Benefits of Journaling for Seniors

Since the 1970’s, researchers have been studying the effects of journaling, finding that it is vastly beneficial for senior adults. Here are the 6 main reasons to keep a daily journal.

Why You Should Journal

1. Record Your Life Experiences + Preserves Memories
Revisiting entries is a great way to keep information for memoirs or family histories. While your journal can stay private, you can use information from it to pass along about your life to future generations.

2. Keep Your Mind Active + Maintain Brain Function
Several studies between the 1990s and 2000s showed that journaling helps older adults keep their mind active and their communication skills sharp. It may also aid in slowing down memory loss as well as compensate for memory loss by allowing you to document and revisit past decisions and actions.

3. Manage Stress
Journaling can help manage stress by prioritizing fears and tracking anxieties. Writing down your thoughts can help clear your head. Positive journaling – where you focus on gratitude and positive self-task – is a great guide through times of anxiety and grief.

4. Assist with Rehabilitation
People who are undergoing medical treatment or recovering from an illness can use a journal to help them share their feelings and experiences with nurses or caregivers, which can help with rehabilitation and therapy. Expressing yourself in a journal can also help you focus on areas you need to work on in your recovery or what’s going well.

5. Fight Depression
Regular practice has been shown to help with symptoms of depression as well as help older adults come to terms with aging and lifestyle changes, in turn helping people enjoy the present.

6. Better Sleep
In 2018, a study by Baylor University and Emory University, found that journaling before bed decreases distractions, overthinking and worry, which allowed participants to fall asleep faster.

Keeping a journal benefits seniors by allowing them to further identify and refine their interests and talents. We encourage continued growth through life enrichment, and keeping a daily journal can help you expand your horizons as well as organize thoughts and relax the mind.


Day-to-day thoughts and activities

  • Write about current local and national news events and your opinions about them.
  • Note when you felt happiest throughout the day.
  • Reflect meaningfully on a personal issue that’s important to you.
  • Keep track of any fun or unusual things you do every day.

Movies and music

  • Write down the names of movies you watch, provide a brief synopsis of what happened in the movie, and talk about how you felt about each one.
  • Jot down the lyrics to your new favorite songs or the classics that you love.

Memories and Wisdom

  • Think about what made you happy years ago and what makes you happy now. If you notice differences, write about how and why things have changed.
  • Create your own motivational quotes – a “wise words from me” type of list.
  • Write down actual memories you have from your childhood or young adulthood in order to keep them fresh in your mind.

Just for fun

  • List the things that make you laugh.
  • Write down recurring dreams.
  • List the things you would love to do sometime in your life, and follow up in your journal when you do them.
  • Pick something and make note of it every day, such as the names of flowers you may have come across and where you found them.

Food or fitness journal

  • Make note of what you’ve eaten, also helps be mindful about what you eat.
  • Keep track of your workouts, help stay committed to an active lifestyle.

Gratitude journal

  • Before going to sleep, make a list of everything you were thankful for that day, week or month.

Remember that journaling doesn’t have to be paper based. Technology like blogs, Word and other word processing applications as well as specialized apps help you keep up the habit of writing daily and let you incorporate photos and other graphics into your journal. If you’re interested in going high tech, check out some of the most popular journaling applications like:

How to Make New Friends in Assisted Living

When you make the move to an assisted living community, the thought of meeting new people can be a little intimidating. As we grow older, it’s natural to hesitate when it comes to making new friends, especially if you already have a supportive family and friend group.

Don’t let that hesitation stop you from enjoying all the new people around you and making new friends. As you settle into your new home, try some of these tips for staying social in an assisted living community.

How to Make Friends as an Older Adult

Making friends as an older adult is not without its challenges. After all, it’s not as easy as it was back in kindergarten when you could bond over recess or your favorite color.

In fact, Psychology Today makes the point that no longer having school, college or a job in your life can make it even more difficult to form new relationships.

“Once you’re out of those structured environments, it’s hard to make new friends. … as you reach your later years, near retirement, or retire, making new friends can feel impossible. It’s not,” writes Andrea Brandt, Ph.D.

