Positive Feelings about Aging May Reduce Brain Changes

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An interesting study discovered that if you believe growing older is a negative thing, you may be more likely to develop brain changes typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  However the research, which was published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Psychology and Aging, suggests that if a person shifts their thinking to more positive feelings on aging; it could actually help to mitigate the damages of Alzheimer’s.

Becca Levy, an associate professor of public health and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health and the study’s leader said, “We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” She goes on to explain that while the findings are concerning, “it is encouraging to realize that these negative beliefs about aging can be mitigated, and positive beliefs about aging can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”

The study examined several negative views such as the belief that elderly people are sickly and have little to contribute.  Positive beliefs included thinking that older people can lead vibrant lives and be engaged in society.  Other types of negative beliefs included ideas such as elderly people cannot concentrate well and are absent-minded.

All of the participants were a part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, which is a long-term study out of Baltimore.  The first part of the study was conducted with 52 men and women who answered surveys about their opinions on aging.  Participants were also given regular MRI brain scans to check for signs of Alzheimer’s.  Those who answered questions about aging more negatively were found to have a “greater decline in the volume of the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory.”  This is important as “the hippocampus is one of the first areas of the brain to shrink in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The other component of the study was to conduct brain autopsies on 74 participants who had died.  Researchers found that the brains of those who had held more negative beliefs about aging had more plaques and tangles in their brain, which is a sign of Alzheimer’s.

The findings suggest to researchers that the U.S.’s negative view on aging as compared to other countries such as India, where it is seen more favorably, could contribute to Alzheimer’s being five times more prevalent in America.  Of course positive thinking is no guarantee for good brain health but it sure makes us feel better.

MorningStar at Bear Creek brings a unique vision to senior living with our mission statement “to honor, to serve, to invest.” Our foundation is built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve. We are dedicated to creating a true home for residents within an ideal setting and invite you to schedule a tour to see firsthand the best memory care in Colorado Springs. 

Sources:alzinfo.org/articles/research/negative-beliefs-about-aging-could-prime-the-brain-for-alzheimers/ Becca R. Levy, Martin D. Slade, Luigi Ferrucci, et al: “A Culture-Brain Link: Negative Age Stereotypes Predict Alzheimer’s-Disease Biomarkers.” Psychology and Aging, 12/2015

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Causes Contributing to Falls in the Elderly

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We know that falls can be dangerous, and in fact, they are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) statistics state that one-third of Americans age 65 years and older fall each year.  They report that, “every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.”

However, there are several risk factors that can be addressed that may help prevent falls.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) explains that it is not only chronic health conditions that lead to falls but also safety hazards within or around a senior’s home.

The NIH cites muscle weakness, especially in the legs, along with a lack of flexibility and endurance as a significant risk factor that puts seniors at risk for a fall.  Another factor increasing risk is an unsteady gait when walking as well as poor balance, which can be contributed to chronic health problems and lack of exercise.  In addition older adults need to be sure to wear safe footwear and should avoid backless shoes or slippers, high-heeled shoes or shoes with smooth soles.

Furthermore, a condition known as postural hypotension (when blood pressure drops too quickly when getting up from a lying down or sitting position) can increase the risk of falling.  There are several chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s or diabetes as well as certain medications that can cause this to happen.  Also vision problems, sensory difficulties, confusion and medications can lead to dizziness and unsteadiness, and result in a fall.

The NIH advises seniors to report any fall to their doctor as is may be a sign of a “new medical problem that needs attention, such as an infection or a cardiovascular disorder.”  It could also be a signal that your medication needs to be adjusted or changed.

This post is intended for informational purposes only.  Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

MorningStar at Bear Creek brings a unique vision to senior living with our mission statement “to honor, to serve, to invest.” Built on a foundation of honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve, we are committed to creating a true home for residents amid a lovely setting. We invite you to schedule a visit to discover the area’s finest memory care.

Sources:

ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/

nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/causesandriskfactors/01.html

It’s Important to Know the Signs of a Stroke

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the following is a list of the signs and symptoms you need to know if you think someone may be having a stroke.  They recommend noting the time when you first notice the symptoms as it is important to know when seeking medical treatment.

