Wednesday, December 2, 2015
“Giving Tuesday”, now in its fourth year, is a global day of giving. In the United States, it is observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. This year, it is December 1st. To coincide with the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with social media and with events throughout the year. The background of Giving Tuesday is that it was created to bring people together around the values of service and giving back to celebrate and encourage giving. There are many ways to celebrate – please check out The Dale Associations Facebook page and website for examples. Giving Tuesday harnesses the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness. As a global movement, Giving Tuesday unites us by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Enjoy an exciting, fun-filled evening at BEAUTY at Every Age: Mind, Body, Spirit and Home on November 17th from 6:00 – 8:00pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Learn from exhibitors, psychic readings by Juanita Louise and others, try some body pampering with a massage, watch the all age fashion show, makeover revealed, wine by the glass, and taste some delicious complimentary healthy foods! Indulge yourself; see, try and buy unique products and gifts from vendors selling jewelry, skin care and cosmetics, maple syrup, bags, heal your life coach, seasonal home interior decorations, women’s fashions, crafts, natural pet treats and collars, wickless candles and scented wax, and do much more! The public is invited to attend this free, fun, evening – that is sure to have something for everyone. Psychic readings by Juanita Louise and others will start at 5:00pm for a $10 donation, with proceeds donated to The Dale Association. The fashion show will include models from 4 – 88 years of age wearing fashions from Bling. The makeover reveal is being provided by Hair Chateau. Complimentary Healthy snacks are donated by Univera Healthcare. Bring your girlfriends, your sisters, your mother, your daughters – all are sure to enjoy. Event coordinator, Angie Blackley says, “The event is planned for women of all ages to enjoy a night out. They are sure to have a good time, enjoy the company of other women, and see the vast assortment of vendors – all from our community.” She goes on to say, “There will be many gift ideas, too.”
Thursday, November 5, 2015
We all strive for happiness – something that has been valued for centuries. Maintaining a positive mood can sometimes be challenging – especially in a fast paced, must get everything done environment. So, some natural mood boosters that are known to work are the topic for this week’s article. Gratitude: Genuinely try to feel grateful – it can bring more meaning and purpose to your life. Looking at the bright side of life and feeling appreciation for the little things in life are great ways to feel better. Remember to say “thank you” for all the little things in your life today. Exercise: Physical and psychological wellbeing are connected. When your body feels good, so does your mind. Physical exercise released the “happy hormones”. Smile: Research shows that if we force ourselves to smile, after a while we do start feeling better. And, it will work both ways. Smiling at somebody may just brighten their day – and receiving a smile may brighten your day. So – smile today! Vitamin D: new research shows that sufficient amounts of vitamin D reduce the chances of developing depression. Our bodies need sunlight to generate vitamin D. The weather forecast for the coming week will offer the perfect opportunity to get outside – take a walk and spend some time in the sun – take advantage of every sunny day. Socialization: Happiness is getting out and being with people, and that's why I recommend it. When it comes to managing our moods, we really do have the power to take control. Have a bright day.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Medicare turns 50!! Prior to 1965 when then president Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, many elderly Americans, as well as the nation’s poorest families, were forced to depend on charity for their healthcare needs – either that or go without treatment at all. The emergence of Medicare and Medicaid brought about rapid change – prompting dramatic drops in infant mortality rates and infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia. Since then, Medicare and Medicaid have: Filled gaps in healthcare for the elderly and for low income individuals. Transformed care for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Produced positive, long lasting healthcare results. Now, 50 years later, Medicare and Medicaid are essential elements of the nation’s health care system. Today, Medicare covers more than 55 million Americans, most of whom are 65 years or older. Medicaid, a joint federal and state program, provides health coverage to more than 4.6 million low income older Americans; nearly all of whom are also enrolled in Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). At the time these programs were signed into law, about half of older adults had no health care coverage. Over the past five decades, Medicare and Medicaid have become essential to the care of older adults and ensuring they have the opportunity to live healthy lives. Medicare serves about 1.7 million older Americans and individuals with disabilities receiving skilled nursing and rehabilitative care. Medicaid is the largest payer of long term services and supports. About 63% of nursing center patients and 19% of assisted living residents rely on Medicaid on any given day for their care. CMS has just released undated Medicare enrollment numbers, showing that more than 55 million Americans are covered by Medicare. In 1966, approximately 19.1 million Americans were covered by Medicare. In 2012, there were nearly 52 million beneficiaries covered by Medicare. Today’ enrollment numbers represent a 3 million person increase during the last three years as the Baby Boom generation has started to retire, CMS says. Community meetings to learn more about Medicare Health Insurance have been planned. TOPIC: Understanding Medicare Plan Choices for 2016 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. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is from October 15th to December 7th, 2015. Information is presented by representatives of the Niagara County Office for the Aging, NYS EPIC Program, and Medicare Advantage Plans Representatives. Medicare Advantage Plan Sales Reps will be present to provide enrollment assistance. DATE LOCATION TIME October 16, 2015 North Tonawanda Senior Center 110 Goundry St., N. Tonawanda 9:30 am October 28, 2015 Lewiston Senior Center 4361 Lower River Rd., Lewiston 9:30 am October 29, 2015 The Dale Association Senior Centre 33 Ontario St., Lockport 9:30 am
Feeling stretched caring for an older adult? It is well known that caring for a family member with a chronic illness such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, or other diseases is stressful and takes an enormous physical and emotional toll on caregivers. The Dale Association has received training to conduct a six part training program to enable caregivers to better care for themselves by improving their own self-confidence and problem solving skills. This program has been tested and evaluated through a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself. This program will help family caregivers: reduce stress, improve self-confidence, better communicate your feelings, balance your life, increase ability to make tough decision and locate helpful resources. Current research is finding that taking care of tired caregivers could be as important as providing care for their care-recipients. The class is being offered on Thursdays beginning October 1st and running through November 5th, from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY 14094. Two experienced class leaders will conduct each session. Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life. The cost for the six-week program is $25 and includes a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook, but is covered in full for members of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of WNY and Independent Health. Pre-Registration is required - Call Erie County Senior Services at (716) 858-2177 or email email@example.com for more information and to register.
