10 Ways to Love Your Heart

 

Watercolor picture with bright red heart on blue background

  • Snack on almonds (1 ½ ounces every day can help lower bad cholesterol)
  • Enjoy fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and your heart will be rewarded with a potent antioxidant.
  • Sweat it up!  Strenuous exercise a couple times a week is heart-healthy.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D – research shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cuddle with your significant other or your furry friend. This helps lower stress levels and blood pressure.
  • Floss your teeth – good for your gums, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Let go of anger and resentment – this reduces stress and blood pressure, and can help lower your heart rate.
  • Find a reason to have a good belly laugh.  At least one daily.  Laughing not only reduces stress and tension, it improves blood flow (reducing blood pressure). It may also boost good cholesterol levels.
  • Fill up with fiber (afraid of tootin’? Find some tips to help avoid gaseous emissions at the Everyday Health site
  • Try some yoga poses for a healthy heart.

Sources:

Narula, T., M.D. Have a Heart Healthy Day. Oprah magazine. February 2014.

Westen, R. Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy. AARP magazine. October/November 2015.

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

3 Top Websites for Mental Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 55 – 5/8/15 

Young Woman in Despair sitting against wall in monochrome

Mental Health America

America’s largest and oldest community-based network for mental health.

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America’s goal is to promote mental health by means of prevention, early identification/intervention, and care/treatment of mental health conditions

Within the site’s Living Well link, you’ll find resources for: 

  • Living your life well: top 10 tools, stress screener, fast facts about stress and more.
  • Living your life well on campus: special resources for college students.
  • Living your life well at work: work/life balance, signs of a healthy workplace, and more.
  • Complementary medicine:  alternative medicine options for mental health conditions.

Within the Finding Help link, you’ll find:

  • Screening tools for common mental health conditions
  • Available treatment options
  • MHA affiliates in your community/area
  • Tools and other resources to help with recovery from a mental health condition

The Mental Health Information link provides discussions about mental health conditions from A – Z.  If you want to make a difference, you can join MHA’s advocacy network.

Psych Central 

This website has been around since 1995, and defines itself as “today’s modern voice for mental health information, emotional support and advocacy.”  Psych Central offers over 200 online support groups.

Psych Central’s blog offers a wide variety of articles covering many topics.  Current posts included:  The Worry List, More Creative Ways to Manage Sadness and Anxiety, and Raising Boys to Become Confident Men, just to name a few.

This site also offers screening tools for a variety of mental health disorders and symptoms, an Ask the Therapist feature, daily news and research updates; and of course, where to find help when you need it.

MentalHealth.gov

The content at this site comes from several governmental sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FindYouthInfo.gov, Medline Plus and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

MentalHealth.gov links include: The Basics (What is Mental Health, Myths & Facts, Recovery is Possible) – What to Look For (focuses on the different types of mental health disorders along with information about suicide) – Talk about Mental Health (how to start the conversation about mental health disorders and get needed support) – How to Get Help – (resources for getting immediate help, help for veterans and their families, etc.)

This site also provides the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 and the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1). 

 

 

Is Depression in Old Age Normal?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 54 – 5/6/15
I originally wrote this post back in 2011, but wanted to re-post it for Mental Health Month, and to honor my mom, who would have been 100 in March of this year. 
Mom Young
Way back in the early eighties, my mom moved from the house she had lived in for 30+ years to move into a senior citizen apartment complex that had recently been built in her neighborhood.  At the time, I remember her being sad about leaving her home, yet excited at the prospect of starting a “new life” in her apartment.
Mom had fun there: Meeting new friends, having family parties in the community room, dressing up in costumes for the annual Halloween parties, and babysitting her younger grandkids in her compact apartment with its Oriental decor (who knows, maybe in a previous life, she was Asian. In her current life, though, she was a little Polish-American lady who could play the harmonica and fried up a heluva potato pancake).
 
She’d travel to Arizona, alone on a plane, to visit my sister and brother-in-law. On the plane, she’d always meet a new friend.  I was always amazed at how easily she made friends. She’d go on bus trips with her friends or close relatives. She enjoyed her life. 

Fast forward several years.  As old age caught up with her, mom had to move from her apartment to an assisted living facility.  She not only had to give up many of her treasured possessions (there isn’t too much you can fit into a room shared with two other ladies) she also lost her sense of independence.  She grew more dependent on her children and was in and out of the hospital for various complications from heart disease and diabetes.  I can imagine that she felt hopeless and at a loss at how to regain her sense of self.

I remember her saying things like “I don’t belong here; these people are OLD, and they’re all senile! (Mind you, she was around 80 when she moved into the facility.)  I’m pretty certain that every one of them wasn’t senile, but that’s how she saw it.
It took her a long time to adjust. In fact, I’m not sure she ever did. In the back of her mind, she clung to the thought of going back to her old life. I believe she became depressed.  She never really bounced back and became her “old self” again. She suffered even further when her only son, Joe, died at the age of 50, a week after she moved into a nursing facility in Northern Michigan.
 
