Healthy for Good

Posted by in Food and Nutrition.

February, American Heart Month, is drawing to a close, and at Senior Lifestyle we hope that you’ve gained some information about heart health as well as some incentive to take care of your heart. Our senior communities are committed to fostering a healthy lifestyle for those we serve, so we’re excited to share information on heart health.

When it comes to heart health, factors such as lifestyle, blood pressure, weight, response to stress and diet all play a part. Making small changes can make a big difference, especially if you are at higher risk for heart disease due to manageable risk factors like hypertension. Lowering your blood pressure can make a substantial difference not only in your heart health, but in your overall sense of wellbeing, leading to even more changes, such as exercising more and better stress management.

Small steps lead to big steps! The American Heart Association has introduced Healthy For Good, a unique program designed to help people make small changes to create healthier lifestyles. The Healthy For Good approach focuses on four simple goals:

EAT SMART

Make healthy, delicious choices wherever and whenever you eat. Change your focus from diets to ditching the junk and learn to enjoy eating healthy, whether at home or out and about. Choose nutrient-dense foods to control cravings.

ADD COLOR

Make life more colorful with fruits and vegetables. Adding fruits and vegetables to every meal and snack is a healthy way to add color to your life. Different colors contain different nutrients, so make your plate as colorful as possible!

MOVE MORE

Infuse more movement into your life for optimal health. Focus on finding a form of exercise you like and sticking with it. The goal is 150 minutes per week; however, adding any amount of activity is helpful as long as you make it a routine.

BE WELL

Create balance, vitality and wellbeing through self-care. Maintaining strong social connections, managing stress and getting enough sleep are as vital to health as diet and exercise.

To Join the Healthy For Good movement, simply visit the American Heart Association’s website and sign up to receive tips, life hacks and great advice on how to integrate small changes that make a big difference into your lifestyle.

At Senior Lifestyle we focus on whole health for our residents, so we strive to provide healthy dining choices, activities tailored to the needs of our senior communities, and endless opportunities for social interaction. We believe that these combinations lead to better health for everyone, so we’re committed to offering the very best to our residents and families. To learn more about programs offered in Senior Lifestyle communities near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Is it Alzheimer’s?

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that a dementia diagnosis can be frightening. We also know that for many people, the words “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s Disease” are interchangeable, making a diagnosis of dementia even more stressful. While Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for about 60 to 80 percent of cases, there are other types of dementia. Senior Lifestyle’s unique memory care philosophy, embrace, offers a holistic care program tailored to the specific needs of our residents with differing forms of dementia.

Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term describing cognitive decline that is severe enough to impair a person’s ability to manage daily life. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with dementia, with memory loss being the most recognizable; however, memory loss alone does not mean that a person has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Additionally, there is no one singular test for dementia; doctors may make a diagnosis of dementia based on a physical examination, a careful review of medical history, specific changes noted in everyday behavior, as well as laboratory tests. For a diagnosis of dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

While many forms of dementia are both permanent and progressive, meaning the condition will worsen over time, some types of dementia can be reversed when an underlying issue such as depression, medication side effects, excess use of alcohol or thyroid problems is addressed. Additionally, urinary tract infections in seniors can cause a sudden change in mental status known as delirium which often disappears when the underlying infection is treated. While the sudden onset of delirium can be frightening for both the senior and his or her caregivers, it is important to note that this condition is most often a short-lived change which subsides with treatment of the UTI. It is important to address any change in mental status with your health professional to determine the cause and course of treatment available.

When facing a diagnosis of dementia, it is vitally important for families to know what treatments and resources are available to them. At Senior Lifestyle, we encourage families to join Alzheimer’s/Dementia support groups such as those offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, including their online Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center. Additionally, we offer our award-winning embrace memory care philosophy, a program developed to provide care not only for the person with dementia, but for the entire family. For more information about memory care at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

How to talk about senior living

Posted by in Expert Advice.

At Senior Lifestyle, we’re been helping seniors and their families navigate the senior care journey for over 30 years. We understand the uncertainty and questions as well as the obstacles that accompany many families on their journey and we strive to provide exceptional guidance and support. We also know that many families meet with resistance from their senior loved one when searching for quality senior care. Talking about senior living is an important first step in the journey.

