Thursday, August 10, 2023

6 Simple Self-Improvement Tips for Stroke Survivors



Ok, before you say it let me answer it. I have said it before and I'll say it again, I have not gone off my rocker by posting a non-stroke related article on a dedicated stroke centered blog. This blog will remain a blog for stroke survivors and their caregivers.

Harry Cline has been a long time contributor to this blog of excellent articles which in themselves aren't specifically aimed at stroke but they do contain information that can be very useful to families that are affected by stroke.

There are links included in most of the following paragraphs that expand on the subjects Harry is outlining. Some of these sites may want to collect cookies as do most of the sites we visit these days so be aware of that. Neither United Stroke Alliance nor Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp endorse, affilliate with or recieve funds or other benefits from these companies. They are included as reference material only.

Any questions relating to this article or to the companies referenced should be directed to: Harry Cline at:

Image via Freepik
6 Simple Self-Improvement Tips for Stroke Survivors

No one needs to tell you how challenging life after a stroke can be, and it can take time to adjust to new limitations and find your feet again. But by exercising the right mindset and incorporating healthy habits, you can begin to restore your independence and enjoy your life to the fullest.

Below, Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp shares six tips for capturing self-improvement after suffering a stroke. From building positive relationships to finding a new hobby, these tactics will help you improve your overall well-being, boost your confidence, and put you on the road to fulfilling your life goals.

1. Hang out with positive people

Surrounding yourself with uplifting and inspiring people can yield significant benefits for your mental health and help you maintain a positive outlook on life. It can also do wonders for your mood and confidence levels. Find people who share similar interests, join clubs, and explore online communities.

Hosting get-togethers with good people at your home is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and strengthen bonds. You can make your events even more special by using an online invitation maker (you may consider this option ) to create beautiful invitations. With a wide range of templates and customization options available, you can design invitations that reflect the theme and ambience of your gathering. Make your next event one to remember!

2. Lower your stress levels

Because it can have such a negative impact on your physical and mental well-being, it’s crucial to implement daily practices that help you minimize stress. You might try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or participating in calming activities like yoga. 

It’s difficult to overstate the positive impact of learning stress managementit will ultimately help you become more resilient in the face of adversity while boosting your overall quality of life.

3. Get rid of bad habits

Nothing can hinder progress and compromise your well-being quite like bad habits. If you have any habits that aren’t serving you well, start taking steps to remove them. A few common habits to eliminate include:

● Overeating

● Smoking

● Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol

● Engaging in negative self-talk

● Entertaining toxic relationships

Once you identify negative patterns in your life, you can begin taking small steps toward breaking them and replacing them with positive habits.

4. Establish realistic (and challenging) life goals

Living with a stroke brings new challenges, and you must establish realistic life goals that propel you toward self-improvement. Whether it involves learning a new skill, engaging in a hobby, or building better relationships with loved oneshaving a clear path of what you want to achieve can help focus your energy and motivate you toward positive progress.

Here are a few other goals to steer you to self-improvement:

● Cultivate a daily mindfulness practice.

● Develop a regular exercise routine.

● Read more books.

● Start a progress journal.

● Practice gratitude and kindness.

5. Take care of your physical health

Fostering your physical health plays a fundamental role in improving your overall well-being.

Regular physical activity, a balanced and nutritious diet, and adequate rest are the three pillars of physical fitness; think of practical changes you can make so that you prioritize each of these.

Managing your physical health will improve your mobility, enhance your mood, and reduce the risk of future health complications, among many other perks.

6. Try a new hobby

Having a hobby is a fantastic way to improve and maintain your overall well-being while boosting your confidence and self-esteem. 

There are countless hobbies worth exploring, such as painting, dancing, reading, or playing games. Hobbies also give you an opportunity to connect with others and make new friends. Find an activity you look forward to, and try to do it every day.

Wrapping Up

Living life after a stroke might seem overwhelming to you, but you can regain independence and genuinely enjoy life by incorporating positive daily habits and a healthy mindset. Remain patient with yourself and keep taking small steps toward self-improvement, trusting that progress and success will come with time. Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone — resources and support are available to help you along the way.

Would you like to read more helpful content or learn about our camps for stroke survivors (and their caregivers)? Visit today!

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ready to Embrace the Life of a Digital Nomad?


