Growing Older Gracefully
A Guide to Senior Living in San Diego
It’s often said that age is just a state of mind. In San Diego, a city synonymous with healthy living and youthful spirit, a senior state of mind can be just as energetic as any other. With endless opportunities for wellness activities and abundant senior living options, from retirement communities to assisted living facilities to healthcare in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to grow older gracefully in America’s Finest City.
Fitness for Life
Routine exercise is not only for the young Ironman or CrossFit queen. The benefits of exercising on a regular basis are just as important for the senior set as they are for younger generations.
San Diego’s year-round mild climate provides seniors ample opportunity to exercise outdoors, while many local senior living communities also offer a variety of options to make fitness fun for older residents. Mary Eaton Campbell, executive director of Westmont at San Miguel Ranch in Chula Vista, recognizes the benefits of exercise for older adults and ensures activities are available for varied ability levels.
“We have regular daily fitness classes on our activity calendar for residents to participate in at varying levels, both as a group and in individual sessions,” Campbell says. “The goal is to keep the body and mind actively engaged throughout the course of each day.”
San Diego’s Front Porch Communities, including Carlsbad by the Sea in Carlsbad, Casa de Mañana in La Jolla, Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista and Wesley Palms on Mount Soledad, focus on “whole-person wellness,” offering sports clubs (such as kayaking, hiking, and biking), a wellbeing center, and a variety of innovative fitness technology “exergaming” activities like Cyber Cycles and Wii Bowling leagues.
At Belmont Village Senior Living, fitness offerings range from balance, flexibility, and chair yoga classes to Boot Camp, Walking Club, and Wii tournaments.
5 Tips for Healthy Aging
Peggy Buchanan, vitality/wellness coordinator for Front Porch Communities, offers the following five fun and unique tips for healthy aging:
1. Fight afternoon fatigue with a glass of water or high-oxidant food like prunes to revitalize the body and stimulate the mind.
2. Keep the brain active with word games and recall exercises to stave off memory-loss illnesses and foster cognitive function.
3. Use walking poles to enhance balance and mobility, engage muscles in the upper torso, and increase upper-body strength and cardiovascular endurance.
4. Trade bad fat for good by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet with foods like fish, nuts, olive oil, and green leafy vegetables.
5. Try a balancing act with activities like tai chi, yoga, water exercises, and walking on challenging surfaces.
Robot vs. Alzheimer’s
Residents at Summer House at Wesley Palms, a memory care neighborhood, have a new friend in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease: a robot named Paro. Combining the fuzzy comfort of a soft white harp seal and the innovative interaction of a medical device, Paro is used as a therapeutic tool to reduce stress and anxiety, increase social interaction, and combat social isolation.
Keep your health in check with these tips for preventive medical maintenance.
Know Your Numbers:
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to health. Make sure to know healthy ranges and regularly check your blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and body mass index.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force encourages the following screenings for older adults:
Breast cancer: Women ages 50 to 74 should receive biennial screening mammograms.
Colorectal cancer: Adults ages 50 to 75 are encouraged to receive fecal occult blood tests, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy at regular intervals.
Lung cancer: The deadliest of all cancers, lung cancer is often found at its most dangerous, late stage. Current or former smokers ages 55 to 80, who have a 30-pack-year history (a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, for example) of smoking are now recommended to receive a low-dose CT screening to detect early-stage lung cancer.
Immunizations aren’t just for kids. Seniors age 65 and up are recommended to receive annual influenza vaccines, as well as one dose of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap), shingles, and pneumococcal vaccines.
4 Tips for Medication Safety
The FDA offers four tips for prescription drugs:
1. Take medication as prescribed:
Follow your prescriber’s dosage, and do not skip or stop medication without talking to your healthcare provider.
2. Keep a medication list:
Write down a list of medication names, how often, what dose and what time; keep that list with you and also give it to a loved one.
3. Be aware of potential drug interactions:
Read drug labels and review special instructions.
4. Review medications annually:
Confirm which ones are still necessary and to find if there are more-affordable options.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a senior living situation for yourself or your loved one. Donna Thomas of Senior Resource Group, whose communities include La Vida Del Mar in Solana Beach and La Vida Real in Rancho San Diego, offers the following advice to help make the choice:
Seek out accredited facilities: Third-party accreditation from an independent organization indicates that a provider has achieved a standard of excellence akin to a five-star rating in the hospitality industry. Accreditation recognizes superior care and puts families and residents at ease.
Check the pedigree: Ask how long the community has been in operation and who the owner/operator is. Do they have a reputation for quality care and service and are they in it for the long term?
See for yourself: Make several visits in order to get a sense of the level of hospitality, service, programming, and culture of the community. Check out the menu and enjoy a meal or two to get a sense of the food quality and service provided. At the end of the day, if the community measures up to your expectations and standards, then you’ve found your new home!
Health at Home
For some seniors, there’s no place like home. And for those who choose home health care, one San Diego agency stands out among the rest. Since 1977, La Jolla Nurses Homecare has provided a wide variety of home health services to an elite client base, with a long history of satisfied customers and a list of commendations. The oldest private-duty agency in San Diego County, La Jolla Nurses Homecare offers the services of aides and nurses at various professional levels, all committed to providing high-quality patient care. The company boasts a stellar patient satisfaction record and is regarded as a top referral source for many local hospitals. Recognized as a thought leader in the industry, La Jolla Nurses Homecare truly believes that “home is where the health is.”