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Book Review: The Fountain of Age

At Senior Living Systems, our mission is aging well. In support of that mission, we love to share some of the books we feel speak to a positive and dynamic approach to aging, and help support the concept of ageless living.

 

Today, we’d like to talk about The Fountain of Age by Betty Friedan. Best known for her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique, Friedan has once again broken new ground with her revolutionary exploration of what it means to age well, and the positive effects that aging actually creates.

If you are operating under the misconception that growing old equates to being lonely, powerless, unattractive, and dependent on others, this is the book for you. Friedan turns the tables on the idea that aging is the end. In interviews with dozens of women and men in middle or old age who are still leading vibrant, passionate, creative lives, she challenges everything we think we know about what it means to grow older – and then invites us to explore the dynamic lives that aging people are leading today.

 

Friedan also presents aging as a new adventure, one we are still learning about. She explores research on aging from experts in gerontology, social science, and psychology – to learn more about the aging process, and how we deal with the milestone events of aging, such as retirement, menopause, empty nest syndrome, and health care.

As our life expectancy continues to grow (people are living 30 years longer in this century than in the previous one) and so does our aging population, individuals and society are rewriting the script on what it means to age, and how it affects our lives, our personalities, and our physical and mental health in positive ways we’ve never fully witnessed in the past. Our aging population today is laying the groundwork for the next generations to continue to age well and live agelessly. The Fountain of Age is a good primer on what it really means to grow older.

Contact us today to learn more about ageless living!

Age Well with These 5 Superfoods

Maintaining a healthy overall diet is an essential element to remaining healthy as you age. But consuming these five superfoods can kick your physical health and cognitive functioning up to the next level. These delicious foods help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, help preserve your vision and improve your skin, boost your immune system, and enhance cognitive functioning. What’s not to like?

Blueberries

Like other blue or purple-tinted foods like blood oranges, eggplant, and purple potatoes, blueberries are rich in antioxidants that eliminate age-accelerating and cancer-causing free radicals in the body. However, a study published by City of Hope Hospital suggested that blueberries could also fight the growth of tumors in the body. Blueberries are delicious with cold cereal or in hot oatmeal for breakfast, or as a tasty treat on their own anytime.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate loves, rejoice! The cocoa powder used to make chocolate is abundant with flavanols, which lower the risk of high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, and kidney disease. Studies even support the idea that chocolate can also reduce the risk of dementia. Although milk chocolate also contains cocoa powder, dark chocolate contains much more, which makes it more beneficial.

Good Fats and Nuts

Good fats, such as olive oil and avocados, contain monounsaturated fats that fight heart disease and cancer, while also promoting brain health. Olive oil is delicious in salads or with pasta. Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, which protect against heart disease, and Type-2 diabetes. Nuts also protect against age-related memory loss. Have a handful as a snack paired with grapes or a glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol that can help slow cellular aging. Avocados are also delicious in salads, in omelets, or as a snack dip. However, nuts, avocados, and olive oil are also high in calories, so consume them in moderation.

Salmon and Other Cold-Water Fish

Salmon and other cold-water fish are rich in Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids lower bad cholesterol levels. Omega-3 acids also contain cartenoids, which protect eyesight and fight the visible signs of aging. Finally, Omega-3 acids also help decrease brain fogginess. If you have the choice, opt for wild-caught salmon over farmed salmon.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, which protects the body against several types of cancer, including colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancer. Tomatoes also lower the risk of vision robbing macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease. Eat them in salads, omelets, or in salsa – or just enjoy them freshly sliced.

Bon Appétit!

Eating these superfoods represents a delicious way of maintaining good health and optimal brain functioning as you age. Eat and enjoy!

3 Benefits of Assisted Living

Making the decision to place a loved one in an assisted living facility can be difficult. However, understanding the benefits – to your loved one as well as you – can make the decision easier. Specifically, assisted living provides three very important benefits.

