Category Archives: Seniors

Senior Rules for a Safe and Happy Summer

Of course, the seniors to which I refer in the title are those of the “well-aged” variety rather than those who are about to enter their last year of high school or college.  As discussed in too much detail in my last post, summer in the northern hemisphere begins in the wee hours of the morning on June 21 and it is, by all accounts, the most joyous of seasons for most.  However, summer can pose a few heat-related dangers, especially for seniors.

As we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating body temperature.  That’s why many older people tend to enjoy being in a warmer climate than younger folks.  As anecdotal evidence, I refer you, once again, to Seinfeld.  In episode three of season three (“The Pen”), Elaine is forced to beg Jerry’s elderly parents to turn on the air conditioning in their Florida condo as the previous night she complained to Jerry, “I’m sweating here.  I’m in bed…sweating.”

The next day, Jerry’s mom relents, but isn’t even sure she knows how to work the air conditioning.  As a result of this lessened ability to regulate temperature, many seniors fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion.  So here are a few tips to keep in mind as the mercury (I figure most people reading this post can remember mercury thermometers) begins to rise this summer.

  • Use the frickin’ air conditioning if you have it. Electric bill be damned.  If you don’t have A/C, then on extremely hot and humid days go someplace that has it and isn’t afraid to crank it.  It matters not where you go…a friend’s place, the mall, a museum, the movies, a library are all good choices.  You’ll be amazed what a few hours out of the heat can do for your overworked body.
  • Avoid too much time in the sun especially if you’re engaged in strenuous activity like yard work or exercise. And if you’re just lounging in the glorious sun, don’t forget to slather on plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 759, or those cool, box-like sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  • Get the heat out of a hot kitchen, or if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…choose whatever cliché you like, just avoid cooking on hot days and simply pop a delicious meal from MagicKitchen.com into the microwave machine which generates no heat at all. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to keep a few MagicKitchen.com meals in your freezer for those scorchers that you know are coming if they haven’t arrived already.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate BEFORE you get thirsty, because if you wait until the thirst arrives, you’re already dehydrated. And try to avoid “hydrating’ with alcohol or caffeinated drinks as they work as diuretics and serve to hasten dehydration.
  • Don’t just drink cool water, get in some, whether it’s a cool bath, shower, lake, pool, ocean, river…whatever. The cool water will help cool your blood which circulates throughout your body.  Another quick cooling off method is to run cold water over the inside of your wrists.  This area has a large number of blood vessels that run close to the surface and that cold water will cool all that blood as it circulates through your body.
  • Communicate often with friends and family to let them know you’re doing fine and staying cool on hot days. Use whatever method you, and they, are comfortable with, telephone, cell phone, Twitter, Snapchat…you get that idea.
  • Watch the humidity level. I’ve heard Arizona is hot, but it’s a dry heat.  That, however, is not the case in many places within our country.  High humidity levels are dangerous to us due to the fact that it causes our body’s cooling mechanism, sweating, not to work effectively.  The reason we perspire is to send liquid to the surface so that it can evaporate, thus, cooling our bodies.  When it’s excessively humid, that sweat on our skin’s surface doesn’t evaporate due to the high-water content in the atmosphere.  As a result, our bodies work harder to try and stay cool, placing more stress on our bodies, primarily on the heart.  So when the humidity’s up, keep your activity level down.

I’m not implying that you should cloister yourself in an air conditioned room for the entire summer.  I’m just giving you the same warning that Sergeant Esterhaus gave his officers after briefings on Hill Street Blues, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”

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Home Safety Tips for Seniors

It’s just a fact of life: as we age we become less, shall we say…agile, nimble, sprightly, dexterous…choose any synonym for quick and spry you like, we simply don’t move the way we used to.  We also develop certain ailments that require certain medications and if we continue to live independently as we reach our “senior” years, certain accommodations must be made to these simple facts of life.  As I continually tell my kids, “Getting old generally sucks, but you can make some minor adjustments to make it suck less.”

