Physical Fitness and Aging

We all want our parents to remain as active and independent as possible, and we want the same thing for ourselves! Regular exercise is pivotal for seniors. Seniors are at greater risk for disease, lost mobility, and falls than any other age group. Conversely, they often realize the positive effects of exercise more quickly than other age group. If your parent hasn’t been exercising, it can be difficult to get started.

Healthaging.net offers some tips to get over that initial hump.

  1. Look for daily opportunities to exercise. Park away from the store and walk briskly to the entrance.
  2. Try several different exercises to find what you like best. You will be more likely to stick with the ones you enjoy doing.
  3. Find a buddy. You are less likely to skip a workout if it means saying “no” to a friend.
  4. Join a walking group, visit your local Y, rec center, park, church or senior center. Malls often open early to allow walkers to get in a workout before the shopping starts. Working those ever important hamstring muscles helps to decrease the risk of falling.
  5. Balance is so important. Stair climbing, getting out of a chair, and other acts of mobility increase your balance.
  6. Breathe deeply. Just filling the lungs with air can stave off pneumonia. Combine those deep breaths with fully stretched arms being raised straight out and then overhead and you can increase your range of motion at the same time. Add some music and work it to the beat!
  7. Keep it fun! Batting around a balloon can be aerobic, and can increase your range of motion whether you do it from a chair or on your feet! There is no need for seniors who use wheelchairs to miss out on the fun, or health benefits. Jodi Stolove’s chair dancing offers a variety of stretching, muscle building, and cardio exercises that can be done from the comfort of a chair.

By exercising the recommended 20 minutes each day, you reap the health benefits of improved circulation, digestive functioning, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, greater strength and flexibility, and a more positive outlook!

The above article was written and published by Barbara McVicker

 


Older Adults and the Benefits of Meditation

At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.

There have been numerous studies focusing on specific techniques and methods that increase relaxation and overall health. Chief among these with the greatest positive results, is meditation.

So, you may be asking, “what’s meditation?” According to Psychology Today, meditation is defined as, “the practice of turning one’s attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.”

With so many of us having busy daily lives that require our attention being pulled in many different areas, the art of focusing on one point of reference not only can bring a sense of calm and relaxation, but also a new-found direction and focus for the rest of the day.

While meditation has positive results for all ages, the ones for older adults are even greater. Several studies (with supporting research) on meditation focus on the numerous health benefits for our senior population, including:

Memory

Regular meditation has been linked with increased short- and long-term memory in older adults by stimulating the memory areas within the brain. Since declining memory as we grow older is of great concern, implementing regular meditation practice can contribute to slowing potential decline, while also strengthening current memory status.

Cognitive Improvement

Psychologist Moria Smoski, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke Health states that, “Meditation may help preserve cognitive function in folks who are starting to have struggles with cognition. It’s associated with maintaining function longer than if you didn’t have a meditation practice.” Meditation has been shown to have several positive effects on attention, processing speed and overall brain cognition.

Circulation

Meditation also can help contribute to better circulation and oxygen in the blood which is important for our elderly population as this declines at an ever-increasing rate as we age.

Loneliness

A 2012 study published in “Brain, Behavior, and Immunity” found that a total of eight weeks of mindful meditation decreased loneliness in seniors and increased a sense of connectedness.

Ultimately, all of us should try to practice meditation to clear our minds and put aside the stresses of the day. For our elderly population however, the additional benefits of meditation are endless. Not only can seniors educate themselves with resources on proper meditation techniques such as books and online articles, but many CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) have wellness centers that promote classes and seminars by trained professionals that focus on relaxation and meditation. By participating, residents can regularly incorporate meditation into their schedules to in turn, maintain better overall health and happiness!

References
What Is Meditation? (2019). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/meditation

Godman, H. (2018, June 22). The Many Benefits of Meditation for Older Adults. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/aging-well/articles/2018-06-22/the-many-benefits-of-meditation-for-older-adults


Healthy Aging Through Food

We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes! Click above to learn more about healthy aging through food.


What is the Happiest Age? (You Might Be Surprised by the Answer!)

What age group of adults would you think is the happiest? If most people were to guess, they’d likely assume people in their 20s and 30s are the most content. Why wouldn’t they be, right? They are young and likely healthy, and they have their whole lives ahead of them, full of potential and exciting events.

