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Archive for Aging

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Monday , May 24 , 2021

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

On the last Wednesday of May each year, thousands of older adults put on their sneakers and celebrate National Senior Health & Fitness Day. At ComForCare, we encourage all adults aged 65+ to make exercise a part of their daily routine!

Seniors benefit in many ways from exercise, including stress reduction and stronger muscles and joints. Even better? “Exercise” doesn’t have to be a 60-minute aerobics class or a 5-mile run. There are countless types of physical activity, and most can be modified to fit physical limitations.

Keep reading for more information on the advantages of exercise for seniors and a few fun ways you can get moving.

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

As an older adult, exercise can help you in many ways. Countless studies show that it improves both physical and mental health, which helps us maintain independence as we age. Below are six of the best benefits for aging adults:

Prevent Disease

Exercise improves overall immune function, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are sometimes compromised. Even light physical activity, such as walking, can improve digestive function, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, and maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging. Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and build muscle mass, helping your body to burn more calories.

Decreased Risk of Falls

Exercise improves your strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility, which in turn can reduce your risk of falls. Strength training can also help alleviate symptoms of conditions such as arthritis and chronic joint pain.

Improved Cognitive Function

Studies show that regular physical activity can lower the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss, no matter when you begin a routine. In addition, exercise can also help slow the progressions of brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Better Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for your overall health, especially as you get older. Regular activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake feeling more refreshed.

Improved Mental Health

Regular exercise can boost endorphins and reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. Physical activity can also provide an increase in confidence, leading to better self-esteem and more social interaction.

Easy Exercises for Seniors

Want to get started, but not sure what to try? Whether you’re a total beginner or an exercise pro, these activities can help boost your physical and mental health:

Walking. Walking is the perfect way to get started with an exercise routine. It requires no special equipment, can be done anywhere at any time, and you can move at your own pace.

Water aerobics. Many gyms and fitness centers offer senior-focused water aerobics classes. Working out in the water reduces stress on the body’s joints while still providing strength and cardio fitness.

Tai chi. This martial arts-inspired system can increase balance, stability, and flexibility in older adults. Practiced regularly, it can also help reduce pain in those suffering from conditions such as Fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.

Yoga. Yoga combines a series of poses with breathing and can be adapted to suit many different fitness levels. It is known to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

Senior fitness classes. Many senior living communities and gyms/fitness centers offer classes tailored to meet the needs of older adults. Exercising with others can not only help improve fitness but can be fun and provide a new way to socialize.

Getting Started

Getting active is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health as you age but proceed with caution (especially if you’re a newbie). Get medical clearance from your doctor, consider any health concerns, and listen to your body. Now get out there and have fun!

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Stroke Awareness Tips for Older Adults

Monday , May 17 , 2021

Stroke Awareness Tips for Older Adults

Someone in the United States has a stroke every forty seconds. Two-thirds of those strokes occur in people over 65.

According to the Stroke Association, one in eight strokes is fatal within the first 30 days, and that number jumps up to one in four in the first year. They’re also the leading cause of disability in older adults – strokes reduce mobility in more than half of survivors 65 and over.

Fortunately, if you recognize the signs and get help quickly, you’re much less likely to experience long-term complications. Keep reading to learn more about risk factors, ways to reduce your stroke risk, and what to do if you see any signs.

What is a Stroke?

The Mayo Clinic says that a stroke “occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.”

There are two main kinds of stroke:

  • Ischemic: This is the most common kind. It’s caused by a blood clot or narrowing of a blood vessel leading to the brain. They are often the result of a blood clot within the brain or neck or the movement of a clot from another part of the body.
  • Hemorrhagic: The second major kind of stroke occurs when a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. The bleeding can block oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain.

When someone experiences a stroke, the brain cells that don’t get enough oxygen will suffer and eventually die. Treatment may repair damaged cells, but those that have been killed can never be brought back. That’s why people who had a stroke may have trouble thinking, speaking, or walking.

Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can help you identify one and get the necessary help quickly. According to the American Stroke Association, these signs can help determine if you or a loved one need to seek medical care:

F.A.S.T.

Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Is your smile uneven?

Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb, or does it drift downward?

Speech difficulty – Is your speech slurred? Do you find it difficult or impossible to speak?

Time to call for help – If you or someone else suffers from these symptoms, call 911 right away. Check the time, so you know when the symptoms first began.

Acting quickly can mean the difference between life and disability or death.

Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Some risk factors for stroke, like age and family history, can’t be avoided. But simple changes to your lifestyle can prevent many others. To help mitigate your risk, follow these suggestions:

  • Stop smoking. No matter how old you are, quitting smoking makes a huge difference. It’s never too late! Control your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, follow your doctor’s recommendations to control it. Treating high blood pressure helps prevent both heart disease and stroke.
  • Monitor your cholesterol. Cholesterol can build up in arteries, blocking blood flow and leading to stroke. If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower it.
  • Manage your diabetes. Untreated diabetes can damage blood vessels, narrow arteries and lead to stroke. Follow your doctor’s directions to keep your condition under control.
  • Exercise regularly and eat well. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including plenty of physical activity.

Treating Stroke

If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will diagnose based on symptoms, medical history, and tests such as a CT scan.

Treatment after a stroke may include therapy, rehabilitation, medication, or surgery. Antithrombotics are commonly used to prevent or treat stroke and help dissolve the blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. Surgeries, including angioplasty and stenting, can repair damage to blood vessels or malformations in the brain.

Some people make a full recovery soon after a stroke, but others can take months or even years. Sometimes, the damage is so severe that rehabilitation and therapy can’t really help.

Remember: the best treatment is prevention! Talk to your doctor today to find out how you can lower your risk of stroke.

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Driving Safety for Older Adults   

Monday , April 19 , 2021

Driving Safety for Older Adults  

Driving a car represents freedom and independence to many older adults. Yet as we age, many of us begin to experience unavoidable physical and mental changes that can affect our ability to safely drive.

It’s vital to be aware of how these changes to your health may impact your driving skills so you don’t risk hurting yourself or others. Keep reading to learn about conditions that may impact your driving and how to deal with them safely:

Trouble Seeing

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, roughly 12% of Americans aged 65 – 74 suffer from severe eye problems as compared to 5% of adults aged 18 – 44. Many experience vision problems so serious, they impact the ability to complete simple daily tasks. This problem is only expected to grow as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your eye doctor every year.
  • If you need glasses or contacts to see far away, always wear them when driving.
  • Avoid driving in the dark, during sunrise and sunset, or during bad weather.

Trouble Hearing 

As we get older, hearing can change. In fact, nearly one in three people between 65 and 74 experience hearing loss. This can impact our ability to hear horns, sirens, or even sounds coming from our own car.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Have your hearing checked at least every 3 years after age 50.
  • If you have hearing concerns, speak to your doctor.
  • Try to limit sound, such as music or podcasts, inside your car.

Slow Reaction Time and Reflexes 

As we age, loss of brain connections slows reaction time and reflexes. This can make it harder to handle more than one task at a time, more difficult to steer or use foot pedals, and tricky to respond quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Start braking early when you need to stop.
  • Avoid rush hour and heavy traffic areas when possible.
  • Stay in the right hand lane when on the highway.

Stiff Joints and Muscles 

As we get older, joints get stiff, and muscles weaken. Problems such as arthritis and spinal stenosis can make it more difficult to turn your head, turn the steering wheel, or brake quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your doctor if pain or stiffness seem to impact your driving.
  • Be physically active to keep and improve muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Consider hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals.

Memory Loss 

Memory loss is a concern for many people as they grow older. In fact, about 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-related memory impairment. Often, people with memory loss don’t even realize they are having driving problems, so it’s up to family and friends to act. If decision-making skills are impacted, the individual must stop driving. 

More Safe Driving Tips 

  • Take a defensive driving course. Organizations like AARPAmerican Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your health problems or medications might make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • Don’t drive when you are stressed or tired.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers wear their seatbelts, too.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving.
  • Avoid distractions, such as eating or chatting.

What if I Have to Stop Driving?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to get around if you can no longer drive? There are more ways to travel than you think! Many areas provide free or low-cost transportation options for senior citizens, religious and civic groups often have volunteers that will drive you, and most senior living communities offer shuttles to supermarkets, doctors, and more.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for help finding services near you: 1-800-677-1116 or

https://eldercare.acl.gov

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