Let’s just accept the fact that accommodations must be made for our continued seniorly independence and those accommodations must be made for the sake of safety.  Given that the number one cause of injuries among seniors is from falls (falls are also the number one cause of fatal injuries), the following tips will focus on how to avoid them.  Simply stated, do whatever you need to do to avoid falls within and without your home. The other area of concern for seniors is that of medicine and ensuring that they take the proper amount…think Goldilocks here, neither too much nor too little, but the proper amount.

Tips to “fall-proof” your home

  • Add rails and grab bars where needed. The two main problem areas here are stairs and the bathroom.  Yes, this will probably require the assistance of either a contractor or someone with carpentry skills, but isn’t your safety worth it?  Along stairways, both interior and exterior, handrails should line both sides and both should be used, especially when descending.  In the bathroom, rails should be added in and around the tub/shower and around the toilet to prevent slipping and to assist with sitting and standing.
  • Remove excess clutter throughout the home. “Clutter,” in this instance, refers to anything that could be a tripping hazard and can include shoes (while not on your feet), magazines, pet toys, books, clothes, and trash in any form.  “Everything has a place and there’s a place for everything,” as my dad is still fond of telling me when I leave one of his tools in a place other than where it’s supposed to be.  It’s simple.  Keep your floors free from junk and you’ll greatly improve your odds of staying upright.
  • Watch those throw rugs and floor surfaces. Ensure that all rugs are properly secured to the floor to prevent them slipping from underfoot and avoid the use of slippery cleaning solutions on hardwood and tile floors.
  • Install non-slip surfaces in the tub and/or shower. Actually, this rule applies to people of all ages, not just seniors.  Water, soap/shampoo and a slick, smooth surface is a recipe for disaster, seriously.  It matters not whether you use simple non-slip strips or cute little fishies and duckies, just put them in place.
  • Light dark/dim places, inside and out. It really, really, really, really, helps if you can see where you’re walking…really.  Replace burned out or dim bulbs throughout your home and add additional lighting if there’s any question regarding proper illumination.  Oh yeah, leave some lights on during the night, especially in the bathroom.
  • Consider wearing a medical alert system with fall detection. Some come GPS equipped to ensure fallen seniors are quickly located and they are relatively inexpensive, usually under $50.

A few more safety tips

  • Create and use a system for your meds. There’s an app(lication) for that.  If you’re comfortable using a smart phone, download a medication reminder app.  It’s the next best thing to a nagging spouse.  Or use a pill box, or a pocket calendar, or link taking your meds to a daily activity (wake up, teeth brushing, eating), or use your friends and family members.  Also, keep an up-to-date list of your current meds, to include name, dosage, number of refills, and strength.
  • If you haven’t already, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. And change the batteries every time you alter the clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated. MagicKitchen.com can sure help you here.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, as we age our nutritional needs change.  Ensure you’re getting the RDA of all essential vitamins and minerals through eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins.  As for hydration, there’s a simple test to determine if you’re properly hydrated.  If you’re urine is clear, you’re good, if it’s eye-blinding neon yellow, you’re dehydrated and need some liquid.

Getting old doesn’t necessarily mean you must give up your independence.  However, there’s no doubt that our bodies change as we age and some accommodations must be made due to this fact…so don’t be a “stubborn old codger,” as my mom likes to call my dad, and make them!

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It’s Spring, Get Outside: 8 Outdoor Activities for Seniors

Have you noticed that the heat is coming on less and less in your home?  If not, just look at your last heating bill.  And in our world of cause and effect, the cause is increased outdoor temperatures and the effect SHOULD be increased outdoor activities on your part.  Outdoor activity is the panacea for cabin fever and you don’t even need to fill a prescription.

Look, I’m sure you’re aware about the benefits of regular physical activity, but what about the benefits of regular “outdoor” physical activity?  Humans have an innate connection and attraction to nature which is referred to as biophilia and too many of us attempt to resist that connection.  Yet another fact: less than 3% of America’s senior population attains the recommended 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, and that can have dangerous consequences.

