Fitness Trackers for Senior Walkers

Fitness Trackers for Senior Walkers

Health and wellness have been at the forefront of many conversations this year. As worries about the COVID-19 pandemic continue, older adults everywhere are wondering how to strengthen their immune system. In most cases, a well-balanced diet, exercise, and quality sleep are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.

If you haven’t been exercising regularly, discuss walking with your physician. When the weather is nice, you can enjoy a walk around your neighborhood or local park. When it’s snowy or rainy, a treadmill might be the answer.

Health Benefits of Walking

While walking might not seem like exercise, it yields many health benefits for older adults. The Arthritis Foundation recommends it to help control the pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Other benefits of walking include:

  • Weight management
  • Diabetes control
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved circulation
  • Stronger bones
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered Alzheimer’s risk

How much should you walk each day? Here’s what the experts say.

Walk Your Way to Better Health

The medical community often recommends 10,000 steps a day or 150 minutes a week of combined walking. Keep in mind 10,000 steps generally equates to about 5 miles.

If you are just starting out, however, setting a goal that high might be intimidating. Instead, begin by tracking how far you walk in a typical day. Once you have a baseline established, set small weekly goals to keep you moving closer to 10,000 steps.

A few ways to make walking more enjoyable are:

  • Adopting a senior dog (or borrowing one!)
  • Listening to music
  • Finding a walking buddy
  • Walking in different places each day

Senior-Friendly Fitness Trackers

How can you track your steps? There are a variety of devices available at many price points. Here are a few devices you can explore to track your daily steps:

  • 3DFitBud: This simple-to-use pedometer will track steps in every direction—up, down, forward, and backward. It also features an extra-large digital display, which is easier on aging eyes. At $24.99, it’s inexpensive.
  • Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker: This device does more than just count steps. It also has a real-time heart rate monitor and an inactivity monitor that alerts you if you’ve been sedentary too long. The backlit grayscale display and the touch screen are two senior-friendly features. The device can be purchased for about $150.
  • Apple Watch 5 Series: A device that might appeal to seniors is an Apple watch. This series offers an electrocardiogram (ECG) system that can detect cardiac abnormalities, like atrial fibrillation. The watch also has a fall detection tool. Prices start at $399.
  • Garmin Vivosmart 4 Fitness Tracker: Garmin trackers are also very popular. The long battery life, generally 7 days, is a nice benefit. Beyond tracking steps, the device also has a pulse OX sensor to measure oxygen, sleep tracker, inactivity alert, and calorie tracker. Cost ranges from $80 to $120.

Active Living at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, residents have a wide variety of opportunities to engage in fitness programs every day. From gardening to walking and morning exercise groups, there is an activity for every interest and ability. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more!

Food Choices That Help Manage Cholesterol

Food Choices That Help Manage Cholesterol

If you or a senior you are the caregiver for has high cholesterol, you aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 102 million adults in this country have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL. This elevated level is considered unhealthy. Of them, 35 million have cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke.

To help manage it, the doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin. For many people, the side effects of this class of drugs are tough to manage. They include skin rash, muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, sleep problems, and an inflamed liver.

While statin concerns can be troublesome, it’s important to know how dangerous high cholesterol can be. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among older adults, and stroke is a leading cause of disability. High cholesterol increases the chances for both.

Is it possible to lower your cholesterol without taking medication?

For some adults, the answer is yes. Lifestyle plays a key role.

Using Diet and Exercise to Lower Cholesterol

A heart-healthy diet combined with exercise might lower your cholesterol without medication like a statin. But do you know what foods make up a heart-smart diet? Or what forms of exercise are senior-friendly?

Researchers are finding new evidence every year that the lifestyle of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea might be a solution. Residents of these areas tend to enjoy longer lives with fewer incidences of heart disease, dementia, and some types of autoimmune diseases.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

If you love the tastes of Spain, Italy, and Greece, you’re in luck. Olives, nuts, garlic, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados form the backbone of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Residents consume fewer servings of meat and greater amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, and lean protein.

People that live along the Mediterranean Sea also adhere to a lifestyle that promotes natural forms of exercise. Instead of working out in a fitness club, they swim, garden, walk their dog, and more. Instead of driving, many bike or walk to work. The sedentary lifestyle common in Western cultures is rare here.

What else can you do to maintain healthy cholesterol?

It is also important to note there are few smokers in Mediterranean zones. Despite the proven risks, the CDC estimates that 13% of the US population are smokers. Not only does smoking increase your risk for many forms of cancer, it also impacts cholesterol.

Smoking increases bad cholesterol (HDL) and decreases good cholesterol (LDL). If you are a smoker, it’s just one more reason to quit. Talk with your physician for advice on which smoking cessation programs have the best outcomes.

Live Well at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we understand the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Whether you are searching for independent living, assisted living, or memory care, well-balanced meals and senior-friendly fitness activities are part of daily life. Call the community nearest you to learn more!

Are Probiotics Worth the Expense?

Are Probiotics Worth the Expense?

