Brain health

Why Brain Boosting Exercise Really Works!

Brain-boosting exercises have become popular lately, particularly among older adults hoping to prevent age-related memory loss.

That’s why we did some digging to see which, if any, cognitive training interventions actually work.

What are Brain-Boosting Exercises?

Brain-boosting exercises can take many forms. From smartphone apps and computer games to learning a new skill, basically any new experience that ties your physical senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – to an emotional response can stimulate the connections between different areas of your brain causing nerve cells to produce more nutrients. These experiences make nerve cells stronger, which plays a vital part in resisting the effects of aging.

If you’re an older adult concerned about cognitive decline, senior living communities in Florida are renowned for keeping active seniors engaged in activities that stimulate the mind and body, including neurobic exercises designed to improve memory.

The Science Behind Brain Exercise

There are literally hundreds of brain-boosting activities claiming significant results. In fact, scientists did a study to see if any programs on the market have any real cognitive benefits. The findings, published in Neuropsychology Review, showed several have potential to enhance brain health! In particular, when exercises are focused on improving the brain’s processing speed, they can result in healthier brain aging.

Your brain is the ultimate problem solver. As your mind works to put the pieces together, it goes through neuroplastic changes. The brain actually changes as it figures things out, and new neuropathways are formed. The new neuropathways help you process information beyond what the original exercise focused on, simultaneously increasing function in more than one area of your brain.

Brain-Boosting Exercises That Really Work

We could all benefit from a sharper, more accurate memory, and brain-boosting exercises that generate neuroplastic changes are the best type to see the results you want.

Digital applications like BrainHQ and Cognifit focus on improving the brain’s processing speed, which is why, scientists explain, they are so effective.

If digital exercise isn’t your cup of tea, there are other more organic ways to exercise your brain and form new neuropathways.

Learn a new skill

Doing the same activities over and over won’t stimulate your brain. If you’ve always wanted to try a new hobby, go for it. The possibilities are endless: from learning a new instrument to learning a new language, it’s never too late to learn a new skill.

Put pen to paper

Some of the best brain exercises are those that force you to make mind-to-hand connections such as crossword puzzles and word search games. If you’re looking for some, you’ll find the Brain Awareness Week website has several to choose from, including this free puzzle packet!

Explore new places

From airboat tours in the Everglades National Park to learning about the cosmos at the Kennedy Space Center to sampling peach wine, there are so many activities in Florida that you won’t have to look hard to find your next adventure.

Draw a map

Can you draw a map of your city from memory? Try it out. Be specific and draw the signs, street lights, traffic lights, and landmarks along the way. Once your map is complete, get out and see how you did. Tapping into these little details will boost brain health.

Exercise your body

Numerous studies show that the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex (the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking) have greater volume in people who exercise. Commit to a brisk, hour-long walk twice a week, for example, to support brain health.

Eat well

Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for all aspects of health, and our brains thrive when we eat healthy food.

So which ones work the best? The latest science points to activities that help form new neuropathways in the brain. Virtually any activity that challenges the brain to rewire will have a positive effect.



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

A Practical Guide For Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behaviors

Few people thrust into the role of caregiver have received any formal training on the confusing symptoms that can attend the onset of memory loss. Relying on experts in the field, our guide is a short yet comprehensive primer in managing behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


afford real estate

Can You Afford Assisted Living?

How To Pay For Assisted Living

For many older adults in Florida, cost is a big factor when considering whether to move into an assisted living community. Many fear it’s too expensive. Others are unaware of their options for financing the monthly rent.

In Florida, the average monthly cost of assisted living is around $4,000, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

At first glance, that may seem like a high number, but when you compare the average cost of a mortgage premium with rent in an assisted living community, you may be surprised, particularly because assisted living fees also typically cover meals, utilities, maintenance, housekeeping and transportation — not to mention activities and personal care. In the right senior living community, assisted living can be an incredibly good value!

Then there are the emotional benefits of life at an assisted living community.

“The thing that is really most attractive to future residents is getting together with other residents, playing cards, having something to do each day and meeting new people,” said Gail G. Matillo, MPA, president and CEO of the Florida Senior Living Association. “Living alone can be very isolating.”

