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5 Senior Yoga Stretches to Improve Balance

yoga for seniors

Yoga is an often-overlooked tool for helping seniors improve their balance. Performing some simple yoga exercises each day can not only improve balance and muscle mass, but can also build confidence, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and boost reflexes, helping seniors stay mobile and reduce falls. If you or a senior family member is a beginner to yoga, here are five simple exercises recommended by our assisted living community in Cape May County, NJ!

What is yoga?

Before we dive right in, let’s take a look at what yoga actually is, since there are some misconceptions about this practice.

Yoga is an ancient discipline that originated in India. The practice combines exercises with breathing techniques to work the body, as well as the mind. Thus promoting correct posture, flexibility, and coordination. Practices can be very rigorous and demanding or they can be gentle and relaxing, bringing your body into harmony with the surrounding environment. The wonderful thing about yoga is that it can be adapted to anyone’s needs, age or capability, making it ideal for everybody!

The last thing to remember is that yoga, like any exercise, takes a long time to master. With that said, it’s important not to overexert yourself or push yourself too hard, as that’s when injuries happen. Work with an instructor who can help you settle into the poses easily and make sure you are doing them correctly. As long as you are feeling the stretch in the right places and work consistently towards improving, you’re on your way to becoming a true yogi!

Yoga exercises for seniors or beginners

  1. Mountain pose

This is a very simple pose (known as asana) that helps with balance by grounding the body through the feet.

  • Stand tall on a yoga mat with your feet together (heels and toes touching).
  • Engage your abdominal muscles, pulling your stomach in.
  • Relax your shoulders so they lie flat on your back and away from your ears.
  • Flex your leg muscles, feeling the stretch in your calves and thighs.
  • Hold your arms straight down at your sides, turning the inside of your elbows towards the front of your body and keeping your palms facing your thighs.
  • Breathe slowly and hold the pose steady for five breaths.
  1. Tree pose
  • Start by standing in Mountain pose. For this balancing and hip-strengthening pose, you should feel free to use a chair, wall or rail for support.
  • Turn the foot of your right leg outward and raise the foot until you can place it flat against the left thigh. Push against the foot with your left (standing leg) thigh.
  • Fire up the legs and glutes, pulling in the abdominal muscles and holding the shoulder blades flat against your back to keep yourself upright.
  • You can bring your palms together in front of your sternum if you have sufficient balance.
  • Hold for five breaths.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  1. Butterfly pose
  • Sit on your mat, keeping your back straight, your spine long and your abdominal muscles flexed. If you are struggling to keep your posture, sit on a folded blanket or foam block for more height and to open the hips.
  • Bring your feet together in front of you so that the bottoms of your feet touch, and let your knees sink out to the side, forming a diamond shape in front of you.
  • Try to bring your heels in as far towards you as you can while keeping a straight posture.
  • Wrap your hands over the tops of your feet.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then bring your face down toward your feet, letting your back round gently.
  • Try to keep your knees as close as possible to the floor.
  • Take five slow breaths.

You can also do this pose lying on your back.

  1. Bird dog pose
  • Start by kneeling on the mat on all fours (feel free to add more padding/a blanket under the knees if uncomfortable). Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders, your knees are directly under your hips, and that your spine is straight.
  • Stretch one arm straight out in front of you, and stretch the opposite leg straight out behind you. Keep looking down with your neck in line with your spine.
  • Move slowly, controlling each motion. Breathe out as you lift up and outwards, and breathe in as you bring your arm and leg back down.
  • Repeat with the opposite side.
  • Repeat both sides five times.
  1. Seated spinal twist
  • Sit upright on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Bring your right knee up to your chest, and cross it over your left leg, so that your foot is flat on the floor next to the left thigh.
  • Bend your left leg so that your heel comes to rest by your right glute. This will look a bit like a knot. Try to keep your hips square and rest your glutes on the floor. If you can’t, put a folded blanket under the lifted hip for some extra support.
  • Reach your right arm behind you (don’t over stretch, just bring it to the floor), raise your left arm up and wrap it around your right knee, so you are holding it closer to your chest.
  • Breath in, then exhale, turning toward the right. Keep your chin up and try to keep your shoulders square by pushing the left arm’s shoulder blade flat and away from your ears.
  • Hold for between 30 seconds and one minute and come out slowly.
  • Repeat with the other side.

