Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

May 1, 2009

Table of Contents

  • Resources, Resources! (Introduction to special issue)
  • Bone Fitness Exerciser (The OsteoBall)
  • Eye of the Beholder (Facts from the American Optometric Association)
  • Cognitive Wellness (The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health)
  • Maintaining Personal Independence (Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service)
  • SAMHSA (Mental health and substance abuse services)

Resources, Resources!

Senior health-fitness professionals are interested in a broad range of age-related subjects. Over time, you may serve older adult individuals with osteoporosis, vision loss, dementia, functional challenges, even substance abuse issues -- plus many more existing or potential quality-of-life vulnerabilities. With so many possible needs, how can you stay prepared to help every client? It was with that question in mind that American Senior Fitness Association officials recently visited Las Vegas to attend the Aging in America Conference of the National Council on Aging and the American Society on Aging.

During the conference, the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) accepted the 2009 Best Practices in Health Promotion and Wellness Award from the National Council on Aging's Health Promotion Institute. In their "free" time, SFA principals set about finding contacts and resources to assist our members in the ongoing quest to keep up-to-date on relevant health-fitness matters. A number of useful services were described in the last issue of Experience! To review, please click here.

Today's issue shares information on additional service providers and connections of interest from the national Aging in America conference.


Bone Fitness Exerciser

At a colorful, upbeat booth in the gigantic Aging in America exhibition hall, SFA president Janie Clark enjoyed meeting Karen Hunt who was demonstrating an exciting older adult workout accessory, the OsteoBall Bone Fitness Exerciser. A lightweight and gentle aid, it was developed for those who have bone and joint-related conditions such as osteoporosis and/or osteoarthritis. OsteoBall's motto is: "Hug it, Tug it, Your Bones Get Stronger." For more information, click on www.bonefitness.com.


Eye of the Beholder

Age-related eye diseases will be a topic of growing concern as the aging population increases. Representing the American Optometric Association (AOA), Dr. Peter Shaw-McMinn answered eye-health questions posed by convention-goers visiting the AOA's Aging in America exhibit.

Dr. Shaw-McMinn was distributing a particularly interesting AOA flier entitled "Vision and Saftey Tips for Older Drivers." Among other useful recommendations, it offers advice on recognizing important vision changes that can occur after age 50. The signs include:

  • Requiring more light to see adequately at night or on overcast days,
  • Less sharpness in one's vision under certain lighting conditions,
  • Increased difficulty in changing focus from near to far or vice versa,
  • Increased sensitivity to bright sunlight and glare,
  • Less ability to see to the side while looking ahead, and
  • Less ability to quickly and accurately distinguish colors.

The AOA advises bringing such changes to the attention of one's optometrist. Other short informational publications of the AOA include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Dry Eye
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes and Your Eyes
  • Common Vision Conditions

The AOA also provides assistance with locating a qualified optometrist in one's area. For more information on AOA services and publications, click on www.aoa.org.


Cognitive Wellness

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is a Las Vegas-based nonprofit devoted to the battle against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases, as well as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other memory disorders. At the center's Aging in America booth, administrative services manager LeeAnn Mandarino dispersed related literature including volume 1 of "New Thinking About Thinking" magazine. Inside, an article discusses the difference between forgetfulness and neurodegeneration and shares these signs of a serious memory problem: 

  • "Not being able to follow directions.
  • "Becoming lost in places you know well.
  • "Asking the same question over and over.
  • "Getting confused about time, people, and places.
  • "Not taking care of yourself -- eating poorly, not bathing, or being unsafe."

To help keep memory sharp, the article offers good-sense advice, such as seeking help for feelings of depression that last for weeks at a time; using memory tools like calendars and lists; keeping your wallet, keys, or purse in the same place; volunteering; socializing; avoiding excessive alcohol use; learning a new skill; obtaining adequate rest and exercise; and eating a healthful diet.

The mission of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health includes prevention, research, early detection, clinical medical care, education, and support services. For more information, click on www.keepmemoryalive.org.


Maintaining Personal Independence

If you have concerns about a client's ability to manage safely at home, there is a service that you may wish to mention to that client or to his or her family. For seniors, it is estimated that more than half of all falls resulting in injury occur at home. Medical alert systems can reduce the worry of living alone -- both for older adults and their loved ones -- by providing swift response when an elder needs help and every second matters.

Philips Lifeline is an easy-to-use medical alert service that presented an exhibit at the Aging in America conference. Throughout the years, Philips Lifeline has given more than six million older adults living at home quick assistance when needed. At the simple press of a waterproof button, carefully trained associates will provide help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Here's how it works: When the button is pressed, the response center is dialed, establishing two-way voice communication; an associate instantly accesses the caller's profile and quickly assesses the situation, then contacts the indicated resource (for example, a neighbor, friend, relative, or emergency services) and follows up to ensure that the needed help arrived. For more information, click on www.lifelinesys.com.

In association with Boston University, Philips Lifeline sponsors a free online service, the Independent Living Assessment, which can help older adults, their families, and the health-fitness professionals who serve them plan for the future. Seniors can take this fast and easy assessment by visiting www.lifeline-ILA.com. It addresses three important areas: (1) moving about freely, (2) performing daily tasks, and (3) managing life skills. An interpretation of the results is provided. For example, "moving about freely" may be characterized as:

  • On your own,
  • Beginning to struggle,
  • Daily tasks are a struggle, or
  • No independent tasks.

In this way, "Areas of Concern" are identified. The Independent Living Assessment online service then proceeds to suggest resources for support within those specific areas.


SAMHSA

SAMHSA stands for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a government agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that provides excellent publications on mental health topics free of charge.

At the SAMHSA booth, senior exhibit outreach specialist Rebecca Willingham pointed out a SAMHSA pamphlet of special interest to SFA president Janie Clark. Entitled "Aging, Medicines and Alcohol," it contains helpful tips for seniors and can be ordered cost-free for distribution to your health-fitness participants.

In addition to other practical advice, "Aging, Medicine and Alcohol" makes note of the fact that medicine and alcohol misuse can happen unintentionally, so it's important to be able to recognize a problem if one exists. Signs include:

  • Memory lapses after taking medicine or drinking;
  • Loss of coordination, such as unsteady walking or frequent falling;
  • Unexplained bruising;
  • Changes in sleeping patterns;
  • Experiencing unexplained chronic pain;
  • Feeling unsure of oneself;
  • Feeling sad, irritable, or depressed;
  • Loss of interest in one's usual activities;
  • Problems keeping in touch with friends and family;
  • Wanting to stay alone much of the time;
  • Having trouble concentrating;
  • Having trouble finishing sentences;
  • Changes in eating habits;
  • Failure to bathe or keep clean.

SAMHSA recommends many useful steps to avoid or rectify medication and alcohol problems in older adults. These include reading one's medication labels (and checking whether alcohol should not be used with the particular drug), carefully following directions, communicating clearly with one's physician and pharmacist, asking questions, and obtaining written instructions.

SAMHSA is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity, and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment, and mental health services delivery system. For more information and to order publications, click on www.samhsa.gov.

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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