If you think young adults have it all, you may be surprised to learn the results of a study conducted out of the University of California-San Diego; the research results were published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Happiness comes with maturity…click above to learn more.


Lifelong Learning: Good for Seniors’ Minds & Bodies

Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors. Click above to learn more about how lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors’ minds and bodies.


Positive Aging: Changing Your Mindset About Growing Older

What is your attitude about the aging process? Do you view it as a positive rite of passage or a negative phenomenon that must simply be endured? Ageism is a hot topic today and a societal issue that some say is becoming more endemic than even sexism or racism.

The World Values Survey (WVS), which is an ongoing research project conducted by social scientists around the globe, asked over 83,000 people of all age groups in 57 countries about their feelings on aging. The data found that 60 percent of survey respondents said that they don’t think older people are respected. Interestingly, the lowest levels of respect for older generations were reported in higher income countries.

These negative attitudes about aging and older people reflected in the WVS can have a significantly detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of seniors. A 2002 study by psychology researchers in Yale University’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health looked at the long-term health consequences of ageism on seniors. The researchers determined that age discrimination actually has the potential power to shorten seniors’ lives.

The Yale study followed 660 seniors age 50 and older. Among the study group, seniors who held more positive views about the aging process actually lived 7.5 years longer than people who negatively perceived aging. Older people who perceive themselves as a burden to others view their very lives as less valuable, which in turn ups their risk for depression and social isolation, both of which have been shown to be “silent killers” for seniors.

The positive aging movement

Of course, some facets of a person’s health, good or bad, are genetic and thus out of their hands, but many aspects of health and the aging process in general are well within our control. However, as we age, “health” isn’t just about the absence of ailments. The concept of “positive aging,” also referred to as “healthy aging,” is achievable by every older person as we work to make better choices in the short-term to improve our lives in the long-term.

Positive aging is basically adopting a positive view of aging as a healthy, normal part of life. And it’s the mindset that you will do whatever is needed in order to continue doing the things that you love and the things that are important to you as you grow older.

Society also has an important role to play related to this topic, particularly when it comes to older adults on the lower end of the income spectrum who may not have easy access to the healthcare services they need. Society must look for ways to enable seniors to embrace positive aging and to continue pursuing their passions. And, governments should enact health and social policies that facilitate these pursuits. Such expenditures may be viewed by some as extraneous costs to society, but in reality, they are investments in improving seniors’ health as they enable older people to continue to make their many positive contributions to the world around them.

Tips for positive aging

Dr. Manfred Diehl, professor of human development and family studies at Colorado State University, focuses on successful and healthy aging. He has done extensive research on adults’ perceptions and understanding of their own aging process, and also how changing middle-aged and older adults’ negative views on aging can facilitate the adoption of behaviors that are known to promote positive aging.

Dr. Diehl created a list of ways to adopt a more positive attitude toward your own aging process. He suggests that seniors:

  1. Stay physically active by doing at least 30 minutes of movement or exercise every day.
  2. Exercise your brain by engaging in mentally challenging activities, and never stop learning new things.
  3. Adopt an overall healthy lifestyle by eating healthfully, getting enough sleep, managing weight, and not drinking in excess or smoking.
  4. Stay connected to other people by nurturing relationships with your spouse or partner, family, friends, neighbors, and others in your community, including young people.
  5. Create positive emotions for yourself by practicing positive emotion exercises and by learning to feel good about your age.
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff; accept what you cannot do, and ask for help when needed.
  7. Set goals for yourself and take control of the steps needed to achieve them.
  8. Minimize life stress; practice healthy coping techniques, and learn to relax and unwind.
  9. Have regular medical check-ups, take advantage of health screenings, and engage in healthy preventive behaviors.

A healthy outlook for a healthier life

For those who struggle with maintaining optimism about the aging process, you’re certainly not alone. But by reframing your thoughts on growing older and focusing on Dr. Diehl’s healthy suggestions, you can improve your mindset, and hopefully, following your example, society’s views about aging also will evolve for the better.

The above content is legally licensed for use by myLifeSite .


Active Aging Redefines Health and Wellness

What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.

But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.

Click above to learn more about active aging.


Parkinson’s Disease and Nutrition

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
  • Swallowing dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)

Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.

When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?

  • Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
  • Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.