Category Archives: Senior News

Tech Info for Seniors

by Matilda Charles

 

A benefit of being a senior is that we have more free time to learn new

things. One of the fastest-growing areas on our list of interests are all

things technological — computers, e-readers and smartphones.

 

The BDM Essential Guide Series has a large selection of magazine manuals

aimed at seniors and beginners who want to expand their knowledge of

electronic devices, or who are considering the purchase of electronic

gear and want to learn in advance how they’re operated. BDM’s manuals are

a combination of step-by-step tutorial and user guides. Here are a few of

the publications it offers: Laptops for Seniors, iPhones for Seniors,

Tablets for Seniors, Mac for Seniors, Google: A Guide for Beginners and

The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide to Android.

 

Another good source, in spite of its name, is the Dummy series. Each

manual is loaded with graphics, bold text and icons to bring your

attention to especially important information. On Dummies.com don’t miss

the “Computers for Seniors” and “Software for Seniors” sections. These

are basic articles ranging from how to fix your printer to how to use a

mouse.

 

If you’re not a beginner, check the whole list of Dummy books. You’ll be

surprised at the variety of topics. Read “Blogging for Dummies” if you

want to have a platform for a topic near and dear to your heart,

or “Building a Web Site for Dummies” if you want an Internet presence. Or

how about “eBay for Seniors for Dummies” as a way to build an online

store and make a profit on items you want to sell?

 

If you’re part of a senior center that gives classes on computer use, ask

if it would consider buying some of these materials to have on hand. Or

check your local bookstore or at the library.

***

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Yoga Boosts Memory

by Matilda Charles

 

Yoga is thought of as an umbrella term for various forms of the

discipline, but some kinds of yoga are said to be better for seniors than

others.

 

A study done by the University of Illinois focused on Hatha yoga, which

uses specific poses with flowing movements, meditation and breathing.

Researchers divided seniors ranging from 55 to 79 years of age into two

groups. One group did the specific Hatha yoga steps, and the other did

toning and stretching.

 

The results: Those who took the yoga classes three times a week for eight

weeks had better information recall (faster and more accurate), as well as

mental flexibility. They experienced “significant improvements in working

memory capacity.”

 

What’s key: The half of the participants who did only stretching and

toning instead of yoga didn’t have the same cognitive performance results.

There are, however, dozens of other forms of yoga for seniors to explore,

and classes are popping up everywhere, as well as for tai chi and qigong.

After taking yoga, tai chi and qigong classes, here is my assessment:

Yoga (any kind) involves painful poses, some on the floor. Tai chi is

done standing up, but poses are complicated. Qigong has gentle, flowing

movements done standing up. All of them offer benefits for strength,

flexibility, balance, stress reduction — and memory, in my estimation.

Your best bet is to find a yoga, tai chi or qigong class specifically

for seniors, perhaps one that’s taught by your local senior center or

hospital. Ask questions in advance.

 

If you have a computer, go online to search yoga, tai chi and qigong

individually. Check videos and watch the poses. Think about which type is

right for you. You’ll get a benefit from all of them.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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How Old Is Old?

by Matilda Charles

 

When do we seniors finally reach old age? The answer depends on who we

ask, and when.

 

Back in 2009, Pew Research did a survey, and the average answer was at 68

years old … unless the person being asked was under 30. Then “old age”

struck before age 60, said the youngsters. Those who were already age 65

said old age didn’t arrive until age 74. The result was even disputed by

sex; when all ages were averaged, women said age 70, and men said age 66.

The top four answers to the question about becoming old netted conflicting

mile markers: 1) Turns 85; 2) can’t live independently; 3) can’t drive; 4)

turns 75.

 

Here’s a smile: A U.K. study done four years ago pegs the end of youth at

35 and the beginning of old age at 58. In Portugal, it was age 29 when

youth ended. (Did you feel middle aged at 30?)

 

Fast-forward to now: Similar research shows that those over 40 think “old

age” starts at age 80. My, how things have changed. Seems that retirement

doesn’t automatically put us in the old age category, at least for those

who are decades younger than we are.

 

Perhaps it’s how we’re living now that makes a difference in perceptions

of age. Our parents might have sat back after retirement at age 65, taken

on at-home hobbies, napped in the afternoon and called it good. We’re

out there in the world traveling, being active, working out, texting

the grandkids, learning musical instruments, acting in local theater,

volunteering, joining clubs — and often still working. At this point,

36 percent of us don’t think we’ll retire at age 65 — maybe because we

can’t?

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Keep Your Cool

by Matilda Charles

 

Everyone needs to take steps to stay safe in hot weather, but seniors

especially need to be careful. Our internal “temperature gauge” doesn’t

work the way it used to, and becoming overheated can sneak up on us, with

dehydration right on its heels.

