Seniors Live Longer by Building Muscle

Living a longer and fuller life has always been a goal for the aging. And while time on the treadmill keeps you heart-healthy and hours on the yoga mat makes you more flexible, studies now show that lifting weights can actually help you live longer.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine conducted by Drs. Preethi Srikanthan and Arun S. Karlamangla of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, indicates that building muscle mass reduces metabolic syndrome risk factors, which include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Senior obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI) were the senior mortality focus in previous studies. “Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors," said Dr. Srikanthan.

The average American loses ½-1 pound of muscle per year according to the Princeton Longevity Center. By age 65, many adults have lost half the muscle mass they had at 25. After age 60, it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild lost muscle mass.

"The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death," said study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, "Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."

Paired with brain-enhancing exercises like those provided by applications such as the recently-reviewed Lumosity, building physical strength can help seniors live longer and more productive lives, helping to stave off the frailty that we’ve come to associate with aging.

Seniors rely on their caregivers to help them live their best possible lives. Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University, provides easy-to-access online caregiver training for professional and family caregivers. The 8-hour training course meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states and provides information on how to best care for your senior client or loved one.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features ancient mountain resting in Yosemite National Park, California. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Mountain

"A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them."

John C. Maxwell

Keeping Seniors Heart-Healthy

Senior caregivers list heart disease as one of the major concerns for their senior clients and loved ones. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the elderly, and it affects both men and women. Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see why many of us know someone in our lives that has been affected by heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

February is, not surprisingly, American Heart Health Month. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. Although some factors can put you at higher risk, such as race and ethnicity, family medical history, and even geographical area, many CVD deaths could be prevented with lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, exercising, and not smoking. Medication may also be necessary to manage conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing heart disease. Here are some tips from the CDC:

Get a check-up once a year, even if you feel healthy. You know the adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers checked regularly. If you have diabetes, talk to your health-care team about how to best manage it. If you need medication, remember to take it.

Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit your fats and sodium. Whole foods are better than processed. Good nutrition is key.

Exercise regularly. Incorporate exercise into your everyday life. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Don't smoke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. Know your body mass index (BMI) and maintain the optimal weight for your height.

Limit alcohol use. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

Seniors living even the healthiest of lifestyles can still fall victim to cardiovascular disease. The elderly and their caregivers should be aware of the following warning signs that necessitate immediate intervention (courtesy of the American Heart Association):

HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGNS

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in other parts of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness

STROKE WARNING SIGNS Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:

  • Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

CARDIAC ARREST WARNING SIGNS

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness: no response to tapping on shoulders.
  • No normal breathing

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above, call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number immediately. Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. Senior caregivers can receive additional Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University. The 8-hour training course meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states and provides information on how to best care for your senior client or loved one.

Yoga for Seniors

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics fast approach and I’m reminded of Caregiverlist’s ongoing mission to help seniors age well. Senior exercise and nutrition is key to healthy aging. While some members of the older set can perform at a higher level of intensity, many seniors and senior caregivers look for less strenuous, but still effective, ways to keep physically fit.

Senior fitness is an important aspect of healthy aging and yoga is an excellent way for older adults to maintain a healthy body and mind. It can help with special senior needs such as pain management, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. The benefits of yoga go well beyond simple exercise and is a practice that, with proper supervision, can be safe for individuals at all levels of fitness.

“Hatha, Restorative or Gentle yoga might be a great fit for seniors.” according to Beth Range Kiely, co-owner of Chicago’s Om on the Range. “We also have seniors in their 60's who come to our studio who love some strong Vinyasa Flow yoga!”

Why yoga is ideal for seniors:

Low impact
Stretching, strengthening and breathing are all at the core of yoga. Yoga can provide all the benefits found in more exerting exercise, like cardio or weight work, without the high-impact dangers on an aging body.

Increased flexibility
Yoga can certainly help with the all-important range-of-motion. It can help loosen tight muscles and and allow your joints to move more effectively.

Strength
Seniors can develop strength with yoga; it is an excellent way to develop the core muscles. By using the weight of one’s own body and holding certain yoga postures for a few breaths, muscle groups are more safely engaged than in weight training that uses momentum.

Focus
Body and mind work together, and meditation is an essential part of yoga. Taking some time out to concentrate on oneself can help develop concentration and relieve stress.

Balance
Thousands of elderly Americans fall at home every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Even if those falls don’t result in broken bones or head trauma, activities of daily living could be greatly curtailed. Yoga can help seniors with balance and subsequently, help prevent falls.

Senior caregivers know that starting a new exercise regimen can be intimidating for their senior client, especially in a large class setting, surrounded by others with varying degrees of experience. Contact a local yoga studio to see if they offer a private session to get started, or see if there are special senior beginner classes available.

