New Year’s Resolutions for Aging Loved Ones and Their Families

Happy New Year from AmeriCare Georgia!

The time has come again to set some resolutions as we enter a new year full of fresh beginnings and opportunities. With 2013 upon us, many of us take on resolutions, hoping to better our lives this year.  We at AmeriCare Georgia challenge you to focus on making resolutions that involve maintaining and maybe even improving your physical, mental, and social health.

New Year’s resolutions made together by a family can be especially important for the seniors. By helping each other, you each gain a greater sense of purpose, which can be very meaningful to someone who is growing older.

Here are some great resolutions written by Jack Cross from Wickedlocal.com to consider as you plan out 2013 with your aging loved ones. These resolutions will help keep you connected, in touch, and in tune with each other throughout the year.

  • Plan to eat regular nourishing meals- It is never too late to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Take advantage of this new year by planning to exercise often, eat nutritious foods, and encourage others to do so as well. Take weekly walks with your aging loved ones, and if they live far away, plan to take walks at the same time and talk on the phone!
  • Increase social contacts- Making new friends can be easy, no matter the age! Get involved with your aging loved ones in activities that will allow them to be social- like planning a small gathering with neighbors!elderly20ladies-11
  • Get tech savvy- Believe it or not, seniors are the fastest growing segment of computer users. If the seniors in your life do not yet have a computer, now is the time to expand their horizons. Communicating, trading pictures, and video chatting are all great ways to truly stay connected, and learning something new helps to exercise the brain.
  • Consider getting help if necessary- This resolution may not be fun, however it is important to set standards of care as family members age. Start forming plans within the family as to who will be responsible for what and available options (such as in-home care services through AmeriCare Georgia!).
  • Clean the house- De-cluttering is not a daunting task if done together. Make some time in the next few months to identify items that are no longer needed and arrange to give them to family, friends, or charity.

Involving your aging loved one in 2013 resolutions will help everyone involved reach their goals and create a common bond that cannot be broken! Happy 2013!

January 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

Start the New Year in a Youthful Spirit

As 2012 comes to an end, it is important to rekindle your positive attitude and outlook on life for the upcoming year. Al Weatherhead from Parentgiving.com gives great advice on how to stay young at heart and mind to maximize your life. We thought this would be great inspiration as 2013 approaches!

He begins by stating the importance of remembering this absolute truth: Age is a state of mind.

He continues by taking us through his personal journey of terrible arthritis, serious heart disease and major depression,  as well as the challenges of being a recovering alcoholic. Today, at the age of 84, Al is married to the woman of his dreams, a proud father and grandfather, CEO of a multi-million dollar company and philanthropist.

He is the first to admit it took work and self -harnessing power to get to where he is today, but he is confident in these three rules on how to stay young at heart and withstand adversity that may be thrown your way.

Rule #1: Attitude and the mind: The power of positive imagery

The number one factor to maintaining your youth is to develop a youthful perspective to keep a positive mindset. You will go a long way toward overcoming adversities and past struggles when you avail yourself of the power of positive thinking. This is great advice entering a new year because of new beginnings and chances for a fresh start.

Staying young is all about choice, so choose to be young!

Rule #2 Meditation: The art of letting goSenior Woman Doing Yoga In Park

Once a positive mindset is created, meditating is a great way to sustain it. Because our heads are filled with endless thoughts and to-do lists, mental stress becomes extremely strenuous and eventually leads to quicker aging. Meditating is a form of exercise that can be done almost anywhere and can be practiced by almost anyone. Browse the internet for different meditation techniques and find one that fits your needs best!

Rule #3 Communication: Articulating the speech of the heart

A youthful goal to keep in mind is to articulate thoughts and feelings- allowing us to revitalize our spirits, reconnect with others, and ultimately replenish our youth.  

Communicating to the people in our lives can do wonders to our youthfulness. Reaching out to others and accepting their reaching out will go a long way and contribute to the power of positive imagery from rule #1.

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So there you have it- some inspiring rules to live by. Think of these while setting your New Year’s resolutions and aim for a youthful 2013!

 

 

December 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

Don’t let winter wreak havoc on your heart

December is here and as we enter holiday mode in full swing, chest tightness or racing heart rates may become more common for your aging loved ones. After November’s feast and the constant holiday parties throughout December, life can seem like an endless series of prepping, planning, eating, and visiting- exhausting! We found a great article from written by Anne-Marie Botek from agingcare.com that gives us an inside look of what to expect this holiday season when it comes to our health.

