Our motto at A Paradise for Parents assisted living homes is that we “put the living into assisted living”. People who move into our homes in Surprise and Goodyear Arizona may be there for several years. Some of them have become well enough to move back to their homes. We really want to see people improve their health while they stay with us. So we follow some health guidelines to help them.
The guidelines come from a very popular natural health website on the internet run by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Mercola and his associates offers all sorts of tips and advice for living a long and healthy life.
We’ve had a lot of success using his health guidelines to help our residents:
- Increase their mobility
- Lose weight
- No longer need some of their medication
- Decrease their blood sugar
- Decrease their blood pressure
- Improve their happiness
We are not trying to make any medical claims about anything we are doing in our homes. We just think that helping our residents lead a healthy lifestyle will help them do better. And many times it shows.
Please don’t get the impression that we force any of these health guidelines on our residents. We call them guidelines for a reason. If our residents don’t want to follow them, we accommodate their choices. We just encourage them and support them in any way we can. And we do stray from them occasional when holidays or other special occasions roll around.
Dr. Mercola’s Health Guidelines
Many of these guidelines would seem to be common sense. Yet a lot of them are not in common practice. We thought we would show you how we have implemented them in our assisted living homes.
Eat a Healthy Diet – #1 on our list of Health Guidelines
This can be a tough one for a senior. There are all sorts of reasons why an older person can succumb to all the food temptations:
- They can have a lifetime of bad eating habits they are trying to break
- Grandkids visit for birthday parties, Christmas or Thanksgiving
- Many junk food varieties are easy to eat
- Healthy meals can take a long time to prepare
- Processed foods are addictive
- Many restaurants don’t have a lot of healthy choices
Even many assisted living homes advertise beautiful deserts. Or lots of other food that taste great but may not be the best for you.
That’s why we take a lot of pride in the meals we feed our residents.
We take the time to prepare nearly all our meals from scratch. Occasionally we will take our residents out to a restaurant. Or we may order from a restaurant. Most of the time, however, we cook at our homes in both Goodyear and Surprise Arizona.
Our meals emphasize lots of vegetables. Fruit is also plentiful – especially as a desert. We really try to avoid sugar. Besides having residents with diabetes in our homes, our general health guidelines for our cooks include little to no sugar. You wouldn’t believe how much low sugar intake can help someone.
Drink Lots of Water
We’ve found many residents in our homes don’t feel the need to drink much water. Seems like as we age, our thirst decreases.
That doesn’t mean the need to drink water doesn’t decrease. Our health guidelines push water. Without being too obnoxious about it. We know that many of our residents enjoy their coffee. That’s a morning ritual that just has to stay. The water just keeps them hydrate.
Some drinks we really discourage in our homes. We generally discourage sodas and other sugary drinks. The sugar really attacks the immune systems of our residents. That sure doesn’t help when they’re already in a weakened state. Alcohol is a no-no in our homes without at doctor’s orders. Believe it or not, some of our residents have been prescribed a beer or glass of wine in the evening. Some studies say it helps.
A Little Divergence in Health Guidelines for GMO Foods
#3 on Dr. Mercola’s health guidelines is to avoid all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and food. We look at it more like avoiding a lot of processed foods. Mostly we stick with whole
foods as much as we can.
For instance – in each of our assisted living and memory care homes in Surprise and Goodyear, we try to cook with coconut oil. We try to avoid the processed vegetable oil or Canola oil. As we said above, we try to emphasize whole foods such as fresh foods and vegetables. We’ll also stay away from foods that are heavy on the carbs, especially right before bed.
Sugary snacks are another issue. We try to avoid them. Nuts make a great snack. Or fruit. And our residents seem to enjoy them just as much once they kick their sugar habits.
Gut Flora Optimization
Medical researchers are finding more and more that our gut health is an important factor in our overall health. There have been links found between our gut and lots of other systems in our bodies. Everything from our brain to our immune system needs a health gut. That’s why we’re seeing more and more health guidelines emphasizing gut health.
