Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

March 03, 2008              

Table of Contents

  • Access the Experience! Archives (Industry news)
  • A Variation on the "Memory Box" (Attention caregivers!)
  • Some Retirements Are Postponed Indefinitely (Trends)
  • Recognizing Depression in the Elderly (Facts and resources)
  • Romance Very Much in the Picture (Lifestyle research)
  • Getting Better All the Time (Reflection)

Access the Experience! Archives

If you are a new subscriber
, or are missing valued past articles, here's some good news. Now you can access the complete Experience! library. 

The American Senior Fitness Association began publication of Experience! (initially called Round-Up) on July 5, 2005. Our concept was to provide timely information that would be of interest to older adult fitness leaders and that they could share with their fitness program participants. Since that time we have published over 60 issues featuring more than 400 articles.

At the top of this and all future issues of Experience! you'll find a link the following link:
  • - Go to the Archives.


A Variation on the "Memory Box"

The August 1, 2007, issue of Experience!
described a loving project undertaken by one activity coordinator seeking to promote an environment of dignity and respect for the elderly residents in her care at a Florida retirement facility. Many had dementia or Alzheimer's disease and could no longer share the stories of their lives with staff members or visitors. She created a beautifully framed, three-dimensional display box honoring each resident and including a write-up about the individual's history, photographs from his or her past, and mementos representing his or her former work, achievements, and interests. To access an indepth article about these "memory boxes," click on "
Boxes Tell the Stories of Their Lives."

SFA president Janie Clark had been so touched by the concept that it was she who'd asked Experience! editors to be sure and include the idea in the newsletter for readers with similarly affected patients or loved ones. When the Experience! piece was published, she was pleased. "I thought it was such a wonderful thing to do and was glad we could help get the word out about it. I wondered how many of our readers might have been inspired to tackle such a project for their special patients and relatives."

Then Clark got hit with a reality check. "Suddenly I realized that my mother was theMemory Box perfect candidate for a memory box. I thought, Here I am recommending that everybody else get busy and create these lovely tributes to the elderly with memory loss in their lives. Why don't I take my own advice and do it for Mama?"   

Out came all the old photo albums, the art supplies, and the saved letters and greeting cards. "What a massive job it was," Clark says. "But well worth it!" Her 12-year-old son Will helped out by using the computer to download pictures of the hummingbirds his grandmother always loved and the African violets she raised.

"I came up with my own version of a memory box," Clark says. "Instead of a deep shadow box, I used a larger flat frame. Also, instead of writing a detailed biography, we settled on short captions to summarize Mama's rich, vibrant, and giving background. This allowed us to fit in more photos and mainly let the pictures tell her story. To promote cheerfulness, we used a bright yellow background, a blond frame, and lots of happy family photos. I call it Mama's memory collage."  

Indeed, Clark's mother does take pleasure in the new work of art recently displayed for all her visitors to see. "She doesn't remember when the photos were taken or even many of the people so near-and-dear to her who are pictured in them," Clark says. "But she is aware that it somehow has to do with her being very special -- and also greatly loved."

Clark adds, "I like it that the people at my mother's assisted living who work so hard every day to care for her -- changing bed linens; helping her dress; providing meals, activities, and health care -- now know more about what an extraordinary person she is, even though she can't tell them. Of course, they already knew that she is a cherished mother and grandmother, but now they also know that she has been a college tennis star, a successful career woman, a church and community leader, and someone who brought exceptional beauty into her family's lives through her love of flowers, birds, books, and keeping a lovely home for them out on their large cattle farm in the country."

Clark was asked if she has any advice for others who may be thinking of launching their own memory box projects. "Do it your own way," she says. "Don't worry about perfection. Get all the help you can -- from kids, brothers, sisters, others. This can be such a rewarding experience for literally everyone involved. Just be careful not to wait too long to get started. I'm so glad we acted when we did!"     
 

Some Retirements Are Postponed Indefinitely

A growing number of Americans
are working well past the traditional retirement age, according to a recent report by the Associated Press which cited these figures provided by the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Regarding Americans ages 55 and older, the number of workers began rising about 10 years ago -- after decreasing steadily for decades. Since the year 2000, this trend has been accelerating rapidly.
  • Regarding Americans ages 75 and older, approximately 6.4 percent were working in 2006 -- compared to 4.7 percent 10 years earlier. That translates to slightly more than a million 75-plus workers in 2006, in contrast to 634,000 a decade before.
  • Regarding Americans ages 80 and older, approximately 3.4 percent were working in 2006 -- compared to 2.7 percent 10 years earlier. That translates to 318,000 80-plus workers in 2006, in contrast to 188,000 a decade before.
Why is the number of Americans who stay on the job beyond usual retirement age rising? In some cases, it is because they derive immense personal satisfaction from their jobs and desire to continue working. Other influences may include the fact that people are living longer and the effects of the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act which ended Social Security penalties for workers ages 65 through 69. However, interviewed by the AP, Alicia Munnell -- director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College -- predicted that the number is likely to keep rising as people live longer and cannot make ends meet on Social Security and their savings in 401(k) plans. "It's a concern to me that they will end up having to," Munnell told the AP.     
 

Recognizing Depression in the Elderly

According to information
provided by health-care and social welfare experts and compiled recently by correspondent Eleanore Osborne writing for the News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Florida, there are certain signs to watch for in order to detect the presence of depression in elderly loved ones and acquaintances. They include:

  • a change in personality, for example, anger or listlessness;
  • isolation, especially if it appears to be self-imposed;
  • lapses in regard to personal hygiene;
  • an uncharacteristically messy or dirty house; and
  • a loss of interest in eating.
When depression is suspected in an elderly individual, a good starting point for seeking help is one's local Council on Aging. Following are several online resources, assembled by Osborne, that may also prove to be useful and informative:

Romance Very Much in the Picture

According to a recent survey
conducted in the United States and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, many older adults maintain active sex lives. More than a quarter of the respondents ages 57 to 85 years old reported having had sex during the previous year.


Getting Better All the Time

When life rolls along as it should
, we have many years to stake out just who we are and who we want to be. The author quoted below celebrates time that has been well spent.

"The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth."

                                                         -- Marya Mannes, More in Anger, 1958

Experience! readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

Free SFA basic membership: If you aren't already a member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA), just sign up online at www.seniorfitness.org. There are no fees or membership dues. And, we don't give out our members' personal information to others! When you join SFA, you'll receive our e-newsletter "Experience!" which will bring you older adult fitness news, research, and wellness tips.

Fitness and health professionals: You may distribute copies of Experience! to your exercise clients and patients as a free newsletter service. Copies of Experience! or excerpts therefrom must always ascribe credit to the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). To fulfill that requirement, include the complete banner (title information at the top of each newsletter) as well as all post-newsletter notes, messages, copyright information, and the SFA logo.


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