5 Ways Caregivers Can Beat the Winter Blues

5 Ways Caregivers Can Beat the Winter Blues

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my 91-year-old mother. During the winter, weather conditions in Michigan make it unsafe for her to leave the house, so we spend most of our days indoors. I often become depressed and isolated during this time of year. How can I avoid the winter blues when caregiving keeps me at home?


Laura from Traverse City, MI


5 Tips to Avoid the Winter Blues

Dear Laura,

I’m sorry to hear you are feeling depressed. It may help to know you are not alone. The winter blues, also called cabin fever, are common during this time. It can often be attributed to shorter days and less sun exposure. Those who spend most of their time indoors, like many caregivers, may have difficulty sleeping, reduced interest in socializing, and less motivation. These feelings can make it challenging to fulfill caregiving duties. Here are a few ways caregivers can avoid the winter blues.

5 Tips to Beat Winter Blues

  1. Exercise every day.

Regular physical activity can alleviate sadness. Exercise reduces stress hormones and increases feel-good hormones. By working out daily, caregivers can boost their mood and energy levels. There are plenty of exercises you can perform at home with little to no equipment. You can even find exercises that you and your loved one can do together.

  1. Try light therapy.

Light therapy, or phototherapy, is commonly used to treat the winter blues. This method involves sitting by a lightbox immediately after waking. The lightbox mimics natural light, which triggers your brain to stop producing melatonin. This tells your body it’s time to be awake and alert.

  1. Check for vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency rates are higher in areas like Michigan, where the winter is cold. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to sadness and depression. If you feel down during the winter, have your vitamin D levels tested by your doctor. If you are deficient, they may be able to prescribe a supplement that can help.

  1. Stay connected to others.

Maintaining a healthy social life is essential for your overall health and happiness. Many caregivers struggle to feel connected to others, especially when they can’t leave the house as often as they’d like. Today, you can keep in touch without having to go anywhere. Calling or texting loved ones, joining an online chat group, or connecting on social media are great options.

  1. Talk to your doctor.

If you are unable to improve winter blues, talk to your doctor. You may have a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Common symptoms of SAD include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sudden loss of interest

A doctor will be able to develop a plan to help manage your symptoms.

Caring for Yourself

It is difficult to care for others when you don’t take time to care for yourself. Going too long without tending to your needs can affect your health. If your caregiving role is preventing you from leaving your house, you may want to consider respite care. Respite care gives caregivers short-term relief from their caregiving duties. It can be especially helpful for those concerned about leaving their loved ones unattended.

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities offers short-term or respite care for seniors and families throughout Michigan. If you are interested in learning more about respite care or any of our senior living options, contact us to schedule a private tour.

The Importance of Life Enrichment Programs at a Senior Living Community

The Importance of Life Enrichment Programs at a Senior Living Community

Dear Donna,

I am helping my parents find a senior living community. Some of the places we are exploring mention life enrichment programs. We already have a lot to consider, including price, location, and services. These programs seem more like a perk, so I am not sure we need to spend much time assessing them.

Can you please explain what life enrichment programs are, and why they are important for senior living communities?


Jan from Grand Haven, MI

The Importance of Life Enrichment Programs

Dear Jan,

It’s great that you are helping your parents find a senior living community. There is so much families should know about assisted living in Michigan that the process can be overwhelming. However, a community’s life enrichment programs shouldn’t be overlooked.

Life enrichment programs are the plans and activities offered at a community that support residents’ physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being. In addition to fostering personal growth and creativity, these programs are designed to keep seniors engaged and active in the community.

Although they might seem like perks, they are much more than that. Having activities that suit your loved one’s lifestyle and interests is essential to their overall quality of life. Here are a few reasons you should look closely at life enrichment programs during your senior living search.

3 Reasons Senior Living Communities Need Life Enrichment Programs

  1. Keep seniors active

An active lifestyle is essential to healthy aging. Staying active can help seniors manage chronic medical conditions, maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and prolong independence. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to remain active after retirement. Life enrichment programs that include physical activity can keep seniors moving.

  1. Foster social connection

Strong relationships are important at any age. Feeling connected to others can reduce stress and anxiety, lower the risk of depression, and lead to a longer life. It also provides a sense of belonging, which contributes to self-esteem. It can be challenging for seniors to stay socially active, especially after retirement when they don’t have as many opportunities to meet people. Life enrichment programs with a social focus, such as those in a group setting, can help seniors make friends.

