Showing posts with label healthy aging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy aging. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Aging Month - Caring for the Elderly

 As the chorus of the 1970s Bill Withers song goes, “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll help you carry on.” But those words can take on a new meaning as your loved ones age. Sometimes, in spite best efforts, the effects of aging, such as reduced mental and physical function, strip away independence and require help from a family member or caregiver.

With the approach of September’s Healthy Aging Month, this is an ideal time to evaluate the health status of your loved ones and potentially prepare for a future role as a caregiver. This can be overwhelming, but the following tips will make the transition easier, whether you or someone else will be looking after the person.

Tip #1 – View institutionalization as a last resort

Nursing home placement is rarely the first choice of the elderly, or their relatives, and for good reason. No matter how good the institution is, being placed in a nursing home can be traumatic, not to mention costly.

Finding workable alternative solutions that allow the aging person to stay in their home, or at least with those they know and love, is preferable. Keeping familiar surroundings and faces in the person’s daily life eliminates the stress that can occur when being moved to a nursing home.

Tip #2 – Find intermediate solutions involving close friends or family

Though this may be hard to find, a loved one living nearby may be able to extend the aging person’s independence by dropping in regularly to assist where it’s needed, whether that’s in the form of housekeeping, cooking, or personal care.

If you’re too busy to take on the extra work, consider hiring a younger relative, such as teenager or responsible adolescent in the family who could use a little extra spending money. It creates welcome social interaction and can be valuable job training for the person helping out.

Tip #3 – Seek professional intermediate solutions

If there is no one available among family and friends, there are many resources to assist professionally at home. For example:
  • If the aging person is already in a retirement community, research the transitional services available on-site – staff resources who can check in on your relative and assist with certain tasks that have become too difficult for them.
  • If living in their home, there are many in-home care provider services available, some of which are government subsidized. These services provide regular in-home visits to handle personal or household tasks.

Tip #4 – Look for electronic support

To help an aging elder to stay safe while maintaining a degree of independence, consider gadgets that can help. For example:
  • A wearable alarm button, often referred to as a Senior Alert Device or a Medical Alert for Seniors, that is manually activated by the person by clicking a button on the device – often a bracelet or necklace. Most operate like cellular mobile devices, connecting the wearer to selected loved ones or to a company operator, who can determine if emergency personnel should be called.
  • Wearables that monitor vital signs are part of a growing medical devices trend, including ECG monitors, glucose monitors, blood pressure, and pulse monitors. The wearable device tracks patients' movements and vitals, and then sends health measurements to caregivers or to their doctor. 
  • For a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can get assistance devices that are worn around the neck and that boldly state on them that the wearer has mental impairment. When activated, it connects to selected friends or relatives. These are valuable if the person has wandered away from home and is lost or confused.

Tip #5 – Save them money on their prescription medicines

Many of the elderly are on numerous medications, the cost of which can really add up! Help your elderly friend or relative sign up for a free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. Now more than ever, they can benefit from discounts of 43%, on average. If you are responsible for picking up prescriptions for that person, you can use your own FamilyWize card to save on their behalf.

Download a free card online today or request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the free FamilyWize app, available for both Android at the Google Play Store and Apple Devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store.

It can be difficult to watch a loved one age, but it’s possible to help them do so with grace and dignity.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to Keep Active as a Senior Citizen

Aging happens. But too often, aging is accelerated by reduced activity.  Staying active is essential to healthy aging, and living a happy, independent life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Encouraging older adults to become and stay active has developed into an important public health priority. While the physical and emotional benefits of exercise are increasingly well-known, only 40 percent of older adults are engaged in regular leisure time physical activity.”

Being active – physically and socially – boosts energy, improves mood, stimulates memory, and improves your ability to handle stress.  According to research, staying active allows you to stay independent longer –  without physical activity, the decline of your strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance will diminish your independence and vitality, while increasing the likelihood of a disabling injury.

In this 2014 study, researchers found that a carefully structured, moderate physical activity program for seniors can reduce risk of losing the ability to walk without assistance. Following through with the activity for an average of 2.6 years reduced the risk of major mobility disability by 18 percent!

Six easy ways to become an active, healthier senior citizen

With proof that regular activity can make big differences in longevity and lifestyle for the elderly, how do you get started? How do you go about it safely?

First, always get your physician's approval before launching into any activity that involves physical movement or exercise regimen/activity. With the thumbs-up, try one of the following ways to get moving and get healthier – and happier – as you age.
1 – Do SOMETHING, even a little!
If the task of starting to be active is overwhelming, don’t sweat it. A 2015 research report, using data from more than a half million adults, concluded that any exercise is better than no exercise if your goal is to boost longevity. Those who did just 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as walking) were rewarded with a substantial boost in health and longevity. 
The researchers also learned that even if you exercise just a fraction of this, you are still likely to have a 20% lower mortality risk than those who do no exercise at all.
2 – Discover the power of the stroll
Even if all you do is walk, you’re still doing a lot of good. Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People,” studied societies with the highest rates of centenarians (100-year-olds). He found that the citizens with the world’s greatest longevity and health are in Sardinia, Italy. They consume a mostly plant-based diet – heavy on legumes – and they average about 6-10 miles of walking daily.

