Tag Archives: 65 and older

Summer in the South

Long View: Beat the Heat in the Dog Days of Summer

As some of you may know, I am originally from Alabama. During a recent visit there in August, I was shocked it was so miserably hot and humid.

I asked my friend Brenda how we functioned in this kind of weather when we were teenagers. She reminded me we were not very sensitive to a lot of things when we were 15 or so. Her husband told me when it’s exceptionally hot nowadays, the schools don’t let the kids go outside for recess or lunch. Really? We never minded the heat as kids.

It seems as we age, we aren’t as tolerant of weather extremes as we were when we were younger. I figure I have a 40-degree window of optimum temperatures these days. Above or below, it’s a problem. Don’t get me started on the humidity. A number of factors can impact comfort levels for any given individual.

I asked Carle Wellness Program Coordinator Karen Stefaniak for a more technical explanation for this reduced tolerance.

“People over the age of 65 are more likely to experience elevated body temperature,” she said. “As we age, the body loses its ability to adjust to sudden temperature changes. In some people, this can be caused by a chronic condition and/or prescription medications. But in general, with the process of aging comes a reduced ability to sweat and shiver. Unfortunately, decreased thirst awareness can lead to dehydration. These factors limit the body’s ability to stay cool when it’s hot outside.”

But there is hope. She shared some tips for handling the heat.

“Prevent heat-related illness by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, drinking plenty of cool (nonalcoholic) beverages, staying in the air conditioning, and remaining indoors during the heat of the day.”

As usual, Karen makes perfect sense. One thing Alabama taught me about heat is to slow down and enjoy the moment. We should all be mindful during any weather extreme.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Planning for a Happy Retirement

Long View: How Much Money Do You Need for Retirement?

Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned,” is still true today, especially when thinking about retirement. I think about the possibilities once in a while, but it seems too far in the future to worry about it right now.

I know in my grandparents’ day, retirement didn’t require much planning. Most folks didn’t live long enough for it to be a problem. These days with modern medicine, longevity is a much more attainable goal. It’s the actions we take to prepare for it that have the most impact on our quality of life.

The United States Census Bureau says people age 90 and older make up 4.7 percent of the population 65 and older. That’s expected to be as high as 10 percent by 2050.

I used an online retirement calculator to find out how much I should have saved at this point in my career. The results indicated I was well under my goal. The predictions were based on a life expectancy of 92 years, a daunting prospect at this stage of the game.

I have been meaning to increase the amount I put aside for retirement, but it seems I just don’t get around to it. Benjamin would advise me to “never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Having looked into the future, I will definitely take some action. Even a slight increase now will make a difference in the long run.

“Obviously the earlier you start to save for retirement the better,” says Bob Ballsrud, executive vice president of Busey Wealth Management. “Our younger clients often invest in more growth assets because they have the time to recover from any temporary downturn. More mature clients often are encouraged to lower their risk because they will need to access the funds sooner. Either way, it’s the consistency of action and the appropriate planning that help you meet your goals.”

I know there are a number of factors to consider before retirement. It seems advance planning is the best course, or as Ben tells us, “Employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure.”

Plan Ahead with Health Insurance

Part of planning for your future is making sure you can cover medical and hospital costs when you need to. Learn more about Medicare, wellness, and health insurance in general at HealthAlliance.org.

Cooking Together for a Healthy Diet at Any Age

A Healthy Diet as You Age

National Nutrition Month has been going on all March long. And while it would be great for everyone to commit to a healthy diet,  it’s harder for some people to bounce back from bad food choices than it is for others.

For older adults, those sugary and salty snacks can add up to a problem quickly. But you can help certain problems that get worse with age by making smart food decisions when you’re young and even when you’re older.

Eating better can make a huge difference in your overall health. Studies show a healthy diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Here are some things for older adults and their caregivers to keep in mind.

1. Choose healthy foods that help you eat a balanced diet, and always drink plenty of water. Foods and drinks with empty calories, like soda and chips, don’t do you any favors nutritionally and don’t help you feel full.

2. Your food choices affect your entire body. Choosing whole grains, fiber, fruits, and vegetables and drinking plenty of water can help you stay regular and keep good digestive health.

3. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure you check with your doctor about foods you should include, like foods high in calcium, or things you should avoid, like those high in salt.

4. Don’t let your teeth or dentures stand in the way of eating meat, fruits, or vegetables. Visit your dentist to check for problems or adjust the fit of your dentures so mealtime is easier.

5. If you feel like food is getting stuck in your throat, you may not have enough spit in your mouth. Drink plenty of liquids when you eat for help swallowing, and talk to your doctor to see if a condition or medicine you’re on could be causing your dry mouth.

6. Make cooking and eating fun. Invite friends for a potluck where you each make and bring one part of the meal. Try cooking a new recipe with a friend or stage a cook-off to see who makes the better dish. Plan a date with your loved one where you cook a meal together. Have dinner at a senior center, community center, or religious organization for an affordable way to meet new people.

Follow us on Facebook and on Pinterest to find healthy recipes.

Don't Fall with Tai Chi

Your Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention

Each year as the weather turns icy, we return to one major health topic for older adults, avoiding a fall. How big is the risk actually, though?

Truth in Numbers

No matter how healthy you are, falling is a real risk. About 1 out of 3 adults age 65 or older falls each year, but less than half of those talk to their doctors about it.

Sure, you might think, but everyone falls once in a while, right? Kids fall all the time! But your mom falling could be a lot more serious than your toddler. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults.

In 2013, 2.5 million people were treated for nonfatal falls, and 734,000 of those had to be hospitalized. And in 2012, the medical costs from falls reached $30 billion.

They cause the most broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults. And women are twice as likely as men to break a bone.

What Causes A Fall

Icy and slippery weather is of course a big reason that falls happen, but winter isn’t the only time to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Seeing is an essential part of most of our days, but as you age and your vision gets worse, it can increase your risk of falling. If you can’t see the danger, it’s harder to avoid it.

Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter can cause side effects, like dizziness and drowsiness, that can make it more likely you’ll take a tumble.

Dangers in your homes, like tripping hazards, stairs, and slippery bathtubs, are a huge risk.

And many people who fall once are afraid of falling again and what could happen if they do. This leads them to limit their activities, lowering their mobility and fitness, which can actually increase their chances of falling and of getting hurt.

A recent study also found that many people’s falls are because of an infection, which can cause low blood pressure, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can both lead to your fall, or make you confused about what happened afterwards.

Year-Round Protection

There are ways to help stop falls before they happen:

Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.

Ask your doctor to review all your meds, and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.

Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and even improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference.

Get enough calcium and Vitamin D from foods like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.

Get tested for osteoporosis.

Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home. Learn more.

Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age.

  • Tai Chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength. Use this Tai Chi Fall Prevention Toolkit to get started now.
  • Try walking outside with friends or family.
  • Weight bearing exercises can lower your chance of hip fractures.
  • Water aerobics is a great way to move without stressing your joints.
  • Moving to the beat and changing to a rhythm are shown to reduce falls. Get dancing at your local senior center’s events, take lessons, or just let loose at home.
  • We want to help, too. Our Medicare members have perks to help you get fit at a gym of your choice.  Our members also get discounts at certain fitness locations.

All statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).