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Seniors often find it harder to tolerate hot temperatures or long hours in the sun. That’s because our body’s ability to regulate temperature declines as we age, making us more prone to dehydration and heat stroke. Following sun safety tips will help prevent the ill-effects of sun exposure. But when you’re planning to spend time outside with an older adult during the summer, you should also look for outdoor activities that limit direct exposure to the sun.

Try these ideas for outdoor summer activities that are enjoyable and safe for everyone:

Fishing – The best hours for fishing are first thing in the morning—conveniently also the coolest time of the day, before the sun is high in the sky. Set up a couple chairs on the dock and spend the early morning hours casting lines and sharing conversation. Fishing is also a summer activity that can be shared across generations, with seniors, their children, and their grandkids alike.

Gardening – Not only is gardening a low-impact way to move your body and spend time outside, it also has countless benefits for your body, mind, and soul. Gardening a few times per week reduces risk for numerous health conditions, reduces stress and elevates mood, improves balance, and supports a good night’s sleep.

Farmer’s Market – Filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, farmer’s markets are an ideal summer outing for seniors. Many markets set up stalls with tents and awnings, which help to limit sun exposure. Head out in the morning before temperatures reach their peak, and spend a couple hours walking around and browsing for the ripest finds.

Golfing – While some seniors remain active well into their 80s, most would benefit from taking a more low-impact approach to exercise. Playing a round of golf in the evening is a great way to engage in mild physical activity without pushing the limits. Because the game moves at a slower pace, it’s also a good opportunity for socializing.

Attend Community Events – Whether it’s the local fireworks show on the Fourth of July, movies outdoors in the park, or a family barbecue, attending community events is a great way for seniors to spend time outside while retaining close social ties. Feeling engaged in a community is essential for mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing for seniors.

It doesn’t matter if it’s family, friends, or a senior living community (or ideally, all three!), it’s important to stay connected. That’s why it’s so beneficial for seniors to get out of the house and not spend the whole summer cooped up inside avoiding the heat. Talk to your loved one about which outdoor summer activities they want to do and make plans for when you’ll get together to do them.

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Cultural stereotypes tend to paint aging in a negative light. “Senior moments” of forgetfulness, fumbling with new technology, and mishearing things are all familiar hallmarks of aging—at least as it’s portrayed in the media. Not only are such stereotypes patently untrue (according to data from Pew Research Center, 46% of seniors over 65 own a smartphone!), they also ignore the many benefits that come as a byproduct of collecting decades.

Recognizing the happy side-effects of growing older can help you embrace and lean into the aging process rather than fighting it. If you struggle with accepting “your number,” the following benefits of aging might help you shift your perspective.

Upsides of Aging That Make Growing Older a Privilege

Wisdom and Perspective

One of the few positive aging stereotypes is the elderly person who doesn’t suffer fools or foolishness—and isn’t quiet about it. By the time you reach a certain age, you’ve experienced enough and witnessed enough to know the difference between what matters and what doesn’t. That perspective frees you up to stop sweating the small stuff and instead devote your energy to the things that are most important to you.

Free Time

For decades, your life is full of work schedules, school schedules, after-school schedules, and social events. By the time you retire, your kids are out of the house and (hopefully) taking care of themselves. So when you remove work obligations, suddenly the only demands on your time are… whatever you want! This abundance of free time can be overwhelming at first, but it’s an amazing privilege. Use your newfound free time to go back to school, start an exercise routine (you’re never too old!), or pick up a new hobby.

Grandchildren

With grandchildren comes all the fun of parenting without the any of the downsides. You probably don’t miss disciplining your kids or arguing about bath time, but you might trade anything for one more chance to snuggle your now fully-grown children in your lap while reading them a bedtime story. Being a grandparent lets you revisit the joys of having kids—and the fun doesn’t stop when your grandkids start growing up.

To Live Longer, Embrace the Aging Process

Maintaining a positive outlook on aging isn’t just fluff. It can actually help you live longer. In a 2001 study, researchers from Yale and Harvard followed 660 participants between ages 50 and 80 for over 22 years to observe how self-perceptions of aging correlated with longevity. The participants who had a more positive attitude about the aging process lived, on average, 7.5 years longer. So figure out what “senior moments” make your life better and celebrate them every day.

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We’ve braved months of cold winds, icy roads, and even a spring snowstorm or two, but summer is finally just around the corner. As you start trading your sweaters for short sleeves, take a few minutes to brush up on some of the risks that come with warmer weather—and how to stay safe and healthy this summer.

Heat-Related Summer Health Risks for Seniors

We sometimes get as hot in the summer as it gets cold in the winter, and that means heat-related health issues can be a real danger—especially for seniors. While extreme heat can be dangerous at any age, your risk for heat-related illness increases as you get older. Dehydration and hyperthermia are the top health risks seniors face in the summertime.

Dehydration – Feelings of thirst tend to decrease as we age, which means seniors are more likely to become dehydrated. Some medications may also make you more susceptible to dehydration by acting as a diuretic or making you sweat less. Talk with your doctor about side effects of your daily medications that may put you at risk.

