Jennifer Peterson- Administrator's Posts (18)


Journaling has become a popular pastime in recent years. From art journals to bullet journals, people are recognizing the health benefits of self-expression. Caregivers who make time to journal find it has the power to boost mood, improve problem-solving skills, reduce stress, and more.

5 Ways Journaling Improves Health

  1. Lower stress: The very act of getting your thoughts and fears down on paper can help you work through them. It might help you realize the situation isn’t as dire as you think, or give you the perspective you need to come to a solution. Lowering your stress level can aid in preventing chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and depression.
  2. Attitude of gratitude: Journaling provides you with an opportunity to recognize all you have to be grateful for in life. While the days might be challenging, especially if you are a family caregiver, there are still reasons to feel positive each day. Living with gratitude can help ward off depression and other mental health problems.
  3. Creative problem-solving: Writing and art journaling use the right side of the brain, the mind’s creative center. When you tap into this part of the brain, you are able to see problems in a new light and arrive at more creative solutions. You may be able to solve your biggest caregiving challenges by looking at the situation a little differently.
  4. Mindfulness: Maintaining a journal also helps you connect with your spiritual side. As you begin to work through your struggles, you can move beyond them to find peace. Living in the moment becomes easier to do. This can result in calmer, more mindful days.
  5. Brain boost: Creativity challenges the brain. Many researchers say doing so helps delay or prevent cognitive decline. Whether you choose to create a written journal or an art journal, you might be promoting a healthier brain.                                                                      

How to Start a Journal


Figuring out how to get started can be a barrier to reaping the rewards of journaling. We have a few ideas to make it a little easier for you to begin.

  • Decide on a format: While writing is the preferred format for most people who journal, it isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to express themselves through an art journal. This can be as simple as using watercolor pens to doodle your activities and thoughts for the day. The artist Julia Cameron, on the other hand, suggests a process she calls “morning pages.” In this method, you write your stream of consciousness down on paper for 15 to 20 minutes each morning.
  • Commit the time: Don’t let this be one of those resolutions you mean to get around to doing “some day.” Block out time every day for journaling and commit to giving this effort for at least one month. You’ll likely begin to see the rewards long before then.
  • Use prompts: The longer you journal, the easier the process will become. In getting started, however, you might need a few prompts. Asking yourself questions and answering them, documenting the highs and lows of the day, or even listing ten things you are grateful for can all provide the prompts you need to begin.
  • Create a sacred space: The environment you are in can impact your ability to relax and connect with your thoughts and feelings. It might help to create a quiet spot to retreat to for journaling. Adding a candle and some soft music can help calm the mind.


Read more…

Most people know how important physical activity is to aging well. While we might not always be successful, we try to set and stick with our fitness goals. What you may not know, however, is how vital it is to give our brain the daily workout that it needs to stay healthy, too. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. But by improving your brain health through mental exercise, it’s possible to reduce your risk of cognitive decline.

In honor of National Brain Awareness Week, we are sharing suggestions on what you can do to keep your brain fit.

Brain Aerobics & Healthy Aging

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, there are three ways you can improve brain health:

  1. Engage in activities that involve more than one of the senses.
  2. Participate in activities you enjoy enough to stick with and continue mastering.
  3. Incorporate activities that break up your daily routine and force you to try something new.

Here are a few activities that meet those criteria:

  • Tackle a new language: This can be as easy as listening to an instructional CD while you drive to the grocery store or clean the house. As little as 10 minutes a day spent practicing a new language can boost your brain health.
  • Be creative: Another way to pump up your grey matter is by participating in creative projects. Whether you take an online watercolor class or join a photography group at your local senior center or craft store, art challenges the mind and spirit.
  • Socialize more: Staying actively engaged with life also helps your brain stay healthy. Take a class at a nearby community college—many offer them to seniors for free or at a substantial discount. Join a walkers group at your local mall or fitness center. Have a standing lunch date with friends each week.
  • Make music: Besides being a lot of fun, learning how to play a new instrument also stimulates the brain. Music schools, guitar stores, and community education programs are great places to explore your musical side.
  • Read: Reading keeps the brain stimulated. The more you read, the more engaged your brain stays. An inexpensive way to keep reading is by checking out books or e-books from your local library. Most libraries offer one-on-one assistance to help seniors master e-book loans.
  • Play games: Puzzles and games are another group of activities that stimulate the brain. You can enjoy them on your own—like crossword puzzles and word searches—or by hosting a monthly game night with friends and family.


