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Can Independent Living Really Take Place in a Retirement Community?

January 31, 2018

Most senior citizens enjoy living independently – and nearly 90 percent prefer to live in their own homes for as long as they possibly can, according to a study by AARP. It makes sense since home is familiar and filled with memories, is where seniors are in charge, and is near friends and family.  However, as time goes by, living alone carries downsides that become harder to ignore: maintaining the home becomes difficult if not impossible, a greater sense of isolation or loneliness can occur (especially after a spouse dies), nutrition may begin to suffer, and the home itself may become unsafe where falls, burns or other injuries may take place. In recognition of all of this, The Saybrook at Haddam has developed a community that puts independence at the center of everything we do – providing an active, involved and, yet, private and respectful environment for retired seniors, those needing assisted living services and those facing memory-related illnesses.

Our community setting means residents can simply open their doors to find plenty of activity – and many happy faces.  Through the community, residents easily create new friendships and take part in many different types of social, cultural and educational events and activities. Studies have shown daily interaction, as well as having relationships and joyful conversations, is crucial for seniors and can provide heart-health benefits such as lower blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels, increased physical activity, and the ability to avoid bad habits of bored people such as smoking or over eating. Studies also show that important social networks among older adults can result in better executive function and episodic memory, slower cognitive decline, and even less wear and tear on the body.

At the same time, residents at The Saybrook at Haddam enjoy a sense of privacy and independence when they are in their own apartment. Here, they can visit with friends and family, enjoy quiet time reading or working on hobbies, chat on the phone, or write letters and emails.  This is their home, furnished with their belongings, where they can live and socialize as they did in their own homes.

Some residents keep their car at The Saybrook at Haddam so they can remain independent by being able to drive where they want when they want. Others greatly appreciate making use of our van, which regularly travels to shops, medical appointments, churches, local restaurants and other interesting places.

Striking a balance between preserving a sense of independence while providing an increasing level of care is an ongoing pursuit at The Saybrook at Haddam – but it is clearly one of the best reasons we have been so successful over the years.  We love when family and friends join us for meals, special events, movies, or for personal visits with residents.  And family and friends tell us they love the peace of mind knowing their parents are no longer isolated, receiving wonderful care, eating better, staying active, and making friends.  It’s how senior living should be!

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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Seniors and Happiness

January 15, 2018

The dictionary tells us that “happiness” is a state of well-being and contentment, and the Declaration of Independence tells us that the “pursuit of happiness” is one of our basic rights.  But, what is happiness exactly?  How do people – including senior citizens – achieve a life of happiness?  It is interesting that the concept means so many different things to different people at various stages of  their lives. At The Saybrook at Haddam, we spend a great deal of time thinking about residents’ happiness because, more than anything, families want to know that their mom or dad, grandparent or other relative will be happy living here.Recently, the New York Times published an article that created a direct link between seniors and happiness.  The writer followed a group of seniors for several years, noting their daily activities, attitudes, and physical abilities. Over time, he realized these seniors “focused not on their declining abilities but on things that they could still do and that they found rewarding.”

In another article, Psychology Today magazine states, regardless of age, “much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.”

This all is music to our ears! In our effort to create a happy community, our activities team works tirelessly to develop a well-rounded selection of social, recreational, physical, cultural and educational opportunities that appeal to residents (and their guests).  This means we have regular events, activities, guests and performers at our community – and that we travel around our region to take advantage of local concert halls, museums, state parks, garden centers, libraries, shops, and restaurants.  We often welcome ideas from residents to introduce new activities or go places that interest them.  This involvement is important and rewarding to seniors.

We also use daily meals as an opportunity to promote happiness.  Residents never dine alone, and they have many choices where they eat: in our beautiful circular main dining room, our elegant private dining rooms, our courtyard, the country kitchen, or in Safe Harbor’s family-style dining room. Residents and guests tell us our meals are delicious, and we know they are also nutritious, a little adventurous, and full of seasonal favorites. Good food goes a long way towards happiness!

One of the best parts of our community is how “tuned in” we each become with one another.  We can easily recognize when residents are not their usual selves (not “happy”) and we can tell when residents may not be feeling their best, physically or emotionally.  While we are careful to respect privacy, we always are touched when we see neighbors reaching out to neighbors, lending a hand and being of service to each other.  These are the intangible parts of happiness that are always so important to pursue.

