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.

Start Today: 10 Easy Exercises to Add to your Daily Routine

Maintaining your physical health becomes more important as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can help delay, prevent, and manage chronic diseases in addition to reducing the risk of premature death. While starting a routine of easy exercises for seniors might seem overwhelming, just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health problems. Staying active can also help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart and manage symptoms of diseases and illnesses. A consistent exercise routine doesn’t have to require equipment, either. Physical activity can be as simple as walking to the store, exercising in your home, or trying out a new exercise video with a friend. It’s never too late to find enjoyable ways to reap the many benefits of a daily exercise routine.

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults
Exercise doesn’t only provide physical health benefits—it can improve mental health as well. According to HelpGuide, physical activity has many benefits for older adults, even for those starting an exercise routine later in life. Here’s what you can expect to happen when exercising consistently or adopting a new physical activity routine:

Reduce the impact of chronic disease. People who exercise consistently are more likely to experience better digestive functioning, improve their blood pressure and bone density and lower their risk of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Enhance mobility, flexibility, and balance. Different exercises can help improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination—all of which reduce your risk of falling. Strength training can help manage symptoms of arthritis and other chronic conditions.
Improve the quality of sleep. Good quality sleep helps to restore energy levels, heal physical and cognitive damage and improve overall physical function. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep without interruption and wake up feeling ready for the day.
Boost mood and self-confidence. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins which act as natural mood boosters. The release of endorphins can help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety.
Improve brain function. Physical activity can help improve brain function and increase creativity. In addition, exercise can also help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline and help slow the progression of memory and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Types of Exercises
Adding variety to your workout routine can help you stay fit and reduce the risk of developing health complications. Finding a good balance between different types of exercises can help you strengthen your muscles, improve your coordination, reduce the risk of injury and decrease the time it takes you to heal if an injury were to occur. Here are a few of the most common types of exercises:

Aerobic exercise
Aerobic activities, such as walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming, help condition your heart and build your endurance. These exercises can be done at different intensities depending on your overall goals. Aerobic exercises done at a moderate intensity would increase your breathing and heart rate and may cause you to sweat. Those working at a vigorous intensity would be breathing rapidly and find it difficult to carry on a full conversation.

Muscle-strengthening
Muscle-strengthening exercises can help older adults prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density, while also working to improve overall mobility and function. When done correctly, muscle-strengthening exercises will work for all major muscle groups. These exercises include working with resistance bands, exercise machines, and free weights.

Flexibility exercise
Flexibility can help you improve overall muscle function, while also decreasing the risk of fall-related injuries. Stretching can prevent injury, lessen pain, improve posture and physical performance and increase strength. Flexibility exercises include yoga and Pilates.

Balance exercise
Engaging in exercises that improve balance can help reduce the risk of falls, which is a great risk for older adults. Tai chi and yoga can help develop balance along with adding other exercises, such as backward and sideways walking, and heel and toe walking, to your daily routine.

Easy Exercises for Seniors to Try at Home
While everyone can benefit from exercise, older adults live healthier and more independent lives when physical activity is prioritized. Older adult exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy exercises for seniors that can be done in the comfort of your own home without much equipment. The exercises below are designed to work the whole body, allowing you to build strength, improve balance and coordination and increase flexibility. As always, be sure to consult your healthcare provider or ask a certified personal trainer before trying anything new to your exercise routine.

Chair squat. Squats help build strength in the hips, glutes, and thighs. While standing in front of a chair, bend your knees and send the hips back and the arms straight out in front of you. Sit all the way down on the chair. As soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up. Perform 10-12 reps.

Knee lift with a medicine ball. Hold a lightweight or medicine ball with both hands and lift it above your head. Lift the right knee while bringing the ball down to meet the knee. Lower the knee and raise the hands back up. Perform on the other side. Continue this exercise starting with 30 seconds and working your way up to one minute

Side leg lift. Stand sideways near a wall for support. Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the leg out to the side without tilting your torso. Keep your foot flexed and feet parallel. Lower the leg back down. Try 10-12 reps on each leg.