Do you have concerns about a loved living at home alone? Are you worried that the stress of running a household is causing health problems for your loved one? If so, talking about senior living options may help allay your fears and allow your senior loved one to verbalize their concerns as well. Additionally, the subject will be easier to discuss later when the need arises if you’ve already started the conversation.

Some tips for a healthy discussion about senior care:

Start the conversation early

Don’t wait until a health crisis forces your hand; it’s much easier to make decisions about senior care when you and your loved one don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. It’s much less stressful to talk about senior living in terms of “future planning” than in terms of deciding now. Remember that this is simply a first step, and you don’t have to have all the answers after your first conversation.

Be empathetic

Understand that talking about senior living may be difficult for your loved one, especially if they’ve been living independently and are only recently experiencing difficulties. They may feel that the situation will correct itself in time and want to save the conversation for later. Put yourself in their shoes when starting the conversation about senior care and tread lightly in your first attempts to broach the subject. The discussion should be framed as a partnership with you and your loved one about options and alternatives to the current situation.

Find the right time and place

Timing is important. Find a time when you can be uninterrupted, as well as a location that feels neutral and safe for the conversation. Talking about senior living is much more appropriate and comfortable in a quiet corner of the local coffee shop or at the kitchen table than in a crowded restaurant or in the middle of a family event.

Do your homework

Preparing a little in advance is always helpful. Write down your specific concerns so that you have “talking points” when you have a conversation with your loved one. They may actually share your concerns and have ideas of what they need and want, which is a vital consideration when discussing senior care. Presenting options during your conversation about senior care shows that you’ve given the subject some thought and want to help your loved one make a choice they are comfortable with.

While it can be difficult to discuss life changes with a senior loved one, at Senior Lifestyle we know that the conversation doesn’t have to be a source of strife. With some advance preparation, talking about senior living can be a positive step toward a better quality of life for your loved one. For more information about senior living options in your area or to schedule a tour of one of our senior communities, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

The Heart and Mind Connection

Posted by in Mind and Spirit.

February isn’t just for Valentine’s Day and white sales; the shortest month is filled with holidays, observances, fun little footnotes, and every four years, an extra day! It’s also American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of heart healthy lifestyles and practices, and while we’ve focused on the effects of stress and diet on heart health, studies show that there’s another very important concept that helps hearts stay healthy: thankfulness. Additionally, we can train our brains to help increase this positive impact by turning negative thought processes around and focusing on positive reactions.

The heart/mind connection has been the subject of recent studies showing that the connection goes both ways, meaning that a healthy heart also helps lower the risk of dementia and memory loss. Heart disease and dementia share several risk factors, so protecting your heart also helps to protect your brain health. Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine notes that roughly half of the people battling heart disease develop depression, while people with depression are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease, noting that the connection can be a difficult cycle to break. “People know that their livelihood and life is in danger, and that becomes a major stress factor in the life of that individual, so we start going around and around in circles,” he says.

We know that thankfulness is good for us, but how do we cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”? The heart/mind connection is useful here as well: like many things, gratitude is a learned behavior and we can actually train ourselves to be thankful:

  • Make it a habit

Say “thank you” regularly. Seems easy enough, but it’s something that’s often forgotten. From the person who hands you your morning coffee to the spouse who loads the dishwasher to the co-worker who fixes the jammed printer, opportunities abound to show gratitude. Taking the time to pen (or type an email) thank you note also reinforces gratitude!

  • Be “in the moment”

When we focus on what is happening right now instead of worrying about what should happen next, we are more able to be grateful for the little things. Whether you’re exercising, eating a great meal, or enjoying a conversation, focus on being completely present in order to fully appreciate each experience.

  • Keep track

Create a “thankfulness journal”. Keeping a written reminder of what we’re thankful for not only serves as a great reminder to be positive, it reinforces that positivity by cementing those memories. And of course, there are journal applications you can download to your phone as reminders to keep a written record!