As worries about the coronavirus continue, many people are exploring ways to build their immune system. Because seniors are at higher risk for contracting the virus, it is vital for them to live as healthy as possible. One product often hyped as an immunity builder is probiotic supplements.

Probiotics are billed as a simple way to rebalance good and bad bacteria in the gut. Research seems to indicate a healthy gut lowers your risk for disease and health problems. But are they worth the expense? Are there less-expensive options that yield the same results?

Unfortunately, health care researchers disagree on their effectiveness. Some say they work, and others say the same benefits can be achieved through diet.

Consumers also seem to be split. But the industry itself is booming. Data published in the Nutrition Business Journal showed Americans spent an estimated $1.8 billion on probiotic products in 2016, up from $425 million in 2008. When asked, those using probiotics say they help with everything from lowering cholesterol to reducing inflammation.

While taking a supplement might be easier, quality probiotics often come with a high price tag. The good news is probiotics naturally occur in some foods. By working them into your diet, you and your senior loved one might be able to pump up your immune system.

Foods That Improve Gut Health

If you would like to try improving your gut health without supplements, a few foods to try include:

  • Kefir
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Soft cheeses (i.e., Gouda, cheddar, and mozzarella)
  • Green olives
  • Greek yogurt
  • Sourdough bread

Boosting the Immune System

In addition to COVID-19 worries, we are inching closer to the traditional flu season. It’s one more reason older adults need to take every possible measure to boost their immunity.

  1. Is your senior loved one up to date on recommended vaccines?

Talk with your doctor to see if you are in compliance with the vaccinations recommended by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Two of the most pressing include:

  • Influenza: Early fall is the best time to get your annual flu shot. Most experts advise seniors get vaccinated in early October to be protected against early flu outbreaks.
  • Pneumonia: In most cases, you will only need to receive the pneumonia vaccine once in your lifetime. If you received it when you were under 55, however, your physician may want you to repeat the shot in later years.

In addition, talk with the doctor about shingles and Tdap vaccines.

  1. Does your older family member eat well and drink water?

A healthy diet rich with lean protein, fruit, and vegetables is essential. Nutritionists often encourage people to plan menus with produce in all colors of the rainbow. That helps ensure you consume necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is another must. If a senior you care for doesn’t like water, try adding lemon or berries. You can also encourage them to eat foods with high water content, such as melon, cucumber, leafy greens, and celery.

  1. Is the senior getting enough quality sleep?

When you don’t sleep or aren’t getting good sleep, the body can become run down. That makes people more susceptible to illness. Unfortunately, insomnia and other sleep disorders are common among older adults.

If your senior loved one isn’t a good sleeper, their physician may need to order a sleep study. It can help identify problems and ways to correct them.

  1. Does your family elder exercise?

From chair yoga to walking, there are plenty of exercises for seniors to enjoy indoors. If you are self-isolating due to COVID-19, ask your doctor which types and durations of exercise are best.

Programs like Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging and SilverSneakers On-Demand make it easier to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle from the privacy of your own home. Go4Life is free for seniors, and SilverSneakers is a membership program many insurance companies help finance.

Follow Our Blog

We hope you found this blog helpful in your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. The Senior Community Lifestyle blog is updated at least once each week. We tackle topics ranging from giving up driving to moving a loved one who has dementia. Bookmark this site and stop back often for the latest news.

National Wellness Month: 4 Steps to Successful Aging

National Wellness Month: 4 Steps to Successful Aging

The older you get, the more likely you are to pay attention to health and wellness. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet discovered the fountain of youth, despite what beauty ads say. Researchers do, however, have sound advice on steps you can take to look and feel your best as you grow older.

 

In honor of National Wellness Month, celebrated every August, we share some tips for living a healthier life.

 

4 Steps to a Healthier You

 

Here are some leading research-based steps you can incorporate into your life to look and feel better at every age.

 

  1. Stay social and engaged.

Pursuing new passions and reconnecting with old ones when you retire offers more benefits than being just plain fun. It could also lengthen your life. Socializing reduces the likelihood of isolation, keeps older adults active and less sedentary, and promotes a positive outlook.

Researchers who study the link between seniors and socialization have observed not just improvements in longevity but also in quality of life. They have even compared the benefits of being active in social groups to those of regular physical exercise.

But don’t cancel your fitness club membership! Our next tip is to get moving and stay active.

 

  1. Stand up and get moving.

Too much sitting is bad for your health. It makes you look and feel older. When you are physically fit and active, you reap a variety of rewards. Exercise decreases stress hormones which, in turn, make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

You won’t need to pay for a gym membership or torture yourself jogging either. There are endless low-impact forms of exercise you can engage in at home or in your neighborhood. Walking, chair yoga, riding a recumbent bike, and gardening are a few to discuss with your primary care physician.

Limiting how much time you spend sitting every day also helps. Instead of sitting down to talk on the phone, for example, connect your smartphone to Bluetooth and walk while you talk.

 

  1. Eat nutritious foods.

A healthy diet is one of the most important steps you can take to age well. The struggle for many seniors is figuring out what that means. The MyPlate app has loads of great tools and tips for healthy-minded older adults.

