Author: Bob Pontius

Depression and Seniors

QUESTION: My mom seems depressed lately, could this actually be true?

Did you know that depression is very common among older adults? Some feel that if they have lost their health, lost their spouse, lost their friends, “lost” their house, and now they don’t know what to do. Interestingly, sadness doesn’t always accompany depression but forgetfulness, aches & pains and irritability often do! Many Seniors have never had to deal with such an issue. They think that if they just keep pulling up their bootstraps and working harder then everything will be okay. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work when it comes to aging! We all will get older no matter what! If you are a senior and think you might be depressed or you know a senior who is, don’t hesitate to get help. There have been amazing advances in medications as well as counseling. Other tips include:

1) Get more exercise- get those endorphins flowing!

2) Connect with others- we all know how the smile of a friend makes us feel better.

3) Get more sleep!

4) Eat a more balanced diet. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you can eat junk food all the time!

Believe it or not, a move to a campus such as Stow-Glen can really help with the cure. We help with exercises, diet and most of all, friends- how great would it be to have hundreds of neighbors of the same age and interests!

For more information on all that we offer, please visit

Helping a senior get dressed

Question: I think mom needs help getting dressed, what do I do?

If you’ve ever helped a senior get dressed, you know it can be a tough situation. If you’re a senior who has a hard time, you know what I’m talking about! Here are some tips to make this awkward dance a little less awkward!

  1. The person who wears the clothes picks out the clothes! My grandfather looked like a hobo most days but it was a look he had spent more than 70 years crafting- trying to get him to change now would have only led to arguments and grief! (However, if dementia is a concern, offering 2 sets as a choice might work!)
  2. Take the process slowly! It must take a friend of mine 10 minutes to put on his socks- but that’s ok! As long as he’s safe and balanced he doesn’t need any help.
  3. Arthritis does not like buttons, zippers and hooks! Consider options from home care websites that feature hidden Velcro, elastic waistbands and slip-on shoes.

Helping someone get dressed can be a delicate situation, especially if it’s a parent. Needing someone to help you get dressed is even worse, especially if it’s on of your kids.

Stow-Glen has the largest staff in the area to help with these awkward and potentially embarrassing situations- we know what to do and how to handle it- we’ve been doing it since 1984! Let us know if we can help- call today!

Healthy Eating for Seniors

QUESTION: My dad lives alone and is not eating healthy, what can I do?

Healthy eating can be a challenge as we age. Many problems center on underlying health conditions. Here are some tips for healthier eating for seniors!

  1. If you have difficulties chewing foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and meat-        ~ Try soft canned fruits, ground meat/high protein substitutes and try             steamed/creamed vegetables! Maybe even have a V8!
  2. If you have difficulty shopping for groceries,                                                         ~ Ask your grocery store to deliver, ask your church for a volunteer or find a local errand service at a minimal fee!
  3. If you have no appetite-

For many seniors, mealtime equates to social hour but if they are alone, they have no reason to sit and eat a nice meal! Find lunch groups, eat with family and friends!

One of the benefits of a move to Stow-Glen Retirement Village is a dietary and foodservice department that serves 3 meals a day to more than 300 people of extremely varying dietary needs. All 3 meals are included in any of our living areas and can be custom made per request! Call today for more information about our restaurant style meals!


Mental Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

QUESTION: My dad has Parkinson’s and seems much more                               “out if it” lately.Why?

Parkinson’s disease is primarily described as a movement disorder, so caregivers are surprised when they realize how many other areas of functioning are affected, including cognition (thinking), vision, emotions and the autonomic nervous system which controls things like bowel and bladder function. When changes occur, they are often not addressed, and partners may find them more difficult to cope with than the motor skill problems because of their impact on relationships.

Approximately 50% of patients with Parkinson’s will experience some form of cognitive impairment. To learn more about “Cognition and Parkinson’s Disease,” please make plans to attend the free lunch & learn on March 23 in Cedar Hall at Stow-Glen. Philip Fastenau, PhD, Director of Neuropsychology at UH Cleveland Medical Center will discuss the implications of these cognitive changes, how to manage them, and when to ask whether dementia is a concern. Seating will be at 11:30am, lunch service and speaker at 12noon. Representatives from the National Parkinson Foundation, Ohio Chapter will be present to educate on their programs.

Forgetfulness or Alzheimer’s?

I forget where my keys are all the time, do I have Alzheimer’s?

An older friend told he thinks he’s getting Alzheimer’s because he keeps forgetting things like where he put his keys, his grandkids names and to take his cell phone with him when he leaves the house. When I pressed for more details, it turns out he’s never kept his keys in one spot and has always had to look for them. He has 13 grandkids- 7 out of state! And he hates his cell phone and the fact that his kids bought it for him and demand he take it whenever he leaves his house!

Forgetting things as we age is normal- after all; our brain (the hippocampus) actually deteriorates with age! Here are a few tips to determine age-appropriate forgetfulness and something like Alzheimer’s.

  1. Occasionally forgetting where you put things you use regularly, like glasses or keys. The time for concern is when you forget that you wear glasses or don’t know what the keys are for.
  2. Forgetting names, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name. The time for concern is when you forget who they are, not just their name.
  3. Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered. The time for concern is when you don’t remember where you are, not why you’re there.

If you or a loved one has been struggling in these areas, don’t hesitate to give us a call- we’ve been solving these problems for over 30 years!

