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Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors | Senior Living Resource | Leave the Legacy You Want FREEBIES for Seniors | Grandpa Has Alzheimer’s | Alzheimer’s and Dementia: What’s the Difference?

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Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors

Show your heart some love! This is especially important as you age. Why? According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors face a greater risk of suffering a heart attack, having a stroke, or developing heart disease and heart failure. As a major cause of disability, heart disease can also restrict the activity and diminish the quality of life for people living with this condition.


While heart disease poses a greater health risk for seniors, it doesn’t make it inevitable as you age. In fact, a recent study found that, no matter what your age, it’s never too late to improve your health. The research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, links a healthy lifestyle to decreased cardiovascular risk in seniors.

That’s great news because there are plenty of things you can do to prevent heart disease. But before jumping into some solid, heart-healthy habits, get a quick refresher on what a heart attack or stroke looks like.

Be Symptom Savvy
First, it helps to know how to spot the signs of heart disease. In the early stages, heart disease symptoms are either nonexistent or barely noticeable. This makes annual exams a must, allowing your doctor to ask questions and run tests, as needed.

But when heart disease progresses to the point of a heart attack or stroke, knowing the signs could help save your life. According to the American Heart Association, call 911 if any of these signs are present:

Heart attack symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort or pain (usually in the center, lasting more than a few minutes)
  • Upper body discomfort (arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach)
  • Shortness of breath (with or without chest discomfort)
  • Other signs (such as a cold sweat, nausea, or light headedness)

Stroke symptoms (remember F.A.S.T.):

  • Face drooping or numb on one side
  • Arm weakness or numb
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911 if person shows any of these symptoms

Heart-Healthy Habits
Now that you’re savvy about symptoms, you can take preventive steps to reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke occurring. Follow these healthy lifestyle guidelines from the American Heart Association. Take steps today toward a healthier lifestyle with these seven heart-healthy habits.

  1. Get active. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of strenuous aerobic exercise. One of the simplest ways to do this? Walk more. Other aerobic activities include gardening, swimming, and tennis. If you can work in activity to increase flexibility, improve balance, and strengthen muscles twice a week, even better. Stuck for ideas? Try yardwork (think raking leaves or pushing a lawnmower), bike riding, or yoga. Tip: Schedule exercise on your calendar, making it easier to stick to a routine. Strive for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, or 20-25 minutes of activity every day.
  2. Eat better. Focus on eating mostly a plant-based diet, with whole fruits and veggies making up the bulk of the food you eat every day. When eating grains, choose a variety of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, and whole wheat. For dairy (i.e., cheese, milk, yogurt), opt for low-fat and fat-free. Consume heart-healthy proteins such as fish, skinless poultry, lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. When adding fats, choose polyunsaturated oils (such as sunflower and safflower oils) and monounsaturated oils (such as olive, peanut, and canola oils). Avoid saturated and trans fats such as those found in whole milk, butter, tropical oils, and processed foods such as cookies, cakes, and crackers. Tip: Limit salty foods, sugary drinks, sweets, and highly processed foods; drink plenty of water; and watch portion sizes.
  3. Lose weight. Extra pounds can lead to a variety of health issues. Learning to move more and eat healthier helps you shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Keeping a food journal can help you see what you’re eating and how much. Tracking your exercise gives you a glimpse into the frequency and level of activity. Tip: Use tools to help you track your activity, such as a Fitbit, a fitness app on your cell phone (many are free!) or simply marking exercise on a calendar.
  4. Control cholesterol. A fat-like substance, cholesterol comes from two sources—food from animal sources and your body. The “good” cholesterol is HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and the “bad” cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein). The HDL is good because it helps reduce plaque buildup in arteries, partially caused by LDL sticking to artery walls. Plaque buildup blocks blood flow, which can lead to heart disease. Ask your doctor about getting a blood test to measure your cholesterol level. Tip: Healthy lifestyle choices to control cholesterol include eating healthier, exercising, choosing healthy fats, and quitting smoking.
  5. Manage blood pressure. Know your numbers and what they mean. Blood pressure records two values: systolic (the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats) and diastolic (the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between heart beats). It’s written similar to a fraction with the systolic number on top and the diastolic on the bottom. Normal blood pressure is 120 (or less) over 80 (or less) and elevated blood pressure is 120-129 over 80 (or less). High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) starts at 130 over 80 (or higher). Tip: Healthy lifestyle choices to manage blood pressure include eating healthier, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and reducing the amount of sodium you eat.
  6. Reduce blood sugar. Your body turns much of the food you eat into glucose (or blood sugar) to use for energy, so it’s important to make smart food choices. But if your blood sugar level is too high, it can damage your heart (and other parts of your body) and cause diabetes. Tip: Healthy lifestyle choices to reduce blood sugar include eating healthier, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.
  7. Stop smoking. If you smoke, you increase your chances of developing heart disease (and lung cancer). Quitting smoking should top your list of heart-healthy choices. The longer you smoke, the more damage you do to your body. The good news? Your body begins to heal itself as soon as you stop smoking. In just one year of quitting, you’ve cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent! Tip: Make a plan to quit, whether that means going cold-turkey, cutting back gradually, using a nicotine replacement, or seeking help from a health provider. Visit Smokefree60+ for resources designed specifically for seniors. You’re never too old to quit!

