Tag Archives: tips

Making Your Senior Years the Best Years of Your Life

As we think about the later year of our lives there seems to be two basic schools of thought on the subject: Those who refer and believe them to be the “Golden Years” and those who stress about their age and supposed decline in health and social life that accompanies it. Here’s a couple of questions for us to consider. First, look back on your life and think about which decade was your best. Is it possible that your senior years can be the best years of your life? Or have you already made up your mind that they will be the worst? Have you made a list of your top five goals  as you move into your senior years? For instance they might include financial security, good health, spending time with family or maybe more travel. It’s probably pretty easy to list more than five goals.

Ok, so you’ve written your list, set your goals. Now what? The surprising truth here is that the most successful seniors, in terms of lifestyle and health, are the ones who obsess about it the least. Those who spend time enjoying their retirement and doing what they’ve been looking forward to all these years don’t have time to worry about fulfilling their bucket list. The key is not to obsess about the list. The most fulfilled seniors just live their lives! Simple, right?

The Power of Positive Thinking

There is a lot to be said for and a lot of research to back up the power of positive thinking. Some agree wholeheartedly with the philosophy and others disregard the evidence. When it relates to aging, it all has to do with the attitude that you bring with you into your seniors years. If you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to embrace your future you will have a much more positive experience than someone who enters their 60’s or 70’s kicking and screaming. The latter group is adding so much stress by trying to look and stay young that they actually do themselves a disservice. While this group is fighting mother nature the more positive thinkers are out having fun and enjoying themselves which results in them actually feeling mentally and physically younger. Plus, you have to wonder how much the worry and stress is taking years off their lives.

What are your expectations as a senior?

Are you anticipating more illness, low energy levels, and a general decline during your older years? If that is what you’re expecting, it’s probably what will happen. This is not because the thoughts themselves have any power but instead because you send  signals to your mind and body that there will be no effort to stay fit and healthy. Because there is not effort made in those directions, poor health and low energy will result. This can be referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Seniors who think that they will do well, maintain an active lifestyle and enjoy good health will do just as good as they think they will. Their counterparts with a negative attitude seem to be able to think themselves into illness and old age.

Cause and effect play a huge roll in scheme of things, especially as we age. A common example is someone who is active, gets out more, takes on projects, spends time with others and refuses to let old age get to them are the ones who stay happy and healthy longer and have a better quality of life throughout their retirement years.

Do unto others…

Another paradox of the importance of attitude on the quality of life as a senior has to do with thinking of others more than themselves. Older adults who volunteer and are active in helping others appear to be happier and more successful member so the senior community. Simply put, those who worry about others instead of themselves, benefit the most personally. Conversely, seniors who only worry about themselves have the most to worry about.

So if negativity comes more naturally to you and you’re interested in changing that try seeking better companionship. The old saying, misery loves company, holds true here. To improve your mental attitude hang out with people who are happy and active.  It’s worth it to change your outlook on life after retirement. If your attitude says you will get the best from life as a senior, you will experience just that. In fact, your senior years may end up being the best years of your life!

By: Kristen Sheston

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Manager at The Continental at St. Joseph’s, the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

Visit the website: http://www.thecontinentalatstjosephs.com


How to Be a Heavy Drinker: Hydration for Seniors

As I write this article, we are not experiencing particularly warm weather in Iowa. It’s 64 degrees in June but as soon as I blink it’ll be 101. Hot weather brings up the topic for this month’s informational article. However, hydration is not the only concern for seniors when the weather is warm.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to dehydration. Some of them include diarrhea, vomiting, overheating, diabetes, diuretic medications, high fever and excessive sweating. If you experience any of these, be aware and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids.

You may ask yourself: What is hydration? Well, it refers to a person’s body water balance. Dehydration, which is the real problem, occurs when people don’t have enough fluid in their bodies. Many seniors have problems with hydration. Dehydration is both a serious problem and easy to prevent. If not treated it could result in death.

