4 Senior Driving Tips

Senior driving tip
Understanding how aging affects driving.
Aging tends to results in a reduction of strength,
coordination, and flexibility, which can have a major impact on your ability to
safely control a car. For example:
  • Pain or stiffness in your neck can make it
    harder to look over your shoulder to change lanes or look left and right at
    intersections to check for other traffic or pedestrians.
  • Leg pain can make it difficult to move your foot
    from the gas to the brake pedal.
  • Diminished arm strength can make it hard to turn
    the steering wheel quickly and effectively.
  • As reaction times also slow down with age, you
    may be slower to spot vehicles emerging from side streets and driveways, or to
    realize that the vehicle ahead of you has slowed or stopped.
  •  Keeping track of so many road signs, signals,
    and markings, as well as all the other traffic and pedestrians, can also become
    more difficult as you lose the ability to effectively divide your attention
    between multiple activities.

You may have driven your entire life and take great pride in
your safety record, but as you age, it is critical that you realize your
driving ability can change. To continue driving safely, you need to recognize
that changes can happen, get help, when they do, and be willing to listen if
others voice concerns.

See Senior Driving tip #2 in Friday’s blog (8/2/13).
Source: www.helpguide.org/elder/senior_citizen_driving.htm

How to talk to a loved one about driving concerns

Driver safety can often be a sensitive issue for seniors. A
driver’s license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol
of freedom and self-sufficiency. Understandably, driving is not a privilege that
anyone wants to relinquish willingly. Still, safety must come first.
Some older drivers may be aware of their faltering ability
but still be reluctant to give up driving completely. Another person’s concerns
may force the senior driver to act. They may even feel relieved to have someone
else help make the decision to stop driving. Some seniors may forget that they aren’t
supposed to drive. If that is the case, it is even more important to remove the
car or car keys to make it impossible to drive. If you find yourself in the
position of talking to an older friend or family member about their driving,
remember the following:
  •     Be
    For many seniors, driving is an integral part of independence.
    May older adults have fond memories of getting a driver’s license. At the same
    time, don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a true concern.
  •          Give
    specific examples.
    It is easier to tune out generalizations like “You just
    can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You
    have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly
    at stop signs three times the last time we drove.”
  •          Find
    strength in numbers.
    If more than one family member or close friends has
    noticed, it is less likely to be taken as nagging. A loved one may also listen
    to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.
  •          Help find
    The person may be so used to driving that they have never
    considered alternatives. You can offer concrete help, such as researching
    transportation options or offering rides when possible. If your family member
    is reluctant to ask for help, it can lead to isolation and depression.
  •          Understand
    the difficulty of the transition.
    Your loved one may experience a profound
    sense of loss having given up driving. Don’t dismiss their feelings but try to
    help with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, try slowly
    transitioning the senior out of driving to give them time to adjust. For
    example, your loved one may begin the transition by no longer driving at night
    or on the freeways, or by using a shuttle service to specific appointments.


      Source: www.helpguide.org/elder/senior_citizen_driving.htm

6 Superfoods to Add to Your Diet

Delicious and easy to prepare, these 6 superfoods may reduce
your risk of chronic disease and even boost brainpower.

Beans are full of fiber, which fills you up and helps lower
cholesterol. They are also a good, low fat source of protein, carbohydrates,
magnesium, and potassium. 

Salmon has lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show
can cut your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, The American Heart
Association recommends eating two servings of salmon (or another fatty fish)
every week.

Berries are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients
that reduce inflammation and may protect our brains as we age. They also have a
high water content and are rich in fiber, both of which help control blood
sugar and keep you feeling full longer.

Yogurt is calcium-rich and a good source of vitamin B,
protein and potassium. It can also be enhanced with other good-for-you edibles,
such as fresh fruit.

Kale is a terrific source of antioxidants, and its
anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce the risk of heart disease and
cancer and boost eye health. It is also full of vitamins A, C, and K.

Quinoa is high in protein, calcium, B vitamins, and iron.
Packed with potassium, the grain also may help reduce blood pressure.
Resource: http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-07-2012/add-these-6-superfoods-to-your-diet-now

Depression in the Elderly

According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation,
approximately 15 out of every 100 adults over age 65 in the United States are
affected by depression. The disorder affects a much higher percentage of people
in hospitals and nursing homes.
As in younger adults, clinical depression may be
precipitated by adverse life events, including poor health, loss of friends or
loved ones, loss of physical functioning or loss of self-esteem related to
aging. Depression is not a normal part of aging however, the process of aging
can be lonely and increase one’s vulnerability. In addition, medications for
other health-related problems can also trigger depression.
Recognizing depression in the elderly is not always easy. It
is often difficult for the depressed elder to describe how he or she is
The depressed person or his/her family members may think
that a change in mood or behavior is simply “a passing mood,” and the person
should just “snap out of it.” But someone suffering from depression can’t just “get
over it.” Depression is a medical illness that must be diagnosed and treated by
trained professionals. Untreated, depression may last months or even years.
When it is properly diagnosed and treated, more than 80% of
those suffering from depression recover and return to their normal lives. The
most common symptoms of late-life depression include:
  •          Persistent sadness lasting 2 or more weeks
  •          Feeling slowed down
  •          Pacing or fidgeting
  •          Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
  •          Excessive worries about finances or health
  •          Physical symptoms such as pain or
    gastrointestinal issues
  •          Weight changes
  •          Frequent tearfulness
  •          Feeling worthless or helpless
  •          Withdrawal from regular activities
  •          Neglect of personal appearance or basic needs
    such as cooking/eating

