Learn How Volunteering Keeps Older Adults Healthier

April 9, 2018

National Volunteer WeekIn honor of National Volunteer Week, Legacy Senior Living shares the benefits of volunteering during retirement and tips to connect with a meaningful opportunity.

Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy leisure activities. A time to pursue new hobbies and reconnect with those left behind during the busy days of child rearing and a demanding career. It’s also a good time to consider the benefits of volunteering, giving you purpose while promoting your health.

An estimated nine million seniors volunteer every year. Seniors who volunteer just eight or nine hours a month have better mental and physical health than their peers who don’t volunteer. Experts say the benefits of volunteering may be to help seniors avoid the dangers of isolation and live with a sense of purpose that leads to a more physically active lifestyle.

In honor of National Volunteer Week April 15–22, we are sharing how volunteering your time and talent for an organization you believe in can help you stay healthier and happier.

The Senior Volunteer: Health Benefits of Volunteering

Most volunteers say that they get more out of volunteering than they give. This is something we hear often from the volunteers who are a part of the Legacy Senior Living communities throughout the Southeast.

We know that volunteering also helps older adults in many ways:

  • Building a new circle of friends, which is often tough to do in retirement years.
  • Learning new skills and continuing to use those already honed during their past career.
  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence.
  • Socializing and staying engaged with their community.
  • Avoiding isolation and loneliness, which can both contribute to poor health.
  • Increasing feelings of happiness and joy in daily life.
  • Staying active and more physically fit.

It’s a list that adds up to a win-win experience for seniors and the organization they volunteer their time with.

How can you find a volunteer opportunity during retirement years?

We have some ideas you might find helpful.

Finding a Meaningful Volunteer Opportunity

Here are a few tips for connecting with a volunteer opportunity:

  • Think about your interests: Have you always wanted to help rescue and rehabilitate animals? A humane society or animal shelter might be a good place to start your search. Do you have a passion for arts and crafts? Senior living communities like Legacy are always looking for volunteers to help organize classes and workshops for residents. Think about the things you enjoy doing and look for an organization that complements your skills.
  • Call your local United Way: Most local United Way chapters maintain a database of local agencies that are seeking volunteers. They can help match you with a volunteer opportunity that sounds appealing.
  • Online volunteer database: Another way to find a volunteer opportunity near you is by visiting an online matching service. Sites like VolunteerMatch and Create the Good walk you through a series of questions to help you find a local volunteer project that meets your criteria.

Thanking Our Volunteers

On behalf of the Legacy Senior Living staff, residents, and families, we would like to thank the volunteers who help enrich our communities every day. We appreciate having you as a part of our team!

7 Nutrition Tips to Help You Age Well

March 19, 2018

7 tips to help you age well

Nutrition plays a key role in aging well. Use these 7 tips to adopt a healthy diet at any age.

While most of us know that good nutrition is a key factor in determining how well we age, many of us aren’t exactly sure what constitutes a healthy diet. It seems as if there is a new diet being touted on television as the latest and greatest way to eat almost every week. It’s no wonder people are so confused, so we’ve collect 7 tips to help you age well with healthy eating habits.

March is National Nutrition Month, a time to raise awareness about the role a healthy diet plays in successful aging and what credible research says we should base our diet on.

7 Tips to Help You Age Well

Here’s what we know about healthy aging and diet:

  1. Fruit and vegetables: You can reap the rewards of a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants by creating menus comprised mainly of fruits and vegetables. Brightly-colored vegetables like spinach, beets, and kale, as well as deep-colored fruits like blueberries, black berries, and tomatoes are all good options to incorporate in to your diet. These foods can also help to decrease inflammation in the body.
  2. Protein: Older adults often fail to eat enough protein to keep their muscles and bones strong. Easy-to-prepare, low-fat protein sources, such as poultry, fish, legumes, beans, eggs, and nuts, are often best for seniors. Avoid protein sources that are high in fat, such as red meat.
  3. Dairy: Older adults are often diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes it is because they don’t spend as much time outdoors soaking up vitamin D from the sun’s rays, while other times it is because their body doesn’t process vitamin D and calcium properly. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone loss, bone fractures, and osteoporosis. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are all rich in vitamin D and calcium. Mushrooms, canned tuna, and sardines are other good choices.
  4. Limit refined sugar: Most of us eat far too much sugar, often without realizing it. The American Heart Association guidelines suggest that American women limit sugar intake to just 100 calories per day (about six teaspoons or 20 grams) and men to 150 calories per day (about nine teaspoons or 36 grams). The best way to keep sugar from creeping in to your diet is to read food labels, even for things that seem healthy. Ketchup, yogurt, fruit juice, protein bars, salad dressing, and canned fruits can all be hidden sources of sugar in your diet.
  5. Whole grains: Quinoa, oatmeal, grits, brown rice, wild rice, and whole-grain bread are all good things to include in your diet. These fiber-rich foods help stabilize blood sugar and manage cholesterol while also promoting digestive health.
  6. Avoid trans fats: By now you’ve probably heard that trans fats are bad for you, but like many people, you aren’t sure why. It’s largely because these unhealthy fats are linked to heart disease and other chronic health problems. Trans fats are especially high in some fast foods and convenience foods like frozen dinners.
  7. Stay hydrated: Water is another key part of a healthy diet. It helps flush toxins out of the body while also encouraging bowel regularity and a healthy immune system. If you or your senior loved one aren’t big water drinkers, foods like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, melon, berries, cucumbers, and grapes all have a high water content that promotes hydration.

One final tip to help you create healthy menus for yourself or a senior you love is to take advantage of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) calculator. The DRI was created by the Department of Agriculture to help calculate daily nutrient goals. Enter your height, weight, age, and activity level to receive a personalized report for everything from vitamin C to fiber.

The Latest News on Aging Well

If you’d like to stay up to date with the latest news on aging well, we encourage you to bookmark the Legacy Senior Living Blog and stop back often. We share new information and resources on our blog each week.

7 Ways to Cut Your Risk of Cancer

February 5, 2018

Lower your cancer risk. Nearly 50 percent of most cancers can be prevented.Experts say as much as half of all cancer might be preventable. Learn 7 steps you can take that might help lower your cancer risk.

Cancer has touched most of our lives in same manner, whether it is a personal diagnosis with the disease or watching a loved one battle it. While many of us feel powerless to prevent this disease, experts say you can lower your cancer risk. Researchers believe as much as 50% of all cancers can be prevented with positive lifestyle choices.

In honor of National Cancer Month, we share 7 steps you can take to lower your cancer risk.

7 Steps to Lower Your Cancer Risk

1. Healthy diet: What you eat can lower or raise your risk for many types of cancer ranging from cancer of the colon to breast, kidney, lung, and liver cancer. A plant-based diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans is generally believed to be best. Limiting your intake of processed meats also helps.

2. Physical fitness: As most of us already know, exercise plays an important role in aging well. It helps prevent disease, maintain flexibility and strength, and boost the spirit. If you aren’t sure what types of physical fitness activities are best for you or how much exercise you need each day, talk with your physician. They can help you set realistic goals that you can safely achieve.

3. Healthy weight: Obesity is linked to a variety of health concerns such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease. It also exacerbates the pain of arthritis. When it comes to cancer, obesity is often found in people who are diagnosed with cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, kidney, and pancreas.

4. Physician partner: While it’s not a good idea to do, young adults don’t always take time to find a primary care physician they get to know and trust. As we grow older, however, this partnership between physician and patient becomes vital. Your physician can help you identify potential risk factors for illness or disease based on your lifestyle, personal history, and family medical history. The doctor can also keep you on track with routine screenings important at every stage in life. It helps them intervene early and prevent small concerns from becoming life-threatening health problems.

5. Avoid tobacco: This is one of the single best steps you can take to lower your risk of cancer. Tobacco is directly linked to cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and kidney. So if you smoke, find a smoking cessation program to help you stop. Avoid being around secondhand smoke. Experts say it’s just as deadly as smoking over the long term. Smokeless tobaccos are also linked to different types of cancer including in the mouth and pancreas.

6. Sun safety: Many of us enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. It lifts the spirits and boosts the mood, especially for those who live in colder climates where they are stuck inside much of the winter. But exposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to skin damage and skin cancer so it’s important to practice good sun safety. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when you are outside or riding in a car. Keep a hat on hand to wear while gardening or enjoying other outdoor activities.