All of these poses can be modified in a sitting position. You can find videos online that will show how to do this. Before you start any exercise program it’s important to consult with your doctor.

The Shores is part of the United Methodist Communities network, providing exceptional care and socialization opportunities for seniors in South Jersey. Please contact us to learn more about our community or visit our website at https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

The Importance of Respiratory Therapy

As we age, we can become more vulnerable to health conditions that affect the lungs, including the common cold, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), influenza, asthma, bronchitis, and more. These conditions are often exacerbated by smoking, air pollution, and pollen.

Further, they can become very concerning for seniors because they tend to be more severe and more difficult to recover from, especially if other medical conditions are already present. As a result, more intensive care is often needed, including prolonged hospital stays. With this in mind, respiratory therapy is important to improving the quality of life for seniors with chronic respiratory conditions – something that has been proven even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Here are some benefits of senior respiratory care from our short-term rehabilitation team in South Jersey.

What are the benefits of respiratory therapy for seniors?

This rehabilitative therapy focuses on improving lung function, and is especially helpful to seniors because it:

  • Reduces the need for hospitalization/re-hospitalization
  • Helps boost a faster recovery
  • Improves general health and wellbeing
  • Reduces pulmonary complications

At United Methodist Communities at The Shores, our specialists and associates form a team that provides around-the-clock, holistic care to short-term rehab residents. Our team manages symptoms to increase comfort, improve sleep quality and take strain off the respiratory, cardiovascular and immune systems. Some of these vital tasks include monitoring and managing medications, preventing existing infections from worsening, and detecting more severe symptoms before cases worsen.

What does respiratory therapy look like for seniors?

So, what can you expect during respiratory therapy? All treatments are tailored to the resident’s specific needs, and can include:

  • Use of assisted breathing equipment and medication, including nebulizers, oxygen, CPAP (Constant Positive Airway Pressure) and BIPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, and inhalers.
  • Physical exercises and manipulation (massage) to strengthen the diaphragm, release blockages and mucous, and improve breathing.
  • Administering tests to evaluate lung performance, how much oxygen is being taken into your bloodstream, and how well you are breathing.
  • Education and useful tips on how to recognize and prevent breathing trouble. This includes information on vaccines and flu shots, and other preventative measures like prioritizing a healthy diet, quitting smoking and more.
  • Information and guidance on how to follow a treatment plan at home, signs to watch for that indicate a doctor’s visit is necessary, and instructions on how to use respiratory equipment at home.

Signs that someone can benefit from respiratory therapy

A senior may benefit from this type of therapy if:

  • They suffer from any health condition that impacts lung function, from the common cold or asthma to pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea or COPD.
  • They are struggling to recover from a recent illness, suffering from chronic coughing, breathing trouble, excessive mucus in the airways, seasonal asthma and allergies, etc.
  • They are recovering from a surgery, traumatic event or hospitalization and want to help promote a faster, healthier recovery.

Short-term rehab care in Cape May County, NJ

Suffering from short or long-term chronic lung difficulties has a direct impact on quality of life. Respiratory issues can restrict physical activity, negatively impact sleeping patterns, and generally make life fairly unpleasant! Our respiratory therapists in South Jersey are able to supply this specialized care as needed for our residents in order to support lung recovery, restore prior lung function and improve their overall health and wellbeing. All of our therapists are experienced, compassionate and licensed by the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC).

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help make breathing easier and more comfortable for your senior loved one, give us a call or take a look at our website here: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

Parkinson’s: 6 Tips to Help Your Loved One (And You) Cope

It’s not easy to be a caregiver to a loved one with Parkinson’s disease. You are constantly keeping track of doctors’ appointments, medications and new ways to slow the progression of the disease, as well as providing attention and support. Understandably, it may also feel like you are putting other elements of your life on hold to be a full-time caregiver.

With that in mind, the team at The Shores, an assisted living community in Cape May County, NJ, wants to make your caregiving journey easier with tips on how you and your loved one can cope.

1 – Keep learning. Use informative resources to keep learning about Parkinson’s disease, so that you can better understand the condition, its symptoms and how it progresses. This will help prepare you for changes in your loved one’s care needs and behaviors, so you can manage them more effectively. In addition to talking to your loved one’s doctors and specialists, read about the condition through reputable websites like the Mayo Clinic, the Parkinson’s Foundation, and Parkinson’s News Today. These resources will also have the latest news and updates on Parkinson’s disease management.

