Stories & Tips

Too Much TV can Hurt Seniors’ Memory

Too Much TV can Hurt Seniors' Memory

Remember your parents telling you that TV will rot your brain? In a sense they were right. Only it doesn’t mess with kids’ brains, it actually can hurt seniors’ memory. This is concerning because Americans still watch TV over anything else.

Too Much TV can Hurt Seniors' Memory

All About the Study Participants

 

A pair of British researchers found that too much TV makes verbal memory decline. The study showed that watching TV for more than 3.5 hours a day can contribute to cognitive decline.

The study, published in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, had 3,590 participants. They started in 2008-9 and were followed up on 6 years later.

The researchers divided the participants into 5 different groups based on their TV habits.

  • Group 1: under 2.5 hours a day
  • Group 2: 2.5-3.5 hours a day
  • Group 3: 3.5-4.5 hours a day
  • Group 4: 4.5-7 hours a day
  • Group 5: over 7 hours a day

Women, single people, and low socioeconomic status people watched the most TV.

Too Much TV can Hurt Seniors’ Memory

 

The team of researchers studied two specific types of cognition, semantic fluency, and verbal memory. Semantic fluency was tested by thinking of as many animals as possible in a minute. Verbal memory was tested by remembering as many words as possible from a spoken list.

They didn’t find any associations with TV and semantic fluency. This is a commonly used marker of cognitive capabilities. They did find that watching more than 3.5 hours of a TV a day was connected to poorer verbal memory.

Accounting for other factors like demographics, health, and behavior, everything suggests that people who watched a lot of TV had worse brains. The most susceptible to decline were people with higher baseline cognition to begin with.

3.5 hours is the amount that causes an effect, not watching TV in general.

It’s thought that this happens because of the stress between your brain and body. When you watch TV, your brain is active, while your body is not. The “alert-passive interaction” can create a kind of cognitive stress that taxes your verbal memory skills.

Though there are cognitive benefits of more active screen watching like internet use and video gaming.

Read more here.

9 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Knees

9 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Knees

Knees. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Knee pain is no joke and a very common problem. It’s only second to low back pain. If you have bad knees, not all is lost. There are exercises will help strengthen your knees.

9 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Knees

9 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Knees

 

The key to doing exercises that will help your knees is to avoid the ones that cause you pain. We know that sounds obvious, but not all exercises should cause you pain.

For example, don’t do deep squats or high impact activities. Instead, you need to do exercises that focus on strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings. This way you reduce the strain on your knees.

1. Mini or Partial Squats

This will strengthen your quadriceps.

Hold onto a chair or stable surface with knees shoulder-width apart and knees pointing forward. Next, bend your hips and knees a little as if you are sitting and then slowly stand up.

Do this 10 to 12 times.

2. Standing Hamstring Curls

Again, start by holding a chair or stable surface. Next, without moving your hips, bend your knees as far as possible. Try to get your heel up to your butt.

Do this 10 to 12 times with each leg.

3. Marching in Place

On your own, or if you need something stable to hold onto, take steps in place. Bring your knee up to a comfortable height.

Try to do 60 seconds of continuous marching.

4. Heel Raises

This will help your calf muscles.

Once again, hold onto a chair or stable surface. Then rise up on toes and lift your heels off the ground and then bring them back down.

Do 10 to 12 reps.

5. Quad Sets

You can do this exercise on the floor with or without a pillow under your knees. Sit with your legs out in front of you with your knees straight.

If you need to you can lean against a wall or on your hands.

Try contracting your quadriceps muscles and holding them as tight as you can for a few seconds. Then relax.

Do this 10 times. If you want, you can do this a few times a day if your knees ache.

6. Straight Leg Raises

Start with sitting on the floor with your legs and knees straight in front of you. Then doing this one leg at a time, pull your toes towards your knee.

If this is too hard, you can try to lie down on the floor.

Keep your other leg bent with your foot on the floor. Then squeeze your quads in the leg that is straight. After that, lift your foot about a foot off the ground and hold it for 5 seconds. Then slowly lower it back down.