At Senior Lifestyle, we strive to create a culture of gratitude, celebrating both large-scale successes and everyday triumphs with residents, team members and families in our communities. To learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

North Shore Place: An Experience to Savor

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Guests at North Shore Place, Senior Lifestyle’s premier Chicago-area Assisted Living and Memory Care community, often compare its amenities to those of a luxury hotel. Offering the lifestyle residents desire and the personal care they deserve, seamlessly integrated into an exceptional living experience, this beautiful senior community in Northbrook exceeds expectations from the moment visitors step in the door.

Matthew Dunn, Director of Sales and Marketing for North Shore Place, notes, “We provide a level of sophistication and elegance that is simply unmatched. We are particularly proud of our dining program, an experience that is absolutely exceptional from start to finish.” A dynamic dining experience combining luxury and tradition, the Signature style dining room at North Shore Place rivals any Chicago-area dining establishment, with beautifully presented seasonal cuisine prepared by an Executive Chef, as well as specialties prepared tableside for a truly personalized dining experience. Adds Matthew, “Our dining team takes great pride in tailoring meals to each resident’s personal tastes, making every encounter an event to savor.”

Additionally, North Shore Place features well-appointed gathering areas designed for enjoying life with family and friends, common areas that are anything but common. Games tables, quiet conversation groupings and reading nooks abound in the community, providing the perfect atmosphere for any mood. For enjoyable evenings in, residents in this senior community often start with a luxurious signature treatment in the spa, then visit the beautiful in-house theater, always showing the titles they want to see. Residents and guests can also enjoy cards or billiards, or simply indulge in a quiet moment in the courtyard near the serenity of the pond.

At North Shore Place, the focus is on providing a carefree, worry-free lifestyle for residents to enjoy. Says Matthew, “We offer a variety of very spacious apartment styles and floor plans, which feature full kitchens, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer and dryer, and many more amenities. Routine housekeeping provided by an experienced staff provides residents the freedom to fully explore the carefree lifestyle we offer.”

North Shore Place is not only conveniently located near the Chicago Botanical Gardens and the Ravinia Music Festival, but also in close proximity to the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, providing a chance to explore right outside this senior community’s front door. To learn more about the advantages of life at North Shore Place, visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com or call 224-534-6640 to schedule a tour to explore our personalized approach to Assisted Living.

Why choose assisted living?

Posted by in Health and Fitness, Expert Advice, Programs.

If you’re currently looking at moving to a senior community and comparing the benefits of moving to Assisted Living versus staying at home or “aging in place” you may have quite a few questions on the relative merit of each option. At Senior Lifestyle we believe that information is the most valuable tool we can offer prospective residents and families, so we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned from over 30 years in senior living.

When searching for Assisted Living in a senior community, it’s important to know what features are truly beneficial to you and what type of living fits your personal needs. It’s your lifestyle to choose, and we feel strongly that the process should be about just that: your life and your style! What can you expect from a Senior Lifestyle community?

Peace of mind

We call it “Care that’s always there”. Families can rest assured that their loved one will always have assistance available. Assistance with everyday needs is a moment away, and a wearable emergency call pendant or in-room pull-cord can summon help in an emergency. Licensed staff is on hand 24 hours a day to meet your needs.

Social opportunities

We often say that our residents love their apartments but don’t spend much time in them. Activities and events designed specifically for seniors provide each resident with opportunities to make friends every day, whether staying in or going out on the town. We tailor our programming to the needs and wants of residents and help build relationships along the way.

Independence

Our goal at every senior community is to remove worries about housekeeping, yard maintenance, shoveling snow, or any of the other daily chores that can take up your valuable time. Your time is better spent enjoying all that your new lifestyle has to offer! You’ll enjoy dining with friends in an inviting atmosphere that rivals any local eatery, with locally sourced ingredients prepared with care by our Executive Chef.

Help when it’s needed

Assistance with medications, dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living is available as part of your Personalized Service Plan, which can be adjusted as your needs change. We’ll build your plan to fit you and work with you to deliver the care and services you need.

For more information on Assisted Living in a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com. Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to schedule a tour of a senior community in your area and show you a lifestyle that provides all the comforts of home!

History of Mardi Gras

Posted by in Holidays.

