by Judy Baxter, Marketing Director • Westchester Village of Lenexa
The action of MOVING evokes a variety of thoughts and emotions. Some people view it as an adventure and look forward to the change, but others prefer routine and consistency and are reluctant to change. Some moves are cross country, across town, down the street; to an apartment, to a house or to a senior living community.
The reasons to consider moving to a senior living community are many. They can range from the desire to downsize, freedom from home maintenance and repairs, costs, health concerns, death of a spouse, proximity to family, safety/security, longing for friendship and community. I welcome the opportunity to meet with individuals as they begin to explore the idea of senior living. During our discussions, I ask, “What are your priorities in selecting a senior living community?” Often times that question is met with a puzzled look and a shrug of shoulders. Another perspective is “At the end of the day as you evaluate the several communities visited, what will be the points of comparison between the communities?” These points of comparison then become your priorities.
While priorities will vary from person to person, here are some common points of consideration in selecting a senior living community.
- Is the community a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)? A continuing care retirement community offers independent living, assisted living, short-term rehab, and long-term care. When you begin to need more assistance you are able to relocate to the appropriate level of care without the need to find a different community. Moving to a CCRC gives you and your family the security of knowing that your needs will be cared for in the future regardless of what the future holds.
- Financial model. Communities have different financial models ranging from monthly rentals to entrance deposits (oftentimes hundreds of thousands of dollars) with monthly fees.
- Location of community/proximity to family. Oftentimes individuals desire to live closer to family, medical community, church, etc.
- Right-size. Sometimes referred to as downsizing, this is selecting a residence with the space an individual uses on a daily basis (i.e. bedroom, bathroom, living room, dining area, and den), not the 4-bedroom house for the extended family’s annual visit. There is always a guest room within the community or a nearby hotel for occasional guests.
- Sense of Community. Living alone can lead to social isolation and seclusion. A community provides an engaging environment with peers and an opportunity for friendship.
These are just a few points to consider when selecting a senior living community. Remember this is a personal decision, and there are many great choices to select from!
Part two of a four-part series on getting rid of back pain for good
This month we are focusing on strengthening our backs. This is a part of the body that often gets neglected. We experience much of the world from the front, and therefore we have a higher awareness of the function and form of our front body. Back muscles can also be challenging to isolate when doing strength exercises, and often other muscle groups step in to take over even when our aim is to strengthen the back. It is important to strengthen the back because the muscles of the back stabilize the spine, but also because the complementary muscles of the core tend to be stronger and the unequal balance of strength can lead to posture instability and pain. Give these exercises a try, and see how much better your back feels with some focused strength training!
This exercise focuses on strengthening your upper back. Sit on a stool, exercise ball, the floor, or backward on a chair so you don’t have anything behind you to get in the way. Bring your right hand behind your head with your right elbow pointing directly to the side. Roll your shoulders down your back and focus on maintaining a straight spine. Now twist back while thinking about pulling your right shoulder blade toward your left hip. You won’t really be twisting down toward your back hip, but visualizing that movement helps activate all the muscles along your back. Be sure to really think about using those muscles between your shoulder blades as this movement can be simply a mobilization exercise if you don’t focus on really utilizing the right muscles. Once you’ve gotten the movement figured out, contract back into the twist on an exhale and release to neutral on an inhale. Do five sets each side.
Need a bit more support during the exercise? If you are facing backward on the chair, you can hold onto to the back of the chair with your opposite hand for stability. You can also do this exercise in water or lying on your stomach. If you do decide to try it on your stomach, turn your head the direction you are twisting to avoid discomfort in the neck and make sure you aren’t using the muscles on the top of the shoulders that connect to the neck to pull you around but truly those muscles between the shoulder blades. If you’d like a challenge, try the twist on all fours in a tabletop position. It will add the benefit of balance and core stability. Word to the wise: stretch your wrists before and keep a blanket handy for under your knees!