Of course, I’m no mental health expert, just a daughter who realized that the mom she knew, who used to sing and hum around the house, no reason needed, wasn’t singing anymore. Is it just a “given” that older people become depressed?The Help Guide points out that while depression is not a normal part of aging, it often occurs when older people face major losses or painful changes in their life, such as my mom did.
Older people often become more isolated; health problems may become more prevalent; they may fear death, or may have lost their spouse or other loved ones.  While some people may be more resilient in facing these kinds of problems, others aren’t so lucky. As WebMD points out in its article, Depression in the Elderly, other risk factors include: living alone, being a woman, certain medications for health conditions, living with chronic pain, a family history of depression, and more.
WebMD also indicates that often, the elderly don’t get treatment for their depression. One of the reasons for this is that their symptoms differ from those of younger people who are depressed, so the depression may not be recognized as such. 
I realize now that my siblings and I should have paid more attention to her emotional suffering. We figured, well, she’s being taken care of, she’s safe in this assisted living facility – she just needs to “adjust.”  If we had taken the time to read up on the symptoms of elderly depression, we may have realized she needed more than just time to adjust. We could have gotten her the help she needed. 
My mom’sgolden yearswere diminished by her emotional suffering.  But I think she knew, despite her sadness, that she was loved by her family and friends – particularly her older grandkids, who remembered a grandma that understood them better than their own parents did, and loved them unconditionally.

For Further Reading:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Secrets of Centenarians

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 52  

bea

5/1/15 Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Want to live to be 100?  You may want to take some advice from the centenarians who were polled (along with 65-year-old baby boomers) who were polled last year in UnitedHealth Group’s 9th annual 100@100 SurveyThe survey examined their health “secrets,” along with their attitudes about aging and their lifestyles. 

Not surprisingly, both the 65-year-old group and the 100 year olds feel younger than their chronological age.  While this fact may surprise younger people (you know, the ones who think 30 is like, beyond ancient), it’s certainly not news to Bea, who is a couple years this side of 60 and feels about 35! 

The “secrets” that the centenarians and baby boomers revealed aren’t too surprising, either. According to those polled:  

  • A positive attitude, and an ability to laugh at life, are key factors to good health in old age. (This has been proven again and again in scientific research – see below for additional reading)
  • Taking a pro-active approach to health by getting annual physicals, along with annual eye exams is another key to maintaining health and wellness. 
  • Finally:  Exercise, exercise, exercise! Good for both brain and body.  Both the 65-year-old group and the centenarians got regular exercise – which included strength training, walking, biking, even running. 

Then again, longevity could just be a matter of plain old luck.

Take a look at this year’s 100@100 survey, which polled centenarians and 10 year olds! 

Bea says:  Add Years to your Life, and Life to your Years

For further reading:http://beaboomerswellness.com/?p=98

Older People Become What They Think 

Attitudes about Aging Affect Longevity, Study Says

Sources:

Advisor/Source newspaper, (May 25, 2014). Centenarians reveal their secrets to a long, happy life. 

UnitedHealthcare website 

 

 

 

Got 10 Minutes or More? Take a (brisk) Walk for your Good Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 38– 3/30/15

 

 c161695_s

Did you know that April , 2015 is the 9th annual National Walking Day? This awareness day is an initiative from the American Heart Association

Walking is a great exercise to start in the springtime. The air is fresh and clean, tulips and daffodils peek out from neighborhood lawns, dog and Canadian geese poop are no longer hidden by the snow. . . (Yikes!  Sorry, that’s one of the not so nice things about walking in the early spring – just watch where yer walkin’) 

According to physician Joan Dorn, who’s the Chief of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) physical activity and health branch, walking is one of the best ways to add physical activity to your life. * And Bea thinks so too!  

What can walking do for you?  Take a look at these benefits:

  • Brisk walking (3-4 miles per hour) for an hour every day can cut a high-risk adult’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 60%.
  • Brisk walking can improve your heart health.  Walking 30 – 60 minutes a day, for five days a week, can cut your risk of heart disease by 40%.** It can also help protect you from high blood pressure and strokes. 
  • Walking can boost mood, decrease disability rates for seniors, reduce high blood pressure, relieve osteoporosis and arthritis and back pain.
  • Walking regularly can help protect your brain, staving off memory loss.
  • Walking helps you keep fit and burn fat – but remember to challenge yourself; the same routine day in and day out will eventually cause weight loss to plateau. You need to increase intensity and shake up your routine. 

Walking is also one of the easiest exercise programs to start.  Why?  Well, walking is inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.  It doesn’t cause grief to your knees or feet.  In good weather, you can walk outside and get fresh air and sunshine at the same time.  When it’s raining or snowing, try power walking DVDs (Leslie Sansone, a popular fitness expert, has a wide variety of DVDs, check her out on Amazon.)

Move it or lose it, that’s my theory.  We have two legs and one posterior.  If we were meant to sit all the time, we’d have two butts and one leg! Now how weird would that be?