Professional Medical Care 24/7

Unless you are a trained medical professional, you are not equipped to provide the level of medical care available at an assisted living facility. Even if you are a trained professional, you may not be available at all hours, or able to handle acute emergencies. All assisted living facilities have professional medical personnel on staff. Facilities that provide more intensive care have staff on hand 24/7 to handle urgent medical situations immediately.

Safety and Personal Care

Even if you live with your loved one (or your loved lives with you), safety and personal care may still be a concern when you can’t be there. At an assisted living facility, staff members are on hand to ensure the security of residents. Nearly all have monitored entrances not only to keep intruders out, but also to prevent residents with memory care issues from wandering away from the facility. Likewise, assisted living facilities have professional staff on hand to perform personal functions, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding residents while maintaining their personal dignity.

Socialization with Others

One of the most serious challenges of growing older is increased isolation. If your loved one lives alone, he or she may be isolated for much of the day. If he or she lives with you, there may still be long periods of isolation, especially if you are still working. An assisted living care facility provides opportunities for residents to interact with one another through shared meals as well as by participating in organized activities. Common areas also allow residents to interact with one another and with staff members on an informal basis.

You Can Still Visit!

Many assisted living facilities encourage family members to interact with their loved ones by participating in planned activities, as well as through individual visits. Seeing your loved one being well cared for and happy should relieve much if not all of the guilt you may feel about not serving as a full-time caregiver.

Sharpen Your Mind

One of the realities of aging is that your body changes, including changes to your brain and cognitive abilities. You may find that suddenly you have a harder time remembering names or where you put your keys. Maybe you’re in the middle of a conversation, and you can’t quite think of the right word. While major memory loss can be a sign of dementia or other serious condition, these small lapses of memory are a normal part of aging. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to keep your mind sharp as you age. From a weekly game of Sudoku to a regular fitness class, read on to find out how you can keep your mind and body fit.

Physical Health

One of the best ways you can stay healthy—and promote good brain health—is to exercise regularly and have a nutritious diet that includes healthy fats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Regular exercise, even just walking, helps to prevent or slow cognitive decline by increasing blood flow to the brain. Aside from the cognitive benefits, regular physical activity also boosts your overall health, reduces stress, helps you sleep better and can even improve your mood. Boosting your overall health can also stave off age-related issues like cardiovascular disease and dementia, which is often linked with high blood pressure. When it comes to diet, science has shown that certain types of foods are beneficial for the brain. Spinach, blueberries and black beans are all considered “superfoods” that are good for the brain.

 

Social Interaction

As we age, our social circles often become smaller. Retiring from work, losing a partner or spouse and becoming less mobile can all impact how often a senior can interact with others. Studies have shown that isolation in old age is associated with cognitive decline as well as other age-related conditions like cardiovascular disease, depression and stroke. It’s very much worth the effort to get out of the house, participate in activities and maintain social connections. Taking a group fitness class is a good solution and helps you stay physically fit. If you are looking for new ways to add social interaction to your week, why not try volunteering? Volunteering your time and energy can be a great way to age well while you help others.

 

Expand Your Horizons

Learning new things and having new experiences go a long way to helping maintain a sharp mind. Any experience or activity that stimulates the mind will do—you can do this by learning a new language, trying a new hobby, playing a challenging game or trying a new activity. Planning a trip or just having an adventure can have the same effect. Whether you take a trip around the world or venture out to a new restaurant, new experiences will also help stimulate the mind. Volunteering can be another new experience and a mental challenge to help your brain stay sharp.

 

Get a Dog

Need someone to help you do all of this? A dog is an excellent candidate for helping you stay on track with your health goals! Most dogs need a walk daily, and you are sure to meet other people when you and your pup are out and about in the neighborhood. Adopting and learning to care for a new dog can improve your overall sense of well-being and provide new experiences. Daily exercise and socialization can help prevent cognitive decline, and it’s hard to avoid any of these activities when your pet is depending on you.

