Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Going around the table asking family members what they’re thankful for may be a tradition in your household, and there are a number of reasons why doing so feels so good. Giving thanks, it turns out, has some major health benefits. Research has linked gratitude with an increase in self-esteem, resiliency and overall life satisfaction. It can also help you build new friendships and strengthen the relationships you already have. Researchers are investigating how positive emotions can lower disease and mortality in older adults. Even among people with serious illnesses like heart disease, those who practice gratitude tend to be less depressed than those who don’t.
Science has discovered that people who practice gratitude experience the following:
- Grateful people are 25% happier than those who do not practice gratitude.
- Being grateful and happy can add as much as 9 years to your life!
- When practicing gratitude, you will experience higher levels of positive emotions such as love, happiness, and optimism.
- By writing down thoughts of gratitude each day, you will have fewer illnesses because gratitude strengthens the immune system.
- Expressing gratitude will restore the natural rhythm of your heart.
- When we are grateful, we “bounce back” from stressful situations faster.
You can make gratitude part of your life by being thankful to those who help you, and by being mindful and appreciative of what’s important to you. Although it may feel strange to “practice” gratitude, over time it becomes a natural part of life. Don’t worry if gratitude doesn’t come naturally. In the same way you work out to build stronger muscles, you can also strengthen your gratitude muscle by
- keeping a gratitude journal or meditating briefly on what you’re grateful for
- concentrating on the good in your life
- reaching out to thank friends and family for being there, or for gifts or favors received
- starting a family gratitude ritual: have everyone list something they’re thankful for that day
- thanking strangers who have done something nice
Many Blessings from all of us here at Age Safe® America!
Falls Prevention Awareness Day!
The annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. We have heard the statistics over and over. One in 3 Americans over the age of 65 will fall this year. One in 2 Americans over the age of 80 will fall this year. Falls account for 40% of nursing home admissions. It doesn’t have to be this way! As our population ages and the demographic studies tell us that the longevity for the current generations is greater than any other time in history, then this is the opportunity to change the statistics. Ten years from now, the fall rate among Americans can be significantly different. But in order to do so, we must take the action.
The social activism of the 60’s needs to translate into personal activism to maximize the independence and control we can exert in our lives. This generation took the action 50 years ago to affect military policy, civil rights and the creation of Older Americans Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are too many stories of people moving into assisted living communities or long-term care, not by choice but by necessity. We all know an individual, family member, friend, member of our social circle or faith community who has not had the chance to remain independent.
You must be the change you want to see in the world….Gandhi
Be the change—-get a professional home safety evaluation. A trained specialist can identify the opportunities and changes that we don’t see for ourselves. They may suggest to add the grab bars and motion lights, clear the pathways and make sure our entrances are safe and easy to navigate. (The extra benefit of a safe entrance is a safe exit during an emergency or natural disaster!) You can make an appointment get your eyes checked, mark your calendar and get it done! On the next visit, take your list of questions and review your meds with the doctor. Exercise can be as simple as a short walk or stretch or taking a class in person, by video or on TV.
We cannot look back and wish we had our home evaluated or our eyes checked.
Our future selves are relying on our taking the steps today to change the trajectory of our lives and change those awful, realistic statistics. Take a step today to Age Safe® and Live Well!
Change the Statistics, Make a Difference.
Plan for independence!
We all want to live safe, independent and comfortable, regardless of our age or ability. Unfortunately, many homes were not designed to give you freedom as you age. Whether you are living by yourself or with a family member, you can design your own additions or home modifications that will help you continue living independently. Trained advisors and qualified contractors are available to help you plan and create the safety, comfort and flexibility in the home that you want and need. Age Safe® Live Well.
Join NCOA for Falls Prevention Awareness Day 2019 events! #FPAD2019
Go4Life® is an exercise and physical activity campaign designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. Every September marks Go4Life Month and this year’s theme is Get Motivated! Get Moving! Go4Life! The overall goal of Go4Life Month is to promote the importance of regular physical activity as a key component of healthy aging. As a national partner, Age Safe® America helps the National Institute on Aging at NIH to promote the “Go4Life” exercise campaign and spread the word about the many benefits of exercise.
Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, in most cases you have more to lose by not being active. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they’re doing enough. The goal, however, is to be creative and choose all four types of exercise – ENDURANCE. STRENGTH. BALANCE. FLEXIBILITY.
Happy Go4Life Month – Get Motivated! Get Moving! Go4Life!
This month is a great opportunity to encourage older adults to be active. If you haven’t made plans yet, there’s still time.
Use the suggested activities and Go4Life materials below to help older adults get motivated and moving during Go4Life Month this September.