  1. Preserve cognitive health

Many senior enrichment programs include activities that promote cognitive health. Keeping the mind active improves memory and reasoning abilities, and gives an overall sense of achievement. By participating in life enrichment programs, seniors can preserve and sometimes improve their brain health. Reading, puzzles, and board games are all examples of life enrichment activities that stimulate the mind.

Senior Living Is about Living Your Best Life

Senior living isn’t just about finding a place to live; it’s about living your best life. Life enrichment programs help seniors become involved in enjoyable activities every day. An effective program doesn’t just offer a calendar full of activities. It includes those that benefit a senior’s quality of life.

When exploring senior living communities for your senior loved ones, be sure to ask about their activities and wellness programs.

I hope this gives you more insight into the benefits of life enrichment programs!



Heritage Senior Communities’ Unique Wellness Model

At Heritage Senior Communities, we believe in supporting every aspect of a senior’s wellness while helping them maintain their independence. Our unique Wellness Model focuses on encouraging our residents to stay mentally, physically, and emotionally engaged, in addition to staying healthy.

We invite you to schedule a tour at your local community to learn how our programs positively affect our residents’ everyday lives. Contact us today to learn more.

Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Tour Assisted Living Communities?

Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Tour Assisted Living Communities?

Dear Donna,

My siblings are visiting from out of town for the holidays. Our parents have both been struggling with health issues, and I think they would benefit from an environment that is a little more supportive.

I want my siblings to help me explore assisted living communities for our parents, but I am unsure about the timing. Are the holidays a good time to tour senior living communities?


Leanne from Saline, MI

Exploring Senior Living Communities during the Holidays

Dear Leanne,

The holidays are a common time for families to realize their aging loved ones need assistance. Family members visiting from out of town will see changes in a senior loved one’s health as more significant than those who see them every day. Visiting senior living communities during the holidays has some benefits.

4 Reasons to Tour Assisted Living Communities during the Holidays

  1. The family is together.

For many, the holiday season is the only time the entire family is together. Family members visiting from out of town can see changes in your loved one’s health for themselves. They can also offer a fresh perspective on what to look for in an assisted living community and help you come up with questions to ask on the assisted living tour.

  1. There are more activities.

Many senior living communities have more family activities during the holidays than at any other time of year. Events are a great chance to meet the residents and their families in a social setting. You can use this opportunity to ask them about their experience with the community.

  1. The mood is festive.

The holidays tend to put people in a good mood, so it’s an excellent time to meet the staff and residents in a community. Your loved one may also be more open-minded about exploring assisted living options. The festive atmosphere is a bonus, as it creates a warm and welcoming environment. Each of these factors can make the tour more enjoyable for seniors and families.

  1. You can beat the rush.

When families decide it’s time to start touring senior living communities, they usually put it off until after the holidays. For this reason, January can be a busy time for the communities. By starting the process during the season, you can beat the rush. Some communities even offer move-in specials. Discounted monthly rent, a free month of rent, or an application fee waiver are common promotions in December. Also, by starting early, your senior loved one may have more choices in terms of living space.

Touring Senior Living Communities

Visiting assisted living communities can be overwhelming. The process requires a lot of thought and careful consideration. By going during the holidays, seniors and their families can have a more enjoyable experience.

I hope this convinces you to tour senior living communities this holiday season!



Heritage Senior Communities

If you are having trouble deciding whether it is time to start exploring senior living options, we can help. The staff at Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living Center, has years of experience assisting seniors and their families. Contact us today to learn more.



4 Holiday Gifts to Pamper a Family Caregiver

4 Holiday Gifts to Pamper a Family Caregiver

Dear Donna,

My sister is our mother’s primary caregiver. She does a great job and regardless of how exhausted she is, she rarely complains. The holidays are coming up, and I would like to show her how much I appreciate everything she does.

Do you have any gift ideas for a weary caregiver? I’m looking for something special.

Sarah from Holland, MI

Pampering a Family Caregiver during the Holidays

Dear Sarah,

Family caregivers are busy and often pressure themselves to take care of others. It’s not uncommon for them to put their loved one’s needs ahead of their own. Unfortunately, when their needs are on the back burner too long, they can experience caregiver overload.

