As data from the last census poured in, one statistic surfaced that can boggle the mind: More people have been leaving quiet, small-town life behind and have been migrating to big cities.
While cities may provide many opportunities, anyone who has ever lived in or even just visited one knows a metropolis lacks many of the things small towns offer.
The geniality in a smaller community easily rivals that of the disconnected, disinterested denizens of the city. In these small towns and villages, the residents’ closeness to one another have little to do with how near their homes are from each other. In fact, a good small community is really like a family.
“My mom moved into an apartment here five years ago,” Marge reveals. “She lived alone after my father died and was responsible for seeing that the lawn got mowed, the snow got shoveled, and had to arrange for any repairs needed at the house. So, she talked to me about moving to Snyder.”
After exploring the differences between cottage and apartment living, Marge’s mother chose the latter, so even in bad weather, she would have access to activities and meals. “She is able to visit with her neighbors and not have to go out in the snow or rain,” Marge says. “If something needs fixing, help is just a phone call away. She says it’s the best decision she ever made.”
This is a decision with which two other mother/daughter pairs on campus can empathize. Marge and her mother are just one of three multiple generation families who call Snyder Village home.
Currently, they are looking to add to their family as well. Hiring is now open for several different positions.
Main Street, USA
Something that has, unfortunately, gone by the wayside over the last few decades is the small-town main street. For a very long time it was common for businesses owners to live above their workplace or at least within a few minutes of it
“It’s really nice to live so close to work,” she admits. “This fall I was able to ride my bicycle to work for the first time. I know that if I need to run into the office for a brief task, it won’t take long to get there and get back home.”
Labor of Love
Just as with any strong community, Cintaa Home Care has not achieved such success without a lot of determination. Keeping residents connected with each other and their families requires constant effort. Whether through virtual chats, phone calls, special activities, or safe, in-person visits, their sense of community is built as they socialize with one another during activities, parties, religious services, exercise classes, and entertainment opportunities.
A person’s faith is a deeply personal aspect of life, and many times the beliefs we hold become more of a priority as we get older. A study by the University of Chicago found that faith in God increases as we age, especially in those over the age of 68. It may not come as a surprise that an active faith can benefit emotional, mental, and even physical well-being. Given the impact a person’s faith can have, it becomes even more essential that an older adult is supported and encouraged in their faith journey.
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Health Benefits of Faith in Older Adults
The health benefits of a strong faith are numerous, and studies examining the correlation between religion and health date back to the early 1900’s. One such study listed in the Journals of Gerontology found a link between life expectancy and religious involvement. The survey of 35,000 participants revealed an increase in life expectancy in those who considered religion very important and an even greater increase (4.38 years for women and 2.63 years for men) in those who attended religious services weekly.
Religion and spirituality also appear to help slow cognitive decline and improve quality of life for those with dementia. According to a study by International Psychogeriatrics, individuals who use their religion and faith in daily life were better able to preserve relationships, reduce or stabilize cognitive disorders, maintain hope, find purpose, and cope with their disease. Despite cognitive impairment, older adults still have a need for inner peace and comfort, which faith can provide.
A sense of belonging is a benefit of attending religious services or being part of a faith community. Relationships formed through faith practices help fight depression and loneliness, which often affects older adults. Danira Parra, chaplain at Snyder Village, says, “I do believe that faith, prayer, and connecting to God and each other is more important now than ever…especially because there is more stressing us than ever before.” Having others who are willing to pray, listen, and offer support can help a senior cope with the loss of a loved one or their own health difficulties.
Many older adults struggle with finding a sense of purpose in the later years. For those whose career or young children once occupied their time, retirement or an empty nest can feel aimless. A person’s faith can reveal a higher purpose and a desire to serve God and others. A belief in God offers hope, which can bring a positive outlook, inner peace, and satisfying joy.
“Studies show there are many health benefits in utilizing just one faith modality – that of prayer,” explains Chaplain Parra. “Benefits include stress reduction, inhibiting cortisol, increasing endorphins, lowering blood pressure, reducing the incidence of ulcers, and lifting the attitude. Given our current environment and reality, I’d say that the regular practice of faith and the disciplines that go with it – like prayer, fasting, and mediation – are more important than ever.”
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Spiritual Needs of Older Adults
Researcher Nancy C. Kehoe, RSCJ, Ph.D., has done extensive studies to identify fourteen spiritual needs of older adults. Among them are a need for meaning, purpose, and hope; a need for support in dealing with loss; a need for personal dignity and sense of worthiness; a need for unconditional love; and a need to love and serve others.
The importance of meeting spiritual needs can often be overlooked, but the benefits of faith on whole-body wellness are evident and effort should be made to meet these needs. If your loved one has difficulty getting to church or a Bible study because of mobility issues, offer to drive them or arrange transportation. If it becomes too difficult for them to leave their home, consider offering to read Scripture to them, do a Bible study with them, or ask a pastor or priest to visit them.