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras? While Mardi Gras only enjoys official legal holiday status in Louisiana, our Senior Lifestyle communities find unique ways to celebrate the holiday, so if you’re eating King Cake and sporting purple, gold and green on the Tuesday just prior to Ash Wednesday, you’re certainly not alone! Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday”, is the traditional time of merrymaking that precedes the season of Lent. The tradition of Mardi Gras is celebrated across the United States and around the world with parades, traditional meals and other festivities.

Contemporary observations of Mardi Gras evolved from pre-Lenten celebrations in medieval Europe aimed at enjoying foods that would be forbidden during the 40 days of Lent, with the Mardi Gras celebration taking place before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, rich foods were consumed on Fat Tuesday, removing the temptation of eggs, cheese, meat and other fatty foods from homes before revelers commenced with the different types of fasting required during the Lenten season. The tradition of Mardi Gras in Europe was especially popular in areas with significant Roman Catholic populations.

The tradition of Mardi Gras spread from Europe to the United States, with the earliest known celebration occurring in 1703 in the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile. By the 1730’s, revelers in New Orleans celebrated with lavish dinners and masquerade parties. The earliest recorded parade in New Orleans took place in 1837, and that tradition continues yearly, with different organized groups of revelers called “krewes” creating more fantastic and elaborate floats every year. While Fat Tuesday is the high point of the celebrations, many Mardi Gras celebrations begin the week before the actual date and culminate in a parade.

At Senior Lifestyle, we hope you enjoy knowing the history of your Mardi Gras celebration! To learn more about celebrations and activities at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area or to schedule a tour, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Stress and Heart Health

Posted by in Health and Fitness.

How do you handle stress? Believe it or not, your answer may say a lot about your health in general, and your heart health in particular. Increasingly, studies are finding that while stress itself isn’t detrimental to our health, our ability (or lack of ability) to manage stress can be. Our reactions to everyday stressors like flat tires and long workdays as well as big stress situations like an unexpected illness or the loss of a job form a stress management pattern that affects overall health and wellness. February is Heart Month, and since one of our goals at Senior Lifestyle is helping residents, families and staff maintain healthy hearts as well as overall health, we’re sharing some information we found both interesting and useful in managing stress.

How do our bodies respond to stress?  According to Mayo Clinic, your body is “hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you from predators and other aggressors.” While those threats may be rare today, others have crept in to take their places. Demands on your time in the form of heavy workloads, family obligations and other “everyday” stressors are perceived as threats, starting a cascade effect which begins in your hypothalamus, setting off an alarm system in your body. This alarm then prompts your adrenal glands to release hormones including adrenaline and the “stress hormone” cortisol. According to Mayo Clinic, “adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.”

The stress “fight or flight” system is normally self-limiting; that is, when the stress goes away, the response goes away, but when this cascade effect is prompted by one stressor after another, our bodies’ reactions to stress can go a bit haywire, with the fight-or-flight response always on, causing overexposure to adrenaline and cortisol, putting you at risk for numerous health problems, including digestive problems, headaches, anxiety, depression, heart disease, sleep problems and weight gain.

While stress is here to stay, the key to preventing stress-related heart health issues lies in managing stress efficiently. Learning about what stresses you and how to care for yourself in stressful situations is vital in managing stress. Stress management strategies may include:

  • Taking time to enjoy hobbies
  • Fostering healthy friendships
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga
  • Having a healthy sense of humor
  • Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise
  • Following a healthy sleep schedule
  • Seeking professional counseling if needed

Knowing your personal stressors and how to cope with them is an important part of stress management, and an important part of staying healthy. At Senior Lifestyle, we believe in treating the whole person, a holistic approach which can help ease stresses and promote efficient stress management techniques. For information on a Senior Lifestyle community near you, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

Senior Independence Month

Posted by in Mind and Spirit, Health and Fitness, Holidays.

What does independence mean to you? The answer may well depend on your age and life circumstances. At Senior Lifestyle, one of our goals is helping the seniors in our communities maintain their independence. We do this by creating environments that encourage social interaction, providing innovative programming that fosters creative thinking, and helping seniors find the right fit for their care needs, whether that is Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing.

