Benefits of Walking

YES, WALKING

  • reduces blood pressure
  • lowers "bad LDL" cholesterol
  • tunes up muscles
  • strengthens bones
  • aids weight loss

It is easy, inexpensive, and has few side effects. Taking three brisk walks a week is one of the best things for your body. It is also a very safe way to exercise. Make walking a part of your lifestyle.

  • Build a walk into your trip to work; park away from the office.
  • Walk to the shops or any other short trip.
  • Take the family and pets out for long steady walks.

Getting Started
Check to be sure that you are physically ready by consulting your doctor. Warm-up and stretch the lower body, especially the calves. Prepare your route, what you plan to wear (depending on expected weather), and learn how to deal with any emergencies that may come up (carry your cell phone). When beginning your walking program, concentrate on safe routes in busy areas that you know, just in case you feel ill, or simply too tired to continue, and to avoid getting lost. Public parks, shopping areas, and zoos are all ideal beginners' routes. Begin with short slow walks and pick up speed and duration on subsequent trips. To get the most fitness improvements from walking, you need to make it a regular activity and increase your efforts slowly at your own pace.

Staying Motivated
Choose different routes to walk, taking in the scenery, and if possible, photographing where you have been. Try to walk with a partner; it makes the time go faster, and the peer relationship will be a motivator on days when your will power is low. Of course, in some areas, there are walking groups. If you can't find one, start one (try putting up a poster at your local supermarket, for instance). Monitor your increase in fitness, and how you feel both during your walk and for the balance of your day. Use the walk time to reflect on your life, feel positive about yourself, and purge any negative feelings.

Climate Change and Seniors

Climate change can potentially disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations, including seniors. This group may be one of the most affected because of; decreased mobility, physiological changes, and access to resources. These parameters tend to limit adaptability. The challenges seniors will face adapting to climate change could have significant implications for the individual’s health and the population as a whole. Learn more about climate change and seniors.

Wheelchair Options and Accessories

PWheelchair options and accessories make a wheelchair more suitable for a person’s specific illness, injury, or condition.

Medicare covers options and accessories for wheelchairs when a patient has a wheelchair that meets Medicare coverage guidelines, and the options or accessories are necessary for the patient to perform normal daily activities.

For an option or accessory on a manual wheelchair to be covered, a written, signed, and dated order must be received by the supplier before a claim is submitted to the DMERC. If the supplier bills for an item without first receiving the completed order, the item will be denied as not medically necessary. Also, supporting documentation for the medical need of this item must be on file.

Healthy Aging

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services does an amazing job of research and information sharing. Take a look at what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has assembled for us in their Alzheimer's Disease and Healthy Aging section: Health Information for Older Adults. They provide a video on Promoting Well-being in Older Adults as well as a guide on Travelers' Health for Senior Citizens. Thank you CDC and keep up the good work!

Tips to Lower Cholesterol

FOODS THAT CAN HELP TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL
From an EATINGWELL magazine article February/March 2006
Foods that contain plant sterols (phytosterols) and stanols (phytostanols) have proven effective in lowering LDL, the lethal or bad cholesterol. But it is not practical to consume enough of those foods to make a significant difference i.e. lower your LDL cholesterol 10 to 14%. Can you imagine eating "10 heads of cauliflower twice a day or 44 apples in the morning and 5 cups of almonds in the evening"? That would provide your body the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute recommended amount of sterols and stanols, but it is impractical to even contemplate.To achieve a 10 to 14% reduction in LDL cholesterol, Robert Nicolosi, Pd.D, director of the Center for Health and Disease Research at the University of Massachusetts, says an average American diet contains 100 to 300 mg of plant sterols or stanols daily. To help reach the LDL-lowering amount of 1000-2000 mg daily foods that are artificially supplemented with sterols and stanols are the wiser way to go. The most commonly known foods enriched with plant sterols and stanols are margarine-like spreads (Benecol and Take Control), snack bars, and salad dressings.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began permitting food labels to claim their ability to lower LDL cholesterol, encouraging more manufacturers to try to qualify for this labeling. Sterols and stanols work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol, thereby lowering the amount entering the bloodstream following eating. Combine these foods with other dietary changes such as a reduction in saturated fats, the addition of soy and more fiber, and the improvement can be compounded. Benecol and Take Control are two products with the longest shelf history but keep checking labels when you shop. There is a demand for more foods and supplements that help people get healthier without prescription drugs. To have FDA permission to say it can lower cholesterol, a food product must not only have at least 400 mg. phytosterols per serving, but also qualify as a low-cholesterol, low-saturated-fat food, and have at least 10 percent of one or more key nutrients.

