Archive for the ‘Senior Wellness Tips’ Category
Hmmm. I misplaced my memory. Everyone “of a certain age” knows the frustration and/or embarrassment of being unable to remember something – names, book titles, where the keys are, etc. Most of this is normal, and certainly it’s not a reason for panic.
According to familydoctor.org, information is stored in different parts of your memory like this:
• Information stored in recent memory may include what you ate for breakfast this morning.
• Information stored in the short-term memory may include the name of a person you met moments ago.
• Information stored in the remote or long-term memory includes things that you stored in your memory years ago, such as memories of childhood.
It is true that a person loses brain cells from the time of young adulthood. The body, too, starts to make less of the chemicals brain cells need to work. The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory. Also aging may affect memory by changing the way the brain stores information and by making it harder to recall stored information. Short-term and remote memories aren’t usually affected by aging. But recent memory may be affected.
At least half of those over age 65 say that they are more forgetful than they were when they were younger, experiencing “senior moments” about things like where they put things or recalling somebody’s name. Forgetting a friend’s name or not remembering a lunch date is something that most people without dementia do from time to time.
Of course, increasing forgetfulness should be checked out by the doctor. But for the annoying absentmindedness that plagues almost all older adults, remember (ha!) to keep a sense of humor.
Six Great Tips to Boost Memory: (www.seniorsforliving.com )
• Puzzle power: Brain activities like crossword puzzles or Sudoku can help keep the mind clear and focused.
• Lifelong learning: Stimulating mental activities like attending a lecture can aid in memory retention.
• Tea time: Have a cup or two of green tea. Studies have shown that green tea extracts improves cognition and spatial awareness in rats.
• Breathe out: Don’t stress. Some of the most common memory zaps include stress and anxiety. Activities like reading or meditation can help the brain stay clear.
• Social butterfly: Maintain strong social ties through social groups to help preserve memory.
• Get moving: Daily exercise for half an hour a day such as walking or jogging can help improve memory.
The Timbers of Shorewood is a rental retirement community which provides independent living and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact Shelly Goggins at (815) 609-0669.
Oh my aching knee… so says someone with arthritis – one of the most prevalent chronic health problems in America. According to arthritis.org, 46 million people suffer from it. That’s one in five adults. That’s a lot.
Arthritis strikes more women than men, and half of those Americans with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to help them. Of course, Baby Boomers are now at prime risk. More than half those affected are under age 65.
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints which results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects the joint, allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like when a person walks. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is more likely to occur with aging. It may be felt in any joint, but according to Mayo Clinic, (www.mayoclinic.com) the most common affected joints are hands, hips, knees, neck and lower back.
Factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis include older age, gender, bone deformities, joint injuries, obesity, and certain occupations that involve repetitive stress on a particular joint. Also people with gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease of bone or septic arthritis are at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.
The bad news is osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But osteoarthritis treatments can relieve pain and help maintain an active lifestyle.
The following are ideas that can help a great deal:
- If you’re experiencing pain or inflammation in your joint, rest it for 12 to 24 hours. Find activities that don’t require repetitive movement. Try taking a 10-minute break every hour.
- With the doctor’s approval, get regular exercise. Stick to gentle exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise can increase endurance and strengthen the muscles around the joint, making the joint more stable. Avoid exercising tender, injured or swollen joints. If you feel new joint pain, stop. New pain that lasts more than two hours after you exercise probably means you’ve overdone it.
- Being overweight or obese increases the stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees and your hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can relieve some pressure and reduce your pain. Aim to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week, at most. Most people combine changes in their diet with increased exercise.
- Both heat and cold can relieve pain in your joint. Heat also relieves stiffness and cold can relieve muscle spasms. Soothe a painful joint with heat using a heating pad, hot water bottle or warm bath. Heat should be warm, not hot. Apply heat for 20 minutes several times a day. Cool the pain in your joint with cold treatments such as with ice packs. You can use cold treatments several times a day, but don’t use cold treatments if you have poor circulation or numbness.