If you are spending the holidays with your aging loved ones, make sure to be aware of increased heart palpitations that may occur in either one of you. According to Cynthia Thaik, M.D. a cardiologist and member of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, research has shown that cardiovascular deaths spike by about 18 percent as the days shorten and weather cools.

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Why do cardiovascular concerns increase in winter?

Changes that occur during the winter such as cold weather, spending more time indoors, stress, and lack of vitamin D all play a role in increased cardiac problems, says Thaik.

According to a recent study, whether in sunny Florida of freezing Minnesota- the winter months can take a toll on your ticker. Researchers from the University of New Mexico discovered that people who lived in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Los Angeles experienced the same jump in heart-death risk as those residing in cooler states, such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Take a look at these 6 strategies that can keep you and your aging loved ones healthy and happy during the holiday season:

  1. 1.    Bundle up: Cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to elevate, making blood more prone to clotting. Make sure to prepare for the days spent outdoors and layer up!
  2. 2.    Don’t fall of the wagon: Of course it is okay to indulge during holiday celebrations, but Thaik urges people to “keep good habits going during the wintertime.” If you know you or your aging loved one has a big meal planned for that day, make it a point to fit some exercise into that busy schedule!
  3. 3.    Don’t forgo the meds: Do not slack off on health maintenance habits such as medication regimes. This is all part of keeping up with a healthy lifestyle during these somewhat stressful times.
  4. 4.    Get happy: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that strikes during winter months. These colder months and shorter days sometimes result in people becoming lethargic, hungry, or uninterested. Thaik highlights the importance of finding activities that lift your mood- such as going for a walk or spending time with the whole family.
  5. 5.    Don’t be an early bird: Thaik suggests keeping early morning activities to a minimum during the winter months. Naturally people start tending to their days earlier because of the early sunrise, however blood pressure spikes in the morning, putting these early birds at greater risk for heart issues.

December 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

Can napping improve memory?

We all know how wonderful an afternoon nap can be and according to an AARP article written by Peter Jaret, it has some great benefits- especially for the elderly!

The older we get, the more likely we are to nap. Studies show that more than half of people 75 and older nap at least twice a week. For decades, researchers have been performing studies to see how regular napping may affect anything from health conditions to sleep patterns. A few of these past studies have claimed to find a link between napping and health problems; however, the most recent study brings much better news- associating napping with a sharper mind.

“For most people, napping is perfectly healthy, and it may even have important benefits,” says Thomas J. Balkin, director of the behavioral biology branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

So, what specific benefits will your aging loved ones gain from fitting a nap into their daily routine?

Enhanced visual learning

According to Elizabeth McDevitt, a researcher at the University of California, Riverside, peoples’ visual performance deteriorates throughout the day. Her research has shown that performance doesn’t deteriorate (and even improves!) after a nap.

Improved memory

Because the brain seems to consolidate learning during a nap, McDevitt believes that this could be especially helpful in older people- counteracting the increase of memory loss as we age.

Better problem solving

A study conducted by NASA on military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved overall performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. Napping has also shown to improve test scores of creative problem solving!

With this being said, encourage your aging loved one to take time out of their day to get some extra shut eye- probably one of the easiest ways to gain a sharper mind!

How long should you nap? Check out this video from WorkSmartLiveSmart.com!

November 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so here at AmeriCare Georgia we are doing everything we can to spread a little extra Alzheimer’s awareness to our clients, caregivers, and other aging loved ones around Georgia.

Earlier in October, Ryan Jaslow from CBS News wrote a great article on recent research that shows exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage. Because brain shrinkage has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, we thought this would be a great article to start November off with.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland examined 638 Scots who were born in 1936. At 73-years-old, they were all given MRI scans to measure and record the volume of their brains. Along with MRIs, participants were asked details about their exercise habits- ranging from light household chores to heavier exercise or competitive sports- and were also asked about social or mentally-stimulating activities such as puzzles.

After three years, each participant received another MRI that showed those who engaged in more physical activity (for the past three years) experienced significantly less brain shrinkage than those who did not participate in habitual physical activity.

Additionally, the researchers could not find significant amount of benefit to those who frequently participated in mentally and socially stimulating activities on brain size throughout the three years. This study was published in the Oct. 23 issue of Neurology.

Of course, keeping your brain active by reading, writing, and completing crossword puzzles is always beneficial for overall health, but this research implies us to lean towards habitual light physical activity (even cooking and cleaning) to assist in declining chances of Alzheimer symptoms. 

