Saturday, December 3, 2016

Exercise & Mobilty for an Active Lifestyle as we Age


Mobility and flexibility get tougher as we age, our bodies change and we begin to feel limited in our movements.  Aging as well as injuries can put a damper on our active lifestyle, and we begin to struggle with motivation.  Any activity is good for the body, mind and soul it doesn’t have to be high impact, high intensity.  I guess what I’m trying to say, is you don’t have to kill yourself to feel like you are doing something good for your body.  



Every exercise, every movement has some sort of modification.  So if you are immobile, injured or just starting out, there is a modification just for you.  I found this site for ideas on how to get you started on some seated exercises, www.sitandbefit.org.  This fine organization is dedicated  healthy aging advocacy and believes that everyone has the right to feel good and age well - and I couldn't agree more!



Time to motivate and get your body moving.  Remember always check with your doctor and healthcare professional before getting started.




Peace and love-



April

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Exercise, Pain, and Healthy Aging

As we age our body changes over time. If you listen to your body, which most of us do not, it will signal to us when enough is enough. If we choose to push our bodies past the sensible limit, we end up with injuries that may take a while to heal. Paying attention to what your body needs is key to aging. One thing about aging we don’t really have control over are the aches and pains and wearing over time of the joints. 

According to Healthinaging.org, as you get older, your cartilage may start to deteriorate from the normal wear and tear of the passing years. The protective membranes and fluids in your joints begin to dry up. These changes may allow the bones to rub against each other painfully. You may also notice that some joints have changed shape—especially in your fingers or toes. You may feel stiff in the morning, or have aches and pains in some joints that never bothered you before. The joint may even become swollen and warm to the touch. These problems are common in older people. Usually, they are minor annoyances, but sometimes joint pain and deformities can make it very hard to function, and eventually you may need to have surgery or have the joint replaced.

Many joint problems can be managed by the primary care doctor. Others may be handled by:
  • Orthopedist (doctor specializing in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system) 
  • Physiatrist (doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine) 
  • Physical therapist (healthcare professional that helps you maintain, restore or improve physical function due to injury, disease, or disability) 
  • Rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in the treatment of the joints and connecting tissues)
The Most Common Types of Joint Problems:
  • Arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is the most common type of joint problem in older people. It usually affects knees, hips, hands, spine or sometimes shoulders. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of chronic arthritis. It is caused by an auto-immune reaction in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissues. Most typically, it involves the joints in your fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and toes. 
  • Other types of arthritis include gout or pseudogout. Sometimes, there is a mechanical problem in the joint, such as torn cartilage, that causes pain or inhibits movement in the joint. 
Types of joint problems that affect the soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments include:
  • Rotator cuff injuries 
  • Tendonitis 
  • Frozen shoulder 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Bursitis
How Common are Joint Problems? Osteoarthritis, which affects about 27 million Americans, is the main reason that so many people “slow down” as they get older. Half of Americans over the age of 65 have been told they have arthritis by their healthcare professional. Women are slightly more likely to get a diagnosis of arthritis than men. But, gout is more common in men, with an estimated six million people having experienced an attack of gout.

The other main types of chronic joint problems can occur in the older population are:
  • Calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystal deposition disease (including pseudogout) occurs in about half of all people between the ages of 80 to 90 years, although many have no symptoms. 
  • Fibromyalgia is usually first diagnosed in middle age, and affects 3-5% of women and about 0.5% of men. Chances of having fibromyalgia increase as you get older. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones. This condition can occur in anyone but becomes more common in older people as tissues lose their flexibility. Rotator cuff problems occur most often in the 55-85 year old age group. The rotator cuff involves the tissues supporting the shoulder joint. About 30% of older people have tears in their rotator cuff muscles and tendons, but many have no symptoms. 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on a nerve in the wrist and may cause tingling, numbness and pain in the hand. It affects between four and ten million Americans, and older people are at higher risk of suffering from the condition. 
According to MedlinePlus.gov , exercise is one of the best ways to slow or prevent problems with the muscles, joints, and bones. A moderate exercise program can help you maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise helps the bones stay strong.

Talk to your health care provider before starting a new exercise program. It is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium. Women need to be especially careful to get enough calcium and vitamin D as they age. Postmenopausal women and men over age 65 should take 1,200 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. If you have osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about prescription treatments.

According to eldergym.com , stretching is also an important part of elderly and seniors flexibility and will help offset the effects of normal decline in the flexibility of your joints, and help you remain active and independent.

As we age muscles become shorter and lose their elasticity. Aging can affect the structure of your bones and muscles causing pain and decreased range of motion in the shoulders, spine and hips. Stretching is an excellent way to relax and relieve tension if you incorporate breathing exercises and good posture in your stretching program. It becomes very important for seniors to maintain range of motion and your ability to move all joints normally with activities during the day.

