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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

birthday.pngWhen it comes to birthdays, people seem to have mixed emotions.  Kids look forward to turning a year older, counting down the days until their next birthday and often saying their age with the “and a half” added to it.  Children also look forward to their milestones – becoming a teenager, turning 16, then 18, then 21 – for various reasons.  Eventually, though, the years begin to pass more quickly and the birthdays seem to just keep coming.  As adults, some of us are happy to have our birthday come around again while many would prefer not to think about it.

When a birthday arrives, it may seem like any other day; you have to keep stopping to remember that the day is extra special.  Sometimes you might forget, remembering only when someone walks by you and says “Happy Birthday!”  Because I personally am prone to this tendency, years ago I started observing the week of my birthday and celebrating all week long.  By doing so, I am not forcing myself to cram all my excitement, thoughts, and feelings into a 24-hour period in which eight hours are spent sleeping.

I like my birthday and look forward to it every year. I always have!  How about you? How do you feel about your birthday?  If you’re in the camp that doesn’t like having a birthday and turning a year older, it may be helpful to focus on your birthday as a celebration of another year of life.  The American Cancer Society once had a campaign called “More Birthdays” in which they observed and celebrated years lived well to see a world with more birthdays.

youth-570881_640Taking a positive approach to birthdays in which you express gratitude for your health and life may actually improve your overall attitude and outlook in the days to come!  My close and oldest friend (not oldest in age, but the one I have known since first grade!) and I celebrated our 40th birthdays at a “getaway spa” in another state.  Since the “big ones” get fewer as we get older, we decided to celebrate the decade ones in style, or at least in our own style.  This year my friend and I have planned another “birthday trip” to celebrate turning “50”.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states highlighting time-based landmarks – such as birthdays – may help to motivate positive behavior change and promote success in future-oriented goals.  I started planning my “turning 50 years old” celebration when I was 47 “and a half”.  My plan was to be physically the strongest I have ever been come age 50, even stronger than when I played sports in high school.  I got myself a personal Pilate’s instructor who provided me with a mix of cardio and strength training, and thus I began my journey toward my 50th birthday.  When the day arrived, I had met my goal and made turning 50 years “old” feel like 50 years “young”.

Isn’t that the take away from birthdays – giving thanks and looking forward to celebrating our birth no matter how old we are or where we are in our life journey? Be grateful today for the chance to think about or plan another year. When your next birthday comes around, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the reset button and/or celebrate another year well lived.

Sources:

American Cancer Society (2008). Official Sponsor of Birthdays. http://relay.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CA_Home_Birthdays

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Peetz, J. & Wilson, A. E. (2013). The post-birthday world: Consequences of temporal landmarks for temporal self-appraisal and motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 249-266. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-27895-001

Written by: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu.

 

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ud freontAre you thinking of making some changes to your home to make it easier to live in as you age, but just don’t know where to start? Many changes associated with implementing Universal Design features are fairly minor, inexpensive, and require little effort (i.e., changing round door knobs to lever door handles). Other changes, however, are more significant, more expensive, and may require a professional contractor. For example, a colleague of mine shared a story about her sister converting a closet on the main floor into a bathroom with a walk in shower and a laundry room in her 100 year old home in order to be able to remain in her home due to a chronic illness. Regardless of the type of change your home requires, once you make a decision to make modifications to your home, the next two steps are to decide on the extent of change you will make and to identify specific ways in which to implement these changes.

DECIDING ON WHAT HOME MODIFICATIONS TO MAKE

Once you recognize that your home or the home of a loved one is in need of modifications, whether for safety concerns or to enable them to age in place, it is important to carefully consider both the personal abilities and limitations of the person who lives in this home as well as which features in the home require attention.

An “assessment” is a comprehensive review of an individual’s mobility, sensory, environmental, and financial condition. This type of tool can assist in identifying what areas need the most attention and what home modifications might improve someone’s quality of life or make their environment more accessible and comfortable.

An assessment conducted by a professional can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to conduct and usually involves a fee. Individuals can also conduct their own assessments using free downloadable worksheets from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) web site.

