Debunking 10 Aging Myths

Many older
Americans lead healthy, interesting, and productive lives well into their later
years. But that’s not what we usually hear about. Instead, the emphasis is
often on the limitations people experience as they get older from problems as
varied as falls, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The result is
that we tend to have a bleak picture of getting older. Fortunately, the future
can be far brighter.
Myth 1: Old people are lonely.
In actuality,
older adults are less lonely than younger people think they are. In a recent
study, 61 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 said that loneliness was a serious
problem for those over age 65. In the same study, however, only 33 percent of
those over age 65 actually thought it was a problem—and only 13 percent said it
was a problem for them.
Myth 2: You’ll end up in a nursing
home.
More than 40
million Americans are older than 65, but only an estimated 1.8 million of them
were in nursing homes in 2006. This indicates that a lot of older people are
not relegated to a nursing home.
Myth 3: Everyone will eventually get
Alzheimer’s disease.
Only about 13
percent of Americans ages 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease or another form
of dementia. That’s just a shade over 5 million people, and it hardly
constitutes everyone who is an older adult.
Myth 4: Your bones will get weak and
brittle.
It’s true
that about half of all women and a quarter of all men will break a bone in old
age because of osteoporosis. But this is not an inevitable part of aging. You
can fight brittle bones by eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, taking
supplements, exercising, avoiding smoking, and asking your health care provider
if medications might help.
Myth 5: Older people have to scale
back their physical activity.
As long as
you’re generally fit and healthy, recent recommendations from the CDC put
virtually no restrictions on activities for people older than age 65. Those
recommendations include a total of 2½ hours of moderate aerobic activity (or an
hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) paired with two or more
strength training workouts each week.
Myth 6: Falling is a normal part of
aging.
Although
falls are more common as people age, they shouldn’t be viewed as normal. In
fact, falls should always alert family members to have their parent or older
loved one checked by his or her doctor, as the falling could be a sign of
another illness. An assessment can often be made with a physical exam and
possibly a few simple tests.
Myth 7: Older people need a lot of
medication to function properly.
Taking
medication may be vital for some older adults, and it’s important to listen to
a doctor’s advice about taking them, but the reality is that all those
medications now being prescribed can sometimes cause problems for older adults.
That’s why it’s important to monitor them carefully to avoid dangerous drug
interactions or unusual side effects. Also, as people grow older, their body
often becomes less efficient at processing medication or excreting it from the
body, so it’s critical to keep your eye out for anything unusual when your
loved ones are taking medication. Contact the doctor if you see anything out of
the ordinary.
Myth 8: Older people need fewer fluids
than younger people.
Older people
tend to drink fewer fluids than younger people, but this is not out of a
diminished need for fluids. Rather, as you age your body doesn’t notify you as
readily when you are thirsty. This means that older people need to be more
conscientious about getting fluids on a regular basis to avoid symptoms of
dehydration, which can be severe and debilitating in later years.
Myth 9: Older people all experience
urinary incontinence.
Levels of
urinary incontinence can run as high as 10 to 42 percent among hospitalized
older adults, but it is not inevitable and it’s also highly treatable. If you
experience urinary incontinence, don’t hide it in shame. First, see your health
care provider—a number of conditions, from an infection to medication side
effects, might be causing your incontinence. Then ask about treatments that
might correct the incontinence.
Myth 10: You don’t need as much sleep
when you are older.
Actually,
older adults need just as much as sleep as younger adults—seven to nine hours a
night. Unfortunately, not enough older people get that recommended amount of
sleep due to a variety of physical and emotional factors. Some lifestyle
changes that can help older adults get more sleep at night include avoiding
daytime naps, getting more exercise, and talking with their health care
provider about changing medications that might be affecting sleep habits.
Source: www.yalemedicalgroup.org/debunking10agingmyths

4 Important Types of Exercise for the Aging

1.   
Endurance. These exercises boost heart rate and
breathing over a period of time. They are good for the heart, lungs, and
circulation. They also help prevent or delay some diseases. Examples are:
walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, or any other activity without
stopping for a period of time.
2.    Strength
Training.
Some
examples are: weight training or body weight exercises such as push-ups or
pull-ups. Lifting weights make older adults strong enough to do what they need
to do and like to do.
3.    Balance.
These exercises help prevent falls, a major cause
of disability in older adults, Try practicing balancing on one foot trying to
increase the length of time one is able to do it over time and then adding some
movement of the eyes or hands to make it more difficult.
4.    Stretching.
Some examples are:
flexibility exercises, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, anything that makes one try to
increase the range of motion of a joint. These exercises will help keep your
body limber and flexible.
Reference: www.yalemedicalgroup.org/stw/page.asp

