Best Upcycled Gifts for the Holidays

Upcycling is a wonderful way to turn a great find into a unique one-of-a-kind treasure and to do so without spending a lot of money. Other additional terms that you may have heard being tossed around that fall into this same category are reused, shabby chic and “trashion.”

Whatever you call it, it can be a whole lot of fun! First, there is the thrill of the hunt. As they say, one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. To find your treasure, you will probably need to sift through some junk.

It is a fun challenge to look at something you find interesting and then figure out a way to transform it into a treasure for yourself or one you plan to share with someone else.

Wikipedia offers a great definition for upcycling: “Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The holiday season is in full swing, and there are various ways you can upcycle items to create treasures your friends and family will cherish for years to come. Let’s explore how you can create one-of-a-kind holiday gifts this season.

Upcycling with Books and Magazines

Go to any thrift or antique store and you’re sure to find books, and lots of them – many of them at very economical prices, oftentimes a dollar or less. This means that by using books to create new items, you can create some really extraordinary gifts without laying out a lot of cash.

Create a small Christmas Tree or Snowman for someone who could use a little Christmas cheer.

Make a gorgeous pair of quilled earrings using a colorful page from a magazine.

Books can be used to create an end table or an end table with a little twist. A set of encyclopedias work especially well. Here is an excellent tutorial to make sure your stack of books holds up.

They can be glued to the back and seat of a chair or used to create a unique and interesting rug. This video shows you how to use a saw to cut books quickly and cleanly.

Use a piece of glass, a large board or an old door and lots of books to create a desk, coffee table or side table.

Books can be used to make shelves. This one does a nice play on words with Humpty Dumpty and the egg beater, plus the second book title being “All the Kings Men.”

How about a storage box or book safe? It can be compartmented like this one or it could be composed of one large compartment. Maybe a little more difficult, but how about an interesting shape … like a heart, for instance.

You can use the techniques in this video to decoupage any piece of wooden furniture or shelves using comic books. How fun would it be to take your kid’s or grandkid’s coloring projects and do the same thing? Or, to use cookbooks to create something for someone’s kitchen?

You’ll find lots of great ideas for books here at 30+ Great Upcycling Ideas for Vintage Old Book Pages.

Upcycling Watches and Clocks

Using the decorative faces from a couple of old watches, you can create a pair of Watch Face Earrings. Then, using some of the extra watch parts, metal washers, old metal buttons and a few jewelry findings, make a unique bracelet. Gears and other inner workings from old clocks would also make interesting components to use with a bracelet like this. Personalize the bracelet by inserting a special photo or other items, like an initial, behind the watch glass to give it a special little touch.

Turn any item into a clock with a clock kit you can get at a craft store or on Amazon. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Use a mustard tin for a chef you know, an old saw blade (another blade idea) for a woodworker, a vintage book for a book lover or a bicycle gear or wheel rim for a cyclist.

Beginning around the 2-minute mark, this video, How to Make a Lolly Stick Clock, shows you just how easy it is to make a clock using a clock kit.

Upcycling with Old Dishes

Use this reverse stencil technique to turn any dish into a unique gift idea. Plates can be hung on the walls or converted into clocks. Cups and bowls can be made into candles. Glasses into candles or pencil holders. Here is an additional decorative plate video.

Other Fun Ideas and Sites

Here are a few other links with lots of interesting ideas for gifts. Check them out. You’re sure to find inspiration for the DIYer in you.

Well, that about wraps things up. You’re sure to have found a few ideas to make gift giving much easier this year. And there’s a whole lot of satisfaction in knowing that you created it.

And that’s a good thing too, especially if you live here at Preston Place. Our family-like atmosphere means you’re sure to have lots of family and friends to exchange gifts with this holiday season. Contact us to learn more. And then get out your paintbrush and glue gun, plus one of your amazing antique store treasures and begin creating a very special gift for someone you love.

4 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress as You Age

Everyone deals with stress and with the negative impact it has on the body. However, according to Harvard Medical School, individuals have a more difficult time coping with stress as they age. Fortunately, there are measures older adults can take to manage stress and its impact on the body.

Before we look at ways to reduce stress, let’s define stress and its effects on a person.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s natural reaction to a stressor or other stimulus that disturbs a person’s physical or mental equilibrium. It’s commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” response. It may have served our ancestors well as they struggled to survive dangerous situations, but, for many in today’s hectic world, living in a constant “fight or flight” mode can have damaging health effects.

