Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Guest Post: The Modern Senior Center

By Kristen Heller

Caregiving a much-loved senior is a special calling that brings both joy and sacrifice. Certainly, additional time spent with a loved one as perhaps the years are fading is an opportunity to make memories otherwise not possible. Then again, the constant demands of caring for another and the fear that any lapse of supervision could cause irreparable harm weigh heavily. For many, respite care provides the temporary break one needs, but this is used sparingly.

Fortunately, in most communities, a resource exists that can benefit the senior and the caregiver. If you find yourself burdened by the heavy demands of caregiving, consider taking the time to explore your local senior center.

The Modern Senior Center
It is entirely common for older persons to avoid senior centers due to the stigma associated with them. A frequent misperception? Senior centers resemble a geriatric unit at a hospital or neglected retirement community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The modern senior center is full of life. They can be thought of less like a destination and more like Grand Central Station. These vibrant locations frequently offer card games, dominos, regular lunches and even travel. From day trips like happy hours and dinner clubs to excursions all over the region, senior centers are for the active, and that’s precisely how they can help both the senior and the caregiver.

Joy for All
All too often, the senior feels guilty for needing their caregiver’s time and energy. And, the senior is typically not able to drive themselves to the senior center for peer interaction. Yet, when the caregiver takes their loved one to a senior center, a whole new world of opportunities can open up.

The senior can interact with their peers, while the caregiver can participate in activities right alongside. In many cases, the caregiver could be a senior themselves, caring for a more elderly parent. The chance for a caregiver in their 60s to participate in a ball game or evening out with their parent in their 80s can be a genuine bonding experience.

Beyond the Senior Center
Caregiving is not always easy, but it can be a deeply rewarding time for caregiver and care receiver alike. Caregivers may also want to explore resources besides their local senior center, which will help them provide the best care possible for their elderly loved one.

Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guest Post: Benefits of Massage Therapy in Reducing Dementia

By Sara Rasheed

Dementia is a collective term, which describes several symptoms of cognitive decline. If someone finds difficulty in memorizing something, notices an increase in forgetfulness, a decrease in cognitive skills, difficulty in thinking and in performing daily tasks, as well as problems with communicating, a visit with a doctor is recommended.

While many of these issues come with aging, further testing can help determine if this is normal, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or actual dementia. Whether or not there is a formal diagnosis, it’s never too early to take steps to feel better. People have been using massage for decades to enhance both physical and mental well-being.

Inducing Relaxation
Massage therapy provides multiple benefits. It is one of the best ways to reduce pain and induce relaxation throughout the body. It reduces stress and can facilitate more restful sleep. Those suffering from dementia can become agitated and anxious. Massage can help calm body and mind almost instantly.

Slow Down of Mental Deterioration
Some believe that over time, massage can play a significant role in decreasing memory loss. By relaxing the muscles of the body, massage may have the ability to slow down the rate of dementia. Frequent, even weekly massages, promote healing by regenerating dying and damaged brain cells or neurons, and creating a sense a calm from head to toe.

Increases the Production of Endorphins
Time and again, studies have shown that massage therapy is key to increasing endorphins in the body. Endorphins, also known as happy hormones, are beneficial in balancing the immune system and staying healthy. And, who doesn't want to feel stronger?

The Power of Touch
Many older people and frail elderly suffer from a lack of touch. Massage provides the human and physical interaction so needed, making them feel better physically and psychologically.

Human touch, regardless of whether in the form of regular massage therapy or by using a massage chair, can lead to an overall drop in stress and anxiety even for those in a state of serious cognitive decline.

Increased Communication
A trained massage therapist knows to ask about any discomfort or problem areas of the body, so the recipient gets the most benefit out of the massage session. A licensed professional will also encourage open communication from beginning to end, which can help make an older person apt to share health or personal concerns.

Inhibiting the Production of Stress Hormones
Massage can be especially helpful in inhibiting the production of stress hormones, which increase anxiety and stress levels in the body. As a result, a quality massage can make someone suffering from mild to severe dementia feel better for hours and days after the massage is over.

Sara Rasheed is a psychologist by profession, who enjoys home-based work and travel. She is passionate about the benefits of massage, massage chairs and other relaxation techniques. She regularly posts on