If you have trouble picturing yourself walking more than a few minutes, try using audio books; a good book to listen to while you walk is an effective way to enjoy a long stroll, allowing your imagination to turn your focus away from the step-by-step rigor.
3 – Team up for fun and accountability
Find others with shared interests to exercise with, whether that means going to a fitness center, taking yoga classes, walking, cycling, etc.; by exercising with others, you double your activity gain – stimulating not just your body but your mind through the social interaction. 

Plus, accountability is a powerful motivator. Working out with others creates commitment.  It can be easy to ditch a morning walk when it’s brisk and you’d rather snooze longer. But if your jogging partner is meeting you at your door in 10 minutes…
4 – Give yourself a goal
If you are generally motivated by having a target, then having an activity goal is likely to help you get going in an activity too.  For example:
  • For walking, jogging, or biking, get a GPS watch (uses satellites to track your position on earth), which allows you to track how many miles you exercise. This allows you to set a weekly mileage goal and easily track your progress.
  • Aim for a competition related to your activity.  Maybe a 5k “race” or trying out for the Senior Olympics, where you compete with other seniors in a variety of sports. Here’s the Senior Olympics directory – find your state's competitions and to learn how to compete.
5 – Get classy!
Joining a class is an ideal way for most of us to try out an activity that we are not familiar with.  In most communities, you will have no problem finding classes and groups specifically for seniors, such as yoga, bowling, golf, tennis, weight lifting, ballroom dancing, square dancing, and more.
Check out Silver Sneakers – a nationwide program with Medicare-eligible memberships to more than 13,000 participating fitness centers nationwide. Its fitness program helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity.  It includes fitness classes, social gatherings, and seminars on healthy living.
6 – Think FUN!
If the thought of lifting weights or walking is not your cup of tea, then think outside the “exercise” box. Even if you never set foot in a gym, you can become physically active in one of many fun ways. Consider swimming, canoeing, fishing, dancing, badminton, croquet – any activity that elevates your heart rate is going to benefit your health and longevity, especially compared to staring at the TV.

Get moving today

Whatever you pick as your favorite way to get active, you’ll be improving the quality and length of your life.  For more guidance and ideas, check out Fun Activities for Seniors, Healthy Aging Research NetworkStay Fit in Your Senior Years, and, if you have mobility challenges, Sit and Be Fit TV.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Is Healthy Aging Month

Overall, we’re living longer and that’s great news. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to engage in practices and a lifestyle that will ensure healthy aging and a long, active and fulfilling future.

Aging hands and young hands

What is healthy aging?

Healthy aging encompasses aging well in a number of different ways--physically, socially, mentally and financially.  Typically, by 45-62 years of age, the time known as middle-age, individuals start putting practices in place to ensure healthy aging.

Why is healthy aging important?

  • Individuals are living longer
  • Aging well ensures a better quality of life
  • Chronic health conditions are costly

What are the components of physically healthy aging?

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Bones, joints, muscles
  • Digestive system
  • Bladder and urinary tract
  • Memory/brain health

According to the Mayo Clinic, 

How can you ensure healthy aging?

According to, the following suggestions are paramount to aging well:

  • Be active—Exercise helps maintain a healthy body and mind.
  • Stay social—Take a class, volunteer or visit with friends.
  • Eat healthy—Beans and other high fiber foods help digestion and heart health; fresh fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help ward off illness and disease.
  • Stay balanced—Activities such as yoga and tai chi can improve agility and prevent falls, considerations as you age.
  • Take a hike—Brisk walks bolster heart and lung health.
  • Sleep well—It’s an important aspect of aging well. Visit this post for more information.
  • Beat the blues—Depression isn’t anything to be ashamed of and it can be treated.  Discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
  • Have a plan—Setting and maintaining financial goals are important to aging well.  Debt and the stress it can create might be detrimental to your overall health.

Older couple exercising

Tips to keeping your brain healthy:

  1. Exercise: It’s crucial to keeping your brain healthy. According to Christine Anderson, MS, wellness and fitness coordinator of the University of San Francisco, preliminary research suggests that exercise can actually promote new stem cell growth, which can be helpful for the brain. In addition, exercise helps you think more clearly and creates a sense of well being, benefits anyone can enjoy.
  2. Engage in new activities: There is evidence that any activity requiring manual dexterity as well as mental effort is beneficial to brain health. Try drawing, painting or crafts.
  3. Make lists, follow routines, slow down and organize. Don’t tax your brain with information you can write down or multi-tasking.

Visit for additional suggestions.

While family history, also known as your genes, play a role in the likeliness of developing certain diseases as you age, lifestyle plays a significant part in healthy again, too.  It’s never too early to start implementing healthy changes for both you and your family members.

Other suggestions for healthy aging:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Know you numbers—cholesterol, blood pressure
  • Have regular dental check-ups—poor oral health can lead to a host of health conditions

In celebration of Healthy Aging Month, health organizations on a variety of levels will be offering events and ideas to promote wellness. Visit for more information or events in your area.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer