Archive | August 2012

Happiness is Only a Thought Away

Positive thinking, self-growth, thinking yourself to success – so much has been said about these subjects, but is it really achievable?  The truth is that the power of our minds to influence our actions cannot be underestimated.

Not everybody believes or accepts the power of positive thinking.  But there is undeniable truth that negative thoughts, words and attitudes bring up negative and unhappy moods and actions.  Negativity breeds more negativity, a vicious, never-ending cycle that can only lead to failure, frustration and disappointment.  Conversely, positive thinking will do the exact opposite; positive thoughts lead to positive actions which lead to a happier, healthier, more successful life.

So how do we turn positive thinking into positive living?  The first step is to decide that you can be a more positive person.  Many people have trouble with this first step, coming up with all sorts of excuses (“I’m stuck in a lousy job”, “I’m never going to have a successful long-term relationship”, etc.) as to why they cannot be more positive.  But, know this, no matter what your life is like, choosing to be more positive is entirely your choice to make.

Next, you need to commit 100% to the idea of positive thinking and positive living.  Now this is harder than simply choosing to be positive.  This commitment requires you to remain positive even when things seem to be going wrong in every way possible.  The truth is that the most successful people are those who think, act and live their positive attitude.

Positive living requires commitment, persistence and hard work. But once you’ve trained your mind to habitually remove all negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, you will find yourself in a better position to achieve the success, happiness and the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Staying Healthy and Active at Home – Wherever That May Be

Staying Healthy and Active at Home – Wherever That May Be.

Staying Healthy and Active at Home – Wherever That May Be

While statistics tell us that most older Americans prefer to “age in place” and stay in their homes and communities, some because of health or other reasons, may decide to reside in a long term care facility such as an assisted living or a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  Whether it’s at home or one of these choices, there are factors to be considered.  A facility can wonderful if it’s chosen with care and with the right attitude.

Whether the older individual makes their own choice about their care or has a caregiver or family member help them, there are certain things to remember:

Home Care –  Home care can be either medical or non-medical.  Caregivers can assist with bathing, dressing, household chores, cooking and bill-paying, or they can administer medications or IV therapy, monitor vital signs, and provide wound care, among other tasks.  Depending on the level of care required, an in-home caregiver can be your family member or a Certified Nursing Assistant or someone in between.  Your local Area Agency on Aging will have information on services and people available.  They will also have a Care Coordinator or Care Manager who is qualified to help develop a plan of care and make recommendations.  You can find your local Area Agency on Aging at Eldercare Locator.

Alzheimer’s Care or Skilled Care — More than ever, special care focused on individuals with Alzheimer’s or other types of memory loss/cognitive impairments is available, either in a stand-alone facility or as part of a continuing care/assisted living/long term care community.  These facilities provide specialized care and assistance necessary to caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Again, your local Area Agency on Aging will have information and referral services to these facilities.  You can also get information at the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Assisted Living – This type of care is essentially an in-between: residents need varying levels of assistance here; most of the care is non-medical in nature.  When looking at assisted living facilities, check for staffing levels, especially at night.  There should be adequate staff to provide cover 24 hours per day.  The assisted living should also provide recreation and socialization activities on a regular and frequent basis.

Independent Living — From senior apartments to retirement complexes to active adult communities, this housing option offers engagement with peers, and independence with the option of turning over household and property maintenance to the community’s staff.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities – In a CCRC, an individual can enter into the community living independently in a cottage or apartment, then as the individual’s medical or personal care requirements increase, they can move within the community to facilities with advanced levels of care.  This way, the older individual remains within their community and with the staff and neighbors they know.

Nursing Homes — Though not as popular given the other options available today, some seniors may still require the skilled services provided in a nursing home.  Choosing a nursing home can be a challenging endeavor.  You can find quality measures for all nursing homes at data.medicare.gov

Once the facility’s been chosen, there may be a period of adjustment as the older individual moves in.  If you’re a family member or caregiver with someone in a long term care facility, there a actions you can take to help with the transition:

  1. Take a walk. Don’t let weather interfere; if they can’t walk outside,  they walk up and down and through the halls of the community. It’s imperative that they get up and move to the greatest extent possible.  When you visit, walk with them.
  2. Find things to do that promote social interaction and personal enrichment. Help them check out the activities calendar for events and programs of interest.  Participate together when you come for a visit.
  3. Meet people in the dining room.  Maybe your father prefers to read books alone in his apartment. Perhaps your grandmother would rather not play Bingo every Tuesday afternoon. That’s OK, as long as they take advantage of opportunities to socialize and connect with their peers at meal time.  Enjoy a meal together during one of your visits and encourage these interactions.
  4. Make sure there are healthy food options.  You should do this before you move in!!  If the menu is lacking in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other good-for-you foods, speak up, or if there is a place for safe food storage in Mom’s apartment, bring some fresh items with you when you visit (either for snacks in-between — or to supplement — community meals).

