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It’s no secret—seniors can greatly benefit from furry companions. At Sunrise, we understand the wonder of pets and warmly welcome them into our communities. In fact, each Sunrise community has its own set of house pets. Each dog or cat is carefully chosen for our communities based on a calm, friendly demeanor that jives with our senior residents and their relaxed lifestyle. Many of our pets are rescue animals that are eager to befriend so many smiling faces!


PETS MAKE US FEEL GOOD

Talking to or cuddling with a pet has been shown to ease chronic pain from arthritis and migraines and increase brain activity, which helps ward off or lessen the effects of depression.


THEY KEEP US MOVING

The American Animal Hospital Association reports that petting, walking, playing and cleaning up after a pet gives us a sense of purpose and keeps us active. Pet care benefits our joint health and flexibility.


PETS ENCOURAGE US TO STAY SOCIAL

Pets protect against isolation and provide older adults with more opportunities for friendly interaction. It's fun to chat about a pet’s endearing habits and appearance.


PETS HELP OUR HEARTS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet companionship can also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and encourage healthier heart rates.


To learn more about our pet philosophy and pets at Sunrise, click here.

Click here to find a community near you to take a tour and see firsthand how all the little touches we add (like pets!) make our communities truly feel like home!

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The relationship between an older adult and their primary care physician is important. While most seniors understand that, some are frustrated at the limited time they have to ask their doctor questions. Physicians’ calendars are often packed, which can make it difficult to have all of your concerns fully addressed.

To help make your physician appointments more successful, we’ve put together a few tips.

Three Tips for a Successful Physician Appointment

The key to having your questions answered and receiving the information you need to feel confident about your healthcare is organization.

These tips will help you do just that:

  1. Keep a daily journal: Whether you are a senior or a caregiver, this can make it easier to track health changes. Take a few minutes to note any changes in health or new symptoms, especially as they relate to a chronic health condition. Also note how well the senior slept, what they ate, and how much water they drank. That makes it easier for you and the physician to spot and track trends.
  2. Prepare a list of questions: The day before you or your older loved one’s physician appointment, sit down and review the journal. List your questions or concerns. The rushed atmosphere during many physician appointments can make it too intimidating to ask questions. Having a list can make it easier to quickly go through them with the physician. Even if they are busy, physicians want to hear your questions so that they can intervene and prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
  3. Organize a portable medical file: Another tip that can make a senior’s physician appointments go more smoothly is to coordinate medical information into one binder or online tool. This is especially true for older adults who have multiple physicians. Have extra copies of all documents, such as medications, medical tests, and allergies, available or easy to access. While electronic records have made it easier for health professionals to share this information, it sometimes takes time for information to be updated.

Using these tips to get organized will help you make the most of your physician appointments.

When to See the Doctor

Another question older adults often have relates to how regularly they need to see a physician, especially if they don’t feel sick. Our article, “How Often Should You Have a Wellness Checkup If You Are a Healthy Senior?” tackles that issue.

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If you are a new family caregiver or one who has taken on increased responsibility, connecting with the right tools and support is vital. Unless you’ve filled this role before, you might not be aware of the many resources that exist to assist caregivers.

Support Programs for Family Caregivers

Support groups offer caregivers a chance to network and exchange ideas with peers. The emotional support they provide also helps caregivers realize the fear, guilt, sadness, and frustration they struggle with is normal.

Here are three leading avenues for finding a support group:

  1. Family Caregiver Alliance: When it comes to support, it’s hard to top the Family Caregiver Alliance. In addition to a comprehensive learning center packed with articles, tip sheets, and guides, their site hosts Caregiver Connect. That helps family caregivers find online support groups.
  2. Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Groups: The Alzheimer’s Association also provides tools and support to caregivers. One way they do that is by helping family members find an Alzheimer’s caregiver community, whether it is online or in person.
  3. Eldercare Locator: Another helpful resource is Eldercare Locator. Not only do they maintain a list of caregiver support groups, but they also share information on senior care, insurance, and transportation.