February is National Senior Independence Month, a perfect time for seniors to celebrate the independence they enjoy and to plan ahead to maintain that independence. Since maintaining independence is a major factor in the quality of life our seniors experience, Senior Lifestyle is sharing some practical tips from Seniors Speak Out, a senior advocacy group, to help seniors maintain independence at home and in the community:

Declutter

An organized environment is great for both body and soul! Clear, well- lit walkways in the home help decrease the risk of trips and falls, while keeping necessary items like cell phones close at hand and readily accessible is vital in the event of an emergency.

Upgrade

A little preventive maintenance can be a lifesaver. Have banisters on stairs and railings on decks checked for looseness. Light up dark hallways and closets with motion-sensor lights to prevent falls. Installing grab bars in the bathroom is a great idea as well, provided they are installed before they’re needed. A little foresight goes a long way!

Get Tech Savvy

That cellphone can literally be a lifesaver. Set up with speed-dial for favorite contacts, it’s a senior’s link to the world. Cellphones can also serve as location devices as well as maps and navigations aids. Most are even equipped with a fairly bright flashlight. Home security systems can protect against theft and property damage, but their value doesn’t end there; motion sensing lights can detect intruders and fend off any unwanted guests, while providing welcome light when you need it.

At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that maintaining independence can be tricky for seniors. Knowing what to hold onto and what to let go of is a tough road to navigate, especially for someone who has lived independently for many years. Giving up a driver’s license or accepting in-home help is a big step for many seniors, and leaving home for a senior community is an even bigger step. When changes need to happen, family members can and should focus on the positive aspects of those changes and the increase in quality of life. Asking for and accepting help when it is needed is a positive step toward staying independent.

National Senior Independence Month is a great time for loved ones to help seniors make changes that help increase quality of life. Do you have questions about the level of care you need or programs available at a Senior Lifestyle community in your area? To learn more about how we help our residents maintain their independence, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.

MRS. C, WORLD TRAVELER

Posted by in Resident Spotlights, Community Spotlights.

Morningside House of Friendship is home to a fascinating group of residents, says Director of Sales and Marketing Amanda Fields. She notes, “The diverse backgrounds and life experiences of our residents never cease to amaze me! They’ve done so much, learned so much and seen so much of the world, I love to hear the stories they share.” Amanda shares that one of the most interesting stories she’s heard in the senior community is that of Mrs. C, the “accidental tourist.”

On Sundays after church, Mrs. C and her husband would often take their two daughters to the airport’s observation deck to watch flights arrive and depart. They enjoyed spending time at the airport and the observation deck quickly became a weekly tradition. Little did they know that their little ritual would be the start of a grand adventure! As Mrs. C recalls, “One day while we were watching the planes we saw a sign about a free trip, so we asked about it.” Airlines in the 1970’s were desperate for passengers, as people were nervous about air travel after several highly publicized high-jacking incidents, so certain airlines offered free travel to promote the ease of flying. According to Mrs. C, the only stipulation on travel was that the family had to book and attend a free bus tour at every destination. She shares, “Hotels, food and bus trips were all free, in addition to the free airfare. The only money we spent was on souvenirs!”

When asked about the destinations her family visited using free travel, Mrs. C recalls trips to Disney in both Florida and California, beautiful trips to Ireland as well as St. Petersburg, and Hungary, where she learned that she does NOT like Hungarian goulash. The family visited Switzerland, Austria (twice) and Germany four times because she fell in love with the Christkindlesmarkt, a Christmas market that is held annually in Nuremberg, Germany. Mrs. C also has fond memories of trips to Florence and Venice, where she reports that “every day at 2 pm our ankles got wet!”

Mrs. C feels sure that her family’s trips encouraged others to fly; after each trip she would tell her friends about all the wonderful experiences she and her husband and daughters had, and the friends would, in turn, plan their own trips, although not for free. Mrs. C says that she feels lucky and blessed to have travelled so extensively, all because she asked about a free trip! She’s proud that her daughters were able to experience so much travel at young ages as well. When asked if she’d change anything or pick different destinations, she laughs and says that “another trip to Germany would be lovely!”

Morningside House of Friendship is proud of the amazing stories residents and staff share, as well as the relationships built as people share life stories. Amanda states that the senior community is stronger through diversity and life experiences, and she enjoys welcoming new residents, knowing their story will be another to remember! For more information on Morningside House of Friendship, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.