Sticking to a Restricted Diet During the Holiday Season

Sticking to a Restricted Diet During the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season of delicious food and holiday treats. Starting with that nice big Thanksgiving turkey and continuing through the remainder of the year with cookies, pie, eggnog, and more. It always seems that no celebration is free from enticing foods. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, seniors on a restricted diet face one temptation after another.

But the good news is, there are ways to both enjoy the season and stick to your nutrition plan.

Tips for Sticking to Your Restricted Diet

Here are some tips for staying on track with your diet, whether it’s low sodium, diabetes-friendly or a heart-healthy one.

  1. Look for Lean Sources of Protein at Special Dinners

Older Americans need to ensure that they are getting enough protein in their diets. However, like everyone else, seniors should take care not to eat too much fat.  Thanksgiving turkey is a good source of lean protein, but only if you opt for skinless pieces.

Traditional beef dinners for Christmas can be good options as well, but be sure to trim off any fat that remains after cooking. Another reason to eat red meat is that it’s a good source of iron and older Americans are often at greater risk of developing anemia.

  1. Use Herbs & Spices or Lemon Juice Instead of Salt

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may have put you on a low-sodium diet. Instead of saying, ‘please pass the salt,’ try asking your hostess if she has spices or lemon juice on hand. Herbs and spices can work wonders on vegetables and meat without adding sodium to your meal.

  1. Minimize Your Indulgence of Sweet Treats

If you are diabetic, you already know about all the dietary trouble makers that lurk between Halloween and the New Year. You don’t have to say ‘no’ to absolutely everything.

Keep an eye on portion size. Most sweets are very high in calories. If you’re set on sampling that pumpkin pie, do some substitution with other carbs. For example, pass on the sweet potatoes so you can enjoy a small slice of pie.

Think about how you will say ‘no’ to sweets. To ease the social pressure to try everything, it may help to plan how you’ll politely decline. Phrases as simple as, “No thank you” or “It looks delicious but I’m still full from dinner” can do the trick without hurting your host’s feelings.

Brighten the Holidays by Staying Healthy

If you’re thinking of altering your diet, it’s always best to talk to your doctor first. They’ll be the first to tell you sticking to your restricted diet takes effort, especially during this festive season.

Heritage Senior Living Communities make it easy to eat healthy during the holidays and year-round. Find out about our Heritage Hospitality dining program by contacting us any time!

Seniors, It’s Time to Get Your Flu Shot!

Seniors, It’s Time to Get Your Flu Shot!

Whether it’s autumn, winter or spring, no one has to explain the likely cause of these symptoms: chills, fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s probably the flu. And as we head in to flu season, it’s important for family caregivers and their senior loved ones to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine.

Best Time for a Flu Vaccine

The best time for a flu shot is before influenza season actually starts. Most health care professionals advise receiving the vaccine in mid-October. That gives the body time to build up immunity before the bug starts making the rounds.

If you are a caregiver, you might find yourself wondering if and why you need a flu shot. Especially if you are healthy.

Here’s what to consider.

Why Caregivers Need Flu Shots

Caregivers who have strong immune systems still have many reasons to get the shot.

  • Your immune system may be compromised unexpectedly in the middle of flu season. Increased stress, health concerns or lack of sleep can impact your ability to fend off sickness.
  • You may have only a mild reaction to the flu, but you may still expose your loved one to it.
  • You may unknowingly be a carrier of the flu virus because symptoms don’t always appear immediately.

Seniors and Flu Shots

Older adults would be wise to get the flu shot for the same reasons, plus these:

  • For people who are 65 years and older, there’s a higher risk for hospitalization and complications such as pneumonia.
  • Older adults may have a weakened immune systems caused by pre-existing health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and even some neurological conditions.
  • Visits from grandkids, neighbors and friends may provide an unwelcome opportunity for the flu to spread. That’s because a person may feel perfectly healthy, yet be contagious. People with the flu are most contagious on the day before symptoms appear. They won’t even suspect that they are going to get sick the next day.

Clearing Up Misconceptions about the Flu Shot

Here are a two of the common misconceptions people have about the flu shot:

  1. The shot will give me the flu. This persistent myth keeps older adults from being vaccinated. According to the CDC, the flu shot contains an inactivated virus. You cannot get the flu from it!
  2. The flu shot is less effect on seniors. While this might be true in some cases, even limited protection is better than no protection. Experts also say that if a senior does develop the flu after receiving their shot, the symptoms may be much less severe.