Cactus heart opener
While seated in your chair and facing the front this time with your feet flat on the floor and spine erect, extend your elbows out to the side with your hands pointed up at a ninety-degree angle. This is the “cactus” pose. Now bring your attention to the muscles between your shoulder blades, and shorten that distance by activating those muscles and pulling your shoulder blades together. You should feel similar muscles activating as your seated twist, but it may be easier to isolate the right muscles and leave your upper trapezius out of the mix. This time, inhale as you extend your heart forward and elbows back; exhale as you release back to neutral. Do this one 10 times if you can. If it’s too strong of a stretch in your shoulders, bring your hands behind your head like you did in the first exercise. Feel free to try this one standing or in water as well.
If you’d like an added challenge that targets the same muscles, lay on your stomach with your hands on the ground in front of your shoulders. Press your upper body up with your hands, leaving your elbows bent. This is an extended cobra pose for anyone who practices yoga. From this position, feeling that great stretch across your front and the muscle activation along your back, try bringing your heart space forward, drawing your shoulder blades together and releasing a few times. You can even bring yourself up to your fingertips for more of a challenge. If you feel any pain in your lower back, bend your elbows more and bring your upper body closer to the ground.
This one says it all in the title! Lay your body flat on the ground with your arms extended in front of you. You may want a soft mat underneath you to take pressure off the ribcage and hip bones. Lift your arms and legs up the same time, really feeling that activation in your back. Lower and relax. Make sure you keep your head in a neutral position between your extended arms when you rise up to avoid straining the neck. Check as you do this exercise if you feel your glutes turn on, and if you don’t, turn them on! Our glutes are often disengaged and they are so important for keeping our hips stable and our back working the way it should!
If you didn’t feel your glutes before, now you’re going to. Come to a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Make sure your knees are tracking over your toes as you bend your knees. This will send your tailbone back so your spine is straight and your tailbone isn’t tucking under. You will find your back is in a slight forward diagonal. Check that your glutes are active and you have a straight line from your tailbone to the top of your head. This will require a bit of effort through the upper back to avoid hunching forward or opening through the chest.
To really get strengthening through the back, try your arms in a few different positions. Feel the difference in your body between arms directly in front of you, out to the side in cactus, or even extended over your head in the same diagonal line as your back. If you need to reduce the challenge, hold on to a wall or chair in front of you. Squat and straighten five times, really taking your time and focusing on form. If you want an additional challenge, come to a squat and raise and lower an inch from your bent position, pulsating with a small range of motion deep in your squat. This will wake up your legs and glutes for sure, offering your back the strong foundation it needs to maintain healthy posture during the day.
These exercises can be integrated into the stretching you are already doing. Try a couple of the stretches before strengthening to mobilize your body. Follow this with a few of the strengthener, and finish up with another stretch to cool down. You have several options so you can mix up your exercises each day while still working on the same goal. For the overachievers out there, really focus on engaging your core as you move through these exercises. We will be working on the core next month, but truly healthy movement involves the integration of all muscle groups working together. Practice daily and you will be thrilled with the results!
A warm and delicious Golden Milk recipe with health benefits
There is nothing better when the weather starts to get colder than a warm beverage hug. Coffee is often a no-brainer in the morning, but as the day goes on it gets trickier to find a suitable choice to soothe that afternoon or evening need for a warm drink. Coffee and many teas offer too much caffeine late in the day, and hot chocolate spikes the blood sugar.
Turmeric Lattes, also commonly called Golden Milk, can be a great solution for a comforting cup to wrap your hands around this winter season. Not only does it avoid the side effects of other popular warm beverages, it actually offers healing benefits as well. And it’s best enjoyed in front of a fireplace.
Benefits of Ingredients
Turmeric is a powerful natural healing agent. It is perhaps most well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This means that turmeric can help with arthritis, IBS, joint pain, and indigestion.
2) Coconut Milk
Besides being delicious and creamy, coconut milk is said to be a powerful antifungal and antiviral supplement. It is also a great option for people who don’t handle dairy well. If you are concerned about the fat content of coconut milk, replace with any milk or milk substitute of your choice.
