Peg’s Perspective– Brain Fitness: Safety and Reciprocity

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip # 9 of 50 – Brain Fitness: Safety and Reciprocity

The Wesley Communities have established a “Brain Fitness” club that consists of members from our three campuses, and the residents attend regular meetings to get updates on state-of-the-art research regarding brain health. It’s good to learn about how to keep our brains “fit,” and how to slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The Brain Fitness club was established in response to rather current research that shows that you can create new and stronger neural pathways in your brain through exercise, proper diet, and a variety of other factors, including a strong social network and learning new things.

Social support is not merely the same thing as being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, and feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. Numerous studies of disaster response have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.

Wesley Glen, Wesley Ridge, and Wesley Woods at New Albany offer “brain fit” opportunities, including good dietary options, exercise and fitness classes, and a variety of activities to stimulate brain activity, learning, and just plain fun.

One of the most popular activities at Wesley Ridge is Chair Volleyball. Ken, a resident at Wesley Ridge, says: “[Chair Volleyball] is the most fun we’ve ever had! … But most of all, we’ve found it a great way to learn a lot of names of the residents in a very short time and we’ve made a lot of friends. We really enjoy being with the people on the volleyball team!

Perhaps the strongest attribute of The Wesley Communities is the element of social support. Many residents at our communities will testify to the fact that it’s never too late to make good friends, and as a result, create the reciprocity that is vital to good mental health.

We call it ‘The Wesley Way’.

Sources: The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

 

 

 


Peg’s Perspective – What’s the key to a long, healthy, and happy life?

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Peg’s Perspective

By:Peg Carmany

Hazel was born in Olathe, Kansas in her family’s farmhouse. Hazel’s parents were hard-working, encouraging people.  She remembers her mother helping all of them to be their very best. “Stand up straight like God intended,” her mother would explain. Hazel was the eighth of nine children in her family.

She attended a one room country school, with only two others in her class. It was a four mile walk each way—except during the winter when the snow was so high they could walk across the fence rows in the pasture, which made the walk a little shorter.

She remembers wearing dresses made of feed sacks with pretty designs when she was very young. But, when she was in the third grade her family moved to Springfield, Missouri. Here, she received a new dress from her mother and had a pencil box with new yellow pencils. She remembers how exciting it was to receive them!

Hazel went on to attend McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. Here, she met and married her husband Bob. They were married for 47 years, and moved to Wesley Glen after Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It became difficult for her to care for him at home, so she knew she needed a helping hand.

Now, Hazel has been living at Wesley Glen for 24 years—since 1994! And, she has a lot of good, practical advice on how to live long, and how to live well!

Here are Hazel’s 5 tips for a long life:

  1. You have to have faith, and be connected to a faithful community. There can be lots of trauma in life, and at times you may say, “Lord I need a broader back.” She tries to not fret about things by trusting in her faith.
  2. Good children and a good family—that really helps! She has two children, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren. They are very good to her and she enjoys their company.
  3. A good diet. She is very conscious of what she eats—no fried foods, no pasta, no butter, very little red meat, and lots of vegetables!
  4. Exercise –she and Bob always kept a big garden, and she’s a faithful walker. Here at Wesley Glen she’s up almost every day by 5 or 5:30 a.m. to head to the workout room and walk two miles on the treadmill.
  5. Positive attitude –Hazel smiles and greets everyone she meets. She volunteers at church and at Wesley Glen. Her impact stretches far and wide!

We are grateful that Hazel lives at Wesley Glen, and appreciate that she practices what she preaches, truly “walking the walk.” She is a fine example of how to live a long and healthy life.


Giving Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing!  A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?

Click above to learn more.


Peg’s Perspective: Human Connection and Mirror Neurons

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Peg’s Perspective:

Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world?   Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear.  But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?

Although you may not be familiar with the term “mirror neurons,” medical research is filled with studies showing that human beings are astoundingly attuned to the emotions and emotional shifts of the other humans around them.   We notice changes in the position of the eyebrow, wrinkles around the eyes, and overall body language that signal to us the other person’s state of mind – comfortable, angry, frightened, happy, suspicious, or relaxed, explains Bessel van der Kolk M.D in his book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Science shows that our internal mirror neurons register what the other person is experiencing, and our own bodies adjust to what the other person is feeling.  That is, we mirror what we’re seeing.  For example, when we receive a message from the other person that “You’re safe with me,” we relax.

So, what is the most important lesson of mirror neurons?   It is this:   surround yourself with people who send you good messages.  Our brains are wired to help us function as members of a tribe.    It is therefore important that we are surrounded by people who support and restore us.   And if you do, your quality of life will soar!

The feeling that you get when you walk into any of The Wesley Communities is perhaps the greatest benefit of our life plan communities.   Here, it’s never too late to make new friends and experience new things with a tribe—who can brighten your spirits on any given day.  Providing an environment to benefit your physical and emotional health is the top priority at our communities.  And one of the ways this occurs is through positive interactions with others.

To learn more about our living options or services, please click here.

Source: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.


