Fire Prevention Tips Older Adults Should Know

Fire Prevention Tips Older Adults Should Know

When it comes to older adults and fire deaths, the statistics are alarming. They’re probably all the incentive most of us need to take steps to protect the older loved ones in our lives.

Here’s a brief rundown of the statistics that highlight fire hazards for seniors.

Fire Dangers and Older Adults

This is what we know about older adults and fires:

  • Although adults over the age of 65 represent less than 15 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for nearly 40 percent of all fire deaths in 2014.
  • This same group of older adults was over 2.5 times more likely to perish in a fire than the rest of the American population.
  • Worse still, persons over 85 were four times more likely to die in a fire than the general population.

These deaths are often quite preventable by taking a few precautions. Since October is Fire Prevention Month, we thought it was a good time to review fire safety for seniors.

Let’s first talk about fire prevention tips that older adults and their caregivers need to know. And address how you can help save lives in the event a fire occurs.

Fire Safety Tips Older Adults Should Know

Fire safety starts with education. Here’s what you should know:

  • Space heaters should be placed at least three feet from curtains, furniture, or any type of flammable material. Make sure heaters are turned off whenever you leave the house.
  • Be sure working smoke detectors are installed on every level of your older loved one’s home. At a minimum, there should be functioning smoke detectors in the kitchen, hallways, bedrooms, and other often used living areas. Just as important, smoke detectors should be tested at least twice a month.
  • Have an escape plan in case a fire occurs. For older adults, a fire escape plan must be designed around their abilities and limitations, including mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. These devices should all be stored within easy reach at all times, especially during sleeping hours. Whenever possible, create an alternate escape plan just in case the main one is inaccessible.

Preventing Smoking-Related Fires

Smoking-related fires are the most common cause of fire deaths among both the general population and older adults. In fact, smokers are nearly seven times more likely to become victims of home fires than nonsmokers.

Five smoking safety rules seniors should never ignore include:

  • No smoking in bed or while lying down, ever
  • Use only large, heavy ashtrays and never leave them sitting on the arm of a chair or any other piece of furniture
  • Make sure that all cigarette butts are extinguished before disposing of them by wetting them thoroughly with water
  • Check between and under furniture cushions for smoldering butts before going to bed or leaving the house
  • Never smoke anywhere near an oxygen tank, not even in the same room

Preventing Electrical Fires

Electrical problems are another common cause of fires. These tips can help you identify potential hazards, such as:

  • Prevent appliances from overheating by making certain computers, stereo equipment and TVs have plenty of room for air to circulate
  • Never use or plug in an appliance that has a damaged cord
  • Keep all electrical cords where they can’t be walked on or damaged in any other way

Heritage Senior Communities Keeps You Informed

Part of our mission is to do all that we can to protect older adults from fires and other preventable tragedies. Hopefully, this information will help you and your family stay safe.

Please feel free to contact us any time for more information about senior living and to visit our blog frequently to stay updated on issues related to aging and caregiving.


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What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

What Is the Difference between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

Dear Donna,

I am trying to help my parents find a senior living community. I am not sure if I should be looking for an independent living community or an assisted living community.

Can you please explain the difference between independent living and assisted living?


Vanessa from Holland, MI


Understanding the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living


Dear Vanessa,

It’s common to have trouble understanding the difference between independent living and assisted living. Having so many senior living options available can be overwhelming for families. However, it’s crucial to fully understand your options if you want to ensure you help your senior parents make the right decision.

In the simplest terms, independent living is for healthy seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Assisted living is for seniors who need support to maintain their independence.

Amount of Assistance Needed

The primary difference between assisted living communities and independent living communities is the amount of care provided to their residents.

Assisted living communities usually have around-the-clock assistance available. Professional caregivers are available 24/7 to support seniors with everyday activities like preparing meals and managing medications. If your senior parents can’t spend more than a few days alone without jeopardizing their health or safety, then assisted living is likely for them.

Independent living communities, on the other hand, are more suitable for healthy seniors who don’t need much assistance. Many communities offer amenities that can significantly improve their quality of life. A few common services include meal plans, cleaning services, and maintenance.

