• October 8, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Staying Safe in Extreme Temperatures
    Extreme temperatures are among the worst silent killers, as we often underestimate how dangerous they are. Even in areas that are notorious for extreme temperatures, people will still be unaware of the warning signs from their health that life-threatening damage is being done from the extreme heat or cold. Furthermore, many seniors are unaware of the specific safety precautions they especially need to take when in extremely high or low temperatures. We’ll discuss some pointers to keep in mind when preparing for drastic weather changes.

    Extreme Heat

    The heat causes fatal health problems for nearly 200 people in the United States every summer. Most of those 200 people are over the age of 50, as the aging body is not able to handle extreme heat as well as younger bodies. Here are some ways to stay safe when the summer is just too hot.

    • Air Conditioning– When a heat wave hits, you’ll want to stay inside with air conditioning on. Staying indoors will keep your body from overheating and suffering health ailments like heat stroke and dehydration. If you don’t have air conditioning at your home, then try going to the movies, the mall, or the community center.
    • Avoid the Sun– Direct sunlight during extreme heat, only compounds the harmful effects. The sun can wear out the body much faster, to a point of losing orientation and fainting. If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade, or do your activity in the evening or early morning, when the sun is not as draining.
    • Hydration– Your body needs plenty of water to properly function. Once the body is dehydrated for an extended period of time, then organ failure becomes imminent. It is very important to drink fluids so as not to fall victim to the sun. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, as they will dry you out faster.
    • Wear Breathable Clothing– Your clothing can have a huge effect on your internal temperature. Wear clothing that will allow sweat to evaporate, which allows your body to keep cool. Loose, light colored clothing will go a long way in helping your body to withstand the effects. Wear a hat and sunglasses as well, to avoid sunburn and to protect your eyes.
    • Sunburn– As mentioned above, it can be very easy to get sunburn during extreme heat waves. Sunburn can exasperate skin cancer in the long term, and be very uncomfortable in the short term. Always wear a hat, preferably a wide brimmed hat, when outside. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Always put on sunscreen of at least SPF 30, preferably 50 for good protection against the sun. It is advisable to reapply the sunscreen every two hours that you are outside.
    • How to Cool Down– Take showers or baths that are cold or tepid, as the water will cool down the blood in your veins, which will in turn cool your entire body. Hand towels that are soaked in cold water or wrapped around ice packs and placed on areas where there is a lot of blood flow will also cool you down rapidly. Areas like the neck, wrists, and armpits are ideal.

    Extreme Cold

    The cold is just as taxing on the body as the extreme heat is. Seniors are much more susceptible to losing body heat in the cold compared to those who are younger. The aged body is also less aware of when it is getting too cold, meaning an older person may stay out in the cold longer than they’re actually safely able to do. Seniors can begin to suffer from hypothermia much sooner than younger people. Here are a few ways for seniors to stay safe in the extreme cold.

    • 68°F Minimum on Heater– Sometimes it’s tempting to turn the heater down to 60-65°F to save on utility costs, but this can be life threatening during extremely cold days. A heater lower than 68° will not properly heat the house, and as mentioned earlier, an older body does not signal the brain when it is too cold. A senior living alone could fall into fatal hypothermia, as they are not keeping their body warm enough to function properly.
    • Dress Warmly– Again, an older body will not warn you when it is too cold. If you don’t feel cold, you’ll still want to wear a sweater, long pants, and socks to keep warm. Keeping your body warm is of utmost importance to avoid hypothermia. Even when going to bed, be sure to be fully bundled.
    • Insulate the House– Make sure your windows are not drafty, and that they are shut tight and locked, curtains drawn. Install weather stripping if possible. A drafty house will sap out any heat from the heaters, raising utility bills and making it unsafe for you.
    • Stay Dry– If you go outside and get snow on you, be sure to change clothing as soon as possible as wet clothing saps you of your body heat.

    Be Prepared for Temperature Changes

    Aging makes regulating body temperature more challenging during hot and cold spells. Seasonal temperature changes and activities once taken for granted pose potential problems with declining reserves, chronic conditions, and medications. But with careful forethought, you can remain safe and healthy no matter the weather!

