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Creating a Safer Bathroom for a Senior Loved One The smallest room in the house can be one of the most dangerous for seniors. Every year, an estimated 235,000 people end up in the emergency room due to injuries caused by an accident in the bathroom. Older adults are more likely to suffer a serious injury than younger adults, and over 81 percent of injuries are caused by falls.

What can you do to help a senior in your life avoid a mishap in the bathroom? 

We have a few suggestions you might find useful in evaluating and modifying an older loved one’s bathroom.

6 Tips for Creating a Safer Bathroom for a Senior 

1. Install a raised toilet seat.

The majority of accidents and falls in the bathroom occur around the toilet. Seniors often have balance issues or a lack of strength, making it more difficult to get up and down from the toilet seat. You can decrease their risk for a fall by installing a raised toilet seat. Seats with handles on each side are usually best because they give the senior something sturdy to hold on to.

2. Focus on tub and shower safety. 

Stepping in to and out of the bath tub or shower are also dangerous tasks for older adults. Keep your loved one safer by installing a step-free shower stall or hiring a contractor to modify an existing bathtub. Make sure there are non-skid mats on the shower or tub floor. You can also purchase a shower chair so the older adult can shower from a seated position.

3. Replace towel bars with sturdy grab bars. 

If a senior has mobility problems or balance issues, they might be using existing towel bars for stability while walking around the bathroom. Over time, these bars can become less sturdy and cause the senior to fall. To avoid that hazard, remove towel bars in the bathroom and have sturdy grab bars installed. Unlike towel bars, properly installed grab bars are designed to support the weight of an adult.

4. Use good lighting and a night light.

Poor lighting and light switches that are difficult to reach can increase the risk of falling. Vision issues common with advancing age—like cataracts and glaucoma—can make rooms appear even darker.  

Assess your loved one’s bathroom for good lighting, and upgrade it if necessary. You should also consider installing motion-activated lights in the bathroom and along the path from the bedroom to the bathroom.

5. Skid-proof flooring

Tile floors and throw rugs can both be hazardous in the bathroom. Wet feet on slippery floors can lead to injuries, and throw rugs are easy to trip on. 

Encourage your loved one to pack up the bathroom rugs or trade them for ones with non-skid backing. Also consider talking with a flooring expert for advice on skid-proof flooring like bamboo or cork. While it might be a bit of a financial investment, it can keep a senior safer.

6. Waterproof emergency call pendant

Our final tip is to purchase a waterproof emergency call pendant for your loved one to wear, especially while they are in the shower. In the event they do have an accident, the pendant makes it easier to call for help.

Design and Safety Meet 

We know older adults want their home to be comfortable and safe without sacrificing style. It’s why we created the Sunrise Home Design Guide. Inside, you will find tips on topics such as arranging furniture to create an environment that accommodates vision loss, making smart lighting choices, and much more.

What is Memory Care?

When a senior you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, creating a plan that meets their needs is important. Primary care doctors often suggest that families begin investigating memory care programs.

But for many people, memory care is an unfamiliar term. We thought it would be helpful to explain what a memory care program is and how it differs from traditional assisted living. 

What Does the Term “Memory Care” Mean?

In broad terms, memory care is a type of long-term care dedicated to meeting the unique needs of older adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. Memory care programs are typically part of an assisted living community, but there are also standalone communities exclusively dedicated to adults with some form of dementia.

Utilizing specially designed living spaces and programming, memory care neighborhoods aim to keep seniors with memory loss safe while also enabling them to enjoy their best quality of life. At Sunrise, memory care is rooted in getting to know each resident in order to provide personalized care.

  • The senior’s physician works with memory care team members to create an individual care plan. The plan is designed to meet the resident’s current needs and to look toward what they may require in the future. At Sunrise, this process begins before the senior even moves in.
  • Caregivers receive special ongoing training to learn the best practices for communicating with and supporting residents who have memory loss.

Older adults in a memory care program also benefit from the following:

  • Dedicated dining: Adults with dementia can struggle to eat independently. A noisy or busy environment can make focusing on food difficult, loss of hand-eye coordination can make using kitchen utensils challenging, and vision problems can make it tough to distinguish food on the plate. This all can lead to poor nutrition and weight loss. Dining programs in a memory care unit work around these challenges to support mealtime success and encourage good nutrition.

  • Life enrichment: Life enrichment activities and programs are designed to allow those with memory problems to be and feel productive and successful. At Sunrise, each Reminiscence resident is assigned a life enrichment manager (LEM), who is responsible for creating a care plan based on the resident’s personal preferences. A calendar of daily events might include repetitive tasks known to soothe agitation, art or music therapy to help residents connect with memories and experience joy, and physical activity that promotes better sleep quality. Most memory care units also have a secure outdoor area for residents to safely enjoy the fresh air and participate in activities such as birdwatching or gardening.

  • Family support: A loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia can have a significant impact on everyone who loves them, so memory care programs also focus on family support. From one-on-one family meetings to support groups that provide families with an opportunity to voice their fears, sadness, and frustration, memory care programs help families cope with physically and emotionally challenging issues.

Memory Care at Sunrise

We know dementia is a disease that can leave families with many questions. Rita Altman, senior vice president of Memory Care & Program Services at Sunrise Senior Living, has advice on how to take care of yourself, navigate family dynamics, and learn whether long-term senior living might be an option for your loved one. Listen to The Senior Caregiver podcast to learn more.

5 Tips to Start the Search for Senior Living

Navigating the maze of senior care options can be confusing. The wide variety of choices gives families more options for a senior loved one’s care than ever before, but understanding the differences between them and which one might be the best fit can be overwhelming.

We have a few suggestions on how to conduct your search so you feel confident that you are making an informed choice.

5 Tips to Help in the Search for a Senior Living Community

  1. Level of care: Begin by taking an honest look at what your loved one needs assistance with and creating a list. This can be emotionally challenging. Adult children and other family members often deny how much care a loved one requires because they don’t want to admit that a loved one is slowing down or experiencing health problems. Our four-minute care questionnaire can help you take an objective look at your loved one’s needs and match you with suggestions for the best types of care.
  2. Word of mouth: Once you have a better idea about what kind of care you need, ask for advice and input from people you know and trust. Do you have family, friends, or colleagues who have recently been through this process? Ask them for their honest insight on how happy they are with the care provider they chose.
  3. Online search: Visit each of the senior care providers you are considering online. You can gain a better understanding of their philosophy of care, experience, and expertise by spending time on their website. Many have checklists, guides, and other tools designed to help you with important details such as financing, downsizing, and talking about care with a senior.
  4. Personal visits: Making several in-person visits to the communities you are considering is a must. Nothing can replace this important step in the search process. Make a list of questions to ask before you go, and be certain to document the answers to them and take good notes during your tour.  Also be sure to visit the community at different times and on different days, including on the weekend. 
  5. Schedule a short-term respite stay: Respite care is often utilized to support the family caregiver. However, it can also let your senior loved one give a community a trial run. Respite guests receive the same services, amenities, and personal care as long-term residents. One piece of advice is to make sure the stay is long enough—at least two weeks, and maybe even longer—to objectively evaluate the community.

The Senior Caregiver Podcast

Ready to learn more about how to search for senior living?

In this episode of The Senior Caregiver podcast, Kelly Myers, senior vice president of Sales, answers frequently asked questions and shares tips on making the most of your search.

Short-Term Support: How to Interview In-Home...

The ideal time to search for a senior living community is before the need becomes urgent. This gives you the time you need to tour several communities, ask questions, and make an informed choice.

When a senior loved one has a sudden change in health or another type of emergency, however, you might need a short-term solution to keep your loved one safe while working on a long-term plan. In-home care can be a short-term solution to utilize while exploring local senior living communities and preparing for a move.

Caregivers from a home care agency can help with personal care, light housekeeping, and even meal preparations. In the short term, it might be just the right amount of support to keep a senior safe.

What should you ask an in-home care provider you are considering hiring?

We have a list of questions you might find useful.

Interviewing an In-Home Care Provider for Short-Term Assistance

1. Are caregivers employees of the agency or contract workers?

Some home care agencies rely solely on contract workers. This can keep costs lower, but it also may mean that your family member will have many different caregivers coming in and out of their home.

2. How does the agency screen employees? Are they bonded?

When considering someone who will be coming into a senior loved one’s home, it’s vital to understand how employees are screened and what type of background checks are conducted. These caregivers will have access to personal information, prescription medications, valuables in the home, and more.

Ask the agency how their caregivers are screened when they are hired and how they are supervised moving forward. Also make sure to ask if the agency bonds its caregivers and how they handle situations where something of value to the senior goes missing.

3. Can you meet the caregivers ahead of time?

It’s important to find a caregiver your older family member feels comfortable inviting into their home. Ask the agency if you can arrange for your family to meet the team member who will be the primary caregiver for your loved one before you make a commitment to using their services. Many agencies offer this as a courtesy to families.

4. What is the agency’s caregiver turnover rate?

Caring for older adults can be emotionally and physically exhausting. That is true for both professional and family caregivers. As a result, the senior care industry has a higher turnover rate than other types of employment. A turnover rate greater than 50 percent, however, might be a sign the home care agency has some internal challenges.

5. What happens when a caregiver is ill or has their own emergency?

Professional caregivers get sick and have emergencies, too. Make sure you ask what the procedure is when this happens.

6. How does the agency communicate with you?

Communication is another important area to explore. Ask the agency how they keep in touch with you and how often they will provide updates. Some agencies have their own cell phone apps that update family members in real time after a visit. Also inquire about the process for alerting you if something needs to be addressed immediately.

7. What does the home care agency’s training program entail?

The technology and resources available for in-home care are constantly advancing. You’ll want to make sure the agency you choose stays current with emerging best practices so your senior loved one receives the best possible care.

8. Does the agency have a minimum hour requirement?

  It isn’t uncommon for home care agencies to have minimum hour requirements. Sometimes it is a per-visit minimum, and other times it is a weekly or monthly minimum. Be sure you understand what the agency’s  practices are. 

      9. Is a service contract required?

     Most agencies require a contract for service. Ask to see a copy of it so you have time to review it before you make any commitment.