By Lisa Beach

Senior Living Resource

Alvernia Manor
Alvernia Manor Senior Living is the “Hidden Gem” that can ease your family’s concerns.  The Mission of this unique senior living community is to provide seniors a loving, safe and caring home.  For over 45 years the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King and their dedicated staff have cared for seniors as their own family with respect, love and concern.  Family and friends refer Alvernia Manor as their “Hidden Gem”.

Alvernia Manor is located on a hilltop in Lemont, IL.  With its beautiful bluff location, the vivid colors of the four seasons are played out annually in panoramic view.  Residents can relax in the privacy of their room or spend spiritual time in the Chapel.  Keeping a resident’s body and mind healthy and active is the goal the Sisters and staff strive for.  Games, exercise, movies, bingo, shopping trips and entertainment are among the many activities on its monthly activity calendar.

Alvernia Manor’s healthcare staff ensures resident’s medications are dispensed, vitals taken and daily health monitored.  Fresh meals are prepared daily and all housekeeping needs attended to.  All this adds up to no more worries for you. In addition, Adult Day Services or Short Term Stay are other available option.  Loved ones receive the care and recreation they need in a safe environment while caregivers go to work or get a much needed break. Come see for yourself all Alvernia Manor offers.  To find out more about this “Hidden Gem” call 630.257.7721.

Aspired Living of LaGrange
Opening Early 2020! Visit our Welcome Center to learn more about this brand-new community in the heart of downtown LaGrange. View renderings and design boards and become an exclusive Cossitt Club member. Be one of he first 30 people to place a risk-free deposit and enjoy rewards, advantages and significan savings.

708-247-1600 |

Welcome Center: 335 N. LaGrange Road, Suite 2, LaGrange Park, IL
Future Community Address: 35 Shawmut Avenue, LaGrange, IL 60525

The Auberge At Naperville
Auberge at Naperville is a specially designed community serving needs of individuals and their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other forms of memory loss. Through our Life Enrichment program, a Montessori-inspired philosophy for care, we create a specialized, life enriching environment that affords each individual maximum self- expression. Our staff is committed to delivering a quality of care that meets our residents physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs.  In addition to our Life Enrichment program we also offer Genesis Rehab Services who provide:

Onsite outpatient clinics providing PT, OT and ST services Mon-Fri

Evidence based rehabilitation programs including Balance in Action® (BIA) Fall Risk Management Program, Otago Exercise Program, Dementia staging using the GDS scale, LSVT BIG and LOUD and GRS pain management

Above industry average outcomes including exceptionally low fall rate due to proactive wellness checks and functional rehabilitation and very low re-hospitalization rate <4%

It can be different…let us show you how. Contact us for a tour – 630-778-9221 or, 1936 Brookdale Road, Naperville, IL 60563.

DuPage Medical Group
At DuPage Medical Group, our patients often approach us with questions regarding Medicare coverage and which plans might be right for them. One such option is Medicare Advantage, which can offer improvements in both cost and overall care.

What are some of the extended benefits?
Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as traditional Medicare, plus additional features through Medicare-approved private companies. Coverage under Medicare Advantage plans often includes preventive care and wellness services such as disease prevention, chronic care management and even gym memberships. Dental and vision coverage are also common features included in Medicare Advantage plans. Lastly, most Medicare Advantage policies include Medicare prescription drug coverage (also known as “Part D”) and do not require Medigap (supplemental) coverage.

