Making Mondays Matter: Health Habits That Stick

The start of the new year is often filled with optimism. Resolutions are made and one-word intentions are set for who we want to become, what we hope to achieve, and what we need to change. For many people, those goals are centered around improving their health.

Still at the top of the resolutions list are exercising more, eating healthier or losing weight, and quitting smoking, according to various studies. The problem is that many people don’t follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. A report from U.S. News & World Report found that 80% of resolutions fail. Most are abandoned as early as the middle of February.

As we try to make choices to improve our health, it can be discouraging when we fail. But we need to give ourselves grace and the option to start over. The Monday Campaign, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, started a public health initiative for a “fresh start” Monday mindset. Their research showed people are most open to positive change at the start of the week, and view Mondays as a time to re-set.

In the full report, the study’s authors Jillian Fry, MPH and Roni Neff, PhD, MS seek to “reframe Monday as a positive experience and an opportunity to begin the week with a new perspective.” In fact, during their research, they found that more than half of the 1,500 adults they surveyed viewed Monday as a day to “get their act together or a day for a fresh start.” Almost half of those surveyed said they would start a diet or new exercise program on a Monday.

The Healthy Monday Refresh proposes that by setting intentions in the beginning of the week we can develop lasting habits over time. The steps to making it happen couldn’t be easier: set an intention, pick an action, and make it happen. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, there’s always next Monday.

At Advena Living, we welcome individuals to our community who are looking to make positive changes for their overall health and wellbeing Monday and every other day of the week– whether it’s a short-term rehab stay to get your strength back after surgery, or it’s a move to an assisted living facility or nursing home because you need a little extra help. By following a person-centered care philosophy, we respect and accommodate community member’s individual choices, while trying to make them feel at home. Our team values your input as we develop specific health plans to get you on the right track.

Calming Music at Bedtime: Improving Sleep for Older Adults

Ask any parent or grandparent how to put a fussy baby to sleep, and they’ll tell you to play or sing a lullaby. The soft, lilting notes of a lullaby have long been known for putting babies and children fast asleep. What many didn’t realize until recently is that calming music can be just as effective for sleep problems among older adults.

According to, as many as 40 percent of older adults experience insomnia, and up to 70 percent have some type of sleep problem – like trouble falling to sleep, waking up too early, or waking up several times during the night. Sleep problems are nothing to yawn at either. Poor sleep can lead to falls, accidents, memory problems, depression, or just plain feeling irritable the next day.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids have their own list of side-effects, so a prescription for calming music as the solution to sleep problems might be just what the doctor orders.

The study defines calming music as music with a “slow tempo of 60 to 80 beats per minute and a smooth melody.” Rhythmic music that is faster and louder is not as helpful, studies showed. The researchers believe calming music lowers levels of stress and anxiety, slows heart rate and breathing, and lowers blood pressure.

Listening to music for longer than four weeks, apparently, is more effective for improving sleep quality than shorter efforts – so if it doesn’t work the first time, keep playing the music for 30 minutes or more each night for at least a month.

At Advena Living, we love improving the lives of the people who are part of our assisted living, long-term care and skilled nursing communities. There are all sorts of cutting-edge medical interventions for health issues that arise, but there are also simple little techniques that can make people’s lives better. We believe in the power of a calming environment, not just in a musical sense, but also in the look, feel and freedom we provide our community members. Reach out to us today for assistance with any questions you have or problems you’d like to discuss, including sleep issues.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Reading the Signs – and Understanding Your Options for Memory Care

Memory issues are common with aging. How many of us have searched the house in a frenzy looking for reading glasses perched on our heads – or used the flashlight on a phone to search beneath the couch for that very phone?

That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognize when memory glitches might be more than just the normal, everyday lapses we all experience. Once you’ve accepted that Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is at play, researching what the options are for safe, affordable memory care can seem an overwhelming task.

As noted in this article from U.S. News, here are five signs that it’s time to consider memory care options:

  1. Changes in behavior
  2. Confusion and disorientation that imperil physical safety
  3. A decline in physical health
  4. A caregiver’s deterioration
  5. Incontinence

There are many considerations to help determine whether memory issues can best be supported through in-home care, assisted living, specialized memory care, long-term nursing home care – or a combination of care settings and services therein.

At Advena Living, we can accommodate individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s at any of our communities. We welcome new community members who may be experiencing escalating memory loss and need a safe, comfortable home with extra cognitive support. Reach out to us today and we can be part of the decision-making process.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

“A Happy Surprise” – New Research Shows Socializing Improves Cognition for Older Adults

Millions of Americans have Alzheimer’s disease – and since the COVID-19 pandemic began, socialization has decreased for many, which is known to have adverse effects.

