Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Lives Enriched through NIFS Legacy Program

Legacy photo-1In February, you may have read about NIFS Legacy Program which was run at a number of our senior living client sites across the country. Many fitness centers were considering programs to promote cardiovascular health for Heart Health Month and this initiative had its own way of tugging at the heart strings. As I was reviewing the monthly reports that our staff were submitting highlighting their program offerings and participation in the month of February, I was touched by this quote from our Wellness Director, Candace Montgomery, at The Chesapeake in Newport News, Virginia, a LifeSpire of Virginia community. NIFS has been partnered with LifeSpire since 2016 to manage their Vibrance program across three of their communities. As you read below, you’ll understand how the resident response to this program exemplifies how LifeSpire is committed to creating joy, purpose, growth, and community in daily living for their residents and we are honored to help create these experiences.

“We took part in NIFS Legacy Project which was a huge success for our Independent Living, Assisted Living and Healthcare residents with 74 participants. It was very interesting learning about residents lives and memories that they jotted down during this project. This project was also very touching for many residents who live in Independent Living but have spouses in Healthcare. One resident in particular came to our fitness office in tears of joy about the heartwarming conversations she had with her husband in Healthcare regarding their life and their children and all of the happy memories that occurred. This is truly what the Legacy Project was all about!”  - Candace Montgomery, NIFS Wellness Director

Candace is absolutely right. That IS what it’s all about and I see and feel so much from reading her summary.

  • I see a compassionate and creative wellness professional who values the stories that her residents have to share and a team-oriented approach that was needed to make this program a success.
  • I see 74 residents across all continuums of care participating in a program that gives them purpose and warms their hearts (all of our hearts frankly).
  • I see a couple reminiscing about the beautiful life they continue to share because they are receiving the care and support they need in a nurturing environment.
  • And I see family members receiving a keepsake that will be cherished for generations to come.

All four of these bullets shine a spotlight on the impact that quality wellness programs can have on your staff, residents, and their families; all were enriched by this program.

While many know us as a fitness management company, our staff are regularly offering holistic programs of this nature to support the overall well-being of the residents we serve. In addition, we strive to bridge programs and services throughout the continuums of care to benefit all residents. Here are a few tips to help carry programs that are offered to your IL residents over to your licensed areas with a little creative planning and teamwork.

Thank you to Candace and the team at The Chesapeake for enriching lives of the residents in your community and for enriching us from afar with your story.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

 

Topics: senior wellness senior wellness programs legacy

Active Aging: Taking an In-Depth Look at Community Programs

4399_KF_3168Community wellness programming is one of the most important ways to keep your residents engaged. As wellness professionals, it’s our job to make sure that the programs being put into play are impactful and enjoyable, and continue to set precedents and work on the varying dimensions of wellness.

ZOOM: Get a New Perspective on Wellness

Have you heard of the book Zoom? It’s a children’s book by Istvan Banyai. Each page zooms out a little bit farther until you see the bigger picture. Sometimes, as wellness leaders, we tend to forget to “zoom out” and look at what’s working and what isn’t.

When looking at the bigger picture, try to take in all of the offerings at the community. What is working? What isn’t working? What programs need to be revamped or even tossed out? How is your community keeping up with fitness and wellness trends in order to stand out among the rest?

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Most communities have a way of collecting attendance data and feedback from residents. If this isn't happening at your community, consider it to be of utmost importance in order to provide quality programming and understand how residents react to evolving programming.

For communities that do not have data collection in place, consider looking at this blog post by Emily Davenport, NIFS Director of Fitness Management and Active Aging Services, to help you understand how to get started. Once you have a clean, simple way of collecting resident data, it will eliminate a lot of stress.

For communities that do have this in place, look through the data to see what is trending at the community and what isn’t. What trends are you seeing? Are you noticing an influx of residents committing to a program for a couple of months and then falling off the wagon? Are you seeing numbers holding steady and noticing a positive benefit from certain programs that are worth keeping the same? Being able to tap into this data collection is key when deciding what works for the community and what needs to be improved upon.

