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Healthy Habits to Help Make the Most of Seniorhood

Written by
Julia Merrill

Every week that passes edges you closer to what your parents and grandparents described as the golden years. Well, that spark of silver in your hair now suggests these days are on the horizon, and it’s time to start thinking about how you can double down on staying healthy, happy, and safe in your retirement years. Fortunately, there has never been a better time to be a senior than now. Between relatively affordable healthcare, smart technology, and access to health and fitness programs, you have all the tools at your disposal to break any potentially bad habits you are holding onto so that you can age on your own terms.

High-tech assistance

As a senior in the digital age, you have access to a host of smart technology to help you stick to your health and safety goals. A few of these include GPS shoes, automatic medication dispensers, and smart home security features, such as a connected doorbell. Angie’s List discusses these and more in a recent write-up of aging-in-place technology. Another important way technology can help is by making sure you always have access to emergency services. Your smart home hub can call 911 with a voice command while monitoring sensors can alert your family if you’re activities change so they can contact you if something doesn’t seem quite right.

Medicare made easy

If you have yet to sign up, you may be surprised to find out that Original Medicare is not your only option. Medicare.gov explains that a Medicare Advantage plan (MA) may be an ideal alternative depending on your needs. Medicare Advantage is a type of private insurance that takes the place of Original Medicare. Depending on the plan you select, you may have access to a broader range of coverage, including smoking cessation programs, at a more reasonable price than employer-sponsored health care.

Having access to health insurance is important as you age since you will need to see your doctor at least once per year for routine medical screening and vaccination. Northwest Primary Care explains that annual visits to your doctor can help you identify risk factors that might affect your health. Your doctor will likely discuss smoking, nutrition, and exercise. You may also undergo specific screenings for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Diet and nutrition

Exercise is not just for teenage athletes. Everyone can benefit from physical activity. As you age, however, you may need to pay extra attention to your movements to reduce the chances of sustaining an exercise-related injury. As a general rule, adults need about 150 minutes of activity each week to stay healthy. This doesn’t have to happen all at once, and things like gardening and house cleaning count toward your time.

Similar to exercise, nutrition is key in keeping you healthy. Even if you are a young senior, it’s time to start thinking about how food can affect your body as you age. Making healthy food choices now will go a long way toward improving your health in years to come. Consider taking a cooking class or investing in delivered meals if you do not know how to balance your plate.

The point is that how you treat your body today affects your ability to remain independent tomorrow. From choosing a healthcare plan makes access to doctors and health screenings accessible to eating well and taking advantage of technology, every decision matters. Considering that life expectancy, despite having declined in recent years, remains pretty close to eight decades, even after you retire, you have many healthy years to look forward to … but you have to put in the effort.

Image via Pixabay

Julia Merrill has many years of experience in the medical field and runs the site BefriendYourDoc.org. Julia’s mission is to close the gap between medical providers and their patients, and aims to provide tips on finding the right medical care, health insurance, etc.

Conquering Stress and Managing Your Time Wisely

Connie Stoltz-McDonald/ All MFN blog/ exercise, Healthy Aging, stress management/

We all know stress takes a toll on our family, friends, work, and don’t forget the internal breakdown within your body and health, but it’s something that we can take control of and find ways to cope.

How do we decide when not to get overworked, frustrated or fly off the handle? It all comes down to defining what is a priority to you. That means identifying those are your key objectives that have to be done and looking through those to get the ones that well, maybe you have been putting off, because you literally don’t want to do them. Well, I’m here to tell you that they don’t just get done with a magic wand or disappear, you must tackle them head on. Once, you take out the tasks haunting you, relief sets in and the rush of hitting the list hard kicks in. It’s the adrenaline to focus on the end result… You’re done. And let’s not forget, that the hype of just trying to tell yourself to do it- causes the stress factors to heat up and cause the stomach discomfort, migraine or moodiness. At this point, most co-workers are now running for the cover, because they don’t want to be anywhere near you when you blow.

Here are some key points to making that list seem painless and help relieve the internal fire:

1. Requires immediate attention

  • Maybe it’s that long dreaded task that never moves — moving it from important to urgent initiates most of us to actually do it. Keep in mind that by never dealing with it, leads to additional stress.
  • Define it as it’s your internet bill and well, you’re lingering on possibly being disconnected. When you draw your mind into the end result, the task seems clearer and the why is no longer the concern. It becomes the push to completion.

2. Crucial but not death defying

  • Is there a deadline? When and is it time consuming? It may lead to critical status- break it down under crucial- if it helps you move to the next step. We all know things come up that are unforeseen and wonder where the day went. Interruptions always happen- whether you have that co-worker that can’t seem to quit talking or clients who schedule coffee time with you, but you didn’t accept the invite. Those tasks impact our day depending on intensity level – could be driven by your manager moving it to the top of the list.

3. Unimportant

  • Does it even belong on this list? Have you been putting it off because it’s not something you really intended to complete or the ambition isn’t there. Let’s not forget why it was added to the list. This category still carries weight- there’s identifying reasons to achieve it, but maybe not today or tomorrow. But as I know firsthand, it doesn’t mean it stays on the list for months or even a year. Ask yourself: “Do I need to do this now or Do I need to do this at all?” Then at that point, you move it to option 4.

