Benefits of Eating Fish for Older Adults

Healthy eating and practicing proper nutrition are important at any age, but it becomes more so as we get older. As we age, our bodies don’t always absorb nutrients as well as they once did. Therefore, it’s important to pay special attention to what we eat and prioritize nutrient-dense foods. While lean meats are great sources of protein, which help our bodies function properly, chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meat. Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy diet and can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and the most common type of stroke.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least eight ounces of seafood per week. Fish contain high amounts of protein, healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins B-12 and D, and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Experts also agree that consuming fish can promote heart and brain health.

Fish Help You Have a Healthy Heart
Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that act as an energy source and help keep the lungs, blood vessels, and immune system functioning properly. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel, tuna, and oysters. These omega-3 fatty acids aid in healthy brain function, reduce inflammation and arthritis, and can even reduce the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and diabetes. Some research also suggests that omega-3s have a positive effect on gradual memory loss commonly associated with aging.

Health Benefits of Eating Fish
In addition to protecting the heart and brain, eating fish regularly has been linked to other health benefits. Fish can impact many functions of the body, including your liver, quality of sleep, and weight management. Some of the main benefits of eating fish include:
Lowers risk of heart disease
According to some studies, consuming fish has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids work to prevent inflammation, which helps protect the heart and decrease the risk of other chronic diseases.
Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Fish consumption can increase gray brain matter, which prevents brain deterioration and shrinkage, both of which can cause a decline in brain function. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who ate baked or broiled fish once per week had a lower risk of developing either Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.
Lowers symptoms of depression
Researchers believe that omega-3 fatty acids are linked to the functioning of serotonin in the brain, which plays an important role in mood regulation. Wild-caught fish such as salmon and sardines are believed to help fight depression and manage its symptoms.
Improves vision and eye health
Both the eyes and brain rely on heavy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to maintain their health and function. Consuming fish, which is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, can help improve vision and maintain eye health.
Improves quality of sleep
Research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids consistently can have a positive impact on sleep quality. Regularly consuming fish can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your overall function during waking hours. According to Psychology Today, DHA, a type of omega-3 fat, stimulates melatonin, which is a key hormone that facilitates sleep.
Alleviates arthritis
Many older adults suffer from arthritis or the swelling and inflammation of one or more of their joints. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body and can help lessen the symptoms of various types of arthritis.
Lowers blood pressure
According to the Mayo Clinic, inflammation in the body can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids can help benefit heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clotting, and reducing irregular heartbeats. Researchers suggest consuming two servings per week of fish to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Best Types of Fish to Eat
According to Healthline Magazine, some fish contain contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, which can negatively impact our health. However, the following fish are eco-friendly and have lower rates of mercury and contaminants:

Alaskan salmon. Both farmed and wild salmon contain omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals. While there’s a debate over which one is better, both can provide the same health benefits.

Cod. This white fish option contains phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B-12, and nearly 20 grams of protein in a three-ounce portion.

Mackerel. This oily fish is packed with healthy fats which can improve endurance, aid in exercise recovery, and also improve skin health.

Sardines. Sardines are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In addition, sardines are also packed with protein, which is essential for building healthy bones and maintaining muscle mass.

Tuna. Tuna is rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. In addition, the omega-3s present in tuna can help the risk of stroke and heart attack, while also improving the immune system.

Chef Giovanni Dillard from Maplewood at Danbury shared a fish recipe that her residents love.

Pan-Seared Salmon with an Orange Ginger Glaze

4oz salmon

2tsp Parsley

Salt and Pepper to liking

1tsp Garlic powder

4 tsp Olive oil

Flour

2tsp butter

2tsp flour

1tsp Ginger

1tsp chopped garlic

1 C Orange juice

  1.  Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil
  2. Rub salmon with spice mixture
  3. Take a frying pan on medium heat (let the pan get hot for about 3 minutes)
  4. Olive oil 2tsp in pan and sear salmon till golden
  5. Take salmon and place on cooking sheet and bake on 325 for about 10 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145

Orange ginger glaze

  1. In the same saucepan,  take butter garlic, and ginger cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Next, add flour and cook until light brown
  3. Add orange juice and cook until thick

Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes. I like serving with asparagus but any vegetable will do. This is a simple recipe that takes from start to finish about 20 minutes!!

Ways to Incorporate Fish into Your Diet

If you’re not used to consuming fish as a part of your regular diet, incorporating it into your weekly routine might seem daunting. However, there are a few quick and easy ways to add fish into your routine without having to spend much time preparing it.

Many dietitians suggest substituting tuna for chicken when preparing recipes such as chicken salad or chicken casseroles. Adding fish to your breakfast can be as simple as serving smoked salmon with your eggs or topping it on your favorite bagel. You might consider adding fish to your favorite pasta dishes, on your tacos, or adding it to a stir-fry or homemade sauce. Fish can also be a quick on-the-go snack. Tuna and salmon pouches can be eaten alone, on crackers and salads, or in a sandwich for a quick, protein-packed meal.

Cooking with Fish at Maplewood Senior Living
Maintaining a healthy diet is important no matter your age. However, at Maplewood Senior Living, we know how much diet can impact overall wellness for older adults. Our excellent culinary team uses the freshest ingredients and heart-healthy recipes when preparing meals and food options for our residents. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Fresh from the Garden—Vegetarian Dishes and Keeping a Healthy Balance

Plant-based diets are growing in popularity because of both ethical and environmental reasons. However, many individuals adopt a vegetarian diet because of its many health benefits. A vegetarian diet for seniors has been shown to strengthen the immune system, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke and improve overall well-being. A typical vegetarian diet includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. Because our nutritional needs change as we age, older adults need to watch their diets closely. Medications, a loss of appetite, or loss of taste can make it difficult for seniors to get the nutrients they need each day. However, vegetarian and plant-based diets provide several health benefits for older adults.

Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet for Seniors
According to Medical News Today, people following a vegetarian diet can benefit both physically and mentally. Those who choose to adopt a plant-based diet are also more likely to make decisions that promote an overall healthy lifestyle. While only 1.8% of older adults above the age of 65 eat a vegetarian diet, the benefits speak for themselves:

  • Decelerates the aging process. Telomeres are the rebuilding enzymes found in our cells, which can affect how our cells age and regenerate. Some researchers believe that a diet rich in vegetables and other plants can increase the activity of telomeres and help slow down the process of aging.
  • Promotes a healthy weight. Switching to a vegetarian diet for seniors can help an individual maintain a healthy weight as most eat high volume and low-calorie foods.
  • Boosts energy. Our bodies break down plant-based foods more easily than meat and dairy products. Because of this, our digestive systems don’t have to work as hard when we consume a vegetarian diet, leaving us with more energy and strength.
  • Promotes cognitive health. According to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, a plant-based diet, especially one rich in berries and green leafy vegetables, can help slow down heart failure and lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Decreases the risk of cancer. Some studies suggest that those who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in meat products have some protection from cancer compared to those who consume a non-vegetarian diet.
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes. Because vegetarians and those who eat mostly plant-based consume a higher intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and often a lower intake of unhealthful fats, are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Avoiding Deficiencies on a Plant-Based Diet
While eating a plant-based diet offers numerous health benefits, some overall risks should be considered especially for older adults. Foods typically eaten on a plant-based diet are often low in calories and protein. which if not addressed can cause health problems and malnutrition. That’s why eating a balanced diet is important for seniors. According to Harvard Medical School, here are a few of the most common deficiencies and how to avoid them.

Calcium deficiencies– Calcium is one of the most important nutrients that support strong bones and teeth. In addition, calcium also ensures the function of our muscles, cells, and nerves. Older adults should aim to consume between 1,000 and 1,2000 mg of calcium per day. Those who eat mostly plant-based can meet their calcium needs by consuming calcium-rich foods such as almonds, dark leafy greens, figs, tofu, and oranges.

Prioritize deficiencies- Protein helps maintain muscle mass and strength, promotes bone health and other physiological functions. As we age, our bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it. This is especially true when losing weight, or upon a diagnosis of a chronic or acute illness. Some plant foods such as soy products, legumes, nuts, chia seeds, and spirulina are excellent sources of protein. Older adults should aim to consume 7 grams of protein daily for every 20 pounds of body weight.

B-12 deficiencies– Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that generates DNA, the genetic material in all cells, and helps keep our nerve and blood cells healthy. B-12 is found in poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products in addition to some fortified foods such as plant milk and fortified cereals. It can also be taken as a supplement but be sure to consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet as they can often cause problems with medications.

Tips for Getting Started
If you’re interested in adopting a vegetarian diet for seniors or consuming more plant-based foods, it’s important to consult your doctor. Receiving medical clearance is highly suggested as some medications or chronic conditions may prevent you from adopting a vegetarian-based diet.
When starting, take it slowly. You might consider combining different plant food sources, such as soups, salads, and smoothies, to maximize calories and nutrients. As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience a loss of appetite or difficulties with chewing and swallowing. Find different ways to get adequate nutrition in every meal.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
– Include protein in every meal
– Eat snacks or small meals throughout the day
– Include plant-based milk in your beverages such as tea, coffee, or smoothies
– Add olive oil to your meals. You can do this by adding oil to your salads and soups
– Add nut-butters to bread, in smoothies, or on top of dairy-free yogurt

Low iron can also be an issue for older adults who don’t eat a varied diet. Iron is responsible for making red blood cells that supply oxygen throughout the body. In addition, iron also supports a healthy immune system, heals wounds, and promotes cognitive function. Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and dried fruits provide sources of iron. Older adults who eat a plant-based diet should diversify their diet by trying new things and experimenting with different recipes.

Prioritizing Nutrition at Maplewood Senior Living
A balanced diet becomes increasingly important as we age. That’s why our culinary team at our Maplewood Senior Living communities provides residents with new recipes, fresh ingredients, and healthy meals throughout the day.
If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings or scheduling a tour, please contact us.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

As we age, we should look for ways to protect our overall health and prevent the onset of illness and disease. Eating a balanced diet can help us age healthfully and stay independent for longer. Adding whole grains to our diets can help prevent some diseases and other conditions common among older adults. The health benefits of whole grains come from built-in protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium. In short, whole grains are packed with health-enhancing nutrients.
Diets that include the recommended amount of whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even some forms of cancer. Whole grains are also important for maintaining colon health by promoting healthy bacteria in the colon and regular bowel movements. Dietary Guidelines recommend that total fiber intake for adults older than 51 should be at least 28 grams per day for men and 22 grams for women. However, the average American falls short of this recommendation, missing out on the important health benefits of whole grains.

What Are Whole Grains, Anyway?
Some of the most common varieties of grains are corn, rice, and wheat, all of which are commonly referred to as cereals. Some seeds of these non-grass plants are also considered grains, such as buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. Whole-grain kernels contain three essential parts that offer unique health benefits:
The Bran. The outer layer of a whole-grain kernel is called the bran, which supplies nutrients like B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Bran and fiber are also responsible for slowing the breakdown of starch into glucose which prevents our blood sugar from spiking.
The Germ. This part of the whole-grain kernel is responsible for seed growth and contains healthy fats and fiber.
The Endosperm. This is the inner layer of the whole grain that contains nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, B vitamins, and minerals.
Whole-grain foods contain all three parts mentioned above and can come whole or in their flour form while retaining all naturally occurring nutrients. Other grains like refined grains and enriched grains contain some parts of whole grains, but not all three elements. Refined grains have had the germ and bran removed, while enriched grains have some vitamins added back in, but don’t contain all nutritious properties. To reap the health benefits of whole grains, it’s important to choose them in their whole form. According to the Mayo Clinic, some common forms of whole grains include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, and whole-wheat bread, pasta, and crackers.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Why is whole grain better? Adding whole grains to your diet can help improve your overall health in several ways. As researchers continue to study the health benefits of whole grains, experts agree they can affect our health in the following ways:
Lower risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and older adults above the age of 65 are more likely to develop heart disease than younger adults. One study review found that adults who consumed 28 grams of fiber each day reduced their risk of heart disease by 22%. Heart-healthy diets also call for whole-grain foods while avoiding refined grains which don’t contain as many nutrients.
Reduce the risk of obesity
Fiber-dense foods can help prevent overeating and are recommended for folks who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight. Foods high in fiber are more filling and a healthy option for those who are at risk of obesity.
Aid with digestion
Fiber works to add bulk to stools and can help those who struggle with constipation. Fiber-rich foods also help healthy bacteria grow in the colon, which is especially important in maintaining digestive health.
Reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a key factor in many chronic diseases and conditions. However, eating whole grains can help lower the risk of inflammation in the body. One study, in particular, reported that participants who replaced refined wheat products with whole wheat products saw a reduction in inflammation.
Protect teeth and gums
Gum disease is often linked with other health conditions such as inflammation and heart disease. While visiting the dentist and practicing proper oral hygiene can help reduce the risk of gum disease, consuming whole grains can help too. A study found that consuming high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, can reduce the risk of developing gum disease, especially in older adults.

