Tucson Retirement Living Community Helps Seniors Get Their Nutrients

Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Copper Canyon Uses Healthy Lifestyle Programs To Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies

Everyone knows that it’s important to get their vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies can occur for a variety of reasons, whether it be poor nutritional intake, chronic or acute health conditions, medications, or a combination of these factors.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) found particular deficiencies common in community-dwelling adults over the age of 65. Fortunately, Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Tucson, Arizona, takes special steps in designing its resident programs in order to help its residents prevent nutrient deficiencies and live a healthy lifestyle


According to the BJN study, 65% of men and 73% of women over 65 are deficient in calcium. Initially, a calcium deficiency may not present any symptoms. But in more severe cases or over a prolonged period, low calcium levels can lead to serious symptoms such as muscle cramps and spasms, extreme fatigue, and dry or itchy skin. It can also lead to osteoporosis or osteopenia, which results in low mineral density in the bones.

Calcium can be found primarily in dairy foods and dark green leafy vegetables. Copper Canyon ensures that its unique 24/7 dining program includes these calcium-containing foods so residents can get this necessary nutrient.

Vitamin D

If vitamins and minerals had pals, Calcium and Vitamin D would be best friends. Vitamin D helps the body transport calcium to the bones. But it also helps reduce inflammation, particularly chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, the BJN study found that 84% of men and 91% of women over 65 don’t get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D is actually manufactured in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. We can also eat foods containing Vitamin D in order to increase the level of this essential vitamin. Copper Canyon residents get to do both! The community’s grounds are secure and set up to encourage residents to take short walks in the Arizona sun. The community also offers an activity calendar including outdoor activities.


Also known as vitamin B1, thiamin plays a critical role in energy metabolism. This vitamin is particularly important for older adults, as a thiamin deficiency can lead to short-term memory loss, muscle weakness, and cardiovascular symptoms. The BJN study found that found that 50% of men and 39% of women over age 65 were deficient in this essential nutrient.

Thiamin can be found in whole grains, meat, and fish. Copper Canyon makes sure to include plenty of these healthy foods in its dining program.


Magnesium is yet another mineral that helps aid in retaining bone density and muscle coordination. But it is also essential for more than 300 biochemical reactions within the body, and it helps support a healthy heart and immune system. The BJN study found that 73% of men and 41% of women were low in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency may cause fatigue, muscle cramps, mental symptoms, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis.

Luckily, foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains and low-fat dairy products are all great sources of magnesium, and they are all included in Copper Canyon’s menus.


Selenium is an essential trace mineral, meaning that humans only need it in small amounts. But even so, the BJN study found that 30% of adults over age 65 were deficient in this essential nutrient. Selenium plays a role in helping our bodies prevent cell damage, as well as helping maintain metabolism and thyroid function. Selenium deficiency can lead to fatigue, mental fog, muscle weakness, and a weakened immune system.

Selenium can be found in foods like fish, meat, eggs, brown rice, and some nuts and seeds. Many of these options are available for Copper Canyon residents daily as part of their meal plans.

Although many older adults are at risk for certain nutrient deficiencies, Copper Canyon ensures that its dining program and wellness activities are designed to help prevent these common issues.

To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of Copper Canyon, contact our friendly team today.

Start 2020 With 20 Fun and Life-Changing Habits

Don’t look now, but Father Time has launched us into a brand-new decade. Whether the 2020s turn out to be as “Roaring” as the 1920s remains to be seen. But if you’re ready to charge into them with a plan of attack like a lion, there’s a much better chance that you won’t end up with a “great depression” when they’re over.

Resolutions Provide Purpose

Setting resolutions and goals on a regular basis actually has practical value for seniors and can have a positive impact on overall health. Rush University has conducted studies that show people who view life with a sense of purpose and maintain a high level of self-discipline are two to four times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that older adults with a solid sense of purpose tend to retain stronger hand grips and walking speeds – key indicators of a delayed aging process.

What’s more, writing down your thoughts and desires can make a big difference in your general outlook on life. It’s a way to enter the year with an upbeat attitude. And yes, there are studies to support the benefits of a positive attitude as you age. A Columbia University study showed that people who are enthusiastic and content are less likely to develop heart disease.

So with all of those benefits, why not consider trying a few of these 20 fun New Year’s resolutions:


Think you’ve tasted every food on the planet? Think again. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there are 250,000 -300,000 species of edible plants on earth. Don’t worry about trying to eat all of them. The fact is, farmers only grow 150-200 species. Many of them, however, are not your garden variety lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, etc. and they’re quite delicious! Talk to your chef or Life Enhancement Director (LED) about introducing jicama, star fruit or some other new items to your meals. You might learn to like them as much as Brussel sprouts.


Psychology Today claims that learning can help reduce cognitive decline associated with aging. It can also help older adults deal with depression and poor self-image. Learn more about a topic you already enjoy or dig into something totally new.Play a musical instrument. Start a coffee chat group with fellow residents. Get into gardening. Or learn a new board game with friends. Your LED will be happy to help you branch out.


A study in the National Institutes on Aging claims that participating in hobbies can lower your risk of developing dementia and other mental health problems. A recent survey of older adults found that the most popular hobbies for people ages 65 and older are walking and jogging, outdoor maintenance, and playing sports. Every Sunshine Retirement community has plenty of options for you to try.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 falls each year, and many of those falls are preventable. Here’s a quick refresher on how to make your area safer:

  • Remove loose throw rugs from high traffic areas.
  • Fix the height of the bed so it’s easier to get out of.
  • Keep a working flashlight on the nightstand; check the batteries periodically.
  • Put eye-level decals or reflectors on glass and screen doors.
  • Telephones should be in each main room, and they should be positioned low enough to be reached from the floor in case of a fall.