- Creams and gels available at the drugstore may provide temporary relief from osteoarthritis pain. Some creams numb the pain by creating a hot or cool sensation. Other creams contain medications, such as aspirin-like compounds, that are absorbed into your skin. Pain creams work best on joints that are close the surface of your skin, such as your knees and fingers.
- Assistive devices can make it easier to go about your day without stressing your painful joint. A cane may take weight off your knee or hip as you walk. Gripping and grabbing tools may make it easier to work in the kitchen if you have osteoarthritis in your fingers. Your doctor or occupational therapist may have ideas about what sorts of assistive devices may be helpful to you. Catalogs and medical supply stores also may be places to look for ideas.
And finally, learn about living your best life with arthritis. Understand the challenges and changes arthritis brings on and how they affect relationships and families. Find practical solutions to make daily activities easier as well as the information you need to deal with health insurance and the cost of care.
The DASH diet is making news and with good reason. It is bringing down the blood pressures of many many people. By following the DASH diet, a person can reduce blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks. Over time, blood pressure could drop by eight to 14 points, and this can make a significant difference in health risks.
According to mayo clinic, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The plan calls for reduced sodium in the diet and says to eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, it emphasizes portion size, eating a variety of foods and getting the right amount of nutrients.
This eating plan received the top ranking from an expert panel in US New & World Reports published in June, 2011 (dashdiet.org), and it is endorsed by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services), and a host of other respected health organizations.
Because the DASH diet is a healthy way of eating, it offers health benefits besides lowering blood pressure. It may offer protection against osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And while the DASH diet is not a weight-loss program, many people do lose unwanted pounds because it offers guidance toward healthier meals and snacks.
In a nutshell, the DASH eating plan advocates food choices that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole-grain products, nuts, poultry, and fish are strongly promoted. The diet also includes some fish, poultry and legumes. You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts.
Adopting the DASH, or any life-prolonging eating plan, requires a commitment to living it, not dabbling in it. The best likelihood of success is making the changeover gradually. According to netplaces.com, the following suggestions are in keeping with the DASH diet:
- Cut back meat portions by a third or half.
- Use more vegetables, pasta, and beans, and cut back meat in one-dish meals like stir-fry or casseroles.
- Have a couple of vegetarian meals each week.
- Add a serving of vegetables to lunch and dinner.
- Make substitutions to get to three fat-free or low-fat dairy servings a day such as skim milk instead of soda or wine.
- Eat fruit for a snack or add it to a meal.
Grains include bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Focus on whole grains. For instance, use brown rice instead of white rice, whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta and whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Grains are naturally low in fat, so avoid spreading on butter or adding cream and cheese sauces.
Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and other vegetables are full of fiber and vitamins. A hearty blend of vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles can serve as the main dish for a meal. When buying frozen and canned vegetables, choose those labeled as low sodium or without added salt.
Like vegetables, fruits are packed with fiber, potassium and magnesium and are typically low in fat. Exceptions include avocados and coconuts. Leave on edible peels whenever possible. Citrus fruits and juice, such as grapefruit, can interact with certain medications, so check with the doctor or pharmacist to see if they’re OK.
Choose dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free. Low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt can help boost the amount of dairy products while offering a sweet treat. Go easy on regular and even fat-free cheeses because they are typically high in sodium.
Don’t make meats a mainstay. Cut back typical meat portions by one-third or one-half and pile on the vegetables instead. Examples of one serving include 1 oz. cooked skinless poultry, seafood or lean meat, 1 egg, or 1 oz. water-packed, no-salt-added canned tuna. Trim away skin and fat from meat and then broil, grill, roast or poach instead of frying. Eat heart-healthy fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna.
The DASH diet provides 30 percent or less of daily calories from fat with a focus on the healthier unsaturated fats. Saturated fat and trans fat are the main dietary culprits in raising cholesterol and increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. Trans fat are found in processed food such as crackers, baked goods and fried items. DASH helps keep daily saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories by limiting use of meat, butter, cheese, whole milk, cream and eggs, along with foods made from lard, solid shortenings, and palm and coconut oils.
As for sweets, don’t banish them, but go easy. Choose fat-free or low-fat sweets such as sorbets, fruit ices, jelly beans, hard candy, graham crackers or low-fat cookies.
