5 Experience Gifts to Give a Senior This Holiday Season

5 Experience Gifts to Give a Senior This Holiday Season

When people think about gifts, they often think of tangible items and forget about gifts that are experienced. But these types of gifts can be great for seniors for various reasons.

Experience gifts are often more thoughtful, they take up less space, and they usually create longer lasting memories. Here are 5 experience gifts to give a senior this holiday season.

5 Experience Gifts for Seniors


  1.  Yoga Classes

Not only is yoga fun, but regular yoga practice provides many health benefits. Yoga has been shown to decrease hypertension, strengthen bones, and maintain a healthy weight.

The three basic elements of yoga—meditation, breathing, and posture—can help manage blood pressure by decreasing nervous system activity. Allow your loved one to experience the positive effects of yoga by getting them yoga classes this holiday season.

  1. A Luxury Massage

A luxury massage can be a particularly great gift for an older adult. Seniors are at a greater risk for developing many health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure. Massage therapy has been shown to improve the side effects that often come with these conditions.

Seniors are also more prone to problems with posture. It can increase their risk of falling. Massage can improve postural stability and balance, therefore reducing fall risk.

Equally important, a massage is relaxing. A luxury massage can give seniors a chance to unwind and be pampered.

  1. A Family Vacation

Planning a family vacation for your loved one can be a great gift. It will give your family time to bond and create new memories.

Be sure to plan a trip the entire family can enjoy. Your loved one will appreciate all of the memories they will make during the vacation.

  1. Painting Classes

Painting classes are another great gift. In general, art has many benefits for seniors and their overall well-being. It has been shown to reduce many of the symptoms associated with chronic disease, including anxiety and depression.

Art can also provide an opportunity to socialize and foster a stronger sense of identity. Both are important to a senior’s overall health. Purchasing painting classes for your loved one can allow them to reap many of these benefits in addition to having fun.

  1. Flower Arranging Classes

Flower arranging classes can be a great gift for seniors. Similar to painting classes, flower arranging fosters creativity and provides an opportunity for seniors to socialize.

Flower arranging can also be a great option for seniors who love to garden. Giving your loved one flower arranging classes will allow them to explore their passion for plants in a new way.

We hope these ideas help you come up with some fun experience gifts for your senior loved one!

4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays

Caregivers already have a lot on their plate. The emotional and physical toll of caregiving can be sizable, especially if a senior loved one has dementia. This makes them extra vulnerable to stress when the busy holiday season rolls around. If it’s not managed properly, stress can lead to burnout.

Here are 4 ways to beat caregiver stress during the holidays.


4 Ways to Beat Caregiver Stress During the Holidays


  1. Understand Where Your Stress Comes From

The first step to beating caregiver stress is to identify where your stress comes from. Once you identify the situations that cause the most stress, you can try to avoid them.

Here are a few common reasons caregivers get stressed during the holiday season.

  • Not having enough time.
  • Family relationships.
  • Setting unrealistic expectations.
  • Financial concerns.
  1. Know Your Limitations

One of the biggest mistakes caregivers make is thinking they can do everything. You can save yourself a lot of grief by accepting this is just a myth. Not even the most energetic caregivers can do it all.

Here are a few ways you can limit your responsibilities.

  • Modify traditions. It’s okay to simplify or even skip holiday traditions. Even if you traditionally host celebrations or prepare the meals, it’s okay to opt out this year.
  • Decline invitations. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event you are invited to. Your friends and family will understand if you have to say no.
  1. Make Your Health a Priority

During the holidays, caregivers are often so busy that they neglect their health. Unfortunately, this will put you on the quickest path to burnout.

Here are a few ways caregivers can stay healthy this season.

  • Don’t overindulge in treats. The holidays are often full of sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy treats. While it’s okay to enjoy a few treats, it’s not okay to overindulge. Doing so can leaving you feeling sluggish.
  • When you are exhausted, exercise may be the last thing you want to do. But contrary to what you may think, exercise can boost your mental and physical energy. Try your best to incorporate exercise in to your daily routine.
  1. Ask for Help

Caregiving is a lot of work, and sometimes you will need help. Here are a few ways caregivers can get support:

  • Join a support group. Support groups can be a great way for you to connect with people who face similar challenges.
  • Ask friends and family members. If you need additional help during the holidays, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family. Most of the time they will be happy to assist you.
  • Explore respite care. Many senior communities like Heritage offer short-term respite care. This allows caregivers to take a break by offering their loved ones a safe place to stay.


The Holidays Can Be a Wakeup Call


The holidays can be a great chance for your family to see firsthand how much work you put in as a caregiver. This time of year may even encourage them to start thinking about your loved one’s long-term care. That may mean touring a local assisted living community, such as Heritage. Contact us to ask about the services offered by any of the Heritage Senior Communities.

Cholesterol & Aging: How it Changes and How to Manage it

Cholesterol & Aging: How it Changes and How to Manage it

High cholesterol is a common health concern among older adults. As you age, your cholesterol often rises. This puts seniors at risk for serious health complications like, heart disease, angina, and peripheral artery disease.