Finally, remember to check the agency’s references and read online reviews. It will give you good insight on what families have to say about the agency’s care and customer service. 

Respite Care as a Trial Stay

Another option to consider is short-term respite. Your senior loved one can stay at a local assisted living community for a few weeks to see how they like it without making a commitment. They’ll enjoy the same services and support as long-term residents. Call the community nearest you to learn more about respite care at Sunrise!

Can You Deduct Senior Care Expenses on Your Taxes?

Tax season can be tricky for anyone. For seniors and their families, one potential source of confusion is determining who can—and who can’t—deduct senior care expenses on their taxes.

Some families aren’t even aware there is a tax deduction available, and others find the process too confusing to navigate. Families often ask if there is an easy way to figure out if they are eligible for a tax deduction and how much they might be able to deduct.

Much of the confusion stems from trying to determine a) what portion of a senior’s monthly fees are considered to be medical care and b) if a senior loved one meets the criteria to be considered a dependent.

There isn’t a universal answer to either of those questions. We can, however, point you to a few sections of the tax code you can read to learn more.

Senior Care Expenses and Tax Deductions

Being able to deduct some expenses can help families who are struggling to create a budget for financing senior care, so it’s a good idea to learn all that you can. There are two different IRS publications that discuss medical expenses and dependent status as they relate to deducting senior care expenses:

  • IRS Tax Publication 502: Here you will find the IRS rules regarding medical and dental expenses. You can read this section of the tax code to better understand what costs the IRS considers to be medical care. It will also help you calculate whether or not the financial support you give your loved one meets the standard for a “qualifying relative” so you can claim them as a tax deduction.
  • IRS Tax Publication 503: This publication covers senior care tax-related issues families need to be aware of, including the criteria that must be met to claim a tax deduction and what you can deduct for a spouse’s medical care.

Because senior care tax deductions are so complicated, it is generally best to seek the advice of an accountant or financial planner who has experience in the aging services industry.

Financing Senior Care for a Loved One

There are other avenues for financing senior care that older adults and their families might not be aware of:

  • Veterans benefits
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Bridge loans
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Life-settlement funding

Team members at each of the Sunrise Senior Living communities across the country can walk you through these options in greater detail. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to set up a time to visit and learn more.

Protecting Your Health While Caring for a Loved... Family caregivers commonly make their senior loved one’s needs a high priority. Caring for the older adult’s health and well-being can consume a large part of a caregiver’s day. As the senior’s needs increase, caregivers may experience increasingly high levels of stress and often begin to neglect their own health.While putting the senior first is noble, it can cause the caregiver to suffer a health crisis of their own. Adopting healthy habits might seem like too much work when time is short, but the payoff is a healthier caregiver who is better equipped for the role.

5 Healthy Self-Care Habits for Family Caregivers

Here are five steps family caregivers can take to stay healthy:

  1. Eat a balanced diet: A well-balanced diet is the foundation for maintaining good health. While the stress of caring for a loved one might make you want to reach for sugary or salty comfort foods, try to do so only in moderation. Plan, prepare, and freeze healthy meals a week or two at a time. If your senior loved one is able to help, consider including them in the process, whether through researching new recipes or providing hands-on help with cooking.
  2. Exercise: Physical activity is another cornerstone of a healthy caregiver lifestyle. Walking, swimming, yoga, and Pilates are all forms of exercise that also help to reduce stress. You might find ideas for fitness activities you and your loved one can do together at Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign for seniors developed by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging. 
  3. Seek preventative health care: Busy caregivers might be tempted to skip or delay important health screenings and tests of their own. An annual physical, vaccinations, mammograms, and cholesterol testing are preventative health practices that can catch small problems before they become big ones.
  4. Laugh: Enjoying a good laugh with friends and family is a great way to reduce caregiver stress. That’s because laughter reduces the stress hormone cortisol while also increasing the feel-good chemical dopamine. Whether it is a monthly night out with friends or a funny TV show, try to find ways to laugh often.
  5. Ask for help: Caregivers are often reluctant to seek or accept help. Give yourself permission to do both. Taking a break should be a routine part of your caregiving plan. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have. That means if you become sick or burned out, you won’t be able to care for your loved one at all. 
Respite Care at Sunrise 

If you’re getting worn out by the demands of caregiving, you might need a few days to yourself. Whether it is to take a short vacation or just to enjoy a pedicure or massage, a short-term stay at a senior living community may be your solution and in the long run will strengthen your ability to be a good caregiver. Learn about respite care at Sunrise to see how we can help.

Can a Healthy Diet Help You Sleep Better?

Sleep problems are a common difficulty among seniors. Some have trouble getting to sleep, while others say they just can’t stay asleep.

Studies show these issues can be linked to a variety of health conditions ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure. However, sleep experts can have trouble determining if the senior’s health condition causes the sleep problems, or if the disrupted sleep cycles lead to health problems.

The Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania tackled the issue. Researchers there investigated potential influences on a senior’s ability to get a full night of quality sleep—one of which was a healthy diet.

Nutrition, Sleep, and Seniors

Researchers found an interesting potential relationship between nutrition and sleep among seniors. Their investigation seems to show that poor-quality sleep or a lack of sleep can affect the food choices we make. When we are feeling tired and weary, we are more likely to reach for comfort foods that aren’t very healthy. These poor nutritional choices make sleep problems even worse.

Here are more of their discoveries:

  • Lack of sleep increases the appetite for high-fat, high-carbohydrate “comfort foods.”
  • Too much sleep is also a problem. It leads to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits.
  • Hydration can also impact sleep. Not drinking enough water can lead to mild dehydration, which also disrupts the body’s sleep cycle.
  • Vitamin, mineral, and nutrient deficiencies might also play a role in sleep quality. Researchers found that adults who had short sleep durations also consumed low amounts of lycopene and vitamin C.
  • The hormone leptin is considered to be the body’s natural appetite suppressant. Researchers believe leptin sends the brain a “full” signal to stop eating. When participants in the study didn’t get enough sleep, they experienced lower levels of leptin.

Can Improving Diet Improve Sleep?

“We’ve all heard by now how important it is for our well-being to eat a healthy, balanced diet. But we’ve also heard just as frequently how important good sleep is for our overall health,” said Caitlin Rogers, Sunrise’s vice president of Dining & Nutrition Services.

“Now, the link between good sleep and good nutrition gives us extra motivation to make the right choices,” Rogers continued. “That can be easy to do by simply choosing items that are naturally high in both lycopene and vitamin C, like tomatoes, watermelon, and asparagus.”

Here are some more options that can help:

  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, fresh parsley, strawberries, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are all high in vitamin C. You can easily add these foods to salads, soups, and smoothies.
  • Lycopene: Foods rich with lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, dried parsley, dried basil, chili powder, mango, guava, red cabbage, carrots, and grapefruit.
  • Lauric acid: This one is a little more difficult to work in to your diet. A few food choices high in lauric acid are coconut oil, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, milk, and palm kernel oil.

Sunrise Dining Program

Residents at Sunrise communities enjoy healthy and delicious meals every day. Our culinary teams use fresh, local ingredients to create a variety of dining options at every meal. Call today to schedule a time to join us for a meal at a community near you!

How Social Workers Help Connect Older Adults...

Social workers are unsung heroes of senior care. They connect older adults with community resources that help them to safely maintain their best quality of life. Whether a senior needs medical, emotional, spiritual, or physical support, a social worker can often be found acting as a bridge between the older adult and the providers who can help.

Social workers are unsung heroes of senior care. They connect older adults with community resources that help them to safely maintain their best quality of life. Whether a senior needs medical, emotional, spiritual, or physical support, a social worker can often be found acting as a bridge between the older adult and the providers who can help.

March is National Social Work Month, a time to pause and recognize the work of this dedicated group of professionals.

How Social Workers Help Seniors

Where can you find social workers assisting older adults and their family caregivers? Let’s take a look.

  • Agency on aging: In almost every city or county across the country, you will find an agency on aging. Local experts can typically help area residents with everything from Meals on Wheels program enrollment to transportation services to Medicare and Medicaid applications. Visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to find an agency near you.
  • Local hospital: While hospitals use a variety of different titles for their social work teams, most spend a considerable amount of time assisting older adults. When a senior is hospitalized, a social worker can arrange for a short-term rehab stay after discharge, order medical supplies needed when they return often, line up home healthcare services, or help the family begin the search for an assisted living community. They also may provide emotional support to families who are struggling with a senior loved one’s declining health.
  • Rehabilitation centers: When an older adult completes their recovery at a short-term rehab center, they often need a little extra help after they transition home. Social workers assist by arranging home safety evaluations, home modifications (e.g., ramps, raised toilet, grab bars), mobile meals, and more. These professionals can also help families explore senior housing options if it isn’t feasible for their older loved one to return home.
  • Hospice organizations: Hospice social workers work as part of or in conjunction with bereavement teams. Their responsibilities can vary greatly, but they often involve assessing a patient and their family’s needs and helping create a care plan to meet them.
  • Dialysis centers: Kidney disease can impact people of all ages, but older adults make up a significant portion of the population receiving dialysis. Because this disease can impact all areas of a person’s life, the support of a social worker is often necessary. They can help patients arrange for transportation to and from the dialysis center, complete Medicare and insurance claims related to their treatment, and find services to manage life’s daily tasks.
  • Senior housing: You will also find social workers in a variety of senior housing settings, including assisted living and memory care communities. They work with the clinical team to develop individualized care plans for each resident, communicate changes with family members, and much more.

Interested in Volunteering with Seniors?

If you enjoy spending time with seniors but aren’t a social worker, we have other ways you can contribute. We’d love to have you share your time and talent with our residents by volunteering! Call the community nearest you to learn more about Sunrise volunteer opportunities

Can a Mediterranean Diet Keep Your Brain...

As the population of older adults in the United States continues to climb, so too does the interest in aging well. From fitness activities to heart health, we’ve tackled a variety of successful aging topics. One topic that is always worth examining is the potential relationship between diet and cognitive health.

Older adults in Ikaria, Greece have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world. Residents over the age of 85 rarely develop any form of the disease. In fact, there are 75 percent fewer incidences of dementia when compared to people of the same age in the United States.

What type of diet do people in this area follow? 

