Tips for Living a Longer, More Fun Life!

We all want to make the most of our time, and that is especially true when we spend our time doing things that can help us live longer in the long-run. Luckily, you’re probably doing a lot of things that benefit your overall health – so great job! But just in case you need some more ideas, or a reminder to do those small tasks that have big benefits, here is a list of things you can do to raise your chances of celebrating your 100th birthday. Some of them are pretty fun!

Get PLENTY of sleep
You probably already know that this one is good for your health, but did you know that more sleep could lead to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack? That’s definitely motivation to hit the hay.

Brush Your Teeth
Yep, dental health and life expectancy are tied together. Having poor oral hygiene can make a LOT of things go wrong in your body. That’s why it is important to brush and floss regularly, take good care of your dentures, and visit your dentist as-needed.

Go to Your Doctor
Don’t just visit your dentist, make sure to see your doctor, too! While receiving medical care is easy at Sherwood Oaks, it is important to ask your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have. And be sure to follow his or her instructions!

Eat Naturally
Try to remove as much unnatural food from your diet as possible. And cutting back on sugar. This means lots of fruits and veggies, and farm-raised meat. Avoid TV dinners and other foods with plenty of preservatives.  Despite their name, they are not added to preserve your health.

Control Your Weight
A healthy weight is a great foundation for a healthy life. It’s important to have both a healthy diet as well as a form of exercise that you can have fun doing.

Have a Support System
Having emotional support is just as important as a balanced diet or regular exercise. Having people you can cry and laugh with increases your chances of living beyond the average person.

Think Hard!
Keeping your brain active through puzzles and reading can help keep your brain strong. Time to re-read your favorite book!

Meditation has been shown to have a ton of positive effects on your health, which includes reducing stress.

People who travel more often have less stress. Less stress = a better and longer life!

Keep it Spicy
In the kitchen, that is. Choosing to cook with spices rather than flavoring things with unhealthy options like butter means flavorful food without all of the bad side effects.

Spend Time with People Who Make You Healthy
You are more likely to keep up with your good habits if those around you are encouraging or even take part in these habits themselves! Having a group of people who motivate you can do great things for your health.

Get a Pet!
People who own pets live longer than people who don’t. Which is great news, because pets are adorable and make loyal companions! Having a pet can help alleviate the feelings of stress and depression also.

Eat Nuts
According to the Huffington Post, a study has shown that people ages 55 to 90 who incorporate nuts into their daily diet had a 39% lower risk of early death, especially walnut-eaters!

Doing good for others means good things for your health. People who volunteer live longer than those who don’t!

To quote Star Trek – live long and prosper!

When to Give Up Your Driver’s License

You’ve probably been driving for quite a long time if you’re at retirement age, and you’re probably a pretty good driver with all of that practice. So you may be feeling like your days of driver’s tests and nerves behind the wheel are long behind you. But the reality for many of us as we age is that driving becomes dangerous as our health decreases.


Dangerous Freedom

When you pushed the gas pedal the first time, you probably felt a surge of freedom and energy. Many senior citizens fight their doctor or loved ones when they are told that it is time to lose their keys for good, but it is often a decision that is made after a lot of thought and consideration.

While right now you feel confident behind the wheel, you need know that somewhere down the road of life… being on the road may be a risk that is too high to take. Consider the facts:

The good news is that if aging DOES affect your ability to drive, you can avoid an accident by recognizing the problem and taking action.


How Do You Know?

So, how do you know when it is time to quit driving? Here are a few of the signs:

  • You have been involved in or almost been involved in more than one accident in the past two years
  • You have gotten more than one traffic violation in the past two years
  • You have difficulty staying within the lines of the road
  • You find yourself getting lost in familiar places or places you have driven to before
  • You are scared to drive alone
  • You are having difficulty working your vehicle
  • You find yourself driving far too slow or far too fast
  • You begin to feel increasingly anxious behind the wheel

If this sounds like you, consider talking to your family or doctor about whether or not it is safe for you to drive. If it doesn’t, remember these signs for the future for you and loved ones.


