Active Aging Redefines Health and Wellness

What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.

But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.

Click above to learn more about active aging.

Parkinson’s Disease and Nutrition

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
  • Swallowing dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)

Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of the disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.

When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?

  • Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
  • Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Foods to Avoid To Keep Inflammation in Check

Inflammation works behind the scenes as the underlying cause of many health issues, including brain health. But eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — can help you fight inflammation and its many negative side effects.

Inflammation: an overreaction in the body’s immune system.

The link between inflammation and chronic illness is well-established. In addition to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer, inflammation has also been associated with cognitive brain issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ironically, inflammation is a self-defense mechanism within the body that attempts to protect you from harm and promote healing. But some environmental stimuli that the body receives can be interpreted as hostile, causing an immune response overreaction that does more harm than good. The food you eat is such a stimulus and it can sometimes act as a tripwire for an inflammatory response that can start in the gut…and perhaps end up in the brain.

Some foods are more inflammation-prone than others.

A properly managed healthy diet (such as the menu items found in the MemoryMeals® brain health program offered at leading senior living communities) uses ingredients less prone to promote inflammation. When you “cheat” on healthy eating — whether by snacking, indulging in fast food, relying on easy-to-prepare processed meals or just splurging a little too often — you open yourself up to the dangers of the wrong foods causing inflammatory problems.

Some foods are more inflammation-prone than others. Here’s a handy list of some of the foods it’s wise to avoid or use in moderation to help keep inflammation under control.


Sugar is hard to avoid because it is in so many different foods in the form of either table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup (fructose). Obviously limiting consumption of sugary treats like candy and pastries is good not only for inflammation, but for your waistline. But don’t forget the hidden “sugar bombs” in things like soft drinks, juice and sweet tea. Switch to diet soda, or better still unsweetened tea, coffee or water. Also check food labels for sugar content and choose foods with less added sugar. Consider using a table sugar substitute or try to use your usual amount of the real thing. After a while, you’ll find you don’t even miss it.

Vegetable oils and dressings

Vegetable and seed oils, such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils, are in many foods and store-bought salad dressings. They’re also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which some researchers believe contribute to inflammation. You don’t have to avoid these oils completely, but it’s helpful to balance their consumption with anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils, such as those found in olive oil and foods like fatty fish and walnuts. Making your own salad dressings using olive oil or canola oil can also help.

Processed meats

Sausage, bacon and ham are truly delicious. Unfortunately they are also prime suspects in causing inflammatory changes that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer and colon cancer. Cells in the colon seem especially susceptible to the compounds formed when processed meats are cooked at high temperatures. Also, processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meats are loaded with sodium and chemical preservatives. So next time you’re hungry, add vegetables to that omelet instead of bacon or ham. Try a chicken or turkey sandwich instead of deli meat. And skip those cold cuts completely.

Excessive alcohol

More than one standard drink a day for women, and two for men, can lead to severe problems with inflammation…not to mention the other issues excessive alcohol can lead to. For reference, a standard drink is considered a single serving of beer or wine or a shot of distilled spirits. The good news: cocktail hour can be a good thing. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have health benefits, and red wine in particular, due to the antioxidant resveratrol found in red grape skins, has promising anti-inflammatory potential.

So raise a glass to the benefits of alcohol. But always drink responsibly — and enjoy the other benefits of a diet designed to reduce your risk of inflammation.


Giving Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing!  A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?

Click above to learn more.

Peg’s Perspective: Human Connection and Mirror Neurons

Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world?   Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear.  But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?

Click above to learn more!

Peg’s Perspective: Taking Care of Your Telomeres

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Peg’s Perspective:

As we age we all think about many health tips we have learned along the way.  But, emerging research suggests that taking care of our telomeres should be our top priority! Click above to learn why!

Staying Hydrated When It’s Hot!

It’s summer, we are naturally spending more time outside. Enjoying our time playing with grandkids, gardening, and long neighborhood walks are many of the highlights of summertime. Make sure you stay hydrated while you are living life well this summer!
The Wesley Communities Dietician, Lisa Kaylor Wolfe, shares her suggestions on staying hydrated in the heat of summer.

A Healthy Twist to Your Classic Chili

Whether it’s game day and you’re hosting family, or you’re cuddled up on the couch for movie night, chili is always a staple! It’s something about that warm bowl that makes gatherings even more enjoyable. Next time you’re preparing your favorite comfort food, try this healthy Turkey Chili recipe. Not to mention, it can be recreated in less that 20 minutes. So, whether you are running errands before company comes over, or you have a busy evening of soccer games, the recipe by Wesley Ridge Chef, Glen Hall-Jones, won’t disappoint!


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound 4 ounces ground skinless turkey breast
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 3/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1 6-ounce can no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 medium green onions, green part only, sliced


  1. Lightly spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Add the oil and heat over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion for 3 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the turkey. Cook for 5 minutes, or until browned, stirring frequently to turn and break up the turkey.
  3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, pepper, and cumin. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the green onions.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until heated through, stirring frequently. Just before serving, sprinkle with the green onions.

Serves 6; 1 1/3 cups per serving

We love chili in the spring and winter, what is your favorite season for this ultimate comfort food?


Liver Disease and Nutrition

The liver serves many purposes in the body, including filtering harmful substances from the blood, producing substances that assist with food digestion, and helping to change food into energy. There are many kinds of liver diseases, such as:

  • Cirrhosis: Scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Build-up of fat in liver cells
  • Bile Duct Disease: Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Bile duct disease keeps bile from flowing into the small intestine where it is utilized.
  • Hepatitis (A), (B) and (C): Disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, or C virus
  • Hemochromatosis: Buildup of iron in the liver (inherited disease)
  • Others can be the result of drugs, poisons, or drinking too much alcohol

Some of the effects of liver disease include weight changes, loss of muscle mass, ascites and/or edema (fluid retention), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine and/or light-colored stools, fatigue or loss of stamina, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, altered taste perception, and/or signs/symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, alterations in calorie, protein, fluid, fat, vitamins or minerals may be recommended. For most liver diseases, a healthy diet will make it easier for the liver to function and may help repair some liver damage.

In general, it is important to:

  • Limit high sodium foods
  • Avoid foods that may cause foodborne illness such as:
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
    • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat enough food to obtain adequate calories, vitamins, and minerals.

How can these changes be made?

  • It may be easier to eat several small meals throughout the day (4-6) as opposed to a few large ones.
  • Look for no-sodium or low-sodium versions of foods you like to eat, such as crackers, cheese, canned vegetables, or soups.
  • Avoid overly processed foods, as these tend to be higher in sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar, oils, juice, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Between meals, enjoy healthy snacks, such as:
    • Fruits and vegetables with dip, whole milk, yogurt, cereal, bagels, roasted nuts, and peanut butter.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.