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Posts Tagged “Healthy Aging”

The Completely Normal Side of Aging

senior home care phoenix two senior men playing soccer

The Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare shares details on normal aging.

Change: it’s a part of life, regardless of age, but it seems to accelerate as we grow older, leading us to wonder which changes are cause for concern, and which are just a normal part of aging. While it’s always important to consult with the doctor regarding any physical or emotional changes to rule out health problems, our Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare has broken down some of the most common types of aging-related changes that are generally considered normal:

Skin Changes:

As we grow older, our skin produces less oil, and we begin to lose some of the fatty tissue beneath the skin’s surface, leading to a drier, thinner feeling. You can protect your skin by always wearing sunscreen when going outdoors, and by getting checked for any growths or other abnormal skin changes by the doctor on a regular basis.

Heart Changes:

With increased stiffness in the arteries and blood vessels, our hearts have to work harder as we grow older. It’s important to ensure the heart remains healthy by staying physically active (getting doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routines), eating plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and sleeping at least 7 – 8 hours each night.

Bone Changes:

Older adults often experience stiffness in the joints, the normal effect of the wearing away of cartilage, tissue and fluids. This can, however, lead to arthritis and other conditions for which treatment can be sought. Bones also become more brittle and less dense throughout aging, making seniors more susceptible to breaks. And we may actually lose an inch or two from our stature as the disks in the spine shrink, beginning as early as in our 40s. It’s crucial for older adults to maintain a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to maximize bone strength.

Vision and Hearing Changes:

Enhanced sensitivity to glare and bright light, as well as difficulty with reading or seeing objects clearly when close up, are common in aging, and can usually be overcome with annual eye exams, reading glasses, and the use of sunglasses when in bright light. Likewise, hearing often deteriorates slightly, particularly impacting sounds at high frequencies. Annual hearing exams and the use of earplugs when in especially loud environments are important.

Oral Changes:

Dry mouth and the appearance of gums pulling away from the teeth are two common occurrences in our later years. The dentist can help with determining what interventions may be needed, so regular cleanings and checkups are vital. And at any age, brushing and flossing regularly (twice daily for brushing, once daily for flossing) is the best way to prevent decay and infection to teeth and gums.

At Nightingale Homecare, our Phoenix senior care experts help keep older adults healthy and thriving throughout aging in a variety of ways! We provide a full range of in-home care services, from companionship and help around the house to highly skilled nursing care, and everything in between. We can ensure seniors are following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise and rest, offer accompanied transportation to medical and dental checkups and exams, pick up prescriptions, and keep a professional eye out for any changes in a senior’s health that may be cause for concern, so that they can be addressed immediately.

To learn more about how we can help your senior loved one remain safe, healthy and happy at home, contact us any time at (602) 504-1555.

How to Live Longer: Put on a Happy Face!

how to live longerWe often tell those who aren’t feeling well to “cheer up” or “feel better soon!” Those words of encouragement can be more helpful than you know, as they may do more than raise spirits; if heeded, they can help turn your thoughts to the sunny side, and may actually improve your health and extend your life!

We all want to learn how to live longer and better lives, and it’s no secret that our minds can influence our bodies. However, there is new research that shows that not only do positive thoughts influence our health, but we can even train ourselves to think more positively, thereby improving health outcomes.

A study done by the American Heart Association looked at 607 participants and found that those with more positive moods were 58% more likely to live at least five years following a similar cardiac episode. They also discovered that patients with sunnier moods were more likely to exercise, leading to improved prognosis and psychological wellbeing.

If a happier mood can help prolong life, then surely there is something to the fact that being happy can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce heart disease, control weight and improve energy. And since a happy mood appears to be something that can “rub off” on us, or can be a learned skill, the Arizona home health care team at Nightingale Homecare thought it might be nice to focus on ways to help get us thinking more positive and thereby improve quality of life, or even extend it!

