How You Can Stay Safe From The Flu During These Trying Times

Category Archives: Senior living

How You Can Stay Safe From The Flu During These Trying Times

After eight months of taking precautions against catching COVID-19, you probably don’t want to hear about yet another infectious illness you need to guard against. Nevertheless, now that the weather is getting colder, it’s crucial you do everything you can to avoid getting the flu–especially if you are over 65 or have asthma, diabetes or heart disease. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to try and prevent the flu, like getting vaccinated. (Please delay getting your shot if you suspect you have COVID-19, though.)

Although no vaccines have yet been developed for COVID-19, several vaccines are on the market that can help protect you from catching the flu. Ask your doctor whether you should take a flu vaccine geared towards seniors–either Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, which contains four times more antigen (the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses) than regular vaccines, or the adjuvanted flu vaccine. Whichever one you choose, know that studies have consistently found that flu vaccine has reduced the risk of medical visits and hospitalizations associated with influenza.

You may not be aware of this, but some Sunshine Retirement Living communities offer on-site flu clinics. If they don’t offer this service, staff can arrange for transportation to your local pharmacy or medical clinic. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consider asking for a pneumococcal vaccine along with a flu shot, as the flu can sometimes lead to pneumonia. (Other complications of the flu can include heart attacks, or dehydration, which can result in kidney problems or seizures.)

Practicing good public health hygiene can also go a long way to preventing the spread of flu. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread by droplets or smaller virus particles from infected people or when people touch a surface with viruses on it and then touch their face, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Keep in mind that the measures used to prevent the spread of COVID-19–social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing and avoiding crowds–can also reduce transmission of the flu.

Is it the flu or COVID-19?

There are similarities between the coronavirus and the influenza virus. Typical symptoms of both diseases include sore throat, cough, a runny nose, body aches, headache, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever, though some people may not feel sick or show any symptoms. Some people with COVID-19 experience a change in or a loss of taste or smell—but that is not a flu symptom. Although COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and to cause more serious illnesses in some people, the flu can sometimes take a turn for the worse. In more serious cases of influenza, the warning signs are:

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen

If flu symptoms last more than two days, get tested by a doctor immediately. You can be given antiviral drugs that can treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications.

A side note on the Norovirus

Another virus you need to pay attention to is the norovirus, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain and is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Although most outbreaks occur in food service settings like restaurants, luckily, the chefs employed by Sunshine Retirement Living are extensively trained in norovirus prevention.

In fact, infection prevention is of utmost importance to Sunshine Retirement Living. Staff is rigorously trained on proper cleaning techniques and cleaners regularly disinfect surfaces, using cleaners/disinfectants geared to the norovirus, the coronavirus or the influenza virus. Check in with your retirement community to learn what their virus prevention is—and rest assured that keeping you safe and healthy is top of mind for us.

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.

Staying Safe While Preventing Social Isolation Is Key For Residents of This Pittsburgh Retirement Community

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus, a global pandemic. The virus can spread to anyone, but it is most serious for older adults. Seniors, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) are at higher risk of severe illness, complications or even death due to the virus. Therefore, it is imperative that all people, especially seniors and those in close contact with older loved ones, take precautions.

Thankfully, some very commonsense practices can help protect you or a loved one who is in a higher risk category. But while separation and cleanliness are important factors, it’s also important to avoid total isolation and loneliness, which can negatively impact your loved one’s well-being.

These tips from The Haven at North Hills Senior Residence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will help you and your loved ones stay safe while remaining connected.

Limit unnecessary travel and visitation

The more people you come in contact with, the more likely you are to catch or spread COVID-19. That’s because the virus spreads in close quarters. When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain the virus. People in the area can possibly breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing or sneezing is infected. The more people in an area and the closer they are together, the faster the disease could potentially spread. To protect our senior loved ones, it is important to limit travel that is not absolutely necessary, especially airplane travel or public transportation, which could put you in close contact with hundreds or thousands of strangers.

The Haven has also temporarily changed its visitation policies in order to protect the community’s residents. Visitors are not allowed at the community except for in very limited circumstances approved by the Executive Director. In addition, The Haven strictly prohibits anyone from entering the community that might have been exposed to COVID-19 through travel or community spread, or who is exhibiting any signs of illness.