Financing Florida Assisted Living

When it comes to financing assisted living in Florida, you have options. Most seniors use a combination of personal savings, proceeds from a home sale and other financial resources.

Home Equity

As long as house prices continue to rise, seniors’ home equity will rise, said Matillo. “That can be a huge help to those who want to move into assisted living,” she said.

Social Security

Many assisted living communities in Florida will accept your Social Security payments and apply them directly to your monthly rent, said Matillo. This saves a lot of hassle for residents by streamlining the payment process.


Many seniors are surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living, said Matillo. But if you qualify for government assistance, Medicaid may cover some of your assisted living costs.

Most states use 1915c Medicaid HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) Waivers to cover the costs of assisted living, according to However, Florida has eliminated this program and now covers assisted living through the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care option.

Unfortunately, not all Florida assisted living communities accept Medicaid, and the waiting list at those that do is often long, said Matillo. It’s also important to note that Medicaid may not cover all of your costs.

Family Support & Caregiver Tax Deductible

Many Florida assisted living communities allow family members to pay over the phone or internet via credit card for care and ancillary services like bathing or grooming, said Matillo. This helps to offset the cost of assisted living care.

Furthermore, if you are supplementing your loved one’s care, a caregiver may be able to deduct these expenses on their annual taxes.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance offers the best value for Floridians in their 40s and 50s, said Matillo. It may be too cost prohibitive for people in their 70s and 80s, she said.

It’s also worth noting that some long-term care applicants may be turned down due to pre-existing conditions, according to the AARP.

The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension may also be eligible for this program, which increases one’s monthly payout to cover long-term care costs, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

This traditionally covers half the cost of the board and care, said Matillo.

Life Insurance

Some life insurance policies allow policy-holders to receive a tax-free advance on their death benefit, which can be used to fund assisted living costs, according to This could be a good option for seniors who don’t have children, said Matillo.

It’s best to start by understanding all of the different senior living options in Florida. Then see if assisted living is right for you.

Once you identify your needs, Matillo recommends working with an elder care attorney to determine what you can afford.

When comparing your options, she also suggested asking each community what’s included in the monthly rent, since amenities and meals are usually bundled into the cost.

Retirement living in Florida can be whatever you want it to be, and there is no shortage of choices. If you’re considering a move to a senior living community, you’ll need to narrow down your options. The best way to build a short list is to visit and tour a few top-rated senior communities in your area. Learn what you should ask on a community tour.

The price of assisted living in Florida can vary from county to county in Florida, said Matillo, with rural areas offering more affordable fees than urban city centers.

For more information on how to pay for assisted living or to learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s independent and assisted living communities, schedule a visit →


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


American Football Players Huddling

Alzheimer’s and Men: What the Research Says

Alzheimer’s and Men: What the Research Says

Alzheimer’s Disease and Men

Two-thirds of the more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, prompting even the National Institutes of Health to call the disease a “women’s health issue.” Stats like these may leave men believing they’re less at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But when you dig deeper into the data, you see that the headlines tell only half the story.

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we’ve compiled some important facts about men and Alzheimer’s, plus tips on what men can do to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.

Understanding Men’s Risk Factors

An estimated 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, around 4 million are women and 2.5 million are men.

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women is attributed to both age and biological factors. Genetics also play a role. Some research even suggests societal and cultural factors contribute to the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in women, including education, occupation, and reproductive history.

Still, men are more likely to engage in behaviors that could increase their chance of developing the disease, including smoking and drinking.

  • Smoking

Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of vascular issues like strokes and bleeding in the brain, both of which are risk factors for dementia. One study suggested that as many as 14% of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide could be potentially linked to cigarettes. Other studies indicate the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause inflammation and increased oxidative stress, which have both been thought to increase one’s Alzheimer’s risk.

  • Binge Drinking

Men are almost twice as likely as women to binge drink. Nearly a quarter of men say they binge drink (defined as consuming five or more drinks at once) five times per month, downing, on average, eight drinks per session. Binge drinking has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Heavy drinking can also lead to brain damage, which may increase your risk of developing dementia.

Men and Alzheimer’s: More Risk Factors

Men are also more likely than women to experience the following health conditions, which may increase their Alzheimer’s risk:

  • Early Onset Heart Disease

The heart is responsible for pumping nourishment-rich blood to the brain. Damage to this important organ has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s in both sexes. And men generally develop heart disease at a younger age than women.

