Tick Prevention: How to Stay Safe Outdoors This Summer

Tick Prevention: How to Stay Safe Outdoors This Summer

As the threat of coronavirus lingers, many older adults continue to adhere to strict social distancing standards. Spending time outdoors is one way to safely enjoy summer. Strolls in local parks and gardening combine exercise with stress relief and improved mental health. But time spent outdoors in the Great Lakes region requires staying on guard for ticks, an arachnid linked to Lyme disease.

While some researchers attribute increasing incidences of the disease to growing numbers of ticks, others say it is due to improvements in diagnosing it. Diagnosis can be challenging because the symptoms of Lyme disease closely mimic many other health conditions.

 

Where Are Ticks Most Commonly Found?

 

While ticks are especially fond of wooded areas and tall grass, you can find them on almost any plants, grasses, trees, and shrubs in your yard. Even your flower garden can be a haven for these potentially dangerous insects. They patiently wait for the scent of carbon dioxide exhaled by passing animals (or humans!) and jump on to catch a ride.

As the deer population has increased in many areas of the Great Lakes, so has the number of ticks. They are known to “hitchhike” on deer because it is easier and faster for them to get around. Ticks can also be found in the feathers and fur of wild animals that call your yard home.

This is why it’s important to learn a few best practices for tick prevention.

 

5 Ways to Avoid Being Bitten by a Tick

 

  1. Check for ticks: Be vigilant about checking for ticks after spending time outdoors. Examine your clothing, body, and hair after coming indoors.
  2. Cover arms and legs: Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside. A lightweight, natural material like linen or cotton can help protect you from ticks while keeping you cool.
  3. Avoid wooded areas: During peak tick season, avoid walking near shrubs and tall grass. Paths where you may brush up against shrubs and tall grass can put you at higher risk for a tick bite.
  4. Wear insect repellent: Another way to ward off ticks is to apply and reapply insect repellent. Look for those containing DEET and permethrin. They are best at tick prevention.
  5. Shower after yard time: It will also help if you remove your clothes and throw them in the washer immediately when coming indoors. Then shower and wash your hair.

Finally, learn what symptoms might indicate a tick bite. Doing so will allow you to quickly seek medical intervention.

 

Common Symptoms of a Tick Bite

 

While it’s essential to know the symptoms, it’s also important to remember not all tick bites lead to Lyme disease. Most don’t end up being serious.

Signs of a tick bite include:

  • A red spot or rash on the skin, referred to as a bullseye
  • Itching or burning of the skin
  • Localized pain (not as common)

If you are in doubt, call your primary care physician for advice or to schedule an appointment—or virtual telehealth visit—to put your concerns to rest.

Another seasonal irritant many seniors struggle with is allergies. What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications is packed with good information to keep an older loved one safe this summer. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!

7 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips for Older Adults

7 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips for Older Adults

Before summer officially kicks off in the Great Lake State, it’s important to talk about skin safety. Skin cancers are among the top ten leading types of cancer in this country. Non-melanoma skin cancer tops the list with an estimated one million cases a year, and melanoma comes in seventh with an estimated 68,720 people diagnosed each year.

While some skin damage happens during adolescence, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Every new sunburn increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Protecting yourself is essential.

Here’s what seniors should know about skin cancer prevention.

 

7 Ways to Protect Aging Skin

 

  1. Use sunscreen: Today’s seniors rarely used sunscreen when they were younger. As a result, many aren’t aware of how important it is. The reality is sunscreen is one of the best steps in skin cancer prevention. Apply sunscreen generously anytime you will be outdoors or riding in a car. Cover your entire body, including the backs of your ears, tops of your feet, and the back of your neck.
  2. Reapply: Don’t assume since you applied sunscreen before heading out that you won’t need to do it again. Check the label for specific directions. In general, the recommendation is to reapply at least every four hours. If you are swimming or sweating, you likely need to apply it more frequently.
  3. Practice car safety: Being in a car might make you feel protected from the sun. Unfortunately, UV rays can get you there too. Remember to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
  4. Wear sunglasses: Like your skin, eyes are susceptible to UV damage. While it can be tempting to choose sunglasses for appearance, find some that meet UVA/UVB standards. In addition to offering protection from sun damage, routinely wearing quality sunglasses helps lower your risk of developing cataracts.
  5. Avoid peak sun: The sun’s rays are usually strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can lower your risk for skin cancer by arranging your schedule around those times. Run errands and do lawn care in the early morning. Take your daily walk in the evening. Small steps like these can help you stay safe.
  6. Inspect your skin: Make monthly head-to-toe skin checks a habit. Look for new growths and changes to old ones. Any growths that change shape, increase in size, or have irregular borders should be shown to your doctor.
  7. See a dermatologist: The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends scheduling an annual dermatologist appointment. They can do a thorough exam and identify small skin problems before they turn into major ones.