In addition to this article, the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia also puts a few common Alzheimer’s myths to rest:

Myth 1: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots/pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have failed to confirm 1960s and 1970s suspicion that everyday exposure to aluminum increased chances of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Myth 2: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

A Nov. 27, 2001, Canadian Medical Journal report by Rene Verreault, Danielle Laurin, Joan Lindsay, and Gaston De Serres suggest older adults who were vaccinated against influenza seemed to actually have a lower risk of developed Alzheimer’s. See the full report here!

Myth 3: Aspartame causes memory loss.

According to the FDA, as of May 2006, the agency had not been presented with any evidence that would lead people to believe aspartame caused Alzheimer’s. The agency says its conclusions are based on more than 100 studies. 

October 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Save your brain!

As we all continue to age it is important to consider the lifestyle choices we make. The unfortunate reality is that constant unhealthy lifestyle choices lead to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and brain-related health problems. These diseases are all linked to common health problems (especially in the elderly) such as stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.   

Paul David Nussbaum, PhD and writer for parentgiving.com has outlined five steps for maintaining brain health to its fullest potential! Adoption of these brain-healthy lifestyle tips is a great way to set examples for children and grandchildren, and maybe even encourage an aging loved one to make subtle changes in everyday habits as well.

Socialization- This is the first critical area to think about in order to promote healthy brain lifestyles. Not only does socialization reduce the risk of dementia, it also provides a role and purpose for getting up each morning. Remaining involved in the community and keeping up with family and/or friends is a great beginning step to ensure positive brain aging.Image

Physical Activity- The human brain consumes such a high level of glucose, oxygen, and blood- it is no wonder physical activity is a key role in brain health. We have all heard it before, but do try and get your heart rate up everyday- it is truly the “central” nervous system of our bodies.

Mental Stimulation- It is important to stimulate our brains by putting down the high tech gadgets or devices every once in a while and challenge our brains to do some problem solving!

Spirituality- By making a conscious effort to engage in a slower and more reflective life, we can impact our health and brains in a positive way. Of course we all live busy lifestyles in fast-paced environments, but even taking 15 minutes out of the day could do wonders! Take notice during times where you could use a break and reward yourself with some down time- it will only result in less stress and a healthier brain.Image

Nutrition- Food has the ability to alter thought processes, mood, and behavior. With this being said, it is extremely important to think about what we feed our bodies! The brain is 60 percent fat (the fattest part of the body) and thrives on omega-3 fatty acids (good fat) and antioxidants. Fill your diet with foods such as salmon, whole grains, and fresh fruits and veggies! 

October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Do’s & Dont’s for assisting the elderly after an illness/surgery

Properly caring for our aging loved ones as they recover from an illness or surgery is an essential part of their recovery. AmeriCare Georgia’s Director of Nursing Karen Rawls gives us some valuable advice on what to do and what not to do when this type of situation arises!  

Do’s
  • Make sure to ask healthcare professionals about the type of pre and post illness care that is recommended and to adhere to those requirements.
  • Keep a log of medications and possible reactions and call the doctor immediately if a suspected reaction occurs.
  • Keep a calendar posted in an obvious place such as the refrigerator of any scheduled physical therapy and other follow-up appointments and treatments.
  • Practice cleanliness of yourself and the patient by using good handwashing techniques as well as other infection control practices.
  • Be cognizant of privacy but also make sure that the elderly person doesn’t get lonely and may just want to spend some time with you. Provide comfort measures, which could include pet therapy, companion sitter and other appropriate social activities.
  • Watch out for signs of depression – studies have shown that depression in the elderly is a major problem.  Signs and symptoms of depression could include loss of interest in doing things, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, irritablity and unresolved tiredness.  If you suspect someone is becoming depressed then call the doctor for a full evaluation
Don’ts
  • Don’t try to lift or move a patient without using proper body mechanics, which includes protecting your back.  Also never lift an elderly person by theirwrist, arms,legs or other extremeties  but try to have two people move a person if possible for support.
  • Don’t try to reposition or move an elderly person alone – make sure that there is someone there to help you. Morning and bedtime routines that can be the most challenging part of the day.

 

October 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

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    As 2012 comes to an end, it is important to rekindle your positive attitude and outlook on life for the upcoming year. Al Weatherhead from Parentgiving.com gives great advice on how to stay young at heart and mind to maximize your life. We thought this would be great inspiration as 2013 approaches! He begins by […]
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    December is here and as we enter holiday mode in full swing, chest tightness or racing heart rates may become more common for your aging loved ones. After November’s feast and the constant holiday parties throughout December, life can seem like an endless series of prepping, planning, eating, and visiting- exhausting! We found a great […]
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