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Senior Activities: 4 Benefits of Staying Active

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Did you make a resolution to be more active in 2017? If you did, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your goals. Depending on your geographic location, chilly weather and dangerous road conditions might be keeping you indoors, or you might just be feeling less than motivated to get up and be active now that the New Year energy has waned.

In the hopes of increasing your motivation to participate in more senior activities all year round, here is a list of four benefits of staying active in your senior years. You might be surprised to see how a little activity can positively affect many facets of your life and health. Here’s to getting involved with senior activities that you love—and new ones to appreciate—this year.

1. Staying Active Decreases Depression

Participating in your favorite senior activities can have significant benefits for your mental health. Besides the extra release of endorphins (the “feel good” chemical your brain sends out when you are physically active), there has been documented research that shows a correspondence between exercise and decreased depression in seniors. In tandem with medication and psychotherapy, consistent exercise of any type can be an effective part of depression treatment in seniors.

2. Staying Active Decreases Falls

Staying active, whether through neighborhood walks or range-of-motion exercises, can lead to a bevy of physical benefits that can lead to decreased falls. Consistent activity can lead to increased strength in the upper and lower extremities, which can make transfers safer and lessen the risk of a fall. Further, sustained exercise can increase endurance, improve balance, develop flexibility, and increase spatial awareness; each of these can work together to decrease the chance of a fall, even when a small trip may occur. With falls as one of the biggest health risks to seniors, you would be wise to decrease your chances by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

3. Staying Active Increases Social Networks

Socialization is extremely important at any phase of life but especially with aging adults. A network of supportive and encouraging peers can lead to a higher quality of life for seniors. If you are able to participate in senior activities that are held in small or large group settings, do so! It is easy to make friends when you already have something in common or are going to see each other at weekly yoga classes. Socialization and friendships have been linked to decreased stress in seniors, along with feelings of belonging. Don’t miss a chance to make a new friend; consider participating in group programs.

4. Staying Active Increases Cognitive Health

Finally, adding exercise routines to your daily life that incorporate memorization or crossing the midline can increase your cognitive health and even slow down the progress of dementia. Activities such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi are excellent examples of cognition-boosting senior activities; don’t worry—you can still participate in these programs from a chair if you aren’t able to stand for the class.

Your favorite activities can keep you busy and provide benefits for all aspects of your life. Resist the temptation to settle in for a long winter’s nap; instead, choose to stay active for your health and happiness. And you just might make a new friend or find a new favorite hobby.



This article was written by Francine O’Neill. She has served as a clinical resource for resident care directors, overseeing ongoing quality improvement programs and regulatory compliance. She assists with identifying and implementing programs that enhance care delivery and service to our residents and their families. Francine has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, serving in both clinical leadership and operations management positions across the continuum of care including assisted living, long term care and acute care. Francine’s favorite traits in others are COMMITTMENT and ACCOUNTABILITY.

It’s Spring…Get Outside! Activities to Enjoy this Spring

By Senior LivingNo Comments
Now that the weather is starting to get warmer and the winter chill is certainly gone, it’s time to get outside and get active! Here are some fun ideas to get active now that Spring has sprung.
  • Gardening! This is undoubtedly one of the best spring activities for seniors. Even if you have some limited mobility, modifications can be made to allow you to participate in many garden activities. Pulling weeds and planting flowers increases your physical activity levels by improving flexibility and endurance. Gardening has mental health benefits, too; it can relax you, reduce your stress and give you a rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
  • Start a daily walking routine. Walking is one of the best exercises for seniors, and spring is the perfect season to head outside and enjoy a walk through the neighborhood or nearby park. If you can, find a buddy to walk with to help make this a social activity you look forward to daily.
  • Start spring cleaning tasks. Did you know clutter can increase your stress levels? It’s true! Getting organized is a great spring cleaning chore, so take a few days and start going through the storage spaces in your home and clearing out some of the items you no longer need on a daily basis. You can even get family members to help and share memories as you go through your belongings. Plus, they can help you make some decisions about what to keep and what to donate, sell or throw away.
  • Enjoy a picnic in the park. Pack a picnic basket with some snacks, grab a blanket and find a grassy area to sit outside and simply bask in the sun to get some much-needed vitamin D (just don’t forget the sunscreen!). Or, enjoy lunch on your favorite patio at your senior living community or local restaurant.
  • Feed the birds. Bird-watching is a stimulating activity many seniors enjoy. Head to a park and feed the ducks and geese some cracked corn, or hang a bird feeder outside your window to enjoy watching them feast right in the comfort of your home.
  • Have fun with the grandkids. Children love being outside, so find some activities you can enjoy together. For instance, kite-flying or drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk.
  • Shop at a local farmer’s market. Spring is a great season to visit farmer’s markets in your area and wander through them, plus you can potentially get some great deals on fruits, vegetables, flowers or crafts.
What senior activities will you enjoy this spring?
Article: Courtesy of American Senior Communities. May 2016.

Assisted Living versus Skilled Nursing

By Senior LivingNo Comments

There are often questions or confusions between assisted living and skilled nursing.  Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two.

A skilled nursing facility is often used after the patient has been in the hospital or had a rapid or quick decline in their health.  Most often, a stay in a skilled facility is usually shorter in term and is really focused on the rehabilitation of the patient. The intention for this patient is to return to the independance they experienced prior to needing the skilled facilities services.  However, for patients that require a higher level of care due to significant medical need or physical impairments; permanent placement is also available.  A skilled nursing facility has more of a hospital feel to it with shared rooms versus a homey feeling in assisted living facilities.

