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Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors

We’re at that time of year again, when we’ll be celebrating with loved ones, enjoying special food and gifts, and then making plans to make 2016 even better than this year. New Year’s resolutions will make up a decent portion of conversation at many a holiday table. And although lots of people will be planning to lose weight, learn a new language, or cut back on the coffee, seniors have some special priorities.

So as you look toward January 1st and think about how you will make your life better in the New Year, here are the top resolutions for seniors…

  1. Make fitness a priority. We say all of the time that fitness makes everything better, and it truly does! Regardless of whether you have had your health and fitness at heart and just need to enhance it, or you’re just beginning to look at this crucial part of living, make fitness a priority in the New Year. From consistent exercise, to eating healthier, any steps you take toward your health and fitness will be beneficial.
  2. Proof your home against falls. One in three aging adults falls each year, leading to painful injuries that can take months to recover from, or even death. Fall-proof your home by removing things that may put you at risk for falling, such as throw rugs, and install things that may help you prevent a fall, like handrails in the shower.
  3. Challenge your emotional and mental health. I know that I’ve mentioned this several times before, “Use it or lose it!” Your mind works better the more you use it. Do puzzles, crosswords, and engage your mind in social situations like bridge club (this will also help keep you from becoming depressed).
  4. Document your memories. You’ve lived a long, full life! While you probably don’t expect it to come to a close anytime soon, now is the time to document your stories and memories for your legacy, so that your children and grandchildren (and beyond) can appreciate them too. At very least, make an effort to label every photo or memento you have. Another great project to start in the New Year is to put them all into an album – craft stores have fun paper, stamps, cut-outs and more to make a beautiful scrapbook.
  5. Get things in order. This may be a morbid concept, but getting your affairs in order and informing your loved ones of your wishes now will save a lot of heartache and complication after your passing. It can be hard to face this project, or to even know where to start. The National Institute on Aging has some guidelines – click here to learn more.

Happy New Year!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Thoughtful, Creative Gift Ideas for Seniors

Struggling to find the perfect holiday gift for an aging loved one? Here are several creative gift ideas for seniors to help get you started!

Entertainment Passes. Even if they are independent and active, a retired senior is often on a fixed income and cannot afford extras such as tickets to the theatre, golf course passes, and similar entertainment activities. Give them an experience they will cherish with tickets or passes an upcoming performance or local pastime like golfing or dance lessons. Maybe even make a date out of it, so you can enjoy it together!

Custom Gift Basket. Elderly people have a lot of difficulty shopping, so a special gift basket just for them is a lovely treat! Pack it with their favorite cookies and chocolate, tea, fresh fruit, and snacks. Add in things such as slippers, restaurant gift cards, small games or puzzles, large-print magazines, and maybe some assistive items such as a page magnifier, head lamp, or oversized calculator.

Tablet. Although the aging loved one(s) in your life may not be tech-savvy, they can easily learn how to use a tablet for reading, engaging with friends over social media, and more! A tablet can help them feel more connected, while also offering entertainment. Since it’s an all-in-one device, a tablet such as a Kindle Fire or iPad can also help them manage medications, exercise their mind with brain games, and read their favorite books in large-print.

Memory Book. One of the most treasured things we all have is our memories, which is why dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is so painful. Remind your loved one of the best of times with a handmade photo or scrapbook that they can flip through and enjoy.

Household Items. As boring as it may seem, elderly people don’t have much ability to shop for household items that suit developing conditions such as arthritis, diminishing eyesight/hearing, etc. Items such as cozy throw blankets, clothing that is easy to put on and remove, custom kitchen essentials (ergonomic and better grip), towels, and devices to help them manage their medications are great ideas.

The gift of fitness is one that you can give as well, and it’s a gift that improves every aspect of their life! Give them the video enhanced eBook, Fit After Fifty: Because It Makes Everything Better, to inspire them, and consider purchasing a membership to their local gym so that they have a place to start.

Featured photo source.

