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Simple and Effective Health Tips for Seniors

Staying healthy isn’t just about living longer, it’s about living better too. Keeping active as we age is directly linked to maintaining our quality of life, as well as fighting mental and physical conditions that could limit our abilities. Unfortunately, it can become more and more of a challenge as we get older with family responsibilities, mobility issues, stress and lack of motivation. With that being said, our senior living teams at the JCHC communities have put together a list of tips to keep seniors healthy and motivated. 

  1. Find an activity your loved one enjoys: Dad is far more likely to stick with an activity he enjoys, so take some time to explore options with him. Preferably, an option that you both could do together. For example, if he loved hiking back in the day, then regular nature walks with him or other senior friends is a perfect choice. Not to mention, staying active with a family member or friend is a great way to stay accountable and motivated. 
  2. Don’t forget about mental exercise: Staying active isn’t just about physical health – mental fitness is just as important. Have your loved one learn to play bridge, compete in crossword competitions and indulge in Sudoku, as they are ideal games to challenge and strengthen the brain.
  3. Manage your stress levels: Stress is well known for negatively affecting our mental and physical well-being, so finding an effective outlet to release stress is a good way to keep your loved one’s health on track. Many seniors come to find that fast-paced physical exercise helpful, while others prefer something more relaxing and low-impact like meditation or yoga. Occasional social engagements with the people they love and enjoy is also a great way for your senior parent to release stress as well.
  4. Good nutrition: It’s never too late to develop good eating habits! Proper nutrition can help fight a wide range of issues seniors often struggle with, from helping to control weight, osteoporosis, blood pressure and diabetes, to reducing your risk of heart disease.
  5. Annual checkups: Regular checkups are key to senior health. Make sure you stay in control of Mom’s health issues and deal with any emerging conditions effectively. Your top priorities should include her primary care physician, eye doctor and dentist, as well as any specialists she requires.
  6. Take preventative measures: Falls are among the most common reasons for seniors needing medical treatment. As we get older, it often becomes harder to heal and bounce back from injuries. Although staying physically healthy is an ideal way to combat this, removing hazards in your loved one’s home is vital to preventing injuries in the first place. Rugs that can be tripped over, stairs, poor lighting and bathrooms without grab bars are good examples of hazards which should be dealt with head-on.

Lester Assisted Living, for a Healthy Life 

Lester is an assisted living community dedicated to helping older adults live full, happy and healthy lives. With an active community spirit, spacious apartments, great exercise programs and support services designed to maximize independence, we’re a welcoming space for seniors to really feel at home. 

For more information about our assisted living and senior exercise programs in NJ, please contact us today to schedule a tour or visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org

 

Dark Chocolate Recipe to Benefit Senior Health

You have probably heard the age-old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but has anyone ever told you that a sweet treat, like dark chocolate, could improve your health as well?

Studies suggest that eating raw unprocessed cocoa, a natural rich source of flavanols, can positively increase energy levels, raise exercise stamina, and improve other measures of heart health in inactive older adults. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that cocoa flavanols, found in dark chocolate, can relax the arteries, decreasing blood pressure; increase blood flow to the brain, improving memory and thinking skills; and suppress the production of stress hormones, thus decreasing stress and improving one’s mood.

Now before you go to devour an entire box of chocolates, you need to be aware that most chocolate companies remove the many antioxidants that would provide any health benefit. Since most people find the flavanols very bitter and undesirable, they are removed during processing.

If you are interested in adding chocolate into your healthy lifestyle, look for non-alkalized dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa content or higher. The higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants the chocolate contains. And while most dark chocolate contains added sugar, make sure it is not the main ingredient. Lastly, it is recommended to limit your cocoa intake to one ounce a day — just enough to curb your sweet tooth.

If you want to enjoy chocolate without the guilt, how about treating yourself to some dark chocolate dipped apples? Here’s a JCHC signature recipe from our culinary trained chefs in Morris County

Dark Chocolate Dipped Apples Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples
  • 1 bag 70% dark chocolate melting chips
  • 4 cups total of the topping(s) of your choice: crushed peanuts, toasted coconut, almonds, walnuts, sea salt… just to name a few. 

Instructions:

  1. Dry apples completely before beginning. Poke a stick in the bottom of the apple. Make sure to only go a little more than halfway through the apples with the stick.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.
  3. Roll the apple in the melted chocolate, making sure to only coat each apple once.
  4. Roll the chocolate covered apple in the topping(s) of your choice. 
  5. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Repeat the process for the remaining 5 apples.
  7. Put the baking sheet with the finished apples in the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least one hour before enjoying! 