For 95 percent of them, the answer is a Mediterranean-style diet. It is rich with plant-based foods and low in saturated fats, dairy, and meat.

You don’t have to look far to find the science to back up this way of eating. In fact, some researchers say that adopting a Mediterranean diet might even help slow cognitive decline for people who are already experiencing it.

How to Get Started on a Mediterranean Diet

Making the transition from a Western diet to a plant-based style of eating might feel overwhelming and intimidating at first, but we have a few tips to help:

  • Start small: Begin to gradually add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. You are more likely to maintain progress if you don’t give up all of your favorite foods at once. Small steps like adding shredded carrots to your tuna salad at lunch or substituting spiraled zucchini for pasta can get you moving in the right direction. As can trading your vegetable oil for olive or grapeseed oil when you cook.
  • Fish, not red meat: You can also start the transition by swapping red meat out in favor of fish once or twice a week. Then, gradually begin switching over to a diet that is largely free from red meat. Sites like Eating Well and Prevention have quick and tasty fish recipes you can experiment with.
  • Snack time: Another easy step you can take is to modify your snacks. Create “snack packs” you can reach for in lieu of chips, dip, and sweets. Suggestions to stock up on include vegetables and hummus, frozen grapes, whole grain crackers, a handful of nuts, or homemade trail mix.
  • Use a meal planner: You might also find it easier to adopt a Mediterranean eating plan if you take advantage of an online meal planner. Forks Over Knives has a free version you can try that does everything from creating quick and easy plant-based menus to generating a grocery shopping list.

Healthy Dining at Sunrise                                   

The culinary teams at Sunrise communities are experts at creating meals that are both nutritious and delicious. We also offer fresh fruit and healthy snacks all day long in our community bistros. Contact us to set up a time to visit for dinner at a Sunrise community near you!

Prevent a Senior from Becoming a Victim of...

Technology has changed how many people prepare their taxes.

Computer programs that lead us through preparing and electronically filing our taxes are fairly inexpensive to purchase. The IRS website is easily accessible and provides the necessary forms for those who prefer to file manually.

It all adds up to an easier tax season for most of us. There is, however, one notable risk: identity theft.

Criminals are always on the lookout for opportunities to take advantage of people they believe have good credit and might be vulnerable to identity theft. Scammers see older adults as people who fit this description. By stealing a senior’s identity, the criminal can not only steal their tax return, but they can also apply for credit cards and loans in the older adult’s name.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that 13 percent of adults over the age of 50 were victims of identity theft in 2016. For 29 percent of these victims, their identity was used to commit tax fraud.

We have a few suggestions older adults and their families can use to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft during this year’s tax season.

5 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft during Tax Season

  1. Secure personal information: Seniors are more likely than young people to carry their health insurance and Social Security cards with them in a wallet or purse. This puts them at higher risk for identity theft. Help your senior loved one find a secure place to store these documents at home. Encourage the senior to get them out only for appointments where they are required to show the card.
  2. Computer viruses: More older adults are filing their taxes online, but not all of them are aware of computer safety issues. Make sure their computer has the latest version of antivirus software. Also, check that programs are protected with a secure password.
  3. Reduce credit card solicitations: If your loved one has good credit, chances are high that they receive credit card solicitations in the mail. These can fall in to the wrong hands if a criminal steals mail out of their mailbox. There are several avenues for reducing these solicitations. The first one is to visit the Direct Marketing Association website and change the senior’s direct mail preferences. Another option is to call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-688).
  4. Monitor financial statements: It might also help if you and your senior loved one routinely monitor their financial statements together. You may be able to spot small issues that they miss. Help your family member review their bank and credit card statements, credit reports, and investment accounts. If you live too far away to regularly do this in person, do so online.
  5. Enroll in identity theft protection: There are several national organizations designed to protect credit and identity. While there is a yearly fee for most, they can be a big help in preventing identity theft or recovering identity if the senior does become a victim. Consumers Advocate says a few highly rated ones are LifeLock, ProtectMyID.com, and MetLife Defender.

Are you interested in exploring some of the issues that make seniors vulnerable to fraud? This article shares good insight on why seniors are at a higher risk for financial fraud. It can help you further protect an older adult you love.

Talking to a Parent About Giving Up Driving

Driving can be a sensitive subject for seniors and their adult children. Because driving is linked to independence, most of us are reluctant to give it up.

However, aging brings some undeniable physical changes that can make driving more challenging. Because everyone ages differently, age alone can’t be the determining factor in when it is time for an older adult to give up their keys.

The challenges older drivers face range from diminished flexibility to slower reaction time. Research shows that fatal accidents among seniors begin to climb at age 75 and rise sharply at age 80.

If you are concerned about an older loved one’s driving, it might help to first evaluate their skills before you begin any discussion about hanging up the keys.

How to Evaluate a Senior’s Fitness for Driving             

  • Inspect their vehicle: One of the easiest and quickest ways to evaluate a senior’s driving safety is to inspect their vehicle. Is it in relatively good shape? Or are the bumpers, side mirrors, and doors banged up? These types of scrapes and dents sometimes indicate an older driver is hitting things like curbs, the garage door, and maybe even other cars.
  • Be the passenger: Another option for assessing an older loved one’s safety behind the wheel of a car is to ride along with them a few times. Make sure one of your trips is after dark and another is during peak traffic time. Do they seem nervous and unsure? Are they too confident? Are they able to turn their head and look over their shoulder to change lanes or merge onto the freeway? Are they adhering to the rules of the road and speed limits? (Driving too slowly is almost as dangerous as driving too fast.) Try to make mental notes of any problems you spot so you can write them down to share later if you need to. 
  • Evaluation tool: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety created an older driver self-evaluation tool you might find helpful. It is designed for adults over the age of 65. In addition to testing the senior’s safety and fitness for driving, it also offers suggestions for older drivers to improve their skills.

If you objectively evaluate your loved one’s driving and decide they are no longer safe behind the wheel, consider the best way to discuss the situation. Don’t just demand that they hand over their keys. Have a solid plan in place for the conversation, along with options for transportation.

Talking with a Senior About Giving Up Driving

Here are a few tips to help you discuss giving up the keys with an older driver:

  • How they feel: Begin the conversation by asking how the senior feels about driving. Are they still comfortable and confident behind the wheel? It might surprise you to learn they aren’t, but feel they have no other choice than to keep driving. Seniors are often reluctant to admit this because they don’t want to burden family, friends, and neighbors with requests for transportation.
  • Medication side effects: You can also talk about whether any of the medications the senior takes can impair driving. According to AAA, while more than 75 percent of senior drivers take one or more medications each day, fewer than 33 percent are aware of the potential side effects.
  • Transportation options: Take time to create a list of transportation options before you talk with the senior about giving up driving. Once they see that they have options that allow them to maintain their independence, they may be more agreeable to hanging up their keys. If you aren’t sure what transportation is available near your loved one, call the area agency on aging. Most agencies maintain a list of reliable, affordable transportation programs for seniors.
  • Share specific concerns: If your loved one insists they are still a good driver, you might need to communicate why you disagree with their self-assessment. In a kind and nonjudgmental manner, share the specific concerns you have about your loved one’s driving. Maybe it was how you witnessed their vehicle drifting left of center when you rode along with them, or the scrapes and scratches you found on their car.

If you’d like to continue learning more about this topic, we encourage you to visit the Seniors & Driving page on our website.

How to Manage Sleep Problems Caused by... Sleep problems are common at all stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A lack of sleep can be tough on both the person living with the disease and on the loved one who is caring for them.Why do People with Alzheimer’s Suffer Sleep Problems?

Many seniors have problems sleeping. In fact, almost half of all older adults say they suffer some form of insomnia. The National Institutes of Health says some of the most common reasons older adults suffer sleep disturbances are:  

  • Depression
  • Health conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Medication side effects
  • Sleep apnea
But for adults with Alzheimer’s, insomnia can be even more pronounced. In fact, people with the disease may go for prolonged periods of time with little more than a quick nap. 

Scientists aren’t quite sure why Alzheimer’s causes sleep problems, but they have a theory. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it causes physical damage to the brain. That damage, scientists hypothesize, might disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to get to sleep and even harder to stay asleep.

Managing Sleep Problems Caused by Alzheimer’s Before you talk with your physician about medical interventions to help you sleep better, you might want to consider natural remedies. A few to try include:
  • Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages, especially later in the day.
  • Stick with a structured routine each day.
  • Make exercise a regular part of your schedule.
  • Maintain a cool temperature in the bedroom.
  • Eat meals at regular times, and avoid eating close to bedtime.
  • Try aromatherapy, such as diffusing the relaxing scent of lavender in the bedroom.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your medications might be contributing to the insomnia.
Medication to Help Adults with Alzheimer’s Sleep Better

Physicians are sometimes reluctant to prescribe sleep medication for people with Alzheimer’s because of possible negative side effects. But if natural remedies are not helping, medication may be an option. Talk with your doctor to learn more.

Memory Care at Sunrise

If you are beginning to search for a memory care program for a loved one, we hope you will consider Sunrise. Our memory care programs focus on providing personalized care and offer opportunities for enrichment and fulfillment each day. Our life enrichment managers are trained in Validation Techniques.

We’d love the opportunity to show you around and answer all of your questions. Book a tour at your convenience to learn more!

Use Nutrition to Keep Your Bones Strong as You Age

Aging is tough on our bones. As we grow older, we begin to lose bone mass. Experts say bone loss can actually begin as early as age 30. Weakened bones can lead to serious issues like fractures and falls. 

An estimated 10 million people in this country live with osteoporosis, a disease which reduces the density and quality of a person’s bones. As many as 1.5 million adults experience a bone fracture each year, including 300,000 fractured hips. Women are at higher risk for bone loss, as are people who consume a poor diet.

What can you do to keep your bones and your senior loved ones healthy as you age?

A great first step is to make smart food choices.