Adding Whole Grains into Your Diet
If consuming whole-grain foods isn’t part of your current diet, it might take some time to adjust. However, adding in more whole grains and experimenting with different flavors can be a fun experience. Here are a few ways to get started:
There are so many whole-grain options that can replace traditional refined grain foods. Bagels, cereals, bread, and crackers all come in whole grain form and have much higher rates of nutrients and health benefits. Try swapping your regular bread or cereal for a whole-grain option.
Adding whole grains to your regular baking recipes for cakes, pastries, and pies is a great way to sneak in additional nutrition to something you love. Swap half of the all-purpose flour for whole-meal flour or whole-grain oats.
If you usually consume white rice and pasta, try using a whole-grain option such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. You can use your favorite recipes and still enjoy all the additional health benefits of whole grains.
The easiest way to add whole grains into your diet is to snack on them. Air-popped popcorn and stone-ground corn tortillas are packed with fiber and can help keep you feeling full.

Living Well at Maplewood Senior Living
Aging well can take a team. Our highly trained chefs and foodservice teams design nutritious dining options that keep our residents feeling their best while enjoying every meal. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

What Malnutrition in Seniors Looks Like

When we think of malnutrition in seniors, it’s common to envision an older adult who looks frail and underweight. However, malnutrition doesn’t only happen to those who lack access to healthy foods or suffer from hunger. Malnutrition is widely prevalent in older adults, and because the signs and symptoms can be hidden from others, it often goes unidentified.

Maplewood’s dietician, Maria Gleason, explained how seniors can lose track of what they are eating and its nutritional value, “I feel that malnutrition sneaks up on the elderly. Some causes are related to a decline in a medical condition such as chewing or swallowing difficulties. Because of this, they may eat less protein, such as meat, cheeses, and nuts.  We find they are usually less social, show signs of physical and mental decline which may make food preparation more difficult, especially if they are on their own at home. As people age, they need more nutrients because their bodies are less efficient at using them. Most elderly people eat less which can lead to muscle wasting, which then can lead to falls. They also experience a decrease in taste, smell and appetite which additionally leads to eating less.”

Malnutrition can look different on each individual and can take place in those who are both underweight and overweight. Older adults can become malnourished for several reasons. Some chronic diseases, which are prevalent among older adults, can increase the risk of developing malnutrition. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic conditions can affect our appetite and eating habits, change our metabolism and cause other changes in our dietary needs. Often, it’s a combination of physical, social, and physiological issues that lead to malnutrition, especially in older adults.

Causes of Malnutrition in Older Adults
Malnutrition in seniors is a common yet under-recognized problem. While the causes of malnutrition might seem obvious, it’s a more complex phenomenon than most understand. Malnutrition can be caused and exacerbated by different factors, all of which can harm one’s long-term health. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of malnutrition in seniors include the following:

Age-related changes. As we age we undergo physical changes that can affect appetite. Our senses of taste, smell and hunger levels can decline with age, which reduce the urgency and enjoyment that we normally associate with eating. Activity levels are likely to decrease over time too, which may slow metabolism and overall appetite.
Living alone. Older adults who live alone are more likely to experience feelings of depression, which can cause a lack of appetite. A person who lives alone will more often miss out on the social pleasure of companionship-dining or may become disinterested in preparing food for only themself. Older adults living alone are more likely to lose track of their nutrition and eating habits than those who live in residential communities.
Dental problems. Those with poor dental health might find it painful to chew and swallow, making eating meals a difficult experience.
Dementia. Cognitive issues caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia can make it difficult to remember to replenish food supplies, prepare meals, or even eat.
Interacts with medications. As older adults work to manage chronic conditions or illness through medication, side effects can cause changes in appetite. Some medications can cause problems with absorbing nutrients, contributing to malnutrition.
Restricted diets. Dietary restrictions, such as limiting salt, fat, and sugar, can lead to inadequate eating and malnutrition.

Effects of Malnutrition on the Body
According to the National Council on Aging, malnutrition threatens our overall health. Malnutrition can weaken bones and muscles, which can make everyday tasks feel difficult and even unsafe. Our mobility, posture, and overall strength will decline when we’re malnourished and increase our risk of fall-related injuries.
When our bodies lack proper nutrition, our immune systems suffer. Our nutrition intake can influence how we recover from injury, respond to chemotherapy and fight off illnesses. When we are undernourished, our bodies lack the energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to protect themselves.
Severe malnutrition can also harm our organs and damage their ability to function. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which often accompany malnutrition, can accelerate eye disease that can ultimately lead to vision loss. Those who are malnourished can lose neurons in the brain, which can impair speech, decision-making, and memory.

Monitoring Nutrition and Preventing Malnutrition
For older adults who live alone and without care, malnutrition can be hard to identify without knowing the risk factors. Those who live in assisted living facilities or retirement communities traditionally have access to a wider range of nutritious foods and have staff available to monitor their nutrition. Caregivers and family members should consider the following tips to monitor their loved one’s nutrition and prevent malnourishment:

Monitor weight
Tracking your loved one’s weight will help identify any sudden or drastic changes that might be contributing to malnutrition. Changes in how clothing fits can also indicate weight loss for those who are non-ambulatory.

Observe eating habits
Take time to observe your loved one’s eating habits during meal times. Note which foods your loved one is eating and how much they can consume.

Keep track of medications
You might consider bringing a list of medications and the dosages to a health care provider to see if there might be an interaction causing a change in appetite or nutrition absorption.

Make meals a time for socialization
Those who share meals are much more likely to enjoy their meal and consume it. Older adults in a senior living community — in independent living or an assisted living setting — eat together and participate in social programs that encourage proper nutrition.

Encourage physical activity
In addition to the well-known benefits of increased strength and flexibility, light exercise can help stimulate the appetite. Talk to a health professional about appropriate fitness activities for yourself or a loved one.

Take care of oral health conditions
Addressing dental problems can make mealtimes more enjoyable and decrease the risk of malnutrition. In recent years, it’s been noted that oral health has a significant effect on overall health. In short, take care of your mouth, and your mouth will take care of you.

Improving Nutrition
If you or your loved one struggles with appetite, there are strategies that can help. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats will keep you feeling full and nourished. Using spices and herbs while preparing meals can increase interest in eating and appetite.
It’s important to consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist if you or your loved one feels they might be at risk of malnutrition. These professionals can also recommend safe supplements, like nutrition drinks or vitamins.