Like many illnesses, there are varying levels of depression.
A person may not feel “sad” about anything, but may exhibit symptoms such as
difficulty sleeping, weight loss, or physical pain with no apparent
explanation. This person still may be clinically depressed, those same symptoms
also may be a sign of another issue. Only a doctor can make the correct
If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of depression,
contact a physician right away.
Source: www.elderresponseteam.org

7 Reasons Why a Pet Helps You Stay Young at Heart

Daily exercise.
Taking your dog for a walk means you get a daily walk too. Walking not only
helps to burn extra calories, it also keeps your joints limber, which helps
seniors who suffer from arthritis.
a schedule.
Feed the cat. Walk the dog. Clean the litter box. Pets require
daily care and seniors who own pets develop a day-to-day routine to care for
them. Having a to-do list for your pet gives you tasks to do every day and
keeps you busy.
You might be single, but you are never alone if you are a pet
owner. Just ask the cat lover who has to shoo their cat off the morning newspaper
to read it. Pets are constant companions.
     4.       Lower
blood pressure.
Therapy animals are used in hospital and nursing home
settings to help lower blood pressure and stress. Owning a cat or dog is like
having your own personal therapy
animal by your side 24/7.
relief to Alzheimer’s patients.
A 1999 University of Nebraska study found
that Alzheimer’s patients suffering from Sundown Syndrome, a behavioral
syndrome associated with Alzheimer’s that is marked by increased
aggressiveness, were aided by the presence of a therapy dog and experienced
reduced agitation and restlessness during the early evening hours.
A University of Kentucky study done in 1987 found that pet
owners had greater levels of overall happiness than non-pet owners.
Helps you
manage grief.
The same University of Kentucky study found that pet owners
dealing with the recent death of a loved one fared better during the grieving
process that non-pet owners.
Source:  www.seniorsforliving.com/content/article/25-reasons-why-a-pet-helps-you-stay-young-at-heart

6 Great Tips to Boost your Memory

1.       Puzzle Power: Brain activities like
crossword puzzles or Sudoku can help your mind stay clear and focused.

      2.       Lifelong Learning: Stimulating mental
activities like attending a lecture can aid in memory retention.

      3.       Tea time: 4-5 cups of green tea a day
can help boost memory. Studies show that green tea extracts improves cognition
and spatial awareness.

      4.       Breathe out: Don’t stress. Some of the
most common memory zaps include stress and anxiety, Activities like reading or
meditation can help your brain stay clear.

      5.       Social butterfly: Maintain strong
social ties through social groups to help preserve memory.

      6.       Get moving: Daily exercise for half an
hour a day such as walking or jogging can help improve memory.
Source: http://www.seniorsforliving.com/content/article/forgetting-something-6-things-memory-loss-can-signify

Reversible Causes of Memory Loss

Many medical issues can cause memory loss or other
dementia-like symptoms. Most of these conditions can be successfully treated,
and your doctor can screen you for conditions that cause reversible memory
Possible causes of reversible memory loss include:
  •         Medications.
    A single medication or a certain combination of medications may result in
    forgetfulness or confusion.
  •         Minor
    head trauma or injury.
    A head injury from a fall or accident, even an
    injury that does not result in a loss of consciousness may cause memory
  •         Depression
    or other mental health disorders.
    Stress, anxiety, or depression can cause
    forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that
    disrupt daily activities.
  •         Alcoholism.
    Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair metal abilities. Alcohol can also cause
    memory loss by interacting with medications.
  •         Vitamin
    B-12 deficiency.
    Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red
    blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is common in older adults, can
    cause memory problems.
  •         Hypothyroidism.
    An underactive thyroid gland slows the processing of nutrients to create
    energy for cells (metabolism). Hypothyroidism can result in forgetfulness and
    other thinking problems.
  •         Tumors.
    A tumor in the brain may cause memory problems or other dementia-like symptoms. 

 If you are concerned about memory loss, see your doctor.