Ensure your living areas are clean and sanitized

Even if you are not sick and are washing your hands frequently as recommended by WHO, it is still possible that the virus could live on surfaces in your home for a few hours up to several days. If you leave your home and come back, your clothes, hands, and shoes could potentially transfer the virus to doorknobs, countertops, handles, floors, or other surfaces. If you touch those surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you may be exposed to the virus. It’s therefore important to periodically clean and sanitize surfaces in your home with bleach, alcohol, or a disinfecting wipe or spray.

At The Haven, the staffs are always conscious of the cleanliness of the community. That is even more true now, as staff members are being extra-diligent about cleaning and disinfecting frequently-used surfaces.

Connect digitally to avoid loneliness

While WHO recommends physically distancing yourself from others during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is still possible to connect with our loved ones digitally. Loneliness and isolation can have a negative impact on well-being and the immune system. Therefore, to alleviate the strain of social isolation around this situation, staff at The Haven are helping to facilitate video conferencing and other virtual communication tools between residents and their loved ones. Remember that you can give your loved on a call on the phone or via video anytime you like!

Implementing these tips will help keep our senior loved ones safe from COVID-19 as well as connected with friends and family.

To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of The Haven at North Hills, 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.

An All-Inclusive Senior Living Community is The Perfect Place to Achieve Your Lifelong Goals

The beginning of a new year is traditionally the time when many people set goals for their lives. In fact, about 60% of people make at least one New Year’s resolution each year. And seniors are no exception. While the types of goals we set may change as we age, the excitement of setting goals, improving our lives, and trying new things never fades.

And living at an all-inclusive retirement community can make goal-setting even easier and more fun. Without homeownership woes, meals, and coordinating social events to worry about, residents at The Landing at Behrman Place in New Orleans, Louisiana, can focus on achieving the goals they’ve always dreamed about.

Set yourself up for success this year with these goal setting tips.

Start with your values

When you’re setting goals, it’s easy to get distracted by what society has conditioned us to think is important. But ultimately, your goals will only satisfy you if they align with your values and desires. In other words, before you set any goals, check-in with yourself first about what would make you truly happy.

For example, it may sound impressive for a senior to run a marathon or write a novel. And if you’ve always wanted to do those things, those may be great goals for you to set. But if you’ve never liked exercise or you prefer music to reading, those goals aren’t the right ones for you. If you care more about spending time with your family than you do about learning ballroom dancing, then set a goal to call your family daily or schedule a trip to see them…and leave your dancing shoes at home.

Your goals should be something you actually care about, not simply something that sounds impressive to others. Goals that don’t align with your values and desires may sound impressive, but you won’t be sufficiently motivated to achieve them. Since the ultimate result is not something you care that much about, you will likely be unwilling to put in the effort necessary to achieve the goal. And even if you do end up achieving one of these misaligned goals, the victory won’t be as sweet.

Aim high, but consider your limitations

As we age, we can develop certain limitations that keep us from doing things we otherwise might like to do. For example, you may have loved mountain climbing in your youth, but a bad knee means that it’s not healthy for you to start scaling cliffs anytime soon. If that’s the case, you don’t have to give up on your goal, but you may have to modify it. Instead, you can compromise by setting a goal to complete five new hiking trails that are appropriate for your abilities.

It’s wonderful to set goals that are beyond what you or others think you can achieve. But when you do so, be sure to consider your limitations to ensure your goals are achievable.

Write your goals down in detail

Did you know that physically writing your goals down actually increases your chances of achieving those goals? According to Forbes,  vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success.” And people who very clearly describe or picture their goals in great detail are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who set more general goals or who don’t take the time to write out the details.

Additionally, putting pen to paper to write down your goals helps with a process called “encoding”—meaning that when you write your goals down, you’re more likely to remember them and keep them top of mind.

Transitioning to a retirement community doesn’t mean your New Year’s resolutions can’t be as big as ever. With these tips, you’re on the right track to make this year your best one yet.

