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Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

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Helping an Older Adult Manage Pre-Move Anxiety

Moving can be tough at any age. For seniors, the emotional toll of moving can cause anxiety about relocating and leaving behind their family home. Sometimes, a spouse has passed away, and the house is closely tied to happy memories of the years spent together there. 

Even if you are looking forward to moving to a senior living community and all the life enrichment opportunities it offers, anxiety may still be a factor. As moving day gets closer, stress and anxiety often increase.

What can you do to help your loved one manage move-related stress and anxiety?

We have a few suggestions to help you and your family through this transition.

Tips to Help a Senior Manage Moving Anxiety

Psychologists call the anxiety a senior feels about moving relocation stress syndrome (RSS). This term is used to describe the unique challenges an older adult faces when they are making a move.

Here are five tips:

  1. Be respectful: As you work through the process of downsizing and relocating, be respectful of the sentimental attachment your loved one might have for certain belongings. While it might look to you like something that should be pitched, forcing them to part with treasured mementos can increase their anxiety. You may need to box a few things up and place them in your garage until you find a place for them in the senior’s new apartment or villa.
  2. Work from a plan: Ask the team at the senior living community if they have floor plans for the new space. This can help you determine what furniture and belongings will fit in each room. At Sunrise communities, for example, we have interactive floor plans that allow you to move furniture around to design their new space.
  3. Find homes for treasures: It might also help to find new homes for a senior’s cherished items within the family or with a close friend. Think about those who are close to your family member’s heart and what items they might enjoy receiving.
  4. Make the new space familiar: Families are often tempted to buy new furniture and décor for a loved one who is making a transition. But for the senior, sticking with familiar things is important during this time when everything is changing. Having their favorite chair to curl up in next to their old, familiar end table and lamp can make the new space feel like home faster.  
  5. Sense of humor: Finally, head into this process knowing things will go wrong along the way no matter how carefully you prepare. Make a pact to try to laugh off the small inconveniences and work together to solve the bigger ones. While the days might be quite hectic, remind yourself it is an opportunity to spend meaningful family time together.

Making a Smooth Transition

We know downsizing can be daunting. That’s why we created this colorful graphic that highlights the dos and don’ts of helping a senior loved one downsize in preparation for a move to a senior living community.

The Quick Buy Program by Moving Station might be another helpful tool for you. Moving Station is a Sunrise partner that assists seniors with selling a home and offers a comfortable transition, allowing you to settle into your new lifestyle with ease.

Staging Tips to Prepare a House for Sale

If you are helping a senior loved one prepare for a move to an assisted living community, getting their house ready to sell is probably on your “to do” list. Presenting their home well to prospective buyers can help them get the best possible return on their investment.

We understand how important a successful home sale is to most seniors whether they’re just downsizing or planning a move to a senior living community. For many older adults, their house is their largest asset, and the proceeds from its sale can be used to finance their move to their next home.

What can you do to stage your family member’s home for a quick and successful sale?

Here are a few suggestions.

5 Tips for Staging a Home for a Profitable Sale

  1. Curb appeal: First impressions can make or break the sale of a home. Prospective buyers may decide at a glance whether or not they even want to look inside, so it’s crucial that the house has strong curb appeal. You can give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a welcoming color, add an attractive wreath and a new doormat, and trim the shrubs. If the weather is warm, put a few pots of flowers on the front porch. When you are finished, ask several trusted friends to give you an honest opinion on how inviting the home looks from the curb.
  2. Cut the clutter: If you or loved one is moving from a home they have lived in for many years, there is probably a considerable amount of clutter. Your goal should be to make rooms, cupboards, closets, and other storage spaces look as spacious as possible. You may want to rent a storage unit and move extra items while you are deciding what to give away, sell, or donate to charity. 
  3. Clean and fresh: A home that looks and smells clean is vital when it comes to selling. Clean every room from top to bottom, including ceiling fans, windows, woodwork, walls, and floors. Have rugs and drapes laundered or dry cleaned. In some cases, a fresh coat of neutral paint may be just what you need to brighten up the house.
  4. Attend to repairs: A leaky bathroom faucet or a toilet that runs can make buyers wonder how well the home has been maintained. Walk through the house and make a list of all repairs that need to be completed, big or small. Then create a plan for completing them before the house is listed.
  5. Good lighting: It’s important to create an inviting interior with good lighting. If the house lacks natural light, you can strategically place floor lights and table lamps in darker areas of the home. It also helps to open curtains and blinds to let in as much sunshine as possible.

Assistance with Selling your Home

If you’re ready to move but don’t want to deal with the process of selling your home, the Quick Buy Program by Moving Station might be for you. Moving Station is a Sunrise partner that assists seniors with selling a home and offers a comfortable transition, allowing you to settle into your new lifestyle with ease.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Do you seem to develop a case of the “winter blues” that won’t go away until spring arrives each year? If so, it might be seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and more than just a post-holiday slump. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 experience depression, and symptoms may worsen seasonally if you have SAD, especially for those who live farther north.

While less sunlight combined with spending more time indoors can increase feelings of sadness in the wintertime, you should be on the lookout for recurrent episodes of depression in late fall and winter.

Recognizing the Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If mood changes last for two or more weeks, it might be time to seek help. In addition to sadness, caregivers should be aware of the following signs of SAD in themselves or a loved one:

  • Irritability, anxiety, and agitation
  • Loss of energy and excessive fatigue
  • Lack of interest in socializing with others
  • Change in sleep pattern—sleeping too much or too little
  • Unintended weight loss or weight gain
  • Change in appetite, including cravings for carbohydrates

Exhibiting more than one or two of these symptoms is something that should likely be discussed with a physician. SAD often requires medical intervention.

Treating Seasonal Blues and Cabin Fever

If you're feeling a little blue this winter, there are steps you can take that might help lift your spirits and kick cabin fever.

  • Go outside: A lack of exposure to sunlight can disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycle. One way to feel better is to bundle up, put on skid-free boots, and head outdoors. Soaking up natural light can boost mood and reset your body clock.
  • Increase physical activity: Staying physically active and fit can help beat the blues any time of year. Low-impact exercises like walking, chair yoga, and swimming are all options to explore.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Since the blues may be the result of vitamin deficiencies, a well-rounded diet may improve symptoms. Leafy greens, berries, and lean protein can all help.

  • Lighten up: Another idea is to brighten up the rooms where you and your loved one spend the most time during the winter. Open the blinds and curtains and turn on all the lights. Green plants also help.
  • Light therapy: Our final tip is to use a “light box” for 30 to 45 minutes a day. You should discuss this with your primary care physician before beginning. These devices emit non-damaging UV rays that mimic natural sunlight and can help regulate brain chemicals that often become unbalanced during the winter.

At Sunrise, residents have the opportunity to engage in life-enriching activities every day. We invite you to visit us at your convenience to learn more! 

Make Winter Storm Preparedness a Priority

With frigid temperatures and snow storms expected to last throughout this winter, many seniors and their families might be wary of what the rest of this season has in store for us. Creating an emergency storm plan is a step you can take to help relieve anxiety while also staying safe.

With frigid temperatures and snow storms expected to last throughout this winter, many seniors and their families might be wary of what the rest of this season has in store for us. Creating an emergency storm plan is a step you can take to help relieve anxiety while also staying safe.

What does emergency planning for a senior require?

Here are a few tips shared by the disaster preparedness experts at the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Winter Storm Safety Planning Checklist

  • Have an emergency supply of food and water, including a three- to five-day supply of water and non-perishable food items. Also include a manual can opener, silverware, and paper products.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries should be safely stored in easily accessible locations on every level of your residence.
  • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio with extra batteries.
  • Pack a whistle to use to alert first responders that help is needed.
  • Prepare a medical kit with a seven-day supply of all medications and medical supplies, such as syringes and diabetes testing strips.
  • Fully charged cell phone and the ability to charge it if power is lost.
  • Access to a small amount of cash on hand in the house.
  • Warm clothes, blankets, coats, mittens, hats, and boots easily accessible and remember to dress in layers to stay warm if the power goes out.
  • Finally, don’t overlook any furry or feathered companions and make sure your emergency storm kit contains enough food, water, and supplies for pets.

Check out this FEMA guide for seniors: Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for Older Adults. It provides insight on tailoring your emergency plan for your individual needs, ranging from how to decide whether or not to evacuate to tips for creating a family communication plan.

Winter Respite at Sunrise Senior Living Communities

Sunrise communities have emergency supplies and plans in place to withstand winter storms while still providing optimal care for our residents.

If you’re looking for support during the winter months, a short-term respite stay at a Sunrise community might be the ideal solution. Respite guests enjoy the same services and amenities as long-term residents.

From a wide variety of life enrichment activities to well-balanced meals, a short-term stay to ride out the winter can be a welcome break for your loved one. And, you can gain peace of mind knowing your family member is in good hands with us.

Respiratory Health Awareness for Seniors and...

Respiratory therapists play a crucial role in helping older adults enjoy the best quality of life possible. But not everyone understands what these dedicated healthcare professionals do or how hard they work to provide care for older adults.

In honor of January being National Respiratory Care Month, we are working to raise awareness about this profession.

How Do Respiratory Therapists Help Seniors?

Respiratory therapists treat people that have trouble breathing due to illnesses affecting the cardiopulmonary system. They may also provide emergency care for incidents such as heart attacks or strokes.

While they work with people of all ages, many illnesses common among older adults require the care of a respiratory therapist. These include the following:

  • Lung cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Emphysema
  • Influenza
  • Pneumonia
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma and chronic bronchitis
  • Pleural mesothelioma (rare cancer caused by asbestos)

You can find respiratory therapists working in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient therapy clinic
  • Nursing home
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Physician offices
  • Sleep clinics

How are Respiratory Therapists Trained?

If you are a family caregiver for someone with a respiratory-related illness or a student contemplating a career in respiratory therapy, here’s what you should know.

Respiratory therapists fall into one of two categories:

  • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT): Students who graduate from a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program in respiratory therapy from an accredited college can earn a CRT. After graduation, they must pass a national written examination.
  • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT): The highest level of accreditation for a respiratory therapist is an RRT credential. After a student passes the national written exam, they can take a national voluntary clinical simulation examination. If they complete it successfully, they earn their RRT.

For those who are interested, the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) maintains a list of accredited respiratory care programs across the country.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

While some health problems that require the intervention of a respiratory therapist can’t be prevented, others can. You can keep your lungs healthy in a variety of ways, such as not smoking and avoiding radon gas.

Two preventative measures that can also help are maintaining an antioxidant-rich diet and engaging in regular exercise. Both are a part of everyday life at our Sunrise communities.

The best way to learn more is to visit one of our communities in person! Contact us today to schedule a private visit.

Does Isolation Increase a Senior's Risk for a...

Healthcare professionals who work with older adults have long believed that isolated seniors experience medical issues at a far greater rate than their more engaged peers. Now, there is evidence to support these views. 

Research shows isolation is a serious health risk for older adults, and the problem is growing, with an increasing number of Americans experiencing isolation regularly. The good news is research consistently shows that feeling connected and involved benefits both mental and physical health—and there are several ways to get started. 

Health Conditions More Common Among Isolated Seniors

When a senior is isolated, they are more likely to experience:

  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac-related illnesses
  • Mobility issues and greater incidence of falls
  • Substance abuse (both alcohol and drugs)

Older adults who are isolated are also at increased risk for becoming victims of fraud and scams.

What is Isolation?                             

If you are an adult child or family caregiver, it’s important to understand the difference between being lonely and being isolated. While loneliness can create health risks for seniors, isolation occurs when a person lacks opportunities to interact with people and is linked to early mortality.

Scientists from McMaster University explained the difference as, “a person can be socially isolated but not feel lonely, whereas an individual with a seemingly large social network can still experience loneliness.”

What Causes Isolation, and How Can You Overcome It?

Here are a few of the most common causes a senior may become isolated, as well as tips for handling each situation:

     1. Grief and loss 

The loss of a spouse or long-term partner puts seniors at high risk for both loneliness and isolation. Seniors often find it difficult to go from being part of a couple to being alone. 

Helping them connect with a support group of widows and widowers is one of the best ways to overcome this challenge. Engaging with peers who understand and share their struggles—and whom they may enjoy socializing with—could provide them with a renewed sense of confidence and desire to reconnect with their community.

     2. Loss of friends

As we grow older, our group of friends often shrinks. Friends move away to be closer to their families, and retirement frequently means the loss of work friends. 

Helping an older adult make new friends and encouraging them to get involved in community activities is vital to overcoming isolation. Volunteer work is one idea to consider.

     3. Lack of transportation

Another common reason older adults become isolated is a lack of affordable transportation. If your loved one has given up driving, they may be struggling to find options for getting around town. 

The good news is that there are more choices today than ever before. Companies like Lyft and uberASSIST make it quick and easy to secure a ride to attend an event or run errands. You can also call your local Agency on Aging to ask for a list of reliable transportation providers.

Live an Active, Engaged Life at Sunrise

At Sunrise, we make it easy to live an active and engaged life. From socializing over a delicious meal in our dining room to attending wellness programs and activities, there are opportunities to Live With Purpose every day.

Winter Nutrition Challenge for Seniors

The holidays are a fun and festive time of year. But that probably made it tough to resist the calorie-laden treats that seemed to pop up everywhere.

If you indulged a bit too much, you might find yourself feeling a little sluggish in the new year. All of us can benefit from a well-balanced diet, but seniors need to be especially aware of how food choices impact everyday life.                  

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) says the key is a diet that includes a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. This can help with disease prevention and overall quality of life.

Aging Well and a Healthy Diet

Why is a healthy diet such an important part of aging well?

A well-balanced diet can impact your life and health in many ways. The NCOA reports that there are many benefits of eating well:

  • Better overall health and greater independence
  • Less money spent on medication
  • Fewer trips to your primary care doctor
  • More energy and stamina

5 Tips to Improved Your Nutrition in 2018

Here are five ways to get your nutrition on a healthier track in the new year:

1.  Eat filling foods

Feeling hungry can be one of the greatest challenges to sticking with a healthy diet. But foods with high fiber content can help you feel fuller faster and stay full longer.

Try to eat more high-fiber foods including:

  • Fruits: Strawberries, raspberries, pears, and apples
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, peas, artichokes, and leafy greens
  • Grains: Whole-grain pasta, barley, and oat bran
  • Legumes & nuts: Almonds, walnuts, black beans and lentils

2.  Sit down and eat slowly

Mindfulness is important in many areas of life, including mealtime. Sitting down to eat—not eating standing up over the kitchen sink—can help you make better nutrition choices. It can also help you avoid overeating.

Paying attention to meal presentation is also helpful. Serving food on pretty dinnerware and setting an attractive table can make mealtime more inviting.

3.  Serving size awareness

Nutrition labels can be deceptive if you aren’t careful. While you might take time to read the fat, sodium, and sugar content, it’s easy to overlook the serving size. And many times, those serving sizes aren’t very realistic.

For example, if you are enjoying a dish of ice cream, the serving size might be a half cup. Is that the amount you really eat? Pay close attention to labels to better manage portions.

4.  Learn more about aging and nutrition

Knowledge is power when it comes to senior nutrition. One resource that can help seniors and family caregivers plan healthy meals is USDA’s MyPlate

This tool is designed to help you visualize each meal and give you a better idea of what types of food should fill each section of the plate. Sunrise partners with MyPlate to promote the USDA's Dietary Guidelines and help seniors and their families make healthy food choices.

5.  Healthy nutrition on a budget

We know that eating well sometimes means spending more at the grocery store. For older adults on a fixed income, that can take a real bite out of the monthly budget. But there are options that can help seniors bridge the gap,including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You can also call your local Agency on Aging for a list of community-based programs.   

Nutrition at Sunrise Senior Living

The dining program at Sunrise communities is an important part of residents’ overall wellness. An in-house chef at each community helps to ensure meals are both delicious and nutritious.

We extend an open invitation to older adults considering a move to senior living to join us for a tour and a meal. Contact a Sunrise community near you to schedule a time!

Fear Can Cause Seniors to Hide Symptoms of...

Seniors sometimes worry that Alzheimer’s disease might be causing the challenges and changes they or their spouse are experiencing. Almost every older adult knows someone with this diagnosis. 

Many seniors fear that if they share these concerns with adult children or a physician, they will be forced to make changes they aren’t ready to make. As a result, they may go to great lengths to hide what they believe are the symptoms of the disease. 