Who are good candidates?
Medicare Advantage can be the perfect solution for seniors looking to take more control of their health through expanded healthcare services. Medicare Advantage policyholders secure coverage for a number of services which would not be deemed “medically necessary” under traditional Medicare plans, potentially offering them more peace of mind when it comes to their health.

How does it work?
Each Medicare Advantage plan operates a little differently, making the options more flexible. However, Medicare Advantage costs also change on an annual basis depending on factors like copayments, deductibles, plan network policies and charges for extra benefits.

When is a good time to consider plans?
We encourage patients to discuss health care decisions with their family members and meet with a licensed insurance agent to compare their plan options. Since Medicare costs and plan benefits do change every year, it’s important to review how these fluctuations may impact your health care the following year.

DuPage Medical Group helps coordinate Medicare education seminars at many of our offices. To learn more, visit

Lemont Center
Lemont Nursing and Rehabilitation offers a comprehensive, post-acute rehabilitation program to help individuals return home following an injury or illness.  At Lemont Center, you’ll receive one-on-one therapy designed to help improve function, restore mobility, regain balance, strengthen muscles and recover both quickly and thoroughly.  Lemont offers private rehab suites with private bathrooms for our short term rehab patients.  Our dedicated group of staff and volunteers bring feelings of community to our customers through a variety of innovative, hands-on programs.  Call today to see why Lemont Center is rated 5 stars by CMS!  (630)243-0400 or visit our website at

Midwestern University
Multispecialty Clinic
The Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic in Downers Grove offers a comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare experience for seniors at the Dental Institute, Family Medicine Clinic, Speech-Language Institute, Physical Therapy Institute, and Eye Institute. You will receive exceptional care from a team of highly qualified faculty and graduate-level students. The Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic Institute is located at 3450 Lacey Road, Downers Grove, IL 60515. For more information, visit our website at or call 630-743-4500.

Seniors Helping Seniors
Senior citizens can sometimes feel that they are a burden when they ask family or friends for help, but often have no trouble reaching out to someone their own age.

For over 10 years in the Chicagoland area, Seniors Helping Seniors Home Care,, has provided  in-home services, and matching seniors who need help with engaging, local seniors who can provide the assistance.

The care providers are excellent communicators, with background checks, auto safety checks and training so that they can best help with things like companionship, hygiene and personal care, transportation, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and medication reminders, and just about anything non-medical that might help someone to thrive in their home.

“Seniors Helping Seniors provides seniors with the ability to live an independent lifestyle at home, with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Dan Rattary, Client Relations Director.   “And now we provide free home care to lower-income, qualified, veterans or their spouses!   It is a wonderful program to secure the Aid and Attendance Benefit that our veterans have earned and now need.”

The organization provides a wonderful, flexible income opportunity for active adults who wish to help others in their community.

“Our senior caregivers are fantastic at helping clients with things that slow them down, plus they are trustworthy and positive as they brighten their day!”

If you know someone who needs a little help or a lot, or if you are interested in becoming a caregiver and you are over the age of 45, please contact Seniors Helping Seniors at…

(CORRECTION: Please note that the email address on our ad lists the incorrect email address for the Chicago location. The correct email is as written above …


Terra Vista of Oakbrook Terrace
Welcome to Terra Vista of Oakbrook Terrace, an award winning memory care community centrally located in the western suburbs that is 100% dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

At Terra Vista of Oakbrook Terrace—an innovative and secure memory care assisted living community—we’re here for you and your loved one. 100% of our staff members are trained in the best practices of caring for residents with Alzheimer’s. Our community features barrier-free paths instead of stress-inducing segregated units, brain-stimulating programming, and innovative security and care, all of which is included in our all-inclusive rate.

We’re here for you, too, with comprehensive resources that include expert-led support groups, personal consultations, and educational programs.

Come learn why more than 40% of our residents come from other facilities.  For more information or to schedule a tour with one of our memory care experts call 630-534-0886.  Or visit our website for more information at

Villa St. Benedict
A Community with a History. Villa St. Benedict is a boutique senior living community in Lisle, IL. Their history and spirit make it one of a kind, and a hidden gem in the western Chicago suburbs.