10 Reasons to Keep Fit as You Age

A lot of us
do not get the physical activity we need, so we are “physically unfit.” “Physical
activity” means any movement of the body that is made by skeletal muscles and
requires energy to accomplish. “Physical fitness” means the ability of a person
to do the physical activity. Physical fitness can be measured by determining
endurance, power, and flexibility.
How
physically independent you are depends on how well you can function physically.
That is one of the best reasons to stay physically active, but it is not the
only reason. Here is a list of 10 reasons why you should make physical activity
a part of your everyday life.

1.    It
increases bone density and limits osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis
makes y our bones weak and brittle. Exercise increases bone strength. The best
kinds of exercise to make your bones stronger are weight-bearing exercises like
walking, and resistance exercises such as lifting weights. Just living an
active lifestyle will help your bones stay strong, but don’t forget you also
need vitamin D and Calcium for good bone health.
2.    It
helps you stay independent.
The
point of being active is to maintain your ability to function. Studies show
that people who exercise over their lifetimes can avoid being disabled at the
end of their lives. Those who do not exercise, if they live long enough, are
sure to experience some kind of disability.
3.    It
increases metabolism.
Metabolism
measures how your body handles and uses nutrients. Strength training increases
muscle mass, which raises metabolism. One benefit is that your body uses more
of the calories you take in because your resting metabolic rate increases. That
leads to less body fat and makes it easier to control weight.
4.    It
reduces you risk for falls.
There
are two reasons for this. The first is that exercise lets you practice keeping
your balance and reacting to things around you. The second is that exercise can
help arrest a natural decline in muscle fitness. Exercise will keep your
muscles fit.
5.    It
makes you more flexible.
Doing
things that put your body through the full range of movement helps keep it flexible.
An example would be, walking instead of driving, or raking leaves instead of
using a leaf blower.
6.    It’s
a reason to be sociable.
Exercise
groups are a good way to meet new people. Since one of the best strategies for increasing your body activity is to
do it in a group, exercise can lead to new friends.
7.    It
improves your mood.
Exercise
is good for your mind. Studies show it reduces depression. It can also lift
your self-esteem. Being physically active can help you improve your sense of
what you can do.
8.    9.
and 10. It helps your entire body.
It
improves the way your lungs work, helps prevent and control diabetes and is
good for your heart. All of the body’s systems deteriorate with age, but much
of that can be attributed to a lack of physical activity. Exercise can slow the
breakdown. Being active will help you live well.
To be safe,
talk with your doctor before you start or add to an exercise plan. Even a
little bit of exercise will help.
Reference:
www.yalemedicalgroup.org/stw/page.asp

What is Aging Life Care or Geriatric Care Management?

Geriatric Care Management , also known as “elder care
management”, senior health care management” and “professional care management,” is the process of planning and coordinating care of the elderly and others with
physical and/or mental impairments to meet their long term care needs, improve
their quality of life, and maintain their independence for as long as possible.
It entails working with people of old age and their families in managing,
rendering, and referring various types of health and social care services.
Geriatric care managers accomplish this by combining a working knowledge of
health and psychology, human development, family dynamics, public and private
resources and funding sources, while advocating for their clients throughout
the continuum of care. For example, they may assist families of older adults
and others with chronic needs such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease
or other dementia.

Overview
Geriatric care management integrates both health care and
psychological care with other needed services such as housing, home care
services, nutritional services, assistance with activities of daily living,
socialization programs, as well as financial and legal planning (ex. banking,
trusts). A care plan made for specific circumstances is prepared after an
individual assessment, and is continuously monitored and modified as needed.


Geriatric
care managers
Geriatric care managers typically have prior training in
nursing, social work, gerontology or other health service areas. They are
expected to have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability
of services in their communities. In some countries and jurisdictions, they may
obtain certification from various professional associations, such as the National Association of Professional
Geriatric Care Managers
in the United States.
Professional care managers help individuals, families and
other caregivers adjust and cope with the challenges of aging or disability by

1. Conducting care-planning assessments to
identify needs, problems and eligibility for assistance.
2. Screening, arranging, and monitoring in-home help
and other services.
3. Reviewing financial, legal, or medical
issues.