Recognizing the Signs a Senior Might be Struggling with Mental Health Changes

1. Covering up or talking over their partner
If one spouse is trying to cover for another’s mental health changes, they may begin speaking for the partner who is struggling. It might start with finishing sentences or reminding them of a name. Older couples often do that for one another, but it becomes more aggressive if they suspect dementia. 

2. Making excuses to cover forgetfulness
Seniors who recognize they are becoming more than a little forgetful will try to cover up for their declining memory. They might make excuses such as they’re having a “senior moment” or they’re confused because they “didn’t sleep well” the night before. While an occasional lapse in memory happens to all of us, if a pattern seems to be developing, it might be a sign something isn’t right.

3. Withdrawal from hobbies and interests
When an older adult knows something is wrong and wants to keep others from realizing it too, they might stick closer to home. It isn’t uncommon for them to withdraw from favorite pastimes and hobbies. The same holds true if they are fearful for a spouse. So if you notice your parent(s)’ social life has dwindled, it may be time to ask a few questions about why.

4. “Everything is fine"
Dementia can impact everyday life in a variety of ways. It can make it more difficult to manage tasks such as meal planning, grocery shopping, paying bills, and managing the checkbook. Household chores can also go completely overlooked. Assisted living communities often receive worried phone calls from adult children home for the holidays. Their  loved one has been telling them “everything is fine” and they “don’t need anything.” Then, the holiday visit suggests otherwise.

5. Getting lost while driving
Difficulty driving is an early sign of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes the senior will be driving along just fine, then suddenly forget where they are going. Other times, they will get lost on a road they’ve driven for years. This is because location awareness relies on short-term memory, which is usually impacted early with Alzheimer’s.

Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living

If you suspect an older adult in your life may be struggling with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, you might need help figuring out the best way to talk with them. We created Having the Important Conversations to support you in those efforts. This resource covers everything from showing empathy to understanding senior living lingo.

Healthy 2018 Resolutions for Caregivers

Caring for a senior while juggling all of the other responsibilities in your life can be stressful. It’s important to carve out a little bit of time for self-care so you can best care for your loved one.

A poll conducted by Gallup Industries found that the injuries and illnesses most common among family caregivers are:

  • Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure
  • Stomachaches and digestive problems
  • Chronic pain in the neck, back, and knees
  • Migraines and recurring headaches
  • Unintended weight gain or loss

Do any of these sound familiar?

If they do, it’s probably time for you to make a few resolutions for living healthier in 2018.

Be a Healthier Caregiver in 2018

We hope these suggestions can help you start 2018 on a healthier note:

1. Set personal goals: Begin by writing down the three things that are most important to you in life. Be honest! Then, take a hard look at which of your daily activities are taking time away from what is most important to you.

Many of us have a difficult time saying “no.” We agree to make a casserole for a church potluck we can’t attend. Or we bake five dozen cookies for a school fundraiser. These are noble gestures, but also ones that make life even more difficult for a family caregiver. Make 2018 the year you scale back, even slightly, on things that aren’t high priorities.

2. Care for the caregiver: For most caregivers, taking time for self-care is difficult to do. But staying healthy is really the only way to ensure you are able to continue caring for those you love most.

Set an exercise goal of 30 minutes three to four times a week. Split it up in to 15-minute increments to make it easier to fit into your schedule. You’ll still get the same health benefits. Walking, yoga, swimming, and Pilates can each nurture the body, mind, and spirit.

Equally important is to commit to eating a healthy diet and to prepare meals a week ahead of time. You’ll find you have more energy and feel less stressed if you do. Designate a few hours on the weekend to prepare for the week ahead.

3. Ask for help: Family caregivers often feel duty-bound to care for their loved one all on their own. Many feel too guilty to ask for help or accept it when it is offered.

Make 2018 the year you recognize that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. In the year ahead accept offers of help and suggest specific things that people can do to help out.  

If you don’t have family members close by to pitch in, contact your local senior services or  Area Agency on Aging. They may be able to help you get support with driving to appointments as well as medication and grocery delivery. Or, find a senior living community nearby that offers short-term respite care services.

Sunrise Senior Living Healthy Caregiver Guide

The Sunrise Senior Living website is full of advice and guidance on how to care for yourself while you are busy caring for a loved one. It covers everything from connecting with an online support group to using journaling to manage stress.

Take these tips into the new year to become a happier, healthier you!

Can a Vitamin Deficiency Lead to Insomnia in...

Getting a good night’s rest can be difficult for many seniors. In fact, insomnia is reaching the point where sleep experts say it presents a serious health crisis in our country. The lack of quality sleep has a variety of causes, including sleep apnea, stress, irregular heartbeat, and lifestyle. 

We know our diets are important to our overall health, and sleep is no exception. Shortened or low-quality sleep can wreak havoc on your goal of healthy eating. That’s because it increases the body’s appetite for comfort foods, which are high in fat and carbohydrates.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania revealed that the key to a good night’s sleep might lie in eating nutrient-rich foods—ironically, something insomnia makes you less likely to do.

Can a Nutrient-Rich Diet Help Seniors Sleep Better?

 A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research reveals our bodies need amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to help us fall and stay asleep. When our diet lacks variety or contains a lot of processed foods, we miss out on some of those beneficial nutrients.

But when we eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality meat, we give our body the best chance of falling asleep naturally.  The study, which was conducted at The Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania, uncovered interesting information on the potential link between sleep duration and nutrition.

Here are a few of their findings:

  • Lauric acid: A diet rich in lauric acid helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy. Research shows people who have a healthy cardiovascular system enjoy a better night’s sleep. Foods containing lauric acid include milk, cheddar cheese, and coconut oil.
  • Lycopene: Researchers found that people who consume too little lycopene have shorter sleep durations. Dried basil and parsley are two herbs that contain lycopene and can be easily incorporated into your cooking. Other good sources of lycopene are tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, and asparagus.
  • Selenium: Difficulty falling asleep is associated with reduced selenium intake. Selenium is found in meats, seafood, dairy products, grains, and nuts.
  • Vitamin C: Many adults say vitamin C helps them sleep better, and foods high in vitamin C are easily added to your diet. Examples include berries, oranges, bell pepper, papaya, kale, parsley, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Balanced Diet at Sunrise Senior Living

The Signature Dining Program at Sunrise communities takes the guesswork out of what to eat to maintain a healthy diet. Each of our meals is well-balanced and designed to meet the MyPlate recommendations for older adults.

Sound tempting? Then join us for lunch or dinner at your convenience. It’s one of the best ways to see what life at Sunrise is really like!

Do Creative Activities Promote Healthy Aging?

We all know that a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and a generally healthy lifestyle promote successful aging. What isn’t as well-known is how the creative arts contribute to better overall health, especially as we age. Activities as diverse as music, dance, painting, quilting, singing, poetry-writing, and storytelling add meaning, joy, and a vibrant sense of wellbeing to the lives of older people.

Creativity and Better Health

A study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts in conjunction with The George Washington University examined the impact creative arts can have on the health and wellness of older adults. The results were surprising, even for those who have long believed art improves quality of life.

After just one year a majority of participants showed areas of stabilization and improved health. This was evidenced by:

  • Fewer doctor's visits
  • Reduced number of falls
  • Lower use of prescription medication
  • Some even had improved immune system function

Psychology Today published a comprehensive review of more than 100 studies about the benefits of creativity. The results were undeniable: people who participate in any type of creative arts experience health benefits, including:

  • Lower incidences of depression
  • Greater feelings of joy
  • More positive outlook on life

Finding Meaning and Purpose through Creative Arts

For those who spent their entire adult lives busy with careers and raising a family, retirement can suddenly leave them feeling directionless. Creative hobbies can help fill the gap and give older adults a sense of purpose.

Creating for the benefit of others can be especially rewarding. Some older adults might enjoy learning how to knit and join a volunteer group that knits blankets for hospitalized children.

Even the simplest creative projects can bring pleasure and improve health.

There are a variety of inexpensive creative projects for people of all skill levels! A few examples are:

  • Adult coloring books: These are popular among people of all ages. They are beneficial for improving focus and concentration, and can be particularly effective for people who aren't comfortable with more expressive forms of art. Coloring pages are also easily accessible by simply printing from online sites, Trail of Colors or Tried and True Blue.
  • Stamping projects: You can buy inexpensive stamping supplies or a stamping kit at a dollar store or craft store. Use this to create notecards, greeting cards, or gift tags for packages.
  • Floral arranging: Thanks to the grocery store, floral arrangements are cheaper than ever to create. You and your loved one can spend time creating a new centerpiece each week. YouTube is full of “how-to” videos that will help you learn the basics for free.

Live an Enriching Life at Sunrise

At Sunrise communities, we know the benefits of living an artful life. It’s a core component of our Live With Purpose program. Residents have opportunities to write poetry, enjoy a watercolor class, visit a local art museum, explore creative writing, and so much more!

Call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!

Are the Holidays a Good Time to Visit Assisted...

The holiday season is a time when many families travel home to spend time with loved ones. For some, it is one of the few in-person visits they make all year. And it isn’t uncommon for adult children to be surprised at the changes they find in their aging parents. 

Even those adult children who frequently talk with their loved one by phone are sometimes caught off guard. This can be because older family members aren’t completely open and honest about how well they are—or aren’t—managing on their own.

Discovering a loved one is really struggling can create a rushed timeline to begin the search for assisted living.

If you are reluctant to tour assisted living communities on a loved one’s behalf when you’re home for the holidays, know that it’s a wonderful time to explore these communities.

Holiday Visits to Assisted Living Communities

Here are just a few reasons to visit assisted living communities during the holidays:

  • Family can participate: Because more family members are typically in town during the holidays, it is a good time for siblings to talk with one another and a parent about the future. Visiting senior living communities in person is one of the most important ways to make sure you are making an informed decision.
  • Festivities abound: While senior living communities always have a multitude of events and activities taking place, there is no time of year when that is truer than the holiday season. School choirs conduct concerts and singalongs, church youth groups host game nights and parties, and a festive spirit is evident throughout.
  • Open house events: Because assisted living communities know family members will be in town over the holidays, they make an extra effort to host open houses during the season. These events give seniors and their loved ones an opportunity to visit and take part in the fun without feeling pressured to make a quick decision about moving.
  • Beat the January rush: The month of January is one of the busiest of the year for most senior living organizations. By visiting communities in December you get a head start and you beat the rush. The staff will likely have more time to spend answering your questions.

Contact Sunrise to Schedule Your Visit

Contact us today to schedule your family’s private tour of a Sunrise community near you or to request an event calendar to see what programs and activities are available that you might like to join. Our door is always open!

Smartphone Safety for Seniors

A cell phone can make a great holiday gift for an older adult. While many seniors have one, they often purchase these devices with few features. These traditional phones may have keys that are too small for hands with arthritis to manage, or screens that are difficult on older eyes.

Upgrading to a smartphone—that can connect to the internet and download apps—can make everyday life easier. But it can also put a senior at risk for problems like text messaging scams and identity theft.

Here are a few things to consider before you buy a smartphone for a senior this holiday season.

Senior-Friendly Smartphones

If you aren’t sure what type of smartphone to purchase, here are two to consider:

  • Apple iPhone: You don’t need the latest version of the iPhone to make this a good choice for a senior. Even older models will work. Most have large screens (5.5 inches on the iPhone 7) that are kinder on older eyes. And Apple devices are among the easiest tech products to master.
  • Jitterbug Smart: This smartphone was developed specifically for seniors. A few of its many senior-friendly features include: larger text and icons, an easy, list-style menu, voice command typing, email access, camera, and compatibility with hearing aids. It also has a downloadable 5Star Urgent Response app that can be used to call for help in case of emergency.

Finally, remember to take the monthly service plan fee into consideration before you purchase a smartphone.

Smartphone Safety Issues to Review with Seniors

Don’t forget to review potential safety concerns with your loved one after they open their holiday gift. Some might not be aware of the security risks smartphones can present, such as:

  • Text message scams: Scammers can be very sneaky when it comes to text messaging. Remind your loved one not to open or respond to text messages from phone numbers they don’t recognize. Additionally, they shouldn’t respond to messages telling them they’ve won a sweepstakes prize or contest they never entered. These are usually scams.
  • Calls from fraudsters: Older adults often don’t realize that they can receive the same annoying—and often fraudulent—calls on their cell phone as on a landline. So the same senior safety principles apply to cell phones too.
  • Use a password: Just as you would on a computer, make sure access to a smartphone is restricted by a strong password. Don’t use the senior’s birthday or dog’s name. Instead, create a password that the senior can remember which contains letters, numbers, and characters. Some newer phones have finger print technology that protects the user.
  • Don’t store personal information: While it might be convenient to store information like a social security number or a health insurance ID number in a note on a smartphone, discourage your senior from doing so. This information could end up in the wrong hands if their phone is lost or stolen. It will put them at higher risk for identity theft.
  • Caution with apps: While apps to store medical information can be useful and convenient, it’s important for seniors to know to download only those from a credible company. When in doubt about an app’s authenticity, encourage them to ask for your help.

At Sunrise, our residents enjoy the benefits of technology, just like younger generations. After all, email, online photo-sharing, and browsing the Internet are all part of keeping up with loved ones and with the world.

Our Live With Learning program encourages safe smartphone and Internet use while helping seniors explore technology.

We’d like to extend an invitation to you to visit Sunrise if your loved one is considering a move to senior living. Call the community nearest you to set up a time!

How Does a Move to a Senior Living Community... Older adults are retiring later in life than ever before. While this is sometimes due to financial needs, a full third of seniors say they like their job and plan to keep working as long as possible. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, an estimated 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are still working. 

The activity and engagement that a happy career provides to older workers may help them live longer. We now know that isolation is a health risk for seniors and may contribute to a variety of medical issues ranging from obesity to depression. 

What else can you do to age well if you are close to or older than the traditional retirement age?

Consider moving to a senior living community. Thriving communities can help older adults improve their quality of life in many ways.

Quality of Life & Senior Living Communities

Here are a few benefits senior living communities can provide:

1. Healthy lifestyle 

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help lower your odds for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. From nutritious dining programs to wellness programs and medication management support, senior living communities make adopting a healthy lifestyle much easier to do.

2. Peace of mind

Stress isn’t good for anyone at any age. It can increase blood pressure and lower the body’s immunity. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have friends nearby, as well as the care and services needed now and in the future, can help an older adult relax and enjoy life.

3. Promote brain health

Just as your body needs to work out, so too does your brain. Taking classes, engaging in current events, and attending lectures are part of daily life at a senior living community. And these are all activities that give your brain health a boost.

4. Peers to relate to nearby

As we age, it isn’t uncommon for our social circle to become smaller. Friends may move away to be nearer to their adult children or relocate to a warmer climate. In a senior living community, however, you are surrounded by peers who are likely sharing similar experiences in life. Having a peer group to socialize and commiserate with is another key to successful aging.

5. Volunteer opportunities & creative arts

Residents of the Blue Zones, those regions of the world where people live the longest and are the happiest, have many things in common. Among them is an older population with a sense of purpose. In senior living communities, there are many opportunities for fulfillment. Some find it in the volunteer projects that are abundant in most communities. Others find it in the creative arts classes that take place every day. Finding purpose can add years to your life.

Live With Purpose at Sunrise Senior Living

Among our Signature programs is Live With Purpose, which encourages residents, team members, family members and even the broader community to engage in a very purposeful way. This program allows our residents to enjoy, express, learn, and grow while fostering a greater sense of community and meaning. It is a method of helping to ensure every resident has an opportunity to live their best life.

Want to see Live With Purpose in action? Check out these videos  to see our residents, team members, families, and volunteers enjoying everyday life at Sunrise.

5 Sunrise Communities Recognized with 2017...

We are thrilled to announce that an additional five Sunrise communities earned the 2017 Silver—Achievement in Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL)!

The communities are:

The National Silver Quality Award is the second of three distinctions possible through the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program, which recognizes long-term and post-acute care communities across the United States that have demonstrated their dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care. These communities will be recognized at the 2018 AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention.

They join 11 Sunrise communities that earned National Silver Quality Awards earlier this year and five that earned Silver Quality Awards in 2016, as well as 181 Sunrise communities that have been recognized with Bronze Quality Awards over the last two years—the most of any single assisted living provider. See our National Quality Award webpage for the full list.

As part of the Sunrise Quality Promise, each of our communities is dedicated to providing high-quality care in a safe, comforting environment. We are honored to serve so many seniors and their families each day.

Congratulations to these five communities!

Tips to Stick to a Heart-Healthy Diet during...

