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Sunday, February 26, 2017

6 Key Vitamins & Nutrients for Senior Nutrition


1.     Folic Acid found in spinach, asparagus, breakfast cereals, and lentils.
 
2.     B-12 found in turkey, salmon, crab, mussels, chicken, beef, eggs and milk.

3.     Vitamin C found in oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, broccoli and potatoes.

4.     Vitamin D found in canned salmon, sardines, mackerel, instant oatmeal, cereal, egg yolks, soy milk, cow’s milk and orange juice fortified with Vitamin D. 

5.     Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, canned tuna, oysters, herring, sardines, salmon, trout and crab.

6.     Calcium found in orange juice, cow’s milk, leafy greens and kale. 


A note about sodium...
Also remember to limit sodium intake.  Processed foods are typically extremely high in sodium and should be avoided.   Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, fresh meats and fish, dry beans, oats, eggs and brown rice are all naturally low in sodium.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Understanding Senior Nutrition


Older adults are negatively impacted by poor eating habits and a lack of nutritional understanding for seniors.  Aging presents different nutritional needs.  Still, seniors continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials, and information about senior diets is not typically included in most popular diet plans.

Understanding changing nutritional needs of older adults is critical due to the overlap of several age-related challenges.  Seniors have higher rates of common chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  Others live with chronic pain, osteoporosis and various forms of arthritis.   Many face daily challenges of managing complicated medication regimes.  The elderly are more likely to live alone which can lead to increased likelihood of loneliness, isolation and even depression.  Living alone also means cooking for one and eating alone which both have negative nutritional consequences.   In addition, many seniors face challenges associated with living on a limited or fixed income which often compromises their ability to purchase nutritional food.  

Studies show that proper senior nutrition reduces the risk of the following:

·        Compromised immune system
·        General muscle and body weakness leading to more falls
·        Osteoporosis
·        High blood pressure
·        Diabetes
·        Heart disease
·        Certain types of cancer
·        Certain types of arthritis

Older adults require a senior- nutritious and well-balanced diet to thrive.  Doctors generally recommend a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains to maintain and improve overall senior health.  Other recommendations include:

ü Choose a variety of healthy foods.  
Eating the same foods day after day is boring and monotonous. 
Eating a variety of healthy foods enhances the dining experience and
makes staying on track easier. 
ü Become better informed.  
Understanding senior nutrition includes taking the side effects of
medication into consideration, and it empowers seniors to tailor a 
 nutritious plan with their special needs in mind. 
ü Stay hydrated.  
Staying hydrated will require a conscious effort because as we age,
we tend to get thirsty less often even though we still require the same 
amount of liquids as we ever did.  


For more information on healthy eating habits for seniors, visit Nutrition Programs for Seniors.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Heart-Healthy Exercise for Older Adults


The American Heart Association recommends that older adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or the equivalent of 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. 

The benefits of exercise for older adults with heart disease include the opportunity to optimize heart health, control diabetes, keep strength up, improve mood and promote independence.  It is especially important for older adults to work to maintain their strength and endurance since managing heart disease is a lifelong effort. 

These three cardiovascular exercises are heart-friendly for seniors:

Ø  Light-weight lifting
Ø  Yoga
Ø  Water aerobics


While it is true that many older adults face physical challenges to exercising due to osteoarthritis, risk of injury and the cumulative effects of aging, it is also true that the benefits of exercising greatly outweigh the risks. 


Aging brings an increased risk for heart disease and cardiovascular events.  In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death for adults over the age of 65.  That’s why understanding the value of a heart-healthy lifestyle is so important for older adults including our parents, spouses and ourselves. 

Some older adults believe that heart disease is an inevitable part of aging, but a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent heart disease.  Others underestimate the importance of heart health because they believe heart disease can be cured with surgery or medicine.  The truth is heart disease is a lifelong condition that never goes away once it presents. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tips for Caring for Older Adults with Heart Disease


Caregivers are faced with the daunting challenge of providing direction, advice, encouragement and support for loved ones managing heart disease. Managing heart disease is a scary proposition for everyone involved because the risks are great. In addition, the tasks of learning to recognize symptoms, manage medications and make the necessary lifestyle changes can be downright overwhelming.  It's no wonder fear and anxiety often crop up making caring for someone with heart disease difficult.  

Being anxious is a normal response to heart disease or an acute episode like a heart attack. Reassure your loved one that making the recommended lifestyle changes and taking medications regularly and as prescribed will greatly increase the likelihood that he or she will be okay.  