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Hosting Grandma This Thanksgiving? Senior-Friendly Tips for the Holidays

This is the time of year when families and friends gather around a table to enjoy each other and celebrate the things they are thankful for! Many families will be hosting grandparents and other elderly relatives and friends. It’s important to keep in mind that your aging loved ones have some special needs and things you should consider when planning your holiday meal and activities. Here are some senior-friendly tips for the holidays:

Holiday Meal Pointers

Two major things to keep in mind when planning your Thanksgiving dinner with Nana in mind is that she won’t be able to metabolize food the same way, and that her taste buds may be very different. Make plenty of side dishes that are easy to chew and swallow, since tough and dry foods are difficult with reduced saliva production and dentures that older people often have to deal with. Cut back on the salt to reduce risk of high blood pressure, and compensate with savory (not spicy!) seasonings. Keep nutrition at the forefront of your meal planning, since elderly people often have reduced appetites and need as much nutrition and good calories as they can get. If you can, prepare a special dish or two that your aging loved one loves!

Planning the Setting

Elderly people can have a lot of unique needs, particularly if their reduced mobility or condition keeps them mostly wheelchair-bound. Make sure there is plenty of space for them to maneuver at the holiday table. That could mean leaving space for their wheelchair or giving their chair (make sure it’s a comfortable one with plenty of support!) extra space for them to get their from their walker. You may also need to have the temperature set a little higher, or have a space heater to place near them, so that they are comfortable and warm. Clear the path to the downstairs bathroom so that they can easily get there, and if they have bladder control problems, you may want to have spare towels and cleaner at-the-ready in case of an accident.

Emotional/Mental Considerations

This time of year can be very difficult both emotionally and mentally for seniors. Depression and loneliness are serious concerns; even if your aging loved one is joining in your holiday festivities. Keep this in mind, and try to plan ways to help them engage and join in with everyone else’s celebrations and activities. Simple games that they can play with the kids, old/classic music, and simply spending some time talking with them are good ways to do this. Sadly, this season is also likely one of the few times that you have the opportunity to notice symptoms of other illnesses, such as dementia.

In what ways do you prepare to host elderly loved ones over the holidays? Please feel free to share them!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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How to Engage and Reduce the Feeling of Isolation this Holiday Season

While many families are anticipating weeks of madness in preparation for and celebration of the holidays, the season can be a different kind of dreadful for others. It can be the most isolating time of year for seniors and the elderly people who do not have family or community nearby.

Loneliness and isolation can lead to serious depression in elderly people – a potentially deadly condition. If you do not have a community that you can enjoy during the holidays, and your family is inaccessible this year, make an effort to engage and reduce the feeling of isolation this holiday season. Here are some ideas:

  • Join in local events. Plenty of neighborhoods and communities have celebratory events and activities for the holiday season. You may need to have some mobility for this idea, but you should find out what’s happening near you, and attend anything that sounds fun and is open to the public.
  • Give back. You’ve heard the adage, “It’s better to give than receive”, and nothing is truer this time of year. Trump any isolation by finding ways you can engage with the less privileged, either through a local church or community center.
  • Reach out to your neighbors. Sometimes we just need to ask for the help that we need. If you have neighbors with a family, consider asking them if they would consider coming by for some hot chocolate and cookies on Christmas Day.
  • Adopt an underprivileged family. Local food banks and homeless shelters will have information about underprivileged families who are struggling this time of year. Why not see if you can find a family that will share the day with you? If you’re unable to cook, you could bring the ingredients and keep the kids occupied while the parents cook Christmas dinner.

If you live in the U.K., you might not have to take initiative on this yourself. A Huffington Post reporter recently brought attention to Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas, two non-profits in the U.K. who are mobilizing volunteers around the world to gift the gift of time to seniors in their community this year. Other local organizations may also be doing similar events – check with your local community center and nearby churches.

“We know that loneliness can have a devastating impact on older people’s lives, and those we work with tell us that becoming isolated from a community they were once part of can be especially difficult. That’s why we’re calling on individuals, organizations and businesses to put on Christmas Day activities to bring together older people in their community who don’t want to be alone,” said Steve Allen, Friends of the Elderly Chief Executive.

