How to Keep a Senior Gardener Safe This Summer

How to Keep a Senior Gardener Safe This Summer

Dear Donna:

My mom has always loved to garden, but she is now struggling with mobility issues. She also takes a few different medications that make her more susceptible to dehydration and heat.

What can we do to help her keep enjoying her favorite activity safely?

The Fletcher Family in Holland, MI

How Seniors Can Garden Safely

Dear Fletcher Family,

It’s great that your mom wants to keep up with gardening. It is a wonderful, healthy activity. Not only is it a way to get exercise, but being outside can increase vitamin D levels. The activity can also reduce dementia risk and nurture the spirit.

With any strenuous outdoor activity, however, some precautions are necessary. Here are tips your mom can follow to stay safe and healthy when gardening.

4 Ways to Your Senior Gardener Can Stay Healthy

  1. Customize gardening for mobility issues.

Kneeling to plant seeds or pull weeds can be hard on the knees, hips, and back. Instead, try raised garden beds, which can either be purchased from home-and-garden supply shops or built DIY-style.

Indoor pots and window boxes are another option, especially for colder climates or smaller living spaces. They can be set on a table and accessed while sitting down.

  1. Use safe gardening techniques.

Gardening often involves repetitive motions, which can cause irritation in tendons and nerves. Prevent strain by rotating activities every 15 minutes, with a short rest in-between. Make sure your wrist is relaxed and your grip is not too tight on your gardening tools. Wear gardening gloves to prevent blisters and skin irritation, as well as to protect from things like pesticides, thorns, or bug bites.

  1. Make sure to use tools correctly.

Never use bare hands for digging in the soil where sharp objects or stinging insects may be buried. Use proper tools, such as trowels and hand rakes, and make sure they are in good working condition.

Look for pruners or shears with safety locks. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions for using garden tools.

  1. Use proper outdoor protection.

For your health and safety, it is important not to lose track of time while gardening. Take precautions to avoid dehydration, sunstroke, and other risks.

  • Garden earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Always use sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) when going outside.
  • Wear a hat with a sufficient brim to shade your face.
  • Use sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes and prevent eye strain.
  • Stay hydrated; keep a water bottle outside with you and drink from it often, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with sugar or alcohol.
  • Take frequent breaks indoors or in the shade.
  • If you have diabetes or other conditions that can affect the nerves, make sure to wear well-fitting gloves and shoes. Check yourself after gardening to make sure you have no cuts or scrapes that went unnoticed.

I hope this information helps your mom continue her favorite pastime!

Best wishes,

Donna

Encourage Physical and Mental Activity for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities provides quality care for seniors across Michigan. Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, for example, provides numerous exercise and socializing opportunities, including wellness seminars. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Planning an Inter-Generational Father’s Day Celebration

Planning an Inter-Generational Father’s Day Celebration

A Father’s Day celebration is an excellent way for multiple generations to come together and honor members of the family. Some advanced planning can make the day go smoothly and ensure that everyone enjoys the event.

How to Plan an Inter-Generational Father’s Day

  1. Choose a comfortable location.

Whether the celebration takes place in a loved one’s home, a local park, or a restaurant, make sure you consider the needs of every guest.

  • If your loved one uses a wheelchair or walker, make sure the location is at ground level and not too far from transportation.
  • There should be plenty of seating, not just for eating but for family members to relax and chat.
  • Make sure there are close, easily accessible restrooms.
  • If the celebration is outdoors, provide adequate shade and cooling options.
  • Make sure all children can be kept safe and supervised.
  • If your location is mainly outdoors, plan for a second location in case of rain.
  1. Provide appropriate refreshments.

A little forethought will ensure everyone enjoys the food.

  • Check for any dietary needs before choosing the party treats.
  • Consider making it a potluck so one person isn’t responsible for all the food.
  • Hydration is important, so provide plenty of drinks within easy reach. Avoid serving only sugary or alcoholic drinks since they can contribute to dehydration. Include pitchers of water on tables.
  • Limit the salt content of any sauces and marinades you use for barbecues.
  1. Encourage fun activities.

It’s not always easy for several generations to interact, but a few fun activities can make things easier and more enjoyable.

  • Set up a craft table for kids and adults to use together, or provide building kits like sailboats or bird houses.
  • Play simple group games like charades or balloon volleyball. Consider asking guests to bring a favorite board game.
  • If any of your guests are musical, invite them to bring their instrument to perform a song.
  • Depending on your budget, you might hire entertainers like a magician, band, or kid-friendly comedian.
  1. Recognize the fathers.

Since the event is for Father’s Day, make sure the fathers in attendance feel appreciated.

  • Encourage everyone to exchange family stories.
  • Have each guest bring a favorite memory or photo of their dad. This can be done in writing or made into a video. Feel free to get creative.
  • Gifts are not always necessary but can be appreciated. One option is to make a donation in a recipient’s name.
  • Give out a certificate, trophy, or other “award” to each father for the things they’ve done over the years. You could make the entire gathering a “Father of the Generation” award ceremony with award presenters and “A Look Back” presentations.