Other tips to reduce stress and improve heart health include: 

1) Encourage exercise. Cardiovascular exercise can help improve circulation, regulate blood pressure, combat depression and control diabetes.

2) Consider relaxation techniques.  Practicing relaxation techniques has been found to reduce stress, boost the immune system and promote heart health.

3) Encourage your loved one to take ownership in their recovery process.  Research shows that patients who practice self care and self monitoring are more successful.  

4) Consider utilizing telehealth or home safety monitoring equipment.  Remote healthcare monitoring can aid in the diseases management process and provide peace of mind.  

5) Be sensitive to your loved one's lifestyle changes.  Do not smoke or eat high-fat foods in front of them.  

6) Seek professional help.  Talk to your doctor. 

Taking steps to avoid stress and promote health are beneficial across the board - for the caregiver, other family members and for the one with heart disease.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Importance of Heart-Healthy Lifestyles for Seniors


Aging brings an increased risk for heart disease and cardiovascular events.  In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death for adults over the age of 65.  That’s why understanding the value of a heart-healthy lifestyle is so important for older adults including our patients, clients, parents, spouses and ourselves. 

Some older adults believe that heart disease is an inevitable part of aging, but a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent heart disease.  Others underestimate the importance of heart health because they believe heart disease can be cured with surgery or medicine.  The truth is heart disease is a lifelong condition that never goes away once it presents. 

What is heart disease?  The term heart disease refers to a group of cardiovascular diseases which are diseases of the heart and blood vessel system.  The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).  CAD is often associated with heart attacks, heart failure, chest pain and irregular heartbeat.  Other cardiovascular diseases include stroke, high blood pressure and rheumatic heart disease. 

The American Heart Association has developed a simple seven-step list to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives.  The list includes the following:

·         Get active    
·         Eat better
·         Lose weight
·         Stop smoking
·         Manage  blood pressure
·         Control cholesterol
·         Reduce blood sugar

A heart-healthy lifestyle is possible at any age, but it does require a conscious effort.  In addition to the recommendations provided by the American Heart Association, the following recommendations are also meaningful: 

·         Consider reducing alcohol intake.  Excess alcohol consumption can negatively impact health conditions that contribute to heart disease like blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. 


·         Work to reduce stress.   Stress might be a risk factor or it could be that high levels of stress compound common chronic illnesses associated with aging like high blood pressure or diabetes.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Meet Senior Agenda's Senior of the Year 2016...Ms Mary Greenlee


She's poised, polite, sophisticated, intelligent, articulate, dramatic, beautiful and smart.  Her eyes dance when she speaks and her smile is contagious.  She walks with purpose and speaks with confidence. She says you get smarter as you grow older because you just can't keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  

But the thing that truly captivated us about Mary was her energy.  Her energy is electric.  This woman isn't slowing down. She isn't getting old. She isn't growing tired.  She's out and about still turning heads and bending ears.  

Meet Mary Greenlee.  We had the privilege of interviewing her on Senior Agenda in August of 2016.  Listen to the interview here.  

Mary earned her BA in Communications from Denison University in 1962 followed by her MA in Theatre Direction from Wayne State University in 1967. She worked as a teacher prior to her years as a stay-at-home mom, and then served as Director of the Franklin County Drug Free Schools Consortium from 1987-1996.  

She founded a company called Transition Times in 2009 after her own discoveries about the importance of being prepared following the sudden loss of her lifelong spouse.  Transition Times  provides adults with a comprehensive approach to pre-planning that goes beyond typical legal and financial considerations.  Mary drew on the expertise of over 40 professionals including physicians, attorneys. financial planners, accountants, bankers, nurses, and funeral planners to connect the dots.  She is quick to point out that planning isn't enough. You also want to be sure the information is accessible.  She developed a Life Facts Book, available in notebook and spiral versions, to organize and maintain everything from passwords to medical information to household services to legal documents and beyond.   

What will Mary be up to next?  We're not sure but stay tuned and we will let you know.  In the meantime, please learn more about Transition Times and join us in congratulating Mary Greenlee as Senior Agenda's Senior of the Year 2016!  













Saturday, January 21, 2017

Top Six Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain for Seniors


Teaching seniors to self-manage their pain and understand pain treatment options is necessary to reduce or eliminate chronic pain.  Safe treatments for seniors are available and include:

·        Medications or Drug Therapy / Prescription and Nonprescription
If over-the-counter drugs do not provide relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger prescription medications like muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other prescription painkillers. 