Efforts like these will help to reduce the feeling of isolation that many elderly people experience during this season. Last year, the Royal Voluntary Service estimated that 490,000 elderly people would spend Christmas 2014 alone – a number that is certain to increase year over year. Let’s work to reduce the number of people who are spending the holiday season in isolation.

Featured photo source: fote.org.uk

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Playgrounds for Seniors are Fun, Improve Health & Balance

I recently came across a Huffington Post article about a fantastic new concept for elderly peoples’ fitness… playgrounds! Apparently communities in Europe and Asia have begun to open playgrounds specifically designed with seniors in mind – meaning low-impact exercise equipment – and the trend has come to the U.S.

Playgrounds for seniors and parks that are designed for multi-generational consumers provide a fun, playful way to exercise important areas such as coordination and range of motion.

The low-impact equipment at these playgrounds is engineered to promote balance and flexibility – two important things that seniors consistently struggle to maintain or improve. Additionally (as you might expect), there are significant mental and social benefits to the playgrounds for seniors, as the parks often become community-gathering spots.

In partnership with the Humana Foundation, a company called KaBOOM! has constructed more than 50 multi-generational playgrounds across the U.S., serving both the elderly and the young. “Play is a great connector for adults and seniors and the children in their lives. In addition to the cognitive and physical benefits of play, it can also reduce stress in adults and is proven to help combat toxic stress in kids,” said Sarah Pinsky, KaBOOM!’s Director of Client Services.

Some of the most common equipment found at playgrounds for seniors include static or recumbent bicycles, striders, leg press machines, dexterity games, elliptical machines, steps, body flexors and ramped walking paths. “The best installations help to improve balance and minimize the risk of falls, build muscle strength and tone, extend your range of motion, and improve your manual dexterity,” noted a Senior Planet article about playgrounds for seniors.

A 2004 study of these playgrounds for seniors found that after three months of regular use (90 minutes per week) seniors aged 65 to 81 experienced improved balance, coordination and speed. They also were felt confident and empowered when faced with physical obstacles.

Would you exercise and play at a senior playground or multi-generational park in your neighborhood?

Featured photo source: SeniorPlanet.org.

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Exercising Helps You Live Longer

Most of us want to live as long as possible – well, as long as the quality of that life is pretty good. However, taking the steps to make that wish a reality can be difficult.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently released an Oslo University Hospital analysis that studied 5,700 elderly men (aged 68-77) in Norway over the course of 11 years. The analysis found that the elderly men who did three hours of exercise each week lived approximately five years longer than men who had a sedentary lifestyle.

This effect is about as powerful as giving up smoking is for life expectancy!

And in the analysis, it showed that both light and vigorous routines had the extended effect on life expectancy. Just getting out there and moving on a regular basis, even doing something as simple and easy as walking every day, can have a huge impact on how long you live.

Can you imagine an extra five years to enjoy your grandchildren – maybe even get to meet great-grandchildren whose births you would have missed otherwise? Five more years to spend with your friends and loved ones? An extra five years to enjoy all of the things you love?

That sounds great! This is what Fit After Fifty, the movement, is all about. We want to inspire and encourage every single man and woman aged 50-plus (and even those younger) to make fitness an important part of their everyday life. Fitness makes everything better: sleep habits, mood, energy levels, disease and injury prevention, physical wellbeing, and even your relationships.

Get on track with your fitness, and share the Fit After Fifty with everyone you know, so we can all live longer, better lives!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Revamping Retirement: Debunking 5 Myths About Senior Fitness

After decades spent working hard to provide for our families, retirement looks like a welcome chance to relax, travel, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. However, an important part of making your golden years last with the most enjoyment possible is to make fitness a part of your weekly (if not daily) routine.

Don’t take retirement literally by ‘retiring’ from your fitness workouts as well. And although it may seem daunting, there are lots of ways you can revamp your retirement with a great fitness regimen, and with help. Don’t get caught up in thinking that aging makes fitness impossible. In fact, there are several common myths about senior fitness, which I’d like to demystify so that you can revamp your retirement with fitness:

Myth #1: As we age, our physical ability declines to the point where it’s unsafe to exercise. While it is true that our endurance, strength, flexibility and balance diminish as we age (particularly with inactivity), we are able to fight the decline with exercise. Fitness will actually improve your balance and increase strength, as well as giving your memory a boost.

