Nutrition Needs For Seniors – What’s The Right Diet?

As people become older, the bodies change as well. Therefore, the nutrition needs of senior citizens are quite different from those of children, teenagers or adults. Some of the notable changes that might occur with seniors include the following.

Slow Metabolism – The metabolism rate for the elderly is considerably low. Therefore, the body doesn’t burn calories anymore. As such, seniors should eat lesser food to remain healthy. The food should also be full of nutrients.
Changes In The Digestive System –When you get older, the body produces fewer fluids required for digestion of food. Therefore, it’s tough for the body to absorb necessary nutrients.
Changes In The Appetite – A lot of senior citizens take various medications for health reasons. Therefore, they might experience side effects such as lack of appetite.
Poor Emotional Health – Elderly people often feel depressed or lonely thereby losing their interest in eating. For some, they might want to eat more food and gain extra pounds.If you’re planning the nutrition needs of an elderly individual, you need to consider a lot of factors. For instance, the diet needs to be packed with vital nutrients. That way, it can ward off any common health issues such as diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, heart problems or high cholesterol. Here are some tips for a healthy diet for a senior individual.First, at least half of the plate should be vegetables and fruits. If you choose grains, they should always be whole grains. Eat less food because of low metabolism rates. Always choose foods with low sodium content. Always choose healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, seeds, vegetable oils and much more.

A senior citizen should always be hydrated. You can take a lot of water or non-fizzy or non-caffeinated drinks. Also, the diet should contain foods with very high water content such as grapes, soups, melons, cucumbers and much more. Of course, if there are different dieting instructions prescribed by the doctor, they should be followed to the letter.

The diet should contain a lot of fiber and roughage. For instance, you should concentrate raw fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods will reduce constipation while providing minerals, fiber, vitamins and nutrients that are crucial for proper aging.

Finally, the diet should contain proteins such as eggs, beans, chicken and fish and lean meats. Proteins allow the body to produce the energy necessary for bodily functions and day to day activities.

 Recommended Resources:

Tufts University Research Center on Aging created the illustration to highlight recommended food portions and exercises for those over 65.

You are never too old to start exercising.  Check the video on this page to know what we mean!

5 Most Common Problems For Senior Health

Old Age Is No Place For Sissies

Aging has its ups and it’s downs. Here is a list of the 5 most common problems I hear about as a nurse from those 55 and climbing, and how you can prevent, overcome, or manage them.

1. Memory Loss

“Senior moments” can happen to anyone. As one women I know in her sixties said, “People lose their keys when they are my age and they think it’s their age. Even though, plenty of teenagers lose their keys, and when they do, they just say they lost their keys.” Until recently, scientists thought this was due to information overload. However, now they have started to truly pull apart the differences between the start of dementia versus just regular… well… forgetfulness.

The adult brain actually may function better in some ways, because it knows how to ignore what it deems as unimportant. Did you catch that? What IT deems as unimportant. So, when you’re on your way to the kitchen, and you get there with a blank stare completely forgetting what you went there for, don’t fret. Your brain just ranked “it” lower on the importance scale. This particularly applies to the 50 and 60-something’s.

The best thing to do to keep your neurons in gear is: Stop smoking if you do, exercise if you don’t already, and keep your mind active with things including playing puzzles like crosswords or sudoku, learning new things, and reading.

2. Depression

The good news is that the majority of older adults aren’t depressed. The bad news is, it’s on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.” Depression can especially come to those who have multiple illnesses (like heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, etc.) or those who have lost multiple loved ones.

There are means of getting help if you see yourself or someone else going in this direction. There are medications available (prescription and non-prescription). Studies have also shown that simply increasing physical activity, increasing the amount of time spent doing enjoyable activities, and spending time with others (whether volunteering or simply spending more time with friends/family) may also improve mood.

3. Visual impairment

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 65 % of all people who are visually impaired are aged 50 and up. A leading cause of vision loss in the USA: macular degeneration.  Macular degeneration results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) due to damage to the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye (the retina).

As a result, the center of your vision is lost making it difficult to read or recognize faces. The peripheral vision remains however.   To help prevent macular degeneration, wear sunglasses when in direct sunlight, manage high blood pressure, and do not smoke. In the picture on the right, the top shows what someone with good vision sees. The bottom shows what happens to the vision of someone with macular degeneration.

4. Joint pain

First, the bad news. With age, joints do become stiffer and less flexible. The fluid-filled sacs that once served as soft cushions between cartilage or bone may have less fluid in them or none at all. This causes cartilage to rub together and erode. Minerals may deposit in and around some joints ( referred to as calcification). This is especially common in the joints of the shoulders. Hip and knee joints may begin to lose joint cartilage due to degenerative changes. However some joints, such as the ankle, typically change very little with aging.

The good news is that exercise will actually help maintain bone mass. Also, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (which helps absorb calcium) will also do you good. There are prescription and non-prescription means of preventing bone loss and maintaining joint health.

5. Hearing problems

Hearing loss can be difficult for the individual affected, as well as their loved ones. There is no one single cause of age-related hearing loss, but it seems to run in families. Another reason for hearing loss may be exposure to too much loud noise. Less commonly, it can occur due to a virus or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines.

