Category Archives: Active Seniors

Create Happiness in your Senior Years

Happiness in seniorsWe are all aware of the truths that seem to point to loneliness and depression in Senior Citizens, and how, as family members and caregivers we should be on the lookout for indicators that our loved ones may be struggling.

However, a growing shift has made itself apparent in our time as more and more senior citizens are choosing to live their ‘golden years’ out in experiences.  Happiness is more strongly associated with meaningful experiences than the accumulation of possessions. The iconic American Dream to own a home, have 2.5 children, a nice car, and a sizeable nest egg appeals for inherent reasons, but the ability to continue to make memories with either a spouse, family members, or friends is a growing trend in the lives of many seniors today.

Experiences can be as simple as taking the grandchildren to the beach, or traveling to an unexplored (for them) location.  If your loved one has the ability to get out on their own, let them.  Try not to be concerned about their ability to drive ‘that far’ on their own.  Perhaps they want to experience something new.  While the natural response is to say, not at your age, allow them the ability to do that thing, and perhaps even go with them.

One study shows that when people perceived they had less time left, they found greater happiness in ordinary experiences than younger individuals who perceived they had significant amounts of time ahead of them and who found greater happiness in the extraordinary.

The truth is, the older we get, we do gain more wisdom. We have learned that life experience gives you perspective. You know the downs don’t last, and the ups don’t last.   As a result, experiences, or those things that make us happy, begin to shift also.

Encourage them to go out and live life, and perhaps any loneliness or depression you were seeing will begin to disappear.  Being active at any age, and especially in seniors, is proven to have a positive effect on our mood and our health.

Let them enjoy the moment, and enjoy it with them.

 

Spring Allergies

Spring is a welcome relief from the long, cold winter, but for about one in five people, budding flowers and trees bring their seasonal pollen allergies into full swing causing all types of discomfort. Symptoms can be cold-like, including itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears, along with watery eyes, runny nose, congestion and sneezing. Allergies can also trigger asthma, restricting airways and making breathing more difficult. And even if you don’t have symptoms now, new allergies can be acquired at any age.Spring Allergies

Allergy symptoms for older adults can pose additional challenges. Those with chronic conditions such as cardiopulmonary disorders are at increased risk of serious complications during allergy season. Over-the-counter medications that people have taken for years may cause side effects as they age, including reactions with other medications. Seniors may ignore their allergies or try to self-medicate. Neither option is advisable. These symptoms need to be discussed with a physician.

LifeFone can help. The emergency profile we keep for each subscriber is used to relay vital information to emergency responders when needed, including medical conditions, medication, emergency contacts, physician, and preferred hospital.

If you’re a LifeFone medical alert system subscriber, you can update your profile using the LifeFone Caregiver Portal. You can make this update directly online or call us at 1 800-940-0262.

Why Tai Chi Is Good For You!

Tai Chi is a Chinese practice and tradition that was originally developed for self-defense but evolved into a graceful exercise that can help reduce stress & anxiety and helps to increase flexibility and balance.

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints which makes it generally safe for all ages and levels of fitness. It may be especially suitable for older adults who can’t (or may not) otherwise exercise. It also requires no special equipment and can be done inside or out. As with any exercise, it’s always a good practice to check with your physician before starting any routine. Continue reading

Walking Is Ideal For Physical And Mental Health

Getting up off of the couch and moving is a way to not only combat obesity, but it can help you as you age by keeping your physical and mental being in balance. Chances are, your doctor has stressed the importance of getting up and moving. You have likely heard the reports that people who sit for long periods of time are more likely to die at an earlier age than those who are more physically active.

Walking is an exercise that virtually anyone can undertake as a way to get and/or stay healthy. In addition to helping your cardiovascular system, walking may prevent cancer and diabetes and help strengthen your bones. Because falls are so prevalent in individuals over the age of 65, being active and in shape may help prevent a fall as you age.

Did you know, though, that walking can also help ward off dementia? Physicians believe that consistent cardio exercise – like walking or even swimming – can help prevent your brain from shrinking as you age. A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh showed that individuals who walked six to nine miles a week had more brain volume after nine years in the study than did those who were not as active. Consider that a walk a day can reverse age-related brain shrinkage and you can see the benefit in slipping on your sneakers and getting out there!

