The Holidays are behind us. It’s time to take a breath, and look forward to the new year. As a caregiver, not only do you think about your health, but also the health of your loved one for whose care you are responsible. As is often the case, the holiday season takes a toll on our health. It can also take a toll on the health of those in your care. You may be wondering; how do I gauge their health? Caregivers Connection has four signs to gauge your loved ones’ health. Continue reading
As the face of the Senior Citizen changes, it is helpful to understand facts about the Senior Citizen in your life. The following are some facts that may help you better understand your loved one.
11.3 million is the number of seniors 65 and older are engaging in exercise of one form or another. Exercise walking is by far the most popular sports activity for seniors (and for younger adults), followed by exercising with equipment, net fishing, camping, golf and swimming.
As the oldest baby boomers become senior citizens in 2011, the percentage of people 65 and older is projected to grow faster than any other age group. In fact, 26 states are projected to double their 65+ populations between 2000 and 2030.
About one third of the elder population over the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually. About half (53%) of the older adults who are discharged for fall-related hip fractures will experience another fall within six months.
Only 3.6% of people over 65 years old are in nursing homes. Elderly men are likely to live with a spouse while elderly women are more likely to live alone.
By age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women don’t get ANY physical activity. You can keep seniors fit by hosting a dance class at your local senior center!
According to the data compiled by the Social Security Administration, a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84.3. A woman turning age 65 today can expect to live 86.6.
The ratio of women to men over 65 years old is 100 to 76. The ratio of women to men over 85 years old is 100 to 49.
5 million is the number of seniors age 65 and older who have jobs.
78 percent – Percentage of householders age 65 and older who own a motor vehicle.
These are just a few facts on being a senior citizen, and perhaps they will help you, the caregiver understand their needs and give you a bit of insight into their world.
The American Heart Association wants to help everyone live longer, healthier lives so they can enjoy all of life’s precious moments. And we know that starts with taking care of your health. American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends and communities involved. Together, we can build a culture where making the healthy choice is the easy choice. Why? Because Life is Why.
African American men, primarily those who live in the southeast region of the U.S., are at the highest risk for heart disease.
However, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and for women. Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk to suffer from heart disease and stroke.
With February being the month of Valentine’s Day, what better way to show your loved ones how much you care for them by taking care of your heart?
If you live alone, or you have a family member that lives alone, one of the best ways to give yourself peace of mind would be to invest in a Medical Alert System from Lifefone. With just a push of a button, you or your loved one, can have emergency help at the door within minutes. Detecting and getting immediate help is the best way to lessen the impact of a heart attack or stroke has on your system.
Other ways to minimize your risk of heart disease is regular exercise. No matter what your stage of life, exercise keeps your blood flowing, keeps it oxygenated, and keeps the heart pumping. Whether you can get out and walk, ride a bike, lift weights, canoe, hike, or, if you are home bound, movement of any kind will help reduce your risk of heart-related disease.
If you are a smoker, today is the best day to quit. Talk to your doctor about getting help with that. Not only is it good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs and your brain.
Keep regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments, especially if you have any heart issues, and take your medications if you are on them.
Along with all the above, eating healthy is preventative medicine. Choose fresh vegetables over salty snacks. Choose fish over red meat a couple of times a week. Oatmeal over cold cereal. Small changes can have a big impact.
February – heart month all the way around, keep yours healthy.
Did you know that about one in 10,000 people will live to be 100-years-old? These individuals are deemed “slow agers.” Will you be among those who live to celebrate 100 years?
While there is no magic formula to determine how long you will live there may be indicators as to how long you will be on this earth and they include:
- Whether you have “longevity genes.” How long have other members of your family lived?
- What is the state of your physical health?
- How fast can you walk? Studies have shown that those who are fast walkers just might live longer. Fast walking is considered “three feet per second; two miles per hour)
- Do you have friends and family in your life? Studies have shown that social engagement could be key to helping you live to be 100.
- Are you a woman? It’s been shown that of the 80,000 centenarians in the United States in 2010, 85% of them were women.
If you want to try to live to be 100, here are some steps you can take to enhance your chances:
- Lose the belly fat. People who are “round in the middle” are more likely to die sooner than those with flat bellies.
- If you were a healthy-weight as a teenager you may live longer.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get physical exercise every day. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than those without diabetes and this could shorten your lifespan.
- Eating 14 to 17 grams of fiber per day could reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 17%. Add oatmeal to your diet, top with raspberries and you can get 12 grams of fiber in one meal.
- Become a tea drinker. If you drink either green or black tea you will be ingesting concentrated doses of catechins, substances that help blood vessels relax and protect your heart. Those who drink more than five cups of green tea every day had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke than those who didn’t drink tea.
- Be active at least 40 minutes per day. Those who are physically active are more physically fit and also cognitively fit.