Some of the benefits of outdoor activity are more obvious than others, such as increased exposure to sunlight which exposes us to vitamin D which improves brain, bone and muscle functions (just beware of overexposure…as with everything else, moderation is best).

However, studies have also shown that regular outdoor activity improves our health and well-being and improves our physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.  So, keeping all this in mind, here are eight outdoor activities we all should do more of:

  1. Tai Chi – Before you think I’m getting all “Karate Kid” on you, let me explain. Yes, tai chi began as a defensive martial art, but it has since evolved into a balletic activity of continuous, gentle movements.  It’s different from yoga in that with yoga you hold a pose (sleeping dog) for a short period of time, while with tai chi, you’re in continuous motion, albeit, at a slow pace.  Locate a “tai chi in the park” group in your area, or simply access the internet machine, learn the basics and head to your backyard.
  1. Search for gold — …with a metal detector. And no, it doesn’t have to be on a beach.  Grab your metal detector and head to the local park or historical site and you’ll be amazed at the objects that are lying around out there.  Here’s am interesting article that offers examples of successful treasure hunts and can help get you started: https://www.wired.com/2011/08/treasure-hunters/
  1. Picnics – Grab your basket, blanket, chicken salad sandwiches, your favorite companions and locate an out-of-the-way picnic spot, preferably on a level, grassy area near a babbling brook. Just ensure that getting to that spot requires some walking to get there.  You’ll be amazed how relaxing this activity is and how the conversation flows when you’re away from a screen.
  1. Yard games – Hit the backyard or park for a rousing round of horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet or badminton. These games are perfect for bringing out the competitor in all of us and can be a great way to reconnect with friends and/or family members.  Side note: I understand the safety aspect, but I truly miss “Jarts,” the yard game that involved plastic circles and metal tipped lawn darts…just sayin’.
  1. Be a tourist – even in your own hometown. Go on a historical walking tour, visit the zoo or botanical gardens or downtown area or local, state, or national parks or Civil War battlefields or any other outdoor place that interests you.
  1. Bird watch – Yeah, I know, I used this one in my fall outdoor activities post, but it’s perhaps even more relevant in the spring as birds become more active as they prepare to bring the next generation of our avian friends into the world. The few birders I know are extremely passionate about their hobby and tend to record just about every aspect of their sightings, to include the species (of course), and when, where, and under what weather conditions the sighting occurred.  This is one of those hobbies that permits various levels of immersion, but its seems to have some addictive qualities, and, in this instance, that’s not a bad thing.
  1. Gardening This activity is perfect for the spring for obvious reasons and there’s nothing more satisfying than eating delicious and healthy food you planted and cultivated yourself. And if you live in an apartment or senior community that does not offer space for this activity, move…just kidding.  There are many places that rent small plots for a nominal fee.
  1. Stroll through a local farmer’s, flea or craft markets – The larger the better. Heck, this one doesn’t even seem like an outdoor exercise, but it most certainly is.  Remember, all that’s required to reap the benefits is getting outside and slightly raising your heart and breathing rate for a moderate period of time, and wandering through a massive flea market in search of hidden treasures certainly qualifies.

One last note, try to do these activities with a group of friends or family members and do so on a regular schedule.  Also, use the group to coerce (or shame) each other to get out there and find that Baltimore Oriole, or practice tai chi like Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro in “The Intern,” or go in search of lost jewelry, or weed the garden, or watch the handlers feed the elephants, or whack that shuttlecock around, or pack that picnic basket.  Hell, just get outside and be active.  You’ll be glad you did.

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A Free EBook for Seniors: Merry Christmas!

walkingparkYeah, I know, age is nothing but a number.  However, my 22-year-old self might not feel the same way about that statement as my 51-year-old self does.  My 22-year-old self never had to get up to pee in the middle of the night (occasionally more than once). He never worried about his continually rising “muffin top”…that roll of fat that sticks out above the waistline of my pants like a muffin top escaping from the muffin pan…and yes, men develop and worry about it as well.  And my 22-year-old version never worried about “over doing it” in any way, shape or form.