If you’ve been sedentary, here are some steps you will want to consider before you start a walking routine:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. They should fit well and have stable soles.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat when you walk to prevent sunburn.
  • Invest in a pedometer so you can track how long you’re walking and challenge yourself to walk a few more steps each day.
  • Don’t start a walking or other exercise routine until you’ve checked with your doctor. He may advise starting out slowly (getting a few thousand steps a day) and working your way up to the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

What’s the best way to start a walking workout?

  1. Plan to walk at the coolest parts of the day – early morning or at dusk.
  2. Walk in well-lit areas and stay on sidewalks and try to avoid uneven terrain
  3. Use walking sticks to not only improve balance but to work your upper body as well
  4. Start out with a five to ten minute walk – this is especially important if you’ve been inactive prior to this. Increase your walk time by five to ten minutes every time you go out
  5. Look for ways to incorporate walking into your every day routine – walk to the mailbox, park further away from the grocery store than usual and use those steps to add to your daily total, get up and move around during television commercials, walk up to get your daily cup of coffee.
  6. Change up your routine so you don’t get bored. Walk in a different direction. Walk indoors one day and outdoors the next. Find a walking buddy.
  7. Once you’ve been walking for a week or two increase the intensity by walking up some hills or even by doing “interval” training – walking at a faster pace for a minute (to the point of being almost breathless) then slow back to your usual pace.

Make today the day that you commit to being more active; it just may help you stave off dementia as well as helping improve your all around health.

Seniors Can Try New Things To Stay Active

What would spring be without the age-old commitment to spending more time doing new things!

Here are five spring resolutions that each senior needs to think about to kick off the fresh feeling of springtime:

Experience the web.

  • Google: Find anything, anytime, anywhere. Anything! You will be a click away from knowing anything you may need to know!
  • Social Media: Begin with Facebook, which will allow you to connect with locals as well as old companions across the country. Also, look in on your grandkids’ lives!

Plan for what’s to come.

  • It’s never too early to plan for your life as you age. Let your family know if you are interested in finding a caregiver to help you around the house. You may also want to buy a medical alert system for when you are at home by yourself. The main goal is to make sure you and your family are prepared as you age!

Consume nutritious foods in 2014.

  • Stay away from prepared food and snacks high in sugar and sodium.  Your eating habits are your fuel for the day and serves to keep your mind sharp. A good plan for eating is to include nutrient rich foods such as avocado and walnuts for those “great oils” and fiber from whole grains. Make a point to eat crisp leafy foods consistently and take daily supplements and vitamins (especially Vitamin B and D) that your body needs.

Plan yearly check-ups.

    • So imagine a scenario where you’re no spring chicken anymore. Age is like fine wine, yet it springs up on you quickly. Make sure to visit your doctor regularly to monitor any changes in your physical or mental ability as you age.

Stay Active

  • Volunteering is a great way to stay active while helping others that may be less fortunate. You could also join a social club, create a bridge club, join a yoga gym or do water aerobics. The goal is to maintain an active lifestyle, which will allow you to continue living independently while enjoying your life as you age.

Living to 100

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 50,000 people in the United States were 100 years or age or older! It is further expected that the number of people over 100 years old will reach 110,000 by 2037 and those over 80 will reach six million by that same year.

So what is the secret?

Centenarians (folks who reach 100 or older) say that exercise, healthy eating and a good night’s sleep help!  Here are a few other suggestions that may help you live a longer, fuller life.

  • Eat, Pray and Exercise!   More than 80% of centenarians say they eat nutritiously balanced meals almost daily compared to 68% of boomers. Furthermore, these folks said that they pray, meditate or have some sort of “spiritual” activity and more than half of each group claims to exercise almost every day!  Your chances of reaching the age of 100 increases if you eat lots of fruits and vegetables, regular  exercise (5 days a week) and reducing stress, according to a Danish study.  The healthier you are, the better you feel. The better you feel, the longer you live.
  • Laugh.  Centenarians laugh or giggle nearly every day! Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance.
  • Socialize.  The majority of baby boomers and centenarians say that they talk to or communicate with friends and family nearly every day. Additionally, reading, crossword puzzles, games keep your brain challenged and more healthy.
  • Sleep. A good solid night of sleep helps to repair many cells in the body, and potentially add two years to your lifespan.
  • Relax.  Centenarians work at a job or hobby far less than boomers but the key is to relax and enjoy “down-time”.
  • Groom yourself. Centenarians maintain good oral health as well as continuing the habit of daily bathing or showering. Aging or less activity outside the home should not be good reasons for poor grooming habits.