Seniors should also not let cost stand in their way. There are a number of free classes offered through local park districts, community centers and (for a small fee) through hospitals. Seniors could also take up a home practice with a video or tape.  Here is a Yoga Journal article on staying FOREVER YOUNG with yoga and it has a few poses outlined (you would need to get on the floor and on your back for some.) If that seems too physically intensive, YouTube has many chair-yoga workouts available, such as the one below.

Caregivers should also make time to care for themselves, as well as their senior clients. Caregiverlist’s Paige Krzysko reviewed a yoga app in a recent Tech Friday blog for caregivers to enjoy for improved caregiver health.

Before embarking on any plan of action, it is imperative that you work with a doctor in order to help your senior, whether they be a family member or client, integrate yoga into their fitness routine to enhance their quality of life.

“The beauty of yoga is that you can adapt and modify your practice to get your energy (also known as prana) flowing each day.” says Ms. Range-Kiely. “Your movement and breath can strengthen, calm and heal your body and mind today and through the decades.”

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo of beautiful Hawaii landscape, which provides a fresh and a serene space for caregivers to take a deep breath, or two, and feel energized. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Hawaii

"There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience." 

French Proverb

Value of Vitamins Questioned in Recent Studies

Senior care shifts can be long and arduous. Taking care of others is hard work and sometimes comes at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Everyone would like to think that there is an easy path — a magic bullet — to self-care. I know I’ve said, “I don’t need to go to the gym, I move mom from her bed to her chair five times a day. I go up and down the stairs all day doing laundry.” But really, that’s no replacement for a good workout with weights and the elliptical.

It’s the same with nutrition. We assume that a good vitamin or supplement can take the place of a healthy diet. Our friends at Scrubs Magazine take a look at recent studies to see if relying on vitamins and supplements is a good idea.

With life and work always seeming to get more and more hectic, it can seem like an easy fix us to turn to multivitamins and supplements to help maintain proper nutrition. But a few new studies suggest that these may not be the best way to go.

In fact, the debate on the usefulness of multivitamins and other supplements has been ongoing for years, and there’s never been a definitive answer. One new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes its opinion clear:

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” said an editorial that accompanied the study, according to USA Today. This statement was signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

An unrelated study that was published in the same medical journal found that multivitamins taken by heart attack survivors had no effect on the progression of heart disease.

However, studies have also found no harm in standard multivitamins, either directly or indirectly (through causing those who take them to eat worse or otherwise neglect their health).

On a related note, an editorial in The New York Times warns of the risks of giving vitamins and supplements to children. The piece is written by Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, clinical manager in the pharmacy department at the same hospital.

The two point out that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, and therefore not all of the reactions of specific drugs may be known. Additionally, the authors of the editorial point out that this presents even more of a problem when parents don’t reveal all the supplements their children are taking when they bring them to the hospital.

Of course, there are many on the other side who still endorse the use of vitamins and supplements, and it is unclear if the real benefit and/or risks of every supplement will ever be known.

Caregiverlist wants to know: do you take vitamins and supplements? Do you believe they can take the place of, or at least work in conjunction with healthy eating? Do you sometimes rely too much upon them for your daily nutrition?

Do you eat the same healthy meal you might serve to your senior charge? Let us know in the comments. Do you want to learn more about eldercare nutrition and exercise? Consider purchasing Caregiverlist’s online caregiver training and certification to give you the tools you need to be the best senior caregiver you can be.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers during the holidays to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo will bring color to any caregiver's life with this vibrant lily flower blooming. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Lily

"Talent is God-give; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."

John Wooden

Senior Care Considerations During Polar Vortex

Since most of the United States is locked in the grip of a fierce “polar vortex”, or sub-zero temperatures, I thought it might be a good time to revisit special considerations of elderly care during this time of extreme weather. Here in Chicago, yesterday’s low temperature was -16F, with a windchill of -50F. Elsewhere in the Midwest and Plain states, all-time low temperature records were broken. Exposure to the elements could result in frostbite or hypothermia in just a few minutes.

The elderly are vulnerable during extreme weather, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who are prone to wandering. In New York state, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease left her home and was found dead in the snow, not more than 100 yards from her door. So as the frigid temperatures make their way east and south, all the way down to Florida, be on guard for the special needs associated with the aged.

Older adults lose body heat more quickly than the young, and hypothermia can set in fast. According to Stay Safe in Cold Weather, by the National Institute on Aging, “for an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.”

Certain medications can make it easier for the elderly to get hypothermia, so check with a physician if that’s a concern.