As people get older, their driving patterns change. Most older adults drive safely because they have a lot of experience behind the wheel. Age-related declines in vision, hearing, and other abilities, as well as certain health conditions and medications, can affect driving skills. Retirement, different schedules, and new activities can also affect when and where they drive. When people retire, they no longer drive to work. With more leisure time, they may start new activities, visit friends and family more often, or take more vacations. Like drivers of any age, they use their vehicles to go shopping, do errands, and visit the doctor. Driving is an important part of staying independent. Most older people have drivers’ licenses. They tend to drive fewer miles than younger drivers. But, they are also keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past, often favoring local roads over highways. As the overall population ages, there will be more older drivers on the road. Driving is a complicated task. It requires people to see and hear clearly; pay close attention to other cars, traffic signs and signals, and pedestrians; and react quickly to events. Drivers must be able to accurately judge distances and speeds and monitor movement on both sides as well in front of them. It’s common for people to have declines in visual, thinking, or physical abilities as they get older. As a result, older drivers are more likely than younger ones to have trouble in certain situations, including making left turns, changing lanes, and navigating through intersections. Driving errors can lead to traffic accidents, injuries, and death. The risk of crashes rises with age, especially after age 75. Studies show that older drivers are more, and less, likely to be involved in certain types of crashes than other drivers. Older drivers are less likely to be involved in crashes related to alcohol use, speeding, and driving at night. But they are more likely to get into crashes: • at intersections (usually in the vehicle that is struck) • in which the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle • where the older driver is merging and the other vehicle is traveling faster or is in the older driver’s blind spot Fortunately, the rate of crashes among adults 65 and over has decreased in recent years. Research suggests that this decline is due to a number of factors, including older adults’ better health, safer cars, and safer roads. In addition, older drivers’ ability to “police” themselves — like not driving at night – and stricter state laws for renewal of driver’s licenses may help. Do you wonder about your driving fitness? A free workshop designed to help older drivers reach and maintain the highest level of safe driving is being offered on September 22nd from 12:30 – 1:30 pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario St., Lockport. Information will include natural age related changes and their possible impact on driving performance, strategies to maintain driving fitness, and the driver screening/ evaluation process. Lisa Thorpe, Occupational Therapist and Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, ECMC will be presenter. Please register for this free workshop by calling 433-1886. The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 64 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit www.daleassociation.com or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot. Side Bar: WHAT: A Road Map to Driving Wellness – FREE Workshop WHEN: September 22, 2015 TIME: 12:30 – 1:30 pm PLACE: The Dale Association 33 Ontario St, Lockport, NY RSVP: 433-1886
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
A recent study lends a fresh perspective to the famous quote, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” The authors of this study examined the relationship between cumulative lifetime adversity and human resilience. By analyzing a nationally representative sample of the population, the authors found that individuals who experienced a moderate amount of adversity during their lifetimes had higher levels of mental health and wellbeing than (a) people with an extensive history of adversity and (b) people without any history of adversity. Taken at face value, these results seem to contradict prior research which has consistently found the experience of adversity to be positively correlated with poor mental and physical health. That said, the authors of the current article emphasize that this is the first study to examine cumulative life adversity—compared to prior research which has historically analyzed individual events or singular categories of events. In other words, in the past, researchers have either studied the occurrence of a single event in a person’s life (e.g., asking a person to describe one adverse event that occurred during their lifetime), or a single category of adverse events that can be experienced by many people (e.g., rape). This study took a novel approach by to the topic of adversity by combining both of these methodological techniques to assess the cumulative effects of multiple events affecting the same individual across multiple categories of adverse events that tend to affect different individuals. If both the prior findings and the current study are valid, this would suggest that the experience of adversity, can produce both a debilitating effect in the immediate time-frame in which the event occurs, and a toughening (i.e., overall strengthening) affect over one’s entire life time. Consequently, this accrual of lifetime toughness would continue to bring new perspective to one’s future appraisals by placing them in a position of greater wisdom via the confidence stemming from the knowledge that they have successfully dealt with past experiences of adversity. In short, if aging is defined by the wisdom and strength that comes from it, then what doesn’t kill us may actually make us stronger—in moderation.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
The pleasures of summer include longer, warmer and sunnier days, celebrations with family and friends, and backyard BBQs. Summer can also bring with it additional safety challenges. Summer Safety – something we should all be thinking about. Limit your exposure to the sun. Place comfortable lawn chairs in shaded areas. Stay indoors between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. During the summer heat it is especially important to drink lots of fluids. Drink a glass of water hourly, or keep a cool glass of water within arm’s reach as a reminder to drink. Provide non-alcoholic beer or lemonade for backyard BBQs. Gardening can be a pleasurable and relaxing activity but can also pose risks. Keep an eye on sharp gardening shears or tools and closely monitor their use. Use fertilizers that are not harmful if swallowed accidentally and ensure that the plants in the garden are not poisonous. As our bodies age, skin and fat tissue, the body's insulators, tend to thin. Because of that change, seniors regulate temperature less efficiently, putting them at greater risk than others from heat-related health problems. Signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion are less pronounced in seniors, who: • Tend to perspire less than younger people—so their bodies don’t shed heat as easily as they once did. • May lose some of their sense of thirst and not feel thirsty until severe dehydration has set in. • May take high blood pressure and heart disease medications that remove salt and fluids from the body. These medications, coupled with heat, can cause a senior to become dehydrated—leading to confusion, organ damage and even death. The following tips can help seniors beat the heat. • Slow down. Strenuous activity in extremely hot weather adds strain to the heart. If you must be active, choose the coolest part of the day. • Take regular breaks when engaging in physical activity on warm days. If you think that you, or someone else, show signs of heat-related illness, stop your activity, find a cool place, drink fluids and apply cool compresses. • Stay cool. If you don’t have air conditioning, spend time at an air-conditioned shopping center, senior center, library, movie theater, restaurant or place of worship. • Plan outdoor activities in the cooler early morning or evening hours • Stay in the shade. A covered porch or under a tree are good choices. • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and umbrella to protected yourself from sun overexposure • Use U/V skin protection • Stay cool in your home. If you must be at home without air conditioning: • Stay in the coolest part of the house—usually the lowest floor. • Close curtains or shades on sunny windows to keep out heat and light. • Use portable and ceiling fans, and/or battery-operated hand-held fans and misters. • Install outdoor awnings or sun screens. • Use wet washcloths or ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth to pat your wrists, face and back of the neck. • Take cool baths or showers. • Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat. Sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit and vegetables are good choices. • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. Wear a hat or use an umbrella as well. • Discuss with your doctor how medications and/or chronic conditions may affect your body's ability to manage heat. • Take the heat seriously. Rapid heartbeat, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, headache, chest pain, fatigue, clammy skin, mental changes or breathing problems are warning signs that you should seek immediate medical attention. Heat related illnesses can get serious quickly. For more information, a lively discussion of important summer safety tips, and learning how to avoid common health problems associated with the warmer weather the public is invited to a free presentation on Monday, June 8th at 12:30pm at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Denise DiPaola, RN, BSN/ Community Outreach Worker with GuildCare will present tips and discuss: • Heat Related Illnesses • Medication Travel Tips • Avoiding Summer Related Injuries • Special Considerations for diabetes and other chronic conditions
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
As Americans live longer and technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated, older Americans can be vulnerable to scam artists and others seeking to exploit them for financial gain. They also can be vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The negative effects of abuse, neglect, and exploitation on the independence, well-being, and health of seniors are extensive. Elder abuse increases the risk of premature death and causes unnecessary illness, injury, and suffering and can threaten the economic security of older Americans. And it impacts elders across all economic, racial and ethnic lines, regardless of where they live—at home, with families, in assisted living, and nursing homes. People living with dementia are at higher risk for abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Cognitive impairment reduces financial capacity, increasing the risk of financial exploitation. Elder abuse carries both a human cost and an economic cost. It undermines our public investments in long-term services and supports. The costs of elder abuse are borne by public programs of the federal government and the states, private businesses and most importantly, by families and individuals. The Elder Justice Act, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, recognizes the nation’s need to address this issue. Since 2012, the federal Elder Justice Coordinating Council, authorized by the Elder Justice Act, has brought together federal agencies to build the federal capacity to address elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse; financial exploitation; and neglect (including self-neglect). It is found in all communities and is not limited to individuals of any particular race, ethnic or cultural background or socio-economic status. Because it often is hidden and unrecognized, and because the definition of elder abuse varies from state to state, both the incidence and prevalence of elder abuse have been difficult to articulate with great confidence on the national level. In 1995, New York State legislation established the Elder Abuse Education and Outreach Program to provide education and outreach to the general public, including older persons and their families and caregivers in order to identify and prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The program includes elder abuse education and outreach programs designed to support a statewide effort to increase awareness and prevention of elder abuse. To protect residents of skilled facilities, the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program services are provided through a network of local ombudsman programs hosted by county based profit organizations. Each local ombudsman program has a paid coordinator who recruits, trains and supervises a corps of trained volunteers that provide a regular presence in nursing homes and adult care facilities. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program serves as an advocate and resource for the more than 160,000 older adults and persons with disabilities who reside in New York’s long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen help residents and their families understand and exercise their rights to quality of care and quality of life. The program advocates for residents at both the individual and systems levels by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents, promoting the development of resident and family councils, and informing governmental agencies, providers and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long-term care facilities. As the population of older Americans grows, so does the hidden problem of elder abuse, exploitation and neglect. We should continue to develop public-private partnerships, as well as partnerships with state and local-level entities, to stem the tide of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Welcome to “Older American’s Month”! The 2015 Older Americans month theme is “Get into the Act” to focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, declares May Older Americans Month. The theme also reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in 1965. Since that time, the act has provided a nationwide aging services network that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. These services include home delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, community based assistance, preventive health services, elder abuse prevention, and much more. By promoting and engaging in activity, wellness and inclusivity, more Americans than ever before can “Get into the Act”. While The Dale Association provides social and supportive services for older adults year round, Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how older adults can access the home and community based services they need to live independently. It’s also an occasion to highlight how older adults are engaging with and making a difference in those communities. Throughout the month, The Dale Association will be conducting activities and proving tips on how to access programs and resources designed to maximize the independence of older adults in our community. When Older Americans Month was established, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Today, there are over 43 million Americans over 65 and interest in older Americans has increased along with opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans. To honor and celebrate older American’s locally, The Dale Association has scheduled activities throughout the month of May. Preplanning and Prefunding A Funeral – free informative presentation on preplanning and prefunding a funeral, presented by Amy Lange-Kenyon, NYS Licensed Funeral Director. Tuesday, May 12th at 1:00pm Understanding and Improving your Memory – In this fun and informative class, you will learn how the memory system works and how your lifestyle choices and age may affect memory. Friday, May 15th at 12:30 pm. Health & Resource Expo – all welcome for free health screenings, healthcare professions, baskets. May 19th from 10:00am – 2:00pm Images of Survival Art Show – Free multi – media art show featuring the combined talents of staff, program participants, and veterans. Wednesday, May 20th from 3:30 – 5:30pm Miscellaneous other and ongoing activities – other fun activities with the adult in mind include day trips, yoga, chair exercise, intergenerational programs, social sewing group, quilting group, kneedlers, candy makers, “Keenagers” group, classes, cards, volunteer opportunities and more. Older Americans Month was established to show appreciation and support for seniors as they continue to enrich and strengthen the communities in which they live – I hope you will join us sometime during the month of May.
The unthinkable has just happened – you have lost a loved one and grief starts to enter your mind. Understanding that now is the critical time to make important decisions, you begin to focus on what needs to be done in the next couple of days. This article is designed to be a guide to help you decide what to do in the first 48 hours when you lose a loved one and also some of the benefits of pre-planning. The decisions you will need to make may appear straightforward as you read today’s article, but when the unimaginable occurs and you are faced with decisions that can be overwhelming, this guide may become a valuable tool. Ideally, it is wise to speak with loved ones about financial matters, funeral arrangements, etc. before he or she passes away. This may be uncomfortable, but it will save you from having to figure out all the answers after the fact. Either way, today’s guide will help direct you through the initial steps that need to be taken once your loved one is gone. Being aware of your loved one’s wishes prior to his or her death will simply be beneficial as you navigate these steps. A number of individuals and organizations will need to know that your loved one has passed away. Use the following list to help you make sure you contact all the appropriate people. Family and friends: Contact family and close friends first, not only because they will be the most concerned group, but also because then they can take some of the pressure off you. Ask them for help with notifying relatives, friends and business associates – especially if you have many people to call. This is also a good time to ask people to take care of your loved ones’ pets, lawn, etc. Religious contacts: Communicate with your loved one’s place of worship to conduct the funeral service. Placing a note in the bulletin is also an easy way to notify others of your loved one’s death. Professional groups: Contact organizations with which your loved one was a member, was a volunteer or paid dues. These may be alumni associations, professional organizations or social groups. Employer: If your loved one was employed when he or she passed away, contact his or her employer’s human resource department and inquire about any final paychecks, sick time, benefits, etc. If you loved one was retired, contact the retirement administrator. Companies with which your loved one received regular service: Call banks at which your loved one had accounts. Notify credit card companies. If he or she received medication by mail, cancel the service. Cancel or change the name on automatic bill-paying services as well as newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Your attorney: Alert your attorney so he or she can assist you in taking care of any legal issues. Your accountant: An accountant can assist you in settling the estate if you are the executor and inform you of tax consequences or benefits of actions taken. After a loved one passes, you’ll need to confirm whether he or she had specific funeral instructions, such as a prepaid funeral plan or prepaid cemetery plot, and communicate those requests to funeral home. Funeral decisions you’ll need to make include: • What will be the time, location and day of the funeral? • If your loved one wished to be cremated, to whom shall the ashes be given? • Will the casket be open or closed? • Will there be any specific prayers, music, pallbearers or flowers for the service? • Should charitable donations be given in lieu of flowers? • Will a luncheon be served following the service? Who will prepare the food? • Is someone available to stay and watch over the deceased’s home, especially during the funeral service? (Unfortunately, some people look to newspapers for funeral arrangements and then burglarize homes while grieving families attend services.) • Is there a trusted friend of family member who can help you keep a list of people to thank for support, flowers, food, memorial gifts, etc.? Be sure to take advantage of the support you will receive from funeral home staff members. They can help you with numerous tasks, such as helping you obtain copies of the death certificate (you will typically need 10 certified copies for paperwork purposes) and even connecting you with a support group for survivors. Once the funeral arrangements have been made, you should inform the community through an obituary in the local newspaper.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
A new poll from the American Society on Aging and the MetLife Foundation asked people ages 42 and older about their brain health concerns. What they learned from the poll was surprising and encouraging. The data challenges us to consider how we as a nation should approach brain fitness going forward and what each of us might do, starting today, to take good care of our own cognitive capacities. It is exciting that discoveries in the science of brain health could hold great promise for improving the quality of life among older adults while enhancing the prospect that later years can be an era for continued personal growth, productivity and satisfaction. Do Americans think brain health can be improved? Do we use what we know to stay mentally fit? Is there more we can do to keep our brains in the best possible condition? These were the questions that the survey set out to answer in regard to brain health. The results may change how you think about brain health, too. As a starting point, it helps to know what is meant by brain fitness. For the majority, it is defined in terms of functional abilities — what we can do with our brains. For nearly two-thirds of respondents, good brain fitness is defined by abilities such as: Just over one-third (34%) of people interviewed think in terms of the presence or absence of disease as the defining characteristic of brain health. For example, the most frequently mentioned health aspect was not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (9%). What does “brain fitness” mean? 18% Being alert/sharp 18% Keeping your brain active/Exercising the brain 16% Good mental health/Not senile 14% Good memory/Ability to remember 14% Ability to function normally 11% Ability