Better Nutrition for Building Better Bones

  • Drink your milk: Milk and some dairy products contain the right mix of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is necessary for healthy bones, while vitamin D is needed to help the body better absorb calcium. If you don’t consume enough calcium in your daily diet, your body will leech it from your bones. That contributes to bone loss. So make foods like milk, kefir, yogurt, and cheese a part of your daily diet.
  • Eat leafy greens: There is research indicating that vitamin K may play an important role in building bone health. Researchers have found that Vitamin K2 may activate several important proteins in the blood that help bind calcium to bones making them stronger. It is found in leafy green vegetables like romaine, spinach, and kale.
  • Well-balanced protein: Protein is another food group that can promote bone health, but it can be a little bit tricky to balance. Consuming too much of it—especially from meat products—may cause the body to excrete too much calcium. Not eating enough protein might result in the body not having the minerals it needs to absorb calcium. Experts say the average person needs 54−68 grams of protein per day, but check with your personal physician for more individualized advice.
Exercise Builds Bone and Muscle Strength

Weight and resistance training can pump up more than just your biceps—they can increase bone mass, too. As the bone is stressed during a workout, the body responds by sending signals to bone cells to create new bone. The result is denser, stronger bones.

At Sunrise communities, physical activity is a part of everyday life. Live With Action is one of our signature programs. Watch a video of one of our fitness classes to see Live with Action at work!

Thanks to our team: Sunrise Senior Living...

By Chris Winkle, CEO

Last week, Sunrise became the first-ever senior living provider to earn the distinction of “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Senior Living Communities“ by J.D. Power, the most trusted name in market research. Sunrise ranked highest in 5 out of 6 study factors: caregiver/staff; services/activities; setup/orientation; rooms/building/grounds; and food/beverage.

Within the details of the study, it was found that the most important component for assisted living and independent living consumers’ satisfaction is caregiver/staff. And so, this J.D. Power award really belongs to our dedicated and compassionate team members, who strive each day to provide our families with an exceptional personalized experience.

Since Sunrise’s founding more than 35 years ago, we remain deeply focused on our customer-centric mission, always seeking to innovate and further individualize our approach in caring for and supporting seniors. This happens in a variety of ways, from our Designated Care Managers, to meaningful resident programming that’s tracked on digital calendars, to customized dining menus and open communications responsive to families’ needs.

There are many more examples I can give, but at the heart of these efforts and J.D. Power achievement is one thing: our team members. I cannot say enough about how proud we are of them – their commitment, skills, and love for serving seniors within the warmth of our Sunrise communities. Thanks to our team!

Chris Winkle has been chief executive officer for Sunrise Senior Living since April 2014.

Sunrise Senior Living received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2018 Senior Living Satisfaction Study, based on 2,539 total responses among 7 senior living communities measuring experiences and perceptions of residents/family members/friends, surveyed October-December 2017. Your experiences may vary. Award applicable to United States only. Visit jdpower.com

Celebrate Love Your Pet Day With a Treat February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day! The health benefits associated with having a furry or feathered friend are well-documented. An animal companion can help with everything from reducing the risk of depression to lowering blood pressure. So it’s only fitting that we take good care of our pets in return.In honor of Love Your Pet Day, we are sharing a few tips for creating healthy treats, as well as a list of things  to avoid that can be harmful to your pets.

Foods that are Harmful to Pets

Let’s focus on safety first. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals maintains an Animal Poison Control Center where pet owners can call for advice. Foods that can cause serious illness to a pet include:

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners (watch out for discarded gum)
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions
  • Salty foods
  • Yeast dough

Many human medications and over-the-counter medicines can also be harmful to pets. If your pet accidentally ingests one, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435 for help immediately.

Give Your Best Friend a Treat on Love Your Pet Day

What can you do to celebrate the unconditional love your pet gives to you?

Treat them to a healthy snack you prepare yourself! 

Dog Treat Kitchens: This website is home to recipes for a variety of healthy treats and snacks you can make for your dog. They even have recommendations for dogs with special dietary conditions, such as obesity and intolerance to wheat. 
• Healthy cat treats: While felines are known for being a bit persnickety, most probably won’t turn their nose up at a tasty, homemade treat. Sites like Style Tails and Mess for Less have some healthy recipes to help you get started. 
• For the birds: Not all pet companions have four legs. Birds are a popular choice for older adults because they are easy to care for. You can bake healthy treats for your feathered friend using natural ingredients, too. The Spruce has some quick and easy recipes to try.

Pets are Welcome at Sunrise

At Sunrise, we understand the important role animals play in our lives. That’s why you will find a resident cat or dog at each of our communities. They are adopted from local shelters and cared for by residents and staff alike. 

We celebrated our animals this year with the first-ever #PetsofSunrise Facebook contest! Visit our Facebook page to see more than 60 adorable photos of Sunrise pets. 

Sunrise Earns "Highest in Customer Satisfaction...

At Sunrise, we take your care personally and are committed to providing each family with an experience tailored to their preferences and needs. Sunrise recently ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Senior Living Communities” by J.D. Power, the most trusted name in market research, and we are honored to be the first-ever senior living provider to earn this distinction.

A few highlights:

  • In the 2018 Senior Living Satisfaction Study, Sunrise earned the highest score in five out of the six study factors by assisted living and independent living customers.  Those areas were:
    • Caregiver/staff
    • Senior services/activities
    • Setup/orientation
    • Rooms/building/grounds
    • Food/beverage
  • The J.D. Power study also indicated the most important factor to customers is caregiver/staff.

Our knowledgeable, dedicated team members, are at the heart of why Sunrise has earned this achievement. “For more than 35 years, Sunrise has created a unique approach to senior living that is deeply focused on providing the very best personalized, high-quality care to its residents. We are proud that this J.D. Power study, which captures the voice of senior living customers across the country, demonstrates that we are successfully delivering on our customer-centric mission. We are grateful to our highly trained, compassionate team members for helping Sunrise earn this distinguished recognition,” said Chris Winkle, Sunrise’s CEO.

Visit a Sunrise Community

We welcome families to come visit our senior communities and see first-hand what personalized senior care and service at is all about – from our caring staff, to dining and activities programming.

Contact us or find a community near you and schedule a tour.

Sunrise Senior Living received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2018 Senior Living Satisfaction Study, based on 2,539 total responses among 7 senior living communities measuring experiences and perceptions of residents/family members/friends, surveyed October-December 2017. Your experiences may vary. Award applicable to United States only. Visit jdpower.com

Recognizing the Signs of Caregiver Overload

As your caregiving duties gradually increase, the symptoms of overload can slowly sneak up on you. In fact, you might not recognize any trouble until you reach the point where you are overwhelmed and burned out. Sometimes, caregivers can experience a health crisis of their own before they realize anything is wrong.

Caregiver burnout is defined as “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude—from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.”

How to Recognize the Early Signs of Caregiver Burnout

The common signs of caregiver overload can include:

●      Feelings of sadness and despair

●      Quick to anger

●      Easily tearful

●      Unintended change in weight

●      Loss of appetite

●      Change in sleep habits, (i.e., sleeping too much or too little)

●      Lack of interest in your favorite activities

●      Withdrawing from socializing with friends and family

●      Relying on alcohol, cigarettes, or medication to cope

●      Frequent colds and illnesses

●      Emotional and/or physical exhaustion

4 Tips to Help Caregivers Manage Stress

If more than one or two of the signs outlined above sound familiar, it might be time to take a step back and take some time for yourself to get on a healthier track.

  1. Talk to a loved one: Being able to talk through your thoughts and concerns about caregiving can help relieve stress. Most caregivers live with the guilt and fear that they aren’t doing a good job managing all of their responsibilities. Sometimes, having a loved one remind you of your successes as a caregiver can help you put things in perspective.
  2. Commit to self-care: Caregivers are notorious for putting their own needs at the bottom of their priority list. But you will actually be a better caregiver if you commit to taking care of yourself. That means scheduling a physical, getting back on track with routine health screenings, eating a better diet, and making time for exercise. Doing so might require you to set new priorities and ask for help from others. One resource that can help you take care of your own wellbeing is respite care. This could mean a short-term stay at a senior living community or enlisting a home care agency for a few hours a week.
  3. Meditate: The simple practice of learning how to focus the mind and breathe deeply can also help you manage stress. If you aren’t familiar with meditation, smartphone apps like Calm and Aura are good ones to help you get started.
  4. Join a support group: Connecting with peers who are walking a path similar to your own is another step you can take to prevent caregiver burnout. In addition to sharing hands-on strategies and tips for making your caregiving struggles easier, a support group can also help you manage the emotional issues associated with caring for a loved one. Learn more about caregiver support groups to see how you can take advantage of these invaluable resources.

The aging experts at Sunrise communities are always happy to answer your questions about caregiving. Call a counselor at (888) 434-4648 today!

7 Natural Ways to Manage Arthritis During the...

The winter months can be brutal for arthritis suffererswho add up to 50 million adults in the U.S. alone. As the temperature drops, people with this chronic health condition often report that their level of pain increases.

For some, prescription medication can help ease their symptoms, but others are reluctant to take it. Side effects of arthritis medications can include upset stomach, swelling in the feet, bone loss, increased appetite, and more.

The good news is there are some natural alternatives for relieving the pain and symptoms of arthritis.

7 Natural Ways to Manage Arthritis this Winter

  1. Keep moving: This one seems counterintuitive when every joint hurts, but exercise can help reduce the pain of arthritis. If icy walkways are keeping you from taking a daily walk outside, consider activities like chair yoga and swimming  to help keep joints limber.
  2. Alternate hot with cold: Alternating between ice packs and a heating pad placed on painful joints might also help you find relief. The ice can help with the swelling, and the heat may provide pain relief. Talk with your doctor about how often and for how long to use each one.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight: Keeping extra pounds off is important at any age, but even more so for older adults with arthritis. Every extra pound you carry around places an additional three to four pounds of pressure on your knees. Losing just five pounds can translate to as much as 15 to 20 pounds less pressure on your knees.
  4. Watch your diet: Food choices can make arthritis symptoms better or worse. Avoiding foods known for causing inflammation—such as refined carbohydrates and refined sugar—can prevent joints from becoming inflamed. Also, try adding inflammation-fighting foods to your diet to potentially help reduce swelling. Good choices to try might be berries, grapes, tomatoes, pineapple, fish, and nuts.
  5. Drink your tea: Green tea has many healing properties. Some believe it can help to block the chemicals in your body that cause inflammation. A few cups of hot green tea each day might be worth a try.
  6. Warm up joints: Seniors with arthritis report warming up joints often translates to lower levels of pain. In addition to alternating between a heating pad and ice packs, a hot bath or shower might reduce symptoms. Your local chapter of the Arthritis Association might also be able to help you connect with an aquatic therapy program at a fitness center near you.