Generally elderly and seniors stretching should be done 2 to 3 days per week, performing each stretch 3 to 5 times with a 20 to 30 second hold. Try one or two stretches for each body region If you would like to increase your flexibility, stretches should be performed 4 to 5 days per week. Remember that it is important to warm-up before beginning an elderly flexibility exercise program. The warm-up is an excellent place to use your stretching exercises.

General flexibility guidelines:
  • Warm up before stretching 
  • Don’t bounce during stretching. 
  • Don’t hold your breath during a stretch. 
  • Stretching should not cause pain, be gentle. 
  • Don’t combine turning and bending back exercises at the same time. To stretch the back relax in a chair by supporting yourself with your hands on your legs while leaning forward. 
  • When performing knee bends, don’t drop your buttock below the level of your knees. This places too much strain on your knees. Better to do shallow knee bends, keeping your feet apart and not locking the knees. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise. 
  • Avoid pressing the head backward during head rolls which can damage the vertebrae in your neck. Move the head gently from side to side, never too quickly. 
Remember, elderly and seniors flexibility training will only show benefits if it is done regularly with the correct form and duration of stretch.

So go ahead and give it a try, it can only help. But, as always, remember to check with your doctor or healthcare physician to make sure you are healthy enough to start any new exercise regiment.

Peace & Love - April Williams

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Eating Well as You Age

Eating well at any age is important, but it becomes even more important and key to keeping your body a “Well Oiled Machine,” as we age.  Eating well & eating clean sound like an easy task in theory but can be tough in reality.  Parties, get-togethers, illnesses and life in general tend to get in the way and can make it really difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle.  Baby steps are key, maybe start with a few small changes you just may see a world of difference.

According to www.eatingwell.com , “A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapon against age-related diseases.  The nutrition experts EatingWell recommend the following eating tips for healthy aging:

Pack your diet with plant-based foods
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based foods are rich sources of phytochemicals, beneficial compounds that may help protect against age-related conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people. Fill at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and the remaining one-third or less with lower-fat sources of protein, like fish, poultry or lean meat. Choose vegetables and fruits that represent a rainbow of colors: dark leafy greens (e.g., kale and spinach), deep yellow and orange vegetables (e.g., corn and sweet potatoes), tomatoes and other red foods (e.g., bell peppers, strawberries) and blue and purple powerhouses like blueberries and purple grapes.

Keep weight in check
As you get older, your body loses lean body mass (muscle) and your metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories, slows. Bottom line: Through the years, you’ll need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Stay within a healthy range by filling up on lower-calorie nutrient-packed foods—particularly vegetables and fruits—and cut back on foods that contain a lot of fat or added sugars. Carrying around extra pounds can increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and some cancers.

Go easy on fat
Eating some fat is important for health but certain fats are better than others. Vegetable oils like olive or canola are your best choices because they are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low in the saturated fats that are associated with increased risk for conditions including heart disease and cancer. Limit foods that are high in saturated fats: animal products like fatty red meats and full-fat dairy products.

Concentrate on calcium
Getting enough calcium (and vitamin D, see below) can help prevent osteoporosis, the leading cause of bone fractures in older adults (see our Bone Health Center). If you’re 50 or older, you need 1,200 mg of calcium. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified soymilk and orange juice, and fish with edible bones (like canned salmon or sardines). Other food sources of calcium include dark green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and okra. If meeting your calcium needs through food seems daunting, talk with your doctor about whether you may need a supplement.

Don’t forget about D
Vitamin D, which you need to absorb calcium properly, is a unique nutrient in that it’s available only in a few foods: fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk. We get most of our vitamin D through sun exposure: when UV light penetrates skin, skin cells produce a compound that the liver and kidneys convert to vitamin D. But as you age, skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing D. To meet increased needs with age, many experts recommend a supplement. (The recommended daily intake for people aged 51 to 70 is 400 IU; those over 70 need 600 IU—but many medical experts say that these recommendations are outdated and that most people, particularly those aged 50-plus, should aim for 1,000 IU.) Talk with your doctor about what’s best for you.

“B” aware of changing nutrient needs
As you age, your stomach produces less gastric acid, which makes it harder for the body to absorb vitamin B12—a nutrient that helps keep blood and nerves healthy—from natural food sources. (These include meat, fish, eggs and dairy products like yogurt and milk.) Since data suggest that up to one-third of older people can no longer absorb the vitamin from food, nutrition experts advise that people aged 50-plus get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods, such as cereal or supplements. A multivitamin that supplies 100 percent the daily value should do you fine.

Keep moving!
It's never too late to reap the benefits of exercise. Research shows that regular exercise—at any age—not only helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers, but also burns calories, gives you energy, relieves stress, helps you sleep better and improves strength and balance. What’s more, studies show exercise increases blood flow to the brain and may even help new brain cells grow, which keeps the mind sharp. The key to reaping the benefits of physical activity is sticking with it, so choose any exercise you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day.