Eating Well at Maplewood Senior Living
Maplewood Senior Living communities have dedicated nutritionists and chefs that plan meals using nutrient-dense ingredients, designed to prevent malnutrition in seniors. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Importance of Vitamin D as We Age

Getting enough vitamin D ensures that our bodies function well, keeps our bones strong, and may minimize the effects of some cancers. Maintaining proper levels of vitamin D is important at every age, however, it’s especially significant for older adults, who are more at risk of fall-related injuries. Without vitamin D, our bodies are unable to absorb calcium, which is the primary component of bone.

While our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, many older adults don’t always get regular sun exposure and can have additional difficulties absorbing vitamin D. Although many of us are aware of the importance of vitamin D for bone health, there are many other ways vitamin D protects our bodies that are often overlooked.

At Maplewood Senior Living, your health is top priority. Our culinary teams work hard to make sure our residents are eating well as they age and keep a close eye on them to make sure they are getting all the right nutrients they need.  Read about our dining philosophy. 

Importance of Vitamin D for Seniors

Traditionally, people recognize vitamin D by its role in protecting our bones. However, researchers are beginning to accumulate more data that suggests vitamin D does much more than it’s credited. Here are some of the important functions that vitamin D plays in the body:

Bone health and calcium absorption. Vitamin D is best known for its ability to keep bones healthy by increasing the absorption of calcium. Low levels of vitamin D can significantly reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium, increasing the risk of bone fractures. Besides, weak bones can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis.

Working with parathyroid glands. Parathyroid glands help balance calcium in the body by communicating with the kidneys, gut, and skeleton. When there is sufficient vitamin D enabling the absorption of calcium, extra dietary calcium is put to use in other areas of the body. However, if there is a shortage of calcium being absorbed or if vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will take calcium from the skeleton to maintain proper levels of calcium in the blood.

Prevents cancer. Research suggests that vitamin D can help prevent certain cancers. Some data suggests that many cells in the body can activate vitamin D, helping to regulate cellular growth. In return, this can help reduce the risk of cancers like colon, breast, and prostate cancer.

Reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Older adults are more at risk of developing illnesses that can result in cognitive decline. Recent studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels in older adults are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

It’s not uncommon for older adults to have low levels of vitamin D, especially since many lack direct exposure to sunlight. In fact, during the shorter summer months, people who live at certain latitudes don’t have enough exposure to UVB energy to make all the vitamin D they need. Many older adults can have difficulty absorbing vitamin D as a result of interactions with certain medications or due to hereditary diseases, such as familial hypophosphatemia.

Lack of vitamin D can be difficult to identify, especially in adults. Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can look like fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, muscle aches, mood changes, and depression. While there are many different causes of vitamin D deficiency, here are a few of the most common causes in older adults, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

• Age. As we age, our bodies naturally reduce vitamin D production in the skin. Researchers have found that older adults produce 50% less vitamin D when compared to younger individuals.

• Mobility. It’s not uncommon for older adults to lose physical mobility as they age. Those who are non-ambulatory might find it difficult to get direct sun exposure as often as needed.

• Skin color. Those with darker skin do not necessarily lose the ability to produce vitamin D. According to a study performed on Maasai herders, they were producing vitamin D at the same level as adults taking 3,000-5,000 units per day.

• Chronic illnesses. Diseases like Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease make it difficult for intestines to absorb vitamin D.

• Weight loss surgeries. These surgeries can make it difficult to consume and absorb sufficient amounts of nutrients and vitamins needed for our bodies to function properly. Instead, those who have undergone weight-loss surgeries may need to consume supplements to ensure their bodies are absorbing enough vitamin D.

• Obesity. Those with a body mass index greater than 30 are more at risk of testing at low levels for vitamin D. Research suggests that fat cells store vitamin D instead of releasing it throughout the body.

• Kidney and liver diseases. These diseases make it difficult for the body to transform vitamin D into a usable form. This can cause a vitamin D deficiency that will need to be monitored.

Health Risks Related to Vitamin D Deficiency

When the body detects low levels of vitamin D, it has trouble absorbing calcium, which is critical for bone health. Instead of malfunctioning, the body takes calcium that’s stored in the bones. If this continues to go unaddressed, it can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, which older adults are already at an increased risk of developing.

Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to other medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune conditions. Those who have low levels of vitamin D were 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

How to Consume More Vitamin D

Adults ages 70 and below require 600 IU of vitamin D, while adults over the age of 70 require 800 IU. While getting enough vitamin D is needed to maintain proper body functions, too much can have an adverse effect.

Vitamin D comes primarily from direct exposure to sunlight. However, we can also consume vitamin D through food sources. While most foods aren’t high in vitamin D, there are some fortified foods, like milk, cereal, and orange juice that have higher amounts of vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from fatty fishes like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks.

Maplewood’s Culinary Director, Chef David Simmonds gave us this delicious salmon recipe for two. He uses a variation of this in our communities.

Salmon Quilt Enroute with Mushroom Duxelle

(Mushroom stuffing, serves2)

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Norwegian Salmon Filet, 10 oz (skinless)
  • Olive oil, 2 oz
  • Mushrooms medium, 12
  • Shallots, 2 cloves peeled
  • Milk/Cream, 3 oz
  • Parmesan Cheese, 3 oz
  • Dry White wine, 4oz
  • Sea Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon
  • Puff Pastry
  • Egg, 1

Cook mushrooms with shallots, olive oil, wine, reduce on low, add milk/cream continue to reduce. Pull from heat and add to a food processer. Blend the ingredients, add parmesan cheese season to taste, and then fold in a whipped egg. Place mixture on sizzle plater. Cut the salmon into thin strips to braid. Braid the strips and place them on top of the mushroom duxelle

Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 140 degrees.  Chef Dave garnished with roasted beets, green beans, and fresh lemon.

If this isn’t enough, vitamin D supplements can be a better option. It’s always important to consult your doctor before making changes to your diet or adding in a dietary supplement, especially because too much vitamin D can be harmful to your health.

Catering to Vitamin D Needs at Maplewood Senior Living

Taking care of our bodies can feel like a full-time job. At Maplewood Senior Living, our talented staff prioritizes the health needs of all residents. Our team of chefs at each community prepares meals specifically designed to meet the needs of older adults. Maplewood’s Nutritionist, Maria Gleason, works with our culinary teams and residents to create meals that are tasty and healthy. “We make sure our menus incorporate foods that are rich in Vitamin D such as salmon, eggs, cheeses, and fortified milk and orange juice.”

