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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Use it or lose it!

BOSTON (AP) — New research boosts the "use it or lose it" theory about brainpower and staying mentally sharp. People who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, a study of nearly half a million people in France found.

It's by far the largest study to look at this, and researchers say the conclusion makes sense. Working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged — all things known to help prevent mental decline.

"For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent," said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government's health research agency.

She led the study and gave results Monday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston.

About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common type. In the U.S., about 5 million have Alzheimer's — 1 in 9 people aged 65 and over. What causes the mind-robbing disease isn't known and there is no cure or any treatments that slow its progression.

France has had some of the best Alzheimer's research in the world, partly because its former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, made it a priority. The country also has detailed health records on self-employed people who pay into a Medicare-like health system.

Researchers used these records on more than 429,000 workers, most of whom were shopkeepers or craftsmen such as bakers and woodworkers. They were 74 on average and had been retired for an average of 12 years.

Nearly 3 percent had developed dementia but the risk of this was lower for each year of age at retirement. Someone who retired at 65 had about a 15 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60, after other factors that affect those odds were taken into account, Dufouil said.

To rule out the possibility that mental decline may have led people to retire earlier, researchers did analyses that eliminated people who developed dementia within 5 years of retirement, and within 10 years of it.

"The trend is exactly the same," suggesting that work was having an effect on cognition, not the other way around, Dufouil said.

France mandates retirement in various jobs — civil servants must retire by 65, she said. The new study suggests "people should work as long as they want" because it may have health benefits, she said.

June Springer, who just turned 90, thinks it does. She was hired as a full-time receptionist at Caffi Plumbing & Heating in Alexandria, Va., eight years ago.

"I'd like to give credit to the company for hiring me at that age," she said. "It's a joy to work, being with people and keeping up with current events. I love doing what I do. As long as God grants me the brain to use I'll take it every day."

Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer's Association, said the study results don't mean everyone needs to delay retirement.

"It's more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, continue to be engaged in whatever it is that's enjoyable to you" that's important, she said.

"My parents are retired but they're busier than ever. They're taking classes at their local university, they're continuing to attend lectures and they're continuing to stay cognitively engaged and socially engaged in their lives."

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.



Alzheimer's info:

Alzheimer's Association:

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Learning to Cut Costs

As the economy improves, many people are still hanging on tight to their finances. Given the economic decline that we experienced in the last few years, this is not a bad idea for anyone. Seniors are no exception to this new habit. If your senior relative is considering ways to save more money, they can start in the following few areas.
  • Look at monthly bills – Many monthly bills are reoccurring. Take a close look at these bills to see which ones can be reduced. Many companies, especially utility companies, offer senior discounts or plans that help those on a fixed income to be able to afford the services a little easier.
  • Cut grocery costs – Your senior’s in-home care provider can help your loved one clip coupons on a weekly basis in order to cut grocery costs down. In addition, they can shop the sales at the local grocery stores and purchase store brand products rather than being brand specific, in order to save more money.
  • Join free senior activities – Many communities offer free services and entertainment for seniors. Your home health care provider can help your relative find appropriate activities to help keep him or her active without having to go over budget.
  • Plan for gift giving – Staying organized with gift giving can also help seniors save money. When they consider a majority of the gifts they will need to buy each year, they can shop at any time, paying close attention to sales rather than shopping right before the occasion. This enables them to purchase what they really want to give their loved one while saving money at the same time.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Organizing the Medicine Cabinet

The medicine cabinet is one area of anyone’s home that typically gets overlooked as a place to clean or organize. Because medicines only have a limited shelf life, it is important to go through it once in a while to remove expired medicines as well as any that might interfere with new medications a senior may be taking.
  • Start with expired medicines – Go through the cabinet at least once per year and remove any that are expired. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the proper method of disposal before tossing them though, not every medication can just be thrown in the garbage.
  • Stock up on necessities – Every medicine cabinet should have the basics, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, antiseptic for cuts and burns, bandages and remedies for stomach aches or heartburn.
  • Keep prescription medicines close – Try to avoid putting prescription medicines in the back of the cabinet where they might get ignored. If they are something that needs to be taken on a daily basis, keep them up front where they will be noticed and taken in a timely manner.
  • Talk to the doctor – Seniors should talk to their doctor about the over-the-counter medicines that are safe for them to take, including pain medicines, cold or flu medicines. Some might pose a problem if they are mixed with certain prescriptions. Knowing what is safe to take and what is not will also help keep the medicine cabinet organized.
Your senior’s in-home care professional can help him or her keep the medicine cabinet organized and free from medications that should not be in there, whether they are expired or not safe to take. This will help to ensure the safety of your senior when you cannot be there.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Travels with Seniors

Summer sometimes means more traveling and sightseeing for families. Depending on your health and abilities, you likely won’t have to change your vacation plans, but you may have to be willing to alter them a bit to make things easier for yourself. A few simple changes can help you enjoy summer plans.
  • Make plans to have a driver – Having a driver can sometimes be easier on everyone, especially if you think anyone in your party will need breaks whether to use the bathroom or simply to stretch their legs.
  • Bring plenty of supplies – While you don’t want to over pack, you want to be prepared. Have plenty of changes of clothes as well as plenty of emergency supplies including necessary and emergency medications, first aid supplies, food and water.
  • Determine necessary accommodations – If you require any special accommodations, try to arrange for them ahead of time, whether with the airlines, hotel or any other establishment to make things easier.
Before you travel, take the time to talk with your home health care to determine exactly what you will need to bring along. The person that works closely with you will have the best insight as to what will make your vacation the most comfortable and memorable as possible.

