Latest Blog Post

Read the latest article written by EPPIA members, published in the Eden Prairie News.

Avoid Falls and Stay Active!

One of the biggest fears seniors have is losing their independence. This was recently confirmed by Eden Prairie seniors who took a city survey which asked seniors about services, activities, and attitudes. As we age, we cannot control everything in our lives that might affect our independence such as certain health problems or just getting old enough where we need a little help to manage our daily lives.

But we can ensure that we stay healthy and independent as long as possible by having good health habits, staying socially, mentally and physically active and avoiding falls. For an older person, a fall can easily result in a fractured hip or pelvis, and that can be an instant life changer that negatively impacts independence. We often think of falls as a risk during winter, which they are, but falls can happen in your home or outside on a summer day. There are many steps a person can take to reduce their risk of falling both at home and when out and about. Here are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of falling.

  • Eliminate scatter rugs.
  • Remove clutter and objects you could trip on.
  • Watch where you are walking: uneven or wet pavement can be a hazard.
  • If you spill, wipe it up promptly so you don’t slip.
  • Have a well-lit home; replace light bulbs when burned out.
  • Use a bench or chair in the shower.
  • Have grab bars in your bathroom.
  • Make sure you have sturdy railings indoors and outdoors.
  • When sitting, get up slowly and get your balance before walking.
  • Check with your doctor if you feel dizzy; some medications cause this.
  • Exercise regularly to stay strong and flexible.
  • Wear good shoes: avoid flip flops, backless slippers, or shoes that are too big or small.
  • If you need a cane or walker for balance – use it!

Taking a few simple precautions can help you stay healthy, active, and independent. If you would like to learn more about Eden Prairie seniors’ responses to the City’s survey, go to www. edenprairie.org, click on “Parks and Recreation” then “Senior Center” and you will see a news item and link to the “Baby Boomer Survey Results.”

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Holly Hansen, Senior Partner at www.BrilliantMovesMN.com
Sue Bohnsack, Recreation Supervisor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rhonda Kalal, CAREGiver Director at www.homeinstead.com

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Care Options for Seniors

“When is it time to make a change?” This is different for each individual. Consider the medical, social, and financial implications of staying in place, engaging in-home services, or moving to a senior community. Determine in advance what your wants and health changes may be factors in making a decision to move or bring in services.

Choosing the best care for yourself or an aging parent can be complex and emotional. Before making decisions, ask questions and gather facts! Make a list of your current needs, future desires, and how much you are able or willing to pay. Research available resources/options and list the pros and cons when looking at services, care providers, and senior communities.

To help you get started, get a free planning worksheet at the Eden Prairie Senior Center. Other resources include the EPPIA website, www.edenprairieaging.org, and USA Today’s best seller Your Step-by-Step Guide: Stages of Senior Care by Paul and Lori Hogan, founders of Home Instead Senior Care. In assisting a loved one, it is important to listen to them and address their concerns and to include them in the process. If it becomes too difficult or overwhelming; this may be the time to have a professional step in to help. A short description of care options is listed below.

  • In-Home Care offers varying levels of care in your home, whether you live independently or in a senior community. Care is personalized and may include light housekeeping, meal preparation, personal care, medication management, etc.
  • Independent Living offers seniors the most independence when leaving home. These are large communities with apartments, kitchens, activities, and optional meal plans. Amenities may include beauty salons, exercise equipment, pools, theaters, libraries, billiards, chapels, and common areas for socializing. Many facilities also provide a range of personal care services as one’s needs change, including on-site doctor and medical visits and personal assistance.
  • Assisted Living provides 24 hour care. Meals, housekeeping and laundry are generally included. Assistance with ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) such as bathing, dressing, and medication management is also available. Seniors still enjoy independence with private apartments and bathrooms. These communities range in size, and may be integrated with independent living.
  • Long Term Care (LTC) facilities offer skilled nursing care. These facilities provide care for people with serious and complex medical conditions and they often accept people who cannot afford to pay privately and need financial assistance. These facilities offer various levels of care.
  • Memory Care serves individuals with various forms of dementia. This care is provided in specialized, secure units in many residential communities, and LTC facilities. Meals, housekeeping, assistance with ADLs, and activities are provided. Personal care services are offered on an a la carte basis or included in the monthly fee.
  • Residential Care Homes provide services in a smaller home-like environment with higher staffing ratios than assisted living, home cooked meals, and more personalized care. Residents may have a private or shared bedroom, and the rest of the home is commonly used. Activities, in-home beauty and medical services are generally available. Some homes have 24 hour staff and provide skilled nursing, dementia care, and end-of-life care.

