Prevent Falls with These Senior Exercises for Balance

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults?

Falls happen at all ages, but as we grow older, we lose muscle tone and our balance suffers. This leads to a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, balance, like any physical ability, can be improved with regular practice and exercise.

In this article, we’ll go over four senior exercises for balance that, if done regularly, can help prevent falls and keep your body strong and healthy for years to come.

The Tight Rope Walk

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out at your sides, parallel to the ground. Pick up one foot and place it in front of the other to form a line, like walking over a tight rope. Pause for a second or two to make sure you’re balanced and then repeat with the next foot.

See how far you can go across the room with this exercise. It’s a great exercise for helping your brain and feet coordinate and developing strength in your feet and ankles. And, as an added bonus, you’ll develop strength in your arms and shoulders by holding them out at your sides.

Tree Pose

Tree is an ancient yoga pose that’s known to help improve balance. There are many variations of this pose, so you can adjust it to your skill level and increase the difficulty as you improve.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left, holding your right foot just above the floor. If you have the ability, turn your right foot in, placing the sole of your right foot on your left inner calf to form a triangle wiht your right leg.

Once you’ve mastered this, pick your arms up and raise them straight out at your sides, fingers stretched wide to mimic a tree leaf. Then reach your arms up over your head and touch your palms together.

Again, if you can’t do this on the first go, it’s okay to only do a portion of this pose to start. Finally, hold the pose for several seconds, then repeat on the other leg.

Sit, Stand, Sit

This simple exercise can make a big difference in your leg strength over time. Your legs are the base for your body, so the stronger your leg muscles, the more steady your base and the less likely you are to fall.

Start by sitting in a chair facing a wall. Leave enough space between your legs and the wall to allow you to stand up comfortably.

Touch the wall with your palms to steady yourself. Then rise up out of the chair to a standing position. If you need to, you can place your hands on the arms or seat of the chair and use them to help push you up.

Once you’re standing, sit back down in the chair and repeat the process 10 times, or as many times as you’re comfortable.

Mountain Pose

Mountain is another ancient yoga pose designed to help with balance. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands down at your sides. Face forward and close your eyes.

Mentally check in with your feet and legs. Feel your feet root to the ground to form a strong base for your body or “mountain”. Stand like this with your eyes closed as long as you like.

This seems like a simple exercise, but it’s very important for keeping your mind connected with your feet. The more aware you are of your feet and legs, the less likely you are to fall when you’re caught off guard.

Try These Senior Exercises for Balance

These senior exercises for balance are a great way to improve your balance from home. However, if you have a history of falls or recurring injuries, you should talk to your doctor about physical therapy to help with balance.

At St. William’s Living Center, we have a physical therapists on staff to help you with all of your exercise needs. Contact us today to learn about how physical therapy can help you recover and prevent falls in the future.

What Is Hospice Care? 5 Facts to Know

Did you know that 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive hospice care annually? And that number is increasing with each passing year.

End-of-life care isn’t an easy subject for most of us to think about, but it is something that’s important to discuss with your loved ones. Many people don’t understand the many benefits of hospice care.

If you find yourself asking “What is hospice care?”, we’re here to help. Here are five facts to know about this special type of healthcare.

1. Hospice is Supportive Care

Rather than treating the underlying illness, hospice care focuses on supporting the patient through day-to-day life. Symptom control is the number one priority. By treating the symptoms of the disease, hospice caregivers make patients more comfortable so they can live their final days to the fullest.

A care plan is established for each patient by hospice professionals. This care plan is tailored to the needs of the patient and offers 24-hour support.

2. Hospice Helps with Daily Life Activities

Hospice is more than just healthcare. Care professionals help the patient with simple tasks like bathing, preparing food, doing laundry, and cleaning their home. They can also help family members learn how to do these activities so they can support their loved ones during difficult times. 

3. Hospice Care Includes Emotional Support 

It’s not uncommon for terminally ill patients to suffer from high levels of anxiety and even depression. Hospice care workers are specially trained to offer emotional support to those dealing with a terminal illness. They can even offer spiritual guidance if that is what the patient needs.

Hospice care workers are also a great source of companionship to the patient and their family members. They can provide some needed time off to family members who take on the brunt of the caregiving responsibilities.

4. You Can Receive Hospice Care in a Nursing Home

Most people believe that a loved one must be at home to receive hospice care, but that’s not true. If your family member lives in a nursing home, they too can receive hospice benefits. 

