Guide to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

February is well known for being American Heart Health Month, a yearly awareness campaign created to alert people of the risk factors for heart-related illnesses and encourage them to take steps in protecting their heart.

MacIntosh participates in various ways such as helping to educate adults on the disease and preventative ways to potentially reverse this troubling trend. Take control of your heart health with these helpful tips and tricks.

9 Tips for Improving and Maintaining Heart Health

  • Breakfast of champions. Don’t skip breakfast! Many people skip breakfast entirely or consume a sugary pastry or cereal, but a healthy breakfast helps us feel full longer. This lessens the chance of overeating later or reaching for quick, unhealthy comfort foods.
    Try — Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal, this is a great source of protein and cholesterol-fighting fiber.
  • Mind your diet. A healthy diet is one of your best weapons to fight heart disease. Consume a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups; a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes as well as non-tropical vegetables oils. Limit saturated fats, trans fat, sodium, red meats, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. When consuming red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available. Add in a variety of fish at least twice a week, if possible. Lastly, always watch your portion sizes!
    Try — Following Dash (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), research shows that people have fewer occurrences of heart disease when following this style plan.
  • Make sleep a priority. Adults often have bad sleep habits. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are more inclined to make bad food choices.
    Try — Averaging 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Stay active. Find ways to stay active. Discuss senior-friendly forms of exercise with your physician. They can help explore potential options that might be more enjoyable and increase motivation.
    Try — Chair Yoga, an activity that can be performed in the privacy of your own living room or take a 20 minute walk with a significant other or friend every day.
  • Limit sodium. Put down the salt shaker. It isn’t uncommon for older adults to rely on convenience foods at meal times. But fast food, frozen dinners and even canned foods can be extremely high in sodium. Sodium and salt can both contribute to high blood pressure. Learn more about sodium and the unlikely places it might be sneaking into your diet, like ketchup, cereal and deli meats.
    Try — Low-sodium spices and fresh herbs when preparing foods, these are great cooking alternatives for taste and less sodium!
  • Schedule a physical. If you haven’t had a physical in the last year, we encourage you to schedule one. Medicare will cover one wellness visit each year. This gives your physician an opportunity to check blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar to spot any potential problems.
    Try — Keeping a scheduled wellness visit every year.
  • Kick the habit. Today’s generation of seniors were often smokers growing up. If you haven’t done so already, work on trying to quitting.
    Try — Consulting with your primary care physician, they will likely have suggestions to help.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. While some experts say the Resveratrol in a glass of red wine can be good for your heart, don’t overdo it. Consuming too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
    Try — Limiting to one drink per day and staying properly hydrated.
  • Drink green tea. Some experts believe the antioxidants in green tea help keep your arteries flexible which may help to prevent plaque from building up.
    Try — Consuming one glass of green tea sweetened with honey every day.

Utilize the Nutrition Facts Label to Make Healthier Choices

Nutrition Fact Label

1. Start with the serving information.
Allows proper calculation of consumption for packages containing more than one serving.
– Size of the serving
– How Many servings are included

2. Check Total Calories.
Know how many calories you are consuming when eating a portion or the whole package. This number is typically based on the daily recommended intake of 2,000.  *Suggested calorie intake varies by age, weight, level of physical activity and other health factors. Check with your Primary Care Physician to confirm your ideal daily caloric intake.

3. Limit Certain Nutrients
Compare labels to choose options with lower:
– Added Sugars
– Sodium
– Saturated Fats
– Trans Fat

4. Get Enough of Beneficial Nutrients
Eat foods with nutrients your body needs:
– Calcium
– Choline
– Dietary Fiber
– Iron
– Magnesium
– Potassium
– Vitamins A, C, D & E

5. Understand % Daily Value
% Daily Value (DV), tells the % of each nutrient in a single serving in relation to the daily recommended amount.
–   In order to consume less of a nutrient (sodium or saturated fat), choose foods with lower % DV, 5% or less.
–  In order to consume more of a nutrient (fiber or potassium), choose foods with a higher % DV, 20% or more.