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  • September 28, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    How to Prepare an Emergency Disaster Kit
    Natural disasters are stressful for anyone, regardless of age. Unfortunately, if you’re a senior, they might present greater challenges for you. You may have less mobility, or poor health, making it a challenge for you to respond quickly. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for possible emergencies.

    This guide will cover a handy checklist of items to have and bring with you in the event of an emergency, as well as some advice on further resources.

    First things first, you’ll want to be aware of what risks are more common in the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, others to fires or snowstorms, for example. You’ll want to keep this in mind when considering what should go in your kit.

    Emergency Kit Checklist

    This is a basic overview of what every emergency kit should contain. Please visit Ready.gov to view the government’s comprehensive checklist, as well as how to maintain and store your kit.

    • Non-perishable foods (at least 3 days worth)
    • Can opener
    • Bottled water (if you have pets, pack generously)
    • Medication (a week’s worth)
    • Spare clothing and shoes
    • Pet food, if applicable
    • Spare keys to your home and car(s)
    • Glasses and spare contacts
    • Waterproof matches
    • Swiss army knife
    • First aid kit
    • Common toiletries (you can buy small travel kits at the grocery store for ease)
    • Emergency blankets (you can buy them in packs), as well as fabric blankets if desired
    • Cell phone charger
    • Spare hearing aid batteries, if applicable
    • Flashlight
    • Battery powered radio
    • Extra batteries
    • Moist towelettes and garbage bags
    • A backpack, tote, or other sturdy container for your kit

    Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources

    What happens when a disaster strikes in your area? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before the emergency takes place. This way, you won’t have to fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go.

    Most areas should have emergency shelter locations nearby. Identify those and write out a list of emergency contacts and addresses so that you have it all in one place. Keep this list safe inside your disaster kit. In addition to emergency shelter locations near you, you may want to also consider gathering contact information for your local:

    • Fire and police department
    • Hospitals
    • Water and power suppliers
    • Poison control

    Get Your Plan in Place

    The most pivotal part to surviving an emergency is having a solid plan. Write one that’s easy to follow and keep it somewhere accessible. When creating a plan, you may want to consider including information on:

    • A communication plan with your family and caregivers so that you won’t lose touch with the ones you love in any emergency.
    • Safe and easy escape routes in case of fire or flood. It’s best to have more than one route option figured out.
    • What to do next after escaping — where to go and who to call for help if needed.
    • Where to keep your emergency kit so that you can grab it quickly when needed

    Conclusion

    Disasters are usually not avoidable or predictable. With that said, it’s important to be fully prepared ahead of time. This is true for all of us, but senior citizens will especially benefit from taking matters into their own hands earlier on as they may not have the ability to escape an emergency as quickly. Remember that when an emergency strikes, time is of essence!

    Additional Resources

    Red Cross – Find out more on why it’s so important to have a personal support network when you’re a senior preparing for any emergency.

    FEMA – Review additional tips for emergency preparedness. These pointers are great for both family and caregivers of seniors to keep in mind too.

    Insurance Information Institute – Learn more about the importance of home insurance and the different options available to seniors.

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  • August 31, 2018 /  Miscelleaneous

    Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

    Every adult should be aware of the potential disasters where they live and also have plans in place to deal with you, but senior citizens in particular can be more vulnerable and may need more help planning. The steps below should provide a simple way of being prepared for any emergency.

    1 – Assess the common risks near your home

    It saves time when you are aware of the likely disasters in your area so you can prepare for them, as opposed to situations that are incredibly rare.

    Think about what common risks are in your city or state:

    • Hurricanes
    • Tornadoes
    • Earthquakes
    • Flooding
    • Wildfires

    Most of us need to prepare for some of these, but almost no one has to worry about all of them. All the preparation discussed below should be with the specific threats in mind.

    2 – Know your local resources

    Depending on the type of disaster, there may be a designated evacuation center or community center that will be set up for relief. It’s also important to know where local hospitals and other critical services are located, especially for those new to an area.