An inter-generational Father’s Day gathering doesn’t have to be complicated. For many fathers, simply enjoying the day with loved ones is enough to make it special.

Help Your Dad Live His Best Life

At Heritage Senior Communities, we offer spacious homes with a variety of opportunities for socializing, exercising, and learning. Contact us today to find out which living option is the best for you or your senior loved one.

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell

How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell

Dear Donna:

Our mom has finally agreed to move to sell her house and move to a senior living community. While we are thinking of having her move first and then worry about selling her home, we aren’t sure if that is the best approach.

Do you have any advice for selling a senior’s home when they are ready to move to a senior living community?

The Keller Family in Saline, Michigan

Prepare a Senior Loved One’s Home to Sell

Dear Keller Family:

Your mom has made an important and difficult decision that brings a unique set of stressors. The following tips should help make the transition and sale go as smoothly as possible.

How to Prepare Your Elder Loved One’s Home to Sell

Many families choose to sell a loved one’s home after they move to a senior living community. This involves a lengthy and potentially stressful process of downsizing, cleaning, and preparing the home to sell. The right approach can help you make the sale go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Start early.

The process of downsizing should start as soon as possible to give yourself and your loved one plenty of time to decide what to keep and to get used to the change. This can help keep families from feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Create a plan.

Take some time to plan your approach to the tasks ahead. Organize tasks by time and importance. When preparing the home, tackle one room at a time.

Decide what you will do with unwanted possessions. You might consider holding an estate sale if there are a lot of things to sell. Another alternative is to use online communities or an app to sell your items.

  1. Get plenty of help.

The changes will be more than what you and your mom can manage alone. Enlist the help of other loved ones, as well as outside services. Many charities offer pickup services for items like furniture. There is also a growing industry of senior move managers who help older adults relocate.

  1. Stay flexible.

While you might have a specific timeline for selling your loved one’s house, it is important to give yourself plenty of leeway in reaching your goals. Work, illness, and other scheduling conflicts can quickly throw off a well-thought plan. On the other hand, a willing buyer may appear sooner than expected.

  1. Update the home without renovating.

Increase the home’s curb appeal by neatly trimming shrubbery and lawns, sweeping porches and pavement, and power-washing the siding. Make sure the lawn and roof are free of debris.

Make sure rooms are bright and clean. Every closet and cupboard should be tidy since prospective buyers will look at them. Consider staging the home or hiring a home staging company to help it look its best.

Make minor repairs, such as replacing malfunctioning lights and fixing leaky faucets. Avoid major renovations, though, since you are unlikely to recoup the cost, and not all buyers will appreciate the results.

Best wishes,

Donna

Make the Transition Easier

Leaving one home for another can be difficult for senior loved ones. Heritage Senior Communities offers amenities and comfort to help elder adults settle in to their new environment.

Our Linden Square assisted living center in Saline, MI, offers a convenient location, inviting common areas, and a well-supplied activities room to help new residents feel at home. Contact us today for a tour.

Is There a Link Between High Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is There a Link Between High Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

For senior loved ones and their families, an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be devastating. There are many ways to help manage this disease, which affects memory and other parts of cognitive function. Because there is not yet a cure, it is understandable that older adults want to do what they can to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.

Researchers are still learning about the disease. There is no single, definite cause, but scientists have uncovered several risk factors associated with the disease. This may include cholesterol levels.

Is There a Connection Between Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?

While some studies suggest a link between Alzheimer’s disease and high cholesterol, it is not a certainty. For example, the research has not yet shown whether high cholesterol leads to Alzheimer’s, or if this form of dementia can actually cause higher cholesterol. Other research has found no connection at all between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s.

One 2011 study published in the academic journal Neurology found that people with high cholesterol levels had more brain plaques compared to people with normal or lower cholesterol levels. Brain plaques, or accumulation of the protein amyloid, are considered a trademark sign of Alzheimer’s.

Another study published in 2017, however, found no connection between high cholesterol and increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found no association in people who carry the APOE4 gene variant. This variant has been connected to cholesterol metabolism and a risk of memory disorders.

What to Do About Cholesterol

The mere presence of cholesterol is not a health threat. In fact, people cannot live without cholesterol. It is important for the development of cell membranes, hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and the bile acids used for digestion.

However, high levels of a certain type of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) can be harmful. LDL cholesterol has been linked to health risks like heart attack and stroke.

Many lifestyle factors can help reduce LDL cholesterol:

Genetics may make some people more likely to develop high cholesterol. If diet and exercise do not resolve high LDL cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medication.

How to Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

A lot of advice for healthy cholesterol also applies to Alzheimer’s risk, including physical activity and consuming a diet full of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Here are some other ways you can reduce Alzheimer’s risk factors:

  • Quit smoking
  • Get your blood pressure under control
  • Reduce risks of falling in the home
  • Get enough sleep at night
  • Engage in mental activities by taking classes, reading, or learning a new hobby or skill
  • Nurture friendships and stay socially connected

Heritage Encourages Both Mental and Physical Health

The caring staff at Heritage Senior Communities provides enriching experiences for residents, including wellness programs and optional dining services. We also offer specialized dementia care for residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Contact us today for questions or a tour.