Archives for July 2020

How Many Siestas Do You Need, Mom?

Seniors sleep when they need to, not necessarily when it’s convenient. So, it’s not unusual to see Mom or Dad dozing off in the afternoon. It’s their daily siesta! It’s ok—they need it. Remember, quality of sleep often deteriorates as we age. In fact, nearly half of men and women over the age of 65 say they have at least one sleep problem.

It’s a fact that as we get older, our sleep patterns change. In general, seniors sleep less, wake up and go back to sleep more often, and spend less time in deep sleep than younger people.

But regardless of your age, you still need quality rest to be healthy.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more common reasons seniors nap so much, along with a few tips to help Mom and Dad sleep better at night.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is the most common cause of daytime sleepiness. This can be caused by something as simple as a bedroom that’s too warm or cool, a heightened sensitivity to noise or light, too much caffeine during the day, achy joints at night, or frequent trips to the bathroom due to an overactive bladder.

Sleep Disorders

Stemming from different reasons than just discussed, having a sleep disorder definitely affects your parents’ ability to sleep well, causing them to be tired during the day. These disorders can include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), and REM behavior disorder. Each of these conditions will prevent your parents from getting the sound, restful sleep they need.

Boredom and a Lack of Activities

Your once-active mother is now less active. Whether because of health conditions that limit her ability to do certain things, not being socially connected at your place, or social-distancing and other pandemic-related reasons, there may be less to do and occupy her time. Simply put, Mom may be napping a lot because she’s bored and there’s just nothing better to do.

Also, if she isn’t getting enough physical activity during the day, then not only might she get bored, but this lack of activity could make it harder for her to fall asleep at night.

Medication

It may come as no surprise that researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health & Human Sciences estimate that Americans age 65 years and older take an average of four prescription medications. While beneficial in its intended way, all medications have side effects. Some medications cause drowsiness, so that nap could be related to Dad’s medicine. Other drugs could actually stimulate him and make it difficult to sleep, so this could not only make it difficult for him to go to sleep at night, but to stay asleep, and hence the daytime nap.

And then, remember that’s the side effect for just one medication. Consider the possible multiplied effect of taking several medications with sleep side effects. It all adds up.

So, What to Do About All the Napping?

Depending on why your parents are frequently napping, the best thing may be to just let them nap. Not all day, mind you, but a brief nap at some point in the day may be just what their bodies need to rejuvenate and refresh.

Here are some tips to help improve your parents’ nighttime sleep, and hopefully reduce or eliminate the need for a daytime nap:

  • Exercise – If physically able, make sure your parents exercise every day. Even a walk around the block or through a park will help improve the quality of their sleep. Yoga and deep-breathing exercises can also improve your parents’ sleep.
  • Activities – Get Mom or Dad involved in activities. As a Wellness Warrior, you know I firmly believe that having a purpose in our senior years gives us a reason to get up. See if there is a safe way they can volunteer at a local church, community center, or foodbank. If your parent can’t get out of the house, then involve them in things around the house. Folding clothes, helping to plan meals, and watching your little ones are ways that they can help you and feel like they are contributing.
  • Good Sleep Routines – There are several good, simple habits that will develop into healthy sleep routines. Get your parents to start doing these to help them get the nighttime rest they need:
    • Avoid all forms of caffeine for 6-8 hours prior to bedtime. Not only does this include that afternoon cup of coffee or tea (hot or iced), it also includes chocolate. While this can present its own set of challenges, finding different beverages and snacks for them can help them sleep better and even improve their health.
    • Avoid alcohol before bed. While that glass of wine might help Mom go to sleep, the sugars in it will wake her up in the middle of the night (and possibly cause her to have to go to the bathroom).
    • Avoid large quantities of liquids before going to bed.
    • Avoid electronics that emit blue light for an hour or two prior to going to bed. These include the television, smart phone, and tablets/computers. This can be a nice time to listen to music, read a [physical] book, or take a soothing bath. If they insist on watching tv right up until bedtime, consider having them wear special glasses that block the blue light.
    • They should go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. This routine will help train the body to know when it’s supposed to sleep.
    • While short naps can be helpful, longer naps will cause your parent to stay awake longer in the evening and not be sleepy at bedtime. Try and encourage your parent to limit naps.
  • Medications – Be sure to consult with the pharmacist or your parents’ physicians regarding any side effects their meds might have on sleeping, especially if taking several different medications that might have a compounding effect. Also check to see if taking a melatonin supplement would be helpful.
  • Your Parents’ Sleeping Environment – Ensure that your parents’ sleeping environment is a comfortable temperature, dark, and free of distractions. 
  • Sleep Journal – As a Wellness Warrior, you likely know that I keep a daily health log, where I track various things about my health. Keeping a sleep journal can help track patterns and be better able to help your parent pinpoint the reason for napping. It is also very beneficial for your parents to share this information with their doctor.

