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

Seniors Need Good Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Even for older adults, good nutrition is important for a healthy lifestyle.  A study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) states that “a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.“

As a part of their findings, they recommend avoiding foods loaded with empty calories such as potato chips, cookies, soda and alcohol to ensure you get your proper amount of daily nutrients.  Instead they advise eating wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated or trans fats.

One of the benefits of eating well is that it may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes and bone loss as well as some types of cancer.  In fact if you already suffer from one of those diseases, maintaining a healthy diet along with staying physically active can help you to better manage them.  Additionally adopting a healthy diet can help to reduce your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol.

Wholesome, healthy foods help keep muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong and vitamin-rich food can boost immunity and fight against illness-causing toxins.  Furthermore, a healthy diet can help you feel better as well as give you more energy.

At MorningStar Senior Living of Billings, we wholeheartedly agree that good nutrition is important for seniors.  This is why our residents are served meals that are not only very healthy but also delicious.  Each of our meals are served restaurant-style in a beautiful dining room and prepared by our Executive Chef.  Please contact us to learn more about our wide range of services and programs offered by MorningStar.

This post is for informational purposes only.  Please consult your medical provider regarding any health concerns or questions. 

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.

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

Improving Seniors’ Lives with Technology

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An article in the U.S. News and World Report discusses several technological advancements under development that may benefit the lives of older adults.  One example they cite that is already available is remote health monitoring systems that permit patients to take their own vital signs and send them to their medical provider.  Additionally shoe insoles with GPSs inserted in them have also been developed as a way to track someone with Alzheimer’s.

Still in the early stages of development, self-driving cars may help to improve the lives of seniors.  We know that driving is something that many seniors start to feel uncomfortable doing, but giving it up can often mean a loss of independence.  Experts predict self-driving cars will be widely available within ten years.

Another interesting technological development already available in Denmark is edema socks that detect and signal swelling of the feet and edema.  SmartSox is a similar concept under development that will be a used to “detect excessive pressure, heat and misplaced joint angles that could cause foot ulcers. This is useful because people with diabetes often lose sensation in their feet and can’t always feel such changes.”

Also while not currently being produced, a group of researchers have developed a vibrating shoe insole to improve balance and stability and may reduce falls by as much as 70 percent.  Along those same lines, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are trying to create a shirt with built-in sensors that will be able to administer CPR.

No article on technological advancements would be complete without the mention of robots.  For years, researchers have been working on robots that will have the required artificial intelligence to serve as health care aides.  Soon robots may be helping elderly people stay independent and active for longer.

MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care at Jordan represents the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to serve, to invest.” We are dedicated to providing a true home for residents amidst a beautiful, serene setting by creating a foundation built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve. Please contact us to set up a tour to see firsthand the finest assisted living in Centennial CO.