For those considering a move to a senior living community, choosing one that is faith-based or has a religious affiliation can help meet the spiritual needs of those whose faith is important to them. Snyder Village in Metamora, IL, is a Christian-based organization whose mission is “to provide for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others in a loving, dignified and Christian atmosphere.” Spiritual needs are met through campus Bible studies and devotionals, hymn sings, Protestant and Catholic chapel services, and a campus chaplain. However, Snyder Village is not associated with a particular denomination, and residents are welcomed regardless of religious affiliation.
It’s important to not overlook an older adult’s spiritual needs, even if mobility or health challenges are present. “Remember that because God is everywhere, it doesn’t take being in a special place or time to exercise your faith,” says Chaplain Parra. “You can pray anywhere, anytime. And just as with physical exercise – the more you do it, the stronger, more fit you will be.”
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COMMON CHALLENGES FACING SENIORS WHO LIVE ALONE
As more and more adults choose to stay in their own home well into their senior years, many find themselves living alone and facing new challenges as a result. In the United States, over 12 million adults over the age of 65 live alone, according to the Pew Research Center. If your loved one is one of the many seniors living alone, read on to learn some of the challenges he or she may be facing and what you can do to help.
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Challenge: Unchecked Health Concerns
Among people with health issues or difficulty seeing or hearing, new or worsening health symptoms can easily go unnoticed. Your loved one may not realize that a new health issue has crept up and might not be able to easily seek the medical attention they need. If they have received medical advice, some seniors who live alone have difficulty following directions for prescribed treatments and may struggle to remember to take medications and supplements.
Answer: Many seniors find relief after moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility where help is available if needed. Snyder Village, a Life Plan Community, provides its retirement community and assisted living residents peace of mind by offering 24/7 emergency response services.
If an individual wants to remain in his or her own home, a Home Care agency like Snyder Village Home Care can provide much-needed services. These trained caretakers can help give medication reminders and offer a watchful eye to help detect any new health symptoms that might creep up.
Challenge: Maintaining a Home & Finances
A lot of responsibility is involved in the running of a home. Rent or a mortgage has to be paid and utility bills are in constant need of attention. As an individual ages, memory loss can occur and it can become more and more difficult to keep up with the household bills. If the senior in your life has started to receive shut-off notices because of unpaid bills, this is a strong sign that he or she needs help at home. The upkeep that a home requires can become overwhelming to a senior as they age. Physical limitations can cause those tasks that used to be commonplace to become strenuous or even dangerous.
Answer: Rather than having to search for and hire different agencies or individuals to help with the upkeep of a home, a senior can consolidate their bills and eliminate their home maintenance tasks by moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility. These communities help take the burden of home maintenance off the senior so they can enjoy their new home without the worry of upkeep.
Challenge: Struggling to Get Essential Items
For many, it becomes more and more difficult to get out and about to run errands. Driving can become too dangerous for seniors as they age, and often physical limitations make running errands strenuous work. If it becomes too much of a challenge for the senior in your life to keep up with meeting personal needs and errands, they may be hesitant to admit they need help.
Answer: Next time you are running to the store, check in with a senior to ask if you can pick anything up for him or her. If the to-do list grows to be too much of a burden for those involved, contact a Home Care agency for some extra help. Snyder Village Home Care helps seniors by taking them to run errands or by running the errands for them. Moving to an Assisted Living community eliminates the need to run errands, as most facilities make sure the personal needs of their residents are being met.
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Challenge: Poor Nutrition
If physical limitations or a lack of energy make cooking and preparing meals difficult, poor nutrition and unwanted weight loss can easily occur. For seniors who lose a spouse who was the cook of the household, the know-how to prepare a meal may be missing. Often in our culture, eating a meal is seen as a social activity. If a senior is living alone, the motivation to prepare a meal just for one may be lacking, with undernutrition being the result. On the other hand, some seniors may gain an unhealthy amount of weight as they rely on easy fast food or junk food and lack getting the proper nutrition they need.
Answer: Several meal delivery services are available and more meal kit services are hitting the market to make cooking at home easier. Home Care services can come to a senior’s home and do meal preparation for them. Alternatively, if a senior moves to a senior living community, the community restaurants and dining rooms will prepare nutritionally-balanced meals for the residents. The social aspect that comes with dining is often a highlight in a senior living community.
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Challenge: Increased Loneliness
Being home-bound or unable to easily make it to events and social gatherings can quickly affect a senior’s mental health and well-being. Isolation can increase feelings of depression and anxiety if left unchecked.
Answer: If a senior is able to drive or get transportation, encourage them to get involved in his or her church or local community senior center. Many great activities and ways to connect with others are available. A benefit of living in a Retirement Community or Assisted Living is the instant community it provides. For example, Snyder Village’s Retirement Community and Assisted Living have staff members dedicated to creating engaging activities and social opportunities for its residents. Daily opportunities for fun activities are available, such as card games, crafts, exercise classes, Bible studies, and trips. It is easy for residents to make friends with their new neighbors as they take part in activities together.
It is important to take notice of the challenges the senior in your life may be facing if living alone. If the senior is not voicing their struggles to you, it does not necessarily mean an absence of struggles. Make the effort to reach out and offer a helping hand. It may be easier than you think to make an impact and help make a senior’s life more enjoyable and purposeful once again.
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CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.