to think/think clearly 9% Not suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease An overview of the National Brain Health Poll findings follow: 1. We are optimistic about brain health. Nearly nine out of ten people think that it is possible to improve brain fitness. • 53% believe it can improve a lot • 35% believe it can improve a little AND: An overwhelming majority says that thinking abilities should be checked routinely, just like a physical checkup. • 59% say it is very important to get a checkup • 32% say a checkup is somewhat important BUT: Brain health is a low priority compared to other health issues. • Only 3% rate it the most important health subject for people their age • Another 7% consider it the second most important topic 2. Our memory is good today, but we have doubts about tomorrow. We give ourselves high scores on our current brain fitness, regardless of age. • 34% rate their current memory as excellent • 62% rate their current memory as good BUT: The younger we are, the sooner we anticipate that most people will begin to worry about their memory. • People age 42-49 perceive that worries begin at age 52 • People age 50+ identify age 59 as the time when worries typically begin 3. We know about activities that are good for brain health. Most people recognize that many activities are very useful for improving mental fitness. • At least 60% say to avoid tobacco, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, do puzzles, reduce stress, limit alcoholic drinks, spend time with family and friends, and see the doctor regularly AND: Eighty-four percent report that they spend time, usually daily, in activities that are good for brain health. • 68% choose some kind of art or creative project, including 48% who spend time reading • 44% keep physically active • 35% play games and do puzzles • 25% work • 22% spend time with others 4. Doctors are our preferred source for information about brain fitness. More than 70% think that most people their age would go to a medical professional to find out about the brain and how to keep it fit. • 76% of women and 68% of men identify doctors as the best resource for information • People in their 40s and 50s are more likely than those 65+ to choose the Internet for brain health news AND: We encourage others who are concerned about their memory to see a doctor. • More than 74% would advise close friends or family to talk to a doctor BUT: We do not do what we think is best. • Only 58% say they have talked about their memory or brain fitness with anyone • 47% talk with family and 42% turn to friends • Just 37% speak with a medical professional: 13% with a nurse and only 24% with a doctor Most Americans rely on their cars to take them where they need to go each day. We expect that there will be some wear and tear with steady use—and we also expect to get years of good service from our cars. We know it will not happen unless we take care of them. That’s why we schedule regular tune-ups and rotate the tires as needed. It is the same with our brains. We depend on them, and we have to take care of them. Today, brain science has moved light years beyond outdated concepts such as mental decline is inevitable once our brains reach maturity or we are just passive containers for a complex organ. Tremendous advances in laboratory research and demonstration studies point the way to a revolution in what we know about staying mentally fit at every age. What we know and do about brain health varies widely. Most of us have ongoing brain fitness routines. Many seek out the newest information about staying mentally fit. Some of us talk with those we trust about our concerns, and a few worry in private. All of us, however, hope our brains will last as long as our bodies. Sound data exist about the capacity of the brain to maintain and even improve function across the lifespan. The challenge is to make sure that American consumers have easy access to the good news about the latest discoveries in brain fitness and reasonable opportunities to use the information on their own or in facilitated programs. It all depends on reinforcing the critical link that connects research, public policy, programs and personal practice. That’s why the American Society on Aging brain-health poll is so important. Where do we go from here? That’s where the advice of experts comes in. Authorities in brain research and senior services take a close look at what Americans think and do about brain health. Here’s what they have to say: It's Time to Make Brain Health a National Priority • Brain disease is a major national health issue. We should make a firm commitment to brain health. It means investing resources and human capital in education, communication and behavior change about mental fitness. It is the responsibility of our society to each citizen and every bit as urgent as taking care of heart health. • Future research should examine the relationship between lifestyle and brain fitness. Longitudinal studies are needed to map what can be done over the course of the lifespan to nurture the brain so that adults can approach their later years with confidence in their mental abilities. • Personal brain-health programs should begin early in life and continue across the lifespan. We have enough information today to prescribe ways of nurturing the brain before birth and through the early years of childhood to maximize mental fitness through adulthood. Lost opportunities are expensive for the individual and society as a whole. • A sea change in senior services is fast approaching with the aging of the baby boomer generation. Our society is about to experience a major spike in the number of people age 65 and older. Improvements in technology and universal design are removing barriers to independence and opening possibilities for productive, active living well into retirement. The demand for more and better services, including those that support mental fitness throughout the lifespan, is likely to increase exponentially. • Doctors need continuing-education programs about brain fitness. Although consumers regularly mine the Internet and other media, they turn to medical professionals when they want to know what to do about their brain health. As the front line for public knowledge about maintaining brain health, doctors should have ongoing access to the latest news about brain capacity and information on how best to prescribe practical approaches that maximize mental fitness. • Social policy and social services must keep pace with developments in brain science. In the same way that consumers should “break a mental sweat” by challenging their brains with new learning, so, too, it is imperative that community programs incorporate the latest findings into innovative activities and resources accessible wherever people live. Program planners have a special responsibility to model positive brain-health behaviors by questioning old paradigms and incorporating current information into the design of services that they offer. There’s Good News from Brain Research • With good care, a normal brain can stay healthy and active just as long as the rest of the body. For some individuals, optimal functioning may be impeded by the presence of organic brain disease or the side effects of clinical interventions prescribed to treat medical conditions. Most people can look forward to enjoying a level of mental fitness that keeps pace with physical fitness if they regularly practice appropriate activities. • The discovery of two keys to brain capacity has fundamentally changed our understanding of brain fitness. Neuroplasticity is the capacity of the brain to change in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. Neurogenesis