There are many reasons your mom or dad might be napping, and there are many ways to help them improve their sleep. Keep track of the points mentioned above, and don’t hesitate to contact their physician if you become concerned. In the meantime, be ready to accommodate their need for sleep and an earlier bedtime than yours.

Tell me, have you had success helping your senior parents with sleep? What worked for you? Please share with us all below.

Next time, in our continuing adventures of your parents living with you during the pandemic, I’ll share more about whether the things your parents are doing are “normal.”  Join me then.

Live Well, Live Long,

~Dwayne


When Did the Bathroom Become the Most Popular Room in the House?

“Mom, grandma is in the bathroom—again!” These may be frequently-uttered words in your house while your parents are staying (or living) with you. And for seniors, bathrooms are a big deal. Your senior parents may have special needs of which you’re not aware. Whether you have multiple bathrooms in your house, or you have just one to share, you may need to plan or adjust the bathroom scenarios in your household during this period of social isolation.

Remember, seniors don’t get many choices when it comes to planning—their internal organs don’t work like yours anymore. Whether from medications, underlying conditions, or simple aging, there are many reasons your parents may need extra time in the bathroom. Today, in my continuing series of blogs on adjusting to your live-in senior parents, I’d like to address a few of the most common reasons why seniors need more bathroom time, and how to we can make it easier on them and your entire family. Stay with me…while some of these topics aren’t exactly suitable for the dinner table, I will share helpful tips to make this situation better for all.

Reason #1 – Urinary Incontinence (UI)

In my last blog, we talked about how your parents still need to feel in control of things. Needless to say, it’s difficult (and embarrassing) to not be able to control when you have to urinate. Incontinence can be the result of many different things, including one’s diet, a urinary tract infection (UTI), medications, and even constipation. Three of the more common types of incontinence seniors experience include:

  • Stress incontinence – pressure exerted on the bladder brought on by coughing, sneezing, laughing, or even lifting things
  • Urge incontinence – a sudden urge to go caused by a variety of reasons, including an overactive bladder, an infection, or other more serious conditions
  • Overflow incontinence – a result of the bladder not emptying itself completely

Regardless of which type(s) of incontinence your parents may be experiencing, here are a few things you can do to help improve the situation:

  • Diet – There are several things that can actually irritate the bladder. Try removing or limiting the following to improve bladder health: caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks (including fizzy water), and spicy foods. I know this list probably has some of mom & dad’s favorites on there, so take these foods one at a time so they don’t feel deprived of the foods and drinks that make them happy.
  • Water and Fluids – Believe it or not, drinking enough water can actually help with incontinence, especially if they’re dealing with an overactive bladder. When you don’t drink enough water, your urine becomes very concentrated and that can irritate the bladder.It also increases the likelihood of constipation (which can also cause incontinence) and can cause the body to retain fluids (which could then cause the need for diuretics). It’s important to find a good balance. In addition to non-carbonated water, apple juice, pear juice, and herbal teas are all bladder-friendly—and tasty.
  • Healthy Weight – This is, of course, an excellent idea in general, but can also help reduce the effects of UI.  When one is overweight, more pressure is put on the bladder and its surrounding muscles and can cause mom to leak a little when she coughs, sneezes, or laughs.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises – Exercises to strengthen one’s pelvic floor muscles are a great way to get your parents off the couch, moving, and strengthening the muscles that control urinary flow. Be sure to check with your parents’ physician before starting these exercises. You can even do the exercises with them. After all, you’ll be their age one day!

