Winter is coming and with the cold weather, and gloomy, short days you may find yourself feeling a little down. Experiencing the winter blues is more common than you may think. Nearly one in five Americans experience seasonal mood changes in the winter.
Seasonal mood changes may present themselves in a variety of ways. People with mild cases may just feel like they’re in a “funk,” but otherwise feel unaffected. However, in its most severe form, the winter blues may be more serious. Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly and appropriately shortened to SAD, is a clinical condition that may require a physician’s treatment. Familiarize yourself with the signs of SAD and the ways you can combat the winter blues.
Signs of the Winter Blues
Uncharacteristic lethargy and lack of desire to participate in hobbies and activities
Increase in appetite, cravings for unhealthy foods, and weight gain
Inability to concentrate
Oversleeping and ongoing feelings of sluggishness
Increased feelings of isolation or loneliness
Ways to Brighten Your Outlook
Light Therapy – It may sound silly, but this treatment, also called phototherapy, is simple and effective. Sit near a specialized light box that is designed to mimic summer light for 30-90 minutes in the morning. Your brain will respond by increasing the production of serotonin and epinephrine which will boost your mood.
Physical Exercise – Working out triggers the brain to produce endorphins to enhance your outlook and relieve stress.
Relaxation Exercises – An introspective approach may also help with the winter blues. Some studies suggest that mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi and meditation decrease the symptoms of depression.
Medication – Some SAD sufferers find relief in herbal remedies while some have more luck with prescription anti-depressants. Before starting a medication, consult your doctor.
When to Seek Medical Help
The majority of people feeling the winter blues can find safe ways to cope with their changing moods, but for some medical intervention may be necessary. Talk with your doctor about SAD if you feel depressed, fatigued and irritable for more than several days in a row. If these feelings prevent you from participating in regular activities or disrupt your life, it’s important to address them as soon as possible.
It’s easy to understand why we might not feel our best when winter comes. And the season can be particularly troublesome for seniors living alone. Remember to watch for the signs in yourself and loved ones. Stay safe this season and keep winter blues at bay.
Each day at Midwest Health, we have the privilege of working with seniors who inspire us in a hundred different ways. In the United States, seniors from the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomer generation represent nearly 25% of the population. Their voices are mighty and their impact on culture and society cannot be denied. Today’s seniors are statistically more conscientious, generous, and content than their younger counterparts, and proud of it!
Seniors are Most Likely To…
Year after year, seniors show up at the polls. They take their civic duty seriously and according to the AARP, they make up nearly 45% of the total electorate. Issues that are likely to sway senior voters include Social Security, healthcare costs, and caregiving.
Seniors are a huge force for good in their communities. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, 75% of all volunteers are members of the baby boomer generation. One in fours seniors regularly volunteer using their skills to support the arts, mentor students, provide disaster relief and so much more. Annually, seniors devote 4.6 billion hours to volunteering which has a financial impact of approximately $109 billion. Service to others is personally beneficial for seniors as well. Seniors who volunteer report feeling an increased sense of purpose as well as improved physical, mental and emotional health.
Seek Spiritual Connection
Finding a deeper connection with God is a priority for many seniors. A study by Pew Research finds nearly half of all seniors attend weekly religious services. Further, seniors are more likely than any other age demographic to pray daily, read scripture, and attend a group study. Subsequently, seniors are more likely to report a sense of spiritual peace and well being.
While 60% of adult Americans make some charitable contributions each year, seniors lead by example when it comes to giving. The average senior supports more charities, with more money, more often than their younger counterparts. Their gifts account for 69% of total annual giving in the United States according to a study published by the Blackbaud Institute. Causes that count on seniors include local social services, places of worship, health charities and children’s charities.
Are you happy now? If you’re 55 years old or better, it’s more likely that your answer will be yes. A study from the University of Chicago reports that the odds of being happy increase 5% with every 10 years of age. Perhaps this is thanks to an ability to count one’s blessings or maybe it can be attributed to having a broader perspective on life, either way, who are we to argue!