Nursing home residents that opt for hospice care will receive regular visits from hospice nurses that are specially trained in end-of-life care. They’ll work with the nursing home staff to ensure that the care plan is working as it should and they’ll offer suggestions for therapy and other care procedures that can improve the resident’s quality of life.

5. Hospice is for the Entire Family

Hospice can be a benefit to the entire family, not just the patient. The hospice service will provide access to counselors during the illness and even after death, to help family members cope. 

They’ll keep family members in the loop during the entire process and ensure that everyone’s wishes are respected. Daily meetings with hospice caregivers can offer family members hope and stress relief during these trying times. 

What Is Hospice Care? It’s Your Choice

Hospice care is an excellent choice for those who are looking to live a more comfortable life during their final days. Talk to your loved ones about choosing hospice care when the time comes. 

At St. William’s Living Center, we understand the difficulties surrounding end-of-life care decisions. Call us anytime to discuss hospice care options in Parkers Prairie.

Do you Have Difficulty Paying Attention to the Right Things?

What is it like to race down a hill on a bike, and get so side-tracked with all the distractions along the way that you don’t even notice the pot hole in front of you?  That’s what oftentimes happens with those that struggle with attentional and hyperactivity problems.    Those racing brains spill out loads of information, but with an undeveloped filtering system to organize the data overload. If our brains don’t filter out all the sensory input it takes in, we are left with a whole host of intruding thoughts that we don’t know what to do with.

ADD/ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children today.  According to a 2018 study from the American Medical Association, the prevalence of ADHD in U.S. children and adolescents has increased from 6.1 percent in 1997 to 10.2 percent in 2016.  Most children outgrow the symptoms with improved brain development, but approximately 4% adults also maintain symptoms. There are at least two primary attentional problems; including:

  • Attentional Problems:  Those that simply have difficulty sustaining attention, making careless mistakes, being disorganized, having difficulty listening to others and following instructions, completing tasks in a timely manner or that require sustained effort, are forgetful and are easily distracted.  Possibly these individuals react to this over-load by retracting within themselves as a coping mechanism.
  • Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Problems:  Those that struggle with excessive hyperactivity, including restlessness and being intrusively fidgety, difficulty being patient or playing quietly, speaking out of turn or interrupting frequently, is oftentimes “on the go” as if driven by a motor, and have difficulty taking turns.  Oftentimes, those struggling with hyperactivity also have difficulty managing their impulses.  For example, they oftentimes engage in activities without thinking or considering the consequences, putting themselves at risk.  Possibly these individuals react to over-stimulation by expelling it out of themselves.

The causes of ADHD are unknown. Researchers say several things may lead to it, including a family predisposition, a chemical imbalance, slowed development in 5 parts of the brain that control attention, brain changes or developmental problems during pregnancy (e.g., poor nutrition, smoking, drinking, substance abuse), etc.

There are multiple treatment efforts made to help those struggling with attentional problems, including behavioral therapy for children and parents, pharmacological therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, ADHD coaching, symptom control treatment, making accommodations, etc.  Unfortunately, if left untreated, those with attentional problems are more at risk of having self-esteem problems, behavioral problems, poor performance at school, troubled relationships; and as adults, substance abuse and legal problems. 

It is important to recognize that the behavior, not the person, is the problem.   These individuals, just like everyone else, respond poorly to being judged, avoided or punished.  Guiding those suffering with this brain disorder is crucial to helping them improve. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is one who is easily overwhelmed by stimulation outside of themselves, such as loud noises, bright lights, busy schedules, strong smells, and course fabrics or tags.  They can also become frazzled by internal stimulation, such as dealing with other people’s moods, are overcome their own pain, feeling pressure to get things done in a short period of time, becoming moody or have difficulty concentrating when hungry, startles easily, or cannot function without sufficient sleep.  With this level of sensitivity, HSP need to find a way to cope, usually by withdrawing for a while or changing their environment so that it is more tolerable.

With this, it is important to understand that the brains of HSP actually work differently than those who don’t struggle with this.  A HSP’s brain processes information more thoroughly, and with added detail in scope.  They function well when they have time to process and work through what is in front of them.  However, they become overloaded when the stimulation they experience becomes too much.  That is, for example, why they oftentimes enjoy the arts, including concerts and readings, one-to-one conversations, that have with it a more thorough or deeper reflection, and with less demand.