Technology for Caregivers

Another struggle family caregivers often have is managing their loved one’s medical information. It can be overwhelming to keep track of physician appointments, contact information, their medication list and schedule, and past medical history. Fortunately, technology has made it easier.

Two options to explore are:

  • MyMedical: This medical record app makes it easy for caregivers to store and share their loved one’s health files. From test results to physician contact information, you can access, update, and email important medical information. MyMedical offers caregivers a free trial.
  • CareZone: Like the MyMedical app, CareZone offers seniors and family caregivers a wide variety of features. You can do everything from creating and sharing a medication schedule to maintaining a symptom journal.

Keeping a senior on track with their medication schedule can be another challenge for family caregivers. This is especially true if a loved one has memory loss. Medication mistakes can be dangerous. In fact, they are a leading reason older adults are admitted to hospitals.

This is another area where technology can help.

  • Electronic pill dispensers: Modern pill dispensers make managing medication schedules easier and safer. Electronic pill dispensers have features that range from sounding an alert at dosage time to opening the right box for the current medication. Some will even text a family contact person if a dose is missed. Most of these systems utilize wireless technologies for convenience.
  • Reminder apps: Family caregivers who work might have a difficult time calling their loved one to remind them to take their medication. If an older adult you are a caregiver for needs a reminder, apps such as Dosecast and Mango Health can help.

Finding Local Caregiver Support

Our final suggestion is to get to know your local resources. You can do that by contacting agencies and organizations such as:

  • Agency on Aging
  • your local senior center
  • Mobile Meals
  • local home care and adult day programs
  • assisted living communities
  • senior transportation providers.

We also encourage you to bookmark The Sunrise Blog and stop back often. We update it throughout the week with the latest news and research on aging, senior living, and caregiving.

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Caring for a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease can be very rewarding, but it also may present some challenging moments. This is especially true when the older adult’s verbal communication skills have diminished.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the person living with dementia may experience difficulties expressing himself or herself verbally. As a result, they will do so in other ways. For instance, they may refuse your assistance with personal care or become overwhelmed and angry when they are in a loud, crowded, or otherwise uncomfortable environment. These are examples of behavioral expressions.

The Validation Method is a holistic communication method that helps caregivers communicate with seniors living with Alzheimer’s by seeking to understand the reason behind their behavioral expressions and empathizing as we seek to discover their unmet needs. Social worker Naomi Feil developed this method after working extensively with older adults and finding that conventional practices, such as therapeutic lying or redirecting, are largely ineffective and do not enhance seniors’ dignity.

 “When we use Validation, we meet the person where they are instead of expecting them to be where we are. We use empathy and step into their world, mirroring their emotions and asking open-ended questions to help them express what they are feeling,” says Rita Altman, senior vice president of Memory Care & Program Services for Sunrise Senior Living. “For the senior, just knowing that they are being accepted and heard, and having the opportunity to express those feelings to an empathetic caregiver, can bring tremendous relief.”

No matter what situation a caregiver uses Validation in, the technique is always grounded in empathy toward the senior. But empathy can be a confusing concept. So what really is empathy, and how can you use it when practicing Validation with your loved one?

Essentially, empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. When we’re empathetic, we try to truly understand and feel what someone else is going through. Empathy helps to give us insight and patience, resulting in a better outcome for both the person living with dementia and their caregiver or loved one.

Empathy takes time and effort, and it can be easy to revert back to some simpler techniques. Therefore, it is very important to center oneself before using the Validation approach. Centering involves taking a few deep breaths to clear one’s mind, and it enables us to be more open and receptive to the senior’s behavioral expressions. Here are a few common practices that are not empathetic and do not enhance the dignity of a senior with Alzheimer’s:

  • telling white lies in order to placate the senior—deep down inside they know the truth, even if they are very forgetful. All good relationships are based on trust, and when we lie, we make it difficult for the senior to trust us.
  • redirecting, distracting, or diverting the senior’s attention instead of trying to get to the root of the problem
  • showing sympathy and telling the senior how sorry you feel for them—this doesn’t enhance their dignity
  • confronting the older adult who is acting strangely or aggressively by telling them what they need to do, rather than recognizing that the behavior is caused by the disease
  • offering hollow reassurances, no matter how well-intentioned.