Reason #2 – Constipation

Another reason your parents may be spending more time in the bathroom is that they are having trouble “going.” Like incontinence, constipation can be caused by several different factors, including diet, medications, changes in routine, and various other lifestyle choices. Being constipated can also cause other issues, including a loss of appetite and, as noted above, incontinence.

You can help relieve your parents’ constipation by encouraging the following:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, will help prevent constipation and may help keep them regular.
  • Don’t resist the urge to go. Waiting for a “better” time to go can actually cause them to back up more. Encourage them to go when they need to and give them the time needed to take care of business. You can even set aside a special time each day (maybe 30 minutes after their breakfast) to make the bathroom available to them so they know they’re not inconveniencing others.
  • Adjust your diet. Find ways to increase your parents’ fiber intake. More than a bran muffin, Mother Nature provides many foods that are high in fiber. Vegetables high in fiber include asparagus, brussels sprouts, and carrots. Fresh and dried fruits are also a great source of fiber. (A note about bananas: unripe bananas can actually cause constipation, but ripe bananas can actually relieve it.) Also reduce the amount of meats, dairy products, and processed foods. These are all low in fiber and tend to be higher in unhealthy fats.
  • Exercise regularly. When your body moves, your bowels move. You know I’m a big proponent of moving, and even simple things like taking a short walk, gardening, or yoga will help.
  • Add a mild laxative to their daily routine. Laxatives, as a relief of occasional constipation, can be effective to getting things moving again. Be sure to follow instructions and drink plenty of fluids. Do be careful, though: using laxatives (or enemas) too often can cause the body to forget how to work or become dependent on them. Check with their doctor if you think they’re overusing them.

Reason #3 – Something Non-Physical

Of course, there are numerous other possible reasons your parents are in the bathroom as much as they are—some which are quite harmless and others you might want to monitor.

  • For some, it’s quiet time (especially if they’re introverted and you have a household of energetic little ones). This could be the few minutes they need to recharge.
  • For others, it may be their routine. (“Dad always reads a chapter while he goes.”)
  • In cases like these, try and find other spaces in your house for them to get the time they need to do these other things.
  • It could also be an issue of memory; perhaps they don’t remember having gone to the bathroom 5 minutes ago. Or maybe they’ve started taking a new medication. Or maybe they’re just anxious about having an accident.

Regardless of the reason(s) your parents are spending so much time in the bathroom, it’s important to remember that they’re likely not doing any of this intentionally. Pull other members of your family aside and have a private conversation about why grandma and grandpa need extra time in the bathroom. Always speak kindly, and when feeling frustrated, take a deep breath before responding. You’ve got this, Wellness Warrior!

In my next blog, I’ll be sharing about Mom and Dad affinity for naps!

As always, Live Well, Live Long!

~Dwayne


Mom, Do We Really Need 50 Pounds of Epsom Salt?

If you’re like many today, your senior parent(s) may have moved in with you during the pandemic. While this time can be a truly special time, it is different than their just coming for the holidays. In my last blog, I shared ways to easily accommodate the picky eaters your parents may have become. Today, I’d like to address another question you may be facing: When did my parents become such over-planners?

Many seniors are planners. It’s not unusual. They’ve raised families, juggled jobs and family responsibilities, and enjoyed a new season of life after you and your siblings moved out. They’ve lived their lives and enjoyed their independence. But now that they are in their senior years, a few things may have changed. Planning makes them feel secure, and this need to plan is especially true when it comes to having basic necessities and enough medication. When you’re worried about things like your heart, diabetes, or other chronic disorders — having enough medicine takes a front seat in driving your thoughts and reactions.

The lack of a plan creates fear and stress no one needs — especially during a crisis. Planning allows seniors to gain back a bit of control and to feel productive. After all, even though they’ve moved back in with you temporarily, they’re quite used to being in control and doing these types of planning activities for themselves.

Here are a few simple things you can do to calm their concerns, reduce stress (for them and for you), and help them to still maintain (and feel) some level of independence.