7. Limit alcohol consumption: A glass of wine can be a nice way to end an evening with friends or catch up with loved ones on a wintery afternoon. Consuming too much alcohol, however, can increase your risk for cancer. Excessive use of alcohol can raise your risk of developing cancer, specifically cancer of the throat, liver, breast, mouth, and esophagus.

Live a Healthy Life at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, we empower residents to live their best life and develop a genuine sense of well-being. Our Signature Programs are designed to promote a better quality of life for older adults whether they are active and independent or in need of memory care support for dementia.

We invite you to schedule a private visit to the Legacy community nearest you to learn more!

Healthy Resolutions for Caregivers to Start a Brand New Year

January 8, 2018

Make 2018 Healthier

Caregivers often put their own needs last. It’s why so many family caregivers experience a health crisis of their own. Use these resolutions to make 2018 healthier.

If you’ve been responsible for the care of a senior loved one, there’s a strong possibility that you’ve put your own health and well-being on the backburner. As the responsibilities of caregiving slowly increase, family members often don’t see the toll this role is taking on their own health.

From weight gain to high blood pressure and depression, caregivers experience health problems of their own at twice the rate of their non-caregiving peers. As a new year begins, we thought we would encourage family caregivers to make 2018 healthier with a few resolutions.

6 Resolutions for Caregivers to Make 2018 Healthier

1. Ask for and accept help: We put this at the top of this list because it is the one thing caregivers can do to immediately improve their well-being. Adult children are often reluctant to ask for and accept help with a parent’s care. But doing it all on your own will eventually take a toll. Resolve to make 2018 the year you give yourself permission to seek help from friends, family, and even professional caregivers.

2. Explore local respite services: One way to care for yourself is by routinely utilizing respite care services. It might be by using home care services a few hours a week, while also taking advantage of short-term stays at an assisted living community every few months. Having “me time” that you can regularly count on will help reduce stress and give you an opportunity to tend to your own health and well-being.

3. See your doctor: Another good new year’s resolution to make is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician if you haven’t been there in the last year. The doctor can conduct a physical exam and help you schedule any routine health screenings that are due.

4. Connect with a support group: Caregivers face many challenges each day. Caregiving itself is demanding, and even more so when you juggle work and family life. Connecting with a peer group – either online or in person – can help provide you with tips and guidance, as well as emotional support.

5. Eat a healthy diet: Family caregivers often rely on a diet of convenience: frozen foods, fast foods, and takeout. While they can be a quick solution for an overscheduled caregiver, few of these choices are very healthy. Planning and freezing a few weeks’ worth of entrees on a weekend afternoon is one solution. Then you can add a fresh salad or frozen vegetable and have a healthy dinner in a hurry. Another option is to research restaurants that have healthy food choices. Also see if they offer delivery or participate in a delivery service like Uber Eats. One final suggestion is to join a meal delivery program, such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.

6. Exercise: It’s easy to let physical fitness activities fall off your “to do” list when you are busy juggling many responsibilities. One solution is to find several forms of exercise that you and your senior loved one can enjoy together and work them in to your weekly schedule. Walking, chair yoga, swimming, and even marching in place are all ideas to consider. The National Institute on Aging also created a workout series for seniors that can be completed in the privacy of your own living room. Go4Life has free guides and tools you can download.

Aging Resources at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, we know how important it is to connect with the support you need. It’s why we created our Aging Resources page. Here you will find links to organizations ranging from the Administration on Aging to the Alzheimer’s Association. We hope you find it useful!

Managing Diabetes during Holiday Party Season

December 4, 2017

Managing diabetesThe holidays are a festive time, but the focus on food can make it hard to eat right. Here’s a quick guide to enjoying holiday parties while making good food choices.

The holidays are a wonderful season to celebrate and enjoy time with friends and loved ones. But the focus on food at parties and family gatherings can make it tough to stick to a healthy lifestyle. The festivities are even tougher on the millions of Americans who live with diabetes.

When temptations abound, it’s more important than ever to manage your diabetes in a smart, well-planned way.

A Simple Guide for Managing Your Diabetes at Holiday Parties

Here are some tips that may help to get you through the holiday celebrations while safely managing your diabetes.

  1. Know the Best Holiday Foods to Eat

When it comes to the holiday buffet, healthy eating can be a matter of making the right choices. Start by eating veggies. They’ll take the edge off your appetite so you’ll be less likely to overindulge on the not-so-healthy stuff.