The New York Times suggests spending time with seniors will change your perspective and increase your own level of happiness.  Looking around at the smiling faces at The Saybrook at Haddam, we couldn’t agree more!

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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Turning a Worrisome Visit into Positive Change

December 29, 2017

Holidays bring families together, giving them an opportunity to share time baking, making, eating, drinking, reminiscing, laughing, and taking part in those wonderful traditions each family has. For relatives who live far away, the holidays are the best opportunity to really check in on the health and well-being of older family members.  In many cases, it is an eye-opener when people truly see how their elderly parents are really doing day-to-day.  At The Saybrook at Haddam, we receive an increase in requests for information during November, December and January from families who realize they need to address their parents’ changing care needs.

One of the first questions people ask us is, “How do we know when it is time for assisted living?” Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer since each family and individual is unique, there are general ways your parent will indicate things aren’t going well.  We thought Care.com had a good check list for families to watch for:

  • Is your parent sitting in the same place all day and seeming to be less mobile? When they move do they wince in pain?
  • Have they lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight?
  • Is there a stack of unpaid bills lying around the home or are they regularly buying or overspending on things they don’t need?
  • Do you notice frequent confusion or memory loss when they are talking – including forgetting names of family members or common household items?
  • Do you notice frequent changes in mood and personality?
  • Is there spoiled food in the fridge?
  • Are there any new dents in their car?

One or two of these signs may not be cause for immediate action, but they definitely tell you it’s time to put a care plan in place.  After the holidays, you can talk with siblings or others who may be involved in decision making, and discuss options.  This is the time when some families begin calling retirement, assisted living and memory care communities to check on services, arrange for tours, and determine which would be a good fit for loved ones.

Having the “time for assisted living” conversation with an elderly parent or relative is likely one of the hardest things an adult child will ever do.  Be sure to work closely with your preferred retirement community for advice on walking through this step in a kind, caring and respectful manner.  Many communities will invite you to enjoy lunch or dinner, to attend a concert or other event, or even to try a short-term or respite stay.  These simple steps take much of the fear and anxiety out of the decision-making and eases the transition from independent living in a home, condo or apartment, to retirement living in an assisted living or memory care environment.

Ideally, adult children will begin having these conversations while parents are able to make their own decisions. The more time and information everyone has, the more confident everyone will feel when the time comes to make the move.  They will feel most comfortable having you walk by their side through the selection and move-in process.  In this way, you can turn a very worrisome time of life into a wonderful and positive change.

Additionally, as difficult as assisted living planning may be, we can tell you that, in our experience, once residents are settled in to life at The Saybrook at Haddam, they often wonder why they waited so long!

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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No Holiday Blues Allowed!

December 15, 2017

During December, nearly every moment seems to be filled with holiday music, Christmas cards, festive decorations, wishes of glad tidings, and general efforts to “spread good cheer.”  It’s a warm and wonderful time that we embrace and share with family and friends.  Some people, however, find themselves suffering from the “holiday blues.”  Anyone – including senior citizens – can feel a little sad around this time of year as they may be facing loneliness, loss of loved ones, financial burdens or other concerns.  Caregivers and family members should be on the lookout for “holiday blues” and take proactive steps to help seniors have a more enjoyable time of year.

Diane Carigliano, RN, director of The Saybrook at Haddam’s wellness team, hosted a special “Beat the Blues” holiday event for residents and families. The team talked about recognizing some of the physical and emotional signs of the blues – and celebrating ways to avoid them.  Here are a few of their suggestions:

Be realistic and enjoy new traditions and other holiday celebrations.  Some people dwell on past Christmases or the way things used to be.  We cannot always recreate what we loved in the past, so it is healthier to focus on what we have in front of us today. One easy way to do this is to write a list of things you appreciate about your life – and use that as a daily reminder of all that is good!

Look for ways to help others.  More than 11 million senior citizens engage in volunteerism each year which means there are millions of opportunities for seniors to get involved.  They can team with local churches, senior centers or libraries, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, national homeless or hunger relief organizations, or community-based activities to find a project that fits their interest and availability.  By doing this, the true meaning of Christmas can come through and lift seniors’ spirits.

