Reading some old Christmas letters from my grandad. Glad to make a cameo, where my three year old self is described as a 'handsome charmer who, amazingly for his age, has a sense of humour described as sardonic.' A rude little man, even then!
Growing old is such an inevitable part of life it should be embraced with a light heart and years worth of wisdom and planning. January 01, 2019 15:46
Quite understandably, few look forward to the twilight of their life and all that it brings in its wake — deteriorating health, loss of vigour, restricted mobility, increasing dependence on others, not to mention a sense of foreboding and anxiety. Yet, ageing is an inevitable part of life that one has to learn to cope with willy-nilly.
At 74, I’ve found that old age need not necessarily be a period of physical and mental decline — though some ‘erosion’ is unavoidable — if one prepares oneself for it adequately in advance. First and foremost it’s imperative to prepare to accept old age all brace for all the restrictions or limitations it imposes on one’s mobility or ability to do things that one did when younger.
Equally important is the need to adopt a positive attitude towards life. Darkly regarding old age as the evening of one’s life must be avoided at all costs if one is to weather and overcome the difficulties and irritants that life is bound to throw up. An optimistic frame of mind or a light-hearted approach does help. Indeed, nothing prevents one from looking at the sunny side of life even in one’s sunset years. American statesman Bernard Baruch, who lived to a ripe old age, once remarked, “To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am!” And, when asked his age, British satirist Jonathan Swift once quipped evasively, “I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth!” Is there a cleverer way to parry questions about one’s age?
Also vital is the need for the elderly to stay physically and mentally active in order to keep geriatric health problems at bay, especially Parkinson’s disease. Regular physical exercise coupled with the pursuit of a hobby or pastime that keeps one mentally and usefully engaged, is the perfect antidote for the prolonged spells of ennui that plague the elderly. Keeping abreast of current affairs — political, economic and social — also does help to keep boredom away. And the spicier the social gossip or grapevine, the better.
My former British boss, based in Edinburgh and now a spry 84, still pursues his passion for fishing with a like-minded octogenarian friend whenever the weather permits. They jointly maintain a boat fitted with an outboard engine and like nothing better than to go off trout-fishing on their own. Further, he remains extremely keen to know what’s happening in Munnar’s tea plantations, over which he once ably presided as General Manager. More importantly, advancing years haven’t blunted his sense of humour which remains as robust as ever.
In fact, the role of humour and fun in dispelling gloom in old age cannot be overstressed. These indispensables are the spice of life guaranteed to bring cheer and bonhomie, besides keeping one’s mind off life’s grim realities. The elderly should let humour pep up their lives regularly by hobnobbing with those known to be witty and funny. And letting one’s hair down occasionally — the little that remains of it, at any rate — can certainly do no harm so long as one doesn’t overdo things or get carried away by American statesman Benjamin Franklin’s flippant remark that “There are more old drunkards around than old doctors!”
Old age, of course, gives one an opportunity to take stock of one’s life dispassionately and, at leisure, sift through and analyse one’s successes and failures, achievements and shortcomings notched up over the years.
Companionship, of course, is vital for the elderly. No human being is an island and isolating oneself from society, as the aged often tend to do, is not at all advisable. On the other hand, socialising — to howsoever limited an extent — can inject refreshing variety into the drab routine of a senior citizen’s life and give it a much-needed boost. There’s no substitute for staying connected with one’s contemporaries.
Old age, of course, gives one an opportunity to take stock of one’s life dispassionately and, at leisure, sift through and analyse one’s successes and failures, achievements and shortcomings notched up over the years. It’s also the time when the elderly inevitably reach ‘anecdotage’. They turn nostalgic and love to recall “those good old days” when they were young and life was radically different from what it is today. They try to pass on the benefit of their varied experiences to the younger generation though the latter seldom has the time, patience, or inclination to hear them out. In such circumstances penning down one’s experiences is a good way of keeping oneself usefully engaged in old age. One never knows — one’s memoirs may make the bestseller list some day!
True, physical debility will be a stumbling block for many, quite literally. Ageing and stiffening body joints will ‘creak’ in protest and make mobility difficult — something one should learn to take in one’s stride stoically. Some of the more spirited among the elderly resort to the pretence of acting and behaving as if they are not as old as they really are. This game of ‘make-believe’ is indeed known to help in making light of one’s physical infirmities.
Above all, peace of mind, which everyone seeks but few are fortunate to find, is absolutely necessary. It’s the vital and efficacious balm that brings equanimity to one’s life, helping to salve the inevitable discomforts, irritants and problems of ageing. And, of course, it does help to promote overall health besides physical and mental well-being.
The Biblical lifespan of three score and ten years is now a thing of the past. Thanks to dramatic advances in medical science and technology, we can now expect to live well beyond 90 years and perhaps even longer, given reasonably satisfactory health. And this, assuredly, isn’t wishful thinking. Indeed, it is said there are more nonagenarians and centenarians around today than ever before, negating American humourist Josh Billings’ caustic observation, “Three score years and ten are enough. If a man can’t suffer all the misery he wants in that time, he must be numb!”
Admittedly, many hope for longevity without the inherent disadvantages of growing old. However, trying to put off ageing is futile and unrealistic (no matter what such proponents may tell us to the contrary) for it’s an integral and essential part of life that can never be reversed. So we must resign ourselves to growing old (since it’s the only method known so far of living a long time!). And in the process let’s try to make life as fulfilling and meaningful as possible.
10 minutes of exercise a day improves memory September 24, 2018 15:50
Just 10 minutes of light physical activity is enough to boost brain connectivity and help the brain to distinguish between similar memories, a new study suggests.
Scientists at the University of California studying brain activity found connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for memory formation and storage increased after a brief interval of light exercise – such as 10 minutes of slow walking, yoga or tai chi.
The findings could provide a simple and effective means of slowing down or staving off memory loss and cognitive decline in people who are elderly or have low levels of physical ability.
The scientists asked 36 healthy volunteers in their early 20s to do 10 minutes of light exercise – at 30% of their peak oxygen intake – before assessing their memory ability. The memory test was then repeated on the same volunteers without exercising.
The same experiment was repeated on 16 of the volunteers who had either undertaken the same kind of exercise or rested, with researchers scanning their brain to monitor activity. In the brains of those who had exercised they discovered enhanced communication between the hippocampus – a region important in memory storage – and the cortical brain regions, which are involved in vivid recollection of memories.
“The memory task really was quite challenging,” said Michael Yassa, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, and project co-leader. The participants were first shown pictures of objects from everyday life – ranging from broccoli to picnic baskets – and later tested on how well they remembered the images. “We used very tricky similar items to to see if they would remember whether it was this exact picnic basket versus that picnic basket,” he said.
The people who had exercised were better at separating or distinguishing between the different memories, say the scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“An evening stroll is sufficient to get some benefit,” said Yassa, adding that the frequency and exact amount of exercise will depend on the person’s age, level of mobility, potential disability and other lifestyle factors.
The scientists also kept track of the participants’ mood changes. “With exercise you do get an enhanced mood. The question is whether that was explaining the effect we got on the behaviour or the effect we got on the brain and it wasn’t,” said Yassa.
Michelle Voss, a neuroscientist at the University of Iowa, described the findings as “intriguing”. “The brain regions involved here are also the regions that are thought to play a big role in the deterioration of memory with ageing. […] It would be really exciting to see this type of experiment in older adults,” she said.
Nutrition and Exercise for Seniors November 13, 2017 12:15
Eating healthy is a lifestyle choice shaped by many elements, including our stage of life, situations, preferences, availability of food, culture, traditions, and the personal decisions we make over time. All your food and beverage choices count. MyPlate offers ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs and improves your health. For a colorful visual of MyPlate and the 5 food groups, download What's MyPlate All About?. There's also a link for Physical Activity.
Take a look at A Brief History of USDA Food Guides to learn more about previous food guidance symbols.
If you want to improve your quality of life, this government site may just be for you!
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise DVD Videos for Seniors
Exercising to Reduce Obesity October 30, 2017 11:46
Obesity is a significant health problem in the United States, affecting close to one-third of all adults. Although genetics can play a role in the likelihood that a person will become obese, the condition occurs when the amount of calories consumed exceeds the amount of calories expended over a long period of time. Excess calories are stored as fat in the body, and with long-term caloric excess, an individual eventually becomes obese. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are ways in which to combat obesity.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regular exercise (and proper nutrition) can help reduce body fat as well as protect against chronic diseases associated with obesity. If you are looking for a reason to start an exercise program, listed below are five of the many benefits of regular physical activity.
Exercise lowers risk for chronic diseases Concerned about heart disease? Regular exercise is a proven way to decrease risk for these and other chronic diseases. It will help to prevent or manage high blood pressure. It also raises high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, and lowers low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. This combination will decrease the amount of harmful plaques that can buildup on your artery walls and keep blood flowing smoothly. Regular exercise can also help prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Exercise improves your mood
Feeling a little edgy? A quick workout will help calm you down! Exercise stimulates chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and relaxed. It also makes you feel better about yourself and helps reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Exercise helps manage weight
It’s a no-brainer. Exercise burns calories. The more you exercise, the easier it is to keep your weight under control. But remember that exercise is not a free pass to eat everything in sight! To burn 100 calories, most people need to walk or run about one mile. And one little chocolate M&M candy contains the amount of calories it would take to run or walk the length of a football field! So be sure not to overestimate the amount of calories you’re burning.
Exercise promotes better sleep
Having a hard time falling and staying asleep? A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration and productivity throughout the day, and exercise might be the key to getting better sleep. It can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
Exercise can be FUN
Tired of spending your Saturday afternoons watching TV or doing laundry? Looking for an activity that the whole family can enjoy? Get moving! Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling. Take a dancing class, push your kids on the swing, or try something new. Find an activity you enjoy, and have fun with it!
Starting an Exercise Program
For obese persons, the focus of the exercise program should be based on low-intensity aerobic activity with progressively increasing duration. Aerobic exercise provides overall health benefits, including fat loss, an increase in daily energy levels, and reduced risk of health problems. At the beginning of the program, the frequency and duration of the activity is more important than the intensity. Aim for exercising four or five days a week for 30 to 60 minutes. If you were previously sedentary, these sessions can be broken up into three 10-minute sessions, with gradual increases in duration.
In addition to aerobic activity, resistance or weight training can also provide some benefits to overall health. Not only does weight training make you stronger, but it also raises your muscle-to-fat ratio, which increases the amount of calories you burn at rest.
Despite all your inclinations to monitor your weight on the bathroom scale, try to resist focusing on weight loss. The body has a tendency to gain muscle or lean weight initially, so although your body is benefiting from the exercise, the pounds might not drop off right away. Focus on the quality and quantity of the exercise instead.
- Engage in activity that puts minimal stress on the joints, such as walking, swimming or water exercises, and cycling.
- Ease into your workout. Start slowly for the first five minutes to give your body time to adjust to the activity.
- Work at a comfortable pace that allows you to talk without too much difficulty.
- Focus on increasing duration first, then increasing intensity.
- Slow down for the last five minutes to allow your body to ease back into its resting state
- Finish with stretching exercises.
- It is important to gradually increase the duration and intensity of the exercises, while understanding that you will have to build up to longer and more strenuous workouts.
- Jogging can cause stress on the knees and joints and is generally not recommended for the obese because of risk for injury. Instead, stick to lower impact aerobic activities until you are in better shape.
- Obese people should be especially careful about heat exhaustion given that they are less able to adapt to temperature changes. Wearing light clothing will allow for better heat exchange while exercising.
- Hydration is very important for the obese, since they are susceptible to dehydration. Be sure to drink fluids frequently before, during, and after exercise.
- Slow down or stop if you experience chest pains, shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea, pain in the neck or jaw, or major muscle or joint pain.
Integrate physical activity into daily activity:
- Take the stairs.
- Park farther from the door.
- Take a short walk at lunch.
- Turn off the TV.
- Take walk breaks from work.
- Wear a pedometer for monitoring your activity.
People don’t just have time to exercise…they MAKE time to exercise. Be in control of your life. Make exercise a part of your day, everyday!
Prevalence of Obesity and Diabetes in the US 1994-2004 June 30, 2017 15:54
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2009-10, an estimated 68% of the U.S. Population was considered obese or overweight.
The high prevalence of obesity is a concern, because it increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
Why is Exercise and Physical Activity Important for Older Adults? May 05, 2017 10:40
If you’ve never exercised, or if you stopped exercising for some reason, you need not resign yourself to a sedentary (unhealthy) life. Programs like Stronger Seniors are designed just for you- to help you start slowly, and build up to a routine you will enjoy and stick with.
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Videos
Better Health - Diet vs. Exercise - Part 3 February 20, 2017 16:28Seniors enjoying their healthy longevity
Fall Prevention: Combating the Risks September 22, 2016 11:23
About 27,000, Americans over the age of 65 die each year from falls, says Kathleen Cameron, director of the National Falls Prevention Resource Center.
“That’s one every 19 minutes,” Cameron says. “It’s a major health problem."
With an aging population and increases in chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis, injuries and death from falling will likely increase, Cameron says.
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program
Poststroke exercise – the benefits September 20, 2016 13:06
This review focuses on the benefits of both exercise and cognitive training for stroke patients.
Primarily, increased physical activity had several benefits for stroke patients including weight control, reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer and depression.
The authors identified two types of exercise used in post-stroke training; aerobic exercise (AE) to improve cardiovascular fitness and resistance exercise (RE) to improve muscle strength.
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program
Is Yoga for Seniors? September 19, 2016 10:17
If the yoga sessions accommodate personal physical limitations, there's no reason a senior can't start this 4,000-year-old practice. It's a good idea to find out exactly what you'll be doing in your yoga class and discuss it with your doctor first.
Yoga has been shown to help alleviate many of the health problems faced by older adults. In fact, the many benefits of yoga are supposed to combat the aging process.
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program