You may not be able to change your genes but you can protect your hearing from exposure to loud noise. Here is an infographic that outlines the degrees of sound that affect our ears: How Loud Are The Sounds Around Us. The best thing to do if you start to notice hearing loss is to speak with your doctor about what is causing the loss. From there, they will help you find the best route for management.

Multigenerational Living Is Increasing

Multigenerational Living – Is It Good Or Bad?

There are many reasons why multigenerational living has become a popular phenomenon. It could be because of the strict economic demands where college graduates without a job can’t afford their own houses. On the other hand, there is the sandwich generation, people who always find themselves taking care of their older parents while raising their own families. So, is multigenerational living the right thing for you?

There are many things to consider before actually doing it. For instance, do you get along with your parents? Many people agree to this agreement hoping any difficulties will be smoothened out. You should be prepared for some issues to come up, especially when you were younger. There will be some tension as well. Therefore, you need to be completely sure that you can accept all the issues thrown at you because the living arrangement would be permanent.

Secondly, you need to consider whether your partner or spouse can agree to it. Yes, you might be in good terms with your parents and living with them would be a breeze. However, is your spouse ready for such an arrangement? Most people are always at odds with their in-laws. Therefore, both of you need to agree completely before choosing such a living arrangement.

Lastly, you need to consider the space requirements? Most people find it hard to share the same space with their parents for many reasons. For instance, they might take over the master bedroom and most of the important areas of the house. Therefore, if you choose a multi-generation living arrangement, make sure you have a guest suite where your parents can stay comfortably without any constrictions on space.

Finally, you need to consider the benefits of such a living arrangement. For instance, your kids and their grandparents can develop a good relationship. That’s because they both have immediate access to each other. If you’re having babysitting issues, your parents can do it comfortably. On the other hand, it’s easy to share the house expenses, especially if your parents still have an income stream.

Also, as your parents’ age, you can always take good care of them rather than putting them in a home. Basically, they can spend their old age with their family and avoid feeling depressed or lonely as most home in senior care centers often feel. Therefore, your relationship grows without any hassles and it’s a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

Do you have a multigenerational family story? Share it with us.

How I Became A Caregiver

Caregiving of the Sick and Elderly Can Be Emotionally Fulfilling

When loved ones are seriously ill and require constant attention, it is necessary for a person from the family to become a caregiver. The services of such trained people are also available to those who can afford to pay for them.

Family caregivers can also give a loved one the emotional support that is often a great solace to those who are terminally ill. Often this choice is forced on family members who are then required to undergo some form of training for caregiving so that they are able to provide the right support to the ailing person or persons.

If you get the proper training, this can become a career in itself and has encouraged many people to give up jobs and take this profession up as a full-time career. Good training is a must for any career. The training helps to develop any native skills and experiences that may have come from caregiving in the family.

Caregivers services for the elderly is quite demanding and requires a proper training and certification. Training can involve both classroom learning, hands-on jobs, and apprenticeship that guides the new caregiver into the field. The elderly often require attention not only to their health but may need assistance to the patient for the discharge of bodily functions. Even the dispensing of medicines requires proper instruction and training. In certain cases, this may require registered nurses for injections and other procedures. A caregiver can obtain a lot of satisfaction through such service, and this can be a great incentive to take up this as a profession.

Even if you decide to become a professionally trained caregiver because you need to look after someone in the family, it can advance the value in your life and bring you a lot of affection and respect from the people you take care of. Caregiving for family members must be a joint effort and can help to bring a family closer to each other and give the satisfaction of the work that they do.

Caregivers may need to assume a 24-hour responsibility, and this can be quite strenuous. It can always be of great help if you can get part time help from professionals or from other members of the family. As family caregivers, there is often a shortage of time for attending to mundane things like buying the groceries or walking the dog, and here is where even children can pitch in to help.

New Drug-Free Treatment for Depressed Teens

There are many students who use drugs to improve their level of focus and to get out of the depression or anxiety. This may work for the time being but if you continue to take these kinds of drugs for a couple of months, then you will start to experience the serious side effects.

One famous drug to improve the level of focus is Adrafinil, and this may work for people who work on the night shifts, but the side effects are not worth the risks of taking these. You can read the Adrafinil reviews here to know more about the damages that can cause on your body. Whatever may be the side effects, it’s still not a good idea to fall into the trap of addiction. If you think that you will take the drug once a week, and there will be no problem whatsoever then think again!

It is easy to get attracted to these kinds of magic pills especially during teenage but depending on the drug will make you lose the will power and you may feel like that you can not achieve anything worthwhile without using the drug. It’s always better to listen to your parents or doctor if you planning to use any kind of drug.

All teens get to feeling down occasionally. But, when the sadness or anxiety doesn’t go away, it is time to seek help. Medications currently being used to combat depression can have serious side effects, though.

This study about helping depressed teens improve their mood is a breath of fresh air–no drugs and non-invasive. The teen learns to train her brain to improve mood.

