It's Never Too Late

It's Never Too Late

Healthy Aging at Sonata Senior Living

September is upon us, and it’s Healthy Aging® month. Which seems like a good enough reason to ask ourselves what, exactly, is healthy aging? Let’s start with what it isn’t.

Way back when, most of us got the message to “Act your age.” Well, that may satisfy the parents when you’re eight, but what’s the point when you’re sixty-eight? Or, for that matter, eighty?

It’s just part of human nature that we tend to get hidebound about what our preconceptions of aging are all about. And then all too often we tend to live out those preconceptions.

So, perhaps the first step in healthy aging is to look at the possibilities we keep pushing off as though we’re too advanced in years to attain them. To pick one or two. And to take one step. We like to say: as long as we can hear the clock ticking, it’s never too late.

With that in mind, why not take September’s Healthy Aging opportunity as a time to take stock. Not just of where we’ve been, but where we might want to go.

It’s Never Too Late To Meet Someone New

Spending time alone is one thing. Spending time being lonely is something different.

Life is better with friends, and part of healthy aging is simply the willingness to take a chance on other people.

Being open to meeting new people is not a huge commitment. At Sonata Senior Living, we have witnessed many of our residents create lasting friendships that make life more enjoyable. Which is the whole point of healthy aging, after all.

It’s Never Too Late To Start Moving

There is often a negative perception associated with the word “exercise.” It’s a commitment to a regimen. It takes too much time. Or it’s too difficult.

Not true. You can start with walking. You’ll be doing your body a favor by getting those muscles doing what they’re supposed to do. And it’s amazing how a daily walk changes our mental attitude and becomes something we look forward to.

At Sonata Senior Living, our independent living and assisted living communities present daily opportunities for seniors to get in shape and stay that way so they can play. Dance. Enjoy family and friends. Explore Florida’s many senior-friendly activities. And recreate … themselves!

It’s Never Too Late To Crack A Smile

A smile can brighten a room. A smile can brighten a day. It’s amazing what happens when you have a positive outlook.

And even when bad things happen, it’s often our sense of humor that gets us through and saves us. Which are all good reasons to limit the negative things in our lives. Negative nellies. Even the daily news. If something stands between us and our ability to have a laugh at life, we should give it a wide berth.

At Sonata Senior Living, we’ve learned that setting the stage for fun, games and even silliness gives each day a silver lining, whether or not there are clouds in the sky. Healthy aging is a daily commitment to having fun. And having fun is the key to longevity.

It’s Never Too Late To Be Musical

Okay, so maybe we won’t grace the stage of Carnegie Hall. Or fill a throbbing arena of adoring rock fans.

It doesn’t matter whether we’ve had a hankering to play a harmonica, fret a chord on a guitar or keep rhythm with the spoons. If your inner voice tells you that you can’t, push it aside. What do you have to lose?

There’s always the chance that, by giving our talent a chance, we’ll meet others similarly inclined. Create some memories. Create connections through music. And give our lives an infusion of joy we wouldn’t have found any other way.

It’s Never Too Late To Create

Okay, forget Van Gogh. He’s taken. But there’s only one way to find out if we have a creative side, or whether we inherited an artistic gene. And that’s to shush the inner critic and simply start doing. With emphasis on “start.”

At Sonata, we’ve set the stage for scads of seniors to try their hand at many different types of arts and crafts. For example, pursuits like sketching teach us to really see, to look at the world in a different way. Scrapbooking can open the way to creating a legacy or visualizing our life story.

Along the way, we may meet people whose talents mirror or complement our own. Or surprise our family and friends with a side of ourselves they (and we) never knew existed.

It’s Never Too Late To Give Back

You have a rich history and experience that is valuable to many. It’s time to share that wealth of knowledge. Volunteering is an essential, if sometimes underappreciated, way to be part of the community.

Explore volunteer opportunities for seniors in Florida.

At Sonata, we believe in providing ample opportunities for seniors to reach out and volunteer their hearts, minds and hands, whether through local schools or service organizations. Every volunteer opportunity leaves us doubly blessed, knowing that we have left the world a little better even as we’ve made our own lives more meaningful.