New research shows that following the DASH diet over time will reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease as well as kidney stones. The benefits of the DASH diet have also been seen in teens with hypertension. The DASH diet truly is a diet for everyone.
Many people set resolutions to “lose weight,” but not to reach a “healthy weight,” and there is a big difference. In order to become healthier, seniors need to know why excess weight is so bad for the human body, what a healthy weight range is, and steps needed to reach a healthy weight.
In terms of overall health, the World Health Organization reports that excess weight and obesity contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. In addition, excess weight negatively affects blood pressure and cholesterol and puts increased strain on joints.
Mentally, obesity can lead to low self esteem because of feelings of rejection, social discrimination, unattractiveness, and guilt from a perceived lack of self control. All of these add up to a very high cost to carry excess weight.
What is a healthy weight? According to WebMD.com, one common method for determining a healthy weight range is to use a body mass index (BMI), however, BMI does not take into account how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat. Another tool is to use waist circumference. For men, waist circumference should not exceed 40 inches and women, unless pregnant, should not exceed 35 inches. There are more accurate tests to determine BMI and waist circumference should not be seen as the gold standard for healthy weight measures, they are helpful for establishing a target weight range.
There is no magic bullet to lose weight. Until science produces effective medications, it always has been and it always will be – eat less and move more. Eating less doesn’t mean volume-wise but calorie-wise. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables is step one. Another idea is to substitute low fat dairy products for full fat and choose leaner cuts of meat. Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates.
Some foods, while high calorie, have significant health benefits. These include the healthy fats in avocados and nuts as well as the fiber in beans. These foods can be eaten in moderation. Sodium and sugar intake needs to be in moderation, too. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and too much sugar will cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Also, drink plenty of water.
Physical activity is a key ingredient to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. The best way is to find things you love doing. Take a walk, ride a bike, or swim laps at a local pool. If dancing is a passion, find a class. The “sneak in exercise” approach includes parking in the furthest spot, take grocery bags out of the car one at a time, walk to the mailbox instead of driving, and pace around the table while talking on the phone. These measures add up.
To end on a humorous note, some apt proverbs:
- Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. ~English Proverb
- Your stomach shouldn’t be a “waist” basket. ~Author Unknown
Watching network TV for an evening is a blur of commercials, many of them health related. Each remedy promises easy solutions to a host of ailments. It’s easy to understand the appeal of these promises, but there is still plenty of truth to the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Today, there are more ways than ever to sell untested products. In addition to TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, infomercials, mail, telemarketing, and even word-of-mouth, these products are now offered over the Internet—with websites describing miracle cures and emails telling stories of overnight magic. Sadly, older people are often the target of such scams.
According to National Institute on Aging, the problem is serious. Untested remedies may be harmful. They may be dangerous when used with medicines prescribed by the doctor, they may waste money, and sometimes, using these products keeps people from getting the medical treatment they need.
Living with a chronic health problem is difficult, so it’s easy to see why people might fall for a false promise of a quick and painless cure. What makes the elderly so vulnerable to this kind of thing? After all, they’re not stupid. They are, however, trusting. They don’t expect crooks to be calling them. They want to take people at their word. They don’t want to appear rude by hanging up on a caller.
According to Associate Content.com Elderly people also tend to worry about their health and the increasing costs of medical care, and this makes them vulnerable to scams offering phony health insurance. In addition, elderly people are embarrassed about falling for such scams and don’t want their children to find out. They may fear that their children will think they are no longer competent to care for themselves and may worry about losing their independence.
Typically, ads or telemarketing calls target diseases that have no cures like diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cancer cures
- Anti-aging medications
- Arthritis remedies
- Memory aids
- Dietary supplements
- Health insurance
Question what you see or hear in ads, telephone calls, or on the internet. Find out about a product before you buy. Don’t let a salesperson talk you into making a snap decision. Most important, check with your doctor first.
Look for red flags in ads or promotional material that:
- Promise a quick or painless cure
- Claim the product is made from a special, secret, or ancient formula
- Offer products and services only by mail
- Use statements or unproven case histories from so-called satisfied patients
- Claim to be a cure for a wide range of ailments
- Claim to cure a disease (such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease) that hasn’t been cured by medical science
- Promise a no-risk, money-back guarantee
- Offer an additional “free” gift or a larger amount of the product as a “special promotion”
- Require advance payment and claim there is a limited supply of the product
Two Federal government agencies work to protect people from health scams. The Federal Trade Commission can help you spot fraud. The Food and Drug Administration protects the public by assuring the safety of prescription drugs, biological products, medical devices, food, cosmetics, and radiation-emitting products. If you have questions about a product, again talk to your doctor.
What causes that dark, unsightly mark on a limb known as a bruise? Unable to remember bumping into anything, an older adult may be baffled about how a new bruise happened. It’s common to experience easy bruising with increasing age, because blood vessels become more fragile with age.
Bruises result when trauma or a blow to the body damages or ruptures tiny blood vessels under the skin. Not only are the elderly more prone to bruising, less force is required to cause a bruise. And with greater impact, deeper bruises of the muscles or bone can happen, which take longer to heal.
According to A Place for Mom, the medical term for a bruise is a contusion. What happens is blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually the body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. If a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard, it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.
Some people – especially women – are more prone to bruising than are others. In fact, several factors may contribute to increased bruising, including (Mayo Clinic):
- Aging capillaries – Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.
- Thinning skin – With age, skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels against injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates the aging process in the skin.
Generally, the harder the blow, the larger the bruise. However, if a person bruises easily, a minor bump – one they may not even notice – can result in substantial discoloration. Arms and legs are typical locations for bruises.
Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) or medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix) reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Because of this, bleeding from capillary damage that would normally stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing enough blood to leak out to cause a bruise.
In addition, certain dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo also may increase bruising, because these supplements have a blood-thinning effect. Make certain the doctor knows about any supplements.
Below are some steps to take to prevent bruising from falls and collisions:
- Hold the handrails on stairways.
- Don’t stand on a chair to get to something.
- Clear floors where you walk.
- Mount grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
- Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
- Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
- Tack down all carpets and area rugs.
- Always close cabinet doors and drawers so you won’t run into them.
- Be especially careful around pets.
Sniff, sniff. Imagine the smell of a stargazer lily or of fresh baked bread. Imagine throwing open the window on one of spring’s first warm days and smelling the sweet air. These are some of life’s free gifts.
But also imagine if smell was missing. None of us really notice all the smells around us, but for those whose sense of smell is diminished or missing, it can be a significant loss.
Olfaction is the sense of smell. It’s part of a person’s chemical sensing system, along with the sense of taste. Normal smell occurs when odors around a person, like the fragrance of flowers or the smell of baking bread, stimulate specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory cells which are located in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose.
Odors reach the olfactory sensory cells via two pathways. The first pathway is by inhaling, or sniffing, through the nose. When people think about smell, they generally think of this pathway.
The second pathway is less familiar. It is a channel that connects the roof of the throat region to the nose. When chewing food, aromas are released that access olfactory sensory cells through this channel. Congestion due to a head cold or sinus infection can block this channel, which temporarily affects the ability to enjoy the flavors of food.
But what are odors? They are small molecules that are easily evaporated and released into the environment and that stimulate these sensory cells. Once the olfactory sensory cells detect the odor molecules, they send signals to the brain, where the person can identify the smell and its source.
For most people, a problem with smell is a minor irritation, but for others it may be a sign of a more serious disease or long-term health condition. According to the National Institute of Health, problems with smell become more common as people get older.
- 24.5 percent (15 million) of Americans 55 years old or older have a smell problem.
- 30 percent of older Americans between the ages of 70 and 80 have a problem with the sense of smell.
- Two out of three people over 80 have a problem with their sense of smell.
- A person’s sense of smell generally declines when he or she is over 60.
- Only one to two percent of people under the age of 65 will experience some problem with their sense of smell.
- Women of all ages are generally better at detecting odors than men.
There are five types of smell loss:
- Presbyosmia – Smell that declines with age. It is not preventable.
- Hyposmia – The ability to detect certain odors is reduced. This smell disorder is common in people who have upper respiratory infections or nasal congestion. This is usually temporary and goes away when the infection clears up.
- Anosmia – This is when someone can’t detect odor at all. This type of smell disorder is sometimes the result of head trauma in the nose region, usually from an automobile accident or chronic nasal or sinus infections.
- Dysosmia – This is a change in the perception of odors. Familiar odors may become distorted, or an odor that usually smells pleasant instead smells foul. Sometimes people with this type of smell disorder also experience headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, or anxiety.
- Phantosmia – This is when someone perceives a smell that isn’t present at all.
If someone thinks they have a smell disorder, it’s time to visit the doctor. Diagnosis is important because once the cause is found, the doctor may be able to treat it. Many types of smell problems are reversible, but if they are not, counseling and self-help techniques may help the person cope.
There is a fountain of youth, and millions have discovered it. The secret to feeling better and living longer is staying active. The quest is finding a program that works and sticking with it.
Well, why don’t more of us do it? Because many seniors just hate to exercise. Enjoying exercise may seem impossible, but it can be done. Almost any exercise may feel hard at first but, with some practice and consistency, the body gets stronger and that feels good. Will power is needed, especially at first.
But oh, the benefits… Regular exercise can prevent or delay diabetes and heart trouble. It can also reduce arthritis pain, anxiety and depression. It can help older people stay independent longer.
- Strength exercises build muscles and increase metabolism, which helps to keep weight and blood sugar in check. This type of exercise also builds “staying power” and improves the health of the heart and circulatory system.
- Balance exercises build leg muscles, and this helps to prevent falls. According to the The National Institutes of Health (NIH), American hospitals have 300,000 admissions for broken hips each year, many of them seniors, and falling is often the cause of those fractures.
- Stretching exercises provide more freedom of movement which allow a person to be more active during his or her senior years. However, stretching exercises alone will not improve endurance or strength.
- Endurance exercises are any activity—walking, jogging, swimming, biking —that increases heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Endurance should be built gradually, starting with as little as five minutes at a time.
Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Being physically active can help one continue to do enjoyable things and stay independent.
Regular physical activity over long periods of time can produce long-term health benefits. That’s why health experts say that older adults should be active every day to maintain their health.
In addition, regular exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing certain diseases and disabilities that develop as people grow older. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking. In fact, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. (nia.nih.gov)
One of the great things about physical activity is that there are so many ways to be active. For example, one can be active in short spurts throughout the day, or for a specific time of the day on specific days of the week. Sky’s the limit on choices!
Many physical activities — such as brisk walking or taking the stairs — are free or low cost and do not require special equipment.
Seniors should select something that fits their personalities and lifestyles such as group fitness, Wii fitness games, exercise TV, and exercise videos.
According to nihseniorhealth.gov, a person is more likely to become active on a regular basis if he or she:
- chooses enjoyable activities,
- is able to fit them into the schedule,
- believe in the benefits, and
- can do them safely and correctly.
Now, let’s get moving!
The Timbers of Shorewood is a rental retirement community which provides independent living and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.
On my way to our retirement community this morning I was flipping through the channels on my radio and landed on NPR. I heard a report about the common cold that I thought I would pass on. The findings of the report said one thing you might expect – Get more than eight hours of sleep a night.
The other finding was to exercise on a daily basis. Researchers recruited about 1,000 volunteers between age 18 and 85 to complete a daily log of symptoms throughout cold and flu season.
At the end of the three-month study, the researchers found that the more the participants exercised, the less they reported getting sick. Those who exercised five days a week for 20 minutes or more experienced about 40 percent fewer days of illness compared with those putting in less than one day a week of activity.
For those seniors who live in the Joliet area (Plainfield, Shorewood, Channahon, Crest Hill, Minooka, Naperville, Morris, Aurora, Lockport) feel free to come to the Timbers to get your daily exercise. We have free classes almost every day for our residents and seniors in the Will county area. Classes include Tai Chi for seniors, Sittercise, monthly ballroom dances with a live orchestra, and more. Check our calendar of events for seniors.