LOCATING HOME MODIFICATION OR ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT PRODUCTS

Because working with adaptive equipment and universal design features may not be an area of expertise for the contractor you hire, you may have to find some of the UD shoppingproducts yourself. When shopping for supplies and equipment, make sure to ask for Universal Design products. They may require placing a special order, so be certain to give yourself and your contractor time for delivery. If you can’t find what you want at your local retail store, you can also look online for Universal Design catalogs.

PLAN AND CARRY OUT THE INSTALLATION

  • When you have decided exactly what you want to do, and the size of the job required, assess your own or a family member’s skill to accomplish the job. If you have a modest income, you may be eligible for a home assessment/home modification program in your community or county.
  • Check with your local Area Office on Aging, senior center, independent living center, or Community Action Agency for information on home modification programs available in your community.
  • Contact your Local Community Development Department. Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to assist individuals in maintaining and upgrading their homes.
  • Ask local Lenders and Banks about loan options. Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM’s) that allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

Are there things that you can do to make your home more accessible? Remember to start by assessing your home, exploring your needs and developing a plan that will allow you to age in place.

SOURCES

Livable Lingo: Our Livability Glossary. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/tool-kits-resources/info-2015/planning-and-policies.html, July 16, 2018.

 

Written by: Kathy Goins, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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Does your home fit you? It is the pivotal question asked when takitchenlking about the concept of Universal Design. So what is Universal Design? It is a worldwide movement based on the idea that all environments and products should be usable by all people, regardless of their ages, sizes, or abilities. Because this movement applies to everyone, the concept of Universal Design is known around the world as “design for all,” “inclusive design,” and “life-span design.”

An important component of Universal Design is the maintenance of aesthetics. In other words, to create something that is still “visually pleasing” to others despite being accessible to everyone. Function does NOT have to sacrifice beauty. As a result, universally designed homes and public buildings can be just as beautiful and welcoming as any other design approach. Increasingly, experts are referring to the concept of Universal Design as the “wave of the future.” It is the hope of Universal Design advocates that eventually all buildings, homes, and products will be designed to meet the needs of everyone.

WHY HOME MODIFICATION?

Whether you are building a new home, or repairing or renovating an existing home, you too can incorporate characteristics of Universal Design through home modification. These modifications can vary from building a new home with universally designed features, to simple installation of lever door knobs on an older home, to more complex structural changes in an existing home, such as installing a walk-in shower or an accessible ramp. The goal of home modification for existing homes is not to entirely redesign the home but to make a range of changes or repairs that result in your home being a comfortable, user-friendly, and safer place to live.

bathroomImplementing Universal Design home modifications can result in a home that you can remain in as you age. This concept is often referred to as “aging in place.” The idea behind “aging in place” is to enable individuals to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. The goal is to avoid having to relocate simply because one’s home is too difficult to get around in.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN?

A group of Universal Design advocates from the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University have developed seven principles of Universal Design. These principles can be applied to evaluate existing environments or products, serve as guidelines in the development or renovation of existing environments, and serve to educate consumers and professionals wanting to understand the characteristics of this design approach.

Principle 1: Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions of the user’s sensory abilities.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

The American Association of Retired Persons provides a Home Fit Quiz which gives suggestions on home modifications that can make your home safe and comfortable for years to come

Remember, a home that has universal design features is a home that fits everyone’s needs whether they are young or old, short or tall, with physical limitations or without.

Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educatore, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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With advances in medical care, longer life expectancies, and more people living with chronic disease more of us will be participating in the caregiver process. If you find yourself in the caregiving role, you may be experiencing a variety of feelings. Here are some feelings common among those caring for a family member.

Anxiety and worry – about additional responsibilities and expenses, the future…

Anger or resentment – toward the patient or the world in general…. Or even toward friends or others who don’t have the responsibilities of caregivers.

Guilt – You may feel like you should do more, or have more patience, or be more available.

Grief – You experience loss with the caregiving role… the future you envisioned, the health of the loved one you’re caring for… the eventual loss of your loved one if he or she is terminally ill.

