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Watch Out for the Winter Blues

Winter is coming and with the cold weather, and gloomy, short days you may find yourself feeling a little down. Experiencing the winter blues is more common than you may think. Nearly one in five Americans experience seasonal mood changes in the winter.

Seasonal mood changes may present themselves in a variety of ways. People with mild cases may just feel like they’re in a “funk,” but otherwise feel unaffected. However, in its most severe form, the winter blues may be more serious. Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly and appropriately shortened to SAD, is a clinical condition that may require a physician’s treatment. Familiarize yourself with the signs of SAD and the ways you can combat the winter blues.

Signs of the Winter Blues

  • Uncharacteristic lethargy and lack of desire to participate in hobbies and activities
  • Increase in appetite, cravings for unhealthy foods, and weight gain
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Oversleeping and ongoing feelings of sluggishness
  • Increased feelings of isolation or loneliness

Ways to Brighten Your Outlook

  • Light Therapy – It may sound silly, but this treatment, also called phototherapy, is simple and effective. Sit near a specialized light box that is designed to mimic summer light for 30-90 minutes in the morning. Your brain will respond by increasing the production of serotonin and epinephrine which will boost your mood.
  • Physical Exercise – Working out triggers the brain to produce endorphins to enhance your outlook and relieve stress.
  • Relaxation Exercises – An introspective approach may also help with the winter blues. Some studies suggest that mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi and meditation decrease the symptoms of depression.
  • Medication – Some SAD sufferers find relief in herbal remedies while some have more luck with prescription anti-depressants. Before starting a medication, consult your doctor.

When to Seek Medical Help

The majority of people feeling the winter blues can find safe ways to cope with their changing moods, but for some medical intervention may be necessary. Talk with your doctor about SAD if you feel depressed, fatigued and irritable for more than several days in a row. If these feelings prevent you from participating in regular activities or disrupt your life, it’s important to address them as soon as possible.


It’s easy to understand why we might not feel our best when winter comes. And the season can be particularly troublesome for seniors living alone. Remember to watch for the signs in yourself and loved ones. Stay safe this season and keep winter blues at bay.

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Most Likely To… 5 Areas Where Seniors Lead the Stats

Each day at Midwest Health, we have the privilege of working with seniors who inspire us in a hundred different ways. In the United States, seniors from the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomer generation represent nearly 25% of the population. Their voices are mighty and their impact on culture and society cannot be denied. Today’s seniors are statistically more conscientious, generous, and content than their younger counterparts, and proud of it!


Seniors are Most Likely To…

Vote

Year after year, seniors show up at the polls. They take their civic duty seriously and according to the AARP, they make up nearly 45% of the total electorate. Issues that are likely to sway senior voters include Social Security, healthcare costs, and caregiving.

Volunteer

Seniors are a huge force for good in their communities. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, 75% of all volunteers are members of the baby boomer generation. One in fours seniors regularly volunteer using their skills to support the arts, mentor students, provide disaster relief and so much more. Annually, seniors devote 4.6 billion hours to volunteering which has a financial impact of approximately $109 billion. Service to others is personally beneficial for seniors as well. Seniors who volunteer report feeling an increased sense of purpose as well as improved physical, mental and emotional health.

Seek Spiritual Connection

Finding a deeper connection with God is a priority for many seniors. A study by Pew Research finds nearly half of all seniors attend weekly religious services. Further, seniors are more likely than any other age demographic to pray daily, read scripture, and attend a group study. Subsequently, seniors are more likely to report a sense of spiritual peace and well being.

Give Generously

While 60% of adult Americans make some charitable contributions each year, seniors lead by example when it comes to giving. The average senior supports more charities, with more money, more often than their younger counterparts. Their gifts account for 69% of total annual giving in the United States according to a study published by the Blackbaud Institute. Causes that count on seniors include local social services, places of worship, health charities and children’s charities.

Be Happy

Are you happy now? If you’re 55 years old or better, it’s more likely that your answer will be yes. A study from the University of Chicago reports that the odds of being happy increase 5% with every 10 years of age. Perhaps this is thanks to an ability to count one’s blessings or maybe it can be attributed to having a broader perspective on life, either way, who are we to argue!

