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?
- Plan to walk at the coolest parts of the day – early morning or at dusk.
- Walk in well-lit areas and stay on sidewalks and try to avoid uneven terrain
- Use walking sticks to not only improve balance but to work your upper body as well
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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!
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.
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 (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?
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.
Fields of spring daffodils. (Photo credit: ukgardenphotos)
The calendar shows that Spring is on the verge of making its appearance and with that comes a sense of rebirth, renewal and, of course, Spring Fever! What can you do with your senior family members to make the most of this wonderful time of the year? There are myriad options but here are a few of our favorites:
Start healthy habits: Now that the clocks have moved ahead, opportunities for outdoor activities and routines abound. Help the seniors in your life view spring as a season to kick off new routines. It’s easier to make a resolution to be more active or eat healthier when the sun is shining and the ability to get outside and walk or work in a garden is available. Why not start a family tradition on the first day of spring to have a family get together and map out some ideas and activities for the warmer months ahead? Make a copy of the list for every family to post on their refrigerator and it will give everyone something to look forward to!
Make a date with nature: With spring and sunshine comes the desire to spend time in the out of doors. If the senior in your life is mobile, either able to walk on his or her own or in a wheelchair, taking a daily walk or spending time in a garden is a perfect way to get some fresh air and relax. Opening the windows in the house and pulling back the curtains to let the sun shine in can lift the mood. Plant a garden together. Working in the soil and planting items that will either bloom into beautiful flowers or yield fruits or vegetables is a great way to spend time together and also plan for healthy meals. Purchase outdoor furniture that is easy for the senior to get in and out of and that will make it more enjoyable for them to spend time outside when you’re not around to initiate the activity.
If gardening is on the agenda, but mobility is an issue, consider building a raised garden or even using planters placed on pedestals or otherwise raised so your relative can work on the plants without having to worry about getting down on the ground to do so. Make sure sunblock is handy and that the seniors are aware of the importance of staying hydrated when they’re outside.
Spring cleaning tasks: While the idea of “spring cleaning” may not sound like a fun way to spend a day, simply opening the windows and giving them a thorough cleaning and switching from a heavier weight curtain to light ones for summer will make for a healthier environment for the seniors in your life. Make certain you’re looking out for clutter or trip and fall hazards when you’re in the midst of the spring cleaning. Take the spring cleaning to the out of doors and give the yard a once over as well.
Engaging with the seniors in your life and reconnecting with nature are two powerful ways to help them stay alert and active and can stave off a host of physical ailments or mental issues such as depression. Studies have shown that sunlight is an almost instant mood enhancer so now that spring is here, let the sun shine in!
The cliché of “use it or lose it” holds true when it comes to both your body and your mind. That is even more crucial in the elderly. If they keep their minds and bodies active they will age more gracefully and will be more engaged in life’s activities for much longer. An active mind and body will help them to live a more full life.
In order to stay healthy you need to keep moving. Whether your relatives move around inside or outside the house, getting in at least 15 minutes a day of activity is good, getting even more is best. If they’re able to get out and walk, it’s a great way to keep their weight in line and keep their minds active. Getting out will also give them a chance to get fresh air and keep in touch with the neighbors. Regardless of the level of activity that your senior family members are able to undertake, it’s still a fact of life that individuals over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer a trip and fall accident in the home. In the event of a fall or other health incident, if your senior is equipped with a medical alert pendant, he or she will have immediate access to a trained team that will alert medical professionals and family members offering peace of mind to all.
If you’re a caregiver or are facing the question of trying to figure out what to do with an aging parent, here are five fun activities for both mind and body:
- Read a book together or join a book club. If there’s no book club that you can find, start your own. Read the newspaper together and discuss current events.
- Walk along the beach if there is one that’s close. Walk around the neighborhood.
- Check out local senior centers or libraries to see if there are craft classes or computer classes for seniors.
- Begin your own writers group. Meet up at a local library or senior center and work on a book of memoirs. It’s a great gift to hand down to future generations.
- Consider joining a senior golf league. If your parents aren’t into golfing, consider joining or starting a gardening club. Share hints and tips about gardening and then plan a fruit and vegetable swap as the growing season gets into full swing.
Depending on the level of your elderly parent’s health, look into clubs or groups that feed into their passions whether it’s boating, scrap booking, sewing, gourmet cooking classes or even bird watching. Being involved with others offers a feeling of community and gives your parents a reason to get up in the morning and an activity that needs to be completed before the next meeting!
It’s an unavoidable fact of life that you will get older and with age sometimes comes a limited ability to be involved in the social activities you may have enjoyed in years past. As parents of young children, it’s likely that your life was very busy. This most likely was followed by an empty nest as which point you may have developed a social life completely your own! However, as you age you may find yourself relying on your grown children, especially if you’re facing health issues. Simply because you’re aging doesn’t mean you need to pull a rocking chair out to porch and watch life pass you by. Staying active, both emotionally and physically, will help you age more productively.
While you have to accept and modify your life based on the aches and pains that come with old age, you certainly can remain active and viable. Remaining active will help you enjoy your Golden Years much longer and with more joy.
Whether your family lives close by or whether you’re involved in your church or other community activities, it’s important to have contact with “the outside world.” Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. Staying in touch with friends and keeping up with current events will keep you more in touch with your surroundings and will also give you something to talk about when your family comes to visit. Social contact simply adds value to your life and gives you something to look forward to.
Consider teaching a class at a local senior center. If you have a passion for painting or a love of gardening or are an avid knitter or woodworker, ask whether you’d be able to teach a class. You can teach to your peers or even to the younger generation.
If your friends and family are scattered geographically you will want to try and keep in touch and you can do this through telephone calls, the exchange of letters or if you’re tech-savvy through email or even sites such as Skype.
Check with the YMCA for exercise classes for the elderly, talk with members of your church about activities in which you could become involved. Ask your church if it is in need of volunteers; this is a great way to stay involved and active.
Staying involved is simply healthy but regardless of how active you are, when you’re home alone you may want to talk to your family members about signing up for a home medical alert service and ask them to work with you to make certain your home has been “age proofed” to prevent any trip or fall hazards. A home medical alert device can also add to your safety, security and allow you to remain independent in your own home.