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Senior Living Ideas for staying active and healthy


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Getting creative

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eniors thrive when they are actively engaged — especially in any activity that allows them to think and behave creatively. In fact, according to Today’s Geriatric Medicine, creative art pursuits offer many benefits to older adults, including enhanced cognitive function and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Many creative pursuits are particularly suited for seniors because they allow you to engage at your own pace. Find an activity that excites you and follow that passion.

Visual arts

Cooking

Food is good for the soul, and cooking it is good for the mind — and stomach. Cooking can be as creative and experimental as you allow it to be. Try new things on your own from books you own, or borrow from the public library, or join a class. One of the great things about cooking is that you can start at any age, at any level. Just want to learn the basics? There is a class for that. Always wanted to try your hand at Thai food? There is a cookbook for that. Has it been your dream to test out delicate French pastries? There is no doubt a neighborhood full of willing test subjects to taste your creations.

Music and theater

Whether you want to participate or listen, you can find composition to suit every mood, and can engage with music all year round. Go to concerts or attend performances hosted by your local playhouse. Music has been found to stimulate the brain and memory. According to a recent study published in Hearing Journal, adults ages 60 to 85 without previous musical experience exhibited improved processing speed and memory after just three months of weekly 30-minute piano lessons. Involvement in participatory arts has been shown to have a positive impact on mental and physical health of senior adults, regardless of skill lever or past experience. So get out of your comfort zone and try something new. — Green Shoot Media

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There is a lot encompassed in visual arts — everything from painting and drawing to sculpture, pottery and design. This means there is a lot of room for you to try

several things and introduce yourself to new mediums. Add a bottle of wine and a few friends, and you might have found your newest hobby.

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Live healthy, live longer A ccording to the Mayo Clinic, less than 3 percent of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a “healthy lifestyle.” Another report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine asserts that Americans’ health ranks below 16 other developed countries. We can do better than this. The good news is that living healthy is (mostly) in your control. Before we can improve, it is important to understand the current state of our health. This is what we know, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: „„ Less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity every day. „„ Only 40 percent of adults 75 years of age and older are physically active in any capacity. „„ An older adult is treated in the emergency room for injuries related to falls every 15 seconds. „„ Every 29 minutes, a senior adult dies following a fall.

„„ Approximately 90 percent of Americans consume more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. „„ If Americans reduced their sodium intake by just 1,200 mg per day, more than $20 billion could be saved in medical costs each year. Here are some statistics from the National Council on Aging: „„ Approximately 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease — and 77 percent have more than one. „„ 90 percent of Americans age 55 and older are at risk for high blood pressure. „„ Approximately 20 percent of senior Americans suffer from depression but only 3 percent receive treatment. „„ Studies show exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body as you age. The longer you stay a student, the more likely you are to ward off dementia. „„ It is important to keep your thoughts positive. Those who worry about falling tend to fall more often that those who don’t. — Green Shoot Media


Benefits of volunteering V

olunteering can be one of the most rewarding experiences for seniors. While monetary donations are always appreciated by organizations, often what is needed most is time. Not only is it enjoyable, but giving of one’s time has many physical, mental and psychological advantages.

Strengthens physical health

Physical activity and exercise are essential components in positive health. Many volunteer opportunities offer a physically active component to them — everything from stuffing envelopes to staffing events. Maintaining a healthy fitness level is essential especially for seniors to help keep your immune system strong and prevent diseases.

Strengthens psychological health Volunteering has been shown to diminish feelings of isolation and prevent depression. Volunteering provides seniors a reason for leaving their homes — an activity many older generations resist doing for a number of reasons. One of the most rewarding aspects of

volunteering is meeting new people and forming new relationships. You never know who you might meet and who you might help.

Strengthens mental health

Volunteering works to keep your brain active, which is just as important as physical activity. The National Institute on Aging reports that participating in meaningful activities, and nurturing feelings of productivity, lowers the risk of dementia, among other health problems.

