Westmont Living’s Nutrition Tips for Brain Health

Diet and exercise is the key to good health at any age, but particularly as you grow older. Current research says a brain-healthy diet encourages good blood flow to the brain, is low in fat and cholesterol, and includes vibrant foods rich in antioxidants. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients to function well. To be most effective, a brain healthy diet should be combined with physical and mental activity and social

Peter Do, senior director of Culinary Services at Westmont Living (westmontliving.com), which owns Mariposa at Ellwood Shores in Goleta, says there are a variety of foods that help to maintain brain health. He recommends:

· Eat in moderation; increase intake of protective foods that may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and protect brain cells.

· Avoid artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol that can put you at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. “Remember to stay away from trans-fats, and stick with mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil or avocado oil that are very good for you,” said Do. “The preferred preparation is to bake or grill and not to fry. But if you want to fry something, then use canola oil, which is cholesterol-free. Also, when eating something like chicken, it is okay to grill it with the skin on to keep the meat moist, but remove the skin before serving and eating it.”

· Eat dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, which have the highest levels of naturally occurring antioxidants. These include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets, red bell pepper, onion, corn, and eggplant. “Celery is also a great
source of antioxidants,” said Do. “Garlic also plays an important role in healthy eating. Chinese dishes have a lot of ginger and garlic, both of which makes them more healthy.”

· Choose vibrant, antioxidant-rich fruits such as plums, prunes, raisins,blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, red grapes, and cherries.

· Cold-water fish containing beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are the best. Some
examples are halibut, mackerel, salmon, lake trout, and sardines.

· Eat nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts, which are a good source of vitamin
E, an antioxidant. “Nuts can be a good substitute for people who need omega-3
but do not like the taste of seafood,” said Do.

When asked about nutritional supplements, Do explained, “Not all food experts mention supplements because they are focused on a healthy eating program. However, we know that there are supplements which are especially supportive of brain health such as vitamin E, or vitamins E and C together, vitamin B12, and folate. All may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A brain-healthy diet will help your body use these vitamins effectively. Remember, for the best absorption, always take vitamins with food. You should check with your medical provider about which vitamins and how much are
safe for you.”

Westmont Living communities such as Mariposa at Ellwood Shores customize their dining program and take advantage of seasonal produce. “Santa Barbara has great
local produce, and we work with many local companies,” said Do, who frequently offers
salmon and fresh fish from nearby waters. “Our residents enjoy the trout and halibut
and love tuna. There are also more vegetarian options such as tofu and eggplant dishes.”
The facility’s Dine Your Way program connects culinary directors with residents
on a monthly basis. “So there are no one-size fits-all menus,” said Do.

See westmontliving.com.

Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.

Time to Move to a Senior Living Facility?

Time to Move to Senior Living Facility, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Time to Move to Senior Living Facility, Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Westmont Living Experts Answer This Question and More

Today’s seniors and their loved ones have an abundance of choices when it’s time to move into a retirement community. But there remain many factors to consider when deciding the timing of that transition and determining which location is best for you. Experts from Westmont Living, which owns Mariposa at Ellwood Shores in Goleta, share their insights.

How do you know when it’s time to choose senior living?

“Ideally, families should start looking for an appropriate senior living community when when there isn’t a sense of urgency,” said Nick Begane, community relations director at Mariposa at Ellwood Shores, a senior community offering independent and assisted living as well as memory-care options.

Waiting lists can be very long for desirable senior living situations. Can you get on a waiting list even if you’re not quite ready to move?

“A family should start their research at least one year ahead of your desired move,” said Jack McCarty, vice president of sales and marketing for Westmont Living, which also runs The Oaks in Nipomo and will open The Oaks in Paso Robles in 2021. “When you find a place that meets a majority of your criteria, consider placing a deposit with the community so that you can secure a place when you are ready or when they have an opening.”

How can you tell if a place is right for you?

“Some communities allow short-term or respite stays,” said McCarty. “This allows for your parent(s) to spend time getting to know the community, those that work there, and to enjoy the amenities firsthand. Interestingly, some people stay rather than move out again. When that happens, it’s a win-win for the seniors and their families.”

What questions should you ask about a community?

• Is the building secure and do they follow the recommended CDC guidelines?

• How competent is their health support? Are they licensed to provide health services? Are nurses on-site every day? What are their COVID-19 procedures?

• Does the building look like a place that you would like to live?

• Do they have a fitness center or exercise options for optimum health and wellness?

• Is therapy after hospitalization available?

• Does the dining program provide the right menus?

“Once you have determined that a particular community is a good fit for your family member, then meet with a community relations person to review the payment structure and termination and refund policies,” said Begane.

How can you best learn about the culture and vibe?

“Ask to see the community schedule and look at the quality of the activities available and the frequency of social activities,” said McCarty. “Find out if the community can support the mind, body, and spiritual needs of your parent(s).

Stop by and have lunch and spend time observing your new home.”


 short-term memory loss

 forgetting to pay bills

 not managing personal affairs

disorientation of time and place

 loss of normal judgement, such as making an illogical approach to a problem

 not cooking or eating regularly

 loss of weight

 poor home maintenance (dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, and clutter)

 poor personal hygiene (not bathing regularly, repeatedly wearing the same clothes without washing)

 not taking medication or following medicine instructions

 losing touch with friends, not socializing or participating in favorite activities

 showing signs of depression, like sleeping or crying

Westmont Living: westmontliving.com

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.


Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.