Immunizations For Health

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, the health of our residents is our highest priority, so our communities take every opportunity to promote recommended vaccinations for residents, families, volunteers and members of the surrounding community. Whitney Lane, RN, BSN, MSW, a Senior Lifestyle Divisional Director of Health and Wellness, shares that each Senior Lifestyle community holds an annual flu shot clinic and offers the pneumococcal vaccine as well. Timely immunizations against these and other diseases is vital to preventing widespread outbreaks and maintaining the health of our seniors.

August is back-to-school month, with children returning to class and young adults leaving for college. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity for people of all ages to make sure they are protected against dangerous or even deadly diseases. While immunizations for school-age children are often the focus in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that adults need immunizations as well. Vaccinations against the flu, measles and pneumonia provide protection to not only those immunized, but their communities as well.

For seniors, keeping up with vaccinations is imperative. As we age, our immune system can weaken, increasing our susceptibility to certain diseases and illnesses. In addition, certain vaccines lose their efficiency over time, making booster shots necessary. Wellness visits for adults should include a discussion with your doctor about what immunizations are recommended.

Vaccines produce immunity to disease by introducing a weakened form of the antigen to the disease, causing the body’s immune system to create antibodies against that antigen. When faced again with that particular antigen, our body’s defenses are able to act quickly to contain the threat and limit or avert that illness. For those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, avoiding illnesses like the flu can help limit complications of the underlying disease.

For more information about health and wellness topics, or to learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

 

Dog Days of Summer

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

The dog days of summer are upon us! From July 3rd to August 11th, the period of oppressive heat is known as the “dog days.” This time is so named because the hottest days of summer are associated with the dog star Sirius, the brightest star in the Canis Major constellation. The dog star rises and sets with the sun in summertime, specifically in conjunction with the sun on July 23rd. Since the ancient Romans believed that Sirius gave off heat and actually added to the warmth of the sun, they called this period of hot weather “dog days.” Over time, the period of 20 days before and 20 days after Sirius’ alignment with the sun, July 3rd to August 11th, became known as the dog days of summer.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that the hot, humid weather of the dog days of summer can make dogs (and people!) feel sluggish and lazy. If the very thought of moving around in the heat makes you feel sweaty and tired, don’t despair; there are ways to keep your cool while staying active:

 

Swimming or Water Aerobics

You no longer have to find a secret swimming hole or brave the local community pool! Many fitness centers (as well as many Senior Lifestyle communities!) have a pool available. While swimming laps is still a great option, water aerobics and other water-related exercise classes are a wonderful alternative and can provide fun and friendship in addition to a great workout. Swimming is low impact so it’s easy on joints, and many active seniors find the warm water to be therapeutic as well.

Yoga or Pilates

Both yoga and Pilates are great for restoring and maintaining physical and spiritual balance. With a range of experience levels for everyone from the novice to the seasoned yogi, these classes provide gentle stretching, focus on breathing and the added benefit increased mobility. At Senior Lifestyle communities, our Health and Wellness and Activities teams focus on providing an array of options including yoga and Pilates to help our residents remain active seniors.

 

Walking

Walking provides an immense cardiovascular benefit and is a great exercise for those with arthritis or other joint diseases. Walking paths are available at local parks, senior centers and shopping malls; many of these locations offer walking clubs as well, pairing participants with partners of similar abilities and interests, making for a great social opportunity for active seniors. Our Senior Lifestyle communities are designed to provide walking areas both inside and out so that a nice brisk walk or a leisurely stroll is a great idea no matter what the weather outside looks like!

Whatever the weather, exercise is an option at Senior Lifestyle, even during the dog days of summer. With options for every fitness level and interest, we help our residents maintain health and wellness, building endurance and strength along with building friendships! For more information about health and wellness options at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

 

Embrace Social Connections

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

We’re celebrating Social Wellness Month at Senior Lifestyle. Social Wellness Month is a time to nurture relationships and focus on healthy social connections, but what happens when a loved one isn’t able to maintain those connections? When facing a diagnosis of dementia, families often find themselves struggling to find ways to help foster and maintain true connectedness with their loved one. Senior Lifestyle’s embrace memory care philosophy focuses on helping families stay connected. By creating a unique life narrative for each resident detailing their specific life experiences, we are able to create a lifestyle attuned each resident’s personal nature—familiar and uniquely their own. This life story becomes a touchstone for friends and family members to aid in communication and connection.

Researchers have found that social connections are healthy in ways we didn’t previously understand. Strong social connections have proven to lessen the risk of some forms of dementia, as well as mitigating the early effects of cognitive impairment in some people. Unfortunately, in the early stages of dementia, the person suffering from dementia often withdraws socially due to fear of humiliation, isolating themselves in an effort to “cover” the emerging symptoms. It is especially important for friends and family to continue to stay connected and engage their loved one during this time, but quite often difficult to do so in the face of the progressing illness. At Senior Lifestyle, we create a welcoming embrace neighborhood that balances structure with freedom of movement, encouraging residents to interact at their comfort level not only with fellow residents, but with friends and family as well.

In many instances, communication becomes stressful for the person with dementia as they struggle to interpret verbal cues, so non-verbal communication in the form of touch and eye contact becomes vitally important. Our small-group programs are designed to address the unique needs that arise from memory loss and impairment, with simultaneous activities bringing energy to each neighborhood throughout the entire day. We are there every moment of the day to ensure that the daily rhythm of life is filled with joy and serenity. We help family members become attuned to this daily rhythm and take opportunities to connect with loved ones.

Can an individual maintain social connections after a diagnosis of dementia? At Senior Lifestyle, we help memory care residents do just that. Our award-winning memory care philosophy, embrace, focuses on daily interactions which bring purpose and joy to life, giving residents the opportunity to be part of a thriving community. To learn more about our embrace memory care philosophy, or to schedule a tour of a community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Social Wellness Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

July is Social Wellness Month, a time to focus on nurturing oneself and one’s relationships. Social wellness focuses on the giving and receiving of social support, identifying the network of friends and family an individual can turn to in times of crisis as well as times of celebration, and ways to keep relationships healthy. Since social support acts as a buffer against adverse life events, it is especially vital for seniors to have a strong social network in place and to have ways to grow and nurture that social network. Volunteering, pursuing a hobby, or joining a local senior center are all ways for seniors to gain valuable social interaction and grow relationships. 

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that social wellness may be more difficult to attain and maintain for seniors, especially those who are homebound or who don’t live near family and friends. Since studies have shown that social interaction provides a multitude of health benefits for seniors, one of our main goals at Senior Lifestyle is to expand the social options available to our residents and families. We know that by providing increased opportunities to socialize, we can enhance and enrich the lives of those we serve.  

Seniors reap the benefits of positive social interaction in a number of ways, from increased social and emotional well-being to improvements in physical and cognitive functions. Research shows that: 

  • People who have a strong social network tend to live longer. 
  • The heart and blood pressure of people with healthy relationships respond better to stress. 
  • Strong social networks are associated with a healthier endocrine system and healthier cardiovascular functioning. 
  • Healthy social networks enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases. 

 

At Senior Lifestyle we encourage our residents to take part in activities and events designed specifically to increase social interactions and social wellness, and we strive to improve the well-being of our residents by providing creative outlets, clubs tailored to individual interests, outings designed to entertain and educate, and opportunities to simply socialize in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more about social opportunities available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

Summer Travel With Seniors

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

Summertime is prime time for travelers, and whether we’re visiting family or traveling to an exotic locale, we love to hit the road, take a train, or board a plane to find ourselves a change of scenery. At Senior Lifestyle we know that travel can be stressful for many and can often be especially difficult for seniors, so we’re sharing a list of tips and practical advice to make travel more enjoyable for seniors and their families. Whether you’re just going over the river and through the woods or making a coast-to-coast journey, a little forethought can make the trip easier for everyone. Before you begin your summer travel with seniors, take a peek at the following advice about traveling with seniors: 

If you’re traveling by car, plan to make frequent stops. Seniors need to stretch often, and the break is good for you too! Prior to your trip, map out points of interest and if possible, build those attractions into your stop-and-stretch schedule. Be sure assistive devices like canes and walkers are easily accessible, along with any needed medications. It may seem a bit awkward at first, but also be sure to remind your loved one to use the restroom facilities at your stops and you’ll drastically reduce your chances of frantically looking for an exit with facilities in another ten miles. 

If you’re planning to fly, try to book a non-stop flight to your destination. Long layovers or sprints through a crowded airport to catch a connecting flight aren’t fun for anyone, especially an elderly parent with limited mobility. It may take longer for your loved one to board as well, so check with your airline about their boarding policies for those with disabilities. Take advantage of the assistance offered at the airport; even if Mom or Dad normally walk unassisted, a wheelchair can help ease fatigue and make the airport experience less stressful. Be sure to reserve any special services needed when booking your flight, as they may be unavailable otherwise. 

No matter what your mode of transportation may be, remember to be realistic about your itinerary. You may be up for an early hike in the morning, an afternoon swim in the pool and a late supper and dancing in the evening, while Mom and Dad may find that doing even two out of those three activities is too much for one day. Be sure to plan accordingly. If your parents like to turn in early, you may be able to spend some time enjoying things like dinner and dancing at your own pace, and there are no rules that say you have to spend every moment of your vacation together. The down time may be enjoyable for them, as well as a much-needed break for you.  

Consult with your loved one’s doctor before planning a trip. Make sure he or she feels that your elderly parent is able to manage the stress of traveling and the change in routine. Confirm that all medications are refilled and in their original bottles for ease of identification. Get a list of meds from the doctor as well, along with instructions for their use. When traveling by plane, be sure those meds are in a carry-on bag to prevent missing doses if checked luggage is delayed or lost. 

A truly unique travel book, Planes, Canes, and Automobiles by Valerie M. Grubb is a great book to read prior to taking a trip with your senior loved one. The book is packed with practical advice, highly amusing travel anecdotes, and heartwarming stories about she and her mother’s extensive travels together over the past 20 years. It serves as a cheerful, funny guide to traveling with seniors. 

No matter how you travel, enjoy this time with your parents! Remember all those road trips as a child in the backseat? How excited you were for the day when you had control of the radio, heat and air conditioning? Well, now’s your chance to exercise that control, at least to a certain extent. It’s also your chance to make some amazing memories with your loved ones, and maybe even learn a bit more about the people you care about most. Enjoy your summer travel with seniors with happy (and safe) travels from Senior Lifestyle! 

Summer Safety for Seniors

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

It’s summertime and the living is easy, but along with warmer temperatures and abundant sunshine, summer brings some special health considerations for seniors. Older adults are at risk for heat-related health problems for a variety of reasons, including chronic health conditions like heart disease or COPD, as well as age-related physical changes and the side effects of certain medications.  

Taking proper precautions may help ensure a safe summer experience, so at Senior Lifestyle we’re sharing tips from Care.com to help older adults enjoy the warmer months: 

STAY COOL 

As we age, our bodies lose the ability to manage temperature changes efficiently, leading to conditions such as heat exhaustion and a severe condition called heat stroke, a medical emergency in which the body loses its ability to regulate temperature, resulting in high core temperature, confusion, rapid pulse and difficulty breathing. “Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature,” says Dr. Lubna Javed, formerly of HealthCare Partners Medical Group in Las Vegas. “Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature.” Many communities have cooling centers for those whose homes lack air conditioning, and libraries, movie theaters and shopping malls provide welcome cool spaces as well. 

STAY IN TOUCH 

For homebound seniors, having a trusted neighbor, family member or friend who checks in regularly can be an important safety measure in the summer. For those who enjoy working in a garden or taking a daily walk, both wonderful outdoor activities for older adults, having someone who knows your routine is vital. Keeping emergency phone numbers handy and sharing this information with a friend or neighbor can help in the event of a heat-related health emergency as well.  

STAY HYDRATED 

Since older adults often become less aware of thirst and bodies naturally lose the ability to conserve fluids, it is vital for seniors to stay hydrated, especially in the summer months and when exerting themselves. Being mindful of fluid intake can help prevent hyperthermia, and since some medications can exacerbate dehydration, making hydration a habit will help keep you healthier. Setting an alarm or a reminder to drink water can help to establish a routine.  

STAY SMART 

Be sure to wear appropriate clothing and protective gear when engaging in outdoor activities. Sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and loose fitting, light-colored clothing are all important accessories for older adults (as well as younger people!) when walking, gardening or simply spending time outdoors. Outdoor activities for older adults are a great way to stay active and stay healthy; however, be sure to dress for the weather and consider getting that outdoor exercise early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures drop a bit and the sun isn’t quite as strong. 

