Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

While you don’t want to ponder the unthinkable happening to you or your spouse, any good Boy Scout will tell you that it pays to be prepared. That is why it is important for even the healthiest retiree to educate themselves on the early signs of Alzheimer’s.

One important thing is to understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Alzheimer’s is a disease, while Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, including, according to the Mayo Clinic, language difficulty, loss of recent memory or poor judgment.

Memory Loss – We can all be forgetful sometimes, and memory loss can happen in the aging process. But serious memory loss that affects your way of life is NOT normal. And don’t just brush it off if someone forgets the name of someone in his or her life one day but remembers the next. Memory loss can come and go day by day.

Loss of Motor Skills – Patients can often develop numbness in their limbs, which makes it difficult for them to complete tasks that require fine motor skills.

Making Odd Decisions – According to health.com, “The earliest changes in judgment usually involve money. So people who were normally very cautious with their finances will start spending in unusual ways, like giving money to unworthy strangers like telemarketers, or withholding money they should pay, because they incorrectly believe their utility company is suddenly untrustworthy.” Be on the lookout for odd behaviors that seem out of character and changes in mood and personality, including withdrawing from things you or your loved one enjoys.

Difficulty Completing Tasks – Daily tasks can become a struggle to those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. They may be unable to remember how to do things that were second nature to them or be able to complete them but in much slower a time period.

Anger and Mood Swings – Alzheimer’s is a frustrating disease to anyone it touches, and it can lead to a person feeling frustrated and lashing out. Confusion about what is happening can cause them to be on edge and have high levels of anxiety.

Difficulty with Distance, Color, Etc. – Some Alzheimer’s patients over or underestimate the distance between two objects and show difficulty distinguishing differences in color.  They can also get easily confused with times.

Losing Things, Including Themselves – Patients often find themselves misplacing items. And health.com also says, “Unfortunately, about 60% of people with dementia have a tendency to walk off, wander aimlessly, and become lost, often repeatedly.”

Loss of Ability to Take Care of Themselves – Someone with early Alzheimer’s may not make it to the bathroom or remember to eat or bathe.

There are MANY other signs of Alzheimer’s, and many can also be signs of other issues. If you notice any of these signs in you or a loved one, be sure to see a doctor. Our medical offices are open to Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community residents at all times, helping you diagnose and manage difficult diseases such as Alzheimer’s. To schedule an appointment at our medical offices, call, X8480, or call X8496 for our community nurse.

Take Precautions in Summertime Heat

Summertime is full of wonderful opportunities to enjoy beautiful weather with friends and family. But with sunny days come some extra health risks for senior citizens. Plus, preexisting conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can make you extra prone to heat-related issues. Here are some things to keep in mind as you enjoy your summer!

Protect skin from the sun. You should wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. You can also choose to wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt. If you do happen to get a sunburn, soothe skin with aloe vera and take either aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.

Enjoy some cool treats. When the weather is sweltering, it can help to indulge in some sweet treats. There are plenty of iced options for those who have special dietary needs, such as sugar-free offerings. Some treats you should avoid? Anything including caffeine or alcohol.

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated on hot days is crucial to being and feeling healthy. You should aim to drink at least 8, 8 oz. glasses of water each day. Not a fan of water? Sports drinks are also great for helping you stay hydrated.

Examine your medicines. Some medicines make you more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Be sure to check the labels on your medications and check with your doctor about any precautions to take.

Wear sunglasses. Not only can the sun damage the skin on your eyes, but your actual corneas and lenses, too. To avoid any damage, you should look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.

Watch for heat stroke. If you or someone else begins to feel nausea or dizziness, it may be heat stroke. If heat stroke begins, it is important to get this person in a cool area, have them lie down, remove any tight fitting clothes, apply ice packs and call for medical attention. Don’t take any chances!

Check in with friends and family. If you’re going to be doing an activity outside all day, be sure to stay cool and let friends and family know where you are. They will feel better knowing that you’re happy and safe.