You have seen and learned so much in life – why not put it down on paper? Writing can be a fun, fulfilling experience. Research shows that writing about the many positive things in your life can help you avoid depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Write a book, pen a poem, or try writing some comedy. Even better, write down some of the memorable stories from your life. Some topics you may want to explore include:

  • What are the experiences that have made you who you are?
  • What are your favorite memories?

Journaling can also be an enjoyable and healthy experience. Pick up a pen and give it a try!


In the immortal words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing boosts your energy and vitality, and can even improve your body’s resistance to disease.

Join a Bunco or Bridge group. Or see if your community has a Wii or Play Station game console.If you can’t find a group that interests you, start one. Spread the word that you’d like to host a game night, and you might be surprised how popular it becomes. With a little practice, you might be able to challenge your grandkids someday.


Older adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They also need to engage in muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days each week. A dance, yoga or exercise class at your Sunshine community can help you get all the exercise you need in a safe and fun environment. If you’re not already participating at your Sunshine community, what are you waiting for?


Reading enhances memory, sharpens decision-making skills, reduces stress, and can even help you sleep better. To make it even more interesting, join or create a book club.


Gratitude improves both physical health and psychological health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, boosts self-esteem, bolsters mental strength, and it can also help you sleep. One easy way to nurture gratitude and count your blessings is to keep a basic gratitude journal. Even something as simple as writing down one thing you are grateful for every day can go a long way in helping you see things all around you for which to be grateful. If you want to take it a step further, write down something you want to become more thankful for. If you’re consistent, it won’t take long for your outlook on life to improve.


Are you noticing a theme here? Getting outdoors helps you get the fresh air and exercise you need to stay healthy. Spending time in nature also helps you connect with the world around you. Luckily, most Sunshine communities have beautiful gardens for residents to enjoy and frequently take outings to parks and natural areas. Grab your coat and hat, and take a deep breath.


Sometimes the smallest things can bring about the greatest pleasures. Embrace the smell of coffee in the morning, the hug of someone you love, or the sound of a favorite tune.


Some people are naturally charismatic. The rest of us, not so much. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to exude more positive energy. How? Stand tall, have confidence, look people in the eye, and smile more often. Confident people will often admit that they acted confident long before they felt confident.

If you want to try new things this year or meet new people, don’t let a lack of confidence stand in your way. Raise your chin, straighten your back and walk boldly into whatever new endeavor you want to try. If the confidence isn’t there, it’ll catch up. Remember, the only thing worse than failure is regret. Don’t regret not trying your best self this year!


Everyone knows that it’s wise to eat healthy foods and watch your weight. But did you know there are food items that are good for your brain? Blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and nuts are a few easy-to-find foods that can boost your brain power. And guess what? Dark chocolate is a brain-boosting food as well!


Connecting with children is a great way to energize your life. Reading to youngsters or helping them learn to read can be just about as much fun as you will ever have. Ask your LED about how you can volunteer at your local library or invite children into your community for a storybook session.


Older adults who volunteer in their communities report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and greater well-being. It really is better to give than to receive! Give your time to causes and communities you love, and the benefits will be extraordinary.


It’s never too late to take better care of yourself. Whether you’re trying yoga or Tai Chi, scheduling a massage, or trading your coffee for green tea, there are countless ways to enhance your wellness. If you try an activity and decide it isn’t for you, try another (and another!) until you discover something you love. Many people who give up on wellness activities simply stop too soon. Be patient and stay determined. Most Sunshine communities are kicking off the year with a 21-Day Wellness Challenge. So, it’s the perfect time to get started.


DNA testing can help you discover your family roots and understand where you came from. There are many services available (often at a cost) to receive a comprehensive report of your genealogy, ethnicity or family tree. A few of these services include:

Who knows? You may be descended from royalty or another race. Along the same line, maybe this is the year you should reach out to a distant relative or family member with whom you have always wanted to connect. Send an email or make a phone call. Work on your family tree or work on documenting your family history. This can become a fun project of its own and one that your own ancestors will surely cherish.


Friendships can have greater effects on your health and well-being than the relationship with your family. If you’re nervous about doing this one-on-one, consider simply meeting someone for coffee. If you are feeling lonely, chances are someone else in your community is feeling lonely, too. Find each other and start a friendship! And here’s a helpful hint: Don’t limit new friendships to people who look or act just like you or share the same viewpoints. Some of the greatest friendships are formed by the attraction of opposites.


Music is good for your health. It has the power to bring back fond memories and transport you — even momentarily — to another time and place. It can make you feel relaxed from head to toe or it can get your blood pumping and make you want to get up and dance. Few other experiences in life have the wide array of effects on us that music has and experiencing it live enhances all of those positive results. Whether you want to destress, get motivated or forget your troubles, go enjoy the next live musical performance at your community. And get there early so you can grab a front-row seat.


Write the Great American Novel. Paint a self-portrait. Learn a new language. it’s always a great day to do something you’ve always wanted to do. The good news is – even if you only spend an hour or so on your dream – by the end of the new year, you’ll have contributed a healthy amount of time on your project and made good progress. So, don’t delay! Identify your dream project and start working on it. You won’t regret it.

Share Your Resolutions and Stick with Them

Each new year provides an exciting opportunity to try new things and establish positive habits. But the best thing is, you don’t actually need a new year or a new decade to make a fresh start. Every day is an opportunity to do something amazing and rewarding!

Of course, starting 20 new resolutions all at once is a lot to ask. So, pick the ones that are most important to you, then share your resolve with friends and family members. They’ll support you and help you get the results you’re hoping for. Later, take on a few more and see how much easier they are to manage.

Day by day, step by step, let’s make the 2020s your decade of resolutions that become revolutions!

