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These seniors know how to have fun! Whic

January 27, 2014

These seniors know how to have fun! Which character would you be? http://ow.ly/sVr8a

Military caregivers need support. http:/

January 27, 2014

Military caregivers need support. http://ow.ly/sWYqK

Alzheimer’s Disease: Get A Good Night’s Sleep

January 21, 2014

Sleep is important for many aspects of our health and wellbeing. When we sleep our bodies and our minds are given the ability to slow down and repair itself. Eating healthy and exercising regularly help your brain function at its highest level and can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. A recent study at John Hopkins School of Public Health recently found that older adults (70-years-old or older) who slept short periods of time had higher levels of a brain plaque that has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

The study isn’t saying that if you don’t get good sleep that you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s, but it does appear to indicate a link between restless nights and its progression.

Adam Spira, PhD, a researcher in the study was quoted as saying, “These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people. To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,”

While sleep may not stop Alzheimer’s, seeing the connection between “poor sleep and increased amyloid in the brain is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.” The study will move forward and try to determine whether addressing and correcting poor sleep habits may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s.

What can you do to get a good night’s sleep? Here are some tips:

  • Get some exercise every day. Taking a walk, working in the garden or even doing housework – anything that can get your heart rate elevated – is good for both body and mind. Exercise can also lead to a better night’s sleep.
  • Keep caffeine and alcohol intake at a minimum. Caffeine, while a great pick-me-up in the morning will disrupt sleep if you drink it later in the day or in the evening. Alcohol may make you sleepy but will likely lead to wakeful periods in the middle of the night.
  • Get into a bedtime routine that involves yawning, stretching and simple relaxation. Take about a half an hour to 45-minutes prior to bedtime and practice relaxation techniques. Did you know that yawning and stretching can also lead to a better night’s sleep? It can. Try this. Fake a yawn and while you’re doing that reach your arms above your head for a stretch. If you do this three more times, you will likely trigger a real yawn and a deep muscle stretch and this will help to relax you and lead to a better night’s rest.
  • Make certain your bedroom is restful. Keep the room dark and cool. Keep electronics, televisions and radios out of the room or turned off when you’re falling asleep. If you feel you need noise to get a good night’s rest, try a sleep machine.
  • Take a warm bath or a warm shower as part of your bedtime ritual. Once you’ve begun your bedtime ritual resist the urge to watch television, walk the dog, or raid the refrigerator. Get yourself into a mindset of “this ritual is leading toward a more relaxing sleep.”

Whether you can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s with a good night’s slumber, getting a restful sleep will benefit your body in many ways; do what you can to make certain you’re making the most of the night time hours.

We are moving LifeFoneBlog.com to CaregiversConnections.com on January 31, 2014.  If you want to continue to subscribe to this blog, please go to  http://www.CaregiversConnections.com to sign up for the email subscription. Thanks for your interest in our blog!

 

Tips For Staying Young And Vibrant

January 14, 2014

Age is only a number, right? Chances are you know someone who is a “young” 60 but know others that are “not-so-young” 60-year-olds; what is the difference? It could be any number of things ranging from overall health and well-being to mental attitude.

Cover of "Stay Young (Yoga for Living)"

Cover of Stay Young (Yoga for Living)

A positive attitude can go far in helping you remain young at heart even as you age. Here are five ways tips to help you stay “young” and vibrant:

