Archive for the ‘Senior Wellness Tips’ Category

Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care opens a life enrichment program for senior citizens

Adult Day Care at the Oak Park Arms

Adult Day Care at the Oak Park Arms

The Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care, a life enrichment program for older adults, opens Monday, Jan. 7, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park.

“The purpose of Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care is to provide personal attention and to promote social, physical and emotional well-being to seniors in a private, structured setting,” said Moses Williams, executive director of the Oak Park Arms.

“Participants will spend their daytime hours with their day care family, then return home in the evenings,” he explained.

A nurse consultant works with each program participant, his or her family and the staff to design individualized care plans that will optimize the adult day care experience. Among the array of activities will be educational programs, presentations from experts, performances, arts and crafts, current events, games, reminiscing opportunities and health maintenance.

Oak Park Arms Adult Day Care will operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Continental breakfast, a hot healthy lunch and a nutritious afternoon snack are served daily.

The program is housed within the award-winning Oak Park Arms Retirement Community in a safe and secure private area.

“Our adult day care is a healthy and safe place for a loved one,” Williams said. “Our promise is to enhance the lives of the people we serve. We are very proud to offer this new enrichment program.”

For more information, visit or call 708-386-4040.


About the Oak Park Arms
The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides senior housing in the form of independent living and assisted living apartments. Additional services include short-term stays, a transitional care program, and an adult day care. “The Arms” opened as a luxurious hotel in 1922 and for decades, it was the scene of wedding receptions, proms and ballroom dances. In the mid-1970s, two friends bought the hotel and created an active retirement community that was – and remains – full of life, service and spirit. Today, the same two friends remain involved and committed to excellence, ensuring that The Arms continues as an industry leader with a legacy of eminence and distinction.


“Where’s my memory?” ask seniors in Oak Park

Hmmm. I misplaced my memory. Everyone “of a certain age” knows the frustration and/or embarrassment of being unable to remember something – names, book titles, where the keys are, etc. Most of this is normal, and certainly it’s not a reason for panic.

According to, information is stored in different parts of your memory like this:

• Information stored in recent memory may include what you ate for breakfast this morning.
• Information stored in the short-term memory may include the name of a person you met moments ago.
• Information stored in the remote or long-term memory includes things that you stored in your memory years ago, such as memories of childhood.

It is true that a person loses brain cells from the time of young adulthood. The body, too, starts to make less of the chemicals brain cells need to work. The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory. Also aging may affect memory by changing the way the brain stores information and by making it harder to recall stored information. Short-term and remote memories aren’t usually affected by aging. But recent memory may be affected.
At least half of those over age 65 say that they are more forgetful than they were when they were younger, experiencing “senior moments” about things like where they put things or recalling somebody’s name. Forgetting a friend’s name or not remembering a lunch date is something that most people without dementia do from time to time.

Of course, increasing forgetfulness should be checked out by the doctor. But for the annoying absentmindedness that plagues almost all older adults, remember (ha!) to keep a sense of humor.
Six Great Tips to Boost Memory: ( )

• Puzzle power: Brain activities like crossword puzzles or Sudoku can help keep the mind clear and focused.
• Lifelong learning: Stimulating mental activities like attending a lecture can aid in memory retention.
• Tea time: Have a cup or two of green tea. Studies have shown that green tea extracts improves cognition and spatial awareness in rats.
• Breathe out: Don’t stress. Some of the most common memory zaps include stress and anxiety. Activities like reading or meditation can help the brain stay clear.
• Social butterfly: Maintain strong social ties through social groups to help preserve memory.
• Get moving: Daily exercise for half an hour a day such as walking or jogging can help improve memory.



Seniors in Oak Park tackle arthritis

Oh my aching knee… so says someone with arthritis – one of the most prevalent chronic health problems in America. According to, 46 million people suffer from it. That’s one in five adults. That’s a lot.

Arthritis strikes more women than men, and half of those Americans with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to help them. Of course, Baby Boomers are now at prime risk. More than half those affected are under age 65.
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints which results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.

Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects the joint, allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like when a person walks. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is more likely to occur with aging. It may be felt in any joint, but according to Mayo Clinic, (  the most common affected joints are hands, hips, knees, neck and lower back.
Factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis include older age, gender, bone deformities, joint injuries, obesity, and certain occupations that involve repetitive stress on a particular joint. Also people with gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease of bone or septic arthritis are at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.