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Find The Perfect Podcast for Your Personality

Have you met your favorite podcast yet? It’s a radio program without the radio; available on topics you choose, whenever you want to listen. Podcasts range from 5 to 90 minutes and cover just about any topic you can think of. Podcasts are free, educational, and entertaining! What more could you ask for?

Use this guide to help you find your next audio addiction.


When you read you prefer…

Fiction: Welcome to Night Vale

Charming, wacky and wildly fun, Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly science fiction podcast that transports the listener to the small desert town of Night Vale. In each episode, intrepid local radio host ‘Cecil’ guides listeners through the town’s mysterious happenings. If you get hooked on this fictional town and want more, check out one of the Night Vale books by creator Joseph Fink.

Non-Fiction: This American Life

Filled with heartwarming and eye-opening stories about everyday Americans told with extraordinary insight, This American Life cannot be missed. Often funny and always intriguing, each episode is a great group listen and just begs to be talked about.


When you watch TV you like…

The News: The Daily 
If you have a half hour, you have time to get caught up on all the latest news. Created by the New York Times and aptly named, The Daily is a podcast that briefly covers all of the day’s news. If once a day is too much, check out the weekly On Point with Tom Ashbrook podcast. Or if once a day isn’t nearly enough, the NPR News Now will satisfy even the biggest news buff.

History Channel: Stuff You Missed In History Class

For listeners and readers who love to offer “Did you know…” tidbits at dinner parties, Stuff You Missed In History Class is a must-listen. The podcast covers influential people and events from who was the real Dracula to the history of the foreign food industry in America. The podcast boasts a catalog of nearly 10 years of topics, you’ll never be bored.

Sitcoms: Pop Culture Happy Hour

This podcast covers everything: books, movies, TV and music! You’ll be up-to-date on all of the coolest, newest media.

Reality: Judge John Hodgeman

Have you ever had a good-natured dispute with family or friends that you just couldn’t settle? Well, you’re not alone. Judge John Hodgeman holds court and settles matters once and for all. From disputes about whether a couple should get a cat or a dog to arguments over how to catch a recycling bin thief, you’re sure to enjoy the drama and comedy that stems from the friendly, but lively debates!


On Sunday if you like to…

Clip Coupons: The Dave Ramsey Show

Frugal friends rejoice! To the delight of our wallets, personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey, offers a wealth of sound advice for everyday savings. It began as a radio show is now a hit podcast. Free practical advice for managing your money seems like a great start to achieving financial freedom.

Cook Sunday Dinner: The Splendid Table

If you’ve ever been a server, crafted or meal, or eaten at a restaurant you’ll find something to love listening to The Splendid Table. Basically, there’s something for everyone.

Head to Church: Your Move with Andy Stanley

There’s surely a podcast out there for you, no matter your religious affiliation. Our pick, Your Move with Andy Stanley, focuses on real-life, modern application of biblical values. Clocking in around 50 minutes, this easily relatable podcast is great for any person striving to be their best.

Watch Sports: ESPN Collection

Did you know that your favorite sports network has a podcast for every major American sport? Well, it’s true. The ESPN podcast collection is a fix for sports addicts of every variety.

Advice for Seniors Who Are Ready to Sell

Planning a move in the cool weather of fall is a great way to avoid the blazing heat of summer as well as the hazards of winter weather. If you plan ahead, you can be settled in your new community, surrounded by friends for the upcoming holiday season.

If you’re considering a move, now is the time to start thinking about selling your home. Your perfect buyer is out there, waiting! Rachelle Peters, an experienced real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway First, Realtors, offers some advice for seniors ready to sell this fall.

Where to Start?

For long-time homeowners, it can be overwhelming to think of all there is to do before moving and selling the home. The best advice is to start small. Before you even call a Realtor, look at your home and remember that everything has to go somewhere. Be realistic about what you will actually need and get good use out of in your new home. It’s much easier to give things away or throw them out now than to pack, move and unpack things you don’t actually need or want.

Start in small areas like hall closets, bathroom drawers, and cupboards and then move on to less frequently used spaces like spare rooms. By clearing out and cleaning small spaces first, you’ll feel capable, accomplished and ready to tackle more challenging areas like the bedroom and kitchen.

Be Picky

Whether selling your home takes a few weeks or a few months, you’ll be in frequent contact with your agent throughout the process. So it is worth it to take a little time to find the right personality-match for you! Choose someone that puts you at ease, inspires trust and makes you feel comfortable.