Reasons for Moving

The reasons for moving are also different between seniors who choose assisted living versus those who select independent living.

Seniors who move to an assisted living community usually do so because they need some form of assistance to remain independent. A few common reasons seniors choose assisted living include:

  • Needing help with activities of daily living.
  • Having trouble maintaining their home.
  • Struggling to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • Having a health condition that requires supervision.
  • Wanting to give their families peace of mind that they are safe.

Seniors who choose independent living often move to have their desired lifestyle. A few common reasons seniors move to independent living communities include:

  • Being a part of a community with people who are their age and share similar interests.
  • Enjoying their retirement years without many of the responsibilities that come with home ownership.
  • Having easy access to the services and amenities offered at that particular community.

Financing Options Available

Another factor that varies between assisted living and independent living is the financing options available.

Because seniors usually choose assisted living for health and safety reasons, they are often able to find resources to lower their out-of-pocket expenses. A few common resources include long-term care insurance, employee benefits programs, VA benefits, and Medicaid.

The cost of independent living varies due to multiple factors including the type of housing, the amenities offered, and the services provided. Because it’s considered a choice to live there, it usually doesn’t qualify for any financial assistance.

I hope this helps you decide which senior living option is best for your parents.




Heritage Senior Communities Helps Families Understand Their Options

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living location, provide support to help families decide which senior living option is best for their loved ones. If you are an adult children or family member who is having trouble understanding the difference between assisted living and independent living, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!


6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging

Age-related changes can make it difficult for seniors to exercise regularly. Reduced mobility, a fear of injury, and a lack of confidence can make exercise unappealing. There is one form of exercise that is suitable for most seniors: walking.

Walking is great for most seniors because there is a low risk of injury. They can easily vary the intensity of their workout by how quickly they walk, and it’s easy to get started. Here are a few ways walking can help seniors stay healthy as they age.


6 Ways Walking Leads to Healthier Aging


  1. Reduces the risk of falls

Falling is a common concern for older adults. Not only are seniors at a higher risk for falls, but they are also more likely to sustain a fatal injury from falling.

Walking has been shown to help seniors prevent falls by improving their balance and coordination. It also helps improve their physical health by improving the flexibility of their joints and strengthening their muscles and bones. This can help decrease the severity of an injury in the event of a fall.

  1. Helps seniors control their blood pressure

With age often comes a rise in blood pressure.

Walking and other forms of exercise can strengthen the heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood. Regular walking has even been shown to be as effective as some medications in regulating blood pressure.

  1. Reduces the risk of a heart attack

Many seniors struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Over time, bad cholesterol causes plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Walking can help seniors by increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously reducing the amount of bad cholesterol. As a result, their risk of having a heart attack decreases.

  1. Lowers blood sugar

Older adults are more susceptible to poor blood sugar control after they eat. Their blood sugar rises to unhealthy levels.

Walking after a meal has been shown to reduce the spike in blood sugar. This allows the body to use the blood sugar efficiently.

  1. Boosts mental health

Walking, as well as other forms of exercise, releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones reduce your perception of pain while heightening positive feelings.

This means that walking has the ability to improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, lessen anxiety, and lower stress.

  1. Helps seniors maintain their weight

As your age increases, your metabolism decreases. This makes older adults more susceptible to weight gain.

Walking, combined with healthy eating, can help seniors maintain their weight by burning more calories than they consume.


Start Walking

Older adults need 150 minutes of exercise per week. That number may seem overwhelming, but breaking your walking sessions up over the course of a week can make the figure more manageable.

Many adults find that walking for 30 minutes five days a week works well. Others find success breaking up their walks into three 10-minute walks per day.

Seniors can benefit from walking regardless of how they incorporate it into their schedule. The most important thing is that they find a way to stick with it.


Independence Plus Support at Heritage Senior Communities

The ability to maintain a home can become a real struggle as you grow older. If you or a senior loved one is having trouble, it might be time to explore local assisted living communities.

In addition to providing assistance with daily tasks, Heritage Senior Communities provide opportunities for seniors to remain active, including a daily exercise schedule. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

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.