Come read Raya’s Paradise blog about assisted living Los Angeles.

All of our residents here at Raya’s Paradise are looking forward to the Festive season. Of course, along with the season’s good cheer, comes the cold weather.  This is a time for everyone at Raya’s Paradise to take just a little extra care to help avoid an illness or injury. The chances of catching a common cold, flu or even pneumonia are greatly heightened in the cold weather.  At Raya’s Paradise, we are trying to get ahead of the problem and making sure all of our residents are aware of the risks at this time of the year. Here are 4 tips we give to everyone here at Raya’s:  #1. Have the Flu Shot  The best way to stay protected against the flu is by having a flu shot. The flu season starts in October and the CDC recommend that people get inoculated by the end of that month. The flu shot is the best way to stay free of this virus; one that has been responsible for a number of deaths over the past few years. Getting the flu shot will also protect family, friends and loved ones that come into contact with you during the festive period.  #2. Eat Well  Maintaining a healthy diet and eating well are important to keep your immune system strong. Vitamin D is particularly important at this time of year as you will have less exposure to the sun. The National Institute of Health recommend the following foods as a good source of Vitamin D: 
  • Salmon 
  • Tuna 
  • Swordfish 
  • Fortified milk 
  • Yogurt 
  • Orange juice 
  • Breakfast cereals 
#3. Dress Appropriately  Dress in clothes that are designed for winter and that will keep you warm when outdoors. This includes your footwear. Dressing loosely, in layers will give you great insulation and let you remove a layer if you get too warm or go inside. Remember the small but essential things: hat, gloves, scarf, warm socks etc. Also, with your footwear, make sure you have good grip for rainy conditions and try to wear something waterproof too.  #4. Preparing Your Home  We take precautions to prepare the accommodation for winter: weather stripping windows and doors; checking heating and ventilation systems are fully operational; stocking up on supplies just in case deliveries are delayed in the poor weather. We also check all of the outdoor lighting is working to reduce the risk of trips and falls at night. 
We love our residents and are thrilled to be in the business of caring for them. This is one of our favorite times of the year where we host a holiday party at each community. We hope you enjoy these pics of the fun had by all.

There comes a point when you are caring for a loved one, when you have to ask yourself what is the best decision for me as well as for the person I am caring for. Whether you decide to continue to care for your loved one or start to explore other options such as a professional care home, take the time to insure your own personal health and well being. There is a reason that during the safety briefing on a plane they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, then help your love ones. If you don’t take care of yourself you have no way to care for someone else. “There is a cost to caring,” states Charles Figley, an expert in trauma and researcher in the field of burnout; he comments that compassion fatigue is something that can occur when caring for someone long term. Take a moment to examine how you feel and see if you may be experiencing any level of burnout or even compassion fatigue and then take the time to explore ways to best care for yourself as well as those you love.

Before we go much further, let’s briefly explore the difference between burnout vs. compassion fatigue.  Figley describes burnout as the end result of a gradual process of wearing down.  It is the long-term consequences of unaddressed compassion fatigue, resulting in emotional exhaustion and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment and achievement.  Recovering from burnout is often a more lengthy process.

Compassion fatigue is often a result of the daily care we do, and is a more immediate specific response.   It is often characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion; symptoms resembling depression; and usually a shift in a person’s sense of hope and optimism about the future value of the care they are offering.  This may not be a constant feeling, but it something that comes and goes.  The recovery from compassion fatigue is often less lengthy then burnout.

Are you isolating yourself, bottling up your emotions, having nightmares or even physical ailments? Do you suffer from compulsive behaviors such as over eating or over spending or have difficulty concentrating. Do you feel stressed out or depressed? These are symptoms of compassion fatigue. There is no cure for compassion fatigue but by practicing good self care techniques daily can help you to be physically and emotionally healthy and decrease these symptoms.

