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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Telehealth & Home Safety Equipment to Make Aging at Home Possible


Your best opportunity to stay home safety is to receive the extra support and care you deserve. Telehealth and home safety equipment make it possible for seniors to remain at home with increased confidence and peace of mind.  

Telehealth is a way of delivering health care remotely by means of telecommunications.  It includes a wide variety of technologies to deliver virtual medicine and health care.  The types of technologies utilized include live video, secure electronic communications, remote patient monitoring and communication supported by mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops.  Telehealth is not a specific service, but rather a collection of means to deliver care, monitoring and education.  

Telehealth is most often used to deliver the following range of health care services and information:  

  • Dentistry 
  • Counseling 
  • Physical and occupational therapy 
  • Home health 
  • Chronic disease monitoring and management 
  • Disaster management 
  • Consumer and professional education 
Telehealth & Home Safety Services for Consideration    

ü  Personal Emergency Response System
This portable emergency call system can be set up through a landline or cellular phone line. This system sends an alert out in an emergency to notify the designated first responder.

ü  Medication Monitoring
The medication monitoring unit organizes and dispenses medications according to the physician-prescribed schedule.

ü  Fall Detection Button Fall                    
Fall detection is an additional safeguard for
situations when an individual falls and is
unable to push the help button.  


ü  Mobile Care / GPS Tracking                                 
This discrete, wearable device makes GPS
tracking & location, available alongside two
way automated and hands-free 
communication, from virtually anywhere via
cellular networks.    

Home Safety Equipment for Consideration

·         Riser for the toilet seat
·         Grab bars for the bathroom
·         Hand-held shower head
·         Bath bench
·         Bedroom products (hospital beds, over-bed tables, pads)
·         Medicine droppers and spoons
·         Button loopers and zipper pulls for easier dressing
·         Single-lever faucets for kitchen and bath
·         Touch-tone telephones, calculators and clocks with large numbers
·         Kitchen tools to make opening cans, peeling, cutting and dicing food easier
·         Reachers to eliminate bending and help offset a weak grasp or limited mobility

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Aging in Full Bloom: Three Empowering Aspects of Aging


by Lisa Stockdale 

Enough with all the negativity!  It's high time we learned to celebrate, honor, respect, cherish and embrace the aging process.  Put away your anti-aging mindset and open your eyes to possibility of living out loud instead of accepting the so-called reality of getting old.  Know that you have survived every challenge that life has delivered to your doorstep thus far, and look to the future with the confidence and know-how that experience brings.  Make decisions that bring you peace and happiness and strength. Continue to takes chances, create, learn, engage and explore. 

If you are reading this, your ending has not been written. You owe it to yourself to live with your eyes and arms wide open greeting each new day as your own personal opportunity for growth, happiness and new beginnings.   

Growing old is one thing but getting old is out of the question. To grow old is to continue to pave a path through learning and leadership in the family, workplace and community.  To get old is to stand by and watch things happen as if you are powerless in the experience. The challenges that aging presents are admittedly obstacles associated with aging, but there have always been obstacles associated with aging from puberty to adolescence to young adulthood to mid-life crisis and beyond. We are constantly evolving and making adaptations along the way. 

What are the benefits of aging?  

A NEW KIND OF FREEDOM COMES WITH AGING...

Freedom from the grind of all the demands associated with earlier stages of life like the challenges of building a career or being a caregiver.  Consider the following quote from an email entitled Aging and Friendship submitted to the Echo Press:

"Whose business is it if I choose to read, or play on the computer, until 4 a.m., or sleep until noon?  I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50s, 60s and 70s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

I will walk the beach, in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. I know I am sometimes forgetful.  But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, eventually, I remember the important things."  

A RETURN TO HAPPINESS COMES WITH AGING...

Research indicates that people report being happiest in their youth and then again in their 70s and early 80s. People report being least happy during those years associated with mid-life.  Why?  Maybe it’s because older people have come to understand the value of happiness, and they have learned how to be happy along the way.  They know that happiness is a personal choice.  It is not contingent upon circumstances or the things that have happened in life.  It’s a way of thinking and knowing.  It is closely connected to one’s ability to appreciate the small pleasures like taking a warm bath or a watching the sun set.  It is also closely connected to purposeful living which generally includes maintaining close social ties and engaging in meaningful activities that promote the greater good. 