Instead of using any of these “quick fixes,” try to understand the root cause of a senior’s behavior and meet them where they are. Then, you can become a trusted listener and caregiver by maintaining sincere, close eye contact and asking open-ended questions that allow them to express what they are feeling.

“It’s just like with any of us—when we voice something that’s concerning us, we feel better,” says Altman.

Reminiscence Neighborhoods at Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise Senior Living communities, our Reminiscence Neighborhoods provide an environment based upon comfort and security. Our team members use the Validation Method to enhance our residents’ dignity and help them Live With Purpose each day. Call us at 888-434-4648 to learn more and schedule a tour of a Reminiscence program near you.

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When an older adult has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, engaging in productive activities can help them feel empowered and independent. Both are vital to adults who can sometimes feel less in control of their everyday life.

As the senior requires more assistance with the activities of daily life, they may experience depression and a loss of interest in the world around them. By structuring their days to include meaningful activity, you may be able to help them feel positive and successful.

For people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the positive emotions created by meaningful experiences linger long after memories of the activity are lost.

Activities to Engage a Senior with Dementia

Avoid childlike activities that may leave a senior feeling diminished or demeaned. Instead, offer genuinely productive activities and tasks. Remember to focus on the process and not the outcome.

This list will help you come up with ideas to work into your senior loved one’s weekly schedule:

  • Sing along to music from their youth or young adulthood. That can evoke happy memories from a time long ago.
  • Assist with household chores that don’t require abstract thought, like folding laundry, clearing the table, unpacking groceries, sweeping the kitchen floor, or dusting.
  • Complete simple art projects, such as painting a wooden picture frame or decorating a birdhouse.
  • Engage in physical activities, like chair yoga, walking, and stretching exercises.
  • Create a scrapbook with old photos, precut decorative borders, and stickers.
  • Plant and tend to an herb garden or container flower garden.
  • Cut out sugar cookies and place them on a baking pan.
  • Care for the family pet, especially a dog or cat.
  • Go birdwatching or take a nature hike at a local park. Many have accessible walking paths for those with mobility challenges.
  • Watch one of the senior’s favorite old movies, whether it is streamed on an oldies channel or borrowed from the library.
  • Work a puzzle with a grandchild or great-grandchild. Just be mindful of the amount and size of the pieces.
  • Look through old family photos and organize them into albums.

Another way to help an older adult with dementia feel productive is to create an activity box or two that is unique to their life history and interests. These help them reconnect with times in their life when they probably felt productive.

Creating Activity Boxes for Adults with Dementia

As you plan your activity boxes, think about your senior loved one’s career and favorite hobbies. If they were a school teacher, for example, what tools and supplies did they use? As long as those supplies are safe for someone with dementia, you can include them in their activity box.

Keep in mind that these don’t actually have to be a box. You can use a tote bag or plastic container depending upon the size of the supplies you plan to put in it. In fact, a tote bag or plastic container might make it easier to take an activity box with you while waiting at an appointment.

Live With Purpose at Sunrise Senior Living

At Sunrise Senior Living communities, our Reminiscence Neighborhoods are designed to provide comfort and security for people living with Alzheimer’s or another form of memory loss. An important part of that is our eight signature Live With Purpose activities programs, which bring residents together to engage, enjoy, express, learn, and grow. Watch this video or call a community near you to learn more!

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Living a long and healthy life takes conscious effort. That effort is often referred to in terms of the dimensions of wellness. While experts have varying ideas on the number of dimensions and their names, they typically agree on six core factors.

