1107 E Eighth St, Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 222-5376

As we age, there is no better place than Northern Michigan to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle. Supporting your physical, mental and emotional health are key pieces to maintaining independence well into the golden years. Here are a few topics that we are exploring to support healthy aging in Northern Michigan:

Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Most older adults want to do everything they can to stay happy, healthy and independent. A good diet supports the physical strength and mental well-being that we all need.

Eating fresh foods can make a profound impact on your heart. Studies show that 70% of heart disease can be prevented with correct nutrition. But eating right isn’t always easy. Surprisingly, as we age, even our taste buds change. Increased sweet and salty cravings can be satisfied by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are they delicious, but they also help reduce cholesterol.

Often people don’t want to buy fresh fruits and vegetables because they worry they will spoil. Most local grocers know this and make it easy to purchase only what you need. You can also keep produce longer by freezing it into individual portion sizes. Having frozen fruits and vegetables on hand is great! It’s convenient and you get to enjoy them all year long.

There are lots of options for finding fresh, local produce in Northern Michigan. Here we are blessed with an abundance of fantastic farmers markets and local grocery stores. Try delicious fresh produce and improve your health in the process.

Fun, Safe Ways to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Getting outside is just as important for your health now as it was when you were a kid. Spending time outdoors exercising or just enjoying the scenery can improve your health and your mood.

In Northern Michigan, there are plenty of opportunities and activities for people of all abilities to enjoy the outdoors. At Hull Park in Traverse City, anyone can walk on the paved pathway, fish from the dock, or sit and watch the boats on Boardman Lake.

Some beaches are equipped with Mobi-Mats, which provide a hard surface across the sand so anyone can get right up to the waterfront. There are lots of Mobi-Mats throughout the region, including Sleeping Bear Dunes, Clinch Park, and the Petoskey State Park.

Another option is to explore trails like the ones at the Grass River Natural Area. The boardwalks covering the trails are wheelchair friendly and provide access to the unique wetland environment.

Or how about getting outside right at home? A walk with family and friends is a good way to socialize and get some exercise. Lawn games such as bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes or even playing board games, are great ways to spend time outdoors.

Shuffleboard is a great social activity! You can find courts across Northern Michigan at senior centers, parks and even some restaurants.

Family Communication from a Distance

Many of us have family members spread across the country and world. Even if you live close by, busy lives can make getting together difficult. Communicating across generations also creates unique challenges. Many technologies in use today were not designed for older adults and can cause frustration.

We know that loneliness increases the risk of high blood pressure, depression, and even the ability to think clearly so staying in touch with the people you care is important.

One solution we’re excited about is the grandPad, an easy to use tablet that makes keeping connected effortless, fun, and secure. Video chatting is as easy as the push of a button. You can record voicemails, share photographs and a lot more. In addition to the grandPad, new technologies, programs and apps are being created every day to make keeping in touch easier.

Scheduling regular phone calls has benefits too. Our loved ones know they can count us, they look forward to the conversations—and that improves overall health and wellbeing.

Of course, using the old-fashioned mail is very much appreciated by the generations that grew up writing letters. Print photographs, send them to your loved ones and talk about them over the phone.

Put some thought into what kind of communication plan will work for you and your family. It’s proven to have a big impact on staying happy and healthy.

Your Aging Brain

As we age, one large concern for many of us is our cognitive health. Becoming forgetful can be challenging. The good news is that we can reduce our risk of cognitive decline. At Comfort Keepers, we encourage our clients to incorporate these four strategies to keep the brain healthy:

  1. Exercise regularly. While the human brain makes up only two percent of the body’s weight, it consumes nearly 25% of the body’s total blood supply. Physical activity keeps that blood pumping.

  2. Stimulate your mind. Simply learning new skills or keeping the brain regularly “exercised” through puzzles, games or a class can make a big difference.

  3. Watch your diet. The brain requires fuel. Feed your brain with healthy choices, including B vitamins, rather than lots of sugar, salt, fat and processed foods.

  4. Stay social. Strong social connections lead to longer life expectancy and improved overall mental well-being. Consider volunteering.

Scientific studies suggest the key to maintaining a healthy brain is active engagement. So keep learning, stay active, and be social!

Kitchen Safety

While the kitchen is considered the heart of the home, an unsafe kitchen can be a disaster for you or an aging loved one. It’s important to consider fire prevention, comfort and convenience, and food preparation and leftovers when making the kitchen safe. Here are five ideas to prevent accidents and stay safe in the kitchen:

  1. Move items that are used most often out of the highest and lowest cabinets and shelves, and into easy-to-reach cabinets and drawers.

  2. Once a week, go through the food in the refrigerator and throw out anything that is expired. Go through your pantry and cabinet items once a month.

  3. Make sure there is adequate lighting over the sink, range, and countertops to avoid spills, cuts or other accidents. You may want to install under-cabinet lighting to help with this. Also, add a night light.

  4. If there are area rugs in the kitchen – or anywhere in the home, remove them. They cause a lot of falls.

  5. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and make sure everyone knows how to use it properly.

Make sure you survey the kitchen with a critical eye. What may seem perfectly harmless to you may be a potential threat to your loved one.

Avoiding the Holiday Blues

This time of year, it can seem like everyone is happy and enjoying the season. But for lots of people, especially for older friends and family members, the holidays magnify feelings of loneliness and loss. Here are a few tips to help aging loved ones avoid the holiday blues:

  1. Include those who might be isolated in social gatherings throughout the season. Make sure the people in your life who cannot drive are able to participate in get-togethers and events. Simple activities like baking and decorating are meaningful and interactive.

  2. Create visual memories of the season by collecting holiday photos and cards. Create an album to share. Talking about the photographs is fun and preserves the history of a family.

  3. Learn or do something new in the new year. Take a yoga class or learn a new computer skill. Plan a getaway, even if it’s just a daytrip, can keep you excited about the future.

  4. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Make sure to eat healthy meals. Stay active and drink lots of water.

Simple activities and time spent together during the season will go a long way toward preventing the holiday blues.

The Three Ms: Medicine, Mobility, and Meals

No matter our age, we all strive for and enjoy independence. For aging Baby Boomers and seniors, maintaining that independence can come down to three M’s: medication, mobility and meals. An issue with one of those three can snowball into a large problem.

  1. Medication It is very important to be consistent with medications. For people of all ages, setting pills up in a medicine box helps with organization and ensures that medication is taken on schedule. Continue to talk with your healthcare provider and your pharmacist if there are any questions or concerns about side effects and dosage.

  2. Meals Nutrition is an important component of health, and that is especially critical for seniors. If you find that cooking and preparing meals is difficult, try a meal subscription and delivery service. Avoid eating processed foods and frozen meals. If you’re an adult child or caregiver, make extra food to bring your family in a serving-sized container.

  3. Mobility The key to maintaining mobility is to stay active. Continue to engage in low impact exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga. Start now, and stay active. Movement goes a long ways, as physical activity strengthens the muscles, heart and lungs.

If any of the three Ms become an issue for you or your aging loved one, talk to your doctor to help determine next steps.

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