    Keep a list of contact information for reference:

    • Local Emergency Management Office
    • County Law Enforcement
    • County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
    • State, County and City/Town Government
    • Local Hospitals
    • Local Utilities
    • Local American Red Cross
    • Local TV Stations
    • Local Radio Stations
    • Your Property Insurance Agent
    • Medical Transportation Companies

    For more tips and further information on local risks and relief, the FEMA website at Ready.gov is a great resource.

    3 – Prepare an emergency plan for the relevant potential disasters

    You, and your family members, should come up with an emergency plan in advance. You may not be with your family when an emergency occurs, so they must be aware of how to contact you if necessary.

    In some cases, you may need to shelter yourself within your own home. If the air outside is contaminated, it may be necessary to remain indoors. It is a good idea to pre-cut plastic sheeting, in case the doors, windows, and vents need to be covered.

    The nearest evacuation/community centers should be located in advance. You should consider using these places as drop-off or meeting locations with friends and family if such an event occurs.

    In case you need to leave town, you should plan ahead on methods of transportation you can take. Drivers should store an extra canister of gas, and should identify necessary evacuation routes on a map. Everyone should have passports and/or state identification in easy access in case they need to travel far.

    4 – Establish a Personal Support Network

    Even if you are self-sufficient, it is still a good idea for you to contact others and form a personal support network. This network could include family, friends, doctors, personal attendants, neighbors, co-workers or anyone they may feel comfortable with. It should include local members, as well as some out-of-town. These people should exchange phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses between others in the network.

    You should show members of your networks where you store emergency supplies. Everyone should exchange copies of important emergency documents, emergency health contacts, and information and any evacuation plans.

    People who are in each other’s support networks should let one another know when they leave town. If an event occurs where you must leave for an evacuation/community center, you should be sure to contact someone from your personal support network so that others would not try to find you at home.

    If you use medical equipment such as a wheelchair, you should inform people of how to operate it. If you take any medications that require a special process, you must let others know.

    5 – Make plans for pets as well

    If you have a pet, it’s important to consider their needs when developing an evacuation plan or emergency routine. Start by making sure each pet has an up-to-date ID tag.

    You should assume that if you are being evacuated that your pet would be coming with you. If you live in an area that can flood, it would be wise to consider where you might ride the storm out, whether it’s a family member’s place in another area, or a pet-friendly hotel in a safer locale.

    Read more about disaster preparation for pets.

    6 – Social Security & Other Payments

    If you receive Social Security, other regular payments or withdrawals from retirement accounts, consider having it paid electronically. This can help to ensure that payments continue to provide a steady income should you not be able to return home to receive mailed payments.

    Social Security direct deposits can be initiated by calling 1-800-333-1795, or by visiting GoDirect.org.

    Resources for further reading

    While disasters can be a frightening thought, being prepared will go a long way in easing your fears. In our next article we will discuss how to prepare an emergency kit that will sustain you, should the need arise.

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  • June 24, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Crime Prevention Tips For Seniors

    Crime prevention is vital for seniors and the elderly as they are an age group commonly targeted by unscrupulous individuals. There is plenty that you can do to learn to protect yourself. Follow these simple tips, and recruit backup as needed from your friends and family, and you can take a proactive approach in your own life!

    General Personal Safety

    1. Keep your money safe by not carrying large quantities of cash when you go out.
    2. When possible, travel or shop with a friend. You are less likely to be intimidated or approached if you are with someone.
    3. Avoid giving money to panhandlers.
    4. If you feel threatened, go to the closest business or public space.
    5. If you decide to give money to the panhandler or feel threatened, do not open your purse or wallet. This showcases how much cash or other valuables you are carrying. This could encourage a panhandler to become more aggressive or try to take your property.
    6. Carry a cell phone for emergency purposes. Emergencies can happen at any time. Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased for very little, and could save a life.

