Flu Shots for Seniors: Standard-Dose versus High-Dose

September 8th, 2014

Flu season is looming and can start as early as October. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea while others may have respiratory symptoms without a fever. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age, especially people 65 years or older as they are more susceptible to the flu virus than younger adults.

People 65 years or older can choose to receive the standard-dose flu vaccine or a high-dose vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose. Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the amount of antigen — the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody — contained in regular flu shots. Since the human immune system becomes weaker with age, the additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in seniors. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors than the standard-dose vaccine.

While the CDC strongly encourages seniors to get vaccinated, it does not endorse one dose over the other. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and which dose is right for you.

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2014 Flu Vaccine Reminder

August 29th, 2014

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 2014 flu vaccine. Once we are vaccinated, our bodies take about two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against the flu. Since the flu season can start as early as October, the Center for Disease Control recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the shot becomes available. Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu shot.

For those people without Medicare Part B or other insurance, there are many retailers that offer coupons and discounts for the flu vaccine. Here are some flu shot webpages from some major pharmacy chains and retailers:

Walgreens

CVS

Rite Aid

Walmart

Safeway

Why Are Some Seniors Food Insecure?

August 22nd, 2014

Studies indicate that there are a variety of reasons for food insecurity in seniors. According to a study recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, seniors aren’t getting enough to eat and cite depression, difficulty eating and difficulty buying groceries as the dominant reasons. This echoes a 2003 study which found that although lack of money is a major reason for food insecurity, some seniors who have the money to buy food are still food insecure due to lack of transportation, inability to prepare food, and/or medical problems.

Ideally, once the cause of food insecurity is identified, seniors can be paired with services (like those listed below) to help them regularly obtain and eat nutritious meals.


Resources to Help Seniors Stay Food Secure

Meals On Wheels
Meals On Wheels supports a national network of more than 5,000 Senior Nutrition Programs. They deliver nutritious meals that helps keep 2.5 million seniors healthy, safe and living independently in their own homes each year. Find a Meals On Wheels near you.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army serves 60 million meals to anyone in need through its many soup kitchens, sit-down meal programs, food pantries, mobile meals and community gardens. Contact your local Salvation Army Corps Community Center for information on specific programs and locations.

Mom’s Meals
Mom’s Meals is a leading national provider of fresh-made, home-delivered meals and nutrition services for individuals desiring convenience or independent living and for patients recuperating at home or managing a chronic disease. For more information on Mom’s Meals visit www.momsmeals.com or call 1-877-508-6667.

Local Food banks & Food Pantries
In most communities, food banks and food pantries distribute food to those who need it. Feeding America’s Food Bank Locator and FoodPantries.org are a good start to finding pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves, and food banks in your area.

SNAP
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of seniors supplement the cost of nutritious food. There are an estimated 5.2 million seniors eligible for SNAP who aren’t enrolled. Go to www.benefitscheckup.org/getsnap/ for more information and to see if you’re eligible.

Dial 2-1-1
Call 2-1-1 for information and referrals to local health, human and social service organizations such as food banks, adult day care & recreation centers, medical services, transportation providers, and much more. Check here to learn more about your local 2-1-1.

See if SNAP Can Help You

July 22nd, 2014

Did you know the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not only for families with children? Each day SNAP helps 4 million seniors buy healthy food. The average senior using SNAP receives $119 each month on a special debit card to buy nutritious foods. The SNAP debit card is accepted at over 250,000 grocery stores, farmers markets and neighborhood stores across the country.

Depending on where you live, you can apply online, by mail, or in person. Visit https://www.benefitscheckup.org/getsnap/ to see if SNAP can help you save money on groceries.

Racing Age: Photos of Senior Athletes

July 17th, 2014

Click here to see Racing Age, Angela Jimenez’s stunning photos of senior athletes as they sprint, pole vault and blow our minds. One look at Racing Age will redefine your notion of what an aging body can do. More than just a series of charming pictures, Racing Age illustrates the hard work, determination and competitiveness of these seniors as well as their verve and enthusiasm for activities many expected them to have long retire from. These pictures and the athletes they portray are evidence and inspiration that one can still be a fierce athlete at age 70 and beyond.

Collect Memories One Question at a Time

June 26th, 2014

Learning more about your family history may be as simple as asking a question. Many seniors are eager to share their past, but are stymied by the idea of choosing where to begin and writing it all down.

Asking the senior in your life a series of stimulating questions reduces the task from thinking about their whole life to just answering a question. Questions like “did you ever have a childhood nemesis?” or “what were your grandparents like?” spark a bit of reminiscing and inspire distinct stories. If you’re strapped for questions, StoryCorps – a nonprofit that helps to record, share, and preserve stories – offers a large selection geared towards encouraging people to tell their stores. They even have a question generator!

While seniors may want to share their memories, some find writing to be tedious or problematic. If asking your loved one to write about his life yields blank pages, consider engaging him in a correspondence. Including your questions in a weekly email or letter might encourage him to write a specific story in a timely manner. Similarly, you can take notes during conversations/interviews with your loved one and write the story afterwards. A written account is just one way to share and archive memories, you can also work with your loved one to make audio or video recordings of their stories.

