Posts Tagged ‘independence’

New PBS Documentary Age of Champions

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The American Senior Fitness Association invites you, your friends, clients and colleagues to watch the new PBS documentary Age of Champions for free from April 18th – 28th at www.ageofchampions.org/premiere

Age of Champions tells the story of five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. You’ll meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole vaulter, and rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age.

“All of the characters in the film have the conviction that the best in life still lies ahead of them. They show us how we can grow older with grace and good humor,” says Age of Champions director Christopher Rufo.

The film premiered to a standing ovation at the prestigious Silverdocs Film Festival, the Washington Post hailed it as “infectiously inspiring,” and it’s already shown at more than 1,000 venues around the world.

Share this resource with your friends, clients and colleagues by emailing them the following link:

AGE OF CHAMPIONS NATIONAL ONLINE PREMIERE
April 18th – 28th
Live Q+A with the filmmakers on April 25th
www.ageofchampions.org/premiere

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Exercise and Lung Disease

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

With medical approval, physical exercise can be very beneficial for persons with chronic lung disease. In fact, it has been shown to improve their endurance, decrease symptoms and reduce hospital stays, according to the book Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.* The authors recommend working with one’s doctor to develop a personalized exercise plan, to start out at a very low intensity level, and to progress very gradually. Over time, one’s shortness of breath at a given exertion level should begin to decrease. Following are some additional training tips specific to lung disease from the authors of Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions:

Using your medicine — especially an inhaler — before exercising can help you to exercise for longer periods of time and to do so with less shortness of breath.

If you become severely short of breath upon minimal exertion, your physician may wish to adjust your medicines. For some patients, the doctor may order the use of supplemental oxygen before beginning an exercise session.

Perform lengthy, thorough warm ups and cool downs. While warming up and cooling down, breathe in through the nose, allowing your belly to expand outward, then exhale slowly through pursed lips. Establish a daily low-intensity routine on which you can build gradually.

During exercise, mild shortness of breath is to be expected. Also, prior to exercise, you may experience an "anticipatory" increase in heart rate and breathing rate. Although this is normal, it can be intimidating or tiring for some persons with chronic lung disease. A gradual warm up period including pursed lip breathing can help. Also, avoid your
personal "trouble zones" of shortness of breath by limiting exercise intensity and duration to levels well under the threshhold at which severe shortness of breath occurs.

Throughout the exercise session, breathe in deeply and slowly. Exhale through pursed lips, taking two to three times as long to exhale as to inhale. When walking, for example, if you take take two steps while inhaling, practice exhaling through pursed lips over four to six steps. Exhaling this slowly improves air exchange in the lungs and will likely increase endurance.

Note that arm exercises may cause shortness of breath sooner than leg exercises do.

Cold air and/or dry air can make breathing and exercising more difficult for persons with chronic lung disease (which is why many choose swimming as their preferred exercise activity).

With physician approval, strength training (for example, calisthenics or light weight lifting) may be especially helpful for persons who have been weakened or deconditioned due to medications such as steroids.

For exercise beginners who have low endurance or who fear exerting themselves, using a restorator can offer a greater sense of control, build self-confidence, and provide a secure, user-friendly way to get used to physical exertion. A restorator lets you stay chair-seated during exercise. You can start and stop the device as desired. It is a small piece of equipment featuring foot pedals that you place on the floor at the foot of your chair (or even attach to the foot of your bed if lying-down exercise is needed). To exercise, simply pedal. The resistance level can be adjusted, and leg length and knee bend can be accommodated by placement of the restorator. This can be particularly useful for persons who have poor balance.

*Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, Third Edition, was written by Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH; Halsted Holman, MD; David Sobel, MD; Diana Laurent, MPH; Virginia Gonzalez, MPH; and Marian Minor, RPT, PhD; with contributor Peg Harrison, MA, MSW, LCSW.

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Mental Distress Tied to Physical Disability

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Older adults experiencing depression or anxiety are more vulnerable to physical disabilities, according to an Australian study published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.However, researchers found that performing regular physical activity can help to guard against such outcomes.

The scientists analyzed data on approximately 100,000 Australian men and women ages 65-plus. Psychological distress was detected in 8.4 percent of the subjects. The risk for physical disability was more than four times higher in those with any degree of psychological distress, compared to those with none. It was almost seven times higher in those with moderate levels of psychological distress.

The good news: Investigators found that the older adult subjects who were more physically active were less prone to physical disabilities. In a news release, lead author Gregory Kolt of the University of Western Sydney wrote, "Our findings can influence the emphasis that we place on older adults to remain active. With greater levels of physical activity, more positive health gains can be achieved, and with greater physical function (through physical activity), greater independence can be achieved."

