Saint Simeon’s Senior Living Blog

Explore our senior living community blog for resident stories, community happenings and helpful resources about Saint Simeon’s. Contact us today to schedule your visit!

 

Animals have offered companionship to humans throughout history, providing unconditional love and support when we may need it most. Think about how happy it made you to see your faithful dog run up to greet you at the end of a long day, or how calm you felt as you stroked your cat’s fur and listened to him purr contentedly.

Some studies suggest that spending as little as 15 minutes bonding with an animal can promote positive hormonal changes within the brain. Petting and playing with animals produces the “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, and decreases your stress levels. Pets also provide additional emotional, mental and physical health benefits to those of all ages. 

The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy for Individuals Living with Dementia

These health benefits can be especially important for seniors, and for this reason, senior living communities across the nation incorporate animal assisted therapy into their regularly-scheduled activities offered to residents. These animals promote health and healing for seniors with a variety of chronic conditions, help provide emotional stability during times of distress, improve socialization, and even provide some much-needed physical activity.

For individuals living with dementia, pet therapy programs do more than just brighten the days of these residents; they also provide additional important health benefits. Animals make wonderful companions to those in any stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, as they do not judge behavior and actions. These special creatures also have a way of knowing when some residents may need some extra attention, and it’s common for these individuals to form strong bonds with the therapy pets.

The main benefits researchers have discovered regarding pet therapy for those with dementia include:

  • Decreasing anxiety and agitation. A 2002 study revealed that after memory care residents spent time with a therapy dog, they experienced less anxiety, agitation and exhibited fewer negative behavioral changes throughout the day. More recently, in 2008 another study found that individuals living with dementia experienced a variety of psychological benefits due to the therapy animal’s unconditional acceptance, which increased their self-esteem and allowed them to interact socially in ways they previously could not.
  • Improving mood and reducing depression. You know how it’s difficult to stay sad when a dog licks your face, or when a cat head-bumps you asking to be pet? For seniors with dementia, the soothing presence of a pet provides the companionship and unconditional love so many of them crave.
  • Boosting physical activity levels. Animals provide individuals living with dementia the opportunity to stay active in small ways that can make a difference. For instance, going for a brief walk around the community, tossing a ball, or simply stroking fur are all ways animals improve activity levels.
  • Improving nutrition. After visiting with an animal, residents tend to eat more, leading to what may be much-needed weight gain over time. As an added bonus, these residents require fewer nutritional supplements, which reduce some of the costs associated with their care.

The “Chief Executive Cuddler” at Saint Simeon’s: Simone the Therapy Dog

The mascot of Saint Simeon’s, Simone the Golden Retriever, is everyone’s dog and brightens the lives of residents daily. She has a way of reminding residents of pets they used to have, and she spends time in both our Memory Center and other parts of the community. We also have other therapy dogs visit regularly to enhance residents’ overall quality of life.

Additionally, Saint Simeon’s recognizes the benefits animals and nature can have on residents’ quality of life. Our campus, located just a few miles from downtown Tulsa, boasts beautiful grounds with ample opportunities for birdwatching, as well as relaxing fish ponds, walking and rolling paths, and vibrant flora that encourages residents to get outside and enjoy nature. Watch this video featuring Flora and Fauna Coordinator, Kathy Hinkle, to learn more about the benefits plants and animals offer to seniors at Saint Simeon’s.

You’ll find the compassionate, individualized memory care and the support your loved one needs at the Memory Center at Saint Simeon’s. We offer a comfortable, home-like setting staffed by professionals specifically trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, with innovative services and amenities that allow residents to thrive. For more information about applying for admission to our memory center, please contact us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Simeon’s Foundation is thrilled to announce that Western Days 2017: Seasons of Change was a huge success, raising $463,000 in support of Saint Simeon's. The event, held on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Cox Business Center, marked the 21st annual milestone of the fundraising event.

Carol and Shawn Lawhorn served as Event Chairs, with Lisa and Tom Schooley serving as Patron Chairs. Marcia and Ron MacCleod served as Auction Chairs. Ellen C. and Donald B. Atkins were celebrated as Honorary Chairs. The Atkins are among the most long-standing, loyal, and committed supporters of Saint Simeon’s. 

