Heart Smart Holiday Appetizers

Heart Smart Holiday Appetizers

Sticking with a heart smart diet can feel more daunting than ever during the holidays. Between decadent dinners, rich desserts, and festive cocktails, the temptations are often numerous. For an older adult trying to limit their sodium intake or manage cholesterol, the season can be challenging.

If you are wondering how to make healthy choices or need ideas for heart smart appetizers, we have some options for you.

Foods That Are Good for Your Heart

Let’s start with foods that promote a healthier heart. Some of the most popular ones to look for at holiday parties include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Whole grains
  • Berries
  • Fatty fish
  • Walnuts and almonds
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark chocolate

By contrast, there are foods to limit or avoid completely if you are trying to protect your heart, including:

  • Red meat
  • White breads and rolls
  • Processed deli meats
  • Grocery store rotisserie chicken
  • Blended coffee drinks
  • Condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce
  • Soda (including diet soda)

Heart-Friendly Holiday Appetizers

  • Roasted red pepper and walnut dip: This tasty appetizer can be served with vegetables, multigrain crackers, or pita chips. Besides its great taste, it’s a visually appealing addition to your holiday buffet or cocktail party.
  • Mini crab cakes with smarter tartar: Frozen crab cakes or those served in restaurants are often fried and loaded with saturated fats, which are bad for your heart. This recipe allows you to make a healthy version, including a yogurt-based tartar sauce.
  • Chilled avocado gazpacho: Another nutritious option for your holiday appetizer menu is gazpacho. You can serve it up in small glass cups or bowls with a cherry tomato and slice of cucumber on top. The pretty color of the soup makes it another festive seasonal choice.
  • Cup of berries: One easy idea is to purchase a variety of fresh berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Serve them in small, individual samples glasses. You can even add a dollop of almond milk whipped topping and a sprig of mint.
  • Roasted figs and honey: This healthy appetizer combines the delicious flavors of figs, honey, goat cheese, and hazelnuts or almonds. You can serve it with small slices of multigrain bread or on its own. Equally appealing is that this dish can be prepared and baked in just 10 minutes.

One final tip is to watch your alcohol consumption. If you do want to indulge a bit, skip the beer and sweet, fruity drinks. Instead, opt for red wine or champagne. Clear liquors like gin and rum are other good choices. Just be mindful not to mix them with soda and other sugary beverages.

Visit a Heritage Community This Holiday Season

If you or a loved one have been contemplating making a move to a senior living community, we invite you to schedule a personal tour of a Heritage community in Michigan or Indiana. The festive holiday season is a great time to plan a visit. Read “Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Tour Assisted Living Communities?” to learn more!

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System in the Winter

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System in the Winter

As winter returns to the Midwest, colds and viruses often accompany it. From projections of a tough flu season this year to newer strains of COVID-19, the immune system faces many threats during the coldest season of the year. That’s why it’s a good time to take proactive steps to boost your immunity. From quality sleep to managing stress, here are a few tips to explore.

Immune System Booster Tips for Older Adults

  • Consume a well-balanced diet: A healthy lifestyle begins with food. Your diet can offer protection to the immune system. Lean protein and fresh produce should be staples in your daily life. This MyPlate for Older Adults video offers useful information seniors can use to plan nutritious menus.
  • Engage in regular exercise: Staying active also plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy immune system. As we grow older, it’s important to find ways to exercise that don’t increase the risk for falls or other age-related issues. If you aren’t exercising regularly, a few winter activities to discuss with your primary care physician include walking on a treadmill, cycling on a recumbent bike, chair yoga, and Pilates. Resistance bands or small handheld weights can aid in building and protecting muscle mass.
  • Stay hydrated: While many people associate dehydration with warm weather, it can actually be a year-round problem. It can also put your immune system at risk. The general recommendation is to drink 8 glasses of water a day. If you can’t bring yourself to drink that much water, decaffeinated beverages, juices, and soup can help you hit your target intake.
  • Get good quality sleep: Many people don’t realize how vital quality sleep is to healthy aging. Insomnia and other sleep issues that are more common with age can negatively impact wellness. Everything from a lack of exercise to medication side effects and sleep apnea can make getting a good night’s sleep a struggle. If you are having problems sleeping, talk to your physician. They might refer you for a sleep study. This can identify the root cause and potential treatment options.
  • Control your stress: The belief that retirement means stress-free days is a myth. Older adults are just as likely to experience chronic stress as other age groups. Chronic stress makes your body produce greater amounts of a “fight or flight” hormone known as cortisol. It’s what helps us react quickly and navigate through a crisis. Generating too much cortisol over a long period of time can increase inflammation in your body. This inflammation can result in a variety of health problems, such as heart disease and autoimmune conditions. Stress can also decrease lymphocytes, the white blood cells that aid the body in fighting off infection.
  • Discuss supplements with the doctor: One last tip is to talk with your primary care physician to see if they recommend any supplements. Vitamin D, for example, is one seniors may need during the winter when sun exposure is often limited. Calcium is another. While supplements usually can’t compensate for a poor diet, there are some you might consider based on your personal wellness.