2 – Accept that you’re not perfect. A diagnosis like this one will turn anyone’s world upside down and can push you into a position that you never prepared for. Everything about your life changes, and with that comes stress and responsibility to deal with. While you’re going to have to adapt significantly, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for any inevitable missteps. Lean on your resources, adapt your daily routines accordingly, and don’t be too hard on yourself – you are only human.

3 – Don’t go at it alone. Don’t try to take on every caregiving role, situation and need yourself. It’s hard enough to navigate your own life, and adding the responsibility of being a sole caregiver can quickly become overwhelming, especially in later stages. Bring people you trust into your fold, whether it’s neighbors, friends, family or support groups. It takes a village to cope with such a life-changing diagnosis. The needs that arise as a result of Parkinson’s disease, along with taking on too much work is a surefire way to burnout. Your needs matter too. Ironically, you need to prioritize your self-care first, in order to be a well-balanced caregiver to someone else. 

4 – Get organized. Being organized helps reduce frustration and stress as a caregiver, and helps ensure your loved one gets the right care. Develop a system for storing and referencing your loved one’s medical notes, insurance information, health records, appointments, and contact details for doctors and specialists. Track all their medications, as well as how they are being administered. Get to know their medical insurance policy inside out. This folder should go with you to all appointments, so that you can make informed decisions without having to go back and forth searching for the most recent information.

5 – Know yourself and your limits. One of the most important factors in providing quality care to a loved one is keeping an eye on your own well being. Knowing when you are reaching your own limits as a caregiver is critical to avoiding burnout, and will give your loved one the most high quality care. Too many caregivers neglect themselves while caring for a loved one, which can cause your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships with others to suffer.
Learn to recognize symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and illness within yourself, and take the necessary time off to help yourself get back to a healthy space. This can mean letting other family members help out more, calling in a local respite caregiver, or committing to 24-hour care in an assisted living community.

6 – Make space for joy, love and happiness in your relationship. A Parkinson’s diagnosis is devastating to both you and your loved one, and as their care needs progress, the nature of this condition can let negative emotions flood in. However, it’s important to make space for as much joy and happiness as you can in your relationship. Enjoy activities together as much as you can, whether it’s going for a walk outdoors or helping your loved one get dressed. Relive happy memories, watch your favorite movies together, keep them involved in their favorite hobbies as much as possible, and just make those quality moments together count. The best advice we can give is to treasure their drive to keep living life to the fullest, when it’s there.

Let United Methodist Communities help make every moment count

The Shores is an assisted living community in Ocean City, NJ, that’s designed to provide professional, compassionate care to seniors that promote their independence and quality of life. With 24-hour specialized support available to residents with Parkinson’s disease, your loved one will have the care and space they need to enjoy quality time with family and friends.

If you are seeking assistance as a caregiver of a loved one with Parkinson’s, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, or visit our website at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

What’s the Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living?

Are you looking for a senior care solution for a loved one with dementia? Although memory care may be offered in an assisted living community, there are many differences between these two care services.

Individuals with dementia require caregivers who have specialized skill sets and supervision in contrast to what is provided in assisted living. Here’s a detailed guide to the major differences between the two services from our specialists in memory care in Cape May County, NJ.

What is assisted living for people with dementia?

An assisted living community will have the services and support in place to assist people in the earlier stages of dementia. Usually, these residents have less medical needs at this stage and onsite nurses can manage any medication needs as required. The services they offer are more about supporting their independence by assisting with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs).

This includes help with medications, meal preparation, housekeeping services, shopping and errands, and leisure activities as well as bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. Support services are selected according to what a resident currently needs, and are scaled up as their needs change.

Living in an assisted living community is about making it as easy as possible for residents to be independent and comfortable, balancing support services with activities that promote freedom, social connections, wellness and enjoyment. As a result, residing in assisted living usually means staying in a private apartment home within a vibrant community.

Well-equipped assisted living communities are able to manage the needs of residents without having to move them. Which means they can manage everything from skilled nursing care after an operation to physical therapy all onsite, although it may involve a temporary move to a different neighborhood for more specialized and intensive care.

