Day-to-Day Life

Did you know? October is National Physical Therapy month. As we age it’s important to remember to prioritize our health. One way to do that is by taking care of ourselves when we are in pain.

Are you wondering how you can accomplish that in order to maintain your health? There’s one answer: physical therapy.

According to Web MD, physical therapy is a non-drug, no-surgery treatment that works for arthritis, cancer pain, Parkinson’s and incontinence and improves your strength and endurance.

General aging can cause many seniors to be in a lot of pain whether they have arthritis, recently fell, have been in an accident, sick, or simply just tired. To help you understand what physical therapy can do for you or a loved one, we’ll walk through four physical therapy types according to seniorliving.org:

  1. Manual Therapy
    Manual therapy is done by the therapist with their hands. The goal is to reduce any pain and relax the patient. This process includes massaging muscles to improve circulation and reduce pain. It also includes slow movements to stretch arms or legs—twisting and pulling joints or bones and making sure they are put into place.
  2. Electrical Stimulation
    This type of physical therapy is when electrical currents are going through the body in hopes to contract the muscles that may not be working as they should. Electrical stimulation is used when someone is experiencing pain, spasms or muscular weakness.
  3. Heat Therapy
    Heat is used when the need is to relax muscles and increase blood circulation. Heat therapy is a great way to loosen stiff joints caused my immobility. Another use of this therapy is to loosen the muscles before further physical activity takes place.
  4. Cold Therapy
    Cold therapy is a great type of physical therapy for those with arthritis. Cold temperatures are used to reduce pain and inflammation. This type of therapy often follows the process, also known as RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapy can restore or increase strength, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, and endurance – as well as reduce pain. Another role is to help the patient to do everyday tasks. If you or a loved one feels they are in pain, physical therapy may be the solution.

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Each year in October, we raise awareness and highlight the importance of education and research of the most common cancer in American women besides skin cancer: breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the U.S. for 2018, about 266,120 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.

However, if breast cancer is detected early, there are more treatment options and a better chance of survival. Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 93 percent or higher survival rate in the first five years, according to the Carol Milgard Breast Center.

As reported by the American Cancer Society, at this time, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.!

Fortunately, there is one major factor in detecting breast cancer early and that is getting mammograms regularly.

It’s recommended that if you are 50 to 74 years old, you should be getting a mammogram every two years by the United States Preventative Services Task Force. If you are 40 to 49 years old, you should talk to your doctor about when to start getting mammograms.

Many organizations and people are dedicated to raising awareness to this cancer during the month of October and throughout the year. There are many ways you can get involved to help too.

3 Ways to Get involved:

1. Educate yourself and others
Get this free Breast Health Guide to educate yourself and your loved ones about breast cancer. There may be more than you thought to learn.

2. Raise awareness
Spread the word about the importance of detecting breast cancer early through mammograms to your friends and family.

3. Donate
Donating your time or money is a great way to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are many organizations you can donate to like, Breast Cancer Research Foundation or the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. If you want to donate your time, try starting your own fundraiser with your business or school.

This October, how will you get involved during Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

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Memoir 101: How to Write Your Life Story

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Night by Eli Wiesel. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.

These are all best-selling memoirs, authored by people who felt compelled to remember their past and write it all down. Just like these authors, we all have untold stories within us. Whether you want to leave a legacy, share a life lesson, make sense of a certain time in your life, or help others through your personal experiences, memoir writing is a wonderful gift—therapeutic for you and meaningful to your loved ones. No one wants friends or family to one day think: “I wish I would have asked them about that when I had the chance.”

So, why don’t more people take the time to capture their thoughts and feelings around major life events?

There are a few reasons, and they’re all misconceptions. You don’t have to be a professional writer to write a memoir, just write from the heart. You don’t have to be famous. And you don’t have to detail the entire storyline of your life—that’s an autobiography—and autobiographies can be a daunting idea, whether you’re 40 or 90.

