Category Archives: Health

Staying Active

No matter your age, staying active and healthy is one of the most important aspects of your life. Keeping an active lifestyle has a variety of physical benefits, like lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke, and improving your strength and balance to prevent injuries. The best part about exercise is that it also has a huge impact on your mental health!

Staying active not only helps improve your mood, but helps improve your ability to think and make decisions. Our Vibrant Life program focuses on a well-rounded approach to healthy living specifically tailored to each of our residents, combining all types of activities for our residents to choose from.

We want to share some of our favorite fitness tips for seniors that can be adapted to all levels of fitness.

  1. Find your niche – The best way to get motivated to exercise is to find an activity you like, and these can be even better if you do them with friends. Set up a weekly walk with your friends to combine a workout with a social activity, or sign up for a class to make new friends!
  2. Find your groove – Cardio activities are great both for your mood and, you guessed it, for your heart. Cardio also helps you feel less fatigued throughout your day. Walking, swimming, aerobics and cycling are all great activities to choose from.
  3. Find your strength – Strength training helps prevent loss of bone mass and improves balance, both very important as you get older. It’s important to listen to your body in these types of exercises, so don’t be afraid to use your own body weight instead of exercise equipment if you have no experience with strength training! Be sure to talk with your doctor or a trainer to find the exercises that are right for you.
  4. Find your flex – Working on your flexibility can help improve your range of motion for daily activities, so it’s important to include some flexibility and balance exercises. Try yoga, stretching exercises or dancing to stay limber!
  5. Find your moment – At the end of the day, just making small changes to get moving will make a big difference. You can pick a farther parking spot to get a few more steps in, go for a hike with family or play with your grandchildren to help get your body moving and healthy. Find the activity you enjoy the most, and go with it!

Our Vibrant Life program throughout our communities helps our residents stay active by offering a wide variety of different activities for all fitness levels. With so many types of activities and exercises to choose from, it’s easy for our residents to stay active while having fun. If you want to learn more about how we help our residents reach their fitness goals through Vibrant Life and our fitness centers, visit our Facebook page or website. We’d love to help you start your health journey!

National Nutrition Month – Healthy eating tips

It seems that every week there is a new diet trend experts are urging us to follow, and with so many options, it’s hard to know what the right way to eat is. We believe there is no one correct approach to nutrition and that everyone’s journey is different, but since March is National Nutrition Month, we’ve compiled our favorite healthy eating tips that will help you make small but significant changes in your lifestyle.

  1. Forget strict diets – A main reason we give up on eating healthy is that we choose to adopt a rigid, boring diet that we get sick of right away. Instead of doing this, focus on eating more healthy foods that you actually enjoy, and mix them into your weekly grocery run.
  2. Eat more fish – Seafood is a great way to add proteins, minerals and vitamins into your diet in an easy way, so it’s important to try to eat fish at least once a week. Oily fish in particular help prevent heart disease, so pick up some salmon, mackerel, trout or tuna!
  3. Cut saturated fats – We’re all familiar with the term “saturated fats,” but do you know where they are found? Try to eat less of foods like cakes, hard cheese and cream, and when choosing cuts of meat, opt for the leaner cuts and slice off any visible fat. Saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease, so it’s important to avoid them as much as you can.
  4. Don’t skip breakfast – Some people think not eating breakfast will lead to losing weight, but skipping this meal only makes you hungrier later in the day. Research shows that people who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight, so use this meal as an opportunity to get your daily serving of fruits!
  5. Don’t go hungry – You might be tempted to think that, by having fewer meals a day, you’ll lose more weight; but this isn’t necessarily true. Going hungry for long stretches of time just causes you to overeat when you finally make it to your next meal. Instead, plan for those moments of hunger by having healthy snacks around, like almonds, granola bars or apples.

At each and every one of our Integral Senior Living communities, we are dedicated to making sure our residents are making healthy choices every day. Our Elevate dining program allows our residents to enjoy tasty, nutritious meals. Visit our Facebook page or website to learn more about all of ISL’s signature programs.

September Is Healthy Aging® Month

September is Healthy Aging® Month and a terrific reminder that maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is important to our quality of life as we age. At ISL, one of our main priorities is making sure our residents are living an active lifestyle because we know keeping the calendar filled with engaging activities can keep everyone feeling and looking great!

If you aren’t practicing good, healthy habits, this month is the perfect time to start! It’s never too late to make positive changes.

Healthy Aging® lists some tips that can help you and your loved ones live a healthier life – both physically and mentally. Here are five to help you get started:

  1. Don’t act your age, or at least what you think your current age should act like.
  2. Be positive in your conversations and your actions every day.
  3. How’s your smile? Research shows people who smile more often are happier!
  4. Start walking, not only for your health, but also to see neighbors and friends. Walking can be a social activity, not just exercise!
  5. Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings if you haven’t already.

Following these simple tips can make improvements in your overall health. Plus, they can be fun!