This time of year includes gatherings of friends and family, gift-giving, and holiday traditions. But it can also bring some challenges. Holiday parties are full of sugary treats, fried appetizers, high-sodium snacks, and festive cocktails. 

For seniors trying to limit sodium intake and control high blood pressure, the holidays can be a real challenge. Indulging too much can put your health at risk.

So how can you enjoy the season’s festivities while sticking to a heart-healthy diet?

We have a few suggestions we hope are useful.

Tips to Enjoy a Heart-Smart Holiday Season

  1. Plan ahead: Look at your schedule for the entire week on Sunday evening and thoughtfully plan your meals. If you have a holiday potluck for lunch one day, for example, try to plan extra healthy meals for breakfast and dinner that day. If you will be dining out at a local restaurant with friends one night, review the menu online at home. Most restaurants list ingredients, fat, sodium, and calorie counts for their entrées.
  2. Exercise every day: The hustle and bustle of the holidays might make this seem tough to do, but exercising during a time you might be tempted to overindulge is too important to skip. Most fitness experts recommend doing it first thing in the morning so that you don’t make up an excuse for skipping your workout later in the day.
  3. Drink plenty of water: High blood pressure and alcohol are not a good mix. The American Heart Association recommends men limit drinks to two per day and women to one. Sodium-heavy sodas aren’t any better. Sparkling water or water with fruit are the best festive drinks for holiday parties.
  4. Watch the appetizers: Holiday partygoers often think that if they skip dessert and limit themselves to appetizers, they are making a heart-smart decision. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. Appetizers can be as high as or higher than desserts in fat, calories and sodium. In general, you should try to avoid cheese, mixed drinks, mulled wines, eggnog, fried foods, and anything with dips, sauce, or gravy.
  5. Eat at home first: The advice we’ve all heard from health experts many times holds true no matter what the celebration. You lower your risk of overindulging if you eat a healthy meal before you head out to a party. When you feel full, you will be less likely to indulge in tasty-looking treats.
  6. Monitor your blood pressure: Another way to ensure you stick with a healthy routine is to commit to monitoring and documenting your blood pressure. Talk with your doctor for advice about how many times a week you should take your blood pressure during the holidays. Knowing your numbers can help you stay on track with your nutrition and exercise goals.

Heart-Smart Diet at Sunrise Senior Living

We know that food choices are an important part of aging well. The Sunrise dining program makes it easy for residents to eat healthy without sacrificing taste!

Talking With Siblings About an Older Parent's...

Caring for your loved one may at times be a complex task, and their needs can change quickly. But long-distance siblings and non-caregiving family members might not be aware of this, and the distance can prevent them from understanding just how challenging caregiving is on a daily basis.

The holidays are a good time to talk about a loved one’s care and to create a plan for the future. Holding a family meeting when everyone is in town is a great way to get started. It can provide the senior and other family decision-makers with an opportunity to work together.

Talking about Assisted Living during the Holidays

Here are a few tips to help your family meeting go more smoothly.

  • Designate a facilitator: Select someone who can remain calm and unbiased to act as a facilitator for the meeting. They can  help keep the discussion on track and make sure everyone has a voice in the process. Sometimes a neutral party, like an elder care meditator or a geriatric care manager, can help ensure a good outcome.
  • Encourage loved ones to be objective: A common challenge during these meetings is getting everyone to be objective about the senior’s health and physical condition. This is especially difficult for those who live far away or aren’t actively involved in the older adult’s daily life. It is easier for them to deny there is a problem because they aren’t around as much.
  • Create and share an agenda: Before the meeting takes place, ask everyone to send you or the facilitator a list of concerns. Use them to create an agenda to share a day or two before the family meeting. Health conditions, medications, and a senior’s financial situation should all be topics on the agenda.
  • Include everyone: Don’t let distance keep you from meeting to talk about a senior loved one’s care. If some family members can’t make it home for the holidays, use technology like a webcam or Skype to allow everyone to be involved in the discussion.
  • Let all voices be heard: It isn’t uncommon for these types of meetings to be emotional. Old sibling rivalries and conflicts can rear up again. During the meeting, all voices deserve to be heard. This includes your senior loved one’s voice. Empower the facilitator to keep things from getting out of control and to cut off those who are unfairly dominating the conversation.
  • Leave with a plan: Before the meeting concludes, create a plan of care and a list of tasks for each person to follow up on. It might be that faraway siblings help research senior living communities online and make phone calls. Once the community options are narrowed down, those family members who live closest can visit each one in person. Agree to meet again—even by phone—until you find a solution that works for your loved one.

Unsure What Type of Care You Need?

The Sunrise Care Questionnaire will walk you through a series of questions to determine what level of care best meets their needs. In less than five minutes, you’ll have a better understanding of where to begin your search.

Planning Holiday Celebrations When a Senior has...

If you are the family caregiver for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease, holiday planning requires a little extra thought. Parties in your home can be especially challenging. 

But that doesn’t mean you should skip hosting a holiday celebration altogether.

Instead, learning how to plan a safe holiday gathering is the key.

Tips for Hosting a Holiday Gathering when your Loved One has Dementia

Explaining the situation to your guests is important. And details like timing of the party and creating a “safe space” for your loved one are also vital. The following suggestions can help make your holiday party go smoothly.

Explain the situation to your guests ahead of time.

 As you receive RSVPs from guests, explain the situation to those who will be attending. While Alzheimer’s awareness has increased in recent years, many people still think the only symptoms of the disease are being forgetful and getting lost easily. It’s important for everyone to be aware of other potential issues.

This can be accomplished with an email or note that includes a quick sentence or two about the disease, like the example below:

We are looking forward to seeing you at our holiday party! Since we’ve last spent time together, my father is now living with us. Dad has Alzheimer’s. It can cause him to behavior unusually or forget people’s names—even longtime friends and family members. Please don’t be offended. The disease is at fault, not him.

Also know that the disease makes daily life more difficult for him. Crowds and noise can be tough. So he might visit with guests for a while, and then rest in his room the remainder of the evening.”

Additionally, encourage guests to talk to their children about Alzheimer's. The bottom line is that it is kinder to everyone involved if guests aren’t surprised on the day of the event. This makes it easier and less stressful for everyone to recognize the condition and be more understanding of the situation.

Create a peaceful space for a party timeout.

For people who have Alzheimer’s, any change in routine can be difficult. This includes the party atmosphere, such as loud noises, confusion, and an influx of people. These can create agitation and possibly even lead to attempts to wander.

Prepare for this by creating a place for your loved one to take a quiet break if need. Consider enlisting a few friends or family members—those who understand the disease and common behaviors—to keep your loved one company during the event.

Before the party, have CDs or a playlist of soothing music ready to go. If your loved one tolerates headphones, listening  to music with headphones might help to block out background noise.

If any of the party guests are close with your family member, they might enjoy spending one-on-one time with them during the party. This can also help your loved one feel calmer.

Pay attention to timing and details.

Most people with Alzheimer’s disease have times of day that are better and worse for them. Take that into consideration as you plan your holiday gathering.

If possible, schedule your event for a time of day when your loved one is typically at their best. A brunch might be better than a cocktail party if your family member suffers from sundowning syndrome. Or, an evening dessert bar may be a good fit if the early part of the day is most challenging for them.

Visit Sunrise during the Holidays

The holidays are a great time of year to visit a Sunrise Senior Living community! From the seasonal foods to fun, festive activities, you are sure to enjoy spending a few hours with us.  Sunrise Senior Living's memory care services create a safe and stimulating environment for those with Alzheimer’s. Call the community nearest you to set up a time today.

Seniors, Fire Safety, and the Holidays: What...

Safety is always a top priority for the caregiver of a senior loved one. But during the holiday season, one specific risk becomes even more important to consider: fires.

Seniors face twice the risk of being seriously injured or losing their life in a fire. Those over the age of 85 have almost five times higher risk. While older adults account for only 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 35 percent of the deaths caused by fires.

Here are a few tips to review and share with your older loved ones to help keep them safe this holiday season.

7 Fire Safety Tips for Seniors during the Holidays

  1. Limit the use of extension cords: Many of us rely on extension cords when decorating for the holidays. This can cause an outlet or cord to overheat, especially in older homes. Remind the older adult you love of the risks associated with using too many extension cords.  
  2. Keep Christmas trees hydrated: The look and smell of a freshly-cut Christmas tree adds beauty to the season. But trees can dry out and create a fire hazard. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Christmas tree fires are especially dangerous: one in 34 people involved in a fire caused by a Christmas tree loses their life. That compares with one in 142 for all other home fires. To stay safe, replenish the water in the tree stand frequently. If the tree dries out, remove it from the home.
  3. Don’t leave candles burning unattended: The holidays are a time of year when more people burn candles. While they add sparkle to the season, leaving a lit menorah or other seasonal candle unattended can be dangerous. Make sure to extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
  4. Exercise caution with space heaters: Seniors on a fixed income often use space heaters in the rooms where they spend the most time: bedrooms, living rooms, and bathrooms. But space heaters used improperly can cause curtains, rugs, furniture, and more to ignite. Make sure to review the directions on any space heater you or a senior loved one uses, and replace space heaters that are over 10 years old.
  5. Kitchen safety: Home fires are more likely to begin in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. Often, they occur when a senior is cooking, or when they leave a pot unattended on the stove. Since cooking and baking is more prevalent during the holidays, it’s a good time to review kitchen safety. Remember to stay in the kitchen when you are cooking or baking, and encourage your senior loved one to do the same. If you must leave the room, set the timer on the stove. Also, avoid wearing shirts or blouses with loose-fitting sleeves. These can brush against a burner and ignite. Finally, make sure to keep an easy-to-use fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  6. Check the smoke detectors: The holidays are a good time to test your loved one’s smoke detectors. Remember, there should be at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. If the older loved one in your life has hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a low, easier-to-hear alert. Others flash a strobe light or vibrate to warn the senior of danger.
  7. Create and practice an escape plan: It’s vital for all of us to have an escape plan in case of fire and to practice it a few times a year. For seniors, it is especially important. Work with your older loved one to create an escape plan for every room in their house.

What Type of Senior Care Does a Loved One Need?

We understand that you often return home to spend time with older parents during the holiday season. And many times the topic of senior living options comes up. If you suspect it’s time for a change, we can help you determine what level of care might be the best fit.

The Sunrise Care Questionnaire takes just four minutes to complete. The results will help you figure out where to start your search for senior living.

Can Food Choices Impact Your Odds of Developing...

As knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease advances, scientists have identified several possible causes of the condition. Some dementia experts suggest lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of developing it, including healthy eating, brain exercise, and regular physical activity

One particularly promising body of research raises an important question: can type 2 diabetes cause Alzheimer’s disease?

We know that one in four adults aged 65 and older live with diabetes and that one in eight older adults live with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have been exploring whether there is a link between the two.

Let’s look at what we know about diet, diabetes, and dementia.

Is There a Link between Diabetes and Dementia?

Since 2005, the evidence of a link between dementia and insulin resistance has grown stronger. In fact, some researchers have started referring to Alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes. Studies indicate that older adults diagnosed with diabetes are two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The catch is that researchers don’t understand the cause and effect between diabetes and dementia. Most agree, however, that high blood sugar can negatively impact brain health.

Understanding Diabetes

It’s important to first understand what diabetes is and how it develops.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and it’s on the rise in the United States. Most physicians believe the obesity epidemic is the culprit. Obesity is typically the result of poor lifestyle choices, specifically an unhealthy diet.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body isn’t able to make the right amount of insulin or doesn’t process insulin properly. As blood sugar levels rise in the body, blood vessels, including those in the brain, become stressed. This can cause arteries to harden and narrow.

When the blood supply to the brain isn’t adequate, an older adult’s cognitive faculties can decline. The adult may develop memory loss, have difficulty concentrating and completing tasks, and even struggle with mobility.

Excess glucose also makes it difficult for the brain to break down fatty membranes. When these membranes stick together, they form plaques and tangles that scientists think contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lower Your Risk for Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

While there is no conclusive evidence so far, many researchers believe one of the best ways to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s disease is to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association says you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by:

  • Eating healthy: The Create Your Plate method from the ADA is one way to manage your diet. MyPlate for Older Adults is another.
  • Work with your physician: Find a physician you trust and work closely with them on preventative health. This can help keep your cholesterol within the normal range and your blood pressure under control.
  • Don’t smoke: You’ve heard this one over and over, but it bears repeating. Your risk for many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, is lower if you don’t smoke.
  • Exercise regularly: Frequent, moderate exercise is another prevention practice. Talk with your physician for advice about how often and how much exercise you should be getting to ward off disease.
  • Alcohol in moderation: Another issue to talk with your doctor about is alcohol consumption. Most doctors recommend limiting alcoholic beverages to just one drink, once or twice a week.

Controlling your blood sugar will help you live a healthier life which may, in turn, prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

Memory Care at Sunrise

Our Reminiscence Neighborhoods at Sunrise Senior Living communities provide adults with memory impairment a safe, secure environment to call home. Specialized programs and activities help residents live their best life despite the disease.

If an adult you love has Alzheimer’s, we encourage you to visit a Sunrise community near you to see firsthand how we can help improve their quality of life.

7 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the...

Decking the halls or hosting seasonal celebrations can present a time management challenge for all of us. For already overwhelmed caregivers, however, the added pressures of the season can be downright exhausting. 

Four in ten family caregivers say they just can’t manage it all on their own when the holidays roll around. Not asking for help can cause caregivers to withdraw and avoid celebrating the holidays altogether.

But caregivers deserve to celebrate the holidays, too. They need time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Here are a few ways caregivers can participate in the holidays without experiencing burnout or depression.

Preventing Holiday Related Caregiver Overload

  1. Ask for and accept help: As we head into peak holiday season, it is important for family caregivers to ask for and accept help. Ask a relative or friend to pick up a few gifts while they are doing their own shopping. Or, ask a church volunteer to stay with your loved one so you can enjoy a holiday event with family and friends. In-home care agencies and senior living communities offer respite services that might also give you the extra time you need this holiday season.
  2. Adapt holiday traditions: While you may have traditionally loved hosting a formal sit-down holiday dinner for the entire family, consider adapting it to a celebration that’s easier to manage. A potluck or a cocktail party, for example, can be simpler to host.
  3. Be kind to yourself: Many family caregivers struggle with feelings of inadequacy even during the best of times. The holidays can further exacerbate this issue. Try to use the holiday season to change the way you talk to yourself and acknowledge the hard work you’ve done.
  4. Take ten: While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise can help you feel less stressed. Taking ten minutes during the middle of the day for a quick walk might be just the stress-buster you need.
  5. Support group: Finding a support group of your peers to talk with can also help. In addition to being able to relate to your feelings and struggles, they may also have insight and resources to help you manage caregiving during the holidays. An online support group might be the most convenient way to connect.

Sunrise Senior Living Welcomes Holiday Visitors

We know families often use the holiday season as a time to assess and plan for a senior loved one’s health and wellness needs. Many times, that includes touring local assisted living communities.

If your family will be researching senior living options for someone you love, we invite you to visit Sunrise. Our communities look and feel especially festive during the holidays! Call a Sunrise community near you to arrange a private tour.

How to Objectively Evaluate a Senior's Fitness...

Driving is closely linked with independence. Most of us take for granted the ability to hop in our car and head out to run errands or enjoy a road trip. But as we grow older, our ability to stay safe behind the wheel of a car can be compromised. 

Vision changes caused by aging can make it tougher to see at night. Hearing loss can muffle sounds and cause an older driver to react too slowly to road hazards. Decreased flexibility might cause pain when looking over the shoulder to merge in traffic.

That’s why the American Occupational Therapy Association sponsors Older Driver Safety Awareness Week every year during the second week of December. It gives advocates in aging services, like those at Sunrise Senior Living, an opportunity to shine light on road safety for older adults.

Older Driver Safety Concerns

Here are a few suggestions to make sure an older adult is safe behind the wheel of a car.

Visit the eye doctor on a regular basis

Experts at the AAA Foundation tell us that as much as 85 percent of driving decisions involve our eyes. And it’s a fact of life that our visual abilities decline as we grow older. Aging eyes are more sensitive to glare, which is why seniors often have a tough time driving at night. The loss of depth perception commonly caused by aging makes it difficult for older drivers to judge their distance from other cars, pedestrians, bikers, and other objects along the road.