Additional Tips

Food Journal

Maintaining a daily journal of food consumption throughout the day, as well as any exercise completed may help you stay on track.

Visit the Getting Healthy section of the American Heart Association’s website. They have helpful resources ranging from nutrition to physical activity and smoking cessation.


What is Congestive Heart Failure

We sat down with a local Heart Specialist about Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) to answer some of your top questions including causes, symptoms, prevention and more. Check out the questions and answers below to learn more about CHF.

What causes Congestive Heart Failure?

CHF represents symptoms caused by injury to the heart. The injury causes the heart muscle to function abnormally, where it either becomes weakened or stiff. In either case, symptoms are similar. There are a large number of medical problems that may produce this heart injury. In the United States, the most common cause is coronary artery disease and injury to the heart muscle from a heart attack. Chronic, poorly controlled high blood pressure is another common cause. CHF may run in families and thus have a genetic component as well as association with certain types of infections (usually viruses) of the heart muscle (called myocarditis). CHF can also be caused by certain drugs, particularly those used to treat certain types of cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption may also injure the heart and cause CHF. In many cases, it is not clear what caused the problem, and in these cases, the CHF is idiopathic. The term cardiomyopathy is used to describe the disease of the heart muscle, and CHF (congestive heart failure) represents the symptoms resulting from the cardiomyopathy. A person can have cardiomyopathy without having symptoms of CHF.

What are the symptoms of CHF?

“CHF” identifies a set of symptoms that include shortness of breath with activities, or sometimes at rest, difficulty breathing while lying down (orthopnea), fluid retention such as ankle swelling or abdominal bloating, increased palpitations, chest pressure or heaviness, progressive fatigue, poor appetite, sudden awakening at night with shortness of breath (PND), palpitations, and syncope (passing out).

How do you recognize the symptoms?

The symptoms may occur suddenly or occur very gradually over months. When sudden onset occurs, the patient will often easily recognize that there is a problem and thus seek medical attention. When symptoms progress very gradually, there may be a delay in seeking medical attention. Sometimes, the symptoms may be confusing and lead to several possible diagnoses. CHF may be confused with other conditions, such as pneumonia or other types of lung disease.

How is CHF diagnosed?

CHF is usually diagnosed in a patient presenting with the typical symptoms and findings on the physical exam. The most common test utilized to identify the underlying heart problem causing CHF is the echocardiogram. There are certain blood tests that may also suggest CHF. A “BNP” test may be used to differentiate shortness of breath caused by lung disease versus heart disease. A significant elevation in BNP (which is a blood test) strongly suggests that a patient’s breathing symptoms are secondary to heart disease / CHF.

How can someone prevent Congestive Heart Failure?

Since CHF is commonly secondary to problems like poorly controlled hypertension, coronary artery disease, and obesity, several preventive measures are encouraged. These include a heart healthy diet, maintenance of optimal cholesterol levels, avoidance of obesity, treatment of high BP, to name a few. Any risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease should be managed, including tobacco usage. Regular exercise is encouraged. However, there are instances where Cardiomyopathy cannot be avoided (genetic cause, chemotherapy, valve problem) and in these situations, early recognition and institution of appropriate treatment, at an early phase of the disease, is important.

What is the outlook for people with CHF?

The outlook for this condition depends on many factors. Most important is the underlying cause of the CHF, and the degree of symptoms. Many patients with CHF are very well managed with medications. Sometimes devices are required to manage arrhythmia. In some cases (the minority of cases), the condition advances to the point where heart transplantation may be warranted. There is a very broad spectrum of treatment possibilities – and outcomes.

What are the different types or degrees of severity for CHF?

CHF is classified as stage A-D, with stage A being those at risk for CHF (i.e., they have coronary artery disease), stage B is evidence of heart muscle problems but no symptoms, stage C is symptomatic CHF, and stage D is symptoms despite optimal medical and device therapy. Patients are also classified according to NYHA class – with class I being asymptomatic and class IV symptoms at rest.

Are there any medications to avoid or diet changes to be made when dealing with CHF?