To Keep or Not to Keep?

Taking an in-depth look into offerings is also a great way to understand whether something needs to be let go. A great way to do this is to look at comparative data over the months/years and start asking questions. If you notice that a program or offering fluctuates in attendance, you may want to consider revamping the offering in a new and exciting way. Maybe the program went from being well-attended to never attended. If that’s the case, you probably would be better off taking away that program and adding something else, or recreating a different offering to increase attendance.

Always Leave Them Wanting MORE

When resident attendance starts to increase, keep in mind that your programs need to evolve. This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly reinvent the wheel, but it does mean that you should continually add different aspects to your programs. If we lack evolution of our offerings, our communities start to get stagnant and too comfortable. Including new and innovative ways to get our community members involved is a key piece when standing out as wellness professionals.

The reason most of us have become wellness professionals is to impact the well-being and improve the quality of life for our residents, patients, or team members. It’s our duty to continually provide engaging, fun, and interactive ways for our community members to learn, grow, and live out their lives in a positive way.

Check out our Quickread to evaluate the quality of your wellness program, click below.

Download Now

Topics: senior wellness active aging data collection resident wellness programs wellness programming resident engagement data analysis community wellness

Create Your Own Legacy: A Keepsake for Senior Living Families

Welcome to February, the month when most of us are feeling like we are moving oh so slow through the remainder of the winter months. We have come off the high of gift giving and receiving, enjoying time with family and friends, and even the excitement of the New Year. We are still reflecting on the past year or even the holidays, wishing we could bottle up that time we had with family and friends.

GettyImages-1047684930 (1)When it comes to programming options in senior living, NIFS understands that communities strive to create a memorable experience for residents and their families all year long, which is why we are excited to bring clients the NIFS Legacy program. This is a simple one, but with a memorable result. We are inviting each resident to participate by handwriting answers to simple life questions and to have their photo taken to create a nostalgic piece that will then be transformed into a keepsake for the resident to share with their family.

Building Connections

While NIFS staff are known for providing traditional fitness programming, we also find it engaging to offer opportunities like this program. Interacting with residents each day in our social atmosphere allows us to build relationships and connections that go beyond fitness alone. We often have the privilege of getting to know the residents’ family members through holiday visits, summer vacations, or the weekly check-in. So being a part of a project that will provide a memorable keepsake is icing on the cake for us, knowing how much their son, daughter, niece, or nephew will enjoy it!

Well-Being is More Than Healthy Eating and Exercise

We’ve written before how well-being extends beyond exercising and eating right. With the NIFS Legacy program, residents and staff collaborate to discuss and capture memories and turn them into a special memento that residents can share with their family and friends. Not only does this opportunity foster a connection, but it also helps fulfill a more well-rounded wellness program at the communities we serve. It hits home on the holistic approach to supporting resident well-being by offering an outlet for emotional and spiritual wellness, acknowledging the meaning and purpose of their life and creating new memories with their loved ones.

The meaning of legacy is to “put a stamp on the future,” and we know that our residents have contributed a great amount of time, knowledge, and love to such a thoughtful keepsake. By sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, they will be contributing to the future.

A Partnership Between NIFS and Your Senior Living Community

NIFS partners with premier senior living providers across the US to bring their residents best-in-class fitness and wellness programming. The NIFS Legacy program is a great example of how our qualified fitness professionals have the skills and resources to artfully marry creative programming with relationship building to offer programs of intention and purpose for residents. Click here to learn more about how the NIFS team integrates with communities to help you achieve your wellness goals.

We are excited to invite residents to create their own legacy with handwritten answers to simple life questions alongside a photo that will inspire their family and peers. Throughout the month of February, residents will have an opportunity to visit the community wellness center to create this wonderful keepsake.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

This blog was written by Lindsay Knox, Assistant Director Active Aging Services, National Institute for Fitness and Sport.