This blog was first published in Sunshine Retirement Living, January, 2020. Additional content provided by usnews.com and medfordleas.org.

Putting Yourself Firmly on the Road to Recovery

With the holiday season upon us, we look forward to the traditions that make this time of year so special, as well as the excitement of getting together with family and friends. Yet with all the joy we find during the holidays, it’s also a season fraught with danger for seniors who face greater risks of falling for one reason or another:

  • Climbing on stools or step ladders to bring down the good china or decorations.
  • Tripping over an extension cord that has been brought out for the Christmas lights.
  • Getting in and out of cars to go to restaurants and visit relatives.
  • Walking on icy pathways and parking lots.
  • Being a little tipsy from having an extra drink or two.
  • Reaching to put an ornament or an angel high on a Christmas tree.

If you’re getting advanced in years, these are just a few common occurrences that can put you on the floor or the ground in a heartbeat, and make you wish the angel on your tree is watching over you somehow.

For additional causes of falls and how to avoid them, refer back to our article on fall prevention posted on October 9. More recently, on November 6 to be exact, we took a look at how to pick yourself up from a fall, which is much easier said than done. Today, we wrap up our series on falls with the most important topic of all: how to recover from a fall that has caused a physical injury and possibly psychological damage as well.

Thanks to the Baby Boomer generation steadily getting older, many seniors are approaching their late 70s, which means they are well beyond the age when a fall merely results in a few minor scrapes and bruises. And they’re fast approaching the age of 80 when more than half of all people experience a fall each year and those often lead to fractures and even death. Consider these alarming statistics related to falling:

  • Approximately 9,500 deaths of older Americans are associated with falls each year.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age.
  • Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.
  • When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of older patients who are admitted for any other reason.
  • Among people aged 85 and older, one out of every 10 falls results in a hip fracture.
  • One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury. A broken hip itself is rarely fatal, but long periods confined to a bed or being inactive leads to other complications, including depression and pneumonia.

While falls are a major fear for older adults, often signaling the onset of serious physical concerns and a potential loss of independence, a fall doesn’t have to be life-threatening or even life-altering. If you or a loved has recently experienced a fall, here are some things to keep in mind to help with a full recovery.

Understand that falls will happen

Despite taking preventive measures, seniors are afflicted by falls more often than you may realize and the number reported in recent years is on the rise. Falls can occur for a number of reasons, from a defective shoe to cognitive impairment, weather conditions or even a simple distraction. The important thing to understand is that falls aren’t necessarily a physical failure, and there’s no need to get too discouraged if one does happen.

Fitness is a significant factor

The New York Times determined that, not surprisingly, one of the biggest indicators of how well an older adult could be expected to recover after a fall was directly tied to his or her level of physical ability. Those who were physically active were far more likely to recover more fully and quickly than those who are typically inactive.

Brenda Olivarez, Life Enrichment Director at Sunshine’s Garden Way Retirement Community in Eugene, Oregon, concurs.

“The best thing is to be a very active person beforehand and do a lot of bone-loading exercises for your legs,” she says. “But if the person is frail and does not stay on top of their health, unfortunately, they could easily pass away from a broken hip or other serious fracture.”

Consequently, an important element of recovery for any senior who has fallen is to improve their level of physical fitness as much as possible through regular exercise. Even if an individual is living with a disability, regular activity and physical therapy can help maximize functioning, which can be a huge factor in post-fall recovering. All Sunshine Retirement communities have regular group programs that can enhance your fitness, many specifically designed for victims of falls, including balance and muscle strength exercises.

Break down psychological barriers with living space changes

While falls are the leading cause of physical injury among seniors, much of the damage they do is psychological. Even seniors who were relatively fit and physically independent prior to their slip can suffer a huge blow to self-confidence and leave them feeling unsure about living on their own.

One way to combat a sudden lack of confidence is to create a safe space during the recovery process. This can involve everything from rearranging furniture to allow more support while moving around to widening walkways throughout the home. Brenda Olivarez offers this helpful list to those who have survived a fall:

  • Make sure your home is safe in case you come home with a walker or another device to help you move around. Have your family make more room so that the trip hazards are not as high.
  • Get rid of rugs! Or at least make sure they are new and do not have holes in them.
  • If you have dark hallways, get night lights so that you can see where you are going when you get up in the night for the bathroom.
  • Install handrails/grab bars in the bathroom and shower, and add a shower chair until you are stable enough to stand on the wet tile. Have someone install “grip strip” on the shower floor to make it less slippery.
  • Make sure the handrails along steps and stairways are secure and sturdy.
  • Have a cell phone or an emergency alert necklace in case another emergency happens and you need help immediately.

Not only can these suggestions reduce the chance of additional falls during the delicate recovery period, they can give you the confidence to make physical recovery faster and easier.

Healing the break

Unless you’re lucky enough to simply walk away with some mild bruising, chances are you’ll require some type of treatment and recovery period. Many people end up with hip, rib, shoulder, ankle, foot or wrist fractures. Typically, a broken bone will need to be kept straight and immobile while it heals in order to fuse together correctly. That’s fine in theory, but in practice, it can make things difficult, especially if you are someone who is used to being active. Before you try to go back to your old routine, consult with your doctor or therapist and stick with their prescribed timetable.

Living with a cast

If you’ve broken a bone in your hand or foot, it’s likely you’ll have a cast applied, and mobility will almost certainly become an issue. Rather than pushing your body through the pain, it’s important to adjust your lifestyle to account for the cast or splint. Spinal injuries may require a therapeutic brace or corset to keep the spine steady while you heal, and that can dramatically decrease your regular range of motion.

Here are some good tips to help you get through your time with your cast:

  • Unless your foot cast is designed for walking, don’t put your body weight on it.
  • Keep swelling down by propping up the limb when sitting.
  • Practice toning the muscles around and under the cast with physio-approved exercises.