Avoid those hard to pronounce ingredients in store-bought coconut milk by making your own. Use 1-2 tablespoons of coconut cream per cup of water and blend or whisk together for a two-ingredient option.
3) Black Pepper
This simply helps your body absorb the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric. Not much is needed to do the trick!
Ginger, besides also being anti-inflammatory, can help aid digestion, relieves symptoms of musculoskeletal ailments, and can even promote cardiovascular health.
Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar and reduce pain for arthritis sufferers. It also tastes great!
Cloves may help balance blood sugar, and also are high in manganese which can help increase bone density.
This golden elixir, if allowed on your diet, is a must. Local varieties can help protect against seasonal allergies, it can be antibacterial, and it’s a natural sweetener!
4 cups of milk of coconut milk
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon and extra to garnish
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground clove
Sprinkle of ground black pepper
Honey to taste
Cinnamon Stick/Cloves (optional)
1) Blend all ingredients in a blender.
2) Separate into separate mason jars to store in the fridge for individual use.
3) To heat, pour 1 serving into saucepan and heat up to 5 minutes without letting tea
boil. Stir occasionally.
4) Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick or cloves.
Tuition waivers, scholarships, and grants make lifelong learning possible for mature University students.
The high cost of secondary education is a rather hot topic, and it has certainly influenced most of our lives in one way or another. Perhaps you are still helping your children or grandchildren pay off their education. While so much energy is focused on funding education for younger generations, you may not have considered your own potential to return to school. Once you hit 65, you may have the option to go back to school for a reduced rate or even for free. The trend of seniors attending lifelong learning programs is on the rise, and it may be something worthwhile to consider.
While some seniors elect to go back to school in hopes of an encore career transition, many enjoy simply studying topics of interest. Mature students find this to be an excellent way to fill free time and to expand their community ties. If the excitement hasn’t kicked in for you already, Science Daily quotes a study by Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas regarding challenging the aging mind. “Although there is much more to be learned, we are cautiously optimistic that age-related cognitive declines can be slowed or even partially restored if individuals are exposed to sustained, mentally challenging experiences.” Check out the many options available that give you the chance to put your brain to the test!
The Bernard Osher Foundation
A great place to start your search for senior college programs is with the Osher Foundation, which sponsors programs at over 120 schools across the nation. Iowa State University is one of the many locations of this program, which offers seniors classes ranging from 4-6 weeks at the rate of $45-$60 for a class.
While there isn’t a specific format to how an Osher Foundation program works, there are a few key consistencies amongst the programs they sponsor. Their programs are for adults 50 and older who are seeking non-credit educational programs. They have the support of the leadership at the colleges and universities involved, claim a diverse range of courses, and routinely gauge the satisfaction of course participants.
You can find more information, including a complete list of schools that participate with the Osher foundation on their website.
Many universities have tuition waivers available to senior students. In Missouri, all residents over the age of 65 attending a state-supported institution are exempt from paying tuition when auditing classes. A similar deal is offered for students over the age of 60 at the University of Kansas and Oklahoma State University. The blog A Senior Citizen Guide for College has a list you can use to jump start your search for a university near you that offers reduced or waived tuition for seniors. This list isn’t exhaustive, so have a chat with your preferred college if it’s not on the list to see what your options may be.
FAFSA, 529, and Tax breaks
If you are interested in studying a course for credit or studying somewhere where tuition waivers aren’t available, you will find that you still have plenty of opportunity at your fingertips. The options you came across when your children or grandchildren applied for school may apply to you as well!
Research scholarships online to see if you can find anything that you qualify for. Be sure to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you show that you need financial assistance and are attending college at least part time, your age doesn’t exempt you from receiving state or federal aid.
Do you have money left in a 529 College Savings Account from one of your family members? You can change yourself to the beneficiary and use the remaining money to pay your college expenses.