Always Best Care Senior Services provides in-home care and FREE assisted living placement!
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Misconceptions of Senior Exercising

Whether in attempts to maintain personal safety or due to the warnings of concerned family and friends there are some common misconceptions of senior exercising. There is no reason the elderly can't work out as effectively as everyone else. Following are five delusional reasons seniors can't exercise and the reality of each fallacy.

Misconception #1: You're going to continue to age anyway. Exercising serves no purpose.

Reality: Alzheimer's, colon cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity are a few of the conditions you can improve or avoid by participating in physical activity regularly. Doing exercises and strength training will help you to live longer and feel younger. With the progression of your workout routines you will notice improvements in your endurance and flexibility.

Misconception #2: You need your rest. Exercising is too strenuous for the elderly.

Reality: An inactive lifestyle is unhealthy for seniors. In fact, inactivity leads to the inability to function on your own. Have you ever heard that saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it."? That's true. You didn't spend years in school to gain the education you needed to be successful in your chosen career to let that knowledge just go away after you've retired. You didn't work very hard for years to be the best you could be in your field or build your own business so you could sit around in your senior years and deteriorate. An active lifestyle lowers the risk of living in a world of illness, medication, doctor's visits, hospitalization which is neither attractive nor entertaining.

Misconception #3: If you exercise, you may lose your balance and fall.

Reality: In actuality regular exercising reduces the risk of falling. When you exercise frequently you build strength and stamina. The constant activity enhances your balance and averts loss of bone mass.

Misconception #4: You're already too old to begin exercising; it's too late.

Reality: It's never too late. You're never too old. Chances are if you were into health and fitness when you were younger, you are still working out to some extent. But if you've never exercised, or you stopped awhile back for some reason, no problem. Start with something easy and work your way up. A short walk is a good starting point. Just don't overdo it. It's OK if you walk for only ten minutes. In no time at all you will be able to walk for 30 to 60 minutes and ready to move on to more challenging exercises.

Misconception #5: Your mobility is limited. You can't exercise because you're disabled.

Reality: No problem! It's a challenge you can meet. An increased range of motion is only one of the benefits you can enjoy when you do chair aerobics. You can also improve your muscle tone and support cardiovascular health. Other exercises you can do are lifting weights and stretches. If you are wheelchair bound water aerobics will exercise your entire body. It will help you to build strength and endurance.


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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Elderly Depression

Many elders think that feeling depressed is a natural part of the aging process. This is not true. While many elders suffer from depression, they don't necessarily have to feel that way.

Recognizing the signs of depression is the first step in handling it. Has your elder stopped doing the things he or she once enjoyed? Has personal care declined? Is your elder unnaturally quiet or lash out in anger? These are signs of depression.

It is important to bring up these symptoms with your elder's doctor as soon as you see them. While it can be treated, chances are good that treatment will not be the same as it would be for someone younger.

A younger person might be prescribed antidepressants. An older person is probably taking medications for other conditions and may be unable to take an antidepressant. There is also some evidence that certain types of this medication aren't as effective for seniors.

Instead, counseling or group therapy may be suggested. Increasing social interaction can be a good means of countering the isolation some elders feel.

Exercise is another area that could help ease depression. As an added benefit, exercise can also be beneficial for cognitive function. Elders dealing with cognitive decline are likely to feel depression.
While supplements may not be a good idea for an elder, due to drug/herb interactions, aromatherapy could be useful. The essential oils of chamomile and lavender are considered particularly useful. If the elder needs mental stimulation, oil of peppermint is another good product. On the oil of peppermint, be sure to keep children under the age of two away from this oil. Just the scent can cause serious breathing problems.

Depression can be beaten, but only if it's recognized. Look for symptoms and start treatment as soon as possible for the best results.


Always Best Care Senior Services provides in-home care and FREE assisted living placement!
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fun and Safe Activities for The Elderly

Our bodies seem to follow a bell-curve of strength that starts at our infancy and ends with our life. It is important to understand the elders body and its limitations when seeking activities to share with them. This may mean speaking with the senior's doctor or listening to any pain or exhaustion that they might experience from doing some activities. This article presents some suggestions for activities that may often be well appreciated well over age 65.

One fun activity to share is taking a moment to enjoy the rich beauty nature has to offer. You may take a day to walk in the park, watch the birds or go on a kayaking adventure. If you bring a camera, a good project may be to make a scrapbook of all your outdoor excursions and the birds you see. Many people enjoy the outdoors, so it may be great to find an outdoor activity that you both enjoy. You could also take turns introducing one another to your favorite outdoor activities. If the elder enjoys going for walks in the park and your hobby is drawing landscapes or fishing, you could take the time to share each one. By introducing one another to your favorite outdoor activities, you may find a great new hobby and create a memorable experience together.

