Living Well and Safely with Parkinson’s

July 30th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

dream-house-149899_150You often hear people with Parkinson’s say that things get easier once the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off. While no two people have the exact same experience or symptoms, the one thing that they do have in common is the desire to be able to continue living well. Over time, Parkinson’s can lead to difficulties with balance and walking making safety a concern for you and your loved ones. The following tips can help make day-to-day activities easier and safer.

In the Bathroom

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, most falls happen in the bathroom as the result of slipping, poor lighting, and getting on and off the toilet and in and out of the tub. To make your bathroom safer and easier to maneuver, try the following:

  • Install a grab bar in the shower and another near the toilet to hold on to for support. Never use towel bars or faucets for support since these could break.
  • Bath benches and shower stools make bathing and showering easier and can be used to sit on when using the sink when a dizzy spell strikes.
  • An elevated toilet seat provides the extra height needed to make sitting down and getting up easier.
  • Handheld showers make it easier to bathe, especially if you prefer to sit while doing so.
  • Adjusting your hot water temperature to less than 120 degrees lowers the risk of burns while washing.
  • Opt for pump soap instead of bar soap since bar soap tends to be slippery and leave a slippery film on tub and shower surfaces.

In the Kitchen

  • Install hooks to keep the pots and pans that you use the most within easy reach. Other items you use often when cooking can also be kept closer to the stove so you can cook with ease, like pot holders and spices.
  • Install longer cabinet and drawer handles; they’re easier to open than small handles and knobs.
  • Look for cooking utensils and gadgets that can make cooking safer, such as rubber grippers for opening jars and knives with a rounded blade and wooden handle that runs the length of the top of the knife for easy chopping.
  • Keep your kitchen floor clean and clear of anything that can cause you to trip. Any mats should be rubber backed.

In the Bedroom

  • Cute as some of those big and fuzzy slippers can be; choosing a pair of anti-slip slipper socks or a more streamlined closed shoe-type slipper with an anti-slip bottom makes walking around on different surfaces easier and much safer.
  • Keep a flashlight next to the bed in case of a power outage and have lamps and light switches close to the bed.
  • Have your bedroom on the first floor of a home if possible to avoid having to use the stairs at night.
  • A bedside commode or urinal can keep you from having to make trips to the bathroom in the dark. This is especially great if your washroom is on another floor than your bedroom.

In the Rest of the House or While Away

There are a few other things that you can do to help make your home—and any other home away from home that you stay in—a lot safer and easier to enjoy. Nightlights, which you can find at the dollar store in multiple styles, are great to keep in hallways, bathrooms, and the bedroom, as well as to take with you when you travel or stay with family. At home, avoid mats and rugs that can slide or roll up in any room of the house, especially in bathrooms, and request the same if staying somewhere else. Finally, a cordless phone allows you to carry the phone around the house with you and if the range allows, even take with you out onto the porch or yard in case you need to call for assistance or just don’t want to walk across the house to answer it when someone calls.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals for Healthline, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook at


Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise: A Magic Formula

July 30th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Parkinson'sIn general, older adults should exercise at least 30 minutes per day and a steady routine  will be necessary to gain protection against chronic diseases and to support overall ideal health. Studies have shown that performing physical activity or exercise for more than 30 minutes each day can even bring about greater health benefits. Regular exercise can help manage your body weight, control blood pressure, and decrease possible risk of heart attack. Regular sweating is also good for the skin.

Research has shown that  aerobic walking is safe, well tolerated, and improves aerobic fitness, motor function, fatigue, mood, executive control, and quality of life in mild to moderate PD.If you suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and if you are not exercising regularly, start today. However, always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Exercise can help make living with Parkinson’s disease easier by:

  • Helping you feel more in control of your movements.
  • Reducing gait problems and muscle/joint injuries.
  • Improving flexibility.
  • Increasing muscle strength and balance.
  • Increasing energy, stamina, and cardiovascular health.

