LSS Blog

Living Healthy to 100: Five Tips from a Top Gerontologist

DSC_0608By Danita Blackwood
Thinking about your health? You might listen to David Carr, M.D., the clinical director for the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Carr has reviewed thousands of medical studies in his practice and has some positive news about healthy aging: we can achieve significantly healthier outcomes with easy lifestyle changes and less effort than you might think.

So what are the top five tips this healthy aging expert shares with patients?

“Exercise is number one,” Dr. Carr says. “There are studies that suggest regular physical activity can have positive effects on physical health, quality of life, and cognition. Even as little as 20 minutes of walking a day can yield great benefits.”

Thirty minutes of exercise, five times a week, is the minimum bar set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Build up gradually in your regular routine. For example, choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the distant side of a parking lot instead of circling until a spot near an entrance opens up.

Dr. Carr’s longevity prescription also includes a workout for your brain and social life. “Cognitive and social stimulation are number two,” he says. “There is simply not much stimulation if you stay home alone and watch TV. The brain is like a muscle – it needs to be used, stimulated, and pushed.”

In his geriatric medical practice, Carr has found having a “care” is part of the “cure”, because people who have social connections live longer. “Interacting with other people in social situations is crucial. It’s also important to keep your hobbies going – board games, puzzles, cards, playing a musical instrument, staying active in volunteer work.”

Dr. Carr’s number three tip is focused on your plate: “A good heart healthy diet will probably also turn out to be great for the brain,” he says. “You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and consume fish at least a couple of times a week.”

His next tip for living to 100 or more includes regular health checks to catch diseases early when they’re still treatable. “Controlling risk factors for vascular disease is tip number four. We know the number one killer of the brain and heart is vascular disease or atherosclerosis. If you have high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you should see your family doctor for treatment, and keep those risk factors under control.”

Finally, Dr. Carr has found relaxation to be vital. “I’m convinced that high stress levels over a lifetime can have a very negative impact on our organ systems,” he says. “So trying to keep stress under control is probably the fifth leg of the table.”
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Healthy living is the cornerstone of life at a Lutheran Senior Services community. Plus, they’re great places to meet new friends, explore new hobbies, and experience an active lifestyle. Visit us at LSSLiving.org today to learn more.

Mr. Roboto, RN — Why We’re Talking About Robot Caregivers for Seniors

Mr. Roboto RNBefore we talk about robots, let’s talk about the flying car. From “The Jetsons” to “Back to the Future” and beyond, the flying car has long been the quintessential American vision of what the future would (and should) look like. Recently, the Pew Research Center asked 1,000 U.S. residents what they thought about various futuristic technologies, and the flying car topped the list of inventions that we can’t wait to see come to market.

But let’s stop for just a second and think about this. On a daily basis, how many old cars do you see broken down on the side of the highway? How many vehicles that ran out of gas or experienced technical difficulties halfway between one destination and another.

Now think about what would have happened if that car broke down…while flying over your house.

Which is not to say the flying car is a bad idea; after all, no invention is inherently good or bad. It’s all in how it’s used. And that brings us to another futuristic technology — one that Americans felt least optimistic about on that Pew study mentioned earlier — robotic caregivers for the elderly.

A national conversation has been brewing on this subject for some time now, spurred in part by the release of the 2012 feature film “Robot & Frank.” In that movie, Frank Langella plays a retiree (also named Frank) whose son is so overtaxed with busy work and family schedules that he is unable to provide the help his aging father needs. His answer: a robotic live-in caregiver to help Frank live safely in his home.

There are a lot of busy working families for whom “Robot & Frank” struck a chord. And when you add in the idea that the senior population is set to double in size within the next 15 years thanks to the aging Baby Boomers…and then add in predictions of nursing shortages to handle the growing need for caregivers…you can see why this conversation is beginning to heat up.

Right now, major companies and thinktanks are working toward developing helper machines to assist seniors in their homes. One robotics firm, Giraff Technologies, predicts this new market could become a $10 billion a year industry by as soon as 2016. Other groups are already coming to market with self-guided mechanical nurses and other robotic medical assistants.

Slowly but surely, robots are becoming a part of everyday life. After all, Roomba self-guided vacuums have been tidying up our houses for years and law enforcement agencies have been using ‘bots for bomb disposal details for almost as long. But is it inevitable that robots will find their way into the medical industry?

The jury is still out on that. Either way, it’s important to remember that, just like the flying car, no invention is inherently good or bad. It’s all in how it’s used.

“I think it’s safe to say that no robot will ever really be able to replace a human nurse in the ways that really matter,” says Jennifer Duhon, director of assisted living at Peoria’s Lutheran Hillside Village senior living community. “It’s one thing to pass out medications and register vital signs, but human interaction plays such a crucial role in healthcare.”

