Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Later this week is Veteran’s day and with privilege I dedicate this column to three veterans near and dear to me – Len, Billie, and my Dad. I thank god for them and all veterans like them without whom we wouldn’t have freedoms we’ve grown accustomed to. Freedoms we as Americans take for granted. As citizens of the United States, we have many freedoms people of other countries do not have. We have luxuries, both materialistic and untouchable, making our lives and our children's lives so very much better. We have the power to choose, to state our thoughts and ideas and to move freely within our own country. We have the right to protest, vote and purchase our own homes. We can protect our families and ourselves. However, these luxuries did not come without a price. Many U.S. Military men and women encountered some of the most gruesome battles, triumphing over some of the biggest nations to maintain the very freedoms we have today. As U.S. Soldiers, they left the soil of their own country to save the solid ground we walk on today, forever changing their lives and that of their families. Sadly, many soldiers paid for our freedom with their own lives. As U.S. Citizens, we all owe much gratitude to those who have fought for us and our country, because we treasure the peace and freedom we have. Slightly less than half of all Americans who ever served during wartime in our country’s history are alive today and nearly 80% of all of today’s veterans served during a war. The largest group of veterans fought in World War II. You might (or might not) be surprised to know that there are approximately 28,000 veterans in Niagara County according to the census. To commemorate Veteran’s Day, Lewiston Genealogy Librarian an author Michelle Kratts will present a special program on Friday, November 11th from 10:30 – 11:30am at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport about Niagara County during World War II. Stories and photos will depict the home-front, rationing, and the contributions people in our county made to the war. Michelle’s recently published book will also be available.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Are you concerned about memory problems? Most people with dementia remain undiagnosed by their primary care providers, and families often fail to recognize the significance of early cognitive symptoms. In response, there has been a growing interest in screenings for memory problems. November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) annual National Memory Screening Day is scheduled for Thursday, November 17th, from 1:00 – 3:30pm. The Dale Association is honored to be selected as a site for the National Memory Screening Day, along with many other community organizations across the country. Community members are invited to be proactive about their memory health and check up on their memory. National Memory Screening Day is an annual initiative spearheaded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), in collaboration with more than 2,000 community sites across the nation that promotes early detection of memory problems as well as Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and encourages appropriate intervention. As part of National Memory Screening Day, free, confidential memory screenings are offered as well as follow up resources and information about dementia and successful aging. These screenings are not a diagnosis, but can suggest whether a medical evaluation would be beneficial. Extensive study has indicated that these screenings are of value to individuals who participate in them. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to treat one of these conditions. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America says the continuing growth of National Memory Screening Day reinforces the need for this service. Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is rising in line with the swell of baby boomers. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years beyond age 65. Unfortunately, with an issue as sensitive as Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses, there is often misinformation. AFA has provided us with some facts to address some of the more common misconceptions about memory screening and National Memory Screening Day. AFA believes that all individuals should be empowered to make informed decisions to better manage their own health, not discouraged from screening based on misinformation and urges anyone concerned about memory changes, at risk of Alzheimer’s disease due to family history or who wants to check their memory now and for future comparison to get screened. Memory screenings are a significant first step toward finding out if a person may have a memory problem. Memory problems could be caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other medical conditions. The memory screening tests made available to participating sites (including The Dale Association) are validated for effectiveness. It is important to keep in mind that NO medical test, whether for screening or for diagnosis, is 100% accurate and any test can produce “false positive” or “false negative” results. However, the memory screening test that AFA provides for National Memory Screening Day demonstrates 80 – 90% or higher probability of true positives and probability of true negatives in reviewed studies – similar to other established screening tests such as a mammography and Pap smear. The face-to-face screening takes place in a private setting. The person who administers the screening reviews the results with the person who is screened, and suggests that those with abnormal scores and those with normal scores but who still have concerns follow up with a physician or other healthcare professional. The person who is screened receives the screening results to bring to his or her healthcare professional, as well as materials with information about memory issues and questions to ask healthcare professionals. Information about successful aging, including the benefits of proper diet, physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialization and stress management will also be available. Please help us spread the word about National Memory Screening Day on November 17, 2016. Appointments are now being accepted for a free memory screening; please call 433-1886 to reserve your spot.