Side Effects from the Flu Vaccine

OK, so you’ve decided to get the flu shot. Now you want to know what the side effects could be.

In general, side effects from receiving a flu vaccine are very minimal. They might include headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches, pain around the injection site, and a general feeling of malaise.

Happily, you can expect any side effects to go away a lot faster than the flu.

Live a Healthy Life at Heritage Senior Living Communities

At Heritage Senior Living Communities, we make flu shots available to our residents and employees. It’s just another way that we provide excellent care for our older adults.

In addition, you’ll find enrichment activities, exercise classes and community support—all of which have been shown to help to build the immune system. Don’t wait another season. Call us to schedule a visit soon!

Healthy Bones: What Seniors Can do to Keep Bones Strong

Healthy Bones: What Seniors Can do to Keep Bones Strong

As we age our bone density decreases, making it easier to break a bone if we have a fall or an accident. Seniors who maintain good bone health can often reduce the chance they’ll break a bone if they fall or are otherwise injured. Strong bones also mean you’re less likely to end up in the hospital as the result of a fall.

So, how can you work towards improving bone strength?

A two-pronged approach to strong bones consists of good nutrition and daily exercise.

Healthy Bones at Any Age

Here’s what you should know about building healthy bones.

Get Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a nutrient important for building strong bones. Older adults are sometimes prone to deficiencies in vitamin D for numerous reasons. So it’s essential to consider diet, supplements, and exposure to sunlight in building healthier bones.

For seniors in Michigan, vitamin D can be especially hard to come by during our long winters. That’s why you’ll want to talk to your doctor about supplements and about which foods are rich in vitamin D. Eggs and soy are a few examples.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Weight-bearing exercises can increase bone strength. Check your local YMCA or senior center or, if you reside in a senior living community, check the weekly calendar for your fitness options. Of course, always talk with your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine.

Weight-bearing Activities for Older Adults

When it comes weight-bearing exercises for seniors, there are a variety of options from which to choose including:

  1. Fitness Walking. Walking is wonderful exercise at any age because it offers so many benefits. For strong bones, try to keep your pace brisk. It’s referred to as ‘fitness walking’. Whatever pace you choose, know that walking is one of the healthiest ways to spend your time!
  2. Yoga. A number of studies provide evidence that yoga is great for the bones. It builds bone density, improves balance and increases flexibility. And don’t let worries about not being flexible keep you from giving yoga a try. The great thing about this gentle form of exercise is that everyone can progress at his or her own pace.
  3. Tai Chi. You may have noticed people of all ages performing Tai Chi in a local park. It’s become a widely accepted way to build coordination and improve bone strength. What is Tai Chi? Basically, it’s a series of poses you move between in a fluid way, very slowly. Some studies show that you may even slow the rate of bone loss by practicing Tai Chi.
  4. Strength Training. Yep, hitting the gym is good for developing strong bones! If you don’t know how to use the weight machines at your local gym or health club, consult with the staff. They’re trained to help you. Better yet, if your budget permits, hire a personal trainer who’s schooled in the ways of helping older adults strengthen their bones through weight training. Senior living communities usually have someone on staff trained to help residents use the on-site gym.
  5. Dancing. If the gym isn’t your cup of tea, maybe dancing is your style? Whatever form of dancing you enjoy, head out on the dance floor and get moving! Or take a class and learn a new form of dancing. Never learned to Tango? Now’s the time! Classes have the added benefit of providing a social outlet, so you’re more likely to make new friends and have fun!

Beyond Strong Bones: Heritage Supports Fitness for Healthy Living!

At Heritage Senior Living communities, we care for and serve our residents holistically. That means we’re concerned not just about basic daily needs, but also about the physical, mental, and spiritual aspect of living. We want our residents to thrive!

You’ll find plenty of fitness options in each of our Michigan and Indiana communities. To learn more about our exercise programs, call us or come visit for a tour of our grounds.

How the Food Pyramid is Different for Seniors

How the Food Pyramid is Different for Seniors

Life changes as you get older, and so do your nutritional needs. You may have noticed a slowdown in your metabolism. Maybe you’re less physically active than you once were. Or maybe food just doesn’t taste the same so your diet is changing.

Whatever the case, it’s important to recognize the unique nutritional requirements of older adults. They’re based upon the nutritional guidelines for younger adults, but modified for those who are over 70.

