HEALTH: Keeping seniors engaged and active at local senior community
Seniors have many options to keep busy and enjoy life at University Living. Barbara Exel, executive director of this senior community shared that message on the radio program this past weekend. University Living is on South Main Street near Briarwood Mall and offers a full range of senior living options — independent living care, assisted living care, and memory care. We loved how Barbara talked about her wide diversity of residents, from ages 60 to 100, each a "source of joy."
The facility offers social, fitness and learning activities. They have a fitness program director on staff to better encourage physical exercise. Mental stimulation options are led by Dr. Adelman, a gerontologist and professor emeritus from the University of Michigan. Dr. Adelman facilitates the Learning to Love Opera series, as well as a unique intergenerational studies program where U-M students are paired up with one of the community residents (and they each learn from the other!).
Barbara explained how they have worked hard to increase the social engagement of all their residents. They have conducted multiple studies focused on residents that were struggling to adapt to the independent/assisted living environment. Placing these residents with carefully-chosen roommates in the more intimate memory care setting has proven very successful. These residents sleep better, eat better and importantly increase their engagement with others. This really helps the residents and of course their families are very pleased, noticing the same improvements.
Barbara encourages families looking for care for an elderly loved one to talk to any local assisted living facility. They have a wealth of information and are a great resource to find the right place for their loved one.
To hear our 13-minute conversation, click the audio link:
To get in touch with Barbara or University Living, call 734-669-3030 or visit their website univliving.com.
Photos by Sheila Doeden
We were most pleased to next welcome Dr. Joanne Pierson, the associate director of the University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP). Aphasia is a language disorder generally caused by a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. UMAP started in 1947 but is still an unintentional best-kept secret of the University (Dr. Pierson is out to change that).
UMAP is an intensive speech-language therapy program that includes individual therapy, group therapy, computer therapy, music therapy, social engagement, and caregiver support. The core program is 28 hours/week for four weeks — including 14 hours per week of individual speech therapy, and five hours/week of group therapy. The program draws clients from all over the country. For clients that live locally, there is also a part-time option available.
All UMAP participants have a baseline test, with goals then established for each individual. Dr. Pierson shared that the program has excellent outcomes, "pretty much 100 percent of their clients show growth on the measures of verbal expression." Those most severely affected tend to show the most improvement.
The program is much more intensive than the traditional one or two hours of therapy each week. It's a comprehensive holistic program where clients learn communication skills that include non-verbal tools, a valuable part of communicating. Dr. Pierson also emphasized how participants get out to restaurants and local activities, where there are additional opportunities to try out their new skills.
Caregiver education and support is an important aspect of UMAP. Brain trauma and aphasia affects everyone in the family. Caregivers learn how to communicate with their loved one — maybe slowing down, maybe asking choice questions, and allowing more time for responses.
To listen to this 13-minute talk, click the audio link:
To get in touch with the University of Michigan Aphasia Program, call 734-764-8440 (ask for Mimi Block) or access the website, aphasiahelp.com.