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Enriches your time

People who volunteer often feel more confident and hold a higher self-worth because they feel they contribute value to their broader community, according to a study out of Wharton College. No matter what you choose to devote your time to, the important aspects to keep in mind are to find events and organizations that suit your schedule, and help a cause you feel passionate about. Both of these factors will affect your commitment to volunteering, and your impressions of volunteering as a whole. — Green Shoot Media

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FINDING YOUR

BALANCE P

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ersonal balance is often taken for granted, but it is a fundamental quality of daily life. According to the Center for Disease Control, 2.5 million older Americans are treated each year in the emergency room for injuries caused by falling. Therefore, improving your balance is an essential component of preventative care.

Losing your balance

Seniors most commonly lose their balance due to: „„ Poor vision „„ Weakened joints „„ Poor posture „„ Dragging feet „„ Increased dizziness „„ Delayed responsiveness Many of the above afflictions come as part of the natural aging process, but this does not mean you can’t work to improve your balance.

you can do a little each day (without a yoga mat) then grab a chair. Standing directly behind it, rest one hand on the back of the chair and the other on your hip. Lift one leg, bending your knee slightly. Hold this leg up for a count of 10, bring it back down to the floor for a moment of rest, and then repeat. Do nine additional repetitions on that side, before repeating the exercise with your other leg.

Regaining your balance

Increase your flexibility

The good news is your balance can be strengthened and regained through training. Much of our balance is lost as we age due to inactivity. Simple stretching and sports, such as yoga or Pilates, are easy and effective ways to retrain your body and regain balance you once had.

Chair exercises

If you are looking for something

Flexibility plays a large role in maintaining and strengthening your balance. Have you noticed it’s not as easy to complete everyday tasks, such as reaching for items on high shelves or bending over to put on shoes? Stretching for 10 minutes each day will vastly improve your range of motion. Just be sure not to over extend yourself. Stretching should produce a nice pull — never pain. — Green Shoot Media

Improving your balance is an essential component of preventative care.


Learn a new sport L

earning a new sport is a healthy way to meet new people and pick up a new hobby — all while bolstering your physical activity and your mental stamina. Trying out something new benefits us all on all levels — conditioning our bodies and challenging our minds. Performing the same tasks over time can get redundant. Switch it up and add a new activity to your routine.

Team sports

Team sports are the perfect choice for those actively looking to meet new people and form new relationships. They also are the perfect opportunity to refine communication and collaboration skills, which tend to diminish as we age. Bowling, golf and tennis are all great choices, and are sports that commonly have leagues and tournaments specifically for seniors.

Solo sports

Perhaps you are looking for something you can do on your own. Solo sports offer more flexibility because they release you from keeping to a specific practice or meet schedule, and you don’t need to rely on others in order to learn or play. Both swimming and golf are ideal solo sport options for seniors because they are low impact on joints but still offer arduous physical activity.

Hire a professional

Facing the challenge

It is important to remember that you are tackling a new project and may feel overwhelmed at times. Don’t let feelings of “not being good enough” or “too old” sneak into your head and set up camp. Research shows we do what we set our minds to — quite literally. If you feel like you might fail, you will subconsciously hold yourself back. — Green Shoot Media

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Hiring a professional local trainer for a few hours each week is a great way to hone your skills. Investing in a coach is ideal for those who already participate in a sport but want to advance their “game.” A coach is devoted to your improvement and will point out your bad habits without bias.


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W

e all have a story to tell; consider putting yours in writing. Following are six tips for writing your memoir.

Memoir v. Autobiography

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An autobiography is the story of your entire life. A memoir is one story from your life. It is fine if you wish to write your autobiography, but remember, there is only one; you can write multiple memoirs. Memoirs also can feel more compelling because they reveal a glimpse of your life, rather than expose the entirety of it.

