CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 2 Issue 5
We recently added a "Home Care Market," to www.HomeCareAssistance.com. Here, visitors can purchase the latest and greatest products that Home Care Assistance has to offer, including $100 gift cards for home care service and our new book, Happy to 102: The Best Kept Secrets to a Long and Happy Life. Please continue to visit this page, as we will be adding more items to the market in the near future!
We also added a 60 second version of our latest television commercial, which features our 2008 Home Care Assistsance Caregiver of the Year. This commercial is currently being featured throughout North American markets on stations such as CNN and Bravo.
Home Care Assistance recently announced the launch of its exclusive caregiver training system, the Balanced Care Method™. The Balanced Care Method™ is based on a major study of centenarians from Okinawa, Japan. It takes specific lifestyle findings and uses them as the base and inspiration for its training methods and home care philosophy. This is the first in a series of Home Care Assistance newsletter articles that will explain the Balanced Care Method™.
Genetic factors are undoubtedly an important element in long-living populations. Different studies have shown that genetics play anywhere from ten to fifty percent of the role in determining lifespan in all animals. However, most studies of human populations conclude that genetics determine about one-third of people's life span. This still means that lifestyle factors play a larger role than genetic factors in influencing how long a person will live.
The Okinawa Centenarian Study found over 900 verifiable centenarians. Not only do Okinawans experience impressively long life spans, but their elders have admirably good health and independence into their seventies, eighties, and nineties.
This month, we will look at the importance of diet in the Balance Care Method™. A major factor in the extraordinary health enjoyed by Okinawa elders is their distinct diet. It is plant-based, high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavanoids and low in protein. It includes low to moderate alcohol intake, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and very low levels of saturated fat and sodium.
Okinawan elders also engage in a practice of hara hachi bu, meaning that they eat until they are eighty percent full. This naturally results in a low-calorie diet that, in turn, helps keep Okinawan elders slim throughout their lives, with lean body masses (between 18 to 22 on the body mass index) and low glycemic loads. One theory of aging views human bodies like cars: they run and run until they simply burn out and die. One of the main demands we make on our bodies is consuming and digesting food, a process that ultimately leads to the production of free radicals, or unstable molecules. By limiting caloric intake, we limit how much food our bodies need to process, thus decreasing the amount of free radicals in our bloodstream. Okinawan elders have low levels of both free radicals and liquid peroxides in their blood.
The Importance of a Plant-Based Diet
Eighty percent of the calories in the Okinawan diet is plant-based. Okinawans eat a lot of rice, a wide range of vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables (i.e. seaweed), and soy products. Of the twenty percent of animal-based calories they do consume, it is mostly cold-water fish or stewed meats from which the fat has been rendered. The fats they eat – from fish, soy products, or cold-pressed canola oil – are largely mono-unsaturated or rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Alcohol consumption is moderate and sweets are occasional treats. Green tea, a very healthy choice, is sipped regularly.
There are many things about the Okinawan diet that contribute to the long lives and good health of its elders. First of all, high fiber is a central pillar in many healthful diet guidelines. A high fiber diet helps maintain a sense of fullness and keeps people from overeating. It also aids in proper, efficient, and pain-free digestion. Fiber comes from whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Grains and vegetables are complex carbohydrates (versus the simple carbohydrates in refined flour and sugar that break down more slowly) and help maintain healthy glycemic loads. These loads help the pancreas produce enough insulin to process the spikes in blood sugar levels caused by eating excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates.
Along with providing fiber, the large amount of fruits and vegetables in the traditional Okinawan diet provide these elders essential minerals and antioxidants, which in turn fight free radicals in their systems.
The Okinawan high-fiber, vegetable-laden diet is low in protein. Most North Americans eat between two and four times as much protein that they need on a daily basis. Much of this protein takes the form of meat and dairy products, which also contain saturated fat. Saturated fat leads to unhealthy cholesterol levels and the production of artery-clogging homocysteine. When a high level of animal product consumption is combined with a lack of folate, an essential mineral found in dark, leafy green vegetables that helps regulate homocysteine levels, the problem compounds on itself.
