5 Lifestyle Changes that Can Lower Your Risk for Cancer

5 Lifestyle Changes that Can Lower Your Risk for Cancer

Many people resolve to live healthier lives in January, but February is another good time to consider healthy lifestyle changes. That’s because it’s National Cancer Prevention Month.

What are 5 lifestyle changes that may help lower your risk of cancer?

Healthy Choices to Reduce Cancer Risk

Different things can influence a person’s risk of developing cancer, including family history and lifestyle. While you may not be able to change your genetics to reduce your cancer risk, you can make other healthy changes.

  1. Get more exercise.

You may already know that physical activity is good for your heart and weight. Did you also know it can help reduce your risk of some types of cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, higher levels of exercise can help reduce the risk of breast, colon, and endometrial cancers. Research also suggests that a sedentary lifestyle can increase your cancer risk, so any exercise is better than none.

  1. Quit smoking.

Smoking harms more than just your lungs. It accounts for about 30 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths, the American Cancer Society reports. Besides lung cancer, it can also increase the risk of mouth, throat, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.

Of course, quitting is easier said than done. If you smoke, talk to your physician about your options for kicking the habit.

  1. Limit exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.

Many substances we encounter in our daily lives can influence our cancer risk. You may not be able to change everything about your environment, but there are some choices you can make to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

  • Avoid dry cleaning or choose dry cleaners that use environmentally friendly materials
  • Don’t use pesticides or herbicides in your garden
  • Store cleaning products safely and wear protective equipment, such as gloves, when using them
  1. Cut back on red and processed meats.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has found that eating too much processed meat, like lunch meats and hot dogs, can increase your risk of colorectal cancer. The institute’s study indicates that the risk increases by 16 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten daily (about one hot dog).

Researchers also suggest that high consumption of red meat, including beef and pork, can increase cancer risk. Instead, increase your consumption of fish and leaner meats like chicken.

  1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

The institute’s study also found a link between low intake of fruits and vegetables (less than 1 cup a day) and higher risk of colorectal cancer. Consumption of foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and spinach, also may help lower colorectal cancer risk. Try to eat at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, and incorporate them into every meal and snack.

A healthy lifestyle can lower your cancer risk.

Heritage Senior Living Communities make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to learn about our dining programs and exercise activities.

How Michigan Seniors Can Stay Active This Winter

How Michigan Seniors Can Stay Active This Winter

Physical activity has been shown to improve health, memory, sleep, and the overall quality of life for seniors. It might be a bit more challenging to stay active this winter in Michigan and require seniors and family caregivers to take a few extra precautions to stay safe and healthy.

Tip for Senior Fitness during the Winter

Take a walk outside.

On more mild winter days, a walk outside isn’t out of the question. A walk around the block can provide seniors with mental stimulation and the physical benefits of exercise.

Make sure you dress appropriately and wear a hat, gloves, and comfortable shoes with good traction. If it is sunny, take measures to protect your eyes and skin.

Be careful of icy spots:

  • Keep rock salt near the door to scatter on your walkways.
  • Ask a friend or relative to help you clear away snow and ice.
  • Inside, immediately take off your shoes and change any clothes that have gotten wet.

Take walks indoors.

When the weather outside is frightful (or you just don’t feel like bundling up), there are plenty of places with indoor walking options:

  • Museums and art galleries
  • Aquariums
  • Malls, other shopping centers, and even supermarkets
  • Fitness centers with walking tracks

You can even workout in the safety of your own home. March in place, do stretches, or lift weights while you watch TV. Borrow workout videos from the library, or search YouTube for videos that can guide you through easy fitness routines.

Join a gym or YMCA.

Gyms are full of senior-friendly exercise options, including free weights, walking tracks, and treadmills. Staff members and personal trainers can help you create an individual fitness routine.

If possible, look for a facility with a pool. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise, as it is low-impact and provides a full-body workout.

Many YMCAs in Michigan offer programs tailored to individuals with specific conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes.

Stay fit with a video game.

Many video games let you golf, bowl, and even bike right in the middle of your living room. Xbox and Nintendo Wii are two of the most popular consoles for fitness games, but there are many other options.

Caregivers, friends, or relatives can help seniors choose, hook up, and learn to use the video games. Most of these games can be used individually or in groups, making them great social activities.

Sign up for a class.

Many community organizations offer classes that can help you get moving, such as yoga or Pilates. Ask local libraries, senior centers, rec centers, and churches about classes they may have.

Even if an organization doesn’t provide classes, someone may be able to direct you to social groups based on physical activities, such as walking or swimming clubs.

Let the experts help.

At Heritage Senior Communities, you don’t have to worry about winter inactivity. Each of our locations offers a variety of activities year-round, including a daily exercise schedule, fitness rooms with exercise equipment, and Wii bowling.

Contact the experts at Heritage Senior Communities to learn more about how we help seniors lead healthy, joyful lives.

It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

While it can be difficult to quit smoking at any age, it can be much tougher for older adults addicted to nicotine. The added difficulty often comes from the mistaken belief that it’s too late to benefit from giving up smoking.

Older adults who continue to smoke into their sixties and seventies often believe that the damage has been done and that it’s too late to reverse it. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. There are positive benefits from giving up smoking no matter how old you are.