What puts seniors at greater risk for dehydration? First, is that the ability to feel thirst lessens with age; seniors may not realize when they need to drink more. They may also be using the bathroom more frequently which means they are losing more fluid. Another factor is that as we age we lose muscle and gain fat. Muscle holds water, fat does not. As we age the amount of water in the body decreases. In addition, medications that increase urination or help with constipation can also put seniors at risk for dehydration.

So what should you look for in order to know if you are dehydrated? Symptoms include thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, fatigue and irritability. If it progresses to dizziness, blackouts when sitting up or standing, confusion, muscle weakness or cramping, sunken eyes, low blood pressure or increased heart rate you need to go to the ER or contact your doctor immediately: these are life threatening symptoms.

If you’re not a big fan of dehydration there are steps you can take to be proactive: don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, by this time you’re already experiencing dehydration.

Try carrying a water bottle with you so you can take drinks frequently, aim for a minimum of eight cups of water each day. When the temperature rises, increase your fluid intake, too. This will help replenish what is lost when we sweat. We should all start and end the day with a cup of water. Do not substitute alcohol or caffeinated drinks for water. Last but not least, know the signs and symptoms of dehydration so that you can take action immediately.

Take care, keep hydrated and enjoy the warm weather…..whenever it returns.

The Continental at St. Joseph’s is the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.


By: Kristen Sheston

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Administrator at The Continental at St. Joseph’s

All the Lonely People

After reading an article from “A.A.R.P-The Magazine” about an epidemic of chronic loneliness in our country, I was compelled to share this information with all of you. “This affliction”, experts tell us, “is an ever-present, self-perpetuating condition that pushes people away from relationships that sustain us and make us happy.”

In reading this piece I, being in the assisted living industry and holding the Assistant Administrator position at The Continental at St. Joseph’s in Centerville, Iowa, was excited to hear that age does make a difference with chronic loneliness: “Those who said they are suffering most are not the oldest among us, but rather adults in their 40s and 50s.” Good news for me, not so much for the estimated 44 million adults over age 45 who suffer from it. Aside from age, loneliness was equally represented in those surveyed, regardless of race, gender, or education levels.

Not only is chronic loneliness undesirable, there is also evidence that it significantly increases chances of diabetes, sleep disorders and other potentially life threatening problems and an increased risk of high blood pressure, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, weakened immune systems and Alzheimer’s disease.

So now that you’re aware of what chronic loneliness is and why it’s no good, what can we do to combat it and, in turn, live a healthier, more enjoyable life? While there”s no easy cure, here are some steps that we encourage at The Continental at St. Joseph’s that may help to broaden your horizons:

• Nurture your personal relationships.
• Don’t substitute electronic communication for face-to-face contact.
• Take time to volunteer.
• Join a social club or community organization.
• Stay in touch with former colleagues after you retire.
• Educate yourself about loneliness.

Remember, everyone feels lonely from time to time, for example, after a divorce or loss of a loved one. This is situational and, although painful, is a temporary condition. Chronic loneliness, however, is a destructive cycle that can be difficult to reverse.

This information is vital as the 40-50 year olds surveyed in this study begin to enter their later years. Settings like an assisted living can help older adults battle such situations because of their non-isolating set-up. For example, residents of The Continental at St. Joseph’s are encouraged to eat meals together in the main dining room. Three meals a day are provided and there is a small fee for a room tray if there is no apparent need for one (i.e. illness). In addition, activities are built into each and every day; even when weather is bad there are plenty of people to socialize with and many opportunities to participate which are already planned for them. Likewise, older adults in their own homes may miss out on social interaction for days or weeks if weather is unfavorable.

So in closing, I’d like to remind those feeling lonely, whether temporary or chronic, that they need to start small. Realize that you are vulnerable and that it is not easy to rid yourself of this condition. You will have to work to keep loneliness at bay. You will have to say yes to an offer to participate even when you would rather not. But just like exercise is important for physical health, interacting with others is important for our mental health.

On that note, have a healthy and happy 2011!

Kristen Sheston is Assistant Administrator at The Continental at St. Joseph’s, Inc. in Centerville, Iowa. More information is available at www.thecontinentalatstjosephs.com.