CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 4. Issue 4
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Letter From the Editor:
May has been an eventful month with Mother’s Day, Spring flowers that are finally in bloom (thanks to April showers) and World Laughter Day, which some of us celebrated with Laughter Yoga – a complete well-being workout that is sweeping the world. See if there is a group near you and give it a try!
In this month’s newsletter, I delve into heart, brain and physical health – and how they all are connected. There is a common misconception that healthy eating is about dieting and sacrifice. Because of this, many struggle to stay on track with their “diet.” And instead, take an “all or nothing approach,” which many times results in the reemergence of poor eating habits. For this reason, healthy eating needs to be viewed as a lifestyle, not a diet. To help you out, I have included the National Institute on Aging’s most recent caloric guidelines for men and women over the age of 50. It takes into account your level of physical activity, and therefore, gives you a more accurate idea of what you can consume. Speaking of physical activity, do you know when the best time is to work out? Or how working out can boost your memory? Want answers?
You Are What You Eat, Right?
Healthy eating is not just about dieting and sacrifice. It is a lifestyle that embraces colorful food, creativity in the kitchen and eating with friends. For seniors, the benefits of healthy eating can increase their energy levels, mental acuteness and immune systems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and a way to stay emotionally balanced.
Eating well is a feast for your body! Good nutrition keeps all body parts strong and healthy, allowing you to live longer and stronger. Eating vitamin-rich foods will boost your immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic ailments. Those who eat a selection of brightly colored fruit, leafy veggies, certain types of fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve their mental focus and decrease their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a self-esteem boost. It’s all connected—when your body feels good, you feel happier.
So how many calories do seniors need per day? The National Institute on Aging released the following guidelines:
A woman over 50 who is:
• Not physically active needs about 1,600 calories a day
• Somewhat physically active needs about 1,800 calories a day
• Very physically active needs about 2,000 calories a day
A man over 50 who is:
• Not physically active needs about 2,000 calories a day
• Somewhat physically active needs about 2,200-2,400 calories a day
• Very physically active needs about 2,400-2,800 calories a day
A balanced meal is more than just calorie counting. The US Department of Agriculture provides a recommended food pyramid for older adults. Eating at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables are important for your body to absorb fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants. Calcium is important for aging bones and the USDA recommends at least 3 cups a day. It can be found in dairy items like milk, yogurt and cheese, or non-dairy items, like tofu, broccoli and almonds. Your body also needs no more than 6 ounces of whole grains and proteins each day. Lastly, water, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are essential for maintaining a balanced diet.
In order to stay physically and mentally healthy while maintaining a long life, eating well is important. Remember, you are what you eat, so take the time to prepare a colorful meal for you and your loved ones.
Ten Everyday Activities for Seniors to Help Boost Your Memory
Changes in your thinking processes and memory are inevitable as we age. According to the 2011 Alzheimer's Association's Annual Report, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's disease every 70 seconds. Luckily, simple lifestyle activities, both physical and mental, can decrease your chances of developing dementia and keep your mind sharp as a tack!
Also note that debilitating memory loss doesn't happen to everyone. Here are ten ways to boost your memory power. You will notice that most of these activities are probably already incorporated into your daily routine.
1. Take the stairs – Exercise benefits your brain as well as the rest of your body. Increasing blood flow to the brain results in less brain shrinkage and lowers the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Remember, one step at a time, it all adds up. Avoid elevators, park at the far end of the lot and try to take routine evening walks around the block.
2. Take a nap during the day – Memory storage happens while you sleep, which is why a good night’s sleep is so valuable. A six-minute nap is as valuable for short-term recall as a 90-minute nap is to speed up the process that helps the brain consolidate long-term memories.
3. Play a ‘brain’ game – A study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society shows that people over 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour a day, over a period of eight weeks, improved memory and attention more than the control group.
4. A Cup of Joe – Green and black teas have a protective effect on memory by influencing enzymes in the brain while the caffeine sparks concentration. People who drink moderate amounts of coffee (as many as three to five cups per week) have lower odds of developing dementia later life.