Lat pulls with a band. In a standing or seated position, hold a resistance band over your head with both hands. Create tension in the band by pulling with your hands, keeping the distance between them wider than your shoulders. Keeping the left hand in place, pull the right elbow down to the ribcage and press back up. Try 10-12 reps on each side.

Wall push-ups. Stand three feet away from a wall. Facing the wall, lean forward and place your hands flat against it, in line with your shoulders. Lower your body toward the wall and push back. Repeat 10-12 times.
Pelvic tilts. To help stretch the muscles in your back, take a deep breath and tighten your glutes. Tilt your hips slightly forward and hold for three seconds. Tilt-back and hold for another three seconds. Repeat 10-12 times.

Shoulder blade squeeze. Sitting up straight, rest your hands in your lap and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your shoulders down and hold for 3 seconds. Release and repeat.
Toe taps. While sitting in a chair, lift your toes while keeping your heels on the ground. You should be able to feel the muscles in your shin working. Repeat this 20 times.

Knee lifts. Sitting in a chair with your arms resting by your side. Contract your right leg muscles and lift your leg. Your knee and thigh should be three inches off the seat. Pause for three seconds and lower your leg. Repeat 10-12 times.
Seated rotation. Sit on a chair and hold a lightweight. Holding the weight at chest level, keep your knees and hips facing forward. Rotate your torso to the right as far as you can while contracting the muscles around your waist. Rotate back to the center and then to the left. Continue alternating sides for 12 reps.

Exercising at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re always looking for ways to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our residents by creating easy exercises for seniors. Our state-of-the-art exercise equipment, certified personal trainers, and excellent group exercise classes allow residents to explore new activities that can help build strength and improve balance. To learn more about these offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Benefits of Talk Therapy for Seniors

Each individual approaches their retirement years differently. For some, this period of transition may be met with excitement and anticipation while others worry about the physical and mental effects of aging. Throughout the aging process, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions. However, some periods might be more difficult than others. Losing a spouse or friend, learning to transition into a new home, feeling isolated, or dealing with an illness or chronic condition can severely impact one’s mental health and quality of life.

Healthcare providers often recommend senior talk therapy or psychotherapy to help navigate these difficult periods. What is talk therapy? According to the American Psychiatric Association, “psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illness and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and increase well-being and healing.” Psychotherapy — like talk therapy for depression — can be beneficial in many situations especially as older adults go through the aging process.

When Should You Consider Seeing a Therapist?
There are many different reasons to try senior talk therapy. While some older adults may be having difficulties with age-related life changes, others simply want to adopt a new mindset or perspective.

Here are some of the different situations in which an older adult might choose to work with a therapist:

When experiencing medical issues
According to the National Institute on Aging, approximately 85% of older adults have at least one chronic condition and 60% have two or more conditions. Chronic pain can interfere with daily life and change how you function. However, senior talk therapy can help you deal with pain and allow you to live a happier and healthier life. In addition, those who have a stroke or are at risk of stroke or those who have a family history of heart disease might also choose to work with a therapist to help cope with fear and the side effects of experiencing a medical condition.
For cognitive and mental health concerns
Older adults often experience normal age-related memory loss as they age. However, some adults may develop Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia that can interfere with daily life. Other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are also common among older adults and can severely impact an individual’s quality of life. Senior talk therapy can provide ways to cope with mental health concerns and conditions.
Issues that come with old age
Many older adults experience grief and loss in some form during their retirement years. For some, the loss of independence, death of a spouse or friends, or dealing with mobility issues can cause these feelings to come to the surface. Ongoing therapy sessions can help them work through their feelings.

Benefits of Talk Therapy
Physical and mental changes that come with aging can result in irritability, changes in appetite and sleep quality, difficulty concentrating, and forgetfulness. When these conditions go unaddressed, they often get worse. Speaking to a psychotherapist can help you identify issues and improve your overall quality of life.