Patience is a virtue

You can expect to be in a cast or splint for at least six weeks, but a break can take significantly longer to heal depending on the bone and the nature of the fracture. Listen to your doctor and your body. While there are average guidelines for healing a break, there is no absolute standard timeline because everybody is different. If you’re feeling pain and fatigue, these are signs that you might be pushing your body too hard.

Regaining strength

With the right help, you can begin regaining your strength well before the cast comes off. Your doctor will definitely provide a rehabilitation program for after surgery or the setting of the bone. Therapists and specialists will help you with targeted mobility and strengthening exercises, and the staff at your retirement community will surely provide recovery support as well.

Continuing your rehab

Rehab and recovery under medical supervision is important, but your improvement will grind to a halt if you don’t keep up the strengthening on your own. Hip fractures are among the most common osteoporosis-related injuries, and while they can be difficult to heal, a study out of Boston University found that patients recovering from hip surgery who did specific exercises at home enjoyed significantly more function and mobility.

How yoga can help

Along with rebuilding muscle, improving your balance will definitely help your recovery. Beginning a gentle yoga routine could be your best bet for a better balance. Don’t worry about the challenging postures that your granddaughter can do. Yoga instructors at most Sunshine Retirement communities will focus on slow and deliberate movements to nurture your balance on both sides of your body. Many of our instructors have experience with rehabilitation and can offer close and careful guidance through your practice, even starting you off with Chair Yoga.

Learning from your fall

After you’ve had a bad fall, you’ll naturally be a bit more cautious. You might be reluctant to go out in bad weather or cover longer distances on your own. However, strengthening muscles and improving your cardiovascular fitness are vital parts of the rehabilitation process and will absolutely improve your longevity. So whatever you do, don’t swear off exercise and become a couch potato.

“Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help – no matter or how big or small,” says Brenda. “Make sure all your future movements are safe and steady to avoid another accident. And above all, NEVER STOP MOVING and DO NOT LIVE IN FEAR. The more fear you move with, the higher the chances of you falling again. Keep engaging with everyone around you as you had before.”

While the fall season suggests that the end of the year is approaching, the time of year that could cause a fall doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you or your loved ones. We hope this series will help you stay on your feet and enjoy many happy holiday seasons to come.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, November 2019. Some content provided by sunriseseniorliving.com, comfortkeepers.com, silversneakers.com
and newlifeoutlookosteoporosis.com

Just Because Leaves Are Falling Doesn’t Mean You Have To

Unless you live in a banana belt surrounded by swaying palm trees, you’ve probably noticed a slight chill in the air and a hint of color on the trees outside. That’s because in the wee hours of last Monday morning, the autumnal equinox launched the official beginning of fall. One by one, the leaves on the deciduous trees will tumble to the ground.

This blog post marks the first installment in a series of safety topics an,d autumn seemed like an appropriate time of year to consider how seniors can avoid a fall of their own

According to a recent survey, one in every four Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall this year. As seniors reach their 70s, that number increases to one in three. Those are especially alarming statistics, when you consider that nearly 25% of those falls result in serious injuries, such as broken wrists, hips, ankles, and other bones, Fortunately, there are several precautions to help keep those bones, and self-esteem, intact.

Simple tips to prevent falls

As seniors get older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — can make falls more likely A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This social isolation can result in further physical decline, depression and feelings of helplessness.

Get back to enjoying your golden years and consider these simple fall-prevention strategies to keep the fear of falling at bay:

1. Keep moving

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall-prevention. With a doctor’s approval, consider adding activities into your routine such as walking, water workouts, yoga, tai chi or dancing. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility.

“Chair Yoga is a great safe foundation of fitness for seniors,” says Tina Bertelle, Life Enrichment Director at The Clairmont in Austin, Texas. “I am certified as a Chair Yoga instructor, I teach Yoga Flow, and I’m a green belt in Taekwondo. So, I incorporate Tai Chi and different kinds of movements into almost every day of our lives. We segue from peaceful Japanese music for Tai Chi into some Country/Western music to stretch out and keep our bodies moving.

“Residents even have homework to practice their ‘CAT’ and ‘COW’ spell-out poses from the chair. It’s a running joke that I tell them to ‘have a Cow’ every Wednesday.”

The results of movement classes at The Clairmont and other communities have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We have seen residents with low oxygen stats get back to normal,” says Tina, “and people who were not able to move or stretch are now able to touch their toes without pain.”

For those seniors who avoid physical activity because they’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, Tina has just a few words of advice: “Move it or lose it!” she says.

2. Wear sensible shoes

Swapping out footwear can be a practical part of any fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles can cause slips, stumbles, and falls. Properly fitted, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles are best for preventing falls and can even reduce. joint pain when worn over time.

3. Remove hazards

Take a look around your living area and get rid of unnecessary hazards:

  • Remove boxes, electrical cords, and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks, and plantstands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose
    rugs entirely.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease, or food.

4. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for those middle-of-the-night needs.
  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances.
  • Replace traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

5. Use assistive devices

If you feel dizzy or wobbly occasionally, consider using a cane or walker. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Install grab bars and use nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub.
  • Use a bath seat and a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down.
  • Consider a raised toilet seat or one with armrests.

6. Consult the doctor

If you have serious concerns about falling, it’s a good idea to talk with your health care specialists and check on the following:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking.
  • Have you (almost) fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how
    you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your
    risk of falls, including wearing bifocals. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk?

Your doctor may recommend solutions or precautions that may require professional help
or a larger investment. If cost is a concern, remember that an investment in fall- prevention is an investment in independence.