If you’re interested in learning more about our special offerings or scheduling a tour, please contact us.

The Many Health Benefits of Chocolate

The way we choose to fuel our bodies is important no matter our age. Food gives us energy, keeps our bodies functioning, and helps control our weight. When fueled properly, our diet can also help prevent some diseases and protect our brain health. As we age, our dietary needs change and the food we consume becomes more important. You may think you have to cut out or restrict the foods you enjoy the most that aren’t as nutrient-dense as others. However, that’s not the case with chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients, which makes this treat a superfood. While this may come as a surprise, you might find chocolate’s unique history even more intriguing.

The History of Chocolate

Most of us know chocolate as a dessert bar, however, 90 % of chocolate’s history comes in the form of a beverage. The word “chocolate” can be traced back to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which refers to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. It’s estimated that chocolate has been around for over 2,000 years. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had magical properties and was often used in rituals during birth, death, and marriage. During the 17th century, Europeans began using chocolate in the form of a beverage, which was believed to have healing properties and often used for medicinal purposes. By 1828, a Dutch chemist discovered powdered chocolate by removing some of the natural fat in cacao. This eventually led to the creation of solid chocolate. In 1868, Cadbury was the leading manufacturer of boxed chocolate, followed shortly by Nestle. Today, chocolate can be found in most stores and on every dessert menu. While most of us recognize chocolate for its delicious taste, many are unaware of its health benefits

Is Chocolate Healthy For You?

Made from the seed of the cacao tree, dark chocolate is filled with nutrients that can lower the risk of heart disease and also acts as one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. Dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao or higher has more antioxidants than even green tea and red wine and can also help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Real data suggests that eating just one ounce of dark chocolate a day can lead to a wide variety of health benefits:

Prevents heart disease

One of the most impactful benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. A study published by Clinical Nutrition found that “people who ate dark chocolate more than five times a week reduced their risk of heart disease by nearly 57%.” Flavonoids present in dark chocolate help reduce nitric oxide, causing our blood vessels to relax and ultimately lower our blood pressure.

Improves brain function

Eating dark chocolate may help improve brain function and decrease the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Findings from a study conducted by researchers at the Autonomous University of Baja California suggest that the flavanols in dark chocolate can help enhance the brain’s neuroplasticity, which ultimately helps improve brain function and cognitive skills.

Reduces the risk of diabetes

Those who have diabetes are traditionally insulin resistant and suffer from high blood sugar. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can help improve our ability to process glucose, and over time can reduce the risk of diabetes. A study published in January 2017 found that those who did not consume chocolate had twice the risk of developing diabetes within five years when compared to those who consumed dark chocolate at least once per week.

Aids in weight loss

Quality dark chocolate with a high cacao content is filled with soluble fiber, minerals, and is actually very nutritious. Dark chocolate is high in manganese, copper, magnesium, iron and low in polyunsaturated fat. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate after a meal, especially if you crave sweets, can trigger hormones that communicate a feeling of fullness to your brain. This can stop sugar cravings, help with weight loss, and decrease your risk of overeating after meals.

Can Help Prevent cancer

Antioxidants help protect our cells from free radicals which can cause damage to our bodies over time. When our bodies have too many free radicals attacking our cells, we’re more at risk of developing diseases and even cancers. Dark chocolate, which is packed with antioxidants, also contains cancer-fighting properties and is thought to decrease our risk of developing certain cancers.

3 Ways to Serve Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate can taste very bitter, especially if you prefer eating milk chocolate but want the same health benefits. The good news is it doesn’t take much to make dark chocolate taste delicious. As you look for ways to add dark chocolate into your diet, here are a few delicious ways to serve it:

• Melt. By placing dark chocolate in the microwave for a short time or on the stovetop stirring consistently, it becomes a sauce that is delicious over oatmeal, ice cream, fruit, or even graham crackers.
• Shave it. To eliminate some bitterness, try shaving small curls of dark chocolate to pair with dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, or even on top of frozen yogurt.
• Blend it. Using cacao powder as your base and add a frozen banana to make dairy-free ice-cream. You can also add cacao powder to your smoothies to give a chocolate flavor.

We asked Alan Livingston, Culinary Director at Maplewood at Cuyahoga Falls how he feels about chocolate, clearly, he loves it, “In the dessert world, chocolate is the epitome of comfort. Melted chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, hot chocolate, chocolate cream pie, chocolate truffles, or just a chocolate bar. How do they make you feel? For me, the experience is calming and joyful, brings back good memories, and helps me live in the moment.

From rich, dark chocolate to white chocolate (technically not really chocolate, but who cares!), the possibilities of what you can create are endless. It’s hard to believe that chocolate as we know it has only been around since the early 1500s when it was first bought back to Spain.”
He added, “For me as a chef, the best moments are when I can create something with chocolate that puts a smile on someone’s face or helps them to just take a second in an otherwise hectic day and to appreciate the simple things.” Chef Livingston gave us this simple recipe that can be used for gift-giving any time of year but especially at the holidays.

Dark and Milk Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
Two 11oz bags of Ghirardelli chocolate chips, one dark, and one milk chocolate
2 cups of crushed peppermint

Equipment:
½ sheet tray (standard size) lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking matt
Offset spatula
A whisk or spoon for stirring
Small heatproof bowl, glass or metal and a pot with water

Directions:
Place 1 ½ bags of the chocolate (1 bag milk and half the dark) in a bowl over a pot with simmering water and melt the chocolate.
You do not want the bowl touching the water, and you want the water simmering, not boiling. It does not take a lot of heat to melt chocolate, and you don’t want to overheat it. Chocolate is temperature-sensitive. (Remember, it can melt in your hand)
After the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and add remaining dark chocolate, whisk or stir together until all the chocolate has melted and there are no lumps. It should look glossy. This is a quick method of tempering chocolate. (See note below)
Spread the chocolate onto the parchment using the offset spatula, then sprinkle the peppermint on top and press gently into chocolate.
Let sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set up, remove, and break into pieces.
Variations:
Dried fruit of any sort. Apricots, cranberries, strawberries, etc.
Almonds or walnuts
*Tempering controls the crystals so that only consistently small crystals are produced, resulting in much better-quality chocolate, and gives you that snap.