A self-care plan begins with you.  It begins with being kind to yourself, becoming aware of how things are effecting you (both physically and emotionally), setting boundaries, expressing your needs, taking actions to aide yourself, surrounding yourself with individuals that listen and support you and being able to listen and support others around you.  Although when you care for someone it seems like you have no time, you need to take the time to have healthy eating and exercise habits. Get plenty of rest and hydrate yourself. Develop good time and self management skills even if it means saying no.  Have a support system, take breaks and try to enjoy a balance in your life. Do not give up all of your friends and hobbies.  Pick your battles and even though it is hard, consider professional care givers, if not on a regular basis then consider short term help.  You can sometimes schedule breaks, where you use a professional care giver in the home or facility for a few weeks a year, allowing yourself to have time to decompress and feel better before you can no longer care for your loved one.
The biggest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving, is almost here. For families with an aging loved one, that brings up the question of how to get that person to the feast. Whether travel means just a few hours by car or a plane ride, here are some tips for making sure your voyage goes as smoothly as possible. 1. Talk to your loved one’s doctor. Make sure that it’s OK for them to travel before you take off, and that the place where you’re headed is somewhere they can handle. Your doctor will let you know if there’s any special preparations you need to make in advance, and can also give you advice on medication to take if problems with anxiety or other issues arise. Make sure that you fill your loved one’s prescriptions before you go. 2. Do some advance planning. Think through your trip with your loved one’s limitations in mind. Are you renting a car? Then make sure you’ve requested a minivan or other vehicle that will be easy for them to get into and out of. Make sure you can fit their wheelchair and any other bulky equipment. If you’re flying, put in a request for seats meant for the disabled and notify the airline of any dietary restrictions. Also request a wheelchair so that you have some help navigating the airport. Contact both your hotel and airline to make sure they are able to handle any medical equipment that your loved one needs. Request a hotel room at ground level. 3. Be realistic. You may need to scale down on your usual travel routine. Keep things simple. For example, consider renting a cabin in the woods that’s just a two-hour drive away, rather than going to Europe or planning anything that will require a lot of walking (such as visiting an amusement park). Do your research in advance to make sure the location is properly equipped to have your loved one as a guest. Put plenty of padding in your schedule and don’t overload on the activities: it will likely take much more time to do things than normal. 4. Make sure you have necessary supplies. Special stockings can help if your loved one will be sitting for long periods, so that their extremities don’t go numb or a blood clot forms. Make sure you have protective gear for the sun, and especially that you have enough water since seniors are more susceptible to dehydration. Make sure medical information is with you at all times in case there’s an emergency.
It’s well known that having friends boosts your wellbeing.  In fact, today’s research has even shown that having numerous friends reduces the risk of medical conditions like heart disease. “Stereotypes of aging tend to paint older adults in many cultures as sad and lonely,” says lead author Dr. Wändi Bruine de Bruin in a release by the Americans Psychological Association. Recent studies have also demonstrated the continued importance of friendship and positive relationship networks for assisted living residents without cognitive impairment and for residents with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. Engagement Coordinator for Raya’s Paradise, Elsa Argueta added, “my goal is to encourage and create opportunities for our residents to make new personal connections. Through programs designed based on our residents’ hobbies and interests, I have found that seniors begin to gravitate to those with shared interests. This way they are able to keep up the social interactions that keep them mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. At Raya’s Paradise, we are aware that making friends in a new place can be a challenge. Elsa added, “because of this, we create events for new residents that allow for connections. These connections result in a feeling of community and family.” As a best practice, Elsa recommended that though a new residents may be somewhat anxious, tired, or overwhelmed by a move, “it is a great start to attend outing and activities as they act as a good way to strike up conversations, ask questions, and find out what upcoming programs and special events there are to look forward to.”
At the final stage, Alzheimer’s disease begins to affect a person’s physical as well as their mental capacity. At this point, the person will require intensive, round-the-clock caregiving: assistance with dressing, eating, using the bathroom, and other ordinary tasks. The goal at this point is to make sure your loved one is comfortable and that they maintain as much dignity as possible. At this stage, communication becomes difficult, and the person loses the ability to have a conversation. They might need assistance in order to walk, and their muscles might become rigid or possess abnormal reflexes. As the disease progresses they will likely also become unable to control their bladder or to swallow. At this stage, it is important to watch for infections; there is an especially high chance of pneumonia. Due to the extent of your loved one’s needs now, this is the time when you’re most likely to need to move the person to a facility where they can receive the proper care. This is a decision that will require lots of research and education to make sure you’re making the right choice. On this website, we have many different resources to help you find the right Alzheimer’s care solution. Though they have trouble speaking, your loved one is still “there.” They feel emotions such as calmness, fear, and love. They can also still use their senses to perceive you and the world around them – this is their primary way of interacting. Your main focus will be on providing for their physical well-being, but try to find ways to connect with them. You might read to them, look at old photographs, play music they might like, give them some potpourri to smell, or make them a meal they would enjoy. Think about the basic life pleasures that many of us take for granted – these are the kind of things your loved one can take pleasure in at this point. This stage of the disease is one that is difficult for caregivers, both on an emotional level and on a physical level too. As the end of your loved one’s life approaches, you might be feeling sad, relieved, or numb to any feeling at all. These reactions are all normal. Receiving guidance from a bereavement specialist, therapist, clergy member, or other support can help you address these feelings in a healthy way. It is important to confront your grief.