If you drink, do so in moderation
Studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect against heart disease. But consuming alcoholic beverages may interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications. It also may increase the risk for some kinds of cancer. (The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends avoiding alcohol altogether.) It’s important to weigh for yourself the risks and benefits. If you decide to drink, limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

Play it safe with food storage and prep
As you get older, your risk of food-borne illness increases (likely in part due to an aging immune system, say experts). Store and handle food properly (think: keeping your fridge at a safe temperature; avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen).

So there you go, a few tips to consider incorporating to your daily routine.  As always be sure and check with your doctor before changing anything.  

Peace & Love – April Williams

Friday, September 23, 2016

Attitude Impact on Active Aging & Health

“Know that you are the perfect age.  Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once.  Be comfortable with growing older.” – Louise Hay

Don’t you wish it was that easy?  Attitude is everything, but life throws curves at you when you least expect it and it can ruin your whole day, month or year. What counts in life is how many times we get up after being knocked down and what we take away from each experience. 

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health showed that, of two groups with different views of aging, the people who felt good about older people were 44 percent more likely to recover from a severe disability than those with negative views.

“This result suggests that how the old view their aging process could have an effect on how they experience it,” noted Becca Levy, PhD, director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at the Yale School of Public Health, in a press release. “In previous studies, we have found that older individuals with positive age stereotypes tend to show lower cardiovascular response to stress and they tend to engage in healthier activities, which may help to explain our current findings.”

Recovery from disability was equated with being able to perform four routine activities: bathing, dressing, moving from a chair and walking. Doing well in these things is associated with longer life expectancy and lower use of healthcare facilities.

In general, studies show that people who maintain a positive attitude tend to make healthier lifestyle choices. According to a Mayo Clinic study, people with a positive attitude get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet and have lower rates of smoking and alcohol consumption.

According to HelpGuide.org, Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.

Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness. The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.

Mindfulness improves well being
  • Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
  • Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
  • By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

Mindfulness Improves Physical Health
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:
  • Help relieve stress
  • Treat heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness Improves Mental Health

In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.

It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes good sense, since both meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, maladaptive, and self-defeating thoughts.

Mindfulness Techniques


There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.”
Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.


Another technique:

Learning to stay in the present
 
A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you to stay in the present and fully participate in your life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild. Attending to these points will help:
  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.

When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

We live in a go, go, go society and tend to lose sight of the “stop and smell the roses,” mentality, or the keen awareness of a child.  If we but took time for these few actions, we just might enjoy life a little more and may forget the pains of aging for a short while.  Get started, what do you have to lose.

Peace & Love,
April Williams

Friday, September 2, 2016

Neuropathy Nerve Pain Causes & Helpful Food Supplements

Today I would like to talk a little bit about Neuropathy, and the foods and supplements that may help in curbing the pain caused by this ailment.

Neuropathy, Means nerve disease or damage to the nerves.  It can result in pain, tingling, burning or loss of feeling in hands and feet.

According to WEBMD:
Diabetes is one disease that can cause neuropathy.  There are three kinds of diabetic neuropathy. (Peripheral Neuropathy:  These are the nerves that sense pain, touch, hot and cold. They affect movement and muscle strength and the feet and lower legs are most often affected. The damage it causes gets worse slowly and over months and years.  Autonomic Neuropathy: These nerves control things like your heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, urination and sexual function.  Focal Neuropathy: Most often affects one nerve, usually in the wrist, thigh, or foot, it can also affect the nerves of your back and chest and those that control your eye muscle. This type of damage usually happens suddenly.

Diabetes is not the only culprit, injuries, medications, and poisoning from metals, chemicals or medications can also be the cause.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage II Breast cancer.  While going through chemo, I was plagued with the pain of nerve damage.  At a loss of not knowing what to do or how to differentiate one pain from another brought about by the infusions, my wonderful oncologist diagnosed me with Neuropathy.  After meeting with my oncologist, I also met with a nutritionist and they provided me a list of supplements and foods that might just help relieve this particular side effect.   Here are a few remedies and nutritional supplements that I tried and seemed to really help me heal.

ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid):  Is an antioxidant that is made by the body and helps to turn glucose (sugar) into energy. Research suggests taking 600mg a day is a safe dose.  Improvements are usually seen within 3-5 weeks.  ALA should only be used for up to four weeks.

Foods Rich in ALA:
  • Meat (organ meats) - No thank you, I took a pass!
  • Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, peas, tomatoes)
  • Yeast (Brewer's yeast)

GLUTAMINE:  Is an amino acid that has long been used in the treatment of medication side effects.  Research suggests 30g a day will reduce neuropathy pain.

This supplement has helped me tremendously.