Remember, if you are suffering from any heat-related problem, you can visit Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community’s health care center – located right on campus!

Keeping in Touch with Far-Away Family

While Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community is conveniently located to the best that Pittsburgh has to offer, it’s not always located as closely to friends and family. While their lives may take them to the next city or the next state, technology has made it easier than ever to keep in touch with family online.

While nothing can replace the feeling of a hug from a loved one, here are some ways to keep in touch until that next hug comes around:

Facebook: According to Forbes, 11% of Facebook users are senior citizens. So it makes sense to contact your friends and family on a platform that they use often! On Facebook it is easy to share posts, messages, photos, video, and more! You can even put people onto lists so that you can check what specific groups are up to, like “My Bowling League” or “Close Friends.”

Pinterest: Disappointed that you won’t be able to help your daughter plan a dinner party? Wish you could help design your grandson’s nursery? Collaborative Pinterest boards are a wonderful way to share images and links with others. Pinterest is a social network that allows you to save or “Pin” images and links from websites and save them onto boards. So, you can create a collaborative “Recipes” board and add your best friend so you can share with one another and never feel more than a kitchen’s length away.

Flickr: If you’re not so sure about sharing your photos on social media, you can use a photo-sharing site like Flickr. Send links to friends and family and easily update your images so they always know what you’re doing here at Sherwood Oaks!

Email: Email is the closest you can come to sending a letter online. While social networks often keep us up to date with friends and family in short and quick messages, it’s nice to sit down and write lengthy letters to those we care about. Plus, it’s wonderful to skim through all of those bills and spam and stumble upon an email from an old friend.

Video chat: There are a lot of options out there when it comes to video chat, the most popular being Skype. With Skype, you can make a video call to another user so you can see and hear them in just minutes. It’s great for checking in to see your grandchild’s latest art project or have your friend show you the face she made at her surprise birthday party. You can even show someone your screen or chat during your call. Other video chat options are Oovoo and Google Hangouts, both giving you the option to video chat with multiple people.

Online gaming: Whether you play through Facebook or a website like Pogo, you can have a blast with friends and family by playing games online. There are also plenty of games that you can download for free if you have a smartphone or tablet – like Words With Friends or Ruzzle. Don’t stop family game night because of distance.

At Sherwood Oaks, we love to help keep our residents connected with the important people in their lives. If your friends and family can’t stop by for a visit, be sure to use these tips to keep in touch!

Going Green at Sherwood Oaks

At Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community, we take responsible energy use and the preservation of the environment very seriously. Going green not only helps the environment, but also can help lower energy costs and make you healthier in the process. Here are a few things that we do in order to reduce energy use and contribute to a healthier environment in the Pittsburgh area:
  • We have a recycling program, which includes recycled newspaper, plastic and glass
  • We also send used batteries and computer ink to be recycled
  • There are light sensors in our community center rooms to reduce chances that a light is left on
  • The porch light switches in independent residences are marked so residents won’t accidently leave their porch light on over night
  • Our maintenance department monitors water bills for unusual activity that could indicate an issue such as a leak
  • We’ve done LED lighting upgrades in the community center
And here are some very simple ways that our residents can take going green into their own hands:
  • Make sure that any appliances you might purchase are energy efficient with the energy star label
  • Use reusable cloth bags at the grocery store
  • Purchase a plastic or glass water bottle to refill instead of buying disposable water bottles
  • Pay any bills you may have online
  • If you’re not using an appliance, unplug it
  • Donate used items to thrift stores rather than throwing them out
  • Buy produce from local Pittsburgh growers (make a fun day trip to the Strip district!)
  • When running errands, carpool with a friend from Sherwood Oaks

Together, we truly believe that we and our residents can make a difference when it comes to going green!

Are Retirement Communities Accredited?

Sherwood Oaks retirement community is accredited, even though most retirement communities are not.  It takes extra effort on our part, but we feel that the benefit of being accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and Continuing Care Retirement Community (CARF/CCAC) is worth the extra effort. CARF/CCAC is an independent accrediting organization that provides comprehensive quality standards to senior living communities.

Achieving this accreditation signifies a commitment to meeting recognized quality standards.  By continuously improving our services we can improve the quality of life for residents and their families.  Click on this link to read about the criteria for accreditation by CARF/CCAC.

Give yourself a “Wellness Checkup”

Experts tell us that there are several components to feeling well, including the emotional, spiritual, cognitive, social, physical, and vocational aspects of life.  As we look forward to a future in retirement, it may be a good time to look at strengthening the areas of life that were neglected during working years so that we can achieve maximum satisfaction and enjoyment from retirement.  Sherwood Oaks is an active Pittsburgh retirement community with a state of the art fitness center.  Bill Burtner, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager, can custom design a fitness program just for you as well as suggest some easy ways to stay active.  Click here to meet Bill and give us a call at (800) 642-2217 to schedule a tour of our Fitness Center and talk to Bill about how he can help you on your way to your “Wellness Checkup”.

Understanding the Differences Between Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, is generally a senior community which offers housing, services and nursing care, usually all in one location.

In order to attain a CCRC certificate, an organization applies to the PA Department of Insurance for a “certificate of authority.” If granted, the organization is able to use the title of continuing care retirement community and qualifies for certain tax benefits.

Mark Bondi, President and CEO of Sherwood Oaks, advises seniors to be very well informed when selecting a CCRC for their retirement living. “The tax benefits have spurred a marked increase in the number of communities applying for CCRC certifications during the past five years. Simply having a certification and calling yourself a CCRC doesn’t really mean much,” Bondi cautions. “The CCRC certification does not demand any set of standard services or amenities.”

So, how can seniors be sure which continuing care retirement community is right for them? “The key is knowing that the services that will be rendered to you are governed by the written agreement between the community and the resident. These agreements must be read carefully to determine exactly what is—or isn’t included,” says Bondi.

When John and Harriet Burress began researching retirement communities, they prepared to meet the challenge.  “We determined our priorities, and set out to find a community that met them. We visited five different facilities at least four times each,” said Harriet. “Selecting a place to retire is a very big decision and an important financial investment. We did our research accordingly before selecting Sherwood Oaks,” said John.

CCRCs offer many different types of agreements. Sherwood Oaks is a Type A community. The most commonly offered CCRC agreements are:

  • Type A (Extensive) Agreement – includes housing, residential services, amenities and unlimited, specific health-related services with little or no increase in monthly payments except to cover normal operating costs and inflation adjustments.
  • Type B (Modified) Agreement – like A above, except that a specified amount of health care services are included. After the specified amount of health care is used, a discounted rate or full per day rates for required health services will be charged.
  • Type C (Fee-for-Service) – Includes housing, residential services and amenities for the fees stated in the agreement. Access to health care is guaranteed, but it may be required at full fee-for-service rates.
  • Rental Agreement – Allows residents the opportunity to rent their housing and provides, but does not guarantee, access to health care services paid on a fee-for-service basis.

Bondi describes an example to illustrate the big differences between CCRC agreements. “If a resident becomes ill at Sherwood Oaks, our Type A agreement offers multiple levels of care at no additional cost allowing the residents’ needs to be met on campus as they change. Other types of agreements do not. Residents who fall ill at other CCRCs will need to find a health provider and arrange for payment of health services on their own. And these payments may be significant—costs for one year of skilled nursing services can exceed $70,000.”

John and Harriet Buress gathered information about various CCRCs and evaluated health services, living spaces, staffing, security features and spoke with residents on their visits. “We selected Sherwood Oaks because it best provided for our needs. The agreement was clear and understandable and we have been overwhelmed with friendly faces and the professional and helpful staff,” the Buresses said.

After only two months, John and Harriet Buress are happy to say that they already feel at home at Sherwood Oaks. “It’s so comforting to know that our healthcare, including assisted living are here on campus and guaranteed. We’re glad we came to Sherwood Oaks when we’re healthy enough to enjoy life, friendships and fun.”