That’s why Ruixue Zhaoyang, assistant research professor of the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State, called it “a happy surprise” when his team concluded that cognitive abilities improve for days following joyful social interaction in adults aged 70-90. According to Zhaoyang:

“Our study is one of the first to show that [having] social interactions on one day can immediately affect your cognitive performance that same day and also on the following days. The fact that we found that the cognitive benefits of having pleasant social interactions could manifest over such a short time period was a happy surprise and could be a promising area for future intervention studies.”

At Advena Living, we care deeply about making sure our community members experience joy in their lives every day. In addition to excellence in memory care and nursing home/long-term care, we provide healthy and happy social interaction, and we welcome loved ones to come do the same.

You can read about the Penn State study here.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Alzheimer’s & Activities: Safely Assisting with Normalcy

Maybe you grew up watching your father read the newspaper every morning with his cup of coffee. Now, with Alzheimer’s disease, he may not be able to fully comprehend what he reads – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop offering him a newspaper each morning. The ritual of normalcy may be more important than how much information he absorbs from the news.

Of course, for safety reasons, modifications may be necessary for other types of favorite activities enjoyed before the onset of dementia. The onset of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia doesn’t have to bring an end to doing what we love. They simply require modifications, especially as the disease progresses. The Alzheimer’s Association provides some helpful tips on choosing and modifying activities for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Expertise in dementia is something our memory care experts at Advena Living bring to the table every day. In our Advena Living Communities, individualized living is the standard we hold – and honoring a person’s freedom of choice is our goal. We are advocates for making care more compassionate and intentional – supporting what brings individuals joy.  Whether at home with you or at home with us, it is important to keep your loved one involved in doing what they love, at whatever level they are capable.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Two older adults playing with hoolahoops - long and happy life

Finding Your Superpowers: Nine Keys to a Long & Happy Life

Last month, we introduced you to the concept of the Blue Zones lifestyle and its patented blueprint for happiness. Through their blue zone research, experts were able to extract nine lifestyle habits helping so many in “blue zone” populations reach the age of 100 with health and happiness. Dan Buettner of National Geographic, who helped spearhead this research, calls them the Power 9.

Think of the Power 9 as your very own superpowers, and find ways to fold them into your lifestyle or your loved one’s lifestyle:

  1. Move – and do it in ways that blend naturally into your lifestyle and are not stressful (e.g., gardening, dancing, hiking, etc.)
  2. Find purpose
  3. Downshift and de-stress
  4. Eat less meat and more plants – especially beans (yes, the musical fruit)
  5. 80/20 rule – stop eating before you’re full (stop yourself at maybe 80% full) and try to stop eating after an early dinner
  6. Have wine with that dinner (and at Advena you can)
  7. Belong to a faith community – it’s been consistently proven to add years to your life
  8. Put your loved ones first – invest in your children, love your partner for a lifetime, remain involved in the lives of your elders
  9. Find your right tribe – choosing the right people to surround yourself with can be critical. Bad habits are contagious, but so are good ones

At Advena, we want you to live long – and live well. Making a decision to choose Advena for yourself or a loved one is an easy way to achieve many of the goals on Buettner’s Power 9 list. Opportunities to live the Power 9 are all here for you and your family.

Developing a strategy for living longer and living well is something all of us at Advena hold as our first priority. That’s why we’re always doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – for a long time to come. Practice makes perfect, and we’d like to think we’ve developed a few superpowers of our own.

You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website for details about diet, lifestyle and all the other details Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

A group of older men playing cards outside (nursing home or assisted living scene)

Charting a Course to Your Very Own ‘Blue Zone’ – to Live Your Best Life Yet!

Being blue for 100 years might sound like a bad thing, but some of the latest research on longevity and human well-being suggests it just might be the thing to make you happy. Have you heard all the buzz about Blue Zones yet?

It all started back in 1999, when a couple of demographic researchers – think of them as the Lewis and Clark on the frontiers of living well – noticed a high concentration of healthy, happy men living to be a hundred. These male centenarians were concentrated in a group of villages in Sardinia, Italy.

The researchers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, used a blue pen to draw concentric circles on a map identifying these villages. After their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology, a National Geographic fellow named Dan Buettner began building on their work and identified other longevity hotspots in the world that he dubbed “blue zones.”

Buettner worked with a team of researchers and experts to isolate the reasons for the longevity and well-being witnessed in these Blue Zones. The upshot of their work was a list of nine lifestyle habits – what Buettner calls the Power 9 – that were responsible for all the long, happy lives – of not just men but women, too.

Of course, there are no guarantees that adopting these lifestyle habits will make you happy or healthy, much less extend your life, but the odds are in your favor. After all, your good genes will only get you so far, accounting for only 25 percent of life expectancy. That means your lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on how long you live and how happy you are.