  • men and alzheimers risk 800px

    Head Injuries

Over the course of their lifetime, men are more likely than women to experience a traumatic brain injury. Severe head trauma has been linked to increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, especially among older adults. Even repetitive mild injuries have been linked to the development of cognitive issues later in life.

Alzheimer’s and Men: Reducing Your Risk

This Men’s Health Month, consider engaging in the following healthy habits, all of which may help decrease your Alzheimer’s risk:

  • Quit smoking. There is evidence that shows giving up cigarettes reduces your Alzheimer’s risk to the same level as a non-smoker’s.
  • Protect your heart. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise routine that will help keep your heart and vascular system strong. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Protect your head. Reduce your risk of head trauma by always wearing your seatbelt, motorcycle helmet and fall-proofing your home.
  • Stay engaged and connected. Maintaining strong social connections and staying mentally active have been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline as we age.

Senior living communities in Florida offer programs and activities designed for staying active and engaged. Along with healthy dining options, fitness classes and social opportunities, active senior living is an excellent choice for men’s health.

Serenades at West Orange

720 Roper Rd.

Winter Garden, FL 34787

Phone: 407-654-3530


Serenades at West Orange

720 Roper Rd.

Winter Garden, FL 34787

Phone: 407-654-3530

In 15 Years of Making a Difference, Here’s 15 Differences We’ve Made for Seniors.

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

A Practical Guide For Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behaviors

Few people thrust into the role of caregiver have received any formal training on the confusing symptoms that can attend the onset of memory loss. Relying on experts in the field, our guide is a short yet comprehensive primer in managing behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.


Pets Improve Senior Health

How Pets Help Older Adults Who Live Alone

How Pets Can Help Older Adults Who Live Alone

For many seniors who live alone, loneliness is a serious issue that affects their physical and mental well-being. According to the National Institute on Aging, feeling lonely and socially isolated can lead to a host of health issues, including depression, dementia and heart disease.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal says feeling like we’re alone in the world can be as detrimental to our health as smoking, obesity or lack of exercise. Over time, loneliness can even increase one’s risk of early death.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the impact of loneliness in older adults. Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging include staying in touch with friends and family — whether it’s in person, on the phone or via the internet — getting regular exercise and volunteering.

But perhaps their most exciting tip for overcoming feelings of isolation — especially if you love animals — is to adopt a pet.

A Sense of Purrr-pose

Researchers at the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, have identified what they call the cure to loneliness: having a sense of purpose.

Adopting a pet gives you just that. Pets need to be fed and provided fresh water. Cats need clean litter pans and dogs need daily walks. Then there are “chores” like cuddling, socializing and telling your pet how cute they are.

In a recent University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, nearly three-quarters of adults age 50 to 80 said owning a pet gave them a sense of purpose. Almost all respondents said their pets made them feel loved and increased their quality of life. Eighty percent said their furry friends reduced their overall stress levels.

Owning a pet can also lower our blood pressure, increase our activity levels and improve the well-being of people suffering from chronic diseases, according to the Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research journal. TIME magazine says pets can also help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“Pet ownership for older people can be very beneficial by giving them something to love and care for, as well as a companion in the home, especially if they live alone,” Dr. Sonny Presnal, director of the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, told Modern Dog magazine.

Pet Ownership and Adoption Tips for Older Adults

When adopting a pet, it’s important to find a companion who is a good match for your needs and situation.

A big dog who loves to run and play may not be the best fit for people with decreased mobility and range of motion. Kittens and puppies are adorable, but they also require 24/7 attention.

One of the best ways to make a new friend, and potentially save a life, is to adopt an older cat or dog from a local shelter, recommends Modern Dog.

Older pets don’t require the constant training and attention of their younger counterparts. And, like humans, they’re often a bit more set in their ways. If an older pet is sweet and loving at the shelter, chances are they’ll be just as sweet and loving once they get settled in your home.

Some shelters also offer programs to encourage the adoption of older pets. For example, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando’s Seniors for Seniors program waives the adoption fee for adults older than 60 who adopt a pet 6 years of age or older.