When we hear assisted living, the meaning is in the term itself.  Assisted living is simply providing assistance to individuals who need help with activities of daily living.  These are bathing, dressing, grooming, taking medications, and preparing meals. The help that is provided is one in a setting that is relaxed and homey in feeling.  This assistance is NOT intended to be temporary.  One of the great things about assisted living is the freedoms that remain intact for people to be able enjoy socializing, hobbies and still be able to set all their own schedules without the help of anyone.

What’s Better? Bigger or Smaller Facilities?

By Senior LivingNo Comments

When it comes to choosing and comparing facilities for our loved ones, many ask what is better.  A larger facility that feels like a hotel or a more simple and homier setting.  Regardless of the size, comparing these facilities is a critical step in making sure that the hoe we choose is the best for them and their comfort levels.  It is important to point out that there is more to looking at a home besides comfort.  You need to look at every aspect of the facility.  Including how they hire, average length of employment of the employees, flexibility and their reputation.  We will examine some of the benefits in using a smaller facility versus a larger one in this article.

It feels like home….

It goes without saying that as people grow older they need more specialized attention.  And some of these situations may mean that your loved one will need to be at a facility to aide in their care. For the most part larger facilities tend to feel like an institution versus having a homier feel like a smaller and more personal home may have.  This is especially important for elderly patients that may be suffering with dementia because a smaller setting may feel calmer and more like home.  Plus, those who deal with confusion may find it easier.

The personal touch!

In larger bed facilities, the tendency is to have larger staffs to serve the patients because the frame of thought is that it helps with the overall efficiency and effectiveness in care. The problem lies in that larger facilities could have larger turnover bringing out mistrust between the patients and the staff.  Smaller facilities tend to strive for a more intimate and personal approach so the residents feel confident in the staff and form bonds.

The Social Side

Smaller bed facilities can offer an advantage to many seniors because the flexibility in the social setting is most likely greater and a bit more peaceful and enjoyable for the residents.  There can be a downside too at times.  With a smaller amount of residents comes the fact that everybody may know what everyone else is doing. But the opportunities to make stronger friendships in smaller facilities is greater than larger homes due to the intimacy and frequency of seeing the same people.  Where in larger facilities the opportunity is greater to meet more new people on a continual basis.  

Choosing a nursing home can be challenging and seem daunting at times.  Taking in all the factors can be confusing and anxious.  Always keep in mind the personality of the loved one and what their preferences are.  Because in the end, that is very important.

Study Shows Leading a Purposeful Life Has Health Benefits

By Senior LivingNo Comments

The New York Times blog, “The New Old Age”, is continually a source of information for me. The articles they post are always very timely and interesting. A recent post by Paula Span, “Living on Purpose”, is no different. The post focuses on research that argues that leading a purposeful life can increase one’s health and longevity.

An excerpt from Ms. Span’s article about leading a purposeful life:

It turns out that purpose is, on many counts, a good thing to have, long associated with satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” said Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.

She and her colleagues have been tracking two cohorts of older people living independently in greater Chicago, assessing them regularly on a variety of physical, psychological and cognitive measures. The subjects agreed to donate their brains after their deaths.

What have the scientists learned? Let’s start with arguably the most feared disease of old age. Following almost 1,000 people (age 80, on average) for up to seven years, Dr. Boyle’s team found thatthe ones with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores; they were also less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor.

“It also slowed the rate of cognitive decline by about 30 percent, which is a lot,” Dr. Boyle added.

Purposeful people were less likely to develop disabilities. And they were less likely to die: a sample of 1,238 people followed for up to five years (average age: 78) by Rush researchers found that those with high purpose had roughly half the mortality rate of those with low purpose.

For more information about this study and further ways that leading a purposeful life can improve a person’s health and longevity, read the full article.

This article originally appeared on

The Importance of Visiting Aging Loved Ones

By Senior LivingNo Comments

Moving an aging loved one into an assisted living facility represents a huge life change for all those involved. While it will give you peace of mind to know that your loved ones will be safe and well cared for in their new home, they will undoubtedly go through an adjustment period. They will be meeting new people, adapting to a new routine and getting used to a new living space.

Even after your loved one is settled in their new environment, it’s important to remember that scheduling routine visits is vital. Staying social is one of the most important things seniors can do to improve their quality of life, and a simple visit from family members helps ward off that feeling of isolation some seniors suffer.

Benefits of Visiting Aging Loved Ones in Assisted Living Facilities

Visiting leads to a variety of benefits for emotional and physical health.

1)      Let your loved ones know you care.  This may seem obvious, and you may think your loved one already knows how much you care and love them. However, an in-person visit gives you a chance to be affectionate and serves as a reminder that you care about their well-being.

2)      Allows you to check up on their health. As you spend time with your loved one, you’ll be able to evaluate their overall physical and emotional health. You can take note to see if anything about them has changed since your last visit- are they showing any signs of depression or memory loss? Are they maintaining a healthy diet and taking proper medications? You’ll be able to listen carefully to any complaints or problems your loved one might be having, so you can be sure to address your concerns with the staff at the assisted living facility.

3)      Bring back and create positive memories. By sharing stories of the past and present with your aging loved ones, you’ll help improve their mood and get them to engage. You can bring in photo albums or videos, or favorite music to bring back those happy times.  Also, by visiting regularly you’re giving your loved one something to look forward to and creating new memories for the future.

4)      Keeps aging loved ones socially connected. As mentioned above, staying social is vital to improve a senior’s quality of life. Keeping socially active can be as beneficial as being physically active! A visit helps your loved one’s emotional and physical health and gives them a sense of belonging.

Visiting aging loved ones not only helps break up the monotony of their daily routines, but also keeps them feeling connected to the world around them. Make monthly, or weekly visits if possible, part of your own routine when your loved one has entered an assisted living facility. Be sure to spend quality time with them, listen to their concerns and be affectionate.  Remember that your visit is a reminder of how much you care for them, especially when they have entered this new phase of life.