CareNotes: The Home Care Newsletter Vol 7. Issue 7
Letter From the Editor:
Happy Spring! We are excited to share the most recent issue of our CareNotes Newsletter, which includes articles on longevity, the brain-boosting power of milk and the inspirational story of an 85-year-old veteran getting his wish of a lifetime as well as our Caregiver of the Month spotlight featuring Karina Leonard of Home Care Assistance – Palm Beach, Florida.
After reading the newsletter you will know what “Blue Zones” are and why their inhabitants live longer than any other population in the world, and why milk may be linked to brain health. You will also learn about Home Care Assistance’s role in granting Bob Mountz’s wish to revisit the USS Midway on which he served as a Naval hospital corpsman.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments related to the articles in our newsletter by replying to this email.
What do Blue Zones, Okinawans and Longevity Have in Common?
The much sought-after “fountain of youth” may not exist, but there are lifestyle choices that we can make to live longer, happier lives. Dan Buettner, a longevity expert, has spent over a decade studying the longest-living and healthiest people of the so-called “Blue Zones”. The longevity hotspots include Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica, and on average are home to more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. From Buettner’s research, he distilled four longevity-boosting secrets based on his findings that we would like to share:
- Be a Part of a Social GroupIndividuals within your social circles often have the biggest impact on your overall health. Habits—both good and bad—are easily spread throughout groups of friends, so surrounding yourself with individuals who support healthy lifestyles will make it more likely you adopt these positive habits as well.Buettner found evidence of the longevity-boosting effects of social networks when he studied the Okinawans in Japan; they form moais, or groups of lifelong alliances, which provides them with security, financial and emotional support as well as a sense of belonging.
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced DietMost centenarians eat diets that are 95% plant-based with a very small amount of meat, mostly consisting of fish. Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet can reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease, which are two leading causes of death. Protein from animal sources activates genes that accelerate aging and is linked with higher cancer and mortality rates. Centenarians are also known to have a glass of wine a day, which research has shown can boost lifespan.It isn’t all about what you eat—when and how much you eat is important too. People in the Blue Zones eat their largest meal in the morning, decreasing the amount that they eat throughout the day. Okinawans are also mindful of what they eat, stopping eating when they are 80% full by using a 2,500-year-old Confucian mantra before every meal.
- Discover Your PurposePeople living in the Blue Zones commonly have an activity, career, or passion that motivates them and provides them with meaning and purpose. . In Okinawa, this is known as their ikigai, and in Nicoya, it is called their plan de vida. One 14year study found that participants who passed away had originally scored lower on ratings of life purpose and social relationships compared to those who survived. Research suggests that life-purpose boosts longevity by lowering the stress hormone cortisol; stress often leads to inflammation, which is associated with almost every age-related disease.Finding your sense of purpose may be difficult, but it is important to remember that it can come from a wide variety of sources such as singing, volunteering or being a grandparent—anything that brings you joy. If you are not sure where you passion lies, try different activities until you determine which one, or ones, you enjoy most.
- Live an Active LifestyleBlue Zoners often engage in a lifestyle that promotes daily physical activity. Their exercise is commonly not structured in the form of a gym class, but exercise classes and other forms of organized exercise have been shown to increase life expectancy by 4.5 years. Physical activity, whether in a gym setting or a less structured setting, will always be beneficial to your health. If you are the type of person who prefers physical activity that doesn’t feel like exercise, activities like gardening, baking and walking to the store or work, all will provide health benefits while also reducing stress.
Buettner has used these four lifestyle behaviors, among others, to set up “Blue Zones” across various cities. These habits can be fun and are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Want to try implementing some of these tips into your lifestyle? Try forming a moai where people gather once monthly to have a healthy potluck and sample new foods, or a moai that meets weekly to go hiking or volunteer. Individuals who have taken part in Blue Zones in the U.S. have already noticed that they are healthier and leading more satisfying lives.
At Home Care Assistance, the Balanced Care Method™, which is also based off of studies of the Okinawans, is a unique approach to senior care that promotes longevity-boosting lifestyle behaviors for healthier and happier seniors. To learn more about the Method, contact your local office.
The Brain-Boosting Power of Milk
It is common knowledge that milk helps build strong bones and healthy muscles, and now research suggests that it has brain-boosting benefits too. Changes in brain structure and function are normal consequences of the aging process, so it is important to make positive, proactive choices such as eating brain-healthy foods to promote optimal wellbeing and longevity.