       

4. Offering referrals to specialists to avoid
future problems and to conserve assets.
       
5. Providing crisis intervention.
       
6. Acting as a liaison to families at a
distance.
      
7.  Making sure things are going well and
alerting families of any issues.
     
8.   Assisting with moving their clients to or
from a retirement complex, assisted living facility, rehabilitation facility or
nursing home.
     
9.   Providing client and family education and
advocacy.
      
10.  Offering counseling and support.

References:
www.caremanager.org
www.seniormag.com/services.caremanager.htm

How Seniors Can Stay Mentally Sharp

Have you
noticed some changes in your thinking. Maybe you misplace your keys often or
have trouble coming up with the right word in a conversation. How do you know
when these changes are a “normal” part of getting older, or if they might point
to a health problem, such as dementia?

How the Brain Typically Ages
As you age,
your brain’s volume gradually shrinks. When this happens, some nerve cells in
your brain can shrink or lose connections with other nerve cells. In addition,
blood flow within your brain slows down somewhat as we age.
These
age-related transitions are thought to be behind the changes in cognitive
function many people notice as they get older. Everyone has lapses in memory
from time to time, but significant memory loss is never a normal part of aging.
It is important to talk to your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing
memory loss and other cognitive symptoms that are interfering with your normal
everyday activities and relationships.

Tips for Staying Mentally Sharp as
You Age

Control cholesterol problems and high
blood pressure.

Cholesterol problems and high blood pressure can increase your risk of heart
disease and stroke, which hare thought to contribute to the development of
certain types of dementia.

Don’t smoke or drink excessively. Because these are both seen as
putting you at increased risk of dementia, kick the habit if you smoke and if
your drink, only do so in moderation.

Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity is thought
to help maintain blood flow to the brain and reduce your risk of conditions
such as high blood pressure that are associated with the development of
dementia.

Eat a healthy diet. People who consume plenty of
vegetables and fatty fish and keep away from saturated fats are thought to have
a lower risk of cognitive decline.

Stimulate your brain. Keep your mind active by increasing
your level of social interaction, learning new skills, playing challenging games,
and doing other activities that require your brain cells to work. People who
are more socially and intellectually engaged have a lower risk of developing
dementia.
Reference:
www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health.staying-sharp.aspx

Did You Know…

  • Evening primrose oil has been used for the treatment of allergyinduced eczema, diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and hypertension.
  • Ginkgo biloba has been shown to have certain antioxidant, anti – inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. It increases metabolism efficiency, regulates neurotransmitters, and oxygen levels in the brain.
  • Ginseng is reputed to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protect against stress, enhance strength and promote relaxation.
  • Saw palmetto is an herb that is most commonly used to treat problems related to benign prostatic hyperplasia

What you need to know about diabetes and diet

Eating right
is vital if you are trying to prevent or control diabetes. While exercise is
also important, what you eat has the biggest impact when it comes to weight
loss. But what does eating right for diabetes mean? You may be surprised to
hear that your nutritional needs are virtually the same. No special foods or
complicated diets are necessary.
A diabetic diet
is simply a healthy plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat, and moderate
calories. It is a healthy diet for anyone! The only difference is that you need
to pay more attention to some of your food choices-most notably the
carbohydrates you eat.
Myths and facts about diabetes and
diet
Myth: You must avoid sugar at all costs.
Fact: The good news is that you can enjoy
your favorite treats as long as you plan properly. Dessert does not have to be
off limits, as long as it is part of a healthy meal plan or combined with
exercise.
Myth:
A high-protein diet
is best.
Fact:
Studies have shown
that eating too much protein, especially animal protein, may actually cause
insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes. A healthy diet includes protein,
carbohydrates, and fats. Our bodies need all three to function properly. The
key is a balanced diet.
Myth:
You have to cut way
down on carbs.
Fact:
The serving size and
the type of carbs you eat are especially important. Focus on whole grain carbs
since they are a good source of fiber and they are digested slowly, keeping
blood sugar levels more even.
Myth: You’ll no longer be able to eat
normally. You need special diabetic meals.
Fact:
The principals of
healthy eating are the same-whether or not you’re trying to prevent or control
diabetes. Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. You can
easily eat with your family and friends if you eat in moderation.
Source:
www.helpguide.org/life/healthy-diet-diabetes.html