What is memory care for people living with dementia?

Memory care is a service designed to provide the best possible support for those who need more intensive care and supervision that can be provided in assisted living. Essentially, this is a more specialized care neighborhood that focuses specifically on those with dementia conditions. Here, supervision is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is provided by specially-trained caregivers and medical associates who have extensive experience with dementia residents.

While assisting with IADLs is a significant part of the work in memory care, there’s much more to this type of care. Activities designed to stimulate memory and potentially slow disease progression are an important part of this care. This includes arts and crafts, music, cognitive games, and physical activities.

Memory care residents have less private space than assisted living, but more communal spaces, as it’s important for associates to be able to interact with residents. High-quality memory care residences do everything possible to help each resident stay engaged, active, and as independent as possible.

Deciding between assisted living and memory care for your loved one in NJ

When it comes to finding professional care and support for a loved one with dementia, it’s important to make sure the community’s values and services match up with their current and future needs.

At The Shores, which is part of the United Methodist Communities network, we offer specialized care for residents with dementia called Tapestries®. At Tapestries, we work to ensure that our residents are able to scale up both assisted living and memory care services as needed, all without having to move from the comfort of their community.

If you would like to find out more about memory care in Ocean City, NJ, contact us to set up a consultation with our memory care advisors or visit our website at https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

5 Essential Strategies for Dementia Caregivers

Providing memory care for a loved one with dementia is not easy or straightforward. There is no instruction manual that is one-size-fits-all.

When it comes to your role as a caregiver, intuition is often more important than logic. Even though there is no official instruction manual, there are strategies you can build a foundation with and then modify as you go along.

With that said, here are five important memory care strategies provided by our memory care team in Ocean City, NJ.

#1 – Be flexible

Normally, our relationships are based on logic, when something we do or say prompts the other person into an appropriate reaction. However, when it comes to dementia, logic and reasoning flies out the window. Even if you agreed on something just minutes ago, they may not remember it or be in the same frame of mind to agree to it now.

This can be exceptionally frustrating and difficult for both caregivers and loved ones, so it’s important not to rely on logic and reasoning. Instead, always be flexible and ready to respond to what your loved one needs in that particular moment. If they get upset, try to redirect their attention rather than remind them of something they likely don’t remember.

#2 – Take it easy

Sure, a routine is a fantastic thing. It works well with children and adults, bringing a sense of structure and peace of mind into your life. So it’s only natural to think that a routine would apply to someone with dementia too. It’s a bit more complex than that, however. When a routine works, it works really well — but caregivers need to be able to throw that routine out the window as needed. This means taking a flexible approach like we mentioned above, and it also means taking the path of least resistance.

For example, if something upsets your loved one and throws them off their routine, don’t try to get them back on track. Instead, go with the flow. If you only managed to get your loved one to eat a small portion of breakfast, don’t force it — instead, let it go. This will help relieve your own frustration and theirs at the same time, and actually can make it easier to get back into something of a routine more quickly.

#3 – Involve your loved one

If there is an activity your loved one can do, even if they can’t do it perfectly or need a little assistance, let them do it. Many people with dementia still have great physical and mental capabilities, and encouraging them to engage in daily activities as far as their abilities allow will deliver that all-important stimulation that brains and bodies thrive on. Whether it’s folding laundry, planting flowers in the garden, assisting at dinner time or going for daily walks, these activities promote stress relief for you and your loved one, helping them to preserve independence and their health.

#4 – Plan for the future

While it’s important to be flexible and go with the flow, it’s also important to plan for your loved one’s future. Take the time to speak to their doctor or specialist about how dementia progresses, the types of issues to watch out for, and research how you can best help them at each stage of the condition. Knowing the road ahead will help you prepare on many fronts. Some examples are making sure that their legal papers are in order, establishing financing for future care needs and other bills, and deciding on potential caregiving services down the road.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is an emotional journey, so it’s easy to put aside financial, healthcare and legal issues that seem cold and impersonal. Handling these issues ahead of time, however, will help take strain off you as a caregiver. It will also give you a clear idea of the different ways you can support your loved one and smooth the road ahead.