Take good care of your body.  Staying healthy is the best way to enjoy the holidays so eat well, don’t skip meals, drink plenty of water, reduce sugar and alcohol intake, exercise, and spend time outdoors (weather permitting). This is a great time to treat yourself to a massage or learn a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga or Tai Chi. If you let healthy habits slip, you run a greater risk of illness and/or injury – which are guaranteed to put a damper on anyone’s holiday!

Practice forgiveness.  Sometimes people do or say things that hurt us – and we have a hard time looking past those wrongdoings.  However, holding on to bad feelings ends up hurting us and can affect our holidays.  Forgiving all sorts of people – from our past, our work, or our families – will definitely heal the spirit.

Do one little act of kindness every day.  Small things like holding the door open for a stranger, sharing a smile, running an errand for a friend, or calling a relative can improve everyone’s day.

Love, love, love.  When we embrace love, we have a much better outlook on life.  So, make an extra effort to love your family and friends, your home and environment, and even yourself for the best holiday season ever!

The holiday blues are no fun – but recognizing what they are will help you deal with them and send them packing.  Then you can relax and truly enjoy all the seasonal festivities as they are intended (just go easy on the egg nog!).

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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Gifts for Seniors: Solving the Annual Dilemma

November 29, 2017

The Saybrook at Haddam is making final preparations for our annual “Holiday Stroll” which we host the first week of each December to kick off the holiday season in style.  We transform our community into a winter wonderland of sorts with beautiful Christmas trees and decorations, plenty of poinsettias and wreaths, menorahs and mangers.  It is a wonderful time and sets the tone for a happy December. We welcome local artisans and vendors to sell their unique and hand-made items, and we bring in carolers and other performers to fill the halls with festive sounds. For many residents and families, this is the best time and place to start (or even finish) holiday shopping. Continue reading “Gifts for Seniors: Solving the Annual Dilemma”

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Avoiding the Flu and Other Thoughts on Healthy Living

Avoiding the Flu and Other Thoughts on Healthy Living

November 15, 2017

To prepare residents for the upcoming “flu season,” The Saybrook at Haddam hosted a free flu shot clinic as well as an informational session (hosted with Encompass Home Health) earlier this month.  Here are some key pointers from these events that our wellness team would like to share to help seniors (and everyone, really!) avoid the flu and build a healthy immune system this winter: Continue reading “Avoiding the Flu and Other Thoughts on Healthy Living”

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Thoughts from our Safe Harbor Memory Care Neighborhood

October 30, 2017

Living with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory-related illness means new and different struggles occur each day.  There is no standardized solution for treating or managing memory care, since these diseases affect each person so differently.  So, when The Saybrook at Haddam set out to create Safe Harbor, a unique and therapeutic memory care neighborhood, we knew customized, individualized care would be at the heart of all we do. Continue reading “Thoughts from our Safe Harbor Memory Care Neighborhood”

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Free Educational “Solutions Series” on Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Begins

October 13, 2017

Living with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory-related illness means new and different struggles occur each and every day.  There is no standardized solution for treating or managing memory care, since these diseases affect each individual so differently. However, families and caregivers can benefit greatly from the growing amount of information and support services available.  That is why The Saybrook at Haddam is hosting a new, free “Senior Solutions” educational series, entirely dedicated to dementia. Continue reading “Free Educational “Solutions Series” on Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Begins”

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Life Should be a Party for Seniors!

September 29, 2017

Celebrations mark so many of the highlights of our lives, giving us fabulous memories to look back on and cherish.  From birthdays to graduations, weddings, anniversaries, religious events, holidays, and other important occasions, we love to gather together to enjoy good food, music, friendship, conversation and fun.  In our senior years, these celebrations become more important, more meaningful – and more anticipated. Continue reading “Life Should be a Party for Seniors!”

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Seniors Enjoying the Benefits of Music

September 15, 2017

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Our soul is composed of harmony.” That could explain why people are so greatly affected by music at every stage of their lives.  At The Saybrook at Haddam, we agree entirely with Da Vinci and incorporate music into daily life and special events in our independent retirement and assisted living community as often as possible.  Residents enjoy listening to music, attending concerts, singing and even playing instruments – and reap all the related social and creative benefits.  Researchers are also learning music may provide some valuable benefits to our brains. Continue reading “Seniors Enjoying the Benefits of Music”

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