The first sign is any difficulty with speaking or understanding as well as confusion.  A person may slur their words or have trouble processing what is being said.  Another thing to look for is any sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body.  Ask the person to try and raise both arms over their head at the same time.  If one arm begins to fall, it may be a stroke.  Also, another indication of a stroke is if one side of the mouth is drooping when you ask the person to smile.

Other signs of a stroke can include trouble with seeing in one or both eyes and exhibiting symptoms such as blurred or blackened vision or seeing double.  In addition, trouble walking as well as dizziness or loss of balance and coordination can also be signs of a stroke.    Further stroke symptoms include a sudden onset of a severe headache along with vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness.

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the signs of a stroke regardless of whether they appear to fluctuate or disappear.  The American Stroke Association’s F.A.S.T. acronym is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke. They state that you need to call 911 immediately if you or someone you are with experiences any of the following signs:

F        Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A        Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S        Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T        Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Remember the longer a stroke goes untreated, there becomes a greater potential for brain damage and disability.  Once you have called for emergency assistance, continue to carefully watch the person.

This post is intended for informational purposes only.  Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health. 

MorningStar at Bear Creek brings a unique vision to senior living with a mission statement “to honor, to serve, to invest.” Built on a foundation of honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve, we are committed to creating a true home for residents in a magnificent setting. Contact us to schedule a visit to learn more about the best dementia care in Colorado Springs.

Sources: mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/

strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp

Causes and Symptoms of COPD

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The COPD Foundation states that, “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.”  As COPD progresses, it results in increasing breathlessness as the lungs are further damaged.  The damage is permanent and is the 4th leading cause of death for people 65 to 84 years old. 

Often in the early stages, people mistake the symptoms of COPD with fatigue and getting older.  In addition, many people may have the disease for years before experiencing the symptoms of COPD that includes breathlessness, wheezing, or a chronic cough.

You may be at risk for COPD if you have a history of long-term smoking, a job that exposed you to dust or chemicals or other indoor air pollutants, second-hand smoke exposure, or lots of exposure to outdoor air pollution.  You may additionally be at risk if you had lots of respiratory infections as a child or have a genetic risk factor for emphysema that is related to a deficiency of the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin protein in the bloodstream.

COPD is diagnosed with a simple procedure known as a spirometry test that measures how well your lungs are working.  If your results show signs of COPD, you will need to consult with your doctor regarding treatment.  It is important for anyone with COPD to get a yearly flu shot and a vaccine for pneumonia as they can help to prevent some infections.  Good nutrition and staying as active as possible is also important.

The Mayo Clinic reminds anyone diagnosed with COPD that is not the end of the world. They say most people have a mild form of the disease and require little therapy other than to quick smoking.  For more advanced cases, there are effective therapies available to “control symptoms, reduce your risk of complications and exacerbations, and improve your ability to lead an active life.”

This post is for information purposes only; please consult your health care providers with any health concerns.

MorningStar of Fort Collins represents the very best in senior living with a mission “to honor, to serve, to invest.”  Our foundation is one built upon honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting team members with a felt calling to serve.  We invite you to schedule a tour to discover the finest assisted living Fort Collins has to offer.

Source: copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Understanding-COPD/What-Causes-COPD.aspx

Hearing Loss is Common Among Seniors

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One of the most common conditions affecting elderly adults is hearing loss, known as presbycusis, and gradually occurs to nearly everyone.  Statistics indicate that one-third of all Americans between the ages of 65 to 74 have some hearing loss, and almost half of seniors older than 75 have difficulty hearing.

Presbycusis typically affects both ears equally and many seniors are unaware of the fact that they have experienced hearing loss as it happens so gradually.  One primary reason for elderly hearing loss is the cumulative effect that results from the deterioration of the cochlea or other parts of the inner ear or auditory nerves.

In some cases, health conditions more common among the elderly such as high blood pressure and diabetes can adversely affect hearing.  Furthermore, certain medications including some kinds of chemotherapy drugs also cause hearing loss.

Another cause of hearing loss affecting individuals of any age is long-term exposure to loud noise.  In this situation, the sensory hair cells in the ear that allow us to hear are damaged, and do no grow back.  It is one of the most common occupational hazards and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 10 million Americans suffer from irreversible hearing damage due to noise.

