National Centenarians Day: Will You Live To Be 100?

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:

  1. Whether you have “longevity genes.” How long have other members of your family lived?National Centenarians Day
  2. What is the state of your physical health?
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. Lose the belly fat. People who are “round in the middle” are more likely to die sooner than those with flat bellies.
  2. If you were a healthy-weight as a teenager you may live longer.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

The Benefits Of Pets For Seniors

It’s no secret that pets can enhance our lives. Yes, they do require work and care and veterinarian visits, but the benefits they provide, including companionship, are beyond measure. For as much as we love our pets, did you know they can be helpful for people as they age? Your aging loved ones may benefit from pet ownership, as long as you’re aware of the care they will need – both your parents and the pets.Benefits of pets for seniors

When seniors adopt pets, measures must be put into place for the care of the pets when your aging loved ones can no longer properly take care of them. That is a conversation that needs to be held up front, before the pet comes into the home. You also need to determine what type of pet is best for your parents. Cats require less care than a dog, but a dog will help assure your parents are up and mobile. Taking the dog for a walk is an ideal way to stay agile and even involved in the community and that can stave off loneliness.

What are some other ways in which the seniors in your life can benefit from animal companionship? Here are a few:

  • Physical activity. As mentioned, owning a pet means they will be involved in regular physical activity. Dogs need to be walked. Cats need to be played with. Even fish and reptiles will require some level of interaction and activity.
  • Companionship benefits. Having a pet in the house will mean your loved one will never be alone. If you don’t live close by, it is important that they have a companion as depression can set in when loneliness sets in. The loss of a spouse and a dwindling circle of friends can lead to isolation and that can, in turn, lead to a whole host of health issues.
  • Physical health benefits. It’s been shown that the mere act of petting an animal can help lower blood pressure. It’s also been shown that caring for a pet can not only lower your blood pressure, but improve cholesterol levels and provide better heart health.
  • Weight loss. While having a pet may not lead to weight loss, it may help with weight control, especially if they have a dog. Dogs require physical activity and regular walks and that means your loved one will be physically active as well.
  • Physical connection. If your loved ones live alone they may be bereft of the physical connection of a hug or other human touch. Being able to wrap their arms around their pet can help alleviate that physical craving for human touch.

The positive impact that pets have on our lives cannot be denied, but they do need to be adopted with care with provisions made for their care when your aging loved ones can no longer take on the responsibility.

How To Let Go Of A Dying Loved One

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy. It’s even more difficult for the family when they have to watch their loved one slowly fade away, but that raises the question of “how do you say good bye to a dying loved one?” It’s a question with no easy answers, but it may be a discussion every family should be having.Dying Loved One

Advanced care planning and conversations among family members is crucial to improving the quality of your loved one at his or her end-of-life. Your aging loved ones need to be able to express their desires and the family needs to work together to assure they are met so they can pass on with dignity.

Many health care providers are still hesitant to discuss end of life issues with their aging and ill patients so it may be up to the family to start the discussion. No family member wants to wait until he or she is faced with “what do we do now” when Mom or Dad’s health is failing and you are unclear as to what your parents would have wanted. The best time to have the conversation is when everyone is healthy and all together in the same room, if possible, so everyone can share their thoughts and come to an agreement of what will happen and how Mom and Dad’s final wishes will be honored.

What are some of the questions you may want to ask and have answered when deciding what to do at the end of your loved one’s life? Here are a few:

  1. What do they consider a “full” or quality life?
  2. How much control do they want over their own decisions when facing a terminal illness? Will they want to undergo cancer treatments if it’s a cancer that cannot be “cured” for example?
  3. Do they want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing and their heart stops?
  4. Do they want to be attached to and kept alive by, machines?

Along with these conversations you need to discuss their insurance coverages and how they will pay for hospital care, hospice care or long-term care in a nursing facility. You may also want to discuss who will be designated as the health care proxy and who will make the ultimate decisions on end of life care if they cannot speak for themselves.

Know that even if you have had these conversations and everyone has “accepted” the inevitable, that does not make the final decision any easier nor does it remove any of the grief you will experience. What end of life decisions do is to make it easier for the family to know they have honored their loved one’s wishes and that may make the grieving easier to handle.

