St. George Village Blog
Category Archive: Independent Living Knowledge Center Lifestyle Wellness
Posted on July 28, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
by Gary Player
As a professional golfer, it has always been important to me to stay in shape—and you can do so, too. As a matter of fact, my commitment to health and fitness has been a big part of my success in golf, winning tournaments over the course of five decades. However, as I get older, I realize that it takes a little bit more stretching, a little more training and a little more recovery time to keep in shape.
Most older people face such struggles, no matter how athletic they have been throughout their lives.
Staying fit is extremely important at any age, and not just for athletes. It can lead to improved sleep, weight control, concentration and mood.
It’s important for you to keep active as you get older to help stave off high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as other medical conditions that seniors often face, such as osteoporosis and depression.
Keeping in shape can also reduce the likelihood of falls and help you remain independent for years to come. For instance, regular jogging increases men’s life expectancy by 6.2 years and women’s by 5.6 years, the Copenhagen City Heart Study found.
Fortunately, you can get in shape at just about any age. Consider the more than 10,000 adults over the age of 50 who participate every two years at the National Senior Games presented by Humana. They’re an excellent example of people who not only recognize the importance of fitness but excel at multiple athletic activities.
You don’t need to be a super-athlete to stay in shape, but it’s important to get out there and do something. Here are three tips to help you keep fit:
• Fitness Classes. Many health plans offer fitness classes—such as SilverSneakers through Humana Medicare Advantage—or yoga to give older individuals a fun, easy way to stay in shape. Staying fit in a group setting can be motivating and help you stay social.
• Health Screenings & Annual Physicals. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all Medicare members now have access to one free annual wellness visit. Many preventive screenings, including type 2 diabetes and various cancers, are now also covered. Meeting with your primary care physician will give you more detailed, personalized information on what you can do to get and stay in shape.
• Exercise Like a Kid. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t exercise like a kid. After all, a recent American Cancer Society survey found that women are more likely to be physically active if it feels more like play and less like work. Simply jump on a bike or play an interactive video game, such as Wii bowling or—my favorite—Wii golf. You can also find multigenerational playgrounds across the country to help stay in shape.
Posted on May 10, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
As you get older, your risk for health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, increases. You also have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes if you have a family history of the disease. But it’s never too late to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Research shows that modest weight loss through healthy eating and being active can help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in people over age 60.
If you are overweight, losing 5 to 7 percent of your current body weight can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means a weight loss of about 10 to 14 pounds. Talk to your doctor about setting safe weight loss goals and ways to be more active.
Once you set your goals, decide what small steps you will take to get started. For example, you might say, “I will walk for 10 minutes after lunch to be more active each day” until you reach at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Be active, move more and sit less to help yourself lose weight or stay at a healthy weight and be more flexible and strong. Ask your health care provider how you can safely start to be more active. Before being active, be sure to warm up to get your body ready. Shrug your shoulders, swing your arms, or march in place for three to five minutes before you begin any activity.
There are many ways you can get active at little or no cost, such as walking or doing chair exercises. Find an activity you can enjoy so you can stay at it. This will make it easier to stick to your plan and reach your goals. Try these ideas:
• Around the House. Things that you do every day can help you be more active. Stand up from a chair and sit down again without using your hands. Rise up and down on your toes while standing and holding on to a stable chair or countertop. When you watch TV, stretch and move around during commercial breaks. You can also walk around the house when you talk on the phone. Follow along with a video for older adults that shows you how to get active.
• Around Town. Being more active can also be a great way to meet friends. Join a local walking group. Always walk in safe places such as the mall, museum or a community center. Wear shoes that fit your feet and provide comfort and support.
• While Running Errands. Make getting active a part of your regular day. If it is safe, park the car farther away from stores or restaurants. If you take the bus or train-and the area is safe-get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
• With Your Family. Get your family involved to make being active more fun. Teach the younger people in your life the dances you enjoy. Plan a trip to the local pool and go for a swim together. Moving around in the water is gentle on your joints.
• Get Outside. When you can, get active outside. Take care of a garden or wash your car. Enjoy a brisk walk with friends or family around a park, museum or zoo.
For more tips to help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, download or order the “It’s Not Too Late to Prevent Diabetes. Take Your First Step Today” tip sheet or “Small Steps. Big Rewards. Your Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Information for Patients” booklet from the National Diabetes Education Program or call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337).
—From The National Diabetes Education Program
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
We’ve all heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Research shows an aspirin a day may do the same.
How often have you heard about chewing an aspirin if you feel the symptoms of a heart attack? If it’s that critical to get the medication to your system, isn’t it as important to know you are taking a safe dose?
Good news — there is a simple blood test that is available to aid your doctor in assessing response to aspirin.
For many Americans, a “baby” aspirin is prescribed — 81 mg — for ongoing preventative care post-cardiac procedure or even as a precautionary way to help prevent stroke. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) encourages aspirin intake for men aged 45-79 years to help prevent myocardial infarctions (also known as heart attacks) and women aged 55-79 years because of a potential benefit of stroke prevention. Always check with your physician before embarking on an aspirin regimen.
Since it’s known there are potential side effects with aspirin use, particularly stomach upset due to potential bleeding risks, you will want to be sure you are getting the optimal effect with the lowest dose possible. The VerifyNow System is a product that tests for aspirin-providing the physician information on platelet reactivity. Aspirin and drugs like clopidogrel (the generic form of the branded drug Plavix) are anti-platelet medications designed to prevent the blood cells from “sticking together.” The medications can help prevent a clot, which can lead to a more serious cardiovascular event. Studies show that up to one in three patients’ platelets do not respond appropriately. Only your physician can check to see how your platelets are reacting and make decisions about your care.
As with other medications, some people often wonder if their medications are having the desired effect. Stop wondering, and start asking about a chance to see how your platelets are responding. The next time you visit your doctor, and you are asked for a blood sample to measure your level of cholesterol, or the technician measures your blood pressure, you might want to ask about the VerifyNow Aspirin Test as well. Like those other routine measurements, this test is also available nationwide in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Your health care provider wants to provide the best protection possible to patients, so anyone on anti-platelet therapy should be tested. To find a physician who can offer the easy-to-administer VerifyNow Tests, including one for aspirin and one called the VerifyNow PRUTest to see how the P2Y12 inhibitors (also known as brand name Plavix or the generic name, clopidogrel) are affecting the platelets, log on to www.accumetrics.com/request or call (800) 643-1640.
Posted on March 29, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
An active lifestyle contributes to a healthy body and mind — staying active enhances the immune system and helps prevent illness, improves memory, reduces stress and increases your sense of well-being. St. George Village resident Mary Ann Hearn is the embodiment of an active lifestyle.
When Mary Ann moved to SGV, she was pleasantly surprised to find the extensive list activities offered by the community.
“I’d visited one retirement place in Florida [where I was living at the time] and knew it was not for me,” she recalls. “But my daughter and her husband had been looking at continuing care communities here in Atlanta and when they saw St. George Village, they knew this was the right place.”
Mary Ann says she’s always been physically active and attributes that activity to her continued good health and mental sharpness. The former Miss America contestant and dancer enjoys the many fitness classes offered at SGV, such as stretching, strength training, Tai Chi and yoga.
“Whenever they offer an exercise class, I take it,” she laughs. “Tai Chi is wonderful for my posture and balance. And I particularly love the yoga class!”
Mary Ann says that participating in classes or other activities such as gardening and serving on SGV’s Election Committee have not only helped her stay physically and mentally sharp, but also helped her meet people and make new friends. She encourages fellow seniors to participate in activities they enjoy and to occasionally try something unfamiliar.
“It’s always good to try something new,” she says. “Or else you’ll never know. You may really like it!”
Posted on March 15, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans with a new Medicare card, you may take a healthy interest in how best to benefit from it.
One of the first and most important things to consider now that your new plan is in effect is prescription drug coverage. Perhaps the best way to save on medication costs is to utilize a pharmacy that’s within your Part D plan’s preferred network. Walgreens, for example, is a part of preferred networks with some of the nation’s largest plans, such as Coventry, Humana, SmartD Rx and UnitedHealthcare.
The benefit to beneficiaries is not only convenience, but cost savings. By using a preferred network pharmacy, you can recognize significant savings on prescription co-pays and medication expenditures.
It’s also important to understand the preventive health services you may need, what’s covered by Medicare and where you can go for these and other services. Medicare covers an annual wellness visit at your doctor’s office. In addition, immunizations, health tests and annual medication and plan reviews may also be available at your local pharmacy, so talk with your pharmacist or plan provider if you have questions on these or other services.
If you take multiple medications, many Medicare Part D plans will cover face-to-face annual checkups as well. Your pharmacist will review all your medications, vitamins and supplements, see if there are lower-cost alternatives and make sure you’re taking everything in the right way to get the best possible results. The pharmacist can then call your doctor to discuss any recommended changes, and you’ll receive a Medication Action Plan that you can share with your doctor.
Medicare Wellness benefits provide discounts on medications and services including immunizations, screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease. However, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only 6.5 percent of eligible seniors have utilized this benefit. That’s where your pharmacist can be a great resource to help understand what services are covered.
Visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about how to make the most of Medicare and your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Posted on February 22, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
The next time you have a pain in the neck or back, your arthritis is acting up, you are recovering from surgery or any of the countless other conditions affecting your ability to move freely within your daily life, a physical therapist can probably help. Physical therapists can even help fight complications from diabetes, such as loss of movement.
And, physical therapy is a covered benefit under Medicare and most commercial insurance plans.
Physical therapists are highly trained clinicians and more than 75 percent have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The discipline can trace its roots back to Hippocrates, father of Western medicine, who advocated “hands on” treatment, including massage, manual therapy and hydrotherapy for the ancient Greeks.
“Most people only think about physical therapy for help with orthopedic issues, such as a bad knee or shoulder, or in relation to sports injuries, but physical therapy is much more than that—it is a key component in the treatment of the full range of neuromusculoskeletal diseases and conditions,” said Matthew R. Hyland, PT, Ph.D. and president of the New York Physical Therapy Association. “Physical therapy can help people walk after suffering a stroke, help people with rheumatoid arthritis complete everyday tasks such as cooking or writing, and help people regain their stamina after a heart attack.”
Physical therapy is a cornerstone in the treatment of many musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, from arthritis to vertigo and from sprains, strains and fractures to stroke. It uses a variety of therapeutic techniques including manual therapy, exercise, balance training and patient education to relax, strengthen and heal muscles.
Its primary goal is to help maintain, restore or improve motion and mobility that has been impaired by disability, injury or disease. It can also help eliminate pain in tendinitis, bursitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, offering an alternative to costly medications and injections. Plus, by eliminating pain and restoring mobility, it can often help avoid the need for surgery.
To find out more about physical therapy and how it can help you, go to www.moveforwardny.com.
Posted on February 15, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
In recognition of February as National Heart Health month, North Fulton Hospital is sponsoring Go Red, North Fulton!, a campaign that encourages women to be proactive about their health by learning more about heart disease risks and making heart-healthy changes in their lives. St. George Village staff and residents recently dressed in red to show their support for the hospital and Go Red, North Fulton!
Go Red, North Fulton! is a community program modeled on the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women® campaign, which was started 10 years ago to call attention to the fact that cardiovascular disease claims the lives of more than half a million women every year.
Posted on January 26, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
It’s been making headlines across the country this week: the norovirus, first spotted in Australia, is now sweeping the U.S. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), contaminated food is one of the primary culprits in spreading the virus.
Did you know that 76 million people get sick from food borne illnesses in the United States every year? As we age, our bodies change – including our immune systems — making older people more susceptible to food borne illness and food poisoning.
The good news is there are many things seniors — and people of any age — can do to prevent the spread of illnesses such as norovirus and food poisoning:
• Practice good hygiene, especially before handling food. Washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water is one of the best ways to ward off viral germs. Hand sanitizers, while not quite as effective as actual hand-washing, are helpful and can be easily stored in your car or purse.
• Thoroughly rinse and dry fresh produce before consuming.
• If you are ill, don’t prepare food for others.
• Don’t consume any raw or undercooked shellfish.
And here are some food safety tips to keep in mind when dining out in restaurants:
• Ask questions about the way the food is prepared.
• Ask whether or not food contains uncooked ingredients, such as eggs, poultry or fish.
• Ask the server or chef if the food has been cooked to a safe minimum temperature.
• Avoid buffets, which may contain undercooked foods or have foods that have been at room temperature too long.
• Observe your food when it is served; if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t!
• If you get a “doggy bag”, refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours after purchase.
Posted on January 14, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
Recent studies show that bone and teeth health, as well as breast, colon and immune system health, can be improved simply by making sure you get enough vitamin D.
Senior citizens, especially, can be affected by low levels of vitamin D. According to a study published in the Archives of International Medicine, an estimated 40-100 percent of older adults in the United States are deficient in vitamin D. As a result, they can experience declines in thinking, learning and memory, and may have an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, this deficiency has been linked to bone fractures and various chronic diseases.
Since it can be very difficult to take in enough vitamin D through diet alone, many health experts recommend an increase to the Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin D, suggesting you get a minimum of 2,000 IUs each day.
And while your body will naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, doctors recommend you use sunblock when you go out to protect yourself from skin cancer — which prevents absorption of the vitamin. In addition, the lack of sunshine in many locations or a person’s lack of mobility — and therefore inability to go outdoors — means that many people are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get the vitamin D you need:
• Take a nutritional supplement, readily available at your local pharmacy or grocery store .
• Add one tablespoon of white cod liver oil or other fish liver oils to your diet daily.
• Use mushrooms in salads and soups.
• Drink beverages fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice and soy.
• Breakfast or snack on cereal fortified with vitamin D.
• Include several varieties of fish in your diet, especially salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines.
Posted on January 7, 2013 by Stacy Anthony
St. George Village resident Breda Kosakowski has been living with macular deneration for the past 12 years. The disease, which causes loss of vision in the center of the visual field and leaves only peripheral vision, is a major cause of visual impairment in older adults.
Undaunted by her diagnosis, Breda still lives independently and has found many aids to help her cope with her vision loss, such as a talking watch, a magnifying screen for reading books and magazines, and a magnifying glass for reading menus in restaurants. But some things were a little trickier to figure out, such as food preparation.
“When I’d make a salad, I used to tease my husband about what he might find in it!” she laughs. “I couldn’t see the food I was chopping on my white cutting board. But using a black cutting board solved the problem.”
In addition, Breda, who enjoys participating in fitness classes at SGV, was concerned that her disability would affect her ability to participate in physical activities. “I particuarly love line dancing, but worried that my impaired vision would keep me from being able to follow the steps,” she explains. “But we practice the steps before we try the dance and the instructor counts for us. I found my vision loss didn’t really affect me. I can still dance!”
Breda adds that her fitness activities have contributed to her overall good health. “When I went for my most recent annual physical, I told my doctor about all of the exercise I get here at St. George Village,” she says. “I said that I do line dancing, yoga, tai chi, strength training, cardio and stretching. She was very impressed.”
Breda has also revived her poker playing skills since coming to live at SGV four years ago. “I love poker! Some friends found ‘jumbo’ poker cards for me and the other players call out the cards as they’re dealt,” she explains. “I just have to remember everything they say!”
Although Breda continues to visit her eye doctor on a regular basis, her eyes have been stable for quite a while. She considers herself fortunate. “As long as I’m stable, I’m good,” she says.
Best of all, Breda says she’s never let her visual impairment interfere with her zest for life: “I’m busy every day of the week!”