Staying Independent with Age

The Importance of Independence

By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

Seniors in high school and seniors in their golden years may not like the same music, watch the same movies or show off the same dance moves, but they do have one thing in common. Both groups desire a more independent lifestyle.

Although what it means to live independently can change drastically as we age, independence is an essential part of what it means to be human. It means making your own decisions about how and where you live, who you spend time with, and what you spend time doing. It contributes toward the creation and preservation of our sense of self.

The way we spend our time and energy speaks volumes about who we are as people. And when we no longer have the ability to choose what we do and how we do it, it can be extremely difficult to maintain a sense of ownership over our own lives. However, those who are blessed with longevity will likely require assistance at some point.

One area where independence is keenly sensed, for both teenagers and their elders, is in the area of transportation. Particularly in American culture, driving signifies independent adulthood. A driver’s license is something that is dreamed about and looked forward to by the young, and not relinquished without a fight by the old. It means we can come and go as we please, and that’s certainly something that is hard to give up.

Maintaining an Independent spirit 

Sometimes being independent as we age means finding creative ways to maintain independence despite obstacles. For example, The Silver Runner Transportation service is one creative way for seniors who no longer drive to maintain transportation independence. The Silver Runner offers transportation for errands and appointments as well as group and private outings to help maintain a healthy social life.

Experiencing difficulty with mobility does not mean that you can no longer visit the places that you love. However, it may mean that you need to rethink the way that you visit these places. Enlisting the help of a mobility manager or other cargiver can be a great way to ensure a successful trip. You may also need to talk with a medical professional about how a walker, cane or self-propelling wheelchair could be used to increase your mobility and independence.

Because of new rules in America and across Europe to accommodate those with disabilities, traveling for those who have trouble walking long distances is even more possible than it has ever been. If you or a loved one have trouble getting around, but want to travel, the sky is the limit! To make your vacation a success, be sure to arrange for the assistance you need in airports and consider hiring help with ground travel and luggage.

Lastly, sometimes being independent means knowing when to ask for help. As we age, this may mean hiring an advisor to be your advocate, a person you can consult with to assist with many difficult decisions that must be made. You may also wish to create advance planning documents so that your choices are known and honored in the event that you are unable to express yourself later down the road.

The Geriatric Care Management team is available to listen to what is important to you or your loved one. We value and respect the unique qualities of each aging person, evaluate their needs, and locate the best resources to maximize that person’s level of independence.

Being independent is important at every age. Geriatric Care Management and The Silver Runner are committed to helping seniors remain as independent as possible, while also receiving a high level of care. Please contact us with questions or to schedule a consultation
(505) 897-3009.

Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations

Many are unaware of the fact that it’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to hallucinate—to see things that are not really there. This fascinating interview with a man living with the disease provides an inside look into what life with Alzheimer’s can be like. Read about it or listen to the audio interview at NPR.

Balance Exercises for Seniors

Finding Balance
By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

We often hear about the importance of achieving balance in our daily lives. We know that we need to find work-life balance. We need to slow down and weigh the significance of our activities. We need to balance others’ expectations with our own ability to meet them. We should eat healthy, balanced meals.

However, there is one kind of balance that you may not be thinking about as much as you should be—your ability to maintain physical balance.

When was the last time you paid attention to how well you can, for example, stand on one foot? If your answer is sometime in a distant high school physical education class, pay attention. It turns out that this skill is more important to our health than it seems. And this is especially true as we age.

According to the National Institute on Health, each year more than one third of people older than 65 fall. And fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures, can have a serious life impact. Falls can limit activities and make it hard, even impossible, to live independently.

For this reason, we at Geriatric Care Management want to encourage everyone, especially seniors, to evaluate their balance. We urge you to take charge of this vital component to a long, healthy and independent life. To improve and maintain good balance, we suggest involving your physician in the evaluation process. You may also want to request a physical therapy evaluation.

It’s important to realize that most of us are not as agile as we were in our younger days, and we should be realistic with our own limitations to avoid physical risks that would limit us even further. A medical professional can help you to determine which exercises are right for you. You may also want to include some of the following simple exercises from the National Institute on Aging in your journey to a more balanced life.

Simple exercises to improve balance:

Stand on one foot.
Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
Repeat 10-15 times.
Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
Do 10-15 sets on each leg.
Heel to toe walk.
Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
Repeat for 20 steps.

Balance walk.
Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for one second before stepping forward.
Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

For a slideshow of more balance-related exercises to try, visit the MAYO clinic website.
And please contact us if you or a loved one need any assistance. We are here to help. Visit us on the web, or call us at 505-897-3009.

Gardening Grows Senior Health

Gardening Grows Senior Health
By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

 
It’s spring, and for many people that means it’s time to get planting. It’s no surprise that flowers lift our spirits and home-grown vegetables are more nutrient rich, but did you know that exercising your green thumb has other health benefits too?
 