Your exercise program should be tailored to your personal abilities and any other health concerns, such as high blood pressure or arthritis. For beginners, you might try these great exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Stretching, which will increase your range of motion and relieve muscle tension.
  • Tai chi, which may improve your balance and provide mind and body relaxation.
  • Yoga, which uses stretching and breathing techniques to promote wellness

Some studies have also shown that assisted high-cadence cycling, referred to as “forced exercise,” significantly reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

A new therapy brings hope and results to people with Parkinson’s Disease: the passive and voluntary cycling offers an alterative in fighting back against the disease. A device called Theracycle makes this cycling easier.  Joe Kapsch, a Theracycle rider talks about the importance and challenges of getting sufficient exercise when living with Parkinson’s disease. Joe explains, “Exercise improves your symptoms. Bicycling has done some tremendous things for people with Parkinson’s. … For me personally, it just enriches my soul and gets me going. Truth is I’d rather play basketball than exercise; I’d rather play golf… this is a means to keep playing golf and everything else. I can never get too much exercise on it, and it’s easy.” Read More and get the FREE e-book

Remember exercise helps you fighting against PD. Ready to start?

Happinness and Age

July 16th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

16039340_sMany of us have the impression that old people are sad, depressed, and/or grumpy but it turns out not to be particularly accurate. A previous University of Warwick study showed that happiness levels follow a U-shaped curve, with the lowest point being in the mid-40s, after which people grew happier as they got older. The recent study, co-authored by Dr. Saverio Stranges and Dr. Kandala Ngianga-Bakwin, shows that this trend applies cross-culturally, and holds true for two countries with very different health care and welfare systems. “This could be due to better coping abilities,” said Dr. Stranges in a press release. “Older people tend to have internal mechanisms to deal better with hardship or negative circumstances than those who are younger.” An alternative to the life-experience theory is the possibility that older people are just more comfortable being themselves.

Some studies show that the elderly may be more prone to depression and loneliness, which can lead to higher rates of unhappiness, not a surprise given the health and emotional challenges that tend to accompany aging. But increasing, more and more studies suggest that happiness may actually rise after middle age — at least when scientists take into account some of the non-biological factors that can influence reports of contentment.

In a study,  which was published in Psychological Science, researchers led by Angelina Sutin of Florida State University College of Medicine examined data from two large samples of people; one included nearly 2,300 primarily white and highly educated people with an average age of 69 living in a Baltimore community between 1979 and 2010. The second group included reports of well-being collected in the 1970s from a representative sample of some 3,000 adults from the U.S. population who were in their late 40s and 50s at the time of the study. Sutin and her colleagues were particularly interested in exploring whether differences in happiness reported by different generations — the middle-aged vs. the elderly, for example — were related to factors that have nothing to do with aging itself, but rather reflect life situations reflecting when they were born. Read More

How Much Benefit Can Nutritional Supplements Provide at Older Age?

July 16th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

tablets-193666_150Almost every week some newspaper decides on what new ‘wonder drug’ is available for those of the older generation. It can be very hard to work out which of these actually work and which of them is a fad of the week. The good news is, nutritional supplements have been proven to work efficiently. The bad news is, lots of people don’t take them appropriately.

Many people take a daily multivitamin, which is great and will certainly have some effect. However, the older you get, the more you’ll find it’s only certain things you’re lacking – and that multivitamins often have too much of something you don’t need, and too little of something you do. It’s therefore easier to take individual supplements, targeting your specific needs. If you’re unsure of what those needs are, speak to a doctor (and if you’re on any medication at all, do check with them before starting to take anything new!)

Here you can find the most common nutritional deficiencies gained with age, and how to combat them.

Vitamin B12

As you age, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food drops rapidly. B12 is used in maintaining healthy nerves and creating red blood cells, so it’s very important. If you lack a lot of B12, you’ll find that you get tired more easily, and you may feel faint. It can even present as similar to dementia. A really unfortunate effect is that it decreases your appetite – meaning you’re less likely to intake enough to fix the problem! Supplements are easier for your body to absorb than the nutrients in food, and don’t rely on feeling hungry, so they’re particularly useful in this case.


One of the biggest risks to older people is the increased chance of breaking bones. Calcium is important for keeping your bones strong, and a lack of it will make your bones more brittle and likely to fracture. Your body can still absorb it just as efficiently, so if you regularly drink milk or eat yoghurt, then you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, many older people lose their appetites and therefore don’t consume as much as they need, making a supplement more helpful. Studies are ongoing as to whether it may also reduce blood pressure, so if you suffer from this, maybe double check your calcium intake. You need around 700mg a day – and you shouldn’t go above 1500mg as this can lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Vitamin D

People at almost every age will lack vitamin D! Most foods don’t naturally contain it, though some fortified foods do. The main way to gain it is from sun exposure – which is risky for older people due to the increased chance of burning, and also because they’re less efficient at producing it. One of its purposes is to help bone density, as well as reducing the chancing of illnesses like arthritis. This is almost certainly one to add regardless of age – but even more so if you’re older!


