Senior Safety: Hydration Tips for the Hottest Days of Summer

Senior Safety: Hydration Tips for the Hottest Days of Summer

Dear Donna:

My mom moved in with my family a few months ago after my dad passed away. Whether it’s swimming outside or attending our kids’ sports events, we are always on the move. Because my mom really isn’t safe staying alone, we’d like to include her in as many activities as possible. We also want to make sure we do so safely.

While my mom doesn’t have any serious health conditions, she does struggle with a few minor medical issues. A big concern for us is that she doesn’t seem to handle the heat as well as she used to. I am particularly worried about keeping her hydrated, as I’ve heard that is an issue for older people.

Do you have any suggestions for me on seniors and hydration?


Kim in Saginaw, MI


What Caregivers Should Know About Senior Hydration

Dear Kim:

First, my condolences on the loss of your father. I’m sure this has been a difficult time for your entire family. Adding a loved one to the house is likely an adjustment for everyone, too.

You are right to be concerned about hydration for your mom this summer. The hot, humid days can be tough on people of all ages, but especially older adults who can become dehydrated fairly quickly. The summer sun also places seniors at increased risk for additional heat-related illnesses, like sun poisoning and heat stroke. Learning how to spot the signs of dehydration, as well as what you can do to avoid it, is important.

Common Signs a Senior Is Experiencing Dehydration

Recognizing when a senior loved one is in the early stages of dehydration allows you to treat the condition before a more serious health crisis occurs. Here are some of the common symptoms to look out for this summer:

      • Headache
      • Dizziness
      • Weakness
      • Confusion
      • Dry mouth
      • Irritability
      • Sunken eyes
      • Trouble walking
      • Rapid heartbeat
      • Low blood pressure

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help prevent a senior loved one from experiencing dehydration.

How to Keep a Senior Loved One Hydrated This Summer

  • Pump up fluid intake: Preventing dehydration during the hot, humid days of summer requires eating and drinking the right foods and beverages. Water is almost always the best choice. Ask your mom’s doctor for guidance on how much she should be consuming on a typical summer day, especially if she’ll be outdoors in the heat. If she doesn’t care for the taste of water, try adding lemon, lime, cucumber slices, or berries to enhance the flavor. When you are planning menus, incorporate more foods that have high water content. These include melons, pears, berries, cucumbers, leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, and popsicles.
  • Limit caffeinated beverages: Drinks like iced coffee or frozen soda are popular during the summer because they taste so good, but the caffeine content can put a senior at increased risk for dehydration. While a single 8-ounce cup may not have much caffeine, super-sized cups or multiple caffeinated beverages in a day can create a problem. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes fluids to pass through your system faster. That fluid loss can contribute to dehydration.
  • Skip the alcohol: From weddings to graduation parties, summer is a season for celebrations. Many of these include alcoholic beverages. Just like caffeine, alcohol can contribute to dehydration. Seniors who are spending more than a few minutes at a time outdoors in the heat should limit or avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Review medication side effects: Many people aren’t aware that some medications can increase sun sensitivity. That means they can put seniors at risk for dehydration or a serious sunburn. Most pharmacists can help you identify any of your mother’s prescriptions that might be problematic. This list of medications that cause dehydration can also help.
  • Dress wisely: Another way to keep your mom cooler and hydrated in the heat is through her wardrobe. Be sure she has a few pairs of quality sunglasses and hats with brims that shield her face and neck. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, preferably made of cotton, can also help.

I hope these tips are useful to you and your mom, Kim. One additional suggestion you might find helpful now that your mother is living with you is to explore local respite care options. For example, Heritage Senior Communities welcome short-term guests whose family caregivers need a break or a vacation. We invite you to call one of our communities to schedule a private tour today!

Kind regards,


Tips to Host an Alzheimer’s-Friendly Independence Day Gathering

Tips to Host an Alzheimer’s-Friendly Independence Day Gathering

Every July 4th, Americans pause to celebrate our nation’s birth with family, friends, and neighbors. Festivities traditionally include parades, barbecues, street fairs, and, of course, fireworks. Independence Day activities often include everything from lighting sparklers for the kids to shooting off loud firecrackers in the yard.

While these noisy gatherings are fun for many, others may find them stressful and even frightening. Among those who struggle on Independence Day are veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, people who grapple with anxiety, and adults living with Alzheimer’s.