 

Topics: senior wellness senior living memory family emotional wellness well-being

Transcending Generations with Wellness in One Word

NIFS is participating in the Wellness in One Word campaign sponsored by Monarch Collaborations and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). The campaign will launch a digital photo gallery during Active Aging Week on October 1 – October 7, 2019 of individuals taking a picture or selfie while holding up their defined word of what wellness means to them in that moment. The goal is to collect and share 1,000 pictures to connect people, spark discussion and create a strong sense of community amongst participants across the world.

It is fascinating to think how this “word” can change for us so many times throughout the day depending on life’s stressors, our interactions with others, what we are able to accomplish in that day, etc.. It’s also interesting how this “word” might be felt or interpreted by different generations.

Emily.GratefulWhen I asked our NIFS team members to share their “word”, I received submissions of vitality, fulfillment, longevity, power, and balance. Our staff join our team from all walks of life and personal and professional experiences, yet their commonality is a strong desire and passion to work with seniors. Through providing individualized exercise services and teaching a variety of exercise classes, our staff are building relationships and helping improve the quality of life for older adults across the country. The tone and context of their submissions was similarly unified.

When I first started my career with NIFS, I managed a fitness program for a senior living client on the south side of Indianapolis. During my time at the community, I enjoyed sharing personal milestones with the residents of purchasing our first home, celebrating our first wedding anniversary, becoming pregnant with our first child and receiving a job promotion. As a young professional in that environment surrounded by active older adults with so many stories to tell about their own life experiences and rich histories, it helped me gain a strong perspective in how much one should truly cherish those milestones and experiences. While my job was to teach and lead the residents in various fitness programs, I learned so much from them in this perspective that I have carried with me through my career and life.

We can reflect on the emotional highs and lows of a given day or a given hour of a day when our words might be anxious, happy, excited, or accomplished. When it comes down to focusing on our overall well-being and pursuing a life of purpose and intention, I believe the “words” our staff are feeling transcend all generations whether you are a young professional at 23 beginning your career or an 83-year-old taking a balance class in a senior living community. The NIFS team is learning valuable lessons in how to appreciate those universal truths for all of us pursuing vitality, fulfillment, longevity, and balance. As I personally reflect on this campaign, our teams’ work serving older adults across the country, and what my “word” will be, I chose grateful.

Follow us on Facebook to see some of our Wellness in One Word submissions.

Topics: senior wellness continuing care retirement community active aging active aging week, inspiration wellness-based lifestyle

Build Relationships to Grow Your Wellness Program

As the manager of your wellness program, have you ever been at the point where participation has stalled a bit? Maybe January was huge with all the New Year’s resolutions and February was decent, but it slowed down in March and April. So how do you reach out to that crowd that’s a little less motivated to participate in your wellness programming?

Learn names.

Think about the last time you were new in a place—maybe a gym, maybe a church, maybe even your favorite restaurant. It’s a little uncomfortable, right? Even if you’re an extrovert and you love meeting new people, it’s not the same feeling as walking in to a group of friends. Now think of how much more at ease you would feel if you heard your name and turned around to see someone you knew. Take the time and make the effort to learn as many names as you possibly can. And then use them! Asking “Hello, Mrs. Smith, how’s your day going?” can go a long way toward building a rapport with Mrs. Smith and making her feel welcome in the fitness space.

Invite them out for coffee.

Get to know them! The point of this coffee date is not to probe them with questions about why they aren’t coming to this amazing triathlon event you’re having with all the prizes. The reason you’re sitting down and taking 20 minutes out of your day specifically for them is to build a relationship. Ask them about their family, their career, their hobbies. Get to know them on some level and show that you genuinely care about them as a person. That’s it. You don’t even need to invite them to come down to the fitness center sometime. You’re planting a seed. Then, eventually, if you’re hosting a wellness event that has something that might appeal to them, make a point to speak to them about it directly and see if they’d like to come.

GettyImages-483770407 (1)Hand-write cards and notes.

