How Seniors Can Achieve Better Health and Wellness Through Yoga and Meditation

Many seniors don’t realize that activities like yoga and meditation are just as accessible to them as they are to younger generations. If you tend to think of yoga as crazy, pretzel-like moves that you could never see yourself doing, think again! Gentle yoga and meditation are easy for anyone to start at any age, and they have amazing health benefits that you will notice right away.

Why Yoga and Meditation?

Yoga, meditation, and other gentle exercises are actually the perfect way to care for your health. This is true at any age, but these practices are especially great for helping with changes to your body that can be challenging as you get older.

●      Physical fitness. Even if you are completely new to exercise, yoga has physical fitness benefits that can’t be beat. Yoga helps with flexibility, it gives you aerobic exercise, and it builds strength. Yoga is especially good at building core strength, which helps improve balance, reducing your risk of falling. Many older adults worry about the risk of injury from higher-impact activity, but with yoga, you get all the same benefits without the strain.

●      Manage chronic disease. Practicing yoga can help you control chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and much more. According to Sixty and Me, there is a strong link between yoga and the heart, and many people find that they are able to lower their blood pressure through a consistent, routine practice of yoga.

●      Ease conditions common with aging. Yoga helps alleviate and often prevent some of the more challenging issues we face while aging. The strength you gain slows bone loss from osteoporosis. Yoga also improves focus and concentration, which helps keep your mind sharp.

 

While building up your physical strength, yoga also helps ease stress and promote relaxation. This makes it a great way to lower anxiety, and the mental health benefits work hand-in-hand with the physical benefits. Yoga has a meditative component built right into the practice, but you can also practice meditation off the yoga mat and find many of the same mental and physical benefits.

How Do You Get Started?

The great thing about these practices is that there isn’t just one “right” way to do it, which means you can find an option that’s right for you. These are just a few suggestions and tips to keep in mind for getting started.

●      Use technology. The simplest way to start is to use technology to do these exercises from the comfort of your own home. Along with some basic yoga poses and online classes, you can find other low-impact activities online using YouTube exercise videos, as well as other at-home activities that use technology, such as fitness apps and Wii games.

●      Find your fit. These practices are extremely adaptable, so don’t hesitate to do what’s right for your body. If you have limited mobility, you may want to do chair yoga. Many yoga studios, gyms, and community centers offer gentle yoga and yoga classes specifically for seniors. There are different styles of meditation too, including mindfulness meditation, Buddhist style meditation, transcendental meditation, and even prayerful meditation. Explore these different options to find the style that’s right for you.

●      Set a schedule. Once you get started, you will probably notice the benefits right away, but you want to be consistent to really feel the full effects. Mind Body Green recommends deciding on a time of day for your practice, and maybe even setting an alarm to remind you. Doing this is especially helpful if you exercise or meditate at home rather than going to a regularly scheduled class.

It can be scary trying something new, especially if you have back pain, joint pain, or any other health problems that you worry about. The great thing about yoga, meditation, and low-impact workouts is that they can be done in a way that’s perfectly safe for anybody. Don’t let fear of what could happen keep you from trying something that will improve your health and wellness today!

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

 

Better Sleep After a Loss: Tips for Good Rest

Better sleep is something many Americans could use some help with, but after suffering a loss, it can be especially difficult to get good rest. You may be suffering from the effects of grief, which can include physical body pain, sadness, depression, and feelings of isolation, all of which can take a toll on your ability to sleep and wake up feeling rested. This can, in turn, leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, and unable to perform at work or at school.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help yourself relax and learn to get back into good sleep habits. From getting daily exercise to learning how to wind down at the end of the day, getting good rest doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. It’s all about finding healthy habits that will positively affect your mental and physical state.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to get better rest after a major loss.

Change Your Diet

The right foods can help you stay fit and healthy, but did you know they can also affect the way you sleep? Even a food that is seemingly good for you can have a negative effect on your rest if you eat it before you lie down. This includes chocolate -- which contains caffeine -- as well as meat, pizza, and ice cream. These can upset your stomach, and the high fat content in most meats can take your body a long time to process and send your body temperature up at the same time.

Turn Off the Screens

The television, computer, and tablets or smartphones can all have a negative effect on your sleep patterns if you’re looking at them before bed. Turn off all your devices at least an hour before you go to sleep and allow your brain some time to unwind and relax. This is the best way to ensure that your mind and body are in good shape at the end of the day.

Keep Your Room Clean

Clutter and disorder can be extremely detrimental to your mental health and can interfere with your ability to rest well if it’s in your bedroom. To keep things clean and neat without wrecking your budget, try to find easy ways to store clutter and, if you don’t already have one, consider picking up an affordable vacuum that will allow you to clean up messes quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality. Or, if you don’t have the energy to clean your house, consider hiring a professional service to take care of things for you.

