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The 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.

Isolation Infographic vF 1920px

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 →

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iStock 1203187628 Coronavirus

COVID-19 Precautionary Measures in Senior Living

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

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 https://sonataseniorliving.com/covid-19-updates/ for updates and resources.

WE ARE SONATA SAFE

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.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TAKEN BY SONATA

  • 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.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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.

RESOURCES

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/ltc-facility-guidance.html

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.

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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 →

EXPECT MORE PERSONALIZATION


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

FIND COMMUNITY

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

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 →

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music memory loss 5

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

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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.

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Download A Free Guide to Music & Memory Loss

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4 Ways Virtual Assistants Makes Life Easier for Older Adults

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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 →

Download Your Guide To Healthy Aging & Longevity in Florida


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The Lasting Power of Songs From the Golden Age of Musicals

music and memory the golden ageWhen it was released in 1927, The Jazz Singer was the first feature-length motion picture with a recorded music score. The movie marked the end of the silent film era, and for the next 20 years, musicals ruled the silver screen.

Movies released during the so-called “Golden Age” include Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz and Yankee Doodle Dandy. The films’ songs and dances were a refreshing escape for post-Depression moviegoers and thus resulted in big profits for the movie industry.

But by the end of the 1950s, things changed.

The cost of making a musical—the Technicolor™ film, the costumes and sets—became too much for the movie studios. Plus, audiences’ tastes were also evolving. Around this time, a group from Liverpool called The Beatles (you may have heard of them) brought in a new wave of musical and lyrical experimentation that forever changed pop culture.

Televisions also became more affordable and ubiquitous during this time. Between 1946 and 1951, the number of televisions in use skyrocketed from 6,000 to more than 12 million, according to New York University. Suddenly, a trip to the movie theater wasn’t the only option for entertainment and diversion.

But while the Golden Age of musicals is over, the songs live on. And for many people with Alzheimer’s, these songs provide a critical connection between the past and present.

The Powerful Connection Between Music and Alzheimer’s

Music is a powerful form of therapy for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Multiple studies, ranging from a 1993 report in the Perceptual and Motor Skills journal to a 2014 study in The Gerontologist, have shown that music can help reduce the severity of age-related declines in cognition and memory.

While scientists are still working to explain the exact connection between music, memory and Alzheimer’s, the leading theory suggests that music memory works differently from other forms of memory.

Petr Janata, a professor of psychology at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, suggests that we encode music more richly. Other memories such as visual images and smells are tied to the musical memories. That’s why people with dementia are able to recall songs from their youth, even when other parts of their brain have been damaged by the condition. It’s also why people who have suffered severe brain injuries are often unable to recall their past, but can sing the lyrics to classics like the Star-Spangled Banner or Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The Golden Age of Music and Memory

golden age musicalsFor people living with Alzheimer’s, it’s songs from Golden Age hits like the Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music specifically that seem to have the most impact on their mental and emotional well-being.

A recent article in The Guardian quoted the work of researchers who led a four-month musical therapy program in a U.S. memory care community. When people with Alzheimer’s participated in regular singing sessions that featured songs like My Favorite Things and Follow the Yellow Brick Road, they scored higher on cognitive and drawing tests. They also reported being happier and more satisfied with life at the end of the program.

Another study conducted by researchers at Helsinki University showed listening to music helped improve the mood and orientation skills of people living with Alzheimer’s. After a 10-week singing course, the participants increased their scores on several memory, cognition and attention tests. While in Britain, the U.K. Alzheimer’s Society holds regular group singing sessions to help improve the lives of citizens with dementia and impaired cognitive abilities.

Musical Therapy for People With Alzheimer’s in Florida

Memory care communities in Florida offer musical intervention programs to help residents with Alzheimer’s enjoy a higher quality of life.

At Sonata Senior Living, our Duets program draws from the latest research on music and Alzheimer’s to help promote cognitive rehabilitation, reduce anxiety and improve the overall well-being of our residents living with dementia.

To learn how music in memory care can make a difference for your loved one, call a Serenades Memory Care 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.

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Understanding the Health Effects of Loneliness: Take the Quiz

impact of lonelinessIn Florida, more than 1.2 million seniors live by themselves, according to the State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs. While some of these Florida seniors have a robust social and family life, many don’t.

