Brisk walking a offers low-impact activity that is relatively simple, can be done most anywhere, is fun to do with friends, and is easily modifiable to increase calorie burn. In addition to strengthening your bones and muscles, routine walking can also help prevent lifestyle conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve your balance, coordination, and even your mood.
If you are looking for quick ways to take your daily walk to the next level, don’t miss these expert tips:
The best exercise is that which gets your heart rate up to at least 55 to 85% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). The formula for MHR = 220 – your age. So if you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is around 155. Speeding up your walk so your heart rate climbs over 109 (70% of 155) for at least 10 minutes is going to count as good aerobic exercise that is helping strengthen your heart muscle.
Walking up an incline naturally requires the body to work harder and use up more energy. This can help you build endurance over time and tone muscle groups in your legs you weren’t previously engaging. If you are concerned about a weak knee, reduce lateral knee movement and prevent discomfort with a knee brace specifically designed for walking.
Instead of doing your usual walk around the roads in your neighborhood, head to a local trail and take a hike. Hiking up and downhill will burn more calories as well as pose a greater challenge to your balance and coordination skills. Exercising like this in nature has also been shown to boost feelings of attentiveness and positivity.
Incorporate more intervals of high-intensity activity into your walk and you can both improve your endurance and aerobic capacity as well as give your metabolism a boost. 5 minutes of brisk walking punctuated with 30 seconds of squats, lunges, or crunches, followed by another 5 minutes of walking and then 1 minute of jogging and so on and so forth also spices up your walking routine and makes it a little more fun.
Advanced technologies in the healthcare niche such as GPS, motion-sensors and social networks that are senior focused might help seniors keep living comfortable in their homes. Medicaid and Medicare – two of the most powerful government agencies in the US – are aiming to develop cost efficient alternatives for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many tech-savvy families wish for their loved ones to live nearby and thus be able to balance their personal lifestyles with caregiving. Fortunately, technology is here to help.
General costs for assisted living and nursing home care keep increasing. The rates are incredibly high, whereas the general cost of at-home senior care has boosted with less than 1% in the last 5 years. At a national scale, the median cost for nursing homes increased to roughly $85,000 in 2013 as opposed to $63,000 in 2012. Furthermore, nearly 90% of citizens in the US wish to live alone in their homes rather than be placed in an assisted living facility.
Advanced technology makes caregiving a lot easier
Even though IoT (the internet of things), mobile devices, analytics, big data and cloud-based services allow nearly every age category to make use of technology for improved health, it is it is quite obvious that seniors can also reap benefits. That’s certainly good news since people with ages above 65 (41 million in the US), will represent one fifth of US’s population by 2050. By then, the US will have 19 million people above 85. If the country chooses to start using advanced technology now, things will look pretty good in 35 years when the lifestyle of the average senior will be pretty comfortable and laid-back.
Seniors are concerned about their financial, emotional and physical safety
A lot of seniors today fear for their financial, physical and emotional safety. They’re often aware that if their loved ones live nearby, they’ll somehow be compelled to look after them. Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue and eases the job of an adult to take care of his/her aging parent. Family members will be relieved of the burden because savvy gadgets and remote devices allow them to keep a close eye on their loved ones without having to check on them every single day. Experts agree that if more seniors would be open to using advanced technology, they could enjoy a much comfortable lifestyle by themselves.
However, let’s not forget that today’s seniors didn’t grow up tech-savvy. This means that they might feel uncomfortable using technology; because of this developers must consider crafting gadgets that are efficient but also easy to use. Twenty years from now seniors will probably use gadgets just as well as youngsters; but before that happens, the following should be checked out.
- Sensors – advanced patient monitoring. These devices can easily be installed around the house. They send signals alerting caregivers of prospective falls, injuries or skipped meals
- GPS tracking technology – excellent for keeping track of a loved one’s whereabouts.
- Apps – there’s a range of apps you can use to keep an eye on an aging parent. Both communication and monitoring apps are tools caregivers can use to watch over their loved ones. Among some of the most well-known we should mention Philips Lifeline, TrackerAssist, Red Panic Button and 5Star Service.
- Remote monitoring tools – these are targeted at seniors needing regular monitoring. There are lot of devices nowadays that monitor blood glucose, heart rate and blood pressure.
- Telehealth – the ability of modern telehealth systems is to use standard video-conferencing and phone systems to connect senior patients with nurse practitioners, physicians and mental health specialists. Furthermore, recent research highlights some pretty advanced technologies; these are meant to change the way seniors get regular checkups.