Yes, it’s impractical to hand-write every notice or invitation that goes out advertising your wellness program. But it is absolutely practical to take a minute to write someone a two- or three-sentence note in a birthday card once a year. Make people feel special! If there’s a program where you think “Mrs. Smith would be perfect for this,” write a sentence or two on the bottom of the postcard that’s going out with the information on it. Something as simple as “I hope to see you there!” can go a long way if it’s in your handwriting with your signature at the bottom.

Remember the details.

I struggle with this one because I have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time so my memory isn’t great. So, I write it down. If Mrs. Smith comes to show me the 72 photos that she just received in the mail of her new baby great-granddaughter, I’m going to write a note to myself to remember that baby’s name so that I can ask Mrs. Smith about her in a few weeks. It seems tedious and small, but I promise you that remembering those details goes a long way in building trust with that member.

What other ways do you build relationships with people who interact with your wellness program?

Partner with NIFS to improve your senior living community

Topics: corporate wellness senior wellness motivation participation personal interest wellness programs relationships

Friendship Village Resident Praises the NIFS Fitness Program

IMG_1985NIFS has been partnering with Friendship Village Kalamazoo since 2015, when they opened their beautiful new Wellness Center. We recently heard an uplifting story from FV resident Kim Cummings regarding the impact the health and fitness program has had on his mobility and outlook on life.

Mr. Cummings has been an avid participant since joining the program in 2015, faithfully attending fitness classes two to three times a week and exercising in the Strength & Cardio Studio. NIFS Fitness Manager Alecia Dennis commented, “I love how Kim is always pushing himself to be better and stronger than yesterday. I am thankful that I am able to watch him flourish in all of his fitness endeavors. He truly is an inspiration to me and all of the residents here at Friendship Village!

We know the value our services bring to the residents and communities we serve, but it never gets old (ever) hearing directly from residents like Kim about their journey. Here is Kim’s inspiring story.

I came to Friendship Village regretting my ongoing dependence on a walker and lacking confidence in the Village’s fitness program. After eight months of our actual experience here, my perceptions radically changed. Having become a regular user of the fitness machines, now attending stretch and strength group classes two or three times a week, and now regularly walking our dog on the paved pathways surrounding the Village and its nearby woods, I’ve actually been able to ditch my walker and, though slowly, feel myself gaining additional strength.
I’ve also come to recognize the fitness program’s social function. The group classes, led by our zesty fitness manager, connect me with an ever-larger group of exercisers. None of us is terribly fit, but we all feel good about marching and stretching and pulling together. We just like coming together, grabbing our weights, finding a chair, and chatting with our neighbors. Likewise, when working out on the fitness machines, I find myself connecting with the individual exercising beside me. The machines are fun to work out on—they give one a sense of accomplishment and progress, but they also provide a great opportunity to introduce oneself to others.
A lover of the outdoors, I’ve also come to appreciate the Village’s accessible and attractive walking paths. I’ve particularly enjoyed my recent walks in the Village Woods (where, even in the winter, the paths are kept clear). I love getting to know the many different plantings and benches dedicated to past residents and to see the ongoing work of the Woods volunteers. Last week I spied a flock of migrating robins passing through the Woods and feasting on the crabapples planted along the side. Walking in the Woods reconnects me with nature and with the rich collective heritage of this Village community.
Freed from my walker and gaining strength, I feel that the fitness program and other aspects of Village life have added to my independence, enabling me to get around more easily. At the same time, it helps me get socially connected with other residents and stay connected with nature. I couldn’t ask for more.
Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.
Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living fitness center nifs fitness center management testimonials senior wellness consulting

Walking Group Safety for Retirement Communities: Have Fun and Be Safe!

HarrogateBelieve it or not, warm weather has arrived in some parts of the country, and is quickly approaching in others. As the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and nature begins to call, many older adults will be heading out the door for a walk outside. This is a very good thing, and should be encouraged for most people. Some retirement communities may even establish walking groups, which can be an extremely rewarding and fun activity for everyone.

If you plan to start, or join, a walking group near you, this blog is for you! Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to walk.

