Category Archives: Exercise

Hints & Tips To Senior-Proof A Home

Serious injuries as the result of trips or falls are suffered by one in three adults over the age of 65 and many of these happen in the home. These falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma and even death.

Senior-proofing the home for items such as trip and fall hazards should be a matter of course for your aging relatives if they’d like to continue aging in place. Look for loose or slippery carpets and bathroom hazards. There are other items that need to be addressed as well.

Here are some items to consider if your parents want to continue living independently:

  1. Limit alcohol intake as this can lead to balance issues and cause a fall in addition to other health issues and potentially dangerous interactions with their medications.
  2. Have a full physical: Many falls could be prevented if your relatives have a full medical work up to address any issues that could lead to slip and fall accidents. Diabetes which has inherent poor circulation problems, low blood pressure and ear infections can also throw their balance off and lead to falls.
  3. Clean the medicine cabinet and track all medications. Clear out old prescriptions and outdated medications – over-the-counter and prescriptions. Make certain your relatives are taking the medications as prescribed and in the proper dosages. If the prescriptions are from different doctors, check with one of them or the pharmacist to make certain there is no risk of interaction.
  4. Stay fit and active: If your parents aren’t getting any exercise, they will lose muscle strength and tone and this will make it harder to walk and maintain their balance. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for those aged 65 and older. This means walking at a brisk pace, undertaking some aerobic activity such as swimming or a senior exercise class or bicycling. If your aging parent has health conditions that make it impossible to do this, ask a physical therapist to recommend some stretching exercises to help keep them in shape.
  5. Get their eyes checked: An annual eye exam is a must and eyeglass adjustments if necessary. An eye exam will catch any vision issues and proper eyeglass prescriptions will help to prevent falls if they have clear vision.
  6. Eat healthy meals: Cooking may become less of a priority as you age but getting adequate nutrients and vitamins are essential to good health. Additionally, ask whether they should be taking any supplements to address bone health issues or other vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Use a cane or walker: If your aging relatives are suffering from balance issues have them fitted for a cane or a walker. This will help them be mobile, but take care that they purchase a cane that is specifically suited to their height as one that is too short or too tall can lead to a trip or fall.

Even with all of the above steps implemented, you may still want to take it one step further and sign your parents up for a home medical alert system. With these devices, your parents will wear a medical emergency alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or other health emergency, all they need to do is push the button, a call is made to the home and if no answer is received, emergency medical personnel are dispatched.

How to Prevent a Stroke

Although strokes are equal opportunists, there are various risk factors that can increase the chances of your loved one having a stroke. As a caregiver, one of the greatest gifts you can offer your care recipient is knowledge and help for prevention. Despite the fact that stroke is the leading cause of death and disability, and four out of five stroke victims have no apparent warning signs, strokes can be prevented 80 percent of the time. Those are some very good odds.

Published by the nation’s leading experts on stroke prevention, The Stroke Prevention Guidelines are an amazing source for helping you and your loved one learn how to lower the risk of stroke.

Stroke Prevention Guidelines:

  • Hypertension: Having your loved one get his or her blood pressure assessed is vital to their health. If left untreated, hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke. At their yearly checkup be sure to have their blood pressure checked. They can also use an automatic blood pressure machine at the pharmacy or supermarket.
  • Atrial Fibrillation (Afib): Identifying if your loved one has Afib, or an abnormal heartbeat can majorly reduce their risk of stroke. Afib increases stroke risk by 500%, and must be diagnosed by a doctor.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of stroke by 50%. It makes the heart work harder by damaging blood vessel walls, speeding up artery clogging and raising blood pressure.
  • Alcohol Use: Numerous studies have linked alcohol consumption to stroke. Doctors recommend drinking in moderation.
  • Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol levels can clog the arteries and cause a stroke. Consult with your loved one’s doctor if their cholesterol level is higher than 200.
  • Take care of Diabetes: If your loved one has diabetes make sure they are properly taking care of it. Many health problems associated with diabetes are also risk factors for stroke.
  • Exercise and Diet: For the elderly exercise can include stretching, lifting light weights, balance exercises and cardio. (Read more about safe exercises for the elderly.  Also make sure your loved one is eating a well-balanced diet low in calories, salt, saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Circulation Problems: Fatty deposits can block arteries carrying blood to the brain and lead to stroke. If your loved one has circulation problems make sure they are properly treated by a doctor.

The repercussions of avoiding stroke prevention are definitely not worth the agony. Do your loved one a favor and make sure they take the proper steps to lessen their chances of experiencing a debilitating stroke.