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Every day, we take for granted our sight and ability to hear. Vision impairment can range from low vision to legal blindness to complete blindness. Sight accounts for 90 – 95 percent of all sensory perceptions. Sensory changes can cause less effective functioning in society and in carrying out of personal activities. And, did you know that hearing loss affects nearly 28 million Americans? It can begin gradually – with a buzzing in the ears or the sense that others are mumbling – or it may come suddenly after an illness or accident. Hearing loss can range from very mild, when only faint, high-pitched sounds or voices are not heard, to so severe that even explosive noises can go unnoticed. Unfortunately, most Americans wait 5 to 7 years before solving their hearing problems. Early detection will lead to an easier acceptance of the hearing loss and the possibility of taking advantage of adaptive devices and/or resources to make living with the loss easier. The general public is invited to participate in free hearing screening Wednesday, November 9th from 1:15 pm to 3:15pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Screenings are free of charge and offered by appointment. The audiologist will conduct a one on one screening and consultation with each individual to help them determine if further assistance is needed. It is an opportunity for people 60 and older to sit with an audiologist to discuss general hearing concerns. Appointments fill up quickly, so it is recommended that you call 433-1886 to schedule your appointment. The Dale Association offers free programs for the visually and hearing impaired. This multi-faceted program is designed to enrich the lives of people 60 and older living with visual and /or hearing impairment by providing: educational seminars, referral information, screenings, in-home assessments, assistive device resource center, on-going support and an on-site desktop electronic magnifier. Nancy Smith, program coordinator can link you or your family to community services and answer your questions about hearing and vision – all in an effort to help provide an improved quality of life. The Dale Association offers screenings and educational presentations several times per year. Please take advantage of the free services. Even if you cannot attend one of the above sessions, learn more by calling Nancy Smith anytime at 433-1886.
Choice, control, connections, and convenience – not surprisingly, these are the top desires of older adults, based on a recent survey. Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging derived 10 top senior living trends after surveying 600 senior living organizations, representing more than 1,000 communities from 15 states. This survey indicates that catering to the personal needs and interests of people by offering options beyond the basics and including more comprehensive provision for in-home care is a trend that is advised for the future. Trends are identified to allow developers and providers to address opportunities and create innovations to help shape the future of senior living relative to services, programs, amenities, and design. The ultimate goal is to create environments and lifestyles where people want to live, not where they need to live. Based on survey results, following are the top 10 emerging senior living trends. 1. Senior living residents are choosing to “age in place.” Residents will seek services and programs that will support “aging well” in place. These include home care and home health services, onsite health clinics, and geriatric assessment programs. 2. Health and wellness programs and services are top priorities. According to the survey, the percentage of senior living communities offering wellness programs for residents and staff will nearly double (from 40% to 78%) in the next five years. Fitness programs, wellness coaches, spa services, aquatics, saunas, and steam showers will be important features for the next generations of residents. A significant percentage of respondents are also interested in developing partnerships with health systems and fitness centers to meet the growing demands for health and wellness services. 3. Technology will be key to promoting and sustaining independent lifestyles among senior living residents. Senior living providers are developing residences equipped with advanced “smart home” technology to provide safe environments where residents may maintain a high level of self-sufficiency as they age well. Additionally, residents will expect easy access to wireless Internet throughout the community and more providers are anticipating the need to provide computer training for future residents. 4. Resident programs must focus on meaningful activities and intellectual stimulation. Resident participation in lifelong learning opportunities will continue to grow. Survey results found that three out of 10 respondents are currently in some form of partnership with colleges or universities. Within the next five years, it is projected that eight of 10 respondents will partner with academic institutions. Additionally, senior living providers are planning to significantly expand Web-based educational offerings to residents. 