For most patients, the major medications to avoid are NSAID’s (such as ibuprofen). These medications will worsen kidney function and symptoms of CHF. A low sodium diet is almost always recommended, and sometimes, a fluid restriction is recommended. My recommendation is to discuss any new medication with the physician before taking it.


Post-Rehab Recipes You’ll Love

You’ve had surgery, you’ve successfully completed post-hospital rehab and now you’re heading home.

What are you planning on making for dinner?

Returning home means returning to your normal routine. If you’ll be cooking for yourself, or if you have someone cooking for you after rehab, give these easy and healthy recipes a try. We’ve also thrown in some healthy eating tips and menu planning resources. Dig in!

Meals and Menus For Someone Coming Home From Post-Hospital Rehab

Quick and Easy Recipes

Here’s an easy recipe for each meal of the day that you can try after you’ve returned home from inpatient rehab. First up, breakfast.

Breakfast: Skinny Omelet with Ham and Cheese

This healthy omelet recipe comes to us from AARP food expert Pam Anderson.

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons each: chopped fresh parsley and thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 slice (3/4 ounce) reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cut into small dice
  • 1 ounce (scant 1/4 cup) extra-lean ham, cut into small dice

Directions: Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over low heat while preparing ingredients. Beat egg substitute with pepper, parsley and scallions.

A couple of minutes before cooking, increase temperature under skillet to medium-high. When wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan, swirl oil around to completely coat.

Add egg mixture to the skillet and let stand for 10 to 15 seconds for bottom to set. Using a plastic or wooden spatula to push back the eggs that have set every several seconds, tilt pan so that the uncooked egg substitute runs into the empty portion of the skillet. Continue pushing back cooked eggs and tilting pan until omelet top is wet, but not runny. Turn heat to low and sprinkle on cheese and ham. Fold one-half of the egg mixture over the other; let stand a few minutes to warm through. Serve.

Lunch: Turkey Wrap

Try this light turkey wrap from the Mayo Clinic.

  • 12 ounces sliced deli turkey (low-sodium)
  • 1/4 cup avocado
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 whole-wheat tortillas (12-inch diameter)
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced tomatoes

Directions: Mash avocado with salsa, mix well and set aside. Spread avocado salsa evenly over two tortillas. Evenly distribute cabbage, carrots, tomato slices and turkey between the two tortillas. Pile the ingredients in the center, running the full length of the tortilla.

Fold closest side of tortilla up toward you. Next, fold sides over and roll up, leaving seam on the bottom. Cut each tortilla in half. Serve.

Dinner: Creamy Tomato Fettuccini

The American Heart Association shares this tasty and heart-healthy pasta recipe. Serves four.

  • 8 oz. uncooked, 100%, whole-wheat fettuccine (or spaghetti or angel-hair pasta)
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 clove fresh, minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (white or yellow, approximately 1 small)
  • 2/3 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz canned, low-sodium, diced tomatoes (undrained)

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Spray 3-quart saucepan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn translucent (crisp-tender).

Stir in remaining ingredients, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon. Heat to a boil, reduce to low-heat and simmer uncovered 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Add pasta to sauce and toss.


Related: Ask the Expert: How’s the Food in Rehab?


More Healthy Recipes to Try After Surgery

There are a lot of great resources online for quick and easy recipes that are also healthy. If you’d like some more ideas, try searching on these popular sites that feature quick and healthy meals:

Menu Planning Resources

Home cooks everywhere know that sometimes the most challenging thing is coming up with a menu. If you’re struggling to come up with menu ideas, try these sample menus, grocery lists and recipes from ChooseMyPlate, a healthy eating program from the United States Department of Agriculture.

You can also find more sample menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks here, courtesy of the National Institute on Aging.

