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Tips for Seniors to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up rested are important and help maintain concentration, memory and focus at any age, especially as we age. Sleep not only refreshes us mentally; it also refreshes our immune system. Getting a solid seven to nine hours of sleep every night is important for adults but the way you feel upon waking—and feeling rested throughout the day—are good indicators of whether or not you’re getting the restful sleep you need for optimal quality of life.

Sleep patterns in seniors
Due to hormonal changes, older adults may notice changes in their sleep patterns such as waking up earlier in the morning or getting sleepy earlier in the evening. Other seniors may find themselves becoming “light sleepers.” While these changes are normal with aging and are relatively easy to adapt to, insomnia, disturbed sleep or waking up tired all the time are not normal and can affect health and well-being. Insufficient sleep can lead to depression or irritability, memory and attention issues, and may increase risk of certain health problems.

Sleep disruptions are not a normal part of aging, so it’s important for seniors to identify the underlying causes. These may be:

  • Emotional or psychological – Feeling stressed or anxious, or dealing with a significant life change or traumatic experience. Some ways to combat stress are to keep a journal, listen to calming music, do puzzles, and stay in touch with friends or relatives.
  • Medical – Chronic or emergent pain, and certain chronic conditions may make it difficult to fall asleep or cause you to wake up several times during the night. These may be sleep apnea, asthma, diabetes, heartburn, or arthritis to name a few. Medications may also be a factor.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Being too sedentary and not getting enough exercise during the day inhibit restful sleep. The same goes for spending too much time indoors with a lack of sunlight.
    • If you can, take a walk outside, do chair Zumba or arm & leg exercises
    • Open the shades during the day to let in the sunlight, or use a light therapy box.
    • Avoid daytime naps so that you are more tired in the evening.
  • Diet – Some sleep-friendly dietary measures are:
    • Limit intake of coffee/tea or chocolate late in the day (these all contain caffeine that will stimulate your system rather than invite sleep).
    • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime, as this disrupts sleep
    • Reduce your consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates – fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains are better for everyone
    • Avoid a big meal or spicy food just before you go to bed (indigestion!)
    • Limit your liquid intake about an hour or so before bedtime
  • Sleep environment/habits – Maintain consistent sleep hours, and keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
    • If you are sensitive to noise, earplugs or a white noise machine are helpful, and a sleep mask can keep out light that may cause sleep problems.
    • Turn off the TV before bedtime
    • Don’t use backlit devices such as tablets or e-readers before bedtime; the artificial light can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes your sleepy. Using a supplemental low-wattage lamp at your bedside will help with this if you are a late-night reader.
    • Mindfulness meditation and deep breathing are excellent ways to induce relaxation.

Making small changes from the list above can help improve your sleep experience if you’re having trouble sleeping or are not feeling rested when you wake up. Of course, if problems persist, please consult your medical professional to make sure underlying or chronic conditions are not causing issues.

Trends and Benefits of Technology for Seniors

Seniors—a generation that’s seen telephones become palm-sized devices and computers go from filling a room to fitting in a pouch—are using today’s technology in many ways, from staying in touch with loved ones to managing their health.

Smartphone ownership has risen among older adults ages 65 and up; today, about half who own cellphones have some type of smartphone, up from 23% in 2013. Internet use among older adults has risen to nearly 70%; and e-readers and tablets, and the use of social media, are also growing in popularity among seniors.

Here’s a look at how some technology is benefiting elders.

Senior safety
For seniors who take several prescription medications a day, it can be challenging to keep track of medications. One way in which technology helps is with smartphone apps and wearables for medication management and health tracking. Reminders and alerts are available, and these apps can also help prevent medication errors. And, we are all aware of the emergency alert systems that summon assistance in our buildings at the push of a button on one’s pendant. There are also other devices are available to monitor heart health, activity, and location to keep users safe.

Voice-activated devices and smart homes are also helping keep older adults safe, especially as mobility issues arise. These devices can turn lights on and off and adjust thermostats; in private homes, they can also turn the lawn sprinklers on and off.