    In the Home (Including in Senior Communities)

    1. Lock your door when you leave your residence and when you arrive home – always use the dead bolt.
    2. Don’t allow someone that you don’t know or immediately recognize into your building. Ask the person who they are, why they need into your building, and where they need to go.
    3. If someone tries to follow you into your building, and is acting suspiciously, use another entrance or go back to your vehicle.
    4. Use the peephole to see who is knocking. If you don’t recognize the person, don’t open the door.

    Credit and Debit Card Safety

    1. Protect your bank and credit card PIN numbers. Do not share your PIN. No one should have access to this information, unless you have designated a trusted family member as a helper.
    2. Never provide personal information over the internet or the phone.
    3. If you shop online, ensure there are good security protocols in place. Review your credit card statements for information security. Only shop on reputable websites.
    4. Immediately advise your bank if you suspect fraud. They can help you determine what to do and what your next step may be.
    5. Change your bank and credit card PIN numbers regularly.

    Identity Theft

    1. Never provide personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know or completely trust.
    2. If a caller is asking for your personal information (social security number, date of birth, banking information, etc.) – hang up the phone. You can immediately end the call. It is not rude if you are protecting your personal information.
    3. Never provide personal information over the Internet (email, social media, websites).
    4. Properly shred anything with personal information on it.
    5. Do not hesitate to question the caller. Ask why they are calling, who they work for, or ask to speak to their supervisor. Fraud artists generally cannot answer these questions and it can identify those who have nefarious intentions.

    Scams

    Scams have many forms. Generally, the scam artist is attempting to get your personal information or money. Scam artists may have some information about you (your middle name or date of birth) but will not know much else. If you are suspicious, challenge the scam artist to identify themselves and give more details.

    1. If someone comes to your door soliciting money or posing as a company employee, ask to see their identification. If they can’t produce it, close and lock your door – call the police.
    2. If a caller poses as a representative of a bank, credit card company, or the IRS, you can hang up and call them directly (using the number you find in the phone book or online – not one given to you by the caller) and check with them. None of these entities EVER request personal information over the phone. The credit card company or bank may call and ask if you authorized a transaction. If you didn’t, they will close the card and reissue a card to the address on file. But never give them your address as they are supposed to already have it. They may say that this is for security purposes but you should always state that you will call them (again, not using a number they supply but one you find in a phone book or online).
    3. Advise your credit card company or bank if someone calls. Your credit card / bank card information may have already been stolen.
    4. If you are asked by someone you don’t know to send money to a family member, or close friend, it is likely a scam. Ask the caller to provide detailed information that only you and your family members know. Ask the caller about a family member that doesn’t exist. You will quickly be able to identify their legitimacy.

    While crime can create special concerns for seniors, you can learn how to protect yourself, and make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood!

    Be sure to stay tuned for the second part in this series, which will go into further details on the various ways seniors can prevent crime in their lives, and how to handle it if it does happen.

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  • May 28, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    5 Tips to Help Seniors Adjust to Assisted Living
    The decision to move to a retirement or nursing home is never an easy one. The truth is that when we are young, it’s something that we hope we never have to do. We would all love to grow old in our own homes. But for many seniors, moving to an assisted living community is their best long-term option. This may be the case for you.

    Naturally a move to a new community often feels very difficult, and transitioning to new surroundings usually requires close collaboration between yourself, family members, and the staff at the facility. Choosing a community with great amenities, friendly staff, and positive reviews from other residents is often crucial to making the transition successful. However, there is so much more you can do to feel comfortable in your new surroundings.

    1. Stay involved in your own care

    A common worry among seniors considering retirement homes is that you’ll have no control. If you’ve always lived in your own home and taken care of yourself, suddenly having less control can be upsetting. But it doesn’t have to be the case. Sit down with the home manager, and possibly with a trusted family member, and talk about your options. Remember that while staff is there to help you, ultimately, you are still in control of your own life!

    2. Make your new environment feel like home

    Residents are usually free to make some small changes to your rooms. You might not be able to decorate fully, but you could bring your own bedding and small furnishings, as well as photographs, artwork, and other decorative touches. Spending time getting your room just right can help you feel comforted and at home.