Seniors have realistic chances of living comfortably in their homes in spite of their health issues. Advanced technology can help them. The tools currently available are quite useful and innovative; however, caregivers must teach them how to use them. Very few seniors find residential care homes and assisted living facilities a viable lifestyle alternative. They don’t want to leave the comfort of their homes, but they’re quite aware that they can’t do everything alone either.
Paige A. Mitchell
If you’re caring for a family member at home, you’ll want to ensure your house is a safe, healthy environment for everyone involved. You’ll likely have some adjustments to make in order to make your home more comfortable for an ill or impaired loved one. Consider the four home improvements below.
1. Declutter and re-decorate
Keep floors clear of toys and shoes. Strategically rearrange the furniture, so that your loved one is able to remain stimulated and engaged while they sit. For example, they may enjoy some natural sunlight and the view of nature from a comfortable chair near a window. Personal touches and familiar objects can make Alzheimer’s patients more comfortable.
2. Enhanced access
It’s important to review each room in the house to determine how accessible it is to someone who is ill or impaired. The American Association of Retired Persons’ checklist includes zero-threshold and wide entrances for wheelchairs and walkers, low light switches and door knobs that are reachable to someone in a wheelchair, and non-slip flooring and grab bars in at least one bathroom.
3. Maintain your home
Whether you’re caring for someone who is ill or not, it’s important to conduct regular home maintenance to ensure it’s a truly healthy environment. For example, replacing batteries in smoke detectors is especially important if your loved one is forgetful and susceptible to forgetting that something is on the stove. Take full advantage of your home repair insurance to save time, energy, and money on repairs.
4. Ask for help
Fifty percent of caregivers report feeling depressed. If you’re suffering from fatigue, isolation, irritable, and/or ill, it’s important to take a step back to take care of yourself. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. Seek an expert opinion for objective advice on whether you should consider placing your loved one in assisted care.
By Dr. Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.
Caregiving has often been compared to a roller coaster ride, with its inevitable ups and downs. This is especially true as your loved one deteriorates and faces the end of life. If you’re one of the 65 million family caregivers who has been feeling overwhelmed for too long, “burnout” may have set in.
Take that first step. Identify and claim the full range of your emotions—the anger, indifference, anxiety. In a recent study, 50% of family caregivers confessed to feeling depressed and some 69% admitted that frustration drove them to place their loved one in care. You may be experiencing the following, as well:
- Confusion over role reversal
- Loss of interest
- Withdrawal or isolation from friends and other support persons
- Poor sleep
- Desire to harm self or others
These unwanted reactions can also be compounded by the guilt and shame about feeling this way. Here are a few suggestions that might make a big difference.
- Make a point to engage in outside activities for maintaining a sense of health and well-being. Sure, it could feel like “one more thing” to do. But if you choose your outside activities wisely—staying away from demanding people or events—you could feel surprisingly refreshed.
- Seek and accept outside help. Once you admit to yourself and others that you can’t do it alone, the burden suddenly lifts. Good starting points are: local organizations, social service agencies and faith communities. Don’t overlook family, friends and neighbors who may be able to lend a hand.
- Allow your loved one plenty of opportunities to practice functional skills—as hard as it may be. Feeling as independent as possible satisfies a basic human need, even for a seriously ill person.
- Consult with a geriatric specialist, pastor or counselor about the right course of action if your loved one has become overly dependent or has exhausted your resources—physical, emotional or financial.
- Admit that you are juggling multiple roles, and engaging in an ever-so-delicate dance of support. The dance can go on as long as you allow the role of who leads and who follows to shift as circumstances change.
- Pay attention to your own needs. You can achieve balance when you include time to sleep, exercise, eat and attend to your own medical needs. Time spent with family, friends or just being alone helps you bounce back, too.
- Practice saying—maybe even forcefully—“no” when appropriate, and “yes” when someone offers to help.
- Seek out quality respite care.
- Enjoy an occasional movie or lunch with a supportive friend.
- Don’t expect too much from yourself.
Continue to recognize, acknowledge and accept your difficult emotions, so you can then work on setting boundaries, letting go of control and developing coping skills. For example, meditation and yoga can be incredibly relaxing.
Your commitment to your loved one can be a renewable resource if you take the right steps and are willing to change strategies when the “same ol’, same ol’” isn’t working anymore.