Watch out for signs of dehydration:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Low urine output
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate

Hyperthermia – Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both forms of hyperthermia, a condition in which the body’s internal temperature is dangerously elevated. Our body’s natural heat regulating mechanisms don’t work as well when we get older, which increases the risk for hyperthermia.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Excessive sweating or lack of sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Rapid and shallow breathing

Heat exhaustion can develop quickly, and if not treated can turn into life-threatening heat stroke. If you or someone else is experiencing symptoms, get to a cool place, start hydrating, and contact your nursing staff immediately.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

Just because sun exposure comes with some risks doesn’t mean you should spend your summer indoors. Exposure to sunlight is critical to mental and physical wellbeing. Follow these tips to get your daily dose of sunshine the safe way:

  • Stay Hydrated – Drink more water than you think you need. If you feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’re already becoming dehydrated.
  • Take a Siesta – The sun is at its peak during midday. Head inside for a rest during these hours to avoid the most intense rays.
  • Crank the A/C – Extreme heat can follow you indoors if you don’t set your air conditioner accordingly. Set your A/C at a comfortable 72-75 degrees F and use fans to distribute the cool air.
  • Dress Cool – Choose light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen to help regulate body temperature. Throw on a hat before you go outside.
  • Avoid Strenuous Activity – Your body has to work much harder to regulate its temperature when it’s hot outside, which means hyperthermia can come on quickly. Consider trying one of these low-impact summer activities.

Summer is a great opportunity to spend time outside with grandkids, replenish your vitamin D, and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. We hope you keep these safety tips in mind while you get the most out of this sunny season.

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Did you know? April is Stress Awareness Month.

The feeling of stress can oftentimes derail our lives. If we get too stressed, we have a hard time concentrating on other things in life, many times the important parts of our lives like, overall happiness and joy.

Especially as a senior, life can seem stressful. Whether you may be stressed about an upcoming move to a senior living community or other factors that can cause stress, it’s important to take the time for yourself to rest and relax.

Here are five ways for seniors to de-stress:

1. Start a new hobby:

While this may seem a bit odd, activities that keep you busy but also encourage socialization can greatly reduce stress. Whether you want to start a book club in your community, pick up a new card game or grab a friend and start a garden (indoor or out!), you’ll quickly realize focusing your thoughts elsewhere is just a simple way to reduce your stress. 

2. Exercise:

Improving your overall physical health is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve your mood.

You don’t have to pound the pavement to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Especially during the summertime when heatstroke and dehydration are greater concerns, low-impact activities can be a great option for seniors looking to get in their daily steps or 30 minutes of cardio. Here you can find four low-impact activities you can enjoy outside.

3. Learn to meditate:

Meditation is a great way to focus on being present and pay attention to your breathing. It’s one of the simplest ways to reduce stress.

To start meditating, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, relax your body. It might seem easy enough, but meditation—based on traditional Buddhist practices—requires you to be completely alone with your thoughts, and can actually take some time to “train your brain” to stop wandering. Get A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation here.

Now that you have three ways you can start to de-stress, which will you choose? They all are great for finding ways to remove the stress from your life and begin to enjoy it!

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Physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle no matter what age you are but becomes even more important as a senior.

Regular exercise improves both physical and mental health, lowering your risk for almost every chronic illness that strikes in old age and slowing the process of mental decline.

Have you tried any of these four low-impact exercises for seniors yet?

One of the low-impact exercises mentioned in the link above is, yoga. Yoga is a great exercise for seniors as you can do it on your own at home, outside on the grass or anywhere you want!

Now that spring is upon us, find out if your community offers a yoga class in the health center and ask if you can move the class outside a couple times a week to spend some time outside. Morning yoga is a great way to wake up the body and loosen muscles with some guided stretching, and it’s also a good time of day to avoid the worst of the heat.

Find out why this is a great exercise for seniors with these 10 yoga benefits below:

  1. Improves flexibility
  2. Strengthens core muscles
  3. Calms the mind
  4. Improves balance
  5. Low-impact to reduce strain on your body
  6. Relieves pain
  7. Empowers you
  8. Strengthens your bones (AARP)
  9. Reduces anxiety
  10. Encourages mindfulness

Do any of these benefits fit something you want to work on in the months to come? If so, try out yoga.

It’s never too late to start working on your physical fitness. The key is adapting your fitness routine to the limitations of your body at any given age, as well as to the conditions of the current season.

If you’re thinking you’re not even sure how to get started exercising, read this article about how to start an exercise routine over the age of 60.

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It’s an exciting time of year – we are starting to see the sun again and the snow is melting.

Spring is almost here! The first day of spring is on March 20 this year.

With the change of season and weather, you might feel like it’s time to change your food choices as well. Chili and soup might not be the best meal when the temperatures are rising so, why not add some fresh, colorful new food into your diet this spring season.

See below for a few springtime foods for seniors:

Chocolate Covered Bananas:

A great way to eat healthy plus, cure your sweet tooth at the same time is with  chocolate covered bananas—delicious bite-sized treats. Cut a banana in small chunks and stick a popsicle stick into them to hold. Then, dip them in melted chocolate. Place the dipped banana chunks on a piece of wax paper and place in the freezer. Wait until the chocolate has hardened and then get to snacking! Yum.

Kale Caesar Salad:

While kale is one of the trendiest foods lately, it actually has a lot of health benefits as well. One of the main benefits is that it has a positive effect on people’s mood. What a better way to celebrate the newly found sunshine than adding a food that impacts your mood in a good way to your diet! Try this Kale Caesar Salad from A Place for Mom.

Infused Water:

While this isn’t quite a snack, technically, it is a healthy change to make in your life. A great way to drink more water is to infuse it! Try adding cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, limes or any of your favorite fruits or vegetables to a glass of water. Not only will it taste delicious, it will add some fun springtime colors into your life!

Indoor Garden:

An indoor garden is a great source of food, but it is also a great activity for seniors. It keeps aging hands busy and agile. It can even help relieve stress and reduce the risk for dementia. A few ideas are to make a herb garden, vegetable garden or a pizza garden. Herb gardens are a great way to add flavor to your meals with fresh basil, chives or your personal favorite herb. Pizza gardens are a good way to make all the ingredients that go in a pizza in one garden! Learn more here.

Spring is a great time to renew your life and embrace the sunshine and warmer temps! That can include changing up your diet to match the season. Try one or all of these snack ideas and let us know what you think.

Enjoy!

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