On September 22, celebrate National Centenarians Day and the centenarians in your life or take steps to become a centenarian yourself!
Aging is viewed very differently by people. Some hate it, others embrace it and yet some just accept it as fact. One of the issues of aging is the level of our fitness and stability. You aren’t our grandma and getting old isn’t what it used to be but let’s face it, you didn’t all take such great care of ourselves when you were young. So to that end, let’s look at some serious issues about staying fit as Baby Boomer seniors.
- You are strong! You have control over our food intake and exercise patterns. You have taken responsibility for all of that and have learned that you can take care of yourself. Diet and even moderate exercise matters a great deal in growing old. You know, however, that even low movement brings many positive issues with it as you age. Find activities that you enjoy and go with it whether it be bowling, swimming, or walking. Find friends to do it with you and just MOVE. Or better yet, dance. You can do that at home in a bathrobe.
- Getting older doesn’t mean you have serious memory issues. Memory loss is a part of growing old. Give yourself a break. Accept that you are not who you “used to be” because none of us are. Each new day is a new you with just a smidge more knowledge than you had yesterday. Don’t cave in to the old adages of growing older.
- There are many wonderful options out there for getting involved! More than anything, research suggests that staying connected is a huge factor in aging well. Find activities that you like and then find centers that offer those activities. In some cases, that is much easier said than done … especially after a significant loss. But trust me, staying connected matters. Senior Centers, libraries, volunteering …. It makes life better.
- Have fun. Staying healthy as a senior suggests that you have to find activities you enjoy and then do them. Call a friend and go for a hike, join a class, volunteer for a local event … just get out. Coloring has become a new thing again and the great books sell for a few dollars at the retail stores. Who knew you might revert to childhood again! Just have fun.
- Twist it up! As you age, you tend to do the same things over and over. So stop that. Easier said than done but you can decide that today “ I am going to do something different”. Life becomes different and joyous.
- We are not suggesting you leave your home but even that could be good. Mostly we mean that you should just get up and do something. Dance like no one is watching.
Growing older is an experience none of us prepared for. But for Boomers, it’s not so bad – in fact, for many of us it’s a time to find ourselves again so get out there and enjoy!
Baby boomers are learning that growing older is far better than we expected. We are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did and our quality of life is in many ways the best ever. Always resistive, always resistant, and always resilient, we are thriving on many levels. Turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
There is lots of credit we could give for the fact that we are (for the most part) living better lives “at this age” then our parents did. First of all, healthcare has been finding new solutions to old problems every day and we have that huge advantage. Far more focus has been placed on preventive medicine and so we are monitoring our health more closely with great benefits. Finding and diagnosing problems early makes them far more manageable. That is true for our aging bodies.
We will discuss some more factual stuff in part two … but for now let’s laugh and think about stuff. Most of us are not sure how we got to be this old so quickly but we did. Our viewpoint of aging has changed significantly and we are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did. We are doing it with fervor and some defiance … a good quality that has always defined us.
Getting older has caused us to come to understand that we have some options we never had before. We don’t have to get up and go to work. We don’t really have to do much that we don’t want to and with no cynicism, that is freedom. Our intentional focus on fitness and health has kept many of us healthy and active well into our senior years. We earned this.
One of the benefits of healthy aging is the understanding that we have far more control than generations before us. Though sometimes life gives us unexpected things, we have a great deal of control. We can control our diet. We control our exercise. We control our choices and all those stupid choices we made earlier in our life are over. We control our forgiveness for those mistakes. And we can decide how we play out life.
All in all, life is great and we can embrace that. For the moment, we ARE getting older and there are benefits to that. Big benefits. Part 2 is just around the corner.
Ursula Staudinger, a lifespan psychologist who directs the Columbia Aging Center said, “How old we feel imprints itself on how we act and experience old age. You either want to get into your own old age or you don’t, and it plays out dramatically.”
She continues to explain that instead of obsessing about your own chronological age — a measure that varies widely among individuals — “think about the historical year you were born,” she suggested, “and immediately your associations will change.”
This ability to view your lifespan as a chunk of history does more than help you get over yourself. It draws your attention to what is happening in the world as a result of our longer lives. The age boom, Staudinger pointed out, is unfolding in tandem with what she calls a “fertility revolution.” It means that as we grow older, there are fewer babies being born in our wake.
“It is the combination of longevity and fertility we need to take into account,” she said. “By the year 2070, population growth will come to a halt. We will be shrinking.”
Learn more about Dr. Staudinger and the work of the Columbia Aging Center at http://aging.columbia.edu/.
It can be difficult to watch your parents age, especially if you are the caregiver accountable for their aging lifestyle. You may feel dejected or dismal about the aging changes happening in your parents’ lives including the change in the personal relationship you have with each of them. However, there are some empowering tips you can take away from the aging process and the circumstances that come with it.