Detrimental Impact of Stress

Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. In fact, according to the American Medical Association, up to 80% of doctor appointments may be related to stress. The American Psychological Association backs this statement up with one of their own indicating that chronic stress is linked to six leading causes of death including heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents, suicide and cancer. According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the effects of psychological stress affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation which can promote the development and progression of disease.

Chronic stress can:

  • Reduce your immune response affecting your ability to heal
  • Cause blood sugar imbalances
  • Raise blood pressure
  • Cause elevated levels of bad cholesterol
  • Increase fat deposits around your mid-section associated with heart attacks and strokes
  • Decrease muscle tissue and bone density
  • Suppress thyroid function
  • Affect the functioning of your brain

With all of this in mind, let’s look at ways an older adult can address the issue of stress in their lives.

Ways to Reduce Stress

Now that we understand just how important it is to get stress under control, let’s look at ways that this can be accomplished.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an excellent practice to help a person deal with stress in their life. Many people fret over the past or worry about the future, often robbing themselves of the present. This constant psychological turmoil causes undue stress. Mindfulness eases this stress by focusing on the present moment and what it has to offer.

Other benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Hones your innate ability to focus
  • Helps you cope with physical and mental pain
  • Reduces brain chatter
  • Helps you connect better with others

Exercise Regularly

Although most stress originates in the brain, physical exercise can play a part in reducing stress by favorably impacting brain health.

According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, older adults who completed a walking regimen over a one year period saw a two percent increase in the size of their hippocampus. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain where memory storage and new learning take place, is the first part of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s. This further makes the case to include exercise in your stress reduction routine.

However, as we get older our bodies will sometimes respond differently to exercise than it once did. To prevent injury and added stress to joints, choose low-impact exercises that get your heart rate up. Low-impact exercises to consider include walking, swimming, water aerobics, resistance band training and chair exercises.

“Body manipulation” exercises are another great choice. Although these exercises are characterized by subtle movements, they can still have a major impact on your body and your stress levels. Body manipulation exercises include yoga, tai chi, reiki, massage and craniosacral therapy.

When all is said and done, the best exercise routine is one that you enjoy and are willing to stick to on a regular basis. Remember to start slow, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts. Finally, don’t forget to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Eat a Healthy Diet

A poor diet, lacking nutritional density, can put stress on the body. In turn, stressful situations can cause overeating, which can lead to a never-ending cycle of poor eating habits. To stop this detrimental stress cycle in its tracks, make sure to eat a diet filled with nutritionally dense foods. A healthy diet includes foods that are low in carbohydrates, low in sugar and high in healthy, saturated fats. Eating this way will get you to naturally cut sugar out of your diet which can help prevent stress, anxiety, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

If you focus on protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables you will provide your body and brain with the building blocks needed to function optimally and to fight off disease.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

For various reasons, older adults will sometimes isolate themselves and have less social interactions with others. This is unfortunate because social engagement is an essential component of successful aging. It’s critical that older adults find ways to remain active socially and cultivate warm and caring relationships with others.

With technology, staying connected with others is easier than it has ever been. Enjoy conversations with family and friends more fully through the use of Skype. Keep in touch with what’s going on in other people’s lives through Facebook. (Be sure to avoid the drama that can be found there, otherwise, you’ll be increasing your stress levels!)

Join your local senior center. Become involved in clubs that specialize in a hobby or interest you enjoy. Take a class at your local community college. Make a difference in your life and in the lives of others through volunteer activities.

Final Thoughts on Reducing Stress

Put these tips into action to reduce the stress that is robbing you of the joy in your life. The effects of stress can add up over time and when left unchecked can have devastating effects on your life. Thankfully, taking small steps to reduce stress can add up over time too! The longer you work at relieving your stress the better off you’ll be.

At Parc Place, we understand the benefits of living a stress-free lifestyle; therefore, we strive to create a peaceful environment that focuses on keeping residents healthy and engaged. If you have any questions, please contact us. And remember, there’s no better time to take steps to reduce stress in your life than right now.

10 Foods that Naturally Lower Blood Pressure

Do you suffer from high blood pressure? If so, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 29% of adults have high blood pressure. Your doctor likely has recommended changes you can make to address high blood pressure, such as limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and being physically active. Additionally, selecting the right foods can help lower your blood pressure.

You have probably heard that cutting salt from your diet is a good first step in lowering blood pressure. Fortunately, some tasty foods also have properties that can help reduce your blood pressure. Here are 10 of our favorites:

Flaxseed

Research has linked flaxseed to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Study participants showed improvement even when they also took pressure-lowering medication. Fiber and healthy fats may play a role in the ability of flaxseed to lower blood pressure.