“It’s all about the little things,” Jennifer says. “A comforting touch on the shoulder. Being able to ‘read’ the need in a person’s eyes when they don’t want to talk about what’s really bothering them. No matter how sophisticated a machine gets, it will never really ‘get’ how to give the kind of care people really need.”

It could be that robotic caregivers end up becoming very useful tools in a family’s toolbox — someone to help an aging parent out of bed or to place a call if a grandparent suffers a fall in the home. But if healthcare ever became entirely automated, it goes without saying that something important would be lost. It’s up to all of us to remember that when it comes time to make decisions about long-term care for our aging loved ones.

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If you’re thinking about your future plans, Lutheran Senior Services communities are great places to start. Offering independent living apartments and patio homes, our warm, welcoming campuses offer easy access to assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing should your needs change. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Fran Reinagel: Meet Meridian Village’s Very Own “Ace of Cakes”

DSC_9422bIf you watch television at all, chances are you’ve seen ads for at least one show dedicated to the art of cake decoration. Well, long before “Ace of Cakes” went on the air, Fran Reinagel had been there and done that.

For 25 years, Fran was the head of “Fran’s Cake Decorating,” a small business with a big clientele. “We worked out of our house,” Fran says. “Sometimes we did one cake per weekend, sometimes we did as many as eight. Eight cakes made for a crazy weekend.”

Operating out of her 600 square foot garage, Fran baked up creations that were the centerpieces for countless weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. And when she wasn’t working for her customers, she was teaching the next generation of decorators. “One of my students went on to win a lot of these contests you see on TV,” Fran says. “That was nice to see her do so well.”

IMG_1521bAfter Fran’s husband passed away, she decided it was time for a change, so she began the process of moving to Meridian Village. “I didn’t want to cut two acres of grass every few weeks,” she says, “so I donated my house to the LSS Home Conversion Program. They took care of everything and it takes a certain amount off my service fee each month. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

“I’m really liking it here,” Fran says. “There’s a lot to do. For example, I’d never been line dancing before and now I’m in the club. I’d never played water volleyball before, and now I’m on the team.” And in fact, Fran and her fellow Meridian Village Barracudas just won silver at the Senior Olympics! “There’s so much to do here you have to pick and choose because you can’t possibly do everything.”

But it seems Fran is determined to try. To help her out, she recently purchased a new Segway scooter to get back and forth between her patio home and the main building. Now that Fran’s out of the bakery, she’s ready to try her hand at all kinds of new things!

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Glen Carbon, IL 62034, Meridian Village senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Basketweaving at Laclede Groves: An Old Artform in a Brand New Space

Basketweaving is among the oldest artforms in the world, dating back more than 12,000 years. But today at Laclede Groves, residents like Marlene Bohrer, Marie Dunz, Elaine Hilgeman, Marilyn King, and Virginia Moellenhoff are enjoying this most ancient of handicrafts in Laclede Groves’ brand new beautiful arts studio. Built as part of the recent community expansion, the studio is home to many forms of creative expression, but the basketweaving class is one of the most popular offered on campus. Click below to see some of the weavers’ wares!

Basket Weaving at Laclede Groves

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Webster Groves, MO 63119, Laclede Groves senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, residential care, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

“Your Life is What You Choose”: A Day in the Life of Betty Biebel

Bible study. Water aerobics. Luncheons. Charity events. Choir performances. Library services. And those are just a few of the things Betty Biebel does ON campus at Meramec Bluffs.

“I like to stay active,” Betty says, in what may be the understatement of the year. “No matter where you live, your life is what you choose to do with it,” Betty says. “I have neighbors in their 90s who do all kinds of things. It’s all in your outlook, and I choose to stay positive!”

Fortunately, Betty has lots of friends nearby who share that outlook. “I have fantastic neighbors here,” she says. “They love me, and I love them. I had one lady tell me, ‘You’re not only cute but you’re nice, too.’” Betty laughed at that. “I feel very blessed.”

Betty and her husband Harold chose to move to Meramec Bluffs as a way of planning for the future. “None of our kids live in the area. They’re spread out all over the United States,” she says. “LSS has a marvelous Move-In Resources team, and they helped make our move an easy one. And now we are very blessed to be a part of this caring community!”

So what does a day in the life of Betty Biebel look like? Click below to scroll through a few photos of activities Betty takes part in at Meramec Bluffs!