Keep the house warm by restricting open rooms. Shut their vents and doors to maximize heat in the living and sleeping areas. Close blinds and curtains to help eliminate drafts.

Food is fuel, so make sure the senior eats enough. Also, cold air is drier, so make sure they keep hydrated. Caregiver training recommends a senior drink 64oz. of liquid (preferably water) daily.

If space heaters are used for supplemental heat, be sure they are turned off before bed and when unattended and make sure a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are nearby, as these are common concerns.

If your senior family member or client shows the following signs, call 911 immediately, as these are signs of advanced hypothermia:

  • moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow, shallow breathing
  • blacking out or losing consciousness

As always, if you or a senior in your care needs special help, contact your state's Area Agency on Aging. Until this arctic weather passes (and it shall, just not soon enough!), Caregiverlist wishes all seniors and their caregivers to stay warm and safe.

 

Senior Health Care Costs Decrease Centers for Medicare Announces

The Affordable Care Act (also called Obama Care) has reduced the costs of prescription drugs and expanded access to preventative care for seniors across the country.  While the politicians have made hay, as they say, with arguing about all the downsides of the new healthcare law, the reality is that I have yet to meet a healthcare professional who will not say off the record that the new law is a step in the right direction and a must.  Certainly as with anything that was sorely broken, it will take time to heal and patch up our healthcare system.  Some things will need to be massaged and changed. But a geriatric doctor also told said to me once, "imagine if every senior had health insurance their entire life".  He told me that he was astonished at the number of seniors who had never had any healthcare until they turned age 65 and went onto Medicare or Medicaid.  After he finished medical school and began his practice he realized that the majority of seniors with acute health issues simply had the issue because there had never been preventive care for them.

As we move into year 2014, Caregiverlist with be highlighting the good news about healthcare for seniors to make sure everyone can take advantage of innovations in health care, medications and lifestyle guidelines that can make for a happier and healthier life.

Affordable prescription drugs are vital for seniors and the new healthcare law delivers this in addition to more preventive care screenings.

FREE Preventive Care Screenings for Seniors Under Affordable Care Act Include:

  • Mammograms
  • Colonoscopies
  • Flu Shots
  • Cholesterol Screening
  • Blood Pressure Screening

These preventive care tests can save lives - and over time will save money for the Medicare budget.  As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans remain stable and strong.  The Center for Medicare Services announced that the average Medicare Advantage premium in 2014 is projected to be $32.60 and the average prescription drug plan premium in 2014 is projected to be $31 per month, keeping with the same rate for the past four years.

The deductible for standard Part D plans will decline by $15 in 2014, to $310 and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, average premiums for seniors are down by 9.8%.  All good news for seniors.

Speaking of good news, apparently the happiest people on earth live in Denmark.  And guess what they have that may lead to this happiness?  Free healthcare and education, both provided for by their government.  If you don't have to worry about how to pay for healthcare or your college education, that takes away a couple of the largest issues we have in the U.S.A. Maybe once the new healthcare law becomes old news, we can give America's politicians something new to argue about and ask them to find a way to pay for everyone's college education but we'll stick to focusing on senior care.

Plan ahead for your senior care needs and understand the costs of senior care by visiting the Caregiverilst Nursing Home Directory which includes the daily costs of a single or shared room in a nursing home along with the Medicare and Medicaid acceptance.  Remember, too, as you celebrate the new year, that there continues to be a need for more senior caregivers and nursing aides so refer anyone who may be looking for a new job to the Caregiverlist Career Center.

Happy New Year!

Alzheimer's Prevention Tips Shared By The Brain Games App: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Alzheimer's prevention requires an effort on the part of senior caregivers and their clients to keep their minds and bodies active as they age. No single cause of Alzheimer's can be found, though. The Brain Games app offers several valuable tips for seniors and caregivers on specific habits for daily life to help prevent Alzheimer's.

The title of the app is slightly perplexing as it highlights tips instead of actual games, but nonetheless provides useful information. The app features a very simple layout with the ability to pick a tip highlighted on a card and then flip it over to read more about it. Users can see that one of the first tips is to read a good book. If they flip the card over, they learn that reading draws on the imagination which forces the brain to make connections. Users then can easily move onto the next tip when they're done reading with a swipe of the screen. 

The free version of the app presents 11 tips for users, some of which include less common Alzheimer's prevention suggestions such as eating a protein based breakfast to fuel the brain and cutting back on alcohol. The app does lack depth in Alzheimer's education outside of these tips, though. Adding a section with information on how Alzheimer's develops and affects the brain would be useful for furthering caregiver and senior knowledge of the disease. This app is best used to offer tips and supplement information from other sources on Alzheimer's disease. 

 

The Brian Games App is available for free for Apple products.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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