When considering which of the above options is most appropriate for you, it is important that you know your needs, consider possible future needs, and visit a variety of facilities. In addition to the physical attributes, it is also important to consider such things as staff knowledge, level of staffing, activities, and last but not least, food!

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Jonathan Rosenberg, Owner of Twin Cities Care www.twincitiescare.com
Rhonda Kalal, CAREGiver Director at www.homeinstead.com

Holly Hansen, Senior Partner at www.BrilliantMovesMN.com

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

A New View of Dementia

How do you feel about Alzheimer’s and dementia? Do you believe that all people with dementia are the same? Are you embarrassed by a family member or friend who has dementia? Do you make jokes about people who have dementia or treat them as if they have no feelings or intelligence? Our society is facing an “Alzheimer’s tsunami” as our population ages and lives longer. This is the elephant in the room that we need to acknowledge because it is not going away.

Although much medical progress has been made in the understanding and treatment of various forms of dementia over the last few decades, many people remain uninformed or misinformed about these diseases. Dementia, the broad term covering many brain diseases, is still portrayed in a derogatory manner in films and on TV, often to get a laugh. Those who are more informed and enlightened realize that people who suffer from these brain diseases are people who deserve to be treated with dignity. They have feelings and opinions, and are often highly intelligent, People with dementia include former professors, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and even a U.S. President.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any condition that results in memory loss does not mean the end of a meaningful life and happiness. There are programs and services that focus on people’s strengths instead of their losses and creating healthy, happy moments and safe environments where our loved ones can flourish. In these environments/communities, people are active participants in life. Instead of sitting on the sidelines they bake cookies, discuss current events and engage in creative projects, worship services, singing and more. In short, these are not the unhappy and scary people sometimes portrayed in movies and on television. They are people like you and me except they are experiencing changes or gaps in their abilities and need some assistance in closing those gaps. We need to start seeing them differently. We need to learn how to approach them on their terms, not ours. We need to learn to be in the moment with them. We need to understand that people with dementia have feelings and should be treated with dignity and respect. They are not objects. They are people. They belong.

We can no longer afford to hold onto false and outdated notions about dementia. As a society we need to talk about Alzheimer’s and related conditions to effectively face this growing challenge. We need to advocate for our loved ones when they cannot stand up for themselves. Although it can be difficult and painful for families and friends to “lose” a loved one to dementia, we need to understand that there is a new person that we need to get acquainted with. That person isn’t the same as the old one, but they still have feelings, opinions, and memories, and in the right environment they are engaged in activities that reflect their passions and personalities. In the right environment they are respected and celebrated and their lives can be happy, filled with love, laughter, joy and meaning.

There are many resources for learning more about dementia such as The Alzheimer’s Foundation (www.alzfdn.org) which provides information on the disease, care giving, support groups and more. Lovely, Still, a film produced by Nicholas Fackler that stars Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, is an inspiring story of a husband and wife’s journey through dementia that will touch your heart.

Additional ideas and resources for family caregivers can be found at www.caregiverstress.com. For a list of community resources for those experiencing or caring for someone with memory loss, visit the Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging (EPPIA) website: www.edenprairieaging.org.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Theresa Klein, Cognitive Clinical Specialist at www.emeraldcrest.com
Holly Hansen, Senior Partner at www.BrilliantMovesMN.com
Rhonda Kalal, CAREGiver Director at www.homeinstead.com

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Nutritional Management For Seniors

Tip for Seniors Looking to Lose Weight and Eat Healthier: Get a Pro and a Plan

What changes would you like to make to the way you eat? Are you looking to lose weight or bring down your blood pressure? Do you want to see how you can decrease your risk of diabetes? Do you want to eat more fresh vegetables and whole grains, but don’t know how to buy and prepare them?

A story about a senior making some big changes in the way he eats and lives helps illustrate that no one is too old to learn new tricks.