Nutritional Recommendations for Older Adults

  • Whole Grains. When shopping for cereals, bread, and rice, seniors or caregivers should gravitate toward products made from whole, enriched grains. Aim for a variety of grains, too. There are a lot of interesting and delicious products on the market these days, such as quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain baked goods made with a variety of flours.
  • Fruit and Vegetables. Select bright-colored veggies like broccoli and deep-colored fruit like berries.
  • Low-fat protein sources. Stock up on dry beans, fish, eggs, and poultry. Nuts are good in moderation.
  • Low-fat/Non-fat dairy. Yogurt is also a good choice. It is usually rich in protein, calcium and other essentials.
  • Low Trans Fat. Steer clear of Trans fat which is linked to heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Instead, choose olive oil and plant-based spreads low in saturated and Trans fat.
  • Stay active. Walking is great for the heart and lungs. Housework, as you know, is also very physically demanding!
  • Even when you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to maintain your fluid intake. Water is the best option for health because it doesn’t contain sweeteners, caffeine or preservatives.


Special Focus on Supplements

Seniors should also speak with their primary care physician about incorporating supplements or fortified foods into their diet. In general, the most important nutrients here are vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B-12.

For seniors who live here in Michigan, vitamin D is important year around but especially in the winter. This essential vitamin does not occur naturally in foods so supplements are often necessary. The body can produce vitamin D in the sunshine, but in Michigan and northern Indiana the sun is not always in plentiful supply during some months of the year!

The Food Pyramid for Seniors

There’s no need to memorize all of these guidelines. The State of Michigan publishes a handy food guide reference for seniors. It’s easy to print it out so you can attach it to the front of your refrigerator for a quick consultation now and then. Called the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults, it was developed by scientists at Tuft University and recognizes the special nutritional needs of seniors.

Heritage Hospitality

Here at Heritage Senior Living, the basis for our dining program is built upon dietary and nutritional guidelines spelled out in the food pyramid for seniors. But that’s just the beginning.

Our dining program is anchored by sound nutrition, yet developed around the principles of fine hospitality. Residents have a choice in their dining preferences, with made-to-order breakfast, chef’s specials, and all meals served in a formal dining room. The result is an elevated dining experience we call ‘Heritage Hospitality’. Call us to find out more!

How Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed in Seniors?

How Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed in Seniors?

As loved ones age there are certain illnesses, like Alzheimer’s disease, that become concerns. Some of the worry comes from uncertainty about what the symptoms are, and how the disease is diagnosed.

Often, the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are mistaken for the normal side effects of aging. This can make diagnosis harder. However, there are tests that a doctor can do to assess whether or not your senior loved one is developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Are you concerned a loved one has Alzheimer’s?

The early stages of Alzheimer’s are often very easy to miss. This is made harder by the fact that some seniors struggling with forgetfulness will hide symptoms from family members and friends. However, if a senior loved one seems to be having problems with their memory, or has unexplainable behavior changes, it’s very important to discuss this with a doctor.

Share your Concerns with a Doctor

If you’re worried that a senior loved one may have Alzheimer’s, set up an appointment with their primary care physician. Explain to the doctor the symptoms and changes you’ve noticed. In order to assess your loved one for Alzheimer’s, the doctor may do the following:

  • Review your loved one’s complete medical history
  • Ask questions about behavior and personality changes
  • Conduct a physical exam, often including blood and urine tests to help rule out other conditions
  • Do a neurological exam, which could include brain scans
  • Perform cognitive tests to see if there are issues with language, problem solving, or memory

As the Mayo Clinic points out, getting a prompt and accurate Alzheimer’s diagnosis is very important. Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, an earlier diagnosis is very helpful. It allows more time to plan for the future, and a better chance of trying out some of the newer medications that have been shown to slow the progression of the disease or reduce the impact of symptoms in some people.

Alzheimer’s has Several Stages

Although every person who develops Alzheimer’s has a slightly different experience, the symptoms tend to follow a similar sequence. Some experts, like the Alzheimer’s Association, use a simple three phase model to describe the progress of the disease:

Early Stage: Mild Alzheimer’s: There are changes that happen in the brain long before the first symptoms are visible. However, the early stages of Alzheimer’s usually show up as memory lapses. This could include:

  • Forgotten names
  • Trouble remembering newly learned details
  • Losing or misplacing valuables
  • Increasing trouble staying organized

Middle Stage: Moderate Alzheimer’s:  This is usually the longest stage of the disease, often lasting for years. During this stage people forget more information, including details about their own lives and personal history, and struggle more with daily activities. This usually includes:

  • Personality changes, including increased suspiciousness or delusions
  • Confusion about the time or date
  • Difficulty remembering personal information that they always knew before
  • Trouble with bowel and bladder control

Late Stage: Severe Alzheimer’s: The final stages are where people usually need help with almost every aspect of daily life and personal care. This may include:

  • Struggling with, or inability to perform daily tasks
  • Reduced physical abilities, like walking, or sitting upright
  • Losing the ability to respond to surroundings
  • Inability to carry on conversations

Being familiar with the different stages and the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can help you be prepared.