It’s also wise to plan your meal so that your overall carb intake isn’t too high. For example, if you can’t wait to savor the pumpkin pie cousin Grace always makes, skip the potatoes and bread.

It’s not always necessary to skip dessert, but you do have to make smart choices. For example, choosing pumpkin pie over pecan pie means you’ll be cutting calories and sugar by a third or more.

  1. Know Which Holiday Foods to Avoid

Let’s face it: holiday foods aren’t exactly synonymous with a healthy diet. Lots of sweets and rich food seem to go hand in hand with the celebrations. You can still enjoy your favorites by limiting portion size and making substitutions. However, there are some you should outright avoid.

Alcohol is a prime example. It may cause your blood sugar to swing dramatically. Plus, it is often loaded with calories. According to WebMD, one drink counts as two fat exchanges, so keep that in mind when you reach for the holiday grog.

Here are a few other interesting facts about alcohol and diabetes:

  • Alcohol stimulates your appetite. When you drink, your willpower and judgment may become weakened, which can lead you to make bad food choices.
  • Sweet wine and beer contain carbs, which can impact your blood sugar.
  • Alcohol can interfere with medications or insulin, putting you at risk for problems with your diabetes.

 

If you’re unsure of whether or not you should be drinking alcohol, talk to your doctor. They may tell you to avoid it altogether, or they might advise you on how much your limit should be.

  1. Treat Your Body Well

Holiday plans can disrupt your daily routine. Whether you’re attending parties or simply spending time shopping and visiting with friends, there’s a good chance you’re going out more.

Sometimes that means getting less sleep, which isn’t good for an adult with diabetes. Did you know sleep deprivation may cause you to eat more? And it can also cause you to crave food that is bad for you, like high-sugar, high-fat foods. Precisely the kind of food you’re apt to find at the holiday table. Try to get eight hours of sleep every night during the holiday season.

Getting adequate amounts of exercise also can help. Don’t let your packed schedule push exercise off your weekly calendar. It not only helps work off extra calories—it can also help reduce stress.

Lastly, stay on track with your medication schedule and continue to monitor your glucose.

  1. Remember What the Season is About

Finally, try to remember what’s truly important about the season. Holiday parties are for seeing friends and family and enjoying one another’s company. When you focus on that, you’re less likely to obsess about food and drink.

Live Well at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, we’re committed to resident wellness. We know that spending time with loved ones is important for a senior’s mental and physical health. It’s why you’ll find an abundance of holiday events and activities for residents and their families to participate in all season long.

Call the Legacy community nearest you to ask for a copy of our holiday activities calendar, and make plans to celebrate the season by joining us for any event that looks enticing!

5 Ways to Honor the Veterans in Your Life and Town

November 6, 2017

Two veterans (VFW) holding US flags in a parade

Nov. 11th is Veterans Day. Are there any veterans living in your town? Here are some ways you can show your respect and honor the vets you know.

Next week is Veteran’s Day. As the nation prepares to honor those among us who have served, it’s a good time to reflect on the courage of our veterans.

Five Ways to Honor the Veterans Who Live in Your Town

As you consider what their service means to our nation, here are some ways to recognize veterans.

  1. Get Involved With the Veterans History Project

The stories of our veterans are priceless, and they can serve as reminders of the importance of history, citizenship, and valor.

In recognition of the value of these personal war stories, the Library of Congress began the Veterans History Project to help preserve veterans’ accounts of their service stories in the American Folklife Center in Washington, D.C.

You can assist the project by interviewing veterans in your neighborhood. The interviews can be recorded on audio or video equipment and must be at least 30 minutes long. For more information, visit the project’s website to find out how to register and participate. Once there, you can also find good tips on how to conduct the interview.

  1. Host a Fireside Chat

You may associate fireside chats with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s comforting radio addresses during the Great Depression and World War II. Today, however, they’re held everywhere from Starbucks to universities, bringing people together to hear stories.

If there’s a veteran (or two) in your area who’d be willing to share some stories of their service, you can host a fireside chat. It could be set up as an interview or a storytelling session. Invite everyone in your neighborhood, serve refreshments, and be sure to give the veteran(s) a proper introduction.