 Unfortunately, an HSP carries traits that the American culture has difficulty assimilating with our high-paced and demanding lifestyle.  Subsequently, HSP’s struggle with low self-esteem, and feel abnormal or devalued or don’t measure up to the standards held by society, oftentimes being told, “You are too sensitive”!

Highly sensitive people need to accept and tailor their life accordingly, just as we all do.  They need to take advantage of their in-depth insight and introspection and use it to the good.  We all want to be in sync with our brains.  Each of our brains carry with it its own processing speed, ability to tolerate stimulation and its level of adaptability.  We go with what works, without judgment.   HSP offer much to our society and our personal lives.  And, if we all marched to the same drummer, it might be easier; but oh, so boring and simple.  Wearing our uniqueness gives us a little bit more salt to keep life more interesting and worthwhile.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Children’s Transition to a Blended Family

What do you do as a parent of a blended family that truly is not so well blended? How do you deal with your kids who openly demonstrate their dissatisfaction of the “blended family” by being disturbingly defiant and/or refuse any encouraging involvement with their new stepparent? How do you deal with the non-custodial parents’ distrustful challenge of your parenting as your children frankly complain about their new stepparent? Unfortunately, these questions are all too common in a blended household. So, what do you do?

First, it helps to understand the dynamics children often face. For example, oftentimes children hold on to the hope that their parents will reunite. For children to accept a blended family, they are also giving up their wish that their parents will reunite. It is a difficult transition for children to realize that their dream of family reunification is no longer a reality. As the blended family emerges, children oftentimes find this to be the place where they realize their dreams are shattered and their hopes are lost. Oftentimes, children act out this loss with aggression and defiance, depression, or detachment. Blended parents need to help their children accept that their new blended family is integrated and that all family members are bonded together.

Children also struggle with loyalty issues, especially to their non-custodial parent who struggles with the loss of custody. As the children take sides and try to protect the other-parent, an escalating emotional strain oftentimes develops between themselves and the new stepparent. Children respond best if both biological parents decide to work collaboratively and support each other’s parenting efforts. Probably the most influential factor in children’s adjustment Lo their parents’ divorce is their parents’ mutual efforts at joint parenting all through their growing up years. Unfortunately, this mutual effort occurs too rarely. In its place, blended parents need to rise to the occasion and create a strong parental bond that encourages their children to establish healthy relationships with both biological parents, without taking sides.

Of course, there are several other risk factors involved in blended families that affect its success, such as the merging of children from two different families and the alignments between them, the level and style of parenting and the disciplining between the parent/stepparent, and the adaptability of each of the family members towards change. However, although these are all factors, a strong parental team effort can draw up much power and influence of a successful blended family. Blended parents can empower their children by eliciting and facilitating mutual respect, kindness and concern for one another and enhance a peaceful living environment where daily issues can be negotiated without them developing into ongoing conflicts. Children need stabilization within the family and benefit most by recognizing that they now belong to a new family identity, which they can begin to value and uphold. If a parent/stepparent can truly help their child(ren) feel belonged, the other battles will seem slight in contrast.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Did You Know? A History of St. William’s Living Center – Part 5

Under the watchful eyes of Fr. Joseph Vogrin and Cyrilla Bitzan, St. William’s Nursing Home made it through the tough early years and continued to grow and expand. 

In the final installment of our series, we’ll discuss how the nursing home has changed over the last 40 years, and how it continues to serve Parkers Prairie and the surrounding community with excellent care.

More Space and a New Administration

Cyrilla Bitzan ran a tight ship at St. William’s Nursing Home after she was hired part-time by Fr. Joseph Vogrin in 1963. By 1970, Fr. Vogrin convinced Cyrilla to return to school and get her administrator’s license so she could take over full-time as the administrator. 

During their time in administration, Cyrilla and Fr. Vogrin oversaw three separate expansions in 1963, 1967, and 1976. The 1976 expansion was critical for the growth of the facility. It created room for 30 new beds and gave St. William’s enough occupants to afford a full-time nursing staff working in three different shifts for round-the-clock care. The facility was soon the largest employer in Parkers Prairie, surpassing the school district. 

Fr. Vogrin retired in 1987, after serving 37 years as pastor of St. William’s Church and Cyrilla Bitzan retired just two years later. She passed on her knowledge and an incredibly high standard of care to the then-Director of Nursing, Paul Baer. Paul would remain the administrator for another 26 years until 2013 when Tim Kelly, the current administrator, took over.