* As with all medical suggestions and advice, you should be sure to consult your personal physician for recommendations as they pertain to your care and not rely on material provided herein.

6 Great Benefits from Regular Exercise 

The Impact of Stretching on the Aging Body

When it comes to getting your body in motion, one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise is stretching. Aging does not mean you will automatically lose your flexibility. The pain and stiffness that many individuals associate with aging begins as temporary tensions that become learned habits if the individual does not begin counterbalancing the effects of their increased stiffness. When muscles begin to tighten, they cease to be elastic and thus can restrict movement. With increased stiffness and restriction, elderly individuals may begin to limit movements that require stiff muscles, leading to disuse.

Besides being a good form of exercise for the elderly, stretching also improves strength and endurance and decreases the impact of injury. The best part about stretching is that it can be done anywhere and does not require any special equipment. Before beginning a stretching regimen it is best to consult with your doctor to see what stretches are the most safe and effective for you or your loved one’s body type. Before stretching, it is always important to remember to:

  • Warm up prior to stretching
  • Never overextend while stretching, stretching should not cause pain and should be gentle
  • Breath during your movements, never hold your breath while stretching
  • Keep your back straight
  • When moving your head from side to side, never move it too quickly
  • If you experience any pain, re-evaluate the stretch or simply stop

Tips for Efficient Stretching

  • The best time to stretch your muscles is immediately following a workout, since your muscles are already warm. Stretching helps to alleviate the soreness you experience while working out, and helps increase blood circulation. Stretching after a warm bath or shower is another effective time to stretch.
  • Engage in static stretching, meaning avoid bouncing or over-reaching. Once you have stretched your muscle to an elongated position, there is no need to continue to stretch any further. Simply hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Once a muscle has reached its maximum length, attempting to stretch it further will cause undue stress to your ligaments.

Think of stretching as a reward for you body, an anti-aging measure that will keep your body running properly as your age progresses. Stretching should bring you peace both physically and mentally. Allow yourself to relax while enjoying

stretching’s many benefits.

Exercise Increases Memory in the Elderly

While staying mentally active through mental stimulation (i.e. crossword puzzles, social interaction) is important to maintaining memory, physical stimulation through exercise is equally important to enhancing brain power. Physical activity helps to protect the brain from certain strains of aging according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Those elderly individuals who engage in physical activity are better able to protect their brain from aging, and exercise has even been shown
to reverse some indications of aging.

According to recommendations from The Department of Health and Human Services, the elderly should participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercises a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises a week. Partaking in physical activity gets your blood pumping everywhere in your body including your brain, which may aid in keeping your mind sharp.

The study by the PNAS showed that just one year of moderate physical exercise reversed shrinkage of the brain’s hippocampus and improved spatial memory. The hippocampus plays a vital role in long term and other types of memory, but as we progress into late adulthood the hippocampus begins to shrink – leading to memory loss and the increased risk of dementia.

Adults who remain active tend to have larger medial temporal lobes, according to the PNAS study. In the study 120 sedentary elderly adults were broken up into two groups: one group walked around a track for 40 minutes a day three days a week, and the other group stretched and did toning exercises. The researchers found that the group who participated in aerobic exercises increased the size of their hippocampus, leading to improved memory in the participants.

All the participants in the study had MRI brain scans done before the study began and then had another MRI a year later at the conclusion of the study. The individuals who participated in the walking group saw an increase in volume of their hippocampus by 2 percent – which is the equivalent of turning back the clock two years, according to the study. The individuals in the toning and stretching group lost about 1.5 percent of their hippocampal volume.

This study shows that regular aerobic exercise does in fact play a significant role in memory. Motivating your loved one to stay active not only makes their body less susceptible to falls and injuries, but also serves as an anti-aging device for their brain.

Exercise Increases Memory in the Elderly

While staying mentally active through mental stimulation (i.e. crossword puzzles, social interaction) is important to maintaining memory, physical stimulation through exercise is equally important to enhancing brain power. Physical activity helps to protect the brain from certain strains of aging according to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Those elderly individuals who engage in physical activity are better able to protect their brain from aging, and exercise has even been shown
to reverse some indications of aging.

According to recommendations from The Department of Health and Human Services, the elderly should participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercises a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises a week. Partaking in physical activity gets your blood pumping everywhere in your body including your brain, which may aid in keeping your mind sharp.

The study by the PNAS showed that just one year of moderate physical exercise reversed shrinkage of the brain’s hippocampus and improved spatial memory. The hippocampus plays a vital role in long term and other types of memory, but as we progress into late adulthood the hippocampus begins to shrink – leading to memory loss and the increased risk of dementia.