For seniors in delicate health, forgetting to take medication or taking it improperly can have more dire consequences than one might think. The federal government estimates that 10% of hospital admissions are due to taking medication incorrectly, and over 125,000 people die each year as a result of this problem. Almost a quarter of nursing home admissions might be due to seniors having trouble with taking their medication. Unfortunately, this is an alarmingly common problem, with over half of all seniors taking medication incorrectly. Half of those, in turn, make the kind of mistakes that could have serious ramifications! When we consider this information in light of the challenges of seniors with dementia, it’s clear that this is a problem caregivers and family members need to be alert about. There are many devices and solutions available to help keep loved ones on track. One simple remedy is buying a pill dispenser or a similar device. Your local drug store probably carries basic versions that will both organize pills and sound some kind of alarm or another reminder. There are also more elaborate and expensive systems that might, for example, call a designated caregiver if the senior has missed a dose. There are even smartphone apps for this issue. Drug companies themselves are also trying to help, with phone calls to seniors who are taking their products. However, studies have shown that these methods don’t solve the problem. Sometimes this is because the devices are too complicated for seniors to use, or because they are not equipped to handle the typical senior’s complex medication regimen. And these systems often require input from a senior who may no longer be organized or independent enough to do what’s needed. Even if a loved one sets up the system initially, snafus like dead batteries or a malfunction could cause that effort to be useless. For this reason, the best solution is to have a family member or other caregiver help the seniors with managing their prescriptions. A human helper can also address when forgetfulness is not the issue so much as unwillingness or lack of understanding about why a particular medication is important. This can be a particular concern for dementia sufferers who are determined to hang on to control and demonstrate their independence. Ideally, there would be some kind of gadget or gizmo to make this problem go away, but this is one issue that requires a human touch.
Many caregivers are proud of the fact that they’re helping their loved one and doing what they can to keep that person home with the family. But no one claims that caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is easy. Taking on this heroic task is without a doubt exhausting: mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Most caregivers report feeling high levels of emotional stress, and many are just simply worn out physically. For this reason, all caregivers should consider the option of respite care. Respite care is offered at assisted living and similar facilities. A loved one can check into the facility temporarily and there get the expert care they need, allowing caregivers some time to recharge. This can be for as long as a week or two, or as short as an afternoon, giving you the chance to get some important errands done. Rather than frantically doing a search for a respite care facility when you’re at the end of your rope and in a panic, it’s best to start your research before you think you need it, while caregiving still seems manageable. Talk to senior homes and adult daycare programs in your area to learn about the different options available. Respite care might be a good change not just for you, but for your loved one as well. They may enjoy the chance to interact with the other seniors that they meet in their temporary home. Many facilities will hold entertaining events, or run fun activities that are specially designed for their particular ability level. Some Alzheimer’s patients may have some trouble with being in a new environment. However, they do have the capability to get used to being in a new place if you make taking a break a regular routine. How do you know when making use of respite care might be a good idea? Pay attention to your emotions and your body to recognize burnout. These include having trouble sleeping, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and anger. Your body will often warn you when you’re getting in over your head, so be mindful of any health problems that crop up. Respite care is not a cop-out, and you are not abandoning your loved one. Rather, you are taking a break to prevent your own burnout. By taking advantage of the respite care option, you are strengthening your ability to provide the best possible care for your loved one. Consider that if you ignore your stress, you may create bigger problems down the line that will result in you giving up caregiving permanently. You can always run much further if you start and stop, rather than push through past the point of exhaustion. Contact us for more information about the respite care options at Raya’s Paradise.
A recent Forbes article confirmed what many of us already know, “people often have trouble making plans with their loved ones as they age, which can leave families unprepared to deal with unexpected circumstances.” Over and over, Raya’s Paradise works with families whose aging parents experience a sudden accident or illness. They then scramble to identify the best option; often failing to thoroughly think through due to time constraints and fears.  “Families must start now to have peace of mind later” the article continues.
Chief Operating Officer and Social Worker of Raya’s Paradise, Monica Westphaln, recommends that the first step is finding a good time to talk to an aging parent. Westphaln advises, “make sure you listen to what they want rather than bringing them a plan.” By taking the time to listen to the needs of an aging parent, Westphaln adds, “you can take preferences into account to help create an individual plan for care.” Involving a loved one in the process ensures that “independence and dignity are simultaneously preserved.” Including a loved one in the conversation assures a loved one they are “important to the family” and enables you to “continue the conversations.” Starting early conversations further reduces stress on families. Westphaln notes, in an event of crisis, families can feel confident that the actions taken are “aligned with the wants and needs of your parent.”
Raya’s Paradise trained team members and clinical professionals are available to provide continuing education to families as needs progress. Those who have joined the Raya’s Paradise family have recognized Raya’s for creating an accessible network of professionals who assist with guidance and direction throughout the aging process.