·         Physical and/or Occupational Therapy / Out-patient or Home Health
Physical and occupation therapies help to relieve pain by using special techniques that improve movement and function along with stretching,  strengthening, and other pain-relieving techniques.
·        Exercise
Research shows that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long run by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility.  Types of recommended exercises for senior chronic pain suffers include swimming, biking, walking and yoga. 
·       Chiropractic Treatment & Massage
Chiropractic treatment and massage are increasingly used by seniors suffering from chronic pain – especially when the pain is occurring in the back and/or neck.  The effectiveness of these techniques is an open and on-going debate.  Osteopathic doctors are also trained in bone manipulation techniques like the ones used by chiropractors. 

·       Psychological Treatment for Depression & Anxiety
Chronic pains leads to increased levels of anxiety, stress, depression, anger and fatigue.  Reaching out to a psychologist or counselor for professional help can help ease the emotional toll of chronic pain and make pain management possible.

·       Alternative Therapies / Acupuncture, Meditation, Biofeedback
Some people find relief in mind-body therapies and dietary approaches including nutritional supplements.  Alternative therapies are not always benign.  Always talk to your doctor before trying an alternative approach.  Be sure to tell your doctors about any alternative treatments you are using. 


Seniors and the elderly suffering from chronic pain should see their doctor for a complete assessment to rule out underlying causes that can be treated or to learn how to manage their pain.  

Chronic pain poses a significant problem for many seniors.  Pain is incorrectly thought to be a natural or inevitable part of the aging process.  Consequently, it is often under-reported and under-treated. Too often seniors do not report their pain because they do not believe it can be treated.  Some worry that reporting it will lead to expensive testing, additional medications or a new diagnosis.  Others fail to report it when they are in denial or fearful about disease progression when a diagnosis is in place.  And then there are age-related conditions like hearing loss and dementia that make it more difficult to communicate or assess pain.  To complicate matters even further, studies indicate that the pain threshold increases with advanced aging so pain tolerance decreases with age.  Increases in pain sensitivity have been attributed to age-related anatomical, physiological and biochemical changes. 

Treating chronic pain in seniors requires understanding the special needs of seniors and the elderly. Some older adults require special care because of multiple medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other common ailments. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Complexities of Chronic Pain for Older Adults


Chronic pain poses a significant problem for many seniors.  Pain is incorrectly thought to be a natural or inevitable part of the aging process.  Consequently, it is often under-reported and under-treated. Too often seniors do not report their pain because they do not believe it can be treated.  Some worry that reporting it will lead to expensive testing, additional medications or a new diagnosis.  Others fail to report it when they are in denial or fearful about disease progression when a diagnosis is in place.  And then there are age-related conditions like hearing loss and dementia that make it more difficult to communicate or assess pain.  To complicate matters even further, studies indicate that the pain threshold increases with advanced aging so pain tolerance decreases with age.  Increases in pain sensitivity have been attributed to age-related anatomical, physiological and biochemical changes. 

Treating chronic pain in seniors requires understanding the special needs of seniors and the elderly. Older adults require special care because of multiple medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other common ailments.  

Teaching seniors to self-manage their pain and understand pain treatment options is necessary to reduce or eliminate chronic pain.  Safe treatments for seniors are available and include:

·       Medications or Drug Therapy / Prescription and Nonprescription
·       Physical Therapy / Out-patient or Home Health
·       Occupational Therapy / Out-patient or Home Health
·       Chiropractic Treatment & Massage
·       Psychological Treatment for Depression & Anxiety
·       Alternative Therapies / Acupuncture
·       Mind-Body Therapies / Meditation, Biofeedback
·       Dietary Approaches / Nutritional Supplements
·       Pain Clinics

Seniors and the elderly suffering from chronic pain should see their doctor for a complete assessment to rule out underlying causes that can be treated or to learn how to manage their pain. 

Please note:  Alternative therapies are not always benign.  For example, nutritional supplements may interact with other medications you may be taking.  Always talk to your doctor before trying an alternative approach and be sure to tell your doctors what alternative treatments you are using.  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to Choose a Home Health Care Provider

  

With so many Medicare-certified home health care providers, it’s no wonder choosing one can seem like a chore.

The key is to plan ahead and ask the right questions.