Start with a diagram

You might find you can’t think of a single aspect of your life you find “interesting enough.” Alternatively, you may find you are having a difficult time narrowing your memoir down to just one story. Diagramming, or plot charting, your life can help with this. Draw a line on a piece of paper and jot down defining moments, rites of passage and other poignant happenings you’ve had. If you perform this task honestly, a moment will often enough stare back at you from the page.

Don’t start at the beginning

The most compelling stories are often not told chronologically. Your first draft might happen this way, but frequently, where we start is not the beginning.

Think about which part of the story will draw the reader in, and then tie it in to the beginning and end.

Write regularly

Remember, sometimes you have to write the bad words in order to arrive at the good ones. It is important to write a lot and write often. Writing is like much else in life: To improve, we must practice.

Accept your truth

It will be tempting at times, but resist straying from the truth. The truth can be elusive and the memory is not always reliable. Truth is not objective and has many sides. But sticking to “your side” of it, and resisting the embellishments will make for a better story. Don’t let yourself confuse the uncomfortable feeling of being vulnerable with “bad writing” or the safety that comes with fiction as “sound writing.”

Let go of the perfect draft

You will not arrive at all of these things the first time out. You must first get everything out on the page. Don’t worry, there will be plenty that you don’t end up using. A memoir is not a puzzle in which you must use every piece. It is, rather, the cream that is separated from the milk. — Green Shoot Media


Try hosting regular ‘family’ dinners F

Share Meals

Get your friends and neighbors together and begin hosting family dinners. You can decide to host every week, or you could set up a rotation so that others have the opportunity to host. You might even find that a group of you meet every week in the summer and hit the farmer’s markets together.

Swap Recipes

Hosting family dinners among your community also introduces you to new types of meals. Each week the dinner host could write out the recipes for each

dish in the meal for guests to take home. You can plan menus in advance and post them in a communal area (or email them out) to boost excitement. Just be sure to be mindful of any allergies guests may have, and while not a requirement, it is thoughtful to avoid ingredients toward which any your “family” has strong aversions.

Flex your ‘Iron Chef’ Muscles

If you enjoy a little friendly competition, you might find that introducing some “Iron Chef” magic into your family dinners will add a new level of merriment among guests. Maybe once a month — after your weekly dinners have been well established — your group could organize a competition. Don’t be intimidated by odd ingredients. You could pick a wellknown and well-liked dish, such as chili or spaghetti, and choose two members of your group for a cook-off. By choosing only two, you keep the amount of food limited, ensuring none is wasted. — Green Shoot Media

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ood is often the heart of any community. Getting together to break bread allows for special time to form new relationships and nurture continuing bonds. This can be especially rewarding for seniors, who are at highest risk for eating alone. Hosting “family” dinners every week is a great way to not only chase away feelings of loneliness, but also beef up your recipe arsenal.

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Consider ways to pad your retirement I

f you are preparing to retire, you likely have thought about the state of your finances. Not only do you need to be sure your monthly expenses are covered, but you will want to indulge in other activities now that you have more time to enjoy them. Below are a few points to consider as you assess your financial security. Be sure to talk them over with your local financial services representative to make sure they are applicable to your particular situation.

your financial goals. You will want to choose someone who is qualified and experienced, and holds the proper certifications for your needs. Be sure to shop around before committing to one. It is perfectly acceptable to simply take a meeting; do not feel pressured to make decisions in that first meeting. They should be trying to learn as much about you as you are about them. Take recommendations from other people with a grain of salt. Friends and family members’ experiences might be a good indicator of how the professional approaches client service, but often, your friends do not have your exact financial needs.

Downsize your living space

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One of the quickest and most efficient ways to beef up your savings is to downsize your living space. This could mean selling your current home for a much smaller home or a home of similar size in a less expensive area. You will be free to put any earnings from the sale into savings, or into your new home, reducing or eliminating your mortgage. According to the 2013 Moss National Money and Happiness Study, those happiest in retirement either did not have a mortgage or were within eight years of paying it off.

Consider a part-time job

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Less space also means less space to put things — which means you will be buying less, as well.