Yes, as we age, our bodies change.  There’s no denying that, so stop trying.  However, that does not mean our quality of life must change, at least not yet.  I constantly hear that I shouldn’t fight the aging process and I couldn’t disagree more.  I am of the belief that common-sense resistance to the aging process can extend a meaningful quality of life.  And I think many of the 72.5 million, post World War II baby boomers out there agree with me, especially given the fact that they began turning 65 in 2011 and they will all be over 65 by 2029.

gardeningWith the above in mind, MagicKitchen.com is pleased to offer a free eBook, entitled 10 Tips for Senior Health to visitors of our site (get it here http://www.magickitchen.com/healthy-senior-tips-ebook.html ).  Research consistently reinforces that active seniors, both mentally and physically, have a better quality of life than their sedentary counterparts and this ebook presents 10 easy to follow and apply tips that will help ensure your senior years are your best years.

The first two bits of advice within the book are the ones you repeatedly hear, and there’s a reason for that…they’re essential.  Exercise both your body and your mind and do so on an almost daily basis.  These two tips are linked to several that follow, to include eating right (you’ll be amazed how regular exercise gets you thinking about proper nutrition and MagicKitchen can certainly help in this regard), prevent falls (regular exercise will hone your reflexes and have your muscles ready to prevent an unwelcome accident), travel (this, obviously, involves movement and seeing new places gets you thinking in new ways),  sleep well (be tired at the end of your day, mentally and physically, and sleep improves…Duh!), and focus on the things you’re grateful for (do NOT underestimate the power of positive thinking).

175x130-getstartedThe other three tips deal with health issues…don’t smoke (and if you do, quit!  for all the obvious reasons you’ve heard about), see your doctor regularly (to ensure all is well all the time), take care of your skin (primarily by avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun).

Who knows, after following the advice in this free ebook your 22 year-old-self just might get a bit jealous.

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Holiday Tips for Seniors

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when families come together to spend the Winter Holidays celebrating. In November, we enjoy a huge meal giving thanks for the truly wonderful people and things in our lives.

This is quickly followed by another family gathering complete with gift giving and delicious goodies in abundance. In spite of all the festivities, families can’t always manage to be together due to large distances, financial hindrances, or illnesses. These things certainly don’t mean our friends or families are pushed by the wayside. On the contrary, we tend to go out of our way to make loved ones feel loved, needed, and thought of during these special days.

Some of the most important people need our help the most during the Holiday Season. They are the elderly citizens of our communities. Here are some great tips and gifts for Seniors and their caregivers for the 2016 Holidays.

  1. walkingparkLooking Good, Feeling Good – We all seem to feel better when we look better. This is at any age, but it is especially true for the elderly. Gift certificates for a beauty treatment or to a barber shop can be just what is needed! Having a fresh hair cut or a beautifully coiffed style can put a spring in the step of aging family members.
  2. A Health Evaluation – This is the perfect time to really evaluate the health of your older family members. Some things to consider when determining how safe they are, include – if they are experiencing things such as memory loss or mobility problems, can they take care of themselves (i.e. bathing, eating, drinking, staying warm, etc.), can they take their medicine regularly, if they can safely drive, and how high are their spirits? Keep in mind that sometimes elderly people are reluctant to give any information letting on that they can’t handle daily life like they used to. Look for clues and signs when talking to them.
  3. Take a Load Off – Many miles can really put a strain on you when you’re concerned about your parents or senior friends. Meal time can be especially difficult. A perfect way to pitch in from across the country is by having healthy meals delivered to them. holiday-dinnerThis will enable you to feel like you’ve contributed to an important part of their day. Any meal can be delivered through MagicKitchen.com. There are many choices on the website from specialized dishes for particular dietary needs to comforting soups and delectable desserts. They will be sure to become favorites quickly.
  4. Give Great Gifts – Sometimes it is a challenge deciding what to gift to the mature members of your family or close friends. Perfect options include: meal delivery (see #3), a photo album of memories from the early days of their lives until the present, consider a clock with large numbers for the days when their eyes aren’t at peak performance, warm socks with a non-skid surface on the bottom, a bird feeder can bring many hours of delight…step out of the box and make it a hummingbird feeder.
  5. senior-man-on-laptop-smallThe Greatest Gift of All – This year, why not give the greatest gift of all to those wise, aging people in your life…the gift of your time. It can be something as simple as a phone call or a card you dropped in the mail for those miles away. Make sure to include all preparations for the festivities, as if they were going to be there with you. If these wonderful seniors are going to be joining you for the holidays, include their opinions and allow them to spend the time helping with the decorations or baking. Even if they have physical limitations, engage them in conversation and describe what you are doing. Ask them to tell the stories of their childhood at this time of year. Please, don’t forget to thank them. This will mean the world to them!