5. Eat your greens – People who are deficient in folate and vitamin B12 have an increased risk of developing dementia. Vegetables with high amounts of folate include romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and beets. Don’t like vegetables? An abundant amount of folate can also be found in lentils, calf liver, pinto and black beans. Home Care Assistance offers a great health-oriented program for clients that our caregivers are trained in. It’s called the Balanced Care Method.
6. Learn something new – Pursue a new type of activity using skills far different from those you are accustomed to using. Learn a new language or try a sculpting class!
7. Eat chocolate! – In 2007, a study by the Journal of Neuroscience reported on the memory-boosting effects in rats from a plant compound called epicatechin. In addition to cocoa, epicatechin is found in blueberries, grapes and tea.
8. Put everything in its place – Your memory needs a certain amount of familiarity to keep your life functioning smoothly. Place your keys and glasses in the same place every time. Write notes to yourself as a reminder (the very act of writing will help your recall).
9. Don’t retire – Volunteer. A satisfying work life offers social stimulation and decision-making opportunities, exercises and problem-solving skills. Volunteering after retirement involves learning new material and interacting with others.
10. Spend time with loved ones – Being around other people who keep you engaged and stimulated lowers your risk of developing dementia.
By setting aside time each day to walk, learn something new and munch on chocolate, you can help boost your memory for years to come.
Study Reveals the Best Time to Exercise
A main part of staying healthy as we age is exercise (which we incorporate here at Home Care Assistance with our Balanced Care Method). Many studies, doctors and nutritionists say exercise is important, but if we do not exercise properly, or at the right time, then it is of no real benefit to our bodies.
Traditionally, we have been taught that it is always best to eat a little something before we work out – carbohydrates give us that extra energy boost needed to burn calories. But, according to an article I came across today on AOL Health, a new study found that exercising before eating is advantageous for our health, including weight loss and maintaining insulin sensitivity.
This theory is in line with that of bodybuilders a few decades back who believed that you were more likely to mobilize your fat stores for fuel if you didn't have to burn off the extra carbohydrates that you just ate. Although the majority of us aren’t bodybuilders, the idea is similar – working out before eating will garner better results.
Although exercising before eating may be good for those with weight-related health issues, it is not as beneficial for everyone. Exercise physiologist and That's Fit expert Liz Neporen explains that if you are looking to perform better, like train for a marathon, eating before exercising might actually be better. Likewise, not eating before exercising may result in dizziness or fatigue, so it is always best to do what works for each individual.
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Shyni Skowronski
This month’s Caregiver Spotlight honors Shyni Skowronski from Home Care Assistance of Seattle for her patience, kindness and professionalism. Shyni’s advanced skill set is very impressive – with caregiving expertise in hospice, rehabilitation, brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Dementia. She holds an RN degree from the Mother of India School of Technology and has been providing care to patients for over ten years.
Shyni brings a wealth of nursing experience, compassion and hope to her patients. She is a highly sought after caregiver for hospice cases and is specifically requested by a local hospice agency. Shyni has brought about near miraculous recoveries in patients who have had strokes and orthopedic injuries.
She thrives on challenging, complicated cases. In the last year, Shyni has cared for a number of hospice and brain injured patients. For example, she was able to help a local executive walk and talk again who was near death – an extremely admirable accomplishment.
Shyni’s caregiving technique embodies all of the principles of Home Care Assistance’s Balanced Care Method. The care she provides clients incorporates an exceptionally healthy way of cooking, using primarily organic and natural foods. She encourages physical activity and has helped bed bound and seriously injured orthopedic patients walk again, using patience and encouragement. Shyni has a calm, spiritual dimension in her care. In fact, her hospice patients have reported decreasing their pain medication as a result of her calming demeanor and caregiving methods.
Shyni, thank you for the tremendous dedication you give your clients and Home Care Assistance! Your ability to restore hope in the lives of your patients through your caregiving methods and compassionate is unbelievable and inspirational to us all.