Do this 10 times with each leg.

7. Wall Slides with Ball Squeeze

Stand with your back against the wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a small ball between your knees. Slowly slide down the wall with knees bent.

Your knees should form a right angle with your quads parallel to the floor.

Hold 5 to 10 seconds and slowly rise up to the starting position.

Do this 10 or more times.

8. Clams

Sadly, this has nothing to do with seafood. Instead, lie on your side with your hip and knee bent to a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be together.

While keeping your ankles together, raise your top knee up around a foot from the other. This will create a clamshell motion.

Repeat 10 to 25 times on each side.

9. Glute Bridges

On your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet on your floor, tighten your butt as you lift it up. You should try to go as high as you can without arching your back.

Your shoulders, hips, and knees should align.

Hold this position as you lift one leg up, still keeping knees aligned. Try to hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds and then lower your body.

Do 10 to 25 reps with each side.

Read more here.

How NH Will Handle Healthcare Worker Shortage

How NH Will Handle Healthcare Worker Shortage

It’s no secret, that New Hampshire’s aging population is big and only getting bigger. Seniors are going to need help, and there may not be enough help to go around. Many are wondering how the state will handle the healthcare worker shortage.

How NH Will Handle Healthcare Worker Shortage

The Financal Cost of the Shortage

 

There is a surprising amount of financial implications for this shortage. Costs like physician vacancies include salaries and fees paid to recruitment firms, lost productivity for employees doing the candidate selection, onboarding costs, like training and credentialing new physicians, and decrease in revenue.

The costs can be as high as $345,000 for the loss of one doctor.

How NH Will Handle Healthcare Worker Shortage

 

According to a December 2018 survey, community health centers have 109 clinical and nonclinical vacancies, and over 2,000 healthcare worker vacancies are scattered across the state. This includes hospitals and community mental health centers.

By 2030, around 1/3 of NH residents will be over 65.

The state is in a good position to invest in recruiting and retaining the healthcare workforce. A group of provider organizations, advocates, and policy experts have been working with Democrats and Republicans to create a bipartisan legislative proposal to secure the workforce we need.

Senate Bill 308

 

This bill combines key policy and budget initiatives to help with the healthcare worker shortage.

It addresses a crucial administrative burden, NH’s criminal background check system. While other New England states do online background checks, our state does not.

Instead, it’s normal for people to have to wait 15 days for a candidate’s application to be seen.

The bill would support the Department of Safety in implementing an online background check system.

Keeping Healthcare Workers in NH

Another problem is that the state is losing qualified workers. NH has one Family Medicine Residency Program with 8 slots. Half of its graduates move across state lines after graduating.

Investing in scholarships with service commitments, career advancement programs, and training programs would help. SB 308 wants to give NH the tools and opportunities that will encourage healthcare professionals to stay.

Encouraging People to Work in the State

The state pays the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country. Most Medicaid providers haven’t gotten a rate increase in years.

The low rates affect healthcare organizations’ ability to pay competitive wages. This leads to provider turnover and reduces timely access to healthcare services.

SB 308 suggests a modest Medicaid rate increase of 5% in the fiscal year 2020 and 7% in 2021 for all Medicaid services. This would be a needed investment in our healthcare workforce.

The State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is the number 1 tool to recruit providers in high need areas like rural NH. This is a difficult place to bring clinicians.

The availability of student loan funds is key for healthcare providers, including community health centers, to compete with providers in the greater Boston area.

Read more here.

Are Seniors Being Pressured to Get Dialysis?

Are Seniors Being Pressured to Get Dialysis?

Dialysis is often the first go to when someone has failing kidneys. Seniors, in particular, are often encouraged to do this. But, are seniors being pressured to get dialysis instead of being encouraged?

Are Seniors Being Pressured to Get Dialysis?

Are Seniors Being Pressured to Get Dialysis?

 

While dialysis can be extremely helpful, for some seniors who are frail, dialysis does nothing for them.