Sonata Senior Living celebrates Healthy Aging month in September and all year long! Whether meeting new people, pursuing new passions, or reigniting your favorite pastimes, senior living in Florida is the key to health and happiness. Remember, it’s never too late.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.


Visit Sonata Senior Living and find out how personalized programming in assisted living promotes independence and well-being.


What to Say When Dad Won’t Stop Driving

When Driving Becomes Unsafe

Thanks to our warm weather, low cost of living and preponderance of retirement communities, Florida is currently home to more than 3 million seniors. In the coming years, that number is only expected to grow. By 2030, the state’s population of adults age 65+ is expected to hit 7.7 million!

That means the number of older drivers on Florida’s roads is expected to almost double in the next decade. While many seniors are fantastic drivers, health factors like decreased mobility and impaired vision can lead to problems behind the wheel.

Statistics show the crash rate per miles driven starts to increase for people once they turn 70. Of all age groups, drivers age 85 and older have the highest fatal crash rates.

Florida law requires drivers to pass an eye test every six years after they turn 80. The state has also a launched a program called Florida GrandDriver to help the growing senior population assess their skills and find local driver refresher courses.

But there comes a point in every person’s life where it’s no longer safe for them to be on the road. Often it’s the driver’s friends and family members who have to initiate this emotional conversation.

Don’t Feel Guilty — But Do Have Empathy

The prospect of this conversation may fill you with guilt, but you are doing the right thing. You’re not betraying your father, instead you’re protecting him — as well as other drivers, pedestrians and bikers — from potential harm.

Here are four tips to help you have an honest and productive conversation about his health, his driving ability and whether it’s time to hang up his car keys.

#1 – Have “The Talk”

If your father is getting more traffic citations, having difficulty seeing road signs or understanding directions, or you notice other warning signs his driving skills are impaired, it’s time for a talk. That said, for the talk to be effective, it’s important to empathize with the emotions your father may feel during the conversation. Losing one’s driver license can feel like a major blow to the ego.

#2 – Have a Plan in Place

Your father may have concerns about losing his independence when he stops driving. How will he buy groceries, visit friends or go to the doctor’s office?

That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place before the conversation begins. Research and suggest viable alternatives to driving, including:

  • Getting rides from friends and neighbors
  • Using rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft
  • Taking public transit
  • Signing up for grocery and prescription delivery services
  • Moving to a Florida senior living community

Senior living communities in Florida offer residents services like scheduled transportation, on-site amenities and entertainment, and plenty of opportunities for meaningful interactions with family and friends — no car required.

#3 – Make It a True Conversation

Unless the situation is extreme, don’t approach the conversation as if a final decision has already been made. Instead, consider it more of a discussion. Use open-ended questions to facilitate a healthy dialogue about your father’s health and abilities. Offer to give the new arrangements a trial period, after which everyone regroups to discuss how to overcome any issues that came up along the way.

#4 – If Needed, Involve a Third Party

If the discussions don’t go well, consider bringing in a neutral third party. This could be your father’s doctor, a therapist or a lawyer who specializes in elder care. If you’re seriously worried about your father’s safety and the situation needs to be escalated, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles also offers concerned friends and family members the opportunity to report an unsafe driver anonymously.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →


Visit Sonata Senior Living and find out how personalized programming in assisted living promotes independence and well-being.


What Is a Dementia Diet?

The Dementia Diet

As dementia progresses, it can affect a person’s appetite and ability to enjoy foods in a number of ways. This challenge is even more severe during a shelter-in-place order, which restricts access to and availability of healthy foods.

For one, people living with dementia may not recognize their body’s signals that they need food or water. Indicators that tell us it’s time for dinner — a growling stomach, lightheadedness, fatigue — may not register the same way to a person with dementia, said Julie Fernandez, CALA, CDP, CADDCT, CPT, the director of team development and training at Sonata Senior Living.

“Dementia disrupts the way the brain processes the sensations of hunger and thirst,” she said. “A person with dementia may not realize that they’re feeling agitated or sleepy because their body hasn’t received the nutrients it needs.”