If you’re concerned that your mobility or driving situation may prevent you from having a pet, rest assured that there are likely plenty of mobile grooming and veterinary care providers in your area.

One more tip: If you live in an apartment or senior living community, it’s important to see if there are any rules regarding the size or breed of pets allowed before heading to the shelter.

Sonata Senior Living loves pets! To learn more about our pet policy, 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.


Never Too Late

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.


hurricane evacuation sign

What Florida Seniors Need to Know About Hurricane Evacuations

Hurricane Evacuation Tips For Seniors

In Florida, hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. During this period, a storm can hit at any time, causing massive destruction. It’s important to plan for storm season in Florida. If you’re in a storm’s path, you may be ordered to evacuate your home and seek shelter in a safer location.

To help Florida seniors understand how to stay safe and comfortable when evacuating during a hurricane, we sat down with Keith Kotch, acting emergency manager for the Orange County Office of Emergency Management.

Here are his tips on building a hurricane evacuation kit, finding a shelter that suits your needs, and staying informed during a storm.

Q. What do Florida seniors need to know about evacuation orders?

A. They’re not technically “orders.” It’s kind of a misnomer. When an evacuation order is issued, we can’t force you to leave your home or property, Kotch said. But he advises Florida seniors to heed the instructions of local authorities, especially if you live in a manufactured home or other potentially vulnerable structure.

Q. What should Florida seniors pack in their hurricane evacuation kit?

A. The most important item in your hurricane evacuation kit is drinking water, Kotch says. Specifically, he recommends having one gallon per person per day for seven days. Do not forget your pets, Kotch said. They will need water, too. Other supplies to have include canned goods and a manual can opener, battery-powered flashlights and radios, and extra batteries.

Q. When should Florida seniors start building their evacuation kit?

A. Don’t wait until you’re in a storm’s path to start building your evacuation kit. The stores will be crowded and supplies will go quickly. Kotch recommends stockpiling in advance. Purchase a gallon of water and a shelf-stable food every time you go to the store until you have the recommended supply.

Q. What about important paperwork?

A. When evacuating, Kotch recommends Florida seniors take copies of important papers like deeds, birth certificates and insurance policies. Before leaving, he suggests taking photos of your home and belongings in case you have to make an insurance claim.

Q. Should seniors bring medications with them when they evacuate?

A. Yes! Have at least two weeks’ worth of all medications, supplies and medical equipment. Talk to your doctor about getting a paper copy of all your prescriptions as you may not be able to use your regular pharmacy after a storm, Kotch said. If you’re a caregiver, you’ll also want to bring copies of your loved one’s medical information, including diagnoses, physicians and prescribed medications.

Q. What can Florida seniors expect from a hurricane shelter?

A. It’s an emergency shelter, not housing. In Orange County, Kotch said the shelters don’t provide cots, and seniors should bring their own blankets, air mattresses and bedding. Should the shelter become full, you can expect to have 20 square feet of space, he said. If the power goes out, the shelter won’t have air conditioning. Many also don’t accept pets. When a storm is approaching, check your county’s website to see which shelters are open near you.

Q. Are there hurricane shelters for Florida seniors with special needs?

A. If you have a medical condition that requires assistance, such as oxygen, dialysis or insulin injections, Kotch recommends evacuating to a special needs shelter. He says each county in Florida is required to maintain a special needs registry and suggests signing up. This will help emergency management teams ensure they have the staff and supplies necessary to provide you with care. According to Kotch, caregivers, families and even domestic pets are allowed to accompany the person with special needs. In Orange County, if you are on the special needs registry, Kotch said, you will get a call prior to a storm to see if you need help getting to the shelter. You can learn how to register for your county’s special needs services by visiting their website.

Q. Are there any other evacuation options for Florida’s seniors during a hurricane?

A. Seniors can reach out to friends and family members who live in a safe location to see if they can weather the storm there. You might also be able to book a hotel room in another city. Seniors and their caregivers can also arrange for a respite stay at an assisted living community. At Sonata Senior Living, all of our emergency management plans are approved by the county and city. Our communities are also powered by backup generators, and we provide a week’s worth of food and water for each resident. Whatever your evacuation plans, make sure your car is fully gassed and your tires are in tip-top shape.