Let’s start with the importance of planning.  We often talk about the importance of planning when it comes to advance directives, financial and legal considerations, and funeral services, but we seldom talk about the importance of selecting preferred medical providers before you find yourself in need of them.  This is especially important for those living with chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and many lung diseases.  You owe it to yourself or your loved one to at least become familiar with the various hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities and home health care providers in your community and what you should expect from each of them before you or someone you love needs care. 

Selecting a home health care provider is an important health care decision.  Interviewing providers to determine which one is right for you is recommended.  Consider asking all or some of the following questions when shopping for an in-home provider: 

1.       Who owns the company? 
Find out who owns the company and weigh out how the various type of ownership might play a role in the care, service, and reliability you experience.  Is the provider a part of a large national firm, medium-sized corporation or a smaller boutique-type of provider?  Do you expect to be treated like a number or an individual?  Has the company changed hands moving from one owner to the next during its history?

2.        How long has the company been in business?
The number of years a home health care provider has been in business is not always relevant to quality of care, but it will give some idea about stability and experience. 

3.        How are employees screened, trained and insured? 
All Medicare-certified providers are required to conduct rigorous background checks on licensed clinicians and staff members, but ask about company policy on drug testing, references, on-going training, and hiring experienced clinicians.  Ask how employees are insured and bonded. 

4.        Will a nurse or therapist be assigned to my care or will I see multiple clinicians? 
A reputable home health care provider will work to ensure that the same clinicians see the same patients visit to visit.  It promotes continuity of care and makes for a better customer experience. 

5.        What are the most recently reported star ratings for the provider? 

  CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) recently began ranking Medicare-certified home health care providers using a 5-Star system.  Providers earn one to five stars, the more stars the better, for quality care based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfacton. The idea of the new Star-rating system is to make it easier for consumers to choose a home health care provider and also to motivate providers to make improvements.  

To shop for a home health care provider visit Home Health Compare The site allows consumers to do side by side comparisons for quality of care for all Medicare-certified home health care providers.  



Friday, September 9, 2016

Caregiver Considerations



We’ve talked so much about caregiver stress that the phrase barely packs a punch anymore. You’ve heard all the “cliché advice” from make time for yourself to share the load. It all sounds so reasonable and within reach, unless, of course, you’re the caregiver.

Caregivers are well-acquainted with guilt, self-doubt, conflict, and exhaustion. Their days are characterized with highs and lows, dilemmas and predicaments, anxiety and resolve. It’s an emotional roller coaster that requires tremendous strength of character and devotion. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is a reason we spend so much time talking about it. The stress is real. The experience is consuming. The path is unpredictable.

1. LEARN about your loved one’s condition
Being in the know will help to reduce stress and fear. Learn everything you can by consulting with physicians, visiting your local library and becoming acquainted with community resources.

2. PLAN ahead
Once you have educated yourself about your loved one’s condition, devise a plan that includes choosing potential healthcare providers in advance, preparing advance directives, and getting financial and legal affairs in order.

3. PRACTICE self-care
Taking care of yourself makes it possible for you to continue to be a caregiver to your loved one. Capable caregivers find the time to eat right, exercise, sleep and even schedule daily quiet time for relaxation, mediation or prayer.

4. CELEBRATE moments & make memories
Embrace the chance to live in the moment and enjoy your loved one when opportunities for laughter and intimacy present.  Allowing yourself to enjoy those moments as they unfold can go a long away in alleviating stress.

5. KNOW that you will make mistakes 
Making mistakes opens up the possibility of finding a better way to do things. At the end of the day, it won’t be the mistakes that matter. What matters is your willingness to keep putting one step in front of the other as you continue to care for your loved one.

6. TRY NOT to be a control freak
Trying to control every aspect of care will prove impossible for you and also work to alienate those willing to help. Folks will be less likely to help if you micromanage or bark orders.

7. ASK for help
You can do anything, but not everything. The next time a well-meaning neighbor, friend or family member asked what they can do to help, tell them. Make a list of chores that you could use help with and share the load.

8. RESPITE care
Adult day care, private duty home care, or even a brief stay at an assisted living or skilled nursing facility for your loved one may be helpful and/or necessary. Taking a break when you need one is another way of practicing self-care.

9. LEARN about signs & symptoms 
You are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems including depression. Once you burnout, care-giving is no longer a healthy solution for you or your loved one. That’s why it is so important to watch for warning signs and seek professional help when needed.

Being a caregiver is truly a labor of love. If you find yourself becoming too overwhelmed to continue being the sole caregiver, consider hiring a reputable private duty home care agency to help alleviate some of the burden.