Tools and Resources for Adults with Arthritis

We know arthritis can sometimes make even the smallest tasks more difficult. It might be painful to button your shirt or bend over to tie your shoes. That’s why we assembled a list of resources to help. Check out some arthritis-friendly products that can help with everything from opening jars to brushing your hair. 

How to Choose a Senior-Friendly Real Estate Agent

If you’ve ever moved before, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that moving is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events. 

Moving can very traumatic for older adults. Many seniors have lived in their current home for decades and raised a family there. That can make leaving the home behind both physically and emotionally difficult, but it is a decision most older adults will eventually have to make.

Why Do Older Adults Move?

Seniors relocate for a variety of reasons. The three reasons most often cited in a small study conducted by a senior relocation specialist were:

  • Difficulty keeping up: 42 percent of older adults surveyed said they were no longer able to keep up with home repairs and maintenance.
  • Health reasons: 34 percent said a change in personal health necessitated their move.
  • Freedom: 10 percent said they were looking for an easier lifestyle.

If you are trying to help an older adult you love begin the process of relocating, it’s important to take your time and find a realtor who understands the unique challenges that come along with selling a home when you are a senior.

How to Find a Senior-Friendly Realtor Near You

Having a licensed real estate agent who knows how to help a senior and their family through this transition is important. That is why the National Association of Realtors created a special designation for realtors who work with seniors.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES) credential means a realtor has gone the extra mile to learn how to be a true resource for older sellers. To qualify, a licensed real estate agent must complete a training program that helps them learn more about the challenges of moving when retired.

Visit the SRES website and use your zip code to search their database for a specialist near you.

Interviewing Potential Real Estate Agents

Once you’ve done your research and found a few realtors who seem like they might be good options, put together a list of questions to ask when you interview each one of them in person. A few suggestions to add to your list are:

  • How many older adults have you helped sell their homes?
  • What do you do differently when approaching the sale of a senior’s home, as opposed to that of a younger family?
  • Is there an optimal month to try to sell a home in your area?
  • Can you offer assistance with staging or make suggestions to help make the most of the sale?
  • Do you have experience working with any local move managers or moving companies?
  • What will you do to market the home?

Interior Design Resources at Sunrise

Sunrise has an online library of design resources to assist older adults who are relocating. Our complimentary Home Design Guide is packed with helpful information ranging from furniture arrangement tips for aging eyes to strategies for making bathrooms safer. 

The Little-Known Legend of Valentine's Day

February is a month dedicated to matters of the heart: heart-healthy diets, living a heart-smart lifestyle, and celebrating happy hearts on Valentine’s Day. Many people are surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day is more than just a holiday created by the greeting card industry. In fact, its roots date back to the Romans. 

While there are many legends surrounding Valentine’s Day, the most popular one involves a romantic, kind-hearted priest and a foul Roman emperor.

The Legend of St. Valentine                                           

According to the legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from marrying. He believed marriage weakened soldiers. A certain Bishop Valentine, however, believed in the power of love and the institution of marriage. He bravely held secret marriage ceremonies in direct opposition to Claudius’ laws.

When the emperor learned what the bishop had done behind his back, he ordered the bishop to be arrested and imprisoned.

Once in prison, Valentine befriended his jailor, Asterius, and his beautiful daughter. Asterius’ daughter and Bishop Valentine developed a special bond. When a jailed Valentine still refused to stop hosting secret marriage ceremonies, Claudius ordered his execution.

When execution day arrived, Valentine penned a farewell message to Asterius’ daughter. He signed it, “From Your Valentine.” His execution day was Feb. 14, 270 A.D.

That is the legend of how Bishop Valentine became a patron saint.

Thankfully, today’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are much cheerier.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

While the tradition of giving cards to symbolize love dates back to the Middle Ages, today’s celebrations are much more involved. We now honor the day with cards, flowers, jewelry, and chocolates. Many couples also become engaged or married on Valentine’s Day.

Americans spend a staggering $18.5 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts and festivities. A few more fun statistics that highlight how we celebrate this holiday include:

  • 25 percent of all greeting cards are sent in honor of Valentine’s Day for a combined total of 180 million cards.
  • $1 billion worth of chocolates and 189 million roses are sold.
  • 73 percent of people who buy flowers are men.
  • 14 percent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.
  • 3 percent of pet owners buy their pet a Valentine.
  • Teachers receive the highest number of Valentine’s Day cards.

Watch out guys! There is one more statistic you need to be aware of: 53 percent of women say they would end their relationship if their partner didn’t give them a gift on Valentine’s Day.

Celebrating Holidays Big and Small

At Sunrise communities, we know how important it is to celebrate life’s holidays and milestones. But we also know how important it is to celebrate life every day.

Live With Purpose is one of our signature programs. It includes eight different ways to enrich your body, mind, and spirit. Learn more about our programming and activities here.

Finding Free Tax Help for Older Adults

Tax season is upon us once again. The constant changes in tax laws can be tough to keep up with every year. Seniors might find tax season to be especially difficult because their retirement income may be derived from sources other than employment, and the related tax laws can be confusing.

Tax season also brings with it the potential for  identity theft. Seniors are often targeted in financial scams of all kinds, and experts believe that tax refund fraud likely reached $21 billion during the 2016 tax season. 

If you need help preparing your tax return this year, you’re in luck. There are a variety of resources, many of which are free, designed to help make tax preparation easier and safer for seniors.

Tax Preparation Resources for Seniors

Here are a few tax services catering to older adults:

  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE): This free program is offered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and designed for adults over the age of 60. IRS-certified volunteers provide in-person assistance for seniors. You can search the IRS database for a TCE site near your senior loved one’s home.
  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation Tax-Aide: Most seniors are familiar with the AARP. This tax program is offered for adults of low or moderate income. They have more than 5,000 locations across the country to help seniors safely prepare their taxes. No AARP membership is required.
  • Explore local options: Our final suggestion is to explore local nonprofits near your home to see which ones might offer free tax assistance to older adults. The local library, agency on aging, and senior center are all good places to start.  

Preventing Senior Identity Theft During Tax Season

Every year, more and more people fall victim to scams and fraud in connection with tax season. Taking a few extra steps to protect personal information can help you avoid becoming a victim.

  • Never go to a tax preparer without doing some research on them first. It’s easy for scammers to rent temporary space at a local strip mall or office building. Just because their office space looks legitimate doesn’t mean they are.
  • Always store personal information in a safe, secure place at home. This includes bank statements, Medicare cards, insurance information, and credit card receipts.
  • Don’t give any information out over the phone. A common and persistent tax scam is someone calling pretending to be from the IRS. They will threaten the senior with arrest if a credit card number or bank card number isn’t provided. Remind your senior loved ones that the IRS will never call to ask for money.
  • As soon as documents containing personal information are no longer needed, be sure to shred them. It’s the best way to keep them from ending up in the hands of a criminal.  

Tax Deductions and Caregivers

One common question during this time of year is whether or not assisted living expenses are tax-deductible for a resident.

The answer is that in some cases, a senior or their loved one who helps finance assisted living expenses can take advantage of a medical care tax deduction. Review these tax deductions for assisted living before you meet with a tax preparer this year.

Can Lifestyle Choices Reduce Your Risk for Cancer?

Did you know that some types of cancer are preventable? In fact, experts believe as much as one third of all cancers could be prevented by making good lifestyle choices.

February is National Cancer Month, and we are sharing possible changes  you can make to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, you can reduce your risk factors by:

  • Avoiding tobacco: Most people know that research links smoking to lung cancer. But tobacco use of any kind can increase your risk for many kinds of cancer ranging from throat cancer to bladder cancer. Avoid using or being exposed to cigarette smoke, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.
  • Limiting alcohol: Excessive use of alcohol can also increase your risk of developing cancer. The more you drink, the higher your risk for cancer of the throat, liver, breast, mouth, and esophagus. Talk with your primary care physician for advice on how much alcohol you can consume without increasing your risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity is linked to breast, colon, rectal, endometrial, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk, so try to set a goal to exercise once a day and eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoiding ultraviolet (UV) radiation: Exposure to UV radiation causes skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when you’re outdoors or riding in the car.  Also avoid using sunlamps and tanning beds to reduce your risk for skin cancer.
  • Cautious use of hormone therapy: Some studies link menopausal hormone therapy with increased risk for breast and endometrial cancers. While it may be necessary for some women, make sure you carefully discuss the risk factors and other options with your doctor.

Nutrition and Aging

As we grow older, our nutritional needs change. While most older adults require fewer calories, they often need to increase their intake of vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a program called MyPlate that helps older adults reduce their risk for disease by ensuring that nutritional needs are met.

At Sunrise, our chef-prepared meals are nutritious, delicious, and designed to support the dietary needs of older adults. Visit our Dining at Sunrise page to learn more.

Healthy Super Bowl Snacks for Seniors Hosting...

Super Bowl LII is almost here! This year’s game will be held on February 4 in Minneapolis, Minn. If you are preparing to host a party for friends and family, putting together a tasty but healthy menu might be at the top of your “to do” list. 

Because older adults tend to require special diets due to chronic health conditions, finding ways to lighten up traditional Super Bowl party foods is important so everyone can enjoy the party. From chili to chocolate, we have a few menu options to consider.