  1. Don’t close yourself off to new opportunities. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can’t try new things.  Join a dinner club, take up golf, get out to a movie with friends on a weekly basis, go out and play Bingo, volunteer for your favorite charity. Staying home and not stretching yourself mentally (and perhaps physically) is a certain way to “feel your age.”
  2. Your health should be a number one priority. From eating healthy meals to getting daily exercise the best way to remain vibrant is by keeping mind and body active. Join a senior yoga class, ask your doctor what kind of exercises are right for you at your current level of health and mobility. Get out and take a short walk after dinner. If you’re not accustomed to being active, it may be a habit you will have to foster, but your mind and body will thank you.
  3. Let go of anger and hostility. Let’s face it, we all have issues with family that simmers until it gets to a boiling point. Keeping anger and resentment bottled up inside of you is damaging to your overall health and stresses both body and mind. Whether you learn to forgive and forget or not get involved in a situation that places you with a person with whom you’re angry, you need to find a way to set that anger free so you can remain healthy and stress-free.
  4. Nurture those relationships that bring you joy. If you have children and grandchildren, make spending time with them a priority. In today’s busy world, it’s not always easy to get everyone together for a family meal, but ask your family about doing just that, even if it’s just once a month. For those times when you can’t physically be together, why not set up a Skype chat or even “eat dinner together” via webcam. If you’re not tech savvy ask your children to set you up with a computer that is easy to use and one that you can use to have web-chats with friends and family. There’s nothing better than seeing the smiling faces of your family to break up isolation and bring you joy!
  5. Volunteer your time and talents. Do you have a unique talent that you could share with others? Perhaps you’re a whiz at knitting or woodworking or maybe you’re a writer or a dog trainer; take those skills to the public and teach a class at a local senior center or in an adult learning class. If you don’t have a particular talent, then take a class and learn something new. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or a charitable organization whose mission you support. In addition to feeling great about giving back, getting out and socializing is simply great for body, mind and soul.

What can you do today to stay young? If you’re a caregiver, what can you do to help enhance your parents’ lives so they can recapture their youth and remain vibrant? Consider these ideas or come up with things that you know you or your loved one will enjoy to stay young-at-heart.

We are moving LifeFoneBlog.com to CaregiversConnections.com on January 31, 2014.  If you want to continue to subscribe to this blog, please go to  http://www.CaregiversConnections.com to sign up for the email subscription. Thanks for your interest in our blog!

 

We’re Moving!

January 13, 2014

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We are moving LifeFoneBlog.com to CaregiversConnections.com on January 31, 2014.  If you want to continue to subscribe to this blog, please go to  http://www.CaregiversConnections.com to sign up for the email subscription. Thanks for your interest in our blog!

Winter Heating Money Saving Tips For Seniors

January 7, 2014

As winter begins to settle in across the country, seniors need to focus on heating their homes. Heating costs need to be factored into the family budget as heating costs can take a big bite out of any budget. The rising costs of natural gas, electric, coal and even wood for fireplaces, make it harder for seniors to meet the demands of keeping their houses warm. In addition to keeping the house warm, many seniors will be staying in the house much more than in the summer and that can lead to increases in other utility bills.

 

There are many steps that can be taken to help address the costs of increased heating bills. Here are a few items to consider and steps to take:

  • If you’re not watching the television, turn it off. Appliances and the television use a lot of electricity when they’re in use. If it’s easy and feasible, you can even consider unplugging the items as they use “phantom” electricity when they’re turned off but still plugged in.
  • Turn off the lights in rooms you’re not using. Consider adding motion activated lights to specific rooms and dark hallways; that way you won’t have to fumble around in the dark to turn a light on and it will turn off after a specific time of inactivity.
  • Trade in higher wattage light bulbs for lower watt models. If you have a light over a chair where you read, then keep a light that is of a high enough wattage to allow you to do that easily and without eye strain. In other areas of the house, though, lower wattage bulbs may help save money.
  • Have the heating system serviced and maintenance items addressed. If it’s in good working order it will run more efficiently and save on heating bills. Ask the technician how often the air filters should be changed. If you have rooms that are simply not getting warm, it may be time to consider having the heating ducts cleaned.
  • Look around the house for areas in which winds could slip through the cracks such as windows and doorways. Use weather stripping, caulk or other sealants to keep the cold air out and trap the warm air in. If you don’t have Energy Star windows you may want to consider adding plastic over the windows for an additional layer of insulation.
  • The use of a programmable thermostat can save money by lowering the heat when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping and having it turn on and heat the house before you get home or wake up.
  • You can also turn down the thermostat a few degrees and still stay warm by dressing in layers, wearing slippers in the house and curling up on the couch with a blanket when you’re relaxing. If you’re up and moving around during the day, chances are you will be warm enough without having to turn the thermostat up too high.
  • Make certain your thermostat isn’t in direct contact with a drafty or cold area as this could make it turn on and run more frequently than it needs to. Heat sources such as lights and ovens can also impact how often your heater turns on and off.
  • When you do laundry try to do it one load after another; you reduce heat loss and drying time by adding a fresh load of laundry to an already heated dryer.
  • Is it possible to lower the thermostat on the water heater? You may be able to save money on the heating of the water by lowering the temperature a few degrees. In many cases a drop of a couple degrees will not make a noticeable impact on the water temperature when you shower or wash dishes.
  • If you have a fireplace make certain the damper is closed when it’s not in use. Cold air can blow through the chimney and into the home through an open damper. If you’re using a fireplace it should be inspected annually.
  • Do you have sufficient insulation in the attic or crawlspaces? If you’re not certain ask a family member or hire a professional to check and add more if necessary to reduce heat loss.
  • Open your curtains during the day to use the heat of the sun to help warm the house. Close them at night to help retain the heat. Using heavier, insulated curtains in the winter is a great way to keep the cold wind out and the warm air in.