Prevention is the best way to avoid the injuries and other problems related to falls. But
accidents happen despite the best laid plans. In our next installment, we’ll explore what to do if
you or a loved one experiences a serious fall. Until then, stay safe and let the leaves do all the

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, September, 2019. Some content was provided by mayoclinic.org and aging.com

Sunshine Residents find 7th Annual Wellness Month is the Perfect Fit

Wellness – noun, the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Centuries ago, early explorers spent the better part of their lives searching in vain for a mythical “Fountain of Youth.” By the looks of things today, many Sunshine residents have found the source of a longer and healthier life right in their own communities.

From coast to coast, our Life Enrichment Directors are putting a wrap on Wellness Month for another year. But after giving residents a good taste of fitness and wellness, they certainly aren’t turning off the desire for them to keep living well. To refresh your memory, here’s how Wellness Month has played out in most communities.

Sunshine’s Wellness Month began with a Kickoff Party on August 1, where each community provided opportunities throughout the month for residents to learn Wellness practices from¬¬ local professionals based on four different categories – Get Informed, Get Fit, Get Restored and Give Back.

Get Informed

We live in a changing world where information about new ideas, policies, problems and solutions constantly arise. Getting informed and learning about these new things can help us live healthier lives. A few examples of opportunities to Get Informed this month included:

  • Seminars on Nutrition, Hydration, Exercise & Joints, Heat Stress, Fall Prevention, Eye Care, High Cholesterol and Massage Therapy.
  • Blood Pressure and Cancer Screenings and Hearing Checks.
  • Health & Wellness Fairs.
  • Orthopedic Talks

“An RN from Memorial Hospital came out and talked to the residents about Heat Stress,” claims MerryBeth Grant, LED at The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “She gave them the warning signs and symptoms of Heat Stress and ways to protect themselves. The nurse also informed the residents that different medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate body temperature.”

Merry Bethalso talked to the residents about the importance of staying hydrated. They learned about the symptoms of dehydration and ways to prevent it.

“We told them about the five myths and facts of drinking water,” she says. “Since so many of them don’t love to drink water, we also discussed how they could get their water through eating lots of different fruits and vegetables. In the end, they each got a water bottle and a nice cold glass of ginger water infused with honey, lemon, cucumber, and spearmint.”

Get Fit

For those who have been watching life from the sidelines for a while, the thought of getting fit may seem daunting. But the payoffs of living a longer, healthier life are well worth it. The first step is to develop a good attitude and set achievable fitness goals. Then keep track of progress and get into a sustainable routine. To make things easier, residents are encouraged to buddy up with a friend to support and challenge each other, then switch things up and try new things together. Some of this month’s Get Fit offerings have included:

  • Dance Parties and Cardio Challenges.
  • Wii Bowling Tournament.
  • Beginning Taekwondo.
  • Healthy Happy Hours and Smoothie Socials.
  • Cornhole Tournaments.
  • Senior Olympics featuring Bean Bag Baseball and Potato Golf.

Complete with opening and closing ceremonies, the Senior Olympics is one of the perennial highlights of Wellness Month in Austin, Texas. This year, The Clairmont hosted their friendly crosstown rivals from The Continental and according to Life Enrichment Director (LED) Olga Rosalez, the competition breeds an amazingly warm and friendly camaraderie, while bringing a lot of enjoyment to their Wellness campaign.

“The Summer Games creates an essential physical activity for body and mind,” she states. “Participating and engaging with a friendly, competitive and fun mode promotes wellness and an overall positive way of life.”

Olga notices a positive change in residents like Wendell Sharptonof The Continental.

“Wendell strives to stay engaged in most activities and outings,” she says. “His overall wellness has improved tremendously in the last five years.”

Wendell wholeheartedly agrees.

“Wellness Month gets my attention and concentration on my wellness,” he says.“I put extra effort to stay hydrated and eat the right foods. Overall wellness is extremely important to me, especially at my age.”

Even without the rivalry of Senior Olympics, residents and staff members had spirited competitions in several communities, including Fountain Crest in Lehigh Acres, Florida. “This is the first time that we’ve had the Wi Bowling Challenge with the residents and staff,” claimed LED Debbie Whiteaker. “My residents are very competitive and wanted to create more interaction between staff and residents. The staff took turns coming out to bowl their games in the activity room and some and the residents who do not participate in many group programs came to watch. We have many residents who bowl very well and achieved perfect scores.”

Stacy Harrison, LED at The Landing at Behrman Place in New Orleans also decided to jazz things up this year with a new twist.

“We actually have spiced up Wellness Month by going back into the ‘50s,” she said.“We were‘Rockin’ Around the Clock’ at the Landing Fabulous ‘50’s Birthday Bash on the 18th.”

Get Restored

Getting physically and mentally restored is essential for your health. With our hectic lives, we are constantly on the move and over time this has caused damage to our quality of life. We need to reclaim balance and give ourselves some much-needed peace of mind, body, and soul. Sunshine residents have been Getting Restored this month through:

  • Relaxation Days and Spa Treatments (Massage, Pedicure, Aromatherapy, etc.).
  • Essential Oils and Foot Soaks.
  • Nature Therapy.
  • Drum Circles
  • Relaxing String Concerts.
  • Laughter is Medicine Workshops.
  • Mary Kay and Estee Lauder Facials.

“I really enjoy the pillow spray,” said Wilma of Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “I made two different ones and used the lemongrass and jasmine scent on my pillows and it helped me relax and have a good sleep.”

Give Back

Volunteering services or donating goods and money are not only beneficial for the recipients, but for the givers as well. Doing good for others and paying it forward does wonders for self-esteem, and having money to donate is not a requirement. This year, Sunshine’s Give Back activities featured:

  • Collection Events for Pediatric Hospitals and the ASPCA.
  • Cookie Decorating and Thank You cards for local Police and Fire Departments.
  • Clothing Drives and Bake Sales.
  • Eye Glasses Donations.