According to Reader’s Digest, a memoir is your version of what happened during a specific time in your life; whereas an autobiography is the chronological telling of your experiences, with a timeline, focused on facts. A memoir is less formal, less encompassing, less obsessed with factual events, and more concerned with “an emotional truth toward a particular section of one’s life.” It’s mostly written from memory—not intended to be an accurate statistical report.

With memoir writing, facts and figures don’t tell the whole story. In order to make your experiences come to life, you also need to include feelings. According to author Bart Astor of Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, “No one else has had your experiences or reacted in the same way.” People connect with emotions, descriptions, dialogue, and personality. It’s YOUR story—no one can tell it the same as you. After you write it all down, your loved ones will want to read it!

But where do you begin?

  • Start by reading memoirs. Just reading about another person’s experiences will help you understand more about tone and theme. A list of the top 50 memoirs can be found here.
  • Think about the pivotal moments in your life. Which ones really mattered? (Remember, this isn’t your autobiography. You don’t have to write about the entirety of your life.)
  • To get the words flowing, look at a photo that evokes a strong reaction. What do you hear, smell, feel, see? Repeat this process with a few different photos.
  • Write the way you talk—in a conversational way. It’s more engaging and easier to read. (Don’t be too formal.) Be honest. It’s ok to show your flaws; everyone can relate to making mistakes.
  • Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or quality. Just get it all down. You can fix it later.
  • Believe in yourself!

If you feel like some of your memories are a little fuzzy, you can always include a disclaimer at the end saying: “These events are my memories. Others may remember events differently.”

If you still need inspiration, these questions might help get the creative juices flowing:

Where were you born? Was there anything unique about your birth?

What’s your earliest memory?

What toy do you most remember getting at Christmas?

Did you have any pets growing up?

What family vacation do you most remember from your youth?

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

What was your favorite subject?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Were you in any extracurricular activities?

Who were your childhood friends?

What did you do for fun when you were young?

Did you get an allowance? How much? How did you earn it?

What was your first car?

Who were your high school friends?

What did you learn about yourself in high school?

Are you more like your mom or your dad? How?

When was the first time you saw your parents cry?

Who was your first crush?

Who was your first kiss?

Who was your first love?

What’s your favorite city to visit?

What’s the farthest from home you’ve traveled?

What impact has religion had in your life?

Did you go to college? What did you study?

What was the greatest success in your career?

What did you do with your first “big” paycheck?

What was the biggest sacrifice you ever made?

What time(s) in history will you always remember?

Name a time you were on top of the world.

Name a time you were overcome with sadness.

As a youth, did you break any bones? Need stitches?

What was your first job?

What was your favorite job?

Who were your role models when you were young?

What have you done that you never thought you’d do?

What do you know about your family history/heritage?

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Why?

(If applicable): How did you meet your spouse? When did you know he/she was “the one?” What was your marriage proposal like?

Where was your wedding? How many guests attended? What did you serve? What do you remember about that day?

(If applicable): Tell me about the time(s) your kid(s) were born.

How would you describe your kids’ personalities? Grandkids?

What person most influenced you in life?

What makes you happy?

What’s your dream for future generations?

Now get to writing! Good luck! 

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The Best Exercises for Improving Balance + Stability

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an older adult falls every second of every day in the U.S.

Let that sink in.

An older adult falls every second of every day in the U.S.

That’s a lot of falls—some with serious consequences. Aging causes bones to become brittle, and broken bones don’t heal as easily.

We tend to lose balance with age for a number of reasons: could be due to a medical condition, side effects of dizziness or vertigo due to medications, impaired eyesight, or an overall decline in physical fitness.

The good news? Medical conditions aside, balance is a motor skill that can be maintained and even improved. It’s not going to happen, though, without a little effort. First and foremost, you have to get back on your feet. Don’t let poor balance result in a cycle of inactivity and muscle loss. Gain confidence—and muscle—through regularly doing simple balance and strengthening exercises. Even better, you can do the following exercises anytime, anywhere.