Here are some of the benefits that come with working with a therapist:

Helps you adopt an optimistic mindset. It’s easy to get stuck in the “it is what it is” approach to life, especially when it comes to aging. However, older adults need to feel fulfilled in life, just as much as someone in their younger years. Therapy can help identify aspects of our lives that aren’t serving us and work to improve our mindset.
Teaches new sources of meaning. Retirement provides the opportunity to tap into other parts of our personalities. As we age, there’s more freedom to explore hobbies and other interests we might not have had time for in our past. Working with a therapist can help with this transition and encourage us to get more out of life.
Teaches you how to ask for help. Learning how to ask for help can be a lifelong lesson. It’s common for older adults to associate asking for help with losing their independence. However, that’s rarely the case. Therapists can help older adults build a solid support system without losing autonomy.
Creates a vision for the future. We always need a vision for the future, even as older adults. Knowing what you want your future to look like can be a powerful source of self-esteem and encouragement.
Assists in a change of behaviors. Sometimes our habits can contribute to our problems. Speaking with a therapist can help bring awareness to our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, which can allow us to regain control.
Provides support and validation. Counselors provide support and guidance by creating a non-judgmental atmosphere where clients feel safe to express themselves. Good therapists will show compassion, understanding, and empathy.
Aids in self-discovery. Seeing a therapist will provide you with the opportunity to understand yourself more deeply. By understanding your values, personality, and beliefs on a deeper level, you embark on a journey of self-growth and healing.

How to Find a Therapist
If you’re interested in working with a therapist, it’s important to find the right fit. A good way to find an appropriate therapist is to ask a friend or trusted family member for a referral or start researching online.

Here are a few tips to consider as you do your research:
First, it’s important to check your medical insurance to see what type of care is provided. For those aged 65 and older, Medicare covers individual and group psychotherapy with doctors and other licensed professionals. If you use another type of insurance, you might consider calling your patient advocate to see what’s covered.

Once you understand what is covered by your insurance provider, you can start researching providers in your area that work with your insurance type. Online review sites are helpful when deciding if a counselor might be right for you. Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist, American Psychological Association’s Locator, or ZenCare are all great resources to consider. You can search providers by location, specialties, and age group specialization.

Most providers offer a free phone-call appointment which provides the perfect opportunity to ask questions, go over any specific concerns you might have, and ask about their schedule and payment options. Remember, it might take meeting a few different counselors to find the right fit.

Prioritizing Mental Health at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, health is our number one priority. In addition to traditional medical care, our integrated care model also offers mental health services for all of our residents. By taking care of their mental health, our residents can live more joyful and fulfilled lives. To learn more about these 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.

How to Become Your Own Health Advocate

Approximately 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, which means as we age we’re more likely to need additional support from our healthcare providers. It’s a common practice to take a doctor’s belief as to the final word; however, individuals need to play an active role in their own healthcare. Learning how to be an advocate for your health can help you become more confident in making decisions, nurture trusting doctor-patient relationships, and lead to better overall treatment.

Staying in Control of Your Health
Every individual deserves to have control over their healthcare, but knowing where to start might feel like a challenge. Becoming your own healthcare advocate starts by thinking about what you want out of your experience and what you need to feel confident about your healthcare-related decisions. U.S. News & World Report compiled a list of tips to help you get started. Here are a few of our favorite ways to become an advocate for your health:
Understand your medical insurance
Medical insurance can be complicated, but understanding your policy will serve you well. This insight will help you know which healthcare providers are available to you and how to budget for medical costs. If you’re 65 years and older, you’re eligible for Medicare, which is the federal health insurance program for older adults and can be broken down into four parts. You can learn more about Medicare here.

Know which questions to ask
Healthcare providers typically see several patients in one day, so you may not have much one-on-one time with your doctor. Create a list of questions and ask them at the beginning of the appointment. This can help the visit progress naturally and will ensure your most important questions get answered. Getting your questions answered is paramount to being an advocate for your own health.
Maintain your medical records
If you’re seeing a new healthcare provider or adding a specialist, consider keeping your own copy of your medical records. Most healthcare providers keep electronic copies of your records, so sharing them shouldn’t be difficult. Having your records handy puts you and your doctor on common ground, and it can expedite the process of beginning a new healthcare relationship.
Always review your medical bills
Medical bills can be difficult to understand, and reviewing them can save you money. Instead of paying your medical bill immediately, take some time to review it. Question anything that doesn’t add up or seems like an extra charge. This can also help you improve your medical literacy for the future.
Ask for a second opinion
If you don’t understand your diagnosis, receive recommendations for major non-emergency surgery, or if you don’t feel comfortable with your healthcare provider — seek a second medical opinion. A reputable physician will understand a patient’s desire for this and may even recommend another doctor. A physician’s resistance to your getting a second opinion should be seen as a red flag. A second opinion can often save you money and keep you feeling confident in your choices.
Communicate concerns and needs
The best way to advocate for your health is to communicate what you need with your healthcare provider. If you have questions about the cost of your premium, treatment plans, diagnosis, or medications — you’re within your rights to ask and get answers.