Healthy Super Bowl Party Foods

  • Skinny up your chili recipe. Chili is a staple at many Super Bowl parties. While it’s easy to make and serve, it can also be loaded with fat and calories. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to make this party favorite lower in fat, calories, and sodium. Try one of our three favorite healthy chili recipes this year.
  • Veggies and dip. A fresh vegetable tray with a few tasty dips is a simple but popular party treat. Substituting out high-fat ingredients can cut the calories and fat—for instance, replacing sour cream with low-fat Greek yogurt. Protein-rich hummus makes a great dip for vegetables and can easily be purchased in the refrigerated section of your favorite grocery store. For a more creative spin on a dip, try pureeing avocado with low-fat yogurt and adding freshly-pressed garlic!
  • Chicken sweet potato skins. Swap bacon- and cheese-laden potato skins for a more nutritious version made with sweet potatoes and chicken. This tasty treat is loaded with healthy fiber and protein.
  • Spicy popcorn. Another quick snack for your guests to enjoy is spicy popcorn. Find a low-fat, butter-free microwave popcorn and spice it up with chili powder or cumin.
  • Rice Krispie treats for grown-ups.  This childhood favorite remains popular with people of all ages. The good news is it is easy to substitute a few ingredients and make this treat gluten- and dairy-free.
  • Dark chocolate strawberries. Another healthy treat that can appeal to everyone’s sweet tooth is strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. Berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber, while good quality dark chocolate contains heart-smart flavanols.
  • No-bake brownies. Vegan brownie recipes typically rely on heart-healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds, as well as dark chocolate and almond milk. They can make a nutritious and delicious addition to your Super Bowl party menu.

Another fun idea is to consider adding a few games to this year’s Super Bowl viewing party. Sites like PrintYourBrackets and The Spruce make this easy to do.

Learn More About Senior Nutrition

Senior nutrition is an important part of everyday life at Sunrise communities. If you are interested in learning more about healthy nutrition for older adults, we encourage you to bookmark the Senior Eats section of our blog. We routinely add new recipes, articles, and resources so that seniors can read the latest news about nutrition and aging well.

Heart Health After Age 60: What You Should Know

Would you be surprised to learn that cardiac-related disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country? It is. This statistic is especially troubling because, in many cases, heart disease is preventable. Healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference in the long run.

February is National Heart Month, a time to raise awareness about heart disease and the steps each of us can take to prevent it.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Choices

  • Get moving: Not only is exercise an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but so too is moving. A sedentary lifestyle—where you sit for eight or more hours a day—can result in early mortality. So get up and get moving every hour or two! A quick walk around your house or office, or a few trips up and down the stairs can help you stay healthier.
  • Adopt a plant-based diet: Many of us struggle to understand what constitutes a healthy diet. With so many different choices, it’s tough to figure out what to eat and how much. When it comes to heart health, however, research continues to show that a vegetarian diet can be the key to a longer, healthier life. Two other diets that routinely receive high marks from scientists are the Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet. Both are linked to lower rates of heart disease. You might also find MyPlate to be a helpful tool in planning healthy meals.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: While some research shows that reserveratrol in red wine might be good for you, too much alcohol can contribute to health problems like high blood pressure and obesity. Moderation is the key. Talk with your primary care physician for more advice.
  • Mindful eating: Older adults who live alone are more likely to fall into the trap of eating meals in front of the television or even while standing in front of the kitchen sink. Eating quickly or being distracted while you are eating can lead to overeating. Being mindful of every bite you take can help you stay on track. Make a point of filling your plate with well-balanced healthy foods in thoughtful, portioned sizes. Eat slowly and stop before you feel full.
  • Don’t smoke: This one is no surprise. In addition to increasing your risk for many types of cancer, smoking is a leading cause of heart disease. If you’ve struggled to find a way to quit on your own, talk with your doctor about smoking cessation programs. You might notice a difference in how you feel within a matter of days after quitting.

Download Our Complimentary Heart-Healthy Cookbook

Heart-healthy meals are part of everyday life at Sunrise communities. You can enjoy some of the same healthy meals as our residents! Since 2014, we’ve assembled a cookbook of our residents’ favorite foods every year. We invite you to download copies of Recipes from the Heart for recipes you can use in your own kitchen.

7 Ways for Caregivers to Beat Cabin Fever

When you are a caregiver for a senior loved one, winter can seem to drag on. This is the time of year many caregivers struggle most—when the holidays are long gone, but spring still feels far away. Winter weather can make it too cold or icy to venture outside, especially if your loved one has mobility issues.

February is a time some caregivers may develop a case of cabin fever or the winter blues as a result of spending so much time stuck indoors. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lighten your mood and boost your spirits until sunnier days arrive again.

7 Ideas to Prevent Cabin Fever this Winter

  1. Befriend the birds: Not all birds head south to escape the cold. Those that are left behind are often colorful and fun to watch. You and your loved one could take up birdwatching through a window overlooking your yard. Install a birdhouse and feeder or two in easy-to-see locations in your backyard. Then, sit back and watch who comes to visit. A pair of inexpensive binoculars might make it easier to see the detail on your feathered friends. You can create a birding journal to document your visitors, or use your cell phone to take photos and video.
  2. Music therapy: Music has healing harmonies that can lift your spirit and boost your mood. You can create playlists filled with music you and your senior both enjoy—such as a morning playlist to energize the two of you, or an evening set to help you relax and sleep better.
  3. Dance party:  Dancing is an activity that can help build stamina, strength, and balance. Hosting a morning dance party can help you beat the blues and start the day on a positive note. If your loved one struggles with mobility, they can dance from a seated position in their favorite chair.
  4. Floral design: Another cold weather activity the two of you might enjoy is learning how to arrange fresh or artificial flowers. You can purchase them at your local grocery store each week or your local craft supply store. YouTube is filled with wonderful how-to videos on how to master the basics of floral design using inexpensive bouquets.
  5. Daily journal: The therapeutic value of journaling is well-documented. Getting your fears, anxieties, highs, and lows down on paper can help you better process difficult emotions. If writing doesn’t sound very enticing, you might also consider creating an art journal that you add to each day. Books like Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way and 500 Drawing Prompts make that easier to do and can provide guidance.
  6. Essential oils: Another tool to beat the winter blues is aromatherapy. Set up diffusers in your home to infuse rooms with different scents. Using lavender essential oil, for example, can help to calm and soothe. Peppermint oil is known to boost energy, while many find the scent of lemon to be uplifting.
  7. Try new recipes: Baking is another activity you and your loved one can do together. Use the Internet to track down new recipes that sound inviting. You will also reap those aromatherapy benefits when smells like vanilla, cinnamon, or freshly baked bread filling your home.

Respite for the Caregiver

If you can’t seem to shake off cabin fever this year, you might need a few days free from the demands of caregiving. Recognize that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one. Whether it is to take a short vacation or just to enjoy a pedicure or massage, a short-term stay at a senior living community may be your solution and in the long run will strengthen your ability to be a good caregiver. Learn about respite care at Sunrise to see how we can help.

Cholesterol Basics Everyone Needs to Know

More than half of all adults in this country have high cholesterol. Surprisingly, experts say only one in three of these adults have the condition under control

Adults over 65 are at the highest risk of having a stroke or heart attack linked to high cholesterol. This makes it especially important for seniors with high cholesterol to adhere to their prescribed medication.

Since high cholesterol itself doesn’t typically have any symptoms, older adults may be unaware of just how dangerous this condition is and what they can do to get it under control.

Decoding the Different Types of Cholesterol

Let’s start with a quick overview of each type of cholesterol and what the numbers mean.

Cholesterol screening measures three types of fat in the blood stream:

  • HDL (aka “good” cholesterol): Works to attach itself to LDL, aka "bad cholesterol," in the body and push it to the liver so it can be filtered out. For HDL, the higher the number, the better. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you need an HDL of 60 mg/dL to be protected against heart disease. Less than 40 mg/dL puts you at major risk for heart disease.
  • LDL (aka “bad” cholesterol): The lower your number, the less likely you are to be at risk for a stroke or heart disease. A screening number of less than 100 mg/dL is considered to be optimal. Anything higher than 159 puts you at high risk for a serious health crisis. While LDL can sometimes be controlled with a healthy diet and regular exercise, there may also be a hereditary component for some families. For these adults, the only way to maintain a healthy LDL is through medication.
  • Triglycerides: This is the last piece of the cholesterol puzzle and usually the easiest to control. A healthy diet and exercise can typically keep triglycerides under 100 mg/dL, which is considered optimal, while normal can be up to 150 mg/dL. Anything higher than 199 mg/dL can result in metabolic syndrome, a condition that puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.

How to Help a Loved One Manage Their Cholesterol

Physicians frequently cite low rates of compliance as a primary barrier to helping older patients manage their cholesterol. Seniors often struggle to follow doctor’s orders with regard to diet, exercise, and taking their cholesterol medication as prescribed.

One reason might be that it is difficult to immediately see the health benefits of managing cholesterol. As a caregiver, you can help with:

  • Education: Take time to sit down and talk about cholesterol and the risks associated if it isn’t well managed. Together, you might be able to find ways to make it easier for them to adhere to their medication schedule, such as utilizing a timed pill dispenser.
  • Diet: Create weekly menus for your loved one that comply with their dietary restrictions but include healthy and tasty options. Consider including more high-fiber foods such as oatmeal and beans, while limiting foods high in saturated fats. The American Heart Association has a variety of menu-planning ideas you might find helpful. See recipes on the AHA’s website to learn more.
  • Exercise: Exploring senior-friendly exercise options is another way you can help your loved one manage their cholesterol. Chair yoga, walking, and swimming are three popular activities. Another exercise program, created by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), can be done in the privacy of the senior’s own home. Go4Life is a fitness and physical activity program specifically designed for older adults. The Go4Life website has videos, tips sheets, safety advice, and more.

Other Options

Senior living communities offer health assistance around the clock and  provide programs to help residents with health concerns. We provide Live With Action programming, since physical activity is key to senior health and wellbeing.

If you think it is time to encourage a parent or other loved one to consider moving to a community, we understand that starting the conversation can sometimes be difficult. View our tips for having important conversations to help the discussions go smoothly. 

Eye Health: Vision Issues Seniors Shouldn’t...

Minor vision problems can occur at any age, especially for those who spend a lot of time staring at a computer or cell phone  screen. Between video games, computers, smartphones, and tablets, eye strain has become an increasingly common issue for kids and adults alike. 

But as we grow older, there can be additional vision issues that develop more frequently. Knowing what symptoms indicate a more serious problem is important for seniors and their adult children.

National Glaucoma Month

January is National Glaucoma Month. This eye disease is often referred to as a “sneaky vision thief” because there are very few symptoms until later in the disease. But one of the earliest signs of glaucoma is a serious one: loss of peripheral vision.