The Link Between Loneliness And Heart Disease

Loneliness is something that many seniors in our society face. The loss of a spouse, immediate family moving away and loss of friends leads to loneliness and isolation. Loneliness can also lead to depression, but did you know it can also lead to heart disease? As caregivers it’s Loneliness & Heart Diseaseimportant that we talk with our aging loved ones and find ways for them to remain engaged and involved as a way to stave off loneliness.

Social isolation impacts your health – whether young or old – and can cause to high blood pressure, weight gain, cognitive decline, and in some cases, heart disease or stroke. University of York researchers discovered that those who are isolated and who feel lonely have close to a 30 percent higher risk of heart disease and more than 30 percent higher risk of having a stroke. Close to 200,000 adults were surveyed and followed for the study.

There are many reasons that individuals feel lonely and may even isolate themselves. There are also many reasons why that isolation can lead to poor health and even poor diets, poor sleep habits and lack of exercise. It was even found that those who were lonely are less likely to see a doctor when they don’t feel well and are also less likely to take their medications as prescribed.

Being alone can also lead to more alone time because it can sometimes feed upon itself. If your aging loved ones begin cancelling appointments or afternoons out with friends or if they are no longer involved in activities they once loved you may want to intervene. Talk with them to uncover the reasons why they are no longer involved and what you can do to help. Being widowed can lead to individuals shutting themselves away because they don’t want to feel like a “third wheel.” Help your loved one find places to make new friends, consider church groups, senior centers or other local resources that may be available.

Caregivers who don’t live locally may want to invest in a simple to use computer for their parents to help them keep in contact. Gift them with an easy to use computer and show them how to log in and accept video calls from you. Being able to talk via video allows them interaction with friends and family that live far away and it also allows the caregiver a way to see whether Mom and Dad are looking healthy. A video chat is also a great way for grandparents to stay in touch with grandchildren.

What can you do to help assure your aging loved ones are healthy, involved and not isolated? Talk with friends and family and put together a plan today!

Aging Does Have Its Benefits, Part 2

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.Aging Has Benefits

  • 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!

Aging Does Have Its Benefits, Part 1

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.Aging Benefits

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.

4th Of July Safety

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks Safety

We are rapidly approaching that time of year when we wish America a Happy Birthday.  One would be hard pressed to find a single American who doesn’t have fond memories of the Fourth of July.  The excitement, the music, the baseball games, the family picnic … oh yeah, AND the fireworks.  Their sheer beauty alone makes the day worth it.  It is all fun and games.  Well mostly.

Anything with the word “Fire” in its name should command attention and respect.  As you approach the holiday, consider this:

  • Before you do anything, check the law to see if home use fireworks are legal in your state. Or even your city. Many large metropolitan suburbs have varying laws between cities and you can be fined for violation of illegal fireworks.  There are many good reasons for these laws.  For one, they are a safety risk that many people underestimate.  In drought ridden areas of the country, they present a real fire threat to homes and lives and the environment.
  • If you do live in an area where home fireworks are legal, remember that this is primarily an adult activity. Children love the lights and sounds of fireworks but should not be allowed to utilize fireworks without close adult supervision.  Even fun things like sparklers can present a threat to safety.  Hot metal wire on gentle children’s skin just doesn’t mesh well.  Sparklers can get as hot as 1800 degrees … enough temperature to melt gold.
  • Always make sure that you have a garden hose and a bucket of water close by. The bucket is perfect for dropping extinguished fireworks and sparklers in to totally deactivate them.    Remember too that the “dud” firecracker you have may just be slow!  Always wait 20 minutes before approaching the failed firecracker … and then drop it immediately into that bucket of water.  Over 3000 children are injured by fireworks every year … and most of those are around July 4.  Fire men and women respond to over 50,000 fires annually caused by fireworks.
  • If you are using more powerful fireworks, make certain that all children and other adults are at a safe viewing distance. Children, even the “adult” ones, are drawn to the excitement of fireworks.  Maintain a safe distance.  That includes distance from your home or flammable grasses, brush or leaves.    It takes just a small spark to ignite a fire.  Which brings to mind that you should NEVER carry fireworks in your pocket.  Once again, a small amount of friction can set off an explosive firecracker.  You really don’t want that experience.
  • Purchase your fireworks from only reputable dealers. In the 1966, many types of fireworks were banned but yet they are still produced illegally and find their way into the hands of teenagers and adults.  Even worse, many people make their own fireworks.  And putting explosives under metal bean cans or glass just makes it worse.  Just don’t.