Prescreening

If you are responsible for heading up a walking group, keep prescreening in mind. Walking, like any form of exercise, does carry risk. Prescreening is a great tool used in all fitness programs to ensure participant safety, identify risk, and reduce liability of fitness professionals. It is very likely that most people who will want to participate in your walking group will have already been screened during their membership application, and are good to go. However, it is important to make sure everyone in your group has been prescreened and understands the risks involved in exercise prior to joining. This is the first step toward protecting others and yourself.

Plan Ahead

Before you embark on your first walk as a group, make sure everyone knows where you’re going. If you’re the group leader, be sure to go over the route with your participants before you leave. If you’re a participating member of the walking group, be sure to ask where you’re headed if you don’t already know. By sharing the route with all participants, you’re reducing the chances of anyone getting lost along the way. As the leader, you should also share your planned route with someone who will not be joining you. This way, in the event of an emergency, your group will be accounted for.

Don’t Go Empty-handed

Speaking of emergencies, they do happen. Walking is very safe for most people, but health and safety issues can arise quickly. In these cases, it would serve yourself and your group to be prepared. I recommend taking a few important things with you on a walk. If you are a member of the walking group, make sure to bring weather-appropriate clothing, water, and a cell phone with emergency numbers easily accessible. If you are leading the group, I recommend bringing the following:

  • Water for yourself
  • Extra water for others
  • A cell phone
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • A map of your route
  • A first-aid kit
  • A light folding chair

That last one may sound strange, but it is important for anyone experiencing a health issue or needing to rest on the trail to have the option of sitting down. Benches may not always be available in an emergency situation, so bringing another seating option along with you is a good idea.

Walking groups are a wonderful way to experience nature when the weather finally lightens up. Whether you are leading the group or joining it, be sure to take some precautions. By making sure everyone in your group has been prescreened, you make the walk safer for yourself and others. Planning and sharing your route before you leave reduces the chances of navigation issues, and ensures that your whereabouts are well known. Finally, by bringing along a few key items on your walk, you’ll be much more prepared for an emergency if it should arise. All of this together will make your walking group experience safer and more fun. Enjoy your walk!

Interested in how NIFS can help your community improve your fitness program?  See how we helped a client turn their program around, click below.

How we improved an already successful fitness program

Topics: senior wellness prescreening tools safety senior living activities starting a walking program

Does Your Senior Living Community Wellness Program Foster Ageism?

Several months ago, I listened to an interview on NPR with Ron Christie. He talked about working with President George W. Bush, who pressed the idea of combating the soft bigotry of low expectations when it came to the achievement gap for kids in schools. Turns out, the soft bigotry of low expectations is alive and well in all sorts of domains in this country, including how we view the abilities of older adults.

“If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

NIFS | Playing FrisbeeOne of the challenges that wellness program leaders in senior living communities must overcome is making sweeping assumptions about the abilities of their audience. And it's no easy task. I am in communities across the country on a regular basis where I'm routinely surprised by the stories I hear from residents about how enthusiastically they're living their lives right now. Shame on me. After more than a decade of doing this work, I am still amazed at how vibrant my elders can be. That amazement, though positive and delighting, is rooted in my ageist assumptions that older adults somehow cannot or should not live with the same enthusiasm that I choose for myself. It is representative of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Whether or not you can see these ageist assumptions in your own beliefs, you can see it very tangibly in the activity calendars, which are the visible display of how residents are invited to live well in your community. It shows up on senior living activity calendars in these (and other) ways:

  • Unique activities? Does your calendar have fewer than 5% of activities each month that are truly unique to the month, quarter, or year? If you're not sure, try this: pull up three months of calendars and cross off every item that is routine, including standing card games, meetings, birthday celebrations, group fitness classes, etc. See what's left and consider how empty your calendar might be if it highlighted only the unique events.
  • Passive vs. active? Does your calendar have a substantial percentage of the programming designed to be passive (sit-and-listen) rather than activating residents' minds and bodies? How many events are truly resident-led where the staff are only providing assistance with room reservation and possible event communication? Which programs can you point to that facilitate meaningful social interaction for your residents?
  • Serving just the vocal minority? Are your calendar events built largely on the vocal minority requests, where the activity director serves as an order-taker instead of pulling from a broader base of residents, community connections, etc.?