Socializing
Staying socially active is as important as being mentally or physically active as we age. The emergence of Skype and similar video and audio chat programs are helping seniors stay in touch with family member across the country and around the world. Social media adoption is rising as grandparents want to stay abreast of their grandchildren’s accomplishments and enjoy photos of friends and family.

There are a few social media networks specifically for seniors. The stated goal of Stitch is to help seniors find peers with similar interests. Those seeking a roommate can go on the Gold Girls Network, and video-based virtual senior centers are available.

Active minds and bodies
Computer games help keep older minds agile. Of course, in our JCHC communities, there are many activities already programmed into each week, and for those who enjoy some screen time, there are many games one can play alone or with other online participants, such as jigsaw puzzles, mahjong or Scrabble.

JCHC residents enjoy weekly exercise classes but there’s always room for some additional physical activity revolving around technology. For those with grandchildren who own video game systems like Wii or PlayStation, a visit with family could include a fun round of virtual tennis, bowling, golf, and other ways to stay physically active.

Residents in all our JCHC senior living communities have access to computers in the libraries or computer rooms, where they enjoy using It’s Never2Late, a computer program designed specifically for older adults. Residents can browse the internet, send and receive email, play computer games, use Facebook, explore distant lands, and more.

Whether living in their private homes or in a senior living community, there are many opportunities for seniors to enjoy and benefit from technology. A quick internet search will yield many results for devices and programs to keep older adults engaged, socializing and safe.

Winter Exercise Tips for Seniors

We all need exercise at any age, and the National Institute of Aging recommends at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity in your routine every day.

Physical activity helps older adults improve and maintain balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. But when the winter comes, it’s not easy to get outside for those brisk walks or a leisurely bike ride. Between the colder temperatures, snow and ice, many seniors take their exercise indoors for safety and comfort. Here are some ways to keep active this season.

Dancing. Whether ballet or foxtrot, dancing keeps minds and bodies healthy. You can dance alone, with a partner or in a group, and enjoy music at the same time. Ballet steps and poses have been shown to improve posture and dancing in general is a great way to enjoy social time with friends. As with any form of exercise—particularly as we get older—it’s important to stretch and warm up beforehand, and be careful not to overdo it.

Yoga. This popular form of exercise, combined with elements of mindfulness, is a wonderful year-round activity. It’s gentle, quiet, and low impact and you can do yoga in a chair. Yoga is said to increase flexibility, help improve balance and strength, and lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Poses can be easily modified to avoid injury or to accommodate physical needs or restrictions, while still providing great benefit. Several JCHC communities offer yoga and balance & mindfulness classes for residents to work on their balance, stretching, and stress reduction.

Gym workouts. Weight-bearing exercise is good for bone health and a light cardio workout is important for young and old alike. Treadmills, stair climbers, recumbent bikes, weight machines, and more provide many options for maintaining muscle tone and cardiac health. Working with a personal trainer or instructor will ensure you are using the equipment properly and are handling the right weights for your level of fitness and ability. Lester Senior Living in Whippany and Village Apartments in South Orange have nicely equipped fitness rooms with a variety of equipment and space for exercise classes.

Swimming. This low-impact form of exercise improves balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength. Senior aquacise is a popular and fun swim class. Moving gently in the water can provide benefit for seniors who have limited mobility, and water exercise may be helpful for those with arthritis or joint pain.

Walking. Walking outdoors gives you fresh air along with the exercise but indoor walking is a fine way to keep moving. Make sure you wear sneakers or comfortable walking shoes, that the area is well lit, and that the track or route is free of trip hazards. Mall walking with a small group is popular—many shopping malls have early hours before the stores open for mall walkers. Find out if a local community center or senior center has an indoor walking track or an area suitable to walk. Residents at Jewish Federation Plaza in West Orange enjoy walking the Promenade, which connects the buildings.

Benefits of exercise for seniors
Regular exercise activities such as those noted above are key factors in helping prevent falls. Exercise that strengthens and tones muscles, improves mental state and alertness, and keeps bodies more limber will enhance one’s balance.

Aerobic exercise (such as using a treadmill or bike, or swimming) is good for the heart and lungs, and improves oxygen flow which is good for the brain as well. Incorporating arm movements into walking helps pump up the workout.