5. Senior living providers will provide services “beyond” their four walls. Senior living providers are going to be expanding “beyond” their four walls and offer services and programs to older adults living in their own homes. The majority of older adults live in their own homes and the trend is expected to continue as boomers age. To that end, providers are planning to expand services to community-dwelling older adults, including adult day programs, services to the home-bound, and in-home care services. Social connections are just as important to one’s health, and thus programs to prevent social isolation are important for community-dwelling older adults. 6. Long-term care is transforming to support person-directed care and meaningful relationships. For senior living communities that provide the full continuum of living options, supporting the needs and preferences of residents who require long-term care is a high priority 7. Residents are demanding “customized services,” driving the need for senior living providers to offer a customer-driven portfolio of services and programs. This trend indicates that senior living providers will need to focus efforts on offering “specialty” programs such as memory care, palliative or hospice programs, and rehabilitation or restorative services. Additionally, residents will expect more value for fees they pay for services, programs, and amenities. As educated consumers, residents will expect senior living communities to effectively manage expenses such as adopting energy-efficient environments. 8. Language, perceptions, and attitudes of care providers must be updated to reflect changing older adults’ needs and expectations. A senior living community could have “life coach” rather than an “activity director.” The old model of an “activity director” is not going to have the right mind-set to understand and know how to treat customers with higher, more self-actualizing expectations. 9. Senior living industry may become a hotbed for job creation. With a shortage of professionals trained in gerontology and geriatrics, recruiting and retaining qualified workers will be essential. At the same time, there is potential for new service businesses and growth in areas such as home care workers and transportation. 10. Above all, consumers want choices and value. If there is a single phrase that sums up the future of senior living, it is “resident choice.” The model of senior living has come a long way from the “we know best” view. There is no one-size-fits-all community or program. Older adults are demanding more choices, control, a redefinition of what community means, and convenience within and outside of the community. These choices include financing options and customized portfolios of services that take into account individual expectations, services, and programs considered to be “added value,” access to “on demand” services, and purposeful engagement in activities.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Adequate nutrition is crucial for healthy aging. Older adulthood often brings many social and health changes that can make it difficult to sustain a healthy diet. A recent study identified strategies used by community-dwelling older adults who maintain healthy nutrition in the face of dietary challenges. There are many changes associated with aging that can lead to poor nutrition, such as physiological changes in appetite, new limitations to mobility that can make acquiring food more challenging, and reduced social networks, particularly widowhood. There is a good deal of research highlighting the health risks of reduced food intake, but little is known about factors that can contribute to good dietary habits among older adults. The authors of this study propose the concept of ‘dietary resilience’ in order to encourage a better understanding of how to encourage healthy eating throughout the life course. Some of the participants in the study were classified as “resilient eaters,” and maintained or improved the quality of their diet over a three-year study period, while some showed “diet vulnerability,” or were unable to maintain a nutritious diet. The participants ranged in age from 68 to 86. The study identifies four core themes that were articulated by resilient eaters. Prioritizing eating well and doing whatever it takes to keep eating well were motivations expressed by resilient eaters who consciously made efforts to maintain a good diet. Some focused on the pleasure of good eating, while others stated that they were driven more by health goals. Being able to do it yourself or getting help when you need it were two themes relating to the resources needed to maintain dietary resilience. As the authors of the study note, being able to eat well depends on having certain resources, particularly a combination of knowledge, skills, health, mobility, and adequate finances. Individuals without these resources need to rely on either formal services, such as commercial or government agencies, or informal support that friends and family may provide. For many, there is a stigma attached to needing outside assistance. Throughout one’s life, good nutrition is important. Good nutrition in the later years can help lessen the effects of diseases prevalent among older Americans or improve the quality of life in people who have such diseases. They include osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic under-nutrition. Studies show that a good diet in later years helps both in reducing the risk of these diseases and in managing the diseases’ signs and symptoms. This contributes to a higher quality of life, enabling older people to maintain their independence by continuing to perform basic activities, such as bathing, dressing and eating. Poor nutrition, on the other hand can prolong recovery from illnesses, increase the costs and incidence of institutionalization, and lead to a poorer quality of life.