If you would like to see firsthand what our ISL communities are all about, we’d love to show you around! Please visit our Communities page to find the community closest to you.

We look forward to meeting you and helping everyone live a healthy, active lifestyle!

National Arthritis Awareness Month

 Spring is setting in after a much longer than usual winter. While most people take advantage of the nicer weather to get outside and be active, some experience lingering, unexplained pain. It is easy for anyone to think pain is due to the aging process, but sometimes it can be attributed to arthritis. May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, so we want to take this opportunity to talk a little more about how to protect your joints.

Though we’ve probably all heard of arthritis, many don’t know exactly what it is. Arthritis is not a single disease, but instead refers to joint pain or disease. In fact, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.

Arthritis can cause stiffness, swelling and severe joint pain, and lead to a loss of motion and mobility. Many people also don’t realize just how many Americans live with arthritis. It’s a condition that affects about one in four adults overall, and is the nation’s No. 1 cause of disability. That’s equates to over 54 million men and women.

Though you can’t always prevent arthritis, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of getting painful joints as you age.

  • Exercise and keep a healthy weight – Obesity causes unnecessary stress on joints. You should stay active and make sure you are taking care of your body. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, being just 10 pounds overweight means the force on your knees increases by 30 to 60 pounds when walking.
  • Eat fish – Fish can be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have a number of health benefits, including reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Be mindful of your joints – Work to protect your joints from injury. Lift with your knees and hips when picking up objects; don’t use your back. If you sit for long periods at work or home, make sure that your back, legs and arms are well-supported.
  • See your doctor – As with most diseases and conditions, identifying them early on can be key to getting treatment that can slow the progress of arthritis and preserve mobility.

At ISL communities, we make sure all of our residents are staying active, eating high-quality food, and living fulfilling lives that promote mental and physical health.

 

Don’t Let Allergies Ruin Your Spring

Spring is here! Flowers are blooming, the sun is out, and the snow is gone. People are spending more time outside and enjoying nature. However, the change in seasons also brings along the boogie man of spring: allergies.

Dealing with allergies can be frustrating, but you can take steps to make sure they don’t ruin your spring.

No matter if you’ve been dealing with allergies your whole life or you’re feeling the symptoms for the first time, doing the following can help you get through the season with as little sneezing as possible!

  • Wash your hands frequently, and especially after being outdoors. If you’ve been outside for a long time, taking a shower will help wash any allergens away and prevent you from spreading them around your home.
  • Wear sunglasses when you’re enjoying everything nature has to offer. Sunglasses provide protection against irritants.
  • Make sure you’re checking the pollen levels in your area daily. You should try to plan your outdoor activities for when the pollen count is lowest.
  • It’s not the most fun way to experience the season; but you should avoid opening your windows as much as possible, as it will increase the amount of allergens entering your home or vehicle.
  • Make sure you eat foods that are known to fight inflammation. Foods that can help combat allergy symptoms include apples, flax seed, ginger, leafy greens, walnuts and anything high in vitamin C.
  • Talk to your doctor. There are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that could help bring you some much-needed relief.

At all ISL communities, we emphasize an adventurous lifestyle that gets residents outdoors and enjoying all that life has to offer. Itchy eyes and sore throats shouldn’t stand in the way of a beautiful hike or day at the park!

National Caffeine Awareness Month

Who doesn’t like a nice cup of coffee to start the day or a soda with their lunch? While caffeine can provide an often necessary boost of energy, it’s important to remember that it is a stimulant, not a nutrient, and that too much caffeine is unhealthy.

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month and serves as good reminder to always be careful of how much caffeine you are consuming per day. If you’re on a first-name basis with your local barista, it may be time to rethink your daily intake!

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for America, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, tea and soda.

About 400 milligrams of caffeine a day – or about four cups of coffee – is considered safe for most healthy adults, though you should always keep in mind that caffeine content in beverages varies widely and that caffeine affects each of us differently.

Mixing caffeine with alcohol should always be avoided. Mixing the two may lead to drinking more alcohol and becoming more intoxicated than you realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-related adverse events.

In general, a good rule of thumb is, if you feel jittery or overly restless after drinking a caffeinated beverage, you should stop. Too much caffeine may lead to sleep problems, migraines and other health issues – not to mention coffee breath!

 

Senior Citizens and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is a serious health crisis for our country, and senior citizens are not immune to what’s happening. Every day, more than 90 Americans die of an opioid overdose. This includes overdoses on illegal heroin as well as the abuse of prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl and others.

A recent analysis from Stanford University found that seniors covered by Medicare have “among the highest and most rapidly growing prevalence of opioid use disorder.” The report found that more than six out of every 1,000 Medicare patients are diagnosed with an opioid disorder, compared to one of every 1,000 patients covered by commercial insurance plans.

Unfortunately, abuse of opioids isn’t the only way seniors are contributing to the crisis. Many have become what is known as an “accidental drug dealer.” These are seniors whose prescribed medication is stolen or periodically taken from their homes. Sadly, many times this is done by friends and family members who have access to their medicine cabinets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of people who abuse opioids get them from a friend or relative.