Furthermore, when we eat protein, our bodies also need to process the by-products: ammonia and urea. Both of these toxins are processed through our kidneys, which are dependent on the liver functioning properly. An excessive amount of protein puts pressure on a host of vital organs.
The Difference Between Proteins
The protein Okinawan elders do eat tends to come from two sources: cold-water fish and soy. Each brings something to the ultra-healthy Okinawan diet.
Cold-water fish tends to be fatty, but that fat needs to stay liquid even in cold temperatures. Unlike other animal fats that solidify, the fat in cold-water fish remains free flowing. It is polyunsaturated and has omega-3 fatty acids, but doesn’t have the same artery-clogging properties as saturated fat. Okinawans eat, on average, three servings of fish – mostly cold-water fish like mackerel, salmon, and tuna – a week, causing them to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their systems than North Americans do. Omgea-3s are seemingly miracle workers; they are cancer-preventing, brain-function-enhancing, and heart-protecting.
Okinawan elders also eat several servings of soy – tofu, miso, and tempeh – products daily. Along with being an excellent source of low-fat protein, soy contains high levels of flavonoids, strong antioxidants that fight free radicals in any system they inhabit. Flavonoids also provide a source of natural, weak estrogens that can block the body's own estrogen that causes breast and prostate cancer. In short, Okinawans high consumption of soy may explain their remarkable low rates of cancer. It also helps maintain bone density and muscle mass, keeping older Okinawans looking, feeling, and acting younger than Westerners of the same age.
Tea, Sugar, and Alcohol
Antioxidants and flavonoids are also found in tea, which Okinawan elders drink regularly in large amounts.
The Okinawan diet is as remarkable for what it doesn't include as for what it does. Along with consuming limited red meat and almost no dairy products, drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol helps further protect Okinawan elders. Some alcohol, especially when enjoyed with food, has been shown to have some health benefits. Yet alcohol increases the body's estrogen production, which in turn can increase the possibility of developing hormone-dependent cancers. High alcohol consumption also destroys folates in the systems, which, as mentioned above, are important players in maintaining heart health, avoiding stroke, and promoting proper brain functioning.
Refined sugar and other sweets have a limited role in the traditional Okinawan diet. This helps Okinawans avoid blood sugar spikes, stress on the pancreas, empty calories, and unnecessary cravings. Following a principle of hara hachi bu (eating until only eighty percent full) is much easier when the foods one is eating are wholesome, nutritious, and don't induce a physical desire to overeat.
The Balanced Care Method™ takes the principles learned from Okinawan elders and applies them in a way suitable for older North American adults, training its caregivers in proper nutrition, giving them substitution ideas, and providing guidelines for daily and weekly consumption of its key components.
Fresh Summer Fruit Makes Healthful Eating Easy For Seniors
No matter what our age, fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthful diet. As people get older, they often eat more processed foods that can be stored for a long time and prepared quickly. One way to tempt anyone to eat more fruits and vegetables is to serve them at their height of flavor and freshness – when they are in season. Since older people often crave sweets, in-season fruit with plenty of naturally occurring sugars can be a great way to happily work more fresh produce into their diet.
Older people often crave the sweetness of fruit. During the summer months, super-fresh and sweet fruits will be more readily available around the country. Not only is fruit a tasty and enjoyable treat, but it also provides vitamins, fiber, water (hydration), and antioxidants . Look for these five fruits this summer to help your client get their daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables:
Various scientific studies have proven that blackberries are incredibly healthy. They have high vitamin C and antioxidant levels and help build bone density and enhance fat-burning. Look for dark, shiny berries that are plump and feel heavy for their size. Rinse blackberries just before using, since they will absorb some of the water, thus reducing how long they will stay fresh. Different varieties of blackberries some into season at various points in July and August.
Blueberries are frequently cited as a "super food" because of their high antioxidant levels. They can help prevent painful and dangerous urinary tract infections. Look for plump, firm, dull looking berries. Avoid containers that have any mushy berries in them, since they quickly affect the berries around them.