The bad news is osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But osteoarthritis treatments can relieve pain and help maintain an active lifestyle.

The following are ideas that can help a great deal:

  • If you’re experiencing pain or inflammation in your joint, rest it for 12 to 24 hours. Find activities that don’t require repetitive movement. Try taking a 10-minute break every hour.
  • With the doctor’s approval, get regular exercise. Stick to gentle exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise can increase endurance and strengthen the muscles around the joint, making the joint more stable. Avoid exercising tender, injured or swollen joints. If you feel new joint pain, stop. New pain that lasts more than two hours after you exercise probably means you’ve overdone it.
  • Being overweight or obese increases the stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees and your hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can relieve some pressure and reduce your pain. Aim to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week, at most. Most people combine changes in their diet with increased exercise.
  • Both heat and cold can relieve pain in your joint. Heat also relieves stiffness and cold can relieve muscle spasms. Soothe a painful joint with heat using a heating pad, hot water bottle or warm bath. Heat should be warm, not hot. Apply heat for 20 minutes several times a day. Cool the pain in your joint with cold treatments such as with ice packs. You can use cold treatments several times a day, but don’t use cold treatments if you have poor circulation or numbness.
  • Creams and gels available at the drugstore may provide temporary relief from osteoarthritis pain. Some creams numb the pain by creating a hot or cool sensation. Other creams contain medications, such as aspirin-like compounds, that are absorbed into your skin. Pain creams work best on joints that are close the surface of your skin, such as your knees and fingers.
  • Assistive devices can make it easier to go about your day without stressing your painful joint. A cane may take weight off your knee or hip as you walk. Gripping and grabbing tools may make it easier to work in the kitchen if you have osteoarthritis in your fingers. Your doctor or occupational therapist may have ideas about what sorts of assistive devices may be helpful to you. Catalogs and medical supply stores also may be places to look for ideas.

And finally, learn about living your best life with arthritis. Understand the challenges and changes arthritis brings on and how they affect relationships and families. Find practical solutions to make daily activities easier as well as the information you need to deal with health insurance and the cost of care.




Seniors in Oak Park find their healthy weights

Weight loss for seniorsMany people set resolutions to “lose weight,” but not to reach a “healthy weight,” and there is a big difference. In order to become healthier, seniors need to know why excess weight is so bad for the human body, what a healthy weight range is, and steps needed to reach a healthy weight.

In terms of overall health, the World Health Organization reports that excess weight and obesity contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. In addition, excess weight negatively affects blood pressure and cholesterol and puts increased strain on joints.

Mentally, obesity can lead to low self esteem because of feelings of rejection, social discrimination, unattractiveness, and guilt from a perceived lack of self control. All of these add up to a very high cost to carry excess weight.

What is a healthy weight? According to, one common method for determining a healthy weight range is to use a body mass index (BMI), however, BMI does not take into account how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat. Another tool is to use waist circumference. For men, waist circumference should not exceed 40 inches and women, unless pregnant, should not exceed 35 inches. There are more accurate tests to determine BMI and waist circumference should not be seen as the gold standard for healthy weight measures, they are helpful for establishing a target weight range.

There is no magic bullet to lose weight. Until science produces effective medications, it always has been and it always will be – eat less and move more. Eating less doesn’t mean volume-wise but calorie-wise. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables is step one. Another idea is to substitute low fat dairy products for full fat and choose leaner cuts of meat. Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates.

Some foods, while high calorie, have significant health benefits. These include the healthy fats in avocados and nuts as well as the fiber in beans. These foods can be eaten in moderation. Sodium and sugar intake needs to be in moderation, too. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and too much sugar will cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Also, drink plenty of water.

Physical activity is a key ingredient to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The best way is to find things you love doing. Take a walk, ride a bike, or swim laps at a local pool. If dancing is a passion, find a class. The “sneak in exercise” approach includes parking in the furthest spot, take grocery bags out of the car one at a time, walk to the mailbox instead of driving, and pace around the table while talking on the phone. These measures add up.

To end on a humorous note, some apt proverbs:

  • Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. ~English Proverb
  • Your stomach shouldn’t be a “waist” basket. ~Author Unknown

‘Be wary,” say seniors in Oak Park

Watching network TV for an evening is a blur of commercials, many of them health related. Each remedy promises easy solutions to a host of ailments. It’s easy to understand the appeal of these promises, but there is still plenty of truth to the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Today, there are more ways than ever to sell untested products. In addition to TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, infomercials, mail, telemarketing, and even word-of-mouth, these products are now offered over the Internet—with websites describing miracle cures and emails telling stories of overnight magic. Sadly, older people are often the target of such scams.