These days everyone seems to be researching happiness.  There’s even a Happiness Research Institute, which is an independent think tank, working to improve quality of life by exploring human happiness.   Scholars and universities are also focusing on the topic.  According to Acacia Parks, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hiram College, who researches and teaches on the science of happiness, happiness is not about feeling good all the time but instead is associated with a more even-keeled mood.  Parks cites recent research that indicates that those who focus on feeling good all the time actually undermine their ability to be happy by trying to achieve an unrealistic goal.  Parks writes, “You have the ability to control how you feel – and with consistent practice, you can form life-long habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life.”  It seems the researchers are working hard to confirm or prove what many older adults already know.  


NEW OPPORTUNITIES COME WITH AGING...

Many seniors report the opportunity to focus on hobbies and talents that had to be put on hold in their earlier years.  Some return to the university to earn advanced degrees or audit classes without the pressure of exams and assignments.  Others discover hidden talents they never knew they had.  For example, my own mother discovered that she is a talented painter late in life.  Some are blessed with grandchildren and describe being a grandparent very differently than being a parent.   Eva Figes wrote in It's a Nan's World that the difference between being a mother and a grandmother is like the difference between marriage and a love affair.  Apparently, she is enjoying being a grandmother quite a lot.  Others report becoming more assured in their faith or spirituality.  One of my favorite articles on the opportunities associated with aging comes from Loren Olson, a retired psychiatrist, entitled The Opportunities for Aging: Freedom from the Tyranny of Ambition.  

Consider the following excerpt:  

 “We can either measure time or we can experience time.  For me, time still carries a sense of urgency, but the urgency of time has been transformed from a seemingly endless series of appointments and moving from one goal to the next to an urgency for experiencing every moment and not wasting the time that remains.  I decided to stop wearing neck ties.  I promised never to sit through a boring meeting or lecture.  I stopped going to cocktail parties to ‘network’ with people I didn’t really like but who might do something for me.  I moved things from my bucket list to my un-bucket list and began to get rid of things I once treasured but increasingly felt like just some burdensome ‘stuff.’

I stopped doing what I thought I should do to meet someone else’s expectations of me.  I deconstructed my old value system and reconstructed one of my own.  I realized that good relationships are always U-shaped, and to hang on to them sometimes requires a lot of work to get to a richer place. 

I stopped seeking relationships based on what the other person could do for me.  I discovered that whom I dined with was more important than what is on the menu.  I began to shed myself of stuff that had lost its meaning.  I have learned to appreciate my experiences and the wisdom that has come from my successes but also from the mistakes I’ve made” 





Sunday, March 26, 2017

Helping Seniors Understand and Achieve Wellness


The importance of proper nutrition cannot be overstated.  It is vital for older adults looking to stay healthy and maintain their varying degrees of independence. 

Older adults are negatively impacted by poor eating habits and a lack of nutritional understanding for seniors.  Understanding the changing nutritional needs of older adults is critical due to the overlap of several age-related challenges.  Seniors have higher rates of 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.

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

But making dietary changes is difficult.  It can be especially overwhelming for older adults who are set in their ways and resistant to change.  What can be done to encourage change? 

·         Incorporate changes slowly. 
·         Be mindful of medication side effects that by alter appetite. 
·         Plan to share meals as often as possible. 
·         Know the signs of constipation.
·         Address signs of dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. 
·         Be sure dentures are in good repair and fit properly.
·         Consider other dental issues like gum disease.
·         Understand sudden or on-going weight loss as cause for concern. 

Do not hesitate to consult a physician. Your doctor will help identify the underlying causes of loss of appetite, weight loss or malnutrition.  He or she can test for a number of treatable culprits including ulcers, sinusitis, zinc deficiency, thyroid disease, dementia and depression. 

In the meantime, here are three helpful hints: 
ü  Choose a variety of healthy foods.  Eating the same foods day after day is boring and monotonous. 
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.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Eight Ways to Help Seniors Achieve Nutritional Wellness


The importance of proper nutrition cannot be overstated.  It is vital for older adults looking to stay healthy and maintain their varying degrees of independence. 