A report in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Susan Wong, and her team looked to see if seniors were being pressured. Wong is a core investigator at the VA Health Services Research and Development Center.

Wong looked through 851 medical records of veterans who had an average of 75. These veterans declined to have dialysis even though they have end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Wong and her team found 3 major dynamics in the patient/doctor relations.

1. Some physicians constantly go back to dialysis using different methods to get patients to change their minds. When patients stand their ground, doctors questioned their cognitive ability to make that decision for themselves.

2. Physicians decide that dialysis wasn’t a good idea without talking about this decision with the patient.

3. Patients who didn’t want dialysis were told there was little else that doctors could do. Kidney specialists will sign off from the case with a recommendation of hospice care.

In some cases, doctors will bring in family members to try to convince the patient to choose dialysis.

Why is This Happening?

 

Wong thinks that training is the reason doctors won’t accept the patient’s choice when it comes to not getting dialysis.

Without dialysis, people with ESRD could only survive a few days or weeks depending on their kidneys.

Physicians are focused on longevity being the most important thing. This doesn’t always go along with what the patient wants. Quality of life clashes against medical training, which wants to help people live as long as possible.

The study shows that doctors need to remember that their patient is a person and that doctors need to take what the patient wants into consideration.

Read more here.

6 Key Aspects of Person-Centered Care

Being a Paid Caregiver Can Change Family Dynamics

Person-centered care is the best kind of care a senior can get. It’s a way that seniors still get to be people instead of numbers. Seniors Helping Seniors NH has a person-centered approach with how we give care. If you or a loved one are receiving care and want to make sure you are getting this kind of care, you need to know the 6 key aspects of it.

6 Key Aspects of Person-Centered Care

6 Key Aspects of Person-Centered Care

 

These practices are what gives a senior dignity while they receive care, especially if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

1. Know the Person Living with Dementia

No one wants to be known as a number or diagnosis. You can’t give person-centered care if you don’t recognize the person. You should get the know person’s likes and dislikes, what they were like in the past, hobbies, and so much more.

2. Understand the Person’s New Reality

If someone has dementia, they see the world in a totally different way. This means that they will also communicate differently. By acknowledging it, you will be able to communicate with the senior in a better, smoother, way. This way they feel validated and not talked down to.

3. Take Opportunities to Engage With Senior

Realize that every experience and interaction is an opportunity to connect. It needs to be a meaningful connection to the senior to work. You can join them in their hobbies, watch their favorite show together, and more. Even if the senior has severe dementia, they can still have fun and enjoy activities.

4. Build a Relationship

While it may be your job to take care of a senior (if you are a caregiver and not a family member), you shouldn’t treat a senior like a task. They are a person and deserve respect and dignity. Focus on the interaction and not the tasks. Think “doing with” instead of “doing for.”

5. Have a Supportive Community

Having a community will make you, the senior, and their family feel more secure. It also makes it easy for you to succeed. A community will also support the senior and help fight against the loneliness that most seniors have.

6. Have a Flexible Care Practices

Constantly be aware and assessing care practices will make caring for a senior as effective as possible. People who have dementia will need flexibility in their care because things change for them all the time. It’s good to look at what you are doing and see if you can improve anything.

Read more here.

Tech Start Up Creates AI that Detects Elderly Falls

Tech Start Up Creates AI that Detects Elderly FallsTech Start Up Creates AI that Detects Elderly Falls

It’s well known that falls are a huge problem for seniors. There are 9,500 deaths related to falls every year. One out of 200 seniors suffers from a hip fracture. Cherry Labs is hoping to change that with their AI that detects elderly falls.

Tech Start Up Creates AI that Detects Elderly Falls

Tech Start Up Creates AI that Detects Elderly Falls

 

Cherry Labs is a Cupertino startup founded in 2016 by Max Goncharov, Stas Veretennikov, and Nick Davidov. They want to prevent fall injuries with an AI in home system, Cherry Home. It’s able to detect and track users with vision sensors and microphones.

Cherry Labs was able to raise 5.2 million dollars to fuel a pilot program.

