Peach Tree Times
Some of our articles have been written by guest writers
Peach Tree Times
Many people benefit from an animal companion. Whether it's a dog, cat, or another animal entirely, having a pet can help boost your well-being.
In October 2018, the National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed a national sample of adults age 50-80 about their pets. 55% of adults surveyed said they had a pet. Of those with pets, more than half had multiple pets.
Benefits of Pet Ownership
Taking care of plants can have a great impact on your physical and emotional well-being. It calls you outside into the sun and encourages you to do something you care about.
Did you know that one in four Americans over 65 falls each year? One in five of these falls will cause a serious injury, like a broken bone or head injury.
According to the National Council on Aging, "Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+."
Even if a person is not injured by the fall, they may develop a fear of falling, which may cause them to stop doing some of the everyday activities that they enjoy. This can lead to depression and a lack of independence.
There are many factors that increase the risk of falls, such as vision problems or certain medications. However, there are many ways to lower the risk of you or a loved one falling.
Elderly scooters are excellent products for seniors. They enable seniors to be independent, visit friends, go shopping and enjoy their community.
1) Is An Elderly Scooter A Good Idea?
Consumers Advocate - Decisions Made Easy
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Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as "senility" or "senile dementia," which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging.
While symptoms of dementia can vary great at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.
Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or someone you know is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don't ignore them. See a doctor soon to determine the cause. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition.
Even if symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and provides an opportunity to volunteer for clinical trials or studies. It also provides time to plan for the future.
Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain.
For example, in Alzheimer's disease, high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That's why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's.
While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:
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The maze of Medicare has a lot going on. With government and private companies offering different kinds of healthcare coverage, how are you supposed to know what to do? According to CNBC, 70 percent of soon-to-be retirees wish they had a better grasp of Medicare. Sadly, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what is covered by Medicare, what the program costs, and what other options are available to seniors. Hopefully, this quick guide can clear things up.
All of Medicare’s Parts
First, it's important to understand the difference between Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D. In general, Part A covers medically necessary hospital expenses, including lab tests and surgeries. Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctor’s visits and physical therapy. Part C, known as Medicare Advantage, is additional coverage offered by private companies. Finally, Part D covers prescription drugs and is also available through private insurance. For a more detailed explanation, check out this article from the Balance.
Your Additional Coverage Options
Due to all the confusion surrounding Medicare, many seniors don't look into their extra coverage options. Only one-third of eligible seniors are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, but most people can benefit from the additional coverage. Though Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies, they are still regulated by the government and must provide the same coverage as the federal plans. However, they often include an array of additional coverage benefits. For example, Humana Medicare Advantage plans provide vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage, as well as free gym memberships through Silver Sneakers.
What You Have to Pay
Cost is another aspect of Medicare that is misunderstood. Many people are under the impression that the federal Medicare program (Part A and B) is free to seniors over the age of 65. While Part A is free for most Americans, everyone must pay a monthly premium for Part B. You will also have to pay out-of-pocket for about 20 percent of your medical expenses.
Where Medigap Comes In
Medigap, like Medicare Advantage, is a private insurance option for seniors who are eligible for Medicare. Medigap insurance covers the out-of-pocket expenses that come with Original Medicare, essentially filling the gaps in coverage. Many Medigap plans also pay for services that are not covered by Original Medicare, such as foreign travel insurance. However, Medicare Advantage usually eliminates the need for Medigap.
Choosing the Right Plan for Your Needs
You can’t have both Medicare Advantage and Medigap at the same time, so choosing a plan for your additional coverage can be tricky. Forbes recommends thinking of Medicare Advantage as an alternative form of Medicare that offers additional benefits on top of regular Medicare. Medigap is more like a coverage supplement, helping you pay your out-of-pocket expenses. Medicare Advantage plans replace Medicare, while Medigap plans are combined with Medicare.
Put careful thought into your Medicare decision because you can only switch your plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period near the end of each year. Consider what kinds of medical services you use. For example, if you require vision care, hearing aids, or prescription drugs, a Medicare Advantage plan might be your best option. Medicare Advantage plans tend to have lower premiums than Medigap plans, but you may be left paying more out-of-pocket for your services. Just make sure the plan you choose covers the doctors, clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals that you prefer. If you like to travel, you may also want to check that your plan will cover your medical costs in different states.
It will take some time to learn everything you need to know about Medicare. Don't rush the process. Consider your options carefully so you can take full advantage of this beneficial healthcare coverage. When you're covered properly, you'll be able to use all the health services you need to stay happy and healthy in retirement while minimizing your financial concerns.
*Written by Sharon Wagner
Most people see their sleep habits shift as they age, but a new review suggests that some seniors lose the ability to get deep, restorative rest.
And that can come with health consequences, said review author Bryce Mander, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
Sleep "fragmentation" has been linked to a number of medical conditions, including depression and dementia, Mander said. People with fragmented sleep wake up multiple times during the night and miss out on the deep stages of sleep.
It is true that medical conditions, or the treatments for them, can cause sleep problems, according to Mander.
Take dementia, for example. Research suggests there is a "bi-directional" link between sleep disruptions and the dementia process, said Joe Winer, another Berkeley researcher who worked on the review.
Dementia often causes sleep problems. Poor sleep, in turn, may speed declines in memory and other mental skills. According to Winer, animal research suggests that deep sleep helps "clear" the brain of the amyloid-beta proteins that build up in people with dementia.
So there may be a "vicious cycle," Winer said, where dementia and poor sleep feed each other.
Similar vicious cycles may be at work with other diseases, too, Mander said. He also stressed, though, that some shifts in sleep habits may be perfectly normal.
Older people are famously prone to being "early to bed, early to rise." They may also sleep a little less than they used to in their younger days. And that may be fine, the researchers said.
"We don't want to create a panic that if you're sleeping a little less than you used to, you're going to develop dementia," Mander said.
But, he added, it is important to recognize sleep as one of the lifestyle factors critical to good health -- right along with exercise and a healthy diet.
In fact, Mander noted, one reason that regular exercise keeps us healthy is that it can support better-quality sleep.
"Why do some people age more 'successfully' than others?" he said. "We think sleep is one of the factors."
Dr. Sanjeev Kothare, a sleep specialist who was not involved in the study, said poor sleep "clearly" has health consequences.
Sleep apnea is a good example, said Kothare, of the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy-Sleep Center, in New York City.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes repeated stops and starts in breathing during the night, and it's linked to major diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research al stern University in Chicago. She said sleep quality is more important than "duration."
So if older people are sleeping a little less than they used to -- or wake up once at night then quickly fall back asleep -- that's probably not a red flag, according to Zee.
But, she said, older adults should talk to their doctor if they routinely sleep less than six hours a night, or lack long "consolidated" blocks of sleep.
In some cases, Zee said, sleep apnea may be to blame. In other cases, people may need lifestyle adjustments that can improve their sleep. The good news, Zee said, is that "behavioral and environmental changes are powerful."
Older people can improve their sleep by fitting physical and social activity into their daily routine, Zee said. At night, she suggested they make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortable and limit exposure to artificial light -- especially the blue glow of computer and TV screens.
Zee also stressed the importance of getting enough daylight, in the morning and afternoon: That helps keep the body's circadian rhythms (the sleep-wake cycle) on track.
But people should not wait until old age to care about sleep. According to Mander's team, people often start losing the capacity for deep sleep in middle age, and that decline continues over the years.
What's not clear yet, Mander said, is whether good sleep habits earlier in life help protect people from sleep problems in old age.
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When a typical person gets up in the morning, they sit up and throw their feet over the edge of the bed. Then they stand and walk to the bathroom. They take care of toileting, then shower, brush their teeth and many other activities to prepare themselves for the day.
When it comes time to think about food, they plan a menu, shop for the foods they want to eat and prepare their meals. Next, they sit down to eat. After the meal, they clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes.
All these activities, and many others, are referred to as Activities of Daily Living.
What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?
Activities of Daily Living or ADLs is a term used by healthcare professionals to refer to the basic self-care tasks an individual does on a day-to-day basis.
These activities are fundamental in caring for oneself and maintaining independence. An individual's ability or inability to perform ADLs is often used by health professionals as a way of measuring an individual’s functional status, especially that of older adults or those with disabilities.
Basic ADLs, sometimes referred to as BADLs, are self-care activities routinely performed which include, but are not limited to:
As a person ages, ADLs slowly become more difficult to accomplish independently and gradually take more time to complete. Certain health issues, such as a stroke, or accidents, such as a fall, also affect a person’s ability to accomplish ADLs, sometimes dramatically.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living or IADLs are not essential for basic functioning; however, they enable a person to live independently within a community. They’re generally more complex than basic ADLs.
IADLs are made up of activities which include, but are not limited to:
Being able to perform both ADLs and IADLs is important for seniors to be able to successfully and safely live independently.
How are the ADLs Used in Senior Care?
Together, ADLs and IADLs make up the skills a person generally needs to successfully and safely live independently.
Therefore, a person’s ability or inability to perform ADLs and IADLs is used to gauge their need for care and/or occupational or physical therapy. Most healthcare service models use evaluations such as the Katz ADL Index to determine and evaluate their patient’s proficiencies and to then develop appropriate care plans to ensure all care needs are met.
Physical therapists prescribe exercise to help patients gain and/or maintain their independence based on ADL proficiencies. Prescribed exercises are based on an individual’s problematic ADLs. For example, slow walking speed is associated with an increased risk for falls; therefore, exercises are prescribed to impact and improve ambulation (an ADL proficiency) to reduce fall risk.
When completing patient assessments, occupational therapists often assess a patient's proficiency of IADLs. There are twelve types of IADLs that the American Occupational Therapy Association recognizes as necessary to live in co-occupation with others:
Physicians, geriatric social workers, rehabilitation specialists and others in senior care often evaluate a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs as part of a functional assessment. Difficulties performing IADLs may signal early dementia and Alzheimer's. Evaluations of IADLs are used to make a diagnostic evaluation and influence decisions on the type of care an older adult may require.
A new study suggests brain plasticity in early dementia may be a cause for memory loss but that it can improve the function of other parts of the brain as well.
Learn more about the research and how you may be able to prevent dementia or delay the progression of the disease.
Brain Plasticity and MemoryA study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal offers a new strategy to slow the loss of memory and prevent dementia – and it revolves around brain plasticity and memory.
Dementia is thought to begin in the part of the brain responsible for forming memories, the hippocampus. Large amounts of protein can build up, creating amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain. This buildup causes healthy brain cells to lose function and start to die. However, brain plasticity gives us hope.
Brain plasticity refers to the way the brain is able to change and rebuild. When the brain is able to change how it functions, damage to your working memory can be improved.
The JAMA study suggests that the lower brain plasticity in early dementia may be why there is a loss in working memory as the disease progresses.
The study also suggests that strong plasticity can improve the function of other parts of your brain, which will slow the progression of and/or prevent dementia.
3 Ways to Strengthen Your Memory to Prevent Dementia
The old adage “use it or lose it” again proves true. The more you use your brain, the stronger it stays.
The following recommendations on how to improve your memory are simple but can have an enormous impact on strengthening your memory and preventing dementia:
1. Build up your relationships.
*Referenced from a place for mom