STANDING EXERCISES:

Flamingo stand (balance on one leg)

Start with an easy exercise. Stand on one leg, gripping a sturdy chair (no wheels) for balance—use both hands. Lift your right foot about an inch off the floor and balance on your left foot. Hold the move for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times, then alternate legs. The goal of this exercise is to get strong enough to eventually hold the pose—without using the chair for balance—for up to a minute.

Tightrope walk (walk in a straight line, heel to toe)  

By walking heel to toe, you’re strengthening your core and your leg muscles while simultaneously improving your posture. To do this one, mark a straight line with masking tape, then walk heel to toe, with your heels and toes almost touching. Focus on one spot directly in front of you. Stretch your arms wide as you walk (picture a tightrope walker). Repeat 20 times.

Leg raise with arm lifts

Improve physical coordination by standing next to a chair, feet together and arms at your sides. Lift your left hand over your head and slowly raise your left foot off the floor. Hold for 10 second and repeat with the other side.

Back leg raise

Using a chair for support, lift one leg at a time as far back as possible. Bend the leg you’re standing on, raise your other leg. Hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat 10-15 times. Bonus: this exercise helps to strengthen your lower back.

Side leg raise

The side leg exercise will help strengthen the upper legs and hips. Hold onto a chair, keep your back straight, toes facing forward, and hold the position. Repeat 10-15 times. Breathe slow and steady.

March in place

This one is as easy as it sounds—standing straight, lift your right knee high, lower, then lift the left leg, or march in place. Marching is as fun as you remember. Repeat 20 times.

SITTING CHAIR EXERCISES  

Arm circles

Sit in a chair and lift both arms above your head. Use a light weight (or a can of vegetables works, too) and rotate your arms like you’re making a large circle in the air.

Side twists

Sitting in a chair, hold a ball at arms-length, keep it up to shoulder height. Twist slowly to the left, then to the right. Repeat.

Hand squeezes

Strengthen your arms by bending your elbows, then bring your hands together, and push with both hands (right hand pushing into left and vice versa).

Other ways to lower your chances of falling   

Many falls can be prevented. The Centers for Disease Control recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Have an open dialogue with your general practitioner—tell him or her if you have fallen recently, worry about falling, or feel unsteady. Mention all of it. Don’t be too embarrassed to mention a recent fall. Some medications can make you feel dizzy or drowsy, leading to falls. Let your doctor know about every medication you take—even over-the-counter ones that might not seem worth mentioning.
  • Schedule an annual eye exam. Limited vision can impair your mobility.
  • Eat foods high in Vitamin D and rich in calcium.
  • Remove any “tripping hazards” from your living space. Put shoes away instead of leaving them near the door, secure loose rugs, make sure cords aren’t in the way, and put a nightlight in the bathroom. (As we get older, it takes awhile for our eyes to adjust to dark and light.)
  • Get out of bed slowly. Sit on the edge of the bed, take a few deep breaths, and get your bearings before attempting to walk.
  • Try tai chi or yoga. These gentle activities can significantly improve your balance and flexibility.

Getting some exercise every day—even a moderate amount—is really the best way to stay steady on your feet and reduce the risk of falling.

If you haven’t been active recently, consult your doctor before doing these exercises.

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Innovative Hearing Solution to Be Offered to ABHM Seniors

When seniors have trouble hearing, they miss out on life. This can lead to feelings of frustration, embarrassment, or anger. Sure, conventional hearing aids are one solution: but they can be expensive, they can easily get lost, and they can be difficult to use when dexterity becomes an issue.

Now, thanks to the new wireless headphone technology of Eversound—designed specifically for older adults—seniors are able to hear clearly during conversations, movies, presentations, and other group activities.

Eversound was tested in the American Baptist Homes of the Midwest community of Maple Crest Health Center, located in the Benson neighborhood of Omaha, with promising results. Seniors described an enhanced listening experience, significantly improving participation, engagement, well-being, and overall quality of life.

The test went so well, ABHM partnered with Eversound to bring this exciting technology to all seven of their communities.

With a mission of creating healthy Christian communities that empower people, Eversound was a natural fit. According to David Zwickey, CEO/President of ABHM, “Eversound enables our hearing-impaired residents to hear with a level of clarity they haven’t experienced in years.”