Read more…

Many find the process of moving to be a daunting task. Even more so, the transition to senior living can bring additional emotion and stress. Although your loved one may have moved many times in their life, this move is an entirely different experience. The thought of moving a lifetime of memories from a large home to a small apartment style suite can be overwhelming. But a move to senior living involves much more than coordinating the logistics of the move, it can be an emotionally trying time for your family. To cope with the stress involved in the move, remind yourself that eventually this journey you’re embarking on will lead to an improved quality of life for your loved one. The benefits your family and loved one will experience will reassure you that you are making the right decision.

Make a Moving Plan

Work as a team in utilizing all your resources, your senior living community team, physician and family members. Discuss with your loved one your involvement and as a family establish a plan and timeline of how the move will take place. Keep in mind that the thought of downsizing a home will be overwhelming to your loved one. Keep your focus on the items they use on a daily basis, rather than looking at how all their possessions will fit in their new home. Often after the move a senior will feel a sense of relief. Many feel a weight lifted as the thought of dealing with the care of the home and all that it holds has been organized and taken care of for them.

Ask for Help

You will likely find yourselves helping to pack and move the items yourself. Rummaging through old photos and reminiscing of memories that took place in your family home may bring the feeling of guilt. Don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. There are many resources available to help with this transition. You do not have to take this all on yourself. Your team at Sunrise can help give you excellent referrals for local movers and senior relocation specialists who will help you with every step of the move.

Allow Time to Adjust

Adjusting to a new community and environment can be frightening and all of this coupled with new social interactions is a lot for any senior to adjust to. This adjustment period may take some time, even several months or more. It is crucial that during this time you and your family reassure your loved one and keep an open mind. At Sunrise we see first hand the many ways our resident’s lives improve while in a community. It can be hard to imagine how your loved one will be happy in their new home if they are having difficulty adjusting. Be patient and keep an open mind. The team at the community will work to help your loved one blossom while meeting new friends.

Trust the Community

During the transition it is important that as a family you continue to visit and support the move, however too much ‘hand-holding’ may inhibit their independence. Allow your loved one space and time to adjust to their new home and develop new friendships and establish trust within their community.

Focusing on what will be gained rather than the physical items that may be lost will help your loved one and family through this transition. Looking at the big picture and the many benefits that will come with a move to senior living will help you get through the stress of the transition. You will be reassured of your decision once your loved one is settled in their new community and you witness their gained independence and improved quality of life.


Read more…

The number of adults taking on the role of a caregiver for a loved one is growing as the baby boomer generation - the world's largest population - reaches old age. Approximately 44 million adults 18 or older care for an aging relative or friend in the U.S., according to AARP's most recent statistics. It's important that health professionals ensure these caregivers keep their mental and physical health in check, as providing full-time support can be a challenging task. 

Although being there for a family member can be very rewarding at times, stress is an inevitable feeling that many caregivers will face. The Mayo Clinic noted that guilt is one of the common emotions experienced while caring for a loved one. For example, not spending enough time with relatives and losing patience with them frequently causes caregivers to feel guilty. 

As guilt can begin to impact caregivers' well-being, health providers should help them manage this negative emotion. Providing advice on how to maintain their happiness and general health will help caregivers remain in better control of their emotions. Here are a few suggestions to consider making:

Focus on what you can control
AARP pointed out that caregivers often feel guilt over situations they can't control. These circumstances may include caregivers' inability to spend more time with an aging loved one because they live far away or because they have responsibilities to children or spouses. Remind patients that no one is perfect and that they should never feel guilty over things they have no power over. If caregivers try to do more than they're able to, this will only negatively impact both them and their aging family members. 

Barry Jacobs, a psychologist and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers, told AARP that encouraging caregivers to accept that emotions like guilt and stress are going to occur every so often, and that this is normal, will assist them in dealing with their guilt. 

"You love the person you're caring for, but you hate the caregiving," said Jacobs. "That's normal." 

Look for and accept help when needed
Caregivers may find that they simply do not have the time or resources they once had to support their family member. This happens a lot when a relative's condition begins to worsen and he or she starts to require care that's often provided by a trained caregiver. In this case, noted that it may be a good idea to recommend looking into assisted living homes where seniors are supported at all times and are surrounded by others experiencing similar health problems to prevent feelings of loneliness or isolation. Remind caregivers that while this may cause guilt initially, as seniors begin to settle in and become comfortable in their new home, chances are they will see that their caregivers made this decision to benefit them. 

Advise patients to join local support groups, especially if they inform you that in addition to feeling guilty, they're overwhelmed, constantly stressed or exhausted. The Mayo Clinic explained that being near like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar issues can provide the encouragement and support they need to view their situations in a different light. Keeping other family members or friends updated on what's going on and alerting them when extra help is needed will also be beneficial to caregivers. 