As you gather your family together this year, try to create new memories and traditions that all ages can participate in. Make sure to include some where the youngest are making memories with the oldest. These will carry in the hearts of all your loved ones for years to come. It is certainly time for our country to join together to care and love one another.

Wishing you and yours a Happy, Healthy holidays!

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Seniors: Fall is the Best Time to Get Out and Get Active

Guess what’s just around the corner…that’s right, season seven of the Walking Dead and season six of Game of Thrones, but viewing those two blood-spattered shows is an indoor activity and involves little to no physical activity.  No, the autumnal equinox is just around the corner (September 22nd, actually) and that means fall is just around the corner as well.

fall1The autumnal equinox is when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun (same thing occurs in March with the vernal equinox).  It is also the day with almost equal amounts of light and dark and ushers in the season we call fall/autumn.  And it means the temperature begins to moderate permitting outdoor activities without sweating away half your body weight.  So, all you seniors out there that have been enjoying air-conditioned, indoor activities for the past few months, it’s time to get outside, enjoy the cooler temps and get active.

Go for a walk.  But not just any walk.  Turn it into a nature walk, also know as a hike.

group of senior hikers doing outdoor sports

Please don’t simply walk around an idle high school track or your block or housing complex.  Get out into the woods every once-in-a-while and enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells the forest has to offer and take a friend along…or not, there are times when solitude is nice.  Use the internet machine and learn how to identify the local flora and fauna your woods have to offer.  You’ll be amazed by the variety within just a few dozen acres of forest.

And if you’re feeling really adventurous, try a little geocaching…it’s like Pokémon Go! for adults.  Google it and see if it’s for you (you can Google Pokémon Go! as well if you’re curious, but be warned.  It can be as addictive as crack).

Take up bird watching.  Yes, bird watching.  It is certainly linked to the above activity as it birdwatchgets you out into the wild, but there can also be a competitive component involved as well…just watch the 2011 movie “The Big Year,” which stars Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson and you’ll see what I mean (and yes, I was as surprised as you to discover that Hollywood had produced a movie about bird watching, of all things).

Use the help of the Audubon Society or the American Birding Association to get you started identifying the birds in your area by both sight and sound, as the auditory component is perhaps more important than the visual.  Better yet, join a local birding club…you’ll be astounded how many people are involved in this hobby.  Start small and simply identify the birds you see in your neighborhood and then expand your range, walking in search of your avian friends as much as possible.

Become an amateur outdoor/wildlife photographer.  Once again, grab your camera or photogsmart phone (no professionals here), head outside and simply observe.  Snap pics of anything that seems interesting…a dew-soaked spider web, sunlight streaming through the clouds, a small brook meandering through leaves of red and orange, a chipmunk on a log, fog rolling along a forest floor…whatever YOU find appealing.  Remember, you’re just doing this for fun, relaxation, and to get out walking during those glorious autumn days.  And with today’s digital cameras and the storage capacity of home computers, it’s easier than ever to snap and store as many pics as your heart desires.