Ok, before you say it let me answer it. I have not gone off my rocker by posting a non-stroke related article on a dedicated stroke centered blog. This blog will remain a blog for stroke survivors and their caregivers. 

Harry Cline has been a long time contributor to this blog of articles which in themselves aren't specifically aimed at stroke but they do contain information that can be very useful to families that are affected by stroke.

So for this specific article of his consider this: don't some of you have highschool or college bound children or other relatives or maybe even yourselves who are needing a way to express their talents in this information age? The fact that computers, tablets, cell phones and the like are a huge part of our lives now. Your up and comming youngsters as well as you should be able to take advantage of that.

Here Harry is offering some guidelines and insight into one technology door that is open for anyone with the interest and ability to do something that will benefit them and their family as well. 

There are links included in most of the following paragraphs that expand on the subjects Harry is outlining. Some of these sites want to collect cookies as do most of the sites we visit these days so be aware of that. Neither United Stroke Alliance nor Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp endorse, affilliate with or recieve funds or other benefits from these companies. They are included as reference material only. 

Any questions relating to this article or to the companies referenced should be directed to: Harry Cline at:
Ready to Embrace the Life of a Digital Nomad?

Here’s How

Are you ready for the freedom, flexibility, and adventure of becoming a digital nomad? These days, it’s easier than ever to make this change. With the right skills and knowledge, you can be living your dream life as a digital nomad in no time. Here’s what it takes to become a digital nomad and how to get started.

Harry even included this plug for our camps with his article:

The Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp offers relaxing and supportive camping trips to stroke survivors and their families. Learn more: 

Develop In-Demand Skills

Before you can start working remotely, you need to develop the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. This means gaining expertise in areas such as web development, graphic design, content writing, virtual assistant work, or data entry, to name a few.

Research Work Opportunities

Once you have the necessary skills and knowledge, it’s time to research potential work opportunities so that you can find the perfect job or contract that will fit your needs as a digital nomad. You may want to look into freelance websites like Upwork or Fiverr or search online job sites like Indeed or Monster.

Prepare a Portfolio

It’s important to create an online portfolio that showcases your skills and experience when applying for remote positions. This could include samples of your work, such as articles you’ve written or websites you’ve designed, as well as references from previous employers who can vouch for your capabilities.

Embrace Technology

To ensure success when working remotely anywhere in the world, it is important to familiarize yourself with remote work technology, such as video conferencing software, cloud storage platforms, project management tools, and other tools used by businesses today.

Find a Home Base

For digital nomads seeking short-term rentals, it can be difficult to find the perfect place. You have to consider location, cost, amenities, and more. Finding accommodations with high-speed internet access is also essential.

There are websites that filter properties so you can find a comfortable and cost-effective living situation. When scouting for potential living options, look for private homes and apartments that offer reliable Wi-Fi. Take your time and explore your options — you'll be sure to find something that meets your unique needs.

Be Realistic About Expenses

If you're considering life as a digital nomad, it's important to have an accurate idea of what your travel and living expenses will be. Start by evaluating the cost of flight tickets, accommodations in different locations, and food and entertainment costs. Research the types of visas required (if applicable) and health insurance premiums, as well as taxes or other fees. Additionally, build in room for miscellaneous costs like communication and transportation charges.

Register as an LLC

If you plan to become a digital nomad, setting yourself up as an LLC can be a smart move. An LLC provides the legal protection of a corporation without the extra costs and paperwork associated with it. Additionally, it allows you to separate your personal assets from your business activities, providing additional financial security. Setting up an LLC also offers more control over how you file taxes and access capital markets, making it a great resource for any digital nomad looking to succeed. A formation service can help you register your
LLC—Google “ - is LegalZoom worth it” to learn more.

Pay Taxes

Managing your taxes as a digital nomad can be complicated, but it doesn't have to be. With the right help and research, you can understand how to best work with the tax laws of each jurisdiction that you are working in. Finding an experienced accountant with knowledge in this specific area will make all the difference, as they will be able to provide guidance on organizational strategies
and answer important questions. It's also worth taking a few online courses or getting some reading material on the subject to make sure you're up-to-date with the changing landscape of taxation for digital nomads.

