle can affect your diabetes management. Your diet is a major part of managing your symptoms, but there are many other choices you make that can affect how you’re managing your diabetes.

Lifestyle Choices and Diabetes Management

Talking with your doctor is key to coming up with a plan for managing your diabetes so you can lead as normal a life as possible- and it is possible! Here are a few other factors to keep in mind that can affect your diabetes management plan:

  • Food choices. Your diet plays one of the most important roles in managing your diabetes. Healthy eating is important for everyone, though, with or without diabetes! Learn the types of foods that affect your blood sugar levels; it’s not only the types of food you eat, but also how much and the combinations of foods you’re consuming on a daily basis. Carbohydrates will have the biggest impact on your blood sugar, so it’s crucial to know how many carbs your meals have. Meals should be well-balanced overall and feature a good combination of protein, starches, fats, vegetables and fruits.
  • Level of physical activity. Too often, we tend to live more sedentary lifestyles which can lead to obesity. Incorporating an exercise program into your daily routine can not only help you lose weight, but it can also help your body use insulin better so it can convert glucose into energy for cells. Find an exercise you enjoy doing and start off slowly- even just walking for 15 minutes per day will help. You can increase the amount of physical activity you get as you get more comfortable with it. Set a schedule to keep you on track, so you’re putting aside time to get exercise every day until it becomes routine.
  • If you’re on medications to help control your insulin and blood sugar levels, learn about what kinds of over-the-counter medications might affect your diabetes management. You should also know what time of day to take your medications and report any issues to your doctor, like if your blood sugar is consistently too high or too low.
  • Stress levels. Stress can alter blood sugar levels in a couple ways. People who are under a lot of stress may not take care of themselves as well as they should, skipping meals or exercise often. Also, stress hormones can directly alter blood sugar levels. To help manage the stress in your life, you can join a diabetes support group to help you cope and feel less alone. This can alleviate the stress and depression affecting your diabetes.
  • Eye, skin, foot and dental care. Because diabetes affects the tiniest blood vessels in your body, which tend to be in your eyes and nerves, early detection and treatment of any issues is key. Diabetes can cause people to lose their eyesight, gum problems, dry skin and nerve damage which can make you unable to notice pain in your feet. Maintain regular doctor appointments twice a year to make sure you are properly managing your blood glucose levels.

Diabetes is a manageable condition, and it’s still entirely possible to live your life to the fullest. Avoid complications by making the correct lifestyle choices for proper diabetes management.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit


Falls and Seniors: Recovery and Prevention Infographic

American Senior Communities is excited to announce the release of our latest infographic: Seniors and Falls: Recovery and Prevention.

Did you know that 1 out of 3 older adults fall each year? Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries like hip fractures and head trauma in those age 65 or older. In fact, the majority of hip fractures in seniors are caused by a fall. Seniors fall for a variety of reasons, whether from poor traction, balance problems, health issues or risk factors in the home.

After a fall, seniors will go through physical therapy in a rehabilitation center, where they’ll not only improve their strength and endurance, but receive information and education about how they can prevent a future fall. The home will need to be assessed by a caregiver and safeguarded so their aging loved one can live safely and accident-free.

Curious about preventing falls in the elderly? Check out our latest infographic and keep it as a reference for senior fall prevention for the aging loved one in your life.

Please feel free to share this infographic with the seniors and caregivers in your life. You might just help prevent an injury-causing fall from occurring to your loved one.

Falls and Seniors: Recovery and Prevention

American Senior Communities:Where Caring People Make the Difference

Click here to view ASC’s other great infographics!

Tips to Find the Best Assisted Living Community

find assisted livingOnce you’ve made the decision that your loved one’s needs would be better met in an assisted living community, with all the senior living choices available today, the undertaking of actually finding the right community might seem overwhelming. And finding the best assisted living community for your loved one isn’t a job that should be taken lightly.

It’s important to take your loved one’s individual needs and preferences into consideration when you begin your research. Assisted living communities offer a level of independence for their residents with the peace of mind that any assistance they may need with activities of daily living will be met. Residents will be provided amenities like housekeeping, transportation, meals and social events in a safe, secure environment.

How to Find Assisted Living for Your Loved One

The first step in choosing an assisted living community is to assess the needs of your loved one. Talk to your loved one about the type of community they would choose and learn which amenities are most important. Determine how much assistance they truly need so you can make an informed decision about the type of senior living option that will provide the correct level of care.

A few tips to find assisted living that meets your loved one’s needs include:

  • Visit several communities. By visiting several assisted living communities, you’ll be able to get a good feel for the options that are most important to your loved one. Bring your loved one with you if possible, so they are a part of the decision-making process.
  • Interact with the staff and residents. While visiting the community, talk to some of the staff as well as the residents. Determine whether the staff seems to genuinely care about the residents and that they take pride in their job. Ask some questions- like what’s the staff-to-resident ratio and if staff members are available around the clock. Also ask the residents about the types of social activities they enjoy. This way, your loved one will know if activities they enjoy are offered and if they’ll share common interests with their peers.
  • Take note of the décor. The environment should feel home-like and comfortable. Ask to see the different types of suites. Each community will offer different features; some may have individual apartments with small kitchenettes and private bathrooms, while others offer shared rooms. Check out the storage spaces in the rooms, as well as things like whether there’s an individual thermostat and lots of natural lighting, all things that will make your loved one’s life more comfortable.
  • Observe the safety features. Look for things like smoke detectors and sprinklers, secure entryways and emergency call systems. The grounds should be well lit and maintained, and the hallways should be wide enough for walkers and wheelchairs. Handrails should be available in the hallways, too, and grab bars in the bathrooms.
  • Check out the activities schedule. Most assisted living communities today offer a comprehensive events and activities schedule to keep residents active and engaged in life. Whether your loved one is interested in fitness classes, planned outings or weekly card games, find out what amenities and activities are offered to residents so you can be sure your loved one will find something that matches their interests.

The most important factor is to know your loved one will feel safe, comfortable and at home in their new living arrangement.

For more information about American Senior Communities Assisted Living locations, please visit

Find A Location

Within Miles

© 2014 American Senior Communities