The six dimensions of wellness commonly cited are:

  1. occupational
  2. social
  3. physical
  4. spiritual
  5. emotional
  6. intellectual

These dimensions are interconnected and important to a healthy life. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Understanding the Dimensions of Wellness

  1. Occupational: This dimension is one people might be surprised to see. While it does relate to career and job satisfaction, the underlying issue is the importance of feeling productive. Sharing your unique strengths and talents is vital to feeling empowered and positive about life. It’s at the core of meaningful living.
  2. Social: Staying actively engaged with the world is another factor that can help you live a healthier life. That’s partly due to the power of friendships in our lives. They keep us connected and feeling less alone. Loneliness is a health risk for seniors that contributes to problems like depression, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Socialization also stimulates the brain, keeping cognitive skills intact longer.
  3. Physical: Most of us have heard firsthand from a physician how important it is to engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes a day five or six days a week. But the physical dimension of wellness also includes eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol, and following doctor’s orders regarding health screenings.
  4. Spiritual: With aging typically comes an increased need to explore and nurture the spirit. It isn’t exclusively limited to organized religion. Some people nurture the spirit and connect with a higher power through gardening, meditation, journaling, and yoga. Finding your own path to peace can allow you to age feeling happier and less anxious about what lies ahead.
  5. Emotional: The emotional wellness dimension encourages people to connect with their innermost feelings. Be open and honest about fears, frustrations, and your overall place in life. Sometimes this requires addressing old issues, such as family feuds and disagreements that have gone unresolved for years.
  6. Intellectual: Just like the body needs a regular workout, so does the mind. In younger days, the brain is stimulated through schoolwork and career. During retirement, it might take more effort to continue learning and growing intellectually. Volunteer work, creative art classes, a book club, and reading are just a few ways to keep the brain engaged.

Learn More about Wellness at Sunrise

From our commitment to providing residents with meaningful life enrichment activities to the nutritious meals we serve each day, wellness is a focus of everyday life at Sunrise.

We invite you to call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to schedule a private tour today!

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It’s no secret that weather can trigger a flare-up of some health conditions. Osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are two examples. But some people aren’t aware of one danger associated with weather: the impact of high humidity on blood pressure.

Research shows that high humidity can present serious health risks for people with high blood pressure and heart disease. That’s why it’s important for caregivers to learn the warning signs of heat-related illness, along with steps to prevent it.

High Humidity and High Blood Pressure

Humidity is a measurement of how much moisture is in the air. Health experts say a senior’s risk begins to rise when the temperature outside is over 70 degrees and the humidity is at 70 percent or greater.

When it’s hot and humid outside, the heart has to work much harder. The body may need to circulate twice as much blood per minute as it does on an average day.

Despite how heavily you might sweat, high humidity makes it difficult to cool down. Excessive sweating increases a senior’s risk for dehydration because it lowers the amount of fluid in the body. The result is greater strain on the heart. That’s especially dangerous for a senior who lives with high blood pressure or heart disease.

12 Heat-Related Warning Signs Caregivers Should Recognize

If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, it’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs of heat and humidity-related illnesses.

  1. Headache
  2. Lethargy
  3. Confusion
  4. Dizziness
  5. Rapid pulse
  6. Fatigue
  7. Nausea
  8. Excessive sweating
  9. Inability to sweat
  10. Cold, clammy skin
  11. Muscle cramps
  12. Swelling in hands or feet

If your loved one is exhibiting a few of these symptoms, don’t wait to seek medical assistance. That often means calling 911.

4 Steps to Prevent a Humidity-Related Health Crisis

Here are a few ways you might be able to help a senior avoid a heat or humidity-related illness:

  1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water. Experts say eight glasses is a must, even more if you are sweating. Consuming foods with a high water content, such as berries, tomatoes, cucumber, melon, celery, and leafy greens, boosts hydration, too.
  2. Avoid midday heat: By staying indoors during the hottest times of day, a senior can lower their risk for a heat-related crisis. This is typically between noon and 4:00 p.m. Whenever possible, schedule errands and outdoor tasks for early morning or evening.
  3. Cover up: While it might seem counterintuitive, wearing a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt made of a natural fiber offers protection on hot days. Also, investing in a hat with a brim wide enough to shield the face helps.
  4. Eat right: You can also lower your risk by making smart food and drink choices. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine helps. They act as a diuretic on the body, which increases the risk of dehydration and a heat-related health crisis.

