Think it’s too late to “re-invent” yourself? Think again. According to Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging Magazine and executive director of Healthy Aging, it’s never too late to find a new career, a new sport, passion or hobby. Worthington is the creator of September is Healthy Aging Month, an annual observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. Now in its second decade, Worthington says September is Healthy Aging Month provides inspiration and practical ideas for adults, ages 50-plus, to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well being.

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Kansas City Home Care is pleased to offer a new service to our clients and the community. In addition to our traditional in-home care for seniors and disabled adults, we have started a Short Term Recovery Service to help clients as they recover from outpatient and other procedures. KCHC will work with you, or your loved one, to meet after a procedure and provide transport home. We will stay with you while you recover from anesthesia and pick up any prescriptions or other supplies you may need. KCHC helps provide peace of mind ensuring that you will be taken care of in the event that your loved one can’t assist or if they live far away. We will be with you to ensure that all goes well. For more information on KCHC’s new Short Term Recovery Service, CLICK HERE


Be a part of the solution and participate with us in World Alzheimer’s Awareness month in September. The Alzheimer’s Association has organized a group outing for the September 6th Kansas City Royals game.

Click on the following link to find out how you can help. Come cheer on our Kansas City Royals while supporting a great cause! ALZ-KCROYALS


Learn the many warning signs of a stroke.  Act FAST and CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY at any sign of a stroke.

Use FAST to remember the warning signs:

F – FACE:   Ask the person to smile.  Does one side of the face droop?

A – ARMS:  Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm droop downward?

S – SPEECH:  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  Is their speech slurred or strange?

T – TIME:   If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately!

Note the time when any symptoms first appear.  If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA – approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.  There are also two other types of stroke treatment available that might help reduce the effects of stroke.

Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as FAST as possible.

Stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known reason.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these symptoms.  Note the time you experienced your first symptom.  This information is important to your healthcare provider and can affect treatment decisions.

Source:  American Stroke Foundation 


Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home.  Many of them are seriously injured. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among older adults age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury or death.  In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.  Statistics related to death from falls from 2009, show that 20,400 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

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In commemoration of the month of May being National Older American’s Month, The Administration on Aging has given May 2013 the theme of “Unleash the Power of Age”. So, what does powerful aging really mean?

Powerful aging can be viewed as looking at aging as a natural and worthwhile process. Each and every one of us is aging every day. It is certainly better than the alternative and it affects each of us in a different way. However, aging is not all about decline. Everyone – no matter how old – can experience renewal. We must all make a conscious effort to age powerfully and make life’s final years more fulfilling and wonderful.

As we get older, we need to be more mindful of what we are doing to our bodies to become stronger and more agile. Exercise is very important no matter what age you are; however, the older you become, the more important it is. Strive to make your body stronger with consistent exercise. If you aren’t already doing so, try to incorporate strength training with weights to keep muscles strong and healthy. Aerobic exercise is important for a healthy heart and lungs. Plan to raise your heart rate 3-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. By incorporating exercise into your routine, you can remain more functionally fit which will assist you as you grow older to sustain your quality of life.

Be mindful of what you are putting into your body to age powerfully. Food is necessary for fuel and cell replacement. Fruits and vegetables and foods high in omega 3s and protein will help you maximize the nutrient rich content of what you eat.

Be open to the possibilities for growth and change as you age. We all make assumptions that when we age, change is no longer possible, and life becomes all about decline. But that is simply not the reality – it’s only half the picture. People grow and change in startling ways. And often the reason that individuals later in life make these changes is that they are actively involved with other individuals, especially younger individuals who offer support and inspiration and vice versa.

Aging doesn’t have to be all about decline, in order to age powerfully and positively, we might need to change how we do things and also be more mindful of incorporating regular exercise, proper nutrition, increased socialization and a more positive mindset. We all have the potential to improve and thrive and age powerfully if we focus on what can be done as we age, as opposed to what can’t.

Excerpts from this blog taken from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and also the Administration on Aging (AOA).


Alcohol abuse isn’t just a problem for those under 60. Alcohol and drug abuse, whether you are 25 years old or 75 years is often used to cope with grief, anxiety, depression or pain. Here’s what you should know about recognizing substance abuse in older adults and options on where to turn for help.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 20-30% of people ages 75 to 85 have experienced drinking problems and according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2% of older adults in retirement communities use illicit drugs.  While the use of illegal drugs by older adults, such as marijuana appears to be low, it does occur.  Typically, older adults who currently use marijuana used it throughout their lives.

The abuse of medications to treat chronic illnesses or pain and the use of over-the-counter medications is difficult to identify in older adults.  On average, older adults take four to nine pills per day between their prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.  The overuse of prescribed medications or combining medications with alcohol or other controlled substances can lead to serious and often fatal consequences, such as:

  • Falls
  • Cognitive problems
  • Sleeping problems
  • Depression
  • Adverse reactions that have the potential to be fatal

It is vitally important that older adults be forthcoming with their medical team about all the medications they are taking, both prescribed and over-the-counter.  It is also imperative that they disclose the amount they are ingesting and their alcohol and drug intakes.   If an older adult becomes hospitalized and the medical team in the hospital does not know that he/she has a drug habit or alcohol problem, the withdrawal symptoms could be seen as anxiety, delirium or an adverse reaction to medication.

It is easy to confuse a substance abuse problem with age related issues.  The following are warning signs that can help families and friends determine if a loved one might have a substance abuse problem:

  • Changes in sleep patterns and/or appetite that cannot be attributed to other reasons
  • Increased falling and unexplained bruises
  • Using multiple physicians for the same medical concerns
  • Filling prescriptions at pharmacies where data is not connected, i.e.—going to Walgreens, CVS and Wal-Mart with the same prescription from different physicians
  • New onset irritability or agitation
  • Periods of confusion
  • Empty liquor or wine bottles in the trash

Unfortunately, health care providers often overlook substance abuse among older adults because they don’t know what to look for or they mistakenly assume that older adults cannot be successfully treated or they can’t imagine a sweet 80 year gray-haired grandmother is really a closet alcoholic. Loved ones, too, may excuse an older relative’s substance abuse as a result of grief or loss or a reaction to boredom-it difficult to discuss substance abuse with your parent and even more difficult to get them to treatment for the abuse.

The good news, however, is that once in treatment, older adults are more successful at getting and staying sober. Some might feel this might be their last chance to get it right, and they aren’t going to let themselves fail. Others are motivated by their children or grandchildren and by the desire to create a positive legacy for their family.

Typically older adults benefit the most from a treatment program that is geared toward their age group. They have different needs, different issues, and different ways of recovering than younger individuals. Like all of us, older adults relate better to others similar to them, and support groups and therapy sessions are often more beneficial when the participants are close in age.

Also, many older adults have more chronic health issues than younger people and the treatment staff should be specialized to deal with the medical issues of older adults.  A high-quality treatment program geared to older adults will allow them to recover in a peaceful, quiet setting, while their specific needs are addressed.

 


As we age our dietary needs change—the days of eating junk food, missing lunch or living on fast or processed food needs to be behind those 50 and older.  Eating well is essential to good health and the older you get the more important your food choices become.  For older adults, the benefits of healthy eating include increased mental acuteness, greater resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Eating well as an older adult is all about fresh, colorful food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with family and friends.

“You are what you eat” is an old saying but a good one. When you choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins you’ll feel vibrant and healthy, inside and out.

  • Live longer and stronger Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong for the long haul. Eating vitamin-rich food boosts immunity and fights illness-causing toxins. A proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia. Also, eating sensibly means consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-dense foods, keeping weight in check.
  • Sharpen the mindKey nutrients are essential for the brain to do its job. People who eat a selection of brightly colored fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Feel betterWholesome 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 inside and out.

Older adults can feel better immediately and stay healthy for the future by choosing healthy foods. A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age.

What should be on your grocery list?

Fruits and Vegetables – Look for colorful produce because they are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.  Blueberries, red raspberries and dark cherries are ideal fruits.  Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli or Swiss chard are full of nutrients.  Carrots, squash, yams, red, orange and yellow bell peppers are also good choices—either eaten alone or incorporated into a soup, casserole or salad.  Try to eat 2 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day.

Dairy – This is an incredibly important food group for older adults.  Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures-you can’t get any other foods with as much calcium as dairy. Dairy is also a good source of vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones.  Although dairy products are good for you, stick to low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese. Older adults need 1200 mg of calcium daily.

Whole GrainsThese powerhouse foods are essential. A good source of B vitamins, they are also loaded with some of the best fiber available—a recent study shows that fiber found in whole grains is better protection against cardiovascular disease, infections and respiratory ailments than fiber from any other source. Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber. Seniors need 6-7 ounces of grains each day (one ounce is about 1 slice of bread).

Meat If you choose meat, choose wisely. Focus on lean cuts of meat such as chicken and turkey breasts which supply protein and vitamin B-12 without heart-clogging fats. Seniors need about 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. Simply divide your bodyweight in half to know how many grams you need. A 130-pound woman will need around 65 grams of protein a day.

FishOily fish such as salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which helps fight the bad cholesterol that tends to build up as we get older.  Canned salmon is also a good choice over fresh salmon. If you don’t eat fish at home, order it when you go out to eat—2 servings a week is enough to meet your requirements of this healthy fat.

Other Senior Nutritional Concerns

WaterOur sense of thirst lessens as we age-which makes older adults prone to dehydration. Sipping water throughout the day and with meals is important in helping decrease the chance of urinary tract infections, constipation and even confusion.

VitaminsAfter 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves vital. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin supplement.  We get most of our vitamin D intake through sun exposure and certain foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk.  Consult your physician to see if you need to supplement your diet with vitamins.

Tips for eating right

Below are some tips for eating right.

  • Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
  • Enjoy good fats. Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. The fat from these delicious sources can protect your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Add fiber. Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing your fiber intake from foods such as raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
  • Avoid “bad” carbs. Bad carbohydrates—also known as simple or unhealthy carbs—are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Bad carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. For long-lasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Watch for hidden sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Check food labels for other terms for sugar such as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned goods, and choose low-carb or sugar-free versions of products such as tortillas, bread, pasta, and ice cream.
  • Cook smart. The best way to prepare veggies is by steaming or sautéing in olive oil—it preserves nutrients. Forget boiling—it drains nutrients.

Ongoing commitment—sometimes easier said than done

Staying on course, whether it is exercising or eating right is not always as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips to help you maintain your good food choices.

  • Ask for help. Depending on your circumstances it might be difficult and to shop, cook, and plan meals. If the tasks seem too much trouble—get help from loved ones, neighbors or a service. It’s important for your health not to revert to frozen dinners or takeout food.  Nothing beats a home cooked meal.
  • Be innovative! We live in a time when there are cooking shows on 24 hours a day and good recipes are easy to find on the internet. Try eating and cooking something new as often as you can.
  • Make it quick and healthy. Cooking healthy meals shouldn’t be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make it easier to prepare quick, tasty meals.
  • Break habits. It is easy to eat while watching TV.  Although it is easy it can soon become a bad habit.  Sit at the table or in nice weather sit outside and eat.

 

 


 

As we get older there are a number of changes that occur in our body- we become more susceptible to various diseases—heart disease being a major threat to older adults.   84 percent of people over the age of 65 and older die from heart disease.  Though heart disease risks increase with age, it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older–taking certain protective measures can help protect you.

 

Reducing Your Heart Disease Risks

There are many health conditions that contribute to health disease and increase your risk for a heart attack. To treat heart disease you should:

 

• Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low
• Keep diabetes under control
• Take medication to treat angina (chest pain)

 

Your doctor may recommend medication to help treat various aspects of heart disease.  A daily aspirin may also be recommended to help reduce the risk of a heart attack.

 

Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

It takes effort to keep your heart healthy—changing bad habits is always difficult.

 

• Get enough exercise. This means at least 30 minutes of  exercise almost every day of the week.
• Quit Smoking if you smoke.
• Eat a heart-healthy diet. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting saturated fats, salt and foods containing cholesterol, like fatty meats.
• Watch your numbers. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes need to be kept under control.
• Reduce your alcohol intake. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arrhythmia, excess alcohol can worsen those conditions.
• Watch your weight.  Maintain a healthy weight—excess pounds can increase the chance of heart disease.
• Reduce stress. Stress can steer you to an unhealthy lifestyle and also cause depression and anxiety.  Find ways that are healthy to relieve your stress—go dancing, visit with a friend, walk your dog or play with your grandchildren.

 

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Warning signs of heart disease often don’t appear until you are having a heart attack.  Symptoms that might be signs of an impending attack include:

 

• Feeling faint
• Having difficulty catching your breath
• Feeling nauseous or vomiting
• Feeling weak or light-headed
• Feeling very full or having indigestion
• Chest pain or an uncomfortable pain in the chest
• Sweating
• An irregular heartbeat
• Unusual pains in the back, shoulders or neck

It is never too late to keep your health problems under control.  Start living a healthy lifestyle and keep your risk for heart disease in check.

LOVE YOUR HEART!

 


 


 

Resolutions made on New Year’s Eve are common. It is a time to reflect on the previous year’s joys, disappointments and challenges and decide how we want to live life in the upcoming year. There are always the old standbys—I want to lose weight, exercise, quit smoking, get healthy, make a career move, take my dream trip, all good resolutions, but other resolutions are specifically geared to those who are middle-aged and older.

Here are some resolutions that are not as common as the above:

• Keep your brain fit as well as your body. Engage in activities that require logic, memory and reasoning. Playing Scrabble, doing crossword puzzles, playing Words with Friends or attending lectures on topics unfamiliar to you are good ways to keep your brain fit. The Shepherd’s Center has a “Coming of Age” program which is specific for older adults. Check out their website at www.sccentral.org or call them at 816-444-1121.

• Become a volunteer—work with nonprofit agencies, volunteer at the local hospital, botanical gardens, pre-school, church, library, etc. Your life experiences and skills could greatly benefit an organization. It will give your life additional meaning, promote wellness, keep you involved in the world and give you a more active social life.

To find volunteer opportunities in the Kansas City metro area contact Nonprofit Connect at info@npconnect.org or call them at 816-888-5600. Also, the United Way of Greater Kansas City has a comprehensive listing of volunteer opportunities. To get a list of volunteer opportunities go to www.unitedwaygkc.org or call United Way at 816.559.4667.

• It is a growing trend to learn the history of one’s family—the popularity of www.ancestry.com and other similar websites have many individuals asking about their family history. Take time to write down family experiences or stories. Go through old photos and label the backs with the date, location and names of those on the photo. If you have a scanner, start scanning in the photos and make a CD for each family member.

Talk to your children and grandchildren about the family history and the historical events that have occurred since you were born. Often, we think our children and grandchildren know the family history but more often that isn’t the case. The days of keeping family Bibles and storytelling is not as common as it was in the previous century.

Make 2013 a year of discovery, a year of paying it forward and year of making sure your family knows about its history.

Life is what you make it!