Meet Chester, a 70-year old bachelor. Over the past 10 years since his retirement from construction, he’s reached a weight of 315 pounds—the result of a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating choices. Arthritis in his hip made exercise increasingly painful and then impossible. The pounds piled on. Last year Chester had his hip replaced, but by that point his weight was really the obstacle to exercise. He continued eating a diet high in red meat and processed convenience foods because it was easy and it was habit. Living alone, there was no one encouraging him or showing him how to improve his poor eating patterns.

Finally, at the urging of his daughter, Chester agreed to meet with a nutritionist. She came to his home, assessed his diet, and developed a plan that was custom-fit to his caloric needs. She’s on hand to answer questions, provide encouragement, and make changes along the way.

Chester has now lost over twenty-five pounds and hopes to keep going. “I never thought losing weight would be this easy. I get plenty of food and I like it. I don’t even miss the old garbage I was eating. I mean, I’m not saying I’m never going to eat pizza again, but maybe just not the whole pizza.”

Get help from a pro. What made the difference? Chester said that it really helped to have the help of others. He realized how little he knew about good nutrition. He’d gotten used to living on whatever was easy and convenient—thinking little about what was on the label. He also said that having to pay for a few sessions with the nutritionist helped keep him accountable—he wants to get his money’s worth.

There are a couple occupations in which people design specific diets suited to the needs of individuals. Working with a nutritionist or dietitian who is experienced with senior diet planning can help you determine a proper weight and a healthy level of calories. He or she can also help tailor your diet to individual health conditions, allergies, medications, and physical limitations. The difference between a dietitian & a nutritionist is that nutritionist often has a master's degree in nutrition. A dietician has at least a four-year Bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics (or graduate degree), has completed an internship and has passed a national registration exam from the American Dietetic Association. To find a Registered Dietitian, go to http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/. Though some may worry about the cost of hiring a professional, a few sessions that can get you going in the right direction are far cheaper than the diseases that can result from poor diet. And as health insurance companies realize the severe impact of obesity-related illness on the cost of health care, many have agreed to reimburse nutritional counseling with a dietician or nutritionist.

Get a plan. A personalized food plan takes the guesswork out of trying to determine what your body needs and what will be healthy for you. A food plan that is structured around regular meal times and that incorporates fairly exact portions for each meal helps keep you on track. For example, Chester’s eating plan tells him how many servings of protein, starch, vegetable, fat and fruit he is allotted at each meal. He then plugs in the foods that comprise the meal. A consistent food schedule helps to keep the metabolism active and sparks a normal appetite.

Said Nancy Rouch, owner of Healthy Solutions MN and a nutritionist specializing in senior nutrition, “Many seniors are actually malnourished. Lack of appetite, energy, and interest in cooking combined with decreased mobility and access to food, can make it especially hard for seniors to get the nutrients that their bodies need.” Many nutritionists that work with seniors find it especially beneficial to go directly into the home rather than to meet at a remote office. This way they can observe lifestyle practices that may contribute to poor eating habits. They can also educate the client right in the kitchen where they will be preparing the meals.

Start small. The first suggestion that Chester’s nutritionist made was, “Eat breakfast!” Nothing else needed to change immediately—she just wanted him to incorporate this one new habit. Don’t try to overhaul your life in one sweep—small changes that become grooved for life are of far greater benefit than an impractical laundry list of resolutions that don’t stick.

Food is about more than just taking in vitamins and minerals—eating is about remembering the past, enjoying the present, and expressing love. Healthful eating shouldn’t take that away, but rather insure the good health that will help seniors to live longer and more vibrantly—making more happy memories as a result!

Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging is a non-profit organization based in Eden Prairie, a town of 50,000 in the southwestern Twin Cities. Our diverse member organizations are all committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. Our purpose is to provide networking opportunities for individuals who provide services to elderly persons in Eden Prairie by meeting bimonthly for information exchange and problem solving in our field. For more information on EPPIA and a list of resources regarding activities in Eden Prairie, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Submitted by EPPIA Members:
Jacki Christopher, Promise Care Inc., www.promisecareinc.com/
Lisa Schmidtke, Able Deluxe, www.AbleDeluxe.com
Barb Howe, Barb Writes, www.barbwrites.com
Joanne Bartel, Prairie Adult Care, www.prairieadultcare.com

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