According to National Institute on Aging, the problem is serious. Untested remedies may be harmful. They may be dangerous when used with medicines prescribed by the doctor, they may waste money, and sometimes, using these products keeps people from getting the medical treatment they need.

Living with a chronic health problem is difficult, so it’s easy to see why people might fall for a false promise of a quick and painless cure. What makes the elderly so vulnerable to this kind of thing? After all, they’re not stupid. They are, however, trusting. They don’t expect crooks to be calling them. They want to take people at their word. They don’t want to appear rude by hanging up on a caller.

According to Associate Elderly people also tend to worry about their health and the increasing costs of medical care, and this makes them vulnerable to scams offering phony health insurance. In addition, elderly people are embarrassed about falling for such scams and don’t want their children to find out. They may fear that their children will think they are no longer competent to care for themselves and may worry about losing their independence.

Typically, ads or telemarketing calls target diseases that have no cures like diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Cancer cures
  • Anti-aging medications
  • Arthritis remedies
  • Memory aids
  • Dietary supplements
  • Health insurance

Question what you see or hear in ads, telephone calls, or on the internet. Find out about a product before you buy. Don’t let a salesperson talk you into making a snap decision. Most important, check with your doctor first.

Look for red flags in ads or promotional material that:

  • Promise a quick or painless cure
  • Claim the product is made from a special, secret, or ancient formula
  • Offer products and services only by mail
  • Use statements or unproven case histories from so-called satisfied patients
  • Claim to be a cure for a wide range of ailments
  • Claim to cure a disease (such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease) that hasn’t been cured by medical science
  • Promise a no-risk, money-back guarantee
  • Offer an additional “free” gift or a larger amount of the product as a “special promotion”
  • Require advance payment and claim there is a limited supply of the product

Two Federal government agencies work to protect people from health scams. The Federal Trade Commission can help you spot fraud. The Food and Drug Administration protects the public by assuring the safety of prescription drugs, biological products, medical devices, food, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products. If you have questions about a product, again talk to your doctor.


Yoga for seniors in Oak Park

Yoga for Seniors at th Timbers of ShorewoodYoga: a young person twisted up like a pretzel with apparent ease. That image is not necessarily the complete story. In fact, yoga is for all ages; no one is too old or too young for yoga.

One of the great things about yoga is that it is so adaptable to different populations with various physical abilities and needs. Most seniors are doing what they can to maintain and improve a sense of health and wellness. Many of the 36 million or so Americans who are 65 or older (stat provided by: are turning to yoga to keep them stay agile and in shape.

Although the trend is to become more sedentary, retirement is actually the perfect time to pick up healthy habits that will promote longevity. Yoga is well-suited for seniors, because it is low-impact, and risk of injury is minimal because the discipline does not require any contact with anyone or anything. In addition, yoga’s weight-bearing postures help build or maintain lean muscle mass, and its focus on balance develops coordination.

Yoga also helps combat many of the health conditions that come with age such as high blood pressure, arthritis and incontinence, because it keeps the body toned, strong and flexible..

An added benefit (and an important one) is the sense of community seniors find at yoga classes. As many elders live in isolation, the group setting of a yoga class offers seniors a way to connect.

According to, there are many yoga postures that can be safely performed by seniors. Such postures have both a restorative and therapeutic benefit to them. Of course, adaptations and adjustments should be made according to the person’s health status and their physical ability.

  • Easy Pose (Sukhasana): The simple act of sitting down and breathing deeply and fully has an enormous capacity to tone the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems while also lengthening the spine, resting the mind, and cultivating a sense of peace. The beginner can do this posture for a minimum of 10 breaths and gradually work up to maintaining this posture for five to 10 minutes.
  • Cat Pose (Bidalasana): This grounding posture helps tone the arm muscles while also strengthening the core and alleviating tightness in the low and upper back and neck. The beginner can do this posture for a minimum of five breath cycles and gradually work their way to doing more.

Older adults should get clearance from their doctor before starting a yoga practice. This is especially relevant for those who take medications or have a prior or current history of cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions. In addition, individuals should also seek out classes specifically designed for seniors, as they will take into account the unique health issues affecting them

Yoga classes especially for seniors are becoming increasingly available: check local senior centers, retirement communities, religious organizations and even health clubs.