4. I call it the “Back-Burner”

  • Yes this list can get extensive, but it doesn’t mean it won’t ever get done. Set categories of timelines based on urgency of these, because there is time for them — it’s how you make the time.

Have you ever thought to maybe tackle them as they come in versus struggling later to juggle your time to meet the deadline? Managing your focus around prioritizing can help alleviate procrastination which drive up the stress inductors. The slightest adjustment can aid in managing a productive day by breaking down your daily to do objectives by the following identifiers:

  • Perfectionist. We want it done right the first time. But you have to get started – most of the time we talk ourselves out of accomplishing it firsthand because it has to be perfect. One thing, I have learned over the years is as you get older, time goes faster and we don’t have time to waste time over every little detail. I remember back in high school when things seem simplistic and things were never hectic. Did we somehow loose time? Lol
  • Identify the bigger tasks. Don’t put it off because of the timeline required. Get started right after accomplishing those immediate commitments, with blocking out parts of your day so it doesn’t initiate a panic attack. It’s all about how you let life control you and how you handle what life throw at you. And let’s not forget — Is there an option to delegate?
  • Prioritize time allotments. Keeping track of your day with a planner or app will keep you in line with your appointments, tasks and upcoming objectives.
  • Identify small tasks. Do you get the feeling there is always too much to do? When you break each step down, set a reminder such as an appointment for each hour you plan to work on the project so it doesn’t control you or your day. Identify the A, B, C, and D’s to fine tune each objective and make it easier to complete them. This way it identifies time in your day for those pop up disasters that seem to torment us daily.
  • Organization. Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to organize and set up your desk for the next day. There’s nothing like coming into an office where your desk looks like a tornado tore through it. This also bring on the additional stress that you don’t need at 8 am to start your day. Set up a designated area for everything- making time more effective and your day will go more smoothly. Set up folders for your memos, so it breaks down by read now, do now, or read later.

How do we “Let go” and be less overwhelmed?

If I’ve learned anything over the years, I have to say – Learning how to say “No” moved up the list. We all have that kind hearted spirit that wants to be there for everyone and help each other with the drop of the bucket, but is it leading to stress, anxiety, frustration or other health problems. Identify the trigger of why it’s happening and if you truly are taking on too much in your life, well it may be time to just say “No”. I know most may be tuned out to you always being there, but we have to take care of ourselves first. By making yourself a priority, you will eliminate the barriers that define who you are and feeling like you’re being dragged by your feet. I have found over the years that as people change, our focus changes, our drive changes and most of all – the people we want to surround ourselves with changes because we’ve identified what is truly important in our lives… We’ve become wiser…. Which keeps us in tune with our sanity and our health. Stress can take on many health factors such as lose of sleep, moodiness, fatigue, difficulty focusing or keeping concentration, headaches, and depression.

Ways to incorporate stress reduction into our busy lives:

  • Meditation. Take 5 minutes to breathe deeply, sit up straight, close your eyes, and put your hand on your belly. Start by inhaling through your nose, feeling the breaths to take effect in your stomach all the way to your head. This will help lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Laughter. Releasing endorphins and acts as a natural pain reliever. Plus it burns calories — 10-15 minutes of laughing can burn up to 40 calories.
  • Take a brisk walk over lunch and take in some Vitamin D or add in physical activity or yoga after work.
  • Reduce sugar and caffeine. Try to eliminate coffee after lunch to ensure it doesn’t affect your sleep regimen. Finding a healthy alternative to our sweet cravings such as having celery with peanut butter or substituting honey, maple syrup or almond butter in your dessert recipes.
  • Muscle Tension. Get up and move around to stretch and get the energy flowing again. Take that 15 minute break and take the stairs to regain your focus.
  • Let’s not forget that we need 6-8 hours of sleep each day to rejuvenate our body.

In conclusion, I will leave you with a quote that Eleanor Roosevelt said “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan”. So, why not do it right the first time and set a plan, which saves you the hassle of touching the task twice and eliminating the ongoing stress to conquer it and overcome the procrastination habit. When you focus your time on results, the chaotic and busyness factor that prevents you from achieving you goals fades away. Never lose confidence in yourself that you can achieve anything you set your mind too. Stay positive and you never end up off track on your dreams. Remember a task, list, goal or deadline wasn’t set up to sit on a list to never be accomplished! You had a definitive reason to add it — now do it!

As always consult your health professional. I hope this article finds you in good health.


Connie Stoltz-McDonald is an Integrative Nutrition-Certified Health Coach, CPT, Wellness Educator, Blogger and Author. From her passion for writing, she is excited to announce her first book release titled “Healthy Lifestyle- The inside secrets to transforming your body and health. You can connect with her at:  FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Sources:

www.webmd.com
www.cdc.gov

Connie Stoltz-McDonald

MFN Industry Expert


Baby Food Guidelines

When can your baby start eating solid foods? What about meat? Pediatricians answer all your baby food Qs. This guide gives you all the information you need to know on what to feed your little one(s)!