The Pioneer Spirit Award was presented to Saint Simeon’s Resident Anne Evans. Saint Simeon’s applauds Anne Evans for her pioneering spirit in seeing her husband, the late Father Bob Evans, through his call to ministry and many changes in life.

Hundreds attended Western Days 2017: Seasons of Change, which featured a marvelous silent auction, as well as the always entertaining live auction.  Live auction items ranged from a vacation for two in Charleston, South Carolina, a six-night stay for up to 10 in Angel Fire, New Mexico, an elegant evening at Polo Grill for 10 with paired wines, and a dinner for 10 prepared and served by local Episcopal priests.

The evening also featured the traditional General Store stocked with handmade items from Saint Simeon’s residents, and a delicious dinner. In addition, Western Days attendees were entertained by musical performances from Shelby Eicher and his band mates.

Wildcatter Underwriting sponsors of Western Days were Caron and Shawn Lawhorn.

Oil Baron Presenting Sponsors included The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma – The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward J. Konieczny, E. L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation/David Hogan, and William S. Smith.

Tool Pusher sponsors included Phyllis and Steve Anderson, Ellen C. and Donald B. Atkins, Phyllis and George Dotson, John W. and Jerry E. Marshall Foundation, Ralph and Frances McGill Foundation, ONE Gas, Sherman E. Smith Family Foundation, and Trust Company of Oklahoma.

Driller sponsors included gifts from Mandy and Blake Atkins, Bank of Oklahoma, John and Lucy Barker, William L. Berry, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Debra Cadieux, H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trusts, The DeKraai Family Fund, Don Carlton Honda, The Hille Foundation, Kelly and Tony Jezek, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Mary and Rob Martinovich, ONEOK, and Lisa and Tom Schooley.

Dealing with major life changes is difficult at any age. For seniors who intend on remaining in their homes for as long as possible, moving to an assisted living community might present certain extra challenges.

However, if you’ve started to notice that your loved one’s health has been declining, that social isolation is an issue or that his or her memory is not what it used to be, these are all clear signs that an assisted living community could improve quality of life. It’s important to note that your loved one’s health and safety should not be at risk if the individual wishes to continue living independently in the home.

5 Tips for a Successful Move to an Assisted Living Community

Even when moving to assisted living is the best option to allow loved ones to continue to thrive, the decision to make the transition was undoubtedly not one that was taken lightly. It’s common for new residents to go through an adjustment period as they get settled into their new lifestyle, getting accustomed to a new routine, meeting their neighbors and the staff and getting used to the change in their living conditions.

Remember that your loved one may be going through a mourning period of sorts. However, missing their long-time home and all the memories attached to it will dissipate in time. Some seniors may even be worried their independence will become compromised, not realizing at first all the ways the daily help they’ll receive will actually improve their quality of life.

Here are five tips to ensure your loved one successfully adapts to life in the assisted living community:

  1. Stay positive. Although moving to assisted living was a major life change for all parties involved, it’s important to encourage your loved one to fully embrace his or her new lifestyle. Studies show that seniors who receive the right level of assisted living care ultimately feel a boost in their independence.
  2. Personalize the living space. Ease some of the feelings of loss your loved one is experiencing by ensuring the new accommodations feel as homelike as possible. Bring favorite items from their old home, such as favorite photos, a few knick-knacks, the cozy blanket from the bed, etc. Replicating the space as much as possible can help create a familiar space that makes the transition easier.
  3. Encourage participation in social activities. Social engagement is vital to a happy, healthy life, and assisted living communities truly go above and beyond by offering activities for all interests. While you want to allow your loved one the opportunity to make their own decisions, you should still encourage participation in the activities the community offers.
  4. Make frequent visits in the beginning. After the move, provide your loved one with a little extra attention, support and TLC throughout the initial adjustment period. Let loved ones know you’re right there with them every step of the way, and take some time to visit more frequently during the first month or so.
  5. Try to avoid being overprotective. At the same time, it’s important to allow new residents ample time on their own to settle in. This provides the opportunity for them to feel in charge of their own decisions, even if it’s about something as simple as what activity they’d like to join in or where to place personal items in their new space. Becoming too overprotective may prevent loved ones from adapting successfully on their own.