Adults who remain active tend to have larger medial temporal lobes, according to the PNAS study. In the study 120 sedentary elderly adults were broken up into two groups: one group walked around a track for 40 minutes a day three days a week, and the other group stretched and did toning exercises. The researchers found that the group who participated in aerobic exercises increased the size of their hippocampus, leading to improved memory in the participants.

All the participants in the study had MRI brain scans done before the study began and then had another MRI a year later at the conclusion of the study. The individuals who participated in the walking group saw an increase in volume of their hippocampus by 2 percent – which is the equivalent of turning back the clock two years, according to the study. The individuals in the toning and stretching group lost about 1.5 percent of their hippocampal volume.

This study shows that regular aerobic exercise does in fact play a significant role in memory. Motivating your loved one to stay active not only makes their body less susceptible to falls and injuries, but also serves as an anti-aging device for their brain.

Exercise Your Way to a Fit Brain

Being in the sandwich generation does not leave you with much spare time, and with all the duties piling up on your plate, it can be even harder to remember all the tasks you need to complete in said time. For those of us hoping to retain healthy and active brains into middle age and beyond (or simply enhance our brain power now), the latest scientific studies offer some insight into how to improve one’s memory.

Remaining active appears to be critical in warding off memory loss. While there is no proven connection between preventing Alzheimer’s disease and exercising, remaining active can delay the  creeping memory loss that begins in our thirties. Canadian researchers found that elderly adults who remained active into old age via walking around the block, cooking, gardening etc. scored better on cognitive function tests than those who led wholly sedentary lives. The study was conducted over a five year period and about 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy could remember and think just as well year after year, while those who were less active experienced more memory loss. According
to the researchers, vigorous exercise isn’t necessary to retain memory, simply completing household tasks and going for brief strolls play a large part on avoiding memory loss in the elderly.

Another study published in the Neurobiology of Aging produced similar results. While many people young and old have difficulties getting motivated to exercise, the Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience
Laboratory at the University of British Columbia have shown that vigorous exercise is not necessary for memory retention. According to their study, light-duty weight training effects how well older women think and how blood flows to their brains. After conducting a 12 month study where participants
lifted weights twice a week, the women performed significantly better on mental processing tests than a control group of women who participated in a balance and toning program.  M.R.I. scans also showed that the women who completed the light weight training showed that the portions on the brain that control thinking were considerably more active than the non-weight trainers.

As evidenced by the above studies, simply remaining active both now and into old age plays a significant role in retaining memory. While sectioning off extended blocks of time to exercise may seem almost impossible given your busy schedule,  making time to run errands, garden and complete household tasks isn’t as challenging. Your brain will reward you for remaining active now and into the future.

Senior Health: 6 Great Benefits from Regular Exercise

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important for everyone and has a very positive impact on many aspects of life. As we age daily activity is even more important. If you are able to stay active you can greatly increase your quality of life. Here are a few benefits from staying active at an old age.

  1. Improves mood: Exercise can actually stimulate brain chemicals that can actually leave you feeling better than you did before.
  2. Combats disease: Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. Continue reading

The 6 Secrets to Achieving Balance Every Caregiver Needs to Know

Drunk by real Love

 

As a caregiver, everyday is a mishmash of appointments and routines. From the moment you step out of bed the frenzy ensues. While there is slight comfort in knowing you are not alone, you struggle to find the individual time and outlets that make both your life and your familys’ a little less hectic. Knowing where to look to receive respite and remain level-headed separates the balanced caregivers from those constantly striving to find peace of mind. All caregivers need to be given the tools to find balance each and every day to maintain their sanity and continue to provide excellent care. With a few helpful tips and a couple inside secrets from seasoned caregivers, embracing your inter-balance is finally within reach.

 