#5 – Care for yourself

Caring for a loved one with dementia is one of the most emotionally difficult tasks anyone can take on. When their care needs change and escalate, caregivers often pay the price. Caregiver burnout is very real, and it’s important to take steps to make sure your mental and physical health is supported. It’s not selfish — your personal needs are just as important as those of your loved one. The better you look after yourself, the better you will be able to care for them.

Look for local support groups in your area, as they’re a great source of comfort and advice. Get family members and loved ones to help you out, even if it’s just for the occasional break here and there. Investigate respite care services which offer professional caregivers to  assist your loved one while you take some much-deserved time off. Most importantly, always try to eat healthily, get enough rest, and exercise. Taking care of a loved one with dementia isn’t something anyone should have to do alone and without proper self-care.

Tapestries® memory care in South Jersey

If you are looking for professionals to help you care for your loved one, either on a temporary or permanent basis, our Tapestries® memory care team is here to help. Visit our website, call our memory care advisors and have an in-depth consultation. It’s no obligation, of course, and you’ll quickly see how we can fit into your loved one’s schedule to provide the support, care and fulfilling life they deserve. For more information on our Tapestries memory care services in New Jersey, visit us online at https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

How to Manage Your Loved One’s Care While Socially Distant

Staying away from mom and dad is tough, but you want to prioritize their health, safety and care while the pandemic continues. Living far away from your folks can also add to the challenge of caring for them. Now might be a great time to consider in-home care or assisted living options nearby to ensure their care is properly managed at all times.

Here are some tips from our assisted living team in Cape May County, NJ, to best manage your parent’s care from a distance.

#1 – Stay in touch

One of the biggest challenges during this pandemic is maintaining our mental and physical health. It’s essential that loved ones stay in touch with their senior loved ones, whatever way they can. Fortunately, with video chat options like Zoom and Skype, it’s easy to chat and see each other as often as you’d like completely risk-free.

For anyone without access to a smartphone or tablet, regular phone calls are just as good. Regular catch-ups or even a quick call once a day to check in are ideal – and they’ll help you cope with your concern for them too.

#2 – Drive by

It sounds like a funny idea, but a quick drive by when you are in the area is a great way to check on your loved one! Let them know by phone when to expect you, and drive by their home at the appointed time.

Stay physically distant, wave, blow kisses and tell them you love them. Sanitize any care packages thoroughly, and place them by the door for pick up while your loved one is inside. People have gotten so creative with this option, organizing funny parades with music and noisemakers, having socially-distant drive-by birthday parties, and just having a great time!

#3 – Create a network

It takes a village to look after senior loved ones, and the pandemic has really highlighted this! Don’t try to take it all on alone, especially if you live far away from your parents. Have a Zoom or Skype chat with other family members (especially those nearby), get to know your parent’s neighbors and even get some professional help if needed.

Having an organized network to share the load is beneficial to everyone, especially your parents. Neighbors can keep an eye on the house and let you know if they have any concerns, family members can take different days of the week to call your parents or deliver groceries/medications, and together you can make caregiving a lot easier and more effective.

#4 – Have a plan

No one wants to face an emergency, but it’s important for their wellbeing and your peace of mind that everyone knows what to do if one does. Whether it’s a fall, a possible COVID-19 exposure or anything else, you and your parents need to have a set plan in place to cope with it.

This should include contact numbers for doctors or healthcare professionals, knowledge of the symptoms of COVID-19 (especially important ones like shortness of breath or chest pain), and having an emergency healthcare kit at home complete with other important contact numbers, health information, insurance details and an updated list of medications. This will ensure that health care emergencies are taken care of as quickly and effectively as possible, and that the right people are contacted to keep you informed.

#5 – Consider assisted living

Going into assisted living is a big step for families and it is often a difficult decision to make, especially during an on-going pandemic. However, these communities are often very different from what everyone imagines! United Methodist Communities at The Shores is a safe community that supports senior health and independence in true comfort. 

Our team responded quickly to COVID-19 with industry-leading health and safety protocols for residents, associates, vendors, and visitors to follow. We also understand that responding to this virus is much more than just enhanced health and safety measures. It’s also important to keep our residents engaged and connected to the outside world through means of socially distant activities and video streaming services.

