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The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Monday , June 15 , 2020

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Exercise is an important part of daily life for seniors, and its benefits are well-documented. A regular fitness routine not only helps improve strength but can also enhance mental health and delay the onset of many age-related diseases.

Despite these benefits, many older adults don’t love the idea of going to the fitness center several times a week. We get it – exercise can get boring.

Luckily, fitness doesn’t have to mean aerobic exercise or weight training. It can be as simple as puttering around in the garden!

Studies show that spending time weeding, planting, and sowing is an excellent way to boost mental and physical health. It stimulates the senses, provides physical activity, and helps us reconnect with nature.

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of gardening for seniors – and how to best grow your own garden.

How Does Gardening Benefit Seniors?

 

  1. It lowers stress. Studies have shown that gardening can lower levels of the stress-producing hormone cortisol and raise the levels of serotonin, a calming chemical that helps improve mood. Some studies have even linked gardening to a reduction in symptoms of depression. In addition, gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync.

 

  1. It boosts heart health. Did you know that in the 60–79-year-old age group, 69.1% of men and 67.9% of women have cardiovascular disease? Luckily, studies have found that regular gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 30% for people over 60. Additionally, gardening can help you burn 200 to 400 calories and hour, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

  1. It increases mobility. Mobility problems in seniors can stop them from taking part in activities they enjoy and can lead to social isolation and depression. Many older adults begin to limit what they do physically, believing they are saving themselves from injury – but remaining active is the key to good health. Gardening is known to engage lesser-used muscles and to help build strength and mobility.

 

  1. It increases brain health. No one knows exactly what causes Alzheimer’s Disease or how to prevent it, but studies show that positive live choices, such as gardening, can have an impact. In fact, the physical demands, critical thinking skills, and sensory awareness have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

 

  1. It encourages healthy eating. There are many reasons why it can be difficult for seniors to stick to a healthy diet. New food aversions. Difficulty chewing. Dietary restrictions. Boredom. The list goes on and on. But growing your own garden makes it easy to access healthy, delicious foods in season – including many you can pluck off the plant and eat on the spot, like snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or berries.

Final Thoughts

Gardening can be an enjoyable activity when the weather is nice, and the benefits are many. One of the best things about gardening for seniors is that it is adaptable for all skill and ability levels – for example, potted plants or raised beds can be used instead of a traditional garden for those who can’t bend or kneel.

Know your limits, take breaks as necessary, but – most of all – HAVE FUN!

Happy gardening!

Posted in: Health

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Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Monday , May 4 , 2020

Caring for the Caregiver in the Age of COVID-19

Self-care is always essential for caregivers, but even more so during periods of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the ongoing illness ravaging the country, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care to those in need. And while the everyday demands of caring for a loved one is already a fulltime job, it’s even more challenging when trying to cope with an infectious disease.

During this difficult time, caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own health and well-being. This helps avoid the risk of caregiver burnout as well as reducing the likelihood of transmission.

Here are some tips for conscientious caregiving in the age of COVID-19.

Reduce the Likelihood of Transmission

As a caregiver, your number one concern is likely for the health and safety of your loved one. To help keep both of you well, follow CDC guidelines for personal hygiene:

To help stop the spread of germs:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw used tissues in the trash
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands
  • Wash hands frequently, especially
    • Before, during, and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After touching garbage

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19-related news in your area – but don’t obsess over it. Constantly checking your social media feed or the local news can be mentally draining and increase stress. Choose a time each day to catch up on relevant information and don’t look at it otherwise.

Make time for self-care

Your loved one’s well-being relies on your ability to take care of yourself and stay well. To keep yourself healthy and fit:

  • Eat balanced meals on a regular schedule
  • Maintain a regular sleep routine
  • Fit in exercise whenever possible
  • Find opportunities to relax
    • Take a walk around the block
    • Go for a drive
    • Try gardening
    • Take small breaks and read
    • Check out a new recipe
  • Try meditation
    • Many apps, like Headspace, can help with relaxation and sleep

Stay connected

Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing. It IS possible – and recommended – to maintain your social connections despite not being able to see each other in person.

  • Reach out to friends and family for regular chats and wellness checks
  • Consider spending time together virtually – watch a movie together or play an online board game
  • If you live with loved ones, figure out ways you can have fun together, rather than just falling prey to the doldrums of isolation

Watch for signs of burnout

Caregiver burnout can happen in any situation, but it’s far more likely during periods of high stress. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overwhelming anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks

Final thoughts

Though it may be difficult right now, make time for yourself whenever possible. Caregiving can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting – and if you are not well, you can’t care for another.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and reach out if you feel like you need some outside support.

Posted in: Caregivers

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Beware COVID-19 Scammers

Monday , April 27 , 2020

Beware COVID-19 Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that Americans have lost nearly $13.5 million in COVID-19-related scams since the beginning of the year.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Scammers are experts at shifting tactics and changing messages to catch people off guard – and if there’s one thing they love, it’s a crisis.

During times of hardship, like the current pandemic, people feel anxious and stressed. They want a quick fix or an easy way out. And that’s exactly what scammers offer.

Until the COVID-19 infections come to an end, the scams won’t stop.

Here’s a quick look at some known virus-related scams and what you can do to protect yourself.

Medicare Scams

According to the FTC, scammers have been calling people offering things like a “COVID-19 kit,” Coronavirus package,” or Medicare benefits related to the virus. When you express interest, the scammers will ask you to verify personal information like your Medicare ID, Social Security number, or bank account information. If you get a call from someone that says they are from Medicare, hang up. A real Medicare representative would never call and ask you to verify personal information over the phone.

Stimulus Check Scams

Many Americans received a stimulus payment via direct deposit in recent weeks, and many others are still waiting for their physical check to arrive in the mail. The FTC is reporting an upswing in fraudulent calls, texts, and emails purporting to come from the Social Security Administration, IRS, USCIS, or FDIC. These fake government calls may promise you fast access to your stimulus money or cash relief if you give them bank account information.  Don’t fall for it!

COVID-19 Treatment Scams

We all want this pandemic to be over quickly and we’d all like a viable treatment to be available. Some scammers have created fake websites offering hard-to-find items such as hand sanitizer and face masks in the hopes that you will “buy” them. Some are also claiming to have access to experimental treatments or vaccines, but no such thing has been approved by the FDA for home use. Avoid making purchases from unfamiliar websites or, at a minimum, do some research before you shop.

Debt Reduction Scams

Scammers know that many people are struggling financially, and they hope to capitalize on their desire to be rid of debt. Bottom line: If someone calls and offers you a debt reduction technique that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many banks, credit card companies, and other financial services are offering hardship assistance to customers who have been affected by COVID-19. These are the safer bet.

Charity Scams

Scammer may be reaching out claiming to work for charitable organizations that help people affected by COVID-19. If you’d like to donate to help those in need at this time, make sure it’s a legitimate charity with a name you recognize. If you can’t find the company listed in the IRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search Tool, that’s a big red flag.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Scams

If you want to keep yourself safe from COVID-19-related scams, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Beware of anyone who asks for personal information like Social Security or bank account numbers
  • Check any email address or links for legitimacy. You can inspect a link by hovering your curser over the URL to see where it leads
  • Watch for spelling and grammar mistakes or odd phrasing in written communications like emails and letters
  • Listen for generic greetings – scammers are less likely to use your actual name and may address you as “Sir” or “Madam”
  • Avoid any person or organization that insists that you “act now”

Sources of Information

Government offices and health care agencies are often the best sources of information regarding COVID-19. If you have questions about coronavirus, here are a few of the best places to find answers:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

National Institutes of Health

Posted in: Health

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