Ask an expert

Finding a good financial advisor can make a world of difference in meeting

Securing a part-time job is a great way to add structure to your days and meet new people — all while earning some extra spending money. Put your years of experience to good use and pursue a field with which you’re familiar — or consider trying something new. — Green Shoot Media


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racking habits has become quite the rage — from sleep to water consumption to steps taken. It’s really no surprise that activity trackers have become an essential fitness accessory. If you’ve been on the fence about investing in one, consider the following six benefits of adding an activity tracker to your fitness regime.

Accountability

Fitness trackers are a great way to not only keep track of your activity but your progress as well. Making strides in your fitness journey is necessary for steady improvement in your physical health.

Personalized goals

Activity trackers allow you to set, work toward and meet your own personal fitness goals. Your friends might be making 10,000 steps a day, but if you are just beginning your fitness journey, you might not be ready for that. Activity trackers let you set goals you can increase gradually. You also can evaluate where you’re beginning. You might be doing better than you think.

ROI motivation

One potential drawback of most activity trackers is cost. They can get pricey. This investment, however, can provide

quite the motivation to take advantage of all your tracker’s benefits. By striving to get the most out of your money, you can develop healthy habits that will become second nature.

to those striving to fight a sedentary lifestyle. If you’ve been stationary for a certain amount of time, many trackers will give you friendly reminders to get up and move.

Heart health awareness

Fashionable fitness

Many activity tracker models include continuous and automatic heart rate tracking — straight from your wrist. This can help you both make sure you work hard enough during physical activity and make sure you don’t overdo it.

Reminders

A reminders feature can be invaluable

This feature might be less important to some than others, but activity trackers have gone great lengths toward making fitness fashionable. Many come with interchangeable accessories, so that bands can be exchanged to suit any occasion. — Green Shoot Media

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Benefits of an activity tracker


Gym membership basics

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he prospect of joining a gym might be a more intimidating prospect for seniors than it once was. A gym membership can come with many benefits — as long as you do your research.

Choose your pace

The most obvious benefits of a gym membership is the variety of equipment and fitness resources you would have access to. This is especially great for seniors, as you can focus on the areas of your body that need the most conditioning, and work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Want to walk? Hop on a treadmill or log a few laps on an indoor track. Do your feet bother you when you walk? A cycling machine might be just the ticket. Most gyms also have an aquatics center and offer many classes, if group activity is what you enjoy.

Try new things

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Speaking of group classes, fitness classes through a gym are a wonderful way to try out new activities. And with a membership, most gyms will allow you to transfer your class fee to

another activity if you find a certain fitness class is not for you. Remember to verify these perks before signing up. Memberships to various gyms come at different prices. One membership might be more expensive but offer additional perks or amenities.

Local gym vs. Chain gym

Like everything else in this world, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Local gyms will always have that personalized touch and generally have more reasonable prices. You might like the convenience of a chain gym’s multiple locations. Remember that locally owned businesses return more money into their local communities. This is always something to keep in mind when shopping for the right fit. Before choosing a gym, consider your lifestyle. Is supporting local businesses important to you? Do you travel often, making availability crucial? The whole point of a gym membership is to use it, so don’t stack the odds against yourself from the beginning. — Green Shoot Media


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n assisted living facility is a residence hall for individuals who may need extra care with daily activities, such as medication, meal preparation and household chores, but do not need the full care of a nursing home. They often feel like small apartments, as most residences require residents to bring their own furnishings and belongings, but can be a better option for some seniors because of the oversight and security they provide.

How is this different from a nursing home?

Nursing homes are designed for seniors who require daily care by a medical professional (those not just

taking medication). These facilities have nursing staff working 24 hours of every day, and often offer occupational and physical therapies to help meet their residents’ needs.

How much does is cost?

Cost will vary from residence to residence. Things like amenities, level of care, desired room size, location and location will all factor into monthly costs. However, it is safe to consider a monthly range of $1,500 to $6,000 per month.