  1. Go Ahead—Stock Up a Little – While some people reacted to the pandemic by hoarding supplies, it’s not hoarding to stock up a little on a few supplies that are essential to your parents’ well-being. You definitely want to keep an extra month’s supply of medications on hand (and if your insurance will allow you to get the 90-day supply, do that). Also, look at what other things are essential for their well-being and comfort. Keeping an extra month’s supply of incontinence products, Epsom salt, lotions, pain rubs, and especially their favorite snacks will go a long way to helping your parents feeling secure.
  2. Talk with Them – Talk with them about what they need to stay healthy and comfortable, and come to an agreement on how much is needed. During a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re naturally going to be a bit more worried about running out of things. While it’s helpful to stock up a little as noted in #1, it’s also important to talk with them about what’s going on and about what’s truly needed. This is not a time to exert your control, but rather, a time to speak calmly and confidently about the situation and how they can help you make sure you do have sufficient supplies. Agree on things like how low the supply of something should be before adding it to the grocery list. Coming to this agreement allows them to have input and gives them a sense of control.

3. The List – Let them help with the grocery list. As mentioned in #2, agreeing on when something should be added to the list is an important step. Now, involve them and help them to feel like they are contributing in a positive way.

4. Stress-relieving Activities – At the root of this need to plan and be in control is fear. Fear of running out. Fear of getting sick and of dying. Fear of not being able to control things. Address the fear by encouraging them to become involved in other activities. Turn off the tv and the constant, negative news reports. Activities like meditating and forest-bathing are great to calm oneself and bring inner peace. Other activities like gardening, baking, working on a puzzle, listening to music that they like, or even watching old movies are also great ways to take their focus off the pandemic, reduce stress, and channel their planning energies in a positive way.

More than anything, my best advice to you for your over-planning parents, Wellness Warriors, is to be patient with them. None of us have been through this type of pandemic before and we’re all learning how to navigate these waters. Accommodate their requests as best as you can, encourage their participation in the planning and shopping process, get them involved in relaxing activities, and, most of all, love them through this. They’ve probably loved you through worse situations.

Next time, we’ll discuss a potentially sensitive subject: your parents’ need for time in the bathroom. You don’t want to miss it!

~Dwayne


But, Dad, You Loved Spicy Chili Tacos When I Was 12!

So, your parents have moved in with you. Maybe it’s temporary—just until the pandemic has passed—or maybe it’s more permanent. Either way, it’s very different than their coming to visit over the holidays. This can be a wonderful and rewarding time, but it can also present its own special set of challenges.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to help by discussing some of the different challenges you may be experiencing with your now live-in, senior parents, and providing tips to make each challenge a little easier to handle.

Today’s challenge: When did my parents become such picky eaters?! After all, Dad LOVED spicy chili tacos when I was 12!

As a Wellness Warrior, you know I’m a big proponent of healthy eating. So here are six possible eating challenges your senior parents may have along with tips for managing them.

1. Loss of Control – One reason you may have a picky eater on your hands could be because they don’t feel in control of making decisions for themselves. This is especially true of your otherwise healthy, independent parents. Not having a say in meal planning can be hard for them.

TIPS: Get them involved by planning meals ahead of time. Make a list of healthy options and get their input. Also, have them assist you in preparing the meals. This will give them a sense of purpose and help them feel like they’re helping out and part of the family team.

2. A Change in Common Foods – Many foods that are popular and common today wasn’t widely available over the lifespan of many seniors. Think about it, foods like hummus and tofu have become commonplace over the last 10-15 years, but this may be long after your parents’ taste buds (i.e., their dietary habits) were already set.

TIPS: Present foods in a different or fun way. If your dad needs more veggies in his diet, then substitute spaghetti squash for traditional noodles. You get an extra serving of veggies in his diet while also reducing his starches (and gluten). Quiches and casseroles can also be a great way to “hide” healthy new foods in something they are more willing to eat.

3. Loss of Appetite – There are many reasons why your parent might have a loss of appetite. Common reasons include medication and loss of taste and smell, but there are other reasons that are more easily addressed. Constipation is a big reason. When you don’t regularly empty your bowels, your brain senses that you’re full, and you don’t get as hungry. Another reason is a lack of physical activity. When you’re physically active, your body is stimulated to get more energy from eating. The reverse holds true as well…not active, not hungry.If you’re like many people, at some point in the past few months, you’ve experienced fear, and that’s ok. We’re all going through a time of fear and confusion. But during times like these, when something negative like this happens, it’s important to ask yourself, “What is the value of this in my life? What lessons have I learned and how am I going to grow from this?”