Diabetes and Diet Tips

Diabetes and diet tip #1: Chose
high-fiber, slow-release carbs.
Carbohydrates
have a big impact on your blood sugar levels-more so than fats and proteins,
but you don’t have to avoid them. You just need to be smart about what types of
carbs you eat.
In general,
it is best to limit highly refined carbs like white bread, pasts, and rice, as
well as soda, candy, and snack foods. Focus on high-fiber complex carbs, also
known as slow-release carbs. Slow-release carbs help keep blood sugar levels
even because they are digested more slowly, which prevents your body from
producing too much insulin. They also provide lasting energy and help you stay
full longer.

Diabetes and diet tip #2: Be smart
about sweets
Eating for
diabetes doesn’t mean eliminating sugar. If you have diabetes you can still
enjoy a small serving of your favorite dessert now and then. The key is
moderation.
But maybe you
have a sweet tooth and the thought of cutting back on sweets sounds almost as
bad as cutting them out altogether, The good news is that cravings do go away
and preferences change. As your eating habits become healthier, foods that you
used to love may seem too rich or too sweet, and you may find yourself craving
healthier options.
How to include
sweets in a diabetes-friendly diet
  •          Hold
    the bread, rice, or pasts if you want dessert. Eating sweets at a meal adds
    extra carbs. Because of this it is best to cut back on the other crab
    containing foods at the same meal.
  •      Add
    some healthy fat to your dessert. It may seem counter intuitive to pass over the
    low-fat or fat-free desserts in favor of their higher-fat counterparts. But fat
    slows down the digestive process, meaning blood sugar levels don’t spike as
    quickly. That does not mean that you should reach for the donuts. Think healthy
    fats, such as peanut butter, ricotta cheese, yogurt, or some fruit.
  •       Eat
    sweets with a meal, rather than as a stand-alone snack. When eaten on their
    own, sweets and desserts cause your blood sugar to spike. But if you eat them
    along with other healthy foods as part of your meal, your blood sugar won’t
    rise as rapidly.
  •           When
    you eat dessert, truly savor each bite. How many times have you mindlessly
    eaten your way through a bag of cookies or a huge piece of cake. Can you really
    say that you enjoyed each bite? Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and
    paying attention to the flavors and textures, you will enjoy it more, plus you’re
    less likely to overeat.

Tricks for
cutting down sugar
  •           Reduce
    how much soft drinks, soda and juice you drink. A recent study found that for
    each 12 oz. serving of a sugar sweetened beverage you drink a day, your risk
    for diabetes increases by about 15%. If 
    you miss your carbonation kick, try sparkling water with a twist of
    lemon or lime. 
  •       Reduce the amount of creamers and sweeteners you add to tea and
    coffee drinks.
  •       Reduce
    the amount of sugar in recipes by ¼ to 1/3. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of
    sugar, for example, use 2/3 or ¾ cup instead.
  •            Find
    healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead of ice cream, blend up frozen
    fruit for a creamy frozen treat or enjoy a small chunk of dark chocolate rather
    than milk chocolate.
  •          Start
    with half the dessert you normally eat, and replace the other half with fruit.

Diabetes and diet tip #3: Choose fats
wisely
Fats can
either be helpful or harmful in your diet. People with diabetes are at higher
risk for heart disease, so it is even more important to be smart about fats. Some
fats are unhealthy and others have enormous health benefits. But all fats are
high in calories, so you should always watch your portion sizes.
    
      Unhealthy
Fats
– The two most damaging fats are saturated fats and trans fats, Saturated
fats are found mainly in animal products such as red meat, whole milk dairy
products, and eggs. Trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated oils, are
created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid and
less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturer, and very bad
for you.
      Healthy
Fats
– The best fats are unsaturated fats, which come from plant and fish
sources and are liquid at room temperature. Primary sources include olive oil,
canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Also focus on omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation
and support brain and heart health. Good sources include salmon, tuna, and
flaxseeds.