Take good care of yourself and live a good long life!

 

 

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Age is only a number, right? Chances are you know someone who is a “young”
60 but know others that are “not-so-young” 60-year-olds; what is the difference? It could be any number of things ranging from overall health and wellbeing to mental attitude.

A positive attitude can go far in helping you remain young at heart even as you age. Here are five ways tips to help you stay “young” and vibrant:
1. Don’t close yourself off to new opportunities. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can’t try new things. Join a dinner club, take up golf, get out to a movie with friends on a weekly basis, go out and play Bingo, volunteer for your favorite charity. Staying home and not stretching yourself mentally (and perhaps physically) is a certain way to “feel your age.”
2. Your health should be a number one priority. From eating healthy meals to getting daily exercise the best way to remain vibrant is by keeping mind and body active. Join a senior yoga class, ask your doctor what kind of exercises are right for you at your current level of health and mobility. Get out and take a short walk after dinner. If you’re not accustomed to being active, it may be a habit you will have to foster, but your mind and body will thank you.
3. Let go of anger and hostility. Let’s face it, we all have issues with family that simmers until it gets to a boiling point. Keeping anger and resentment bottled up inside of you is damaging to your overall health and stresses both body and mind. Whether you learn to forgive and forget or not get involved in a situation that places you with a person with whom you’re angry, you need to find a way to set that anger free so you can remain healthy and stress-free.
4. Nurture those relationships that bring you joy. If you have children and grandchildren, make spending time with them a priority. In today’s busy world, it’s not always easy to get everyone together for a family meal, but ask your family about doing just that, even if it’s just once a month. For those times when you can’t physically be together, why not set up a Skype chat or even “eat dinner together” via webcam. If you’re not tech savvy ask your children to set you up with a computer that is easy to use and one that you can use to have web-chats with friends and family. There’s nothing better than seeing the smiling faces of your family to break up isolation and bring you joy!
5. Volunteer your time and talents. Do you have a unique talent that you could share with others? Perhaps you’re a whiz at knitting or woodworking or maybe you’re a writer or a dog trainer; take those skills to the public and teach a class at a local senior center or in an adult learning class. If you don’t have a particular talent, then take a class and learn something new. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or a charitable organization whose mission you support. In addition to feeling great about giving back, getting out and socializing is simply great for body, mind and soul.

What can you do today to stay young? If you’re a caregiver, what can you do to help enhance your parents’ lives so they can recapture their youth and remain vibrant? Consider these ideas or come up with things that you know you or your loved one will enjoy to stay young-at-heart.

Tips For Effective Money Management For Seniors

Effectively managing your finances following retirement and into your Golden Years brings with it challenges that need to be addressed so that you can continue to live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. One way to do this is to begin planning for retirement early in your working life and to work within the confines of a budget once you retire. Living within your means allows you to enjoy the perks you had when you were employed while still keeping a comfortable nest egg. Maintaining long-term financial stability requires thoughtful planning and may involve making changes to your daily lifestyle. Remember, financial planning for your retirement and senior years is more about long term goals than short-term.

Here are some money management tips to put into place prior to retirement. If you’re already retired, these are tips that can be implemented even now to help you enhance your financial stability:

  • Clear up your long term debt. Pay off your mortgage and pay down your credit cards. Revolving debt can wreak havoc on your savings. Having to worry about making monthly debt payments can negatively impact your long term financial stability. Additionally, knowing that your debts are paid off, or paid down, will add to your peace of mind.
  • Writing and sticking to a budget. To remain financially viable into your retirement you will need to live within a budget. Take time and make certain you include all of your expenses when making your budget. Include items such as health insurance, auto insurance and long-term care payments in addition to the income you’re bringing in.
  • Take care of your health. Illness can negatively impact not only your overall health but your ability to remain within your budget. Eating healthy meals, remaining active and having regular medical check-ups will go a long way in helping you enjoy your retirement years.
  • Stay involved. Volunteer, take a class at a local community college, visit neighbors and friends. Remaining involved with friends and continued learning leads to better mental acuity and could even ward off health related mental deterioration.
  • Do you need to downsize? If you’re still living in the home in which you raised your children, it may be time to consider downsizing to a smaller, more efficient home. Whether you move into a small home or an assisted living or retirement facility, taking the time to address trip and fall hazards and upgrading the bathroom and other rooms in the house to be senior friendly make the home safer as you age. Individuals that may be living alone or dealing with balance issues or other health concerns may want to consider equipping the home with a medical alert device as a way to have immediate access to health care in the event of an emergency.