TIPS: In the bathroom department, make sure they don’t ignore the urge to go. “Holding it” for a more convenient time to go only backs them up more. Make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids (and yes, prune juice really does help), and make their time going a peaceful and comfortable time. Don’t rush them. Encourage them to be active as well. Walking is a great activity (and you know you’ve been meaning to walk more too!), but even activities like gardening get them off the couch and moving.

4. Eating the Wrong Things – Many seniors find it easier to grab junk food than to eat healthy. Remember, this is the mother who sent you to school with a Twinkie or Ho-ho in your lunch box every day. Sometimes it’s just easier to grab a few cookies or a handful of chips.

TIPS: Keep plenty of nutritious and convenient snacks on hand. Low-sodium cottage cheese, unsalted nuts, yogurt, and canned fruit (in juice, not syrup) are great, healthy, and super convenient.

5. Feeling Overwhelmed – It’s possible that your mother looks at her plate, and it’s just too much. A plate full of food can be overwhelming to someone whose appetite isn’t what it used to be.

TIPS: While I’m a firm believer that a dinner plate should be ½ veggies and fruits, ¼ protein, and ¼ (or less) starches, it’s also possible that that’s too much for Mom. Try several smaller meals and snacks throughout the day is better than three big meals. Having nutrient-filled smaller meals or snacks every 2 ½-3 hours may be a more realistic goal and does not highlight their “failure” to eat the same way they used to.

6. Textures – Textures of foods play a big part in a senior becoming a bit pickier about what they eat. Some have difficulty chewing now because they’ve perhaps lost a tooth or two. Others may be dealing with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). These and other factors may make it more difficult to eat the foods they normally like to. It also can cause issues with their getting proper nutrition.

TIPS: Certainly, include soft foods in their diet. You can also puree or mince their favorite foods and make them a little easier to eat so they can still enjoy those flavors. Also, consider adding pureed or high-protein foods to other common foods, like blending cottage cheese and adding it to the pasta sauce to create a delicious pink sauce for their spaghetti. Protein shakes are also a great way to add protein. And, while they may turn Dad’s fruit smoothie green, adding greens, like spinach and kale, will up the vitamins without changing the flavor.

One final tip: “Come on, Dad! If you’ll just try it, I know you’ll like it. Pleeease!” Be careful. Are you encouraging Dad, or are you nagging him? Yes, there is a fine line between the two, and no one likes to be nagged. I know it can be frustrating for you, but remember that, more than likely, your parents are not intentionally being difficult. Their needs have simply changed. Try not to pressure your parent(s), give them the ability to choose some of what they eat, and keep mealtimes positive and upbeat.

Wellness Warriors, next time I‘m going to share more about another challenge you may be experiencing with your live-in parents: their need/desire/compulsion to over-plan. Join me for it.

Until then, what challenges have you experienced with your senior parents and getting them to eat? Share your experiences and any tips you may have! Sharing is caring!

Live Well, Live Long

~Dwayne


What’s on Your Missing Person’s List?

Hey, Wellness Warriors! There’s so much going on with the Coronavirus pandemic, and I wanted to check in to see how you’re doing. Not physically, but emotionally. Your mental well-being is important too and is frequently a key component to our physical well-being and having a strong immune system.

If you’re like many people, at some point in the past few months, you’ve experienced fear, and that’s ok. We’re all going through a time of fear and confusion. But during times like these, when something negative like this happens, it’s important to ask yourself, “What is the value of this in my life? What lessons have I learned and how am I going to grow from this?”

Today, I’d like to examine two things we might be “missing.”

Extra Clothes in Your Closet?

The first thing to do in times like these is to pause. Examine your life (or even take just a peek). What’s super important to you? What do you miss? You know I love great suits, but now I’m just as comfortable now in a great, white t-shirt. But then I think about what I really miss. I really miss hugging my grandchildren, kissing my kids on their on their face and giving them big hugs. I really miss going out to dinner with friends. I really miss that interaction of community with people I love.

Those are the things that I really, really miss in my life. And it’s good to acknowledge these, because I know I will appreciate them more when I am able to do these things again.

