Posts Tagged "Aging Well"

Health Product Buzzwords: Buyer Beware

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Health Signals, Safety Concerns | 0 comments

More people than ever are looking for “health foods” and dietary supplements to help with chronic problems, and to take a more active role in their own health. The exploding demand for these products has spawned many new terms in the media. But what do these buzzwords actually mean? “Organic” means that no synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, bio-engineering or ionizing radiation have been used on produce. Organic meat comes from animals that were not given antibiotics or synthetic growth regulators. Producers who market “certified organic” products must meet Canadian government standards to be allowed to use this title. Other products – for example, those described as “pesticide-free” or “free range” – may have positive benefits, but are not  necessarily “organic”. Antioxidants – such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene – slow down or prevent oxidation in the body by destroying free radicals, which are the byproducts of many natural processes in the body.  Oxidation can damage the cell wall, cell structures or the genetic material of the cell, and appears to be one of the causes of many degenerative diseases. Active debate continues regarding evidence that antioxidants can influence aging itself. However, there is growing evidence that antioxidants offer some protection against specific diseases. For many people the words “natural foods” imply that a product or its ingredients have not been processed. But currently there is no standard definition where “natural” appears on food labels.  Recently a soft drink company attempted to attach the moniker “100% natural” to its product because it had removed artificial preservatives from the soft drink. The drink still contained fructose/glucose syrup, a sugar made from highly processed corn syrup. In 2004 Health Canada developed a new regulatory framework for natural health products (NHPs) including: vitamins and minerals; herbal remedies; homeopathic and  traditional medicines; probiotics; and amino acids and essential fatty acids. Products having a Drug Identification Number (DIN), a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number – Homeopathic Medicine (DIN-HM) have been assessed by Health Canada. Currently there are no regulations governing marketers’ use of the term “anti-aging”.  In terms of supplements, Quackwatch.com warns that “anti-aging” has no scientific definition.  The product may help boost or maintain your health, but not necessarily reverse or prevent the aging process.  This area is continually evolving. Before buying,  take into account the agendas of producers, marketers, regulators and other participants in the food and supplement industry. In many cases, it’s still…buyer beware! For further information, visit these websites: BC Health Guide: http://www.bchealthguide.org QuackWatch: http://www.quackwatch.com   Vol.2, No.18; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s “go to” place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE newsletter....

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Healthy Eating for the Elderly

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Healthy food choices for those in mid-life and senior years may not be as straightforward as for younger people. If the joy of food isn’t what it used to be, or if you’re concerned about a family member’s nutrition, it’s worth noting that healthy eating might be affected by: Physical changes associated with aging Social factors, such as living alone Mobility and transportation Decreased energy and functioning  Older persons may need fewer calories, making it more challenging to ingest enough nutrients. Physical activity may be curtailed, leading to reduced appetite levels. Taste and smell senses alter with age, so food might have less appeal. Medical conditions can change energy level or increase digestive problems, causing some people to start avoiding meals altogether. If this reflects your situation: New spices and recipes may add interest to food. More than ever, choose brightly colored foods over “whites”. Set regular meal times, and create a social aspect around meals.  Reduce portion sizes. A smaller plate can be more attractive and easier to handle.  If time pressures, transportation or mobility are issues, consider grocery delivery services. Online services allow you fill your cart from home and have the food delivered to your door. (Many offer organic food products.)  If you prefer to choose your own produce, some stores offer home delivery. In many communities, cooked meal delivery and other services are available. Learn more about Meals on Wheels, and related organizations offering seniors’ meals with a social component, across Canada at http://www.mealcall.org/canada/index.htm   Vol.2, No. 5; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our...

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Volunteering: Benefits for Seniors

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Health Signals | 0 comments

Why do Canadian seniors volunteer? A survey of senior volunteers in Canada finds that 95% volunteer for a cause they believe in.  Seventy percent said they volunteered for a cause that had personally affected them. Some volunteered as a way to use their skill base and years of experience (81%). Others were looking for a way to explore their own strengths (57%).  What else motivates seniors to volunteer? Developing new skills and staying connected to their own passions inspires many seniors to volunteer.  Volunteering leads to meeting new people, staying active in the community, and serving others. It can help keep cultural or religious traditions alive.  Some older persons also find the chance to fulfill lifelong dreams and create new ambitions through volunteering. Seniors who volunteer report feeling very satisfied with their lives…AND they report that sentiment at a higher rate than seniors who do not volunteer. What can volunteering do for YOU? Volunteering can improve your health.  It can enhance self-esteem, coping abilities, and feelings of social usefulness.  Volunteering increases social activity. Research into health benefits of volunteering suggests that forming these social relationships acts as a buffer against stress and illness. Some experts even conclude that social relationships may be as important to overall health as avoiding risks such as smoking and high blood pressure. How can you find the right organization? The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggests asking the following questions to help define the best volunteering opportunity for you: Why do I want to become a volunteer? What are the benefits I am looking for from volunteering? What skills and abilities can I offer? What do I enjoy doing? What do I dislike doing? What issues are important to me? How much time can I give? What times are most suitable for me? Reasons for volunteering may be as profound as feeling an ethical pull to help change Canadian society – or as lighthearted as wanting to get to know people in the community. But getting involved, on any level, not only benefits society. It also benefits the volunteer. Everyone wins. Vol.2, No.12; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at...

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Longevity: How Long Will I Live?

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Planning | 0 comments

Longevity statistics in our society are changing dramatically. Whether it’s our own longevity or that of those around us, this trend has huge implications for our lives. Longevity, also known as life expectancy, is the length of a person’s life. Early explorers have searched for the fountain of youth and immortality, scientists have pondered the factors that lengthen human life span, and each one of us has wondered how long our time will be.   While the average life span has increased dramatically over the last century, the maximum life span has not. If you were born in 1900, you could expect to live 50 years and the maximum was about 120. Today, the average is more than 75 years but the maximum has stayed the same.   Authenticated records confirm that the longest living human was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who lived 122.4 years – from February 1875 to August 1997. Calment was 14 years old in 1889, the year the Eiffel Tower was built and she met Vincent Van Gogh.   How is life expectancy calculated? Life expectancy in any given year is the average length of time an infant born in that year is expected to live. It is the number of years that you would expect to live, starting at your birth. For example, a Canadian male born in 1920 could expect to live to be 59 years old, a Canadian female 61. Another way to define life expectancy is years left to live, on average, for older adults. If you are 76 years old now, your life expectancy is approximately 11 more years.   Centenarians Club on a growth curve! People who live to 100 are known as centenarians. The worldwide number of centenarians is now estimated around 450,000. In 2005, the U.S. had the greatest number – more than 55,000 – and Japan was second with 25,000. In Canada the number of centenarians rose from 3,125 to 3,795 – a 21% increase between 1996 and 2001 . This is phenomenal, considering the life expectancy of their generation was only 56 years! Of note, the ratio of centenarian women to men is 4 to 1. Today, our fastest-growing population segment is the “oldest old” – those greater than 80 years of age. In Canada, this group’s numbers soared 41% between 1991-2001.   The Biblical character, Methuselah, reportedly lived 969 years. The world’s oldest living organism, a 4,700-year-old bristlecone pine, is also aptly named Methuselah. What implications do our increasing numbers of Methuselahs have for you and your family, your business, or your workplace?   Vol.2, No. 15; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE...

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Why Geriatrics and Gerontology Matter

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Caregiving, Health Care Team and System | 0 comments

Aging is complex – and unique to each individual. When older adults experience acute illness, they need – and deserve – specialized care. Health professionals specialized in Geriatrics or Gerontology have the expertise to recognize normal aging, identify common diseases of old age and provide holistic care. The term “Geriatric” refers to the study, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases associated with aging. The term “Gerontology” is derived from Greek, and means “the study of elders”. Gerontology is multidisciplinary and therefore looks at physical, mental and social aspects of a senior’s life.  Why know these terms? There are a variety of practitioners in your community. Knowing how to find those with specialized knowledge and expertise will help you or a senior family member get the best possible care. In hospital: A geriatrician is as important to an older adult as a pediatrician is to a child! So ask for a geriatrician – a physician who can work with the health care team to determine an appropriate plan of care. Geriatricians have been certified in Canada since 1981. For more information, visit their website: http://canadiangeriatrics.com/ In a long-term care facility: Ask for a Certified Gerontological Nurse. These nurses have written national certification exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Their education makes them exemplary problem-solvers. As part of the health care team, their focus includes avoiding the dangers of over-treating as well as under- treating chronic and acute health problems in older adults. In the community: If a senior is still healthy and wants to stay that way as long as possible, look for a Geriatric or Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Contact your local health authority or the provincial nursing association to locate resources near you. For more information, visit the Canadian Gerontological Nurses Association website: http://cgna.net/ Vol.2, No.9; © ElderWise Inc. 2005 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our...

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