Every real estate agent has the same set of tools to market your home, so don’t feel like you’ll be missing out if you decide not to go with the first agent you talk to. Trust your gut and remember it is okay to be picky with something this big.

Little Changes That Make A Big Difference

Your home has been your haven for years. Naturally, you’ve settled in and made everything just the way you like it. But now that you’re ready to sell, it may be time to take a fresh look through a buyer’s eyes and make a few updates.

Carpet: Replacing old carpeting can make a dramatic change to your home. In addition to making the home look more appealing, it can also help to eliminate any lingering smells that might turn a buyer off.

Plain is Better than Dated: By removing dated decor, you’ll create a blank canvas that can help buyers visualize themselves in the home. Pack up or throw outdated decor, old draperies and faded bath mats.

Declutter: Removing personal items, collections, and trinkets will help potential buyers admire the space. It’s okay to have some clutter in places where it is expected like unfinished basements and storage areas but basic is better in entryways, living areas, and bedrooms.

Deep Clean: Buyers want their home to feel fresh and new. You can create this feeling by clearing ceiling fans of dust, sweeping baseboards clean, and clearing cobwebs from corners and behind curtains.

Consider Fall Factors

It’s much less stressful to move in the cooler weather, but there are a few things to keep in mind when selling your home in the autumn:

Curb Appeal Still Counts: It’s important to keep your landscaping in mind throughout the fall season. Now’s not the time to neglect your lawn! Keep the grass trimmed and free of falling leaves to reassure buyers that the home has been well cared for. Also, watch for pesky cobwebs. Unless you’re decorating for Halloween, it’s a good idea to clear up those cobwebs that will start appearing in your doorways and windows this time of year.

Give a Warm Welcome: You’ve finally turned the AC off after the long, hot summer but don’t forget to turn the heat on. It’s tempting to save money by keeping the temperature low but Rachelle advises finding a happy medium saying, Stepping into a home that is warm and inviting makes a huge first impression. It can be hard for a buyer to focus on a gorgeous view or beautiful built-in when they can’t feel their fingers.

Tell the Story of Your Home

If these walls could talk, what would they say? Before you say your final farewell, take a few moments and write down some of your favorite memories. Help tell the story of your home by sharing its history with the new owners. Write about the tree in the backyard that you planted when your first child was born, that turns a beautiful color in the fall. Share the story about your first Christmas here, when your kids “helped” bake cookies for Santa and started a messy flour fight. Share your happy memories, pass them along, and wish the new owner many more to come.

Going To and Fro – Transportation Options for Seniors

What is the best way to get where you’re going? For seniors who no longer wish to get behind the wheel, affordable transportation is a must. The freedom to get from here to there has a huge impact on quality of life and your ability to remain independent. When depending on a family member or friend isn’t an option, it’s important to know how to get mobile.


County Senior Services

Your local Area Agency on Aging is a great place to seek out community resources, including transportation. The agency’s mission is to help seniors live as independently as possible by providing support and access to community programs. With their help, you can get connected to transportation services provided by private companies, senior centers, faith-based and non-profit organizations.

Public Transit

While it may not be the speediest mode of transportation, public transit is a very affordable option. Most public transit authorities provide seniors with discounted fares. In addition, riding the bus is better for the environment and safer than car travel.

Transportation Apps

For seniors comfortable with their smartphone, ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft make ordering a ride easy and convenient. Drivers are assigned to riders based on their distance from the pickup location, so response times are better than traditional taxi service. The built-in review system rewards courteous drivers and encourages excellent service. Rates depend on demand, so if you are able to schedule your trips at low-traffic times, you can save some cash.

GoGoGrandparent

If you aren’t quite ready for a smartphone app, you can use the GoGoGrandparent service. This service offers users a more traditional experience with the speed of a rideshare company, without the need to navigate an app. The GoGoGrandparent dispatch will order your ride and send message updates, including pickup notifications and driver contact information, to a trusted loved one. There is a per mile surcharge for the service, but even so, your ride will still be more affordable than a taxi.

Long-Distance Travel

For seniors looking for long-distance travel, always call to ask about accommodations for seniors. Currently, Amtrak Trains, Greyhound Bus Lines American Airlines, Delta, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines offer discounts to seniors.