Diabetes and diet tip #4: Eat
regularly and keep a food diary
If you are
overweight, you may be encouraged to note that you only have to lose 7% of your
body weight to cut your risk of diabetes in half. And you don’t have to obsessively
count calories or starve yourself to do it.
When it comes
to successful weight loss, research shows that the two most helpful strategies
involve following a regular eating schedule and recording what you eat.
Your body is
better able to regulate blood sugar levels and your weight when you maintain a
regular meal schedule, Aim for moderate and consistent portion sizes for each
meal or snack.   
  •       Do
    not skip breakfast. Start your day off with a good breakfast, Eating breakfast
    everyday will help you have energy as well as steady blood sugar levels.
  •          Eat
    regular small meals-up to 6 per day. People tend to eat larger portions when
    they are overly hungry, so eating regularly will help you keep your portions in
    check.
  •          Keep
    calorie intake the same. Regulating the amount of calories you eat on a
    day-to-day basis has an impact on the regularity of your blood sugar levels.
    Try to eat roughly the same amount of calories every day, rather than
    overeating one day or at one meal and then skimping on the next.

Source:
www.helpguide.org/life/healthy-diet-diabetes.html

Parkinson Disease Awareness

Parkinson’s Disease is a
degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The motor symptoms of
Parkinson’s disease result from the death of dopamine generating cells in the
mid brain; the cause of this cell death is unknown. Early in the course of the
disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shaking,
rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later,
cognitive and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring
in the advanced stages of the disease. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep,
and emotional problems. Parkinson’s Disease is more common in the elderly, with
most cases occurring over the age of 50.
Parkinson’s Disease is often
defined as a parkinsonian syndrome that is idiopathic (having no known cause),
although some atypical cases have a genetic origin. Many risk and protective
factors have been investigated: the clearest evidence is for an increased risk
of Parkinson’s in people exposed to certain pesticides and a reduced risk in
tobacco smokers. The pathology of the disease is characterized by the accumulation
of a protein called alphsynuclein in to inclusions called Lewy bodies in
neurons, and from insufficient formation and activity of dopamine produced in
certain neurons within parts of the mid brain. Lewy bodies are the pathological
hallmark of the idiopathic disorder, and the distribution of the Lewy bodies
throughout the Parkinsonian brain varies from one individual to another, The
anatomical distribution of the Lewy bodies is often directly related to the
expression and degree of the clinical symptoms of each individual. Diagnosis of
typical cases is mainly based on symptoms, with tests such as neuro-imaging
being used for confirmation.
Modern treatments are effective
at managing the early motor symptoms of the disease, mainly through the use of
levodopa and dopamine agonists.
As the disease progresses and
dopaminergic neurons continue to be lost, these drugs eventually become
ineffective at treating the symptoms and at the same time produce a
complication called dyskinesia, marked by involuntary writhing movements. Diet
and some forms of rehabilitation have shown some effectiveness at alleviating
symptoms. Research directions include investigations into neuro-protective
agents. Medications to treat non-movement related symptoms of Parkinson’s, such
as sleep disturbances and emotional problems, also exist.
The disease is named after English doctor, James
Parkinson. Several ma-jor organizations promote research and improvement of
quality of life of those with the disease and their families. Public awareness
campaigns include Parkinson’s disease day (on the birthday of James Parkinson,
April 11th) and use a red tulip as the symbol of the disease. People with
Parkinsonism who have enhanced the public’s awareness include Michael J. Fox
and Muhammad Ali.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson_disease

Respite Care: A break for the Caregiver

Taking care
of an older or ill family member can be very rewarding, but it can also be
physically and emotionally draining. That is why it is important for caregivers
to seek occasional respite from their responsibilities. Whether it is for a few
hours a week to rub errands or a few weeks a year to take a much needed
vacation, respite care offer s you the chance to reduce stress, restore energy,
and keep your life in balance.
Some things
to remember when deciding on respite are:
1.   
Involve
your loved one. When planning for time off from your caregiving duties, make
sure to keep your loved one in the loop. Get their input in deciding how much
time you will be away and who will fill in for you when you’re gone. Make sure
to tell them that they will benefit from you being more relaxed and refreshed
and assure them that they will also reap rewards from socializing with other
people.
2.   
Assess
your needs. Make a list of what care will be needed in your absence. Also
decide if the respite care provider will need any special skills or training to
be able to stay with your loved one. If so, understand that your options for
respite caregivers may be more limited.
3.   
Stay
organized. Use a calendar to assist you with helpers or check out online tools
to keep track of appointments and send requests to friends and family. Don’t
forget to include time for yourself and note it on the calendar.
Source:
aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/respitecare