Intergenerational Summer Vacations

Intergenerational Summer Vacations

After the COVID-19 pandemic kept some families separated the last few years, many are looking forward to summer. It might be a great time to take an intergenerational vacation. With thoughtful planning, you can make it a memorable experience for everyone.

Car travel is often easiest when multiple generations are vacationing together. If the youngest generation gets restless, you can stop to have a snack or run around a roadside park. Seniors will also appreciate being able to stop and stretch their legs or use the restroom.

Depending upon where you live, a state or national park is likely within a day’s drive. Michigan residents are especially fortunate. There is a wide range of parks, campgrounds, and hiking trails throughout the Great Lake state.

Consider a Trip to a State or National Park

Both federal and state parks have accessible solutions for people with mobility challenges. They also offer a variety of intergenerational activities.

Depending upon how long your vacation is and how far you are willing to drive, here are a few parks to consider:

  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Located along the North Carolina and Tennessee border, this popular park offers activities ranging from hiking to bird-watching. Children between the ages of 5 and 12 can complete activities and earn a patch through the Junior Ranger program. Families will find a variety of cabins, campgrounds, and value-priced motels close to the park.
  • Acadia National Park: If your family members enjoy sailing, whale watching, or kayaking, head north to the Maine coast and Acadia National Park. Nature hikes, boat cruises, and carriage tours are also popular. While there is no lodging available at the park, campgrounds and other accommodations are nearby.
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes: This Michigan park has consistently won awards ranging from most beautiful beaches to Good Morning America’s Most Beautiful Place in America. Touring lighthouses, hiking trails, canoeing, sailing, and biking are just a few adventures you’ll find. Restaurants, lodges, and campgrounds are available near the park.

Explore Train Travel This Summer

Another idea for an intergenerational getaway is to travel by train.

  • Grand Canyon Railway: This flexible and popular train adventure allows families to choose everything from the length of their trip to what car they travel in. There are fun onboard acts travelers of all ages will enjoy, such as staged cattle-rustling and robberies. There’s even a Wild West Shootout on the train platform before the trip begins.
  • Niagara Falls Train: Families can enjoy many options for train travel from both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls. Both day trips and longer getaways are available. Great Rail Journeys also offers other rail and cruise vacations.

Wherever you decide to go, be mindful of summer safety issues that impact older adults. Review “Keeping a Senior Outdoorsman Safe in the Summer” for tips before you head off on your vacation!

New Independent Living Community Coming to Traverse City

For active seniors interested in an affordable option for independent living in northern Michigan, The Village at LaFranier Woods could be a solution. Scheduled to open in early 2023, this Traverse City community will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom cottages. Contact us today to request more information on the newest Heritage Senior Community!

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts for a Senior

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts for a Senior

Mother’s Day is a holiday that began in 1908 by a West Virginia daughter. Her goal was to honor her activist mother, Anna Jarvis, and her commitment to teaching women how to properly care for their children. Over the years, Mother’s Day has evolved. On the second Sunday in May each year, we celebrate mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other women who make a difference in their families’ lives.

As the holiday approaches, we want to share some ideas to help you honor the women in your family with unique and memorable gifts.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

  • Quilt kit: Art projects are good for the mind and spirit. A senior in your family might appreciate a quilt kit she can use to create her very own masterpiece. They are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices. You can easily find kits for beginners. Etsy is a great resource to explore.
  • Storytime video chat: When families are separated by a long distance, a tablet device can make it easier to connect. If your children or grandchildren are younger, they might enjoy showing off their reading skills for a grandmother. You can use a free platform like Skype or Zoom. If finances permit, purchase a system like GrandCare to enjoy story time across the miles. Borrow or purchase two copies of a book for the senior and the kids to read together. Experience gifts like this are priceless to older loved ones and children alike.
  • Homemade coupon book: Another unique and personalized gift is to create a coupon book. A senior can trade in coupons for time with family or help with projects. Ask each family member to come up with a coupon or two. Maybe a tech-savvy grandchild can create a coupon to help their grandmother set up a new streaming service or learn how to use Alexa. Another loved one might add a coupon for a family movie night or girls’ lunch. Be creative in coming up with ideas and experiences that match the senior’s hobbies and interests.
  • Handcrafted gift: While indulgence gifts like expensive jewelry are nice, don’t overlook how heartwarming handmade Mother’s Day presents can be. You can purchase craft kits at a local hobby store for yourself or the grandchildren to use. You’ll find options ranging from stained glass kits to packages with everything needed to make a garden stepping stone. These make memorable presents for a senior loved one.

Finally, creating a family cookbook is another memorable gift idea for Mother’s Day. The whole family can get involved by contributing their favorite recipes. How to Create a Family Cookbook in Honor of Mother’s Day shares advice and resources to make it easier to get started!

What Is an Independent Living Community?

What Is an Independent Living Community?

Retirement is something most people plan for and look forward to over many years. Finally having the time and flexibility to travel, reconnect with old friends, pursue new passions, and spend time spoiling the grandkids are just a few perks of retiring. Sometimes, however, the burdens of home ownership can stand in the way of making the most of these years.