What Are You Advocating For?
Before any appointment, spend some time reflecting on what would make you feel most comfortable and cared for during a medical visit. This could be anything from the level of attentiveness from staff to the ease of parking at the office. You want to advocate for your ideal appointment, whatever that might look like. Here are a few things to consider:

Office. What does your ideal doctor’s office look like? Spend some time thinking about your expectations and start advocating for them right away. Do you want an office that is clean and organized? Do you prefer your office to have a dedicated wait space that is well maintained? Are the chairs easy to get in and out of? By evaluating the importance of these items, you’ll have a better idea of your expectations and how to seek them out.

Staff. During an ideal medical appointment, think about how you’d expect to be treated by the office staff. Are they friendly and attentive? Do they put in extra effort to explain your billing questions and professionally address your concerns? If you’re dissatisfied with the way you’re treated, mention it to your doctor. Ultimately, they’re in charge of your experience.

Practitioners. While all aspects of a medical appointment are important, it’s crucial to evaluate the expectations you have for your practitioner. What values are important for you? Is a certain amount of time with the provider an expectation? By clarifying what qualities are non-negotiable — to yourself and your provider — you’ll know when you’ve found an ideal doctor-patient relationship.

What to Do Before Your Appointment
Preparation is part of being an advocate for your health. The more prepared you are for your appointment or medical event, the more confident you’ll feel. Here are a few things you can do to get prepared:
Research your provider
Learn about your provider, especially if it’s your first time. Do an online search about them. Ask friends if they have a provider they trust and would recommend, or call the provider’s office and ask for some additional information.
Guide the conversation
If there’s certain information you want your practitioner to know before your appointment, you can always disclose any additional information when scheduling the visit. For example, if you’re overweight and you would prefer not to discuss this topic, the staff can make a note of this and share it with the healthcare provider.
Keep track of your symptoms
If you’re seeing a practitioner for a specific reason, keep track of your symptoms or whatever might be bothering you. This can help speed up the diagnosis process and help you get the right treatment quickly.

Advocating for Health at Maplewood Senior Living
Protecting the health and well-being of our residents is our priority at Maplewood Senior Living. Our communities offer high-quality care that is patient-centered and customized to meet the needs of each individual. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or schedule a tour, please contact us. It’s a smart step toward becoming your own health advocate.

Dancing, Music and the Brain

As we age, our bodies undergo a variety of physical changes, which can make exercise and physical activity difficult.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of adults over 50 years old have reported being inactive. Although inactivity increases with age, the need for physical exercise is crucial, especially for older adults. Inactivity can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression and increases the risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week for older adults, which has been shown to reduce the risk of certain illnesses and improve overall wellbeing.
Although exercise can be intimidating, especially for newcomers, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Exercising can be fun. Many older adults achieve their physical activity goals through dance, reaping its many physical and mental benefits along the way.

Benefits of Dancing for Older Adults

An article published in the National Library of Medicine confirms that “dance, regardless of its style, can significantly improve muscular strength, endurance, balance, and other aspects of functional fitness.” While dancing might seem like a simple activity, it requires both the brain and the body to work together, improving our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing in the following ways:

Improves Cardiovascular Health– When we participate in cardiovascular exercises, like dancing, our hearts become stronger and work more efficiently. When done consistently, dancing can help to decrease our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Improves Balance and Strength– Falling is the leading cause of injury in older adults. While the risk of falling can’t be completely avoided, dancing can help decrease the risk of fall-related injuries. Dance requires strong core muscles and involves rotational movement, which can help improve balance.
Strengthens Brain Function-Some research suggests that dancing can help strengthen the area of the brain responsible for controlling memory. One study suggests that dancing can even prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Dancing also requires the synchronization of both the body and brain. Dancers are constantly recalling steps and patterns, while also performing the movements.
Boosts Mood– Movement can be a form of self-expression, which is especially helpful for those suffering from stress and anxiety. While we dance, our bodies also release endorphins, which act as natural mood boosters in our bodies.
Encourages Socialization– Older adults are at greater risk of loneliness and isolation, especially when they live alone. Loneliness can have a profound negative impact on cognitive skills and physical health when left untreated for long periods. Dancing classes encourage socialization and provide a great opportunity to meet those with similar interests.
Improves Confidence and Self-esteem-Every time we learn a new step or dance routine, we increase our self-esteem, which can be translated into different aspects of our lives.

Music and the Brain

What’s dancing without music? While dancing has many benefits, so does the music that accompanies it. Research has shown that music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, while also improving our sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. While many scientists are still studying music and its effect on the brain, experts agree that music sends out vibrations that enter into our ear canal and transmit electrical signals into the brain stem, where we process what we know to be music. As researchers work to understand exactly what happens in our brains as we listen to music, there are proven benefits that have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing.

Together, music and the act of dancing can stimulate the brain and body, encouraging overall health in many different ways. Music is proven to help with memory, especially in those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Depending on your loved one, music can provoke memories from the past and help boost verbal memory.

In addition to improving memory, music can improve one’s quality of sleep, diminish pain, increase mobility, and improve cognitive skills. Research shows that those who are in the process of recovering from brain injuries can often recover more quickly when music is a part of the rehabilitation process. Music, along with the movement of dance, has also been shown to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

5 Different Types of Dancing

If you’re interested in dancing, but don’t know where to start, you can always play your favorite songs and dance alone. For those who prefer structure, a guided dance class might be a better fit. Here are a few styles of dancing that can be adapted to fit different skill levels. Remember to always consult your doctor before participating in new exercise activities especially for those who have health concerns.

  • Ballroom dancing is a great social opportunity for seniors since it requires a partner. But, don’t let this stop you! You don’t always need to come with a partner, as many classes will pair you with another student. There are many different types of ballroom dances such as foxtrot, waltz, rumba, and swing. All of these varieties will help build strength while promoting balance.
  • Line dancing is perfect for those who want guidance yet prefer to dance without a partner. Most line dances include choreography taught by a teacher to western or country music.
  • Tap dance will help build strength, balance, and endurance through its quick movements and transitions.
  • Zumba is a workout class that looks like a dance party! The objective of Zumba is to increase the heart rate while having fun dancing to music. A Zumba teacher will guide you through low-impact movements and can adapt movements for you if necessary.
  • Ballet classes might seem intimidating but can be adapted to fit your needs. A popular form of ballet exercise, called Barre, incorporates a ballet bar into each movement, helping you improve balance while decreasing your risk of injury.

Dancing at Maplewood Senior Living Communities

Our residents at Maplewood Senior Living Communities love to dance! Many residents have been dancing with Temi, a personal robot who can do anything from play music and check the weather, to serving as your dance partner. At Maplewood, we believe anyone can dance, no matter their skill or ability level. To learn more about our offerings, 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.

How to Communicate with People Who Have Dementia

Dementia is a progressive illness. It affects how the brain functions and leads to memory loss and other cognitive problems. Dementia can ultimately affect one’s ability to speak and communicate with others. All this can leave those in the family or social orbit of the sufferer at a loss as to how to communicate to people with dementia.