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Boost Lower Body Strength

Friday, September 30th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

This easy-to-learn buttocks exercise, which also works the legs, can help older adult fitness participants increase lower extremity strength, an important factor in preserving mobility and personal independence. Stand behind a sturdy straight-backed chair, placing both hands on top of the chair’s back. Your feet should be a comfortable distance apart (about shoulder width). Bend as if to lower your buttocks onto the seat of an imaginary chair directly behind you. This will involve pushing the buttocks backward somewhat while bending. Do not drop the buttocks below knee level. Return to starting position and repeat. Gradually build up to performing approximately 12 repetitions. One added advantage of implementing this version of the squat is that it includes balance support.

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Walk — Don’t Shuffle

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today he offers helpful advice to a lady concerned by her recent history of falling. In addition to participating in balance training programs, there are also practical everyday measures that people can take to reduce their risk of falling. Jim explains below.

DEAR JIM: I’ve been falling frequently during the past several months, and I’m afraid I’m really going to hurt myself one of these days. Most of the time I just trip on the carpet and manage to catch myself, but yesterday I fell as I was getting out of the shower and struck my head on the toilet. Fortunately, I escaped with only a nasty bruise on my forehead, but it could have been much worse. I try to stay physically active by walking around the block several times a week, but sometimes I even trip outside on the sidewalk. What can I do to prevent losing my balance so often? I’m only 72, and I’d like to make it to my next birthday in one piece. TRIPPING IN TEMECULA

DEAR TRIPPING: Watch where you are going and pick up your feet, my dear. I assume that you have checked with your doctor to rule out any medical issues. Otherwise, you should do so right away.

It is not unusual for older adults to start dragging their feet as they grow older — shuffling, if you will. It’s a cautionary behavior intended to prevent exactly what you don’t want to happen — fall — but in fact it can often cause you to, well, fall. Shuffling involves shorter steps so your feet are closer together which gives you a shorter stability base, making you more prone to falling.

Sometimes your shoes contribute to the problem, too. Many people wear comfortable rubber-soled walking shoes or sneakers nowadays, so when you shuffle your feet, the rubber soles drag or catch on whatever surface you are walking on. The shoes are doing exactly what they are supposed to do — give you more traction — but that extra "grip" can also cause you to trip or stumble more easily when you don’t lift your feet.

Even your vision can be a factor in tripping. Many older folks look down at the ground when they walk instead of looking forward in anticipation of the next step. The rationale for looking down is, of course, so that you don’t trip over anything, but exactly the opposite happens because your vertical vision does not allow you to see what is coming in front of you. Consequently, when an obstacle of any kind suddenly appears under your feet, you cannot act quickly enough to react to it, and down you go!

According to the Centers for Disease Control  (www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html), one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. Worse, the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age because we don’t bounce back like we used to — in fact, we may not bounce at all.

So, start developing different walking habits when you take your walks:

  • Look ahead in the direction you are walking.
  • Focus on lifting your feet a little higher off the ground and placing them in front of you.
  • Step forward with a normal stride.

After you have developed these new walking habits, they will become routine and you won’t have to think about them so much. Of course, be careful about walking on uneven terrain, and watch out for the usual wet spots, bumps in the road and banana peels. Also, be careful about changing directions in a hurry because sometimes your feet might not move as quickly as your brain (or the other way around) and — oops — down you go again!

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Facing Mortality Without Fear

Friday, November 19th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 42-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant. Today he discusses natural concerns that may arise with advancing age.

DEAR JIM: I have managed to outlive most of my friends and three wives to make it to age 92, and I feel pretty good for my age. I don’t drink or smoke, and I try to stay physically active. Still, I can’t help thinking about dying. I have seen so many of my friends expire after lingering for months with cancer, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions, and I have to admit that it scares me to think that it could happen to me too — and the likelihood becomes greater with every passing year. Am I just being paranoid?

SCARED IN SCARSDALE

DEAR SCARED: No, you’re not being paranoid. The thought of dying becomes more commonplace as we get older and have a greater sense of our own mortality. And, as many of our friends and loved ones pass on, we think about it more often. However, you seem to be living a healthy lifestyle which has probably contributed to your longevity and could sustain you for years to come.

To put your mind more at ease, you might be surprised to know that most people in their eighties, nineties, and above are often healthier than those 20 years younger. Many medical afflictions usually happen to people in their sixties and seventies. Those who have reached their eighties and nineties — like you — are "survivors" who often carry on for years in comparative health.

With all of the current concern about Medicare, most people are not aware that the average Medicare bill for someone who dies by age 70 is three times greater than for someone who lives to be 90. In fact, the medical cost during the last two years of life — which are usually the most expensive — is typically just $8,300 for someone who dies at age 90 compared to $22,600 at age 70. It won’t be the centenarians who stretch the limits of Medicare but, rather, it will be the baby boomers turning 65!

It is not easy to put the thought of death on the back burner when so many of your peers are already deceased, but dwelling on it will not add years to your life either. You have been given a great gift to live so long, so continue to take good care of yourself and enjoy each and every day. Your healthy lifestyle has seen you through the years and should continue to serve you in good stead. Remember, it is not how long you live that counts but the quality of those years. With more and more people living longer, you are in good company.