If you are struggling to gain the cooperation of an older adult in your life when it comes to heat and humidity risks, we have some suggestions you might find helpful. Read Having a "Heat Intervention" With a Senior to learn more.

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While most people connect the name “Betsy Ross” with the American flag, the history of Old Glory isn’t very well-known. As we head towards Independence Day, we look back at how the United States flag came to be, along with rules for protecting Old Glory.

The Flags before Old Glory

In 1775, discontented colonists wanted a flag that represented their independence. An early version of the flag featuring a snake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me” was very popular. It was replaced by a version with an evergreen tree and red, white, and blue stripes. The tree was called the “Liberty Tree.”

Another version in late 1775 featured the British Union Jack along with 13 stripes to represent the 13 colonies. A seamstress from Philadelphia came on the scene five months later with another version.

The seamstress, Betsy Ross, replaced the Union Jack with a circle of 13 stars designed to represent each of the original colonies. This version was officially adopted on June 14, 1777. It’s a day we now designate as Flag Day.

While the flag has undergone several adaptations, popular folklore says this is its origin. On holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day, Americans fly their flag proudly.

American Flag Etiquette

As you prepare your flag to fly on Independence Day, keep these etiquette tips in mind:

  • Unless there is lighting to illuminate the flag, it should be flown only from sunrise to sunset.
  • The flag should always fall freely and not be fastened or tied back.
  • While you may hang a flag against a wall, it should never be tucked or draped.
  • Wherever you hang the flag should always be kept clean. Unless the flag is made of all-weather material, it should never be flown during inclement weather.
  • The flag should never touch the ground, even when you are preparing it for hanging.
  • If the flag is displayed in a window, the stars should face north.
  • Never use the flag for a decoration or as clothing.
  • Only in an emergency can the flag be flown upside down.
  • Should the flag be placed over a street, the stars should face north or east.
  • If several flags are displayed in a row, the American flag should be placed on the viewer’s left.
  • When state and local flags are displayed with the American flag, the U.S. flag should be the highest one.
  • If the American flag is being carried in a procession or parade, audience members should stand, face the flag, and place a hand over their heart. Men should remove their hats.
  • During any procession or parade that includes the American flag, veterans, as well as military, police, and fire personnel, should salute the flag.
  • On Memorial Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon. Then, it should be raised to full height.

Celebrating Independence Day

If you will be hosting an Independence Day celebration, we have a few ideas to help you plan your menu. This article has four colorful recipes you might want to try!

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Aging advocates have long suspected elder abuse was more widespread than popular surveys suggested. It turns out, they were right. Not only is elder abuse more common than previously reported, it is on the rise. So much so that the United States federal government recently launched a task force to better protect our seniors.

Introducing the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force

Experts from the Justice Department say 10 percent of this nation’s older adults have been victims of emotional, financial, or physical abuse. The goal of the task force is to coordinate efforts and bring justice to seniors no matter where the criminal resides, nationally or internationally.

According to the Justice Department, the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force is made up of “prosecutors and data analysts from the Consumer Protection Branch, prosecutors with six U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (Central District of California, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of Texas), FBI special agents, Postal Inspectors, and numerous other law enforcement personnel. The Strike Force will also collaborate with the Federal Trade Commission and industry partners, who have pledged to engage with the Department to help end the scourge of elder fraud.”

In addition to these transnational members, every U.S. Attorney’s Office across the country will have an Elder Justice Coordinator assigned to them.

Who Is Harming Our Seniors?

While instances of international financial fraud targeting seniors are escalating quickly, the most common abusers of our elders are still people close to them. According to the National Council on Aging, in 60 percent of elder abuse cases, a family member is the abuser.