Senior Lifestyle communities offer a wide variety of summertime activities, from gardening clubs to afternoon ice cream socials, all tailored to the comfort and safety of our residents and with special health considerations for seniors in mind. To learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com 

Engage at Every Age

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

May is National Older Americans Month, a time to recognize the contributions of seniors in our communities and encourage continued engagement. Every year, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation’s observance of Older American’s Month. This year’s theme, Engage at Every Age, focuses on the importance of involvement in activities that enrich the lives of seniors, whether those activities promote spiritual, emotional or physical wellness. Additionally, the theme highlights the contributions seniors make in their communities across the country, a positive impact that strengthens each community and provides a link between generations.  

At Senior Lifestyle, we see the positive impact of active seniors every day as our residents participate in intergenerational activities, share their life stories, and engage in mentorship programs that benefit not only youth, but every individual involved. Our communities support active, engaged seniors with programs designed to keep our residents involved in whatever form of activity they enjoy and we’re proud to provide an atmosphere in each Senior Lifestyle community that fosters a sense of engagement and purpose for our residents, truly a place to Engage at Every Age!  

 

Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, released the following statement in celebration of National Older Americans Month: 

Everyone has their own story. And telling those stories is an outstanding way to engage with other people. It’s how we pass wisdom to others, get to know each other, learn about the past and advocate for a brighter future. Everyone – young and old alike – enjoys hearing a good story.  And there are lots of important stories to tell about older Americans. 

I encourage Americans young and old – and, best of all, young with old! – to take a moment this month to share your stories. By sharing the stories of aging and older Americans, we celebrate our triumphs, share our wisdom, advocate for each other, and build stronger communities for all of us. 

One easy way you can share your story is through the Older Americans Month Selfie Challenge. Show us how you “Engage at Every Age” by posting a selfie (or groupie) of you participating in activities that improve your well-being using the hashtag #OAM18. 

As we celebrate Older Americans Month, why not make a personal choice to stay engaged? Get involved, take an active role in your care, pick up or continue a beloved hobby, or just make your goal one of increased social activity! Want to know more about how we Engage at Every Age at Senior Lifestyle? Check out our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com for a community near you and add your voice to the growing number of seniors who are actively choosing what aging looks like. 

Arthritis Awareness Month

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, a time to learn more about this condition that affects 1 in 5 adults in America, a number that includes many of those we serve at Senior Lifestyle. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this debilitating disease is the leading cause of disability in our country, affecting older adults, working-age people, and even children. The word arthritis is an all-encompassing term that refers to over 100 types of joint pain and joint disease, and while the condition is common, it is not well understood. For many arthritis sufferers, symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion, and while these symptoms may come and go, they tend to progress over time. The disease affects more women than men and the risk of arthritis increases with age.  

At Senior Lifestyle we’re committed to providing timely information on conditions that affect seniors, and we know that for the roughly 53 million Americans living with arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, with risk factors that increase with age. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is most common in people over the age of 65 and often occurs in the knees, hips, lower back and neck. The condition arises when the cartilage that normally provides a cushion for bones breaks down, causing pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joint. This can cause a “bone on bone” condition in the affected area that leads to increased pain and joint damage, often resulting in the need for joint replacement. 

If you’re living with arthritis, there are ways to minimize the pain as well as the long-term effects of the disease: 

EXERCISE  

While it may be difficult to think about exercise when joints are stiff and painful, studies show that a simple exercise plan that includes activities like walking and strength training is an important part of any arthritis treatment plan. Movement increases flexibility in the joint, while strength training helps to build muscle strength, providing support for the affected joint. Yoga, water aerobics and tai chi are excellent forms of exercise that incorporate slow stretching to improve flexibility and ease pain. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, an important factor in decreasing symptoms of osteoarthritis.  

DIET  

Maintaining a healthy weight limits stress on arthritic joints and helps to increase mobility. Decreasing caloric intake while increasing physical activity helps to achieve a healthy weight. Research also shows that diets high in saturated fats such as those found in processed foods can weaken cartilage, increasing the risk of damage. Red meat, sugar and refined carbohydrates also increase inflammation, a condition that worsens symptoms like swelling. An anti-inflammatory diet based on whole grains, fish, and fruits and vegetables is recommended. 

PAIN MANAGEMENT 

While exercise is helpful in managing pain and stiffness, medications are also available to help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis. Drugs called analgesics are available in pill form as well as creams, lotions and injections, and include acetaminophen and opioids. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are also an option used commonly to decrease swelling and pain. These include drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen and are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Stronger drugs called corticosteroids are taken by mouth or injected into the joint by a doctor to ease pain and inflammation. Additionally, hyaluronic acid, a natural component of joint fluid which breaks down in people with osteoarthritis, can be injected in the affected joint by a physician. Remember, it is important for those with arthritis to discuss pain management with a medical provider to be certain that maximum relief is obtained in a safe manner and side effects are minimized as much as possible. 