Maintaining a private residence can be expensive. And it’s often an expense that no longer makes financial sense. If your home has more space than you need, it’s more than just a physical burden. The extra cost of property taxes, utilities, and homeowner’s insurance are a financial burden.

This is when it might be good to consider a move to an independent living community.

What Is an Independent Living Community?

Independent living communities are a senior housing option designed with the active senior in mind. Older adults who choose to move to independent living are typically looking for a lifestyle free from the worries of home maintenance and repairs. Most are seeking a retirement housing solution that allows more time to focus on the social side of life.

Independent living communities come in several forms:

  • Apartments in a dedicated independent living community
  • Apartments on the campus of a larger continuing care community
  • Maintenance-free villas or small cottages that are part of a retirement community

What advantages do independent living communities offer residents? Let’s explore a few of the most common ones.

Benefits of Moving to an Independent Living Community

Here are a few benefits older adults cite as their favorite reasons to live in an independent living community:

  • No maintenance or repairs: A move to independent living comes with a maintenance-free lifestyle. No more worries about shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, replacing the windows, or fixing the dishwasher.
  • 24-hour security: Independent living communities provide a safe and secure environment for older adults. From fire suppression systems and an emergency call system to around-the-clock staff, seniors can feel safe living alone.
  • Transportation: Ready to hang up the car keys for good? The transportation services offered by many independent living communities make that easier to do.
  • Dining services: Another benefit of moving to an independent living community is no more cooking! You’ll typically find a variety of menu options and dining programs.
  • Amenities: Depending on the community you choose, you’ll find a host of convenient amenities: housekeeping, laundry, transportation, a beauty/barber shop, outings to popular local destinations, and a wide range of events and activities.
  • Socialization: Independent living communities offer meaningful ways to connect and make new friends. It could be over a cup of coffee in the dining room or during a walk through the campus. Then there are more formal activities, such as an art workshop or fitness class.

Independent Living Communities Offer Peace of Mind

Another advantage you’ll discover by moving to an independent living community is peace of mind. Safety and security are only part of it. There’s also the peace of mind that comes from knowing that staff can usually accommodate future care needs.

For seniors seeking independent living in Michigan or Indiana, we invite you to consider Heritage Senior Communities. Call us today to schedule a private visit!

Tips for Planning a Summer Container Garden

Tips for Planning a Summer Container Garden

After a winter that left many people self-isolating at home to try to avoid COVID-19 exposure, spring is finally on the horizon. If you are a senior with a love of gardening, one way to continue safely enjoying this hobby is container gardening. Digging in the dirt has a variety of health benefits, especially for older adults.

Health Benefits for Older Gardeners

Gardening is good for the body, mind, and spirit. It’s linked to lower blood pressure, better core strength, and reduced stress. That’s on top of having fresh vegetables and herbs to cook with and flowers to bring indoors all season long.

For older adults who’ve experienced a fall or those with a mobility challenge, planting a garden in containers, window boxes, and raised beds can be a safe solution. It’s a way to enjoy nature without having to bend over, stoop, and kneel.

Tips for Container Garden Success

A few suggestions for growing your herbs, vegetables, and flowers in containers this summer include:

  • Focus on favorite plants: Look for ideas on Pinterest or gardening sites like Proven Winners. It will help you identify the types of flowers you enjoy most and design attractive container gardens. Be mindful of how much sunlight your designated space receives each day. Does your porch or raised bed area receive full sun, part sun and part shade, or mostly shade? Your container garden’s ability to thrive depends on matching the plants to the sun coverage your garden receives.
  • Choose containers wisely: Another factor is the pot you will plant in. If you use a metal container placed in full sun, the roots may overheat. A chemically treated wood pot might result in those chemicals leeching into the soil your herbs or vegetables grow in. Plants that need deep roots should be planted in a tall container. The opposite is also true. If you plan to grow flowers in a hanging basket, choose plants that stay small and have a shallow root system.
  • Invest in good potting soil: Healthy soil is the foundation for a thriving container garden. An organic material that holds water is best for pots or raised beds. Your local garden center may carry a regional blend, which ensures the soil you use is appropriate for where you live. If you don’t have any luck, home improvement stores sell prepackaged potting soil specifically designed for container gardens.
  • Ensure proper drainage: Another essential is good drainage for your container garden. It protects the roots from rotting. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, you can usually add a few with a drill or awl. Once you have drainage holes, place a small piece of screen over the holes to keep the dirt from washing away. If it’s not possible to drill or punch drainage holes, cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of stone or gravel.

One final tip is to remember that container gardens require more frequent watering than in-ground gardens. If dragging a hose or watering can around the yard is difficult for you, try to place your containers near a water source.

Summer Safety for Senior Gardeners

Remember to be safe when gardening outdoors in warm months. Stay hydrated, especially on hot, humid days. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Also wear a hat that shields your neck and face. Finally, garden early in the morning or later in the evening so you avoid the hottest times of day.

Gardening is just one of the many activities residents at Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana enjoy. Call the community nearest you to learn more about the healthy lifestyle you can enjoy when you make a move this spring or summer!