So did you sense a trend with the suggestions?  Get out of the AC and get into the woods as the temps cool and the leaves turn and discover the calming catharsis that is the forest and wild spaces.

fall3

 

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Amazing, Inspiring Seniors

Aging isn’t for wimps. There’s some pretty tough stuff in the pasts of most senior citizens. When those of us who aren’t already in those Golden Years get there, we too will have gone through tough times. Given those tough times, today’s seniors aren’t taking aging laying down. They are embracing the age and are becoming involved in things the elderly of the past would never have dreamed of doing! They are accomplishing goals and achieving dreams imagined decades ago.

seniors-dancingSenior Citizen “Proms”

You may not be able to turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again!
~Unknown

The month of May has been humming with excitement of the impending prom. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the junior/senior high school prom, but the senior citizen prom! These festive, romantic dances are no longer just for the senior getting ready to graduate and move on to college. Retirement communities in many areas are hosting proms for the local senior citizens. Why shouldn’t they?

Activities such as this are good for both the physical and mental health of the elderly. Even during the Golden Years it is important to maintain a fulfilling social life. Proms are perfect for encouraging new friendships as well as bringing different generations together. Many times the volunteers serving drinks and helping the physically limited seniors are actually high school students! Proms are no longer just a rite of passage for the young…the young at heart have the opportunity to experience this magical time once again.

Back to School

Asenior-schoolnyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~Henry Ford

A lot of senior citizens never had the opportunity to go to college for one reason or another. Right out of high school they entered the workforce or got married without continuing their education. Many are picking up the school books and going to class in person and online. They have discovered since they are now retired that they have time to get their degree.

Not only are they showing amazing strength, but they are also encouraging younger generations at the same time. Going back to school can also revitalize the memory, rouse the cognitive ability, and allow for some great socializing. All of these are vital for improving your quality of life.

Healthy Living

seniors-exercise2You must keep active, or you will just wither away. Always be involved in some activity.
~Miriam Henson

Many people in their 70’s and 80’s are adopting a healthy lifestyle. They are eating clean and exercising regularly. Some are eating vegan and look incredibly young. Fitness has become important and for many, the 70’s and 80’s can possibly be considered the new 50’s!

Working out and lifting weights tones elderly bodies just as it does for the younger generations. Physical activities such as skateboarding and sky-diving aren’t off limits to this age group. One of the most amazing and inspiring senior has to be 104 year old Robert Marchand. He continually gets on his bike and races! He holds the speed record for people his age, riding 100km in 4 hours 17 minutes 27 seconds. Pretty impressive.

gardeningMy Inspiration

Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
~Muhammad Ali

Another inspiring person that has reached the Golden Years happens to be someone I know personally, my Mom. She has had a pretty tough go at things, suffering burns from a house fire in her late 30’s, moving around the country multiple times, and raising two daughters on her own.

In spite of many surgeries and medical issues, she still has the gumption to keep living life to the fullest. She will be 70 this year, and nothing seems to keep her down. She travels to multiple states to visit friends, family, and places she used to dream about. She loves to tend to her garden, growing beautiful fruits and veggies that we all reap the benefits of. None of this sounds extraordinary to begin with, but when you take into consideration her history it’s pretty astounding. I hope to be as active and full of life when I reach her age.

Do you know seniors who amaze you? Let us know!

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Why Isn’t Dad Eating? Senior’s Changing Nutritional Needs

elderly-handsIt is estimated that there are over 3.7 million malnourished seniors living in the United States at the current time and even more with various vitamin deficiencies. The reasons for this are varied and range from loss of appetite due to medications to depression to dental issues.