Taking steps like keeping the windshield, mirrors, and headlights clean and turning up the brightness setting on the vehicle’s instrument panel can help. But it’s also crucial to see the eye doctor on a routine basis. They can help identify any vision issues and intervene early.

Senior-friendly vehicles

Choosing the right vehicle can also make a big difference when it comes to senior driver safety. While they might want to hang onto an older vehicle because it has low mileage, new cars offer seniors important safety features. Easy-to-pull seatbelts, electric seat adjustments, and improved air bags are just a few.

It’s also important to remind older drivers not to sit too close to the steering wheel. In the event an accident causes the air bags to deploy, an older driver seated too close can be seriously injured. Experts from the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration say a senior’s chest should be at least 10 inches from the steering wheel. If they can’t reach the gas pedal, consider adding a pedal extender to their vehicle.

Monitor medication side effects

Another overlooked issue that puts seniors at risk when driving is medication. Some medications slow reaction time, while others are known for causing drowsiness or dizziness. These can all be hazardous for drivers.

Take time to review each of your older loved one’s medications to identify potential risks. If you find any that concern you, talk to their physician about alternative options.

Online Driving Tests for Seniors

If you are looking for objective ways to evaluate or improve an older driver’s skills and abilities, here are two tools you might find useful:

Transportation Services at Sunrise Senior Living

If you’ve noticed change in a senior’s driving skills, Older Driver Safety Awareness Week gives you an ideal opportunity to discuss your concerns.

If your concerns about a senior’s safety extend beyond driving, a senior living community might be a solution to consider. From transportation services to a wide variety of life enrichment activities, Sunrise communities help older adults live their best life. Call us today to book a tour and learn more.

5 Ways to Avoid the Flu During the Holiday Season

From shopping and decorating to attending cocktail parties, holiday season is a busy time for most. All of the hustle and bustle can leave you feeling a little worn out. 

And when that happens, your immune system weakens—making it easier for the flu bug to make an appearance.

What can you do to shoo the flu this holiday season?

Here are a few steps caregivers and seniors can take.

5 Influenza Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

  1. Get the vaccine: While the best time to have a flu shot is in October or early November, there’s still time to be vaccinated. If you haven’t had a flu shot, call your doctor’s office today. It generally takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up in the body and offer protection.
  2. Practice good hygiene: Another good prevention measure is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water several times throughout the day. This is especially important if you are at a holiday party or in a crowded shopping mall where you are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests keeping an alcohol-based hand rub in your pocket, purse, or car for times you won’t have access to soap and hot water.
  3. Limit personal contact: This can be a tough one to stick with during holiday celebrations. But limiting the number of handshakes and kisses you give and receive can lower your risk for catching the virus. The flu is highly contagious, and it is easily transferred from one person to another. Plus, people can have the bug for several days before exhibiting any symptoms.  
  4. Don’t touch your face: Most of us don’t realize how often we touch our face throughout the day. But if you’ve been exposed to the bug, say from touching the credit card machine at the grocery store, you can quickly transfer the virus from your hands to your nose or mouth. Remind yourself throughout flu season not to touch your face!
  5. Eat, sleep, and exercise: People with a strong immune system are better able to fight off the flu bug even if they are exposed. But the holidays are a time of year many of us relax our healthy lifestyles. Keep your immune system strong by sticking with a healthy diet, getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and making time for exercise at least five days a week.

If, despite your best efforts, you think you’ve been bitten by the flu bug, call your doctor right away. There are prescription antiviral medications that can help if prescribed in time. While they might not be able to keep you from developing a case of influenza, they can help shorten the amount of time you are sick or lessen the severity of flu symptoms.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle at Sunrise

At Sunrise, we understand the role a healthy lifestyle plays in aging well. From wellness programs to tasty, well-balanced meals, we help each of our residents live their best life.

If you are helping an older adult you love search for a senior living community to call home, we’d love to have you visit a Sunrise community near you. Call us to arrange a time.

Are You Taking the Time to Review Your Medicare...

Most of us shop around before making a big purchase. We visit a variety of websites, ask friends for advice, read online reviews, and compare one option with another. That’s why a new statistic from WellCare is so surprising: 62 percent of seniors don’t review or shop around for Medicare Advantage plan options during open enrollment. 

For most older adults, healthcare is their biggest expense, accounting for as much as 40 percent of their income. Men are more likely to review their Medicare options than women, but research shows neither group sees it as a priority. In fact, seniors spend more time comparison shopping for car insurance and cable television than they do for a Medicare plan.

According to Kaiser Health, seniors who do make time to shop around find themselves saving an average of $200 a year. Over 20 years, that can result in a savings of $4,000. This is a significant amount for an older adult on a fixed income.

So, how can you explore your Medicare options and make sure you are enrolling in a plan that offers you the best value at the most economical price?

We have a few suggestions you might find helpful.

Exploring Your Medicare Advantage Plan Options

Our first suggestion is to review the Annual Notice of Change letter you should have received in the mail from your current Medicare Advantage plan. Your provider is required to inform you of any changes they are making with regard to pricing, physicians, hospitals, and other plan details. This will give you an idea on how much you should expect to spend in the year ahead if you stick with your current plan.

Next, head over to the Medicare Plan Finder tool on Medicare’s official website. You will need your current plan identification number, a list of your medications, as well as your preferred pharmacy, physicians, and hospitals. The tool will walk you through entering your personal information step-by-step.

Once you have everything entered, the site’s database will match you with a list of plan options near you. The plans will be sorted by their annual cost to participants, but it’s important not to let price be the only factor you use to select a provider.

What else should you consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan?

Here are a few factors to take in to consideration:

  • Plan quality: Medicare uses a five-star rating system to help consumers evaluate a plan’s commitment to quality of care. Each plan receives a separate star rating for overall quality, health plan quality, and prescription drug plan quality. You can search by plan name by visiting the Medicare Plan Quality and Performance Ratings page. Also, if you or your loved one happens to be currently residing at a senior living community, inquire whether they may have any options or can help you navigate through this decision. 
  • Your preferred providers: Also visit each plan’s website (the link will be included in the list generated by the Medicare Plan Finder tool) to determine if your preferred hospitals, pharmacies, lab services, physicians, and outpatient clinics are a part of the plan.
  • Vision and dental coverage: One advantage some of these plans have over traditional Medicare is that they sometimes include vision and dental coverage. That can be a big benefit to older adults who don’t have any other insurance coverage.
  • Plan perks: Does the plan offer any additional perks that are important to you? For example, some Medicare Advantage plans offer seniors a free membership to Silver Sneakers. This allows the older adult access to participating health and fitness clubs at no cost.
  • Travelers: If you spend summers at the lake or winters in a warmer climate, it’s important to know how each plan covers healthcare when you are out of the local service area. A national plan might offer broader coverage, but the best way to find out for sure is to call each plan you are considering.

If you are struggling to navigate your way through what seems like a maze of Medicare Advantage plans, help is available.

Every state has an experienced group of volunteers who offer free one-on-one counseling to help seniors. It is known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as SHIP. Visit the SHIP website to locate personal assistance near you.

Home for the Holidays: Signs Your Senior Loved...

The winter holidays are a time of year when many adult children travel home to celebrate the season with aging parents. This visit also gives them a chance to see firsthand how their older loved ones are doing. 

Sometimes, the warning signs that a senior isn’t managing well are obvious. Repeated falls that have left the senior with bruises are worrisome. A banged up car can signal they aren’t safe driving.

Other times, it is a variety of small concerns that can add up to big trouble if left unaddressed.

As you head home for the holidays, here are some tips to help you objectively assess your senior loved one’s situation.

Is Your Senior Loved One Safe at Home?

Most adult children who live far away rely on phone calls to keep in frequent contact throughout the year. The holidays might be a rare opportunity for the two generations to connect in person.

Here are a few things to watch for during your holiday visit:

  1. Unintended change in weight: Gaining or losing too much weight can be a sign of a serious issue, such as depression, dementia, or cancer. But it might also be caused by an unhealthy diet. Medical conditions like arthritis or vision loss can limit an older adult’s ability to grocery shop and prepare meals. This can lead to poor nutrition and even malnutrition.
  2. Unsteady walk: Falls remain the leading cause of injury among older adults. Everything from poor nutrition to medication side effects can make an older adult unsteady on their feet. During your visit home, pay close attention to how well your loved one moves, both through the house and when you are out and about in the local community. Does it seem like they intentionally avoid going up or down even a few stairs? Do they seem to be more sedentary than usual? Are there bumps and bruises on their arms and legs? These are all indicators they are at risk for a serious fall.
  3. Change in lifestyle: Ask your senior loved one how their friends are doing, especially those that you personally know. Also, inquire about hobbies and volunteer work they’ve been involved with. Does it seem as if they’ve dropped out of favorite activities or lost contact with friends? Isolated seniors are at higher risk for health conditions ranging from depression to heart disease and diabetes. Try to find out why they’ve changed long-standing habits.
  4. Personal hygiene: Another indication that a senior is struggling to maintain their independence is a change in personal hygiene. A close hug can reveal a lot about how well they are managing their personal care. If your mother has stopped wearing makeup or if your father’s hair isn’t as well-kept as usual, for example, it’s worth having a discussion about.
  5. Condition of the home: Maintaining a home is a lot of work at any age. For seniors, it can grow increasingly difficult. Early signs that something is amiss include piles of unopened mail on the counter, clutter, overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes, dying plants, and broken appliances not being repaired. Another sign of trouble is burned cookware, which might indicate that your parent is forgetting they have something cooking on the stove—a dangerous fire hazard.

If you notice the above signs during your holiday visit home, it might be time to consider the support of an in-home care agency or a move to a senior living community.

Visit Sunrise during the Holidays

The holidays are a lively and festive time of year to visit a Sunrise Senior Living community! We extend our warmest welcome to you and your family to join us for a tour and lunch at your convenience.

Call the Sunrise community near your senior loved one to schedule a time for a private visit!

Holiday Decorating When Your Loved One has...

Decking the halls for Christmas or Hanukkah is something many families do together every year, with decorations adding sparkle to the holiday season. But for an older adult with memory loss, these decorations may create disorienting experiences that pose safety challenges.

Thankfully, there are several ways you can make the holidays a safe and happy season for everyone in the family.  

Choose Safe Decorations This Holiday Season

Here are a few factors to consider before you hang a single strand of tinsel on the tree:

  • Animation anxiety: Some seasonal decorations, especially those designed for children, include animation. Singing reindeer, talking elves, and flashing holiday characters are a few examples. Life-sized Santas are another. While these can make the season brighter for the younger generation, they can be frightening for adults with Alzheimer’s. A person with dementia may not recognize that these decorations aren’t real. If you don’t want to skip displaying them altogether, place them in rooms of the house the senior doesn’t visit.
  • Disorienting light displays: Holiday lights are often used inside and outside a home during the holidays. Alzheimer’s often creates vision changes, so lights that blink, twinkle, or flash can be disorienting. It may lead to agitation and wandering. Instead, opt for white lights that stay on consistently instead of blinking on and off.
  • Fall hazards: Making room for holiday decorations around the house often requires changing furniture around and making use of extension cords. Adults with Alzheimer’s often develop gait issues that cause them to shuffle their feet when they walk. When commonly used pathways are obstructed during the holidays, the risk for experiencing a fall goes up. Be sure to keep pathways they take from room to room clear of decorations and extension cords.
  • Use candles with caution: Lighting the candles on the Menorah or on the holiday table are traditions for many. But when a senior has dementia, candles can be dangerous. Because judgment is often impaired among people with Alzheimer’s, the older adult might not recognize the danger an open flame presents. Use candles only when someone can be nearby to supervise.
  • Ornaments: Holiday ornaments can also be hazardous for people with dementia. Faux food ornaments, such as gingerbread men, might look good enough to eat. This can be a choking hazard. Additionally, glass ornaments that sparkle can catch a senior’s eye. They might break them trying to get a closer look and cut their hand. If you want to use these types of ornaments, place them up high where they are less likely to attract an older adult’s attention.

Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living

From exercise to pet therapy, Sunrise communities are designed to help seniors with dementia thrive in a safe, secure environment.

The holidays are a great time of year to visit a Sunrise community! You are sure to enjoy our seasonal foods and festive activities while you learn about our innovative approach to memory care. Call the community nearest you to set up a time today.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Grandparents Who Are on...

The holidays are a time of year when many families pause to enjoy quality time together. Decorating the tree. Lighting the Menorah. Exchanging gifts. Every family has their own traditions. But for older adults who live on a fixed income, the holidays can take a big bite out of their budget. This is especially true when it comes to buying gifts for all of the grandchildren.

This year, instead of spending a lot of money on gifts, consider other ways you can celebrate the season with your grandchildren.

Creating Meaningful Holiday Memories

Here are a few ideas to help you manage your budget while bonding with the grandkids:

  • Host a movie night: The grandkids might enjoy an afternoon or evening of movies with their grandparents. No parents allowed! Have them help pick out the movies. Pile pillows and blankets in the living room and serve a few favorite treats. Be sure to take selfies to save and to share on Facebook. You may even want to borrow a projector so you can show the movie on a wall in the living room for a true theater experience!
    • Get creative: Another idea for a holiday afternoon is to spend time crafting. There are many fun and inexpensive projects you can tackle together. Homemade wind socks, holiday cards, bird seed ornaments, milk jug fairy gardens, and craft stick snowmen are just a few.
    • Make a video: Almost all cell phones have a video feature. This makes it easier to create your own family video. It might be something as simple as documenting the grandkids singing karaoke-style to their favorite songs. Or, you could go all out and help the grandchildren write their own play and act it out while you video the production.
    • Playing around: Kids of all ages like playing games. From Candyland to Yahtzee Jr., you can gather the grandkids together for a day of gaming. Serve a simple meal or just some tasty snacks.
    •  Bake dog or cat treats: A twist on holiday baking is to make organic dog or cat treats to donate to the local animal shelter. The two generations will have a chance to bond while baking the treats and delivering them to the shelter dogs and/or cats.

    Finally, if you live in an assisted living community, take a look at the holiday programs scheduled there. You can invite each grandchild to pick their favorite activity.

    With a rich variety of life enrichment activities to choose from at Sunrise, each member of the younger generation will surely find an activity the two of you can enjoy together.

    Holiday Gift Ideas for a Senior With Dementia

    For a senior with memory loss, maintaining a normal schedule is important—even during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

    Making the holiday season dementia-friendly is an important step in allowing a person with memory loss to be part of the festivities. One way to do that is through meaningful holiday gifts. But coming up with gift ideas for a person with memory loss isn’t always easy to do.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Adults with Alzheimer’s

    Here are a few ideas you may find useful when shopping for a senior loved one who has dementia.

    • Music: The healing harmonies of music can help to boost the spirit and soothe agitation in adults with memory impairment. Consider purchasing a few CDs for your loved one’s holiday gift. Or, load a playlist of old-time music on an iPod for them. Another fun idea might be to track down a record player (they are back in style again!) and a few vinyl records of your loved one’s favorite artists from their younger days.
    • Stage-appropriate toys: One thing for families to keep top-of-mind as the disease progresses is protecting a senior’s dignity. We suggest purchasing stage-appropriate toys specifically designed for people with dementia. It can be something as simple as poker chips the senior can sort by color, or a game of checkers to play together even if you don’t quite follow the rules. Large piece puzzles also come in adult versions for people with Alzheimer’s to enjoy.
    • Comfortable clothing: Those with Alzheimer’s can have difficulties with dexterity and coordination. It can make seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed more difficult. A good holiday gift might be comfortable clothing that looks nice but is easy to get on and off. A stylish jogging suit or jeans with an elastic waistband instead of buttons or a zipper are a few examples.
    • Bird feeder or bird bath: If you’ve ever witnessed an adult with memory loss watching birds out their window, it is easy to understand why this item makes the list. Studies have shown that watching birds eat, build a nest, and otherwise go about their day can be calming for a person with dementia—so much so that the National Audubon Society created a special dementia initiative called Bird Tales.

    Discussing Memory Care during the Holidays

    The holidays can be the one time of year the whole family is reunited. From aunts and uncles to grandchildren, families tend to go home during this season.

    To prepare to go home this holiday season, try listening to The Senior Caregiver Podcast. This includes an episode on how to talk to your children about Alzheimer’s, as well as episodes on other aspects of caring for a senior loved one.

    Is There a Connection Between Muscle Mass &...