Becoming a digital nomad is an exciting lifestyle change but also one that comes with its own set of challenges. By taking steps like researching work opportunities, finding accommodations, and forming an LLC for your business, you will be well on your way toward achieving success as a digital nomad.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

A Camping Experience for Stroke Survivors and Caregivers


The camping season is rapidly approaching. We will begin our first camp of twenty six total as of this writing in the middle of April. If you've not been to one, the following will give you a brief explanation of what goes on. You will also find links near the top right of this blog explaining what goes on at camp days 1, 2 and 3. We start on a Friday afternoon and finish the following Sunday afternoon. Accommodations are motel/hotel style with meals included. The following information is from our United Stroke Alliance website :


Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp

A Camping Experience for Stroke Survivors, Caregivers and Family Members

Each year 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 543,000 survive the stroke, many experiencing significant physical limitations and emotional and cognitive challenges. After years of slow recovery, depression and isolation become a normal part of life not only for the survivor but also for the caregiver. Hope and optimism often seem like an unrealistic and distant goal. Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp was created to provide an opportunity for stroke survivors and their caregivers to participate in a camping experience that centers on support, education, socialization and relaxation. The primary mission is to improve the quality of life for survivors and caregivers through an experience that will motivate, inspire and support them.

The Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp program was first developed in 2004 by Marylee & John Nunley (Founders) following John’s stroke in 2001. They realized a special need for a program that could help stroke survivors and their caregivers cope with the many challenges of stroke. The mission of this program – is to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, caregivers, and families through relaxing weekend/retreats. Activities may include, group discussion, speakers, music, games, chair massage, fingernail painting, hand wax dips, dancing, swimming, fishing and craft projects to stimulate the body, mind and spirit!


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Stroke Prevention. What is a stroke?



The following information is from our United Stroke Alliance website:


Stroke Prevention
What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blockage or bleed of the blood vessels either interrupts or reduces the supply of blood to the brain. When this happens, the brain does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and brain cells start to die. This is a medical emergency. Although many strokes are treatable, some can lead to disability or death.

Primary Prevention

Possible underlying causes of stroke. If people are able, they can achieve minimizing the risk of stroke by making life style changes as listed below:

1. Eating a healthful diet that includes
    fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds
    and legumes.
2. Maintaining a moderate weight and avoiding
    overweight and obesity.
3. Exercising and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle
4. Avoiding the use of tobacco products
5. Minimizing the use of alcohol and only
    drinking at moderation levels
6. Controlling hypertension
7. Managing diabetes
8. Marinating acceptable cholesterol levels
9. Abstaining from the use of illicit drugs

Secondary Stroke Prevention

In approximately 25% of the strokes each year, the cause of the stroke is unknown. In many of these cases, Atrial Fibrillation or AFB is indicated in patient. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Signs include dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. Treatment involves medication and lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures such as cardioversion, ablation, pacemakers, or surgery. (WEBMD) Cardiac diagnostics and monitoring could be helpful in minimizing the risk of a secondary stroke.

In other cases where the cause of the stroke is unknown, there is the possibility of a PFO. Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart. This hole exists in everyone before birth, but most often closes shortly after being born. PFO is what the hole is called when it fails to close naturally after a baby is born. A foramen ovale allows blood to go around the lungs. It has been hypothesized that many cryptogenic strokes are caused by small emboli that travel from the legs to the right atrium; during straining (such as a Valsalva maneuver) these emboli can go across a PFO into the left atrium and then travel to the brain, producing a stroke.


Monday, December 19, 2022



If you have visited our United Stroke Alliance or Stroke Camp web sites recently you will have noticed a significant change in them. We have partnered with a different web development company to help us keep up with technology and provide support in a timely manner with reasonable cost.

We are working to make sure everything gets transferred to the new websites in an orderly and timely manner. 

If you notice anything missing that you liked to see in the new sites please let us know by calling 1-309-688-5450 or emailing

If there is anything you'd like to see posted in this blog please let us know that too.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

7 Ways Caregivers Can Take Time To Care for Themselves


This article is by Harry Cline. His website is The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource: Advice, Tips, and Solutions from Around the Web. He has put together an article for new caregivers on the all-important topic of self-care.
7 Ways Caregivers Can Take Time
To Care for Themselves

Being a full-time caregiver is an emotionally and physically taxing
job. People with that level of selflessness often find it hard to take time for self-care, but they must. Consider these seven easy ways, shared below by Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp, that you can take care of yourself while you take care of others.