Use Technology

Advances in technology have now made it easier than ever for Americans to find good sleep. From alarm clocks that play soothing music and light patterns to devices that help you stop snoring, there are several things you can buy that will help you get better rest. Some of these can be pricey, so it’s a good idea to do some research and figure out what will work best for you.

Find the Right Mattress

The right mattress can help you sleep without interruptions, but there are a lot of factors to consider, from temperature to the fabric covering. With so many mattress options, it’s important to do a little homework and take a look at all the different types available and how they will affect your body at night. Read on here for some tips on getting started. 

Finding better sleep habits is essential when you’re grieving; it can help you feel calmer in stressful situations and allow you to feel more like yourself even during the sad times. Talk to your loved ones about how they can help you learn to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

 

 

 

How To Help Your Senior Parents Make Safe Home Modifications

For many seniors, health issues can lead to mobility problems, making it increasingly difficult to get around the house or perform daily tasks. Often, these issues aren’t serious, but sometimes they can lead to falls or serious injuries. That’s why it’s imperative to look for ways to make modifications for safety inside the home.

If you have senior parents or other loved ones who are dealing with a loss of mobility, it’s a good idea to walk through the home to see what sort of changes could be made that would assist them with everyday activities. These don’t have to be costly; some modifications are simple and can be done in a day or two. Make a point when visiting to observe how Mom and Dad get around the house. Input from the doctor and other health care professionals may give you insight on your parents’ abilities and areas of difficulty. Do some research to find out what the best options are for your loved ones and set a budget. Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Prevent Falls

Preventing injuries is a major factor in making home modifications for seniors. You want the environment to be as safe, accessible, and convenient as possible, so look for areas where grab bars would be necessary -- such as the bathroom and shower -- and pay special attention to flooring. Throw rugs can be a trip hazard, while thick carpeting can cause issues for seniors with mobility issues. Hardwood or laminate is one of the best ways to go, and you can put down rubber-backed mats to prevent slips.

Widen Doorways

While this can be a more costly modification, it’s important for seniors who use a wheelchair or other equipment for mobility. Many older homes weren’t built with the same measurement standards that homes have today, so depending on how old the house is, this may be a requirement for your loved ones to move around the home easily.

Install Ramps

Ramps can significantly help your loved one with their mobility, both inside and outside the home. Anywhere that stairs or elevated areas are present, a ramp should be added to prevent falls and to allow your loved one freedom of movement. There are several different kinds of ramps available, or you can build your own. Take into consideration whether you need something that’s all-weather and how to measure the area you’ll be changing.

Fix the Lighting

It’s something that can often be overlooked in seniors’ homes: the absence of good lighting. Many seniors have vision issues, but even those who don’t can benefit from enhanced lighting around the home, especially in the kitchen and bathroom and on the path to the front door. Replace older bulbs with energy-efficient ones; look for “daylight” bulbs that will give the home a soft, bright glow.

Look for Funding

Depending on what state your loved one lives in, there may be grants or loans available to help offset the cost of home modifications. The laws vary from state to state, but you can find more information here.

Keeping your senior loved one safe and happy will give you peace of mind and will allow them to live their best life. Just make sure to do some research before you get started, and talk to your loved one about their specific needs before making any changes. With some good planning and the right budget, you can help your loved one take care of their physical and mental needs safely.

Photo via Pixabay by Stevepb

5 Things to Know About Losing a Spouse

Life’s later years are full of transitions. Children grow up and move away, the workforce is left behind, bodies and minds change. But perhaps the biggest change that seniors have to face is the death of a spouse. There’s no way to prepare for this earth-shattering, life-changing moment, but there are a few things you ought to know before it approaches.

It Will Affect Your Health

The death of a husband or wife shakes your world. After decades of intertwining your lives in every imaginable way, you’re suddenly facing the world on your own. So, it may not come as a big surprise that this intense grief impacts your health. Grief can cause you to lose your appetite, be unable to sleep, and experience aches and pains. And that’s not the only way grief can take a toll on your health — especially if you’re in your senior years.

In the aftermath of a spouse’s death, seniors are more likely to have a heart attack or suffer congestive heart failure, a phenomenon you may know as the “widower effect.” In addition, their immune systems weaken, leaving elderly grievers prone to illness.

And Your Mental Health

Grief’s mark isn’t limited to physical symptoms. A major loss like the death of a spouse comes with a big increase in stress, an insidious physical response that alters everything from moods to memory. Acute stress can affect concentration and memory, and may even trigger lasting cognitive decline. Seniors can develop depression alongside their grief, and for some, that depression sticks around even as the grief grows less intense.

