Where Better Care is a Family Matter

Cardiac Rehabilitation Care: What to Focus On During Your Recovery

Elderly couple walking togetherCardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. It’s no wonder heart health is talked about so much and why there is an entire week in the month of March dedicated to Cardiac Rehabilitation. With this in mind, we want to give you the top things to focus on when recovering after a heart attack.

Recover with Exercise and Physical Therapy

Exercise and physical therapy, specifically to strengthen your cardiovascular system is a great place to start. After consulting with your doctor, they may suggest aerobic and resistance exercise training for you. Your exercises should be specifically developed for what you are able to do and what is safe. The objective of exercise-based training it to get your heart pumping. Regular exercise may even reduce stress! Working out can have a positive impact on your overall mood and can improve your quality of life.

Start Heart-Healthy Living

What is heart-healthy living? This may be a term you hear often after going through something like a heart attack. To keep it in simple terms, it’s living each day making small choices that positively affect your heart health. Small steps to protect your heart health include avoiding things like tobacco, eating a well-balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables and limiting red meats and sweets. Making conscious decisions like taking stairs instead of an elevator; or eating an apple instead of ice cream seems small but each one of those choices is like choosing to care for your heart.

Manage Stress

Counseling and stress management is the third step to a successful cardiac rehabilitation program. Stress effects people in different ways but for every person, stress can contribute negatively on your health. Excess stress can lead to high blood pressure and can contribute to heart disease. Avoiding stress and learning to manage depression has shown to help in the prevention of a second heart attack. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about psychological and social therapies to manage your stress. Knowing how to properly recover after a heart attack is essential but keep in mind that prevention from a second attack is possible.

Turn to Your Support Team

Cardiac rehabilitation is a team effort, it includes yourself, your family or friends, and your health care support. Utilizing your support team during your recovery can have a huge impact on the future health of your heart. If you or a loved one needs assistance with care contact Elmhurst Extended Care Center at (630) 516-5000.


How to Avoid COPD

If you have COPD and go untreated, you are at a much higher risk to develop conditions like heart disease or lung cancer. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to avoid COPD.

What is COPD and What Causes it?

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a common, chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. It is often categorized in one of two main forms: chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

Chronic Bronchitis COPD

Chronic Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes become inflamed and begin producing a lot of mucus, leading to long-term coughing with mucus and difficulty breathing.


Emphysema occurs when the lungs have become damaged over time. The damage causes the air sacs of the lungs to enlarge and stretch, and the individual suffers from breathlessness.

COPD is caused by consistent exposure to irritants in the air. Several symptoms of COPD are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ongoing coughs that produce mucus
  • Wheezing

Avoid COPD by Knowing the Triggers

While triggers for COPD can be widely varied, there are three that are the most common.

Avoid COPD by Maintaining Your Physical Health

Like with most illnesses, physical health plays a large and vital role in how likely you are to suffer from an illness as well as how quickly you can recover. If you’ve ever had a cough last much longer than your cold, you can understand how easily it can be to fall victim to breathing difficulties due to sickness.

When it comes to avoiding COPD, it’s important to take extra precautions with your health. Try to avoid the common cold or flu as much as possible. You can do this by taking extra vitamin C during peak seasons, maintaining a healthy diet, and keeping up to date on the latest vaccinations – especially your annual flu shot.

If you do succumb to a cold or flu, it’s especially important to allow your body adequate time to recover. Don’t push yourself back into your normal routine too quickly. Get the rest you need so as to not exacerbate the symptoms and create problems with COPD down the road.

Avoid COPD by Being Cognizant of the Weather

While you can’t control the weather, you can be more intentional about how you participate outside in the elements. While you might only thing that cold weather can produce complications from COPD, extreme heat can also be a culprit.

Be mindful throughout the year when you head outdoors. Make sure to bundle up and limit your time outside in the cold. On the same hand, minimize your time under direct sunlight and ensure you stay hydrated.