Whatever the cause, not eating properly as we age can become more serious due to the changing nutritional needs of seniors. Thus, determining exactly why the seniors in your life aren’t eating properly as well as knowing what they SHOULD be eating can go a long way to getting them back on the road to proper nutrition.

lemon-herbsAs we age, we suffer from (among other things) appetite loss due to diminished taste buds and sense of smell. Add to those two causes the side effect of loss of appetite from medication and it’s easy to understand why some seniors have lost the interest they once possessed in food.  One way to combat this is cooking with lemon juice, vinegar and different herbs rather than butter and/or salt. These tastes will often be discerned where more subtle ones won’t.

depressed-senior-manSome seniors tire of cooking for one and eating alone and, therefore, do less of it. Depression, especially after the loss of a loved one, can also cause many seniors to eat less. Finally, dental issues, such as tooth loss and the pain associated with it or ill-fitting dentures can be the reason some seniors avoid eating certain foods.

Now, once you’ve figured out why the senior(s) in your life aren’t eating the way they should, the next task is to determine what they need to be consuming to meet their unique nutritional needs. Generally speaking, a proper diet can aid in preventing or treating heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, constipation and certain forms of cancer.

Essentially, just about everything seniors eat should provide some nutritional value…no empty calories! Of course we all immediately think of fruits and veggies, but there’s one simple rule to remember: when it comes to fruits and veggies think “color.” Yes, color. There’s a reason they come in a variety of hues. Their color is derived from the fact that they’re packed with a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. So don’t just think leafy greens, think yellow peppers, orange carrots, red raspberries, blueberries, red apples, white asparagus, and blackberries. It’s a simple way to ensure seniors get a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

hippocrates

Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com
Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com

Also, seniors need plenty of lean protein, vitamin D and calcium from varied sources such as seafood, poultry, legumes, nuts and fat-free or reduced fat dairy, while avoiding red meats and fried foods. They also require plenty of whole grains (think quinoa, brown rice, popcorn) and fiber (which can be derived from fruits and veggies) and they should stay away from trans and saturated fats as well as sodium. Just remember, when it comes to eating, food consumed by seniors should provide nutritional value. If it doesn’t, they shouldn’t eat it. (Although an occasional piece of dark chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.)

MagicKitchen.com provides Senior Meal Plans and individual senior meals, so if you’re worried about your older parents eating right, visit us.  Order a la carte or see our complete meals. Either one provides good nutrition and great taste, wrapped up in a convenient package.

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A Way to Maintain Independence: Senior Meal Delivery

One item most people seek to maintain as they age stands out among all others and that item is independence.  Many seniors struggle with the notion that they may need looked after in a manner similar to (gasp!) a child and they stubbornly cling to that independence like millennials cling to their smart phones.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!  In fact, family members can assist seniors in preserving their independence by making a few small adjustments within their homes to help them stay there and one of those small “adjustments” can be something as simple as setting up a senior meal delivery system.

Too often, when we think of assisting the seniors in our lives with their independence, we think of making big changes, such as relocating closer to them or relocating them into expensive senior care living facilities (which comes with an average monthly price tag of $6,700).  However, a large research project conducted in Baltimore recently determined that minor changes to the living spaces and routines of seniors can keep them living independently within their homes years longer than expected.  senior-lady-smilingGenerally, these changes were placed into four categories: mobility (think stairs), home maintenance, personal care and cooking…yes, cooking.

The researchers went into the homes of seniors with a budget of $4,000 and found that seniors were able to continue living in their homes longer with the installation of helpful mobility devices such as ramps, a second banister on the stairs, higher toilet seats, lower kitchen counters and cabinets and the ever popular walk-in tub.  They also utilized physical therapists to get the seniors on a regular exercise routine to improve and maintain mobility.  Finally, they recommended that meal preparation be made as easy as possible…hence the title of this blog.

stroganoffMany seniors have lost the manual dexterity (think chopping veggies) to prepare the wholesome and nutritious meals they require.  That being the case, a company that has specialized senior meal delivery capabilities would be an ideal solution to this problem.  Many meal delivery companies, such as MagicKitchen.com, have meals made specifically with seniors in mind, such as low sodium and/or carb, heart-healthy or gluten-free. A freezer and microwave are all that’s required to store and prepare the meals that are delivered to a senior’s home on a regular basis.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy…that’s how a senior seeking to remain as independent as possible is able to prepare a healthy meal…with the aid of a senior meal delivery program of course.