1. Get Some Exercise

Exercise is the easiest thing to throw away when you're short on free time. However, it's a necessity for your physical and mental health. You don't need several hours a day and a gym membership to get in some exercise. Simply take the stairs rather than the elevator or go for a brief walk during the day when you have a break. Even 15 minutes in the sunlight can change your overall mood.

2. Prioritize Nutrition

It's easy to grab something processed and unhealthy when you're on the move. Fast food is a quick fix that allows you to get right back to work quickly. However, these options offer little to no nutritional value If you want to keep your energy up. Take some time on the weekend to plan your snacks and meals for the week. You can still grab a burger every now and then, but you'll feel better overall with a well-balanced diet.

3. Meditate to Reduce Stress

Caregiving is a stressful job. You need an outlet to help you reduce stress daily. Research shows that meditation improves brain health and lowers cortisol levels when practiced regularly. Incorporate a few minutes of meditation into your morning every day to help reduce stress.

4. Spend Time With Loved Ones

Use your free time to nurture your relationships with the ones you love. This can be difficult for an introvert, but everyone needs community in their lives. Spending time with your loved ones will make you feel more connected to the world outside of your caregiving position.

5. Take Up a Relaxing Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to relax when you have a high-stress job. Think about something that you love to do and start investing more time into that hobby. Knitting, puzzles, yoga, baking, cooking, painting, and dancing are all excellent hobbies that produce more endorphins and eliminate stress. If you enjoy being outside, gardening has many benefits. You can soak up vitamin D, get some exercise, and grow nutritious foods to add to your diet.

6. Take a Short Trip

Allow yourself a weekend getaway every now and then. If you prefer some alone time, take a spa trip or go to your favorite beach location. If you want to create some quality memories with your family, take them along with you.

7. Appreciate the Simple Things

Don't forget to appreciate the simple things in life that can bring you joy. For a book lover, taking the time to sit down and read a good book can rejuvenate the mind. Slow down and take a bubble bath when you have a chance. It's a great way to relax. Take the time to cook a delicious meal and enjoy the finished product. You can find peace in the small joys.

Keep in mind that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others. Keep these tips with you to use when you start to feel burnt out or tired. It's okay to stop and help yourself when you're in need as well.

Harry Cline's email address:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

United Stroke Alliance Videos



This blog post contains many of the videos we have placed on our United Stroke Alliance Facebook page that I think the general public will find interesting and, hopefully, useful. Stroke awareness and prevention is United Stroke Alliance's main goal. You may visit our webpage at

The United Stroke Alliance Facebook group page is open to, dedicated to and limited to stroke survivors and their caregivers. All requests to join will be monitored by the United Stroke Alliance Facebook group administrator.  

I will be adding more videos to this blog as they are posted on the United Stroke Alliance Facebook page so visit the Archive link often. New videos will be added to the top of this blog post so you won't have to scroll down to find them. Currently we no longer have Facebook videos available on Facebook that are older than 30 days.

Any comments for this blog post will be appreciated, however, keep in mind, all comments are monitored before they are published. One important warning: To prevent spammers, imbedding links in your comment will result in your comment being rejected.

Videos are best displayed in full screen mode. On most devices, tapping or clicking on the video image will enlarge it a bit and display a small square in the bottom right corner of the image. Tapping or clicking on that small square should fill the entire screen with the video image.  

Tai Chi from a chair. Demonstrated by OSF Saint Francis Hospital students!

Tai Chi from a chair.  27 minute video

Ziplining at night at camp.

Stroke survivors ziplining at camp.

Marylee talks about how Amazon and Google devices can make life easier and more entertaining.  

Amazon and Google Devices   28 minute video


Marylee and her grand kids are discussing ways to de-clutter the house. Part 1 of 2


Marylee and her grand kids are discussing ways to de-clutter the house. Part 2 of 2


Cheri and Kelly Show you how to Tye Dye Stuff.

Cheri Kelly Tye Dye  23 minute video


Marylee shows how to liven up your baseball party with special baseball themed treats.

Marylee's Baseball Treats  23 minute video


Marylee talks about her experience with Aphasia in stroke survivors.