 

Here are a few ways to stay cool in summer:

* If you have air conditioning, use it. Keep an eye on the heat index

(temperature plus humidity) on the weather news. The higher the humidity,

the less we’re able to sweat and let air evaporation cool us.

 

* Go somewhere cool in the middle of the day, such as the library or a

nearby coffee shop that has air conditioning. Find out from your senior

center if there are cooling centers in your area where you can go for a

few hours.

 

* Drink plenty of water. Some of our drugs can be dehydrating; ask your

doctor if your prescriptions mean you should drink more water. Ask him how

much liquid you should drink during hot weather, especially if your intake

is limited because of water retention. Remember that drinks with caffeine

(such as tea or coffee) can be dehydrating, as well as alcoholic beverages

or sugary drinks like sodas.

 

* Dress in lightweight clothing. Wear a hat if you go outside.

 

* Put a cool, damp washcloth on pulse points, like wrist and neck. Take a

cool shower.

 

* Sign up with a senior’s phone service that will check on you, or arrange

with friends and family to stay in close contact during hot weather.

 

* Keep an eye on the symptoms of heat exhaustion: clammy skin, fainting,

nausea, muscle cramps and weakness. Call for help if you experience any of

these, because they can lead to heat stroke if not taken care of.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Cutting Disability Risk Is No Sweat

by Matilda Charles

 

The British Medical Journal has reported some findings that will cheer

quite a number of seniors: We don’t necessarily have to do strenuous

workouts to lower our risk of becoming disabled.

 

During the two-year study, 1,680 participants ages 49 to 83 in Maryland,

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island wore accelerometers to measure the

intensity and duration of their daily living activities. Key activities

included cooking, grocery shopping, making phone calls, walking across the

room, bathing and getting dressed.

 

All of the participants were free of disability but were either at risk

for knee osteoarthritis or already had it.

 

The outcome showed that the more time spent in light-intensity activities,

the lower the association with disability, as well as reduced progression

of existing disability. It appears that the crucial factor is the amount

of time spent in activities, not the intensity of an activity. So spending

more time during the day simply moving your body may reduce disability.

Granted, previous research indicated that 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate

to vigorous activity can reduce disability, but some of us just aren’t

able to handle moderate exercise, much less vigorous.

 

So, just how long do we need to engage in light activities to give us the

edge in lowering our disability risk? That depends on how far you want

to reduce your risk. Spending four hours a day will reduce your risk 43

percent. The more minutes, the greater the reduction in risk.

 

But even light housework each day or getting up during TV commercials can

cut your risk of becoming disabled by osteoarthritis. All you have to do

is move!

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Break Out the Steak

by Matilda Charles

 

For years we’ve been told to focus on plant-based proteins (beans, for

example) rather than meats and cheeses from animal-based proteins.

Now all that may change — depending on our age. Two studies, released

within a week of each other, concur: In middle age, a high-protein diet

makes us four times more likely to die of cancer, especially animal

proteins like cheese, meat and milk, which increases overall deaths. Yet

after age 65, an increase in protein is healthy.

 

One study, reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,

suggests that as we age, we don’t absorb protein like we used to. This

lack of protein can lead to a decline in cognitive abilities, as well as

how we function in activities of daily living. Researchers studied the

diets of over 1,000 seniors with an average age of 67, looking at their

intake of plant versus animal protein, and queried them again seven years

later.

 

Men with the highest animal protein had a 39 percent lower chance of

functional decline. Scientists didn’t see similar results in those who

had a majority of plant-based protein in their diets.

 

The other study, in the journal Cell Metabolism, took a closer look at

the physics of why protein goes from being bad for us to being good. The

growth hormone IGF-I drops off after age 65, and we can become frail with

muscle loss without an increase in protein to offset what we’re not

processing.

 

Your best bet: Go to your doctor and ask for a referral to a

nutritionist. In the week before you go to your appointment, write down

everything you eat to give the nutritionist a baseline of your current

food choices. Ask whether, given the two studies, you should make any

adjustments in your diet.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Risks of Leaving a Nursing Home

by Matilda Charles

 

Leaving a nursing home to go into home/community care has to be a great

feeling. But a study done at the University of Minnesota shows that

medically, it might not be the wisest move.

 

Researchers looked at whether there were any differences in the rate of

re-hospitalizations between Medicaid nursing home and Medicaid home/

community care.

 

Yes, there were, and the numbers are dramatic.

The study compared patients over age 65 who stayed in a nursing home at

least 90 days before going into home/community care with those who had a

nursing-home stay of at least 90 days and then stayed in the nursing home.

Leaving a nursing home increased the possibility of having a preventable

re-hospitalization by 40 percent.

 

The Money Follows the Person program seems to be at the root of this. The

MFP helps states with the costs of long-term care support with an emphasis

on reducing the use of nursing homes and other medical institutions. The

Affordable Care Act of 2010 has funded it through 2016 to the tune of $450

million for each year.