Last of all, remember to claim your education tax break. You’ll deserve that break after all your hard work in class!
How to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner while living with diabetes
Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of community, gratefulness, and enjoyment. The last thing anyone wants to think too much about is the health of their plate. However, that is a necessary reality for diabetics during the holiday season and is sometimes a cause for stress. We’ve got you covered with a few tips and some delicious recipes that will take the anxiety out of meal planning and have you looking forward to sharing quality time with family and friends.
Tell your friends or family you have diabetes! Don’t be afraid of being a burden. Your host will want you to enjoy your meal, so they’ll be glad you said something. If they don’t know what your diet entails, offer to chat with them about your needs or volunteer to bring some dishes of your own.
Take care of yourself
Don’t fall into the trap of skipping meals to allow for extra carbs and sugar at dinner. Eat regular meals before the big event to keep your blood sugar steady and prevent you from overindulging. Be sure to test your sugar levels and do some exercise; a post-dinner walk could be a great new family tradition!
Enjoy your meal
If you’ve planned ahead, there should be plenty of food at the table you can enjoy. But there are ways to enjoy your dinner even if you don’t have any control over the spread. Try small tastes of things that look great. Sacrifice alcohol and starches early in the meal if you’d like to sample some dessert at the end. Dive into salads and white turkey meat. And, most of all, savor what you eat. Taking the time to enjoy your meal will make you appreciative rather than making you feel like you’re missing out.
We’ve included links to some diabetic friendly recipes you can use to substitute some holiday favorites. Be sure to compare the ingredients with the diet plan you’ve laid out with your doctor, as there is no one-size-fits-all diet for diabetics.
This recipe replaces white bread with whole grains rather than the white bread used in most stuffing recipes.
Canned cranberry sauce is full of secret ingredients and harmful sugars. This fresh recipe has the zing of the traditional dish without the extra sweeteners.
A sneaky substitute for mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash is tasty and lower in carbs.
This gravy still contains a bit of flour, but is much lower in fat than your normal gravy and will help liven up your white turkey meat.
A Thanksgiving staple! This pie replaces flour with almond flour and has less sugar than your family’s recipe.
Remember to enjoy your holiday. The most important part of Thanksgiving is time with friends and family — the rest is just the icing on the (diabetic-friendly) cake!
8 tips for selecting movers you can count on
The internet promises us endless options and ease when hunting for information, and may be your natural starting point when looking for a moving company. In reality, what a google search often uncovers is shocking tales about scams you’d never even considered possible in scathing reviews on sites like movingscam and ripoffreport. With this important change in your life, the last thing you need to be worrying about is the reliability of the moving company that you are entrusting with a lifetime’s worth of memories and belongings. We’ve compiled a list of the top 8 steps you should take when selecting a moving company you can count on.
1) Talk to people
Your acquaintances, friends, and family are your best resource. Treating your social web as a hive mind is a great practice when looking for any type of recommendations. People love sharing their experiences, good and bad, when asked. Tell everyone you’re moving. You never know when you’ll come across the perfect recommendation; it may even be from your hairdresser!
Posting on your personal Facebook page for recommendations is a great way to use the internet to talk to real people. Beyond that technique, try to avoid the internet as much as possible during this initial step. Scam companies advertise online under different names, and moving brokers can suck you in with the promise of convenience just to send you a sham subcontractor. While the internet is a powerful tool, nothing can replace the value of real person-to-person interaction when looking for a mover you can trust.
2) Do your research
Now that you have a few names to work with, use the internet to do an in-depth background check of the companies you’ve been recommended to make sure they are still operating at the level your friends and family experienced. It may seem like overkill, but if you’ve heard the stories of companies who hold belongings hostage for higher fees, break prized items and refuse to replace them, or simply don’t show up on the day, a little bit of groundwork before the big day is a small price to pay for the security of a seamless move.
