Are Vegan Diets Healthy for Older Adults?

Are Vegan Diets Healthy for Older Adults?

Veganism is becoming increasingly popular among seniors. Vegans eat solely plant-based foods. They steer clear from meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and any other foods derived from animals. There are many reasons seniors consider switching to this diet. Sometimes, it’s for better health, while animal rights drive others. Often, it’s both. Regardless of why seniors consider the change, the most important question is “Are vegan diets healthy for older adults?”

Benefits of Switching to a Vegan Diet

  • Boost the immune system: The ideal vegan diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Because most of these foods are nutrient-dense, they can benefit the immune system.
  • Manage chronic health conditions: Vegans tend to have healthier blood pressure, fewer cases of diabetes, and longer lives than those who follow the standard American diet. It may be beneficial for seniors with chronic health conditions.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Those who consume a vegan diet typically have a lower body mass index. As we age, maintaining a healthy weight may become increasingly difficult. This may make veganism a good option for seniors struggling with weight.

Switching to a Vegan Diet

As you age, it may become increasingly difficult to meet nutrition requirements. Veganism can make it a bit more challenging. Here are a few tips for seniors switching to a plant-based diet:

  • Take supplements: Some nutrients, like vitamin B12, are only found in meat. Seniors will need to take a supplement to meet their recommended daily intake.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium: Calcium is another nutrient seniors should be mindful of when going vegan. Many diets rely on dairy products for their daily calcium dose. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegetables, including spinach, kale, and broccoli, that are abundant in calcium.
  • Choose high-protein foods: Many seniors are concerned they won’t get enough protein if they cut meat from their diet. However, many plant-based foods are high in protein. Soybeans, tofu, and lentils are excellent options.

Cooking for One

Seniors who are cooking only for themselves may find it difficult and expensive to prepare meals with fresh ingredients. They may not see the point in cooking for a single person. This causes many seniors to choose foods with a longer shelf life as opposed to fresh foods. However, there are resources to make cooking for one easier.

Single meal planning sites provide single-serving recipes. One Dish Kitchen and the Fresh 20 for One have healthy recipes for one person along with shopping lists.

Veganism Isn’t for Everyone

Like most diets, veganism has pros and cons. Some may do well without animal products while others may struggle. Before attempting any new diet, it’s important to consult a doctor. They can help you determine if a vegan diet is right for you and your health.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities understands the importance of eating a diet rich in nutrients. Our communities make it easy for residents to eat healthily. Our Heritage Hospitality policy offers fresh and diverse dining choices to all our residents. Contact us today to learn more about how we help seniors stay healthy.

How to Honor a Veteran on Veterans Day

How to Honor a Veteran on Veterans Day

Dear Donna,

My dad was in the service. I want to do something special for him on Veterans Day to show my appreciation. How do I honor him?


Monica from Holland, MI

Honoring a Veteran on Veterans Day

Dear Monica,

It’s great that you are looking for a way to honor your dad on Veterans Day. For many, this holiday means a day off from work or school. Some may not fully understand its military connections.

To give some background, Veterans Day takes place on November 11th every year. It is a federal holiday dedicated to honoring those who have served or are currently serving in the military.

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day or Independence Day. In the simplest words, Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives while serving our country. Independence Day is not affiliated with the military. It is a time to recognize the Declaration of Independence.

Now that you understand the significance of Veterans Day, here are a few ways you can honor veterans.

4 Ways to Honor a Veteran

  1. Say “thank you.”

A simple way to honor a veteran is to give thanks. When you come into contact with a friend, family member, or anyone else who has previously served or is currently serving in the military, thank them for their service. You can say this in person or over the phone. A handwritten thank you card is also a good option. It can be a keepsake for years to come.

  1. Attend a community event.

There are many parades and other community events that take place on Veterans Day. You can show your support by attending one of these events. It may even be fun to bring a veteran you know or other loved ones with you. By including others in your festivities, they too can show their support.