In some stages of dementia, it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience difficulty recalling words or focusing during a conversation. As the disease progresses, many individuals rely on other forms of communication, such as hand gestures and some vocal sounds. While nearly 50 million individuals suffer from dementia worldwide, many caregivers still struggle with how to communicate with someone with dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, these are common effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia on the ability to communicate:

  • Losing a train of thought when speaking
  • Having difficulty understanding what words mean
  • Not paying attention during long conversations

Communication During Stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, communication can look very different during each stage of the disease. As your loved one progresses through the disease, keep these communication tips in mind:

Early Stage
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, an individual will be able to participate in conversations and engage in normal social activities. However, the sufferer may notice some difficulties with word recall and be overwhelmed by excessive stimulation. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important not to make assumptions about the person’s ability to communicate because of a diagnosis. Instead, take time to listen and engage with the person, giving them the time they need to respond. At this stage, it’s appropriate to discuss which method of communication is most comfortable for them, such as face-to-face conversation, email, or phone calls.
Middle Stage
Moderate Alzheimer’s, or the middle stage of the disease, is the longest and can last for many years. As the disease progresses, communicating can get more challenging. It’s most important to engage with the person in one-on-one conversations while limiting distractions. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly while maintaining eye contact and physical touch, if appropriate. Be patient and give the individual plenty of time to respond.
Late Stage
In this stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, an individual may fully rely on nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions, touch, and vocal sounds. When you’re communicating with a person in late-stage dementia, always approach the person from the front (Alzheimer’s can reduce a person’s peripheral vision). Identify yourself by name and relationship. Use touch, sight, and sounds as methods to communicate with people with dementia.

Phrases to Avoid
While the stages of dementia are good markers for when communication skills may decline, each individual is different. However, the words other people use to communicate to a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can influence how successful the connection is. Practicing good communication techniques can help our loved ones feel heard and live well. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, these are a few phrases to avoid in conversation:

  • “Remember when?” This phrase can often evoke feelings of frustration, even if it’s meant to be encouraging and helpful. While talking about the past can bring up wonderful memories, try leading with a different phrase such as, “I remember when…” This way, your loved one won’t feel embarrassed if they can’t remember, or can join in on the conversation if they recall the memory.
  • “I’ve just told you that.” It’s normal to feel frustrated when a loved one has difficulty remembering words or thoughts you’ve just said. However, the most important part of communicating with someone suffering from dementia is to have patience and compassion. While it can be tempting to use this phrase, think about some tools that might help you when you’re feeling frustrated.
  • “What did you do this morning?” Open-ended questions can become challenging to answer as the individual moves through the stages of dementia. Instead, focus on the present situation as a conversation starter. One of the most common concerns is whether your loved one is eating well. Don’t ask, “Did you have breakfast this morning?” Stay in the present and ask, “Are you hungry now?”

Tips for Communicating
How you communicate with a person with dementia will change. However, your communication and connection don’t have to be less effective. As you learn to change the way you communicate based on your loved one’s needs, consider using these simple tips:
Be attentive — Your loved one may need time to recall words as they speak, especially in the middle and late stages of the disease. A good communicator will show they’re listening by using eye contact and friendly facial expressions.
Prioritize clarity — It’s important to speak clearly and avoid slurring words or mumbling when you’re speaking to someone with dementia. In addition, try to keep your hands away from your face when having a conversation. This can help your loved one understand what you’re saying and know how to respond.
Rephrase — It can be tempting to repeat what you’ve said if your loved one isn’t understanding. However, experts agree the best thing is to rephrase what you’re trying to communicate, using different words or gestures.
Offer choices — If your loved one begins to resist a basic daily task, like eating or showering, consider providing options to inspire a sense of independence. For example, you could say, “Would you like to eat now or after we take a walk?”
Avoid arguing — If your loved one says something you disagree with, avoid arguing with them. Instead, you might redirect the course of the conversation.

Providing Care at Maplewood Senior Living
Living with dementia or caring for someone who has it is difficult and almost always requires help. In addition to providing assistance with daily activities, Maplewood Senior Living communities offer support groups for both the individual and the caregiver to help navigate life after a diagnosis. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Osteoporosis- How to Improve Bone Health

It’s not uncommon for older adults to feel a bit weaker than they used to in their younger years. However, maintaining bone health and muscle strength becomes increasingly important as we age. Keeping our bones healthy is vital to our overall well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, “bones play many roles in the body by providing structure, protecting our organs, anchoring our muscles, and storing calcium.” While all people should monitor their bone health, it’s especially important for older adults as bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, are more prevalent in adults over the age of 65.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis literally means “porous bone”.  Healthy bones look like honeycomb but as they age the spaces get bigger causing bones to become more brittle.