Q. How can Florida seniors track a hurricane’s status?

A. In addition to a battery-powered radio, Kotch suggests downloading your county and city’s emergency management apps. For example, Lake County offers an app called AlertLake, which keeps residents informed about dangerous weather. The National Weather Service also offers an emergency notification alert app.

As part of a statewide notification initiative, each county in Florida offers its own emergency alert service. Visit to learn how to subscribe for notifications in your county.

Learn how to stay safe during storm season in Florida. During a hurricane, staying informed is the top priority, Kotch said. Your phone can help you stay connected to the world.

To learn more about arranging a respite stay during a hurricane or other weather emergency, contact us today.

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

Get The Practical Guide For Managing Heart Disease

If you’re caring for a loved one who has heart disease, you already know how serious the condition is. But you may not know enough to feel confident in your caregiving abilities. Take advantage of this free guide to prepare for the challenges.


Dad won't stop driving

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.


dementia care nurses week

The Difference Dementia Certification Makes in Florida

Florida has strict requirements for those who work directly with people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s. But there are some Florida memory care communities that see the state’s extensive training requirements as merely the starting point for providing the highest level of care.

Florida Dementia Care Options

In addition to the high training standards for providing dementia care in Florida, some specialized communities, including Serenades by Sonata, provide training on Teepa Snow’s acclaimed Positive Approach™ to Care, which has attained the highest national certification for the treatment of dementia.

Credentials offered by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners recognizes the highest national standards in Alzheimer’s and dementia education and is founded in research.

The Difference a Dementia Certification Makes

After completing the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners’ rigorous training, nurses and caregivers have a deeper understanding of how dementia affects the brain.

Compared to those who only undergo the required Florida dementia care training, they’re more empowered to ensure every resident receives the highest, most compassionate level of care. They also realize that each resident has unique needs based on the parts of their brain that have been impacted by the disease.

If a resident demonstrates undesired behavior caused by dementia, these knowledgeable nurses and caregivers don’t react or take the actions personally. Instead, they understand that dementia can damage the nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes — which control behavior and personality — and respond to the resident’s distress with more compassion and efficacy.

If a resident refuses to speak, Certified Dementia Practitioners understand that the parts of the brain associated with speech have likely been compromised. They’re aware that this can cause a sense of embarrassment about being unable to find the right words to say. Professional caregivers with extensive dementia training are empowered to interact with the resident in the kindest and most empathetic way to ease their stress and discomfort.

Certified Dementia Practitioners are also knowledgeable of how the disease continues to change the brain as symptoms advance. This allows them to be proactive in helping each resident remain independent for as long as possible.

“This training gives caregivers a deeper awareness of what’s happening to each resident to provide a more detailed and personalized level of care,” said Julie Fernandez, CALA, CDP, CADDCT, CPT, the director of team development and training at Sonata Senior Living.

Better Dementia Care for Florida Families

Residents aren’t the only ones who may benefit from this research-based approach to specialized memory care for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia in Florida.

When your loved one is in the care of a Certified Dementia Practitioner at a memory care community, the needs of the family are addressed with the same level of expertise and empathy.

Certified caregivers take the time to share their deep knowledge of the brain to explain why symptoms of memory loss and confusion persist. They share tips on how to interact with your loved one in the most effective manner to ensure each visit is as meaningful and positive as possible. They’re also there to remind you that you’re doing everything right.

When you are caring for someone with dementia, each day may bring a completely new set of challenges due to the unpredictability of the disease. Certified dementia care experts have developed a practical guide for managing the negative symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia at home to help Florida families and those in their care arm themselves with essential knowledge and support that professional caregivers use in everyday practice.

“Often, families think they’re doing something wrong or they feel powerless to watch how the condition is changing their loved one,” said Fernandez. “When they speak with someone who has a deep knowledge of dementia and Alzheimer’s, the guilt starts to dissolve. It also opens their eyes. They see Mom’s still Mom, she’s just different now, and they learn to adjust their expectations and actions to have more meaningful interactions.”

For more information on assisted living and memory care at Sonata, call a community near you today to 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.

eBook Cover 24bit

finger foods

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.

eBook Cover 24bit

senior nutrition

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.