Experience With Aphasia  30 minute video


Marylee and CT Gabbert discuss home safety ideas for stroke survivors.

Home Safety Ideas  36 minute video


Marylee's 17 year old granddaughter has trained leader dogs for blind people and intends to train more. She tells her experiences in this video.

Fostering Leader Dogs  19 minute video 


Katie Lemkemann, trained chef and registered nurse at St. Francis Medical 

Center, Peoria, Illinois, presents some summer time fun cooking 
garden fresh creations.

Summer Time Fun Cooking  15 minute video


Marylee interviews four PT and OT OSF St. Francis graduates on stroke therapy as they emphasize how important it is to not give up on therapy.

Don't Give Up on Therapy.  29 minute video


Tuesday, April 12, 2022





Jean Carlson | Staff Volunteer United Stroke Alliance 

Well they say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and he did just that for me! Hi everyone, my name is Jean Carlson. In 2006 my cousin Heather had a stroke. A good friend of mine, Cheri told me about this stroke camp retreat weekend I should take her to. So that’s exactly what I did. In 2008 I signed us up and we went to camp! Having no idea what camp entailed, we were off to see what it was all about being both nervous and excited to go. 

Little did I know how much fun I would have that weekend. We went for 2 years in a row and then I became a mother to a sweet little girl. So I took some time off and decided I wanted to go back and be a volunteer for a camp this time. So, I did just that. Such a humbling and emotional experience for me. I then knew this was my passion and I was exactly where I needed to be. So, I continued volunteering and a few years later I had a sweet little boy so I took a bit more time off. 

Which leads me to 2017 where I was ready to come back being a volunteer once again, but little did I know I would be asked to become Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp staff. Through the grace of God and my amazing family, I have found my calling with this wonderful organization. Stroke Camp is very near and dear to my heart and I absolutely love meeting so many people and listening to their stories. We laugh, we cry (everyone who knows me knows I cry at camp all weekend), we get frustrated, happy, and sad all together in that weekend. We have this special bond that no one can take away from us. I love for stroke survivors to see that they aren’t alone in this world and to give them the passion to never give up and keep fighting every single day to get better. As we get ready to kick off this season of camps, I can’t wait to meet my new campers and my returning campers! I’m so very blessed by you all!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Stroke Survivor Story



This story is currently posted on our United Stroke Alliance web site, . I'm posting it here because many of you may not know that the above web site is there for you to visit. There is a wealth of knowledge there about us and what we do to spread the word about stroke prevention and recovery that you should learn about.
Mike Gamble - Stroke Survivor Story (Arizona)

SC: How did your stroke affect you?

MG: I didn’t know what went on. I woke up one morning and everything went haywire. My wife said I ended up on the floor, they flew me by helicopter down to [the hospital]. I had a brain aneurysm, and I had a 10-hour operation on my brain. [My doctor] told me nine out of ten guys that have this procedure don’t make it. So that’s why I’m happy to be here. Well, I was four months in a coma, and after the coma they put me into a rehab center. So my whole right side was affected. Then they came in and said to me, “There’s no more money, the insurance company won’t pay any more.” At that point I was finished with rehab. I didn’t have much rehab in the first place because every time I tried to do rehab I’d get dizzy, I’d get sick. It was seven months before I got back home.

SC: What do you want people who have had a stroke to know?

MG: I want to make sure people know that when you have a stroke and you are a stroke survivor, there is life after stroke. You got to get in with a good group. Our [stroke support] group is a big family. Our group is fabulous. We’re constantly on the phone checking with each other. If one of us goes to the hospital we get in there to see if anybody needs anything, just like family. So I want everybody to know that there is life after stroke.

The other thing is, you’ll never be the same, so get used to a new normal. Figure out what your new normal is. With the help of the group, it’s easy. You met [the music therapist at camp]. She is the greatest gal, she’s our music director. We have a great time in music. We write songs and we play them and sing them, and [the music therapist] has a thousand songs. She does a great job.

And I do dancing. Even in a wheelchair, I do dancing. I do aqua therapy in the swimming pool, where I walk the length of the pool holding onto the bars. And I can do small things around the house.

