Celebrate Nutrition Month!

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Created by the American Dietetic Association, the event is dedicated to bringing attention to various aspects of nutrition, including the importance of making informed food choices as well as developing and maintaining good eating and exercise habits. National Nutrition Month was first observed as a week long event in March 1973 and then became a month long celebration in 1980 due to increasing public interest in nutrition.  The March 2013 theme for National Nutrition Month is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” The theme recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.

You might ask, why celebrate National Nutrition Month? Well, simply because good nutrition is important! The fact is that the majority of diseases that affect Americans today, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, can be a result of unhealthy eating habits. A number of chronic conditions, such as hypertension, can be greatly improved by making healthy food choices. Following a healthy diet will also give you more energy and increase your general sense of well being! Ever heard the saying “you are what you eat?” Its true! Everything you put into your body affects your health in some way.

You can celebrate your own health and National Nutrition Month by keeping a few helpful health hints in mind. First of all, think fresh. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts for a healthy snack.  Snacking on these foods is smart they are low in fat and sugar and provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike junk food, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber which will help keep you fuller longer! At meals, try to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you consume. A good guideline is to divide your plate into four sections and fill one-half with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with meat, and the remaining quarter with starch. Be sure and chose lean meats (i.e chicken, turkey), whole grains (i.e whole wheat bread, wheat pasta) and low fat dairy products more often. When cooking, try using fresh herbs and spices for seasoning instead of butter and/or salt to cut fat and calories without losing good taste! Also be sure to drink a lot of water everyday and limit the amount of sodas and sweetened fruit juices you consume.

Eating healthy can be challenging at times, so don’t feel guilty if you indulge occasionally, as long as you are not doing so every day. Keep in mind that everything in moderation is OK! In my opinion, the best way to make successful changes to your lifestyle is to take baby steps toward your goals. For example, if you are an avid soda drinker, try cutting down the amount of soda you drink down by one can each week until you are down to zero cans instead of going cold turkey. If you find you have multiple goals focus on accomplishing only one or two at time so you aren’t overwhelmed.  Following a healthy diet might be a little hard at first but you will certainly reap the benefits in the long run. Therefore, I encourage you to celebrating National Nutrition Month this month by committing yourself to making healthy lifestyle changes!

Senior Housing: What Are Your Options?

In today’s Senior Living industry there are so many different housing and services options.  Knowing which community is right for you or a loved one can be very confusing.

There are a few key questions to consider about what is important to you in your new home, such as what amenities do you want and what supportive services do you need?  If you do not require skilled nursing care, a senior living community is one of your best options.

Independent Living communities provide housing and often some dining and housekeeping services, transportation, and an array of activities.

A Licensed Adult Home or Enriched Housing Community offers even more services and also support with personal care. The majority of these communities are licensed and operate under the auspices of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). NYSDOH licensing requires that services such as assistance with personal care, medication, meals, housekeeping, laundry and most importantly case management, be provided for residents in these communities.

A Licensed Assisted Living Program, another program within an Adult Home or Enriched Housing community, also provides supportive services and helps individuals who require financial support meeting the Medicaid guidelines.

The most recent certifications called Assisted Living Residence (ALR), Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR), and Special Needs Assisted Living Residence (SNALR), provide individuals an opportunity to continue to safely reside in their current senior living community.  Residents receiving EALR services may receive support to include management of incontinence, diabetes, oxygen, and other medical equipment, and one person assistance with ambulation and transfers. SNALR services would provide supervision and care to individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Other communities advertised as Assistive Living Communities (unlicensed) often have similar services but are contracted by the resident directly through a home health care agency.

The Senior Living industry has taken some forward steps by providing these options for our seniors and helping them to age in place. In other words, seniors may continue to reside in the senior living community they initially selected and which has become their “home,” able to receive additional necessary services without having to move to another facility.