is the addition of new brain cells, or neurons, that can expand function or restore abilities diminished by disease and disuse. To activate these vital functions, people need to be in enriched environments that include opportunities for socialization, mental stimulation and physical activity. • Cross-training for the brain should be routine. A single activity, no matter how challenging, is not sufficient to sustain the kind of mental acuity that virtually everyone can achieve. For example, reading or doing crossword puzzles, though each is good on its own, offers only partial benefits unless it is part of a comprehensive program for long-term brain health. We now know that brain fitness depends on combining a variety of activities that differ in frequency, intensity and variety. • Physical workouts nurture the brain as well as the body. It is well understood that blood flow stimulated by exercise is good for the heart, lungs and muscles. Now we know that it is beneficial for the brain as well. People reluctant to commit to a regular program of physical activity may be motivated when they understand how it helps them to stay sharp mentally. • The results of brain workouts are long-lasting. Research indicates that gains from memory training interventions among people with normal, age-related cognitive changes can last for up to five years. Although specialized approaches are necessary for people with organic impairments, the potential for maintaining and improving function across the general population is impressive and encouraging. Brain Fitness Activities Should Be Everywhere • Pursuing brain health should take place at home and in the community. Engaging in solo projects customized to reflect personal interests gives great flexibility to options that can be incorporated into one's home life. Crafts, reading, writing, playing music and doing puzzles appeal to many people. A similarly valuable array of possibilities is available in communal environments such as senior centers and religious and charitable organizations. • Brain fitness is an everyday responsibility. Daily routines should include diversity and ongoing challenge to achieve and sustain the full potential of brain fitness over the lifespan. Some of our mental stretching can be achieved as an adjunct to activities that are part of our work or leisure routines. A thoughtful, proactive approach is essential to assure that we cover our mental-fitness bases every day. • Mental fitness activities belong in every type of senior housing. On-site resources and programs should be titrated to match the range of settings and populations, which may extend from complete independence to maximum support with activities of daily living. Especially when an individual moves into a new residential environment, services that offer appropriate approaches to brain fitness contribute to a smooth transition and promote positive interpersonal engagement. • Creative community projects are a rich source of mental challenge. Senior theater productions, which can be written, performed and directed by older adults, stimulate brain health on multiple levels. Bands and orchestras offer similar opportunities for mental challenge combined with social interaction. • Lifelong learning programs are ideal venues for brain fitness activities. Cognitive fitness is built into the very nature of courses for older learners organized on college campuses. The latest discoveries in brain science should inform how lifelong learning programs are structured in order to maximize benefits to the brain. Established programs can enrich opportunities by adding formal components that translate current research into practical applications and teach memory training techniques.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Research continues to show that social activity has a positive benefit on health and well-being, and studies show that more socially active older adults have better cognitive outcomes and are less vulnerable to progressive decline. For example, a study shows that over a five-year period, individuals with the largest social networks had 39% less cognitive decline and half the memory decline compared to people with the lowest social interaction. Social activity can take many forms, from one-on-one conversations to group activities. The recent study explored which types of social activity might have the greatest cognitive benefit for older adults. The researchers addressed this question by looking at the responses of 3,413 participants. These individuals were 50 or older at the start of the study, with an average age of 63. The researchers looked at the following factors regarding participants’ social relationships: o The number of close relationships o Relationship quality o Frequency of contact o Loneliness o The number of group memberships o Community activities (such as hobbies, going on day trips, etc.) o Participation in cultural activities Researchers then analyzed the relationship between the various aspects of social activities and found that they clustered into two main types. The first being group engagement (including participation in social activities, community activities, and number of group memberships). The second type is individual engagement (including relationship quality, frequency of contact, and number of close relationships). Loneliness did not fit into either grouping. The group and individual engagement scores were compared against performance on cognitive tests. The main finding of the analysis is that group engagement best predicted cognitive performance four years later. When changes in group and individual engagement during the first two years were taken into account, the association was stronger for group engagement. The researchers also looked at how the relationship might change at different ages and found that group engagement was significantly associated with better cognitive performance for older participants compared to the benefit it provided younger participants. The researchers also studied participants with above average scores on group participation compared to the average scores. Here, they found that if a person had above average group engagement, this person cognitively functioned at the average level of a 45 year old. The impact of group engagement for an above average 80 year old was even more dramatic – with cognitive performance at the level of a person age 70.5. The reasons for this greater impact of group engagement remain unclear and warrants future study. Some of the possibilities suggested for this include group relationships requiring more effort to maintain, or that group activities entail more intense participation, or group engagement may also reflect these individuals having greater social support. Research suggests that, although individual engagement does provide benefits as well, group engagement may offer unique cognitive benefits to older adults, and that this impact increases as people grow older. As the researchers note, “It would appear that there is particular value in directing investment towards helping older adults develop and maintain social group engagement.” Beyond cognitive performance, other studies have also suggested that quality of life has additional pay-offs in terms of well-being, and mental and physical health. As the authors of the research study conclude, “Consider what one would have to pay for the yet-to-be-invented drug with the potential to reduce the cognitive age of an 80 year old by nearly a decade.” Do you know somebody that would benefit from social engagement? The Dale Association is a unique non-profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 64 years.