Positive Changes Down the Road
There will probably be inspiring encounters you may have as the caregiver of your parents. The issue is, you may not feel or become mindful of them until years after the fact. The fact is that as a caregiver the daily routine becomes tiring and somewhat emotionally exhausting which may cause the positive things to slide right by.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s commented on aging and caregiving “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Basically, by becoming the caregiver of your parents, in turn it will help you evolve! Remember that providing for your parents is doing what eventually may need to be done for you if the circumstances ever arise.
Grasping the Sweetness of Old Age
There are many times when being up close and personal with somebody maturing, can regularly turn into naptime. The time in between the naps of discussion and story telling can create lifelong memories that can be told from generation to generation. Specifically, when you’re tired and baffled from a long day of your caregiver role, remember that your loved one may say something extremely touching, and it can remind you how important it is that the person is there with you and you with them. It is these sweet moments that will surprise you as you handle the day-by-day obligations included with caregiving.
You Figure Out How You Want to Age
When you see your parents aging, you begin to reflect and think about the way you want to age. You don’t just figure out how to recognize health issues and where you want to live as you age, you also begin to look to your parents for advice and their aging process as a standard to follow!
You’re Reminded of the Specialness and Fragility of Life
There is boldness we feel when we’re younger. Our bodies feel solid and it draws us into feeling as though we are invincible which we’re definitely not.
Remember when you were 10 years old and 50 year old’s seemed ancient? Well, take a look at who’s turning 50 this year and you’ll see that 50 is quite young!
CNN recently shared an article entitled “10 reasons it’s great to turn 50“. They shared these reasons:
1) You can forget about contraception. Probably. Although it is biologically possible for many women to get pregnant after 50, it’s generally much, much harder and less likely:Women older than 47 account for just .01% of births.
Of course, the children you already have might be teenagers. Many women, like Michelle Obama, who chose to have children in their 30s will reach 50 with teens living in the house, and might be facing all the stress, angst and struggle that comes with seeing a child through adolescence.
2) You’re perfectly content to stay home on a Saturday night. In your 20s, you might have felt a certain self-consciousness — guilt, perhaps, or anxiety — if your Saturday night was spent in your sweatpants on the couch rather than out being social. These days, whether you’re married or single, you might have less energy, but you also know that a weekend night in doesn’t spell doom for your social life.
3) Yes, it’s hot in here—those are, after all, hot flashes you’re having. But that’s OK. While menopause can be a slog lasting as long as 12 years, the upside is not having to deal with periods. Ever again. Not to mention PMS, cysts, fibroids, or the aforementioned late-in-life pregnancy. Depression is less common post-menopause. Besides, there’s nothing like a hot flash on a cold day.
4) Fifty years in, you know who you are. As Michelle Obama told Parade magazine last summer about reaching 50, “I have never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman.” Many people cite their 50s as the best decade, when you know what you want personally and professionally and know — at least better than you did in your 20s or even 30s, at least — how to go about getting it if you haven’t already.
5) That said, it’s not too late to change direction. More and more people over 50 are taking on “encore” careers, reinventing themselves in professions that might more closely align with their passions. Nonprofit group Encore.org, dedicated to helping professionals find their “second act,” notes that as many as 9 million people age 44 to 70 are getting paid for work that combines their personal passion with a social purpose.
6) Mentorship isn’t over. Though the traditional mentor-mentee relationship puts the older, more experienced worker in the teaching role, just because all your mentors have retired doesn’t mean you have no one left to learn from. A recent trend has seen millennials mentoring boomers, teaching them about technology and keeping them current and vital. Some companies have introduced “reverse mentoring” programs designed to pair younger employees with older ones.
7) You sleep less — and can therefore do more. Studies have found that people need less sleep as they age, leaving them plenty of time to go for a run, work on a project, or do anything else your 20-something cohorts aren’t doing while they’re dozing an average extra seven hours a week.
8) You can age however gracefully you’d like. If you’re going gray, you can flaunt it, and you can be proud of your laugh lines. But if your crow’s feet or other signs of 50 years well-lived bother you, there are more options than ever before to do something about it, with fewer stigmas attached. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that minimally invasive facial rejuvenation procedures such as Botox, Juvederm, chemical peels and the like have reached an all-time high. Also growing: eyelid surgery and facelifts.
9) You’re your own meteorologist. Medicine has long disputed that achy joints can predict coming rain, but the old joke may have some truth to it. Doctors are coming around to the idea, admitting that those with arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibroid myalgia, or nerve damage in the knees, elbows, and other joints — more likely, of course, as you grow older — can indeed feel ambient changes.
10) You’re not 60! Enough said, right?