Pollution in the air has been found to be a large trigger for COPD. This can be attributed to outdoor pollution as well as dust, mold, and fumes indoors. If you want to avoid COPD, it’s important to pay attention to the air around you. Limit your time outdoors when pollution levels are high. Keep your home clean and maintained. While pollution isn’t altogether avoidable, the better your can protect yourself against it, the better your odds are of avoiding COPD.

Avoid COPD by Quitting Smoking or Staying Away from Second-Hand Smoke

Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of COPD. Up to 75% of people who have COPD either smoke or used to smoke. If you are a smoker, quit smoking now. It is the MOST important step you can take to avoid COPD.

Second-hand smoke is just as lethal of a risk factor for COPD as first-hand smoke. Even if you aren’t a smoker yourself, it’s essential to stay away from exposure to second-hand smoke. This includes smoke from cigars and pipe tobacco as well.

Think You Might Have COPD? Get Treated Now.

While COPD is a serious disease of the lungs, it can be highly manageable when properly treated. If you or someone you love is experiencing signs or symptoms of COPD, visit with a doctor right away.

For more information about pulmonary health and respiratory care, check out this blog from Elmhurst Extended Care Center’s Respiratory Therapist.

6 Holiday Activities You Can Enjoy Indoors with Your Senior Loved One

The holiday activities you do with your senior loved one this season don’t have to be exciting to be special and meaningful. It’s all about spending time together, feeling included, and enjoying good company. Simply allowing them to join in brings joy and helps your loved one enjoy the season. Try out these fun and easy indoor holiday activities this season with them:

Holiday Activities You Can Enjoy Indoors with Your Senior Loved One

1. Put on their favorite tunes

Whether you use new technology or old, it doesn’t matter. Gather with your loved one this holiday season and enjoy listening to some of their favorite hits together.

2. Prepare and cook favorite holiday dishes

If your senior used to enjoy putting together and hosting family get togethers, it may be difficult for them now to know they aren’t able to do it on their own anymore. Bring them back in the kitchen and enjoy the preparation and cooking of the meal together this holiday season.

Here are 10 super easy holiday dishes you can make (and they’re healthy, too).

3. Ask for their help picking out presents

Your senior loved one may be surprised at just how easy it is to shop from the comfort of your home these days. If they’re unable to join you on a shopping excursion, bring the shopping to them by asking them to help you pick out gifts online.

4. Make a holiday wreath

Seniors love activities as they keep the brain stimulated and help to keep them feeling capable. Purchase all the supplies for wreath making, and then plan a fun indoor activity where you can each make a wreath of your own. If your senior is in a long-term nursing facility, help them display their wreath so they can enjoy it all season long!

Here are some great holiday wreath ideas to get you started.

5. Host a holiday movie night extravaganza

Bring out the comfy blankets, pop all the popcorn, and cozy up together around the TV as a family with your senior loved one this holiday season for a holiday movie night extravaganza. You could even find out what their favorite holiday movie is and make it your feature movie of the night!

6. Throw a cookie decorating party with your senior loved one

Get all the kids involved along with your senior and throw a cookie decorating party this holiday season. Put out bowls full of sprinkles, icing, and decorations, and let them go wild!

This recipe for the perfect sugar cookies will provide a great base for your decorations.

No matter how you plan on spending the holidays this year, make sure to include your senior loved one anywhere you can.

If you’re looking for the best nursing home in Elmhurst, look no further than Elmhurst Extended Care Center. Our facility offers both short and long-term care as well as a Certified Memory Care Unit for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Schedule your tour today or attend one of our family support groups for more information.

Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

person at doctor reviewing test results on computer

Lowering your cholesterol can play an important role in your overall health. Just the same way fat doesn’t dissolve in water, neither does cholesterol, and too much of it can create problems. There are good types of cholesterol (HDL) and bad types (LDL). High levels of LDL can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and clogged arteries. If you want to lower your cholesterol, then you should consider trying these natural ways of doing so:

1. Reduce Saturated Fats in Your Diet

Saturated fats occur naturally in many foods but mainly come from animal and dairy products. While it isn’t necessary to eliminate them completely from your diet, it’s important to focus more on having a diet high in monounsaturated fats instead. The American Heart Association suggests aiming for a diet that consists of just 5-6% of caloric intake from saturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats will help promote good levels of HDL while lowering your bad levels of LDL. Some monounsaturated fats you can begin incorporating into your diet include:

  • Olives
  • Olive oil and canola oil
  • Tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and cashews
  • Avocados

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is a great way to lower your cholesterol, and you don’t have to overextend yourself to see a difference. By adding moderate physical activity to your schedule five days a week, your HDL levels can begin to rise, and your LDL levels will begin to drop. If you’d rather exercise less often, you can do so more vigorously three times a week.