But why is high cholesterol an issue for older adults, and what can seniors do to protect themselves?


What is Cholesterol?


Before you can understand why cholesterol rises with age, it’s helpful to learn a little about cholesterol and its role in the body.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found throughout your bloodstream. It is crucial for many physiological processes that are necessary for survival, like forming cell membranes, making hormones, creating vitamin D, and producing bile to help digestion.

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL is the type of cholesterol you don’t want. It can build up in your arteries, causing them to narrow and possibly even become blocked. This is a serious problem because it reduces blood flow, which can result in heart attack, stroke, or a blood clot. When medical professionals use the phrase “high cholesterol,” this is the type of cholesterol they are referring to.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is sometimes referred to as the “healthy” cholesterol. HDL protects you from the complications that clogged or narrowed arteries can cause by removing LDL from the bloodstream.


Why is High Cholesterol an Issue for Older Adults?


Once you know the basics about cholesterol, you can begin to understand why it’s a concern for seniors.

  1. More Time to Accumulate

High cholesterol doesn’t occur overnight; it takes years for arteries to become narrowed and clogged. For seniors, build-up has had a longer time to accumulate.

  1. Other Conditions Increase Risk for Complications

Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are prevalent among seniors. Each of these can increase the risk for complications associated with high cholesterol.

  1. Unhealthy Diet

Seniors who don’t follow a well-balanced diet are more prone high cholesterol and its associated problems.


How Do You Manage High Cholesterol?


The earlier you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the better your cholesterol levels will be in the long run. Here are a few tips to manage your cholesterol numbers:

  1. Get your cholesterol checked regularly. If you want to manage your cholesterol, it’s important to check your numbers regularly. Adults over 20 should get their numbers measured every five years. Doing so will allow you and your doctor to address issues before they become a serious concern.


  1. Adopt a heart-healthy diet. Avoid foods that can raise your cholesterol like saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. Opt for fresh foods, vegetables, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.


  1. Exercise regularly. Make it a priority to exercise every day. Try to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and strength train at least 2 days a week.


  1. Medications. If high cholesterol is a concern, it may be a good idea to consult with your doctor about taking medications to help you maintain healthy numbers.


Assisted Living Combines Independence with Support


If your senior loved one is struggling to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, it may be time to consider moving to a senior living community. Most communities offer nutrient-dense meals tailored to the specific needs of senior citizens.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is the day our nation gathers to honor its prisoners of war and soldiers who are still missing, as well as their family members.

This observance takes place the third Friday in September, making 2018 National POW/MIA Recognition Day September 21st. In honor of this national observance, here are the answers to 4 frequently asked questions about POW/MIA Recognition Day.


  1. What does POW/MIA Recognition Day mean to the families?

Imagine if someone you love went missing and never returned. Think about how you would wonder what happened to them. Are they safe? Are they in pain? And perhaps the most difficult question of all: Are they still alive?

For the families of those who are missing, this is their reality. And the hard truth is that some may never know the answers to their questions. They will continue to suffer from something referred to as an ambiguous loss.

An ambiguous loss is a term we use to describe losses related to presence and absence. There are two main types: a physical absence with a psychological presence, and a physical presence with a psychological absence.

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may already be familiar with the latter. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s is physically there, but they are psychologically absent.

The families of those who are still missing experience the opposite. Their loved ones are missing, but they don’t have closure.

Ambiguous loss makes it difficult to move on. National POW/MIA Recognition Day reminds us that there are families who tirelessly carry the burden of their missing loved ones.


  1. What is the National League of POW/MIA?

The National League of POW/MIA helps honor our nation’s promise to leave no one behind. The league’s sole purpose is as follows:

  • Obtain the release of all prisoners
  • Reach the fullest possible accounting for the missing
  • Attain repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War

The league allows families to feel like they are not alone. There is an entire team just as determined as they are to bring their loved one home.


  1. What is the significance of the POW/MIA flag?

In 1970, the National League of POW/MIA families designed the flag to represent our missing military members. Today, the flag continues to serve as a symbol of America’s determination to account for the brave men and women who are still missing and unaccounted for.

In 1988, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act, which requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown six days a year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.


  1. How do you observe POW/MIA Recognition Day?

We have our courageous military men and women to thank for the freedoms we enjoy today. As a nation, it is our obligation to acknowledge that every veteran made a sacrifice, and those who never made it home made the ultimate sacrifice.

There are many ways you can honor veterans and observe POW/MIA Recognition Day. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Take time to reflect on those who were held prisoner, who never made it home, and whose families desperately want answers.
  • Share a heartfelt message on social media thanking veterans for their service and acknowledging those who have yet to return.
  • If you know someone who has a missing family member, send them a card. Let them know you are thinking about them and acknowledge their strength.
  • Fly the flag on POW/MIA Recognition Day.
  • Donate to the National League of POW/MIA to support its mission.