It’s a sad fact, but they’re out there. Scammers are clever, innovative, and willing to work every angle. If you’re not ready for them, you may quickly find yourself short-changed. Each year, fraud is estimated to cost older Americans around $36.5 billion. It’s a hefty chunk of change that we’re certain you’d prefer not to contribute to. Scams that target seniors are often designed to prey on fear, confusion, and doubt.
Outsmart scammers from the start by educating yourself on what a scam sounds like.
Listen For This:
“We’re the IRS and you haven’t paid!”
Calls or emails claiming that you haven’t paid your taxes, owe additional fees or are delinquent on a payment should be evaluated with extreme suspicion. Scammers using this tactic may ask for your personal or bank information to verify or settle your “debt”. Remember that the IRS will never call or email you to demand payment so just hang up. After ditching the caller or deleting the email, you can call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report your suspected fraud. If you’d like further reassurance that your affairs are in order, you may also contact the IRS to confirm that all is well.
We all want to believe that something big is waiting for us around the corner. After all these years, you deserve it! Scammers will try to prey on this dream by insisting you’ve won big and all you need to do is pay taxes, a fee or shipping and handling to receive your prize. By the time you cash that check or try to redeem that prize, the scammer is long gone and so is your money. Remember that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
“Your computer has a virus.”
You don’t have to be a computer whiz to outsmart this one. Legitimate companies, like Microsoft, will not know if you have a virus, much less call you to offer a solution. If someone is calling you posing as a security engineer and claiming your computer is at risk, they don’t have your best interests at heart. It’s best just to hang up.
“Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?”
This scam is particularly cruel. It uses your love for your family and your desire to help and protect them against you. Scammers will call from a number unfamiliar to you and pretend to be a family member in need. By asking open-ended questions like the one above, they get you to fill in the blanks for them. In the end, they ask for money to be transferred for overdue rent, car repairs or bail. If you find yourself uncertain, remember that no situation is so dire that it must be handled this moment. Hang up and take five minutes and call around to family to verify the story.
Five Ways To Avoid being Taken In by a Scam
Be Ready. Simply being aware of common scams makes you more likely to notice the signs and less likely to be a victim. The Attorney General and Department of Justice publish scam alerts for known issues. The AARP follows common scams and posts updates to protect seniors.
Keep an eye on your accounts. If you don’t already, begin tracking your credit score and bank accounts closely. Report any charges you don’t recognize.
Delay a day. Scammers will create a fear of missing out. They know that they have one shot, right now, to take you for a ride. Just delay a day and do some research.
Question incoming calls. Incoming callers that ask for bank info, Social Security numbers, Medicare info, or other data should be treated with suspicion and caution. Call the company in question back using a phone number provided from a public resource like the yellow pages or company website.
Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right, trust yourself.
It can be embarrassing to admit, but if you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam or fraud, speak up. When you report the scam or fraud, you may be helping the next person avoid falling prey to the same scammer.
Fall is here and that means flu season is upon us. The drier air of winter and spring makes our bodies increasingly receptive to viral infections from October until May. Seniors who catch the flu are at a higher risk for life-threatening complications including secondary infections, dehydration, muscle and tissue inflammation, as well as pneumonia. Don’t delay, now is the time to start taking precautions to lower your risk of contracting the flu.
Get a Flu Shot
“Adults 65 and older need a flu shot,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t mince words when it comes to the flu. The government agency promotes the flu vaccine as the “first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.” By protecting yourself, you protect everyone you come in contact with, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are also at higher risk for complications from the flu.
The CDC notes that seniors may benefit from a vaccination designed specifically for older adults. The Fluzone High-Dose and Flaud vaccines can lead to a stronger immune response in seniors. Ask your doctor if these vaccinations might be an option for you.
Insurance companies are required to cover flu vaccinations, but restrictions may apply so be certain to call your company to verify that your flu shot provider is covered.
The time is now, so don’t delay. Having your flu shot before the end of October offers you the best protection possible.
Boost Your Immune System
Your immune system is on duty 24/7, working to keep you healthy. While it works, here are a few ways you can lend a hand.