Our bodies naturally change. Our bones are continuously breaking down and rebuilding. By the time we reach the age of 30, the rate at which our bones rebuild decreases. When older adults have low bone mass, they are more at risk of osteoporosis. People who are diagnosed with osteoporosis easily break their bones, especially in their wrist, spine, and hip. Unfortunately, a broken bone is often the first sign of the disease. While we are all at risk of osteoporosis to some degree, certain factors increase the risk of developing the disease.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

According to the National Institutes of Health, many risk factors play a part in developing osteoporosis. Here are some of the most common factors that we can’t control:

• Age- As we get older, our chances of developing osteoporosis increase. Women should get screened for the disease at age 65 and men at age 70.
• Gender-Women are at greater risk of developing the disease when compared to men. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that women are more at risk of osteoporosis because they are likely to have smaller bones than men. The hormone estrogen, which protects bones, decreases when women go through menopause and can cause bone loss.
• Ethnicity- Women who are white or of Asian descent are statistically more at risk of the disease.
• Family history- If your family has a strong history of broken bones, or if a family member has been diagnosed with the disease, you are at a greater risk of developing the disease yourself.

Fortunately, there are some risk factors that we can control. When the proper steps are taken to address these risk factors, they become less of an issue.

• Diet- Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies have been linked to osteoporosis.
• Physical activity- Those who are inactive for longer periods are likely to have weaker bones than those who exercise.
• Body size- Those with a body mass index (BMI) of 19 or less are at risk of developing the disease because bone mass is likely to be too low.
• Eating disorders- People who have struggled with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are likely to have impacted their bone mass without fueling themselves properly. Diseases such as Crohn’s, celiac, and Cushing’s can impact the body’s ability to absorb calcium, affecting our bone density.

5 Ways to Improve Bone Health

Whether you’re looking to prevent osteoporosis or strengthen your bones after a diagnosis, there are many different ways to improve and maintain bone health. Here are a few recommendations made by the National Institutes of Health.

1. Physical activity
Exercise is important for our overall health, not just our bones. However, consistent daily exercise can help improve bone strength and decrease our risk of osteoporosis. Certain exercises such as weight lifting and strength training focus on bone strength and can improve our exercise performance. The next time you go to exercise you might consider walking, climbing stairs or dancing.

2. Prevent falls
Falling is the leading cause of injury in older adults. Falls can be especially harmful to those with osteoporosis. However, most falls can be prevented by clearing hallways, installing good lighting, and removing other fall risks in the home.

3. Consult with a doctor
If you’re at high risk of osteoporosis or are concerned with developing the disease, you might consider making an appointment with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can give you a bone density test and prescribe medicine if needed.

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Overall health will help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Limiting your alcohol and tobacco consumption will help protect your bone mass along with other healthy habits like a healthy diet.

5. Eat a well-balanced diet
Just like exercise, maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to our overall wellbeing, especially as we age. Certain foods can help prevent bone loss and ultimately reduce our risk of osteoporosis. There are also certain foods to increase bone density that you should include in your everyday diet.

Foods that Help Prevent Osteoporosis

While eating a well-balanced diet and focusing on fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help our bodies get the nutrients they need, there are some foods and food groups that have been linked to bone health:

• Calcium: This mineral is primarily responsible for maintaining our bone health as well as supporting our heart and nerves. Unknowingly, many people suffer from calcium deficiency. You can add more calcium to your diet by consuming dairy products, green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale, fish, nuts, and enriched foods.
• Vitamin D: This vitamin is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Most of our vitamin D intake comes from getting exposure to the sun’s UV rays, however, it can also be found in food. Salmon, swordfish, tuna, orange juice, milk, and egg yolks are all high in vitamin D.
• Protein: Many older adults struggle to consume enough protein, which is vital for bone strength. Protein is found in meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, and beans.

Protecting Bone Health at Maplewood Senior Living

Helping our residents live healthy lives is our number one priority at Maplewood Senior Living. Our team of dedicated foodservice professionals uses their experience and knowledge to provide a variety of meals that promote wellness and healing. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.