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Here’s a tip from Posit Science: “Giving Health Advice for Older People? Don’t Forget the Brain”

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Posit Science’s Karen Merzenich asks “what good is it to be 100 years old and physically fit if my mind is gone?” Her post, “Giving Health Advice for Older People? Don’t Forget the Brain,” appears in the Posit Science corporate blog where she suggests that “in aging, we need everything in our arsenal: the physical fitness, the diet, the friends and family, the shower bar, and unequivocally–the brain training.” Please click below for the complete post.

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Exercise can initiate lasting improvements in balance, walking ability and fall risk in older women with osteopenia

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Exercise can initiate lasting improvements in balance, walking ability and fall risk in older women with osteopenia (mild thinning of bone mass). Researchers at Finland’s Oulu Deaconess Institute have released a followup report 5 years after their original 30 month exercise intervention study of 160 women. The results show that, compared to the non-exercising control group, those who had exercised maintained greater walking ability, had fewer damaging falls and none of their falls resulted hip fractures. Researchers noted that “Regular daily physical exercise should be recommended to elderly women with osteopenia.” Please click below for a report from Reuters Health.

 

 

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Many Chronically Ill Elderly Live Alone

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Family and friends outside of the household are an important resource for older adults with chronic health problems, according to University of Michigan (U-M) research. Below is a report on the subject from the University of Michigan Health System:

Almost 40 percent of chronically ill older adults in the U.S. live alone, and a majority of those who are married have spouses with at least one chronic illness than can affect their ability to provide support, according to a U-M study published in the journal Chronic Illness.

The results underscore the importance of health care professionals directly addressing the roles that family members play in the care of their aging parents or other relatives.

"Family members have the potential to significantly help many patients with chronic illness manage their health conditions," says co-author Ann-Marie Rosland, MD, clinical lecturer in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and research investigator for the Center for Clinical Management Research in the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"However those family members need more than just information to be successful. We need to teach family members communication skills and provide the tools that they can use to encourage patients to stick to their health regimen."

The study’s authors looked at U.S. residents who were age 51 or older with chronic health problems who participated in the 2006 Health and Retirement Study, a national longitudinal study conducted at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers found that 93 percent of the chronically ill older adults had adult children, but for half of them, the children lived more than 10 miles away. Roughly 19 million older chronically ill Americans have adult children living at a distance.

"Even when a spouse is available, the vast majority struggle with their own
chronic medical needs and functional limitations," says John D. Piette, PhD, professor of internal medicine and a senior career scientist with the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"Fortunately, most of these people had adult children who could be another source of support for their chronic illness care," he says. "But these
relationships are increasingly strained as adult children move farther away from their parents to seek employment or find a more affordable living situation. Distances pose a barrier to the monitoring and frequent support for behavior change that many chronically ill patients need."

Piette and his colleagues at U-M are working to develop telephone monitoring systems that involve family members in a relative’s care through email alerts or automated phone calls. The "CarePartners" program has been developed for
patients with heart failure, diabetes, depression, and cancer chemotherapy. The program is being studied as part of randomized trials and community demonstration programs.

"We know that people with family support follow their self-care regimen more regularly and this is vital to maintaining their health," says Maria Silveira, MD, MPH, physician scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

"The challenges facing chronically ill patients, their families and their clinical teams are enormous," Piette says. "We need a recognition that for many patients ‘self’ management is a misnomer, since their disease care is actually shared by their family and broader social network."

Informal caregivers play essential roles in filling the gaps in services found in most formal health care systems, such as providing assistance with transportation, medication refilling, emotional support, activities of daily living and a host of other vital tasks.

"Indeed, for many chronically ill patients, sharing their burden with intimate others makes living with their disease not only possible physically, but also worthwhile emotionally and spiritually," says Piette.

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Happiness Is Growing Old at Home

Friday, September 17th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) member Maria Tadd has penned a practical and timely book addressing an important, contemporary issue. Published by the Terrapin Press of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, it is titled Happiness Is Growing Old at Home and subtitled Discover New Ways to Help Your Aging Parent Remain Independent.

The publisher’s description, reprinted below, provides a good overview of the 269-page book’s contents:

  • Innovative options provide quality and compassionate care, many at reduced costs.
  • New, easy-to-use, high-tech devices facilitate independent living.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle will help your parents age in place.
  • Detailed questionnaires will assist you in evaluating health care agencies and rehab facilities before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Sample flowcharts, schedules and logs will help keep you and your parent organized and will make sure that all caregivers are on the same page.
  • An extensive, annotated list of websites provides volumes of information.
  • Maria Tadd, a freelance medical writer, is a graduate of the New England School of Acupuncture and a life-long student of holistic health, meditation and nutrition. For more information about Happiness Is Growing Old at Home, click on www.agingathome.info.

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