 

If you are looking for more outdoor summer safety tips, focus on hydration. 10 Hydrating Foods to Beat the Summer Heat will give you some ideas for pumping up your fluids beyond drinking water. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Tips to Encourage Seniors to Take Care of Themselves

4 Tips to Encourage Seniors to Take Care of Themselves

Dear Donna,

My mom used to put a lot of effort into staying healthy. After she retired, she stopped taking care of herself. She seems to value convenience over health. It’s not uncommon for her to go days without exercising or wearing something other than pajamas.

How can I encourage my senior mom to take better care of herself? I’m not sure what has caused her to lose her life-long motivation.

Sincerely,

Karen from Hudsonville, MI

Helping a Senior Loved One Care for Themselves

Dear Karen,

It’s not unusual for seniors, especially homebodies, to have difficulty getting motivated to take care of themselves. But self-care and personal hygiene are essential for health and wellness at any age.

Here are a few tips for caregivers to encourage senior loved ones to care for themselves.

4 Self-Care Tips for Seniors

  1. Diet

A nutrient-rich diet is essential for your overall health and wellness. Many seniors choose convenience over health for various reasons. Getting to the grocery store may be challenging due to driving limitations or distance. They may opt for fast food when they aren’t motivated to cook for one.

Regardless of the reason, nutrient-dense food is essential for health. Offer to cook fresh meals with your mom. If grocery shopping is a concern, invite her shop with you or offer to do her shopping.

  1. Sleep

It’s a common misconception that you need less sleep with age. Seniors need just as much sleep as younger adults. Encourage a good night’s sleep by offering to arrange your mom’s bedroom for successful rest. To promote good sleep hygiene, make sure the sheets are clean and the room is a comfortable temperature.

  1. Exercise

There are so many reasons to move your body. Exercise can reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Physical activity can also improve muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination, which can reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.

When encouraging a senior loved one to work out, remember that starting an exercise routine can be challenging. One way to encourage your mother is to work out together. Even a 15-minute walk in the morning or an afternoon swim can make a world of difference.

  1. Socialize

Many people don’t realize how important it is to stay social throughout their lives. Feeling connected to others and having strong social ties can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Some studies even show remaining social can lead to a longer life. It can be challenging for seniors to stay social after retirement because they don’t have as many opportunities to make friends.

Help your mom by taking her to a local senior center, helping her find senior classes, or simply taking your mother to places where she can connect with others.

Be Mindful of Limitations

Some seniors may have mobility challenges or health conditions that limit their ability to perform certain activities of daily living. It’s important to approach your mother in a helpful, understanding way. Do your best to be considerate of her boundaries and offer assistance where you can.

I hope this helps you encourage your mother to take care of her health.

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Supports Senior Health

If your senior loved one is struggling to care for themselves, they may benefit from moving to a senior living community where they have assistance. Many communities serve healthy meals and provide plenty of options to stay physically and socially active. Heritage Senior Communities also offers life enrichment programs that encourage personal growth and creativity. The best way to learn about how we support senior wellness is to visit one of our communities. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

Over time, you may notice diet plays an increasingly important role in your overall health and wellness. The foods you consume can affect everything from your waistline to your energy levels. More importantly, they can affect your memory and brain health. Here’s how nutrition needs change with age, along with a few ways seniors can use food to boost their memory.

How Nutritional Needs Change with Age

Dietary needs can change with age in many ways, and seniors often:

  • Require more nutrient-dense foods than high-calorie foods
  • Have a slower metabolism, meaning they require less food
  • Need naturally high-fiber foods to support bowel health
  • Limit sodium intake to maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Drink more water to stay hydrated

Now that you know some of the ways dietary needs change with age, here are a few tips for eating a brain-boosting diet.