Simple stretching—before or during an exercise class—helps combat the loss of elasticity many older adults deal with, which decreases range of motion. Staying limber helps one perform many daily tasks—think of how many times we reach for things every day.

Regardless of what type of exercise you enjoy, make sure it’s comfortable and suited to your abilities, and remember to listen to your body. It’s good to challenge yourself somewhat but don’t push yourself too hard—it’s not a competition!

National Assisted Living Week: Assisted Living with Creative Flair

National Assisted Living Week (NALW) takes place every September and at Lester Senior Living, our residents embrace it with great enthusiasm. We celebrated every day in our Weston Assisted Living Residence from Sunday, September 8 through Friday, September 13.

Thanks to our community life coordinator, Keisha McDonald, the week is always filled with great programs aligned with the year’s theme. This year, it was “Spark of Creativity” and featured daily ways in which our residents could express their creativity. All programs were open to everyone throughout the community with one exception: a special all-white dinner party for our Weston residents.

The week kicked off with Movies & Mimosas and a screening of the film, “Woman in Gold.” On Monday, the Heller multi-purpose room became an art studio for those who like to paint, and we enjoyed musical entertainment by David Elgart. Continuing the art theme on Tuesday, residents attended an art lecture titled, “Impressionists: The Rebels of Their Time.”

That evening was the “Diner en Blanc,” an all-white dinner party for seniors in our Weston Assisted Living Residence, which was just beautiful. The Weston dining room was decorated with white ostrich feather centerpieces, white balloons, and crisp white table linens. Residents wore all white, sipped on sauvignon blanc wine, and feasted on an elegant meal. Everyone was in good spirits, buoyed by live entertainment by Frank Musumici. It was a great evening!

Our seniors were on a creative roll for the remainder of the week with an improvisation acting class, a decoupage class, a trip to the Morris Museum, and “We’ve Got Talent,” the Lester talent show. This multi-faceted event showcased the many talented residents who call Lester Senior Living their home and it was so much fun. The broad range of talent in our community is really something to behold. The talent included:

  • Songs performed by members of the JCHC Resident Choir as well as some soloists
  • Artwork on display
  • A dance routine
  • Comedy acts
  • Poetry readings

Our talented lineup included David Rozen, admissions and marketing manager at Lester Senior Living, who played guitar and sang “Sunrise, Sunset” to everyone’s delight, and musical entertainment by Mitchell Goldberg, JCHC’s Regional Director of Dining Services. You can see pictures from NALW and other programs our residents enjoy on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/LesterSeniorLiving.

These activities and many others on our monthly calendar are among the ways we support healthy minds and bodies, cater to a diverse range of interests, and promote an active lifestyle at Lester. We invite anyone who is interested in learning more to contact David Rozen at davidr@richardc95.sg-host.com or 973-929-2725 to arrange a tour-or reserve a spot at our next open house on Wednesday, October 23 (3:00 to 5:00 p.m.) and discover what the Lester lifestyle is all about.

Pet Therapy Brings Comfort and Joy to Seniors

Leo the therapy shih tzu loves when his owner, Sandy Stoll, brings him for visits with residents at Jewish Federation Plaza.

There are many benefits of canine therapy in for seniors. While people often think of the furry therapists as visiting hospitals, rehab centers and nursing homes, many do not realize that older adults in senior living communities also benefit from these visits.

Science has proven that interaction with gentle, friendly pets:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Enhances mood
  • Diminishes physical pain
  • Produces a relaxation response
  • Increases socialization, decreases feelings of isolation

Why animal therapy works
Spending time bonding with an animal produces serotonin in the brain—the hormone that makes us feel good or happy—along with other chemicals that foster a sense of calm. Whether it’s stroking or brushing out an animal’s fur, giving a treat (and getting grateful puppy eyes looking back), or simply sitting together (perhaps with a dog’s head or paw in one’s lap), those moments are quite beneficial for older adults.

Pets are non-judgmental and are quite empathic—they sense a person’s moods (and often know whom to approach in the room in order to provide comfort); and service dogs sense changes in heart rate or other physical markers. Pet therapists also play a role in reducing the agitation and confusion associated with sundowning in people with dementia.