Another Bruise?

What causes that dark, unsightly mark on a limb known as a bruise? Unable to remember bumping into anything, an older adult may be baffled about how a new bruise happened. It’s common to experience easy bruising with increasing age, because blood vessels become more fragile with age.

Bruises result when trauma or a blow to the body damages or ruptures tiny blood vessels under the skin. Not only are the elderly more prone to bruising, less force is required to cause a bruise. And with greater impact, deeper bruises of the muscles or bone can happen, which take longer to heal.

According to A Place for Mom, the medical term for a bruise is a contusion. What happens is blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually the body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. If a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard, it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.

Some people – especially women – are more prone to bruising than are others. In fact, several factors may contribute to increased bruising, including (Mayo Clinic):

  • Aging capillaries – Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.
  • Thinning skin – With age, skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels against injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates the aging process in the skin.

Generally, the harder the blow, the larger the bruise. However, if a person bruises easily, a minor bump – one they may not even notice – can result in substantial discoloration. Arms and legs are typical locations for bruises.

Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) or medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix) reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Because of this, bleeding from capillary damage that would normally stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing enough blood to leak out to cause a bruise.

In addition, certain dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo also may increase bruising, because these supplements have a blood-thinning effect. Make certain the doctor knows about any supplements.

Bruise prevention

Below are some steps to take to prevent bruising from falls and collisions:

  • Hold the handrails on stairways.
  • Don’t stand on a chair to get to something.
  • Clear floors where you walk.
  • Mount grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Tack down all carpets and area rugs.
  • Always close cabinet doors and drawers so you won’t run into them.
  • Be especially careful around pets.

What smells so good?

Sense of Smell - Oak Park RetirementSniff, sniff. Imagine the smell of a stargazer lily or of fresh baked bread. Imagine throwing open the window on one of spring’s first warm days and smelling the sweet air. These are some of life’s free gifts.

But also imagine if smell was missing. None of us really notice all the smells around us, but for those whose sense of smell is diminished or missing, it can be a significant loss.

Olfaction is the sense of smell. It’s part of a person’s chemical sensing system, along with the sense of taste. Normal smell occurs when odors around a person, like the fragrance of flowers or the smell of baking bread, stimulate specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory cells which are located in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose.

Odors reach the olfactory sensory cells via two pathways. The first pathway is by inhaling, or sniffing, through the nose. When people think about smell, they generally think of this pathway.

The second pathway is less familiar. It is a channel that connects the roof of the throat region to the nose. When chewing food, aromas are released that access olfactory sensory cells through this channel. Congestion due to a head cold or sinus infection can block this channel, which temporarily affects the ability to enjoy the flavors of food.

But what are odors? They are small molecules that are easily evaporated and released into the environment and that stimulate these sensory cells. Once the olfactory sensory cells detect the odor molecules, they send signals to the brain, where the person can identify the smell and its source.

For most people, a problem with smell is a minor irritation, but for others it may be a sign of a more serious disease or long-term health condition. According to the National Institute of Health, problems with smell become more common as people get older.


  • 24.5 percent (15 million) of Americans 55 years old or older have a smell problem.
  • 30 percent of older Americans between the ages of 70 and 80 have a problem with the sense of smell.
  • Two out of three people over 80 have a problem with their sense of smell.
  • A person’s sense of smell generally declines when he or she is over 60.
  • Only one to two percent of people under the age of 65 will experience some problem with their sense of smell.
  • Women of all ages are generally better at detecting odors than men.

There are five types of smell loss:

  • Presbyosmia – Smell that declines with age. It is not preventable.
  • Hyposmia – The ability to detect certain odors is reduced. This smell disorder is common in people who have upper respiratory infections or nasal congestion. This is usually temporary and goes away when the infection clears up.
  • Anosmia – This is when someone can’t detect odor at all. This type of smell disorder is sometimes the result of head trauma in the nose region, usually from an automobile accident or chronic nasal or sinus infections.
  • Dysosmia – This is a change in the perception of odors. Familiar odors may become distorted, or an odor that usually smells pleasant instead smells foul. Sometimes people with this type of smell disorder also experience headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, or anxiety.
  • Phantosmia – This is when someone perceives a smell that isn’t present at all.

