Archive for the ‘SeniorHomes Newsletter’ Category

Seven Tips from Teddy Roosevelt that will Keep You Mentally Sharp as You Age

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Jr. was a rancher, cowboy, police commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Nobel laureate and President of the United States. In his spare time, he became the inspiration for one of the bestselling children’s toys of all times – the Teddy Bear.

Roosevelt lived a full life with a sharp mind. If you follow these seven tips, you will too.

1. Stay Active; Stay Sharp

Roosevelt believed in the benefits of vigorous exercise and Theodore Roosevelt Jr. - Library of Congress - 3f06209rexerting oneself. He skinny dipped in the Potomac River and trekked through Rock Creek Park with congressmen.

Learn lesson #1 from President #26: Make physical fitness a key part of your aging smart plan. Keeping your body tight will help keep your brain right. Studies show that exercise promotes blood flow which keeps your brain healthy and your mind sharp.

Don’t treat exercise as a chore or you won’t be able to maintain your regimen. Once you find something you like, build it into your regular routine. And of course, when you are on those long walks in your local park, make sure to “walk softly and carry a big stick.”

2. Read More

Roosevelt was a voracious reader and devoured many books at once. If you want to be a mentally sharp senior, read more. No matter what you read, you’re actively engaging your mind and warding off mental plaque.

Start by reading the blog and move up to longer materials. I recommend the great biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris.

3. Memorize More

Roosevelt developed his skills by reading a book, end-to-end, usually two or three times over. Roosevelt also memorized faces, speeches and poems. Memorization builds new neural pathways and enhances the ability to retain critical information.

You don’t need Teddy’s strong memory to get started. Start by memorizing a short limerick or excerpt from famous speeches such as Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena passage. Begin with a couple lines a day, and before you know it entire passages will come to mind with ease.

4. Write More

President Roosevelt wrote prolifically during his life, authoring numerous books and editing the weekly publication, The Outlook.

Roosevelt wrote about issues that he was passionate about. From national parks to foreign diplomacy, he carried his message through the medium of the written word. In fact, personal letters to world leaders brokering peace negotiations during the Russo-Japanese war earned Roosevelt a Nobel Peace Prize.

For your part, writing can be cathartic. The act of physically writing in longhand form stimulates many cells in the reticular activating system (RAS) of the brain. Writing and shaping words with a pen hones your focus to the task at hand. Also, you retain information better when writing out words longhand as opposed to typing them.

What do you care about? Write about those first. Who do you care about? Write to them first!

5. Play More

Play is an important and underused way to train your brain.

President Roosevelt didn’t have the benefit of modern technology, but you do. Take advantage of 21st-century advances. Download brain training apps such as Luminosity. Try board games with your friends or do the Sunday crossword puzzle.Senior Adults Playing Bocce Ball It’s not boar hunting with “TR,” but it might just help save your brain.

6. Embrace Variety

Roosevelt mastered everything from big game hunting to literary criticism. My friend Andy Robin writes about living the “Tapas Life” — doing a bit of this and a bit of that, like the small plates of tasty food served all over Spain. That sort of life takes effort, but can be filling, fun and meaningful. Most important, a life filled with variety can keep you mentally active and engaged.

Start your day using your professional experience to help an organization in need. Then spend your afternoon with your friends before making a new tapas recipe for your neighbors.

Be like Teddy. Instead of harnessing all your energy into one sole activity, diversify your interests. Sample the things you like and do bits and pieces of them a bit more. This sort of life isn’t multi-tasking, it’s multi-enjoying. Variety stretches your brain and keeps you limber, sharp and smart as you head into the senior years.

7. Learn A Foreign Language

Studies show that people who are bilingual stave off the onset of dementia longer than their monolingual counterparts. Memorizing grammar and vocabulary actively improves your memory. You get to flex your mental muscles every time you recall how to formulate a sentence or remember how to conjugate a verb.

Roosevelt spoke French and German well, in addition to rudimentary Latin and Greek. You don’t have to be a fluent in a half-dozen languages to experience the benefits; just start with one new language and see where it takes you.


There you go! Following the tips above won’t get your face etched into the side of Mount Rushmore. But when you stay sharp as you age, you’ll have plenty of time to etch new memories into the minds of the ones you love.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

The Top 6 Reasons Your Assisted Living Community Should Have a Dog

Elderly man with dogHaving a dog, or even multiple animals, in an assisted living facility is rapidly becoming an accepted practice for both the physical and mental health of residents. There are numerous incredible benefits to having a dog, many of which may not be immediately apparent.

1. Increase Physical Activity
An assisted living facility may quickly find that residents are more likely to go outdoors and become active when they know that they can interact with their shared companion. Something as simple as tossing a ball around the yard for a few hours may actually have a measurable impact on a resident’s health, and will get them out into the fresh air and sun.

2. Boost Mood
It’s a well-known, scientific fact that dogs, as well as cats, can be a fantastic mood booster and stress reliever. Having a dog around will balance out the emotions of your residents, and ensure that they are happier within the community. Having a companion around can give a senior a sense of purpose, and make them feel less alone.

3. Improve Health
By increasing the mood of residents overall, a dog can actually increase their health. Studies have shown that the physical health of a person can be affected by how happy and stress-free they feel; thus, having a dog could potentially augment both the length and quality of their lives. Pets have been known to decrease cholesterol levels as well as fight depression.

