At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.
We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!
What age group of adults would you think is the happiest? If most people were to guess, they’d likely assume people in their 20s and 30s are the most content. Why wouldn’t they be, right? They are young and likely healthy, and they have their whole lives ahead of them, full of potential and exciting events.
If you think young adults have it all, you may be surprised to learn the results of a study conducted out of the University of California-San Diego; the research results were published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Happiness comes with maturity…
Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors. Click above to learn more about how lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors’ minds and bodies.
What is your attitude about the aging process? Do you view it as a positive rite of passage or a negative phenomenon that must simply be endured? Learn more about changing your mindset about growing older by clicking the link above.
What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.
But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.
Click above to learn more about active aging.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:
- Unplanned weight loss
- Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
- Swallowing dysfunction
- Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)
Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.
When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?
- Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
- Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
- Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
- Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.
The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why? Dr. Hanson refers to “Paper Tiger Paranoia,” which looks at the special power of fear:
“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes: (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one. The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death. Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once,” Hanson explains.
So, we are genetically programmed for fear and anxiety. And anyone who has ever experienced the “hamster wheel of the mind” in the middle of the night can surely relate to that.
But we can, through a variety of ways, begin to hardwire our brains in a different way, in essence, change our brains for the better. The key, according to Dr. Hanson, is to become mindful of the thoughts you are thinking, step back and observe what you are thinking, then work with it to pull the negative thoughts from your own head like you would pull weeds from a garden, and then actively cultivate positive experiences and thoughts. Dr. Hanson calls it “Self-Directed Neuroplasticity,” which is cultivating good, positive thoughts in your head, including living and dwelling with good memories and thoughts, not bad ones.
The negativity bias, while good for survival in harsh conditions, is lousy for a good quality of life, fulfilling relationships, and long-term health. So, take a cue from Dr. Hanson, and regularly take in the good. Many people are a much better friend to others than they are to themselves. He recommends taking notice of the good, and try not to focus on the negatives that inevitably arise in everyone’s life. Your life-long happiness with be enhanced as a result.
Source: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D
Inflammation works behind the scenes as the underlying cause of many health issues, including brain health. But eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — can help you fight inflammation and its many negative side effects.
Click above to learn more.
“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”
As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!
Tip # 9 of 50 – Brain Fitness: Safety and Reciprocity
The Wesley Communities have established a “Brain Fitness” club that consists of members from our three campuses, and the residents attend regular meetings to get updates on state-of-the-art research regarding brain health. It’s good to learn about how to keep our brains “fit,” and how to slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The Brain Fitness club was established in response to rather current research that shows that you can create new and stronger neural pathways in your brain through exercise, proper diet, and a variety of other factors, including a strong social network and learning new things.
Social support is not merely the same thing as being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, and feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. Numerous studies of disaster response have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.
Wesley Glen, Wesley Ridge, and Wesley Woods at New Albany offer “brain fit” opportunities, including good dietary options, exercise and fitness classes, and a variety of activities to stimulate brain activity, learning, and just plain fun.
One of the most popular activities at Wesley Ridge is Chair Volleyball. Ken, a resident at Wesley Ridge, says: “[Chair Volleyball] is the most fun we’ve ever had! … But most of all, we’ve found it a great way to learn a lot of names of the residents in a very short time and we’ve made a lot of friends. We really enjoy being with the people on the volleyball team!
Perhaps the strongest attribute of The Wesley Communities is the element of social support. Many residents at our communities will testify to the fact that it’s never too late to make good friends, and as a result, create the reciprocity that is vital to good mental health.
We call it ‘The Wesley Way’.
Sources: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
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