Staying Active in Body and Mind: How Seniors Can Maintain a Healthy, Happy Lifestyle

It’s easy for seniors to fall into a sluggish mindset once the pace of life changes and the demands of work and a busy family life slack off. Once that’s behind you, it can be difficult to stay active enough to stave off many of the mental and physical ills that often plague older adults. Depression, which affects more than 6 million seniors according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, may set in as day-to-day connections gradually slip away and interactions become less frequent. Finding ways to remain active in body and mind is essential if you’re to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Here are a few simple tips to bear in mind.

 

Keep Moving

You don’t have to be a track star or start pumping iron at the gym to stay active. Staying physically engaged can be as easy as walking a couple of laps around the running track at the park every day, enjoying a little tennis with friends, joining a water aerobics class, or learning yoga. Ultimately, it comes down to whatever you enjoy most (bear in mind that exercising with friends may make it easier to stay motivated).

 

Finding Your Musical Voice

Music has many mental health benefits. It’s especially good for keeping your cognitive faculties sharp and boosting memory. It can even help Alzheimer’s patients in a number of ways. A University of Miami study revealed that music therapy increased levels of serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in Alzheimer’s patients, an important finding because these brain chemicals are involved with positive feelings, which help alleviate stress and elevate mood. Learning to play an instrument helps seniors mentally and physically. It reduces stress, improves hearing and memory, and even gives you a more socially active outlook. And you can even learn to play an instrument online in the privacy of your own home. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn the saxophone, check out some online lessons and spend some time researching the right saxophone for you — there are many kinds, from soprano to baritone or bass saxophones.

 

Fighting Allergies

Allergies can be a persistent problem, regardless of age. Many people spend years looking for the ideal solution. Believe it or not, the right diet can have a markedly positive effect on allergy sufferers. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, and fish) has been linked to fewer allergies, and probiotics — like yogurt, which has anti-inflammatory qualities —  can also help keep the effects of allergies under control. More olive oil, less margarine, and cutting out alcohol are also good approaches for senior allergy sufferers.

 

Continue Your Education

So you’ve retired or are nearing retirement. There’s no rule that says you can’t continue your education, whatever that means to you. There are plenty of options for people who want to finish a degree or just take a few classes for fun. Why not look into some classes at your local community college or check out opportunities to take college-level classes online? There are also many educational institutions offering full degree programs online or classes just for fun. Learn to speak French or renew your interest in history; it’s a great way to keep your brain active.

Staying active is vital for seniors looking to improve their quality of life. Activity and engagement drive motivation and give you energy. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to stay active — just the way that makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more.

 

Written by guest blogger Jason Lewis

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Five Spring Cleaning Tasks to Prevent Allergies

It’s that time of year again: allergy season. Even if you’ve let weekly cleaning slide, spring cleaning is a great opportunity to regroup and significantly reduce allergens in your home on behalf of your family. Household allergens can be a problem for those with allergies but can also trigger allergic symptoms in people without allergies. Dust mites are only one issue – many harmful toxins and bacteria are carried by the dust on your floor, carpet, upholstery and bedding. Dust mite excretion, pollen, and pet dander are three common forms of allergens also found within dust. There are several measures you can take to reduce the impact of these allergens on your family – nip allergens in the bud with these five spring cleaning tasks.

  1. Dust your blinds

Cleaning blinds is a chore that is oft forgotten or neglected but is important. When left neglected, they can get layered with dust, pet fur, skin cells, and dander. While it has been recommended to get rid of drapes and blinds altogether, as they trap both dust and allergens, where you can switch to roll shades, there are measures you can take to mitigate the dust issue with blinds. Clean blinds each month with a microfiber cloth or a microfiber blind cleaner. You can also  use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment. Remember that with all items in your house to dust weekly and vacuum regularly.