To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of The Landing at Behrman Place, contact our friendly team today

Arizona’s Warm Climate is The Cherry on Top of Copper Canyon’s Luxury Memory Care Community

Winter weather can be nearly magical when snow flurries are falling from the sky. And nothing matches the excitement of a grade school child who has found out that several inches of snow have given them an extra day off of school. But winter quickly wears out its welcome when it’s time to shovel driveways, navigate icy sidewalks, or drive to the grocery store.

Yes, winter may look nice, but it poses its inconveniences that, in the wrong circumstances, can quickly turn into dangers. And for older adults, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, those dangers are even more pronounced.

That’s why relocating to Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care community in sunny Tucson, Arizona, is ideal for those needing daily assistance or memory care.

A milder climate means fewer cold-weather dangers

Snow and ice can be dangerous for anyone; slipping and falling is more common when sidewalks and stairs are slick with snow, sleet, or ice. But older adults living with dementia or Alzheimer’s may also have a lack of strength, lowered spatial awareness, or balance difficulties that add to the problem, making it more likely that they will slip and fall.

And colder temperatures are especially risky for people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Some individuals may find it hard to detect temperature changes outdoors or even in their homes if their heating system should fail. Because they may be less sensitive to temperature changes, and because they may need assistance choosing weather-appropriate clothing, these individuals are at a higher risk for hypothermia.

Fortunately, the average winter temperature in Tucson is between 66 and 70 degrees, meaning snow and ice are nearly unheard-of. In fact, forget hiding inside waiting for spring—Tucson has the perfect winter weather for lunch or a walk outdoors!

More sunlight and warmth may improve cognitive function

It has become widespread knowledge that changing seasons and exposure to sunlight can affect our moods. It turns out that the weather may have even more to do with how our brains work than we previously thought. In a study published in PLOS Medicine by Andrew Lim of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto, authors found that older adults—both with and without Alzheimer’s—may be affected by the seasons. The study found that average cognitive function was higher in the summer and fall than the winter and spring—a difference that was equivalent to 4.8 years difference in age-related cognitive decline. In addition, they found that the odds of meeting the diagnostic criteria for mild cognitive impairment or dementia were higher in the winter and spring than in summer or fall.

With its mild climate and longer winter daylight hours, Tucson is the perfect place for older adults to avoid the detrimental cognitive effects that winter weather can have.

A live-in community means care is never far away

In areas where blizzards are a normal part of winter life, it is common for travel hiccups to occur as a result of winter precipitation. For seniors who require in-home care, that can mean a dangerous delay in receiving necessary care or medications. If a caretaker is unable to travel due to winter weather, individuals who rely on in-home care can be left alone without proper assistance.

At a memory care community, caring staff are available 24/7 to assist residents. There is no need to travel or to wait for care to arrive—it’s already there! And at Copper Canyon, residents receive Person-Centered Care that is fully customized to their needs, including options for health monitoring, medication management, assistance with dressing, bathing, grooming, and oral care.

While winter weather can be charming, it’s undeniable that a warmer climate like Tucson is better suited to seniors’ needs.

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

Stone Valley Memory Care Community Provides Residents With Person-Centered Care and Families With Peace of Mind

The new year is a great time for a fresh start. Many people make new year’s resolutions to improve their lives in meaningful ways. They plan to leave behind the old in 2019 and move forward into the new decade with a new outlook and an improved quality of life.

The same can be true for your loved one who needs memory care or assistance with the tasks of daily living. At Stone Valley Assisted Living and Memory Care in Reno, Nevada, the community and its staff are excited to provide new residents with a warm, welcoming community, Person-Centered Care, and an improved lifestyle in the new year. They’re also proud to provide residents’ families with complete peace of mind.

Get a fresh start with the Easy-Move Program

Perhaps you already know your loved one would thrive in a retirement community. But the stress and hassle of moving can cause even the most motivated among us to procrastinate when getting the process started. And it’s understandable; the transition to senior living can be difficult when faced with the normal physical and financial obstacles caused by aging and downsizing one’s home.

But thanks to the community’s Easy-Move Program, your loved one can move into their luxury retirement community sooner than you might think. Caring and dedicated staff are available to assist you and your loved one with real estate matters, financial services, hiring moving professionals, veteran assistance information, and more.