    Additionally, try to get to know the staff and your fellow residents. Building friendships quickly will help dispel any initial loneliness, and it’s useful for the staff to know you well, as your will better understand how to help you in the future.

    3. Ask for regular visits

    Many seniors respond better to a change in environment if your see a familiar, reassuring face on a regular basis. So don’t be shy about asking your family or close friends to pay you regular visits! Spending time with you in your new room can help make the new space feel even more familiar. They’ll surely appreciate you expressing your needs openly, and will more than likely be very happy to help you adjust.

    4. Don’t cut off your life outside the facility

    Living in a retirement or nursing home away from your previous life can lessen your sense of independence, which can make getting used to your new environment a lot harder. If possible, continue to eat at your favorite restaurants, visit friends, enjoy classes at the local community center, or do anything else you regularly enjoyed.

    5. Build new relationships within the community

    As mentioned, you also need to build new relationships within the nursing home, so that you gain a sense of community.   One of the best parts of moving to an assisted living community is the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of wellness programs and life enrichment activities. Take time to investigate the community’s activities and events schedule. Identify the ones that sound appealing to you and make the effort to attend.

    While transitioning to any sort of assisted living can be emotional, once you adjust you will be able to enjoy all of the benefits that community life has to offer!

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  • April 18, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    How to Cope with the Death of a Spouse
    The death of your partner or spouse is a life-changing experience. Grieving the loss of a spouse or partner is about cherishing your memories of your loved one while remaining open to new experiences that may enrich your life.

    Have compassion for yourself. The loss of a partner or spouse is a traumatic event. Allow yourself to feel conflicting emotions. At times you may feel that you don’t have enough time to grieve your loss or take care of yourself. At other times, you may feel that you have too much time. You may feel as though you are going through many different losses at the same time, such as:

    • The loss of your loved one’s personality and uniqueness.
    • The loss of the role he or she had in your family.
    • The loss of the routines that were so much a part of your daily life.

    Rest assured that such feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.

    Get help with practical matters. You may be facing practical challenges, such as mounting bills or paperwork related to your partner’s death, along with new responsibilities. A family lawyer or other trusted advisor might be able to offer counsel and guidance.

    Seek support. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be yourself and who recognize your feelings. Identify people whom you can depend on for support. These may include:

    • Family members and friends.
    • A spiritual leader.
    • Members of a support group for people who have lost a loved one.
    • A social worker or other professional counselor.

    Give it time. There is no timetable for grief. Although you will never stop missing your partner, as time passes your pain will ease and you will be able to go on with your life.

    Honor your loved one. Do something special to honor your partner’s memory. For example, you might consider:

    • Planting a tree or flowers in memory of your partner.
    • Enlarging a favorite photograph and displaying it in your home.
    • Setting aside regular time to simply think about your partner, or even listening to music or watching movies that you enjoyed together.

    Create a remembrance album or scrapbook. Photos of your partner can help you remember how he or she looked and the life you shared together. You’ll create something that you can turn to when your feelings are especially painful, or when you just want to dwell on all your happy experiences together.

    Keep a journal. Try to put your feelings and memories down on paper. Recall events and times that were important for the two of you. Think back to the tough times you helped each other through. Record your partner’s history and legacy by identifying:

    • Accomplishments he or she was most proud of
    • Places he or she loved
    • Favorite foods, songs, holidays, and family stories

    You will eventually redefine yourself, and your life.

    These are some of the many things you can do to cope with the death of your loved one, and grieve in a healthy way. You have gone from being a husband, wife or partner to a widow or widower. These words feel harsh and confining, and it’s difficult but critical to ensure that the new title doesn’t define you. As time passes, you will regain both your energy and your hope for the future.

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  • December 12, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    The Benefits of Dance for Seniors

    Many health organizations recommend seniors remain physically active to avoid or postpone health issues ranging from cognitive decline to cardiovascular disease. Dancing is an excellent option that many older ones love. The health benefits range from improving your physical health to creating strong social connections that increase your sense of happiness and well-being.