Making dietary changes is difficult.  It can be especially overwhelming for older adults who are set in their ways and resistant to change.  What can be done to encourage change? 

·         Incorporate changes slowly. 
·         Be mindful of medication side effects that by alter appetite. 
·         Plan to share meals as often as possible. 
·         Know the signs of constipation.
·         Address signs of dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. 
·         Be sure dentures are in good repair and fit properly.
·         Consider other dental issues like gum disease.
·         Understand sudden or on-going weight loss as cause for concern. 

    Do not hesitate to consult a physician. Your doctor will help identify the underlying causes of loss of appetite, weight loss or malnutrition.  He or she can test for a number of treatable culprits including ulcers, sinusitis, zinc deficiency, thyroid disease, dementia and depression.  Doctors can also screen for loss of taste and smell which diminish at variable rates with aging.  Taste and smell affect the desire to eat and impact thirst mechanisms.  

Mindset Matters


Did you know that positive people live longer, happier, healthier lives?  According to our trusted friends at the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of positive thinking include: 
·        Increased life span
·        Lower rates of depression
·        Lower levels of distress
·        Greater resistance to the common cold
·        Better psychological and physical well-being
·        Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
·        Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Most experts agree that these benefits are connected to the positive person’s ability to better manage and cope with hardship including everything from daily stress to grief and/or trauma. 

We are all capable and worthy of making positive changes in our lives regardless of age or circumstance.  We each have the power to change or modify our own dispositions.

·        We can start by counting our blessings instead of focusing on our disappointments. 
·        We can commit to being more active and involved in our communities. 
·        We can practice positive self talk until our words become our realities. 
·        We can grant forgiveness instead of continuing to harbor ill-will or guilt.
·        We can practice kindness and appreciation until they become habits.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Love of a Grandmother...I thought she walked on water!



I don't recall the first time I met my grandmother, but I'm sure it was a precious moment smothered in energetic admiration as only she could deliver.  As a child, I lived on the assumption that all good grandmothers were seven feet tall with high check bones, strength of character and the mesmerizing ability to tell a story. She could turn an activity of daily living into a celebration of monumental portions.  I call them monumental because today those stories are guarded memories tucked away deep in my being. She was willful and a bit of a worry wart when it came to family matters.  I always enjoyed her tendency to fret without regard to the toll it must have taken on her because it prompted her to share what I believed at the time to be adult secrets.  She was also a woman worthy of respect. That realization, like many other truths about my grandmother, never occurred to me until I was grown and she was gone. What I did understand about her from the very beginning was that she loved me.  

On Saturdays the two of us made our weekly trip to the local A&P Supermarket to shop.  Our primary purpose was to buy groceries and I usually ended up with an "unexpected" treat, but the real excitement was in the walk to the bus stop.  We would put our Sunday clothes on a day early, lock arms, throw our heads back and march to the bus stop.  We walked with purpose and pride.  It was my grandmother who first convinced me of my own special beauty.  Those walks were our chance to practice the confidence and poise she claimed we deserved.  

My family moved back to Texas when I was about four-years old and those months away from my grandmother in Kentucky were torturous for me.  I cried for her nightly.  I still remember the day I was reunited with her after almost a year away.  We picked up right where we left off and reminisced about the old days like two old friends at a high school reunion.  I made my father promise never to take us back to Texas.  

When I started school, my grandmother lived in the apartment over top of ours.  After school, I was permitted to visit for one hour daily.  She had a desk in her bedroom and the first half of the hour was spent doing homework and discussing the events of the day.  She always prepared an after-school treat and we shared it during the second half of the hour while we watched a cartoon together on her black and white television that has since become quite famous - Spider Man.  The treat itself was always simple, usually salted cucumbers or red ripe tomatoes. When she could afford it, she would buy a melon or the occasional apple or orange. I have no idea how my grandmother made those salted cucumbers and red ripe tomatoes taste so scrumptious.  That is the magic of a grandparent.  

Grandparents play a unique role in the lives of their grandchildren. They generally represent stability in the face of hardship or change.  They are instrumental in handing down habits of the heart and faith.  They work as watchdogs and advocates.  Please feel free to celebrate your own grandparent by offering a comment.

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.