  1. Flip and air out your mattress

Flipping and airing out your mattress is so important as no matter how you clean your sheets and vacuum your mattress, your mattress will eventually accumulate thousands of dust mites and other microbes that cause allergy problems. Many mattresses, especially memory foam, trap heat which make it the perfect warm, damp breeding environment for bacteria. So what can you do? Picking out a mattress that is less conducive to dust mites is key. Vacuuming your mattress regularly is key as well. Since dust mites thrive in warm, damp places, flipping your mattress and airing out your mattress regularly helps significantly. If you have had your mattress for over 10 years, it’s likely soiled with all types of allergens. It might be best to get a new mattress all together.

  1. Get special bedding

Spring cleaning is a time when you can and should consider special investments and upgrades that promote an allergen free household. You might want to consider special bedding for your mattress. Consider dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows to keep dust mites out. It may seem like a splurge, but mattress covers and bed sheets when uncleaned can be covered with human and pet hair, dander, pollen, and dust mites.

  1. Get an air purifier

Another great investment to make during spring cleaning is purchasing an air purifier. A HEPA air purifier is said to eliminate 99% of allergens in your home. Make sure you clean them every three to six months and clean the filter outside of your home rather than inside. It helps the purifier continue to do its job if you keep doors and windows closed tight during pollen season.

 

  1. Wipe off your pets

Spring cleaning is all about beginning new positive habits, one of which is wiping off your pets. In particular, wiping off a pet’s paws when they come inside the house from the backyard is a must. Allergens like pollen love to cling to paws and fur. Consider a packet a pet wipes to keep handy next to each door to the house, especially before they get on your bed. For that matter, it is suggested that you keep pets out of the bedroom. That can be really tough if you already have norms and a routine set where your dogs sleep with you, but keeping them off the bed protects you from dander. Also, if you have pet allergies, it is essential you do not let dogs sleep with you.

 

Remember that spring cleaning just like spring itself, is a time for new beginnings, especially when it comes to cleaning routines and practices. Get this spring started off right by putting into place new cleaning habits that lead to a healthier household.

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

What People With Allergies Should Look For in a Mattress

Allergies are no laughing matter. In fact, they can make your life miserable and lead to all manner of nasty side-effects. Many people are happy to find refuge from allergens in their own home where they can control the environment and everything that enters and leaves. But what happens when it turns out that something in your home is perhaps inherently allergen-prone? Let’s look at what you can do to keep your mattress as allergen-free as possible!

 

Best Builds and Materials

Picking a mattress made with the right materials is very important for allergy sufferers. Dust mites are an incredibly common cause of allergies in your bedroom, so you’ll want to opt for a mattress that doesn’t promote their proliferation. Mattresses with a coil spring core, for example, can create a veritable dust mite haven. Those with a foam core are less prone to these issues. You might also consider opting for a latex mattress as it’s naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. Organic options might also be good for allergy-sufferers.

 

Understand the Cause of Your Allergies

In addition to the dust mites mentioned above, there are a few things that could be responsible for your allergies. Mold and mildew are notorious for triggering allergies, and they can begin to form without your knowledge. This is most common in areas that see heat and some form of moisture – and, unfortunately, body sweat and saliva fit the bill. That means that you need to take special care of your mattress and your pillows to ensure you aren’t accidentally promoting an unhealthy environment.

 

Tips to Keep Your Bedroom Allergen-Free

You might not be able to complete wipe allergens out of your room, of course, but there are certainly tips to keep them to a bare minimum. Pillow and mattress protectors can help quite a bit. You’ll want to look for barrier bedding that is designed to keep moisture out of your bed and pillows themselves. It’s much easier to wash bedding than an entire mattress, after all. You also need to wash your bedding frequently and at a high temperature at least every week. Keep your rugs, carpets, and curtains clean, too, to help eliminate dust mites or other critters that might be living in them from growing to a problematic number.

 

Finally, airing out your mattress regularly is a good way to help keep it fresh and low on allergens.