Prior planning will help you enjoy your retirement years with grace and ease.

retirement

retirement (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

Five Ways To Maximize Your Memory

How many times have you walked into a room only to have forgotten why you were there? Do you misplace your keys frequently? It happens to all of us, and while we may have to accept that as we age our minds may not be as sharp as they once were, there are things you can do to boost your brain power and maximize your memory.

Here are five tips for sharpening your memory:

  1. Sit down with your children or grandchildren and play a video game! You’re never too old to learn to play and they just might be good for your brain power. Playing multi-player video games or online role playing games have been proven to boost cognitive function according to a study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Because video games involve the use of several different mental abilities including hand-eye coordination, problem solving, reaction time and simply paying attention, your brain gets a workout while you play.
  2. Spend time in mindful meditation. Researchers from UCLA discovered that individuals who meditated had more (physical gray matter) brain power than those who didn’t.  The reason for this could be that even though our brains shrink as we age, meditation may slow the shrinking process. Take time, several times a day to quietly contemplate and relax.
  3. Get up and move and even lift some weights! While you don’t want to start an exercise routine without first clearing it with your physician, it’s been shown in Alzheimer’s studies that individuals who lifted weights and increased their muscle strength were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Also, the simple act of being active stimulates your synapses and keeps you more alert. Being physically active can also help prevent the risk of trip and fall accidents as your joints, muscles and bones are strengthened through use and activity.
  4. Lose weight and pick up healthy habits. Everyone knows the risks of smoking and health but it’s also been found that heavy smokers were at a higher risk (70%) of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Eating healthy and exercising as a way to ward off obesity may also prevent the onset of heart disease, diabetes or myriad other weight-related issues. Ask your doctor for advice on healthy meal planning as well as how best to get started on exercising. Start off slow with a walk around the neighborhood and work your way up to more strenuous activity. Don’t forget that yardwork and gardening are also great ways to be active!
  5. Don’t stress the “small stuff.” As we age, it takes us longer to complete tasks than it used to, but that is no reason to stress. It’s a proven fact that as we age we have slower response times and it may take us longer to make decisions; it doesn’t necessarily mean we have slower mental processes, it may simply mean we are taking longer to make a conscious choice. Trust your instincts.

Being physically fit and staying mentally active are worthy goals for anyone of any age, but these become even more important as we age. What steps are you taking toward better mental and physical health?

 

Volunteering Is Good For Your Health And Well-Being

Studies show that individuals who remain active and involved have an improved brain function and an overall sense of well-being. For many individuals, retirement brings with it a wealth of free-time but may also bring a feeling of being disconnected. Because people spend so many years juggling family, careers and other daily responsibilities, the downtime associated with retirement may lead to despair and depression. A way to combat this lack of purpose that comes with retirement is by volunteering. The benefits of volunteering are myriad and include the sense of well-being from helping others as well as having a sense of purpose cannot be discounted.

Some of the benefits of volunteering include:

  • Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s: Because volunteers feel a greater satisfaction with their lives and have a higher quality of life than those who don’t volunteer, the risk of Alzheimer’s can be lessened.
  • Lower rate of mortality: Getting up and out of the house on a semi-regular basis not only benefits the charity or place they volunteer but it also benefits him or her by keeping them active, social and engaged in the community.
  • Keeping bones and joints strong. UCLA researchers found that “productive activities” could prevent the onset of frailty, a condition marked by low energy, low strength, weight loss and lowered physical activity. Reducing the impact of frailty could help a senior avoid a trip or fall accident which befalls many seniors over the age of 65.
  • Brain function improvements: Seniors that participate in activities remain more alert and cognizant and this can help them age in place for more years than those who don’t participate in outside activities.

In addition to the benefits listed, volunteering offers immediate satisfaction by imparting a sense of accomplishment, purpose, enhanced social skills and helping by staying connected and involved. As a caregiver it may be a good idea to discuss the possibility of volunteering with the seniors in your life. Help them find an organization that is a good fit for their skills and abilities. Helping keep them active will enhance their ability to remain active and enable them to live independently.