At the beginning of the month, residents received a special Wellness Calendar and a Wellness Stamp Card. Since then, they have been rewarded with a stamp on their card every time they attended a Wellness event highlighted on the Calendar. As the month ends, most of the communities will be hosting a Wellness Awards Ceremonyover the next few days, and every participant will be recognized and awarded. The resident who receives the most stamps on his or her card at each community will win a customized $50 Visa Gift Card for their efforts.

Bigger and Better Every Year

With wonderful incentives and noticeable results, it’s no wonder Wellness Month is going stronger than ever at most Sunshine communities.

“Wellness Month sets the tone every year for our residents by providing them with great information that helps them gracefully age in place,” said Everett Williams, Executive Director at The Continental, who has witnessed positive outcomes for several years.

Tiffanie Harper, Executive Director at Country Club Village concurs.

“I think that it pushes the residents to be more active and come out of their shell,” she says. “I notice that the residents that don’t normally come to many activities seem to come out during Wellness Month. I think having a healthy competition is good for them and helps them build habits that carry on past Wellness Month, which in turn, leads to a healthier way of life!”

It’s been a real eye-opener for Country Club Village LED Star Longinotti, who experienced her first Wellness Month this year.

“I am enjoying the Wellness tradition!” she claims.“Our morning exercise classes have really increased to 23-25 people most mornings. And we’ve had to increase our water cooler jugs because we’re going through them faster than our delivery schedule.”

That about sums it up. Who needs to search for a Fountain of Youth when there’s always plenty of refreshing Wellness inspiration – and ice-cold water – to go around.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, September 2019.

Marshall Pines Plans Wellness Events for Residents to Enjoy

Hollywood has done quite the job giving the public the impression that assisted living facilities are routine, ho-hum, and boring for residents. When many people think of assisted living, they think all that residents have to enjoy are tiny televisions perpetually set to the local news, staring out of windows at the same old views, and, if they’re lucky, the occasional card game. But at Marshall Pines Assisted Living facility in Evans, nothing could be further from the truth.

Marshall Pines Assisted Living & Memory Care facility is located in Evans, Georgia, and boasts that it is “not just a memory care facility, [but rather] a memory care community.” And the staff certainly proved as much during August, when everyone at Marshall Pines celebrated Wellness Month.

The staff at Marshall Pines planned a wide variety of activities for Wellness Month, touching on every area of residents’ wellness: education, arts, exercise, mental wellness, community service, and good old-fashioned fun.
Several educators visited the facility this month to teach the residents about various wellness topics. A Registered Dietitian spoke to residents about the importance of protein in their diet. And during the session, each resident got the chance to sample a natural protein supplement drink.

Another expert educated the community about heart health. Residents got the chance to listen to the instructor’s heart before heading outside to sit in the sun. But they were not just trying to get a tan; they learned that they were activating their skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D when exposed to just a few minutes of sunshine per day.
Residents also enjoyed a variety of opportunities to move their bodies during Wellness Month. Yoga class was certainly a hit, but it seems that dance-based fitness is the fan favorite around Marshall Pines. The group participated in their Toe Tappin’ Rhythm class, a Zumba fitness class, and a “Keep it Moving” exercise class that included music by the Temptations.

But don’t think for a moment that Marshall Pines neglected their mental and spiritual wellness during Wellness Month. The community also got the chance to immerse themselves in art with painting therapy. They also got creative by hand-painting clay pots and creating personalized photo cards. The residents enjoyed listening to classical music and a short story reading, as well.

Marshall Pines residents also had the opportunity to participate in a guided meditation session with CheVonne’s Garden of Healing Arts, a wellness and massage therapy practice. Participants experienced the sounds of music, drums, bells, and chimes during the session, which promoted relaxation and mental well-being.

Wellness Month also included giving back to the community. Residents packed up a surprise gift of school supplies for students starting the year at Sue Reynolds Elementary School in Augusta, Georgia. And they also gave back to their Care Partners by offering them lemonade, cookies, cards, and gifts to show their appreciation.

And, true to their commitment to residents’ total wellness, the staff at Marshall Pines made sure to put the cherry on top of Wellness Month by giving their residents plenty of opportunities to simply enjoy life. Some furry friends visited the community, and it was tough to tell who enjoyed it more: the residents who loved the adorable pets, or the pets who were reveling in the attention. And anyone with an August birthday was lucky to celebrate with a community-wide 50s-themed birthday party, complete with bomber jackets and red plaid tablecloths reminiscent of a classic burger joint.

Marshall Pines’ Activity Assistant explained to the residents that entertainment is more than a chance to take a break, but also a crucial component to overall wellness. The residents learned that laughter can help eliminate stress, anxiety, and sadness, and can increase quality of life and longevity. Upon hearing that lesson, one resident decided to boost the health of the entire community by walking up to the front of the room and sharing jokes that made everyone roar with laughter.

With all of that activity packed into just 31 days, it’s easy to see that Wellness Month, like every other month at Marshall Pines, was anything but routine and boring.

For more information about residency at Marshall Pines Assisted Living & Memory Care in Evans, Georgia, visit:

Copper Canyon Schedules a Full Slate of Activities to Celebrate Wellness Month

Arizona’s “dry heat” is famous—or infamous, depending on how you feel about it. Even in January, the coldest month of the year, the average daily high temperature is 66 degrees. But since winter is nearly nonexistent in the state, it is only natural that assisted living in Tucson includes plenty of outdoor experiences for residents to enjoy.
Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care facility is located in Tucson just north of the Rillito River. And at Copper Canyon, both residents and staff take indoor-outdoor living very seriously. The staff members at the community are on a mission to support their residents mind, body, and spirit. To accomplish this goal, the staff plans an extensive calendar of indoor and outdoor activities for their residents to enjoy.