Lots of Free Resources to spread the word!
– Check out the free online Go4Life Month Toolkit, with ideas for events and activities, social media messages, and more!
– Help us share and promote NIA’s NEW! Exercise Safety Videos for Adults 50+ during Go4Life Month. Through these videos, viewers will learn about selecting the right fitness shoes and clothes, staying safe while doing the 4 types of exercise, exercising safely in both hot and cold weather, exercising safely outdoors, and biking safely.
– Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging. Try these Go4Life workout videos to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/workout-videos/
– And take a look at two new resources developed in collaboration with our partners: Walking Club Toolkit and Partner with Libraries Toolkit
Each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the arm, hand, ankle, or hip. But don’t let a fear of falling keep you from exercising and being physically active. Overcoming this fear can help you stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls. The good news is that there are simple ways you can prevent most falls.
One of the most important ways to prevent falls is to stay physically active. Regular exercise makes you stronger. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis. Lower-body strength exercises and balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling.
Balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling. You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to for support.
Age Safe® America was honored to provide input into the development of the Walking Clubs Toolkit. The Go4Life Walking Clubs Toolkit provides tips for those interested in starting and sustaining a walking club for older adults. The recommendations presented here were obtained from a variety of trusted sources at the National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Surgeon General, national and local Go4Life partners with expertise in developing and conducting walking clubs. A list of these resources may be found under the “Helpful Resources” https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/walking-clubs/helpful-resources section of this toolkit.
Happy Go4Life Month – Get Motivated! Get Moving! Go4Life!
On National Senior Citizens Day we celebrate the people who are part of the fastest-growing demographic in the world. According to the traditional definition, a senior citizen is anyone older than 60 years of age, but this seems relatively young in today’s society! This day was declared to celebrate, honor, and give thanks to all the contributions that generations of individuals have given to their families and communities. Whether it is showing gratitude for a loved one, friend, elder you care for, or close member of your community, take time on August 21st to reach out and show your appreciation.
On August 19th, 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizens Day. Here is what he had to say: “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” – President Ronald Reagan
Some great ways to do this could be:
- Taking your loved one out to the movies – everyone can appreciate a nice matinee!
- Creating a video of different family members discussing their favorite memories with the individual.
- Want to get your kids involved? Many local assisted living and nursing homes offer “adopt-a-grandparent” programs, linking up young children with seniors. This is a great way to not only get your kids involved with the community, but also inform them about the significance of Senior Citizens Day.
- Creating a personalized picnic with all their favorite foods.
- Treating your loved one to a nice meal out.
- Offering a helping hand with any small things they need done around the house.
- Something as simple as making a phone call to show how much you love and support them.
- Don’t have someone specifically in mind to celebrate? Volunteer at local assisted living homes or veterans homes.
If you are a senior citizen yourself, well, Senior Citizens Day is all about you. Live a little! Spend time with your favorite people. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Knock something off your bucket list. Or just relax with friends and family. Do whatever floats your boat, because the day is dedicated to you! You’ve earned it!
Happy Senior Citizens Day!
As it turns out, turmeric (more specifically its active compound, curcumin) is more than just a delicious seasoning for your favorite Indian takeout dish. This fragrant yellow spice, a close relative of ginger, is also renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant effect, weight management support, and pain relief. Wondering if supplementing with turmeric can help improve your pain in a natural way? Turmeric (curcumin) shows a surprising number of health benefits:
One of the most compelling benefits of using turmeric is its pain relief properties. One study conducted by the Cytokine Research Laboratory found that the curcumin in turmeric was a more effective anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen, and has pain-relief properties on par with phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone. This is fantastic news for people with chronic pain who are concerned about the negative side effects (like liver damage and ulcers) that can arise with long-term or heavy use of NSAIDs.
Curcumin is also renowned for its antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in how quickly your body heals! The cells in your body create “free radicals” as part of their normal metabolic cycle. And when inflammation is present in the body, free radical production goes up. Without antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals), these harmful free radicals have the potential to further damage the cells and organs in the body. Adding antioxidants like curcumin to your diet while you recover from an injury can help your body heal.
Using Turmeric for Inflammation
While there isn’t a standardized dose of turmeric, many studies have concluded that, even at high doses, turmeric is safe for consumption. The most common mild side effect that you may notice is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be avoided if you add turmeric to your diet slowly (instead of a high dose all at once!) In general, it’s a good idea to take the most natural (organic and minimally processed) form of turmeric/curcumin that you can find, to help your body most easily absorb it.
