The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight, especially if you’re a woman. So many Kansas City seniors turn to “fad diets” to try to take off the excess pounds. But are those diets healthy?

Fad diets promise dramatic weight loss, and may or may not work in the short term. But they’re not sustainable long term, so even if you do lose the weight, you’ll probably gain it right back.

And, as you may have already guessed, fad diets are not healthy for seniors. Here’s why:

  • Diets that restrict carbohydrates or require fasting can cause your blood sugar to drop. And if you’re taking medication to reduce your blood sugar, it could get dangerously low if your medication isn’t adjusted accordingly.
  • Some high-protein diets allow unlimited fats. Too much fat in your diet can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Fad diets sometimes eliminate entire food groups to help you lose weight (e.g., meat, dairy, grains). If you’re not getting food from all the food groups, you may become low on nutrients that are essential for good health.

So, what can seniors do to lose weight and still stay healthy? Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus on nutrients:
    • The older you get, the less calories you need. But you also need more nutrients. So concentrate on eating more foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Some examples are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds.
    • Cut back on foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods completely, but you’ll need to eat them in moderation if you want to lose weight. Examples of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods include desserts; sugary drinks; and white bread, rice, or pasta.
  • Control portions:
    • Use a smaller plate. Dinner-size plates can hold a lot of food, so using a smaller plate can help with portion control.
    • Read food labels. See how many portions are in each package and make sure you’re not eating more than one at a time.
    • Cook meals ahead of time and freeze them in one-portion containers to re-heat when you don’t feel like cooking. Use a scale or measuring cups to make sure your portions are the right size.
    • Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer. While distracted, you may end up eating more than you’d planned.
  • Get help with meal preparation. If you have a tough time preparing your own meals, enlist the help of a caregiver or Kansas City home health agency.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise can not only help you control weight, but can also help you with balance and flexibility. You’ll need to do both aerobic exercise and exercises that will strengthen your muscles. If you need assistance, try joining a Kansas City gym or local senior center.

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Now that spring has (almost) arrived in Kansas City, you’re going to want to get outdoors and enjoy some of that beautiful weather! Here are some spring activities for Kansas City seniors. Depending on your level of independent activity, you may need your home care provider to help with some of these.

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The older you get, the more likely you’ll be prescribed multiple medications. And that can be dangerous if you’re not careful, especially if they’re being prescribed by more than one doctor (or if you’re filling them at multiple Kansas City pharmacies). Here are some tips that can keep you safe:

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If you’re a Kansas City senior who’s living on a fixed income (or the caregiver of one), the high cost of prescription drugs may be a burden for you, especially if you have multiple ongoing prescriptions. You may even be one of the millions of seniors who’s gone without filling your prescriptions because you just couldn’t afford them.

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The older you get, the more likely you are to get shingles, a painful rash that shows up on your side, face, or upper body. The shingles vaccine can help prevent you from getting it. It’s not 100% effective at stopping the virus, but if you do end up with shingles after having had the vaccine, your symptoms will be less severe.

Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccine has been approved for anyone who’s over the age of 50, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends it be given to people age 60 and above.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and people who have never had chickenpox are supposedly immune. But the CDC says 99% of Americans over the age of 40 have had chickenpox at one time or another even if they don’t remember having it. So you should get the vaccine regardless.

If you’ve already had shingles, it’s still okay to be vaccinated (after your shingles rash has completely disappeared) to help prevent you from getting it again.

Also, if you’re a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, you might want to think about getting that person vaccinated as well.

Who Shouldn’t get the Shingles Vaccine

Here are some instances in which you should avoid getting a shingles vaccine:

  • If you’ve had a previous severe allergic reaction to gelatin, neomycin (an antibiotic), or any other component of the shingles vaccine. If you’re not sure, tell your doctor up front if you have any severe allergies.
  • If you have a condition that weakens your immune system, such as:
    • HIV or AIDS
    • Leaukemia
    • Lymphoma
    • Multiple Myeloma
    • Viral hepatitis
    • Tuberculosis (untreated)
  • If you’re taking drugs or doing other treatments that affect your immune system, such as chemotherapy, steroids, or radiation therapy
  • If you’re pregnant (or trying to get pregnant)

Where to Get the Shingles Shot

The easiest place to get a shingles shot is at your primary care physician’s office. If he or she doesn’t offer the vaccine, there are plenty of doctors in Kansas City who do. You can also get a shingles shot at Walgreens or CVS.

Shingles Vaccine Side Effects

Side effects of the shingles vaccine tend to be mild. The most common side effects are redness, pain, swelling, and itching at the injection site. Headaches are also fairly common.

Some people will develop a chickenpox-like rash near the injection site after receiving the shingles vaccine. If that happens, just cover the rash until it disappears.


It’s almost flu season again, and signs are popping up all over Kansas City, Overland Park, and Prairie Village reminding you it’s time for your annual flu shot. But how important is that flu shot really?

Flu shots are the number one method of preventing the flu. And it turns out the flu can be pretty dangerous if you’re over the age of 65. Every year in the U.S., as many as 700,000 people end up in the hospital from the flu and related complications. Most of those people are seniors. That’s because as you age, your immune system gets weaker, making it more difficult for you to fight off infection.