Cherry Home launched in October and is testing 15 families in the Bay Area. It includes a binocular battery-powered camera with a 165-degree field of view, 1 TB of internal storage, and a lot of sensors, including an infrared sensor, a motion sensor, an accelerometer, an altimeter, and a compass.

Cherry Home says that its algorithms can tell people apart by their faces, lengths of limbs, and more. The system’s cameras can triangulate themselves in a room and create a diagram of their surroundings to keep people in view.

The info it collects is delivered to doctors and caregivers to help them see if any adjustments in treatment or hospital re-admittance may be needed. It has a dashboard where people can see stats and short videos of things like trips.

When it detects a more serious incident, like a fall, it will alert nurses and family members who want to get the notices.

Though the Cherry Home system is on the pricer side. A starter pack for 2 rooms cost $1,600. That’s not even including the subscription service which is $30 a month per sensor.

Read more here.

Daily Movement Keeps Your Brain Healthy

Chores can be kind of a drag, but they can help keep you sharp. We mentioned briefly about how household chores can keep you healthy in our article about different ways to stay healthy as you age. In this article, we are going to dive deep into a new scientific study that says daily movement keeps your brain healthy.

Daily Movement Keeps Your Brain Healthy

Daily Movement Keeps Your Brain Healthy

 

You know that it’s good to keep exercising as you age. But exercising can seem too daunting if your body isn’t working as well as it used to. That’s why this study is such a big deal. It’s saying that you don’t have exercise a lot to stay healthy, you can just move around your house.

Plus, the study proves that simply moving around will keep you sharp even during your 70s and 80s.

The Study

 

454 adults age 70 or older were part of the study. 191 of them had behavioral signs of dementia, while 263 didn’t. They were given thinking and memory tests every year for 20 years.

This study is particularly interesting because Dr. Aron S. Buchman, who led the study, was able to look at the brains of participants. This is because the participants agreed to donate their brains for research after their death.

In the last few years of research and before their death, people in the study wore an activity monitor called an accelerometer. It’s like a Fitbit. It measured physical activity all the time, the smallest movements were recorded.

Every 10 days researchers created an average daily activity score.

The Results

 

It’s been shown that higher levels of daily movement are linked to better thinking and memory skills. This was concluded by the yearly tests the participants took.

When Buchman looked at the brain tissue, he found that even brains with 3 signs of Alzheimer’s disease or more had positive results. Even though they had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, 30% of them had “normal” cognition at death.

Buchman believes that physical activity, no matter how small, can be protective even if you develop Alzheimer’s. It can mask the symptoms and allow some control over your brain health even when you don’t have control of Alzheimer’s.

“As long as you have some activity and you’re moving, whether you’re chopping onions, typing, sweeping the floor or even running, you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline.”—Dr. Buchman

There’s More to Come

 

While this study is a great start, researchers would like to learn more. This study didn’t show a clear cause and effect of how everything worked. The study also didn’t have info on how active participants were before they became part of the study.

But this study proves there is hope.

Read more here.

5 Signs of a Hoarder

5 Signs of a Hoarder

What’s the difference between amassing a collection from a full life and a hoarding problem? Obviously, if there is rotten food or pests, you know that there’s a problem. What about more subtle signs? How do you know if someone close to you is a hoarder?

5 Signs of a Hoarder

5 Signs of a Hoarder

 

Hoarding can be a symptom of any mental illness. The most common mental illness hoarding is connected to is obsessive-compulsive disorder. Someone can have a compulsive need to hoard.

If any of these signs sound familiar, you may need to have a conversation with your loved one.

1. You Aren’t Invited into Their Home

Is there someone in your life that prefers to meet you at your home or somewhere else? Do you never go to their home? This can be a sign.

Hoarders usually know that they have a problem and don’t want people to see it. They will give you a variety of excuses and reasons not to go to their house.

If you haven’t seen a loved one’s home in a while, it may be best to try to peek into it.

2. Always Going to Garage Sales and Swap Meets

Are they constantly buying new things? Do they talk about yard sales they went to all the time?

