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.

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!

Latest Technology Trends for Seniors

With 10,000 individuals turning 65 each day, economists and researchers have coined this phenomenon the “silver tsunami.” With this wave of individuals entering into retirement, experts predict our economy will be affected in several ways, especially in our healthcare system and the senior living industry. As we age, it’s common to have to manage one or more chronic conditions, potentially overwhelming the accessibility to senior healthcare resources. To help bridge this gap between supply and demand, many older adults are following technology trends that allow them to manage their health conditions and stay independent for longer.

Today’s seniors are more comfortable with technology. Meanwhile, “smart” products are becoming more user-friendly. Today, voice activation technology, GPS, Bluetooth, cellular connectivity via mobile phones, smartphone monitoring apps, and sophisticated computers all contribute to the technology trend of conveniently connecting seniors to their families, care providers, and vendors of life’s necessities. Food, clothing, transportation, and just about anything else can be procured with a few clicks or with a verbal order to a smart speaker.

Benefits of Technology for Seniors
More than ever, tech trends are changing the way we interact with our health, maintain relationships and engage with the world around us. While keeping up with evolving technology can seem difficult, especially as we age, research shows tech for seniors is more common than ever, and older adults are eager to engage with the newest products. In addition to helping adults stay independent for longer, using technology has many health benefits.
Socialization
Older adults are at an increased risk of loneliness and social isolation. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that more than one-fourth of adults age 65 and older are socially isolated. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention suggests that long-term social isolation can significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death, dementia, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Many older adults are looking to technology to help combat social isolation and prevent its serious long-term effects. A study conducted by The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that “using the internet is associated with lower depression and loneliness and higher levels of social support, life satisfaction, purpose in life, and social capital.” In this same study, seniors reported using technology to prevent feelings of loneliness and found that using the internet decreased feelings of social isolation and promoted connection.
Today, it’s easy to communicate through modern technology. Tablets and smartphones allow us to see and talk to others while making them accessible for older adults with low vision or hearing loss.
Safety
It’s normal for families to worry about the safety of their older loved ones, especially if they live far away. Technology has helped ease this concern by providing security features such as monitoring a person’s movement, sleep, location, and care patterns. Some devices can even send an alert to emergency medical professionals with the push of a button.
Entertainment
Technology trends always lead toward new entertainment options. Today, some of these options are specifically designed for older adults. Smart devices can provide online exercise classes, games, movies, and experiences that allow older adults to engage with others in the comfort of their own homes. Smart devices can also enhance traditional hobbies by making them more accessible to those with specific health needs. For example, those with low vision can enlarge the font when reading a book on a tablet, and those with hearing loss can connect their devices to their hearing aids, making it easier to talk on the phone or listen to a podcast.
Exercise and health tracking
Maintaining your physical health is important at any age, but especially for older adults. Senior health tracking tools and apps can help track important health information such as level of activity, medication schedules, medical history, health conditions, and important numbers. Devices can also be used to help promote daily exercise by counting steps and sending reminders when it’s time to move.

A Few Recommended Tech Products for Seniors
Technology is constantly evolving to meet the needs of seniors, their families, and caregivers. Smart devices can help manage the everyday needs of seniors such as entertainment, socialization, and medical attention. Here are a few of the latest tech trends for older adults. As evidence of their benefits, some of the products below are used throughout Maplewood Senior Living communities:

Alexa Care Hub. By now we’re all familiar with Amazon’s Alexa, a virtual assistant AI technology that responds to voice commands. Alexa can be used to manage your calendar, connect to your phone, control your light switches, and even play games. But now, Alexa can also keep you connected to those who keep you safe. According to Business Insider, the Care Hub is a feature available in all Alexa-enabled devices that lets family members and caregivers stay in contact with anyone who needs extra care and monitoring. By using the Care Hub, alerts can be sent to a caregiver or family member’s phone to notify when a loved one has used their Alexa or if they’ve been absent for long periods of time. This feature also allows an individual to “call for help,” by notifying an emergency contact.
Rendever Virtual Reality. Rendever is overcoming social isolation through the power of virtual reality and shared experiences. Virtual reality, which has gained traction with older adults, has been used within senior living communities to increase social engagement, improve medical care, and provide risk-free adventure and stimulation for seniors. Virtual reality provides the opportunity to revisit the past, explore new places, and connect with others through specially curated experiences that use sight and sound to engage the mind.
Eversound. Eversound wireless technology is designed to help those with hearing loss connect with those around them more easily. Headphones are connected to an audio source to break down communication barriers, enhance group communication, and better connect with those around them. Retirement communities, like those in the Maplewood Senior Living family, utilize this technology to enhance resident tours and group programs such as book clubs and exercise classes.
Temi Robot. The pinnacle of personal assistance? Some experts suggest assistive robots will be the next tech trend for seniors. The Temi robot, for example, is designed with older adults in mind. This self-perambulating companion can help with medication reminders, calendar-keeping, alerting medical professionals in case of an emergency, displaying telehealth appointments, and playing interactive videos. It’s pricey today, but who knows — one day we might all have a personal robot to help us manage our lives.

