Monday, July 21, 2014

Senior Care in Chapel HIll and Durham: Creative Senior Activities

By Helen Antipov

As we provide Senior Care in Chapel Hill and Durham we see that illness, loss of mobility, or limited physical abilities resulting from aging can be a source of stress for senior adults. Individuals who had once had full control over their lives suddenly find that they need the help of medical professionals and caregivers. Stress can be heightened during and after a hospital stay, and this can increase the person’s risk of being readmitted to the hospital. As medical professionals seek solutions to improving patients’ outcomes, many are turning to complementary therapies  to help patients overcome the psychological and emotional factors that may impede their progress. One such therapy is art therapy.

Senior Activities, especially art therapy has been shown to have a direct impact on individuals’ wellness and can help the elderly adapt to changes and loss brought on by age and/or illness. By engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, clay work and sculpting, jewelry making, scrap booking, and so forth, seniors have a channel for expression. Some studies have demonstrated that individuals involved in art activities needed to see their doctors less often, used less medication, and had a better outlook on life overall.

Here in this area we have a range of resources for our seniors so they can be active and stay active. In Orange County we have the two centers that have a range of activities. Visit the county site for a schedule of activities including art, dance and many others. As you sign up for these, often their is even lunch available. More information on the site will help you with that. Here are the 2 centers in Orange County - The Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough and the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill.

Central Orange Senior Center
103 Meadowlands Drive
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Phone: (919) 245-2015
Fax: (919) 732-2239
M - Th: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
F: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sa: 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Robert & Pearl Seymour Center
2551 Homestead Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Phone: (919) 968-2070
Fax: (919) 968-2093
M, W, Fr: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tu, Th: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sa: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

In Durham, we have 3 options with a 4th closed for renovations:
WD Hill Senior Center is located in a Durham Parks and Recreation facility and offers a wealth of programs and services. Older adults here participate in exercise classes, arts & crafts instruction, walking groups, games, and guest lecturers in health or adult education. Additionally, older adults enjoy a lunch program, holiday events, community performers, and much, much more!
1308 Fayetteville Street (W.D. Hill Recreation Center)
Lawanda Lewis, Manager 
Monday - Friday
8:30am - 1:30pm
Ph: 919.688.9158

Durham Center for Senior Life is located downtown at 406 Rigsbee Avenue and is a dedicated senior center, serving adults of Durham County. The senior center is operated by Durham Center for Senior Life (DCSL), an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and operates from 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
This is what the information they offer from their website:
The downtown senior center offers a variety of on-going programs, special events, and fun activities. Whether you are interested in lively exercise classes or learning a new skill, you will find that and everything in between here! Check out our monthly calendar for all of the details.

The Senior Center has a computer lab, exercise equipment room, arts & crafts area, TV lounge and game room with a Wii, pool table and ping pong table. In addition, there are several rooms for classes, meetings and exercise space.
Art can help dementia and stroke patients communicate nonverbally and can uncover hidden abilities that seniors may not have known they had. Working on a creative piece can give seniors who may feel as though they no longer have any control over their lives the ability to take charge, be responsible, and have control over the outcome of their work. The finished creative piece stands as a reminder that they can still learn and adjust to life’s circumstances and that they still have abilities and resources. This has the effect of instilling hope and confidence in a person who may have been defeated by feelings of dejection.

Lastly, the Little River Senior Center is located in the Little River Community Center in Bahama, which is situated in the northern part of Durham County. Seniors at Little River enjoy many programs including exercise classes, health education seminars, holiday activities, special events in partnership with local businesses, a daily lunch program, and much, much more! The facilities include not only the senior center, but also a gymnasium, quilting room and ceramics studio.