Melt away the monotony of winter this spring break with “Spring Fling” an intergenerational program that is sure to make this years’ spring break memorable. Some will use the week-long vacation to travel, some will use it to relax and recharge, and some will rely on their parents to baby-sit while they work their normal schedule. “Spring Fling” has been scheduled for the week children are off school locally. On April 2nd from 10:00 am – 2:00pm, kids and adults can both enjoy fun crafts, games, and food. Grandparents (or parents) are encouraged to register for this intergenerational activity that will include coloring Easter eggs, games and activities, a pizza party, and fun for both the ages. The program is designed for school aged children of all ages and their grandparents or parents. It promises to be fun for everyone involved. Make the best of spring break and treat your child or grandchild to a fun and enriching day that will create a memorable experience he or she will remember for a lifetime. Intergenerational programs bring together children and older adults, offering them opportunities to interact and create ongoing, beneficial relationships and positive dividends in kids’ and seniors’ lives. Call 433-1886 and talk to Sherry for more details about these intergenerational programs.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to get a better handle on your finances? Maybe you would like to figure out how to save more? Or just to learn more about credit. Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo, Inc. will be hosting a series of financial education workshops at the Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport, NY throughout February in order to provide individuals with the tools and resources to better themselves financially. The topics will range from budgeting, tips on how to save your money, credit reports and scores, and identity theft. The workshops will be facilitated by Robby Dunn, Community Outreach Coordinator and Credit Counselor at the non-profit organization. Robby says, “In his experience, most individuals do not have a good grasp on their budget, and that the best thing you can do for yourself to create financial stability, is to have a detailed and thorough budget. No matter what your income is, a disciplined spending plan can lead you towards the path of financial success”. Consumer Credit Counseling Service specializes in helping individuals establish, maintain, and repair their credit and credit scores. “Over the course of one’s life, you can save thousands of dollars by having good credit, whether it is on your mortgage, your auto loans, or personal loans and credit cards”, Robby says. He goes on to say, “It is never too late to address your credit situation. If you know, or think you have credit problems, now is the time to address it”. The upcoming workshops include: “Dollars and Sense” – Trying to cut corners? Trying to save money? This class is for you! You will learn different budgeting techniques, creative ways to save, understanding fluctuations in expenses, debt control and the value of money. It will be held Wednesday, February 4th from 10:00am – 11:00 am // “Credit Counts” – Credit is expensive! Learn why and how to make it less expensive. Good credit will save you tons of $$$$. It will be held Wednesday, February 11th from 10:00am – 11:00am // “Identity Theft”- Are you at risk of identity theft? Unfortunately, we all are. Learn how to detect and defend yourself from identify theft. The average identify theft victim spends over $1,500 repairing the theft; early detection costs much less. This session is being held on Wednesday, February 18th from 10:00am – 11:00am // All sessions are free and open to the public. They will be held at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Depending on your personal situation you may want to attend one, two or all three of the sessions. Please call 433-1886 to register. Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo, Inc. is a local nonprofit agency established in 1965. They offer a wide array of services that provide solutions to the complex financial side of our lives. In addition to the above workshops, a certified financial counselor is at The Dale Association every Tuesday to help you. Counseling sessions focus on budgeting techniques, debt repayment options, student loan assistance, small business advice, credit report education and credit score explanation.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Although adults over 65 make up 13 percent of the US population, they account for 34 percent of all prescription use and 30 percent of over the counter (OTC) medication use in the United States. Among older adults between 75 and 85, a 2008 study estimated that 47 percent were regular users of OTC medications. While much research has been done on prescription medication among older adults, much less is known about older adults’ behavior surrounding OTC drugs. In order to address this, the Gerontological Association of America and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association recently held a summit for experts to survey available research on OTC drug use by older adults and create an agenda for future study. A summary of the summit results follow. These experts noted that surprisingly little is known about how older adults select OTC medications, how the medications are actually used, and how users decide when to begin and stop using them. Little is also known about how involved physicians and family members are in older adults’ behaviors surrounding OTC medication use. Prior research on prescription medicine has shown that older adults are two to seven times more likely to have an adverse drug reaction than younger adults, and that 62 percent of all emergency room visits for adverse drug reactions are by older adults. While OTC drugs are judged by the FDA as being safe and effective for use without a prescription, risks still remain associated with the misuse of these drugs. These risks can include unintentional overdosing or dangerous drug interactions. Of the 81 percent of older adults using prescription medications, 46 percent are also simultaneously using OTC medications, which suggests potential risk for an adverse reaction. The 2008 study estimates that 4 percent of older adults’ medication regimes could include a potentially major drug interaction, and that half of