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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!

The Benefits of In-Town Independent Living at Village Apartments

Imagine having a range of activities to indulge in right at home . . . yet be just blocks away from a quaint walking downtown with plenty to see and do, and town conveniences close by. It’s the type of retirement living many older adults are seeking today, in a rental community that offers programs, activities, and on-site amenities geared to an active lifestyle.

Residents at Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation enjoy the benefits of an independent lifestyle in a comfortable community with plenty happening right on site—and within walking distance of vibrant downtown South Orange Village.

The rental community is in the heart of South Orange but there’s always something happening right at home. There’s a full monthly schedule of creative arts and cultural programs, lectures, exercise classes, movies, outings and more. Every week, there are opportunities to try something new with neighbors.

Residents are enjoying the new multi-purpose community room with its computer lab, fitness center, movie screening area and fireside lounge area; they can also grab a good book from the community library (or head over to the South Orange Public Library); or attend a lecture, hear some good music, or create an art project. In nice weather, the colorfully landscaped courtyard is a popular place to congregate and relax. And, with optional kosher meals three afternoons a week, residents have opportunities to chat over delicious food as well.

Village Apartments is a short walk or drive to the South Orange Performing Arts Center and public transportation to New York. Residents can meet friends at a bistro, browse the boutiques and run their daily errands with ease. Plus, the South Orange Jitney is available to take residents to the downtown area and Village Apartments offers transportation to local shopping and other destinations.

Area seniors are welcome to join residents for the popular current events discussion group and knitting club that meet at 2:00 and 4:00 on Wednesday afternoons, and cultural and educational programs held on Tuesdays. Check our online calendar for a list of programs and see what’s happening at Village Apartments. You can also see floor plans and read about our new luxury apartments with many contemporary features. For more information contact Site Manager Cheryl Kasye at (973) 763-0999.

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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