The condition can also affect one’s ability to recall why eating is important, she said. A person with dementia might also not be able to understand what purpose forks and other utensils serve.

Finally, in the later stages, dementia can affect our ability to swallow.

“Swallowing is not an innate skill,” said Fernandez. “It’s something we learn how to do as babies. Dementia can cause someone to forget how to use the muscles in their mouth and throat.”

The Importance of a Healthy Diet

As much as dementia disrupts one’s appetite, it also increases the body’s need for food.

In the early to mid stages of the condition’s development, people living with dementia might experience an increased urge to pace and wander, said Fernandez. This extra activity can increase their caloric needs threefold.

“The metabolism is on fire,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important that they get the calories and nutrients they need to maintain a healthy weight.”

Dementia Diet Strategies in Memory Care Communities

There are certain strategies caregivers can use to offset the nutritional challenges posed by dementia. The key is to make food readily available and transportable.

Finger foods can take a variety of nutritious and tasty forms: a sandwich, scrambled eggs in a tortilla, lettuce wraps, a mug full of soup or cereal.

At Sonata Senior Living, we encourage residents to enjoy small servings of grapes and sliced bananas.

“By presenting your loved one with finger foods, you’re helping them enjoy their favorite meals without the need of a utensil,” said Fernandez. “Since the food can be enjoyed on the go, you’re also honoring their body’s desire to pace and roam.”

And while many of us have been told it’s rude to eat with our hands, finger foods help your loved one retain their independence.

“Eating a sandwich is a much more dignified experience than having someone assist you with your soup bowl,” Fernandez said.

During a shelter-in-place order, many finger foods such as muffins can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for easy access, thereby extending the window between grocery store trips or deliveries.

To learn more about diet and nutrition at Serenades Memory Care, call us today or schedule a visit.


As much as dementia disrupts one's appetite, it also increases your need for food. Find out how dementia care experts prevent weight loss and promote nutrition at Serenades Memory Care.


Recommended Supplements for Healthy Aging

Supplements For Healthy Aging

There has never been a more important time to maintain a healthy immune system. Yet, as we age, our body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients decreases.

Some of these changes are natural. A drop in stomach acidity can decrease our ability to process some vitamins and minerals.

Other changes are affected by external factors. Many prescribed and over-the-counter medicines can decrease older adults’ ability to absorb vital nutrients.

To further complicate matters, many adults also experience a decrease in appetite as they get older.

The Neurobiology of Aging Journal refers to this reduced desire to eat as the “anorexia of aging.” It can affect up to 30% of seniors, according to a study published in Maturitas.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that help the body perform vital tasks like converting food into energy, fighting disease and healing from injuries.

Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get the nutrients our bodies need, according to Harvard University’s HelpGuide publication.

But that’s not always easy for older adults who live alone, rely on a fixed income and/or don’t know how to cook. Dental pain, mobility issues and other health conditions can also make it hard to make and enjoy our favorite meals.

“The adequate intake of vitamins in the elderly is a concern,” said Duffy MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry group representing dietary supplement makers, in a recent WebMD article. “Where dietary changes are difficult, a dietary supplement can be a responsible, reasonable solution.”

Key Supplements for Senior Nutrition and Wellness

Our dietary needs change as we get older. The following vitamin supplements have been associated with healthy aging. They may also help prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Keep in mind, there is no research available to prove or disprove that supplements offer protection against COVID-19.

Calcium for Healthy Aging

As we age, our body starts to experience bone loss. Women are especially vulnerable, according to the AARP. Calcium supplements can help support healthy bones and teeth. They may also mitigate the symptoms of osteoporosis, said WebMD.

Vitamin C for Immune Health

As a popular supplement for protection against infection, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the severity of upper respiratory infections. It is also commonly regarded as beneficial for boosting immune function.

Vitamin D for Chronic Conditions

Over time, we lose our ability to effectively synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, according to the AARP. Vitamin D supplements may help prevent conditions like heart disease and cancer. They’ve also been linked with a reduction of chronic pain.

