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.

Calcium

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

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 Supplemented.co.uk!

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.

Diet-package

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.

Technology Integration for Aging in Place: Finally?

June 27th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Living Well AssistDHP-Infographic160pxed Living at Home have been rallying and actually praying, literally,  for an integrated solution that addresses safety and health monitoring, fall detection and social engagement, since March of 2008 when the Center for Aging Services Technologies released a useful report on the state of technology in aging services.

We have met innovators, engineers, developers, business people, and anybody who wanted to present us “their” solution. We took the road with our high tech – high touch solution, although the gadgets and gizmos are many, an integrated platform was needed. Now, it seems that after much of dreaming, we can be closer. Philips & Salesforce had created a partnership that offers e-Care Coordinator and e-Care Companion that are new developer-friendly apps that work”… as a data management hub for patients and enable healthcare providers to view data from hundreds to thousands of patients from one dashboard: Philips and Salesforce envision that apps will cover the continuum of care: from self-care and prevention, to diagnosis and treatment through recovery and wellness. The envisioned platform, based on the Salesforce1 Platform, will enable collaboration and workflow, as well as integration of data from multiple sources worldwide, including electronic medical records, diagnostic and treatment information obtained through Philips’ imaging equipment, monitoring equipment, personal devices and technologies like Apple’s HealthKit. Moreover, the cloud-based platform is designed to be highly scalable with built-in privacy and data security. By combining the data, the platform will allow for analysis that will enhance decision making by professionals and engage patients. Both Philips and Salesforce foresee that the platform, will utilize Philips’ clinical data stores and medical device interoperability. It is intended to be open to developers and is expected to result in a vibrant ecosystem of partners creating applications. As a result, the envisioned platform has the potential to transform both professional healthcare delivery and continuous personal health management…” Read More

10 steps for making senior caregiving with siblings manageable

June 24th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

old man bow one's head on his wife shoulderAbout 50 million Americans have been put into the role of an unpaid caregiver for an aging relative, usually a parent, according to a study by the NAC (National Alliance for Caregiving). When the parent in need has more than one child who could possibly help out, there are frequently questions about who should do what. Here are some tips on negotiating caregiving responsibilities with your siblings.

1. Meet with your siblings

The best way to plan this with your siblings is if you can all meet in person sometime. Perhaps if there is a family reunion, or if everyone is in town for the holidays, you can schedule a little time for just the siblings to get together about this. This is much easier than sharing bits and pieces of the topic over phone calls with one person or another.

2. Start early

Start thinking about this early so that you are not caught by surprise when something happens. It is good to start talking this over with your siblings while your parents are still able to take care of themselves. The conversation will be more logical and less emotional at this point, and you will be better prepared when the time comes to take action.

3. Share information

Moving forward, each of you will have different interactions with your parents, whether in person, or over the phone for distant siblings. You may each notice different elements about how your parents are doing, or they may confide different information to each of you at times. When you and your siblings share information on how your parents are doing, you’ll all get a more well-rounded sense of what’s happening.

4. Bring parents into the discussion

Obviously, this is a matter of importance to your parents, and they should be part of the planning. However, it can also be an emotionally charged discussion. It may be difficult for one of you to broach the topic with your parents. Either you can try to find a good opportunity and a non-threatening approach, or it may be better if a doctor or family friend brings the topic up the first time.

5. Identify needs

When you talk to your parents and their health care providers, begin listing all of the needs that they have now, or may need in the future. For instance, they may need help organizing their finances, someone to coordinate medical care, or somebody to help with things like shopping and transportation. Cover this as well as you can.

6. Divide responsibilities

Once you have the list of what needs to be done, talk it over with your siblings, and see how you can split up the responsibilities between you. In some cases, geography will make a difference. It’s easier for a person who lives locally to deal with transportation to doctor’s appointments, while someone in a distant city can handle financial or business matters online.

7. Consider compensation

It may be the case that one sibling has more time than money, while another has more money than time. In such a circumstance, it may make sense for one to offer some financial compensation to the other who spends more of their time on caregiving duties. This may be a touchy subject, but it can make everyone feel better about having a fair arrangement.

8. Plan a family meeting

Senior caregiving with siblings can be manageable. Plan a family meeting and talk about responsibilities. Try to approach the subject of looking after loved ones with some time in advance. Prepare them for what’s about to happen, so that they can get used to the idea.

9. Flexibility

Siblings should find a way to share responsibilities and duties as far as senior home care is concerned. Taking care of a parent is not a easy job, however they can make things work if they communicate with each other. Be flexible and understanding.

10. Be understanding

Some siblings will feel closer to their relatives than others. It’s okay to feel more responsible for your parents’ health than your brother or sister if you live closer to them. You can’t ask siblings who live on the other end of the country for assistance all the time. Be understanding and find a sensible way to share responsibilities.

 

By Edward Francis and Foresthc.com!