    If you’d like to get started, try checking local community centers and retirement homes for free or inexpensive dance classes aimed at senior citizens. Enrolling in one of these age-specific programs ensures the moves will be appropriate for individual strength levels. Additionally, they provide great opportunities for socialization with other seniors.

    Here are 5 key benefits, and the science that supports them.

    1. Reduce depression: While depression is a serious illness that must be treated by a doctor, you can still do everything within your power to boost your mood. A group of Australian researchers found that men and women with mood disorders who participated in a two-week tango instruction program felt less depressed, and experienced significant reductions in their levels of stress, anxiety and insomnia.
    2. Improve strength: Even just a few weeks of dance classes can improve your strength, according to a study published in the journal Gerontology. The study authors noted that dance was a safe and feasible exercise program for most older adults. They also noted the high adherence rate of the program—over 92 percent of the seniors who started ended up completing the eight-week salsa dancing regimen.
    3. Alleviate stiffness: A Saint Louis University (SLU) study recently concluded that after engaging in a 12-week, low-impact dance program, participants with an average age of 80 years old were able to decrease the amount of pain medication they were taking by 39 percent. They were also able to move around more easily—a key determinant in remaining independent. “Walking just a little more rapidly can make enough of a difference for a person to get across the street more quickly or get to the bathroom faster, which keeps them functional and independent,” says study author Jean Krampe, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at SLU. Any medication changes should be discussed with your primary care physician.
    4. Defend against dementia: When compared to other leisure activities (e.g. playing golf, doing crosswords, reading, cycling, etc.) dancing actually appears to offer the best chance of helping stave off dementia. According to a 21-year study led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, aging adults who danced regularly had a 76 percent reduced risk for developing dementia. Experts theorize that dancing is beneficial for our brains because it combines cardiovascular exercise with split-second decision-making that taxes our neural network, forcing it to create new pathways.
    5. A realistic goal: Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease: What do all of these conditions have in common? They don’t prohibit you from dancing. Research into using dance as a therapy for each of these ailments has unearthed a host of advantages, with very few risks. However, it’s important to always be sure and check with a doctor before embarking on a rigorous dancing regime, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions.

    So, what are you waiting for? Call up a friend to join you, and enjoy an hour or two dancing your cares away!

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  • June 13, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    6 Essential Tips for Managing Arthritis

    Living with arthritis isn’t easy. For many seniors, it can be an unpleasant addition to other health problems. As you lose your ability to do simple things like using a can opener, typing, or writing, your frustration will likely increase. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that approximately 50 million people in the United States are living with some form of arthritis, making this crippling disease the country’s most common form of disability.

    If you are handicapped by any form of arthritis, you know the limitations the disease imposes on your ability to work, move, and generally feel comfortable, and you are probably willing to try anything that might improve your quality of life. There are definitely things you can do to lessen the pain and possibly increase your mobility. Here are six ways you can self-manage an arthritis diagnosis and improve your quality of life.

    1. Diet – It can start as simple as the food you put into your mouth. Most of us try to eat a healthy diet, but for those with arthritis and other difficult health problems, it is essential. You need to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function at its highest level. Packaged foods and frozen dinners can lack the proper nutrition required. But with age you might find your desire or ability to cook lessens. You can start by looking up recipes designed to be simple and healthy. You can also look into a food service such as Meals on Wheels, who can provide what you need and bring it right to your doorstep.
    2. Exercise – This is something I discussed in detail in the past. Read the post, “How to Exercise When You Have Arthritis” for more! In general, your aim is to keep moving, whether in large or small ways. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a fitness regime. However, you can start by focusing on doing just a little, but doing it often. You can walk around your neighborhood in the morning, garden in the afternoon, and swim in the evening, as an example. Your muscles support your joints, so strengthening them can greatly reduce pain. Your doctor may have other suggestions.
    3. Rest – Make sure to get 7-9 hours sleep per night. A study published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research 2015 found that people who didn’t get sufficient sleep had increased levels of osteoarthritis knee pain. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, have a bath (a tip discussed next), and practice relaxation techniques if you find getting to sleep is difficult. Short naps, as long as they aren’t too close to evening time, can refresh you as well.
    4. Take a bath – Yes, really! This simple tip can have a multitude of benefits. Soaking in warm water makes your joints looser by reducing the force of gravity that’s compressing them. This offers 360-degree support for your sore limbs. It’ll decrease swelling and inflammation, and increase circulation. Be sure to go warm, but not too hot. Epsom salts are a great addition to your bath, which actually increase your magnesium – a mineral important for bone health. Be wary if you have diabetes, as it can stimulate insulin release. Ask your doctor first.
    5. Joint care – It’s important to look after your joints so as not to risk further damage. How can you reduce the stress on your joints while carrying out everyday tasks? Use larger, stronger joints as levers – for example, take the pressure of opening a heavy door on your shoulder rather than on your hand. You can also use several joints to spread the weight of an object – for example, use both hands to carry your shopping or distribute the weight evenly in a shoulder bag or rucksack.

