More than a dozen ways to live your best life – starting now
With promises of a “new you” for the New Year, the early days of January are often prime time for exploring the many advertised health tips and trends. Among the many ways to pursue wellness is the broader concept of aging well. It would behoove adults of any age to begin considering ways they can plan for an active and engaged lifestyle in their later years while also planning for smooth and healthy transitions into care when needed. From retirement living communities to in-home caregivers, educational programming and medical enhancements, there are a variety of ways seniors today are living their best lives. This month we took a look at some of the trends in senior living and the reasons behind them.
Retirement Living: Communities & Engagement
According to Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director at Vista Shores Assisted Living and Memory Care, aging in place options are increasingly attractive to today’s seniors. Because many communities offer a continuum of care from completely independent living to assisted living and memory care, residents have access to suitable levels of care at each life stage without having to relocate to other facilities. Additionally, access to healthcare is a driving factor in the popularity of communities such as Vista Shores.
“We have implemented on-site healthcare clinics that provide routine exams and yearly immunizations,” says Bartholomew. “Podiatrists, dentists and audiologists are common visitors at our community along with primary care physicians.”
In addition to aging in place, another good reason to pursue community living is to avoid the detrimental effects of loneliness that accompany isolation. According to D.J. Rankey, Executive Director of HomeLife in the Gardens, studies have shown that loneliness can cause a decrease in older adults’ ability to perform everyday activities and increase their risk of mortality.
“Typically, when older adults become socially isolated, they stop managing their medications, eating well and cease exercising,” says Rankey. “That is one of the benefits of moving your loved one into a community such as HomeLife in the Gardens. Our staff is trained and attentive to these changes, empowering them to provide immediate remedies with the best interest of residents and their families in mind.”
At Christwood, Director of Marketing Elizabeth Jackson says they have noticed a trend of younger seniors moving in, people who want to enjoy the outdoors without being responsible for upkeep.
“They appreciate the beauty of our 117 landscaped acres, perfect for long walks and bike riding, while still being close to nearby shopping,” says Jackson. “Many of our residents regularly volunteer their time with local nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity,” she says.
Technology is playing a new role in retirement communities as well, benefitting both residents and caregivers. One of the area’s newest retirement communities, The Blake at Colonial Club, is estimated for completion in fall of 2020 and will feature fine dining, landscaped courtyards, multiple activity rooms, a chapel, spa, coffee shop, piano bar and more.
“We are finding that seniors are more and more tech-savvy,” says Lauren Weber, Executive Director of The Blake at Colonial Club. The community has incorporated high-speed wireless internet connectivity throughout, and its activities program utilizes an interactive software program called It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L) that allows for the creation of customized profiles for residents. A state-of-the art staff call system enables residents to summon care experts wherever they are in the building, and a secured memory care community is equipped with an innovative motion sensor system that can be customized to the needs and preferences of residents.
At Lambeth House, President and CEO Scott Crabtree says that advances in technology will provide more opportunities to live fuller lives as we age. Lambeth House and Ochsner Health System recently worked together on a 12-month pilot study demonstrating how telehealth can effectively aid in the treatment of seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementia related illnesses. According to Crabtree, residents are equipped with iPads and FitBits from which information is gathered to help staff understand individuals’ unique challenges.
“The plan is to continue the study for an additional year, as it’s providing invaluable information for Lambeth House Memory Care residents and their families,” says Crabtree.
In addition to the integration of advanced technologies, communities are also integrating programming and activities that enhance residents’ lives. In November, Poydras Home forged a partnership with Southern Rep Theatre to launch Care for Creatives Drama Club, which meets for six consecutive weeks and engages residents living with dementia and their supporting family members.
“The techniques the team uses offer participants’ care partners new tools for coping with the day-to-day challenges of communication,” says Elena Cambre, Director of Memory Support and Day Program at Poydras Home. “Drama and improv are about meeting a situation in front of you, taking what’s given with an honest connection and making something new together. We are just getting started, but I can already see some amazing sparks coming to life within our group members,” she says.
At Peristyle Residences Memory Care Assisted Living Homes, seniors experience a home setting – a shared residential home – that enables them to enjoy the benefits of assisted living without giving up privacy and comfort.
“We realize that food connects us in many ways, and we strive to make dining one of the highlights of each day,” says Jason Hemel, Co-Owner of Peristyle. Award-winning chef Aaron Burgau of Restaurant Patois creates thoughtful, well-balanced menus – dietician approved – that focus on brain foods such as nuts and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, beans, greens, fruits and a wide array of nutrient-dense vegetables, both cooked and raw.