Again, while “Aging in Place” is preferable to most, living in a long term care facility doesn’t have to be depressing or sad.  There are wonderful facilities with caring and compassionate staffs who are dedicated to providing the best quality of life for their residents.  With a little research and visiting, your loved one will make the decision that’s right for them.

The State of Older Americans 2012

The number of older people who have high incomes has increased substantially in the past 30 years according to the study Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well Being published by the Federal Interagency on Aging Related Statistics.  The study examines the health, finances and well being of the 65+ population in America by presenting data on 37 critical aspects of aging Americans’ lives in categories including population, economics and health care.

For example, the study shows that while some older Americans are doing better, 9% are still living in poverty (defined as below the poverty thresh hold – currently $15,130 annually for a family of two) and another 26% are in the low income group (defined as at or up to 199% of the poverty thresh hold so about $30,620 a year for a family of two).  Additionally, the proportion of seniors living off high income has increased from 18% in 1974 to 31% in 2010. Middle income seniors make up the largest economic group at 31%.

While the proportion of older Americans who are considered “high income” increased and middle-income seniors now account for the biggest proportion of the population, housing continues to account for the largest proportion of total household expenditures for the aging population.  About four in ten seniors spend more than one-third of their expenditures on housing costs, resulting in a “housing burden,” and many also face overcrowded and physically inadequate housing, according to the survey.

The statistics on our older Veterans are pretty amazing.  According to Census 2000, there were 9.7 million veterans age 65 and over in the United States and Puerto Rico. Two out of three men age 65 and older were Veterans.  The study discovered that more than 95 percent of veterans age 65 and over are male.  As World War II veterans continue to die and Vietnam veterans continue to age, the number of male veterans age 65 and over will gradually decline from 9.4 million in 2000 to a projected 8.4 million in 2020. ƒ

The increase in the proportion of men age 85 and over who are veterans is striking.  The number of men age 85 and over who are veterans increased from 400,000 in 2000 to almost 1.3 million in 2010.  The proportion of men age 85 and over who are veterans increased from 33 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2010.  Additionally, between 2000 and 2010, the number of female veterans age 85 and over increased from about 30,000 to 97,000 but is projected to decrease to 60,000 by 2020.

Unsurprisingly, the use of long-term care services increases with age, but the percentage of total healthcare costs spent on long-term care and skilled nursing facilities by Medicare beneficiaries actually decreased from 20% in 1992 to 2009. The proportion of income spent on long-term care and nursing facilities has also gone down, according to the study.

Americans aged 85 and older are the most likely group to use health care outside of their home.  This makes sense since this population is normally the most frail and are often afflicted with more than one chronic condition.  Women age 75 or older are the most likely to live alone – over 47%.  The survey reports 14% of seniors aged 85+ live in long-term care facilities and 8% live in community housing offering assistance with daily activities. Only 3% of seniors aged 65-74 live in care facilities.

The report also shows that as seniors age, they invest more time in leisure activities, with watching television as the most common activity among seniors surveyed. On the other hand, only 11% of seniors report using leisure time for aerobic or strength building activities.

For the full report

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being.

Taking Charge of Your Life and Your Health

Aging is a natural process, but how we age is mostly up to us.  Some of it is attitude, some of it is perseverance, some of it is genetics (that’s the part we may not be able to impact much).  The good news is that we can impact our attitude and with perseverance, our health.   As we all know, as we age, our body changes.  We can develop wrinkles and crows feet, gain weight, lose weight, develop cellulite, and ache in places we forgot existed.

You have options:
Get out of the house.  If you want to impact both your attitude and your health, join an exercise group. Take in some vitamin D.  You only need ten minutes in the sunshine to get your daily allotment of Vitamin D, and again it’s a twofer – health and attitude.  To make it a triple play, add in a 30 minute walk or even better, a home run and ask a friend (new or old) to walk with you.

Eat healthy.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are great for you and man, are they good.  Watch your portions and when you eat.  Eat your biggest meal in the morning, gradually reducing your calorie intake with each following meal.  Eat healthy snacks between meals, getting plenty of protein.  Drink water, drink water, drink water!  Try for 64 to 80 ounces per day.  Treat yourself once or twice a week.  If you completely eliminate all guilty pleasures from your diet, there goes your attitude.  Take a good multivitamin and women should take additional calcium.  Talk with your doctor about any additional supplements.

Get plenty of sleep.  This is so underrated and such a great way to stay healthy.  I mean, who doesn’t love a good nap?  It’s important, though, that the sleep be restful.

What keeps you awake?  Do you or your significant other snore?  Snoring can be caused by a variety of things, including obesity, a sleep disorder or sinus problems.  If you’re exercising and eating right, the snoring may get better.  Of course, if it’s your significant other, ear plugs can help.  If the snoring is extreme, a visit to the doctor may be in order.