Healthy Eating Tips for Older Adults

Older adults have different nutritional needs than younger adults. Here are some quick and easy tips for older adults to improve your diet from ChooseMyPlate:

  • To avoid too much sodium in your diet, add flavor to your food with spices and herbs instead of salt.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables by slicing them up at the beginning of the week and adding them to your meal and snack routines. You can even buy pre-sliced fruits to save time.
  • Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re avoiding any foods that will interfere with your medications. You may also want to ask about medication side effects if you’re experiencing an unusual change in your appetite.
  • Try to drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk each day. For those of you who don’t like milk or unable to drink it, yogurt, buttermilk or hard cheeses can be good alternatives.
  • Cut out sugary drinks and stick to water instead.
  • Eat plenty of vitamin B12, which you can find in foods such as fortified cereals, seafood (mussels, oysters, salmon, tuna, crab, sardines and trout are great), beef, eggs and dairy products.

More Post-Hospital Rehab Tips

Do you have more questions about post-hospital rehab? You might like our Guide to Post-Hospital Rehab and Recovery. It’ll explain the post-hospital rehab process and answer some of your pressing questions about what to expect.


Medicare: Is 20 Days All I Get?

Dear Katie:

My husband will be facing a fairly complex surgery later this month. His surgeon wants us to tour skilled nursing and rehab centers in central Ohio before the surgery.

We are a bit confused about his Medicare benefit. A relative told us Medicare only pays for 20 days in a rehab center, but my husband’s doctor told us he will likely need to stay for several months.

Will we have to pay the entire expense for all of the days he is there beyond day 20? I’m just not sure we can afford that!


Understanding the Medicare Skilled Nursing and Rehab Benefit

Dear Grace:

The Medicare Part A Skilled Nursing and Rehab benefit can definitely be confusing! We hear questions similar to yours every day.

To help put your mind at ease, here is a quick overview of what you need to know.

If your husband spends three nights in the hospital at an inpatient level of care and his physician orders a transfer to a skilled nursing and rehab center:

  • Days 1 through 20 will be covered by Medicare at 100% of the cost.

  • After day 20 and through day 100, if your husband still qualifies for care, you will be responsible for a $194.50 (as of 2022) copay for each day your husband is in rehab. Medicare will pay for the remainder of the daily costs.

  • After day 100, you will be responsible for the full amount of his rehabilitation stay.

One thing to note is that if you have secondary insurance, such as a medigap policy, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or employer/union insurance, it may cover the cost of the copay. The skilled nursing and rehab center you choose can help you make that determination.

It is also good to know that if your husband goes home before his Medicare benefit days (the 100 days allotted for rehabilitation in a skilled nursing and rehab center) have been exhausted, he can still return to the rehab center if things don’t go as planned.

If he meets the criteria for rehab and it has been 30 days or less since he was discharged, your husband can be readmitted to continue his therapy. This might give you peace of mind when it comes time for him to be discharged.

We invite you to call us or stop in if you have any more questions about this benefit. One of our team members will be happy to help!

Kind Regards,

Katie Jordan


Cranberry Park COVID-19 Prevention

During this unprecedented time, our commitment to families of patients and residents, as always, is to provide timely and accurate information. As it relates to COVID-19, effective communication is an important part of containing the virus. We continue to communicate the latest in preventative measures as well as actual cases in our center through phone calls, letters, and by updating our website.

Cranberry Park residents can enjoy open visitation with their families at our communities following visitation policies to mitigate the risks to our population. For more information regarding indoor visitation, please visit our Visitation blog.

COVID-19 Prevention

The top priority at Cranberry Park is the health and well-being of our patients, residents, and employees. Therefore, we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure our centers remain guarded against the spread of viral infections. We are in close communication with State and Federal officials to ensure we are taking appropriate actions.

We understand that we care for our country’s most vulnerable population and are committed to ensuring their health, safety, and comfort. Every member of our center’s teams is dedicated to this mission, diligently operating with our residents’ best interests at heart.

COVID-19 Vaccine + Boosters

Our centers hold regular COVID-19 vaccine clinics for our residents and staff, including recently added booster shots.

The vaccine requires one or two shots depending on which brand is administered, cannot cause COVID disease, and the side effects have been those typically seen with other vaccinations, such as a sore arm at the injection site, chills, muscle pains, headache, and a low-grade fever. All have only lasted for a brief time. For an individual to be considered fully vaccinated, one must complete the one or two-shot process and be two weeks passed their final shot.

