April 7th, 2014
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March 31st, 2014
Are you drinking enough water? Although the amount of water a person needs to drink varies, a general rule of thumb is at least eight, eight ounce, glasses per day.
Our bodies use the water we drink to replenish the moisture we lose throughout the day. Water is needed to hydrate blood and tissue, lubricate joints, regulate body temperature, promote digestion and plays an integral part in ridding one’s body of waste. More than 50% of one’s body is comprised of water, making it a vital part in maintaining a healthy body.
If we fail to replace the water our body has used, we may suffer from dehydration. Dehydration is a physiological state where one’s body does not have enough fluids to perform its functions.
Seniors are very susceptible to dehydration and must be sure to stay properly hydrated. Seniors are less likely than younger adults to realize that they are thirsty, causing them to drink fewer liquids. At the same time, they might routinely take medications, and/or ingest caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, which have diuretic effects. Furthermore, the kidneys of some older adults may have a reduced ability to regulate their bodies’ water levels.
Taking a deliberate role in staying hydrated is very important for seniors, therefore here are several ways to help keep yourself and your loved ones hydrated:
- Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, your body always needs water.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of liquids per day.
- When at home, keep ice and drinks within reach for easier access.
- On the go, keep a water bottle with you and take frequent sips.
- Drink frequently during the daytime, rather than drinking large amounts at one time.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content (watermelon, lettuce, broccoli, grapes, etc).
- Soups, smoothies, popsicles, and yogurt also have high water content.
- Choose water instead of syrup/sugar-sweetened, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages.
- If you do drink the beverages above, try cutting sweet drinks with water or choosing decaffeinated coffee and tea.
Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure these tips are right for your health and lifestyle.
February 27th, 2014
People with dementia may require assistance with daily tasks and activities because they are often unable to interpret social and environmental cues and/or remember the corresponding responses. While many with dementia live with loved ones who provide the support they need, some require professional 24-hour supervised care.
Hogeweyk, a village in the Netherlands, is taking an innovative approach to providing sufferers of dementia with the assistance and security they need in their daily lives. People with dementia often remember past events with much more clarity than recent events and have the desire to wander, be it to run errands or simply go for a walk. Hogeweyk was specially designed for residents with dementia to go about their daily lives seemingly without restriction.
Hogeweyk furnishes its residents with an apartment similar to where they might have lived in the past and a whole village to roam. Six to eight residents with common interests and backgrounds share a house that is decorated to closely represent a lifestyle enjoyed before moving to Hogeweyk. The residents cook, do housework, shop at the market, visit gardens and attend movies at the local cinema – enjoying amenities and routines they became accustomed to over their lifetimes.
Specially trained caregivers, in ordinary clothes, function as the villages’ support system; they live in the village as roommates, neighbors, shop clerks, and other village workers. Caregivers calmly help residents in their daily tasks or compensate for missed cues – like applying a resident’s bill to his room if he forgets to pay at the restaurant.
In the U.S, there are nearly 5 million people over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia – and that number is projected to triple by 2050. Currently our options for dementia care communities comparable to Hogeweyk are memory care units. A memory care unit is usually a separate ward within an assisted living community that is designed to address the needs of those with dementia. They are staffed with personnel specifically trained to interact with dementia sufferers and feature special security measures to deter wandering beyond the unit.
Memory care units are safe environments that offer daily living assistance and recreational programs. However, one can appreciate the appeal of an open-air village where residents can live freely and where simple mistakes such as forgetting to pay a bill is understood and accounted for. Perhaps U.S. developers will look to Hogeweyk for inspiration as they begin to build additional dementia care communities to accommodate the growing demographic.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.