 

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

Five Tips to Make Traveling with a Food Allergy Easier

As the holiday season quickly approaches, you might be thinking about making some travel plans. Maybe you’re thinking about traveling to a place that’s familiar, or want to catch some sight-seeing at a place far away.  Either way, it’s not always easy to travel and manage your food allergy, while enjoying local cuisine, but these 5 tips can make it a little easier for you.

  1. Carry a food allergy card in multiple languages

If you’re traveling somewhere where people may not share the same language as you it can be beneficial to carry a card that lists your food allergies in the language or languages spoken at your destination. Make sure that your cards clearly list which foods you can’t eat, rather than just stating what you’re allergic to.

  1. Order with extreme caution

According to Dr. Alyson Pidich, the medical director of the Ash Center, in New York City, and a food allergy specialist, you shouldn’t assume that what you’re eating is safe. Just because your trigger food isn’t listed on an ingredient list, doesn’t mean you should just assume that its fine. Certain foods and drinks, in particular, including sauces, salad dressings, soups and cocktails hide common allergens such as wheat, nuts, dairy and shellfish. It’s always better to be extra cautious.

  1. Bring your own food stash

It’s a smart idea to pack plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can. There’s nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Good options to pack are nonperishable foods like protein shakes, jerky, dried fruits, or nuts (if you aren’t allergic to nuts).

  1. Consider booking a hotel room or a Airbnb with a kitchen

Having access to a kitchen means you can prepare some meals for yourself. This also cuts down on the stress of not being able to find allergy-safe food to eat.

  1. Don’t forget your allergy medicine

Even if your food allergy isn’t severe, you shouldn’t leave home without your allergy medicine. Don’t assume you can buy what you need locally, depending on where you go. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. You should also make sure to familiarize yourself with your destination’s rules and regulations about prescription (and nonprescription) medication, so you’ll make it through customs with your medicine.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/travel/five-tips-to-make-traveling-with-a-food-allergy-easier.html

San Antonio Ranks 4th in U.S. For Severe Fall Allergies

San Antonio has been named as one of five most challenging places in which to live with fall allergies in 2018.

A report released Monday by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked San Antonio fourth among the 100 largest cities in the United States due to its high pollen count, rates of prescription medication use, and the number of allergy specialists located in the area.

In 2017, San Antonio ranked 16th on the list, said Angel Waldron, a consumer health advocate with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, an education, advocacy, and research nonprofit that aims to improve the quality of life for people with asthma and allergies. The organization has published the Allergy Capitals report annually since 2003.

Waldron said during the fall, the South and the Midwest regions of the U.S. dominate the Allergy Capitals list, mostly due to large amounts of ragweed and its ability to easily grow and thrive in the area.

The No. 1 allergy capital for fall 2018 is McAllen, Texas, followed by Louisville, Kentucky, and Jackson, Mississippi. Coming in fifth behind San Antonio is Dayton, Ohio.

Local allergist Dr. Joe Diaz told the Rivard Report on Tuesday it is no surprise that San Antonio made a Top 5 list for places with high rates of allergies. “In San Antonio, patients suffer from allergies year-round because of the climate we have, and because there is always mold in the air. It’s a big allergy capital in the U.S.”

While ragweed is a main cause of fall allergy symptoms across the continental U.S., winter season is the most severe for many local allergy sufferers due to high rates of mountain cedar, Diaz said.

“Mountain cedar, which is really a local and Hill Country tree, pollinates extensively in the middle of the winter. Historically, the pollen counts peak around Christmas Day. There is no other pollen in the air at the time, and the northerly winds blowing in from the Hill Country help cause havoc in San Antonio.”

The best way to treat an allergy, Diaz said, is to avoid exposure by staying indoors during the early morning hours when plants pollinate the most and eliminating indoor allergens including dust mites and pet dander.

Study: San Antonio Ranks 4th in U.S. For Severe Fall Allergies

Does Everyone Need Eight Hours of Sleep?