We hope these tips will help you think about ways you can stay sharp and preserve cognitive health as you age.

20 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Agency

Chances are, you’ve never hired a home care agency before, so you might not know what to ask. Being able to properly vet a home care agency is important in order to ensure a good match with the needs of your loved one. Here are the 20 questions you need to ask of a home care agency.

1. How long has your agency been in business?
The age of the agency is telling because it indicates their financial stability and overall success.

2. Is the agency Medicare-certified?
If it is, Medicare may help supplement the cost of the services, which can alleviate some of the financial burden.

3. What insurance plans do you accept?
Knowing ahead of time if you can expect help from your loved one’s insurance plan will help you plan financially.

4. How are billings handled?
Will you, as the caregiver, be able to manage your loved one’s bills? Or will your loved one be burdened with potentially confusing paperwork?

5. Will I get a copy of the agency’s policies regarding patients and caregivers?
You should be able to see exactly what is expected and provided by the agency.

6. Can I see the results of recent customer satisfaction surveys?
These results will give you an indication of how well the agency follows through on their service promises.

7. Where do the agency’s caregivers come from?
How is the agency recruiting their providers? Do they advertise online? At local hospitals and clinics? The agency should be able to provide information on where their caregivers come from and what sort of certification and training they require.

8. What does the agency look for in a caregiver?
In the agency’s opinion, what qualities make an appropriate caregiver? This will give you an idea of the level of quality of care you can expect from your loved one’s caregiver.

9. Are job candidates screened? How so?
You should expect that, at minimum, the agency does a background check and drug testing.

10. Are your caregivers insured and bonded?
This helps minimize your family’s loss should the caregiver cause damage while providing care.

11. How do you determine what a caregiver is capable of doing?
What is the vetting process for caregivers? What kind of skills does the agency look for in a caregiver?

12. What training do you give your caregivers?
Are caregivers trained before being sent on a job? What does the training entail?

13. Will there be a care plan? Is the agency willing to consult with my loved one’s doctor?
A care plan helps ensure that the care coincides with your doctor’s recommendations. This plan should be a collaborative effort between the doctor, patient, family member, and agency.

14. Will my loved one always have the same caregiver?
The best scenario is when the patient can choose among caregivers until a connection is made, then have that same caregiver all the time.

15. What happens if my loved one’s regular scheduled caregiver gets sick or can’t come to the home?
What are the plans for a temporary caregiver? Will you have a say in who they send?

16. If my loved one isn’t satisfied with a particular caregiver, will you provide a different one?
Your loved one should be able to have a caregiver whom they trust and connect with.

17. How are complaints handled?
If something goes amiss in the caregiver/patient relationship, you need to know you can report it, and also know what steps the agency will take to ensure it doesn’t recur.

18. How are caregivers monitored and evaluated?
Some agencies will make follow up phone calls or home visits to ensure patient and family satisfaction with caregiver service.

19. How are emergencies handled?
If your loved one experiences an emergency in the company of a caregiver, it’s essential that the caregiver knows how to handle it according to your wishes and the needs of the situation.

20. Does the agency assist with supplemental services?
Some agencies maintain area resource lists, so that patients and their family can get extra help from supplemental services such as Meals on Wheels or group transportation to shopping areas.

When interviewing a home care agency, print out this list of questions and bring along someone to help record the answers. This will help you to compare and contrast different agencies until you find the right one for you and your loved one.