8305 Roxboro Road
(Little River Community Complex, Bahama)
Corrie Smith, Manager
Monday - Friday
08:30am - 1:30pm
Ph: 919.477.6066

Even if seniors do not have direct guidance from a licensed art therapist, they can still benefit from creative activities. Well-trained caregivers can choose creative activities that take advantage of seniors’ strengths and abilities, enabling them to successfully produce works they can be proud of and that give them joy. Caregivers can share in this pursuit by assisting when seniors need help, for example aiding the senior with detail work during jewelry making if the senior has failing eyesight or problems with dexterity. Seniors can find companionship and a personal connection with caregivers by sharing their own experiences and knowledge as they work on the creative piece.

Focusing on the creative process serves to alleviate stress by providing seniors who are struggling with physical limitations with a sense of purpose. In turn, the decrease, or even the perception of a decrease, in stress levels may be just what the doctor ordered to allow the senior to successfully recover at home.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that caregivers go through. We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and in finding senior activities that can make a difference in their daily life. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us at online.

Chancellor, B. Duncan, A. & Chatterjee, A. (2014). Art therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 39, 1–11. DOI 10.3233/JAD-131295.

Edmonson, D., Green, P., Ye, S., Halazun, H.J. & Davidson, K.W. (March 2014). Psychological Stress and 30-day all-cause hospital readmission in acute coronary syndrome patients: An observational cohort study. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91477. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091477.

Johnson, C.M. & Sullivan-Marx, E.M. (2006 ).Art therapy: Using the creative process for healing and hope among African American older adults. Geriatric Nursing, 27(5), 309–316. DOI: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2006.08.010.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Alzheimer’s Care Chapel Hill and Durham: Communication Tips

By Helen Antipov

In providing Alzheimer's Care in Chapel Hill and Durham we see the most debilitative and indicative symptom of Alzheimer's disease is the gradual loss of words. Where it can be frustrating for you, realize that the Alzheimer's patients realize there is a problem, even though they may not have the capacity to understand what is happening. This can cause instances of confusion, fright and frustration for the person with Alzheimer's disease as well as for loved ones and caregivers of those with Alzheimer's.

In an effort to help those dealing with seniors with Alzheimer's, the Alzheimer's Association suggests the following tips to achieve better communication.

First, it is important to learn to recognize the changes in communication and behavior in those with Alzheimer's. Second, caregivers and family members need to learn how to assist in communication and to identify and adapt their own communication styles to those of the individual Alzheimer's sufferer.

It is important to be patient and supportive when trying to communicate. Take the time to listen with no interruptions or criticisms. Try to offer encouragement and reassurance that he or she take the time needed to try to form thoughts into proper words and try to resist correcting misused words. Many times there is meaning behind those words and if you take the time you may discover the intended meaning. Focus on the emotion that may lie within the words. Nuances in voice tone as well as hand gestures and facial expressions can all be critical in fully understanding the senior.

At times you may become angry or frustrated, yourself, but understand that criticizing or arguing only serves to increase levels of discomfort and agitation for those with Alzheimer's. Instead, practice patience and offer occasional suggestions for words they are trying to speak. When appropriate, retreat to a quiet place to communicate. Noise and crowds may intimidate the Alzheimer's patient, resulting in increased frustration and anxiety as well as decreased verbalization. Sometimes, all the person needs is a bit of quiet to organize their thoughts and correctly verbalize them.

If your senior is in late stages of Alzheimer's there are other measures you can take to improve communication efforts. Let the person know who you are to create a sense of familiarity. Use simple words and sentences and speak slowly in a lowered tone of voice. Be prepared to repeat your questions or information you are imparting, and also be prepared for those with Alzheimer's to repeat themselves. Be respectful, calm and caring in your actions and tone of voice. Using signals or written words to communicate or as reminders can be extremely helpful.

Above all, try to remain positive even in the face of this difficult condition. Alzheimer's disease is extremely trying for the patient and the caregiver, family members and friends who are dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Remember, the challenges are neither your fault nor theirs. Patience, understanding and compassion on your part can mean the difference between failure and success in effective communication.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that caregivers go through. We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and Alzheimer's. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us at online.

Alzheimer's Association. Communication and alzheimer's. Retrieved on November 8, 2010 from