For adults with Alzheimer’s disease, the flashing lights and loud bangs created by fireworks can cause agitation and fear. It could be severe enough that the senior might attempt to wander from home in search of a quieter, calmer place. For adults with a memory impairment, wandering poses a serious risk of injury or loss of life.

If a spouse or parent has Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia, it’s essential that you take steps to keep your loved one safe on July 4th and the days leading up to it. The following tips can help you plan a safer Independence Day holiday gathering.

Celebrating Safely on July 4th


  • Keep the gathering small and invite familiar people.

While fireworks can create stress and agitation for adults with dementia, the crowd size can factor in too. Sometimes a sea of unfamiliar faces, even if it is people the senior should recognize, causes the most anxiety. That’s why our first tip for hosting a more dementia-friendly Independence Day celebration is to try to keep it small. Your loved one will likely find it less overwhelming. When they aren’t anxious and agitated, it will probably be easier for you to relax and enjoy the event.

  • Plan around the senior’s best and worst times of day.

While July 4th celebrations often occur in the evening, that may not be a great time of day for a senior with dementia. As a family caregiver, you are likely familiar with your loved one’s daily patterns, specifically their best and worst times of day. Use that as a guide for when to have your party. For example, many people with Alzheimer’s experience sundowner’s syndrome. This puts them at risk for wandering and other struggles during late afternoon and early evening hours. In these situations, planning a lunchtime or early afternoon picnic might be a better choice.

  • Arrange alternative activities.

If your loved one with dementia lives in your home, another idea is to plan indoor activities for them to enjoy during the party. It may be helpful to ask people your family member is familiar with to spend a little time engaging in these activities with the senior. For example, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia often find repetitive tasks calming, such as folding a basket of towels or sorting a deck of playing cards. You might also want to set out family photo albums or boxes of pictures for the senior and other family members to go through together. You could also provide a few simple craft projects. These all have the added benefit of giving family members a chance to make memories with the senior.

  • Give guests a heads-up before the party.

Finally, remember that many people aren’t familiar with Alzheimer’s disease and the challenges and changes it causes. Send a quick explanation in email or text to guests who are unfamiliar with your family’s situation. You could also include a link to an article like “Helping Family and Friends Understand Alzheimer’s Disease” to make it easy for guests to learn more.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

If a senior in your life has been diagnosed with some form of dementia, exploring the options for care in your community is always a good idea. Heritage is one of the leading providers of specialized dementia care in Michigan. We encourage you to contact a community near you to learn more!

Healthy Menu Planning: Incorporating Anti-Inflammatory Foods into Your Diet

Healthy Menu Planning: Incorporating Anti-Inflammatory Foods into Your Diet

As the medical research community continues to discover more about inflammation and the role it plays in disease management, they’ve also come to better understand how it impacts aging. Studies seem to indicate a link between inflammation in the body and a variety of health issues. These are believed to include osteoarthritis, depression, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

By reducing the presence of inflammation, experts believe we may be able to decrease our risk for illness or better manage diseases already present in the body. It can also help promote more successful aging and pain management. That’s because inflammation is a driver of many types of pain.

Researchers believe nutrition could be one way to manage inflammation. This requires avoiding the foods thought to increase inflammation and consuming more of those that reduce it. Here are a few tips to help you plan anti-inflammatory menus.

Avoiding Foods That Increase Inflammation

Most people don’t know which foods help beat inflammation and which ones increase it. So, let’s start by talking about the foods known to ramp up inflammation in the body. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Processed meats
  • Baked goods
  • Red meat
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Sodas and other sugary drinks
  • White-flour pastas and breads

For many people, these foods are a part of their daily diet. By eliminating or reducing the amount of them you consume, you may be able to avoid or delay the onset of some diseases.

Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

In contrast to the foods outlined above, these choices might reduce inflammation in your body:

  • Salmon: With a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids along with vitamins B12 and D, salmon is another good inflammation fighter. But people often struggle with preparing it so the flavor is more appealing. If you need ideas, try one of these healthy salmon recipes.
  • Blueberries: This popular superfood is rich in an anti-inflammatory agent called quercetin. Whether you add them to your morning oatmeal, your lunchtime salad, or a fruit smoothie, try making blueberries a routine part of your diet.
  • Leafy greens: Most of us know eating our greens is good for us. When it comes to reducing inflammation, leafy green vegetables should be a dietary staple. You can toss a little chopped spinach into tuna salad, add fresh kale to a bowl of soup, or swap lettuce for bread in your sandwich.
  • Pineapple: This popular citrus fruit is also a hardworking one. It’s packed with good nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B1, potassium, manganese, and a digestive enzyme known as bromelain. Together, these ingredients help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. It’s a great natural sweetener to try with chicken dishes, salads, and smoothies.
  • Bone broth: Don’t let the trendiness of bone broth put you off of the benefits it offers. Nutritionists recommend it to patients because it contains inflammation-fighting ingredients like glucosamine and collagen. If you aren’t excited about the lengthy process of making it yourself, you can find it at most local grocery stores or online through companies like Brodo and Kettle & Fire.
  • Walnuts: Nuts often have a bad reputation because they can be high in fats. But in the case of walnuts, those are healthy fats. Just a quarter cup of them contains all the omega-3 fatty acids you need in a day to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes, and more.
  • Beets: This root vegetable is another superfood. The betalain found in beets has anti-inflammatory properties. You can roast them in the oven, blend them to make a healthy dip, or just slice them up to add to salads.

Transitioning to menus that include more anti-inflammatory foods might be a process. It will also take time to fully implement. If it feels too overwhelming to tackle these changes all at once, try making a few at a time.

The Heritage Difference

At Heritage Senior Communities, we are committed to providing a higher level of care and hospitality. We call it the Heritage Difference. Among the seven service standards that make Heritage different is our dining program. Every day, residents enjoy meals that are both nutritious and delicious. If you are considering making a move to a senior living community, we hope you will visit one of our locations in Michigan or Indiana for a personal tour!

What Are the Benefits of Independent Living Communities?

What Are the Benefits of Independent Living Communities?

Dear Donna:

I’m writing in hopes that you can answer a few questions for me. I’ve been living alone the past three years since my husband lost his battle with cancer. We had purchased a condo about two years before he got sick, and it’s been an easy place to maintain by myself. However, I’m ready for a change.

Many of my friends have passed away or moved to be closer to their children, so my social circle has decreased. While both of my kids are great about checking in on me and helping when I need them, I don’t want to be a burden.

I’ve been seeing ads for independent living communities, and it sounds like they might be a good option for me. However, I want to make sure I’m on the right track before I make any major life changes. Can you tell me how a single woman might benefit from moving to one of these communities? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


Barb in Omena, MI

Understanding the Benefits of Independent Living

Dear Barb:

It sounds like you are on the right track! I’m happy to share some of the ways independent living communities benefit active older adults. They include:

  • A variety of different services

Independent living communities offer a wide range of services designed to make it easier for you to live a more independent, carefree lifestyle. These vary from one community to another, but often include housekeeping/laundry, meal plans, transportation services, and access to fitness facilities and daily life enrichment activities. Residents also leave worries about lawn care and maintenance behind when they move.

  • Access to more care if it’s needed

Your move may also take care of your future needs. For example, some independent living communities are part of a campus that includes assisted living and/or dementia care. If your need for care and support changes down the road, you’ll be able to remain part of the same community.

  • Around-the-clock safety and security

Independent living communities offer a safe and secure living environment. In addition to on-site staff around the clock, most individual apartments or suites have emergency call systems. This can give seniors and their loved ones greater peace of mind.

  • Flexible, maintenance-free living

Residents usually have a choice of floor plans, and some communities even offer different housing options for independent living. For example, it might be a stand-alone villa, an apartment, or a suite. What they all have in common is maintenance-free living. By moving to an independent living community, you’ll leave behind worries about furnace repair or tracking down a trustworthy contractor to install a new roof. That’s in addition to not having to concern yourself with lawn care or snow removal.

  • Formal and informal ways to socialize

Independent living offers a variety of opportunities for socializing, entertainment, and fun. This is often one of the primary reasons older adults make this type of move. Each community has a calendar of daily activities for residents to enjoy. They typically range from fitness classes and movie nights to outings to a local mall or museum. On an informal basis, you’ll find residents enjoying a cup of coffee together in the lounge in the morning or working on a volunteer project together for a local nonprofit organization.

I hope this gives you a better idea about what a day as a resident of an independent living community looks like, Barb!

Please call a Heritage Senior Living community near you to schedule a tour at your earliest convenience. One of our experienced team members will be happy to show you around and answer any questions you have about independent living.

Kind regards,