Quit Smoking Study

The University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis VA Medical Center research shows that smokers who receive support over the telephone when trying to quit are more successful in kicking the habit than those who receive help as part of routine medical care.

The research is published in the March 13, 2006, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Lawrence C. An, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and colleagues studied "daily smokers who received care at five Veterans Affairs medical centers in the upper Midwest and were committed to quitting within one month."

The findings suggest that health-care providers should consider adding telephone care to their smoking cessation programs," An said. "With the telephone support, we are able to bring the service to the smokers instead of making them come to us to get help."

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

Illness and disease can come from many types of contaminants in drinking water. Water may come from a lake, a river, an underground aquifer, a public water utility, even bottled water. All of these sources may be contaminated by impurities. These contaminants may include chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals such as copper and lead, human and animal waste, and even disinfectant-products introduced during water treatment.

  • Inorganic Contaminants
  • Lead & Copper
  • Organic Contaminants
  • Disinfectants
  • Microbiological Contaminants

Your health may be impacted by these impurities. To help you make a quick assessment of the water quality in your area, Water Quality Plus presents the status of the following contaminants in an easy to understand format.

US Deaths by Age and Disease

Below is the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) data for the United States from 2013. More on this topic here.

UPDATED DATA at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: check it out here.

Causes of Death by Age in the U.S.
source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). GBD Cause Patterns. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2013.

Pets - a Key Aging Asset

Why You Should Consider a Pet

Animals do affect human emotions and physiology. Many studies have been done on the complex relationship between people and animals. We all have observed how our system tends to relax after petting a soft small animal. The studies put this into perspective and show that owning and tending animals has significant health benefits. This is especially true for the elderly. They tend to live longer, healthier, and more enjoyably.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that independently living seniors with pets tend to have better physical health and mental wellbeing than those that don't. These seniors were found to be healthier, more active, and cope better with stress.

Other studies have shown that elderly pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure overall those without pets. Lower mortality rates have been observed in a nursing home with over 100 small animals.

Adopt a Senior Mutt

ADOPT A SENIOR MUTT TODAY!-It can improve your spirits and general well being.

Five reasons why one might consider adopting an older (Senior) dog, rather than a puppy:

  • 1. LOYALTY, LOYALTY, LOYALTY! The chances are good that by adopting a senior dog, you have rescued a wonderful, loving canine from an untimely, unfortunate, and unwarranted death. A senior dog can sense that he or she was saved and will be eternally loyal to his or her new "forever" family.
  • 2. BETTER HEALTH Numerous studies have shown the health benefits a calm, loving dog can have on a senior citizen. Senior dogs need daily/weekly walks, which can help the overall health of the adopter and adoptee!
  • 3. COMPANIONSHIP Senior dogs have often had difficult lives shuffled from home to home. They have so much love to give and will bond quickly with the adopter that gives them their "forever" home. Senior dogs are also very mellow and often happiest resting at your feet or putting a loving head in your lap. It is hard to feel lonely with a loving dog near you.
  • 4. NO TERRIBLE TWOS OR UNRULY TEENS Senior dogs are over the puppy-chewing and destructive stages. They are usually house trained, and many already know basic commands. Although some senior dogs may require more frequent veterinary visits, their love and devotion far outweigh the effort.
  • 5. NO SURPRISES Senior dogs are full grown and their personalities are completely developed. When you meet with your senior dog you will instantly know what kind of wonderful, loving dog he or she will be.

So why not give it a go! Here's a great way to find adoptable pets near you, or contact your local animal shelter.