Six Things to Help Protect Your Eyesight

As we age, we may find that it’s harder to read things up close or far away. Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes are all conditions that affect eyesight and become more common as we age. The good news is there are many simple things you can do to preserve the health of your eyes and prevent age-related eye issues. Here’s a list of six things to help protect your eyesight:

  1. Wear Sunglasses
    We all know what the sun can do to your skin. It’s important to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays too! Wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays will help protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration, so look for sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection. If you wear contacts, they may offer some protection, but it’s still a good idea to wear sunglasses for that extra protective layer.
  2. Eat More Fruit
    Healthy eyes start with a healthy diet. By eating a wide variety of fresh fruits—particularly oranges, strawberries and other sources of vitamin C—you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep your eyes healthy. Other foods to include for eye health include leafy green vegetables, oily fish like salmon and tuna and a mix of non-meat proteins: eggs, nuts and beans. Foods that are high in antioxidants such as blueberries and cranberries are also helpful to maintaining healthy eyes.A healthy diet can help prevent age-related eye issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which cause deterioration of the retina and result in blurred or lost vision. Healthy eating can also help prevent Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common cause of blindness in adults.
  3. Practice Proper Eye Hygiene
    Just like brushing and flossing keep your teeth healthy, practicing proper eye hygiene keeps your eyes healthy and protects your eyesight. If you wear contacts, be sure to wash your hands before taking out or putting in contact lenses. Clean contact lens cases and replace them regularly. And don’t sleep in your contacts! If you don’t wear contacts, you can practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching or rubbing your eyes. If you wear makeup, be sure to remove it at night to avoid styes and other infections.
  4. Exercise
    Exercise is good for maintaining a healthy body weight, but did you know it can also help keep your eyes healthy? Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of sight loss in seniors, and although it is treatable, there is no cure. Even small amounts of exercise—as little as 10 minutes per day—can help improve your overall health and have an impact on your eye health as well.
  5. Take a Screen Break
    Screens are everywhere these days—phones, tablets, TV screens and computers. If you spend a considerable amount of time looking at a screen, be sure to take regular breaks to avoid eye fatigue and strain. Just remember the 20-20-20 rule—every 20 minutes, take a break and look away from your screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Staring at a screen can also dry out your eyes. When you take a break, look at other objects around you and blink regularly. Even small breaks can help keep your eyes and body from feeling the strain of spending too much time on devices.
  6. Get a Checkup
    To help keep your eyes healthy, be sure to have regular checkups with your ophthalmologist. After age 65, it’s a good idea to see an eye doctor every year or two. An ophthalmologist can check for eye diseases including glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Catching these diseases early makes them easier to treat, so it’s a good idea to get regular eye checkups.

There’s a lot you can do to be proactive about eye health to preserve your eyesight for many years to come.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Poor sleep, or not getting enough sleep, can certainly make a person grumpy and irritable. Sleep loss can also have a big impact on your health, making you more susceptible to sickness and more serious conditions like depression. Getting a good night’s sleep every night is very important for general health and wellness, and that’s as true for seniors as it is for anyone else.

As we age, sometimes it can be harder to get a full night’s rest. Many seniors are more sensitive to environmental factors that can interrupt sleep, such as noise and temperature. Sometimes older adults struggle with feeling tired and wanting to go to bed very early and then waking up very early, which can interfere with normal routine and family activities. It’s important to know that these changes in sleep are common as we age, but that doesn’t mean you should live with poor sleep.

Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep and ensure a full night’s rest:

Exercise

Exercise is very important for a quality, restful sleep. Exercising regularly, as little as 10 minutes per day, helps you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more rested. Exercise reduces stress and helps you expend energy, making it easier to fall asleep. Exercising outdoors also helps regulate your circadian rhythm through exposure to the sun. Exercise at the same time of day if possible, no more than three hours before bedtime.

Be Social

Want to sleep better? Make sure you have social time with family and friends. Isolation among seniors leads to anxiety, depression and other health issues that can all affect sleep. Staying social is important to senior health and can help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Cool Down

Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and keep in mind that 70 degrees tends to be ideal sleeping temperature. If you like to keep your home on the warm side, be sure to turn down the thermostat at night to ensure a restful sleep.