  1. Create an ‘Honor Wall’ in Your Town

A temporary honor wall in a public space in your city, like the honor walls found in all Legacy Senior Living communities, is a gentle reminder of the sacrifice that veterans make for their country. Make yours special by including photos of veterans in your community. Include stories and put captions on all photos so passersby can learn about area residents who have served.

  1. Read a Poem at Dinner

Ever wonder about the symbolism of the red ‘remembrance’ poppy that’s used to memorialize soldiers who died in combat? It’s from a famous poem written in 1915 called “In Flanders Field the Poppies Grow.”

Reading this poem aloud is a traditional way to honor veterans on Veterans Day. Although it’s more closely associated with Memorial Day, it’s a nice way to honor the vets in your area.

  1. Raise the American Flag

Not all gestures have to be grand. The simple act of raising the flag is another good way to show your appreciation.

From Our Community to Yours: Honoring Vets on Veterans Day

Letting the veterans know how much they mean to you can be as simple as hanging a flag. It can also be as grand as hosting a fireside chat.

No matter how you choose to observe Veteran’s Day–whether it’s with a large or small gesture, know this: your actions will be heard, loud and clear. From all of us at Legacy Senior Living Communities, here’s to the vets in our lives who served our country and made us proud.

Want to know more about the communities in the Legacy Senior Living network? Contact us any time!

Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Relieve Pain?

October 9, 2017

A salad with oilInflammation contributes to chronic pain, especially as we grow older. An anti-inflammatory diet might help alleviate it.

Inflammation has been receiving a lot of attention lately. Research continues to shed new light on the important role it plays in managing or preventing disease. In some ways, inflammation is a valuable part of the body’s defense system. It is the body’s attempt to counter the harmful effects of nutritional toxicity.

Unfortunately, this protective response can also cause problems for the body. Inflammation is a chief contributor to chronic pain for people with illnesses ranging from Osteoarthritis to Lupus. The problem often worsens as we grow older. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for medical intervention and lifestyle changes to become necessary.

One of the most effective of these lifestyle changes is an anti-inflammatory diet.

Anti-Inflammatory Diets and Pain Relief

Fad diets come and go, but anti-inflammatory diets have received consistent attention for many years now. Much of this attention is from reputable medical experts.

Why is this the case? Why do so many reputable medical experts advocate for anti-inflammatory diets to help older adults manage chronic pain?

The answer is simple—because they work.

Although there are many useful medications that can be prescribed to counter inflammation in older adults, these drugs are sometimes accompanied by unwanted side effects. An anti-inflammatory diet is a more holistic way to manage pain.

Five Guidelines for Adopting an Anti-inflammatory Diet

Anti-inflammatory diets can be of great assistance in the battle against chronic pain. You should always speak with your physician for more advice, but they will likely suggest you:

  1. Eat Lots of Veggies and Fruit

Eat between seven and nine servings of vegetables and fruits each day with veggies being the primary focus. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower are usually your best bets against inflammation.

  1. Add Fiber to Your Diet

Make sure to eat plenty of fiber. Foods that are rich in fiber have an abundance of natural anti-inflammatory agents called phytonutrients. These go a long way toward preventing chronic pain. In addition to fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as barley and oatmeal will also help you get the necessary amounts of daily fiber.

  1. Make Use of Herbs

Use anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to help combat the toxins that lead to inflammation. Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are some of the most useful.

  1. Limit Saturated Fat

Limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet. The best way to do this is to restrict your intake of red meat to no more than once a week. Avoid fast foods and fried foods.

  1. Eat Fish

Lastly, include plenty of fish in your diet. Fish such as salmon, trout, sole, and flounder should become your go-to sources of protein as you grow older. This will help reduce your intake of saturated fats and deliver a variety of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids.

Useful Information Is Our Way of Helping

Chronic pain makes life difficult at any age. So we hope this information has been helpful to caregivers and older adults alike.

The Legacy Senior Living blog is a great source of information on a range of senior wellness topics, like inflammation and chronic pain. We hope our blog also gives families the guidance they need to make wise decisions.

If you’re concerned about the health and well-being of a senior loved one, remember that you’re not alone. We’re here to help in whatever way we can. Please call us if you’d like more information about our services or if you’d like to arrange an tour of one of our senior living communities.

