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:
Archive for the ‘health’ Category
With the hot summer months upon us, staying healthy and hydrated is vital for everyone. Seniors need to be especially careful when heat waves approach as they are more susceptible to heat and heat related problems.
How can we help the elderly people in our lives avoid these potential dangers? Here are some general tips that can help the elderly avoid the heat.
Dehydration is a common health risk for seniors in the heat, so make sure you drink lots of fluids and avoid dehydrating beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
Limit sun exposure
Stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day. When outside, wear sunscreen, a large hat, and light-colored clothing.
Be mindful of medication
Certain medications can increase fluid and electrolyte loss. Make sure to consult your pharmacists for potential heat-related side effects of your medication.
Eat foods that contain lots of water such as fruits and vegetables. Be careful of dairy products and other foods that spoil when left in the heat, as seniors are particularly susceptible to food poisoning.
Don’t forget that humidity can also cause heat related problems. For a full report on all of the dangers of heat, check out the Nation Weather Service’s page on heat.
Staying hydrated seems like simply advice, however, a Washington Times article shows how it is even more important for seniors than anyone else. As we age, the amount of water in our body declines, which means that the older you are, the more water you need to drink to stay hydrated.
Despite the dangers of heat, following some of these tips and staying hydrated can keep you cool and safe these hot summer months.
At the first sign of heat stress or dehydration, make sure that your loved ones know to press their medical alert buttons to get help fast.
Eating disorders and poor nutrition occur amongst the elderly with alarming frequency. As people age, their appetites decrease, there are more physical difficulties involved with making food and dementia and memory loss can lead to forgotten meals. Care Focus explores some of these problems and how they can lead to eating disorders amongst the elderly.
With many other factors also coming into play, it is important to narrow down the causes of malnutrition amongst your loved ones. SparkPeople explores a variety of causes of malnutrition and gives some ideas on how to combat these problems.
While it is important to understand the causes of eating disorders, it is always better if you can avoid the problems before they begin. Help Guide provides an in-depth outline to senior nutrition, breaking down what foods and habits are best for both elderly men and women.
While eating disorders and malnutrition are large concerns amongst the elderly population, being informed and proactive can help keep your loved ones healthy.
The media is abuzz about coffee today. We’re not talking about the buzz they get from their cup of morning joe. We’re talking about the buzz from new research that further points to coffee being the miracle drug.
Yesterday, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health published a report that men can significantly reduce their risk of prostate cancer. Men who drank six or more cups a day over an extended period of time reduced their risk by sixty percent. Those who drank less coffee still saw their risk decline, though not by as much. It doesn’t matter if the coffee is caffeinated or decaf, pointing instead to coffee as an antioxidant.
Last week, a study out of Sweden found that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day had a much lower risk of aggressive breast cancer.
Of course six cups a day from Starbucks could send you and your newfound health to the poorhouse, which is why we present you with this helpful video on how to pick the right coffee. Spoiler alert: in blind tests, the cheapest coffee nearly always wins.
Photo by visualpanic via flickr
Last week, the American Heart Association issued the 2011 update to its guidelines for preventing heart disease in women. Often thought to be a male disease, heart disease is the number one cause of death among women. More women die from heart disease than from cancer, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s and accidents, combined.
Dr. Lori Mosca, the chair of the guidelines writing committee, noted, “These recommendations underscore the fact that benefits of preventive measures seen day-to-day in doctors’ offices often fall short of those reported for patients in research settings.” Dr. Mosca noted that patients in the real-world often don’t fair as well as patients in studies because they are “older, sicker, and experience more side effects.”
Most of the AHA’s guidelines are generally considered common sense these days, but they’re definitely worth reviewing and heeding. Some key guidelines are:
- Don’t smoke and avoid environmental smoke.
- Get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
- Women’s diets should be rich in fruits and vegetables and include whole-grain and high-fiber foods. They should eat fish at least twice a week, limit saturated fat and avoid trans-fats.
- Aspirin should be taken by women at high risk, and it can also be useful for other women, including healthy women.
Visit the American Heart Association site to view the entire list and discuss them with your doctor.
Photo of Dr. Mosca courtesy: American Heart Association
Valentine’s Day isn’t the only event in February that focuses on the heart. In fact, the whole month has been designated as American Heart Month by the President, as it has been every year since Congress passed a Joint Resolution in 1963.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in the United States. American Heart Month is meant to bring attention to how we can all maintain a strong, healthy heart. A lot of research is going into understanding and curing heart disease, but for most of us, the path to a healthy heart is based on very common sense principles:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a huge problem in the US…no pun intended. The New York Times The New Old Age blog recently had an insightful post that looked at the other end of the spectrum: seniors losing muscle as they lose too much weight.
- Eat well: What you eat is as important as how much you eat. ElderCareABCBlog shares helpful hints on what foods to include in your diet.
- Exercise: Along with a proper diet, being active can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 25 percent. EverydayHealth.com has good info to help seniors create an exercise regimen.
- Don’t smoke: It’s not just bad for your heart. Add colon and breast cancer to the list of diseases linked to smoking and second-hand smoke. Healthline has excellent information to help you or your loved one quit the habit.
Through the end of February, in recognition of American Heart Month, LifeStation is giving new customers $2.00 off their monthly service when you use code HEART2011. (If you’re an existing LifeStation customer and you refer someone to LifeStation, make sure they mention your name so that you receive your LifeStation referral bonus.)
The passing of Jack LaLanne should remind all of us of the importance of exercising, eating well and staying fit. Few people personified the saying, “Age is just a number” better than LaLanne, who died on Sunday at the age of 96. The fitness guru is credited with starting the health club movement, opening his first club in 1936 in Oakland, California. LaLanne was a vocal proponent of eating right and getting plenty of exercise. He welcomed women into his health clubs, which was unheard of at the time, and encouraged seniors to not let age and physical limitations prevent them from exercising.
LaLanne’s life is an excellent example of how important it is to stay fit. Today, many health clubs have programs catering to older members, and there are plenty of good exercise regimens you can do at home. The National Institutes of Health has an excellent section of their web site dedicated to exercises for seniors and we frequently post information about exercising on this blog.
But LaLanne’s example isn’t just for seniors. In a recent blog post, Get Up, Get Out, Skip the Chips, Think of Jack, Caring.com’s Paula Spencer offers an important reminder to caregivers that they need to focus on their own health as well. “If you get sick, who will care for your loved one? Who will have to step in to care for you? …But we can try harder to live by the amazing knowledge out there about how to amplify good health and reduce risks.”
If caring for your loved one makes you feel like you’re singlehandidly dragging 13 boats filled with passengers through the water (as LaLanne did at age 62), then it’s time to get in shape. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?
A few interesting studies have crossed our computer screens recently that shed light on living a long, happy, productive life.
Walking speed as an indicator of longevity
A new study appearing today in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds evidence that walking speed is a useful predictor of how long older adults may live. According the MSNBC’s HealthNews Daily:
Those who walked 1 meter per second (about 2.25 mph) or faster consistently lived longer than others of their age and sex who walked more slowly, the study showed.
The article is quick to point out that you shouldn’t suddenly start walking faster in order to prolong life. You need to address the underlying issues that cause you to have a slower gait. However, doctors can use information about walking speed to gauge their patients’ health.
Dental health and mental health
US News and World Reports’ HealthDay has an article on a study in Japan that attempted to find a correlation between a person’s dental health and psychiatric condition. 4,000 participants aged 65 and older were given exams in both areas:
Compared with participants who still had many of their natural teeth, those with fewer or no teeth were much more likely to have experienced some memory loss or have early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The researcher theorized that tooth infections may cause inflammatory substances to be released that damage the brain.
The American Dental Hygienists Association has a good page on proper tooth brushing technique.
Bright lights, big changes
WebMD reported on a study of older adults with depression that looked at the effects of light therapy on the participants’ mental state. One group of participants were exposed to an hour of bright, pale blue light in the early morning while the control group received an hour of dim red light.
In the short term, the bright light group showed slightly more improvement in their depression symptoms (43% versus 36%), though both groups had positive reactions. However, three weeks after the treatment ended, there was a much larger gap: 54% to 33%.
Many people embraced Nintendo’s Wii and “exergames” like Wii Fit with the hopes that it would get them off the couch and provide a fun way to stay in shape. However, as Gretchen Reynolds reports in today’s New York Times, researchers are finding that the workouts just aren’t intense enough to provide real benefits to younger people. However, a few studies are starting to indicate that the elderly can improve their physical fitness through these games.
Two studies cited in the Times article found that elderly participants saw significant improvements in balance using the Wii Fit’s exercises as well as fun games like Wii Bowling. Improving balance is important to preventing falls, which are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among the elderly.
With the holidays coming, it makes you think if maybe this year, it’s time to give Junior a good book or sweater and reserve the game console for grandma and grandpa.
It’s very important that seniors eat right, but at some point, many seniors decide that they don’t want to or can’t cook anymore. Jim Miller, a syndicated columnist from The Savvy Senior, recently published a useful article detailing alternatives for seniors who want to live independently at home but who no longer prepare their own meals.
Miller’s suggestions start with community meal-delivery programs such as Meals on Wheels. These organizations can often provide meals for people with special needs, such as those who need a low-sodium or kosher diet. Many communities also offer hot meals in group settings.
For those who can afford it, Miller also suggest looking into personal chefs. Pricing for personal chefs can vary widely. Finally, there are companies like MagicKitchen.com that delivers frozen meals ordered online. This can be useful for caregivers who don’t live close to the people they help.