Copper Canyon celebrated Wellness Month in August, and as one might imagine being in a state with no winter, the activities included connecting to nature in a variety of ways.

This month, residents took to Copper Canyon’s shaded outdoor patio area to try their hand at putting golf balls. Whether the balls made it into the hole didn’t matter; they were all smiles as they putted the balls across the temporary green the staff set up.

Residents also got the chance to get their hands dirty by planting corn and carrot seeds. They plan to experiment, tend the plants, and watch them grow over the warm Arizona fall and winter. And, of course, they hope to enjoy the fruits—or rather, vegetables—of their labor.

Even when no formal activity is planned, the Copper Canyon community still loves to get outside to experience the outdoors. And since no outing in the Arizona heat would be complete without a frosty drink, this month, residents and staff alike enjoyed sipping on icy strawberry slushies to cool down.

Wellness Month also included plenty of opportunities for residents to escape the heat with indoor activities—a necessity during the hot Arizona summer. Copper Canyon’s book lovers took a trip to the Nanini Library for an afternoon of learning and entertainment. August’s roster of air-conditioned activities also included dancing, making music, sunrise yoga hour, and a visit from The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, who brought Jake the ShihTzu to visit. Residents also got creative in art class, throwing it back to the 1960’s by making tie-dye T-shirts.
Copper Canyon also made sure to include relaxation and spiritual wellness in their activities for Wellness Month. The residents and staff made bath bombs both to relax and as a fundraiser to support the larger community. They made the bath bombs in two scents, and after handcrafting each one, the community made them available in Copper Canyon’s main lobby in exchange for a donation to the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Not only did all of these activities celebrate wellness, but the activities themselves also contributed to residents’ well-being. Copper Canyon is an assisted living and memory care facility, which means that the staff provides specialized physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual nurturing to ensure the residents’ well-being in a safe and secure environment. Activities like the ones the residents enjoyed this month are not only entertaining, but also offer benefits such like cognitive stimulation, comfort, relaxation, and the opportunity to connect and socialize with others.

If you or a loved one is seeking a community-focused assisted living facility in Tucson, look no further than Copper Canyon. Not only do the residents enjoy a variety of wellness-promoting physical and mental activities, but they do so with the specialized support of a caring staff.

For more information about residency at Copper Canyon, visit

Dining That Boosts Your Heart, Brain and Social Health

Once upon a time, when bacon and eggs was a regular Sunday morning ritual, planning food seemed like a simple affair. Now, there are so many new diets flying around it’s hard to know what to put on your plate. Should you scrap your frying pan and dive into raw food eating? Or do you follow the Paleo diet philosophy and ditch grains and processed foods?

Then too, you may have heard about whole-food plant-based eating, which is getting is getting so much good press that it influenced the recent revision of Canada’s Canada Food Guide (a counterpart to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate). In this revision, meat and dairy were downplayed, in an attempt to reduce heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Evidence does seem to be mounting that following a healthy plant-based diet (we’re talking tofu and quinoa, not French fries and cookies) can reduce your risk of heart disease. A major study published in 2017, which examined the dietary data of about 209,000 adults over two decades, found that those who followed such a diet had a lower risk for heart disease than other participants.

Can’t let go of meat, chicken and fish?

If the thought of never again biting into a juicy hamburger makes you despondent, read on. According to Dr. Ambika Satija, who led the above study, you can reap heart-healthy benefits, simply by reducing animal foods. “A moderate change in your diet, such as lowering your animal food intake by one to two servings per day and replacing it with legumes or nuts as your protein source, can have a lasting positive impact on your health,” says Satija, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in this Harvard Medical School article.

The article emphasizes the importance of eating more of the right plants, getting rid of unhealthy foods, and moderating the intake of animal products. It also highlights the health benefits of three food plans: the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet. All three of these diets– which are not completely meat and dairy-free–are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals .This helps lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes.


What’s more, by eating a heart-healthy diet, you can also lower your risk for brain problems such as dementia. For instance, the MIND diet trial found that those who closely follow a MIND diet, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent.

Sunshine Retirement Living was so impressed by the results of this study it decided to base meals at its memory care communities (and increasingly at its independent living communities) on the MIND diet. (If you pop by for lunch or dinner, you’ll likely find dishes based on MIND diet recommended foods like green leafy veggies, berries, nuts, whole grains, beans and poultry.)

But let’s get back to the Canada Food Guide, which espouses some of the same foods recommended by the MIND diet. An interesting side note about this food guide is that it also recommends that seniors eat meals with others as this “may encourage you to eat more of the foods that you need to stay healthy.”

At Sunshine communities, residents would indeed agree that the social aspect of dining is just as important as delicious and nutritious meals. If you’ve grown accustomed to eating a can of soup in front of a TV screen, you might just find that chatting with others over an after-dinner cup of tea can be as good for your spirit as it is for your body.

About the Author

Katherine O’Brien is a Toronto-based health writer who specializes in writing about healthy aging and dementia. She understands firsthand the experience of being a dementia caregiver. Have a question or story idea for Katherine? Email us here.

Worried about your loved one’s aging brain? Brain boosting diet may delay decline

If you’ve ever stood at an open fridge for three minutes trying to figure out if you were heading for an apple or last night’s leftovers, no doubt you’ve noticed the effect of aging on your brain. Anyone over 45 has been there–but is cognitive decline inevitable? Or is there something you can do about it?

Although there’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia, we think there is something you can do. That’s because of the mounting evidence that suggests that healthy habits may delay cognitive decline. Chief among these healthful practices is eating foods that boost the health of your brain.