Residents and staff consider each other family at Villa St. Benedict. We are listed at the Top Ten companies to work for in Chicago- NY Times Survey. We have an open-door policy, which leads to beautiful friendships between residents and staff.  “It’s a very special privilege to have our resident’s trust,” says, Director of Nursing. “Every day is different. There is happiness… there is sadness… but having those close relationships with residents is what keeps me going every day.”

The campus has 47 lush acres. The heart of the community is the glorious Sacred Heart Chapel.

Villa St. Benedict’s spirit of love and care that affects the daily tasks, communication, and attitude of all their staff. The Benedictine Core Values of hospitality, respect, stewardship and justice are the foundation of the community’s mission.

Villa St. Benedict offers 2-bedroom Villa Homes, a variety of independent living and assisted living apartments, and a memory care unit. Residents also enjoy many fine amenities including three dining venues, an exercise center, salon, library, outdoor walking paths and seating for enjoying beautiful vistas, and much more. Please contact a sales counselor for information by calling 630-852-0345.

Leave the Legacy You Want

A lifetime of hard work may have rewarded you with a nice home and hefty bank accounts, but what happens to all those assets once you’re gone?

Maybe you want everything to go to the kids. Perhaps a charity or a cause you champion should get a portion. And what happens if, before you die, your mental capacity diminishes and you can no longer make decisions for yourself?

Just thinking about your final wishes – or mentioning them to a close friend over coffee – isn’t enough.

Too many people don’t do the proper planning to make sure that any wealth they’ve accumulated over the years ends up where they want it to. Of course, that’s not going to cause any problems for the deceased because they’ll be gone. Those left behind, though, could end up feuding over property, paying more taxes than necessary, or just becoming stressed as they try to put together the puzzle pieces of your estate.

But you don’t have to leave your heirs guessing about your intentions. You need to create an estate-management checklist to make sure everything is in order. And if you’re lacking with any item on the list, a financial professional can help steer you in the right direction.

  • A will. This is perhaps the best known document for letting your final wishes be known, yet it’s not as widely used as you might assume. Just 36 percent of American adults have a will, according to a Rocket Lawyer estate-planning survey by Harris Poll. If you don’t have one, it’s time to remedy that. It’s especially important to have a will if you have minor children because you can use the will to name a guardian for them,
  • Healthcare documents. Like it or not, as you near the end of your life you could reach a point where you’re no longer capable of making medical decisions for yourself. The right documents can spell out your wishes for health care and you can also name someone to make the decisions for you if it comes to that. Documents you should consider include a living will, a power of attorney agreement and a durable power of attorney agreement for healthcare.
  • Financial documents. Similar to the health situation, you can also outline your financial wishes and appoint someone to make financial decisions for you if you become unable to make decisions for yourself, Documents to consider include joint ownership, durable power of attorney, and living trusts.
  • Beneficiary forms. In some cases, when you name a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans, they automatically become “payable on death” to your beneficiaries. In other cases, you must fill out a form to make the accounts payable on death. Why is payable on death such an important distinction? The beneficiaries can get their money without the potential delays caused by probate.

Finally, make sure your heirs know where to find all of your important documents.

When you’ve done all this planning, you don’t want to leave your heirs searching through closets, attics and dresser drawers in search of your important papers,You won’t be there to guide them, so someone should know exactly where to look.

Jaime Cowper, president of Unity Financial Advisors (, is an Investment Advisor Representative under Alphastar Capital Management, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm.

By Jaime Cowper

FREEBIES for Seniors

Take a little time to investigate the free goods and services available to you as a senior. Discounts are great, but freebies are even better. Some goods and services are available for no cost at all, including these examples:

Admission – State parks, museums, sporting events, state fairs…there are plenty of places that offer free admission to seniors at specified times. Check for special nights with any place or event you would like to visit.

Tax Preparation – Depending on your income and the complexity of your taxes, you may be able to use the IRS’s Free File service to submit your taxes online. Should you need help with your taxes and are age 60 or older, the IRS website can direct you to nearby free assistance from IRS-certified tax specialists in retirement-related tax issues through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. AARP offers a similar program (AARP Foundation Tax-Aide) at various locations.

Preventative Care –The Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) mandates that some preventative care procedures and screenings be covered at no out-of-pocket cost to you, regardless of age. These include blood pressure testing, cholesterol and colorectal cancer screening, various vaccines, and one free wellness visit.

