May 1, 2009
Table of Contents
Resources! (Introduction to special issue)
- Bone Fitness Exerciser
- 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)
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
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!
please click here.
Today's issue shares information on additional
service providers and connections of interest from the national Aging in
Bone Fitness Exerciser
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
Eye of the Beholder
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
- 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
- Less ability to see to the side while
looking ahead, and
- Less ability to quickly and accurately
The AOA advises bringing such changes to the
attention of one's optometrist. Other short informational publications
of the AOA include:
- Dry Eye
- 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
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
- "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
Maintaining Personal Independence
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
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.
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
- 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
- Problems keeping in touch with friends and
- 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
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.
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