Although animals don’t communicate with us verbally, their gentle manner and acceptance can be soothing to people who may have trouble communicating with language. Interacting with a pet therapy animal can also help get seniors talking about their own pets from long ago, providing opportunities for socialization and sharing stories with each other.

At the JCHC, residents in our communities enjoy periodic visits from canine therapists and enjoy connecting with these loving animals. Given the beautiful interactions, these visits are clearly a treat for both humans and dogs.

Tips for Seniors to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

Photo credit: soc7 on pixabay

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is a common issue—and major health problem—among many older adults. High blood pressure can lead to other dangerous conditions in the kidney, the eye, and heart. It can be controlled with medication and by adopting a healthier lifestyle. But what exactly constitutes and causes high blood pressure in seniors?

Blood pressure measures the force of one’s blood pushing against the artery walls. That inflatable cuff and the stethoscope are checking your systolic and diastolic pressure—the first being the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood and the second when the heart relaxes and fills with blood. Your blood pressure is typically read and records as systole over diastole; a normal number for adults is under 120/80.

As we age, the chance for high blood pressure increases due to changes in our vascular system. Men are more likely to have hypertension before age 55 and women after menopause.

What’s a normal blood pressure reading?
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology now define hypertension for most adults as 130 or higher for the first number and 80 or higher for the second number. There are different kinds of hypertension, depending on which way those systole and diastole numbers go from there. However, everyone is different, so a medical evaluation of one’s overall health and fitness is a good first step in diagnosing and addressing high blood pressure. If you are feeling lightheaded upon standing quickly or are short of breath during light physical activity, you should be checked for hypertension right away.

Conversely, hypotension is low blood pressure (lower than 90/60); it is often caused by dehydration, blood loss, medications, or a medical condition. With the heat of summer upon us, we remind everyone to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You might not feel thirsty, per se, but your body is feeling it in other ways.

Controlling blood pressure in seniors
There are some ways you can keep your blood pressure in the healthy range:

  • Adopt a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. A low-salt DASH diet might also help; it encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. Read the labels on all processed foods, which often contain high levels of sodium.
  • Watch your weight!
  • Moderate your alcohol consumption – alcohol can affect blood pressure (and puts on weight).
  • Get some moderate exercise every day, whether it’s walking the halls, taking it slow but steady on the treadmill or exercise bike, taking a Zumba™ Gold class, or doing some chair yoga. (Make sure your physician clears you for exercise before getting started.)
  • Don’t smoke – quitting at any age is better than risking hypertension, heart disease, or stroke.
  • Get enough sleep
  • Relax and manage stress

Also be sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you are taking, which could affect blood pressure.

Remember: You could feel absolutely fine but have early signs of hypertension you are not aware of. Therefore, routine blood pressure checks are wise for seniors to do, in order to detect a rise in pressure that may require you to change your diet, engage in exercise (mindfulness & meditation classes can do wonders!), or perhaps take prescription medication.

Keeping our seniors healthy at the JCHC
Residents at the JCHC communities are doing their part by participating in our weekly exercise classes, which include balance, mindfulness & meditation, and physical exercise; residents at Village Apartments and Lester Senior Living are using the equipment in the communities’ fitness centers; and at Jewish Federation Plaza, walking club members enjoy cruising the promenade that connects the buildings. We also encourage everyone who is able to get out during the early morning or late afternoon hours to enjoy a walk in the fresh air and sunshine—it’s good for the body and the soul!

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Seniors

In the 1990s, brain research showed that a stimulated mind promotes a healthy brain and helps us retain mental alertness as we age. In fact, scientists discovered that even an aging brain can grow new connections and pathways when challenged and stimulated. It appears that learning new skills or taking up new hobbies can help boost memory and improve quality of life.

  • In 2001, a research study by neurologists at Case Western Reserve University found that seniors who engaged in mentally challenging or intellectually stimulating activities were 2.5 times less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A similar study at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School also found that seniors who enjoyed higher levels of intellectual stimulation throughout their lifetimes had a marked delay in the onset of memory problems and dementia-related symptoms.
  • Researchers in the U.K. found that reading lowers stress levels, slows heart rate and eases muscle tension. Reduced stress is significant because it decreases blood pressure, reduces risk of stroke or heart attack, boosts immunity, and lowers levels of depression.