Cherries start to come into season in June in warmer areas and July in cooler climates. Look for bright, shiny, firm cherries with fresh-looking green stems still attached. Cherries have been shown to ease pain from arthritis, lower "bad" cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation in general.
Eating melon is a great way to stay cool and hydrated in the summer. Melon contains a high amount of fiber. Watermelons, in particular, have been shown to reduce risk of cancer. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are all at their ripest in July, August, and September. Look for melons that feel heavy for their size for the juiciest, sweetest fruit.
There are so many strawberry varieties these days, each designed to grow and ripen in different climates and at different times of year, that fresh strawberries can be found almost all year long. However, fresh locally grown berries taste the sweetest and the best. In many parts of the U.S., strawberries are in season sometime in late June, July, and early August. Besides their amazingly sweet, almost floral flavor, strawberries are chock-full of antioxidants and can help reduce "bad" cholesterol. Look for strawberries that are firm, bright red, and shiny with green caps still attached. Avoid strawberries that have any white or green spots near the cap; these were picked before being completely ripe. Like blackberries, rinse fresh strawberries just before using.
Caregiver Spotlight: Kaleb Schwartz
At this years Home Care Assistance convention, Kaleb Schwartz won the Home Care Assistance' 2009 Caregiver of the Year award. He first started his career as a Home Care Assistance caregiver in 2007, when he was only 20 years old. Though Susan Bruketta and Skip Pascoe, co-owners of the Home Care Assistance Albuquerque location, were doubtful that a young male could be received as a caregiver in an average client’s home, they were soon proven very wrong. In the past 2 and a half years, Kaleb’s genuine passion for providing superior care has shone through. Susan and Skip consider Kaleb to be their “go to” troubleshooter for difficult or challenging cases.
Kaleb is one of the first employees assigned to difficult hospice cases that deal with touchy family dynamics and last minute emergencies. He is skilled in comforting hospice patients and families with their physical, emotional and social needs. He has proven to be invaluable in championing involvement with the medical hospice nurses and aids so the family experiences a team approach to their care.
According to Susan Bruketta, “Kaleb possesses the ideal character traits you look for in a caregiver: common sense, extensive knowledge, adaptable to any environment, self-directed and a sense of urgency.”
Caffeine Reduces Memory Loss in Old Mice
A recent study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that old mice with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms regained most memory loss when given a dose of coffee equivalent to 5 cups of coffee for a human. According to the study, the caffeine decreased levels of the irregular protein β-amyloid (associated with Alzheimer’s disease) in both the blood and the brains of the mice.
Furthermore, the group concluded that elderly humans with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia experienced quick decreases in β-amyloid after consuming caffeine.
The study was based on previous findings by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center that proved caffeine consumption in early and mid adulthood could delay the onset of dementia or other Alzheimer’s symptoms in older mice. Commented author Gary Arendash, PhD, a USF neuroscientist with the Florida ADRC, "The new findings provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable 'treatment' for established Alzheimer's disease, and not simply a protective strategy,"
Cutting Calories May Boost Your Memory
According to the National Institute on Aging, eating in moderation and cutting calories on a daily basis may improve your memory later in life. Dr. Agnes Floel of the University of Munster, Germany published shocking results from a study on calorie consumption related to memory.
Her study documented 50 women, ranging in age from 50 to 80, all of whom were either normal weight or slightly overweight. Twenty were assigned to a calorie-cutting group, 20 increased consumption of unsaturated fatty acids, and 10 stuck continued their normal eating patterns.
The women who reduced their calorie intake by 30 percent for three months lost weight and improved their scores on a verbal memory tests by 20 percent. In contrast, the women who consumed more unsaturated fatty acids showed little to no improvement in their memories, nor did those in the control group.
Noted Jeffrey Keller, a professor who studies aging and metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, “It provides more evidence that what's going on in the rest of the body, from inflammation to belly fat, can have major effects on the brain. It may very well be it's the aging of the body that promotes the aging of the brain."