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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

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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bmiWeight is a topic that gets discussed from the moment we are born. “You just had a baby girl? How much did she weigh?” While we are young, we happily get on the scales and announce that we have gained a couple more pounds. Weight determines which car seat an infant or toddler or young child needs to be safe while riding in a vehicle. Weight is documented on a chart each time we visit the Dr.’s office.

It seems though, that as we grow older, we feel more insecure about our weight. Most likely we are comparing ourselves to all of our friends and acquaintances thinking more about our body size, shape, and overall appearance rather than our weight. I find that looking in a mirror, I feel pretty good, but when I see myself in pictures I am very self-conscious that I am “bigger” than I thought.

Weight seems to creep up slowly for many over the years, and as we age it is more difficult to lose. Our metabolism slows down. We sit more than we did as youth and young adults. We are eating on the run and indulging in treats more often. So, what should we, as adults, do to equip ourselves with the best plan for living a healthy life?

Knowledge is power.

  1. We should not avoid the scales, but we should not overdo either. It is best to weigh yourself once a week at the same time. This will give you the best comparison. Once you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index). To calculate your BMI the formula is: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703. You may also use this BMI Calculator from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
  2. We need to also evaluate our Waist Circumference. A BMI alone may not give us a full picture. For example, persons with high muscle mass will often have a high BMI when they are actually very fit and healthy. While standing, use a flexible tape measure to find your waist circumference just above your hip bones. For women, a waist above 35 inches may indicate additional health risks. For men, a waist circumference above 40 inches may be of concern.
  3. Finally, we want to think about other risks such as family history, tobacco use, an inactive lifestyle, men over the age of 45 and women who have gone through menopause, and having already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or some other chronic disease.

Weight is just one indicator of our health and it is one many of us struggle with maintaining in a healthy range, but it is one worth tracking. Decreasing our body weight by just 5 – 10% can greatly reduce our risk of health problems. My husband has been working hard to lose some weight and eat healthier. I am consuming more vegetables and increasing my activity. When we support one another in our healthful adventures, it is more fun and the results are greater. What are you doing to reach and maintain a healthy weight? Let’s get started!

Author: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D. SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

Reviewer: Liz Smith, R.D.N., L.D. SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! 16 July 2014. Web.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.” 2010. http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Web.

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Walk with others

Walk with others

“The police called; they have Mom.  It’s the third time this month that Mom got mixed up and was found in the neighbor’s house.  Mom is getting more and more confused.  She doesn’t prepare healthy meals and often forgets to turn the oven off when she cooks.  She misses doses of her medicine because she forgets.  I feel like she needs daily assistance, but I have to work…  What can I do?”

Does this scenario sound familiar?  It is difficult to think about the possibility that someday one or both of our parents won’t be self-sufficient and will develop an increased dependency in meeting his/her daily needs.  Situations such as these are becoming much more familiar to many working adults.  The percentage of the U.S. population over the age of 65 continues to increase, so does the number of adult workers who are involved in caregiving.  In addition, there has been an increase in persons providing care to disabled children and veterans.

The month of November is National Caregiver’s Month which gives us an even stronger reason to reflect on the stresses and strains associated with the responsibility of providing care for a loved one.   These strains can be particularly difficult for mid-lifers juggling work, marriage duties, caring for their aging parents and the needs of their own children.  Along with the physical demands, it is also difficult to see the loss of independence of our parents.  However, many Americans see the time spent caring for their aging parents as only a small sacrifice.  During this process, caring for an elderly parent can be satisfying and enjoyable often resulting in an improved relationship for both parties. Most children help their parents willingly when needed and feel a sense of satisfaction by doing so.

Some ways to reduce the stress and increase the satisfying aspect of caregiving are some simple ideas that can make the experience more enjoyable.

  1. Set realistic goals and expectations and know your limitations.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Reach out to other family members and friends who can reduce the load of responsibilities.
  3. Remember to take care of yourself.  Losing yourself during the process or not seeing to your own health demands, nor maintaining your own health will only be harmful to both you and your family.  And lastly, involve other people by holding a family conference, seeking professional assistance, and using community resources.

Many communities have resources available to assist in those facing caregiving issues. Contact your local Center for Aging or Board of Disability Services to find more information.

Writer:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

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

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