Posts Tagged ‘retirement community’
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.
Accordionist Bob Doczak takes the stage for the July Concert in the Park from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Sunday, July 24, on the outdoor patio at The Timbers of Shorewood, 1100 N. River Rd., Shorewood. The public is invited to the free concert.
Born in Joliet, Doczak grew up in a neighborhood that consisted of Slovenians, Croatians and people of Polish descent so polka music literally filled the streets. With 42 years in the polka business, he is one of the key organizers of the annual Illinois Polka Festival held each February in Naperville.
The popular series of summer evening concerts called “The Timbers’ Concert in the Park” is a favorite event. A few years ago, neighbors with homes near The Timbers heard the music, and they started setting up lawn chairs in their yards. Staff at The Timbers invited them to join the residents, and today, concerts are an amiable blend of residents, neighbors, friends, families, and the public.
The Timbers of Shorewood is a rental retirement community which provides senior 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.
Again, the event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Shelly Goggins at 815-609-0669.
The months of March and April hold the promise of spring. In terms of seasons, the worst is behind, and the best is ahead. Poets such as William Wordsworth and Robert Browning agree. Enjoy these poems about early spring.
“The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven -
All’s right with the world!”
- Robert Browning
“Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,
hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.”
- Rainer Marie Rilke
“I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing robin, sing:
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.”
- Christina Rossetti
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
- William Wordsworth, Daffodils
“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.”
- Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring
“The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!
Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The Plowboy is whooping-anon-anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
The rain is over and gone!”
- William Wordsworth
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.
Visiting a doctor’s office can make a senior nervous, impatient, or even scared. He or she may have only a few minutes with the health care provider, and later the patient may remember unasked questions. And it’s hard to remember what was said.
Before the visit, take a list of specific questions to the appointment, making sure to list the most important ones first. It’s a good idea, too, to review your health history, so you can convey it concisely to your doctor. Writing out a brief synopsis to give a new doctor can be helpful and save time.
A list of medications and dosages is essential. Make copies of this list for all doctors.
During Your Visit:
- Tape-record the visit or bring a pencil and notebook to take notes or bring a trusted friend or relative to take notes.
- Keep the discussion focused, making sure to cover the main questions and concerns, symptoms and how symptoms impact your life.
- Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what you have been told or if you still have questions.
- Ask for explanations of treatment goals and side effects.
- Let your doctor know if you are seeing other doctors or health care providers.
- Share information about any recent medical tests.
- Let your doctor know how much information you want and if you have religious or cultural beliefs that affect your treatment.
- Stand up for yourself or have a friend or family member advocate for you if your concerns are not addressed.
- Balance assertiveness with friendliness and understanding.
Hopefully these tips will help seniors understand their diagnosis and any recommended treatments.
Ah-choo! With cooler weather on the way, the cold season revs up, and there’s nothing as miserable as a bad head cold. How about this statistic from healthline.com: Americans “catch” an estimated one billion colds every year. Most adults suffer from two to four colds per year.
The common cold causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and, in some cases, coughing and a sore throat. Colds can occur at any time during the year but are most common in the fall and winter months.
A head cold really is a viral infection which settles in the mucus membranes of the nose. A cold is usually harmless, although it can be quite uncomfortable. Typically it resolves on its own after around ten days. Some people experience a mild fever and watery eyes, and people may complain of feeling unwell.
The mucus which drains from the nose is typically clear in color. Some people with a head cold find that they cough and experience hoarseness because of mucus dripping down their throats.
No vaccine has been developed for the common cold which can be caused by many different viruses, but there are some common-sense precautions to slow the spread of autumn viruses:
- Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly and often. Carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 percent alcohol for times when soap and water aren’t available. These gels kill most germs.
- Scrub your stuff. Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, especially when someone nearby has a cold.
- Use tissues. Always sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away, and then wash your hands thoroughly.
- Don’t share. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick.
- Steer clear of colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.
Drinking lots of fluids, especially warm fluids, can help as can staying in a warm and slightly humid environment. Avoiding dairy is advised, because this tends to increase mucus production. Rest, many people think, helps a cold resolve more quickly.
If a head cold is persistent, a doctor can prescribe decongestants and pain management medications. Saline rinses or sprays in the nose can also help to flush out the mucus and increase comfort. However, patients should be aware that prolonged use of decongestant sprays can lead to an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose.
Sometimes a head cold can become a sinus infection. A head cold can also lead to an ear infection. While these infections sometimes can resolve on their own, medical treatment may be necessary especially if the condition becomes especially painful.
Web MD mentions more worrisome situations and complications when it comes to colds. It’s a good idea to consult the doctor for any of these conditions:
- Asthma and Colds – Living with asthma is no easy task, and a cold can make breathing more difficult.
