Just because you are retired, doesn’t mean that your passion for learning new things is too.

There are many ways to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Whether that’s going back to school or simply for the joy of learning like, exploring throughout your city, you can find many ways to continue to learn throughout your life.

Did you start a degree but then put it aside for your family or to serve in the military? If so, why not go back and finish what you started? So many people have gone on to finish degrees or start another field of study so, you can too! It might even inspire your family and show them you have a never-quit mentality.

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL

When thinking about getting a degree, remember there will be certain requirements to get into school. But generally, all you need to do is apply and enroll in post-secondary classes. As a senior you won’t need to worry about SAT scores or entrance essays. Here are a few of the general requirements:

  • Age requirements: this is often 60 years or older.
  • Residency requirements: you must be a citizen of the United States.
  • Income restrictions: you may need to meet income restrictions in order to access scholarships, tuition waivers or other senior discounts.
  • Proof of retirement
  • Completion of high school diploma
FOR THE JOY OF LEARNING

Learning for fun can be just as rewarding as working toward a degree. It’s a sad day when we don’t learn something new so, why not take advantage of what your community has to offer. Here are a few ways you can learn new things every day:

  • Be a tourist: explore your own city on your own or sign up for a walking, bus or museum tour to learn about the local history.
  • Exchange stories: when you explore you tend to meet new people. Share your stories with some of the people you meet and they’ll share some too!
  • Take a cooking class: sign up for a class to cook something you’ve never cooked from scratch before.
  • Take a writing class: capture your family’s history in this class and gift it during the holiday season!
  • Volunteer: sign up to be a tutor at your local elementary or high schools.
RESOURCES

A Senior Citizen Guide for College
www.aseniorcitizenguideforcollege.com

MONEY Magazine
Forget Tuition: How Retirees Can Attend College for Free

The Penny Hoarder
Free College Courses for Senior Citizens

The Bernard Osher Foundation
www.osherfoundation.org
(415) 861-5587

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Nutrition and sleep and exercise all factor into a healthy lifestyle, but did you know relationships are equally important when it comes to aging well?

It makes sense, from a purely mental perspective, that you’re probably more happy when you’re  pending time with friends or family than you are sitting home alone, watching TV. What’s interesting, though, is that feelings of loneliness don’t only affect your state of mind, but also your physical health. Studies have found that chronic loneliness—over time—can be associated with high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, a diminished immune response, depression, difficulty sleeping, cognitive decline, and dementia. No matter our age, we never outgrow our need for friends. (Our health depends on it.)

 

BENEFITS OF SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES  

 

Promote physical activity

When people feel isolated, they tend to have fewer reasons to get out and be active.

Provide a sense of purpose  

When seniors feel that they’re making positive contributions in society, they have a greater sense of purpose in life. According to Bryan James, a Chicago-area epidemiologist, seniors with a sense of purpose are less likely to become depressed or become diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Introduce more fun into your life

Participating in activities is just more fun when you have someone to share the experience with. (Plus friends are more likely to inspire you to try something new.)

Improve your mental health

We aren’t meant to be disengaged with others. Studies show that seniors who have strong social connections are 70 percent less likely to experience cognitive decline than those who are isolated. (“Use it or lose it” applies to both the body AND the mind.)

Encourage health checkups

When a friend encourages an adult to get a health screening, they’re up to 22 percent more likely to actually follow through on it. This results in serious health issues detected earlier, and treated with higher rates of success.

Give you a sense of belonging

Loneliness is not the same as being alone. At American Baptist Homes of the Midwest communities, if you want to relax in your room, that’s fine. If you want to chat over a cup of coffee or join an activity, neighbors are right next door. You can be alone when you choose, but you won’t ever be lonely. Living here is all about convenience, safety, a genuine sense of community, and making authentic, meaningful connections. Our communities were designed to maximize friendship, health, and happiness. If you’d like to set up a tour, call us at 952-941-3175.

 

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If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times—water is essential to our health and wellbeing. Have a headache? Feeling fuzzy-brained? Constipated? Fatigued? It nearly always comes back to this: Did you drink enough water?

Up to 60 percent of the adult human body is water. This miracle fluid aids in nearly EVERY bodily function: It helps rid our bodies of toxins, reduces excess sodium, brings nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to our cells, lubricates our joints, and keeps organs functioning at optimum levels.

The general rule of thumb is that adults should drink at least 64 ounces of fluids every day. That, though, is easier said than done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day. Only 36 percent drink one to three cups, and 7 percent don’t drink any at all. Why is this? One of the main reasons is that as we get older, we can lose our sense of thirst and simply forget to drink enough.

Dehydration—caused by loss of salt and water in the body due to extreme heat, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and certain medications— can be problematic for any adult, but especially concerning for seniors who have a lower volume of water in their bodies. When you’re severely dehydrated, there’s not enough water to carry blood to the organs. Dehydration can lead to heat cramps, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, seizures, and hypovolemic shock—a sometimes life-threatening complication. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization for those 65 and over.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration may include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Cramping
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness or irritability
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Fever or chills
  • Dark yellow or orange urine

Another way to determine whether your body is dehydrated is the skin test: Use two fingers to pinch skin on the back of your hand and let go. The skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a few seconds. If the skin returns more slowly, you might be dehydrated.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you or a loved one has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more, is irritable, disoriented, or more sleepy than usual, can’t keep fluids down, or has bloody or black stools, call your family doctor. 

PREVENT DEHYDRATION

Keep water accessible at all times—taking many little sips throughout the day can add up. Jazz up water by adding fruit, drink unsweetened tea, and eat foods that are high in water content, like cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, and apples, oranges, and watermelon. Avoid sodium and caffeine.

One UCLA research study showed that seniors who stay hydrated may experience fewer falls, so DRINK UP!

 

RESOURCES

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  
1-800-860-8747
1-866-569-1162
healthinfo@niddk.nih.gov
www.niddk.nih.gov

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
1-301-592-8573
nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov
www.nhlbi.nih.gov

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs
1-202-682-6899
www.nanasp.org

President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
1-240-276-9567
fitness@hhs.gov
www.fitness.gov

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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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