But there’s a huge opportunity here, which, if we’re not careful, we’re going to miss. I think we get so caught up in this all-consuming hunger of life and this hunger for an American lifestyle that we don’t stop to take a taste of what we have in the now. Sometimes it takes something like a crisis to cause us to stop and refocus.

So yes, there’s a pandemic, and yes there’s uncertainty and fear. But in the midst of all of this, you also have an amazing opportunity to reflect. Ask yourself, what do I really value in life? What do I really want in life? What’s really important to me? What do I miss? And what’s just “extra clothes in the closet?” For me, this pandemic will be known as “the great closet cleaning,” because I can look and see what has created noise and weight in my life that I don’t need. I hope you can as well. This pandemic has really made me appreciate what I have now: my health, my family, my community, a phenomenal company, incredible friends.

Eckhart Tolle makes a powerful statement in his book, A New Earth, that I think is so appropriate for this time and where we are in our history. He says, “Once you see and accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last without fear of loss or anxiety about the future.”

In other words, once you give up the fear of things, the fear of loss, the fear of owning things, you’ll be really able to experience the now, and experience the great things you have in your life.

So stop for a moment and think: What things have I been taking for granted? What have I not fully appreciated before [the pandemic] that I more appreciate now? What good things have come from this time? Find some positive in the negative.

Don’t Get Stuck at Skipper’s on Tuesdays

So the 2nd thing I’d like you to ponder is this: What are you missing?

I remember when I played football in high school, a group of us guys used to go to a place called Skipper’s every Tuesday night because it was all you can eat fish for 99-cents. When the owners saw the six or eight of us come in the door, they would just moan because we would have a competition to see who could eat the most fish & fries. (I think the record was 33 baskets, and no, it wasn’t me that did that!)

The point of my story is this: we weren’t stopping to taste the food; we were just on this goal of consuming the next basket of fish & fries. At times in life, that’s what we do. We’re just trying to get to the next basket without stopping to taste the flavor of what we have right now.

So I’ll ask you again: What are you missing? What has this pandemic done to slow you down and made you see things that you have missed because you were too busy in life, because your work consumed you, because too many things were going on in your life that you just didn’t stop and see this?

I’ll give you an example. I have an outdoor shower at my house that I have probably used twice in the last six to seven years. I used it recently, and it brought me so much joy. I know that’s a simplistic example but think about it for a moment. What have you overlooked because you were moving too fast to notice it? What are you now able to see because the pandemic has slowed you down? Maybe, you’re getting to know your kids better. Maybe one of them has a special talent or special skill that you hadn’t seen because you’ve not been spending enough time with them. Have you overlooked the fact that maybe you’re a great cook or your spouse is a great cook?

So what have you missed because you’ve been too busy doing life and getting on with the American dream? Take the time to discover it, and you’ll find it’s a priceless jewel. And the feelings of appreciation and gratitude will fill you up, and you’ll find a bit of peace in this storm.

Did this resonate with you? Have you found some good coming from this trying time? If so, I’d love it if you’d share it below.

Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!

~Dwayne


The Good That Comes from Trying Times

I know that 2020 has not been what any of us expected it would be! Yet, it’s during these trying times that I believe the best in human spirit, creativity, and innovation come out. I am honored to have the most amazing team of 2500 staff members at Aegis Living, all of whom are dedicated to our residents and our mission. I have also been blessed to be a part of a few outreaches, touching local seniors as well as others in our Aegis Community.

So, I want to share some news that I feel is positive for our local communities as well as for the future of senior living care.

Local Outreaches

When the Coronavirus landed here in Seattle, just eight miles from our corporate offices, my mission became laser-focused on two things: How do we keep our residents and staff protected from the virus, and how can we help those in our community get through this time?

Looking at the seniors in my local community of Seattle, I became concerned for how seniors who were homebound or homeless were going to fare through this time. So, with the help of local corporate partners, Seattle Senior Strong was launched to meet the needs of these groups of seniors.

I am happy to say that, in only two months, a total of over $322,000 was raised and distributed to seniors through two local charities—Sound Generations and Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. It was an amazing effort and I am immensely proud to have been a part of serving the generation that raised us.