At The Shores, our aim is to create a community where quality of life for seniors comes first – really, we’re working to create a home. Contact us today to find out more about our senior care services, or visit our website at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/services/

5 At-Home Workouts to Boost Heart Health

Have you been staying true to your New Year’s resolutions to get fit and healthy? The great news is that you don’t have to join a gym to reach your goals. Working out at home is more convenient, more affordable and you avoid going out into the winter cold.

There’s no better time than now to get into a regular workout routine, especially since last month was American Heart Month. Here are five workouts that can be performed in the comfort of your own home that are great for your heart health.

#1 – Yoga

Yoga is great for your heart health, with studies suggesting it is as effective as going for a brisk walk. People involved in the study came from all age groups, with many having pre-existing health conditions, and found that it helped them to lose excess weight, reduce their blood pressure and lower levels of harmful cholesterol. The stretches and positions gently exercise muscles, while the deep breathing and meditation help reduce stress. Because yoga is easy to adapt for different abilities, it’s great for all ages too!

#2 – Strength Training

Weight training helps build all the muscles in your body, and that includes your heart. It helps support and increase muscle mass (something we increasingly struggle with as we get older), as well as burn off the excess fat that puts us at risk of heart disease and other serious health problems. Weight training can be adapted to any level of ability, and you don’t even need to buy weights. Simply using your body weight in exercises like sit-ups, squats, push-ups and pull-ups is usually enough.

#3 – Aerobics

This is a popular form of cardio exercise that really gets your heart pumping. It’s great for anyone who likes a high-energy workout filled with music, fun routines to follow, and excitement. It’s also easy to do at home! There are loads of trainers offering at-home aerobics sessions over YouTube or other video streaming services, ranging from beginner to advanced classes, and some are even free.

#4 – Stair work

If you live in a two-story home or an apartment, this is a great and easy way to get in an effective, heart-healthy workout. You can also use a stair machine if you don’t have easy access to stairs on your property. Aim for 50-85% of your maximum heart rate (subtract your age from 220 for a general indication of your maximum heart rate) while you’re climbing up and down the stairs to get the most effect. You’ll also notice your leg muscles getting stronger as an added bonus!

#5 – Walking

Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat – you can do it inside using a treadmill, but walking outside has more benefits! A brisk walk, whether it’s in your local neighborhood or park, is just what your heart needs. Try to walk at a quick pace, taking even strides and mixing it up with hills and different terrain to keep it challenging. A 30 minute brisk walk can burn up to 300 calories, as well as give your heart some healthy exercise. If you are worried about getting bored, put on your favorite music, podcast or audio book, or walk with others. Just remember to get a good pair of supportive walking sneakers or shoes, so that your joints are well-supported.

Maximize your health and wellness at a NJ senior living community

It can be tough to stay motivated when working out from home. Not to mention, if you are in your senior years, it’s important to consult your primary physician before performing any new exercises that may do more harm than good. 

At United Methodist Communities at The Shores, our associates prioritize the wellness of every resident with regular exercise programs and 24-hour health monitoring if needed. Supporting heart health by sharing information and raising awareness is also an important part of what we do. We’re focused on promoting cardiac health in order to minimize the risk of heart disease and other complex cardiac conditions that are common for seniors today. 

To find out more about our senior wellness services, including our best health and safety practices for COVID-19, please contact us today or visit our website at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/services/ 

Assisted Living Changed for the Better During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has put our team to the test as frontline workers, caregivers and medical personnel. We are so proud to say that our infection control expertise, the fast implementation of our health and safety initiatives, as well as our dedication to teamwork, has made senior living in Cape May County safer than ever before.

UNITEDforSAFETY™: A leading COVID-19 initiative for United Methodist Communities

Understandably, many people were concerned about moving into assisted living during COVID-19, but the team at UMC knew that seniors needed access to more help – not less – during this time. We are proud of the implementation of UNITEDforSAFETY across all of our full-service senior living communities in New Jersey.

Once the pandemic hit, our associates put their heads together and sprung into action to protect those who needed it the most. The UNITEDforSAFETY standard is a set of comprehensive protocols, procedures and equipment to combat COVID-19 and other potential health risks.  