The most common ways to use turmeric/curcumin include the following:
You can make turmeric paste by mixing ¼ cup turmeric powder with ½ cup water, then heating on low until a thick paste is formed. This mixture can be kept in your fridge for several weeks. This paste can be eaten in turmeric milk (recipe below) or applied topically by mixing with coconut oil or olive oil spreading across the affected area. Massage this paste into the skin, wrap with plastic wrap, and leave on for an hour.
Add a piece of raw turmeric root (½ inch to 1 inch) or a teaspoon of turmeric paste to a cup of milk in a saucepan. Heat slowly to simmer, but do not boil. Any kind of milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk) will work! For turmeric tea, repeat this same process with water. If you like, add a little bit of butter and maple syrup!
Curcumin can also be taken in concentrated form through capsules. Make sure you consult with a doctor on the right dosage for you before you begin taking curcumin capsules, since this method of taking turmeric is the most potent, and your doctor will have helpful insight into your unique health history.
Curcumin can also be taken as a food-grade essential oil, either topically or by mouth. If you don’t like the taste of turmeric milk, this can be a good way to take turmeric in a concentrated form! Keep in mind that, like other anti-inflammatories, turmeric is a blood thinner and should not be taken during pregnancy or before surgeries and medical procedures. Turmeric can also change how some medications interact with your body (like anti-depressants). When in doubt, ALWAYS talk to your doctor! Keep in mind that while turmeric shows a lot of potential for lowering inflammation and pain, it won’t treat the underlying cause of your pain.
No matter how old or out of shape you think you are, it is never too late to add more physical activity to your life. Exercise is important for everyone, especially for people with disabilities. Regular and consistent exercise can:
- Help you control your weight. Along with healthy diet, exercise plays an important role in preventing obesity.
- Reduce your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens the heart, improves circulation and can lower blood pressure.
- Improve your mental health and mood. During exercise, the body releases chemicals that can help you handle stress and reduce the risk of depression.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities can help increase and maintain muscle mass while slowing the loss of bone density that naturally comes with age.
- Reduce your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine and lung cancer.
Experts say these benefits apply regardless of ability or skill level and staying active can be even more critical for people with disabilities. Adaptive sports — activities modified for people with disabilities — provide improved physical and mental well-being, as well as increased independence, purpose and social interaction.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Recent studies indicate that disabled veterans who participate in adaptive sports report benefits such as: Less stress, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, fewer secondary medical conditions, higher achievement in education and employment, and more independence.”
Paralyzed Veterans of America, a service organization that advocates for veterans who have experienced a spinal cord injury or disease such as MS or ALS, says adaptive sports are often game changers for their members, helping them through rehabilitation and improving their quality of life.
PVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs co-present the largest annual multi-sport wheelchair event in the world, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Wheelchair Games and more than 600 athletes will compete in 19 sporting events over six days in Louisville, Kentucky.
All participating athletes are U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries, MS, ALS, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. Kenneth Lee, M.D., director of the Milwaukee VA Spinal Cord Injury Center and a combat-injured Army veteran, is the medical director of the Wheelchair Games. Lee says adaptive bike riding was key to his own difficult recovery after being injured in Iraq in 2004. It took him years to overcome the effects of an open head wound and shrapnel injuries to his legs.
Lee explains that sports tap into the natural competitive spirit and speed healing, physically and mentally. “Participating in adaptive sports gives patients a feeling of inclusion. They compete in new ways and you can see their confidence come to life,” he says. “When athletes go to the Wheelchair Games, they go home different, feeling like they can work through other barriers in their everyday lives,” he adds.
Adaptive sports do not alter the sports that able-bodied athletes play but simply allow modifications to fit the needs of the athletes with disabilities. This ensures adapted athletes are playing and competing on par with able-bodied athletes.
Army veteran Jennifer Steele says, “Sports really made me feel alive again!” Steele, 38, served as a sergeant on a patriot missile crew for five months at the beginning of the Iraq War. During her service, she started having difficulty running and was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and given a medical discharge. It took years for her to work through the anger and depression that followed.
She still chokes up when she recalls the first time she played wheelchair softball. “It was like getting a part of myself back that I thought I had lost forever,” Steele says. This year, Steele is preparing to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games for the third time.
Paralyzed Veterans of America has year-round adaptive sporting events across the country for individuals with disabilities, including people with amputation, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and neurological disorders such as MS or ALS. Learn more at pva.org/sports.
The power of physical exercise can help us all overcome hardships and challenges to improve our lives. A few small changes to your daily habits to make exercise a part of your regular routine can bring all of these benefits into your life as well.