Live Your Best Retirement at a Heritage Community

Whether it’s nutritious, home-cooked meals or numerous opportunities to stay active every day, Heritage Senior Communities promote healthy aging. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more today!

Everyday Ideas for Staying Physically Fit in Retirement

Everyday Ideas for Staying Physically Fit in Retirement

Retirement is a time when most older adults have more free time than ever before. Some choose to travel extensively, while others might explore new hobbies. No matter how you choose to spend your retirement, it’s important to make fitness a regular part of your life.

Seniors who fall into a sedentary lifestyle put their health in danger. In fact, some researchers say spending too much time sitting is as dangerous as smoking for older adults. As we head into another Midwest winter, seniors should talk with their primary care physician about indoor fitness activities.

Activities to Stay Fit in Retirement

Without a doubt, winter in Michigan and Indiana can limit outdoor activities for older adults. Cold weather, ice, and snow keep many people indoors. But there are a variety of senior-friendly indoor fitness options. Not only will they help you or a senior loved one avoid the hazards of a sedentary life, but they might also aid in preventing falls.

Here are some fitness ideas to discuss with your doctor:

  • Walking: While it might seem boring and not strenuous enough, walking is actually a very good form of physical fitness. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, it can also decrease stress and improve balance. In warmer months, the only equipment required is a pair of sturdy walking shoes. For inclement weather days, a home treadmill can be ideal.
  • Go4Life: If you prefer a more goal-oriented, structured exercise program, consider Go4Life. This free program, created by the National Institute on Aging at NIH, makes it easier to focus on fitness. It offers a variety of fitness resources for seniors, from workout videos to tools for tracking goals and progress.
  • Chair yoga: One benefit of yoga for seniors is how easy it is to practice from a seated position. Chair yoga builds strength and endurance while protecting balance and mobility. Each is essential for fall prevention. There are many free videos online to help seniors learn at home. Check out Gentle Chair Yoga for Beginners and Seniors and Chair Yoga Stretch for Beginners, Seniors & Everyone.
  • Tai Chi: Tai Chi combines slow, steady movements with breath control. Because it is gentle on the body, it can be a good option for older adults to incorporate exercise into their fitness routine. Many senior centers and fitness clubs offer classes. “Tai Chi for Arthritis” is a good resource to learn more and get started.
  • SilverSneakers: Joining a fitness program designed especially for older adults can be less intimidating than those offered to the general public. One to explore is a program known as SilverSneakers. Insurance companies often include it for free in their member benefits for seniors. Visit the SilverSneakers website to check if your health insurance plan participates.
  • Cycling: Another idea is bike riding. It’s a great fitness activity indoors or out. If you’re nervous about bicycle accidents, investing in the increasingly popular adult tricycle might be an option. When it’s raining or snowing out, a recumbent bike might be useful. You can probably find a good used one for a reasonable price at a local garage sale or Facebook marketplace. These cycling tips for seniors can help an older adult get started.
  • Swimming: If your local fitness center has a warm therapy pool, it can provide a good form of fitness all year round. Swimming improves flexibility, stamina, balance, and sleep quality. In addition to these benefits, it’s also easy on older joints.

Unique Wellness Model at Heritage

At Heritage Senior Communities, we take a unique approach to wellness. It’s a holistic philosophy that nurtures the body, mind, and spirit. See it for yourself when you schedule a visit to a community near you today!

Tips for Celebrating Senior Loved Ones on Grandparents Day

Tips for Celebrating Senior Loved Ones on Grandparents Day

Grandparents play an important role in most families. They can be a confidant to their grandchildren, a cheerleader and source of unconditional love, and a resource for learning and exploring the world. Whatever the role, the support of a grandparent is invaluable. Research shows that children with involved grandparents develop healthy attitudes about aging.