4 Food Groups That Boost Memory

  1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish, like salmon and albacore tuna, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are a building block of the brain. Omega-3s are linked to several brain benefits, including improved memory, mood, and protection against cognitive decline. Try to eat fish 2 times per week or consult with your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement.

  1. Berries

Berries may benefit the brain in several ways. First, they contain flavonoids. In addition to giving these fruits color, they have been shown to improve memory. Berries also contain antioxidants, which may improve memory and delay brain aging. Excellent options include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

  1. Green, leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables, like kale, spinach, broccoli, and collards, may also help slow cognitive decline. They are often full of brain-boosting vitamins, including vitamin K, folate, lutein, and beta-carotene.

  1. Nuts

Nuts, particularly walnuts, contain healthy fats and proteins. Walnuts contain alpha-lipoic acid. This is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps lower blood pressure and protect arteries, which benefits the brain. Many nuts also include vitamin E, antioxidants, and plant compounds, all of which support brain health.

Considering the Blue Zone Diet

When exploring diets that benefit the brain, you may want to look into the Blue Zones Food Guidelines. These 11 guidelines were derived from the diets of the world’s longest-lived people. The Blue Zones Food Guidelines are mostly plant-based and emphasize eating plenty of leafy greens and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Only about 5 percent of the diet includes animal products. The diet also insists on minimizing sugar, snacking on nuts, and sticking to sour or whole wheat bread.

Speak with a Medical Professional

It’s common for people to notice changes in their memory as they age. Some have a harder time recalling information such as names, dates, and times. Others describe themselves as more forgetful. Minor changes in your memory are normal, but significant changes are not. If you have a noticeable decrease in your thinking skills, there may be an underlying cause, such as medications or a medical condition. It’s best to speak with a health care provider about your symptoms.

Heritage Senior Communities Supports a Healthy Diet

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know how important it is for older adults to eat a nutritious diet. That’s why we prepare meals with senior bodies in mind. To learn about how we keep seniors healthy or to learn about our memory care program, contact us today to schedule a private tour.

How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Eat Healthier

How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Eat Healthier

Dear Donna,

My dad is 70 years old, and I am concerned about his diet. He has arthritis, so it’s difficult for him to cook. He usually opts for fast food because the drive-through is convenient. When he does make it to the grocery store, he purchases processed and frozen foods high in sodium. How can I help my senior dad eat better?

Sincerely,

Kim from Grand Haven, MI

How Nutrition Changes with Age

Dear Kim,

It’s great that you are trying to help your dad eat healthier. Mobility constraints are a common reason seniors choose convenience foods over healthy options. However, a diet rich in nutrients is essential for older adults to maintain their health.

Nutrition needs can change with age for various reasons, including:

  • Slowed metabolism: People usually become less active with age. This slows metabolism, so they require less food.
  • Decreased nutrition absorption: Although seniors often require less food, their nutrient requirements increase. Unfortunately, their bodies absorb and use nutrients less effectively, making it more important to make good choices.
  • Change in appetite: Many seniors’ appetites change. This shift can be caused by certain medications or a decrease in their senses of smell and taste.

Consider Frozen Foods

Frozen foods can be a great way for seniors to eat healthy, so long as they are choosing the right foods. Take time to make sure your loved one knows how to read nutrition labels on frozen meals. They should look for items with less than 300–400 calories and between 8 and 25 grams of fat, depending on their diet. Also, make sure meals have less than 800 milligrams of sodium. A few senior-friendly options include:

  • Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir-Fry
  • Trader Joe’s Tandoor Chef Chicken Tandoori with Spinach
  • Healthy Choice Cajun Style Chicken & Shrimp
  • Lean Cuisine Salmon with Basil

Try Meal Delivery Services

If grocery shopping is an issue and no one is available to help, your loved one may benefit from a home delivery meal service. Meal delivery services bring fully cooked meals straight to your doorstep. You store them in the fridge and microwave them when you are ready to eat.

Silver Cuisine, for example, makes meals specifically for adults over 65. Your loved one can choose a meal plan that meets their dietary needs. A few options include heart-healthy, low-sodium, and Mediterranean meal plans.

Consider Meals on Wheels Programs

If you are unable to help your loved one meet their nutrition requirements, then you may want to see if your community has a Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels is dedicated to providing seniors with the nutrition they need to avoid food insecurity and remain independent. Through this program, volunteers deliver well-rounded meals to the home. To learn more about this program or locate your local organization, visit the Meals on Wheels website.