These are the things that you need to understand that are available after stroke. As Dr. Patrick told me, “You got to keep trying, keep fighting.” And that’s so true. Yes, I can give up and go to my bed and just hang in my bed all day, but it would get me nothing.

SC: What was your greatest accomplishment since your stroke?

MG: My greatest accomplishment? I think it’s still happening. It’s day-to-day living. It’s pushing and progressing every single day. There are some days that I don’t progress. I have good days, I have bad days, and I have worse days. But you got to get up and keep going. You can’t let it get you down.

I can take very few steps, I can walk with my walker a little, but my whole right side has no feeling. My fingers wouldn’t even work. So I just kept pulling them out and then closing them down, pulling them out and closing them down. You do that a couple hundred times they get smart enough to work.

They told me when they released me out of rehab, “You’re not going to get any more than you got. Don’t expect anything more than what you have right now. Your right side will never regenerate; it will never come back.” Well that’s B.S. It’s coming back, it’s coming back.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Eating Right After 60



The following information is provided by Harry Cline creator of The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource offers advice, tips, and solutions from around the web.

Harry Cline is also an author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Eating Right After 60: What Seniors Should Know About Nutrition

You may be less concerned with your figure at 60 than you were at 30, but eating a balanced diet is just as important as ever. A healthy diet keeps your weight down, your energy up, and your immune system strong as you grow older. Without it, you may struggle to accomplish everything you want to do in retirement.

Despite the importance of senior nutrition, many older adults aren’t well-educated on what a healthy diet looks like. That’s where this guide comes in. United Stroke Alliance and Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp hope the information below will help you plan a healthy, affordable diet that meets your nutritional needs in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.

How Your Body Changes with Age

For the most part, healthy eating looks the same at every age. However, older adults’ bodies undergo certain changes affecting their nutritional needs, such as:

  • Metabolism changes: As older adults lose muscle mass and become less active, their metabolism slows. As a result, seniors need fewer calories to maintain their weight. If you’re eating less, it’s even more important to choose nutrient-dense foods.

  • Digestive changes: Aging affects the gut microbiome, and these changes can affect your body’s ability to digest food properly. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, particularly deficiencies of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, as well as digestive ailments like constipation and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

  • Appetite changes: As you get older, you may notice you’re not as hungry as you once were. Appetite loss may be caused by a loss of taste or smell, medication side effects, or changes to a senior’s emotional health. Seniors with appetite loss are at risk of malnutrition.

If you’ve noticed changes to your digestive health, are experiencing unexplained weight gain or loss, or are struggling to eat due to low appetite, talk to your doctor. Seniors with diabetes or chronic kidney disease can receive no-cost nutritional therapy at their primary care doctor’s recommendation. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be eligible for a wellness program regardless of your health status. However, while many Medicare Advantage plans provide wellness benefits, not all do. Check your coverage to be sure you’re making the most of your health plan.

Maximizing Senior Nutrition on a Budget

Planning a high-nutrient, low-calorie diet is harder than it sounds. Add budget limitations to the mix, and it’s not hard to see why seniors get frustrated by meal planning. Use these tips to simplify meal time so you get the nutrition you need minus the stress:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables daily, but not always the same ones. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables in different colors to get the widest range of nutrients. If fresh food is too expensive, frozen fruits and vegetables and unsweetened canned or dried fruit are great budget-friendly alternatives.

  • Opt for low-fat dairy fortified with calcium and vitamin D to get these important nutrients without the calories of full-fat dairy.

  • If you work from home, make sure you set aside some time to prep healthy meals instead of relying on food delivery services like GrubHub.

  • Make water your beverage of choice, avoiding sweetened beverages which are calorie-dense with little nutritional value. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, a water filter is an economical alternative to buying bottled water.

  • Get more of your protein from beans. In addition to being a cheap source of protein, which many seniors don’t get enough of, beans are also high in dietary fiber. Some people experience gastrointestinal symptoms when eating beans, but this can be mitigated by introducing beans to your diet gradually. Other inexpensive protein sources include eggs, canned tuna, cottage cheese, quinoa, and chicken thighs.

  • Take a B12 supplement. Even with a balanced diet, many seniors don’t get enough vitamin B12. While eating dairy, eggs, lean protein, and other animal-based foods help you get vitamin B12, you may need a dietary supplement to ensure you’re getting enough.