Depression and stress can also keep us from getting a restful night’s sleep.  Getting out of the house can help with depression.  Socializing with friends is even better. You can volunteer and give back at the same time you get better.   Sometimes depression is more than your environment.  If you’re out and about, but can’t seem to shake the blues, see your doctor.  Depression can take over your life and if does, you may not be able to get out of it alone.

If it’s stress, try yoga.  Yoga has a myriad of benefits including helping to develop meditation skills and meditation will help you relax.  If you’re uncomfortable starting out in a Yoga class, try it at home first.  There are good  videos to get you started and you don’t need much more than your carpet or a Yoga mat.  As you get more confident, please consider joining a class.  It helps to have an instructor to check on your pose and you’ll make new friends.

Aromatherapy and listening to music will also help you to relax.   Or try a massage once in while, even better if you do it with a friend.

Don’t exercise before going to bed.  Exercise will get you all pumped up.  Increasing your heart rate before bed won’t help you relax.   If you can, try and exercise in the morning.  It will boost your energy and you won’t be distracted by what the day brings.  If  you can’t make a morning workout happen, just try and get a workout in.  Again, it doesn’t have to be a big deal.  A 30 minute walk is all it takes.  You can even break it into 10 or 15 minute segments and space them throughout the day.  It helps to break it up and do something different on different days.  Try walking on Monday, Yoga on Tuesday, and break dancing on Wednesday.  What, no break dancing?  Then try Zumba or lift some weights.  Work out at your own pace.  Do what your body says you can do.  As you continue your work outs, your body will do more.

You can, of course, work out later in the day.  If this works for you, just remember to finish up at least two hours before you go to bed.  And remember to drink water before, during and after your work out.  Also, if you are just starting out, please consult with your physician first.

If you don’t seem to be having any luck and are still waking up in the morning feeling like you haven’t had any sleep, consult your physician.

Of course, sometimes your physical environment is impacting your ability to rest.  If it’s arguing neighbors or violence in the streets keeping you awake, that’s a different story.  Talk with your neighbors about the noise and get an alarm system or a big dog.  Or both.

If you feel you can’t safely walk in your neighborhood, try to find a park with lit walking paths and lots of people.  Or walk around the track at a neighborhood school.  And again, walk with a partner or in a group.

The main idea is to take charge of your life and how you live it.  Make good decisions now and you will reap the benefits later.  You know, maybe it is all about attitude…

HMC Associates – Home

HMC Associates – Rileyville, VA. Helping you make life better!

via HMC Associates – Home.

Boomers Staying Healthy and Feeling Young!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could go to a fountain of youth and stay young forever?  Yet, we all have to face getting old, it’s a fact of life.  However, you can impact the quality of your life as you age.   Paying attention to your diet and exercising regularly as two of the best ways to stay healthy and age well.   Take care of yourself and you will feel and look younger than you are.

Everyone young and old, we all need to take care of our bodies and minds.  Taking care of ourselves, keeps us thinking and moving and helps prevent major illnesses.   We all have to work at keeping ourselves healthy and there is no better time than right now. The younger you start taking care of yourself the better it is.

So start right now by eating healthy.  Keep an eye on that diet and make sure you’re not overeating.  Portion control is a must.  Eat fresh foods high in vitamins. Processed foods lose much of their nutritional value, so try and eat fresh whenever possible.  A good multivitamin will supplement what you don’t get in your food.

For most of us, stress is a regular part of life.  A regular exercise program is good for all ages and helps relieve stress.  Try and exercise for 30 minutes a day.  If you get bored, switch it up – walk one day, then do yoga the next.  Throw in a little strength training with hand weights to increase your bone density.  You can even swim or do water Zumba.  Don’t give up!  If you can stick with it for three months, chances are you’ll do it for a lifetime.  Don’t forget to exercise your brain!  Crossword puzzles, sudoku, brain teasers, even solitaire, are great ways to keep your mind healthy.

Exercising, especially yoga, will help the older person to keep those bones flexible so they don’t get stiff and weak.  Exercise also benefits the heart.  Exercising helps keep our bodies toned and helps us lose weight, or at least maintain our weight.  Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.  This is especially important if you’ve been sedentary for a while.

Depression is almost an epidemic among older Americans.  Getting out and giving back helps prevent depression.  Get out and socialize.  Volunteer.  Visit different places, do the things that you have not done but always wanted to do.  Perhaps you can take a trip to Paris or England or even learn to scuba dive.

Remember, to feel  good you have to stay healthy.   In order to do that you have to exercise, eat right and stay as active as you can.  Also, remember to visit doctor before starting diets, exercise or taking supplements and vitamins.

Getting older may not be preventable, but how we do it is really up to us!  Age Well!