Why don’t I laugh anymore?

Why don’t I laugh anymore?

Someone recently told me they think they lost their sense of humor along with their youth. While some people think that we lose our funny bone with age, most experts agree that it’s related to a loss of hearing or other senses- it’s only the ability to experience humor is different at 90! In fact, all experts agree that humor promotes good health, here are four important areas:

  1. Physical Wellness: humor can have a positive impact on the perception of pain, it benefits our immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and relieves stress. 15 minutes of a good hearty belly laugh (with tears!) is the same physical workout as 10 minutes on the treadmill at brisk pace!
  2. Emotional Wellness: Humor can be a great and needed distraction, it relieves stress, it boosts our mood and is an anxiety killer!
  3. Social Engagement: Humor helps us socially- it connects us to others. The great Victor Borge said “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
  4. Brain Health: Humor is a great tool for sustaining optimum intellectual function. Despite its reputation as a childish mode of thinking, humor can actually be a highly developed mental exercise, training us to approach ideas in new ways. Even a lowly pun requires the brain to shift perspective and “stretch” a little bit.

Keeping humor in our lives as we age is very important!

Discussing Politics with Grandpa

How can we discuss politics between generations anymore?

A friend was recently telling me that her son won’t go around Grandpa anymore because grandpas political views are so different than his. The young man often vents to mom “He’s such an old stick in the mud- I can’t get him to change!!” I reminded her that Grandpa has had 80+ years to form his views- he’s not changing anything now!

Here are some tips on how have an “intergenerational political discussion:”

  1. Focus on common ground. This should be easy. Many Americans agree that we live in a pretty great place, talk about what you love about the good old USA.
  2. Seek to understand, then be understood. Myself and many of my cousins disagreed with our wise old Grandpa on many of his views, but we knew he had lived a full and rich life and had reasons for his views. We always asked why he stood for or against certain things. We never tried to change him, only understand why. It always changed how we had these discussions.
  3. Never accuse or blame. Whether we admit it or not, we generally have a deep love for our family members and if we feel attacked during a discussion, it can cause a deep riff that can be difficult to fix. I once heard a child say to an elderly parent “You’re the reason this country is in such a mess! It’s your generations fault!” It’s going to be hard to fix those hurt feelings!

Always remember, we can still talk about other important things. Like the weather. The Cleveland Indians. Or even how each other are doing.

Stow-Glen Home Health Care

What is “Home Health” and how does one qualify?

Recently, a doctor told an elderly friend of mine that they might want to consider “having home health come to the house a few days a week.” She had no idea what that meant so she gave me a call, here’s how I explained it:

Skilled Home Health/Therapy/Visiting nurse: a patient must have had a “face-to-face” with their doctor within 30 days and must be homebound (leaving home is a considerable and taxing effort). A nurse and/or therapist will visit every few days to ensure a doctor ordered plan of care is being followed. Many medical concerns related to the illness are covered by the patients insurance.

Private duty/home care: this is generally a private pay-by-the-hour service where a patient needs help with their activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and grooming. For a myriad of reasons, the patient (or, client) wants or needs to stay home. This service is a big help in turning a patients private residence into an assisted living. The visiting nurses aide is generally present 2-4 hours a day. Rates for this service can vary greatly.

Did you that Stow-Glen Home Health can help you stay home longer? Call today for a free evaluation- we’ll help with the paperwork and even the doctors orders!

How Do I Downsize and Declutter

QUESTION: How do I de-clutter & downsize all my “collections”?

As I watch my parents try to downsize a house they’ve lived in for 30+ years, I’m learning a thing or two.

  1. Organize. The first thing to do is organize everything into 3 categories: Keep, Donate, and Trash. Don’t spend too much time wondering if your granddaughter wants a figurine your Aunt Betty had in the 40’s. Just put it in one of the 3 groups and then ask your family (later) to make sure everything is in an appropriate group. If they want something, ask them to speak up!
  2. Downsize. Don’t play around with this one- focus on the “donate” and “trash” categories. If you haven’t touched it in a year or more, why do you still have it? Trust me; you will not ever need that 70’s Hawaiian print shirt ever again. Get rid of it! And your kids don’t want the “heirloom punchbowls!”
  3. Sell. Yes, selling the house and moving is very important and might even be necessary at some point. Start the conversation with a real estate expert that you know and trust, it’s much better and easier if you start this conversation early

Bah-Humbug Grandpa Christmas!

Why do I feel “Bah-Humbug” around Christmas?

 If you’re like most Americans, you tend to get a little cranky around the Holidays- especially as you get older! Many times this less than cheery attitude is a result of loss, missing the “good old days,” and not having anything to do around the holidays.

My encouragement to you is to get up and find something to do- go volunteer and help! I love the old saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and I think this is very important around the Holidays. You could sit at home and complain or you can make the world a better place. You could start by calling your church, a local food pantry or senior center. Places like this always need your help around this time of year.

Stow-Glen Retirement Village welcomes volunteers of all ages at all times of the year, but especially at Christmas. Our volunteers help with activities, arts & crafts, church services and visitation. So, if you’re feeling the “bah-humbug” spirit this Christmas Season, and want to experience the joy of volunteering, give us a call! We’d love to see you in a Santa hat visiting with our residents or helping make ornaments.