Vitamin B12 for Cognitive Health

Vitamin B12 deficiencies — even mild ones — have been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and nerve function, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting your B12 levels checked regularly and using supplements when necessary.

Potassium for Healthy Hearts

Potassium supplements help support healthy heart and kidney functioning. They may also help lower one’s risk of developing arthritis, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Fiber for Healthy Aging

In addition to supporting a healthy digestive tract, fiber supplements may also help ward off conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Before introducing supplements into your diet, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand how much of each supplement you need depending on your age and health needs.

Some supplements can also interact negatively with popular medications, including causing dangerous side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor what prescriptions and over-the-counter treatments you take on a regular basis.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s independent living communities, contact us today or schedule a visit.

Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida

Florida sunshine does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels. It can add years to your life! Find your personal path to good health and longevity in our FREE guide to Healthy Aging in Florida.


Infographic - Impact of Isolation on Well-Being

Researchers have linked social isolation to health conditions such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Yet people who engage in meaningful activities are at a much lower risk of developing the health conditions associated with social withdrawal and loneliness.

Independent living and assisted living communities provide a robust lifestyle enriched by activities, social events, fitness classes, educational and cultural opportunities, outings, and more.

Spread the Word and Help Prevent Social Isolation

Share this infographic and help spread the word about the health consequences of loneliness. Click on the social media buttons at the top of the page or copy the URL and post it to your Facebook or Twitter account.

To learn more about preventing social isolation, call a Sonata Senior Living community near you today or schedule a visit →

Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida

Florida sunshine does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels. It can add years to your life! Find your personal path to good health and longevity in our FREE guide to Healthy Aging in Florida.


COVID-19 Precautionary Measures in Senior Living


COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, a respiratory virus that can spread from person to person. The outbreak of this disease is evolving rapidly, with Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis declaring a public health emergency shortly before two people in Florida recently tested presumptively positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March 2020.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 in any of the Sonata Communities and the precautionary measures that aid in the safety and protection of our residents remain our number one priority.

Due to the Governor’s order on March 14th, all non-medical visits, with the exception of compassionate visits are prohibited to protect residents and staff effective immediately.

Emergency notifications to families will be conducted through our emergency communication channels including text notifications, telephone calls, and communicated directly to residents. Please visit for updates and resources.


Sonata’s management and operational teams have more than 20 years of experience overseeing infection control and management of contagious diseases in long term care. Our standard operational protocols and policies and procedures incorporate the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Health (DOH), and other state guidelines.

Our team members have been well trained and the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is on site.

Currently, we agree that the risk of contracting the virus is low, however, given the nature of the virus and uncertainty surrounding a vaccine, we have implemented the precautionary measures as outlined below.


  • An Infection Surveillance Plan is in place for the ongoing detection of the presence of influenza-like symptoms in residents and staff, including the tracking of any and all flu like activity.
  • An Infection Control Plan is in place for managing residents and visitors with pandemic influenza or other pandemic illnesses requiring direct care team members to use standard, contact, airborne, and eye protection for symptomatic residents.
  • Protocols are in place for the evaluation and diagnosis of residents and/or staff with respiratory symptoms that may be due to a pandemic illness.
  • There is a protocol in place to determine the appropriate placement and isolation of residents or team members that are diagnosed with a highly contagious illness requiring they be quarantined.
  • A Community Communication Plan is in place including notification of key public health officials in the event of an influenza or other highly contagious diagnoses.
  • All team members received education and training on infection control procedures and handwashing techniques to prevent the spread of pandemic influenza and other infectious diseases upon hire and annually thereafter.
  • Contingency staffing arrangements are in place.
  • Heightened sanitation protocols including frequent daily cleaning with an EPA registered, hospital grade, disinfectant of commonly touched environmental surfaces, such as doorknobs.


Everyone can control the spread of infection by doing their part!

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean your hands before eating or touching food.
  • Do not touch your mouth or face with your fingers.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and throw away your tissue immediately.
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others.

To learn more about operational protocols, policies and procedures, call a Sonata Senior Living community near you today.


Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida

Florida sunshine does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels. It can add years to your life! Find your personal path to good health and longevity in our FREE guide to Healthy Aging in Florida.


The Health Consequences of Social Isolation

The Health Effects of Social Isolation on Older Adults

Human beings are inherently social creatures. Throughout our lives, our relationships with others are critical to our survival, cognitive development and ability to make sense of the world around us.

As infants, we relied on our parents and caregivers to feed, clothe and protect us. In grade school, our relationships with our peers helped us establish values like trust and reciprocity.

But when we reach middle and older age, it becomes harder to meet new people. Sadly, this is one of the times when we need those meaningful social interactions the most.

Aging and Social Isolation

As we age, our contact with others becomes more limited due to life events like finishing school and leaving the workforce. We may be more likely to experience the death of a spouse or loved one. Aging may also increase our risk of developing chronic disease and health conditions that make it harder to drive and meet a friend for lunch.

All of these experiences may increase our risk of social isolation, which is described by the National Institute on Aging as the “objective physical separation from other people.”

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience have linked the experience of social isolation with myriad health conditions, including anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Limited social interaction can also increase our risk of developing chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, obesity and heart disease.

“Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases,” said Steve Cole, Ph.D., director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a recent article published on the National Institute on Aging website.

“The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease.”

People who feel socially isolated may also have weakened immune cells, he said, making it harder for the body to fight off viruses and putting them at increased risk of developing infectious diseases.

Overcoming Feelings of Social Isolation

Spending quality time with friends, family and neighbors isn’t the only way to overcome feelings of loneliness and social isolation. According to the National Institute on Aging, people who engage in meaningful hobbies may also be at a lower risk of developing the health conditions associated with seclusion and social withdrawal.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine said participating in activities like reading, playing board games and practicing musical instruments can decrease one’s risk of developing dementia. Another study published by Washington University’s Center for Social Development showed that people who enjoyed hobbies like cooking or gardening lived longer than those who did not.

Participating in meaningful activities like caregiving and volunteering can also give one a sense of purpose, which the National Institute on Aging says is linked to a healthier immune system.

An All-In-One Solution

For many older adults, moving into an assisted living community can ease the feelings of loneliness and social isolation in multiple ways.

For one, you gain instant access to a network of like-minded peers who are likely to share your interests and passions. Some residents may not have experienced the kind of camaraderie offered by an assisted living community since they were in school or the workforce.

At Sonata Senior Living’s Florida assisted and independent living communities, residents also enjoy a robust offering of game nights, volunteer opportunities and interest groups.

These events and activities make it easier to get to know your new neighbors. They also provide the sense of purpose and fulfillment that the National Institute on Aging says can help support a healthier and happier retirement.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s Florida assisted living communities,
call a community near you today or schedule a visit →


Visit Sonata Senior Living and find out how personalized programming in assisted living promotes independence and well-being.


The Future of Alzheimer's Care in Florida

The Future of Alzheimer's Care in Florida

Almost 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. In Florida alone, the condition affects more than 530,000 residents — a number that’s only expected to grow.

By 2025, the Alzheimer’s Association predicts the number of people in the state experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s will increase by more than 30% to 720,000 Floridians.

As the number of Alzheimer’s diagnoses increases, so do the efforts of researchers and scientists who are actively looking for ways to prevent, detect and better treat the disease.

The Challenges of Developing Alzheimer’s Treatments

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. While this is a goal for many research teams, multiple factors make it a hard one to achieve.

For one, scientists are still working to identify and understand exactly how Alzheimer’s affects the brain, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

And because the disease usually develops slowly, with the Mayo Clinic reporting some people experiencing symptoms for more than a decade, it can take a long time to tell whether an experimental treatment is effective in slowing or even stalling the disease’s progression.

Fortunately, many Alzheimer’s researchers in Florida and around the world refuse to let challenges like these stand in their way.

Alzheimer’s Prevention Efforts

In July 2019, scientists from more than 70 countries gathered in Los Angeles to attend the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, billed as the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science.