Prescription Drugs – If you qualify, you may be able to receive free prescription drugs through Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). PAPs are set up through drug companies to assist low-income individuals who cannot afford certain medications. Some supermarkets with pharmacies also offer some free prescriptions as part of their loyalty program.

Education – Why not go back to school? Many states and universities have tuition-waiver programs allowing you to attend certain classes for free. They may not be for credit, but you can still explore areas that interest you or catch up on the latest technologies.

Eye Care – The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers free eye exams and potentially up to a year of free care through EyeCare America to those 65 and older who have not seen an eye doctor in at least three years. Check the guidelines at the EyeCare America website to see if you qualify.

Grandpa Has Alzheimer’s

Bruce, my father-in-law, died from Alzheimer’s four and one-half years ago. My husband and I were faced with how to explain this progressive disease when he was diagnosed ten years earlier.

Our oldest son was nine-years-old, our two daughters were a preschooler and a toddler, and our youngest son was an infant. It would be some time before they would be able to understand what was going on with Grandpa. And they would, with tenderness and patience. We sat in the family room huddled in a pile for emotional support and security on our comfy couch. Their dad and I sat on the coffee table facing them and holding hands. We leaned in to close our family circle, to be there for any of us when we needed it.

Our oldest picked up the somber vibe immediately. We kept it simple. Grandpa was losing his memory and he would remember less as his brain became sicker.

Our son asked, “Will he forget me?”

My four-year-old asked in her soft voice, “Me too, Mama?”

My two-year-old sucked her thumb, seeking to soothe herself in the shadows of sadness and grief washing over all of us. My infant son slept in my arms, unaware for now.

We shared the tough facts with our young kids and expanded on them as our oldest asked questions. We explained how dementia would impact their grandpa, how it might impact each of us, and how it would alter our relationships with the man we deeply loved.

We shared that there would come a time when he would not remember them, their names, or his relationship with them. Grandpa would not remember their dad-his only son-or his three daughters. He would not know who his wife of over 50 years was, their grandmother.

Hiccupping sobs punctuated the awful news. Telling stories lightened the sober evening and reinforced memories. Hugs and back-rubbing provided comfort.

Our son had noticed small details; Grandpa struggled to recall, things and getting lost for two hours when driving to his granddaughter’s wedding reception in the city he lived in his entire life.

Our oldest asked quietly, “Is Grandpa going to die from this?”

“We’ll see what the future holds,” my husband said, his voice breaking. Unshed tears glistened in his eyes.

Our oldest began to cry again, then our four-year-old, and our two-year-old. Our baby slept. We offered love and support.

We kept our interactions as normal as before he was diagnosed. We talked to him as if he was still healthy as he became sicker. We told him we loved him. We hugged him and read to him often.

We did things with him that he enjoyed, like walking and watching TV. We were patient when he forgot the words or was confused. We watched over him so that it was harder for him to wander from his house. We grieved for ten years as we watched him slip away.

I discovered that an effective way to support my mother-in-law, as well as give her a break from caring for him, was to keep my kids around their grandfather, albeit supervised. Our kids and Bruce’s other grandchildren brought a smile to his face and gentled him. Indeed, I found myself driving to the big box close to their house with my youngest daughter when he wandered from his house one summer morning. My mother-in-law was frantic and called me. He would not get into her car.

My youngest daughter, then ten, stretched her delicate hand out to him and patted the spot next to her in the back seat. Smiling, she called to him, “Come on, Papaw.”

He came like a lamb and put his arm around her, like how he used to hold her before his mind became so foggy. Upon returning to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the two enjoyed popsicles, as if it was an everyday occurrence at 9 am.

Sometimes Bruce stood for hours on the perimeter of our gatherings watching Grandma and us interact, typically around our kitchen table. For years, he was able to engage, communicate, and feel. Eventually, as his dementia worsened, there was little to no engagement or emotional acknowledgment of us.

However, his gentleness towards his grandchildren, especially the youngest ones, remained a part of him, as did his manners. Always the gentleman, he pulled a chair out for me to sit in only a week or so before he died when I visited him in the nursing home.

By Judy M. Miller

Alzheimer’s and Dementia: What’s the Difference?

While Alzheimer’s and dementia are used interchangeably they are different diagnoses. Dementia includes symptoms that impair thinking and memory. Dementia is associated with aging and can be brought on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and other health factors.

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