those potentially dangerous interactions could involve OTC medications. Since a common feature of OTC drug use is self-diagnosis of a medical condition that might not require a doctor’s visit, the health literacy of OTC drug users becomes an important concern. It is encouraging that 80 percent of Americans report following community pharmacists’ recommendations for purchasing OTC medications. However, community pharmacists report that many of the OTC drug-related problems that they identify are a result of patients attempting to self-medicate when a visit to a physician would be more appropriate. In light of this, there is significant interest in what shapes OTC consumer behavior, such as in which instances older adults choose to consult or not consult with pharmacists or physicians, as well as the influence of factors like advertising and recommendations from family members or other sources. What has been shown in a 2003 study is that older adults have lower health literacy scores than younger adults. Compared to 36 percent of adults overall, 59 percent of individuals over 65 were deemed to have basic or below basic health literacy. Another study estimated that one in five primary care patients lacked the skills required to manage everyday tasks relevant for health care decisions. Those older adults with less than high school education, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals with multiple morbidities were identified as at greatest risk for low health literacy. Another complicating factor is research suggesting that physicians, registered nurses, and pharmacists cannot easily identify such at-risk patients. As the experts note, this poses a challenge for presenting health information in ways that enable older adults to make appropriate health-related decisions. They also note a need for understanding how older adults process health information and their symptoms in order to overcome such barriers. The report also notes the importance of caregivers having sufficient health literacy to properly manage the medications of a care recipient. Research has also shown that “common sense” ideas about health and medications that are not in accord with medical recommendations can often interfere with proper drug usage. For example, some patients will stop taking medications when they feel better despite the potential need to continue drug usage for a period following the alleviation of symptoms, and some chronic conditions may require medication use even when acute symptoms are not present. The report identified six main areas in which health literacy is important for OTC drug use: symptom recognition, appropriate self-management, knowledge of active ingredients, appropriate dosing, attention to drug warnings, and understanding when to stop use. Importance of these areas is made clear from the findings from a 2012 study showing that 24 percent of adults took more than the recommended dose of an OTC drug, 33 percent did not follow the recommended timing for taking a drug, and 46 percent used more than one product with the same active ingredient. Further complicating matters is that while 86 percent of patients believe their physicians are aware of their OTC medications, only 46 percent report OTC medications to their physicians. This suggests that in addition to a need for greater health literacy and effective communication of important factors surrounding OTC drug use, there is also a need for effective interventions designed to encourage greater communication between health care providers and patients about their OTC medication use. In light of all of the above, the panel suggested that further research into OTC drug use should become a greater health policy priority. The current findings suggest a need for greater attention to OTC drug use among older adults. Both health literacy and recommended OTC drug regimen adherence are issues that can be addressed and improved upon.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
For reasons that are not always apparent, you may sometimes feel a little down or fatigued. The cause, or combination of causes, may be anything from a recent emotional upset or a major change in your life to a stressful period of time in your life. Sometimes, a mixture of emotions may sneak up on you when you least expect it. Even enjoyable activities can be stressful and demanding. Research indicates that maintaining good health throughout stressful times is directly linked to a positive attitude. To keep a positive flow of energy in your life, try these simple strategies: 1) Improving your mood need not be time consuming or expensive – learn to appreciate simple pleasures, such as a matinee movie or a long chat with a friend can do wonders to brighten your day. 2) Make sure you are well rested. According to the National Institute on Aging, an estimated 30 percent of middle aged Americans don’t get enough sleep. Factors that can help you get a good night’s sleep are sticking to a regular bedtime, sleeping in a cool and dark room and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after mid-afternoon. 3) The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Moderate exercise is an activity that leaves you feeling warm, but still able to talk. And don’t forget routine activities like mopping the floor and raking leaves are considered moderate exercise. 4) Music has the ability to alter your mood. If you want to relax, listen to slow, soothing classical music. To energize yourself, pick something that is faster such as jazz or pop. Or consider making your own music by playing a musical instrument. 5) Taking up a new hobby provides you with feelings, which can improve your sense of well being. Bringing a little creativity into your life can mean something as simple as trying a new recipe or a more involved project like woodworking or landscaping. The important thing is to develop a new interest. 6) By making a difference in the lives of others and becoming active, you generate positive feelings in your own life. Volunteering will fill your heart and let goodness shine in your life. Studies show that people who volunteer as little as two hours per week improve their own health. Worries drift away when you focus on others. Try one of these strategies to distract your attention from the hectic pace of life around you and restore the energy you need to live a full life. And, Happy New Year!