Senior Dogs Living with Seniors

Many studies have shown that a pet around the house or even a visiting pet can enhance the lives of older Americans. There is just something about caring for an appreciative, loving companion that brings joy into the lives of people. Pets rely upon us and give back endlessly in thanks through unconditional love. Additionally, you may be saving the life of an animal who might otherwise be "put down" or spend the rest of its life in a cage in a kennel.

The problem is a pet can be not only a responsibility but a rather bouncy one, too! Puppies and kittens are cute, but may not be the best pairing for the senior citizen who is enjoying life at a subdued pace. Sure, you're active and get out of the home. You walk, go to outside activities, spend time with friends but chasing a puppy around probably wasn't on your retirement checklist of things to do.

Go Older!
The answer? How about adopting an older pet? They're like you seen it all, ready for a walk but maybe not a run headlong into the sunset. The older pet often isn't interested in new tricks. They can learn new things, of course, but mostly they're just taking it easy. We all need a little motivation in life, and you and your pet will provide that for each other. Like older humans, they are changing their lifestyle; someone they've previously loved is missing, and they feel the onset of Mother Nature's ways in their old age. Older dogs can be a godsend to a senior citizen who would like a devoted companion to spend time with, walk with, care for, and be unconditionally loved in return.

Do Your Homework First
Naturally, there are many factors involved that should be looked at and worked out first. For instance, a particular pet might not be the best for some living situations; certain breeds are better for those afflicted with allergies. What about teaching the care and feeding of an animal to a person who longs for companionship but has never cared for a pet before? And finally, what about the policies of the building in which the senior citizen is living? These are all factors to be investigated, especially if the pet is a gift. Be sure you do not surprise your loved one with the gift of the pet itself. A card and stuffed animal might be a way to introduce the concept of a living companion as a gift.

Choosing Your Companion
There are many places from which an older pet can be adopted. Many of them will have already given the dog a clean bill of health before allowing them to be adopted, but you need to ask. When you find an animal that seems right to you, take your new pet to the vet for a check-up. The veterinarian will check the animal's eyes, teeth, ears, and general health. After all, just as a human, the older pet may have declining eyesight, too! This is a factor in the care and feeding of your pet. You'll want to keep things in regular spots so she knows where her bed is, where her favorite toy is, and where the food and water are. It's comforting for an animal to have a regular routine and lifestyle, just as it is for humans. The veterinarian will offer advice to you on the care and feeding of your new best friend, but be sure and follow up with the reading he or she recommends.

Caring for Your Pet
Regular grooming is important and enjoyable for both of you. You'll enjoy spending those few minutes each day brushing your pal's coat, and he'll enjoy it too! You'll have less hair floating around, and any skin problems that may arise are found quickly this way. The vet will have treatments for them should something come up, and finding "the dry spot" quickly will keep Fido from rubbing and scratching it into a larger problem. Daily walks are important for both of you! Mr. Fido-the-Dog gets his constitutional, you get fresh air and exercise, and there is a certain comfort in knowing he isn't at risk of soiling the carpet when you get home. Your vet will recommend the proper food for your breed's size, weight, age, and activity level. Once an animal gets used to a certain food, stick with it.

Social Opportunities
Pets offer other social opportunities for seniors as well. You'll meet other people with their animals when you're out walking with yours. You might take a weekly trip to the "dog park." Many cities set up special fenced-in areas where dogs are allowed to run off-leash, and owners can catch up on events while their furry friends are at play. Ever notice the jar of doggy treats at the local coffee house? Those are there for your new friend! When you go for your morning coffee you can take your pet with for a morning walk. With a little planning, saving the life of an older pet can be extremely rewarding and life enhancing for a senior citizen with love and caring to offer to a new best friend!

Prescriptions Online

The internet can be a daunting place for even the most experienced web surfer. And when it comes to buying things on the internet, it gets a whole lot more complicated. It's a world where seemingly every product under the sun is available for purchase. Because of ease of use and with prices often much lower than at brick and mortar stores, internet purchases have risen sharply since the start of the millennium.

However, with this increase in online sales comes an increase in online fraud. We've all seen the horror stories on the evening news of individuals ripped off by one internet scam after another. It makes you wonder why anyone would order from the internet at all. And why people would trust their medication to an online pharmacy seems even more startling.