NIDCD also states that hearing problems are serious and it is important to have your hearing tested by a doctor if you are experiencing problems.  Start with your primary care physician as he/she can refer you to a specialist.  Your care may include seeing an otolaryngologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ear, nose, throat, and neck.  After consultation and testing by an otolaryngologist, you may be referred to an audiologist.  They specialize in identifying and measuring the type and degree of hearing loss.  Finally they, or a hearing aid specialist, may fit you for a hearing aid if it is determined you need one.

This post is intended for informational purposes only.  Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

MorningStar at Bear Creek brings a unique vision to senior living with a mission statement “to honor, to serve, to invest.” Built on a foundation of honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve, we are committed to creating a true home for residents in a magnificent setting. Contact us to schedule a visit to learn more about the best dementia care in Colorado Springs.

Source: nidcd.nih.gov/health/age-related-hearing-loss

Pets are Welcome at MorningStar

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It was not that long ago that seniors moving into an assisted living or memory care community had to leave behind an important companion, their pet.  Today however, more and more communities are recognizing the benefits of pets to the elderly, and many such as MorningStar at Bear Creek, allow residents to bring their pets with them.

There has been a lot of research that validates the benefits of pets in seniors’ lives.  In fact, A Place for Mom website reports on a study that shows, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop.”  They go on to say that interactions between pets and humans can “lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke.”

Another reason pets can be good for the elderly is that animals live in the here and now and do not think about tomorrow, which for some seniors, can be worrisome.  In addition animals offer unconditional love, emotional support and affection.  This is one reason why pet therapy programs are used in convalescent homes, hospitals, mental health centers and children centers.  Many people participating in such programs experience an improvement in appetite as well as “more social interaction and tactile and cognitive stimulation after interactions with pets.”

There is also research that indicates pet therapy is beneficial for those suffering from dementia diseases such as Sundowners Syndrome and Alzheimer’s.  The animal’s complete acceptance and non-verbal communication has proven to be soothing for patients.

Please visit our website to learn more about MorningStar Memory Care at Bear Creek.  But to really see our heart, we encourage you to schedule a visit and see for yourself the warm and inviting atmosphere found at MorningStar.

MorningStar at Bear Creek is a memory care community that uses progressive methods to palliate symptoms and revive joy.  Our foundation is built on honoring God, valuing our seniors and hiring staff with a felt calling to serve, and is devoted to creating a true home for residents within a serene setting.  Please contact us to schedule a visit to experience firsthand our loving community.

Sources: aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/pet-friendly-assisted-living

agingcare.com/Articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm

Bring Your Pet to MorningStar

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Research continues to show a strong correlation between pet ownership and a number of benefits to seniors.  Everything from helping the elderly to stay physically active, to lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, providing companionship and making depression less likely are attributed to having a pet.  In fact there are several studies that indicate that patients with heart problems do better when they are responsible for a pet.

Not only do pets offer lots of affection and unconditional love but they can also help seniors cope with the loss of a loved one.  In an article from AgingCare.com, a New Jersey psychotherapist, Dr. Jay P. Granat, discusses some of the other intangibles that pets offer to the elderly.  He states that, “Dogs—and other pets—live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people.”

At MorningStar Senior Living of Billings, we wholeheartedly agree that pets provide many benefits to seniors, which is why we are proud that our community is pet friendly.  Along with our residents’ pets, we also have a special “house dog” that provides companionship and warmth throughout our entire community.

Grace, an adorable Golden Doodle, is a gentle, loving dog who is a big hit with all of our residents and staff.  Grace joined our MorningStar family in 2015 and we all agree she is the cutest, most cuddly dog in the world!  Feel free to stop by and meet our girl.

MorningStar Senior Living of Billings represents the finest in senior living with a mission “to honor, to serve, to invest.”  Our foundation is built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting team members with a felt calling to serve.  Dedicated to creating a real home for residents, we encourage you to visit to see for yourself our exceptional community for independent and assisted living.

Sources:petsfortheelderly.org/articles.html

agingcare.com/Articles/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets-113294.htm