Foods Rich in Glutamine:
  • Meat (fish,pork, chicken, turkey)
  • Beans
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Vegetables (spinach, cabbage, parsley)

VITAMIN B6: Is a vitamin that the body uses for metabolism. B6 is commonly found in meats, whole grains and vegetables.  Research suggests taking 50-100mg per day may help decrease tingling and numbness in your hands and feet.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B6:
  • Fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout and tuna)
  • Vegetables (bell peppers, spinach, potatoes, peas, asparagus)
  • Nuts and Seeds (peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts)
  • Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
  • Beans (chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans)

My all-time favorite Vitamin B6 breakfast recipe:

BANANA SPLIT OATMEAL: (This recipe has oatmeal, nuts and bananas which are a great source of Vitamin B6)
  • 1/2 cup dry old fashioned quick 1-min. oats
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries, microwaved
  • 1/4 cup bananas, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. peanuts

Directions: Cook oats with enough water to achieve desired consistency.  Mix with microwaved frozen strawberries, sliced banana, chocolate chips and top with peanuts.

As always, check with your doctor first before trying any of these supplements.  What may work for me, may not work for you.  Every situation and treatment is different.

Peace & Love,

April Williams

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Generic Drugs vs. Brand Name Drugs

Generic. When you hear this word you often associate it with not as good, cheap, or a knock off of something that is similar but not as good. Considering these thoughts, are generic drugs a bad thing or a good thing when compared to brand name drugs. Over the next few paragraphs we will explain what it takes for manufacturers to make generic drugs, how they are approved by the government for sale and use, and why there is nothing to worry about when considering generic drugs versus brand name drugs.

Generic Drugs are prescription medications that the US Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, has determined to have the same quality as brand-name drugs, but at a cheaper price. In fact, if you’ve had a prescription filled recently there’s a good chance that you are taking a generic drug. Almost 80% of prescription drugs sold are generic, which helps save patients, hospitals and insurance company billions of dollars each year.

The big question is how does the FDA ensure that a drug meets the same standards as a brand name drug? The criteria they consider that matters to you as the patient are:
  • The drug can be taken in the same way as the brand name drug
  • The drug is taken for the same reason as the brand name drug
  • It must have the same active ingredient as the brand name drug
  • It must be the same strength as the brand name drug
  • It must have the same use and effect as the brand name drug
  • It must be taken in the same way as the brand name drug (pill, inhaler, liquid, etc)
  • It must have the ability to reach the required level in your bloodstream at the right time for the same extent
  • It must meet testing standards
Well, that is great, but what is the difference between a generic drug and brand name drug? Generics may differ in the following:
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Packaging
  • Labeling (minor differences)
  • They may have different inactive ingredients such as flavor, color or preservatives. The inactive ingredients in a generic drug must be consider safe by the FDA.
When you think about the price difference you have to wonder how the drug manufacturers are able to make money pay for research, development, advertising, and distribution. The FDA has set up policies to allow drug manufacturers the ability to recoup these costs by providing them with patent protection when they are first sold. These patents give the brand name manufacturer exclusive rights to produce and sell the drugs for a limited time, with an average patent protection time of 12 years. When the patent period ends, other companies can then manufacture and sell a generic version which they can do for a lower price.

Generic drugs introduce the possibility of multiple manufacturers producing the same drug, thereby creating a more competitive pricing environment to benefit the end user.

So, are generic drugs as effective as brand-name drugs? In short the answer is absolutely yes. If you have any questions about generic drugs do not hesitate to consult your doctor. Also, here is a link to the FDA’s Drug Resources Questions and Answers with official clarification from the US government.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Aging Gracefully

You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
George Bernard Shaw


Aging gracefully, everyone has heard that term, especially reaching a certain age category, but what does it really mean? We all have our own ideas and thoughts, but how do we truly embrace the signs of aging and continue to power through life with dignity as we are faced with the complications old age brings?

"For some reason, our society is very obsessed with pointing out negative aspects of aging," says Susan Whitbourne, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also the past president of the American Psychological Association's Division on Aging.

Yes, getting older is rife with emotional landmines, gerontologists say, including fears of losing one's independence or getting a serious illness.

Experts say the keys to successful aging include accepting change, finding meaningful activities and relationships.  It may not be easy, but attitude matters a lot.

We all have one thing in common and that is growing old, whether we like it or not.  We live in a time where there is so much out there to assist in stopping and reversing the aging process, you could go broke. Even with all the help you can get, it doesn’t’ change the fact that our mind believes were20 and our body being the voice of reason says otherwise.

Balance in ones life is so important, "Balance is key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness, and through awareness we can grow". - Kori Fresco.

This is just the start of what's to come. I will be discussing the importance of balancing all three, the mind, the body, and the spirit, in future posts. Until then "keep on keeping' on" - Joe Dirt. 

Peace and Love-
April