Archive for November, 2009

Sleep is sometimes elusive for seniors in Joliet

Sleep is sometimes elusive for seniors in Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, LockportOptimal daytime alertness requires about eight hours of sleep in every 24-hour period. We all know that, but for many millions of people, it “ain’t necessarily so…” Picture a TV commercial of an adult coming awake with a gentle smile, sitting up and stretching, thinking of the exciting day ahead. Well, that’s TV. In reality, some people struggle with sleep their entire lives. Others can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. But as people age, sleep can become a nightly aspiration that is frustratingly just out of reach.

For seniors, there are four common symptoms of sleep problems: waking too early, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep, and trouble staying sleep.

Reasons for poor sleep in the elderly are chronic medical illnesses, medication effects, psychiatric disorders, primary sleep disorders, social changes, poor sleep habits and/or circadian rhythm shifts. And this is not just inconvenient; there can be serious potential problems. Loss of sleep can lead to falls and accidents. Sleep apnea may have serious cardiovascular, pulmonary and central nervous system effects.

For all of these reasons, sleep problems in elderly people should not be brushed aside; seniors with such dilemmas should be properly evaluated and treated.

According to, no matter what age, a person’s sleeping well is essential to physical health and emotional well-being. In fact for seniors, a good night’s sleep is especially important because it improves concentration and memory formation. It allows the body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and it refreshes the immune system which helps to prevent disease.

A National Sleep Foundation poll of older adults found a close relationship between the health and quality of life of older adults, and their sleep quantity and quality. It found that the better the health of older adults, the more likely they are to sleep well. Conversely, the greater the number of diagnosed medical conditions, the more likely they are to experience sleep problems.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends six tips for better sleep:

  • exercise in the afternoon,
  • avoid stimulants such as caffeine for at least three or four hours before bed,
  • go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time each morning,
  • use the bed only for sleep or sexual activity,
  • avoid alcohol in the later evening, and
  • try taking naps, but remember that sleep in the daytime affects sleep at night.

If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music. When you feel sleepy, get back in bed and try again. If not successful in 20 minutes, repeat.

And it won’t hurt to remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”


Laughter is the best medicine for seniors in Joliet

Laughter is good medicine for seniors in Shorewood, Joliet, Plainfield, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, LockportA good belly laugh sure feels good, doesn’t it? Medical experts have known for a long time that laughter promotes well being and reduces stress for all ages. For seniors, it also generates positive thoughts and lifts sadness and loneliness. It’s just good therapy. It’s also free.

Laughter has been proven to reduce pain. From Laughter Remedy, Paul McGhee, PhD. writes, “A nurse once told me of a Methodist minister who had been in a serious accident and had to spend several weeks in the hospital. He had a lot of pain, and was given shots to reduce it. The procedure was always the same. When the pain got bad enough, he would ring a buzzer near his bed, and a nurse would soon come to give him the shot. One day, he rang for the nurse and then rolled over on his side (with his back to the door), pulled his hospital gown up over his exposed backside, and waited for the nurse to come in. When he heard the door open, he pointed to his right bare buttock and said, ‘Why don’t you give me the shot right here this time?’

After a few moments of silence, he looked up. It was a woman from his church! The minister, realizing what he had done, started laughing. He laughed so hard that tears were coming out of his eyes when the nurse arrived. When he tried to explain what had happened, he began laughing even harder. When he was finally able to tell the nurse the whole story, what do you think he noticed? His pain was gone! He didn’t need the shot, and didn’t ask for one for another 90 minutes.”

Medical experts tell us that besides reducing pain and stress, laughter can boost the immune system, relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and cleanse the lungs.

According to Dr. William Fry from Stanford University, one minute of laughter is equal to ten minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter stimulates heart and blood circulation like aerobic exercise. Laughter exercise is especially well suited for seniors, sedentary people and those who are confined to a bed or wheelchair.

