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Read our tips on how to help your parents or senior loved ones stay happy and healthy by using these assisted living wellness programs.

Assisted Living Wellness Programs Caregivers and seniors: are you ready to get fit?

Appropriate exercise, nutrition, and preventative health go a long way toward keeping our loved ones and us illness and injury-free — whether they live in an assisted living community or not.

In assisted living communities, nutrition and fitness usually fall under the umbrella of wellness programs that target seniors’ mental and physical health — and many do a great job of keeping their residents healthy and fit.

The Assisted Living Federation of America recently praised The Terraces of Phoenix in Phoenix, which has high participation in its wellness programs — and correspondingly low rates of falls and hospitalizations. Their assisted living wellness programs include group fitness classes, personal training, and independent gym and pool use, to improve activities of daily living (ADL’s), balance and strength.

Many senior communities offer integrated fitness, health, and nutrition services in their wellness programs, such as The Auberge at Highland Park, in Highland Park, Illinois, which includes clinical services, diabetic services, nutrition, and fall prevention as part of its care program. Their health maintenance services are overseen by a trained RN and meals are planned with proper senior nutrition in mind: lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as plenty of opportunities for hydration. As a result, the state, “we have very few blood pressure/blood sugar issues, urinary tract infections (UTI’s) and little weight loss.”Senior Health and Fitness: A Checklist for CaregiversAssisted living communities aren’t the only ones looking out for the health of older Americans — in fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 80% of care is provided by unpaid caregivers, usually family members. It’s a challenging task, made even more complicated by the fact that seniors have distinct nutritional needs and experience a host of physiological changes that affect their overall health and fitness.

Family caregivers should be aware of these five senior health and fitness goals to keep their loved ones happy and healthy:
  1. Get informed about the benefits of exercise for seniors: National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a wealth of resources for seniors on how and why to stay active. Keep a list of medications and vitamins your loved one is taking — a physician can say whether you need to be careful of any food-drug interactions.
  2. Learn about dietary guidelines for older adults, such as the USDA food patterns or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services DASH eating plan.
  3. Stay alert to any changes to your loved one’s emotional, mental, or physical health so you can address problems as soon as possible.
  4. Stay apprised of your loved one’s health status, including any mental or physical health conditions that may affect their diet or fitness level.
  5. Of course, for a more complete run-down on the basics of senior health and fitness for family caregivers, consult a health care professional.

How do you help promote senior health and fitness in your family? What are your or your senior loved ones’ favorite forms of exercise? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.