At Senior Lifestyle, one of our goals is helping our residents maintain health and wellness, so we provide activities, education and support for those living with arthritis as well as other chronic conditions. To learn more about activities designed to help residents achieve health and wellness goals at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

The Social Scene

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that for many, social interaction is a basic part of everyday life, but we also know that for some seniors, socialization can be hard to find. For a senior who doesn’t drive and lives alone, social interaction can become nearly non-existent if family or friends are not available for visits or to help with transportation. For a senior acting as caregiver for a spouse, the result is often the same. While they may have the means to leave the house, performing the duties of a caregiver may limit the time they are able to be away. Loved ones who are homebound may also miss many of the benefits of social interaction for seniors. 

Since studies have shown that social interaction provides a multitude of health benefits for seniors, one of our main goals at Senior Lifestyle is to expand the social options available to our residents and families. We know that by providing increased opportunities to socialize, we can enhance and enrich the lives of those we serve. 

Seniors reap the benefits of positive social interaction in a number of ways, from increased social and emotional well-being to improvements in physical and cognitive functions. Some of the benefits of social interaction for seniors include: 

RENEWED SENSE OF PURPOSE 

Interacting with other seniors in meaningful ways allows seniors to feel engaged and involved in the world around them. While caregivers are a wonderful source of company and comfort, studies show that our senior loved ones need to socialize with their peers as well. Sharing conversation or an activity with someone who shares similar interests not only provides positive interaction but may also spark a friendship. Seniors with physical limitations can still provide companionship and conversation with others who may be lonely, with both reaping the benefits of a purposeful social interaction and fostering a feeling of connectedness within their social circle. 

AN INCREASE IN MEMORY AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION 

Social activity reduces the risk of age-related memory loss, improving cognitive function and providing a boost to self-confidence. Seniors who feel confident that their wit and memory remain sharp are more apt to continue with social activities and to have a positive attitude toward social interaction. Even as mobility declines, this confidence in the senior’s ability to socialize helps to drive more interaction with peers, which in turn boosts the cognitive function of all involved, giving socially active seniors and their peers even more reason to attend group functions. 

POSITIVE IMPACT ON PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH 

Research shows that socially active seniors have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. While isolation has a negative impact on our immune systems, social interaction and a feeling of connectedness provides a positive effect, a boost that helps us avoid illness as well as emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. Creating opportunities for social interaction provides the benefit of overall improved health for the senior population of any community. 

At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to help those we serve live life to the fullest, so we strive to improve the well-being of our residents by providing creative outlets, clubs tailored to individual interests, outings designed to entertain and educate, and opportunities for our residents to simply socialize in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more about social opportunities available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today! 

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

For many families, a conversation about advanced care planning doesn’t happen until a health crisis occurs, leaving family members unsure of their loved one’s wishes. While this conversation can be difficult, it is an important one. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe it is vital to provide those we serve with information that aids in making healthcare choices, so we proudly support National Healthcare Decisions Day as a means of empowering our residents and families with information and access to tools to make advanced care planning easier. 

An initiative of The Conversation Project, National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning. Observed on, April 16th, this annual event aims to empower people with information on how to discuss and put in writing their wishes should they become seriously ill and unable to communicate those wishes to a loved one or healthcare provider. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that each person’s wishes are as unique as they are and we encourage families to discuss all aspects of care in order to fully respect those wishes. 

For many, the prospect of talking about final wishes is daunting, and the process of making those wishes known to loved ones and healthcare providers may seem mysterious and unnecessarily convoluted. While state laws differ regarding advance care planning, The Conversation Project believes that it is important to provide clear and concise information on healthcare decision-making in order to simplify the process. To remove barriers to the advanced care planning conversation and provide meaningful information instead of just forms to fill out, toolkits tailored to specific state guidelines are available to families as well as healthcare providers. These toolkits support and encourage each family to focus on the specific aspects of care that matter most to them. 

Would your family know your wishes in the event of a health crisis? You can provide yourself and your loved ones with peace of mind by taking the time to think about and share your wishes. For more information about advanced care planning and National Healthcare Decisions Day, go to theconversationproject.org or visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and start a conversation today.