Posts Tagged ‘Oak Park retirement community’

Tap Dance Workshop with Roberta Kulik

Taught by Roberta Kulik, the Oak Park Arms’ monthly tap dance workshop takes place at noon, Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

The first 15 minutes features basic tap moves that can be done either sitting or standing. Kulik continues the class with 45 minutes of basic tap steps and routines. Tap shoes are welcome, though not required.

This type of dance is a left-brain/right-brain workout great for coordination, balance and memory.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The workshop is free and open to the public. For more information, call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040


Brain Gym Class with Aimee Edwards

The public is invited to Brain Gym® with Aimee Edwards at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

Brain Gym movements, exercises, or activities refer to the original 26 Brain Gym movements, sometimes abbreviated as “The 26.” These activities recall the movements naturally done during the first years of life when one is learning to coordinate the eyes, ears, hands, and whole body.

The 26, along with a program for “learning through movement,” were developed by educator and reading specialist Paul E. Dennison and his wife and colleague, Gail E. Dennison.

For more than two decades, clients, teachers, and students have reported the effectiveness of these simple activities. Although it’s not yet clear why these movements work so well, they often bring about dramatic improvements in areas such as:

•    concentration and focus
•    memory
•    academics: reading, writing, math, test taking
•    physical coordination
•    relationships
•    self-responsibility
•    organization skills
•    attitude

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


Seniors Assess Denture Care

You may have no teeth, but you still need to see the dentist. Bummer, right? According to, gum care is important – teeth or no teeth – and a dental professional needs to make certain that dentures fit properly. They may need to be relined, and they may no longer fit correctly.

Of course, dentures are the last resort, and every effort should be made to keep permanent teeth as long as possible. Even if you have lost some teeth, a partial denture is preferable to removal of all remaining teeth if those teeth are still in acceptable condition.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.

According to, complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.” Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.

However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.

Are There Alternatives to Dentures?

Yes, dental implants can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Consult your dentist for advice.

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dentures?

Most dental insurance providers cover some or all of the cost of dentures. However, contact your company to find out the specifics of what they will cover.

How Are Dentures Made?

The denture development process takes about three weeks to 1.5 months and several appointments. Once your dentist or prosthodontist (a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth) determines what type of appliance is best for you, the general steps are to:

1. Make a series of impressions of your jaw and take measurements of how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.

2. Create models, wax forms, and/or plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made. You will “try in” this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.

3. Cast a final denture

4. Adjustments will be made as necessary

A dozen facts about dentures (

1. Dentures don’t last forever.

2. Even if dentures fit perfectly, you should still see a dental professional regularly.

3. No one has to know you’re wearing dentures.

4. Denture wearers can eat more normally.

5. Denture wearers can speak more clearly.

6. Adhesives can play a role in denture’s fit and comfort.

7. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect dentures.

8. Don’t assume regular denture care is too costly.

9. Never try to make your own denture repairs.

10. With planning, denture corrections can often be made in one day.

11. Don’t avoid replacing your denture just because you don’t want to go through another long adjustment period.

12. All dentures are not created equal. If you look for the lowest price, you’ll get what you pay for.





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

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.

Guide for senior grandparents in Oak Park

“Grandparents hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.”
- Anonymous

The joy of being a grandparent is immeasurable. Some think grandparenting is even better than parenting – not as much pressure or worry and lots more sheer enjoyment. And they do go home, don’t they?

Most new grandparents are shocked by the depth of love they experience. It’s as if grandchildren are compensation for growing old.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to play, to love a young child again, and to appreciate the magic of a developing mind. Grandparents can share the things they’re passionate about with a new audience; experience music, nature, the zoo, museums, reading, gardening, theater and other interests in conjunction with a curious young mind.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to watch children develop through all stages of growth; it is an invitation to learn about ‘their’ music and ‘their’ passions and to provide input that parents cannot.

Usually, grandparents have the benefit of interacting on a level that is once removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents. This can make it easier to develop a close bond with grandchildren. From near or far, grandparenting can provide continuity in a child’s life, since grandparents are often the family historians who can add a rich sense of family tradition to a child’s life.

Contact with grandparents can teach children positive attitudes towards aging and help them develop skills to enhance their own lifelong learning.

Making the most of your grandparenting time from HelpGuide:

  • Carve out one-on-one time. On occasion, spend time with individual grandchildren. It will give  an opportunity to bond, without competition.
  • See the sights. Concerts and plays, movies, zoos, science centers and museums, parks or simple walks in the neighborhood provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions.
  • Play games. Board and card games are a unique opportunity to watch kids in action and to see how they operate in the world. Games also allow you to help your grandchild learn to be a good sport and play fairly.
  • Communicate family history. Tell stories about games or trips you shared when the grandchild’s parents were young. This is a great way to weave a ‘tapestry’ of shared experiences for the whole family.

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!


Baby, it’s cold outside

Although the fall weather has been gloriously moderate, one can be certain that cold weather is on the way. It is important to remember that the cold temperatures of winter are especially dangerous for older adults. Seniors may not be able to feel that they are getting too cold, or they may set their thermostats low to save on heating costs.

A drop in body temperature is called hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh), and it can be deadly if not treated quickly. Hypothermia can happen anywhere, not just outside and not just in northern states. In fact, some older people can have a mild form of hypothermia if the temperature in their home is too cool.

When you think about being cold, you probably think of shivering. That is one way the body stays warm when it gets cold. But, shivering alone does not mean you have hypothermia.

So how do you know if someone has hypothermia? According to the National Institute on Aging, look for the umbles” – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles. These may be clues that the cold is a problem.

Check for:

  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Change in behavior or in the way a person looks
  • A lot of shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs
  • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions

According to, during each cold weather month, many seniors die from hypothermia.

Wearing more clothes and proper cold-weather attire are necessary for aging adults. Indoors, many seniors may require an extra blanket or thicker socks.

To prevent hypothermia (very low body temperature), a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition, ), read these tips offered by the National Institute on Aging:

  • Ask your doctor if you have any health conditions or take any medications that make it hard for your body to stay warm. At increased risk are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Set your thermostat above 65 degrees; older people are at higher risk of becoming ill during the cold winter months.
  • Try to stay away from cold places. Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder to feel when you are getting cold. It also may be harder for your body to warm itself.
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing indoors and out. The layers will trap warm air between them. Tight clothing can keep your blood from flowing freely, which can lead to loss of body heat. Hypothermia can occur in bed, so wear warm clothing to bed and use blankets.
  • Ask friends or neighbors to look in once or twice a day if you live alone. Your area may offer a telephone check-in or personal visit service.
  • Use alcohol moderately, if at all. Avoid alcohol altogether near bedtime.
  • Eat hot foods and drink hot liquids to raise your body temperature and keep warm.
  • Keep aware of the daily weather forecast and be sure to dress warmly enough, with hat and gloves, if you must go out. In extremely low temperatures with wind-chill factors, weather forecasters may suggest staying inside.
  • Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don’t eat well, you might have less fat under your skin, and fat can help protect you by keeping heat in your body. Also, drink 10 glasses of water or other non-alcoholic liquids daily.

And remember, spring will eventually come. Promise.

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