For more information about our culinary trained chefs on-site in Morris County, please contact Lester Senior Living today: (973) 929-2725. You could also visit our website to learn more about what it’s like to live in a JCHC senior community: https://jchcorp.org/

 

5 Essential Morning Stretches for Seniors

Stretching in the morning can do wonders for arthritis and joint pain. Committing to daily morning stretches along with a warm shower afterwards will help keep muscles more limber for seniors especially. If you’re not sure what stretches to start with, here’s a list of morning stretches that our senior care team in Morris County, NJ has put together.  

Safety note: Seniors should consult a doctor or primary caregiver before performing any new stretches. If you begin to feel any intense pain during the stretch, slowly return to the starting position and call a medical professional immediately.

1. Overhead Side Stretch – Loosens up muscles in your core 

Suggested Repetitions: Hold 15-30 seconds per side. Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Then, raise both of your arms overhead and interlace your fingers with your palms facing up. Now, slightly lean to the right and hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat with the left side.

2. Shoulder Stretch – Targets joint pain in shoulders 

Suggested Repetitions: Hold 15-30 seconds per side. Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Then, reach your right arm across your body, so that your fingertips are pointing to the left. Make sure to keep your arm as straight as you can. Next, place your left hand on your upper right arm and gently pull your arm towards you. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and then repeat with your left arm. 

3. Triceps Stretch – Strengthens triceps muscles

Suggested Repetitions: Hold 15-30 seconds per side. Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Then, raise both of your arms overhead and bend your right arm so it rests behind your head. Next, place your left hand above your right elbow and gently pull your right arm closer. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and then repeat with your left arm.

4. Hamstring Stretch – Targets joint pain in legs, lower back

Suggested Repetitions: 5 times per leg. Place your right heel on a bench in front of you, with your right leg straight and toes pointing up. Without slouching over, gently hinge forward from your hips until you feel a comfortable stretch in your right hamstring.  Hold this position for about 15-30 seconds and then repeat with the left leg. Alternate this stretch 5 times with each leg. 

5. Towel Squeeze – Targets arthritis pain in hands

Suggested Repetitions: 10-15 times per hand. Grab a small hand towel that is rolled up. Take the towel in your right hand and squeeze. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then alternate to the left hand, taking a quick rest in between. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each hand.

Senior Stretches at Lester Senior Living, NJ

Here at Lester Senior Living, our fitness instructors are available every morning to guide morning stretches for our senior residents. If you’re a beginner when it comes to stretching and working out, there’s no need to panic! Our instructors can easily modify the stretch to accommodate your fitness level and provide extra support during the stretch if needed. 

For more information on our morning stretches, or to learn more about the fitness services offered at the Lester Senior Living community in Morris County, NJ, please give us a call today or visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/assisted-living-morris-county-nj/

 

Simple Recipe for Savory Potato Kugel

Who doesn’t like kugel? Especially a savory kugel with baked potatoes. For those who might not know, kugel can be compared to a baked “pudding” that is usually prepared with noodles or potatoes. This potato kugel recipe from our chefs at the Jewish Community Housing Corporation is so good, that we just can’t keep it to ourselves! If you decide to try it out, leave a comment and let us know how it turns out!   

Potato Kugel Ingredients: 

  • Potatoes (approx. 5 lbs peeled and shredded)
  • Yellow onion (1)
  • Shallots (4)
  • Potato starch (? cup)
  • Vegetable oil (1 cup)
  • Large eggs (5)
  • Egg yolks (2)
  • Olive oil (½ cup)
  • Kosher salt (1 tbsp)
  • Black pepper (½ tsp)
  • Nutmeg (pinch)
  • Boiling water (1 cup)
  • Optional: chives to garnish

Potato Kugel Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating, pour vegetable oil in a mid sized pan and heat until the oil is shimmering. 
  2. Add your shallots to the pan and cook over high heat until they are golden brown and crisp. Then, transfer the shallots to a plate using a slotted spoon. Save the shallot oil for later.
  3. After peeling and shredding the potatoes, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Then, add the chopped yellow onion, potato starch, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir well. 
  4. Next, stir in the whole eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and boiling water, followed by the sauteed shallots from earlier. 
  5. Pour your potato kugel mixture into two 8 by 11 cast-iron baking dishes. Important note: Before pouring the mixture in, heat the two baking dishes and add 2 tablespoons of the shallot oil you saved earlier. 
  6. Let the kugels bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake the kugels for 40 minutes longer. The kugel should appear golden brown and crisp on the sides. 
  7. Preheat the boiler and broil the kugels as close to the heat as possible, until they are golden brown and crisp on top. 
  8. Let the potato kugels cool for 20 minutes before slicing into squares, adding chopped chives on top and enjoying! 