Blueberries

A cup of blueberries every day is delicious and might help lower your blood pressure. A 2015 study found that women who consumed blueberry powder every day for two months showed a significant drop in systolic pressure.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, eaten three times a week, has been linked to the reduction of diastolic blood pressure. Research also has linked omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty varieties of fish, to blood pressure reductions. Leaner fish like cod has shown no effect.

Bananas

Bananas are delicious, portable and rich in potassium — which can help lower blood pressure. Experts say blood pressure meds can increase the need for potassium, and a deficiency can negatively affect heart rate.

Olive Oil

Research has linked olive oil with lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure, especially in women whose blood pressure was high. To keep your oil fresh, buy it in dark-colored bottles, and store it in a cool spot and out of sunlight.

Whole Grain Products

Along with reducing cholesterol, whole grains also have a positive effect on blood pressure, research has found. Consider starting your day with high-fiber, whole grain cereal like bran flakes or shredded wheat.

Beets

Experts say the nitrates in beets can help lower blood pressure. Naturally sweet beets make a versatile ingredient for all sorts of dishes, from salads to pastas. This deeply-hued vegetable can even add moisture to your chocolate cake.

Pomegranate

One study found a link between drinking a cup or more of pomegranate juice daily for a month and lower blood pressure. Scientists haven’t established what constituent of the juice might cause the drop, but they suspect it’s the healthy polyphenols or potassium.

Dairy Products

Consuming low-fat dairy products has been linked to a reduction in hypertension. The connection was strongest with milk and low-fat yogurt but, sadly, the benefit didn’t extend to cheese.

Chocolate

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Research has shown that dark chocolate and cocoa may help ease blood flow by widening blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. The polyphenols in cocoa play a role in the formation of nitric oxide, which aids the process of reducing hypertension.

Discover Meadowstone Place

To maintain healthy blood pressure, eat a varied diet that includes these pressure-lowering foods, and see your doctor regularly. At Meadowstone Place, we’re committed to the health and wellness of residents, and provide the resources they need to live a vibrant, meaningful retirement. Our independent living community is located in beautiful Dallas, Texas, and is close to many area attractions for you to enjoy. To find out more about our active retirement lifestyle or to schedule a tour, please contact us today.

Talking to Family Members about Independent Living Communities

Unfortunately, many older adults resist even thinking about making a move into a senior living community, saying they want to remain in their own home. Perhaps, they feel such a move would rob them of their independence. Or maybe, they’re not ready to concede to the fact that they’re getting older. Whatever the reason or reasons, you may find yourself struggling to help them realize that independent living communities provide all the benefits of living in their own home plus a whole lot more.

As you prepare for any discussions with family members, it’s important to remember and help them understand you want only what is best for them. You may have to reiterate this fact repeatedly until everyone truly realizes that this really is your ultimate priority.

What is an Independent Living Community?

It’s wise to have a thorough understanding of what an independent living community is so you’ll be equipped to overcome any incorrect objections concerning such a community. Independent living communities are much like living in your own home, but with a range of fabulous perks.

Many people believe that senior living communities are only for people who require long-term care. While it’s true senior living communities are excellent places for individuals to receive long-term care and assistance, they can also be a great place to enjoy an active retirement lifestyle. With that in mind, let’s look at what an independent living community is and how it can benefit the older adult who does not require any assistance.

There are numerous independent living housing options ranging from single-family homes in age-restricted communities to apartments within senior housing complexes and many options in between. All these options generally offer a variety of floor plans and sizes.

Typically, independent living communities offer an active lifestyle and freedom from the hassles of home maintenance. They offer a wide range of services and amenities such as housekeeping and linen services, transportation services and security. Many communities also provide multiple dining options, fitness centers, pools, libraries, entertainment spaces, beauty and barber salons and much more. Additionally, they offer an abundance of activities and programs in which to take part, often with a focus on wellness.

Benefits and Advantages of Independent Living

An active adult may not readily see any benefits or advantages of moving into an independent living community. After all, they’re doing fine and don’t need any assistance. However, when residents of senior living communities are questioned, many will share that they wish they had moved sooner.

One of the most important benefits of living in a senior community is the opportunity to stay socially connected. All too often, poor health, shrinking social circles, life changes and transportation challenges lead to social isolation and loneliness. According to an article in the Washington Post, more than 40 percent of seniors experience loneliness on a regular basis. Loneliness, even perceived loneliness, can negatively impact on a person’s health and quality of life.