Booster shots are available for each vaccine provider.

  • If you received the Johnson & Johnson Janssen, one-shot vaccination, a booster is suggested for those over 18 years of age, 2 months after your initial J&J/Janssen shot.
  • If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech, two-shot vaccination, it is suggested that anyone 12 years or older receive a booster shot at least 5 months after completion of your primary vaccination series.
  • If you received the Moderna, two-shot vaccination, it is suggested that anyone 18 years or older receive a booster shot at least 6 months after completion of your primary vaccination series.

We encourage you to learn more about the vaccine from our state health department or through the CDC’s website by visiting

Additional Vaccine Resources:

Staying Connected

Staying connected continues to be vitally important, which is why we have kept a variety of visitation options available. For those that may be out of state or feel more comfortable visiting remotely, we invite you to schedule a Virtual Visitation session with your loved one. Those that may not feel comfortable entering our center but want to visit in person, you are welcome to continue window visits with your friends and loved ones here at Cranberry Park.

Please contact your loved ones center to schedule your virtual visit.

Additional One-Click Resources

What You Should Know about COVID-19    Prevent Spreading COVID-19






COVID-19 Who's At Risk COVID-19 FAQ's







Must-Haves When Downsizing to Assisted Living

When you’re preparing to make the move to an assisted living community, it can be a little intimidating to contemplate the downsizing process (also known as rightsizing). Many of us have lived in our homes for decades, which makes it difficult to imagine what our life will look like somewhere else.

However, there are a lot of benefits to downsizing and if you’re making the move to an assisted living community, you’ll want to have all the right tools before you dive in to make it as hassle-free as possible.


Related: Making the Move to Assisted Living


What Is Downsizing?

Downsizing is the process of reducing the current contents of your household, often in preparation for a move to a more compact living space. It involves evaluating your possessions to decide which still bring value to your life, and which have served their purpose and are ready to be set aside.

Downsizing is often called “rightsizing” because in many cases, moving to a smaller living space is the right fit for older adults’ lifestyles. Some of the benefits of downsizing include less stress over maintenance and upkeep, more leisure time, and less clutter.

How to Downsize for a Move to Assisted Living

Of course, downsizing is not without its challenges. When you go from a large home you’ve lived in for years to a smaller space, it can be difficult to decide what you should keep and what you should dispose of or donate. The question becomes, “What will I need? What can’t I part with?”

The first step you should take when downsizing is to obtain a floor plan and measurements of your new apartment. This will allow you to create a floor plan for where your belongings will be placed in each room.

Then, it’s time to start sorting through your belongings to decide which ones will make the transition. You’ll want to determine which belongings mean the most, but also which items will fit in your new home.

One tip: don’t start with sentimental possessions like old letters or family pictures when you begin to sort through your things. That will slow down the process as you’ll naturally want to spend more time poring over those items.

The next step is deciding what to do with the things that won’t be making the trip to your new apartment. Ask your family members if there are any items they would like. Whatever is left over can either be donated, sold, or properly disposed of.

If you’re looking for ideas of where to donate items, you might like this helpful list of charities and the items they accept from AARP.

What to Bring to an Assisted Living Community

One question many people have when making the transition to assisted living is “what will I need?” This is an excellent question—it’s the best way to determine what makes the cut.

We’ve compiled a packing list to help you get a feel for what you’ll need in assisted living. In general, the must-have items you will need include:

  • Furniture for your bedroom, living area, and kitchen
  • Bedding, pillows, and comforters
  • Towels and washcloths for the bathroom
  • Kitchen appliances such as a toaster, coffee maker, and microwave
  • Televisions and remotes
  • Clocks and alarm clocks
  • Kitchen accessories including plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and cooking/baking utensils
  • Cleaning supplies such as dish soap and laundry soap
  • Lamps and nightlights
  • Wall art and family photos
  • Computer and/or tablet device
  • Games, cards, and puzzles to enjoy with family and friends
  • Radio and/or CD player
  • Favorite snacks and drinks
  • Seasonal decorations, such as wreaths for your exterior door
  • Hobby supplies
  • Books, movies, and magazines
  • Closet hangers

And don’t overlook personal items and hygiene products, such as:

  • Clothing for all seasons
  • Robe, pajamas, and slippers
  • Coats and outdoor footwear
  • Leisurewear to participate in wellness activities
  • Toiletries and personal care items

Our final suggestion is to set up a secure box for important legal and medical files. Use it to store documents and medical information like insurance cards, living wills, and a durable power of attorney.