Yoga for Seniors

Stretch your boundaries and improve your life by adding yoga to your regular exercise routine. With consistent practice, you’ll look and feel great and enjoy a variety of benefits.

History of Yoga

You may think of yoga as new and trendy, however, the ancient practice began in India more than 2000 years ago. While yoga has evolved over many years, the primary focus remains on mindfulness, unity, and discipline. Each precise movement of the body is designed to facilitate meditation.

Benefits for Seniors

When you picture a yoga class, you may not see seniors as the primary participants, but the low-impact exercise and benefits certainly make it an appealing practice for older adults.

  • Reduce joint swelling
  • Improve core strength and mobility
  • Build balance and help prevent falls
  • Create higher muscular endurance and stamina
  • Build greater bone density
  • Reduce stress and improve sleep

Tips for Beginners

  • Poses should never hurt. If you feel pain or discomfort, move out of the pose slowly, but immediately.
  • Focus on your breathing. Steady, deep breaths will help relax your body.
  • Be patient. Like any athletic pursuit, yoga takes time and practice to master. Remember that focusing on form will help you get the most out of your time.
  • Practice a few minutes each day. Studies suggest that just 12 minutes of yoga a day can deliver results.
  • If you are able and feeling adventurous, consider a class. Join a beginners group and receive the benefit of instruction regarding your form.

Three Short Yoga Classes to Get You Started

Release the Neck with David Procyshyn

This neck-focused yoga class is a good start for seniors looking to improve balance. Flexibility in the neck allows greater mobility which will, in turn, increase balance.

Yoga for Arthritis: The Hands and Wrists by Kim McNeil 

Focusing on the hands and fingers, this yoga class is a must-watch for anyone experiencing arthritis pain. Stretching and moving the fingers will help increase circulation and reduce inflammation.

Chair Yoga – Yoga For Seniors | Yoga With Adriene

Low impact, chair yoga is a great way to build strength while focusing on the line of the spine. This 20-minute class will walk you through each exercise and movement focusing on your whole body.

Midwest Health Show and Tell

Beloved collections and treasured objects can hold stories all their own. All you have to do is listen. And there’s no better way to start getting to know someone than a classic round of Show & Tell. We’d like to introduce you to a few of our favorite people as they share stories and mementos from their lives.

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It’s So Nice To Meet You! 20 Questions To Really Get To Know Your Parents

After years together, it’s easy to assume that you know your parent’s story from front to back. But not so fast! There may be a lot you don’t know. Do you know what your mom’s favorite class in college was? Who taught her to drive? Where did your dad reel in the biggest catch of his life? Who did he take to prom?

So many times our visits with loved ones get bogged down by catching up on current events that we miss out on knowing the full story of how we got here. We each hold experiences that even those closest to us might not know about because we’ve never thought to ask. Use these questions to dive beyond small talk and really get to know your parents. When you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve met a whole new person!


Growing Up

  • Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there? How has it changed?
  • Did you get into trouble growing up?
  • Did you have a favorite toy or prized possession? What happened to it and where do you think it is now?
  • When did you first feel like a “real” adult?
  • Were you raised in a church? What do you find most meaningful about your religion?
  • If you could go back in time and pursue a new career, what would it be?
  • What was your first job like? Are there any life-long lessons you learned from work?

What was the world like?

  • Which world events do you remember most vividly? How did they impact your day-to-day life?
  • When did you vote for the first time? Who did you vote for and why?
  • How did you get around? What transportation was available to you? When did you get your first car?
  • What public figures did you most admire and why?
  • How did you and your peers spend your free time when you were a young adult?
  • What has changed most in your lifetime?

Relationships

  • How did you meet your partner?
  • What was your favorite thing about your partner? What attracted you to them?
  • Tell me about your favorite date or memory together. How did you feel?
  • Who was your best friend? Tell me some of your favorite memories with them.
  • What were your parents and grandparents like?
  • What traits did they pass down to you? Which are you thankful for and which do you wish they’d kept to themselves?
  • Tell me about the day I was born. What was going on in the world?

At first, asking these questions may feel strange, but stick with it and the conversation will begin to get easier. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information and follow up with questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What was that like?” The more you discover, the better you’ll understand this person that you’ve known all your life. You’ll find answers to questions you never knew to ask and enjoy a deeper connection to your parents and your own history.