Pencil in a few hours for yourself
Inform caregivers that taking care of themselves often determines the quality of support they're able to provide for their loved ones. noted that eating healthily, getting enough sleep and staying physically active are necessary steps to ensure that caregivers are properly balancing their loved ones' needs with their own. After all, impatience and frustration are often the result of exhaustion or poor mental health. 


Read more…

If you’ve ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt, you’ve probably reaped some of the health benefits of humor. It’s more than just a cliché—laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps with everything from boosting mood to burning calories.

Researchers say there are both short-term and long-term benefits associated with making laughter a part of your everyday life.

Short-Term Health Benefits of Laughter

Experts say enjoying a hearty laugh with friends provides benefits similar to a mild workout: elevated heart rate, reduced stress, and increased blood flow throughout the body. It also helps you burn a few calories! According to Maciej Buchowski, a laugh researcher from Vanderbilt University, you can burn as many as 50 calories from 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.

Laughing can also help to reduce stress hormones in the body, which often results in an almost immediate reduction in anxiety.

For weary caregivers or seniors struggling with a chronic illness, this reduction in stress might also help boost your immune system. When your immune system is strengthened, you become better able to fight off germs and viruses.

Laughing for Long-Term Health

Laughter has several notable long-term health benefits:

  • Pain management: For older adults who live with chronic, painful health conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, laughing can be a great way to manage pain. Experts say as many as 60 percent of older adults live with some form of pain each day. Laughter can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. Sharing a good laugh may also help break the pain-spasm cycle, resulting in relief from pain.
  • Mood elevator: This one probably comes as no surprise: laughter lifts your spirits and boosts your mood. For caregivers and their loved ones, it can help make the days brighter and happier. Laughing is also linked to lower rates of depression.
  • Diabetes management: Some research shows that laughter helps to reduce blood glucose levels. This helps people increase their glucose tolerance, which is beneficial for everyone.
  • Overall wellbeing: People who make a point of laughing with friends and loved ones enjoy better overall health and happiness than those who are more isolated and alone.

We have a few helpful suggestions for lightening up and laughing more:

10 Ways to Laugh More Every Day

  1. Hang out with people with a good sense of humor.
  2. Play with young children—their laughter is contagious!
  3. Buy a joke book and start each day by reading a few.
  4. Watch funny cat or dog videos on YouTube.
  5. Record a few great sitcoms and watch them in the evenings.
  6. Host game nights with friends on a regular basis.
  7. Set up a humor board on Pinterest and pin funny memes you can look at and laugh at often.
  8. Adopt a pet.
  9. Stock up on a few DVDs of your favorite funny movies.
  10. Take an improv class—it’s a unique way to learn to laugh more.



Read more…

A cell phone can make a great holiday gift for an older adult. While many seniors have one, they often purchase these devices with few features. These traditional phones may have keys that are too small for hands with arthritis to manage, or screens that are difficult on older eyes.

Upgrading to a smartphone—that can connect to the internet and download apps—can make everyday life easier. But it can also put a senior at risk for problems like text messaging scams and identity theft.

Here are a few things to consider before you buy a smartphone for a senior this holiday season.

Senior-Friendly Smartphones

If you aren’t sure what type of smartphone to purchase, here are two to consider:

  • Apple iPhone: You don’t need the latest version of the iPhone to make this a good choice for a senior. Even older models will work. Most have large screens (5.5 inches on the iPhone 7) that are kinder on older eyes. And Apple devices are among the easiest tech products to master.
  • Jitterbug Smart: This smartphone was developed specifically for seniors. A few of its many senior-friendly features include: larger text and icons, an easy, list-style menu, voice command typing, email access, camera, and compatibility with hearing aids. It also has a downloadable 5Star Urgent Response app that can be used to call for help in case of emergency.

Finally, remember to take the monthly service plan fee into consideration before you purchase a smartphone.

Smartphone Safety Issues to Review with Seniors

Don’t forget to review potential safety concerns with your loved one after they open their holiday gift. Some might not be aware of the security risks smartphones can present, such as:

  • Text message scams: Scammers can be very sneaky when it comes to text messaging. Remind your loved one not to open or respond to text messages from phone numbers they don’t recognize. Additionally, they shouldn’t respond to messages telling them they’ve won a sweepstakes prize or contest they never entered. These are usually scams.
  • Calls from fraudsters: Older adults often don’t realize that they can receive the same annoying—and often fraudulent—calls on their cell phone as on a landline. So the same senior safety principles apply to cell phones too.
  • Use a password: Just as you would on a computer, make sure access to a smartphone is restricted by a strong password. Don’t use the senior’s birthday or dog’s name. Instead, create a password that the senior can remember which contains letters, numbers, and characters. Some newer phones have finger print technology that protects the user.
  • Don’t store personal information: While it might be convenient to store information like a social security number or a health insurance ID number in a note on a smartphone, discourage your senior from doing so. This information could end up in the wrong hands if their phone is lost or stolen. It will put them at higher risk for identity theft.
  • Caution with apps: While apps to store medical information can be useful and convenient, it’s important for seniors to know to download only those from a credible company. When in doubt about an app’s authenticity, encourage them to ask for your help.