Suffer from arthritis? This blog has a great list of exercises you can do that will help eliminate joint pain, improve flexibility, and can keep you on track for lowering your cholesterol.

3. Add Omega-3s to Your Diet

It’s no secret that there are healthy fats out there, but did you know that these fats actually aid in lowering cholesterol? By adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, you can help manage and prevent heart disease. And they don’t just help lower your cholesterol either. They’re also helpful in lowering blood pressure. Consuming fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut, or taking supplements like fish oil or krill oil will boost your Omega-3s and help lower your cholesterol.

4. Avoid Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke

When you think of lowering your cholesterol, you might only be considering what’s going into your mouth. But the truth is, what’s going into your lungs also plays a large role in how good or bad your cholesterol is. Cigarettes contain the toxin acrolein, which is a vapor produced by burning plants. This man-made toxin is highly poisonous and easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, making it a large contributor to heart disease as it affects the way your body metabolizes cholesterol. Whether you’re a smoker yourself or find yourself around other smokers, it’s important to know that this can contribute greatly to high cholesterol, so it’s best to avoid it all together.

For more ways to lower your cholesterol naturally, give our expert dieticians and nursing team a call at Elmhurst Extended Care Center today.

Exercising with Arthritis

An object in motion stays in motion. – Newton’s first law.

Most arthritis sufferers believe that exercising will only exacerbate their painful and stiff joints. However, the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, by not exercising, you’re allowing your muscles and surrounding tissues to become weak, thus creating more stress on your joints.

While it may seem cumbersome at first, exercise can actually help ease the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis. And you don’t have to run a marathon to feel the relief. Moderate exercise can keep you mobile and ease the pain you’re experiencing in your joints.

We’ve compiled a list of exercises that are perfect for individuals with arthritis, and you can do them from the comfort of your own home.

Exercises to Increase Your Range of Motion

Relieve stiff joints and bring about more flexibility and use with these daily exercises:

For shoulders: Roll your shoulders backward and forward together and in rotation.

For arms: Practice slowly raising your arms over your head and lowering them.

For hips: While standing, bend your knee back while trying to touch your bottom with your heel – you can use a counter or desk for support.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Muscles for Joint Support

Strong muscles are critical in supporting and protecting your joints. You build strong muscles with regular exercise, even if just for a few minutes a day. Try practicing these workouts every other day:

For upper strength: While sitting in a chair or at the table, hold a weight in one hand. With your elbow bent at a 45° angle, slowly lower the weight down, then lift it back up towards your arm.

If you’re just beginning, grab a can from your pantry to use as a weight. It may not seem like much, but regular use will build up your muscle strength.

For lower strength: Lie on your side on the floor or bed, keeping the leg against the floor straight. Prop your upper body up by your forearm. With your other leg, bend at the knee and cross it over the leg against the floor, placing your foot firmly on the floor. Slowly lift your straight leg up and down about 6-8” off the ground.

Exercises to Improve Your Overall Fitness

Aerobic exercises will provide you with more stamina and energy, and they can improve your overall cardiovascular health as well. Aerobic exercises that are low-impact are much easier on your joints, and you only need about 10 minutes a day to feel the positive effects. Here are some low-impact aerobic exercises you can try:

  • Go for a walk
  • Take a bike ride or ride a stationary bike
  • Exercise on an elliptical machine

If you have a pool or have access to one, water aerobics is a wonderful way to keep low-impact while getting in the exercise your body needs to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. It’s a great alternative for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as it cushions the joints!

Whatever you do, don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Listen to your body. But don’t let that joint pain keep you from doing the things that could actually make it better!