Avoiding Accidents

There are other things that you can do in order to make driving safer for you and those around you. This includes getting regular eye and hearing exams, making sure that you are getting enough sleep to be awake and alert when driving, and being aware of the side effects of your medicine that could decrease your driving ability. If a loved one shows concern about your driving, it is important to be open to what they are telling you and to not get defensive. Remember that they are bringing this up because they care about you!

If you ever decide that it’s time for you to quit driving, there are plenty of transportation options for you to choose from at Sherwood Oaks. Not being a licensed driver does NOT mean that you’ll be stuck at home. We have a fleet of busses that go off-campus each day to local businesses, shopping malls, grocery stores, and into Oakland. For a fee, we can also take you to appointments, shopping at a location of your choice, to the airport, or anywhere else you need to go! Your staff driver can even drive you in your car (just pay an hourly fee), or you are welcome to use a car from Sherwood Oaks at an hourly fee plus mileage.

We will also be hosting an AARP safe driving class on September 24 and 25. Residents and members of the community are welcome to join.

Whether you’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, we want to make sure that you get where you need to go – safely!

Weight and Retirement: What is Healthy?

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “People who are close to retirement age show the highest rates of weight gain and obesity.” Why is this, what is normal, and how can you prevent post-retirement weight gain?

Reasons for Weight Gain

Just at any point in our lives, we can gain or lose weight for a variety of reasons. Some people with physically active jobs may be doing less activity than they are used to. Others have different eating habits or schedules after retirement. Some people turn to eating – or lose their appetite – when they move from the home they are used to, or feel a sense of loss of self when they no longer have a career.

For some, weight gain or loss is completely a medical issue. An injury may keep them from physical activity or medication can cause a weight gain. And don’t forget that our metabolism changes as we age also. Even though each person is unique, there is a general level of health and fitness that is considered healthy for your age group/height/gender.

Where You Should Be

The CDC offers two solutions for finding out if you are at a healthy weight: Your body mass index (BMI) and your waist circumference. Your BMI calculates the amount of body fat you have, while your waist circumference says if you have a high amount of dangerous belly fat. Belly fat is tied to a number of obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.

There are many BMI calculators available online, including this one from WebMD. All you need to do is enter in your gender, height, age, weight, pants size, weight loss goal (you can choose to maintain) and activity level. You will get a number as a result, and this is your BMI. It will tell you whether or not you are in a healthy range. But… what if you aren’t?

How to Get There

We are very interested in keeping our residents happy and healthy! That’s why we regularly provide information like:

But did you also know that we also have a nutritionist on staff, who you can talk to about your diet and any special needs you have. We also have a tablet in the dining room that gives you our menu, including nutritional information. And soon, nutritional information will be available online. No matter where you stand on the scale, there is room for improvement on your health!

Have the Safest Summer Picnic Ever

Memorial Day weekend kicked off one of our favorite seasons – picnic season! There aren’t many things better than getting together with friends and family for food and fun. But with summer comes a lot of danger, also. Especially as you age. Don’t let a fun family get-together turn into an emergency situation. Follow these simple tips for fun in the sun.

  • Make sure the venue is friendly for everyone

If you or other picnic guests need a venue that is wheelchair-friendly or provides a lot of shade, be sure to take that into consideration when you are making your reservation. If you are a resident at Sherwood Oaks, we have a picnic area for you to use, and can even cater your event! There are picnic tables, grills, and outdoor games for your use, or you can move the event inside to our Oak Lodge Great Room in case of rain.

  • Make sure perishable items are stored in a cooler

If you are taking meat to grill to an offsite location, make sure that it is kept cool on your journey so that you don’t end up with very sick picnic guests! If you will be grilling close to home, keep these items in the refrigerator until you’re ready to plop them on the grill!