Nutrition is only one part of healthy aging, but it is an important one. If you’re facing an obstacle that’s keeping you from eating well, whether it’s a lack of appetite, a low budget, or just old habits, talk to your doctor. With the right nutritional guidance, you can adopt a diet that keeps you healthy for life.


Blog editors note (suggestions from the internet):

How do you make soft food for those who find it hard to swallow?

Use milk, cream, or broth to mash vegetables like potatoes, yams, squash or carrots. Blend banana, melon, or frozen fruit into milkshakes or smoothies. Use gravy, broth or sauce to moisten meat, poultry or fish. Use cheese sauce to moisten vegetables, noodles or rice.

What to cook for someone who has trouble swallowing?

Those types of foods include cereals softened in milk, ground meat softened in sauce, cooked fruits and vegetables without skins or seeds, fish and casseroles. Severe dysphagia may require pureed food. “It's a pudding-like texture that's easier to hold in the mouth and swallow,”

Cottage cheese, yogurt, custard, pudding, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and other soft cheeses are all relatively easy and safe to swallow. You should, however, avoid pieces of hard cheeses, like cubes of cheddar or Swiss cheese, and any product that has added nuts, seeds or granola, such as certain varieties of yogurt.

Try canned fruit and cooked vegetables. Fruits or vegetables with tough skins or seeds such as pears, nectarines, apples, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, peas, corn, blackberries, raspberries. Try soft peeled, canned or strained fruit and cooked mashed vegetables.

What are the best soft foods to eat?

Here are some great go-to's that are actually satisfying:
Smoothies and shakes.
Yogurt, pudding and ice cream.
Smooth soups, or those with very soft chunks.
Mashed potatoes, or a soft baked potato without the skin.
Cooked fruits, like applesauce.
Ripe fruits, like bananas or peaches without the skin.

Image via Rawpixel

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Thanksgiving Tablescapes with Kelly




For this week and next you have access to Kelly's video where she shows you how to make Fall and Thanksgiving Tablescapes. Just click the link below and enjoy the show.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Are You Living Victoriously - By Phil Bell, retired, pastor



Street & Steeple

Are You Living Victoriously?


By Phil Bell, retired, pastor, University Baptist Church

What is your response when someone asks, “How are you?” I’ve heard all kinds of things from, ”Great!” to “Hang’n in there.” My usual response before my stroke was “wonderful.” Since then I’ve seen no reason to change it!

A good friend of mine always responds to that question with “Blessed” and I know that’s how he considers himself. For us Jesus followers there is no reason to respond any way but positively and victoriously. In John 10 Jesus tells us He came so that we might have life and have itabundantly!

What I consider my life verse is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. Romans 8:37 follows his list of things which could separate us from Christ’s love, but don’t. In verse 37 he writes, “But in all these things we are overwhelming conquerors through Christ who loved us.”

Indeed, though, due to the stroke, I am paralyzed on my entire left side, negating the ability to walk, my victorious life includes the ability to do my own grooming every day, take a shower regularly, and live at home, rather than in a long term care facility, thanks to my angelic wife, Nancy! 

In addition, thanks to my motorized wheelchair and ramp van I can go wherever it’s wise to go and Nancy will take me, including to the grocery store, Walmart, church and to my weekly Rotary meetings, Also I’m cognitively able to write these articles every so often! For me, that’s living an abundant life, victoriously!

After my stroke Satan lied to me, telling me my ministry and enjoyable life had ended, but he lied about both! I enjoy my life now thoroughly.

You may tell me I don’t know what you’re going through or I wouldn’t ask you to live victoriously. Indeed I don’t, but, whatever your situation I know you can be living victoriously, which means living an enjoyable life in which you are positively impacting the lives of others. With God’s help you can absolutely do so! The alternative is barely getting through one day to the next, waiting for death to put you out of your misery. That is no way for anyone to live!

First, I ask, “Do you know God personally?” Next, I ask again, “Are you living victoriously?”

- Phil Bell, retired, pastor, University Baptist Church

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Fall decorations with Kelly



This week I'm going to be lazy and let YouTube do all the work for me.

The two links below are a couple that our gracious volunteer Kelly made for us.

She is going to show you how to make some clever fall decorations.

We make three or four videos a week on various topics and post them on our Facebook page.