Honoring Those Who Served and Sacrificed

September 14, 2017

black ribbon to remember POWs and MIAs

Honoring veterans is how we pay tribute to those who served and sacrificed for their country. Learn about National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

We know it is important to pay tribute to seniors who have served and sacrificed for the good of their country. This is especially true on September 15th, National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. It’s a day for honoring veterans, a day intended to draw attention to the accomplishments of our military veterans and to express, as best we can, the gratitude we hold in our hearts for all they have done for us.

A Tribute to Our Veterans

On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we take time to reflect on the sacrifices the older generation made in service to our country. This annual event was designed to honor missing military members and those who were held captive during a time of war or conflict.

Veterans’ organizations across the country hold ceremonies throughout the week prior to this special day. Their goal is to raise awareness, especially to the fact that some of these brave soldiers are still missing; and their families are still searching for answers. The week culminates with a national ceremony in Washington, DC, on September 15th.

The National League of Families says it is important for us to honor and act.  Explaining it as “America’s POW/MIAs should be honored and recognized, rather than memorialized, with the focus on continuing commitment to account as fully as possible for those still missing.  Strong, united support by the American people is crucial to achieving concrete answers.”

A Special Note for Caregivers

We’d also like to reach out to the family caregivers of older veterans. These are the loved ones who tend to veterans’ daily needs and ensure they feel loved and appreciated. Caring for a senior whose health is declining can be difficult and daunting work.

We want to acknowledge each caregiver’s efforts as they are the ones who have truly followed the example of our older veterans. It is important that caregivers know we notice and appreciate their efforts and the fact that they are continuing veterans’ noble legacy of serving others.

Providing a Caring Environment for Honoring Veterans

We understand that caring for a senior loved one is a commitment that requires diligence, patience, and an open heart. And that caring for a senior at home sometimes isn’t the best solution.

If your senior loved one requires more support than you and your family can safely provide at home, we’d love an opportunity to supplement your efforts.

At Legacy Senior Living, we do more than simply pay tribute to our senior veterans and their caregivers. We are proud to say our communities are home to many retired members of all four branches of our military. We work hard every day to ensure they live their life to the fullest.

Please contact us today to schedule a personal tour of the Legacy assisted living community nearest you.

Spirituality and Aging

August 14, 2017

Spirituality and Aging

As Americans grow older, many begin to rethink and reconnect with their spirituality. The sense of satisfaction that results from that connection can lead to an improved sense of well-being, comfort, and an overall happiness.

Of course, this isn’t exactly news to generations of caregivers. Many have noticed a deepening sense of faith and spirituality as their loved ones grew older.

Now, however, there’s a growing interest in the relationship between spirituality and aging.

One reason for the growing interest in this area is the ever-mounting evidence that tapping into your spiritual side can produce health benefits.

Spirituality Can Improve the Well-Being of Older Adults

The connection between health and spirituality has been shown to be especially beneficial for older adults, who often enjoy a surprising array of benefits when they develop their spiritual sides.

Here’s what researchers are discovering in the exciting field of what’s often known as ‘happiness studies’. This name comes from the notion that what makes us happy also helps us to age well. For many older Americans, feeling spiritual or religious provides a pathway to happiness.

What Does it Mean to be Spiritual?

Getting in touch with your spiritual side can take many different forms. For some seniors it’s a walk in the woods, communing with nature and feeling connected to something on a universal level. Others take a more religious approach and its church-going that connects them to a higher power. For others, it’s time spent alone, immersed in deep reflection.

Whatever a person’s preferred method of maintaining a spiritual life might be, the results have been shown in scientific studies to be very beneficial.

How Does Spirituality Improve Health?

A study out of Florida tested the theory that older Americans use prayer to cope with stress. The results were stunning! They found it to be overwhelmingly true with 96 percent of seniors in the study reporting they used prayer specifically for stress management. What’s more, 84 percent said they used prayer more than all other alternative remedies for maintaining health.

Of course, prayer isn’t the only path to spirituality or finding God. Whatever form it may take, however, spirituality involves a core set of practices. These practices are what lead to better health, say researchers.

