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Posts Tagged Aging

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

Posted in: Aging

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The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

Monday , April 12 , 2021

The Surprising Ways Gardening Can Benefit Seniors

This Wednesday, April 14, is National Gardening Day. Whether you grow vegetables, flowers, houseplants, or anything in between, gardening is a fun and healthy hobby!

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

Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of gardening and how to best grow your own:

How Does Gardening Benefit Seniors?

Home gardening has been on the rise since the onset of COVID-19. Why? Because not only is it a great socially-distanced activity, but it helps promote emotional wellness. 

  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.

Need help getting started? In response to the influx of home gardeners during COVID-19, the Rodale Institute is offering a free Victory Garden Starter Kit complete with an Organic Gardening 101 webinar!

Check it out – and don’t forget to share photos of your home garden on our social media pages!

Have fun and happy gardening!

Posted in: Health

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National Napping Day: The Perfect Way to Recover from Daylight Savings Fatigue

Tuesday , March 9 , 2021

National Napping Day: The Perfect Way to Recover from Daylight Savings Fatigue

This weekend, people across the country will “spring ahead” and set their clocks forward an hour in observance of daylight savings. What’s that mean? As DST starts, the sun will rise and set later than it did the day before. While the change, in theory, helps us make better use of daylight, it also leaves many people feeling drowsy.

Luckily, the following day has officially been designated “National Napping Day,” and it’s the perfect time to catch some much-needed Zs.

Types of Naps

You may have thought that a nap is simply a quick afternoon sleep session, but as it turns out, naps can be categorized depending on the function they serve. According to the Sleep Foundation, there are five main types:

  •  Recovery Nap: Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling tired the following day. If you are up late or have interrupted sleep one night, you might take a recovery nap the next day to compensate for sleep loss.
  • Prophylactic Nap: This type of nap is taken in preparation for sleep loss. For example, night shift workers may schedule naps before and during their shifts in order to prevent sleepiness and to stay alert while working.
  • Appetitive Nap: Appetitive naps are taken for the enjoyment of napping. Napping can be relaxing and can improve your mood and energy level upon waking.
  • Fulfillment Nap: Children have a greater need for sleep than adults. Fulfillment naps are often scheduled into the days of infants and toddlers and can occur spontaneously in children of all ages.
  • Essential Nap: When you are sick, you have a greater need for sleep. This is because your immune system mounts a response to fight infection or promote healing, and that requires extra energy. Naps taken during illness are considered essential.

How to Take the Best Nap 

If you want to get the most out of your nap, there are some Do’s and Don’ts. Napping at the wrong time of day or for too long can leave you unable to sleep later at night. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you sleep, the more likely you are to feel groggy after you wake up.
  • Nap in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 pm can interfere with sleep later at night.
  • Create a restful environment. A dark, quiet room at a comfortable temperature is best. Blackout curtains can help eliminate unwanted light, while a white noise machine can drown out any household commotion.

Benefits of Napping

There’s no need to feel lazy for indulging in daytime sleep. As it turns out, a nap can have dozens of health benefits including improved memory, better job performance, and increased alertness. Here are a few more:

  • It may lift your mood. Experts say that napping, or simply laying down for an hour, can help improve your outlook on life, whether or not you actually fall asleep.
  • It can ease stress. Just 30 minutes of sleep can help decrease anxiety and improve your immune health.
  • Sleep is good for your heart. One study found that people who napped for 45 to 60 minutes had lower blood pressure after going through mental stress.
  • Naps can help you sleep better at night. Although it seems counterintuitive, sleeping during the day, combined with light to moderate exercise, can improve nighttime rest.

Posted in: Health

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