Myth #2: Exercising may increase the risk of heart attack. Your heart rate should be higher when you exercise, but the likelihood that exercising itself may cause a heart attack is minimal. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle (a la ‘couch potato’) is more likely to cause heart attacks than a lifestyle that includes consistent exercise. A fit heart is a healthy heart.

Myth #3: The equipment at the gym requires more strength than a senior has. You don’t need to start your fit lifestyle by benching 200! In fact, that would be very unsafe. Start with simple exercises such as walking a short distance every day, and then work up to light weight lifting.

Myth #4: Exercising will aggravate and increase joint pain. Arthritis and chronic joint pain may seem to inhibit exercise because the misconception is that exercise aggravates the pain. However, movement in your workouts will get your blood flowing, which actually helps to relieve pain and improve the function of your joints.

Myth #5: It’s too late to start exercising, after years spent without working out. It’s never too late to start! Years of inactivity will require that you start slow and simple, but you can work up to a healthy exercise routine that will relieve the pain, reduce the risks, and improve the process of aging.

 

Featured photo source: Flickr user Ivan Mlinaric.

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Golfers: How Yoga Can Improve Your Game

By Abby SeplowitzYoga for Golfers Instructor at the Kapalua Golf Academy

Do you want to play better, stronger, and longer? The combination of a solid yoga practice could be what your golf game is missing! When we observe different sports, golf may often be thought of as being on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to physical activity. Although it does not require sprinting to get your ball or getting sacked by linebackers, a well-rounded golf game may be one of the most difficult fitness levels to obtain. There must be a balance of physical flexibility, strength and coordination as well as concentration and acute mental focus.

Consistent yoga practice definitely helps to gain mobility/flexibility, power and stability in the golf swing. It also inadvertently contributes to a calm state of mind and mental ease for course management.

In Yoga for Golfers, we directly relate the golf swing to specific yoga poses that target muscle groups firing in the golf swing. A strong, solid foundation will help keep the player grounded for the optimal consistency and power obtainable. Using yoga postures to strengthen our bodies creates long, lean muscle, which is perfect for golf. A strong core and bottom half allow us to have the solid foundation in the golf swing that we strive to mirror from the pros. Flexibility is also a huge benefit for golfers and a key component in power gain. In Yoga for Golfers, many exercises incorporate twisting the top half of our body over a stable foundation on the bottom, mimicking that of the golf swing. Tremendous benefits and noticeable improvements are obtained by consciously taking what we learn on the yoga mat to the golf course, both mentally and physically.

Tree Pose at AcademyHighlighted below are some of the benefits of Yoga for Golfers, and how yoga can improve your golf game.

  • Flexibility – Many golfers have restrictions in their bodies that do not allow them to physically contort their bodies the way that our golf instructors want us to swing. By practicing yoga postures and techniques, we are constantly working on our mobility. Flexibility reduces swing faults by loosening up our bodies and in turn producing greater club head speed, while also reducing the risk of injury.
  • Posture – This is the foundation on which we hold our bodies. Working our front and back bodies with yoga postures will help keep spine angle consistent which will in turn produce more consistent swings and ball striking. Going deeper: good posture stems from the center of the body, which then enhances our extension and flexion of arms and legs.
  • Balance – Balance is a key component in movement, including yoga and golf. In the golf swing, balance is extremely important from start to finish. At every point in the swing we must remain balanced in order to strike the golf ball consistently and have a strong follow through. Also, because we play golf right or left handed, we often find inconsistencies throughout the body paralleling the amount of swings taken on one singular side. Yoga balances our right and left sides, front and back body, as well as helps to find a strong grounding and balance upon our own two feet.
  • Breathing – In yoga, you are constantly coordinating body movements with the breath. I have found great success in using intentional, focused breathing to manage my emotions on the course, as well as in my pre-shot routine and golf swing. Along with setting up my B.P.G.A., an acronym heavily focused on here at the Kapalua Golf Academy (ball placement, posture, grip, and alignment/aim), taking one deep breath before starting your swing will help hone your energy and the most power possible.