Eat lots of fruits and veggies to get a good dose of vitamin C
Get plenty of sleep
Practice Germ Warfare
It’s us against them and they’re everywhere! Keeping germs at bay keeps you safe. Include these practices in your first line of defense.
Washing hands regularly with hot water and antibacterial soap will stop germs in their tracks. Wash hands for about 20 seconds. Try humming the battle hymn of the republic to pass the time.
Cover your cough when germs are trying to escape. Thwart their plan by using a tissue, the crook of your elbow, or handkerchief to capture them.
Avoid germ hot zones. Keep your distance from others who are sick and stay home if you are sick.
Use every tool at your disposal to avoid the flu and stay healthy for yourself and those you love.
Have you met your favorite podcast yet? It’s a radio program without the radio; available on topics you choose, whenever you want to listen. Podcasts range from 5 to 90 minutes and cover just about any topic you can think of. Podcasts are free, educational, and entertaining! What more could you ask for?
Use this guide to help you find your next audio addiction.
Charming, wacky and wildly fun, Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly science fiction podcast that transports the listener to the small desert town of Night Vale. In each episode, intrepid local radio host ‘Cecil’ guides listeners through the town’s mysterious happenings. If you get hooked on this fictional town and want more, check out one of the Night Vale books by creator Joseph Fink.
Filled with heartwarming and eye-opening stories about everyday Americans told with extraordinary insight, This American Life cannot be missed. Often funny and always intriguing, each episode is a great group listen and just begs to be talked about.
When you watch TV you like…
The News: The Daily
If you have a half hour, you have time to get caught up on all the latest news. Created by the New York Times and aptly named, The Daily is a podcast that briefly covers all of the day’s news. If once a day is too much, check out the weekly On Point with Tom Ashbrook podcast. Or if once a day isn’t nearly enough, the NPR News Now will satisfy even the biggest news buff.
For listeners and readers who love to offer “Did you know…” tidbits at dinner parties, Stuff You Missed In History Class is a must-listen. The podcast covers influential people and events from who was the real Dracula to the history of the foreign food industry in America. The podcast boasts a catalog of nearly 10 years of topics, you’ll never be bored.
Frugal friends rejoice! To the delight of our wallets, personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey, offers a wealth of sound advice for everyday savings. It began as a radio show is now a hit podcast. Free practical advice for managing your money seems like a great start to achieving financial freedom.
There’s surely a podcast out there for you, no matter your religious affiliation. Our pick, Your Move with Andy Stanley, focuses on real-life, modern application of biblical values. Clocking in around 50 minutes, this easily relatable podcast is great for any person striving to be their best.
Just inside the doors of each Midwest Health senior living community, there is a quiet buzz of activity. On any given day, residents and visitors enjoy exciting activities, home-cooked meals, and compassionate care, provided by a tight-knit team of professionals. Much of the work that keeps the community running smoothly occurs behind the scenes with little fan fair. This Labor Day, we want to recognize all the people that make our communities home for so many seniors.
As the captain of the team, the Executive Director is responsible for the community at large. From maintenance to community member satisfaction, the Executive Director has a handle on it all. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations, the Executive Director acts as an ambassador to the city. They ensure that the senior living community is active and involved in local events and organizations. The term Executive Director is used in Independent Living and Assisted Living communities, while Skilled Nursing communities call this position the Administrator.
Administrative Assistant/Business Office Manager
The Administrative Assistant or Business Office Manager is often the first point of contact for potential residents and families. This person acts as the friendly face and voice of the community and as a result, they always have a smile to share. They field inquiries, manage documentation and accounting as well as provide administrative support to the Executive Director.
Filling the calendar with events to engage the mind, body, and spirit is the duty of the community’s Activity Director. From museum outings to group exercise, the Activity Director schedules all activities, fundraisers, events, and volunteers to keep you on your toes. Want to start a bridge club? The Activity Director can’t wait to help organize it!
The Therapy Team
The therapy team is often comprised of three unique therapy specialists. Working together, the therapy team will address challenges and create recovery plans for residents.