Enjoy healthy meals with the 24/7 dining program

If your loved one needs daily assistance or memory care, cooking for themselves may be difficult or even dangerous. And even if you are an amazing cook in your own right, making and delivering three meals a day to your loved one can easily become a prohibitively time-consuming task.

At Stone Valley, your loved one can enjoy gourmet food prepared from the freshest ingredients by the community’s Executive Chef and team of professionals—any time of the day or night. The team is trained and happy to accommodate residents with dietary needs due to various health restrictions, such as low gluten and sugar-free diets, and much more.

The daily menu incorporates foods from the Rush University Medical Center MIND diet, which fosters brain health. Entrees are served on colored plates to stimulate appetite, and a server greets each resident individually with multiple daily menu choices.

And since the community staff can take on the responsibility of providing all of your loved one’s healthy meals, bringing your loved one some of their home-cooked favorites can once again become an enjoyable experience for both of you.

Feel complete peace of mind with Person-Centered Care

It can be difficult to turn your loved one’s care over to someone else, but Stone Valley gives families complete peace of mind with their customizable Person-Centered Care approach. The community’s caregivers focus on residents’ individual needs, while the Active Living Programs allow residents to live life to their fullest capability. Your loved one can receive the exact level of care that he or she needs with the community’s options for health monitoring, medication management, assistance with dressing, bathing, grooming, and oral care.

And you’ll know your loved one is safe in the community’s comfortable apartments. Each apartment comes with safety pull-cords, and residents wear location-based pendants to provide an extra sense of security for families. The community’s grounds are also secured to provide your loved one with a safe place to enjoy the outdoors.

If you’d like to give your loved one—and yourself—a fresh start and higher quality of life in the new year, look no further than Stone Valley Assisted Living and Memory Care.

To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of Stone Valley, contact our friendly team today

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

Yes, You Can Get Back Up Again

If you’ve watched a fair amount of television over the past 30 years or so, chances are you’ve seen the Life Alert® commercial with the elderly woman lying on the floor who cries, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Maybe you’ve even chuckled at the actress’s melodramatic performance. But once you’ve gotten older and experienced a sudden fall when no one else is around for yourself, you know it’s no laughing matter.

In the second of our series on avoiding and recovering from falls, we take a close look at what aging adults can do to help get themselves or someone else up off the floor and do a quick damage assessment.

If You Should Fall

Let’s say the unthinkable happens. You’re carrying a large box of photos to work on a scrapbook. You trip over unseen cat or a misplaced throw rug. Next thing you know, you’re in a heap on the floor and help is nowhere in sight. Here’s what to do:

  • Remain calm and assess your physical well-being.
  • Can you get up? Do you feel pain if you try?
  • Stay down as long as it takes to assess your condition, and do not make any overly strenuous or sudden movements.

When you’re ready to get up, follow these steps:

  • Lie down on your side. Bend your top leg and lift your upper body into position resting on your elbow.
  • Pull your body toward a sturdy stationary object. Drag yourself up into a kneeling position while using your hands to pull yourself up.
  • Put your strong leg in front of your body while you are holding the stationary object.
  • Stand up. Check to see if you are bleeding or feel excessive pain that may suggest a broken bone.
  • If you are near a chair, turn, sit down, and call for assistance. A video that clearly demonstrates these movements and other get-yourself-up techniques are available here.

If you cannot get up or fall back down, follow these steps:

  • If you think you can be heard, call out for help.
  • If you can reach your cell phone without straining yourself, or if you have a fall-prevention lanyard, use it to call for assistance.
  • If you do not have your cell phone or an emergency call device on hand, slide yourself to the nearest phone or bench.
  • Make as much noise as possible to draw attention to yourself. Use your walking implement if you have one.
  • Get as comfortable as possible and wait for help.

If Your Friend or Loved One Falls

If you’re with a person who has fallen and you cannot get them up by yourself, call for medical assistance, and then administer first aid without moving them. If you do not know first aid, make sure the person is as comfortable as possible until professional medical assistance arrives. Pay special attention to the joints in case something has broken.

If the person who has fallen can get up, help them by bringing a chair. Then follow the five steps listed above for getting yourself up in the section titled, “If You Should Fall.”