One other great tip:  Use your Smartphone as a safety tool.  LifeFone offers a great application that can help you get immediate help with the push of a button if something goes wrong.  If you are safe and smart, you won’t need it.  If you are SMART, you’ll have the bases covered.  Enjoy!

LifeFone Mobile Apps

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.

Did You Know There Are Foods That Make You Hungrier?

Have you had that moment when you feel hunger pangs but look at the clock and realize you’d finished a meal not too long ago? If you’re wondering why you’re hungry not too long after a meal, many times it’s because the food you’re eating can leave you hungrier than you were before! It’s true.Salty Pretzels

Here are some of the foods that will leave you hungrier sooner:

  1. Salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips satisfy a craving for salt, but in truth the salt is an “addictive” additive that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Salted foods also won’t satiate you and will leave you hungrier than you were before you started! If it’s difficult to eat the recommended serving size of a salted snack, it might be best to keep them out of the house. If you’re craving a salty snack pair it with protein – a hard-boiled egg, for example to help satiate you.
  2. Artificial sweeteners have the same impact on your blood sugar and your hunger pangs as salt. It’s been shown that artificial sweeteners can increase your appetite. Consider this: real sugar is registered in the brain as a “reward” while artificial sweeteners don’t register that “reward” leaving you craving for sweets.
  3. White breads, pasta and rice are made from refined flours and that means you need to eat more in order to feel full. These foods can also cause a spike in your blood sugar because the carbohydrates are converted to sugar – this is problematic for diabetics. If you’re craving bread or pasta, eat whole grain bread, brown rice or combine your refined flours with protein to help fill you up and keep you fuller longer.
  4. Alcohol is very calorie dense, but lacks nutrition. Alcohol can also lead to mindless snacking. If you’re drinking, don’t drink on an empty stomach.
  5. Processed foods such as potato chips, cakes and pizza are delicious, but are typically made from refined flour and that raises your blood sugar. Processed foods also activate the “reward centers” of our brains and sends us a message of, “wow, that was great, I want more” and it triggers cravings. Stick with nuts and carrots instead of processed foods.

We know that the job of caregiving can affect your eating habits. If you’re aware of your cravings, when they strike and what you are really hungry for, chances are you can choose a healthier alternative. Stop and think about whether you’re craving salt or sweet or something crunchy or cold or hot or creamy and then find a healthy alternative to potato chips or cake; choose nuts or a bite of dark chocolate.

Healthy Snacks

Healthy SnacksOne of the keys to health and a healthy weight could just be the type of snacks you eat. Many dieticians recommend eating five or six small meals per day instead of three large ones including healthy snacks. If you eat portion-controlled meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner adding in healthy smart snacks throughout the day just might help prevent overeating at your next meal.

Here are some smart snacking tips:

  1. Eat whole grain snacks. They provide staying power and give you energy. High fiber cereals and whole grain pretzels are a couple of suggestions.
  2. Eat breakfast. It is still considered the most important meal of the day.
  3. Look for foods that contain healthy fats such as peanut butter or nuts. Add those with apple slices or celery sticks.
  4. Nuts contain many beneficial nutrients and lead to satiety; they do have calories so eat the correction portions.
  5. Look for snacks that combine proteins, fats and low amounts of carbohydrates. Consider nuts and grapes or low fat cheese and whole grain crackers. A balanced snack will fill you up and keep you satisfied.

It’s important to snack mindfully. It’s easy to open the cupboard, grab a few treats and then go back and grab a few more.  Look at the recommended portion sizes, put your snack on a plate and then sit down and enjoy what you’ve chosen.

If you know you’re going to be on the run all day pack some healthful snacks so you’re not tempted to pull into the drive-through.

Become a label reader. Not all “organic” or “healthy-sounding” foods are actually healthy. You can enjoy most every food in moderation.

The next time you’re craving a snack, let yourself enjoy one – in moderation and in a correct portion size!