Also talk with your doctor about adopting the Mediterranean Diet. It’s linked to lower bad cholesterol, fewer incidences of cancer, and a healthier heart. The good news is meals are simple and easy to prepare.

 

  1. Find healthy ways to manage stress.

Chronic stress negatively impacts health. It can contribute to high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and more. Some people pick up bad habits to cope, such as smoking or drinking too much. That can make the issue even worse.

Instead, learn how to manage stress in positive ways. Meditation, journaling, swimming, and gardening are a few ideas to explore.

 

Live Well at Heritage Senior Communities

 

From great food to a variety of daily life enrichment activities, residents of Heritage Senior Communities enjoy the best quality of life. Visit The Heritage Difference to learn what makes our communities so special!

How to Cope When a Parent Starts Dating Again

How to Cope When a Parent Starts Dating Again

Dear Donna:

My father passed away unexpectedly two years ago. After over forty years of marriage, my mom has been lost without him. She recently joined a single seniors group at her church. They play cards, go out for lunch, and organize trips to museums, zoos, and other local destinations.

While we were forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis, her new friends stayed in touch virtually. They used online platforms and apps like Zoom and Houseparty to stay connected. It’s been such a blessing to see her happy again.

However, I wasn’t expecting her to start dating again as a result of joining this group. While I haven’t mentioned it to her, I’m really struggling with the idea. My husband tells me I need to get over it, but I’m not sure how.

Do you have any advice?

Gratefully,

Nina in Grand Haven, MI

 

What to Do When a Senior Parent Starts Dating

 

Dear Nina:

First, please accept my sympathy on the sudden loss of your father. It’s never easy to lose someone you love, especially without warning.

While you might feel alone in being concerned about your mother’s return to dating, you aren’t. Many adult children share this concern. I do have a few suggestions that might help you find peace:

  1. Be honest with yourself: Take some time to think honestly about what you find most upsetting. Does it feel like you mother is betraying your father? Does her age worry you? Are you fearful of her being taken advantage of? By figuring out your concerns, you may be able to come to terms with this change in both your lives.
  2. Communicate with your mom: While no one wants to hear the intimate details about a parent’s dating life, it is important that your mom can share her new adventures with you. It might also give you an opportunity to overcome some of your worries. For example, if you are concerned about her safety, talking through a few precautions might make you feel better.
  3. Discuss safety concerns: Speaking of safety precautions, the dating world has changed a lot since the last time your mom dated. From making sure she meets new friends in public places to not loaning money, it’s essential to discuss potential risks. If your mom is utilizing dating websites, “How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites” offers good advice.

Best of luck to you and your mother, Nina!

Kind regards,

Donna

 

Heritage Senior Communities

 

A fourth-generation, family-owned senior housing company, Heritage Senior Communities proudly serves older adults and families in Michigan and Indiana. We offer independent and assisted living, as well as memory care and respite services. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more!

Do Seniors Need Colonoscopies?

Do Seniors Need Colonoscopies?

Dear Donna:


My father is 81 years old. He last had a colonoscopy at 70. It’s always been tough getting him to comply with doctor’s orders, especially when it comes to this screening.

We have an appointment with his primary care doctor in two weeks. I suspect the topic will come up. At his age, how necessary is it to have this procedure again? While he’s fairly healthy, his age alone has me worried.

Do you know if older adults still need colonoscopies? Any information would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Stefanie in Saginaw, MI

 

Age and Colonoscopy: What to Consider

 

Dear Stefanie:

What a great question! It’s one residents at Heritage Senior Communities likely have too.

Colonoscopies are a preventive screening typically recommended for adults over the age of 50. Research shows colonoscopies save lives. Colon cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. While most people know they should get one, not everyone follows through.

The unpleasantness of the prep combined with the perceived loss of dignity of the procedure are the leading reasons people put it off. For older adults, there are other concerns. The side effects of sedation and the risk of a bowel perforation are two.

Adults over the age of 65 are at 30% higher risk for perforation. For seniors, this can be life-threatening. If you are a senior or the adult child of one, here’s what to consider before scheduling a colonoscopy.

 

Colonoscopies and the Older Adult

 

  1. Age: In 2008, the United States Preventive Services Task Force published updated guidelines on colorectal cancer screening to include recommendations based on age. They recommend colorectal cancer screening using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy from age 50 through 75. After age 76, they recommend against a colonoscopy unless there are special circumstances.
  2. Last screening: Physicians also consider the date of last colonoscopy, especially for those between the age of 65 and 75. Because colon cancer typically grows slowly, seniors who have had clear colonoscopies might not be required to have another. The decision should be made on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Alternative screenings: Another suggestion is to talk with your father’s physician about alternatives to colonoscopy. There are several, such as a sigmoidoscopy or a fecal occult blood test. Cologuard, a newer, non-invasive colon cancer test, is covered by Medicare. Research shows it to be effective at detecting colon cancer, even in early stages.

 

While colonoscopy is likely to be considered the gold standard in colon cancer screenings for the foreseeable future, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the risks with your father’s physician.

Hope this helps, Stefanie!

Kind regards,

Donna