Beyond the Nursing Home

There was a great need in Otter Tail County for a place that could care for mentally-handicapped citizens as well as the elderly. In 1982, a 16-resident annex was built to provide community-based care for those suffering from mental illness. 

With this expansion, the facility got a name change to St. William’s Living Center to incorporate all the new aspects of care available. The annex operated until 2003 and in 2006, it was torn down to make room for another expansion to the property. 

St. William’s opened its first adult foster care home in 1989 and has since added two more foster homes. Foster care allows adults with mental disabilities the protection and assistance they need to handle the basic activities of daily living.

In June of 2001, McCornell Court Assisted Living was built. The assisted living wing holds fifteen senior living apartments that offer seniors a supported lifestyle with the autonomy of apartment living.  A chapel was also built during the 2001 addition to give residents a space to partake in religious services.

Vogrin Hall was added to the campus in 2007, giving residents a large, open event space they can use for family gatherings, regular activities, and town events.

May of 2019 brought another exciting chapter to the history of St. William’s when our newest addition opened to residents. This remodeling project added fourteen private rooms to the nursing facility as well as several new common areas and a fully equipped outpatient therapy clinic.

St. William’s Living Center: The Home With a Heart and 5 Stars!

From its early years as the Liebold Hospital to the most recent expansion and remodel, it’s been our pleasure to bring high-quality healthcare to the citizens of Parkers Prairie! 

Our facility consistently receives a 5-star rating in the Medicare Nursing Home Compare Program. Contact us to learn more about the many services we offer.

Information for this post was taken from the book Beyond Measure, written by Fr. Jeff Ethen, copyright 2000 Central Minnesota Catholic Publishers

Healthy Brain 101: How to Keep Your Mind Sharp as You Age

Eat your fruits and vegetables. Get your daily exercise. Don’t neglect your annual physical.

As we age, these statements get drilled into our heads by our doctors, our family members, and by the media. We must take care of our bodies to live a long, happy life. 

While it’s true that taking care of your body is important, it’s also important to take care of your mind. Life is so much more fulfilling when your body and your mind are strong and active. 

Keep reading for some healthy brain tips to keep your mind sharp as you age.

Read, Write, Repeat

Reading and writing are important at every age, but they’re especially helpful later in life when our brain function starts to naturally lag with age. The act of reading does several different tasks within our brain. 

First, it continues the process of learning. It also connects and coordinates various brain functions. Reading uses your eyes to see, your mind to comprehend, and your memory to retain information. 

Writing does something similar. It allows you to express creativity while exercising the fine motor skills associated with picking up a pen or typing on a keyboard. Writing also helps manage stress and anxiety. 

If you don’t already do so, start a habit of reading when you have a few minutes of free time. Keep a journal handy so you can write down your thoughts throughout the day. And repeat this process every day to keep your mind sharp!

Get Out and About

Yes, exercise is important and it’s something you need to do every day to keep your body healthy. But exercise is also really great for your mind. 

Getting out of the house for a walk brings fresh air into your lungs. It gets the blood pumping in your veins. And this fresh blood and oxygen is fuel for a healthy brain. 

Another important part of getting out and about is socializing. Keeping up good relationships with our friends and family is so important for strong mental health. 

Visiting with family and friends gives our brains a type of mental gymnastics. The act of carrying on a conversation makes you think about your words and helps the coordination between thinking and speaking. Plus, socializing with others releases all sorts of happy hormones into your system that can brighten your mood.

Puzzle, Play and Perform Often

Keep your mind sharp by puzzling it… often! Brain games and thought puzzles are an excellent way to get your mind moving. Plus, they’re a ton of fun!

Playing physical games is also great for your health. Join an age-appropriate sports league, like a local tennis team, a curling club, or a racketball group. This type of exercise is great for your body and also makes you think and strategize. It’s a win-win situation!

Consider learning how to play a musical instrument. Music is a wonderful way to calm your mind and make you think at the same time. And performing in front of others will get you out of your comfort zone, which is a very healthy activity for a sharp mind!

Healthy Brain = A Healthier Body

Your brain and your body work in tandem to make you the beautiful person you are. Without either component working at full capacity, your quality of life will suffer. So get to work on your healthy brain today! Start implementing some of these tips now.
At St. William’s Living Center, we have a department dedicated to improving mental health. Visit our website today to learn all about our mental health services.