Don’t let the fear of heating bills cause you to turn the furnace down to such a low temperature that you become ill. As we age, it’s sometimes more difficult to notice fluctuations in temperature and you don’t want to suffer ill effects of being too cold simply because you don’t notice the chill. A steady temperature of 67 or 68 degrees is typically comfortable in the winter and if you’re cold add a sweater or another layer.

Talking To Your Aging Loved One About Depression

December 31, 2013

When the tables are turned from your Mom and Dad parenting you to the time when you are becoming more responsible for their care, you need to be aware of the sometimes subtle changes in their moods or health.

Some signs such as forgetfulness, not eating, not leaving the house or letting personal hygiene slide may be readily visible. Signs of depression, though, which could be brought about by several factors may not be so easily recognizable. If you are a caregiver that has almost daily contact with aging relatives you will likely notice changes in behavior. If you don’t live close by and have to rely on telephone calls, webcam chats or occasional visits you may miss the signs. Consider if you’ve been calling Mom or Dad and inviting them over or offering to visit and they put you off or make excuses to avoid you, it could be a signal of a deeper issue. If your parents are making excuses to not see the grandchildren or participate in other family activities and if they mention they’re not sleeping well it mean they’re clinically depressed.

Depression is more than a bout of “feeling sad” and studies have shown that close to 20% of the population aged 65 and older may suffer from depression. In seniors that are housebound or who live alone those figures soar to close to 50%. Another statistic that is startling is that while the elderly may be 13% of the population in the United States, they account for close to 20% of the nation’s suicide rate: the highest rates are in men that are 80-years-old or older.

In spite of these statistics, depression is one of those conditions that is not readily picked up on and in many cases the symptoms are attributed to other health issues entirely. Even seniors ignore their feelings and may think they’re feeling sad because they’re aging, are alone or simply do not feel well. Depression, doctors explain, is not a typical symptom of aging.

If you’re a caregiver or spouse what are the signs you should be looking for in your loved one? Here are a few symptoms that could signal depression:

  • Feelings of anxiety that don’t abate
  • Feeling sad for no specific reason
  • Sleeping too much
  • Sleeping too little or waking up frequently during the night
  • Losing interest in activities you’d once enjoyed – cooking, walking, playing cards with friends, spending time with grandchildren, etc.
  • Loss of energy
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or recalling life events.
  • Feeling you’re a burden to your family
  • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt

If you feel any of these feelings, talk with your family or your physician and ask for help.

If you’re a caregiver and you notice any of these signs, talk with your Mom or Dad and ask if there is anything bothering them or if there’s anything they’d like to talk about. Asking, “are you depressed” will not open the door to conversation. If your loved one talks about “not feeling hungry” or “I can’t sleep” or “I don’t feel like going out any more” or “I’m just not feeling well” these could be symptoms of depression. Reassure him or her that what they’re feeling may warrant a trip to the doctor. Let him know (even if they don’t say anything) that you do not find caring for him a burden and in fact you enjoy the time you have together. Offer to go to the doctor’s with her and ask the doctor for a medical assessment to rule out any other physical cause.

Treatments for depression vary from medications to behavioral therapies. It is a problem to be taken seriously and addressed in a calm, loving manner.

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