Having an annual eye exam is the best way to detect the presence of glaucoma early.

Unlike glaucoma, other vision problems common among seniors do come with early warning signs.

If you or a loved one  notice any of the following symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor or visit your local emergency department:

  • "Floaters” in one eye is often an early warning sign of a detached retina, as are sudden bursts of light or color. This condition requires immediate medical intervention to prevent eye loss. Seniors who have had cataracts removed have a higher risk for a detached retina.
  • Sudden blurry vision or loss of vision in one or both eyes can also be an indicator of a serious problem. It is one of the classic signs of a stroke and should never be ignored. Call 911 immediately and tell the emergency dispatcher that you think you or your loved one is having a stroke. Don’t wait to see if the condition resolves on its own. Strokes are one of the leading causes of death and disability among older adults. If it is a stroke, every minute counts. Read more about the warning signs of a stroke from the experts at the American Stroke Association.
  • Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among seniors. Warning signs include trouble recognizing and distinguishing colors, difficult reading road signs, and a dark spot in the center of your vision.
  • Blind spots in your line of vision can be caused by a variety of health problems. Two common ones are high blood pressure and diabetes. Both illnesses increase pressure on the blood vessels in the eye and the optic nerve. Left untreated, this can also lead to vision loss.  

Two additional vision changes seniors encounter are halos and cloudiness. Older adults may know these as the symptoms of cataracts. Many people delay talking with their physician about it because they don’t think of cataracts as a serious health concern. But this is a myth—untreated cataracts can cause blindness.

Medicare and Vision Coverage

Some seniors delay visiting their eye doctor because of financial concerns. While it’s true that Medicare doesn’t pay for glasses, Medicare Part B does cover some routine screenings. Vision coverage typically extends to a yearly vision exam, as well as glaucoma and macular degeneration testing.

Visit Your Medicare Coverage: Eye Exams to learn more.

Supportive Environment for Adults with Vision Loss

Sunrise Senior Living communities are thoughtfully designed to accommodate the unique challenges of older adults with a focus on comfort and convenience. Seniors with vision loss will find safety is our primary concern, and we design living spaces that create a safe and supportive environment.

Many seniors face physical challenges like limited mobility, balance, sight and hearing. From hand rails and grab bars to assistance with the activities of daily living, we help adults with vision impairment live their best quality of life. The Sunrise team is committed to becoming your partner, your guide, and your trusted resource. Contact us or call 1-888-434-4648 to schedule a private visit!

Is It Less Expensive to Age at Home?

One debate seniors and their families often have is whether it is less expensive to age in place at home or to move to an assisted living community.

Some believe that once the mortgage is paid in full, aging at home is the most economical choice. This might be music to the ears of a senior who isn’t interested in leaving a home they’ve lived in for decades.

Let’s take a look at the expenses associated with aging at home.

Evaluate Current and Future Expenses

When a senior drives and is able to handle their housework, yard, and meal preparations, aging in place can be a good financial decision.

But there are still expenses associated with remaining at home even if the mortgage is paid:

  • Property taxes and homeowner’s insurance
  • Utilities, cable, and phone
  • Home security system
  • Maintenance and repairs, including snow removal and lawn care
  • Housekeeping services, if needed
  • Entertainment
  • Groceries and food-related expenses
  • Car expenses and insurance (or alternative transportation)

As the senior experiences physical changes, it might become necessary to enlist the support of a home care agency and to make modifications to their home. Both of these safety expenses can quickly add up quickly.

Home Safety Modification Expenses for Older Adults

Modifying your home for safety can come at a steep price. Depending on how old the home is, the list of necessary modifications might be a long one.

According to a MetLife survey, the average costs of home modifications for aging in place are as follows:

  • Renovating bathrooms: $3,500 to $35,000
  • Widening doorways: $800 to $1,200
  • Installing ramps and lifts: $2,500 to $20,000
  • Installing grab bars: $250 per set

Home safety and emergency alert systems are also a factor. Families typically spend the following:

  • Emergency alert install fees: $99 to $1,500
  • Monthly monitoring fees: $40 and up

Aging in Place with the Support of Home Care

Then, there are the expenses associated with in-home care and assistance. These costs vary widely depending upon the type of assistance needed and how the caregiver is employed.

Families have several options:

  • Family caregivers: This means creating a weekly schedule where different family members rotate who cares for  the senior. This can be challenging, though—especially communicating and keeping schedules straight.
  • Hire caregivers directly: This approach helps to ensure more consistent care. The drawback is the family becomes an employer responsible for hiring, firing, payroll, and more. It can also be difficult if one or more of the caregivers becomes sick, has a family emergency of their own, or turns out to be unreliable.
  • Home care agency: The option families often turn to first  is hiring an in-home care agency. If one caregiver becomes ill or needs a vacation, the agency provides someone to cover. But this peace of mind comes at a cost. In fact, the average daily cost of home care in 2017 is between $131 and $135. That expense can quickly add up.

Our final piece of advice is to make sure you are taking all of these costs into consideration when you are making a plan for your loved one’s future.

The True Value of Senior Living Communities

Senior living communities offer older adults and their families an affordable option for care. Many of the expenses associated with aging at home are included in the basic fee: rent, utilities, transportation, maintenance, and housekeeping, to name just a few.

Our team members are happy to help families learn more about the true cost of assisted living and suggestions for financing a move to assisted living. At Sunrise, we understand that everyone has unique circumstances that determine how they can best afford the cost. Contact a Sunrise community near you to schedule a private meeting! 

How to Care for Your Skin as You Age

Caring for your skin goes beyond knowing which lotions and cleansers to use. A healthy skin care regimen also includes staying hydrated, paying attention to sun exposure, diet, lifestyle, and more.

How to Have Younger-Looking Skin as You Age

Wrinkles, dark spots, and dry skin are just a few of the signs of aging. While genetics plays a role in skin health, lifestyle is important, too.

Here are a few choices that can give you healthier, younger-looking skin:

  • Stop smoking: This is one of the best things you can do to help your skin. The nicotine found in cigarettes causes blood vessels in the outer layers of your skin to constrict, which impairs blood flow and causes skin to look older and duller.
  • Don’t drink from straws: The repetitive motion of drinking from a straw contributes to wrinkles around the mouth.
  • Wear sunglasses: Squinting causes skin damage. Make a point to wear sunglasses any time you are outdoors or riding in the car—including during the winter months.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol is dehydrating and can make skin appear dry and less plump.
  • Wear sunscreen: Many seniors grew up largely without sunscreen, and don’t think they need it or completely forget to use it. But wearing sunscreen every day—even if you are just riding in a car—can help prevent sun damage. More importantly, sunscreen can help lower the risk of melanoma by as much as 50 to 73 percent.
  • Wash off makeup: Another factor that contributes to skin damage is going to bed without washing your face. This is especially harmful if you wear makeup, as it clogs your pores and causes your skin’s collagen and elastin to breakdown.
  • Get moving: A sedentary lifestyle can leave your skin looking dull. Exercising 30 minutes a day will help give you a more youthful appearance and might even help to reverse signs of aging.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Eating too much sugar, meat, and dairy, and too few fruits and vegetables can make your skin look older. Following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes can help brighten your skin.

Wellness Programs at Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise, we take a comprehensive approach to wellness. From nutrition and exercise to art and music, we help residents live richer, fuller lives.

If you are looking for more information on aging with success, we encourage you to visit our Elder Care Resources and Information page where you will find tips and tools to help seniors and caregivers alike.

Laugh Your Way to Better Health

If you’ve ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt, you’ve probably reaped some of the health benefits of humor. It’s more than just a cliché—laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps with everything from boosting mood to burning calories.

Researchers say there are both short-term and long-term benefits associated with making laughter a part of your everyday life.

Short-Term Health Benefits of Laughter

Experts say enjoying a hearty laugh with friends provides benefits similar to a mild workout: elevated heart rate, reduced stress, and increased blood flow throughout the body. It also helps you burn a few calories! According to Maciej Buchowski, a laugh researcher from Vanderbilt University, you can burn as many as 50 calories from 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.

Laughing can also help to reduce stress hormones in the body, which often results in an almost immediate reduction in anxiety.

For weary caregivers or seniors struggling with a chronic illness, this reduction in stress might also help boost your immune system. When your immune system is strengthened, you become better able to fight off germs and viruses.

Laughing for Long-Term Health

Laughter has several notable long-term health benefits:

  • Pain management: For older adults who live with chronic, painful health conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, laughing can be a great way to manage pain. Experts say as many as 60 percent of older adults live with some form of pain each day. Laughter can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. Sharing a good laugh may also help break the pain-spasm cycle, resulting in relief from pain.
  • Mood elevator: This one probably comes as no surprise: laughter lifts your spirits and boosts your mood. For caregivers and their loved ones, it can help make the days brighter and happier. Laughing is also linked to lower rates of depression.
  • Diabetes management: Some research shows that laughter helps to reduce blood glucose levels. This helps people increase their glucose tolerance, which is beneficial for everyone.
  • Overall wellbeing: People who make a point of laughing with friends and loved ones enjoy better overall health and happiness than those who are more isolated and alone.

We have a few helpful suggestions for lightening up and laughing more:

10 Ways to Laugh More Every Day

  1. Hang out with people with a good sense of humor.
  2. Play with young children—their laughter is contagious!
  3. Buy a joke book and start each day by reading a few.
  4. Watch funny cat or dog videos on YouTube.
  5. Record a few great sitcoms and watch them in the evenings.
  6. Host game nights with friends on a regular basis.
  7. Set up a humor board on Pinterest and pin funny memes you can look at and laugh at often.
  8. Adopt a pet.
  9. Stock up on a few DVDs of your favorite funny movies.
  10. Take an improv class—it’s a unique way to learn to laugh more.

Laugh Often at Sunrise

At Sunrise communities, laughter, and companionship are a part of our residents’ lives every day. Whether it is enjoying some one-on-one time with a neighbor to look at videos of grandkids, or attending a life enrichment activity like game night, there are endless opportunities to stay engaged with life.

The best way to learn more is to visit us in person. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to schedule a time!

How Life Enrichment Programs Improve Quality of...