Utilizing the Power of Technology at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, technology is one component we use to provide seniors with a high quality of life. By vetting and appropriately embracing the most beneficial tech products, residents at every level of living more fully enjoy a life of wellness, social happiness, and safety. It’s good for residents and their families. To learn more about living well in a Maplewood Senior Living community, contact us here. 

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 Balance Being a Caregiver and a Spouse

As we age, there is an increased risk of developing a disabling chronic condition, which often leads half of a married couple to become a spouse-caregiver. According to the National Institute on Aging, 79% of people age 70 and older have at least one of seven chronic conditions, including, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and cancer. The risk of developing other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or another form of, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, also increases with age. As these conditions and diseases progress, many people will begin to need assistance with basic daily tasks. For married couples, this usually means one person will become a caregiver to a spouse. A report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that one in 10 caregivers is a married person who looks after their spouse. While caregiving can be rewarding for many individuals, it can also be stressful. According to the American Psychological Association, spouse caregivers experience a 23% higher level of stress hormones, which affects their health and their close relationships. It’s not uncommon for marriages to flounder as roles and responsibilities often change. This change, compounded with the stress of disease, can be overwhelming.

Challenges of Spousal Caregiving
Learning how to take on the role of being a spouse caregiver can take some practice. The Family Caregiver Alliance compiled some of the most common challenges for individuals who are caregivers for their husband or wife. Here are a few things you might expect to experience when caring for your spouse:
Emotional impact
Caregiving can be emotionally draining even when done professionally. Caregiving for a spouse brings additional layers of emotional distress, which can lead to mental and emotional exhaustion. It’s common for people patients who experience diseases that affect their quality of life to experience depression. However, studies have suggested that caregivers who attend to a spouse are as equally at much risk of depression as their loved one suffering from a debilitating illness.

Physical challenges
Caregiving is a physically demanding role. It can include lifting an individual for bathing and dressing and engaging in more physical activity like walking and standing. This can put a strain on the physical health of a spouse caregiver, especially as they age. In addition, long-term stress and anxiety, which are common in caregivers, can lead to poor quality sleep, increased blood pressure, and unhealthy affect eating habits.

Changes in intimacy
While all marriages experience changes in intimacy at one point or another, a shift in roles — from an established partnership to spouse caregiver, and patient — can influence these changes. Sexual intimacy can also change when a relationship of mutual responsibility becomes more one-sided. Stress, physical challenges, and fatigue that comes from caregiving can cause a loss of sexual interest. However, physical touch and emotional support remain crucial to any healthy relationship.

Loss of balance
Disease and illness can influence every decision within a family structure. As roles within the marriage shift and one takes on new responsibilities, that balance can feel uneven. Juggling friendships and individual interests on top of caregiving can be an added challenge.

Tips for Creating Balance
Becoming a spouse caregiver can create strain in any marriage. However, there are ways to manage these situations. If you’re a caregiver to a spouse, you might consider using these tactics to help you navigate any difficult or challenging situation:

  • Prepare for change. An illness or diagnosis can put pressure and stress on a relationship, especially in a marriage. Once you receive a diagnosis, it’s important to have an honest conversation with your spouse about your future. This is a conversation that can be revisited whenever the situation changes or when new problems need to be addressed. The sooner you can have a conversation about how the relationship is changing, the sooner you’ll be able to identify solutions that work best for both individuals.
  • Reassess your roles. Responsibilities within the marriage may evolve by necessity, as one person’s abilities diminish. It’s best to review household responsibilities and determine which spouse will be responsible for each task. While these may need to be readdressed throughout the progression of the disease, it’s a good place to start.
  • Separate caregiving from being a spouse. Caregiving is a full-time job, but when you’re a caregiver to a spouse, there need to be boundaries. This might mean setting times during the day where the discussion is not about medical issues. Making time to do enjoyable activities together can also help bring friendship and emotional intimacy back into the relationship.
  • Seek support. Becoming a spouse caregiver is a life-changing event that may require professional support. Both individual and couples counseling can provide the tools necessary to manage stress and promote growth and happiness.
  • Avoid isolation. Caregivers are at an increased risk of isolation and depression. This becomes an added risk if the patient-loved one is homebound. To avoid caregiver loneliness, exhaustion, and caregiver burnout, join support groups, schedule outings and phone calls with friends, and make time for yourself.
  • Create joy. While your life and marriage might feel different than they used to, it’s important to find and create joy, both individually and within your marriage. Whenever possible, create time for fun.
  • Create a care plan. Having a plan can help reduce feelings of stress and ensure that both spouses have the same expectations in terms of treatment and responsibilities. This might include discussing a move to an assisted living community or scheduling respite care to support the caregiver.