Benefits of Moving to Assisted Living

Benefits of Moving to Assisted Living

Today’s assisted living communities offer a wide range of services and amenities, from life enrichment activities to transportation, beauty/barber salons, and safe, thoughtfully designed apartments. These services support the care, independence, quality of life, and safety of seniors.

Here’s a quick overview of the benefits assisted living communities offer to older adults.

Why Move to an Assisted Living Community?

  • On-site services: Residents appreciate the variety of amenities available to them. From a beauty/barber shop to on-site worship opportunities, the services offered in an assisted living community make life a little easier.
  • Maintenance-free lifestyle: Another major convenience of an assisted living community is that household tasks, repairs, and general maintenance are handled for residents. Everything from snow removal and lawn care to laundry and appliance repair is handled by staff. That allows residents to spend their time in more enjoyable ways.
  • Safe, secure environment: Assisted living communities promote safety and security. Residents’ apartments have accessible bathrooms, including step-free showers and sturdy grab bars. Emergency call systems, a fire suppression system, and handrails in hallways are standard.
  • Well-balanced meals: Seniors who live in a private residence often find cooking to be too much work. Mobility challenges or driving restrictions can make trips to the grocery store difficult. In an assisted living community, well-balanced meals and snacks are included in the monthly fee. Most communities give residents a variety of menu choices.
  • Wellness programs: One of the more popular amenities of assisted living is wellness programs. From stretching to chair yoga, walking groups, strength training, and gardening, fitness is a core element of resident life. Residents also benefit from an around-the-clock care team. They are available to assist with tasks ranging from medication management to toileting and personal care. At Heritage communities, residents also benefit from licensed practical nurses complete monthly wellness checks.
  • Life enrichment activities: Seniors who live alone might feel disconnected, lonely, and isolated, especially those who have given up driving. It can take a toll on physical and mental health. With a move to an assisted living community, an older adult can participate in life enrichment activities every day. They can join as many or as few as they choose. Movie nights, religious services, card groups, picnics, art workshops, quilting, and book clubs are just a few of the activities offered.
  • Transportation services: One more benefit offered by assisted living communities is transportation. Most have routine transportation routes, in addition to being available for physician appointments and other necessary errands. The transportation team usually schedules arrangements for residents.

Answering Common Questions about Assisted Living

We know older adults and their families have many questions about assisted living. Industry terminology can also be confusing. From costs and financing to medication management, our Frequently Asked Questions page can help you find answers.

Why Seniors Are at Higher Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency in the Winter

Why Seniors Are at Higher Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency in the Winter

Growing up, most people heard that drinking milk was necessary to build strong, healthy bones. And it’s true. Milk contains calcium and vitamin D, which are linked to better bone health. What few people know, however, is vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods.

One way most of us get vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. When your bare skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, it synthesizes vitamin D from cholesterol. And it doesn’t take much sun for that process to occur.

While many people enjoy spending time outdoors in warmer months, winter is another story. In northern climates, it can be especially problematic. That’s why when the mercury drops, so do vitamin D levels. It can result in a serious vitamin D deficiency.

Health Problems Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency

Research shows a vitamin D deficiency has a negative impact on our health at every age, but especially as we grow older. Experts typically rank a deficiency in two categories:

  • Early-stage: The early signs of vitamin D deficiency are often tough to notice and may be overlooked or misdiagnosed. The most common include muscle and joint pain, mood swings, unexplained fatigue, and weakness.
  • Advanced: As the deficiency goes untreated, it can result in greater bone pain and possibly even bone fractures. The condition has also been linked to increased risk of heart and vascular disease, as well as some forms of cancer, including prostate, breast, and colon.

Vitamin D: How to Avoid a Deficiency This Winter

As we head into the heart of winter in Michigan and Indiana, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family elder from a vitamin D deficiency:

  • Make good food decisions: Cold winter weather might make you want to reach for comfort foods and sugary treats. While they might make you feel better in the short run, most aren’t high in vitamin D or calcium. Try to work canned salmon, milk, tuna, and mushrooms into your meals instead. Vitamin D enriched foods also help. A few to consume are yogurt, cereal, orange juice, and eggs.
  • Spend time outdoors: Getting a limited amount of sun exposure can also help. Check with your physician to see how much sunlight they suggest. A common recommendation is about 20 minutes of sun several times a week. If winter temps are too low to stay outdoors that long at one time, break it up over a few days.
  • Consider supplements: Nutritionists say it’s best to get essential vitamins and nutrients through your diet. But in the case of vitamin D, that’s not always possible. If you are concerned you or a senior loved one’s vitamin D levels are low, talk with a physician. They might order a simple blood test to check. If you are deficient, your doctor can decide if you need a prescription dose of vitamin D or if an over-the-counter supplement will suffice.

Healthy Diets Are a Priority at Heritage Senior Communities

Seniors, especially those who live alone, often struggle to stick with a well-balanced diet. Meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking can be a lot of work for one person. It’s one reason older adults find their nutrition quickly improves when they move to a senior living community. Better nutrition also boosts their health and energy levels.

At Heritage Senior Communities, our dining teams are committed to creating meals that are both delicious and nutritious. We invite you to call the community nearest you to learn more!