Eating Smart at Maplewood Senior Living

We know how important diet is when it comes to living a long and healthy life. Our food service teams at each Maplewood Senior Living community prioritize fresh, local, and healthy ingredients in each meal they prepare—including dessert! To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Many Benefits of Cranberries

It’s cranberry season on the cape! During the fall months, cranberries are harvested all along the South Shore, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. While many of us use cranberries in baking and cooking, especially during the fall and winter months, most people are unaware of their many health benefits. More surprising than their many health benefits is the long history of cranberries starting tens of thousands of years ago.

The History of Cranberries

The beginning of cranberries began when receding glaciers formed cavities in the land that filled with sand, clay, and debris, ultimately creating cranberry bogs that spread across Massachusetts. Wild cranberries have been around for nearly 12,000 years, first cultivated by Native Americans. Traditionally, Native Americans used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney diseases and for nutritional purposes. As Europeans began to explore and settle in New England in the 16th and 17th centuries, cranberries were used to treat poor appetite, blood disorders, and scurvy. Later on, in the 1800s, cranberries began to be cultivated widely and the number of growers increased dramatically throughout the 19th century. By 1927, the cranberry harvest became so vital to Massachusetts’ economy that children were excused from school to help with the work. Today, the industry continues to grow. Cranberry growers harvest nearly 40,000 acres of cranberries each year.

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

While the current uses of cranberries have differed from their early history, they are still used for their many health benefits. Interestingly, research has shown that cranberries can lower the risk of urinary tract infections, prevent certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and decrease blood pressure. Here are a few ways this superfood can help improve our physical health:

Prevent and treat UTIs

Cranberries have long been used to treat Urinary Tract Infections and are still prescribed to treat them today. Research has shown that concentrated cranberries have high levels of antioxidants proanthocyanins, which can help bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls.

Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

According to a 2019 study, cranberries have shown to help manage the risk factors of cardiovascular disease including blood pressure, body mass index, and improve levels of healthy cholesterol. The polyphenols present in cranberries can also help prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure.

Prevent tooth decay

You might be surprised to learn that cranberries can improve our oral health. Proanthocyanins present in cranberries can work to prevent gum disease and the build-up of bacteria that bind to teeth.

Reduce the risk of cancer

Research has shown that cranberries can help slow the progression of tumors and help fight off prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. Additionally, the compounds in cranberries can help trigger the death of cancer cells, slow the growth of these cells, and reduce inflammation. Researchers are still studying the relationship between cranberries and cancer.

Help with weight loss

Obesity can lead to many different health issues, especially for older adults. In fact, research has shown that excess weight is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and other medical conditions. Adding cranberries to your diet can help improve the function of the digestive system and metabolism, all of which contribute to weight loss.

Reduce inflammation

Increasing your consumption of cranberries can help strengthen your immune system and prevent inflammation. The enzyme present in cranberries helps keep viruses separated from your cells, ultimately reducing your risk of illness.

Adding Cranberries into your Diet

While cranberries are in season in September and October, they can be bought all year long. Frozen, dried, and canned cranberries keep for long periods and still have the same nutritional benefits as fresh cranberries. Before you purchase cranberries, be sure to check the nutrition label, as many cranberry products contain added sugars. Here are a few delicious ways you can add cranberries into your diet:

• Add dried cranberries into your trail mix or granola. Be sure to check for added sugars, especially when using dried cranberries.
• Toss in frozen cranberries into your smoothie or fruit bowl. If you find cranberries to taste too tart, try adding some honey for balance.
• Cranberries can add texture and flavor when used as a topping on a salad or even in a fish marinade.
• Make your own cranberry sauce! Canned cranberry sauce contains a lot of sugar, so making it yourself gives you control over what gets added.
• Love oatmeal? Sprinkle some dried cranberries on top or use frozen cranberries to make a sauce to pour over your oatmeal.

Cooking with Cranberries at Maplewood Senior Living

We source locally produced cranberries at many of our Maplewood Senior Living communities. Our chefs use their creativity to incorporate this superfood into as many meals as possible. If you’re looking for a new way to use cranberries, here’s one of our favorites from Chef Tootie at Mill Hill Residence:

Moist Cranberry Orange Bread (from allrecipes.com)

A delicious super-moist dessert bread loaded with mandarin orange and whole cranberries. They make great gifts.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10
Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white sugar (reserve 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

Directions:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a large loaf pan.

Step 2: Combine flour, 1 ¾ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add melted butter, stir until the mixture is crumbly. Reserve about ¼ cup cranberries and ¼ cup mandarin oranges; stir remaining fruit into the flour mixture.

Step 3: Beat eggs, milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, and orange extract in another bowl until smooth. Gradually stir egg mixture into flour mixture until batter is fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Scatter reserve cranberries and mandarin oranges on top of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Step 4: Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking until the center of the bread springs back when touched, 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: To reduce the amount of white sugar in this recipe, we recommend you substitute either 1 cup brown sugar, ¾ cup of honey, ¾ cup maple syrup, or 2/3 cup agave syrup or 1 teaspoon of stevia = for 1 cup of sugar.

We hope you enjoy the cranberry season as much as we do! If you’d like to hear more about our offerings or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

Food and Dementia: Does Diet Reduce the Risk?

While it’s normal to experience occasional forgetfulness as we age, like misplacing our glasses or missing an appointment, memory loss is not a normal part of aging. However, it’s a condition that many older adults experience. In fact, nearly 5 million Americans, aged 65 and older, have been diagnosed with a form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is an overall term used to describe a wide range of medical conditions caused by abnormal brain changes.” Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, accounts for nearly 60-80% of all dementia cases.

While Alzheimer’s and dementia can show up differently in each person, many have problems with short-term memory, remembering appointments and trouble with comprehension, especially when it comes to finances. While we can’t completely eliminate our risk of developing dementia, there are simple things we can do to decrease it. In fact, it can be as simple as eating a healthy diet.

Diet and its Effect on Dementia

It’s been proven that diet can have a profound impact on our overall health, especially as we age. While research is somewhat limited, there are three diets that have been linked to decreasing the risk of dementia.

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

According to the Cleveland Clinic, researchers traditionally thought a high sodium diet resulted in high blood pressure. However, sodium can have a different effect on different people. This prompted further research to study how different diets can impact blood pressure. The DASH diet, which is heavily focused on fruits and vegetables, was found to lower blood pressure significantly. Because heart disease is a common risk factor for dementia, the DASH diet has been encouraged by many researchers as a way to decrease that risk. Those who follow the DASH diet aim to reduce their blood pressure by:

• Eating foods low in fat and cholesterol
• Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts
• Decreasing the amount of red meats, sweets and sugar-based beverages

The Mediterranean Diet

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by abnormal build-up of proteins around our brain cells. The Mediterranean Diet, which includes high levels of antioxidants, can actually protect our brain cells from damage, while also reducing brain inflammation and lowering cholesterol. This diet primarily focuses on fruit, healthy fats, herbs, fish and poultry, while limiting consumption of butter, red meat and salt.

