The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of Summer Humidity for Adults With High Blood Pressure

Older adults may already know that hot summer temperatures can create health risks like sunburn and heatstroke. But can the humidity also be dangerous?

Research shows that high humidity, especially when combined with high temperatures, may create cardiovascular risks. Specifically, humidity may have an effect on adults with high blood pressure. Here’s what you should know and how seniors can protect themselves.


How Humidity Can Affect Adult with High Blood Pressure


The greatest risks are when the temperature is above 70 degrees F and the humidity is more than 70 percent. Higher humidity means that there is more moisture in the air, which can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and cool off.

Blood pressure specifically may be affected in summer weather because of the body’s attempts to radiate heat. High temperatures coupled with high humidity cause more blood flow to the skin, which may require the heart to beat faster and harder. In fact, the body may circulate twice as much blood per minute compared to a cool day.

Heat and sweating can also lower the amount of fluid in the body, which can reduce blood volume and lead to dehydration. This may create strain on the heart.


Risk Factors Vulnerable to Humidity


Although anyone can be impacted by heat and humidity without protection, some people are at higher risk. Individuals over the age of 50, those who are overweight, or those who have heart, lung, or kidney conditions may be more affected by humidity.

Other risk factors may include poor circulation, low-sodium diets, alcohol use, and taking certain medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, or blood-pressure medication.


Warning Signs of Stress From Heat and Humidity


The following symptoms, whether they apply to yourself or a loved one, require immediate action against heat stress:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Rapid pulse


If you think you may be experiencing heat stress, move to a cooler, air-conditioned, or shaded area and drink plenty of fluids. You may also want to take a cool shower or bath and lie down.

If the symptoms don’t improve, seek medical help immediately.


Take Precautions Against Humidity


Many of the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to humidity are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are also many options to help protect them.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (even when you don’t feel thirsty).
  • Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks on very hot and humid days.
  • If you spend a lot of time outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics.
  • Wear properly fitted, well-ventilated shoes and socks that repel sweat.
  • Avoid spending too much time outside when the sun and heat are strongest, usually 12pm to 3pm.


Safe, Appropriate Care in All Seasons


Heritage Senior Communities has 15 locations throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, providing a variety of options for your loved one’s specific, unique situation. Schedule a tour by contacting us today!

Planning an Inter-Generational Father’s Day Celebration

Planning an Inter-Generational Father’s Day Celebration

A Father’s Day celebration is an excellent way for multiple generations to come together and honor members of the family. Some advanced planning can make the day go smoothly and ensure that everyone enjoys the event.

How to Plan an Inter-Generational Father’s Day

  1. Choose a comfortable location.

Whether the celebration takes place in a loved one’s home, a local park, or a restaurant, make sure you consider the needs of every guest.

  • If your loved one uses a wheelchair or walker, make sure the location is at ground level and not too far from transportation.
  • There should be plenty of seating, not just for eating but for family members to relax and chat.
  • Make sure there are close, easily accessible restrooms.
  • If the celebration is outdoors, provide adequate shade and cooling options.
  • Make sure all children can be kept safe and supervised.
  • If your location is mainly outdoors, plan for a second location in case of rain.
  1. Provide appropriate refreshments.

A little forethought will ensure everyone enjoys the food.

  • Check for any dietary needs before choosing the party treats.
  • Consider making it a potluck so one person isn’t responsible for all the food.
  • Hydration is important, so provide plenty of drinks within easy reach. Avoid serving only sugary or alcoholic drinks since they can contribute to dehydration. Include pitchers of water on tables.
  • Limit the salt content of any sauces and marinades you use for barbecues.
  1. Encourage fun activities.

It’s not always easy for several generations to interact, but a few fun activities can make things easier and more enjoyable.

  • Set up a craft table for kids and adults to use together, or provide building kits like sailboats or bird houses.
  • Play simple group games like charades or balloon volleyball. Consider asking guests to bring a favorite board game.
  • If any of your guests are musical, invite them to bring their instrument to perform a song.
  • Depending on your budget, you might hire entertainers like a magician, band, or kid-friendly comedian.
  1. Recognize the fathers.

Since the event is for Father’s Day, make sure the fathers in attendance feel appreciated.

  • Encourage everyone to exchange family stories.
  • Have each guest bring a favorite memory or photo of their dad. This can be done in writing or made into a video. Feel free to get creative.
  • Gifts are not always necessary but can be appreciated. One option is to make a donation in a recipient’s name.
  • Give out a certificate, trophy, or other “award” to each father for the things they’ve done over the years. You could make the entire gathering a “Father of the Generation” award ceremony with award presenters and “A Look Back” presentations.

An inter-generational Father’s Day gathering doesn’t have to be complicated. For many fathers, simply enjoying the day with loved ones is enough to make it special.