Getting Help

Whether you are the victim of a fall or the “first responder” on the scene, you should never underestimate the gravity of a fall for an older adult. Do not assume that just because no after-effects are readily apparent that there are none.

If any of the following things seem to follow as a result of a fall, call a doctor immediately:

  • Any visually apparent injury or lingering pain.
  • Weakness,dizziness or nausea.
  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness.
  • Headaches or vision problems.

These symptoms may appear immediately after a fall or they could take a few days to

Any elder adult who is at risk of falling should have a charged cell phone in an easily accessible place. However, having an emergency fall device is even better. These devices have only one function—summoning professional medical help immediately. They also have a much longer battery life and are much easier for many older adults to use. Some of these devices may even be connected to insurance programs that can help pay for the equipment.

We hope some of these ideas will keep you or a loved one from spending some unpleasant hours alone on the floor or ground with no access to food, water or a bathroom. Stay tuned for the third and final installment in this series where we look at how to regain strength and confidence when not breaking your fall ends up damaging part of your body.

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

The Landing’s “Aunt Mina” Celebrates her 105Th Birthday in Grand Style

You can’t blame The Landing at Behrman Place for not having enough candles to put on Mina Kaiser’s birthday cake last week. After all, it’s not every day a resident turns 105. And by the time they could get all of those candles lit, it wouldn’t be her birthday anymore.

Of course, when you get to be Mina’s age, you’re entitled to extend the celebration somewhat, and that’s exactly what she did – celebrating with her nieces and nephews on the 22nd (her actual birthday) and partying with her fellow Sunshine residents the next day – both at The Landing.

That’s right. We said, “nieces and nephews,” not “children and grandchildren.” Although she was married to Russell Kaiser for more than 30 years, the couple never had children. But the children of her beloved sisters, Ruth (Thomann), Violet (Wertheimer), Ethel (Oechsner Howe) and Olga (Foley) treat Mina like their own mother, especially since she’s the last remaining survivor of the siblings.

Actually, all of the siblings were survivors in the true sense of the word. Ethel was the oldest of the Oeschner children, born in 1907 and Mina was the youngest of the five girls, born in 1914 – all of them in New Orleans. A younger brother named George was born in 1916. Sadly, their mother died during an influenza epidemic in 1917, but their father kept the family together with the help of his sister and the nuns at the Episcopal Girls Home.

As the girls came of age, they attended the Soule’ Business College in New Orleans, where they each learned a trade. Mina enjoyed sewing and studied to become a seamstress, which paved the way for a 35-year career in the lingerie department at Maison Blanche, a well-known department store on Canal Street. With no children to chase around, Mina stayed in shape walking back and forth to work, and she and her sisters loved to go fishing, crabbing and swimming on nearby Lake Pontchartrain.

The Storm of the Century

Fast forward to 2005: Mina, Violet and Ruth were widows and the last three remaining siblings of the family. They each lived in their own homes in the New Orleans area when Hurricane Katrina came through in August, destroying almost everything they owned. Mina was rescued by boat and evacuated to Florida. Thanks to the Red Cross, she was reunited with her sisters three weeks later. With literally no place to go, Mina and her two sisters found their way to The Landing in February of 2006, where they shared a two-bedroom apartment.

“The Golden Girls,” as they became known, loved living together at The Landing. It’s safe to say the food and activities were far more enjoyable than what they grew up with at the Episcopal Girls Home.

Eventually, Ruth passed away at the ripe age of 100 in 2009 and Violet succumbed just a month before her 100th birthday a couple of years later. Mina, however, just keeps on going with the help of her caregivers Joyce Williams and Sabrina Carney.

“Ms. Mina is a fighter,” says Joyce, who has taken care of Mina for the last five years. “She just takes it one day at a time, eats well and doesn’t take any medicine. She keeps up on things by reading the paper and watching TV.”

“It was great to have so many family members together at The Landing for Aunt Mina’s 105th,” said Christine Landry, Mina’s niece. “She didn’t dance like she did at her 100th birthday. But she loved the pork chop dinner, the Gentilly cake, the flowers, the balloons, and all the attention.”

In honor of her 105th birthday, the New Orleans City Council created a special proclamation for Aunt Mina. But having her at The Landing makes every day special for us.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, October, 2019.

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