Discover the Right Level of Assisted Living Care at Saint Simeon’s

At Saint Simeon’s you’ll find a variety of senior housing options designed to meet you or your loved one’s specific needs. Check out this video to discover which area is right for you, from independent living in our charming cottages to skilled nursing care for short-term stays.

The Dotson Family Assisted Living community at Saint Simeon’s offers three levels of care based on you or your loved one’s specific needs. Additionally, we offer a fourth level of care, Assisted Living Plus, the highest level of assisted living care in Tulsa. For more information about applying for admission to our assisted living community, please watch this video or contact us today.

It happens to the best of us as we get older. We get all the way to the grocery store, realize we’ve left our shopping list at home and are unable to recall more than two items on that list. Or, we walk out of the mall and wander from aisle to aisle, with no idea where we’ve parked the car.

These momentary lapses in memory are jokingly referred to as “senior moments.” Experts agree that in general, there is no need to become alarmed over these instances of minor forgetfulness. However, when memory loss is combined with other issues, such as changes in personality or mood, or when it begins to disrupt daily life, there is a strong chance something more serious is occurring.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. A progressive disease, Alzheimer’s symptoms gradually worsen over time as brain function continues to decline. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases.

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, healthy lifestyle choices and certain new treatments may delay some of the symptoms. Receiving the proper amount of care can also improve quality of life in individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Normal Memory Loss vs. Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Normal aging leads to changes in the brain, especially in regard to memory and learning. Molecules known as free radicals may damage neurons, while other neurons simply shrink as you age. High blood pressure can also damage brain neurons. These conditions can make it difficult to recall recently-learned information, like remembering your daughter’s new friend’s name.

However, the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease is more severe and affects larger regions of the brain. This specific type of dementia occurs when high levels of proteins inside and outside brain cells make it difficult for the cells to stay healthy and communicate correctly with each other. Alzheimer’s ultimately leads to the death of nerve cells and the loss of brain tissue.

As a comparison, normal memory loss associated with aging includes:

  • Walking into a room and forgetting what you needed
  • Misplacing items, like your glasses, purse, etc.
  • Forgetting the name of a person you just met
  • Becoming easily distracted, moving from project to project without ever completing one
  • Missing an appointment because it was not written down on a calendar
  • Calling a loved one by the wrong name- like addressing your daughter by your sister’s name
  • Trouble retrieving information that’s on the tip of your tongue

Alzheimer’s symptoms, on the other hand, include:

  • Getting disoriented or lost in familiar places
  • Mixing up the words for everyday objects
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks, like balancing a checkbook or putting on clothes
  • Forgetting how to do activities you’ve always enjoyed
  • Displaying poor judgment, or falling prey to a senior scam
  • Forgetting a loved one’s name altogether
  • Withdrawing socially from friends and family
  • Difficulty recalling information about a very recent event

In this video, John H. Schumann, M.D., President of the University of Oklahoma – Tulsa shares more about how to tell if your loved one is experiencing these signs of Alzheimer’s disease or is just aging normally.

Nationally-Recognized Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care at Saint Simeon’s

Find compassionate, individualized memory care and support at the memory center at Saint Simeon’s. We offer a comfortable, home-like setting staffed by professionals specifically trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, with innovative services and amenities that allow residents to thrive. For more information about applying for admission to our memory center, please contact us today.

Saint Simeon’s recently unveiled a new program called Music and Memory, sponsored by LeadingAge. Life Enrichment staff members interview Memory Center Residents about their musical tastes, and they then load iPods for the Residents with the exact songs and artists the Residents enjoy. “It is very personalized,” said Chris Gruszeczki, Administrator.

Music is used every day in Residents’ lives as a calming technique, a way to help them wake up in the morning, or even a way to get them to come out of their shell. “One Memory Center Resident wasn’t talking at all,” Gruszeczki said. “We gave him a CD player with some of his favorite music in it, and afterwards, he conversed for the first time with our staff.”

Gruszeczki said that while former Residents enjoyed music from the ‘20s and ‘30s like big band, today’s Residents span a number of decades and like music from the ‘40s and ‘50s, and even the Beatles and ‘70s rock and roll.

“Music touches everyone – no matter what their condition or cognitive status,” Gruszeczki said. “Residents in the late stages of dementia may not talk anymore, but they can still sing. People who can’t do anything for themselves will still tap their toe along to music.”

 

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