If you want to know about the kind of care your senior loved one needs as the disease progresses, we would be happy to answer your questions about specialized memory care services.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

When you go with your senior loved one to their doctor’s appointment, the doctor will want to know a lot of information. They will probably ask about health, memory and mood changes, and whether they happen at a certain time of day. They may also ask about recent medication changes, and past health concerns.

In order to be prepared, take some time to write down all of the details you can think of about your loved one’s medical history beforehand. This will help to make sure that nothing important is overlooked during the visit.

It’s important to keep in mind that having trouble with memory doesn’t mean your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease. There are many other conditions and illnesses that have similar symptoms. Many of these are treatable. Ruling out other conditions is an important part of getting the right diagnosis. So don’t delay seeking professional help if you suspect there is a problem.

Can a Positive Attitude Affect How You Age?

Can a Positive Attitude Affect How You Age?

Keep your face to the sun, and you will never see the shadows!” This widely known Helen Keller quote perfectly sums up the conscious choice to stay focused on the positive things in your life. But is there more to having a sunny disposition than just “being a happy person?”


Maintaining a positive attitude affects every area of your life, from your health to your relationships. But surprisingly, it also has a huge impact on how well you age.

A positive attitude can mean a longer, happier life.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your attitude has a direct effect on your health. One of the primary areas affected is your stress level. Optimistic people manage their stress more effectively. This means that all of the negative effects of stress – like increased blood pressure – are greatly reduced in positive people.

So what does this mean for seniors?

Believe it or not, your outlook on life may have a direct effect on a number of health factors. Happier people tend to have:

  • lower levels of inflammation
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • reduced chance of developing cardiovascular disease

These benefits alone should make a positive disposition more appealing for everyone, regardless of their age. But for seniors, there is one side effect of being a positive person that can make all the difference – improved mental health.

TIME magazine shared research from the Yale School of Public Health. Scientists at Yale have discovered a direct link between how one feels about aging, and how well our brains ward off Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which took 25 years to complete, showed that people with a negative perspective of aging tended to have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s. People who viewed aging as a normal and natural part of life seemed to have much lower occurrences of the disease.

Choose joy. Because yes, it is a choice!

So what does a positive attitude look like? Well, contrary to what some people believe, it’s not about ignoring problems or refusing to deal with life’s troubles. People with a positive outlook still face struggles and challenges. The difference lies in how they choose to think about those issues.

People with a positive attitude:

  • Practice gratitude: They’re grateful for what they have, and don’t spend time lamenting what they don’t have.
  • Positive self-talk: They don’t call themselves names when they make mistakes, or label themselves with negative titles like “idiot” or “moron.”
  • Spend time with other happy people: They spend time with others who feed their positivity, and avoid those who try to bring them down.
  • Forgive: Whether it’s forgiving themselves, or forgiving others, letting go of grudges and resentments makes a big difference to how happy one can be.
  • Focus on the positive: They make a conscious choice to look for the best in a situation, or expect the best possible outcome. They also focus on the good in people instead of focusing on their shortcomings.

Aging with a Happy Heart

Psychology Today published an article written by Christopher Bergland, the world-class endurance athlete and coach, who claims that a positive attitude about aging can reduce frailty in seniors. Frailty, he says, has been directly linked to lower cognitive abilities, and can often lead to dementia.

What can you or your senior loved one do to improve the odds of aging well?

Beyond maintaining a positive outlook, older adults can stay active and engaged in a lifestyle that promotes joyful living. A senior living community helps make it easier to live and thrive during retirement years. Great community events, wellness programs, opportunities for lasting friendships, and a focus on life enrichment activities are a part of everyday life.

Do You Have Questions about Assisted Living?

We understand the decision to move to a senior living community is a big step. If you have questions about independent living, assisted living, or memory care services, we can help. Call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for answers or support today!