If you’d like more advice or tips on how to exercise with arthritis, give us a call at Elmhurst Extended Care Center. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team is more than happy to answer your questions and advise you on ways you can improve your current condition.

Things to Consider When Preparing Your Will

senior couple with two babies

It’s a topic not many like to think about, but it’s important and necessary to draft a will in order to ensure your loved ones aren’t left dealing with lengthy and often cumbersome Probate issues. When someone passes without a living, valid will, their estate enters Probate where the laws of their state will determine how – and to whom – their personal possessions and property are divided up.

In order to avoid complications for your loved ones after you pass, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider when preparing your will:

Create a Summary of Your Assets

While it’s not the only thing to consider when preparing your will, a summary of your assets is a large portion of what you’ll need to cover. This will also assist your family members in locating things like other bank accounts, security deposit boxes, and life insurance policies that they may not know about.

When creating your summary of assets, keep in mind these things:

  • Life insurance policies (include policy number, company they were taken out with, and a contact number)
  • Bank accounts (include account number, bank name, and location)
  • Securities, annuities, 401K, Roth IRA or pension plans (include account numbers, company/institution name, and location or contact number)
  • Safety deposit box (include deposit box number, institution, and location)

You’ll also need to take down important information for your personal property and belongings, including who they will go to upon your death. Make sure you include:

  • Any personal property you own (include location and where the mortgage (if any) is located)
  • Your belongings: household furnishings, cars, recreational vehicles, jewelry, etc. (list out all of your personal effects)
  • Who is the beneficiary – this can be divided between multiple people, but you must state who gets what and how much

Determine Who Will Carry Out the Wishes of Your Will

When preparing your will, it’s important to know you’ll need two things: a witness and an executor. A witness is someone that will not be a beneficiary of your estate, and depending on which state you live in, you may be required to have more than one witness. They are there to sign stating your will is indeed your wishes and that you were of right mind when drafting the document. While not all states require a notarization, it’s always a good idea to get your will notarized.

An executor is the person that will ensure your wishes are carried out as written. This can be a spouse, child, or trusted relative or friend. However, if your estate is complicated, you may want to consider assigning an attorney as your executor.

It’s very important to include in your will that your executor has the power to pay your bills or handle any debts or related issues not outlined in your will.

Make Sure You Aren’t the Only One in Possession of Your Will

While most consider a safety deposit box a secure location to keep important documents, your will should not be one of them. In fact, upon your death, it may not be possible for your loved ones to retrieve your will without a court order.

If you’ve assigned an attorney as executor, they will have a signed copy on-hand. In addition, storing your signed and notarized will in a fireproof safe in your home is a good idea. You should also give a signed copy to a trusted friend or family member to hold on to in case your original is destroyed for any reason.

Check the Laws in Your State

While this list covers a large majority of what you should consider when preparing your will, each state has its own laws in regards to property disbursement upon death. Follow this link to find out how last wills work in your state.

For information on putting directives in place for loved ones in a long-term nursing facility, give Elmhurst Extended Care Center a call today.

4 Ways to Keep Your Senior Active This Spring

four-waysToday marks the first day of spring, and with it comes a season of warmer climates, bright greenery and blooming flowers, and the perfect time of year to encourage the seniors in your life to get outside and stay active.

We’ve compiled a list of four different ways you can keep your senior active this spring, and these are all great to carry with them as well throughout summer and into fall!

#1 Get in the Habit of Walking Daily

Regular exercise and activity are important for senior health, and spring is a great time to start forming a habit of taking daily walks. Even if it’s just around the block, or even simply walking back and forth a few times in front of their house each day until they feel they can do more, the act of walking itself will strengthen their muscles and their mind. And the more they do it, the more they’ll be able to walk. As with all things in life, if they aren’t used, they’re lost. So starting a habit now of walking daily is important to keep seniors in good physical and mental health.

#2 Take Games Outdoors

Spring is the perfect season to soak up much needed outdoor time. After a winter of being indoors, the health benefits of getting outside can be wonderful and welcome for seniors. A great way for them to spend more time outdoors is to take their indoor games with them. Enjoying a game of checkers or backgammon at the park allows for plenty of time soaking up the positive effects of the sun’s rays, and it also allows for great exercise in the walk to and from the park.