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4 Lifestyle Changes for Seniors That Will Improve Mental Health

Approximately 20% of adults ages 55 and older have some sort of mental health concern, yet nearly 33% of them do not receive treatment. The first step in improving mental health for seniors is recognizing the signs and symptoms and talking with health care providers about diagnoses and treatment plans. Seniors also can take some steps toward improving their mental health, and some of those steps involve making lifestyle changes. Here are four of the best lifestyle changes for seniors that will improve mental health, so they can get started on the right path to better mental wellbeing today.

1. Get More Exercise

seniors-exerciseExercise is known to reduce anxiety and depression in people of all ages, and getting more exercise is one lifestyle change for seniors that will improve their mental health. In fact, getting more exercise helps to improve seniors’ cognitive performance and to reduce memory loss due to age. Exercise has shown to improve seniors’ ability to transition from one task to the next quickly, plan activities, and ignore irrelevant information, Additionally, regular, moderate physical activity helps seniors manage stress and improve their mood, and leads to reduced feelings of depression.

Exercise and physical activity for seniors also improves their mental health in indirect ways. Exercise helps with arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, plus high blood pressure, balance issues, and difficulty walking. These health improvements lead to better health, and seniors who are in better health are at lower risk of depression.

2. Make Diet Changes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeniors’ diets is not just about their waistlines. In fact, research shows that diet affects mental health in positive and negative ways, regardless of age. Seniors who want to improve their mental health should make the lifestyle change to enhance their diet by eating more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables now are associated with better mental well-being, including being more optimistic and happier and having more self-esteem and resilience.

Fresh linguini smothered in a light marina and loaded with baby clams.
Fresh linguini smothered in a light marina and loaded with baby clams. MagicKitchen.com

Reducing the amounts of bad fats in seniors’ diets helps them to reduce the risk for anxiety, impaired memory, repetitive behavior, and brain inflammation. On the other hand, increasing the amount of healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids like those in salmon, helps to battle some forms of depression in seniors.

Finally, seniors should watch their sugar intake. Not only does sugar lead to weight gain and possible food addiction, but it is responsible for higher rates of depression and worse mental health symptoms.

3. Reduce Your Stress Level

Stress affects seniors’ mental health by leading to depression, anger, and irritability. That’s why seniors need to make lifestyle changes that will reduce their level of stress, in order to

Senior Woman Relaxing In Chair At Home With Pet Cat

improve their overall mental health. Reducing stress often involves participating in activities that are fun and relaxing. There are various ways for seniors to change their lifestyle in order to reduce stress, including playing with a pet, reading, meditating, and finding ways to express gratitude.

Other ways to reduce seniors’ stress level to improve mental health include changing their routine and getting out of the house. Many seniors enjoy window shopping and people watching at shopping centers and malls. Others enjoy taking a walk in the park and enjoying time in nature. Still others enjoy gardening, sitting on a porch to enjoy the weather, or going to see funny movies.

4. Actively Maintain a Sense of Purpose

two senior ladies chatting friendly to the parkSeniors who maintain a sense of purpose and have a reason that motivates them to get out of bed in the morning have better mental health. This includes making lifestyle changes such as consistently connecting with friends, family, and interests, or volunteering. There are even special service dogs that can remind seniors that others love them and count on them, resulting in a sense of purpose that makes them feel worthwhile and needed. It also helps to stave off the loneliness that leads to depression. Eating well is important for seniors, to keep their bones healthy, to stay energetic, and to stay heart-healthy.

The key to making lifestyle changes for seniors that will improve mental health is to take better care of themselves and to spend more time doing things that they enjoy and that get them actively involved with others. Seniors don’t need to make all of these adjustments at one time; making a couple of healthy lifestyle changes at a time will set them on the right path toward improving their mental health.

Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created ElderAction.org after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support. Their site offers elder-positive resources and other helpful information on aging. In his spare time, Jim loves fishing, reading, and spending time with his kids.

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