Researchers from Kansas University Medical Center, including In-Young Choi, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Neurology, and Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Dietetics and Nutrition, recently led a study analyzing the diets of 60 participants. The researchers in the study administered brain scans to measure the participants’ levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant with the potential to prevent cognitive decline.
Participants provided detailed records of everything they consumed during the length of the study. Researchers found that participants who drank milk had higher levels of glutathione in their brains as compared to those who did not drink milk; the amount of milk the participants consumed directly correlated with the levels of glutathione in the brain. This outcome was true regardless of the age of the participants.
Glutathione helps prevent cell damage and is thought to have a protective effect on the brain by warding off oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is considered a contributing factor in a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Although the liver naturally produces glutathione, increasing the amount of the antioxidant throughout the body could amplify its positive effects. By reducing oxidative stress within the brain researchers hope to reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Dr. Choi and Dr. Sullivan believe this study has provided substantial evidence for the brain-protective benefits of milk and hope to conduct additional randomized, controlled studies to further examine the effects of milk on the brain. Similarly, a 2012 study found a correlation between dairy consumption and increased cognitive performance. Researchers at the University of Maine administered memory tests to over 900 adults aged 23 to 98. They found that people who consumed more milk performed better on the brain-assessment tests, regardless of their age, just like this most recent study.
Further research will continue to examine the brain health benefits of milk, but for now, we know that milk has an assortment of positive benefits on our bone health, muscle tissue and overall wellbeing. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends three servings of dairy daily, so find a way to ensure you are hitting this amount in your daily diet!
Home Care Assistance Helps Fulfill 85-Year-Old Veteran’s Final Wish
At Home Care Assistance, our mission is to change the way the world ages by enriching the lives of seniors, celebrating successful aging and promoting independence for older adults. Last September we honored our mission by partnering up with Wish of a Lifetime, a non-profit organization with a similar passion of fostering appreciation for seniors, to launch our Wish Possible campaign and sponsor one wish for a very deserving senior.
We are excited to share that on Tuesday, March 17th, Robert ‘Bob’ Mountz’s wish came true when he stepped aboard the USS Midway for the first time in sixty years. The Korean War Veteran and former Hospital Corpsman served on the Midway in 1952 until his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1954. The 85-year old often reminisces of the time he spent aboard and even keeps a self-made model of the USS Midway on a shelf in his home. He was thrilled at the opportunity to revisit the Midway, saying that he felt he had “died and gone to heaven”.
Along with his two daughters and childhood friend, Mountz traveled from Indiana to San Diego, California, where the group was greeted by military officers, a personal guide and staff from Home Care Assistance’s San Diego office. They were then given a private tour of the USS Midway Museum. He was eager to see both his old desk and the sick bay where he had spent most of his time. Afterwards, Mountz enjoyed watching a movie about the ship’s history and eating a nice lunch at the onboard café.
Mountz currently has stage four lung cancer, which made his visit to the USS Midway even more sentimental to him. His daughters knew how much the time he served on the Midway meant to their father, and when they stumbled upon the Wish Possible campaign, they knew it was their chance to see his final wish come true. Despite tremendous personal obstacles, Bob continues to keep up his positive attitude and said he had a “superb day”. He noted that he was especially touched when he was saluted as they descended the ramp at the end of their visit.
If you would like to see more of Bob’s trip, please enjoy the following news coverage of his special day on the USS Midway:
San Diego 6 CW: Veteran Fighting Terminal Illness Back on the USS Midway
Union-Tribune San Diego: USS Midway fulfills dying vet’s wish
We were honored to play a part in making Bob’s wish come true. His experience aboard the USS Midway, surrounded by loved ones, is a memory he will cherish forever and one that has touched our hearts.
Caregiver of the Month Spotlight: Karina Leonard
April’s Caregiver of the Month is Karina Leonard from Home Care Assistance of Palm Beach, Florida!
Karina joined Home Care Assistance this past winter, but has worked as a caregiver for over five years. Over the past few months, she has been an exemplary employee, offering her time in any way needed. Karina’s caregiving style is marked by grace, kindness and consistency – traits that foster genuine, long-term relationships with the clients she serves; it’s not uncommon for clients to say that they think of her as a daughter.
In addition to her compassionate spirit and charisma, Karina’s attention to detail has earned her accolades. Not only does she initiate fun and engaging activities with her clients, but she also heavily promotes positive lifestyle habits such as healthy diet and exercise in line with the Balanced Care Method™.
Karina’s dedication, leadership, kindness and commitment to changing the way the world ages make her a great asset to the Home Care Assistance team. We truly appreciate her devotion to providing the highest caliber care to our clients!