Some examples of the UNITEDforSAFETY procedures are…

  • Utilizing negative air pressure machines
  • Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products that kill 99.9% of bacteria on a daily basis
  • Regular screenings of residents, associates, visitors, and vendors
  • Limiting communal activities and indoor visitation
  • Enhanced cleaning of resident rooms, communal spaces, and other high-touch areas
  • Mandating hand washing and strategically placing hand sanitizer stations throughout the building
  • Requiring social distancing and a quarantine period if necessary 
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as needed

Moving into 2021 with more innovative ways to connect

It is definitely possible to create a social life for seniors in assisted living during the pandemic. It isn’t easy, but we truly understand how important it is for older adults to stay active and engaged at all times. With that said, we’ve incorporated new ways to keep seniors in touch with family and friends, and to keep their social calendars full while minimizing COVID-19 risks.  

  • Color-Coded Levels of Socialization. Our color-coded zones allow our associates to understand what guidelines are in effect (i.e. outdoor visitation, dining, socialization, and limited indoor visitation with PPE required).
  • Zoom Calls. All residents have access to iPads, tablets, and computers, along with technological assistance from our associates. Not only can residents more easily connect with their families, but they could also join Zoom sessions with their fellow residents for group social activities. 
  • Theme Days. With proper health and safety guidelines in place, there’s no reason why our residents can’t participate in themed activities like “Disney Day” or “Pajama Day.” At UMC at The Shores, we love our fun theme days and will keep them coming in the New Year! 

Leading the way in community safety for seniors in Cape May County

Today, we are more than ready to bring your loved one into our community. We’ve come out of 2020 a stronger, more proactive, and COVID-aware community that works harder than ever to prioritize senior health and safety, as much as senior independence.

To find out more about our senior living community in Cape May County, contact us today or visit our website at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/

Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Screening, and Treatment

Did you know that prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, despite it being limited to men? Research shows that over 70% of men over the age of 80 have some percentage of cancer cells in their prostate.

This may seem like a scary statistic, but early detection is key to a more positive outcome and lifestyle. Here’s some insight into this important senior health condition and how it’s treated, from our team of medical professionals in Cape May County.

What is prostate cancer?

This type of cancer affects the prostate glands – a small walnut-shaped gland situated just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It starts with cancerous cells developing in the prostate glands, that can then spread to nearby organs like the bladder or rectum. In advanced cases, the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and bones.

It’s possible to develop benign growths on the prostate gland, but this is rarely a health issue. The benign growths can easily be removed if the doctor believes they’re causing unnecessary bladder pressure or other minor issues.

What are the early symptoms?

Men who are older than 55, have a family history of prostate cancer, who smoke, drink alcohol, or have a generally unhealthy diet should be especially aware of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Poor flow while urinating
  • Blood in semen
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • And discomfort around the pelvic area

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Screening and prevention

There are three main types of screening for prostate cancer that all men over the age of 55 should participate in once a year.

  • PSA blood test –  This test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. A low amount of PSA means the prostate is healthy, while a high amount can indicate cancer. This test can’t give your doctor information on what type of cancer cells are in the prostate, just that cancer may be present. If you have high PSA levels, your doctor will recommend a more advanced test to retrieve more details.
  • DRE – During  a digital rectal exam (DRE)  the doctor will feel the prostate to detect any  abnormal shape or growths. It is usually combined with a PSA test to determine if cancer may be present.
  • Biopsy – If your PSA test is high and your DRE test is abnormal, then your doctor will recommend a biopsy. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which  tiny tissue samples will be taken from the prostate for examination. A biopsy in combination with a PSA and DRE will ultimately determine if cancer is present.

Prostate cancer treatment is very effective

No health condition with the word “cancer” in it, is one to be taken lightly. However, early detection can lead to a more positive outcome. In fact, low-risk prostate cancer cases may require no immediate treatment, just monitoring to ensure everything is under control. This is called active surveillance, and usually consists of regular rectal exams and biopsies.

In cases when the cancer is considered to be at high risk for spreading, the following treatments can be administered:

  • Robotic surgery can be performed to remove the prostate gland and possibly some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. This  minimally-invasive procedure can sometimes result in urinary incontinence and/or erectile dysfunction. 
  • Radiation therapy involves high-powered x-ray or proton beams to destroy the cancer cells. Surgeons can also place radioactive seeds around the prostate to provide internal radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy utilizes strong drugs to destroy the cancer cells, and is usually recommended when cancer has spread to other organs and systems.
  • Hormone therapy involves treatment to stop testosterone production, preventing the hormone from speeding up cancer growth. It is usually used in more advanced cases or to shrink a tumor before radiation therapy.