Around the state — and even the world — researchers are seeing an increased correlation between getting older and experiencing symptoms of loneliness and social isolation. In France and the United Kingdom, researchers have launched campaigns to raise awareness of this growing trend, while U.S. scientists are diving into the research to see exactly how loneliness affects older adults’ physical and mental health.

Is Your Loved One at Risk of Becoming Socially Isolated?

A Journal of Primary Prevention review of articles published in medical outlets like PsycINFO and Medline shows an alarming amount of evidence that seniors living alone are at an increased risk of developing many chronic diseases and illnesses.

Studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute on Aging show that social isolation and loneliness can increase one’s chances of developing mental and physical issues including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Loneliness has also been tied to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, cognitive decline and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The Cacioppo Evolutionary Theory of Loneliness, a novel study into how social interaction affects our health, suggests that the behavioral and biological consequences of loneliness increase the risk of death in people of all ages.

The Biological Impact of Loneliness

Part of the reason loneliness affects our health is because it changes our perception of the world, says Steve Cole, Ph.D., director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Cole’s research suggests that chronic loneliness puts our body on the defensive at a biological level. We’re more likely to feel threatened and distrustful of those around us.

This may promote inflammation, which, over an extended period of time, can increase our risk of developing a chronic disease. Loneliness may also weaken our immune systems, putting us at increased risk of getting sick.

Quiz: Is Your Loved One Lonely?

If your parent or another loved one over the age of 70 lives alone, take this short quiz to better understand their risk of becoming socially isolated.

  1. Does your parent belong to a house of worship?
  2. Does your parent belong to a social club or senior center?
  3. Does your parent have friends they speak to regularly?
  4. Does your parent drive?
  5. Does your parent exercise?
  6. Does your parent volunteer for a school, charity or other organization?
  7. Does your parent engage in hobbies that interest them such as crafts or woodworking?
  8. Can your parent walk up and down stairs without assistance?
  9. Has your parent made plans to see friends in the past three months?
  10. Do you visit your parent at least once a week?

If you answered “no” to five or more questions, your parent may be more susceptible to feelings of loneliness and associated chronic health issues.

Fixing the Problem

socializing seniorsIn the past, many seniors moved in with their children or grandchildren as their health and mobility declined. But the reduction in multi-generational households means more and more seniors are living alone.

That’s why many older adults and their loved ones embrace the idea of making new friends and building camaraderie at a senior living community. Assisted living and independent living communities with robust social and activity calendars offer what Dr. Cole from UCLA’s Social Genomics Core Laboratory says is the secret to reducing feelings of loneliness: a sense of purpose.

His research has shown that helping others, volunteering and feeling like one’s life has meaning helps us feel more connected and leads to a healthier immune system.

An article in Psychology Today by Angela K. Troyer, Ph.D., C.Psych., goes on to list the many health benefits of an active social life, including:

  • A longer lifespan, regardless of one’s current health
  • Stronger immune system, especially in seniors
  • Decreased symptoms of depression and improved overall mental well-being
  • Lower risk of dementia

At Sonata Senior Living, our Florida communities offer residents a variety of lifestyle choices, including independent living, assisted living and memory care. All of our communities have robust social and activity calendars, encouraging our residents to make new friends, build stronger connections and feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

For more information, call a community near you today to 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.

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Is Depression a Risk Factor for Dementia?

Dementia and Depression

In addition to memory loss and changes in behavior, depression is a common experience for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One 2016 study by Lara et al. suggested that as many as half of those diagnosed with symptoms of cognitive decline will experience at least one depressive episode during their treatment.

But when it comes to depression and dementia, providing the right care at the right time isn’t always easy. The symptoms of the two conditions are strikingly similar. And some studies suggest that people who suffer from depression may be at an increased risk of experiencing cognitive decline later in life.

Here’s what we know — and don’t know — about the link between depression and dementia.

Dementia and Depression: Understanding the Similarities

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Also called major depressive disorder, people with depression may experience a range of mental health symptoms, including intense sadness, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, and changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

Dementia, on the other hand, is a medical term used to describe a series of cognitive symptoms that affect one’s daily life. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these symptoms may include memory problems and changes in personality and critical thinking skills.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. There are more than 540,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in Florida alone.

The Connection Between Depression and Dementia

In addition to memory and behavioral changes, people living with dementia may also experience the classic symptoms of depression, including unexplainable sadness, fatigue and sleeping issues.

There are also similarities at the biological level, according to Psychology Today. In blood tests, people with dementia and depression both tested high for the stress hormone cortisol.

