Tag Archives: exercise

Sandwich Generation: Staying Healthy

The Sandwich Generation is the generation of people caught between caring for their aging parents as well as their own children. Thousands of families across the country are affected by this situation. It can be very stressful and hard on the individuals both mentally and physically. These stresses can cause those affected to gain weight and carry on an unhealthy lifestyle.

With the responsibility of caring for two different generations many people find it hard to find time to care for their own health. The combination of having less time and more stress and responsibility causes many people to put their own health and fitness on the back burner. This can result in weight gain and other health problems. These health issues can be avoided with proper time management and being able to take time for yourself.

One of the main things to remember is to some time to care for yourself.  You might feel overwhelmed in this generation squeeze but you must be able to step back and give yourself some ‘you’ time. We all need time for ourselves to do some things we love and get away from the everyday stresses of life. So give yourself a couple of hours a day to go to the gym or go for a walk or bike ride through your neighborhood. This will both relieve a lot of stress and also this exercise will give you more energy throughout the day.

It’s also really important to eat the right foods. Healthier eating will help to manage your weight and give you more energy. I know it can be difficult to find time in your busy day to cook a healthy meal with your busy schedule but there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re eating a healthy diet. One thing you can do is prepare meals ahead of time. During a Saturday or Sunday you can plan your meals for the week. Cook these meals ahead of time so you can just reheat and serve. This saves time and relieves one more stress you have. Also it’s a good idea to have fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator for easy healthy snacking. Fruits and vegetables are easy to grab and go and you won’t have the temptation to stop at the local drive through.

It is possible to care for your parents and children and also give yourself the attention you deserve. Don’t let the generation squeeze effect your health and quality of life. Use these tips to help work through the stress and responsibility of living in the Sandwich Generation.

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.

The Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

Staying young at heart and improving your overall health are inevitable benefits when it comes to exercise. With age our hearts and bones may weaken, making exercise invaluable.

The benefits of exercise are endless. Even a small improvement in strength can assist joints and make your parent’s ability to sit, stand and walk significantly easier. Exercise also improves the quality of sleep, making it easier for people who regularly exercise to engage in sleep more deeply. Participating in physical activity releases endorphins, so your parents will feel happier and more content. It also increases brain functionality and helps in combating diseases, fighting depression and preventing Alzheimer and dementia.

Before beginning an exercise regimen it is important for seniors to get a checkup from the family doctor. If your parent will be exercising in the comfort of their own home it is also advisable to get a medical alert system in case of emergency. Medical alert systems, like LifeFone, provide on call specialists 24 hours a day to ensure early intervention.

Exercise for the elderly does not have to be strenuous. It is important to focus on four main areas of exercise: stretching, strengthening, endurance and balance.

Stretching will help prevent injuries from daily movement, it is also important to stretch before exercising to loosen up tight, cold muscles. Important areas to concentrate on include the calves, hamstrings, shoulders, triceps and the upper and lower back.

Purchasing a light, basic set of hand weights is essential to strengthening. However, your parents might want to start out with no weights to test their strength and work up to using them. Take all exercises slow. It is also important to work on strengthening your back as you age since it can stiffen and become more sensitive. Working on your back will help with overall health.

Whether your parent or loved one decides to jog, walk or swim, they will gain endurance as long as they participate in these exercises consistently. It is important to drink water before and after exercising and have your parents check their heart rate.

Balance is lost with age, but it can be improved through exercise. Balance exercises should not be attempted alone. Falls are of great concern to the elderly, so the more time they can spend improving balance, the easier it will be for them to maintain good health and independence.