Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors. Click above to learn more about how lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors’ minds and bodies.
What is your attitude about the aging process? Do you view it as a positive rite of passage or a negative phenomenon that must simply be endured? Learn more about changing your mindset about growing older by clicking the link above.
What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.
But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.
It’s called active aging, a philosophy that attempts to move the mindset of what is considered health and well-being into an entire spectrum of categories that encompass components such as emotional and spiritual wellness, as well as the traditional physical aspects of health.
The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) defines active aging as promoting the vision of all individuals — regardless of age, socioeconomic status or health — fully engaging in life within seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual/cognitive, physical, professional/vocational, social and spiritual.
By expanding what we consider to be “healthy” and incorporating each dimension into our lives, we can cultivate a more well-rounded view of what constitutes a healthy and happy life.
Let’s take a closer look at each active aging dimension of wellness and how each might point to steps we can take to improve our own quality of life and that of those around us.
Mental and emotional health is one of the pillars of happiness. Focusing on life’s positives (even embracing nostalgia), spending quality time with friends and family, and taking time for self-expression are ways to strengthen this dimension. Try eating meals with companions to give yourself the opportunity to talk about your day, tell stories and, of course, laugh.
Your environment isn’t just the four walls around you, but the world that you and your loved ones inhabit. Allow sufficient time to wander in nature, explore its beauty and taste everything life has to offer.
A sharp mind is a happy mind. Engaging in creative pursuits is a proven method for keeping the mind alert. Read, write, journal, solve crosswords and puzzles, or even pick up a new pursuit like drawing or painting.
Physical well-being is about taking care of your body and making positive lifestyle choices. That means physical activity and exercise, as well as smart and healthy eating habits. Choose nutritious, delicious foods (MemoryMeals® makes that an easy call), make sure you get adequate sleep, and eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Participating in work (paid or unpaid) not only contributes a service to society, but can boost one’s sense of self-worth by helping others and increasing social interaction. Older adults and seniors still have a lot to contribute as mentors, teachers and volunteers.
Sometimes we all get tired of the rest of the world. But social isolation is ultimately unhealthy. So carve out sufficient time with friends and family for valuable emotional support. Social well-being can also be found through joining clubs and partaking in group activities.
There is evidence that religious belief is associated with longer life and better physical and mental health. This could be due to higher rates of social and emotional engagement among people of faith, but the fact remains that a spiritual component — the search for purpose and meaning — is an important dimension of active aging. That can take the form of organized religion or less dogmatic spiritual pursuits, such as yoga, meditation or simply communing with nature.
Putting It All Together
By broadening the definition of health and wellness, the active aging concept presents interesting new paths in the ways we will build full lives for a growing population of older Americans. Since food can be an important component in a number of the lifestyle areas identified in active aging, MemoryMeals® promises to play a major part in helping to enhance the lives of seniors at meal time and beyond.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:
- Unplanned weight loss
- Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
- Swallowing dysfunction
- Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)
Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.
When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?
- Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
- Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
- Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
- Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.
The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why?
Click above to learn more!
Inflammation works behind the scenes as the underlying cause of many health issues, including brain health. But eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — can help you fight inflammation and its many negative side effects.
Click above to learn more.
The Wesley Communities have established a “Brain Fitness” club that consists of members from our three campuses, and the residents attend regular meetings to get updates on state-of-the-art research regarding brain health.
To learn more about how we keep our brains fit, click above!
by Jennifer Trent, Wesley Glen WELLness Receptionist
Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing! A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!
If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?
Studies and clinical trials like those done by Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, have shown that the practice of gratitude or giving thanks can have dramatic and lasting effects, like lowered blood pressure, improved immune function, better sleep, better heart health, and it may actually reduce the effects of aging on the brain.
Research has also shown that when we think about what we are thankful for, the parasympathetic part of the nervous system is activated, which can have protective benefits for the body, like lowering stress hormones such as cortisol. We may not all be grateful by nature, but it is a habit that we can develop if we look for just one thing at a time to be grateful for daily. Then, we can add more as we get accustomed to the practice.
Over time you will find that the practice of being grateful can totally change the way you view your life and the things around you. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way of boosting our gratitude. Robert Emmons’ research showed that those who maintained a weekly gratitude journal reported fewer physical symptoms, had a better outlook on their lives in general, and had more optimism about what the future had in store.
So, try a regular dose of thanksgiving all year round for your health!
Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world? Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?
Click above to learn more!