Our retirement years present an excellent opportunity to take advantage of free time to learn about subjects of long-time interest or learn something new. It is no longer unusual for older adults to advance their education by attending and graduating college or pursuing a graduate degree. Enriching and stimulating one’s mind and overall outlook on life is what lifelong learning is all about.

In addition to keeping brains more nimble, certain lifelong learning activities keep the body active, such as creative arts or mindfulness programs. Lifelong learning programs also offer opportunities to socialize, whether those happen during discussion groups, educational field trips or arts presentations with like-minded individuals.

Community colleges, senior centers, and others offer many classes for seniors, who can explore topics of interest through survey courses and seminars. Lucky for our residents, the JCHC also offers a variety of enriching educational and enrichment programs right in our senior living communities. These include:

  • Creative arts classes – poetry and memoir writing, fine arts, and floral art
  • JCHC University – this past semester, courses were taught by college-level instructors who covered politics and government, literature, the arts, critical thinking, and family dynamics in the Torah
  • Art appreciation lectures and cultural presentations
  • Field trips to area museums and attraction
  • Lifelong Learning – a program run by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest’s Joint Chaplaincy Committee in partnership with the JCHC

Lifelong Learning was conceived and launched in 2011 by Jay Murnick, a past president of the JCHC board of trustees, to provide continued Jewish learning to our seniors on a variety of Jewish-themed topics. The weekly educational program, which changes every year, is taught by community teachers, rabbis, and cantors. Every year; participating seniors study Jewish texts and discuss a variety of topics that interest them.

In addition, our communities offer discussion groups about current affairs and other areas of interest, and various clubs that enable our residents to broaden their horizons or participate in activities they’ve long enjoyed. From mindfulness to knitting to walking, we’re always finding ways to keep our seniors active in mind and body at the JCHC.

Eat Your Peas & Carrots! The Importance of Good Nutrition at Every Age

photo: Alexandr PodvalnyEven the most active of older adults may find it difficult to keep up with creating and eating nutritious meals. There are many reasons, such as trouble chewing, decreased sense of taste or smell, dietary restrictions due to physical conditions, medication side effects, mobility issues (hard to shop or cook), or feeling isolated or lonely. However, as we age, a well-balanced, varied and nutritious diet is vitally important to help maintain not only physical health but cognitive health as well.

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the key to getting all the important vitamins and minerals; B vitamins, Vitamin D, calcium, and potassium are especially important. Fresh produce is more nutritionally beneficial than canned or frozen counterparts (although those will do in a pinch), can be seasoned in countless ways, and adds wonderful color and fiber to meals. Including a variety of high-fiber foods every day (whole grains are in that category) also helps you improve digestion, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of heart problems by moderating blood pressure and lowering high cholesterol.

There are several health maintenance nutritional programs recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

  • For people ages 50 and older, the USDA food patterns suggests eating 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit (such as a two-inch peach or 1/4 cup of dried fruit) and 2 to 3.5 cups of vegetables (this is measuring uncooked leafy vegetables) every day.
  • The USDA Food Guide MyPlate Plan offers tips for building a healthy, balanced diet, which include making half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • The DASH Diet is designed to help reduce blood pressure and emphasizes foods that are heart healthy. It recommends daily serving amounts of 2 to 2.5 cups each of vegetables and fruit.
  • Avoid high-calorie/low-nutrient foods such as chips, cookies, soda, and alcohol (of course, an occasional treat is always fun).
  • Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat (especially saturated and trans fats).
  • Eat together. Make meals a social event you look forward to. Research suggests that people eat better when they are in the company of others. Whether at an Oneg Shabbat, dinner, or lunch with friends or family, social meals are happier meals for everyone around the table.

In cold weather, vegetable soups are a great way to fill up with good-for-you ingredients, and adding legumes, beef or chicken for protein makes for a well-rounded meal in a bowl. (At Lester Senior Living, our homemade soups are so popular, we stock them in our General Store so residents can enjoy them any time in their apartments.) Working with a nutritionist can help provide easy-to-follow guidelines to ensure you’re getting what you need to stay healthy. Some physical exercise is also important, whether it’s walking at a comfortable pace for some distance, chair yoga, or working out in the gym.