What services are available?

Again, this will vary with each facility, but here are a few services most

commonly found in assisted living residences: „„ Two or three meals per day „„ Medication management „„ Regular hosted events for wellness, socializing and devotional services „„ Outings in the community, such as shopping, in the residence van „„ Housekeeping „„ Security

What are the requirements to live in an assisted living facility? Because assisted living facilities are not nursing homes, there are base requirements for admittance. An assisted living center cannot admit someone who does not meet

these requirements unless the residence is specifically certified to meet specific needs. According to the Assisted Living Facilities Organization, base requirements include: „„ Residents generally do not have a medical condition that will require 24-hour medical care. „„ Residents are not a threat to themselves or others. „„ Residents are free of communicable disease and have generally stable health. „„ Residents do not chronically need help from another person to walk or descend stairs. — Green Shoot Media

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Consider assisted living facilities


Practice fitness safety F

itness isn’t all fun and games without the proper safety precautions. While every person should consider the same basic safety concerns, as we age, our bodies need a little extra care. Being aware of potential threats allows everyone to exercise safely.

Heart Health

Your heart is responsible for sending oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Aging can cause changes in your heart. It cannot beat as fast as it once did in times of stress or physical activity. This is what causes us to feel tired more quickly. It is a good idea to keep an eye on your heart rate before, during and after physical activity. Most activity trackers on the market have a heart rate monitoring function, which makes this easy.

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Staying Hydrated

Proper hydration is the most crucial aspect of engaging in physical activity. After all, the human body is comprised of more than 60 percent water — and we lose it constantly through breathing, urinating and perspiring. But it is often neglected in everyday life, much less when people exert themselves. According to Medical Daily, approximately 75 percent of the American population is functioning in a chronic state of dehydration. Stay hydrated by taking a water bottle with you wherever you go, and add flavoring if it helps you drink more. Take regular breaks from activity to drink water. Set a timer if you tend to get distracted easily.

Sun Concerns

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Sun exposure can trigger all sorts of problems for people — especially during times of heightened activity. The sun can make us hot, which causes our body temperature and blood pressure to rise. It is important to not only take regular breaks when engaging in physical activity, but to rest in shaded areas. Be sure to also apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going outside to protect skin from unnecessary burns. — Green Shoot Media


Try strength training S

trength training can improve your joint health, balance and stability. While everyone can benefit from strength training, it is especially valuable for women — who already struggle with lower muscle mass and bone density. In fact, strength-training exercises are one of the best preventative measures for many chronic diseases and common complaints. Added bonus: Strength-training can be done in the comfort of your own home with little to no financial investment in less than 15 minutes per day.

Why Consider Dumbbells?

Dumbbells offer personalization and flexibility to a strength-training program — which is ideal for seniors. They can be used in a variety of ways to strengthen the upper and lower body. Dumbbells come in different weights and can be used in the comfort of your own home. They also can be purchased as a set or individually so you can get as few (or as many) as you like.

Sets and Repetitions

Take Proper Precautions

Before engaging in any sort of strength training, get clearance from your doctor. Be sure to ask about any medications you are taking to ensure any necessary adjustments. You should also drink plenty of water during any exercise regimen and stop immediately if you start to feel pain. — Green Shoot Media

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In weight training, everything is done in “repetitions” and “sets.” A repetition is one completion of an exercise, and a set is a group of repetitions. Choose a dumbbell that challenges you but is light enough to engage in 10 repetitions without resting. You should be challenged enough so that your last repetition is difficult (but not impossible) to complete. If you’re just beginning, start with one of the following two routines: Arm curl: Begin by holding the dumbbells with your arms resting at your sides. Slowly bend your elbows until the dumbbells reach your shoulders. Hold for a count of three and then relax. Overhead press: Start by holding the dumbbells at chest height with your elbows bent, and then slowly extend your arms above your head. Hold for a count of three and then lower to the starting position.


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