More than 220 abstracts describing Alzheimer’s clinical trials and studies were presented, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, including submissions by seven researchers based in Florida.

Several of the Alzheimer’s investigational trials and treatments presented showed promising results, including:

  • A blood test that could help doctors detect Alzheimer’s early in the disease’s progression
  • Anti-inflammatory drug therapy that reduces or prevents plaque buildup in the brain
  • An intranasal insulin-delivery device that may help improve memory and cognitive skills

Keith Gibson, director of program services for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter told the Sun-Sentinel the majority of clinical trials being conducted today are focused on slowing or preventing the disease’s progression.

“That’s why it’s important to catch cognitive decline early and start managing it,” he said in a recent article.

Florida Alzheimer’s Studies

Before the Los Angeles convention, many of Florida state’s top Alzheimer’s researchers met in South Florida to present their work at a conference, according to the Sun-Sentinel. They included:

  • Dr. Shanna Burke, assistant professor at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University, who is investigating whether depression, anxiety, insomnia or sleep apnea affect the brain and put one at risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
  • Dr. Margaret Pericak-Vance, from the University of Miami, who is working to identify the genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s in African-American, Hispanic, Peruvian and Puerto Rican trial participants.
  • Dr. Jason Richardson, associate dean of research in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at FIU, who is attempting to better understand how the interaction between someone’s genes and environment affects their likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dr. Jeffery Vance, of the University of Miami, who is studying stem cells and donor brains to uncover which genes and/or behaviors decrease one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials in Florida

Much of the efforts to develop better treatments — and maybe even a cure  — for Alzheimer’s start with clinical trials. But finding volunteers to participate in these trials isn’t easy, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you or your loved one are interested in contributing to these efforts, the Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch maintains a list of 250-plus pharmacological and non-pharmacological studies being conducted around the country and online.

Other local and national resources for Alzheimer’s clinical trials include:

At Sonata Senior Living, our dementia-certified Florida memory care communities incorporate the latest advancements in Alzheimer’s and dementia research to help all of our residents experience less stress and anxiety and enjoy a higher quality of life.

To learn more, call a community near you today or schedule a visit →

Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida

Florida sunshine does more than just boost your Vitamin D levels. It can add years to your life! Find your personal path to good health and longevity in our FREE guide to Healthy Aging in Florida.


Introducing Duets: An Innovative Music and Memory Program by Sonata

Think about all the times a song has affected you emotionally. Perhaps you remember the lullabies your parents sang to help you fall asleep as a child. Or the song that was playing during your first dance or your first kiss. Maybe there was an album you listened to on repeat during your formative years to find comfort during a difficult time.

No matter our age, race or nationality, music is one of the most powerful tools for arousing emotions and memories. And research has shown that music can still evoke positive feelings and sensations, even when the brain has been damaged by dementia.

“Music can help us remember something long forgotten, feel a joyous emotion or simply recognize the sensation of a memory,” said Julie Fernandez, a dementia-certified caregiver and director of team development and training at Sonata Senior Living.

That’s why Sonata Senior Living created Duets, a music and memory care program that incorporates research associated with music and dementia, and music and Alzheimer’s, to help our residents feel more comfortable and secure.

Duets by Sonata uses innovative music interventions to reduce stress and anxiety in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease when words and actions are not enough.

Music’s Effect on Memory, Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Numerous studies have shown that musical memory can survive even when the areas of the brain associated with other forms of recall have been damaged by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Music has also been proven to lift the moods of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s; it can make someone smile and sway long after they’ve lost the ability to communicate. The right song played at the right time has also been shown to reduce anxiety, agitation and depression and even increase heart rate.

Duets by Sonata Music and Memory Program

Sonata Senior Living’s Duets program draws from the science of music and dementia to develop a personalized radio station for each resident. Through wireless headphones, residents can listen to their favorite songs during periods of agitation and anxiety. Music is also offered as a source of entertainment and a means of creating a safe space.

Music is one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress in people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If a resident is feeling overwhelmed, Duets’ headphones can help create a private retreat where they can relax and escape distractions. If someone seems nervous about a bath, a well-chosen soundtrack can help reduce their resistance to receiving help with their personal care.