There are a handful of reputable sites where you can check your potential moving company’s legitimacy. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start, although not a completely unbiased resource. The Department of Transportation keeps a database of licensed movers for interstate moves. You’ll need the name of the company you’re searching and their U.S. DOT number for your search, which any mover facilitating interstate moves legally must have. Laws from state to state vary surrounding licensing, so you may have to dig a little deeper for information if you are moving in state. AMSA’s website lists reputable moving companies, but isn’t an exhaustive list. And don’t underestimate the power of the consumer; be sure to look on sites like Yelp and Consumer Affairs. Just remember to cross check any reviews you read with multiple sources.
3) Meet in person
You should never hire someone to move your belongings without first meeting in person. This will help you cut down on internet scams, but it also gives you a chance to get a feel for if they are the right company for you. Stop by their office to make sure the address is legitimate in addition to having them come by your house for a formal meeting and a home estimate.
If you can check out their vans on either of these visits, make sure there is a permanent sign on the van’s side. Taking note of the van will help protect you from companies who swap names to avoid the consumer reports. If a van shows up on moving day that is unmarked or has a name different than when you first met, fire the movers immediately.
Also, have them really take a look around your home. They should be asking you questions about how much you intend to bring, if you are packing any items in the pantry or freezer, if you are accumulating more or having a garage sale before the move, and what the layout of your next home or storage facility is. If they don’t ask these questions, move on to the next company on your list.
4) Talk through their plan
A moving company worth your trust will have a plan in place for your move, and should be able to explain it to you. This includes wrapping furniture items, using moving pads, and measuring doorways to prevent damage to your home and belongings. If you are engaging the company to pack your items, they should also have a plan in place for how that will be managed as well.
5) Ask about insurance
Insurance is an important thing to understand when planning for your move. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy is unlikely to cover your belongings when they are in transit. While all moving companies are required to assume liability for your belongings if lost or damaged, the standard coverage they offer is 60 cents per pound. Many companies will also refuse responsibility for damage to your belongings if you pack them yourself. If they don’t offer full coverage or you’re planning to pack for yourself, consider arranging your own moving insurance with a company like movinginsurance.com. Also, be sure they have Workers’ Compensation to protect yourself against liability if a job-related injury occurs on your property.
6) Understand your estimate
A common scam untrustworthy movers employ is lowballing the estimate to be competitive and holding items hostage until you pay their inflated prices upon delivery. So, first ask yourself: does this price seem fair? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Find out how they calculated your estimate. Is it priced by hour? By mile driven? By weight? Is gas included? Have they accounted for all of your possessions? How about for staircases, elevators, or heavy items? If they charge by cubic feet, move on to another mover. Covering these bases will ensure an accurate estimate so you don’t get any surprise fees on moving day.
If the estimate is non-binding, extra fees cannot legally exceed 10% of the original estimate. If you think you’ve been overcharged on delivery day, file a complaint with the moving company, your local Attorney General, the AMSA, and if it is a move across state lines, with the FMCSA.
7) Be wary of deposits
Do not pay a large cash deposit! Only a scam moving company will ask for this, and there is no way to guarantee delivery of items or price upon delivery if you pay a large up-front cash deposit. Most moving companies will not ask for payment until delivery, while some will ask for a small percentage as a deposit. If the deposit seems large, get an estimate from another company to be safe.
8) Check your paperwork
Don’t sign any blank contracts! The company heading should be printed on your paperwork and have the same name as the van and their listing. It should also include their contact information.
Be sure to get an inventory from the movers before they leave. You should also use this inventory sheet to upon delivery to make sure everything arrived at your new home safe and sound.
*Bonus budget tip
Move off-peak! Of course, you can’t always control the timing of a big move. However, you can get a discount if you move during slower seasons. Avoiding the first and last of the month and moving over winter, are a couple of tips for getting the best price from your movers!
If you put in a little legwork before the move, you can have full confidence in your choice in mover and be able to focus on what really matters. Acquainting yourself with your new space should be an exciting and memorable experience, and a seamless move is an important piece of that puzzle.