Gluten: What Is It and Should You Be Concerned?

January 28th, 2014

You might have noticed many food labels now disclaim the use of gluten. But, what is gluten and why does it matter if it’s a part of our diet?

Gluten is the term for proteins found in cereal grains. Consuming these proteins is usually harmless. But, for sufferers of the hereditary celiac disease, ingesting the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye can be a big problem. If a Celiac sufferer ingests gluten, their immune system damages their small intestine in an effort to remove the protein. This may result in symptoms varying from stomach discomfort to malnutrition.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. The Celiac Disease Foundation is a great resource for tips on how to live a gluten-free lifestyle, offering guidance on gluten-free alternatives to favorite foods, how to read labels, and how to stick to your diet while dining out.

Although it is a hereditary disease, celiac can develop at any age. Many adults and seniors appear to tolerate gluten for many years before they are diagnosed with the disease. This source talks about the unique considerations of seniors with celiac disease like the stronger risk of osteoporosis, managing a special diet on a budget, and addressing dietary needs with potential retirement communities.

Now that awareness is on the rise and diagnosis techniques have improved – the increase in gluten-free labeling addresses the needs of a rising demographic. However, unless you have gluten allergy or intolerance as determined by a doctor, there’s no need to be concerned about gluten in your food.

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Access Millions of NYC Vital Records for Free

January 17th, 2014

In a team effort between New York City’s Department of Records/Municipal Archives and Ancestry.com, the City’s Vital Records indices are now available online – for free.

Volunteers from the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy group diligently worked over ten years to compile these indices.  Now, thanks to the concerted efforts of these four groups, would-be genealogists can instantly query more than ten million birth, marriage, and death records ranging in years from 1862 to 1942.

Depending on the query, Ancestry.com’s New York City Department of Records search page will list the person’s name, birth date, death date, spouse’s name and marriage date, and the county where the event took place.

If you’d like to acquire certified copies of original certificates and/or images, you must order the document directly from the NYC Department of Records. You will need to reference the certificate number, which can be obtained by becoming a Registered Guest of ancestry.com. A registered guest account does not require credit card or billing information, and requires nothing more than your name and email address.

Online access to these indices means everyone can search for records, not just New Yorkers. New York City was the first destination of many immigrants and has always been a popular tourist destination, so it’s no stretch of the imagination that a significant event of family history – like birth, marriage, or death – might have happened in NYC. Take advantage of this free resource to find out more about your family history.

Dementia Patients May Experience Improved Rehabilitation Using an Intensive Exercise Program

January 13th, 2014

Researchers at the University of Arizona have found evidence that patients with dementia can adhere to, and experience significant benefits from, an intensive exercise program. Michael Schwenk, PhD, lead author of the research paper, states that “results indicate that medium to high training adherence can be achieved in the majority of geriatric inpatients despite cognitive impairment and acute functional impairment.” Dr. Schwenk believes that rehabilitation programs of low intensity are currently employed because of the preconceived limitations of those with dementia. He hopes this study will provide insight towards developing geriatric rehabilitation exercise programs that will engage the full potential of dementia patients and yield the maximum improvement possible.

Stay Warm and Safe This Winter

January 8th, 2014

Brrr, it’s cold! A distorted polar vortex has brought arctic winds too far south, plunging temperatures across the country dangerously below the freezing mark. During these harsh days of winter it’s important to stay healthy, warm, and safe. Aside from the hazardous conditions caused by snow and ice, the cold weather can harm bodies by causing dry skin, stiff joints, and high blood pressure, in addition to other ailments.

Protected Tomorrows has listed several cold weather health tips for seniors, outlining advice on how to stay warm, protect your skin, and keep your spirits high.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has helpful advice on many winter related issues:

Prepare your Home
Hypothermia
Frostbite
Indoor Safety
Outdoor Safety

If you use space heaters to heat certain rooms in your home, the National Fire Protection Association’s Space Heater Safety Tips might be helpful.

I hope these tips help you and your loved ones stay warm and safe through these record low temperatures.

Happy Holidays From LifeStation

December 24th, 2013

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Playing Video Games May Increase Cognitive Control in Older Adults

December 20th, 2013

As we age our working memory capacity tends to decline; our ability to retain, reason, and react to new information, especially when that information comes from multiple sources, is reduced. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, researchers are conducting more studies using video games to explore the way our brain processes information.  One such study out of the University of California at San Francisco, has found that video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults. The video game, NeuroRacer, was specially designed by scientists to engage attention and multitasking skills. The study found that after 12 hours of game-play spread over a month, 60 to 85 year old participants showed improvements in their working memory and ability to sustain attention for up to six months. Brain scans showed their prefrontal cortex – the brain region associated with governing cognitive processes – began to exhibit activity on par with younger adults.