Accept your feelings and know you are not alone. Find someone you can confide in to share your feelings and help you deal with them. You could seek additional support from other family members, friends, church, caregiver organizations or therapists.

caregiver-helping-elderly-woman-350

HelpGuide.org offers these tips for caregivers:

Learn about your family member’s illness and about how to be a caregiver. Knowing more will lesson your anxiety and increase your effectiveness.

Seek out others who are caregivers. It’s always helpful to know you’re not alone and others experience similar things. Is there a support group in your area? Family Caregiver Alliance offers resources for caregivers.

Trust your instincts when it comes to sorting through doctor’s treatment suggestions. You know your family member the best.

Encourage your loved one to be independent. Explore technologies or adaptive equipment that will allow your loved one to be as independent as possible.

Know your limits. Be reasonable about how much or your time and of yourself you can give. And communicate those limits to others… doctors, family members, extended family members. Ask for help or respite care when you need relief.

Caregiving comes with a lot of responsibility and burden at times, but can also be rewarding and satisfying knowing that you are sacrificing for a family member to help them feel more comfortable and loved.

Sources:

HelpGuide.org http://www.helpguide.org/articles/caregiving/caregiving-support-and-help.htm

Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org/state-list-views?field_state_tid=94

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County

 

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beach scene

Photo:  American Cancer Society

It’s almost summertime and that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, and lazy afternoons in the sun.  Before you head outdoors be sure to apply enough sunscreen to generously coat skin that will not be covered by clothing – at least an ounce (or the amount in a shot glass).  Most people only apply ¼ to ½ of the amount of sunscreen that they actually need.   It should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so your skin has time to absorb the lotion.  Be sure to use a broad spectrum water-resistant formula that protects against UVA and UVB rays with a minimum SPF of 30.  Reapply lotion at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Some areas of the body can be particularly vulnerable to sun damage.  Here’s how to protect those danger-prone areas from head to toe:

Scalp:  Hair doesn’t protect your scalp much, especially as hair thins while we age.  Since you can’t really put sunscreen on your head, be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat made of a tightly woven fabric.

Face:  Noses, tops of ears and lips are very vulnerable to sun damage.  Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and apply generously to your ears and nose.  Apply lip balm with sunscreen.

Eyes:  Eyes can get sunburned when the sun is reflected off water or snow.  The damage is cumulative which increases the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays with frames that contour your face.  Don’t forget the kids, too!

Back:  The skin on the back is the one of the most common spots for melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer.  Have a family member or friend apply sunscreen and watch for changes (ragged edges, varying color and sizes larger than a pencil eraser) in moles or other skin lesions.

Hands:  The backs of our hands get exposed to the sun every day, resulting in thin crackled skin with dark spots.  Be sure to wear sunscreen on your hand every day of the year.

Legs:  Women’s legs are a common area for melanoma.  Be sure to wear sunscreen if legs aren’t covered with clothing.

Feet:  Sandals expose skin to the sun causing sunburned feet.  Be sure to reapply sunscreen to your feet if you’re swimming.  Although it is not a common, the soles of the feet can get skin cancer.

Resources:  

https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs

American Cancer Society, Protect Your Skin From the Sun, Stacy Simon, May 11, 2015.

Gannett News, USA Today, May 3, 2015,“Sunny days ahead, so don’t forget to cover up”. 

 Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewers:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed OSU Extension; Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA.

 

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Arthritis affects more than 1 in 5 people, or 52.5 million U.S adults. The word arthritis means joint inflammation, and can be associated with over 100 million rheumatic diseases (1). The diseases can vary in severity and can affect many joints, organs, and a person’s immune system. Someone can develop arthritis at any age, and some arthritis types are more common in women, the elderly, and people with a family history. A few common signs and symptoms of arthritis are painful joints, swelling and stiffness, and fatigue.