According to the National Wildlife Federation, researchers at the University of Arkansas found that women 55 and older who gardened at least once a week showed higher bone density than those who did other types of exercise. In fact, their study found that yard work and strength training were the two most significant ways for subjects to build bone density! National Wildlife Federation.
 
In addition to building stronger bones and muscles, gardening can also boost your mental health. Spending time in the sunlight increases vitamin D production and can help to prevent depression.
 
Getting started
If you’re not an experienced gardener, remember it’s a good idea to start small. You really don’t have to have a large, fancy space in order to reap the benefits of gardening. Raised beds are one option, they make planting and weeding easier, and limit the amount of bending and kneeling required. You can plant both flowers and vegetables in raised bed gardens to create a beautiful and bountiful crop.
 
Another option to consider is container gardening. A surprisingly large variety of vegetables can be grown in pots including green beans, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, mustard greens and, of course, tomatoes. And you don’t need much space to grow them.
 
If you live in an apartment, you might consider turning a patio or deck into a growing space. If you’re planting in a covered space, be sure to observe and chart the sunlight that the space receives. You want to make sure that your plants get adequate light to thrive.
 
 
Safety first
Before you start growing, be sure to check in with your physician to get the “green thumbs up.” Here are some additional tips to garden safely:
 

  • Stretch before starting any gardening activities. A short warm up will help prevent injury.
  • Shift positions and change hands every 10 minutes to prevent overuse of a particular muscle group.
  • Buy your materials in smaller packages rather than lifting heavy bags, which puts undue stress on your body.
  • Work for shorter lengths of time to prevent soreness later.
  • Stay hydrated and pay attention to your body’s signals to rest.
  • Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen, and dress in lightweight clothing to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • If you experience back or knee pain, or have other conditions that limit your mobility such as arthritis, consider using adaptive gardening equipment, under the supervision of your doctor, which can be purchased online or in some gardening stores
  • Consider planting perennial plants, which often require less attention and do not need to be replanted each year.
  • Water using soaker hoses to prevent the need to lift and maneuver a heavy hose.

 
Now you’re ready to plant! To determine the best time to plant your vegetable garden, visit the Farmer’s Almanac garden plannerYou might also consult with a local expert on what vegetables grow well in your area and how much water they require as well as shade, partial sunshine, or full sun. County extension services often have local gardening programs and information. In Albuquerque, contact the Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners at 505-292-7144 or abqmastergardeners.org more information. They also publish a book called Down to Earth, which gives detailed instructions on local gardening.


Need assistance getting to the nursery? Call
The Silver Runner today to schedule a custom outing today. (505) 872-0451

Trendy and deadly

Why you shouldn’t follow the crowd when it comes to your health

By Kimberly Gyle, MSW, MSG, CMC

 
I recently attended a conference in which an expert shared the following two statistics.
 
1. In the United States, 29 million people are diagnosed with diabetes
2. Another 86 million people have prediabetes or are at risk for diabetes.

What is Prediabetes and are you at risk?

People with prediabetes, formerly called borderline diabetes, have glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to indicate diabetes. Although most people with prediabetes don’t have symptoms, they are at higher risk of developing heart disease.
 
A healthy body produces a hormone called insulin, which helps your cells use the energy (glucose) found in food. However with diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it does produce. When glucose builds up in the blood, it can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, heart, eyes and nervous system.
 
In a person with prediabetes, the subtle balance between glucose and insulin has been thrown off. If you have prediabetes, you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as the serious medical problems associated with diabetes, including heart disease and stroke. People with prediabetes have a 50% higher risk of heart disease and stroke than someone who does not have prediabetes. For more sobering statistics http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/.
 
Often, prediabetes has no signs or symptoms. But without intervention, prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes in 10 years or fewer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become part of this popular trend. So that got me thinking, what I can I do to not become one of the 86 million?
 
In a large research study called the Diabetes Prevention Program, the following lifestyle changes reduced the development of diabetes over three years by 58%.  For people age 60 or older, the reduction was an even greater 71%. 
 

  • Weight Control:  Losing 5 – 10% of excess body weight can help.
  • Exercises:  Studies have shown that moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, such as cycling, swimming or brisk walking, helps prevent and manage diabetes.
  • Nutrition:  Healthy meals that mix a balance of low-fat protein, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes.  Calorie control, portion sizes, and low sugar, low carbohydrate choices are key.  Eating adequate fiber every day helps also.  For more information on a healthy diet, seehttp://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/eating_ez/

For more information on the Diabetes Prevention Program, visit http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/preventionprogram/. And to learn more about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association:www.diabetes.org.
 

We can help

A Geriatric Care Manager can help coordinate care and services when someone is diagnosed with a chronic condition like diabetes. Geriatric Care Managers can attend doctor’s appointments, assist in life style changes and act as a lifestyle coach. They research various tools to help with the adjustment to a new diagnosis of a chronic condition. For more information, please call Geriatric Care Management at (505) 897 – 3009.