 

Everyone wants to know—how much sleep to I really need? While everyone might not need exactly eight hours, the average adult does need seven to nine. Without that important time for the body to rest, recharge, and heal, mental and physical capacities start to suffer. The good news is there are many habits and behaviors that can be developed to increase both sleep quality and amount.

Sleep plays an important role in the learning process by helping with the acquisition and consolidation of memories. During sleep, the brain strengthens neural connections to consolidate and solidify memories. If a person enters a state of sleep deprivation, which occurs when they get six hours of sleep or less, the mind begins to wander, neurons cannot work efficiently, and the coordination of information and memories begins to slow.

Memories aren’t the only area of the brain affected by sleep loss. Without enough sleep, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, becomes over sensitive to negative thoughts and events. At the same time, activity goes down in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that applies logic and reasoning to emotions. Irritability, anger, and aggression become much more common as the number of sleep hours go down.

Other systems slow down and decrease their efficiency during sleep loss too. The immune system, in particular, takes a hit in a couple of different ways. First, the immune system goes to work healing and rejuvenating cells while you sleep. A shortened sleep period makes it hard for the body to reach a state of health and equilibrium.

Secondly, the process through which cells create energy is linked to the timing of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms control the sleep-wake cycle. If the circadian rhythms get disrupted, cell energy production is also disrupted resulting in fatigue. Less cell energy comes back to further disrupt the circadian rhythms, creating a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and fatigue that continue to feed one another.

To boost memory and learning, stabilize emotions, and increase energy levels, sleep has to be a priority.

 

Better Sleep Through Better Habits

Allergies can cause some issues that make getting a good night’s rest more challenging, but with consistent effort, better, more efficient sleep may only be a few good habits away. Allergens in the bedroom like dust, pet dander, and pollen present the biggest problems. Swollen airways and excess mucus can cause sleep apnea and other breathing-related sleep disorders.

Remove as many allergens from the bedroom as possible by:

  • Keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Regularly vacuuming mattresses
  • Using plastic casings for pillows and mattress
  • Washing sheets every week in water over 130 degrees and drying them in the dryer (not outside)
  • Buying allergy-free pillows

Healthy sleep habits can also improve sleep efficiency (the amount of time spent in bed versus actual time slept) and overall sleep hours. A few ways to get ahead on sleep include:

  • Getting Comfortable: A bedroom that’s kept completely dark with the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees creates optimal sleep conditions. Comfort may also come in the form of a therapeutic pillow, weighted blanket,  or breathable natural fiber sheets.
  • Be Consistent: A regular wake up time and bedtime help the body adjust the release of sleep hormones.
  • Avoid Stimulants and Electronics: Stimulants, like caffeine, block sleep hormones while electronics give off a blue light that suppresses them. Avoid both in the hours before bed.

While everyone might not need eight hours of sleep, everyone needs at least seven hours on a consistent basis. If it is a priority, both mind and body will function at their best.

 

Article provided by:

Tuck is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NBC News, NPR, Lifehacker, and Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.

Indiana’s Allergy Season Worse Than Usual This Year

Indiana is experiencing one of its worst allergy seasons in recent history all due to a delayed pollen release. Trees usually bloom and release pollen in stages around late February and early March. But this year the weather stayed cold long into April. According to Dr. Emma McCormack of Allergy and Asthma of Southern Indiana, “Every tree that pollinates in February was still playing catch-up in May.”

The trees and grasses pollinated until early June this year. Indiana actually had the highest pollen counts in the nation in the first week of June. Thankfully, now that it’s finally over people might start to see some relief from their allergy symptoms.

 

What are allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction of a person’s immune system to an allergen, an otherwise harmless protein that has no effect on a non-allergic person. Common sources of inhaled allergens are tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches, cats, dogs, birds, cows, horses, rabbits and rodents. The overreaction of the immune system that results from contact with one or more of these inhaled allergens may cause annoying symptoms like coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and scratchy throat. A person will often have allergies to more than one allergen.