Physical Therapist make movement a priority for patients, seeking to restore function and reduce pain
Occupational Therapists address difficulties in completing the tasks of daily living and help to develop strategies and tools for patients to remain as independent as possible
Speech Pathologists focus on communication and speech concerns as well as any issues that may arise with swallowing
Resident Care Coordinator
Responsible for compliance at all levels, the Resident Care Coordinator (RCC) manages quality assurance for our care communities. Staying up-to-date with established care standards, as well as managing the implementation of new processes, the RCC works closely with nursing staff and assures that residents receive proper care.
Certified Medication Aides pass medication, document care given, and assist as needed in residents’ daily tasks
Certified Nurse Aides help residents with daily activities, record care, and work with other nursing staff to follow care plans
Licensed Practical Nurses communicate with physicians, family and patients, take vitals, and review records
Registered Nurses complete assessments, coordinate medication, and diet requirements, and ensures that all required medical supplies are available
Our cooks are responsible for creating the delicious and healthy meals prepared each day
Dietary Aides are responsible for the cleanliness of the kitchen and dining areas, keeping each area spic and span
Maintenance and Housekeeping
The maintenance and housekeeping are the keys to making our communities look their best! From laundry to light bulbs, we don’t know what we’d do without their can-do attitudes.
After years together, it’s easy to assume that you know your parent’s story from front to back. But not so fast! There may be a lot you don’t know. Do you know what your mom’s favorite class in college was? Who taught her to drive? Where did your dad reel in the biggest catch of his life? Who did he take to prom?
So many times our visits with loved ones get bogged down by catching up on current events that we miss out on knowing the full story of how we got here. We each hold experiences that even those closest to us might not know about because we’ve never thought to ask. Use these questions to dive beyond small talk and really get to know your parents. When you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve met a whole new person!
Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there? How has it changed?
Did you get into trouble growing up?
Did you have a favorite toy or prized possession? What happened to it and where do you think it is now?
When did you first feel like a “real” adult?
Were you raised in a church? What do you find most meaningful about your religion?
If you could go back in time and pursue a new career, what would it be?
What was your first job like? Are there any life-long lessons you learned from work?
What was the world like?
Which world events do you remember most vividly? How did they impact your day-to-day life?
When did you vote for the first time? Who did you vote for and why?
How did you get around? What transportation was available to you? When did you get your first car?
What public figures did you most admire and why?
How did you and your peers spend your free time when you were a young adult?
What has changed most in your lifetime?
How did you meet your partner?
What was your favorite thing about your partner? What attracted you to them?
Tell me about your favorite date or memory together. How did you feel?
Who was your best friend? Tell me some of your favorite memories with them.
What were your parents and grandparents like?
What traits did they pass down to you? Which are you thankful for and which do you wish they’d kept to themselves?
Tell me about the day I was born. What was going on in the world?
At first, asking these questions may feel strange, but stick with it and the conversation will begin to get easier. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information and follow up with questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What was that like?” The more you discover, the better you’ll understand this person that you’ve known all your life. You’ll find answers to questions you never knew to ask and enjoy a deeper connection to your parents and your own history.
It’s a simple sentiment with the power to encourage, uplift, and vanquish loneliness. So why don’t we remember to say it more?
Whether your parent lives independently or in a senior community, it’s important to reach out and remind them that they are often thought of and always loved.
Finding the Time
In an ideal world, we could be in touch with our loved ones every day. But in reality, finding spare time can be a challenge. Luckily, showing our parents they matter doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. With 5-15 minutes, you can remind your loved one just how much they mean to you.
How can you begin to express all the affection and gratitude you feel? How do you thank your parents for their impact on your life? It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just start small. Remember that grand gestures are not required.
Life is made of little things.
With a thoughtful note, a quick call, or simple email you can tell someone near or far that they matter. As the saying goes, it’s the little things that mean the most.
9 Little Ways to Say, “You matter to me.”
Send a postcard from home. On your next trip to the corner gas station, pick up a postcard. Fill the back with a favorite memory and drop it in the mail. Not only will the recipient love to read the message from you, they’ll probably get a kick out of your hometown picture on the front.