Staying Hydrated When It’s Hot!

By: Lisa Kaylor Wolfe

It is important for people of all ages to stay hydrated when it’s hot. But when it comes to seniors, it’s even more vital. As we age, individuals tend to hold less water, which can quickly lead to dehydration, and many times we also lose the ability to perceive how thirsty we truly are. Without this perception of thirst, we often will not drink as much as we once did.

Here are a few tips for staying hydrated, especially in the summer heat:

Don’t wait to experience thirst

As mentioned above, many older adults do not perceive thirst as they once did. But even when they do experience thirst, it is already too late. The effects of dehydration begin before you get the sensation of thirst. The best way to ensure you are drinking water—without relying on thirst as an indicator—is to place reminders on your phone and around your house.  When these reminders go off, or you see that sticky note on your countertop, grab an 8-ounce glass of water.

Another recommendation is for individuals to think of something they do frequently.  For example, many people read, listen to the radio, or watch tv. When a new chapter is reached, or a commercial comes on, let that be a cue to take a sip of water. Sips of water regularly throughout the day help us stay hydrated while avoiding the need to consume large quantities of fluid at once.

Eat your water

Fruits and vegetables often have a high-water content.  Some of the highest include watermelon, cucumbers, and grapefruit.  By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can drink less water while maintaining your fluid intake for the day.

Avoid excess alcohol consumption

A glass or two of wine is generally okay, but drinking alcohol in excess can lead to dehydration. It may lead to excess urine output, and, in severe cases, vomiting, which may all lead to dehydration. When drinking alcohol, have a glass of water before you begin. Then alternate between an alcoholic beverage and a glass of water. Before bed, be sure to have one last glass of water.

If you ever experience symptoms of dehydration, such as dry mouth, headache, dry skin, or dizziness, it is important to seek medical attention.


Our Chef’s Share Their Favorite Recipes

At The Wesley Communities, our residents, staff and family members typically come together over a meal. This time spent together allows everyone to slow down from a busy day. It is a time when people can focus on relationship building, not health concerns or other details of daily life. At the table, friends are made and conversations flourish.

Our communities take pride in serving nourishing meals to our residents and staff during meal time. It’s important to ensure that we all remain as healthy as possible. Here are a few of the foods that we love enjoying together:

Chef Glen’s Turkey Chili

Chef Glen works at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community. He loves serving this Turkey Chili. It’s great comfort food for those cold rainy days!

Chef Kevin’s Mediterranean Salmon

Chef Kevin has served this dish to many people and ‘they all love it,’ he explains. The flavors a great way to switch up your typical dinner menu.

Chef James’s Farro Salad

This salad is the perfect side dish or afternoon snack. It is packed full of nutrients for guilt free enjoyment. Not to mention, it will keep you full longer.

And remember, all of these meals taste better when you are surrounded by those who mean the most to you. So, take a step back from your busy day every once in a while to have a meal with you mom, dad, co-worker or best friend. We bet you’ll enjoy your meal, learn new things, and feel refreshed afterward.

What is your favorite meal to eat with your family?


Liver Disease and Nutrition

The liver serves many purposes in the body, including filtering harmful substances from the blood, producing substances that assist with food digestion, and helping to change food into energy. There are many kinds of liver diseases, such as:

  • Cirrhosis: Scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Build-up of fat in liver cells
  • Bile Duct Disease: Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Bile duct disease keeps bile from flowing into the small intestine where it is utilized.
  • Hepatitis (A), (B) and (C): Disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, or C virus
  • Hemochromatosis: Buildup of iron in the liver (inherited disease)
  • Others can be the result of drugs, poisons, or drinking too much alcohol

Some of the effects of liver disease include weight changes, loss of muscle mass, ascites and/or edema (fluid retention), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine and/or light-colored stools, fatigue or loss of stamina, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, altered taste perception, and/or signs/symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, alterations in calorie, protein, fluid, fat, vitamins or minerals may be recommended. For most liver diseases, a healthy diet will make it easier for the liver to function and may help repair some liver damage.

In general, it is important to:

  • Limit high sodium foods
  • Avoid foods that may cause foodborne illness such as:
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
    • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat enough food to obtain adequate calories, vitamins, and minerals.

How can these changes be made?

  • It may be easier to eat several small meals throughout the day (4-6) as opposed to a few large ones.
  • Look for no-sodium or low-sodium versions of foods you like to eat, such as crackers, cheese, canned vegetables, or soups.
  • Avoid overly processed foods, as these tend to be higher in sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar, oils, juice, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Between meals, enjoy healthy snacks, such as:
    • Fruits and vegetables with dip, whole milk, yogurt, cereal, bagels, roasted nuts, and peanut butter.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.


Diverticulosis and Nutrition

Diverticulosis is a chronic condition where there are sac-like pouches protruding from the large intestine. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is then known as diverticulitis.