    Does staying stronger help you live longer? It’s a question researchers have been exploring. Until recent years, body mass index (BMI) was a measurement physicians often used to determine health. But we now know BMI isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    Simply put, body mass index measures your weight in relation to your height. It doesn’t, however, separate fat from muscle. So an athletic person who has significant muscle mass could earn an unhealthy BMI score despite being very fit.

    Research shows how important strong muscles are in aging well. Weight training a few days a week to build or preserve muscle mass can help seniors maintain core strength and balance. Both are critical in preventing falls, a leading cause of disability and even death among older adults.

    Finally, research published in the American Journal of Medicine shared the results of a study conducted at UCLA. Scientists there say that building muscle mass can also help older adults reduce their metabolic risk, a contributor to heart disease. Their work showed that the greater a senior’s muscle mass, the longer their life expectancy.

    What can you and your senior loved ones do pump up your muscle mass?

    It’s not really as complicated as you might think.

    Tips for Seniors and Caregivers to Build Muscle Mass

    The clinical term for the loss of muscle mass is sarcopenia. Health professionals suggest thinking of it as osteoporosis of the muscles. And it starts much earlier than you might expect.

    Experts say sarcopenia begins impacting adults as early as their thirties. But there are steps you can take to prevent this decline:

    • Strength Training: Engaging in modified weight training two or three times a week can help. Talk to your primary care physician for advice or for a referral to a physical therapist who can help you create a senior-friendly weight routine.
    • Endurance Activities: If you aren’t already engaging in regular fitness activities, put this on your list to discuss with your doctor, too. Types of exercise that build endurance and core strength include swimming, walking, chair yoga, and Pilates.
    • Balanced Diet: Protein is a key ingredient for building muscle mass. The Harvard Medical School suggests adults consume seven grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight each day.

    Senior-Friendly Fitness Resources

    While joining a fitness club like your local YMCA can offer great social benefits, not everyone is comfortable working out in a public environment. You and your senior loved one might find resources on these two sites helpful for creating your own fitness routine.

    • Go4Life: This program has been gaining a lot of attention on social media channels lately, but it has actually been around for a while. Developed by the National Institute on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health, Go4Life is a free resource center. Seniors can download and print exercise guides, nutrition information, and menus. You can even order a complimentary workout DVD with exercises older adults can perform in the privacy of their own living room.
    • AARP Health: Many seniors already belong to AARP. They have resources for members and non-members alike. One of their most popular videos is The AARP 15-Minute Workout.

    Health & Wellness at Sunrise

    At Sunrise Senior Living, we know how important it is for older adults to stay active and engaged with life. One of our 8 Signature Programs is Live With Action, which incorporates tips from our partner, the NIA, to help our residents stay physically active.

    We share what we’ve learned about aging well in our Elder Care Resources and Information Center. Visit it to find information on exercise, nutrition, heart health and more!

    Safe Winter Fitness Ideas for Older Adults

    As the calendar inches closer to winter, older adults may find themselves spending more time indoors. While walking and biking are popular forms of exercise on summer days, cold and snowy weather can put a damper on outdoor fitness activities.

    But we all know how important maintaining an active lifestyle is to warding off disease. Exercise can play a role in preventing health conditions that range from depression to diabetes. Staying strong can also help to lower an older adult’s risk for falls.

    The key is to find senior-friendly forms of fitness that can be performed indoors on days when snow and ice make exercising outdoors less than desirable.

    Winter Fitness Activities for Older Adults

    The good news is that there are a wide variety of fun and interesting fitness activities for older adults to explore. Here are a few that earn high marks from seniors:

    • Swimming: This popular form of fitness is good for the body, mind, and spirit. In addition to keeping you physically fit, swimming can also help soothe anxiety and relieve pain in joints damaged by arthritis. Many health clubs and YMCA programs offer seniors discounts on membership or swim-only membership options.
    • Tai Chi: An ancient form of exercise, tai chi helps build stamina and strength. Its gentle movements are good for older adults who might have mobility issues that make high-intensity forms of physical fitness difficult. Tai chi also teaches participants breathing techniques which can alleviate stress. The Arthritis Foundation offers several videos to help older adults master tai chi.
    • Stationary Bike: If you enjoy biking outdoors in summer months, a stationary bike will allow you to continue pedaling. Recumbent bikes are typically a safer style of stationary bike for seniors. You can watch television, read, or listen to music while you work out.
    • Yoga and Pilates: Both Pilates and yoga help build core strength and overall fitness. And, they can be performed safely in a senior’s own living room. Chair yoga is offered at many senior centers, libraries, and community centers for those who like the companionship of group exercise programs.
    • NIA's Go4Life: In recognizing how important it is for seniors to stay active, the National Institute on Aging developed Go4Life. This comprehensive fitness programs provides resources for seniors. You can even sign up to have a free workout DVD sent to your home.
    • Silver Sneakers: Another fitness option for seniors to explore is called Silver Sneakers. They provide free fitness club memberships in conjunction with different health insurance plans. Visit the Silver Sneakers website to see if your health plan is a partner.

    As with any new form of exercise, talk with your primary care physician before getting started.

    Wellness Programs at Sunrise

    At Sunrise, one of our 8 Signature Programs is Live With Action. Because we know aging well requires staying active, you will find a variety of physical fitness programs every day at each of our communities. We invite you to visit us at your convenience to learn more.

    Preventing Caregiver Depression During the...

    The physical and emotional toll of caring for a senior loved one can be draining and isolating at times. There is probably no other time of year when that is more apparent than the holidays. 

    What can you do to help prevent the holiday blues and potentially a case of depression?

    Here are some suggestions for tackling this holiday season and the year ahead.

    Preventing Caregiver Depression during the Holidays

    Prevention starts with recognizing that no caregiver can do it all on their own any time of year, let alone during the busy holiday season. Failing to accept this can put you at risk for a host of health problems, including clinical depression.

    Here are some steps you can take now to prevent falling victim to the holiday blues or depression:

    • Accept help: Caregivers often feel duty bound to care for a senior loved one on their own. Even when an offer of help is extended, they may refuse it. This holiday season, give yourself permission to ask for and accept help. Whether it is from a friend who volunteers to run errands for you or a church program that assists homebound seniors, say “yes” during the holiday season and beyond.
    • Explore respite care: Take advantage of a local assisted living community’s respite care services and adult day programs near you. During the holidays, these programs will give you freedom to participate in family gatherings or enjoy time with friends. Many health professionals recommend family caregivers make respite care a permanent part of their caregiving plan.
    • Plan a potluck: In pre-caregiving years, parties at your home may have been elaborate affairs with a menu of delicious foods you prepared on your own. Don’t let a shortage of time keep you from hosting a festive gathering at your home. Friends and loved ones will likely be happy to bring a dish or two if it means spending time with you during the holidays.
    • Physical activity: One of the best ways to prevent or beat the blues is with physical activity. Routine exercise, such as walking or riding a stationary bike, can help boost your mood.
    • Quiet the mind: Meditation and yoga are two easy ways to quiet the mind and calm the spirit. Even a quick ten minutes each morning can help you start the day off right.
    • Journaling: Another way to de-stress and cope with caregiving challenges is by journaling. Taking a few minutes at bedtime to get your thoughts, fears and frustrations down on paper can help you heal and move forward. It can also help you sleep better—a challenge for many weary caregivers.

    Warning Signs of Caregiver Depression

    Emotional wellness also necessitates caregivers learn to recognize the early signs of depression. These warning signs often include:

    • Change in disposition or personality
    • Being quick to anger or becoming tearful easy
    • Unintentional weight gain or loss
    • Feeling of fatigue that doesn’t go away even with a good night’s rest
    • Sleep problems—whether it is sleeping too much, or not enough
    • Physical health issues, such as headaches or digestive problems
    • Difficulty completing tasks and making decisions
    • Developing new negative behaviors, like drinking or smoking, to cope with stress
    • Feeling resentful of the loved one you care for and of other family members
    • Lack of interest in favorite pastimes and hobbies

    If more than one or two of these warning signs could be used to describe how you are feeling, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Early intervention can help prevent a case of the blues from developing in to a more serious diagnosis of depression.

    Sunrise Senior Living Caregiver Support Center

    With more than 65 million adults in this country acting as a caregiver for someone they love, we know the need for resources and support is great. Check out our caregiver support center.

     You will find resources that range from videos on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to ideas for finding a caregiver support group. You are likely to find answers to many of your caregiving challenges here!

    With these resources and tips, we hope you’ll be able to make this holiday season a special time for your senior loved one, your family, and yourself.

    How Siblings Can Truly Thank the Caregiver in...

    When an aging person needs a helping hand with personal care and household chores, an adult child or child-in-law shoulders the responsibilities about half the time. And the sibling who takes on this demanding role often has a career and children of their own.

    It becomes a difficult juggling act that can leave a family caregiver feeling, at times, unappreciated and exhausted.

    This Thanksgiving, make sure to express your gratitude to your sibling in truly meaningful ways. Additionally, commit to finding ways to support their caregiving efforts.

    Thanking the Caregiver in Your Family

    Being a caregiver for your loved one is a tough job—so tough that it isn’t uncommon for a family caregiver to end up experiencing a health crisis of their own.

    Even if you live far away, you can still pitch in. In fact, long-distance siblings should go the extra mile in providing physical and emotional support to the sibling who is juggling this role.

    Here are a few ways you can provide meaningful support to the caregiver in your family:

    • Healthy Meals: Make it easier for your sibling to provide healthy meals to your parent and to their own family. Stock their freezer during your visits or pay for a subscription to a healthy meal service such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. There are many options to pick from these days.
    • Housekeeping Services: Another way to thank the caregiving sibling is by paying for a housecleaning company once a month at their home. Or, you can investigate senior-friendly housekeeping services for your parent to utilize to relieve your sibling of some of their burdens. If your parent has a limited income, call the local agency on aging. They may be able to connect you with a service that charges seniors on a sliding scale based on income.
    • Respite Care: Most healthcare professionals recommend family caregivers utilize respite care on a regular basis. But a family caregiver may be so busy that they don’t have time to find respite care for the senior loved one. Do the legwork for them. Call in-home care providers and assisted living communities near your parent’s home to learn more about respite services.
    • Keep in Touch: One of the challenges family caregivers express is that they feel alone and uncertain in their role. Faraway siblings are often guilty of adding to that burden. Long-distance adult children sometimes feel guilty for not being there to help an aging parent. Their guilt causes them to become overly critical of the sibling that is there to help every day. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, stay in touch often and provide a listening ear and a few positive words to your sibling.
    • Caregiver Support Groups: Another way you can support your sibling is by helping connect them with their peers. The easiest way might be by finding an online caregiver support group. These groups provide an anonymity that often allows family caregivers to be honest and open about their feelings. And, they can join in on conversations at their convenience whether it is early morning or late at night. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a great place to connect with a group.

    Our final suggestion for thanking a sibling caregiver is to give them a vacation. Stay with your parent while your sibling enjoys time on their own or with their family. If your budget permits, help finance a long weekend at a local spa or a trip to a family-friendly destination like a national park for your sibling to enjoy.

    Short-term Respite Care at Sunrise

    The best way to learn more about respite care services is by visiting a Sunrise Senior Living community in person. We’ll show you around the community, share information on life enrichment activities and dining, and help you get a realistic look at what each day at Sunrise is really like.

    Book a respite tour today to get started!

    Managing Diabetes During the Hectic Holiday Season

    The holidays are a time for family gatherings and festive celebrations, many of which come with fabulous foods and alcoholic drinks. On top of that is the frantic pace of the season. Exercise often falls victim to a busy schedule. This can all add up to challenging days for adults with type 2 diabetes who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

    But with some thoughtful planning, it’s possible to enjoy the season without sacrificing your health.

    Managing Diabetes during the Rush of the Holidays

    Here are a few ideas to help you or a senior loved one manage diabetes during the holidays:

    1. Plan Meals around Events

    Holiday celebrations are full of great-tasting food that usually isn’t very healthy. It can be tempting to ditch your diet and indulge. But for someone with diabetes, that can be dangerous.

    Instead, take a few minutes every evening to plan meals for the next day. You can also work in pre-party snacks that will help you fill up so you aren’t overly tempted by unhealthy treats at holiday events.

    If you or your older family member will be attending a luncheon where food choices might be fairly unhealthy, for example, plan the rest of the day’s meals around it. Or, if the party will be at a restaurant, visit their website ahead of time to review the menu. This will help you determine the most diabetes-friendly option for you to order.

    2. Schedule Reminders

    The season’s festivities have a way of getting many of us off of our regular schedules. Nutrition experts remind people with diabetes how important it is to stick to a strict medication schedule.

    Because many of the symptoms of a diabetic emergency are silent ones, a senior might not recognize they are getting into trouble until it’s too late. During the hustle and bustle of the season, take extra steps to adhere to your medication schedule. This might mean writing notes to yourself or setting an alarm on your cell phone.

    The same holds true for testing your blood glucose levels. Don’t allow yourself to neglect this task because you are too busy enjoying the holidays. In fact, it is especially important if you have been indulging in treats and neglecting to exercise.

    It’s also a good idea to order prescription refills ahead of time. Physicians and their staff may be taking holiday vacations, making them unavailable to approve or process refills as quickly as usual. The same holds true for pharmacies, which may be closed or have limited hours on holidays.

    3. Alcohol in Moderation

    The American Diabetes Association says that seniors who have their diabetes under control should speak with their physician about  enjoying an alcoholic beverage or two during holiday gatherings. As your physician will likely advise, however, it’s never a good idea for a diabetic to drink alcohol on an empty stomach or when blood glucose levels are low. Also, opt for light beer or a wine spritzer. Both can help limit alcohol intake while reducing calorie consumption.

    4. Holiday Travel

    If you will be away from home over the holidays, remember to plan accordingly.

    The American Diabetes Association suggests taking at least double the amount of medication and testing supplies you need for the length of time you will be gone. Place half of them in a carry-on bag that you have easy access to during your journey. Then, pack the additional stash in a second suitcase. If one of your bags is lost during travel, you will still have the back-up supply.

    It’s also smart to ask your physician for a written order for your medicine to have on hand while you travel. If something unforeseen happens, you can go to a local pharmacy to have your prescription filled.

    With a bit of planning, seniors with diabetes can enjoy holiday events surrounded by family and friends.

    Diabetes Management at Sunrise Senior Living

    We know that a proactive approach to type 2 diabetes education and management is important for older adults. From free blood screenings to prevention classes, our communities have a history of helping to raise awareness about this disease that affects as much as 27 percent of older adults.

    Our healthy dining options and in-house wellness programs make it easier for residents of Sunrise Senior Living to manage their diabetes. Schedule a private visit at the community nearest you to learn more!

    How to Enjoy Holiday Parties While Sticking...

    ‘Tis the season for eating a little bit too much pumpkin pie. Or for indulging in too many scoops of cream-laden mashed potatoes. Without a doubt, November and December are tough months of the year to eat healthy. But for seniors who live with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, maintaining a restricted diet is a vital part of managing their disease. 

    How can you relax and enjoy the holiday festivities while still sticking to your diet?

    It all comes down to planning ahead.

    Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

    Here are a few planning tips to help you or a senior loved one plan for a healthy holiday season:

    • Adapt Favorite Recipes: Drag out your recipe box and look over your holiday favorites. Explore ways to give your favorite family recipes a healthy makeover. It isn’t difficult to do. You can substitute unsweetened applesauce or bananas for some of the fat. Or, cut back on the sugar and add flavorful spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla instead.
    • Planning Daily and Weekly Menus: We know the holiday season can feel like one long, mad dash. It can help you stay on track if you take time each week to plan your meals. If you know you’ll be attending a big luncheon where healthy options will be limited, for example, plan a few healthy snacks to eat beforehand so you won’t be as tempted to make bad choices. And make sure your breakfast and dinner menus that day are light and well-balanced.
    • Talk with Your Host or Hostess: It is easy to avoid unhealthy foods during a cocktail party when everyone is busy mingling, as you can eat at home before the party. But a sit-down holiday dinner presents different challenges. No one wants to be a pest when a host or hostess is busy preparing for a holiday party, but knowing what is on the menu is important for adults with medical restrictions on their diet. Call the host or hostess a week before the party to explain your situation. If the planned menu doesn’t include any options you can eat, ask your host or hostess if it would be OK to bring your own. Most will understand and appreciate that you aren’t asking them to make a special meal for you.
    • Portion Control: If you absolutely can’t resist a few holiday treats, don’t use those slipups as an excuse to keep indulging. Portion control is the key. Eat a few bites of your favorite holiday food and give the rest away. Start the next day with a renewed commitment to sticking with your diet.
    • Start New Traditions: Another way to stay on track with your dietary restrictions is to start new traditions. Replace a few traditional but unhealthy holiday desserts on your menu with healthy ones. Dark chocolate-dipped strawberries or flourless honey-almond cake are two to consider.