Iron has a lot of vital roles, and many older people suffer from an iron deficiency. However, unlike the others, we don’t recommend taking this one by itself unless a doctor recommends it – too much iron can cause other problems. If you find that you’re getting overly tired, look pale and/or are experiencing heart palpations, you may have anaemia (an iron deficiency) and should go to see your a medical professional.

Generally, a lot of what you may be lacking can be fixed through changing your diet – except, perhaps, vitamin D – but as you age, it’s often harder to do this. For the above four nutrients, you’d have to increase your intake of fish, meat, eggs and milk amongst others. There are alternatives – for instance, tofu and chickpeas could replace meat when it comes to supplementing your iron intake, and plant foods like broccoli and soy beans contain calcium.

However, many older people have low incomes and low appetites, which mean it, may be tricky to implement these changes. If you live on your own, you may find you simply don’t have the money, time or resources to cook meals containing these regularly. This is why supplements have a lot of nutritional benefits for older people, as they guarantee intake of what you need without drastic change.

By Edward Francis and!

Important information when planning your retirement

July 9th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

plate-142741_150What’s the single biggest difference between a successful retirement and an unsuccessful one? It’s planning. Because everyone likes to think of themselves as capable of going on forever, many people don’t start to think about planning for retirement until it’s already on the horizon. The sooner one gets organized, the better. Identifying needs, researching options and saving money can mean that when working life is over, what lies ahead is trouble free.

Health and happiness

Two of the biggest stress factors in working life are money worries and a lack of social opportunity. A well-planned retirement ought to do away with both. Many people who achieve this say that they feel considerably healthier in their later years than they did when they were younger. Reducing stress can significantly lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes, and recent studies have shown that it may also decrease the risk of dementia.

Healthy retired people can enjoy many more wonderful years, so it’s important to choose a home that can meet changing needs. Planning ahead to work around the common disabilities of old age, such as arthritis and muscle loss, means that life doesn’t have to slow down.

Funding retirement

The most important part of developing a practical retirement plan is making sure that it’s financially viable. This can involve any or all of the following:

  • Pension plans - this is the most important means of providing for retirement for most people. Pension plans can vary quite a bit so it’s worth shopping around to be sure of getting the best deal – and, of course, reading the small print.
  • Savings - many people also choose to build up savings. When this forms part of a retirement plan, it’s worth putting them into secure bonds rather than a standard savings account. This will enable them to accumulate more interest.
  • Investments - carefully managed stock and share portfolios can see money grow significantly over lengthy periods of time. They can be sold at an advantageous point close to retirement or can be kept on as a source of income.

The right residence

One of the most rewarding ways to live as a retired person is in a senior community, where everything is designed around older people’s needs and there is ample opportunity to live an active life and make new friends. Sometimes these communities develop naturally in areas where a lot of older people live, but more often the practical choice is to find a formal one. These can come with other advantages such as shared sports facilities, restaurants, and access to handymen, and health and care services. Often a variety of packages are available so residents can pay only for the things they actually want and need.

There are communities like this right across the country, so retirees can choose to move to somewhere they have always wanted to live or can ensure they are close to friends and family. Some such communities have visitor accommodation available at good rates for relatives traveling from a distance.

Choosing the right place to retire is a big decision, but with good planning it can usher in a whole new lease on life.

Choosing the right bed for a good night’s sleep

July 8th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

bed-150289_150The importance of a good night’s sleep, particularly for seniors, should not be underestimated. However, there are a number of factors that can affect the way a person sleeps, from the type of food they eat in the evening to their choice of bed. The right bed can help to ensure good quality sleep each and every night.

Why is good sleep important?

As a person gets older their health and sleep patterns change. The amount of sleep an individual needs as they age is normally between seven and nine hours, but it is common for many people to get less than they really need. It has been proven that seniors who have a poor sleep pattern are more likely to suffer from short attention span, memory problems, depression and sleepiness during the day. They are also more likely to suffer a fall at night.

How can the right bed help?

As with any item of furniture there are many different options when it comes to beds. Not all of them will suit everyone so to be sure of a good night’s sleep spending a little time to find the right bed is a must. Remember, being comfortable at night is essential for quality sleep.

