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.

Flowers for Caregivers Help Relieve Stress

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. Spring finally officially arrives this week, and we have a photo that shows us some of the beautiful things nature creates for us. This photo was taken in Portobello Road in London, and hopefully the flowers will brighten your day.  Feel free to share this photo with your loved ones. 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.

 

"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also. "

 -Harriet Ann Jacobs

Healthy Eating: Seniors and Nutrition

Seniors looking to live a long life would do well to eat three large meals a day, (get plenty of sleep), and enjoy a monthly sushi dinner according to Misao Okawa who, at 116 years old, is the oldest living person in the world. While raw fish might not be my elderly mother’s first choice for supper, a healthy, well-balanced diet is certainly one of the keys to longevity.

March is National Nutrition Month sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign is “designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.” The elderly face their own challenges when it comes to healthy eating. Physiological and psychological changes that occur as we age can make preparing and eating nutritious meals difficult. However, if there’s a group who can most benefit from a healthy diet, it’s the elderly.

Why don’t seniors eat properly?

Challenge: Sensory Changes — Taste and smell can diminish with age, so food just doesn’t taste as good anymore.
Possible Fix: Now’s the time to experiment with herbs, oils and spices. Although it’s tempting, don’t load up on added salt or sugar to increase the taste of foods.

Challenge: Medications — Certain medications can change the taste of food or dull the appetite.
Possible Fix: Talk to a doctor about medication substitution or best ways to counteract any side effects.

Challenge: Physical Challenges — Perhaps chewing is difficult because of dental issues. Digestion is more difficult and often seniors often complain of heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea.
Possible Fix: Softer foods like yogurt and quinoa are packed full of vitamins and are easy on the teeth and the digestive system. Fiber can help with digestion. As always, discuss the matter with the doctor.

Challenge: Lack of Mobility — Some seniors can no longer drive or have difficulty getting to the grocery store.
Possible Fix: Services like Peapod deliver groceries to your door. Non-profits like Store To Door of Minneapolis/St. Paul, shops for and delivers groceries and prescriptions to aging and homebound seniors.

Challenge: Financial Challenges — People think they can’t eat well on a limited budget.
Possible Fix: Buy local and in season. Whole foods cost less than processed foods. Clipping coupons can extend your grocery budget and help you eat well on the cheap.

Challenge: Loneliness and Depression — Many seniors are eating solo when a spouse passes on and friends are no longer available. Many balk at cooking for one.
Possible Fix: Caregivers should sit and eat with their senior clients (if that’s what the senior would like.) Senior programs like Meals on Wheels deliver meals for those who’d prefer not to cook and cooking clubs through senior social groups are readily available for those who would.

There are many benefits to eating well, especially for seniors. Eating well can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, bone loss, anemia, and type 2 diabetes. Healthy eating can also help you reduce high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Nutritional eating keeps you healthy by providing needed nutrients to your whole body. Vitamins and nutrients can also help promote brain function.

Tufts University’s Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults emphasizes nutrient-dense food choices and the importance of fluid balance. They recommend the following for whole-body nutrition:

  • Whole, enriched, and fortified grains and cereals such as brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread.
  • Bright-colored vegetables such as carrots and broccoli.
  • Deep-colored fruit such as berries and melon.
  • Low- and non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and low-lactose milk.
  • Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs. Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fat.
  • Fluid intake.
  • Physical activity such as walking, house work and yard work.

 

Food Pyramid for Older Adults by Tufts University

Senior caregivers can sign up for Caregiverlist's newsletter, The Caregiver's Gist, delivered to your email inbox every week. In addition to various senior issues, we share a weekly recipe for a tasty, healthy meal you can prepare for yourself or your senior client.

Seniors nationwide may turn to their local Area Agency on Aging to learn about community senior care services including nutrition and meal programs. Some may even offer meal delivery.

Caregiverlist knows senior caregivers are on the front lines of helping the elderly to eat right as a component of healthy aging. You can learn additional crucial caregiving skills by taking an 8-hour online Caregiver Certification training course provided by Caregiverlist Training University.

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 shows us the beauty of the spring which we are eagerly awaiting. It was taken in St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland.  Feel free to share this photo with your loved ones. 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.

"May brooks and trees and singing hills join in the chorus too,

and every gentle wind that blows send happiness to you."

-Irish blessing

 

Seth Rogen Talks Alzheimer's to Congress

Seth Rogen, comedic actor and self-described “lazy man-child” testified before a Senate hearing on Alzheimer’s research last month. His testimony, which was deeply heartfelt yet engagingly funny, tackled the need for more funding, more research and the need to de-stigmafy Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases.