Brandt advises that adults seeking new friends should make an effort to meet new people and, most importantly, keep an open mind when they do.

“Having only friends who think exactly like you—or who come from the same background—limits your learning opportunities,” she says. “You may surprise yourself and discover that someone you initially rejected as friend-material, thinking you had nothing in common, becomes a close friend if you give them a chance.”


Related: Staying Social as You Age: 5 Tips for Seniors in Central Ohio


Making Friends Is a Breeze at Optalis Communities

At Optalis, we know emotional wellness is just as important as physical wellness. If you’re making the move to assisted living at an Optalis Community, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to socialize, meet new people and develop lasting friendships.

At our Canal Winchester, Mill Run, New Albany, Pickaway and Whetstone communities, the following features can help you stay social:

  • Well-appointed dining rooms and restaurant-style meals to help you share laughs and stories with your fellow residents
  • A beauty salon and barber shop where you can get your haircut and catch up with friends.
  • Beautiful outdoor spaces that allow for a relaxing walk or talk with friends.

You can also take part in a wide variety of activities, such as:

  • Creative arts
  • Exercise programs
  • Cooking programs
  • Intergenerational programs
  • Cultural programs
  • Clubs and special events

Of course, none of those activities are mandatory. You can participate in as many or as few activities as you wish—it’s entirely up to your preferences.

If you’re curious about what specific activities are offered, you can visit each community’s activity page to see a calendar of events. That will make it easy for you to get a feel for what your life will be like at an Optalis senior living community.

Mill Run Activities | New Albany Activities | Pickaway Activities | Whetstone Activities

Staying Social Outside the Assisted Living Community

Just because you move into an Optalis senior living community doesn’t mean that you’re limited to meeting new people within the walls of the building. The Columbus and Central Ohio areas offer a wealth of activities and destinations that are perfect for seniors looking to make new friends.

At Optalis, we offer transportation services as well as scheduled outings, making it easy for residents to enjoy everything Columbus and the surrounding areas have to offer.

One of the concerns seniors often have about moving to a senior living community is that they’ll lose touch with old friends. However, you shouldn’t worry—it’s just as easy to maintain friendships in a senior living community as it is at home.

Guests are free to visit you, either in your apartment, in our comfortable public spaces or for one of our activities. You can invite them over just like you always have for meals, an afternoon visit, a game of cards or whatever else it is that you enjoy doing with them.

Why Is It Important for Seniors to Be Social?

Friends aren’t just for fun—they’re also for your health. Staying social can help keep you healthy and prevent feelings of isolation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, friends can help improve your health and wellness by:

  • Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boosting your happiness and reducing your stress
  • Improving your self-confidence and self-worth

In a recent study on relationships and aging, William Chopik of Michigan State University found that friends can be just as important as family.

“The really surprising thing was that, in a lot of ways, relationships with friends had a similar effect as those with family—and in others, they surpassed them,” Chopik said in an interview with Time.

Chopik went on to say that “The general point is that the more support, the more positive interactions, the better. … The important thing is having people you can rely on, for the good times as well as the bad.”

Stay Healthy, Stay Social at Optalis

Learn more about how life at an Optalis Community can help you stay social, healthy and happy by reading our blog, exploring our website or contacting us.


Skin Care Tips: Preparing for the Summer Sun

Dear Latonya:

I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors all year round. I think it has finally caught up with me. The damage to my skin is becoming more and more obvious. From brown spots to dry skin, I feel like sun damage is making me look older.

Late night television seems to be full of infomercials promoting products that claim to be able to reverse the signs of aging. Is that even possible?

What can I do to treat my skin and protect it from further damage?

Diana in Columbus, Ohio

Dear Diana:

What a great question! If you’ve watched the evening news lately you probably already know that skin cancer is the leading form of cancer in this country.

The Statistics on Skin Cancer

One in five people will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. Between 1982 and 2011, the rate of Melanoma doubled. This is an especially alarming statistic because 75% of all skin cancer deaths are from Melanoma.

So in addition to the cosmetic concerns you expressed, there is also the potential for serious health risk from the sun.

The good news is skin cancer is largely preventable. It starts with learning more about sun protection.

Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

Protecting your skin begins with making a commitment to adopting a sun-safe lifestyle. This includes:

  1. Wear Sunscreen All Year: Apply sunscreen any time you will be outdoors or riding in your car. Skin cancer experts recommenda sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Don’t ease up on wearing sunscreen during winter months. The sun’s rays can be just as damaging when the weather is cold and the reflection off of the snow is high.
  2. Dress for Protection: A hat that shields your face from the sun, a loose-fitting, long-sleeved blouse and sunglasses are all good sun gear basics.
  3. Sunscreen Mistakes: A common mistake people make when applying sunscreen is not to apply it in areas they can’t see, like the back of the neck or ears. Another one is not applying enough sunscreen. The rule of thumb is to apply a shot glass amount of sunscreen every 4-6 hours. If you are working up a sweat in the heat or swimming, apply it even more frequently.
  4. Stay Hydrated: While most of us know that staying hydrated can help prevent sun stroke, did you also know that it’s good for your skin? Staying hydrated can also keep your skin from looking and feeling dry.
  5. Exfoliate Skin: Making sure you exfoliate your skin can get the dead skin cells off your body. That will help give your skin a more youthful appearance.
  6. Moisturize Often: Another good way to protect your skin and maybe even reverse the signs of sun damage is to moisturize your skin often. Chlorine from the pool or salt water at the beach can all have a dehydrating effect on the skin. Choose a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid for best results.

Depending upon how significant your sun damage is, a dermatologist may have medical interventions you can try.

I hope this helps, Diana!


Nurse Practitioner

Have any questions you’d like answered from our resident experts here at Optalis? Contact us today to find out any information you’d like to know about our services.

Keeping Your Senior Safe in the Summer Heat

When the mercury soars, seniors in the Columbus area are at greater risk for heat-related problems. These can range from minor sun poisoning to life-threatening dehydration or sunstroke. Being aware of potential issues can help you keep the older adult you love safe this summer.

Summer Safety Tips for Central Ohio Seniors

  1. Hydration: Encourage the older adults in your life to stay hydrated during the hot, humid summer days in Ohio.  Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of liquids each day is important. Water is best. Some foods have high water content and they can also help improve hydration. Those foods include melons, berries, cucumber, and leafy greens.
  2. Avoid caffeine: Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages should be avoided. They can have a diuretic effect that increases an older adult’s risk for dehydration.
  3. Use sunscreen: Two common mistakes people make are putting too little sunscreen on before heading outdoors and then failing to reapply it throughout the day. This is even more important as we age and our skin becomes more fragile. Keep your senior loved ones stocked up with sunscreen and remind them to use it. A rule of thumb dermatologists share is that you should apply the equivalent of one shot glass full of sunscreen every two hours.
  4. Medication side effects: Some medicines that are more commonly prescribed for seniors can also increase their sensitivity to the sun. Knowing which ones can be a problem can help prevent sun-related illnesses such as heat stroke.
  5. Finally, be aware of the symptoms that can indicate a problem. Most common ones include:
    1. Excessive sweating
    2. Weakness and fatigue
    3. Cold, clammy skin despite the temperature
    4. Fast, weak pulse
    5. Nausea or vomiting
    6. Fainting

If a senior loved one begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek immediate help. Early intervention is critical to preventing a heat stroke. Also keep in mind that heat-related illnesses often occur more quickly in older adults than they do in younger people.

Looking for a senior living community for your loved one? We have multiple locations to fit your senior loved one’s wants and needs. Contact us at 614.345.9500 to find out which community is a best fit!


Senior-Friendly Festivals in Central Ohio

Summer in Central Ohio is a great time to visit local festivals. However, a festival that requires a lot of walking or doesn’t offer shade may make it difficult for your senior parents to enjoy themselves.

But everyone is different. Your parents may be able to walk for hours but can’t stay in the sun for long. Or they may need a wheelchair for long distances because they tire easy.

We’ve looked at some of the area’s highlighted festivals and events this summer and rated them A-C (A as highest rating) for accessibility, walking distance, access to shade, and access to water.