Loneliness and social isolation can lead to depression, and has a wide range of negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health, some of which include:

According to research at the University of Chicago, older adults who feel lonely and isolated are twice as unhealthy as an obese person and have a 14% higher risk of dying earlier than their socially engaged counterparts.

There are other key benefits to living in a senior community as well. Two of the more common include:

  • Freedom to enjoy life – By taking care of the hassles of caring for the home and a yard, independent living communities give residents the time they have always wanted to enjoy activities and pastimes, new and old
  • More opportunities to stay active and involved – After taking advantage of the numerous activities offered, many residents are surprised to realize just how little they were actually doing prior to moving into the independent living community. Not only do they have more chances to take part in activities they have always enjoyed, but they also have plenty of opportunities to try something new.

Tips for Talking to Family Members about Independent Living Communities

Let’s look at a few tips that can be beneficial as you begin the process of talking to a family member about moving into an independent living community.

Dealing with Resistant Family Members

By now, you should be convinced of the benefits of living in an independent living community, but when you bring it up with family members who could benefit from such a move, you find yourself facing resistance. What can be done? One thing you can do is to encourage them to try it as a “vacation” for a period of one to four weeks. After they experience all the benefits, they may be more inclined to consider moving into an independent living community. Contact communities in the area to see if they offer apartments on a trial basis.

Talk in Person

It’s best to have conversations about living options in person, if possible. Block out a time and pick a location that will allow you to talk without interruptions.

Show Empathy

Show you care by taking time to listen to what they have to say. A calm, patient, kind demeanor and voice will go a long way towards showing them you truly care and that you’re trying to understand their frustrations and fears.

Have Regular Conversations

Don’t wait until your family member is in crisis mode to begin the “living options” conversation. Although they may decide they don’t want to move into independent living at this time, they may consider it again later. Once they have moved into independent living, it becomes easier to take the next step into assisted living when the need arises, especially if the community also offers this option. As stated earlier, make sure they understand you have their best interest at heart, especially when discussing such issues with resistant family members.

Know that it is likely to take several conversations before a decision will be made. Don’t expect them to agree after one conversation. Also, don’t rush them into making a decision. Give them time to think about it so they’ll feel good about the decision when it has been made.

Make Sure All Family Members Agree

As family members prepare to talk to someone about moving to a senior living community, they should come to an agreement among themselves first, before broaching the subject with the family member. Resistant family members will sense any discord and use it to divide and conquer.

Avoid Information Overload

You’ve done your homework and you’ve prepared for this discussion. Sharing some of the reasons you believe this is the right decision can be helpful. Sharing too much can become overwhelming and can feel like an attack; therefore, limit information sharing. If they become defensive, it will become harder to come to a resolution now and later.

Independent Living at Parc Place

Parc Place offers the lifestyle people dream of for retirement. Each of our senior apartments provides all the comforts of home, and we’re located a short drive from fine dining, shopping, historic sites and a multitude of other activities.

Our wellness programs enable residents to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. From fitness classes and wellness programs to our on-site entertainment and social functions, they’re sure to find an activity, event, program or social function to enjoy at Parc Place. Our resident programs and our amenities and services provide a sophisticated and active retirement lifestyle.

We are a unique retirement community that provides financial freedom, allowing your family member to choose how they want to enjoy their retirement. Select only the amenities and services desired – it’s fully customizable, and no large upfront fee is required.

View our floor plans and contact us at Parc Place to schedule a visit to our beautiful retirement community in Bedford, TX. We look forward to showing you and your family member all that retirement can be!

Decorating Tips to Make Senior Living Feel Like Home

A move to an independent living community comes with a variety of benefits, including convenient services and amenities, delicious dining and ample opportunities for making new friends and socializing. But leaving familiar surroundings — and downsizing possessions — can also cause conflicting emotions.

If you or a relative are relocating to an independent living community, you’ll want to make your new apartment as welcoming as possible. What are some steps you can take to ensure that your new environment feels like home?

Choose Complementary Colors and Textures

You may not have previously spent time coordinating colors and textures for your residence, but doing so can make a big difference in how you feel about your abode. The specifics of your choices will depend on your personal preferences.

If you’ve begun to experience any changes in your vision, you may want to go for contrast in colors between walls, draperies, floors and furniture. In addition, warm and neutral color palettes — or “healing colors” like greens — may enhance visibility in your new place. To make your home cozy and comfortable, consider adding some highly tactile items, such as soft blankets and throws.

Highlight Important Mementos

A different floor plan and space constraints may mean your new apartment cannot precisely replicate your previous residence. However, by strategically placing meaningful personal items, you can capture that homelike familiarity.