    Sunrise Signature Dining Program

    Nutrition is part of our overall approach to empowering seniors to live their best life. The Sunrise Signature Dining Program includes meals and menus that accommodate special diets. From a low-sodium restriction to diabetes management, mealtime at our communities is both nutritious and delicious.

    We extend an open invitation to older adults who are contemplating a move to a senior living community to visit us. One of our care team members will be happy to show you around and answer your questions. And we’d love it if you joined us for lunch or dinner! 

    2017 Sunrise Signature Chef: David Chiasson's...

    We pride ourselves on providing our residents with delicious meals that are nutritionally sound, and one of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. 

    On Thursday, Nov. 9, Sunrise Senior Living held our fifth annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submitted nutritious recipes, and five finalists traveled to The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods, VA, to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef.

    After taste testing by a panel of Sunrise residents, David Chiasson from Sunrise of Burlington, MA, was selected to be this year's Sunrise Signature Chef!

    David grew up watching Julia Child, and her influence helped him realize his desire to become a chef. After receiving a Culinary & Food Service Management degree from Newbury College, David traveled to France with renowned chef Jacques Pepin for a two-week food and wine culinary tour. David has a passion for cooking, and he loves knowing he makes a positive impact on the lives of the residents at Sunrise of Burlington.

    David's pan-seared ginger-and-soy-marinated sea bass creation wowed the crowd. Below, we've included the recipe so that you can make David's dish yourself!

    Pan-Seared Ginger-and-Soy-Marinated Sea Bass

    Serves 8


    • 2 pounds sea bass filets, 4 oz. portions
    • 2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
    • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for pan searing fish and sautéing vegetables)
    • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
    • ½ cup white wine (chardonnay)    
    • 2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms (stems removed)
    • 1 pound fresh spinach (washed, stems removed)
    1. Combine ginger, soy sauce, ¾ cup olive oil in bowl. Whisk together to combine. Add sea bass portions and toss to evenly coat. Marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight preferred. 
    2. When ready to cook, remove fish from marinade and lightly pat dry with paper towel. Heat sauté pan until hot. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Heat until shimmering and almost smoking.
    3. Carefully place fish skin side up into hot oil. Sauté for 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely golden brown. Transfer fish to a baking dish. 
    4. Place fish in a 350-degree F oven for 5-6 minutes, or until fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. 
    5. While sauté pan is still hot, add chopped garlic and shiitake mushrooms to pan. Sauté until mushrooms are almost tender.  
    6. Add fresh spinach and toss with mushrooms and garlic. Add white wine to pan, and cover tightly and simmer until spinach is wilted. 
    7. To serve, spoon spinach and mushroom mixture on to center of the plate. Carefully place fish portion on top. Spoon a couple teaspoons of pan liquid over the top of fish. 

    We hope you love David's recipe as much as our residents did!

    2017 Nutritional Challenge: Brian Amery's Meatloaf

    We pride ourselves on providing our residents with delicious meals that are nutritionally sound, and one of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    On Thursday, Nov. 9, Sunrise Senior Living held our fifth annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submitted nutritious recipes, and five finalists traveled to The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods, VA, to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef.

    Brian Amery was a finalist, and he is the dining services coordinator for Sunrise of Wilmington, DE. Brian is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Prior to joining Sunrise, he worked at the Hotel DuPont for 15 years. He has held positions as executive chef for Fieldstone Golf Club, Sodexo, Aramark, and Compass Group corporations, as well as Gate Gourmet at Dulles International Airport, where he oversaw the production of 15,000 to 20,000 meals each day for 19 different international airlines.

    Brian has been with Sunrise since 2014. He is also a designated trainer and job coach, supporting a cluster of seven Sunrise communities in the nearby Pennsylvania region. Brian takes great pride in helping to produce delicious home cooked meals for the residents at Sunrise of Wilmington. He enjoys spending time with his wife Lori and their five-year-old daughter Chloe, tropical vacations, playing golf, cooking for family and friends in his home, and listening to Jimmy Buffet.

    Here is Brian's meatloaf recipe, which earned him a spot as a finalist in the 2017 Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    White Meatloaf with Mushroom Ragout & Steamed Asparagus

    Serves 10


    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • 1 pound ground chicken breast
    • 1 pound ground pork sausage
    • 4 ounce pasteurized liquid eggs
    • 2 ounce panko bread crumbs
    • 1 ounce BBQ sauce
    • 1 ounce whole milk
    • 3 ounce onion, minced
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ground tri-color pepper corns
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    1. Soak crumbs in egg and milk. 
    2. Mix all ingredients in mixer, place into greased bread pan, and bake to internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 
    3. Let rest and hold at 140 degrees F or higher until ready for service.

    Mushroom ragout:

    • 3 ounce Cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 ounce Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 ounce Oyster mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 each shallot, brunoise
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon oregano, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon marjoram, chopped
    1. Saute all items, deglaze with red wine, and reduce. 
    2. Set aside and reserve for service.

    Steamed asparagus:

    • 2.5 pounds small asparagus
    • 2 tablespoon whole butter
    1. Steam asparagus until tender, and toss with butter. 
    2. Hold at 140 degrees F or higher until ready for service.

    Roasted fingerling potatoes:

    • 2 pound petite fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
    • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
    1. Toss potatoes and olive oil together. 
    2. Lay in a single layer on a sprayed sheet pan. Roast in the oven at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until tender.  
    3. Remove from oven and add parsley. 
    4. Hold at 140 degrees F or higher until ready for service. 

          To Serve: Slice meat loaf into 4 oz. slices. Place fingerling potatoes in the center of the plate and top with meatloaf and ragout. Place the asparagus directly beside.

    We hope you love Brian's recipe as much as our residents do!

    2017 Nutritional Challenge: Stephen Worden's...

    We pride ourselves on providing our residents with delicious meals that are nutritionally sound, and one of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    On Thursday, Nov. 9, Sunrise Senior Living held our fifth annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submitted nutritious recipes, and five finalists traveled to The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods, VA, to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef.

    Stephen Worden of Sunrise of Braintree, MA, is an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator. He received his first culinary training in the U.S. Coast Guard, later graduating from the vocational education program at Fitchburg State University. He also attended graduate studies at the Beringer School for American Chefs under renowned teacher and author Madeleine Kamman, and he completed culinary coursework at La Varenne at the Greenbrier, the New England Culinary Institute, and Johnson and Wales University. 

    Stephen is a ServSafe certified instructor and proctor and was an instructor of culinary arts for 14 years. He has spent 40 years in the culinary industry in a variety of roles, including as the executive chef at country clubs, hotels, resort properties, and restaurants. Stephen has been with Sunrise since 2015, and he currently resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

    Here's the salmon filet recipe which earned Stephen a spot in the 2017 Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    Salmon Filet with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

    Serves 4


    • 4 each, 4 oz. salmon portions
    • ½ cup water
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 1 each bay leaf
    • 2 sprigs thyme
    • 2 sprigs parsley
    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place salmon on a sprayed ½ hotel pan. Pour water, wine, and aromatics over salmon.
    2. Cover with foil and oven poach for 10-12 minutes, or until fish reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Strain and reserve ¼ cup of the poaching liquid. Hold for service.


    • 2 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
    • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (off cob)
    • 1 cup grape or cherry tomato, halved
    • 2 tablespoon basil, chopped
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • ¼ cup fish broth (poaching liquid)
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Optional items:

    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
    1. Heat olive oil in 10-inch sauté pan. Add shallots and cook until fragrant and transparent. 
    2. Add corn and continue to cook 2 minutes. 
    3. Add tomatoes until they start to release their juices. 
    4. Add stock and wine, and reduce volume to half.
    5. Add basil and adjust salt and pepper.
    6. Serve over salmon. If desired, add cream and butter, reduce until thickened, and serve over protein of choice.

    We hope you love Stephen's salmon as much as our residents do!

    2017 Nutritional Challenge: Quinn Hannon's...

    We pride ourselves on providing our residents with delicious meals that are nutritionally sound, and one of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    On Thursday, Nov. 9, Sunrise Senior Living held our fifth annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submitted nutritious recipes, and five finalists traveled to The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods, VA, to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef.

    Meet Quinn Hannon, a contestant from Sunrise on the Scioto in Columbus, OH. As the youngest of four children, Quinn learned early how to be tough and plan for anything. Later in life, he learned that these skills made the culinary arts a natural fit for a career. 

    Quinn started out in the kitchen of several different bar and grill restaurants and became passionate about cooking. He began reading about and experimenting with food, and he eventually attended Johnson & Wales University. Since then, his culinary and leadership styles have evolved, but he has continued to practice his love for teaching others and giving residents an experience to remember.

    Here's Quinn's delicious recipe, which earned him a spot in the 2017 Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    Chicken Osso Bucco with Gremolata and Roasted Vegetable Risotto

    Serves 5

    Chicken osso bucco:

    • 10 chicken legs
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
    • 4 ounce olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 1 medium carrot, ¼ inch dice
    • 1 rib celery, ¼ inch slices
    • 2 tablespoon thyme, chopped
    • 2 cup white wine
    • 2 cup marinara
    • 2 cup chicken stock
    1. Season chicken legs with fresh pepper.
    2. Brown chicken legs in a Dutch oven with oil and set browned chicken aside.
    3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from Dutch oven, and cook vegetables and herbs until tender.
    4. Deglaze with white wine and loosen fond from pan, bring to simmer and reduce wine by half.
    5. Add marinara and stock to Dutch oven, and bring to a boil.
    6. Add reserved chicken legs to liquid, and cook covered at 300 degrees F for 45 min to an hour, or until chicken is tender and has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F or higher for 15 seconds.


    • ½ cup parsley, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
    1. Toss together and set aside for garnish.

    Roasted Vegetable Risotto:

    • 1 medium zucchini seeded and cut in strips
    • 1 medium yellow squash seeded and cut in strips
    • 1/2 red onion cut into petals
    • 1 medium carrot cut into rosettes
    • 1 bunch asparagus cut into pieces
    • 4 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoon thyme, chopped
    1. In hot skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil, then add zucchini and do not move until lightly colored. Then, toss and let sit again. When slightly colored, add to metal mixing bowl with the garlic and thyme.
    2. Repeat coloring process for all vegetables. Toss all vegetables together and cover tightly with saran wrap set aside.
    • 2 ounce olive oil
    • 2 cup Arborio rice
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 4 cup chicken stock
    • 2 ounce heavy cream whipped to medium peaks
    • 3 ounce grated parmesan cheese
    1. Warm oil in sauce pan, add rice and toast until opaque 2-4 min.  Add white wine and stir until adsorbed.
    2. Add hot stock in ½ cup ladles to rice stirring between each until most of the liquid is adsorbed
    3. Continue adding hot stock until rice is creamy and tender.
    4. Add whipped cream, parmesan, and reserved roasted vegetables and fold to mix.
    5. To Serve: Two chicken legs with 2 oz. Braising liquid and 7 oz. roasted vegetable risotto, garnish with Gremolata.

    We hope you enjoy Quinn's recipe as much as our residents do!

    2017 Nutritional Challenge: Nick Napolitano's... We pride ourselves on providing our residents with delicious meals that are nutritionally sound, and one of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. 

    On Thursday, Nov. 9, Sunrise Senior Living held our fifth annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submitted nutritious recipes, and five finalists traveled to The Fairfax at Belvoir Woods, VA, to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef.

    Meet Nick Napolitano, a finalist from Sunrise of Des Peres, MO. Nick has been working in the culinary industry for 13 years, having earned a culinary degree from Forest Park Culinary School and a degree in Restaurant Management from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. Nick joined the team at Sunrise of Des Peres as the Dining Services Coordinator almost six years ago. 

    Nick loves working for Sunrise and knows that residents look forward to meals each day, so it’s important to ensure they have a great experience. He is proud to have introduced “Fancy Fridays” at Sunrise of Des Peres, where items like filet mignon and lobster tails are prepared for residents one Friday each month. This helps residents Live with Anticipation as they look forward to a special occasion each month.

    When Nick isn’t at work, he enjoys spending time with his four kids who range in age from 13 years to three months. He spends many weekends watching their games and just hanging out at home.

    Here's Nick's delicious recipe, which earned him a spot in the 2017 Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge.

    Braised Red Wine Short Ribs with Truffle Roasted Yukons & Asparagus

    Serves 4

    Short Ribs:

    • 2 pounds bone-in short ribs
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
    • 2 carrots, diced
    • 1 cup red wine (Port recommended)
    • 5 cups beef stock (unsalted)
    • 2 tablespoon thyme, chopped
    • 2 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
    1. Seasons ribs with garlic and pepper. Sear ribs in a heated and oiled stock pot until golden brown on each side, then remove ribs from pot.
    2. Add mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) and cook until tender; deglaze pan with red wine.
    3. Add ribs back in to stock pot, and add thyme, garlic, and beef stock.
    4. Cover pot with a lid or tightly with foil, put in preheated oven at 325 degrees F for two-and-a-half to three hours.
    5. Remove pot from oven and strain contents and reserve liquid for service.

    Truffle Potatoes:

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
    • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
    • 4-5 medium-sized Yukon potatoes
    1. Dice potatoes to a medium size and put into a large bowl.
    2. Toss with olive oil, garlic, and pepper.
    3. Lay out evenly on a non-sprayed large sheet pan and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
    4. After done cooking, toss potatoes in while truffle oil.

    Seared Asparagus:

    • 1 pound fresh asparagus
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
    • ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
    • 1 lemon
    1. Heat skillet with oil and add asparagus.
    2. Halfway through cooking, add pepper and garlic.
    3. When asparagus are tender, squeeze lemon over asparagus.
    4. To serve: Plate potatoes in middle of plate, short ribs over potatoes and asparagus on the side; drizzle strained braising liquid over top.

    We hope you love Nick's recipe as much as our residents do!

    Honoring the Dedication of Family Caregivers

    The phrase “family caregiver” means different things to different people. For some, it might conjure an image of a parent caring for a child with a disability. Others might think of a spouse caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s. And then, there is what we consider the more typical family caregiver: an adult child who provides care for an elderly parent.

    In a study titled Caregiving in the U.S., conducted through a partnership between the National Caregivers Alliance and the AARP, researchers took a long, hard look at who this nation’s caregivers are. The researchers examined what duties they perform for loved ones and the challenges they encounter trying to juggle so many important roles in life.

    The results of this research may surprise you.

    Getting to Know Family Caregivers

    In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, here is a snapshot of caregivers and the duties they perform for loved ones.

    • The typical family caregiver is a woman who is 49 years old.
    • Almost one quarter of family caregivers are adults between the ages of 18 and 34. Most are the adult children of a senior, but some are the grandchildren.
    • An average family caregiver devotes almost 25 hours each week to caring for their loved one. They assist with household tasks, personal care, and running errands.
    • Some family caregivers carry an even greater burden: 23 percent provide 40 hours or more of support each week. Researchers refer to these family caregivers as “high hour caregivers.”
    • Six in ten high hour caregivers perform medical or nursing care tasks.
    • An average family caregiver has been providing assistance to their loved one for 4.5 years. Most expect this to continue for at least another five years.
    • On top of their caregiving duties, almost 60 percent of family caregivers work at least part-time.

    Easing the Burden on Family Caregivers

    Juggling work, a family, and the demands of caring for a senior can be mentally and physically exhausting.  According to research from The American Psychological Association, stress is a part of everyday life for a family caregiver. It’s a load that can take a heavy toll on the caregiver’s career, personal health, and happiness.

    Studies show that family caregivers experience a multitude of health issues. The longer the role continues, the greater the number of problems, including:

    • Recurrent headaches
    • Back and neck problems
    • Stomach and digestive issues
    • Higher rates of depression
    • Weakened immune systems
    • More frequent episodes of cold and flu

    What can friends and loved ones do to ease the burden of a family caregiver in their life?

    We have a few suggestions for you to consider.