What if you can’t walk? Chair Exercises and Limited Mobility Fitness 

Sources:

*USA Weekend, Sep 21-23, 2012. The Power of Walking (Kelly Bothum)

 **Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Walking is Good for your Heart.

 

 

Brain Awareness Week (March 16 – 22)

 

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 33 – 3/18/15

I recently saw the movie, Still Alice. In the movie, Julianne Moore plays Alice, a woman who struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In her case, it was familial; she carried the gene for AD. This neurological disease has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, along with other modifiable risk factors.  In a recent bulletin, the AARP pointed out that the cases and costs of AD continue to rise, with no end in sight.*

Since then, I’ve been thinking about my brain.  Or should I say, I’ve been thinking about my brain’s health. I’ve written posts about the aging brain in years past. In my blog, past articles  have taken a lighthearted approach. But in truth, losing my brain functions is one of those things I do take seriously, and is the thing I fear most about aging

Which brings me to Brain Awareness Week, a worldwide initiative which was started by the Dana Foundation 20 years ago. This foundation provides information about the brain to the public, and also helps advance brain health research in a variety of ways. This provides us with the opportunity to learn about the strides that scientists are making to protect our brain health. Brain Awareness Week is just the start; according to the Scientific American website, the Dana Foundation continues brain awareness activities year-round. 

How to get involved with Brain Awareness Week: Check out the Society for Neuroscience Brain Awareness Campaign.  

I’ve recently joined to become an advocate of Alzheimer’s research – please join me.  We can make a difference! You can become a chamption at ActionAlz

You can follow the Alzheimer’s Association on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/actionalz

I’ve found some interesting reading about the brain: 

  • This article from The Human Memory website, describes the three major parts of the brain. This website has some interesting reading and includes articles about the different types of memory, memory disorders, types of memory, etc. 
  • The Amen Clinic talks about super foods for the brain.
  • Brain Healthy Recipes from BrainHQ at the Posit Science website

Source: 

*Reid, T.R. Where’s the War on Alzheimer’s? AARP Bulletin.  January – February 2015.  

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

How to Fight Belly Fat

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 27 – 3/4/15

Want to fight that muffin top?  While some excess weight around the abdoment may not be dangerous, visceral (or deep) fat surrounds our internal organs and causes a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.  Other dangers of visceral fat include heart disease and stroke.  

And here’s a surprising fact from WebMD:  even thin people can have deep fat deposits, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise.*

How to fight back:

  • Eat high fiber foodsNatural sources of fiber include:  apples with the skin, pears with the skin, black beans (and of course, other varieties as well), popcorn, barley, whole wheat bread, etc.  (Just be sure to add fiber to your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to go with it).  
  • Avoid processed and “white foods,” along with bad fats.  
  • Get that cardio exercise – Start a moderate aerobic workout plan, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 or more days each week.  If you’re already active, or want faster results, jog or do other types of vigorous exercises.  
  • Strength train – Experts point out that aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat.   Strength training helps build muscle, and that can boost your metabolism and help you burn off more fat.  
  • Find ways to get a good night’s sleep – Lack of sleep has been linked to abdominal fat gain
  • Finally, learn to manage stress. Studies have shown that uncontrolled stress can also lead to additional belly fat, along with 
  • Studies have shown that high levels of uncontrolled stress can also lead to more belly fat as well as a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

This slideshow from Everyday Health talks about ways that menopausal women can fight belly fat.

For Further Reading: 

Is there “One Trick” to Losing Belly Fat? (Sorry, but the answer is “No”)

The Truth about Belly Fat

How and Why To Lose Belly Fat

Source:

* Collins, S. The Truth About Belly Fat. WebMD. Reviewed March 20, 2014

5 Reasons to Try Meditation for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 20 – 2/18/15

 Asian woman meditating.

(1) Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden).  Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.  Bea is one of those women, and she’s ready to try meditation to get her zzzzzz’s back! 

(2) Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

(3) Meditation provides other mental health benefits:  an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in this article from The Art of Living

(4) Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.  

(5) Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, as described in this article from the UCLA newsroom.

Source:

Aschwanden, Christie. (Nov 2014). Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine.

For Further Reading: 

Want to try Guided Meditation?  Bea downloaded a guided meditation album onto her Ipod, but there are free options online as well:  

 UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

If you search YouTube, “guided meditations,” you’ll also find some good options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.medicaldaily.com/mental-health-benefits-meditation-itll-alter-your-brains-grey-matter-and-improve-319298

How to Build Resilience for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 16 – 2/9/15

The thundercloud

Vital aging requires the ability to bounce back and weather life’s storms.  Some of us appear to have a natural resilience, coping with life’s changes and losses and coming back stronger than ever.  Others aren’t as lucky.

However, when you think about it, there’s often an important lesson, and even unexpected rewards that bloom from difficult times in life.  We just have to be able to see beyond the darkness of that moment. 

Research has shown that we can all learn how to become resilient, if we’re willing to try.   

Check out Bea’s strategies for building resilience, in her Building Resilience – 6 Tips article from EzineArticles.com 

 

 

Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them (Rabindranath Tagore)