In some families, grandparents have assumed even greater roles in their grandkids’ lives. Single-parent households and families where both parents work outside the home are increasing. Grandparents often fill in when a child’s mother or father can’t be there. From helping with car pool duties to babysitting after school, grandparents help bridge the gap in care.

On Sunday, September 11th, Heritage Senior Communities and aging services organizations across the county will honor the important work of family elders by celebrating Grandparents Day. It’s a holiday that dates back to 1978 and then-President Jimmy Carter.

If you and your family would like to plan something special for Grandparents Day, we have a few ideas you might find helpful.

Honoring Senior Loved Ones on Grandparents Day

  • Host a family talent show: This can be a great intergenerational family event. It doesn’t take great talent, just a willingness to have fun. Coordinate a family talent show where everyone in the family—individually or in groups—participates. Long distance family members can record their talent for you to share with your senior loved ones during the show. You can even go the extra mile and award prizes, such as Most Talented, Best Group, Most Original, and Best Sport.
  • Plan a picnic in the park: Early September is a great time to plan outdoor activities in Michigan and Indiana. If you aren’t familiar with the local park system, call to see which ones take reservations for covered picnic areas and if any are accessible for adults with mobility issues, if needed. Reserve space for your family to enjoy an intergenerational picnic on Grandparents Day. Keep the menu simple and ask everyone to bring a dish or two. You could also plan a few old-fashioned group games, such as balloon toss and egg races.
  • Organize a legacy project: As we grow older, most of us begin to reflect on our life, family, and contribution to the world. Legacy planning becomes important to many seniors. They might become interested in researching their family tree or documenting what they know about their family for future generations. A nice Grandparents Day activity could be for all of the family’s generations to tackle one of these projects together. This list of genealogy websites might provide you with helpful information to get started.
  • Host an outdoor movie night: This is another great way to gather with several generations of the family. It can be as simple as renting or borrowing a digital projector or lightbox and showing a classic Disney movie. You can stream it against the side of the house or on a white sheet strung between two trees in the backyard. Place blankets on the lawn for the kids and camping or folding chairs for the adults. Serve favorite movie foods, like buttered popcorn, boxes of candy, and pop. Don’t forget to stock up on bug spray.
  • Schedule a home maintenance day: This requires a little work from everyone in the family, but can be a great bonding experience. By tackling home repairs and maintenance projects at your senior loved one’s home, you’ll provide a meaningful gift. Help your parent create a list of things they need done around the house. Encourage them to be honest and not hold back. Then you can track down the supplies needed for the projects before the scheduled work day. Remember to take pictures!

Enjoy Life at Heritage Senior Communities

From healthy meals and maintenance-free living to a variety of enrichment activities, the benefits of senior living are numerous. If you or a loved one is considering a move, we hope you’ll keep Heritage Senior Communities in mind. Call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour today!

6 Ways Assisted Living Supports Independence among Older Adults

6 Ways Assisted Living Supports Independence among Older Adults

Assisted living is often considered an ideal solution for older adults who need a helping hand to remain independent. It’s a level of senior care that blends support with amenities in an environment that allows for resident privacy. Seniors who move to an assisted living community still feel in charge of their own life.

How does assisted living support independence? Here are a few ways these communities benefit seniors striving to maintain their independence.