The study is currently being conducted in Providence, RI and Cambridge, MA at the NeuroDevelopment Center. Do you know a high school or college student who could benefit from this?

If you think anyone would benefit from this post then please feel free to send this article’s link to them.

Personalized Medicine for Cancer-Analyzing the Genome of a Tumor

doctor-on-computerDr. Crusher was stunned. She was comparing the Captain’s DNA before his problem had developed with a current sample she had just taken. She discovered that certain genome sequences were missing from the “after” sample.

How did that happen?

More importantly, what could she do to reverse it?

If you are a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you will recognize this story. Genomic profiling is commonplace in the 24th century.  In this episode of the popular TV show, Dr. Crusher uses the transporter to reverse the change to his DNA and return Captain Picard to his original self.  This was science fiction circa 1990.

While we still don’t have transporters in 2011 to let us travel from one location to another or repair DNA, what was science fiction 20 years ago IS becoming today’s reality of personalized medicine for cancer.

President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971 and, while we have made many strides in that war, we haven’t wiped out this disease because cancer is not one disease–it is many diseases.

Your Cancer Is Unique to You

Traditional medical research identifies a group of patients with the same illness and tests a single biological pathway with one therapy for effectiveness. This works well when the illness is caused by a single strain of bacteria that can be recognized in many individuals with a microscope.

Cancer is unique to each individual. We now know that many cancers are caused by problems occurring in multiple biological pathways, not just one. Researchers are rapidly reaching the limits of traditional research methodologies to study these complexities.

Fortunately, there is a group of forward thinking scientists who have begun to approach this problem from a different direction. I recently had the good fortune to meet Raphael Lehrer, Ph. D. whose company, GeneKey Corporation, is on the leading edge of personalized cancer medicine.

What he told me was eye opening!

Imagine for a moment that someone you know is battling cancer. The primary care physician is working with the oncologist to administer treatment. The oncologist may look for an individual genetic marker for a certain type of cancer to select the right drug.

If the selected treatment works, everyone cheers. But if it doesn’t, the oncologist may need to resort to trial and error to find another treatment that does work. This is particularly true for late-stage cancer patients.

Meanwhile, the patient is on a roller coaster ride of hope followed by despair if the next treatment fails or only partially works. If a working cancer treatment isn’t found right away, the patient may just give up.

A Personal Research Team to Identify the Best Treatment Options

What if the patient had his own research team composed of some of the smartest scientists in molecular therapies?  And they used state-of-the-art technologies to study the genetic information from his cancer? The team would study the entire genome of the tumor and provide the oncologist with an in-depth analysis pointing to the therapies that best match this patient’s situation. They might even find a clinical trial that the patient can join.

The sooner the patient is on the right treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be.  The patient also gains peace of mind knowing that all possible treatments were identified. And, the research team can add these results to a growing base of information that can help others in the future.

This is the leading edge—cancer treatment and research combined. Medicine has become a team effort with doctors and researchers working together. The concept has actually been around for awhile in other areas of medicine.

By late 2006, my father had been seriously anemic for several years. The usual tests came back negative. His doctors were puzzled and wondered if there was a problem with the combination of medications Dad was taking. So the doctor’s asked a consultant pharmacist, an expert in geriatric medication management, to review my father’s situation for something the doctor might have missed.

The consultant pharmacist identified four possible issues. And, yes, one of them proved to be the problem. I was impressed with the meticulous analysis of my father’s symptoms and medications. I had no idea that this type of service was available for patients.

GeneKey Corporation goes into even more depth in the research it performs for each patient.  As Raphael Lehrer Ph.D., the company’s chief scientist, described it to me, they look at the entire genome of a person’s tumor to identify the biological pathways that are sustaining the tumor. Cancer is optimal for this type of research because tumor samples are available. “Often we identify a drug that is typically used for another type of cancer, or a drug not normally used for cancer treatment that could prove helpful for a particular patient.  Oncologists may not think to try these treatments without data like ours pointing to these additional options,” said Lehrer.

Right now, this personalized research is limited to those who can pay for it themselves. Health insurance doesn’t cover it. While costs are coming down, they are still relatively high… about the price of a luxury car.

While only a limited number of late-stage cancer patients can take advantage of GeneKey’s services, I felt it was important to let readers know about this latest development in personalized medicine for cancer.

Do you know someone who needs to know about this?

Nielsen Confirms Teens Text Most

Do you know what age group sends the most number of text messages in the US?

SMS_Sent_by_teens-Jan2011

From the above graph (of a research), you can clearly see that the age group of 13-17 send the most number of messages. If you are a parent you should already be knowing it!

This research done by The Nielsen Company suggests that:

  • Parents need to check how their teens are using the phone and should periodically review their phones. This ensures that they do any sexting. Also guide them when to use and when not to use the phone. Most of the teens use their phone even during class and while eating dinner. Parents should teach them how to use the phone in a healthy way without scolding or making them feel bad.
  • In case of getting in touch with your teens, text messages are the best way as 97% of text messages get read.
  • Unlimited text plans are absolutely necessary for the families having a teen.

Any other thoughts for helping your son or daughter use that cell phone responsibly?