Screens Off

Phones, tablets and TVs all give off a type of artificial blue light that can negatively impact our sleep. This type of light depletes melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep. Give yourself a good chance at a good night’s sleep and turn off all screens at least 30-60 minutes before you turn out the light. Instead, read a book or take a hot bath. Nighttime rituals help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Natural Light

Be sure to get some exposure to daylight every day. This will help your body maintain your circadian rhythm, or natural sleep cycle. Spending time outdoors and making sure your home gets plenty of natural light are both good ways to boost your light exposure. Natural light in the afternoon is especially helpful to maintaining a sleep schedule.

Sleep is a basic and important element of your health. Making sure you are getting seven to eight quality hours of sleep per night is a good investment in your health!

Managing Stress

In recent years, doctors and researchers have started to better understand how stress impacts the body. Ongoing stress can be bad for your mental and physical health, resulting in conditions like anxiety, depression and heart problems. Even after retirement, seniors aren’t immune from the effects of stress. Life changes and worrying about health and finances can be major stressors for older adults. But don’t let this stress you out, too! There are many things you can do to manage stress, which will help improve your overall health and well-being as you age. Managing stress can also help you avoid other health issues such as stroke, diabetes, decreased immune function and high blood pressure. The solution can be as simple as setting aside time for yourself every day, unplugging from technology, taking a walk, meditating or taking part in light exercise.

Read on to learn how managing stress can help you keep your body and mind healthy:

Exercise

Studies have shown that staying active is good for the body, the mind and your mood. Regular exercise, whether walking, yoga or swimming, can boost your mood and minimize the long-term effects of stress on your body. Exercise reduces fatigue, improves concentration, promotes cognitive function and produces endorphins. Our brains use endorphins as a natural mood booster and painkiller. Staying active also improves self-esteem and helps you sleep better, which in return also reduces stress.

Stay Social

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can cause stress and other health problems for seniors. As we grow older, our social networks tend to shrink. Retirement, changes in mobility and distance from friends and family can all lead to a smaller social circle. To counteract this, make an effort to stay involved in the community. Regularly interacting and sharing memories with other people will help build your social network and boost cognitive function. Joining group activities can also make it easier to do things like exercise regularly, laugh and try new hobbies, all of which relieve stress.

Diet

If you’re feeling stressed, look carefully at your diet. Too much sugar and not enough protein can easily leave you feeling hungry and anxious. A nutritious diet includes healthy fats, high-quality protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Certain types of foods are beneficial for the brain and can help regulate mood and keep your brain function and memory sharp. Eating organic, high-quality protein like fish, eggs, nuts, milk and beans can improve mood and brain activity. These foods contain nutrients and healthy fats that help the brain work properly by boosting the hormones that regulate mood and prevent stress, anxiety and depression.

Laugh

If you’re feeling stressed, sometimes you need a quick pick-me-up. Laughter is a fast way to feel better and has long-term benefits for reducing stress and improving your health. Much like exercise, laughter releases endorphins and other similar chemicals, which can help reduce pain and instantly lift your mood. Laughing is also associated with the release of other hormones that boost your immune system. The physical act of laughing improves blood circulation and helps your body relax. Incorporate a daily belly laugh into your life by watching your favorite funny show, calling a friend who makes you laugh or reading the comics in the newspaper.

Self-Care

Are you taking time out for yourself every day? Be sure to schedule at least five to ten minutes per day for meditation, quiet reflection, reading or another activity that you enjoy. Daily self-care helps you slow down and lets your brain focus when your mind might otherwise be racing with worry. These activities can lower your stress levels by shifting your focus to something positive. Much like exercise, activities and treatments like massage, deep breathing and acupuncture also produce mood-boosting endorphins.

It’s true that stress and aging often go hand-in-hand, but that doesn’t mean you have to let stress weigh you down. By focusing on a healthy lifestyle and engaging in activities like self-care, laughter and exercise, you can beat the negative effects of stress to live agelessly.