[Read More: 3 Keys To Improving Resident Engagement In Wellness]

Those are not the hallmarks of programming that communicate the capability, energy, and desires of the seniors we serve. Those are very much representative of offerings for those who are retiring from life. They tend to be narrow in scope, limiting in new experiences, and focused on probably 20–30% of your population. They demonstrate our lowered expectations for what will inspire seniors to engage.

Fortunately, it seems the senior living industry as a whole is moving toward educating on ageist stereotyping and uncovering systemic challenges that make it hard to overcome the generalized belief that increasing age means decreasing value to society. LeadingAge offered this "beginning conversation" in the magazine late in 2016, and the International Council on Active Aging has been beating the drum against ageism as well.

At the community level, using a fresh lens to see what's possible from an activities standpoint is a good start. That means dropping (as best you can) any perceptions you have about the audience you serve. You can take a stab at revealing your assumptions by giving a colleague your elevator speech about what you do.

  • Do you include assumptions about what programs residents will and will not participate in?
  • Do you have an underlying assumption of frailty in your residents?
  • Does your message speak to how resistant your residents are to change?

If your focus is on keeping residents busy and entertaining them, you may be building your enrichment program on ageist stereotypes. Perhaps it's time to do better. Check out these concrete ideas for truly honoring the passions and interests of your lively and very much alive residentsOr, if you're ready to get busy evaluating what you have as a starting point for making improvements, check out our quick read on how to evaluate the quality of your wellness program.

Find out how to evaluate your program

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living senior living community activities ageism

Senior Fitness: What is the point of exercising?

As we age, we get this notion that we no longer need to exercise, or as the common adage says, “I’m too old.” To put it bluntly, you are never too old to exercise or be active. No matter your condition, one of the best things you can do is to get up and move. Years of research has shown that exercising has tremendous health benefits, no matter what your age is! Exercising has shown to improve balance and coordination, prevent bone loss, increase strength, improve cognitive function, and decrease chronic illnesses such as diabetes. With this in mind, here are few senior wellness myths that older adults believe when it comes to exercising.

What is the point of exercising when decline in old age is inescapable?ThinkstockPhotos-494387649.jpg

Aging does not mean decline; it means another chapter in life with new challenges to overcome. There are numerous stories of older adults becoming marathon runners like Ed Whitlock, who ran marathons well into his 80s. While running a marathon may not be your goal, it does show you that age does not matter. The delusion is that aging means weakness and/or fatigue, but in reality it’s a sign of inactivity. More importantly, exercising and staying active can help you maintain your independence and your lifestyle.

At my age, is exercise really safe for me?

Yes, exercise is safe for you. Again it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Moreover, studies have shown that individuals who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to fall. In part this is because exercising improves strength, flexibility, and coordination. Two of the better exercises that target flexibility and coordination are tai chi and yoga. Additionally, exercising frequently will increase bone density and decrease the likelihood of osteoporosis. 

I have a chronic disease, so I shouldn’t exercise.

Many older adults suffer from arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic conditions. And because of it, older adults believe that they can no longer exercise. In fact, the opposite is true. Exercising and being physically active is the best thing to do. For example, if you have arthritis, exercising will help improve your range of motion and decrease the pain caused by arthritis, which will lead to increased energy levels and improved sleep. Additionally, if you happen to have arthritis, here are a few tips to get started before exercising:

  • Apply heat: This will help the blood flow and relax the muscles around the affected area.
  • Move gently: Move slowly to warm up the joints. You may want to do this between 5 and 10 minutes before moving on to strength and aerobic activities.
  • Ice: After performing your exercises, apply ice as needed to help prevent joint swelling.