The Value of Volunteering

We need each other. It’s a basic human truth that can easily be forgotten in the midst of busy work schedules, family obligations, and attachment to technology. Making time to give back is a challenge. Nevertheless, we urge you to find a way to make it happen!

Volunteers who serve seniors bring color and excitement to our communities. They share their knowledge, skills, and life experiences. They give their time to us and we, in turn, adore them. Volunteers are the heart of our communities.

The benefits of volunteering flow both ways. So don’t delay. Carve out an hour every other week to spend at a senior living community near you and begin reaping the rewards!


Hone Your Skills

Want to perfect your social skills or learn to be a little handier around the house? Volunteering at a senior community will give you lots of low-pressure opportunities to practice your skills. You will find endless opportunities to relate to new and diverse people who will be thrilled to chat with you. If you like to work with your hands you can help in the garden, assist with minor repairs, or lend a hand with community projects. You can even ease into public speaking by volunteering to call BINGO. You’ll get to practice talking in front of a crowd full of eager listeners!

Stay Active

Getting out of the house and into the community is a great way to stay active. Senior living communities depend on volunteers to help entertain, lead exercise programs and guide crafting groups. Volunteer visits are always a highlight of the week at senior living communities. So if you need an extra push to get going and get off the couch, there’s no better way to spend your free time.

Find a New Friend

Do you love to travel? Read? Play games? Create art? Watch sports? Garden? That’s wonderful, we love those things too! Friendship is never in short supply at our senior living communities and we have a pal for every personality. As the saying goes, it’s all about who you know.

Bask in the Benefits

Studies show there are some unexpected physical and emotional benefits of volunteerism. Volunteers enjoy a sense of purpose, a deeper sense of empathy and connection to the community, increased life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, reduced stress and decreased risk of depression.


Make the most of your time and volunteer! To get involved with a senior living community near you, just call. The community will be so glad to hear from you and the residents will soon be your new best friends.

Summer Reading Recommendations

The long days of summer are great for getting lost in a new book. A good book can immerse you in history, carry you away to distant lands, and ignite your imagination – all without leaving the comfort of your air conditioning. We know it can be easy to get lost in a library, so we’re here to help you find your next page turner!

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.

–Neil Gaiman

Midwest Health Summer Book Recommendations

 

Doris from Homestead of Oskaloosa

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

At Homestead of Oskaloosa, resident volunteer, Doris Bates, leads the reading group three times a week and recommends Tara Road by Maeve Binchy. She says “It’s a good read! It’s different from what we’re used to, cause the author is not American, but an Irish woman. The book has a slower start, but we predict that things will become more exciting as things are starting to build up. We think things are soon going to get very interesting.” The group at Homestead of Oskaloosa can’t wait to turn the next page to find out!

Where the Wild Rose Blooms by Lori Wick

Doris, Judy, and Mary Ann from Homestead of Knoxville

Doris Krpan of Homestead of Knoxville recommends Where the Wild Rose Blooms by Lori Wick. Set in the Colorado around the 1860’s, the author transports readers to the wild frontier. This novel is full of romance to make you swoon, secrets to intrigue you, and characters that will draw you in.

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

A vivid memoir by Jackie Kennedy’s personal secret service agent tops Judy Herwehe of Homestead of Knoxville’s list of summer reading recommendations. The book details Mr. Hill’s service to the first family leading up to and following the tragic assassination of our 35th President. Told with affection, respect, and wit, this account of the Camelot Era will keep you enthralled.

The Rainmaker by John Grisham

John Grisham is a literary legend for a reason. Mary Ann, also from Homestead of Knoxville, recommends Grisham’s early legal thrillers. Her favorite, The Rainmaker, is set in the sweltering heat of Memphis and follows a down-on-his-luck lawyer, Rudy Baylor, as he fights a corrupt insurance company for a major payout.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Mary Ann offers a second recommendation that is a perfect group read. So grab a friend or two and pick up Orphan Train. The story follows two women from different eras as they become unlikely friends, bonded by their experiences of growing up on their own. Book groups will enjoy discussing the relationship between the two protagonists and their experiences. The author’s website offers discussion questions to get you started!