Seniors dine in style in Morris County, NJ  

The culinary trained chefs at Lester Senior Living in NJ love to try out new recipes for our assisted living and independent living residents. Our residents have the option to eat in the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they’d like. Not to mention, the majority of our chef’s recipes can be modified to adhere to dietary restrictions and kosher needs. For more information about senior dining options in Morris County, NJ, please give us a call today. You could also visit our website to learn more about what independent living looks like at Lester Senior Living: https://jchcorp.org/independent-living-new-jersey/

How Seniors Can Avoid Heat Exhaustion

We love the sun, but we hate the heat! Being that it’s summer in NJ, we’ll be sure to see our share of heat waves. Exposure to extreme heat can result in heat-related illnesses, especially for seniors. Their bodies are less able to regulate their temperatures and cool themselves. When our bodies heat rapidly or when we lose fluids due to perspiration or dehydration, common conditions are cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. In some cases, hyperthermia (absorbing more heat than our bodies can handle) is fatal. 

Warning signs of heat-related illnesses

Heat exhaustion is characterized as dehydration due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. The main symptoms include muscle cramps, headache, dizziness, fatigue and confusion.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related condition. Heat stroke is dehydration coupled with the body physically overheating and unable to bring down its own temperature. The most obvious sign is a body temperature of 104° or higher. Other symptoms include distorted mental state, flushed skin, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, and racing pulse.

NOTE: Did you know that certain chronic conditions and medications increase a senior’s risk of heat stroke? Consult with your senior loved one’s primary care physician about optimal fluid intake and medication management during periods of extreme heat. If they are in an assisted living environment, the nursing staff and caregivers onsite can also help.

How seniors can stay safe in the summer heat

These simple precautions can keep seniors safe during the hottest months of the year.

  • Stay in the shade when possible
  • Stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, usually 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing outdoors – hats, sunglasses, light-colored clothing
  • Use sunscreen (SPF 30 with broad spectrum protection)
  • Stay hydrated at all times – drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which dehydrate the body. Don’t rely on feeling thirsty, just drink! Our bodies lose moisture even when we are not sweating heavily.

Tips for seniors to stay cool indoors

Even when indoors during very hot weather, it is important for seniors to stay hydrated, especially if the air conditioning is not working or if it’s kept at a moderate temperature to reduce energy consumption. Fans that circulate the air are somewhat helpful but don’t do enough to help cool down the body. If your senior loved one is out and about on a hot day, tell them to visit a local public place to access air conditioning like public libraries, senior centers, shopping malls, or movie theaters.

Additional indoor cooling tips during periods of extreme heat include:

  • Cool drinks, such as water, iced herbal teas, and lemonade help moderate the body’s temperature and refresh.
  • Wear lightweight layers you can add or take off as needed; cotton and other natural fibers are best because they breathe and won’t trap heat.
  • Eat cool snacks such as frozen ice pops, grapes or berries.
  • Choose light, cold meals over hot, heavy dishes. Think salads—grain or pasta, tuna, egg and tossed salad—over pot roast or lasagna.
  • Place a cool washcloth on the back of your neck; keep a pan of cool water handy to re-cool the towel. Taking a cool shower or bath is also effective.
  • Sit with your feet in a pan of cool (not cold) water.

Seniors stay cool at Lester Senior Living in NJ

If mom or dad is still living in their own home, you should call or check on them often during times of very hot (or cold) weather. It doesn’t take much to feel the effects of heat exhaustion and it may be difficult for them to call for help when they start to need it.

Of course, if mom or dad resides in a senior living community like Lester, they’ll have access to cool spaces, plenty of refreshing beverages, an emergency call system, and helpful staff members to lend assistance if needed. That’s just one reason why so many seniors choose independent or assisted living options at the Lester Senior Living community

To learn more about independent living and assisted living in Morris or Essex County, NJ, contact us today or visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org