What About Caregivers?

If you’re caring for someone who’s over the age of 65, you also need to get an annual flu shot. If you don’t and you get sick, you’re putting that person at risk even if he or she has been immunized.

And if you’re charged with caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, it’s important to make sure that person gets a flu shot, too.

What if the Flu Shot Makes Me Sick?

It seems a lot of people are still concerned about getting the flu from a flu shot, but that’s simply not possible. The reason being that the flu vaccine is made from an “inactivated” virus, which means there’s no way it can make you sick.

Then why do some people get sick right after they get a flu shot? Flu shots don’t start working until a week or two after you get them. So if you get a flu shot and end up with the flu a few days later, the shot hadn’t yet had time to become effective. So you actually caught the virus somewhere else. That’s why it’s important to get your flu shot early. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s okay to get the shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available, and it’s best to get it by the end of October. But you shouldn’t skip it if you happen to miss the October deadline. Even though flu season begins in early October, it lasts throughout the winter, and sometimes even into spring.

Where Can I get a Flu Shot?

To get your flu shot, make an appointment with your home care nurse or doctor’s office. You can also get one at most CVS or Walgreens stores. They normally posts signs out front to let you know when the vaccine is available.


Have you stopped eating healthy because cooking’s become a hassle? You’re not alone. A lot of seniors feel that way. But not getting the proper nutrition can weaken your muscles and bones, which will increase your risk for illness and falls.

If you’re a senior who’s looking for easy meals, or a caregiver who’s providing care at home to a parent or other loved one, keep this in mind when it comes to nutrition. Healthy meals should include a mixture of lean protein (e.g., lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans), fruits and vegetables, whole grains (e.g., whole grain breads, cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta), and low-fat dairy (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese). To that end, here are some quick, healthy recipes for seniors. You should be able to find these ingredients in almost any Kansas City (or Independence, or Overland Park…) grocery store:

Breakfast

Healthy Granola Parfait: Spoon 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt in the bottom of a tall glass. Top with 1/4 cup of granola, then 1/4 cup of berries, then 1 tsp dark chocolate chips. Repeat for second layer.

Fruit Smoothie: Put 1 container of plain Greek yogurt in the bottom of a blender. Add 1/2 banana, 1/2 of an 8 oz. bottle of vanilla Ensure Alive, 1 tsp. instant milk powder (optional), and a handful of frozen berries. Blend.

Peanut butter on toast. Spread peanut butter on whole grain toast. Serve with a side of fruit and a glass of milk.

Breakfast Egg Scramble: Beat together two eggs, 1/8 cup of milk, and your choice of seasonings (e.g., basil, paprika, salt substitute, pepper). Brown a small amount of turkey sausage (or you can use diced canadian bacon). Set aside. Add a small handful of diced onions and a small handful of diced green pepper to egg mixture. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan. Pour mixture in and scramble. When almost done, add the meat and a small handful of cheese. Continue to scramble until cheese is melted and eggs are set. Serve with a side of fruit.

Lunch/Dinner

All-in-One Salad. Start with a 50/50 spring mix (half spring mix, half spinach leaves). Add a chopped, boiled egg, a handful of shredded cheese, some nuts, and some berries. Top with a vinegarette dressing.

Easy turkey wrap. Spread onion and chive cream cheese on a whole wheat tortilla shell. Top with turkey slices, spinach leaves, shredded swiss, diced tomatoes, and cooked turkey bacon (optional). Roll tightly. Serve with a side of fruit.

Fish tacos. Lightly sprinkle cumin on a piece of white fish (cod is a healthy choice; avoid tilapia). Pan fry. Cut in slices. Divide fish between two small whole wheat tortilla shells. Top with lettuce or cabbage, tomatoes, diced onions, lemon juice, and salsa.

Shrimp scampi. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 stick of butter on medium heat until butter is melted. Add 1 lb. of shrimp and one package of shrimp scampi seasoning. Stir until shrimp is pink (3-4 minutes). Add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Toss with cooked quinoa pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad (50/50 spring mix). Freeze leftovers in one- or two-person portions for later.

Quick Tips

  • Diced onions and green peppers (and other vegetables you can add to salads or other meals) are available in the freezer section in most Kansas City area grocery stores.
  • You can buy 50/50 spring mix, lettuce, and spinach leaves already cut and washed.
  • Most Kansas City area grocery stores sell fruit that is already cut up.
  • Shredded cheese is also available in local grocery stores.


The last time you dropped by your mom’s house in Kansas City, did you notice an unpleasant odor? And finally realize it was coming from her? Unfortunately, elderly people don’t always bathe as often as they should. There are a number of reasons why. For example, changing clothes can be difficult. Or there could be a fear of falling in the tub. Or they may just not remember they didn’t do it. Here are some things you can do to help if your mom (or dad) has stopped bathing.

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The thought of a loved one dying can be painful, so it might seem easier not to talk about it. But if you don’t ask about end-of-life wishes, how will you know what your elderly mother in Independence or your ailing brother in Overland Park wants if a time comes when they can’t answer for themselves? Or how will your children (or other caregiver) know what your wishes are when you near the end of your life (especially if they no longer live in Kansas City)?

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