The other group I was passionate about supporting and protecting during this time was our Aegis employees. I can remember my mother, during a particularly difficult time in my youth, telling me, “Dwayne, no matter what you do, don’t ever forget where you came from and that you had to eat potato soup every day for a week. When you have employees, be there for them, and they will always be there for you.” I’ll never forget those sage words. Our staff has been working around the clock to implement all of the new standards and practices and to be there for our residents, so I knew we had to be there for them. Among other things, we’re providing meals to our staff and their families, working with employees on creative childcare solutions, and offering telehealth services for free to all staff. We’re also encouraging those who are experiencing financial hardships to use our Potato Soup Foundation, created to support staff during times of need.

I am truly humbled to be able to support the people I’m passionate about. I am also very proud of how our Aegis Living communities have stepped up, been innovative, and have safely navigated the stormy waters to get us to where we are today. I’d like to share a few of those special updates with you now.

The Transition from Sheltering-in-Place to Socializing Safely

A few months ago, I was quoted in a national publication that we would take reopening our Aegis facilities slowly. And we’ve stuck to that approach. During this time, while maintaining safe environments for our residents, we’ve also been planning for how we could safely reunite our residents with their loved ones and bring our community services back to a new and improved “normal.”

With that in mind, Aegis communities are safely beginning to reopen social spaces within a comprehensive, five-phase plan to carefully phase in services, activities, and dining.  To be sure, our plan aligns company expertise with government guidelines and directives. Each phase listed below will be carried out for at least two weeks and we’ll host controlled pilots of key activities before programs are implemented across all 32 communities.

Phase 1: Limited Internal Opening with Physical Distancing

Phase 2: Limited Ancillary Services

Phase 3: Limited Visitors

Phase 4: Expanded Activities and Services

Phase 5: Expanded Dining and Visitation

Phase 1 will be initiated on a community-by-community basis and in accordance with state reopening orders and city/county directives. In order to embark on the next phase of activity, a community must not have active cases of COVID-19 among staff, residents, or essential visitors for a minimum of 14 days. Communities will return to Phase 0 if any symptoms of the virus are detected or a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs in a community.

Outdoor Living Room Experiences


One of our customized outdoor living rooms. When it can’t be set up under a roofed porch, it is set up under a tent.

Reconnecting residents with loved ones is one of the most important challenges I knew we had to overcome. As part of our reopening plan, I am proud to share Aegis’s newest innovation: our exclusive Outdoor Living Room Experiences. Our brightest minds in design have partnered with epidemiologists and infectious disease experts to craft beautiful, protective, and cozy living room spaces in all 32 communities for families to gather and visit with residents in person without risk of virus exposure.

Each Outdoor Living Room will have clear, sealed dividing walls made of plexiglass, standing about 7-feet tall, to separate the seating areas and prevent potential virus exposure. While the dividing wall was created to prevent virus droplet transmission, both residents and visitors will be asked to wear masks during visits.  We just can’t be too careful. And, of course, all visitors will continue to follow screening protocols and infection-control best practices, including proper sanitization and handwashing.

All Outdoor Living Room Experiences allow for two visitors at a time and are scheduled with the community staff. We completely understand how difficult it has been for our residents and their families to be apart for so long, and I’m excited for this opportunity to begin bringing families back together again.

Coronavirus Advisory Council

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the urgent need to provide leading-edge care for our residents. So I am also excited to announce the creation of the Aegis Living Coronavirus Advisory Council, a group comprised of renowned physicians and experts from some of the nation’s leading medical and research institutions whose expertise is critical to the health of our senior residents and our staff members.

For over 20 years, Aegis Living has used clinical experts to help develop our high standards, practices, and approaches to exceptional resident care. The new council will extend this expertise even further to prepare for today and well into the future.

The council is launching with seven members representing epidemiology, immunology, geriatrics, psychology, naturopathy, and more. You can learn more about each of the council members and plans for the council on the Aegis website.

As a company, we have stepped forward to help shape the future of the senior assisted living industry during this pandemic and beyond. Things will not go back to the way they used to be, so we must continue to use the latest science and medical research and our ingenuity to push new boundaries and create new ways of approaching resident care. Yes, these times have been tough, but we are learning new and great things that will allow our seniors to thrive!

Tell me, what positive changes have you seen in your community as a result of COVID-19?

Until next time, Live Long, Live Well.

~Dwayne