The fifth commandment instructs us to “honor your mother and your father.” Last time I checked, there is no social commandment instructing our elders to hide their gray. The veneration that our tradition gives to a person with gray hair is undermined by a nip-and-tuck culture. People in large numbers persist in trying to mask the natural effects of aging, which creates a false hierarchy of youth and communicates that those who are older are less valued.
It’s time we got over it. The statistics are quite clear: We are living in a time when the oldest in our society are the fastest-growing portion of the population. And yet it is also clear that people over 85 are frequently marginalized, lonely and alienated from the larger community. Significant change is needed.
As part of our commitment to improve the lives of older adults, we like to cull our resources and ask our senior care experts to share their expertise or advice on a number of senior health concerns by regularly contributing articles for our website and blog.
We recently pulled 50 of these articles together into a downloadable ebook, “ReAge Your Personal Health: A wellness guide for older adults,” which contains many of the articles featured on our main site and blog.
Have you noticed that acupuncture has been appearing in the media more and more over the past couple of years? Articles have graced the black and white pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and color spreads appeared in Time and Newsweek magazines. Television talk shows abound with info on how acupuncture is good for back pain, knee pain, and the nausea of chemotherapy.
Acupuncture – which is one part of Chinese Medicine, has been used around the world for the past 2000 years. Originating in China, the use of very fine stainless steel needles inserted into specific points over the entire body has become a treatment choice for millions of people.
I often hear my patients say, “If only people spoke more clearly, I wouldn’t have as much trouble hearing.” Although damage to the hair cells of the inner ear does cause some inherent distortion in the received speech signal, it is true that clear spoken speech CAN make listening easier for hearing impaired people. Research suggests that in less than an hour, partners of people with a hearing loss can improve their ability to be understood by 40% or more, even in noisy backgrounds. So, what IS “clear speech”?
• Speaking slightly slower, with more precise pronunciation
It’s one of the most simple, but important things you can do for your body – drink plenty of water. Next to oxygen, water is the most significant nutrient your body needs to function properly. It makes up nearly 70 percent of the human body and plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function, including regulating temperature and carrying nutrients throughout the body.
I often remind my patients of ways to stay hydrated because without proper fluid intake, the body becomes dehydrated. Untreated severe dehydration can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death. Seniors must take extra precautions because their thirst mechanism is not as sensitive as it once was and they are often not aware that they have become dangerously dehydrated.
While tiny in size, mosquitoes can still manage to be pesky and persistent insects. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk during the warmer months.
Mosquitoes can be responsible for transmitting West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) viruses to humans. We hear a lot about these viruses during the early fall, as that’s when mosquitoes are most likely to carry them. Researchers believe West Nile and EEE are spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person. While it’s rare to contract West Nile or EEE virus, severe cases can be life threatening, and old age is considered a risk factor for both viruses.
It’s no secret that seniors are often taking more than one prescription medication. As we age, we are more likely to develop chronic illnesses – and frequently need medication to lead healthy and active lives. However, medications in older adults come with safety concerns, especially when multiple prescriptions are involved. There are more chances for overdoses, under-doses and dangerous side effects.
Every year, nearly 1.5 million fractures are attributed to osteoporosis. But what causes bone disease and how can you protect yourself from it?
These are important questions – ones that scientists at the Musculoskeletal Research Center in Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research have devoted their careers to, as well as identifying all health risks associated with bone disease. While we know osteoporosis occurs when bodies lose bone or make too little of it, what causes bones to fracture more easily with age is still not completely understood.
Use it or lose it. That’s the basic philosophy behind maintaining cognitive abilities later in life. For busy adults, this can be easy enough. Days are filled juggling work, appointments and household chores, providing plenty of stimulation to keep cognitive thinking skills sharp. I, however, often see seniors adjusting to a slower daily pace and it can take more effort to create opportunities to exercise these skills regularly. According to a major study completed by the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, it is worth that extra effort.
We often hear about the importance of losing weight – and the struggles that come along with it. The truth, however, is that maintaining a healthy weight can be just as challenging. Once you reach an ideal weight, seniors should still evaluate food choices and commit to exercising regularly. It’s truly about embracing an overall healthy lifestyle.
This lifestyle is rewarded with significant health benefits including lowering your risk for certain conditions including diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.