Collect memories and learn about your family history one question at a time – open a dialogue with your loved one today.

Beat the Heat: Hot Weather Safety Tips

June 20th, 2014

Everyone should take special care to stay healthy and hydrated during the spring and summer months. Extreme heat and high humidity can cause overexertion, fluid loss and heat-related illnesses. Seniors especially must take special care as they are less likely than younger adults to sense and respond to change in temperature. If you have a medical condition and/or take medication, speak to your doctor about how the heat will affect your health and what precautions you should take to stay fit.

Here are some hot weather safety tips to help you beat the heat.

Be Aware

Safety Measures

Walk to Stay Mobile and Independent

May 30th, 2014

Regular physical activity and exercise are extremely important for staying healthy, and as we age physical activity and exercise play a key role in staying mobile and independent.

Walking is an everyday activity most people can easily do to stay fit, and usually the only special equipment needed is a pair of walking shoes. A study from the Institute of Aging at the University of Florida indicates that people in their 70s and 80s who regularly walk for exercise are more likely to stay mobile or recover lost mobility than those who stay sedentary.

Walking also helps to maintain healthy weight and blood pressure, it increases muscle strength, flexibility and balance, and it reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension and falls.

If you are considering taking up walking for exercise the first step is to consult your doctor or physical trainer. They can help you avoid injury and ensure that your walking regime is right for you.

Here are some additional steps to help you stay safe on your walks:

  • Warm up before the walk and cool off afterwards.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear comfortable and supportive footwear with non-skid soles.
  • Choose a path that is familiar, well-lit, even, and free of debris.
  • Hydrate frequently.
  • Pace yourself. Start out on short walks and over time increase the distance.
  • If you need a cane or walker, use it. Be sure it’s sized to your height.
  • Stop or rest if you feel pain during the walk. See your doctor if pain persist after the walk.
  • Carry a cell phone or a Mobile Emergency Button in case of emergencies.
  • Avoid walking in extreme cold or icy conditions. Be vigilant of slippery walkways during wintertime.
  • Walk with friends or in groups.

This guide on fitness for seniors offers more advice on the benefits of exercise and how to safely incorporate a fitness routine into your life.

100 Centenarians Polled and the Survey Says

May 12th, 2014

The UnitedHealthcare 100@100 Survey annually polls 100 people who are age 100 or older (centenarians) to gauge their attitudes about their lifestyle and world events. For the 2014 survey, researchers also polled baby boomers (age 65) entering retirement to compare their views with the views of centenarians who have been retired for the last 35 years.

Here are a few illuminating results of the 2014 UnitedHeathcare 100@100 Survey:

  • Centenarians report feeling blessed, happy and surprised about reaching the age of 100, none report feeling sad or burdened.
  • Both centenarians and boomers feel as if they are younger than their age.
  • Over 50% of centenarians live independently and about 25% of baby boomers are caregivers.
  • Centenarians believe convenient household appliances and automobiles are the most significant technological advancements to emerge during their lifetime, while boomers believe it to be the personal computer.
  • 3 out of 4 centenarians report that they do not have access to the internet, while almost 90% of boomers report that they do.
  • The home telephone is the most popular way to connect with friends and family for both centenarians and boomers.
  • Baby boomers are much more likely than centenarians to use cell phones, smartphones or social media.
  • Boomers believe their health will be more difficult to maintain than their social connections.

Hearing Aids Created to Work with Your Smartphone

April 28th, 2014

Hearing professionals and developers are using the latest wireless and smartphone technology to create a new generation of digital hearing aids which users can control via an app on their smartphone.

Most of the new app-linked hearing aids provide their wearer with the ability to:

  • Tune his hearing aid himself.
  • Amplify or reduce the decibel (dB) as needed for his location.
  • Save the sound setting best suited to his location, and automatically switch to that setting every time he returns to that location.
  • Use his hearing aids as headphones. He can stream sound directly from his smartphone to hear music, navigation instructions, or his conversation partner over the din of a crowd.

According to Nielsen, 51% of adults over age 55 are now smartphone owners and that number is expected to grow each year. With the advent of these app-linked hearing aids and the increased use of smartphones, older adults suffering from hearing loss now have a viable alternative to traditional hearing aids. Moreover, there’s an increased likelihood that they will make use of the hearing aids’ extra features since these smartphone apps are meant to be convenient and user-friendly.

These new app-linked hearing aids are sold as electronic devices and are not overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hearing professionals advise that these new hearing aids are not for those with severe hearing loss or sensorineural deafness. Nor are they meant to replace the delicate and customized care provided by an audiologist. Any hearing loss should be medically assessed for your well being and quality of life.

Sources:
Next-Generation Hearing Aids Tune In to the iPhone by Dawn Chmielewski
Better Hearing Through Bluetooth By TRICIA ROMANO
Smartphone Milestone: Half of Americans Ages 55+ Own Smartphones