The MIND Diet

This diet is specifically designed to prevent dementia in older adults. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet were combined to create Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND. A study published by Rush University Medical Center showed that, “the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously and by 35% in those who followed it moderately well.” To create the MIND diet, researchers combined elements of both diets and added emphasis on foods that were shown to benefit brain health.

Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers found that older adults, “whose diets most closely resembled the pattern laid out in the MIND diet had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger.” While the MIND diet closely resembles foods found in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, it focuses strictly on foods closely linked to dementia prevention. According to Healthline Magazine, these are the main food types eaten when following the MIND diet:

• Green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach and greens are packed with vitamins A and C and other nutrients. Researchers have suggested that consuming six servings or more provide the greatest benefits.

• All other vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber that are good for overall health. These are recommended in addition to green leafy vegetables.

• Berries- When creating the MIND diet, researchers found that berries in particular are excellent for improving cognitive function and protecting the brain. Researchers suggest eating berries at least twice a week.

• Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and can even lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The MIND diet suggests consuming five servings of nuts per week.

• Olive Oil is a recommended alternative for butter. Studies have shown that olive oil can protect against cognitive decline.

• Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, bread and quinoa should be consumed three times a day when following the MIND diet.

• Fish such as tuna, salmon and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help protect brain function. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet suggests consuming fish once a week.

• Beans are high in fiber and protein, but low in fat and calories. Beans can help you feel full and provide you with nutrients while also keeping your brain sharp.

• Poultry such as chicken and turkey are recommended twice a week.

• Wine- Research shows that red wine can help protect against Alzheimer’s. However, the MIND diet recommends consuming no more than one glass per day.

Healthy Eating Tips for Dementia Prevention

Making drastic changes to your diet can be difficult. If the MIND diet isn’t for you, there are still plenty of ways to use your diet to reduce your risk of dementia. There are certain foods to help prevent dementia that you can consume to help keep your mind healthy. You might consider adopting some of these simple habits to protect your brain without following a strict food plan:

Cut down on sugar
Food and beverages that contain sugar such as soda and refined carbs, can cause our blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, which can inflame the brain. Before eating packaged foods, be sure to read the nutrition label and check for added sugar.

Consume omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats contain docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Omega 3 fats are found in salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. If you prefer not to eat fish, you can supplement with fish oil.

Increase fruits and vegetables
Both fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and can prevent inflammation. While berries are directly linked to brain health, all fruits and vegetables help to protect your body from illness.

Cook at home
When we prepare our own meals, we have control over what ingredients we are using and what we are consuming. While eating at restaurants and picking up take-out can be delicious and convenient, there might be hidden sugar and unhealthy fats.

Drink in moderation
While one glass of wine per day is linked to brain health, overdrinking can raise the risk of memory related diseases.

Preventing Dementia at Maplewood Senior Living

Health is a top priority at Maplewood Senior Living . That’s why each community offers a wide variety of meal and food options to keep our residents physically and mentally healthy. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Benefits of Locally Sourced Food

There is nothing like the flavor of a fresh tomato plucked straight out of the garden or the scent of rosemary that’s just been picked. Many of you may have memories of picking fresh vegetables out of your mother’s or grandmother’s garden and carrying them into the kitchen to eat right away or to add to dinner that night. Now with the convenience of supermarkets and the busyness of life – many of us no longer have the time or energy for gardens but the benefits of food coming straight from the farm or farmer’s market can’t be ignored.
By eating and buying local, you are able to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables that are picked at their peak of ripeness and packed with nutrients and flavor. Whereas much of the produce found in grocery stores is picked before it is ripe in order to travel long distances to reach your table. Of course, cutting down on food miles also helps save the environment by reducing emissions and supports local farmers and growers.

Locally Grown Food at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living , we source as much food as we can locally and for our Connecticut communities, some of it comes from our own farm in Easton. You may be wondering, why buy local? Chef Dave Simmonds, Senior Culinary Services Director at Maplewood Senior Living, told us, “Whenever I mention the ‘Farm’ to a resident or potential resident, they instantly want to go and help out. There is no denying that freshly picked food is just better.”
“In fact, I just passed a resident in the hall and she was holding a fresh heirloom tomato that was just picked from her daughter’s garden. She was glowing as she walked down the hall holding the tomato as if it was a the first-place trophy, it was priceless to see and the tomato was beautiful,” said Dave.

When produce does arrive at communities from the farm, residents do get a real thrill. It triggers memories of their gardens growing up and reminds them of digging up fresh potatoes or pulling up carrots. To compliment sourcing food locally, we also create open kitchens in our communities to enhance the experience. Residents can see our chefs at work creating their meals right in front of them. They can smell a piece of fish frying in a pan or hear the chef chopping herbs for a salad.

Inspired Dining at Maplewood Senior Living

As people age, their sense of taste often decreases, which makes eating fresh, flavorful foods even more important. By watching our culinary teams at work, residents are engaged in the process and often talk to the chef about the preparation of the food.
For our residents who have dementia or Alzheimer’s, we offer our Inspired Dining program which allows them to engage in a culinary dining experience that helps them to discover the joy of living in the moment. Inspired Dining is an overall sensory philosophy, which includes the use of purposeful and custom-made scent focusing on enhancing mood and appetite. In line with recommendations from the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association, we serve fresh brightly colored foods on white plates with contrasting colored table linens to help make the food more distinguishable for residents who have difficulty with depth perception, which is very common among those with dementia.

Seasonal, Local Ingredients for Every Meal

Our chefs build relationships with local farmers and producers to plan their weekly menus around what is in season. The chefs in our Connecticut communities not only source produce from our farm in Easton, but additionally from the rest of the state and neighboring New York and Massachusetts. Baggott Family Farms provides everything from cucumbers and squash to corn, peas and peppers and from the Harvest Farm of Whately we get collard greens, kale, Swiss chard and mint. In the fall, Hudson River Fruit in New York provides us with delicious apples and pears.