A Day in the Life of Betty Biebel

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Ballwin, Missouri 63021, Meramec Bluffs senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here

iPad Mania at Lutheran Hillside Village

As technology goes, the tablet computer has been adopted by consumers faster than any other computing device ever. That’s certainly true at Lutheran Hillside Village, where a growing number of tech-savvy residents can be seen around the halls checking their email and updating their Facebook statuses on mobile devices.

One such touchscreen afficianado, Garland Criswell, has even started an iPad club, which meets regularly to share the latest tips, tricks, and apps for their favorite new gizmos. Recently, he welcomed Rance Ball from The Digital Store to conduct a class on iPad basics for his friends and neighbors. Click below to see images from the event.

iPad Mania at Lutheran Hillside Village

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Peoria, Illinois 61614, Lutheran Hillside Village senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

America’s Three Most Beautiful Camping Spots, According to Lois Templeton

Lois Templeton, Breeze Park ResidentLooking to do some camping this summer? Before picking a destination, you’d be wise to talk to Lois Templeton.

“Before I moved to Breeze Park,” Lois says, “my husband John and I did a lot of camping and traveling. We went all over the country in a camper, and let me tell you — there are so many beautiful things here.”

So for her money, which was the best spot to camp? “Colorado was my favorite,” she says. “We loved it. We went back to Rocky Mountain National Park almost every year.” A close second for her was Yellowstone with its natural geysers, while the Smokey Mountains come in in third place. “But they’re all good. We have such a beautiful country to explore.”

Nowadays, Lois spends much of her time exploring her home at Breeze Park. “I do a lot of walking here,” she says. “I have to get out. If you just sit in your room, that would be boring.” When the weather’s nice, you can find her in the shady courtyard outside the window of her apartment. When it’s not as nice, she walks the halls and hits the gym to work with the weight machines.

Always moving…that’s Lois. And having just hit the 100-year mark, she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “I don’t get bored,” she says with a smile. “I’m a positive thinker. I try to look for the good in things. The way I see it, there’s always something to do, and here, I have people to do things with.”

May we all have such an outlook when we reach our first century!

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in St. Charles, MO 63304, Breeze Park senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing.  For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Dog Days at Lenoir Woods

May 8 will go down in history at Lenoir Woods as the day the place went to the dogs. The community snipped the ribbon on its brand new dog park — a sun-dappled stretch of wooded grassland perfect for playing fetch with your four-legged friend. Many of our residents (human and canine alike) turned out to celebrate with a barbecue lunch and a quick romp around the place. Click below to see pictures from the day’s festivities!

Dog Days at Lenoir Woods

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Columbia, MO 65201, Lenoir Woods senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Digital Fever: Chellis DeFord is LHV’s Resident Technophile

Explorer_June2014_LHV_Story1_BlogThe stockholders at Best Buy would LOVE Chellis DeFord.

Sitting on his couch in front of his SmartTV, he opens up his Chrome Book laptop to check his email. On one side of him he has his Kindle Fire for reading eBooks. On the other side, he has his iPad.

Chellis just has a natural affinity for technology. “It just attracts my attention,” he says. “I’m not a golfer. I don’t watch football. Keeping up with technology is a hobby of mine.”

It’s a hobby he came to later in life, he says. “I worked almost 40 years for the phone company, so I always was around kind of a smattering of technology,” he says, “but I didn’t get my first computer until 1994.” After taking a class in the basics of computer usage from a local college, he was just hooked.

Of course, he doesn’t spend all his time watching YouTube on his flatscreen; he’s been spending a lot of time exploring his new home at Lutheran Hillside Village. “With my wife gone, I wanted to do something and move somewhere while I was still young and able,” he says. “I didn’t want to wait and end up having to make my kids make that decision for me. They were tickled to death about that. This was all my idea; this is what I wanted.”

In the year since he moved in, Chellis hasn’t looked back. “Winter was great. I barely stuck my nose out the door,” he says with a grin. “They’ve got everything right here. Everybody’s so polite, and they make it clear that they’re all here to help you.”

If the definition of technology is a tool to make your life easier, would it be safe to say Lutheran Hillside Village is the ultimate technology? “I don’t know about that,” Chellis says. “But I will say I’m well pleased by what I see here. This place has been the best.”

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Peoria, Illinois 61614, Lutheran Hillside Village senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Meramec Bluffs, Meet CityGarden

An elegant little urban playground nestled in the heart of downtown St. Louis, CityGarden features delightful art installations and well-manicured landscaping to delight the senses. Our residents took a leisurely tour of the place, and had a chance to sample the avant-garde hamburgers at Bailey’s Range restaurant while they were in the neighborhood! Click below to see images from our CityGarden trip!

Meramec Bluffs, Meet City Garden

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We'd love to hear from you! Located in Ballwin, Missouri 63021, Meramec Bluffs senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here