  1. Ask a veteran about their service.

Inviting a veteran out for a meal or a cup of coffee can be another great way to show respect towards a veteran’s service. During the outing, you can ask them about their experience in the military. Listening to their stories will make them feel appreciated. Here are a few questions to get the conversation started:

  • What was your position in the military?
  • Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the service?
  • Why did you enlist?
  1. Donate.

Donating to an organization that supports veterans and their families is another wonderful way to honor those who have served. Here are a few organizations you may want to explore:

  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • Dogs on Deployment
  • Honor Flight Network

Veterans Day Is Important

Veterans Day is a time to show respect towards Americans who have served or are currently serving our country. Taking time to honor our veterans lets them know you truly appreciate their dedication and service.

I hope this helps you find a way to honor your father on Veterans Day. Please tell him Heritage Senior Communities says, “Thank you for your service!”



Heritage Senior Communities Supports Veterans

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, provides support to seniors throughout Michigan. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

How to Respond When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Is Agitated

How to Respond When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Is Agitated

Agitation is a common symptom among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. When a person is agitated, they may become annoyed or restless with seemingly little to no provocation. A loved one who is agitated may fidget, pace, or repeat behaviors.

It can be difficult for caregivers to watch their loved ones in distress, and naturally, they want to help. In most cases, something is causing this reaction. By understanding why their loved ones are experiencing these feelings, caregivers can learn how to respond.

Understanding Agitation in Adults with Alzheimer’s

  1. Physical discomfort

When a person with Alzheimer’s disease experiences physical discomfort, their condition can make it difficult for them to identify the source of their distress. Other times, they may have trouble putting their symptoms into words. The inability to articulate their feelings can cause them to become agitated. Hunger, constipation, and sleep deprivation are common causes of physical discomfort that can contribute to agitated behavior.

Sometimes, discomfort causes pain. A love one’s body language may tell you what is bothering them. Do they hold or rub a particular area of their body repeatedly? Does their skin appear dry or irritated? If you suspect your loved one is in pain and you can’t identify the cause, it’s usually a good idea to ask their doctor.

  1. Overstimulation

Dementia can cause a person to become overstimulated quickly. Too many people talking at once and large crowds can overwhelm them and cause them to become agitated. Other forms of excess stimulation include clutter or background noise from the television or radio.

Caregivers can help by limiting the number of stimuli in a loved one’s environment. For example, keep music low and limit the number of people in their space. If you need to go to the store, go during times when it is less crowded.

  1. Change in routine

Sticking to a routine is important for people with dementia. It lets them know what to expect and allows them to carry out their responsibilities independently. Because change causes people with Alzheimer’s to rely on their memory as opposed to their habits, they may become frustrated as they try to adapt.

It may help to let your loved one know in advance about changes in routine. For example, remind them of upcoming appointments several times. Also, be sure to let them know when friends and family are scheduled to visit.

Validate Feelings

When a loved one is agitated, do your best to remain calm. Just because the disease is causing their feelings doesn’t make them any less valid. Your loved one will appreciate you taking time to understand why they are upset and figuring out ways to help.

Heritage Senior Communities

If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to consider memory care. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Because our communities are designed for people with dementia, they can help reduce many symptoms, including agitation. Contact us today to learn more.

Lifestyle Choices That Lower Your Risk of a Heart Attack

Lifestyle Choices That Lower Your Risk of a Heart Attack

Dear Donna,

World Heart Day is coming up, and it has me thinking about my health. Both of my parents have had a heart attack, and I am afraid I will have one, too.

What can I do to lower my risk of a heart attack?

Talia from Holland, MI

Improving Your Heart Health through Lifestyle Changes

Dear Talia,

It’s great you are being proactive about protecting your heart. Cardiovascular disease is the number one health condition in older adults and the world’s leading cause of death for men and women. Cardiovascular disease, also referred to as heart disease, is an umbrella term for the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels that can lead to a variety of complications, including a heart attack.