  • Use a food thermometer

The best way to make sure that your meat is cooked to perfection is to check its temperature with a food thermometer. Here is a handy guide from the food network to help you make sure that the burgers you are serving are safe for hungry picnic-goers.

  • Remember sunscreen!

Don’t try to get a nice summer tan. The higher the level of protection, the better! Review our guide to making healthy decisions this spring and make sure you’re covered!

  • Bring hand sanitizer or wet wipes

The great outdoors involve a lot of dirty things. Even if you don’t realize it, getting your hands dirty could be very dangerous if you sneak a chip or piece of watermelon. To help keep germs at bay for everyone at the picnic, be sure to have antibacterial wipes or liquid hand sanitizer nearby, just in case you don’t have immediate access to a sink and soap.

  • Drink plenty of water

Dehydration is a major risk for seniors, so it is important to drink plenty of water when you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time. If you don’t like water, try adding some flavoring to it, or flavor it naturally with fruit!

  • Find shade if you need it

If you feel like you are getting overheated in the sun, move to the shade or go inside to enjoy some air conditioning. Heat stroke can come on quickly and be extremely dangerous to your health. Your family and friends will understand if you have to miss out on some of the fun to cool down.

  • Make up a first aid kit

A simple first aid kit will have you prepared for a wide array of situations that may pop up, from mosquito bites to minor cuts. It’s smart to keep these handy:

      • Band aids
      • Insect repellant
      • Antiseptic cream
      • Extra sunscreen
      • Bug bite cream
      • Larger bandages
      • Cloth tape and sterile gauze
      • Tweezers
      • Disposable gloves
      • Ibuprofen or another pain reliever
      • Ice packs
      • An antihistamine
  • Know your medicine

Some medicines have an adverse reaction when you spend time in the sun. Your skin can become inflamed and red, looking almost like a sunburn. In photoallergenic reactions, these symptoms can end up being very long lasting. Don’t take the risk. Check the labels of your medication and ask you’re doctor if you aren’t sure about how any of your medications will react with the sun.

With your health in check, it’s time to pack that picnic basket with hot dogs and potato salad!

Be Flexible: Yoga for Seniors

Yoga can help those who practice with a wide variety of problems – from anxiety and pain to digestion and diabetes. It can help make you calm, flexible, and healthy. According to Livestrong, “Participants in a medical study in India saw their blood pressure decrease during three months of yoga.”

But it can be extremely intimidating! Especially if you’re at retirement age and have never practiced it before. The good news is that anyone can do yoga, and it’s never too late to try. You may just need to adapt your workout in order to not push the limits of what your body can do.


Start Small

Everyone’s level of physical activity is different. If you’re active, you may consider yoga to be quite easy. If you aren’t used to working out, it might feel extremely difficult at first. No matter what you think you are capable of, start off small. This may mean doing yoga for a shorter amount of time at the beginning or skipping moves that are too difficult for you.

Here are some simple poses from AARP that can help you get started on your own. Sherwood Oaks also has yoga classes that are exclusive to residents and perfect for everyone, whether they consider themselves an athlete or a newbie! Classes are offered weekly and are taught by our Fitness Director, a certified yoga instructor. Not only can you consider this a healthy habit, but it’s also a social gathering! We get a great turnout from residents each week.

If you want to get a taste for yoga before you come to a class, you can check out some YouTube videos to try out on your own. Like this one, which shows you some yoga stretches specifically tailored to seniors.



You won’t be able to keep up with everyone – and that’s ok! Remember as you start out that no matter how good you are at something, someone out there is better.

You need to learn the moves that work best for you. This could mean that you choose to do the adapted moves that your instructor gives you. If a pose is difficult for you and your instructor does not give you an adapted pose, go ahead and ask! Your body will thank you for not pushing it too hard.

If you’re practicing yoga on your own, do a simple search for yoga poses that may help your specific ailments. For instance, here are some simple yoga poses that have been shown to provide menopause relief.


