Hearts and Chocolate: Health-Positive Tokens of Your Affection

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Happy Valentine’s Day! In some ways, Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday because it’s a day devoted to showing others how much you care. What’s more, you can go over-the-top with a big gesture… or fill the day with simple, homemade surprises. Either way, the object of your affection will feel the love.

And while you could go down the filet mignon and champagne route, Valentine’s Day also gives us some pretty sublime ways to indulge that benefit the body as much as they lift the spirits. At Home Instead Senior Care of the Southeast Valley, this is especially important to us because keeping seniors healthy and letting them know how much they are valued are two of our lifelong loves.
Here are some of our favorite way to share the love – and longevity – with the seniors in our lives.

Choc(olate)-full of goodness: It’s a classic for a reason. For most people, chocolate is a surefire way to the heart. But it’s also good for the heart. According to numerous studies, including these, the flavanols in cocoa have been found to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Chocolate also may help the brain. A study published last August in the journal Hypertension showed that, of 90 seniors with mild cognitive impairment who were given cocoa with high, medium, or low amounts of flavanols, those who drank high and medium levels of flavanols outperformed those who consumed low doses on tests of attention and other mental skills. The recommended serving is 3 ounces of flavanol-rich dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Because chocolate is a high-calorie and often sugar-laden food, you should be mindful of any dietary restrictions your senior loved one has before giving them a chocolate gift.

A well-balanced vintage: By now, everyone knows about the health benefits of moderate red wine consumption, but there’s a relatively new finding that you might not have heard. Resveratrol, the wonder-compound responsible for wine’s healthy rep, could actually improve senior mobility and reduce falls. In a study presented to the American Chemical Society last year, researchers fed young and old lab mice a resveratrol-rich diet for eight weeks. After about four weeks, the balance of the older mice had improved to the point that it was close to that of the young mice. If wine isn’t an option for your senior, resveratrol can be found naturally in grape juice, peanuts, the skin of grapes and other dark fruits, such as cranberries and blueberries.

Flower power: Good old-fashioned posies are lovely for putting a little spring in your senior’s step… without the calories of candy and alcohol. On a warmer day, consider taking your senior on a visit to an indoor garden center. It’s an easy way to get a little exercise and preview what’s in store for spring.

Paper pleasures: Emails and Facebook and texting, oh my! If your senior is wired, these are fun ways to stay connected but don’t underestimate how special a well-chosen greeting card can be. Many seniors save their favorites– we know at least one who frames her Valentines and uses them as decorations year after year. The few minutes you spend picking out a card can bring your senior many moments of happy memories.

For more information about the health and well-being of seniors, please contact Home Instead Senior Care of the Southeast Valley at 480- 827-4343, or visit on us Facebook.


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