Memory Loss and Dementia

The word
“dementia” is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms, including
memory impairment, reasoning, judgment, language, and other thinking skills.
In most cases
dementia begins gradually, worsens over time and significantly impairs a
person’s ability in work, social interactions, and relationships.
Often, memory
loss is one of the more recognizable signs of dementia. Some other early signs
of dementia are:
  •          Asking
    the same questions over and over again.
  •          Forgetting
    common words when talking.
  •          Mixing
    up words.
  •          Taking
    longer to complete familiar tasks.
  •          Misplacing
    items in inappropriate places, such as putting car keys in a refrigerator.
  •          Getting
    lost while walking or driving around familiar places.
  •          Sudden
    changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason.
  •          Becoming
    less able to follow directions.

Diseases that
cause progressive damage to the brain and consequently result in dementia
  •          Alzheimer’s
    disease (the most common cause of dementia)
  •          Vascular
  •          Frontotemporal
  •          Lewy
    body dementia

Each of these
conditions has a somewhat different disease process. Memory impairment is not
always the first sign of disease. The type of memory issues may vary.
You should
see your doctor if you are concerned about memory loss.

Medicine Cabinet Makeover

cabinets are one if the most overlooked areas in the bathroom. People often
stock them and forget to update the products they have in them. As you age, it
is important to reassess the types of products to keep on hand for daily
comfort, minor health issues or in the event of an emergency.
Here are some
tips to help you go through your medicine cabinet to make sure the necessary
products are properly stored, easily accessible, and on hand at home:

1.    Update
first aid kit essentials:
you have what is needed for pain, fevers, stomach aches, allergies, cuts, and
burns? A first aid kit should always contain items to handle these minor
2.    Mitigate
minor aches and pains:
and joint pain becomes a bigger issue as you age. Consider an alternative to
pills that can take time before relief sets in such as an over-the-counter
topical solution to relieve pain.
3.    Stock
up on Seasonal Items:
season poses different health hurdles. For example, during winter, cold and flu
medications should be nearby. No matter what the season, purchase only as much as
you will use to avoid throwing out expired products the following year.
4.    Throw
out expired items:
looking through the items in your medicine cabinets, look at their expiration
dates. Properly dispose of outdated over-the-counter pills and prescribed
medications. If you are unsure of what you should throw out, check with your
pharmacist. Also, throw out any personal care products that have changed in appearance,
smell, or texture.
5.    Keep
a list:
what needs to be replaced, replenished, or refilled can be a difficult task.
Simplify the situation by keeping a piece of paper taped to the side of the medicine
cabinet. When you notice that something is running low, simply write a reminder
on the piece of paper so you will see it the next time you open the cabinet.
6.    Create
a safe storage system:
sure the products you use most frequently are easily accessible and within arm’s
reach. Place items that treat similar symptoms on the same shelf to help keep
the cabinet organized. You should always keep products in their original
packaging to avoid losing important information and store medications in a
cool, dry place since heat and moisture can alter their effectiveness.

Family History and Disease Risk

Various Causes
Many things
influence your overall health and likelihood of developing a disease. Sometimes,
it is not clear what causes a disease. Many diseases are thought to be caused
by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. The importance
of any particular factor varies from person to person.
If you have a
disease that does not mean that your children and grandchildren will get it
too. They may have a greater chance of developing the disease than someone without
a similar family history, but they are not certain to get the disease.

Health Problems that may run in
  •          Alzheimer’s
  •          Arthritis
  •          Asthma
  •          Blood
  •          Cancer
  •          Depression
  •          Diabetes
  •          Heart disease
  •          High
  •          High
    blood pressure
  •          Pregnancy
    losses and birth defects
  •          Stroke

Genetic Diseases
Some diseases
are clearly genetic. This means the disease comes from a mutation, or harmful
change, in a gene inherited from one or both parents. Genes are small
structures in your body’s cells that determine how you look and tell your body
how to work.

Role of Lifestyle and Environment
Genes are not
the only things that cause disease. Lifestyle habits and environment also play
a major part in developing disease. Diet, weight, physical activity, tobacco,
and alcohol use, occupation, and where you live can each increase or decrease
disease risk. For example, smoking increases the chance of developing heart
disease and cancer. For common diseases like heart disease and cancer, habits
like smoking or drinking too much may be important in causing disease than

Clues to Your Disease Risk
Creating a
family history helps you know about diseases and disease risks. It can also
show the way a disease occurs in a family. For example, you may find that a
family member had a certain disease at an early age than usual (10 to 20 years
before most people get it). That can increase other family members’ risk.
Risk also
goes up if a relative has a disease that usually does not affect a certain
gender. Examples would be heart disease or diabetes.
Some Risk Factors Are Not Apparent
Even if a
person appears health, they could be at risk for developing a serious disease
that runs in the family. They could have risk factors that they cannot feel,
such as high blood pressure. They might not even know the disease runs in their
family because they have lost touch with family members with the disease or
because other family members with the disease have kept the information
private. Another possibility is that family members who might have developed
the disease died young in accidents or by other means, they might also be
adopted and not share genes with members of their adoptive family.
Getting Professional Advice
members who think they might be at risk for a disease can ask their health care
professional for advice.
Resource: nihseniorhealth.gov