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Our Fun Approach to Mealtime

February 15, 2019

This month, The Saybrook at Haddam will celebrate “Jamaica Day,” serving traditional foods and drinks from the island nation, while enjoying Jamaican music, dance and decorations.  This is just one of the fun activities we incorporate each month to make meals at our independent retirement and assisted living community interesting, different and enjoyable.  Other ways include serving traditional holiday meals, preparing seasonal themed dinners, planning outdoor meals, and offering a wide variety of healthy favorites on a daily basis.  Making mealtime social and special is one of the most important things we do to ensure seniors eat well and enjoy the best quality of life possible (without having to shop, cook or clean!).

Families often tell us they worry that their elderly parents or loved ones are not eating enough, are not eating well and consistently, are adding too much salt, or are having other struggles at mealtime.  This is often one of the reasons they begin looking at retirement or assisted living communities.

We know from various studies that people begin to lose their taste buds as they age and their sense of smell changes. These are two major factors that affect eating, and they often lead to a decreased desire to eat or to eat well (adding too much salt or sugar to foods, for instance) – which, of course, can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, and other medical concerns. Even worse, poor diets have been linked to anxiety and depression in elderly people.

In a Clear Care article, Dr. Christine Gerbstadt from the American Dietetic Association and author of The Doctors’ Detox Diet says we don’t know why taste perception declines with normal aging, but we should be cautious to counteract the loss of taste.  She recommends seniors check with their doctor to rule out any medical conditions that are affecting the sense of taste (which may have treatment).

So, to address these downsides of aging, our kitchen team uses fresh ingredients (purchased locally when possible) seasoned with herbs and spices (instead of salt) to create a wide variety of options to please every palate. We also use mealtime as a social time when residents get to know each other, share stories, and avoid the loneliness of eating alone. It is also a time our wellness team can observe the health of a resident and possibly detect other conditions related to loss of appetite.

For seniors who live alone, here are a few suggestions for helping seniors eat right:

  • Limit times they eat alone. Try to arrange times for family members and friends to share meals with seniors and try to bring them to as many family celebrations, potluck dinners, and community meals as possible.
  • Serve foods at the right temperature. Foods simply taste better when served as hot or as cold as the recipe indicates.
  • Flavor foods with herbs, spices, citrus or vinegar. Basil, cilantro, oregano, turmeric, caraway and dill are just a few common herbs that define and enhance countless foods. Citrus juice, citrus zest, or flavored and aged vinegars are wonderful for marinades or dressings.
  • Add variety and introduce new foods. Start with ingredients you know seniors like, then add in different vegetables or flavors to make meals different. Finely chopped vegetables, for instance, can be added to almost any type of filling or sauce.
  • Pay attention to time of day seniors feel hungry. Help seniors get the most nutrition when they have the biggest appetite, whether that is at breakfast, lunch or dinner. If the other meals are smaller, you can worry less that they are not eating well.

We incorporate these suggestions (and more) at daily mealtimes at The Saybrook at Haddam. We know when people eat well, they are happier, more active, more sociable and enjoy a better quality of life.  To us, that is truly the backbone of all our other successes – and is how we achieve gracious retirement living!

 

For a personalized tour of The Saybrook at Haddam and its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or call David Downey at 860-345-8779.

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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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We’re happy to answer any questions you have and provide additional information about The Saybrook at Haddam.

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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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Health Fair Comes to The Saybrook at Haddam August 19

August 16, 2017

As families well know, we each need a team of professionals to help meet our basic healthcare needs. From doctors to dentists to therapist, pharmacists, audiologists, and other specialists, we regularly visit a variety of healthcare experts throughout every stage of our lives.  As we reach retirement age, we may see medical conditions and treatment become somewhat more complex, requiring even keener involvement. Keeping track of it all can be confusing.  Continue reading “Health Fair Comes to The Saybrook at Haddam August 19”

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Going Red for Heart Health in February

February 15, 2017

Ah, the heart.  It is truly what makes us who we are – and what carries us through our lives (literally and figuratively).  Expectant parents jump for joy upon hearing that first tiny heartbeat in the womb. Many happy romances begin with the rapid beating of the heart. Major life decisions are often judged by listening to the heart (and, of course, the head!). Therefore, it makes sense that we must, in turn, love and care for our hearts. Continue reading “Going Red for Heart Health in February”

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Be Honest … How is the Food?

May 26, 2016

Questions about food quality, quantity and variety are tops for families and individuals considering moving into an independent or assisted living community. Having one great meal can give them a sample “taste” of the food, but can the quality hold up three meals a day over the long run? Continue reading “Be Honest … How is the Food?”

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