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“A Happy Surprise” – New Research Shows Socializing Improves Cognition for Older Adults

Millions of Americans have Alzheimer’s disease – and since the COVID-19 pandemic began, socialization has decreased for many, which is known to have adverse effects.

That’s why Ruixue Zhaoyang, assistant research professor of the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State, called it “a happy surprise” when his team concluded that cognitive abilities improve for days following joyful social interaction in adults aged 70-90. According to Zhaoyang:

“Our study is one of the first to show that [having] social interactions on one day can immediately affect your cognitive performance that same day and also on the following days. The fact that we found that the cognitive benefits of having pleasant social interactions could manifest over such a short time period was a happy surprise and could be a promising area for future intervention studies.”

At Advena Living, we care deeply about making sure our community members experience joy in their lives every day. In addition to excellence in memory care and nursing home/long-term care, we provide healthy and happy social interaction, and we welcome loved ones to come do the same.

You can read about the Penn State study here.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Alzheimer’s & Activities: Safely Assisting with Normalcy

Maybe you grew up watching your father read the newspaper every morning with his cup of coffee. Now, with Alzheimer’s disease, he may not be able to fully comprehend what he reads – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop offering him a newspaper each morning. The ritual of normalcy may be more important than how much information he absorbs from the news.

Of course, for safety reasons, modifications may be necessary for other types of favorite activities enjoyed before the onset of dementia. The onset of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia doesn’t have to bring an end to doing what we love. They simply require modifications, especially as the disease progresses. The Alzheimer’s Association provides some helpful tips on choosing and modifying activities for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Expertise in dementia is something our memory care experts at Advena Living bring to the table every day. In our Advena Living Communities, individualized living is the standard we hold – and honoring a person’s freedom of choice is our goal. We are advocates for making care more compassionate and intentional – supporting what brings individuals joy.  Whether at home with you or at home with us, it is important to keep your loved one involved in doing what they love, at whatever level they are capable.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Finding Your Superpowers: Nine Keys to a Long & Happy Life

Last month, we introduced you to the concept of the Blue Zones lifestyle and its patented blueprint for happiness. Through their blue zone research, experts were able to extract nine lifestyle habits helping so many in “blue zone” populations reach the age of 100 with health and happiness. Dan Buettner of National Geographic, who helped spearhead this research, calls them the Power 9.

Think of the Power 9 as your very own superpowers, and find ways to fold them into your lifestyle or your loved one’s lifestyle:

  1. Move – and do it in ways that blend naturally into your lifestyle and are not stressful (e.g., gardening, dancing, hiking, etc.)
  2. Find purpose
  3. Downshift and de-stress
  4. Eat less meat and more plants – especially beans (yes, the musical fruit)
  5. 80/20 rule – stop eating before you’re full (stop yourself at maybe 80% full) and try to stop eating after an early dinner
  6. Have wine with that dinner (and at Advena you can)
  7. Belong to a faith community – it’s been consistently proven to add years to your life
  8. Put your loved ones first – invest in your children, love your partner for a lifetime, remain involved in the lives of your elders
  9. Find your right tribe – choosing the right people to surround yourself with can be critical. Bad habits are contagious, but so are good ones

At Advena, we want you to live long – and live well. Making a decision to choose Advena for yourself or a loved one is an easy way to achieve many of the goals on Buettner’s Power 9 list. Opportunities to live the Power 9 are all here for you and your family.

Developing a strategy for living longer and living well is something all of us at Advena hold as our first priority. That’s why we’re always doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – for a long time to come. Practice makes perfect, and we’d like to think we’ve developed a few superpowers of our own.

You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website for details about diet, lifestyle and all the other details Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

Charting a Course to Your Very Own ‘Blue Zone’ – to Live Your Best Life Yet!

Being blue for 100 years might sound like a bad thing, but some of the latest research on longevity and human well-being suggests it just might be the thing to make you happy. Have you heard all the buzz about Blue Zones yet?

It all started back in 1999, when a couple of demographic researchers – think of them as the Lewis and Clark on the frontiers of living well – noticed a high concentration of healthy, happy men living to be a hundred. These male centenarians were concentrated in a group of villages in Sardinia, Italy.

The researchers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, used a blue pen to draw concentric circles on a map identifying these villages. After their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology, a National Geographic fellow named Dan Buettner began building on their work and identified other longevity hotspots in the world that he dubbed “blue zones.”

Buettner worked with a team of researchers and experts to isolate the reasons for the longevity and well-being witnessed in these Blue Zones. The upshot of their work was a list of nine lifestyle habits – what Buettner calls the Power 9 – that were responsible for all the long, happy lives – of not just men but women, too.

Of course, there are no guarantees that adopting these lifestyle habits will make you happy or healthy, much less extend your life, but the odds are in your favor. After all, your good genes will only get you so far, accounting for only 25 percent of life expectancy. That means your lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on how long you live and how happy you are.

Discovering the fountain of youth has been a human endeavor since humans began figuring out how to escape saber tooth tigers. Developing a strategy for living your best – and longest – life is something all of us at Advena also believe is important. So we’ve been doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – and happy.

Yes, happiness was another feature Buettner found in the Blue Zones. In his latest book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People, Buettner explained that we would be surprised to learn what truly makes us happy.

Surprisingly, safety and security are among the most important factors that makes people happy. Having financial security makes you happier than conspicuous consumption. Living in a community where you can walk or bike where you need to go makes you happier than having to drive. Believe it or not, people who go to the dentist more often rate higher on the happiness scale.

Another factor – one that’s not so surprising – is the importance of minimizing isolation. Buettner found that prioritizing at least five to six hours of daily socialization was crucial. The old Barbra Streisand song “People” reminds us that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” but apparently, they’re the happiest people in the world, too.

So how does Advena rank on the happiness scale? At Advena, we’ve long understood the importance of community. We design our living communities to minimize isolation and maximize opportunities for socializing with friends, family, Advena staff and other residents. Safety and security are hallmarks of Advena communities.

Buettner’s book targets 50 evidence-based ways to reshape not so much yourself (unlike most self-help theories) but your surroundings. Even if you’ve had trouble changing yourself, changing your surroundings can have a huge impact, Buettner believes. (Who says the geographic cure can’t work?)

In a 2017 National Geographic article, Buettner featured Costa Rica, Denmark and Singapore as three of the happiest places on earth. The article also singled out 25 of the happiest communities in the U.S. You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website about diet, lifestyle and all the other factors Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

Also, stay turned for our second article in this series next month where we’ll take a deep dive into the Power 9 Buettner believes are crucial factors for living to 100 and beyond. We’ll give you one to practice with until next month: find a routine that sheds stress for you. Be it meditation, yoga, walking, praying, reading or any of a multitude of paths to finding peace. The important thing is simplifying and de-stressing life to live longer and better.

We’ll explore the rest of the Power 9 in more detail next time.

Join us in celebrating our new brand: Advena Living

Cornerstone Healthcare Solutions is proud to announce and celebrate our transition to a new corporate name and brand identity as Advena Living, representing our system of continuing-care and community living facilities in Kansas, and Cornerstone Employment Solutions, our nurse staffing agency providing staff to senior communities across Kansas.