If you’re thinking of a retirement community and want to sample the dining options at Lester Senior Living, we invite you to contact David Rozen about our Friends & Neighbors weekday program or take advantage of a short-term respite stay in our assisted living residence. These both enable guests to sample delicious, glatt kosher meals with residents in our elegant dining rooms. Contact David at (973) 929-2725 or davidr@richardc95.sg-host.com.

Lester Senior Living is located at 903-905 Route 10 East on the Alex Aidekman Family Campus of the Jewish Federation in Whippany. The distinctive retirement community offers independent and assisted living as well as memory care options for seniors, ages 62+. For more information visit www.jchcorp.org.

A Chance to Plant the Seeds for Future Generations of Our Seniors

With the calendar year ending and tax planning on many people’s minds, it’s a good time to remind our residents, their families and our supporters about JCHC’s Circle of Life legacy giving program.

This philanthropic opportunity enables anyone to make an after-lifetime gift to the JCHC that will support our future residents’ needs and enrich their lives for generations to come.

Making a pledge now to the Circle of Life is a beautiful way to create a lasting legacy and reflect how our communities have touched lives. Your pledge plants the seeds of meaningful tzedakah and anyone of any means can do so. There are several ways in which to make a legacy donation, including:

  • Bequest in your will
  • Designation from a life insurance policy or retirement plan
  • Charitable remainder trust
  • Estate or business interest

To date, 20 individuals have pledged to our Circle of Life with planned gifts in excess of $50,000. Pledging any amount to the JCHC’s Circle of Life legacy program will help us fulfill our mission to always provide high-quality senior housing with services that enhance our residents’ lives. You’ll be making a lasting impact with your testamentary gift and by donating to the JCHC, a non-profit organization, your estate will be making a charitable tax-advantaged contribution.

As you sit down with your tax or estate planning professional, we invite you to discuss how becoming a Circle of Life legacy donor can make a difference to your estate and our residents and support what is important to you. To learn more, visit www.jchcorp.org/legacyprogram or contact Harold Colton-Max at haroldc@richardc95.sg-host.com or (973) 530-3961.

Tips for Seniors on Staying Safe in Summer Heat

As June came to an end, much of the United States was stuck in an oppressive heat wave; in fact, cities as far north as Montreal were experiencing extreme heat and humidity. Being the summer, this won’t be the last heat wave.

Exposure to heat can result in heat-related illnesses, especially for seniors, whose bodies are less able to regulate their temperatures and cool themselves. When our bodies heat rapidly or when we lose fluids and salt 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. Older adults can also be more sensitive to sun.

Warning signs of heat-related illnesses
Heat exhaustion is typified as dehydration due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. 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? You are wise to consult with your medical practitioner about optimal fluid intake and medication management during periods of extreme heat. If you are in an assisted living environment, the nursing staff and medication aides can help.

Staying safe in high heat
These simple precautions can keep seniors safe during the year’s hottest months.

  • Stay in the shade when possible
  • Stay indoors during the hottest part 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 50)
  • Stay hydrated – 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.

Staying cool indoors
Even when indoors during very hot weather, it is important to stay hydrated, especially if the air conditioning is not working or if you are keeping it 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 your body). Visit a local cooling center if you are out and about or need access to air conditioned spaces: public libraries, senior centers, shopping malls, movie theaters, and community centers.

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, frozen grapes or berries, and frozen peas.
  • Choose light, cold meals over hot, heavy dishes. Think salads—grain or pasta, tuna, egg and tossed—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, bath, or washcloth wipe-down is also effective, especially when the water is just below body temperature.
  • Sit with your feet in a pan of cool (not cold) water.

If you are still in your own home, it’s advisable that you have someone call or check on you 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 to call for help when you need it.

Of course, if you reside in a senior living community, you’ll have access to cool spaces, plenty of refreshing beverages, an emergency call system, and peers and a helpful staff to look in on you or lend assistance. That’s just one reason why so many seniors choose independent or assisted living options at JCHC communities. We’re happy to tell you about all the other reasons at Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation in South Orange and Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany. Contact us for more information and a tour.

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