If this sounds familiar, invite them to do something with you when you think they are going to a yard sale. See if they will hang out with you instead of rummaging.

3. Putting Every Scrap of Paper in Their Purse or Pocket

Hoarders need to keep everything, we mean everything, even scraps of paper that have no value. What does your loved one do with movie ticket stubs, old cereal boxes, brochures, or any other thing you would consider trash?

4. They Never Get Rid of Anything

You do occasional spring cleaning. You get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, books you don’t like, gifts that you aren’t a fan of.

Does your loved one do this? Hoarders struggle getting rid of their possessions.

The difference between a hoarder and people who are just messy is how much they have. Things like newspapers, magazines, paper, plastic bags, and the like are a big sign.

Again, people who hoard don’t want to show off any of their items.

5. They Get Upset at the Idea of Getting Rid of Anything

Again, hoarders have a compulsion to keep things. They may believe that they will be valuable in the future or claim there is sentimental value.

They will come up with excuse after excuse to not get rid of anything.

If they get angry when you try to help them get rid of what you consider garbage, then there is a problem.

Read more here.

Can Smart Cars Keep Seniors on the Road Longer?

Can Smart Cars Keep Seniors on the Road Longer?

Having the car conversation with your senior is hard. It’s an incredible loss of independence for them. There is no right or wrong way to have this conversation. But, the development of smart cars could keep seniors on the road longer and let you push the conversation further into the future.

Can Smart Cars Keep Seniors on the Road Longer?

Can Smart Cars Keep Seniors on the Road Longer?

 

Since the Silver Tsunami is coming, a large group of drivers is going to struggle to stay on the road. The auto industry needs to prepare for these drivers. They can do this by creating features that can work with disabilities or limitations that come with getting older.

For example, someone with arthritis can be helped by power seats that can move to the steering wheel and far away enough to get in the car easily. Other features that can help are power windows and mirrors, a thicker steering wheel that’s easier to grip, keyless entry, an automatic tailgate closer, and a push button to start and stop the engine.

Having a large display that’s high contrast with letters and numbers help those that are visually impaired. An auto-dimming rearview mirror and glare-reducing side mirrors can enhance driver safety.

A backup camera is an equally wonderful and dangerous feature. It’s great for those who can’t turn their heads well or shorter people. The problem is when people depend on it too much. It can’t cover blind spots, so people still need to look around.

AAA created a useful list of smart features that will be helpful for people with certain limitations.

Read more about smart cars here.

6 Ways to Deal with Arthritis

There Isn't Enough Help for Seniors

Arthritis is a real problem. Most people think it’s a part of getting older, which is slightly true, but you don’t have to just accept it’s going to happen to you. There are ways to deal with arthritis.

6 Ways to Deal with Arthritis

6 Ways to Deal with Arthritis

 

You can handle arthritis with the right combo of exercise, medications, and lifestyle changes.

1. Medications

Medications are a key part because they relieve pain, inflammation, suppress the immune system, and minimize joint damage. It’s good to know why you are taking the medicine and how helpful it will be.

Also keep a list of what you are taking, how well they are working, and any side effects you may have.

2. Diet

A balanced diet can help make you feel better overall. If you are overweight, that can lead to more stress and pressure on your joints.

3. Exercise

This is essential to deal with arthritis. It can reduce pain, maintain joint mobility, strengthen muscles, and improve posture and balance. You should exercise daily if you can.

It can be tempting to not exercise because of pain or if you want to protect your body, but you need to move. Regular movement is key to pain management.

4. Dealing with Pain

You can handle pain using hot or cold packs, massage, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, or distracting yourself.

5. Fighting Fatigue

Take it easy as you go about your day. Split up your tasks so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Use any tools that are at your disposal that can make things go easier.

6. Holistic Methods

There are a lot of holistic methods you can use to help with arthritis. You can use vitamins, mineral supplements, and herbal medicines. Though there is no scientific evidence that they actively help. Some may interact with your medications negatively.

Read more here.