So what can you do about it?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, getting immediate professional help is crucial to not falling victim to further abuse or even to an overdose. Treatment options that are available include:

In order to safeguard any prescription pain reliever you use from theft, we advise you to follow these rules:

  • Store your medications in a secure location like a home lock box.
  • Count your pills regularly so you’ll know if a pill is missing.
  • Never share your medications with anyone.
  • Dispose of unused medications.

There are many drop off locations around the country to securely get rid of unused or expired medications. Visit the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Controlled Substance Public Disposal locator to find the one nearest you.

April Is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

Groups raise awareness of the disease and its treatments 

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease, says the National Parkinson Foundation, and as many as 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60. Parkinson’s strikes 50 percent more men than women. The average age at onset is 60, but some are diagnosed at 40 or younger.

Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. The job of some of these dying neurons is to produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As the disease progresses, these brain neurons produce less and less dopamine, and the person loses movement control.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms vary from person to person, but primary motor signs include the following:

  • Tremor or the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Instability of posture or impaired balance and coordination

Medications and Treatments

Many medications and treatments are available to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but none yet reverse the effects of the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may also suggest lifestyle changes, especially ongoing aerobic exercise. Physical therapy that focuses on balance and stretching may also be effective. Speech-language pathologists may help improve speech difficulties. In later cases, surgical procedures such as deep brain stimulation may be recommended.

What’s New in Parkinson’s Treatments?

Deep brain stimulation. For two decades, deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for Parkinson’s patients has been successful, says the National Parkinson Foundation. Evidence shows that DBS has meaningfully helped tens of thousands of patients worldwide, improving tremor, dyskinesia (involuntary movements), on-off fluctuations (reduced effectiveness of levodopa medication), and other Parkinson’s symptoms. DBS has fallen short in slowing disease progression, including walking, talking, and thinking. Some scientists advocate using guide tubes (straws that DBS leads are fed through to precisely place them into the brain) to deliver growth factors to improve brain function. There is also interest in developing DBS leads connected to pumps that could continuously supply factors to the brain while maintaining the electrical current derived from the DBS device.

The relationship between the gastrointestinal system and Parkinson’s disease. Evidence has been mounting in support of a relationship between the gastrointestinal (GI) system and Parkinson’s disease. Many pathologists and neurologists believe that Parkinson’s may start in the gut. Studies have found that many GI symptoms, such as constipation, occur as prominent and disabling Parkinson’s symptoms. People with Parkinson’s who are experiencing motor fluctuations that cannot be controlled by medication adjustment are advised to ask their doctor to test for H. Pylori (a common type of gut bacteria) infection.

Good News! Recent Study Shows Fewer Seniors Are Developing Dementia

Dementia sufferers are also developing the disease at older ages

For years we’ve heard dire predictions that dementia rates would skyrocket as the population ages, grows increasingly overweight, and develops more diabetes and high blood pressure. But a recent data analysis published in the January 2017 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine has found that the prevalence of dementia is actually decreasing.

The nationally representative report showed that adults 65 and older with dementia dropped from 11.6 percent in the year 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. Those results support another, smaller-scale study released in 2016, which found that dementia rates dropped by 44 percent since the late 1970s through 2008.28

The New York Times reported that the downward trend is “statistically significant and impressive,” according to Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania who was not associated with the study.

Further, in 2000, people received a diagnosis of dementia at an average age of 80.7; in 2012, the average age was 82.4—indicating that the disease is starting at older ages.

Researchers are analyzing the data to determine the causes for the lower dementia rates. Currently, medical experts are looking at two factors: education and heart health. Researchers have found that seniors with more education are less likely to develop dementia than seniors who didn’t finish high school.

Scientists theorize that further education enhances brain development and gives people “cognitive reserve” that allows them to lose cognitive function to aging without developing full-blown dementia, or delays the onset of impairment.

Many doctors believe that the biggest reason for the decline is improved heart and circulatory health. Vascular dementias decreased the most in the study, likely because of better treatments for stroke, heart disease, and blood-vessel disorders. Regular exercise can bolster cardiovascular health at any age, which may help stave off or lessen age-related cognitive decline. Doctors advise people who already have heart health issues or chronic conditions like diabetes to carefully follow their treatment plans to reduce risk of dementia and other disorders.

 

March Is National Nutrition Month

This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign held every March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating practices, and committing to physical activity habits.

The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” which reminds us that each bite counts. Small shifts in our food choices can reap benefits over time. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with gradual changes—one forkful at a time—to create healthier, lasting habits for years to come. Whether you are preparing meals at home or making selections when dining out, Put Your Best Fork Forward helps develop the healthy eating style that’s best for you and your family.

“How much we eat is as important as what we eat, which is why this year’s National Nutrition Month theme inspires us to start with small changes in our eating habits,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristi King.

Key Messages of this Year’s Campaign

  • Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  • Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  • How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences, and health-related needs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.