In a Citizen’s Voice article, Vithal D. Dhaduk, M.D., chief neurologist at Geisinger Community Medical Center explains that video games can successfully improve cognitive functions if they stimulate brain cells and promote multitasking. He continues to say that older adults must use it or lose it, “cognitive functioning will slowly deteriorate if they don’t stimulate the brain cells.” It seems that video games may soon be a valid choice on our list of brain teasers.

Oral Health in Seniors and Affordable Dental Care

October 18th, 2013

Over time factors such as our oral hygiene, diet, medical diseases, some medication and treatments, physical capabilities, and smoking take their toll on our teeth. According to the National Institute of Health, many seniors suffer from gum disease, tooth loss and other oral health issues which ruin their quality of life by making eating, swallowing and speaking difficult. Our teeth can last a lifetime, growing older doesn’t have to mean the inevitable decline of our oral health, but it does mean that our teeth will require more specialized care. It is important to combine a proper home care routine, like brushing and flossing, with regular visits to the dentist. Routine checkups will help maintain good oral health and increase the likelihood of catching emerging dental problems.

Since finding affordable dental care is difficult, especially after we leave the workplace, here are a few resources to help locate and finance reduced-cost dental care:

Toothwisdom.org – A website created by Oral Health America to connect older adults and their caregivers with low cost dental care and information about the various services in their area.

United Way – The United Way may be able to direct you to free or reduced-cost dental services in your community. You can find your local United Way by going to the United Way home page and typing your zip code in the top right.

211.org or call 211 – An information and referral service that helps you find United Way community Partners in your area that may provide financial assistance for dental and health care.

Medicaid – Depending on the state, Medicaid may provide comprehensive to no coverage to help cover the cost of dental care. Medicare does not cover most routine dental care or dentures. Click here to find what Medicaid covers in your state.

State Health Department – Your state health department should have a list of local low cost dental care providers in your area.

Local Dental Schools – Local dental schools often operate clinics where they offer free or low-cost services to patients in order to provide their students with experience. Procedures are supervised by licensed and experienced dentists. Some schools may hold a health screening event where they offer a comprehensive list of free services from oral exams to oral cancer screenings.

Setting Up Your LifeStation Medical Alert System

October 3rd, 2013

A LifeStation Medical Alert system is extremely easy to set up. We go the extra mile and provide a variety of resources to make this process even easier:

- When you first receive your LifeStation Medical Alert system you will see an ‘Open Me First Packet’ that outlines everything you need to know about setting up your system.

- We have created YouTube videos to help walk you through the process of setting up your system. Visit the LifeStation YouTube channel to view the videos. We show you how to install the system with a basic landline telephone, with an answering machine and without connecting to a telephone.

- Our customer service team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any additional questions you may have.

2013 Flu Vaccine Reminder

September 24th, 2013

LifeStation is committed to improving the health and safety of seniors. With flu season looming ahead, it’s important for both seniors and caregivers to stay healthy and get their seasonal flu shot. Most clinics have already started administering the 2013 flu vaccine. For those people without Medicare Part B or other insurance, there are many retailers that offer coupons and discounts. Here are some flu shot webpages from some major pharmacy chains and retailers:

Walgreens

CVS

Rite Aid

Walmart

Safeway

Elderly Internet and Social Media Use – Helping Seniors Stay Happy and Connected

August 15th, 2013

More people are using the internet every day and many of these people are now using social networking sites regularly. While younger adults and teenagers are more likely to use social media than older adults, the growth in social media use for older internet users has skyrocketed in recent years. According to PewInternet, People ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the last four years. In 2009 only 13% were using social networking sites but now 43% are connecting with friends and family on social media.

Elderly adults’ increased internet and social media use has led to many interesting studies. Since many elderly adults are increasingly isolated and struggle with depression and loneliness, social media and internet use can help them stay connected to their friends and family. A study published by Shelia Cotton, a sociologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, found that older adults who were active on the internet experienced a 30% decrease of depressive symptoms. At a panel at last year’s Annual Scientific Meeting on Aging, Dr. Laura Carstensen, the director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, explained how these social networking sites are proving to be an entrance into technology for older adults. They can instantly be connected with friends and family without being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the internet. We hope more studies like these continue to come out and that social media continues to enrich and extend the lives and happiness of older adults.