There’s such an intense overlap between the two conditions, researchers at the University of Wyoming say it can be difficult to tell the two apart, even in a clinical setting.

Does Depression Cause Dementia?

There is an increased interest in finding out whether depression is not just a symptom of dementia, but also a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Several recent studies have shown that a history of depression may increase one’s chances of experiencing cognitive decline later in life.

  • In 2015, researchers in India found that people who suffer from depression experienced symptoms of cognitive decline 2.5 years earlier than those who did not.
  • Another study, by Barnes et al., suggested that people who experience depression later in life were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. While people who experienced depression in mid and late life had more than a three-fold increased risk of developing vascular dementia, cognitive decline caused by cerebrovascular disease.
  • Finally, an article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that late-life depression is a “strong risk factor” for experiencing symptoms of cognitive impairment.

The connection between dementia and depression is so strong, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry is calling for further research into whether treating symptoms of apathy and depression early in life will help reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Another study, published in the Handbook on the Neuropsychology of Aging and Dementia, suggested that depression may be an early symptom of dementia.

Using What We Know to Help People Living With Dementia

As the medical community continues to determine the exact link between depression and dementia, memory care communities are developing programs to help their residents enjoy the highest quality of life possible. That means training their caregivers to recognize the symptoms of depression, delivering the proper care to residents, and creating activities and routines that help residents feel engaged and connected.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s person-directed approach to memory care, 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.

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sonata new land

Sonata Senior Living Plans $52 Million Community in Lake Mary

Sonata Senior Living Plans $52 Million Community in Lake Mary

sonata lake maryORLANDO, FL—Sept. 12, 2019—Sonata Senior Living has announced plans to develop Sonata Lake Mary, a $52 million resort-style community in Lake Mary, Florida. Located on a seven-acre site within the Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park mixed-use development near Primera Blvd. and Reinhart Rd., the property will feature 88 independent living, 92 assisted living and 13 memory care apartments.

Sonata Lake Mary is expected to break ground in early 2020, making it the 12th community for Orlando-based Sonata Senior Living, a privately held senior housing developer and operator.

Sonata Lake Mary will offer a convenient rental contract and continuum of care for aging in place. The four-story building will incorporate the latest design and technology innovations with spacious apartments and upscale amenities along with the exceptional service and care that is a Sonata Senior Living trademark.

sonata new land“Hospitality is at the center of all Sonata Senior Living Communities,” said Shelley Esden, COO of Sonata Senior Living. “Sonata Lake Mary will build on this philosophy and align with the modern-day expectations of seniors who desire more choices.”

The community will feature multiple dining venues; a full-service and juice bar; fitness center and spa; bocce ball court; putting green; theater; pool; and dog park, among other amenities. Innovations such as a simulated golf center will cater to the active senior lifestyle.

The location of Sonata Lake Mary within the 153-acre, estimated $750 million Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park will ideally place the community in close proximity to a hospital, urgent care facility and medical pavilion.

According to Richard Toomey of LMLD, LLC, and master developer of the Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park, Orlando Health plans to start construction of the $470 million, 240-bed hospital in 2020 as well as planning for another 84,000-square-feet of medical office space within walking distance to Sonata Lake Mary.

President Jim Heistand of LMLD’s parent company, Parkway Property Investments, LLC, stated, “Richard has assembled a fantastic group of businesses for the Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park and senior housing is an essential component of our plan to create a sustainable live, work and medical wellness town center.”

“We are building a community within a community and our presence in the park squarely places the emphasis on wellness in senior living, which is something we are passionate about,” said Esden. “The location in the Lake Mary Wellness and Technology Park will provide our residents convenient access to world-class medical facilities in addition to our own signature care.”

The 250,000-square-foot senior living community will create approximately 200 jobs during construction and 85 permanent jobs in Lake Mary upon opening in 2021.

About Sonata Senior Living

Sonata Senior Living is a licensed owner, developer and operator of independent living, assisted living and memory care communities located exclusively in Florida. Recognized by Argentum as a Best of the Best Award recipient, Sonata Senior Living is committed to enriching the lives of older adults through constant innovation, programming and services that recognize individuality and personal choice. Partners include the Florida Senior Living Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach™ to Care and Argentum. For more information visit www.sonataseniorliving.com or call Shelley Esden at 407-286-6490.

To learn more about Sonata Senior Living’s independent living, assisted living and memory care communities, schedule a visit →

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