Medicare's annual open enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th. This is the time of year when everyone with Medicare can join or change their health and prescription drug plans for 2017. This includes anyone using traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage. Depending on our needs, you can switch coverage from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. You can also switch your Part D plan, which pays for medications. Any changes you make will take effect January 1st, as long as the plan gets your enrollment request by December 7th. Medicare beneficiaries will receive their Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage from their existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers. People should review plan changes as soon as they receive information from their providers. Changes could include costs such as premiums, deductibles and co-pays, as well as changes to covered procedures, tests and other provisions. Take time to review the information you received and look at all of your Medicare options; you may find more affordable coverage through a different combination of plans. Keep in mind that you may see a lot of ads for Medicare plans, but there could be a plan that's perfect for you that isn't getting a lot of attention with ads and mailers. This is an important opportunity to make sure you are getting the most from your Medicare benefits. Every year, Medicare plans change and so do your needs. It’s worth the time to shop around to see if the coverage is still the best for your situation. Medicare Health Insurance Community meetings will take place throughout the annual enrollment period to help you make this important decision for 2017. Get updates and learn about the changes to Medicare, the Medicare Health Plans, Medicare Part D, NYS EPIC and “Extra Help” Low Income Subsidy Program. Information will be presented by representatives of the Niagara County Office for the Aging, NY Connects, NYS EPIC Program, and Medicare Advantage Plans Sales Representatives. The following locations and dates are scheduled for your convenience across the county: DATE LOCATION TIME October 24, 2016 North Tonawanda Senior Center 9:30am 110 Goundry St., North Tonawanda October 26, 2016 The Dale Association 9:30am 33 Ontario St., Lockport November 2, 2016 Lewiston Senior Center 9:30am 4361 Lower River Rd., Lewiston November 15, 2016 John Duke Senior Center 9:30am 1201 Hyde Park Blvd., Niagara Falls
Thursday, August 25, 2016
They’re age 80 and older, yet they have the memory and brain power of people in their 50s. So what’s their secret? That’s what researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine are trying to figure out. A new study found that this elite group of elderly — or SuperAgers, as researchers call them — have brains that appear as young as people in the prime of middle-age. In fact, one brain region of this SuperAger group was even bigger and healthier than a person’s in midlife. The senior study author wanted to know what was different about the brains of people in their 80s who were super-sharp cognitively. For the study, participants in their 80s and older were screened. Only 10 percent of those who considered themselves to have “outstanding memories,” made the cut. Eventually, 12 SuperAgers, plus a control group of 10 normally aging adults with an average age of 83, were chosen, as well as 14 middle-aged participants, average age 58. Looking at three-dimensional MRI scans, researchers were surprised by the remarkable appearance of the SuperAgers’ cortex – that is the portion of the brain responsible for memory, attention and other thinking abilities. While the cortex had begun to thin among normally aging people in their 80s, the SuperAger group had a thick, healthy cortex similar to adults 20 or 30 years younger. Plus, in another brain region important for memory, the SuperAgers’ was actually thicker than those age 50 to 65. Researchers’ ultimate goal is to unlock the secret behind why some people are protected against the deterioration of memory and diminished brain cells that typically accompanies aging. She hopes her discoveries can help protect others from memory loss or even Alzheimer’s disease. Many scientists study what’s wrong with the brain, but maybe we can ultimately help Alzheimer’s patients by figuring out what goes right in the brains of SuperAgers.