Related: The Emotional Side of Decluttering


If you have any other questions about making the move to assisted living or are interested in learning more about one of our assisted living communities, feel free to contact us at any time.

Top 12 Tips for Beating the Blues this Winter

It’s that time of year again. The fun and festive holiday season is over. The grey days of winter have settled in. Snow and ice seem to be the primary topic of conversation among many central Ohio caregivers and seniors. If spring seems far off and you find yourself feeling a little blue, you aren’t alone. About 15% of the population experiences the winter doldrums. For about one-third of them, it is severe enough to be classified as depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder that requires medical intervention.

We have assembled a list of Blues Busters that may help caregivers and seniors shake it off.

12 Top Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

  1. Get outside. On sunny days, even when it is a little chilly, bundle up and take a quick walk. Just 10 minutes spent outside will help lift your spirits; however, be careful and wear boots with a non-skid tread.
  2. Get enough vitamin D. Talk with your primary care physician about taking a vitamin D supplement. Being deficient in this important nutrient is common in the winter. It can contribute to feeling more than a little blue.
  3. Stay connected to friends and family. With COVID, staying connected can seem difficult but there are several free virtual options to connect with friends and loved ones. Isolation and loneliness can easily lead to depression so stay connected as much as possible.
  4. Make healthy eating a priority. Poor nutrition can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Both make the winter doldrums feel even worse.
  5. Get moving! Even if it is on a stationary bike in your living room in front of the television, exercise releases endorphins that are proven to boost your mood.
  6. Limit your alcohol intake to just one or two glasses a week. While it might be tempting to consume more when you are feeling blue, the more you drink, the more your brain chemistry becomes altered. In most cases, it has a negative impact on your emotional well-being.
  7. Get the right amount of sleep. For most adults, the general recommendation is 7 -9 hours per night. Too much or too little can make you feel sluggish and weary.
  8. Consider learning how to meditate or practice yoga. Both have positive body-mind benefits. If physical limitations make yoga more difficult, give chair yoga a try. It can be safely performed from a seated position.
  9. Find ways to laugh more. It really is one of the best ways to treat the blues. You might try virtually hosting a game night for family and friends or even investing in a few comedy DVDs you can enjoy when you are feeling down.
  10. Turn on all the lights in the main rooms in your house. Having a brighter environment can help lift your spirits and brighten your mood.
  11. Invest in a light therapy box for your home. It is a small lamp that emits blue light believed to help reduce the symptoms of the winter blues. They are fairly inexpensive with prices on most ranging from $40 to $150.
  12. Try to relax and enjoy the season. Take photographs after snow storms and learn to appreciate the beauty of winter.

Finally, it may make you feel better to know spring is on the horizon. You can bookmark or download an app that counts the number of days until spring!


Fall Prevention for Seniors This Winter

Falls among Ohio seniors continues to be the leading cause of disability in older adults, and one of the top ten reasons seniors end up in the emergency department of a local hospital. Here are a few fall prevention tips to help prevent your senior loved ones from falling this winter.

Preventing Falls in Columbus Area Seniors

  • First things first, ensure they have proper footwear – boots and shoes with good tread so they can get traction on snowy sidewalks and drives.
  • Enlist the help of a snow removal company to keep their sidewalks and driveway cleared if you aren’t able to. It’s dangerous for older adults to try to manage this task on their own.
  • Consider investing in a treadmill for them to use on days when the weather is just too bad. Walking is a great way to age successfully, but central Ohio winters often make doing so outdoors more challenging.
  • Take time to review their medication list for side effects that might cause dizziness. It is an often overlooked cause of falls among seniors.
  • Have a plan in place for helping to get their groceries, as well as for getting any trash taken out before the worst of the snow flies. Doing so will allow them to stay safe inside their home when the winter winds blow.