The addition of yoga to our daily routine will provide endless benefits. Specifically, the connection of yoga and golf enhances our golf game and gives us a greater appreciation for our bodies. Now get out there, roll out your yoga mat and start practicing!

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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Communities and Fitness Resources for Seniors

It’s hard to make any kind of big change in one’s life without support. Community is integral to the process, whether that is loved ones encouraging us to go after our dreams and meet our goals, or a supportive person (or group) joining us to do it together.

As a growing community itself, Fit After Fifty is designed to inspire and motivate individuals over the age of 50 (or getting close to it) to make fitness a focus in their lives. We’re here to help with tips, advice and information to support you in your journey.

But sometimes we need more than just inspiration and education to support a big change like exercise and nutrition. We have come across a couple of fitness resources for seniors, to help expand your community…

 

SilverSneakers®

Did you know that fitness after age 65 is considered important enough to qualify you for a Medicare benefit? SilverSneakers is a membership that connects seniors with fitness locations around the U.S. (more than 13,000) that have special classes for aging adults, as well as connecting them with fitness advisors, group activities and more. It’s a health benefit for Medicare plan members! Gyms around the U.S. are beginning to offer classes targeted to our demographic, and some, like 24-Hour Fitness, are incorporating the SilverSneakers program. Check with your local fitness facility to see if they have any classes specialized for the after-50 crowd.

 

SeniorFitnessSite.com

Fit After Fifty provides lots of articles with fitness and nutrition tips and ideas, but we’re not the only ones! SeniorFitnessSite.com also has great ideas for specific exercise regimens that are senior-friendly, tips for staying healthy as you age, and more. Another resource is ElderGym.com (It doesn’t look like it’s regularly updated anymore, there are still lots of helpful articles).

 

Live 2 B Healthy

If you currently live in a retirement community, find out if the community has or is open to incorporating on-site fitness training for its residents. Live 2 B Healthy is a national company that brings fitness classes directly to retirement facilities to support a healthier lifestyle for their residents.

 

American Senior Fitness Association

Beyond physical fitness, it is vital to keep your mental fitness strong as you age. The American Senior Fitness Association has a variety of programs and courses for fitness professionals who are working with aging adults, but you don’t have to be a personal trainer to take advantage of them. Engage your mind with your exercise regimen, and use their “Brain Fitness for Older Adults” course to do so effectively!

 

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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It’s Time to Get Our Parents Fit!

Most adult children care about the wellbeing of their aging parents, especially as their bodies start to deteriorate and pain as a consequence of aging gets worse. It is heartbreaking to watch any loved one in pain or with low quality of life as a result of the limits of aging. And when it’s the person that gave you life, raised you, supported you, made uncountable sacrifices for you, and kept you laughing and loving life all the way, that’s extremely distressing.

While we obviously can’t find the Fountain of Youth and get some rejuvenating water for Mom and/or Dad to drink to stay young forever, there are some ways to slow the aging process and improve their quality of life as they do grow older.

Fit After Fifty is a community and a movement that wants to inspire and support aging men and women who want to achieve a longer, better life through fitness. And beyond merely encouraging the after-fifty-ers themselves, the movement can go so much further. The Fit After Fifty community isn’t just people who are 50-plus and trying to get healthier and more fit… It’s for their kids, too!

We care about our parents, and can help support them to live better by introducing them to the life-changing benefit of fitness and health.

And it’s time. The sooner they start on a path to consistent weekly exercise and a nutritional diet, the sooner Mom and Dad can enjoy the benefits! Some of the best include more energy day-to-day, less pain from inflammation and other consequences of aging muscles, joints and bones, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduced risk of injury and illness, and the probability of a longer life.

What parent doesn’t want to enjoy active time with their kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids? By encouraging your Mom and Dad to get into fitness and re-fit their diet to a nutrition-packed one, you may be helping to extend their life by years. What’s more, the quality of that life will be worlds better than the one they may have spent wasting away in their TV chair.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com