Topiary Takeover

Through September 11, Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory offers close parking, walkways that are smooth and well-tended, limited sun exposure, and opportunities to sit and rest if needed for your senior parent. Through September 11, you can take a wild journey across the world with the Topiary Collection featuring twenty-five topiaries made of living plants!


Paul Busse Garden Railway

Through January 8, 2023, Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory offers close parking, walkways that are smooth and well-tended, limited sun exposure, and opportunities to sit and rest if needed for your senior parent. Through January 8, the Paul Busse Garden Railway returns to the Grand Mallway this summer. Take a trip to your favorite destinations: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town, European Travels and the animal-themed Who Lived Here.


Try these senior-friendly locations in Central Ohio!



Columbus Arts Festival

June 10-12, Scioto Mile

The advent of the Scioto Mile makes this event much more accessible for seniors. Park at a nearby parking garage. The walkway along the mile is accessible, but it’s a little hilly and may pose challenges for your parent if they have mobility issues. More than 280 nationally acclaimed artists display their works during this event, so if the sun gets too much, most of them have space to welcome you under their canopy.


Jazz and Rib Fest

July 22-24,  Scioto Mile

Although highly accessible, downtown Columbus lacks shade, so the ribs aren’t the only things that are hot. Luckily, the music venues are all in parks which offer shade. Some of the music venues aren’t close to water vendors, so bring a small cooler or, at least, a water bottle or two for your parent to prevent dehydration. Handicap parking is available on the street and in nearby parking garages. If COSI finishes its underground lot in time, there should be plenty of parking available.


Ohio State Fair

July 27-August 7, Ohio State Fairgrounds

You would think, with rides, food booths, and just about everything requiring electricity, power cables would be a big problem for anyone who is in a wheelchair or has difficulty walking. However, in most places, cords have been covered in what are called “yellow jackets”, which ramp over the cords. Most restrooms and all entertainment areas are accessible, and the stages even have assisted listening devices.


Dublin Irish Festival

August 5-7, Coffman Park

Dublin plays host to the world’s second largest Irish celebration, but if your parent has mobility issues, some areas may be inaccessible.  On the other hand, you’re sure to find a spot to view many of the 65 acts and 535 performers. Wheelchairs are available at Information Tents.


Columbus Food Truck Festival

August 19-21, Franklin County Fairgrounds

This festival has moved to the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Sample delicious food from more than 70 Ohio food trucks, experience live music and explore vendors of locally-made crafts.


Columbus Greek Festival

September 3-5, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Taste souvlaki and baklava and enjoy the best of Greek culture in the Short North. There’s a nearby parking garage, as well as on-street parking, so you shouldn’t have to walk more than a block to get to the festival. The courtyard and parking lot where the festival is held are flat and even, and the cathedral is accessible.


Country Living Fair

September 13-15, Ohio History Center’s Ohio Village

While each of the buildings inside Ohio Village is accessible, your parent may need some help to get in. However, staff members are there to help, so just ask. Handicap parking is available right outside the front door, but regular parking fees of $5 per day apply. Your parents are sure to love looking at (and perhaps buying) the modern handcrafted treasures and vintage pieces on display.


Columbus Oktoberfest

September 9-11, Ohio Expo Center/ Ohio State Fairgrounds

The location is very accessible, and there’s lots of parking nearby. The only hazard to watch out for is the crowds, especially at night. Early evening lets you avoid the sun and the sometimes-too-exuberant festival-goers. That said, enjoy the best German food Columbus has to offer, as well as polkas and other performances.


Columbus Italian Festival

October 7-9, St. John the Baptist Church

It’s not easy to get around this festival, and there’s no close parking. That said, there are areas where you can enjoy the bands and music and food; just avoid the potholes. This is a great festival to bring both grands—parents and kids—because all the activity is centralized. And this is one of the friendliest festivals around, so if your parent has difficulty walking or needs to sit down, just ask, and someone will help out.

Central Ohio has a lot to offer seniors, whether you live here or you’re just visiting. If your parent needs some help, whether a respite stay, post-surgery rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living, cardiac care or memory care, we can help at one of our 7 area communities. If you would like to know more about the options available at a location near you, please contact us.