Living an active and engaged life with opportunities to grow and learn is important at every age. Many seniors say the chance to participate in life enrichment activities is one of the primary reasons they decided to move to a senior living community. While programs and events might seem like a luxury, they really are a necessity. 

Why are life enrichment and wellness programs important as we age?

Participating in life enrichment programs and activities on a regular basis promotes brain health. It also helps overcome the health risks associated with isolation and loneliness, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and more.

Here’s what else researchers have to say.

The Importance of Staying Engaged with Life

There have been a variety of studies published on the topic of life enrichment and aging. Here are the benefits that a few found:

  • Promotes cognitive health: A study published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that staying socially engaged during retirement years keeps brain cells stimulated. That helps older adults maintain their cognitive abilities longer.
  • Prevents isolation: A 2009 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that “social disconnectedness and perceived isolation are independently associated with lower levels of self-rated physical health” among seniors. Health risks associated with isolation range from obesity and heart disease to depression and early mortality.
  • Sedentary lifestyle dangers: While we’ve all heard that physical activity is one of the keys to aging well, exercise can’t overcome the dangers of sitting too much. In fact, health experts say living a sedentary lifestyle may be just as dangerous as smoking. Life enrichment programs keep seniors moving.

Evaluating Life Enrichment Activities at Senior Communities

If you are weighing which senior living community might be the best fit, be sure to take a close look at the life enrichment opportunities each one offers.

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

1. Review the monthly activities calendar.

Ask the community’s life enrichment director for copies of the past few months’ activities calendars and take some time to review them.

  • Is a wide variety of programs and events offered throughout the week?
  • Do you see activities you’d like to participate in? An ideal life enrichment program will offer activities that engage the body, mind, and spirit.
  • What happens on weekends and evenings? Is programming offered beyond traditional business hours?
2. Talk with the life enrichment director.

If the team member showing you around doesn’t introduce you to the life enrichment director, ask to meet them. You should ask the director questions such as these:

  • How are new programs and activities added to the calendar? If, for example, you enjoy pastel painting and it’s not offered, is it possible for a class to be added each month?
  • Also inquire about other residents who might share your interests. Can the life enrichment director help introduce you to others so you can attend programs and activities together? This is a great way for new residents to feel comfortable getting involved.
  • Are there additional charges for classes and workshops? It will help you better budget your future expenses if you know what additional fees you are likely to incur.
3. Attend a few activities and events

Our final tip is to actually attend some activities in person! Highlight a few programs on the calendar that look interesting, then ask the staff if you can join in. Participating will help you get to know some of the current residents and determine whether or not the community is a good fit.

If you are anxious about going alone, most senior living communities are happy to have you bring a friend or family member along with you.

Live With Purpose at Sunrise

At Sunrise Senior Living communities, we know how important it is to Live With Purpose. We offer eight Signature Programs that help each resident make the most of life every day. From generosity to reflection and artistry, our dedicated team of life enrichment professionals creates opportunities for residents to live purposeful lives every day.

Could Alzheimer's Really be Type 3 Diabetes?

Alzheimer's is a disease that continues to challenge researchers. In recent years, however, one theory has seen growing support: the potential link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. 

If you’ve visited our blog before, you know we talk a lot about nutrition and the role it plays in aging well. A healthy diet helps prevent everything from falls to cardiac disease. Studies suggest that diabetes causes brain insulin resistance which can impact cognitive function and could lead to Alzheimer’s, thus another reason to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Possible Link Between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

There is some debate over the extent to which diabetes contributes to the progressive symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease. There is still a lot to learn, but there does appear to be a relationship between obesity, diabetes, and the Alzheimer’s.

The hormone insulin may hold the key to understanding the relationship between Alzheimer's and diabetes. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and sends a signal to the body when it needs to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. When those signals don’t work properly, however, diabetes can be the result.

There are currently two recognized forms of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is usually developed in a childhood or as an adolescent. This type destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, rendering the body unable to absorb glucose. Only five percent of people with diabetes have this type, and the cause is still being researched.
  • Type 2 diabetes is typically developed later in life, and it is often linked to lifestyle. This form of diabetes prevents cells from absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, resulting in a condition known as insulin resistance. Researchers believe insulin resistance in the brain may be the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer's Disease

Insulin resistance is believed to contribute to the creation of beta amyloid plaques in the brain that are present in people with Alzheimer's.  There is evidence to suggest insulin resistance in the brain reduces cognitive function; in fact, some scientists have started calling Alzheimer's “type 3 diabetes.” 

More research is needed to establish a definitive connection between these two conditions. But it is worth taking steps to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes—including eating right and exercising—as you grow older.

For more information and advice on type 2 diabetes prevention, visit the American Diabetes Association.

Healthy Living at Sunrise

We know eating well often begins with having fresh, new ideas for well-balanced meals. That’s why our Sunrise chefs take pride in preparing meals that delight our residents’ taste buds while meeting important nutritional needs.

We invite you to visit our Senior Eats blogs to see some of our recipes!

Everything You Need to Know to Prevent Vitamin...

Winter can present a variety of health concerns for seniors in colder climates. One that is often overlooked is a vitamin D deficiency. 

Because seniors who live further north typically spend less time outdoors on frosty winter days, they aren’t exposed to the sun’s rays. That lack of exposure to sunlight can result in less vitamin D being produced by the body.

Vitamin D and Healthy Aging

For many years, the role vitamin D played in aging well wasn’t fully understood, but we now know that vitamin D impacts wellness in many ways.  When the body is deprived of adequate amounts of vitamin D, the risk for these medical issues can increase:

  • Insomnia
  • Cardiac disease
  • Cognitive issues, such as confusion, memory loss, and forgetfulness
  • Deep muscle pain and muscle fatigue
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Breast, thyroid, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer

Recognizing the Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

One challenge caregivers face in recognizing a vitamin D deficiency is that the symptoms can be very vague. They are often attributed to another chronic health condition or overlooked entirely.

Common signs of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Lack of energy that doesn’t improve with sleep
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Feeling a little blue
  • Sweaty head despite feeling cold
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Overall feeling of weakness and fatigue

Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin D Deficiency

If you and your loved one aren’t spending much time outdoors this winter, you may want to schedule an appointment with your physician. They can help determine if either of you is deficient in this important vitamin.

The doctor can order a simple blood test if they suspect there is a problem. This will allow them to assess if a deficiency is present and how severe the condition is. Depending on the seriousness of the deficit, the physician may either order a prescription dose of vitamin D or suggest a daily dose of an over-the-counter supplement.

One challenge  is that vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods. However, there are some good options, such as:

  • Egg yolks
  • Beef or calf liver
  • Canned tuna or sardines
  • Wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cow’s milk and almond milk
  • Shitake mushrooms

You can also be on the lookout for foods enriched with vitamin D during production, such as orange juice and breakfast cereals.

Finally, calcium helps your body better absorb vitamin D. Make sure to include a few foods that are rich in calcium in your diet:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens
  • Tofu
  • Cheese
  • Navy beans
  • Green beans
  • Canned salmon
  • Figs
  • Oranges

Well-Balanced Meals Every Day

Residents at Sunrise communities enjoy well-balanced meals prepared by an in-house chef every day. Because we know the importance of healthy food choices in aging well, we’ve made it easy for residents and their loved ones to look at the ingredients and nutritional breakdown of every meal, every day.

Just visit our NetNutrition site to take a peek at the meals planned for today!

How to Overcome Caregiver Guilt and Find Peace

Many family caregivers find their role rewarding but are often stretched too thin. They juggle caring for a loved one with the demands of a career and providing support for other family members that rely on them.

And then there are the challenges many caregivers don’t talk about: the guilt and fear that they are failing everyone.

What Causes Caregiver Guilt?

Family caregivers experience guilt for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Being angry about the amount of time caring for a loved one requires, and then feeling guilty for this anger
  • Resenting not having time to spend with friends and to attend favorite social activities
  • Feeling as if they are letting everyone down, including their children, their employer, and the senior they care for
  • Being criticized by a senior who has unrealistic demands and expectations for the caregiver
  • Believing that they should be doing more because they can’t make it through their endless “to do” list each day

Wherever the guilt comes from, experts say the caregiver who is experiencing it is probably suffering from overload.

Steps to Help Overcome Caregiver Guilt

We have a few suggestions that you might find useful:

1. Learn the warning signs of caregiver overload.

Understand that caregiver guilt is normal and you are not alone. Many others  feel the same way from time to time, and it might help to join a support group. But if you feel that way all of the time, it could be a sign of caregiver overload. Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver overload is important in preventing a serious case of burnout.

Listen to what memory care expert Rita Altman has to say about caregiver burnout in this episode of The Senior Caregiver podcast.

2. Join a caregivers support group.

Connecting with a group of fellow caregivers is another step you can take toward overcoming guilt. You will likely hear your peers express struggles similar to yours. Knowing your feelings and emotions are normal can make a big difference in managing caregiver guilt.

There are many online caregiver support groups available to help make it even easier on your busy schedule. You can find one by visiting the Family Caregiver Alliance online.

3. Don’t try to do it all on your own.

Asking for and accepting help for specific tasks can help you gain both time and perspective. Both can help you better manage the stress, anxiety, and fear that often leads to caregiver guilt.

If you don’t have any family members or friends who can pitch in, consider  respite services for a temporary rest which in the long run will strengthen your ability to be a good caregiver.  Home care agencies or senior living communities, such as Sunrise, are great options for short term respite care for your loved one.

4. Do something positive for yourself each day.

While this one might feel like a luxury a busy caregiver, recognize that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of a loved one. Take 10 to 15 minutes once a day to do something positive like chair yoga at your desk, meditation, calling a friend, or writing in your journal. The perspective you gain from doing so will likely help decrease the guilt you are feeling.

5. Practice positive self-talk.

When you beat yourself up every day about every little thing, you can create a cycle of negative self-talk. This can further contribute to feelings of guilt and self-doubt about how you are managing your caregiver role.

Instead, make an all-out effort to stop negative self-talk. Replace it with reminders of all you do for those around you each day.

Caregiver Support at Sunrise

The Sunrise Blog is packed with tips and advice for family caregivers, and we update it several times each week. We encourage you to bookmark it and stop back often!

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!

Articles last updated at Mar 21, 2018 01:26:30am.
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