Caregiver overload, also referred to as caregiver burnout, occurs when they become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Many times, the best holiday gift ideas for Michigan caregivers give them a break from caregiving duties. By providing opportunities to relax and recharge, you can help prevent caregiver overload.

Here are a few gift ideas to pamper a family caregiver in your life.

4 Holiday Gifts for Caregivers

  1. Give them a break from cooking.

Many caregivers spend a lot of time preparing meals. It might be helpful to give them a break from cooking. There are a variety of ways you can do this:

  • Offer to cook their favorite meal.
  • Give them a gift card to a restaurant they enjoy.
  • Send food to their house using a meal delivery service.
  1. Spoil them with spa treatments.

Spa treatments, such as facials, massages, and hair appointments, can be wonderful gifts for caregivers. They provide an opportunity to have someone else take care of their needs for a change. You can even give them the spa treatment at home. For example, rejuvenating face masks, bath bombs, and essential oils make excellent gifts.

  1. Send flowers to their house.

Flowers are a timeless way to show appreciation. Caregivers will be delighted to receive a colorful arrangement. To really brighten up their day, include a personalized message.

  1. Relieve them from their caregiving duties.

One of the best gifts a caregiver can receive is a break. Even just a few hours of relief can help. If you can’t personally take over their responsibilities, consider paid respite care. These services, which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, can be provided in the senior’s home or at a senior living community, like Heritage Senior Communities.

Making Caregivers Feel Appreciated

Caregivers give so much of their time to others. The holiday season is a terrific time to give back and acknowledge their hard work. Regardless of what you give the caregiver in your life, they will appreciate knowing their efforts don’t go unnoticed.

I hope this helps you find the perfect gift for your sister!



Heritage Senior Communities

If you are interested in learning more about respite care or any of our other senior living options at Heritage Senior Communities, feel free to reach out to our staff. Each of our communities, including our Appledorn location, offers several options for seniors and their families. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease Dementia?

What Is Parkinson’s Disease Dementia?

Dear Donna,

My dad has Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD). What challenges are associated with the disease, and how can I make his life easier? As I will be his primary caregiver, I’m trying to learn everything I can.


Valerie from Saline, MI

Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Dear Valerie,

Parkinson’s disease is a medical condition that affects a person’s movements. Fifty to eighty percent of people with Parkinson’s develop dementia as their disease progresses. To be considered PDD, a person’s condition must affect their cognitive functioning at least a year after they started experiencing physical symptoms of the disease.

If you have a loved one with PDD, you are likely aware of the unique challenges experienced by those affected. Here are a few tips for PDD caregivers.

Challenges Associated with PDD

  1. Be mindful of the signs.

There are various symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, and each person is different. Tremors, shakiness, and a lack of facial expressions are a few of the most common. If the disease progresses to PDD, the cognitive symptoms become much more prominent. Your loved one might begin to experience memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and challenges solving problems.

Be patient if tasks take longer to complete or they need additional support.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

Mood swings, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia are also common symptoms of PDD. Your loved one may accuse you of things you didn’t do or become quick to anger for no apparent reason.

Out-of-character behaviors can be a result of the disease. Try to keep this in mind before you react, and don’t take anything too close to heart.

  1. Understand that socializing may be difficult.

Socializing is often one of the biggest challenges for a person with PDD. Because the disease affects a person’s motor and cognitive functioning, they might have a hard time communicating. It may take them longer to process information and come up with an appropriate response.

Caregivers can make communicating easier for loved ones with PDD by:

  • Slowing down their rate of speaking
  • Asking questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer
  • Giving them time to reply

Explore Senior Living Options

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be difficult, and the workload often increases if their condition progresses to PDD. Many caregivers realize they can no longer care for their loved one on their own and begin to explore local senior living communities.

Seniors with PDD and their families often find a memory care program helpful. These communities are staffed with care professionals who understand the challenges associated with PDD. They can keep your loved one active and assist them with activities of daily living.

I hope this helps you better care for your dad.



Heritage Senior Communities Offers Specialized Dementia Care

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, provides quality memory care for seniors with dementia. Our Specialized Dementia Care communities work with seniors experiencing cognitive impairment, including PDD, to provide assistance when needed and improve their overall quality of life.

Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options and to schedule a private tour.

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.