Assisted Living Supports Senior Independence

  • Thoughtfully designed environment: Each resident has a private apartment or suite. The layout and features are designed with the unique needs of older adults in mind. In Heritage assisted living communities, seniors will find barrier-free accessibility, grab bars in bathrooms, and emergency call systems. You’ll find more senior-friendly features throughout the community, such as handrails along hallways. It’s a thoughtful approach designed to lower the risk of falling.
  • Caregivers available 24/7: One challenge families face when a senior loved one tries to age in place in their private home is the unpredictably of needs. For example, family members may not be available overnight to help an older adult to and from the bathroom. It is also difficult for working adults to remind their senior parents to take their medications throughout the day and night. In an assisted living community, caregivers are on-site around the clock to support resident needs.
  • Transportation services for residents: Another struggle older adults often encounter is transportation. Some may continue driving despite no longer feeling safe doing so simply because they don’t feel they have other options. Seniors may also feel like they are burdening their adult children with continued transportation requests. That’s why the transportation services provided by assisted living communities are so popular. In addition to regularly scheduled group outings to local restaurants and shopping malls, staff can arrange transportation for residents’ doctor’s appointments and other errands.
  • Maintenance-free lifestyle: Another convenience that promotes independence is having household chores and maintenance tasks covered. Everything from snow removal to appliance repair is handled by the community’s staff. In most communities, housekeeping and laundry services are included in the monthly fee or available as an add-on service. No more worries for seniors about asking adult children or grandchildren for help or trying to track down a contractor.
  • Wellness made easy: When a senior is struggling at home, their diet often suffers. It becomes easier to rely on convenience meals and processed foods. However, most are high in sodium and fat. That can lead to poor nutrition, which puts older adults at higher risk for illness and falls. In an assisted living community, well-balanced meals and healthy snacks are standard. Most dining services teams can also accommodate special diets, such as low-sodium or gluten-free. With Heritage Hospitality, residents have a choice of menus at every meal.
  • Medication management: Finally, the caregivers at an assisted living community help residents stay on track with their medicine. It’s another area that can be difficult as health needs require older adults to take multiple over-the-counter and prescription medications. Depending upon the community and state regulations, staff can help by providing reminders or even assisting seniors in taking their medication.

Schedule a Tour of a Heritage Community Today

The best way to learn about assisted living and its benefits is to tour a community in person. If your search includes Michigan or Indiana, we invite you to consider Heritage. View our list of communities and schedule a visit to a location that interests you!

Tips for Hosting an Estate Sale

Tips for Hosting an Estate Sale

Dear Donna:

We are preparing to move my parents to an assisted living community. They’ve lived in their current home for decades. It’s a large house with several outdoor buildings. We are a bit daunted at the idea of making all of this happen. The downsizing alone seems overwhelming.

My siblings and I are researching different aspects of the move to create a plan. One step we’ll likely need to take is hosting an estate sale. Do you have any tips to make hosting a sale at our parents’ home easier?


Lisa in Ann Arbor, MI

Organizing an Estate Sale for a Senior

Dear Lisa:

Families often put off a move because of the reasons you stated. We’ve found, however, that the most difficult aspect of downsizing is getting started. It sounds like splitting up responsibilities is a good way to go!

Estate sales are fairly common when older adults are transitioning to senior living. Here are some tips to help you plan an estate sale:

  • Identify items to keep: First, decide what furniture and belongings will go with your parents and what will need to find a new home. Your parents will likely have much less space than they currently do. Keep that in mind as you work through this process.
  • Time the sale well: Families often wonder which months of the year are best to host an estate sale. While spring and summer tend to be popular for garage sales, estate sales generally do well all year long. Shoppers will still come in the winter, largely because estate sales are held indoors. Weather generally doesn’t play a factor.
  • Research prices online: Pricing the items for sale can be tricky. Sentimental items might be the most difficult. Other items might be worth more than you think. A good way to get started is to review estate sales and auctions in your area online. If you have any doubts, pay for an appraisal.
  • Consider selling valuables elsewhere: Some high value items that appeal to a small audience might be better off sold through an auction house or specialty website. For example, rare art or vintage jewelry. By contrast, other items shouldn’t be part of an estate sale. Those might include cheap electronics, exercise equipment, and food. Visit a few estate sales in your community to get a better idea about what does and doesn’t sell.
  • Shop by room: One nice thing about an estate sale is you can leave almost everything in place. It actually helps shoppers as they make their way through the house. Just make sure everything is easily accessible.
  • Keep high value items in sight: An exception to leaving things in place is valuable items. Set up a table for these near your checkout table, preferably away from the door. That lets you or your helpers keep an eye on them.
  • Put secure price tags on everything: Unfortunately, people may try to switch price tags around on items. Make sure every item in the sale has a price tag securely in place.
  • Discourage parents’ attendance: One final suggestion is to try to keep your parents from attending the sale. It can be difficult to watch strangers pick over a lifetime of treasures. It’s best for them to avoid being there.

I hope these tips are helpful, Lisa! Please drop me another note if there’s anything else you need.

Kind regards,


More Advice on Downsizing

Helping a senior loved one rightsize to a senior living community can be a lot of work. Read “10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One” for more advice as you begin this process!