  1. Alleviate Winter Blues: The winter months are often a breeding ground for feelings of depression. With the let down from the holidays, the absence of the sun and the ever present gray skies, it is easy to feel down. Leaving the house every day even becomes a challenge with the slick ice and chilling temperatures, however there is no need to allow these feelings to consume your life. Make sure you and your care recipient are getting proper exercise to raise your endorphins. Walk through the mall, join a gym or seek exercise classes for your parents at a local senior center. Make sure to schedule a weekly event both of you can look forward to, whether it is going to a movie, going out to eat or having a friend over to the house.
  2. Winter Proof Your House: Just as winter can be a catalyst for the blues, it can also lead to increased panic for caregivers as they assess safety threats brought on by the winter months. Safety proofing the house for falls is imperative – remove throw rugs and make sure handrails are secured both inside and outside the house. Buy proper winter wear for your loved one – boots with added traction and heavy duty coats are a must. Also ensure that snow removal is adequately handled and that every entryway and sidewalk is properly maintained.
  3. Plan, Plan and Plan Some More:  One of the most critical elements to maintaining your sanity is keeping appointments and activities straight. Make sure to keep your calendar up to date and carry a planner with you. Make arrangements for doctor’s appointments well in advance and stay up to date on all the activities your family has planned as well. Take a notebook with you to all of your loved ones doctor’s appointments so you can jot down what the medical professionals tell you. Also keep notes in this notebook between visits to document your loved one’s progress or write down any questions that may arise.
  4. Maintain Your Support Group: Establishing a tight knit support group will lessen the stress you are undergoing. You should not have to do it all alone, if someone offers their help, hold them accountable and take them up on it. Consult friends, family, websites, books and local support groups. Maintain open communication with your family members and siblings to update them on your parents’ health and request their help.
  5. Examine your care recipient’s current situation: Compile all of your loved ones medical records, health conditions, prescriptions, doctor’s names and contact information. Take inventory of their financial health including their property ownership, debts, income, expenses and credit card information. Make sure you also have access to your parent’s important documents including their will, power of attorney, social security number, insurance policies and deed to the house. Knowing you have this vital information readily available will save you much stress and time.
  6. Say Goodbye to Caregiver Guilt: Guilt consumes much needed energy that should be channeled elsewhere. Never feel bad for living your life and enjoying time away from your caregiver duties, your loved one would want you to. They lived a full life and now it is your chance to do the same. Schedule “you time” on a regular basis. Make time for your spouse, family and friends or enjoy a weekend away.

 If you take these simple suggestions to heart your life will still be interrupted by the occasional bout of chaos, but you will be equipped with the tools to manage these speed bumps and maintain mental balance. Most importantly, always know that you are doing your best, and that your parent appreciates all that you do even if they don’t, or can’t, vocalize it.

It’s Never Too Late to Improve Health

With the average life expectancy constantly on the rise, maintaining one’s health later in life is becoming more important than ever. Taking measures now to improve the elderlys’ health will aid in preventing chronic disease and restoring vigor. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlines the following steps every elderly person should undertake to restore or maintain their health.

Body Changes with Aging

As people age they naturally undergo fundamental changes in their body composition. Elderly lose lean body mass, which consists primarily of muscle and bone, and they gain weight with age as their metabolic rate is reduced.  However, there are steps that can be taken to slow the effects of aging and even reverse these consequences. The elderly should consume high quality protein and whole grains with complex carbohydrates and high fiber, saturated fat should be limited. Watching one’s dietary intake is extremely important with the elderly as they have an increased risk of gaining excess weight, which can lead to additional health problems. 

Obesity plays a damaging effect on one’s health and aids in the development of several diseases in older adults.  Obesity can lead to elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer. Treating an elderly individual’s obesity provides great benefits to those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, those with osteoarthritis and individuals with respiratory problems. However, extreme weight loss may be due to a progressive or preexisting disease, and many elderly people tend to lose weight prior to their death.

Exercise

Making exercise a daily part of life for the elderly is is important to their health. Regular physical activity decreases body weight, total body fat and body mass index while increasing muscle and bone mass. The three main areas the elderly should focus on are:

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Weight-lifting small amounts of weight
  3. Flexibility through stretching

Combining these exercises will improve movement, mobility, balance and posture. As posture deteriorates it becomes increasingly more difficult to breath and losing ones balance may lead to an increase risk of falling. Exercise needs to become a way of life for the elderly, just as their diet becomes a part of their lifestyle.

Cancer Prevention

Diet, nutrition and lifestyle contribute to the development of cancer in 1/3 of all cases. The risk of cancer is reduced in the elderly who abide by healthy nutritional recommendations. It is never too late for elderly adults to make lifestyle changes through diet and exercise to aid in preventing cancer and living an overall healthier lifestyle.

Preventing Falls; Advice from the Mayo Clinic

Injury is the fifth leading cause of death in older adults, and most of these fatal injuries are related to falls. In the United States, falls, occurring primarily among older adults, were the second leading cause of deaths due to unintentional injuries.

You needn’t let the fear of falling rule your life. Many falls and fall-related injuries are preventable. Learn how medical management, physical activity and common-sense precautions can help you avoid falls and stay independent. View the Mayo Clinic Web Page.