In our Massachusetts communities, the proximity to the ocean adds another resource, especially on Cape Cod. Our chefs get deliveries of fresh seafood from Chatham Fish and Lobster and everything from lettuce, beets, tomatoes, herbs and squash from Crow Farm. When it comes to local cheeses, we source them from Great Hill Dairy in Marion that has award-winning Blue Cheese. In fact, it placed 8th in the 2018 World Cheese Championships.
Further afield, from Providence, Rhode Island, we source mozzarella, yogurt and ricotta from Narragansett Creamery. This family-run business was started in 2007 by Mark and Pattie Federico and they now produce 14 different kinds of cheese along with yogurt. PJ Cranberry Bogs are located nearby in Sandwich and the fall delivers freshly harvested cranberries, synonymous with Cape Cod, for pies and jelly.

Our Ohio communities, of which there are three, also benefit from the talent of local farmers and producers. Kaiser Pickles is our source for pickles, peppers and relishes. From Waterfields in Cincinnati, we source microgreens and herbs along with edible flowers. The benefits of consuming local honey have not been lost on our culinary teams either. In addition to adding flavor to dishes, eating local honey has soothing properties, it is antibacterial and it can help alleviate seasonal allergies. We source our Ohio honey from Stein’s Honey, a family-owned business started over twenty years ago with two beehives. They now have over 625 hives, produce honey, comb honey, cream honey and beeswax candles.

Enjoy a Fresh, Locally Sourced Menu at Maplewood Senior Living

While it is not always possible to source everything locally, at Maplewood Senior Living, we do our best to source as much as possible from each state or neighboring states. The results of our efforts show in the dishes we create for our residents and their overwhelmingly positive response. To learn more about our commitment to culinary excellence and our Inspired Dining program, please contact us.

Living Life in the Blue Zone

For most people, aging is mysterious. While there are many ways to hypothesize how we might age, such as family history, genetic testing, and overall lifestyle choices, there’s no specific formula that will tell us exactly what awaits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy in the United States is 78.6 years. However, there are many people who live beyond that expectancy. In fact, nearly 72,000 Americans reached the age 100 in 2014, which increased by 44 percent from 2000. So, the question stands—what’s the secret to living a long and happy life? While many have their own theories, National Geographic sought to find out exactly why people live so long. What they found, along with the Blue Zones Team, is that the secret to longevity is made up of nine common denominators.

The Power Nine

Blue Zones and National Geographic studied areas around the world that were home to the highest proportions of people who reached age 100. In their studies, they found nine common similarities  know as the Power 9:

Move Naturally– For most centenarians, the movement was engrained in their environment, meaning many of them spent their days walking instead of driving a car and using their bodies instead of modern conveniences.

Purpose– Those who live longest have a reason to wake up in the morning and feel excited about the day ahead.
Downshift– Having a stress-reducing routine that’s part of normal daily life helps reduce the risk of suffering from stress-related illnesses, like chronic inflammation.

80% Rule– Many who live long lives are disciplined when it comes to food and stop eating when they are 80% full.

Plant Slant– A common theme among centenarians was a plant-based diet. Many only eat meat on average five times per month.

Wine at 5– Surprisingly, drinking alcohol frequently, but in moderation has been contributed to longevity.

Belong– Those who attend faith-based services four times per month will add between 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.

Loved Ones First– Research from this study found that those who kept their loved ones at the center of their lives lived longer than those who did not. This includes caring for a parent or grandparent, growing a family, and finding a life partner.

Right Tribe– The most successful centenarians belong to social circles that support healthy habits and ultimately help one another make decisions that promote good health and wellbeing.

Incorporating the Power Nine into Our Everyday Lives

Refocusing our lives to emulate the nine values related to longevity can seem like a daunting task. Instead of focusing on the result, making small changes every day is much more manageable. Here are a few ideas to get started:

Finding Purpose

It’s not uncommon for our purpose and passions to change throughout our lives. If you find that your life is the missing purpose, it’s not too late to find it again. As National Geographic found in its studies, those who age successfully have a reason to get out of bed each day. In fact, another study found that having a purpose in life directly affects the way we age. You might consider writing out a list of all the things that give you joy and bring true happiness. As you reflect and narrow down your list, your true purpose might become clearer.

Another way to find your purpose is to envision your “perfect” life within your own reality. This could include finding a way to live out your purpose or make changes to eliminate negativity from your life. You might consider creating small, but concrete steps to keep you moving towards your ideal life.

Finding a purpose also requires tuning into the world around you. Connecting with others and finding ways to contribute to your community can also bring a sense of purpose and pride. Where do you feel like spending your time? Who do you want to spend your time with?

Creating your Inner Tribe

When we talk about finding a “tribe,” we’re really referring to a group of people who reflect core values and qualities we hope to possess ourselves. Just like our friends or partners, your tribe will inspire you to discover your best self. If you don’t have an inner tribe, finding one probably feels impossible. While it does require effort and authenticity, finding your inner tribe is possible no matter your stage in life.

• Self-Reflect- First think about what types of qualities you want from your inner tribe. What are your goals? What activities do you wish you did more? What are your favorite hobbies? By focusing on these desired qualities, you’ll be able to identify them more quickly when they present themselves in different people.
• Try New Things- Sometimes our inner tribe has qualities or talents we wish we had. To identify with these qualities ourselves, we have to do things we’ve never tried. You might consider taking a new class, trying a new hobby, or attending a concert or show. By trying new things, we open ourselves up to new friendships.
• Live Out of Your Comfort Zone- When we’re comfortable, yet not fulfilled, we haven’t reached our potential. If we consistently push ourselves out of our comfort zones, we put ourselves in positions to learn from others and create meaningful relationships with those we might not meet otherwise.

Focus On Movement

As reported in the research, National Geographic found that centenarians had lifestyles that focused on healthy habits, including movement. Because many people in the United States drive more than they walk, many times movement has to be a deliberate act. Here are a few natural and easy ways to incorporate movement into your daily life:

• Park Your Car Far Away. If you are able to do so, try choosing a parking space other than the one right by the front door. The additional steps will add up quickly and ultimately help you build endurance and strength.
• Walk and Talk. The next time you talk on the phone, you might consider taking a walk while chatting. The more movement you can add to your day, the better off you will be long-term.
• Stand Up Each Hour. If you spend most of your day sitting down, try to set an alarm to get up and move around. Movement can help stimulate your brain, stretch your muscles and shake off feelings of fatigue or tiredness.

Prioritizing Power Nine at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living communities want each resident to live long and joyful lives. That’s why we implement power nine practices into daily life through food options, social opportunities, and a wide variety of activities. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a virtual tour, please contact us.