Spousal Caregiving at Maplewood Senior Living
Maplewood Senior Living communities offer additional support for spouse caregivers. Access to 24-hour medical care, support groups, and dining help relieve some of the burdens on caregivers and give couples time to spend together. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Get Creative: Why Arts and Crafts are Good for You as You Age

It’s common knowledge that creating healthy habits like eating a well-balanced diet and exercising consistently can help you live longer and age more successfully. However, researchers are suggesting that strengthening our creative muscles can also help improve the health, well-being, and independence of older adults. Some experts believe that crafts for seniors and other leisure activities can reduce the chance of developing cognitive impairment by up to 50%. According to the National Institute on Aging, researchers are studying how participating in arts activities may be linked to improving self-esteem and well-being. In addition, experts are also interested in studying how music can be used to reduce the behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as stress, aggression, agitation, and apathy.

Benefits of Crafting for Older Adults
Activities such as drawing and journaling can feel rewarding and challenging, and they lower stress levels. Many forms of art therapy and crafts for seniors, such as painting, model-building, pottery, scrapbooking, and other creative activities are used in therapeutic settings to encourage communication and empathy. Group creative settings help us and others understand our emotions. Crafting is more than a hobby used to fill time. Engaging in arts and crafts has several benefits for older adults.

Helps boost self-esteem
Crafting requires concentration and consistency, especially when working on a long-term project. At the completion of any project, the effort put into creating something from nothing produces a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Enhances fine motor skills
Manipulating tools and materials promote blood flow through the body, especially in the fingers, hands, and arms. So arts and crafts for seniors can help reduce joint pain, especially rheumatoid arthritis, which is common in older adults. These activities can also ease emotional stress, which can take the form of pain in the body.

Encourages communication
To use a simple definition, art is the expression of ideas and thoughts in visual form. Capturing our emotions through art can help us work through our feelings and allow us to communicate better with others. Arts and crafts for seniors can be especially helpful, even therapeutic, for those struggling with depression or the loss of a loved one.

Increases empathy
Just looking at art can help improve our critical thinking skills and create joy. Observing other people’s art can help us understand other’s ideas and feelings, respect differing opinions, and view the world in ways we may not have considered. When we embrace art, we increase our ability to empathize with others.

Improves mood
When we do something pleasurable or satisfying, our brain releases dopamine which acts as a natural anti-depressant. Whether we’re creating something from nothing or learning how to work with our hands, dopamine is released and protects us from feelings of depression.

Promotes socialization
Untreated isolation and loneliness can cause serious health problems in older adults, including cognitive decline and depression. However, arts and crafts for seniors provide an opportunity to engage with others, especially if you join a crafting group or club that meets consistently. Socialization, along with exercising your creativity, can help enrich your quality of life.

Acts as a form of therapy
As we age, communicating our thoughts and feelings can become difficult, especially if diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Thus, finding new ways of communication becomes increasingly important with age. Participating in easy crafts is a wonderful way to practice self-expression when traditional communication becomes more difficult.

Protects against neurological decline often associated with age.
Crafting activates several different areas of the brain, which ultimately strengthens memory, processing, and problem-solving abilities. When we put ourselves into a stimulating environment, it increases our brain’s ability to become flexible and adaptable.

Arts and Crafts for Older Adults
Experimenting with arts and crafts for seniors is a great way to socialize, strengthen creative muscles, and reap the many health benefits of creativity. We’ve compiled a list of crafting ideas for every skill level and ability:

  • For those with limited dexterity
    Older adults with dexterity issues or arthritis might find it difficult to grab objects and control them. In this case, you might consider starting with the following easy craft ideas:
  • Polymer clay. Working with clay is relaxing and engaging, and it’s ideal for those with limited dexterity. Polymer clay can be used to make jewelry, patterns, and beads.
  • Photography. Taking pictures is a great hobby for any person, but can be especially fun and engaging for older adults. Consider using a digital camera, iPad, or another smart device to take pictures, and then print out photos to make a collage or decorate cards for loved ones.
  • Decoupage. This activity allows you to take a normal household item, like a shoebox or food container, and turn it into a work of art. You can use whatever you have at home, such as wrapping paper, scraps of fabric, or other items, to make it unique and playful. By using your hands to cut and place small items, you can improve your fine motor skills.

For those with low vision
Creativity is still possible with limited vision. Pottery is a great way to get creative and can promote stimulation by working with your thumbs and fingers. Painting is also a great way to express your mood without relying on vision. You might consider starting with a large canvas and a few colors to get started.

For those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia
Staying physically and mentally engaged is important for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Easy activities with simple and concise instructions are ideal. Here are a few activities to get you started:

  • Arranging flowers is a perfect craft for adults who may have enjoyed gardening or who love the outdoors.
  • Decorating cards for loved ones is a creative way to stay in touch with family and friends while expressing one’s inner artist.
  • Creating homemade shakers is an easy way to join in on musical fun. Simply fill empty water bottles with dry beans, so you can shake along to the beat while listening to music.

Getting Creative at Maplewood Senior Living
Residents at Maplewood Senior Living have many opportunities to engage their creative side. From art and weaving classes to rock painting and holiday craft-making, those who live in our communities can reap the many health benefits of crafting. 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.