In the field of senior care, we know that laughter clubs are popular in assisted living or retirement homes. And why not? Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict, and nothing works faster or more dependably to bring the mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens burdens, inspires hopes, connects one to others, and keeps a senior grounded, focused, and alert. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for seniors to deal with their problems, enhance their relationships, and support both physical and emotional health.

Here are five great quotes about laughter as medicine.

“You cannot be mad at somebody who makes you laugh. It’s as simple as that.”
Jay Leno

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

“Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.”
Elsa Maxwell

“I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me to be the most civilized music in the world.”
Peter Ustinov

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”
Michael Pritchard


Veteran seniors in Joliet may qualify for additional aid

senior veterans aid assisted living, assisted living Shorewood, assisted living Joliet, assisted living Plainfield, assisted living Channahon, assisted living Crest Hill,There is a nationwide public relations campaign going on to raise awareness of a little known government pension available to wartime veterans or surviving spouses. Many people are eligible for this, but they aren’t collecting because they don’t know about it.

According to, if you are a senior age 65 or older and served in WW II, Korea, Vietnam or the Persian Gulf or if you are the surviving spouse of someone who served, you may be eligible for a pension called the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. This pension can provide up to $1,632 per month to a veteran, $1,055 per month to a surviving spouse, or $1,949 per month to a couple.

To qualify medically, a person must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks such as eating, dressing, undressing, taking care of the needs of nature, etc. Also qualifying are people who are blind or in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity, or residing in an assisted living facility.

To qualify financially, your countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by Congress.

For example, a claimant’s physician must declare the veteran as housebound and in need of assistance from another individual which may include services offered by assisted living. Also the veteran must have served at least 90 days Active Duty with one day of the 90 during a war period.

If you think you may qualify for Aid and Attendance Pension, contact your local or regional Veterans’ Administration. There are a number of papers to collect and fill out, but patience now may make a significant difference in you or your loved one’s quality of living.

To gather information, some helpful websites are or In addition, some law firms specialize in filing for the Aid and Attendance Improved Pension.

The Timbers of Shorewood will present an informational seminar at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, 2009  at 1100 N. River Road Shorewood, IL. Robert Hart of the American Association for Wartime Veterans (AAWV) will present a free informational seminar about veterans’ benefits which may be available to qualifying veterans, widowed spouses or disabled adult children.

This seminar is free and open to the public. For more information, call Judy Malin at (815) 609-0669.


Seniors in Joliet and the flu

Flu ShotSeasonal flu is especially dangerous for seniors over 65 and others with weak immune systems. The viral infection can exhaust the body making it easy for life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia to take hold. It can also worsen the symptoms of conditions like heart disease, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

With seasonal flu, seasons vary in terms of timing, duration and severity.  Each year in the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and the combination of flu and pneumonia is the cause of at least 36,000 deaths. Ninety percent of these deaths are people over age 65.

However, this flu season could be worse because of the virus 2009 H1N1. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) expects both 2009 H1N1 flu and seasonal flu to cause illness, hospital stays and deaths this season and is preparing for an early and possibly severe flu season. However, the 2009 H1N1 (earlier referred to as “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus first detected in people in the United States in April 2009.

Swine flu is a virus infection which can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like seasonal flu, swine flu can vary from mild to severe. Severe disease with pneumonia, respiratory failure and even death is possible with swine flu infection.

Certain groups may be more likely to develop a severe illness from swine flu, such as pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. Flu viruses generally spread when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and land on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Flu viruses can also spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands.

Everyone age 50 and older should get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. Most seniors do not appear to be at high-risk for the H1N1 (Swine) flu, but they should get the H1N1 vaccine when it’s available to them. However, seniors who have health conditions associated with a higher risk of flu complications should get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible.

Three recommendations from the CDC:

  • Get a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza. Ask your doctor if you should get a 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
  • Take everyday preventive actions such as hand washing and covering the mouth during a cough or sneeze.
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing.
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