Work Your Mind, Too

A lot of yoga focuses more on your breath than the movement of your body. Don’t ignore the part of yoga that explains how to breathe – it is just as important as every stretch! When done correctly, your breath can help you keep up your stamina and promote calm and concentration.


Keep Trying!

It might be difficult, but don’t give up. Like many kinds of workouts, you will get better the longer you stick with your yoga routine. Each week, you will be a little bit more flexible and a little bit more comfortable with your surroundings.


Have you been a longtime yogi? What are your best tips for beginners?

10 Simple New Years Resolutions for Senior Citizens

Happy 2014! We’re glad to have another exciting year in the books at Sherwood Oaks retirement community, and we are looking forward to everything the New Year will bring. With each New Year comes a new set of resolutions to set for a happier and healthier you.

If you’re looking for simple ways to make 2014 better than the last, here are some of our favorite suggestions:


1. Take Your Health Into Your Hands

Listening to health professionals is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Knowledge is power at any age. Do your own research on healthy habits you can begin based on your individual health needs. If you’re trying to watch your blood sugar levels, find some great sugar-free versions of your favorite foods. If you’re active and trying to come up with stress relief techniques, think about yoga or meditation. From dropping your diet soda habit to taking an hour-long walk a day, you can make small changes for a big difference.


2. Eat Better

Speaking of food habits, 2014 is a great year to provide you body with the right fuel that it is a great resource on nutritious eating, and it suggests that 50% of your plate be fruits and vegetables. It’s a known fact that when you eat better, you feel better!


3. Find a New, Healthy Activity

Not everyone is a runner, and some people hate working out in a group! The great thing about physical fitness is that there are so many ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Now is a good time to try out a sport you’ve always wanted to take part in or to swim laps a few times a week like you used to. Experiment and find the right activity for your personality and activity level.


4. Check Something Off of Your Bucket List

Entering your golden years doesn’t mean that the excitement is over! This can be the year you finally take that trip to Paris, reunite with your childhood best friend or buy your dream car. It might take some work, but think about the biggest goal you have yet to accomplish and start working toward it!


5. Connect More With Friends and Family

As children and friends get older, their families grow – and their free time shrinks. Make connecting with loved ones a priority this year. This can happen by scheduling a weekly Skype call with your grandchildren, having coffee every other week with your old high school pals or making sure to fit in a date night every month. Time spent laughing with those that mean the most is time well spent.


6. Reduce

One of the best lessons we ever learn is the difference between “want” and “need.” Making the move from a house to a retirement community is a great example of downsizing and making this important decision. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Look around your home and see where you can reduce clutter. In just a few minutes you can sort through one of those messes you’ve “been meaning to get to” and make your space more usable!

Similarly, the beginning of a new year is a good time to look at your budget and decide where you may be able to cut back.


7. Be a Kid Again 

Did you love riding bikes as a child? Did you take Saturday morning shopping trips with your mother? Think about a happy memory from childhood and bring it back to your life in a new way!


8. Tell Your Story Your Way

Sharing your life with your children and grandchildren will mean more to them than you know. Technology makes it easier to share photos and stories than ever before. Upload old photos toFlickr or start a blog to share your story with the world!


9. Brush Up on New Technology

Speaking of new technology – are you confused about theFacebook feature your granddaughter explained to you? Would you like to figure out how to video chat on your own? Learn about a piece of technology that is of interest through a local community class or your own research! Searching YouTube for tutorials is a good place to start, or reach out to the tech addict in your life!


10. Celebrate the Little Things

Every healthy check up, child’s birthday, and reached goal is another reason to celebrate. Make 2014 the year that you acknowledge and celebrate the good moments!

Coffee Means Healthy Sipping for Seniors

Coffee is a way that many Americans start their day, and a favorite drink for senior citizens, including many residents of Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community. Some have hailed coffee as a superfood, pointing out its many health and anti-aging benefits. It is a great source of antioxidants and helps keep those who drink it alert. But are there also risks involved with coffee consumption, and is it a healthy beverage for seniors?

The answer is yes.

The Good

Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of many ailments that are common in seniors, according to Mayo Clinic specialists.  These include:

  • Certain cancers
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

MedCentral Health System states those who drink alcohol but also more than three cups of coffee a day have half the chance of developing cirrhosis than those who just drink coffee.

Coffee can also help with asthma symptoms, headaches, and even cavities because of its antibacterial properties. But how pure coffee is makes a difference. According to a study reported by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the antibacterial properties were only beneficial when sugar and other additives were not included in participants’ cups of joe.

So what is the perfect number of cups to drink in a day? The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that consuming three cups a day was the perfect number to help reduce the chance of developing the disease.

The Bad

Of course, there are a few small risks involved with coffee consumption. Possible negative side effects include:

  • Increase in cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of calcium

As with many things, coffee is good for you in moderation. More than six cups of coffee a day can lead a coffee-addict to become overly anxious and jittery. However, these are symptoms that can come with even moderate consumption. Other common negative side effects are nausea, insomnia, and an increase in heart rate.

If you’re at retirement age and you’ve got a “few cups a day” habit when it comes to coffee drinking, keep up the habit! Seniors can reap many benefits from a jolt of java.

Beat Winter Woes with These Healthy Tips

Winter might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a quite dangerous time for retirees. As we age, our bodies have a more difficult time defending from sickness and recovering from injury. But you can take preventative measures to be sure that you can spend this winter snuggling up to loved ones, not sniffling in bed.

Cold & Flu – According to Contac Cold and Flu, Cold and flu season spans October to May, with the peak of cases popping up in February. To avoid the aches and pains that come with cold and flu, you should be sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with others and before meals. Keep hand sanitizer handy when there is no soap and water nearby. Getting enough sleep, drinking the recommended amount of water, and reducing stress also help to keep your immune system strong. It is also recommended that you get the flu shot to avoid illness.

Frostbite and Hypothermia – The older we get, the more difficult it is for our bodies to retain body heat, which means that senior citizens run a higher risk of suffering from frostbite and hypothermia. To reduce your risk, be sure to cover as much skin as possible when you leave the house and to be on the lookout for signs of danger. According to the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging, these symptoms include shivering, pale or ashy skin, a feeling of sleepiness, confusion, slowed heart rate, or trouble walking.

Heartburn – Ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes… the food around the holidays is exceptionally good, but not always so good for you. Bigger meals can lead to heartburn that is less than merry, so you should try to take a preventative heartburn medication and eat slowly and in moderation to avoid paying for your meal later.

Dry Skin – Dry, itchy skin can make winter uncomfortable. To go from scratchy to smooth, be sure to moisturize regularly with an over-the-counter moisturizer, especially after a bath or shower as this removes moisture from the body. Running a humidifier can also help keep skin soft.

Arthritis – Many sufferers report that their arthritis is more painful in the winter. Ease arthritis pain by staying warm, which includes taking warm baths and enjoying some time in the hot tub. It’s also important to stay active in order to keep muscles strong.

Slips and Falls – Suggesting winter boots with traction might sound more like fashion advice than health advice, but slippery sidewalks and parking lots can be a serious issue for senior citizens, who already run a risk of being injured in a fall due to brittle bones. Choose footwear that is as functional as it is stylish. Snow might be falling, but you shouldn’t be, too.

General Unhealthy Feeling – If you’re just feeling a little bit crummy this winter, it might be because you need to make time for fitness in your schedule. We’ve written before about the top-quality exercise programs and amenities that come with being a Sherwood Oaks resident. Be sure to use them! Combined with a full menu of healthy foods, we are your partner in staying active and healthy this winter.

Some great news for the winter season (and every season)? Residents of retirement communities are shown to have a longer lifespan with greater quality of life because of the balanced lifestyle that they are able to take advantage of. With so many opportunities for socialization, exercise, and nutritional food, it’s easy to see why retirement communities like Sherwood Oaks are a healthy decision.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

While you don’t want to ponder the unthinkable happening to you or your spouse, any good Boy Scout will tell you that it pays to be prepared. That is why it is important for even the healthiest retiree to educate themselves on the early signs of Alzheimer’s.

One important thing is to understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Alzheimer’s is a disease, while Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, including, according to the Mayo Clinic, language difficulty, loss of recent memory or poor judgment.

Memory Loss – We can all be forgetful sometimes, and memory loss can happen in the aging process. But serious memory loss that affects your way of life is NOT normal. And don’t just brush it off if someone forgets the name of someone in his or her life one day but remembers the next. Memory loss can come and go day by day.

Loss of Motor Skills – Patients can often develop numbness in their limbs, which makes it difficult for them to complete tasks that require fine motor skills.

Making Odd Decisions – According to, “The earliest changes in judgment usually involve money. So people who were normally very cautious with their finances will start spending in unusual ways, like giving money to unworthy strangers like telemarketers, or withholding money they should pay, because they incorrectly believe their utility company is suddenly untrustworthy.” Be on the lookout for odd behaviors that seem out of character and changes in mood and personality, including withdrawing from things you or your loved one enjoys.

Difficulty Completing Tasks – Daily tasks can become a struggle to those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. They may be unable to remember how to do things that were second nature to them or be able to complete them but in much slower a time period.

Anger and Mood Swings – Alzheimer’s is a frustrating disease to anyone it touches, and it can lead to a person feeling frustrated and lashing out. Confusion about what is happening can cause them to be on edge and have high levels of anxiety.

Difficulty with Distance, Color, Etc. – Some Alzheimer’s patients over or underestimate the distance between two objects and show difficulty distinguishing differences in color.  They can also get easily confused with times.

Losing Things, Including Themselves – Patients often find themselves misplacing items. And also says, “Unfortunately, about 60% of people with dementia have a tendency to walk off, wander aimlessly, and become lost, often repeatedly.”

Loss of Ability to Take Care of Themselves – Someone with early Alzheimer’s may not make it to the bathroom or remember to eat or bathe.

There are MANY other signs of Alzheimer’s, and many can also be signs of other issues. If you notice any of these signs in you or a loved one, be sure to see a doctor. Our medical offices are open to Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community residents at all times, helping you diagnose and manage difficult diseases such as Alzheimer’s. To schedule an appointment at our medical offices, call, X8480, or call X8496 for our community nurse.

Take Precautions in Summertime Heat

Summertime is full of wonderful opportunities to enjoy beautiful weather with friends and family. But with sunny days come some extra health risks for senior citizens. Plus, preexisting conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can make you extra prone to heat-related issues. Here are some things to keep in mind as you enjoy your summer!

Protect skin from the sun. You should wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. You can also choose to wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt. If you do happen to get a sunburn, soothe skin with aloe vera and take either aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.

Enjoy some cool treats. When the weather is sweltering, it can help to indulge in some sweet treats. There are plenty of iced options for those who have special dietary needs, such as sugar-free offerings. Some treats you should avoid? Anything including caffeine or alcohol.

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated on hot days is crucial to being and feeling healthy. You should aim to drink at least 8, 8 oz. glasses of water each day. Not a fan of water? Sports drinks are also great for helping you stay hydrated.

Examine your medicines. Some medicines make you more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Be sure to check the labels on your medications and check with your doctor about any precautions to take.

Wear sunglasses. Not only can the sun damage the skin on your eyes, but your actual corneas and lenses, too. To avoid any damage, you should look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.

Watch for heat stroke. If you or someone else begins to feel nausea or dizziness, it may be heat stroke. If heat stroke begins, it is important to get this person in a cool area, have them lie down, remove any tight fitting clothes, apply ice packs and call for medical attention. Don’t take any chances!

Check in with friends and family. If you’re going to be doing an activity outside all day, be sure to stay cool and let friends and family know where you are. They will feel better knowing that you’re happy and safe.

Remember, if you are suffering from any heat-related problem, you can visit Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community’s health care center – located right on campus!