The most commonly suspected cause of diverticulosis is a low fiber diet. Consuming low fiber can lead to constipation, which can make it difficult to pass stool and lead to straining. This straining can put pressure on the colon, which may lead to the development of the sac-like pouches. Individuals with diverticulosis should consume a high fiber diet to prevent constipation. A high fiber diet should include an additional 6 to 10 grams of fiber beyond what is typically recommended (25 to 35 grams a day). Foods high in fiber include:

  • Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, and other grains
  • Fruits such as prunes, apples, bananas, and pears
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit and vegetables with skin/peel on
  • Beans, peas, and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, crackers, and cereal Previous recommendations include avoidance of nuts, seeds, and hulls. There is no evidence to show this contributes to the development of diverticulitis, therefore the current nutrition recommendations focus on increased fiber.

When the sac-like pouches become inflamed or infected, your doctor may recommend no foods by mouth to allow your large intestine to rest. As you begin eating foods again you should slowly begin with low fiber foods that are easy to digest. Foods low in fiber include:

  • Tender well-cooked meats
  • Eggs
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Tofu
  • Cream of wheat and grits
  • Refined grains such as white bread and cereals made with white flour
  • Canned and/or well-cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Canned, soft, and/or well-cooked fruit, or fruit juice without pulp
  • Broth

As the infection and inflammation heals, fiber can slowly be added back into the diet.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.


Stroke and Nutrition

A stroke occurs when there is a change in the flow of blood to the brain that leads to a change in and/or loss of function. Some risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Family history
  • Health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity
  • Lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in fat and cholesterol, lack of exercise, and smoking

The effects of a stroke can vary, and depend on the location of the damage in the brain and the amount of damage. There may be changes in behavior or the ability to perform daily activities. Some individuals may find it more difficult to feed themselves or swallow. If these problems are present, an Occupational Therapist can help with self-feeding, while a Speech Therapist can help with swallowing problems. A doctor can help determine appropriate treatment options.

Healthy eating may help with weight and blood pressure management, which can help to prevent another stroke. In general, healthy eating involves:

  • Low sodium: to help control blood pressure.
  • Plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products: to help keep blood pressure under control.
  • Choosing heart-healthy fats: such as soybean, canola, olive, or flaxseed oil over saturated fats and trans fats to reduce the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels.

There are many ways to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. Some ways to start include:

  • Choose foods with less than 300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving.
  • Use herbs and spices, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food.
  • Choose carefully when eating out. Restaurant foods can be high in sodium.
  • Choose fiber-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and apples, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. Whole grains include whole wheat bread products, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Eat fatty, cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines) twice a week. These provide heart-healthy fats. Try to choose fresh or frozen varieties, as canned may be too high in sodium.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods, foods made with animal products, or fried foods. Trans fats are found in meat and foods that contain hydrogenated oils (e.g., peanut butter and margarine).
  • Limit cholesterol from food to 200 mg per day. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks, shrimp, and full-fat dairy foods.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.


Cancer and Nutrition

Cancer begins when cells in the body become abnormal. As these cells duplicate, a mass of tissue made of abnormal cells forms and is called a tumor. Normal cells grow and divide and know to stop growing. Over time, they also die. Unlike these normal cells, cancer cells continue to multiply and do not die when they are supposed to. If the tumor gets bigger, it can damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away and spread to other parts of the body.
Nutrition is important for both cancer prevention and treatment. If diagnosed with cancer, there are numerous treatments that can be utilized, all of which can cause side effects capable of affecting nutrition. Some effects of cancer treatments include:

  • Fatigue: Get plenty of rest, and if unable to eat large amounts, choose calorie-dense foods (e.g., butter, cheese, ice cream, and milkshakes)
  • Nausea and vomiting: Avoid excessive exposure to the smell of food, and take medications with food if able
  • Taste changes: Stay well hydrated (this can be linked to dry mouth) and eat citrus foods to stimulate saliva production
  • Dry mouth or thick saliva: Stay well hydrated and try sucking on ice chips
  • Sore mouth or sore throat: Pick soft, easy-to-chew foods; add gravy and sauce to food
  • Diarrhea: Drink plenty of fluids, choose low-fiber foods, and avoid irritating foods (e.g., dairy, sugar, and spicy foods)
  • Constipation: Eat fiber-rich foods and stay well hydrated
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss: Choose calorie-dense foods (e.g., butter, cheese, ice cream, and milkshakes)

There are also unique side effects that can vary depending on the location of the
cancer. For example:

  • Head and neck cancer may lead to chewing difficulties
  • Colon cancer may be associated with more gastrointestinal-related side effects (e.g., diarrhea)
  • Lung cancer may lead to an increase in shortness of breath, which can make eating more difficult

Nutrition is also important for cancer survivors, as well as those looking to prevent cancer. The following guidelines can help minimize the risk for cancer:

  • Eat plant-based foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and excessive energy-dense foods (e.g., chips, cookies, and candy).
  • Limit consumption of red meats (e.g., beef, pork, and lamb)
  • Limit consumption of processed meats (e.g., bacon, sausage, and salami)
  • If consuming alcohol, keep it to 2 drinks/day for men and 1 for woman
  • Avoid excessive salt consumption

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.


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