Scientists Say These Spiritual Practices That Can Lead to Better Health

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Prayer
  5. Compassion
  6. Gratitude
  7. Social Support
  8. Love
  9. Generosity

From healing faster after surgery to experiencing stronger immune systems and lower rates of depression, studies show that seniors with strong religious and spiritual beliefs enjoy a wide range of health benefits.

Spirituality, Faith, and Legacy Senior Living Values

These connections are why senior living communities offer residents opportunities for developing their spiritual sides. Here at Legacy Senior Living, our chaplaincy program is just part of our overall commitment to the well-being of our residents.

Each community has a chaplain who serves the ministerial needs of the residents and their families, as well as team members. Visiting multiple times throughout the week, the chaplains are involved in a number of ways with the community, getting to know everyone.

The Legacy Senior Living network of chaplains is overseen by our corporate chaplain program coordinator.

As you can see, faith is one of the four core values that help us live up to the standards we’ve set for all our communities. Along with honor, respect, and integrity, faith is one of the four pillars of the Legacy philosophy of serving the residents who choose to live in our communities.

The Health Benefits of Staying Social

July 6, 2017

Healthy social seniorsIt’s National Social Wellness Month. Did you know being social improves your health? Here are some of the ways being around others is good for you.

As human beings, most of us are programmed to be social. That doesn’t change as we age either. That’s why, for seniors, staying social is crucial to good health.

In observance of National Social Wellness Month this July, let’s review the benefits of maintaining an active social life once you’ve hit retirement age and beyond.

A Social Life Helps Ward Off Feelings of Loneliness

Feeling isolated and alone is not only unpleasant; it’s bad for your health. And our seniors are more likely to experience isolation than other segments of the population.

Research has shown that older adults who are isolated are more likely to suffer higher blood pressure. They are also more susceptible to colds and the flu. On an even more serious level, isolation in seniors may cause higher mortality rates from heart disease, breast cancer, and a few other chronic diseases.

The depression and anxiety frequently caused by feeling socially isolated may also lead to bad habits.

Bad Habits that Result from Senior Isolation

A few of the most common negative behaviors that can result from isolation include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking or drinking too much
  • Skipping meals
  • Abuse of medication
  • Forgetting to take medication
  • Alcohol dependency

Isolation Is a Public Health Issue

Isolation is more of a problem for seniors today than ever before in history. What’s more, the population is aging rapidly.

All of this points to a major public health issue on the rise. Seniors and their loved ones may have to become more proactive when it comes to finding social networks. Recognizing the link between aging, health, and maintaining a social life is the first step.

Why Staying Social Is So Important for Seniors

It turns out that social contact with other human beings actually creates a physiological response. When we mingle with others, even casually, our brains send neural messages to the body to reduce the production of stress hormones.

Inflammation, a byproduct of stress, is reduced as well.

These reactions happen during social interactions because the brain senses an improvement in your environment. You’re not experiencing feelings of isolation, so the body can relax its ‘fight-or-flight’ response.

So yes, the brain considers isolation a type of stress.

Seen in this light, seniors who stay social are warding off the negative physical side effects of loneliness and isolation. Consider it preventative medicine.

The Long-Term Effects of Stress

Over the course of a lifetime, we all experience stress. The body reacts with stress hormones and inflammation, as we’ve just learned. Our bodies can handle this in small doses for short periods of time. However, chronic stress and inflammation can add up over the years.

Researchers think that it could be precisely this type of long-term stress that contributes to many chronic conditions. What can we gather from this?

Prolonged social isolation may lead to chronic health problems.

One of the chronic conditions that researchers suspect may be linked to long-term stress is cancer. Crowning a lifetime of stress with a serious dose of isolation may be very detrimental to the physical health of seniors.

Staying Social May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

There are other negative physiological changes that occur in the body as a result of isolation, too. Seniors who live alone and experience loneliness may be more prone to dementia.

Getting out and spending time with friends and family or joining clubs and community groups help the brain stay healthy. It keeps those neurons firing regularly, much like a workout for parts of the brain.

Stay Social and Be Healthy

For seniors, it isn’t always easy to maintain an active social life. Transportation issues, living far away from friends and mobility challenges can complicate getting out and about.

At Legacy Senior Living, our residents enjoy the company of friends every day in their communities. They may also choose to join regular social groups and participate in fun activities and outings. If you’d like to know more about life at our Legacy community, please contact us at any time to schedule a private tour.