How to choose the right bed

There are a number of factors that affect the choice of a new bed. Is the purchaser able to get in and out of bed easily with little or no assistance; is the bed too low and how hard or soft is the mattress? Those who have mobility problems might prefer an adjustable bed as this will help them get in and out of bed more easily and can be adjusted for the most comfortable position while sleeping. Perhaps a bed with side rails can help with mobility as well as safety

Others may find it is too difficult to get in and out of a bed that is too low, which is why height can be a significant factor. To help to find the right one it is a good idea to visit a showroom where several different beds can be tried for size, along with the aids that come with them.

Types of beds for seniors

The adjustable bed has already been mentioned and most people will have seen them in hospitals, but they are now readily available for use in homes. They have backs that can be raised and lowered, which enables a person who is lying down to be sitting up in just a few seconds. This option is perfect for individuals who are recovering from illness or for seniors who need a helping hand.

Adjustable beds also come in a combination form, which is ideal for couples. Each side of the bed can be adjusted individually, so that each person has the option of sitting up or lying down.

Height adjustable beds are ideal for those who need a little help getting into and out of bed. The bed can be raised to a height that makes sitting, lying and standing easier.

Choosing the right bed to get a good night’s sleep is essential, so hopefully this guide has helped. If anyone has any comments, please feel free to publish them below.

Dietary Tips for Senior Citizens

July 3rd, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter- Mark Twain

apple-17092_150For some people, age is just a number and for them it’s not the age, it’s the mileage that matters. It is commonly believed that as people grow older many health problems are likely to occur. Problems which tend to affect both body and mind.

Yes, it’s true but that should not halt you from living your life to the fullest. As we age there are evident changes in our metabolism, appetite and emotional state – that’s part and parcel. However there are ways of minimizing, the more unpleasant effects of aging. A proper diet is one of the aforementioned ways and this article outlines the way to understand the proper dietary changes and needs at this juncture.


As requirement of vitamins, proteins, minerals, fluids and carbohydrates changes, all these nutrients have to be packaged in easy-to-digest and easy-to-absorb, small frequent meals which are spread out and spaced well over the entire day. Women especially should be very careful about their diet in old age, as due to menopause, the ability to absorb calcium reduces and may result in joints weakness and susceptibility to fractures.

Dietary Tips

Follow these tips to boost your nutritional health:

Plain water: Drink plenty to stay hydrated as adequate water intake ensures that food moves through the bowels easily and prevents constipation. Humans need daily intake of at least seven to eight glass of liquid. Avoid caffeinated beverages.

Healthy Fats: Strictly avoid saturated and trans fats. Rather opt for healthy fats found in seeds, nuts, avocados and fish. Fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids improve focusing skill and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s.

Power Protein: Avoid red meat and include more sources like fish, beans, peas, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, and seeds in your diet. As less than 15g won’t benefit bone or muscle, divide your protein intake among meals but aim for 25 to 40g of high-quality protein per meal.

Whole Grains: Choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber as these fiber and nutrient-rich grains will help your digestion and protect your heart. Choose brown rice, whole grain cereals, and whole wheat bread instead of white bread and refined grains.

C for Calcium: Seniors should really opt for calcium-rich foods and low-fat dairy products like – tofu, broccoli, and almonds- to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. To maintain bone-health, older people need 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Include products like milk, yogurt and cheese only after consulting doctor.

Vital Vitamins

Vitamin B12: With aging comes body’s decreased ability to absorb vitamin B12 needed to help keep blood and nerves vital as stomach produces less gastric acid. Getting more B12 through diet and supplements will ensure that you meet your requirements.

Vitamin D: The skin becomes less efficient with aging at synthesizing vitamin D necessary to absorb calcium and boosting muscles as we get most of our vitamin D intake through sun exposure. One should opt for food rich in vitamin D and consult your physician for multivitamin supplements.

Fruits & Vegetables: Fruits are rich in fibers and vitamins so two to three meals of seasonal fruit-salad will work as antioxidants and will prevent constipation. Opt for whole fruits rather than juices. Choose antioxidant-rich dark-green leafy such as spinach and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots. Vegetables soups without cream and thickening agents are healthy meal option.

As against the popular misconception that one needs to diet and sacrifice during old age this article focuses on varying your diet chart to encompass fine dining as well. Now since you know what you need, you can make necessary changes accordingly and celebrate as happier and healthier Senior Being.