Gone But Never Forgotten

Some were taken prisoner, some are simply missing. One thing remains the same: they are all missed.

10 Hydrating Foods to Beat the Summer Heat

10 Hydrating Foods to Beat the Summer Heat

Did you know that you don’t have to just drink water to stay hydrated? Although drinking water is important, it’s not your only option. During the summer, plenty of different foods can help you beat the heat.

10 Foods That Help Keep You Hydrated

  1. Watermelon

For a hydrating summer treat, there’s nothing better than watermelon, which is more than 90% water. It’s also low in fat and calories and contains a decent amount of vitamin C. Keep a bowl in your fridge or take some to the park or the beach to stay hydrated.

  1. Cucumber

At 96% water, cucumber is one of the most hydrating vegetables available. Cheap and plentiful in summer, it’s great to consume with dips or in salads to increase your water intake.

  1. Celery

The next time you crave something crunchy, consider celery sticks over potato chips. Not only is it lower in fat and calories, but celery will also help keep you hydrated better than saltier snacks. It’s also full of nutrients like vitamin K, potassium, and dietary fiber.

  1. Lettuce

Whether used in salads or added to sandwiches, adding more lettuce to your diet can be refreshing and hydrating. The more color, the better: choose lettuce with dark green leaves to get more nutrients.

  1. Peaches

A ripe, juicy peach in the summer can satisfy your sweet tooth and your thirst. Besides being full of water and low in fat, peaches are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Choose fresh peaches over the sugary, canned option.

  1. Zucchini

Vegetable gardens overflow with zucchini in the summertime, making it a good option for getting more water in to your diet. Since cooking can remove a lot of the vegetable’s water content, consider consuming it raw, such as spiralized into noodle shapes.

  1. Yogurt

Not only does yogurt contain a significant amount of water, but it is packed with protein, vitamin D, calcium, and gut-healthy cultures. Rather than buying yogurt cups packed with sugar and other additives, consider buying plain, low-fat yogurt and adding your own choice of fruit and other flavorings.

  1. Tomatoes

Did you know that one medium tomato provides about a half cup of water? Tomatoes also contain fiber, antioxidants, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Add them to soups, salads, or salsas.

  1. Soup

While it may not be the first choice for a hot summer day, soup is another easy way to get more water. Opt for broth- and vegetable-based soups rather than rich, cream-based varieties. A cup of soup with a salad or small sandwich makes for an easy, light lunch.

  1. Cottage cheese

If you need a low-fat protein choice that also increases your fluid intake, cottage cheese is another good option. Choose a low-fat variety and mix in some fruit for added nutrients and flavors.

Health and Nutrition for Senior Loved Ones

Heritage Senior Communities provides healthy, balanced meal options to help improve and maintain quality of life for residents. Contact us today to learn more about our living options or to schedule a tour of one of our residences.

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

Older adults may already know that hot summer temperatures can create health risks like sunburn and heatstroke. But can the humidity also be dangerous?

Research shows that high humidity, especially when combined with high temperatures, may create cardiovascular risks. Specifically, humidity may have an effect on adults with high blood pressure. Here’s what you should know and how seniors can protect themselves.


How Humidity Can Affect Adult with High Blood Pressure


The greatest risks are when the temperature is above 70 degrees F and the humidity is more than 70 percent. Higher humidity means that there is more moisture in the air, which can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and cool off.

Blood pressure specifically may be affected in summer weather because of the body’s attempts to radiate heat. High temperatures coupled with high humidity cause more blood flow to the skin, which may require the heart to beat faster and harder. In fact, the body may circulate twice as much blood per minute compared to a cool day.

Heat and sweating can also lower the amount of fluid in the body, which can reduce blood volume and lead to dehydration. This may create strain on the heart.


Risk Factors Vulnerable to Humidity


Although anyone can be impacted by heat and humidity without protection, some people are at higher risk. Individuals over the age of 50, those who are overweight, or those who have heart, lung, or kidney conditions may be more affected by humidity.

Other risk factors may include poor circulation, low-sodium diets, alcohol use, and taking certain medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or blood-pressure medication.


Warning Signs of Stress From Heat and Humidity


The following symptoms, whether they apply to yourself or a loved one, require immediate action against heat stress:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Rapid pulse


If you think you may be experiencing heat stress, move to a cooler, air-conditioned, or shaded area and drink plenty of fluids. You may also want to take a cool shower or bath and lie down.

If the symptoms don’t improve, seek medical help immediately.


Take Precautions Against Humidity


Many of the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to humidity are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are also many options to help protect them.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (even when you don’t feel thirsty).
  • Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks on very hot and humid days.
  • If you spend a lot of time outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics.
  • Wear properly fitted, well-ventilated shoes and socks that repel sweat.
  • Avoid spending too much time outside when the sun and heat are strongest, usually 12pm to 3pm.


Safe, Appropriate Care in All Seasons


Heritage Senior Communities has 15 locations throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, providing a variety of options for your loved one’s specific, unique situation. Schedule a tour by contacting us today!