  • Cryosurgery is the process of destroying the cancer cells by injecting a freezing gas into the tissue, followed by a heating gas injection to warm the cells back up. This freeze/thaw cycle destroys the infected cells.

Short-term rehabilitation in Cape May County, NJ 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, our team of medical professionals at UMC at The Shores can provide you with more than a helping hand. By administering rehabilitative treatment along with other necessary living services on-site, we relieve any external stresses. This allows every resident to focus on what matters most – healing.

To learn more about the short-term rehabilitative services at The Shores in Cape May County, please call a care coordinator or visit our website to schedule a tour today: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/contact/

How Healthy Eating Affects Aging

Since it’s the holiday season, there’s no better time than now to talk about one of life’s greatest pleasures – eating! Food is not only tasty and rich in culture and tradition, it’s also an important key to living a longer, healthier life.

But that doesn’t mean you’ve got the license to go to town on every snack you see. It’s more about what you eat and how you eat it. Here’s some insight into how food and nutrition affect senior health.

Prevent the loss of muscular and physical strength

As we get older, our bodies get a bit slower: our reflexes, immune responses, personal best marathon times – and even our metabolism. Metabolism is the process of turning food we eat into energy our bodies use. When this slows down, we become more vulnerable to unwanted weight gain and other critical health conditions. For older women, 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day is considered sufficient for metabolism to break down, while 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day is recommended for older men.

But why does metabolism slow down at all? It’s actually linked to age-related loss of lean body mass – the muscles we need to stay strong and mobile to live a healthy lifestyle. And that’s something that good nutrition can help prevent, or at least slow down. Start by including whole grains, fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, and natural dairy products in your diet while also ensuring proper portion control.

Portion control reduces stress on the body

We may love eating, but our body struggles to cope when we eat too much. Do you ever feel sluggish and tired after a big meal? That’s because it takes a lot of energy to digest and metabolize food. The more we eat, the harder we’re making our bodies work. If we eat big portions every day, we’re also creating more stress for our internal processes.

Stress, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical, is unhealthy for your body. The stress caused by overeating is much like the stress of a demanding job – it leads to early aging, heart problems, a weakened immune system, diabetes or even a shorter life.

Taking a simple step, like introducing portion control, helps you enjoy the food you love while limiting the negative impact on your health.

Simple swaps can make healthy eating easier during the holiday season

We live in a time of convenience food, but good cooking methods and simple food substitutes can make your meals far more nutritious.

  • Microwave dinners – Sure, they’re easy. And it may be a good idea to have a few in the freezer in case a big storm blows in. However, they’re less than ideal for everyday nutrition and are not typically part of a healthy lifestyle. Microwave dinners are usually high in sodium, which negatively impacts heart health, cholesterol, water retention/bloating, as well as accelerated aging. Instead, prep your own meals and freeze them in advance, or find healthy meal delivery services.

  • Fried anything – Anything fried or deep fried should be a rare treat. That will help you age slowly and avoid chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and liver disease. If you are frying, use olive oil or canola, as these are healthier oils with low levels of linoleic acid. Even better, invest in an air fryer to support your healthy lifestyle. They require  just a tiny amount of oil and the results will be just as tasty!

  • Processed protein – Proteins are very important at every stage of life. They help to repair and build strong muscles – but it’s important to choose the right proteins for your diet. Processed meats like ham, bacon and sausage are high in fat and sodium, so swap them out with chicken, lean mince, fish or even vegetables like beans, peas, and tofu.

Healthy, balanced dining at UMC at The Shores

Food is such an important part of our daily lives. It means time spent dining together, an opportunity to be creative and even explore other cultures. Healthy eating as you age is not just about giving up bad habits, it’s about expanding your horizons and finding new ways to support good nutrition. Therefore, ensuring your physical and mental wellness comes first.

At UMC at The Shores, we pride ourselves on the tasty, healthy food we offer to our residents. We work with a wide range of health conditions and senior dietary needs to deliver meals that tantalize the taste buds and support a longer, more enjoyable life.

For more information on senior health, as well as how we work to support a healthy lifestyle, please contact UMC at The Shores today at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/contact/