Discovering the fountain of youth has been a human endeavor since humans began figuring out how to escape saber tooth tigers. Developing a strategy for living your best – and longest – life is something all of us at Advena also believe is important. So we’ve been doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – and happy.

Yes, happiness was another feature Buettner found in the Blue Zones. In his latest book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People, Buettner explained that we would be surprised to learn what truly makes us happy.

Surprisingly, safety and security are among the most important factors that makes people happy. Having financial security makes you happier than conspicuous consumption. Living in a community where you can walk or bike where you need to go makes you happier than having to drive. Believe it or not, people who go to the dentist more often rate higher on the happiness scale.

Another factor – one that’s not so surprising – is the importance of minimizing isolation. Buettner found that prioritizing at least five to six hours of daily socialization was crucial. The old Barbra Streisand song “People” reminds us that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” but apparently, they’re the happiest people in the world, too.

So how does Advena rank on the happiness scale? At Advena, we’ve long understood the importance of community. We design our living communities to minimize isolation and maximize opportunities for socializing with friends, family, Advena staff and other residents. Safety and security are hallmarks of Advena communities.

Buettner’s book targets 50 evidence-based ways to reshape not so much yourself (unlike most self-help theories) but your surroundings. Even if you’ve had trouble changing yourself, changing your surroundings can have a huge impact, Buettner believes. (Who says the geographic cure can’t work?)

In a 2017 National Geographic article, Buettner featured Costa Rica, Denmark and Singapore as three of the happiest places on earth. The article also singled out 25 of the happiest communities in the U.S. You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website about diet, lifestyle and all the other factors Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

Also, stay turned for our second article in this series next month where we’ll take a deep dive into the Power 9 Buettner believes are crucial factors for living to 100 and beyond. We’ll give you one to practice with until next month: find a routine that sheds stress for you. Be it meditation, yoga, walking, praying, reading or any of a multitude of paths to finding peace. The important thing is simplifying and de-stressing life to live longer and better.

We’ll explore the rest of the Power 9 in more detail next time.

Advena logo - Kansas Healthcare Agency Staffing + Living Communities (nursing homes/LTC, skilled nursing, assisted living & more)

Join Us in Celebrating Our New Brand

Cornerstone Healthcare Solutions is proud to announce and celebrate our transition to a new corporate name and brand identity as Advena Living, representing a system of six beautiful continuing-care and community living facilities located across Kansas.

A nurse or CNA assisting a masked male nursing home resident

Latest Guidance for Visitors During COVID-19

Our federal governing body, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has issued the following guidelines regarding visitation in nursing homes. These guidelines are in effect for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Outdoor visits are preferred as much as possible, as they generally pose a lower risk of virus transmission because of the increased space and airflow. We do understand outdoor visits may not always be possible in the case of bad weather and other factors.
  • Visitors are still required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times and encouraged to maintain social distancing. 
  • Indoor visits are allowed for all residents.

For all visits, we ask that visitors abide by the following CMS-issued guidelines:

  • Completion of Covid-19 symptom screening immediately upon entry to the building
  • Wearing a well-fitting mask over the mouth and nose at all times
  • Please go straight to the designated visitation area and then to the exit when your visit has ended
  • Maintain social distance of at least 6 feet between your loved one as well as all other residents
    • Fully vaccinated residents may choose to have close contact, including touch, with their loved one
  • Perform hand hygiene when entering and exiting the building

To maintain social distancing and infection protocols, we are limiting the number of people visiting a resident to two at a time for indoor visits, and four at a time for outdoor visits. Additionally, we request that you make appointments with facility staff before your visit.

These visitation guidelines will change if a staff member or facility resident tests positive for COVID-19. In that case, visits will be limited to the unaffected area of the building. In any case that multiple areas of the building are affected, indoor visits will be suspended until the facility meets the requirements to come out of quarantine.

We appreciate everyone’s support, understanding and patience!

A nurse or CNA interacting with a patient in a nursing home or assisted living facility

A Week to Honor our Caregivers: May 9-15

We are proud to recognize our skilled nurses and caregivers during May 9-15 for National Skilled Nursing Care Week. Because we have leaned on our nurses so much during the pandemic in the past year, it’s even more important now to show our sincere appreciation for the selfless work they do.

The theme of National Skilled Nursing Care Week is “Together Through the Seasons,” honoring the tireless dedication of skilled nurses and support staff in providing compassionate care to facility residents through good times and bad. While facing the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, our nurses have always stayed committed to providing the best care possible, keeping residents safe, and giving them the personal attention they need and deserve in a time of stress and isolation.

As we focus on our reasons for hope regarding COVID-19, our skilled nurses have led the way toward getting us through. We invite everyone to join us in saying “thank you” to a skilled nurse today, and in celebrating them during their dedicated week!