 

While it’s all well and good that the goal of some states is to use

diversion programs to move patients out of nursing homes, it’s not

necessarily good for the patient … or the financial bottom line if the

patient ends up in the hospital.

 

Consider the differences: Nursing homes and hospitals have medical care 24

hours a day as they work with doctors and perform required assessments.

Home/community workers have less medical background (if any), no doctors

are necessarily involved and no assessments are required.

The study offered this conclusion: If patients are to be sent out to home/

community, they need long-term care, medical providers and a care plan at

the time they go.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Brain Training Really Does Work

by Matilda Charles

 

Research on seniors who underwent brain training shows that the effects

were still there 10 years later. The 3,000 seniors, with an average age

of 74, only had to participate in a dozen or so training sessions lasting

about an hour each to get years of gain.

 

The study, done by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was called the

Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly study,

or ACTIVE. Participants were divided into four groups: three receiving

training in memory (word lists), processing speed (identifying objects) or

reasoning (looking for number patterns), plus a group who didn’t get any

training. They were tested at intervals of one, two, three, five and 10

years. More than half got additional training to increase the effects.

The results: Memory gains seemed to drop off after five years, but

processing speed and gains in reasoning ability still were evident 10

years later. Compared to those who didn’t get the training, participants

were more able to handle daily activities such as cooking, money and

medications.

 

More than 73 percent of those who’d had reasoning training still scored

above their pre-training levels. In processing speed, some 70 percent

scored at or above their pre-training levels. When it came to memory,

however, the trained group and the control group scored equally.

 

To see the processing-speed training in action, go online to

www.positscience.com and sample a few of the questions. You’ll be asked

to enter your name and a password, but instead look for the tiny “maybe

later” button and click that to continue without signing up. (The cost is

$8 a month if paid annually.) And on the front screen, scroll down the

right side and click on Landmark Study Shows Benefits of BrainHQ Training

Last 10 Years to learn more about the research.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Scammers Emboldened; Seniors Are Target

by Matilda Charles

 

The U.S. Senate has a Special Committee on Aging, as well as an Aging

Fraud Hotline. While it handles any type of complaint about fraud against

a senior, it’s been especially busy lately because of Obamacare, also

known as Affordable Care Act. The scammers are out there, and they’re

targeting seniors.

 

The committee’s new press release lists some tricks scammers might use to

cheat you:

* If you have Medicare, you don’t need to buy Obamacare, period. If

someone tries to sell you a policy knowing you receive Medicare, it’s

illegal.

 

* The scammers will try to get you to disclose personal information, such

as your Medicare or Social Security number, or your bank account number.

With even some of that information, your identity can be compromised and

your savings stolen.

 

* Scammers can show up at your door, or might phone you or send you email.

They might pretend to just verify information, hoping you’ll correct them

with the right information.

 

* Hang up on anyone who calls and says they’re from Social Security or

Medicare. They will never call you, unless you’ve made arrangements with

them in advance.

 

* Medicare open enrollment ended on Dec. 7, but scammers likely will say

that “something” went wrong with your enrollment information, and they

need to get it again from you.

 

The Aging Fraud Hotline can help with any number of issues related to

fraud against seniors: identity theft, Medicare, retirement savings, phone

scams, Social Security and more. If you need to file a complaint, call it

toll-free at 1-855-303-9470. There’s also a mail form on its website at

www.aging.senate.gov. Click on the Contact link and fill in the blanks.

To contact Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE.

 

To report identity theft, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-

4338 or go online to www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Winter Workouts at Home

by Matilda Charles

 

I recently purchased a small, inexpensive manual treadmill. Unlike the

electric ones, this one doesn’t need to be within cord distance of a wall

plug, and it’s not so heavy that I can’t move it. It goes at the speed I

set with my own legs. And it didn’t cost the many hundreds of dollars that

an electric treadmill does.

 

If you’re in good health (and your doctor approves), with only a few

pieces of equipment, you can get in mild workouts this winter without

having to go to the gym when it’s cold or wet outside.

Consider acquiring a few of these:

–Hand weights: Start small, unless you’ve already been working out at the

gym on a regular basis. A 3-pound or 5-pound weight might be all you need

to get started.

–“For seniors” workout videos: If you’re not sure about a treadmill, look

for a workout video that emphasizes walking in place.

–If you have room, think about a sit-down pedaler like a recumbent

bicycle instead of a treadmill. They even make these with only the pedal

part, which you use while sitting in a chair. Some of them can even be

used for your arms, with the peddler put on a chair in front of you.

–Squeeze balls for hand and finger strength.

–Wrist or ankle weights. (Hint: get the kind with the removable weights

so you can adjust for your own comfort.)

 

Shop first at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or local ads in your area.

Next look in the big-box stores to fill in what you can’t find elsewhere.

Search online for “seniors home-workout equipment” for ideas, but try to

buy in person locally.

 

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.

 

Send email to columnreply2@gmail.com.

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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