4. A Draw for Families
Children tend to get fussy when visiting assisted living communities, but having a friendly dog close at hand will distract them and allow for a better quality of visits. Children don’t always understand how important their visiting hours are, and a pet can help by giving them something additional to look forward to.

5. Smooth Transitions
Many of those entering into an assisted care facility may have had pets of their own in the past but may not be able to take care of them on their own any longer. Rather than having to yearn for the pet they once had, they can interact with and take care of a new pet but aren’t solely responsible for all the upkeep.

6. Less Upkeep
Pets are an intrinsic part of life, but a community may be wary of adding resident-owned pets to the mix for a variety of reasons; too many pets can contribute to allergies, they may not be properly taken care of and they may not always be safe.

7 Depression-Busting Activities for Seniors

Seniors are more likely than any other age group to commit suicide, reports the National Institute of Health. Why is that? Chronic pain, lack of purpose or loneliness can contribute to the depression seniors feel. While professional intervention is essential for seniors who feel deeply depressed or suicidal, you can help your parents stay upbeat and positive when you encourage them to participate in dozens of depression-busting activities.

Depression-busting activities for seniors

1. Go Outdoors
Physicians recommend that depressed individuals spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day because the sunshine boosts moods. Your parents benefit from the sun when they sit on a bench and people-watch, and they can also participate in a variety of outdoor activities.

  • Join an outdoor birdwatching group and learn to identify the local birds.
  • Start a small container garden on the windowsill, deck or common area.
  • Meet friends for an outdoor picnic, game of shuffleboard or walk around the block.

2. Hang out With Friends
Laughing, chatting and enjoying life with friends can be one of the fastest ways to reduce depression. Your parents can prioritize friendship in their daily routine when they:

  • Join community game nights at their assisted living center.
  • Start a comedy club or put on a variety show with a group of friends.
  • Go shopping for cheerful home décor, new books or clothing.
  • Call or chat online with a family member or friend every day.
  • Join and become active in a local civic group or church.

3. Volunteer
Acts of service ward off depression, provide personal satisfaction and remind your parents that they still have many good years left to live. With their life experiences and professional training, your parents can volunteer at a nearby school, library or charity and make a difference in the world.

4. Adopt a Pet
Animals brighten spirits with their companionship, so give your parents a cat, dog, hamster or bird to care for and love. If they can’t own a pet, encourage them to play with a community pet or volunteer at the local animal shelter.

5. Exercise
Your parents may not run marathons like 101-year-old Fauja Singh, but regular exercise will diminish depression. They can walk, swim, golf or do yoga to boost serotonin levels and stay upbeat.

6. Enjoy Hobbies
With their hobbies, your parents create items that bring them pleasure, reinforce their purpose in life and reduce depression. Help your parents set up a hobby corner in their apartment, and stock it with knitting needles and yarn, paintbrushes and canvases, hammer and nails or whatever hobbies your parents enjoy.

7. Music
Even if your parents can’t hold a tune, music lifts their spirits. Program their favorite songs onto an iPod or computer playlist, buy them a Sirius or other satellite music subscription or stock CDs for their stereo as you encourage your parents to use music as an anti-depressant.

Depression affects millions of seniors, but numerous activities lift your parents’ spirits and help them stay positive. Encourage your parents to fight depression by staying active.

Mars and Venus Getting Heart Healthy: Know the Signs of a Heart Attack

February is American Heart Month

John Gray revealed some ground-breaking insights into the vast differences between men and women in his now-famous book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. It was the start of a prolific series that’s so well-known that the original title has become a widely-understood expression in the English language.

Men and women are different in more than just the language of love. The physical characteristics of the heart might be the same, but the signs of a heart attack are quite different between men and women.

Heart Disease Causes 1 in 4 Deaths Each Year

Contrary to former popular belief, women are just as likely as men to have a heart attack. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women, and it takes more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Mainstream knowledge emphasizes the signs and symptoms in men: the “classic,” chest-clutching depiction we see in the media. But even that’s not accurate. No two heart attacks are alike, even for the same individual – and some are silent, with few or no obvious symptoms.

Signs of a Heart Attack in Men

Heart attacks are also the number one killer of men, identified as the cause of more than half of all deaths among men in 2009.

The most common signs of a heart attack in men include:

  • Chest pain or burning
  • Chest pressure or tightness
  • Chest discomfort

The pain and other sensations may come and go, and men commonly say they’re noticed on exertion. There are other major warning signs of heart attack in men, as well:

  • Pain or discomfort in arms (one or both), back, neck or jaw
  • Stomach pain or heartburn-like feelings in the abdominal area
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, nausea or cold sweats

Signs of a Heart Attack in Women

Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women. However, women are much more likely to experience the less obvious symptoms, according to Go Red for Women, an American Heart Association-affiliated organization that promotes awareness of cardiovascular disease in women.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, sometimes with chest discomfort
  • Cold sweat, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or nausea
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • Extreme fatigue

Women may also experience the classic signs of a heart attack, such as:

  • Pressure, tightness or squeezing feeling in the chest
  • Chest pain or pressure in the upper back

The uncomfortable pressure, tightness and pain in the chest may come and go, or it may last for more than a few minutes. According to the American Heart Association, women often brush off the subtle signs as something like the flu and delay calling 9-1-1 as a result.

According to the CDC, nearly half (47 percent) of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of the hospital setting, suggesting that we’re not recognizing the early warning signs in time to seek life-saving treatment. Learn the signs and symptoms. If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack, don’t wait – call 9-1-1 immediately. Those 30 extra seconds could be the very moments that save your life or the life of your loved one.