    1. Offer to Run Errands: Assist with errands. If you will be heading to the post office, drug store, and grocery store Saturday morning, for example, call the caregiver to see what they need from each of those stops. They might say “nothing” because they don’t want to be a bother. Ask again. For family caregivers, there are never enough hours in the day. Eliminating a few errands from their long “To Do” list will probably be a big help.
    2. Give Your Time: Offer to stay with the senior while your friend or family member takes a break. Giving the caregiver a few hours to themselves is probably one of the best gifts you can give them. Even better? Try to do this once or twice each month.
    3. Lend an Ear: Sometimes, family caregivers just need someone to listen. They might want to vent their feelings if siblings aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to helping care for a parent. Or, they could  need someone to hear them work through the challenges of juggling career and caregiving. Offering support can help the caregiver cope with their emotional struggle.
    4. Explore Senior Care Solutions: Family caregivers often recognize they need a break, but don’t have time to explore senior care options. You can help by doing some of the initial research on their behalf. This could mean researching which senior living communities nearby offer memory care for adults with dementia, or exploring what types of respite care services would be a good fit.

    Sunrise Senior Living

    If you are a family caregiver, we have resources designed to help both you and the senior you care for. Go to the Caregiving Support section of our website to learn about initiating important conversations with a senior, addressing caregiver needs, budgeting, and more.

    Paying Tribute to the Greatest Generation on...

    We call them the Greatest Generation. This term was created by renowned newsman Tom Brokaw to describe the generation of people who came of age during a time of great upheaval and change. The Great Depression and World War II shaped them. These austere years were followed by the most prosperous time in the history of our nation. 

    But it all started with the sacrifices this generation made. Whether they headed off to war to defend our country or rationed staple items at home so they could contribute more to the war effort, this is a generation known for their strong work ethic, frugality, and commitment to country.

    In honor of their service and sacrifice, we wanted to share a few ideas you can use to recognize the veterans in your community on Veteran’s Day this Nov. 11.

    4 Ways to Honor Veterans in Your Community

    Honor those who served or are currently serving by:

    1. Volunteering Your Time: It’s no secret that Veterans Affairs hospitals have struggled in recent years. If you are able, donating your time to help veterans and active duty service personnel who are hospitalized can make a big difference. According to the Veteran’s Administration, 75,000 volunteers a year contribute a total of 11 million hours of service to our nation’s veterans. From driving vans that take patients to and from medical appointments to simply providing companionship to those who are hospitalized, there are many ways to get involved. Contact the VA online to learn more.
    2. Joining a Letter Campaign: If you’ve ever watched a small-town parade or attended a local community festival, you’ve likely noticed veterans manning a booth to raise awareness. It might be to remind visitors about those still missing in action from the Vietnam Conflict or about soldiers currently serving the United States. Veterans want us to support and remember their fellow servicemen and women. One way is by writing letters and sending cards to currently deployed soldiers. Operation Gratitude, Adopt a Platoon, A Million Thanks, and Flags Across the Nation are all organizations that can help you connect with soldiers.
    3. Supporting Military Families: Many people don’t realize the sacrifice a family makes when a loved one is deployed. From financial struggles to difficulty managing a home and family alone, the spouses and children of servicemen and women need our support too. The National Military Family Association is a non-profit organization committed to serving military families. You can get involved in a variety of ways, including making a financial contribution, volunteering your time to help a family near you, advocating for family benefits, and more.
    4. Flying Your American Flag: Finally, you can honor our veterans by flying your American flag. Displaying the red, white, and blue sends a signal to our veterans and active duty service personnel that we recognize and appreciate their efforts and sacrifices.

    Volunteer Opportunities at Sunrise

    Sunrise is proud that many members of the Greatest Generation choose to call our communities home. We welcome volunteers who would like to donate their time to help these patriots continue to enjoy active and engaged lives.

    Volunteers can accompany Sunrise residents on community outings, help with life enrichment programs, and teach classes, like computer skills or art projects. Call the community nearest you to learn more!

    Understanding the Aid & Attendance Benefit for...

    Many military veterans and their spouses are unaware of a benefit that can help them with the expenses associated with senior care. If they qualify, a couple may be eligible for as much as $2,127 a month in additional support. For adult children who are trying to help an older parent finance a move to senior living, that can make a big difference.

    The benefit that we are referring to is the Aid and Attendance benefit.

    In honor of National Military Family Appreciation Month, we are sharing information on eligibility and the current benefit amounts.

    Aid & Attendance Eligibility Requirements

    Navigating the Aid and Attendance benefit process can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding eligibility. There are two primary conditions that must be met before the Veteran’s Administration will consider a veteran or their spouse for senior care benefits.

    • Active Duty Service: A veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service to be considered, at least one day of which must have been during an acknowledged period of war. The Veteran’s Administration considers the following wars and conflicts as acknowledged periods of war:
      • World War I (Apr. 6, 1917 – Nov. 11, 1918)
      • World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946)
      • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955)
      • Vietnam era (Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise Aug. 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
      • Gulf War (Aug. 2, 1990 – through a date yet to be determined)
    • Health Status: The next criterion a veteran or their spouse must meet is a healthcare status determination. Currently, the criteria to qualify for senior care assistance is:
      • Age 65 or older, OR
      • Totally and permanently disabled, OR
      • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
      • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
      • Receiving Supplemental Security Income

    If these two requirements are met, the next step is what is called the yearly family income and net worth standard. Congress reviews and sets these each year.

    Aid & Attendance Financial Determination

    The Veteran’s Administration will review each senior’s individual circumstances. Compensation is based on financial assets and income, marital status, and the veteran’s healthcare expenses.

    In 2017, the maximum award for each classification is:

    • Married Veteran: $2,127 per month
    • Married Spouse of Veteran Requires Care: $1,408 per month
    • Single Veteran: $1,794 per month
    • Surviving Spouse: $1,153 per month

    Sunrise Senior Living is Home to Veterans

    Sunrise communities across the country are home to many of our nation’s veterans. We are proud to have the opportunity to serve those who served our country so well.

    If you are trying to help a veteran in your family determine if they are eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, we can help. One of our team members at a community near you can answer your questions and connect with you with additional resources for support. Call today to learn more! 

    Sugar vs. Fat: The Heart Health Debate Rages on

    At Sunrise Senior Living communities, nutrition is an essential part of our commitment to helping older adults live their best life. Partnerships like the one we have with the USDA’s MyPlate program allow us to stay on top of the latest research on senior nutrition and share what we learn with the residents of our communities.

    One topic we continue to explore is the comparison between sugar and fat as they relate to heart disease. Back in the 1980s, adults were encouraged to follow a low-fat diet. Fat made you fat, we were told. Experts believed eliminating the fat in your diet was the best way to keep your heart healthy. What was long overlooked, though, was how much sugar many low-fat foods contained.

    In late 2016, an enlightening new study shed light on what the real danger to your heart might be. Surprisingly, fat wasn’t the only culprit.

    The Sugar vs. Fat Debate Heats Up

    In November of 2016, Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This shocking article revealed a dubious relationship between sugar industry officials and Harvard scientists in 1967.

    According to this investigation, Harvard researchers were compensated to downplay just how much sugar contributed to poor heart health. Because the fading sugar industry was desperate to keep demand for their product high, they paid scientists to overlook the negative impact of sugar. It appears that over the last 50 years, we have been following the advice of bad science when it comes to incorporating sugar and fat in to our daily diet.

    Thanks to the work of Cristin Kearns, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, and two of her colleagues, we now know differently. These three researchers spent many hours tracking the work of an organization called the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF).

    What Kearns found was alarming. Her team discovered that the “study” conducted by SRF was actually nothing more than a research review that claimed to find evidence consuming too much fat would lead to heart disease. It overlooked the fact that sugar was equally as dangerous.

    So where does science stand today in the sugar vs. fat debate?

    While the evidence continues to evolve, what researchers have to say might surprise you.

    Can Healthy Fat Help You Lose Weight?

    Researchers say fat has more calories per gram than carbs or protein. But cutting back on fat often doesn’t translate to weight loss. According to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic, that’s because when we cut fat from our diet, we often replace it with foods high in sugar. That causes blood sugar to spike which fuels fat cells, especially in the belly.

    Healthy fats, by contrast, can keep you feeling full longer. And, they help you avoid spikes in blood sugar. Avoiding those ups and downs can prevent binging on unhealthy comfort foods and treats.

    Healthy fats to eat in moderation include:

    • Walnuts and almonds
    • Peanut butter
    • Wild salmon
    • Flax seed
    • Olive oil and canola oil
    • Avocados
    • Grass-fed beef
    • Coconut
    • Greek yogurt
    • Eggs
    • Dark chocolate

    Recipes from the Heart

    If you need heart healthy recipes to spice up your menu planning, we can help. You can download our Recipes from the Heart cookbooks at no cost. Each one offers recipes that are popular with residents in the Sunrise Senior Living communities across the United States and Canada. 

    Why Older Adults Might Want to Adopt a Senior Pet

    Pets play an important role in many families. They offer friendship, companionship, and unconditional love. For seniors, they can fill a void left behind after the departure of children or the death of a spouse. 

    Having a furry friend to talk to throughout the day and to snuggle up with on the couch in the evening can help combat loneliness. And research shows pets keep seniors healthier longer.

    In honor of National Adopt an Older Pet Month, we explore how pets can help seniors live healthier lives.

    Pets and Seniors: A Happy, Healthy Partnership

    A study conducted at the University of Missouri revealed that seniors who own dogs enjoy better health. This often translates to longer life. The stronger the bond is between the older adult and their four-legged friend, the greater the benefits.

    Researchers say this is because people who feel a strong emotional attachment to their pet are more likely to take good care of them. An older adult will spend time walking their pet and socializing with neighbors, including children, who are attracted to the senior's pet. 

    Most seniors spend time petting and talking with their furry friend. And an older adult is also likely to engage in playful activities with their pet, such as tossing a ball or stick for them to fetch.

    Each of these activities contributes to a healthier pet—and a healthier senior. Petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure. Walking helps with weight management and warding off disease. Lively activity also keeps an older adult from falling in to a sedentary lifestyle, which is known to be just as bad for seniors as smoking.

    If you are helping a senior loved one find the perfect four-legged companion, here are a few things to consider.

    Adopting a Pet Later in Life

    The first thing to think about before adopting a pet is the senior’s budget. Some breeds of cats and dogs are known for having health conditions that will result in higher vet bills. Grooming expenses for long-haired pets can also take a bite out of an older adult’s budget. Make sure it is financially feasible for the senior to add a new member to the family.

    Also think about the space a pet might require. For example, a small dog can make a few laps around the living room on a snowy day to work off excess energy. By contrast, a bigger dog will likely need to go for a walk outside even when the weather is frightful.

    Finally, whether it is a dog or a cat, consider adopting an older pet. While puppies and kittens are fun to watch, their boundless energy might be too much for an older adult. Local shelters typically have a more difficult time finding homes for older animals, so start your search there.

    Pet Friendly Living at Sunrise

    Sunrise communities welcome pets. Your canine or feline companion can move in when you do!  In fact, we believe in the power of paws so much that every Sunrise Senior Living community has a resident cat or dog for residents and families to enjoy. Call the community nearest you to learn more.

    Holiday Travel Tips When a Loved One has...

    The holidays are a hectic time to travel. In some families, the holidays are the one time of year all generations are reunited. And no one wants to miss out on the reunion. If your family’s travel plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah include a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease, preparing ahead of time is the key. 

    Six Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers Traveling During the Holidays

    Here are six tips to help make holiday travel easier for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease:

    1. Time of Day: The hustle and bustle of the holiday travel season can be overwhelming for all of us, but especially for those with memory impairment. Think about the times of day when your loved one is at their best and worst. Then, plan your travels around those times. If they suffer from sundowning, for example, schedule your day so you are done traveling before evening.
    2. TSA PreCheck Screenings: Call the airports you will be traveling through to ask about TSA PreCheck screening requirements. Adults aged 75 and older often qualify for expedited screening. This usually means they won’t have to remove shoes, belts, and other belongings at security. A senior with Alzheimer’s might also qualify for special considerations if you notify the TSA  ahead of time. For example, the TSA might be able to perform the security screenings for you and your loved one together.
    3. Meaningful Activity: The change in environment and all the sitting around might lead to increased stress and agitation for a person living with memory impairment. Planning meaningful activities, such as folding fabric swatches or flipping through a family photo album, might help keep them busy during long drive times and airport delays.
    4. Pack for an Emergency: None of us want to think a crisis will occur during a holiday getaway, but it’s better to be prepared just in case. Before you leave home, make sure you have your senior loved one’s important medical information with you. You can do this by making copies of their health file or by using an app on your cell phone, such as Health Tracker or CareZone, to save medical information for easy access.
    5. GPS Tracking: One fear shared by many families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s is wandering. A change in environment can increase agitation, which in turn increases the risk for wandering. If you become separated from your loved one in a busy airport or at a roadside travel plaza, it can be distressing for everyone involved. GPS technologies thatuse cellular service can offer you peace of mind. Pendants, watches, and even shoes with GPS in the soles can help you track your loved one’s location in real time.
    6. Contact Cards: While you don’t want to diminish your senior loved one’s dignity, it is important that people know how to contact you if the two of you become separated during holiday travel. An easy way to ensure that is to create simple emergency contact cards. Put your name and contact information on a card, along with contact information for one or two additional trusted friends and family members. Place these cards in your senior family member’s shirt pocket, travel bag, wallet, and purse.

    Resources for Traveling with an Adult Who has Dementia

    The Alzheimer’s Association has additional resources for families who will be traveling with a senior who has dementia. You will find more detailed information on air travel, packing tips, and planning.

    For some seniors with dementia, traveling just isn’t a safe idea. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and miss family holiday celebrations.

    The holidays are a festive time of year in Sunrise Senior Living communities and a great time for a short-term respite stay. Your loved one can participate in all of the programs and activities our long-term memory care residents enjoy while also receiving the care and support they need.

    Call the Sunrise community nearest you to learn more about holiday respite for a senior with Alzheimer’s.

    5 Ways Seniors Can Stay Young at Heart

    You’re only as old as you feel. Think young, stay young. Age is only a number. 

    We’ve probably all heard some form of these clichés before. But research shows these phrases might be more than just platitudes. There may just be some truth behind them.

    Researchers at University College London explored the issue and uncovered a fascinating result: people who thought of themselves as younger actually lived longer!

    Attitude and Aging

    The study included nearly 6,500 men and women with an average age of 66.

    Participants were first asked, “How old do you feel you are?” Their replies were:

    • 70 percent felt three or more years younger than their actual age.
    • 25 percent felt close to their actual age.
    •  5 percent felt more than one year older than their actual age.

    Eight years after being asked that initial question, researchers followed up to determine each participant’s status.  The first group, which had indicated that they felt younger than their actual age, had a lower mortality rate than the other two groups!

    So it just might be that staying young at heart helps you live a longer life.

    5 Ways to Help Seniors Stay Young at Heart

    Here are five steps you can take to feel younger than your calendar age:

    1. Be Positive: Having an optimistic outlook can help you through challenging times while also building good coping skills. Being able to cope with life’s ups and downs without letting stress overwhelm you is an important skill to develop and maintain. Meditation and yoga are two practices that might help you learn to think more positively.
    2. Forget about the Number: Experts say that not letting  your calendar age dictate what you do and how you live is another key to successful aging. Some older adults withdraw from physical activities when they hit certain age milestones, for example, because they think they are too old for them. Or they give up on eating healthy because they think it doesn’t matter anymore. Keep focusing on wellness, and forget about how old your driver’s license says you are.
    3. Stay Active: Engaging in fitness activities and not becoming overly sedentary can also help you age well. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle is now considered to be as dangerous for your long-term health as smoking! If you don’t currently follow an exercise program, speak with your primary care physician for advice. Swimming, walking, Pilates, bike riding, and tai chi might be activities to consider.
    4. Keep Learning: Another avenue for staying young in mind and spirit is to keep learning. Tackle new hobbies. Study a foreign language. Take a guitar class. Learning keeps your mind challenged while also nurturing the spirit. “Use it or lose it” is a phrase healthcare professionals sometimes use to encourage older adults to keep their minds engaged with life.
    5. Live With Purpose: Finally, living a purposeful life helps you stay young at heart. It’s easy to fall into a trap of relying on television for entertainment after you retire.. Instead, find activities that help you feel productive. Many older adults find volunteer work gives them meaning and purpose. And new research shows volunteering might help seniors live longer, healthier lives.

    Independent Living at Sunrise

    Independent Living residents at Sunrise enjoy an active lifestyle free from the burdens of home ownership. No more mowing the lawn on hot summer days or shoveling snow on frigid ones. Call us today to learn more!

    6 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk for a...