Rogen gained first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s disease through his now- wife, Lauren Miller’s mother, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her 50s. By the age 60, Rogen told the committee, his mother-in-law "After forgetting who she and her loved ones were...then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself”

In an effort to raise funds, he and his wife established Hilarity for Charity, comic and music events designed to raise money and awareness of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases among the younger generation. They also started HFC U, a nationwide program that encourages and supports college groups to “throw their very own Hilarity for Charity events to raise awareness and much needed funds for fighting Alzheimer’s Disease.”

“Americans whisper the word ‘Alzheimer’s’ because their government whispers the word ‘Alzheimer’s,’ and although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades, it’s still not enough,” Rogen said. “I dream of a day when my charity is no longer necessary and I can go back to being the lazy, self-involved man-child I was meant to be.” You can watch Seth Rogen’s opening statement (provided by C-SPAN3 coverage) below.

Caregiverlist Featured on Chicago Tribune's Blue Sky Innovation

Senior care and the need for quality caregivers has made eldercare one of the fastest growing industries in America. It is projected that by 2050 the senior population will reach 88.5 million, or 20% of the entire United States. As a result, the burden of care will continue to shift from family caregiving to professional senior care, through in-home health care services, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Julie Northcutt, CEO and founder of Caregiverlist, discusses her vision and mission to provide online resources for seniors and professional caregivers through Cargiverlist.com on Chicago Tribune’s new small business entrepenuer spotlight, Blue Sky Innovation.

In his Letter from the Editor, Gerould Kern, Senior Vice President and Editor of Chicago Tribune writes, “Blue Sky Innovation will carry news about Chicago’s emerging business development landscape — startups, technology, innovative new products, services and entrepreneurial best practices.”

Personal and Home Care Aides and Home Health Aides are projected to be the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the country between 2006 (the year of Caregiverlist’s inception) and 2016 — increasing by 51 percent and 49 percent, respectively. In addressing that market need, Caregiverlist’s mission is one of connecting seniors with quality care choices with the assistance of innovative technology.

“Almost nobody plans ahead for senior care,” says Julie. “You’re encouraged to save money for retirement, and they always show you sailboats and going on cruise ships, but the reality is you may need that money to pay for caregiving services.”

Caregiverlist works with quality home care agencies to provide the most economical senior care by keeping seniors in their own homes longer. Caregiverlist also called 18,000 nursing homes to provide information on daily costs nationwide in its Nursing Home Star Rating tool.

Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training University (CTU) announced the launch of Caregiverlist Basic Training earlier this year, providing training that meets industry standards for professional competency. The digital training platform allows caregivers to take the training course from their laptop, desktop or smartphone.

Caregiverlist is constantly striving to provide the most ground-breaking tools to serve this burgeoning industry. You can watch Julie Northcutt discuss Caregiverlist on Blue Sky Innovation here.

 

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.

Shirley Temple Black, Star and Stateswoman, Dies at 85

Shirley Temple, the original child star, has died. Known for portraying characters with a cheery, can-do attitude, the actress, singer and dancer was “America’s Princess” and was credited for raising the public’s morale during times of economic hardship.

Ms. Temple "peacefully passed away" at her Woodside, California home from natural causes at 10:57 p.m. Monday, surrounded by family and caregivers, said publicist Cheryl J. Kagan in a statement. She was 85.

During the Depression, from 1935 - 1938, she was the top box office-draw across the nation — moviegoers fell in love with the optimistic girl with the iconic curly hair and dimples. According to the L.A. Times, “she saved what became 20th Century Fox studios from bankruptcy” and commanded an unheard of $50,000 per picture.

She especially loved the four films she made with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, her master dance teacher and long-time friend, she said. In “The Little Colonel,” 7-year-old Shirley tap dances up and down the staircase, keeping up with the dancer 50 years her senior. With that dance, they became America’s first on-screen interracial dance couple.

She made more than 40 movies by the time she was 12 years old. Although she had a few movie roles into her teen years (including 1947’s “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” with Cary Grant,) Shirley Temple permanently retired from the screen in 1949 at the age of 21.

For her life’s second act, Ms. Temple-Black chose a life in public service. In 1969, President Nixon appointed her to the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, where she championed the rights of the elderly. From 1974 to 1976, Temple was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. She also served as White House chief of protocol for President Ford.

She later received two lifetime achievement awards for her performing career. We at Caregiverlist join the nation in mourning the passing of a great woman.

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 was taken in Hawaii, featuring cheerful waterfalls. 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 Waterfalls

"I am the only me there is, that's what makes me so special."

Unknown

 

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.”

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