If someone thinks they have a smell disorder, it’s time to visit the doctor. Diagnosis is important because once the cause is found, the doctor may be able to treat it. Many types of smell problems are reversible, but if they are not, counseling and self-help techniques may help the person cope.


Seniors Eat ‘holiday healthy’

The holidays are a time of merriment, family and food – lots of food. It is not unusual for people to gain 5 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Yes the food is part of it all, but holiday eating needn’t be high in fat, sugar and calories and short on nutrition. Just a few minor ingredient changes can make all the difference. Just think – you may not have to have to make the diet resolution this year!

According to, mulled cider or lowfat eggnog are good alternatives to high fat eggnog. Eggnog can also be diluted with skim milk. Nonalcoholic or de-alcoholized wines are improving all the time and make a great alternative for the holidays.

Skim milk and other ‘low’ or ‘no’ fat dairy products can be used in recipes whenever possible.

All meats should be cooked on a rack so fat can drip away. Another good idea is to baste with low fat broth instead of the drippings from the pan.

Fortunately, most vegetables contain little or no fat. Avoid smothering vegetables with thick creamy sauces or butter. In addition, salads are a great at a holiday meal.

Rather than cooking stuffing inside of poultry or a roast, cook the stuffing in a casserole dish or aluminum foil in the oven. This will reduce the amount of fat in the stuffing.

Making gravy from a low fat broth rather than the drippings from poultry or a roast is a good way to reduce fat. Or add ice cubes to cool drippings. The fat will stick to the cubes and can be removed.

Cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. However, the canned version looses much of the nutrients. If you make your own, substitute some artificial sweetener for some of the sugar in the recipe.

A good dessert is angel food cake which contains little or no fat when served with fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.

There are many ways in which you can help to strike a balance between maintaining a healthy diet and joining in with the fun and festivities. Here’s a list from

  1. Exercise: Yep, you have to do it, but start slowly. Try a brisk walk before the day takes over. Stretching in the evening helps with relaxation.
  2. Review your cooking methods: Grill, don’t fry. Use spray oils. Lighten up on the sauces.
  3. Invest in lower fat ingredients for cooking: By swapping regular ingredients, foods and drinks for their half-fat alternatives you can make a big cut-back on fat and calorie consumption.
  4. Prepare for outings: If there’s a social function ahead, eat a low-fat, healthy snack before the party. You may not lose control at the party – at least food-wise.
  5. Be wary of sugary foods: Always remember that rich, sugary foods have a nasty habit of making us crave yet more rich and sugary foods.
  6. Stock up on healthy snacks: When shopping, buy some healthy snacks such as raw carrots and celery.
  7. Moderate alcohol intake: Alcohol contains calories and lots of them. Try lower-calorie beers and wines.
  8. Be assertive: If you say “No thanks” don’t be bullied into eating more.
  9. Leave what you don’t want: When you feel full, stop eating. Simple. (Really, it isn’t so simple, but try it.)
  10. Spend extra calories carefully. If homemade red velvet cake is a “must,” don’t eat a mediocre appetizer.

And happy holidays!


More Exercise, Less Sickness?

On my way to our retirement community this morning I was flipping through the channels on my radio and landed on NPR. I heard a report about the common cold that I thought I would pass on. The findings of the report said one thing you might expect – Get more than eight hours of sleep a night.

The other finding was to exercise on a daily basis. Researchers recruited about 1,000 volunteers between age 18 and 85 to complete a daily log of symptoms throughout cold and flu season.

At the end of the three-month study, the researchers found that the more the participants exercised, the less they reported getting sick. Those who exercised five days a week for 20 minutes or more experienced about 40 percent fewer days of illness compared with those putting in less than one day a week of activity.

For those seniors who live in the Oak Park area, (River Forest, Forest Park, Berwyn, Elmwood Park, Chicago, Riverside, North Riverside, Cicero, Brookfield, Maywood, Melrose Park, Broadview, Lyons, Galewood, River Grove) feel free to come to the Oak Park Arms to get your daily exercise. We have free classes almost every day for our residents and seniors in the Western suburbs. Classes include Sit and Be Fit, Chair Yoga, Tai Chi for Seniors, monthly ballroom dances with a live orchestra, and more. Check our calendar of events for seniors.

Here is the full report from NPR. Or click here to listen to the story.

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Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Berwyn, Elmwood Park, Chicago, Riverside, North Riverside, Cicero, Brookfield, Maywood, Melrose Park, Broadview, Lyons, Galewood, and River Grove