There has been research to determine whether or not diet and lifestyle can improve arthritis pain and flare-ups. Diets have been researched that eliminate dairy, red meat, sugar, caffeine, fats, nightshade plants (tomatoes, eggplant), and salt, with positive results. Another research study shows a vegan diet, with polyunsaturated, and omega-3 supplements have a mild benefit to people with arthritis (2).

skeleton with arthritis

“Pain-Safe Foods” are known to rarely contribute to arthritis. These foods include brown rice, cooked green, yellow or orange vegetables, water, and cooked or dried fruits (except for citrus fruits). People have different trigger foods, and slowly eliminating different types of foods can help you determine which is encouraging the inflammation. Some common trigger foods include dairy, corn, meats, eggs, citrus, potatoes, tomatoes, coffee, nuts, and wheat, oats, and rye (2).

berries

The Arthritis Foundation recommends regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight to lessen inflammation in a person with arthritis (4). Today, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Studies show that weight loss relieves pressure on a person’s knees, lessens body pain, and lowers inflammation levels in the body (3). The CDC recommends people under the age of 65 to have 150 minutes or moderate intensity activity and muscle strength training at least 2 days a week. For people over the age of 65, the same recommendations are listed, but with the addition of balance activities at least 3 days a week (5).

Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating disease. With lifestyle and diet modifications, pain can be lessened and daily activities can be enjoyable again. Begin with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and follow a Doctor’s medication recommendations, and you are more likely to live a life with less pain!

stretching

Author(s):  Jennifer Even, OSU Extension Educator, FCS/EFNEP, Hamilton County; Tia Jackson, Dietetic Intern, University of Cincinnati.

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/
  2. http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/foods-and-arthritis
  3. http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/losing-weight/benefits-of-weight-loss/weight-joint-pain.php
  4. http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/chronic/arthritis_disability_fs.htm
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_overview.htm

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familyDoes the rush of the holiday season leave you feeling as if you might be missing something? With so many things to do and places to go, it is important not to overlook elderly family members. For many, the holidays are filled with celebrations and festivities with family and friends, but it can be a difficult time for those who have difficulty getting around, or are confined to their homes. Many seniors report feelings of loneliness and isolation, and these feelings can be exaggerated during the holidays. Seniors might choose to forego family celebrations and festivities for fear of falling or being a burden.

Unfortunately a day out with an elderly person cannot be spontaneous. However, with a little pre-planning and modifications, holiday traditions and activities can be made easier and safer for senior family members.  Contemplate ways to include older relatives who may have difficulty getting around.

First, consider the activity. Is it suitable for elderly family members?  When planning, some factors to think through are:

  • How far can the elderly person travel?
  • Are the costs affordable to the senior?
  • How much walking is involved?  Are there hills or other obstacles that would make it hard to navigate?
  • Is there wheelchair access?
  • Is there parking nearby?
  • Are restrooms easily accessible?
  • Are there benches or chairs that can be used?

It is also important to think about what you need to take with you on any outing. You will want to be prepared for anything. For example:

  • Make sure you have all the medications needed. Take an extended supply, just in case you are still out when the next dose is due.
  • Have clothing appropriate for the weather and the outing. Comfortable shoes and warm weather clothes are important. Bring along extra clothes in the case of an accident.
  • Bring some snacks and plenty of water.

Once you get to the activity, the next step is to be alert to any hazards or problems that might occur. Holidays are a joyful time of year meant for get-togethers, memories, and a touch of nostalgia. However, the holiday season can be one of the most dangerous times for seniors. For example:

  • You may be perfectly capable of navigating the string of Christmas lights sprawled across the living room floor, but an elderly person may trip over them and experience a severe fall.
  • Be aware of how decorations may affect your loved ones ability to move freely throughout the home without increasing the risk of falls. Just because you can easily navigate the extra decorations, doesn’t mean that your loved one will.
  • Look for extension cords or floor rugs that can lead to a fall.
  • Consider the effect that too much clutter can have on a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Too many lights, music and decorations can prove to be too overwhelming.
  • Make sure that walkways are clear of ice and snow.

The holidays give seniors something to look forward to, provide a stimulating change of scene, and create pleasant memories to carry with them. So, even though it may take a little extra planning and work, involving your senior family members in holiday celebrations can improve the meaning of the holiday season.

Sources:

http://www.ncoa.org/

http://aging.ohio.gov/home/

http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_holidays.html

Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region

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