At Sunrise, our residents enjoy the benefits of technology, just like younger generations. After all, email, online photo-sharing, and browsing the Internet are all part of keeping up with loved ones and with the world.


Read more…

The holidays are a time of year when many families pause to enjoy quality time together. Decorating the tree. Lighting the Menorah. Exchanging gifts. Every family has their own traditions. But for older adults who live on a fixed income, the holidays can take a big bite out of their budget. This is especially true when it comes to buying gifts for all of the grandchildren.

This year, instead of spending a lot of money on gifts, consider other ways you can celebrate the season with your grandchildren.

Creating Meaningful Holiday Memories

Here are a few ideas to help you manage your budget while bonding with the grandkids:

  • Host a movie night: The grandkids might enjoy an afternoon or evening of movies with their grandparents. No parents allowed! Have them help pick out the movies. Pile pillows and blankets in the living room and serve a few favorite treats. Be sure to take selfies to save and to share on Facebook. You may even want to borrow a projector so you can show the movie on a wall in the living room for a true theater experience!
  • Get creative: Another idea for a holiday afternoon is to spend time crafting. There are many fun and inexpensive projects you can tackle together. Homemade wind socks, holiday cards, bird seed ornaments, milk jug fairy gardens, and craft stick snowmen are just a few.
  • Make a video: Almost all cell phones have a video feature. This makes it easier to create your own family video. It might be something as simple as documenting the grandkids singing karaoke-style to their favorite songs. Or, you could go all out and help the grandchildren write their own play and act it out while you video the production.
  • Playing around: Kids of all ages like playing games. From Candyland to Yahtzee Jr., you can gather the grandkids together for a day of gaming. Serve a simple meal or just some tasty snacks.
  •  Bake dog or cat treats: A twist on holiday baking is to make organic dog or cat treats to donate to the local animal shelter. The two generations will have a chance to bond while baking the treats and delivering them to the shelter dogs and/or cats.

Finally, if you live in an assisted living community, take a look at the holiday programs scheduled there. You can invite each grandchild to pick their favorite activity.

With a rich variety of life enrichment activities to choose from at Sunrise, each member of the younger generation will surely find an activity the two of you can enjoy together.


Read more…

Decking the halls or hosting seasonal celebrations can present a time management challenge for all of us. For already overwhelmed caregivers, however, the added pressures of the season can be downright exhausting. 

Four in ten family caregivers say they just can’t manage it all on their own when the holidays roll around. Not asking for help can cause caregivers to withdraw and avoid celebrating the holidays altogether.

But caregivers deserve to celebrate the holidays, too. They need time to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Here are a few ways caregivers can participate in the holidays without experiencing burnout or depression.

Preventing Holiday Related Caregiver Overload

  1. Ask for and accept help: As we head into peak holiday season, it is important for family caregivers to ask for and accept help. Ask a relative or friend to pick up a few gifts while they are doing their own shopping. Or, ask a church volunteer to stay with your loved one so you can enjoy a holiday event with family and friends. In-home care agencies and senior living communities offer respite services that might also give you the extra time you need this holiday season.
  2. Adapt holiday traditions: While you may have traditionally loved hosting a formal sit-down holiday dinner for the entire family, consider adapting it to a celebration that’s easier to manage. A potluck or a cocktail party, for example, can be simpler to host.
  3. Be kind to yourself: Many family caregivers struggle with feelings of inadequacy even during the best of times. The holidays can further exacerbate this issue. Try to use the holiday season to change the way you talk to yourself and acknowledge the hard work you’ve done.
  4. Take ten: While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise can help you feel less stressed. Taking ten minutes during the middle of the day for a quick walk might be just the stress-buster you need.
  5. Support group: Finding a support group of your peers to talk with can also help. In addition to being able to relate to your feelings and struggles, they may also have insight and resources to help you manage caregiving during the holidays. An online support group might be the most convenient way to connect.


Read more…

From shopping and decorating to attending cocktail parties, holiday season is a busy time for most. All of the hustle and bustle can leave you feeling a little worn out. 