Nutrition Is Important

A healthy diet is essential for all ages, including seniors. Meeting nutrition requirements is necessary for older adults to stay healthy and independent. Those who eat healthily often report stronger immune health, higher energy levels, better cognitive functioning, and an easier time managing chronic conditions.

I hope this helps your dad eat better.

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Supports a Healthy Diet

If you are concerned about your aging loved one’s ability to eat healthily, you may want to consider senior living. Most communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, provide meals designed for the unique needs of older adults. Many communities also offer options to accommodate specialty diets, like low-sodium or sugar-free meals.

Contact us today to learn more about how we help our residents eat healthily.

 

10 Tips for Thriving during Retirement

10 Tips for Thriving during Retirement

When most people think about retirement, the first thing that comes to mind is money. Although your financial situation will play an essential role in your ability to retire comfortably, it isn’t the only thing that matters. Retirement is a time to look forward to, and it’s important to take steps so you can enjoy your new lifestyle.

Here are ten tips for thriving during retirement.

Thriving during Retirement

  1. Stay mentally active.

Staying mentally active can have many positive effects on your life during retirement. It can improve your memory, help you avoid cognitive disease, and improve concentration. Seniors can stay mentally active by completing puzzles, having conversations, and working on creative projects.

  1. Learn something new.

When you think about the last time you learned something new, you probably experienced a sense of accomplishment. The benefits of continuous learning extend beyond giving you a confidence boost. Acquiring knowledge can help you feel smarter and make you more ready to take on new challenges. Reading, meditating, and traveling are all excellent ways seniors can exercise their brains.

  1. Stay socially connected.

Staying connected to others plays a significant role in your overall health and quality of life. Those who maintain strong relationships with friends and family have been shown to have better brain health, live longer, and experience less loneliness. You can nurture your relationships by taking time to call friends, arranging regular visits, and connecting with them on social media.

  1. Stay physically active.

There are many health risks related to living a sedentary lifestyle. In addition to reducing your risk of these diseases, exercise can have many positive effects on your health. Regular exercise can increase your metabolism, improve sleep quality, and support physical and mental health. There are a variety of ways seniors can incorporate exercise into their routines. Walking, swimming, yoga, and participating in senior fitness classes are all excellent options.

  1. Be proactive about your health.

Health is something that many people take for granted. We usually don’t pay attention to it until we are sick. If you want to thrive during retirement, it’s essential to be proactive about your health. Make and keep regular doctor appointments, sleep at least seven hours a night, and listen to your body.

  1. Eat healthily.

Eating a healthy diet is essential for retirees to live their best life. Those who meet their requirements have more energy, better cognitive functioning, a stronger immune system, and have an easier time managing chronic conditions. Do your best to prepare fresh foods daily and review the food pyramid.

  1. Create a safe living environment.

Falling is a common concern among seniors. Taking steps to make your home safe can help preserve your independence. Removing tripping hazards, making sure there is adequate lighting, and installing grab bars where necessary is a great place to start.

  1. Find a sense of purpose.

A sense of purpose is an essential part of aging well. Feeling like your life has meaning is linked to a longer life span, better brain health, increased resilience, and better sleep. Seniors can live purposely in a variety of ways, including adopting a pet, volunteering, and mentoring.

  1. Find healthy ways to cope with stress.

Chronic stress is one of the quickest ways to age your body. To live well during retirement, do your best to keep your stress under control. Meditation, spending time with loved ones, and exercising are all excellent ways to cope with negative feelings.

  1. Organize your finances.

Organizing your finances is an essential part of retiring. Do your best to stick to a budget, plan for unexpected expenses, and avoid trying to keep up with other retirees. Also, continue to save wherever you can.

Look Forward to Retiring

Retiring is an exciting chapter in your life. Many seniors find it easier to enjoy their lives while living in a senior living community. Many communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, offer life enrichment programs that support its residents’ overall health and wellness. This includes plenty of opportunities to be physically active, mentally stimulated, and socially engaged.

Seniors Thrive at Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities helps residents make the most of their retirement years. We have a variety of options to meet the unique needs of seniors and their families. Our dedicated staff can assist seniors with everything they need to live their best life. Contact us today to learn more.