We can all agree that gauging when to start a baby’s first solid foods can be stressful, but Fisher reminds new parents to focus on the signs of readiness as a top priority instead of focusing solely on age. In her practice, she’s seen some babies who are ready for their first taste at 4 months, while others do better with solids at 6 months of age.

You can consider it a win once your baby has successfully kept down 2 to 3 tablespoons of food. Transitioning a baby from liquids to solids can take some time, Curtiss advises. “The first few times a baby is offered solids, she may spit it out, get it all over and not really know what to do with it. I generally recommend that parents take it slow and just have fun with it.”

 

 

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1074684/baby-food-guide

If your child meets the criteria listed by Curtiss and Fisher above and has the approval of their pediatrician, you can move along to the next stage of feeding. “Usually, the first food to be introduced is a single grain cereal, such as rice, mixed with breast milk until it is the consistency of pudding and fed on the spoon,” Curtiss explains. But you can also start with a vegetable such as sweet potato or avocado. Fruits are also a popular choice for little babes developing their taste buds for the first time — and they’re easy to mash.

Remember: The most important thing before starting solids is getting your pediatrician’s approval. Both articles breakdown age groups and recommended foods.

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1074684/baby-food-guide/page:2

 

Simple ways to get started with a yoga routine & why it’s important

As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Improved Brain Function.
Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga — an ancient form of the practice that emphasizes physical postures rather than flow or sequences — can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory. In a University of Illinois study, participants performed significantly better on tests of brain functioning after yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

Lower Stress Levels.
Yoga’s stress-busting powers may come from its ability to lessen the activity of proteins that are known to play a role in inflammation, according to a study published last year from University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Increased Flexibility.
A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga — a form of yoga in which a series of 26 postures are performed for 90 minutes in a heated room — is linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as greater deadlift strength and decreased body fat, compared with a control group.

 

 

After A Few Months.

Lower Blood Pressure.
People with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from a yoga practice, as a study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that it could help to lower their blood pressure levels. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pressure compared with those who participated in a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/body-on-yoga_n_4109595.html

Zinc and Health

Zinc has been a well known requirement for nearly all living beings for hundreds of years. Especially vital for children, zinc is a requirement for normal growth and development.

Zinc is used for treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including stunted growth and acute diarrhea in children, and slow wound healing. It is also used for boosting the immune system, treating the common cold and recurrent ear infections, and preventing lower respiratory infections.

Zinc Deficiency

Deficiencies in zinc affect the skin and the intestines, as well as the majority of the skeletal, reproductive, and immune systems. For years, the most noted clinical feature of zinc deficiency is severe growth retardation. Adults who suffered zinc deficiencies were noted to have hypogonadism, macular degeneration, poor wound healing, and intellectual disability.

The most common signs and symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include:
  • Changes in appetite, including food cravings for salty or sweet foods.
  • Changes in ability to taste and smell.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Hair loss.
  • Digestive problems, including diarrhea.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Infertility.

Zinc in Diet

The human body can only get approximately 20%-40% of zinc from the food that we eat. If you have a zinc deficiency, then animal foods are better sources of zinc than plant foods. Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, toasted wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, pork, chicken, beans, and mushrooms.

How Much Do We Need to Experience These Zinc Benefits?

According to the USDA, the dietary reference intakes for zinc below are based on age and gender:

Infants:

  • 0–6 months: 2 milligrams/day
  • 7–12 months: 3 milligrams/day

Children:

  • 1–3 years: 3 milligrams/day
  • 4–8 years: 5 milligrams/day
  • 9 –13 years: 8 milligrams/day

Adolescents and adults:

  • Males age 14 and over: 11 milligrams/day
  • Females age 14 to 18 years: 9 milligrams/day
  • Females age 19 and over: 8 milligrams/day

 

Zinc is usually available in various forms, including lozenges, syrups, gels and capsules. Zinc is also found in most multivitamin and mineral supplements. These supplements can contain zinc in the form of zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate or zinc acetate. As of now, all are believed to work in very similar ways so one type is not thought to be superior over the others.

Factors that affect zinc absorption are pregnancy, skin disorders, and other diseases that affect the immune system, kidneys, liver, and heart. People who suffer from metabolic disorders and cancer should also ask their doctor for the right zinc dosage, as well as the possibility of zinc supplementation to ensure adequate zinc intake.

References:

Amazing Facts About Zinc

https://draxe.com/zinc-benefits/

[1] Human Rhinoviruses. American Society for Microbiology. http://cmr.asm.org/content/26/1/135.full.pdf+html

[2] Oral Zinc and Common Childhood Infections – An update. Journal of
Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X14000728

[3] Introducing zinc in a diarrhoeal control programme. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/9789241596473/en/

[4] Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition. Elsevier. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1344S.full.pdf

[5] Impact of the discovery of human zinc deficiency on health. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X14001710

[6] Zinc. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/zinc

[7] Zinc. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zinc/dosing/hrb-20060638

Amazing Facts About Zinc graphic © herbs-info.com/naturalhealthzone.org.
Food images – Wikipedia lic. under CC (see foot of article for full license info)

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