Although some factors that increase your risk of a heart attack are uncontrollable, including age and genetics, there are many elements you can control. Here are a few lifestyle changes that can help keep your heart healthy.

Tips for Reducing Your Risk of a Heart Attack

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet: A heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways you can protect your heart. When planning your meals, try to limit trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. Instead, opt for foods with healthy fats, like salmon and almonds. Also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly: Research has consistently shown exercise can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease. Seniors can reap the benefit by exercising for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Learn healthy ways to manage stress: Stress is a normal part of life. But because it raises your blood pressure and heart rate, chronic stress can negatively impact your heart health. Seniors can benefit from learning how to cope with stress healthily. Many people find success with relaxing activities like meditation or talking to friends and family.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for the heart to function efficiently. Not getting enough sleep is linked to cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Seniors should do their best to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can have many adverse side effects. It can raise the levels of unhealthy fats in the blood, increase blood pressure, and may even result in heart failure or a stroke. While avoiding alcohol is best for most people, some seniors can get away with reducing their intake. As a general rule, women should limit themselves to one drink per day, while men shouldn’t consume more than two.

Adopting a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

When it comes to reducing your risk for a heart attack, adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a world of difference. While genetics affect your risk, they make up only a fraction of the equation. By focusing on factors you can control, like your lifestyle, you can give yourself a better chance at protecting your heart.

I hope you can incorporate some of these lifestyle tips into your daily routine!



Heritage Senior Communities Encourages a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

At Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, we encourage our residents to live a healthy lifestyle. We offer heart-healthy meal choices and plenty of opportunities to exercise. Contact us today to learn more about our communities.

5 Ways Seniors Can Sit Less and Move More

5 Ways Seniors Can Sit Less and Move More

You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” This expression comes from several studies that suggest a sedentary lifestyle may be worse than smoking for some people. While the idea of comparing sitting to smoking may be difficult to understand, the risks associated with sitting for long periods are difficult to ignore.

A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to:

  • Increased risk of disability
  • Increased risk of developing chronic health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
  • Negative effects on mental health
  • Higher risk of becoming overweight or obese
  • Shorter life expectancy
  • Greater risk of falling

The best way to avoid many of the health risks associated with too much sitting is to become active. If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, it can be overwhelming to think about starting a new exercise program.

You may have reasons why you feel discouraged about exercising, including health problems, limited mobility, or aches and pains. However, becoming active is far simpler than you anticipate. Here are a few ways seniors can incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine.

Physical Activities for Seniors

  1. Walking: Walking is an excellent exercise for older adults. It has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of falling, a lower chance of a heart attack, and improved mental health. Even better, it only requires a pair of good walking shoes. A brisk ten-minute walk after each meal is a great place to start.
  2. Swimming: Swimming is great for seniors because it is a low-impact exercise. This means it is easier on the body than other forms of exercise. This makes swimming particularly great for seniors with limited mobility or stiff joints.
  3. Yoga: Yoga is another great activity for seniors. It improves strength, endurance, and mobility, which are essential for older adults. One of the best things about yoga is it can be adapted for any skill level.
  4. Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an exercise that combines slow, graceful movements with breath control. Because it is gentle, it is an excellent option for seniors who are just starting to incorporate exercise into their routine.
  5. Senior fitness classes: Taking classes designed for seniors is another way older adults can get active. There are a wide variety of options to suit every need, interest, and fitness level. For example, Zumba is fun for those who like to dance. Strength training classes may be better for those who want to build muscle.

The Benefits of Exercise Extend beyond Prevention

Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to start exercising. Getting fit isn’t just about preventing chronic illnesses. Exercise comes with many benefits, including improved sleep, a faster metabolism, and better physical and mental health.

Heritage Senior Communities Encourages an Active Lifestyle

In addition to assisting seniors with the tasks of daily living, Heritage Senior Communities also provides plenty of opportunities for seniors to be active. Contact us today to schedule a tour.