Many of this blog's viewers do not have access to that Facebook page because we limit it to stroke survivors, their caregivers, our volunteers, and medical teams. 

As you can see in these videos, we try to present some fun things along with the serious.

In the future I will post videos that deal with stroke as well as the fun ones such as you see here. This way those of you who do not have access to the Facebook page will be able to enjoy some of the things we share with stroke survivors and care givers.    

Fall decorations with Kelly:

More Fall decorations with Kelly:

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Family Stroke Camp



The following is an email that one of our Stroke Camp stroke survivors, John Kindschuh, sent us. He does an excellent job describing what all of our camp attendees experience and enjoy. I want to share it with you in case you have been thinking about joining us sometime but were not quite sure what we are all about, and let him show some of the things available at our camps. In his article John is referring to the family camp is unique in that  we include children. So far we do a family camp only in Illinois. Our other camps around the country are for adults only. 


From: John Kindschuh
Date: August 18, 2021 at 4:41:45 PM CDT

Subject: Re: Newsletter: Stroke Camp

I hope that you all are well. Unlike last year, we were able to take a few family vacations this summer, and one of those vacations was to experience the Family Stroke Camp in northern Illinois.

I. Background

I am so grateful that we attended Stroke Camp this year. The retreatants, caregivers, volunteers, and coordinators are exceedingly understanding to those of us with disabilities; I wish that all members of our society would treat me with respect. I cannot say enough good things about Stroke Camp, as it is one of the best weekends, if not the highlight, of my entire year.

While at stroke camp, we do lots of fun things. Among other things, we play team games (water balloon throw, tossing frisbees, sack races, etc.), perform skits, have campfire activities, receive massages, swim, break out into survivor and caregiver groups, perform drum circles, and attend presentations. The kids play with volunteers when we are busy, so the staff already has thought of having built-in childcare when the adults are unavailable. The patience required by all parties is astronomical. It was nice that we can do things at a slower pace with people who truly understand our limitations.

It recently struck me that Stroke Camp is about building community. It is like a family reunion of sorts, as we are interacting with people that I usually see only periodically. These people not only understand me, but also are my friends. Lifelong friends.

For more information about the origins of Stroke Camp, I encourage you to read Sarah Christy’s book Keep Going. Sarah was the director of the family camp for over 10 years. In this book, she explores the creative thought behind Stroke Camp.


II. Why I Love Stroke Camp

There are dozens of reasons why my family and I adore Stroke Camp, but I wanted to identify five of these considerations for your reflection.

1) Entire Family. We attend the family camp, so Cindy and our three children are welcome to come. Usually only I attend various stroke events, so happily, my entire family is also able to experience this weekend. This spirit of inclusivity is a rarity.

2) All Ages. When I first attended, I was shocked because I was not the only young person there. I interacted with a young man who had his stroke when he was 18 years old. I also talked with a woman who had a stroke when she was 41 years old. Granted, I usually have the youngest children there, but for the first time since my stroke, I felt I was among people my own age.

3) Acceptance. I feel “normal” during the entire time of camp. People listen to me and wait for me to walk slower. Sadly, people in our society do not prioritize patience, and therefore, they marginalize stroke survivors. Happily (and often unusually), I feel as if I make a significant difference here.

4) Challenges. We are encouraged to try things that we have never done before. For example, this year I tried archery (Editor note: not available at all camps). I described the following on Facebook: “Family Stroke Camp is one of the highlights of my year for many reasons. For example, I am encouraged to try something new instead of giving up simply because of my stroke. I thought that I would never have the coordination to do archery again; there is no way that I could have stabilized a bow much less fired an arrow even six months ago. It was an understatement to say that I was excited to hit the target three consecutive times! I encourage you to never give up and not be defined by any limitations.”

5) Other Families. My children interact on a regular basis with other families who struggle with stroke. One year, I met a father who had a stroke two weeks after his daughter was born. Another year, I talked with a man who had a stroke while his wife was pregnant. Significantly, my children are able to see other families that manage life with a stroke as we are not the only people dealing with these ramifications.

Importantly, if you know someone who could benefit from this experience, please share this email with him or her. For additional information, refer to the following website:

Additionally, if you are interested, you can read an April 2018 article highlighting my entire family during a Stroke Camp: