St. George Village Blog
Category Archive: Independent Living Knowledge Center Wellness
Posted on November 30, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Every year, one in three adults over age 64 falls. But certain exercises and simple home modifications help reduce the risk.
“Half of falls occur in a person’s home. Falls are the main reason older people go to emergency departments,” says Steve Albert, Ph.D., co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Prevention Research Center (PRC).
The PRC is part of a nationwide network of 37 academic and community research partners funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find ways to keep people healthy. Several PRCs research ways to help older adults avoid falling. Dr. Albert is comparing the effectiveness of two fall-prevention programs, and health agencies will use findings in choosing which program to offer.
“Most falls involve changing location, such as while walking or moving from a bed or chair,” says Dr. Albert. “Sometimes, falls happen when someone carries laundry down stairs without a railing.”
But the good news is, there are many simple things you can do to prevent falls. Here’s a list of ways you can “fall-proof” yourself and your surroundings.
• Improve balance and strength;
• Keep cords, shoes, papers, plants and boxes out of walkways;
• Add grab bars in and beside the tub/shower and next to the toilet;
• Use a nonslip mat or appliques in the tub/shower;
• Install railings in stairways;
• Improve lighting;
• Avoid or secure throw rugs.
Posted on November 23, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing the illness rises with advanced age. Current research from the National Institute on Aging indicates that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years beyond age 65.
Residents of retirement communities that offer a full continuum of care have peace of mind in the event that they require memory support services. At St. George Village, residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s have access to Friendship House, a neighborhood devoted to their special needs. Friendship House features a person-centered approach that allows family and caregivers to relate to the person for whom they are providing care as they would to their own best friend. This “Best Friends” approach seeks to maximize the strengths of the memory impaired person — caregivers as well as SGV staff are taught techniques and interventions that help them understand what types of situations motivate, stress or relax their Best Friend and how to respond accordingly.
Recognizing that caregivers often “lose” the person they are caring for in the diagnosis and the bizarre behavioral expressions of dementia or Alzheimer’s, this training helps them provide a better life for their family member or spouse. Oftentimes, caregivers must realize that they need to be care “assisters” rather than care “doers.” By realizing that prompts and cues are more important than doing a particular task, everything becomes an activity done with a special “knack,” allowing caregivers to focus on the joy of the moment.
The Best Friends approach to care seeks to reclaim the unique personhood of those we care about and allow them to be successful each and every day.
Posted on November 12, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
As we age, so do our bodies, including our eyes. Many older people experience “low vision” problems like macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, degenerative retinitis pigmentosa and tunnel vision. But there are several things we can do to take care of our eyes and preserve our precious eyesight, as well as possibly prevent or delay some of these problems.
By following these simple tips, you can take the lead and be more proactive in the care of your vision.
1. Vitamin A is great for your eyes and will help you maintain healthy vision. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, yams and dark leafy greens.
2. Find out your family history of eye disease. In many cases, having a family member with an eye disease, such as glaucoma, greatly increases your chance of getting the disease. Make sure you include this when you discuss your complete family medical history with your physician(s).
3. Protect your eyes from the sun. Overexposure to the sun’s rays can lead to cataracts. Wear sunglasses outdoors and be sure to pick a lenses that have UVA and UVB protection.
4. Have your eyes examined annually.
Posted on October 20, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Keeping your heart in good shape may be simpler than you realize. That’s good news, since a healthy heart can be the root of a healthier you.
Dr. Sid Sharma, a physician with North Fulton Primary Care, says that one of the most important things people can do to keep their hearts healthy, especially if they are over the age of 65, is to have regular check-ups with their physician.
“Your primary care physician knows your medical history, can assess your health risks, and will keep you up to date on preventive care, such as cholesterol screenings,” he says. “And if you already have a heart condition, see your cardiologist on a regular basis.”
Diet and exercise also play important roles in heart health. A healthy diet isn’t age specific, says Dr. Sharma.
Residents of continuum of care retirement communities like St. George Village can take advantage of the healthy meals and food choices offered there. “But if you eat out, try to avoid fast foods and fried foods,” Dr. Sharma cautions. “The one thing I really harp on is salt intake— try not to have a salt shaker nearby. Watch out for processed foods. My rule of thumb is, if a product has a long shelf life, it probably contains a lot of salt. High salt intake can worsen heart conditions.”
You can make other healthy food choices such as using extra virgin olive oil and garlic in cooking and eating nuts. Red wine can also be heart healthy, but in moderation — about a half glass per day.
Regular exercise — even as little as 30 minutes a day — can go a long way toward promoting heart health.
If exercise hasn’t been a part of your routine, Dr. Sharma advises starting out slowly and building up your endurance. “If you’ve been inactive for a while, start exercising for 30 minutes a couple of days a week. Walk or go to a fitness center. Swimming is a great form of exercise, too, because it’s easier on the knees and hips,” he states.
It’s also important to know your own body and pay attention to changes. If you notice symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, body aches or weakness, talk to your physician as soon as possible.
“Symptoms like these could indicate coronary problems, or they could be side effects from medications you are currently taking,” explains Dr. Sharma. “So it’s important to have a discussion with your doctor to determine what’s going on. Just don’t ignore the symptoms!”
Posted on October 14, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
There’s always something you can do for someone else, no matter how old you are! Serving others as a volunteer has many perks for seniors, including providing a sense of purpose. In turn, that purpose can provide a more active lifestyle — physically, mentally and socially — that can contribute to improved overall health and and a sense of well-being.
Many St. George Village residents have discovered the joys of service to their neighbors and have embraced the spirit of volunteerism. For example, several residents as hallway safety assistants, providing information and guidance to fellow residents in case of an emergency.
“It’s sort of like a volunteer fire department. When an alarm goes off, the hallway assistants knock on doors, let residents know what the situation is and how to respond to it, and assist them down the hallways and toward the exits,” says Director of Plant Operations Frank Wooten. “They start moving people in the right direction and half our work [as staff] is already done!”
Executive Director Mark Lowell says that it has been very gratifying to have so many residents offer to help in this type of situation. “It’s a great example of residents partnering with SGV and providing the best and safest possible environment for all residents,” he states.
Additional volunteer opportunities at SGV include helping fellow residents who need assistance in participating in activities such as outdoor walks and indoor games and social events, assisting with the community garden, overseeing a discussion group and more.
Many residents also volunteer outside the SGV community, providing their assistance and expertise to local hospitals, churches, after-school programs and others. They find that these opportunities not only make a difference in someone else’s life, but also enrich their own lives with new people and new experiences.
Catch the volunteer spirit, and you’ll thrive on the joy and fulfillment you find in serving others!
Posted on October 5, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Fitness plays a vital role in health and overall wellness, regardless of our age. But people who stay fit and active are more likely to experience fewer health problems — both physically and mentally — as they age.
The wellness program at St. George Village is one of the many ways the community supports the overall health of its residents. Wellness Coordinator Cathy Parker says that the program works to address the needs of all residents.
“St. George Village is a community that embraces the concept of aging well,” she explains. “We make sure to offer classes on every fitness level for our residents, whether they’re in shape, have been inactive for a long time or are, perhaps, recovering from an illness.”
SGV’s fitness roster includes:
• An introductory general exercise and stretching class that includes standing and sitting exercises, some cardio work to get heart rates up, and stretching to manipulate joints;
• A strength class that works on building stamina, especially in the legs;
• Line dancing, a fun way to build stamina while challenging the brain to remember the steps;
• A theraband class, featuring seated exercises, to build strength in arms and legs;
• A cardio class, also done seated, that gets the heart rate up by moving arms and legs;
• A variety of tai chi and yoga classes that improve conditioning and flexibility through gentle movements;
• An indoor saline pool for water aerobics classes, swimming, water walking and resistance strength training;
* A well-equipped fitness center for indoor workouts;
• A walking path around the lake for outdoor enjoyment.
In addition to fitness opportunities at SGV, Parker teaches a six-week class on “Aging Successfully.” Keeping the brain engaged and active is one aspect that the class addresses.
“Exercise is so important, not only for the body but also for the brain. It’s positive for your whole outlook,” Parker says. “You feel good when you’re taking care of yourself.”
So stay fit…and stay well!
Posted on September 21, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Staying active, both physically and mentally, is an important key to overall health. It also affects how long we live.
The mind-body connection plays a crucial role in overall health, particularly that of seniors. Mind-body communication is predictive of how well we age. Although genetics account for part of the aging process, there are still some strategies we can use to improve health, stamina and vitality.
One of our biggest enemies as we age is stagnation. Lack of interest in learning new things, resisting new experiences and a lack of social support and close friendships are linked with physical decline. From time to time, of course, everyone experiences a loss of enthusiasm for novelty or enrichment, but if we allow that to continue, it can have negative affects. By staying actively engaged with life, we can protect the healthy connection between mind and body.
Stress is an additional enemy to our minds and bodies as we age. Finding ways to reduce stress is important in preventing illness. Here are some suggestions that you can easily incorporate into your life to reduce stress:
• Encourage yourself to be social a few times a week even if you don’t feel like it.
• Spend some time each day engaging in an activity that interests you.
• Join a book club. Read, or if your eyes are tired, listen to books on audio. Consider asking a group of friends to get together each week to listen to a great audio book.
• Spend time outdoors and appreciate nature as often as possible.
One great way to maintain a healthy mind-body connection is to experience new things. Try a new hobby, make new friends or volunteer to help with an event or organization that interests you. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy a certain experience or decide that it’s not a long-term interest, you will still be enriched by your participation.
By staying active and engaging in new experiences, you are increasing your chances for mental and physical well-being.
Posted on September 14, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
When it comes to good health, St. George Village resident Helen Paris is a walking advertisement for the power of proper nutrition and exercise. The vibrant 93 year old — an SGV charter resident who still resides in independent living — says she is a firm believer in taking steps to stay healthy, no matter what your age.
“I suppose I was born moving! I’ve always been active and gotten a lot of exercise,” says Helen. “I’m not a fanatic altogether, but I must be doing something right.”
Helen says she puts in about an hour and a half of exercise every day, varying her routine with yoga, tai chi, leg lifts, aerobics, walking, floor exercises, stretching and more.
“I believe in working your body and using your own body weight mostly. I just try to do anything that will get my heart rate up,” she explains. “The exercise helps with my balance, too.”
Helen also pays attention to her diet, filling her plate with lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and cold water fish like salmon.
In addition to keeping herself physically healthy, Helen shares a couple of other secrets to longevity.
“For me, it’s important to stay busy and to be around other people,” she says. “And yes, some negative things will happen and you have to learn to cope with them. But I believe what makes us older people really thrive is using our energy and enthusiasm to enjoy life.”
Posted on September 7, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Did you know that your brain needs exercise to stay fit, just like your body does? Here are six simple ways to give your brain the exercise it needs and boost your memory:
1. Stay socially active. Being active and involved helps to maintain brain function. Spend time with family and friends, seek out volunteer opportunities, or get involved in an organization you support.
2. Use your brain. You’ve heard the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Well, research shows this applies to your brain as well! Crossword puzzles, word challenges and other games, especially those involving cards, are excellent and fun ways to keep your brain active.
3. Continue to learn. Attend lectures or take a class in something you have wanted to learn about. Reading and listening to the radio are also beneficial. Reading aloud stimulates more of your brain, so find an audience to share your story.
4. Use your muscles. Physical exercise helps your heart and lungs and may help your brain as well. Walking — especially brisk walking — has been shown to improve certain brain functions.
5. Retrain your brain. Change your routine and you will use starting using parts of your brain that are usually quiet. Rearrange the furniture in you house or or move your computer mouse so that you have to operate it with the hand you don’t normally use.
6. Feed your head. Eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, which appear to protect brain cells.
Posted on August 24, 2012 by Stacy Anthony
Many of us equate the word “spinach” with the caricature of Popeye, eating a can of spinach and immediately having the strength of 10 men. Even though Popeye is a cartoon, the message about spinach is true: spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. It can help protect us from osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer and arthritis, just to name a few.
• Anti-oxidants that act as anti-cancer agents, called flavonoids. A reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
• Carotenoid, which triggers prostate cancer cells to self-destruct and prevents them from replicating.
• Vitamin K, which is important in maintaining bone health.
• Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which are anti-oxidants that help to stop cholesterol from attaching to the arterial walls and, therefore, decrease the chance of heart attack and stroke.
• Vitamin C, which, along with beta-carotene, helps to protect the colon from damaging effects of free radicals that can cause cancer.
• Vitamin C, Vitamin K beta-carotene and riboflavin, which all have anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are important in diseases such as asthma, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis and migraines.
• Vitamin E, which helps slow the loss of mental function.
• Lutein, which protects against eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
• Iron, which is key for production of energy.
While spinach will not give you super-human strength the minute you eat it (like it did for Popeye), it will enhance your health and vitality. Eat healthy and live well!
Try this delicious spinach recipe from Chef Carla at St. George Village:
Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
1 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
Sesame-Poppy Seed dressing
Toppings: chopped cooked bacon, chopped fresh broccoli, blanched sugar snap peas, sliced red onion
Combine baby spinach and strawberries in a large bowl; toss with 1/4 cup Sesame-Poppy Seed dressing just before serving. Serve with remaining dressing and desired toppings. Serves 4 to 5.