Be sure to decorate your new home with plenty of photos that have meaning for you. Whether you place them on the walls, on shelves or on furniture such as dressers and end tables, photos can help you continue to connect with the people and events that are important to you.

Consider creating groupings of favorite photos, with different sizes and colors of frames to add interest. You also can mix in memorabilia like trophies, crafts and items that have been handed down in your family — or designate special spots for these items around your home.

Prioritize Mobility, Accessibility and Safety

To ensure your continued well-being, consider arranging your furnishings in a way that maximizes safety. If you use throw rugs, make sure they are securely anchored with a non-slip backing or mat to eliminate tripping hazards. If you use an assistive device for mobility or you have arthritis, consider keeping walkways wide throughout your home to allow plenty of space for safe passage.

In addition, arrange frequently used items in a way that makes sense for your needs and lifestyle. Keep phones beside your bed or near your usual sitting area and install handrails in your bathroom or elsewhere if you feel that you may need them. Make sure every area of your home has the right level of lighting for your safety and that of your guests.

Go for Maximum Comfort

What does “comfortable” mean for you? Some people love soft furniture they can sink into, while others prefer firm sofas and mattresses for back health and ease of rising. Think about how you define comfort and choose furnishings and decor that support your preferences.

If you have any mobility challenges, arthritis or trouble with your back, you may want to select furniture that sits higher. In addition, choose couches and chairs with sturdy, tall arms you can use for support when getting up. A reclining chair — or one or more recliners built into a sofa — provides you with a comfortable spot for reading or TV viewing that you can customize to your needs.

Spice up Your Walls

We’ve already talked about making your new apartment feel like home by using some strategically chosen colors throughout — including on your walls. A serene color like sage green or warm beige, for example, can create a cozy ambiance as it lifts your spirits. If you have vision challenges, you may want to choose a wall color that clearly contrasts with the color of your floor for easy differentiation and safety.

Another easy way to add interest to your walls is with decorative items, including framed art, photographs and wall hangings. Tapestries, quilts and other wall-ready textiles featuring inspirational messages or beautiful images can add a touch of home to your new place.

Use Small Spaces Effectively

If you’re moving into a smaller space than you’re used to, you may need to spend time downsizing possessions. You also may want to choose smaller furniture and decorative items that can serve the purposes you need while taking up less of your valuable floor space. Lamps placed throughout your home can cast a warm glow that also lends an air of comfort and a feeling of additional space.

Rather than a large sofa, consider a love seat and a chair. You may find that you can seat the same number of people by using smaller items — or by purchasing multi-purpose pieces, such as dining chairs that can double as living room seating. If your storage space is at a premium, consider pieces that provide you with some additional storage options, including end tables with drawers or doors, a coffee table with a lid you can easily lift or an ottoman with available space inside.

Make Room for Socializing and Relaxing

In an independent living community, you may find that you spend more of your time out and about. Whether you’re enjoying a delicious meal with friends, taking a day trip, seeing a performance or working out, your daily calendar may remain full. When you do retreat to your personal apartment, you’ll want to ensure its suitability for two important purposes: relaxing and socializing with close friends and family members.

Make sure you have enough seating to welcome in friends on occasion and consider some interesting art pieces to spark conversation. If you and your friends enjoy card games or puzzles, consider devoting a small table to your hobby or purchase a folding card table that can be brought out for hosting extra guests.

When you’re ready to relax, you’ll want at least one comfortable chair with good light for reading. If you’re a TV or movie buff, consider a well-placed entertainment system with a screen that’s big enough to see throughout the room; you can choose a beautiful armoire for storage if you’d prefer that the electronics remain hidden when not in use.

Decorate for Holidays — With Care

If you celebrate holidays throughout the year, you may want to purchase some reusable decorations to help you make your new apartment feel more like home. Consider choosing items that can be stored within the space you have available and that are fire-resistant.

If you plan to use candles as part of your holiday display, use caution. You may choose among many varieties of electric candles that look like the real thing — without the risk of causing a fire. A real holiday tree, if left to dry out for too long, also can pose a fire hazard; instead, consider choosing one of the many realistic-looking artificial versions. Be sure to thoroughly inspect all electrical portions of your holiday display, including strands of lights and extension cords.

Choose the Ideal Active-Living Community for You

When you choose Preston Place, you choose an independent living community in Plano, TX, with a variety of amenities, services, programs and opportunities for engagement that help you feel right at home. You’ll love our delicious, chef-prepared cuisine, along with our commitment to wellness. To learn more or to schedule a visit, please contact us.