    The term “stroke” refers to the death of brain cells. The condition occurs as a result of a blockage of oxygen to the brain. Strokes affect people of all ages, but they are far more prevalent in those over the age of 65. Seniors often live with a greater number of risk factors for strokes, such as high cholesterol, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

    Though some strokes are mild and the senior may recover completely, others are devastating and lead to permanent disability and even death. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in this country. And while factors such as genetics, ethnicity, and gender can play a role, estimates are that as much as 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented.

    In honor of World Stroke Day on Oct. 29, we are sharing the steps you can take to lower your risk and help your senior loved ones do the same.

    Reducing a Senior’s Risk for Stroke

    1. Eat well: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet might help you lower your stroke risk. Fill your plate with foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins. Beans, nuts, and whole grains can also help.
    2. Lower sodium intake: Talk with your physician about how much sodium you or a senior loved one should be consuming each day. In many cases, sodium intake should be limited to 1500 mg a day to avoid high blood pressure or pre-hypertension. Avoid overly processed foods and fast food restaurants that are high in sodium and calories.
    3. Maintain a healthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight might help you reduce the odds of experiencing a stroke. People who are overweight increase their risk for a stroke by 22 percent. Those who are considered clinically obese are 64 percent more likely to have a stroke.
    4. Stop smoking: Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke as their non-smoking peers. And it’s never too late to quit. Research shows that smokers who quit even at age 65 add up to 3.4 more years to their life. After one year of a smoke-free lifestyle, the added risk of stroke is effectively eliminated.  It’s also important to note that secondhand smoke can increase the risk for a stroke.
    5. Alcohol in moderation: The American Stroke Association recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one per day for women.
    6. Stay active: We now know that a sedentary lifestyle can be almost as dangerous for seniors as smoking. Staying active and avoiding sitting for long periods of time may help you prevent a stroke. Talk with your primary care doctor for their recommendation about what forms of exercise and how much you should engage in each week.

    We hope this information helps you and the seniors in your life find ways to lower your risk for a stroke.

    Senior Eats at Sunrise

    At Sunrise Senior Living, we know eating healthy requires thoughtful planning. And adding new recipes on a regular basis can help you avoid eating the same boring food plans each week.

    In Senior Eats, you will find tips and recipes to help seniors eat a well-balanced diet each day. From turkey and quinoa stuffed peppers to seared salmon with sweet potatoes, the choices are both delicious and nutritious!

    How to Include a Grandparent in Your Halloween...

    In today’s society, grandparents are often separated from their grandchildren by long distances. A senior’s adult children may move away to pursue career opportunities, get married, and begin raising a family far from their childhood home. 

    Even if grandkids live nearby, school schedules and after-school activities can keep families moving at a frantic pace. It makes spending time with the older generation tough.

    But seniors still play a vital role in shaping young lives. From acting as the family’s historian to being a source of unconditional love and support, relationships that cross the generations are important.

    Bridging the Intergenerational Gap

    New research indicates that when younger generations don’t have enough opportunities to connect with grandparents and other family elders, they are more likely to view aging through a negative lens. They may believe the stereotypes about old age and fear growing older and watching their parents age.

    Finding ways to help bridge the generation gap is one way to prevent those fears and concerns from taking root in younger family members. Nontraditional holidays like Halloween provide an ideal opportunity to connect and bond across generations.

    Intergenerational Halloween Ideas

    What can you do to involve a grandparent in your children’s Halloween plans? Especially if they live far from your family?

    We have a few ideas:

    • Costume Planning: Involve a grandparent in selecting a Halloween costume. If they can’t be there to shop with you in person, consider using video chat services like Skype or FaceTime to include them. If a grandmother or grandfather has good sewing skills, they might want to help create the costume.
    • Trick-or-Treat: If a grandparent can’t tag along while your neighborhood’s trick-or-treat, take the party to them. For example, if a parent lives an assisted living community, take the kids to the Halloween event there. They are typically held on a day other than Halloween to allow families to participate in both.
    • Ghost Stories and S’mores: A crisp fall evening can be a great time for a family night of ghost stories and s’mores, even if the celebration has to be shared via Skype. Grandparents can tell their favorite spooky stories, as can the children.
    • Halloween Cookie Baking: Baking Halloween cookies is another fun and tasty Halloween event several generations of your family can enjoy together. You can purchase inexpensive cookie cutters in shapes like a witch’s hat, a ghost, a pumpkin, or a bat. Kids can help their grandparent roll out the cookies in fun shapes, then bake and frost them.

    Enriching Seniors Lives at Sunrise

    Life enrichment is a priority for the entire team at Sunrise Senior Living. We share a commitment to helping each of our residents live every day with purpose. Learn more about our 8 Signature Programs and schedule a visit to a Sunrise community near you!

    Halloween Safety When a Senior Loved One Has...

    Each October, families in communities across the country celebrate Halloween. Costumes, scary decorations, and trick-or-treat are each a part of this night of ghouls and goblins. But for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, the night can present safety challenges.

    Ghosts, skeletons and zombies are fun Halloween sights for most of us. But scary celebrations can confuse and agitate people who have dementia. Loved ones with mid to late-stage dementia need to be protected from activities and decorations that might be frightening for them.

    Safely Celebrating Halloween when a Senior has Dementia

    Here are some tips to help you keep a senior with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia safe this Halloween.

    Pay attention to Halloween decorations

    While your family might have a tradition of going all out to decorate at Halloween, know that decorations can be confusing for people with dementia. They may have a hard time distinguishing make-believe coffins, skeletons, and ghosts from reality. A house full of skulls and fake eyeballs might get your family in the Halloween spirit, but they can easily create agitation and aggression in an older adult with Alzheimer’s.

    Decorations that scream, howl, pop up from the ground, or fall from the ceiling can trigger episodes of wandering in seniors with Alzheimer’s. Consider limiting decorations to pumpkins and cornstalks and items that avoid the fear factor this year.

    Be realistic about how much a loved one with dementia can safely handle

    Halloween can provide your family with many opportunities for engaging in intergenerational activities together. But it is important to be mindful of how much your loved one can realistically handle.

    While packing treat bags for trick-or-treaters might be a fun activity, carving a pumpkin might not be very safe. Instead, consider painting your pumpkins this year. You can download no carve pumpkin templates to use.

    Protect a senior with Alzheimer’s when out and about in public near Halloween

    As is true of most holidays, retail stores and businesses start the celebration early. This often means Halloween decorations go up in places such as the dentist’s office, the grocery store and even the bank. As you and your senior loved one run errands, be mindful of Halloween décor. While you might easily look past it, your loved one might not.

    Plan ahead for Halloween night activities in your own neighborhood

    Halloween night can be especially confusing and disorienting for a senior who has dementia. The costumes, noise, and confusion of having trick-or-treaters visit your home might cause anxiety and agitation for your loved one.

    If your house will be a stop on the neighborhood’s trick-or-treat route, see if a loved one is available to entertain your family member in another area of the home during those hours.

    Have soothing music available to play, as well as favorite snacks and beverages available. It might help to have busy work and projects to keep the senior preoccupied. A basket of towels to fold and refold and a deck of cards to sort and resort are two examples.

    You can visit the Alzheimer’s Association Holidays and Alzheimer’s Families resource page to learn more about Halloween safety for seniors with dementia.

    Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living

    Sunrise Senior Living has a proud history of caring for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. From our use of reminiscence therapy to safe, comfortable environments, no detail is overlooked.

    If you are working to ensure a loved one lives their best quality of life despite the disease, a Sunrise community might be the solution. Call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour. One of our dementia care experts will be happy to show you around and answer your questions about caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s disease.

    What Role Do Respiratory Therapists Play in...

    While many people are aware of the role physical therapists play in older adults’ lives, the job of a respiratory therapist isn’t always as clear. In honor of National Respiratory Care Week, we want to help seniors and their families learn a little more about this important form of therapy.

    From helping older adults cope with chronic illnesses, like emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), to assisting a senior who is recovering from pneumonia, here’s how respiratory therapists play a vital role in healthy aging.

    What is Respiratory Therapy?

    Respiratory therapists are a group of healthcare professionals who help people of all ages with issues related to breathing. There are two levels of respiratory therapists:

    • Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT): CRTs complete either a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year baccalaureate degree program at an accredited college. After graduation, they are required to successfully pass a national written examination to earn their credentials.
    • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT): After a respiratory therapist has successfully passed the written exam, they are eligible to take a national voluntary clinical simulation examination that leads to the highest accreditation level, a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

    You will find respiratory therapists working in a wide variety of locations including:

    • A hospital emergency room, assisting patients with life-saving breathing treatments after problems such as an asthma attack or automobile accident.
    • An operating room, monitoring a patient’s breathing as they undergo a surgical procedure.
    • A physician’s office, conducting testing to evaluate a patient for a pulmonary-related illness, such as asthma or pulmonary fibrosis.
    • An inpatient rehabilitation center, providing treatment to a senior who has a chronic health condition or is recovering from a short-term medical crisis.

    Respiratory Therapists and Seniors

    Because older adults are more likely to live with chronic health conditions, they are a population respiratory therapists often provide assistance to. Older adults with weaker immune systems are also at higher risk for short-term illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

    A few of the diseases that often require intervention by a respiratory therapist are:

    • Emphysema
    • COPD
    • Lung cancer
    • Asthma
    • Bronchitis
    • Pneumonia
    • Interstitial Lung Diseases
    • Sleep apnea
    • Cardiac disease
    • Chest trauma
    • Cystic fibrosis

    Common Causes of Respiratory Diseases

    What can you do to protect your lungs and to help your senior loved one do the same?

    Here are a few suggestions from the American Lung Association:

    • If you smoke, stop. Smoking is one of the leading causes of respiratory-related illnesses.
    • Avoid secondhand smoke. Many older adults who have respiratory illnesses live with or previously lived in a home with a smoker. Research shows secondhand smoke can be almost as deadly as smoking.
    • Prevent infections from developing by getting your flu shot every year and washing your hands frequently.
    • Exercise regularly. It’s one of the best ways to improve your lung capacity.
    • Avoid indoor and outdoor pollutants, such as strong chemicals in household cleaners or weed killer.
    • Have your home and your senior loved one’s home checked for radon. According to the EPA, prolonged exposure to radon gas may cause lung cancer.

    Living Well at Sunrise

    Live with Action is one of the 8 Signature Programs at Sunrise Senior Living. Because we understand how important physical activity is to aging well and maintaining healthy lungs, we make that easier for residents to do each day. From Chair Yoga to Tai Chi, the options for staying active are plentiful.

    We hope you will take a minute to enjoy this video of our Live with Action program. It is just one example of the vibrant life residents enjoy every day at Sunrise!

    How to Nurture the Spirit During Retirement Years

    If you’ve felt a growing desire to explore your spiritual side as you’ve grown older, you’re not alone. According to a Gallup poll, more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 say that nurturing their spirit or being part of a religious organization is very important to them. Both of these practices can help older adults navigate their way through traumatic events.  

    In honor of October’s designation as National Emotional Wellness Month, we’re sharing a few ideas for activities that keep the mind and spirit strong.

    Creating an Emotional Wellness Plan

    Attendees at the 1971 White House Conference on Aging came up with an official definition of spirituality. They described it as, “the basic value around which all other values are focused.” When the spirit is healthy, the mind can be peaceful and strong as well.

    So what can older adults do to nurture and protect their emotional wellness?

    Here are some suggestions:

    • Wellness activities: Quieting the mind can be difficult, especially during a health crisis or after the loss of a loved one. Activities known for their ability to calm and soothe the soul are meditation, walking, swimming, and yoga. For older adults, chair yoga can be a safe way to reap the rewards of yoga without the risk of injury. As with any new form of exercise, talk with your primary care physician before starting.
    • Self-expression: Finding nonverbal ways to express your feelings and struggles can also help your emotional health. Creative art classes, journaling, music, and even dancing are great avenues to consider. Many local libraries, community education programs, and senior centers offer classes for seniors at nominal fees.
    • Legacy: As we age, many of us find our thoughts turning to our legacy. How will we be remembered? What mark will we leave on the world? Will there be anyone left who knows the family’s history and traditions? Engaging in activities such as writing an autobiography or documenting the family’s genealogy can help answer these questions. A fun intergenerational way to memorialize your history and legacy is by creating a video with several generations of the family. Younger generations can ask questions about your life and the family’s traditions for you to answer. You can document and preserve the whole conversation on video.
    • Gardening: Connecting with nature is another activity known to have mental health benefits. Gardening has been shown to help even seniors with Alzheimer’s disease manage anxiety and lift the spirit. Additionally, garden activities can be adapted for seniors who have mobility issues or other health conditions that making digging in the dirt more challenging. Raised flower beds and container gardens are two to explore.
    • Volunteering: Finding meaning and purpose in life after you retire and the kids are grown and gone is important. And it’s something seniors often struggle with. Volunteering your time and talent on behalf of a charitable organization might be the solution. Research shows among the many benefits of volunteer work is a longer, healthier life. Your local United Way or Area Agency on Aging are two organizations that can likely help you connect with a volunteer opportunity near you.

    Your Day, Your Way at Sunrise Senior Living

    At Sunrise, we offer 8 Activity Programs designed to help every resident live with purpose. From strength training to book clubs, art programs and music, our life enrichment calendar offers a robust variety of daily options.

    We’d like to extend an invitation to you and your senior loved one to participate in a program of your choice at your convenience. Call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to make a reservation!

    How Art Therapy Benefits Adults with Alzheimer's

    Managing troubling behaviors when a senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy. Part of the struggle for family caregivers is the roller coaster of emotions the disease creates. Some days are good, and family members feel successful. But there are other days when a loved one’s Alzheimer’s-related aggression, agitation, and angry outbursts feel overwhelming.

    While researchers aren’t completely sure what causes these highs and lows, many hypothesize that it’s related to difficulty communicating. Alzheimer’s often robs adults of their verbal skills as the disease progresses.

    Finding creative ways to allow adults with Alzheimer’s to express themselves might be the key. And art therapy is one such way.

    Art Therapy and Adults with Alzheimer’s

    Instead of struggling through a traditional conversation that can be stressful for an adult with Alzheimer’s, art allows family caregivers and the senior to use nonverbal communication. Even an adult with advanced Alzheimer’s can use creativity to express themselves. Whether they are cheerful, dispirited, or angry, art provides the older adult with a way to share their emotions in more productive ways.

    Other benefits of art therapy for people with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia include:

    ●     Concentration skills: Art therapy helps older adults quiet their mind and focus. The physical damage that Alzheimer’s causes to the body makes this difficult to do. But creative arts stimulate different areas of the brain, utilizing cognitive abilities that are still functioning well.

    ●     Intergenerational activity: Art projects also enable several generations to bond and spend time together. If a grandparent has Alzheimer’s, creating hands-on projects with a grandchild can lift their spirits. It also allows the senior to stay actively engaged in loved ones’ lives.

    Incorporating Art Therapy into a Senior’s Day

    Many senior communities, including Sunrise Senior Living, include the creative arts in everyday life. Activities are designed to help older adults, including those with memory loss, enjoy meaningful, productive days.

    There are many ways you can incorporate these types of activities at home when you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Here are a few easy and inexpensive ideas to try:

    ●     Craft Store Supplies: Your local craft store can be a great source of inspiration. You can pick up all-inclusive kits to create a variety of projects, ranging from stepping stones to painted pottery. Or you can buy a canvas, paint, and paint brushes and let your loved one create their own art.

    ●     Art for Alzheimer’s: As our country’s awareness about Alzheimer’s grows, so too do the number of opportunities for life enrichment. Some Alzheimer’s Association day centers and art museums offer art classes, many of which are for the caregiver and senior to enjoy together.

    ●     Photo Albums/Scrapbook: While many people with Alzheimer’s can’t remember recent events, they may still enjoy vivid memories of the past. One way to honor those memories might be to create a photo album or scrapbook together. You can print or copy favorite family photos and use them to create a memory book. Brightly colored tape and themed stickers from the craft store can further enhance each page.

    Dementia Care at Sunrise Senior Living

    Sunrise Senior Living’s Memory Care Services are designed to help older adults with dementia enjoy meaningful days despite their disease. From art therapy to secure neighborhoods, we are proud of the work we do on behalf of people with memory loss.

    We’d love an opportunity to show you around and help you learn more. Use our Contact Form to request a call from one of the Sunrise Memory Care experts today!

    Articles last updated at Jan 16, 2018 06:06:40am.
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