The audio products are easy to use, too, and cost “less than the cost of one premium hearing aid,” explains Jake Reisch, CEO and co-founder of Eversound.

The partnership is an opportunity to bring awareness to Eversound while giving the gift of hearing to residents.

According to Matt Reiners, VP of Customer Impact and co-founder of Eversound, “The effects are immediate, and as a result—the morale of both the residents and staff is significantly improved. Hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process, but when it’s left unaddressed, it has been linked to mental decline, social isolation, and depression. With the 65+ population nearly doubling by 2050, we look forward to developing our partnership with ABHM to address such a critical need.”

 ABOUT MAPLE CREST HEALTH CENTER
Maple Crest is a health care provider offering long term care, short term rehabilitation and memory care. They have been serving the seniors of Benson and the surrounding communities for more than 65 years. maplecrest.net 

 

ABOUT EVERSOUND

Eversound is improving quality of life for seniors by helping audience members hear clearly during movies, presentations and all group events. The company is expanding with installations in several of the largest senior living chains in the country with its easy to use wireless headphone group listening system product specifically designed for the ergonomic, auditory and aesthetic needs of older adult users. For more information, visit everoundhq.com

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Health Benefits of Following a Mediterranean Diet

You’ve likely heard it before: it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

When it’s the Mediterranean diet, it’s a lifestyle that can help improve your heart health, fight cancer, prevent diabetes, protect your cognitive health, boost your mood, and keep your weight under control.

The Mediterranean diet was introduced in the 1950s, following an extensive study of what people ate and how they lived in seven countries, Finland, Holland, Italy, the U.S., Greece, Japan, and Yugoslavia. In the countries that followed a Mediterranean diet, studies showed a very low rate of cholesterol. According to Harvard Medical School, “It showed that regions with a low consumption of saturated fat, such as the Mediterranean countries, had a much lower incidence of coronary artery disease than regions with a high consumption of saturated fat, such as the Scandinavian countries.”

What is the Mediterranean diet?     

There are no preservatives in a Mediterranean diet. It consists of fresh fruits and veggies, olive oil, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, yogurt, cheese, the occasional glass of red wine, along with plenty of water. Fish and poultry is consumed “moderately.” There is low consumption of eggs and red meat. The focus is on foods and ingredients close to nature, rich in monounsaturated fats, high in fiber, and high in fresh plant foods. Unlike the average American diet, there’s very limited processed foods and sugar.

Can it save your life?

While the main long-term health benefit is protection against heart disease—the alpha-linolenic acid found in fresh olive oil can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest by a whopping 45 percent—studies have shown “eating Mediterranean” can be beneficial in many other ways.

According to the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, “The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favorable effect of a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fiber, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine.”

And there have been studies showing that following a Mediterranean diet might be a natural Parkinson’s disease treatment and a way to preserve your memory and protect cognitive impairment. In one four-year study, participants assigned to the Mediterranean diet maintained stable levels of cognition, whereas the ones advised to follow a low-fat diet experienced a small amount of decline. (Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, plus plenty of anti-inflammatory veggies and fruits, are known to fight age-related cognitive decline.)

Mediterranean diet tips:

  • Eat fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, avocados, and whole grains
  • Eat at least a handful of nuts each day
  • Try to eat more beans, chickpeas, and peas (a source of protein and fiber)
  • Eat sweet potatoes
  • Drink smoothies instead of soda
  • Enjoy red wine in moderation
  • Eat a moderate amount of plain and Greek yogurt, organic milk, and natural cheese
  • Use olive oil abundantly for cooking and seasoning
  • Focus on high-quality ingredients and high-quality fat
  • Be mindful of portions
  • Dramatically limit or avoid pastries, potato chips, baked goods, processed meats, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates
  • Aim for one serving or less of cured ham, red meat, and fatty cheeses per week
  • Sit down and enjoy your meal! (Even better when enjoyed with friends and family.)

Experiment eating the Mediterranean way with the following Mayo Clinic recipes. 

 

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