Help Your Dad Live His Best Life

At Heritage Senior Communities, we offer spacious homes with a variety of opportunities for socializing, exercising, and learning. Contact us today to find out which living option is the best for you or your senior loved one.

Respite Care: Support for Seniors When Families Can’t Be There

Respite Care: Support for Seniors When Families Can’t Be There

Respite care is a way for your senior loved one to receive temporary care when their usual caregiver needs a break.

This type of care may be provided in your loved one’s home, or it may involve a short stay in a senior living community. Respite care may last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on individual need.

Here are the answers to some common questions about respite care.

When is Respite Care a Good Solution?

There are many different reasons why you might consider respite care for your senior loved one.

  • Their home has become uninhabitable, perhaps due home modifications or renovations.
  • They have undergone surgery and need additional care before they can return home.
  • Their usual caregiver is going out of town or simply needs time away from caregiving.
  • They want to experience a senior living community before relocating permanently.

What Respite Care Options are There, and How Do You Find Them?

There is a wide variety of respite care options. If you need a day-long break from caregiving to do other things or just to relax, you could look for day programs that provide socializing opportunities and activities like games, physical exercise, or music therapy. Some programs provide counseling, personal care, and physical or speech therapy.

For longer stays, you might look for a senior living community nearby or find someone who can provide overnight care in your loved one’s home.

Once you know what you’re looking for, there are many ways to find it.

  • Contact the local agency on aging to ask if they maintain a list of respite care options.
  • Check with friends and family who are caregivers for a senior they love.
  • Talk with your family member’s primary care physician.
  • Ask local senior communities about their respite care program.
  • Call the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association’s or visit locating community resources on their website.

Once you find a location, call and ask the staff questions to address any concerns you may have. Their answers will give you some insight in to how they treat those in their care.

How Much Does Respite Care Cost?

The cost of respite care will vary widely depending on the type of care involved and how long it is needed. Ask the respite care provider about payment options or sliding scale fees. Long-term care insurance may also be able to help pay for respite care.

Local, state, or federal government programs are other potential sources of financial assistance. Local agencies on aging or Alzheimer’s Association branches may be able to answer questions about funding respite care.

Need Respite Care for a Loved One?

Heritage communities offer short-term respite care in comfortable apartments with delicious meals and social activities. Contact us to ask questions or to schedule a private tour.

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

7 Steps to Help Prevent Senior Falls

According to the National Council on Aging, falling is the most common cause of injuries among people aged 65 and older. These injuries, such as hip fractures and concussions, may be severe and even life-threatening.

Besides injuries, falling risk can make older adults anxious and unwilling to be more active, limiting quality of life.

So what are some ways to prevent falls for your senior loved one?

7 Steps to Reduce the Risk for Senior Falls


  1. Remove tripping hazards.

Caregivers and their senior loved ones should perform a walkthrough of the home to look for risks that can be removed or repaired.

  • Clean up clutter to keep floor space open.
  • Move items such as plant pots, magazine racks, and power cords out of high-traffic areas.
  • Repair uneven floorboards or loose carpet.
  • Anchor rugs with double-sided tape.
  1. Improve home lighting.

Make sure there is adequate lighting in the home, especially at the top and bottom of staircases, on front porches and stoops, and inside the main door.

Also make sure there is lighting available when getting up in the middle of the night. Keep a flashlight by the bed and check the batteries regularly.

  1. Install handles and grab bars.

Make sure your loved one has something to hold on to when sitting, standing, and getting in or out of the shower. Be sure that bars and handles are installed where they will actually be used.

Handles can also help in other areas, such as hallways. Also, make sure that there are railings on both sides of staircases.

  1. Avoid clothing that can cause falls.

Seniors can help avoid falls by wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes. They should be well-fitting with non-skid soles.

Wear clothing that is comfortable without being baggy. Make sure pants are hemmed and do not drag on the floor.

  1. Stay physically active to avoid falls.

While it sounds counterintuitive, staying physically active can help reduce your senior loved one’s risk of falling.

In particular, practicing tai chi or water aerobics can help improve balance, flexibility, and strength.

  1. Keep up with regular checkups.

Regular hearing and vision checks can help seniors avoid objects that could make them trip or lose their balance. Checkups can also help a loved one monitor or avoid other risk factors for falling, such as dizziness and joint pain.

  1. Discuss falling concerns with a physician.

If fear of falling is interfering with your senior loved one’s quality of life, discuss this with a physician. They may recommend referring your loved one to a physical therapist. They can also evaluate your loved one’s medications and adjust them if necessary since many medicines may carry side effects that increase fall risk.

Senior Falls May be Avoided

With enough precaution and monitoring, your senior loved one can continue to enjoy a high quality of life free of falls and the injuries they cause.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we strive to maintain healthy, safe residences that allow seniors to live full, active lives. Contact us to learn more, including details about our newer locations in Holland and Saline, Michigan.

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.