And when that happens, your immune system weakens—making it easier for the flu bug to make an appearance.

What can you do to shoo the flu this holiday season?

Here are a few steps caregivers and seniors can take.

5 Influenza Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

  1. Get the vaccine: While the best time to have a flu shot is in October or early November, there’s still time to be vaccinated. If you haven’t had a flu shot, call your doctor’s office today. It generally takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up in the body and offer protection.
  2. Practice good hygiene: Another good prevention measure is to wash your hands in hot, soapy water several times throughout the day. This is especially important if you are at a holiday party or in a crowded shopping mall where you are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests keeping an alcohol-based hand rub in your pocket, purse, or car for times you won’t have access to soap and hot water.
  3. Limit personal contact: This can be a tough one to stick with during holiday celebrations. But limiting the number of handshakes and kisses you give and receive can lower your risk for catching the virus. The flu is highly contagious, and it is easily transferred from one person to another. Plus, people can have the bug for several days before exhibiting any symptoms.  
  4. Don’t touch your face: Most of us don’t realize how often we touch our face throughout the day. But if you’ve been exposed to the bug, say from touching the credit card machine at the grocery store, you can quickly transfer the virus from your hands to your nose or mouth. Remind yourself throughout flu season not to touch your face!
  5. Eat, sleep, and exercise: People with a strong immune system are better able to fight off the flu bug even if they are exposed. But the holidays are a time of year many of us relax our healthy lifestyles. Keep your immune system strong by sticking with a healthy diet, getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and making time for exercise at least five days a week.

If, despite your best efforts, you think you’ve been bitten by the flu bug, call your doctor right away. There are prescription antiviral medications that can help if prescribed in time. While they might not be able to keep you from developing a case of influenza, they can help shorten the amount of time you are sick or lessen the severity of flu symptoms.


Read more…

Safety is always a top priority for the caregiver of a senior loved one. But during the holiday season, one specific risk becomes even more important to consider: fires.

Seniors face twice the risk of being seriously injured or losing their life in a fire. Those over the age of 85 have almost five times higher risk. While older adults account for only 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 35 percent of the deaths caused by fires.

Here are a few tips to review and share with your older loved ones to help keep them safe this holiday season.

7 Fire Safety Tips for Seniors during the Holidays

  1. Limit the use of extension cords: Many of us rely on extension cords when decorating for the holidays. This can cause an outlet or cord to overheat, especially in older homes. Remind the older adult you love of the risks associated with using too many extension cords.  
  2. Keep Christmas trees hydrated: The look and smell of a freshly-cut Christmas tree adds beauty to the season. But trees can dry out and create a fire hazard. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Christmas tree fires are especially dangerous: one in 34 people involved in a fire caused by a Christmas tree loses their life. That compares with one in 142 for all other home fires. To stay safe, replenish the water in the tree stand frequently. If the tree dries out, remove it from the home.
  3. Don’t leave candles burning unattended: The holidays are a time of year when more people burn candles. While they add sparkle to the season, leaving a lit menorah or other seasonal candle unattended can be dangerous. Make sure to extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
  4. Exercise caution with space heaters: Seniors on a fixed income often use space heaters in the rooms where they spend the most time: bedrooms, living rooms, and bathrooms. But space heaters used improperly can cause curtains, rugs, furniture, and more to ignite. Make sure to review the directions on any space heater you or a senior loved one uses, and replace space heaters that are over 10 years old.
  5. Kitchen safety: Home fires are more likely to begin in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. Often, they occur when a senior is cooking, or when they leave a pot unattended on the stove. Since cooking and baking is more prevalent during the holidays, it’s a good time to review kitchen safety. Remember to stay in the kitchen when you are cooking or baking, and encourage your senior loved one to do the same. If you must leave the room, set the timer on the stove. Also, avoid wearing shirts or blouses with loose-fitting sleeves. These can brush against a burner and ignite. Finally, make sure to keep an easy-to-use fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  6. Check the smoke detectors: The holidays are a good time to test your loved one’s smoke detectors. Remember, there should be at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. If the older loved one in your life has hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a low, easier-to-hear alert. Others flash a strobe light or vibrate to warn the senior of danger.
  7. Create and practice an escape plan: It’s vital for all of us to have an escape plan in case of fire and to practice it a few times a year. For seniors, it is especially important. Work with your older loved one to create an escape plan for every room in their house.

What Type of Senior Care Does a Loved One Need?

We understand that you often return home to spend time with older parents during the holiday season. And many times the topic of senior living options comes up. If you suspect it’s time for a change, we can help you determine what level of care might be the best fit.


Read more…