Why It’s Never Too Late to Benefit from Giving up Smoking

If you or an older adult in your life wants to quit smoking, keep two things in mind. First, you can quit no matter how many times you’ve been unsuccessful at it in the past. Second, you will experience health benefits almost immediately after quitting.

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience in just the first 3-4 days after you stop smoking:

  • Within 30 minutes after you stop smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal
  • Your lungs will begin to clear after less than 48 hours
  • In less than 72 hours, your body will be free of nicotine
  • Within 4 days, it will be easier to breathe and your energy level will increase

These benefits do not depend on age— you will experience them no matter how old you are.

The Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking at Any Age

Four long-term smoking cessation benefits you or your senior loved one will experience include:

  1. Reduced Rates of Common Illnesses

Non-smokers get sick much less frequently than smokers do. They have significantly lower rates of colds, bronchitis, and the flu. This is just as true for someone who quits when they’re in their seventies or eighties as it is for a 30-year-old.

  1. More Money in Your Pocket

Smokers begin to save hundreds of dollars a month the moment they give up the habit. This is definitely a benefit that doesn’t depend on age. And having a few thousand dollars extra each year is a good thing no matter how old you are!

  1. Decreased Risk of Heart Disease

Smoking is the number one cause of heart attacks and smokers are at much higher risk for them than non-smokers. No matter what age you are when you quit smoking, the risk of heart disease begins to decrease within 24 hours and continues to decline as long as you abstain.

  1. Reduced Cancer Risk

Giving up smoking at any age will help to immediately reduce the risk of several forms of cancer, including cancer of the lung, colon, esophagus and throat. Even those who have already been diagnosed with cancer will benefit from an improved immune system.

This is just a small sampling of the benefits associated with smoking cessation. And remember—these benefits have nothing to do with age.

Quit Smoking, Start Benefitting

Do not let anything deter you or your senior loved one from experiencing the wide array of health benefits that come from giving up smoking. Even if you’ve tried to quit a dozen times before, you can still succeed and improve your quality of life significantly.

The team at Heritage Senior Living hopes this information serves to encourage and inspire you. We also hope you’ll return to our Senior Care Blog often for more tips on aging well.


Photo provided by freedigital.com
Is Your Senior Loved One Ready for Michigan Winter Storms?

Is Your Senior Loved One Ready for Michigan Winter Storms?

Michigan winters are particularly challenging for seniors and caregivers. Cold, snowy months increase the risks of falls, fires, and isolation. Caregivers can take the following steps to help older adults prepare for winter storms.

Helping a Senior Prepare for a Michigan Winter

Prepare homes for winter.

When tackling winter preparedness for a senior loved one, caregivers should have homes checked for safety hazards and maintenance issues:

  • Windows can be sealed and weatherproofed to prevent drafts and keep heating bills low.
  • Check furnaces, air filters, and water heaters to make sure they are working properly. Decide how you will tackle snow removal, such as purchasing a snow blower, keeping a snow shovel on hand, or hiring a neighbor to help clear driveways.

Reduce potential fire hazards.

Older adults are at higher risk for injury in a home fire than younger adults. Take extra precautions to ensure safety:

  • Check that electrical cords are in safe condition.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.
  • Use extra regular blankets, not an electric blanket as it can be a fire hazard.
  • Consider replacing traditional candles with “flameless” varieties.
  • Dispose of trees, wreaths, and other holiday greenery that has dried out.

Keep vehicles in good shape.

Both seniors and caregivers may want to have their cars serviced as soon as possible.

  • Maintain oil and antifreeze levels.
  • Keep gas tanks full to prevent ice in the fuel lines.
  • Make sure that the car’s windshield wipers, brakes, battery, and radiator are in good shape.
  • Check the tread on the vehicle’s tires, and have the tires replaced if necessary.
  • Keep emergency supplies in the car, including a flashlight or flares, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit.

Create a home emergency preparedness kit.

With a basic emergency kit, older adults can stay safe even in the worst weather and loss of power. Keep these items in a place where your loved one can reach them quickly and easily.

This kit might include:

  • Bottled water
  • A thermal blanket
  • Non-perishable foods
  • A flashlight with spare batteries

Since telephone “land lines” are more likely to be damaged in a snowstorm, consider giving your loved one a prepaid cell phone loaded with emergency numbers.

Dress warmly and appropriately.

When dressing for winter, the key phrase is “loose layers.” These layers create air pockets that help insulate from the cold, especially on windy days.

Remove snowy shoes when you come inside, and be sure to change out of clothes that have become damp. This not only keeps you warmer, but helps prevent slippery conditions that can lead to falls. Look for shoes that have good traction and non-skid soles.

For seniors with dementia, winter weather can increase anxiety and the tendency to wander. Caregivers might want to consider a tracking device to help find a loved one who becomes lost.

Get peace of mind in winter weather.

At Heritage Senior Communities, our caring staff members provide services and support that improve a senior’s quality of life year-round, in all weather.

Wellness checks, social activities, medication assistance, and housekeeping are just a few of the amenities we offer at our locations. Visit us online to learn more about Heritage Senior Communities and what type of residence is right for your loved one.


Photo provided by freedigital.com

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!