“We serve red beans on Mondays around our large dining room table,” says Hemel. “We’re proud to provide Southern cuisine that’s both delicious and health-focused.”
Another ways seniors are staying active and engaged is through the New Orleans People Program, which offers holistic classes on a 15-week semesters basis to those ages 50 and above. Classes range from exercise such as dance, yoga and strength training to art classes, games, genealogy, sign language and more.
“We offer classes to help improve your physical and mental health and a great way to make new friends,” says Steve Lenahan, Executive Director. “Our spring semester, starting January 21, has over 172 unique classes taught by over 125 community volunteers and experts in their field,” he says.
In-Home Care Trends
Plenty of seniors still choose to remain in their homes as they age, and services such as Home Care Solutions help make this possible. Offering non-medical, in-home caregiving services, Home Care Solutions provides assistance with activities of daily living and now offers Professional Aging Life Care Managers, who help counsel and support individuals and families who are overwhelmed by care decisions.
“In this unique model, the Care Manager develops a personalized plan, including the right mix of services, to ensure that a client’s needs will be addressed all while honoring their values and independence,” says Rachel Palmer, Community Liaison. Services might include making recommendations for care, coordinating and attending medical appointments, managing crisis situations, acting as a family liaison and evaluating residential options.
Looking & Feeling One’s Best
In addition to staying active and engaged at home and in the community, looking and feeling one’s best can be a part of aging well.
At Art & Eyes, Co-Owners Starr Hagenbring and Paul Wilcox love helping customers pick out the perfect glasses frames.
“The power of a cool frame is amazing,” says Hagenbring. “When I see an older person wearing a cool pair of frames, I think to myself, ‘That person has a grip on what’s going on!’” she says. According to Hagenbring, eyewear should enhance one’s look, not show the wear and tear of life.
At his Facial Plastic Surgery practice, Dr. Sean Weiss works with a number of seniors who want to turn back the hands of time. One popular treatment is RF Microneedling, which Dr. Weiss says is great for improving texture and tone, especially along the jawline and neck. Similar to standard microneedling, this technology delivers thermal energy that begins a wound-healing response causing skin tightening and contraction along with new collagen and elastin production.
At her Skin Body Health practice, Dr. Kelly Burkenstock assists a number of senior patients through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. According to Dr. Burkenstock, the therapy is helpful to both men and women who are looking to increase vitality, lose weight, and alleviate many of the symptoms associated with menopause and andropause.
“We have clients that seek us out in their 70s and 80s and those that seek us out in the 40s and 50s,” says Dr. Burkenstock. “My passion is to help clients look and feel their very best at any age,” she says.
While many people think varicose and spider veins are a cosmetic issue associated with aging, they’re actually symptoms of a more serious problem known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), a condition that occurs when valves in the leg veins fail to properly propel blood back to the heart. Left untreated, CVI can lead to a number of health problems.
At the Gitter Vein Institute, Dr. Richard Gitter emphasizes the need for proper diagnosis, which is conducted in-house through a standing venous ultrasound. After diagnosis, patient-friendly, cutting-edge technologies and medicines contribute to reduced recovery times and little to no downtime.
“It’s so gratifying to see a happy patient walk away feeling and looking healthier,” says Dr. Gitter.
Art & Eyes, 3708 Magazine St., 891-4494 ArtAndEyesNewOrleansLA.com
The Blake at Colonial Club, 7904 Jefferson Highway, Harahan , 737-7770, BlakeLiving.com/colonialclub
Christwood, 100 Christwood Blvd., Covington, (985) 898-0515, ChristwoodRC.com
Dr. Kelly Burkenstock Skin Body Health, 6600 Fleur De Lis, 888-2829, SkinBodyHealth.com
Gitter Vein Institute, 1 Galleria Blvd., Suite 100, Metairie, 833-0111, GitterVein.com
Home Care Solutions, 3421 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 502, Metairie , 828-0900, HomeCareNewOrleans.com
HomeLife in the Gardens, 1101 Aline St., 894-6100, HomeLifeGardens.com
Lambeth House, 150 Broadway St., 865-1960, LambethHouse.com
New Orleans People Program, 2240 Lakeshore Drive, 6201 Stratford Place, 284-7678, PeopleProgram.org
Peristyle Residences, 517-3273, PeristyleResidences.com
Poydras Home, 5354 Magazine St., 897-0535, PoydrasHome.com
Sean Weiss, 2201 Veterans Blvd., Suite 408, Metairie , 814-3223 (FACE), SeanWeissMD.com
Vista Shores, 5958 St. Bernard Ave., 288-3737, VistaShores.com