***

If you are just starting out with senior fitness, make sure not to overdo it. It’s alright to start off slowly and to work your way up in intensity, especially if you have not been exercising for a few years or decades. The goal is to get moving and to create a habit that becomes a lifestyle. Also expect to experience soreness after beginning a program. However if you experience pain, you may have exercised too hard and will want to tone it down. 

See how we keep our residents coming back to the fitness center with our unique programing.  Click below for ideas to improve your programs.

Improve your programs >

Topics: senior wellness balance senior fitness staying active injury prevention osteoporosis

Navigating the Dining Options at Your Senior Living Community

So you moved to a retirement community! Raking leaves is soooo 10 years ago. Who needs a lawnmower—not you! Snow is just a pretty decoration because you don’t have to shovel it, or in some cases, even clean off your car. Some do miss these seasonal outdoor chores, but many don’t.

ThinkstockPhotos-120726908_1.jpgThe biggest change, however, is the fact that you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast. What a joy! My husband and I have the same exact conversation every day at around 5:30pm: What’s for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want? I don’t care. What do we have lying around that I can toss together quickly? I don’t know, eggs, a salad? And we end up usually having a salad, maybe with an omelet. Easy, but sooo boring.

The Many Choices in the CCRC Dining Room

When you move in to a senior living community, you are sure to take advantage of the wonderful food options. Blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday? Why not! You would probably have a boring bowl of cereal, but not now. You can have eggs Benedict, grits and toast, and sausage. What’s for dinner? I bet it’s the soup of the day, a salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Oh and the desserts. No graham crackers or dry cereal for you! No sir! Cakes, pies, a wide selection of ice cream, Jell-O, crème brûlée, pudding, the works! Oh and lunch. You can have a cheeseburger or a BLT every single day if you want to.

It’s no wonder that many put on what I like to call the “Freshman 15.” Just like when we went to college, we had this amazing buffet of options every day, and who am I to turn down these delectable items? I want to get my money’s worth! So I eat everything that is offered to me. But there are plenty of healthy options. You just need to practice a tiny amount of restraint with an eye toward weight management, and learn how to navigate the menu.

Choosing Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Dining Options

Easy enough. Here are my tips:

  • Avoid the sauces. Try to stay away from stuff with lots of sauce on it. Always get the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the sauce then in your food. That saves a little bit of calories.
  • Eat more salad. Make a salad your entrée twice a week, instead of the side for your main course. Practice the same restraint with the salad dressing that you do with sauces. Even if you LOVE Parmesan peppercorn dressing, dip your fork in the dressing first and then stab it into your salad.
  • Keep veggies healthy. See if you can get your vegetables steamed or roasted, without sauce or butter on them, with maybe a squeeze of lemon and salt-free seasoning.
  • Increase your fiber. Fiber helps you feel more full and has lots of healthy side-effects. Pick whole-grain items off the menu, like brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain breads. Stick with sweet potatoes and skip the baked potato if possible.
  • Enjoy healthy fish dishes. Look for the catch of the day and get it broiled or blackened, and always ask whether they prepare it with lots of butter or oil (and skip it if they do).
  • Indulge occasionally. And finally, dessert. As hard as this is, choose two days a week that you can treat yourself to dessert, and see if anyone at the table wants to share it with you. Often the serving you get is really meant for two or even three, so don’t try to scarf it all down by yourself. I also suggest saving your dessert, taking it home, and having it for breakfast! Your body does a much better job of burning calories during the day, and by the evening your metabolism has begun to slow down to prepare for sleep. (Do you know how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight? They eat a big meal, about 2,000 calories, and then go right to sleep.) And who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast? 

So enjoy the easy life; you have earned it! Just don’t get too carried away with the food options. You are in this for the long haul, and if you eat sensibly, get a little exercise, and get involved with programs and activities at your new home, you will truly make your new life the best it can be!

Create a culture of wellness at your community, click below to learn more!  

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: nutrition weight management senior wellness senior living calories fiber dining food