There are many sports that you also may enjoy together that are not physically demanding such as tennis, swimming, horseshoes and golf. It is important to speak with the elder's doctor provider before playing sports, to make sure that they have permission. In some cases, the elder may have a condition preventing them from playing high intensity sports. If this is the case, there are plenty of other activities that the professional may recommend.

Your community may have a center designed for these activities like a YMCA or a country club. Some high schools or universities will allow visitors to use their athletic facilities during specified hours, contact your local schools to ask about these opportunities. There may also be putt-putt golf courses, local parks and beaches in your area for you practice athletic activities or just appreciate the outdoors. If you enjoy exercising, Yoga and Thai Chi are also ways to stay physically fit and are often recommended for the elderly.

When the elder is exercising, it is important to warm up and cool incrementally. This is encouraged for anyone exercising, but is more important as we get older. By stretching, you are preventing your body from being sore or exceptionally tired after workouts. You are also greatly reducing the chance of injury of you and the elder. We can often be exited to begin with our activities for the day, but a simple ten-minute stretch can go far.

The elder you are caring for may not be capable of some activities and tasks that many can do. Some may have medical conditions or be on medication and have orders from their doctors to avoid such activities. For other elders, their physical condition may make some activities both dangerous and extremely time consuming. Shopping can be perceived as a simply task to some, but for the elderly it can become difficult and dangerous.

The elder may have trouble finding their way to the store, remembering what they need and is risking physical injury. By helping the elder shop or do other activities, you are making their lives easier and may be preventing serious injury. If you are unsure what activities the elder would like help with, do not be afraid to ask. By helping with too many activities without being asked, you may be harming their pride and feeling of independence.

It is often important to ask elders before helping, unless you believe that they are in physical danger of completing the task. By automatically helping you are sending the message that the elder is incapable of properly completing the task him or herself. Having difficulty completing tasks that were once considered simple may be embarrassing and diminish someone's pride.

If you prefer to grow your own food for fun or enjoy natural foods, you may also help the elderly in their garden or create one. Having a garden may reduce stress and strengthen your emotional bond by creating life together. Gardening can be a simple activity or a very complex career. No matter what your skill level, there are many resources available to get you and the elder started on gardening. Some plants take less skill to grow than others; growing wild flowers may be easier than growing prize winning squash. If your gardening skills are hopeless, there is always the option of growing weeds. Although, some believe that they only come up when they are not desired.

Once you have collected the bounty in your garden or at the supermarket, you may help the elder prepare meals. If they are independent, the senior may not go through the effort of preparing full meals and may not have a well balanced diet. Cooking meals may be a fun way to help improve the physical and emotional health of the elder you care for, while improving your skills to impress guests. It may help to make large portions of meals or extras, so that the elder may easily prepare the meals again to enjoy your kitchen creation. If you or the elder does not enjoy cooking, they may be eligible for the meals on wheels program in your local community.

If you prefer literature or the arts to other activities, you may read or write with the elder that you are caring for. Our eyesight may decrease drastically as we age and reading small text may become difficult. Other people may develop arthritis and experience pain while gripping a pencil to write. For some elders, this loss can be devastating. Some people have retirement dreams of reading every day or writing a novel, just to discover that their physical condition prevents them from achieving this.
By helping the elder in these simple activities, you may just be working with them to achieve their dreams and ambitions. Even if the elder does not aspire to be the next Herman Melville, reading and writing is an essential activity in today's society that you can help them to do.

A great way to spend time with one another and spread the value of knowledge may be to share your favorite books or poems. The elder may be aware of amazing classics novels and poems that you have not yet discovered and you may have insight on the latest best sellers. Together, you can share the rich experience of reading and explore new books.

You may also take a trip to your local art museum or gallery to share the art and educational experience with a loved one. Before you go, make sure that the elder can properly see so that they are not disappointed when entering the museum. Some paintings are positioned far from the eyes and some museums may prevent visitors from getting too close. If a distance rule exists at your local museum or gallery, try calling ahead and asking if they can accommodate the elder.

If you and the elder prefer creating more than observing, there are many low cost arts and crafts projects available online. Creating artwork and following instructions may give seniors a sense of accomplishment and pride. Their creation will be with them forever as a trophy to their achievement and with you as a reminder of your compassion. Sometimes local art centers have art classes available for painting, clay or mosaics and theatre. These classes often charge a fee, although they may have a discount for seniors or may be able to make accommodations upon request.

There are many other activities that you can share with the elderly. The important thing is to be creative and select things that you both enjoy doing. You can introduce one another to new activities, but no one likes to be forced into activities that they do not enjoy. If the elder asks you to do an activity that you do not enjoy, there is no need for you to continue doing it. If the elder seems to not enjoy an activity you share with them, recommend something else.

Always Best Care Senior Services provides in-home care and FREE assisted living placement!
Let us give you peace of mind today and give us a call - (888) 681-1559

Come and visit our Website at
And follow us on facebook for weekly posts!