It may also be helpful to speak with their primary care physician about ordering a home safety assessment and balance test. A physical therapist can conduct both of these to identify any potential problems.


Do My Senior Parents Need Immediate Help?

Dear Tess,

My sister, who lives in the Columbus area, usually helps out Mom and Dad, because my husband and I live out of state. Although we try to visit during holidays, my sister is the one who takes care of my parents on a regular basis.

When we visited at Thanksgiving, I was appalled by my parents’ condition. Both Mom and Dad have lost weight. Mom is really unsteady on her feet, and although she insisted on trying to help prepare the meal, we had to watch to make sure she didn’t fall. Dad refused to wear his dentures, saying they hurt his mouth, and when I tried to persuade him, he smacked my hand away.

Dad was also complaining because my sister won’t let him drive anymore. He yelled at the kids for playing and frightened them. He just doesn’t seem like the calm, even-tempered father I remember.

When I tried to talk to my sister, she told me she’s suggested every kind of help possible—home health, senior daycare, even a nursing home. Dad has absolutely refused to consider anything.

I’m not an expert so I don’t know how bad their condition is. How can I find out what to do or where they should go?



Do Your Parents Need Immediate Help?

Dear Gabrielle,

It’s not uncommon for adult children who don’t live nearby to be shocked at a parent’s decline. Oftentimes, family members who see them frequently don’t even notice the signs. Your sister is certainly doing her part by noticing there’s a problem and attempting solutions.

Some of the signs a parent may need help are covered in our blog here. Your concern is whether they need help immediately and, if so, how to get it.

Signs Your Parents Need Help Immediately

Weight loss and a change in temperament are both warning signs, but your parents are in no imminent danger from those. However, I am concerned by your mother’s unsteadiness. She could easily fall. Falls are the leading cause of injuries—fatal and nonfatal—among seniors.

  • Other signs that your parents need help immediately include:
  • Burn marks on cooking ware that may indicate your mother is forgetting to turn off the stove.
  • Unsafe or cluttered pathways in the home that may lead to a fall.
  • Failure to take life-saving medication, such as cardiac or diabetes medicine.
  • Skin breakdown, which may cause infection.
  • Confusion when performing daily tasks.
  • Difficulty standing up.
  • Use of second-floor bedroom if a parent is unsteady on their feet.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Rotted food in the refrigerator or cabinets.


Care Options

You and your sister are best suited to make an assessment of their home environment, but you should also take your parents to their doctor and express your concerns as soon as possible. Any one of the above problems can lead to life-changing consequences if you delay. If you determine your parents’ circumstances must change, you have three general options:

  1. Hire a home health aide to help out and commit more time to their care.

  2. Move them in with you or your sister or have your sister move in with them.

  3. Find a nearby assisted living or skilled nursing center to keep your parents safe and happy.

If you decide your parents need to move, the general rule is that if an adult needs help with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs), such as walking, eating, dressing/grooming, toileting, bathing and transferring/standing up, they would do best in a skilled nursing center. Otherwise, they may enjoy assisted living.

Please don’t consider either placement permanent. At all our MacIntosh Company care centers, our goal is to help your parents become as independent as possible while staying safe. We’re very proud of residents who needed our skilled nursing care initially or temporarily and then were able to return to assisted living or independent living!

Their doctor can help you with an assessment, information, and recommendations. Please feel free to give me a call at Whetstone at (614) 457-1100 or contact one of our other Central Ohio centers online if we can help. While no one can perform an assessment over the phone, we can tell you how other Columbus-area residents have handled similar situations.

You may also want to search our blogs to find additional information to help.

Caregiver Help

I’d like to point out several resources for caregivers. They are:

Please keep in touch and contact any of our care centers if you have questions.


Tessa Tweedlie, RN
Director of Nursing
Whetstone Care Center