    Arthritis pain should not be a reason why you stop enjoying your everyday life. These are just a few options when it comes to self-care. Consult with your doctor for more ideas on what you can do from home.

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  • May 30, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    How Seniors Can Get Better Sleep
    As we age we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns, such as becoming sleepy earlier, waking up earlier, or enjoying less deep sleep. However, disturbed sleep, waking up tired every day, and other symptoms of insomnia are not a normal part of aging. Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health as it was when we were younger.

    In fact, a good night’s sleep is especially important to older adults because it helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease. If you’re struggling in this area, but are unsure of what to do, here’s some advice to help you cope.

    Identify the Underlying Problems

    Many cases of insomnia are caused by underlying but very treatable causes.  By identifying all possible causes, you can tailor treatment accordingly. These are some common issues:

    • Poor sleep habits and sleep environment.These include irregular sleep hours, consumption of alcohol before bedtime, and falling asleep with the TV on. Make sure your room is comfortable, dark and quiet, and your bedtime rituals conducive to sleep.
    • Pain or medical conditions.Health conditions such as a frequent need to urinate, pain, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, nighttime heartburn, and Alzheimer’s can interfere with sleep. Talk to your doctor to address these issues directly.
    • Menopause and post menopause. During menopause, many women find that hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt sleep. Even post menopause, sleep problems can continue. Improving your daytime habits, especially diet and exercise, can help.
    • Older adults tend to take more medications than younger people and the combination of drugs, as well as their side effects, can impair sleep. Your doctor may be able to make changes to your medications to improve sleep. Never make these changes on your own, however.
    • Lack of exercise.If you are too sedentary, you may never feel sleepy or feel sleepy all the time. Regular aerobic exercise during the day can promote good sleep.
    • Significant life changes like the death of a loved one or moving from a family home can cause stress. Nothing improves your mood better than finding someone you can talk to face-to-face.
    • Lack of social engagement.Social activities, family, and work can keep your activity level up and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep. If you’re retired, try volunteering, joining a seniors’ group, or taking an adult education class.
    • Sleep disorders.Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and sleep-disordered breathing—such as snoring and sleep apnea – occur more frequently in older adults.
    • Lack of sunlight. Bright sunlight helps regulate melatonin and your sleep-wake cycles. Try to get at least two hours of sunlight a day. Keep shades open during the day or use a light therapy box, which are usually fairly inexpensive.

    How to Encourage Better Sleep

    • Naturally boost your melatonin levels.Artificial lights at night can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Use low-wattage bulbs where safe to do so, and turn off the TV and computer at least one hour before bed.
    • Don’t read from a backlit device at night (such as an iPad).If you use a portable electronic device to read, use an eReader that is not backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source. And when possible, a good old-fashioned book is the best way to read!
    • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool,and your bed is comfortable. Noise, light, and heat can cause sleep problems. Try using a sleep mask to help block out light.
    • Move bedroom clocks out of view.The light can disrupt your sleep and anxiously watching the minutes tick by is a surefire recipe for insomnia.

    Improve Sleep Through Exercise

    Exercise—especially aerobic activity—releases chemicals in your body that promote more restful sleep.

    There are countless activities you can do to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. But always consult your doctor before embarking on any new fitness program!

    • Water exercises– Swimming laps is a gentle way to build up fitness and is great for sore joints or weak muscles. Many community and YMCA pools have swim programs just for older adults, as well as water-based exercise classes.
    • Dance– If you love to move to music, go dancing or take a dance class. Dance classes are also a great way to extend your social network.
    • Golf– Golf is another exercise that doesn’t require vigorous movement. Walking adds an aerobic bonus and spending time on the course with friends can improve your mood, not to mention the melatonin boost from the sunlight.
    • Cycle or run– If you are in good shape, you can run and cycle until late in life. Both can be done outdoors or on a stationary bike or treadmill.

    If your own attempts to solve your sleep problems are unsuccessful, talk to your doctor. Keep a sleep diary and bring it with you. Write down when you use alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, and keep track of your medications, exercise, lifestyle changes, and recent stresses. Your doctor may then refer you to a sleep specialist or cognitive behavioral therapist for further treatment. You can get better sleep by taking control and being aware of what your body and mind need!

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  • May 9, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    7 Tools To Tackle Loneliness
    At any given time, roughly 60 million Americans, or at least one in five people, are feeling lonely, according to John T. Cacioppo, PhD, University of Chicago psychology professor, and co-author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry showed that seniors who are lonely are 64 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who weren’t lonely. Loneliness can even lead to long-term physical health problems, including dementia.

    What can you do to combat loneliness as a senior? Consider adding these tips into your figurative toolbox.

    • Make the effort to ask for regular visits

      You can ask your friends and family to come visit you. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, as most of them will be very willing to help you out! It’s all about human contact. Even if the visits don’t happen as often as you’d like, make the most of those that do. Go out for lunch, take a walk, and find another activity that makes you feel more connected to the outside world. Live in the moment!

    • Call someone for five minutes a day

      If you can’t visit in person, get into a regular habit of making a five-minute phone call every day. Ask a loved one if they can add this to their daily routine. A short and simple conversation can have a big effect on your mood, and it gives you something to look forward to every day. Be sure that you don’t only talk about yourself. Ask them about their day, and what’s going on in their life. This back-and-forth type of conversation is the most valuable kind you can have.

    • Utilize the internet

      A recent report from Age UK found that over a quarter of people aged 65+ who admitted to feeling lonely said that keeping in contact with family and friends via the web helped relieve feelings of isolation. If many of your friends or family members live too far away to visit in person, ask them to video chat with you. You can also send emails, whether daily or weekly, and feel like you’re still a part of their lives.

    • Look into opportunities in the local area

      Local community centers may offer older people a low-cost membership. From painting classes, to gentle exercise, most centers have something for everyone.

    • Push to get outside the house

      Be honest with yourself: how often do you leave your house? If your answer isn’t ideal, don’t despair! There are many large and small ways to get out there. Plant a garden. Join a walking group. Even doing something as simple as sitting on your porch, or in your backyard, where you can enjoy fresh air and whatever scenery your area has, can make a big difference in your life.

    • Connect with your local library

      Libraries are a good source of knowledge about local activities, so make sure you check noticeboards, or buy a local paper to find out about local charities and various groups. And the quiet peace of a library might be just what you need to feel connected with others, while still being able to enjoy some alone-time.

    • Consider a low maintenance pet

      Keeping a pet has been shown to have all sorts of mental, emotional and physical health benefits. Read my previous article, The Impact of Pets on a Senior’s Health, to learn more about how to decide if you should have a pet, and if so, what kind.

    When it comes to tackling loneliness, one must first recognize that it’s a problem. By reaching out to family, friends, and your community, you can enjoy the feeling of support that people of all ages need. You have more power than you might have realized! It’s not always easy to stay positive. By taking small steps, you can build yourself up until you reach a point where you have many tools at your disposal, and can take back control of your life.

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