- Heart Disease and Colds – Catching a cold for someone with heart disease poses a greater danger, because the cold makes it difficult to take in oxygen efficiently.
- Diabetes and Colds – For those with diabetes, a common cold makes it difficult to keep blood glucose levels balanced.
No matter what, skin ages because of too much cold weather, too much sun, and too many years. Most people make a point of taking care of their skin, using moisturizers and creams to keep inevitable damage at bay as long as possible. But as aging takes place, skin dilemmas happen to nearly everyone.
According to the Mayo Clinic wrinkles happen due to many years of ultraviolet rays and gravity. The skin becomes less elastic and subsequently sags and wrinkles. Habits like frowning and smoking can cause wrinkles around the mouth.
Seniors are prone to dry skin which is rough and scaly skin that appears on the lower legs, elbows, and lower arms. A few causes of dry skin include:
- Dehydration due to not drinking enough fluids
- Staying in the sun for long periods of time
- Being in very dry air
- Experiencing stress
- Losing sweat and oil glands which happens naturally with age
- Some health problems like diabetes or kidney disease
- Using excessive amounts of soap, antiperspirant, or perfume
- Taking hot baths
Dry skin can lead to itching, bleeding, and infection. It can also contribute to sleep problems. Such problems can be treated by medication, so it is encouraged that one seek medical attention before itchy skin leads to more serious conditions. Men and women can also use lotions and ointments, take fewer baths, use milder soap, use cooler water when bathing, or use a humidifier in order to treat dry and irritable skin.
Age spots, which are sometimes referred to as liver spots, are brown spots that can appear on the hands and body. They are harmless signs of years of sun exposure.
Skin tags are flesh-colored growths of skin that can grow anywhere, but the neck is a likely spot.
Although these age spots and skin tags are harmless and are simply due to aging, it is important to alert the doctor as it may be difficult for those without medical training to discern between these and irregular growths. A dermatologist can remove both of these types of growths if they are bothersome.
With age, men and women can bruise more easily and take longer to recover from bruising. Seniors with excessive bruising should see a doctor.
Psoriasis. This skin condition is marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales.
Thyroid disorders. Hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormones, reduces the activity of sweat and oil glands, leading to rough, dry skin.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is mainly caused by exposure to the sun, sunlamps, or UV light in tanning booths. People with fair skin are more at risk for developing skin cancer. If diagnosed early, skin cancer can be cured.
According to SeniorAdvice.com , some ways to prevent skin conditions are as follows:
- Sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the brightest, should be limited. Cloudy skies or staying in water does not mean you are not being exposed. UV rays travel through these translucent surfaces to reach the skin.
- SPF15 sunscreen and higher should be reapplied at least every two hours with long periods of sun exposure.
- Hats and sunglasses can help protect the face and eyes from harmful UV rays.
- Purposefully exposing the skin to direct UV rays without protection is discouraged.
It’s a fact that many seniors are intimidated by computers, the Internet, Facebook, etc., but that number is growing smaller every day as more and more older adults embrace a whole new world of communication.
Computer use can help seniors connect in ways that older generations simply couldn’t imagine. The Internet helps make and maintain vital relationships with family, friends and grandchildren. Think about it – computers are available 24/7. The Internet can rekindle confidence and independence, and improved contact with others can ease isolation.
As Gill Adams, of Digital Unite says, “The internet is curiosity’s best friend.”
The latest survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 42 percent of individuals 65 years and older actively access the Internet; 53 percent live in a setting with Internet access. The 42 percent statistic represents a 50 percent jump in Internet use among this age group since 2000, when only 21 percent of 65+ individuals were actively online.
The U.S. Census Bureau goes on to report that many older adults use the Web for three specific reasons:
- to read e-mail,
- to use a search engine to find information, and
- to access news items.
According to nielsen.com, online visitors 65 and older participate in a variety of activities, from e-mail to bill paying. Neilsen found a slight variation for online activity:
- Personal E-mail
- Maps online
- Weather online
- Pay bills
- View or post photos
- Read general news
- Researched personal health sites
- Planning travel
- Searched recipes
- Read business/financial news
The No. 1 online destination for people over 65 in November 2009 was Google Search, with 10.3 million unique visitors. Windows Media Player and Facebook were No. 2 and No. 3, with 8.2 million and 7.9 million visitors, respectively. Interestingly, Facebook, which came in at No. 3, ranked No. 45 just a year ago among sites visited by senior citizens.
Top online destinations for adults age 65 and older:
- Google search
- Windows Media Player
- You Tube
Seniors who are ready to jump in and learn about computers and the Internet can contact SeniorNet. The mission of SeniorNet is to provide older adults education for and access to computer technologies to enhance their lives and enable them to share their knowledge and wisdom.
SeniorNet classes are offered in communities throughout the United States.