The reason that people still order on the internet is that by taking a few practical steps, you can almost entirely avoid internet fraud - and in the process, save yourself a bundle. In this article, I am speaking specifically about internet pharmacies, but many of the ideas I am going to share are applicable to other forms of e-commerce.

First off, take a look at the site. If the site looks like it was thrown together in a couple of minutes, it probably isn't trustworthy. The sites that I would buy from are fairly complex with a lot of different options and text to peruse. Unfortunately, to the beginner, this may not be a viable option, as it takes a little bit of time before you can distinguish a genuine e-commerce site from a less-reliable one.

Secondly, make sure there is someone really there. You would be surprised by the number of people who make purchases online without actually doing this. It is a simple thing to do, too. Simply look for a contact phone number or email address to establish that there is someone really there.

Thirdly, do a little research for yourself. Check to see if there is FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. Check out the return policy, if indeed there is one. (For example, some sites offer a 100% money-back guarantee on all of our medications). Also, type the name of the site into Google and see if there are any sites listed that speak negatively of the company.

Fourth and finally, make sure the site is secure. This is another great way to protect yourself against fraud. The best way to do this is to check on the site to find a little image that says something like "The site is secured by…" or "SSL provided by…" this means that the site is independently secured to keep any purchasing information you use confidential.

By following these simple steps, you should be able to avoid internet fraud. While nothing is ever 100% secure, neither is making a purchase at your local shop. And by ordering through the internet pragmatically, you stand to save a lot of money!

2020 Dietary Guidelines from Health.gov

The guidelines provide five overarching considerations that encourage healthy eating patterns, recognize that individuals will need to make shifts in their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthy pattern, and acknowledge that all segments of our society have a role to play in supporting healthy choices. These Guidelines also embody the idea that a healthy eating pattern is not a rigid prescription, but rather, an adaptable framework in which individuals can enjoy foods that meet their personal, cultural, and traditional preferences and fit within their budget. Several examples of healthy eating patterns that translate and integrate the recommendations in overall healthy ways to eat are provided.

The Guidelines
See the full publication at health.gov, or read through our highlights below.

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

Key Recommendations
The Dietary Guidelines’ Key Recommendations for healthy eating patterns should be applied in their entirety, given the interconnected relationship that each dietary component can have with others. Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level. A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups - dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats
  • trans fats
  • added sugars
  • sodium

Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

In tandem with the recommendations above, Americans of all ages - children, adolescents, adults, and older adults - should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

Glaucoma Guide

Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually diminishes sight without warning and often without symptoms. The damage results from an increase in the pressure of fluid within the eye. The rise in pressure caused by fluid build-up leads to progressive damage to the optic nerve. Over time, glaucoma can lead to a gradual loss of peripheral vision. Get more information at Glaucoma Research Foundation(1-800-826-6693). Read more about low vision topics here.

AMD/Low Vision

Macular degeneration, often called AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for senior Americans. Low vision is commonly used to mean partial sight or sight that is not corrected with standard contact lenses or glasses. Vision is still functional, but the vision loss is to the degree that it interferes with the ability to perform daily activities. A person with low vision has any or all of the following: severely reduced visual acuity or contrast sensitivity, a significantly obstructed field of vision. The severity can be moderate to almost total blindness. Some signs of Low Vision are: difficulty recognizing a familiar face, difficulty reading -- print appears broken, distorted or incomplete, difficulty seeing objects and potential hazards such as steps, curbs, walls, uneven surfaces and furniture Read more about low vision topics here.

Difference Between Alzheimer's and Normal Age-Related Memory Changes

Someone with Alzheimer's disease symptoms Someone with normal age-related memory changes
Forgets entire experiences Forgets part of an experience
Rarely remembers something after a time lapse Often remembers something after a time lapse
Is gradually unable to follow written/spoken directions Is usually able to follow written/spoken directions
Is gradually unable to use notes as reminders Is usually able to use notes as reminders
Is gradually unable to care for self Is usually able to care for self
From the Alzheimer's Association National Office 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601

It is crucial for people suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and the people caring for them, to get the most current, reliable information on their treatment options. Read more about Alzheimer's here.