Stick ’em up – Grab a sticky note and throw it in your purse or car. Each time something reminds you of your loved one write it down. Save your stack of notes and the next time you visit, hide your notes in the medicine cabinet, in a favorite book, and in the pocket of a coat. You brighten their day each time they find a new note.
Joke around – Find a snappy one-liner or a silly kid’s joke and send it to your parent in a text, email message, or voicemail. If you want to let your loved one know you’re thinking of them, but don’t have much time to chat, you can use this service to be connected directly to their voicemail without their phone ringing.
Celebrate their support – Send a card to your parent on your birthday or anniversary. I know it sounds backward, but hear me out! These dates are easy to remember and it’s almost certain your mom or dad played a big part in these milestones. Use the card to thank them for supporting you, teaching you, or making you feel special.
Picture it – Snap a quick pic the next time something reminds you of them. Send it to them with a short note describing why it made you smile.
Status: Feeling sentimental – If your family is active on social media, post a status with a quick thank you for a specific sacrifice your parent made for you. Tag siblings and relatives and challenge them to share their memories and gratitude as well.
Random act of Amazon – If you don’t live near your parent, next time you’re shopping online, keep an eye out for a little something to send to them. Amazon Prime members can split their prime order and ship to multiple addresses for no additional charge. For ideas, check out Amazon’s gift finder that allows you to define who you’re shopping for and set a budget. No hassle at the post office, just a thoughtful surprise for your parent.
Ask for advice – When you ask for advice it shows your parents that you value their opinion, trust their guidance, and want to learn about their experiences. Next time you have a quick question about something they may know, skip Google and give them a call. It will boost their self-esteem and help to keep you up-to-date about what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Follow up with flowers – After your next visit, send your mom or dad flowers or a potted plant with a message to let them know how much you loved spending time with them. Each time they see the gift they’ll feel appreciated all over again.
We all want to be remembered, cherished, and loved.
The next time that your loved one comes to mind, share how much you care and don’t let the moment pass without finding a way to say, “You matter.”
April is Occupational Therapy Month! Occupational Therapists (OTs) work to ensure that you and your loved ones can accomplish the tasks of every day. OTs are an essential part of our Midwest Health rehabilitation teams. Working closely with physical therapy and speech therapy, OTs are key to success in rehabilitation.
What matters most to you? To create a customized plan for you, your Occupational Therapist will talk with you about your concerns and abilities. Within your evaluation, your OT will help to identify challenges and establish goals. One person may work toward stability while rising and mobility control. While another may focus on dexterity to button a shirt and dress independently. Whether the goals are big or small, the aim of occupational therapy is unique to each person.
An OT’s job doesn’t stop when you leave rehab. Your OT can assist your transition by providing an evaluation of your home or workplace. An OT can quickly identify potential hazards and make adjustments to the environment to avoid future injury. Optimize your living space with the help of an OT to help maintain independence, avoid a fall, and prevent setbacks.
The support of a caregiver can be key to recovery. Progress is a team effort and OTs may partner with caregivers to aid in implementing individual recovery plans. The OT will educate and guide caregivers to ensure that home treatment is consistent and focused.
Some daily activities are made easier by tools and specialized equipment designed to help you maintain your independence. Occupational therapists can identify the best tools to help with low vision, fall prevention, mobility, and other daily concerns. Tools may include grab bars and railings, custom designed clothing, exercise equipment, and much more.
Chronic Disease Management
Chronic conditions can be difficult to treat independently. Occupational therapists evaluate self-care routines to manage the treatment and prevention of conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and stroke. A therapy program may include developing beneficial habits, routines, and coping strategies to support long-term health.
Strategies for Dementia Safety
Through evaluation of patients and home environments, OT’s can help families and caregivers identify solutions for those affected by dementia. Providing structure, identifying concerns, and assisting in orienting patients in times of confusion can help patients maintain their independence safely.
Midwest Health would like to celebrate our team of occupational therapists and recognize them for their exceptional efforts and dedication to our residents.
When visitors walk into a Midwest Health senior living community, they are often surprised by what they see; a warm, friendly atmosphere, full of engaged, active seniors. This culture should be viewed as the standard in senior living, not an exception.