Dining program based on top food plan

In fact, chefs at Sunshine Retirement Communities prepare many meals based on one of the world’s healthiest diet, the appropriately named MIND (or Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay) food plan. Created and studied by researchers at Rush University Medical Center, this diet was ranked among the top five diets by U.S. News & World Report for the fourth consecutive year. (It ranked #4 in Best Diets Overall (tied), Best Diet for Healthy Eating (tied), Best Heart-Healthy diet and Easiest Diets to Follow.)

We chose the MIND diet because of the spectacular results shown in the MIND diet trial. For this study, researchers tested more than 900 older adults, who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. They found that those closely following a MIND diet, a hybrid of the highly regarded DASH and Mediterranean diets, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent. Results, which were published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia in 2015, showed that those who strictly adhered to the food plan had the cognitive function of someone 7.5 years younger. The study also revealed that participants who didn’t rigorously stick to the diet still lowered their risk for cognitive decline by a significant 35 percent.

So, what exactly is the MIND food plan?

MIND emphasizes foods linked to improved cognitive function like kale, berries, fish and beans. In addition to recommending 10 groups of food to eat, the diet discourages five kinds of food that have an unhealthy effect on the brain like butter, fried foods and red meat.

At Sunshine’s memory care communities and, increasingly, at our independent living, you’ll see dishes based on vegetables (especially green leafy veggies), berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, beans, and poultry. Our chefs avoid or limit ingredients such as butter and margarine, cheese, red meat, fried food, and pastries and sweets. “The MIND Diet has proven to be exceptionally beneficial for overall brain health and our culinary team has ensured that the dining program is not only healthful and nutritious but also delicious,” says Luis Serrano, CEO, Sunshine Retirement Living. “At all of our senior living communities across the country, we are continually researching and implementing advanced new programs and services that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.”

Our chefs work to accommodate each residents’ various desires and dietary restrictions. In addition to creating meals that foster brain health, our chefs also offer gluten-free and vegetarian options. Dining programs at our communities always offer residents several menu choices as well as a selection of fresh and healthy mid-morning or mid-afternoon refreshments.

Although the effects of aging are unavoidable we believe that eating brain-healthy food, exercising moderately and participating in our Memory Care programs, will keep memory issues at bay for as long as possible.

About the Author

Katherine O’Brien is a Toronto-based health writer who specializes in writing about healthy aging and dementia. She understands firsthand the experience of being a dementia caregiver. Have a question or story idea for Katherine? Email us here.

Wellness Challenge 2019 – A healthy solution for countless resolutions.

This year, Audrey Pierce, a resident at The Landing at Behrman Place in New Orleans, plans to work out more often to help her right leg get better.

At Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Life Enrichment Director (LED) Cindy Smith reports that Carol Wilkins plans to improve her mobility by taking the stairs three times a week, Wilma Kuenzel is taking steps (literally) to be able to walk a mile by herself, Nancy Jordan will be eating healthier, and Sue Tucker intends to drink more water.

At The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Gaye Viccellio promises to start exercising, Helen (Pug) Derbonne is going to do Sit & Fit every day, and Elaine Howerton says she’ll try not to eat so much ice cream.

And at Waterford Terrace in La Mesa, California, Doris Tillett says, “I want to be able to just keep going the way I am and do my best to live my life."

From California to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, Sunshine Retirement residents have made dozens of different resolutions for the new year. Yet they all have one goal in common: to improve their level of wellness. And once again, Sunshine’s Wellness Director Lauren Dubay has a plan to help them.

“Every year, Sunshine’s 21-Day Wellness Challenge aims to inspire our residents to create goals to help them achieve a better quality of life,” says Dubay. “Whether they’re related to physical fitness, diet, relationships, greener living or whatever, those goals may be different for every resident and we certainly don’t try to dictate them. We simply provide the tools and the encouragement to make it easier for them to achieve.”

Studies show that it takes three weeks to form a new habit. With that in mind, this month’s Wellness Challenge gives all Sunshine residents who want to make a real change in their lives a clear 21-day support program. The program involves just three simple steps:

  1. Set a Goal – At the beginning of the Challenge, a workshop was provided to help residents pick something worthwhile as well as practical.
  2. Find a Friend – Everything is more fun with a friend to offer encouragement.
  3. Spread Cheer – Throughout the challenge, residents are expected to post their accomplishments (big or small) on a Goal Setting Worksheet or an accomplishment board. Then fellow residents can cheer them on by placing special “Thumbs-Up” stickers on it.

According to Dubay, some communities, like The Landing, do group fitness goals, where they have introduced a weekly 20-Minute Walking Club Challenge. For residents with individual goals, our dedicated LEDs help assist every step of the way.
“In the spirit of the new year, the 21-Day Wellness Challenge empowers our LEDs to try new things that can be added to the schedule throughout the year,” says Dubay. “Especially after the high stress of the holidays and the often chaotic schedules that came from those special events, January is a great time for our residents to refocus.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the community provides extra incentives like prizes and recognition for people who participate in the group challenges and do at least one healthy thing for themselves every day. At many communities, the resident who accumulates the most points at the end of the 21 days will earn a special gift for being crowned “Wellness Champion.” But most residents find that the rewards of feeling better both physically and mentally are more than worth the effort to continue the Challenge, and they start looking for other ways to improve themselves.

“One of the added benefits of the 21-Day Challenge is that it motivates our residents to be more involved in all of our activity programs,” claims Dubay. “Throughout the month, we see an increase in participation across the board, not just in our daily fitness classes. And this invigorated spirit continues well after the Challenge is over!”

If that’s the case, it should be easy for John Vignes, a resident of The Landing at Behrman Place, to fulfill his New Year’s resolution, which is simply, “to be friendlier.”

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, January, 2019.