Many of our residents take a daily probiotic to help with their gut. It also counteracts the effects of the antibiotics some of them have to take.
We also try to serve foods such as Sauerkraut and yoghurt, which are natural probiotics.
Consume Healthy Fats
In addition to being healthy, good fats help your body absorb nutrients better from other foods. It used to be thought that a low-fat diet was the healthiest. More recent research is showing that saturated fats are really healthy. Un-saturated fats, also known as trans fats, are not.
We use a lot of saturated fats in our meals. That includes nuts and coconut oil that we already mentioned. Our homes also cook with healthy butter, avocados, eggs and healthy meats.
The fats help to:
- Provide fuel for your brain and heart
- Act as antiviral agents
- Provide building blocks for new cells
- Increase your sense of being full
- Help prevent cancer
Eat Plenty of Raw Food
Have you noticed this in previous health guidelines above? With all the talk about food so far in this article, I think we covered this one.
Many otherwise good foods can lose their nutrient content when exposed to heat. Raw whole foods will
provide the best health bang for your buck. Dr. Mercola recommends eating about 80% of your food raw. We’re probably not up to that level. We just try to make sure our residents maintain the best nutrient levels they can. Those veggies, fruits, and nuts sure help.
Don’t get us wrong though. Some foods are meant to be cooked – like eggs, beans and meat. We make sure we provide heat to the foods that need it.
#2 on Our Health Guidelines List – Exercise Regularly
Next to eating right, we really try to emphasize exercise for our residents. We have a personal trainer who works with the residents who hire him. In addition, our caregivers and managers work with each resident for at least 15 minutes a day.
Even the bedbound residents can perform some kind of exercise. For the healthier people, we’ve installed bars in our hallways. People can use them for leg lifts or to raise themselves out of their wheelchairs. We also take people on walks in our neighborhoods. Or encourage our residents to walk on the walking tracks we have behind each home.
We’ve seen some great results. We’ve seen people move from bed to wheelchair. Or wheelchair to walker. Or walk-er to walk-ing.
The Surprise and Goodyear AZ Health Guideline
There’s a reason the area around Surprise and Goodyear is called the “Valley of the Sun”. The towns around our assisted living homes receive about 260 days of sunshine each year. Vitamin D is in abundance at our homes.
Even when they’re not exercising, we try to have our residents spend at least a little time outside each day. We try to keep it to just 10 or 15 minutes in the heat of an Arizona summer. Then we lengthen the time outdoors when we have those spectacular fall, Spring and winter days. Many nights our caregivers will provide dinner outside.
It doesn’t take much time under the sun to really charge up your Vitamin D levels. Not to mention our residents love spending time outside in activities.
Limit Toxin Exposure
So much of our environment these days contains toxins. From pollution to mold to bad things in our food. According to some studies, toxins can be a real contributor to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
That’s why we put our homes in small towns with clean air and a dry climate. Our cleaning staff don’t use harsh chemicals and our landscapers don’t use chemicals such as Roundup. The caregivers are careful to clean up any spills quickly to prevent mold formation. Of course, the dry climate helps!
Healthy eating will also limit the toxins our seniors might ingest.
One of the Toughest Health Guidelines for Seniors – Sleep
Seems like as we age, it becomes harder to sleep. Many of our residents have a tough time sleeping. Prostrate issues, Urinary tract infections, Sundowner’s syndrome and other conditions of old age contribute to lack of sleep.
We work with the personal physician of each resident to come up with a plan to help them sleep. If they need it. Focusing on the other health guidelines helps as well. Healthy eating and exercise conditions your body to sleep better at night.
Better sleep leads to better overall health!
Last but Not Least – Stress!
We really try in our assisted living homes to have as stress-free an environment as possible. Our activities such as music, bible study, exercise and outings are meant to be stress-free. There’s always a little stress when people move into our homes. But we really try hard to minimize it and let our residents just have fun.
As you can see, our health guidelines generally line up with Dr. Mercola’s. Hopefully everyone is doing at least some of these to live a long, healthy life!