“The right type of music helps provide the right environment for so many activities,”  said Fernandez. “It can help people enjoy their meal or find their rhythm during physical therapy.”

In addition to personalized music, Duets by Sonata uses music and sounds from nature to create a peaceful, relaxed environment in the common areas of Serenades Memory Care communities throughout Florida.

Music is also used to establish a sense of routine, which has be proven to help ease symptoms like wandering, agitation and further memory loss. Songs are used to get residents excited about group activities, establish that it’s time for dinner and set the mood for a relaxing night’s sleep.

To find which songs will be most impactful for each resident, dementia-certified caregivers at Sonata interview friends and family about their loved one’s favorite albums and genres. The team also pays attention to how each resident responds to the songs and music that are played during group activities.

Sometimes, it’s more art than science.

“It’s very important we discover what type of music each person likes,” said Fernandez. “If someone is having a bad day, we might try playing soft jazz, the ‘Grease’ soundtrack or a patriotic song. Our goal is to find the songs that help each resident feel safe, comfortable and secure.”

For more information on the role of music in memory care, call a Serenades Memory Care Community near you today to schedule a visit →

The Guide To Music & Memory Loss

Music has a profound impact on people living with memory impairment. Download our guide to learn how music can improve quality of life for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Download A Free Guide to Music & Memory Loss

4 Ways Virtual Assistants Makes Life Easier for Older Adults

Amazon Echo. Google Home. Apple HomePod. The past five years have brought a flood of new smart speakers to the marketplace.

These voice-powered virtual assistants can do it all. From reminding us to take food out of the oven to remembering a family member’s favorite color. Rather than jotting down this information on calendars, sticky notes, and scrap paper, we simply tell our smart speakers to keep track of everything for us.

These devices can also help us in ways a notepad or calendar never could. The ability to connect your Echo or HomePod to other smart devices allows you to control everything from your thermostat to your microwave with the sound of your voice. And, in the event of a fall or other emergency, a virtual assistant could even help save a life.

Here are four things virtual assistants can do to help seniors living in Florida enjoy more independence at home.

1. Maintain Your Schedule

Virtual assistants can help you keep track of important dates, recurring events and upcoming appointments. Simply tell your assistant what to add to your calendar — whether it’s the date of a family member’s visit in two months or a prompt to take the chicken out of the freezer in two hours — and when to alert you.

Reminders can also be scheduled on a recurring basis, making it easier to track tasks like taking medications and changing the air conditioner filter.

You can set multiple alerts, too: Say you want to be reminded to send a card to a loved one a week before their birthday and also call them on their big day. This is especially helpful for those with memory loss or challenges.

2. Answer Questions

Virtual assistants come with a wealth of built-in knowledge, and anything they don’t know, they can usually find on the internet. That means they can answer questions ranging from “What day is it?” to “Who was the third prime minister of England?” (It’s Henry Pelham, in case you’re curious.)

In addition to what comes out of the box, you can also ask your assistant to remember information for you. This could include details like a family member’s favorite color or how much sugar is in your favorite cake recipe.

Added bonus: Because they’re robots, virtual assistants never get annoyed if they have to answer the same question multiple times!

3. Give Us an Extra Set of Hands

You can connect your virtual speaker to other smart devices and digital services, making it easier to accomplish everything from locking the back door to ordering groceries from the comfort of your favorite chair.

No more searching for the bathroom light switch at night. You don’t even need a remote to turn on a favorite show or put on a mood-boosting song. All you have to do is call out a command and your handy assistant will see it through.

4. Stay In Touch With Others

Depending on your device, you can use your assistant to make video and audio calls. This doesn’t just make it easy to catch up with friends and family, it can also help keep you safe. In the event of an emergency, all you have to do is call out and ask your assistant to contact a loved one for help.

As exciting as virtual assistants are, they do require some technical skills to set up and ensure the proper safety protocols are in place. To learn more about how Sonata Senior Living uses technology to help seniors living in Florida enjoy greater independence, call a community near you today or schedule a visit →

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