Judith T. Moskowitz, who is a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, was inspired by observations that people with AIDS, type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses lived longer if they demonstrated positive emotions. She then developed this set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions. Participants are encouraged to learn at least three of the eight skills and practice one or more each day. The eight skills are:

  • Recognize a positive event each day.
  • Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.
  • List a personal strength and note how you used it.
  • Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
  • Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
  • Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
  • Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

If you have some free time on your hands, it has been found that helping others also helps improve mood! Volunteering is a great way to give back and feel happy. Just remember to practice your happiness every day. It’s a positive cycle: The more you do it, the easier it gets!

Nightingale Homecare, top providers of Arizona home health care, is on hand to help brighten each day for seniors with friendly companionship, assistance with tasks around the home, transportation to fun outings, and so much more. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 to get started!

5 Barriers to Healthy Aging and How to Overcome Them

Healthy AgingWe all hope that our elder loved ones enjoy their golden years, but there are many factors that affect the success and happiness a person experiences throughout aging. Luckily, many of these factors can be prevented or at least managed.

Barriers to healthy aging can obviously differ from person to person; however, there are some general challenges that more typically affect the elderly and the enjoyment of this new era of life. These include:

  • Exercise and Mobility: Exercise, and the oportunity to exercise, can decline rapidly as we age. With the decline in exercise comes a loss in mobility, which often leads to fall risk. One out of three seniors fall each year, and this can lead to debilitating injury – further perpetuating the loss of mobility and inability to exercise. One way to break this vicious cycle is to ensure your elder loved one has access to routine exercise. If he or she is at risk for falls, an occupational and/or physical therapist can provide exercise plans, strength and balance training and home safety checks.
  • Loneliness: Sadly, loneliness is an issue for many older adults who are often isolated by health issues, family living far away, and the loss of friends and spouses to death over the years. Lonely seniors are more prone to depression, heart attacks, strokes or other heart complications. Loneliness also affects nutrition and can lead to cognitive changes, and seniors who feel lonely have a 45% increased risk of dying sooner. One way to combat loneliness is by employing a home care agency, such as Nightingale Homecare, to provide a home care aide, offering companionship, transportation, nutritious meals, encouragement to engage in fun activities, and more.
  • Non-adherence to Medication: Recent stats show that more than half of all prescriptions aren’t taken according to doctors’ orders. This non-adherence has a major impact on health. Often, after a physician writes a prescription, there is little done to ensure the elder understands the medication and how to take it. Many times, this discovery is made only after the senior is admitted to the hospital due to complications from taking a medication differently than prescribed. Registered nurses who work with seniors at home to manage their medications and help with strategies to follow all other doctor recommendations are invaluable in helping seniors with this issue.
  • Chronic Disease: 80% of seniors have at least one chronic illness, and 14.2 million are living with some type of disability, both of which can create tremendous uncertainty and challenges for the elderly. Learning to live with a chronic illness and having the tools necessary to have a successful outcome is necessary to the elder’s feelings of success and control. Engaging the services of a home care agency with experience in teaching chronic disease management to intervene can provide the tools necessary to manage the disease. The control is put back into the hands of your elder loved one. This can be very freeing indeed!
  • Transportation Challenges: Older drivers are more at risk for crash-related injuries and death due to slower response time: nine times higher than the rate for drivers ages 25-69. It is important to understand that when your loved one is showing signs of cognitive or agility impairment, a discussion needs to take place about alternative transportation options. Often, the loss of a license creates isolation in the elder, leading to depression, mobility issues and other negative outcomes. Once your loved one comes to terms that he/she cannot drive, move quickly to find an option that will help maintain independence. A home care aide is a great option, as aides can provide transportation to and from events and appointments, and won’t slow your loved one down from running errands, keeping appointments and continuing with a robust social calendar.

To learn more ways to overcome the barriers to healthy aging, contact the Phoenix area in-home care experts at Nightingale Homecare at 602-504-1555.