You can visit Dr. Nanette’s ABCs of Caregiving blog at http://www.abcsofcaregiving.com/
With the birth of my daughter’s second child, I began to reflect on the important role that grandparents can play in the lives of their grandchildren. Here are five essential tips for older adults who want to have a lasting influence in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Visit often. For those of us fortunate enough to live near our children and grandchildren, it is easy to see them often. Grandparents may even be the caregivers while parents are working. Visits don’t always have to be planned. Sometimes the best family time is a spontaneous invitation to dinner and a movie. However, sometimes distance can prevent regular visits. Some grandparents make it a goal to see their distant grandchildren once every 6 weeks or every few months. Be sure to take advantage of technology for your time together. Set a regular time to Skype or do Face-time. Don’t miss out on the subtle changes in those early years while babies are growing. Exchanging pictures may help, but they don’t replace the in-person experience. You may even think of relocating to be closer to family. For older grandchildren, be sure to have their cellphone number. Text them often and exchange pictures to stay involved in their lives and let them know you are available to them. Even small connections throughout the week (but without being annoying to teenagers of course) can make a difference in your relationship with your grandchildren.
Offer to help in practical ways. Working parents with young children will need a break at times. Ask how you can best help. Offer to keep the children for an overnight while mom and dad have a special dinner or weekend getaway. Many grandparents like to take their grandchildren on trips without the parents. Places like amusement parks, the zoo, or day trips to the water park or national forest all provide good diversion and quality time with Grandma and Grandpa while giving parents a rest. For even more quality time, take the older grandchildren on a cruise, camping in the mountains, or to a resort without their parents. For the mom with a newborn, take meals to the house (if you live close), do her grocery shopping or laundry, or send her a new bathrobe to show you are thinking of her. A favorite role model of mine sends the grandchildren a “baby shower in a box” with all sorts of goodies when she can’t be present due to distance or health concerns.
Plan special activities. Special activities need not be expensive. This could mean a trip to the park with Grandma or a special morning walk each week with Grandpa. My father used to take every grandson on a bow-hunting trip when they turned 12 years old. This was a rite of passage for every boy in the family. Grandpa would mount their first deer head for them and buy them a special hunting knife to commemorate the occasion. The girls in the family would take a trip to a Disney resort while the men were hunting. Grandchildren remember these events forever.
Attend special events. How fortunate are the kids whose grandparents are able to attend basketball and volleyball games, swimming tournaments, and Grandparent’s Day at school! Take advantage of being able to attend those dance recitals and school plays. If you live far, plan your visits to be able to attend some significant events like graduations, wedding showers, or school performances. This makes lasting memories with your family.
Be a constant in their lives. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old, and my paternal grandparents were the one constant in my life at that time. When a child’s world is jolted by change, grandparents can be that steadying influence that doesn’t change. They provide stability and security in an unsteady world for a child. The most important thing to remember is to be there. You don’t have to be the all-star parent or grandparent, but your children will remember that you were there for them when it counted the most.
I have been fortunate to have a number of mothers in my life – by birth, marriage, or adoption. Each of these women has helped to shape my perspectives and values in various ways during different seasons of life. As Mother’s Day approaches, reflecting on the role that mothers play in our lives is a worthy exercise. So, here is my tribute to my mothers.
My first mother is the one who gave me life. I like to think of this as the Spring of my life. Mom Phyllis raised me until the age of 9 years. She tended to the scrapes and cuts, helped to mold my personality, hand-made my clothes, and made life an adventure, all whilst being the wife of a busy doctor who was studying to be a pediatric surgeon. Thank you, Mom, for treasuring my childhood.
When my parents got divorced, a second mother entered the Summer of my life. Mom Kay took three confused and fragile children under her wings as a young step-mother in her early 20’s. She nurtured us as if we were her own. She helped me navigate the difficult teenage years and transition into young adulthood, listening to countless stories of puppy love, crushed hearts, and future dreams. Mom brought faith and light into a home that had been shattered by divorce. She has given me an example of a loving and faithful wife to my father for 45 years. Thank you, Mom, for preserving my spirit and encouraging my faith in God.
In college, I attended a little Baptist church where they had a program in which families could “adopt” a college student. Through a round-about way, I was adopted by Marvin and Patsy Bell. Grandma Bell, as my children later called her, saw me through my first 17-year marriage, a painful divorce, and was a second mother to many other young women like me. She has been a faithful friend and mentor for more than 38 years. Ma Bell stood in the place of the mothers who couldn’t be with me during some of the coldest and darkest Winters of life. She attended countless school programs for my kids and never forgets a birthday to this day. Thank you, Ma, for giving me the example of the kind of Grandmother I want to be.
Lastly, when I remarried to my current husband, Jim, I gained a wonderful mother-in-law. Gracie is true to her name. She has a loving and nonjudgmental spirit. She always thinks the best of people and is kind and gentle. In the Fall of my life, she embraced me as a daughter and is always ready to help in times of need. Thank you, Mom Mauk, for showing me what unconditional love looks like.
All of us have mothers in our lives that we need to thank. So, this Mother’s Day, purpose to give a special blessing to those women who have so influenced your life. Without them, our days would be less rich and the journey much lonelier. Celebrate those who have traversed the seasons of life with you!