When a senior has Alzheimer’s disease, the statistics are even more disturbing. Experts believe nearly half of all adults with Alzheimer’s have been abused by a caregiver at some point since their diagnosis.

Types of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse comes in many forms. While physical and financial receive the most attention, elder abuse can generally be broken down into five categories:

  • physical
  • financial
  • emotional
  • neglect
  • sexual.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse doesn’t discriminate. It happens to people of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The most common signs of elder abuse include:

  • frequent bruises, bumps, puncture marks, and skin abrasions
  • unexplained injuries or injuries that don’t add up
  • unintended weight loss or a gaunt, dehydrated appearance
  • decline in personal care and hygiene (e.g., soiled clothing, dirty hair)
  • increased sadness or tearfulness
  • anxiety or nervousness around some family members or caregivers
  • withdrawing from social clubs, religious organizations, and family events
  • bladder infections, genital infections, or diseases
  • bruising on or near private body parts
  • neglect of home repairs and cleaning
  • large withdrawals from senior’s financial accounts
  • unexplained purchases on their credit or debit card.

When a family member or caregiver is abusing a senior, their behavior can be very telling. Common red flags include:

  • talking for the senior and not allowing them to speak for themselves
  • not leaving the older adult alone to visit with friends and loved ones
  • restricting who can visit the senior and for how long.

What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

If you suspect an older adult is in immediate danger from elder abuse, call 911. This is the quickest way for authorities to intervene in a dangerous situation.

For abuse of other types, the Adult Protective Services (APS) in your city or county is a resource to turn to for help. APS will visit the senior in person to assess the situation and determine whether further investigation is required.

Stay Connected to the Latest News on Aging and Caregiving

For the latest news in aging and caregiving, we encourage you to bookmark and follow The Sunrise Blog. We share important information like this throughout the week on topics ranging from senior safety to support for family caregivers. Stop back often to stay connected!

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Many of the factors that play a role in healthy aging are commonly known: exercising, eating a balanced diet, and getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. Each is important at every stage in life. For older adults, friendships also play a role. Having a strong, supportive circle of friends might help you live a longer, healthier life.

Experts say staying connected with friends usually means you will socialize more frequently and stay actively engaged with your community. You’ll probably be more motivated to stay on track with health screenings and other self-care. Each of these promotes better overall physical and mental health.

By contrast, older adults who are isolated are more likely to live a sedentary life and develop health problems. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression are just a few that are common among seniors who suffer from loneliness.

Under the Influence: How Friends Influence Health

It’s also important to surround yourself with the right friends as you grow older. If your friends are healthy eaters, for example, you are more likely to be mindful of your diet as well. But the reverse is also true.

If your friends are smokers or heavy alcohol consumers, you are more likely to indulge too. Those negative habits are linked to increased rates of cancer, high blood pressure, strokes, and other potentially life-limiting illnesses.

Being exposed to secondhand smoke is also dangerous for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Rebuilding Social Networks

Many seniors find their social circle decreasing for reasons beyond their control. A friend might retire and move away to live closer to their adult children and grandchildren. Others retire and relocate to a warmer climate. Another reality older adults face is friends pass away more often than in younger days.

These losses mean a senior must find new avenues for meeting people and rebuilding their social circle. A few to explore might include:

  • senior groups at your church or synagogue
  • volunteer opportunities at a local nonprofit
  • programs for older adults at your local YMCA or fitness center
  • book club at the local library or bookstore
  • continuing education classes and workshops
  • volunteer docent programs at a local art museum
  • interest groups, such as a garden club or photography club.

Moving to an independent or assisted living community is another way to increase your social circle. Residents soon find friends who support one another through life’s ups and downs. Older adults who live in a senior community can also participate in a variety of life enrichment programs designed to nurture the body, mind, and spirit.

To stay up-to-date on research and trends related to healthy aging, bookmark this blog and stop back. We share the latest news on aging, caregiving, and senior living.

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