Looking to keep your seniors’ mind sharp? Have them take a deck of cards to the park to play the game Memory. The cards can easily fit into a pocket, so they don’t have to worry about carrying anything.

#3 Start a Planter Garden

Gardening itself can be quite meditative, but it also offers a great way to get in regular exercise. Not to mention it brings them outside where they can enjoy the sun and colors of the changing season. During the spring, seniors can plant summer flowers, fruits and vegetables in containers. By utilizing containers rather than just planting them in the ground, it offers a variety of ways they’re able to display and tend to their garden. Raised beds or planters in the yard make for better access for those that aren’t able to get up and down as easily.

#4 Find Community Events That Get Them Socializing

It’s quite common for seniors to spend far too much time in their homes, away from society and isolated. This can cause a decrease in mental health and can aid in the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Find events around their community that will get them out of the house and socializing with others. Oftentimes, there are senior citizen centers that offer many opportunities for gathering and enjoying activities. You may also find options for volunteering that your senior would enjoy such as assisting with a local elementary school or heading up a town bake sale fundraiser. Look for community events that your senior will be excited about so that they’ll be more likely to find reasons to get out of the house this spring.

If you or a loved one are in search of short or long term care, consider Elmhurst Extended Care Center. Family owned and operated since 1960, our dedicated and professional staff exhibit care for residents that goes beyond the status-quo. Schedule a tour today to see for yourself the difference at EECC.

Celebrating the Holidays with Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

holidays nursing homes

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for so many, but for others, it can be an uncomfortable reminder that they aren’t able to enjoy them like they used to. If your loved one has transitioned from independent or assisted living into full-time care at a nursing home, the holidays can be an extra sensitive time where worry of how they will celebrate or wondering if their loved ones will even include them in their celebrations is often the focal point of their thoughts.

It’s important that our loved ones know and feel that they are still a crucial part of our lives, no matter where they reside. From personal experience in watching our residents and their families over the last several decades enjoying the holidays together, Elmhurst Extended Care Center has come up with three very important ways you can celebrate the holidays with your loved ones in nursing homes this season.

Collect Holiday Cards

While your loved one might not have an entire house to decorate for the holidays now that they’re in a nursing home, getting them into the holiday spirit is easy to do by bringing in holiday cards.

Collect holiday cards from their friends and family and find a special place for them in their room at the nursing home facility. Hang them up on the wall or display them on a nightstand or dresser. Whatever you do, make sure your loved one will be able to easily see and enjoy them on a daily basis.

Thinking of putting together a holiday card yourself? Try adding a family photo to yours this year! Having photos of loved ones on display is always a bright spot that makes residents feel that much more at home when they’re residing at a long-term care facility.

Cook Their Favorite Dishes

Is there a specific meal your loved one always looked forward to each holiday season? What about special desserts or homemade recipes passed down through the generations?

While nursing homes do provide excellent, balanced meals focused on your loved one’s dietary needs, the holidays are a time when family traditions and special meals come into focus. Nursing homes residents often feel they might not be able to partake in those traditions any longer, so bringing in their favorite dishes can really make a great impact.

If your loved one isn’t big on surprises, talk with them before you plan to get together and have them help make a menu for the celebration. That way, you’ll know the food items they’re really looking forward to and can ensure they’ll be included.

Make It a Family Affair

If your loved one was used to large family gatherings around the holidays before they moved to a nursing home, celebrating with just one or two people can leave them feeling sad and alone. Talk with the other members of your family and see if you can plan a time where you are all able to come together to celebrate and give your loved one a holiday season to remember.

Check with your nursing home facility ahead of time to see if you can reserve some extra space the day of your gathering where your loved one and guests can feel right at home in your private celebration.

Whatever you do, make sure to celebrate! Even if you’re unable to bring the normal large gathering together, get as many to join as you can, and make the holidays in a nursing home for your loved one extra special this year.

Are you wanting to plan a gathering for your loved one this holiday season and need to reserve space? Give Elmhurst Extended Care Center a call today!