The mental health effects of grief are more than a passing concern when it comes to the elderly. Seniors struggling to cope with their grief could turn to drugs and alcohol for relief, even if substances have never before had a presence in their life. While drugs and alcohol are harmful to people of all ages, they’re especially dangerous for seniors, and they play a role in the high suicide rate among the elderly. It’s important for seniors to get help when facing an addiction, whether it's from a professional, online resources or a rehab program. 

Grief Looks Different for Everyone

If you learn only one thing about grief, let it be this: There is no right way to grieve, there are no “stages” of grief, and grief doesn’t work on a timeline. Your grief is yours and yours alone, and the way it manifests will depend on countless factors unique to your own life.

It’s important to not feel guilt or shame for being not sad enough or too sad, for crying too much or not enough, for finding new love too quickly or not at all. As long as you’re healing and taking care of your health, however you choose to grieve is OK.

You Need Support

It’s tempting to isolate yourself during this difficult time, but it might be the worst thing you could do. Talking about feelings and memories of a lost spouse is an important part of reconciling the complicated emotions of grief. But not everyone is comfortable talking about death, so it’s important to identify a support system you can lean on.

On top of someone to talk to, support is important because it helps identify concerning behavior changes that you might not notice in yourself. Perhaps you’re in such a fog that you hardly notice you haven’t eaten for days, or maybe you’ve convinced yourself that the extra glass of wine or two with dinner is perfectly normal. But a trusted confidant will take notice when you’re not yourself and help you find the resources to get back on track.

You Will Heal

Learning how to adapt to life without your spouse is a long and complex journey. It takes patience, persistence, and resilience to learn how to live on your own, and you’ll have a lot of wins and losses along the way. But at the end of it all, you’ll discover that there’s happiness, love, and comfort to be found even after the death of a cherished spouse.

Image via Unsplash

Friendly, Furry Companionship: Pet Adoption and Care Advice for Seniors

Research has shown that senior citizens derive abundant physical and mental health benefits from owning a pet. Having a furry friend to care for and companion with improves mood and appetite, increases energy levels, leads to more social interaction, and helps establishes a daily routine that lends an important sense of purpose and responsibility. Pets alleviate the symptoms of depression, boredom and isolation, and diminish the impact of loneliness, which increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 percent. Pet ownership can also reduce anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, and help keep triglyceride levels under control.   It almost sounds too good to be true, but the look on an elderly person’s face when a cute little dog wanders into the room is proof enough that pets can do wonders for older adults. 

Adoption

There are many programs around the country that will match an elderly person with a dog or cat, such as Washington, D.C.’s “Boomer’s Buddies,” which finds pet adoptees for adults over the age of 50. A program in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, called Elder Paws, covers the cost of pet food, veterinary care, and incidentals for seniors who can provide a safe home for pets. It’s a valuable asset for seniors who live on a fixed income and cannot afford the expense of ongoing pet care. Pet shelters across the country have the opportunity to set up their own Elder Paws program through the auspices of the Angel’s Rest Animal Society. The Pets for the Elderly Foundation pays adoption and pet fees for people over the age of 60 who adopt from a participating shelter. Local pet shelters are always looking for people who want to adopt an animal, and veterinarians are also good sources of adoption information. 

Moving in

Bear in mind that moving into a new living environment can be stressful for pets. They’re creatures of habit, and having to acclimate to a new space takes a little time. You can help ease the transition by making sure your new friend has his own space, with a bed, food and water dishes, toys and any comforting objects that came along with him. Sometimes, an animal needs to get away and find his own way to feel safe and secure. Choose a safe and quiet room and set up his own spot in a restful corner. There’s no substitute for lots of love and attention and some bonding time once you’re paired up with a new pet friend, so don’t hold back on the affection. Dogs in particular benefit from interaction that takes place on his level, so don’t be afraid to get down on the floor for some petting and playing. Remember that it’ll take a while before your pet gets used to being alone, so leave a treat or a play object behind when you leave to help ease the pain.

Safe home

Providing a safe home is part of being a good companion and a responsible owner. Be careful not to leave the doors open and keep floor-level windows shut as well, especially if you have a curious cat or kitten running around. Be careful about keeping small, loose objects off the floor, especially things that could present a choking or poisoning threat. If your dog will be spending time outside, you’ll need a security fence to prevent your pooch from getting loose. The average national cost of installing an electric fence is about $1,100. 

Ensure that yours is a safe home by taking a few simple precautions inside and keeping your friend on a leash or run line so he can run free when he’s outside. Never let him off the leash when you go for a walk unless you’re going to a dog park, and make sure he’s microchipped and has updated tags with your contact information. 

You and your pet will both benefit from a long, happy friendship. Give him plenty of love and some space when he needs it. And remember, if you take care of him, he’ll return the favor many times over.

Article courtesy of: Pixabay.com. Image courtesy of: Senior.One